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CHRISTIAN PARLOR MAGAZINE.
THE brief narrative of Jephthah and his daughter, contained in little more than one chapter of the book of Judges, has elicited not a little discussion. The sacrifice of a daughter by her father, in compliance with a rash vow, is so abhorrent to the feelings of humanity, that some have attempted to prove, that instead of being sacrificed as a burnt offering, she was only dedicated to a life of virgin celibacy. This seems to us a fancy which nothing in the narration justifies. Perhaps writers are led to this exposition of the account, by a desire to free the Bible from an imputation of sanctioning cruelty; a sanction supposed to be found in the simple absence of any condemnatory remark by the sacred penman. But the Bible student should be aware that in the historic parts of the sacred volume, where wrong is visited by no special judgments, the writers give only facts without moral comments. In brevity of narration and rigid adherence to simple facts, as they occurred, leaving the reader to judge of their moral character by instructions gained from its preceptive parts, the historical books of the Bible are peculiar. From the mere absence of expressed condemnation, no inference is to be drawn of the divine approbation of any act. Even in relation to the sins of David, the historian makes not a remark of his own-he simply details facts.
We have no occasion then to wrest from its obvious meaning, the simple narration of this tragic event. There is nothing to restrain us
VOL. I. NO. III.
from judging of it according to its real moral character.
Jephthah was an illegitimate child of a base woman. He had for this reason been driven by his brethren away from the land of his fathers. What his early character may have been, we have little means of judging. But we may well infer, that brought up, probably, by such a mother, there was a want of that moral training which would insure virtuous and religious principles. If his early life had been vicious, it was but the natural result of his parentage. That he possessed talents and courage of no ordinary stamp, is evident from his brief history. And these may have awakened envious feelings with his brethren, and uniting with other causes may have produced his banishment. It is not unlikely that he became the head of a band of outlaws, and acquired character as a warrior by his successes. He probably became a religious man before being called to head the army of Israel against the children of Ammon. There is no reason to believe that he had ever been an idolator, though the Jews, at this period, were frequently drawn away to the worship of the heathen deities of surrounding nations. But with his religion a large share of superstition was evidently intermingled. Of the power of the true God, and of his controlling Providence, and of his own dependence upon him, he was well aware. But of the moral attributes of this Being; of the true character of his law, and of the acts of devotion
which would be pleasing to him, he was certainly to some extent--probably to a very great extent-ignorant. His vow was clearly a superstitious attempt to purchase the favor of the Almighty for his enterprise.
The period of Jephthah's life was a gloomy one in the annals of the Jewish nation. Only enough of the history of this people, during a long series of years under the judges, has come down to us to make visible the moral and intellectual darkness. Around them the nations were sunk in the grossest idolatry and superstitions, and while they themselves by turns acknowledged Jehovah as their Lord, we have no reason to believe that his law, in its spirituality, had any strong influence on their hearts. That a man born at such a period, of such parentage, with a childhood and youth probably so neglected, and in after years leading a life at the head of what now would be termed a lawless banditti, should have, with his religion, a large infusion of superstition, cannot be surprising. It was this that led to the rash vow and to its impious fulfilment.
A father sacrificing his own daughter as an acknowledgment of favor received from the merciful God, who had said amidst the thunders of Sinai, "Thou shalt not kill!" True Religion is clothed in garments of mercy and loveliness. It teaches the heart the tenderest sympathy, and awakens its kindest emotions. It binds man to his fellow by the ties of affection. Good will to men is its ever present, active spirit. It substitutes in the human heart the gentleness of the lamb for the cruelty of the tiger. It sanctifies the affection between parent and child, and warms it into heavenly ardor. It binds together the family by ties blessed with Heaven's seal. It brings the soul into rapt communion with infinite purity and love. But superstition is earth in its grossness, struggling to inherit heaven in its glory. It would not win the joys of the upper world by meekness, but would purchase them with a price. It vainly hopes to win the favor of the Almighty by deeds of penance :-by self-inflicted torture to atone for moral guilt. It impiously points the great Creator to the gashes and rents of the flesh, to the quivering nerves, to the sundered ties of family and affection, as merits by which a place in his celestial courts is to be won. It does not sanctify, but it destroys nature in the heart. Spurning unbought mercy, it comes with abominations in its hand to purchase the favor of Jehovah. Mistaking the true God, it enthrones a demon of cruelty in his
place, and offers on his altar the bloody sacrifices of Moloch.
We cannot, even at this distant day, but mourn that the light of the true religion had not sufficient power to drive out the darkness of superstition in Jephthah's mind. A better instructed conscience had saved his heart a pang which all the honors clustering on his head could not assuage. A daughter-an only child, to be offered up by a father's hand a bloody sacrifice! That indeed was a piety of no ordinary depth, however mistaken, which could induce a girl in the bright morning of life, when her father, from being an outcast, had just been raised to the highest power in Israel, to voluntarily forego all the promised joys of earthly existence, in compliance with the mistaken ideas of her father's duty. She asks but two months to wander up and down on the mountains and to sigh with vain regrets that in being cut off, she leaves her father childless-with no descendant on whom his name or his honors may descend. Her filial obedience her readiness to be offered up as a burnt sacrifice rather than permit her father to break his vow, might well excite the deep sympathies of the Jewish maidens. There was, doubtless, some sustaining influence in the conviction in Jephthah's mind, that he was performing a religious duty in taking the life of a lovely and only child; but the iron must have entered his soul. He survived this cruel sacrifice only six years. It is not unlikely, that the nerves of the warrior, though strong enough to make this bloody offering, yet received a shock from which no art or medicine could restore them. If the story of his future life could be told us, we might learn that wasting grief preyed on his heart till the vital energies yielded in the conflict. That daughter in her living features, in the loveliness of her filial affection, and in her cruel death, must have been ever present to his mind. Sleeping or waking-at home or in the field of battle, she must have been in vision before him.
And where is the father when he looks on the joyous faces of his young family around him-where is the daughter reading in her father's eyes the tokens of his warm affection— the mother as she presses the infant to her bosom-the brother as he gazes with joyous pride on the glowing cheeks of a sister, but will bless God that his word has banished the superstition which might at once sunder all these hallowed ties? Contrasting the present with the dark ages of the past-our own Chris
A WIFE'S WELCOME.
tian land and institutions with the lands where Moloch and Juggernaut yet reign, we may well clasp the sacred volume to our hearts as the magna charta of present joys and future hopes
-as rich in blessings for the life that now is, and still richer in its promises of the life which is yet to come.
A WIFE'S WELCOME.
"The world well tried-the sweetest thing in life Is the unclouded welcome of a wife."
I BELIEVE that with all my heart. I have tasted some of the sweets of life, and with as keen a relish for them as any one, but I sign to the above declaration, and do not care to know the man who calls it in question.
That welcome has reclaimed many a wanderer on the verge of ruin; has preserved many, who, but for it, would have gone astray; given life and peace to the heart of many a son of toil and care, and made the cot of the poor an Eden.
The want of it has driven many a man to the bowl, the gaming table, the company of the dissolute, to hell. It has made many a home a prison, many a husband an enemy, many a father a tyrant; many children fatherless, and many wives widows, whose fathers or husbands yet live. And when I see a man, neglecting a lovely looking wife, and seeking his pleasure in the haunts of sin, to know whether most to pity or to blame him, I wish to know if the wife of his bosom always gave him the unclouded welcome of a smile, when he entered his own door.
If she did, but he cared not for it-if she spread the wiles of her pure love to twine his heart, while he broke away from the sweet enchantment-if she made it sunshine always in the house, and was cheerful in adversity as well as gay in hours of joy-if she strove to be an angel at the gate to keep him within the Elen that she loved, while he would yield to the song of the Syren and wander from the arms that embraced him, to seek the embrace of others even of the abandoned, then he is a villain hated of God and justly despised of men, And such are many of those whom we see in the road to ruin. The love of a fond wife would have saved them, but they rejected it and deserve to perish.
But if and it is a serious if-if she meets him returning from his day's care and toil, in
the field or the shop, or the study, or the forum, or the senate (it matters not where or what his labors, he flies from them with joy to find repose and peace in the paradise of his own home); but if she whom he loves meets him without the joyous welcome of a glad heart and a sunlit eye, or with a frown, or a look of cold indifference, or the mere absence of delight; if she meets him not with the living, speaking, shining evidence that her heart leaps with gladness when its lord has come, it is not strange to me that his heart sinks, and he seeks for pleasures where he looks not for love. He can be happy without love abroad, but home, though a heaven full of angels, without love is hell.
"Love is a thing of frail and delicate growth; Soon checked, soon fostered, feeble and yet
It will endure much, suffer long and bear
And yet mount heavenward; but not the less
There is truth as well as poetry in this, and oft the domestic circle where poetry never had a worshipper, has felt the sad power of this truth. A word, a look" has been the deathblow of love that shed bliss in that circle, and has driven a fond husband forth to seek relief for a wounded spirit in scenes that allure to destroy. Mrs. Ellis, in her "Wives of England," has most happily drawn the portrait of a wife as she should be, "A BEING TO COME HOME To." It is not wit, nor beauty, nor wealth, nor religion, that makes a wife a crown of rejoicing to her husband. Nor all these combined. A wife may have them all and love her husband not; give him an unclouded welcome never; make his house no home.
"Oh! man may bear with suffering; his heart
Is a strong thing and godlike in the grasp
When such a thought as this is put into print, the most of readers laugh at it, as the soft sentimentalism of a young poet, but every family has felt and proved its truth. If LOVE dwell not there, joy is also a stranger; and if LOVE hath his home in that house, "a word or look" may drive it far away. Thompson, the poet of nature, draws the picture of a happy family,
"Where friendship full exerts her softest power, Perfect esteem, enlivened by desire Ineffable, and sympathy of soul;
Thought meeting thought, and will preventing
With boundless confidence; for naught but love Can answer love, and render bliss secure."
Another and a gentler bard has warbled in sweeter, but not more truthful numbers"When kindred hearts in rapture meet, When e'en their plaintive sighs are sweet, Then dwells celestial bliss below, Then flies all thought of care or wo! Then trip the hours o'er summer flowers; Then life glides like a gentle stream; Earth yields no bliss so sweet as this, Though it sometimes fades like an earthly dream."
A dream! O how the memory of the loved and the lost comes up when the broken circle is thus brought back to the soul! And how sweet the thought that in that circle “no word, no look," e'er sent a pang to any heart -that every hour was a summer hour, and
every face the reflection of a bright spirit! How sweet,
"When sorrowing o'er some stone we bend, Which covers all that was a friend," how sweet to know that the memory of an unkind word can never mar the joy we feel when the years of our intercourse with the departed recur to the mind! So let us live; so let us die; so let us remember those whom we loved and who have gone before us.
But whither have I wandered? It was of "the wife's welcome" that I began to write, and following the free current of thought, led by one poet and another, I have run on until the reader has probably left me to run alone. Once more, as the preacher saith, and I am done.
"There is a love that o'er the war
Of jarring passion pours its light, And sheds its influence like a star
That brightest burns in darkest night "It is so true, so fixed, so strong,
It parts not with the parting breath; In the soul's flight 't is borne along
And holds the heart-strings e'en in death "T is never quenched by sorrow's tide ;— No, 't is a flame caught from above,— A tie that death cannot divide ;—
'Tis the bright torch of WEDDED love. "But there is one love, not of earth,
Though sullied by the streaming tear;
And only shines unshaken there.
THE CONFLICT OF AGES.
AMONG the many aspects in which the course of time and the events of history may be viewed, there is an advantage in contemplating them as constituting a great moral conflict, which had its commencement, progress and end, in connection with the destiny of mankind.
This contest turns mainly and primarily upon the infinite and eternal supremacy of God in his absolute and unchangeable kingdom. The unholy and unjust oppose this supremacy, while all the righteous rejoice in it. In connection with the plan of redemption, the con
test concentrates around the cross and throne of the mediator. The vindication of Jehovah's supremacy, the illustration of his perfections; the destinies of immense armies of moral agents; and the settlement of transcendantly important principles for eternal duration-this is the labor, the conflict, and the grand interest involved. The intellect of angels, men and devils, of saints and sinners, of sages and warriors, is all enlisted. The ages of time, the elements of nature, the rise and fall of empires, the movements of every atom, and the revolutions of every world,
THE CONFLICT OF AGES.
are all controlled and directed in view of this majestic war.
This contest began in the rebellion of apostate angels against the moral government of God. When their rebellion was crushed, they were driven from heaven and doomed to endless ΠΟ. Yet for wise and benevolent reasons the Lord deferred their ultimate imprisonment a few thousand years, and they, being instigated with malice, induced the human race to unite in the sad revolt, involving us also in the same condemnation.
Accordingly, when Satan the arch apostate first prevailed in gaining over to his side the parents of our race, the Son of God, pursuing the counsels of Triune Deity, commenced that aggressive war upon the kingdom of darkness, which he has prosecuted until the present time with unremitting vigor, and which he will eventually bring to a final and overwhelming issue.
The war between Christ and Satan may be represented as consisting of four grand campaigns, each including many fearful battles and innumerable combats between individuals in the conflicting armies. Two of these campaigns have already past. The third is drawing to a close; and the fourth and most terrible of them all, lies still before us.
The first campaign lasted about sixteen hundred years. Man being expelled from paradise, the Son in his Divine nature (for as yet he had not assumed the form of a servant) commenced his operations by proclaiming the pardon of sin to the repenting sinner of the human race; by establishing the system of expiatory sacrifices as typical of that which he was afterward to make, and by providing essential instruction for mankind through the natural transmission of patriarchal wisdom, and by special revelation of his will to venerable saints and prophets.
Against this merciful and distinguishing arrangement of sovereign grace, the original Tempter, excited to ungovernable rage, began a furious attack. He concentrated his skill against that bulwark of life, the family constitution, stirred up the elder brother to murder the younger, cut loose the bonds of domestic obligation, steeped the carnal mind in fast cleaving habits of wild voluptuousness, and roused his followers to deeds of ambition, violence and blood.
Strong, gigantic and aspiring men travelled through centuries of blasphemy and crime, scoffing at the church and baptizing the green earth with sanctified blood. Although the Me
diator remonstrated by the ministry of Enoch and of Noah, and poured forth many impressive threatenings, and strove with men even by the Holy Spirit, and translated Enoch to the paradise above, yet the grand Decree succeeded to such an extent that all flesh corrupted his way upon the earth, and the duped and guilty race gathered itself in one mad phalanx against the Lord of Hosts. Then came the last dread battle of that fierce campaign. The divine Messiah, for wise purposes formed in view of the whole war and its vast results, having suffered this deadly foe to carry the standard of open and daring revolt in triumph round the world, now clothed himself with terror, and lifted up the flood-gates of his irresistible wrath. Having stationed Noah in the ark of gophir-wood, and having given his angels charge to waft it gently over the waters, he threw wide open the broad windows of Heaven and called aloud to the fountains of the great deep, that well knew his familiar voice, and beckoned to every crested ocean-wave that leaped impetuously at the sign, until reluctantly and frantic with many agonizing cries, the reeling globe went down beneath the careering waters, and every mountain top wagging its head, shook off the clinging multitudes of rebellious men among the gulphs of an everlasting destruction.
The second campaign in this war lasted about twenty-eight hundred years.
When the waters of the flood abated, the Messiah, having conducted the ransomed family of Noah from the summit of Ararat to the plains of Euphrates, shortened the time of human probation, reëstablished the patriarchal system, and prosecuted again his benevolent work.
Satan, in renewing his malicious attacks, cast his deadly javelins at the family of Noah, kindled the flame of ambition among the descendants of Ham, and prompted the race to erect the tower of Babel as a bond of union and centre of universal dominion. The Messiah beheld their madness, confounded their language, and drove them asunder. The corruptions of the ante-diluvian world were concentrated again upon the plains of Sodom, but the avenging Messiah overwhelmed them with exterminating fire.
The arch-apostate, defeated in his plans of native and savage attack, now invented a great engine of opposition, in the system of pagan idolatry. It was a deep laid scheme, in which all the tact, genius and malice of hell were employed. As the conscience of mankind demanded