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FORTITUDE RECOMMENDED ON THE SIDE OF TRUTH
Jeremiah 9:3. They are not valiant for the truth upon the earth.
IT is by no means uncommon to see men valiant in their country’s cause, or fearless in the commission of iniquity. But courage on the side of religion is a quality but rarely seen. This virtue attaches not itself to strength of nerves, nor is it a necessary attendant on constitutional intrepidity. It is a grace, produced in the heart by the Holy Spirit; and is found equally to adorn the weaker as the stronger sex. The want of natural courage is a fault in those only who enter into professions where the exercise of it is essential to a proper discharge of their duty: but the want of spiritual valour is a crime, for which we must answer before God: yea, it is a great and heinous crime, for which we have reason to dread his heaviest judgments. The prophet, when enumerating the sins which prevailed among the Jews, and which caused him to weep over them day and night, mentions this as one that called for his severest reprehension; namely, that when they could “proceed with undaunted effrontery from evil to evil,” they “were not valiant for the truth upon the earth.”
In illustrating these words, we propose to shew,
That valour is requisite on the side of truth—
Let “truth” be taken in the lowest sense, as meaning nothing more than common justice and equity, and there will still be found need of valour for the maintenance of it in the world. Let a magistrate set himself vigorously to reform abuses, and he will soon find that vice and profaneness will maintain a violent contest against him, and that he has need of courage to carry his plans into full effect.
But if we understand “the truth” as comprehending the whole extent of our duty not only as men but as Christians, our need of valour in maintaining it will be still more apparent. We stand in need of it,
To profess the truth—
[Who does not know that a profession of religion subjects us to contempt? What was said of the Christians of the first ages, is equally true at this day; “We know that this sect is everywhere spoken against.” Men will “gaze strangely at us, as soon as we cease to run with them into their excess of riot [Note: 1 Peter 4:4.].” As soon as we “depart from evil, we make ourselves a prey [Note: Isaiah 59:15.],” which every one feels himself at liberty to hunt. What the Gibeonites experienced, when they made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel, is a striking emblem of what must be expected by all who submit to Jesus, and associate themselves with his people [Note: Joshua 10:3-4.] — — — And does it not require courage to endure this? — — — Verily, there are many who would find it easier to walk up to the mouth of a cannon, than to brave the contempt and obloquy to which a profession of religion would expose them.]
To practise it—
[Let a person be solicited by his friends to unite with them in courses which he disapproves; let him be ridiculed as indulging needless scrupulosity and preciseness, or perhaps as hypocritically pretending to more sanctity than his neighbours; will he find it easier to be steadfast in his obedience to God, dissembling no truth, omitting no duty, conforming to nothing dubious or sinful? Will he need no courage to stem the torrent, to disregard the appearances of singularity, and to maintain a conscience void of offence towards God and man? — — —]
To recommend and enforce it—
[The Gospel enjoins us, not only to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to reprove them.” Now we know what have been the consequences of such faithfulness in all ages; “I hate Micaiah, because he doth not speak good concerning me, but evil:” “The world hateth me, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil [Note: John 7:7.].” And is it a light matter to encounter the hatred of our friends, and relatives, yea, and of the whole world? When we foresee these consequences, are we in no danger of withholding the admonitions and instructions which we ought to give? Are we in no danger of “putting our light under a bushel,” when we know what offence will be taken at us, if we suffer it to shine forth? Are we under no temptation to indulge that “fear of man which bringeth a snare?”]
If we cannot recommend, or practise, or even profess, religion, without valour, we can have no doubt about,
The duty of exercising it—
It is a duty we owe,
[God has not told us to obey his commandments only as far as the world will approve, but to “follow him fully,” and to love and serve him with our whole hearts, Will he then be contented to see us “partial in the law?” Will he accept our plea, if we urge our fear of man as a reason of our not fearing and obeying him? No: he has bidden us “not to fear man, who can only kill the body; but to fear him, who can destroy both body and soul in hell [Note: Luke 12:4-5.].”]
To our neighbours—
[What will they think of religion, if they see us, who profess it, violating its most sacred obligations through feat of offending man? Will they not imagine that it is not worth contending for? Will they not be emboldened to shew the same preference to the world that we do; and to regard the opinions of men more than the commands of God? On the contrary, Would not a firm, bold, decided conduct tend to convince them, that God is worthy to be served, and that “his loving-kindness is better than life itself?”]
[Our own everlasting welfare depends upon our steadfastness in the ways of God. “If we are ashamed of him, he will be ashamed of us:” “if we deny him, he will deny us;” “if we draw back, it will be unto perdition; for his soul can have no pleasure in us:” “he only that overcometh, shall inherit all things;” and “he only that endureth unto the end, shall ever be saved.” If then we have any regard for our own souls, we must be valiant, and “quit ourselves like men:” for if even life itself be suffered to stand in competition with his will, our souls will be forfeited and lost for ever [Note: Matthew 10:39.].]
It is not however sufficient to possess valour: we should also understand,
In what way it should be exercised—
Here we are very liable to err: true Christian valour should be shewn,
In meek and patient sufferings—
[Passive valour is by far the most valuable. Would we see it illustrated? Let us see how it operated in the Apostle Paul: “Being defamed,” says he, “we entreat; being persecuted, we suffer it.” Would we behold the most striking exemplification of it that ever existed? Let us behold Jesus, who had just before evinced his power over his enemies by striking them all to the ground with a word, yielding up himself to them, and led as a sheep to the slaughter. Behold him, “dumb before them, even as a sheep before her shearers; giving his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, and not hiding his face from shame and spitting:” “when he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed himself unto him that judgeth righteously:” yes, here was precisely the valour which we are called to exercise. We must “possess our souls in patience,” and “let patience have its perfect work.” If once we recede from this ground, we are vanquished, If we would “not be overcome of evil, we must overcome evil with good.”]
In firm and steady perseverance—
[Obedience to God is the great point: to that we must adhere at all events. We must resemble Daniel and the Hebrew youths, and determine to suffer the most cruel death, rather than violate the dictates of our conscience [Note: Daniel 3:16-18.], or neglect any known duty whatsoever [Note: Daniel 6:10.]. Next to our blessed Lord, St. Paul perhaps endured more for the truth’s sake than any of the children of men: in every place, bonds and afflictions awaited him: but “none of those things could move him, neither counted he his life dear unto him, so that he might but fulfil the ministry” committed to him: he was “willing not only to be bound, but also to die,” at any place, at any time, and in any manner, for his Master’s sake: when he had been stoned, and left for dead, at Lystra, he returned again speedily to that very city, regardless of his own life, and intent only on executing the commission which he had received of the Lord Jesus [Note: Acts 14:8; Acts 14:19; Acts 14:21.]? Thus must we go on, “steadfast, immoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord:” and in such a course we shall approve ourselves “good soldiers of Jesus Christ.”]
We would add to what has been said, a word,
[Let not any imagine that Christian fortitude at all militates against the duties which we owe to our parents, or to any that are placed in authority over us. Many are apt to mistake pertness and forwardness as marks of valour: but “they know not what spirit they are of;” they are, in fact, displeasing God as much as man, while they indulge a petulant, froward disposition. We need look well to ourselves in this particular, and see that we are not gratifying our own self-will, under a pretended regard for the commands of God. We should never forget the respect due to our superiors: and when we are forced to act contrary to their commands, we should strive as much as possible to conciliate them in our manner of doing it; and shew them, that our opposition to their will is not a matter of choice, but of necessity.]
[None need to fear, as though they should not be able to act valiantly in the hour of trial: for God has promised, that we shall not be tempted above our ability to withstand, or without a way for us to escape [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:13.]. We are told of women, who, under the most grievous sufferings for conscience sake, would not accept deliverance, when it was offered as an inducement to recede from their principles [Note: Hebrews 11:35.]. We need not fear therefore but that “our strength also shall be according to our day [Note: Deuteronomy 33:25.].” God will “strengthen us by his Spirit in our inward man, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness:” and “his strength shall be perfected in our weakness.” In the weakest amongst us shall that promise be exemplified, “They that do know their God, shall be strong, and do exploits [Note: Daniel 11:32.].”]
THE ONLY TRUE AND SUFFICIENT GROUNDS OF GLORYING
Jeremiah 9:23-24. Thus saith the Lord, 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 am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth. [Note: The Author’s first Sermon before the University, preached in 1785, now above forty-six years ago, and never before published.] TO know the Creator is the supreme excellence and chief good of man. The Jews enjoyed greater opportunities of obtaining this knowledge than any people upon earth: yet they neglected to improve their advantages; and, like the nations around them, sought their happiness in the creature, and confided in it for their security; having forsaken him who was their Rock of Defence. They treated Jeremiah’s predictions of their captivity in Babylon with contempt. This the prophet saw and bitterly lamented: and hoping still if possible to reclaim them and thereby to prevent their calamity, and to secure to them a permanent enjoyment of their privileges, he exhorted them in the name of God himself to renounce all dependence on their own wisdom, might, or riches; and to glory rather in the knowledge of their God, and an acquaintance with him as their Protector and Deliverer. To us who have a much clearer revelation of God’s nature and perfections, the exhortation may be applied with still more propriety and stronger energy.
Let us then (as the text requires) first remove the false and insufficient grounds of glorying, and then propose such as are true and sufficient.
The usual grounds of glorying the prophet here proscribes:
“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.”
It is by no means to be imagined that earthly things are to be utterly disregarded, and that Christians in these days are to expect those miraculous gifts of wisdom and power which were bestowed in the days of the Apostles, or that we are now called to forsake our several occupations as they were: this would be enthusiasm indeed. At the first promulgation of Christianity, it was necessary that the instruments used for that purpose should be both weak and illiterate, that the excellency of the power might more evidently appear to be of God: but the person who should now hope to speak by inspiration, to work miracles, or live like the birds of the air, without any thought for the morrow, would grossly misunderstand the Scriptures, and become an object of ridicule or pity to all rational and sober-minded. Christians.
Wisdom is highly necessary in religious concerns and in every department of social life; it capacitates us for instructing others; it enables us to make improvements in arts and sciences; it qualifies us for superior usefulness at the bar and in the senate: nor less in religious exercises; it gives a deserved pre-eminence to all who possess it; and a want of it (especially in a seat of learning) is deservedly attended with proportionable ignominy.
Power also is desirable; inasmuch as it may be used for the preservation of due order in society and most beneficially employed in punishing vice and rewarding virtue. Nor are riches to be disregarded, for they afford us many opportunities as well of encouraging industry, as of relieving the necessitous; and they give full scope for the exercise of our most benevolent affections. Each of them has its peculiar uses; and each is a precious talent capable of the highest improvement. Yet however they lay no solid foundation for glorying: and the prophet’s injunction is that we should not glory in them; by which he means, that we are not to esteem them too highly, nor to regard them as the principal objects of our pursuit, nor to place our chief happiness in them, nor to make them our trust and confidence.
And indeed what is there in our wisdom wherein to glory? The more knowledge we possess, we are only more fully convinced that we know nothing in comparison of what is yet veiled from our eyes: besides, the wisest counsels are often frustrated for want of power to carry them into execution; and though we excelled even Solomon himself, disease or accident may reduce us in a moment to a level with the brutes.
What is there in power? To have it is no little temptation to exercise it in an unbecoming manner and for selfish ends: it universally stirs up opposition in those who are subjected to our authority, and creates much trouble and anxiety to ourselves in the dispensing of it.
And what is there in riches? They often generate in our hearts covetous and sordid tempers (for it is seldom that our “riches increase, but we immediately set our hearts upon them”), they make us proud, overbearing, and oppressive: yet all the wealth of the Indies can furnish us with very little more than food and raiment: and there are so many thousand ways in which we may be impoverished, that Solomon observes of riches, “they make themselves wings and fly away.”
What ground then is there for glorying in any, or all, of these? There is not any in wisdom; for it is limited in its extent, defective in its operations, and uncertain in its continuance. There is not in might; for the very possession of it is dangerous, and the exercise of it vexatious to ourselves and others. There is not in riches; for they are defiling in their influence, contracted in their uses, and precarious in their tenure.
Besides all which in the hour of death all our thoughts perish, our rank and dignity are annihilated, and our wealth is transferred to another owner. And in the day of judgment, not all the wisdom, might, or riches, that ever were possessed by man will be sufficient to bribe our Judge, withstand his power, or elude his search.
Let us proceed then to consider what is the true and sufficient ground of glorying: “Let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord who exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.”
The knowledge of God as far excels all other attainments, as God, the object of that knowledge, surpasses all created excellencies. But it is not every knowledge of God that lays a foundation for glorying. It is not the knowledge that there is a God; for that is common to the evil angels as well as the good. It is not the knowledge of God from the works of creation; for that comes as much under the observation of heathens as of Christians. But it is a knowledge of God as revealed in the inspired writings. This is strongly intimated in those two expressions in my text, “understandeth” and “knoweth,” which are designed to teach us, that it is only in a practical and experimental knowledge of God that we are to glory; or in other words, such knowledge as makes us stand in awe of his majesty, tremble at his threatenings, and seek an interest in his love and favour. Several reasons might be offered for glorying in this rather than in the forementioned possessions or attainments. I will assign three which will comprehend them all: First, because the knowledge of God is not subject to any of those defects, which are almost inseparable from wisdom, might, and riches. They are above the reach of far the greater part of mankind; this is equally attainable by all: they too often debase the mind; this invariably elevates and ennobles it: they leave us still longing for something unpossessed; this supplies all the wants, satisfies all the desires, and fills all the capacities of our immortal souls: they, through the depravity of our nature, often become means and instruments of pride, oppression, and avarice; this changes the proud, tyrannical and avaricious man into the image of God in righteousness and true holiness: they are destroyed at death; but this is perfected.
Again we may glory in this knowledge of God, because it transcends all their excellencies. Human wisdom may enable us to discharge the duties of civil life with advantage; but the knowledge of God rectifies our judgments about things of far greater moment; it makes us both see and feel the evil of sin, the beauty of holiness, the vanity of time, and the importance of eternity. It teaches us (which is indeed the very essence of wisdom) to pursue the best ends by the fittest means; to seek a crown of glory by a renunciation and abhorrence of every known sin, a firm reliance on the Saviour’s merits, and an uniform obedience to his commands. Power also may be improved for the good of the community; but the knowledge of God endues us with might for better purposes; it renders us mighty to resist temptations, mighty to subdue our evil tempers, mighty to mortify our lusts and passions, mighty to endure the bitterest afflictions, and mighty to vanquish the united forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Riches, too, it is granted, are highly beneficial; but the knowledge of God imparts more profitable riches: through it we are rich in possession, and in reversion too; it brings into our souls a sense of pardon, it fills us with a peace which passeth all understanding, and entitles us to all the blessings which God himself can bestow: for Solomon, on making this very comparison, observes that “wisdom is a defence, and money a defence, but the excellency of knowledge (i.e. of spiritual knowledge) is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.” And a greater than Solomon still more plainly affirms, that “to know God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, is eternal life;” i.e. is the way to it, and the very beginning and earnest of it.
Once more. We may glory in this knowledge of God, because it comprehends and unfolds to our view wisdom, power, and riches that are indeed infinite. The text particularly directs us to consider God as exercising loving-kindness (to his friends), judgment (to his enemies), and righteousness or justice (in the distribution both of his rewards and punishments). Now this is a view of God which we have not any where, but in the Gospel of Christ. In his dealings towards the fallen angels we behold only his judgments; but in his dealings with man we behold the exercise of mercy and loving-kindness, because he accepted the mediation of his Son on our behalf. The Apostle directs us therefore to look for the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The intent of the types and prophecies in the Old Testament, as well as the historical and epistolary writings in the New, is to hold forth Jesus Christ as that illustrious person in whom the Father would be glorified: He therefore, as being “the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person,” is the proper object of our glorying: and so inestimable is the knowledge of Him, that Paul (the most learned and powerful, if not the richest of the Apostles) counted all things as dung and loss in comparison of it. Now the knowledge of this our incarnate God comprehends, I say, and unfold to our view, wisdom, might, and riches that are indeed infinite. Infinite wisdom—In the person, work, and offices of our Lord, are contained mysteries, which, though hid from all eternity in the bosom of the Father, were displayed with the fullest evidence upon the cross. It is true that the doctrine of a crucified Saviour was “to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but,” says the Apostle, “to them that are called, it is the wisdom of God;” or, as he elsewhere terms it, “the wisdom of God in a mystery:” and so indeed it is; for it reconciles things which, to unhumbled, unenlightened persons, would appear contradictory and absurd. It shews us how sin may be punished, and yet the sinner saved: and this too not only without countenancing sin or dishonouring the law, but in such a manner as to bring more honour to the law, than if it never had been broken, and to manifest more indignation against sin, than if the offender had endured its deserved penalty. It shews us also how the divine perfections unite and harmonize in the great work of redemption; how God may pardon those whom he had threatened to destroy, without any violation of his word; and how he may restore rebels to peace, without any infringement of the demands of justice; or, as the Psalmist beautifully expresses it, how “mercy and truth may meet together, and righteousness and peace kiss each other.” It shews us further (which is wonderful indeed) mercy displayed in a way of punishing sin, and justice in a way of pardoning it; yea, more mercy than if the whole world had been pardoned without any such atonement, and more justice than if the whole human race had been, like their predecessors in iniquity, cast into the depths of hell. In God, as shining forth in the person of his Son, we behold also infinite might. Jesus Christ is called by the Apostle “the Wisdom of God and the Power of God,” because that, when mankind had destroyed themselves, and not a combination of all created powers could effect their deliverance, his own arm brought salvation. He sustained the dreadful weight of their iniquities in his own body on the tree, and ransomed an apostate world by his own most precious blood. To all appearance indeed he “was crucified through weakness:” he fell a sacrifice to the envy of the priests, the treachery of Judas, the cowardice of Pilate, and the rage of an incensed populace: yet by that very fall he bruised the serpent’s head and triumphed over principalities and powers. He submitted also to an imprisonment within the bowels of the earth; yet soon burst the gates of death, by which it was not possible he should be detained, and shewed himself to be “the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead.”
Infinite riches also are manifested in this our adorable Redeemer. How glorious, how unsearchable were the riches of the Father’s love, which rather than we should perish, bestowed, not an angel or archangel, but his only-begotten Son, yea, gave him up for rebels, to the most bitter, ignominious, and accursed death of the cross! How rich was the Son’s compassion, to obey that law which we had broken, to humble himself that we might be exalted, to endure the penalties which we had incurred, and to die that we might live for ever! What unbounded mercy! Inasmuch then as this knowledge of God is not subject to the defects that are in wisdom, power, and riches, but transcends their excellencies, and comprehends them all in the highest degree; we may, we ought to glory in it: we cannot value it too highly, we cannot seek it too earnestly, we cannot contemplate it with too exalted joy, or trust in it with too confident assurance: this was evidently the sentiment of the Apostle when he said, “I am determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified.” And again, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here it will be proper to observe the manner in which the inspired writer prefaces his exhortation in the text; “Thus saith the Lord.” The voice of the world is quite different; even they who are esteemed the wisest in the world hold up wisdom, power, and riches as the grand, if not the only, objects worthy of our pursuit: the whole multitude are following these with unabated ardour: all their affections are set upon them: their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows, are excited alternately by these, as the loss or acquisition of them shall give occasion: these are the things most envied and admired: and, when obtained, are ever made the ground of glorying. But the knowledge of God and of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ is deemed scarce worthy our attention. If it were at our option to be the wisest, greatest, and richest person upon earth, but at the same time destitute of this knowledge; or to be endued with it, but at the same time live in a state of poverty, meanness, and ignorance, how few would shew themselves like-minded with God in this matter! Indeed, how few seek this knowledge at all, or even give it the least place in their thoughts! On the contrary, the generality treat it with contempt; and too many seem to apprehend, that we cannot glory in our God, but we must presently be beside ourselves: but (as says the Apostle) “let God be true, and every man a liar;” let the whole universe combine to extenuate the guilt of neglecting God, and to exalt wisdom, power, and riches, as the chief good of man; their opinions are of no avail: for “thus saith the Lord, 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 am the Lord, who exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth;” that I am He, who will amply and eternally reward those who glory in me, and will assuredly execute judgment upon those who idolize the world. While therefore we pay a just attention to those things which God allows, and the interests of society require us to pursue, let us take shame to ourselves for having preferred the perishing things of time and sense, to an acquaintance with our God; let us fear lest we be left to take the fruit of our choice, and to have our portion only in this life; let us receive the united testimonies of reason and revelation; and, in compliance with their dictates, let us prize above all things, follow with unwearied assiduity, and supremely delight ourselves in, the knowledge of this Saviour; that through him we may be mighty in subduing our evil habits, rich in faith and good works, and wise unto salvation; so shall we have cause to glory here, and be partakers of everlasting felicity in the world to come. Now to God, &c. [Note: The analysis of this is added, to shew how easily the short skeletons may be formed into entire sermons.] Jeremiah 9:23-24. Thus saith the Lord, 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 am the Lord, which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth.
WE need no other introduction to our subject than that of the prophet [Note: Isaiah 1:2.]—
Bearing in mind therefore the Saviour’s repeated admonitions [Note: Mark 4:9; Mark 4:23.], we shall
Remove the false and insufficient grounds of glorying—
Wisdom, Power, and Riches, are highly esteemed amongst men—
And, if rightly improved, they certainly are valuable talents
[Wisdom enables a man to conduct his own affairs with discretion—
It qualifies him also for instructing his fellow-creatures—
It may lead a person to make many valuable discoveries—
Thus it may profit individuals and the community at large—
Might also is useful for the preserving of order in society—
And it may be improved to suppress vice, and encourage virtue—
Riches too may serve for the rewarding of industry—
Or they may be employed in relieving the necessitous—
None of these things therefore ought to be depreciated—]
But they are by no means proper objects of glorying—
To glory in any thing, is, to value it highly, pursue it eagerly, and seek our happiness in it—
But we must not thus glory in Wisdom—
[The wisest know that they know but little—
Their best concerted plans they often want power to accomplish—
Disease or accident may soon reduce them to a level with the beasts—]
Nor should we glory thus in Might—
[Power is a source of temptation to those who are invested with it—
It indisposes a man to comply with reasonable restraints—
It generally excites opposition in those who are subjected to it—]
Nor are Riches at all more worthy objects of our glorying—
[Wealth is very apt to produce covetous and sordid tempers—
It frequently renders its possessors proud and oppressive—
At best it can furnish us with little more than food and raiment—
And we are liable to be deprived of it in a thousand ways [Note: Proverbs 23:5.]—]
To glory therefore in any of these things would be absurd [Note: Who that considers what Wisdom is, would ever glory in it; so limited as it is in its extent—so defective in its operations—and so uncertain in its continuance? Or who in Might, the possession of which is so dangerous—and the exercise of which is so vexatious to themselves and others? Or who in Riches, which are so defiling in their influence—so contracted in their benefits—and so precarious in their tenure? If to this we add, that all these things perish and depart at death, and are utterly useless in the day of judgment, we can have no doubt but that the prohibition in the text is as reasonable as it is decisive.]—
Having removed these common but insufficient grounds of glorying, we shall,
Propose such as are true and sufficient—
The knowledge of God in Christ Jesus is the only object of glorying—
[The knowledge that there is a God is not the knowledge here spoken of—
Nor is it the knowledge of God as He is seen in the works of creation—
But the knowledge spoken of in the text is a view of him in redemption—
It is in the Gospel only that God’s loving-kindness to his friends appears—
In that too especially He denounces his judgments on his enemies [Note: Mark 16:16.]—
And in both He displays equally his unspotted righteousness [Note: Psalms 85:10.]—
Not that a speculative knowledge even of this will suffice—
The words “understand and know” imply a practical knowledge—]
This is a just ground of glorying to all who possess it—
It is free from all the defects which are found in the foregoing grounds—
[They render the mind low and groveling; This elevates and ennobles it—
They never satisfy the soul; This affords it perfect satisfaction [Note: Isaiah 55:2.]—
They may become sources of craft, tyranny, and avarice; This always changes us into God’s image [Note: 2 Corinthians 3:18.]—
They end with our present existence; This is perfected at death—]
It transcends all the excellencies that are in the foregoing grounds—
It imparts more excellent wisdom—
[It rectifies our judgments about more important objects—It teaches us to seek the best ends by the fittest means—]
It endues us with more excellent might—
[It renders us mighty to mortify our lusts and passions [Note: 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.]—
It qualifies us to conflict with all the powers of darkness [Note: Ephesians 6:11-12.]—]
It conveys to us more excellent riches—
[It puts into our hands “the unsearchable riches of Christ”—
It makes us rich in possession, and in reversion too [Note: Ecclesiastes 7:12.]—]
It comprehends all the foregoing grounds in the highest degree:
[This knowledge of God unfolds the deepest mysteries [Note: Colossians 2:2-3.]—
It shews how sin may be punished, and yet the sinner saved—
It shews how mercy is exalted in punishing, and justice in rewarding—]
[The salvation of a ruined world is a marvellous display of power—
Hence Christ is called “the Wisdom of God, and the Power of God”—
We have no idea of almighty power, till we know a redeeming God—]
[Infinite are the riches of divine grace—
In the glorious mystery of redemption they are all contained—
The knowledge of God exhibits them all to our view [Note: Ephesians 2:7.]—]
In this we cannot possibly glory too much—
[We cannot possibly set too high a value on this knowledge [Note: 1 Corinthians 2:2.]—
We cannot pursue it with too much earnestness—
We cannot delight in it with too exalted joy—
Let us therefore seek to know God as He is revealed in the Gospel—
Let us take encouragement from that declaration of our Lord [Note: John 17:3.]—
Let the fixed purpose of our hearts resemble that of the Apostle [Note: Galatians 6:14.]—]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Jeremiah 9". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany