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unequal distribution of other things, as of health and strength, of power and riches : but, if we will trust the judgment of most men concerning themselves, nothing is more equally shared among mankind than a good degree of wisdom and understanding. Many will grant others to be superior to them in other gifts of nature, as in bodily strength and stature, and in the gifts of fortune, as in riches and honour; because the difference between one man and another in these qualities, is many times so gross and palpable, that no body hath the face to deny it : but very few, in comparison, unless it be in mere compliment and civility, will yield others to be wiser than themselves; and yet the difference in this also is. for the most part very visible to every body but themselves.

So that true wisdom is a thing very extraordinary. Happy are they that have it : and next to them, not those many that think they have it, but those few that are sensible of their own defects and imperfections, and know that they have it not.

And, among all the kinds of wisdom, none is more nice and difficult, and meets with more frequent difappointments, than that which men are most apt to pride themselves in, I mean political wisdom and prudence ; because it depends upon so many contingent caufes, any one of which failing, the best laid design breaks and falls in pieces. It depends upon the uncertain wills and fickle humours, the mistaken and mutable interests of men, which are perpetually shifting from one point to another, so that no body knows where to find them. Besides an unaccountable mixture of that which the Heathen called fortune, but we Christians by its true name, the provia dence of God, which does frequently interpose in human affairs, and loves to confound the wisdom of the wise, and to turn their counsels into foolishness.

Of this we have a most remarkable example in Ahithophel, of whose wisdom the fcripture gives this extraordinary testimony, that the counsel which he counselled in those days, was as if one had inquired at the oracle of God: fuch was all the counsel of Ahithophel, both with David and with Abfalom. It seems he gave very good counsel also to Abfalom; and because he would not follow it, was

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discontented to that degree, as to lay violent hands upon himielf. And now who would pride himself in being so very wise, as to be able to give the best counsel in the world; and yet so very weak, as to make away himself, because he to whom it was given was not wise enough to take it?

The like miscarriages often happen in point of military skill and prudence. A great prince or general is sometimes so very cautious and wary, that nothing can provoke him to a battle; and then at another time, and perhaps in another element, so rash and wilful, that nothing can hinder him from fighting, and being beaten : as if the two elements made the difference, and caution were great wisdom at land, and confidence and presumption great prudence at sea. But the true reason of these things lies much deeper, in the secret providence of almighty God, who when he pleases can so govern and over-rule both the understandings and the wills of men, as shall best serve his own wise purpose and design.

And as the highest pitch of human wisdom is very im: perfect in itself, so is it much more so in comparison with the divine knowledge and wisdom. Compared with this, it is mere folly, and less than the understanding and wisdom of a child to that of the wiseft man. The foolishness of God (says St. Paul, 1 Cor. i. 25.) is wiser than men ; that is, the least grain of divine wisdom is infinitely beyond all the wisdom of men : but in opposition to the wisdom of God, the wisdom of men is less than nothing and vanity. Let men design things never so prudently, and make them never so sure, even to the Popish and French degree of infallibility ; let them reckon upon it as a blow that cannot fail : yet, after all, the counsel of the Lord, that shall Land ; and he will do all his pleasure: for there is no wifiom, nor under. standing, wor counsel, against the Lord.

And now we may ask the question which Job does, chap. xxviii. v 12. Where Jhall wisdom be found? and where is the place f understanding?

And we must answer it as he does, ♡ 13. It is not to be found in the land of the living ; unless it be that one infallible point of wisdom to which God directs every man, and of which every man is capable, viz. religion,

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and the fear of God: Job xxviii. 28. Unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom ; and io depart from evil, is understanding.

2dly, when knowledge and wisdom are with great difficulty in any competent measure attained, how easi. ly are they lost? By a disease, by a blow upon the head, by a sudden and violent passion, which may disorder the strongest brain, and confound the clearest understanding in a moment: nay, even the excess of knowledge and wisdom, especially if attended with pride, as too often it is, is very dangerous, and does many times border upon distraction, and run into madness; like an athletick constitution and perfect state of health, which is obferved by physicians to verge upon some dangerous disease, and to be a forerunner of it.

And when a man's understanding is once crazed and shattered, how are the finest notions and thoughts of the wisest man blundered and broken, perplexed and intangled, like a puzzled lump of lilk, so that the man cannot draw out a thought to any length, but is forced to break it off, and to begin at another end? Upon all which, and many more accounts, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, which is lo very imperfect; fo hard to be attained, and yet so easy to be loft.

2. Neither let the mighty man glory in his might. Which, whether it be meant of natural strength of body, or of military force and power, how weak and imperfect is it, and how frequently foiled by an unequal Itrength ?

If we understand it of the natural strength of mens bodies, how little reason is there to glory in that, in which so

many of the creatures below us do by so many degrees excel us? in that, which may so many ways be lost; by sickness, by a maim, and by many other external accidents; and which however will decay of itself, and by age sink into infirmity and weakness?

And how little reason is there to glory in that, which is so frequently foiled by an unequal strength Of which Goliath is a famous instance. When he de. fied the host of Israel, and would needs have the matter decided by a single combat, God inspired David to accept the challenge ; who, though he was no ways comparar

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ble to him in strength, and would have been nothing in his hands in close fight; yet God directed him to assail him at a distance, by a weapon that was too hard for him, a stone out of a lling, which struck the giant in the forehead, and brought his unwieldy bulk down to the earth.

Or if by might we understand military force and power, how little likewise is that to be gloried in ; considering the uncertain events of war, and how very often and remarkably the providence of God doth interpose to cast the victory on the unlikely fide ? It is Solomon's observation, that such are the interpositions of divine providence in human affairs, that the event of things is many times not at all answerable to the power and probability of second causes, Eccles. ix. II. I returne.t, (says he), and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swifi, nor the battle to the strong.

And one way, among many others, whereby the providence of God doth often interpose to decide the events of wir, is by a remarkable change of the seasons and wrather in favour of one side; as by sending great snows, or violent rains, to hinder the early motion and march of a powerful army, to the disappointment or prejudice of some great design; by remarkable winds and storms at sea, to prevent the conjunction of a powerful fleet; and by governing all these for a long time together, fo visibly to the advantage of one side, as utterly to defeat the well-laid delign of the other. Of all which, by the great mercy and goodness of God to us, we have had the happy experience in all our late sio gnal deliverances and victories.

And here I cannot but take notice of a passage to this purpose in the book of Job : which may deserve our more attentive regard and consideration, because I take this book to be incomparably the most ancient of all other, and much elder than Moses; and yet it is written with as lively a sense of the providence of God, and as noble figures and fights of eloquence, as perhaps any book extant in the world. The passage I mean is, where God, to convince Job of his ignorance in the sea crets of nature and providence, poseth him with many hard questions, and with this amongst the rest,

Job

Job xxxviii. 22. 23. Has thou entered into the treasures of the snow ? or haft thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war? The meaning of which is, that the providence of God doth sometimes interpose to determine the events of war, by governing the seasons and the weather, and by making the snows and rains, the winds and storms, to fulfil his word, and to execute his pleasure.

Of this we have a remarkable instance in the defeat of Sisera's mighty army; against whom, in the fong of Deborah, the stars are said to have fought in their courses. The expression is poetical; but the plain meaning of it is, that by mighty and sudden rains, which the common opinion did ascribe to a special influence of the planets, the river of Kishon, near which Sisera's army lay, was so raised and swoln, as to drown the greatest part of that huge host. For so Deborah explains the fighting of the stars in their courses against Sisera : They fought(says she) from heaven, the stars in their courses fought against Sisera; the river of Kishon swept them away : as if the stars, which were supposed by their influence to have caused those sudden and extraordinary rains, had set themselves in battle-array against Sifera and his army.

Therefore let not the mighty man glory in his might, which is so small in itself ; but in oppolítion to God, is weakness and nothing. The weakness of God (says St. Paul) is stronger than men. All power to do mischief is but impotence, and therefore no matter of boasting : Psal. lii. 1. Why boasteth thou thyself, thou tyrant, that thou ari able to do mischief? the goodness of God endureth continually. The goodness of God is too hard for the pride and malice of man, and will last and hold out when that hath tired and spent itself.

3. Let not the rich man glory in his riches. In these men are apt to pride themselves : even the meanest and poorelt spirits, who have nothing to be proud of but their money, when they have got good store of that together, how will they fwell and strut? as if, because they are rich, and increased in goods, they wanted nothing. But we may do well to consider, that riches are things

without

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