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And, above all, such souls shall take heed how they hear, and beware of the leaven of the self-righteous Pharisees; which, of all characters, are the most arch deceivers, and their doctrine is the most opposite to Christ and the grace of God. The Sadducees were a most wretched set of beings, who denied the existence of angels and souls departed, the resurrection of the dead, and future rewards and punishments; consequently denied the bible, and, in fact, made the Author of it a liar; yet even against these Christ never inveighed in so dreadful a manner as against the self-righteous, hypocritical Pharisees, on whom he pronounced more woes in one chapter, than there are against the devil himself in the whole bible.
“The heart also of the rash (or hasty] shall understand knowledge.” The rash seem to be such of God's elect who, through a blind zeal, violently oppose the gospel; as Paul did ignorantly, in unbelief; or as the Ephesians opposed Paul in behalf of Diana; who were counselled to do nothing rashly, as Paul and his companions were neither robbers of churches nor blasphemers of their goddess. It is the heart, not the head, of the rash, that shall understand knowledge. Experimental knowledge by the Spirit, not knowledge in the theory, is what is meant: and this understanding of knowledge is to understand the knowledge of God. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his
riches: But let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me; that I exercise righteousness, lovingkindness, and tender mercies, in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” Which knowledge, in brief, consists in an experience of his powerful arm, in being quickened by his powerful voice, knowing his salvation by the pardon of sin, and his goodness in Christ by the sense of his love.
“And the tongue of the stammerer shall be ready to speak plainly,” or elegantly. This stammerer, as I conceive, is not one who stutters or stammers literally. I do not recollect that the Lord healed any of these, though he opened the mouth of the dumb, and the eyes of the blind;
; but rather poor, troubled, trembling sinners, who are in the dark, and in much doubt about their state, whose muddy language is neither pure nor plain. These, when their eyes see clearly, and their ears hear to profit, shall, under the influence of the Spirit, who creates the fruit of the lips, and speaks by them, be ready to speak plainly about the safety of their state: they shall be at a point, speak with confidence and boldness, and use great plainness of speech, about a work of grace on them, and the great truths of the gospel revealed to them. And these plain speakers are opposed to those who conceal their inward thoughts and secret bane under their tongue, and mutter in evasive and equivocal terms, so as to be construed to any thing, and understood any
how. When they lie in wait to deceive and beguile the simple and unwary, God's servants shall use plain speaking, and nothing of his counsel shall be kept back; but the whole shall be declared, and that without shunning, or keeping back part of the price.
In this my introduction, we have the saint and the servant of God fully described, and their characters fairly drawn. In their dignified character, they are princes, the offspring of the King of Zion: persons who rule in the church of God in jndgment, as persons in a justified state. Being in Christ, they are secured from the errors of men, and the storm of wrath. Christ is the fountain that supplies them, and the rock that screens them. They are neither blind nor dim-sighted; they have eyes to see a blind guide, and ears to hear and distinguish between the oracles of truth and a false director: they are not sportsmen of the field, but men of the tent; not cunning hunters, but plain dealers, who use great plainness of speech, and declare plainly what they were by nature, and what they are by grace, and who it was that made them to differ.
Having now seen what Christ is to them, and what he has done for them, we have in my text, which next follows, the use they make of their enlightened eyes and circumcised ears. They are to use their knowledge aright; and not to judge according to personal appearance, nor according to the sway of corrupt affections, but to judge
stroy the poor with lying words, when even the needy speaketh right. But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand," or be established.
In handling these words, I am determined, by the help of God, to be particular upon every point.
1. To give you a description of a vile person, who is to go by his proper name, and not to be called liberal.
2. Of the churl, who is not to be palmed with the name bountiful.
3. That a vile person is to be known by his vile doctrine; “The vile person will speak villany."
4. All that proceeds from his mouth, springs from the irreconcilable enmity of his heart against the Lord Jesus. “ His heart will work iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord.”
5. His drift, in all this, is, “to make empty the soul of the hungry; and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.”
6. We will consider the instruments that he uses in his mischief, and the quality of them; “ The instruments also of the churl are evil.”
7. The ultimate end he aims at is the eternal ruin of the just, even against their own testimony. “ He deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right.”