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RILLS FROM THE
FOUNTAIN OF WISDOM.
WHEN Solomon succeeded to the regal honours of his father David, God submitted to him the choice of a gift, with which he should be endowed on his accession. “ Ask," said the Lord, “what I shall give thee."
The youthful monarch, with singular sagacity, instead of asking for long life, princely wealth, or great military renown, selected as the highest gift," an understanding heart.” His choice pleased the Lord, and his petition was answered ; “and God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding, exceeding much, and largeness of heart; and Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt, for he was wiser than all men, and his fame was in all nations round about.” Thus excellently endued, he was qualified to become the instructor of others. A part of his wisdom is sententiously expressed in the Book of Proverbs, and it has lost none of its value by transmission. The aged may be made wiser by studying its maxims, and youth may derive from it the most salutary rules, for the establishment of their principles, and the government of their conduct. We have selected and arranged under particular heads, some of the sage instructions of this incomparable teacher, in hope that those who taste the stream, may be induced to go with greater relish to the fountain, from which it is derived.
The WISDOM of which Solomon so frequently speaks, is that which is from above. Summarily, it is the knowledge and practice of the will of God as revealed to us in his word; and the most sagacious and learned can attain it only in an imperfect degree, unless they have received spiritual illumination from heaven. He may have the reputation of being a wise man who conducts his worldly affairs with discretion; but the religion of the gospel is the only true wisdom, as it supplies the best principles of action, and the most correct rules of life; as it teaches us how to live and how to die; how to attain happiness here, and immortality beyond the grave. It should ever be remembered that the instructions of Solomon derive great additional value, when received through the medium of the gospel. The latter furnishes the motives and requisite ability for reducing to practice those rules of conduct, which, however they may commend themselves to the understanding, will, without such aid, be comparatively inoperative on the heart. It is in this view, that the proverbs of the wise man instruct us to know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding; to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; to give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.”
The man thus enlightened is the “ wise man who will hear and will increase in learning; and the man of understanding who shall attain unto wise counsels." Let the reader of this little book, in order to derive from it the greatest advantage, accompany it with earnest prayer to God for “a wise and understanding heart.”
When the infinitely wise God condescends to teach through the lips of inspired men, there should be, on our part, a disposition to sit at his feet and learn. However responsibility may be diminished by unavoidable ignorance, that is not the predicament of those who possess abundant and well adapted means of instruction. The revealed will of God is unfolded before us, and its teachings are illustrated by his providence, and enforced by the operations of his Spirit on the heart.
This is beautifully described by Solomon.
Doth not wisdom cry ? and un-, nothing froward or perverse in derstanding put forth her voice ? them.
She standeth in the top of high They are all plain to him that places, by the way in the places understandeth, and right to them of the paths.
that find knowledge. She crieth at the gates, at the Receive my instruction, and entry of the city, at the coming not silver, and knowledge rather in at the doors.
than choice gold. Unto you, O men, I call; and Wisdom crieth without; she my voice is to the sons of man. uttereth her voice in the streets :
O ye simple, understand wis- She crieth in the chief place of dom; and, ye fools, be ye of an concourse, in the openings of the understanding heart.
gates: in the city she uttereth Hear; for I will speak of her words, saying, excellent things; and the open- How long, ye simple ones, will ing of my lips shall be right ye love simplicity ? and the things.
scorners delight in their scornFor my mouth shall speak ing, and fools hate knowledge ? truth; and wickedness is an Turn you at my reproof: beabomination to my lips.
hold, I will pour out my Spirit All the words of my mouth unto you, I will make known my are in righteousness, there is words unto you.
Wisdom lifts up her voice in public places, that she may be heard by the simple and uninstructed, and
proposes to impart a knowledge of divine things more precious than silver and choice gold. This proffer is accompanied by a promise to the docile, of supernatural aid from the Spirit of the Lord.
Divine goodness has provided a peculiar means of instruction, which may be compared to wisdom crying “at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.” The ministers of the gospel are a class of men consecrated to the work of public instruction, who are required to go into the highways and public places to communicate to the people saving knowledge; “to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long suffering and doctrine,” “ that the simple ones may no longer love their simplicity, nor scorners delight in scorning, nor fools hate knowledge.” Blessed are they who receive the heavenly lesson with a teachable temper, for upon them shall the Spirit be poured as a “spirit of wisdom and a sound mind.”
On the other hand, it is not a mere matter of indifference that men reject the counsel of the Lord. As they sow, so must they expect to reap. The kind invitation of God being declined, and his proposal rejected, his favour shall be withdrawn, and his benignant face be clouded with wrath. No audience shall be given to the agonized prayer of the sinner when reduced to extremity, but the most appalling calamities shall thicken round his path. This result to the incorrigible, is delineated in the following startling language of the wise man.
Because I have called, and ye But ye have set at nought all refused; I have stretched out my my counsel, and would none of hand, and no man regarded ; my reproof:
I also will laugh at your cala-1 They would none of my counmity; I will mock when your 'sel : they despised all my refear cometh;
proof. When your fear cometh as deso- Therefore shall they eat of the lation, and your destruction com- 'fruit of their own way, and be eth as a whirlwind; when distress filled with their own devices. and anguish cometh upon you
For the turning away of the Then shall they call upon me, simple shall slay them, and the but I will not answer; they shall prosperity of fools shall destroy seek me early, but they shall not them. find me:
But whoso hearkeneth unto mo For that they hated knowledge, shall dwell safely, and shall be and did not choose the fear of quiet from fear of evil. the Lord :
To prevent so fearful a catastrophe, the most winning representations are made to awaken in the bosom of man a love for heavenly wisdom. Who can read Solomon's description of its advantages, both in a temporal and spiritual point of view, without being convinced in his own judgment of the importance and necessity of giving immediate heed to the things which belong to his peace?
My son, forget not my law; Happy is the man that findeth but let thine heart keep my com- wisdom, and the man that getmandments :
teth anderstanding. For length of days, and long For the merchandise of it is life, and peace, shall they add better than the merchandise of to thee.
silver, and the gain thereof than Let not mercy and truth for- fine gold. sake thee; bind them about thy She is more precious than runeck; write them upon the table bies : and all the things thou of thine heart:
canst desire are not to be comSo shalt thou find favour and pared unto her. good understanding in the sight Length of days is in her right of God and man.
hand; and in her left hand Trust in the Lord with all thine riches and honour. heart; and lean not unto thine Her ways are ways of pleasown understanding.
antness, and all her paths are In all thy ways acknowledge peace. him, and he shall direct thy She is a tree of life to them paths.
that lay hold upon her; and Be not wise in thine own eyes ; | happy is every one that retainfear the Lord, and depart from eth her. evil.
My son, let not them depart It shall be health to thy navel, from thine eyes; keep sound and marrow to thy bones. wisdom and discretion :