Go to now, you that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:…
It will be profitable for us to consider carefully, and to examine ourselves after reviewing them, some of the principal grounds of boasting prevalent amongst us, the vanity of which God has exposed in His Word and in the daily experience of mankind.
I. The most prominent and universal of these is the Pharisee's boast, "God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are"; the boast of self-righteousness or the refuge of fear, the vaunt of self-complacency or the consolation of a conscience not at ease, the hollow comfort of souls that have heard of a wrath to come, but have not learnt the way to flee from it. The mother does not look upon her fairest children with more pride than the heart of man is prone to feel in looking at the works of its own service and contemplating the fruits of its own goodness. Every act of charity, every deed of grace, every observance of religious duty, the very emotions of religious faith or sentiment, all are turned into food for pride and the strength of a security most insecure.
II. "The wicked boasteth of his heart's desire." The heart is proud of its idols and is content to worship them; the happy mother boasts of her children and rejoices without trembling over the frailest gift of God; the fond wife clings to her husband and in the strength of her proud reverence and love rests the confidence of her soul if trouble comes to try it. And man makes his boast in the grateful love that surrounds him; he is proud of the hearts that draw their happiness and hopes from him; he gathers the tender ones about him and says with quiet satisfaction, "Behold, I and the children whom God hath given me"; and so our dearest affections become snares of pride, evil rejoicings, to lull the heart in a false security, to fill it with a peace which is no peace, to strengthen it with motives which are not of Heaven, to wrap it in a short-lived satisfaction, a glorying which is not in the Lord, the light of such happiness as a moment may turn to the darkness of the deepest midnight. From this vain boasting of the heart spring the deepest anguish and sorest trials of our lives.
III. "They that trust in their wealth and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches," whose "inward thought is that their houses shall endure for ever and their dwelling-places to all generations"; the purse-proud or the rank-proud, who "hath said in his heart I shall not be moved for I shall never be in adversity," who is not "in trouble as other men, neither is he plagued like other men," to whom one day telleth another the same unvarying tale of his prosperity, to whom the world bows down as it bows to every image of the world-god, Mammon, these are types of a false security, such as their lowest worshippers know how to estimate: envy itself) as it looks askance upon them, remembers the rich man in the parable and half-renounces its greediness; and all but the poor deluded boasters themselves remember him who had got together the fruits of an abundant harvest and bade his soul take her ease, eat, drink and be merry, till he was arrested by the terrible voice of God declaring to him, "Thou fool! this night shall thy soul be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?"
IV. The boast of youth is strength, the energy of health unbroken by long sickness, the vigour of the hope undaunted by disappointment, the bloom of an unwrinkled cheek, the joy of an untried spirit, the activity of fresh affections and the glowing power to love, the confidence of its simple trust, the earnestness of its crude opinions, the warmth of its zeal, the fire of its devotion; in these youth makes its boast and only finds that its rejoicings are evil when the flower of its strength and beauty has faded, when its hopes have proved to be dreams, when its zeal has reaped the rewards of folly, when experience has made void its unripe judgment, when selfishness has swallowed up or ingratitude has ill requited the warmth of its early regards. And then comes the dreary season when if grace does not take possession of the soul vexation and sorrow are born, uneasiness begins to disturb the heart's unspiritual peace, the weary life-struggle commences, the struggle for progress without hope, for work without strength, for comfort without faith, for the refreshment of love without the power to give it, for the rewards of the world when the soul has acknowledged its vanity and respect for the world has departed.
V. "Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." This vain confidence in Time, this vague expectation of what shall be, sometimes takes treacherously the aspect of a holier trust and a more faithful boasting in the goodness and providence of God. Be wise and distinguish between the faith that waits patiently for the Lord, which looks to the morrow to confirm the blessings of to-day, and yet knows that the grace not secured to-day may not be vouchsafed to morrow, which has no fear of its days being cut short and its season of repentance brought to an untimely end, and yet would not postpone its repentance for an hour, knowing that "now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation"; whose hopes and plans are in the future, but it says, "If the Lord will we shall live to do this or that"; — distinguish this faith from the blind confidence which puts off the sad work of repentance to "a more convenient season," which, while the Spirit is crying "To-day if ye will hear His voice," answers inwardly, "Nay, but it shall be to-morrow," and so keeps the great work of life ever one day in advance, till postponement breeds indifference, impunity begets boldness, out of boldness comes defiance, procrastination sears the conscience, and so the last hour of all, to which folly has resolved to delay its acceptance of Christ's Atonement, is as full of security as if another morrow were still to come instead of the everlasting To-day of godless confusion, of impenitent remorse, of undying death; an Eternity without a future, but full of the vain boastings and evil rejoicings and shocking delusions of the past; haunted by the echoes of that fatal word which was once the soul's boast and stay, and still wailing in hopeless impotence the old dreary strain, "To-morrow."
(A. J. Macleane, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: