Proverbs 23:7
The text treats of a hospitality which does not deserve the name, and of our duty when we are invited to accept a glint that is grudged. It thus opens the whole subject of giving and receiving. There are three graces here.

I. THE GRACE OF GIVING. This is one which is readily recognized as heaven born.

1. God commends it to us. He says, "Give, and it shall be given unto you" (Luke 6:38); "Give to him that asketh thee" (Matthew 5:42); "He that giveth let him do it with liberality" (Revised Version); "given to hospitality" (Romans 12:8, 13).

2. It is the best reward of labour (Ephesians 4:28).

3. It is the most God-like of all graces. For God lives to give; he is ever giving forth to all his creation; he is feeding the multitudes and millions of his creatures beneath every sky.

4. It is the source of the purest and most elevating joy. "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

II. THE GRACE OF RECEIVING. If it is right and good for some men to give cf their abundance, then the correlative act of receiving must also be right and good. There is, indeed, a virtue, a grace, in receiving cheerfully and cordially as well as gratefully, which may be almost, if not quite, as acceptable to God as that of generosity itself. There is truth in Miss Proctor's lines -

"I hold him great who for love's sake
Can give with generous, earnest will;
Yet he who takes for love's sweet sake,
I think I hold more generous still."

III. THE GRACE OF REFUSING.

1. We may rightly refuse a gift, whether it he in the way of hospitality or not, which we are sure the giver cannot honestly afford; we do not wish to be enriched or entertained at the expense of his creditors.

2. We may properly decline a gift if we feel that it is offered us under a misconception; when we are imagined to be, or to believe, or to be working toward, that which is contrary to our spirit, our creed, our aim

3. We do well to decline the hospitality which does not come from the heart. The host is "as he thinketh in his heart." His fair or "sweet words" are no real part of himself; they only come from his lips; and if he is grudging us what he gives us, we may well wish ourselves far away from his table. No man who has any self-respect whatever will wish to take a crust from the man who counts what he gives his friends. Such food as that, however dainty, would choke us as we ate it. Nor is it begrudged hospitality alone that we should have the independence to refuse, but all else that is in the shape of gift; all money, all position, all friendship. Better to go entirely without than to have abundance at the cost of our own self-respect. Better to toil hard and wait long than to accept such offers as those. Better to turn to him "who giveth liberally and upbraideth not," and ask of him. - C.







For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
1. A man is as his thoughts.

2. A man has control over his thoughts.

3. God helps him in the exercise of that control.We are that really, both to God and to man, which we are inwardly.

( Matthew Henry.)

I. THE INFINITE IMPORTANCE OF MEN'S THOUGHTS. This text, in counselling for a particular case, and bidding us test the sincerity of one who invites us, asserts a principle of wide application. You do not know a man until you know his thoughts. God knows him perfectly, because He knows his thoughts.

1. You cannot know a man merely by listening to his words or watching his actions. There is always more, and often better, in men than comes into expression.

2. The revelations of close and trustful friendships are revelations of the thoughts.

3. The claims of God reach beyond right action, and demand right thought. The law of God searches the secret intents of the heart.

4. The redemption that is provided includes in its scheme the sanctification of the very thought.

5. All sin is represented as springing up out of, and finding expression for, lust in the sphere of thought. Show, by appeal to Christian experience, the difficulty found in the restraining of thought. In the unrestrainedness of thought often comes to us the feeling and the mastery of sin.

II. THE AMOUNT OF CONTROL MAN HAS OVER HIS THOUGHTS. If he had no control over them his moral responsibility would be gone. We cannot help the evil thoughts coming to us. We have control —

1. Over the material of our thoughts. The materials are the sum of past impressions. Thinking is the combining, comparing, and rearranging of the actual contents of the mind. We can direct ourselves away from the evil and towards the good. We can fill our minds with good suggestions and associations. Illustrate from going into scenes suggestive of vice; reading questionable or immoral books, etc.

2. Over the processes of thought. There may be the nourishing of the evil. There may be the swaying of the mind through the power of the renewed will, and with the help of the indwelling Spirit. Apply to wandering thoughts in the house of God. Do we make the mastery of such evil the subject of real effort?

III. THE HELP GOD RENDERS MAN IN THE EXERCISE OF SUCH CONTROL. An attempt to regulate thoughts will bring the conviction of human helplessness. When a man has mastered conduct he cannot say that he has mastered himself. When he thinks he has mastered "thoughts" he will surely find that he needs to cry unto God, saying, "Try me and know my thoughts... and lead me in the way everlasting."

(Robert Tuck, B.A.)

The knowledge of ourselves is one of the most noble and excellent attainments in human life. He that knows himself stands fair for immortal felicity. Doctrine: The thoughts of men's hearts do evidence what their spiritual state is. These do ordinarily give the best and surest measure of the frame of men's minds. What thoughts, then, evidence the spiritual state of men? Not occasional thoughts. Not such as arise from strong convictions, that come on us suddenly. Not such as arise from apparent Divine desertions. Despairing thoughts are no sure evidence of the condition of souls. Not such as arise from violent temptations. Not such as arise from men's particular calling and manner of life. Not such as arise from attendance upon, and the performance of, religious duties. The religious discourse of others may produce pious thoughts in an unregenerate person. A man may read God's Word and be yet far from the kingdom. So he may attend the preaching of the Word, and even pray, without having more than surface thoughts. Answering the question affirmatively, mention may be made of voluntary thoughts, such as the mind is apt for and inclines towards. Four qualifications must attend them if they are to be a complete rule and a perfect standard of trial. They must be natural, numerous, satisfactory, and operative. Let us each see to it that our thoughts be such as evidence us to be holy persons. Practise frequent, serious, and close examination.

(Nathanael Walter.)

The body is not the man. Our bodies die. Neither are a man's words himself. Words are often used to conceal, to misrepresent, to counterfeit. Neither is it possible, universally, to discern the essence of character in action. What good man is there who has not again and again failed to do himself justice in his life? Often, on the other hand, actions are much more beautiful than the thoughts of the heart. The essence of human character is found in the heart. It is the disposition, it is the heart-state, which is the true man. This test of human character is a just one, for our life is a progress, is in the direction of the realisation of this heart-state. Action is but heart-expression. The heart-thought, or purpose, is the true man. Not only is human progress towards the realisation of this heart-state, but the separation of the man from this full expression and realisation of his inner desire is not a matter of his own choice or creation, and therefore cannot enter as an element into his character. The field open, covered by the human choice, is only this, present desire. It often happens that a man is to a certain extent kept under the power of religious truth who is in heart utterly disloyal to the Divine law. When the life differs from the heart the latter, not the former, must be regarded as the true man. Sooner or later the full coincidence between the external and internal is inevitable; the full expression of the heart is sure to come.

1. Tendency is everything in the moral world.

2. Explain the different destinies of the Christian and un-Christian life.

3. Abstain from all judgment of your fellow-men.

4. Encourage those who are true and good at heart.

(S. S. Mitchell, D.D.)

I. This is the Hebrew way of telling us in a casual word about feasting THAT A MAN'S INMOST THINKING IS THE TRUE INDEX TO HIS CHARACTER. Talk is superficial. The lip gives a smiling welcome whilst a lofty disdain is in the heart. Mellifluous speech often comes from a malign spirit, whilst "groanings that cannot be uttered" are signs of a yearning supremely Divine. To the perfect ear of God, who catches the faintest quiver of hypocrisy in our devotion, and the lightest tone of insincerity in our song, our "words" justify or condemn us; but to our dull and insensitive organs they are unreliable signs, and our conclusions from them require to be corrected and qualified by the study of other data. We are, therefore, driven back upon the Hebrew teaching that a man is built up from within; that as he does his inward work — all his inward work — so he is in character, being, and power. He must be a whole man in his thinking in order to be to all intents and in all respects a man; for manly thinking, according to our ancient Scriptures, lies at the basis of manhood.

II. Christianity accepts and endorses this inward and broad basis of manhood, and employs its fact and revelation, impulse and inspiration, TO SECURE A THOROUGH REGENERATION OF MAN'S INMOST LIFE. It seeks to re-create him as a thinker, refuses to look on the mere "scholar" as the full man, and works on the Hebrew idea, lately re-announced by Emerson, that the true notion of manhood is "man thinking; not man the victim of society and a mere thinker, or still worse, the parrot of other men's thinking" — but man, thinking "in his heart," with all his inward forces, conscience and will, fancy and emotion, hope and experience — thinking in the whole of him, and with the whole of him, and for the whole of him and his race, and so making speech the clear, full, and indivisible echo of his thought, and deed the visible garment of his inward life. God means us to be men, and He evokes the forces of an inward life by compelling us to wield the sword with our full strength against the enemy. For as a man battles for truth in his heart, so is he. Cowardly thinking makes a weak and poor life. Christ creates inward courage, heroic daring for reality and right, and renews the manliness of the world.

III. THIS IS A THINKING AGE. The sluggard intellect has received an unparalleled awakening, and thinking of nearly all kinds is proceeding with astonishing celerity and productiveness. The manliest thinking is done with the heart, i.e., with the whole of the inner forces of the life.

IV. Modern thinking, ignoring the Biblical rule, is SMITTEN WITH THE BLIGHT OF COWARDICE, falls a victim to unreality, and lacks, notwithstanding its pride, Lutheran courage, holy daring, and self-devotion. Young men, do not be misled by the syren of a false peace. Truth is a prize to be won by strenuous battle with the shows and pretences of error, and the shock of downright attack with the foes of faith ought only to whet desire, quicken appetite, and concentrate your forces so that you may become masker of the situation. Give to your thinking the courage of the heart, the force of a resolute energy, the patience of an inflexible will, and as sure as you are true to your whole self God will be found of you in Christ Jesus, and become the sunshine of your life and the joy of your heart.

V. Another form of this mistake is that WE EXPECT TOO MUCH TO BE DONE BY MERE THINKING. Science thinks everything out, and we want to make all life scientific, and so we take out of it our personal trusts, and the subtle ministry of the reflex action of deeds on our thoughts. Convert thought-out truth into loyalty to Jesus Christ, and obedience to His laws. Courageous deed, following intrepid thinking, made the Reformation.

VI. NO THINKING IS MANLY WHICH FAILS TO TAKE ADEQUATE ACCOUNT OF THE FORCE OF INTENSE MORAL ENTHUSIASMS. It is provable that only in the white heat of a glowing passion for an ethical goal have we the clearest vision of eternal fact.

VII. Again, THE THINKING THAT IS OF THE BRAIN ONLY AND NOT OF THE HEART IS IN SERIOUS DANGER OF PASSING OVER THE "UNSEEN" ORDER AND TREATING IT AS THOUGH IT DID NOT EXIST. It ignores the invisible forces which somehow or other, and from somewhere or other, undeniably find, move, and educate men.

VIII. But, above all things, DO NOT LET US BE ALARMED AT ANY OF THE MISTAKES AND MISCHIEFS THAT CAUSE DISOBEDIENCE TO THE CHRISTIAN LAW OF MANLY THINKING. We need have no misgiving about the future. Man is essentially a thinker and a unit, and he must think towards unity, and truth, and perfection. Be his mistakes numberless, he cannot stop. He is made for God. "God is his refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble"; therefore, after every temporary eclipse, the Sun of Righteousness will break forth and reveal again the way to the Father.

(J. Clifford, D.D.)

The capacity of thinking is a most wonderful thing. Here lies man's supremacy ever all the visible world about him. All great undertakings, the glorious enterprises of men for men's salvation, were once only thoughts. The character of a man's thoughts determines the character of his life. His actions are inspired from within. Every product of the soul, whether it be an action or a purpose, is first a germ. Sin lies in the soul in germs — in germs as well as in actions. The moral success of life consists in killing evil thoughts in the germ. There are few purer and richer pleasures in this world than the enjoyment of sweet thoughts, happy thoughts, holy thoughts. The heart determines our everlasting destiny. A heart without holiness never shall see the Lord. Christ is the only purifier of the heart.

(Theodore L. Cuyler, D.D.)

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