When the things of God are to be taught precept must be upon precept,
and line upon line, not only because the things themselves are of great
worth and weight, but because men's minds, at the best, are unapt to
admit them and commonly prejudiced against them; and therefore Solomon,
in this chapter, with a great variety of expression and a pleasant
powerful flood of divine eloquence, inculcates the same things that he
had pressed upon us in the foregoing chapters. Here is,
I. An earnest exhortation to the study of wisdom, that is, of true
religion and godliness, borrowed from the good instructions which his
father gave him, and enforced with many considerable arguments,
II. A necessary caution against bad company and all fellowship with the
unfruitful works of darkness,
III. Particular directions for the attaining and preserving of wisdom,
and bringing forth the fruits of it,
So plainly, so pressingly, is the case laid before us, that we shall be
for ever inexcusable if we perish in our folly.
1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to
2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.
3 For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the
sight of my mother.
4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain
my words: keep my commandments, and live.
5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither
decline from the words of my mouth.
6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and
she shall keep thee.
7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and
with all thy getting get understanding.
8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee
to honour, when thou dost embrace her.
9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of
glory shall she deliver to thee.
10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy
life shall be many.
11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in
12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when
thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.
13 Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her;
for she is thy life.
Here we have,
I. The invitation which Solomon gives to his children to come and
receive instruction from him
Hear, you children, the instruction of a father. That is,
1. "Let my own children, in the first place, receive and give good
heed to those instructions which I set down for the use of others
also." Note, Magistrates and ministers, who are entrusted with the
direction of larger societies, are concerned to take a more than
ordinary care for the good instruction of their own families; from this
duty their public work will by no means excuse them. This charity must
begin at home, though it must not end there; for he that has not his
children in subjection with all gravity, and does not take pains in
their good education, how shall he do his duty as he ought to the
church of God?
1 Timothy 3:4,5.
The children of those that are eminent for wisdom and public usefulness
ought to improve in knowledge and grace in proportion to the advantages
they derive from their relation to such parents. Yet it may be
observed, to save both the credit and the comfort of those parents
whose children do not answer the hopes that arose from their education,
that Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, was far from being either one of the
wisest or one of the best. We have reason to think that thousands have
got more good by Solomon's proverbs than his own son did, to whom they
seem to have been dedicated.
2. Let all young people, in the days of their childhood and youth, take
pains to get knowledge and grace, for that is their learning age, and
then their minds are formed and seasoned. He does not say, My
children, but You children. We read but of one son that Solomon
had of his own; but (would you think it?) he is willing to set up for a
schoolmaster, and to teach other people's children! for at that age
there is most hope of success; the branch is easily bent when it is
young and tender.
3. Let all that would receive instruction come with the disposition of
children, though they be grown persons. Let all prejudices be laid
aside, and the mind be as white paper. let them be dutiful, tractable,
and self-diffident, and take the word as the word of a father, which
comes both with authority and with affection. We must see it coming
from God as our Father in heaven, to whom we pray, from whom we
expect blessings, the Father of our spirits, to whom we ought to be in
subjection, that we may live. We must look upon our teachers as our
fathers, who love us and seek our welfare; and therefore though the
instruction carry in it reproof and correction, for so the word
signifies, yet we must bid it welcome. Now,
(1.) To recommend it to us, we are told, not only that it is the
instruction of a father, but that it is understanding,
and therefore should be welcome to intelligent creatures. Religion has
reason on its side, and we are taught it by fair reasoning. It is a law
but that law is founded upon doctrine, upon unquestionable principles
of truth, upon good doctrine, which is not only faithful, but
worthy of all acceptation. If we admit the doctrine, we cannot but
submit to the law.
(2.) To rivet it in us, we are directed to receive it as a gift, to
attend to it with all diligence, to attend so as to know it, for
otherwise we cannot do it, and not to forsake it by disowning the
doctrine or disobeying the law.
II. The instructions he gives them. Observe,
1. How he came by these instructions; he had them from his parents, and
teaches his children the same that they taught him,
(1.) His parents loved him, and therefore taught him: I was my
father's son. David had many sons, but Solomon was his son
indeed, as Isaac is called
and for the same reason, because on him the covenant was entailed. He
was his father's darling, above any of his children. God had a special
kindness for Solomon (the prophet called him Jedidiah, because
the Lord loved him,
2 Samuel 12:25),
and for that reason David had a special kindness for him, for he was a
man after God's own heart. If parents may ever love one child better
than another, it must not be till it plainly appears that God does so.
He was tender, and only beloved, in the sight of his mother.
Surely there was a manifest reason for making such a distinction when
both the parents made it. Now we see how they showed their love; they
catechised him, kept him to his book, and held him to a strict
discipline. Though he was a prince, and heir-apparent to the crown, yet
they did not let him live at large; nay, therefore they tutored him
thus. And perhaps David was the more strict with Solomon in his
education because he had seen the ill effects of an undue indulgence in
Adonijah, whom he had not crossed in any thing
(1 Kings 1:6),
as also in Absalom.
(2.) What his parents taught him he teaches others. Observe,
[1.] When Solomon was grown up he not only remembered, but took a
pleasure in repeating, the good lessons his parents taught him when he
was a child. He did not forget them, so deep were the impressions they
made upon him. He was not ashamed of them, such a high value had he for
them, nor did he look upon them as the childish things, the mean
things, which, when he became a man, a king, he should put away, as a
disparagement to him; much less did he repeat them: as some wicked
children have done, to ridicule them, and make his companions merry
with them, priding himself that he had got clear from grave lessons and
[2.] Though Solomon was a wise man himself, and divinely inspired, yet,
when he was to teach wisdom, he did not think it below him to quote his
father and to make use of his words. Those that would learn well, and
teach well, in religion, must not affect new-found notions and
new-coined phrases, so as to look with contempt upon the knowledge and
language of their predecessors; if we must keep to the good old way,
why should we scorn the good old words?
[3.] Solomon, having been well educated by his parents, thought himself
thereby obliged to give his children a good education, the same that
his parents had given him; and this is one way in which we must requite
our parents for the pains they took with us, even by showing piety at
1 Timothy 5:4.
They taught us, not only that we might learn ourselves, but that we
might teach our children, the good knowledge of God,
And we are false to a trust if we do not; for the sacred deposit of
religious doctrine and law was lodged in our hands with a charge to
transmit it pure and entire to those that shall come after us,
2 Timothy 2:2.
[4.] Solomon enforces his exhortations with the authority of his father
David, a man famous in his generation upon all accounts. Be it taken
notice of, to the honour of religion, that the wisest and best men in
every age have been most zealous, not only for the practice of it
themselves, but for the propagating of it to others; and we should
therefore continue in the things which we have learned, knowing of
whom we have learned them,
2 Timothy 3:14.
2. What these instructions were,
(1.) By way of precept and exhortation. David, in teaching his son,
though he was a child of great capacity and quick apprehension, yet to
show that he was in good earnest, and to affect his child the more with
what he said, expressed himself with great warmth and importunity, and
inculcated the same thing again and again. So children must be taught.
Thou shalt whet them diligently upon thy children. David, though
he was a man of public business, and had tutors for his son, took all
this pains with him himself.
[1.] He recommends to him his Bible and his catechism, as the means,
his father's words
the words of his mouth
all the good lessons he had taught him; and perhaps he means
particularly the book of Psalms, many of which were Maschils--psalms
of instruction, and two of them are expressly said to be for
Solomon. These, and all his other words, Solomon must have an eye
to. First, He must hear and receive them
diligently attend to them, and imbibe them, as the earth drinks in
the rain that comes often upon it,
God thus bespeaks our attention to his word: Hear, O my son! and
receive my sayings. Secondly, He must hold fast the form of
sound words which his father gave him
Let thy heart retain my words; and except the word be hid in the
heart, lodged in the will and affections, it will not be retained.
Thirdly, He must govern himself by them: Keep my
commandments, obey them, and that is the way to increase in the
knowledge of them,
Fourthly, He must stick to them and abide by them: "Decline
not from the words of my mouth
as fearing they will be too great a check upon thee, but take fast
hold of instruction
as being resolved to keep thy hold and never let it go." Those that
have a good education, though they strive to shake it off, will find it
hang about them a great while, and, if it do not, their case is very
[2.] He recommends to him wisdom and understanding as the end to be
aimed at in the use of these means; that wisdom which is the
principal wisdom, get that. Quod caput est sapientia eam
acquire sapientiam--Be sure to mind that branch of wisdom which is the
top branch of it, and that is the fear of God,
Junius and Tremellius. A principle of religion in the heart is the one
thing needful; therefore, First, Get this wisdom, get
And again, "Get wisdom, and with all thy getting, get
Pray for it, take pains for it, give diligence in the use of all
appointed means to attain it. Wait at wisdom's gate,
Get dominion over thy corruptions, which are thy follies: get
possession of wise principles and the habits of wisdom. Get wisdom by
experience, get it above all thy getting; be more in care and
take more pains to get this than to get the wealth of this world;
whatever thou forgettest, get this, reckon it a great achievement, and
pursue it accordingly." True wisdom is God's gift, and yet we are here
commanded to get it, because God gives it to those that labour for it;
yet, after all, we must not say, Our might and the power of our hand
have gotten us this wealth. Secondly, Forget her not
forsake her not
let her not go
but keep her. Those that have got this wisdom must take heed of
losing it again by returning to folly: it is indeed a good part, that
shall not be taken from us; but then we must take heed lest we
throw it from us, as those do that forget it first, and let it slip out
of their minds, and then forsake it and turn out of its good ways. That
good thing which is committed to us we must keep, and not let it drop,
through carelessness, nor suffer it to be forced from us, nor suffer
ourselves to be wheedled out of it; never let go such a jewel.
Thirdly, Love her
and embrace her
as worldly men love their wealth and set their hearts upon it. Religion
should be very dear to us, dearer than any thing in this world; and, if
we cannot reach to be great masters of wisdom, yet let us be true
lovers of it; and what grace we have let us embrace it with a sincere
affection, as those that admire its beauty. Fourthly, "Exalt
Always keep up high thoughts of religion, and do all thou canst to
bring it into reputation, and maintain the credit of it among men.
Concur with God in his purpose, which is to magnify the law and make it
honourable, and do what thou canst to serve that purpose." Let
Wisdom's children not only justify her, but magnify her, and
prefer her before that which is dearest to them in this world. In
honouring those that fear the Lord, though they are low in the world,
and in regarding a poor wise man, we exalt wisdom.
(2.) By way of motive and inducement thus to labour for wisdom, and
submit to the guidance of it, consider,
[1.] It is the main matter, and that which ought to be the chief and
continual care of every man in this life
Wisdom is the principal thing; other things which we are
solicitous to get and keep are nothing to it. It is the whole of
It is that which recommends us to God, which beautifies the soul, which
enables us to answer the end of our creation, to live to some good
purpose in the world, and to get to heaven at last; and therefore it is
the principal thing.
[2.] It has reason and equity on its side
"I have taught thee in the way of wisdom, and so it will be
found to be at last. I have led thee, not in the crooked ways
of carnal policy, which does wrong under colour of wisdom, but in
right paths, agreeable to the eternal rules and reasons of good and
evil." The rectitude of the divine nature appears in the rectitude of
all the divine laws. Observe, David not only taught his son by good
instructions, but led him both by a good example and by applying
general instructions to particular cases; so that nothing was wanting
on his part to make him wise.
[3.] It would be much for his own advantage: "If thou be wise and good,
thou shalt be so for thyself." First, "It will be thy life, thy
comfort, thy happiness; it is what thou canst not live without:"
Keep my commandments and live,
That of our Saviour agrees with this, If thou wilt enter into life,
keep the commandments,
It is upon pain of death, eternal death, and in prospect of life,
eternal life, that we are required to be religious. "Receive wisdom's
sayings, and the years of thy life shall be many
as many in this world as Infinite Wisdom sees fit, and in the other
world thou shalt live that life the years of which shall never be
numbered. Keep her therefore, whatever it cost thee, for she
is thy life,
All thy satisfaction will be found in this;" and a soul without true
wisdom and grace is really a dead soul. Secondly, "It will be
thy guard and guide, thy convoy and conductor, through all the dangers
and difficulties of thy journey through this wilderness. Love wisdom,
and cleave to her, and she shall preserve thee, she shall keep
from sin, the worst of evils, the worst of enemies; she shall keep thee
from hurting thyself, and then none else can hurt thee." As we say,
"Keep thy shop, and thy shop will keep thee;" so, "Keep thy wisdom, and
thy wisdom will keep thee." It will keep us from straits and
stumbling-blocks in the management of ourselves and our affairs,
1. That our steps be not straitened when we go, that we bring not
ourselves into such straits as David was in,
2 Samuel 24:14.
Those that make God's word their rule shall walk at liberty, and be at
ease in themselves.
2. That our feet do not stumble when we run. If wise and good men be
put upon sudden resolves, the certain rule of God's word which they go
by will keep them even then from stumbling upon any thing that may be
pernicious. Integrity and uprightness will preserve us.
Thirdly, "It will be thy honour and reputation
Exalt wisdom (do thou but show thy good-will to her advancement)
and though she needs not thy service she will abundantly recompense it,
she shall promote thee, she shall bring thee to honour." Solomon
was to be a king, but his wisdom and virtue would be more his honour
than his crown or purple; it was that for which all his neighbours had
him so much in veneration; and no doubt, in his reign and David's, wise
and good men stood fairest for preferment. However, religion will,
first or last, bring all those to honour that cordially
embrace her; they shall be accepted of God, respected by all
wise men, owned in the great day, and shall inherit everlasting glory.
This he insists on
"She shall give to thy head an ornament of grace in this world,
shall recommend thee both to God and man, and in the other world a
crown of glory shall she deliver to thee, a crown that shall never
totter, a crown of glory that shall never wither." That is the true
honour which attends religion. Nobilitas sola est atique unica
virtus--Virtue is the only nobility! David having thus recommended
wisdom to his son, no marvel that when God bade him ask what he would
he prayed, Lord, give me a wise and an understanding heart. We
should make it appear by our prayers how well we are taught.
|Cautions against Bad Company.
14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way
of evil men.
15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.
16 For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and
their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of
18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that
shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at
what they stumble.
Some make David's instructions to Solomon, which began
to continue to the end of the chapter; nay, some continue them to the
end of the ninth chapter; but it is more probable that Solomon begins
here again, if not sooner. In these verses, having exhorted us to walk
in the paths of wisdom, he cautions us against the path of the wicked.
1. We must take heed of the ways of sin and avoid them, every thing
that looks like sin and leads to it.
2. In order to this we must keep out of the ways of sinners, and have
no fellowship with them. For fear of falling into wicked courses, we
must shun wicked company. Here is,
I. The caution itself,
1. We must take heed of falling in with sin and sinners: Enter not
into the paths of the wicked. Our teacher, having like a faithful
guide shown us the right paths
here warns us of the by-paths into which we are in danger of being
drawn aside. Those that have been well educated, and trained up in the
way they should go, let them never turn aside into the way they should
not go; let them not so much as enter into it, no, not to make trial of
it, lest it prove a dangerous experiment and difficult to retreat with
safety. "Venture not into the company of those that are infected with
the plague, no, not though thou think thyself guarded with an
2. If at any time we are inveigled into an evil way, we must hasten out
of it. "If, ere thou wast aware, thou didst enter in at the gate,
because it was wide, go not on in the way of evil men. As
soon as thou art made sensible of thy mistake, retire immediately, take
not a step more, stay not a minute longer, in the way that certainly
leads to destruction."
3. We must dread and detest the ways of sin and sinners, and decline
them with the utmost care imaginable. "The way of evil men may
seem a pleasant way and sociable, and the nearest way to the compassing
of some secular end we may have in view; but it is an evil way, and
will end ill, and therefore if thou love thy God and thy soul avoid
it, pass not by it, that thou mayest not be tempted to enter into
it; and, if thou find thyself near it, turn from it and pass
away, and get as far off it as thou canst." The manner of
expression intimates the imminent danger we are in, the need we have of
this caution, and the great importance of it, and that our watchmen
are, or should be, in good earnest, in giving us warning. It intimates
likewise at what a distance we should keep from sin and sinners; he
does not say, Keep at a due distance, but at a great distance, the
further the better; never think you can get far enough from it.
Escape for thy life: look not behind thee.
II. The reasons to enforce this caution.
1. "Consider the character of the men whose way thou art warned to
shun." They are mischievous men
they not only care not what hurt they do to those that stand in their
way, but it is their business to do mischief, and their delight, purely
for mischief-sake. They are continually designing and endeavouring to
cause some to fall, to ruin them body and soul. Wickedness and
malice are in their nature, and violence is in all their actions. They
are spiteful in the highest degree; for,
(1.) Mischief is rest and sleep to them. As much satisfaction as a
covetous man has when he has got money, an ambitious man when he has
got preferment, and a good man when he has done good, so much have they
when they have said or done that which is injurious and ill-natured;
and they are extremely uneasy if they cannot get their envy and revenge
gratified, as Haman, to whom every thing was unpleasant as long as
Mordecai was unhanged. It intimates likewise how restless and unwearied
they are in their mischievous pursuits; they will rather be deprived of
sleep than of the pleasure of being vexatious.
(2.) Mischief is meat and drink to them; they feed and feast upon it.
They eat the bread of the wickedness (they eat up my people as they
and drink the wine of violence
drink iniquity like water,
All they eat and drink is got by rapine and oppression. Do wicked men
think the time lost in which they are not doing hurt? Let good men make
it as much their business and delight to do good. Amici, diem
perdidi--Friends, I have lost a day. And let all that are wise, and
wish well to themselves, avoid the society of the wicked; for,
[1.] It is very scandalous; for there is no disposition of mind that is
a greater reproach to human nature, a greater enemy to human society, a
bolder defiance to God and conscience, that has more of the devil's
image in it, or is more serviceable to his interests, than a delight to
do mischief and to vex, and hurt, and ruin every body.
[2.] It is very dangerous. "Shun those that delight to do mischief as
thou tenderest thy own safety; for, whatever friendship they may
pretend, one time or other they will do thee mischief; thou wilt ruin
thyself if thou dost concur with them
and they will ruin thee if thou dost not."
2. "Consider the character of the way itself which thou art warned to
shun, compared with the right way which thou art invited to walk
(1.) The way of righteousness is light
The path of the just, which they have chosen, and in which they
walk, is as light; the light shines on their ways
and makes them both safe and pleasant. Christ is their way and
he is the light. They are guided by the word of God and that is
a light to their feet; they themselves are light in the
Lord and they walk in the light as he is in the light.
[1.] It is a shining light. Their way shines to themselves in
the joy and comfort of it; it shines before others in the lustre and
honour of it; it shines before men, who see their good works,
They go on in their way with a holy security and serenity of mind, as
those that walk in the light. It is as the morning-light, which
shines out of obscurity
and puts an end to the works of darkness.
[2.] It is a growing light; it shines more and more, not like
the light of a meteor, which soon disappears, or that of a candle,
which burns dim and burns down, but like that of the rising sun, which
goes forward shining, mounts upward shining. Grace, the guide of this
way, is growing; he that has clean hands shall be stronger and
stronger. That joy which is the pleasure of this way, that honour
which is the brightness of it, and all that happiness which is indeed
its light, shall be still increasing.
[3.] It will arrive, in the end, at the perfect day. The light
of the dayspring will at length be noon-day light, and it is this that
the enlightened soul is pressing towards. The saints will not be
perfect till they come to heaven, but there they shall themselves
shine as the sun when he goes forth in his strength,
Their graces and joys shall be all consummate. Therefore it is our
wisdom to keep close to the path of the just.
(2.) The way of sin is as darkness,
The works he had cautioned us not to have fellowship with are works
of darkness. What true pleasure and satisfaction can those have who
know no pleasure and satisfaction but what they have in doing mischief?
What sure guide have those that cast God's word behind them? The way
of the wicked is dark, and therefore dangerous; for they stumble
and yet know not at what they stumble. They fall into sin, but
are not aware which way the temptation came by which they were
overthrown, and therefore know not how to avoid it the next time. They
fall into trouble, but never enquire wherefore God contends with them;
they consider not that they do evil, nor what will be in the end
This is the way we are directed to shun.
20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my
21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst
of thine heart.
22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to
all their flesh.
23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the
issues of life.
24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put
far from thee.
25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look
straight before thee.
26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be
27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot
Solomon, having warned us not to do evil, here teaches us how to do
well. It is not enough for us to shun the occasions of sin, but we must
study the methods of duty.
I. We must have a continual regard to the word of God and endeavour
that it may be always ready to us.
1. The sayings of wisdom must be our principles by which we must govern
ourselves, our monitors to warn us of duty and danger; and therefore,
(1.) We must receive them readily: "Incline thy ear to them
humbly bow to them; diligently listen to them." The attentive hearing
of the word of God is a good sign of a work of grace begun in the heart
and a good means of carrying it on. It is to be hoped that those are
resolved to do their duty who are inclined to know it.
(2.) We must retain them carefully
we must lay them before us as our rule: "Let them not depart from
thy eyes; view them, review them, and in every thing aim to conform
to them." We must lodge them within us, as a commanding principle, the
influences of which are diffused throughout the whole man: "Keep
them in the midst of thy heart, as things dear to thee, and which
thou art afraid of losing." Let the word of God be written in the
heart, and that which is written there will remain.
2. The reason why we must thus make much of the words of wisdom is
because they will be both food and physic to us, like the tree of
Those that seek and find them, find and keep them, shall find in them,
(1.) Food: For they are life unto those that find them,
As the spiritual life was begun by the word as the instrument of it, so
by the same word it is still nourished and maintained. We could not
live without it; we may by faith live upon it.
(2.) Physic. They are health to all their flesh, to the whole
man, both body and soul; they help to keep both in good plight. They
are health to all flesh, so the LXX. There is enough to cure all
the diseases of this distempered world. They are a medicine to all
their flesh (so the word is), to all their corruptions, for they
are called flesh, to all their grievances, which are as thorns in the
flesh. There is in the word of God a proper remedy for all our
II. We must keep a watchful eye and a strict hand upon all the motions
of our inward man,
1. A great duty required by the laws of wisdom, and in order to our
getting and preserving wisdom: Keep thy heart with all
diligence. God, who gave us these souls, gave us a strict charge
with them: Man, woman, keep thy heart; take heed to thy spirit,
We must maintain a holy jealousy of ourselves, and set a strict guard,
accordingly, upon all the avenues of the soul; keep our hearts from
doing hurt and getting hurt, from being defiled by sin and disturbed by
trouble; keep them as our jewel, as our vineyard; keep a conscience
void of offence; keep out bad thoughts; keep up good thoughts; keep the
affections upon right objects and in due bounds. Keep them with all
keepings (so the word is); there are many ways of keeping
things--by care, by strength, by calling in help, and we must use them
all in keeping our hearts; and all little enough, so deceitful are
Or above all keepings; we must keep our hearts with more care
and diligence than we keep any thing else. We must keep our eyes
keep our tongues
keep our feet
but, above all, keep our hearts.
2. A good reason given for this care, because out of it are the
issues of life. Out of a heart well kept will flow living issues,
good products, to the glory of God and the edification of others. Or,
in general, all the actions of the life flow from the heart, and
therefore keeping that is making the tree good and healing the springs.
Our lives will be regular or irregular, comfortable or uncomfortable,
according as our hearts are kept or neglected.
III. We must set a watch before the door of our lips, that we
offend not with out tongue
Put away from thee a froward mouth and perverse lips. Our hearts
being naturally corrupt, out of them a great deal of corrupt
communication is apt to come, and therefore we must conceive a great
dread and detestation of all manner of evil words, cursing, swearing,
lying, slandering, brawling, filthiness, and foolish talking, all which
come from a froward mouth and perverse lips, that will not be
governed either by reason or religion, but contradict both, and which
are as unsightly and ill-favoured before God as a crooked distorted
mouth drawn awry is before men. All manner of tongue sins, we must, by
constant watchfulness and stedfast resolution, put from us, put
far from us, abstaining from all words that have an appearance
of evil and fearing to learn any such words.
IV. We must make a covenant with our eyes: "Let them look right on
and straight before thee,
Let the eye be fixed and not wandering; let it not rove after every
thing that presents itself, for then it will be diverted form good and
ensnared in evil. Turn it from beholding vanity; let thy eye be single
and not divided; let thy intentions be sincere and uniform, and look
not asquint at any by-end." We must keep our eye upon our Master, and
be careful to approve ourselves to him; keep our eye upon our rule, and
conform to that; keep our eye upon our mark, the prize of the high
calling, and direct all towards that. Oculum in metam--The
eye upon the goal.
V. We must act considerately in all we do
Ponder the path of thy feet, weigh it (so the word is); "put the
word of God in one scale, and what thou hast done, or art about to do,
in the other, and see how they agree; be nice and critical in examining
whether thy way be good before the Lord and whether it will end well."
We must consider our past ways and examine what we have done, and our
present ways, what we are doing, whither we are going, and see that
we walk circumspectly. It concerns us to consider what are the
duties and what the difficulties, what are the advantages and what the
dangers, of our way, that we may act accordingly. "Do nothing
VI. We must act with steadiness, caution, and consistency: "Let all
thy ways be established
and be not unstable in them, as the double-minded man is; halt not
between two, but go on in an even uniform course of obedience; turn
not to the right hand not to the left, for there are errors on both
hands, and Satan gains his point if he prevails to draw us aside either
way. Be very careful to remove thy foot from evil; take heed of
extremes, for in them there is evil, and let thy eyes look right
on, that thou mayest keep the golden mean." Those that would
approve themselves wise must always be watchful.