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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

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his pillow 1 '

18—20. (18) good, etc., a repetition of his very weak conclu-
sion. (19) power to eat, in the sense of enjoying and using.
(20) much remember, or think on ; anxiously ponder over.
Thankful to God for present good, he enjoys it, and leaves in
Gods hands the rest. God answereth him, approving of his
acts, and giving him the joy of a quiet conscience. "

ThenoblematVs je7vels. — A rich nobleman was once showing a
friend a great collection of precious stones, whose value was
almost beyond counting. There were diamonds, and pearls, and
rubies, and gems from almost every country on the globe, which
had been gathered by their possessor by the greatest labour and
expense. " And yet," he remarked, " they yield me no income."
His friend replied that he had two stones, which cost him but
five pounds each, yet they yielded him a very considerable annual
income. And he led him down to the mill, and pointed to the
two toiling grey millstones. They were laboriously crushing



Cap. vi. 1—5.)



ECCLESIASTES,



317



the grain into snowy flour, for the use of hundreds who depended
on this work for their daily bread. Those two dull homely stones
did more good in the world and raised a larger income than all
the nobleman's jewels. So it is with idle treasure everywhere.
It is doing nobody any good. While poor souls are dying of
thirst, the money is hoarded and hid away which might take the
water of life to them.



CHAPTER THE SIXTH.

1, 2. (1) common, better, it lies heavy on men : " great
upon man." (2) for his soul, not here his spiritual nature,
but his failing and craving, not power, etc., either by bringing
eickness upon him, or making his care so overwhelming that he
can enjoy nothing ; comp. chap. v. 19. a stranger, an alien, in
whom he has no interest, evil disease, i.e. as bad as an evil
disease.

lll-healfh, ill-ease (v. 2). — I. We have here an illustration of a
not uncommon lot in life — great wealth, etc., with little power
for enjoyment. II. We are reminded that enjoyment is often
niarred by the misuse of what seems to provide the opportunity.

III. It is suggested that this is in accordance with laws of health,
and of moral government, which none can break with impunity.

IV. We infer that life should be ordered by the will of God.
JVote on verse 2.— There is not a repetition of the same idea in

these words as might at first appear. " Wealth " is but another
form of the word " weal," or " well-being," including those things
which tend to the welfare of men, not merely money or other
riches. In modem speech wealth has come to mean only " pro-
perty," that upon which a man can place his hand. In former
times many persons would have been called " wealthy " to whom
we should not now apply the epithet. So when Paul, in 1 Cor. x.
24, calls upon the brethren to seek each one to promote his
brother's wealth, he is far from intending to say that it should
be the object of the Corinthians to make each other rich ; they
were to strive to promote, in every way they could, the prosperity
of others, in spiritual as well as in temporal things.

3 — 5. (3) days . . be many, Knohel trans, "and be a great
man all his years." no burial," i.e. no honourable burial,'
through the absence of all filial esteem for the mean and miserly
man. untimely birth, wh. involves never experiencing life
at all. See similar strong fig. ch. iv. 3. (4) he, i.e. the untimely
birth of V. 3.' (.5) this . . other, i.e. than the avaricious man,
who neither knows rest in life or in death.

Soul-porcrty (r. 3). — I. We have a case supposed — a large
household, great wealth, etc. II. A possibility suggested— the
eoul void of good, poverty in the midst of wealth. III. A truth
asserted — such a man had better not have lived ; he has had his
good things, he has had the toil of getting, the worry of keeping,
the disappointment of leaving, and nothing to go to.

l/nele.i.i 7'iche,<i. — Daniel Dancer. — This man was remarkable for
a miserly disposition. Lady Tempest, the only person who had
the least influence over him, one day prevailed on him to purchase
8, hat (having worn his own for thirteen years) from a Jew for a



easy, and the
burden of our
afflictions light."
— Mai. Henry,

Ec. xi. 9.



A gentleman
being shown
through the mag-
nificent grounds
of a nobleman,
said to the owner,
" Well, my lord,
all this and
heaven would be
noble ; but this
and hell would
be terrible."

When Rothschild
heard that the
head of the Ag-
nade family was
dead: "How
much does he
leave ?" he asked.
" Twenty mil-
Uons." "You
mean eighty ?"
" No, twenty."
" Dear nie, I
thought he was
in easy circum-
stances,*' remark-
ed the modern
CroesuB.



a "For a corpM
to lie unburied
was a circum-
stance in itself
of pecuhar ig-
nominy and
shame. " — Spk.
Com.

h Isa. liii. 9 ; Je.
xxii. 19,

e He is a type of
the driftless ex-
istence of him
wlio makes riches
the chief good.
" The wealth of
the Cretans con-
sists in health,
vigour, and cou-
rage, domestic
quiet, concord,
public hberty,
plenty of all that
is necessary, and



318



ECCLESIASTES.



Cap. vl. 6 -lO,



contempt of all
that is supfrflu-
ous ; a haliit of
iniiustry, an ab-
horrence of idle-
ness, an emnla-
tion in virtue,
Bnbniission to tlie
laws, anil a re-
Terence of the
gods." — Finelon.
" Worldly wealth
is the devil's
bait ; and those
■whose minds
feed upon riches,
recede, in gene-
ral, from real
happiness, in pro-
portion as their
stores increase;
as the moon
when she is ful-
lest of light is
farthest from the
Bun." — Burton.

e.6. G.Wiitefield,
749.

" Those who tra-
vel through de-
Berts would often
be at a loss for
water if certain
indications,
which the hand
of Providencehas
marked out, did
not serve to guide
them to a supply.
The secret wells
are, for the most
part, discoverable
from the verdure
which is nou-
rished by their
pr«isence. So the
fruitfulness of
good works of
the believer,
amidst the dead-
ness and .sterility
around him, pro-
claims the Chris-
tian's life. " —
Salter.

a Fope,



a" k man cannot

with the greatest
riclies make his
part good against
the arrests of
sickness or deatli,
but must yield to
his fate." — Mat.
Jleni-y.

V. 9. J. Balguy,



shilling ; but to her great surprise, when she called the next day,
she saw that the old chapcau still covered his head. On inquiry,
it was found that, after much solicitation, he had prevailed on
old Griffiths, his servant, to purchase the hat for eighteen pence,
which Mr. Dancer boujrht the day before for a shilling. He
generally, in severe weather, lay in bed to keep himself warm ;
to light a fire he thought expensive, though he had £3,000 per
annum, besides immense riches. He never took snuff, for that
was extravagant, but he always carried a snuff-box. This pro-
bably he would fill in the course of a month by pinches obtained
from others. When the box was full, he would barter the con-
tents for a farthing candle at a neighbouring greengrocer's ;
this candle was made to last till the box was again full, as he
never suffered any light in his house except while he was goin^
to bed. He seldom washed his face and hands but when the sun
shone forth, then he would betake himself to a neighbouring
pool, and use sand instead of soap ; when he was w^ashed he would
lie on his back and dry himself in the sun, as he never used a
towel, for that would wear, and, ■when dirty, the washing was
I expensive.

6—8. (6) thousand years, etc., the good of long life beingf
I destroyed by the utterly selfish way of spending the long years.
(7) man, i.e. thp man Sol. now speaks of. mouth, type of
sensual and selfish gratification, appetite, the craving excited
by indulgence. (8) knoweth . . living, in a modest and con-
tented style.
The qviet life.—

Happy the man whose wish and care

A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air

In his own ground.

"Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,

Whose flocks supply him with attire ;
Whose trees in summer yield him shade.
In winter, fire.

Blest, who can unconcern 'dlr find

Hours, days, and years glide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day.

Sound sleep by night ; study and ease
Together mixed ; sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please.
With meditation."

9, 10. (9) "better, thisr. appears to answer the question pr'»
in r. 8. sight . . eyes, type of intellectual gratifications, which
bring so much more satisfaction than merely sensual indulgences.
(10) contend . . he, sre ch. ix. 1 ; 1 Cor. X. 22.a

UncqitaJ conflletn (v. 10). — I. This has been often illustrated in
national history ; the Zulu war for instance. II. Individual life,
too, often supplies examples, as when one of much conceit and
small knowledge is worsted in argument ; as when one with small
capital competes with greater capital and knowledge of trade.



Cap. vii 1.)



ECCLES/A.'iTES.



319



III. VVho hath fought against God and prospered ? yet this war is
constantly waged by the thoughtless and impenitent. IV. God
in Christ offers peace.

A// /.< vanity. — I once heard of a sagacious man, who, being on
his death-bed, was solicited to leave some memorial to his friends.
Unable to articulate, he made signs to have pen and ink brought
to him, and with these traced two great circles, or nothings, upon
a sheet of paper. After his decease, there was much speculation
what these could mean. The common conjecture was, that he
intended to signify that the body and the soul have their
appointed circuits, and that, when these are finis-hed, they return
severally to their origin — the body to the earth, and the spirit
unto God. In my opinion, however, the two ciphers must have
been intended to show the nullity of all terrestrial things, just as
the wisest of monarchs could find nothing but vanity and vexa-
tion in the learning, pleasures, joys, honour, wealth, and glory of
the world.*

11, 12. (11) things, those detailed in the previous ch.
better, for all the things he seeks so earnestly, and calls so good.
(12) good, real and lasting good, vain life, or life of his
vanity."

Life. — O life, I have enjoyed thee ! Not every draught from
thy fountain has had a bitter taste ; truly, not all upon earth is
vanitj'. if we enjoy not the creature alone, but, in the creature,
enjoy also the Creator. But that which sweetens thee do I indeed
take with me : and that is. the friendship of my God, which has
flowed to me through all created things, as through so many
channels. Earthly channels may fail, but He knows how to pro-
vide new ones. Gone, gone, is life's enjoyment and sweetness,
when we seek them in the creature only ; while, on the other
hand, they are ever present to those who. in the good things of
this life, recognise the hand that bestows them. Thus, every day
becomes a treasury and the poorest life may become a rich one.
No, I do not look back upon it as mere vanity ; but now, when in
the silence of my chamber I survey all the past, my heart is filled
with a joy which is too great for it to contain.*



i '• Tliere is a bur-
den of care in

I getting riches ;
t fear in keeping
I them ; tenipta-
• tion in using
! them ; guilt in
abusing them ;
sorrow in losing
them ; and a
' burden of ac-
count at last to
be given up con-
cerning them."—
Matthew Henry,



CHAPTER THE SEVENTH.

1. good name, or good reputation ; as Pr. xxii. 1. In the
Heb. there is a play upon the similar words i^hem, a name, shemen,
ointment." The reader will observe the similarity bet. this part
of Ecclesiastes and the Bk. of Proverbs, better, more to be
desired.' ointment,' scent, or oil, which is in general use and
highly valued in hot climates, day of death, etc., comp.
Phil. i. 23. Sol. by this sentence commends a serious disposi-
tion ; one that takes into consideration the ending of life.''
" To the man with a good name death is the entrance on a better
life."

T>ro important day.f {v. 1). — For one who is prepared, the day
of death is better than the day of birth. I. For in the day of
birth one is clothed with a weak and frail body, while in the day
of death one is clothed with the Lord from heaven. II. In the
day of birth one enters a world of contention and ciiange in-



J Gotthold.

a " One would
only be justified
in esteeming
wealth in case he
knew the future,
and had it in his
power. The
merest chance
can suddenly rob
one of all that
has been ga-
thered with pain
and toil. A great
catastrophe may
come, and sweep
everything away
as a flood. The
l)ractical result,
tlierefore, is that
one should strive
after the true
riches. " — Heng'
stenberg.

6 Tholuci



a The Heb. worda
of the sentence
are T6b shem mi-
sMmen t6b.

b " The honour
' of virtue is really
: more valuable
, and desirable
than all the
wealth and plea-
sure in thig
world." — Mat.
Henry.

e " Tlie likeness
bet. reputation
and odour sup-
plies a commoa
metaphor ; tho



320



BCCLESIASTES.



[Cap, vl. 2—6;



contrast is be-
tween ropata-
tion, as an hon-
ourable attain-
iTii^nt \vh. only
■wise men win,
and fragrant
odour as a grati-
fication of the
senses which all
nieu enjoy." —
Spk. Com.

d " A Kood and
reputable name,
■wh. secures an
ideal existence
■with posterity, is
more valuable
than all sensual
p 1 e a 8 u r e." —
Mster.

e JoxeetU

a " In the ceme-
teries in the
neighbourhood of
Cairo are many
private burying
grounds, each one
belonging to one
family ; and they.
If the owners be of
Bufficient wealth,
have erected
within them a
house of mourn-
ing. To this the
females of the fa-
mily repair twice
a year, and re-
main there for
three or more
davs and nights."
—Gaiixby.
h The Lord Jesus
taught us that
times of feasting
may be sanctified
by giving His
presence at the
marriage feast in
Cana.

c Comp. godly
sorrow, 2 Cor. vii.
10.

d yfaurer.
e C. Cecil.
f Dr. H. Mac-
tnillan.



a " The fool's
heart is all upon
it to be merry
and jovial ; his
■whole delight is
in sport and
gaiety, in merry
stories, merry
BoncTn and merry
oompany, merry



vested with the helplessneRS and inexperience of infancy ; in the
day of death one is crowned with immortality, and invested with
the power of an endless life. III. In the day of birth one enters
on a life of sorrow ; in the day of death he passes on to the
whole gain of dying. IV. In the day of birth one is born to die ;
in the day of death one dies to live for ever.

A good name among the DrH.<i(',<t. — Nothing- is more sacred with
a Druse than his public reputation. He will overlook an insult
if known only to him who has offered it, and will put up with
blows when his interest is concerned, provided nobody is a
witness ; but the slig-htest abuse given in public he revenges
■with the greatest fury. This is the most remai'kablo feature of
the national character. In public a Druse may appear honour-
able, but he is easily tempted to a contrary behaviour when he
has reason to think that his conduct will remain undiscovered.
The ties of blood and friendship have no power among them ;
the son no sooner attains the years of maturity than he begins to
plot against his father,"

2, 3. (2) house of mourning:, or a house where there »
mourning or lamentation for the dead." that . . men, viz., the
death wh. they are taking into consideration m the house of
mourning.* lay . . heart, seriously ponder it, and try to learn
wise lessons from the brevity of life, etc. (3) sorrow, not here
ffj'iff, but rather neriou.s'nes.'i.'' laughter, regarded as the ex-
pression of thoughtless and boisterous merry-making. sad-
ness, etc., comp. Ps. xc. 12 ; 2 Cor. vi. 10. " In sadness of
countenance there may be a good (cheerful) heart."''

The hoiixc of mourning {v. 2). — It is better than the house of
feasting, because — I. It gives better lessons. II. It has better
company. III. It has better comforts. IV. A better end awaits
us in the house of mourning."

Reflection and absorption. — The light of comfort Bhines in the
darkness of sorrow. To use a homely illustration, a towel, when
wetted, becomes darker than before, but at the same time it
becomes more transparent. In quitting one medium for another
— the air for water — its power of reflecting light is diminished,
but its power of absorbing light is increased, so that the dark-
ness of the towel is due to its increased trani5parency. This is
the case, too, with such minerals as tabasheez and hydrophane,
a variety of opal, and also with table-salt and snow, which are
opaque when dry, but when immersed in water become trans-
parent. Thus it is with sanctified trial. When passing from
the element of joy into the element of sorrow life is darkened,
but it is made more transparent than before. It does not reflect
so much gladness, but it allows us to see deeper into its true

nature By a gracious dispensation of Heaven, the loss of

reflection becomes a gain of absorption./

4 — 6. (4) wise, a strong way of saying that a man finds he
can learn best in serious and solemn scenes. '' Where he can be
serious, the wise man is in his element." fools," inconsiderate
men, but always in Scripture with the idea of wilfulness, lead-
ing to -wickedness. (5) rebuke, etc.,'' comp. Pr. xiii. 18, xv.
31, 32. (6) crackling, etc., noisy for a very brief time.'' and
answering to the merriment of fools. " Quickly blazing upi
j with loud crackling aaid snapping, and also (luickly consumed."



Oap.vii. 7 10.]



ECCLESJASTES.



Ml



CrackUnq of thorm. — In reference to this expression it may he
observed that dried cow-dung was in Palestine commonly used
for fuel, as it is at the present day ; but it is remarkably slow in
burning : on this account the Arabs frequently threaten to burn
a person with cow-dung, as a lingering death. This fuel forms
a striking contrast to the short-lived and noisy violence of thorns
and furze, which are speedily consumed, with the crackling noise
alluded to. Roberts says, '• In some places, firewood being very
scarce, the people gather cow-dung, make it into cakes, and dry
it in the sun. after which it is ready for fuel. This practice is
alluded to in Ezekiel iv. 15. Those who are accustomed to have
their food prepared in this way prefer it to any other ; they tell
you it is sweeter and more holy, as the fuel comes from their
sacred animal."

7. oppression, Ps. Ixii. 10. Perhaps here the pressvre that
is put on a wise man, as, for instance, with bribes. By this
pressure he may be made mad or foolish enough to turn aside
from the right. iSome think the reference is to the exercise of
tyrannical power by the wise." gift, or bribe. De. xvi. 19.*
heart, i.e. the right intentions of the heart.

Not to be bribed. — When great presents were sent to Epami-
nondas, the celebrated Theban general, he used to observe : " If
the thing you desire be good, I will do it without any bribe, even
because it is good : if it be not honest, I will not do it for all the
goods in the world." He was so great a contemner of riches,
that when he died he left not enough to discharge the expenses
of the funeral.

8—10. (8) better is the end, bee. the painful uncertain-
ties and toils are over." patient in spirit, comp. N. T. Greek
word, mahrothumia. long-sufleriug.* proud, impatient, hasty,
self-confident, unwilling to wait. (9) angry, better, scns'itire,
easily offended.*^ resteth, comp. Eph. iv. 26. "A fretful,
irritable disposition is mainly found in fools." (10) former . .
better, this question is still often asked, esp. as men grow old.
But it is usually the sign of a peevish and repining disposition.
Those who ask thus fail worthily to observe Gods working in
time present.

Patience and pride (v. 8). — I. A patient spirit is more noble
than a proud spirit. 1. It sees farther ; 2. Is more generous; 3.
Suffers less humiliation. II. A patient spirit is more advanta-
geous than a proud spirit. 1. It produces wise counsel; 2. It
maintains strong and lasting friendships ; 3. It ensures constant
co-operation in any good work : 4. It brings about influence and
honour for its possessor. III. The patient spirit is more Christ-
like than the proud. See Jesus — 1. Before the proud ; 2. With
the proud.''

J. Bradford and J. We.ilpy. — Joseph Bradford was for some
years the travelling companion of Mr. Wesley, for whom he
would have sacrificed health and even life, but to whom his will
would never bend, except in meekness. "Joseph,'' said Mr.
Wesley, one day, "take these letters to the post." B. " I will
take them after preaching, sir." W. " Take them now, Joseph."
B. " I wish to hear you preach, sir ; and there will be sufficient
time for the post after service." W. " I insist upon your going
now, Joseph." B. "I will not go at present." W. "You

VOL. VII. O.T. X



days and merry
nights. This is
liis folly, and it
hflps to make
him more and
more foolish." —
Mel. Ili'iirij.
b Illus. fr. case of
llehoboam, 1 Ki.
xii. 6-15.
c "Our boatman's
boy always had
to go or. shore,
and gather sticks,
thorns, doura-
straw, rubbish
— anything he
could lay his
hands upon, for
boiling the men'?
pot. But these
dried thorns, etc.,
though they
make a great
noise for a lime,
soon burn o\it,
and are then
quiet enough." —
GatUby.

a This may be
illustrated in the
case of Nebu-
chadnezzar, Da.
iv. 25.

b " Sometimes in
Egypt bribes are
taken from both
plaintiff and i^^-
feiidant ; and the
<iecision is given
in favour of him
wlio pays the
highest." — Lane.

a " Fair begin-
nings (hke Solo-
mon's) are often
belied by what
comes after." —
Wordswo/i/i.
"In a subordi-
nate sense this
prov. is one of
practical and po-
litical prudence,
and recommends
qtiickness of de-
spatch, and is a
warning against
tedious proli.Kity
anci desultory
speaking."- Xo/'i/
Bacon.

"It is better
quietly to wait
the course of an
atfair until its
issue, and not to
judge and act
until then, than
to proceed rashly,
and with passion-
ate haste, and



822

bring upon one-
self its bad con-
6eq uen oes." —
0. Z!kkt>'>:
h Col. i. 11 ; He.
vi. 12, 15 ; Jas. v.
7,8.

c Comp. Reho-
boam, 1 Ki. xii.
13.

" That will break
a prouii man s
heart wliich will
not break a
humble man's
s 1 e e p." — Ma I.
Jlenry.

d Stems and
TiciffS.

a " Eosenmiiller
and others un-
derstand this to
mean that wis-
dom preserves
life in safety, or
renders life calm
and happy ; but
adeeper meaning
is elicited by
comparing these
words with those
of our Lord, 'The
worils that I
Bpeak unto you
they are spirit
and" they are
life' (Jno. vi. 03,
and see Mat. iv.
4)." — Spk. Com."

Pr. viii. 11, xvi.
16 ; 2 Ti. iii. 15.

vi\ 11, 12. Abp.
Dawes, i. 1U3.

V. 12. Dr. A.
Gernrd.i.453;/I.
Melvill, 23.

k D. Clieever,



ECCLESIASTES.



[Cap. vll. 11-14



a " Consider that
every work of
God is wise, just,
and good, and
there is an ad-
mirable bpauty
and harmony in
Bis works, and
nil will ajipp.ir at
last to have beeu



-won't ?" B. " No, sir." IT''. " Then you and I must part." B.
•• Very good, eir." The good men nlept over it. Both -were early
risers. At four o'clock the next moiiiiiig the refractory helper
was accosted with. •• Jo.>^eph. have you considered what I said —

I that we must part ?" B. ''Yes, sir." ■ U'. " And must we part ?"
B. •• Please yourself, sir." JI '. " Will you ask my pardon,
Joseph.'' B. "No. sir.' TI'. "You won't.'" B. "No, sir."

I \V. " Then I will ask yours, Joseph." Poor Joseph was instantly
melted : smitten as by the word of Moses, when forth gushed the
tears, like the water from the rock. He had a tender soul : and
it was soon observed when the appeal was made to the heart
instead of the head.

11, 12. (11) with an inheritance, marg. "as good as an

inheritance." The rest of the verse should read. "yea. better, to
them that see the sun :" i.e. to the living. (12) defence, or
shadow. Those who have wisdom are as well defended as those
that have money ; and. beyond this, wisdom has its own special
advantages, giveth life, animates him. Money may be a
blessing on a man's circumstances : wisdom is an additional
bljssing to the man himself."

'lite .wl<liff\^ .'(hi eld. — .Samuel Proctor was trained up in the
use of religious ordiuances. and in early life felt some religious
impressions. He afterwards enlisted as a soldier in the first



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 56 of 67)