Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.
(R. Wardlaw, D.D.)
Through wisdom is an house builded.
I. WISDOM IS THE FOUNDATION ON WHICH A HOUSE MUST BE BUILT. It is the great principle on which all other principles must be founded. But what is this wisdom? Solomon says, "the fear of the Lord." True religion. Consisting, not in a mere external or intellectual acknowledgment of an overruling Deity, much less in any amount of mere intellectual knowledge, but in an actual going to Wisdom as to a personage, not merely in possessing a certain quality or disposition of mind, but in really going to God by faith, and so accepting and following the terms of His covenant that the qualities and dispositions of mind, which manifest the being built on wisdom, spring from that source, coming down from God to man as the gifts of His grace, not going up from man towards God.
II. THE STRENGTH, SUPERSTRUCTURE, AND ORNAMENT OF THE SPIRITUAL EDIFICE. The active duties of our profession are implied in carrying out the obligations and requirements of a true and heart-born faith. Store your minds with knowledge; only see that first of all you possess the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus.
(R. H. Davies, B.A.)
(J. Parker, D.D.)
A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength
I. THE DISEASED AND FEEBLE STATE OF MIND AGAINST WHICH WISDOM IS THE PROPER REMEDY. It seemeth to consist in an indisposition for the due exercise of its powers. The body is then distempered and weak, and so the mind is rendered incapable of the offices which become such a being. The weakness principally appeareth in the prevalence of passions which are excited by them, and are summed up in aversion; that is, in the prevalence of fear and sorrow and anger. Reason and moral conscience is the man; in its vigour and authority over the inferior springs of action our strength lieth.
1. Fear is an infirmity natural to man, which very often hath pernicious effects, and in itself, abstracting from its effects, is very uncomfortable. Every living creature, according to its measure of perfection, hath a self-enjoyment, and findeth ease and satisfaction in its sound and healthy state. But it was wisely provided that such of them as are liable to dangers and annoyances from abroad should have a painful apprehension of them, in order to their being put upon the speediest methods for avoiding them. This is the end of fear in their constitution. Man is made with a larger comprehension, and with the privilege of foresight, by which he discovereth a variety of dangers, and seeth them at a great distance; and this certainly was not originally intended to be his torment, but, if it be so in event, it must be by way of penal infliction for his faults, or a distemper of his mind against which there is a proper remedy provided.
2. Grief. This is not equal in all men. Some spirits can sustain their infirmity better than others. But all find it requires a force above that of mere unimproved and uncultivated nature to support it. It requireth religious wisdom.
3. Anger. Felt when the disagreeable event is considered an injury, and as befalling us by the injustice or ill-will of a voluntary agent. Now consider the symptoms of this natural weakness. During the prevalence of these passions the understanding is obscured; at least, we have not the due use of it. It seems to be the natural tendency of pain to arrest the thoughts. The counsels of the mind are at such times full of perplexity, which often produce irresolution, instability, and fatal precipitation.
II. WHEREIN THE STRENGTH OF THE WISE MAN LIETH. How wisdom, or religious virtue, is the cure of our weakness and its symptoms.
1. It is a defence against fear, because it represents uncomfortable events as too inconsiderable to affect our main interests. The good "man is satisfied from himself"; his integrity is his chief treasure. Virtue is a greater good than riches, worldly honours, and carnal pleasure.
2. The testimony of our conscience is an effectual preservative against immoderate dejecting fears, as it gives us confidence towards God and assurance of His favour.
3. The wise man is strong against fear, because his confidence is in the Divine all-sufficiency, love, and faithfulness. Chance and necessity, as the cause of events, are the refuge of ignorant minds. Faith controls the fears of a religious mind, for it represents an intelligent, powerful, and gracious Providence as superintending all affairs and directing all events irresistibly.
4. The wise man is strengthened by the Christian hope of immortality. The same principles and sentiments restrain immoderate anger. So religious wisdom delivers us from the symptoms of weakness arising from the passions; ignorance and confusion; the darkened understanding. True wisdom openeth the eyes. There is an admirable simplicity in religion. A man of knowledge increaseth strength against irresolution, unsteadiness, and precipitancy; his behaviour is consistent and uniform, because it is conducted by one invariable principle. The wise and virtuous perform their good works with vigour and alacrity. And this spiritual strength is ever increasing, and a constant source of pleasure to the man himself. Then let us examine ourselves, and try what equanimity we maintain in the changes of life.
(J. Abernethy, M.A.)
I. IN RELATION TO THE DUTIES OF LIFE.
II. IN REGARD TO THE RELATIONSHIPS OF LIFE.
III. IN RELATION TO THE TRIALS OF LIFE.
IV. AS A SAFEGUARD AGAINST THE TEMPTATIONS OF LIFE.
The thought of foolishness is sin.I. WHAT IS MEANT BY THE "THOUGHT OF FOOLISHNESS"? Folly and sin signify the same thing in Scripture. We are not to understand thoughts of pure speculation as simple acts of the understanding; nor even a thought of sudden and transient inclination towards sin, which arises in our minds before we are aware and which we endeavour to stifle. Though such thoughts are sinful in their first rise and tendency, when the imagination has been long heated or their hearts corrupted by any criminal excess or disorder. We are to understand by a thought of foolishness one of complacency. Such a thought as the will not only consents to entertain, but which the mind delights to dwell and dilate itself upon. These evil thoughts proceed from some vicious reigning passion, or perhaps presumptuous sin. To give way to such vain and foolish thoughts is an argument of a mind very much turned and estranged from God. Such impure and loose thoughts are directly contrary to the fruits of the Spirit, and to those precepts of Holy Scripture which require us to be spiritually-minded. Many mistakenly think there is no sin in dwelling on evil thoughts, so long as they abstain from gross external acts of sin.
II. RULES AND DIRECTIONS FOR THE BETTER REGULATION OF OUR THOUGHTS.
1. Take care to be always usefully or at least innocently employed.
2. Carefully examine what those things are which have been most apt to excite evil thoughts in us. And refrain from company, books, and circumstances which influence us for evil.
3. Evil thoughts frequently arise from prevailing natural temper.
4. Live under a constant sense of God's presence and inspection over us.
5. All rules and directions will avail but little toward the better government of our thoughts without the illuminating and sanctifying graces of the Spirit of God.
(R. Fiddes, D.D.)
And the scorner is an abomination to menI. A DESCRIPTION OF THE SCORNER.
1. He is one who runs counter to the general reason and maxims whereby the rest of mankind govern themselves. He places his greatest glory in those disorders which the rest of mankind are most ashamed of.
2. He is one who delights to walk in the way of sinners.
3. He would be thought of as believing that there is no God.
4. He delights in ridiculing those persons or things which have a more immediate relation to God.
5. The greatest effort of the scorner is against that order of men whose peculiar office it is to minister in things pertaining to God.
6. He makes it his business to confound the distinction of virtue and vice, to call evil good and good evil.
II. HIS RENDERING HIMSELF AN ABOMINATION TO MEN. This he does by —
1. His common swearing.
2. His profaneness.
3. His confounding the distinction of virtue and vice.
III. USEFUL IMPROVEMENTS.
1. Men generally entertain a secret esteem and veneration for religion.
2. Take care to keep ourselves at as far a distance as possible from the profane temper of mind of the scorner. Never think of God, or speak of Him, save with reverence. Be careful not to obstruct the influence of religious considerations on our hearts.
(R. Fiddes, D.D.)
If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small
I. CHRISTIANITY SHOULD PRESERVE FROM DESPONDENCY IN FAILURE. There is a tendency in trouble to dispirit. It may be checked by the force of natural energy of heart. The greater number of men are apt to sink under disappointment. Many cannot row against the tide. The evil of this depression is great. In relation to the worldly business. The man is as one possessed with a spirit of defeat. There is no ingenuity to plan; no vigorous employment of offered opportunities. This despondency affects other things. Begun in business, it extends to all departments of feeling and activity. Christianity tends to check this, because it limits the sphere of failure. It also changes its character. It teaches us that if we fail it may be the means of our greater success. The prostration, the sorrow, the want, may be the discipline of life everlasting. Sometimes the failure may be traced to the Christian's own fault. Then these considerations are inapplicable. But then the evil may be overruled for good.
II. CHRISTIANITY SHOULD PRESERVE FROM IRRITATION IN FAILURE. If the timid are most in danger of despondency, the proud are most in danger of exasperation. And who is so free from pride as not to be in danger of this? Failure may easily excite the evil passions of the soul, sour the temper, and arouse to anger and to wrath. If a man were only irritated against himself, there might not be much amiss. But the danger is nearly all the other way. The failing man is often found cherishing a wrong temper towards his fellows. To check this evil Christianity begets humility, and produces a spirit of benevolence.
III. CHRISTIANITY SHOULD PRESERVE FROM DISHONESTY IN FAILURE. Want is a temptation to dishonesty. It is not an excuse for it. Many who never had a thought that was not honourable have fallen into sin when they fell into trouble. And even when the trouble has been much less than entire failure. There is temptation to do wrong in order to evade, or conceal, or repair misfortune. Making us to love truth and equity, Christianity connects our self-respect with these principles. And, as Christians, we should be supremely concerned for the moral honour of Christianity.
(A. J. Morris.)
I. THE OCCASION REFERRED TO. "The day of adversity."
1. Reverse of fortune — poverty and want.
II. THE ACTION REPROVED. " If thou faint." Not the suffering of pain or the feeling of sorrow, but the excess of an allowable feeling.
1. When we yield to impatience, entertain hard thoughts of God, and distrust His goodness.
2. When we are so absorbed by adversity as to forget past prosperity.
3. When we yield to sorrow so far as to preclude necessary exertion.
4. When it causes us to yield to unholy methods in order to extricate ourselves from the difficulty. The Jews appealed to Egypt.
III. THE FAULT EXPLAINED. "Thy strength is small."
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) IV. THE REMEDY. 1. Call into exercise the strength you have. "To him that hath," etc. 2. Cherish higher thoughts of God. 3. Wait at the throne of grace. (J. Bunting.)
(2) (3) (4) (5) IV. THE REMEDY. 1. Call into exercise the strength you have. "To him that hath," etc. 2. Cherish higher thoughts of God. 3. Wait at the throne of grace. (J. Bunting.)
(3) (4) (5) IV. THE REMEDY. 1. Call into exercise the strength you have. "To him that hath," etc. 2. Cherish higher thoughts of God. 3. Wait at the throne of grace. (J. Bunting.)
IV. THE REMEDY. 1. Call into exercise the strength you have. "To him that hath," etc. 2. Cherish higher thoughts of God. 3. Wait at the throne of grace. (J. Bunting.)
IV. THE REMEDY.
1. Call into exercise the strength you have. "To him that hath," etc.
2. Cherish higher thoughts of God.
3. Wait at the throne of grace.
Scientific Illustrations.The wych-elm manifests the approach of winter earlier than any other tree. It becomes ruined and denuded by a touch of the frosty air, and contributes no splendour, no beauty to our autumnal scenery, as its leaves curl up, become brown, and flutter from their sprays, as early, when growing in exposed situations, as the middle of September. This character of itself marks a difference from the common elm, which preserves its verdure, except from accidental causes, long after this period, and with a fine mellow yellow hue, contributing a full share with other trees to the character and splendour of autumn. The wych-elm is an emblem of the susceptible, tender human character. The soul of such a man is highly sensitive to all external impressions. The first frosty touch of a great sorrow shakes his life to its centre. Men of a more robust type are chastened by sad events; and, mellowed by chequered experiences, live on to the tranquil maturity of their existence. But he, unfortunately, cannot face the rough blasts of adversity, and perishes at once under their cruel, chilling influence. Even the cold breath of slander sometimes bears for him a sentence of death.
Scientific Illustrations.Humming-birds, colibris, and their brothers of every hue, live with impunity in the fearful forests where tropical nature, under forms oftentimes of great beauty, wages her keenest strife in those gleaming solitudes where danger lurks on every side — among the most venomous insects, and upon those most mournful plants whose every shade kills. One of them (crested, green, and blue), in the Antilles, suspends his nest to the most terrible and fatal of trees, to the spectre whose fatal glance seems to freeze your blood for ever, to the deadly manchineal. It is this parroquet, which boldly crops the fruits of the fearful tree, feeds upon them, assumes their livery, and appears, from its sinister green, to draw the metallic lustre of its triumphant wings. Nature endows the birds, as she also endows men, with a marvellous capacity for accommodation to circumstances. Beautiful birds are not made out of what we should consider wholesome food, and beautiful characters are not made out of the choice events of history. Nature supplies us with an appropriative power whereby we transmute everything to the purposes which she intends to serve. We know to what splendid purposes genius has been able to turn poverty, jails, cruelty, persecution. Some of the finest characters in history have been formed by and flourished upon these unpromising elements. The bird does not take the poison and submit to death; it transmutes it into life and beauty. The hero does not let circumstances subdue him; he makes circumstances subserve the growth of his character.
(H. W. Beecher.)
If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death.1. It is supposed that there is an allusion here to what is understood to have been a custom among the Jews. When a man was being led to execution a sort of crier or herald went with the procession, publicly proclaiming that if any man hath "anything to offer even yet to show the innocence of the accused, or any circumstances of extenuation to present, or testimony to give to his character, let him now declare it; the judges are sitting; the procession to the place of execution shall be arrested; anything new in the form of evidence or testimony shall be heard, and thus execution shall be stayed." It is supposed here that a man is in danger of death. It is supposed that he is innocent. It is supposed that there is a man who can help him, even now, to prove his innocence. If that man withholds his testimony, he is guilty of murder, and comes into the judgment of God.
2. Illustrations of the principle embodied in the text. Individuals may be exposed to great suffering by no fault of their own. Many have to suffer in consequence of the operation of general laws over which they have no control. Where there is suffering, peril, or destitution on one side, there is somewhere on the other the power to help; somebody has the ability to interpose. Those that have the power may neglect it, and endeavour to find miserable apologies and excuses for their neglect. There may be perfectly honest and sufficient reasons in any case why an individual may not help or take part in affording relief, but in every case a man must be perfectly honest with himself, and not make his personal indulgence take shape as pecuniary inability to help others.
I. THE STATE OF THE HEATHEN WORLD. As described in the text, "drawn unto death," and "ready to be slain."
1. As respects this world. In Hindustan there are four modes whereby men and women are "drawn unto death" — women by being burnt alive on the funeral pile of their husbands, and by being buried alive in the same grave; men by being crushed beneath the wheels of the ponderous car of Juggernaut, and by being drowned in the river Ganges.
2. As respects the next world. Look at their never-dying souls; think of the everlasting importance of the world to come. They are drawn to the pains of eternal death by their numerous and enormous iniquities; by the god of this world; and by the almighty arm of a holy and righteous God.
II. THE IMPERATIVE FIXTURE OF THE TEXT. We must look at ourselves.
1. Our duty is clearly pointed out. We are to preach the everlasting gospel. Who will go? To whom can we look with so much propriety as to those who are already ordained to preach the gospel? But some may plead, "I am already useful and acceptable at home"; or "If I go to preach abroad, I shall inflict an injury on my own country"; or "I am not competent; I do not possess the requisite qualifications: and if. I were to make the attempt I should fail"; or "We cannot see it to be our duty to embark in this work at once, and for life"; or "I am already comfortable at home, and I do not like to give up my delights."
2. We are to present fervent supplication to the throne of grace. We must pray as well as preach.
3. Another means to be employed is, liberal contributions to defray the expenses of so great an undertaking. God will not hold him guiltless who neglects this duty.
I. A STATEMENT OF A CERTAIN CONDITION. The natural world is in this state. It is so with reference to its original and to its actual guilt. A man, as a sin agent, is evermore superadding sin to sin.
II. THE MORAL CAUSES WHICH CONTRIBUTE TO IT.
1. Education conducted on false estimates and erroneous principles.
2. Example. Actions affix a deeper stamp and stronger impressions than words.
3. Habit, which is said to be a second nature. It exercises a sort of moral omnipotency over us.
4. Self-complacency of a nominal religion.
5. Pride, when it makes a man virtually deny the value of a revelation by Christ.
6. Sloth. which lulls a man into a pleasing dream, from which he would not be awakened.
7. The fear of the world, which has its branding-irons.
8. Love of sin. Its indulgence makes up the pleasure of their life.
III. THE SOLEMN DUTY TO BE PERFORMED. The deliverance is not in the power of man. A sinner must see himself as he really is, in the blackness of his guilt before God. For this he must seek the animation of the Holy Spirit. He must repent; and by faith look up to the Lord Jesus. These things must be told men plainly, and pressed upon them earnestly.
(T. J. Judkin, M.A.)
(H. Melvill, D.D.)
1. Reasons for this duty in respect of God. We have His command and His example.
2. In respect of ourselves. What power we have and what need we may have. Our natural powers and faculties all have their several uses and opportunities. We have power to relieve the necessities of the poor. The world is full of changes and chances, and those who now have power presently come to have need. The rule of equity is, "Do as thou wouldst be done to."
3. Reasons on consideration of the poor and oppressed. Consider the greatness of their distress, the scarcity of their friends, and the righteousness of their cause. That which you are to do for the poor is this, seek first to be well assured that their cause is just. Then you must not forsake or despise him because he is poor.
4. Reasons from the effects of the duty itself. It will gain us honour and estimation, purchase for us the blessings of the poor, and bring down on us the blessings of God. We want charity, but abound with self-love. Our defect in that appeareth by our backwardness to perform our duties to our brethren; and our excess in this, by our readiness to frame excuses for ourselves. Consider these excuses, such as —
(1) (2) (3) (Bp. Sanderson.)
(2) (3) (Bp. Sanderson.)
(3) (Bp. Sanderson.)
So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soulI. It is WHOLESOME. "My son, eat thou honey, because it is good." Honey was one of the choice productions of Canaan. It was used by its inhabitants as an article of diet; it was not only delicious to the palate, but strengthening to the frame. Divine knowledge is the aliment for man's spiritual nature; without it there is no moral strength; our faculties require God Himself to feed upon. Without God it starves. He is the food of the intellect, the affections, the imagination, the conscience.
II. It is DELECTABLE. "And the honeycomb, which is sweet to the taste." God's goodness in nature appears in this as well as in all other things: that the provisions essential to man's strength He has made palatable to the taste. Honey is not only strengthening, but "sweet." The pleasures of spiritual knowledge are of the most exquisite kind.
III. It is SATISFYING. "When thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off." There shall be a reward. Goodness is its own reward, and the reward is equal to the highest "expectation."
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth.
Homilist.Johnson makes a distinction between vengeance and revenge. Injuries, he says, are revenged; crimes are avenged. The former is an act of passion, the latter of justice.
I. The OBJECT of revenge. "Thine enemy." Men are enemies to men. Humanity is not as it came from the hand of the Great Father of mankind. Sin has made the brother a foe. If man had no enemy, he would have no revenge. In heaven no such passion burns.
II. The GRATIFICATION of revenge. "Let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth." The fall, the ruin of the enemy, is bliss to the revenging soul. But if unmanly, still more un-Christian. What said Christ? "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink," etc.
III. The AVENGER of revenge. "Lest the Lord see it, and it displeaseth Him, and he turn away His wrath from him."
1. Man's revenge is displeasing to God. It is opposed to the benevolence of His nature; it is contrary to the teachings of His Word.
2. Man's revenge may cause God to interpose, and relieve its victim. "He turn away His wrath from him." Coverdale renders the words thus, "Lest the Lord be angry, and turn His wrath from him to thee." Thus it was with the enemies of Samson (Judges 16:25-30).
My son, fear thou the Lord and the king.I. A DOUBLE DUTY LAID DOWN. Or rather, a single duty, one included and comprehended in the other. Fear here is a comprehensive notion to contain in it all those duties which we owe to God principally, and to the king subordinately.
1. To fear God is to have awful apprehensions of Him in our thoughts, and to walk carefully before Him in our actions. This fear is the bottom of all true spiritual wisdom; the security against all other fears; a preservative against all sin and wilful offence; and a good preparative for the peace and welfare of society, by restraining people's minds within the due limits of their subjection, that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty.
2. To fear the king we stand obliged both in conscience to God and out of interest to ourselves, seeing that he is the public guardian, upon whose well-doing the welfare of the whole community depends.
3. The sum of all religion is to be as pure in holiness, so peaceable in righteousness, when we order ourselves piously to God and obediently to the magistrate. The interests of religion and policy are so nearly twisted and woven together that they cannot be severed from one another without the utmost hazard to both. Rebellion and schism are wont to go hand in hand together.
II. THE CAUTION.
1. As an expedient for the duty. The way to keep in the fear of God and the king is to forbear the company of these restless folk, to keep at a distance from them, and have nothing to do with them.
2. As a consequent of this duty. He that hath any fear of God and the king will keep himself within compass. A pious soul, a loyal heart, will admit of nothing that may shake or call in question its fidelity.As to these changers —
1. Inquire who they are. Iterantes, men who go over things again and never have done. Variantes, who vary their course through all points of the compass. Detractors, that speak evil of dignities, both temporal and spiritual. Declinantes, stragglers, who go out of God's and the king's highway.
2. What is it not to meddle with them? It is to mark these men, and observe the dangerous mixture of their fine parts and foul designs. Consider well the tendency and drift of such principles as theirs.
3. The reasons why such men are not to be meddled with. There is no knowing how far they may lead you. Though you may be innocent, you may get wrapped up in others' guilt. If you escape now, you will suffer one day, in the peace of thy conscience. And thou dost endanger the eternal safety of thy soul. Since it is so, let us take heed to ourselves, and establish our spirits in the fear of the Lord and the king, and as we wish well to our own persons and to our posterity after us, let us have nothing to do with these changers.
(Adam Littleton, D.D.)
I. THE DUTIES WHICH WE OWE TO GOD AND THE KING. The fear of God is oftentimes put for the whole sum of religion. We are also to fear the king, and though there is not an equal reason, yet there is a sufficient one for this fear. The king is God's vicegerent and representative. And there must be something to work upon men's fears as well as to convince their understandings, before they will learn or practise the duty of subjection. Religion and loyalty have a close dependence on each other, and a strict connection with each other. No man can be truly religious who is not a good subject. No man can be steadily and immovably loyal who is not truly and sincerely religious.
II. A PROPER MEANS PRESCRIBED FOR SECURING AND PRESERVING US IN OUR DUTY. Beware of those who are given to changes, e.g., the atheist, the restless, the rebellious.
I. THE PERFECTIONS WHICH RENDER GOD THE OBJECT OF OUR FEAR.
II. THE FEAR OF GOD AND THE KING IS THE BEST PRESERVATIVE AGAINST THE DISTURBERS OF THE PEACE AND QUIET OF ALL GOVERNMENT. It is the foundation of all those virtues from which the peace and happiness of governments must arise, and the most effectual restraint upon the vicious appetites and passions of men. Those in whom this principle rules cannot help looking upon others as the servants of one Sovereign Master, and this consideration must dispose them to have the tenderest regard for their welfare, and tie them together by the strictest bands of fraternal love and friendship. And this principle must naturally contribute to the regulating and composing those disorderly affections and passions which are the great enemies and disturbers of the peace of mankind. Religion fixes that levity and weakness of mind which is so natural to man; it unites his actions and resolutions to one great end, and makes them consistent and regular; and is the best cure of that restlessness of mind which closely adheres to our very natures, and renders us dissatisfied with what we are, or what we at present possess or enjoy; and too often disposes us wantonly to desire changes for the very sake of changing.
(John Wilcox, D.D.)
I. THE REMARKABLE COMMAND. There is much force in that word, "fear thou." Be unmoved by any motives, or influences, or examples, which may press you to do otherwise than thus. If all around you are wrong, "fear thou." Multitudes do not prove a matter to be right. Act for yourself, and do not fear to stand alone. The command here is, fear both God and the king. You must do the latter if the former be regarded. The fear of God brings with it a principle of obedience, which will influence your conduct in all things. The two things are united morally, and so a true Christian must be a good subject.
II. THE DANGER OF FORGETTING THIS COMMAND. The antithesis is very striking. "Meddle not with them that are given to change." But change must not be confused with progress and improvement. Change means things that imperil primary principles of righteousness.
III. THE RESULTS OF NEGLECTING THIS COMMAND. "Their calamity shall come suddenly." Apply — To serve your generation by the will of God is one of the duties and privileges of your present state. You will do it if you fear "both God and the king."
I. THE ADVICE. The commendation "My son" stands first. This is such a counsel as a father would give a son. And that it is no evil one we may be sure. There is in this counsel a single act — "fear" — and a double object — "God and the king." The main drift of the advice is, a resentive against meddling with certain persons. It consists of two counter points. Do this and eschew that. Follow one, fly the other.
II. THE PENALTY. It is punishment enough for a man not to follow good counsel when it is given him. Yet God hath so ordered, as there goeth ever some further evil with the contempt of good counsel. The penalty is no less than destruction and ruin; a sudden destruction, an unknown ruin. Solomon sits here as a counsellor and as a judge — a counsellor to advise, a judge to pronounce. Hear his counsel, then; if not, hear your sentence. Choose which verse you will be in. In one of them we must be. In the verse of counsel, "Fear God and the king," or in the verse of penalty, "For their destruction," etc.
(Bp. Lancelot Andrewes.)
(R. Wardlaw, D.D.)
(J. F. B. Tinling, B.A.)
And meddle not with them that are given to changeMaximus Tyrius, the Platonist, speaks of three sorts of government — monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. One end of religion is to be serviceable even to the political and civil interests of mankind; and because there can be no temporal felicity without peace, nor peace without loyal and dutiful submission, the text calls on all such as would be truly happy to "fear God and the king."
I. AN AFFIRMATIVE COMMAND. That we express that humble and universal fear which is due to God's majesty, and that becoming reverence which is due to the king's majesty for God's sake. (This subject not now treated fully.)
II. A NEGATIVE PRECEPT. That we have nothing to do with those who, when things are well, under pretence of mending would fain mar all, and alter everything, whether it be religion, or laws, or government, that lieth in their way. Some render the verse thus, "Meddle not with them that act their iniquities over again; them that are disobedient and disloyal afresh; them that repeat their old sins against the king and his regalities; them that are for a change, but not of their own principles and courses." Solomon's own experience led him to warn his son against intractable and ungrateful men. Other expositors do not so restrain the sense of the text, but interpret it generally of all that are given to change, though some of them for a considerable time may have kept touch with the government: "Meddle not with them that change their good principles; with them that warp their obedience; with them that are unsteady and inconsistent with themselves, and observe the pulse of the times." Men should be quiet and dutiful, and contented with their lot when things are well and in their right channel, and not abet the practices of those who cannot be at ease until the mire be stirred, and the wheel be turned upside down. Reasons for this advice of the text:
1. A retinue of the most mischievous concomitants and effects, as war, bloodshed, confusion, rapine, the subversion of laws, and ruin of families, follow upon these restless changes, these evils of innovation.
2. Change of government is rarely attempted but under some cleanly disguise and popular pretence. Popular states have been erected by the popular tricks of men.Recommend three practical things —
1. The fear of the Lord. No confidence can be placed but in men who act upon the right principles of religion and honesty.
2. The fear of the king is coercive of obedience.
3. Avoid the company of restless spirits; have no fellowship with them.
(R. J. Graves, F.R.S.)
(G. Bridges, M.A.)
These things also belong to the wise.
Homilist.I. Here is PARTIALITY OF JUDGMENT; that is bad. "It is no good to have respect of persons in judgment." The principle of impartiality is enjoined both in the Old and the New Testament. In the Old, "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty; but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour." In the New Testament we have these words, "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons," etc. (James 2:1-9).
II. Here is FLATTERY OF THE WICKED, which is execrable. "He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous, him shall the people curse; nations shall abhor him." If the wicked man be great in wealth, exalted in social influence and political power, there is a wondrous tendency in all the grades below to flatter him as a "righteous man."
III. Here is REPROVING OF THE WRONG, which is blessed. "But to them that rebuke him shall be delight," etc.
1. There is a delight in such work. "To them that rebuke him shall be delight." What is the delight? The delight of an approving conscience.
2. There is Divine favour in such work. "A good blessing shall come upon you." God will express His favour to such a man in many ways.
3. There is social approbation in such work. "Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth the right answer."
To them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon themI. THE DUTY AND ITS OBLIGATION. By "rebuke" we may understand either that friendly office exercised by private persons towards their trespassing brethren, with a design and hope of reclaiming them from their evil ways, or else that severer method of proceeding by public censures and legal punishments, inflicted by persons in authority, with the same charitable end in view. Private Christians have a call and authority sufficient to admonish and reprove, where it can be done prudently and seasonably. We must not think ourselves at liberty to suffer sin and wickedness, committed in our sight and hearing, to pass without correction. The aid of the civil magistrate may be needed for those who will not be reformed and reclaimed from an evil course by arguments fetched from another world, but may be forced into better manners by temporal punishments. When these punishments have no fitness in them to make men better, they are of great use to prevent their growing worse and more hardened in their sins. The infliction of legal penalties is also necessary to prevent the contagion of bad example, that the venom spread no further, to taint the sound members, and corrupt those who are well disposed.
II. THE MOTIVES WHICH EXCITE TO THE PERFORMANCE OF THIS DUTY.
1. Delight, or an inward joy and satisfaction, flowing from the testimony of a good conscience, which is the most agreeable of all comforts. The thought of good done lies easy in men's minds, and the reflection upon it doth ever after minister comfort and delight to them. The greatest good one man can possibly do another is to assist and further him in the way of salvation; to keep him within the lines of duty; and to reclaim him to a better course.
2. A good blessing. A just God will not let this labour of love pass without reward. He will consider it in proportion to the measure of good that is done by it, and the discouragements and difficulties with which it is usually attended. The good blessing includes the blessing of men. Every man who rebukes evil without fear or favour shall, for his integrity, wisdom, and courage, be had in universal esteem. A good magistrate is respected and honoured by those who have no great regard to religion, for reasons of state. How much more may such expect honour and veneration from those who are concerned for religion and the glory of God.
(John Waugh, D.D.)
1. From the consciousness of having done rightly.
2. From the possession of public approbation, affection, and confidence.
3. From a sense of Divine approbation.
4. From the affection and complacency of all good men, and the grateful acknowledgments of those whose causes have been carefully, disinterestedly, and righteously investigated and determined; even those who fail having, notwithstanding, a testimony in their consciences to the soundness of principle, and the sincerity of the desire to do right, with which all has been conducted.
(R. Wardlaw, D.D.)
Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.Proverbs 8:27-31). And redemption was no sudden after-thought, for before the foundation of the earth was laid redemption was cast in the mind of God. And every event that happens to every man, it was planned ages before the man was born. And the children of Israel did not enter Canaan till they had gone through a preparatory discipline. Neither did prophets, nor apostles, nor Jesus Himself, begin work without an interval of solitude and discipline for perfect readiness. The preparation of Jesus was marvellous. Ten-elevenths of that life, of which every moment was gold — ten-elevenths given to preparation. Rightly viewed, everything this side heaven, and perhaps we need not draw the limit line even there — everything is preparation. Within the compass of this present world everything is placed in the state and order that it is, to fit us for another thing which is coming afterwards. Just as in a good education every rule leads up to a higher rule, and every new piece of knowledge is the basis of another piece, so that the mind is always being made ready for something beyond it, so it is in God's dispensations. A joy may be a prelude to a sorrow, or a sorrow may be a prelude to a joy, or a joy to a higher joy, or a sorrow to a still deeper sorrow. Nothing is isolated. It is not isolated joy; it is not isolated sorrow. The great thing we have to do is to be careful that we treat everything as preparatively. We should always be asking, when joy and sorrow comes, "Of what is this the precursor? what is God going to do with me next?" You cannot always be doing duties, but you can always be preparing for them. And remember, preparations are the long things; works are the short things. Let the preparation suit what you are going to do — a general preparation for general duty — but a special preparation for things special. The materials you gather in the "field" must be suited to the particular "house" which you are going to "build." Always make a stop upon the eve, and search into your own heart, and say, "Am I ready? has God given me a true preparation?" If not, as far as you can, stop a little longer before you take another step. Whatever else you do, secure preparation before you begin. There is a frame of mind which is a continual preparedness. It is the "Here I am!" of the patriarchs. It is a high, blessed state.
(J. Vaughan, M.A.)
(J. Vaughan, M.A.)
Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause.
I. THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE SIN HERE FORBIDDEN. The highest form of the sin is deliberately giving false evidence in judicial matters. Another degree of the vice is when men bear false testimony against their brethren, after a secret manner, in private conversation. Whether revenge, or anything else, be the temptation to the practice, the nature of the sin itself is of the deepest dye. There are still lower degrees of the fault. The careless and rash custom of spreading censorious reports to the disadvantage of our neighbour, without caring to inquire into the truth of the accusation. Under this head come innumerable sorts of calumny, detraction, slander, evil-speaking, backbiting, tale-bearing, rash judgment, etc.. Men in such matters are often faulty through negligence and want of care and attention. That person is a very perfect man indeed who can be continually upon his guard against this error. The lowest degree of this fault is when men are censorious towards their brethren, spreading abroad things that are true needlessly, and contrary to the laws of charity. It is a breach of Christian charity to take delight in spreading even true reports needlessly, to the damage, or disadvantage, of our neighbour.
II. REASONS OR MOTIVES WHICH OUGHT TO INFLUENCE OUR PRACTICE IN THIS MATTER. From the nature and constitution of human society there arises a strong argument why men ought to govern their words as well as actions. By injurious speech, mutual trust and good-will are destroyed, on which depends the welfare and happiness of mankind. Mischief comes to the man himself. The natural punishment of a licentious and unbridled tongue is the inconveniences it is very apt to bring, in the course of things, upon the person himself. But worse is the secret damage done to others. Slander and uncharitable defamation is "a pestilence that walketh in darkness." Another motive obliging men to restrain licentious speech is the consideration of the inconsistency of it with a due sense of religion. A principal part of pure religion is that men approve themselves by a good conversation, with meekness of wisdom. Another argument against calumny is the consideration that we are ourselves subject to error. He that is infallibly secured against all errors himself, let him be as censorious as he pleases upon the mistakes of others. Our Saviour forbids this censoriousness towards others, under the penalty of being more strictly judged ourselves.
(S. Clarke, D.D.)
Homilist.The verses suggest three kinds of wrong testimony.
I. A CAUSELESS ONE. "Be not s witness against thy neighbour without cause." There are those who are, for no service, either to themselves or to society, testifying of the defects and infirmities of their neighbours.
II. A FALSE ONE. "And deceive not with thy lips."
III. A REVENGEFUL ONE. "Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work."
I. WAS REVENGE ALLOWED TO THE JEWS? In Leviticus 19:18 it is said, "Thou shalt not avenge or bear any grudge against the children of thy people." This has been taken to imply that a Jew might kill a stranger, and consequently take any inferior degree of revenge on him. But compare the injunctions respecting the treatment of the stranger in Exodus 22 and 23; Leviticus 19:9, 10; Deuteronomy 10:1, etc. As to the retaliation granted (Exodus 21:24), this allowance was not made to the party injured, so that he might satisfy and distribute justice to himself; but to the judge, so that he might allot compensation for the wrong done.
II. ENFORCE THE GREAT DUTY OF FORGIVENESS.
1. From the reasonableness of this duty in itself. Reasonable men must allow its force and truth. By corrupt and undisciplined natures only is revenge counted as a mark of a noble and brave spirit. But it is a sign of superiority of mind to forgive the trespass. We ought to make our forgiveness as useful to the trespasser as possibly we can. Prudence should arrest the forwardness of charity in granting pardons.
2. The great weight our Saviour lays upon our forgiving others, in order to our title to our own forgiveness. There is no proportion in number betwixt our offences against God and those of the most offensive of our brethren against us.
3. We have great reason to forgive them, because of the good use and advantage we may make of our enemies. Charity is the greatest manager in the world.
III. MISTAKES WHICH MISLEAD MEN IN THEIR JUDGMENTS CONCERNING THEIR OWN FORGIVENESS.
1. The mistake of those who think they have paid a fair obedience to the law of charity, when they strike the offender only with the impartial hand of that of the law.
2. The mistake of those who think they may consign the trespasser to the judgment of God.
3. The mistake of judging the truth of our forgiveness on a principle of sloth. Some men are too ready to move themselves to resentment.
4. The mistake of thinking we have forgiven, when the fact is that the impressions have only worn off our minds. This is forgetting, not forgiving, since forgiveness is properly our own work, and not one of time.
(George Wallis, D.D.)
I went by the field of the slothful.
1. The fatal consequences of irreligious sloth and negligence in those whom Providence hath raised up to be the heads of families. Families are the nurseries of the Church and state: it is from them that every department of life is filled up. Who is the slothful man? It is the moral sluggard whom the inspired writer has in view — the man who shows his children and servants, by all his pursuits, that this world is all for which they need to care. He neglects the important seasons and opportunities for moral culture. He does not teach them the duties which they owe to one another and to society. He may permit them to be instructed by others, but he does not support the instruction by his own influence and example. See the consequences of this negligence illustrated in the sluggard's garden. Being destitute of rule, management, or control, his children absorb every wrong sentiment with their earliest sense, and are more and more corrupted with every breath they draw. There is no order, calmness, moderation, or self-command among the members of his family.
2. The futility of such apologies as are usually made for this negligence. They have not time; they have not capacity; or they do not feel under obligation in this direction.
I. THE DESCRIPTION OF A SLOTHFUL MAN. Solomon was right when he called him "a man void of understanding." Not only does he not understand anything, but he has no understanding to understand with. He is empty-headed if he is a sluggard. As a rule we may measure a man's understanding by his useful activities. Certain persons call themselves "cultured," and yet they cultivate nothing. If knowledge, culture, education do not lead to practical service of God, we cannot have learned what Solomon calls wisdom. True wisdom is practical; boastful culture vapours and theorises. Wisdom ploughs its field, hoes its vineyard, looks to its crops, tries to make the best of everything; and he who does not do so, whatever may be his knowledge of this, of that, of the other, is "a man void of understanding."
1. Because he has opportunities which he does not use.
2. Because being bound to the performance of certain duties he did not fulfil them.
3. Because he has capacities which he does not employ.
4. Because he trifles with matters which demand his most earnest heed. The Christian who is slothful in his Master's service has no idea what he is losing.
II. LOOK AT THE SLUGGARD'S LAND.
1. Land will produce something; some kind of fruit, good or bad. If you are idle in God's work you are active in the devil's work.
2. If the soul be not farmed for God, it will yield its natural produce. What is the natural produce of land when left to itself?
3. If we are slothful, the natural produce of our heart and of our sphere will be most inconvenient and unpleasant to ourselves.
4. In many instances there will be a great deal of this evil produce.
III. THERE MUST BE SOME LESSON IN ALL THIS.
1. Unaided nature will always produce thorns and nettles, and nothing else.
2. See the little value of natural good intentions. This man, who left his field and his vineyard to be overgrown, always meant to work hard one of these fine days. Probably the worst people in the world are those who have the best intentions but never carry them out. Take heed of little delays and short puttings-off. You have wasted time enough already; come to the point at once before the clock strikes again.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. LOOK AT THIS BROKEN FENCE. In the beginning it was a good fence, a stone wall. Mention some of the stone walls that men permit to be broken down when they backslide.
1. Sound principles instilled in youth.
2. Solid doctrines which have been learned.
3. Good habits once formed.
4. Week-night services are a stone wall.
5. So is Bible-reading.
6. So is a public profession of faith.
7. So is firmness of character.
II. THE CONSEQUENCES OF A BROKEN-DOWN FENCE.
1. The boundary has gone. He does not know which is his Lord's property, and which remains an open common.
2. The protection is gone. When a man's heart has its wall broken all his thoughts will go astray, and wander upon the mountains of vanity. Nor is this all, for as good things go out, so bad things come in.
3. The land itself will go away. In many parts of Palestine the land is all ups and downs on the sides of the hills, and every bit of ground is terraced, and kept up by walls. When the walls fall the soil slips over terrace upon terrace, and the vines and trees go down with it; then the rain comes and washes the soil away, and nothing is left but barren crag which would starve a lark. Then I charge you, be sternly true to yourselves and God. Stand to your principles in this evil and wicked day.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. Each man has a field and a vineyard entrusted to his care — the immortal soul.
2. He is provided with various implements of husbandry, with good seed, sure directions, and animating promises.
3. See the soul, the vineyard of such a labourer. The effects will generally be commensurate with the means used. As we sow we reap.
4. Observe the deplorable condition of the soul described in the text. Here is a desolate and neglected soul which once was cultivated — the backslider. Whence the cause of this sad change? What is the miserable end to be dreaded?
(F. Close, M.A.)
(W. E. Elmslie, D.D.)
1. There is no fence.
2. There is no fruit.How comes this waste of precious ground? Traced to one source — self-indulgence. This reveals itself in various ways. In procrastination. In an easy assent to the popular misrepresentations of Christianity. In taking up doubts at second-hand, and parading them as though proof of their superior wisdom. But self-indulgence in every form will bring ruin. And the ruin of self-indulgence is fast approaching. "Thy poverty shall come as one that travelleth." There may be seeming delay about its arrival; but there is also certainty. It is even now upon the road.
(J. Jackson Goadby.)
1. The home sluggard. Usually a woman. Neglected homes lie at the root of much of the misery, sin, and unhappiness of the world to-day.
2. The sluggard in the battle of life. A good-for-nothing — a waster of time, money, and precious opportunities. God has not given us life to idle away. Maybe that something of this sluggish disposition lies within us all, and must be continually struggled with. The men who have done most in life, achieved the greatest fame, and gained its best prizes, have all been steady workers, diligent plodders.
3. The sluggard in the field of conscience. Weeds always grow quickly, though imperceptibly. There is a law of degeneration. It may be stated in this way: "Let a thing alone, and it is certain to deteriorate." It is thus in the realm of conscience. There is nothing more dangerous than procrastination in the affairs of the soul and conscience. Many a man is aware of evil habits, and intends to give them up by and by. They never are given up in that way. Let your life alone, and you will awaken some day in awful astonishment at the depths to which you have sunk. Give up indolence and procrastination, then.
(Wm. Hay, B.D.)
I. IT IS FOOLISH. Solomon characterises this indolent man as one "void of understanding." therein do you see this man's folly? In the flagrant neglect of his own interests. You may cultivate your field by proxy, but you can only cultivate your soul yourself.
II. IT IS PROCRASTINATING.
III. IT IS RUINOUS.
1. Consider the wretched condition to which his estate was reduced. "Lo, it was all grown over with thorns," etc. It might have waved in golden grain.Two things suggested by the words.
1. That the ruin is gradual in its approach. It does not burst on you at once, like a thunder-storm.
2. The ruin is terrible in its consummation. "As an armed man." It will seize you as with the grasp of an indignant warrior.
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
I. SURVEY THIS WASTE VINEYARD.
1. We can see nothing but weeds. The outgrowths of the depraved heart yield no real revenue to man. Covetousness, malice, vain thoughts, evil desires, unbelief.
2. How luxuriantly they grow! Our evil propensities must, if unchecked by grace, increase.
3. There are various kinds of growth. Thorns and nettles. There may be a man of one book, business, virtue — but not of one evil propensity.
4. They are all harmful. "Thorns" to lacerate; "nettles" to sting.
5. The wall is broken. Anybody might sow there, or water the unprofitable crop — except the good sower, and he must enter by the door. God saves us from our sluggishness, not in it.
II. WHY IT REMAINS IN THIS DEPLORABLE CONDITION. Ignorance that will not learn, and slothfulness that will not work.
III. EXPOSTULATE WITH THE SLUGGARD.
1. The vineyard is not your own.
2. Think what this vineyard might produce. Grapes for the cup of the King — fruit for days of sickness — refreshment for old age.
3. In its present state it is harmful to your neighbours. The thistle-down will float far and wide.
IV. IN CONCLUSION, SOME WORDS OF EARNEST COUNSEL.
1. Come forth from your couch of indifference and resolutely inspect this desolate scene.
2. Do not seek to satisfy conscience by pulling a weed here and there. It must be thoroughly delved; ploughed up. "Ye must be born again."
3. Do not be content with showing a few wild grapes.
(R. A. Griffin.)
Preacher's Magazine.Some preachers teach morality without showing its vital connection with the gospel. Some fall into the opposite error, and fail to exhibit the ethical side of the gospel.
I. THE FIELD OF THE SLUGGARD TEACHES THAT IT IS WRONG TO ABUSE WHAT WE REGARD AS OUR OWN. The sluggard might contend that the garden was his own. The assumption is unfounded, and even blasphemous.
1. It is a sigh of gross disloyalty to God, who prefers an absolute claim to our life and service.
2. It involves a serious loss to our fellow-creatures, because the wind carries the seeds of our neglect into our neighbour's garden. Apply to moral influence.
II. THE POSSESSION OF ADVANTAGES, SO FAR FROM ABSOLVING US FROM THE NECESSITY OF LABOUR AND SELF-CULTURE, RENDERS THEM MORE NECESSARY. The area of our responsibility coincides with the area of our possessions.
1. The cultivation of the body is a sacred obligation.
2. The mind is a vineyard that ought to be cultivated.
3. There is, too, the vineyard of the heart.
III. NEGLECT, AS WELL AS WILFUL WICKEDNESS, MOVE IN THE DIRECTION OF DESTRUCTION. Observe that not only was the soil covered with noxious growths, but the means of protection were destroyed.
IV. GOOD MEN WILL LEARN FROM THE FOLLIES AND MISERIES OF WICKED MEN. Such instruction is gathered by observation and reflection. The two principal methods of acquiring wisdom. Observation collects facts, reflection arranges and applies them, converting them into solid nutriment for mind and heart.
1. To every minister of God there is entrusted a field and a vineyard.
2. God supplies his labourer with various implements of husbandry, with good seed and providential opportunities.
3. God makes special promises to every devoted husbandman.
4. What a blessed sight is the field and vineyard of such a labourer!
5. But consider the different picture drawn in the text. What is so affecting as the contemplation of a neglected parish? How is this to be accounted for? "This is the field of the slothful, and the vineyard of the man void of understanding."What is the people's duty, in the consideration of such a subject as this?
1. Let us all be anxious to avail ourselves of the religious privileges which we possess.
2. If it is our misfortune to have a slothful husbandman, let us not desert the Church, but unite in prayer for him and wait on God in meek submission to His will.
(F. Close, M.A.)
I. THE SCENE SHOWS US THAT IF WE WILL NOT HAVE FLOWERS AND FRUITS WE SHALL CERTAINLY HAVE THORNS AND NETTLES. We cannot set aside the laws of nature. There is a law of growth in the very ground. It is the same with the character of man. We cannot simply do nothing. Life has its laws. We may pay them no heed, but they will assert themselves notwithstanding.
1. A man may resolve not to cultivate his mind. What then? The weeds of false notions, the thorns and nettles of prejudice, will prove his intellectual indolence.
2. A man may neglect to cultivate his moral nature. He will have nothing to do with religion. What then? Look at his false ideas, his superstition, his narrowness, his want of veneration, his superficial judgments, the weeds that have grown up.
II. THE SLUGGARD AND THE FOOL CANNOT HIDE THE RESULTS OF THEIR NEGLECT.
1. We cannot confine the results of a wasted life within our own bounds.
2. This being the case, we have not a right to do with what we call our own as we please. There is nothing which we can strictly call our own. Society will not allow us to do what we please with our own.
III. IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE RIGHT IN SOME PARTICULARS AND TO BE GRIEVOUSLY WRONG IN OTHERS. The legal right of the slothful man to the possession of the field might be undisputed. The vineyard might have fallen into the hands of the fool by strict lawful descent. So far so good. The case is on this side perfectly sound. Yet possession was not followed by cultivation. It is not enough to possess; we must increase. You ought not to allow even a house to fall into decay. There is no right of abuse. You have not a right to be dirty, to be ignorant, to be careless of life; on that line no rights have ever been established.
IV. THE SCENE SHOWS THAT EVEN THE WORST ABUSES MAY BE TURNED TO GOOD ACCOUNT. The good man is an example; the bad man is a warning.
1. You will see that the finest possessions may be wasted; property, talent, influence, opportunity.
2. You will see that wickedness always moves in the direction of destruction. It must do so. All indolence must go down. All sin forces itself in the direction of perdition. How did the wise man know that the man was void of understanding? By the state of his vineyard. Know a man by his surroundings, know him by his habits; there is character in everything.
(J. Parker, D.D.)
1. The intellectual faculty is the understanding. If not cultivated, it will produce an attendant crop of evil thoughts and vain imaginations, which, like thorns and nettles, will injuriously affect the soul.
2. Another property of the soul to be cultivated is the memory, and unless that is attended to, all the other would be like casting seed by the wayside.
3. Another section of the soul is that of the affections which are ever disposed to run wild, and want continual pruning and training, to guide them in a right direction. The heart is liable to alight upon objects that may pierce it with many sorrows, to prevent which the most efficient remedy is to have the mind occupied as much as possible in contemplation of eternal blessings. If the mind were to dwell on the attributes of the Deity, especially as the God of love, it would expand with delight as the blossom to the sun.
(William Neville, M.A.)
(S. Cox, D.D.).