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elsewhere* remarked, that there are three sorts of dreams. Some are in the order of nature; others are in the order of Providence; and a third class are of an order superior to both.
I call dreams in the order of nature, those which ought merely to be regarded as the irregular flights of imagination, over which the will has lost, or partially lost its command.
I call dreams in the order of providence those, which, without deviation from the course of nature, excite certain instructive ideas, and suggest to the minds truths, to which we were not sufficiently attentive while awake, Providence sometimes directing our attention to peculiar circumstances in a way purely natural, and destitute of all claims to the supernatural, and much less to the marvellous.
Some dreams, however, are of an order superior to those of nature, and of providence. It was by this sort of dreams that God revealed his pleasure to the prophets : but this dispensation being altogether divine, and of which the scriptures say little, and being impossible for the researches of the greatest pbilosopher to supply the silence of the Holy Ghost, we shall make no fruitless efforts farther to illustrate the manner of the revelation with which Solomon was honoured.
3. A reason very dissimilar supersedes our stopping to illustrate the subject; I would say, it has no need of illustration. God was wishful to put Solomon to the proof, by prompting bim to ask whatsoever he would, and by engaging to fulfil it. Solo
Discours Hist. Tom. v. p. 184.
mon's reply was worthy of the test.
His sole request was for wisdom. God honoured this enlightened prayer; and in granting profound wisdom to his servants, he superadded riches, and glory, and long life. -It is this enlightened request, and this munificent reply, we are now to examine. We shall examine them jointly, placing, at the same time, the harmony of the one with the other, in a just and
. Four remarks demand attention in Solomon's request to God, and four in God's reply.
I. Consider in Solomon's request, the recollection of past mercies : “ Thou hast showed unto thy servant David, my father, great mercy:" and mark in the reply, how pleasing this recollection was to God.
II. Consider, in Solomon's request, the aspect under which he regarded the regal power. He considered it solely with a view to the high duties on which it obliged him to enter. Thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people which cannot be numbered, nor counted for multitude. Who is able to judge this thy so great a people ?" And in God's reply, mark the apposite seal, with regard to this idea of the supreme authority.
III. Consider, in Solomon's request, the sentiments of his own weakness, and the consciousness of his insufficiency: “I am but as a little child, and know not how to go out, and to come in :" and in God's reply, mark, how highly he is delighted with humility.
IV. In Solomon's request, consider the wisdom of his choice ; “Give, therefore, unto thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people :” and in God's reply, mark how Solomon's prayer was heard,
and his wisdom crowned. Four objects, all worthy of our regard.
I. Consider in Solomon's request, the recollection of mercies. It was the mercies of David, his father. Solomon made this reference as a motive to obtain the divine mercies and aids his situation required. He aspired at the blessings which God confers on the children of faithful fathers. He wished to become the object of that promise in which God stands engaged to “show mercy to thousands of generations of those that love him.” Exod. xx. 6.
This is the first object of our discourse. The privilege of an illustrious birth, I confess, is sometimes extravagantly panegyrised. This kind of folly is not novel in the present age ; it was the folly of the Hebrew nation. To most of the rebukes of their
prophets, they opposed this extraordinary defence: “We are Abraham's seed: we have Abraham to our father.” Matt. iii. 9. What an apology! Does an illustrious birth sanction low and grovelling sentiments ? Do the virtues of our ancestors excuse us from being virtuous ? And has God for ever engaged to excuse impious children, because their parents were pious ? You are the children of Abraham ; you have an illustrious descent; your ancestors were the models and glory of their age. Then you are the more inexcusable for being the reproach of your age:
your age: then you are the faithless depositaries of the nobility with which you have been entrusted : then you have degenerated from your former grandeur : then you shall be condemned to surrender to nature a corrupted blood,
from those to whom you owe
It is true, however, all things being weighed, that, in tracing a descent, it is a singular favour of Heaven to be able to cast our eyes on a long line of illustrious ancestors. I am not about to offer incense to idols of distinguished families : the Lord's church has more correct ideas of nobility. To be accounted noble in the sanctuary, we must give proof of virtue, and not of empty titles, which often owe their origin to the vanity, the seditions, and the fawning baseness of those who display them with so much pride. To be noble in the language of our scriptures ; and to be impure, avaricious, haughty, and implacable, are opposite ideas. But charity, but patience, but moderation, but dignity of soul, and a certain elevation of mind, place the happy above the world, and its maxims. These are characteristics of the nobility of God's children.
In this view, it is a high favour of Heaven, in tracing descent, to be able to cast the eye on a long line of illustrious ancestors. How often have holy men availed themselves of these motives to induce the Deity, if not to bear with the Israelites in their course of crimes, at least, to pardon them after the crimes have been committed? How often have they said, in the supplications they opposed to the wrath of Heaven, "O God, remember Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, thy servants !" How often has God yielded to the strength of these arguments ? How often has he, for the sake of the patriarchs, for the
sake of David, heard prayer in behalf of their children?
Let these maxims be deeply imprinted on the heart. Our own interest should be motive sufficient to prompt us to piety. But we should also be excited to it by the interest of our children. The recollection of our virtues is the best inheritance we can leave them after death. These virtues afford them claims to the divine favours. The good will of Heaven, is, in some sort, entailed on families who fear the Lord. Happy the fathers, when extended on the bed of death, who can say, “My children, I am about to appear before the awful tribunal, where there is no resource for poor mortals, but humility and repent
Mean while, I bless God, that notwithstanding my defects, which I acknowledge with confusion of face, you will not have cause to blush on pronouncing the name of your father. I have been faithful to the truth, and have constantly walked before God, “in the uprightness of my heart.”. Happy the children who have such a descent! I would
prefer it to titles the most distinguished, to riches the most dazzling, and to offices the most lucrative. “O God, thou hast showed unto thy servant David, my father, great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart !"
Here is the recollection of past mercies, the recollection of which God approves, and the first object of our discourse.
II. Consider secondly, in the prayer of Solomon, the aspect under which he contemplated the regal power. He viewed it principally with regard to the