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"I will plant in the wilderness the Cedar."
THERE are associations connected with the cedars, more sublime in their character than those connected with any other trees. The constant allusion made by the bards of Israel to the cedar, as the emblem of prosperity, majesty, strength, and duration and the glowing descriptions of the temples and palaces of Solomon, are better calculated for captivating the fancy, and impressing the memory, than any thing that is elsewhere said about cedars, or any other trees. The loftiness and grandeur there ascribed to the cedars, give loftiness to the mountains themselves; and Lebanon owes much of that super-eminence that one feels disposed to give it, above other mountains, to the trees with which it is, or has been clothed.
Though there are, in many parts of the world, trees which are called cedars, yet there are only two species properly called cedars, and neither of them is known in the European markets as a timber tree. The two species are, the Cedar of Lebanon (pinus cedrus), and the Cedar of India (pinus deodara). Their appearance partakes both of that of the pines and that of the larches; but still sufficiently different to have a distinct popular character-in some sort common to the two species, but yet so varied in each, that there is no danger of mistaking the one for the other. They are both trees of robust habit and majestic appearance; and there is an air of grandeur and strength about them superior to what is found in any other trees. In both their species, and in all their localities, the cedars are inhabitants of mountains of the lofty parts of the mountains near the perpetual snows; and though, in culture, one of them at least, if not both, thrives very well in low situations, they are never, in their native state, found in the plains. There is always, therefore, the idea of mountains associated with
that of cedars; and if Lebanus draws sublimity from the one species, the other derives sublimity from the Himalaya. But even there, though the cedar has not had the same advantages, in point of historical celebrity, as the cedar of Western Asia, and though it has been but recently known to Europeans, whose first visits, and whose continual intercourse for a long time with India, had certainly other, and very different, objects from the study of natural history, it is held as a sacred tree by the natives-Deodara meaning the tree of Siva, or Deva, which is one of the most important divinities in the Hindoo mythology. As "the tree of the gods,” the Deodara is planted near the Indian temples, and comes in for a share of the worship. That it should be sacred, in a country where the attributes of divinity are imputed to a stone or post, covered with red paint, proves little; but the fact of selecting that tree as a species, in preference to other trees, even to the pinus spectabilis, the colours of which are so beautiful, shows that there is a grandeur in the air of the cedars which nothing can conceal, but which arrests the attention of all nations where the trees are found.
Whether the cedar made use of by king Solomon was our cedar of Lebanon, or cypress, or deodara, or some other tree, is not known, and cannot now be determined. Hunter, in his edition of Evelyn, says, "Solomon's four-score thousand hewers must have thinned considerably the forest of Lebanus. Few now remain. Rauwolf, in 1575, said, though this mountain had, in former ages, been quitecovered over with cedars, yet so decreased were they, that no more than twenty-four could I tell, and two others, whose branches were quite decayed. I could find no young ones.' Mandrell, in 1696, could reckon only sixteen; I measured one twelve yards six inches in girt, and thirty-seven yards in the spread of its boughs. The few cedars remaining are preserved with religious strictness. On the day of the Transfiguration the Patriarch repairs in procession to these trees, and performs a feast called the feast of cedars.'
The Cedar of Lebanon has been known in Britain as a cultivated tree for at least 160 years: wherever it has been planted and allowed to remain, it is one of the most ornamental; and there has been no instance of its decay or death which cannot, to a considerable extent at least, be attributed to casualties. The specimen that we have given upon the vignette to this article is comparatively a small one. It is taken from the Cedar of Lebanon in the Royal Arboretum, Kew; the height is 40 feet; circumference of the trunk, 11 feet; spread of the branches, 33 feet; and has been selected as a very favourable specimen of the habit of the tree. The cedar is, generally speaking, a spreading rather than a tall tree; to which the allusion made by the Psalmist agrees very well, when he is describing the flourishing state of a people, and says, "They shall spread their branches like the cedar-tree."
The whole earth is a garden, says the pious Bishop Horne, planted by the hand, and watered by the care of Jehovah. But in a more especial manner is His glory set forth by the lofty and magnificent cedars, which growing wild on the mountain and in the forest, owe nothing to the skill and industry of man. The moisture of the earth, rarefied by the heat of the sun, enters their roots, ascends in their tubes, and by due degrees expands and increases them, till they arrive at their growth. God hath also another garden, in which there are other trees of His planting, called "trees of righteousness." These are His faithful servants, who, through the Spirit which is given unto them, become eminent and steady in goodness; their examples are fragrant, and their charity diffusive.
"My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth."-Rev. ii. 13.
THE words quoted above form a part of the third Epistle, which John, in the name of the Great Head of the Church, was commanded to send to the angel, or minister of the church in Pergamos. This Pergamos was a city of Proconsular Asia, about sixty-four miles northward of Smyrna: the Gospel at an early period was introduced into this city, but some of the professors of this Gospel soon degenerated from their purity, and tolerated the most gross errors-Rev. ii. 14, 15. However there were some who held fast the form of sound words which they had received, and of them the Saviour speaks in the highest commendation. "And thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied My faith." These saints in Pergamos, like the saints in all ages, had to endure persecution. One of them named Antipas resisted unto blood. "Even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth." These persecutions at Pergamos have been followed at Madagascar; and could we hear the voice of our fellow Christians in that island, who are now suffering for righteousness' sake, we should hear them say to all the churches in the land, in language sufficiently pathetic to melt our hearts, and to draw out our compassion toward them, "Remember my bonds." Strong, however, as are the claims of these suffering survivors-if indeed they yet survive—the strongest interest seems to concentrate around the closing days of the honoured proto-martyr of Madagascar, Rafaravavy. This event is one so affecting that it is exciting universal interest among all, who name the name of Christ. This interest we are anxious to deepen, that it may produce all the good, for which this painful providence has been permitted. The Book of Providence is too much neglected by us all :-Providence affords us daily instruction, and yet how few derive that advantage, which the study of this Book would impart. The Lord forgive our past neglect !
That this providence may yield us instruction, let us notice,
I. The place where Rafaravavy resisted unto blood. Madagascar. This is an island on the eastern coast of Africa, about 800 miles in length, and 300 in breadth, and 2,000 in circumference. The Portuguese discovered it in the year 1492. The population in the year 1821 was estimated at four millions. The account given of it in the year 1821 is as follows:-"It has no cities or towns, but a great number of villages a small distance from each other. The inhabitants, who are of Malay and Wachon, are very ingenious, mild, and friendly: they seem to have no idea of a Being of supreme goodness, but a dread of an evil spirit. They have no public worship; there are no remains of Mohammedanism." Messrs. Bevan and Jones commenced a mission here in the summer of 1818. They experienced a very favourable reception from the natives, and especially from one of the chiefs. When they commenced a school they had five children of chiefs. The proficiency of their children was rapid, and the people generally were delighted at the idea of the missionaries settling amongst them and educating their children. The ground on which the school-house was erected was given by one of the chiefs. "With respect to the state of the mission here," says one of the missionaries, “in the year 1823, I can affirm from observation, that our prospects at present are most promising. Much, under God, seems to depend upon king Radama, who is, no doubt, a clever
man, and an able statesman. The king himself is so anxious for his people to receive instruction, that he sends for parents, and desires them to send their children to the missionaries. The following account is given of the state of the mission in 1827: The missionaries are at present zealously exerting themselves to introduce the knowledge of letters among its numerous population, chiefly with a view to their being rendered capable of reading the Scriptures, which have been translated into Madegasse, and will shortly be printed for their use. For this purpose they have established in the centre of the island, with the sanction and under the patronage of the king Radama, nearly thirty schools. The king died in the year 1828, and was succeeded by Ranavalono, the present queen. The death of Radama was a great loss to the cause of Christ in Madagascar, for, after his death, the labours of the missionaries were rather permitted than encouraged. But, about three years ago, measures were adopted by the native government for the suppression of Christianity in the country, which have continued, until the year 1837, when Rafaravavy was slain for her adherence to the cross, and the rest of her fellow-Christians put into bonds. The mind of the queen, it is reported, has been prejudiced against the pure truth by her French courtiers, who are Roman Catholics; but the real state of the case will soon be published by Mr. Ellis, who has advertised a work on the subject.
Madagascar is the place on which the blood of Rafaravavy has been shed; and when we look at the persecutions in that island, we may say of it, as Christ did of Pergamos, "where Satan dwelleth." Satan, like a great prince, walks to and fro through the earth, as though all the world were his empire; but in Madagascar he seems to have established his throne-this he has made his head-quarters— his reign is all but universal. And to this spot he has drawn the attention of the whole Church, and seems to point his finger to his triumphs, that he may alarm all the children of God; but even here, "where Satan dwelleth," the Captain of our Salvation has made Rafaravavy more then a conqueror through Him who hath loved her. Yes, though Satan had mustered together all his forces in Madagascar, yet even in the midst of them all, this Christian female, clothed in the whole armour of God, left the field of conflict a triumphant victor. "Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory," &c.
II. The character of this faithful martyr. This will appear in her conduct, as reported by the Directors of the Missionary Society. The first thing worthy of notice is—her knowledge of the Scriptures. That she had an extensive acquaintance with this precious volume is evident from her conversations, and from her letters, respecting which it is said: "Her letters are composed principally of passages from the Gospels and Epistles." And no doubt the richness of her experience was owing to her extensive knowledge of the Word of God, which, under the influence of the Spirit of God, were the entire support of her mind. Rafaravavy knew the Scriptures, received them as the Word of God, and not the word of fallible man, and, like the psalmist, esteemed them more highly than thousands of gold and silver. The Word of God was the lamp which directed her how to act in her difficult circumstances; it was the food which sustained her spiritual life in the fires of perse. cution was the sword which made her victorious amidst her blood-thirsty enemies. The examples she followed, the promises on which she reposed, the glories she anticipated, she found in the Holy Scriptures; and never was the declaration of Paul to Timothy more remarkablyproved to be true than in the experience of this holywoman:
"which are able to make thee wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus." And O that every one, who has the Scriptures in his house, knew and felt, and enjoyed as much of them as Rafaravavy-then, like her, he would grow in grace, brave every storm, and finish his course with joy. But, alas! it is to be feared, that many who are favoured with far greater advantages than this faithful martyr, do not know so much of the Scriptures as she did. Should this actually be the case, Rafaravavy will rise up in judgment against such a negligent professor. That a doom so fearful may not await you, walk in the steps of this Christian woman—then, if you should lose your sight, be confined to a sick chamber, or have the Word of God taken from you, you will be furnished with materials for thought; you will have the key which will let you out of the house of bondage, and you will have the tree of life, the fruit of which you can pluck in the midst of this desert world. "Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."—Romans
Another grace which adorned the character of this faithful martyr was-her Christian forbearance. Scarcely could a more striking example of Christian forbearance and meekness be found in all the records of the Church than she displayed on this trying occasion. While many of the members of her family, indignant with her accusers, as slaves who ill requited former kindness, threatened punishment, she assured them on her liberation, that she cherished no resentment, but freely and fully forgave them. This was the mind that was in Christ. When the immaculate Saviour hung on the cross, and whilstHis enemies were mocking Him; whilst He felt the thorns in His sacred head, and whilst He beheld them deriving happiness from His agonies, even then He felt such compassion towards them, that He prayed, "Father, forgive them," &c. Doubtless Rafaravavy had read of this memorable prayer of the dying Saviour, and fixing her eyes upon Him as her great model, imbibed His spirit, and thus proved to her enemies that she not only bore Christ's name, but walked in His steps. The example of this holy woman, therefore, in her conduct towards her enemies, ought to be noticed, not only as a proof of the excellency of the Christian religion, but also as a pattern which every child of God should follow. This exercise of kindness towards our enemies has been set before us by our Lord,
Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again," &c. This forbearance is enjoined upon us by Divine authority: "But I say unto you, love your enemies," &c.— Matt. v. 44-48. Yea, unless we forgive our enemies, we cannot be saved this is essential to our salvation. "For if ye forgive not men their trespasses," &c.— Matt. xviii. 21-35.
Strong faith was another excellency in the Christian character of this faithful martyr, Though my blood be shed," she said on one occasion "the Word of God must prosper in this country." Here was victorious faith. Ranavalono had decreed that the Christian religion should not be established in Madagascar. That she might uproot it, she had expelled the missionaries from the island, had deprived the Christians of the means of grace, and even forbidden them to pray to Him, who is the hearer of prayer; but the faith of Rafaravavy looks over this mountain, and with the predictions of the prophets, the promises of Scripture, and the perfections of Jehovah on her side, she exclaims, “Who art thou, O great mountain, before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain?" The mind of this faithful martyr was not