The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!
The "impossible" is not impossible, the incredible may come to he true, that which revolts the sense and shocks the feeling may become a commonplace of fife. Let us illustrate this.
1. All the neighbourhood, all the friends and acquaintances, would not have believed that the great rich man to whom scores were mean and hundreds trifles could have come to beg his bread. But it is possible. Riches take to themselves wings and flee away. Take heed! It is right to be rich, very rich, but it is wrong for the riches to be master of the man; hold them, so that coming or going they never interfere with prayer, with faith, with charity, with noble, generous love; they are servants, helpers, great assistants in the philanthropic cause: hold them so, and you never can be poor. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Pause and consider, and put things wisely and solidly together, and say, These things are but for a moment; for a moment's use they are invaluable, but as securities, towers, defences, rather let me entangle myself in some elaborate cobweb, and trust to that against God's lightning and thunder.
2. Who would believe that the great strong man, whose every bone is, as it were, wrought iron, should one day be glad of the help of a little child? How humbling! how instructive! You may accost him, and ask him if he remembers the time when he could have lifted a man in each hand and felt he was not doing anything in particular as an exercise of strength; and with a hollow laugh he will say, Ay, I remember! How now? the sinews melted, the bones no longer iron, the great frame bent down, the sunken eyes peering for a grave. What did this? Ill-conduct? No. Wastefulness of strength and energy? No. What did it? Silent, insidious, mighty Time.
3. who could believe that a man of great capacity and great judgment in all earthly things should come to be unable to give a rational opinion upon the affairs of the day? Impossible, say you. How godlike in reason! How all but infinite in faculty! He will be to the last bright as a star. What if he stumble at noonday? what if he forget his own name? What if he cannot tell where his own house is? and what if they who trusted him aforetime so implicitly should say, Poor soul! he is gone; it is no use looking in that quarter for wisdom or direction; his genius is dead; alas! but so it is? It that be so, why should we not learn from that fact, and work while it is called day, for the night cometh wherein no man can work? Redeem the time, buy up the opportunity, knowing that our brightest genius shall be eclipsed, our strongest sagacity shall lose its penetration, and our judgment shall halt for the judgment of others.
4. Who of us cannot name men who, if they were to fail in moral completeness, in probity, in honour, in truthfulness, would shake Society to its base? What! every word a hollow word, every action a selfish calculation, every attitude part of a fraud and conspiracy, every generous deed a new bid for self-promotion, — signatures forsworn, bends broken, by such men? Never! It is impossible, incredible; the suggestion is born of the pit. We are right in so saying. Have no faith in men who cannot he fired into godly anger when they hear great reputations assailed and when they see great characters slurred and defamed. At the same time let us learn from history. Great men have fallen from high moral excellence. He — the unnamed — "the starry leader of the seven" — fell from heaven. Some angels "kept not their first estate." With these wrecks before us, what is our course of wisdom? Lot us trust under the wings of the Almighty, let us live within the shadow of His presence, let us be hidden in His pavilion; then, come weal, come woe, our end will be heaven: — say ye to the righteous, It shall be well with him, however black the immediate cloud, however storm-laden the immediate outlook.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!