I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.
: — Vedius Pollio was a wealthy and luxurious Roman patrician. In his magnificent villa at Puteoli there reclined one day at the epicure's sumptuous table, with many other distinguished guests, the Emperor Augustus. A slave, waiting upon the company, let fall a costly crystal vase, shattering it in fragments upon the mosaic pavement. Instantly the unfortunate wretch fell at the imperial feet, piteously pleading for his life. "Why?" exclaimed the master of the world; "what danger to thy life?" The trembling supplicant replied that he expected, according to his lord's custom in such cases, to be east into his fish-pond as food for his lampreys. A cloud of wrath darkened the monarch's brow; and, fixing his keen eye sternly upon his host, Augustus arose, seized a staff, and dashed to pieces all the crystal ware before him, in a terrific tone exclaiming — "Know thou, O miscreant and murderer! that one human life is worth more than all the crystal vases in the world!" This must have happened while One was walking the hills and vales of Palestine, who, had He been present, might have told the haughty Roman of something far more valuable even than human life. He teaches us that the soul is worth more than the earth and all its material contents, and that there is nothing in all the Creator's visible works to be named as its approximate equivalent in value. In creation the body was first constructed, and then tenanted by the "living." The soul is the life of the body, and the body is the servant of the soul. The soul uses the body as its vehicle of thought and feeling, its means of communication with the outer world; while the body ministers to the soul with all its members and organs, bringing it intelligence from all quarters, and enlarging and multiplying its joys. This, then, is the primary excellence of the soul — its spirituality; to which we must add its splendid intellectual faculties, which render it so far superior to all mere animal existences, and capable of indefinite progress and improvement. Its powers of reasoning, comparing, combining, abstracting, analyzing, classifying, imagining the unseen, forecasting the future, recalling the past with all the vividness of present reality, creating for itself ideal scenes amidst which it moves as in a fairy realm — these are strictly human faculties in which it is approximated by no other order of creatures within the range of our observation. And to the growth of these faculties we can assign no limits, and none to the knowledge which the soul may acquire by their exercise. 'But far loftier than its intellectual are its moral capabilities and capacities. It has a living conscience, and is responsible to a divine law. There are voices within which proclaim its immortality. There are hopes and longings which reach into other worlds. There are instincts which earth cannot satisfy, and faculties which time cannot mature. Will Jehovah cut short the career of a creature capable of eternal progress? Does He delight in such abortive creations? Man is at present but in embryo, at best but in chrysalis, and death is only a change in the mode and the circumstances of his being. For this glorious truth we are indebted to the Holy Book. All Divine revelation proceeds upon the principle of man's admitted immortality. What wonder that God cares for it, Christ dies for it, angels watch over it, and demons strive to control its destin! And how ought you and I to estimate its value, tremble for its danger, labour for its rescue, and rejoice in its salvation! And what a fearful accusation against us is the voice of a world's sins and sorrows continually crying in the car of God — "No man careth for my soul"! May no accusing voice in judgment, no wail from the ranks of the reprobate and the ruined ever reach our ears — "No man cared for my soul!"
(J. Cross, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.