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at the feet of Jesus, as Mary did, drinking in, with insatiable avidity, the instructions of Wisdom, and applying our hearts to them as the clay to the seal. “ In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." In Him is revealed to us “ the mystery that was hid from ages and generations,” and “which the angels themselves desire to look into*;" and the mystery, at the first intimation of which, long “ before the worlds were made, the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God, the holy angels, shouted aloud for joyy." No sooner was the commission given to make this known to men, than a host of the heavenly angels left their bright abodes, and came down to earth exulting, “ Glory to God in the highest! and on earth peace; good will towards men?!"
These are contemplations worthy of our exalted powers, worthy of our high destinies: and to delight ourselves in them is the wisdom, and the happiness of man.] 2. Surrender up ourselves to its dictates
[In every duty of life there is need of the suggestions of wisdom. Even good men often act a very foolish part, for want of a well-regulated mind. Many have no idea of that important truth, “I, Wisdom, dwell with Prudencea.” To“walk in wisdom towards them that are without b," and to "give no offence either to the Jews, or to the Gentiles, or to the Church of God," come not into the contemplation of many, any more than if no such things were required of us, and no such example had been ever set us. But our determination, through God's help, should be, under all circumstances, like that of David, “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way d."
In fact, there is no true wisdom but that which is practical. The very end of knowledge is practice: and, however deep or exalted our speculations may be,“ if we walk not circumspectly, we are fools." But, in order to carry into effect the lessons of Wisdom, we must “watch daily at her gates, and wait at the posts of her doorsf.” We must bring our views, our desires, our motives, to the strictest scrutiny: we must apply to every thing “the line of judgment, and the plummet of righteousness :" and, above all, we must beg of God to give us “ the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, and to make us quick of understanding in the fear of the Lord.” Without this, we shall continually err: without this, we shall inevitably fall.]
“ Hear then the voice of Wisdom, O YE CHILDREN !”
Hear it, 1. Ye children in age
[Ye can never begin too early to listen to the counsels of Wisdom. It is by them only that you can avoid the snares of a corrupt heart, and of a deceitful world ----O! think what dangers are before you: see “ what multitudes are walking in the broad road that leadeth to destruction, and how few there are that walk in the narrow path that leadeth unto life!” and remember, that“ you must reap according to what you sow: if you sow to the flesh, you must of the flesh reap corruption; but if you sow to the Spirit, you shall of the Spirit reap life everlastingh." Say not, that you are too young to receive her lessons : for she particularly encourages you by expressing a more than ordinary solicitude for your welfare: “I love them that love me," says she; "and they that seek me early, shall find mei."] 2. Ye children in understanding
[The poor, whose intellectual powers have never been expanded by the aid of education, are ready to imagine that it is in vain for them to explore the depths of heavenly wisdom. But be it known to all, that divine wisdom enters, not by the head, like earthly knowledge, but by the heart : be it known also, that it is not acquired by deep laborious research, as human sciences are, but by the teaching of the Holy Ghost; (for “ the Lord giveth wisdom; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding :") and so far are the poor from having any reason to despair of attaining it, that they are by far the most likely to obtain it, because they are more willing than others to be taught of God. Hence our Lord himself says, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight?" Pray then to God to “ give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of himm,” and be assured“ it shall be given you",” and you shall be made “wise unto salvation through faith in Christ.”] 3. Ye children in grace
[You have begun to know the value of wisdom: you have a little glimmering view of those great mysteries, of which we have been speaking. “The day-star has arisen in your hearts," and you have found " the ways of Wisdom to be ways of pleasantness and peace.” But you must “go on unto the perfect h Gal. vi. 7, 8.
i ver. 17.
k Prov. ii. 6. i Matt. xi. 25, 26. m Eph. i. 17, 18. n Jam. i. 5.
day,” even till Christ himself, “ the Sun of righteousness, arise upon you with healing in his wings.” O seek to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!" Be constant in your attendance on the ordinances of God; search the Scriptures, and treasure them up in your hearts; and, above all, “ be instant in prayer” for fresh supplies of the Spirit of Christ: then shall you be guided into all truth; and the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven-fold, as the light of seven days."]
THE VALUE OF TRUE WISDOM. Prov. viii. 35, 36. Whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall
obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul : all they that hate me, love death.
IT is common in the prophetic writings to find expressions which really relate to the Messiah, while they apparently speak only of some other person or thing; and while other expressions in the same passage have no proper reference to him at all. It is impossible not to notice this in the 22d and 69th Psalms, and in many other places which are quoted in the New Testament as referring to him. The same mode of speaking, we apprehend, may be observed in the chapter before us. In some parts of it, true religion seems to be characterized under the term “ Wisdom;” but in others, Christ himself. From the 22d to the 31st verse, the language cannot well be interpreted as designating religion, nor even an attribute of the Deity: it can only be understood of God's eternal Son, who lay in the bosom of the Father, and before the foundation of the earth rejoiced in the prospect of becoming an inhabitant of this globe, for the salvation of sinful man. Yet, on the whole, we apprehend, that the exhortation to Wisdom at the beginning of the chapter speaks rather of piety as the proper object of our pursuit. We are sure that this is the general import of the term throughout the book of Proverbs; and that piety, as personified under this name, frequently addresses us. We rather lean therefore to the safe
side in our interpretation of the text, than ground upon it any observations which may appear forced, or unwarranted by the text itself.
Two things then we shall be led to notice; I. The benefit of seeking true wisdom
Wisdom, whether relating to temporal or eternal things, is never found by chance : it must be sought by persevering inquiries, and be obtained as the fruit of diligent research. To those who do find it, it will be productive, 1. Of present happiness
[By "life" we may understand happiness; and then the first clause of our text will exactly correspond with what is more diffusely stated in the third chapter a Till we have attained true wisdom, we know not what real happiness means: “There is no peace,” saith God, “to the wicked.” As for the mirth which the men of this world enjoy, it is only “like the crackling of thorns under a pot ;" it blazes for a moment, and then goes out in spleen and melancholy. He who knows perfectly what is in man, says, “Even in mirth their heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness b.” But when once they have just views of Christ, and are truly devoted to him, they are filled with “ a peace that passeth all understanding," and, at times, with “joy unspeakable and glorified.” Now they begin to know what life is : “ they truly pass from death unto life.” Their former was little better than a state of mere animal existence; but now they see the true end, and taste the true enjoyment, of life : they participate in a measure the blessedness of heaven itself. We appeal to those who have ever known what it is to “ live by faith on the Son of God," and to feel the constraining influence of his love, whether one hour of “ fellowship with the Father and the Son” does not outweigh whole years of fellowship with sin and sinners.] 2. Of future happiness
[" No favour can we find with God," till we are brought to the possession of true wisdom. But, instantly on our embracing his dear Son as he is revealed in the Gospel, we are numbered amongst “ his peculiar people,” whom "he has set apart for himself,” and esteems as "his jewels.” Then there is no favour that he will not shew them: he will come down and “ make his abode with them, and sup with them.” He will
a Prov. ii. 13—18. In this sense the term occurs elsewhere. See Prov. xxii. 4. 1 Thess. iii. 8. b Prov. xiv. 33.
c Isai. xxvii. 11.
tand irreconcileabrkness and lighoth find
“keep them with all the care and tenderness with which we keep the apple of our eye:" and he will administer to them, in every hour of trial, whatever shall be most suited to their necessities d. In the hour of death especially, “when they are going, as it were, through fire and water, he will be with them :” and, on the instant of their release from this mortal body, he will transport them on the wings of angels to his blest abode, there to behold and participate his glory to all eternity. But who can form any idea of the blessings he will then bestow. It is sufficient for us to know that his word is pledged, and that what he hath promised, he is able also to perform.]
If such be the value of true wisdom, what must be, II. The folly of neglecting it
Sin of every kind is an act of hostility against sound wisdom: and, if the sin be wilful, it is an evidence that our hostility proceeds from a rooted hatred of vital godliness. There is the same mutual opposition, and irreconcileable enmity, between sin and holiness, as between darkness and light : they cannot consist together, nor can the love of both find room to dwell in one bosom. If then we allowedly neglect true wisdom, • 1. We “ wrong our own souls”—
[The soul has strong and just claims, which every sinner resists. As being of a higher nature, and endued with larger capacities, than the body, it claims that the body should submit to its authority. As being the only seat of intelligence, it claims that the body follow its guidance. As being immortal, and doomed to spend an eternity in inconceivable happiness or misery, it claims that the body consult its interests. But when the voice of wisdom is silenced, and sin is permitted to rule in our mortal body, then is the soul wronged in every respect; its authority is slighted; its counsel rejected; its interest sacrificed: it is even made the drudge and slave of the body, to execute its devices and to gratify its lusts. Who does not see, that if any man, for the gratification of avarice, should resist the natural claims of the body for food and raiment, he would be justly and universally condemned? And does he act less foolishly, who, in the manner before mentioned, wrongs his soul ? Yea rather, is not his folly greater in proportion as his soul is of greater value? Truly this is a just picture of one who sins against true wisdom.] 2. We “ love death”—
d Ps. v. 12.