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A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pome
granates ; a land of oil olive, and honey.-Deut. viii. 8. Intended to carry the truth to all nations, it was essential that the Bible should have a cosmopolitan attractiveness; and within the narrow limits of that strip of coast, as we might call Palestine, are gathered the features of countries most widely apart. The peaks of Lebanon are never without patches of snow, even in the heat of summer. Snow falls nearly every winter along the summits of the central ridge of Palestine. . . . On the other hand, il the valley of the Jordan, summer brings the heat of the tropics; and the different seasons, in different parts, according to the elevation, exhibit a regular gradation between these extremes. Thus, within the extent of a single landscape, there is every climate, from the cold of Northern Europe to the heat of India. The traveller from the more northerly temperate land finds himself in some parts surrounded by the trees and vegetation of his own country. The traveller from more southern countries is no less at home. ... There can be no more vivid illustration of the climate of any land than the vegetation it yields; and Palestine, tried by this test, reproduces climates and zones which, in other countries, are separated by many hundreds of miles. A book written in such a land must necessarily be a reflection, in its imagery and modes of thought, of
much that is common to men all over the earth. The Scriptures of the two Testaments have had this priceless help in their great mission, from Palestine having been chosen by God as the land in which they were written.-GEIKIE.
Whate'er Thy sacred will ordains,
Oh give me strength to bear;
And trust His tender care. The great end of prayer is spiritual good; temporal benefits are hardly worth pressing. To have them does not necessarily bring happiness, and they change with the day. Apart from the certainty that we must often ask unwisely, and, often, what cannot be granted, our life here is so passing that its interests must needs be subordinate. Besides, to be always craving material favours is apt to foster mean thoughts, and make us selfish and mercenary in our relations to God. Nor are they in themselves much worth. If we had everything we could wish in the world, we might still be wretched enough. True wealth and prosperity is that of the soul, not of circumstances. It is well to ask what we think we need, humbly, and in submission to higher wisdom, but only in its right place, and not too urgently. The far noblest good to ask is that we be brought nearer in spirit to the divine, by loving and humble acquiescence and oneness with God's will, whatever
it orders. To be stayed on God would be perfect peace; freed from all anxious fretting ; no more worn and burdened with endless care, but com. mitting all to Infinite Power, and Light, and Love. -GEIKIE.
ANNUNCIATION OF THE VIRGIN MARY.
Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee:
What day in all the year
He, who was rich, becoming poor,
Ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the
priest.-—LEVITICUS xxiii. 10. It was to the valley of Kedron the pilgrims came down at the Feast of Tabernacles, to cut the long boughs of willow which they carried in procession to the temple, and laid bending over the altar. On the eve of the first day of the feast, Jesus would see men sent by the temple authorities, a great crowd following, to cut the sheaf of firstfruits. Perhaps He saw the three reapers, with basket and sickle, step to spots previously marked out, asking, as they stood beside the new barley, “Has the sun set yet?” “Is this the right sickle?" "Is this the right basket ?” To be followed by another question, thrice repeated, “Shall I cut ? ” which was answered, with what seems, now, childish formality, but then thrilled all hearts, “ Cut!” The Child from Nazareth would follow, when the sheaf, thus reaped, was carried amidst great rejoicings, to the fore court of the temple, and presented by the priest as a peace offering; then threshed, winnowed, and cleansed, dried over a sacred fire, and forthwith ground into flour, the finest of which was the new harvest “meat offering" before God. He knew that till this had been presented at the altar, no field could be cut, except to get fodder for cattle, or for other necessary ends. . . . City and people, the past and the present, must have filled the whole
being of the Child with awe and wonder, for He now stood, for the first time, under the shadow of His Father's temple, and the murmur of countless languages that filled the air was, in very truth, homage to that Father from all the world.-GEIKIE.
Bless me, even me also, O my Father. And Esau lifted up his
voice, and wept.-GENESIS xxvii. 38. The reverence of children towards their parents was carried to the sublime in Hebrew families. The child found the ideal of his obedience in Isaac's willingly yielding himself to death at his father's command. Every Hebrew child heard from its earliest years how the finger of God Himself had written upon the table of stone, “ Honour thy father and thy mother,” etc. Disobedience to father or mother was made a public crime, which the community might punish with death. Unworthy children were laid under the most awful threatenings of divine displeasure. The child read how Joseph, “when he met his father, fell on his neck, and wept a good while," and bowed himself to the earth before him; and how their great lawgiver “did obeisance to his father-in-law, and kissed him.” The tender care of an aged parent was regarded by every Jew as a sacred duty. The son of Sirach only repeated the sentiment of all Scripture when he said, “Honour thy father with thy whole heart, and forget not the sorrows of thy mother. Remember