Copyright
James Comper Gray.

The Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 7) online

. (page 52 of 67)
Online LibraryJames Comper GrayThe Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 7) → online text (page 52 of 67)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


— fihate.yicare.
Rev. A. Atv.'ood,
of /'hilndcli)hia,
said that wo-
man's qualities
shone with a
glorious bright-
ness in the hour '
of mankind's
affliction and
gickne.ss. She is
the nurse of the
world.



her character, habits. II. The subject of this joy : her home,
1 children, husband, prosperity. III. The nature of it : her children,
I etc. Verse 2S. The joy of rest and reward in advanced life, the
favour of God. joy in anticipation of the future life. — A gnnd
waninn's tongue (r. 2G). — It is marked by — I. "Wisdom : she does
not prate of things beyond her sphere ; has good advice for her
daughter and her husband. II. Kindness : she is no scold, or
loud-voiced woman ; her words are full of tenderness, love, truth,
cheerful piety.

The memory of a praying mother cherished. — A short time since,
just at sunset on a summer's day, I -went to the grave of a dear
sister of mine. Her two little boys went with me. When we
had arrived there, I saw four little rose bushes standing, two at
the head and two at the foot of the grave, bending over as if to
meet and hang over the grave. " That is her grave, — our mother's
grave,'" said one of the boys. "And those rose bushes?" said I,
as the tears started in my eyes. " Those," said the eldest,
" brother, and I, and father set soon after she was laid there.
Those two at the head she planted in the garden herself, and we
took them up and set them there, and call them ' Mother's
bushes.' " " And what do you remember about your dear mother,
my boys?" "Oh, everything." " A\'hat in particular?" "Oh,
this, uncle, that there never -was a day since I can remember that
she did not take us to her closet and pray with us, unless she was
sick on the bed." Never did that sister seem so dear to me as at
that moment, and never did my heart feel so full a hope iu the
words which were engraved on the tombstone, —
" No mortal woes
Can reach the peaceful sleeper here,
"While angels watch her soft repose."*

27—29. (27) bread, of idleness, leaving others to do her
duty. (28) blessed, bee. of her earnest labours on their behalf,
and because of her gracious influence upon them. (29) thou,
the ideal person described. Or this may be the exclamation of
the grateful, trustful husband.

A n-ord to niofhcr.f (r. 28). — Direct the attention of mothers to —
I. The duties of the maternal relation. II. Maternal advantages.
III. The encouragement which mothers have to believe that
their children will rise up to call them blessed."

(rood dai/ghfers. — In the year 1773, Peter Burrell. Esq., of
Beckenham, in Kent, whose health was rapidly declining, was
advised by his physicians to go to Spa for the recovery of his
health. His daughters feared that those who had only motives
entirely mercenary would not pay him that attention -which he
might expect from those who. from duty and affection united,
would feel the greatest pleasure in ministering to his ease and
comfort ; they, therefore, resolved to accompany him. They
proved that it was not a spii'it of dissipation and gaiety that led
them to Spa, for they were not to be seen in any of the gay and
fashionable circles ; they were never out of their father's com-
pany, and never stirred from home, except to attend him, either
to take the air or drink the waters ; in a word, they lived a most
recluse life in the midst of a town then the resort of the most
illustrious and fashionable personages of Europe. This exemplary
attention to their father procured these three amiable sisters the
admiration of all the English at Spa, and was the cause of their



Cap. xxxl. 30, 31.]



PROVERBS.



293



elevation to that rank in life to which their merits gave them so
just a title. They were all married to noblemen : one to the Earl
of Beverley ; another to the Duke of Hamilton, and afterwards
to the Marquis of Exeter ; and a third to the Duke of Nor-
thumberland. And it is justice to them to say, that they reflected
honour on their rank, rather than derived any from it.*

30, 31. (30) favour, grace of person, deceitful, it may be
put on to hide really unworthy character, beauty, of counte-
nance, vain, bee. not lasting. It passes with the advancing
years, and sad is that woman's lot who has only her beauty to
depend upon, feareth the Lord, regarded as the root of piety."
" The fear of the Lord is the condition of all womanly as well as
manly excellence." (31) fruit . . hands, which is the praise
due to a skilful, diligent, and faithful wife.

Fciuinine beauty {v. 30). — I. It is attractive while it lasts. II.
With some it lasts to old age ; the beauty of such women then.
III. The thoughtless have eyes for physical beauty only. IV.
Beauty often provokes vanity, and is vain to charm the minds of
others who at length discover nothing beneath it. V. Seek that
beauty that comes of piety, beauty of heart, and mind, and life,
these really promote beauty of person.

Bca uty. — Hearing a young lady highly praised for her beauty,
Gotthold asked, " What kind of beauty do you mean 1 Merely
that of the body, or that also of the mind 1 I see well that you
have been looking no further than the sign which nature dis-
plays outside the house, but have never asked for the host who
dwells within. Beauty is an excellent gift of God, nor has the
pen of the Holy Spirit forgotten to speak its praise ; but it is
virtuous and godly beauty alone which Scripture honours, ex-
pressly declaring, on the other hand, that a fair woman which is
without discretion is as a jewel of gold in a swine's snout (Prov. xi.
22). Many a pretty girl is like the flower called the imperial
crown, which is admii-ed, no doubt, for its showy appearance,
but despised for its unpleasant odour. Were her mind as free
from pride, selfishness, luxury, and levity, as her countenance
from spots and wrinkles, and could she govern her inward incli-
nations as she does her external carriage, she would have none
to match her. But who loves the caterpillar and such insects,
however showy their appearance, and bright and variegated the
colours that adorn them, seeing they injure and defile the trees
and plants on which they settle ? What the better is an apple
for its rosy skin, if the maggot have penetrated and devoured its
heart 1 What care I for the beautiful brown of the nut, if it be
worm-eaten, and fill the mouth with corruption? Even so ex-
ternal beauty of person deserves no praise, unless matched with
the inward beauty of virtue and holiness. It is therefore far
better to acquire beauty than to be born with it. The best kind
is that which does not wither at the touch of fever, like a flower,
but lasts and endures on a bed of sickness, in old age, and even
nnto death." — Different ideas of heauty. — WTiat different ideas
are formed in different nations concerning the beauty of the
human shape and countenance 1 A fair complexion is a shocking
deformity on the Guinea coast ; thick lii)s and a flat nose are a
beauty. In some nations, long ears that hang down upon the
shoulders are the objects of universal admiration. In China, if a
lady's foot is so large as to be fit to walk upon, she is regarded as



6 Dr. Cheeeer.



a "As an Impe-
r i s h a b 1 e and
therefore really
praiseworthy
possession, there
is contrasted
with favour and
beauty the dispo-
sition to fear
•God."-0. ZSckler.

" That love wh.
is cemented by
youth and
beauty, when
tliese moulder
and decay, as
soon they do,
fades too. But
if husbands and
wives are each
reconcileil unto
God in Christ,
and so heirs of
life and one with
God, then are
they truly one in
God, each with
the other, and
that is the surest
and sweetest
union that can
be. " — Archbishop
Leiglilon.

A woman dis-
tinguished for
her modesty,
meekness, and
prudence, and
other virtues, will
engage affection
and respect when
other a c c o m-
plishments fade
and decline.

V. 30. Dr. A. Lit-
tleton, 60 ; Dr.
Cotton Mather,
Oiimmenls for
the Daus. of Zion;
Dr. T. Leland, ii.
267 ; R. Warner,
ii. 376; D.Gibson,
333.

V. 31. /. Penn,
216.

" The devil fish-
eth best for souls
of men when his
hook is baited
with a lovely
limb : love Ughta



294



PROVERBS.



[Cap. xxxi. 30, 3L



upon the hoart,
and straiglit wi;
fnel nioro wnrlils
of Wealth slcain
in an upturneil
eye than in the
lii-h hoart of the
miser sea. Beauty
li.uh made our
greatest mau-
liooils weak." —
Alex. Smith.

I Smilh.

" Fragrant the
rose, but soon it
fades away ; the
violet sweet, but
quickly will de-
cay; the lily fair a
transient beauty
■wears ; and the
white snow soon
weeps away in
tears : such is the
bloom of beauty,
cropt by time,
full soon it fades,
and withers in
its prime."—
Theocritus.

C Emerson.

d Ld. Kaimes.

" A face that
should content
nie wondrous
well, should not
be fair, but lovel.v
to behold : of
lively look, all
grief for to repel
with right good
grace, so would I
that it should
speak without
woril, such words
as none can tell."
—Sir T ho mat
Wmlt.

eSfithatr.



a monster of ugliness. Some of the savage nations in North
America tie four boards round the heads of their chilih-en, and
thus squeeze them, while the bones are tender and gristly, into a
form that is almost perfectly square. Europeans are astonished
at the absurd barbarity of this practice, to ^^•hich some missionarioa
have imputed the singular stiijndity of those nations among
whom it })revails ; but when they condemn those savages, they
do not reflect that the ladies in England had, till within these
very few years, been endeavouring for near a century past to
squeeze the beautiful roundness of their natural shapes into a
square form of the same kind.'' — Beauty and rlrfiie. — The problem
of restoring to the most original internal beauty is solved by the
redemption of the soul. The ruin, or the blank, that we see in
nature is in our own eye. The axis of vision is not coincident
with the axis of things, and so they appear not transparent, but
opaque. The reason why the world lacks unity is, that man is
disunited himself. A life in harmony with nature, the love of
truth and virtue, will purge the eyes to understand her text, so
that the world shall be to us an open book, and every form
significant of its hidden life and final cause.'' — Damjcrs of beauty.
— Beauty is a dangerous property, tending to corrupt the mind
of the wife, though it soon loses its influence over the husband.
A figure agreeable and engaging, which inspires affection without
the ebriety of love, is a much safer choice. The graces lose not
their influence like beauty. At the end of thirtj' years, a virtuous
woman, who makes an agreeable companion, charms her husband
more than at first. The comparison of love to fire holds good ia
one respect, that the fiercer it burns the sooner it is extinguished.'
Com^afiswn for maligned heaiLty. —

Nought is there under heaven's wide hollowTiess
That moves more dear compassion of the mind

Than beauty brought to unworthy wretchedness,
Thi-ough envy's snares, or fortune's freaks unkind.

I, whether lately through her brightness blind,
Or through allegiance and fast fealty

Which I do owe unto all womankind.

Feel my heart pierced with so great agony

"When such I »ee, that all for pity I could die.*



THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTEa



fnfrobttdron.



Title, neh. Koheleth ; Gli. Ecclesiastes, which in Eng^lish is equivalent to
" The Preacher." The Hebrew title is from the initial word of the book.
Author. Uncertain. Solomon {Home. Amjnn), Isaiah {llahhi Kiinchi). Heze-
kiah {Talmudists), composed by order of .Zerubbabel for his son Abihud
{Grot ins), written after the Babylonian captivity {Jalui), or abont the time of
Antiochus Epiphanes {Zlrkel). It is to be noted that — (1) It is fuller of
Ai'amaic or Chaldee words than Provs. or Pss., or writings of times of the
monarchy, (2) That the word for the Divine Name is not Jehovah, but
Elohim. (3) It describes a decay of the social and political state that seems
not to belong to the time of David, or Solomon. (4) Its tone of scepticism
does not agree with the devoutness of David and Solomon. These points have,
however, been controverted. But, on the whole, then, while it must be
admitted that the verdict of nearly all recent criticism is against the Solomonic
authorship of the book, it must be said chat no satisfactory theory has yet
been submitted in its place, and that after all we must say of it. as of the
Book of Job — in some respects the most like it, and the most unlike, among
the books of the Old Testament, — as Origen said of the Epistle to the Hebrews,
"Who wrote it, God only knows" (Phaiipfre). Scope. '"Be godly, and con-
cerning everything else be tranquil " {Lvthcr). " The great design of this
book is evidently to show the utter insufficiency of all earthly pursuits and
objects, as the chief end of life, to confer solid happiness, and then to draw
men ofE from apparent good to the only real and permanent good — the fear of
God and communion with Him. ' Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,' is its first
lesson; 'Fear God and keep His commandments,' is its last'' (Angus). "It
is a penitential discourse, and in it the writer endeavour.s from sad experience
to show the vanity of all earthly pursuits, and the insufficiency of eai'thly en-
joyment. The doctrine of a future retribution forms the great basis of this
book, and practical religion is its leading truth " {Pinnock). (See also The
Quest of the Chief Good, by the i^rc. ^S". Cox.) Style. " Bp. Lowth has classed
this book among the didactic poetry of the Hebrews ; but JMr. Des Voeux
considers it as a philosophical discourse vrritten in a rhetorical style, and inter-
spersed with verses, which are introduced as occasion served : whence it
obtained a place among the poetical books. To this opinion Bp. Lowtli subse-
quently declared his assent " {Home). " By the Jews it was not reckoned
one of the poetical books, and indeed the whole, except iii. 2 — 8. vii. 1 — 14,
xi. 17. xii. 7, is written in prose " {Anrfus). Canonioity. " The canonicity of
Eccles. is recognised by the early Christian writers, and though the book is not
formally quoted by our Lord or His Apostles, there are several references to it
in the New Testament. It is to be noted that in Ecclesiastes wisdom is used
in the sense of science, or sagacity ; in Proverbs it is identical with piety. It
is a strange proof of the depravity of our nature that modern infidels —
Frederick the Great, Voltaire, and others — have warmly praised those parts of
Ecclesiastes in which Solomon records the false principles which his folly had
for the moment led him to maintain. The true wisdom of the book they
entirely disregard " (^Angus).



?DltOpSTS.



Aetw
Part



Sect.
Sect.

Sect.
Seel.
Sect.
Sect.
Sect.
Seel.
Sect.
Sect.
Sect.

Sect.
Sect.
Sect
Sect.

Seel.
Sect.
Sect.
Sect.



ding to Mr. TToldetl. Adopted by Home.
I.— THE VANITY OF EARTHLY

CONDITIONS, OCCUPATIONS,

AND PLEASURES.

1. Vanity of earthly things i. 2.

2. Labour unprofitable, life transitory

i. 3— 11.

3. Vanity of laborious study, .i. 12—18.

4. Luxury and pleasure vanity ii. 1 — 11.

5. Human learning but vanity ii. 12 — 17.

6. Human labour vanity ....ii. 18 — 23.

7. Sensual enjoyments empty ii. 24 — 26.

8. A time for all things iii. 1 — 14.

9. Vanity of human pvu-suits iii. 15 — 17.

10. Life and death iii. 18—22.

11. Vanity increased by oppression

iv. 1—3.

12. Vanity of prosperity iv. 4.

13. Vanity of folly iv. 5, 6.

14. Vanity of covetousness iv. 7, 8.

15. Dominion and empire vanity

iv. 9— IS.

16. Divine worsliip maybe vain v. 1 — 7.

17. Murmuring at injustice vain v. 8, 9.

18. Vanity of riches v. 10-20.

19. Vanity of avarice vi. 1—9.



Part II.— THE NATURE. EXrELLEN^rT!.
AND BENEFICIAL EFFECTS OP
WISDOM OR RELIGION.



Sect. 20.
Sect. 21.
Sect. 22.
Sect. 23.
Seel. 24.

Sect. 25.
Sect. 26.



Sect. 28.
Sect. 29.
Sect. 30.
Sect. 31.
Sect. 32.
Sect. 33.



What is the chief good . .vi. 10—12.

The praise of character vii. 1.

Benefits of affliction . . . .vii 2—10.
The excellence of wisdom vii. 1 1 — 14
An objection and the answer vii. 15 —
viii. 7.
Wickedness and wisdom, .viii. 8 — 13.
An objection and the answer

viii. 14 — ix. 1.

An objection and the answer ix. 2—

X. 17.

Banefulness of sloth x. 18.

The power of wealth x. 19.

Speaking evil of dignities ... .x. 20.
Charity and benevolence, .xi. 1 — 10.

Early piety xii. 1 — 7.

The conclusion xii. 8—14.



Additional note on the avthor.if)ip of fhi.1 book. — If it is the production of
Solomon, it presents an interesting and instructive picture of that monarch's
return to a better mind, when, at the close of life, he took a retrospect of his
past career. The general design of the author is to set forth the nothingness
of earthly pursuits and enjoyments, and to recommend the acquisition of
heavenly wisdom. From the commencement to vi. 9, the former theme is
enlarged upon, the writer reviewing the various conditions and objects of
human life, and showing that '"all is vanity." From vi. 10 to the end. the
excellence of wisdom is exhibited. The sum and crowning lesson of the whole
being, " Fear God and keep His commandments " (^Litton).



298



ECCLBSIASTES.



[Cap. 1. 1-3.



n " It describes
a person in the
act of calling
togetlier an as-
sembly of peojjle
as if with the
intention of ad-
dressing them.
Tlie word thus
understood refi-rs
us to the action
of wisdom per-
son i fi ed, de-
scribed in Pr. i.
20, viii. 8, etc."
— Spk. Com.

h " The theme of
Ecclesiastesisthe
vanity of all
e.arthly things
apart from O-od."
— Wurdsworth.

e From a word
signifying to
liang over, over-
flow, remain over
and above.

d " Sol. writes
with this design,
that we may not
dote upon this
life, wh. is under
the sun, but maj'
earnestly desire
tliat life wh. is
not blighted by
that vanity wh.
is under the sun,
but is enlight-
ened by that
truth wh. came
from Him who
made the sun." —
S(. Augusline.

Ps. xx\i\. 5, 6,
11, Ixii. 9, c\liv.
4 ; Ko. viii. 2u, 21.

r. 2. Bnusset, xvi'
ia4 ; A'. Er-ikhte,
i. 296; Bi-rtheau.
ii. 207 ; G. J. Zol-
likoffer, ii. 452 ;
E. Denisnn, Unir.
(S('r.29; liiKCouy-
beare, ii. 481.

e Stems and Twigs.

f Dr. J. Hamilton.



CHAPTER THE FIRST.

1—3. (1) preacher, Heb. koMeth. fem. noun fr. kalal, to
call ; so signifying' an assembler, or convener." Doubtless a
symbolical name for Solomon, in Jerusalem, the place of his
royal residence, and the centre of his kingdom. (2) vanity,
Heb. Itchel, found thirty-seven times in this book. That wh.
fails to satisfy, vanity of vanities,* Heb. idiom for the very
highest degree of vanity. Comp. '• holy of holies," " song of
songs." all, all sorts, every earthly thing. Things are all vaia
and unsatisfying when made the end and not the means. (3)
profit," or what is the good of all man's toil ? Get what he
may it does not satisfy him. under the sun, a fig. way of
saying, in this present life.''

Vanity (r. 2). — I. This estimate was made by a competent
judge. II. Given in unqualified terms. III. Abundantly en-
dorsed by the historical Scripture. IV. Assented to by all who
have finished their course.''

Worldly plca.^iive linsatLsfiiin/j. — Lord CJifsterfield. — The most
polished Englishman of the last century was Philip Dormer
Stanhope, the fourth earl of Chesterfield. High-born and well-
bred, clever, eloquent, and witty, and endowed with a large
amount of natural amenity, he was bent on distinction. To
dazzle his contemporaries was the business of his life. He was
a man who made his own model. From the speeches of Cicero,
from the epigrams of Martial, from the saloons of Paris and
Versailles, he gleaned the several ingredients of classic grace and
modern refinement, and sought to combine them in the courtier,
the statesman, and the orator. He had no God. In the shrine
where the Most High should be, there was a dim outline which
looked very like a colossal Stanhope carrying a young Chesterfield
in its arms ; but, unless this mixture of self-idolatry and son-
worship deserve the name, there was no religion in the man. He
had his reward. At a levee, or in a di'awing-room, he moved
" the admh'ed of all admirers." Few made such formidable
speeches in Parliament. None uttered so many brilliant sayings
in society. He got ribbons, plaudits, diplomatic appointments,
the smiles of- the fair, the envy of his peers : everything except
true human affection — everything except the approbation of
God. Should any one wish to repeat the man the mould is still
extant. It will be found in Lord Chesterfield's Letter!) to his
Son — a book of which our great moralist said, in effect, that
" it inculcates the morals of the profligate with the manners of a
dancing-master." But before taking more trouble it is well to
know the result. At the close he confessed that his life had
been as joyless as it had been selfish and hollow. " I have re-
cently read Solomon with a kind of sympathetic feeling. I have
been as wicked and as vain, though not as wise as he ; but now
I am old enough to feel the truth of his reflection, 'All is vanity
and vexation of spirit.' " Re^iartees sparkled on his dying lips,
but all was dreary within, all was darkness ahead. The fame
for which he lived expired before himself : and now truth de-
clines to write his epitaph, and virtue has no garlands for his
grave./



Cap. i. 4-11.]



ECCLESIASTES.



299



4 — 7. (4) generation, the people on the earth are supposed
to be changed about every twenty-five to thirty years. So man
does not stay on earth long enough to enjoy the fruitage of his
labours, earth . . ever," it is not absolutely pennanent, but its
continuance contrasts with the changing races on it. The term
" ever " is used in Scripture as a figure, and a comparison. (.5)
sun, etc., it makes no real progress, only repeats the same routine
day after day. hasteth, 7/cd. pauteth.'' The Psalmist evidently
had no idea of the circular form and movement of the earth.
(«) whirleth, etc.. blowing from different quarters, yet settling
at last to the prevailing N. or S.'' circuits, or veerings. The
word is not used in the modern scientific sense. (7) not full,
bee. the waters are drawn up as clouds, and sent back to refresh
the earth."*

Contra. 9t between the duration of earth aiid the life of man {v. 4).
— Note some things that verify the greatness of the contrast.
1. History, — which would not be but for those who have passed
away ; 2. Burial grounds. — yet nature around them is the same ;
3. Abodes of the living : how many generations have passed away
since this became a city ! 4. What shall I be when the present
generation has passed away ! 5. There are occasional states of
feeliug in which the reflection comes with special force ; 6. How
little hold we have on the world ! 7. The only essential good to
be gained from the world is what may be cai'ried out of it.«

J'mvidence in the n-ind. — The wind has called at yon city,
foetid with miasma, and groaning with pestilence ; and, with its
besom of swift pinions, it has swept the plague away. It has
looked into yon haven, and found a forest of laden shijis sleeping
over their freights ; and it has chased them all to sea. And
finding the harvest arrested in a broad and fertile realm, the
earth chapped, and the crops withering, it is now hurrying
with that black armament of clouds to drench it in Ufesome
irrigation. To narrow observation or to selfishness, that wind is
an annoyance ; to faith, it is God's angel forwarding the mighty
plan. Tis a boisterous night, and Pictish savages curse the
noisy blast which shakes their peat-hovel round their ears ; but
that noisy blast has landed the Gospel on St. Andrew's shore. It
blows a fearful tempest, and it sets some rheumatic joints on
aching ; but the morrow shows, dashed in pieces, the awful
Annada which was fetching the Spanish Inquisition to our
British Isle. The wind blows east, and detains James's ships at
Harwich ; but it guides King William to Torbay. Yes, " the
wind blows south, and the wind blows north ; it whirleth about
continually, and returneth again according to its circuits : " but,
in the coiu-se of these circuits, the wind has blown to our little
speck of seagirt happiness the Gospel and Protestantism, and
civil and religious liberty.-^

8 — 11. (8) full of labour, ceaseless movement and activity
are around us. more than man can recount." eye . . hearing,



Online LibraryJames Comper GrayThe Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 7) → online text (page 52 of 67)