« EelmineJätka »
admits the believer into his bosom, and he is in the bosoni of the Father. But withal know, that all this knowledge, though speculatively high, yet descends to practice. As it learns what God is, so it thence teacheth man, what be should be. This wisdom flows from heaven, and a hea. venly conversation flows from it; as we find it here characterized by those practical graces of purity, peace, meekness.
This wisdom represents to us, the purity of God's nature; 1 John iii, 3. It gives the soul an eye to see the comeliness and beauty of purity: as the philosopher said of virtue, to the end it might be loved, he would wish no more but that it could be seen. And as it thus morally persuades, so, by an insensible virtue, it assimilates the soul to Christ by frequent contemplation. It also produces all the motives to holiness and obedience; it begets these precious qualities in the soul. It giveth a Christian a view of the matchless virtues that are in Christ, and stirs him up to a diligent, though imperfect imitation of them. It sets before us Christ's spotless purity, in whose mouth there was no guile, and so invites us to purity. It represents the perpetual calmness of his spirit, that no tempest could reach to disturb it; In his mouth there was no contentious noise, his voice was not heard in the streets; and this recommends peaceabletess, and gentleness. And so in the rest here mentioned.
Hence, I conceive, may be fitly learned for our use, that seeing here is a due wisdom and knowledge necessary for guidance and direction in the ways of purity and peace, it is evident that gross ignorance cannot consist with the truth of religion, much less can it be a help and advantage to it. I shall never deny that a false superstitious religion stands in need of it-“Not too much scripture wisdom for the people.” The pomp of that vain religion, like court masks, shows best by candle-light. Fond nature likes it well. The day of spiritual wisdom would discover its imposture too clearly. But to let their foul devotion pass, for such it must needs be that is born of so black a mother as ignorance, let this wisdom at least be justified of those that pretend to be her children. It is lamentable that amongst us, where knowledge is not Did. No. VIII.
withheld, men should, through sloth and love of darkness, deprive themselves of it. What abundance of almost brutish ignorance is amongst the common people ! and thence arise uncleauness, and all manuer of wickedness : a darkness that both bides and increaseth impurity. What is the reason of so much impiety and iniquity in all places, but the want of the knowledge of God ? Not knowing God and not obeying his gospel, are joined together, 2 Thes. i. 8. It will be found true, that where there is no obedience, there is no right knowledge of Christ. But out of all question, where there is not a competency of knowledge, there can be no obedience. And as these two lodge together, so observe what attends them both—He shall come in flaming fire, taking vengeance on then that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And if there be any that think to shroud unpunished amongst the thickets of ignorance, especially amidst the means of knowledge, take notice of this, though it may hide the deformity of sin from your own sight for a time, it caunot palliate it from the piercing eye, nor cover it from tbe revenging hand of divine Justice. As you would escape then that wrath to come, come to wisdoni's school, and how simple soever ye be as to this world, if
you would not perish with the world, learn to be wise unto salvation.
And truly it is mainly important for this effect, that the ministers of the gospel be active and dexterous in imparting this wisdom to their people. If they would have their conversation to be holy, and peaceable, and fruitful, the most expedient way is at once to principle them well in the fundamentals of religion ; for therein is their great defect. How can they walk evenly and regularly, so long as they are in the dark? One main thing is to be often pointing out the way to Christ, the fountain of this wisdom. Without this, you bid them be clothed, and clothe them not.
How needful then is it, that pastors themselves be seers indeed, as the prophets were called of old ; not only faithful, but wise dispensers, as our Saviour speaks; that they be able and apt to teach. Laudable is the prudence tliat tries much the churches' store houses, the seminaries
of learning; but withal it is not to be forgot, that as a due furniture of learning is very requisite for this employment, so it is not sufficient. When one is duly enriched that way, there is yet one thing wanting, that grows not în schools. Except this infused wisdom from above season and sanctify all other endowments, they remain common and unholy, and therefore unfit for the savctuary. Amongst other weak pretences to Christ's favor in the last day, this is one, We have preached in thy name; yet says Christ, I never knew you. Surely then they knew not him, and yet they preached him. Cold and lifeless, though never so fine and well contrived, must those discourses be, that are of an unknown Christ. Pastors are called angels, and therefore, though they use the secondary helps of knowledge, they are mainly to bring their message from above, from the Fountain, the Head of this pure wisdom.
Pure. If it come from above, it must needs be pure originally ; yea, it is formally pure too, being a main trait of God's renewed image in the soul. By this wisdom, the understanding is both refined and strengthened to entertain right conceptions of God in his nature and works. And this is primarily necessary, that the mind be not infected with false opinions in religion. If the springhead be polluted, the streams cannot be pure. This is more important than men usually thiuk, for a good life. But that which I suppose to be here chiefly intended, is, that it is effectively and practically pure : it purifies the heart, (said of faith, Acts xv, 9, which in some sense and acceptation differs not much from this wisdom and consequently the words and actions that flow from the heart:
This purity, some render chastity; The wisdom from above is chaste. The word is indeed often so taken, and includes that idea here, but it is too narrow a sense to restrict it to that only. It implies here, a universal detestation of all impurity, both of flesh and spirit, as the apostle speaks, 2 Cor. vii, 1. Pride, self-love, profaneness of spirit, and irreligion, though they do not so properly pollute the body as carnal uncleanness, yet they do no less defile the soul, and make it abominable in the sight of God. Those apostate angels, called unclean spirits, are incapable of bodily defilement, though indeed they tempt aud inveigle men to it: their own inberent pollutions must needs be spiritual, for they are spirits. Idolatry, in scripture, goes often under the name of fornication and adultery; and indeed these sins may mutually borrow and lend their names the one to the other : idolatry may well be called spiritual unchastity, and unchaste love, carnal idolatry. Earthly-mindedness likewise is an impurity of the soul. In the apostle's phrase, covetousness is idolatry, and so a spiritual pollution; yea, it inay well share with idolatry in its borrowed name, and be called adultery too, for it misbestows the soul's prime affection upon the creature, which by right is God's peculiar due.
This purity that true wisdom works, is contrary to all pollution. We know then in some measure what it is : it remains to inquire where it is ; and there is the difficulty: It is far easier to describe it in itself, than to find it among men. Who can say, I have made my heart clean? Look upon the greatest part of mankind, and you may know at first sight, that purity is not to be looked for among them. They suffer it not to come near them, much less to dwell with them and within them. They hate the very semblance of it in others, and then selves delight in intemperance and all manner of licentiousness, like foolish children striving who shall go furthest into the mire. These cannot say, they have made clean their hearts, for all their words and actions will belie them. If you come to the mere moralist, the world's honest man, and ask him, it may be, he will tell you, he hath cleansed his heart; but believe him not. It will appear he is not yet cleansed, because he says he has done it himself; for, you know, there must be some other besides man at this work. Again ; rising no higher than nature, he hath none of this heavenly wisdom in him, and therefore is without this purity too. But if you chance to take notice of some well-skilled bypocrite, every thing you meet with makes you almost coufident, that there is purity; yet, if he be strictly put to it, he may make some good accouut of the pains he hath taken to refine his tongue and his public actions, but he dares not say he hath made clean
his heart. It troubles bis peace to be asked the question. He never intended to banish sin, but to retire it to his innermost and best room, that so it might dwell unseen within him; and where then should it lodge but in his heart? Yet possibly because what is outward is so fair, and man cannot look deeper to contradict him, he may embolden himself to say, he is inwardly suitable to his appearance; but there is a day at hand that shall, to his endless shame, at once discover both his secret impurity and his impudence in denying it.
After these there follow a few despised and melancholy persons, at least as to outward appearance, who are almost always hanging down their heads, and complaining of abundant sinfulness. And surely purity cannot be expected in these who are so far from it by their own confession ; yet the truth is, that such purity as is here below, will either be found to lodge among ihese or no where. Be not deceived; think not that they who loathi, and, as they can, flee from the unholiness of the world, are therefore taken with the conceit of their own holiness ; but as their perfect purity of justification is by Christ's imputed righteousness, so likewise they well know, and do always acknowledge, that their inherent holiness is from above too, from the same fountain, Jesus Christ. The wisdom from above is pure; this is their cugagement to humility, for it excludes vaunting and boasting; and besides that, it is imperfect, troubled and stained with sin, which is enough to keep them humble. Their daily sad experience will not suffer them to be so mistaken: their many faults of infirmity cannot but keep them from this presumptuous fault. There is a generation, indeed, that are pure in their own eyes, but they are such as are not washed from their filthiness. They that are washed, are still bewailing that they again contract so much defilement. The most purified Christians are they that are most sensible of their impurity. Therefore I called not this a universal freedom from pollution, but a universal detestation of it. They that are thus pure are daily defiled with many sins, but they cannot be in love with any sir at all, nor do they willingly dispense with the smallest sins, which a natural man either sees not to be sin, (though his dim