These are what defile a man, but eating with unwashed hands does not defile him."
I. THE BLIND LOOK FOR LEADERS. The consciousness of inability and the confession of it may not be recognized by superficial observers, because a certain surface pride tries to veil the deep diffidence and the yearning hunger for guidance that really inhabit the souls of men. The blindness of the multitudes that "knew not the Law" was but a shadow of the blindness of mankind generally. Ignorant of God, unable to comprehend itself, lost in the wilderness of thought, the mind of man seems to be eyeless, or at best dim-sighted and confused in its attempt to grasp spiritual truth.
II. THE BLIND MAY BE DECEIVED IN THEIR LEADERS. Their very blindness puts them under a disadvantage in judging of the worth of those who offer to guide them. Sounding words are no proofs of clear vision. Yet too often teachers have been accepted on their own terms and accredited by their self-assertions. Nevertheless, when one who sees arrives, it is possible for him and others to detect a mistake. The common people who heard Jesus gladly quickly perceived that his teaching had an authority which that of the scribes lacked.
III. THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE LEADERS OF THE BLIND IS MOST SERIOUS. They are trusted men, and in proportion to their acceptance of confidence will be their responsibility. If they fail to carry out their promises their charges will suffer. But they too will fall into trouble. Men cannot guide others wrongly without going wrong themselves. Their fatal mistake is to pretend to be leaders of souls while they themselves are benighted, for it is possible to refuse the responsible function and to take the lower and humbler place of the blind who need guidance.
IV. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT THAT RELIGIOUS TEACHERS SHOULD KNOW THE TRUTH THEY ARE CALLED UPON TO TEACH. This idea is so obvious that it seems to be a waste of words to state it. Yet it is constantly ignored.
1. Special training is needed. In the present day the air is laden with questions concerning the foundations of the faith, and no one is fit to be a teacher of others who is not prepared to meet those questions. Though some of them may not be readily answered, at least the teacher must know how to give some guidance to the inquirer in his perplexity.
2. Divine light is needed. It is not enough for the teacher to have been trained in theological studies. These may have left him in a midnight darkness; and they will do so if he has not opened his soul to the light of God.
V. THE ONLY SAFE GUIDE IS JESUS CHRIST. He has clear vision, and he leads surely through all difficulties. We lean on the teaching of ignorant men when we might go straight to the teaching of Christ. With the Light of the world shining upon our path, we should be able to see, and yet this will not be possible if we are blind. Now, it is the great work of Christ not merely to guide the blind, but to give them sight, so that they may see their way and follow him by their own vision of truth. - W.F.A.
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.I. WHEN MAY YOUR THOUGHTS BE COUNTED VOLUNTARY, AND WE BE TRULY AND JUSTLY ANSWERABLE FOR THEN?
1. When evil thoughts are plainly occasioned by anything that was voluntary in us, then they are to be accounted voluntary and sinful.
2. When evil thoughts proceed from gross, supine negligence and carelessness, then we are accountable for them; when we keep no guard at all over our minds and fancies, but give them free liberty wildly to rove and ramble.
3. Though evil thoughts may be involuntary at the first starting of them, being occasioned by what we could not avoid hearing and seeing, or coming upon us unawares, or proceeding from the temper and habit of our bodies, or the accidental impulses and motions of the animal spirits in our brains, which are the most immediate instruments the soul uses in her operations; though thus the first rise of evil thoughts may be involuntary., yet if we with pleasure entertain and cherish them, if our fancies are tickled by them, if they are delightful and grateful to us, this implies the consent of our wills. They then become greatly sinful to us.
II. THE NATURE AND KINDS OF EVIL THOUGHTS.(a) Especially dwell on the representing and acting over sins in our minds and thoughts; when we erect a stage in our fancies, and on it with strange complacence, imagine those satisfactions and filthinesses which we have not opportunity to bring into outward act.
1. Consider these lewd imaginations as to the present time. There is no sin or wickedness so vile and heinous but a man may become truly guilty of it in the sight of God only by imagining it done in his mind, and taking pleasure in such a thought.
2. As to what is past, there is reciting and repeating over those sins in our thoughts and fancies, which we had long before committed, and, perhaps, as to the external acts, quite forsaken.
3. With respect to the time to come, the speculative wickedness of men's fancies and imaginations shows itself in the wild and extravagant suppositions they make to themselves, feigning themselves to be what they would fain be, and then imagining in their minds what in such circumstances they would do.(b) Dwell on unworthy, atheistical, profane, desperate thoughts of (led Almighty.(c) Thinkings that become evil because of the seasons of them.(d) Envious, malicious, fretting thoughts.(e) Troublesome, anxious thoughts of future events.(f) Haughty, proud, admiring thoughts of ourselves.
III. PRACTICAL RULES FOR THE RIGHT GOVERNMENT OF OUR THOUGHTS.
1. If they proceed from the hearts, then we must look after them.
2. Consider what care and art wicked men use to prevent good thoughts, and let us use the same diligence and endeavours to hinder evil and wicked thoughts and motions.
3. Avoid idleness.
4. Live under the due awe of God's continual presence with us.
5. Serious devotion, especially humble and hearty prayer to God Almighty.
(B. Calamy.)I. DEFINE THE CLASSES OF THOUGHT WHICH MAY BE REGARDED AS EVIL.
1. Vain thoughts. These are not of a directly noxious quality; yet, light, empty, trifling, and insignificant, they form a most fearful waste of the noble faculty of thought.
2. Thoughts of a directly irreligious tendency. Impious and unworthy conceptions of God, sceptical thoughts in relation to various parts of revealed religion nourished as a subterfuge for sin, rebellious thoughts formed in the hardness of our hearts against the allotments of His providence, etc.
3. Intensely selfish and worldly thoughts.
4. Thoughts of deliberate wickedness.
II. INDICATE THE SINFULNESS OF EVIL THOUGHTS.
1. They have the stamp of guilt affixed to them by the Divine law.
2. They lead to the expressions of evil actions.
3. They defraud us of the supreme end of thought.
III. ENFORCE THE NECESSITY OF RESISTANCE OF EVIL, THOUGHTS. HOW necessary such resistance when we consider the advantages accruing, e.g., the influence —
1. Upon our personal character.
2. Upon society.
3. Upon a review of life in leaving it and during eternity.
(James Foster, B. A.)I. THE HUMILIATING TRUTH WHICH THE SAVIOUR HERE SETS FORTH,
II. THE TRUTHS WHICH ARE CONNECTED WITH THIS HUMBLING FACT.
1. We are driven to believe in the doctrine of the fall.
2. It shows the need of a new nature.
3. Admire the grace of God.
4. This doctrine illustrates the doctrine of the atonement.
(C. H. Spugeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(R. B. Nichol.)
(J. Cumming, D. D.)
(H. W. Beecher.)Anselm says, "Our heart is like a mill, ever grinding, which a certain lord gave in charge to his servant, enjoining that he should only grind in it his master's grain, whether wheat, barley, or oats, and telling him that he must subsist on the produce. But that servant has an enemy, who is always playing tricks on the mill. If, any moment, he finds it unwatched, he throws in gravel to keep the stones from acting, or pitch to clog them, or dirt and chaff to mix with the meal. If the servant is careful in tending his mill, there flows forth a beautiful flour, which is at once a service to his master, and a subsistence to himself; but if he plays truant, and allows his enemy to tamper with his machinery, the bad outcome tells the tale; his lord is angry; and he himself is starved." This mill, ever grinding, is the heart; thoughts are the grain; the devil is the watchful enemy: he throws in bad thoughts, which can only be prevented by watchfulness and prayer.
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