“Broad is the road that leads to death,
And thousands walk together there;
While wisdom shows a narrow path,
With here and there a traveler.”
“May I at all times hold thy hand,
And still to thee surrender'd stand;
Convinced that thou art God alone,
May I and mine be all thine own.”
”The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18.
We are told in Isaiah 5:20, that there are some who "put darkness for light, and light for darkness." While this has direct bearing, we suppose, upon religious falsehood, it can surely be applied to the false estimate made of themselves by the present vile and degenerate age.
We hear repeated harangues from every class of present life regarding the improvement of the present age over all of its predecessors, in every art and science, and righteousness as well; and yet the cold naked facts in every man's face, give the lie to such "buncombe."
In every department of present life wickedness is rampant, injustice triumphs, and truth and righteousness appear to have fallen in the streets.
It is not only among the lowest, but more so among the highest classes of earthly life, robbery often under the forms of law, prevails. Money is the watchword. Principle is the last and smallest factor in the calculations of this generation.
The ring of a dollar is the most attractive sound to which they can listen; and for money they will, with but few exceptions, sell principle, life, soul anything else, formerly held naturally sacred.
This is a fearful picture, but one vividly true to every close observer of the present trend of mortal life; and one which fulfills the Divine testimony of what shall be in the end of time.
The word does not hold to the theory that met in their course shall be better.
But it is the part of wisdom to know, the children of the regeneration must not forget, that the God of heaven reigns, and "doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand." Daniel 5:35.
In the presence of such Divine assurance we do well to take heed to the subject which we propose to discuss, "Hear ye children," says the inspired testimony in the opening of the chapter from which our text is taken, "the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law."
It would be a reflection upon the God of heaven to suppose that he has not today living witnesses of truth eternal, children who obey the instruction of their father God, who maintain his doctrine, and forsake not his law. "Wisdom," he says, "is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding."
We regard understanding as the application of the "principle thing" (Wisdom). "Forsake her not,” says the testimony in the connection, “and she, shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee." Here is an appeal that is utterly at variance with all the maxims of earth. “The LORD is on the side of the heaviest battalions," said Napoleon Bonaparte, and so says every department of mortal life, in our own, and in every other nation on the globe today.
Bonaparte simply meant that the heaviest battalions would win the day without regard to truth, or justice, and so the world goes today.
Money, fame, worldly power, duplicity, or anything else but truth, are the world-worshipped gods to be regarded in all earthly calculations. But in the church of God, on the holy hill of Zion today as in every age past or future, "Wisdom is the principal thing." “Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her."
To these children, chosen in God the Father, God begotten, and Spiritually born, Spiritual children as God himself is Spiritual, and holy as God himself is holy; only capable of heavenly instruction; "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time." To these children, we say, of grace and of glory, the admonition of our subject (read Proverbs chapter 4,) applies; “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.”
Assuredly do we find that they alone of all earthly classes are kept from the evil ways of earth. The wisdom given is something more than instinct, it is the lamp unto their feet, the star of life add of light, enabling them to avoid and pass by the broad road that heads to destruction; and turns to truth and righteousness as the star turns to the North Pole.
“The path of the just." It is not the broad road that leads to destruction, where the careless and unconcerned walk heedlessly into the gates of death. But "the path," with here and there a traveler. “The path" "which no fowl knoweth, and which the vultures eye hath not seen.'' Job 28:7. The path which the wisdom of this world can neither know nor trace; and those who walk upon that path are the just of God, as justified in the blood and righteousness of the dear Redeemer: for "whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified." Romans 8:28-30.
This path is as "the shining light." In Matthew 13:43, we are told: "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." They shine not by borrowed or reflected light as the moon, but in the inherent native light of the sun, whose light is in itself.
Says the Saviour in Psalm 40:8; "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." So the law of life is in the life being of the children of grace; and they shine in the light of its life, are controlled and kept by its inherent power, are directed and led by its Spirit; "for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 8:1.
Is not this a shining light in a dark and wicked world; and what save Divine power could ever keep a people in such an age, and make them bear witness to truth eternal; the light within them manifesting the indwelling power of gospel grace and glory, and developing the witnesses to gospel truth and order.
"Whose spirits look to God alone."
But this light we are told "shineth more and more unto the perfect day." It does not decrease. The Divine warrant is not that the travelers upon this path shall be more numerous, but that the light shall shine more and more, “for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." Isaiah 11:1-9. It is the clear shining of truth eternal manifested in these earthen vessels to the honor and glory of the great name of Israel's God; and that it shall be manifest more and more; clear, and yet more clear "unto the perfect day."
“THE PERFECT DAY" may have more direct reference to the gospel day, after the legal night had passed, but must refer in its grand consummation to the day of all days, or the bright glory of immortality in which all these streams of light are forever lost, the boundless ocean from which they all proceed, and to which they all return: the perfection of the eternal glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The work of God is perfect in whatsoever light we regard it, whether in time or in eternity. The doctrine and order of the gospel is perfect, whether we attain to that perfection in our profession or not; and in our attainment thereunto we realize the enjoyment of the perfection in our Lord Jesus Christ, and are enabled to shine as witnesses of truth. More clear and perfect shall this testimony be made manifest as we "grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ."
In this glorious life of grace are made manifest the chosen children of God; misrepresented, abused, persecuted, and hunted to death by the wickedness of the world. And in an age like this how beautiful the lives of this people who cannot be bought or driven from "the path of the just." To them are applied the closing words of the connection upon which we write: "Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eye-lids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let ALL THY WAYS BE ESTABLISHED. TURN NOT TO THE RIGHT HAND NOR TO THE LEFT: REMOVE THY FOOT FROM EVIL." Proverbs 4:25-27.
Elder William M. Smoot
The Sectarian, Vol. 18, No. 8
Occoquan, VA, September 1907