« PoprzedniaDalej »
changed into blood, so that the people with difficulty found anything to drink; the houses were infested with frogs; troublesome insects filled all places to the destruction of every one's repose. God afflicted both men and animals with terrible ulcers, causing mortality in both; the harvest was ravaged by hail, and the portion which remained was devoured by innumerable swarms of locusts, with which the whole surface of the earth was covered: Egypt was obscured with a darkness so dense, that nothing could be seen; and, finally, God sent his angel, who, in one night, slew the first-born of the Egyptians throughout the land, from the first-born of Pharaoh on the throne, to the first-born of the captive in the dungeon, and of the lowest domestic in the house. Pharaoh, after this terrible chastisement, listened to the voice of God, and permitted the Israelites to leave Egypt. The waters of the Red Sea divided to afford them a passage, and shortly after they had passed over, the lifeless bodies of their pursuers, Pharaoh and his soldiers, floated on the waves, in punishment of having repented of submission to the commands of God, who thus inexorably chastised the attempt made to intercept the fugitives.
VI. THE PEOPLE IN THE DESERT.-THE LAW.-THE ENTRANCE INTO THE PROMISED LAND.-JOSHUA. DAVID.-SOLOMON.-THE TEMPLE.-THE SCHISM OF JEROBOAM.-THE CAPTIVITY OF BABYLON.— THE PROPHECIES.-THE EXPECTATION OF CHRIST.
The Israelites remained forty years in the desert, through which they had to pass on their way to Canaan, or the promised land. God protected them; manna was sent from heaven for their food, and a dry rock, struck by the hand of
Moses, supplied them abundantly with water. The Almighty manifested himself to them on Mount Sinai, by an astounding demonstration of his majesty and power. He, in the midst of thunder and lightning, wrote down the ten commandments, which we call the decalogue, on two tables of stone; and also gave those laws under which they were to live in the land of Canaan, until the coming of Christ.
The time having arrived wherein God had resolved to give that land to the Israelites which he had promised to their fathers, Moses led them in sight of it. Joshua took possession of it, and divided it amongst the twelve tribes. Afterwards God raised up David, who completed its conquest; royalty was established in his family, and God promised that from his race the Saviour should be born, he being of the tribe of Judah, of which tribe, according to the prophecy of Jacob, the Messiah was to come.
David in his psalms, sung the wonders of the promised Saviour, and saw him prefigured in the person of his son and successor Solomon.
During the reign of Solomon the temple was built in Jerusalem, and the holy city was the type or figure of the Christian Church. Solomon was not faithful to God, and his kingdom was divided under Rehoboam his son and successor.
Of the twelve tribes there were ten who separated themselves from the temple and the house of David, to whom God had given the kingdom. Jeroboam was the chief of these rebels. This is the type or figure of those schismatics and their founders, who separate themselves from the church. God cast them off, and their name is lost. The tribe of Judah was the leader of those who preserved their faith.
But the Jews often forgot the God of their fathers, and their infidelities drew upon them many chastisements. In consequence of the im
pieties of Achaz and Manasses, kings of Judah, God sent Nebuchodonoser, king of Babylon, to punish the ingratitude of his people; Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple reduced to ashes, and the people led captive to Babylon.
But God always remembered his ancient mercy, and the promises which he had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. After seventy years captivity, he gathered together his scattered people, and led them back into the land of their forefathers. Jerusalem was restored, and the temple rebuilt on its former ruins. Cyrus, king of Persia, was chosen by God to accomplish this work.
Esdras and Nehemiah superintended it under the government of the kings of Persia. At this time, and during succeeding ages, God never ceased sending prophets, who instructed the people, and encouraged the servants of God in their adherence to his worship.
As a body they predicted the eternal reign, as well as the sufferings of Christ, and the people lived in expectation of these events.
VII.-THE BIRTH OF JESUS CHRIST.-HIS LIFE.HIS DEATH.
For a very considerable portion of the first four thousand years, the world was overspread with the dark shades of ignorance, and God was known only in Judea, at that period the smallest nation in the world.
But at length the happy period for our Saviour's coming arrived, and God sent into the world his own beloved Son, "The Word made Flesh."
The tidings of his coming were announced to
Mary, who was to be his mother, and yet remained always a virgin. She believed, and the Son of God was conceived in her womb. He was born at Bethlehem; was circumcised, and named Jesus, which signifies "Saviour." He lived in a state of obedience to Mary his mother, and to Joseph his reputed father. About the age of thirty he was baptized by St. John the Baptist. He preached in Judea, and announced the Gospel, or good tidings, that is to say, the remission of sins and eternal life to those who should believe in him, and live according to the precepts of the new law which he taught.
In order to lay the foundation of his Church, Christ called the twelve Apostles and appointed St. Peter the chief. Meantime the jealousy of priests, Pharisees, and doctors of the law, was excited against him, because he refuted their errors and reproved their hypocrisy. At length he was crucified on Calvary, in the vicinity of Jerusalem, between two thieves. The Jews continued to insult him in his dying agonies, and when he cried out saying, "I thirst," they presented to him a sponge dipped in vinegar and gall. All that was written of him in the psalms and prophecies, was accomplished; he expired on the cross; his body was put into the sepulchre; his soul descended into those lower regions, whence he delivered the holy ones who had been there awaiting his coming, and on the third day reunited his soul and body. On that very day Jesus Christ, now risen from the grave, manifested himself to his unbelieving disciples; they saw and touched his wounds, they put into them their fingers and their hands, and they were convinced that he had truly risen. During forty days he continued to appear. He spoke to them, he instructed them, he sent his twelve Apostles throughout the world, to be the founders of Christian Churches, and the origin of those
pastors who were to govern them to the end of the world; he ascended into heaven in their presence. There he is now seated at the right hand of his Father, and all power is given to him in heaven and on earth.
VIII.-DESCENT OF THE HOLY GHOST, AND THE
Fifty days after Easter, and on the day of Pentecost, Jesus Christ sent down the Holy Spirit whom he had promised. The Apostles were animated with courage, and immediately began to announce throughout the world, Jesus Christ risen from the dead, and the remission of sins in his name, and through his blood.
In a short time they preached the gospel in all places, and shed their blood to testify its truth. The emperor Nero, the most infamous and cruel of princes, was the first persecutor of the church, and by his orders Saints Peter and Paul were martyred at Rome.
Immediately after this first persecution, war was declared against the Jews, who had prejudiced the Roman people against the saints, and had delivered up the Apostles to the emperors.
This time Jerusalem was utterly destroyed, the temple was consumed a second time by fire, and the Jews perished by the sword. Thus they experienced the effect of the curse which they had invoked upon themselves and their children, when they clamoured for the death of our Saviour, saying, "Let his blood be upon us, and upon our children."
The vengeance of God still pursued them, and every where they became captives and vagabonds.