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heart of man, which had till then overflowed with | of time an angel announced to the shepherds of love to God, became hardened with enmity against Bethlehem. Our first parents did not deserve, but him. But satan could not retain the conquest greatly needed the comfort of such a gracious which he had made. The victim whom he had assurance. It has proved effectual in confirming deceived and enslaved was instantly torn from the faith, and animating the hope of God's people his grasp. To punish his treachery, and at the throughout all succeeding generations. same time to defeat his purpose, God said to him, I will put enmity between thee and the woman.' But the evils of the first transgression descended to posterity. By the divine permission satan enjoys, to a limited extent, the influence he had acquired. He has had in every age a numerous offspring, who acknowledge him as their Father, and prove their descent from him by their devotedness to him. They breathe his spirit, bow to his authority, exhibit his likeness, and execute his will. In particular, they all inherit that enmity to God which actuates him; and are thus distinguished from the seed of the woman, who act under a different influence, and pursue an entirely opposite course. It is therefore added, I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed. The seed of the woman is confessedly no other than the promised Messiah, the eternal Son of God, and the Saviour of a perishing world. He undertook to repair the ruins of our fall; and in particular he came to destroy the works of the devil.' But in the seed of the woman' are comprehended all the members of Christ's spiritcal body, whom he redeemed on earth, and represents in heaven, who resemble him in spirit and character, and fight under his banner against the common enemy.
They have in every age been exposed to the effects of satan's enmity. From this source have sprung, more or less directly, all the evils either from within or from without by which they have at any time been afflicted. By him the assaults of temptation are directed, by him also the flames of persecution are kindled. Calumny, reproach, ridicule, blasphemy, with every form and degree of violence against the truth and its friends, have all their origin in the enmity of the serpent. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickednesses in high places.' The agency of the tempter, indeed, does not visibly appear, but its reality is notwithstanding unquestionable. The voice of inspiration has asserted it, the language of uniform experience has demonstrated it, the page of universal history bears witness to it. His names express his enmity as well as his acts. He is satan the adversary, Apollyon the destroyer, the devil an accuser; he is a liar, a deceiver, a murderer, a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
But the enmity which pursues the members of the church was directed chiefly against the person of its divine Head. He who had seduced To the tempter the intimation here made was Eve in the garden assaulted Christ in the wilderfraught with disappointment and alarm. It re-ness. The opposition he encountered, the persecuvealed a purpose which involved his defeat and degradation. He had gained a triumph, but it was to be neither universal nor perpetual. A remedy was provided for all the miseries which he had *tailed on mankind. Even the woman who had Ellen a victim to his treachery, was to commence n her own person, and to continue in her posterity a course of active and successful resistance to his authority. A far mightier than he was to arise who should control his dominion, and drive him from his throne, and cast him into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.'
But the same announcement which spoke the language of terror to the tempter conveyed a Tessage of mercy to man. We read in it a clear and comprehensive revelation of the glorious gospel of the blessed God. We behold in it the irst ray of the Sun of righteousness which dawned our benighted world. We hear in it a publiation of those glad tidings which in the fullness
tions he suffered, the snares that were laid for him, the insults that were heaped upon him, the resistance of avowed enemies, the treachery of pretended friends, were all the effects of satanic enmity. His death was emphatically the 'hour and the power of darkness.' The prince of this world seemed then to be triumphant. But the seed of the woman' conquered by submission. He suffered an injury in the heel; but in return inflicted on his adversary a mortal wound. ‘It shall bruise thy head.'
This he has done effectually in his own person. "Through death he destroyed death, and him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.' Having spoiled principalities and powers he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in his cross.' This he will do actually in the experience of his people. Believing in him they participate in the honours of his triumph, and shall reap the fruits of his victory. Relying on him they are strengthened to maintain the con
knowledge for thyself; wisdom and knowledge | wisdom of God.' Its doctrines are the word of is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, wisdom;' its precepts are the ways of wisdom.' and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings All who believe and obey it have been made have had that have been before thee, neitherwise unto salvation.' The voice of Christ shall there any after thee have the like.' Thus speaks in every part of it, and in every part it appears that 'godliness is profitable unto all it speaks the language of true wisdom. Obthings, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.'
Wisdom comprehends all that is essential to the spiritual and eternal interests of man. It is another name for real and saving religion. In principle, it is faith; in experience, it is peace; and in character, holiness. It is the pearl of great price; it is the one thing needful. Other things may be desirable, this is indispensable. Other things may be needful to some, but all stand in need of wisdom, whether learned or ignorant, high or low, rich or poor.' 'Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting, get understanding. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things thou canst desire are not to compared unto her. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that retaineth her.' And as wisdom is necessary to all, so it is attainable by all. 'Wisdom crieth aloud; she uttereth her voice in the streets, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.' But wisdom is God's gift; as he confers the blessing, so he claims the glory. Let us then live in the spirit of dependence and gratitude, daily asking, 'So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.'
'Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.' Amen.
The publicity of its announcements. heathen oracles uttered their responses in secret, and with studied ambiguity. Error shuns the light; but wisdom 'crieth' that all may hear. She comes forth to the gates of the city, or the streets, and other public places, where all classes of the people usually congregate in the greatest numbers. Thus did Jesus in the course of his personal ministry. In the last day, that great day of the feast, he stood and cried, saying, 'If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.' To Pilate, who asked him of his disciples and of his doctrine, he could say, 'I spake openly to the world, I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.' He had not one doctrine for the rich, and another for the poor; but addressed to the people without distinction and without exception the word of truth and salvation. That which he did in his own person, he commanded the disciples to do in his name, 'What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in the light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the house tops.' It is his will that all men should come to the knowledge of the truth, that they may be saved. Still he cries, Unto you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.' The gospel is recommended by
The kindness and impartiality of its administration. Wisdom crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city,' in the hearing of a large and promiscuous multitude, comprehending persons of every variety of rank and character. No where is the preaching of the gospel so much needed as in places of public resort, frequented as they usually are by the most ignorant, depraved, and worthless of mankind. The master of the feast
commanded his servants, 'Go out into the high ways, and as many as ye shall find bid to the marriage.' In him there is enough and to spare; and as the provision is sufficient for all, so it is offered to all without money and without price.' There is no respect of persons with him. He condemned the proud Pharisees who felt no need of repentance; but kept company with the publicans and sinners, who confessed their guilt, and desired instruction. The gospel is remarkable
By wisdom Solomon intends the Son of God. His
Plainness and simplicity. It speaks not only to the multitude promiscuously, but particularly to individuals. All the knowledge of it which is necessary may easily be obtained even by the most illiterate inquirer. Wisdom crieth not only 'at the gates, at the entry of the city,' but also 'at the coming in at the doors.' Thus Christ taught both publicly, and from house to house. Not only has he placed the word of salvation within our reach, he has brought it to our very doors. He has made it not only accessible, but intelligible to all, so that every man may read and can understand it for himself. And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.' The gospel is characterised by—
have refused, and the means of grace which they have despised, and the opportunities of improvement which they have neglected, and the capacities of usefulness which they have misapplied, will form so many bitter ingredients in their cup of misery. But now is the accepted time.' Let the cry of wisdom, calling to repentance and promising forgiveness, be responded to in the prayer of the publican, who smiting on his breast, and not daring so much as to lift up his eyes to heaven, cried, God be merciful to me a sinner.' Such a cry will assuredly come up with acceptance into the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth, who is not only compassionate and merciful, but faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.'
'Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!' Deut. xxxii. 29.
THE Jews were proverbially inconsiderate. Isaiah complained of them saying, 'The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.' Moses had witnessed many sad proofs of their forgetfulness and folly: and at the close of a long and laborious life, spent in their service, his heart's desire and prayer for them was, 'that they would consider their latter end.' The subject was not more important to them than it is to all. It teaches us that to 'consider our latter end' constitutes true wisdom. By our latter end he means death. But it cannot be profitably considered unless it is properly understood. We understand it to be—
The urgency of its calls and invitations. Accordingly wisdom 'crieth' with an earnest and importunate voice. And she does not wait to be applied to, but goes forth to meet the people 'at the entry of the city,' and there solicits their attention. She perseveres in the attempt, and continues to press upon them with her importunities, following them from the gates' of the city even to the coming in at the doors' of their houses. Truly the Lord is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.' He not only waiteth to be gracious, but employs positive means in order to persuade sinners to turn and live. He addresses them by his word and ordinances, by his ministers and people, by the remonstrances of conscience and the dispensations of providence. He speaks to them in the language of kindness and terror, of promise and threatening, of expostulation and entreaty. Instead of leaving them to the consequences of their criminal resistance, he bears with their indifference and renews his solicitations; he The end of our present state of being, of its raises another and a louder cry; has recourse joys and sorrows, its duties and dangers, its posto more urgent importunity and more powerful sessions and pursuits, its comforts and cares. The means to enforce their compliance. With some hand then forgets its cunning, the tongue is silent, the means prove successful; and when sinners the pulse ceases to beat, and the lungs to breathe; repent and turn to the Lord, he sees in them the whole frame becomes a lump of cold and the travail of his soul, and is satisfied. Others senseless clay. The ties which bind us to our continue impenitent; and over them he utters nearest and dearest friends, and to every thing the lamentation of unavailing sympathy: If earthly, are then broken asunder; for 'they that thou hadst known, even thou, at least, in this have wives shall be as though they had none; thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace; and they that weep as though they wept not, and but now they are hid from thine eyes!' they that buy as though they possessed not; for How fearful, yet how just, will be the con- the fashion of this world passeth away.' And demnation of those who turn a deaf ear to the the change is final. "There is hope of a tree if it cry of heavenly wisdom! They are without ex-be cut down, that it will sprout again. But man cuse; and the invitations of mercy which they dieth and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the
ghost, and where is he? We understand our lat- | cern. ter end to be
The commencement of a future and eternal state of being. The 'dust shall return to the earth as it was; but the spirit shall return to God who gave it.' After death cometh the judgment, which shall try every man's work; and the sentence of the Judge shall admit of no appeal, nor can the consequences which follow, whether happy or miserable, be ever altered, or reversed. They that are Christ's, made perfect in holiness, shall immediately enter on the full and everlasting enjoyment of God; whilst the enemies of his cross and his cause shall be cast into outer darkness, 'where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.' We understand death to be
The universal destiny of man. The stroke of death cannot be resisted by force, nor evaded by artifice, nor set aside by the influence of rank or wealth. One event happeneth to the righteous and the wicked, to the king and his subjects, to the philosopher and the fool, to the man of wealth and the child of poverty, to the sinner of fourscore and the infant of yesterday. I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living. We understand that the event of death may come—
Soon and suddenly upon us. It cannot be far off, and it may be very near at hand. This night thy soul may be required of thee. How often are children carried off before their parents, the scholars before their teacher, the physician before his patients. Boast not thyself of to-morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.' We understand death to be
The penalty of guilt. 'By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death hath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.' In Adam all die, even those who never sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression. But as death is the wages of sin, so 'the gift of God is eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.' To understand death aright we must view it in connection with
The remedy which has been provided for it in the sacrifice of Christ, who by dying took away sin, which is the sting of death, and destroyed him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and delivered them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage, and who are enabled to say, 'Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.' How awfully momentous is the event of death, when thus understood! How unaccountable, how fatal the infatuation which treats it as a matter of trifling or of distant con
All who are truly wise will consider their latter end. Wisdom requires them to consider it with
Serious attention, as a subject in which they are deeply interested, and with which they must very shortly be brought into personal connection. Fools may altogether exclude the thought of death; but instead of being resisted as a presumptuous intruder, it ought to be welcomed as a friendly monitor, and permitted habitually to influence our feelings and conduct. It is not more calculated to alarm the sinner and bring him to Christ, than it is necessary to humble the believer, and excite him to duty. They who are wise will consider their latter end—
Practically, and in the way of diligent preparation, by cultivating a state of mind and character suitable for meeting death. This includes the exercise of a simple and steady reliance on the work of Christ; connected with the cultivation of exalted spirituality, unfeigned and universal repentance, enlarged and active benevolence. Our lamps must not merely have oil in them, they must be filled with it, and exhibit a bright and vigorous flame. Nothing but the privilege of union to Christ realized by faith, evinced in the purification of the heart, and in the victory which overcometh the world, can prepare us to meet death with safety, or warrant us to meet it with confidence and comfort. 'Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They who are wise will consider their latter end—
Without delay. The Bridegroom may tarry, but the delay cannot be long; and the suddenness of his coming may be such as to take even those who love and long for his appearance by surprise. Then 'whatsoever tlty hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.'
Turn you at my reproof; behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you,' Prov. i. 23. WISDOM has a word in season for persons of every variety of character and circumstances. For the ignorant, she has a word of instruction; for the sorrowful, a word of consolation; for the
secure, a word of alarm; for the fearful, a word of encouragement. She speaks here to sinners, to 'simple ones' who 'love simplicity,' to 'scorners' who 'delight in scorning,' to 'fools' who hate 'knowledge;' that is, to wilful, daring, and obstinate transgressors, and for them she has a word of reproof.' Her reproofs are conveyed through many different channels. One of these is
Conscience is a reprover. The sinner may shut his eyes to the light of scripture, and his ears to the voice of the preacher; but where can he find a retreat from the lash of an awakened conscience? By nature conscience is defiled; and it may be blinded through ignorance, or misled by error, or seared as with a hot iron by sensual excess. But the force of natural conscience cannot be altogether subdued; and when its testimony is heard condemning the sinner, and setting before him the terrors of a coming retribution, as in the case of Belshazzar whose 'knees smote one against another' when he beheld the hand-writing on the wall; or of Felix who 'trembled' when Paul 'reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come;' what is this but a message of reproof from heaven? How precious are the reproofs adminis-tered by the counsels of—
The word of God. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for reproof. It points out the evil nature and ruinous consequences of sin, and declares the certainty of a coming judgment, by which 'the wrath of God shall be revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men.' At the same time it deals with the peculiarities of individual character; it holds up to sinners of every description a mirror which reflects the image of their own depravity, and it comes home to the conscience of each in language which reproves alike the indiference of the careless, the duplicity of the hypocritical, the pride of the self-righteous, the impiety of the profane, and the excesses of the voluptuous. For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.' Ministers are reprovers. They are traitors to the cause of Christ who 'speak smooth things,' aying, 'Peace, peace, when there is no peace,' and seek to please rather than to profit and edify people. Their commission runs in these terms, Cry aloud, spare not; lift up thy voice Exe a trumpet, and show my people their transpressions, and the house of Jacob their sins.' Jhn the Baptist did not flatter Herod the king, hat reproved him as he deserved without fear or vour. Of Jesus it is said, that he taught as one aving authority, and not as the scribes; and his Divine influence. This is graciously pro*rvants are commanded to 'preach the word, be mised; for wisdom has said, 'I will pour out my stant in season and out of season, reprove, re- Spirit unto you.' Repentance is man's duty, but ke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.' God's work. We may change the conduct, but he Fular errors must not be countenanced, but renews the heart; we may avoid the act of sin, but rected; prevailing sins must not be connived he destroys the love of it; we may go through *, but condemned; unwelcome truths must not be the forms of duty, but he implants the principle *ncealed, but declared; the vices both of indi- of obedience. To the commandment which says, Fiduals and communities must, without distinc-Turn ye at my reproof,' let us therefore reply, an of rank, or sex, or age, or circumstances, beTurn thou me and I shall be turned, for thou arlessly exposed; the people must be addressed art the Lord my God.' in vague generalities, but in plain, pointed, searching appeals to the conscience and the art. He is a bad preacher who makes the Bearers forget themselves in their admiration of Discourses which give greatest offence frejently do most good.
Christian friendship! Faithful are the wounds of a friend.' David held them in high estimation, 'Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head.' Such reproofs ought to be received as tokens of affection, and listened to as the dictates of wisdom.
The afflictive dispensations of providence speak the language of reproof. Manasseh had been one of the chief of sinners, but solitude and suffering brought him to repentance, and he found mercy. We are prone to complain of our trials, but if we viewed them in the proper light we should see cause to be thankful for them. We ought always to bear in mind that to improve them aright is to be reproved by them. The reproofs of wisdom all aim at one practical object, it is to awaken repentance.' But reproofs cannot produce this effect without the operation of—
Reproofs must be understood in order to be effectual. Wisdom has provided and promised all needful instruction. She therefore adds, ‘I will make known my words unto you.' The Spirit has given the word, but he must also give the capacity to discern its meaning. In his light