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nor upbraidingly give it, but delights to give it to them that ask it, even bis owo Holy Spirit, the spring of this wisdom, as he hath promised.
We are all too little in this humble seeking and begging of this divine knowledge, and that is the cause we are so shallow and small proficients. If thou cry, and lift up thy voice for understanding, if thou search for it as for hid treasures. Sit down upon thy knees and dig for it; that is the best posture to fall right upon the golden vein, and go deepest to know the mind of God in searching the scriptures, to be directed and regulated in his ways, to be made skilful in ways of honoring him and doing bim service. This neither men nor angels can teach bim, but God alone; For the Lord giveth wisdom.
Of this wisdom, we have here the character and the privilege.
1. The character; Whoso will observe these things. That looks back to the doctrine of the psalmist, which is very divipely sweet. He had been extolling the goodness of God in general in his dealings with men, and instancing in divers occurrent and remarkable particulars the fitness and mildness of his chastisements, the seasonableness and sweetness of his deliverances, as correcting us for our greater good, and relieving us in our greatest need, when we are nearest despairing of relief. This is exemplified in travellers and prisoners, in sick men and seamen, and in the various disposal of the state of all sorts of persons, the highest and the meanest; and the repeated sweet burden of the song is, O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And in the end, he declares the result of all, ver. 42, the joy of the godly, the shame and silencing of the wicked, who usually either mistake, or slight, or despise the providence of God in the rule of human affairs, who readily speak big their own thoughts, which are vain, promising themselves continual
In the end he shall clear himself, and gladden the souls of his people, and clothe bis enemies with shame. Wait a while, and thus it shall be ; tbey shall change places. He pours contempt upon princes, and sets the poor on high from affliction, and so rights himself and them that wait on him. Then the righteous shall see it and rejoice, and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. And it is a great point of true wisdom, rightly to observe these things.
This observing hath in it a believing notice of these things, to take such instances aright when they meet our eye, to know these things to be indeed the Lord's doings ; and so, when we are in any present strait, to believe ac. cordingly the same inspection of his eye, and secret conduct of his hand, to be in all. Now it is a great point to have the heart established in these persuasions. We are generally much defective in this, and they most who least suspect themselves of it. But withal, the observing or keeping of these things, this firm believing hath in it these two things following on it, and flowing from it, serious contemplation and suitable action.
To observe these things, is often to turn our eye to the view of these things, and to keep it on them, so as to have our hearts warmed with them, to be deeply taken with wonder and love. But, alas ! our souls are drowned in flesh, dragged down from things that become them and are worthy of them, to drudge and weary them. selves in the mire and clay. How few are there who make it a great part of their daily business, to behold God in his works and ways with themselves and others ! Some, in respect of otbers, are called great spirits ; but () what are they? What a poor greatness is it, to project for a great estate, or great places and titles, or to conceive great revenges of little wrongs! There is something even in nature of greatness of spirit very far beyond the bastard false character that most take of it, and that is above most things others imagine great, and despises them. But true greatness is this, to have a mind much taken up with the greatness of God, admiring and adoring him, and exciting others to do so; grieved and holily angry, that men regard him so little, breathing forth such wishes as these of the psalmist, both to express their own thoughts, and to awake sleeping besotted men about them, O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness! They could wish a voice that could reach many thousands; and if they had one audible to all the world, would use it no otherwise than to be precentors of the praises of God, to
call up and begin the song, O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness.
Consider yourselves, my brethren, and trace yourselves into your own hearts, whether often in the day your thoughts run this way, finding the meditation of God sweet to you; or whether they do not run out much more to vain things, and are seldom here; either hurried and busied in a surcharge of affairs, or, if vacant, yet spinning themselves out in frothy foolish fancies, that you would be ashamed to look back upon. You might entertain divine and heavenly thoughts, even while about your earthly employments and refreshments; but this is little known and little sought after. Make it your business to learn more of this wisdom. Call in your hearts, com. mune often with yourselves and with God; be less abroad and more within and more above. It is by far the sweeta est life. Beg of God to wind up your hearts, when you find them heavy and dull, that they follow you slowly in this, and need much pulling and hauling from your hand : a touch from his hand will make them mount up easily and nimbly. O seek his drawing! Draw me, I will run after thee. And when you meet together, let this be your business, to speak of him who alone is to be exalted, who doth and disposeth all as he pleases. Say to friends, and kindred, and neighbours, O how great and how gracious a God have we! O that we could bless him!
To keep these things, is also to walk according to the firm belief and frequent thoughts of them; to fear him, and to walk humbly and warily, because our follies draw on his rods ; and to study to please him, no matter who be displeased; and when he corrects, to fall down humbly under bis hand, who hath our sickness and health, our life and death, and all that concerns us, in his absolute power. If any thing advance or advantage us before others, we must endeavour to be the more lowly and serviceable to him. If in a low condition, we must still bless and reverence him ; for his presence will turn the meanest cottage, yea, the darkest dungeon, iuto a palace.
The chief delight of the saints, is to offer praises to God, to gather them in from all his works, to send up to him. And his chief delight in all his works, is to receive
these praises of them from their hands; they articulate them, make a reasonable sacritice of them. All thy works shall praise thee, and thy saints shall bless thee. We are called to this high work, yet we lie behind, and most unworthily and foolishly debase ourselves in other things. But they that are wise, if there be any, will mind this, will not let the Lord's marvellous and gracious doings pass without notice.
II. The privilege of this wisdom. It is a high proof of his love to us, that he loves to be seen work by us, and stoops to take our acclamations and approbation; that he hath such regard to them, and rewards them so richly, even thus; Whoso is wise and will observe these things, they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord. Observe, They that are wise and observe, shall understand further. To him that hath, shall be given ; to him that usefully hath—that is to have, and so it is there meant --to him that improves what he has to his advantage who gave it. The greatest difficulty is to begin; as one said of his growing rich, that “he came hardly by a little riches, and easily by great riches." Having once got a stock, he grew rich apace. So, once taking be it but the first lessons of this wisdom, learning these well, shall facilitate thy knowledge exceedingly. The wise increaseth learning. Wouldst thou but receive and hearken to tbe easiest things represented by God, these would enlighten and enlarge thy soul to receive more; especially while walking by the light thou hast, be it ever so little; that invites and draws in more. Be diligent in the practice of what you know, if you would know more. Believe it, this is the way to grow. Whoso observes, keeps these things, acts according to the knowledge of them, he shall understand, shall understand it by finding it. They shall understand it in themselves ; (the word is in the reciprocal mood.) It shall be particularly and effectually shown unto them; they shall experience it, and so understand it, and that is the only lively understanding of it. Men may hear, yea, deliver large discourses of it, and yet not understand the thing. Happy are they to whom this is given ! He only teaches, who gives; and he only, learns, who receives.
Loving-kindness, graciousness. All sorts of kindnesses, even outward and common mercies, in those shall he understand his goodness : in recoveries and deliverances from dangers, and in temporal blessings, be his portion in them less or more, though the things be common, yet they come to be his own by a particular stamp of love, which to others they have not. And the children of God know it; they can find it out, and can read it, though the world that looks on it cannot. And indeed to them the lowest things are disposed of, in order to the highest; their daily bread is given them by that same love that gives them Christ: all is given in him. So the curse is taken away, and all is sweetened with a blessing. A little that a righteous man hath, is better than the abundance of the wicked.
But the things they chiefly prize and desire, as indeed they deserve so to be prized, are of another sort; in their very being and nature, they are love-tokens, etfects of that peculiar free-grace that chose them to life. And this is called the light of God's countenance, his everlasting love. Now they that are wise, and observe these things, they shall understand this loving-kindness. Not that they first are thus wise before they partake of this lovingkindness; no ; by it this wisdom was given them; but this promise is made to their improvement of that gift, and walking in those ways of wisdom. Not only are they loved of God, but they shall understand it. He will manifest himself to them, and tell them he loves thém. And the more they walk in these ways, the more clearly shall they perceive and powerfully find his love manifested to them:
This is the highest inducement that can be to such as have any interest in it. When this love hath but once touched them, though as yet they know it not certainly, yet it works that esteem and affection, that nothing can be admitted into comparison with it. While carnal men wallow in the puddle, these are the crystal streams a renewed soul desires to bathe in, even the love of God. O let me find that, no matter what I have, or what I want ! In poverty, or in any distressed forsaken condition, one good word or good look from him, sets me up. I can sit