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and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.
“ Wash you, make you clean ; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes ; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.”—Isaiah i. 11, 16, 17.
“ Wherefore Jehovah said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people."
Isaiah xxix. 13, 14. “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs: for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”-Amos v. 21-24.
“ For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”—Hosea vi. 6.
“ Wherewith shall I come before Jehovah, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old ? Will Jehovah be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil ? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ? He hath shewed thee, Oman, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God ?” —
Micah vi. 6-8. 112
NOTIONS CONCERNING GOD CONTAINED IN THE WRITINGS OF
THOSE PROPHETS WHO LIVED IMMEDIATELY BEFORE, OR DURING THE CAPTIVITY.
The Book of Jonah. Jonah is the subject, and not the author, of the book which bears his name. He lived in the reign of the second Jeroboam ; but the Book of Jonah, judging from the internal evidence afforded by its language, and the opinions contained in it, could not have been written till considerably later. We are inclined to believe that it was composed by an Israelite during the Babylonian exile. This book has been too literally interpreted: it has been looked upon as a record of history rather than as a tale; it has, consequently, been the occasion of great offence, and has excited much unjust ridicule. The narrative has a moral tendency. It is an apologue; a moral poem, either founded in truth, or altogether fictitious. The intention of the author appears to us to be, to combat a prejudice which prevailed universally among his countrymen. He endeavours, by means of a fiction, to oppose the existing notion that Jehovah is the protector and preserver of Israel, exclusive of all the remaining inhabitants of the earth, and to inculcate his own belief that Jehovah is the God of all men, and is merciful alike to all his creatures. If it be not admitted that such is the object of the writer, it will not be denied that this Jewish prejudice is strongly assailed in the Book of Jonah. It cannot be matter of surprise that the Hebrews should have held all foreign nations in the utmost contempt, and that they should have indulged the most malignant feelings towards them. Such, indeed, was the natural effect of the selfish and exclusive faith in which they were educated, and the system of polity under which they lived. Taught to believe that Jehovah is a jealous God-jealous of the gods of the heathen; the Israelite, consequently, regarded the worshippers of these gods as the enemies of Jehovah, and as the objects of his hatred and vengeance.
Representations of God. Jehovah is the Creator of heaven and earth.
“ I am an Hebrew; and I fear Jehovah the God of heaven, which hath made the sea, and the dry land.”—Jonah i. 9. The declaration of the universal government of God is accompanied by the most decided denial of the reality of any other God. “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.”
Chap. ii. 8. The expression lying vanity is equivalent to, a nonentity; a thing that has neither life nor power. How could a Hebrew express himself more forcibly respecting the nothingness of idols, and the worthlessness of the worship paid to them?
Jonah is in a ship going to Tarshish, when a violent storm arises. The mariners in the vessel cry to their own God, and the ship-master awakens Jonah, and desires him to cry to his God: but as soon as the sailors perceive the superior power of Jehovah, they fear him exceedingly, and offer a sacrifice to him.
“Wherefore they cried unto Jehovah, and said, We beseech thee, O Jehovah, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood : for thou, O Jehovah, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonab and cast him forth into the sea : and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared Jehovah exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto Jehovah, and made vows."-Chap. i. 14-16. Jehovah rules the wind and the weather; he raises and calms the storm; he creates the worm and the plant. Though the author of the fiction represents every wonderful event as the immediate work of Jehovah, we can always trace his abiding conviction that Jehovah is the God of the creation, and the sustaining influence of all that exists.
“ Jehovah sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest.”—Chap. i. 4.
“ And Jehovah God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.”—Chap. iv. 6, 7.
Attributes of God. Jehovah is everywhere, he knows all things, and is allpowerful. Jonah foolishly imagines that he can escape from the presence of Jehovah; regarding him as a national-God, he circumscribes his power within the limits of Palestine. Jehovah proves to him that his power is universal; he pursues the fleeing Jonah, and raises a mighty tempest. Jehovah is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.
“ Thou art a gracious God, and merciful ; slow to anger, and of great kindness.”—Chap. iv. 2. But he is represented as repenting him of the evil, as if he punished in anger.
“ Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned away from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said he would do unto them, and he did it not.”--Chap. iii. 9, 10.
The Providence of God. Jehovah is not merely the God of the Jews; he is the God of all men, and has mercy on all his creatures. This is the prominent idea throughout the book.
God sends a prophet to the heathen city of Nineveh. The ignorant and hard-hearted Jonah, who was an Israelite, and shared the prejudices of his country, cannot believe that God cares for the heathen, or seeks their amendment; far less that he should send a divine messenger to them. Jonah, on the contrary, would willingly have pronounced a curse against the heathen city, and would have rejoiced in its fulfilment. He is very angry when he finds his threatenings remain unaccomplished. He sits under a booth in the shade to
see what would become of the city.” God prepares a gourd
for a shadow over his head: when it is eaten the next day by a worm, Jonah sits under a burning sun still watching the city, to see what will become of it, till he faints with the heat; and, finding that it is not destroyed as he anticipated and desired, in his anger and mortification he wishes to die, and he receives this reproof from Jehovah:
“ Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand
persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand ; and also much cattle ?"-Chap. iv. 10, 11. Here is the thought that God is the Creator of the many inhabitants of Nineveh, and that as such, he regards them, also, as objects of his watchfulness, and consideration, and desires, and provides for their welfare and amelioration.*
The Books of the Prophets Joel, Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk,
and Zephaniah. But a few fragments of the writings of these prophets have been transmitted to us. The potions of a theocracy predominate in them.
Representations of God. Jehovah is regarded as the peculiar Deity of the Jews, rather than as the universal Father. The prevalent ideas contained in these books may be seen by a few quotations :
“ And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and
“ The King of Israel, even Jehovah, is in the midst of thee.
* Nachtigall thus writes of the Book of Jonah:-“ In this book we can “ discern the writer's perception of that great truth which was first placed in a “ clear and true light by Christ: that God is the God of all men, and that his “ kind Providence is extended equally over all his creatures; that he has no “ exclusive regard for the Jews, but that there are also good and right-thinking “people among the heathen, whom God deems worthy of his love.''