Proverbs 22
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Proverbs 22:1-16
Proverbs 22:1-16. The theme of the earlier part of the chapter may be said to be the good name: the blessings in the possession of it, and the conditions for the acquirement of it - partly negatively, partly positively, described.


1. Riches. (Ver. 1.) Riches have their worth; reputation has its worth; but the latter is of an order altogether different from the former. The former gives a physical, the latter a moral, power. It is right that we should have regard to the opinion of good men. "An evil name shall inherit disgrace and reproach," says Sirach 6:1. And we have, as Christians, clearly to think of the effect a good or evil name must have upon "them that are without" (1 Corinthians 5:12; 1 Corinthians 10:31, sqq.; Philippians 4:8).

2. Again, poverty with a good name is infinitely preferable to riches associated with an evil character (ver. 2). It is according to general laws of providence that one is rich, the other poor. The great point is to recognize that we cannot all possess the lower good, but that the higher good is offered to all, made the duty of all to seek. Let the poor man not exaggerate the worth of riches, nor murmur against God, but humble himself under his hand, and trust the promises of his Word (Matthew 5:3). And let the rich man not put his confidence in riches (1 Timothy 6:17), but lay up an inward store against the time to come. It is religion alone which solves the contradiction between riches and poverty by reducing both under the true standard of value.


1. Prudence. (Ver. 3.) To foresee evil at a distance - to have a cultivated spiritual sense, analogous to the keen scent of the lower animals, that may enable us to detect the danger not apprehensible by the duller sense - is necessary to our safety. And what is necessary to safety is necessary ultimately with a view to the good name. To go too near the fire may lead to the scorching of the reputation, if not to the loss of the life. To conceal ourselves beneath the wings of the Almighty and to abide in communion with God (Psalm 91:1) is the best refuge from all danger.

2. Humility. (Ver. 4.) He that would attain to the glory must first "know how to be abased." Clearly to recognize our position and part in life always implies humility. For it is always less and lower than that which imagination dreams. Another important lesson from this verse is that reputation and the good attached to it come through seeking something else and something better. To do our own work is really to do something that has never been attempted before. For each of us is an original, and success in that which is peculiar to us brings more honour than success in a matter of greater difficulty in which we are but imitators of others.

3. The fear of God. (Ver. 4.) Religion gives reality to character. And reputation must at last rest on the presence of a reality; and those who have it not are perpetually being found out.

4. Rectitude of conduct. (Ver. 5.) What pains, anxieties, what dangers, rebuffs, and disappointments, and what loss of all that makes life sweet and good, do not the dishonest in every degree incur! The path of rectitude and truth seems rugged, but roses spring up around it, so soon as we begin fairly to tread it; the way of the transgressors seems inviting, but is indeed "hard." - J.

Both of these things are good in their way and in their measure. They may be held together, for many wealthy men have enjoyed's good name and much "loving favour." But it is not given to all men to command both of these. A large proportion of rich men have lost their reputation for equity' and humanity by the way in which they have gained their wealth. And they must necessarily be many who are compelled to take and keep their place among the poor. But if only one of these two desirable things is open to us, we may be very well satisfied that this is not the wealth, but the worthiness, not the full treasury, but the good name and the kind regard. For -

I. WEALTH IS VERY LIMITED IN ITS CAPACITIES. It is true that it commands considerable material advantages, and that it puts it in the power of its possessor to enlarge his own mind, to extend his social circle, and to multiply his usefulness. This, however, it only does as an instrument. It does not ensure any of these things. Men may possess it, and they may, as very many of them do, altogether neglect to avail themselves of the opportunity. It does not even dispose men to do these wise things; it is as likely as not to allure them in other and even contrary directions. The power of mere wealth, apart from the character of its owner, is very much slighter than it seems. It only really secures bodily comforts and the means of advancement.

1. It does not center even happiness, for mere jollity or transient excitement is not happiness.

2. It does not supply knowledge, much less capacity, and still less wisdom.

3. It does not provide the friendship which is worthy of the name, for no man who respects himself will be the friend of the rich simply because he is rich. We do not love a man because he has a large account at his bank.

4. It does not include the possession of any estimable moral qualities, nor, therefore, the favour of God. moreover -


1. It involves heavy burdens, great anxieties lest it should be lost.

2. It entails the most serious responsibility, lest its misuse or its non use should bring down the weighty condemnation of God (Matthew 25:26).

3. It tempts to a dishonourable and degrading self indulgence; also to a cynical and guilty contempt of the poor and lowly.

III. A GOOD REPUTATION INCLUDES OR IMPLIES THE BEST THINGS. Of course, men may acquire a fair name and even loving favour by very superficial qualities; but if they do, it is usually but short-lived. It breaks down under the weight of hard fact and accumulated experience. The good name which Solomon is thinking or, and which is the only thing of the kind worth pursuing, is that which is built upon or which springs from a sound character. It therefore implies the possession of uprightness, of purity, of truthfulness, of kindness, of reverence; and it therefore implies the possession of piety and the favour of God.


1. It satisfies our self-respect; for we tightly wish to enjoy the intelligent esteem of our neighbours. We are rightly troubled when we lose it; we are justified in our satisfaction that we possess it. It is a pure and lasting gratification.

2. It satisfies our affections. To have the "loving favour" of men is to have much true gladness of heart.

V. A GOOD REPUTATION IS A SOURCE OF MUCH POWER. While the bad rich man is steadily declining in his command, his humbler neighbour, who is esteemed for his wisdom and his worth, is gaining an influence for good with every passing year. - C.

The great problem of excessive wealth and pitiable poverty confronts us still, and seems likely to task our united wisdom for many years, if not for several generations. We may regard -

I. THE BROAD AND NAKED FACT VISIBLE TO EVERY EYE. The fact that, while this world is stored with wealth beneath the ground, and is capable of bringing forth upon its surface ample supplies for all the need of the race, there is found amongst us vast mass of miserable indigence. Children are born into the world in homes where parents do not know how to feed and clothe them, where an early death would seem to be the happiest fate; and other children are born into and brought up in homes where parents have a great deal more than they need to provide for their necessities, and where life offers every opportunity for enjoyment with no necessity for labour.


1. Such deep and wide distinctions as now exist must be contrary to his purpose. We cannot possibly suppose that it is in accordance with his mind that thousands of his children should be starving, unclad or ill clad, homeless, exposed to the saddest sufferings and the darkest evils, while other thousands of his children have more than they need or know how to make good use of.

2. These distinctions are the ultimate result of the laws which he ordained. Poverty has its origin in sin; it is one of the penalties of wrong doing. All the evil we see and sigh over, of every kind, we must trace to sin and to the consequences which sin entails. It is a Divine law that sin and suffering go together.

3. Some inequalities amongst us are directly due to his Divine ordering. He creates us with very different faculties. Some are fitted and enabled to do great things, which raise them in position and in circumstance above their brethren; others are not thus qualified Much, though very far indeed from everything, depends upon our natural endowments.

III. THE UNDESIRABLE SEPARATION WHICH EXISTS BETWEEN THE RICH AND THE POOR. We do not know our neighbours as we should. We pass one another with cold indifference. Too often men turn away from their inferiors (in circumstance) with a contemptuous disregard which signifies that the poor man is beneath their notice; too often men fail to appeal to their fellows because they think themselves unworthy to address them. Between man and man, between brother and brother, there is a gulf of isolation which must be painful and pitiful in the sight of the common Father, the Maker of them both.


1. Those on which they must feel the distinction between them - in business and in society.

2. Those on which they should not do so - when they meet in public worship or for Christian work, then all differences of a material and social kind should be forgotten and ignored.

(1) What are these in presence of that which separates both rich and poor from the Infinite and Almighty One?

(2) What are these in comparison with the question of moral and spiritual Worth? In the sight of God, the poor but holy man is far more acceptable than the rich but unholy man. With him all questions of income or of title are utterly insignificant, positively invisible in presence of the questions of moral rectitude and spiritual worth.

3. One on which they will not do so (Revelation 20:12).

1. Do your best to bridge the gulf, or, still better, to fill up the chasm which separates one class from another.

2. Take care to have that distinction which will survive the shocks of time and change. - C.

All men might be divided into the thoughtful and the thoughtless. They belong either to those who look before them and prepare for the struggle or the danger that is coming, and avoid it; or else to those who go blindly on and stumble over the first impediment in their way. The "prudent man" of the text is not only the cautious man; he is the man of sagacity and foresight, who takes large and extended views of things. There are many illustrations of the thought, of which we may select.

I. THE EVIL OF PECUNIARY ENTANGLEMENT. The prudent man forbears to enter into that alliance, or into those relationships, or on to that course of action which will demand more resources than he can supply. But the simple "pass on" - become involved, and pay the penalty of prolonged anxiety, of great distraction, of painful humiliation, of grave dishonour, of financial ruin.

II. THE STRAIN OF UNWISE COMPANIONSHIP. A prudent man will consider well what company he can wisely keep, whose society will be beneficial and whose injurious to him, whether or not he can bear the pressure that will be put upon him to indulge in this or that direction, and he will shun the social circle that would be perilous to his integrity. But the simple take no heed, accept the first invitation that comes to them, become associated with those whose influence is deteriorating, succumb to their solicitation, and pay the penalty of serious spiritual declension.

III. THE FORCE OF SOME PARTICULAR TEMPTATION. The wise perceive the danger of the intoxicating cup, of the saloon, of the racecourse, of the gambling table, and they keep steadfastly away. The simple pass on - self-confident, presumptuous, doomed, and they are punished indeed.

IV. THE PASSAGE OF YOUTH. The prudent recognize the fact that, unless youth yields its own particular fruit of knowledge, of acquisition, of capacity for work in one field or other, the prizes of life must be foregone; and, recognizing this, they do not waste the golden hours of study in idleness or dissipation. But the simple take no heed, trust to the chapter of accidents, wait upon fortune, fling away their precious chances, and are "punished" by having to take the lower path all the rest of their days.

V. THE RISK OF LOSING HEALTH. The prudent man sees that, if he urges his powers beyond the mark which kind and wise nature draws for him, he will gain a present advantage at the cost of future good, and he holds himself in check. The simple pass on - overwork, overstudy, strain their faculties, and break down long before their time.

VI. THE LOSS OF LIFE. The wise man will count on this; he will reckon that any day he may be called to pass from his business and his family and his pleasure to the great account and the long future; and he lives accordingly, ready for life or for death, prepared to encounter the hour when he will look his last on time and confront eternity. The simple leave this stern fact out of their account; they pass on their way without making preparation either for those whom they must leave behind or for themselves when they enter the world where material treasures are of no account whatever; they pass on, and they "are punished," for they, too, reach the hour of departure, but they awake to the sad fact that that has been left undone for which a long life is not too long a preparation. - C.

By "the froward" we understand the spiritually perverse - those that will go on their own way, deaf to the commandments and the entreaties of their heavenly Father.


1. One of guilt. These froward souls who choose their own way, declining that to which God calls them, are most seriously guilty. Whether their disobedience be due to careless inattention or whether to deliberate recusancy, it is disloyal, ungrateful, presumptuous, offensive in a high degree. It is no wonder that it proves to be:

2. One of suffering. No wonder that "thorns" are in that way, thorns that pierce and pain - grievous troubles, poverty, sickness, loneliness, fear, remorse, forsakenness of God. Departure from God leads down to tangled places, causes men to be lost in thorny wildernesses where suffering abounds. It is also:

3. One of danger. It is a place of "snares." Without the "lamp unto the feet and the light unto the path," how should the traveller in "this dark world of sin" do otherwise than fall? Outside the service of Christ, and apart from his guidance, when the heart is uncontrolled from above, there is the greatest danger of the spirit giving way to one evil after another, of yielding to that multitude of strong temptations which attend the traveller's steps.

II. THE WAY OF THE WISE. There is no necessity for man finding the path of his life a path full of thorns and snares. It is true that no prudence or wisdom will prove an absolute guard therefrom; but if a man will "keep his soul" as he may keep it, he will be preserved in his integrity, he will even "be far" from the worst evils which overtake the froward and perverse. To "keep our soul" is to:

1. Understand its inestimable worth; to understand that it far transcends in value any property we may hold, or any position we may reach, or any prizes or pleasures we may snatch.

2. Realize that God claims it as his own; that to the Father of spirits, to the Saviour of souls, our hearts and lives belong; that to him they should he willingly and heartily surrendered, that they may be placed in his strong and holy keeping.

3. Guard it by the help of Divine wisdom; apply those precious truths which are in the pages of God's Word to its necessity; study the life and form the friendship of that One who himself is the Wisdom of God, walking with whom along the path of life we shall be safe from the wiles of the wicked one. - C.

I. EARLY TRAINING. (Ver. 6.) The young twig must be early bent. Experience teaches us that nothing in the world is so mighty for good or evil as custom; and therefore, says Lord Bacon, "since custom is the principal magistrate of man's life, let man by all means endeavour to obtain good customs. Custom is most perfect when it beginneth in young years; this we call education, which is in effect but an early custom. The tongue is more pliant to all expressions and sounds, the joints more supple to all feats of activity and motions, in youth than afterwards. Those minds are rare which do not show to their latest days the ply and impress they have received as children."

II. INDEPENDENCE. (Ver. 7.) How strongly was the worth of this felt in those ancient times! Poverty and responsibility to others are to be avoided. Many are forced into distress of conscience and to the loss of a good name by being tempted, for the wake of the rich man's gold or the great man's smile, to vote contrary to their convictions. Others will sell their liberty to gratify their luxury. It is an honest ambition to enjoy a competence that shall enable one to afford to be honest, and have the luxury of the freest expression of opinion. Hence frugality becomes so clear a moral duty.

III. INTEGRITY. (Ver. 8.) Ill-gotten gains cannot prosper. "The evil which issues from thy mouth falls into thy bosom," says the Spanish proverb. The rod wherewith the violent and unjust man struck others is broken to pieces.

IV. NEIGHBOURLY LOVE (Ver. 9.) "Charity gives itself rich, covetousness hoards itself poor," says the German proverb. "Give alms, that thy children may not ask them," says a Danish proverb. "Drawn wells are never dry." So give today, that thou mayest have to give tomorrow; and to one, that thou mayest have to give to another. Let us remember, with the Italian proverb, that "our last robe is made without pockets." Above all, if our case is that "silver and gold we have none, let us freely substitute the kindly looks and the healing words, which are worth much and cost little."

V. A PEACEFUL TEMPER. (Ver. 10.) Let the scoffing, envious, contentious temper be cast out of our breast first. As for others, let us strike, if possible, at the cause and root of strife. Let there be solid argument for the doubter, and practical relief for actual grievances. Let us learn from the old fable, and follow the part of Epimetheus, who, when evils flew abroad from the box of Pandora, shut the lid and kept hope at the bottom of the vessel.

VI. A FAITHFUL AND CONSTANT HEART. (Ver. 11.) The greatest treasure to an earthly monarch, and dear above all to the King of kings. "He who serves God serves a good Master." Grace and truth are upon the lips of God's Anointed forevermore. And to clench these proverbs, let us recollect that nothing but truth in the inward parts can abide before the eye of Jehovah. "A lie has no legs." It carries along with itself the germs of its own dissolution. It is sure to destroy itself at last. Its priests may prop it up, after it has once fallen in the presence of the truth; but it will fall again, like Dagon, more shamefully and irretrievably than before. Truth is the daughter of God (Trench). - J.

Very many parental hearts have leaned their weight of hope on these cheering words - many to be sustained and gladdened, some to be disappointed. We look at -

I. THE BROAD SPHERE OF PARENTAL TRAINING. What is the way in which a child should be trained to go? It is one that comprehends much. It includes:

1. Manners. These are not of the first importance, but they have their value. And if politeness, demeanour, bearing, be not engraven in the young, it will not be perfectly attained afterwards.

2. Mind. The habit of observing, of thinking, of reasoning, of sound reading, of calm consideration and discussion.

3. Morals. The all-important habits of truthfulness, of temperance, of industry, of self-command, of courage, of pure and stainless honesty, of unselfish considerateness, of generous forgiveness.

4. Religion. The habit of reverence in the use of the Divine Name, of public worship, of private prayer, of readiness to learn all that in any way God is willing to teach us.

II. THE STRENGTH OF THE PARENTAL HOPE. Let the child be trained in these right ways, "and when he is old," etc.

1. The assurance of habit. When we have firmly planted a good habit in the mind and in the life, we have done a very great and a very good thing - we have gone far toward the goal we seek. For habit, early formed, is not easily broken. We sometimes allude to habit as if it were an enemy. But, in truth, it is our best friend. It is a gracious bond that binds us to wisdom and virtue. Without it we should have no security against temptation; with it we have every reason to hope that youth will pass into prime, and prime into old age, clothed with all the wisdom and adorned with all the grace that it received in its early years. What makes the assurance the more strong is that habit becomes more powerful with each effort and each action. Every day the good habits we have formed and are exercising become more deeply rooted in the soil of the soul.

2. The assurance of the common experience of mankind.

III. THE NECESSARY LIMIT. Not the very best training of the very wisest parents in the world can positively secure goodness and wisdom in their children. For when they have done everything in their power, there must remain that element of individuality which will choose its own course and form its own character. Our children may choose to reject the truth we teach them, and to slight the example we set them, and to despise the counsel we give them. In the will of every child there is a power which cannot be forced, which can only be won. Therefore:

1. Let all parents seek, beside training their children in good habits, to win their hearts to that Divine Wisdom in whose friendship and service alone will they be safe. Where sagacity may fail, affection will triumph. Command and persuasion are the two weapons which parental wisdom will do its best to wield.

2. Let all children understand that for their character and their destiny they must themselves be responsible. All the very worthiest and wisest influences of home will lead to no good result it' they oppose to them a rebellious spirit, if they do not receive them in the spirit of docility. There is but one gate of entrance into life, and that is the personal, individual acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of the spirit. The parent may lead his child up to it, but that child must pass through it of his own accord. - C.

I. SLOTH. (Ver. 13.) It is full of ridiculous excuses here satirized. While a noble energy refuses to own the word "impossible," it is ever on the lips of the indolent. As in the Arabic fable of the ostrich, or "camel bird," they said to it, "Carry!" It answered, "I cannot, for I am a bird." They said, "Fly!" It answered, "I cannot, for I am a camel." Always, "I cannot!" He who in false regard to his own soul refuses to go out into the world and do God's work, will end by corrupting and losing his soul itself (John 12:25).

II. PROFLIGACY. (Ver. 14.) Lust digs its own grave. Health goes, reputation follows, and presently the life, self-consumed by the deadly fire, sinks into ruin and ashes. If men saw how plainly the curse of God is written on vice, it would surely become as odious to them as to him.

III. UNGOVERNED FOLLY. (Ver. 15.) Nothing mere pitiable than an old fool, whose folly seems to stand in clear relief against the background of years. Hence, again, the urgent need of firm discipline for the young. And what occasion for thankfulness to him who, in his wise chastisements, will not "let us alone," but prunes and tills the soul by affliction, and plucks up our follies by the root!

IV. OPPRESSIVENESS. (Ver. 16.) To become rich at the expense of other's loss is no real gain. The attempt cuts at the root of sound trade and true sociality. Hastily gotten will hardly be honestly gotten. The Spaniards say, "He who will be rich in a year, at the half-year they hang him." Mammon, which more than anything else men are tempted to think God does not concern himself about, is given and taken away by him according to his righteousness - given sometimes to his enemies and for their greater punishment, that under its fatal influence they may grow worse and worse (Trench). - J.

Few things are oftener on human lips than excuses. Men are continually excusing themselves from doing what they know in their hearts they ought to do. There is no sphere from which they are excluded, and there is hardly any evil to which they do not lead.

I. THE SPHERES IS WHICH THEY ARE FOUND. The child excuses himself from the obedience which he should be rendering to his parents; the scholar, from the application he should be giving to his studies; the apprentice, from the attention he should be devoting to his business; the agriculturist, from the labour he should be putting forth in the fields; the captain, from setting sail on the troubled waters; the unsuccessful tradesman or merchant, from investigating his books and seeing how he really stands; the failing manufacturer, from closing his mill; the statesman from bringing forward his perilous measure; the minister, from seeking his delicate and difficult interview; the soul not yet reconciled to God, from a searching inquiry into its own spiritual condition and present obligation.


1. There is a decided ingredient of falsehood about them. Those who fashion them know in their hearts that there is something, if not much, that is imaginary about them. The lion is not without; the slothful man wilt not be slain in the streets. The evil which is anticipated in all cases of excuse is exaggerated, if it is not invented. We do not, at such times, tell ourselves the whole, truth; we "deceive our own selves."

2. There is something of meanness or unmanliness about them; we "let 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would.'" We allow a craven feeling of apprehension to enter in, to take possession, to prevail over our better self.

3. There is an element of disobedience and unfaithfulness. We shrink from doing the thing which is our duty to do; we relegate to the rear that which we should keep in the front; we prefer that which is agreeable to that which is obligatory; we obey the lower voice; we leave unfulfilled the will of God.


1. To have a very pitiable retrospect; to have to look back, self-condemned, on work left undone, on a life not well lived.

2. To lose all that might have been gained by energy and decision, and which has been lost by sloth and weakness. And who shall say what this amounts to in the years of a long life?

3. To miss the "Well done" of the Master, if not, indeed, to receive his final and sorrowful condemnation. - C.

I. THEY YIELD DIVINE PLEASURE (Ver. 18.) And all the pleasure of the world is not to be weighed against it. Let those who have "tasted of the good Word of God" bear their witness. The human soul is made for truth, and delights in it. There is pleasure in grasping a mathematical demonstration or a scientific law; and the successful inquirer may shout his "Eureka!" with joy over every fresh discovery. But above all, "how charming is Divine philosophy!" - that which traces the clear path of virtue, warns against vice, shows the eternal reward of the former and the doom of the latter, Received with the appetite of faith, Divine truth is food most sweet.

II. THEY LEAD US ON TO CONFIDENCE IN GOD. (Ver. 19.) And this is our true foundation. He is Jehovah, the Eternal One. He is the Constant One. His Name is the expression of mercy, of truth, and of justice. To love and to trust him is to be in living intercourse with all that is true and beautiful and good.

III. THEY ARE RICH IN MANIFOLD INSTRUCTION. (Ver. 20.) They are "princely words," i.e. of the highest and noblest dignity. Prone to sink into the commonplace, the mean, the impure, they lift us to high views of our calling, our duty, and oar destiny.

IV. THEY PRODUCE, JUSTICE OF THOUGHT AND SOUNDNESS OF SPEECH. (Ver. 21.) Thought and speech together form the garment of the soul. It is only the living sap of God's truth within us which can impart greenness and beauty, blossom and fruit, to the life. As water rises to the level from which it descended, so does all truth received into the soul go back in some form to the imparter, in thanks and in blessing. - J.

I. RELATIONS TO THE POOR. (Vers. 22, 23.)

1. Robbery and oppression are a breach of the positive external law (Exodus 20:15), much more of the inward and eternal law written in the heart, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

2. The perversion of law and magisterial authority to this end is an aggravation of the offence. It makes the refuge of the poor the market for bribery.

3. Above all, such oppression shows contempt for the authority of God. Among his titles to the throne of the world are these - that he is Protector of the helpless, Father of the fatherless, Judge of widows. The judgment on Ahab and the Captivity in Babylon (1 Kings 21:18-24; Isaiah 33:1) may be referred to as examples of retributive judgment on the spoilers of the poor.

II. AGAINST ASSOCIATION WITH PASSIONATE AND PRECIPITATE MEN. (Vers. 24, 28.) It is a contagious temper. How soon is the habit of hot and violent language caught up from another! It is a dangerous temper. "Never anger made good guard for itself." It becomes more hurtful than the injury which provoked it. It is often an affected temper, compounded of pride and folly, and an intention to do commonly more mischief than it can bring to pass.

III. AGAINST THE RASH INCURRING OF LIABILITIES. (Vers. 26, 27; see on Proverbs 6:1-4; Proverbs 11:15; Proverbs 17:18; Proverbs 20:16.)

IV. AGAINST THE REMOVAL OF THE OLD LANDMARKS. (Ver. 28. See the express commands of the Law, Deuteronomy 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:17; Job 24:2; Hosea 5:10.) A strict respect for the righits of others is the foundation of all social order. And connected with this is the duty of respect for the feelings for what is ancient and time honoured. There should be no violent change in old customs of life and thought. Necessity may compel them; caprice should never dictate them. A spirit ever restless and bent on innovation is a nuisance in society. The existence of a custom is a proof of its meaning and relative worth; until it is discerned that the significance is now a false one, it should not be swept away.


1. A man must know his business in the world. This is determined partly by his talents, partly by providential circumstances. "Know thy work "is as important a precept as "Know thyself."

2. He must be diligent in his business, doing "with his might" what his band finds to do, laboring "with both hands earnestly" in every good cause.

3. The result will be advancement and honour. We have shining examples in Joseph, Nehemiah, Daniel. Ability and capacity are no less acquired than natural; use alone fully brings to light the talent, and to it Providence opens the suitable sphere of activity. Men may seem to be failures in this world who are not really so. He alone can judge of the fidelity of the heart who is to utter at the end of the sentence, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" "Many that are first will be last, and the last first." - J.

The text clearly refers to the ancient division of property by which the land was carefully marked out, and each family had its own proper share. The man who removed these boundaries in his own material interest was simply appropriating what did not belong to him. Perhaps "the removal of the ancient landmark" became a proverbial phrase to signify any serious departure from rectitude. It will be worth while to consider -


1. A change in social customs. It is found by experience that we are all the better for leaving certain usages behind us. We outgrow them, and they become hindrances rather than aids to us.

2. The remodelling of old institutions. The time comes when the old order changes, giving place to new, by common consent and to the general advantage. With new methods, new organizations, there may come new life and renewed power.

3. The change of religious vocabulary. There is nothing wrong in putting the old doctrine in new forms; indeed, it becomes more living and more telling when uttered in the language of the time. Ancient phraseology is to be respected, but it is not sacred; it may and must give place to new.

4. The modification of Christian doctrine; not, indeed, a change of "the faith once delivered to the saints" - a departure from "the truth as it is in Jesus," but such a varying account and statement of it as comes with increased light from the study of nature or of man, and with further reverent research of the Word of God. But what is -

II. THE WRONG WHICH IS HERE FORBIDDEN. It is all criminal selfishness, more especially such as that referred to - the appropriation of land by immoral means, or the securing of any kind of property by tampering with a deed or other document. It may include the act of obtaining any advantage in any direction whatever by means that are dishonourable and unworthy. In all such cases we need the ear to hear a Divine, "Thou shalt not." To act thus is a sin and a mistake. It is:

1. To disobey the voice of the Lord, who emphatically denounces it. Especially does God rebuke and threaten the wronging of the poor and feeble because they are such; to do this is to add meanness and cowardice to selfishness and crime (see vers. 16, 22).

2. To injure ourselves far more seriously and irremediably than we hurt our neighbour. It is to lose the favour of God, the approval of our own conscience, and the esteem of the fast. - C.

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