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lawful, doth wonderfully degrade itself. Methinks it is as a king's son in his princely apparel, playing the scullion, sitting down to turn the spits. A soul living in Christ indeed, hath no vacancy for the superfluous, luxurious demands of flesh, yea, supplies the very necessities of it with a kind of regret. A necessitatibus meis libera me, Domine, said one: Deliver me, Lord, from my necessities.
Oh, raise up your spirits, you that pretend to any thing in Christ; delight in him, and let his love satisfy you at all times. What need you go a begging elsewhere ? All you would add, makes you the poorer, abates so much of your enjoyment of him; and what can compensate that? Put on the Lord Jesus, and then view yourselves, and see if you be fit to be slaves to flesh and earth.
These two, Put on the Lord Jesus, and Make no provision, are directly the representation of the Church, Apoc. xii. A woman clothed with the sun, and having the moon under her feet, needed borrow no beauty from it, or any thing under it. She left the scarlet, and the purple, and the gold, to the harlot after spoken of, for her dressing.
The service of the flesh is a work the Christian cannot fold to, till he forgets what clothes he has on. brethren. Oh that we could be once persuaded to put on Christ, and then resolve and remember to do nothing unbeseeming that attire !
This is all, my
Psal. cvii. 43.
Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the
the loving-kindness of the Lord.
Most men live a brutal sensitive life, live not so much as the life of reason; but far fewer the Divine life of faith, which is further above common human reason than that is above sense. The spiritual light of Grace is that which makes day in the soul: all other wisdom is but night-light. Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness. Eccl. i. 13. This higher sort of knowledge is that the Prophet speaks of.
Having discoursed excellently through the Psalm, of the wisdom, power, and goodness of God, so legible in His providence towards men, and often called up the dull minds of men to consider these His works, and bless Him for them, he closes with this applaudment of their happiness that truly do so, Whoso is wise, &c.
They that spake it, knew not how true their speech is, who have called the world a nest of fools. It is true, there is very little even of natural clearness of judgment amongst men, but surely far less of this true spiritual wisdom. So that if we read this as a question, Whoso is wise ?-Oh, how few are there! And yet, most imagine they are; few are convinced they are fools, and that is the height of their folly. That word is most true, Job xi. 12: Vain man would be wise, though he be born as the wild ass's colt. In youth, he runs wild, unbroken, and unuseful; and in fuller age, hath but a brutish, slavish life, yokes in with beasts in the same kind of labour, or in little better; turmoiling and drudging to serve his base lusts, his gain, his pleasure, and forgets quite what high condition the soul that sparkles within him is born to, and made capable of. In a word, he knows not Go That is both his folly and his misery. How much of life passes ere we consider what we live for! And though all applied, how incapable are a great many to know any thing! Inter homines quid homine rarius ? Among men what more rare than man, a truly rational being ? To this purpose there is a notable word, Job xi. 8, 9.
Now, to stir up your desires and endeavours after this wisdom, consider, that it is the proper excellency of the rational nature, the true elevation of human nature, to be wise. And
they that are not such, and know somewhat of their own defect, yet, would willingly pass for such, and had rather be accounted uncomely, yea, even dishonest, than unwise ; (call a man any thing rather than a fool;) but yet, if they could, would rather have the thing than the reputation of it, and desire really to be wise, if it were in their power.
Now, it were good to work on this design within us, and to have it drawn into the right channel. Would you be wise ? Then, seek true wisdom. What most men seek and admire in themselves and others, are but false shadows and appearances of wisdom; the knowledge either of base, low things, as to scrape and gather together, or else of vain, unprofitable things, and such knowledge as is for the most part but imaginary. For most things in state-affairs take another bias and course, are not so much modelled by wit, as most men imagine. And for the secrets of nature, we have little certain knowledge of them.
How short is our life to attain any knowledge! That is an excellent word, Job viii. 9. But the knowledge here set before us, is the best kind of knowledge, that of the highest things, Divine things. I say, the best kind of knowledge of them, for there are notions even of these things, that have little in them; either curious, fruitless disputations of such points as are most removed both from our notice and our use, or a useless knowledge of useful things. But this is a well-regulated and sure-footed knowledge of Divine things, as God himself hath revealed them.
This wisdom descends from above; therefore, for the attainment of it, these two things are necessary : 1st, To know that we want it, sensibly and feelingly to know this, that we know nothing of the things of God. Multi ad sapientiam pervenirent, nisi se jamjam pervenisse arbitrarentur: Many men would have attained to wisdom, if they had not fancied or imagined that they had already attained it. I speak not now of the lowest sort, the grossly, the brutishly ignorant even of the letter of Divine truths, but such as can give themselves or others, if put to it, a good account of the principles of faith and holiness, have read and heard much, and possibly learned and retained not a little that way, yet still are but ignorants, strangers to this heavenly wisdom. Therefore men must first know this, that they must go anew to school again and become as little children. Wisdom invites no other. Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither. Prov. ix. 4. The strange woman, and so, all the enticements to sin, they invite the same persons, (ver. 16.) but to a directly opposite - end: she calls the fools to befool them, to drown them in folly and wretchedness; but Wisdom calls them, to unbefool them, to recover them and teach them the way of life.
2dly. Being convinced and sensible of the want of it, to use the right way to attain it, to give all diligent attendance on the word and ordinances of God, to desire it of Him. Desire is all: if you desire much, you shall have much. Vent thy desire this way Heavenwards, whence this wisdom descends. This light springs from on high. Man cannot raise himself to it without Another. James i. 5. If any man lack wisdom, if he is but once sensible of that, why then the sweetest, easiest way to attain it that can be desired, is pointed out,-let him ask it of God, who giveth liberally, and upbraideth not ; does neither harshly refuse, nor upbraidingly give it, but delights to give it to them that ask it, even His own Holy Spirit, the spring of this wisdom, as He hath promised.
We are all too little in this humble seeking and begging of this Divine knowledge, and that is the cause we are so shallow and small proficients. If thou cry, and lift up thy voice for understanding, if thou search for it as for hid treasures. Prov. ii. 3. Sit down upon thy knees and dig for it; that is the best posture to fall right upon the golden vein, and go deepest to know the mind of God, in searching the Scriptures, to be directed and regulated in His ways, to be made skilful in ways of honouring Him and doing Him service. This, neither men nor angels can teach him, but God alone. For the Lord giveth wisdom. Ver. 6.
Of this wisdom, we have here the character and the privilege. I. The character : Whoso will observe these things. That looks back to the doctrine of the Psalmist, which is very divinely sweet. He had been extolling the goodness of God in general, in His dealings with men, and instancing in divers occurrent and remarkable particulars the fitness and mildness of His chastisements, the seasonableness and sweetness of His deliverances, as correcting us for our greater good, and relieving us in our greatest need, when we are nearest despairing of relief. This is exemplified in travellers and prisoners, in sick men and seamen, and in the various disposal of the state of all sorts of persons, the highest and the meanest; and the repeated sweet burden of the song is, 0 that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men ! And in the end, he declares the result of all, ver. 42, the joy of the godly, the shame and silencing of the wicked, who usually either mistake, or slight, or despise the providence of God in the rule of human affairs, who readily speak big their own thoughts, which are vain, promising themselves continual success. In the end He shall clear Himself, and gladden the souls of His people, and clothe His enemies with shame. Wait a while, and thus it shall be; they shall change places. He pours contempt upon princes, and sets the poor on high from affliction, and so rights Himself and them that wait on Him. Then the righteous shall see it and rejoice, and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. And it it is a great point of true wisdom, rightly to observe these things.
This observing hath in it, first, a believing notice of these things, to take such instances aright, when they meet our eye, to know these things to be indeed the Lord's doings; and so, when we are in any present strait, to believe accordingly, the same inspection of His eye, and secret conduct of His hand, to be in all. Now, it is a great point to have the heart established in these persuasions. We are generally much defective in this, and they most who least suspect themselves of it. But withal, the observing or keeping of these things, (so the