All through the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, the obedient are commended and promised every good thing, while the disobedient are always spoken of inmost condemnatory terms, and threatened with the severest penalties, even that of death. Solomon was one of the greatest characters in the Bible, one of the wisest, and certainly one of the most successful, and in the book of Proverbs attributed to him much stress is laid on the virtue of obedience, in fact it is made very plain that the wise man is obedient, and only the fool disobedient. It would be difficult to put the matter more forcibly than this, for all want to be wise, and there is nothing in the world more useless than a fool. Even life itself is made conditional on obedience, or at least promised as a reward for it, as in "keep my commandments and live;" and that man is characterized as foolish who "fretteth against the Lord," that is, sets his own sense of human will and desires against the divine will, while on the other hand, he who listens to "instruction" is highly commended.

In Isaiah we read, "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land," and in Jeremiah, God is represented as saying to the children of Israel, "Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people," but they did not obey, and so we are told in the next verse that they "went backward, and not forward." Paul classes the disobedient with blasphemers, and "lovers of their own selves," certainly a very appropriate definition, and also with "haters of God." Naaman hesitated to obey when told to wash in the Jordan, because it seemed such a little thing to do; but human life is largely made up of little things, and if we neglect these, then we shall not be ready for the larger ones as they come. When Naaman did obey, he was rewarded by complete healing, and it is perfectly safe to assume that the lesson brought to him vastly more than the mere physical cleansing.

We may, however, find our strongest lesson on obedience in the first book of the Bible. In the story of Adam and Eve, disobedience to a very simple and reasonable command of God was the starting-point for all the ills that flesh is heir to. Our so-called first parents literally had the earth. Everything was at their disposal except the fruit of one tree, and yet they were not satisfied, but must have this one thing as well.

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March 7, 1903

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