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obey the exhortation of our text, and when "sinners entice,” we are to“ consent not.” For whatever plausible arguments, whatever smiling inducements they may offer; whatever glittering prospects of worldly gain, or worldly advantage and pleasure, may be set before us, we shall do well ever to remember, and frequently to question with ourselves, in the words of our Lord : “ What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain

the whole world, and lose his own soul ? or, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?' 5

- Mark viii. 36, 37.

129

SERMON IX.

THE YOUNG MAN VOID OF UNDER

STANDING.

PROVERBS vii. 7.

“ I discerned among the youths a young man void

of understanding."

It was, it is, the manifest design of Solomon, throughout the whole of his admirable writings, to impress upon our minds the necessity and the excellency of religion, the fear of the Lord, the true and saving knowledge of the Most Holy.

Wise and well judging as he was, conversant with all the sciences of his day, and amply provided with all the good, the pleasurable things of this life, Solomon yet knew that there was a knowledge most needful, without which all other knowledge would be vain, yea rather, dangerous, and

And this knowledge he desig. nates by the name of “understanding, or wisdom;" and in more than one passage he tells us in what it consists,—what must be, and is, the essential thereof. “ The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding.” And Solomon, with his accurate eye, and taught by sad experience, sees nothing but disgrace and pain, bitterness of spirit and unavailing regret, in any scheme of life, in any intellectual pursuit, which has not its foundation in " the fear of the Lord, and the knowledge of the Holy.”1 Speaking in this seventh chapter in the form of a parable, it is with regret he sees “among the youths a young man void of understanding.” Nevertheless, the picture which Solomon here describes, is one which may too often be seen-a picture, a mode of life and conversation, which hath prevailed in the world ever since our first parents, in their eagerness to become “wise,” tasted and ate of the forbidden fruit, of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” 2

a snare.

1 Prov. ix. 10.

As youth is the season in which the habits and notions then acquired assume for the most part a marked character, and influence for good or evil the course of the after life, therefore does the royal writer of the book of Proverbs earnestly and repeatedly exhort the young to look unto the beginning of their ways, and to look forward unto, not to shut their eyes as to what may be the end : there being an “end bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword,”even “the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.”4 But independent of that final end, and the judgment which shall be had

upon all flesh, and upon all the things done in the body, whether they be good or bad, it is of importance, even as health, and prosperity, our good report, our

• Gen ii. 9. 3 Prov. v. 4. * Prov. vii. 27.

powers of usefulness, and our advancement in the world, are desirable things, that men should seek to increase in understanding as they increase in years. The lesson cannot be too soon acquired, that it is not good nor safe for a man to do only that which“ is right in his own eyes ;” that it will not answer to follow the solicitations of every foolish and sinful lust, the mad dictates of unbridled passion, the wayward inclinations of an undisciplined heart.

The young man whom Solomon beheld walking on “void of understanding," was quickly enticed to do evil ; he went" as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks." He fell into the snare; and because his mind was not disciplined by " the fear of the Lord,” neither did he regulate his conduct by the self-denying precepts of religious wisdom.

Now, therefore,” thus doth religion speak to us in the words of the wise king of

5 Ver. 22,

" 5

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