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eternal happiness in heaven. Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith :—to God only wise, be glory, through Jesus Christ for ever.
SERMON I V.
“ Rejoicing in the habitable parts of His earth; and my delights were
with the sons of men.”—PROVERBS, viii. 31, first clause.
It is Wisdom who here speaks, as you may see at the beginning of the chapter. She lifts up her voice,
, standing on the top of high places by the way, like public crier from an elevated rostrum in the street. She takes her station in the places of the paths, that is, at the meeting of the paths, where several roads meet, and where passengers are wont to congregate. She crieth at the head or side of the gates, at the mouth or entry of the city, yea, at the very entrance of the doors of the city gate, as the inhabitants go out and come in.
The heavenly lessons she thence addresses to all of every class, old and young, rich and poor, are detailed in the subsequent verses of the chapter, down to the 22d. But then ensues an evident change of scene and of style. Wisdom is now spoken of as possessed by Jehovah from eternity—as brought forth and existing before all worlds—as present when the heavens were stretched out, and when the foundations of the earth were laid. When the clouds were established above, and the depths below, when the mountains and hills
were settled, and the barriers of the mighty ocean fixed secure, then Wisdom is represented as saying, — “ Then I was by him as one brought up with him,
, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him. Rejoicing in the habitable parts of His earth, and my delights were with the sons of men.”
Now, brethren, we do at once concede that, if we had to view this passage merely by itself, and unconnected with other portions of revealed truth, we would be constrained to regard it simply as exhibiting a personification no less bold than beautiful, of the divine attribute of wisdom — that wisdom which shines forth so conspicuously in all the works of the Creator, the only wise God, our Saviour. But, before we rashly conclude that that exhausts the meaning of this remarkable passage, let us compare spiritual things with spiritual, and hear what other scriptures say. And where is the Christian who knows not that the New Testament speaks of one-not an intellectual abstraction, but a substantive person, a real being, a living, active agent, who is the wisdom of God-in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, who was in the beginning with God, by whom He made the worlds, without whom not one thing was made that was made, who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of creation, the bright radiance of His glory, the exact impression of his substance? For by him, and for him, were all things made that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were made by him and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist, and he upholdeth all things by the word of his power, and in all things he has the pre-eminence. Him the Father loved from the foundation of the world, and glory he had with the Father before the world began. Read the text and context in connexion with the following passages in the New Testament. Read the text and then read the 1st chapter of the Gospel of John, the 1st chapters of the Epistles to Colossians and the Hebrews; read it with an eye enlightened by the full blaze of gospel light, and your hearts will instinctively whisper,—“ It is the Lord.” That these verses may be fitly interpreted as descriptive of the Eternal Son of God, in his pre-existent state of glory, was the opinion of all the early fathers of the Christian church; and it has been held by many sound expositors in modern times. I may add, that there are certain expressions in this concluding part of the description, by which the evangelical view of its meaning is strikingly confirmed.
You can easily conceive in what sense it may figuratively be said, that wisdom or eternal reason was ever present with the Deity, and attended upon him in all his works, for it is according to its dictates that He the all-wise and all-perfect must necessarily act. But, when we farther read that this wisdom was then by him as one brought up with him, that it was daily his delight, and that its delights were with the sons of men—that it rejoiced always before him, and that it rejoiced, too, in the habitable parts of his earth,--when we meet with expressions such as these, we must regard the application of them to a mere abstract attribute, as forced, unnatural, not to say unintelligible. But, on the other hand, when we consider them as used in reference to a real existing person, every thing in the
passage appears simple, easy, and unconstrained ; and knowing, as we do, from the evangelical record, who and what the only begotten Son of God is, who was in the bosom of the Father from all eternity, we at once acknowledge that to him, and to him alone, can the description be applied,—for to him the description may be applied with as much propriety of diction as perfect justice and truth.
Regarding the words of the text, then, as the language of the Eternal Son of God, mark what a sublime and transporting view it opens up of his gracious character and his wondrous ways! It speaks of that intimate union and ineffable communion which from eternity existed between him and his Father! It tells us of the pure delight he has ever had in promoting and witnessing and sympathising in the happiness of God's rational offspring. It especially declares how, from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was, his benevolent mind darted forward through all intervening ages, and anticipated with holy joy a period in time when, relinquishing his abode in the bosom of the Father, and renouncing the society and the songs of angels—the sons of God, he would seek and find his happiness among the sons of men. Yea, that there should be something resulting from His connexion with them, that would for ever form the chief source of his own felicity and glory, and upon which even now, in far distant prospect, his mind rested with unutterable satisfaction and intensest delight.
In the farther prosecution of this subject, I would, in humble dependence upon the divine aid and blessing, call your thoughts to the consideration of two