« PreviousContinue »
But in all such cases there is abundant consolation, if only we use, II. The remedy prescribed
The remedy is both simple in itself, and invariably efficacious: “ Commit your works unto the Lord” —
[Believing that God both knows your trials, and is willing to afford you the help you need, carry them to him, and spread them before him, as Hezekiah did the letter of blaspheming Rabshakehd. Then plead his promises, which are so “ exceeding great and precious ;” and “ roll on hime” your entire burthen, assured that “ he will sustain you?," and accomplish your most enlarged desires. This is the direction given to every living manh: and,]
In the performance of this duty you will find effectual relief
[Nothing can be more fluctuating than the thoughts of men, especially in seasons of great embarrassment. But the very instant we commit our works to God, “our thoughts" become composed, and peaceful, and “ established.” God has taught us to expect thisi: and to what an extent he fulfils his word, we may see in Hezekiah; who, from a state of the most extreme distress, was filled in an instant with the liveliest joy and most confident exultation - - -] OBSERVE, then, with humble and adoring gratitude,
1. How exalted are the privileges of the true Christian!
[It is your privilege, Brethren, to be “ without carefulness," both in relation to your temporal concerns m, and even in respect to your immortal souls". All your care, whether for the one and the other, should " be cast on God, who careth for you.” Then, though you will have many trials to bear, you shall be able to say with Paul, “ We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed P." Be your trials what they may, “ you shall be more than conquerors over all."]
d Isai. xxxvii. 14. e See the marginal reading. ? Ps. lv. 22. & Ps. lxxxi. 10. h Ps. xxxvii. 5. and the margin there, i Phil. iv. 6, 7. and Isai. xxvi. 3. * Isai. xxxvii. 3, 22, 33. See also Ps. xl. 1-3. 11 Cor. vii. 32. m Matt. vi. 25—34. 2 Tim. i. 12. 0 1 Pet. v. 7. P 2 Cor. iv, 8, 9.
2. How marvellous is the condescension of our God!
[From low thoughts of God, we are apt to fear that he will not exert himself for us. But he will attend to us, if we trust in him, as much as if there were not another creature in heaven or on earth to attract his notice. Nor is it in great things only that he will interpose for us, but in the smallest that can possibly be imagined. In fact, there is nothing great or small with him; nor indeed is there any thing small as it respects us. Let any one see in Scripture what good arose from the accidental opening of some national records by King Ahasuerus, or what evil arose from David's accidental glance at Bathsheba, and we shall see that we need the divine care in every thing: and in every thing it shall be afforded us, if only we commit our ways to God, and place all our confidence in him. Not so much as a hair shall fall from the head of any of his saints, but according to his all-wise appointment; nor any circumstance occur which shall not be overruled for their everlasting good 9.]
9 Rom. viii. 28.
a th respectestigatio have ein
THE BENEFIT OF EXPERIMENTAL RELIGION. Prov. xvi. 23. The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and
addeth learning to his lips. THE depths of human science can be explored by few, because few have either leisure or ability for learned investigations. The same observation is true with respect to theology also, considered as a science: a very considerable knowledge both of history and ancient languages is required, in order to a full understanding of the various branches of sacred literature. But the spiritual and most essential parts of divine knowledge are totally distinct from these subjects; nor is that species of erudition, which the learned only can possess, at all necessary for the obtaining of a clear and accurate acquaintance with them. There are two books, if we may so speak, and two alone, which we need to know; and they are, the Bible and our own hearts. Till the latter be opened to our view, the former will be only“ a sealed book:” but a discovery of our own hearts will throw an astonishing light upon the sacred oracles; and make innumerable passages, which once seemed obscure and inexplicable, so plain, that “ he who runs may read” and understand them. To this effect Solomon speaks in the words before us; in elucidating which we shall inquire, I. Who are here meant by “ the wise ?”
Solomon certainly did notintend to limit his assertion to those who were possessed of literary attainments—
[Human knowledge, when sanctified by grace, is a valuable instrument in the hands of its possessor, inasmuch as it will qualify him for discharging many duties, which, without it, he would not be able to fulfil. Moses, by being “ learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians," was better fitted to stand forth as the deliverer of Israel: and Paul, notwithstanding he declined using “the words of man's wisdom," was the better furnished for his work by his learned education, and his uncommon proficiency in the studies of his age and nation. Nevertheless it is not such learning that will form our minds to true wisdom. On the contrary, if unsanctified, it will be as inimical to religion as even the most inveterate lusts would be. The more we have of it, the more will “ the things of the spirit appear foolishness unto us ;” and the greater will be our backwardness to seek that spiritual " discernment” which alone can qualify us to judge of them arighta; and it is on this very account that God so often pours contempt upon it and confounds it b.]
Nor was it of persons eminent for worldly prudence that Solomon spake
[There can be no doubt but that true wisdom will make us prudent, for the voice of inspiration says, “I, Wisdom, dwell with Prudence." But there are many who are “ prudent in their own sight,” and in the eyes of the world, who are considered by God as altogether destitute of wisdom a. The Rich Man, who had so judiciously cultivated his grounds as to obtain large crops, and who, to preserve the produce, enlarged his storehouses, would have been accounted prudent by the world; but God gave him most deservedly the appellation of a fool; “Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of theee."]
The persons characterized in the text as wise, are they who are endued with heavenly wisdom
[Some there are, whose "eyes have been enlightened" by the Spirit of God, and whose hearts are regulated by his lively oracles. They have been taught of God to know their own state, and have been formed to a disposition and temper suited
a 1 Cor. ii. 14. b 1 Cor. i. 19, 20. c Prov. vii. 12. d Isai. v. 21. e Luke xii. 20.
to their real characterf. These are the wise, the only wise in the sight of God. And they are truly wise, even though they should be the most illiterate upon earth. We do not hesitate to say that the fishermen of Galilee possessed more true wisdom than all the heathen philosophers that ever existed.]
Their superiority to others will soon appear, if we inquire, II. What are those subjects of which they are so well
able to speak ? Their spiritual views do not at all qualify them to speak on matters of science and philosophy. But there are many things relating to Christian doctrine and experience, of which they can speak more truly, and more accurately, than any other people upon earth:
1. On the deceitfulness and depravity of the heart
[This is a subject with which they are well acquainted; nor are they afraid of declaring it in its full extent. They have found on ten thousand occasions how fatally their heart has deceived them, what false glosses it puts upon any thing which it is desirous to retain, and what specious pretexts it will suggest for rejecting any thing that is distasteful to flesh and blood. They have seen the deep-rooted enmity of their hearts against God, their aversion to all holy exercises, and their proneness to do every thing that was evil. In speaking on these points, they speak not by hearsay, or according to a received system, but according to the word of God, confirmed as it has been by their own experiences.]
2. On the suitableness and excellency of the salvation provided for us
[They no more doubt that they need a Saviour, or that the Saviour provided for them is exactly such a one as they want, than they doubt their own existence. They know full well that they could not fulfil the law; they know also that Christ has satisfied all its demands by his obedience unto death ; and that by believing in him they shall be interested in all that he has done and suffered. They perceive that in this way of salvation God gives all, and we receive all: and though the pride of their hearts formerly revolted at this, they are now disposed, not only to acquiesce in it, but to thank and adore God for so gracious a dispensation-]
3. On the way in which sinners are brought to the knowledge of Christ
* Eph. i. 17,8. & Jer. xvii. 9.
· [Here they can point out, as in a map, the country which they themselves have travelled over. They have been convinced of sin; they have seen the refuges of lies which they fled to in succession, one after another, till God sent home the law in all its spirituality to their hearts. They have thus been made to despair of saving themselves, and have, like the wounded Israelites, looked simply to him that was lifted up upon the cross. And though there is a great variety in the experience of different persons with respect to these things, yet these are the general outlines in which all true Christians are agreed; and therefore they can speak of them with truth and certainty.] 4. On the nature of the spiritual warfare
[They are daily engaged in maintaining a conflict with sin and Satan. They have within them the two principles of flesh and spirit, which are continually struggling, as fire and water, to subdue each otherh. They know the discouragements and fears with which the Christian is assailed, and the consolations and joys with which he is revived. Nor are they “ignorant of Satan's devices,” having often “ withstood his wiles," and “ repelled his fiery darts.” On these subjects their mouth is taught, and learning is added to their lips.]
The world are often struck with this fact, and ask with amazement, III. Whence it is that they have attained this know
ledge? Experience, under God, is the best teacher; and it is from experience that they know these things—
[They derive not their knowledge from books : for many either cannot read, or never have studied the writings of men upon those subjects. Nor have they received their instructions from man: for though God taught them by man, yet God alone made the word effectual to open their eyes; and the very truths, perhaps, which they had heard frequently before without any profit, are suddenly applied to their souls, and made the power of God to their conviction and salvation. In short, it is not merely in their heads, but in their hearts that they know these things: and in speaking of them they can say with the apostle, “ What our eyes have seen, and our ears have heard, and our hands have handled of the word of life, the same declare we unto you. "]
Hence it is that their knowledge of these things is so superior to that of others
h Gal. v. 17.