The Unnamed (Chapters 1-6) (The Rowan Prophies)

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The more plausible hypocrisy is before men, the more detestable it is to God. The religious hypocrite is at best a man of dark deeds, though clad in garments of light. He may approach the portals of heaven, but he does not enter. A hypocrite was discovered at a royal supper, but the king rejected him from the banquet. Man esteems him hateful, because he seems not what he is; and God hates him, because he is not what he seems.

The hypocrite, like a bird of prey, although his course be towards heaven, yet is always looking and longing for something upon earth. The Christian gives to God the fruit of his labours; the hypocrite gives to God the fruit of his lips. The hypocrite is led by ostentation, and not by a sanctified conscience.

For he who hides his vices by hypocrisy, suspects the virtues of others to be hypocrisy. And the poor and afflicted remain poor and afflicted, because the sin of the hypocrite closed the hand of charity, and in consequence thereof genuine sorrow is oft suspected in place of being relieved. An impostor who asks for alms is a hypocrite in the lower grade. Hypocrisy may prevail in morals as well as in creed. Some men are hypocritical in both. He is unwise who decries religion because some professing to be religious are hypocrites.

None would take the pains to counterfeit pearls, if true ones were not of value. Men would not personate piety were it not of itself a noble quality. We best show our abhorrence of hypocrisy by holding the truth free from hypocrisy. Nothing covered, that shall not be revealed.

There is a tendency in things everywhere to manifest their natures, and make themselves known. Seeds that are buried, seek the light; shells deep in the sea grope their way to the shore; the processes of nature are to bring things to the surface. What is true in matter has certainly its counterpart in mind. Human character, notwithstanding all efforts to keep itself back, also tends to development; what is not seen at once is found out in a lifetime.

The strong passions of the soul, like smothered fires or hidden springs, at last burst their way through, and become known. There is certainly going on around us in the operations of nature, and in the unfolding of events, a revealing process, as if creation and Providence had determined to let light into all dark places, and at last uncover human hearts. This, we suppose, is the general idea taught in the text. One fact often discloses a great deal, when brought into connection with another fact, which, when it stood by itself, told nothing.

The ancient kings of the East were aware of this, when they sent messages from one to another on business which they wished to be kept secret from all but themselves. The message was written upon a piece of parchment, but so written that it could not be deciphered unless first bound upon a staff, which contained a counterpart and key to that which was sent, and each king kept one of these staffs; hence, if the messenger should lose the scrip, the secret would not be divulged, because not intelligible, unless wrapped round the wood: the one was read by the help of the other, though each spoke nothing by itself.

So with events in human life; they throw light on each other when brought together. If even in such a world as this, where the body, and old associations, and friends, and forgetfulness, and ignorance of the consequences, contribute to quiet the goadings of conscience, men are still driven by remorse to give a detailed and minute account of the evil they have done, what may not be expected when, with conscience all alive, and memory quickened, the soul dismantled of its clay, stung by its sins, bereft of friends, and hindered by nothing, meets the eye of its Maker without a veil?

Surely there is a provision in our nature, by reason of which every one shall give an account of himself unto God. There is a foretokening all along our earthly way. If he sees a hand others do not see, what is it that he sees? The fear of God is not before his eyes, and yet he is afraid. There was a sound, a rustle of a leaf, yet to him a sound that spoke of discovery--a whisper of betrayal and development; he sees things around him working to the surface.

Even a stain upon his robe, a paler hue upon his cheek, may have a voice to some one; many things have come out in ways most unexpected and who shall say, after all, he may not have been observed! Now, we believe that God has dealt with man according to his temperament. He knows us far better than we know ourselves; and He would therefore work upon us in a manner most likely to produce a good effect.

This may be proved from the fact that we are guilty, all of us, of many secret sins, which we should blush to own to our dearest friend, but which we are ready enough to acknowledge to God. On the other hand, we are not often content that our good deeds should be known to God alone, but the majority of persons would seem to wish that men should regard them also. These considerations may lead us to understand, that it was from a complete knowledge of human nature that Christ warned His disciples by the announcement of the truth--that all secrets would eventually be brought to light.

Christ here speaks of the revealing at the last day, of all that we now hide in the closest secrecy. He tells us that there is nothing, hide it as we now may from the knowledge of others, which He will not reveal before the masses of the universe. The actions of a single day, who can number them? Go, examine your own hearts. Each man for himself must go down to the region of his own soul, and find out what is there going on. Thoughts and passions, motives and wishes, hopes and fears, hatred, lusts and affections, intentions of good, and designs of evil; these are the shadowy dwellers of that weed within, whose name is legion, for indeed they are many.

At one time they prompt us to external deeds; at another time, our external deeds are only the cloak beneath which they disguise themselves, so that men perceive them not. Oh, who can turn the mental eye inwards, and not marvel at, and fear the secret world which toils and burns in the heart?

Yet we see it not all. And if this be true, does it not especially behove us constantly to regard the state of that heart which God so closely inspects? And here we may notice a remarkable distinction between the judgment passed on our conduct by man on the one side, and by God on the other. Man takes into account our wicked actions only, while God often discerns matter of condemnation, long before the wicked action is committed. As viewed by an earthly tribunal, it is of little account what designs we may have had, if those designs have never been put into execution. If we had eyes adapted to the sight, we should see, on looking into the smallest seed, the future flower or tree enclosed in it.

God will look into our feelings and motives as into seeds; by those embryos of action He will infallibly determine what we are, and will show what we should have been, had there been scope and stage for their development and maturity. Nothing will be made light of. The very dust of the balances shall be taken into account.

It is in the moral world as it is in the natural, where every substance weighs something; though we speak of imponderable bodies, yet nature knows nothing of positive levity: and were men possessed of the necessary scales, the requisite instrument, we should find the same holds true in the moral world. Nothing is insignificant on which sin has breathed the breath of hell: everything is important in which holiness has impressed itself in the painted characters.

A man broke into a small church in Scotland, with the sacrilegious intention of stealing the communion plate. Hearing steps outside the building, and expecting that he should be discovered, he hurried to the end of the church, where, seeing a long rope depending to the ground, he laid hold of it for the purpose of climbing out of sight. But it proved to be the bell rope, and his weight rang the bell, which attracted his pursuers immediately to the spot. There is a voice in wrong-doing; its long tongue will not always be quiet.

All unaware, the offender puts out his hand and pulls the bell which tells against himself and summons vengeance to overtake him. Let no man dream that he can secure secrecy for his wickedness. Every timber in floor or roof is really to cry out against him, and before he is aware of it, he will himself be ringing out his own infamy. What will be his dismay when he stands self-convicted before the assembled universe! Once, in a certain part of Germany, a box of treasure that was being sent by railway was found to have been opened and emptied of its contents, and filled with stones and rubbish.

The question was, Who was the robber? Some sand was found sticking to the box, and a clever mineralogist, having looked at the grains of sand through his microscope, said that there was only one station on the railway where there was that kind of sand. Then they knew that the box must have been taken out at that station, and so they found out who was the robber.

The dust under his feet, where he had set down the box to open it, was a witness against him. Clerical Library. Just as the manipulations of the photographer in his dark chamber bring forth a picture which has been burnt into the plate by rays of light before, that when completed it may be brought to light again, and set before men that they may see what manner of persons they were; so, in the dark chambers of the dead, in the hidden spirit-world, there shall be a quickening of conscience.

Many a dull picture, burnt into the mind amid the brightness of life shall be made terribly clear, the whole to be exposed as a finished view in the light of the judgment throne, and of Him who sits thereon. We are taught that we had better cultivate this photography of life ourselves. God has given to us the dark chambers of the night, no chambers of horror, but chambers in which, away from busy life, we may still be workers for Him, bringing forth the pictures of the day that are imprinted on conscience, and that may all be lost, unless we thus draw them forth.

It is related that, some time since, a gentleman visiting England called upon a gentleman there living in princely grandeur. After being passed from one liveried servant to another, with almost as much ceremony as if he were about to be brought into the presence of the Queen, he was shown into a large and elegantly furnished drawing-room, where he was received by the gentleman whom he sought. He saw that there were two other persons seated at a table in the room, but not being introduced to them, proceeded with his business. He little thought, while sitting there, that two pairs of ears were catching up every word he uttered, and two pairs of hands were putting it into a permanent record.

So with many in this world. In a late work of fiction the Recording Angel is represented as dropping a tear, just as he enters the celestial gates, upon an oath uttered in haste by a favourite character, and blotting it out for ever. But that is fiction, and not truth. Our Lord spent most of His life in villages; and, accordingly, the reference here is to a custom observed only in such places, never in cities. At the present day, writes Thompson, local governors in country districts cause their commands thus to be published.

Their proclamations are generally made in the evening, after the people have returned from their labours in the field. The public crier ascends the highest roof at hand, and lifts up his voice in a long-drawn call upon all faithful subjects to give ear and obey. He then proceeds to announce, in a set form, the will of their master, and demands obedience thereto.

Be not afraid of them that kill the body. We are sure that this fear is not, as some would have us believe, inconsistent with the enjoyment of the hopes and consolations of the gospel. This fear blends itself with the other emotions of our mind, and gives a chastened character to them all. The greatness of His power.

The immaculateness of His purity and justice. The constancy and greatness, of His love. On a due sense of out own imperfections. On a due sense of the perfections of God. God is most holy, and abhors iniquity as entirely opposite to His pure and undefiled nature. He is everywhere present, and from Him nothing can be hid. He is all-wise, and cannot be deceived. He is the just governor of the world, and as such He cannot but observe the actions of men, and will certainly render to every one according to his works. He is almighty, and can punish the rebellious many ways, by turning them out of being, or by making that being a pain to them for as long a time as He sees proper.

He is also supremely good; and though this of all His perfections may seem the least suited to make us dread Him, yet whosoever judgeth so is much mistaken; for indeed there is not any one quality of the Divine nature so adapted to strike us with an ingenuous fear, with the fear of a child towards a parent, as this, and of such efficacy to deter us from sin, and to make us avoid incurring His just displeasure. Sin against God, as He is almighty, is the excess of madness and folly; but, as He is most kind and merciful, it is the basest ingratitude.

A person is sensible that his practice is not at all suitable to his knowledge and judgment; that he deliberately and continually offends God; that he is not in His favour; that, according to the doctrine of the gospel, he shall be condemned at the last day, unless he amend; and yet he goes on in his evil ways. One who is in this situation and disposition, and who seriously reflects upon it, cannot help fearing God.

He fears Him as his worst enemy; he fears Him as a righteous and inflexible judge who will not spare the guilty. This fear is indeed well-grounded and rational and natural; yet, producing no good effects, it hath no virtue in it, it is no act of religion. But, if it deter him from sin, it is then to him the beginning of wisdom, and it becomes another kind of fear, and truly religious, as will appear from a second instance.

A wicked person becomes sensible of his dangerous state, resolves to deliver himself from it without delay, and begins a new course. He knows that this repentance, these good resolutions, and this change for the better, are things which God requires, which He approves, and which He hath promised to accept when they bring forth the fruits of a regular obedience. He hath, therefore, hopes of pardon, without which it is not possible for any one to amend: but these hopes are mixed with many and great fears lest he should relapse into his former vices, lest he should not accomplish all that is necessary for his salvation, lest he should be called out of this world before he has finished his important and difficult task.

This is a religious fear, because it is mixed with hope, and honourable notions of God, and because it produces good actions. There is, further, a religious fear, which, bringing forth a regular obedience, and not being accompanied with so much dread and terror as that last mentioned, shows that the mind in which it is lodged is advanced to a higher degree of goodness.

The fear of God, therefore, is a disposition of mind, different in degree, according as our state is with relation to God and to religion. There is a fear that God is offended at us, and will punish us; which is the fear of a wicked person. There is a fear arising from a sense of our guilt, mixed and allayed with hopes that God will accept our amendment. This is the fear of a penitent sinner.

There is a fear lest we ever should forfeit the favour of God, and fall short of that future reward which at present we may reasonably expect. This is the fear of a good man, and it is capable of increase or of diminution according to his behaviour.

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This is the happy state of those who have arrived as near to perfection as a good person can whilst he is on this side of heaven, and who are sensible that their course is nearly ended, and the time of their departure is at hand. Jortin, D. He can kill the body, and take away our lives, which includes a power of doing whatever is less.

He can do not even this, however, without the Divine permission. If permitted to do his worst, he can do but this. His power reaches to the soul as well as the body. In the other world He can raise our bodies again, and reunite them to our souls, and cast them into hell, and torment them there. God can punish for ever. I proceed now to apply this serious and weighty argument, and to draw some useful inferences from it.

That religion doth not design to annihilate and to root out our passions, but regulate and govern them; it does not wholly forbid and condemn them, but determines them to their proper objects, and appoints them their measures and proportions; it does not intend to extirpate our affections, but to exercise and employ them aright, and to keep them within bounds. We may infer likewise from hence, that it is not against the genius of true religion, to urge men with arguments of fear. No man can imagine there would have been so many fearful threatenings in Scripture, and especially in the gospel, if it had not been intended they should have some effect and influence upon us.

Now fear being one of the first things that is imprinted upon us from the apprehension of a Deity, it is that passion, which, above all other, gives the greatest advantage to religion, and is the easiest to be wrought upon. Shall we not obey Him who hath the most unquestionable authority over us, and right to command us? Shall we not dread Him most who is to be feared above all, who can be the best friend and the sorest enemy, is able to give the greatest rewards to our obedience, and to revenge Himself upon us for our disobedience by the most dreadful and severe punishments?

This consideration, if anything in the world will do it, will awaken them to a sense of the danger of their condition, and of the fatal issue of a wicked life, Archbishop Tillotson. In the first place, the emotion of fear ought to enter into the consciousness of the young, because youth is naturally light-hearted. Secondly, youth is elastic, and readily recovers from undue depression. There is an elasticity in the earlier periods of human life that prevents long-continued depression. How rare it is to see a young person smitten with insanity!

It is not until the pressure of anxiety has been long continued, and the impulsive spring of the soul has been destroyed, that reason is dethroned. The morning of our life may, therefore, be subjected to a subduing and repressing influence, with very great safety. It is well to bear the yoke in youth. The awe produced by a vivid impression from the eternal world may enter into the exuberant and gladsome experience of the young with very little danger of actually extinguishing it and rendering life permanently gloomy and unhappy.

Thirdly, youth is exposed to sudden temptations and suprisals into sin. The general traits that have been mentioned as belonging to the early period in human life render it peculiarly liable to solicitations. The whole being of a healthful hilarious youth, who feels life in every limb, thrills to temptation like the lyre to the plectrum. There are moments in the experience of the young when all power of resistance seems to be taken away by the very witchery and blandishment of the object.

He has no heart, and no nerve, to resist the beautiful siren. And it is precisely in these emergencies in his experience--in these moments when this world comes up before him clothed in pomp and gold, and the other world is so entirely lost sight of, that it throws in upon him none of its solemn shadows and warnings--it is precisely now, when he is just upon the point of yielding to the mighty yet fascinating pressure, that he needs to feel an impression, bold and startling, from the wrath of God.

Nothing but the most active remedies will have any effect in this tumult and uproar of the soul. In the fourth place, the feeling and principle of fear ought to enter into the experience of both youth and manhood, because it relieves from all other fear. He who stands in awe of God can look down from a very great height upon all other perturbation. When we have seen Him from whose sight the heavens and the earth flee away, there is nothing in either the heavens or the earth that can produce a single ripple upon the surface of our souls.

The fifth and last reason which we assign for cherishing the feeling and principle of fear applies to youth, to manhood, and to old age, alike; the fear of God conducts to the love of God. By it our torpid souls are to be awakened from their torpor; our numbness and hardness of mind in respect to spiritual objects is to be removed. We are never for a moment to suppose that the fear of perdition is set before us as a model and permanent form of experience to be toiled after-a positive virtue and grace intended to be perpetuated through the whole future history of the soul.

It is employed only as an antecedent to a higher and a happier emotion; and when the purpose for which it has been elicited has been answered, it then disappears. But, at the same time, we desire to direct attention to the fact that he who has been exercised with this emotion, thoroughly and deeply, is conducted by it into the higher and happier form of religious experience. Religious fear and anxiety are the prelude to religious peace and joy. These are the discords that prepare for the concords. Shedd, D. The persons whom this duty of fear is recommended to, and bound upon; disciples, ministers, and ambassadors, all the friends of Christ; they not only may, but ought to fear Him, not only for His greatness and goodness, but upon the account of His punitive justice, as being able to cast both soul and body into hell.

Such a fear is not only awful, but laudable; not only commendable, but commanded, and not misbecoming the friends of Christ. The ministers of God may use arguments from fear of judgments, both to dissuade from sin, and to persuade to duty. Also against the notion that the body will escape the ruin of the soul. Perdition is not the destruction of the being of either, but of the well-being of both.

Learn, that to play false with convictions to save life will fail of its end. God can inflict a violent death in some other and more awful way. There is a hell for the body as well as for the soul; consequently sufferings adapted to the one as well as the other. Not one of them is forgotten before God. In Oriental countries, none but the poorest people buy the sparrow and eat it, so very little meat is there on the bones, and so very poor is it what there is of it. The comfortable population would not think of touching it any more than you would think of eating a bat or a lamprey eel.

We associate God with revolutions. We can see a Divine purpose in the discovery of America, in the invention of the art of printing, in the exposure of the Gunpowder Plot, in the contrivance of the needle-gun, in the ruin of an Austrian or Napoleonic despotism; but how hard it is to see God in the minute personal affairs of our lives.

We think of God as making a record of the starry host, but cannot realize the Bible truth that He knows how many hairs there are on your head. It seems a grand thing that God provided food for hundreds of thousands of Israelites in the desert, but we cannot appreciate the truth that when a sparrow is hungry God stoops down and opens its mouth, and puts the seed in.

We are struck with the idea that God fills the universe with His presence; but cannot understand how He encamps in the crystal palace of a dewdrop, or finds room to stand, without being crowded, between the alabaster pillars of a pond lily. We can see God in the clouds. Can we see God in these flowers on this platform? We are apt to place God upon some great platform, or try to do it, expecting Him there to act out His stupendous projects; but we forget that the life of a Cromwell, an Alexander, a Washington, or an archangel is no more under Divine inspiration than your life or mine.

Pompey thought there must have been a mist over the eyes of God because He so much favoured Caesar; but there is no such mist. He sees everything. True enough; but no more, certainly, than He is in the water in the glass on this table. We say God guides the stars in their courses--magnificent truth! God does not sit upon an indifferent and unsympathetic throne, but He sits down beside you to-day, and stands beside me to-day, and no affair of our lives is so insignificant but that it is of importance to God.

In the first place, God chooses for us our occupation. I am amazed to see how many people there are dissatisfied with the work they have to do. I think three-fourths wish they were in some other occupation; and they spend a great deal of time in regretting that they got in the wrong trade or profession. I want to tell you that God put into operation all the influences which led you to that particular choice. You know a man having a large estate. The owner of the estate points the man to what he knows he can do best; and so it is with the Lord. He calls us up, and points to that field for which we are best fitted.

So that the first lesson coming from this subject is: Stay cheerfully where God puts you. I remark, farther, that God has arranged the place of our dwelling. What particular city, or town, or street, or house you shall live in seems to be a mere matter of accident. You go out to hunt for a house, and you happen to pass up a certain street, and happen to see a sign, and you select that house. Was it all happening so? Oh, no. God guided you in every step. He foresaw the future. He knew all your circumstances, and He selected just that one house as better for you than any one of the ten thousand habitations in the city.

I remark, further, that God arranges all our friendships. You were driven to the wall. You found a man just at that crisis who sympathized with you and helped you. God sent that friend just as certain as He sent the ravens to feed Elijah, or the angel to strengthen Christ. Your domestic friends, your business friends: your Christian friends, God sent them to bless you; and if any of them have proved traitorous, it is only to bring out the value of those who remain. If some die, it is only that they may stand on the outpost of heaven to greet you at your coming.

You always will have friends--warmhearted friends--magnanimous friends; and, when sickness comes to your dwelling, there will be watchers; when trouble comes to your heart, there will be sympathisers; when death comes, there will be gentle fingers to close the eyes and fold the hands, and consoling lips to tell of a resurrection. Every man, if he has behaved himself well, is surrounded by three circles of friends; those on the outer circle wishing him well; those in the next circle willing to help him; while close up to his heart are a few who would die for him.

God pity the wretch who has not any friends; he has not behaved well. I remark, again, that God puts down the limit to our temporal prosperity. The world of finance seems to have no God in it. You cannot tell where men will land. The affluent fall; the poor rise. The ingenious fail; the ignorant succeed. An enterprise opening grandly shuts in bankruptcy; while out of the peat dug up from some New England marsh, the millionaire builds his fortune.

The poor man thinks it is chance that keeps him down. The rich man thinks it is chance which hoists him, and they are both wrong. God knows just how much money it is best for you to have. You never lose unless it is best for you to lose, and you never gain unless it is best for you to gain. You go up when it is best for you to go up, and go down when it is best for you to go down.

Prove it, you say. I will. This band is rolling off this way, and another band another way; one down and the other up. So I go into your life, and see strange things. Here is one providence pulling one way, and another in another way; but they are different parts of one machinery by which He will advance your present and everlasting well-being. This appears From plain Scripture testimonies see Psalms ; Ephesians From the nature of God, who being independent, and the first cause of all things, the creatures must needs depend upon Him in their being and working.

He is the end of all things, wise, knowing how to manage all for the best; powerful to effectuate whatever He has purposed, and faithful to accomplish all He has decreed, promised, or threatened. From the harmony and order of the most confused things in the world. Everything appears to a discerning eye to be wisely ordered, notwithstanding the confusions that seem to take place. From the fulfilment of prophecies, which could not possibly be without a providence to bring them to pass.

They are two, preserving and governing the creatures and their actions. God by His providence preserves all the creatures. And this act of providence is also necessary: for as the creature cannot be or exist without God, so neither can it act without Him Acts God does not make man as the carpenter doth the ship, which afterwards sails without him; but He rules and guides him, sitting at the helm, to direct and order all his motions: so that whatever men do, they do nothing without Him; not only in their good actions, where He gives grace, and excites it, working in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure; but also in their evil actions, wherein they are under the hand of providence, but in a very different manner.

It is most wise Isaiah Providence is most powerful. I shall conclude with an use of exhortation. Beware of drawing an excuse for your sin from the providence of God, for it is most holy, and has not the least efficiency in any sin you commit. Beware of murmuring and fretting under any dispensations of providence that ye meet with; remembering that nothing falls out without a wise and holy providence, which knows best what is fit and proper for you.

And in all eases, even amidst the most afflicting incidents that befall you, learn submission to the will of God. Beware of anxious cares and diffidence about your through-bearing in the world. Boston, D. But if we could only know how truly we belong to God it would be different. When the spring comes, the oak-tree, with its thousands upon thousands of leaves, is alive all over.

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The great heart of the oak-tree remembers every remotest tip of every farthest branch, and sends to each the message and the power of new life. It is no harder work for the oak to feed and sustain and remember a million leaves than to feed and remember only one. The thrill of the common life is passed on, without effort, to each. We may be no more than far-off leaves upon the great tree of His life. Bat we are remembered just as the heart remembers the finger-tips to which it sends the crimson blood.

Victor Hugo. There was a beautiful engraving on the wall of the Matterhorn mountain. It was remarked that the wondrous works of God were not only shown in those lofty, snow-clad mountains, but also the tiny mosses found in their crevices. Christian Age. Owing to the depth beneath the soil at which it is found, it is generally deliciously cool and refreshing.

We are at a loss to conceive the infinite range of mind, thought, and heart that embraces alike the inconceivable magnitudes and the microscopic minutiae of the universe. And yet this same phenomenon is witnessed in ourselves--minute images of God. While the great Gustavus Adolphus was in the midst of the dust, smoke, clangour, and excitement of a momentous battle, a little bird, dizzy and bewildered with the noise and wild atmospheric confusion, sank and lighted upon his shoulder.

The battle, vast in its proportions, momentous in the interests it involved, still left room in his mind and heart for the distress and peril of that little bird, and he hid it in safety beneath the folds of his dress, and plunged again into the fight. The same trait appears--on a very small scale, it may be--in our own experience, and appearing there, pictures in miniature the all-embracing range of the Divine thought and providential care.

A little error of the eye, a misguidance of the hand, a slip of the foot, a starting of a horse, a sudden mist, or a great shower, or a word uncle signedly cast forth in an army, has turned the stream of victory from one side to another, and thereby disposed of empires and whole nations. No prince ever returned safe out of a battle but may well remember how many blows and bullets have gone by him that might easily have gone through him; and by what little odd, unforeseen chances, death has been turned aside which seemed in a full, ready, direct career to have been posting to him.

All which passages, if we do not acknowledge to have been guided to their respective ends and effects by the conduct of a superior and a Divine hand, we do, by the same assertion, cashier all providence, strip the Almighty of His noblest prerogative, and make God, not the Governor, but the mere Spectator of the world. South, D. Men talk in a general way about the goodness of God, His benevolence, compassion, and long-suffering; but they think of it as a flood pouring itself out through all the world--as the light of the sun, not as the continually repeated action of an intelligent and living mind contemplating whom it visits and intending what it effects.

They are of two kinds Those which respect this world. Some people go through life much more anxiously than others, though in outward circumstances there seems little difference in their respective lots. Those on the lower ground have the least care. As we rise higher in the social scale, then it brings increasing solicitude.

Provision has to be made not only for the wants of the day, but for appearances. It is right enough that men should look to appearances. God looks to appearances. He has made this world-house beautiful, and we are but following the Divine example when we try to make our life a thing of variety, largeness, and grace. But in doing so, the gates of anxiety are opened to us, and we are careful and troubled. Fears respecting the world to come and our spiritual state and relation to that.

The fullest victory over the cares and fears of this life is to be gained only by living for a higher world. Again, there is unlimited power with God, and if we are true trusting disciples of Christ this is a great dissuasive from fear. God will use all that infinite power to protect and save His trusting children.

Why should we fear? Then our Lord teaches us that we are of more value to God than the inferior creatures. He has a higher care about us. Raleigh, D. Divine providence implies the preservation of all things. Providence also implies the government of the world by its great and almighty Ruler. We are reminded of the supreme worth and importance of the friendship of God. By this subject we are taught the duty of devout attention to the dispensations of Divine providence. Reverential submission is another lesson that we derive from this important subject.

Indeed, Purim is celebrated to this day. If Jezebel is portrayed in 1 and 2 Kings as the nightmare that every Israelite should avoid, Esther is portrayed as her opposite. On the one hand is Esther, a heroine who protects her people by preserving their right to worship Yhwh alone, even though they dwell in a foreign land. Be- coming justly famous, she and her father are widely revered, especially among Jews living abroad. Like Esther and Mordecai, these Jews have no choice but to negotiate the complex problems faced by a minority people inhabiting a much larger and more powerful empire.

Justly infamous, her name becomes a curse, both in the way it is translated in Hebrew and as it was applied by later Jewish and Christian authors to other detested women e.

Yet how different were these two women really? Though one was Jewish and the other Phoenician, one royal and the other the orphan daughter of resident aliens, they share a great deal in common. As the daughter of a Phoenician king, Jezebel would have been appointed as a high priestess of her ancestral god, Baal Melquart, and asked to serve as a representative of her religious faith from a young age. Given to Ahab, the king of Israel, by her father, the king of Sidon, she, like Esther, was not asked to agree to the match. Installed as queen of Israel, she brought her culture, her gods, and her companions with her, refusing to abandon her devotion to Baal, just as Esther had refused to abandon Yhwh or her adoptive father, Mor- decai.

Given the opportunity, Jezebel worked to promote Baal worship in Israel, her new home, over the objections of the prophet Elijah. Similarly, Esther worked to promote the good fortune of her people, resident aliens in Persia, over the objections of Haman the Agagite. Both Jezebel and Esther arranged for the deaths of their enemies, and both employed their feminine wiles to advance their goals. Like the seventh-grade girls of Evanston, Illinois, biblical writers took sides, designating one woman as the shameful slut Jezebel and the other as the heroic queen Esther.

Opening the Bible As interpreters, readers of the Bible today are asked to take sides too: for or against Jezebel, for or against slavery, and for or against particular kinds of marriages, to offer just a few examples. Should we openly declare our com- mitment to premarital virginity and abstinence, or will sex education and informed consent lead young people to make healthy sexual choices?

Whose side is the Bible on anyway? Rather than getting caught up in these debates by attempting to pull the Bible over to a particular side, this book invites readers to encounter the full complexity of the biblical witness, taking both the diversity and the peculiarity of the Bible into account. Instead of repeating slogans and sound bites about sex and the Bible, this book presents a detailed analysis of biblical attitudes and assumptions while also exploring the reception of biblical narratives by later Christian and Jewish interpreters, each of whom had his or her own, unique approach to what were already a di- verse set of biblical traditions.

If one book recommends polygamy, the next recommends celibacy. If one revels in erotic desire, the next warns that desire is evil, a source of nothing but trouble. If one assumes that women should be prophets, the next tells women to sit down and remain silent. If one assumes that children and property are the aim of human life, the next longs for the sex-free life of angels. And so on. The Bible does not offer a systematic set of teachings or a single sexual code, but it does reveal sometimes conflicting attempts on the part of people and groups to define sexual morality, and to do so in the name of God.

If I could meet my twelve-year-old self now, I would like to invite her to sit with me on a big gold couch with olive-green flowers. After snuggling in and getting comfortable, we would read the Bible together, asking whatever questions might occur to us. Along the way, we would discover that biblical writers told stories and presented teachings that are much more complex and fantastic than anything we could have imagined. Bound by their own histories, languages, and concerns, ancient writers, we would notice, were as worried as we are about the nature of human bodies, the meanings of sex and desire, and what might constitute an ethical sexual life.

We would not hesitate, however, to call some of their answers into question, particularly when those answers seem to demand suffering, destruction, or death. We would not rejoice when Jezebel was finally thrown over the palace walls and eaten by dogs. The Song of Songs, an ancient erotic poem that was once considered the holiest of all the holy books, will serve as our first example.

This amaz- ing poem is filled with luscious imagery designed to awaken the desires of lovers for each other, whether those lovers are imagined as a human couple or as a metaphorical pairing expressive of the erotic charge be- tween humanity and God. Turning to the book of Ruth and stories about King David, we will meet protagonists who eagerly engage in sexual in- tercourse outside the bonds of marriage and are blessed as a result. Exodus and Deuteronomy assumed polygamy to be the normal Israelite practice, with instructions given regarding how to treat slave concubines and second wives.

Because, as chapter 3 demonstrates, by the time the New Testament was written, many Jews and Christians thought that sexual desire was a problem to be solved, not a blessing given by God. The truly faithful should therefore attempt to overcome desire altogether. Biblical books like Leviticus, Joshua, and Revelation represented the enemies of Israel or the opponents of the Christians as sexual deviants, suggesting that worship of any God other than Yhwh inevitably leads to sexual excess.

But these tales of sexual overindulgence are not innocent fun. Yet, as chapter 5 will show, from the perspective of the Bible, the worst form of sexual deviance was not sex outside of marriage or even incest and bestiality but sex with angels. In chapter 6, biblical teachings regarding menstruation, semen, and cir- cumcision will be scrutinized. Why were Israelites circumcised? Why was menstrual blood considered polluting? And why was semen polluting as well, though it was also regarded as a precious resource? An earlier concern to protect the temple in Jerusalem from the contagious pollution of menstrual blood became a metaphor for pollution in general by New Testament times.

Once the temple was destroyed alto- gether, both Jews and Christians found new ways to regulate their genital discharges, with some ruling that menstruants and ejaculants could attend worship at the synagogue or church and others ruling that they could not.

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The organ was gone, the thrift store was a total loss, and the sanc- tuary was ruined. All that was left standing was the steeple and an empty shell of masonry walls, covered in ashes and ice. After the loss of our beloved church, we met in a trailer on our lot, with the shell of our build- ing behind us and the hope that someday we might rebuild. Five years later, on Sunday, January 17, , the building was finally ready, or at least ready enough for us to move in. Those are, unfortunately, realities in life and especially in a life of faith. Whoever says otherwise is, as they say, selling something.

She then quoted Martin Luther King Jr. But still, not all was well that Sunday. Our Haitian brothers and sisters had suffered immensely a few days earlier, victims of the most terrible earth- quake to hit their homeland in generations. At First Baptist, we still had many bills to pay, sick members, losses and struggles to face, and a main sanctuary that is still incomplete.

Yet so many people were there in our new multipurpose room, warm and dry under our new roof and refurbished steeple, glad to be alive. For the moment, we could rejoice. For the moment, we could enjoy the party. Pasting a plastic smile on what are sometimes death-dealing commandments and disturb- ing stories will not lessen their potential for harm. Similarly, selectively citing what is uplifting and won- derful, however well meaning our intentions, will not teach us what the Bible truly means or what the Bible must truly say.

The Bible is compli- cated enough, ancient enough, and flexible enough to support an almost endless set of interpretive agendas. Even today, progressives can cite scripture to celebrate the consecration of gay marriage just as effortlessly as conservatives can argue that God refuses to accept anything other than marriage between one man and one woman. Rather, we ourselves must decide what kind of people we will become, what kinds of weddings should be cel- ebrated, and how best to love one another. By writing this book, I hope to move the current conversation about sex and the Bible past the polemical and shortsighted claims of the ERLC, the simplistic and harmful messages of Biblezines, and the confident pro- nouncements of slave apologists toward a larger understanding of what the Bible does have to say about bodies, sex, and gender.

Though biblical teachings are rarely easy or consistent, they can continue to resonate with our own concerns and experiences. Ancient people had bodies, too, and their bodies were as vulnerable to wounds and as in need of caresses as ours are today. It can also be a partner in the complicated dance of figuring out what it means to live in bodies that are filled with longing, both to touch and to be touched. Park and others are not always this threatening, but the over- all message is clear: teenagers who engage in premarital sex are risking both their lives and their bodies.

If either parents or children fail in this crucial endeavor, educators warn, disaster is sure to follow. But by claiming that the Bible supports their point of view, these educators are selling both kids and their parents a bill of goods. As this chapter shows, passages celebrating sexual pleasure outside the bonds of marriage can be found within the Bible and, remarkably, no one dies. The Song of Songs, an ancient biblical love poem that speaks frankly of towering breasts, flowing black locks, kissable lips, and the joy of sexual fulfillment, offers a particularly striking example of this phenom- enon, but other biblical passages are nearly as forthright.

The love between Naomi and Ruth is paralleled by the devotion of Jonathan to David, a friendship so strong that Jonathan comes to love David more than he loved women. The child of their adultery dies, but Bathsheba later becomes pregnant with Solomon, the famously wise king and the purported author of the Song. In these biblical passages, sexual longing refuses to be limited to the love between a husband and wife, or even between a man and a woman.

Hoping to find him again, she searches throughout the city, faint with love, only to be beaten and wounded for her pains. Reunited, the man caresses her with his gaze from her san- daled feet to her purple tresses, describing her thighs, navel, breasts, and neck. Pledging her love in return, the woman promises spiced wine and strong scents, warm embraces in a budding vineyard, and the juice of her own pomegranates.

At the close of the poem, she calls to him again, her desire as of yet unquenched. Modern readers are sometimes surprised that this book is canonical at all. Can a book this sexy be biblical? Surely someone tried to keep it out of the Bible! But, in fact, the Song of Songs has been among the most widely read and closely studied of all the canonical books. Copies of the Song were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the collection of books hidden in caves in the desert outside of Jerusalem sometime before 73 CE, and it was included among the list of sacred books mentioned by an im- portant first-century Jewish historian named Josephus.

Like these earlier poems, the Song does not shrink from describing genitalia, sexual intimacy, and climax. But What Does the Song Mean? Still, the metaphorical language of the Song does not require readers to envision particular sex acts and positions. Its metaphors remain ambiguous, even as they heighten desire through text, pattern, and language, mimicking the rhythm of sexual intercourse and titillating with sensual, luxuriant imagery.

Climax is hinted at rather than described, leaving it to readers to supply what the poem refuses explicitly to reveal. And, interestingly enough, once awakened, desire—not marriage or childbearing—remains the focus. Voluntary intimacy and pleasure are the goal of these lovers, and social norms appear to be irrelevant to the delight they intend to pursue.

Their involvement, even more than the speeches of the lovers, hints at the fundamentally open perspective to sexual satisfaction adopted by the Song. The lover is not a king; he is a shepherd, or a gardener. Her daughter imagines that she will offer her home for their encounters. They serve as witnesses to her devotion and as dialogue partners regarding the nature of love. Daughters and mothers cheer the lovers on. As the poet has already intimated, however, this woman is beyond their protection, which she rejects.

Male representatives of the city also try to control her. Neither her brothers nor the watchmen could keep her from her goal. The poem therefore rejects the view that men can or should control women. It also displays no in- terest whatsoever in defending marriage as the only appropriate setting for love.

Marriage is beside the point. Who Is the Man? Who Is the Woman? In addition to undermining the importance of marriage, the Song of Songs fails to meet expectations about male and female roles, exhibit- ing a remarkably open attitude toward gender. The dialogue form of the poem introduces the phenomenon.

Though it is usually possible to detect whether the poet is speaking in the voice of a man or a woman in the original Hebrew like many other languages, Hebrew nouns, pro- nouns, adjectives, and verbal forms have gender , some verses remain opaque, and so it can be difficult to discern who, exactly, is speaking. Many of these images are rooted in ancient tastes and ideals, some of which no longer resonate. These beautiful and yet strange metaphors have encouraged remark- ably creative interpretations. So interpreted, the seductive prose of the Song was marshaled to other ends, and, in the process, it became one of the most important books of the Bible.

They even argued that it was the most sacred book of all. Thierry envisioned his soul ascend- ing to the house of God, where the union of his soul with Christ could commence without restraint. Christ could switch genders and poetic roles as well. As virgin lovers of the Bridegroom, they awaited consummation in the closed garden of the convent. As beloved daughters of Christ the Mother, they received heavenly milk from his breasts. Allegorical readings of the Bible are not as popular as they once were, and thus the playful role-switching of ancient and medieval interpreters can seem odd to readers today.

Whatever this sacred poem means, whenever it was writ- ten, and whoever composed it, the Song refuses to limit human desire to marriage or even to the love between a man and a woman. As we will see, the Song is not the only biblical text capable of entertaining the joys and possibilities of love, longing, and touch. The Song may offer the most obvious example, but other texts are nearly as stimulating.

But Ruth Clung to Her: The Love Affair of Ruth and Naomi For too long, scholar Sara Ahmed has suggested, family has been envi- sioned as an achievement toward which all should aim but which, thanks to culturally informed norms and ideals, only a few can enjoy. To the writer of Ruth, family can consist of an older woman and her beloved immigrant daughter-in-law, women can easily raise children on their own, and men can be seduced if it serves the interests of women.

Therefore she is a Moabite, a people the Israelites were explicitly commanded elsewhere in the Bible to avoid. Described as descendants of the incestuous union of Lot and one of his daughters see Gen. The Moabites cannot be admitted into the assembly of Yhwh, Deuteronomy instructs —5 , advice that was repeated by both Ezra and Nehemiah Ezra ; Neh. According to Numbers, the Moabites seduced the Israelites into idolatry with their god Baal of Peor, resulting in the execu- tion of all the chiefs of the people by the direct order of Yhwh —5.

Moab will be laid to waste, the prophet Zephaniah predicted, because they scoff at both the Lord and his people — From the perspec- tive of much of the Hebrew Bible, then, Moabites are to be avoided and shunned. The book of Ruth, however, takes quite a different approach, and not only to Moabites. Ruth begins by reporting that, during the time of the judges, there was a famine so severe that the Judean Elimelech and his wife, Naomi, went to Moab to seek relief.

Settling there, their sons, Mahlon and Chil- ion, married local women. Then, tragically, all three men died, leaving Naomi and her two daughters-in-law to fend for themselves. Then when Naomi hears that the famine has ended, she decides to return to Judah, encouraging her daughters-in-law to remain behind with their Moabite families. They resist, and so she points out that she has no sons left for them to marry.

By following Levirate marriage customs, the widows of Mahlon and Chilion might also produce heirs, continuing the family line. But, Naomi points out, she has no sons, and so both she and her daughters-in-law can have no future together. Continuing the Family Line As with the Song of Songs, it is difficult to determine precisely how to interpret this carefully constructed story.

Is the emphasis on Ruth and Naomi, their devotion to each other and the fertility of their unwavering love? These two women—one Israelite and one Moabite—arrange for the continuation of the family line first by their fierce love for each other and then by means of a daring sexual overture. According to Israelite law, the poor were permit- ted to glean fields for remaining grain after the harvest see Lev. But when Ruth sees an opportunity to im- prove her circumstances, she takes it.

Then, after sharing a meal together, he offers her even greater honor, allowing her to glean among the standing sheaves, a prac- tice she continues throughout the barley and wheat harvests. In other words, according to Levirate marriage laws, Boaz is next in line to marry Ruth. Identifying herself, Ruth requests that he spread his cloak over her, a forthright request that he take her in marriage. He responds by prais- ing her for the steadfast love she has displayed. Did Ruth and Boaz enjoy a sexual encounter? The book closes with a reminder from the narrator that this same Obed will be the father of Jesse and the grandfather of King David.

Nursing Obed The devotion of Ruth to Naomi may well be the central lesson of this story: through their love, boundaries of nation, age, and religion are crossed and a child is created who is raised not by a married couple, but by the women, including Naomi, who nurses Obed at her breast. Ruth and Naomi are in this way the conduits of wholeness and well-being, and not only for themselves, but also for the whole community, particularly the women, who rejoice at their good fortune. Instead, they work within existing structures in surprising, bold ways, taking the initiative and working out their own destiny.

Lurking behind the book of Ruth, however, is a story not only of successful female love and empowerment, but also of male-dominated property rights and inheritance.

Together the women place themselves within an established, male-led household, manipulating existing prop- erty laws in their favor, but without challenging the basic validity of these same laws. The book also never really undermines the secondary status of Moabites. As already noted when discussing the Song of Songs, such behavior could lead to abuse and violence against women, as the woman of the Song dis- covered when searching for her beloved in the city. Neither book limits sexual intercourse to marriage, and this book in par- ticular seems to assume that extraordinary circumstances—a famine, a childless family, and the absence of an available redeemer—justifies extraordinary measures, including sexual assertiveness on the part of women.

Apart from Naomi and Ruth, there would have been no David, and their example is extolled throughout the book. It is therefore the devotion of two women—one Israelite, one Moabite—for each other that makes Is- raelite royalty possible, and in direct violation of Israelite law. Two generations later, David will also violate social norms, first by enter- ing into a loving covenant with the son of King Saul and then by engag- ing in a seduction of his own. Like Ruth, the story of David refuses to define family as an ordered grouping of one husband, one wife, and their obedient children and, like both the book of Ruth and the Song of Songs, sex outside of marriage is not only practiced, it is encouraged.

Nevertheless, there is an obvious and over- whelming focus on King David, his rise, his exploits, and his military successes. David ascends to the throne by means of an erotic attachment to Jonathan, the son of the current king. Once on the throne, he displays his status as king by marrying the former wives of his rivals, and, when they are not enough, by initiating an adulterous affair with Bathsheba, the wife of one of his military commanders, Uriah the Hittite. When she becomes pregnant, he arranges for the death of her husband and then marries her himself.

The book of Deuteronomy may prescribe death for adulterers , but the liaison of David and Bathsheba ultimately produces the heir to the throne. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vine- yards. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys. In the end, Yhwh cautions, you will be his slaves. The people, however, ignore these dangers, seeking instead a king who will protect them from other nations, particularly the Philistines.

The bond between David and Jonathan is exceptionally strong, so strong that Jonathan takes off his robe, armor, sword, and bow and gives them to his friend. Their deep love and devo- tion is also hierarchical; it is Jonathan whose love for David surpassed his love of women and Jonathan who is accused by his father of an improper relationship with the charismatic David. Some historians have resisted this interpretation.

Or does it? Their love also implies that before becoming king, David, the beautiful musician and shepherd, enjoyed an intimate friendship with a man. According to this story, David enjoyed sexual satisfaction and intimate love with both his dear friend Jonathan and with his wives. All the leaders of Israel declare their loyalty to the new king, and he is installed in Jerusalem. Newly minted as king of Israel and residing in the capital city, David cements his political alliances by taking additional wives and concubines, displaying the wealth and stature befitting his new status.

One day while his troops are out battling the Ammonites, David views a beautiful woman bathing on her roof. A messenger informs him that she is already married, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, but David sends for her anyway. Lying together, she becomes pregnant, and so he calls for Uriah to return home. As we have seen, references to feet regu- larly point to sexual encounters. This sordid tale of adultery and arranged murder complicates the por- trait of King David we have encountered thus far. Though much of 1 and 2 Samuel defends David against detractors, the adulterous liaison with Bathsheba leads inexorably to the demise of both David and his household.

The love of the poor man did not prevent the rich man from exploiting his neighbor and stealing the beloved lamb, however, an action that infuriates David. Yet, in contravention of other biblical laws, neither he nor Bathsheba is killed. In other words, according to these interpreters, Bathsheba was a will- ing and equal partner in the adultery, if not a seductive temptress who forced David to misbehave against his own interests.

After all, she was a foreign woman, and foreign women cannot be trusted. In 1 and 2 Samuel, the rise of King David is therefore explained, in part, in terms of intimate friendships between men, political marriages, and sexual conquests. His mar- riage to Michal, daughter of Saul, and to the former wives of his rivals dramatizes his dominance over the men who stand in his way.

His im- proper liaison with Bathsheba, however, demonstrates that he, too, is ca- pable of betraying Yhwh, a betrayal that leads to his own unmanning in the form of the rape of his concubines by his son Absalom. Nevertheless, the royal line continued through Bathsheba and David, producing Solomon, the next king. The writers of 1 and 2 Samuel do not limit erotic entanglements to marriage or to the love be- tween a man and a woman. They also portray David, the hero of most of the story, violating biblical laws against adultery. In these books, sex, betrayal, desire, and love are broad categories, despite the underlying as- sumption that women belong to their husbands or fathers.

In the case of David, the love between two men—covenantal or erotic—turns out to be the most productive love of all. King David never even bothers to pursue marriage as commonly envisioned today. His first erotic attach- ment is to the son of the king, he marries several women, and he en- gages in an extramarital affair with the wife of his general. In other words, when all the biblical books are taken into account, no simple mes- sage regarding the meaning and limits of desire can be found. In fact, the passages considered in this chapter suggest that nonmarital desire can be both limitless and productive.

As we will see in the next chapter, however in other biblical books, desire is a matter of property rights, es- pecially the rights of men to the women and slaves in their care. But surely marriage is more complicated than this. Certain groups have always been designated as ineligible for marriage, denied its privi- leges and its benefits. Common-law marriages and marriages between citizens and noncitizens are also recognized differently in different states, and, not too long ago, marriages between men and women of different races were patently il- legal.

Prior to , when the Supreme Court ruled that antimiscegena- tion laws are unconstitutional, twelve states outlawed marriages between whites and Native Americans, fourteen states banned white-Asian mar- riage, and many more banned white—African American marriage. Again and again, the Bible is inserted into these discussions, just as it was in miscegenation controversies several decades ago, as if biblical teachings can solve the problem of which marriages the state should or should not recognize.

This strategy needs to stop, not only because the separation of church and state is a central democratic value, but also be- cause the Bible offers no viable solution to our marriage dilemmas. There is no such thing as a single, biblically based view of legitimate marriage. As we observed in the previous chapter, the assumption that women are the property of the men in their families, to be disposed of as their fathers, brothers, and husbands see fit, informs much of biblical literature.

The Song of Songs reacts against this assumption by refusing to limit sexual desire to marriage, even for the woman. By contrast, both the book of Ruth and the story of David presuppose that, in the end, the point of marriage and family is to continue the male line. Biblical marriage law is even more emphatic: women belong to men; male honor is tied, in part, to how well men supervise the women in their care; and men demonstrate their wealth and success by the number of le- gitimate wives and children they are able to acquire.

Though the practice of polygamy disappears from later biblical writings, the view that men are supposed to control their wives, whom they own, does not. New Testa- ment writings often adopt this same perspective, but with a proviso: though marriage is acceptable, celibacy is even better. Adjusting previous teachings regarding marriage and family, Jesus and his followers emphasize not mar- riage, property, and genealogical relationships but the sexual self-control that comes with faith in Christ. When it comes to marriage, biblical laws are almost entirely contradictory.

According to this view, sexual union overcomes a division that was created when God made two beings, male and female, from one human person, Adam. Embedded within the creation story, then, are two seemingly im- mutable principles: in sexual intercourse, men and women seek to reunite the flesh they once shared, and, in marriage, women necessarily accept subordination, which is rooted in their desire for their husbands. In the first account of human cre- ation, they are one flesh because they are both made of the same material adamah—fertile soil ,6 and in the image of God.

In the second, they are one flesh because God forms the female from the adam he had already cre- ated. The explanation given for sexual intercourse in Genesis 2 is therefore contradicted by the creation account given in Genesis 1. Instead, desire accom- panies her subordination to her husband, for whom she now must bear children in pain.

Female desire is therefore a punishment, not a blessing, and it is male desire that initiates sexual coupling. Recognizing, perhaps, that childbirth is a dangerous proposition for women, especially in premod- ern times, those who composed the story of Adam and Eve interpreted female desire as a source of risk, not as a blessing. Then he split him and made two bodies, one on each side, and turned them about. Many ancient Christians shared this same point of view, imagining an initial androgynous being followed by secondary division, a separation that some hoped to overcome.

Ancient rabbis did interpret the separation of the male from the female in Genesis 2 as an explanation for male-female sexual intercourse—the purpose of marriage was to return the pair to a state of unity—but this did not prevent them from imagining the original human form as dually sexed.

In fact, the fascination with biblical creation accounts as a source for marriage law begins only in the first century BCE, long after these stories were first told and written down. Greek-speaking Jews, early Christians, and rabbis may have turned to Genesis again and again as they worked out what sexuality might mean, but no pre-Christian bibli- cal book employs Genesis in this way. Why is it so difficult to farm the land? And why do women labor in childbirth? In one ancient Babylonian creation myth, the story of Atrahasis, hu- manity is created to till the land for the gods.

Expelled from the garden, Adam and Eve wear clothing, beget children, and raise flocks. Finally, as in Genesis 3, in the Epic of Gilgamesh humanity misses a chance at immortality after losing access to a particular plant. Placed in an ancient context, the Genesis stories can also be read not as explanations for human sexuality but as responses to the perils of the an- cient agricultural economy. Farming and fertility are a major concern of both stories, particularly the story of Adam and Eve.

In the second, the writer indicates that the purpose of humankind is to till the soil. Childbearing was also a fundamentally important but exceedingly dangerous activity for ancient Israelites. Multiple children successfully birthed and brought past infancy ensured community survival, since children could offer assistance for the intensive, subsistence-level farming of the period and provide the num- bers required to occupy and then secure the land.

If there is a rationale for sexual intercourse, then, it appears to be compelled not by a worry about a particular sexual order but by an interest in encouraging procreation, despite the risks involved. For the land and the community to prosper, men must sow their seeds, both in the arable land and in a fer- tile female. To fulfill their appointed lot, Genesis suggests, women have no choice but to dedicate their bodies to this purpose. The pa- triarchs marry more than one wife, take concubines as well as wives, and attempt to father as many children as possible.

Near the end of his life, Abra- ham takes a second wife named Keturah, with whom he fathers four more sons. Jacob marries the sisters Leah and Rachel as well as their two maids, Bilhah and Zilpah. Jacob fathers a total of twelve sons with his wives and concubines, as well as a number of daughters, though only one is named. The importance given to progeny, especially sons, is further emphasized by the organization of the book: upon the death of each patriarch, Genesis offers a list of his wives and descendants, with notice given regarding where they settled and the amount of wealth they accumulated.

Situating the Genesis creation accounts within a context of ancient myth and within the demands of ancient agriculture reminds us that these are ancient stories designed to address the needs and circumstances of Israel, not twenty-first-century Christians and Jews. Genesis does not so much settle the question of human sexuality as raise it in striking, interesting ways. To find direct commandments of the biblical God concerning marriage, we need to turn not to Genesis but to the covenant instructions purport- edly given to the Hebrew people by Moses and collected in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy.

Helen Hardt, I toss many profanities your way for making me wait. I need to know what the secrets are Jade Roberts is in love with Talon Steel but no longer welcome in his home. Talon and his brothers are hiding something, and Jade is determined to find out what it is. The moment Talon saw Jade he wanted her, ached for her, craved her…and now his desire has become his obsession.

If he and Jade are to have a future, he knows he must make peace with the dark shadows and horrors of his past. Meet Talon. Talon Steel. Helen exceeded every expectation I had for this book. It was heart pounding, heartbreaking, intense, full throttle genius. Helen Hardt has truly blown me away with this series. It is dark, emotional, intense, horrifying, and utterly beautiful all mixed together.

To that end, she continues her investigation of the Steels…and unknowingly attracts some dangerous foes from their shrouded history. Talon loves Jade deeply and longs to possess her forever, so he faces his worst fears and exposes his rawest wounds in an attempt to heal. What's a man to do when the one who got away comes roaring back into his life, working smack dab next to him in the same office? But when captivating, brilliant, sexy as sin Sloane issues me a challenge -- make her purr like no man has done before -- I don't say no.

Hardt has continued to weave her web in this installment, and the results are every bit as good…or perhaps better…than what we have seen so far. With every answer, there is another question. That is definitely a proper name for this book. Not only did I melt many times while reading it, I also went up in flames. Jonah Steel is intelligent, rich, and hard-working. As the oldest of his siblings, he was charged by his father to protect them. Melanie Carmichael has her own baggage. As Melanie and Jonah attempt to work through their issues together, desperately trying to ignore the desire brewing between them, ghosts from both their pasts surface…and danger draws near.

Ice Knights defenseman Zach Blackburn has come down with the flu, and my BFF—his PR manager—begs me to put my nursing degree to use and get him back to health. Of course she would call in a favor for the most hated man in Harbor City. Paparazzi spot me and pictures, plus accusations that I slept with him, fly faster than a hockey puck. At first, all of Harbor City wants my blood—or to give me a girlie-girl makeover. But then And now this fickle town wants me with the big jerk twenty-four seven.

I never slept with him the first time! But no one will listen. Successful people are where they are today because of their habits. Everything that you are today, and everything that you will ever accomplish, is determined by the quality of the habits that you form. By creating good habits and adopting a positive behavior, you too can become successful and live a prosperous life. Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women not living into their full potential. In Girl, Stop Apologizing, 1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call.

She knows that many women have been taught to define themselves in light of other people—whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee—instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. With a challenge to women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to let go of, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to growth, confidence, and believing in yourself.

The result was a book that became an international phenomenon, selling millions of copies worldwide while becoming the 1 bestseller in 13 different countries. Drawing from the pool of psychological research on these topics, as well as the timeless wisdom of philosophers such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, he dissects religion and politics and the uncomfortable ways they have come to resemble one another. He looks at our relationships with money, entertainment and the internet, and how too much of a good thing can psychologically eat us alive.

He openly defies our definitions of faith, happiness, freedom—and even of hope itself. One of the great modern writers has produced another book that will set the agenda for years to come. But returning to the small seaside town her husband grew up in does not go to plan, the rain pours and the long days become stifling. And then the unthinkable happens….

Her husband Jake and her six-year-old son Dylan go for an early morning walk along the beautiful, windswept clifftops. Or will she have to confront her own secrets first? Shalini Boland is one hell of a story teller. I think I may still be in shock after reading this. You will just have to read this book. This book has a killer twist at the end which I never saw coming. And even in the epilogue, there is another twist. Just fantastic!!! Such a great book from beginning to end. Twists then more twists… loved it!!! Can't recommend it enough. Pick it up today and read it if you haven't.

This author never seems to disappoint!!! It's not often a psychological thriller manages to surprise me, but this twist left me with my mouth hanging wide open and consequently saying 'NO WAY! Wow, what a page turner! This was a great, gripping, tense, compelling, fast-paced psychological thriller that sucked me in from the very first page! Best ever! Totally shocked by the ending.

Do NOT miss! And this new book is pure Shalini crazy! I loved every word, page and paragraph! I was hooked and I did get emotional reading it… Put this on your summer must read shelf now! What a story! You have to read it for yourself! Loved it!! You will not regret purchasing this book! I literally could not stop reading… Exciting and spellbinding. If you like to read psychological thrillers, don't miss this one!

I'm a big fan of her novels and this one left me breathless. It's the summer of and in the small town of Elm Haven, Illinois, five twelve-year-old boys are forging the powerful bonds that a lifetime of change will not break. From sunset bike rides to shaded hiding places in the woods, the boys' days are marked by all of the secrets and silences of an idyllic middle-childhood. But amid the sundrenched cornfields their loyalty will be pitilessly tested. When a long-silent bell peals in the middle of the night, the townsfolk know it marks the end of their carefree days.

From the depths of the Old Central School, a hulking fortress tinged with the mahogany scent of coffins, an invisible evil is rising. Strange and horrifying events begin to overtake everyday life, spreading terror through the once idyllic town. Determined to exorcize this ancient plague, Mike, Duane, Dale, Harlen, and Kevin must wage a war of blood—against an arcane abomination who owns the night It is autumn when inconceivable horror comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden.

The body of a teenager is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long lastrevenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day. But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next doora girl who has never seen a Rubik's Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night. Sweeping top honors at film festivals all over the globe, director Tomas Alfredsson's film of Let the Right One In has received the same kind of spectacular raves that have been lavished on the book.

American and Swedish readers of vampire fiction will be thrilled! The story has continued to reach new viewers in a London Musical and the book remains a vampire favorite among its readers. Terrorists-for-hire have created a weapon that can induce earthquakes and cause dormant volcanoes to erupt. One terrifying side-effect of the weapon is that prior to the devastation, the vibrations drive ordinary people to suicide and violence. A wave of madness begins sweeping the country beginning with a mass shooting in Congress.

Joe Ledger and his team go on a wild hunt to stop the terrorists and uncover the global super-power secretly funding them. At every step the stakes increase as it becomes clear that the end-game of this campaign of terror is igniting the Yellowstone caldera, the super-volcano that could destroy America. Deep Silence pits Joe Ledger against terrorists with bleeding-edge science weapons, an international conspiracy, ancient technologies from Atlantis and Lemuria, and an escalating threat that could crack open the entire Earth. Its lack makes you unable to achieve your goals.

Ignoring it inevitably leads to regret and feeling sad about how more successful and incredible your life could have been if you had only decided to develop it. It takes months if not years to develop powerful self-control that will protect you from impulsive decisions, laziness, procrastination, and inaction. You need to exhibit self-discipline day in, day out, days in a year. What if you had a companion who would remind you daily to stay disciplined and persevere, even when the going gets tough? Thinking in Systems, is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global.

Some of the biggest problems facing the world—war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation—are essentially system failures. They cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking.

While readers will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology. Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner. In a world growing ever more complicated, crowded, and interdependent, Thinking in Systems helps readers avoid confusion and helplessness, the first step toward finding proactive and effective solutions.

The story will make you laugh out loud, but its. Discover some of the most important techniques to increase your self-control and. Attempting to escape the Empire's borders while keeping his identity a secret, he is accosted by twin sisters— one golden-haired, the other silver-haired— in a meeting that sets the gears of fate in motion.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow. Winter has stopped the war—almost—yet men are dying, calling out for the Dragon. But where is he? In the Heart of the Stone lies the next great test of the Dragon reborn. Rafe Judkins is attached to write and executive produce. Account Options Sign in. Top charts.

New arrivals. Free sneak peeks. See more. Tiamat's Wrath. Book 8. The eighth book in the NYT bestselling Expanse series, Tiamat's Wrath finds the crew of the Rocinante fighting an underground war against a nearly invulnerable authoritarian empire, with James Holden a prisoner of the enemy. Now a Prime Original series. Thirteen hundred gates have opened to solar systems around the galaxy. But as humanity builds its interstellar empire in the alien ruins, the mysteries and threats grow deeper. In the dead systems where gates lead to stranger things than alien planets, Elvi Okoye begins a desperate search to discover the nature of a genocide that happened before the first human beings existed, and to find weapons to fight a war against forces at the edge of the imaginable.

But the price of that knowledge may be higher than she can pay. At the heart of the empire, Teresa Duarte prepares to take on the burden of her father's godlike ambition. And throughout the wide human empire, the scattered crew of the Rocinante fights a brave rear-guard action against Duarte's authoritarian regime. Memory of the old order falls away, and a future under Laconia's eternal rule -- and with it, a battle that humanity can only lose -- seems more and more certain.

Because against the terrors that lie between worlds, courage and ambition will not be enough Backlash: A Thriller. Book In ancient texts, there are stories about men who struck from the shadows, seemingly beyond the reach of death itself. These men were considered part angel, part demon. Their loyalty was to their families, their friends, and their kings.

You crossed these men at your peril. And once crossed, there was no crossing back. They were fearless; men of honor who have been known throughout history by different names: Spartan, Viking, Samurai. Today, men like these still strike from the shadows. They are highly prized intelligence agents, military operatives, and assassins. One man is all three.

Two days ago, that man was crossed—badly. Now, far from home and surrounded by his enemy, Scot Harvath must battle his way out. With no support, no cavalry coming, and no one even aware of where he is, it will take everything he has ever learned to survive. Harvath wants revenge.

In the most explosive novel Brad Thor has ever written, page after captivating page of action, intrigue, loyalty, and betrayal will keep you hooked until the very last sentence. Malcolm Gladwell. Malcolm Gladwell, host of the podcast Revisionist History and author of the 1 New York Times bestseller Outliers, offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers--and why they often go wrong. Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler? Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise?

Do television sitcoms teach us something about the way we relate to each other that isn't true? Talking to Strangers is a classically Gladwellian intellectual adventure, a challenging and controversial excursion through history, psychology, and scandals taken straight from the news. He revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff, the trial of Amanda Knox, the suicide of Sylvia Plath, the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal at Penn State University, and the death of Sandra Blandthrowing our understanding of these and other stories into doubt.

Something is very wrong, Gladwell argues, with the tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don't know. And because we don't know how to talk to strangers, we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our world. In his first book since his 1 bestseller, David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell has written a gripping guidebook for troubled times.

The Turn of the Key. Ruth Ware. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It was everything. Which means someone else is. Michelle Obama. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.

Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same. Tom Clancy Enemy Contact.

Book 6. Jack Ryan, Jr. The CIA's deepest secrets are being given away for a larger agenda that will undermine the entire Western intelligence community.

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The clues are thin, and the sketchy trail dead ends in a harrowing fight from which he barely escapes with his life. If that's not bad enough, Jack gets more tragic news. An old friend, who's dying from cancer, has one final request for Jack. It seems simple enough, but before it's done, Jack will find himself alone, his life hanging by a thread. If he survives, he'll be one step closer to finding the shadowy figure behind the CIA leak and its true purpose, but in the process, he'll challenge the world's most dangerous criminal syndicate with devastating consequences.

Doctor Sleep: A Novel. Stephen King. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Ewan McGregor! Mortal Engines Mortal Engines, Book 1. Philip Reeve. The moment we finished reading this book we knew we wanted to make it into a movie. Now a major motion picture produced by Peter Jackson! London is hunting again. Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands. Soon London will feed. In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl.

They must run for their lives through the wreckage -- and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world. Beloved storyteller Philip Reeve creates a brilliant new world in the Mortal Engines series, called "phenomenal Thrawn: Treason Star Wars. Book 3. But as keen a weapon as Thrawn has become, the Emperor dreams of something far more destructive.

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