I made haste, and delayed not to keep your commandments.
How often do we hear the saying "Second thoughts are best"! And, for the most part, second thoughts are best. In ordinary affairs, there is the greatest likelihood of our acting wrong if we act upon impulse, if we do not take time for reflection, if we judge things according to their first appearance, in place of looking at them minutely and considering all their bearings. In worldly things, in regard of the businesses and intercourses of life, it might perhaps with safety be affirmed as universally true that second thoughts are best. But will now the same hold good in respect of religious things? Are our first thoughts, or our second, ordinarily our best, when the subject of thought has to do with duty towards God, and the saving of our souls? "I made haste, and delayed not, to keep Thy commandments." What hurry there is in the sentence! They are the words of a man determined not to wait for second thoughts, as though he knew they would be different from the first, but on that very account less worthy to be followed. And in the foregoing verse, the psalmist had expressed himself to nearly the same effect: "I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto Thy testimonies." Now, let us first look a little practically at the subject. We shall perhaps find ground in the very nature of the case, or in the testimony of experience, for questioning whether in religion second thoughts are best. There may be many theories in regard to the nature of con-science — that principle which acts within us with so mighty an energy; and writers on ethics may have their different suppositions, and propose their different explanations. But we never see that the Scriptural student has any but one theory to adopt, namely, that conscience is virtually the Spirit of God — an instrumentality put into play by the workings of the Holy Ghost; according to the express statement of Solomon — "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord." Herein lies the great reason for what we have affirmed; in a matter of conscience, where the question is between what is morally right and what morally wrong, the first thought is the thought to trust, the first impression the impression to retain. What is whispered, what is suggested to you, at the moment of the question being raised, is whispered, is suggested by that Spirit which, whether or not it be conscience itself, makes conscience its instrument, and secretly touches its springs; but when you hesitate, when you will not follow the Divine impulse, but wait to try whether it will abide certain tests, the almost certainty is that the Holy Spirit, grieved by your unbelief, will suspend His actings, or act with a less direct energy. You are but giving time for the world to pour in its counter-suggestions; for your own corrupt affections to muster their strength; for reason, always swayed by inclination, to arrange something plausible in the way of objection or excuse. Second thoughts! — fruitful parents of "the second death"! Second thoughts make infidels, when first would have made believers. Second thoughts tie men to the world, when first would have devoted them to God. Second thoughts crucify the Lord Jesus afresh, when first would have crucified self. Away henceforwards from religion the maxim, "Second thoughts are best." Uphold it, if you will, in the concerns of commerce; cling to it in the researches of science; defend it in the arrangements of life; but have nothing to do with it in the suggestions of conscience. If you have not begun in religion, second thoughts will prevent your beginning; if you have begun, they will keep you flora proceeding. They are "of the earth, earthy." They produce those waverings, inconsistencies, and backslidings, which are so deplorable, yet so common, amongst religious professors.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.