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submit to his instructions, he will leave them to wander further and further from the right way. He will “ take the wise in their own craftiness m," and "reveal to babes what he hides from the wise and prudento.”]

Nor will he suffer us to use the appointed means in vain

[Frequent are the assurances which God has given us respecting this And he has made distinct promises to each of the foregoing means. Are we sincere? he will open our eyes. Are we diligent? he will reveal himself to us. Are we importunate in prayer? he will give us liberally, and without upbraiding". No want of learning, no weakness of intellect, shall be any obstacle to him, or deprive us of the benefits which we seeks. On the contrary, he will make use of the weakest and most contemptible of men to confound the wise and mighty] INFER1. How highly should we value a preached Gospel!

[Men spend much time and money in acquiring human knowledge, and are glad to avail themselves of all lectures, public or private, whereby they may gain instruction. But a frequent ministration of divine ordinances, and a faithful dispensation of God's word, are deemed worthy of censure rather than of approbation; and the very persons for whose benefit the word is preached, can scarcely be prevailed upon to lend an ear to the instruction that is freely offered. Little do they think what it is that they thus despise. The ordinances are appointed of God for the express purpose of “converting souls, and making wise the simpleu." How many are there now in heaven, who would have a perished for lack of knowledge,” if the voice of God in his ministers had not reached their hearts, and “ brought them out of darkness into marvellous light?!" Let all then improve the ordinances with diligence, and pray that by means of them they may be “made wise unto salvation '."]

2. How precious should the Scriptures be in our sight!

[It is only at certain seasons that we can attend on public ordinances : but the Scriptures we may read at all times. In them is contained all that we need to know. And the Holy Spirit is promised us, to guide us into all truth”. Let the m 1 Cor. i. 19. and iii. 19,

n Matt. xi. 25. o Ps. xxv. 9, 12, 14. p John vii. 17. q Prov. viii. 17. r Jam. i. 5.

s Isai. xxxv. 8. t 1 Cor. i. 27, 28. u Job xxiii. 12. Ps. xix. 7.

x 1 Pet. ii. 9. y 1 Pet. ii. 2. Heb. ii. 1. 2 John xvi. 13. 1 John ii. 20, 27.

sacred volume then be our delight, and our meditation all the daya. Let us not cavil at any part of it, or say, This is a hard saying ; but let us receive it with meekness, knowing that, if it be engrafted in our hearts, it is able, and shall be effectual, to save our souls.] a Ps. i. 2. b John vi. 60.

c Jam. i. 21.

DCCLV.

PIETY A PRESERVATIVE FROM EVIL. Prov. ii. 10, 11. When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and

knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul, discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.

PIETY, more than any other thing whatever, is regarded with jealousy and suspicion : and it is no uncommon thing for parents to guard their children against its advocates and professors, as they would against persons infected with a contagious disease. What the fruit of this folly, both in parents and children, too generally is, may be easily conceived: the children, taught to dread piety, which alone could preserve them from evil, become the victims of temptation, and fall into every species of iniquity; and the parents not unfrequently are bowed down by the misconduct of their children, till their grey hairs are brought with sorrow to the grave. Men vainly hope to effect that by moral suasion, which nothing but the grace of God can produce: they would have fruit without a root, and blamelessness without any fixed principle of piety in the soul. But the only way in which any man can be kept in one uniform path of goodness and of honour, is, by submitting his soul to the influence of true religion, and surrendering himself up unreservedly to God. This at least was the conviction of Solomon's mind : “When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant to thy soul, discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.” By “wisdom and knowledge” we are not to understand worldly wisdom : for a proficiency in that, however great it may be, is no pledge of morality, no preservative from sin. These terms are used in Scripture to express real piety; and it is that alone which will prove a sufficient antidote to temptation, or become a perennial source of holiness in the life.

In confirmation of this sentiment, I will shew, I. What reception divine truth should meet with— The heart is the proper seat of divine knowledge

[Other knowledge is seated in the head : it is acquired only by deep study, and by force of intellect: nor, in whatever degree it be attained, does it at all sanctify and renew the soul. But the truth of God “enters into the heart:" there is that "incorruptible seed” deposited ; and from thence is it brought forth into life and action. I mean not to say, that the understanding is not to be exercised, or exercised deeply, in relation to divine truth; for, beyond all doubt, every truth must so far approve itself to our judgment, as evidently to appear worthy of God, and suited to our condition : nor should any man give an unrestrained scope to his imagination or affections : for, if he were implicitly to follow them, he would of necessity be led away from the solid maxims of the Gospel: but when once he is convinced of any truth of God, then is he to deliver up his affections to be moulded and directed by it.

To make this clear, let me state what I mean by divine knowledge. The word of God teaches us that sin is an evil of extreme malignity; that, to every soul in which it reigns, it is defiling, debasing, damning. It teaches us that we are altogether incapable of cancelling its guilt, or of subduing its power; and that if we find not a Saviour who is able to effect these things for us, we must inevitably and eternally perish. It teaches us yet further, that the Lord Jesus Christ is precisely such a Saviour as we want, and that he is both "able and willing to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him." Still further, it teaches us the beauty of holiness, and the blessedness of serving and enjoying God. But of what use are these things, as a mere theory? It is only by their being actually experienced in the soul that they can be productive of any solid benefit. But, when truly received into the heart, they set in motion all the affections of the soul, and call into activity our fears and our hopes, our sorrows and our joys.] It should be received there with supreme delight

[Truth of any kind is pleasing to the mind, as all who are accustomed to the investigations of science can attest. But divine truth should generate the sublimest joy; or, as my text expresses it, should be "pleasant to the soul.” It should be to us what light is to the wandering and benighted traveller: he pants for it; and congratulates himself on the very first appearance of its orient dawn. To him it comes as a remedy that is suited to his most urgent necessities. Conceive of the Israelites, when pressed with hunger, or perishing with thirst; with what interest must they have beheld the manna that was showered about their tents! and with what avidity must they have bowed down to drink of the streams that issued from the rock! Or, if it be said that these things are objects of sense, and therefore inapplicable to the point in hand, take the instance of the brazen serpent, which was exhibited to their faith. They felt themselves dying of the wounds which had been inflicted by the fiery serpents: they were perfectly conscious that no physician on earth could help them: and they were informed, that, by God's appointment, a brazen serpent had been erected, in order that, by looking to that, they might be restored to health. Would they hear of that with sceptical indifference, or behold it with an uninterested curiosity ? No: it would be to them a matter of life and death: the

very

first tidings of such an instrument would make them eager for the exposure of it to their view; and when they saw or heard others attesting its efficacy, they would look to it with a desire to experience in themselves its healing power. Now this is the way in which divine truth should be viewed by us. To the ungodly world it is most unwelcome, because it bears testimony against them, and against all their ways: hence " they hate the light, and will not come to it, lest their deeds should be reproved.” But to us it should be an object of ardent desire and supreme delight. We should look to it, not for the purpose of critical discussion, but of grateful application to the soul. Our spirit should be precisely that of the blind man whom Jesus had healed. Our Lord put the question to him, “ Dost thou believe on the Son of God ?” To which he replied, “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him a ?” Here he finds no disposition to speculate upon the subject, as on a matter of mere critical inquiry ; but shews a readiness to admit the truth the moment it should be revealed to him, and to embrace it as the one ground of all his future conduct. Such should be the disposition of our minds also. And when we have attained clearer views of divine truth, we should “rejoice as one that findeth great spoil b."]

That we may be stirred up to seek divine truth in this way, let us consider, II. Its salutary influence when duly received —

“ Discretion will preserve us, and understanding will keep us.” This is the testimony of God himself. But it may be asked, “If common knowledge be not effectual to keep us, or even divine knowledge when a John ix. 35, 36.

b Ps. cxix. 162.

it is that alone which will prove a sufficient antidote to temptation, or become a perennial source of holiness in the life.

In confirmation of this sentiment, I will shew, I. What reception divine truth should meet withThe heart is the proper seat of divine knowledge

[Other knowledge is seated in the head : it is acquired only by deep study, and by force of intellect: nor, in whatever degree it be attained, does it at all sanctify and renew the soul. But the truth of God “enters into the heart :" there is that "incorruptible seed” deposited ; and from thence is it brought forth into life and action. I mean not to say, that the understanding is not to be exercised, or exercised deeply, in relation to divine truth; for, beyond all doubt, every truth must so far approve itself to our judgment, as evidently to appear worthy of God, and suited to our condition : nor should any man give an unrestrained scope to his imagination or affections : for, if he were implicitly to follow them, he would of necessity be led away from the solid maxims of the Gospel: but when once he is convinced of any truth of God, then is he to deliver up his affections to be moulded and directed by it.

To make this clear, let me state what I mean by divine knowledge. The word of God teaches us that sin is an evil of extreme malignity; that, to every soul in which it reigns, it is defiling, debasing, damning. Ít teaches us that we are altogether incapable of cancelling its guilt, or of subduing its power; and that if we find not a Saviour who is able to effect these things for us, we must inevitably and eternally perish. It teaches us yet further, that the Lord Jesus Christ is precisely such a Saviour as we want, and that he is both "able and willing to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him." Still further, it teaches us the beauty of holiness, and the blessedness of serving and enjoying God. But of what use are these things, as a mere theory? It is only by their being actually experienced in the soul that they can be productive of any solid benefit. But, when truly received into the heart, they set in motion all the affections of the soul, and call into activity our fears and our hopes, our sorrows and our joys.] It should be received there with supreme delight

[Truth of any kind is pleasing to the mind, as all who are accustomed to the investigations of science can attest. But divine truth should generate the sublimest joy; or, as my text expresses it, should be “ pleasant to the soul.” It should be to us what light is to the wandering and benighted traveller: he pants for it; and congratulates himself on the very first appearance of its orient dawn. To him it comes as a remedy

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