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Let us magnify him for such distinguished favours; and turn to him “

to-day, while it is called to-day, lest he swear in his wrath that we shall never enter into his rest."] 2. Let all tremble at the divine justice

[Though God be so full of compassion, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and live,” yet is he a just and sin-avenging God: "he will by no means clear the guilty.” He sometimes

repays the wicked to their face" even in this life; but there is a day which he has appointed for the full display of his own righteousness; a day, wherein he will render to every man according to his deeds; to those, who have sought for immortality, eternal life; but to the despisers of his truth, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguisho. Let us then get our minds impressed with this thought, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living Gode: and let us instantly comply with his invitations here, that we may be partakers of his promises in a better world.]

c Exod. xxxiv. 7. d Rom. ii. 6-9. e Heb. x. 31.

DCCLIV.

THE WAY OF ATTAINING DIVINE KNOWLEDGE.

Prov. ii. 1–6. My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my

commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding ; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom ; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

WISDOM is justly considered as the first of human attainments. It is that which elevates us in the scale of being, and to it we are indebted for all the most refined comforts of civilized society. But there is a spiritual wisdom totally distinct from that which is merely intellectual, and as much superior to it both in its qualities and effects, as reason is superior to instinct. What this is, and how it is to be attained, we are informed by Solomon in the words before us. Let us then consider, I. Wherein true wisdom consists

The nature of true wisdom is plainly declared in the text

[That which in one verse is called, “Wisdom,” and “ Understanding,” in a subsequent verse is called, “ The fear of the Lord,” and “ The knowledge of God." The wisdom which unregenerate men possess, resides only in the head; but that of which the text speaks is seated in the heart. The former consists merely in a knowledge of men and things, with a faculty of applying that knowledge to present circumstances : but the latter consists in a knowledge of God as reconciled to us in Christ Jesus, together with a correspondent fear and love of his name.

The former enlarges the mind, and directs the conduct in things relating to time: the latter informs and regulates the soul in reference to eternity.] This description is just and accurate

[We confess that the knowledge and fear of God is not so reputed by the world: on the contrary, it is stigmatized as folly and madness. But that which arrogates to itself an exclusive title to the appellation of wisdom, is by no means so deserving of it as this: because, whatever excellencies it possesses, its operations are weak, uncertain, transient: whereas “the wisdom that is from above" brings into subjection every rebellious passion, and progressively prepares us for the enjoyment of our God. It was with this wisdom that the Messiah himself was endued. And it is of this that Solomon speaks, when he declares that nothing else is worthy the name of wisdom.]

Respecting wisdom the text further informs us, II. By what means it is to be attained

The wisdom of this world may be gained by study only: but spiritual wisdom requires, 1. Sincerity,

(If a man have not a disposition to obey the word of God, he will find occasion of cavis and dispute in the plainest expressions. The Pharisees of old, though conversant with the sacred writings, and instructed by our Lord himself, remained ignorant of the truth, because they loved darkness rather than light.” Thus it will be with us. However good the seed that is sown may be, it will never bring forth fruit to perfection, unless it be “received into an honest and good heart.” If we would be truly wise, we must imitate the docility of Cornelius'; or, in the language of the text, we must receive God's word, and hide his commandments with us," as an inestimable jewel which we are solicitous to possess and keep.] 2. Diligenceá Isai. xi. 2, 3. b Prov. ix. 10.

c Acts x. 33.

to “

[This idea is strongly inculcated in the words before us : “ we should incline our ear, and apply our heart to understanding, and seek it as silver, and search for it as for hid treasures." We should consider the inspired volume as an inexhaustible mine, which yields nothing to a superficial observer, but will richly repay those who explore its inmost recesses. To this effect was the direction given to Joshuad; and if we follow that advice, we shall succeed like the Bereans of old. It is the diligent hand, and that only, that can ever make us rich.] 3. Prayer

(Nothing will succeed without prayer. A man might commit to memory the whole Bible, and yet not understand one spiritual truth contained it, if he trusted in his own powers, instead of looking up to God for the teaching of his Spirit. Our blessed Lord assures us, that none knoweth the Father, but he to whom the Son shall reveal himf. And this also is intimated in the repeated direction given us in the text,

cry after knowledge, and lift up our voice for understanding." The Apostles themselves needed to have “ their understandings opened, before they could understand the Scriptures." Yea, established Christians still need “a spirit of wisdom and revelation to be given” to them, in order to their obtaining a juster view of revealed truths". All of us therefore, if we would be taught of God, must cry with David, “ Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy lawi."]

For the encouragement of all, Solomon further declares, III. The certain issue of those means

God is the source and giver of all spiritual knowledge

[Nothing can be more positive than the assertion before us, That “God giveth wisdom, and that out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding." It is in this view that he is called, “ The Father of lights 5;" because as that bright luminary, the sun, was the work of his hands, so all light, intellectual or spiritual, is derived from him. Human learning gives a man no advantage towards the attainment of true wisdom. All, under God, depends on the state of mind with which men seek divine knowledge: if they be willing to “ learn of the Father," he will teach them: if they be too proud to [That which in one verse is called, Wisdom," and “ Understanding,” in a subsequent verse is called, " The fear of the Lord,” and “ The knowledge of God." The wisdom which unregenerate men possess, resides only in the head; but that of which the text speaks is seated in the heart. The former consists merely in a knowledge of men and things, with a faculty of applying that knowledge to present circumstances: but the latter consists in a knowledge of God as reconciled to us in Christ Jesus, together with a correspondent fear and love of his name.

d Josh. i. 8.
g Luke xxiv. 45.
k Jam. i. 17.

e Acts xvii. 11,
h Eph. i. 17, 18.
1 John vi. 45.

f Matt. xi. 27.
i Ps. cxix. 18.

The former enlarges the mind, and directs the conduct in things relating to time: the latter informs and regulates the soul in reference to eternity.] This description is just and accurate

[We confess that the knowledge and fear of God is not so reputed by the world: on the contrary, it is stigmatized as folly and madness. But that which arrogates to itself an exclusive title to the appellation of wisdom, is by no means so deserving of it as this: because, whatever excellencies it possesses, its operations are weak, uncertain, transient: whereas " the wisdom that is from above" brings into subjection every rebellious passion, and progressively prepares us for the enjoyment of our God. It was with this wisdom that the Messiah himself was endueda. And it is of this that Solomon speaks, when he declares that nothing else is worthy the name of wisdom.]

Respecting wisdom the text further informs us, II. By what means it is to be attained

The wisdom of this world may be gained by study only: but spiritual wisdom requires, 1. Sincerity

[If a man have not a disposition to obey the word of God, he will find occasion of cavil and dispute in the plainest expressions. The Pharisees of old, though conversant with the sacred writings, and instructed by our Lord himself, remained ignorant of the truth, because they loved darkness rather than light.” Thus it will be with us. However good the seed that is sown may be, it will never bring forth fruit to perfection, unless it be “received into an honest and good heart.” If we would be truly wise, we must imitate the docility of Corneliuso; or, in the language of the text, we must “receive God's word, and hide his commandments with us," as an inestimable jewel which we are solicitous to possess and keep.] 2. Diligencea Isai. xi. 2, 3. b Prov. ix. 10.

c Acts x. 33.

66

[This idea is strongly inculcated in the words before us : we should incline our ear, and apply our heart to understanding, and seek it as silver, and search for it as for hid treasures." We should consider the inspired volume as an inexhaustible mine, which yields nothing to a superficial observer, but will richly repay those who explore its inmost recesses. To this effect was the direction given to Joshuad; and if we follow that advice, we shall succeed like the Bereans of olde. It is the diligent hand, and that only, that can ever make us rich.] 3. Prayer

[Nothing will succeed without prayer. A man might commit to memory the whole Bible, and yet not understand one spiritual truth contained it, if he trusted in his own powers, instead of looking up to God for the teaching of his Spirit. Our blessed Lord assures us, that none knoweth the Father, but he to whom the Son shall reveal him'. And this also is intimated in the repeated direction given us in the text, to “ cry after knowledge, and lift up our voice for understanding." The Apostles themselves needed to have " their understandings opened, before they could understand the Scriptures." Yea, established Christians still need “a spirit of wisdom and revelation to be given” to them, in order to their obtaining a juster view of revealed truths". All of us therefore, if we would be taught of God, must cry with David, Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy lawi."]

For the encouragement of all, Solomon further declares, III. The certain issue of those means

God is the source and giver of all spiritual knowledge

[Nothing can be more positive than the assertion before us, That “ God giveth wisdom, and that out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding." It is in this view that he is called, “ The Father of lightsk;" because as that bright luminary, the sun, was the work of his hands, so all light, intellectual or spiritual, is derived from him. Human learning gives a man no advantage towards the attainment of true wisdom. All, under God, depends on the state of mind with which men seek divine knowledge: if they be willing to “ learn of the Father'," he will teach them: if they be too proud to

d Josh. i. 8.
8 Luke xxiv. 45.
k Jam. i. 17.

e Acts xvii. 11.
h Eph. i. 17, 18.
1 John vi. 45.

f Matt. xi. 27.
i Ps. cxix. 18.

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