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TURN YOU AT MY REPROOF.
“Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: she
crieth in the chief places of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity ? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge ? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.”—PROV. i. 20-23.
That none other than our Lord Jesus Christ is intended to be painted to us under the majestic figure of Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs, is evident from the passage before us. Of whom but the Saviour could it be said so truly that he stood with outstretched hands in the streets, in the markets, and in the openings of the gates, crying after the simple ones -the publicans and sinners; and the scorners -the Scribes and Pharisees; and those haters of knowledge—the Jewish priesthood? And again, Of whom but the Saviour could it be said, with any truth at all, that he offered to * pour out his Spirit upon the returning sinner, and to make known his words unto him?" Christ alone “ hath ascended up on high, leading captivity captive; and hath received gifts for men, yea, even for the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell among them."
Before pressing home upon you, brethren, this earnest and soul-piercing call of the Saviour, there are two explanations which I anxiously desire you to bear in mind.First, That the call of the Saviour, in the words before us, and the promise with which it is accompanied, are addressed to sinners, and not to saints. Nay more, they are
not addressed to all sinners promiscuously—they are not addressed to those who have been awakened to know their sin and danger, and are crying out, “ Men and brethren, what shall we do?" but they are addressed to the simple ones, who are loving their simplicity
to the scorners, who delight in their scorning—to the fools, that hate knowledge. The Bible is full of most precious promises to Christ's “ hidden ones”_his peculiar people his body-his bride; and there are many pressing calls and most winning encouragements to those in whom God
hath begun the good work by convincing them of sin. But the words before us belong to neither of these; they are addressed to those who are dead in trespasses and sins—to those who are so much lost that they do not know that they are lost-to those who are happy and comfortable in their sins—to those who have not a doubt as to the sufficiency of their worldly decency and respectability as a righteousness before God, and who do not so much as move the question whether they are saved or unsaved—the simple ones loving their simplicity—the scorners who delight in scorning-the fools who hate knowledge.
Is there none of you who has a secret suspicion that he may be just one of these characters which we have described ? I would beseech that man to feel that HE, then, is this day addressed by the Saviour, not in the accents of wrath, but of tenderest kindness. It is to you that Jesus stretches out these beseeching hands. It is to you that Jesus speaks these gentle words. Oh! how blinded you are to the bowels and compassions of the Saviour. Oh! how
you dishonour him every day by your hard and blasphemous thoughts of him. You think that because you delight in going away from him, therefore he hath nothing but messages of anger and of coming judgment for you. But, oh! how much wiser to gather his thoughts towards you from his own words : " Turn you at my reproof. Behold I will pour out—not judgment—but my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
My second explanation is, That the call of Christ is to an immediate conversion. He doth not say: Why will ye
love your simplicity ? but, “ How long will ye love your simplicity?” And again, he doth not say, Turn at any time, and I will pour out my Spirit unto you; but, “ Turn at my reproof;" that is, Turn this day while I am reproving you. Immediate turning unto God—immediate application to
the blood of Christ-immediate acceptance of the righteousness of God-a movement this day-conversion this daythis, and nothing but this, is the doctrine of the text. Let none of you say, I will take the gracious offer into consideration—I will take up the question some day soon with all due deliberation I will set apart some future day for the very purpose of settling it. That man of you is as effectually casting a mockery on the words of the Saviour as if he were to say, I will bave neither part nor lot in this matter. It is not resolutions for the future that Christ asks of you, and to which he attaches the promise of the Spirit; it is a turning this day--conversion this day, whilst he is reproving you.
Having premised these things, it is now my desire to press
home upon you the call of the Saviour by means of three arguments.
I. The call of the Saviour ought to be obeyed by you, because of the rich promise with which it is seconded : “Turn you at my reproof. behold, I will pour out my Spirit
I will make known my words unto you.” Often in the Bible are sinners entreated to turn and believe on Jesus, for the sake of the peace and the pardon to be found in believing; but the argument here is a more rare, and perhaps a still more moving one.
Here you are besought to turn and believe, that you may be made new creatures : “ Turn you at my reproof : behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you." 1. Think how essential such a change is to
wellbeing : “ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” To dwell in the new heavens and the new earth, we must be made new creatures. There will be exquisite scenery in heaven, when the pearly gates of the New Jerusalem appear;
but a blind man could not enjoy it. There will be exquisite melody in heaven, from the golden harps : of angels and the redeemed; but a man without an ear for
music could not enjoy it. And just so there will be spotless holiness in heaven—it will be the very atmosphere of heaven—how, then, could an unholy soul enjoy it? “Marvel not that I said unto you, Ye must be born again.” But if this be an essential change
2. Think how impossible it is with man. sect and system of philosophy-search every plan of edu
cation-search from one end of the earth to another-where will you find a power to make you holy?
“ The depth saith, It is not in me:
And the sea saith, It is not with me.
For the price of Wisdom is above rubies. A man may be able to change his sins, but, ah! what man can change his heart? The reason why this is utterly impossible with man, is, that he is not only fond of the objects of sin, but he is fond of his sinful heart; he is not only simple, but he loves his simplicity; not only scornful, but delights in scorning; not only a fool, but he hates the very knowledge that would make him wise unto salvation. Which of you, then, does not feel the power
of the Saviour's tenderness in the offer which he makes this day to the most careless and unawakened of you all : “ Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you." If
you will only turn and accept of Christ this day, he offers to give you that Spirit which alone can make you a new creature—which alone can give you a heart that will do for heaven.
You utterly mistake the matter, if you think that Christ here offers to put you under a system of strictness and restraint-you utterly mistake the matter, if you think the gift of the Spirit is to make you
ways of preciseness and of pain ; for the whole Bible testifies, that the ways in which the Spirit leads us are ways of pleasantness and peace. Suppose a man happened to be so foolish and inconsiderate as to have an invincible relish for some poisonous drug, because of the sweetness and agreeableness of the taste; and had formed the habit of making such constant use of it that death would, through time, be the inevitable consequence. I can imagine two ways in which the friends of that inconsiderate man, anxious for his life, might cure him of his strange and most destructive appetite. 1st, They might forcibly restrain and keep him away from the use of the poison, forbidding it even to be brought within his sight. This would be the system of restriction—the appetite would remain, but it would be crossed and denied. Or, 2dly, Instead of forcibly taking away the poison, they might bring new and wholesome objects before him, the taste of which was far more agreeable and excellent; so that, when once he had tasted these, there would be no fear of his so