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 5) online

. (page 13 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 5) → online text (page 13 of 67)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

peculiar blessing of their God. Having thus traced Xehemiah's
success to its true cause, we proceed to set before you — II.
The great lesson which we are to learn from it. Behold,

B.C. 445.

whifh we cannot
extr '-a'c o sr-
B'lvea unle-JH we
follow t) t h p r
counsels and net
njor" cimiin-
spectlv."— ,S(.o</.

e C. Simfon, M.A.

" When the se-
nate infirined
Augustus of
what Hoino had
said of him,
'Tush,' said he,
• we> are nut at
leisure to hsten
to every slander
that's raised of
us.' A CUi i>tian
should 'e (as is
said of Severus
the emperor)
careful of what
is to be done by
him. but caieiess
of what is said
of liini." — Ven-

'•The worthiest
persons aie fre-
quently attacked
by slander'j, as
we geueraliy r'nd
that to bo the
b.-st fru't wh.oh
the birds have
been pecking
at." — Baion.

d R. I. S.

the wall is

a Ps. xiv. 15,

cxxvi. 2. .3.
6Le. xix. IG; Pr.
XX. 1!>. xxvi. ^o.
c Utt). matters.
" Man nas but
one siate of pro-
I at'on, and ibat
o: an exceed i"g
short ooiit nu-
ance; and, there-
fore, since he
cannot serve
CT'd long, he
should serve
Him much; cm-
ploy evey mi-
nute or his life
10 I hi best ad-
\ ant i;.'i* ; tliiukf^n
bi> devotions;
hallow ever J day



[Cap. vii 1-4.

BC. 4J5.

In his calendar
by religious
cxeicisc-, atid
every acticn in
his life by holy
rcfeituci- Slid
dcsi^nmcnts; for
let li m make
what liaste he
can to he ^^M^e,
Time will outrun
hun.' — J iXorris.
"God's work
may be doue,
well di'ne, and
BiiC e.^sfuily, and
jet diffeient me-
thods taken in
doing it: which
is a good reas"U
why we should
neither arraign
others' manuge-
inent, nor niaUe
our own stan-
dard.' -J/. Ihvry.

A lis' less youth
Bome fishermen,
expressing a
wish lor a basket
of fish. An old
fisherman ad-
vispil him to cast
a line 'or hini-
Belf. He did so,
ivnd soon foui d
his wish grati-

"Idleness travels
very s owly, and
poverty soon
over tales her."
^IJuvt r.

d J. iiewton.

•.C ir. 445.

the g-ates
are set up

a 1 Ch. ix. 17, 27.

6Neh X. 1, 23.

c Ex. xviii. 21.

"One reason
why the hulk of
the Jews (who
were originally
pa toral, aijd
1 -VOIR of Hgri-
Ciilture) n light
rather chuo^e to

then, in what way we are all to engage in the work of the

The power of dilif/ence. — In snmming up the character of a
man like William Carey, due prominence should be given to his
extraordinary diligence. Even the grammars he composed are
too numerous for mentioning separately ; and his Bengali lexicon
fills three bulky quartos. When we add to these his many trans-
lations we have a sum of work such as only few are able to crowd
into the fleeting days of mortal existence. Extremely frugal in
diet, his tastes were refined, and next to philology his predilec-
tions tended towards the attractions of tropical nature, in whose
delightful domains he continually found new allurements. While
labouring so abundantly in teaching and translating, his luxuri-
ant garden surpassed in rich completeness the most famous bota-
nical collections of the empire. To what did he owe his amazing
success ? Being far too sensible a man not to know where lay
his strength, he also knew his weaker points, but like all great
minds, subjected by grace, he was extremely modest, " I can
j)lod," he himself testified ; " to this I owe everything. The
plodder is the man who will rise to respect and eminence, and
should he live sufficiently long to effect his designs, he will make
the world his insolvent debtor." — Diligence and labour. — Cessator
is not chargeable with being buried in the cares and business of
this present life to the neglect of the one thing needful ; but he
greatly neglects the dudes of his station. Had he been sent
into the world only to read, pray, hear sermons, and join in reli-
gious conversation, he might pass for an eminent Christian. But
though it is to be hoped that his abounding in these exercises
springs from a heart-attachment to Divine things, his conduct
evidences that his judgment is weak, and his views of hia
Christian calling are very narrow and defective. He does not
consider, that waiting upon God in the public and private ordi-
nances is designed not to excuse us from the discharge of the
duties of civil life bnt to instruct, strengthen, and qualify us for
their performance. His affairs are in disorder, and his family and
connections are likely to suffer by his indolence. He thanks God
that he is not worldly-minded ; but he is an idle and unfaithful
member of society, and causes the way of truth to be evil spoken
of. Such the Apostle has determined, that " if any man will not
work, neither should he eat."<*


1 — 4. (1) set . . doors, left to the last, see vi. 1. porters,
of the temp.« (2) gave . . Hanani,* i. 2. palace, fortress,
ii. 8. charge, over the gates, etc. feared . . niany,^ a good
qualification for office. One who feared God would be just
j towards man. (3) until . . hot, the day well begun, and light.
while . . by, etc.. Hanani and Hananiah were personally to
superintend the opening and closing of the doors, every . .
house, guarding his house, he wd. also guard the city. Thia
true of spiritual matters also. (4) city . . great, Ilch. broad
in spaces, but . . builded, hence needed the more careful

Closing the gates of Jernsalem. — In the hot countries of the

Cap. vit 5-11.]



East they frequently travel in the night, and arrive at mitlnifrlit
at the place of their destination (Lu. xi. 5 ; Mk. xiii. ;>")). Pro-
bably till !y did not therefore usually shut their <?ates at the going-
down of the sun, if they did so at all through the night. Theve-
not could not, however, obtain admission into Suez in the night,
and was forced to wait some hours in the cold without the walls.
Doubdan. returning from the river Jordan to Jerusalem, in l(!r>2.
tells us that when he and his companions arrived in the valley of
Jehoshaphat, they were much surprised to find that the gates of
the city were shut, which obliged them to lodge on the ground,
at the door of the sepulchre of the Blessed Virgin, to wait for the
return of day. along with more than a thousand other people,
"who were obliged to continue there the rest of the night as well
as they. At length, about four o'clock, seeing everybody making
for the city, they also set forward, with the design of entering
by St. Stephen's gate ; but they found it shut, and above two
thousand people, who were there in waiting, without knowing
the cause of all this. At fii'st they thought it might be too early,
and that it was not customary to open so soon ; but an hour after
a report was spread that the inhabitants had shut their gates
because the peasants of the country about had formed a design
of pillaging the city in the abi<ence of the governor and of his
guards, and that as soon as he should arrive the gates should be

5—11. (5) and . . heart, etc., as he sought God's help, so
also he attributes to Him all he was led to do. and . . register,
wh. is here inserted, them . . first, with Zerubbabel. etc.. ab.
100 yrs. bef.« (6) province, Ezr. ii. 1 — 70. (7) Azariah, or

The decided ?»fl';i.— Behold the decided man ! He may be a
most evil man ; he may be grasping, avaricious, covetous, un-
principled : still, look how the ditliculties of life know the strong
man, and give up the contest with him. A universal homage is
paid to the decided man as soon as he appears among men. He
walks by the light of his own judgment : he has made up his
mind ; and, having done so, henceforth action, action, is before
him. He cannot bear to sit amidst unrealised speculations : to
him speculation is only valuable that it may be resolved into
living and doing. There is no indifference, no delay. The spirit
is in arms : all is in earnest. Thus Pompey, when hazarding his
life on a tempestuous sea in order to be at Rome on an important
occasion, said, " It is necessary for me to go : it is not necessary
for me to live." Thus Caesar, when he cros.sed the Rubicon,
burned the ships upon the shore which brought his soldiers to
land, that there might be no retuni.<^ — Tim nohJencfi.^ of rellg'ion.<t
decision. — If there be a loftiness and nobleness in decision, it is
most lofty, most noble in religion. You need not go f oi" instances j
of this, and for the admiration which they are calculated to j
afford, to such examples as Foster brings before you in his inimi-
table essay, to the examples selected from history, to Marius,
sitting amidst the ruins of Carthage, to Pizarro. to Richard IIT.,
to Cromwell; nor even to those drawn from the records of Scrip-
ture, to Daniel and to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego ; nor to
those supplied by Christian martyrology, to John Huss and '
Jerome of Prague ; nor to those borrowed from the annals of j
philanthropy, to Howard, to Wilberforce, and to lilrs. Fry — these j

B.C. cir. 445.

live in th«
C()!inlry thtin at
.Jtriisulpm, wjis
l)oc+use it was
more ku t'd to
ih'ir ficiiius and
luanncr of life;
tint at this t me
their emMuins
were so enra.i^ed
to see the walla
built aprain, and
so restli'ss in
their designs to
keep the city
from risinj? to
its f irnier splen-
dour, t!iat it ter-
riHed many from
comi'ig to dwell
there, thinkinfj
themselves more
safe in t li e
C'luntry, wliere
their eiie nies
had GO preteoce
to disturb them."

d burder.

the register
of the

a B.C. 5:J(3.

6 Ezr. ii. 2.
•'Some de^'ent
re^'u ated pre-
eminence, some
preference — not
'xclusive aj'pro-
piiation — given
to birth, is nei-
ther unnatural,
nor uiiju-t, nor
i ni p o 1 i t i c."—

'* He who boasts
of his lineage
bois's of that
which does not
properly belong
to him." — t'Seneca.
c E- P. Hood.
"Deeds are
greater than
words. Dee Is
have such a life,
mute, but unde-
as living tre-s
and fruit tre^ s
do; they pe 'ple
the vacuity of
time, and u.ake
it ti reen and
worthy. Why
should the oak
prov« Jogicallj


B.C. dr. 445.

thnt it OLi,£?ht to
grow aiirt will
grow? Plant it,
try i' ; wliat g fts
of dilyeut, judi-
cious assimila-
tion aud secre-
tion it ha-^. of
progress and re-
Bistance of force
to grow, will
then declare
th''msehes." —

" A j,reat man is
aflable ij liis
converse, geue-
r o u s in his
temper, and im-
movable in vvh't
ho has maturely
resolved upon ;
and as prospe-
rity does not
make him
haughty and im-
perious, so nei-
ther does adver-
Bity fcink him
into meanness
and dejection ;
for if ever he
shows more
spirit than O'di-
raiy, it is when
he is ill-used,
and the world
frowns upon
him ; in short,
he is equally re-
moved liom the
extremes of ser-
vility and piide,
ardj^corns eiher
to trann-le upon
a worm, or sue -k
to an eii peror."
— Collier.
d J. A.James, See
belo »v ou vv. 24—


and others

'•It is, indeed, a
blessing when
the virtues of
nolile riices are
hereditarv ; at.d
do derive them-
selves from tlie
imitation of vir-
tuous ances-
tors. ' — Nabb.

"Some men by
an ces try are
only the shadow
of a mighty
name." — Lucan.


LCap. vii. 12—17.

are all grand, impressive, beautiful, but they are not the
only ones that may be cited ; nor, with whatever lurid or
milder radiance they may be surrounded and emblazoned, are
they those which are the most appropriate for you to contemplate,
or which perhaps will have with you the greatest weijfht.
Look at that manly, pious young- man. who has left the shelter
and protecting- wing- of his father's house and home, and is now
placed in a modern establishment, and surrounded by fifty or a
hundred fellow-shopmen, among whom he finds not one to
countenance him in the maintenance of his religious profession,
and the greater part of whom select him on account of his religion
as the object of their pity, their scorn, their hatred, or their
contempt. Among them are infidels, who ply him with flippant
and specious cavils against the Bible ; pleasure-takers who use
every effort to engage him in their Sunday parties and their
Ijolluting amusements ; men of light morality, who assail his in-
tegrity ; a few lovers of science and general knowledge, who
endeavour to allure him from religion to philosophy. How fear-
ful is his situation — and how perilous ! Usually it would be
better to leave it, for how few can hold fast their integrity in
such a situation. But there he — this decided, this inflexible, this
noble-minded youth — stands firm, unyielding, decided. He is
neither ashamed nor afraid of his principles — he neither denies
nor conceals them. Before that laughing crowd he bends his
knees and prays — in presence of that jeering set he opens his
Bible and reads — from that pleasure-taking company he breaks
off. amidst their scoffs, to go to the house of God. He bears the
peltings of their pitiless storm of ridicule or rage, unruffled in
temper, unmoved in principle, and only casts upon his persecutors
a look of gentle pity, or utters a mild word of expostulation, or
silently presents the prayer, " Father, forgive them, for they know
not what they do." He keeps by his firmness the whole pack at
bay. Some are half subdued by his wonderful firmness. A secret
admiration is bestowed upon him by othei-s, while even they who
hate him most, often are astonished most at his inflexible resolu
lion, and it may be that one and another, at length, take hold of
the skirt of his garment and say to him, '• We must go with you,
for we see Grod is with you." Talk of decision of character —
there it is in all its force, beauty, and utility. I know of no case
in God's world in which it is exemplified with more power than
in that.<^

12—17. (15) Binnui, or Bani.

TJie ti'('a<'hery of human nature. — There is not a beast of the
field but may trust his nature, and follow it, certain that it will
lead him to the best of which he is capable. But as for us, our
only invincible enemy is our nature : were it sound, we could
hold circumstances as lightly as Samson's withes ; but it is ever-
more betraying us. Often, when we honestly meant to be good
and noble, our miserable nature, at the first favourable juncture
of circumstances, betrayed us again, and we found oui'selves
falling by our own hands, and bitterly felt that we were our own
enemies. Heal us at the heart, and then let the v/orld come on :
we are ready for the conflict. Make us sound within, and we
will stand in the evil day. We can defy circumstances, and
resist the devil, if only our own breast become not a hold of

uap. vii. io— .i^a.j


traitoi"s ; if inclinations silent, subtle, and st"Oiig as nature, do
not arise to beguile us into captivity to evil."

18—23. (18) Adonikam, etc., Ezra. ii. 3—19.
The happii man. —

He is tlie happy man, whose life e'en now

Shows somewhat of that happier life to come ;

"Who. doomd to an obscure and tranquil state,

Is pleased with it, and, were he free to choose,

Would make his fate his choice ; whom peace, the fruit

Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith,

Prepare for happiness ; bespeak him one

Content indeed to sojourn while he must

Below the skies, but having- there his home.

The world o'erlooks him in her busy search

Of objects more illustrious in her view ;

And. occupied as earnestly as she,

Though more sublimely, he o'erlooks the world.

She scorns his pleasures, for she knows them not ;

He seeks not hers, for he has proved them vain.

He cannot skim the ground like summer birds

Pursuing gilded flies : and such he deems

Her honours, her emoluments, her joys :

Therefore in contemplation is his bliss.

Whose power is such, that whom she lifts from earth

She makes familiar with a world unseen.

And shows him glories yet to be reveal'd.*

24—28. (24) Hariph, etc., Ezr. ii. 20—24.

Man n'Hhout religion. — Man is no better than a leaf driven by
the wind until he has completely mastered his great, lonely
duties. If he has no habit of retiring from all that is worldly,
and of conversing face to face with his inner man, if he
does not alone invite the gaze of God ; if he does not
draw down upon his soul •' the powers of the woHd-to-com©,"
then he is no man yet ; he has not found the life of man. nor
the strength of man ; he is a poor unhappy man, sporting only
with shadows, and affrighted before the real and eternal. He
owns a great house, a wonderful house, but it is shut up, and he
lives outside with his fellow cattle. The inside is wholly un-
known to him, and he has lived outside so long, that he is afraid
of t\\Q ivL&i&ti.'* —Fruits of relifjkni.s d/'ci-sio/i. — More than half a
century ago. a boy was put apprentice to one of our ordinary
trades. There was nothing very remarkable about him, with
perhaps one exception — he promised to be a pious lad. But alas I
in his case as in many others, his early goodness soon passed away.
He had to sleep with an ungodly apprentioe ; and. on retiring to
rest, shame of being seen to pray so shook his firmness that, like
his wicked companion, he hurried to bed without bending the
knee. Again and again this was done. His regard for old lessons
got less and less ; by-and-by he threw them off altogether, and
seemed like a boy who had never known anything better. In
course of time, however, another apprentice came to his master.
He also slept in the same room. Like a lad accustomed to pray,
the new apprentice quietly knelt to offer prayer to God on retiring
to rest. This was seen with deep emotion by the other. Con-
Bcience at once and severely condemned his want of firmness.

B.C. rir. 445.
a W. Art'iur.

and others

" He that boa'ta
of his ancestors
C(>nfesses that he
ha-^ no virtue of
his own. No
person ever
lived for our
honour; nor
ouglit that to
be reputed ours,
which was long
before we had a
bein»; for what
advantage can it
be to know that
his parentB has
good eyes? Does
he see one whit
the better?"—

"Men may livo
foo s, but fools
they cannot die."
— Young.

a Cowper.

and others

" It is of no con-
sequence of what
parents any man
is born, so that
he be a man of
merit." — Horace,

a J. Pulsford,

"Good deeds lie
in the memory
of age like the
coral islands,
green aud sunny,
amidst the me-
lancholy vva-^ta
of ocean." — Dr.

Good deeds, like
sunbeams, shine
by a lustre pure-
ly their own; nor
can their bright-
ness be tarnished
by all the ca-
lumnies of the
B 1 a n d e r e r'a

" He that does
good to another
man does also
good to himself,
nut ouly in tba



[Cap. vli. 29-42.

B.O. dr. 445.

bat in the very
act of doing it;
for the consci-
ence of well-
doing is an
ample reward."
— Seneca.

" True fortitude
is seen in great
exploits, that jus-
tice warrants and
that wisdom
guide B^—Addi-

men of
and others

" Pride in boast-
ing of family
aptiquily ninkes
dui ation stand
for merit." —

" To bear is to
conquer our
fate." — Campbell.

«t N. Adams.

the other
and others

" Ph ilo 8 ophy
does not regard
pedigree : she
d'd not I'cc^ive
Plato as a noble,
hut she made
him so." — Sneca.

" An inconstant
man is despio-
abie ; a faithless
ni'in is base." —

a Y«wig.

the priests

a lOh. xxiv.7— 9,

*'Of nil vnnities
of ro]")pevii\<. the
va-iity ot bi;,'h
!>■ th is the
K '■! est. True
I.'.', I cy ia de-
ll d fr..aa "vir-
iu ■. not from
H 'ti. Ti'k-s in-

Shame to pray in the pi'esence of his fellow-apprentice was the
first step in his downward course. The poor unhappy and fallen
youth was once more brought to reflection, and, with a firmer pur-
pose than ever, he consecrated himself to the service of God. In after
life he became a useful and honoured minister ; and a month or two
ago, after turning very many to righteousness, he j^assed away to
glory. This minister was the beloved and re s^erend John Angell
James of Birmingham 1 How much harm may we get from one
act of indecision ! and how much good may be done by one act
of decision ! Who can tell what may result from the turning of
an apprentice boy to goodness ? Who cannot be useful ? This
example of juvenile decision was the means of turaing a poor
apostate youth to a course whose glorious issues eternity alone
can reveal.

29—33. (29) Kirjath-jearim, etc., Ezr. 11. 25—29.

TJw greatness of oaan. — But how is man " little 1 " He has
competent knowledge of the character of God ; he is only " a
little lower than the angels," and has dominion over all the
works of God. He can comprehend the starry heavens ; he if^^
Godlike in his original nature ; for '' in the image of God mad^
He him." The sublime truths which God has revealed to mai
show what estimate God has of man's capacity and responsibility.
A finite creature can insult the majesty of heaven as deliberately
and intelligently as the archangel ; he can annihilate the au-
thority of God in his own soul, and wherever he has influence ;
if all finite creatures should do this — and there are no creatures
who are not finite — there would be no moral universe, no Divine

34—38. (84) Elam, etc., Ezr. 11. 30—35.
Man a complex he'ing. —

How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,

How complicate, how wonderful is man !

How passing wonder He, who made him such !

Wlio centred in our make such strange extremes 1

From different natures marvellously mix'd,

Connection exquisite of distant worlds !

Distinguished link in being's endless chain I

Midway from nothing to the Deity !

A beam ethereal, sullied and absorpt !

Though sullied and dishonour"d, still Divine t

Dim miniature of greatness absolute !

An heir of glory ! a frail child of dust 1

Helpless immortal I insect infinite !

A worm 1 — a God 1 "

39—42. (39) priests, etc'^^ix. 11. 36-39.
Man not dependent on good fortune. —

He's not the happy man to whom is given

A plenteous f oi'tune by indulgent heaven ;

Whose gilded roofs on shining columns rise,

And painted walls enchant the gazer's eyes ;

Whose table flows with hospitable cheer,

And all the various bounty of the year ;

^\'hose valleys smile, whose gardens breathe the spring',

Whose caa'ved mountains bleat and forests sing j

Cap. vil. 43-51.]



For whom the cooling shade in summer twines,
WTiile his full cellars u,\ve their generous wines ;
From whose wide fields unbounded autumn pours
A g-olden tide into his swelling" stores :
Whose winter laughs ; for whom the liberal gales
Stretch the big sheet, and toiling commerce sails ;
"WTien yielding crowds attend, and pleasure serves ;
While youth, and health, and vigour string his nerves.b

43—45. (43) Levites, Ezr. ii. 40. (44) singers, Ezr. ii. 41.
(45) porters, Ezr. ii. 42.

Ml.\;sionari('.<t and — The Rev, Jonathan Lees, of the London
Mission, Tientsin, North China, has sent Mr, Sankey two little
Chinese books, one containing the words of twenty of the well-
known Sonffs and Solos, which he has translated into Chinese,
and the other giving the music of ten of them printed in the
Chinese version of the Tonic Sol-fa notation, Mr, Lees says the
songs have already proved their fitness to deepen and cheer the
Christian life in a most pleasing way. He says the musical
faculty is one which seems well-nigh extinct in China, but the
northern people are far ahead of the southern in this capacity,
and the Tientsin church bids fair to be a musical one. Mr.
Lees adds that this is not the first attempt to introduce the Tonic
Sol-fa. but it is in a new form, and one which is thoroughly
Chinese, The Rev, J. S. Barradale, another of the missionaries,
writing to a friend in England, explains why the ordinary staff
notation can never be used by the Chinese. Their letters are
ranged in perpendicular^ columns, and they read from the right-
hand side of the page to the left. The Tonic Sol-fa letters can
be placed in this way with ease, but not so with the staff, which
is necessarily horizontal. Mr. Barradale says that '"the Sol-fa
notation can be made to retain all its easiness in its Chinese
dress, while thoroughly conforming to Chinese usage." — Sinning
in the time of trouble. — It is said that on the memorable night

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 5) → online text (page 13 of 67)