James Smith, 1855
"You ignored all my counsel, and would not accept my rebuke" Proverbs 1:25
Sinners are lost, and need a Savior;
they are weak, and need strength;
and they are foolish, and need counsel.
The Lord is the Savior, the Strength, and the Counselor--of all who believe him. But in nothing does the folly of the sinner appear more, than in his refusing to take God for his Counselor, or to listen to his advice. Yet he is always more ready to listen to anyone than to God, and to take any advice before that which God gives. God has condescended to counsel us, he does so still; but the generality of men ignore all of his counsel.
Yet it must be wise--for it is the counsel of the
only wise God;
it is kind--for God counsels as a friend;
it is tender--for he counsels us a father does his children; and
it is important--for it refers to our present and everlasting welfare.
God might have allowed us to go on in sin and folly--and then have given us the just desert of our deeds; but instead of this, he has manifested the greatest kindness, the most marvelous condescension, and even now stoops to advise and counsel us!
He counsels us to avoid evil, the greatest evil, even SIN--that which will make us wretched in this world, and ten thousand times more so in the world to come. He cautions us against the temptations which lead to sin, and points out the way by which we may be completely delivered from it. He says, "Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way!" Proverbs 4:14, 15.
But this counsel is despised,
the path of temptation is entered,
the company of sinners is chosen,
the road to death is pursued, and
the kindness of God is disregarded!
He counsels us to secure the greatest good, even
the salvation of the soul. He says, "I counsel you to buy from me . . .
gold refined in the fire--so you can become rich; and
white clothes to wear--so you can cover your shameful nakedness;
and salve to put on your eyes--so you can see!" Revelation 3:18.
He is willing to impart whatever you need. Though penniless--you may procure wealth, clothing, and wisdom. All that can render you safe, lovely, and happy; or in one word--to be saved with a glorious and everlasting salvation!
He counsels us to retain what is useful, most useful, as wisdom and prudence. He says, "Let your heart retain my words; keep my commandments and live. My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet!
He counsels us to keep company with the wise, the wisest of men. To make the saints our companions, who are the excellent ones, in whom is all his delight. He says, "Walk the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land, and the unfaithful will be torn from it!"
Can any counsel be more wise, more kind, more tender, or more important? Yet the advice is generally neglected; it is all but universally despised. Therefore the Lord complains of us, he complains to us, he says, "You have ignored all my counsel."
But who have done so? That prayerless young person,
who lives . . .
as if there was no God in existence,
as if there was no Bible in the world,
as if no such counsel had ever been given.
At night he lies down as thoughtless about his soul, as if he had no soul at all--as careless about salvation as if he needed it not. In the morning he rises equally thoughtless, rushes into the world, goes the round of business or pleasure--and thus treats God's counsel with contempt.
But who have done so? That Sabbath breaker, who robs God of his time, his body of health, and his soul of salvation. One day out of seven, is divinely appointed, for the rest of the body, the refreshment of the soul, the service of God, and preparation for eternity. But this day is spent partly in bed, partly in frivolous amusements, partly in unprofitable company, or perhaps most of it in parties of pleasure. God counsels us to improve it, to enjoy it, to honor him by serving him in it--but the Sabbath breaker ignores all God's counsel.
But who have done so? The men of business, who make their business their god; and to accumulate wealth, the great end of their existence. To them God said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also!" Matthew 6:19-21. But they rise early and stay up late, they scheme and plan, they labor and bustle through life--and the only object they have in view, is to make a fortune, or to rise in society. Thus they ignore all his counsel.
But who have done so? The over-anxious ones, who
are ever worried about the things of time, distracting and distressing their
minds about what they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and how they
shall be clothed. The counsel of God to all such is, "So do not worry,
saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we
wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly
Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his
righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore
do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day
has enough trouble of its own!" Matthew 6:31-34. Yet many are as anxious, as
worried, as troubled--as if there was . . .
no God to care for them,
no promise to secure them, and
no account to be rendered by them!
Thus they ignore all his counsel.
But who have done so? The impenitent sinner, who goes on in his sin, careless, indifferent, and hardened. No warning makes him tremble, no expostulation touches him with compunction, no invitation affects his heart; but he goes on in his course, as the senseless horse rushes into the battle! Yet the Lord has most solemnly warned him, he has most graciously exhorted him, saying, "As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die? Repent, and turn from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies; therefore turn and live! Ezekiel 33:11, 18, 30, 32.
Ah! thoughtless sinner, you are slighting the warning voice of mercy, you are trifling with the messages of tender love, you are heaping up wrath unto yourself against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God! You have ignore all his counsel.
But who have done so? Look on that dying bed, see that poor emaciated form, listen to those bitter sighs and heavy groans! That poor creature has despised God's counsel, and is a fearful illustration of the truth of God's word! He was advised and cautioned--to him the Lord had said, "Hear now, therefore, and depart not from the words of my mouth, lest you mourn at the last, when your flesh and your body are consumed: and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly!" But he turned a deaf ear to the voice which spoke, he made himself like the deaf adder which stops the ear, which refuses to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he ever so wisely. He ignore God's counsel, and would have none of his reproof.
Reader, how is it with you? God has counseled you.
He counsels you still; you cannot read his holy book, or hear a faithful
gospel sermon--but God gives you counsel. He counsels you . . .
by the pen of inspiration,
by the voice of every gospel preacher,
by the example of every holy person,
by the solemn dispensations of his providence,
by the advice of judicious friends, and
by the workings of conscience in your bosom.
God speaks once, yes twice--and man perceives it not. See that you refuse not him who speaks. He notices how you treat his counsel. His eye is upon you while you are reading these lines. He observes the effect which they have upon you. He will call you to give an account of the use which you make of them. Shall he have to say of you, "You have ignore all my counsel--and would none of my reproof!"
Remember, if you are guilty of such, conduct--you must assign a reason for it. You must meet him who counseled you, in judgment. He will soon summon you into his presence, and the period will soon arrive, "when everyone of us shall give an account of himself to God: for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ!" Romans 14:10, 12. "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to what he has done--whether it be good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord we persuade men!" 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11.
O that I could persuade you! O that you would receive the counsel of God, and act upon it. The great day is coming. It will soon be here. The judge stands before the door! The sound of the last trumpet will soon be heard. You will soon be summoned to the judgment, and then if found unsanctified, you must be doomed to weep, wail, and gnash your teeth forever in hopeless despair! O that you were wise, that you understood and believed this; and, that you would consider your latter end!
Sinner, are you still secure?
Will you still refuse to pray?
Can your heart or hands endure
In the Lord's avenging day?
See his mighty arm is bared!
Awful terrors clothe his brow:
For his judgment stand prepared,
You must either break--or bow.
At his presence nature shakes,
Earth affrighted hastes to flee,
Solid mountains melt like wax,
What will then become of thee?
Who his advent may abide?
You that glory in your shame,
Will you find a place to hide,
When the world is enrapt in flame?
Then the rich, the great, the wise,
Trembling, guilty, self-condemned,
Must behold the wrathful eyes
Of the judge they once blasphemed!
Where are now their haughty looks!
Oh their horror and despair,
When they see the opened books,
And their dreadful sentence hear!
Lord, prepare us by your grace!
Soon we must resign our breath;
And our soul be called to pass
Through the iron gate of death!
Let us now our day improve,
Listen to the gospel-voice;
Seek the things that are above,
Scorn the world's pretended joys!