Ephesians 5:15

I. ITS NECESSITY. The duty of reproof involved the necessity of circumspection in those who were bound to administer it. It may be a small thing to Christians "to be judged of man's judgment" (1 Corinthians 4:3), yet they cannot afford to disregard the force of public opinion. They ought to "have a good report of them which are without" (1 Timothy 3:7). It is evidently with reference to onlookers that the counsel of the apostle is given. "Walk m wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time" (Colossians 4:5). When we consider the number of our enemies, the inconstancy of our minds, the strictness of the Divine requirements, and the jealousy our Divine Master cherishes over his people, it is impossible to walk acceptably unless we walk circumspectly.

II. THE NATURE OF THIS WALK. We are to "walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise."

1. We are to have knowledge of the true way (Jeremiah 6:16; Matthew 7:14), not as the fool, who misses the path.

2. We are to follow the light that falls upon our path, not like the fool, who turns aside to darkness, only to stumble in it (Proverbs 4:27).

3. We are to foresee the dangers of the way and provide against them, not like "the simple, who pass on and are punished" (Proverbs 22:3).

4. We are to have the Lord for our Companion by the way, like "Enoch, who walked with God" (Genesis 5:22). The fool seeks the company of the foolish.

5. We are to keep in view the end of our walk. "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:9).

III. THE APPLICATION OF THIS PRINCIPLE TO THE PROFITABLE USE OF OPPORTUNITY. "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." There can be no wise or careful walking without a due consideration both of the value of time and of the importance of using our opportunities for doing good.

1. The nature of this redemption of time. It is not the mere effort to rescue the fleeting hours of our life from idleness, vanity, distraction, or excessive devotion to business, but an effort to lay hold of opportunities for doing good, to make the most of them, to allow no distractions of pleasure or life to stand in the way of their right employment. Jesus, in his extreme youth, was eager to be "about his Father's business" (Luke 2:49). We are to do good unto all men "as we have opportunity" (Galatians 6:10). We are to do good to our very enemies, after the example of that Father who "maketh his sun to rise upon the evil and the good" (Matthew 5:45). We are to use our opportunities also for receiving good, giving all diligence to make our calling and our election sure (2 Peter 1:10).

2. Reasons for redeeming the time. "Because the days are evil." It is not because our days are few, though that is also a very good reason.

(1) We have lost much time already (1 Peter 4:3);

(2) we do not know how much time yet remains to us (James 4:14);

(3) we have to give an account of all our time and opportunities.

The reason assigned by the apostle is the evil of the days. Time must not be lost if the evil is to be quickly and effectively counteracted. The apostle does not hint the nature of the evil. Yet it is allowable to suppose that the days were evil, not in themselves, but by reason of man's wickedness and folly.

(1) It is the evil of sin, rather than the evil of punishment, that is meant.

(2) It is part of the evil that men do not see it at all.

(3) It is part of the evil that they do not mourn over it.

(4) It is part of the evil that they will do nothing to remove it.

There is, therefore, all the more reason for Christians bestirring themselves in all seasons and spheres of action to counteract the evil of the days. - T.C.







See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.
I. THE DUTY — "Walk circumspectly," i.e., diligently, carefully. The phrase imports such a caution and exactness in our Christian conversation, as resembles that which men use when walking on the top of a precipice or the summit of a building, where a small misstep would endanger a fall, and a fall would be fatal.

1. Walk circumspectly, that you may keep within the line of your duty. Religion is not an extended plain, in which you may walk at large, and turn to any point without passing its limits; but a strait and narrow path, in which you must pursue one steady course without diverting to either side.

(1)Be watchful to retain a sense of virtue and rectitude.

(2)Be attentive, that you may conform to the spirit of God's commands.

2. Walk circumspectly, that you may escape the snares in your way. Your greatest security lies in watchfulness and prayer, lest you enter into temptations. If they meet you, resist them; but your first care must be to avoid them.

3. Walk circumspectly, that you may wisely comport with the aspects of Providence. The beauty of religion, yea, religion itself, greatly consists in the correspondence of your temper and behaviour with your existing circumstances. In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider.

4. Be circumspect, that you may do every duty in its time and place.

5. Walk circumspectly, that your good may not be evil spoken of.

II. THE REASON — "The days are evil." The Christian, while he dwells on earth, may say, "The days are evil" —

1. Because he finds in himself much disorder and corruption.

2. Because he is exposed to various afflictions.

3. Because there are many adversaries.

4. Because iniquity abounds. Much need there is that he should "walk circumspectly."

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

I. THE COURSE AGAINST WHICH WE ARE COUNSELLED. Not to walk as fools. The ungodly walk as fools —

1. As they have no rule of conduct.

2. As they have no direct or distinct object in view.

3. As they walk often presumptuously and without fear of danger.

4. As they act without regard to their real welfare.

II. THE COURSE WHICH IS RECOMMENDED FOR OUR ADOPTION. — "To walk circumspectly, as wise." Now this is just the opposite of the walk of fools. In doing this —

1. We must walk by a wise rule.

2. We must possess the spirit of wisdom. Now this must come from above (see James 3:17).

3. We must imitate the divinely recorded examples of wisdom.

4. We must walk and keep company with the wise.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

I. In the first place, here we see THE TRUE CHARACTER OF THE FAMILY OF GOD. They are called wisdom's children: "Wisdom is justified of her children." We do not deny that in the family of God there is oftentimes great weakness of character; that they make oft mistakes as to doctrine; and yet, compared with their wisdom, there is no wisdom upon earth. They are wise in the things of God; they are wise in the concerns of eternity; and compared with that wisdom, all the wisdom in this world is folly. These are they that know Christ; and to know Him is life eternal. These are they that know what sin is. These are they that know the great secret of holiness. These are they that know the way to a throne of grace. These are they that know where the treasury is, and the door to it; that Jesus is the treasury, and that He has opened the door by His own precious blood. These are the men who know how to meet trouble: that trouble that scares a worldly man.

II. But now observe, THESE ARE EXHORTED TO WALK WISELY. As I said before, the wise man may oftentimes walk unwisely. We see it in the histories in the Bible; we see it in the biography of God's saints. "See that ye walk circumspectly": accurately. The worldly man lives at random. Sometimes his will leads him, his caprice, his fancy, his passion; sometimes he guides himself, sometimes others guide him. The apostle exhorts the wise to walk accurately; according to the rule of God's Word, according to the rule of an enlightened conscience, and according to the rule of a filial, Joying heart.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

Essex Congregational Remembrancer.
I. THE CHRISTIAN'S DUTY. Every person familiar with the Bible knows that the term walking, applied to the Christian, signifies his habitual temper and deportment. The word here rendered "circumspectly," in the original Scriptures suggests rather the term "accurately," agreeable to a prescribed rule; and the translators of the Bible have adopted the word "circumspectly," inasmuch as no one can walk accurately, or correctly, without looking about him, and carefully too. It is the part of fools to be heedless, taking their steps without care, insensible of their danger.

1. Christians should walk judiciously; impelled by principle rather than by feeling.

2. Christians should walk correctly or accurately according to the prescribed rule.

3. Christians should walk prudently, mindful of consequences.

4. Christians should advance cautiously, apprehensive of danger, and guarding against it.

5. Christians should walk diligently, improving every favourable opportunity.

II. THE ARGUMENTS WHICH ENFORCE IT.

1. We plead the obligations of a religious profession. Many, indeed, are called Christians, but we refer to those who profess themselves not merely nominal but real Christians.

2. The solemn and express engagements into which many have voluntarily entered, present a second argument. Surely, Christians, your own acts must be binding.

3. The anxiety Christians must feel for the credit of religion, and for the honour of the Saviour, is a most powerful motive urging them to greater circumspection.

4. A regard to his relative usefulness is another consideration urging the Christian to greater watchfulness.

5. The positive injury to others, which invariably results from a flagrantly inconsistent profession of religion.

6. We urge upon the Christian, as a final motive to greater circumspection, a due regard to his own personal interests. His peace, his comfort, and even his safety are alike involved in it.

(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)

Reasons to evince the necessity of this circumspect walking. First: We have a strict rule, that doth not yield the least allowance and indulgence to sin. Secondly: What a holy God we have for our witness, approver, and judge, who will one day call us to an account! Thirdly: A great obligation to our strict obedience, as we are children of the light.

1. Surely there should be a great and broad difference between them and the children of darkness.

2. Because the more light and knowledge a man hath, the more he is bound to take heed to his ways, that his practice may be according to his light.

3. They are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14; Philippians 3:15). They should be a copy and pattern to others to invite them to the heavenly life by the strictness and seriousness of their conversations. The same honour is put upon you that was put upon the star at Bethlehem, to be guides to Christ. Therefore you are to be more exemplary, which cannot be without circumspection.

4. Because there are many snares and dangers; as in a chessboard, we can hardly move back or forth but we are ready to be attacked. In all the businesses, affairs, and comforts of this life, we are apt to miscarry. Yea, sometimes there may be a snare in our duties (1 Timothy 3:6). Now they that are not circumspect are sure to miscarry. He that hath his eyes in his head, and looketh about him, may escape (Proverbs 1:17).

5. blest Christians have but a weak heart, that is apt to lead them aside into some unbecoming practice. Our heart is most in danger, and therefore we have need to look to ourselves (1 Corinthians 10:12).

6. Consider how many guards God hath set upon man, who is apt to fly out upon all occasions. There is an external guard, the magistrate, who is to watch for thy good (Romans 13:4).

7. Because there are so many spies upon us, who may make an ill use of our failings. I shall instance in three — Satan, wicked men, and weak brethren.Of reproof.

1. Of those that scoff at strictness and accurate walking. These scoff at that which is the glory of that religion which they do profess, that which God aimed at, that which Christ purchased, that which the Spirit worketh. Can a man keep at too great a distance from sin? But it is preciseness and fond scrupulosity. So did the conversations of Christians seem to the old pagans (1 Peter 4:3, 4).

2. It reproveth them that think men are more nice than wise, that we make more ado than needeth when we press men to a constant watchfulness and serious diligence in the heavenly life. Oh, consider, we have slippery hearts, and live in the midst of temptations, and are to approve ourselves in the sight of a holy God, who expecteth to be glorified by us.

3. Some slight strictness as a thing out of date, since they know their liberty by Christ. Alas! all the doctrines of grace do enforce it, not lessen it (Titus 2:11, 12). There are some grazes necessary, and some practices.First: For graces which are necessary, such as these —

1. Watchfulness, and heed that nothing unseemly pass from us. Those that are rash and indeliberate, and live at haphazard, can never walk accurately: "He that hasteth with his feet, sinneth" (Proverbs 19:2).

2. The fear of God: "They walked in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 9:31). This is a grace never out of season (Proverbs 23:17).

3. Diligence, that we may both remove impediments of good and avoid occasions of evil, that you may take an accurate inspection of your whole life and conversation. Frequently examine your ways, whither they tend (Proverbs 4:26, 27).

4. A tender conscience. Make conscience not only of gross sins, but lesser escapes. Do not wittingly tread one hair's breadth out of the way, nor run into any sin, much less live in it, be it never so small and profitable in the esteem of the world (Proverbs 7:2). The eye is offended with the least dust.Secondly: Helps by way of practice.

1. Fix your end; for when the end is fixed, the means may be the better suited; it shineth to us all the way along: "If thine eye be single, thy whole body is full of light" (Matthew 6:22); "Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee" (Proverbs 4:25). We should mind all things with respect to our end.

2. Take an account of the way you walk in: "I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto Thy testimonies" (Psalm 119:59; Lamentations 3:40).

3. Seek a good guide. Use much prayer to God, that He may direct you (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

4. Renew your covenant, and often engage yourselves afresh to this strict and holy walking, because the strength of former resolutions is soon spent: "I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep Thy righteous judgments" (Psalm 119:106).

5. Season the heart with strict principles.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

There are many points of folly to be avoided.

1. Be not in a hurry to judge God's providences.

2. Do not mock at sin. Fools make a mock at sin; whereas sin is the only thing to be feared.

3. Set not your affections upon worldly things.

4. Be not slow to receive the verities of faith.

5. Be not foolish in regarding mysteries.

(J. Stratten.)

It used to be said of old that all roads led to Rome, because she was the capital of the world. And nowadays, in the most remote country place in England, you will find a road which leads to London. But all roads do not lead to heaven. Some foolish people like to believe that they. can travel anyway they please, and yet reach heaven at last. They love to imagine that they can hold to any doctrine, however false and extravagant, and set up a gospel of their own, and yet find the way to heaven. Let us think of some of the rules by which we must walk in the narrow way.

1. We must walk humbly. It is a narrow way, remember, and if we walk with our heads lifted up by pride, we shall miss our footing, and slip from the path. The gate, too, is strait, or narrow. It is like one of those low-pitched, narrow entrances which you may still see in old buildings, and which were common once in all our ancient towns. A traveller could not get through those gates unless he bent his head, and bowed his shoulders.

2. If we walk along the narrow way, we must not overload ourselves. There are some burdens which we must bear, but the dear Lord, who laid them upon us, will give us strength to carry them. It is the burden of the world's making which will hinder us. We see a man who wants to walk in the right way, who hopes to pass through the narrow gate, who has so loaded himself with worldly things that he goes staggering along, till he is like one escaping from a shipwreck, who tries to swim ashore with all his money bags, and is sunk to the bottom by their weight. Sometimes people, coming home from abroad, bring with them a quantity of smuggled goods, and their clothes are all padded with laces, and other ill-gotten gear. What happens? They are stopped at a narrow gate, and stripped of all their load before they are permitted to return home. So, my brothers, if you would pass the gate which leads home, to the rest which remaineth for the people of God, you must not overload yourselves with this world's gear.

(H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, M. A.)

It is no uncommon thing to hear persons commended for their regular and circumspect way of living, viz., with respect to their diet and exercise, and other things that belong to their bodily health; whilst few are taken notice of, esteemed and honoured for a higher sort of regularity and circumspection, such as relates to their immortal souls, and the concerns of a better life. Here many are content to be remiss and superficial, and make it the least of their study to be exact.

I. I begin with the first observable, THE GENERAL IMPORTANT DUTY INCUMBENT ON US, "See that ye walk circumspectly." The remark, then, upon this first clause of the text is this, that a Christian's life is a life of the greatest accuracy and exactness. A Christian is one that is not like other men, he surpasses the common condition of mankind.

1. This exact and circumspect walking is not singularity and affectation. It is no fantastic opposition to the common usages and received customs of mankind, if they be in themselves lawful and innocent.

2. This exactness in my text favours nothing of over-nice fear and superstition, in which many place a great part of their religion. St. Paul tells us, he was of the strictest sect of religion, meaning that of the Pharisees. But that strictness and exactness were afterwards undervalued by him as trifling and childish.

3. Neither doth this duty imply any pharisaical boasting and ostentation of strictness. That proud and arrogant sect before mentioned used to glory in their great severity of life, or rather in the mere appearance of it.

4. This exact living doth not import any fond rigour and austerity over the body, as some have imagined.

5. This strictness or exactness of life doth not contain in it any notion of merit and supererogation.

6. This circumspect and exact walking doth not speak complete perfection and absolute freedom from all sin.

II. To further and advance you still in this great and weighty affair, I will proceed in the next place to tell you positively WHEREIN THIS EXACTNESS OR CIRCUMSPECTION, WHICH THE APOSTLE COMMENDS TO YOU, DOTH CONSIST.

1. It is opposed to idleness, neutrality, and indifferency, and consequently is an act of Christian zeal and vigour. He must shake off all coldness and indifferency, and prosecute religion with the warmest emotions of mind, with the most ardent zeal and liveliness.

2. This strict and accurate walking is opposed to partiality, and so doth denote universal obedience, and having respect unto all the Divine law. There is no exactness without a rule or square, and that is the Word of God. Now this universal respect unto God's laws (wherein the Christian circumspection is so much seen) requires of us and strictly obliges us to these three things:(1) That we refrain not only from outward and visible acts of sin, but that the inward lusts and hidden desires of vice be carefully supprest in our minds.(2) We are obliged, as we would be impartial observers of God's laws, not only to perform the visible and public offices of religion, and such as are more easy in themselves and more creditable and fashionable in the account of the world, but likewise to be mindful of the private exercises of devotion, such as praying to God in our retirements.(3) Our universal respect to God's laws obliges us not only to abstain from gross and notorious crimes, and such offences as are very heinous and enormous, but also to make conscience of lesser and smaller sins.

3. This Christian duty of exact walking is opposed to our giving of scandal and offence to our brethren, and consequently commends to us a wary and cautious deporting of ourselves before those we converse with. This is circumspection in the true and precise notion of the word. It supposes persons to look about them, and to take good notice of things, and weigh well what they do, and before whom they act.

4. This duty in my text is opposed to hypocrisy and formality, and so it engages us to be sincere and cordial in whatever we do.

5. He that would acquit himself to be an exact walker, must more mind the things that are substantial and essential in religion, than those that are merely circumstantial and accidental. Religion doth not consist in puncto, its exactness is not placed in petty and mean things.

6. This Christian exactness is opposed to apostasy and backsliding, and so it obliges us to increase every day more and more in holiness, to abound in grace, and to persevere in the ways of goodness.

7. This most accurate and strict life of a Christian, is no less than an aiming and endeavouring after perfection.

III. TO EXCITE YOU TO THIS CHRISTIAN EXACTNESS AND CIRCUMSPECTION WHICH I HAVE BEEN INSISTING UPON, I PRAY LET THESE FOLLOWING CONSIDERATIONS BE ENTERTAINED BY YOU:

1. Think how strict the principles and rules of Christianity are, and accordingly what great improvements were intended by them. The institution of the gospel designed as for greater perfection than ever was attained by the ceremonious Jew, or the most accomplished Gentile.

2. Besides the doctrine of Christianity and the design and purpose of Christ in it, I may adjoin the most holy, exact, and exemplary life of our blessed Master, and on this consideration I may urge you to a wary and circumspect walking; for the life of a Christian should be no other than a conformity to the life of Christ. We are to follow His steps, and to reckon His actions to be our pattern.

3. Consider how great helps and assistances God is pleased to afford you, and you will conclude it reasonable to walk with great exactness and strictness. The cruel and unmerciful taskmasters in Egypt pressed the Israelites to make brick, but would not give them their allowance of strait. We deal with no such hard master.

4. Think with how many dangers you are every moment environed, and you will be concerned to walk circumspectly, to tread cautiously, to live orderly and regularly. This world is hung about with snares, beset with various temptations, and the spirit of darkness, that great enemy of God and our souls, is ever plotting and contriving our ruin.

5. Set before you, and often seriously represent to your thoughts, the everlasting rewards of heaven. I cannot apply the common story of the Limner better than here. That famous artist was wont to take up a great deal of time in finishing his pictures and portrays, whereas others of that profession made quick dispatch, and had soon done their work. He, being asked why he was so long at his, and why so curious and exact? gave this short answer, "I paint for eternity," i.e., I do my work so that all future ages shall applaud me, I design myself a perpetual reward of fame. Did we but consider that every line we draw in our lives, every stroke we make, every enterprize we undertake, is for eternity; if we seriously thought of this, we should be more accurate and exact, more laborious and industrious, in all that we do. We are those that draw and limn for eternity, we labour for that which endureth to everlasting life; therefore we cannot be too long and tedious about our work, we cannot be too diligent and exact about it.

6. Let me add this one consideration more, that an exact and exemplary life is the best (if not the only) way you can take to work upon others, to amend the sinful world, to reclaim men from their follies, to win them to the embracing of religion and holiness, which I doubt not you think is a design well worth your prosecuting.

(John Edwards, D. D.)

Having dispatched the first observable in the text, which was the grand duty incumbent on us, viz., that "we walk circumspectly," I proceed now to the particular instances of this duty, and they are "Christian wisdom" and "redeeming the time."

1. I say, we may more eminently convince the world that we have obtained to Christian wisdom and prudence by our being of a humble and meek spirit. There is nothing looks so unbecoming in a person that professes godliness as pride.

2. Make a visible proof of your walking wisely by being of a peaceable and quiet, a loving and charitable temper, and that, first, among yourselves, secondly, towards all men. Let your first care be that you disgrace not religion by falling out among yourselves.

3. Though you ought to maintain a loving and sociable converse with the world, yet Christian wisdom directs you to abhor and avoid all intimate commerce and friendship with such as you know to be professed enemies to virtue and godliness, and are openly profane, and refuse to be reclaimed from their abominable practices.

4. Show your godly wisdom in your strict observing of the second table as well as the first. Your duty to God must never exclude that which you owe to your neighbours, for in discharging both you serve God.

5. Let your prudence be seen in your perfect vanquishing of earthly-mindedness and covetousness.

6. Walk not as fools, but as wise, by living contentedly and cheerfully in whatever state of life it pleaseth the Divine Providence to place you. Serve God and be joyful, is a Christian's motto. He hath learnt to live by faith, which is ever accompanied with rejoicing.

7. Discover your Christian prudence and wisdom by being always more strict and severe to yourselves than you are to your neighbours.

8. Show your Christian prudence (and in that your circumspection) in being cautious in the use of lawful and innocent things.

9. Let our spiritual care and wisdom be seen in our not making ourselves guilty of other men's sins.The application of all shall be in these two particulars:

1. Be deterred from all appearance of wickedness and vice.

2. Be encouraged to a holy and godly life.Think you have reason to be deterred from all manner of vicious practices on this double consideration:

1. Lest the ways of God be evil spoken of, and consequently that God himself be dishonoured thereby.

2. Lest others be drawn to imitate your ill example.

(John Edwards, D. D.)

There is a grace too little thought of, which, nevertheless, belongs eminently to a Christian man. Let not any man think lightly of it, as though it were a mere heathen virtue. I mean, a cautious exactness. It is this of which the apostle is speaking in my text. For so it would be most literally translated, "See that ye walk accurately, or exactly." Now, it is certain that he who would be accurate in action, must first be a man accurate in thought, and that especially in thoughts about God. If a man allow himself inaccurate views about religion, how can we wonder that the life, which is, after all, but the reflection of every man's mind, be inaccurate too? Now, in close connection with this accurate holding of truth, let me earnestly impress upon you the necessity of the accurate performance of the daily duties of your own closet. Four things you have always to do when you are in your own room alone with God: to read God; to read self; to bring self to God; and to bring God to self. Let each have its own little space; and let each be done with exactness of thought. Who can wonder if all irregularities grow up into that mind which is not disciplined in spiritual duties? Or, what profit can there be in a flung prayer; or in jumbled thoughts as you read the Bible? With this foundation, then, of the exactness of the knowledge of truth in your minds, and with very measured, punctual prayers, let a man go forth. But as he goes forth, let him still carry with him the thought, that the outer life always follows the inner life, and that, before there can be correctness of action in any matter, there must first be strictness of feeling; and that, after all, in everything the motive is the determining consideration. Therefore, in this, as in everything else, the Christian has to guard and study most what is secret and unseen by men. He must accustom himself, by daily efforts, to think accurately. He must be always a man keeping the tight rein of his affection. He must always be practising, and habituating his judgments. He must go up and down the chambers of his own heart, and be always setting his own heart in order. He must "walk circumspectly" with his inner man. He must make a covenant with his eyes. He must prevent a rising desire when it first springs up. He must chasten himself in his inner thoughts. He must be within what he wishes to appear to be without.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

The prudent man, in the world's estimation, is one who walks circumspectly; who goes through life, as the saying is, with his wits about him; with his eyes open to mark every opportunity; ready to spread his sail to every wind; one who does not rashly commit himself, but rather stands aloof and studies others, and uses the results for his own advantage. Prudence, or providence, for the words are the same, implies a power to overlook the pressing temptation of the present, for the weighty advantage of the future — that which glitters and deceives, for that which is solid but less attractive. Now, all this is our guide and pattern. What they do for corruptible advantages, we are to do for an incorruptible. What they do and submit to for a self whose interests terminate here, we are to act and to suffer for one whose welfare is not bounded by time. Yet how far are we from acting with the prudence that they do. Careless about the high interests before us, we let time flit by, and opportunities pass unheeded. We do not study the aspect of the days in which we live, nor ask ourselves what care they especially demand that we may be effective for good; and so the gospel is losing ground, and unbelief is coining in like a tide upon us, and men's lives are losing their Christian character, and evils of unmeasured magnitude must follow, if we do not awake in time to spiritual wisdom. I will first remind you that we Christians were certainly never meant to be thus remiss and insensible; that Christ came to redeem and renew us in every legitimate faculty and every salutary use of it. The redemption of Jesus Christ was wrought to comprehend man's whole nature, and man's whole history; there is no lawful advance of mankind, no wholesome invention, which it may not; include in its instruments for God's glory, and by neglecting which it does not lose space and power for its work; no symptom of the state of men's minds and of society, which it ought not to turn to account for its high purposes. We need to walk circumspectly, brethren, both in belief, and in practice. Belief is a state of mind made up of the results of persuasion, and the influence of habit. And this latter is very much affected by the society among which we move in life. So that any prevailing character in the views and thoughts of an age is sure to be reproduced more or less in each individual man's belief. Let us pass on now to practice. Here, too, we most deeply need wary and circumspect walking, as to both the good and the bad habits and influences around us. There can be no doubt that we live in an age of much practical good. The infirmities, miseries, and ignorances of humanity are more noticed and more cared for than in any previous age. We have numerous institutions calculated to teach the ignorant, to reclaim the fallen, to help those who need help. Well, then, our question today is, are we Christians walking prudently, with regard to all this machinery for good? Are we making the most of it for God and for our own eternal happiness? And if not, how may we do so? Strive to do what thou canst do well, and to serve where thou canst serve with a pure conscience; but aim not at duties which thou canst; never thoroughly perform, and at offices which thou canst not satisfactorily fill. If we are walking circumspectly, can we avoid hearing such voices as these sounding about us? if we are not fools but wise, shall we not admit them to a place in our counsels, and in the formation of our plans in life?

(Dean Alford.)

It was the safety of Methodism, and the secret of its success, that in its first rise among the knot of men in Oxford who banded themselves together for security in the midst of ungodliness and vice prevailing all around them, they soon learned the lesson of combining the two elements and conditions of a right Christian mode of life; walking circumspectly, strictly by rule, methodically arranging and rigidly observing a definite plan of spiritual life; and yet doing so, not foolishly, as if they were to be the slaves of their own arrangements; but; wisely, with a wise common sense, and intensely Christian regard to the evil days on which their lot had fallen, and the urgent need of their redeeming the time, grasping and improving the opportunity. It was this that made Methodism a power; not a new retreat and home for recluse spirits and souls sick of sin and of the world; but a new source of blessed influence in a dry, cold age; a mighty agent for the revival and regeneration of a Christianity that had fallen upon, and, alas! yielded itself up to what were, truly evil days.

(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)

Life is a voyage in a frail boat upon a dangerous sea, a sea washed by mighty currents, liable to awful storms, torn with sunken reefs, bound by iron shores. If the captain be wise and watchful, if his crew be under due control, if his anchors be strong, his chart correct, his compass true, his vessel taut, he may safely ride out the hurricane, and safely reach the haven where he would be. But, ah! if he leave her to drift with mutinous sailors, false chart, damaged compass, rent sails, untended helm, what shall be the end but a dismantled hulk upon the surging waters, or a desolate wreck upon the lonely shore? Is life, with all its tremendous realities, a thing less dangerous? If the fool's ship will not be ruled by the rudder, must it not be ruled by the rock?

(Archdeacon Farrar.)

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