Thursday, January 5, 2017



"Do not trust in princes,
In mortal man in whom there is no salvation.
His spirit departs, he returns to the earth;
In that very day his thoughts perish."

Adam Clarke, 1762-1832, from whose commentary I use most, said,

"Learning I love--
Learned men I prize--
with the company of the great good,
I am often delighted.
but infinitely above all these
are other possible enjoyments,
I glory in Christ."

"For one man to put confidence in another,
is as if one beggar should ask alms of another,
or one cripple should carry another,
or the blind lead the blind."
(Anthony Fairndon)

"Earthly princes offer baubles to allure the soul from the eternal prize."
(Thomas Le Banc)

"Probably no order of men have been so false to their promises and treaties as men of royal blood...There is none to be trusted, no, not one.  Adam fell; therefore lean not on his sons.
Shakespeare puts this sentiment into Wolsey's mouth:
'Oh how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes favour!
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
More pangs and fears than wars and women have:
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.'"
(Thomas Le Banc)

As Americans, we are one step away from kings and princes ever since we threw off King George, in the American Revolution.  Some wanted to crown George Washington as another King George, but he refused.  Our founders wanted a government "of the people, by the people, for the people."  Because of our form of government, though we may have contentious elections, there will be a peaceful transition of leadership.  Still, it is good to remember that the arm of flesh will fail you.  Besides that, George Washington died.  I visited his grave at Mr. Vernon.  In fact, if memory serves me, some of the family graves had to be moved due to flooding.  That's how unreliable the arm of flesh is who digs graves, who can't even dig a good grave for our most revered dead!

"All that a man--a prince, a nobleman, a monarch, a millionaire (a billionaire) will soon have will be his grave, a few feet of earth." Albert Barnes.  The grave is the great leveler of mankind.

This week a 105 year old Frenchman set a cycling record.  When asked if he would turn out again on the track in two years, he said, "You are nine months in the making.  But it takes you only thirty seconds to drop dead." He is a wise man indeed.

"Princes, though masters of armies, possessors of riches, loaded with honours, reveling in pleasures, are at the mercy of a ruthless Black Prince.  Death is a tyrant over prince and peasant alike.  The very pleasures which are envied are often the ministers of death to voluptuous princes."  (Thomas Le Banc)

"His spirit departs, he returns to the earth;
In that very day, his thoughts perish."

"The spirit returns to God who gave it,
and the flesh to the dust out of which it was fashioned."
"Dust thou art,
and unto dust shall thou return."
(Genesis 3:19)

"His breath goes forth, etc.  The Hebrew gives the idea not that the spirit, but the mortal part of man will return to the dust. 'His soul goeth forth,' returned to God.
"The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground."
(Genesis 2:7)

"thoughts perish"

"The Hebrew word here used I derived from a verb that signifies to be bright."

"His thoughts.  Rather, 'his false deceitful show; literally, 'his glitterings.'"
Samuel Horsley (1733-1803)

"At death a man sees all those thoughts which were not spent upon God to be fruitless."
(Thomas Watson)

"Like the rich fool (Luke 12:16, 12:20) 'his thoughts of building larger barns, and of many years of ease and prosperity,--
all his selfish and worldly schemes,--
'perished' in that self same night."
(John Haley)

Perhaps that is why I like to read Adam Clarke's Commentary written in the 1700's and first published in 1831, a year before his death, his "glitterings."  It is the most comprehensive commentary of the Bible ever prepared by one man, 6,000 pages.  He wrote it in forty years, not sequestered in an ivory tower, but while actively preaching on Methodist circuits under all kinds of conditions.  Sometimes his circuit was too poor to buy him a horse. Once, in three years time, he walked 7,000 miles.  He, like Wesley, was tireless in his physically demanding work.  Because of his mother, a Scotch Presbyterian of the Puritan Stamp, his father had been denied preferment in the Established Church (Church of England).  His father resolved to immigrate to American, but his friends kept him by remonstrance.  Thus he moved to an obscure village in Ireland to teach school.  However, his son Adam, did not at first show much promise as a scholar.

Adam Clarke was a boy who was thought to be stupid because he was slow to learn the alphabet.  His teacher said "he was a grievous dunce," while another put her hand on his head and said, "This lad will make a good scholar yet."  Once, in frustration, he threw his Latin book across the room  in despair.  He told his teacher, "Sir, I cannot learn it."  His teacher replied, "Go sirrah, and take up your grammar; if you do not speedily get a lesson, I shall pull your ears as long as Jowlers (a dog) and you shall be a beggar to the day of your death."  Others jeered and a classmate called him a name."  He determined to show them!  Not many men have been awarded so many unsought honors, like university degrees and becoming a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, for example.  He taught himself to read ancient languages.  Not bad for a dunce. 

After apprenticing to a linen draper for one year, he preached his first sermon.  Finally, he showed such promise after conversion and going village to village to hold class meetings, that Adam Clarke was referred to John Wesley who invited him to go to Kingswood School in London.   His father was enraged and his mother said that if he went, he should have a parent's curse, and not her blessing. After prayer, she changed, and he set sail.  While onboard, he barely escaped being impressed by a press gang who boarded his ship, taking another youth instead, (a strange form of draft by way of kidnapping and enforced navel service.)  Once arriving at Kingswood, he was confined to a small unheated room off the chapel in Kingswood like a prisoner by tyrannical, parsimonious supervisors and fed bread and milk, because he was Irish and they were afraid he carried "the itch."  Finally, five weeks later, John Wesley arrived and he was assigned a circuit.  It is said once in eleven months he taught or preached 506 times. 

All this to say, that only what is done for Christ will last.  Adam Clarke is long gone, but his bright words, his glitterings, shine on because they had the glory of God dusted on them.  All the schemes and thoughts of ungodly men will pass away.

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