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to sow between forty and fifty acres last spring. Harvests on harvests are shut up in that little husk. So it is about the value of things to which we give ourselves up. Some pursuits are barren of helpfulness to ourselves or others. We shall one day wonder why we wasted time over them. Some would rather go in for what is showy and win applause to-day, instead of the mental and moral culture, which lasts. Some give themselves to this world, and neglect their minds and hearts, and are barren in relation to
eternity. We shall take nothing out of the world but ourselves, as made by education, and moral discipline, and the grace of God.
3. God is building up our futureand we are out of our present. One of the things found out after conversion is that so much of the old remains with us. There is such a thing as moral continuity. You cannot cut life off from its past. Men who rise in the world cannot hide or get away from their early privations and their old selves, as moulded by them. Life is a progress, a growth, an evolution. In the eternity before us we shall go on in our present ways. All the change will be circumscribed by present character and capacity. Heaven is the fruit, the harvest of earth. It may be a poor heaven, a salvation hardly realized; or it may be a full, a glorious salvation. So, take heed what you are doing, what use you are making of present spiritual opportunities. You may not have many or much in possession-only some poor five little loaves and a few fishes; but if you bring them to Christ He will make the most of them; He will turn them to the best account; He will make a meal of them to support the life of others, to inspire hope in others, joy in others. He will make them to sustain a higher and better life for yourselves; for He has power to evolve great good
out of a little, great blessing out of a small effort, great knowledge out of a little faith, blessed immortality out of earthly toil and suffering.
""Twas springtime when He blessed the bread, And harvest when He brake." EDITOR.
1 KINGS iii. 9, 10.
"In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, 'Ask what I shall give thee.' 'Give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad.'"
SOLOMON, the youngest son of David, ascended the throne of Israel about the age of twenty years. Absalom, by murder and conspiracy, lost his right, had he lived. Adonijah, by an attempt at usurpation, previous to his father's death, and by his father's decree, lost the sceptre. Solomon was anointed and crowned, therefore, before his father's decease, and from the lips of that father received his charge and blessing in the infancy of his wonderful reign. Solomon was the most pious and benevolent of youths, and David recognized in his son a man of brain and nerve. He urged him to quit himself like a man, both in the moral and in the civil ability of his administration. Solomon's first acts were marked with wisdom and decision, combining justice with clemency, and firmly establishing the security of his throne. All opposition, at home and abroad,
now swept away, and the throne of David, in Solomon's reign, was free from enemies, by divine decree and purpose. Young, wise, decided, vigorous and powerful, Solomon cleared the way to his glorious reign with but little blood, and his kingdom was established greatly." David had planted it in power, and Solomon was to crown it in glory.
In the first year of his reign, God appeared to Solomon in a vision at
Gibeon, and after his magnificent sacrifices to the Lord of a thousand burnt offerings, "Ask what I shall give thee," said Jehovah. "An understanding heart,' was the response; and the response proved Solomon wise in his youth. He called himself a "little child" at God's feet, and, in the wonderful humility of his heart, he felt his lofty responsibilities and recognized God's grace and providence as his only safety and success. wanted only an "understanding heart," that he might sit on David's throne, judge God's people, and "discern between good and bad." He had a good head by nature, but he desired a wise heart. A man is master of any situation in the life of faith who recognizes God's will as his rule, who feels his responsibilities in his heart, and who acts upon his recognition. He cannot be surprised by disaster, nor overcome by temptation. He did not want simply an intellectual conception of truth and justice, but a heart realization of moral principles, of all true wisdom, of human government and affairs. How few have a conscientious and conscious discernment of truth! How few rise above ambition, pride, prejudice, eccentricity, self! discerning the right against the wrong, in the midst of weakness and opposition! eschewing and vanquishing evil, in spite of odds and temptation! How few young people desire wisdom at all! How few who lack wisdom ask it of that God from whom cometh down light, and knowledge, and every perfect gift! What an attribute for princes, a wise heart!
The request of Solomon greatly pleased God. Without faith, it is impossible to please God; but no element in faith is so fundamental to all goodness and efficiency as a wise head and an understanding heart. The most learned and intellectual Christian never goes beyond the understanding of his
heart; his conscious discernment of God's will; and the desire for divine wisdom is most pleasing to God. Wisdom is God's first great natural attribute, as love is first in His moral being; but omnipotence, omnipresence, justice, mercy, goodness—all are nothing without the order and control, the harmony and development, of wisdom. To be truly wise is to be godlike in goodness and utility, and it takes an understanding heart to reach true wisdom. Wisdom is a force behind all the other powers, and faith, without heart-understanding, however pleasing to God, can think, feel, and act but feebly and inefficiently.
In considering Solomon's choice, consider
I. GOD'S PROMISES.
"And God said unto him 'Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, "" etc.
Solomon was full of sacrifices, and devotion, and prayer at the time. His head was full of great works, and his heart enlarged with responsibilities and lofty desires. God knew his sublime possibilities and capabilities, and He appreciated the purity of his motives, the fire of his zeal, and the largeness of his soul. Solomon was all aglow with his Father's business. He wanted to honour God with righteous judgment and magnificent work; and God determined to make him a success beyond all other men in the history of kings, or scholars, or workers. What vast promises! What appreciation of God in a young man ! Any other man ablaze with zeal, and humble with purity, and determined of purpose to glorify God and do the world good-any other man, oblivious of self, who makes no conditions for success-will find God exalt him, according to capacity and purpose, just as he helped and honoured Solomon.
1. God honours Solomon for not asking selfish ends. He did not ask for long life "-that to which most people cling, instead of looking towards the eternal day. Hezekiah asked for an extension of years to finish God's work; but no true worker for Jesus wishes to live beyond the day of his usefulLength of days,' as Solomon says in Proverbs, "is the right-hand blessing of wisdom"; but it is a blessing which is the result of purity and usefulness. He asked not for days; but God promised him long life, provided he was wise and walked in His law.
Solomon did not ask for the life of his enemies. Selfishness always wants the death of its opponents; but the disinterested purpose to serve and glorify God loves its enemies and does good for evilkills by kindness. Solomon tried, in every way, to save his enemies and to crown his sceptre with mercy. Hence Solomon's reign was one of great peacefulness and glory.
2. God promised Solomon, specially and marvellously, that which he did ask "an understanding heart." He never had his equal! What a promise to that boy! Solomon's choice was God's own kindling, and so every desire we have and prayer we make, in faith according to God's will, is indited by the Spirit. "Ask what I shall give thee," said God to Solomon; and if we should always yield and respond to the divine promptings as Solomon did, we should always receive God's promises and blessings to the full. God can do all things for a willing and responding heart, and wonders with a yielding and active will.
3. God promised Solomon, superabundantly, those things he did not ask. He was to have riches and honour above all the princes or men of his time. No man was ever to be so rewarded for unselfishness and modesty; for, perhaps, he was
the only man, under like circumstances and with such prospects before him, who ever so far forgot himself as to ask only for the one thing needful. God's promises are sure, and wonderfully they are fulfilled. God never fails, especially to humility and fidelity. II. SOLOMON'S SUCCESS.
Like his father David, Solomon reigned over Israel "forty years. Enthroned at twenty, he died at sixty, not having reached his "three score and ten"; leaving God's conditional promise of "long" life" unfulfilled. The first twentyfive years of his reign were years of unparalleled wisdom, wealth, power, peace, glory, and purity. This was the unconditional fulfilment of God's promise. It was not till the forty-fifth year of Solomon's life--the age when defections or virtues mature-that Solomon began to manifest corruption. During the closing fifteen years of his life and reign, God cut loose the engine of Providence from the car of Solomon's progress and glory, and though the momentum attained carried his reign on for awhile, as if the engine had not been loosed, yet the train slackened its pace, its wheels ultimately stopped, and the government and grandeur of Solomon went to decay and ruin; not completely, however, till after his death. His defections laid the foundation of Israel's ruin, for God by promise blotted out the dynasty of David in the event of corruption.
For twenty-five years Solomon's reign was a splendid picture of God blessing a man and a nation, ruling in righteousness and peace, and wholly devoted to His cause. His prayer for wisdom was answered, and the subsequent incident of his decision concerning the child claimed by the two harlots demonstrated his marvellous insight and created fear and obedience throughout the nation. He surrounded
himself with a magnificent retinue of officials for the administration of his government; and such even was the sumptuousness of his table, that twelve dignitaries were distributed in the kingdom to purchase the rich provisions for his house. Carellus estimates that the daily supply of Solomon's table would have fed forty-eight thousand people, the lowest estimate being thirty thousand. The reign of Solomon was that of an empire from the "river unto the land of the Philistines and unto the borders of Egypt"; and such was Solomon's power over the surrounding nations that they laid their tribute of wealth at his feet, and gave him universal homage. His fame excelled all the men of the East. He wrote three thousand proverbs and one thousand songs; and everything in natural history and philosophy became subject to his wisdom. The kings, and sages, and peoples of the earth came to learn at Solomon's feet and to see
his glory. All this is a type of Christ in His millennial reign. The world will be subdued to the cross in peace and glory, and the nations of the earth shall bring their honour and wealth of spirit into Jerusalem, and to the feet of Jesus, sitting on His father David's throne.
The greatest work of Solomon was the building of God's house, early begun in his reign, and planned by David. Israel had perfect rest from wars, nor was evil occurrent. Hiram of Tyre furnished the materials; seventy thousand workmen in timber, eighty thousand in stone, and three thousand six hundred overseers were employed for seven years in executing God's pattern. It was the most elaborate and costly building in history, and was dedicated by the most wonderful ceremonies, and divine manifestations.
Such was Solomon's wealth, at this time, that gold was as common
as the stones in the streets of Jerusalem, and of silver there was taken no account. He was thirteen years more in the construction of his own palace and other magnificent public buildings in Jerusalem and the forests of Lebanon; and he had a throne of ivory and lions adorned with gold, the finest the world ever saw. He built and fortified a number of strong cities throughout the kingdom, and he made Jerusalem impregnable with walls. The Queen of Sheba came to behold the glory of Solomon, and to lay her vast treasures at the grand monarch's feet, and to learn wisdom from his lips; and she said the half had not been told her, as she swooned before his magnificence. The navies of the ocean, and the caravans of the desert, and the learning of the world poured their riches into the lap of Jerusalem; and the people of Israel knew no bondage, but were princes, and men of war, and rulers, and freemen. He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that seeks wisdom and virtue only shall have all. Yet Solomon's glory was only a type, a shadow, of future glory. The type was only brief, and faded away purposely; but the heavenly is the eternal and imperishable. III. SOLOMON'S DEFECTION AND
We come now to the saddest and strangest fact of this great and wise man's history. At forty-five his corruption began to show itself. He had enough to turn the head of any man without persistent integrity. He was surfeited with wealth and glory, and when possession and ease succeeded the pursuits and enterprises of ardent youth, age became a prey to gratification. He had all the heart could desire of wisdom, of power, and luxurious wealth and fame; but these became his snare when young faith and humility yielded to old
indifferency and pride. His mistake in life and his defect were sown in youth. He married Pharaoh's daughter! With her, he loved other strange women. These heathen wives, forbidden by Moses, won his heart to idolatry and lust by degrees, and the time came when it was said of him, his heart was not "perfect" with God. Then it is said he was not " fully" on the Lord's side. Then he went after Ashtaroth, and Milcom, and Molech, and Chemosh. He built large places for all the gods of his Pagan wives, according to their nationality. God, who had met him with promises and blessings, now met him with expostulations and warnings; and though roused to momentary faith and purpose, he gradually relapsed deeper and deeper into apostasy. For David's sake he remained upon the throne till he died; but his sun went down in a cloud.
What lessons do we learn here? 1. The solemn importance of not being unequally yoked with unbelievers in marriage. A bosom companion may wrench a Christian from his integrity. Samson, the strongest-Solomon, the wisest man -was ruined by a heathen wife.
2. We should beware of the temptations of wealth and honour. When Solomon was young and humble, faithful and zealous, these did not affect him; but with age and ease, possession and position, camevoluptuousness and pride, indifferency and infidelity. We see many pure in their early struggles, but puffed and corrupted with success.
3. Solomon's defection grew by degrees. The young oak had a small defect in its heart; but the defect, unremoved, grew with the tree to grand proportions. It fell one day, and great was the fall; and, lo! the monarch of the forest was hollow within, though flourishing and beautiful without! So Solomon grew to decay.
4. Solomon presumed upon his
wisdom to test forbidden vanitiesSuch presumption in the wisest and strongest man, will result in certain ruin. No man can hold his own in a contest with the devil, alone. Solomon tried every sin and exclaimed, All is vanity! Let none presume on wisdom and virtue to taste of any forbidden fruit.
5. Solomon repented. He was saved, so as by fire. He will be called "the least in the kingdom of heaven." He put out his light at midday, and he has been a stumbling block to millions. He is a beacon on a dark shore for our example and warning. Young man, seek the true glory of Solomon by humility in youth; but beware of Solomon's long cherished defections in age.
GEO. A. LOFTON, D.D.
The Ark in the House.
"The Lord hath blessed the house of Obed-edom and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God."
MEN were frightened by the fate of Uzzah. Even King David broke up the solemn procession which was escorting the ark to Jerusalem, and feared to bring it near his abode in the new capital. So he took it aside from the road into the house of Obed-edom, the Gittite-not probably a Philistine from Gath, but a Hebrew of Gath Rimmon. At the end of three months it was reported to the king that, for the ark's sake, the Lord was blessing Obed-edom, and all his household, and all that pertained to him. The blessing was notable and extraordinary, so as to be plainly given "because of the ark of God." Then the king resumed his interrupted purpose, and brought the ark to Jerusalem,
The ark was the symbol of God's presence. Where it was present, men recognized that God was there. How may we have the ark in the house? Such regular use of the