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occur in which conscience is at a loss to discover the path of duty, or to decide between what is lawful and what is merely expedient, Thy word have I hid in mine heart,' Psal. cxix. and knows not either what to think, or how to act; in such circumstances how precious the privilege of being permitted to ask direction from Him who is wise in counsel, and who has promised to guide the meek in judgment, and to teach them his way!
By the word of God we understand the revelation of his will in the holy scriptures. It is his word, inasmuch as it came from him, treats of him, and will lead to him. He is its Author, its subject, and its end. Holy men of God were employed by him as the channels of communication, but they spake only 'as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.'
The bible is proved to be the word of God by its peculiar excellence, and its practical influence; by the originality of its doctrinal discoveries, by the purity of its moral precepts, by the harmony of its different parts, and the perfect adaptation of the whole to the condition of man as a sinner. It requires no addition, is susceptible of no improvement, admits of no alteration; it exhibits
sion of divinity, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.'
To mourners of every description, to those especially who mourn in Zion, who are cast down and disquieted with fears respecting the safety of their spiritual condition, or oppressed with grief and vexation of spirit under a sense of their own exceeding sinfulness, and of the unprofitableness of all their services, and of the little comfort which they have found in religious ordinances, and the small progress which they have made in Christian attainment; to those who lament the hidings of God's countenance, and the absence of all satisfying communion with him; who go mourn-in every part the stamp of truth, and the impresing all the day, walking in darkness, and ready to faint with the sickness of hope deferred; to all such there is provided a never-failing resource, a fountain of rich and refreshing consolation lies within their reach; and they are invited to approach it, taking along with them a form of application, which the Hearer of prayer has himself prepared for them in the words of the inspired psalmist, 'O send forth thy light and thy truth.' As a preparation for duty this prayer is no less appropriate than it is necessary for our comfort in distress. David said, 'I will wash mine hands in innocency; so will I compass thine altar.' Not only the more solemn services of devotion, but every act of religious worship requires the preparations of the heart which are from the Lord. To him we must look for the capacity to serve him acceptably and profitably in the ordinances of his own appointment; and after all that we have done or can do in the work of preparation by examining the state of our hearts, by reflecting on the conduct of the past, and forming purposes of obedience for the future, or otherwise cultivating the frame and feelings which are suitable in drawing near to God, we must have recourse to Him with whom is the residue of the Spirit, and without whom we can know nothing, and do nothing aright. 'Search me, O God, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. O send out thy light and thy truth, let them lead me, let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles; then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy.'
Few men have been so well qualified as David was to appreciate the value of the word of God. He had made it the subject of humble, habitual, and prayerful investigation. It had been his meditation by day, and his song in the night. His knowledge of it, obtained through divine teaching giving effect to his own researches, was extensive, intimate, and experimental. He could say, 'I have more understanding than all my teachers;' and he uttered the language not of ignorant superstition, but of enlightened and practical devotion, when he declared, Thy word have I hid in mine heart.' It is evident that David possessed a very minute and distinct recollection of the word of God. It was his privilege to have constant access to the scriptures themselves; but he had transferred a large por-tion of them to his memory, from whose stores he could derive either subjects of meditation, or motives to duty, or sources of comfort, or helps to devotion, as circumstances might require.
The language of David is strongly expressive of his attachment to the word of God. With Job he could say, 'I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.' What is sweeter than honey? The Psalmist replies, 'How sweet are thy words to my taste; yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.' What is more valued than riches? Hear David again, better to me than It was to him
The law of thy mouth is thousands of gold and silver.'
more precious than anything and everything else. | obedience. Even its dark sayings, and its hard He therefore hid it, as men hide a treasure, which sayings, are revered for their wisdom, and loved for they wish to preserve, but are afraid of losing; and their excellency. The service which it requires is having no other place worthy of its character, approved as a reasonable, and enjoyed as a pleaor fit for its reception, he enshrined it in the sant, and recommended as a profitable service. affections of his heart. Thy word have I hid Therefore,' says David, 'I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way. I will run in the way of thy commandments, when thou hast enlarged my heart.'
in mine heart.' This was in him the testimony of experience. The word of God he had felt to be quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword.' It had taught him the evil of sin, and the beauty It was not for the purpose of concealment, of holiness. He had found it to be a 'lamp to his but rather for the purpose of communication, feet, and a light unto his path.' In affliction it that David hid the word of God in his heart. had been his comforter, and his guide in diffi-My tongue,' says the Psalmist, shall speak culty and distress. When temptation assailed, of thy word.' And again, With my lips have it fortified him with the means of defence and I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.' security; and when conscience accused, it cheered The word of God is not merely a trust which we him with the assurances of forgiveness and fa- should keep with a jealous care, but also a talent vour. In allusion to the effects which it had which we should employ with diligence and zeal produced upon himself, he could affirm that the for the spiritual good both of ourselves and law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; others. No man who knows its value feels any the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise disposition to monopolize the precious treasure; the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, on the contrary, as it is his duty, so it will be rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the his delight to put his fellow-sinners in possession Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of of it; and in attempting to make it the instruthe Lord is clean, enduring for ever; the judgment of good to others, he will render it more ments of the Lord are true and righteous al- productive of benefit to his own soul. 'God be together.' 'Thy word have I hid in mine merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face heart.' to shine upon us. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.'
He hid it there both for convenience and security. We cannot be certain of having the word of God always in our possession, or within our reach. Circumstances may exclude us from the opportunity of reading it; sickness may deprive us of the capacity of reading it. How important, then, to have it laid up in the heart, so as to carry it continually about with us, and to have ready access to it in all places, and on all occasions, for instruction and comfort. For David hid the word, not as the miser hoards his gold, for preservation merely, but for use. It was given not to amuse us with curious speculations, but to influence the affections, to regulate the conduct, and form the cha
THE fullness of Christ constitutes the all-engrossing subject of scripture testimony. 'It pleased the Father that in him all fullness should dwell,' and 'in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.' He is full of compassion; for we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched The only way to render the word of God fruit- with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all ful is to have it hid in the heart. If the seed points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.' is permitted to lie on the surface, instead of being He is full of power; for all power is given to him buried under ground, it would be altogether un-in heaven and in earth;' and 'he is able to save to productive. The incorruptible seed of the word, the uttermost them that come unto God by him, when sown in the soil of a good and honest heart, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for 'takes root downward, and brings forth fruit up- them.' He is full of grace; for 'his grace is exward.' Its truths and precepts, its cautions and ceeding abundant, and of his fullness have we all encouragements, received into the heart, exert a received, and grace for grace:' he is full of truth, powerful and purifying influence, and become so for in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom many principles of holy activity and devoted and knowledge. Let us consider what is the
amount of this representation, and what is the world in the prefigurations of the Mosaic ecouse which we should make of it. nomy, shone forth more and more unto the perfect day.
Peter uttered the language of truth, when, addressing himself to Jesus, he said, 'Lord, thou knowest all things.' As God he is essentially omniscient; and his knowledge, as it is infinite, so it is underived. But it is in his official and delegated capacity that we have now to do with him, as the divinely appointed Mediator between God and man, and Head over all things to his body the church. 'He needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in
By the personal ministrations of Christ upon earth, the treasures of wisdom and knowledge which had been hid in him, were exhibited in rich and abundant profusion. He came that he might bear witness to the truth, and could say, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.' The Jews were astonished at his doctrine, and asked, 'From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him? How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?' But they spake ignorantly, and in unbelief. His doctrine
But he knew it perfectly from the beginning, and now revealed it in order to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God. According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.'
'Wisdom and knowledge' often express the same thing. But in their nature they are essentially different, nor are they necessarily united in the same person. Men of very extensive know-was new to them because it had been hid in him. ledge often discover a very small share of wisdom. But knowledge without wisdom to guide its application can do little good either to the possessor or to others, and may do much evil. Christ combines in himself both wisdom and knowledge: his knowledge is wisdom, for it maketh wise, and without it there can be no true wisdom. It is the knowledge of God, of his attributes, his counsels, his will, and his ways; especially the knowledge of his purpose of redeeming mercy. Of these subjects how little can we know, and how much less can we comprehend! 'No man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.' His understanding is infinite. Nothing is concealed from him; nothing is mysterious to him.
This view of the Redeemer's character serves to show both what he claims from us, and what we may expect from him. Men eminently wise and learned are universally regarded with respect and admiration. Yet how much ignorance and folly do they often discover! The mind of man can know only a few things, and it cannot know In man the acquisition of wisdom and know- any one of these perfectly. But our Saviour is ledge is commonly the result of long and laborious the only wise God. What are the stores of exertions. But from eternity the treasures of wis- wisdom and knowledge which the industry and dom and knowledge were hid in Christ. They ingenuity of man have produced from the beginwere never hid from him; but they are hid in him, ning of the world to the present day, compared laid up in store as a precious treasure, that must with those boundless treasures which are hid in be kept in safety, and be ready for use as circum- him? He is light, and in him is no darkness at stances may require. He had them in himself all. All the wisdom and knowledge which his originally, independently, and inherently; but he creatures can attain to is but a faint emanation has them also in trust for his people. They were of that light in which he dwells, and which no committed to him by appointment of the Father, man can approach unto. To him, then, let us to qualify him for the discharge of his prophetical ascribe glory, and dominion, and blessing, and office. They are hid in him, not that they may be praise. And let us by faith and prayer look to concealed, but that they may be communicated. him as the fountain of all true wisdom and saving He opened his treasures to man at his creation in knowledge, that he may give unto us 'the spirit the light of nature around him, and of conscience of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of within him. He unfolded them anew to him him; that the eyes of our understanding being immediately after his fall in a revelation of mercy, enlightened we may know what is the hope of and in the promise of deliverance. To patriarchs our calling, and what the riches of the glory of and prophets in succession the same gracious our inheritance in the saints; that we may grow discoveries were repeated with increasing full-in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and ness; and the light which had dawned upon the Saviour Jesus Christ. Till we all come in the
unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the | read that God gave Solomon wisdom.' Daniel Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the mea- afforded proofs of extraordinary wisdom, but he sure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.'
'If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him,' James i. 5. THAT which the apostle has here made a matter of supposition is in reality a matter of fact; for it is undeniably manifest, from the testimony of scripture, experience, and observation, that every man 'lacks wisdom.' 'Vain man would be wise, though a man be born like a wild ass's colt.' But his pretensions to wisdom serve only to discover his folly. The children of this world are, indeed, wise in their generation, but their wisdom is 'earthly, sensual, devilish.' Of that wisdom whose beginning is the fear of God, whose 'ways are pleasantness,' and whose 'paths are peace;' of that wisdom which is from above, and which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy,' of such wisdom they are altogether destitute.'
acknowledged it to be God's gift, saying, "I thank thee, O God, who hast given me wisdom.' And in both of these cases wisdom was bestowed in answer to prayer. Solomon asked it; Daniel and his pious friends in Babylon prayed for it. God's way of communicating wisdom is through the instrumentality of prayer. If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God.' The same rule is observed by him in dispensing all other spiritual blessings.
He needs not to be informed, or argued with as if he were either ignorant or unkind. He is acquainted with all the exigencies of our condition, and has promised to supply all our need. But he intends that his people shall be made sensible of their own wants, and of his ability to help them; he desires to bring them to that state of mind which will prepare them to enjoy with the greatest comfort, and to employ with the greatest advantage to themselves and others, those blessings which he sees to be needful, and which he purposes to confer upon them. Hence it is, that for all these things he will be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them.' The recipient of his favours must, in the first instance, be a suppliant. We must ask that we may receive, and seek that we may find, and knock that it may be opened unto us.
Man is naturally blind to his real character and his highest interests. He overlooks altogether the chief end of his existence. He knows Other means should be used in connection with not in what true happiness consists, nor where it prayer. God teaches wisdom in his word, and is to be found. He prefers the body to the soul, by his ordinances, which must be carefully and time to eternity, earth to heaven, death to life. devoutly attended to. Prayer is designed not to He calls sweet bitter, and bitter sweet; he mis- supersede other means, but to enforce their obtakes light for darkness, and darkness for light. servance, and insure their success. And as prayer The world is his idol. He looks only at things is necessary, so it will be effectual. We know which are seen and temporal. Daily he puts the that if we ask any thing agreeable to his will question, Who will show us any good?' but he heareth us.' He has said, 'if any man lack, never joins in the prayer, 'Lord, lift thou up the let him ask.' No conditions are proposed, no light of thy countenance upon me.' He is led price is demanded, no characters are excluded. captive by satan at his will. His language and He requires only that we should feel our need of conduct, his desires and pursuits, make it abun- wisdom, and express it in prayer. In other dantly manifest, that with all his boasted attain-cases the success of our prayers may be doubtful, ments he still lacketh one thing, that is, wisdom. but here it is certain. We know not what things 'But where shall wisdom be found? and where to pray for as we ought, and in our ignorance and is the place of understanding? Man knoweth folly we often desire what we should dread and not the price thereof; neither is it found in the deprecate. But in praying for wisdom we act land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in in obedience to God's express command, and in me; and the sea saith, It is not in me. It can- reliance on his promise. In answer to such a not be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be prayer he not only gives but gives liberally; never weighed for the price thereof." less than is asked, generally more. 'And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life, but hast asked wisdom aud
'Blessed be God, for wisdom and might are his.' He giveth wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.' Solomon surpassed all other men in wisdom, but we
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, serveand 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. The 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 for