(All Bible texts are in the NKJV Bible unless otherwise indicated)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
8 My son, hear the instruction of your father,
And do not forsake the law of your mother;
3 For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey,
And her mouth is smoother than oil;
4 But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death,
Her steps lay hold of hell.
6 Lest you ponder her path of life—
Her ways are unstable;
You do not know them.
7 Therefore hear me now, my children,
And do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8 Remove your way far from her,
And do not go near the door of her house,
9 Lest you give your honor to others,
And your years to the cruel one;
10 Lest aliens be filled with your wealth,
And your labors go to the house of a foreigner;
11 And you mourn at last,
When your flesh and your body are consumed,
12 And say:
“How I have hated instruction,
And my heart despised correction!
13 I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers,
Nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!
14 I was on the verge of total ruin,
In the midst of the assembly and congregation.”
12 A garden enclosed
Is my sister, my spouse,
A spring shut up,
A fountain sealed.
13 Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
With pleasant fruits,
Fragrant henna with spikenard,
14 Spikenard and saffron,
Calamus and cinnamon,
With all trees of frankincense,
Myrrh and aloes,
With all the chief spices—
15 A fountain of gardens,
A well of living waters,
And streams from Lebanon.
5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice with the wife of your youth.
19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
And always be enraptured with her love.
22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.
23 Be diligent to know the state of your flocks,
And attend to your herds;
24 For riches are not forever,
Nor does a crown endure to all generations.
26 In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of refuge.
1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
18 A wrathful man stirs up strife,
But he who is slow to anger allays contention.
32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
27 He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house,
But he who hates bribes will live.
17 Correct your son, and he will give you rest;
Yes, he will give delight to your soul.
17 He who keeps instruction is in the way of life,
But he who refuses correction goes astray.
13 Do not withhold correction from a child,
For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
14 You shall beat him with a rod,
And deliver his soul from hell.
1 He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
15 The rod and rebuke give wisdom,
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
18 Chasten your son while there is hope,
And do not set your heart on his destruction.
24 He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
13 Do not withhold correction from a child,
For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
14 You shall beat him with a rod,
And deliver his soul from hell.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
18 “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
24 He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.
9 Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
19 Better to dwell in the wilderness,
Than with a contentious and angry woman.
15 A continual dripping on a very rainy day
And a contentious woman are alike;
16 Whoever restrains her restrains the wind,
And grasps oil with his right hand.
20 Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather,
And like vinegar on soda,
Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.
14 He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning,
It will be counted a curse to him.
22 A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.
10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.
4 An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,
But she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.
10 Do not trust in oppression,
Nor vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase,
Do not set your heart on them.
14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side of the Jordan. But you shall pass before your brethren armed, all your mighty men of valor, and help them,
11 And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew 6:33, 34.
We feel a deep interest for the people of God. We are anxious that they should rightly estimate the important truths for these last days, and have correct views in reference to the characters they must develop in order to obtain the redemption promised the faithful and perfect. We would that all felt a deeper interest in regard to their own salvation and that of their fellow-men. We wish that all would regard the work of repentance, faith, and devotion, as essential to the formation of their religious characters.
It is apparent that but few have any just sense of the solemnity of the time in which we live, and the important work to be accomplished in this time. The Judgment is just before us, and yet personal, selfish interest in temporal things, engages the time and attention, and eternal things are not discerned. Eternal interests are made secondary. This is the great cause of the lack of spirituality, of courage, of godliness, and of living faith, among God's people. They do not seem to possess that faith and confidence in God that should be expected of men and women who profess to be Christians waiting for the appearing of their Lord. They are not willing to surrender all for Christ, and thus comply with God's requirements. They hesitate to invest much in his work and in his cause. When we consider that that God who gave us life, and who has surrounded us with his rich blessings, has the first claim upon our attention, we shall withdraw our love and affection from this world and from all earthly treasures, and center them upon God. Our best and holiest affections should be devoted to him. When controlled by his Spirit, there will be no danger of their being perverted or misplaced. Their influence will lead others to purity and a holy life.
Eternal things should awaken our interest, and should be regarded, in comparison with temporal things, as of infinite importance. God requires of us to make it our first business to attend to the health and prosperity of the soul. We should know that we are enjoying the favor of God, that he smiles upon us, and that we are his children indeed, and in a position where he can commune with us, and we with him. We should not be at rest until we are in that position of lowliness and meekness that he can safely bless us, and we be brought into a sacred nearness with God, where his light may shine upon us, and we reflect that light to all around us. But we cannot do this unless we are earnestly striving ourselves to live in the light. This God requires of all his followers, not merely for their own good, but also for the benefit of others around them.
We cannot let our light shine out to others, so as to attract their attention to heavenly things, unless we have the light in us. We must be imbued with the Spirit of Jesus Christ, or we cannot manifest to others that Christ is in us the hope of glory. We must have an indwelling Saviour, or we cannot exemplify in our lives his life of devotion, his love, his gentleness, his pity, his compassion, his self-denial, and purity. This is what we earnestly desire. This should be the study of our lives, How shall I conform my character to the Bible standard of holiness?
If we are put to great inconvenience in regard to our temporal arrangements in order to attain this exalted position, which God requires us to meet, we should not hesitate or complain. Christ sacrificed his majesty, his splendor, his glory, and his honor, and for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. He condescended to a life of humiliation. He was subjected to scorn. He was despised and rejected of men. He bore insult and mockery, and a most painful death in the most shameful manner, in order that he might exalt and save the fallen sons and daughters of Adam from hopeless misery. In view of this unparalleled sacrifice and mysterious love manifested for us by our Redeemer, shall we withhold from God our entire service, which at the best is so feeble? Shall we use selfishly, for business, or pleasure, the time which is necessary for us to devote to religious exercises, to the study of the Scriptures, and to self-examination and prayer? Said the divine Teacher, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” We must devote time to the study of the Scriptures. A mere casual reading of them is not enough. We should investigate, and pray that our understanding may be quickened to comprehend the teachings of the precious word of God. Our Saviour continues his words, “Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.” The life principle is found in Christ.
We cannot obtain a growth in grace and a knowledge of the divine will unless we give especial attention to these essential duties. Our spiritual strength will languish without these precious aids. We should greatly dishonor God, if we devoted the strength of brain, bone, and muscle, to the meager object of obtaining the things of the present life, which cannot secure to us the life which is to come, which will measure with the life of God.
I feel deeply in this matter. The truths you have been listening to from God's servants so attentively, are realities to me. They are not idle tales. The scenes of this earth's history are rapidly passing, and our probation is soon to close. Many of us who profess to be Christians are unready, and have not the preparation required to meet that fearful day, when in Heaven it shall be said, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” It is for us to bend all our energies to obtain the necessary preparation for that important time. We profess that we are preparing for a better country. Our faith says that we are merely passing through this land as pilgrims and strangers. We are not fellow citizens here. We are not dwellers upon the earth; because as a snare shall the day of the Lord come upon all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. We have not built our hopes here, in this world. Our actions have testified to our faith, that in Heaven is our enduring substance. Our manners and our actions should all be living preachers to testify that the things of this life are of minor consequence; that they must pass away, and that the things of the kingdom of God, the treasures that are reserved for the faithful overcomers, outweigh every earthly consideration, and every earthly treasure.
To live thus, demands vigor of spirit to fight the fight of faith. Practical religion carries with it energy and perseverance. Its operations are manifested in meekness, love, humbleness of mind, in self-denial and disinterested benevolence. Our Heavenly Father weighs the purposes and intentions of the heart. If the greater amount of your strength, anxiety, and interest, is employed to serve yourselves and your families, and for the purpose of carrying forward your worldly enterprises, how can you testify to an unbelieving world that the truths you believe are a reality? How do you show to others that your faith is genuine, and that you really believe that the end of all things is at hand?
It is impossible for men to have this belief and not express it and show this faith by their works. It is impossible for them to feel the worth of souls for whom Christ died, and to believe in his speedy coming, if their interest is devoted to acquiring, and their strength wholly spent in caring for, the things of this world.
“For we are made a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men.” God requires us to rise above the world, and breathe the atmosphere of Heaven. Then can you give to Jesus the unreserved devotion of your heart, and the entire obedience of your life. It is not enough for you to pray with your families, and devote a little time to religious exercises in meeting. Is this all that God claims? He requires the whole heart—the undivided affections. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”
Men and women put forth energy in serving themselves. They are earnest, and frequently endure much suffering, in laboring very hard to attain some earthly benefit, some worldly object. They exhaust themselves in the pursuit of worldly treasures so that it is impossible for them to render to God the service he requires, and will accept. It is almost impossible for some to keep from falling asleep when the exercise is changed from the service of self and the world, to the service of God. Some seem to have no power to keep their eyes open in meeting. Satan seems to mesmerize them when important truths are presented. Their vitality was exhausted in laboring for temporal things. They left their strength in the harvest field or in their several avocations to secure the things of this life. But few realize that, in thus doing, they are sustaining an eternal loss. God does not accept their lame, sickly, inefficient sacrifice. Therefore, you hear these men complaining of doubts and of darkness. They have no real happiness. They have no experience in the things of God, and can relate no deep and earnest exercises of mind. They suppose that they are Christians. They know not that their Redeemer liveth by actual experience. His love and grace do not brighten into higher, holier perfection their Christian character, giving them a glorious triumph amid the buffeting of Satan and the sorrows and trials of this life. This might be their experience if they would comply with the requirements of God's word.
Eternal things should be of the first importance, and of as much greater consequence than earthly things, as Heaven is higher than the earth. Yet how often is the strength exhausted in obtaining earthly treasures. Men and women who profess to be followers of Christ, do not take time to seek the Lord. He has promised that if they would seek him, he would be found of them. Oh! that Christ's professed followers would live in such a manner before the world that they would be constrained to acknowledge their sincerity because their works testify to their faith. When unbelievers see that Christ's professed followers deny their faith by their unconsecrated lives, the truths they profess and advocate, seem to them like idle tales.
Missionaries are wanted. We wish you all possessed a living, missionary spirit. You need not, in order to become missionaries, go to California or to Europe. You have work to do in your own families and in your neighborhoods. If your works have not been in accordance with your faith where you are best known, so that you are in good repute with those that are without, you are not the men upon whom God will place the burden of a work for more distant localities and foreign missions. Do you feel the importance and the burden, so that you will introduce the truth to your best friends and those with whom you associate from day to day? Are you missionaries in your neighborhoods, and in your own families? Are you seeking to have a deep work of reformation going forward where you are best known? Is your life such as to give you influence at home with your families and workmen? You can hang up the charts, and show them the truth, as it is there illustrated. You can teach them, if you have a mind thus to do, by explaining prophetic history, and tracing down prophecies, that the end of all things is at hand. You can impress them with the sacredness of the law of God, and show them its claims upon them.
Many have been converted to the truth by working with men who judiciously gave them precept backed up by example. We are not to use the truth as a club to beat our neighbors with. We should follow the injunction of the inspired apostle, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.” By wisdom and meekness you may win souls to Christ and to the truth. But some, instead of doing this work, make their own business of the highest consequence. They are conversing upon their temporal business, and they are urging all to energy, that they may obtain the greatest amount of labor. This is their first great burden of interest from morning until noon, and from noon until night. All through the day their deportment and actions say to their workmen, My farm is my God and of more value to me than the truth or the salvation of your souls. The day's record passes above, and “wanting” is written against that man's name. He professes to be a servant of Jesus Christ, but has served only his own interest. He is an unfaithful servant. You are surrounded with men and women who will appear in the judgment against you. They will say, “You believed these things, and why did you not tell me? Your houses and lands were of more interest to you, than my soul's salvation.
It is displeasing to God for any who profess to love him to work so hard with their hands and brains in their own business as to unfit themselves to render to God that service which comes from a fervent spirit. Christians should not make it a practice to urge their families to work until their energy is exhausted, and there is no vitality left to devote to the service of God, who requires soul, body, mind, and strength. If you employ the powers of your entire being to serve your own interest, what have you reserved to offer to God? Is it not a lame sacrifice? “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
Time is well spent that is devoted to the instruction of your children. You may be living, acceptable missionaries for God, and yet be mechanics, merchants, and farmers. You can engage in the work of your Master with all your souls, and let your light shine to others. May the Lord arouse you, is my prayer, to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added. How do you prove God? Have you not made all the provisions it was possible for you to make? Have you not looked far into the future to arrange for your supposed future wants? Have you not taken thought for the morrow, and is not your salvation made secondary? You do not attend to things of eternal moment; but are looking years into the future, to provide for your families.
But what says our Lord? “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek;) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
The words of our Saviour here quoted need no comment. They are sufficiently plain to be understood by all who sincerely desire to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, and attain to Christian perfection. It is not necessary to possess a powerful intellect to comprehend the words of important instruction which fell from the lips of the divine Teacher. Those thus endowed may overlook the valuable lesson here given, because of its simplicity and clearness, while a follower of Christ, even if feeble in intellect, may be better prepared to grasp these precious words of Christ, and comprehend his illustrations drawn from the objects he is familiar with. He tries to follow the teachings of Christ, and his heart is set on heavenly things. The bent of his mind and heart proves his sincerity. The simple faith and trust in God of this man is more acceptable to God than the brilliant intellect and the most eminent talents with lack of sincerity, and faith and trust in God. The Master, in the reckoning day, will not ask, How much have you known? or professed?, or talked? but, How much have you loved? and where was your heart? Was it above, or beneath? A heart set upon Heaven is a heart set upon God. Learning is no proof of the grace of God in the heart. If the affections and heart are upon earth's treasure, they are constantly tempting the Devil to tempt them. The heart that is earnestly seeking and contemplating heavenly things, is fortified against lustful ambitions and worldly desires.
The men of the world are dwellers upon the earth. They know no other conversation but earthly. They are blinded by the god of this world. Moles are ever burrowing in the earth. They cannot see. So is the understanding of world-loving men darkened. Many professed Christians are no better. Their affections are on earthly things. They view the truth and heavenly things from the worldling's stand-point. They mistake gain for godliness, sin for grace, the world for God, and their own wills for the will of God. There are more of this class than many suppose. Moses esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.”
How can God be glorified in the life of that professed follower of his, who does not set his affections on things above, but condescends to keep company with, and enjoy the society of, his open enemies? The aspirations of the heart are for earthly gain. The things which are seen, and which are temporal, engross the attention, and God is forgotten.
Christians should be careful that they keep the heart with all diligence. They should cultivate a love for meditation, and cherish a spirit of devotion. Many seem to begrudge moments spent in meditation, and the searching of the Scriptures, and prayer, as though the time thus occupied was lost. I wish you could all view these things in the light God would have you; for you would then make the kingdom of Heaven of the first importance. To keep your heart in Heaven, will give vigor to all your graces, and put life into all your duties. To discipline the mind to dwell upon heavenly things, will put life and earnestness into all our endeavors. Our efforts are languid, and we run the Christian race slowly, and manifest indolence and sloth, because we so little value the heavenly prize. We are dwarfs in spiritual attainments. It is the privilege and duty of the Christian to be “increasing in the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” As exercise increases the appetite, and gives strength and healthy vigor to the body, so will devotional exercises bring an increase of grace and spiritual vigor.
The affections should center upon God. Contemplate his greatness, his mercy and excellences. Let his goodness and love and perfection of character captivate your heart. Converse upon His divine charms, and the heavenly mansions He is preparing for the faithful. He whose conversation is in Heaven, is the most profitable Christian to all around him. His words are useful and refreshing. They have a transforming power upon those who hear them, and will melt and subdue the soul.
We allow the trials and sorrows of earth to so overcome us that we have but little strength to press through the clouds of darkness to the eternal reward. The contemplation of heavenly things will revive our drooping faith, increase our courage and perseverance, and render our trials and sufferings far more easy. It will enable us to bear them with patience and joy. Says Paul: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” When a Christian draws his life from above, and strengthens his soul with the contemplation of things that are unseen, God is honored, because he takes him at his word. He believes the promise, and it is accounted unto him for righteousness.
If such an amount of time is required to make preparations for the wants of the body for this short life, how much time do you consider will be required for spiritual exercises, in order to perfect Christian character, that you may be counted worthy of the better life which is eternal? Do you think a fitness for a pure and holy Heaven comes along naturally, without special effort on your part? Great preparation has been made by our heavenly King, in our Father's house, for the saints of God; and a great preparation have we to make to attain purity of character and a moral fitness for the home of sacred bliss to which we shall be introduced if we are found worthy. Therefore let us aspire after the heavenly life. Withdraw your thoughts from worldly things; for they will benumb your affections and pollute your soul. Learn daily of Him who has invited you to be meek and lowly, and you will find rest to your soul. Christ is our consolation and our strength. We are not required to labor, or to employ our thoughts, more than we now do; but to change the current of these thoughts and labors, and employ as many serious thoughts every day upon our salvation, and how we may show ourselves approved unto God, and have our conversation upon His excellent glory and the life to come, as we now devote to worldly affairs and things that are of no profit. A transformation is required of us, a renewing of the mind, that we may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.