Monday, May 30, 2016

Be not righteous overmuch, neither make thyself over-wise:  why shouldest thou destroy thyself?        Ecclesiastes 7:16

.....They are not the words of Solomon himself, but the words of an infidel speaking to him, whom he introduces in several parts of this book; for Solomon had been shewing the misfortunes which attended the truly good, as in the verse before our text.
     Upon this the infidel says, "Be not righteous over-much, neither be thou over-wise:  why shouldst thou destroy thyself?" i. e.  Why shouldst thou bring these misfortunes upon thyself, by being over-strict?  Be not righteous over-much; eat, drink, and be merry, live as the world lives, and then you will avoid those misfortunes which may attend you, by being righteous over-much.....
.....Do play-houses, horse-racing, balls and assemblies tend to promote the glory of GOD?  Would you be willing to have your soul demanded of you, while you are at one of those places?  Many of these are, (I must speak, I cannot forbear to speak against these entertainments; come what will, I shall declare against them) many, I say, of these are kept up by public authority:  the play-houses are supported by a public fund, and our newspapers are full of horse-races all through the kingdom:  these things are sinful; indeed they are exceeding sinful.  What good can come from a horse-race; from abusing GOD  Almighty's creatures, and putting them to that use he never designed for them:  the play-houses, are they not nurseries of debauchery in the age? and the supporters and patrons of them, are encouragers and promoters of all the evil that is done by them; they are the bane of the age, and will be the destruction of those who frequent them.  Is it not high time for the true ministers of JESUS CHRIST, who have been partakers of the heavenly gift, to lift up their voices as a trumpet, and cry aloud against these diversions of the age?  Are they not earthly, sensual, devilish?  If you have tasted of the love of GOD, and have felt his power upon your souls, you would no more go to a play, than you would run your head into a furnace.
     And what occasions these places to be so much frequented, is the clergy's making no scruple to be at these polite places:  they frequent play-houses, they go to horse races, they go to balls and assemblies, they frequent taverns, and follow all the entertainments that the age affords; and yet these are the persons who should advise their hearers to refrain from them; but instead thereof, they encourage them by their example.  Persons are too apt to rely upon, and believe their pastors, rather than the scriptures; they think that there is no crime in going to plays or horse-races, to balls and assemblies; for if there were, they think those persons, who are their ministers, would not frequent them:  but, my dear brethren, observe they always go disguised, the ministers are afraid of being seen in their gowns and cassocks; the reason thereof is plain, their consciences inform them, that it is not an example fit for the ministers of the gospel to set; thus, they are the means of giving that offence to the people of GOD, which I would not for ten thousand worlds:  they lay a stumbling-block in the way of their weak brethren, which they will not remove, though it is a stumbling-block of offence.  "Woe unto the world because of offences, but woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh."  The polite gentlemen of the age, spend their time in following these diversions, because the love of GOD is not in their hearts; they are void of CHRIST, and destitute of the Spirit of GOD; and not being acquainted with the delight there is in GOD and his ways, being strangers to these things, they run to the devil for diversions, and are pleased and delighted with the silly ones he shews them.....
.....I do not mind his despising my youth, and calling me novice and enthusiastic, I forgive him from my very heart:  but when he reflects on my Master; when he speaks against my Redeemer; when JESUS CHRIST is spoken against, I must speak, (I must speak indeed, or I should burst:) when he gives liberty to persons to take a cheerful glass and alleges CHRIST for an example, as in the marriage-feast, saying "CHRIST turned water into ''wine,'' when it is plain there had been more drank than was necessary before, what is this, but to charge CHRIST with encouraging drunkenness?  It is true, the Governor says, "Every man in the beginning sets forth good wine, and when men have well drank, that which is worse; but thou, hast kept the good wine until now:"  but it does not at all follow, that it was not necessary, or that there had been sufficient quantity before:  I would not speak thus slightingly of one of my Master's miracles, for the whole world.  And we may observe, that as CHRIST chiefly visited poor people they might not have wherewithal to buy a sufficient quantity of wine or having more guests than were expected, the wine was expended sooner than they thought; then the Mother of JESUS tells him, "They have no wine;"  he answers, 'Woman, what have I to do with thee?  My hour is not yet come.'  After this he commanded them to fill the water-pots with water, and they filled them to the brim, and this water he turned into wine:  now it does not at all follow, that there was more drank than was necessary; neither would the LORD JESUS CHRIST have continued in the house if there had.  But we have an excellent lesson to learn from this miracle:  by the water-pots being empty, we may understand, the heart of man being by nature destitute of his grace, his speaking and commanding to fill them, shews, that when CHRIST speaks, the heart that was empty of grace before, shall be filled; and the water-pots being filled to the brim, shews, that CHRIST will fill believers hearts brim full of the Holy Ghost:  and from the Governor's observing, that the last wine was the best, learn, that a believer's best comforts, shall be the last and greatest, for they shall come with the greatest power upon the soul, and continue longest there:  this, this my dear brethren, is the lesson we may learn from this miracle.                     
                                                                                George Whitefield 
                                                                                 from the sermon “The Folly and Danger of being not   
                                                                                               righteous enough.”  

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