C. H. Spurgeon
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55. The Thorn Hedge.

The way of the slothful man is as a hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain. - Proverbs 15:19.

IT has been said that the shrewdness of the Scotch nation is owing to the pretty general study of the Book of Proverbs in that country. Of this I am not a judge; but certainly, if carefully followed, the Proverbs of Solomon make men wise for this world with a high order of prudence. God would have his people wise. There is no credit in being a fool, even if you have the grace of God in your heart. To me it seems a duty to make as much of myself as I can, since I am a servant of the Lord: I do not want everybody to think that all my Lord's children are short of wit. In meditating upon this two-leaved proverb, we shall:

I. TAKE THE TEXT IN ITS TEMPORAL BEARINGS.

1. It is clear from the apposition that a slothful man is the opposite of righteous. Certainly he is so. His sins of omission abound. He breaks his word, he vexes others, Satan finds him mischief to do; he is, in fact, ready for every bad word and work.

2. It is not enough to be diligent unless we are righteous; for though the curse is to the idle, the blessing is not to the active, but to the righteous. It is diligence in the service of God, under the Holy Spirit, which wins the reward of God.

3. A slothful man's way is not desirable: "A hedge of thorns."

It is difficult in his own apprehension: a rough and thorny road, and he cannot have too little of it. He would sooner look at it a month than run in it an hour.

It becomes really thorny ere long. His neglects hedge him up, involve him in difficulties, bring losses, and create hindrances.

It becomes painful: he is poor, mistrusted, harshly dealt with by weary creditors, and at last without a livelihood.

It becomes blocked up: he does not know where to turn; he cannot dig, and he tries begging. Laziness gets little pity, and charity itself repels it.

4. A righteous man's way is under a blessing.

It becomes plain as he proceeds in it diligently.

God makes it so.

He makes it so himself.

Other people become willing to aid him, or, at least, to trust him, employ him, and recommend him.

II. THE SPIRITUAL SLUGGARD.

Takes the way of indifference, carelessness, indecision, and unbelief; and this, though it may seem easy, is as full of sorrow as a thorn-hedge is full of pricking points.

He will have his own way; and self-will and obstinacy are briar hedges indeed: besides, his frowardness provokes others to oppose him, and the thorns thicken.

He chooses the way of sin, and he soon finds it full of sorrows, difficulties, perplexities, entanglements, and snares.

By his evil ways, and the inevitable consequences of his sins, he is shut out from God and heaven.

III. THE RIGHTEOUS MAN.

His way is that of faith and obedience.

It has its impediments: these are swept away.

It is frequently mysterious; but it is cleared up.

It is sometimes hilly; but it is the King's highway,

o Wherein we are right.

o Wherein we are protected.

o Wherein we are secured of a blessed end.

Are you wonderfully easy in religion, taking things as they come, in a slovenly way? Then your way will soon become a hedge of thorns. Neglect is quite sufficient to produce an immense crop of thorns and briars.

Do you seek to be righteous? Do you love holiness? Do you know Christ as your Way? Then go on without fear; for your way will be made plain, and your end will be peace (Ps. 37:37).

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