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"ten In the prophets, and they shall be all taught of Gnd, every "man therefore that hath heard and learned of the Father com"eth unto me. They that kaow thy name shall put their trust "in thee." All these things demonstrate the necessity of divine knowledge for the exercise of any grace, or the practice of any holy duty.
The devils no doubt have immense understandings, are furnished with knowledge beyond our conception, but they have none of this holy knowledge which arises from a divine principle. So many natural men have understandings large as the sea, and the ocean of their minds stored with wonders of knowledge, yet still remain destitute of that spiritual and saving knowledge contained in our text. Sinners, while continuing under the power of itheir lusts, cannot know God or divine things in an holy manner. Hence, says St. John, " Whosoever sinneth hath net "seen God, neitiier known him."
Allow me to descend to a few particulars cc*stitut'iBg this superior science.
First, It consists in a discernment or sight of the peculiar glazy and distinguishing beauty of divine things. That there is such a glory, splendor and beauty in spiritual realities, invisible to sense, and beyond the investigation of natural reason, the oracles of God abundantly teach. "If our gospel be hid it is *' hid to them that are lost, in whom the God of this world hath "blinded th* eyes of them that believe not, lest the light of the "glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God should "shine into them." Here is mentioned a light of the glerious gospel of Christ, which must be a discoveiy of a certain transcendant excellency in the matters of the gospel, that a blinded world is entirely unacquainted with. A blind man may learn. much of philosophy and physics, may discourse and lecture upon them to the astonishment of those who can see; and the blinder he is, the more admiration is raued, and the more he is followed—yet there is a splendor and beauty in things to the visive eye^ with which forever to him is imperceivable. Therefore, the Apostle speaks to the converted Corinthians, that they had a knowledge communicated to them of a distinct and superior nature to any thing the world could afford; "God who command"ed the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts', "to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the "face of Jesus Christ."' Here is a light of knowledge of glory, infused into the heart, far distinguished from the knowledge acquired by a blind world, which is darkness in comparison. The believer who has had his mind opened by a divine illumination to discern this light of glory, all his former knowledge is depreciated and rejected as inferior, drossy and feculent; and he ii ready to say with the Apostle, " Though before, he knew all things after "the flesh, yet henceforth he will know them so no more."
Secondly, There is in this divine knowledge, a taste of the sweetness of holiness, that the carnal mind is perfectly ignorant of. "As new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word "that they may grow thereby, if so be ye have tasted that the ** Lord is gracious." Here is a certain taste of the graciousness of God, as peculiar to this knowledge, that the saints possess* All the acquisitions in the world cannot bring a man to have any proper understanding or just ideas hereof, without an experience of a relish of spiritual things arising from a divine taste. He who has tasted the sweetness of honey, knows much better the relish it affords, than the most learned lectures upon it can possibly give. *' Therefore, we are commanded to taste and see that *' the Lord is gracious." Hence this taste of holy things enters deeply into, and tis an essential constituent of this divine knowledge.
Thirdly, A savour of spiritual matters is also a part of this holy knowledge. Attend to the scriptures: ** Now thanks be *' to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ Jesus, « and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge in every place. * Because of the savour of thy good ointments, thy name is as "ointment poured forth." The wicked are spoken of " as sa"vouring not the things that be of God, but those things that '*' be of men."
Thus this saving knowledge consists in a discernment of the glory and beauty of divine things, tasting and savouring the sweetness of holiness. "Hereby they obtain an unction from "the holy one, that they know all things." Herein the excellency of the divine perfections are known, especially the beauty of his moral attributes; the glory, amiableness and all sufficiency of Jesus Christ; the preciousness of his blood, and the riches of that salvation revealed in the gospel. The bible, which was formerly a dark letter, in which there appeared little form or comliness, now discovers itself in a shining lustre, and brilliant excellency to the soul. Every part pleases, charms, and captivates his heart. He now cries out, precious bible, precious word of God.
This subject shall b» n»w closed with a few practical uses.
First, It affords an use of lamentation, that gTeat multitudes continue in darkness and ignorance, notwithstanding all the glory of divine light, which shines around them. Alas, for the stupidity, folly, and blindness of mankind! With propriety we might here take up the lamentation of the weeping prophet, and say, Oh that our head were waters, and our eyes a fountain of "tears, that we might weep day and night," over the hosts of mankind who are perishing for th« lack of this spiritual knowledge. Multitudes all they know is merely by their senses; strip them of the shape and figure of men, they would retain little to discriminate them from the beasts that perish. Oh how sordid and mean is it for rational creatures to be furnished with faculties for improvement, yet to suffer thera to lie dormant or to run to waste. When will thoughtless man awake to seek after knowledge, especially that knowledge which is saving and divine? Hearken to the counsels of Solomon, " Know wisdom "and instruction, and perceive the words of understanding. "Get wisdom, get understanding. Bow down thine ear to th« u words of the wise, and apply thine heart te my knowledge. "She is more precious than rubies, and all the things thou canst u desire are not to be compared unto her."
Secondly, This doctrine affords us an use of examination. We should enquire both into our knowledge and the nature of it. We should often be searching and trying ourselves. "Know "ye not your ownselves?" saith the Apostle. Is our knowledge merely that arising from our senses, and from the exercise of natural powers in matters of speculation, or is our knowledge holy, spiritual and divine? Do we perceive and behold a peculiar glory and beauty in heavenly things? Have we a taste and relish for divine objects? Are they savoury, sweet, and precious to our souls? Does this knowledge form our hearts to holy exercises, eur lives to a gsdly practice, and render our conversation such as becometh the gospel? If this be your knowlege, then happy are ye indeed. You have a saving knowledge of God, and Jesus Christ, and spiritual things which is eternal life. Proceed on to make greater acquisitions of this divine science. Then shall ye know more and more when ye follow on to know the Lord. "When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is "pleasant unto thy soul, discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee, to deliver thee from the way of the "evil one. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man "that getteth understanding. Her ways are ways of pleasant"ness, and all her paths are peace."
Finally, Let us be exhorted to seek after this spiritual and saving knowledge. All other things are loss and nothing in comparison of it. Remember, " wisdom," or true religion, "ex"celleth folly as far as light excelleth darkness. It cannot be "gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price “thereof.” I shall close this subject in the words of our text. “Let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth “and knoweth me, that I am the Lord, which exercise loving