Wisdom, like an inheritance, is good, and it benefits those who see the sun.
The matter in controversy is, the pre-eminence of the former times above the present; when we must observe, that though the words run in the form of a question, yet they include a positive assertion, and a downright censure.
The precise meaning of ver. 11 is rather difficult to catch. The Hebrew words can be translated either as, "Wisdom is good with an inheritance" (Authorized Version), or, "Wisdom is good as an inheritance" (Revised Version); and it is instructive to notice that the earlier English version has in the margin the translation which the Revisers have put in the text, and that the Revisers have put in the margin the earlier rendering, as possibly correct. Both companies of translators are equally in doubt in the matter. It is a case, therefore, in which one must use one's individual judgment, and decide as to which rendering is to be preferred from the general sense of the whole passage. Our author, then, is speaking of two things which are profitable in life - "for them that see the sun" (ver. 11) - wisdom and riches; and as he gives the preference to the former in ver. 12 - "the excellency of knowledge is that wisdom preserveth the life of him that hath it" - we are inclined to think that that is his view all through. And, therefore, though in themselves the translations given of the first clause in the passage are about equally balanced, this consideration is in our opinion weighty enough to turn the scale in favor of that in the Revised Version. Two things, therefore, there are which in different ways provide means of security against some of the ills of life, which afford some "compensation for the misery" of our condition - wisdom and riches. By wisdom a man may to some extent forecast the future, anticipate the coming storm, and take measures for shielding himself against some or all of the evils it brings in its train. Like the unjust steward who acted "wisely," he can win friends who will receive him in the hour of need. By riches, too, he can stave off many of the hardships which the poor man is compelled to endure; he can secure many benefits which will alleviate the sufferings he cannot avert. But of the two wisdom is the more excellent; "it giveth life" (or "bestoweth life," Revised Version) "to them that have it." "It can quicken a life within; it can give salt and savor to that which wealth may only deaden and make insipid" (Bradley). And surely by "wisdom" here we are not to understand mere prudence, but rather that Heaven-born faculty, that control of man's spirit by a higher power, which leads him to make the fear of God the guide of his conduct. And in order to understand wherein it consists, and what are the benefits it secures, we may identify the quality here praised with "that wisdom that cometh from above," which all through the Word of God is described as the source of all excellence, the fountain of all happiness (Proverbs 3:13-18
; Proverbs 4:13
; Proverbs 8:32-36
; John 6:63
; John 17:3
; 2 Corinthians 3:6
). - J.W.
Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these?
On the whole we may confidently affirm that the world improves, and yet in certain moods we are apt to regard its conditions as increasingly desperate. Thus is it sometimes with our religious life — we mistake the signs of progress for those of retrogression, and through this mistake de injustice to ourselves.
1. "I am not so happy as I once was," is a lament from Christian lips with which we are almost distressingly familiar. We look back to our conversion, to the glittering joy which welled up in our soul in those days, and the memory moves us to tears. Then "all things were apparelled in celestial light, the glory and the freshness of a dream." Then we turn to consider the present phases of our experience, and conclude sadly that we are not so happy now as then — all the gold has changed to grey. Now, is this really so? We fully allow that it may be so. Through unfaithfulness we may have lost the joy and power of the days when first we knew the Lord. But may not the mournful inference be mistaken, and what we regard as a diminished happiness be really a profounder blessedness? The essence of religion is submission to the will of God, and that grave tranquillity of mind which follows upon deeper self-renunciation, the chastened cheerfulness which survives the strain and strife of years, is a real, although not perhaps seeming, gain upon the first sparkling experiences of our devout life.
2. "I am not so holy as I once was," is another note of self-depreciation with which we are unhappily familiar, and with which, perhaps, we are sometimes disposed to sympathize. When we first realized forgiveness, we felt that there was "no condemnation" if the Spirit of God seemed to hallow our whole nature; our heart was cleansed, and strangely glowed. But it is not so now. We have not done all we meant to do, not been all we meant to be, and have a consciousness of imperfection more vivid than ever. With the lapse of years we have grown more dissatisfied with ourselves; and this more acute sense of worldliness leads us to the conclusion that we have lest the rarer purity of other days. Once more we admit that this may be the case. There may be a very real depreciation in our life; we may have allowed our raiment to be soiled by the world and the flesh. But may not this growing sense of imperfection be a sign of the perfecting of our spirit? It may be that we are not less pure than formerly, only the Spirit of God has been opening our eyes, heightening our sensibility, and faults once latent are now discovered; the clearer vision detects deformities, the finer ear discords, the pure taste admixtures which were once unsuspected. It is possible to be growing in moral strength and grace, in everything that constitutes perfection of character and life, when appearances are decidedly to the contrary. Watch the sculptor and note how many of his strokes seem to mar the image on which he works, rendering the marble more unshapely than it seemed the moment before, and yet in the end a glorious statue rises under his hand; so the blows of God, bringing us into glorious grace, often seem as if they were marring what little symmetry belonged to us, often as if knocking us out of shape altogether.
3. "I do not love God as I once did," is another sorrowful confession of the soul. How glowing was that first level Your whole soul went out after the Beloved! But it is not so now. The temperature of your soul seems to have fallen, your love to your God and Saviour does not glow as in those memorable hours when first it was kindled "by the spirit of burning." Once again, it may be so. The Church at Ephesus had "left" its "first love," and we may not cherish the same fervid affection for God which once filled and purified our heart. But may we not misconceive the love we bear to God? Our more dispassionate affection may be equally genuine and positively stronger. Our love to God may not be so gushing, so florid in expression as it once was, but in this it only bears the sober hue of all ripened things.(1) The test of love is sacrifice. We love those for whose sake we are prepared to suffer. Will our love to God to-day bear this test? Would we for His sake endure hardship, death? Many sorrowing souls know they are ready to die for Him whom they cannot love as they feel He ought to be loved.(2) The test of love is obedience. We love those to. whom we pay ungrudging service. "If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." Here, once more, are we sure of ourselves? We "have not wickedly departed from" our God. Is it not the supreme purpose of our heart to bring life into entire harmony with the will of God?(3) The test of love is confidence. We love those whom we trust. Do we not feel, then, that God has our confidence so thoroughly that even if He "slay" us, yet will we trust in Him? "Red-hot religion" has its place and value, but white-hot religion, the silent, intense force which acts without sparks, smoke or noise, is a diviner thing. Is it thus with our love to God? Has that passion simply changed from red to white? Has the sentiment become a principle, the ecstasy a habit, the passion a law? If so, the former days were not better than these.
4. "I do not make the rapid progress I once did," is another familiar regret. Once we had the pleasing sense of swift and perpetual progress. Each day we went from strength to strength, each night knew our "moving tent a day's march nearer home." But we have not that sense of progress now, and this fact is to us, perhaps, a great grief. Our grief may be well founded; for those who "did run well" are sometimes "hindered" and fall into slowest pace. Yet impatience with our rate of progress is capable of another construction. Our first experiences of the Christian life are in such direct and striking contradistinction to the earthly life that our sense of progress is most vivid and delightful; but as we climb heaven, get nearer God, traverse the infinite depths of love and righteousness sown with all the stars of light, the sense of progress may well be less definite than when we had just left the world behind. And in considering our rate of progress, we must not forget that the sense of progress is regulated by the desire for progress.
What a softening power there is in distance; how often an object, on which you gazed with great delight while beheld afar off, will lose its attractiveness when it is brought near. Every admirer of the natural landscape is thoroughly conscious of this. Now, we are inclined to suppose that there is much the same power in distance, with regard to what we may call the moral landscape, which is so universally acknowledged with regard to the natural. We believe that what is rough becomes so softened, and what is hard so mellowed through being viewed in the retrospect, that we are hardly fair judges of much on which we bestow unqualified admiration. If, however, it were only the softening power of distance which had to be taken into the account, it might be necessary to caution men against judging without making allowance for this power, but we should scarcely have to charge it upon them as a fault, that they looked so complacently on what was far back. But from one cause or another men become disgusted with the days in which their lot is cast, and are therefore disposed to the concluding that past days were better. Whence does it arise that old people are so fond of talking of the degeneracy of the times, and referring to the days when they were young, as days when all things were in a healthier and more pleasing condition? If you were to put implicit faith in the representations you would conclude that there was nothing which had not changed for the worse, and that it was indeed a great misfortune that you had not been born half a century sooner. And here comes into play the precept of our text — "Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this." To quote the words of a brilliant modern historian: "The more carefully we examine the history of the past, the more reason shall we find to dissent from those who imagine that our ago has been fruitful of new social evils. The truth is, that the evils are, with scarcely an exception, old. That which is new is the intelligence which discerns them, and the humanity which relieves them." But we shall speak only of the religious advantages of different times, in endeavouring to prove "that the former days" were not "better than these."
1. And first, it ought to be carefully observed in regard of human nature that it did not grow corrupt by degrees, but became all at once as bad as it was ever to be. The being who had been formed in the very image of his Maker became instantly capable of the most heinous of crimes; and so far was human nature from requiring long familiarity with wickedness, in order to the learning to commit it in its most atrocious shapes, that well nigh its first essay after apostatizing from God was one which still fills us with horror, notwithstanding our daily acquaintance with a thousand foul deeds. Sin was never an infant; it was a giant in the very birth; and forasmuch as we should have had precisely the same evil nature whensoever we had lived, it would be very hard to show that any former period would have been better for us than the present. You may fix on a time when there was apparently less of open wickedness, but this would not necessarily have been a better time for individual piety. The religion of the heart, perhaps, flourishes most when there is most to move to zeal for the insulted law of God. Or you may fix upon a time when there was apparently less of misery; but we need not say that this would not necessarily have been a better time for growth in Christian holiness, seeing that confessedly it is amidst the deepest sorrows that the strongest virtues are produced. So that if a man regard himself as a candidate for immortality, we can defy him to put his finger on an age of the past, in which, as compared with the present, it would necessarily have been more advantageous for him to live.
2. Now, we are quite aware that this general statement does not exactly meet the several points which will suggest themselves to an inquiring mind; but we propose to examine next certain of the reasons which might be likely to lead men to a different conclusion from that which seems stated in our text. And here again we must narrow the field of inquiry, and confine ourselves to points in which, as Christians, we have an especial interest. Would any former days have been better days for us, estimating the superiority by the superior facilities for believing the Christian religion, and acquiring the Christian character? In answering such a question, we must take separately the evidences and the truths of our holy religion. And first, as to the evidences. There is a very common and a very natural feeling with regard to the evidences of Christianity, that they must have been much stronger and much clearer, as presented to those who lived in the times of our Lord and of His apostles, than as handed down to ourselves through a long succession of witnesses. Many are disposed to imagine that if with their own eyes they could see miracles wrought, they should have a proof on the side of Christianity far more convincing than any which they actually have, and that there would be no room whatever for a lingering doubt if they stood by a professed teacher from God, whilst he stilled the tempest, or raised the dead. Why should such superior power be supposed to reside in the seeing a miracle? The only thing to be sure about is, that the miracle has been wrought. There are two ways of gaining this assurance: the one is by the testimony of the senses, the other is by the testimony of competent witnesses. The first, the testimony of the senses, is granted to the spectator of a miracle; only the second, the testimony of witnesses, to those who are not present at the performance. But shall it be said that the latter must necessarily be less satisfactory than the former? Shall it be said that those who have not visited Constantinople cannot be as certain that there is such a city as others who have? The testimony of witnesses may be every jot as conclusive as the testimony of your own senses. Though, even if we were forced to concede that the spectator of a miracle has necessarily a superiority over those to whom the miracle travels down in the annals of well-attested history, we should be far enough from allowing that there is less evidence now on the side of Christianity than was granted to the men of some preceding age. Let it be, that the evidence of miracle is not so clear and powerful as it was; what is to be said of the evidence of prophecy? Who will venture to deny, that as century has rolled away after century, fresh witness has been given to the Bible by the' accomplishment of the predictions recorded in its pages? The stream of evidence has been like that beheld in mystic vision by Ezekiel, when waters issued out from the eastern gate of the temple. Yes, the Christian religion now appeals to mightier proofs than when it first engaged in combat with the superstitions of the world. Its own protracted existence, its own majestic triumphs, witness for it with a voice far more commanding than that which was heard when its first preachers called to the dead, and were answered by their starting into life. Away, then, with the thought that it would have been better for those who are dissatisfied with the evidences of Christianity, had they lived when Christianity was first promulgated on earth.
1. That it is ridiculous to ask why former times are better than the present, if really they are not better, and so the very supposition itself proves false; this is too apparently manifest to be matter of dispute: and that it is false we shall endeavour to prove.(1) By reason: because there were the same objects to work upon men, and the same dispositions and inclinations in men to be wrought upon, before, that there are now. All the affairs of the world are the births and issue of men's actions; and all actions come from the meeting and collision of faculties with suitable objects. There were then the same incentives of desire on the one side, the same attractiveness in riches, the same relish in sovereignty, the same temptation in beauty, the same delicacy in meats and taste in wines; and, on the other side, there were the same appetites of covetousness and ambition, the same fuel of lust and intemperance.(2) The same may be proved by history, and the records of antiquity; and he who would give it the utmost proof that it is capable of from this topic must speak volumes, and preach libraries, bring a century within a line, and an age into every period. Is the wickedness of the old world forgot, that we do so aggravate the tempest of this? In those clays there were giants in sin, at well as sinners of the first magnitude, and of the largest size and proportion. And to take the world in a lower epochs, what after-age could exceed the lust of the Sodomites, the idolatry and tyranny of the Egyptians, the fickle levity of the Grecians? and that monstrous mixture of all baseness in the Roman Nerds, Caligulas, and Domitians, emperors of the world, and slaves to their vice? I conceive the state of the Christian Church also may come within the compass of our present discourse. Take it in its infancy, and with the properties of infancy, it was weak and naked, vexed with poverty, torn with persecution, and infested with heresy. It began the breach with Simon Magus, continued it with Arius, Nestorius, Eutyches, Aerius, some rending her doctrine, some her discipline; and what are the heresies that now trouble it, but new editions of the old with further gloss and enlargement?
2. I shall now take it in a lower respect; as a case disputable, whether the preceding or succeeding generations are to be preferred; and here I shall dispute the matter on both sides.(1) And first for antiquity, and the former ages, we may plead thus. Certainly everything is purest in the fountain and most untainted in the original. The dregs are still the most likely to settle in the bottom, and to sink into the last ages. The world cannot but be the worse for wearing; and it must needs have contracted much dross, when at the last it cannot be purged but by a universal fire.(2) But secondly, for the pre-eminence of the succeeding ages above the former, it may be disputed thus: If the honour be due to antiquity, then certainly the present age must claim it, for the world is now oldest, and therefore upon the very right of seniority may challenge the precedency; for certainly, the longer the world lasts, the older it grows. And if wisdom ought to be respected, we know that it is the offspring of experience, and experience the child of age and continuance. In every thing and action it is not the beginning, but the end that is regarded: it is still the issue that crowns the work, and the Amen that seals the petition: the plaudite is given to the last act: and Christ reserved the best wine to conclude the feast; nay, a fair beginner would be but the aggravation of a bad end. And if we plead original, we know that sin is strongest in its original; and we are taught whence to date that. The lightest things float at the top of time, but if there be such a thing as a golden age, its mass and weight must needs sink it to the bottom and concluding ages of the world. In sum, it was the fulness of time which brought Christ into the world; Christianity was a reserve for the last: and it was the beginning of time which was infamous for man's fall and ruin; so, in Scripture, they are called the "last days" and the "ends of the world," which are ennobled with his redemption. But lastly, if the following ages were not the best, whence is it that the older men grow the more still they desire to live? Now such things as these may be disputed in favour of the latter times beyond the former.
3. That admitting this supposition as true, that the former ages are really the best, and to be preferred: yet still this querulous reflection upon the evil of the present times, stands obnoxious to the same charge of folly: and, if it be condemned also upon this supposition, I see not where it can take sanctuary. Now that it ought to be so, I demonstrate by these reasons.(1) Because such complaints have no efficacy to alter or remove the cause of them: thoughts and words alter not the state of things. The rage and expostulations of discontent are like a thunder without a thunderbolt, they vanish and expire into noise and nothing; and, like a woman, are only loud and weak.(2) Such complaints of the evil of the times are irrational, because they only quicken the smart, and add to the pressure. Such querulous invectives against a standing government are like a stone flung at a marble pillar, which not only makes no impression upon that, but rebounds and hits the flinger in the face.(3) These censorious complaints of the evil of the times are irrational, because the just cause of them is resolvable into ourselves. It is not the times that debauch men, but men that derive and rob a contagion upon the time: and it is still the liquor that first taints and infects the vessel.
()As we grow older we are more prone to look back into the past. Our best days and brightest hours are those which have long since passed away. Most of the old poets have written and sung of a golden age. But it was away in the distant past. They have pictured it near the world's beginning, in the days when the human race was yet in its youth. And so every nation has had its fancied golden age. Dreamers have dreamed of its charms. A time of peace, and love, and joy, when the earth yielded all manner of fruits and flowers, and all nations lived together in harmony and peace. And the Bible, too, tells of a golden age in the far distant past. As our thoughts go back to that blessed time, we can scarcely refrain from asking bitterly, "What is the cause that the former days were better than these?" But in our text the wise man cautions us that we do not inquire wisely concerning this. The tree is beautiful when it is covered with blossoms. But is it not a richer, though a different kind of beauty, when in autumn it is loaded with delicious fruit? The morning is beautiful when the rising sun bathes stream and flood, hill and dale with his glorious beams. But is it not another and a higher kind of beauty when, at the close of day, the sun is slowly sinking in the west, like a king dying on a couch of gold, and the fading hues of even light up the whole heavens with a glory that seems to have come down from the New Jerusalem! The field is beautiful when the fresh green blades appear, like a new creation, life out of death. But it is another and a higher order of beauty when, instead of the fresh young blade, you have the rich golden harvest. The spring is beautiful with all its stores of bloom and fragrance and song. But is it not a higher beauty, a more advanced perfection when the bloom of spring has given place to the golden sheaves and plentiful stores of autumn? Life's opening years may be beautiful, but its close may be glorious. You may have seen the raw recruit, fresh from his country home, setting out to join the war in a distant land. His laurels are yet unsullied. The keen edge of his sword has never yet been blunted. See him years afterward, when he comes home, after a long service in some foreign land. His clothes are tattered and torn; his colours are in rags; his steps are feeble and tottering; his brow is seamed and scarred; his sword is broken. He seems but the wreck, the mere shadow of his former self. But in all that is true, and noble, and unselfish, he is a braver and a better man. His courage has been tried. The tinsel has been lost, but the fine gold all remains. And so is it with the youthful Christian. In the first days of his profession, when he has given his heart to Jesus for the first time, all his graces seem so fresh and lovely All his being is filled with joy unspeakable. Years pass on. The young professor grows into the aged Christian. His graces do not now seem so fresh and beautiful as they did forty or fifty years ago. His feelings do not flow out so steadily toward the Saviour whom he loves, nor do the tears come as freely now as they did long ago when he sits down at the table of the Lord. You would say that in his ease the former days were better than these. But you do not inquire wisely concerning this. His last days are his best days. The blossoms may have perished, but you have in their stead the mellow, luscious fruit. The golden age of a nation is not always behind, lost in the myths of its earliest existence. Years of conflict, ages of revolution, centuries of daring and doing nobly, freedom's battle bequeathed by bleeding sire to son, through long decades of stern resistance to all oppression and tyranny. It is through such a fiery discipline as this that a nation becomes truly great in all those qualities that ennoble them in the sight of God. When they stand up as the champions of right, the defenders of the oppressed, then are they entering on their true golden age, the perfection of their national existence. Nor is it true in regard to the world that its former days were better than these. Its golden age has not all passed away. A still more glorious golden age awaits it in the ages that are to come. The curse of sin is to be fully and for ever removed. The old earth is to pass away. The destroying fire will burn out the footprints of evil And God will make all things new. A new heaven and a new earth.
TopicsAdvantage, Along, Beholding, Benefits, Excellent, Heritage, Inheritance, Profit, Profitable, Wisdom, Yea, Yes
Outline1. remedies against vanity are, a good name
23. The difficulty of wisdom
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEcclesiastes 7:10
LibraryFinis Coronat Opus
'Better is the end of a thing than the beginning.'--ECCLES. vii. 8. This Book of Ecclesiastes is the record of a quest after the chief good. The Preacher tries one thing after another, and tells his experiences. Amongst these are many blunders. It is the final lesson which he would have us learn, not the errors through which he reached it. 'The conclusion of the whole matter' is what he would commend to us, and to it he cleaves his way through a number of bitter exaggerations and of partial truths …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
A Preservative against Unsettled Notions, and Want of Principles, in Regard to Righteousness and Christian Perfection
Ecclesiastes 7:16 -- "Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?" To all the Members of Christ's Holy Church. Dear Fellow Christians, The great, and indeed the only motive which prompted me to publish this sermon, was the desire of providing for your security from error, at a time when the deviators from, and false pretenders to truth, are so numerous, that the most discerning find it a matter of the greatest difficulty to avoid being led astray …
George Whitefield—Selected Sermons of George Whitefield
What the Scriptures Principally Teach: the Ruin and Recovery of Man. Faith and Love Towards Christ.
2 Tim. i. 13.--"Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." Here is the sum of religion. Here you have a compend of the doctrine of the Scriptures. All divine truths may be reduced to these two heads,--faith and love; what we ought to believe, and what we ought to do. This is all the Scriptures teach, and this is all we have to learn. What have we to know, but what God hath revealed of himself to us? And what have we to do, but what …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
Eusebius' Accession to the Bishopric of Cæsarea.
Not long after the close of the persecution, Eusebius became bishop of Cæsarea in Palestine, his own home, and held the position until his death. The exact date of his accession cannot be ascertained, indeed we cannot say that it did not take place even before the close of the persecution, but that is hardly probable; in fact, we know of no historian who places it earlier than 313. His immediate predecessor in the episcopate was Agapius, whom he mentions in terms of praise in H. E. VII. 32. …
Eusebius Pamphilius—Church History
Sources and Literature
Acacius, the pupil and successor of Eusebius in the bishopric of Cæsarea, wrote a life of the latter (Socr. H. E. II. 4) which is unfortunately lost. He was a man of ability (Sozomen H. E. III. 2, IV. 23) and had exceptional opportunities for producing a full and accurate account of Eusebius' life; the disappearance of his work is therefore deeply to be regretted. Numerous notices of Eusebius are found in the works of Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, Athanasius, Jerome, and other writers of his …
Eusebius Pamphilius—Church History
The Outbreak at Benares.
At no place was the shock felt more severely than at Benares, where I was residing with my family. In no place was the danger greater. We were living in the suburbs of the most superstitious and fanatical city in the land. Again and again during the eighty years of our rule there had been riots in the city, professedly to avenge religious wrongs--riots so formidable, that they were quelled by military force. A very few years previous to 1857 the city was thrown into violent commotion, in consequence …
James Kennedy—Life and Work in Benares and Kumaon, 1839-1877
Of the First Covenant Made with Man
Gen. ii. 17.--"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die."--Gen. i. 26.--"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." The state wherein man was created at first, you heard was exceeding good,--all …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
Covenanting Adapted to the Moral Constitution of Man.
The law of God originates in his nature, but the attributes of his creatures are due to his sovereignty. The former is, accordingly, to be viewed as necessarily obligatory on the moral subjects of his government, and the latter--which are all consistent with the holiness of the Divine nature, are to be considered as called into exercise according to his appointment. Hence, also, the law of God is independent of his creatures, though made known on their account; but the operation of their attributes …
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting
Q-15: WHAT WAS THE SIN WHEREBY OUR FIRST PARENTS FELL FROM THE ESTATE WHEREIN THEY WERE CREATED? A: That sin was eating the forbidden fruit. 'She took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband.' Gen 3:3. Here is implied, 1. That our first parents fell from their estate of innocence. 2. The sin by which they fell, was eating the forbidden fruit. I. Our first parents fell from their glorious state of innocence. God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.' Eccl …
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
Letter xxviii (Circa A. D. 1130) to the Abbots Assembled at Soissons
To the Abbots Assembled at Soissons  Bernard urges the abbots zealously to perform the duty for which they had met. He recommends to them a great desire of spiritual progress, and begs them not to be delayed in their work if lukewarm and lax persons should perhaps murmur. To the Reverend Abbots met in the name of the Lord in Chapter at Soissons, brother Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, the servant of their Holiness, health and prayer that they may see, establish, and observe the things which are …
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux
Sin Charged Upon the Surety
All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way, and the LORD hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. C omparisons, in the Scripture, are frequently to be understood with great limitation: perhaps, out of many circumstances, only one is justly applicable to the case. Thus, when our Lord says, Behold, I come as a thief (Revelation 16:15) , --common sense will fix the resemblance to a single point, that He will come suddenly, and unexpectedly. So when wandering sinners …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1
THE wild districts of Ireland were occupied with convents, after the example of Patrick, and cultivated by the hard labour of the monks. The Irish convents were distinguished by their strict Christian discipline, their diligence and their zeal in the study of the Scriptures, and of science in general, as far as they had the means of acquiring it. Irish monks brought learning from Britain and Gaul, they treasured up this learning and elaborated it in the solitude of the convent, and they are said …
Augustus Neander—Light in the Dark Places
VI. Objections answered. I will consider those passages of scripture which are by some supposed to contradict the doctrine we have been considering. 1 Kings viii. 46: "If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near," etc. On this passage, I remark:-- 1. That this sentiment in nearly the same language, is repeated in 2 Chron. vi. 26, and in Eccl. …
Charles Grandison Finney—Systematic Theology
How the Impatient and the Patient are to be Admonished.
(Admonition 10.) Differently to be admonished are the impatient and the patient. For the impatient are to be told that, while they neglect to bridle their spirit, they are hurried through many steep places of iniquity which they seek not after, inasmuch as fury drives the mind whither desire draws it not, and, when perturbed, it does, not knowing, what it afterwards grieves for when it knows. The impatient are also to be told that, when carried headlong by the impulse of emotion, they act in some …
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great
How to Make Use of Christ for Taking the Guilt of Our Daily Out-Breakings Away.
The next part of our sanctification is in reference to our daily failings and transgressions, committed partly through the violence of temptations, as we see in David and Peter, and other eminent men of God; partly through daily infirmities, because of our weakness and imperfections; for, "in many things we offend all," James iii. 2; and, "if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us," 1 John i. 8; "a righteous man falleth seven times," Prov. xxiv. 16; "there is not …
John Brown (of Wamphray)—Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life
The Christian Man
Scripture references: Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7; 9:6; Job 33:4; Psalm 100:3; 8:4-9; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Acts 17:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:7; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10; 1 Corinthians 15:45; Hebrews 2:6,7; Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 Corinthians 2:9. WHAT IS MAN? What Shall We Think of Man?--Who is he? What is his place on the earth and in the universe? What is his destiny? He is of necessity an object of thought. He is the subject of natural laws, instincts and passions. How far is he free; how far bound? …
Henry T. Sell—Studies in the Life of the Christian
The Work of Jesus Christ as an Advocate,
CLEARLY EXPLAINED, AND LARGELY IMPROVED, FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL BELIEVERS. 1 John 2:1--"And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." By JOHN BUNYAN, Author of "The Pilgrim's Progress." London: Printed for Dorman Newman, at the King's Arms, in the Poultry, 1689. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. This is one of the most interesting of Bunyan's treatises, to edit which required the Bible at my right hand, and a law dictionary on my left. It was very frequently republished; …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
An Essay on the Mosaic Account of the Creation and Fall of Man
THERE are not a few difficulties in the account, which Moses has given of the creation of the world, and of the formation, and temptation, and fall of our first parents. Some by the six days of the creation have understood as many years. Whilst others have thought the creation of the world instantaneous: and that the number of days mentioned by Moses is only intended to assist our conception, who are best able to think of things in order of succession. No one part of this account is fuller of difficulties, …
Nathaniel Lardner—An Essay on the Mosaic Account of the Creation and Fall of Man
A Believer's Privilege at Death
'For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.' Phil 1:1I. Hope is a Christian's anchor, which he casts within the veil. Rejoicing in hope.' Rom 12:12. A Christian's hope is not in this life, but he hash hope in his death.' Prov 14:42. The best of a saint's comfort begins when his life ends; but the wicked have all their heaven here. Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.' Luke 6:64. You may make your acquittance, and write Received in full payment.' Son, remember that …
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
Text: Romans 13, 8-10. 8 Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; love therefore is the fulfilment of the law. CHRISTIAN LOVE AND THE COMMAND TO LOVE. 1. This, like the two …
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II
"And we all do Fade as a Leaf, and Our Iniquities, Like the Wind, have Taken us Away. "
Isaiah lxiv. 6.--"And we all do fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Here they join the punishment with the deserving cause, their uncleanness and their iniquities, and so take it upon them, and subscribe to the righteousness of God's dealing. We would say this much in general--First, Nobody needeth to quarrel God for his dealing. He will always be justified when he is judged. If the Lord deal more sharply with you than with others, you may judge there is a difference …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
"Now the God of Hope Fill You with all Joy and Peace in Believing," &C.
Rom. xv. 13.--"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing," &c. It is usual for the Lord in his word to turn his precepts unto promises, which shows us, that the commandments of God do not so much import an ability in us, or suppose strength to fulfil them, as declare that obligation which lies upon us, and his purpose and intention to accomplish in some, what he requires of all: and therefore we should accordingly convert all his precepts unto prayers, seeing he hath made …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
"The Carnal Mind is Enmity against God for it is not Subject to the Law of God, Neither Indeed Can Be. So Then they that Are
Rom. viii. s 7, 8.--"The carnal mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." It is not the least of man's evils, that he knows not how evil he is, therefore the Searcher of the heart of man gives the most perfect account of it, Jer. xvii. 12. "The heart is deceitful above all things," as well as "desperately wicked," two things superlative and excessive in it, bordering upon an infiniteness, such …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
The Necessity of Actual Grace
In treating of the necessity of actual grace we must avoid two extremes. The first is that mere nature is absolutely incapable of doing any thing good. This error was held by the early Protestants and the followers of Baius and Jansenius. The second is that nature is able to perform supernatural acts by its own power. This was taught by the Pelagians and Semipelagians. Between these two extremes Catholic theology keeps the golden mean. It defends the capacity of human nature against Protestants and …
Joseph Pohle—Grace, Actual and Habitual
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