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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 10) online

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empire. Scarcely recovered from the miseries of the last Punic
war. Africa was doomed to suffer, about one hundred and twenty-
three years before the birth of Christ, anothei desolation, as
terrible as it was unprecedented. An immense number of locusts
covered the whole country, consumed every plant and every blade
of grass in the field, without sparing the roots, and the leaves of
the trees, with the tendrils upon which they grew. These being
exhausted, they penetrated with their teeth the bark, however
bitter, and even corroded the dry and solid timber. After they
had accomplished this terrible destruction, a sudden blast of wind
dispersed them into different portions, and after tossing them
awhile in the air, plunged their innumerable hosts into the sea.
But the deadly scourge was not then at an end ; the raging
billows threw up enormous heaps of their dead and corrupted
bodies upon that long-extended coast, which produced a most
insupportable and poisonous stench. This soon brought on a
pestilence, which affected every species of animals ; so that
birds, and sheep, and cattle, and even the wild beasts of the field,
perished in great numbers ; and their carcases, being soon
rendered putrid by the foulness of the air. added greatly to the
general corruption. The destruction of the human species was
horrible ; in Nnmidia, where at that time Micipsa was king,
eighty thousand per.-ons died ; and in that part of the sea coast
which bordered upon the region of Carthage and Utica, two
hundred thousand are said to have been carried off by this
pestilence. When Le Bruyn was at Rama he was informed that
the locusts were once so destructive there that in the space of two
hours they ate up all the herbage round the town ; and in the
garden belonging to the house in which he lodged, they ate the
very stalks of the artichoke down to the ground. This state-
ment will show that the locust is one of the most terrible in-
struments in the hand of incensed Heaven : it will discover the
reason that the inspired writers, in denouncing His judgments,
so frequently allude to this insect, and threaten the sinner with
its vengeance ; it accounts, in the most satisfactory manner, for
the figures which the Prophets borrow, when they describe the
march of cruel and destructive armies, from the character and
habits of this creature. The narratives of Volney, Thevenot,



Cap.li.18-20.]



JOEL.



125



and other travellers, who have seen and described the innumerable
swarms of the locusts, and their wasteful ravages, fully confirm
the glowing description of Joel and other inspired Prophets,
as seen by reference to then writings. " A nation," says Joel,
'• has come up upon my land, strong and without number. He
has laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree ; he has made it j
clean bare, and cast it away ; the branches thereof are made
white ; the vine is dried up. and the fig tree languishes, the I
pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all i
the trees of the 1 id, are withered ; because joy is withered I
away from the sons of men." "A day of darkness and of*
gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. A fire devoureth !
befcrj them, and behind them a flame burnetii. They march
every one in his ways ; they do not break their ranks, neither '
does one thrust another. The land is as the garden of Eden
before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness." 4i They i
shall run up the wall ; they shall climb up upon the houses : \
they shall enter into the windows like a thief. The earth shall
quake before them ; the heavens shall tremble, the sun and the
moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their
shining/' The same allusion is involved in these words of
Nahum, concerning tbe fall of the Assyrian empire : "Thy
crowned are as the locusts ; and thy captains as the great grass-
hoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day. but when the
sun ariseth, they flee away, and their place is not known."
Bochart and other writers, who are best acquainted with the
Eastern countries, mention a great variety of locusts, which
vindicates the language of the Prophet : " Thy captains are as
the great grasshoppers." The next clause is attended with some
difficulty. Mr. Lowth, in his comment, supposes that these
insects flee, away to avoid the heat of the sun ; and it has been
queried whether the phrase cold day. does not mean the night.
But it is well known that the heat of the sun, instead of com-
pelling the locusts to retire, quickens them into life and activity ;
and the words cold day, we believe, are never used in Scripture,
nor by any writer of value, to signify the night. The Prophet
evidently refers, not to their flight during the heat of the day,
but to the time of their total departure ; for he does not speak
of their moving from one field to another, but of their leaving
the country which they have invaded, so completely that the
place of their retreat is not known. The day of cold cannot
mean the depth of winter, for they do not make their appearance
in Palestine at that season ; and although in Arabia, from
whence Fulcherius supposes they come, thickets are found in
some places, and it has been imagined that the locusts lie con-
cealed in them during the winter, which may be thought to be
their camping in the hedges in the cold day ; yet it is to be i
observed that the word translated hedges, properly signifies, not j
living fences, but stone walls, and therelore cannot with propriety j
be applied to thickets But if the locust appears in the months J
of April and May, the phrase M cold day " may seem to be im- j
properjy chosen. This difficulty, which may be thought a j
considerable one, arises entirely from our translation. The
original term, karah, denotes both cold and cooling ; and the
difficulty vanishes when the latter is introduced, and the words
are translated, the day of cooling, or the time when the Orientals



I the grasshopper,
I or at least that
their range is
far more limited.
They are exten-
sive enough, how-
ever, in the Ame-
rican Switzer-
land, and their
work will inflict
much damage on
the farmers. The
gr a ssh uppers
are, however, the
great plague of
the country
They have been
more destructive
to crops in Min-
nesota and Iowa
than all the raids
made into these
States by the In-
dians during the
past ten years.
A rough guess
would place the
destruction cf
wheat alone in
Minnesota at
1,500,000 bushels.
This would make
the loss in wheat
amount to one
and a quarter
million dollars,
and as much
more, perhaps,
for the other
cereals would,
together, give
about the esti-
mate of the
mouetary dam-
age to Minnesota.
Iowa has pro-
bably suffered
the same loss, or
very near it ;
while an eighth
of a million dol-
lars, or perhaps
less, will make up
the amount of
injury done to
Nebraska. Along
the line of the
Union Pacific
Railroad they
have devoured
the leaves of
ever}' corn-stalk,
so that the fields
present a most
dilapidated ap-
pearance. I saw
a shower of these
insects falling
near the town of
Freemont, and
cau only compare
it to a dense
suowstonn, A



126



JOEL.



[Cap. ii. 21-25.



comparison not
inappropriate, as
their wings are
white. When the
train pttempted
to move on it was
prevented by the
numbers crashed
by the wheels, as
they made the
track so slippery

a " The Prophet
had declared that I
the earth and i
the animal and
vegetable king-
doms are in-
volved in suffer-
ing for man's
sin ; and he now
reveals the joyful
truth that they
will be renewed
in God's mercy,
on man's repen-
tance and faith.
Comp. Ho. ii. 21
—23 ; Ro. viii. 19
— 22."— Words-
worth.

b Ps. lxvii. 6;
Zee. viii. 12.
v. 21. Alexander
Shanls, 177.
r. 22. J. Milner,
11U4.
c Campbell.

a Comp. Je. x.
23, xxx. 11.

"After the fast,
and the prayer,
and the repen-
tance, it is in
accordance with
the righteous-
ness of God, who
repents Him of
the evil, that He
should send the
rains. "Spk. Com.

b " The effect of
the seasonable
rains shall be
abundance of all
articles of food."
—Fausset.

rr. 23, 24. Dr. M.

Hole, ii. 72.

v. 25. C. E. Ken-
nauay, 230.

9 Dr. Thomas.



open their windows with the view of refrigerating their houses,
or to retreat from the oppressive heats, which commence in the
months of April and May. to the cooling shades of their
gardens. A derivative of this term is employed by the sacred
historian to denote the refrigeratory or summer parlour, which
Eglon, the king of Moab, occupied when Ehud presented the
tribute of his nation.

21, 22. (21) O land, or earth. Reference is to the fields,
etc., wh. had borne the weight of Divine judgment." great
things, in the way of deliverance and restoration. (22) do
spring, start growing again after the time of desolation : see
ch. i. 19. their strength, in rich and abundant fruitage. 6
Golden harvest of autumn. —
Autumn ! and the red sun through mottled clouds.

Like fire-bark through blue waves, his passage cleaves ;
In ripening raiment all the orchard shrouds,

And gilds with glory all the saffron sheaves.
The wind, swift handmaid of the harvest field,
Curling the yellow tresses of the corn,
Brings, on the breaking silence of the morn.
The reapers' song. Lo ! where they wildly wield
Their glittering sickles, brandish d high in air,
Ere they begin their merry toil ! and now
The shout is hushed into a murmur low :

The sun advancing from his cloud-girt lair,
Chases from sorest hearts sad dreams of night,
For darkest waters will reflect his light/

23—25. (23) children of Zion, or of Judah ; for Joel was
a prophet of the southern kingdom, former rain, wh. fell in
autumn, about October, moderately, Heb. " according to
righteouness ; " a in measures of gracious adaptation, latter
rain, wh. fell three months before harvest, about March,
first month, better, first place, or before the outpouring of
the Spirit, v. 28. (24) floors, i.e. the threshing-floors, vats,
i.e. vats into w r h. the wine and oil were pressed. 6 (25) locust,
etc., ch. i. 4.

Twofold restoration (vv. 25 — 27). — These words refer to a two-
fold restoration. I. The restoration of lost material mercies. 1.
By giving the same in kind as in the case of Job : 2. By bestow-
ing that which answers to the same purpose. II. The restoration
of lost religious privileges. 1. Worship ; 2. Communion.*"

The former and latter rain (v. 23). — In southern climates rain
comes at particular seasons, which are generally termed the
rainy seasons. The rain seldom continues to fall long at one
time even then, but rather falls in what may be called thunder-
showers, and in torrents. If the ground happens to be hard,
which it generally is. such a short, though plentiful fall of rain,
does little service to the land, as it runs off immediately, not
having time to soften and sink into the ground : afterward the
powerful hoeit of the sun, soon breaking forth from behind the
clouds, draws up the little damp that has been left, which soon
rehardens the surface of the ground, and renders it as impervious
as before, so that succeeding showers are rendered almost useless ;
but rain falling moderately, as promised in the text, gradually



Cap.ii. 26, 27.]



JOEL.



127



penetrates the ground, and prepares it to retain future shower?, '
which process produces fertility.*

26, 27. (26) be satisfied, eomp. Le. xxvi. 5, 26. be
ashamed, by reason of disappointed hopes of harvest. This
caused shame because it was a sure sign of their Lord's dis-
pleasure. (27) none else, i.e. no other supposed god has any
claim to your allegiance.* 1

The courage and confidence of God's people (v. 26). — I. The
nature and grounds of that confidence under which they shall
never be moved. 1. They rest on the strong arm of Omnipo-
tence ; 2. They build on a firm foundation ; 3. They have the
promises ; 4. The anchor of hope. II. The effect of this godly
boldness and confidence. 1. Note the effect of the opposite
quality ; 2. The godly have a state of peace ; 3. They stand up
for the cause of God. 6

Courage in lonly places. — Go ask God*s angels where they see
the most courage. Not at the cannons mouth : not at the hilted
sword. Go see the saintly Christian mother that, for the space
of twenty years, has suffered days and nights of pain, in order to
give, literally, her life for her children. Left, when her husband
died, a widow, in extreme poverty, she determines, by the love
she bore him, as well as by the love she bears them, that they
shall grow up to intelligence and education ; and through toiling ,
pain, as much as martyrs feel at the stake, by day and by night,
willingly, in long months — Oh ! how long the year is to misery !
— she has given herself to these children. And now, one by one,
as they have come upon the stage, in answer to her heroic efforts,
they are prospered. But the sands are running out. She has
used, herself up. And at that time when woman should become
matron, and, after all her suffering and shattering, should begin
to be serene and happy, her forces are failing : and in poverty
she is dying. She looks back upon her whole life, and there has
never been a day that has not been bitter. There has never
been a day in which she could have lived if she had not believed
in God ; and now she is dying. Ask God's angels if there is any
hero on the battle-field that is so hercic as this poor spent Chris-
tian, that is dying, and glad to die, that has literally poured her j
life out like a cup of bitterness and pain for other people. — |
Bravery in reproving sin. — A merchant and shipowner of New
York was standing at the entrance of his warehouses, conversing i
with a gentleman on business. A pious sailor belonging to one
of his vessels came to the warehouse to enter it. but observing
that the door was occupied, modestly stepped aside, not willing
to interrupt the conversation. While waiting there, he heard j
the name of Jesus profanely used ; and, on turning to look, he j
observed that it was his employer who was speaking. Instantly ;
changing his position, and standing in front of the gentleman,
with his head uncovered, and his hat under his arm, he addressed
the merchant in this language, <; Sir, will you excuse me if I !
speak a word to you 1 " The gentleman, recognising him as one
of the crew of his vessel recently arrived, and supposing he :
might have something to say about the business of the ship, told i
him to speak on. " You won't be offended, then, sir, with a poor
ignorant sailor, if he tells you his feelings ? " said he. " Certainly
not," replied the merchant. " Well, then, sir," said the sailor,
with much feeling, " will you be so '-and as not to take the name



d Campbell.



a Eze. xxxvii. 26,
27, xxxix. 22 ;
Zep. iii. 15, 17.
v. 2G. Alexander

Shanks, 406 : \V.
X. Darn 11, 211.

b W.Stone, M.A.

"True cou
not the brutal
force of vulgar
heroes, but the
firm i esolve of
virtue ami of
reason. He who
thinks without
their aid to shine
in deeds of arms
builds on a sandy
basis his renown ; '
a dream, a va-
pour, or an ague
fit, may make a
coward of him."
— Whitehead.

" He's truly vali-
ant that can
wisely suffer the
worst that man
can breathe, and
make his wrongs
his outsides; to
wear them like
his raiment, care-
lessly ; and ne'er
prefer his injuries
to his heart, to
bring it into
danger."— Shake-
speare.

'• True courage is
not moved by
breath of words,
while the rash
bravery of boiling
blood imperuous,
knows no settled
principle. A
fev'rish tide, it
has its ebbs and
flows, as spirits
rise or fall, as
wine inflami s, or
circum stances
change; but in-
born counige, the
gen'rous child of
Fortitude and
Faith, holds its
firm empire in
the constant

soul and like the
steadfast pole-
star, never once
from the same
fix'd and faithful
point declines."
— Hannah More,



123



JOEL.



[Cap. ii. 28 -29.



« Thou turn'st
mine eyes into
my very soul ;
and there I see
such black and •
grained spots as
will not leave
their tinct."—
Shakespeare.



a Ac. ii. 17.

6 Is. xliv. 3 ; Eze.
xxxix. 29.

e " Prophecy, vi-
sions, dreams, are |
naturallyselected
by Joel as being
the recognised
forms of the
manifestation of ]
the Spirit under
the Old Testa-
men t." — Sp k.
Com.

d Ga. in. 28 ; Co.
iii. 11.

w. 28, 29. R.

Southgate, ii. 380 ;
W. Gilpin, 349.

e W. W. Whythe.

fj. A. Macdonald.
" As to the Chris-
tian religion, be-
sides the strong
evidence wluch
we have for it,
there is a balance
in its favour from
the number of
great men who
have been con-
vinced of its
truth after a
serious consider-
ation of the ques-
tion. G-rotius was
an acute man, a
lawyer, a man
accustomed to
examine evi-
dence, and he
was convinced.
Grotius was not
a recluse, but a
man of the world,
who certainly
had no bias on
the side of reli-
gion. Sir Isaac
Newton set out
au infidel, and
came to be a
very firm be-
1 i e v e r. '■— D r.
Johnson.



of ray blessed Jesus in vain ? He is a good Saviour. He took
my feet out of ' the horrible pit and miry clay, and established
my goings.' O sir! don't, if you please, take the name of my
Master, the Lord Jesus, in vain. He is your Creator as well as
mine ; and He has made you, and preserves you, and is always
doing you good." This was said with so much earnestness and
feeling, that the gentleman was quite touched. His eyes filled
with tears, and he said, "My good fellow, God helping me, I will
never again take the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour,
in vain." " Thank you, sir," said the honest tar ; and, putting
on his hat, he went away to his work.

28, 29. (28) afterward, in the last days ;" in the Messianio
times. The immediate temporal blessings were to be the sign of
the future spiritual blessings, pour . . spirit, the gift of the
Spirit is presented under the figure of refreshing rains,* wh. is
used in the previous verses. As the Divine Spirit had been given
to Prophets in the older dispensation, so it; should be given to all
in the new. dreams, etc., the various modes of Divine commu-
nication previously given. 6 (29) servants, etc., the new grace
would be set under no class restrictions. To the poor the Gospel
was preached ; and upon the slaves the Divine Spirit came.''

The new dispensation (v. 28). — The properties of the Gospel
dispensation are — I. Spirituality. 1. "Will pour out of My Spirit ;
2. Power — your sons and your daughters shall prophesy ; 3.
Liberty — in Jerusalem shall be deliverance ; 4. Expansiveness —
all flesh.« — The Gospel dispensation (v. 28). — The Gospel dispensa-
tion was to be characterised — I. By spirituality. 1. Formerly
the Spirit dwelt with men ; 2. Now He dwells in them. II. By
liberty. 1. The Gospel finds us in chains ; 2. It bursts our bonds
asunder. III. Power. 1. Marvellous spiritual signs ; 2. Stupen-
dous physical wonders. IV. Expansiveness. I. Its salvation is
universally free ; 2. Its conditions are level to all capacities ; 3.
It triumphs over all conventionalities./

The two dispensations. — If the glorious things of God are seen
by us, as St. Paul saith, but darkly in the glass of faith, yet hath
this glass a concentrating power which makes their rays con-
verge into one point, and play upon our innermost soul, with a
warning, as well as a brightening, influence ; and the difference
between us and those of the older dispensation is briefly this,
that the revelation of a final state, wherein God should be the
soul's full possession, shone to them as a distant light in a dark
place, towards which indeed they might direct their course, but
by which they could hardly guide their steps ; whereas to us it
is a lamp, as well as a beacon, the cheerer, as well as the aim, of
our toilsome pilgrimage. And then at last will come that final
state of blessedness, when faith and hope will be entirely swal-
lowed up in boundless and endless charity ; when the " light
intellectual full of love " shall reabsorb and quench, in its peei
less brightness, the scattered beams it had before suffered to
wander upon earth ; when every other good and holy thing shall
melt and be transmuted in tha- one assimilating, tinifying
essence ; and, like dewdroi s wnich have refreshed us in the
morning, and then have been caught up by some heaving swell
of the ocean tide, though small and imperfect, shall become the
elements of the unlimited and eternal. We, thus, are placed in
a middle state between one past and one that is yet to come, a



Cap. ii. 30-32.]



JOEL.



129



state necessarily intended as the completion of the former, and
as a preparation for the latter, whereof the type is shadowed
forth in that which hath preceded, while itself is the emblem
and fair image of that which shall follow. Now, this position
must give rise to many interesting analogies ; forasmuch as all
things, being thus in unbroken progress from the beginning to
the end of God's dispensations, without violent shocks or sudden
changes, we must expect to find in the present order or state such
qualities and dispositions as may suit this its twofold character,
that is to say, perfective of a former, and initatory of a future
state. And even as a skilful geometer shall, by the accurate
measurement of a shadow, under certain conditions, tell you
exactly the height and proportions of the object which projects
it, and, again, from the survey of this, shall define what the
other should at any time be, so may we by a diligent study of
those two other dispensations as well as of our own, the one
whereof we are the fulfilment, the other whereof we are the
figure, arrive at much important knowledge regarding the con-
dition of our present state.*"

' 30 — 32. (30) wonders, etc., " these figures chiefly symbolise
political revolutions, and changes in the ruling powers of the
world."" (31) sun . . blood/ these figures denote the melan-
choly condition of public affairs previous to the destruction of
Jerusalem. There may also be intended a reference to the time
of general judgment. (32) whosoever, etc., Ro. x. 13. and
in Jerusalem, comp. Lu. xxiv. 47. remnant, poss. referring
to the Christians who escaped at the time of the siege of Jeru-
salem.

Hallowing effects of daybreak. —

What soul was his when from the naked top

Of some bold headland he beheld the sun

Rise up and bathe the world in light 1 He look'd —

Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth

And ocean's liquid mass, beneath him lay

In gladness and deep joy. The clouds were touched,

And in their silent faces did he read

Unutterable love. Sound needed none,

Nor any voice of joy ; his spirit drank

The spectacle ; sensation, soul, and form

All melted into him ; they swallowed up

His animal being ; in them did he live,

And by them did he live ; they were his life.

In such access of mind, in such high hour
Of visitation from the Living God,
Thought was not ; in enjoyment it expired ;
No thanks he breathed, he proffer'd no request
Rapt into still communion that transcends
The imperfect offices of prayer and praise,
His mind was a thanksgiving to the Power
Thari made him ; it was blessedness and love I •



Such a string of

pearls, I think,
! were never put
| around the neck
I of any favourite,

as Christ put
I around the neck
j of His disciples,

when He pro-
I nounced the

Beatitudes.

g Cardinal Wit*
man.



a " We have two
kinds of sirocco,
one accompanied
with vehement
wind, which fills
the air with dust
and fine sand. I
have often seen
the whole hea-
vens veiled in
gloom with this
sort of sand-
cloud, through
which the sun,
shorn of hi3
beams, looked
like a globe of
dull smouldering
fire. It may have
been this pheno-
menon wh. sug-
gested that
strong prophetic
fig. of Joel. The
pillars of smoke
are probably
those columns of
sand and dust
raised high in the
air by local whirl-
winds, wh. often
accompany the
s i r o c c a"—
Thomson.
b Mat. xxiv. 29;
Mk. xiii. 24 ; Lu.
xxi. 25; Re. vj.
12.
c WordsworUt,



VOL. X. O.T.



130



JOEL.



[Cap. iii. 1-6.



a " The Prophet
comprises the
whole redemp-
tion, beginning
from the return
out of Babylon,
then continued
from the first ad-
vent of Christ
down to the last
day (His second
advent) when
God will restore
His Church to
perfect felicity."
■ — Calvin.
Je. xxx. 3.
b 2 Chr. xx.
" There is no re-
ference to the
valley close be-
side Jerusalem
which has been
thus named. At



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 10) → online text (page 21 of 64)