Prov. iii. 5,6. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and
lean not unto thine own 7inderstanding. In all thy luays ac-
knowledge him ; and he shall direct thy paths.
THE book of Proverbs is not so much desisfned to
open to us the way of salvation, as it is to regulate
our conduct after we have attained the knowledge of
the truth. It abounds with maxims admirably cal-
culated to assist us in our intercourse with men, and
with instructions also relative to our walk before
God. Of this latter kind is the advice given us in
the words which we have just read ; wherein we see,
I. The confidence which God requires of us —
As creatures, we are of necessity dependent on
Him who first gave us our existence ; for in him we
live, and move, and have our being. But it is by
no means sufficient for us to acknowledge this as a
truth which we cannot controvert: we must acquiesce
in it as a state that we approve, and glory in it as
our highest privilege. Our confidence in God must-
be co-extensive with our necessities : it must be — •
1. Entire —
[We must trust in the Lord " with all our heart." There
must be no aversion to such an appointment as unnecessary,
no distrust of it as insufficient. We should view ourselves
as utterly incapable of insuring our own happiness ; and we
should regard God as engaged to order every thing for our
good. We should not for a moment doubt his wisdom to
discern what shall eventually prove best for us, nor his power
to execute it, however great or numerous the difficulties may
be which appear to obstruct its accomplishment. ay, we
must be persuaded, that his love delights in caring for us, and
that his truth and faithfulness will perform all that in his un-
bounded mercy he has undertaken in our behalf. From this
conviction we must commit all our concerns to him, to be
ordered and overruled as he in his infinite wisdom shall see
best. There must be an actual transfer of them (if we may
so speak) into his hands, and a full conviction of mind that
he is able to keep, and will assuredly keep, what we have so
committed to him, so as to bring all our affairs to a blessed and
successful issue *.]
2. Exclusive — •
[We must " not lean to our own understanding," so as to
rely on it for any thing. We are to use our understanding
indeed, but not to transfer to it any measure of that depen-
dence which should be placed on God only. We know not
what would be the ultimate issue of any one thing. We are
ready to suppose, that whatever obstructs our wishes for a time,
will endanger their final accomplishment : whereas God often
makes those very events subservient to his own gracious pur-
poses, and uses them as means whereby his ends shall be ful-
filled. This was remarkably the case with Joseph, in all his
trials : and there is no true Believer who will not acknowledge,
that in his own experience many things which have been de-
sired by him would have proved injurious, and many things
which have been deprecated by him have been overruled for
his welfare. From a full conviction that " a man's way is not
in himself, and that it is not in man that walketh to direct his
steps ""j" we must renounce all idea of planning for ourselves,
any further than in an entire dependence on the Divine gui-
dance and direction. We are doubtless to use all proper
means for attaining what on the whole appears most desirable :
but the relying on our own devices, as calculated of themselves
to insure success, is the thing which God has marked with
» Ps. xxxvii. 5. Willi 2 Tim. i. 12. '' Jer. x. 23.
8 PROVERBS, III. 5,6. [442.
his strongest disapprobation'" The doing of this de-
monstrates our folly '^, and exposes us to the heaviest curse".
We must therefore altogether " cease from our OMn wisdom?']
3. Uniform —
["In all our ways we must acknowledge him;" not in
those only which seem to be of greater importance, but in all
without exception. It is not in the rise and fall of empires
only that God's hand is to be viewed, but in the falling of a
sparrow, or in any event equally insignificant. We are apt to
consider some things as important, and others as unimportant;
but the truth is, that in God's sight nothing is important (ex-
cept as it may advance his glory) ; nor is Ihere any thing un-
important as it relates to us. Many things which in their
effects and consequences have been of the greatest imaginable
importance, may in their origin be traced to the slightest pos-
sible occurrence. If we look into the book of Esther, we
shall see this observation confirmed in its utmost extent. or is
God to be acknowledged only in those events which would be
deemed small, but in those also which are casual, or, as we call
them, accidental : " the lot (than which nothing is more casual)
is cast into the lap, but the whole disposal thereof is of the
Lord." In every thing therefore, whether great or small,
painful or pleasant, concerted or fortuitous, God must be
acknowledged as having sent it, if past, and as having the entire
disposal of it, if future.]
To place this entire confidence in God will be
found our truest wisdom, if we consider,
II. The encouragement he gives us to trust in him —
Wonderful is the promise here given for our en-
couragement; '' He will direct our'paths." But how
will he direct us ? Will he speak to us in dreams, or
visions, or by Urim and Thummim, or by an audible
voice? Or will he go before us in the pillar and the
cloud, as he did before his people in the wilderness;
or answer us, as he did David, in reference to the men
of Keilah, and the Amalekites"^? o: we are not
authorized to expect any thing of the kind : yet will
he direct us sufficiently to preserve us from any ma-
terial error,
J . By his Spirit —
[To «' open the eyes of our understanding" is one of the
Isai. XXII. 8—11, See also Isai. xxx. 1—3. and xxxi. 1—3
J Prov. xxviii. 26. •^ J»r. xvii. 5, 6. f Prov. xxiii. 4.
'' 1 Sam. xxiii. 4, 1 1, 12. and xxx. 8.
most important offices of the Spirit: and, in doing this, he will
purge away from our eyes that film, which obstructs our sight.
Pride, passion, interest, and a thousand other things, incapaci-
tate us for a clear and perfect discovery of our duty: and, till
these be mortified, we are constantly exposed to the most
awful delusions : we are ready at all times to " call good evil,
and evil good ; to put darkness for light, and light for darkness."
But, when our minds are duly enlightened, we see things in
their proper colours. On different occasions, when the
Apostles would have called fire from heaven to consume a
Samaritan village, and when they contended with each other
who should be the greatest, our blessed Lord instructed them
better: and so will he do with us, bringing to our remem-
brance some portion of God's word which bears upon the
point in hand. Thus he fulfils that blessed promise, " that
we shall hear a word behind us, saying. This is the way ; walk
ye in it; when we should otherwise have turned either to the
right hand or to the left"." We say not, that the Holy Spmt
does not sometimes effect this ivitliout the word: we are in-
clined to think he does ; and that too by a kind of impression
on the mind deterring us from evil and guiding us to good*":
but he never does it contrary to the icord. Suffice it to say,
that whether with or without the word, he will guide us into
all truth, so far as shall be necessary for the rectifying of our
views, and the regulating of our conduct.]
2. By his Providence — ¦
[God often interposes for men in a most wonderful
manner, to preserve them from evil, and to guide them into
that which is good. Even a wicked Balaam was obstructed
in his way by God's appointment, in order to awaken him to
a just sense of his duty. A remarkable instance of such an
interposition occurs in the life of David. He, being incensed
against abal for the contemptuous manner in which he had
treated his messengers, and for his ungrateful refusal to ad-
minister to his necessities', had determined to avenge himself
upon him and all that belonged to him. But God put it into
the heart of Abigail to go to meet him, and by mild repre-
sentations to pacify his wrath \ Thus were the greatest
impieties prevented through the intervention of this prudent
female ^ And in this way God often directs the ways of his
people, either sending a friend pei'haps, or a Minister, to suggest
such considerations as shall influence their minds ; or by some
particular occurrence " raising, as it were, a hedge, or build-
ing a wall," to keep them in the path of duty ". It may be,
that the occurrence may occasion much grie£ at the time : but
6 21 . '' Ps Ixxiii. 24. ] John ii. 20, 2J .
' 1 Sam. XXV. 4—11. '' ib. ver. 18 — 31.
' ib. ver. 32— 34. "Hos. ii,6, 7.
10 PROVERBS, in, 5,6. [442.
God knows how to accomplish his own purposes, and will
constrain us all in due time to acknowledge that " he doeth all
things well."]
We will ADD a few words,
1 . To direct your exertions —
[Do not imagine that confidence in God is to supersede
your own personal exertions. You are to labour, as much as
if every thing depended on yourselves; and then to trust in
God, as if nothing had been done by you. You must also
expressly commit your concerns to God in fervent and con-
tinual prayer. The Psalmist particularly combines this with
confidence in God: " Trust in God at all times, ye people;
pour out your hearts before him°." The confidence that is
unaccompanied with prayer and diligence is mere presump-
tion. We have a beautiful pattern in Jacob, when he was
about to meet his brother Esau. He disposed every thing in
a way most suited to pacify his brother's anger, or, in the
event of not succeeding in that attempt, to secure that part of
his family who were most dear to him: but, whilst he acted
thus, he committed himself wholly to the Lord, and looked
for success from him alone". Thus let there be no want of
prudence or of diligence on your part; and then you may be
assured that God will not suflfer you to be disappointed of
your hope.]
2. To regulate your expectations —
[Though God promises to direct your paths, he will not
so direct you as to keep you from every degree of error. The
Apostles themselves, though in what they declared to be the
will of God they were inspired to utter nothing but what was
true, were not infallible in their own personal conduct. Peter
greatly erred on one occasion, in his conduct towards the
Gentiles; as Paul also did in reviling God's high priest. You
niust not therefore conceive that you are certainly and alloaelhtr
right, because you have prayed to God for direction: God may
have many wise and gracious purposes to answer by leavmtr
you still under s(mie measure of darkness and ignorance : if it
be only to humble you still more, and to shew you the blindness
of your minds and the deceitfulness of your hearts, it is a good
and gracious end, for which you will in the issue see reason to
be thankful. Be modest then, and diflident in your conclu-
sions: and instead of assuming infalhbility to yourselves, be
always ready to suspect that your way is still far from perfect;
and to the latest hour of your lives be praying to God to lead
you m a right path, and to fulfil to you that gracious promise,
" 1 he meek he will guide in j udgment ; the meek he will teach
his way. ]
Gen. xxxii. 9-32.

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