Ecclesiastes 4EXPOSITION Verse 9. To execute upon them the judgment written. Israel as a nation had this to do, and did it, and then they rejoiced in the God who gave success to their arms. We praise our God after another fashion; we are not executioners of justice, but heralds of mercy. It would be a sad thing for any one to misuse this text: lest any warlike believer should be led to do so, we would remind him that the execution must not go beyond the sentence and warrant; and we have received no warrant of execution against our fellow men. Christians have no commission of vengeance; it is theirs to execute the command of mercy, and that alone. This honour have all his saints. All the godly shared in the triumphs of the Lord when he smote Israel's foes. We have like honour, but it is shown in victories of another sort. All the holy ones are sent upon errands by their holy Lord. The honours described in this Psalm are common to all the family of grace; and such service as the Lord appoints is to be undertaken by every one of them, without exception. The Lord honours all his chosen here, and he will glorify them all hereafter: this rule is without exception. Surely in this we have the best argument for glorifying the Lord, wherefore we close our new song with another Hallelujah, Praise ye the Lord. EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS Verse 9. This honour have all his saints. All other glories and honours are but feminine, weak, poor things to it. God is their glory; honoured they are with his blessed presence, honoured with his sight, with his embraces; they see him and enjoy him. This is the very glory of their honour, the height and pitch of all, for "in thy presence is joy, and at thy right hand there is pleasure for evermore", honour advanced into eternal glory; and "this honour" also "have all his saints"; some in spe, and some in re, some in hope, and some in deed; all either in promise or in possession. --Mark Frank. Verse 9. This honour have all his saints. "His saints" emphatically; Divine providence foreseeing that in after ages some would usurp the title of saintship to whom it did not belong. "His saints" exclusively; casting out saint traitors, as Beckett and Garnet; saint hypocrites, and many others; who, in the same sense as auri sacra fames, may be termed sacri, or sancti, saints. But, what honour have all his saints? Mark what went before -- "as it is written"; but by whom, and where? Though chapters and verses be of later date, the Holy Spirit might have cited the book. O no! He, to quicken our industry, refers us to the Word at large. However, "search the Scriptures", and therein we shall meet with many honours afforded to the saints; both whilst they were living, and when they were dead. Honour to their memories is sometimes paid them very abundantly, even by those who formerly were so niggardly and covetous as not to afford them a good word in their lifetime. Many are made converts by the godly ends of good men; as the centurion himself, who attended and ordered the crucifying of Christ, after his expiring broke forth into that testimony of him, -- "Verily, this was the Son of God." So, such as rail at, revile, curse, condemn, persecute, execute pious people, speak other language of them when such men have passed the purgation of death, and confess them faithful and sincere servants of God. The last "honour" is imitation of their virtuous examples. The Papists brag that Stapleton, their great controversial divine, was born on that very day whereon Sir Thomas More was put to death; but Providence so ordereth it that out of the ashes of dead saints many living ones do spring and sprout, by following the pious precedents of such godly persons deceased. --Thomas Fuller in "Abel Redivivus." HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS Verse 9. The honour common to all saints.
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