« PreviousContinue »
the anointing of Solomon, to the destruction of Jerusalem. They describe the glory of Israel under Solomon; the division of the nation under Rehoboam ; the decline of the two kingdoms; the total destruction of Israel, and the subversion and captivity of Judah.
Chronicles I., II. The two books of Chronicles are registers of the times, which their title signifies; they were compiled by Ezra from the national records. These registers contain an abstract, in order of time, of the whole sacred history; and records of the whole Bible, from the creation down to the Babylonish captivity, embracing a period of 3468 years.
The design of the Chronicles is to furnish a continued course of ancient authentig history; and to supply many important matters relating both to persons and things, which are omitted in the other inspired historical books. They afford an affecting illustration of the dispensations of God towards this highly favored, yet ungrateful people: they show the unspeakable advantages to nations arising from pious sovereigns, as seen in the cases of David, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah, and the dreadful evils of national depravity and irreligion.
E Z R A . - N E H E M I A H . – E S T H E R .
Ezra. The book of Ezra is so called from the name of the priest who wrote it. It is an important continuation of the Jewish history, after the return of that people from their seventy years' captivity in Babylon; embracing a period of about 100 years.
JNehemiah. The book of Nehemiah is a valuable record of the improvements in the city of Jerusalem, and of the reformation among the people, which were promoted and carried on by an inspired ruler of that name. This eminent man was one of the Jewish captives, selected from among them, and retained by the Persian monarch to fill the office
SABBATH. LESSONS. 369
of his cup-bearer, a station of great honor and influence in the ancient eastern nations. Esther. The book of Esther derives its name from the person whose history it relates. It records an extraordinary display of divine providence, in the elevation of an orphan Jewish captive to the throne of Persia, and a remarkable deliverance of the Jews by her means.
Job. The book of Job derives its name from the person whose history it records. It contains an account of the singular piety, riches, afflictions and restoration of that extraordinary character, who lived in Idumea, on the borders of Arabia and Egypt.
Psalms. The book of Psalms is a collection of inspired hymns and songs, meditations and prayers; and the book is so called, because psalms signify holy songs. In the original they are said to present every possible variety of Hebrew poetry. They are commonly called the Psalms of David, because he wrote the largest portion of them.
Proverbs. Proverbs are wise sayings, contained in short sentences, which can be easily remembered : and the book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings, given by divine inspiration, and written in the poetic style. They relate to almost every part of moral and religious duty; and they have been always considered by the church as forming a storehouse of practical wisdom, directing us how to walk with God in the way of holiness. Most of these proverbs were written by Solomon, the wise king of Israel.
Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes signifies preacher; and this book was so called because of its doctrines and the design of its publication. It was written by Solomon, at the close of his life, after having been drawn aside by his idolatrous wives, as a monumental expression of his sincere repentance, and of his unfeigned return to the Lord.
The following books of the Old Testament, sixteen in number, Lamentations being considered as an appendix to Jeremiah, are prophetical. Their writers were a class of God’s ministers, who were formerly called seers, holy men of God, and prophets. They were the philosophers, divines, and instructers of the Hebrews in religion and virtue.
The prophecies in these books embrace a vast range of subjects, especially relating to the Jewish nation, to Jesus Christ, and the Christian church; and include notices of the several empires and nations of the world, down to the end of time, as they were, or as they will be, in various ways connected with the church of God.
Isaiah. Isaiah has been called the evangelical prophet, on account of his having foretold so many things concerning the birth, ministry, sufferings, and death of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the glorious times of the gospel. Many parts of this book are most admirably adapted to promote the spiritual edification and consolation of believers, especially the last twentyseven chapters.
Jeremiah. Jeremiah prophesied for about forty three years before the destruction of Jerusalem, and during several years after that calamitous event, which took place 5SS years before the birth of Christ. After the destruction of Jerusalem, Jeremiah followed those Jews who retired into Egypt. There he continued to reprove them on account of their idolatry, and sealed the truth of his ministry by the blood of martyrdom, the Jews having stoned him.
SABBATH LESS ONS. 371
Lamentations. The Lamentations are the mournful elegies which Jeremiah composed, on beholding the city and temple of Jerusalem lying in heaps of ruins. These poems are remarkable both for the plan on which they are written, and for the subjects which they commemorate.
Ezekiel. Ezekiel was of the sacerdotal race, and among the first captives who were carried to Babylon. He prophesied during the early part of the captivity, commencing his ministry about 590 years before the birth of Christ. The design of his prophecies was the instruction of the captives.
Daniel. Daniel was but a youth when he was carried among the first captives to Babylon; and he prophesied during the captivity, until after Cyrus succeeded to the throne of his uncle Darius, a period of more than seventy years. Daniel was a person of extraordinary sanctity and wisdom, with which God endowed him, qualifying him to be an eminent instrument in accomplishing the designs of his all-wise providence.
Hosea. Hosea was raised up among the people of Israel after they had sunk into the grossest idolatry, and during the time that Isaiah prophesied in Judah. He began to prophesy somewhat earlier than Isaiah, and exercised his ministry about sixty years.
Joel. Joel is believed to have exercised his ministry in the time of Isaiah. The prophecies of Joel are contained in three chapters.
Amos. Little is known concerning Amos, except that he was called to the prophetic office from being a herdsman in Tekoa. He prophesied during the early part of Isaiah's ministry.
Obadiah. It is not certainly known at what period Obadiah lived; some suppose he was that excellent man who was governor of king Ahab's house, but others think he was contemporary with Jeremiah.
Jonah. Jonah prophesied in the reign of Jeroboam, son of Joash king of Israel, about eighty years before the time of Isaiah. The subject of the book of Jonah is the mission of that prophet to the populous city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, and his successful ministry among its people. The design of this prophetic record is to show, by the striking example of the Ninevites, the forbearance and long suffering of God towards sinners, by which they are spared on their sincere repentance.
.Micah. Micah was a prophet of Judah, and he exercised his ministry in the time of Isaiah. He was raised up to confirm the predictions of Isaiah against both the Israelites and Jews, whom he invited to repentance, both by threatened judgments and by promised mercies.
N A H U M . — H. A. B. A. K. K. U. K. – Z E P H A N IA H .
JYahum. Nahum was a native of Elkosh, in Galilee; and he is supposed to have been contemporary with Isaiah. The prophecy of Nahum is one continued poem, now divided into three chapters.
Habakkuk. Habakkuk prophesied in the time of Jeremiah, a short period before the destruction of Jerusalem.
Zephaniah. Zephaniah prophesied in the former period
of Jeremiah's ministry.
Haggai. Haggai prophesied after the return of the Jews from Babylon. In their work of erecting the second temple at Jerusalem, the Jews were seriously interrupted by the