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The happy effects of diligence and prudence are strongly expressed in these words, “Seest thou a man diligent in his business, he shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men.” The proof of this is every day seen, in the respectability to which well-principled, industrious men attain; whereas, to the sluggard or dissipated man, poverty and want come upon him as one that travelleth apace, and terribly as the approach of an armed enemy whom he cannot resist. (5.) A peaceable disposition, and living in harmony with other people, is pointed out as another path of wisdom. He is called a wicked man who soweth discord—but a soft answer turneth away wrath. The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water; you cannot always stop it when you wish; “therefore leave off contention before it be meddled with.” (6.) And to this end useful conversation is enjoined, and the avoiding of tale-bearing, and excessive talking. (Prov. x. 19.) “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin, but he that refraineth his lips is wise. The tongue of the just is as choice silver; the heart of the wicked is little worth; the lips of the righteous feed many; but fools die for want of wisdom. The tongue of the righteous useth knowledge aright, but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness therein is a breach of the spirit. The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the foolish doth not so.” A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. The words of a tale-bearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. “Answer not a fool according to his folly”—i.e. not in the same foolish manner; but answer him according to his folly, i.e. give him such an answer as his foolish-speech requires to shew its folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. Men, who by vicious bad language corrupt each other, and teach vice to young boys, have a great deal to answer for beside their own sins: if a man cannot say much that is useful, he may at least forbear saying what is vicious and corrupting; there is no occasion to be eternally muttering and talking. And connected with good conversation— (7.) Truth may be noticed. “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord; but they that deal truly are his delight. The lip of truth shall be established for ever; but a lying tongue is but for a moment. A righteous man hateth lying, but a wicked liar is loathsome, and cometh to shame. The getting of treasures by a lying tongue, is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death. A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.” And with truth must be joined sincerity: “Faithful are the rebukes or censures of a friend, but the kisses or flatteries of an enemy are deceitful.” “He that rebuketh or findeth fault with a man, shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.” To truth and sincerity, will honesty be added, for “divers weights are an abomination to the Lord, and a false balance is not good.” (8) Another of wisdom's paths, is the keeping good company. “He that walketh with wise and good men, shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Go from the presence of a foolish man when thou perceivest not in him the words of knowledge. Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man thou shalt not go.” (9.) Contentment is also a path of wisdom, for “betteris a little with righteousness than great revenues without right; therefore be not envious against evil men (who are prosperous,) neither desire to be with them, for he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.” (10.) Finally, the path of wisdom requires sobriety, or the moderate use of inebriating liquors; for “wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby, is not wise. Contentions, babbling, wounds without cause, redness of eyes, sorrow and wo,” are the consequences of intoxication, and the drunkard and glutton shall come to poverty, and be the slaves of lewdness and perverse conduct. Thus I have noticed ten of those paths which wisdom . pronounces pleasant; docility, firmness, honourable marriage, prudence, diligence, peaceable disposition, truth, useful conversation, good company, contentment, and sobriety. These, added to the fear of God, will render a man’s life tolerably pleasant, under any circumstances, much more so than all the pleasures of sin can do under the most prosperous circumstances. The paths of folly, in which so many tread, are the opposite of these, and those who tread in them, are proud, unteachable mockers and scorners, silly dupes of designing men and women, or who themselves seduce and corrupt the innocent, having no real affection for any woman, and beloved by none; and imprudent, idle, and extravagant; and quarrelsome; liars, and deceitful, whose mouths are filled with impious and indecent language; companions of profligate people, discontented and murmuring against Providence, and seeking to drown their mental miseries in habits of intoxication; and who, in the midst of all these hateful and unhappy modes of living, have every reason to fear that misery awaits them after. death. Now, Although an entire deliverance from afflictions, of one kind or another, is not to be expected in this guilty world; it is easy to see, that in comparison of the paths of wicked folly, wisdom's ways are, indeed, ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are comparatively peace. Endeavour, then, O men, to remember the instructions of Divine Wisdom, and pray God, for Christ's sake to grant you the aid of his Holy Spirit, to avoid the broad road that leads to destruction, and to enter in at the strait gate that leads to eternal life. If you would remember these things, whether at sea or on shore, you would find them contribute to your daily comfort, and ensure your lasting happiness.
Composed at Sea.
DELIVERED At KINGSBRIDGE, DEvoNshire, MARch 21, 1824; AND AT THE REv. DR. waugh's, wells street, London, MARch 28.
[In a land far off, the most populous nation in the world, on the eastern limits of Asia, from whence your preacher has returned for a short season, the name of Jesus is hated by the rulers, and by most of the people. A native of that land is, through dread of the oppressor, afraid to have about his person, or in his house, either book or any written paper which contains the name of Jesus, that blessed name, which is your only hope.
Compared with such a state of things, how truly may the people of this country say, “to us the lines have fallen in pleasant places, and we have a goodly heritage.” In Great Britain, princes, and nobles, and legislators, join with the ministers of the Gospel, and beseech men to receive the Bible. (How cheering to me, after many years exile and solitude, is such an assentbly as this!) Who can estimate the value of the Sabbath, and the Bible, and the ordinances of God's house !—And is it possible that those nations which now hate the name of Jesus, and are slavishly attached to their idols, and their ancient sages, and their superstitions, and their vices, can ever be converted Is it not a hopeless task to endeavour to reclaim them? We say, no! and the reason we assign is this—“The most High God ruleth in the kingdom of men.” For the encouragement of my own mind, and for your encouragement my fellow Christians, I have chosen the following words as my text.]
GOD THE SUPREME RULER.
DANIEL, Iv. 32.
HuMAN governments, whether the supreme authority be vested in a senate, a king, or an emperor, have, indeed, immense power over their fellow creatures; and the will of these governments, which thousands, or hundreds of thousands of armed men can enforce, seems, at times, quite irresistible. The absolute despots of Asia, and of other parts of the world, have often done whatever their caprice dictated with the persons and the property of their numerous subjects. And whilst millions have continually trembled at the oppressor's frown, the monarchs themselves have been puffed up with pride, and deemed themselves omnipotent as gods, and have forgotten their dependance on the Almighty; or have practically acted, as if they were amenable to no higher authority. The sovereign of Babylon,” that mighty monarch, whilst walking on an elevated terrace, and surveying the great city which he had embellished, said, either mentally or audibly, with vain self-complacency, Dan. iv. 30. “Is not this great Babylon that I have built, for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty.” But whilst the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from Heaven, denouncing a punishment of his pride and self-sufficiency, which punishment would last till he should learn to know and acknowledge, that “The most High ruleth in the
* Nebuchadnezzar is called Nabuchodnosor II. by Rollin, reigned over Chaldea, Assyria, Arabia, Syria, and Palestine, forty-three years. Ante J. C. 603.