Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

fringed with short scattered hairs along the lower half of their thick borders, and beset with a few clumps of short hairs upon the middle of their inner surface. It moves them about with much vivacity. The dark colour of the body extends forwards along the middle of the upper part of the head, and more faintly along the cheeks. The skin around the ears is of a light reddish-brown colour, and almost flesh-coloured round the eyelids, which defend the peculiarly situated and prominent eyes. There is a single groove or fold above the upper eye-lid, and two curved grooves below the lower one. At first sight they seem to be devoid of eye-lashes, but on a close inspection a few very short hairs may be seen on the thick rounded margin of the upper lid. There is a caruncle or protuberance on the middle of the outer surface of the nictitating lid. The colour of the iris is a dark brown; the pupil is a small transversely oblong aperture. The eye-ball is relatively small, and is remarkable for the extent of the movements of protraction and retraction. The nostrils, situated on prominences, which the animal has the power of raising, on the upper part of the broad and massive muzzle, are short oblique slits, guarded by two valves, which can be opened and closed spontaneously, like the eye-lids. The movements of these apertures are most conspicuous when the beast is in its favourite element. The wide mouth is chiefly remarkable for the upward curve of its angles towards the eyes, which gives a quaintly comic expression to the massive countenance. The short and small milk-tusks project a little, and the minute deciduous incisors appear to be sunk in grooves or pits of the thick gums; but the animal would not permit any close examination of his teeth,-withdrawing his head from the attempt, and then threatening to bite. The muzzle is beset with short bristles projecting at pretty regular distances ; several of them appearing to be split into tufts or pencils of short hairs. Extremely fine and short hairs are scattered all over the back and sides, which are not very obvious except upon a close inspection. The tail is short, rather flattened, and generally tapering to an obtuse point.

After lying quietly about an hour, now and then raising its head and swivelling its eye-balls towards the keeper, or playfully opening its huge mouth, and threatening to bite the leg of the chair on which the keeper sat, the hippopotamus rose and walked slowly about its room, and then uttered a loud and short harsh snort four or five times in quick succession, reminding one of the snort of a horse, and ending with an explosive sound like bark. The keeper understood the language, and told us that the animal was expressing its desire to return to its bath. The beast at this time was in one of the compartments of the wing of the giraffe-house, on the opposite side to that in which its bath is prepared. It carries its head rather depressed, and reminded me of a huge prize hog, but with a breadth of muzzle and other features peculiarly its own. The keeper opened the door leading into the giraffe's paddock, and walked through that to the new wing containing the bath, the hippopotamus following like a dog close to his heels. On arriving at the bath-room the animal descended with some deliberation the flight of low steps leading into the water, stooped and drank a little, dipped his head under, and then plunged forwards. It was no sooner in its favourite element than its whole aspect changed, and it seemed inspired with new life and activity : sinking down to the bottom, and moving about submerged for a while, it would suddenly rise with a bound, almost bodily out of the water, and, splashing back, commenced swimming and plunging about with a cetaceous or porpoise-like rolling from side to side, taking in mouthfuls of water and spurting them out again, raising every now and

a

then its huge grotesque head, and biting the woodwork at the margin of the bath. The broad rounded back of the animal being now chiefly in view, it looks a much larger animal than when out of the water. After half an hour spent in this amusement, it quitted the water at the call of its keeper, and followed him back to the sleeping-room, which is well bedded with straw, and where a stuffed sack is provided for its pillow, of which the animal, laving a very short neck, thicker than the head, duly avails itself when it sleeps. When awake it is very impatient of any absence of its favourite attendant, rises on its hind legs, and threatens to break down the wooden fence, by butting and pushing against it in a way strongly significative of its great muscular force. The animal appears to be in perfect health, and breathes, when at rest, slowly and regularly, from three to four times in a minute. Its food is now a kind of porridge of milk and maizemeal. Its appetite has been in no respect diminished by the confinement and inconvenience of the sea-voyage, or by change of climate. It is more than half-weaned from the milk diet, which, it is said, created a scarcity of that article at Cairo, owing to the enormous supply which the cravings of the young animal required whilst under the fostering care of our excellent Chargé d'Affaires, the Hon. Mr. Murray; to whom, after the princely donor, Abbas Pasha, zoologists at home are chiefly indebted for the present opportunity of studying this most remarkable and interesting African mammal, of which no living specimen has been seen in Europe since the period when they were last exhibited by the third Gordian in the Amphitheatre of Imperial Rome.

HORÆ BIBLICÆ.

No. XXXII.-IDLE WORDS. “I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account

thereof in the day of judgment.”—Matt, xii. 36. So solemn a warning, given by the Saviour, must fill every reflecting mind with serious interest; especially as “idle words” are frequently used, -much more frequently than words of wisdom. Some commentators try to soften down the expression by taking “idle" in the sense of malicious, in condemnation of the previous saying of the Pharisees respecting Christ's miracles. Others render it by wicked, because rompòv is substituted by a few Greek mss. of inferior note, and a Greek translator has once used åpyòv to represent the Hebrew term for “polluted.” But these criticisms are unsatisfactory; and it would be hard to prove that åpyòv means anything else than idle or useless, except where it is used for white. This word is only once found in the Septuagint, (1 Kings vi. 7,) where it is figuratively applied to stones. In the Apocrypha it is twice employed in its ordinary meaning ; and in another doubtful passage it is joined to iron. In the New Testament it is also used in Matt. xx. 3,6; 1 Tim. v. 13; Titus i. 12; 2 Peter i. 8; in all which passages it is undoubtedly employed in the common acceptation. Most of the old commentators interpret the passage in this view :—“Every word which does not edify, as unworthy of a Christian man,”—“although it may be good, yet not suited to edification,” —“spoken without any reason, to cause an immoderate laugh,”—“light, frivolous," &c.

The context stands thus : The Pharisees, being unable to deny the wonderful iniracles of our Saviour, attributed them to Satanic agency; that so

they might destroy the reverence which the people entertained for Christ, and even create a prejudice against Him. Christ first exposes the folly of their assertion, and warns them against the awful wickedness of attributing the work of God to the devil. He then charges their evil speaking upon the sinfulness of their nature ; declaring them a “generation of vipers,” whose language well corresponded with their malicious hearts. He employs three figures to show this connexion between thought and word. As fruit is good or bad according to the nature of the tree which bears it, so does the fruit of the lips explain the character of the heart : for words are the issues of thought, and therefore an index of the mind. Again, he likens language to the overflowing of water : for, when the liquid cannot longer remain in the caverns of earth, it breaks forth in a spring, having the same properties as the contents of the reservoir. So, when a man speaks without restraint, his words are the natural ebullition of his spirit; since “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Once more : The furniture of the inner man resembles the contents of a treasury; out of which you cannot bring anything more precious than the stores there deposited. So, it would be unreasonable to expect useful words from a foolish or depraved heart. Now, lest these illustrations should be wrested to a wrong purpose,—and made an excuse for evilspeaking, under the plea, “Since my heart is bad, it is not my fault if my words be bad also,”—Christ gave the multitude to understand that they are responsible for all that they say, and that every word, even an indifferent one, will be reviewed at the day of judgment.

The Greek expression, rendered by “give account,” is found in other parts of the New Testament. Luke xvi. 2: “Give account” (the reckoning) " of thy stewardship.” Acts xix. 40 : “ There being no cause whereby we may give an account” (a sufficient reason) “ for this concourse.” Heb. xiii. 17 : “ They watch for your souls, as they that must give account." (The Minister, as steward of Christ's household, is responsible for the state of the church.) So also Rom. xiv. 12, and 1 Peter iv. 5. These texts do not necessarily imply the idea of condemnation, but of “ rendering a reason ” for what has been done ;-—as in Dan. vi. 2, where it was ordered that the Princes or Satraps should“ give” a regular “account to the Presidents.” So Grotius understood the passage in Matthew as implying that all idle words will “ undergo an examination.” And in verse 37, our Saviour says, “By” (éx, “out of”) “thy words thou shalt be justified, and by” (“out of”) “thy words thou shalt be condemned :" hereby meaning to affirm, that all words (as well as actions) shall be taken into the last account.

There are four moral classes of words spoken by mankind :—good words, proceeding from a right heart, which will be finally approved ; evil words, the fruit of a wrong spirit, which will be condemned; hypocritical words, which will rank along with the most wicked ; (1 Tim. iv. 2 ;) and a large elass of “idle words,” being in themselves neither positively virtuous nor vile, but the morality of which entirely depends upon the motive from which they proceed. Pleasant and agreeable words, of no particular tendency to moral good or evil, may be used for the purpose of amusing children, enlivening the sick or melancholy, and relieving the mind from the oppression of severe or mournful thoughts. These words, though intrinsically useless, may be right in their motive, and useful in their application. But there is a great deal of foolish conversation, proceeding from a silly and badly-furnished heart, which is plainly condemned by Scripture.

This includes “ foolish talking and jesting.” (Ephes. v. 4.)

« Foolish talking, uwpooyia, scurrility, buffoonery, ridicule, or what tends to expose another to contempt. Jesting, eútpanedia, words that can easily be turned to other meanings ; double entendres, &c. ; jests, puns, witty sayings, and mountebank repartees of all kinds.” (A. Clarke.) “Tittletattle "_" wittiness, facetiousness.” (Wesley.) The old commentators also explain these expressions by "facetiousness, scurrility, mimicry, or what is said for the mere purpose of raising laughter--though this was approved of by the heathen philosophers.” But this kind of language is declared by the Apostle to be “not convenient;” not suitable to the character of a Christian; tending to produce a light and trifling disposition, which is inconsistent with working out our salvation with fear and trembling. As the motive for uttering such words is silly or vain, and the effects are impoverishing to spirituality, no good account can be given of them in the day of judgment.

Three plain lessons may be learned from this discourse of our Saviour about the responsibility of malicious and idle words.

1. Words are as important as actions. They are placed on the same level, with respect to the judgment. Scripture condeinns all language that is boisterous, injurious, or insulting ; (Eph. iv. 31 ; Matt. v. 22 ;) and threatens it with the same punishment as murder. The sin of Ananias was one of mental reservation, and was visited in the same way as the lie of Sapphira. Some people speak flippantly of “white lies,” and “little lies ;” but the Bible teaches that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” (Rev. xxi. 8; xxii. 15.) From such texts it is evident, that the all-seeing God does not consider a vile or malicious word as less reprehensible than a similar action. What are words but the acts of the mouth ? Are we not responsible for the tongue, as well as for the hand? The Hebrew 727 signifies both thing and word, so that the same law would anciently do for both ;-both being an expression or effusion of the heart.

As to comparative results in doing injury to men, it is believed that evil words are far more mischievous than evil actions, except in the cases of murder and maiming. The destruction of a neighbour's property is not so bad as the ruin of his character. The highwayman stops a man and demands his money, which may amount to a few pounds. Perhaps the loss of it is never felt : generally, a little economy or self-denial will make all straight. But the slanderer, who sets himself secretly to defame another, inflicts an injury which may last through life. The thief, the drunkard, and even the unchaste, may act from the impulse of the moment,overtaken” in a sin, by yielding to the sudden temptation of the devil. But the cold-blooded villain who calls Satan to his council, that he may devise and perhaps pen malicious words to inflict an incurable wound, shows a heart more deeply depraved than those more notorious sinners. A blow may soon be healed ; but a stinging word may long rankle in the bosom. We can avoid the quarrelsome, the profane, the gamester, and the reeling drunkard : but who can avoid the evil-speaker ? For unsanctified tongues and unsanctified ears transact their nefarious business in the dark.

You often do not know a fool until he speaks : he then discovers his character. Is it worse to saunter about the fields, or lie in bed, “ building castles in the air,” than to spend hours in gossip about trifles? Is not the latter as great a waste of time and talent as the former ?

2. The final judgment will be minute. Some theologians have imagined

a kind of summary and comprehensive trial, where no distinct acts will be mentioned ; but each will be judged in his own heart, rather than by the Lord. This might prevent the exposure of secret sins, and the humiliation and regret of confessing misspent hours and years of folly. But would it be a public account of “the deeds done in the body?” Is it borne out by any scripture ? Does not the Bible say that "every secret thing” shall be brought into judgment? that one good action of the simplest kind shall be rewarded ? that every one shall give account of himself to God? (Eccles. xii. 14; Rom. ii. 16 ; Matt. x. 41, 42; Rom. xiv. 12; 1 Peter iv.5.) The Judge Himself here declares, that “for every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account at the day of judgment.” It is not for us to ask, “How can these things be?” when the Lord has said, it shall be so. Speech is an important talent: and we must bridle the tongue as well as the hand, or else our religion is vain. (James i. 26.)

3. All the actions and words of the present life will have an important influence upon our eternal condition. Many persons seem to limit their views to a general idea of salvation or condemnation, and to merge all other differences of happiness or misery. But we have yet to learn whether heaven be a place, or a state, or both. We incline to the last opinion : especially as this would give ample scope for rewarding actions and words, and still allow the spiritual character and natural capacities of the soul to be taken into the account and provided for. We are responsible for every part of our time, and for the use of every faculty. There is no portion of life exempt from retribution. If all must be accounted for, surely all will be recompensed. Misspent time and “idle words” will detract from the future inheritance of a righteous man; but whatever is now sanctified to God will have its meed of approbation and reward.

R. M. MacBRAIR.

REVIEW.

1. The First Report of the General Wesleyan-Methodist Missionary Society',

1818. London: Printed for the Society. 2. Report of the Wesleyan-Methodist Missionary Society, for the Year

ending April, 1850. London: Published by the Wesleyan Missionary

Society. CARYSOSTOM finished a climax, on the spread of the truth from the Ægæan to the German Sea, by saying, “ BRITAIN POSSESSES THE word of LIFE !”—Little did the illustrious Preacher think that, in the lapse of centuries, this north-western isle would gioe that Word, in languages of which he never heard, and by the ministry of a thousand Missionaries, to the remotest nations of the globe. Yet it is ours to rejoice in these unexpected results, and to say, with adoring gratitude, “ WHAT hath GoD WROUGHT !”

The beautiful season of the year which is hallowed, in the metropolis, as also in various parts of the country, to these glorious topics, has again passed by. And it may be permitted us to congratulate all who “love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity,"—while we give Him the praise,—that May, 1850, has indicated no declining attachment to our public Christian institutions. For ourselves we gratefully own, that a perusal of the excellent Report of our Missionary Society, for 1849-1850, has served to cheer our spirits, and to

« НазадПродовжити »