1 Kings 22:48
Jehoshaphat built ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold, but they never set sail, because they were wrecked at Ezion-geber.
Sermons
Jehoshaphat's Wrecked ShipsG. T. Coster.1 Kings 22:48
The Broken ShipsH. Burton, M. A.1 Kings 22:48
The Lessons of AdversityW. L. Watkinson.1 Kings 22:48
The Peril of All Mercantile Enterprises Apart from Religious PrincipleS. Jenner, M. A.1 Kings 22:48
The Shipwreck At Ezion-GeberJ. T. Davidson, D. D.1 Kings 22:48
Character of JehoshaphatR. S. Candlish, D. D.1 Kings 22:2-50
The Character of AhabR. S. Candlish, D. D.1 Kings 22:2-50
SurvivalJ.A. Macdonald 1 Kings 22:39, 40, 51-53
JehoshaphatJ.A. Macdonald 1 Kings 22:41-50
Two Life StoriesJ. Urquhart 1 Kings 22:41-53
These words give a summary of the life of this king of Judah, and faithfully record, as the Scriptures do to admiration, the good and the bad, as these will be considered in the judgment of the great day. Consider -

I. THE PRAISE OF JEHOSHAPHAT.

1. He came of a good stock.

(1) He was "of the house and lineage of David." The traditions of that house were in many respects a glorious inheritance. David was a "man after God's own heart." In no instance was he found inclining to idolatry.

(2) He was the son of Asa. Of his mother we have this significant mention: "And his mother's name was Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi. And he walked in the ways of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the Lord." This suggests the healthiness of his mothers moral influence. The reference here to Asa, too, is highly honourable.

(3) The blessing of pious parents is inestimable. It works beneficially in example, in precept, in solicitude. This last is most effectual in prayer to God. Those who are favoured with godly parents should praise God evermore. Wicked children of pious parents are doubly culpable.

2. He improved his advantages.

(1) He "walked in the ways of Asa his father." These were ways of righteousness. Let the children of godly parents now ask themselves whether they walk in the good ways of their ancestors.

(2) He "turned not aside from it. He showed no favour to idolatry. The note which follows is no impeachment of the truth of this statement: "Nevertheless the high places were not taken away; for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places." The high places that Jehoshaphat spared were those in which the true God was worshipped in accordance with the usage of patriarchal times (see 2 Chronicles 33:17).

(3) He went farther than Asa in the work of reformation: - "The remnant of the Sodomites which remained in the days of Asa his father he took out of the land." The parallel place to this in the Chronicles is: "And his heart was lifted up in the ways of the Lord: moreover he took away the high places and the groves (אשׁרים) out of Judah" (2 Chronicles 17:6; 2 Chronicles 19:8). By removing the Sodomites we understand that he demolished their shrines, their Asherim, their instruments of pollution. When the nests are destroyed the rooks fly.

3. This was to his praise.

(1) Others, similarly placed, failed to make this good use of their advantages. Jehoram, his own son, may be mentioned in sad contrast to him. Several of his ancestors had scandalously departed from the godly ways of their father David. Men will be justified or condemned in the light of such comparisons in the last great day (see Luke 11:31, 32).

(2) God rewarded him with prosperity (2 Chronicles 17:4, 5). He had an army - probably an enrolled militia - of 1,100,000 men. The Philistines, Arabians, and Edomites were subject to him. The note here, that "there was then no king in Edom: a deputy was king," which prefaces the account of his fleet at Ezion-Geber, was designed to explain how Jehoshaphat was able to have a fleet at a port which belonged to Edom (see 1 Kings 9:26), viz., because he appointed the viceroy in Edom which was tributary to him (see Genesis 27:29, 37; 2 Samuel 8:14).

II. THE BLAME OF JEHOSHAPHAT. This seems all to have been connected with the "peace" which he made "with the king of Israel." It appears to have commenced with -

1. The marriage of his son.

(1) Jehoram, the eldest son of Jehoshaphat, and with his consent, took Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, to be his wife. Jehoshaphat's heart was lifted up with the abundance of his "riches and honour," and "joined affinity with Ahab" (see 2 Chronicles 18:1). He became too great to be content with an humble match for his son, and sacrificed godliness to grandeur. He has many imitators in this.

(2) Unequal yoking has ever been prolific in mischief. Athaliah inherited the evil spirit of both her parents, and she led away the heart of Jehoram from God to his ruin. The object of this marriage was to build up the house of Jehoshaphat, but it well-nigh proved its ruin (see 2 Chronicles 22:10, 11). God is the builder of families (see 2 Samuel 7:11, 27; 1 Kings 2:24; 1 Kings 11:38; Psalm 127:1).

2. His friendship with Ahab.

(1) This evil grew out of the marriage. The peace between Israel and Judah, which in the abstract was a benefit, was probably a condition of the marriage. But the friendship between Jehoshaphat and Ahab which followed, was too intimate for the good of the king of Judah's soul

(2) Evils beget evils. This friendship led to Jehosha. plat helping Ahab in his war against Syria, and had nearly cost Jehoshaphat his life. It also sullied his reputation, for he was persuaded into it by Ahab against the voice of Micaiah. This friendship exposed Jehoshaphat to the reproof of the prophet Jehu (2 Chronicles 19:2).

3. His friendship with Ahaziah.

(1) This son of Ahab was no more a companion fit for Jehoshaphat than Ahab. For Ahaziah "walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin: for he served Baal and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the Lord God of Israel, according to all that his father had done."

(2) Yet Jehoshaphat formed a trade alliance with Ahaziah. They jointly fitted out a fleet at the port of Ezion-Geber, on the Red Sea, to sail to Ophir for gold. But for this God rebuked him, and "the ships were broken" in the port (see 2 Chronicles 20:35-37). Let no money consideration, no gold of Ophir, induce godly young men to enter into trade partnerships with the ungodly.

(3) This judgment of God had a salutary effect upon Jehoshaphat. For when Ahaziah would renew the attempt at Ezion-Geber, Jehoshaphat declined (ver. 49). Let us be careful never to repeat a blunder. - J.A.M.







Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish.
I. THIS LAMENTABLE DISASTER TO KING JEHOSHAPHAT'S SHIPPING. The Red Sea is a long and comparatively narrow sheet of water, running in a north-westerly direction from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean. Its extreme length, from the Strait of Babel Mandeb to the Isthmus of Suez, is over 1400 miles, but at the northern end it divides into two arms somewhat like the letter Y, which enclose between them the peninsula of Mount Sinai. The left, or western arm, and the larger of the two, is that with which we are best acquainted, and is called the Gulf of Suez; the right arm runs in a north-easterly direction for upwards of 100 miles, and is known as the Gulf of Akabah. At the head of this latter gulf is the site of the ancient Ezion-geber.

II. THE CAUSE OF THIS DISASTER. It was a judgment from heaven.

III. THE LESSON WHICH IT TEACHES.

1. Do not choose your associates amongst those who fear not the Lord. The ill-matched fleet was hardly launched when disaster came, and the very house of God was made an "Ezion-geber."

2. It is always safest to keep under Christian influences. A man is rarely better than the company he keeps. Ungodliness is infectious: better strengthen what is good in you than put it in peril. Never make a friend of one who would destroy your faith; "go not in the way of evil men." True sympathy of hearts is the golden bond of friendship.

3. The lesson of the text bears upon all business alliances. You will do well even to sacrifice a measure of financial interest and worldly prospect rather than be associated in business with a man who is out of all sympathy with you in religion.

(J. T. Davidson, D. D.)

I. COVETOUSNESS MAY LEAD US INTO FORMING FORBIDDEN ALLIANCES AND ENTERING UPON UNWARRANTED SPECULATIVE ADVENTURES. There can be no doubt that an inordinate thirst for gold tempted Jehoshaphat into this ill-fated project; for we read that he had already "riches and honour in abundance." To obtain riches, indeed, there are no dangers men will not risk, no toils they will not undergo, no perils they will not brave. How often does it happen that a man of considerable capital, from the desire to make much more, enters into partnership in some promising speculation with persons of no piety, though professing godliness himself, and constructs his schemes, and lays his plans, all upon their principles, entirely forgetful that without the blessing of Heaven they can never prosper, and that the blessing of Heaven can never rest upon an enterprise in which the requirements of Heaven are disregarded. God has distinctly declared, that "a companion of fools shall be broken"; and has warned us, that if sinners entice, saying, "Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse; we shall find all precious substance; we shall fill our houses with spoil," we consent not, lest, sharing in the sinner's godless schemes, we share in the sinner's disastrous overthrow, and reap a righteous recompense, if not in actual bankruptcy, in the wreck and ruin of our most costly equipments. Many, we are aware, are the plausible pleas and excuses which may be urged by the man of merchandise, and the adventurous moneymaker, who is greedy of gain, in justification of his joint-stock schemes, and unions of interests in speculative enterprises with men who have not the love of God in their hearts, nor "the fear of God before their eyes."

II. THE PERIL THERE IS TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD IN ALL MERCANTILE ENTERPRISES APART FROM RELIGIOUS PRINCIPLE. Be assured, that all alliances with the enemies of God, whether they be in the master of marriage, where gold is often more looked to than goodness, or whether they be in the partnerships of business, or in the undertakings of speculative enterprise; or again, whether they be for the purpose of political party, to prop up a ministry, and to gain strength, as is supposed, to a government, they will assuredly, sooner or later, bring down disaster in the desolating hurricane of Heaven's displeasure. Over and over again have we seen all such combinations broken up, and scattered to the winds, evincing, that whatever is imagined to be strong through wickedness shall be made contemptible for its weakness. No union can be strong in which God and truth are not the uniting links. Or, to take another case: when oft-occurring calamities lessen the resources of some wealthy company, and a firm in which all men placed unquestioning confidence is overtaken by the desolating tempests of misfortune upon misfortune, and their ships, which were heretofore to be found on every sea, trading for gold, are scattered and wrecked, and bankruptcy is declared, and creditors look blank with astonishment, is there not often reason to believe that the AEolus of the mischief was some ungodly partner, who, because be was thought to be powerful, was taken into the body, without any regard being had to his religious principles. It is only when such alliances are knowingly made that they can, perhaps, be considered criminal. But is there no enterprise upon which man may enter, worthy of his immortal energies, and in which there is no danger of indulging a destructive covetousness, nor of being stricken clown by any desolating disaster. Ah! yes; there is a "merchandise that is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold"; and for this ye need not voyage to the land of Ophir. Jesus Christ says to you, "I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich" — rich in justifying righteousness, rich in the gift of faith, rich in sanctifying influences, rich in moral graces, rich in meekness for glory. Heavenly "wisdom cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx or the sapphire."

(S. Jenner, M. A.)

Three places are mentioned in our text: Ophir, Tarshish, and Ezion-geber. The first tells us of gold to be got; the second of ships built in which to carry it; while the third speaks of the broken ships and the failure.

I. OPHIR, REPRESENTING THE DESIRE. Where Ophir was we do not know with certainty; probably in Arabia or India. It was a district noted for wealth, for Solomon's fleet used to go to Ophir every third year to bring back gold, ivory, and apes. And Jehoshaphat deems his happiness incomplete; he must have the blessings of Ophir added. He has a throne, but he must have gold. He has a crown of precious jewels, won by David from the King of Ammon, but he must have gold; and he tries to get it. And was there any great sin or harm in that? If there was, then alas for us! for there are very few of us who would not like to fasten our boat to one of Jehoshaphat's ships, and follow in his wake to a prize so rich and tempting. We should be quite ready to grant Jehoshaphat "liberty to tow" if he would only throw out his hawser to us. And is this desire for gain wrong? Is it inconsistent with a Christian profession? or injurious to a Christian life? One thing is sure, it is a universal and instinctive desire. Go where you will, you find men hurrying and striving; trapping the furs of the North, gathering the fruits of the South; with careful, plodding industry seeking the treasures of the mine, or the soil, or the sea. Scripture does not condemn the business. It commends it. It approves of doing with our might whatever our hands may find to do. It says the man who is "diligent in business shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men." It rebukes sloth as well as too much sleep, as it says: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise." And what is it keeps these myriad wheels revolving? that makes the world so busy, saving men from an indolence that would be fatal to all the virtues? It is this same desire for gain, the wish to better one's circumstances, Go then to Ophir if you will, and if you can. Be diligent. Leave no stone unturned that lies in your path. Increase your substance; but remember to minister to Christ of that substance.

II. TARSHISH, AND THE DESIGN. Tashish was a busy emporium. Tarshish is still a busy place, and shipbuilders are many. Thought is busy drawing out her plans, putting plank to plank. And when our preparation is complete, we launch our little craft, sending it afloat among that fleet of ventures which every day goes steering out into the deep. And as we launch our ventures, what hope, what exhilaration, what self-congratulation, as we set the ribbons streaming, and flags fluttering, and wine dashing on the prow! How early in life we begin our shipbuilding! Even in boyhood our hearts and hopes are away in the future. We are building our phantom ships with shadowy sails; and, standing on our shadowy deck, how near the shores of Ophir are! We can almost touch them! Others, many others, have failed, but success to us is certain; at least it seems so to us, for boyhood's vision is chromatic, it likes to conjure up images. Now most of us have lived some time in Tarshish; and somewhere on the great deep of commercial life our ships are afloat to-day. Some are ordinary merchantmen, whose sails catch the trade winds, and whose voyages are somewhat slow. Some are a more colossal craft, a kind of steamer; your venture is among the manufactures, with its larger capital and its quicker returns. And some have neither of these; so they launch their little row-beat, and, trusting to the skill and strength of their two hands, they hope for a cargo, though it be but a small one And so Tarshish is left behind: Ezion-geber comes in sight.

II. EZION-GEBER, AND THE DISAPPOINTMENT. This was a city on the shore of the Red Sea, used by Solomon as a naval station, and as his seaside place of residence. Now in our trading we like to give Ezion-geber a wide berth. We must pass by it, for there is no way of reaching Ophir but by Ezion-geber. There is no success, but we must venture something to gain it; there is no prize, but lies behind some hazard. And how many of our ships have gone aground, and gone to pieces! Some have returned, laden with a heavy, precious freight; but how many are now overdue, how many lost! More ships reach Ezion-geber than reach Ophir. What mean these broken ships?

1. Some are broken because they were built of light, flimsy material. The strongest lasts the longest. A bubble is easily blown; it as easily bursts. And some men are always floating bubbles. The gains of ordinary, legitimate trade are safe, but slow; too slow for those who are making haste to be rich. So they go into speculation. Here is a scheme that looks fair enough: it is to do wonders. The prospectus is a perfect kaleidoscope; look into it and you see gold, silver, pearls, villas, carriages, and all kinds of beautiful things! And the bait takes. Without stopping to make inquiries as to the concern, — whether there is anything substantial to back it, whether or not the names are painted figure-heads, — they put their all in the venture. Soon their ship is broken, and they wring their hands in bitter disappointment. But it was their own fault. Their ship had no framework of solid timber. It was a paste-board ship, with a thick coating of paint. Such people deserve to have broken ships. They did not call in a surveyor, they trusted to a chance.

2. Again, some ships are broken because built of unsound timber. How many have gone down to an unmarked ocean-grave because of rotten planks! And many a vessel is built of worthless timber: men put into them planks worm-eaten, sin-eaten. Can you expect these to succeed? Can you bring home health and happiness in schemes that will not stand the light of the Word, or the survey of conscience? Put sin into anything, and you put weakness in it. Put sin into it, and you nail a curse to it. There is no real gain from injustice or fraud.

3. But our ships are often broken because God breaks them. We put no green wood into our ships; nothing but careful, long-seasoned thought. We called in prudence and skill to draw out the plans, and to superintend the building. We kept a good "look-out" at the prow; we watched the winds and currents, and took frequent soundings. Yet we failed; our plans miscarried; our well-equipped vessel ran aground at Ezion-geber. Why is this? why does God give us now success, and then failure? why these frequent and sometimes bitter disappointments?Perhaps it may be to teach us wisdom in our partnerships.

1. Even in business it is not best to be yoked together with unbelievers. A twin-ship may ride the sea more steadily, and perhaps carry heavier cargoes; but if the prows do not point the same way, if you have two sets of charts, and two compasses that do not agree, your craft may be where the Alexandrian corn-ship was — in the place where two seas meet, the fore part fast on the rocks, and the hinder part broken by the violence of the waves.

2. Again, they are broken in order to teach us humility. If every plan of ours succeeded, we should be in danger; we should become vain, perhaps boastful; like Nebuchadnezzar, chanting praises to ourselves, how our own hand has gotten this wealth. And so He disappoints us.

3. Or God breaks them because He sees we have enough already. Possibly larger wealth might only bring a barrenness of soul: for it is the tendency of increasing wealth to damp and dwarf the spiritual life. Its increasing cares push out holy thoughts; mind and heart are more and more given to "earthly things," until the whole life becomes metallic, and religion is simply a creed, or a caricature. In going over the Alps you leave first the secluded valley. Here everything is rich; nature is at her best, covering the fields with corn, and the hillsides with the vines. You ascend and the vines leave you. It is the walnut or the oak that shades your path, and tinkling bells of goats and kine fall musically upon your ear. Higher, and vegetation gets more scant; and instead of the broad leaves of the valley you have the needle-like leaves of the pine and fix. Still higher, and you touch the snows. All is bare and treeless. No fruit, no corn can ripen, for winter claims all the seasons here. And how much is that like many lives! Down in the humbler, lowlier days there was a wealth of heart, though there was poverty of purse. The life was clothed with a beautiful foliage. Sympathies were generous and swift. Hands, feet, and lips steered a glad though a lowly service. But fortune favoured them, wealth poured in upon them. Personal service became more rare, they learned to pay for substitutes, and to serve God by proxy, Rising financially and socially, they declined spiritually. And what are they to-day? Icy Alpine peaks, frowning out of their perpetual cloud, driving the song-birds away, and making the venturesome traveller who calls for a subscription shiver with frost.

4. Or God breaks our ships that we may lean more upon Himself. Our losses after all often prove our truest, richest gains. Our night of failure and disappointment brings the calmer morning, and as we sit down at the Master's feet, gazing in wonder and love upon Him, and taking from His hands the Divine bread, our "hard toiling" and empty nets are forgotten! Let the Lord give us as many failures as He will, so long as He gives us Himself. On the bare, bleak rocks of Ezion-geber if He be with us, we shall say: "Master, it is good to be here. It is better here with Thee than at Ophir without Thee." Nay, let the Lord break all our plans, dash upon the rocks all our prospects, all our earthly hopes; what matter it, if only we get "safe to land!" "Fear not," sang the Roman sailor to his boat, "thou carriest Caesar and his fortunes." So let the storm beat, rocks threaten as they may, we still can sing: "Bear up, O heart! Thou carriest, not Caesar, but Caesar's King — the Christ, the perfect Man, the Living God."

(H. Burton, M. A.)

This subject has especial pertinence to business men.

I. WHERE ONE GOOD MAN MAY SUCCEED ANOTHER MAY FALL. Solomon had done the very thing that Jehoshaphat proposed. What Solomon did prosperously Jehoshaphat vainly attempted. Why was this? The thing itself was right. God would not have one nation isolated from another. He would have unbrotherliness broken down, and men learn in the barter of commerce that "none of us liveth to himself." Countries differ in their productions, and each can furnish something to the wardrobe, table, or adornment of the rest. The merchant has no philanthropy, perhaps, moving him to his commercial ventures, but every ship in the foreign market and bearing its honest freightage to our own is a herald of Him who came to proclaim "goodwill to men." Industry is provoked, and that is good; the poor ore helped into comfort, the international sentiment is strengthened, the war demon is fettered, and the separated parts of the earth are united by mutual dependence and blessing. No one land is made for itself alone.

II. JEHOSHAPHAT'S SHIPS WERE BROKEN TO SEPARATE HIM FROM A SINFUL PARTNERSHIP. Thus was ended his alliance with an idolator. Very stringent was God's word against such a union. And now, the work broken, God's rod expounded the word. And in the clearer, wider times of Christianity, can we be careless about our partnerships? If wrong for a king to join in shipbuilding and a commercial venture with a worshipper of idols, can it be right in us, of choice, to yoke with the wicked in the pursuits of business? Is it not written by Paul, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." Difficulties meet us here, as where, indeed, do they not in the Divine life? Narrow is the way now as ever. A workman may have comrades as spiritually distant from him — more spiritually distant than the sundered roles. What is that Christian man to do? To cut himself adrift from his occupation there because of those ungodly men around him? What is the Christian merchant to do who has an unchristian partner in his firm? Must that partnership be dissolved? How easily can questions accumulate upon us! And what shall we say? We can but lay down principles to be applied to the individual case by Bible-enlightened conscience. Any business, any business transaction which cannot be undertaken as beneath God's eye should not be undertaken by God's children. For a Christian man to choose association, partnership with immoral men is presumption. He may do good, but how much more likely to receive harm? He is but one, and his judgment may be overruled by the verdict of others. Is God only for the Sabbath and sanctuary, the religious meeting, and the dying hour? He is to be acknowledged in all our ways. Business is to be transacted in his fear. We may be united to practices as well as individuals, and these, though familiar by habit, may be a damage to the soul. Good political economy may be very bad Christianity. Any infraction of the royal law is that, whoever may be guilty of it.

III. JEHOSHAPHAT'S SHIPS WERE BROKEN TO GOOD PURPOSE. The ships were built at Ezion-geber, and there were they wrecked. A great loss this; all the outlay and the golden hopes scattered in broken planks and beams and drift-wood upon the seashore. But God was in this thing. "The Lord hath broken thy works," said the prophet to the king. The storm had done, as the Lord would have it, double duty — had broken the merchantmen and Jehoshaphat's alliance with his heathen neighbour. The loss might have been greater. Troubles are mercies if they have with us similar result. Better that a man's possessions go down like a house of cards than that he go down into spiritual destruction. Better than a man s projects be broken up like those ancient Jewish ships, than that he made shipwreck of faith and a pure conscience. Oh, many a man has wrung his hands amid the shattered prosperity of life, and he has cried, "I am ruined," while the clear-eyed angels have been celebrating his deliverance from the maelstrom that sucks down into hell. Welcome such losses! Blessed be such calamities! Let them be sudden and violent! Shall the passenger sleeping in his cabin complain because the captain has roughly aroused him to the fact that the vessel is in the swift, fierce hands of there demon rushing from stem to stern? Better so aroused than to sleep till escape is impossible. That can be no real calamity which wakes a man to the peril of his soul, and flings him on a huge wave up upon the Rock of Ages. A ship was settling down into the sea. Oh, the horror in every eye! "Then shrieked the timid, and stood still the brave!" But lo, a vessel of rescue drew near, and through speaking-trumpet the captain cried, as boats were launched for their succour, "Come all on board with me!" To us comes in sight a shining barque: angels man it, and: evening breezes wafting and lo! the Captain cries, "My name is Jesus, My ship salvation, My haven heaven. Come all on board with Me!" How wise to heed that voice!

(G. T. Coster.)

We have read of a ship departing from one of the New England ports in the early period of the colony: she never reached her destination; she was never heard of afterwards. The narrative went on to say that one pleasant summer afternoon, long after, the New England people were standing by the sea when they saw a vessel approach the shore which they knew by its build and rigging to be the very missing ship. It drew nearer and nearer until every line of rigging was visible, and even the faces of those on board. Then suddenly the vision faded, the sails dissolved in cloud, the spars were lost in the mist-lines of the sky, the hull disappeared beneath the waters, the spectre-barque was no more. So years ago we made Treat ventures, cherished great hopes, but to-day we know how many of these schemes have been dashed, and the ships we sent forth with so much pride and joy are now melting away into nothingness, like the apparitional ship of the legend. Our dreams of prosperity have proved nothing more than dreams; our fond hopes have been confounded. The ships of Jehoshaphat were not lost without a reason, neither are ours, and we ought humbly to learn the lessons of adversity.

I. WE VIEW OUR WRECKED HOPES IN THE LIGHT OF REBUKE. Our misfortune may be a rebuke for some immoral principle that has found expression in our life. I believe that there never was a period in the history of the world when morality was recognised in trade as fully as it is to-day; but this granted, there is plenty of immorality existent there still — much that is dishonest, unfair, selfish. The immorality of trade accounts for many a stagnation, many a crisis, many a black Friday. Our wrecked ships ought to call attention to the principles on which we have sailed them, and if we find that we have entered into immoral partnerships, brought into our business equivocal principles, made guilty concessions for the sake of realising some coveted gain or pleasure, we need not wonder that our ships have been broken, and we must be careful that the bitterest tears we shed over them are tears of penitence. Our misfortune may be a rebuke to the godless temper in which we have conducted our business. God stands at the back of the natural world and the commercial world, acting with infinite freedom throughout. There is a long chain of things, causes, forces, but the last link of the chain is in the hand of God. Let us accept these catastrophics as rebukes for our lack of religious thought and feeling in practical life. Our misfortunes are blessed if they show us our errors and sins, and lead us into truer pathways. There is no more awful thing in life than for a man to succeed in immoral and godless ways; any blasting wind is good that saves us from that. Thank God for disaster if it only opens our eyes and saves our soul.

II. WE MAY VIEW OUR WRECKED SHIPS IN THE LIGHT OF MERCY. We often see men tried by success, and they fail under the trial ignominiously. God knows what each of His children can and ought to bear, and He will not subject us to any unfitting or excessive ordeal. If your ships had brought the treasure you hoped for, you would have lived in a larger house, you would have ridden instead of walking as you do now, a great many more people would have known you than know you now, you would have sat with Dives instead of being the near neighbour of Lazarus.

III. WE MAY VIEW OUR WRECKED SHIPS IN THE LIGHT OF DISCIPLINE. If we do not regard the frustration of our hopes as aiming immediately at the salvation of our soul, we may certainly regard such disasters as designed to effect the development and enrichment of our soul. And is not this development and enrichment of the soul the grand end of life? Is not the top prize of existence the crown of personal and immortal righteousness? God perfects His people in very different ways; some through wealth, some through want, making both in the end equally complete. The mountains of the earth are all glorious, but, like the stars of the sky, they differ in glory. Up to a certain point life is a course of victory and ever-increasing volume of power and success; then, again, it is a story of frustration and failure; one voyage the ships bring the gold, the next they are broken. But let us be sure that in this way God designs to give us the fulness of perfection. The scientists tell us that during the great southern Glacial Period many southern plants were driven to northerly climates, and then again the glaciation of the northern hemisphere drove northern plants to southerly climates; and so on the Organ mountains of Brazil both Arctic and Antarctic plants are found commingled in strange brotherhood, testifying to the alternate glaciation of the two hemispheres. Brethren, as by the world's changing climate the flowers of the two hemispheres have been assembled on these Brazilian mountains, mingling their divergent beauty and sweetness, so God, by alternations of health and sickness, success and failure, joy and sorrow, brings together in the character of His children all the bright graces of the moral universe.

IV. WE MAY VIEW OUR WRECKED SHIPS IN THE LIGHT OF PROPHECY. They may remind us of the coming day when all our gold ships will go down in Jordan's tide, leaving not a floating spar for us to gather. Keep that before you. Some Colonial writer objecting to Chinese immigration, says, "The Chinaman thinks more of a splendid coffin than he does of an upright life." What a strange charge to bring against a Chinaman! Do not many Englishmen think more of a purple coffin than they do of a noble life? Let us not live for a splendid coffin, but for a splendid character. Let us live that we may be true and pure. Whatever this world has given us, it will soon demand from us, just as the waves of the sea suck back the glittering shells with which they first strewed the shore. Do not sail your soul in your ships. Lay up treasure where moth and rust do not corrupt.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

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