Imatges de pÓgina
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sions multiplied, and people are more eager to 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 ac quainted with them but themselves.

The consideration of this subject may lead to a variety of improvement. It may teach you,

1. What to fear. A worldly spirit. This in a prevailing degree is inconsistent with a word of grace, and, in whatever degree it obtains, 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, which will prevent the great things of God from being perceived.

A spirit of self dependence. "Be not wise in your "own conceitst." "If any man think that he know"eth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to knows." God giveth wisdom to the lowly, but he

*Matth. xiii. 22. †Josh. xxiii. 13. Rom. xii. 16. §1 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 further and further from the truth.

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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 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. 3 E

VOL. II.

SERMON IV.

THE NATURE OF SPIRITUAL REVELATION, AND

WHO ARE FAVOURED WITH IT.

MATTH. xi. 25.

At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

WE proceed now to the more pleasing part of our

subject. The great things of the Gospel, though hid, are not lost: not hid as in the bottom of the sea; but he who hides them from the wise and prudent, is ready and willing to make them known to every sincere inquirer. This discovery, on the Lord's part, is a revelation, and the character of those who obtain it is expressed by the word babes. Of the five particulars I proposed to consider from the text, these two yet remain to be spoken to.

IV. The saving knowledge of divine truth is a revelation. Our Lord uses a parallel expression, when he commends Peter's confession of his faith; "Blessed "art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath "not revealed this unto thee, but my Father which is "in heaven." Peter had Moses and the prophets, so had the Scribes and Pharisees; and after their manner they were diligent in reading and searching them. But that he could acknowledge Jesus to be the Mes

* Matth. xvi. 17.

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siah, when they rejected him, was because the Father had revealed his truth to him, and given him a clearer knowledge of it, than he could have received from the written word alone. But it But it may be proper to inquire into the meaning of this term. What are we here to understand by revelation ?

Sometimes revelation is used in an extraordinary sense, as when of old the Lord made known to his servants, the prophets, those doctrines and events which, till then, were neither heard nor thought of. Of this we are not now to speak, but of that which is common to all believers, and necessary to salvation.

Now this revelation supposes the things to be revealed were real and certain before, but unknown, and not to be found out in any other way.

Revelation is not the creation or invention of something new, but the manifestation of what was till then unknown. The great things of eternity, the glorious truths of the Gospel, are real and certain in themselves already, and do not begin to be when we begin to be acquainted with them: yet till God is pleased to reveal them to the heart, we have no more spiritual and effective knowledge of them, than if they were not. Ignorance of things very near to us, and in which we are nearly concerned, may be from two

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causes.

1. From a want of light. Nothing can be perceived in the dark. If you are in a dark room, though it is richly adorned and furnished, all is lost to you. If you stand in a dark night upon the top of a hill that commands a fine prospect, still you are able to see no more than if you was in a valley. Though you were in a dangerous place with pitfalls and precipices, and thieves and murderers all around you, still you might

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