Wisdom hath builded her house.
I. THE PROVISION MADE BY HEAVENLY WISDOM FOR THE SPIRITUAL WANTS OF MEN. When Wisdom is here represented as having furnished her house, and built her dwelling, you have an idea, a correct conception of the Church of God. God is the builder of the Church, and the foundation is deep, broad, and wide, and altogether sufficient for the purposes of human salvation. Men are represented as living stones, quickened and animated, and hewn and fitted to occupy the position for which they are intended, cemented by Divine love, held in attraction to the foundation, and consequently held in relation to each other. In the passage the building is characterised by stability and durability. "Seven pillars." Pillars, in Scripture, are emblems of strength, beauty, and durability. The number seven is indicative of perfection. Every pillar, every buttress, every support that Christianity needs the wisdom of God has provided. In the passages is the further idea of a gracious and adequate provision. "She hath killed her killings." This is the idea of sacrifice. The idea of what is grateful and refreshing is likewise presented. "She hath mingled her wine." Easterns mingled their wines in order, by the power of spices, to make them more attractive, and to strengthen their flavour. Then the "table is furnished." Divine truth in its simplest and most complicated form — Divine truth that can guide, and purify, and train the spirit up for heaven — the truth that can make you free — the truth that can bless you with present happiness and eternal glory, is presented in the gospel. The provision of infinite love, then, is precisely adapted to your need.
II. THE INVITATION PRESENTED TO MANKIND TO ACCEPT OF THIS PROVISION.
1. The parties employed to utter the invitation. When Wisdom, as the queen of heaven, spreads her table, she sends out her maidens. They are emblems of feebleness, purity, and attractiveness; and this is just the character of the messengers that were sent out by the Lord.
2. The persons to whom the invitation is directed. Here represented as being foolish, indiscreet, unwise, incompetent to guide their own affairs, incapable of obtaining that support and comfort which they need. Here is a correct idea of the ruined, the guilty, and the helpless condition of man. The gospel is preached to the ignorant, the guilty, and the wretched.
3. The scene of proclamation is described. It is made in the chief places of congress, at the opening of the gate, and the going in of the doors. This teaches us that the proclamation is to be made in the midst of large multitudes of people.
III. THE CONSIDERATION BY WHICH THIS INVITATION IS ENFORCED AND PRESSED HOME UPON ATTENTION. There is not the mere announcement of provision, not the mere proclamation of the fact, but an entreaty on the part of those who go out with the messages. "Forsake the foolish and live." Life is valuable — all life is valuable. The life of religion, the life of God in the soul of man, is the highest form of life. There is an appeal in the text to the love of enjoyment. There is an appeal also to the love of wisdom. Have you obeyed the invitation?
(Gearge Smith, D. D,)
I. The RESEMBLANCES between them are set forth in a very striking manner.
1. It is the same class of men that is invited. They are in both cases "the simple," "the void of understanding."
2. The invitations are similar in —
(1) (2) (3) II. But the DIFFERENCES are no less marked. 1. In the banquets themselves. Wisdom has built her grand, substantial palace or temple (ver. 1), in virtue of her share in creation (Proverbs 8:30), and she has provided a satisfying, nourishing, and gladsome feast (ver. 2). Not so Folly. In consistency with her parasitic nature, it is not her own goods that she creates and prepares, but she invites to the abuse or illicit enjoyment of the goods God has already bestowed. Wisdom sits as a princess in her rightful home; Folly is hardly more than at the door of her house, which is not described. 2. In the inducements presented. These are not the feasts themselves, but additional commendations setting forth their relative advantages. In the one case satisfying and nourishing viands are offered, whose result is life; in the other, the thing presented is pleasure, and that which is to give it is only spoken of in a mysterious, allusive way. It is the illicit and secret enjoyment that is the charm. But if the Queen of Sheba declared that "the half had not been told her" of the true wisdom, how much of the truth is kept back in the promises and fair speeches of Folly! Those who are once within her house are to all intents and purposes dead men, and are as if they were already "in the depths of Sheol!" (St. J. A. Frere, M.A.)
(2) (3) II. But the DIFFERENCES are no less marked. 1. In the banquets themselves. Wisdom has built her grand, substantial palace or temple (ver. 1), in virtue of her share in creation (Proverbs 8:30), and she has provided a satisfying, nourishing, and gladsome feast (ver. 2). Not so Folly. In consistency with her parasitic nature, it is not her own goods that she creates and prepares, but she invites to the abuse or illicit enjoyment of the goods God has already bestowed. Wisdom sits as a princess in her rightful home; Folly is hardly more than at the door of her house, which is not described. 2. In the inducements presented. These are not the feasts themselves, but additional commendations setting forth their relative advantages. In the one case satisfying and nourishing viands are offered, whose result is life; in the other, the thing presented is pleasure, and that which is to give it is only spoken of in a mysterious, allusive way. It is the illicit and secret enjoyment that is the charm. But if the Queen of Sheba declared that "the half had not been told her" of the true wisdom, how much of the truth is kept back in the promises and fair speeches of Folly! Those who are once within her house are to all intents and purposes dead men, and are as if they were already "in the depths of Sheol!" (St. J. A. Frere, M.A.)
(3) II. But the DIFFERENCES are no less marked. 1. In the banquets themselves. Wisdom has built her grand, substantial palace or temple (ver. 1), in virtue of her share in creation (Proverbs 8:30), and she has provided a satisfying, nourishing, and gladsome feast (ver. 2). Not so Folly. In consistency with her parasitic nature, it is not her own goods that she creates and prepares, but she invites to the abuse or illicit enjoyment of the goods God has already bestowed. Wisdom sits as a princess in her rightful home; Folly is hardly more than at the door of her house, which is not described. 2. In the inducements presented. These are not the feasts themselves, but additional commendations setting forth their relative advantages. In the one case satisfying and nourishing viands are offered, whose result is life; in the other, the thing presented is pleasure, and that which is to give it is only spoken of in a mysterious, allusive way. It is the illicit and secret enjoyment that is the charm. But if the Queen of Sheba declared that "the half had not been told her" of the true wisdom, how much of the truth is kept back in the promises and fair speeches of Folly! Those who are once within her house are to all intents and purposes dead men, and are as if they were already "in the depths of Sheol!" (St. J. A. Frere, M.A.)
II. But the DIFFERENCES are no less marked.
(St. J. A. Frere, M.A.)
I. WHAT PERSON IS ALLUDED TO BY THE DESIGNATION OF "WISDOM"? (Proverbs 8:22-31). Here we have the eternity of Christ plainly set forth; His absolute Sovereignty saying, "By Me kings reign and princes decree justice." He also assures us of His love: "I love them that love Me, and those that seek Me early shall find Me." He also speaks of His extensive resources: "Riches and honour are with Me, yea durable riches and righteousness."
II. THE HOUSE WHICH WISDOM HAS BUILT.
1. An indestructible house. He formed, in the counsels of eternity, by unerring wisdom, a plan which no finite mind could have ever suggested, and which can admit of no improvement. We are thankful for a good plan, when we reflect that the permanence of a building is often, in some measure at least, dependent upon it. This building rests on the securest foundation — the three persons in the ever-blessed Trinity, the perfections of God, and the all-sufficient righteousness of the incarnate One. It reposes, not on the yielding sand of human merit or mortal workmanship, but on the Rock of Ages, which time cannot crumble or change. Not only is the foundation quite safe and immovable, but the superstructure is equally strong. In fact, it is perfectly invincible. "She hath hewn her seven pillars." Pillars are used as the supports and ornaments of buildings, and the number seven is the symbol of perfection. We take the seven pillars to denote perfect strength and beauty. We next observe that Wisdom's house affords perfect security to its inhabitants. It is a fortress, a strong tower, a house of defence, a castle of safety, to those who enjoy the privilege of dwelling in it.
2. A house of instruction. It is emphatically the house of Wisdom. A school where the best lessons are taught, in the best possible mode of teaching, and by the best of all teachers.
3. A banqueting house (ver. 2). The Church of the living God is a banqueting-hall in which we have the gospel feast prepared and exhibited for all who have a spiritual appetite; and the invitation is freely and earnestly given to all, for there is plenty of room and an abundance of provisions. The entertainment is in reality a feast upon a sacrifice, and what is that sacrifice on which all who wish may feast but the sacrifice of Christ, "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world"?
Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither.
I. To CHOOSE. The curse of men — and of young people especially — is that they drift into passions and habits before they know where they are. But it is a low and discreditable thing for men, old or young, that they should be the creatures and sport of the mere circumstances around them. All your life should have in it the deliberation and the resolve of a calm, settled choice. Here is the manliness of manhood, that a man has a reason for what he does, and has a will in doing it. Be the masters and lords of the circumstances in which you stand. There are two courses in life. There are but two. The two are utterly irreconcilable and discordant. You cannot have them both. Then be men, and choose.
II. CHOOSE WISDOM.
1. Look at these two personified claimants — Wisdom and Folly. Wisdom is closely connected with uprightness of heart. It is both an intellectual and a moral excellence. Wisdom has rectitude for an essential part of it, the fibre of its very being is righteousness and holiness. This wisdom is not only an attribute of the human soul. We rise to righteousness. If a man would be wise, it must be with a wisdom that was in God before it is in him. Our prayer should be, "In Thy wisdom make us wise." A further step has to be taken. Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. There, in that living person, is the highest embodiment of all wisdom. All which is not of God is the "foolish woman." All which does not inhere in Christ, and appeal to us through and from Him, is that clamorous and persistent voice which leads us all astray, if we listen to it. The world and sense — these are her grossest forms. But there are less offensive forms besetting us all.
III. CHOOSE NOW. Wisdom appeals to conscience. Folly appeals only to the sense of pleasure and the desire for its gratification. Both ask for your decision now. There is a strange tendency to put off decision. But it is an awful risk for a man to run. Every day that you live makes it less likely that you will choose. Every day that you live makes it harder for you to choose aright. Every day that you live takes away some of the power of resolving, and takes away some motive to resolve.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Come, eat of My bread.I. THE INVITATION. He who invites is the Son of God — in the Proverbs represented as "Wisdom." Of His generous invitation we remark —
1. That its acceptance is open to every human being on the face of the earth. The God of the gospel is no respecter of persons.
2. This invitation is urged with affectionate earnestness. How are men to be "compelled"? Not by coercion or legal enactments — not by bribery or the civil power — but by the mercies of God, and the gentleness of Christ.
3. There is such a character in the invitations of the gospel as leaves those inexcusable who reject them. Some excuse themselves on the ground that a self-denial which is beyond them is required, others on the ground of previous engagements. Speculations, worldliness, even domestic relationships, are pleaded as excuses.
II. INDUCEMENTS TO THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE INVITATION. What would be inducements to accept an invitation to a feast?
1. Rank of the person inviting. Who, then, is it invites to the feast of the gospel?
2. The guests whom you were to meet. This company is select. It is composed of the wise and the good of every name: all are on a level at the feast of salvation.
3. The occasion of the entertainment. This is intended to supply you with immortal food, and to feed you with the meat that endureth unto everlasting life.
4. The consequences that may result from a refusal. Refusing this, you risk the favour of God.
(J. R. Hibbard.)
I. THE SOUL'S DIET IS OF CHRIST'S PROVIDING. This was prefigured in the manna, and foreshadowed in the rock, that miraculously gave water to the people.
1. The Word is from Him which feeds the soul.
2. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, whereby we are fed, was of His institution, yea, of His own administration the first time.
3. He hath authority from heaven to find diet for souls.
4. None but He can provide wholesome diet.
II. MEN MUST COME WHERE CHRIST'S SPIRITUAL PROVISIONS ARE TO BE HAD.
1. We are invited to come, and it is discourtesy to refuse a friendly invitation.
2. We are commanded to come, and it is disobedience not to come.
3. The feast is prepared for us.
4. The benefits gotten by it may allure you to come for it.
III. WE MUST MAKE USE OF WISDOM'S PROVISION AS WELL AS COME. Coming to a feast doth no good if men be sullen, and will not eat or drink.
1. Our profitable use of God's ordinances is required.
2. We are informed beforehand to what end we are invited.
3. The gift of this undeserved favour should make us ready to receive it.
4. No good will come to us by this spiritual food if we feed not on it. They who feed well get much good to their souls.
(F. Taylor, B.D.)
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
The Christian Observer.True religion includes two particulars, called in Scripture ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well.
I. WHAT ARE THE TWO WAYS MENTIONED IN OUR TEXT — namely, the way of the foolish and the way of understanding?
1. And with regard to the character of the foolish — whom and whose ways we are to forsake — how different is the estimate of the Word of God from the current opinions of mankind! The world usually account that man foolish who does not make the things of this life, in one or other of its aspects, the great object of his desires. The covetous man thinks him foolish who neglects the pursuit of riches, or is not skilful in obtaining them; the man of pleasure, him who does not endeavour to secure ease and amusement; the ambitious man, him who does not attain worldly honours. But, in the estimate of Scripture, though we had the worldly wisdom of each or all these classes of persons, and had not something infinitely above it, we should be numbered among the foolish. The rich man spoken of by our Lord, whose ground brought forth plentifully, was accounted a fool And why? Because he was laying up treasures for himself upon earth, and was not rich towards God; because he disregarded the great end and object of his being; because he made no preparation for death. In short, sin of every kind — irreligion, disobedience to God, and carelessness respecting our immortal interests — is called in Scripture foolishness. And can any folly be greater than sporting, as it were, upon the brink of eternity; calling down upon us the anger of our Almighty Creator; rejecting the means which He has provided for our pardon and reconciliation, or perverting the gospel of His mercy to our own destruction?
2. Such being the way of the foolish, we may easily infer what is the way of understanding. "Behold," said Job, "the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." "The knowledge of the Holy," says Solomon, in the chapter from which our text is taken, "is understanding"; and "a good understanding," says the psalmist, "have all they who do His commandments."
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF FORSAKING THE ONE AND GOING IN THE OTHER. "Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding."
1. And let us inquire why we must forsake the foolish, ungodly companions, ungodly practices, ungodly thoughts, ungodly books, everything that is ungodly. It might be sufficient to satisfy our reason to answer, that our Creator has commanded us to forsake them. But, in addition, He is pleased to appeal to our hopes and fears, by promises and threatenings. "Forsake the foolish, and live"; implying that the ways of the foolish are ways of death. Shall we not, then, forsake so dangerous a path, a path beset with thorns and snares.
2. But, in addition to the command to forsake the foolish, our text adds, "And go in the way of understanding." These two duties are indeed inseparable; for the first step out of the path of destruction is a step in the path of life; yet it is important that each should be particularly noticed, because we are too apt to content ourselves with a few feeble advances, a few superficial attainments in religion, as if the victory were complete when we are but girding on our armour for the warfare. It is not enough that we have learned that the ways of sin are ways of bitterness and folly; we must, in addition, learn what is the way of understanding: we must walk in the paths of righteousness. And infinitely important is it that we should go in this way of understanding; for by no other path can we arrive at the kingdom of heaven. The language of the text shows us that religion involves active and zealous exertion. There is one path to be forsaken, and another to be discovered and pursued. To forsake means more than careless indifference, or partial reformation, or a temporary suspension of our evil habits. It is a fixed and determined resolution.
(The Christian Observer.)
Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee.
(W. Arnot, D. D.)
I. AS INJURIOUSLY ADMINISTERED. A scorner is a man distinguished by self-ignorance, audacity, callousness, vanity, and irreverence. His grand aim is, by little sallies of wit and ridicule to raise the laugh against his superiors. To reprove these is injurious. It does them no service, but it brings pain to yourself. There are men beyond the reach of elevating influences, and it is worse than waste of labour to endeavour improving them.
II. As USEFULLY ADMINISTERED.
1. By rebuking a wise man you enlist his affection. Every true man will feel grateful for wise counsels.
2. By instructing a wise man you render him a benefit. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser.
(David Thomas, D.D.)
(H. G. Salter.)
(R. F. Horton, D.D.)
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser.
Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.It is an infallible mark of true wisdom, to profit by instruction.
I. TAKE A MORE ACCURATE VIEW OF THE WISE MAN; AND INQUIRE WHO IT IS THAT MAY BE TAKEN FOR SUCH.
1. He who proposes to himself some end in what he does, and pursues that end in a rational and dexterous manner.
2. A truly wise man is the same as a good man.
3. He who to his resolution to make the attainment of moral goodness the great object of his existence adds a fixed and unalterable determination to pursue this according to Divine direction.
II. INSTRUCTION MAY BE GIVEN EVEN TO THE ADVANTAGE OF THE WISE.
1. No truly wise man will account it impossible to make accessions to his wisdom.
2. Every wise man, whatever be the nature of his wisdom, will wish it to be increased as much as possible.
3. Whenever instruction is given to him which is adapted to his character and circumstances he will account himself happy in having it, and will be the better for it.
III. WHEN INSTRUCTION IS GIVEN TO A WISE MAN, HE WILL YET BE WISER.
1. He will endeavour to find out the motive of the person giving it.
2. He will consider the nature and tendency of the instruction or advise given.
3. He will pray that God may give him to see what is most valuable, and that He may influence his heart to profit by what is good.
(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
I. A JUST CONCEPTION OF GOD, OF HIS EXCELLENCES AND PERFECTIONS, IS THE TRUE FOUNDATION OF RELIGION. Fear is not a voluntary passion. We cannot be afraid or not afraid of things just as we please. We fear any being in proportion to the power and will which we conceive that being to have either to hurt or to protect us. The different kinds of fear are no otherwise distinguishable from one another than by considering the different conceptions or ideas of the things feared. The fear of a tyrant and the fear of a father are very different passions; but he that knows not the difference between a tyrant and a father will never be able to distinguish these passions. A right and due fear of God presupposes a right and due conception of God. If men misconceive concerning God, either as to His holiness and purity, or to His justice and mercy, their fear of Him will not produce wisdom. The proposition of the text is equivalent to this — a just notion and conception of God is the beginning of wisdom. We experience in ourselves different kinds and degrees of fear, which have very different effects and operations. The fear of the Lord is not an abject, slavish fear; since God is no tyrant. The properties of religious fear, as mentioned in Scripture, are various. It is clean. It is to hate evil. It is a fountain of life. In it is strong confidence. The fear of God signifies that frame and affection of soul which is the consequence of a just notion and conception of the Deity. It is called the fear of God because, as majesty and power are the principal parts of the idea of God, so fear and reverence are the main ingredients in the affection that arises from it. It follows that none should be void of the fear of God, but those who only want right notions of God.
II. THE JUST CONCEPTION OF GOD IS THE RIGHT RULE TO FORM OUR JUDGMENTS BY, IN ALL PARTICULAR MATTERS OF RELIGION. Wisdom here means true religion. There is religion which is folly and superstition, that better suits with any other name than that of wisdom. If the fear of God only in a general way shows us the necessity of religion, and leaves us to take our chance in the great variety of forms and institutions that are to be found in the world, it may be our hap to learn folly as well as wisdom, upon the instigation of this principle. But the fear of God further teaches us wherein true religion consists. In natural religion this is evidently the case, because in that state there is no pretence to any other rule that can come into competition with this. It is from the notion of a God that men come to have any sense of religion. When we consider God as lord and governor of the world, we soon perceive ourselves to be in subjection, and that we stand obliged, both in interest and duty, to pay obedience to the Supreme. Take from the notion of God any of the moral perfections that belong to it, and you will find such alteration must influence religion likewise, which will degenerate in the same proportion as the notion of God is corrupted. The superstitious man, viewing God through the false perspectives of fear and suspicion, loses sight of His goodness, and sees only a dreadful spectre made up of anger and revenge. Hence religion becomes his torment. That only is true religion which is agreeable to the nature of God. Natural religion is the foundation upon which revelation stands, and therefore revelation can never supersede natural religion without destroying itself. The difference between these two is this: in natural religion nothing can be admitted that may not be proved and deduced from our natural notions. Everything must be admitted for some reason. But revelation introduces a new reason, the will of God, which has, and ought to have, the authority of a law with us. As God has authority to make laws, He may add to our duty and obligations as He sees fit. It is not therefore necessary that all parts of a revelation should be proved by natural reason: it is sufficient that they do not contradict it; for the will of God is a sufficient reason for our submission. The essentials of religion, even under revelation, must be tried and judged by the same principle. No revelation can dispense with virtue and holiness. All such doctrines and all such rites and ceremonies as tend to subvert true goodness and holiness are not of God's teaching or introducing. The way to keep ourselves stedfastly in the purity of the gospel is to keep our eye constantly on this rule. Could enthusiasm, or destructive zeal, ever have grown out of the gospel had men compared their practices with the natural sense they have of God? Could religion ever have degenerated into folly and superstition had the true notions of God been preserved, and all religious actions been examined in the light of them? Some, taking religion to be what it appears to be, reject all religion. Could men have judged thus perversely had they attended to the true rule, and formed their notions of religion from the nature and wisdom of God, and not from the follies and extravagances of men? How can the folly and perverseness of others affect your duty to God? How came you absolved from all religion, because others have corrupted theirs? Does the error or ignorance of others destroy the relation between you and God, and make it reasonable for you to throw off all obedience? The fear of God will teach you another sort of wisdom.
(Thomas Sherlock, D. D.)
I. THIS PRINCIPLE WILL PREPARE YOU FOR DISCHARGING IN AN ACCEPTABLE MANNER THE DUTIES WHICH YOU OWE MORE IMMEDIATELY TO YOUR MAKER. It is the fear of the Lord alone that can inspire and animate your devotions. The sense of His glorious presence will inspire a higher tone of adoration, will give a deeper humility to your confessions, and add a double fervour to your prayers.
II. THIS PRINCIPLE WILL HAVE A MOST SALUTARY INFLUENCE ON THE WHOLE TENOR OF YOUR CONDUCT. The dictates of reason and conscience, considered as the commands of God, acquire thereby the force of a law; the authority of the lawgiver is respected, and it becomes a powerful motive to obedience.
III. BUT WILL NOT THIS YEAR OF THE LORD ABRIDGE THE HAPPINESS OF LIFE? The impression that we act continually under the inspection of an Omniscient Judge — will it not impose a restraint on our conduct? Will it not check the gaiety of our hearts and diffuse a gloom over the whole of our existence? If, indeed, the Almighty were a capricious tyrant, who delighted in the miseries of His creatures, if the fear of the Lord were that servile principle which haunts the minds of the superstitious, then you might complain, with justice, that the yoke of religion was severe. But it is a service of a more liberal kind which the Ruler of the world requires. It is a restraint to which, independently of religion, prudence would admonish you to submit. It is not a restraint from any innocent enjoyment, but from misery and infamy and guilt.
(W. Moodie, D. D.)
I. WHAT IS "THE FEAR OF THE LORD"?
1. The right knowledge of Him in what He is —
(1) (2) (3) 2. And, consequent upon this — (1) (2) (3) (4) II. THIS IS TRUE WISDOM, which means here the knowledge of Divine things, rightly used. When we fear the Lord we are wise, because — 1. The heart is then taught by the Holy Ghost. 2. We set a right value on things temporal and eternal. 4. We seek to know and carefully follow His holy will (Ephesians 5:17). 5. We walk in a sure path of peace and safety (chap. Proverbs 3:17). III. BUT OUR TEXT STATES THAT THIS FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM. 1. It is at the root of all true wisdom; for we are never truly wise till we begin here, and only then do we know how to deal rightly with all things. 2. It is only reasonable then, and our solemn and bounden duty, to teach our children these blessed things early. 3. And God has confirmed the truth of the text by making this thoroughly practicable. Mark how the relations and circumstances of a child prepare it for learning: What God is as a Father. What Christ is as a Saviour. What the Holy Ghost is as a Teacher. Also what repentance, faith, obedience, etc., are, and the opposite of all these. Note the parables of Scripture. 4. And the Holy Ghost can reach a child's heart; hence the parent's encouragement to pray, and to use teaching in faith and perseverance. (C. J. Goodhart, M.A.)
(2) (3) 2. And, consequent upon this — (1) (2) (3) (4) II. THIS IS TRUE WISDOM, which means here the knowledge of Divine things, rightly used. When we fear the Lord we are wise, because — 1. The heart is then taught by the Holy Ghost. 2. We set a right value on things temporal and eternal. 4. We seek to know and carefully follow His holy will (Ephesians 5:17). 5. We walk in a sure path of peace and safety (chap. Proverbs 3:17). III. BUT OUR TEXT STATES THAT THIS FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM. 1. It is at the root of all true wisdom; for we are never truly wise till we begin here, and only then do we know how to deal rightly with all things. 2. It is only reasonable then, and our solemn and bounden duty, to teach our children these blessed things early. 3. And God has confirmed the truth of the text by making this thoroughly practicable. Mark how the relations and circumstances of a child prepare it for learning: What God is as a Father. What Christ is as a Saviour. What the Holy Ghost is as a Teacher. Also what repentance, faith, obedience, etc., are, and the opposite of all these. Note the parables of Scripture. 4. And the Holy Ghost can reach a child's heart; hence the parent's encouragement to pray, and to use teaching in faith and perseverance. (C. J. Goodhart, M.A.)
(3) 2. And, consequent upon this — (1) (2) (3) (4) II. THIS IS TRUE WISDOM, which means here the knowledge of Divine things, rightly used. When we fear the Lord we are wise, because — 1. The heart is then taught by the Holy Ghost. 2. We set a right value on things temporal and eternal. 4. We seek to know and carefully follow His holy will (Ephesians 5:17). 5. We walk in a sure path of peace and safety (chap. Proverbs 3:17). III. BUT OUR TEXT STATES THAT THIS FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM. 1. It is at the root of all true wisdom; for we are never truly wise till we begin here, and only then do we know how to deal rightly with all things. 2. It is only reasonable then, and our solemn and bounden duty, to teach our children these blessed things early. 3. And God has confirmed the truth of the text by making this thoroughly practicable. Mark how the relations and circumstances of a child prepare it for learning: What God is as a Father. What Christ is as a Saviour. What the Holy Ghost is as a Teacher. Also what repentance, faith, obedience, etc., are, and the opposite of all these. Note the parables of Scripture. 4. And the Holy Ghost can reach a child's heart; hence the parent's encouragement to pray, and to use teaching in faith and perseverance. (C. J. Goodhart, M.A.)
2. And, consequent upon this —
1. The heart is then taught by the Holy Ghost. 2. We set a right value on things temporal and eternal. 4. We seek to know and carefully follow His holy will (Ephesians 5:17). 5. We walk in a sure path of peace and safety (chap. Proverbs 3:17). III. BUT OUR TEXT STATES THAT THIS FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM. (C. J. Goodhart, M.A.)
1. The heart is then taught by the Holy Ghost.
2. We set a right value on things temporal and eternal.
4. We seek to know and carefully follow His holy will (Ephesians 5:17).
5. We walk in a sure path of peace and safety (chap. Proverbs 3:17).
III. BUT OUR TEXT STATES THAT THIS FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM.
(C. J. Goodhart, M.A.)
I. ON THE CONDUCT. God has not planted in us passions, affections, and appetites, to grow up wild as accident directs, but to be diligently superintended, weeded, and pruned, and each confined to its proper bounds. It would both be unjust and unwise to reject the smallest inducement to any part of goodness; for we greatly need every one that we can have. But it is extremely requisite to observe where our chief security lies, and place our chief trust there. The reasonableness, the dignity, the beauty of virtue are doubtless natural, and ought to be strong recommendations of it. No motive, however, is at all times sufficient, excepting only the fear of God, taught as the truth is in Jesus. This is one unchangeable motive, level to the apprehension of every person, extending to the practice of every duty, including at once every moral disposition of heart and every prudent regard to our own good. The fear of God can pierce the inmost recesses of our minds and search the rightness of our most secret desires. Reverence of God's authority will make us fear to injure the meanest of our fellow-creatures, and hope of sharing in His bounty will teach us to imitate it by the tenderest exercise of humanity and compassion.
II. WHAT EFFECT THE FEAR OF GOD MUST HAVE ON THE ENJOYMENT OF OUR LIVES. It will make bad people uneasy. It restrains persons from dissolute pleasures. It gives a peculiar seriousness and awe to the minds of men. It moderates the liveliness of over-gay dispositions. As to the sufferings of life, religion prevents many and diminishes the rest. True religion being of such importance, there are some things which may justly be expected of mankind in its favour.
1. That they who have not yet carefully searched into the grounds of it should not take upon them to treat it with scorn or even disregard.
2. It may be expected also that they who profess to examine should do it fairly.
3. They who are so happy as to believe should secure and complete their happiness by what alone can do it — a suitable behaviour. On all accounts, therefore, it is our most important concern to cultivate and express the affections of piety, which are indeed the noblest movements of our souls towards the worthiest object, towards the attainment of the most blessed end.
For by Me thy days shall be multiplied.
I. THE PRACTISE OF RELIGION IS, IN GENERAL, MAN'S TRUEST WISDOM. The whole tenor of Scripture concurs in setting forth the wisdom of being virtuous and religious. Compare with the wisdom in understanding the arts and sciences. Wisdom of men in being able to overreach and defraud each other; wisdom of political skill; wisdom in words and artful representations of things; wisdom in searching out the secrets of nature. The only wisdom that all men are capable of, and that all men are indispensably obliged to attain, is the practical wisdom of being truly religious.
II. THE PRACTISE OF RELIGION TENDS TO PROLONG OUR LIFE AND LENGTHEN OUR DAYS. Promises of health and life are frequent in the Old Testament. See the fifth commandment with promise. There are threatenings of the wicked in the Old Testament, which declare their days shall be shortened. In the nature of things men destroy themselves and shorten their days by many kinds of wickedness. According to the same natural order and tendency of things, by peace and charity men are preserved from destruction; by temperance their bodies are maintained in health; by quiet of conscience and satisfaction of mind is a new life added to their spirits. In the positive appointment and constitution of Providence there was yet more assurance of the doctrine. The temporal promises of the Old Testament cannot now be applied with any certainty under the New, where eternal life is so much more clearly revealed.
III. HOW IS THIS BLESSING TO BE DESIRED BY CHRISTIANS UNDER THE GOSPEL STATE. The gospel gives a mean notion of the present life and glorious representation of the happiness of that to come, so that a devout man may wish to be delivered from the miseries of this sinful world. But the best men need prolonged lives on earth for their own amendment and improvement; and if not for their own, for the sake of others. It may also be reminded that duties are entrusted to us, and we must not shirk them. And the longest life here is but a moment in comparison of eternity. We ought to make it the main care of our lives to secure our eternal happiness hereafter; only then do length of days become a blessing.
(S. Clarke, D. D.)
I. THE CRITERION OF WISDOM. If a man be wise at all, he is wise for himself. The prime object of every class of society is the advancing its own interests. Men are set down as wise chiefly in proportion as practical results shall prove them to have been wise for themselves. Nevertheless, unless the wisdom have a heavenly character it cannot in any degree render the possessor truly wise for himself. If I be wise for myself I must be wise by making provision for the vast expansion of my being, and not by limiting attention to that period which is nothing but its outset. He cannot be wise for himself who dishonours himself, who degrades himself, who destroys himself. Can a man be pronounced to have been wise for himself before whose tomb a nation may be burning its incense of gratitude for his discoveries, whilst his spirit is brooding in darkness, and silence, and anguish over the vast infatuation which caused God to be forgotten whilst science is pursued? A man may be wise in all that the world calls wisdom, and yet in no sense wise for himself. Unless a man has been wise for eternity he has not been wise for himself. Only that wisdom which is from above, the wisdom which consists in knowing God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, can make a man truly wise.
II. THE ADVANTAGE OF POSSESSING THIS WISDOM IS ALTOGETHER PERSONAL. So far as the present life is concerned the consequences of the possession or non-possession of wisdom are not confined to the individual himself. The words of Solomon had respect to the future rather than to the present. The future consequences are altogether personal. From this flows the final woe of the impenitent. A terrible punishment is solitary confinement. There may be solitariness in hell. "Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men."
(H. Melvill, B.D.)
I. THE DECIDED SUBJECTION OF THE HEART TO GOD IS THE ONLY TRUE WISDOM. It is wisdom in the abstract. It is wisdom contrasted with every other acquisition. By religion is meant faith in Jesus Christ. Religion is a vague tern which may be applied to that which is true, that which is false, and that which is formal. I mean by it, that faith in Jesus Christ which is the entire submission of the heart to Him, and a practical devotedness of the life to His service. This is not only wisdom in the abstract, but wisdom of a peculiar, personal, individual importance.
II. HE WHO ACCOMPLISHES THIS IS AN INFINITE GAINER.
1. He gains the possession of the elements of present happiness. H the possession of a truly religious character does not in its own nature exempt an individual from the calamities of life, it does what is, on the whole, far more effectual and more elevating to his character — it enables him to bear them.
2. He gains the prospect of a saved eternity. The truly converted man is the only being on the face of the earth who has a rational hold upon the blessedness of heaven.
III. HE WHO SCORNS RELIGION IS AN INFINITE LOSER. To scorn is to despise religion; to scoff at, to ridicule, to reject, to neglect it. He who will not repent is a scorner. He who puts off the concerns of religion is a scorner. He who is self-righteous is a scorner. Whatever the scorner is to bear, he is to bear alone.
1. He is to bear his own sins. The Christian's sins have been borne by the Saviour in whom he trusts. The scorner has relinquished all claims upon the precious Saviour and His promises; he consents to bear the weight of his own sin.
2. He has to bear the weight of his own sorrows. The scorner throws by the precious balm of Gilead. He may take the miserable comfort of bending to the stroke of necessity, but it is a satisfaction filled with secret repinings and sorrows of the heart.
3. Look at this matter in relation to eternity. The scorner will bear the scorn of heaven and of hell.
4. The scorner will bear his own eternal self-reproaches. If there is any one thing on earth more difficult to endure than another, it is the accusation of a man's own conscience. The mental anguish of consciously-deserved distress is intolerable.
(G. T. Bedell, D.D.)
But if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear itI. THE BENEFIT WHICH ENSUES FROM HEARKENING TO GOOD COUNSEL.
1. The title or denomination of a tractable person. He is a "wise man." It is a part of wisdom for a man to suspect his own wisdom, and to think that it is possible for him to deceive himself. It is a part of wisdom to discern between good and evil — to know what is to be left and what is to be embraced. It is a part of wisdom to know one's best friends, and to give them all encouragement of being further friendly to us by hearkening to their counsel.
2. The benefit that accrues unto this wise man. He is wise unto himself. This wisdom redounds to a man's own furtherance and account. He is much better for it every way. Wise for thyself — in thy inward man; in thine outward man, thy body and estate; in thy relations: there is no better way of providing for those who belong to thee than by labouring to walk in good ways. No man serves God in vain. This is true for this life and for the life to come. God bestows graces and rewards them. God has involved our own good in His glory, so that while we endeavour to promote the one we advance the other. We are no further wise ourselves than we are wise for our own souls.
II. THE INCONVENIENCE OF THE NEGLECT OF GOOD COUNSEL. The simple inconvenience: "Bear his scorning." Scorners are such as have but mean thoughts of religion. Such as decline it for themselves. Such as deride and scoff at it. The grounds of scorning are unbelief, pride and self-conceitedness, thraldom and addiction to any particular lust. Scorning is surely followed by punishment, and in the expression "thou shalt bear it" is indicated the indefiniteness, the universality, and the unavoidableness of the punishment. Scorners persist in sin, and thus aggravate it so much the more to themselves. Scorners undervalue the kindness of reproof, and slight the motions of God's Spirit in them. Beware, then, of the sin of scorning!
(T. Horton D. D.)
I. OUR WISDOM PROFITS NOT JESUS CHRIST, NOR DOTH OUR SCORNING HURT HIM. Because no man can make God wiser, holier, or happier. He is above all scorns. He needs not our approbation. He can raise up others that shall honour Him more than we can dishonour Him.
II. OUR WISDOM MAY PROFIT OURSELVES. It may make men happy.
1. It brings profit to us in regard of our credit. All states reverence and prefer wise men.
2. In regard of means. Wise men ordinarily thrive in all trades.
3. It is profitable to the body and preserveth life.
4. It is profitable to the soul. It preserveth it from destruction.
III. OUR SCORNING HURTS OURSELVES.
1. Because it frustrates the means of our salvation. Who will regard that word which he scorns?
2. It gives God just cause of our condemnation. No man will endure his word should be scorned, much less will God.
(F. Taylor, B.D.)
I. IF THOU BE NO COMPLIER WITH THE GOSPEL CALL THOU ART A SCORNER OF IT: there is no middle course. Thou art not a complier with the gospel-call as long as —
1. Thou entertainest any prejudice against religion and wilt not come to Christ.
2. Thou art in a doubt whether to come or not, or delayest and putteth off.
3. If thou dost come, but dost not turn from thy sins unto God in Christ sincerely, thoroughly, and universally, thou dost not comply. By not complying with the gospel-call thou abusest the mercy, goodness, and patience of God. Thou lookest on the gospel-call as a trifling, inconsiderable thing. Thou exposest it to shame and dishonour. Thou failest of thy fair promises. Thou makest thyself merry with thy disobedience to this call. Is not that scorning?
II. IF THOU COMPLY WITH THE GOSPEL-CALL THOU SHALT THEREIN ACT WISELY FOR THYSELF. The profit descends to themselves; it does not ascend to God. To confirm this, consider —
1. God is infinite in perfections, self-sufficient, and therefore the creatures can add nothing to Him.
2. All the goodness and profitableness of men or angels, or any creatures, can add nothing to Him. But by complying thou shalt advance thine own interest.
A foolish woman is clamorous.
For she sitteth at the door of her house.
Homilist.I. AS CONDUCTED BY DEPRAVED WOMAN. A foolish woman is here the emblem of wickedness in the world.
1. She is ignorant. Blind to spiritual realities and claims. She is in the kingdom of darkness.
2. She is clamorous. Full of noise and excitement; bearing down all objections to her entreaties.
3. She is audacious. Modesty, which is the glory of a woman's nature, has left her.
4. She is persuasive. She admits that her pleasures are wrong, and on that account more delectable.
II. AS DIRECTED TO THE INEXPERIENCED IN LIFE. To whom does she especially direct her entreaties? Not to the mature saint stalwart in virtue. She calls "passengers," the "simple ones."
III. AS TENDING TO A MOST MISERABLE DESTINATION. The ministry of temptation is very successful as conducted by depraved woman.
1. This woman obtained guests.
2. Her guests were ruined.
3. Her guests were ruined contrary to their intention.
(W. Arnot, D. D.)
To call passengers who go right on their ways.
I. WHAT THEIR REAL CHARACTER IS. "Passengers that go right on their ways"; that have been trained up in the paths of religion and virtue, and set out very hopefully and well; that seemed determined and designed for good, and are not (as that young man in Proverbs 7:8) "going the way to her house." Such as these she has a design upon, and lays snares for, and uses all her arts, all her charms, to pervert them; if they go right on, and will not look toward her, she will call after them, so urgent are these temptations.
II. HOW THE FOOLISH WOMAN REPRESENTS THEM. She calls them "simple" and "wanting understanding," and therefore courts them to her school, that they may be cured of the restraints and formalities of their religion. This is the method of the stage, where the sober young man that has been virtuously educated is the fool in the play, and the plot is to make him seven times more a child of hell than his profane companions, under colour of polishing and refining him, and setting him up for a wit and a beau. What is justly charged upon sin and impiety (ver. 4) that it is folly, is here very unjustly retorted upon the ways of virtue; but the day will declare who are the fools.
( Matthew Henry.)
But he knoweth not that the dead are there.scriotum est. The text of the other is the word of eternal truth. We are here presented with a banquet. The inviter is a degenerate woman, representing sin — such as ambition, pride, engrossing, bribery, faction, riot, oppression. The cheer is presented in several dishes — waters, stolen, secret; bread, eaten in secret, pleasant. Sins may be in some sense likened to waters.
1. Water is an enemy to digestion.
2. Water dulls the brain.
3. Grace is compared to fire, gracelessness to water.
4. Water is a baser element, as it were, sophisticate with transfusion.
5. Physicians say that water is a binder.On the other hand —(1) Waters mundify and cleanse; but these soil and infect.(2) Waters quench the thirst, and cool the heat of the body; but these rather fire the heart and inflame the affections.(3) We say of water, "It is a good servant, though an ill master"; but we cannot apply this to sin. It is not good at all; indeed, less ill when it serves than when it reigns. The nature of these waters is not more pernicious than their number is numerous. The first course of these waters are such sins as more immediately rob God. Atheism is the highest theft against God, because it would steal from Him, not His goods, but Himself. Heresy soon tickles the brain, and makes a man drunk. This sin robs God of His truth. Sacrilege robs God of His goods. Faction robs God of His order and peace. Profaneness robs God of His glory. The second sort of stolen waters are those sins which mediately rob God, immediately our brethren, depriving them of some comfort or right which the inviolable law of God hath interested them to — such as irreverence, murder, adultery, thievery, slander, flattery. The third sort of stolen waters — sins which immediately rob ourselves — such as pride, epicurism, idleness, envy, drunkenness, covetousness. Stolen — in this consists the approbation of their sweetness, that they come by stealth, and are compassed by dangerous and forbidden pains. A second argument of their sweetness is their cheapness. What a man gets by robbery comes without cost. A third argument is derived from our corrupt affections. Sin pleaseth the flesh. The other service at this banquet is bread; bread of secrecies, bread of pleasure. Bread implies much health, great comforts, fulness of all requisite good things. Since the devil will put the form of bread upon his tempting wickedness, let us examine what kind of bread it is. The seed is corruption; the influences that ripen the seed are temptations; when ripe it is cut down by the sickle of the devil's subtlety; it is threshed out with the flail of his strength; the flood of concupiscence drives the mill that grinds it. The mill consists of two stones — pleasure and profit. The leaven is the colourable and fallacious arguments that persuade the sweetness of this bread. The oven that bakes it is our own evil affections. It is called" bread of secrecy." Unjust things love privacy. But God sees. Satan's guests unhappily come from the end of a feast to the beginning of a fray. All sinful joys are dammed up with a "but." The devil does but cozen the wicked with his cates. The punishments of the wicked are most usually in the like; proper and proportional to their offences. The perdition that follows the feast of sin destroys a man in his goods, in his good name, in his health, in his soul. The tempted are called the dead. There are three kinds of death — corporal, spiritual, eternal. Corporal, when the body leaves this life spiritual, when the soul forsakes and is forsaken of grace; eternal, when both shall be thrown into hell. The text has also the attempted, the new guest whom sin strives to bring in to the rest. He is described by his ignorance: "Knoweth not." Five kinds of ignorance: human, natural, affected, invincible, proud. The place of the banquet is the "depths of hell." This amplifies the misery of the guests in three circumstances.
1. Their weakness: they are soon in.
2. The place: hell.
3. The unrecoverableness of it: the depth of hell.By hell is meant the deep bondage of wicked souls, Satan having by sin a full dominion over their consciences.
Her guests are in the depths of hell.