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PaulWest
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Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 "Sober-Mindedness Pressed Upon Youth" Matthew Henry sermon modernized and in installments

Dear saints, I've had a burden to make the sermons of Matthew Henry more accessible to youth and people who otherwise wouldn't read Puritan literature. Henry's Bible commentary needs no introduction or fanfare, as most everyone I know has heard of it, or owns it, or at the very least is vaguely familiar with it. Matthew Henry's actual sermons, on the other hand, are quite obscure. They are all but competely unknown to our generation. This is unfortunate, as I find his writings infused with godly wisdom and cleanliness, the epitome of Puritanic holiness and sobriety.

Well, I was recently digging through the ponderous mass of miscellaneous sermons he wrote and came across a gem for youth. In typical Puritanic form, the paragraphs are quite verbose and antiquated in sentence structure and punctuation. I thought I would clean it up a bit - contemporize it with reverence - and make it more accomodating to the average reader. I'm "translating" it step-by-step, point-by-point, and I'll post new sections here in installments. I think it's a wonderful discourse; every bit as comparable to J.C. Ryle's monumental "Thoughts for Young Men". I pray it blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

- Brother Paul

[b]Sober-Mindedness Pressed Upon Young People[/b]
A discourse by the Reverend Matthew Henry. Delivered on Jan. 3, 1712

[i]"Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded" (Titus 2:6)[/i]

It is the great duty of all young people to be sober-minded. In this discourse I shall endeavor to show you, (1) what this sober-mindedness is; (2) what considerations should engage you to be sober-minded, and; (3) how to make such applications in your life. So, to begin, let us see what it is to be sober-minded. This exhortation is proper for both sexes, and all that are within hearing; I beseech you suffer this word and receive it at your peril, for if it come from God, it is at your utmost peril to refuse it. Give this exhortation its full latitude:

[b](1) You must be considerate and thoughtful, and not rash and heedless.[/b] To be sober-minded is to make use of our reason, in reasoning with ourselves and in communing with our own hearts. It is to employ those noble powers and capacities by which we are distinguished from and dignified above the beasts. We learned to walk when we were children; when will we learn to think, to think seriously, to think to the purpose? Our heads are full of floating thoughts, foreign and impertinent. When will we be brought to close and fixed thoughts, to think with concern and application of the great things that belong to our everlasting peace and welfare? We were endued with reason and heart-communion for those great ends, that we might not receive the grace of God in vain, but being rational creatures, we might act as behoves us, as becomes us.

Some have recommended the study of mathematics to fix the minds of young people, but I would much rather it were done by a deep concern about the soul and another world. If such prevailed, it would eventually fix their thoughts to the best purpose; for when we come to see the greatness of that God with whom we have to do, and the weight of eternity we are standing on the brink of, we will see it is time to think, and high time to look about us.

We must learn to think not only of what is just before us, of what merely strikes the senses and affects the imagination, but of the causes and consequences and reasons of things. We should discover truths and compare them with one another, to argue them and finally apply them to ourselves. We should beware of fastening upon thoughts that first pop into our minds, instead of fastening upon those that should come first and which deserve to be first considered.

Multitudes are undone because they are unthinking; inconsideration is the ruin of thousands, and many a precious soul has perished through mere carelessness. The Lord would have us "consider our ways", and retire into our own souls and begin an acquaintance with them. Assuredly, it would be the most profitable acquaintance we could fall into! While we covet to see the world, we are strangers at home. Take time to think! Desire to be alone now and then, and let not solitude and retirement be an uneasiness to you; you have a heart of your own you may talk to, and a God nigh with whom you may have pleasing communion.

Learn to think freely, for God invites you to do so: "Come now, and let us reason together." I encourage you to inquire and think impartially, as the noble Bereans did, searching the scriptures daily to see whether those things which the apostles told them were true. Pure Christianity does not fear the scrutiny of a free thought, but it despises the impotent malice of a predjudiced one. There are certain men, I find, who, under the pretense of being "free-thinkers", endeavour to shock young people's belief of the divine authority of Holy Scripture. By sly insinuation, they try to undermine religion by turning sacred things into jest and ridicule, and by doing so, usurp the honourable character of free-thinkers. They are as far from the freedom they pretend to exercise as they are from the sincerity they protest against. The pride of singularity and a spirit of opposition and contradiction enslave their thoughts as much as implicit thoughts of faith and obedience enslave the minds of righteous men. While they promise men liberty, they do but deceive them, and, under the pretense of reason, ridicule all that agree not with them. They as arbitrarily impose their own will upon men's credulity as ever the church of Rome did, while cursing all that differ from them.

So, beloved, learn to think for yourselves. Think of what you are, of what you are capable of, think of who made you and what you were made for. Think of why you were endued with the powers of reason. Think of what you have been doing since you came into this world. Think of the great work you were sent into the world for; think of the vanity of childhood and youth - of how unavoidably those years are passing away - and determine whether or not it be high time for the youngest of you to begin to be religious and enter in at the strait gate.

As to your particular actions, do not walk after every adventure as do those that despise their own ways, but consider what you do before you do it that you may not have occasion to repent of it afterwards. Do nothing rashly. Always speak and act under the government of the great law of consideration. Ponder the path of your feet, that it may be a strait path. Some people take pride in being careless, and they glory in their shame. But you are not to be thus negligent; set your hearts to all those things that are testified, and think on them with the reason of men. Give them the concern they deserve.



** point (2) coming soon


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Paul Frederick West

 2007/11/22 16:52Profile
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 Re: "Sober-Mindedness Pressed Upon Youth" Matthew Henry sermon modernized a

Quote:

Do nothing rashly. Always speak and act under the government of the great law of consideration. Ponder the path of your feet, that it may be a strait path.



Looking forward to next section, this is a wonderful thing you are doing brother!


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CHRISTIAN

 2007/11/22 17:00Profile









 Re:

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Thank you, brother for doing this. :)

~Joy

 2007/11/22 17:36
PaulWest
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Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 Re: section (2)

[b](2) You must be cautious and prudent, and not wilful and heady.[/b]
You must not only think rationally, but when you have done so, you must act wisely. Walk circumspectly, look before you, look about you; look under your feet and pick your way, not as fools, but as wise. King David said, "I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way," and his prayer was, "Lord, when wilt thou come onto me?" Accordingly, we find that his pupose was performed and prayer answered, as "...he behaved himself wisely in all his ways, and the Lord was with him." Those that govern themselves will God guide, but those that love to wander, God will leave to wander endlessly.

Put away childish follies with other childish things, and do not speak and think like children all your days. Espouse principles of wisdom. Fix to yourselves rules of wisdom, and be ruled by those rules, and acted by those principles. It is the wisdom of the prudent to understand his own way, his own business, and not to censure other people's. Such wisdom will be profitable to direct your measures and steps in all cases. Youth is apt to be bold and venturous, and therefore resolute and peremptory, to its great predjudice. But you are not to be so. Let the place of reason and conscience give check to the violence of appetite and passion, let them rectify the mistakes and overrule the hasty dictates of humor and fancy. Let them reduce the arbitrary and exorbitant power of those tyrants.

How often did Solomon press it upon the young man under his tuition to get wisdom? Recall this: "My son, be wise; wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom, get understanding." You that are launching out into the world must take wisdom to be your pilot, or you are in danger of splitting upon some rock. The conduct of wisdom must be your pillar of cloud and fire as you travel through this wilderness.

Be diffident of your own judgments, and jealous of yourselves. Be careful not to take all things right and entire lest your resolutions resulting from your faulty considerations be proved wrong. Do not say, "I will do so-and so..." or "I am resolved to do such-and-such regardless of what may be said to the contrary..." or "I will walk in the way of my heart, and in the sight of my eyes, whatsoever it may cost me..." Never have any will but what is guided by wisdom. Be willing to be advised by your friends in every case of moment and difficulty, and depend more upon the judgment of those who have more experience in the world than you. Consult with those who are wise and good. Ask them what they would do if they were in your case, and you will find that "in the multitude of counsellors there is safety." And if such advise does not prove well, you shall then have comfort knowing you acted in mature deliberation, for as the thing appeared at the time, you did it for the best.

What brighter character can be given of a young man, than to say, "He is wise"? Or what blacker than to say, "He is wilful"? But would you be wise - not only regarded as wise - but be really wise?

Study the scriptures. By them you will get more understanding than the ancients, more than all your teachers. Make your observations upon the fortune and misfortune of others, taking a pattern by those who do well and a warning by those who do ill. Beloved, look upon both, and receive instruction. But be especially earnest with God in prayer, for wisdom, as Solomon was, for such prayer is both pleasing and prevailing in heaven. "If any man" (if any young man) "lack wisdom" (if he is sensible that he lacks wisdom, his way to it is plain:) "let him ask of God" (and he is encouraged to do it) "for the Lord giveth wisdom". The Lord delights to give wisdom, he gives it liberally, and he has a particular eye to young people in the dispensing of this gift. His word was written "to give to the young man knowledge and discretion."

For those who are willing, but do not care to be scolded, we are told that God gives and upbraids not, and yet if this were not enough to encourage the beggar at Wisdom's gate, there is an express promise to everyone who seeks aright: he shall not seek in vain. This is not a promise with a peradventure, but one with the greatest assurance: "It shall be given him" (James 1:5). To all true believers, Christ is, and shall be made of God wisdom himself.


*** point (3) coming soon


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Paul Frederick West

 2007/11/22 18:36Profile
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 Re:

Thank you dear brother Paul.


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Taylor Otwell

 2007/11/22 19:00Profile
PaulWest
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 Re: section (3)

[b](3) You must be humble and modest, and not proud and conceited.[/b] Sober-mindedness is the same as lowly-mindedness. It is that same poverty of spirit on which Christ pronounced his first blessing (Matthew 5:3), and what is recommended to the younger when Peter writes to be "clothed with humility" (I Peter 1:5).

I have seen more young people ruined by pride than perhaps by any other lust. Therefore let me press this upon you with all earnestness; it is a caution introduced with more than ordinary solemnity. It is this: "Let no man think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but think soberly." Let him think unto sobriety, let him think himself into a sober mind, and always keep in that good mind.

Keep low thoughts of yourselves, of your endeavours both outward and inward, of your attainments and improvements, of all your performances, and all the things you call merits and excellencies. Boast not of a false gift, of what you have not, nor be puffed-up with what you have. Whatever you may have in you that is commendable, treat it as people would their own faults and diminish it, and look much at that in others which is more commendable.

If you are handsome, do not glory in it, nor in your beauty, nor in your ingenious wit. Does your face shine in any respect? Be as Moses was; as soon as he perceived it, he placed a vail over it, not wishing the people to see. Delight more to say and do what is praiseworthy than to be praised for it. Remember: "What hast thou that thou hast not received?" And what have you received that you have not abused? Why then should you boast?

Keep up a quick and constant sense of your manifold defects and infirmities, of how much there is in you, and how much is said and done by you every day. Keep in mind that which you have reason to be ashamed of, and humbled for, think of how many things you fall short in, and in how many more you come short of the rule. You will soon find no reason to be proud of what you know when you begin to see how much you are ignorant of, and you will see how ungood you are when you see how much you do amiss. Dwell much upon humbling considerations, and upon those that tend to take down your high opinion of yourselves. Keep up a humble sense of your necessary and constant dependance upon Christ and his grace, without which you are nothing, and will soon be worse than nothing.

Think not yourselvess too wise, too good, or too old to be reproved and taught to do better. When you are double and triple the age you are now, even then think not yourselves too old to learn, and increase in learning. "If any man thinks that he knows anything" (if he thinks he knows "everything", so that he needs no more instruction) "he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know it" (I Corinthians 8:2). If you deem yourselves wise, become fools that you may be wise. Be sensible of your own folly that you may be quickened to the means of wisdom, and prepared to receive the grace of wisdom.

Have no confidence in your own judgment, nor be opinionative, nor look upon those with contempt that do not think as you do. Be not forward to say, "I hold to so-and-so..." for as a grave divine once told a novice who was laying down the law with great assurance: "It best becomes you to hold your peace." Take heed of thinking yourselves above your business. You that are apprentices, think not yourselves above your service. Humility will make the yoke you are under easy to carry. Think it no disparagement to confine yourselves to your business. Be ashamed of nothing but sin.

It will be yet much worse if you think yourselves above your religion, above the restraints of it, as if it were a thing below you to be afraid of sin, or to make it a thing of conscience concerning your words and actions. But there cannot be a greater disgrace to you than loose walking. Nor think yourselves above the exercises of your religion, as if it were a thing below you to pray, and hear the word of God, and join in acts of devotion, for the greatest honour you can do yourselves is to honour God.

Beloved, let this branch of sober-mindedness appear in your looks and behaviour. Let the show of your countenances be a witness for you, that you are not confident and conceited. Always keep up a due diffidence of yourselves, and a due deference to all about you - and especially to those above you. Be not pert in the way you carry yourselves nor fantastical in your dress. Humility and modesty reigning in the heart are the best ornaments, in the sight of God, and all wise men. These are of great price, and you will find that "better it is to be of a humble spirit with the lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud," for when "men's pride shall bring them low, honour shall uphold the humble in spirit." Yes, they shall be upheld, borne up, and borne out in that honour.


*** section (4) coming soon


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Paul Frederick West

 2007/11/23 11:40Profile
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 Re: "Sober-Mindedness Pressed Upon Youth" Matthew Henry sermon modernized a

This is just outstanding brother, thank you so much.

[i]This exhortation is proper for both sexes, and all that are within hearing;[/i]


Quote:
Multitudes are undone because they are unthinking; inconsideration is the ruin of thousands, and many a precious soul has perished through mere carelessness. The Lord would have us "consider our ways", and retire into our own souls and begin an acquaintance with them. Assuredly, it would be the most profitable acquaintance we could fall into! While we covet to see the world, we are strangers at home. Take time to think! Desire to be alone now and then, and let not solitude and retirement be an uneasiness to you; you have a heart of your own you may talk to, and a God nigh with whom you may have pleasing communion.

Learn to think freely, for God invites you to do so: "Come now, and let us reason together." I encourage you to inquire and think impartially, as the noble Bereans did, searching the scriptures daily to see whether those things which the apostles told them were true. Pure Christianity does not fear the scrutiny of a free thought, but it despises the impotent malice of a predjudiced one.



"Think impartially" ...

[i]Think![/i]


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Mike Balog

 2007/11/23 23:38Profile
PaulWest
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Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
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 Re:

Quote:
This is just outstanding brother, thank you so much.



You're welcome, Mike, Joy, Taylor, Christian. I'm just as blessed as you are when I type these out and see them on the screen, knowing the entire world is reading such godly exhortation. Should it please the Lord, I would like to have these printed in small booklet form one day, a section per chapter, and give them out freely to youth groups. I think they'd make a great companion along with the gospel of John for young Christians just learning to walk. I wish I had heard this wisdom when I started out. Instead of being coaxed into going to Christian rock concerts (to get pumped up) and taught that Jesus wanted to give me an awesome life, I should have been fed these principles. A person just starting out in God can have quite the uninspired sense of what the word "awesome" really means, especially as it pertains to new life in Christ.

Exhortations on piety and humility and sobriety as becoming youth in Christ did not enter my spiritual life until years later, after much upset and confusion and defeat and vanity in church. Where are these teachings today? Why are they buried in dusty crypts between old, mildewed pages and found in the bargain bins at second-hand [i]secular[/i] bookstores? I mention secular, because, for the most part, Christian bookstores won't even carry them at all.

Brother Paul


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Paul Frederick West

 2007/11/24 8:46Profile
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 Re: section (4)

[b](4) You must be temperate and self-denying, and not indulgent of your appetites.[/b] Let me now warn young men to dread the sin of drunkeness, to keep a distance from it, to avoid all appearances of it, and all approaches to it. It has slain its thousands - nay, its tens of thousands of young people, it has ruined their health, brought diseases upon them, and cut them off in the flower of their days. How many fall as unpitied sacrifices to this base lust!

Take heed of the beginnings of this sin, for the way of it is downhill, and many, under the pretense of innocent entertainment and passing the evening in pleasant conversastion are drawn to drink in excess and make beasts of themselves. You should tremble to think how fatal the consequences are, how unfit it renders you for the service of God at night, yes, and for your own job in the morning. How many are thus besotted and sunk into a drowsiness that clothes a man with rags, and yet that is not the worst: it also extinguishes convictions and the spark of devotion and provokes the Spirit of grace to withdraw. It will be the sinner's eternal ruin if it be not repented of, and forsaken in time. The word of God hath said it: "Drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God" and "Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it gives its colour in the cup," (when it is charming and tempting; do not be overcome with its allurements, for it shall) "...bite like a serpent and sting like an adder."

If you saw the devil putting the cup of drunkeness in your hand, I dare say you would not take it. You may be sure this temptation comes from him, and therefore you ought to dread it as much as if you saw him offering it to you. If you saw poison enter the glass, you would not drink it. If strong drink be provoking to God and to the ruining of your souls, such then is much worse than poison! It is even worse than death: there is hell in the cup. I am sorry we cannot urge this more strongly against you, so much as gladly we would the scandal of it, for drinking has grown so fashionable. But whether you will hear or wheter you will forbear, we will insist upon the sin of it, and its predjudice to the soul both here and forever, and beg of you to consider these things and frighten yourselves from it. We will insist likewise upon the real disgrace drunkeness is to a reasonable creature, to one who is hereby spoiled of his crown, and levelled with the brutes. We would convince you to shame yourselves out of it before God and your own conscience.

Drunkeness is a sin that is in a special manner shameful and hurtful to those who profess religion. You that have been well-educated and bred-up in sober families have had examples of sobriety set before you. You have known the honours and pleasures of sober conversation; what a reproach it will be to you if you take up the regimen of a drunkard! What a degeneracy! What a fall from your first love! Tell me, where will it all stop? Perhaps you have already given your name to the Lord Jesus, and dare to sit at his table, partaking of his cup and cup of devils. Let Christians that are made kings and priests by God take a lesson which Solomon's mother taught him: "It is not for kings, oh Lemuel, it is not for kings" (so it is not for Christians) "to drink wine" (but with great moderation) "lest they drink and forget the law" (forget the gospel). And yet this is not all I have to warn you of.

Young people should not be solicitous to have all the delights of their senses wound up to the height of pleasureableness. Be not "desirous of dainties, for they are deceitful meat" (Proverbs 23:3). It is true that although the use of them is lawful, the love of them is dangerous. The indulging of the appetites of the body is oft injurious and predjudicial to the soul. Learn instead to relish the delights that are rational and spiritual, causing your mouths to be out of taste to that which is brutal and belong only to animal life. Be afraid lest by indulging the body and the lusts of it you come by degrees to the black character of those that were "lovers of pleasure more than the lovers of God" (II Timothy 3:4).

The body is made to be a servant to the soul, and it must be treated accordingly. We must give to it as we would give to a servant: that which is just and equal. Let the body have what is fitting, but let it not be suffered to domineer, for nothing is so insufferable as "a servant when he reigneth" (Proverbs 30:22). Be also careful not to pamper it, for "he that delicately brings up his servant from a child, shall have him become his son at the length" (Proverbs 29:21).

Be dead therefore to the delights of sense, and mortify the love of ease and pleasure. Learn to endure hardness, learn to deny yourselves and you will then make it easy to bear the common calamities of human life, as well as sufferings for the sake of righteousness. Those that would approve themselves good soldiers of Jesus Christ must endure hardness, and they must inure themselves to it (II Timothy 2:3).

***** section (5) coming soon


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Paul Frederick West

 2007/11/24 10:35Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
and many, under the pretense of innocent entertainment and passing the evening in pleasant conversastion are drawn to drink in excess and make beasts of themselves



and we probably have multitudes of more entertainment and different kinds of drugs and ways to get high. So i feel as this word is for our generation especially


Quote:
The body is made to be a servant to the soul, and it must be treated accordingly. We must give to it as we would give to a servant: that which is just and equal. Let the body have what is fitting, but let it not be suffered to domineer, for nothing is so insufferable as "a servant when he reigneth" (Proverbs 30:22). Be also careful not to pamper it, for "he that delicately brings up his servant from a child, shall have him become his son at the length" (Proverbs 29:21).



What a word! wisdom...






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CHRISTIAN

 2007/11/24 12:28Profile





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