Job 3:19
No thought is more hackneyed than the idea that the present inequalities of life end at death. Yet the practical significance of this idea is never fully realized and acted on. Let us consider its lessons. What does death the leveller teach us?

I. IT TEACHES HUMILITY. The master of an empire will soon own but six feet of soil The worms will shortly feed on one to whom princes bowed as slaves.

"O mighty Caesar! dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure?
But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world: now lies he there,
And none so poor to do him reverence."

II. IT WARNS AGAINST INJUSTICE. The oppressor's sway is but brief. After a few swift years the rod will fall from his hand, and he will lie exactly on a level with the oppressed. How will he face his victims when he and they are in equal state? Christ bids his disciples make themselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that at the end they may receive them into everlasting habitations. There is a generous way of using money and influence that helps to win true friends among our brethren. They who have acted in the opposite way must expect a friendless future.

III. IT ENCOURAGES PATIENCE. The injustice is but temporary. The hard servitude will cease with death. The slave may look forward to his complete liberation. Hope may be the present inspiration of those whose lot is the most bitter, if only they can be assured of a portion in the life beyond the grave.

IV. IT POINTS TO HIGHER THAN EARTHLY THINGS FOR TRUE GREATNESS. If there were nothing above the words of our text, Job's thought would suggest a cynical contempt for all ambition and aspiration, because, if all must end at last in the low plain of death, nothing can be of permanent value. But if there is another world, the collapse of this world should urge us the more to store our treasures in that heavenly region. This does not mean that we are simply to live in preparation for the future beyond death; for we may have heaven in the present life; but it means that we should find true greatness in heavenly things, in spiritual grace and service.

V. IT CALLS US INTO TRUE BROTHERHOOD. Why should we wait for death to abolish the shams and pretensions, the unjust claims and cruel oppressions, of earth? The large liberty of the future should be a type and pattern for more fair dealings in the present. Already we might begin the process of liberation and justice which death will ultimately accomplish. We need not resort to the violent levelling processes of the anarchist. Nihilism is not Christianity. But it is incumbent upon us to do all that is in our power to establish a state of society which recognizes the brotherhood of man. - W.F.A.

The small and great axe there.
Notice the sameness of all men in their birth. One and all are equal by nature. All inherit the sin of their first parents. The necessary consequence following from this truth is that there is a need of a "new birth" for everyone that would inherit everlasting life. There is, however, a distinction among men in their lives. There is a vast difference between men, both in spiritual and in temporal things. The inferences are simply these. If we look at men in matters temporal, and receive the truth that God makes one man great and another man small, we learn to be contented in whatsoever position of life God Himself has placed us. We learn that God is willing to make man that which man ought to be, even though He has to work with such wretched materials as we are made of. But whatever men's differences in life, there is nevertheless a similarity in their death. "The small and the great are there." Whether young or old, all must come to this. "He seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish." "Man being in honour, abideth not."

(H. M. Villiers, M. A.)

1. Death seizeth equally upon all sorts and degrees of men. The small and the great are there. The small cannot escape the hands, or slip through the fingers of death, because they are little; the greatest cannot rescue themselves from the power, or break out of the hands of death, because they are big.

2. That death makes all men equal; or, that all are equal in death. As there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory (1 Corinthians 15:41). So there is one terrestrial glory of kings, and another glory of nobles, and another glory of the common people, and these have not the same glory in common; even among them, one man differs from another man in this worldly glory; but when death comes, there is an end of all degrees, of all distinctions; there the small and the great are the same. There is but one distinction that will outlive death; and death cannot take it away; the distinction of holy and unholy, clean and unclean, believer and an infidel; these distinctions remain after death, and shall remain forever.

(J. Caryl.)

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