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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the doom of guilty men. Unless the sinner be delivered, he is
lost for ever. II. The sinner's safety. Jesus Christ bears in
His own body the curse ; plucks the soul from the fire by His
loving hand ; quenches the smoking embers of sin by His
grace. [Take up the brand, as if to represent the sinner plucked
from the burning.] III. The sinner saved. 1. He still bears
the marks of sin, you can see he has been in the fire ; he has no
comeliness of outer life ; his influence still is bad, just as this
brand blackens my hand and mars this napkin. [Proof by
experiment.] Can this state of things be improved ? Let us
see. [Cut off the charred surface until the white wood appears.]
What do we see 1 Yes, the black disappears, and the pure, clean
wood comes out. Christ not only saves us from death, but He,
at the same time, takes away our sin. He is " the Lord our
righteousness." We shall never be wholly perfect here ; but it
is our duty, by the help of God, to cut off every possible mark
and trace of sin from our characters. ' ; Be ye perfect ;" that is
the end toward which we all should strive. Cut off your sins,
children. [The napkin may now be applied to the brand with-
out being soiled.] 2. One thing more : the future state of the
changed sinner. I have seen in houses, as I passed, charred
boards and blackened bricks nailed and built into the walls
again. They have been saved from the fire, and now were once
more filling their place in the homes of men. So Jesus takes
the sinner, the brand plucked out of the fire, and builds him
into His glorious spiritual temple. May we all have a part and
place there, (a) How grateful the Christian should be for
Christ's love and salvation 1 (b) " If the righteous scarcely can
be saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear ?" The
following division of the above address may also be made. (1)
The charred stick, bearing the marks of sin. (2) The soiled
hands, spreading the marks of sin. (3) The cut stick, removing
the marks of sin. (4) The rebuilt house, repairing the work
of sin. rf

A countryman's conversion. — A plain countryman, who was
effectually called by Divine grace under a sermon from Ze. iii. 2,
was some time afterwards accosted by a quondam companion of
his drunken fits, and strongly solicited to accompany him to the
alehouse. But the good man strongly resisted all his arguments,
saying, " I am a brand plucked out of the fire." His old com-
panion not understanding this, he explained it thus : — " Look
ye," said he, " there is a great difference between a brand and a
green stick ; if a spark flies upon a brand that has been partly

might as well
desist from the
building of the

b "A small rem-
nant, rescued
from destruction,
like a brand
plucked out of
the fire." — Lowlh.

vv. 1, 2. Bp. Rey-
nolds, v. 184.

rt>. 1—5. Dr.
Gordon, iv. 385.

vv. 1—8. F. Ar-
nold, 264.

v. 2. T. Pierce,
200; B.Beddome,
iv. 160 ; /. Joicett,
337 ; F. Close, ii.

c W. Jay.

A minister of the
Gospel one day
saw a piece of ivy
entwined round a
brand in the fire.
He took it out,
planted it in
front of his house.
It took root.grew,
grew higher, and
spread wider, un-
til it covered the
front most luxu-
riantly, forming
a beautiful orna-
ment, and ad-
mired by the
passers-by. To
all inquiries he
gives the history
of its planting
and growth, and
then asks the
question," Is not
this a brand
plucked from the
burning ? "

d H. C. McCook.

" When a man
has had a very
narrow escape
from danger or
from death, he is
called a fire-
brand I Thus,
when the cholera
rages, should only
one in a family
escape, he ia
named "the fire-
brand." When a


[Cap. iii. 3-7.

person talks of
6elling bis pro-
perty in conse-
quence of not
having an heir,
people say, 'Sell
it not, there will
be yet a firebrand
to inherit it.'
4 Alas I alas ! my
relations are all
dead, I am a fire-
brand.' "-Roberts.

e Whitecross.

a "When the
people in the E.
are in deep dis-
tress, or when
they have been
charged with
some capital

crime, it is cus-
tomary for them
not to wash
themselves, but
to allow the dirt
to accumulate
both on their
person and dress.
The angel of the
Lord ordered the
officer*; or justice
to take his filthy
garments off, as
a mark of his
acquittal, and to
clothe him with
a change of rai-
ment, as an em-
blem of his justi-

b Rend, diadem,
Job xxix. 14 ; Is.

c Paxton.
4 Trevch.

burned, it will soon catch fire again ; but it is not so with a green
stick. I tell you, I am that brand plucked out of the fire, and I
dare not venture into the way of temptation, for fear of being
set on fire." e — Hie Saviour of the sinner. — A wild Indian convert
has given us a striking comment on this text. An American
missionary having one day overtaken one of these " babes in
Christ " in the woods, accosted him with " Tell me what your
heart says of Jesus." The Indian stood still, paused awhile, and
then replied, " Stop, and I will show you." Stooping down, he
gathered some dry leaves into a circle, in the middle of which
I he left an open space, and dropped a worm into it : he then set
fire to the leaves. The flames quickly ran round them, and the
poor insect, beginning to feel the heat, writhed and wriggled
about in all directions, seeking in vain some way of escape from
the torment. At last, exhausted with its fruitless efforts, it sank
motionless. The Indian stretched out his hand, lifted up the
worm, and laid it on the cool ground, beyond the reach of its
place of torture. M This Jesus did for me," said the Indian ;
" and this is what my heart tells me I owe to Him."

3—5. (3) filthy garments, as representative of a sinful
people. (4) take . . him, as the sign of his justification and
acceptance. (5) fair mitre, 5 Heb. tsaniph, the head-dress of
priests and kings.

Filthy garments (v. 3). — It was usual, especially among the
Romans, when a man was charged with a capital crime, and
during his arraignment, to let down his hair, suffer his beard to
grow long, to wear filthy ragged garments, and appear in a very
dirty and sordid habit ; on account of which they were called
sordidati. When the person accused was brought into court to
be tried, even his near relations, friends, and acquaintances,
before the court voted, appeared with dishevelled hair, and
clothed with garments foul and out of fashion, weeping, crying,
and deprecating punishment. The accused sometimes appeared
before the judges clothed in black, and his head covered with
dust. In allusion to this ancient custom, the Prophet Zechariah
represents Joshua, the high priest, when he appeared before the
Lord, and Satan stood at his right hand to accuse him, as clothed
with filthy garments. After the cause was carefully examined,
and all parties impartially heard, the public crier, by command
of the presiding magistrate, ordered the judges to bring in their
verdict. "'—The words, " Behold, I have caused thme iniquity to
pass from thee," brought to bear on the parable of the prodigal
son, make it probable that by the bringing out of the b^st robe
and putting it upon him is especially signified the act of God,
which, considered on its negative side, is a release from condem-
nation ; a causing of the sinner's iniquity to pass from him ; on
its positive side is an imputation to him of the merits and
righteousness of his Lord.*

Used in the : 6, 7. (6) protested, or declared in a very solemn manner.
l*no?ei*mc\l ( 7 > charge, or ordinance.- judge my house, rule my
and duties of temple, places . . by, 6 free ingress and egress m the execution
priests and|of thy priesthood.

Levites. fj^ jji D / e (UU i truc greatness (t\ 7). — I. The Bible directs us to

b For the term the sphere of true greatness. II. The Bible directs us to the

Cap. iv. 1-10.]



path of true greatness. III. The Bible gives us the guarantee
for true greatness.*

8 — 10. (8) men wondered at, or men set for a sign, or
type." " Their intercessory office makes them types of the great
Intercessor, the branch, 6 Je. xxiii. 5 ; Is. iv. 2. Heb. tsemach.
(9) stone, i.e. the chief, or foundation-stone.' seven eyes,
the number implies the perfection of the Divine vision. (10)
under the vine, 1 Ki. iv. 25.

Gospel blessings (v. 10). — I. The blessings of Christ's kingdom
include — 1. Perfect security ; 2. Unalloyed happiness ; 3.
Religious zeal ; 4. Christian love.

Meals out of doors (v. 10). — The Oriental banquet, in conse-
quence of the intense heat, is often spread upon the verdant
turf, beneath the shade of a tree, where the streaming rivulet
supplies the company with wholesome water, and excites a gentle
breeze to cool their burning temples. The vine and the fig, it
appears from the faithful page of inspiration, are preferred on
such joyous occasions.


1 — 4. (1) waked me, from trance. (2) candlestick," fig.
of the Jewish service and polity, bowl, 6 covnp. Ex. xxvii. 20. 21.
seven pipes, to convey new oil from the olive trees. (3) olive
trees, living sources of fresh oil. c In a secret and unperceived
manner these supplied the bowls. (4) spake, better, said.

Shining lamps {v. 2). — There are four things necessary to a
lamps giving light properly. 1. They must be lighted ; 2. They
must be set ; 3. They must be fed ; 4. They must be trimmed.
Apply : — (1) Have you lamps? (2) Are you lamps?**

5 — 7. (5) knowest, etc., as if the Prophet's spiritual dis-
cernment should have discovered the meaning. (6) Zerubbabel,
who was to be encouraged to undertake the rebuilding of the
temple, not by might, or mere human force, by my spirit,
a sure, lasting but secret strengthening and replenishing, like
that of the olive trees. (7) great mountain, of difficulty and
hindrance. All mountain-like obstacles, headstone, or top-
stone, the sign of the completion of the building. 4

The increase of God (v. 6). — I. The machinery. 1. A wealthy
Church ; 2. A popular policy ; 3. An eloquent ministry ; 4.
Efficient appliances. II. The motive power. God's Spirit — 1.
Must provide the means ; 2. Must qualify the agents ; 3. Must
give efficiency.' — The work and the workers. — Explain the history.
Here was a great work to be done. I. We have all a great work
to do — 1. For ourselves ; 2. For others. II. What have we
wherewith to do this ? Our might of mind and power of resolve
not enough. Divine help needful. "My spirit." III. Those
who are naturally of the weakest, become strong with this help.
God's heroes (see Heb. xi.) were, by this Spirit, clothed with
might in the inner man, and became strong.''

8 — 10. (8, 9) his hands, a gracious assurance wh. would
greatly encourage Zerubbabel." (10) small things, 4 or begin-
nings. The unfinished temple, and the feeble and depressed
condition of the people, plummet, used in actual building


tralk see

xlii. 4.

c Dr. Thomai.

a " They are men
to be gazed at
with wonder, be-
I cause they typify
' a great mystery,
which was no
other than the
incarnation and
priesthood of
I Jesus the Son of
! G o d." — Words-

b The Alex. Jews
trans, this word
the sunrise, the
dayspring from
on high.

c Ps. cxviii. 22;
Is. xxviii. 16.

o Ex. xxv. 31—

b A vessel to store
the oil.

c " The oil is
supplied by God
Himself through
the olive trees,
which represent
the functions of
Christ, who is
the great High
Priest and King."
— Wordsworth,
d Dr. Edmond.

a " The secret
assistance of My
providenc e."
— Lowth.

b Ezr. iii 11. Ti

v. 6. 'Ep. Rey-
nolds, v. 319 ; H.
T. Day, 35 ; Dr.
W. Wilson, 85;
Bp. Vidal, 375;
Dr. R. Gordon, iv.

vv. 6, 7. J. I/vatt,
190; C. Bradley,
ii. 370.

c W. Whythe.
d Hive.

a Ezr. v. S, vt
14, 15.

b Comp. Mat. xiii.
31, 32.



[Cap. Iv. 8-1Q.

c. 10. /. Mede, i.
63 ; G. Whitefield,
vi. 369; W. Jay,
ii. 180; Dr. E.
Payson, ii. 507 ;
J. C. Miller, 176 ;
/. Foster, ii. 365.

e W. Whythe.

"The little coral
insects that build
up the beautiful
islands which
stud the face of
the Southern Sea
work, we are told,
for ages in the
dark caves of the
ocean, regardless
of their perishing
in obscurity long
before their
graceful archi-
tecture even be-
gins to peep
above the surface
of the waters ;
but each content
to coutribute its
tiny labours to
hasten on the
final consumma-
tion, when its
isle of beauty
shall stand com-
plete like a gem
on the bosom of .wned
.with verdure and
fertility, and
teeming with life
and abundance.
So is it with
those who labour
under the guid-
ance of Provi-
dence for the ac-
complishment of
some remote
good. They may
work on for ge-
nerations in ob-
scurity and con-
tempt, conscious
only that they
are working in
harmony with
the plans of God,
and that they are
helping in bring-
ting to pass those
.scenes of blessed-
ness and peace
npon which
humanity, even
in its darkest
moments, ha-
loved to rejoice
in hope." — Peace
Society's Report,
4 Roberts.

operations, as the line for measuring out the ground, those
seven, the eyes wh. were the symbol of the Divine presence
and aid. run . . earth, ch. hi. 9.

Nothing trifling (v. 10). — I. Natural trifles yielding great
results. 1. The seed ; 2. The spark ; 3. The mountain stream ;
4. The child. II. Providential trifles issuing in great lives. 1.
Scripture examples ; 2. Secular. III. Historical trifles producing
great revolutions. 1. Introduction of the Gospel ; 2. The Re-
formation : 3. Denominational beginnings ; 4. Missionary enter-
| prises/ — The dag of small tilings (v. 10). — 1. Little errors not to
be overlooked ; 2. Small sins not to be indulged ; 3. The begin-
j nings of grace not to be contemned ; 4. Slight means not to be
I neglected ; 5. Weak Christians not to be despised ; 6. A rising
j cause not to be despaired of.

Small things (v. 10). — The margin has, instead of "they shall
: rejoice," " or since the seven eyes of the Lord shall" (iii. 9,
I " Seven eyes "). Dr. Boothroyd says, the>e eyes represent " the
perfect oversight and providence of God," which I doubt not is
the true meaning. It is a curious fact that the sun which
shines seven times in the course of the week is spoken of as the
" seven eyes " of the Deity, because there is an eye for each day.
Thus, the Sunday, the " first eye " of God shines, and so on
through the rest of the days. In the 9th verse mention is made
of laying the foundation stone of a temple for Jehovah, and
again in the 10th verse it is asked. " Who hath despised the day
of small things /" saying it is only the foundation, this is a small
beginning : fear not, for the " seven eyes " of the Lord are over
the work. His good providence shall accomplish the whole,
because He has an eye for each day of the week. Has a man
suffered a great evil, has an antagonist triumphed over another,
either in a court of justice or any other way, he says, in talking
about his misfortunes, " God has lost His eyes, or I should not
have fallen into this trouble." " Well, friend, how is this? I
hear you have gained the day." " True, true, the eyes of God
were upon me." Should there not have been rain for some time,
the people say, " God has no eyes in these days," i.e. He does not
take care of us. In the book Neethe-veanpa it is said, " To all
there are two eyes ; to the learned there are three : to the giver
of alms there are seven eyes (alluding to each day) ; but to those
who through penance have received gracious gifts there are in-
numerable eyes."" — Great results from small beginnings. — A boy
overheard his mother say she had dedicated him to the service of
God as a missionary. That boy was Samuel J. Mills. When he
was converted his mind was turned towards missions. He was
wont to hold a prayer meeting with some other students in a
grove. A thunderstorm drove them to take shelter under a
neighbouring haystack ; and there, amid the storm, the question
of missions was discussed. It was not a missionary age. One of
the five present relates that "Mills proposed to send the Gospel
to that dark and heathen land (Asia), and said we could do it if
we would." It was made a subject of prayer while the dark
clouds were passing away, and the clear sky breaking out after
the storm. They prayed together earnestly, and the young men
founded a society, the object of which was "to effect in the
person of its members a mission to the heathen." This led to
the formation of the American Board of Foreign Missions.

Cap. iv. 11-14.]



Such was its small beginning-. Five only assembled at its first '
meeting, seven at its second. Thousands are now assembled at i
its annual meetings. Its missions are in almost all parts of the j
globe : " 1,258 missionaries, ordained and unordained, male and
female, have been sent out." They have formed 149 churches, \
and have gathered at least 55,000 church members. It hr 369
schools, containing more than 10,000 children. It has raised
nations from the lowest forms of heathenism to Christian
civilisation. — " They've forgotten the rope." — A tall chimney had
been completed, and the scaffolding was being removed. One
man remained on the top to superintend the process. A rope
should have been left for him to descend by. His wife was at
home washing, when her little boy burst in with " Mother,
mother, they've forgotten the rope, and he's going to throw
himself down !" She paused — her lips moved in the agony of
prayer — and she rushed forth. A crowd were looking up to the
poor man, who was moving round and round the narrow cornice,
terrified and bewildered 1 He seemed as if at any moment he
might fall, or throw himself down in despair. His wife from
below cried out — "Wait a bit, John !'' The man became calm.
". Take off thy stocking — unravel the worsted." And he did so.
" Now tie the end to a bit of mortar and lower gently." Down
came the thread and the bit of mortar, swinging backwards and
forwards. Lower and lower it descended, eagerly wai bed by
many eyes ; it was now within reach, and was gently seized by
one of the crowd. They fastened some twine to the thread.
" Now pull up." The man got hold of the twine. The rope was
now fastened on. " Pull away again. '" He at length seized the
rope and made it secure. There were a few moments of sus-
pense, and then, amidst the shouts of the people, he threw him-
self into the arms of his wife, sobbing — " Thoust saved me,
Mary." The worsted thread was not despised — it drew after it
the twine, the rope, the rescue ! Ah, my friend, thou mayest be
sunk very low down in sin and woe, but there is a thread of
Divine love, that comes from the throne of heaven, and touches
even thee. Seize that thread. It may be small, but it is golden.
Improve what you have, however little, and more shall be given.
That thin thread of love, if you will not neglect it, shall lift
even you up to God and glory. " Who hath despised the day of
small things?"

11—14. (11) what . . trees. (12) pipes, etc., v. 3. The
Prophet noticed the peculiarity that the trees fed the bowls
without any pressing of the hand of man. (13) knowest,
etc., see note on v. 5. (14) anointed ones, the kingdom and
the priesthood," represented by Zerubbabel and Joshua. This,
however, was only a part of their symbolism.*

The vision of the olive trees (vv. 11 — 14). — I. The import of the
vision. 1. The general scope of it is declared by God Himself ;

2. The particular parts of it will be found to bear upon this
point with much power. II. The instruction to be derived
Jrom it. 1. That Christ is by His office qualified to support and
perfect His Church ; 2. That the fulness which is in Him is ex-
pressly committed to Him for the use and benefit of His Church ;

3. That in the use of His ordinances we may expect the needed
supplies ; 4. That however low our state may be, or powerful our
enemies, His grace shall be sufficient for us.

" We see this
illustrated in the
world of nature,
and in the world
of grace. The
little humming-
V.ird, the little
gm t, the little
violet, the little
minnow, the
little mite, the
little atom, lie
makes use of
in a wise and
beautiful manner
in creation, for
the manifesti*-
tion of His glory.
So He does in
grace. The little
promise, the little
faith, the little
talent, all have
their place, and
are used by Him
for His glory." — •
John Bu.e.

" I 1 is a little
thing to give a
cup of water ;
yet its draught
of cool refresh-
ment, drained by
fevered lips, may
give a shock of
\ leasure to the
soul more exqui-
site by far than
when uectareous
juice renew? the
life of joy in
happiest houra."
— Tal/ourd.

a" The appointed
means and chan-
nels by wh. the
favour and grace
of God were con-
veyed and be-
stowed on the
Heb. people."—

b Re. xi. 3, 4.
c C. Simeon, M.A.



[Cap. v. 1-4.

a Wordsworth.

* The dimensions
of the roll seem
to have no special
meaning beyond
implying that it
■was a roll of
great magni-
tude." — Spk. Com.

Eze. ii. 9, 10.

w Books are a
part of man's
prerogative ; in
formal ink they
thoughts and
voices hold, that
we to them our
solitude may
give, and make
time present tra-
velled that of
old. Our life,
fame pierceth
longer at the
end, and books
it farther back-
ward do extend."
— Overbury.

ft Rev. W. Cooke,

* Comp. the
oracle at Delphi
against the per-
jurer: "The
curse shall
swiftly enter, and
shall bring the
man himself and
all his house to

Pr. iii. 33; Is.
xxiv. 5, 6.
44 It is said that
a prisoner stand-
ing at the bar.
indicted for
felony, was asked
by the judge
what lie could say
for himself.

* Truly, my lord,'
says he, 'I did
mean no hurt
when I stole ; it
is an evil custom
that I have
gotten ; I have
been used to it
ever since I knew
a n y t h i n g.'—
4 Why, then,' says
the judge, ' if it
be thy custom to


1, 2. (1) flying roll, or book unrolled and spread out. (2)
twenty . . cubits, the size of the Holy Place in the Tabernacle,
and of the porch in Sol.'s temple.* 2 The roll is a symbol of a
solemn warning-.

The flying roll seen by Zechariah. — The roll indicates the form
in which books were formerly written — not in separate leaves,
and bound in pasteboard and leather backs, as ours are at the
present day, but the skins of goats, or some other animal, having-
been dried and cut into square pieces, were attached together,
and made to extend to a length of several yards. Then one end
was fastened to a roller, and the whole was rolled up just as we
roll up a map. Indeed, our word volume comes from this ancient
usage of forming a book by rolling it up ; for the word volume
means a something rolled up. The roll which Zechariah saw was
such a volume, and it was a very large one, being twenty cubits,
or thirty feet, in length, and ten cubits, or fifteen feet, in breadth.
All this space was written on full of the curses or threatenings
of God against sinful men. Now God has recorded His threaten-
ings as well as His promises, for He is alike faithful in the ful-
filment of both. But the passage speaks of the roll flying, and
what is meant by this ? It seems simply that when the Prophet
saw the roll it seemed to be moving swiftly across the heavens —
thereby indicating that, as the roll was not stationary, so God's
judgments against wicked men are not for one place only, but
for all places where sin reigns : and as the roll moved swiftly, so
God's judgments were not to be long delayed, but to be speedily
poured forth on the guilty nations. 6

3, 4. (3) curse, or rather, the document on wh. the curse is
inscribed. For judgments denounced against the Jews see
De. xxvii. 15 — 26, xxviii. 15—68. sweareth, i.e. falsely, v. 4.
(4) it forth, i.e. the judgment. Representing the judgment as
if it were a leprosy cleaving to the man and to his house."

Systematic robberies by a boy. — The Warrington Guardian

reports a case of juvenile thieving, which has been before the

magistrates of Northwich. Alfred Heywood, a youth fourteen

years old, late in the employ of Mr. Harvey, grocer, was charged

with stealing £250 from his employers. His father and mother

I were also charged with receiving the same, knowing it to have

: been stolen. The younger prisoner had been in Mr. Harvey's

i service for two years and a half, and the prosecutor had re-

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 43 of 64)