Do not be like the horse or mule, which have no understanding; they must be controlled with bit and bridle to make them come to you.
I. THE PLACE OF GUIDANCE. Unless we are able to see God's eye, we cannot be guided. What hinders? Our sins. "Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up" (Psalm 40:12). The great thing, therefore, is to confess our sins, that they may be put away, and then, "accepted in the Beloved," we can "look up with childlike trust, and cry, Abba, Father!"
II. THE MANNER OF GUIDANCE.
1. Authoritative. As master and servant (Psalm 123:2).
3. Sure. Moses knew the desert well, but he might err. He was glad, therefore, of the help of Hobab, "Thou mayest be to us instead of eyes" (Numbers 10:31). How much more surely may we depend upon God in our wilderness journey! "Except the eye of the Lord be put out, we cannot be put out of his sight and care" (Donne).
III. THE HAPPY RESULTS OF GUIDANCE.
1. Peace. We cannot guide ourselves; nor can we trust to others, even the wisest and the best, to guide us; but when we put ourselves under the care and direction of God, we feel that all is well (Jeremiah 10:23; Psalm 119:165).
2. Freedom. God does not take pleasure in "the bit and bridle." He would have us be guided through our reason and heart rather than by restraint and force. He works in us both "to will and to do." He makes us free by the truth, that our service may be not from fear, but love.
3. Courageousness. (2 Chronicles 20:12.) God's eye upon us is an inspiration. Gideon felt a new man when the Lord looked upon him (Judges 6:14). Paul had a heart for any fate when Christ stood by him in the storm (Acts 27:23). Stephen went to a cruel death with love and joy under the eye of his Master (Acts 7:56-60).
4. Hope. In humble, trustful self surrender and love we can go forward with confidence. God's eye upon us, and our eye upon God, we are safe for time and for eternity, - W.F.
Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding.I. A PRIVILEGE TO BE SOUGHT.
1. This guidance is very full in its nature.(1) God is prepared to give you an inward understanding of spiritual things; for His instruction is intensely effectual upon the mind.(2) God adds the precept to the doctrine, and instructs us in both.(3) Here is fellowship as well as instruction; for the guide goes with the traveller, and thus will God, in the process of our instruction, give us fellowship with Himself.
2. This teaching is divine in its source. Our Lord may instruct us by men who are taught of Himself; but, after all, the best of His servants cannot teach us anything profitably except the Lord Himself teaches by them and through them. What a wonderful condescension it is that the Lord should become a teacher!
3. Observe how wonderfully personal is this promised guidance. The Infinite focusses Himself upon the insignificant!
4. This teaching is delightfully tender.
5. This teaching is constant.
II. A CHARACTER TO BE AVOIDED.
1. We are not to imitate creatures of which we are the superiors. One said, in my hearing, as an excuse for a passionate speech, "I could not help it. If you tread on a worm it will turn." Is a worm to be the example for a saint?
2. We must mind that we do not imitate creatures to whom we are so near akin. A large part of us is animal, and its tendency is to drag down that part which is more than angelic. How abject, and yet how august is man! Brother go the worm, and yet akin to Deity. Immortal and yea a child of dust. Be ye not the prey of your lower natures.
3. We are not to imitate creatures devoid of reason. Be sensitive to the Spirit of God. "Give me understanding and I shall keep Thy law."
III. As INFLICTION TO BE ESCAPED. DO not drive your Saviour to be stern with you. Do not choose the way of hardness — the brutish way. "Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding," for then you will become sad, gloomy, dull, stupid, and full of disquietude.
IV. A FREEDOM TO BE ATTAINED. There are children of God who wear no bit or bridle: the Lord has loosed their bonds. To them obedience is delight: they keep His commands with their whole heart. The Son has made them free, and they are free indeed.
1. They are free, because they are in touch with God. God's will is their will. They answer to the Lord as the echo to the voice.
2. Because tutored.
3. Because always trusting.
4. Because tender.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. RELIGION cheeks the vices, follies, and passions of mankind, by inculcating a belief that there is a Superior Power which created us, such as we are; — that set good and evil before us, for our free will to choose; but promised a reward for the one, and a punishment for the other. All religion, therefore, stands upon the supposition that reason left to itself is insufficient to direct us; — for if we should all choose the good of our own accord, reward and punishment must be superfluous: even false religion supposes this; nay, even a religion in the hands of the magistrate, — a political religion, — the avowed invention of man, — the product of reason itself, imputes error to reason, and preaches up the necessity of control.
II. The very existence of LAW in the world is a testimony of the universal suffrage of mankind against the power of reason. If all men acted right of their own accord there would be no need of law to restrain them.
III. EDUCATION, though applied first to the individual, is the last resource of society. Men form themselves into society, from their mutual fears, for mutual protection. Their notions of a Deity may be derived from tradition or revelation. But, in the ordinary course of things, both religion and law exist before education. It is from reflection that men begin to perceive that the rising generation may be trained to habits suitable to the society of which they are to become members; and if education could act in proportion to its design, it would prevent the commission of those crimes which the law must punish.
IV. BUT DO WE REALLY HOPE TO STEM THE TORRENT BY RELIGION, LAW, AND EDUCATION? Yes — if they have not lost their effect upon the mind of man.
(M. R. Vincent, D. D.)
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