And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped…
I. Consider THE MORTAL AND MATERIAL PART OF MAN UNDER THE EMBLEM OF A PITCHER CONTAINING WITHIN IT A LAMP OR FIREBRAND.
1. The pitcher is made of potter's clay, even as man was formed of the dust of the ground.
2. Again, the pitcher's manufacture is brittle, and easily shattered into a thousand fragments.
3. Notice, as a final point of comparison, the intransparent character of the earthen vessel. If we desire to see the beauty and brilliancy of a light, and at the same time to preserve it from extinction by the rude breath of the atmosphere, we must perforce find for it a transparent medium of glass or crystal; hardly a ray will struggle out of the mouth of a pitcher. The human body is an inapt vehicle for certain strong and passionate emotions of the natural soul. We speak, for example, of a grief that is too deep for tears, and much more for the spiritual emotions of a holy and devout soul. Those emotions are rather hindered than furthered by the material body. The mortal frame is not a fitting tabernacle for the display of the exhibition of grace.
II. Consider THE LIGHT WITHIN THE PITCHER; the soul, or immaterial part of man, enclosed for the present within a material framework, the breath of lives breathed into the vessel of clay.
1. First, there is the animal life. And even this lowest species of life is very beautiful and glorious, and worthy of Him from whom it emanates. Like a flame it is most subtle, and, as it were, eludes the grasp and ken of man. How does it interpenetrate the whole realm of nature! And yet you cannot tell where it resides. It is transfused through matter without taking up its abode in any particular locality. Like a flame it glows in the ruddy cheek of health; like a flame it glances and sparkles in the sunlit stream; like a newly-kindled lamp it gradually dawns in the opening bosom of the flower. Learn to bless God for natural as well as for spiritual life.
2. But to turn to the second kind of life — rational — the life of the intellect. This, too, is a very subtle and very beautiful emanation from the Father of life. I spoke of animal life just now as diffused through the whole realm of matter. How does the keen and active intellect of man seek to explore and penetrate through all subjects and substances. How beautiful does the tide of words gush forth from the pen or from the lip! How is the reader or the audience carried along against his will, and captivated by the happiness and beauty of such discourse! And whence this happiness and beauty? It is the lamp of life-rational struggling forth, the spirit within the earthen pitcher; it is the fire-brand of the human mind shaking off on every side its lustrous sparkles.
3. But there was yet a higher life breathed into man at his first creation — spiritual life. And if the two former lives admit of a comparison with a lamp or a fire-brand, how much more apt is such a similitude to set forth the life of the immortal spirit. By the life of the spirit I mean that life which evinces itself in holy affections of joy, love, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. It resembles a flame principally in the circumstance that it aspires towards heaven. Like a flame, moreover, it has a wonderful property of self-propagation. Spiritual life kindled in one little dark corner of the earth will soon, by throwing out sparks as of a fire-brand, light up other beacons near and around it. And, finally, amongst those so brought, there subsists the warmth of spiritual intercourse, which is called, in the technical language of theology, the "communion of saints."
Parallel VersesKJV: And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.
WEB: It was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and its interpretation, that he worshiped; and he returned into the camp of Israel, and said, "Arise; for Yahweh has delivered the army of Midian into your hand!"