Lamentations 3:27
It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is still young.
Sermons
A Sermon to Young MenW. M. Statham, M. A.Lamentations 3:27
Bearing the YokeO. T. Lanphear, D. D.Lamentations 3:27
Bearing the Yoke in YouthJohn Hambleton, M. A.Lamentations 3:27
Deferring the Yoke Leads to Regret, in After YearsAlexander Smellie.Lamentations 3:27
Good to Bear the Yoke in YouthJ. T. Davidson, D. D.Lamentations 3:27
Ideal EducationH. O. Mackey.Lamentations 3:27
On Bearing the Yoke in YouthDean Vaughan.Lamentations 3:27
On the Duty of Restraining the YoungW. Moodie, D. D.Lamentations 3:27
The Best Burden for Young ShouldersLamentations 3:27
The Discipline of YouthD. Young Lamentations 3:27
The Good of Early ObedienceM. Mead.Lamentations 3:27
The Necessity and Advantage of Early AfflictionsH. Scougal, M. A.Lamentations 3:27
The Necessity for Early Yoke-BearingJ. Thain Davidson.Lamentations 3:27
The Trials of YouthM. Dods, D. D.Lamentations 3:27
The Yoke in YouthJ.R. Thomson Lamentations 3:27
The Yoke of ReligionJ. Benson.Lamentations 3:27
Yoke BearingHomiletic MagazineLamentations 3:27
Yoke-BearingLamentations 3:27
Yoke-Bearing in YouthJ. Parker, D. D.Lamentations 3:27
Youth the Time for Taking Christ's YokeJ. Thain Davidson.Lamentations 3:27
Awaiting God's WorkingJohn Hall.Lamentations 3:25-36
God's Goodness to Them that WaitT. P. Crosse, D. C. L.Lamentations 3:25-36
Seeking and WaitingW. B. Pope, D. D.Lamentations 3:25-36
The Grace of PatienceH. W. Beecher.Lamentations 3:25-36
Waiting and Reliance Upon the UnseenLamentations 3:25-36
Waiting for GodJ. M'Cosh.Lamentations 3:25-36
Waiting RewardedLamentations 3:25-36
Hope and PatienceJohn Ker, D. D.Lamentations 3:26-36
Hoping and WaitingJ. G. Greenhough, M. A.Lamentations 3:26-36
Quiet WaitingW. F. Adeney, M. A.Lamentations 3:26-36
Quietness and HopeR. Waddy Moss.Lamentations 3:26-36
The Advantage of Hoping and Waiting for the Salvation of GodPulpit Assistant.Lamentations 3:26-36
The Advantages of a State of ExpectationH. Melvill, B. D.Lamentations 3:26-36
The Christian's Hope and PatienceR. W. Kyle, B. A.Lamentations 3:26-36


This is not a welcome lesson. It is natural to all, and especially the young, to resist authority, to defy restraint, to resent punishment. As the young ox has to be brought under the yoke, as the young horse has to be accustomed to the bit and the bridle, the harness and the saddle, so the young must learn the practical and valuable lesson of endurance and submission.

I. IN HUMAN LIFE A YOKE IS IMPOSED UPON ALL. In some cases it is easier and in others more galling; but there is no escape, no exception. Labour must be undergone, the daily burden must be borne, restraints must be endured for the sake of the general good, sacrifices must be made, patience must be called forth and cultivated.

II. WHEN FIRST FELT IN LATER LIFE, THE YOKE IS ESPECIALLY HARD TO BEAR. It sometimes happens that youth is sheltered from the storm of adversity, which beats fiercely upon the inexperienced and the undisciplined only in later years. It is well known how severely trouble is felt in such cases; for the back is not fitted to the burden, the neck is not bent to the yoke.

III. THE DISCIPLINE EXPERIENCED IN YOUTH FITS FOR THE TOIL AND SUFFERING OF AFTER LIFE. This is why it is "good" then to endure it. Many of the noblest characters have known trouble in early life, and have thus learned the wholesome lessons of adversity which have stood them in good stead in after years. They who are afflicted in their youth learn the limitation of their own powers, learn the inexorable necessities of human life, and become apt scholars in the great school of Divine providence.

IV. RESISTANCE TO THE YOKE IS WRONG AND FOOLISH, SUBMISSION IS RIGHT AND WISE. It is hard to kick against the goads; it is useless to resent the appointments of Divine wisdom. There are cases in which a rebellious spirit lasts all through life, and it is unquestionable that misery accompanies it. On the other hand, if the yoke be borne early and borne patiently, it becomes easier with custom. And those who are strong to suffer are also strong to serve. - T.









It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
Yoke bearing is not pleasant, but it is good. It not every pleasant thing that is good, nor every good thing that is pleasant. Sometimes the goodness may be just in proportion to the unpleasantness. Even apart from the grace of God, and apart from religion, it is a great blessing for a man to bear the yoke in his youth! that is to say, first, it is good for us when we are young to learn obedience. It is half the making of a man to be placed under rule, and taught to bear restraint. It is good for young people to bear the yoke, too, in the sense of giving themselves in their early days to acquire knowledge. If we do not learn when we are young, when shall we learn? It is good for young people, too — we are now talking about the natural meaning of the passage — good for them that they should encounter difficulties and troubles when they begin life. The silver spoon in the mouth with which some people are born is very apt to choke them. It is not, however, my business to preach about these matters at any length; I am not a moral lecturer, but a minister of the Gospel. I have fulfilled a duty when I have given the first meaning to the text, and now I shall use it for nobler ends.

I. IT IS GOOD TO BE A CHRISTIAN WHILE YOU ARE YOUNG. It is good for a man to bear Christ's yoke in his youth.

1. For, see, first, the man whose heart is conquered by Divine grace early is made happy soon. That is a blessed prayer in the psalm, "O satisfy us early with Thy mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days"

2. Besides, while early piety brings early happiness, let it never be forgotten that it saves from a thousand snares. Eleventh hour mercies are very sweet. But what a double privilege it is to be set to work in the vineyard while yet the dew is on the leaves, and so to be kept from the idleness and the wickedness of the market place in which others loiter so long.

3. It is good for a man to bear Christ's yoke in his youth, because it saves him from having those shoulders galled with the devil's yoke. Sins long, indulged grow to the shoulders, and to remove them is like tearing away one's flesh.

4. There is this goodness about it, again, that it gives you longer time in which to serve God. Blessed be His name, He will accept eventide service; but still, how much better to be able to serve the Lord from your youth up, to give Him those bright days while the birds are singing in the soul, when the sun is unclouded, and the shadows are not falling; and then to give Him the long evening, when at eventide He makes it light, and causes the infirmities of age to display His power and His fidelity.

5. There is this goodness about it yet further, that it enables one to be well established in Divine things. I bless God that a man who has believed in Jesus only one second is a saved man; but he is not an instructed man, he is not an established man. He is not trained for battle; nor tutored for labour. These things take time.

6. And then, let me say, it gives such confidence in after life to have given your heart to Jesus young.

II. IT IS GOOD FOR YOUNG CHRISTIANS THAT THEY BEAR THE YOKE OF JESUS.

1. It will be for your good as long as ever you live to render to Jesus complete obedience at the very first. Every young Christian when he is converted should take time to consider, and should say to himself, "What am I to do? What is the duty of a Christian?" He should also devoutly say to the Lord Jesus, "Lord, show me what Thou wouldst have me to do," and wait upon the Holy Ghost for guidance.

2. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth, by attaining clear instruction in Divine truth. We ought to go to the Lord Jesus Christ to learn of Him, not merely about ordinances and actions, but about what to think and what to believe.

3. It is good for young converts also to bear the yoke by beginning to serve Jesus Christ early. There is work for every believer to do in Christ's vineyard. "Ah," says one, "I shall begin when I can preach." Will you? You had better begin writing a letter to that young friend with whom you went to school. You had better begin by dropping a tract down an area, or by trying to speak to some young person of your own age.

4. It is also good that when we begin to serve God we should bear the yoke in another sense, namely, by finding difficulties. It is a good thing for a true worker for the devil to labour to put him down, because if God has put him up, he cannot be put down, but the attempt to overthrow him will do him good, develop his spiritual muscle, and bring out the powers of his mind.

5. It is good to meet with persecution in your youth. A Christian is a hardy plant. Many years ago a larch was brought to England. The gentleman who brought it put it in his hothouse, but it did not develop in a healthy manner. It was a spindly thing, and therefore the gardener, feeling that he could not make anything of it, took it up and threw it out upon the dunghill. There it grew into a splendid tree, for it had found a temperature suitable to its nature. The tree was meant to grow near the snow; it loves cold winds and rough weather, and they had been sweating it to death in a hothouse. So it is with true Christianity. It seldom flourishes so well in the midst of ease and luxury as it does in great tribulation.

6. I believe it is good for young Christians to experience much soul trouble. It is much better on the whole that a man should be timid and trembling than that he should early in life become very confident. "Blessed is the man that feareth always" is a scriptural text — not the slavish fear, nor yet a fear that doubts God, but still a fear. These ordeals are of essential service to the newborn believer, and prepare him alike for the joys and the sorrows of his spiritual career.

III. Practically WE ARE ALL OF US IN OUR YOUTH. None of us will come of age till we enter heaven. We are still under tutors and governors, because we are even now as little children.

1. It is good that we who have gone some distance on the road to heaven should still have something to bear, because it enables us to honour Christ still. If we do not suffer with Him, how can we have fellowship with Him? If we have no crosses to carry, how can we commune with our Lord, the chief cross-bearer?

2. It is good for us all to bear the yoke, too, because thus old Adam is kept in check. Sheep do not stray so much when the black dog is after them; his barkings make them run to the shepherd. Affliction is the black dog of the Good Shepherd to fetch us back to Him, otherwise we should wander to our ruin.

3. Besides, it makes you so helpful to others to have known affliction. I do not see how we can sympathise if we are never tried ourselves.

4. Once more, is it not good to bear the yoke while we are here, because it will make heaven all the sweeter? What a change for the martyr standing at the stake burning slowly to death, and then rising to behold the glory of his Lord! What a change for you, dear old friend, with all those aches and pains about you, which make you feel uneasy even while you are sitting here!

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

The figure is taken from farm life. If a ploughing ex is to be well adapted for its labour, and make a good furrow, it must be disciplined while it is quite young. If this be neglected, it is vain to attempt it by and by; the beast will only be fretted and irritated, and any work it is put to will be a failure. A traveller in the East graphically describes, as an eyewitness, the difficulty of getting an untrained ox to perform agricultural work. "I had frequent opportunities," he says, "of witnessing the conduct of oxen, when for the first time put into the yoke. They generally made a strenuous struggle for liberty, repeatedly breaking the yoke, and attempting to make their escape. At other times such bullocks would lie down upon their side or back, and remain so in defiance of the drivers, though they lashed them with ponderous whips. Sometimes, from pity to the animal, I would interfere, and beg them not to be so cruel. 'Cruel!' they would say, 'it is mercy; for if we do not conquer him now, he will require to be so beaten all his life.'"

I. It is good for a man to bear in his youth the yoke of SUBJECTION TO AUTHORITY. The unkindest thing you can do to a child is to throw the reins over his shoulders, and let him do as he likes. If you wish to ruin his prospects, and to develop a mean, selfish, overbearing nature, never contradict him, never oppose him, let his every freak and fancy be gratified. But it is not only for little children that the yoke of subjection to authority is wholesome. It is quite possible that the yoke may be removed Coo soon. Until the character is fairly formed, and the judgment is stronger than the will, and the mind and conscience have ascendancy over the lower nature, the controlling influence of another should be felt.

II. It is good for a man to bear in his youth the yoke of SELF-RESTRAINT. However widely we may differ in appetite and temperament — some, of course, finding the needful self-control much harder than others — there are, with all of us, desires and tendencies which we have sternly to resist, and the denying of which is part of the training by which we are fitted for a noble and useful life. The very lusts, passions, appetites, and tempers of which, more or less, we are all conscious, may be turned to real service in our moral equipment for life; for, in the steadfast resistance of them, and victory over them, we become stronger men than had these been no conflict at all.

III. It is good for a man to bear in his youth the yoke of DIFFICULTY AND TOIL. Nothing like having to "rough it a bit" in early life. It is very far indeed from being an advantage to a man to have been "born with a silver spoon in his mouth." It is good for us all to have to work for our bread. Our Creator intended us for labour, and not for indolence. Many is the prosperous man of business who will tell you that he can never be too thankful for having had to bear in his youth the yoke of genuine hard work. It was this that developed his energies, strengthened his muscle, and, under God, made his life successful and happy.

IV. It is good for a man to bear in his youth the yoke of LIVING GODLINESS. It is to this that our blessed Saviour invites us when He says, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me." It is good for a man to become a decided Christian in early life. Now it is perfectly true that, as Christ says, "this yoke is easy, and this burden light"; and yet it would not be called a yoke at all if it did not mean something that the flesh does not readily take up — something that is contrary to our fallen nature. It is not natural to us to be Christians. Like the bullock, we have to bend, we have to stoop, that the yoke may be put upon us; and this stooping is what none of us like. Our proud wills must be humbled; our old self must be crucified.

V. It is good for a man to bear in his youth the yoke of a PUBLIC CHRISTIAN PROFESSION. The first thing, of course, is to be a Christian; but the next thing is to avow it. It is good in a thousand ways — good for yourselves now; good for others; good for the cause of Christ; good for the glory of God; good for your own future comfort and joy, that, without delay, you step right over to the ranks of the Lord's people, and openly attach yourselves to the Christian Church.

VI. It is good for a man to bear in his youth the yoke of CHRISTIAN SERVICE. It will help your own faith wonderfully to be engaged in some real labour for the Lord. Drop a solemn word in the ear of some careless companion, and see how the Lord helps you in that. Link your arm with some thoughtless young fellow, and try to bring him with you to the house of God. Write a kind letter to your cousin who is getting tinged with infidelity, and tell him of the nobler and better way.

VII. It is good for a man to bear in his youth the yoke of PERSONAL AFFLICTION. Many an one has thanked God all his days for some heavy cross he had to carry when he was young. In the memoir of Dr. Norman M'Leod it is stated that nothing produced a greater effect upon him during the whole course of his life, than the death of a favourite brother, when they were both quite young men. There are many other forms of trial, as you well know: there is the breaking up of a happy home; the coming away from all the tender associations and hallowed scenes of infancy; the solitude of a great city where all are strangers to you; the loss of a situation, or disappointment in your efforts to obtain one: all these things are trying, and may prove a heavy yoke to bear; but, believe me, it is good to bear them in one's youth. You may be the better all your days for the bitter discipline.

(J. T. Davidson, D. D.)

1. There is, for example, the yoke of home. Woe to that home which lays no yoke upon its inmates! That is the very office of the family towards its young and inexperienced members. To turn the current of the young life into a right channel — to make good habitual by use, and (to that end) to insist upon conformity to a good rule — to require, as the condition of maintenance, as the condition of protection, as the condition of life, that this and not this shall be the conduct and the speech and the temper and (down to very minute particulars) the mode of living — this is the duty of a home, in order that it may bring after it God's assigned and certain blessing. Now all this implies compulsion; for it demands of the young life that which it cannot give, and cannot be, without constraint.

2. But the home must at last send out its sons and its daughters into a rougher school of experience, and the hallway house on this journey is, first, the school, with its discipline, longer or shorter as the case may be, either of elementary or classical learning, and then in some form or other that which comes for most young men afterwards, the more special training for a particular profession or trade. Here too there is a yoke, and a yoke bearing; or else a refusal of the yoke, with many sad consequences of sorrow and shame. A day is coming for you, even in this life, when you will give God thanks for every day's trial, for every day's privation, for every day's hardship, which you have honestly and bravely borne.

3. Many suffer seriously throughout their life by not having borne in their youth the yoke of a Church. It is not well to be entirely at large in these matters. Who is the person looked to for counsel, who is the person privileged to advise, who is the person bound to reprove — and do not all young people need these offices from some one? — if the young Christian is sometimes at church, sometimes at chapel — sometimes at this church or this chapel, sometimes at that — thus evading, by a perpetual shifting of the scene, all the responsibilities and all the accountabilities of each and of all?

4. There is One who uses this very figure concerning His own Divine office, "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me." Certainly of this yoke it must be true that it is good for a man to bear it in his youth. No age is too young for it: He Himself declared that infant children were not too young to put it on: He Himself dealt tenderly and lovingly with the young man who came to Him to be taught the way of life: and there is no doubt that, unless it is put on in youth, it never will sit quite easily, and it never will be without some galling pressure in later years, just because there is always some spiritual wound in the shoulder, or some effeminate softness in the arm of him who has tried other yokes first, of him who has begun by serving self, sin, or the world, and only comes late and in pain to submit himself to the healing and guiding and saving hand of Christ.

(Dean Vaughan.)

1. Men rarely if ever feel prepared to bear the good yoke the moment it is presented to them.

2. The qualification for bearing the yoke is obtained in bearing it. Practical skill comes only by practice.

3. Those who refuse to gain qualification for a place by working in that place, always fall of qualification and of usefulness anywhere. He who will be a tramp in religion must not expect the glory of immortality.

4. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth, because then he will not suffer from having wasted time.

5. In view of all this, how beautiful the Saviour's call, "Take My yoke upon you," for if men take not the yoke of Christ, then they must take the yoke of sin and everlasting despair.

(O. T. Lanphear, D. D.)

There is a threefold yoke which it is good for a man to bear in his youth.

I. The yoke of AFFLICTION.

1. Good for all kinds of men.

2. Enlightening.

3. Preparatory to grace and conversion.

4. Strengthens spiritual convictions.

5. Stirs up the heart to prayer.

6. Teaches the emptiness of the creature.

II. The yoke of CONVICTION OF SIN.

1. The sooner it is borne the easier it is borne.

2. Those who are subjects of early convictions grow rich in grace.

III. The yoke of SUBJECTION AND OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST.

1. He has yoke.

2. It is the concern of every one to take his yoke in youth, because of the call of God, the claims of Christ, the invitation of the Spirit; sin gets advantage by continuance; the earlier the easier; it has the kindest acceptance with God; it is the fittest season for religion; the danger of delay.

(M. Mead.)

I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN BEARING THE YOKE HERE SPOKEN OF. We naturally run wild, like a wild ass's colt upon the mountains; with respect to our understanding, in speculation and error; our will, in stubbornness, dis. obedience, and rebellion; our affections, in irregular and inordinate love, desire, hope, joy, etc. True religion, when put on in reality, and, as it were, buckled close upon us by faith, restrains our disposition to wander from God.

1. The subjection to which it obliges us. Naturally we wear Satan's yoke, and are in subjection to him (Ephesians 2:2); to the world (Galatians 1:4); to the flesh (Romans 7:5, 28); to sin (John 8:34); to death, and the fear of it (Hebrews 2:15). True religion delivers us from these other lords, and brings us into subjection to Christ, whose loyal subjects we become, and He reigns in us by His grace, and over us by His laws (Romans 14:17).

2. The service in which it engages us. We are yoked, not to lie down and sleep, or stand still, but to work, not only in the use of every means of grace, for our own salvation, especially prayer, watchfulness, self-denial, faith, obedience to all known duty, and a "patient continuance in well-doing"; but for the glory of God, in endeavouring to make Him known and feared by all men; and for the good of our neighbour, in all works of justice, mercy, charity.

3. The associates with which it connects us. A bullock is not yoked that it may draw alone. We are united to the people of God, and in conjunction with them, should serve the Lord in the fore-mentioned particulars.

4. The patience and submission to which it obliges us, under our various chastisements (Jeremiah 31:18). Oxen, when brought under the yoke, are untoward, or refractory, or lazy, and, therefore, have need of the goad. We have need of it also for similar reasons. "The words of the wise are as goads"; and so are the various trials and troubles which we meet with.

II. HOW IT APPEARS THAT IT IS GOOD FOR A MAN TO BEAR THE YOKE AND THAT EVEN IN HIS YOUTH.

1. It is reasonable. It becomes us, trod is our duty, that we should come under the restraint before described; that we should be in subjection to and the servants of Christ; that we should be united with God's Church; and be patient and submissive under His chastisement.

2. It is honourable. A yoke of some kind we must wear, and a yoke we do wear; and is it not more honourable to wear that of Christ, than that of Belial? Is it not an honourable thing to be a subject of a very great, powerful, and gracious King? a servant of a rich, noble, and benevolent Master? a friend, a brother, nay, and the spouse of the Prince of the kings of the earth?

3. It is advantageous.(1) As to this life. "Godliness hath the promise of the life that now is." Does the husbandman feed his bullocks, and shall not God provide for those that draw in His yoke? They shall have all things needful (Matthew 6:32, 33); all things useful (Psalm 84:11); evils turned into good (Romans 8:28).(2) As to the life to come, they enjoy the favour of an infinite and eternal Being; they are adopted into His family; restored to His image; hold communion and fellowship with Him; have peace of mind; a lively hope of eternal life; and an earnest thereof in their hearts, "until the redemption of the purchased possession"; but they will reap still greater advantages after death, in the intermediate state, at the day of resurrection and final judgment, and forever.

4. It is easy and pleasant. What; to bear a yoke? Yes; a yoke lined with love. "His commandments are not grievous" to a loving heart, to a new nature.

III. HOW WE MAY BE ENABLED TO DO SO.

1. Come out from among the carnal and wicked, and be separate. For, "a companion of fools shall be destroyed."

2. Associate with the people of God (Proverbs 13:20).

3. Use much retirement, and read, and meditate on the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15).

4. Pray. The wisdom and strength of man is utterly insufficient; but "they that wait on the Lord," etc. (Isaiah 40:31).

5. Be always watchful and circumspect (Ephesians 5:15).

6. Deny yourself, and take up your cross daily (Matthew 16:24).

(J. Benson.)

I. The restraints of which I speak at present, are only THOSE WISE AND NECESSARY RESTRAINTS WHICH SERVE TO GUARD THE INNOCENCE AND TO DIRECT THE ACTIVITY OF THE EARLY MIND. Even a child soon learns to distinguish the restraints that are dictated by a sincere regard to his happiness, from those which have their origin in caprice. To the former, indeed, he may not at all times submit with becoming cheerfulness; but against the latter he will perpetually rebel. One of the worst effects which excessive severity produces on the minds of the young is, that it tempts them to the violation of truth; and hence it sometimes happens that parents are less acquainted, than even the most indifferent persons, with what passes in the minds of their children. Beware of this fatal error. Provoke not your children to wrath; tempt not your children to falsehood. I am aware, however, that this is not the extreme in which parents are most apt to err. Their natural affection for their children will generally be sufficient, without any other motive, to preserve them from too rigorous an exercise of authority. The danger is that this affection may transgress its proper bounds, and betray them into an opposite error, not less fatal to the interests of their children. It is surely necessary that the young be restrained from every species of vice, and directed to such pursuits and studies as may prepare them for being useful in the world. For this purpose they must be early taught that they have serious duties to perform; they must be accustomed to submit to discipline, and limited even in those innocent pleasures which would interfere with their more important concerns. Let the rules, which you prescribe, be such as are proper in themselves; and let them be uniformly and steadily executed. Steadiness and consistency of conduct is the great secret in the management of the young. It begets respect and reverence, and ensures a willing obedience. When the duty of the child is clearly marked out to him, and the performance of it regularly exacted, he is, in no case, at a loss to discover what will please, and what will offend. In proportion as his faculties open, he perceives the propriety of the discipline through which he is maple to pass. He admires the wisdom and consistency of the plan by which his most important interests are promoted. He finds that the authority which, in his youth, he hath been taught to acknowledge, is the mild and regular dominion of reason; and is prepared, as his years advance, to exchange the dominion of reason in the breast of his parent, for the dominion of reason in his own mind.

II. SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES WHICH THIS DISCIPLINE IS FITTED TO YIELD. Even in our maturer years, our industry needs often to be animated by looking forward to the distant advantages which it is fitted to yield. This, however, is a reflection which seldom occurs to the young. They think only of the moments as they pass. They perceive not how much their characters, and their advancement in the world, depend on their present application. But you, who are parents, perceive it. Your observation hath long ago taught you that attention and diligence in youth are the only sure foundation on Which a respectable manhood can be reared. To you, therefore, it belongs, by the judicious exercise of authority, to remedy the inexperience of the young, and to urge them on in the path in which, at present, perhaps, they walk with reluctance, because they see not the end to which it leads. The success of your children in the world is an object which deserves your attention; but it is not the only object that is worthy of a parent's care. Their virtue is their highest interest; and this, also, is most likely to be promoted by discipline. In order that the mind may be formed to virtue, it must be accustomed to submit to restraint; for what else is virtue but the habit of self-government, the power of regulating our affections and passions by the dictates of reason and conscience? To live according to rule is not a task for the young alone; it is a duty incumbent on all; it is that which, in every period of life, distinguishes the virtuous from the vicious. Now, this is the very habit to which the mind of the child is formed by the exercise of parental authority. How many useful lessons doth he learn from the discipline of his father's house! He is prepared, by obedience to his parents, to obey his conscience and his God. He will be meek, for he hath learned to bear contradiction; he will be just, for he hath learned to moderate his desires; he will be temperate, for he hath learned to resist the solicitations of pleasure; he will be generous, for he hath learned, at the call of duty, to forego his own ease and comfort, and he is prepared for every sacrifice which benevolence may require him to make. Happy, surely, is the man who hath thus borne the yoke in his youth!

(W. Moodie, D. D.)

To bear the yoke is to be in subjection: to be compelled to walk in certain lines at the will of another, to be prevented from choosing for ourselves and being our own masters. The compulsion which is most commonly felt in youth is the compulsion of circumstances. Without being in absolute poverty, the majority of young men find that they have no choice, but must at once try to earn a livelihood. And the limitations thus prescribed by circumstances are often very serious, and press very heavily on the mind of the aspiring youth. Still, if there is a spark of real manhood, a leaven of generosity in the spirit, it will be found good to bear this yoke. To throw a boy into the water is a rough-and-ready lesson in the art of swimming, but with a boy of spirit it is likely to be successful. The training which straitened circumstances give is one which no money can purchase. A lad is put upon his mettle, and if there is grit in him at all, it will appear. He is conscious that it depends entirely on himself whether he is to succeed or to fail. He feels himself face to face with the world, and is compelled to use all his faculties and powers to save himself from defeat. The habits of industry, the love of work, the delight in mastering difficulties, the ability to put pressure on himself, and the independence of character which a lad thus acquires, pass into his nature as its permanent and most valuable ingredients. It must also be considered that the privations which press so heavily on some families, and which in some unhappy instances benumb affection, do in the main afford opportunities for self-sacrifice and considerateness and concern for the common good which bind families together, and give a richness and beauty to the family life which you might have sought in vain had circumstances been easy and calling for no sacrifice. But in other senses it is good that a man bear the yoke in his youth. He must put himself under control and discipline if he is to get the full benefit of his youth. All this control and discipline is intended to fit him for liberty afterwards, as all drill and gymnastics are meant to give the body freedom of movement, and to give a man the perfect use of all his powers. To allow passions, cravings, propensities, to rule us and govern and determine our conduct is to become the worst of slaves. Freedom comes through discipline; through absorbing into our own will the laws which govern our life; to be our own master is to exercise self-control, and allow that in us to rule which was intended to be supreme. When we submit ourselves to the rule of conscience and come into harmony with God's laws, approving them in our heart, then only are we free. You yourself are something nobler and better than any of your members or any faculty in you; these are your organs and instruments whereby you work on the world around you, but you yourself are different from these, and are called to rule all these. Thus only is it possible to become your own master. Coming to detail, then, we must exercise self-control in respect of all unworthy pleasures. The youth of a certain kind and brought up in certain companies thinks he is scarcely a man till he has tasted pleasures which he knows to be forbidden. The very fact that they are forbidden makes them objects of desire. The true corrective of this bias towards unworthy pleasures is to be found in filling our life with worthy pursuits. Of course knowledge also helps. When one has seen a little more of life, the pleasures which attract the mass of young men seem so very childish, so false and tawdry, so positively repulsive in many respects, that one wonders where the charm is. In the cloakroom of many a place of entertainment you must with your coat leave your self-respect, and all respect for humanity, and necessarily come out a poorer man, with less fitness for life. But even when the pleasures that attract are recognised to be such as no men of any real stature and dignity could possibly stoop to, our self-control needs some other aid than that of knowledge. It is good to say to ourselves, these scenes I am asked to join are degrading and delusive. Instead of proving my manhood by entering them, I show distinctly that my manhood is poor and weak, easily deceived, easily led, ignorant and undeveloped. It is good to cherish and strengthen our self-control thus, and by reading such healthy writers as Thackeray, whose scorn of all that is base and foolish and filthy and profane communicates itself to the reader and makes that seem contemptible which is contemptible, and that be repulsive to us which in itself is repulsive. But the true safeguard is to fill the heart and life with higher things, to commit ourselves cordially to the Christian life, recognising its attractiveness and finding in it enough and more than enough to interest, to stimulate, to satisfy. It is in Christ's service you find true life and true freedom and true manhood. Another detail in which self-control must be exercised is in the books we read. Happily, English literature is rich enough to make it quite unnecessary for us to open one suspected volume. Form your taste on Scott and Thackeray, Carlyle and Emerson, and you will have no relish for unclean and corrupting literature. Here again, if you feel you are losing something by not reading what others read, exercise self-control, and remember that what you lose is well lost, a tainted mind, a lowered tone, a polluted imagination, while you gain self-respect, manliness, and purity. But again, those who have too much self-respect to find any attraction in such undesirable knowledge, sometimes show a similar craving, but in a higher and purer sphere. It is not uncommon to meet with persons who have a silly ambition to be recognised as having passed through a severe struggle with doubt and spiritual perplexity. Now there are two kinds of doubt which are very different in their origin and character, and which must be treated differently. There is the doubt which is almost invariably begotten in a strong and independent mind when that mind first applies itself to the solution of the mysteries of nature, of life, and of God. There is also the doubt which is assumed, like any other manner or habit which finds favour in society; sometimes there is an affectation of weariness and ennui, sometimes of indifference, and so in some circles there is an affectation of doubt. It is "the thing" to talk disparagingly of traditional belief, and to assume a sceptical attitude towards miracles and other objects of faith. The fictitious or imitative doubter may always be distinguished from the true doubter by his frivolous and ignorant manner of meeting proposed solutions of his doubts. He who merely apes doubt and seems to consider it a desirable mental condition, shrinks from conviction and seeks to perpetuate his uncertainty. To such as fancy that sceptical difficulties are symptoms of enlightenment may be commended the words of the great philosopher who may be said to have consecrated doubt. After describing how he stripped himself one by one of all beliefs, he goes on to say, "For all that, I did not imitate the sceptics who doubt for doubting's sake, and pretend to be always undecided; on the contrary, my whole intention was to arrive at certainty, and to dig away the drift and sand until I arrived at the rock beneath" (Descartes in Huxley, 122). It is not through the understanding so much as through the conscience and the heart that a man becomes a Christian. And so long as any one is loyal to Christ because he is conscious that in Him he is brought into harmony with God, and because he desires to live in fellowship with Christ and to serve Him, it is not essential that he should believe all that he has been taught. There is room in the Church of Christ for questioning spirits as for docile and credulous spirits; and as there is work for the one class, so is there work for the other. What is wanted much more than acceptance of traditional belief is tolerance, based on the clear perception that many articles of our creed are not certain, and that thoughtful men cannot but have different opinions regarding their truth. Until we fight against sin as the allies and subjects of Christ, as well as for our own sake, we seem to fight not in Christ's strength, but in our own. And if we think of our sin as mainly our affair, if we hate it mainly for the shame it brings upon us, then when we are tempted by it and when our own view of it is changed, the advantage and pleasure of it being now clear and the shame of it remote and dimly seen, there is absolutely nothing to restrain us from it. But if we habitually live with Christ and consider His will in all things, and that our sin brings grief to Him, when we are tempted, though our own view of sin is altered, we are conscious that His view of it remains the same, and in sympathy with His judgment we also condemn it. Every evil habit you suffer to find place in you lowers your energy throughout life, weights and burdens you, and holds you back from what you aspire to. The sin you admit into your life is not like a stone in a horse's hoof, that cripples for a few steps but can easily be knocked out and leave no trace: it is a morbid growth, it is in your blood, it taints your whole system, and is a weakness to the end. Turn then from all that is low, and defiling, and secretive, and ungenerous, turn from what is ungodly — be sure you are gladly living under the great law of human life, dependence on Jesus Christ, and with Him there will enter your life, "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honourable,...just,...pure,...lovely,...of good report."

(M. Dods, D. D.)

Homiletic Magazine.
I. A BROAD ASSERTION WHICH REQUIRES TO BE QUALIFIED. It is not good to bear the yoke of —

1. Civil despotism.

2. Spiritual despotism.

3. Sinful despotism.

II. AN ASSERTION TO BE READILY RECEIVED.

1. The yoke of affliction.

2. The yoke of genuine religious principle.

3. The yoke of Christ.

III. WHY IT IS SO GOOD TO BEAR THIS YOKE IN YOUTH.

1. It is a check to the presumption of youth, which, like a vessel without ballast, would soon be endangered.

2. It is a safeguard against the dangers of youth.

3. It often proves a fitting preparation for eminent usefulness.

4. It is often the precursor of high character and of exalted enjoyment.

IV. HINTS TO THOSE WHO HAVE TO BEAR THE YOKE.

1. Place your mercies over against your trials.

2. Recollect that God has wise and kind designs.

3. Let affliction lead you to God as your proper and changeless portion.

4. Recollect the brevity of the season in which the yoke is to be borne.

(Homiletic Magazine.)

I. THERE IS A YOKE WHICH IT IS NOT GOOD FOR A MAN TO BEAR IN HIS YOUTH.

1. The yoke of civil bondage.

2. The yoke of ceremonies and superstitions.

3. The yoke of sin. A bad habit acquired in youth grows with a man's growth, and strengthens with his strength.

II. WHAT YOKE IS IT GOOD FOR A MAN TO BEAR IN HIS YOUTH?

1. The yoke of affliction. There is a natural exuberance in youth which needs to be reduced — a luxuriousness which requires pruning — an impetuosity which needs to be checked. And what will effect this like affliction when sanctified by God?

2. The yoke of subjection to legitimate authority.

3. The yoke of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a yoke which every man must take upon him at some period of his life, or perish everlastingly.

(John Hambleton, M. A.)

(with Matthew 11:29): — The yoke! The very word has a sound of severity in it! Yet Christ spake it — He, whom all ages since His advent have accepted as the ideal of gentleness! He who alone, amid the boasted culture of the nineteenth century, can bestow real liberty. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" — there alone. We gain freedom from false dominions by accepting the kingship of Christ.

I. YOUNG MEN WHO ACCEPT THE YOKE OF CHRIST ARE BEST FITTED FOR AN EARTHLY CITIZENSHIP. England prospers or perishes by character! Selfishness slew Sparta. Cruelty corrupted Athens. Lust laid low the power of Rome. Material wealth does not constitute our prosperity, nor the genius of statesmanship, nor the facilities for commercial intercourse — character makes a nation! and to this hour is I know of no power which can create holy character, purify the heart, cleanse the conscience, and inspire a truly heroic life but the Gospel of Christ — it is the power of God unto salvation, and as such it manifests no over-weening confidence to say "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ." Upon its social side, our earthly citizenship will be beautiful just in the proportion that Christ reigns in our hearts! Your safety is in making harmony with the spirit and purpose of Christ, the ruling law of all

II. YOUNG MEN WHO ACCEPT THE YOKE OF CHRIST ARE FULFILLING THE HIGHEST IDEAL OF LIFE. Each man has some ideal of life. It is natural to suppose that we do not eat, work, and sleep, with no other aim than the day contains; we were unworthy of the majesty of manhood not to have some conceptions of duty and destiny. Christ found men full of the ideals of life. There was the pharisaic ideal, which combined ecclesiastical hauteur and Jewish privilege; there was the publican ideal, that "money makes the man," and that once wealthy, men could invite wit, genius, and learning to their board; there was the Roman ideal, which was prowess in arms, pride of military pomp and glory of military fame; there was the Philosophic ideal, which mingled contempt for ignorance, with superiority in the schools; there was the commercial ideal, which meant illimitable luxury, and a merchant prince's palace on the Tiber banks; there was the gladiator's ideal, which meant earnest eyes looking down upon the fight, and beauty and fashion craving the victor's love. Everywhere around the Christ were ideals of life! and what was His own? "The cup which my Father hath given Me to drink, shall I not drink it," "Father, not as I will, but as Thou wilt." This was Christ's ideal of life I an ideal that had in it the only true happiness. "My meat and my drink is to do the will of Him that sent Me."

III. YOUNG MEN WHO ACCEPT THE YOKE OF CHRIST PRESERVE THEIR MORAL INDEPENDENCE. They are bound by the law of Christ, and the law of Christ alone. They are not compelled to accept all the yokes, either sanctioned by Puritan custom, or by Ecclesiastical tradition; nor will they look to the law of Christ as to a legal statute book. "Thou shalt not's" would fill not only this world, but the whole stellar system with books which they could not contain. The spirit of Christ is our only safeguard, our only life, our only law, and it is enough.

IV. YOUNG MEN WHO ACCEPT THE YOKE OF CHRIST PASS THE GREAT CRISIS OF LIFE. All things are ready! The Atonement has opened wide the door of mercy, the Spirit of the living God has awakened the conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come; the soul is close to the Kingdom — almost saved. Oh! moment of appalling interest; here is an act we can delegate to none, the acceptance or rejection of Christ, on that moment hangs for each soul all the immortal sanctities of heaven, or the wailings of infinite grief. If probation come again in some future state, it is revealed in some Bible of which I have no copy and is a Divine secret of which I have no key. Viewed in such a light as this, are you prepared now, yes! now; whilst Christ looks with the wistfulness of Divine love in your face, to obey His voice, "Take My yoke upon you."

V. YOUNG MEN WHO ACCEPT THE YOKE OF CHRIST MAKE A BLESSED USE OF THE FORMATIVE PERIOD OF LIFE. "It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth." He is supple and sinewy in mind and body. Moreover it is not only the age of a rare enthusiasm, but of unenriched experience, the age when we too often obey a quick impulse, rather than a quiet conscience; an age too when we are apt to despise service as service. Let men be proud of work, proudest of it when it takes the form of service. Let us never forget that our Master came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; that the Lord of angels took on Him "the form of a servant." Never let service be considered vulgar! It is good to bear the yoke in youth; good not to begin where our father's left off, good that we should have something better than an ignorant physical athleticism, and be moral athletes, able to cope with difficulty, preferring an escutcheon with a spade on it to a purchased coat of arms. If, however, it is good to bear the yoke early, in earthly duties, it is good to give of our time, strength, and substance in early youth to the cause of the Redeemer. The great day alone can reveal how much depends upon our enlisting the rising manhood of England in the intelligent service of the Church. May God the Holy Ghost inspire the conviction, that loyalty to Christ demands not only the mental admission of His claims, but the moral wearing of His yoke.

VI. YOUNG MEN WHO PUT ON THE YOKE OF CHRIST GIVE PROMISE OF THE OUTCOME OF SALVATION. The age is not wanting in appreciation of Christian life. The Church, however, in some of its most fervent Evangelical teachers, has made justification the only tenet in its creed. Christianity is life in God; it is more than the first paroxysm of penitential grief, more than the most passionate confession of sin, more than the thrill of a first love, more than occasional rhapsodies of glad emotion, more than an exquisite appreciation of the life of Christ: by this alone can the world know we are Christ's disciples, that "we keep His commandments." This is the true outcome of salvation, the test is not emotive in our feelings, nor mental in our intellectual belief alone, but practical, in yoke bearing after Christ.

(W. M. Statham, M. A.)

We adopt the principle of yoke-bearing in youth in the matter of intellectual education: why not in the matter of the higher moral training and chastening? Who puts off the learning of the alphabet until he is well advanced in life? Who at middle life could begin to commit to memory the things which almost seem to grow up in the mind of childhood and to abide there forever? Yet the child must be constrained to undergo the discipline needful to the acquisition of elementary knowledge. His play must be curtailed, his inclinations must be rebuked, his indolence must be overcome; it is for the child's good that his parents should insist upon the acceptance of the yoke, otherwise the child will grow up to be an ignorant man. Is it not also true that in youth passion is most violent, and might hurry the young life into the uttermost excesses were it not curbed or cooled or in some degree restrained? Hence it is important that young life should be filled with work, should be almost exhausted at times by long-continued labour. The profit is not seen in the labour alone; behind all the labour there are moral advantages which can hardly be described in words: passion is subdued, pride is mortified, the energy of the will is turned into the right direction, and labour so treated becomes in the end pleasant, as music is pleasant, and easy as breathing is easy. What may be expected from one who has borne the yoke well in his youth Chastened but not extinguished energy. Paul the apostle must be as energetic as was Saul of Tarsus, but the energy must be expressed along different lines. Mature saints are not expected to be demure, exhausted, feeble, indolent, or lacking in interest in the pursuits and ambitions of youth: they are expected to take a right view of those pursuits and ambitions, to set a proper estimate upon them. No man has borne his own yoke well who has lived without sympathy for those who are still feeling the burden.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

This is as good as a promise. It has been good, it is good, and it will be good for me to bear the yoke.

1. Early in life I had to feel the weight of conviction, and ever since it has proved a soul-enriching burden. Should I have loved the Gospel so well had I not learned by deep experience the need of salvation by grace? Jabez was more honourable than his brethren because his mother bare him with sorrow, and those who suffer much in being born unto God make strong believers in sovereign grace.

2. The yoke of censure is an irksome one, but it prepares a man for future honour. He is not fit to be a leader who has not run the gauntlet of contempt. Praise intoxicates if it be not preceded by abuse. Men who rise to eminence without a struggle usually fall into dishonour.

3. The yoke of affliction, disappointment, and excessive labour is by no means to be sought for; but when the Lord lays it on us in our youth it frequently develops a character which glorifies God and blesses the church.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

The crosses we meet with are not the effects of blind chance, but the results of a wise and unerring providence, which knoweth what is fittest for us, and loveth us better than we can do ourselves. There is no malice or envy lodged in the bosom of that blessed being whose name and nature is love. He taketh no delight in the troubles and miseries of His creatures: He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men. Holiness is the highest perfection and greatest happiness we are capable of: it is a real participation of the Divine nature, the image of God drawn on the soul; and all the chastisements we meet with are designed to reduce us to this blessed temper, to make us like unto Himself, and thereby capable to be happy with Him to all eternity.

I. This will more clearly appear if we reflect on THE NATURAL TEMPER OF OUR MINDS AND THE INFLUENCE WHICH PROSPEROUS OR ADVERSE FORTUNE IS WONT TO HAVE UPON THEM.

1. We are naturally proud and self-conceited; we have an high esteem of ourselves, and would have everybody else to value and esteem us. This disease is very deeply rooted in our corrupt nature: it is ordinarily the first sin that betrays itself in the little actions and passions of children; and many times the last which religion enables us to overcome. Pride alone is the source and fountain of almost all the disorders in the world; of all our troubles, and of all our sins: and we shall never be truly happy, or truly good, till we come to think nothing of ourselves, and be content that all the world think nothing of us. Now, there is nothing hath a more natural tendency to foment and heighten this natural corruption, than constant prosperity and success. Sanctified afflictions contribute to abate and mortify the pride of our hearts, to prick the swelling imposthume, to make us sensible of our weakness, and convince us of our sine.

2. Another distemper of our minds is our too great affection to the world and worldly things. We are all too apt to set our hearts wholly upon them; to take up our rest, and seek our happiness and satisfaction in them. But God knows that these may well divert and amuse a while, they can never satisfy or make us happy; that the souls which He made for Himself can never rest till they return unto Him, and therefore He many times findeth it necessary either to remove our comforts or imbitter them unto us; to put aloes and wormwood on the breasts of the world, that thereby we may wean our hearts from it, and carry them to the end of their being, the fountain of their blessedness and felicity.

3. Another bad effect which prosperity is wont to produce in our corrupt natures, is, that it makes us forgetful of God, and unthankful of His mercies: We put very little value on our food and raiment, and the ordinary means of our subsistence, we have been sometimes pinched with want. We consider not how much we are indebted to God for preserving our friends, till some of them be removed from us. How little do we prize out health, if we have never had experience of sickness or pain! Where is the man who doth seriously bless God for his nightly quiet and repose! And yet, if sickness or trouble deprive us of it, we then find it to have been a great and invaluable mercy, and that it is God who giveth His beloved sleep.

4. Prosperity rendereth us insensible of the miseries and calamities of others. But afflictions do soften the heart, and make it more tender and kindly; and we are always most ready to compassionate those griefs which ourselves have sometime endured: the sufferings of others make the deepest impressions upon us, when they put us in mind of our own.

II. TAKE NOTICE OF THE SEASON WHICH IS HERE MENTIONED AS THE FITTEST FOR A MAN TO BEAR AFFLICTION. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. We are all willing to put off the evil day; and, if we must needs bear the yoke, we would choose to have it delayed till we grow old. We think it sad to have our morning overcast with clouds, to meet with a storm before we have well launched forth from the shore. But the Divine wisdom, which knoweth what is fit for us, doth many times make choice of our younger years, as the most proper to accustom us to the bearing of the yoke.

1. It is then most necessary. For youth is the time of our life wherein we are in greatest danger to run into wild and extravagant courses: our blood is hot, and our spirits unstayed and giddy; we have too much pride to be governed by others, and too little wisdom to govern ourselves. The yoke is then especially needful to tame our wildness and reduce us to a due stayedness and composure of mind.

2. Then also it is most supportable. The body is strong and healthful, less apt to be affected with the troubles of the mind; the spirit stout and vigorous, will not so easily break and sink under them. Old age is a burden, and will soon faint under any supervenient load. The smallest trouble is enough to bring down grey hairs with sorrow to the grave. And therefore, since we must meet with afflictions, it is certainly a favourable circumstance to have them at the time of our life wherein we are most able to endure them.

3. And, lastly, the lessons which afflictions teach us, are then most advantageous when we learn them betimes, that we may have the use of them in the conduct of our after lives.

III. THE PARTICULAR ADVANTAGE OF AFFLICTIONS WHICH IS MENTIONED IN THE TEXT: "He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him." The words are capable of a twofold interpretation, and both suit well with the purpose: for we may either understand them properly, of solitude and silence; or metaphorically, of patience and quiet submission; both of which are the good effects of sanctified and well-improved afflictions: and accordingly we shall say something to both.

1. Nature hath made us sociable creatures: but corruption hath carried this inclination unto excess; so that most persons think it an intolerable burden to be any considerable time alone. Though they love themselves out of measure, yet they cannot endure their own conversation; they had rather be hearing and discoursing of the most naughty and trivial things, than be sitting alone and holding their peace. Outward prosperity heightens this humour. When the heart is dilated with joy, it seeketh to vent itself in every company. Crosses, on the other hand, render a man pensive and solitary; they stop the mouth, and bind up the tongue, and incline the person to be much alone.(1) He who considers, on the one hand, the guilt we are wont to contract, and the prejudice which we sustain, by too much conversation with others, and, on the other hand, the excellent improvement we may make of solitude and retirement, will account it a good effect of afflictions, that they incline and dispose us unto it. In considering the evils of frequent conversation, we are not to prosecute the grossest and more scandalous vices of the tongue. We rather choose to mention such evils as are wont to be less noticed, and can he more hardly avoided. And, first, experience may teach us all, that much conversation doth ordinarily beget a remissness and dissolution of spirit; that it slackeneth and relaxeth the bent of our minds, and disposeth us to softness and easy compliances. Another prejudice we receive by society, is, That it fills our minds with noxious images, and fortifies our corrupt notions and opinions of things. When we are alone in a sober temper, and take time to reflect and consider of things, we are sometimes persuaded of the vanity and worthlessness of all those glittering trifles whereunto the generality of mankind are so sadly bewitched: but when we come abroad, and listen to the common talk, and hear people speak of greatness, and fiches, and honour with concern and admiration, we quickly forget our more sober and deliberate thoughts, and suffer ourselves to be carried away with the stream of the common opinion. And though the effects be not so sudden and observable, yet these discourses are still making some secret and insensible impressions upon us. Thus also is our judgment corrupted about the qualities and endowments of the mind. Courage and gallantry, wit and eloquence, and other accomplishments of this nature, are magnified and extolled beyond all measure; whereas humility, and meekness, and devotion, and all those Christian graces which render a soul truly excellent and lovely, are spoken of as mean and contemptible things: for though men have not the impudence formally to make the comparison, and prefer the former; yet their very air, and way of discoursing about these things, sufficiently testifies their opinion. I shall mention but another of those evils wherewith our conversation is commonly attended. The most ordinary subject of our entertainments are the faults and follies of others. Were this one theme of discourse discharged, we would oft-times find but little to say. I scarce know any fault whereof good persons are so frequently guilty, and so little sensible.(2) But solitude and retirement do not only deliver us from these inconveniencies, but also afford very excellent opportunities for bettering our souls. The most profane and irreligious persons will find some serious thoughts rise in their minds if they be much alone. And the more that any person is advanced in piety and goodness, the more will he delight in retirement, and receive the more benefit by it. Then it is that the devout soul takes its highest flight in Divine contemplations and maketh its nearest approaches to God. Little doth the world understand those secret and hidden pleasures which devout souls do feel when, having got out of the noise and hurry of the world, they sit alone and keep silence, contemplating the Divine perfections, which shine so conspicuously in all His works of wonder; admiring His greatness, and wisdom, and love, and revolving His favours towards themselves; opening before Him their griefs and their cares, and disburdening their souls into His bosom; protesting their allegiance and subjection unto Him, and telling Him a thousand times that they love Him; and then listening unto the voice of God within their hearts, that still and quiet voice, which is not wont to be heard in the streets, that they may hear what God the Lord will speak: for He will speak peace unto His people, and to His saints, and visit them with the expressions of His love.(3) But I would not be mistaken, as if I recommended a total and constant retirement, or persuaded men to forsake the world, and betake themselves unto deserts. No, certainly; we must not abandon the stations wherein God hath placed us, nor render ourselves useless to mankind. Solitude hath its temptations, and we may be sometimes very bad company to ourselves. It was not without reason that a wise person warned another, who professed to delight in conversing with himself. Have a care that you be keeping company with a good man. Abused solitude may whet men's passions, and irritate their lusts, and prompt them to things which company would restrain. And this made one say, that he who is much alone, must either be a saint or devil. Melancholy, which inclines men most to retirement, is often too much nourished and fomented by it; and there is a peevish and sullen loneliness, which some people affect under their troubles, whereby they feed on discontented thoughts, and find a kind of perverse pleasure in refusing to be comforted. But all this says no more, but that good things may be abused; and excess or disorder may turn the most wholesome food into poison. And therefore though I would not indifferently recommend much solitude unto all; yet, sure, I may say, it were good for the most part of men that they were less in company, and more alone.

2. Thus much of the first and proper sense of sitting alone and keeping silence. We told you it might also import a quiet and patient submission to the will of God; the laying of our hand on our mouth, that no expression of murmur or discontent may escape us. We cannot now insist in any length on this Christian duty of patience, and submission to the will of God; we shall only say two things of it, which the text importeth.(1) That this lesson is most commonly learned in the school of afflictions.(2) That this advantage of afflictions is very great and desirable; that it is indeed very good for a man to have borne the yoke in his youth, if he hath thereby learned to sit alone and keep silence when the hand of the Lord is upon him. There is nothing more acceptable unto God, no object more lovely and amiable in His eyes, than a soul thus prostrate before Him, thus entirely resigned unto His holy will, thus quietly submitting to His severest dispensations. Nor is it less advantageous unto ourselves; but sweeteneth the bitterest occurrences of our life, and makes us relish an inward and secret pleasure, notwithstanding all the smart of affliction: so that the yoke becomes supportable, the rod itself comforts us; and we find much more delight in suffering the will of God than if He had granted us our own.

(H. Scougal, M. A.)

If a bullock is not broken in when it is young, it will never be worth much for the plough. The work will be galling for itself, and most unsatisfactory for the husbandman. If this be neglected, it is vain to attempt it by and by; the beast will only be fretted and irritated, and any work it is put to will be a failure. A traveller in the East graphically describes, as an eyewitness, the difficulty of getting an untrained ox to perform agricultural work. "I have frequent opportunities," he said, "of witnessing the conduct of oxen when for the first time put into the yoke. They generally made a strenuous struggle for liberty, repeatedly breaking the yoke, and attempting to make their escape. At other times such bullocks would lie down upon their side or back, and remain so in defiance of the drivers, though they lashed them with ponderous whips. Sometimes from pity to the animal I would interfere, and beg them not to be so cruel. 'Cruel,' they would say, 'it is mercy, for if we do not conquer him now, he will require to be so beaten all his life."

(J. Thain Davidson.)

It was the sorrow, of Samuel Rutherford's. later years, as it was of St. 's, that he allowed himself to reach manhood before he yielded his heart to God. "Like a fool as I was," he says, "I suffered my sun to be high in the heaven, and near afternoon." Few things in the "Letters" are more beautiful than the earnestness with which he beseeches the young to consecrate their freshest hours to eternity. "It was a sweet and glorious thing for your daughter Grissel to give herself up to Christ, that tie may write upon her His father's name and His own new name." "I desire Patrick to give Christ the flower of his love; it were good to start soon in the way." He would have none to imitate him, "loitering on the road too long, and trifling at the gate."

(Alexander Smellie.)

Live the bullock, we have to bend, we have to stoop, that the yoke may be put upon us, and this stooping is what none of us like. Our proud wills must be humbled; our old self must be crucified. There are few men who enter into the light and liberty of happy believers without knowing something of this inward conflict. It is well to have it over in early life. I remember an old and godly man who was much tried in the latter years of his life with spiritual depression, saying to me, "Ah, sir, it is not good to have to bear the yoke in one's old age."

(J. Thain Davidson.)

Writing upon "Uppingham School" a recent author says: "Here a boy drops rank, wealth, luxury, and for eight or ten years, and for the greater part of these years, lives among his equals in an atmosphere of steady discipline, which usually compels a simple and hardy life, and in a community where the prizes and applause are about equally divided between mental energy and spiritual vigour. Here respect and obedience become habitual to him; lie learns to regard the rights of others and to defend his own; to stand upon his feet in the most democratic of all societies — a boy republic. Above all, he escapes the mental and moral suffocation from which it is well-nigh impossible to guard boys in rich and luxurious homes."

(H. O. Mackey.)

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