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But when the light of truth discovers to myself the hidden evils of my heart; when it shews me the deformity of sin, the vileness of my nature, and thus fills me with shame and self-abhorrence, it is indeed a "marvellous light." When the light of truth reveals to my soul the blessed Jesus in the essential dignity of his person; the suitableness of his glorious offices in the covenant of redemption; the greatness, freeness, and extent of his love in becoming man, and expiring on the cross, that he might save rebellious sinners: and when this view of a loving Saviour, fills my soul with love, admiration, delight, and joy: it may well be called a "marvellous light."
When the light of truth takes away the false glare of the world; and shews me its real worth; that all is vanity and vexation of spirit; when every thing is placed in its true light, and seen through a clear medium: and when this view sobers my expectations, and weans my affections from the world: then it is truly a "marvellous light."
light of truth unveils the world of When the spirits, and opens to my wondering sight the unutterable glories of eternity: when I behold the blissful seats, the happy mansions, and the peaceful abodes of the redeemed: when I contemplate the fulness of their joy in being for ever with their Lord, and like their Lord: and when this prospect of the saint's felicity makes holiness more lovely, and my breathings for the spirit of grace more ardent: when it makes me long and labour after an admittance, through faith in Jesus, into those bright abodes: then it is a "marvellous light."
O! thou glorious Sun of righteousness, thou light of the world, shine into my heart, that I may be light in the Lord; and walk as a child of light, shining by reflection to thy praise and glory.
O! preserve me from resting in outward forms or barren speculations.
Let nothing satisfy my soul, but the possession of THYSELF dwelling in my heart by faith, and filling me with peace and joy, blended with holy fear.
O! grant that I may ever prefer thee to every thing in earth or heaven; for thou, blessed Jesus, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, three persons in one Jehovah, art alone worthy of all love, adoration and praise.
Everlasting praises be given unto thee by men, and angels. O! my soul, begin now the eternal anthem. However feeble the string, yet let it vibrate to the praise of thy God. However weak thy notes, yet let them ascend in grateful adorations to him who hath loved thee, and washed thee from thy sins in his own blood. To him be all honour, glory and power, ascribed by every tongue henceforth and for ever. Amen and Amen.
O! thou, from whom all blessings spring,
Shall I enjoy thy bounty, Lord,
Jesus! thy saving name contains,
Bless thou the Lord, my soul, and sing
Whose love through all his counsels shine,
XXXIII. ON KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM.
What can be more agreeable to the dictates of true wisdom, than that a creature should love and obey its Creator, when that creature is endued with faculties capable of loving and obeying the Author of its existence? The reverse of this constitutes the grossest impiety.
No man of reflection, however carried away by his passions, or perverted in his views of divine revelation, can help allowing, that to love the supreme good, is the truest wisdom, and to obey the supreme governor, the highest duty.
Yet men, who pass for philosophers who can unfold the beauties of nature, and even expatiate on the charms of virtue; not unfrequently are the slaves of sensual pleasure, and enemies to the Gospel of Christ: thus proving, that human knowledge however refined, can never reduce the rebel state of the affections to the love and fear of God; or convert the wild, tumultuous passions, to spiritual order and peace.
Men may talk wisely about worldly matters; for our blessed Lord hath declared, that "the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light;" but the wisest worldly character can never, by any natural effort of the understanding, think and act wisely about spiritual and eternal things.
Orthodox notions of the truth may indeed be imbibed, whilst the heart continues under the influence of evil; for we read of persons, "holding the truth in unrighteousness." But true wisdom consists not in the bare knowledge of what is good, but in reducing that knowledge to practice. Thus, I may know that it is my duty to love and obey God; but I am only wise, when I really do love and obey him.
If I had to cross a river in winter, which was fro en over; and were told, that owing to a current in the middle of the stream, the ice would be too weak to bear my weight; this knowledge would only prove beneficial, in case I had wisdom enough to desist from the hazardous attempt. Should I, after this knowledge of the state of the ice, still persist in crossing the river, my conduct would be termed temerity; and if drowned, men would condemn my folly. This distinction runs through all the transactions of political, civil, and commercial life. The truth is too obvious to need further illustration. It must therefore be apparent, that
"Knowledge and wisdom, far from being one,
Job, with beautiful clearness, points out to us the nature of true wisdom. It is not the knowledge of natural objects; neither can created things impart
"The depth saith, it is not in me; and the sea saith, it is not in me.' "God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof." "Unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding."
There is in all men a natural desire after happiness. All are anxiously in quest of it. The inquiry is, "Who will shew us any good?"
Man, having lost his way through the fall, is now stumbling upon the dark mountains of vanity, in search of that treasure, which he never can find in earthly things. He wants to be happy. To obtain this blessing, he is willing to forego many present enjoyments.
Some brave the billows of the ocean. Others dare the cannon's mouth. Multitudes rise early, and late take rest, and eat the bread of carefulness, in order to accumulate those golden stores, which
they fondly hope will purchase happiness. Riches perchance increase, but cares and vexatious anxieties grow up together with them. Happiness, like a flying phantom, still eludes their eager grasp, till compelled at length to give up the chase, they exclaim with Solomon: "All is vanity and vexation of spirit."
Here we may ask: why is man thus restless after an imaginary good? why does every possession lose its value, and every enjoyment its zest, whilst that certain something, still desired, yet unpossessed, fastens on the mind, and renders all other earthly pleasures comparatively insipid?
Is it not, that man was originally created for nobler ends, than those which he is now pursuing? He resembles a noble temple in ruins. We see the fragments of ancient grandeur; but they are so mutilated and destroyed, that no feeling is excited but that of pain, whilst viewing the desolation.
The Gospel, like a guardian angel, points out to man the way to happiness. Here he may know how to obtain felicity; and here, through grace, he may be made wise unto salvation.
Is he anxious to be rich? The Gospel unfolds to his view the unsearchable riches; whilst the Spirit is freely offered to enable him, like the wise merchantman in the parable, to sell all and buy this
Is he thirsting after glory? The Gospel reveals to him that honour which cometh from God only; and that glory which is prepared for the righteous in a future world.
Is he desirous to obtain a name? The Gospel assures him that, if a believer, his name is written in heaven; for the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance.
Is he panting after pleasure? The Gospel tells