Proverbs 27:1


1. On the ground of our limited knowledge. The homely proverb says, "Do not count your chickens before they are hatched." The future exists for us only in imagination. "Who knows," asks Horace, "whether the gods above will add tomorrow's time to the sum of today?" ('Od.,' 4:7. 17); and Seneca, "None hath gods so favourable as that he may promise himself tomorrow's good."

2. On the ground of the Divine reserve of the secrets of destiny. To boast is to lift ourselves in effect out of that finite sphere of thought and feeling in which we have been placed by the Divine ordination. So says Horace again (and a distinctly Christian turn may be given to his exhortation), "Shun to inquire into the future and the morrow; and whatever day fortune shall afford thee, count it as gain" ('Od.,' 1:9, 13). Common sense and religious humility unite to teach us to "live for the day."

II. SELF-PRAISE CENSURED. (Ver. 2.) "Let another praise thee, and not thine own mouth." "Self-praise stinks," and "Not as thy mother says, but as the neighbours say," are Arabic proverbs. Every individual has a certain value; the sense of this is the foundation of all self-respect and virtue. But to show an over-consciousness of this worth by self-praise is a social offence, because it is an exaction of that which ought to be a free tribute, and betrays a desire of self-exaltation above others not easily forgiven.

III. THE PASSION OF THE FOOL INTOLERABLE. (Ver. 3.) Whether it be envy, furious resentment of rebuke, or jealousy, it is a burden intolerable to the person himself and to those with whom he has to do. The pious may readily sin in their anger, how much more the ungodly!

"Ira furor brevis est; animum rege; qui, nisi paret, Imperat; hunc froenis, hunc tu compesce catena.' (Horace, 'Ep.,' 1:2, 62). It is like a weight of stone or sand, being without cause, measure, or end (Poole).

IV. THE TERRIBLE FORCE OF JEALOUSY AND ENVY. (Ver. 4.) It exceeds all ordinary outbursts of wrath in violence and destructiveness. Envy is the daughter of pride, the author of revenge and murder, the beginner of sedition, and the perpetual tormentor of nature (Socrates). It never loves to honour another but when it may be an honour to itself. "From envy... good Lord, deliver us!"

V. FALSE LOVE AND FAITHFUL FRIENDSHIP CONTRASTED. (Vers. 5, 6.) False love refuses to tell a friend of his faults, from some egotistic and unworthy motive. "If you know that I have done anything foolishly or wickedly, and do not blame me for it, you yourself ought to be reproved" (Plaut.,'Trinum.,' 1:2, 57). "It is no good office," says Jeremy Taylor, "to make my friend more vicious or more a fool; I will restrain his folly, but not nurse it." "I think that man is my friend through whose advice I am enabled to wipe off the blemishes of my soul before the appearance of the awful Judge" (Gregory I). Christians should "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). If the erring one does not learn it from the lips of love, he will have to learn it from a harsher source and in ruder tones (comp. Job 5:17, 18; Psalm 141:5; Revelation 3:19; Proverbs 28:23). There cannot be a more worthy improvement of friendship than in a fervent opposition to the sins of those we love (Bishop Hall). - J.

Boast not thyself of to-morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
It is needless to prove the change and mutability of our present state, or the fact that the changes cannot be foreseen by us. Obvious as they are, it would be well if the thoughts of men dwelt on them more. But by a strange and prevailing deception, almost every one thinks his own case an exception from the general law; and that he may build plans with as much confidence on his present situation as if some assurance were given him that it were never to change. It has been so contrived by Providence that there should be no permanent stability to man's condition on earth. The seeds of alteration are everywhere sown. And think on what small and inconsiderable causes changes depend. In the midst of all these contingencies plans and designs for the future are every day formed. And this is fit and proper. Rules and precautions may be indicated.

I. BOAST NOT THYSELF OF TO-MORROW, Never presume arrogantly on futurity. Beware of pride and vanity. In the day of prosperity rejoice with trembling.

II. DESPAIR NOT OF TO-MORROW. Adverse situations fill many with fears and alarms of what is to come. The day may bring forth some unforeseen relief, and therefore we should hope under distress. The doctrine which the changes of the world perpetually inculcate is that no state of external things should appear so important, or should so affect and agitate our spirits, as to deprive us of a calm, an equal, and a steady mind. Anxiety, when it seizes the heart, is a dangerous disease, productive both of much sin and much misery.

III. DELAY NOT TILL TO-MORROW WHAT IS PROPER TO BE DONE TO-DAY. Thou art not the lord of to-morrow. Procrastination has, throughout every age, been the ruin of mankind. Many of the misfortunes which befall men in their worldly concerns are a consequence of delay. To-morrow, being loaded with the concerns of to-day, in addition to its own, is clogged and embarrassed. Evils of the same kind, arising from the same cause, overtake men in their moral and spiritual interests.

IV. BE EVERY DAY PREPARED FOR WHAT TO-MORROW MAY BRING FORTH. The best preparation for all the uncertainties of futurity consists in a well-ordered mind, a good conscience, and a cheerful submission to the will of heaven. If to-morrow bring you any unexpected good, prepare to receive it with gratitude, temperance, and modesty. If it shall bring forth evil, prepare to receive it with manly fortitude.

V. BUILD YOUR HOPES OF HAPPINESS ON SOMEWHAT MORE SOLID AND LASTING THAN WHAT EITHER TO-DAY OR TO-MORROW ARE LIKELY TO PRODUCE. He who rests wholly upon this world builds his house upon the sand. We are begotten again unto a "lively hope." Here is the object to which a wise man will bend his chief attention, that, having acted his part on earth with fidelity and honour, he may be enabled, through the merits of his Saviour, to look for a place in the mansions of eternal and untroubled peace. This prospect is the great corrective of the present vanity of human life.

(Hugh Blair, D.D.)

Man's nature inclines to boasting, to glorifying in something, and this ariseth from some apprehended excellency or advantage, and so is originated in the understanding power of man. There is a glorying and boasting which is good, especially a boasting in God. It is the apprehended personal interest in a thing which makes it become a subject of boasting. Nothing is truly the soul's own but that which survives all changes, and is inseparable from it. There may be a lawful glorying in the works of God. Oftentimes men are found glorying in that which is their shame. The object of degenerate and vicious boasting is presented in this text. "Boast not thyself," or of thyself. Self is the centre of man's affections and motions. This is the great "Diana" that the heart worships. Men's affections part themselves into three great heads of created things.

1. The goods or perfections of the mind.

2. The goods or advantages of the body.

3. The things that are without us, bona fortunae, riches and honour.There is also a strong inclination in man towards the time to come; he has an immortal appetite. If the soul of man were in the primitive integrity, this providence of the soul would reach to eternity, which is the only just measure of the endurance of any immortal spirit. But since man's understanding is darkened, he can see nothing further than "to-morrow." But confidence in to-morrow is folly, because of the instability of all outward things, and because of our ignorance of future events. Of all boastings the most irrational and groundless is that which arises from presumption of future things, which are so uncertain both in themselves and to us. Self is the great and ultimate object of man's glorying. No man's present possession satisfies him, without the addition of hope and expectation for the future. Our present revenue will not content the heart. Therefore the soul, as it were, anticipates and forestalls the morrow. But consider —

1. How independent all things are of us and of our choice.

2. The inconstancy of all material things. There is nothing certain but that all things are uncertain.

3. Our ignorance concerning coming changes. All things proclaim the folly and madness of that which the heart of man is set upon. "The counsel of the Lord," that alone shall "stand."

(H. Binning.)

It is not the doctrine of repentance men scruple to acknowledge, but the time for doing it. They say, "To-morrow will be time enough." And they say this, again and again, through all the stages of life. Press on attention the absolute necessity of our present performance of this great work of repentance.

I. SHOW THIS BY THE DANGEROUS UNCERTAINTIES WHICH ALL DELAYING MEN HAVE TO DEPEND UPON. There is no such thing hinted at in Scripture as future repentance. There is no ground for hoping that a late repentance will avail men who knowingly and wilfully defer that repentance which is the duty of the present.

1. What certainty can there be in that which depends upon so uncertain a foundation as the life of man? Who can ensure a hereafter to repent in?

2. As life is uncertain, so is the continuance of God's grace uncertain also.



1. Excuse — their sins are so small; they can be easily cast off at pleasure.

2. Sins are so great; it is too difficult to repent.

3. Life is just now too full of other things. Consider that every moment consumes somewhat of the thread of life; and that of all business and employments none can possibly be more requisite than our making our peace with God.

(William Bramston.)

Some are hindered by doubts, or blinded by definite unbelief; others are repelled from the gospel by prejudices of early education; others by worldly influences, others by the love of sin; and some by a coward fear of the possible consequences of decision. The chief hindrance, however, is the habit of procrastination. The fault is a common one even in worldly matters. There are things that must be done at once, and things which may be left. These latter have a very good chance of never being done at all. There are few who have not a lurking intention of thinking about religious matters sooner or later. Many are indisposed to prompt action, because they fear religion may. interfere with their manner of life, their commercial prosperity, and their social enjoyments. By and by, when other matters are not so urgent, they may find a convenient season. This habit of procrastination grows upon us until it becomes a sort of second nature, and at last, even should we wish to act promptly, we seem almost to have lost the power. For one who doubts the Bible, there are a hundred who simply put off for the present. The Holy Ghost says, "To-day"; they still say, "To-morrow." How can we best counteract this disposition towards procrastination? The nominally Christian world is pervaded by the radically false notion that religion has mainly to do with the future rather than with the present. This notion is encouraged by the use of the word "salvation." Men do not see that they need to be saved now. True religion is a matter of present urgency. Religion is the one secret of true enjoyment in life. Another cause of procrastination is a false idea of the relative importance of things temporal and things spiritual. Religion is regarded as distinct from the practical purposes of life. This is an inverted estimate of the relative importance of things. Why should we say to-day rather than to-morrow? Because, of all our life, only to-day is really ours. Tomorrow belongs to God. Every to-morrow that God allots you, when it gets to you is a to-day. The to-morrow that we think will do so much for us never comes. To-day may ensure our best interests; to-morrow they may have passed from us, and be forfeited for ever. Moreover, we have a great work to do, and only a limited time to do it in. And we are living in a perishing world, and men and women are dying unprepared every day that passes. By religious decision, how much happiness we may confer upon others by our personal example and influence. In this world of changes and uncertainties, no man can be sure that he will have any to-morrow. Think, too, how you are treating your Lord when, from day to day, you still continue to say, "To-morrow." To-day again He proffers the unspeakable gift. His time is now. Another to-morrow, and He may be constrained reluctantly to depart, wearied out at last by your heartless indifference. Oh, take shame to yourself that, hitherto, He has had nothing from you but "to-morrow."

(W. H. Hay Aitken, M.A.)

No truth is more obvious than that of the instability of human life, and the uncertainty of all earthly things; and yet there is none which produces a less abiding impression on the mind, or a less practical effect on the conduct. It seems to be a truth so trite as to be beneath our notice. All our courses of action, all our habits of thought, imply that we have a longer continuance, and a firmer interest, in the things around us, than a full conviction of their vanity and their uncertainty appear to warrant. We are willing to allow, as a general rule, that all below is fleeting and uncertain, but in our own case we are anxious to find a fortunate exception. This, at least, lies in the bottom of our hearts, springing up indistinctly in our thoughts, and whispering peace and safety, where neither of them are discoverable by the eye of reason. A knowledge of the fate of others can never entirely remove this error, because it is deeply seated in the heart. By boasting of to-morrow is meant a confident expectation of its arrival, and an undoubting calculation of the enjoyments which it may be expected to bring along with it; such a fancied assurance of possessing it, as may lead us to defer what ought now to be done till that imaginary period. The greatest evil to which this leads is the postponement of a religious life to some future period of our existence, it is too common for man to look upon religion as something totally incompatible with the pursuits and enjoyments of the present world. He therefore relies upon the possibility that the morrow may be extended to him, and to that uncertain period he commits the serious task of shaking off the evil habits which he has contracted, and curbing the corrupt passions which he has hitherto indulged, and of cultivating the Christian graces. Too often in the short and anxious hour of our closing existence all the more serious work of life has to be done. Let it be our aim, then, to look upon religion, not as a task which we are commanded to perform, but as a privilege which we are invited to share. For most of the ills of life religion is an effectual remedy, and in all it is a cheering alleviation.

1. There are many miseries which the morrow is continually bringing forth, that are the direct consequence of our own imprudent conduct or our own vicious habits. They spring from a want of religion; and the possession of it would of course relieve them.

2. Suffering also belongs to us as the sons of mortality; such as pain, sickness, infirmity, age. Religion cannot altogether remove such woes, but it can very materially mitigate and relieve them. And, at least, it enables us to look rightly upon them.

3. There is a class of disappointments to which irreligious men are subject, but from which the true Christian is altogether free. The worldly man is entirely immersed in the things of this life, its pleasures and its cares. When the changeful morrow comes, and these are swept away, he is ruined. The happiness of the religious man is not dependent on such accidents as these.

(R. Parkinson, B.D.)

I. THE ABUSE OF TO-MORROW. "Boast not" —

1. Because it is extremely foolish to boast at all, Boasting never makes a man any the greater in the esteem of others, nor does it improve the real estate either of his body or his soul. Morrows come from God; thou hast no right to glory in them.

2. Because to-morrow is one of the frailest things in creation, and therefore the least to be boasted of. Boast not of to-morrow — thou hast it not. Boast not of to-morrow — thou mayest never have it. Boast not of to-morrow — if thou hadst it, it would deceive thee. Boast not of to-morrow, for to-morrow thou mayest be where morrows will be dreadful things, to tremble at.

3. Because it is exceedingly hurtful to boast. It is hurtful now. Some men are led into extraordinary extravagance from their hopes of the future. It is hurtful to-morrow also. Because you will be disappointed with to-morrow if you boast about it before it comes. The over-confident not only entail great sorrow upon themselves but upon others also.

II. THE ABUSE OF THE SPIRITUAL TO-MORROW. Never boast of to-morrow with regard to your soul's salvation. Those do who think it will be easier for them to repent to-morrow than it is to-day. Those do who suppose they shall have plenty of time to repent and return to God. Those do who boast in a way of resolves to do better.

III. IF TO-MORROWS ARE NOT TO BE BOASTED OF, ARE THEY GOOD FOR NOTHING? Nay; we may look forward to them with confidence and joy, and we may seek in wise ways to provide for to-morrow.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)




IV. GOD ALONE KNOWS WHAT IS TO COME. The Jews of Christ's time were dreaming of future prosperity, but He foresaw their ruin and destruction as at hand. We, like them, lay plans for futurity, and invade the province of the Most High. We perhaps anticipate wealth, honour.

V. GREAT CHANGES HAPPEN IN A SHORT TIME. "For thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." Since the introduction of sin, the creature at its best estate is altogether vanity.

(Christian Recorder.)

I. In this passage it is very plainly insinuated THAT WE ARE TOO APT TO BOAST OF TO-MORROW. The young hope to live to old age; the middle-aged, having passed the most critical stages of infancy and childhood, reckon, with too much security, on grey hairs; while the old look around them for examples, a few of which they can glean of extreme age, and hope they themselves shall add to the number of extraordinary cases of longevity. Boasting of to-morrow likewise appears in framing worldly schemes of future ease and aggrandisement. He who proposes it as his object to make up a sum at all hazards, that he may, by a certain time, execute a plan of a great mansion, suited to the fortune, and then to enjoy himself. See where the evil lies; not in thinking of to-morrow, in the way of making wise and prudent preparation, always taking along with us, "If the Lord will"; but the evil is that boasting of to-morrow which involves in sinful, at any rate in worldly and presumptuous plans, in reference to some future period, or that kind of reference to to-morrow which is a substitute for attention, immediate and serious, to our most important, even our eternal interests.

II. THAT IT IS FOOLISH TO BOAST OF TO-MORROW, "We are young." Granted; but the young droop oftentimes. The green leaf often is seen falling, nipped by frost, or shaken by the wind. The young and strong have been called hence by disease or accident, the majority were young. "But we have stood already many trials of our constitution, and many attacks, and are yet vigorous." The last, however, will come, and the very next may be fatal. "But we are a long-lived race. Father and mother, yea grandfather, and many relatives, lived to a great age." You forget the exceptions. "But we have somehow this persuasion, that we shall live long, and at any rate we will not indulge in gloomy presage of an early tomb." This is very delusive — it is foolish — you can give no reason for it — you may soon find you were deceiving yourselves.


1. It fosters irreligion and atheism. Leaving out of calculation your own weak and dependent state, the uncertainty of time, and your ignorance of futurity, you form your plans without any reference to the Divine Disposer. You erect many high towering schemes, which savour at once of impiety and folly.

2. It is found to foster some of the worst passions of the human heart. The ambitious reason thus: A few steps more, and I shall rise to the very top of my profession, or of my rank in society, and that in the regular course of events, which supposes the removal of others by the stroke of mortality, as the means of elevation. The covetous man adds heap to heap, with desires more and more insatiable, forgetful of his latter end, and of that country to which he goes, where his wealth will be of no benefit. A due consideration of this might, by the Divine blessing, cut up by the roots this grovelling and idolatrous propensity, and give the soul a heavenward direction. A day may bring forth many most unexpected events, casting a dark cloud over the most flattering prospects. This present day improved may be the happy means of arresting the evil which the presumption of to-morrow tends so much to foster.

3. The boast of to-morrow is most prejudicial to spiritual and eternal concerns. It is the most successful of all Satan's devices, and the easiest mode of compassing his designs.

(W. Burns.)

I. TO WHAT THE WORDS OF THE TEXT WILL APPLY. On some things we can calculate with a degree of certainty. Apply text —

1. With regard to ourselves. And it will apply to both good and evil. The text seems to have in view evil.

2. To the dispensations of Providence.

3. This uncertainty regards our lives. Some are cut off in the midst of sin. Some in the midst of religious declensions.

II. WHAT REASONS CAN BE GIVEN FOR THIS IGNORANCE OF FUTURITY. It never was designed that man should know the future. Even the angels in heaven have not this knowledge. Would such knowledge add to our happiness? or improve our religious character? This arrangement keeps us fully dependent on God. By this means He keeps the world in awe.


1. It should check vain curiosity.

2. It teaches us to hope for the best.

3. It is good to be prepared for the worst.

4. Learn the importance of real religion.

(Charles Hyatt.)

I. THE SENTIMENT CONTAINED IN THE TEXT. No man will attempt to controvert the assertion it makes.

1. We are ignorant of the future as to our circumstances.

2. We cannot tell what a day may bring forth as to the state of our bodies and our minds.

3. We are ignorant of the future as to our families and connections.

4. We are totally ignorant of futurity, as to the continuance of our lives.


1. Learn the importance of a life of faith and dependence on God. Man was never designed to be independent.

2. Learn to cultivate a spirit of holy resignation to the Divine will.

3. Learn to cultivate a spirit of cautious moderation as to the things of this present life.

4. Learn to cultivate a spirit of humility.

(R. Cameron.)

Mr. D. L. Moody says: "To recall the following act I would give my right hand. On the night when the Court House bell of Chicago was sounding an alarm of fire, my sermon was upon 'What shall I do with Jesus? ' And I said to the audience, 'I want you to decide this question by next Sunday.' What a mistake! That night I saw the glare of flames, and knew that Chicago was doomed. I never saw that audience again."

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