Page images

brought thither by sinful folly ; nor is there a soul in heaven (of them at age) but by heavenly wisdom was conducted thither. In worldly matters the wicked may seem wisest; and many a saint may be very ignorant ;, but when you see the end, you will confess that those were the wise men that had wisdom to repel temptations, and to refuse the enticing baits of sin, and to make sure of everlasting joys.

O therefore apply your hearts to wisdom! Go to Christ for it, who is “ the wisdom of God;" (1 Cor. i. 24 ;) and is appointed by him to be “our wisdom.” (1 Cor. i. 30.) He will teach it you, who is the best Master in the world, so you will but keep in his school, that is, his church, and will humbly learn as little children, and apply yourselves submissively to his Spirit, word and ministers. “Ask wisdom of God, that giveth liberally and upbraideth not” with former ignorance. (James i. 5.) Think not any pains in holy means too much to get it. “ If thou wilt receive the words of God, and hide his commandments with thee, and incline thy heart to wisdom, and apply it to understanding; yea if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God; for the Lord giveth wisdom; out of his mouth is knowledge and understanding." (Prov. ii. 1–5.) And fear not being a loser by thy cost or labour. Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding ; for the merchandise of it is better than silver, and the gain thereof than of fine gold: she is more precious than rubies, and all the things thou canst desire, are not to be compared to her; her

ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” (Prov. iii. 13-18.)

2. The Infinite Wisdom of God, must resolve you to take him for your principal Teacher, Counsellor and Director, in all your undertakings. Who would go seek the advice of a fool, when he may have Infallible Wisdom to direct him! In a work of so great difficulty and concernment, a work that hell, and earth, and flesh, opposeth ; a work that our everlasting state dependeth on; I think it behoveth us to take the best advice that we can get. And who knoweth the will of God, like God! or who knoweth the

For "

[blocks in formation]

certain means of salvation, like him that is the Author and Giver of Salvation! Would you know whether it be best to live a mortified holy life; who shall be your counsellor ? If you advise with the flesh, you know that it would be pleased. If you advise with the world of wicked men, you know that they would be imitated, and judge as they are; and are not like to be wise for you, that are so foolish for themselves, as to part with heaven for a merry dream. If you advise with the devil, you know he would be obeyed, and have company in his misery. You can advise with none but God, but such as are your enemies : And will you ask an enemy, a deadly enemy, what course you should take to make you happy? Will you ask the devil how you may be saved? Or, will you ask the blind, ungodly world, what course you should take to please the Lord ? Or, will you ask the flesh, by what means you may subdue it and become spiritual ? If you take advice of Scripture, of the Spirit, of a holy, well-informed minister or Christian, or of a renewed well-informed conscience, I take this for your advising with the Lord ; but besides these that are his mouth, you can ask advice of none but enemies. But if they were never so much your friends, and wanted wisdom, they could but ignorantly seduce you. And do you think that any of them all, is as wise as God? It is the constant course of a worldly man to advise with the world, and of carnal men to advise with the flesh; and therefore it is that they are hurried to perdition. The flesh is brutish, and will lead you to a brutish life; and " if you live after it," undoubtedly" you shall die;"(Rom. viii. 13;) and "if you sow to it,

you shall but reap corruption.” (Gal. vi. 6, 7.) If you are tempted to lust, will you ask the flesh that tempteth you, whether you should yield ? If the cup of excess be offered to you, or flesh-pleasing feasts prepared for you, will you ask the flesh whether you should take them or refuse them? You may easily know what counsel it will give you. The counsel of God, and of your flesh, are contrary; and therefore the lives of the carnal and spiritual man are contrary. And will you venture on the advice of a brutish appetite, and refuse the counsel of the all-knowing God! Such as is your guide and counsellor such will be your end. Never man miscarried by obeying God; and never man sped well by obeying the flesh: God leadeth no man to perdition, and the Aesh leadeth no man to his salvation. God's motions are all for our eternal good, though they seem to be for our temporal hurt: The motions of the flesh are for our eternal hurt, though at present they seem to be for our corporal benefit. If at any time you be at a loss; and your carnal friends, or your commodity, or pleasure adviseth you one way, and the word of God, and his faithful ministers advise you another way; use but your reason well, and consider whether God or those that contradict him be the wiser, and accordingly suit your practice. Alas, man, thy friend is ignorant, and knows not what is good for himself. Thy flesh is ignorant, and knows not what is good for thy soul ! But God knoweth all things. Your flesh and friends do feel what pleaseth them at present, and judge accordingly: but what will be hereafter they understand not, or consider not: But God knoweth as well what will be, as what is: he counselleth you as one that knoweth how your actions will appear at last, and what it is that will save you or undo you, to all eternity. If you be but sick, it is two to one but the counsel of your physician and of your appetite will differ. And if you obey your physician before your appetite, for your health or life, should you not obey God before it, for your salvation? Do you think in your consciences that any that persuade you to a careless, worldly, fleshly life, are as wise as God that persuadeth you to the contrary? You dare not say so with your tongues! and yet the most dare say so with their lives. O how justly do the ungodly perish, that deliberately choose a brutish appetite, a malignant world, and a malicious devil, as a wiser or fitter conductor than the Lord! But“ blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, but his delight is in the law of the Lord;" (Psal. i. 1, 2;) and woe to the ungodly, that reject and set at nought the counsel of the Lord, (Prov. i. 25.

Lukę vii. 30,) and will have none of it; that wait not for his counsel; (Psal.cvi. 13;) that "rebel against the words of God, and contemn the counsel of the Most High.” (Psal. cvii. 11.) And woe to them " that take counsel against the Lord and his Christ, that they may break asunder his bonds, and cast away his obligations.” (Psal. ii. 1-3.) And woe to them that are given up to the lusts of their own hearts, and to walk in their own counsels. (Psal. lxxxi. 12.) For by their


own counsels shall they fall. (Psal. v. 10.) But had they hearkened to the Lord, and walked in his way, with the fulness of his blessing would he have satisfied them. (Psal. Ixxxi. 13. 16.) Resolve therefore, whatever the flesh or the world

that the testimonies of God shall be

your counsellors ;(Psal. cxix. 24;) and bless the Lord that giveth thee counsel; (Psal. xvi. 7;) for his counsel is infallible; having guided thee by his counsel, he will bring thee to his glory. (Psal. lxxiii. 24.)

3. The Infinite Wisdom of God, must resolve the soul to rest in his determinations. We are most certain that God is not deceived. Though all men seem liars to you, let God be true: for it is impossible for him to lie. (Heb. vi. 18.) If our reason be to seek, so is not God. When we are saying with Nicodemus, “How can these things be?" God knows how: and it is enough for us to know that they are so. If Infinite Wisdom say the word, believe it, though all the world contradict it. Though proud unbelievers say, that the words of God are improbable, let them know that God is not at a loss when men's dark understandings are at a loss. The sun is not taken out of the firmament, whenever a man closeth or loseth his eyes. What! will those cavillers puzzle the Almighty! will they pose Omniscience ? Doth it follow that the course of the planets, and the heavens, and all the creatures are out of order, if these silly moles understand not the order of them? No more will it follow that any word of God is false, or any rule of God is crooked, because they see not its truth and rectitude. Shall dust and ashes judge the Lord ? “Who hath been his coun-. sellor," and with whom hath he advised for the making, redeeming, or governing of the world? There is no rest to an inquisitive soul, but in the infinite wisdom of the Lord. Find once that it is his word, and inquire no further. It is madness to demand a further proof. As all goodness is comprised in his will and love; so all truth is comprised in his wisdom and revelations. There are no arguments but what are lower and subordinate to this. And therefore if thy reason be at a loss, as to the cause or manner, yet hast thou the greatest reason to believe that all is just and true that proceedeth from the wisdom of the Lord. If flesh and blood, and all the world gainsay it, yet rest in the word of God.

4. And that is the next effect that God's Omniscience should have upon our minds. Take all the sayings of men as folly, that are against the Lord. Let them be high or low, learned or unlearned, if they contradict the God of infinite wisdom, take it but as the words of a distracted man. Did you ever meet with any man of them, that durst say

he was wiser than God himself? Herod, that was eaten to death by vermin, was applauded by the flattering crowd, but with this acclamation, “ It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.” (Acts xii. 22.) And will you say


any man that he is wiser than God? If you dare not say so, how dare you hear them and believe them against the word of God; how dare you be drawn from a holy life, or from a self-denying duty, or from the truth of God, by the words of a man, yea, perhaps, of a very sot, that speaks against the word of God! “To the law, and to the testimony; if they speak not according to these, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa. viii. 20.)

5. The Infinite Wisdom of God, should establish our confidence concerning the fulfilling of all his word. He will not fail for want of knowledge : When he spoke that prophecy, that promise, or that threatening, he perfectly knew all things that would come to pass, to all eternity. He knew therefore what he said when he gave out his word, and therefore will fulfil it. Heaven and earth may pass away, but one iota or tittle of his word shall not pass away till all be accomplished. (Matt. v. 18.)

6. And from the Infinite Wisdom of God, the church must be encouraged in its greatest straits, and against all the cunning and subtlety of their enemies. Are we ever in such straits that God knows not how to bring us out? When we see no way for our deliverance, doth it follow that he sees none? If cunning serpents are too subtle for us, do we think that they can overwit the Lord ? What had become of us long ago, if God had not known whatever is plotted at Rome, or Spain, or hell, against us; if he knoweth not of all the consultations of the conclave, and of all the contrivances of Jesuits and Friars; and of all the jugglings of the masked emissaries ; if God had not known of Faux and his powder mine, it might have blown up all our hopes. But while we know that God is in their councils, and heareth every word they say, and knoweth every secret

« PreviousContinue »