My son, keep your father's commandment, and do not forsake your mother's teaching.
II. EXHORTATION TO MINDFULNESS OF EARLY LESSONS. (Ver. 21; see on Proverbs 2:3.) It is in oblivious moments that we sin. We may forget much that we have learned, having outgrown its need. We can never outgrow the simple, early lessons of piety. The chain that links our days each to each in moral progress is the memory of those lessons.
III. VITAL VIRTUE IN THOSE REMEMBERED LESSONS. They have a true vis vitalis. They guide in action, protect in passive hours (see on Proverbs 3:23, 24). In wakeful hours of the night they seem to talk to the heart, as it "holds communion with the past." "Spirits from high hover o'er us, and comfort sure they bring." The truth becomes as a guardian angel. There is a junction of light and life in religion (ver. 23). What is seen in the intelligence as true translates itself into health in the habits.
IV. THEY ARE SPECIALLY PRESERVATIVE AGAINST THE WICKED WOMAN AND HER WILES. (Ver. 24; see on Proverbs 2:16; Proverbs 5:20.) Nothing is said directly of the reflex effect of vice upon the mind. It is always the danger externally considered that is pointed out. But this is due to the objective presentative form of the biblical thought and speech. We must learn to render the objective into the subjective form, to note how every outward drama has its reflex in the spirit itself; and thus we draw a double benefit from Bible lore. The pictures must be taken first in their proper meaning, then be converted into figures of the inner life. - J.
My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother.
I. CHERISH HOME TIES AS AMONG YOUR MOST SACRED POSSESSIONS. One of the dangers of public school-life is learning to disparage feelings of affection for the home. It is not manly to scorn those boys who are at times "home-sick." The truest manliness is not, and cannot be, divorced from tenderness; and while I would enforce with all my heart the necessity for courage in facing the first trouble of a schoolboy's life, I would remind all who listen to me that the boy who retains most strongly his affection for his home will grow up a truer man and a truer gentleman than the youth who casts those affections on one side as something to be ashamed of.
II. DO NOT SUPPOSE THAT SCHOOL LIFE IS IN ANY WAY INTENDED TO SUPERSEDE YOUR HOME LIFE. Most of you have come from homes in which you have been the objects of Christian thoughtfulness, and the subjects of religious training. The higher branches of what is called "secular knowledge" are but branches of the teaching that was begun at home. Secular is not opposed to sacred. Is not all learning sacred? "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"; and there is no true knowledge which may not be said to have its spring there. In the text Solomon means by the "father's commandment" those principles of godliness and virtue which are inculcated in every Christian home. Not one of you has come here to begin, and not one of you will here complete, his education. When God sends us into the world it is that we may be educated for Him—trained for Him. That training—with all its defects and failings—begins in the home, and, wherever we may afterwards go, and under whatever circumstances we may afterwards be placed, our after-life is only a continuation of what our home life has been. When you leave school, carry your home life—those affections and feelings which have been wakened in you in the midst of those whom you love—carry these into your after-life, for without them life will be incomplete,
III. NEVER BE ASHAMED OF YOUR RELIGION. John Angell James attributed his position as a Christian man to the courage of a fellow-apprentice, who kneeled by his bedside to pray, when James was neglecting to do so through feelings of shame. That apprentice dared to do right. He was not ashamed to have it known that he prayed to God. It was said of an old naval officer, two or three hundred years ago, that as he feared God, he knew no other fear.
IV. GIVE YOUR HEARTS WHOLLY TO THE GOD OF YOUR FATHERS. Youth is the fittest time for religion, as it is the best time for learning anything. While your hearts are still fresh, and still susceptible of good impressions, yield them up to the Saviour.
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