The Wretchedness of a Wavering Mind
Genesis 49:4
Unstable as water, you shall not excel; because you went up to your father's bed; then defiled you it: he went up to my couch.

I. Now the condition of a man who is divided between two contrary ways of life, between virtue and vice, godliness and irreligion, is CERTAINLY VERY WRETCHED AND DEPLORABLE.

1. This doubtful, uncertain way of living and thinking proceeds from a mean state of mind, such as is beneath the dignity of human nature.

2. But the dignity of our nature, is a consideration capable of touching but few. Let us go on therefore to more plain and affecting considerations. For such an unsettled temper of mind as we have described creates a great deal of trouble and disturbance to the man who is so unhappy as to be master of it.

3. But further, such a temper, so distracted between contrary inclinations and practices, is mischievous to a man in point of interest as well as ease. For it renders him unfit for all the affairs and business of life; incapable of forming advantageous designs with confidence, or of persecuting them with effect.

4. But these are slight inconveniences, in comparison of what follows; that such a wavering, uncertain temper of mind is utterly inconsistent with the terms of salvation, and the hopes of eternal happiness. For it is not an holiness taken up by fits and starts that can carry a man to heaven. It must be a constant regular principle, influencing us throughout, that must do that.

II. Secondly, to persuade the man that is thus bewildered To RETRIEVE HIMSELF BY SERIOUS CONSIDERATION, AS SOON AS IS POSSIBLE; AND TO FIX A SURE PRINCIPLE OF VIRTUE IN HIS MIND, THAT MAY GUIDE AND GOVERN HIM THROUGHOUT, AND MAKE HIM UNIFORMLY WISE AND HOLY. For which purpose I shall take leave to recommend two or three plain but useful considerations.

1. And first, he that sets about this work must be sure that his belief is right and sound at the bottom. For it is generally the uncertainty and waveringness of this that produces all that unevenness and disorder in the life and practice of mankind.

2. In the next place, consider well what that particular weight was, that in the days of his irresolution still hung upon him, and clogged all his virtuous endeavours.

3. When he has thus settled his faith upon good ground, and armed himself well against that sin which does so easily beset him (Hebrews 12:1), he must take care not to suffer himself to come within reach of anything that may anyways unfasten his resolutions, whilst they are yet young and tender.

4. If to these endeavours he joins fervent and unwearied prayer to Almighty God for the aids and support of His grace, he shall assuredly from thence be made perfect at last, be established, strengthened, settled. He shall have a new heart created in him, that shall enable him to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).

(Bp. Atterbury.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.

WEB: Boiling over as water, you shall not excel; because you went up to your father's bed, then defiled it. He went up to my couch.

The Prophecy Respecting Reuben
Top of Page
Top of Page