Psalm 119:9
We have here -

I. A DIFFICULT QUESTION. "Wherewithal shall a young man," etc.? (ver. 9).

1. The very word "wherewithal implies this. It seems to suggest that all manner of means had been tried, but found inadequate.

2. It is also implied that the way is already defiled. And this most true, as most sad. The young man starts with an evil bias, and he has made this stronger than before by frequent compliance with it. So that it is not a clean way that has to be kept clean - that is difficult enough, but a defiled way that has to be made clean.

3. And youth is so open to temptation. The passions and appetites of the body clamoring like a set of foul harpies for indulgence. The mind, impatient of control, giving heed to all manner of unbelief and doubt and denial of the truth; the heart inexperienced and untaught, ready to be ensnared with the varied deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Here is the fuel ready and the fire, and they come together in youth. What can prevent the conflagration?

II. BUT IT IS NOT A QUESTION THAT CANNOT BE ANSWERED. It has been again and again. See the history of Joseph; of Daniel and the noble Hebrew youths in exile with him; see the young men to whom St. John writes (1 John 2:13, 14). And there are many such today, glory be to God!

III. HERE WE ARE TOLD HOW THE QUESTION IS ANSWERED. By taking heed. thereto," etc. (ver. 9).

1. There must be taking heed to the way: thought and care given to it. It will not come right by chance, or when we are asleep, but it will need strenuous endeavors.

2. And this must be according to God's Word. For that Word supplies the pattern and model of such cleansed way; especially in Christ, "who did no sin," who was "holy, harmless, and undefiled." And it supplies the all-constraining motives - the love of God, the cross of Christ, the beauty of holiness, the eternal reward. And it gives the wisest counsel as to all holy living; there the right road is marked out for us. God's Word is a sure guide (ver. 105). And it points to the one source of help - the Holy Spirit of God, by whom God causes us to will and to do according to his good pleasure.

3. And all this he had done. See the following verses in this section. He tells how he had sought God with the whole heart, had hidden God's Word in his heart, etc., so that he had come to rejoice therein; and this, doubtless, because of their help. - S.C.







Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to Thy Word.
I. THIS IS THE GREAT PRACTICAL PROBLEM FOR LIFE. It is more especially the question for young people.

1. You are under special temptations not to ask it. There are so many other points in your future unresolved that you are only too apt to put aside the consideration of this one in favour of those which seem to be of more immediate importance. And you have the other temptation, common to us all, of living without any plan of life at all. At your age, judgment and experience are not so strong as inclination and passion; and everything has got the fresh gloss of novelty upon it, and it seems to be sometimes sufficient delight to live and get hold of the new joys that are flooding in upon you.

2. It is worth while for you to ask it. For you have got the prerogative that some of us have lost, of determining the shape that your life's course is to take.

3. You have special temptations to make your ways unclean.

II. WE CAN ONLY MAKE OUR WAY CLEAN ON CONDITION OF CONSTANT WATCHFULNESS. "Take heed to thyself" is the only condition of a pure and noble life. That such a condition is necessary will appear very plain from two considerations. First, it is clear that there must be constant watchfulness, if we consider what sort of a world this is that we have got into. And it is also plain if we consider what sort of creatures we are that have got into it. We are creatures evidently made for self-government. Our whole nature is like a monarchy. There are things in each of us that are never meant to rule, but to be kept well down under control, such as strong passions, desires rooted in the flesh which are not meant to get the mastery of a man. And there are parts of our nature which are as obviously intended to be supreme and sovereign; the reason, the conscience, the will.

III. THIS CONSTANT WATCHFULNESS, TO BE OF ANY USE, MUST BE REGULATED BY GOD'S WORD. The guard on the frontier who is to keep the path must have instructions from head-quarters, and not choose add decide according to his own phantasy, but according to the King's orders. Or, to use another metaphor, it is no use having a guard unless the guard has a lantern. In the Word of God, in its whole sweep, and eminently and especially in Christ, who is the Incarnate Word, we have an all-sufficient Guido. A guide of conduct must be plain — and whatever doubts and difficulties there may be about the doctrines of Christianity, there are none about its morality. A guide of conduct must be decisive — and there is no faltering in the utterance of the Book as to right and wrong. A guide of conduct must be capable of application to the wide diversities of character, age, circumstance — and the morality of the New Testament especially, and of the Old in a measure, secures that, because it does not trouble itself about minute details, but deals with large principles. A guide for morals must be far in advance of the followers, and it has taken generations and centuries to work into men's consciences, and to work out in men's practice, a portion of the morality of that Book. If the world kept the commandments of the New Testament, the world would be in the millennium; and all the sin and crime, and ninety-nine hundredths of all the sorrow of earth would have vanished like an ugly dream. Here is the guide for you, and if you take it you will not err.

IV. ALL THIS CAN ONLY BE DONE EFFECTUALLY IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN. My psalm goes as far as the measure of revelation granted to its author admitted; but if a person had no more to say than that, it would be a weary business. It is no use to tell a man, "Guard yourself; guard yourself." Nor even to tell him, "Guard yourself according to God's Word," if God's Word is only a law. The fatal defect of all attempts at keeping my heart by my own watchfulness is that keeper and kept are one and the same. And so there may be mutiny in the garrison, and the very forces that ought to subdue the rebellion may have gone over to the rebels. You want a power outside of you to steady you The only way to haul a boat up the rapids is to have some fixed point on the shore to which a man may fasten a rope and pull at that. You get that eternal guard and fixed point on which to hold in Jesus Christ, the dear Son of His love, who has died for you.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The picture in his mind was of this sort. There stood before him a young man who had not long set out on the journey of life; and who yet, to his own deep surprise and disgust, found many shins of travel already upon him. He had not meant to go wrong; as yet, perhaps, he was not gone very far wrong. And yet where did all this filth come from? And how is it to be got rid of? How is he to make his way clean, and keep it clean?

I. IF WE ARE TO MAKE OUR LIFE PURE, NOBLE, SATISFYING, WE ARE TO TAKE HEED TO IT: We are to think about it, and to force ourselves to walk according to our best thoughts and aims. Carlyle sums up the whole teaching of Goethe in the brief citation, "Think of living." Many never look forward and think of their life as a whole, and of how they may make the best of it. God has put this great and solemn gift of life into their hands: yet they never really think of it as His gift, nor ask themselves what they mean to do with it, what they have done with it, or how they may so use it as to show that they are not unworthy to be trusted with it. Nay, more; many of them do not even think of it bit by bit, day by day, step by step. So far from considering what they can make of their life as a whole, how they may make it pure and fair and bright; they do not so much as ask, "What shall I do with my life to-day, so as to make it as clean, as fair, as useful as I can?" Is it any wonder that they often wander round and round without making any real advance; and sink, again and again, into the very sloughs from which, again and again, they have been drawn out; or fall, again and again, into the very traps from which they have been set free? But to think is not enough. We want a high and true standard to which to refer, by which we may measure and direct our thoughts.

II. And this standard the psalmist gives us when he tells us to TAKE HEED TO OUR WAYS ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF GOD. It bids you remember that you have a soul as well as a body; that moral virtues and graces are still more valuable than mental gains and shining parts; that there is a world above and beyond this present world, a life above and beyond this mortal life; and it warns you to provide for that as well as for this. It asks you to believe that God is more than man, the soul more than the body, virtue better than pleasure, goodness better than gain, and the life to come more and better than the life which now is. It demands that when the claims of God clash with those of man, as they sometimes will, or the claims of the soul clash with those of the body, or the claims of virtue and goodness with those of gain and pleasure, or the claims of eternity with those of time, that you sacrifice the lower claims to the higher, that you sacrifice passing and inferior interests to interests which are noble and enduring.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. YOUNG MEN REQUIRE CLEANSING. Somehow or other, from the very commencement of moral agency, impure thoughts enter the mind, and impure emotions are awakened. So that cleansing is required almost at the beginning, because spiritual uncleanness is —

(1)Inimical to peace of conscience.

(2)A hindrance to true soul growth.

(3)An obstruction to Divine fellowship.

II. MORAL CLEANSING REQUIRES CIRCUMSPECTION IN LIFE. "By taking heed thereto." If you tread the path of vanity, avarice, sensuality, selfishness, you will go down deeper and deeper in moral filth. If you tread the path of virtue as trod by Jesus of Nazareth, you must take heed that you tread that path constantly and not turn to the right hand or to the left. "Take heed." There are many on all hands who will try to turn you from the path.

III. CIRCUMSPECTION OF LIFE SHOULD BE GUIDED BY THE DIVINE WORD. "Thy Word," that contains the map; Thy Word, there burns the lamp; Thy Word, there dwells the inspiration.

(Homilist.)

I. ITS PERIL. One thing that makes it hard for a young man to succeed in his manhood is the prevalence among us of influences that work distractingly and scatteringly. It takes time and a certain amount of leisure if a man is going to be at his best. We are torn hither and thither by multiplicity of interest.

2. Another disadvantage under which our young men are suffering is that they have so largely slipped their old anchorages. They have cut adrift from the past. Hereditary tastes, ideas and methods are ignored. The age to which a custom or doctrine has attained is taken as measure of its inherent absurdity. To be old-fashioned is, with them, to be silly.

3. Another tooth in the jaw of the Babylonian lion is the rum-shop and the wine-cup.

4. Still another incisor that pricks into and tears the life of our young manhood is the prevalence among us of so much that works personal impurity, in the shape of coarse literature, dirty pictures and houses of ill-repute.

5. Another obstacle that obstructs the efforts of our young men to maintain their manliness is the engrossing love of money.

II. THE SERVICE OF SUCCOUR THAT WE CAN RENDER.

1. Prayer. Christ teaches us that He not only regards the prayer of faith when offered by those who need help, but that He regards the prayer of faith when offered in behalf of those who need help. Prayer generates work, and so makes us co-operate with God in bringing the answer to our own prayer.

2. Another thing we can do is to contribute in a material way to the work of the Young Men's Christian Association that has the interests of our un-homed young men in particular charge.

3. But we must not relegate to organization the work and responsibility that devolves upon us in our character of individual Christians.

(C. H. Parkhurst, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. It requires MORAL CLEANSING.

1. There are several elements more or less impure in a young man's life that must be cleansed: —

(1)Animalism. The senses are likely to control him.

(2)Illusion. His imagination creates fictitious joys and dignities.

(3)Vanity. The tendency of the young to overrate themselves is all but universal.

2. From these elements of impurity he must be cleansed. The animal must give way to the spiritual, the fictitious to the real, the vain to the sober and the humble.

II. Its moral cleansing REQUIRES PERSONAL CIRCUMSPECTION. "By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word." "Sanctify them through Thy truth: for Thy Word is truth," said Christ. "Now ye are clean through the Word I spoke unto you." By personal circumspection the Word must be applied —

(1)For correction;

(2)for guidance.

(Homilist.)

I. THE BIBLE MAKES A GREAT DEAL IN ITS TEACHING ABOUT THE WAYS OF MEN.

1. There is the way of the transgressor, which is hard; and the way of the fool, which is right in his own eyes; and the way of the slothful, which is a hedge of thorns; and the way of the wicked, which is as darkness. And there is the way of the righteous, which is plain, and which the Lord knows; and the way of the saint, which is preserved; and the way which is like the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

2. There is variety in the ways of individual men at different periods of their life. There is the peculiar bent and passion of the old man, the characteristic of the man in middle life, and, differing from these, the way of a young man.

II. WHAT IS MEANT BY "CLEANSING THE WAY." It is something very deep and pure which is intended, or Job would never have said, "What is man that he should be clean?" It is something very practical and searching, or Isaiah would not have begun his prophecies with the call, "Wash you, make you clean," etc. It is something intended to cover the whole area of life, or it never would have been made an ordinance in the old dispensation to have the vessels and persons clean that came into the presence of God; nor would Jesus in the new, in so solemn a way have washed the feet of His disciples to make them "every whit clean." It is the cleanness which is part of God's life which is intended. God is of purer eyes than to look upon sin. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever. It is the cleanness which is also the holiness of God — cleanness from sin, from evil, from guile, from insincerity; the very quality praised by the adoring angels when they cry, "Holy, Holy, Holy," in the presence of God. The question, therefore, means, "Wherewithal shall a young man lead a holy life like the life of the Holy God? Wherewithal shall he make his way the way of a saint?"

III. THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION IS — "By taking heed thereto according to God's Word." By taking God's Word as the light, the guide, and the director of the way; by considering your steps in the light of that Word; by taking that Word as the chart, the pilot, and the propeller of your way. For the young soul who receives this Word and makes it his bosom companion, who accepts its light as the guide of his way, who follows the Lord whom it commends — life from that hour is changed. His heart is fixed on the strength of God. His career is along the lines of the life of God. He will be no more a straw tossed in the wind, a dead log swung hither and thither by the swirl in the river, a wave driven this way and that by the wind; but a life — a stream from the life of God — a life made wise by the indwelling of God's truth in the mind, and by the constraint of His love in the heart.

(A. Macleod, D. D.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF THE WAY SPOKEN OF.

1. Its moral aspect. The law cannot relax its claims; it is inexorable, and cries, "Pay me that thou owest." it smiles on the obedient, and frowns on the disobedient. Hence, your every word, thought and deed should be subject to its authority.

2. Its social aspect. "Evil communications corrupt good manners" is a truth which receives daily corroboration. Hence, how important that young men should be very particular in forming connections, and that great care should also be observed in making companionships (Proverbs 1:10; 2 Corinthians 6:14, 17). Divine grace does not destroy our social nature; it sanctifies it, and directs our social instincts in a pure channel; so that whilst sinners are joining "hand in hand," Christians may enjoy the "communion of saints."

3. Its intellectual aspect. Mental culture is an important part of your duty. When Virgil was asked by a friend why he studied so much accuracy in the plan of his poems, the propriety of his characters, and the purity of his diction, he answered, "I write for eternity." Let it be, my young friends, the daily language of your hearts and life, "I am living for eternity."

4. Its spiritual aspect. Your soul in its origin, capacities, immortality, and the price paid for its redemption, has a claim on your attention and efforts to save it.

II. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THE PHRASE, "CLEANSE HIS WAY"?

1. That the young man must ponder his steps. Want of reflection and forethought is characteristic of youth.

2. That he must resist temptation. Wealth, pleasure, fashion, company, amusements, pernicious books, and sensual enjoyments surround you, and you are in danger of being unduly influenced by them.

3. That he improve by the use of his privileges.

4. That he prepare for eternity.

III. HOW IS THIS TO BE DONE? All your proceedings are to be regulated by God's Word. Its cautions and threatenings must serve to preserve you from sin and danger. Its precepts and doctrines must guide you in your journey through life: and its precious promises and bright examples must allure you to scenes of felicity and glory beyond the grave.

IV. LESSONS. A young man's "way" is —

1. Highly critical. Beset with snares, dangers, and enemies. Demanding constant watchfulness and prayer.

2. Deeply solemn. Leading to heaven or hell, eternal happiness or endless woe.

3. Personally responsible. The means of salvation within reach.

(James White.)

I. THE DANGER TO WHICH YOUNG MEN ARE EXPOSED.

1. The depraved nature common to them as well as others.

2. The strength of their passions.

3. Their inexperience.

4. The incitements of wicked men.

5. The evil example of others.

6. Want of solid religious principles.

II. THE DIVINELY-PROVIDED REMEDY, OR PREVENTIVE TO POLLUTION.

1. We must begin by seeking regenerating grace.

2. We must keep constant watch over our own hearts, or they will ensnare us.

3. We must pay strict attention to every part of our conduct.

4. We must seek assistance from the proper quarter.

(W. Peddie, D. D.)

I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THE QUESTION. That for a young man to cleanse his way is —

1. A necessary thing.

2. A difficult thing.

3. A noble thing (ver. 1). Such are beautiful in youth, and strong in their radiant manhood. They are the flower of the race. They are the hope of the Church. And the Lord Jesus, "beholding them, loves them."

II. WHAT IS TAUGHT IN THE ANSWER.

1. He must have a fixed purpose to "cleanse his way." Determination is everything in religion, as in other matters. The young man who is firmly resolved to live a holy life will succeed in doing so, provided he lays hold of the grace of God, and uses the appointed means of sanctification.

2. He must take Holy Scripture as his guide. The Bible is the cleanest book in the world. Its ideals are the noblest. It is the purity of the Divine Word that has invested it with indestructible vitality. The morality of Scripture satisfies our moral being as the very perfection of the True, the Beautiful, and the Good; and Scripture shows us that fair ideal of purity embodied in an actual human life — the life of the Son of God in our nature.

(C. Jerdan, LL. B.)

The infidel, Thomas Paine, was one night haranguing a promiscuous company, gathered in the common room of the New York tavern where he had his lodgings, on the great harm done to the world by the Bible and the Christian religion. When he paused for breath, he was much astonished at the remark of a stranger, who said, "Mr. Paine, you have been in Scotland. You know there is not a more rigid set of people in the world than they are in their attachment to the Bible. When a young man loaves his father's house, his mother in packing his chest always puts a Bible on the top of his clothes." The infidel nodded acquiescence. "You have also been in Spain," continued the stranger. "The people have no Bibles, and in that country you can hire a man for a dollar to murder his neighbour, who never gave him any offence." Mr. Paine answered that this was so. "Then, see how the argument stands," said the advocate for Christianity. "If the Bible were so bad a book as you represent it to be, those who use it would be the worst members of society; but the contrary is the fact. Our prisons, almshouses, and penitentiaries are filled with men and women whose ignorance or unbelief prevents them from reading the Bible."

I. THE YOUNG MAN WHO RULES HIMSELF AFTER GOD'S WORD WILL WALK IN THE WAYS OF HONESTY. Make it a rule, young men, never to sacrifice integrity for broad.

II. THE YOUNG MAN WHO RULES HIMSELF AFTER GOD'S WORD WILL CULTIVATE A SPIRIT OF REVERENCE. The young man who rules himself after God's Word will utter no profane oath; and when he comes into God's holy temple, it will always be with uncovered head, as becomes the presence-chamber of the King of kings.

III. Another thing which will distinguish those who walk in obedience to God's laws is that THEY WILL BE FOUND IN THE WAYS OF SOBRIETY. By one of the laws of ancient Greece, every offence committed by a drunken person received double punishment. Christian nations would do well to adopt it.

IV. THE YOUNG MAN WHO RULES HIMSELF AFTER GOD'S WORD WILL BE FOUND IN THE WAYS OF PURITY. "Keep thyself pure" (1 Timothy 5:22).

V. THE YOUNG MAN WHO RULES HIMSELF AFTER GOD'S WORD WILL BE RELIGIOUS. Youth is the stormy cape, within sight of which many a frail bark is lost; and God's Word is the only chart which can guide one safely On his voyage.

(J. N. Norton.)

I. THE QUESTION.

1. Man's ways need cleansing.

2. Youth is the most important time for this.(1) The youngest person has contracted defilement and sin.(2) The young may die.(3) Youth is a time of the greatest danger.(4) The young are forming those associations and habits which go on increasing in strength, and give colour to all the actions of their future lives.(5) In youth the hopes of your parents, and friends, and masters, look for some reward for the pains they took with you in early infancy.

II. THE ANSWER.

1. How does the Word of God provide for this cleansing of the way?(1) By pointing out to. the young man the evil of his way. The Bible tells him what God is, and what he is, and what evil is in him and in his way.(2) By discovering an infallible remedy for the disorders of his nature. And that remedy is the salvation that is by Jesus Christ.(3) By becoming a directory in all the paths of duty to which they may be called.

2. You must take heed to it. This implies —(1) Care and thoughtfulness.(2) Prayer.

(D. Wilson, M. A.)

I. THE SENSES IS WHICH THE WORD OF GOD IS A CLEANSER OF THE WAY OF LIFE.

1. It purifies as a rule.

2. God's Word is an instrument by which He cleanses the heart. So Jesus prayed — "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth." The Word that said, "Let there be light," and in a moment changed the darkness and confusion of the aboriginal elements into the light, order, and beauty of creation, is the same Word which breathes the breath of spiritual life into the new creature in Christ Jesus.

II. THE MANNER IS WHICH THE WORD OF GOD IS TO BE APPLIED TO CLEANSE THE YOUNG MAN'S WAY. "By taking heed thereto."

1. This implies an earnest study of the Word; frequent and unintermitred contemplation.

2. It also implies a care and watchfulness over our own hearts and ways.

III. THE REASONS WHICH SHOULD APPEAL TO YOUTH TO TAKE HEED TO THEIR WAY.

1. How reasonable it is in itself. Ought not God to have our first and best, who loved us first and gave us His best?

2. Temptation is never so strong and fiery as in the tropical clime of youth.

3. The fearful hindrances to the work of grace which increase and aggravate upon the postponement of repentance.

(J. B. Owen, M. A.)

A way has a direction, and leads somewhither. A way is continuous, and if we are in it, we are advancing in it. A way differs in its direction from other ways, and diverges more and more from them the farther one travels upon it. There is hardly any error so perilous as that of imagining that there can be isolated acts or states of mind. Every present has its closely affiliated future. Every deed, every reverie, every thought, is a cause. We are moving on in character, as in years. Let me beg you, then, to see whither you are going, whither your way leads. Start not in a direction which you are not willing to follow to the end. Take not your first step on any evil way, unless you are ready to encounter the dishonour, degradation, misery, and ruin which have visibly overtaken the advanced travellers on that way. Remember, our ways lead on through the death-shadow; and I know that there is but one way on which you are willing that death should overtake you, — but one way whose steps brighten under the shadow, and in which you can hope to walk with those whom you would crave as your companions in the life everlasting. "Wherewithal shall a young man 'cleanse' his way," or, more literally, make his way clean? This is a metaphor which appeals vividly to our experience. What is there so disheartening as the necessity of treading muddy streets? We sedulously seek, if they are to be had, clean paths for our feet, and bewail ourselves when we cannot find them. We are ashamed, even though no other eye be upon us, if we are forced to prolong travel-stain or any squalid condition of person or attire. Can it be that there is one so imbruted that he feels not the travel-stain of sinful ways, — that there is not a close-clinging sense of impurity when the soul has debased itself by foul deeds, indulgences, or associations? Must there not be a self-loathing, a self-contempt, in those who are making themselves vile? "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word." What is the Word of God? An unerring and undying conscience, a sense of right and wrong, native in the soul of man, is God's Word to you and me. There is never a question of duty, in which you do not know what you ought to do. There is never a sinful compliance to which you are tempted or urged, of whose moral character you have the slightest doubt. So long as you obey your conscience, you are taking heed to your way according to the Word of God. But this phrase has for us another meaning — another, yet the same. The Word of God — the very same word which speaks to us in con-science — has lived incarnate in the one sinless Son of Man, or rather, not has lived, but ever lives, in the heaven whither He has gone before us, and where His welcome awaits our following Him, in His Gospel, fresh as when the words of grace and truth fell from His lips, in the pure spirits trained in His nurture, in the examples of excellence that have transmitted His holiness in a line of living light all down the Christian ages, and in whom the Christ within has shone forth in radiant beauty.

(A. P. Peabody, D. D.)

You are to "take heed." Look at the pilot at the helm, when he is steering the vessel, in the storm, amidst the rocks: what is he doing? "Taking heed." He is all eye, all sensibility, all intelligence, as to the position in which he stands. That is "taking heed." Look at the sentinel, walking his weary round, when he knows that the enemy is at hand. Hearken to his footsteps; why, they seem to be but the echo of the man's sensibility of alarm and of danger. He is "taking heed." And you are to "take heed to your way." What did God give you faculties for, but to be employed? You have the faculty for observation: employ it. You have the faculty for examination: employ it. You have the faculty for reflection: employ it. You have the power of "taking heed": employ it. And recollect that no man can do this for you. It is to be done individually, vigilantly; you, as a man alive to your danger, are to enact the part of the pilot amidst the rocks. And doing this "according to God's Word," you shall not "labour in vain, nor spend your strength for nought." You can discern between good and evil, you know what is offensive, and you know what is pleasing to God; you know what you must do to be saved; you know that yonder is a scene of profligacy and vice, and that here is an opportunity for serving and worshipping God; you know that there is a literature which is saturated with all manner of ungodliness, and that here lies a Book which will lead you to "glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life." "Take heed," then; and "take heed," "according to God's Word." When your vigilance is once excited, and your mind is all in action, and you leave your house of business, and are plied with all manner of fascinations, "take heed" what you are about; but be sure to "take heed" according to the requirements, the directions, the expostulations, the promises of God's Word. To "take heed" according to the maxims of the world, or the suggestions of fashion, would only be to mock your misery, and accelerate your downfall; but "taking heed according to God's Word," that Word being hid away in your hearts, for constant and appropriate use, you will be able to say with a voice which he will be forced to listen to, "Get thee behind me, Satan," and to "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ shall make you free." But this requires attention, diligence, and personal effort. How will God's Word enable you to take heed? You must get it into your memories, it must be associated with your recollections, it must be ready whenever you want it, your hearing of it having been mixed with faith; and when it has thus been lodged and assimilated there, it will be "the sword of the Spirit," "the Word of God."

(W. Brock.)

Some years ago, in most of the large railway stations of England, there was a picture which greatly amused me. It represented a little boy who had been washed, and stood half white and half black beside a bath. A certain kind of soap had been used in the boy's ablutions, and the result was that, although he had not become white, he was half white and half black. "Like some people of my acquaintance," I thought many a time; "not so dirty as they once were, but they are far from clean yet." We ought to be clean every whit — that is, clean in all our thoughts, words, and especially in our conduct. Let us all aim at having a clean life. Almost the first thing that we discover when we begin to think about ourselves and the world in which we live is this need of cleansing. Sin has defiled everything, and its marks are upon our hearts. How can we remedy this? what can be done for us to remove the stain which seems fixed so fast in the fibres of our lives? What would you think of a black man who washed his face, and scrubbed it with all his might, in order to make it white? He could not make his skin fair like ours, even if he used all the soap in England, and all the washing powders, too; because the black lies underneath the skin, and it cannot be got at by rubbing. Once a year farmers wash their sheep so as to cleanse the wool, but then all the dirt is on the outside. That which defiles us, however, is inside us, and so it cannot be so easily got rid of. We must become clean within, and to do this for us is God's good work. Mr. Moody tells us that one day he promised to take his little boy out for a drive. But the child played about in the dirt, and made himself quite unfit to be seen. "Let me come with you, father," he pleaded. "No, Willie, you are not ready. I must take you in and wash you." "Oh, papa! I'se ready." "No, you are all over dirt." "Mamma washed me; I'se clean." Finding that he could not convince the child that he had contracted dirt since he had been washed, Mr. Moody lifted Willie up in his arms and showed him his face in a looking-glass. Says Mr. Moody, "The looking-glass stopped his mouth, but I did not wash his face with it!" Now, the Bible is a looking-glass, and intended to show us our need of cleansing; and if you will but prayerfully study it you will see your need of cleansing. George Herbert, while catechizing asked, after other questions about man's misery, "Since man is so miserable, what is to be done?" and the answerer could not tell. He asked him again what he would do if he were in a ditch? This familiar illustration made the answer so plain, that he was even ashamed of his ignorance; for he could not but say he would haste out of it as fast as he could. Then the minister asked whether he needed a helper, and who was that helper? And then we must be kept clean, and that every day. For one thing, we must avoid that which would defile us, and that we can do if we are careful. A gentleman, when he brought his son to London in order that he might apprentice him to an engineer, made up his mind to give him a few words of kindly counsel. He turned over in his mind how best to say what ought to be said, without getting any nearer the solution. But as they walked along the street,, they observed that the roadway was very muddy. The youth was about to cross in the mud, but his father stopped him. "Wait," he said, "we will seek a clean crossing. Always seek a clean crossing in life." After he had been left alone in town, the youth pondered these words, and dimly began to see their meaning. Seek a clean crossing in life; mind where you go, and keep out of the mud. There are some places that are known by almost every one to be evil — keep away from them; seek a clean crossing. There is another thing said in the text about the cleansing Word of God, and that is, we must frequently consult it. On board ship the captain consults his chart, and shapes his course by it. The Bible is our chart, a map of the roads through life along which we must tread in order to reach heaven. A chart kept wrapped up would be useless; look at it, study it, and then follow its guidance. At times we are perplexed as to what is the right and wise course for us to adopt. We are perplexed, and do not know whom to consult. Open your Bible, and you will probably find there some one in precisely the same circumstances. You will certainly find some text suitable for you, and will thus learn what to do. "The entrance of Thy Word giveth light," says a psalm, and many people can testify that this witness is quite true.

(N. Wiseman.)

Go by the directions. I saw a picture once which has stuck to my memory for years and years. It was a picture of a dark, wild, stormy night, and a traveller was standing up in the stirrups of his horse at a parting of the way, trying to read the directions on the finger-post. How eagerly he was looking! I can see him yet holding the lighted match carefully in his hand lest the wind should blow it out before he had read the directions l It was a good thing for him that there were directions, and it is a good thing we have them, too. Where are our directions? They are — the Bible. That is God's Word to us, telling us which road to take when we come to the parting of the way. Go by the directions Do what God says, and you will never go wrong.

(J. R. Howatt.)

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