James Smith, 1860
It is often difficult to make a beneficial impression upon the minds of the young. They are so volatile, and upon such good terms with themselves. Solomon seems to have found it so, just as we do; and therefore he reiterates the same thought again and again in his Proverbs. Sometimes he speaks as with authority — but more generally he assumes the character of a parent — counseling, advising, and beseeching them. Let us adopt one of his exhortations, as our own, and say to our dear young friends, "Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter end." Proverbs 19:20
THE EXHORTATION. "Hear counsel." The young need it, though they too often imagine themselves too wise to require it, and therefore they will not receive it. Here it is given by a man in years — by the wisest of men; and by one who was inspired by the Holy Spirit. It was not for his gratification that he gave it — but for your good. The Savior himself stoops to counsel you. He sees your need, your vanity, and what will be the result of your folly. He therefore counsels you to come to him, and procure . . .
faith, which is comparable to fine gold;
righteousness, represented by white clothing; and
the enlightening influences of his truth, which acts like eye salve.
My young friend, hear and act upon this counsel. "Receive instruction."
It is on the most important subjects — the soul and its salvation;
it is from an infallible source — the inspiring Spirit of God;
it is given in the most interesting manner — in proverbs, parables, histories, narrations, and in plain and simple statements;
it will result in the most noble end — the salvation of the soul, the sanctification of the person, and the glory of God.
"Receive instruction," not merely hear it, or think of it — but embrace it, retain it, meditate upon it, reduce it to practice, and so put it to the proof.
"Hear counsel," if you would escape dangers.
"Receive instruction," if you would become wise and holy.
Hear it attentively,
receive it cordially,
understand it clearly,
be ruled by it daily.
Make it . . .
and your friend.
THE DESIGN OF THE EXHORTATION. "That you may be wise in your latter end." It is to prevent folly at last. That you may be wise in the most trying season of life.
The winter of old age is coming — you will need wisdom then.
The season of death may be at hand — you will need wisdom then. The close of the journey should crown the whole.
Who will be wise in his latter end?
He who is provided against all the needs of the period.
He who has guarded against all the dangers of the season.
He who has secured . . .
safety — eternal safety;
happiness — never-ending happiness; and
whose life has been crowned with usefulness and honor.
Who like the wise virgins, has taken oil in his vessel with his lamp;
who like the faithful and wise steward, is prepared for his lord's coming;
who like the wise builder, has laid his foundation upon a rock;
who like the good servant, has turned his five talents into ten.
Brethren, let us seek grace so to act now — that we may be wise at our latter end. Then we shall have no fear of the Master's coming suddenly; nor shall we be alarmed at death — come when it will, or how it will — but shall anticipate the plaudit and the welcome, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord!"
Look at an old fool — an old sinner, which in Bible language is the same. He has refused to listen to counsel, and to receive instruction, and therefore he has made no provision for . . .
the infirmities of old age,
the solemnities of death, or
the terrors of the judgment.
He must . . .
suffer without solace,
die without hope, and
be judged without mercy!
How pitiable his state, his hoary head, his wrinkled brow, his sunken cheeks, affect us; but we can . . .
render him no help,
give him no hope,
effect no change in his eternal doom.
How blamable his conduct, life was given him to prepare for death; and youth to provide for age — but he has wantonly wasted both!
He was warned — but all in vain.
He was counseled — but with no good result.
Instruction was offered him — but he refused it.
How miserable his condition . . .
his past life condemns him,
his guilty conscience accuses him, and
the holy Judge is at the door ready to pass the most fearful sentence upon him!
He despises himself, he is despised of angels, yes, the very devils who have been accessory to his destruction despise him. There is no pity for him in Heaven — and no one will sympathize with him in Hell. He will be called a fool in all worlds, and will be treated as such by all God's creatures.
My young friend, be counseled, be advised, or in you will the language of the wise man be fulfilled, and "you will 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 my ear to them that instructed me!"
Look at a wise young man, he is happy . . .
happy in his state,
happy in his friendships,
happy in his present experience,
and happy in his future prospects.
He is safe . . .
safe through life, and all its trials;
safe in death, and all its agonies;
safe in eternity, with all its solemnities.
He is approved . . .
approved by all godly men;
approved by his own conscience;
and approved by the Judge of all.
He is honored, honored by all who fear God now, and he will be honored by the heavenly hosts, and the applause of God at last.
You have now the opportunity of obtaining the same happiness, the same safety, and the same honor; let me beseech you to improve that opportunity. You may fall into the snare of the devil, and at your latter end be accounted a fool — beware of it.
Think of Rehoboam, who by rejecting the counsel of the old men, and adopting the advice of the young scoundrels — lost his dignity, his honor, and the greater part of his kingdom, if not his soul.
Think of Amaziah, who despised the counsel of the prophet, until the anger of the Lord was kindled against him, and the prophet said, "I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have not hearkened to my counsel." 2 Chronicles 25:15, 16.
It is a dangerous thing to refuse to listen to the counsels of God's servants, how much more so, to refuse the counsel of his Son.
Reader, you are held responsible for the manner in which you treat God's counsel, and for refusing to receive instruction from his word. See then "that you do not refuse him who speaks."