Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.I. IT DEADENS EVERY MORAL SENSIBILITY. And what is the evidence of the drunkard himself? On his own declaration, are the principles of virtue as vigorous in his heart now as before? Is he as sensible of delight in contemplating the morally sublime, as much shocked with the morally deformed, as much grieved and disgusted with the depraved and licentious?
II. IT IMPAIRS EVERY INTELLECTUAL FACULTY.
III. IT ACCELERATES DEATH.
IV. IT ENTAILS MISERY ON FAMILIES.
V. IT TERMINATES IN EVERLASTING DESTRUCTION (1 Corinthians 6:10).
(The Weekly Christian Teacher.)
1. A great quantity of precious food is destroyed that strong drink may be extracted from the rubbish.
2. The curative and strengthening properties of our strong drinks, which are so much vaunted, are in reality next to nothing.
3. Strong drink deceives the nation by the vast amount of revenue that it pours into the public treasury.
4. In as far as human friendship is, in any case, dependent on artificial stimulant for the degree of its fervency, it is a worthless counterfeit.
5. Its chief deception lies in the silent, stealthy advances which it makes upon the unsuspecting taster, followed, when the secret approaches have been carried to a certain point, by the sure spring and deathly grip of the raging lion.
(W. Arnot, D. D.)
I. THE MISCHIEF. To the sinner himself. It mocks him, makes a fool of him, promises him that satisfaction which it can never give him. In reflection upon it: it rages in his conscience. It is raging in the body, putting the humours into a ferment. Pretending to be a sociable thing, it renders men unfit for society, for it makes them abusive with their tongues and outrageous in their passions.
II. THE FOLLY. He that is deceived thereby, that suffers himself to be drawn into this sin, when he is so plainly warned of the consequences of it, is not wise: he shows that he has no right sense or consideration of things; and not only so, but he renders himself incapable of getting wisdom; for it is a sin that infatuates and besets men and takes away their heart.
( Matthew Henry.)
It is an honour for a man to cease from strife.
1. The spirit of worldly honour is thus evidently characterised by selfishness. Its fundamental idea is a reference to what the world will think of me; my reputation, my standing — how are they affected? What will secure them in the eyes of the world? Everything must give way to this paramount consideration. I must secure my own good name among those with whom I move, come what may. It is amazing what deeds are done in consequence!
2. It is equally distinguished for its jealousy. Selfishness is always jealous. It cannot have anything of sincere and generous confidence in others. The man whose rule of life is to refer everything to its bearing on its own reputation, to weigh all the words and looks of other men with a view to discover whether they sufficiently acknowledge his claims to consideration acquires thereby an unreasonable sensitiveness of feeling, nourishes an uneasy spirit of jealous suspicion, is annoyed by slight causes, and offended by trifling inadvertences.
3. Thus jealous and revengeful, it is not surprising that the system in question should be despotic also. Such tempers are always so. It rules with arbitrary, inexorable, uncompromising sway. It allows no wavering, no relenting, no appeal. The slave is not mere entirely deprived of his right over his own limbs and labour than the devotee of honour is deprived of a right to his own judgment in all things within her province. He is in the hands of the ministers of honour, and they allow him no retreat. He must go on by that rule which he has adopted. The terrors of disgrace and ruin await him if he draw back. And thus, willing or unwilling — like a victim to the sacrifice — he is led out and immolated on the altar at which he had been proud to worship. This is the consummation to which the system leads. The duel is its tribunal and its place of execution. Worthy close of the progress we have described! It is fit that what began in meanness should issue in blood. The pulpit, beneath which so many young men sit while forming the characters by which they are to influence their country and their fellow-men during many future years of active and public life, would be false to its momentous trust if, at such a moment as this, it failed to lift its warning cry; if it did not attempt to disabuse their minds of the delusive fascination with which the reckless spirit of worldly honour is too often invested. The halls of learning, where Philosophy teaches, and Science utters truth, and Christianity communicates the law of brotherhood and love, would be unworthy of their lofty place if they did not resound with the proclamation that all those great and deathless interests denounce and abhor the masked impostor that, under the name of honour, opens to the aspiring young the highway of sin and death. And therefore it is that I have sought to tear away its disguise and expose its deformity; therefore it is that I would bring forward in its place the true honour, founded in right — exercised in self-respect and respect for all — faithful to all trusts alike — fearing only God. Let the future men of our country hear, and make it theirs.
(H. Ware, D. D.)
The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.
I. LIFE'S PLOUGHING-TIME, OR THE PERIOD OF PREPARATION.
1. Note, that life is the seed-time is universally recognised and taught. The armer knows the time for preparing the soil, and is himself responsible if he does not improve it.
2. The ploughing-time is short, not too long if it is all well spent; the seasons quickly succeed each other. How short is life —
(1) (2) (3) 3. Though short, it is long enough. Life is short; there is no time to lose, but to each is given space for repentance. 4. Unlike the farmer, who may miss one harvest but secure the next, our opportunity once lost never returns. II. THE PALTRY REASONS ASSIGNED AS AN EXCUSE FOR NEGLECT. "The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold." It is palpably unreal, the true reason is unconfessed; but it is found in the fact that the man is a sluggard — he loves not his work. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
(2) (3) 3. Though short, it is long enough. Life is short; there is no time to lose, but to each is given space for repentance. 4. Unlike the farmer, who may miss one harvest but secure the next, our opportunity once lost never returns. II. THE PALTRY REASONS ASSIGNED AS AN EXCUSE FOR NEGLECT. "The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold." It is palpably unreal, the true reason is unconfessed; but it is found in the fact that the man is a sluggard — he loves not his work. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
(3) 3. Though short, it is long enough. Life is short; there is no time to lose, but to each is given space for repentance. 4. Unlike the farmer, who may miss one harvest but secure the next, our opportunity once lost never returns. II. THE PALTRY REASONS ASSIGNED AS AN EXCUSE FOR NEGLECT. "The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold." It is palpably unreal, the true reason is unconfessed; but it is found in the fact that the man is a sluggard — he loves not his work. (D. Thomas, D. D.)
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
I. THE PRINCIPLES WHICH ARE CRYSTALISED IN THIS PICTURESQUE SAYING.
1. Present conduct determines future conditions. Life is a series of epochs, each of which has its destined work, and that being done, all is well; and that being left undone, all is ill. What a man does, and is, settles how he fares. The most trivial act has an influence on all that comes after, and may deflect a man's whole course into altogether different paths. There come to each of us supreme moments in our lives. And if, in all the subordinate and insignificant moments we have not been getting ready for them, but have been nurturing dispositions and acquiring habits, the supreme moment passes us by, and we gain nothing from it. The mystic significance of the trivialities of life is that in them we largely make destiny, and that in them we wholly make character.
2. The easy road is generally the wrong road. There are always obstacles in the way to noble life. Self-denial and rigid self-control, in its two forms — of stopping your ears to the attractions of lower pleasures, and of cheerily encountering difficulties — is an indispensable condition of any life which shall at the last yield a harvest worth the gathering. Nothing worth doing is done but at the cost of difficulty and toil.
3. The season let slip is gone for ever. Opportunity is bald behind, and must be grasped by the forelock. Life is full of tragic might-have-beens.
II. FLASH THE RAYS OF THESE PRINCIPLES ON ONE OR TWO SUBJECTS.
1. In business, do not trust to any way of getting on by dodges, or speculation, or favour, or anything but downright hard work.
2. In your intellects. Make a conscience of making the best of your brains.
3. In the formation of character. Nothing will come to you noble, great, elevating, in that direction unless it is sought, and sought with toil. Don't let yourselves be shaped by accident, by circumstance. You can build yourselves up into forms of beauty by the help of the grace of God.
4. Let these principles applied to religion teach us the wisdom and necessity of beginning the Christian life at the earliest moment. There is a solemn thought still to consider. This life, as a whole, is to the future life as the ploughing-time is to the harvest.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
1. Human co-operation is necessary in the beginnings of the religious life. God does not save men as a rule by sudden movements of His Spirit upon their souls without their co-operation with Him. Spiritual ploughing consists of self-examination in the light of God's Word, followed by self-condemnation, the confession and renunciation of sin, and the other exercises of repentance.
2. Human co-operation in the Divine life is necessary all the way from the beginnings of repentance up to the throne of glory.
3. The text teaches not only the necessity for diligence, but also for courage. The sluggard was afraid of the cold.
4. The ploughing must be done at the right season. Youth is the best time for spiritual ploughing.
(G. A. Bennetts, B. A.)
1. He says that his heart is "cold"; he has not the proper feeling. He forgets —(1) That duty is a debt. The taxpayer does not wait for feeling before he pays the assessment.(2) Work in the line of duty brings feeling, warmth. Friction begets heat. If you lack feeling, search for some unpleasant duty and discharge it.
2. The sinner urges, "The Church is 'cold.'" He says, "No one speaks to me about my soul." Does the traveller at the railway station wait till the train starts and the ticket-office closes because "no one speaks to him"? It is frivolous reasoning, that because Church members fail in their duty I have a right to fail in mine.
3. It is even urged by the impenitent that God is "cold" — indifferent to their salvation. They wait until He is ready — until He moves upon their hearts.Observe —
1. The reasons urged by the impenitent are but shallow pretexts to hide their disinclination. The man would not plough because he was a sluggard.
2. "Therefore," says the text, "shall he beg." The begging is the effect of a sufficient cause. Eternal death is not the result of an accident.
3. They that beg in harvest shall beg in vain, "and have nothing." The prayer of Dives was not answered.
(P. S. Davis.)
I. PLENTY. We must not think that diligence is only manual; it is also mental. It implies thought, forethought, planning, arranging. The general rule is that they who work obtain the things needful for this life, at least in sufficiency.
II. POWER. It is industry, rather than genius, which commends us to our fellow-men, and leads us to positions of influence and power.
III. PERSONAL WORTH. It is diligence, the capacity of taking pains, that gives to a man his actual worth, making him compact and strong and serviceable. The greatest gifts are of little worth, unless there is this guarantee of the conscientious and intelligent employment of them.
(R. F. Horton, D. D.)
HomilistThere are two powers constantly pressing their claims on men: those of duty and convenience. These two generally come into collision here. The sacrificing of duty to convenience is an immense evil, because —
I. IT INVOLVES A SACRIFICE OF THE CULTIVATING SEASON. Sluggard neglects the seed-time. It is so with men who postpone their day of religious decision. The whole of their earthly life is intended as a season for cultivation. But a very large portion of the cultivating season is already gone. The residue of their time is very short, and very uncertain.
II. BECAUSE IT INVOLVES A DISREGARD OF EXISTING FACILITIES. The sluggard had everything else necessary to cultivate his land. He disregarded all, because it was rather cold. It is so with those who are putting off religion.
III. BECAUSE IT INVOLVES THE DECAY OF INDIVIDUAL QUALIFICATION FOR THE WORK. The qualification for any work consists in a resolute determination, and a sufficiency of executive energy. While the sluggard was waiting, these two things were decreasing.
IV. BECAUSE IT INVOLVES THE LOSS OF GREAT PERSONAL ENJOYMENT. He would lose the joy arising from fresh accessions of manly power; from the consciousness of having done his duty; a freedom to engage in any other affair; prospect of reward.
V. BECAUSE IT INVOLVES A CERTAINTY OF ULTIMATE RUIN. Destitution. Degradation. Misery of these enhanced by their being —
3. Irretrievable. Physical indolence brings physical ruin, moral indolence moral ruin.
Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness; but a faithful man, who can find?I. WHAT ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND BY "GOODNESS" AND A "FAITHFUL MAN"? — Goodness often means the Whole of a virtuous or religious temper. In Scripture it is sometimes limited to good affections, and the proper expression of them in our conduct. Goodness here is kindness; and a "faithful man" is one sincere and steady in goodness, who really feels benevolent affections, and is uniform and constant in the practical exercise of them.
1. He is "faithful in goodness," whose general conduct is kind and beneficent. He is affable and courteous in his ordinary conversation, and never without necessity deliberately says that which may hurt or offend. He does not withhold his bounty till it is wrung from him by importunity. His friendly offices reach men's spiritual necessities.
2. He is "faithful in goodness" whose goodness flows from an inward, a sincere, and a religious principle. Goodness sufficiently diffusive in its objects and exercises can only be the fruit of the Spirit of God.
3. The man "faithful in goodness" is steady, constant, and persevering in doing good. Important services to others often require much of diligence, self-denial, and disinterestedness. He does good, expecting nothing again.
II. WHAT IS SUGGESTED when it is said, "A faithful man, who can find"?
1. He reminds us that this is a character not to be found among unconverted sinners.
2. Faithfulness in goodness is uncommon.
3. Fidelity in goodness in a strict sense, and in full perfection, is not the character of the best saints on this side the grave.
III. SOLOMON'S MAXIM, THAT "MOST MEN WILL PROCLAIM EVERY ONE HIS OWN GOODNESS." Men are prone to disguise their true characters under a deceitful mask, and profess sentiments and affections to which their hearts are utter strangers. There are some who, in proclaiming their own goodness, cannot be charged with gross hypocrisy. They are self-deluded. Let every one press after the fidelity in goodness, to which every false display of it is opposed.
(John Erskine, D. D.)
I. THE COMMONNESS OF SELF-APPLAUSE. See it in nations; in churches. Pursue the subject more personally.
1. The profane. These say they mean well; their hearts are good; they are liberal, etc.
2. The Pharisees. What attempts they make to recommend themselves to others!
3. The orthodox. Those who pride themselves on their orthodoxy.
4. The godly. These are often guilty in a measure.
II. THE RARENESS OF SELF-CONSISTENCY. A man faithful —
1. In his civil concerns.
2. In his friendly connections.
3. To his trusts.
4. To his convictions.
5. To his religious professions.Enough has been said —
(1) (2) (3) (W. Jay.)
(2) (3) (W. Jay.)
(3) (W. Jay.)
(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)
I. A PREVALENT VICE. "Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness." Self-conceit — men parading their imaginary merits. It is seen in the religious world, in the way in which certain men get their subscriptions trumpeted in reports, and their charitable doings emblazoned in journals. It is seen in the political world.
1. This vice is an obstruction to self-improvement. The man who prides himself on his own cleverness will never get knowledge; who exults in his own virtue will never advance in genuine goodness. Vanity is in one sense the fruit of ignorance.
2. This vice is socially offensive. Nothing is more offensive in society than vanity.
3. This vice is essentially opposed to Christianity. What says Paul? "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." What says Christ? "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth."
II. A RARE VIRTUE. "But a faithful man, who can find?" What is faithfulness? The man who in this verse is called faithful is in the next represented as just, "walking in his integrity." Each of the three terms represents the same thing.
1. Practically true to our own convictions. Never acting without or against them.
2. Practically true to our own professions. Never breaking promises, swerving from engagements. Now this is a rare virtue.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
"King Edward made me,
Thirty thousand and three,
Take me down and weigh me,
And more you shall find me."But when this bell was taken down at the doom's-day of abbeys, this and two more were found not to weigh twenty thousand. Many tales of fame are found to shrink accordingly.
His children are blessed after him.1. Anxiety about our family is natural, but we shall be wise if we turn it into care about our own character. If we walk before the Lord in integrity, we shall do more to bless our descendants than if we bequeathed them large estates. A father's holy life is a rich legacy for his sons.(1). The upright man leaves his heirs his example, and this in itself will be a mine of true wealth. How many men may trace their success in life to the example of their parents!(2) He leaves them also his repute. Men think all the better of us as the sons of a man who could be trusted, the successors of a tradesman of excellent repute. Oh, that all young men were anxious to keep up the family name!(3) Above all, he leaves his children his prayers and the blessing of a prayer-hearing God, and these make an offspring to be favoured among the sons of men. God will save them even after we are dead. Oh, that they might be saved at once!
2. Our integrity may be God's means of saving our sons and daughters. If they see the truth of our religion proved by our lives, it may be that they will believe in Jesus for them. selves. Lord, fulfil this word to my household!
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Who can say, I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin?I. WHO CAN SAY, I HAVE MADE MY HEART CLEAN? We read of some who have clean hands, which implies an abstinence from outward sins. A clean heart implies more than this; it relates to the inward temper and disposition, to the bias of the will, and the various operations of the affections, as being spiritual and acceptable in the sight of God.
1. Purity of heart is much to be desired.
2. It is the work of the Spirit alone to impart it.
3. There is so much self-righteous pride and vanity in man that many are apt to think they have made their hearts clean.
II. WHO CAN SAY, I AM PURE FROM MY SIN? To be pure from sin is similar to our being in a state of sinless perfection. This no one ever enjoyed in the present life, except Him only who "knew no sin."
1. Who can say that they were never defiled with original sin, or that they are now free from that defilement?
2. Who can say that they are pure from inward sins, the evils of the heart?
3. Who can say that they are wholly free from practical evil in life and conversation?
4. Who can say they are free from every besetting sin, or that they are not defiled with any of those evils to which they are more especially exposed by constitutional habits, or by their occupation or immediate connections. As no one can say with truth that he is pure from his sin, what reason have the best of men to be abased before God!
(B. Beddome, M. A.)
I. THE DUTY OF MORTIFICATION. The cleansing of our hearts, to be pure from sin.
1. The nature of the action. Cleansing. A word implying some change and alteration that is to be made in us. That which is purged was formerly impure. God is pure; the saints are purged and purified. This shows us the nature of sin: it is a matter of uncleanness. Uncleanness is a debasing quality; a loathsome quality; a thing odious in itself and for itself. Cleansing shows the sovereign virtue of grace and repentance. It is of a purging virtue. It hath a power of cleansing us from the pollutions of sin. It is compared to clean water, which washes away filth. To a wind, which, passing, cleanseth. To a fire, that consumes dross and corruption.
2. The property of the agent. The text makes us agents in this great work. Sin is cleansed in our justification, when it is pardoned and forgiven. The act of forgiveness is God's alone. Sin is cleansed by mortification, and regeneration, and conversion. The progress of these acts God works in us, and by us. His Spirit enables us to carry forward this work which He graciously begins, and to cleanse ourselves.
3. The circumstance of time. "I have cleansed." Mortification is a work of long continuance; it requires progress and perseverance.
II. THE OBJECT THAT MUST BE WROUGHT UPON. "The heart." The whole man must be cleansed, but first and specially the heart. The heart is the fountain and original from whence all other uncleannesses do stream and flow. The heart is the lurking-hole, to which sin betakes itself. The heart is the proper seat and residence of sin.
III. THE MEASURE OR DEGREE OF MORTIFICATION. "I am pure from my sin." This is the high aim that a Christian must set to himself, to press forward to perfection. The text lays our sin at our own doors, and so it concerns us to rid ourselves of it. Sin is the offspring of our will. There is the sin of inbred and natural inclination; the sin to which our particular age disposes us: childhood is idle, youth wanton, age covetous; the sins of our calling and vocation: every calling has its special temptations.
IV. THE DIFFICULTY OF MORTIFICATION. This question, "Who?" is not meant for all sorts of sinners. It is not propounded to the profane man, to the grossly ignorant man, or to the negligent and careless man. The question reaches to the best sort of men, those that have made good progress in this work of cleansing and mortification, who, nevertheless, are condemned by their own consciences; who have still leaven to purge out; find some sins of surreption will steal in upon them. As to the question itself. It runs thus: "Who can say?" Not "Who doth say?" or "Who will say?" or "Who dare say?" We may safely resolve the question into a peremptory assertion, and conclude that no man is clear or free from sin. The earnest Christian can say, "Through grace I have broken the strength and dominion of sin."
Divers weights and divers measures; both of them are alike abomination to the Lord.I. DISHONESTY IN TRADE IS VARIOUS IN ITS FORMS. "Divers weights and divers measures... and a false balance."
II. DISHONESTY IN TRADE IS OFFENSIVE TO GOD.
1. Dishonesty is known to Him: His eye is on our business transactions, and no names or pretences, however plausible, can deceive Him.
2. Dishonesty is abhorred by Him. It is "an abomination unto the Lord."
III. DISHONESTY IN TRADE IS GREAT FOLLY AND SIN. This seems to be the idea of the latter clause of ver. 23: "A false balance is not good." The man who is dishonest for gain sacrifices —
1. The greater for the less.
2. The spiritual for the material.
3. The eternal and permanent for the temporal and uncertain.
4. The Divine for the worldly. Dishonesty is arrant folly; the man who gains by fraud is a great loser.Conclusion:
1. Transact business by the rule laid down by our Lord (Matthew 7:12).
2. Transact business as in the sight of God.
(F. Jacox, B. A.)
Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.
I. THE ACTIONS OF CHILDREN BECOME, IN PROCESS OF TIME, THEIR OWN DOINGS. Children move before they act, and they live as mere animals before they act spiritually and morally. In process of time the child acts. All its movements become conduct, the result of a determination to behave itself in a particular way.
1. An act which we are justified in describing as right or wrong, and which we can lawfully call the act of an accountable individual, must be performed by a being endowed with the following capacities: He must be able to conceive the act before its performance, mentally to see the thing done before doing it. He must be capable of appreciating motives for and against the action. He must know good and evil. He must have the power of saying, "I will," and "I will not." The "doings" of an individual are those acts which he rationally and intentionally performs.
2. A child, in course of a few years, exhibits the capabilities of which we speak.
3. Then it is, whether it comes early or late, that the actions of a child are his "doings." He now performs the functions of a rational creature.
II. WHEN THE ACTIONS OF CHILDREN BECOME THEIR DOINGS THE CHILDREN ARE RECOGNISED AS ACCOUNTABLE.
1. God recognises the child as the author of its own actions: He sees the doings of the child spring from a motive and principle within. He now holds the child guilty for its transgressions of His law. The child is now exposed to punishment; and to escape punishment, a dispensation of mercy to that individual child is necessary. God's treatment of the child recognises the child's doings.
2. The god of evil knows, by the doings of children, with whom and with what he has to do. He cannot, as God, search the heart, but he can observe the principles, tastes, and inclinations. He studies the child's nature that he may know best how to injure it.
3. The angelic inhabitants of heaven recognise children in their ministrations. A child who is an heir of salvation is known to the angels — they minister to him, performing offices of kindness and services of charity, ordained by the God of love.
4. Children are recognised as accountable by their fellow human beings. Children are known to other children, and known to men.
III. FROM THESE TWO FACTS DRAW CERTAIN INFERENCES.
1. The evils of sin are not escaped by the childhood of the sinner. God does not hold him guiltless because he is a child. But the Supreme Lawgiver does not account the child a man. Sin brings darkness into a child's mind, and disquiet into a child's heart, and gloom over a child's spirit. There are wages paid now, and paid in the spiritual condition of the early sinner, and those wages are death.
2. As a child, he is exerting influence for good or for evil. The measure of the influence is not so considerable as in the case of the adult, but there is influence.
3. All the differences of human character are not traceable to education. Some of these differences may be thus explained, but not all, and not the greatest. The earliest doings of a child do not make manifest his education, but himself.
4. The character of the future man is often indicated by the character of the present child. If the earliest actions of children be observed, they will indicate the character which the child so constituted will form.
5. God does not treat a generation of children en masse, but individually. There is a personality about every child.
6. If a child be known by his doings, one test of character is universally employed by the Judge of all. The decisions of the final judgment are according to that a man hath done, whether good or bad. The child and the man are under one Lawgiver.
1. There will be love to God, which will make you try to please Him, and to care for everything which belongs to your heavenly Father, His book, His house, His day.
2. There will be obedience to parents. Obedience to our parents on earth leads up naturally and pleasantly to obedience to our Father which is in heaven.
3. There will be truthfulness. Two great causes of untruthfulness are cowardice and the habit of exaggeration. Do not use overstrained expressions. Speak in a natural, straightforward, simple way.
4. There will be conscientiousness. The conscientious person will do his best, as in God's sight. He will do his work thoroughly. He will be trustworthy. You may depend upon him. No one can be a Christian unless he is conscientious in his work, and conscientious in all his dealings with others.
5. There will be two things found in you, modesty and temperance. Would you think a pert girl or a saucy boy at all like Christ? By "temperance" I mean self-control, self-restraint. Greediness, the desire to get all you can for yourself, is the opposite of it. Temperance teaches us where to stop — shows us how to keep ourselves within bounds. All these good things are fruits of the Spirit.
(G. Calthrop, M. A.)
1. Children will discover themselves. One may soon see what their temper is, and which way their inclination leads them, according as their constitution is. Children have not learned the art of dissembling and concealing their bent as grown people have.
2. Parents should observe their children, that they may discover their disposition and genius, and both manage and dispose of them accordingly, drive the nail that will go, and draw out that which goes amiss. Wisdom is herein profitable to direct.
( Matthew Henry.)
I. WHAT IS MEANT BY "DOINGS" HERE?
1. The tempers a child indulges in. These tempers are fretful, or patient, or selfish, or generous.
2. The ill habits he forms. Idle, or industrious, or careless, or careful, or dilatory, or prompt.
3. The company he keeps. The choice of companions is a very important thing.
II. WHAT MAY BE KNOWN OF A CHILD BY HIS DOINGS? You are making your fortunes now every day. The tempers you are indulging, the habits you are forming, and the company you are keeping are all helping to make them. How careful you should be to find out what is wrong in your tempers and habits, and pray to God to help you to correct it at once.
(R. Newton, D. D.)
1. We are not to be judged merely by our sayings. Many people would like to be judged that way.
2. We are not to be judged only by our appearance.
3. We can only be known by our doings. But who is it knows us thus? In this way our fellow-men know us. In this way, above all, God knows us. If we are to be doing always what we ought to do, we shall need a helper.(1) Because of our inclinations to do evil.(2) Because we have so many powerful enemies. Give the story of Telemachus and Mentor, and show that Jesus is our ever-present friend, helper, and guide.
(R. Tuck, B. A.)
(G. Calthrop, M. A.)
The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them.1. There are wise men in the world who will not admit that it was God who made the seeing eye, or the hearing ear, or anything else; who will rather assume that the ear and the eye made themselves by a gradual process of development. And you may not be able to withstand their arguments. The text may have an inexpressible value for you. If you can quote against the wise the words of a wiser, you are on firm ground. And the vast majority of the wisest and best men of every age concur with Solomon.
2. There is something in the text suitable for young children. When Solomon spoke of the hearing ear, he meant to remind us that some have ears which do not hear, and eyes that do not see. What we hear in any utterance depends on what we bring the power of hearing, just as what we see in any scene depends on what we bring the power of seeing. We are all apt to overlook that which is unknown to us. What we do not understand, or do not expect, excites no curiosity, touches no interest, rouses no attention; and hence it slips by unseen, unheard — just as the snapping of a slender twig might say nothing to us, and yet might tell a sportsman where the wild creature was which he was trying to shoot down. If God makes the hearing ear and the seeing eye, He expects us to make them too. He expects us to use and train these wonderful faculties. He rewards us in proportion as we meet, or disappoint, His expectation and our duty.
3. When the Bible speaks of deaf men who hear, and blind men who see, it almost always refers to men's moral condition, to their attitude towards truth, righteousness, and God, as well as to the use they make of their mental faculties and capacities. It praises them for seeing and hearing as for an act of virtue and piety; it blames them for not seeing and hearing as for a sin. Knowledge without love is at once a poor and a perilous endowment. To be clever without being good, without even trying to be good, is only to deserve, and to secure, a severer condemnation. You have not even begun to be truly wise until you love and reverence God; until, from reverence and love for Him, you set yourselves to know and do that which is right, however hard it may be, and refuse to do that which is wrong, however easy and pleasant it may look. Men also prize goodness more than knowledge and cleverness, and value a kind heart more than even a full and well-trained mind. Be good, then, if you would be wise, if you would prove that you have an eye that sees and an ear to hear and obey. To be good no doubt is hard work. But that is the very reason why God asks you to trust in Him and to lean on Him. He is good, and He both can and will make you good, if you will let Him.
(S. Cox, D. D.)
I. THAT GOD SHOULD BE STUDIED IN THESE ORGANS.
1. In them Divine wisdom is manifest. Take —(1) The mechanism of these organs. "The eye, by its admirable combination of coats and humours, and lenses, produces on the retina, or expansion of nerve at the back of the socket or bony cavity in which it is so securely lodged, a distinct picture of the minutest or largest object; so that, on a space that is less than an inch in diameter, a landscape of miles in extent, with all its variety of scenery is depicted with perfect exactness of relative proportion in all its parts." Nor is the ear less wonderful. It is a complicated mechanism lying wholly within the body, showing only the wider outer porch through which the sound enters. It conveys the sounds through various chambers to the innermost extremities of those nerves which bear the messages to the brain. So delicate is this organ, that it catches the softest whispers and conveys them to the soul, and so strong that it can bear the roll of the loudest thunders into the chamber of its mistress.(2) The adaptation of these organs. How exquisitely suited they are to the offices they have to fulfil! "Conveying the impressions of the outer universe to the spiritual dweller within, we can," says an eminent author, "by attending to the laws of vision and sound, produce something that, in structure and in mechanism or physical effect, bears some analogy to them. But this is not sight; this is not hearing. These imply perception. Oh, this is the highest and deepest wonder of all! The mechanical structure we can trace out and demonstrate. We can show how by the laws of transmission and refraction, the picture is made on the retina of the eye; and how, by the laws of sound, the yielding, tremulous, undulating air affects the tympanum or drum of the ear. But we can get no farther. How it is that the mind receives its perceptions, how it is that it is affected, what is the nature of nervous influence, or of the process by which, through the medium of the nerves and the brain, thought is produced on the mind — of all this we are profoundly ignorant.
2. In them Divine goodness is manifest.
3. In them Divine intelligence is symbolised.
II. THAT GOD SHOULD BE SERVED BY THESE ORGANS. The service for which God intends us to use them is to convey into our understandings His ideas, into our hearts His Spirit; translate the sensations they convey to us into Divine ideas; apply Divine ideas to the formation of our characters. God's ideas should become at once the spring and rule of all our activities.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
(J. Slade, M. A.)
(Charles Kingsley, M. A.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.
I. SOME GENERAL RULES WHICH GOD HAS GIVEN FOR THE DIRECTION OF THOSE WHO WISH TO KNOW AND DO THEIR DUTY.
1. The rule that requires us to love our neighbour as ourselves.
2. The rule which forbids us to covet any part of our neighbour's possessions. The command is express and comprehensive. We are not forbidden to desire the property of another, on fair and equitable terms. It forbids every desire to increase our property at our neighbour's expense.
3. We are commanded to observe in all our transactions the rules of justice, truth, and sincerity.
4. We are directed in all our transactions to remember that the eye of God is upon us.
II. APPLY THESE RULES AND SHOW WHAT THEY REQUIRE, WHAT THEY FORBID, AND WHEN THEY ARE VIOLATED.
1. What do these rules require of us as subjects or members of civil society? There is an implied contract or agreement between a government and its subjects, by which the subjects engage to give a portion of their property in exchange for the blessings of protection, social order, and security.
2. The application of these rules to the common pecuniary transactions of life. They forbid every wish, and much more every attempt, to defraud or deceive our neighbour. And this on the part of both buyer and seller. We must put ourselves in the place of our neighbour, and do as we would be done by. We are always to act as we would do if our fellow-creatures could see our hearts.
3. Apply these rules to our past conduct, that we may ascertain how far we have observed, and in what instances we have disregarded them. God takes special cognisance of the wrongs which are done by artifice, fraud, and deceit, and which human laws cannot prevent or discover. Any who have violated these rules in their pecuniary transactions are required to repent, and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance. There is no repentance, and of course no forgiveness, without restitution. How can a man repent of iniquity who still retains the wages of iniquity? And these rules must regulate our future transactions if we mean to be the real subjects of Christ. They are the laws of His kingdom, which you have covenanted to obey.
(E. Payson, D. D.)
i.e., not carried out with a full sense of what is right from man to man.
(J. E. Clarke, M. A.)
Vili vultis emere, et caro vendere' ('You all wish to buy cheap, and to sell dear'), a sentence generally applauded; every one, even the most trifling (as Augustine observes) finding the confirming witness in his own conscience." There is no harm in buying in the cheapest market and selling in the dearest. In fact, this is both wise and right in the vendor. Some regard the word "buyer" here in the sense of possessor, and then the idea of the passage is changed, and it is this — that a man attaches greater value to a thing after he has lost it than before. This is a law of human nature. The lost piece of silver, the lost sheep, the lost son. But it is more like Solomon to regard the text as meaning what it says — the "buyer." We offer two remarks upon the passage.
I. That it reveals a COMMON COMMERCIAL PRACTICE. The "buyer" depreciates the commodity in the process of purchase. He does this in order to get it at a price below its worth. And when he succeeds, and it comes legally into his possession, the value of the article is not only properly estimated, but greatly exaggerated. "He boasteth" —
1. Because his vanity has been gratified. He feels that he has done a clever thing. "He boasteth" —
2. Because his greed has been gratified.
II. That it reveals an IMMORAL COMMERCIAL PRACTICE.
1. There is falsehood.
2. There is dishonesty.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
There is gold, and a multitude of rubies.
1. There is, then, a design for which all things were made and ordained, going beyond the things themselves. To say that things were made, or that the arrangements and relations of things were ordained, for their own sake, is a proposition without meaning. The world, its structure, productions, laws, and events, have no good nor evil in them — none, but as they produce these results in the experience of living creatures. The end, then, of the inanimate creation is the welfare of the living, and, therefore, especially of the intelligent creation. But the welfare of human beings lies essentially in their moral culture. We are not appointed to pass through this life barely that we may live. We are not impelled, both by disposition and necessity, to buy and sell, barely that we may do it; nor to get gain, barely that we may get it. There is an end in business beyond supply. There is an object in the acquisition of wealth beyond success. There is a final cause of human traffic, and that is virtue. With this view of the moral end of business falls in the constant doctrine of all elevated philosophy and true religion. Life, say the expounders of every creed, is a probation. Now, if anything deserves to be considered as a part of that probation, it is business. Life, say the wise, is a school. But the end of a lesson is that something be learned; and the end of business is, that truth, rectitude, virtue, be learned. This is the ultimate design proposed by Heaven, and it is a design which every wise man, engaged in that calling, will propose to himself. It is no extravagance, therefore, but the simple assertion of a truth, to say to a man so engaged, and to say emphatically, "You have an end to gain beyond success, and that is the moral rectitude of your own mind."
2. That business is so exquisitely adapted to accomplish that purpose, is another argument with me to prove that such, in the intention of its Ordainer, was its design. An honest man, a man who sincerely desires to attain to a lofty and unbending uprightness, could scarcely seek a discipline more perfectly fitted to that end than the discipline of trade. For what is trade? It is the constant adjustment of the claims of different parties, a man's self being one of the parties. This competition of rights and interests might not invade the solitary study, or the separate tasks of the workshop, or the labours of the silent field, once a day; but it presses upon the merchant and trader continually. Do you say that it presses too hard? Then, I reply, must the sense of rectitude be made the stronger to meet the trial. Every plea of this nature is an argument for strenuous moral effort. A man must do more than to attain to punctilious honesty in his actions; he must train his whole soul, his judgment, his sentiments and affections, to uprightness, candour, and good-will. I have thus attempted to show that business has an ultimate, moral end — one going beyond the accumulation of property.
3. This may also be shown to be true, not only on the scale of our private affairs, but on the great theatre of history. Commerce has always been an instrument in the hands of Providence for accomplishing nobler ends than promoting the wealth of nations. It has been the grand civiliser of nations. With its earliest birth on the Mediterranean shore, freedom was born. Phoenicia, the merchants of whose cities, Tyre and Sidon, were accounted princes; the Hebrew commonwealth, which carried on a trade through those parts; the Grecian, Carthaginian, and Roman States, were not only the freest, but they were the only free states of antiquity. In the middle ages commerce broke down in Europe, the feudal system, raising up, in the Hanse Towns, throughout Germany, Sweden, and Norway, a body of men who were able to cope with barons and kings, and to wrest from them their free charters and rightful privileges. In England its influence is proverbial; the sheet-anchor, it has long been considered, of her unequalled prosperity and intelligence. Its moral influences are the only ones of which we stand in any doubt, and these, it need not be said, are of unequalled importance. The philanthropist, the Christian, are all bound to watch these influences with the closest attention, and to do all in their power to guard and elevate them. It is upon this point that I wish especially to insist; but there are one or two topics that may previously claim some attention.(1) If, then, business is a moral dispensation, and its highest end is moral, I shall venture to call in question the commonly supposed desirableness of escaping from it — the idea which prevails with so many of making a fortune in a few years, and afterwards of retiring to a state of leisure. If business really is a scene of worthy employment and of high moral action, I do not see why the moderate pursuit of it should not be laid down in the plan of entire active life; and why, upon this plan, a man should not determine to give only so much time each day to his avocations as would be compatible with such a plan; only so much time, in other words, as will be compatible with the daily enjoyment of life, with reading, society, domestic intercourse, and all the duties of philanthropy and devotion.(2) Another topic is the rage for speculation. I wish to speak of it now in a particular view — as interfering, that is to say, with the moral end of business. It is not looking to diligence and fidelity for a fair reward, but to change and chance for a fortunate turn. It is drawing away men's minds from the healthful processes of sober industry and attention to business, and leading them to wait in feverish excitement as at the wheel of a lottery. To do business and get gain, honestly and conscientiously, is a good thing. It is useful discipline of the character. I look upon a man who has acquired wealth, in a laudable, conscientious, and generous pursuit of business, not only with a respect far beyond what I can feel for his wealth — for which indeed, abstractly, I can feel none at all — but with the distinct feeling that he has acquired something far more valuable than opulence. But for this discipline of the character, for the reasonableness and rectitude of mind which a regular business intercourse may form, speculation furnishes but a narrow field, if any at all; such speculation, I mean, as has lately created a popular frenzy in this country about the sudden acquisition of property. This insane passion for accumulation, ever ready, when circumstances favour, to seize upon the public mind, is that "love of money which is the root of all evil," that "covetousness which is idolatry." It springs from an undue, an idolatrous estimate of the value of property. Many are feeling that nothing — nothing will do for them or for their children but wealth; not a good character, not well-trained and well-exerted faculties, not virtue, not the hope of heaven — nothing but wealth. It is their god, and the god of their families.
(O. Dewey, D. D.)
The lips of knowledge are a precious Jewel
I. THE POWER OF SPEECH IS A GREAT ENDOWMENT. One of the essential distinctions between us and the mere animal. Expression is thus given to our power of thinking, which is another great endowment. The tongue is the heart's interpreter. Used as it may and ought to be, its influence is luminous as the light and fragrant as the rose. But what mischief it may work!
II. WE HAVE GREAT RESPONSIBILITY IN THE MATTER OF OUR SPEAKING. All our endowments involve an accountability proportionate to their magnitude and importance, and speech is no exception. The impression seems common that our words are of little importance, and that while actions must be accounted for, speaking is but a voice, and will not be recorded, or appear again to confront us. Every serious person must be sensible how heavily the burden of sins of speech presses on him.
III. GOD HAS AFFORDED FULNESS OF INSTRUCTION IN REGARD TO OUR BEARING OF THIS RESPONSIBILITY. The instruction is, for the most part, general in its nature.
1. Truth. Departure from truth is specially condemned. Untruth includes exaggerated statements.
2. Sincerity. Heart and lips must never be at variance.
3. Purity. This excludes levity in speaking of holy things.
4. Love. This will induce to active good.
IV. SPEECH IS CAPABLE OF CONTROL. How is it to be bridled?
1. By right thinking.
2. By watchfulness.
3. By correct habits.
4. By prayer.He that seemeth to be religious and bridleth not his tongue, that man's religion is vain.
(H. Wilkes, D. D.)
Every purpose is established by counsel.conciliabula and scenes of high debate. How full is the Acts of the Apostles of mentions of 'disputation,' 'conference,' 'reasoning,' and of such expressions as these: 'They came together to consider the matter,' 'It pleased the apostles and elders and the whole Church,' 'Being assembled together with one accord,' and the like. How strong are the injunctions 'to assemble themselves,' 'to come together in the assembly,' 'to be gathered together with one spirit'!"
1. It is a familiar experience that we can tune ourselves for any work of our own by placing ourselves in touch with some kindred work by a master hand. By this simple method we can in some measure "kindle when we will the fire which in the heart resides." Our spirits drink in refreshment from those living founts of inspiration. What others have consummately done lends us at least the impulse to go and do likewise.
2. By withdrawing ourselves, if only for a brief space, from the absorbing interests, the keen controversies, of the present into the serener regions of the past, where principles and men and methods can be more impartially studied, by going "back to the Bible" in the modest but unflinching spirit, and with the enriched equipment of scientific research — our minds are tranquillised and balanced as well as quickened and enlightened for dealing with the urgent needs, the burning questions, the conflicting points of view and policies of the hour. So by God's help may it be with us as we rapidly survey "the type and model" of Christian councils of every kind and degree, and thus look for guiding principles, practical indications, and spiritual tone to "the rock whence we are hewn."
(Bp. Jayne, D. D.)
Meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.
(J. Arthur Thomson, M. A.)
An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.
I. IN THE MATERIAL WORLD. Tremendous forces have operated through ages to bring the earth into its present condition. Geological, chemical, astronomical science tell of changes slow, silent, but persistent, and therefore permanent.
II. IN THE INTELLECTUAL WORLD. The human mind has a physical basis. As grew the material, so grows the mental world. A process here, a progress there. Ideas endure hardness in their battle for recognition. Doctrines are developed according to this law of progress. Scripture unfolds like herbage in the field. Intellectual power is secured by labour and persistent effort. Nature reveals her secrets, history discloses the past, revelation makes known her truth, only to the studious and devout.
III. IN THE SPIRITUAL WORLD. Scripture has styled the Almighty "the God of all patience." His works bear evidence of finish and completeness. Why does He deliberate, tarry, and hasten not? Let this God of patience interpret His own plans. With Him millenniums are as days. Sudden movements in grace, as in nature, are of the destructive kind. Gentle dews, not crashing storms, make good pasture. A lamb, not the lion, is final conqueror, and the servant who sows and waits, prays and persists, believes and does not make haste, squall have a sure reward.
(Frank Rector, M. A.)
And a false balance is not good.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Man's goings are of the Lord: how can a man then understand his own way?I. THE TEXT IN ITS NEGATIVE BEARINGS.
2. Appeal to history. Hazael (2 Kings 8:11).
3. Appeal to your own experience.Is it not true that when you trust to your own strength you are apt to trifle with temptation?
II. THE TEXT IN ITS POSITIVE BEARINGS. "Man's goings are of the Lord." His goings in the path of duty are. What is true of duty is true also of the conduct of life. From this gather encouragement, and nourish humility. Check all presumptuous schemes as to the future.
(A. Nicholson, B. A.)
It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy.
I. THE APPROPRIATING OF THE CONSECRATED TO PERSONAL USE. The text speaks of the man who "devoureth that which is holy." This was the sin of Achan: he robbed the treasury of the Lord (Joshua 6:19; Joshua 7:1). "Will a man rob God?" (Malachi 3:8, 9). This is done now in England.
1. In the personal appropriations of ecclesiastical endowments.
2. In the assumption of sacred offices for personal ends.
3. In the adoption of the Christian profession from motives of personal interest.
II. THE ENDEAVOURING TO AVOID THE FULFILMENT OF RELIGIOUS VOWS. "And after vows to make inquiry." There are three ideas that must not be attached to this expression.
1. The idea that it is wrong to make religious vows is not here.
2. The idea that it is wrong to break improper vows is not here.
3. The idea that it is wrong to think upon the vow after it is made is not here.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them
(J. Parker, D. D.)
The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord.
1. Scientific men give one definition of conscience, while popular usage sanctions another materially different. In every-day usage the word is used to indicate the whole moral nature of man. When a man resists temptation he says, "My conscience will not let me do it." Conscience includes three things: the perception of right or wrong; the judgment of a particular action as being right or wrong; the feeling of pleasure or remorse which follows right or wrong action. The Bible usage of the word is the same as our ordinary usage in every-day speech. In Scripture usage, conscience includes the perception, the judgment, and the feeling. Conscience is not an Old Testament term. And, singularly enough, the word was never used in the teaching of the Lord Jesus.
2. Paul's most frequent word for the function of conscience is the figurative word "witness." Conscience is a witness testifying in the soul. A witness is one who testifies, one who tells clearly what he knows of a matter. To what facts or truths does conscience bear testimony. It testifies to the existence of a fundamental distinction between right and wrong. It testifies that right ought to be done, and that wrong ought not to be done. It convicts a man when wrong has been done. Its witness becomes a check on man's doings.
(Jesse T. Whitley.)
i.e., its operations and manner of performing them are similar to those of a lamp, and it is supported in them by Jehovah spiritually, as a lamp is in nature physically. In a lamp are four things.
1. A vessel.
2. A substance capable of being illuminated.
3. Necessity for kindling it.
4. Constant recruits of oil to supply it and keep it burning. These particulars are as spiritually true in the soul of man.
I. THE SOUL HAS A VESSEL IN WHICH IT IS ENCLOSED AND CONTAINED. The body is the vessel of this lamp of Jehovah.
II. THE SOUL, THOUGH CAPABLE OF RECEIVING ILLUMINATION FROM GOD, IS IN ITSELF ABSOLUTELY DARK. When, by that grand and original sin at the fall, the light that was in us became darkness, how great was that darkness! By the fall this most glorious excellency and perfection of our nature, spiritual discernment by faith, was lost, and we became like the beasts.
III. CHRIST WAS SENT TO KINDLE A LIGHT IN THE SOUL. "A light to lighten the Gentiles." "The true light that lighteth (the lamp of) every one coming into the world." When the light of Jehovah is lighted in the soul of man, and not overwhelmed by sensuality, it conquers and triumphs over the natural darkness that is in us. When the Divine light is the agent in the soul, the moment it meets with any darkness to impede and obstruct its operations it at once recoils, and by that means admonishes us of it; after which it never rests till it has either expelled it or conformed it to itself.
IV. SPIRITUAL OIL IS NECESSARY TO KEEP THE LIGHT ALIVE IN OUR HEARTS. The Holy Spirit is the Divine oil that must feed and nourish our lamps. Inferences for our direction in faith and practice:
1. If the body is a vessel to contain the heavenly lamp, how few are seeking to "possess this vessel in sanctification and honour."
2. If the soul be dark by nature, what becomes of that idol of the deists, the "light of nature"?
3. If Christ be the only person that can lighten our darkness, to Him let every man go.
4. Let us not make the fatal mistake of setting out to meet the Bridegroom, without taking oil in our vessels, with our lamps.
(C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)
I. MAN IS A GREAT BEING. It is said alone of man, "In the image of God created He him." This singles out man as the greatest being on earth. Every earnest, intelligent, and devout man is in some degree conscious of an inherent greatness. Conscious personality is a unique power. In the moral realm every man is a sovereign who conceives plans and executes purposes of high significance and far-reaching consequences. Man's conscious personality survives the shock of death. Man is the son of God. The sons of God are partakers of the Divine nature. This raises them to a plane that is at an infinite distance from the creatures next to them in the scale of existence. Really true greatness consists in likeness to God. A good man is one of the greatest works of God.
II. MAN IS DIVINELY ILLUMINATED.
1. The intellectual light of man is from God.
2. The light of conscience is from God. It is a pure, clear flame, that reveals to us the character of our thoughts and purposes before they become actions.
3. The spiritual light in man is from God. Savage and civilised, the world over, worship some god. The lamp that lights all men who come into the world, and leads them to worship, is doubtless of God's kindling. In worship, the soul pays its filial homage to God.
III. MAN HAS BEEN ILLUMINATED FOR A DIVINE PURPOSE. God created all things for His own glory. Men of great intellectual powers are placed by God in the midst of the world's moral darkness, that by their superior light they might scatter the mental night of their fellows. Great intellects possess a tremendous power for good or evil. "Man is like the candle lighted by the Spirit of God, radiating the glory of God's nature, and itself glorified by the Divine fire. But some men are unlighted candles."
(D. Rhys Jenkins.)
The glory of young men is their strength.
(G. W. Conder.)
I. THE STRENGTH OF YOUNG MANHOOD SHOULD BE CONTROLLED. Power is productive of good only when its energies are guided in right channels and directed to right uses by intelligence and wisdom. When power becomes master and goes out from beneath the hand of wise control it is always destructive. The locomotive, Titan giant serving men meekly so long as they hold its movements obedient to their will, goes crashing into the train ahead, because the engineer has lost control of his iron steed; and the shrieks of the wounded and the moans of the dying tell us of the awful death-dealing ability of great power which has become a law to itself. The waters behind the dam at South Fork were harmless, except potentially, so long as they were controlled. They served only to further the peaceful industries of the mountain valley. But, breaking the bonds and acknowledging no ruler but anarchy, they spread desolation in their wake. Powerful though machinery and the forces of nature are, they are pigmies in comparison with a young man. He has done more than they all. What the world is to-day it has been made by young men. "Through all time, the greatest victories have been achieved, the wisest and most beneficent reforms instituted, the greatest Christian enterprises undertaken, and the most decided impetus given to the advance of the world by men who have "begun to be about thirty years of age." Bichat, French physician and physiologist, had revolutionised the practice of medicine and died before he was thirty-one. John Wesley founded the Methodist Church before he was thirty-six. Luther was thirty-three when he nailed his theses to the door of Wittenberg Church. Wilberforce had compelled England to free all her slaves by the time he was thirty-two. At the same age Watt had invented the steam-engine. But on the other hand the destructive influence of the strength of young manhood, when that strength is not wisely controlled, is seen when we glance at the rosters of our jails and penal institutions and discover the fact that the inmates of those institutions are for the most part young men. History also reminds us that Alexander the Great had made his name odious, conqueror of the world though he was, by the time he was thirty-three, and Napoleon had come to ignominy by the time he was thirty-four.
II. BUT THIS STRENGTH OF YOUNG MANHOOD SHOULD ALSO BE CONSERVED, One of the most difficult things to impress upon young men is the fact they will not always be overflowing, as they are in their teens and twenties, with strength and spirits. When God makes a man, He puts into him a certain amount of life-force. When that is consumed, there is no way in which it may be replaced. Ruskin overtaxed himself in his younger days, with the result that the lamp of his genius burned but dimly in later life. Walter Scott did the same, and suffered the same fate. Scientists tell us that there is no reason why a man should not live past the century mark in years, if he be well born and if he conserve his strength. It lies within the power of every well-born man so to use the strength which nature has given him that, as the psalmist says, "in old age he shall be fat and flourishing."
III. THIS STRENGTH OF YOUNG MEN SHOULD ALSO BE CONCENTRATED. "This one thing I do." Success in life depends upon concentration of one's energies upon one thing. Paul was a successful preacher because he was "determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified." The sun casts a genial warmth over a large area, but if we wish to light a fire by it we must take the sun-glass and concentrate its rays upon one point.
IV. THIS POWER SHOULD ALSO BE CONSECRATED. This is the capstone and the keystone of all that we have thus far pointed out. "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." The subordination of every power and faculty to the law contained in the great commandment will in itself lead to the control, the conservation, and the concentration of power and faculty.
(R. S. Young.)
1. We must learn the laws of our physical well-being.
2. We must act and live up to these laws. The laws of health are — pure air, suitable food, and sufficient exercise. You have a healthy craving for innocent recreation. Do not repress it. It is God-implanted, and therefore sacred, sacred as are any of the other Divine instincts within you. You have a many-sided nature, and every side must have a fair chance of development. Intellectual strength. The mind is the measure of the man; it is the empire or kingdom of the soul. The thinker is the acknowledged king of men. A trained mind, developed by reading and reflection, is worth striving for. Moral and spiritual strength. A clever man is greater than a merely strong man, but a good man is greater than either. Moral and spiritual gains are the most enduring.
I. GODLINESS MAKES THE STRENGTH OF YOUNG MEN GLORIOUS.
1. Because that strength is governed by a glorious inspiration.
2. Because it is directed to glorious ends.
3. Because it endows him with a glorious steadfastness of principle, an unswerving attachment to the right.
4. Because of the glorious reward he will finally attain.
II. GODLINESS MAKES THE HOARY HEADS OF AGE BEAUTIFUL.
1. Godly age is beautiful, because of its wealth of experience.
2. Because it is connected with maturity of Christian character.
3. Because of the connection with a holy peace and brightening hope.
III. THE BEAUTY OF THE GREY HEAD IS THE NATURAL AND FITTING RESULT OF THE DEVELOPED GLORY OF YOUTHFUL STRENGTH. Pious strength in the earlier half of life is the seed that ripens into the glad harvest of hopeful, resting readiness which should mark the end.
1. Youthful godliness is likely to secure the beauty of age, because godly principles and practices are best calculated to lengthen life.
2. Because the conduct of youth gives character to age.
1. Ideals of manhood have differed with every age. Physical strength was the primary glory of the race. Samson among the Hebrews, Hector among the Trojans, Achilles among the Greeks, and Richard the Lion-hearted among the Crusaders, were as valuable as batteries or battalions now are. Until Christian civilisation changed it, the measure of the man was his muscle, and his passport to respect was his fighting weight. But we live in a different era. Gunpowder and dynamite have abolished physical differences and put all men on a common level. It is not brawn but brain which tell in this age. Christianity has subordinated the material to the mental. "There is nothing great in the world but man; there is nothing great in man but mind."
2. But there are two kinds of mental strength — a lower and a higher order, the intellectual and the spiritual. There is something better than a clear, cold intellectuality. Man has a heart as well as a head, emotions as well as thoughts. Some of the most atrocious characters in history were men of giant intellect. The Duke of Alva was accomplished and scholarly. As mental strength is higher in rank than the physical, so moral strength is higher than the merely mental. The most valuable possession in this world for a young man is strength of character. With it poverty, obscurity, and ill-health are not misfortunes. Without it wealth, fame, and physical endurance are not blessings. But how little this is appreciated by youth.
3. Every boy longs to be a man. It is a legitimate ambition. But does he know manhood's perils? The moral innocence of childhood grown into manhood is a thousandfold stronger than reformed manhood, built out of the fragments which were gathered up from the wreck and ruin of the former self.
4. The great arena for the development of moral strength is in conquering one's self.
5. But how shall this hardest of victories be won — the victory of self? Remember Constantine's vision. So with you. By the Cross of Christ thou shalt conquer. The testimony of the unrighteous to the worth of religion as a moral armour is an exceedingly valuable testimony.
(J. C. Jackson, D. D.)
I. PHYSICAL STRENGTH. We are prone to glorify and exalt the man of strong intellect at the expense of the muscular man. We are apt to despise physical strength, and look upon it as something very necessary in an ox or horse, but nothing for a Christian to be proud of. The development of physical strength lies very much with ourselves. Physical development is related to mental and moral culture as the foundation to the superstructure which rests upon it. The best students carry their physical and mental training along together. Nor should we lose sight of the influence of physical training upon the morals of the young. Muscular Christianity is the kind of religion that will live, and make itself felt in the world. Mawkish sentimentality is not religion. But if our strength is to be a glory to us it must be consecrated strength. There are those who value their strength, not for the amount of good they can accomplish with it, but for the amount of supposed pleasure or vice their strength enables them to indulge in. Such strength is no glory to young men.
II. MENTAL STRENGTH. No college can confer brains where nature has withheld them; and yet it is true that, as regards intellectual power, we are very much what we make ourselves. It is not those endowed naturally with great talents who rule in the political, social, and religious world. It is those of medium talents, men of activity, diligence, and earnestness, who go up to the top of the ladder — those who deposit their mental capital, such as it is, where it will give the highest interest. Hard work kills very few. The men who live longest are those who combine severe mental labour with proper physical exercise.
III. MORAL STRENGTH. If a man lack moral strength, he is no giant, but a mere pigmy, in so far as usefulness in the world is concerned. Moral strength consists —
1. In the courage to do the right.
2. To feel our own weakness.
3. Another element in moral strength is a godly life.A consistent man is a tower of strength. He is a resistless power for good. The godly lives of humble, consistent Christians are the most powerful sermons.
(Richmond Logan, M. A.)
(Alfred E. Ives.).