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remarkable is the abundance of the precious metals possessed by them. Solomon especially was celebrated for this. Many of the facts recorded concerning him have not failed to arrest the attention, and to awaken the curiosity of every thoughtful reader of inspired history. This curiosity has been strongly felt in childhood and in youth ; and even when the intellect has become more expanded, persons have not been able to contemplate these prodigious heaps of glittering treasure without surprise and admiration. Such, we can well remember, were once our own ideas and emotions. The talents of gold which this monarch had were almost innumerable. That precious metal came into his hands to such an extraordinary degree, and so profusely was it appropriated, as to be nothing accounted of in his days. The restricted nature of our design will not allow us to notice the amazing quantity employed in the erection and embellishment of the temple. His civil and domestic establishments, which rendered him the wonder of his own age, and have transmitted his name to all generations, claim our regard. All the vessels of his house were of pure gold. His chariot, of the wood of Lebanon, had its bottom wrought with gold. Moreover, he made a throne of ivory, overlaying it with the best gold, and attaching to it a footstool of gold. Every thing seemed to be enriched and adorned with this precious substance. He moved literally in a golden circle. On perusing the narrative of these facts, it appears, at first, no easy thing to enter into their reality, and, for a moment, we would almost place them among those things which, if not absolutely incredible, are at least hard to be believed. But on examining those volumes of profane history which refer to other eastern provinces, with their kings and immense establishments, the difficulty fades away, and we learn that approximations to the astonishing wealth and splendour of Solomon were far from being uncommon. They at once transport us in fancy to the very place where
-- the gorgeous East, with richest land,
Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold. In their pages are displayed before us palaces and temples decorated with gold, and provided with furniture, idols, and altars of the same metal. Kings and generals are recorded, and men too, of humbler fame, in the annals of human achievement, whose possessions were almost too vast for calculation. The cases of Gyges, Cræsus, and Attalus, are universally known. But there are instances less familiar, of which one or two may be mentioned. Herodotus, Lib. vii. Cap. 27, speaks of a person named Pythịus, who entertained Xerxes and all his army with great magnificence, who pledged to the king money for the expenses of the war he was prosecuting, and who had previously presented Darius his father with a plane-tree and a vine of gold, τη πλατανίστε τη χρυσέη και τη áut ég. When Pausanias had obtained that brilliant victory at Platæă, over Mardonias, the Persian officer, prohibiting the soldiers from touching the spoil, he commanded the Helots to collect the money into one place. Having dispersed themselves through the camp of the Persians, they found tents re
fulgent with gold and silver, couches like them, goblets, cups, and drinking vessels of gold, besides sacks on carriages, in which there were gold and silver cauldrons: they also stripped the dead of bracelets, chains, and cimeters of gold. Hero. Lib. ix. Cap. 80. Plutarch informs us, that Alexander discovered great quantities of gold and silver in the tent of Darius, whom he had conquered, and also basins, vials, boxes, and other vases, finely wrought in gold. In reflecting upon these and other illustrations which might be brought forward, the mind is led to receive with confidence every statement having reference to " Solomon in all his glory." Although this elevated man was more distinguished for his wisdom as a ruler, and for his integrity as a judge, than for any commanding talents as a warrior, he had still a military establishment; and it might be antecedently supposed that he would devote some portion of his gold towards increasing the beauty and grandeur of its character. Accordingly we are told that he made two hundred targets of beaten gold, each containing six hundred shekels, equal to twentyfive pounds, troy weight, and each being worth, at the lowest computation, £750 sterling. To these were added three hundred shields of beaten gold, seventy-two shekels, or three pounds, being allotted to each, and each, therefore, equal in worth to £90 sterling. It has been commonly thought that these were made for display rather than for use. We are not sure that there is any real ground for this idea. The mere fact of their being hung up in his sumptuous habitation by. no means proves it; that might arise from the circumstance, that the reign of this monarch was rendered glorious more by the triumphs of peace than by those of war. But then it is said, gold is a comparatively soft metal, and moulded into the form of a shield would not resist the stroke of the descending sword, or the swiftly flying arrow. That it is not so hard as iron or brass we admit, and that the darts of the ancients were sharply pointed and hurled with great power, we are also prepared to acknowledge. Granting, however, all this, does the conclusion to which we have adverted inevitably follow? We feel strongly inclined to doubt this. That our doubt is not altogether unfounded, will appear from the facts related in 2 Sam. viii. 3.–12. Let any diligent student of the sacred volume fairly weigh them, and we are greatly mistaken if he will not coincide with us in the opinion, that the golden shields of Solomon were not made simply to be gazed at, but to afford some real protection in the hour of threatened peril. It would appear that David vanquished Hadadezer, king of Zobah; and having done this, he “ took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer, and brought them to Jerusalem.” Were not these shields, beyond all question, used for defence? And if so, why might not those of Solomon be mainly intended for the same purpose ? A part of the spoil taken by David, on this occasion, was dedicated to the Lord. The shields were, most probably, comprehended in this offering, and were possibly the very same to which allusion is made in the following words of Solomon's Song: “ The tower of David builded foran armoury, whereon there hanged a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.” Moreover, positive evidence is not wanting to
show that gold was employed in the weapons and in the armour of the warriors of old. We have already seen that cimeters of gold were taken from the soldiers who fell at Platæa. There is also a very remarkable passage in Herodotus, Lib. i. Cap. 215, which may still more clearly elucidate this point. The historian thus writes : “They (the Massagetæ,)have bows, spears, and battle-axes; they make great use both of gold and brass. Their spears, arrow-points, and battle-axes are made of brass; their helmets, girdles, and breast-plates are adorned with gold. Round the chests of their horses, also, they bind plates of brass, whilst their reins, bits, and other trappings, are plated with gold.” From this relation it plainly appears that gold was made use of in the manufacture and decoration of the implements of war. Other proofs and illustrations will be presently introduced. But we have said that brass only is mentioned. This metal seems to have been exceedingly plentiful in the East in ancient times. The shields of gold made by Solomon descended to the possession of Rehoboam his son. He did not, however, retain them long. In 1 Kings xiv. 26, we are told that Shishak, king of Egypt, took them all away. Rehoboam immediately strove to repair the loss by making shields of brass in their stead. Nor must we overlook Goliath, the Philistine champion, whose military dress and bearing are so vividly described. When going forth to defy “ the armies of the living God, he had a helmet of brass upon his head, and a target of brass between his shoulders, and one bearing a shield went before him," which shield was, in all probability, of the same material. A truly formidable antagonist, both in his stature, his armour, and his weapons! What courage, ardour, and hope must have pervaded the soul of the ruddy lad of Bethlehem, enabling him not merely to challenge this terrible and vaunting foe, but to meet him without dismay, and with the fullest persuasion that he should uickly lay him prostrate in the dust!
(To be concluded in our next.)
MICHAEL ANGELO'S SONNET TO THE DEITY.
The prayers I make will then be sweet indeed,
Poetical Works of Willium Wordsworth, vol. 3. . ON HOME MISSIONS.
(To the Editor.) DEAR SIR, I have wished for a considerable time to direct the attention of your readers to the subject of Home Missions. The circular lately sent out by the Committee of the Home Missionary Society has induced me to write. That appeal is now before the Christian public. How it will be responded to I cannot say, Judging however from the past, I fear it will not make that impression generally which a statement of our country's religious necessities. should produce. A few devoted and liberal individuals may give largely--but the masses of our people, though professors of religion, will not, I fear, answer the call with equal liberality.
But apart from all this, the subject is so important in itself and has such a direct bearing on the great questions that at present agitate the public mind, that you will perhaps allow me room for a few remarks. My desire is to elicit further observations from some of your numerous correspondents who have considered the subject, and who may remove some of the difficulties which at present surround it.
The first thing that presses itself on my mind is the fact—that there are several millions of our countrymen who at the present time are destitute of the preaching of the gospel; their legal teachers are themselves ignorant of spiritual religion; and no other class or classes of religious instructors are supplying this lack of service. These vast multitudes are not only to be found in masses in our cities and larger towns, but are also scattered through the breadth and length of the land; a portion of them in the solitary farm-house, in the secluded hamlet, or in the retired village.
Again I perceive that the prejudice against missionary efforts at home has been much removed, and yet I do not see advantage taken of that fact, to enlarge the efforts of christian benevolence for lessening the great evil already referred to..
There is perhaps no subject on which a greater change has taken place in the public mind than on this. Twenty years ago, or even less, the very name of the Home Missionary Society excited the scorn and opposition of a large portion of the community. Our county associations could not publish their reports and faithfully describe the condition of the villages around them, or refer in general terms to the moral destitution of Britain, without being accused of fraud, or at least of gross exaggeration; of libelling religious England, and indirectly condemning the national establishmentwhich had a church and a legal apparatus in every parish, for giving religious instruction. Even Christians were slow to believe such heavy charges against their country, and hesitated greatly before they sanctioned such uncalled for efforts at home,
What is now the state of public opinion on this very subject? We all know that stronger descriptions of moral and religious destitutions are made by those in church authority than were ever made by
Dissenters. That though we represented the lack of religious instruction as great, yet our statements are feeble compared with the appalling documents published by legal ecclesiastical rulers; documents more disgraceful, I would say, to the national church of this realm, than any that were ever supplied by the most sectarian body of nonconformists in our land. We, as a body, admitted and rejoiced in the labours and success of the evangelical clergy, and marked the places in which they laboured, as bright and cheering spots in the moral desert. The view of these tended to lessen in our minds the extent of destitution, and gave us some hope respecting the future. We looked upon them as co-workers with ourselves in the common cause, and as worthy of all honour as the servants of Christ; especially while they pursued their labours amidst the contempt and opposition of the largest section of their own church.
But those high and mighty men who generally sit on Episcopal thrones, admit none to be coadjutors in the work of instructing Englishmen, but the clergy of their own sect; they are too elevated to mark the lowly efforts of the village preacher, nay, even the metropolitan pastor, chosen and beloved by a numerous and intelligent flock; who along with him are spreading around them the knowledge of Christ, are to these lordly men a nonentity. The consequence is, that the appeal for aiding the erection of churches, is far more humiliating to the national church than any exposure ever made, by the bitterest enemy of that secular establishment. The statistics on which the appeal rests exclude Dissentere, so that the very foundation of the appeal is either a fraud or an act of uncharitable bigotry and sectarian exclusiveness
Take then their own showing of the state of England, and what a spectacle is presented. Tell it not in Gath, that the wealthiest church in the world, the church that embraces (according to some,) so much learning, so much religion, so much influence, so much authority; has, after the labours of three centuries, left the masses of Englishmen, in cities and towns, irreligious and vicious, and with respect to the country, has left whole districts grossly ignorant of true religion ! So dark is the picture, that out of 12 or 14,000 state teachers, not 3000 are reputed to be evangelical. The people also, who have been instructed, are yet such babes in religious knowledge ; so ignorant of the gospel; so unfit to judge for themselves on religious subjects; that not one congregation has expressed a wish to exercise the privilege of choosing its own minister. Neither have bishops, deans, and chapters, or colleges, as yet considered a single congregation sufficiently instructed, to warrant them to trust the choice of a pastor to the people themselves ! Still does the criminal system of patronage pervade the national church, demoralizing the clergy and destroying the people. Still do we read of the sale of livings; cures of souls, being as regularly bought and sold in the market, as are the bodies of the oppressed slaves of America. So much for the national system of providing religious instruction for a whole people!
But still we hail the admissions of those in authority, as it regards the need of Christian instruction, as a decided confirmation of our