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per and impertinent from this consideration alone. A man that is upon an urgent affair of life and death, has no leisure for amusement. Such is our situation. We are creatures of a day. Time is vanishing, and eternity is at stake.
3dly, The delusion here is specious, and not easily discovered. A person with these accomplishments is not always enslaved to money, or to sensual pleasures : he therefore pities those who are, and, comparing him. self with others, supposes he is well employed, because his favourite studies are a check upon his appetites, and prevent his selling himself for gold, or running into riot with the thoughtless. Yet an attachment of this sort equally blinds him with respect to his true interest. Will the knowledge of books, or men, or stars, or flowers, purify the conscience from dead works, to serve the living God? It is too plain, that the truths of the Gospel are hid from none more effectually than from many of this character. None cast a more daring or public slight upon the revealed will of God, than some who are admired and applauded on account of their knowledge and learning.
4thly, Your nice and curious reasoners and disputers, that will see (as they profess) the bottom of every thing, and trust to their own judgement and inquiries, independent of the Spirit of God, are another sort of wise persons from whom these things are often justly hid. And this character may be found in many both learned and unlearned : for many have good natural faculties, who have not had the advantages of learning and education. But this spirit is directly contrary to that simplicity, dependence, and obedience of faith, which the Scripture exhorts us to seek after. Its effects are various.
1st, Some (and those not a few) are led to reject the word of God altogether, because it evidently contains
many things above and contrary to their vain imaginations. And herein they contradict the most obvious principles of that reason which they lay claim to. A revelation from God can only be thought necessary or probable, but on the supposition that it is to inform us of something which we could not have known without it. Therefore, to pretend to try the Scripture claim to this character, by such criteria or marks as we possess before-hand, is the same thing in effect as to determine to reject it without any trial at all.
. 2dly, When the Scriptures, as to the letter, are acknowledged to be true, persons of this turn, presuming themselves sufficient judges of the sense, are helped by their ingenuity to explain away all the sublime doctrines of truth, so as to suit the prejudices and apprehensions of their own carnal minds. This, especially when joined with a smattering of learning, has been the chief source of all the errors and heresies which have pestered the church of God in all ages. This is a principal cause why the depravity of man by nature, the deity and atonement of Christ, the operations of the Holy Spirit, and all the doctrines of been denied by men wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight, though evidently contained in the book which they profess to receive as of divine inspiration.
3dly, Even where the doctrines of grace have been notionally received, the same spirit of wisdom can still find occasion to work. When there is more knowledge in the head than experience in the heart, many and various are the evils that often ensue. Disputes and hard questions are started, contentions and divi
sions multiplied, and people are more eager tò perplex others, than to edify themselves. Thus the name and counsels of God are profaned by an irreverent curiosity, and the clear express declarations of his will darkened by words without knowledge. When this natural wisdom puts on a spiritual appearance, no persons are more fatally deceived, or more obstinately hardened. They think they can learn no more, but are wise enough to teach every one: they neglect the use of God's appointed means themselves, and despise them in others: they are proud, censorious, obstinate, and full of conceit. Take care of Satan at all times, but especially when he would transform himself into an angel of light. There is reason to think the things of God are entirely hid, as to their power and excellence, from some who fondly dream that none are acquainted with them but themselves,
The consideration of this subject may lead to a variety of improvement. It may
you, 1. What to fear. A worldly spirit. This in a prevailing degree is inconsistent with a work of grace, and,
, in whatever degree it olitains, or is indulged, will proportionably retard and abate the light and comfort of our souls. The cares and pleasures of this life are by our Lord compared to thorns *, unprofitable and painful; they produce no fruit, but they wound and tear. Yea, they are thorns in the eyes t, which will prevent the great things of God from being perceived.
A spirit of self-dependence. “Be not wise in your
own conceits .” “ If any man think that he know«s eth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to “ know g." God giveth wisdom to the lowly, but he
Matth. xiii, 22. Josh. xxiii. 13. Rom. xii, 16. şi Cor. viii, 2
confounds the devices of the proud. His promises of teaching, leading, and guiding, are made to the meek, the simple, and those who are little in their own eyes.
2. What to pray for. · A simple child-like temper; that you may come to the word as to the light, and look beyond yourselves for the assistance of the Holy Spirit, without which your most laboured inquiries will only mislead
farther and farther from the truth. 3. How to examine yourselves. Not by your notions and attainments in knowledge, for these you may have in a considerable degree, and be wholly destitute of true grace. The word of God supposes it possible that persons may have great gifts*, flaming zeal, and much success, and yet, having no true love to God, be in his sight no better than sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. But if
you would know your state, examine by your prevailing desires. Are your notions of
grace effectual to lead you in the path of duty? Do you
hunger and thirst for an increase of holiness? Does the knowledge you have of Christ lead you to love and trust him? Are you poor in spirit? You know nothing aright, if you know not yourselves.
4. Ye that are believers may see cause to praise the Lord for his dispensations towards you.
1st, Had you been wise in men's esteem, you might have continued fools to the end of your lives. If the Lord has taught you the secret of them that fear him, if he has shown you the way of salvation, if he has directed your feet in the paths of his commandments, then you have the true wisdom which shall be your light through life, and in death
your glory. Therefore,
1 Cor. xiii. 1-3.
2dly, Be not grieved that ye are strangers to human wisdom and glory. These things, which others so highly prize, you may resign contentedly, and say, Lord, “ it is enough if thou art mine.” Nay, you have good reason to praise his wisdom and goodness for preserving you from those temptations which have ensnared and endangered so many.
3dly, Do you desire more of this true wisdom? Seek it in the same way in which you have received the first beginnings. Be frequent and earnest in secret prayer. Study the word of God, and study it not to reconcile and make it bend to your sentiments, but to draw all your sentiments from it, to copy it in your heart, and express it in your conduct. Be cautious of paying too great a regard to persons and parties. One is your master, even Christ. Stand fast in the liberty with which he has made you free; and, while you humbly endeavour to profit by all, do not resign your understanding to any, but to him who is the only wise God, the only effectual and infallible teacher. Compare the experience of what passes within your own breast, with the observations you make of what daily occurs around you; and bring all your remarks and experiences to the touchstone of God's holy word. Thus shall you grow in knowledge and in grace; and, amidst the various discouragements which may arise from remaining ignorance in yourselves or others, take comfort in reflecting, that you are drawing near to the land of light, where there will be no darkness at all. Then you shall know as you are known; your love and your joy shall likewise be perfect, and you shall be satisfied with the rivers of pleasure which are before the throne of God, world without end.