Thus said the LORD, Stand you in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein…
Novelty is a term which, when applied to man, always involves a degree of previous ignorance. The astronomer finds out new stars, the botanist new plants, the linguist new tongues, the geometrician new modes of proof and illustration, the politician new laws, the geographer new islands, the navigator new creeks, anchorages and havens, the tradesman new articles of commerce, the artificer and mechanic new methods of accomplishing the work of their hands. Each successive generation, in a civilised country especially, makes advancement on the experiments of the former. In religious matters, however, it is different. We am to expect no new Bible, no new ordinances, no new Messiah, no new discoveries in the substance of truth and piety, any more than we look for a new sun, moon, and seasons, in the institutions of nature. We allow, indeed, that in ourselves, as we pass from a state of unregeneracy to that of renewal, "old things pass away, and all things become new"; that in the progress of sanctification, there is a succession of discoveries, as we grow in knowledge and grace; that in the pursuit of schemes of usefulness, new modes of operation may be struck out; but as to all the rest, it is established by the Great Head of the Church to be subjected to no alteration until the time of the restitution of all things, when there shall be a "new heaven and earth," etc.
I. TRACE THE GOOD OLD WAY.
1. There is the way of theory. This will be found in its grand and essential elements in the Word of truth; for this is the chart or map in which the path is laid down in which the pious have walked from the beginning.
2. There is the way of experience, or the application of these truths to the mind by such an influence and in such a way as to render them living principles of activity and enjoyment. Repentance for sin, dependence, devotion, etc.
3. There is the way of practice; and this with regard to God and our fellow creatures.
II. SHOW WHAT IS YOUR DUTY WITH RESPECT TO THE PATH WHICH HAS BEEN DESCRIBED.
1. Primarily, to institute a serious, a deliberate and cautious inquiry, that you may ascertain whether you are in the right way. One grand reason why many who profess to make the inquiry "What is truth?" do not succeed, is, that they indulge in a light, trifling temper of mind, quite unsuited to the character of their avowed engagement, and highly offensive to God.
2. Steadily pursue the path you have ascertained to be right. Aim to be established, strengthened, settled on your most holy faith, and guard against that versatility which will be an effective preventive to sanctification, comfort, and usefulness. With walking we always connect the idea, not of habit only, but of progress. Your knowledge, your sacred virtues, your practical obedience should be always on the advance.Conclusion —
1. The lamentable consequences of a refusal to walk in this way.
2. The inestimable advantages of walking in the good old way.
Parallel VersesKJV: Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.