« PreviousContinue »
shall all know me from the least to the greatest; for they shall be all taught of God? All were to be taught by him, all his children.
Therefore his children now have the same promise of divine teaching which the primitive Christians had: for the promise is to us, and to our children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Since then the scripture so clearly confutes this absurd and wicked opinion, do you, my brethren, give it up, and acknowledge the necessity of divine teaching. If not, what other objection have you against the doctrine ? Have you been used to think that it carried with it an air of enthusiasm ? I know many persons look upon it in this light. If any of you do, pray tell us what you mean by enthusiasm ; for it seems to us only a bad name given to the best thing, At this day the knowledge of vital and experimental religion is so far lost, that whenever the generality of our people hear it spoken of, they do not understand it; and what they do not understand they reject, under the odious name of enthusiasm; so that this name does not stand for any bad properties in the thing to which they apply it, but only signifies their dislike of
And if they express their dislike by a hard náme, what hurt can they do? Can it really turn the words of truth and soberness into enthusiasm ? Can that be enthusiasm which believes God to be a faithful promise-keeping God, and that his word cannot be broken ? What! is it enthusiasm to desire to be taught of God, and to ask wisdom of him, after he has commanded his children to ask it, and has engaged to teach it to them! Surely no; God's promises must be fulfilled, and they who seek their accomplishment cannot be disappointed. He hath spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets, that all his children shall be taught of God; and heaven and earth shall pass away before one tittle of these words shall fail. Men and brethren, what do you think now of this objection, which wants to make God a
liar, for promising to teach his children, and which treats them as enthusiasts who expect to be taught of him? Certainly you cannot defend such a blasphemous opinion. Well, then, the way is farther cleared for a favourable reception of the doctrine: and do you indeed receive it? Perhaps you assent to it; but what sort of an assent do you give? Is it active and operative? If not, what will it avail ? You will learn none of the things of God by simply believing that God does teach them to his children: you must ask, if you would have: you must seek, if you would find that wisdom which cometh from above. And you must ask with earnestness, and seek with diligence; not as if you could thereby merit, but to express your wants and your, humility. The divine direction in this case is, Prov. ii. 3, 4, &c. "If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;" not asking faintly, but crying aloud, and lifting up the voice through the fervency of the desire after wisdom. " And if thou seekest for her as silver, and searchest for her as hid treasures ;"! seeking with as great pains, and searching with as constant application as ever worldly man took to enrich himself; “then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God: for the Lord giveth wisdom;" he giveth it to every one who seeks with humble diligence.
These are words of comfort to you who desire to be taught of God, and who are seeking of him the knowledge of divine things. Seek, as he has directed you, and you shall find. He will teach you, because he has made you teachable. He has already taught you one lesson, which is perhaps the hardest you have to learn. He has convinced you of your entire ignorance of divine things. You no longer take up your rest in the fancied abilities of nature, but are consulting the word of God, and praying for the teachings of the spirit of God. This is the appointed way to receive instruction. And if you wait in this way, he who directed you to the way
will meet you and instruct you in it. Only remember, that his glory, being the motive and end of all his dealings with men, must be your motive and end in learning divine things. You must have a single eye to his glory in asking knowledge of him: and what he gives you must use to his glory. His glory must be promoted by all that he teaches you ; and therefore you must come to learn of him, humble, under a continual sense of your ignorance and unworthiness, and meek, disposed like a new-born babe to receive the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby; and you must be a diligent scholar; you must read much, and pray more; yea, you must watch in prayer with all perseverance, and then the promise, which wisdom itself has made, shall be fulfilled 10 you-Prov. viii. 34 : “ Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting
doors.” He that watches and waits thus is blessed: for God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, will shine into his heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
What thanks can we render unto God for his exceeding grace, who still shines into the hearts of his children? Glory be, to his great name, there are many among us who have reason to praise him for his divine teaching. They have found him faithful to fulfil his promises : for he has opened their blind eyes, and has led them into the knowledge and belief of the truth. Daily are they magnifying the riches of his infinite love, which has brought them out of darkness into his marvellous light, and has translated them out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of his dear Son. These persons are witnesses for God, and can set to their seal that he still teaches his children by his word and by his spirit: for they have been illuminated with the true knowledge and understanding of his word, and by their living they set it forth and show it accordingly,
This is the happy state of so many of you as are
real Christians. You have experience of the truth of the text, and you know it to be an undoubted matter of fact. My Christian brethren, what return will you make to your divine teacher for the comfortable lessons which he has taught you? What less can you do than praise him with your lives, as well as with your lips ?
lips? Praise him for what you have already learnt, and continue humbly to wait on him for your growth in knowledge. Remember that the new man which
have put on is to be renewed in knowledge day by day. The spirit of wisdom is to help you to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. This is your privilege; and it is your interest to make a constant use of it. The wisest of us know but little of what is to be known; therefore you should be diligent in your attendance upon the means appointed of God for your teaching. Read the word, and meditate on it by day and night; and when the Holy Spirit explains and applies it, then it will be a lanthern unto your feet, and a light unto your paths. Pray over the word. Prayer will digest it, and the prayer of faith mixed with it will make it nourishing and strengthening to the inner man; and thus you will grow in grace, and be renewed in knowledge-the understanding will be renewed with still clearer view of spiritual things; the will, no longer prejudice against them, will be renewed with a more determi nate choice of them; and the affections will be re newed with a more hearty love and a fuller enjoymen of them. Hereby your sanctification will be carried on, and you will be renewed day by day in true holiness, after the image of him that created you. Haying therefore these privileges, dearly beloved brethren, having such a teacher, and such things to learn of him, having the Spirit of the most high God to teach you all things which belong to your present peace, and to your eternal glory, Oh, what diligence should you use in attending upon the means by which your divine teacher has promised to instruct you! In them
be ye constantly found waiting; waiting with humble teachable tempers, and praying for the blessing of God upon the use of his appointed means. And while you thus continue to wait upon God, he will continue to teach you. He has promised it to his children, and he cannot lie.' He will make you wise unto salvation.
Having thus exhorted you, my Christian brethren, to make a diligent use of the great privilege of the new covenant, I have nothing farther to offer but my prayers. May he that heareth prayer send down his blessing upon what has now been spoken. May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of glory, give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, that the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe. O may our God manifest these great truths to your understandings, and give you the sweet experience of them in your hearts, that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, and that you may walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God, until you see him face to face; and then shall you know, even as you are known.
To this perfect knowledge and ever blessed fruition of God may the Lord Jesus bring you all by the ministry of his word, and by the teaching of his Spirit, that you may be for ever happy in giving thanks and praise to the three divine persons in one Jehovah, to whom the church in earth and heaven ascribes all glory in time and in eternity. Amen and Amen.