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Human Fame

Human Fame

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Published by glennpease
BY SAMUEL PENNIMAN LEEDS


For he (Solomon) was wiser than all men ; than Ethan the
Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of
Mahol. — I. Kings iv. 31.
BY SAMUEL PENNIMAN LEEDS


For he (Solomon) was wiser than all men ; than Ethan the
Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of
Mahol. — I. Kings iv. 31.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 19, 2013
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HUMA FAME BY SAMUEL PEIMA LEEDS For he (Solomon) was wiser than all men ; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol. — I. Kings iv. 31. Who these men were, Ethan and Heman and Chalcol and Darda, we do not know, nor even when they lived. Some have con-  jectured that Ethan and Heman were the singers whose names are mentioned in the fifteenth chapter of I. Chronicles and who were of the tribe of Levi ; others, with more probability, that they were descend-, ants of Judah, mentioned in the second chapter of the same book. Or were they Levites adopted into the tribe of Judah, as some have supposed ? And was it they who wrote the eighty-eighth and eighty- ninth Psalms, which bear the names, re- spectively, of Heman and Ethan? All is uncertain. And of Chalcol and Darda there is still more room for conjecture. Reading the Scriptures, we light upon 52 CHRISTIA PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE these names, as one in traversing some ancient land comes suddenly upon a time- worn, weather-stained column, and finds an inscription recording an unknown name or event of thirty centuries ago. In a nar- ration of the greatness of Solomon we have this simple statement, a statement whose full import was doubtless familiar to
 
those who first read it: " For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol." This is their only record, and here they are mentioned only as foils to another man. In their generation they uttered their sententious wisdom, and their happy say- ings passed from mouth to mouth, becom- ing in some cases, no doubt, proverbs among their people ; proverbs, perhaps, which the traveler hears quoted to-day in the East, or which, perchance, are repeated among ourselves. Their decisions of knotty questions, their judgments in difficult cases of duty, their maxims for the conduct of life, were the delight and admiration of their day, as they themselves were the pride and  joy of the father from whom they sprung ; HUMA FAME 53 and their name and fame were diffused among men. Their names we have still, but their fame, what is it ? We are reminded of another and very similar example in " the Seven Wise Men " of Greece, who lived at least four hundred years later. Who all these were is not quite certain ; and of any of them, even the most eminent, but a few sayings, and these of doubtful authenticity, are preserved. What little we know of the philosophy of Thales, who leads the van in the history of Greek thought, is in words not his own. And what shall we say of those sages of an
 
earlier time who wfere the light of Egypt, or whose maxims were on every tongue in India, but who had not even the fortune to have it recorded of them that some one else was wiser than they ? In times later, much later, how many have there been to whom the title of " wise man " might not unjustly be applied, but whose memory has long since faded! Shall we say, then, that these men lived in vain ? that " Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol," might as well have never lived ? 54 CHRISTIA PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE ot SO. For as Solomon is reported to have said, " I have accomplished things unhoped for, and no work is in vain." Their wisdom has been incorporated with the world's wisdom. If their sayings are not still current, yet they exerted an influ- ence on their contemporaries and immedi- ate successors at least. They shaped the  judgments of men, they elevated human morality, they rebuked and restrained ty- rants and demagogues, they made the world more tolerable to live in. In saying this, I do not forget the frequent impotence of wisdom, proverbial and other. everthe- less, the words and lives of sages have moulded human thought and action. If we are not often guided by them directly, they have so entered into our sentiments as to exert a real though unconscious in- fluence over us. A single happy decision in casuistry, a single high-minded deci-

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