An Unwise Son

James Smith, 1865


"He is an unwise son." Hosea 13:13

How many parents are tried in their families. This appears to have been the case from the beginning. Adam had a Cain; Abraham an Ishmael; Isaac an Esau; David an Absalom; Solomon a Rehoboam; Ezekiel a Manasseh; and thousands besides had, "an unwise son." This is a source of grief, and a sore trial. But we write not now for parents but for the young. Let us endeavor to:

Describe a WISE son. He is one who will listen to instruction. Especially if the instructor is wise, experienced, and affectionate. He will improve the opportunities that offer for increasing his knowledge, improving his character, and using his talents for a good purpose.

He will avoid temptations, particularly temptations to infidelity, worldly amusements, and youthful lusts.

He will select his companions, and choose such as are moral, industrious, and devoted to God.

He will pursue knowledge in every legitimate way, especially the knowledge of himself, of his duty, and of God.

He will set his heart upon a worthy object, an object worthy of an immortal being, of one capable of enjoying the presence and blessing of God forever. Having set his heart upon a worthy object, he will steadily pursue it until he obtains it.

In a word, he will live and act as an intelligent, accountable, and responsible creature, who views time as introductory to eternity the present as preparatory to the future. Let us now,

Glance at the UNWISE son spoken of in the text. "He is an unwise son." How is he known? What are his characteristics?

He has closed his ear to the voice of wisdom, and he treats the book of God with contempt. He has neglected the most favorable opportunities of acquiring sound, spiritual, and useful knowledge.

He has contracted evil habits, so that it is natural for him to sin, dishonor God, and debase his nature.

He has chosen foolish companions, and has allowed them to lead him into folly, sin, and shame.

He has squandered his time and talents, spending his money for that which is not bread, and his labor for that which satisfies not. He has preferred trifles to matters of importance the trifles of time to the momentous concerns of eternity. He has lost the great end of life, which is to secure deliverance from sin, and a fitness and title to everlasting life.

He is now evidently unwise but how will his folly appear by-and-bye, when seen in the light of a death-bed, or an awful eternity?

Look at him torn with conflicting passions, he can have no peace. He is tortured with bitter reflections, which will never end. He is excluded from happiness and from Heaven. He is the sport of devils and the contempt of Hell. No being in God's universe pities him but all join to condemn his folly, and justify his doom. He must reap through eternity the fruits of what he sowed in time. He has no one to blame but himself. He has destroyed himself. His destruction has been his own act and deed. God is simply just, in executing upon him the sentence of his law, and fulfilling in him the threatenings of his word. He was not far from the kingdom of Heaven once but he is eternally shut out from it now! All that remains for him is bitter reflection, unavailing sorrow, indescribable anguish, eternal despair. Awful condition! Tremendous destiny! Woeful portion!

Reader! are you a wise son? Is your soul set upon obtaining salvation? On obtaining it in God's way? Are you seeking it now? Are you determined to enjoy no rest until you rest in Christ? Salvation is the one object we should pursue, until we enjoy it; and then, being saved, we should endeavor to glorify God to the uttermost, for the salvation he has so freely bestowed.

Are you an unwise son? You have had convictions but have you stifled them? You have felt concern but have you drowned it in worldly pleasures or cares? You have been urged to repent but have you rejected the admonition? Have you delayed and lingered? Remember Lot's wife! She lingered on the plain and perished. Have you become hardened in sin? O fearful state! But think again. You are yet not beyond the reach of hope. You are not yet rejected by mercy. The gospel still calls to you, the strait gate may be passed by you, the way of salvation is open to you, Jesus is willing to save you. Let me beseech you in God's stead, to be reconciled to him. His mercy is great unto the Heavens, and his faithfulness reaches unto the clouds. He will pardon all your iniquities, he will pass by all your transgressions, he will receive you into a father's arms, and press you to a father's heart.

He glorifies his grace, exalts his mercy, and confirms his word in the experience of every coming sinner; and he will do so in you, if you come to him with confession and supplication. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). You have been once more warned shall it be in vain? You are once more invited to Jesus will you still refuse? God's testimony has been once more delivered to you will you again reject it? Have you no fear of Hell? Have you no pity for your own soul? Have you no desire for Heaven? Have you made up your mind to perish in your sin? Do you say there is no hope? But there is hope. There is certainty, for he who believes in Jesus shall be saved, be he who he may; and if you believe in Jesus you shall be saved without doubt. Trust in him, in him alone, and salvation is yours. Trust in any one, or in anything else, and you are eternally undone!