Monday, July 26, 2010

Mondays With Matt: Thinking Made Easy

It is the great duty of all young people to be sober-minded. 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:

What Makes Us Better Than Beasts
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.

Why Theology Is Better Than Math
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.

Why You Should Think for Yourself
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 prejudiced 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.

Don't Walk After Every Adventure
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.
*A discourse by the Reverend Matthew Henry. Delivered on Jan. 3, 1712. Sermons by Matthew Henry are hard to come by, since his landmark commentary has overshadowed his preaching ministry. Still, I managed to track down this little gem just for you guys. More to come. -Sean

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