Isaiah 38:12
I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world. Mine age is departed. Then it is not so strange an experience to love the busy city or the rural quietude. "Life, we've been long together." This is what, at Hezekiah's time of life, we most of us feel. There is an old familiar friendship betwixt us and the world. We scarcely think things can go on well without us. The old village stream seems to look up and know us when we visit it in the after-years. Yet the reflection in it of our face and figure is very changed.

I. THE SIGHT HE WOULD MISS. Not nature, but nature's King and Lord. This always characterizes a living religion. We see God in all - God in Christ. For by him God made the worlds. He is the Archetype of all beauty. His is the thought which has been fulfilled in creation's glory and beauty. His the harmony which has found voice in the music of the woods and streams. And to rise to higher, even to human spheres - all the loves of espousal and home - these speak of him who ordered their joys and uses, and made them parables of his own love and care. "I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world." Then this is cheerful and pleasant. So wrote Charles Lamb, when, in view of death, he said he should miss "the safe security of the streets," as well as the sweet rural scenes. And apart from revelation of the rest that remaineth, it would be sad indeed to lie down in a City of Sleepers, who will never know an awakening voice, whilst above the tomb there is busy life in the mart, the senate, and the field.

II. THE MISTAKE HE MADE. "Mine age is departed." Not quite so yet, even in relation to this life. He was to continue amongst those of whom he said, "The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day." But then would surely come the time when (ver. 18) he would go down into the pit. The light on immortality burned dimly then. Here and there we trace it, like light that lingers on the higher mountains, in David and Isaiah; but to the mass of minds it was not, to say the least, a very potent influence or a very living faith. "Christ has brought light and immortality to light" by the gospel, and we need never say, "Mine age is departed;" but rather, "Mine age is transmuted" into immortal youth, and unending revelation of the Redeemer's power and glory. - W.M.S.







As a shepherd's tent.
He saith "a shepherd's tent," because that represents the inconstancy and uncertainty of our life, more than any other tent. The soldier's tent may stand pitched long in a place, as in sieges and the like; but shepherds change the place of their tent every day, because of the opportunity of fresh pasture for their cattle.

(W. Day, M. A.)

I. MAN'S LOT HAS NO PERMANENCE.

II. IT IS EASILY REMOVED.

III. IT MAY BE SPEEDILY REMOVED.

IV. IT IS OFTEN REMOVED SUDDENLY.

V. IT IS REMOVED TO ANOTHER PLACE.

(W. O. Lilley.)

I have out off like a weaver my life.
seems to have been coeval with the first dawn of civilisation. We do not know where or at what time it was invented; but we find that at an early age in the world's history the Egyptians manifested great skill in it. The vestures of fine linen such as Joseph wore were the product of Egyptian looms, and the existing specimens of the mummy cloth of Egypt are said to compare favourably with the finest cambric of modern times. There are various incidental references to this art in the Scriptures. We are told that the staff of Goliath's spear was like a weaver's beam. Job says that his days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle. And among the experiments which Delilah tried in ascertaining the secret of Samson's strength, we find one that consisted in weaving the seven locks of his hair with the web of her loom. "She fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson; and he awaked out of his sleep, and plucked away the pin of the beam, and the web." Here we have references to some of the parts of the loom as it exists in the present day, the beam, the shuttle, the pin to which the web was attached. Indeed, we learn on reliable authority that though the introduction of machinery has made some important changes in the loom as used by the ancients, yet the essential features of it remain unaltered.

(W. V. Robinson, B. A.)

We need, therefore, but a slight acquaintance with the art of weaving in its present state to enable us to understand the meaning of our text. Let us suppose that a man is standing before his loom. The warp has been supplied to him by his master, and fixed to the weaver's beam. The threads pass over the loom, and the weft is shot through by means of the shuttle. The web is then complete, and is rolled on to another beam. When the required length of cloth has been woven, the threads of the warp are cut, and if the master has no more work for the weaver, he is dismissed from his employ.

(W. V. Robinson, B. A.)

Life is like a web of which man is the weaver, and the threads may at any moment be cut by the master, and the weaver dismissed from the loom.

I. LIFE IS LIKE A WEB, OF WHICH GOD SUPPLIES THE MATERIALS, AND OF WHICH MAN IS THE WEAVER.

1. God supplies the warp of life.(1) This consists partly of a man's capacities and partly of a man's circumstances. It is different in almost every case; but in each case it forms the material which lies at the basis of a man's life. No two men are exactly alike. One man enters life with a strong physical constitution. Another, perhaps his brother, enters into life a cripple. One man inherits a strong intellect, which in his boyhood puts him at the top of his school, and in his later years makes him the leader of his fellows. Another is born with a slow, dull comprehension. One man is born with tastes and tendencies which will make him an artist or a poet; another with passions which will sink him into the criminal class if they are allowed to develop. One man is weak in character, veering like the weather-cock with every breath of public opinion. Another has a strong character. He is firm and persistent, and allows no difficulty to discourage or distress him. How very different is the warp of life in these cases!(2) The warp of life comprises, moreover, a man's early surroundings his parentage, his social position, his early education, his religious training. One men is born with a silver spoon in his mouth, another has the fiery liquid poured down his throat before he is many weeks old. One is surrounded by the sunshine of love and affluence; another enters life in the cold winds of adversity and cruel oppression. One man is born in a country village, and his early life is full of experiences of the external world in all its purity and beauty; another is born in a large town, amid the roar of traffic and the bustling excitement of city life. One is born in a land where the air is heavy with idolatry; another is surrounded with Christian influences. How different is the warp of life in all such cases! Now God supplies this; and it is not for any one of us to murmur at His arrangements. For this, at least, we know, that God requires of a man no more than he possesses.

2. The weft of life, as we conceive of it, consists of the desires and purposes and resolutions that we bring to bear upon our capacities and circumstances. There are some who weave with the coarse yarn of selfishness, who use their strong physical natures for the gratification of their bodily appetites, who allow their strong reasoning powers to lift them up in rebellion against God, who oppress and crush their weaker brethren with their firm wills and imperious natures. When a coarse thread is woven into a fine warp, the cloth is not good. Neither can that life be good which has a selfish purpose woven into the Divine plan. But there are others who weave with the fine yarn of Christian consecration, and the web of their lives cannot but be well pleasing in the sight of God. It is true that the weft of life is supplied to us as well as the warp, and yet each man possesses the power to choose the thread that he will weave into his life. It is ours to choose either the selfish purpose or the Christ-like purpose. Any weaver may lay aside the yarn that his master has supplied to him, and substitute for it an inferior yarn and work with that. And that is exactly what many are actually doing. On the one side, the Divine Spirit is prompting him to all that is noble and good; and on the other side are the spirits of darkness, who cannot compel one single man to choose the wrong, but who can, and do tempt him to it; and if a man, either through indifference or presumption, allows himself to be influenced by that which is evil, for the life that is thus marred he is accountable to God.

II. GOD KNOWS BEST OF ALL WHEN THE WEB OF LIFE IS REALLY FINISHED. The Greeks believed that the fates were spinning the web of human life, and that they determined when it should be cut off from the loom. Ours is a truer and a more comforting creed. It is no cruel fate but a loving Father that determines for us the length of life's fabric.

1. We sometimes think that some lives are ended before they are completed. What means the broken column, so frequently to be seen in our cemeteries, but that some mourning friend thinks that one life, perhaps dearer than any other life, has been cut off before it is completed. But God knows best when a life is really finished. Every life is finished when God's purpose in that life has been fulfilled. The life of Jesus only reached over thirty-three short years; but no one thinks of suggesting that it would have been better if He had lived to be sixty. His work was finished.

2. Again, are there not many who seem to us to have lived long after their work on earth was over? It may be that in the patient waiting of their lives, in the dim glory of their eventide, He has some threads for them to weave into the warp that He has supplied.

3. But after the fabric has been rolled up, it must be unrolled again. How few are there who can, without emotion, take a retrospect of their past life! To some it is a punishment greater than they can bear! And is there any man, however good, who can think of the past without regret? The memory of God's goodness, indeed, may fill him with gratitude, and joy, and wonder; but the recollection of his share in life's fabric must fill him with grief and shame. And this life must be Unrolled before the searching eye of the Great Master, in the fierce light that beats about His throne. "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ." How can we bear to present such imperfect and sin-stained lives to God? Let us take courage. For are there not some standing before the throne whose lives were no better than ours? How can they stand there? "They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." And we, too, can receive forgiveness and cleansing where they received it. The Great Master might well say that such clumsy and faithless weavers as we are should have no place in His service and in His home. But He will receive us for the sake of His dear Son.

(W. V. Robinson, D. D.)

Judas Iscariot was a man of whose capacities we know little. We may infer, however, that he possessed some valuable gifts, or his brethren in the apostolate would never have assigned to him the important office of purse-bearer and almoner to the little band. His circumstances, we know, were unusually good. He was drawn, with the other apostles, to the feet of Jesus by the gracious words that proceeded out of His mouth. For three years he accompanied our Lord in His journeys. He heard the discourses to which He gave utterance, and he lived under the influence of His character. This was the warp of his life. But what does he weave into it? Is it avarice, or is it vindictiveness, or is it a conceited idea that he can force the triumph of his Master, or is it bitter disappointment at the spiritual character of Christ's kingdom, that forms the weft of his life? Whatever it is, it is a dark, coarse thread. Satan enters into him. He betrays his Master even with the kiss of loyalty and affection. And when he comes to look at the web that he has woven, he himself is so overwhelmed with grief and remorse, that he cuts himself off from the loom. "He went, and departed, and hanged himself." Saul of Tarsus was a very different man; a man of weak physical constitution, but of strong intellect; a man of deep conscientiousness and rousing enthusiasm. Drought up in a comfortable home and trained in the Pharisaism of his day, he weaves into his early life a simply lurid thread of persecution of the Christians. Jesus meets him on the way to Damascus, and he gives himself up completely to the influences that are brought to bear upon him. How changed his life is! He has severe physical sufferings to endure; he has persecutions innumerable to face; but inwoven into all the threads of the Divine providence is the grand purpose of consecration to Christ's service. Henceforth the motto of his life is, "To me to live is Christ." Christ is the aim of all his labours, of all Iris sufferings, of all his successes. And now that that life is unrolled for us in the Scriptures it is acknowledged to be one of the noblest and best ever lived upon earth.

(W. V. Robinson, D. D.)

But even that life pales before the resplendent glory that streams forth from the one perfect life upon earth, the life of Him who was at once the Son of Mary and the Son of God. Born in the stable of the inn at Bethlehem, bred in the humble home of Nazareth, pursuing the calling of a carpenter, He possessed little that men would covet. But that life was glorious, not because of its circumstances, but because of its high and holy purpose. "My Father's business," that was the aim that He set before Himself from the beginning; and that was the aim that He pursued to the close of His career. When at last the supreme moment has come, He can shout triumphantly, "It is finished." He has glorified God on the earth, He has finished the work that was given Him to do. Like His own seamless robe, His life was of one piece throughout. And He lived for us, He died for us. Trusting in Him, following in His footsteps, our lives may, in some measure, be like His. Humbler they can scarcely be; but are there any that are so full of glory?

(W. V. Robinson, D. D.)

I. IT IS WORTH WHILE LOOKING AT THE WORK ITSELF. Now what is this? The formation of personal character. There are two great elements which might well correspond with the weaver's warp and woof. The first may represent the principles of scriptural trust in God; pardon, providence, hope, &c. These, like the weaver's warp, are strong and firmly fixed. The second are our own dally deeds. Each is a thread, woven into the character; both are necessary in cloth making: so are faith and works, in character weaving. Now observe about this work what it is.

1. The weaver's own. I do not mean that the materials, either before or after they are made up, belong to him, but the work itself. A thousand weavers may use the same wool in common, while the work of each will be the product of each individual workman. Now this is a solemn fact in character weaving. Every man is making, and must make, his own; nobody can make it for him, nor can God give it him.

2. It is a work of increasing progress. We have to choose, not whether the work shall go on, but only whether the work shall be good or bad.

3. It is a work of growing ease. It is difficult at first, but soon, and in proportion to the weaver's assiduity, he becomes dexterous, and may sing all day at his loom; ay, he shall have plenty to sing about too! So it is with character weaving.

4. It is a work of changeful feeling. We may be full of joy or grief, gaiety or gloom, only let the work go on. The finest cloth is often woven while we weep (Job 7:6). Poor Job! You little thought what was in your loom then! Every age admires that work of yours! Christian weaver, do not think too much of your frames and feelings.

II. IT IS WORTH WHILE LOOKING AT THE MATERIALS. These are the doctrines of truth, all the agencies of the Spirit, and particularly all the events of life, all the calls to self-denial, duty, trust and righteousness which our lot furnishes. Observe of them —

1. They are like the weaver's wool, all supplied by the Master. And the Master gives that material which best suits the workman.

2. They are only materials after all. They are valuable for the cloth's sake, rather than for themselves. The man that works the worst material best, shall have the best pay and praise, and vice versa. Always remember that the part you play in life's drama is the choice of God, the manner of playing it alone is yours. These materials are abundant. The master never lacks them so that work should be short. Every workman has his hands full.

III. IT IS WORTH WHILE LOOKING AT THE END. "I have cut off," &c. Observe —

1. The fabric lasts for ever. Cloth wears out, character does not.

2. The work is over at death. The loom must then stop for ever. No unpicking bad work, finished or unfinished, bad or good. The shuttle is still, and the shears cut off the cloth, and it is delivered up.

3. The Master inspects it. Here, reputation will be nothing; character, all. It will be held up to the sun, ἐιλικρίνεια.

4. The Master disposes of it according to its worth. In reviewing all this, think —

(1)What a mercy it is we are spared and furnished for this work!

(2)What a motive to begin the work early!

(3)How soon shall we have nothing but our work left! Wealth, poverty, health, sickness, &c., all will be left behind!

(W. Wheeler.)

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