Genesis 11:4
"Come," they said, "let us build for ourselves a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens, that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
Sermons
AmbitionJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 11:4
BabelDavid J. Vaughan, M. A.Genesis 11:4
Babel BricksW. Adamson.Genesis 11:4
Bad Advice Soon TakenBishop Babington.Genesis 11:4
End of Worldly AmbitionG. S. Bowes.Genesis 11:4
God's City or Man's CityJ.F. Montgomery Genesis 11:4
Human GreatnessHomilistGenesis 11:4
Human LabourHomilistGenesis 11:4
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 11:4
Making a NameJ. Trapp.Genesis 11:4
Right BuildingJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 11:4
The Builders of BabelT. H. Leale.Genesis 11:4
The Materials Used to Build ItM. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.Genesis 11:4
The Tower of BabelDean Goulburn.Genesis 11:4
The Tower of BabelThe Pulpit AnalystGenesis 11:4
The Tower of BabelHomilistGenesis 11:4
The Tower of BabelThings Not Generally Known.Genesis 11:4
The Tower of BabelW. Roberts Genesis 11:4
Universal MonarchyA. Fuller.Genesis 11:4
Vainglory FoolishGenesis 11:4
Order Brought ForthR.A. Redford Genesis 11:1-9

I. A MONUMENT OF MAN'S -

1. Sinful ambition.
2. Laborious ingenuity.
3. Demonstrated feebleness.
4. Stupendous folly.

II. A MEMORIAL OF GOD'S -

1. Overruling providence.
2. Resistless power.
3. Retributive justice.
4. Beneficent purpose. - W.







Go to, let us build us a city and a tower.
I. Three motives may have led to the building of the tower of Babel.

1. A feeling that in union and communion lay the secret of man's renown and strength; that to disperse the family was to debilitate it.

2. A remembrance of the deluge, and a guilty dread of some similar judgment, leading them to draw close to each other for support.

3. Man was awaking to self-consciousness and a knowledge of his own resources. He was gaining a glimpse into the possible progress of civilization. The tower was to be a focus where the rays of his power would be concentrated.

II. To all philanthropists this narrative preaches this simple and sublime truth — that genuine unity is not to be effectually compassed in any other manner than by striking at the original root of discord. Every scheme for the promotion of brotherhood which deals only with the external symptoms of disunion, and aims at correcting only what appears on the surface of society, is ultimately sure of frustration.

III. In His own good time and manner God realized the presumptuous design of the Babel builders, and united in one central institution the scattered families of man. In the mediation of His Son He has reared up a Tower whose top reaches to heaven. It was in order to gather the nations into this world-embracing community that the apostles of Christ went forth charged with a message of peace and love. When the Spirit descended at Pentecost the physical impediment obstructing union — that difference of language which the sin of Babel had introduced — was removed. The apostles spake with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

(Dean Goulburn.)

The Pulpit Analyst.
The events connected with the building of the tower of Babel forcibly illustrate the power and the weakness of man. There is great power of scheming, great power of working, ending in an ignominious failure. So it is in all the ways of life; there is a way of spending force for naught, and there is a way of turning every effort to good account; there is a scheming that is nothing but inflation, and there is a purposing which gives shape and strength to one's daily life. The courses of Providence, as revealed in the history of the world, enable us now to judge programmes by anticipation; before we begin to build we can now tell how we shall finish, or whether we shall finish at all. Poor self-deceiving heart! How many bricks has it made, and burnt thoroughly, and yet how few towers it has ever finished! The people constitute themselves into a community of builders, and they propose to themselves a city and a tower. In this plan there are three things which men generally account laudable —

1. There is self-reliance. The loudest cry of today is, Help yourselves! It is thought that the man who trusts his own arm trusts a good servant. So far, therefore, there is nothing amiss in these builders.

2. There is a desire for self-preservation — "lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." Self-preservation is held to be the first law of nature. If a man will not take care of himself, who will take care of him? Still, therefore, the builders have not trespassed.

3. There is ambition — a city, and a tower, and a name! No man can make much headway in life who is not ambitious. The finalist grows weaker every day; the progressionist strengthens with every encounter. The whole work was within man's own sphere. They wanted more than a city and a tower; they wanted a name, "let us make us a name." That has been the ruin of many a man: anything for a name — any price for renown! This is not the ambition which is commended; this stands to a true ambition as presumption to faith. One thing is clear, viz., that God is observant of human plans. He knows our purpose, He overhears our secret communings. He allows men to build for awhile, and in the time of their rejoicing over the work of their hands He throws the city and tower to the dust. The error of these people was not in having a plan, but in having a plan without God.(1) Carefully examine the quality and meaning of every new plan of life. Many a man has been ruined by ideas which he deemed necessary to the success of his fortune;

(a)Appearances;

(b)Miscalculations;

(c)Oversights; have contributed their share to his disasters.(2) Beware of the sophism that heaven helps them that help themselves. The doctrine is true only in so far as men may by helping themselves in accordance with the will of heaven.(3) Regulate ambition by the Divine will.(4) If we make great plans let us make them in God's name and carry them out in God's strength. See the folly of planning without God.

(a) God has all forces at command.

(b) God has set a limit to every man's life.

(c) God has pronounced Himself against those who dishonour His name. All these considerations have also a reflex bearing on those who plan in a right spirit.(5) Let us learn what is meant by all the unfinished towers that we see around us. "This man began to build," etc. Job said, "My purposes are broken off." Look at disappointed men, etc.; ruined men, etc.(6) Cooperation with God will alone secure the entire realization of our plans. Application:

(a)We all have plans.

(b)Examine them.

(c)Remember the only foundation, on which alone men can build with safety.

(The Pulpit Analyst.)

It is a melancholy fact that the evil of our nature tends continually to increase, and assume a sad variety of forms. As men abide under the power of evil they wax worse and worse. We have an instance of this downward tendency in the builders of Babel. Since the flood the course of sin may be thus traced;

1. In the form of sensual indulgence. The type was drunkenness, of which Noah has given a sad example.

2. Disregard of parental authority. Ham.

3. In the form of ambition. Builders of Babel.

I. LOVE OF GLORY. They would indulge the passion for fame at all costs.

1. The boldest schemes of ambition are generally the work of a few.

2. Such ambition involves the slavery of the many.

II. FALSE IDEAS OF THE UNITY OF THE RACE.

1. They thought that it was external "City." "Tower."

2. They held that the individual must be sacrificed to the outward grandeur of the State. This is the genius of all Babel-building, to make the city supreme, and to sink the individual. All must be sacrificed to one idea: the nation — State — Constitution. It is not within the province of worldly ambition to recognize the sublime importance of the individual soul. Hence the conflict between the policies of statecraft and the interests of true religion. This exaltation of the State above the individual has —

(1)A political form;

(2)an ecclesiastical form.

III. PRESUMING TO PLACE THEMSELVES ABOVE PROVIDENCE.

1. God interferes in all matters which threaten His government.

2. God often interferes effectually by unexpected means. These foolish builders imagined that they were safe in the unity of their speech, yet it was here that they were vanquished.

IV. A PREMATURE ATTEMPT TO REALIZE THAT BETTER TIME COMING FOR HUMANITY.

(T. H. Leale.)

These emigrants to Shinar were evidently dissatisfied with a patriarchal life, and desirous of founding a great monarchy.

I. AMBITION, or the perversion of the divinely-implanted principle, "Excelsior."

I.

1. Cautions us to beware of our own hearts; and —

2. Counsels us to be careful of the Divine will.

II. ASSUMPTION, or the presupposition of man's independence of God. It —

1. Cautions us to remember our entire dependence; and —

2. Counsels us to regard the Divine preeminence as essential to our happiness.

III. ASSOCIATION, or the persuasion that human unity means human perpetuity. It —

1. Cautions us against forgetting that God must come into any scheme after unity; and —

2. Counsels us about fulfilling the Divine ideal of unity in Him.Lessons:

1. Moral towers of Babel (great or small) should be erected in God's name, and carried through in God's strength.

2. Moral towers of Babel (great or small), if not so attempted and accomplished, tend to dishonour God's name, and to disown God's strength.

3. Moral towers of Babel (great or small), thus dishonouring Him, are sure, sooner or later, to be overthrown by God, who has all forces at His command; and —

4. Moral towers of Babel (great or small) conceived in God's name, constructed by God's strength, and contributing to God's glory, are certain of the Divine permission and permanence.

(W. Adamson.)

Homilist.
I. HUMAN LABOUR ALWAYS DEVELOPS THE NATURE OF MAN.

1. The constructive element.

2. The ambitious element.

3. The social element.

4. The cooperative element.

II. HUMAN LABOUR GENERALLY ILLUSTRATES THE PATIENCE OF HEAVEN.

1. Their enterprise from the beginning was rebellion against heaven.

2. They were allowed to go on almost to its final accomplishment.

III. HUMAN LABOUR MUST ULTIMATELY MEET WITH THE JUST TREATMENT OF GOD.

1. He discloses its purpose.

2. He arrests its progress.

3. He frustrates its design.

(Homilist.)

Homilist.
I. THAT SELF-RENOWN IS AN OBJECT TOO LOW FOR MAN TO AIM AT.

1. Because he has duties to perform towards others.

2. Because man's highest and best powers cannot be properly developed by having this as the only object in view.

(1)The sense of right cannot be quickened.

(2)Self is a sphere too limited for a man's sympathy to be fully manifested.

(3)Self is an object too cold and limited to strengthen and intensify man's love.

3. Because there is no true happiness in the pursuit, nor actual attainment of the object.

II. THAT UNION PRODUCES STRENGTH.

1. It concentrates the powers of many towards one object.

2. It is recognized in heaven.

(1)For evil (Psalm 2:1-5).

(2)For good (Mark 18:20).

3. The more Divine the union, the greater will be its reality and strength.

III. THAT HUMAN EFFORTS ARE FRUITLESS WHEN NOT IN HARMONY WITH THE DIVINE INTENTIONS.

1. A higher intelligence is opposed to them.

2. A greater power.

3. A purer love. They deserved to be destroyed, but were only scattered.

4. This failure was —

(1)Humiliating.

(2)From an unexpected source.

(3)Complete. Conclusion:

1. In every undertaking, let us endeavour to know if it be according to God's will.

2. Let us have God's glory as the sole object of life.

(Homilist.)

But why, it may be asked, should it be the will of God to prevent a universal monarchy, and to divide the inhabitants of the world into a number of independent nations? This question opens a wide field for investigation. Suffice it to say at present, such a state of things contains much mercy, both to the world and to the Church. With respect to the world, if the whole earth had continued under one government, that government would, of course, considering what human nature is, have been exceedingly despotic and oppressive. The division of the world into independent nations has also been a great check on persecution, and so has operated in a way of mercy towards the Church. If the whole world had been under one government, and that government inimical to the gospel, there had been no place of refuge left upon the earth for the faithful. From the whole we may infer two things —

1. The harmony of Divine revelation with all that we know of fact. If all that man can be proved to have done towards the formation of any language be confined to changing, combining, improving, and reducing it to a grammatical form, there is the greatest probability, independent of the authority of revelation, that languages themselves were originally the work of God, as was that of the first man and woman.

2. The desirableness of the universal spread of Christ's kingdom. We may see in the reasons which render a universal government among men incompatible with the liberty and safety of the world abundant cause to pray for this, and for the union of all His subjects under Him. Here there is no danger of tyranny or oppression, nor any need of those low motives of rival. ship to induce him to seek the well-being of his subjects. A union with Christ and one another embraces the best interests of mankind.

(A. Fuller.)

1. Sinful apostates are active in drawing each other to sin.

2. Wickedness is studious for means to effect its ends.

3. No difficulties usually hinder sin from its undertakings.

4. It is but brick and slime wherewith wickedness builds (ver. 3).

5. Wicked ones are much encouraging one another to evil.

6. Cities and towers, ornament and strength, are sinners' trophies.

7. Sin's structure would be as high and stately as heaven.

8. Sinners are ambitious of a name on earth.

9. Dispersion is the evil which sinners fear.

10. Sinners resolve to provide their own security against God's judgments by the works of their own hands (ver. 4).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

There are times in life when lucky ideas strike men; when there is a kind of intellectual springtide in their nature; when men rise and say, "I have got it! Go to, this is it!" And in the bright hours when such ideas strike one the temptation is to be a little contemptuous in reference to dull men who are never visited by conceptions so bright and original as we deem them. A man has been in great perplexity, month after month, and suddenly he says, "Go to, the solution is now before me; I see my way right out of this dark place"; and he heightens his tone as the joy swells in his heart. That is right. We could not do without intellectual birthdays; we could not always be carrying about a dead, leaden brain, that never sees light or shouts victory. We like these moments of inspiration to break in upon the dull monotony of such a lifetime as ours. So it is perfectly right that men should express their new conceptions — their new programme — and lay out a bold policy in a clear and confident tone. But are all our ideas so very bright? When we see our way to brick making, is it always in the right direction? When we set our mind upon founding a city and building a tower the top of which shall rest against the stars, is it right? You see that question of "right" comes in again and again, and in proportion as a man wishes to live a true Divine life he will always say, before going to his brick making and his city founding and his tower building, "Now, is this right?" Many of us could have built great towers, only we knew we should be building downwards if we set our hands to such work as has often tempted us. Do not let us look coldly upon apparently unsuccessful men, and say, "Look at us; we have built a great city and tower, and you, where are you? — stretching in the dust and grovelling in nothing." They could have built quite as large a tower as ours; they could have been quite as far up in the clouds as we are, only we had perhaps less conscience than they had. When we saw a way to burning bricks, we burned them; and a way to establishing towers, we founded them; and they, poor creatures, unsuccessful men, began to pray about it, and to wonder if it was right, and to ask casuistical questions, and to rack themselves upon conscience; and so they have done no building! And yet they may have built. Who can tell? All buildings are not made of brick; all men do not require to lay out brick fields, and burn clay, in order to build. It may be found one day, when the final inspection takes place, that the man who has built nothing visible has really built a palace for the residence of God. It may be found, too, that some successful people have nothing but bricks — nothing but bricks, bricks, bricks! Then it will be seen who the true builders were. What I pause here to say is this: We may have bright ideas, we may have (to us) new conceptions; there are, to our thinking, original ways of doing things; now and again cunning plans of overcoming difficulties strike us. Do I condemn this intellectual activity? No; I simply say, Let your intellect and your conscience go together; do not be one-sided men; do not be living altogether out of the head, be living out of your moral nature as well; and if it be right, then build the tower with all industry and determination. Let it be strong and lofty, and God shall come down upon your work and glorify it, and claim it as His own.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Bold men — men of vigorous mind, striking out something that is very definite, and about which there could be no mistake. We, too, are doing just what they did; we are following the god Ambition — the restless god Ambition, who never sleeps, never pauses, never gives his devotees vacation, but is always stirring them up to more and more furious desires. Do I condemn ambition? Nothing of the kind. I praise ambition; I say to every young man who may today accept me as his teacher, Be ambitious; build loftily; let your aspirations be confined only by the limits which God Himself has set to human power and human capability; but — but — that old question comes in again, Is it right? Is it right? Our ambitions may be our temptations; our ambitions may be stumbling blocks over which we fall into outer darkness; our ambitions may be the cups out of which we drink some deadly intoxicant, poisoning the mind and destroying the heart's life. Therefore I pause again to ask, Is it right? Then, too, we pronounce some men ambitious who are really not ambitious. All men do not understand the word ambition. Ambition has been vulgarized, taken out altogether from its refined and beautiful associations, and debased into something that is intensely of the earth, earthy. I call men to intellectual ambition; to spiritual ambition; to the ambition which says, "I count not myself to have attained; this one thing I do, I press." Alas! there are ten thousand men in our city streets today who are "pressing"; but the question is, Towards what do they press? The apostle says, "I press towards the mark for the prize of my high calling of God in Christ Jesus." That is better than saying, "Let us build a tower whose top shall reach even unto heaven"; and yet it is true tower building — it is palace building.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

It must needs be that one man gave his counsel first, saying to the rest, "Come, let us build," etc. But when once it was broached not one man allowed it, but even all full quickly yielded to it. Whereby we see, first, the vileness of man, not only to devise that which is naught, but to set it full greedily abroad when it is devised, and to labour to persuade others to embrace and follow the same. Again, to consent to that which is wickedly devised of others, and to make a particular conceit a general judgment, action, and work at last. Great cause, therefore, that men's lewd devices should be restrained from being published, since both the deviser's wish and man's great corruption is so prone to yield a wicked consent and following of the same. Caiaphas's counsel, when it once sounded of Christ's death, was quickly hearkened unto, and from that day forward consultation had together how they might accomplish the same. Whosoever broached it first that the people should ask Barabbas and refuse Jesus, it was soon received, liked, and followed of such ignorant spirits and giddy heads. That a sort should combine together and kill the apostle had a beginner, and how quickly pleased the plot such other bloody minds and spiteful hearts! How soon embraced Lot's younger daughter the counsel of the elder to do so vile a thing! That unbrotherly conspiracy against Joseph was soon yielded unto when once it was uttered. Do you remember the murmuring against Moses and Aaron, in the Book of Numbers? How began it? Had it not a captain, then a second, then a third, then a number? Once broached that Moses and Aaron took too much upon them; that others were equal with them, and therefore should be in like authority; that the people were wronged, and so forth — soon was it liked, soon was it caught, soon was it prosecuted of proud minds, that would be aloft, and knew not to obey. Conclude we, then, upon all those that sin, some be wicked to broach a wickedness, and thousands weak to follow the same when once they hear it; yea, though it be to build a tower against God. It never was, nor ever shall be, either godly policy or Christian duty to suffer men's brains to broach what they list, and others to follow unquiet devices, hateful to God and hurtful to His Church in a high degree.

(Bishop Babington.)

In Babylonia there are at present the remains of three stupendous ruins, each of which have been claimed by different travellers as occupying the site of the tower of Babel. One of these especially has much to support its claim. The temple of Belus was in all probability erected on the site of the tower of Babel, so the arguments which settle the position of one of these erections serve to fix the other. Rawlinson says of these particular ruins: — "It is an oblong mass, composed chiefly of unbaked bricks, rising from the plain to the height of one hundred and ten feet, and having at the top a broad flat space with heaps of rubbish. The faces of the mound are about two hundred yards in length, and thus agree with Herodotus' estimate. Tunnels driven through the structure show that it was formerly covered with a wall of baked brick masonry: many such bricks are found loose, and bear the name of Nebuchadnezzar." The difficulty of identifying the site of the scriptural Babylon arises chiefly from the fact that the materials of which it was built have at various times been removed for the construction of the great cities which have successively replaced it. Nebuchadnezzar either repaired Babylon, as many suppose, or built it anew upon a neighbouring site with the remains of the more ancient Babel. The kind of building which was erected, and known as the tower of Babel, may be best understood by the description of the great temple of Nebo at Borsippa, known to moderns as the Birs-Nimrud. It was a sort of oblique pyramid, built in seven receding stages. "Upon a platform of crude brick, raised a few feet above the level of the alluvial plain, was built of burnt brick the first or basement stage — an exact square, two hundred and seventy-two feet each way, and twenty-six feet in perpendicular height. Upon this stage was erected a second, two hundred and thirty feet each way, and likewise twenty-six feet high; which, however, was not placed exactly in the middle of the first, but considerably nearer to the southwestern end, which constituted the back of the building. The other stages are arranged similarly — the third being one hundred and eighty-eight feet, and again twenty-six feet high; the fourth one hundred and forty-six feet square and fifteen feet high; the fifth one hundred and four feet square, and the same height as the fourth; the sixth sixty-two feet square, and again the same height; and the seventh twenty feet square, and once more the same height. On the seventh stage there was probably placed the ark or tabernacle, which seems to have been again fifteen feet high, and must have nearly, if not entirely, covered the top of the seventh story. The entire original height, allowing three feet for the platform, would thus have been one hundred and fifty-six feet, or without the platform, one hundred and fifty-three feet. The whole formed a sort of oblique pyramid, the gentler slope facing the N.E., and the steeper inclining to the S.W. On the N.E. side was the grand entrance, and here stood the vestibule, a separate building, the debris from which having joined those from the temple itself, fill up the intermediate space, and very remarkably prolong the round in this direction."

(Things Not Generally Known.)

The materials generally used for the construction of Babylonian buildings are here most faithfully described (ver. 3). As in Egypt, the edifices of Mesopotamia consisted of sun-dried, but often also burnt bricks, baked of the purest clay, and sometimes mixed with chopped straw, which materially enhances their compactness and hardness; these bricks were generally covered with inscriptions, promising to prove of the greatest historical value. But instead of mortar, the Babylonians used as a cement that celebrated asphalt or bitumen, which is nowhere found in such excellence and abundance as in the neighbourhood of Babylon. One of the most gifted of the modern explorers declared the ruins of Birs-Nimroud a specimen of the perfection of Babylonian masonry, and remarked, "that the cement by which the bricks were united is of so tenacious a quality, that it is almost impossible to detach one from the mass entire" (Layard, "Nineveh and Babylon," p. 499). Nothing but the violence of a fearful conflagration, the ravages of which are manifest in the ruins of Birs-Nimroud, would have been able to annihilate a building which appeared to be beyond the destructive power of time.

(M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)

This, we may depend upon it, was no republic of builders; no cooperative association of bricklayers and bricklayers' labourers, bent on immortalizing themselves by the work of their own hands. This early effort at centralization, with a huge metropolis as its focus, sprang, we may be quite sure, from the brain of some one ambitious potentate, and was baptized, from the very first, in the blood and sweat and misery of toiling millions. That "Go to, let us make brick, let us build us a city, let us make us a name," is not the language of voluntary association; but is the stately style, which emperors affect. By this time we know only too well what it means — the cynical indifference to human suffering, the wastefulness of human life, the utter selfishness, the cruelty, the hardness of heart, masked under gilded forms. The characteristic of all world empires — that which makes them world empires — is that they lean upon might, and not upon right. Just in so far as they do this, they are world empires. And, doing this, they are a defiance to the eternal righteousness of God. And, being this, they are doomed to decay. In such world empires there is no true cohesion. The force which unites is purely external. The moment its pressure relaxes, the thing breaks up. In other words, man, seeking to make himself as God, can offer no rest, no centre of unity, no position of stable equilibrium, to his fellow men. He may be armed with irresistible might. He may be statesman and general, as well as king or emperor. By his very success he sows the seeds of decay. Collapse and disintegration overtake his work, even in the very hour of its seeming triumph. I remember visiting the tomb of the First Napoleon in Paris on one of the last days of the June of 1870. You know it, or you have heard about it. It struck me irresistibly, with all its accompaniments, as the symbol of just such a world empire, as I have been speaking about tonight. Within three months from that day, that empire — like its predecessor — had collapsed in blood and disaster. Not he, who, being man, would make himself as God; but He, who being God, makes Himself man; is the true centre of rest and union for a suffering and divided humanity.

(David J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Let us make us a name.

Homilist.
1. A "name" is an important thing for a man.

2. All men make some kind of "name" for themselves.

3. Striving to "make a name" as the chief end of life is a grand mistake. This is what the men in "the land of Shinar" were now doing. Men have a natural desire for distinction; but what is the legitimate object? Is it to appear great, or to be great? Reputation is one thing, character another. The words of Christ, in Matthew 23:12, will enable us to discover the right and wrong direction of this ambition.

I. A GREATNESS THAT COMES TO HUMILIATION. "He that exalteth him. self shall be abased."

1. In the moral reflections of his own soul. Conscience can never be satisfied by achievements the most brilliant, or possessions the most splendid, where selfishness has been the spring of their attainment.

2. In the estimation of all Christly men. These men see no greatness where there is not goodness.

3. In the retributions of Providence. There is a moral government over us all, there is a Nemesis that tracks the steps of men.

II. A GREATNESS THAT COMES FROM HUMILIATION. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted."

1. In their own spirits. They master their passions, rise superior to mere personal considerations, rule their own souls, and are greater than they who take a city.

2. In the moral judgment of society. Just as a man makes himself of no reputation and works from disinterested love — unostentatiously and with no selfish motives — does he get enthroned in public sentiment.

3. In the friendship of God.

(Homilist.)

That we may get a name: see the madness of the world ever to neglect heaven, and seek a name in earth, where nothing is firm, nothing continueth, but fadeth away and perisheth as a thought. This madness the prophet David mentioneth in his 49th Psalm, and laugheth at it, saying, "They think their houses and their habitations shall continue," etc.

This is a disease that cleaves to us all, to "receive honour one of another, and not to seek the honour which comes from God only" (John 5:44). A rare man is he surely that hath not some Babel of his own, whereon he bestows pains and cost, only to be talked of. Hoc ego primus vidi, was Zabarelle's ἐπινίκιον. Epicurus would have us believe that he was the first that ever found out the truth of things. Palaemon gave out that all learning was born and would die with him. Aratus, the astrologer, that he had numbered the stars and written of them all. Archimedes, the mathematician, that if he had but where to set his foot, he could move the earth out of its place. Herostratus burnt Diana's temple for a name. And Plato writes of Protagoras, that he vaunted that, whereas he had lived sixty years, forty of them he had spent in corrupting of youth. Tully tells us that Gracchus did all for popular applause, and observes that those philosophers that have written of the contempt of glory, have yet set their names to their own writings, which shows an itch after that glory they persuaded others to despise. "These two things," saith Tully somewhere of himself, "I have to boast of, Optimarum atrium scientiam rerum gloriam, my learned works, and noble acts." Julius Caesar had his picture set upon the globe of the world, with a sword in his right hand, a book in his left, with this motto, En utroque Caesar. Vibius Rufus used the chair wherein Caesar was wont to sit, and was slain; he also married Tully's widow, and boasted of them both, as if either for that seat he had been Caesar, or for that wife an orator. When Maximus died in the last day of his consulship, Caninius Rebulus petitioned Caesar for that part of the day that he might be said to have been consul. So many of the popish clergy have with great care and cost procured a cardinal's hat, when they have lain a-dying, that they might be entitled cardinals in their epitaph, as Erasmus writeth...And Sextus Marius, being once offended with his neighbour, invited him to be his guest for two days together. The first of those two days he pulled down his neighbour's farmhouse, the next he set it up again far bigger and better than before. And all this for a name, that his neighbours might see, and say, what hurt or good he could do them at his pleasure.

(J. Trapp.)

Look to the end of worldly ambition, and what is it? Take the four greatest rulers, perhaps, that ever sat upon a throne. Alexander, when he had so completely subdued the nations that he wept because he had no more to conquer, at last set fire to a city and died in a sense of debauch. Hannibal, who filled three bushels with the gold rings taken from the slaughtered knights, died at last by poison administered by his own hand, unwept, and unknown, in a foreign land. Caesar having conquered 800 cities, and dyed his garments with the blood of one million of his foes, was stabbed by his best friends, in the very place which had been the scene of his greatest triumph. Napoleon, after being the scourge of Europe, and the desolator of his country, died in banishment, conquered and captive. So truly "the expectation of the wicked shall be cut off."

(G. S. Bowes.)

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