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Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.
I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.
Then shalt thou understand When thou goest, thy steps righteousness, and judgment, and shall not be straitened; and equity; yea, every good path.
In view of this representation, how truly has it been said by another inspired writer, that "godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." In a merely temporal point of view, it is "heaven's best gift to man." It is indeed "the principal thing.”
Man is never so ennobled as in its possession. It is life, not subject to sudden termination; it is health, not liable to decay; it is wealth, far more precious than rubies; it is happiness, ever tending to a glorious consummation. In sanctifying the heart, it prepares a place for the exercise of those gracious affections, than which nothing can more adorn and beautify the character; in controlling the passions, it removes many of the causes which disturb our own peace and affect our friendly relations with others; and in enforcing right principles of action, it makes us consult the interests of others in consulting our own. How sweetly it tranquillizes the mind that reposes in God! Enemies cannot wrest it from us, nor dangers affright its possessor. Grace enables us to say, "Whether I live, I live unto the Lord, or whether I die, I die unto the Lord, so that whether living or dying, I am the Lord's." He that has this heavenly wisdom, and uniformly obeys its dictates, shall find "its ways pleasantness, and all its paths peace."
Having premised these things in relation to the great principle of heavenly wisdom, we will follow the wise man in his exemplifications of it in practical life, that we may not only hear, but learn to do the will of God.
THE FEAR OF GOD.
THE fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence, and his children have a place of refuge.
struction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The fear of the Lord is a foun
The fear of the Lord prolong-tain of life, to depart from the eth days but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.
snares of death.
The fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.
By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
The fear of the Lord is the in
WE distinguish between a reverential and a slavish fear of God; the one, awakened by a profound sense of his majesty; the other, by an apprehension of his inflexible justice; the one, consisting with admiration and love; the other, associated with distrust and hatred. The reverential fear of the Christian does not repel him from God, but powerfully induces him to renounce every feeling and act, which would oppose the divine purity or provoke the divine displeasure. That which is slavish, on the contrary, has no influence in purifying the heart, although by its presence, it mars the enjoyment of the pleasures of sin.
Our first and best knowledge commences in a reverential fear of God, which operates as a restraint upon our lusts, and incites us to a fulfilment of the duties,
resulting from our moral relations to God. He that thus fears will hate sin and love holiness; and thus it becomes a "fountain of life," a source of spiritual blessings, and "prolongeth days," by inducing the avoidance of those sins, which are so inimical to the temporal, as well as the eternal well-being of man, as to make it true of the wicked, who practise them, that they do not "live out half their days.”
My soul, the God to whom thou art accountable is a great God, holy, just, omniscient and almighty! Sin is the object of his abhorrence, and shall not go unpunished. Stand in awe of him and sin not. Study his will, obey his commandments, and this will be thy best security against the fate of those who, while they fear God as a judge, and hate his perfections, still cling to their sins and perish in their folly.
THE FEAR OF MAN.
THE fear of man bringeth | his trust in the Lord shall be snare: but whoso putteth safe.
THE principle here condemned is one which is prolific of much mischief to the souls of men.
One manifestation of it is in seasons of personal danger, when the alternative is presented of adhering to our principles at all hazards, or securing personal safety by their sacrifice. When persecution rages, there may be strong temptation to secure life at the sacrifice of a good conscience. It was in such circumstances that Peter denied his Lord; and many have been frightened from their steadfastness, by the sight of the gibbet and the stake. Thus, of two evils, they have chosen the greater; fearing man who, although he had power to kill the body, had no more that he could do; and forgetting to fear God, who had power to cast both body and soul into hell.
Another manifestation of this principle, still more common and insidious, is when religious obligations are disregarded from fear of incurring the displeasure of our fellow men, or the ridicule of the ungodly. When life is not in jeopardy, cowardice may dictate silence where there should be an open avowal of our principles; or such a modified expression of them, as will do violence to our convictions of duty. How many, too, from fear of ridicule, have been led to resist those