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2. How precious should the scriptures be in our
[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 knowAnd the Holy Spirit is promised us, to guide us into all trutha-Let the 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 an 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 soulse---]
2 John xvi. 13. 1 John ii. 20, 27,
1 Ps. i. 2.
CCCCXXXIX. THE NATURE AND EXCELLENCE OF
Prov. iv. 7. Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wis
dom; and with all thy getting, get understanding.
THE inspired volume is no less useful in rectifying the prejudices of education, than it is in restraining the indulgence of forbidden appetites-As far as relates to the grosser violations of moral duty, the advice of parents and teachers is in unison with the holy scripturesBut we are very rarely exhorted to follow that which is the main end and purpose of life-Get wealth, get honour, are the lessons inculcated on all the rising generation-David however sets us a better example-He earnestly intreated his son above all things to cultivate true religion-And Solomon, having reaped much advantage from those instructions, has left them on record for our benefit - We shall endeavour I. To shew the nature and excellence of true wisdom
That which is usually termed wisdom is far from being the object so extolled in the text
We mean not to depreciate the attainments of art or science—They are valuable in themselves, and, if duly improved, may, like the Egyptian gold, enrich and beautify the sanctuary of God-But the wisdom spoken of in the text, has respect entirely to spiritual things~]
a Ver. 3-7.
True wisdom is the proposing of the best ends and prosecuting of them by the fittest means
[There is no end so worthy to be pursued by a ratiorial creature, as the sanctification and salvation of his own soul Nor are there any means of attaining it so proper, as those prescribed in the holy scriptures-To repent of all our sins, to flee to Christ for the pardon of them, and to seek the renovation of our hearts by the Holy Spirit, are represented as the only effectual means of salvation-These things, it must be confessed, are often called folly-But they are called so only by those, who have never known them by experience-Not one among the holy angels would account it foliy to love and serve God-None of the redeemed in heaven regret that they were once so strenuous in the exercise of religion—The saints on earth are precisely of the same mind with those in heaven --Hence conversion to an holy life is called "a turning of the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the justb”. Even devils and damned spirits would confess that devotedness of heart to God is the truest wisdomCareless sinners are the only beings who dissent from this truth-And they in a little time will assuredly alter their opinion-] Such wisdom is justly termed “the principal thing.”
[There are many other things that are important in their place-But this is far superior to them all-Riches cannot be put in competition with itd_Pleasure, honour, or even life itself, are not worthy to be compared with it - It excels every thing else as much as light excelleth darkness - This exclu. sively deserves the name of wisdom, God himself being witness. It is “the good part-And he alone can be called truly wise, who, like Paul, accounts every thing but loss for that unspeakably excellent attainment.-]
Its excellency being thus established, we may proceed II. To urge upon you the diligent pursuit of it
In the text, with the preceding context, we may see the utmost fervour that language can express-May we
b Luke i, 17.
¿ Wisdom v. 4. What do these rich men, Luke xii. 19, 20. and xvi. 19, 23. now think of their once envied state?
d Job xxviii. 12-19. e Prov. iji. 13-18. f Eccl. ii 13. & Job xxviii. 28. h Luke x. 42.
i Phil. iii. 7,8. VOL. IV.
be animated with the same, while we labour to impress the subject on your minds by the following considerations! -Consider then
1. This wisdom is both more easily, and more cer: tainly, to be attained than any thing else
(With respect to other things, every one has not a capacity for making great attainments-Nor have all, who possess good abilities, an opportunity of cultivating them to advantage-Nor can great industry united with great talents, always insure successk-But nó man ever sought this in vain—The poor fishermen of Galilee were aś capable of comprehending it, as the philosophers of Greece and Rome-We attain it, not by the mere exertion of our own powers, but by the teachings of God's Spirit'-Nor will he ever refuse that heavenly gift to any who seek it with a teachable and childlike disposition">This thought may well encourage all-May we be stirred up by it to seek the unction that shall teach us all things!"_Then will God bestow upon us his promised blessingo-And make us wise unto salvation through faith in Christ-)
2. There is nothing else which will so conduce to our present happiness
[The creature is justly represented as a cistern that will hold no water --All who seek happiness in it are disappointed -Even science itself, which is the most rational of all earthly pleasures, is often a source of sorrow and vexation"-But true wisdom is an over-flowing fountain of joy—In prosperity, it adds a zest to all our comforts; and in adversity, a balm to all our sorrows-In a time of pain and trouble more especially its excellency appears-What can earthly things do to assuage our anguish or compose our minds? But religion enables us to see the rod in our Father's hand, and to know that all is working for our good-St. Paul found it to be wealth in poverty, joy in sorrow, life in death "And such will every. Christian experience it to be in the hour of trial-Shall noi this consideration then quicken our diligence in the pursuit of
3. There is nothing besides this that can in the least promote our eternal welfare
[Our duties, when performed with an eye to God, are a part of religion itself-But, independent of the respect which we have to him in the performance of them, they are of no value in his sight-A person may do many things that are beneficial to society, and yet be dead in trespasses and sinsBut Solomon, specifying the supreme excellency of wisdom, affirms, that it giveth life to them that have it'~No man can perish that possesses wisdom-Nor can any man be saved who is destitute of it?-Shall we not then be prevailed upon to ., seek it?-Shall we disregard the commendations that David and Solomon have given of it?-And shall their importunity be treated by us with coldness and neglect?-Surely such a conduct may well expose us to the most severe of all reflections_]* “ Suffer then a word of EXHORTATION"
k Excl. ix. 11.
1 John i. 13. and vi. 45.
m James i. 5.
[The wisdom here spoken of is not the only thing in the world that is desirable; nor the only thing that you may laudably pursue–There are innumerable other things which demand our attention; and which our several conditions in life render necessary-The text itself supposes, or rather enjoins, that we should labour to get other things—But wisdom is indisputably “the principal thing;" and “ with all our getting we must be mindful to get understanding"—Whatever else be neglected, this must not-It is “the one thing needful”—Therefore, “get it, get it, get it, get it”?" Forsake it. not, neither forget it; exalt it, love it, and embrace it; so shall it be an ornament of grace to.your head, and a crown of glory to your soul”—For whoso findeth it findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord)
• Eccl. vii. 12. z Rom. viii. 6, 13. a Prov. xvii. 16.
If this were the subject of a Commemoration-Sermon, the inten. tion of the founder, and the obligations necessarily attaching to erery member of the society, might be urged as a fourth and more ana propriate consideration to enforce the royal precept given in the text.
b Four times is this repeated, ver. 5, 7. c Prov. viii. 35.
CCCCXL. THE DUTY OF SEEKING GOD.
Hosea X. 12. Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mer
cy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
THE figurative language of scripture may in some cases obscure its import: but, when it is explained, it exhibits the plainest truths in a rich variety of forms, and
tends to fix them on our minds by its attractive infu. ence. We pray God that this observation may be verified, while we open the passage now before us, and consider 1. The duty enjoined
The three first expressions are explained by the prophet himself as collectively importing, that we should
seek the Lord:” but, separately taken, they point out the particular manner in which we should seek him: 1. In the performance of his will
[Though no man ever hopes to reap wheat, where he has sowed only tares, almost all expect to obtain heaven, notwithstanding they have never made it the one object of their pursuit. But the apostle guards us against this fatal error, and assures us, that we shall reap according to what we have sowed.? Would we then have a joyful harvest in the day of judgment, let us not be provoking God by a life of sin; buc turn to him in the way of righteousness; nor let us regard the duties of the first or second table only; but labour to fulfil all his will uniformly and without reserve.] 2. In a dependence on his mercy
[As there are many who hope to find acceptance with God, notwithstanding they seek him not at all, so are there many, who think they make God their debtor by the works they performi and that they can earn heaven, as it were by their own righteousness. But, however we may “ sow in righteousness," we must reap in mercy.” Death is the wages of sin: but life is not the wages of righteousness; all our righteousness are imperfect:b our best deeds are mixed with sin: and therefore we must be contented to accept heaven as the unmerited gift of God through Jesus Christ.']
3, ļn a due preparation of heart to receive his blessings
[It would be in vain for a man to sow his seed on fallow ground. The very rains, which God might send down upon it, would be of no service, if the ground were not purged of its weeds, nor the seed buried in the bosom of the earth. Thus neither can the soul make a just improvement of spiritual blessings, unless it be broken up, as it were, by the divine law. Till this be done, the true way of salvation will appear foolishness. To be diligent in working righteousness, and, after all, to depend on mere mercy, will be thought paradoxical and absurd. But, when once the law is brought home to the con-,
a Gal. vi. 7, 8.
b Isaiah Ixiv. 6.
c Rom. vi. 23. Phil. ii. 9.