Proverbs 28:26 He that Trusteth in his Own Heart is a Fool - Charles Bridges

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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
26. He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

Note: The final two paragraphs in blue are must-reads.

Contrast the sound and fruitful confidence just mentioned,[2] with man’s natural trust. Our confidence determines our state.[3] To trust an impostor, who has deceived us an hundred times, or a traitor, who has proved himself false to our most important interests, is surely to deserve the name of fool. This name therefore, the Scripture—“using great plainness of speech”—gives to him, that trusteth in his own heart. Bishop Hall calls it—‘The great Impostor.’[4] Has it not been practicing a system of deceit upon us from the first moment of consciousness? Yes, verily, the traitor finds his home in our own bosom, prompting, in concert with our deadly enemy, the most elaborate efforts for our destruction.

The wise man awfully illustrates his own Proverb. It must have been some bitter root of self-confidence, that prostrated his wondrous wisdom in the lowest degradation.[5] Peter also—how did he befool himself in his trust! Presuming upon “the willingness of the spirit,” and forgetting his Lord’s most needful caution against “the weakness of the flesh,”—though named as a Rock, he fell as a reed before the first breath of temptation.[6] Had not the everlasting arms been underneath, it would have been the fall of Judas into the depths of hell. An instructive lesson to show us, that all dependence upon feelings, impulse, native strength, sincere, purpose, or conviction—is vain confidence. Sad experience has convinced us of this. Yet in the blindness of our folly, we are ever ready to trust again—if the Lord prevent not—to our ruin.

Truly, as good Bishop Wilson remarks—‘there is no sin, which a man ought not to fear, or to think himself capable of committing, since we have in our corrupt will the seeds of every sin.’ None of us can safely presume that his heart may not hurry him into abominations, which he cannot now contemplate without horror.[7] If Eve in a state of innocence could believe a serpent before her maker;[8] if “the saint of the Lord” could worship the golden calf;[9] if “the man after God’s own heart” could wallow in adultery, murder, and deceit;[10] if the wisest of men, and the warmhearted disciple just referred to, could sink so low—what may not we do? Surely “all men are liars,”—the best of men, when left to themselves, are mournful spectacles of weakness and instability.[11]

Blessed be our God! our standing is not on the uncertainty of man’s best purpose; but upon the faithful promise, the unchangeable will, the free grace, and Almighty power of God; not therefore on ourselves, but on the Rock, on which the Church is immovably built. We value then a deep knowledge of our indwelling weakness and corruption. Painful and humbling as it is; it establishes our faith, and grounds us in the gospel far better, than walking over the mere surface. This study of the heart strengthens the principle of that holy fear, which enables us to walk wisely, and thus delivers us from the evils of a self-confident state. Indeed, in a path, where every step is strewed with snares, and beset with enemies, what need of the caution—“Walk circumspectly,”—looking on all sides—“not as fools, but as wise!”
[12] A sound confidence is a proof of wisdom. Let it then be a standing maxim in religion to cultivate self-distrust: never to trust ourselves with our own keeping. We are too weak thus needlessly to expose ourselves to danger. We cannot pray—“Lead us not into temptation”—when we are rushing headlong into it—“Deliver us from evil”—when we seem to invite its approach.[13]
[2] Pro. 28:25
[3] Matt. 7:24–27
[4] Title of Sermon on Jer. 17:9 See Bunyan’s Discourse between Christian and Ignorance.
[5] 1 Kings 11:1–8
[6] Matt. 26:33, 35, 41; Matt. 26:69, 70
[7] 2 Kings 8:13–15
[8] Gen. 3:1–6
[9] Ex. 32:2–5, with Ps. 106:16
[10] 2 Sam. 11:4, 17
[11] 1 Cor. 10:13
[12] Eph. 5:15. Comp. Pro. 3:5, 6
[13] Matt. 6:13, Matt. 26:41

Bridges, C. (1865). An Exposition of the Book of Proverbs (pp. 469–470). New York: Robert Carter & Brothers.
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