Who is the man who delights in life, who desires to see many good days?
I. THAT THE DESIRE FOR LONG LIFE IS NATURAL TO MAN. There may be times, when, under the pressure of trial and weariness, we are ready to say, with Job," I would not live alway." But this is a temporary feeling. Our natural desire is to live, and to live long. This desire has been implanted by God, and works in many ways for good.
II. THAT LONG LIFE, WHEN SPENT IN THE SERVICE OF GOD, IS A GREAT BLESSING. We should desire life, not from fear of death, nor from the pain of parting with dear friends, but "to see good," and that we may do the more work for God. The present world, so far as we know, is the only one in which we can serve God by overcoming evil, and by patience under trial, and by converting sinners. Besides, the longer we live, the more good we can do to others, and the more we can glorify God. To glorify God by the service of our youth is good; to glorify him by the service of youth and manhood is better; but to glorify him by faithful service from first to last, through all stages of life, is best of all (Proverbs 16:21; Philippians 1:23-26; 2 Timothy 4:6-8). How different is it with the wicked! Prolonged life is to them a curse instead of a blessing. The more time, the more sin; the more sin, the more evil; till at last it might be said, "Would that he died early!" or, as of Judas," It had been good for that man if he had not been born" (Matthew 26:24).
III. THAT LONG LIFE CAN BE BEST SECURED BY ATTENTION TO THE LAWS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. There is an intimate connection between the body and the soul. We may disregard the laws of health as to the body, and then we must suffer. The care of the body is as needful, in its place, as the care of the soul. The tendency of vice is undoubtedly to shorten life. How often does it happen, that young men, naturally possessed of good constitutions, bring on weakness and disease by dissolute living! On the other hand, the practice of self-denial and virtue is favourable to longevity. "The fear of the Lord prolongeth days, but the years of the wicked shall be shortened" (Proverbs 10:2-7). The question of the psalmist meets a response in our hearts, "What man is he that desireth life. and his wise and fatherly counsel should find an echo in our lives, "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it." The laws of health are largely studied in our days. We have Acts of Parliament on "Public Health," and much is done to promote the physical comfort and health of the people. This is good. It is of much advantage that the people, down to the poorest, should have pure air and wholesome food and favourable surroundings, and it is the duty of the Church, as well as the state, to look to these things. But more is needed. There must be proper education of the people. They must be taught, not only the care of the body, but the care of the soul. The only complete education is that which embraces the whole man - body and soul and spirit. We are only perfectly educated when we are taught of God, "that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world" (Titus 2:13). Longevity was not only a promise of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 4:40; Ecclesiastes 12:13), but it is a promise of the latter-day glory (Isaiah 65:20). - W.F.
I. To BRIDLE THE TONGUE. Innumerable evils grow from this root of bitterness.
I. LIFE IS A SERIOUS THING. Many do not take it seriously. Their great object is to get through it pleasurably. They glide along the stream of time into the ocean of eternity without ever having realized that "life is real, life is earnest." It is a serious thing because —
What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?vacuum, but a plenum of misery and wrong; not waterless clouds, but clouds that rain mildew; not empty cisterns, but cisterns full of poison and bitterness. If we want happiness at all, we must seek it everywhere, and everywhere it is of the heart.
1. It is the preparation-time for eternity. The time to seek and find in Christ the salvation of our souls.
2. It is the believer's working-time for God.
3. It is a time of conflict with evil.
II. LIFE IS ALSO A SOURCE OF JOY. Seriousness and joy are not incompatible, It is a serious thing to have the charge of a young life. Is it any the less a source of joy to have that precious charge committed to one? Life is a source of joy because —
1. God gives us innumerable blessings.
2. If we live it well it is a time of success. Even in this world God ever rewards His toilers with a sense of His presence and favour, and He often grants them true success.
3. Even here we may be conquerors in the conflict with evil through Him who loved us.
(H. P. Wright, B. A.)
2. Slander and calumny; the inventing evil things of men, and falsely imputing them to them; this injurious practice to others is apt to provoke the like usage from them again.
II. To DEPART FROM EVIL, AND DO GOOD.
1. The practice of virtue and religion is the natural cause of happiness. What can more highly conduce to the health of a man's body, to the vigour and activity of his mind, to the improving of his estate, to the flourishing of his reputation, to the honour and safeguard of his whole life, than this, his departing from evil and doing good? Virtue seldom fails of its reward in this world.
2. The practice of virtue and religion never fails to obtain the patronage and protection of Divine providence. Righteousness is the image of God; true goodness, wheresoever it is, is a beam derived from that fountain of light, which God cannot choose, if He loves Himself, but cherish and bless with a peculiar favour.
III. To SEEK PEACE, AND PURSUE IT.
1. What is to be done by us in order to peace?(1) A quiet and peaceable subjection to that government we live under.(2) That every man keep in that place and station Divine providence hath set him, and not venture to act out of his own sphere. Did every under-mariner in a storm leave the pump and his own particular charge to instruct the pilot, or every common soldier in time of battle quit his post to instruct his captain, what tumults and confusions would this breed!(3) A constant and conscientious adhering to the Church.(4) That laying aside all pride and passion and self-interest, we pursue after truth with purity and simplicity of intention.(5) That we bear with one another's weaknesses and infirmities (Colossians 3:13). Human nature is indispensably subject to blindness, impatience and levity, mightily prone to mistake and mis-behaviour; the nature of a man's soul is as far from infallibility as the constitution of his body is from immortality, and we can no more hope in all cases to be free from error and mistake, than we can at all times to be exempted from sickness and death. Now how reasonable is it that they should forgive, who so often themselves stand in need of forgiveness!(6) That we pray for peace. The lusts and passions of men are by the psalmist compared to the raging waves of the sea, and the same almighty Power that sets bounds to the one, must also quiet and restrain the other.
2. How great a blessing peace is, and how highly it tends to make our days many and good.(1) As it whets and excites diligence and industry in men's several callings, by giving them hopes of success in them.(2) As it gives men security in the enjoyment of their estates and possessions; in times of popular tumults the fears of losing what a man has creates him more trouble than the enjoyment gives him content.(3) As it affords the fittest opportunity for the practice of religion and virtue, and so conduces to the happiness of the future state as well as of this.
(S. Freeman, M. A.)
Keep thy tongue from evil.1. There are different ways of sinning with the tongue. Our words may be —(1) Exaggerated. It is easy to make light of the common expressions, "terrible, awful," and the like; but they are on the road to sin, and betray a tendency to make more of things than they deserve, which is at bottom self-conceit.(2) Insincere. Saying pleasant things without meaning them — the wrong and sinful side of politeness.(3) Malicious. Speaking falsely about a person so as to hurt him.(4) Profane. The use of vulgar and blasphemous words which young people adopt as a sign of manly independence. And that often goes further, and becomes filthy and immoral.
2. The tongue may be kept:(1) By keeping the heart right.(2) By persistent effort to break a bad habit.(3) By the choice of good friends.(4) By prayer.
(G. M. Mackie, M. A.)
Seek peace, and pursue it.
(J. W. Alexander.)
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