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XXIII.UPON THE UNKNOWN VIRTUES OF MANY
WHEN, upon the strictest search and scrutiny that I could possibly make, I could not find out the natures, properties, virtues, and uses of several vegetables, and other herbs; nor indeed the full use, virtue, and benefit of any one of them : and I
suppose I have cause to think, that the greatest naturalist cannot do it; nay, if all the most skilful men should join heart and hand in the work, and combine themselves together, and use their utmost diligence, yet would they fall short of making a perfect discovery of it, though I know every age makes some further progress in it than the preceding did :- This made me admire the wisdom of the Creator, who has made nothing in vain, and hath put such admirable virtues into such despicable weeds, that did we know their worth, we should prize many at a high rate which now we despise. And if we cannot find out the virtues and operation of those things which we are every day conversant with, no wonder if we are greatly ignorant of God, of the Trinity, and those more abstruse points of religion, which are more remote from our senses, and above our capacity. He that cannot attain to know the nature of his own soul, no wonder if he be ignorant of the Divine nature.
UPON THE UNKNOWN VIRTUES
O my soul, are there secrets in nature that thou understandest not? yea, even in those creatures that thou dost daily converse with ? admire the wisdom of the Creator, and wonder not that there are mysteries in spirituals beyond thy conceiving. If thou canst not understand material objects, much less those that are "spiritually discerned,” 1 Cor. ii. 14; the nature of God, of angels, and of thyself, lie far more remote from thy understanding. There is many a man who can search nature's garden from end to end, who never could search his own heart; many can try their evidence for lands, that know not how to try their title to heaven : they can find out the state of their bodies, but know not the state of their souls. But when others study earth, do thou study heaven; the things that are necessary are attainable. Study Christ, and him crucified; this will do thee more good than if thou couldst, with Solomon, discourse of all the
vegetables, from the cedar in Lebanon to the hyssop that groweth upon the wall. And did men study God and themselves as much as they did the creature, it would bring in more profit. The knowledge of these things is good, but the knowledge of God, and ourselves is necessary : all thy time is little enough for this study; the other may be left to more curious intellects.
O my God, suffer me not to spend my time in any unnecessary study, that should be spent in seeking thee : let me not catch at the shadow, and lose the substance; and hunt so long after curiosities, that I lose myself, and know not which way to return. All my time is little enough
OF MANY VEGETABLES.
to spend in my general and particular calling. Let my greatest care be to know God and myself, the duty I owe him, and the relation I stand in to him; and what interest I have in Jesus Christ. Lord, let this be the work of the remaining part of my life.
The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of the law, Deut. xxix. 29.
Canst thou by searching find out God ? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea, Job xi. 7-9.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding, Prov. ix. 10.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ? 2 Cor. xiii. 5.
Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out ! For who hath known the mind of the Lord ? or who hath been his counseller? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things : to whom be glory for ever. Amen. Rom. xi. 33–36.
XXIV.—UPON SOME DESPISED, YET USEFUL
When I saw some productions which are deemed weeds, and usually grow in the fields without labour, pains, or care of man; or are thrown out of the garden with contempt, as not being either sweet for savour, or beautiful to the eye;-—when I beheld these very weeds gathered, and successfully used, by some of the greatest masters in medicine, for the curing of great distempers; when the more glorious, gorgeous, and more esteemed vegetables were disregarded:- This made me consider, how deceitful a thing it is to judge by the outward
appearance, and that beauty and virtue are not always linked together, neither go they hand in hand. Many have been deceived when they have pleased their eyes by beauty. Samuel, that man of God, was deceived by his eye,
when he thought Eliab, David's elder brother, was to be the Lord's anointed, because he had a good outward appearance ;
6. And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him. But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him : for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart," i Šam. xvi. 6, 7. Many a man under a homely
ON SOME DESPISED, YET USEFUL WEEDS. 83 garb carries more real worth, more true gentility, yea, nobility, than others do under their silks and velvets. Yet there was a disease amongst Christians in the apostles' time, and it is almost epidemical in our days, to respect the clothes or outward ornaments of a man more than his dispositions and qualifications : “ If there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and have
respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: are ye not then partial in yourselves ?” Whatever disrespect man may
discover for the lowly, “ God hath chosen the
of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom,” James ii. 245. A poor man, though wise, yea, though by his wisdom he saved the city, yet is not remembered, Eccl. ix. 15. Many wise ministers are heard with scorn, or at least with disregard, till men lie upon their death-bed; and then they are sent unto for counsel, or rather comfort. It is not, however, always those that can speak most eloquently that speak best: he is the best preacher that woos for Christ and not for himself, and would set the crown upon his Lord's head, and not his own. It is not the tickling of the fancy a preacher should so much mind, as to speak convincingly to the conscience.
O my soul, judge not by the outward but the inward qualification, neither cover hypocrisy by a mask of seeming sincerity, for God will, ere long, pluck off such vizors. Slight no man merely