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The Deepest Stage of Calamity
The idea is that a calamity affects us, not according to the weight of the stroke, but according to the state of our thoughts. The spirit of a man is his mental state as distinguished from his outward circumstances.
I. The proverb says that an outward misfortune influences the life, not in proportion to its actual severity, but in proportion to the resources of the mind. I am profoundly convinced that this is true. Two men take a fever at the same time; one dies, the other recovers. The popular view is that in the former case the physical stroke was more powerful. Yet in itself it may have been weaker. The man who died may have succumbed to the fever because he was down in spirit when the fever seized him.
II. That which prostrates us and that which supports us is in every case, not a thing, but a thought. We speak of the 'ills which flesh is heir to'. I think we look for the black in the wrong direction; we should say, the 'ills which spirit is heir to'. All the crowning calamities of life are in the thinking not in the striking.
III. The crushing wound comes ever from within. The friend who is separated from you by death may be really less removed than the friend who goes from you to a foreign country; yet between the two cases there is no comparison in the degree of your sorrow. Why is this? It lies in the thought. The foreign country has a name in your heart; the dwelling-place of the dead has as yet no name. It is the idea that makes the difference between separation and bereavement. Both equally for the time miss 'the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is still'; but in the one there is the hope of future communion, in the other there may be a cloud which obscures tomorrow's sky.
G. Matheson, Messages of Hope, p. 141.
References. XVIII. 14. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlii. No. 2494. XVIII. 17. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 383. XVIII. 19. J. W. Mills, After Glow, p. 141. XVIII. 22. W. M. Taylor, Outlines of Sermons in the Old Testament, p. 160; W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 387. XVIII. 24. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iii. No. 120; A. E. Hutchinson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. 1898, p. 368. XIX. 11. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 394. XIX. 15. J. Marshall Lang, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. 1894, p. 58; W. Howell Evans, Sermons for the Church's Year, p. 276. XIX. 22. W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven for Life on Earth, p. 398. XX. 1. Ibid. p. 401. XX. 1-7 A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Esther, Job, Proverbs, etc., p. 220.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Proverbs 18". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany