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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Proverbs 8

 

 

Verse 17

DISCOURSE: 769

ADDRESS PREPARATORY TO CONFIRMATION

Proverbs 8:17. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early, shall find me.

THESE are the words of our blessed Lord [Note: ver. 22–31.], who, under the name of Widom, addresses himself to the children of men [Note: ver. 4, 5.], and urges them to receive instruction from him [Note: ver. 32, 33.]. But to the young they are more particularly directed: and it is for their encouragement more especially that I have selected them for our consideration at this time.

Two things they declare to us most explicitly;

I. Who they are that already enjoy God’s favour—

God in some respects may be said to love the whole world, even in their present degenerate state: for “he so loved them, that he gave his only-begotten Son for them.” But there are some who are more particularly the objects of his favour. Mark,

1. The description given of them—

[“They love the Lord Jesus Christ.” They know his character, as set forth in the Holy Scriptures; they know him to be the only, and all-sufficient Saviour of fallen man — — — They have seen and felt their obligations to him, and have sought for redemption altogether through the blood of his cross — — — They live in daily habits of communion with him — — — They have a good hope of acceptance with God through him — — — And his very name “is precious to their souls” — — —]

2. The love he bears towards them—

[“He loves them,” and looks with peculiar complacency upon them, “rejoicing over them with joy, and resting in his love, and joying over them with singing [Note: Zephaniah 3:17.].” To them he delights to “manifest himself, as he does not unto the world [Note: John 14:21-23.],” even to “come and sup with them [Note: Revelation 3:20.],” and “make his abode with them”

— — — “He rejoices over them to do them good [Note: Jeremiah 32:40-41.].” imparting all needful supplies of grace and strengeth to their souls [Note: John 15:5; John 15:7; John 15:16.], and ordering all things both in heaven and earth for the promotion of their welfare [Note: Romans 8:28.] — — — He accounts them “his jewels [Note: Malachi 3:17.]” and “his peculiar treasure [Note: Exodus 19:5.];” and esteems the salvation of their souls a rich recompence for all the sufferings he ever endured [Note: Hebrews 12:2. Isaiah 53:11.] — — — For them does he interest himself day and night in heaven; ever “making intercession for them” with his Father, and preparing kingdoms for them, which they in due season shall inherit, in glory and felicity similar to his own [Note: John 14:2. Revelation 3:21.] — — —

O! who amongst you does not desire to partake of this blessedness? — — —]

But as amongst you there must be many who are not yet in this blessed state, and who yet desire to participate this happy lot, we proceed to shew,

II. Who they are that shall certainly obtain it—

In some respects it may be said, that “He is found of them that sought him not, and made known to them that inquired not after him.” But no person is authorized to hope for an interest in his favour, unless he seek after it. The promise is, “Ask, and ye shall have; seek, and ye shall find.” But

The persons to whom the promise is more especially made, are “those who seek him early.”

[Those who seek the Lord even “at the eleventh hour” shall not be cast out [Note: Matthew 20:6-7.]; but those who in the early dawn of their day are found desirous of entering into the service of their Lord, shall surely be employed by him. The very circumstance of their seeking the Lord while yet they are free from the cares of this life, and before their souls are vitiated with its sinful pleasures, whilst their consciences are yet tender, and their hearts open to every good impression, is a strong presumption in their favour: we should be ready, without any express promise from God, to say, that such persons “shall never seek his face in vain.” But we have an absolute promise in their favour: we can assure them from God himself, that they “shall never fail.”]

“They,” says our Lord, “shall find me”—

[Yes, he will delight to visit them: they are “the lambs which he will carry in his bosom [Note: Isaiah 40:11.];” “the little ones, whom he will never suffer to perish [Note: Matthew 18:14. Luke 12:32.].” Though they be weak both in knowledge and in grace, “he will not despise the day of small things [Note: Zechariah 4:10.].” He says, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And when he sees them flocking around him, he will “take them up in his arms, and put his hands upon them, and bless them [Note: Mark 10:14-16.]” — — — When he saw only “some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel” in the heart of young Abijah, he noticed it with a distinguishing mark of his favour [Note: 1 Kings 14:13.]: and how much more will he, when he sees “the babes desiring the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby,” and actually growing in stature up to young men and fathers! — — — Verily their hosannahs, however despised by men, shall enter into his ears with acceptance, and their prayers shall return in “showers of blessings” upon their souls [Note: Luke 19:40.] — — — They shall “find him” here an ever-present help, and hereafter their inestimable and everlasting portion — — —]

Address—

1. To the Young People here assembled—

[You are about to be confirmed. But do you know what confirmation is? You were consecrated to the Lord in your baptism; and a solemn engagement was then entered into in your behalf, that you should love him, end surrender up yourselves entirely to his service. This vow you are now going to take upon yourselves. And tell me Whether in my text you have not all the encouragement that your souls can desire? Give yourselves to the world, and you will inherit only vanity: but “seek to love the Lord, and you shall inherit substance [Note: ver. 21.].” Think how happy you will be through life, when you are the objects of the Saviour’s care and love — — — and think how happy you will be in death — — — O let me not plead with you in vain! but “remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, in which you shall say, you have no pleasure in them [Note: Ecclesiastes 12:1.]” — — — “Seek ye the Lord whilst he may be found: call ye upon him whilst he is near [Note: Isaiah 55:6.]” — — —]

2. To Parents, and those who have an opportunity of influencing the minds of young people—

[This is a favourable opportunity for you to exert yourselves, and to concur with your minister in his labours of love. Be labourers together with him, with all your might — — — But do not forget that the glorious truths in our text are to be experienced by you also — — — And, if much of your day is already past, be the more earnest now in “redeeming the time” that yet remains to you — — —]


Verses 29-32

DISCOURSE: 770

WISDOM’S ADDRESS TO MEN

Proverbs 8:29-32. When he appointed the foundations of the earth, 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 part of his earth: and my delights were with the sons of men. Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children! for blessed are they that keep my wags.

THE Proverbs of Solomon are a rich compendium of moral precepts, suited to men in all the various situations of civil, social, and domestic life. Some intimations indeed there are of Evangelical doctrines; but they are neither numerous, nor distinct: the scope and intent of the author having been, not so much to enlighten the minds of men with respect to principles of religion, as to supply them with a code of sacred ethics, for the regulation of their conduct. Yet, in the chapter before us, the language is so peculiar, as to have induced the most able commentators to think, that there was in the author’s mind an intentional departure from his accustomed plan, and a designed reference to Christ, the Saviour of the world. It is not our object to decide this point, but, rather, to exhibit the passage in such a view, as may render it most conducive to our spiritual improvement.

Let us consider then,

I. What is that wisdom which here addresses us—

The two leading views of it will come under our consideration, if we interpret it as importing,

1. Wisdom personified—

[It is evident that, throughout the whole chapter, Wisdom is represented as a person, and it must be spoken of as a person, in order to give scope for such a representation of it as is contained in our text [Note: We beg this to be particularly noticed; because it is the sole ground of the following statement; which, if that circumstance were overlooked, might appear fanciful.].

Wisdom was then ever “with God, as one brought up with him.” It is an essential perfection of his nature, attendant on him on all occasions as a counsellor, without whose advice not any thing was ever transacted from all eternity. God has never done any thing from the mere impulse of his own sovereign will and pleasure; whatever he has predestinated, has nevertheless been “wrought according to the counsel of his own will [Note: Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:10.]. Wisdom has presided in all his councils; nor has any thing ever been carried into effect without having previously received her sanction.

Her deliberations have been very mainly conversant about the affairs of men. God foresaw that man would fall, and, if left to himself, would perish like the fallen angels. But he greatly desired to save man, if peradventure it might be accomplished consistently with his own perfections. Every one of his attributes concurred in the wish; but with some of them there seemed to be claims, which interfered with that object, and which could not by any means be set aside. Holiness required, that its hatred of sin should be fully known. Justice required satisfaction for the violations of God’s law, and could in no wise be induced to relax its demands. Truth also desired, that its honour should not be compromised. It had no objection to the exercise of mercy, if only the sacred word of God might be kept inviolate: but it could never consent, whatever object were to be attained thereby, that the immutable God should be “made a liar [Note: 1 John 5:10.].” In this difficulty, all looked to Wisdom, to know, whether she could devise any way, whereby the exercise of mercy might consist with the rights of all the other attributes of the Deity. Wisdom intimated, that she had a plan to propose: a plan, whereby Mercy might have free scope for exercise, not only without invading or injuring the rights of any other attribute, but to the great advantage of them all, insomuch that all should be honoured to an infinitely greater extent than they ever could have been, if their demands had been satisfied through the destruction of the whole human race. It proposed, that the Son of God himself should take upon him the sins of the whole world, and suffer, as man’s substitute, all that Truth and Holiness had denounced against him, and all that the most rigorous justice could require. Such a sacrifice made to law and justice, to truth and holiness, would put on all of them an honour, which they could never by any other means obtain — — —

Her proposal, made with infinite delight to herself, was heard with infinite delight by Almighty God. Whilst she was thus, by anticipation, “rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth and her delights were with the sons of men. she was daily God’s delight, and rejoiced always before him.” We may be assisted in our meditations on this subject, by considering a philosopher occupied with the deepest investigations, and crowned with unexpected success: what joyous exultation fills his breast! how is he ready to proclaim to all the world, “I have found it! I have found it!” Or perhaps we shall approximate nearer to the point, if we conceive of a physician, on whose skill the life of thousands is depending, discovering an antidote that will arrest the progress of the plague, and a remedy that will restore to health all those who are already infected with it: what pure and holy joy will animate his soul! But the Scripture itself furnishes us with various illustrations of this important idea: the woman finding the piece of money which she had lost, and the shepherd his sheep that had strayed from the fold, are each represented as calling for the sympathetic joys of their friends and neighbours: and, as these are intended to elucidate the joy which our Redeemer feels in the successful execution of his office, they may well serve to illustrate the ineffable delight which the proposals of Wisdom are represented as exciting in her own bosom, and in the bosom of the Deity.

But we have said that Wisdom may also be interpreted as signifying.]

2. Wisdom incarnate—

[Most Commentators think that the expressions in our text refer to Christ, who is called “the Wisdom of God [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:24.]:” and who, as the Lagos or Word, declares to men the hidden counsel of the Father.

Of him it is distinctly said, that He “was with God, and was God [Note: John 1:1-3. with Hebrews 1:10.];” that “He made all things; and that without him nothing was made that was made.” Here then we have the precise language of our text applied to the Son of God, who was from all eternity “in the bosom of the Father [Note: John 1:18.],” concurring with him in all that ever he planned or executed [Note: John 5:19; John 10:38.].

How he was occupied in the concerns of men, is familiar to all our minds. Truly “his delights were with the sons of men,” whom he determined to rescue from perdition, and to “redeem unto God by his own blood.” This was “the joy that was set before him, for which he engaged to endure the cross, and despised all the shame that should ever be poured upon him [Note: Hebrews 12:2.].” No sacrifice was too great for him to make. Was it necessary that satisfaction should be made for all the breaches of God’s law; and that the very nature that had sinned should suffer? He willingly engaged to lay aside his own glory, and to assume our nature, in order that he might suffer, and, by suffering in our stead, “make reconciliation for our iniquities.”

In understanding this mysterious office, he was filled, as his Father also was, with ineffable delight. What joy the thought of ransoming our fallen race excited in his bosom, we are told by the Psalmist: for when it was declared by the Father, “with whom the council of peace was held [Note: Zechariah 6:13.],” that all creature-sacrifices would be insufficient for the occasion, he instantly replied, “Lo, I come; (I, thy co-equal, co-eternal Son, come:) I delight to do thy will, O my God! yea, thy law is within my heart [Note: Psalms 40:6-8. with Hebrews 10:5-9.].” A corresponding joy sprang up also in the Father’s breast; as the prophet Isaiah tells us; for in the contemplation of the future accomplishment of this mystery, the Father, looking with infinite complacency on his Son who had undertaken the office, and on his people as accepted in and through him, said, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth [Note: Isaiah 42:1.]!” And, at the time when he bore an audible testimony to his Son from heaven, it was in these words, “This is that my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased [Note: Matthew 3:17. See the Greek.].” Thus, in reference to this great event, it is said in our text, “I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him:” and in reference to the same we must understand that declaration of our Lord himself, “Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world [Note: John 17:24.].”]

Thus, whether we understand the address as made to us by Wisdom personified, or Wisdom incarnate, we cannot but feel a deep interest in all that it has spoken to us, and set ourselves carefully to ascertain,

II. Our duty in reference to it—

Doubtless we should “hearken to its voice,” and with child-like simplicity receive its loving instructions. We should,

1. Delight ourselves in the contemplation of wisdom—

[Wisdom generally, wisdom universally, should be the object of our continual pursuit: “through a desire of attaining it, we should separate ourselves, and seek, and intermeddle with all wisdom [Note: Proverbs 18:1.].” The works of creation should, as far as we have a capacity for such subjects, be investigated by us, in order to excite our admiration of that wisdom by which they were framed. The order and harmony of the heavenly bodies, the beauty and richness of this terraqueous globe, the exquisite workmanship of the human frame, together with the powers and faculties of our immortal souls, all open to us such inexhaustible stores of wisdom and knowledge, as, if duly explored, will strike with reverential awe the humble inquirer, and fill with devoutest gratitude the admiring soul. The works of Providence also, if once we are enabled to view them in their mutual relation and dependence, will transport the soul with wonder, and overwhelm it with the deepest sense of gratitude. No book in the universe, except the Bible, will convey half so much instruction to the mind, as may be gathered from a man’s own experience of God’s dealings with him, especially in the concurrence of his providence with the operations of his grace: and the man who has learned to read this book, and become conversant with its contents, has acquired “secrets of wisdom, which are double [Note: Job 11:6.],” yea, which are tenfold greater than any which are known to the merely natural man. God has said, that “he has abounded towards his people in all wisdom and prudence [Note: Ephesians 1:8.]:” but “his secrets are with those alone who fear him [Note: Psalms 25:14. Hosea 14:9.]:” none others are at all able to appreciate his love: that “knowledge is plain only to him that understandeth [Note: ver. 9.].”

Our chief attention however must be directed to that adorable Saviour, who “spake as never man spake.” and in whom his most inveterate enemies could not find a flaw [Note: John 8:46.]. In him we have such lessons of wisdom as the whole universe besides does not afford. In tracing all the circumstances of his life, we should do well at every step to inquire, What answer should I have given? what conduct should I have pursued? and, from such examinations frequently repeated, we shall learn at last, how far we are removed from true righteousness, and how much “folly is bound up in our hearts.” In a word, we should sit at the feet of Jesus, as Mary did, drinking in, with insatiable avidity, the instructions of Wisdom, and applying our hearts to them as the clay to the seal. “In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [Note: Colossians 2:3.].” In Him is revealed to us “the mystery that was hid from ages and generations,” and “which the angels themselves desire to look into [Note: 1 Peter 1:12.];” and the mystery, at the first intimation of which, long “before the worlds were made, the morning stars sang together, and the sons of God, the holy angels, shouted aloud for joy [Note: Job 38:6-7.].” No sooner was the commission given to make this known to men, than a host of the heavenly angels left their bright abodes, and came down to earth exulting, “Glory to God in the highest! and on earth peace; good will towards men [Note: Luke 2:13-14.]!”

These are contemplations worthy of our exalted powers, worthy of our high destinies: and to delight ourselves in them is the wisdom, and the happiness of man.]

2. Surrender up ourselves to its dictates—

[In every duty of life there is need of the suggestions of wisdom. Even good men often act a very foolish part, for want of a well-regulated mind. Many have no idea of that important truth, “I, Wisdom, dwell with Prudence [Note: ver. 12.].” To “walk in wisdom towards them that are without [Note: 1 Colossians 4:5.],” and to “give no offence either to the Jews, or to the Gentiles, or to the Church of God [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:32.],” come not into the contemplation of many, any more than if no such things were required of us, and no such example had been ever set us. But our determination, through God’s help, should be, under all circumstances, like that of David, “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way [Note: Psalms 101:2.].”

In fact, there is no true wisdom but that which is practical. The very end of knowledge is practice: and, however deep or exalted our speculations may be, “if we walk not circumspectly, we are fools [Note: Ephesians 5:15.].” But, in order to carry into effect the lessons of Wisdom, we must “watch daily at her gates, and wait at the posts of her doors [Note: ver. 34.].” We must bring our views, our desires, our motives, to the strictest scrutiny: we must apply to every thing “the line of judgment, and the plummet of righteousness:” and, above all, we must beg of God to give us “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, and to make us quick of understanding in the fear of the Lord [Note: Isaiah 11:2-3.].” Without this, we shall continually err: without this, we shall inevitably fall.] “Hear then the voice of Wisdom, O ye children!” Hear it,

1. Ye children in age—

[Ye can never begin too early to listen to the counsels of Wisdom. It is by them only that you can avoid the snares of a corrupt heart, and of a deceitful world — — — O! think what dangers are before you: see “what multitudes are walking in the broad road that leadeth to destruction, and how few there are that walk in the narrow path that leadeth unto life!” and remember, that “you must reap according to what you sow: if you sow to the flesh, you must of the flesh reap corruption: but if you sow to the Spirit, you shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting [Note: Galatians 6:7-8.].” Say not, that you are too young to receive her lessons: for she particularly encourages you by expressing a more than ordinary solicitude for your welfare: “I love them that love me,” says she; “and they that seek me early, shall find me [Note: ver. 17.].”]

2. Ye children in understanding—

[The poor, whose intellectual powers have never been expanded by the aid of education, are ready to imagine that it is in vain for them to explore the depths of heavenly wisdom. But be it known to all, that divine wisdom enters, not by the head, like earthly knowledge, but by the heart: be it known also, that it is not acquired by deep laborious research, as human sciences are, but by the teaching of the Holy Ghost; for “the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding [Note: Proverbs 2:6.]:” and so far are the poor from having any reason to despair of attaining it, that they are by far the most likely to obtain it, because they are more willing than others to be taught of God. Hence our Lord himself says. “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight [Note: Matthew 11:25-26.].” Pray then to God to “give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him [Note: Ephesians 1:17-18.],” and be assured “it shall be given you [Note: James 1:5.],” and you shall be made “wise unto salvation through faith in Christ.”]

3. Ye children in grace—

[You have begun to know the value of wisdom: you have a little glimmering view of those great mysteries, of which we have been speaking. “The day-star has arisen in your hearts,” and you have found “the ways of Wisdom to be ways of pleasantness and peace.” But you must “go on unto the perfect day,” even till Christ himself, “the Sun of righteousness, arise upon you with healing in his wings.” O seek to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!” Be constant in your attendance on the ordinances of God; search the Scriptures, and treasure them up in your hearts; and, above all, “be instant in prayer” for fresh supplies of the Spirit of Christ: then shall you be guided into all truth; and “the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven-fold, as the light of seven days.”]


Verse 35-36

DISCOURSE: 771

THE VALUE OF TRUE WISDOM

Proverbs 8:35-36. Whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul: all they that, hate me, love death.

IT is common in the prophetic writings to find expressions which really relate to the Messiah, while they apparently speak only of some other person or thing; and while other expressions in the same passage have no proper reference to him at all. It is impossible not to notice this in the 22d and 69th Psalms, and in many other places which are quoted in the New Testament as referring to him. The same mode of speaking, we apprehend, may be observed in the chapter before us. In some parts of it, true religion seems to be characterized under the term “Wisdom;” but in others, Christ himself. From the 22d to the 31st verse, the language cannot well be interpreted as designating religion, nor even an attribute of the Deity: it can only be understood of God’s eternal Son, who lay in the bosom of the Father, and before the foundation of the earth rejoiced in the prospect of becoming an inhabitant of this globe, for the salvation of sinful man. Yet, on the whole, we apprehend, that the exhortation to Wisdom at the beginning of the chapter speaks rather of piety as the proper object of our pursuit. We are sure that this is the general import of the term throughout the book of Proverbs; and that piety, as personified under this name, frequently addresses us. We rather lean therefore to the safe side in our interpretation of the text, than ground upon it any observations which may appear forced, or unwarranted by the text itself.

Two things then we shall be led to notice;

I. The benefit of seeking true wisdom—

Wisdom, whether relating to temporal or eternal things, is never found by chance: it must be sought by persevering inquiries, and be obtained as the fruit of diligent research To those who do find it, it will be productive,

1. Of present happiness—

[By “life” we may understand happiness; and then the first clause of our text will exactly correspond with what is more diffusely stated in the third chapter [Note: Proverbs 3:13-18. In this sense the term occurs elsewhere. See Proverbs 22:4. 1 Thessalonians 3:8.]. Till we have attained true wisdom, we know not what real happiness means: “There is no peace,” saith God, “to the wicked.” As for the mirth which the men of this world enjoy, it is only “like the crackling of thorns under a pot;” it blazes for a moment, and then goes out in spleen and melancholy. He who knows perfectly what is in man, says, “Even in mirth their heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness [Note: Proverbs 14:33.].” But when once they have just views of Christ, and are truly devoted to him, they are filled with “a peace that passeth all understanding,” and, at times, with “joy unspeakable and glorified.” Now they begin to know what life is: “they truly pass from death unto life.” Their former was little better than a state of mere animal existence; but now they see the true end, and taste the true enjoyment, of life: they participate in a measure the blessedness of heaven itself. We appeal to those who have ever known what it is to “live by faith on the Son of God,” and to feel the constraining influence of his love, whether one hour of “fellowship with the Father and the Son” does not outweigh whole years of fellowship with sin and sinners.]

2. Of future happiness—

[“No favour can we find with God,” till we are brought to the possession of true wisdom [Note: Isaiah 27:11.]. But, instantly on our embracing his dear Son as he is revealed in the Gospel, we are numbered amongst “his peculiar people,” whom “he has set apart for himself,” and esteems as “his jewels.” Then there is no favour that he will not shew them: he will come down and “make his abode with them, and sup with them.” He will “keep them with all the care and tenderness with which we keep the apple of our eye:” and he will administer to them, in every hour of trial, whatever shall be most suited to their necessities [Note: Psalms 5:12.]. In the hour of death especially, “when they are going, as it were, through fire and water, he will be with them:” and, on the instant of their release from this mortal body, he will transport them on the wings of angels to his blest abode, there to behold and participate his glory to all eternity. But who can form any idea of the blessings he will then bestow. It is sufficient for us to know that his word is pledged, and that what he hath promised, he is able also to perform.]

If such be the value of true wisdom, what must be,

II. The folly of neglecting it—

Sin of every kind is an act of hostility against sound wisdom: and, if the sin be wilful, it is an evidence that our hostility proceeds from a rooted hatred of vital godliness. There is the same mutual opposition, and irreconcileable enmity, between sin and holiness, as between darkness and light: they cannot consist together, nor can the love of both find room to dwell in one bosom. If then we allowedly neglect true wisdom,

1. We “wrong our own souls”—

[The soul has strong and just claims, which every sinner resists. As being of a higher nature, and endued with larger capacities, than the body, it claims that the body should submit to its authority. As being the only seat of intelligence, it claims that the body follow its guidance. As being immortal, and doomed to spend an eternity in inconceivable happiness or misery, it claims that the body consult its interests. But when the voice of wisdom is silenced, and sin is permitted to rule in our mortal body, then is the soul wronged in every respect; its authority is slighted; its counsel rejected; its interest sacrificed: it is even made the drudge and slave of the body, to execute its devices and to gratify its lusts. Who does not see, that if any man, for the gratification of avarice, should resist the natural claims of the body for food and raiment, he would be justly and universally condemned? And does he act less foolishly, who, in the manner before mentioned, wrongs his soul? Yea rather, is not his folly greater in proportion as his soul is of greater value? Truly this is a just picture of one who sins against true wisdom.]

2. We “love death”—

[Can any one, it may be asked, love death? We answer. No: not for its own sake; but, as connected with sin, he may. There is an inseparable connexion between life and holiness on the one hand, and sin and death on the other. Could sin and heaven be allied, and enjoyed together, doubtless every sinner would prefer it. But that is impossible. A specific and unalterable option is given us: and every man is perfectly free to choose the one and refuse the other, to adhere to the one and renounce the other. The sinner determines for himself: and by his determination declares his preference: he practically says. “If I cannot have the gratifications of sin without death, welcome death, welcome damnation; for sin I will have, whatever be the consequence [Note: Mark strongly here God’s own appeal. “Why will ye die? Ezekiel 33:11. compared with Acts 13:46 and Proverbs 15:32.].” Now can one reflect a moment on such a choice as this, and not stand amazed at the folly that determines it? Will it bear an argument? Are not the excuses with which it is veiled, mere vain and empty delusions? And does not every one see the folly of them, the very moment he sets himself to serious consideration? Yet this is the conduct which men call wisdom: but which, if it obtained in relation to worldly affairs, they would call downright madness.]

“Suffer now, Brethren, a word of exhortation,” while I address myself,

1. To the despisers of true wisdom—

[Consider a little more attentively, what it is that you despise. The thing to which you are exhorted is, to seek acceptance with an offended God; to embrace the salvation which he offers us in the Son of his love: and to devote yourselves to him in a way of holy obedience — — — Is there any thing in this that merits hatred and contempt? any thing that should make a man choose damnation rather than submit to it? What if an ungodly world has agreed to call it folly: is it therefore folly? Has not God said, “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom?” Is there a saint in heaven, or on earth, that does not account it wisdom? Yea, is there a soul even in hell itself that is not now of the same mind? We go farther still, and ask, Whether they who most deride religion now, will not be convinced of its excellence the very moment that their soul is required of them? “How long then, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?” “Turn you at my reproof,” says God: “Oye simple, understand wisdom; and, ye fools, be of an understanding heart [Note: Proverbs 1:22-23; Proverbs 8:5.]” — — — Say not, “It is too soon for me to seek the Lord.” It is never too soon to be wise: and they who seek the Lord in their youth, have peculiar encouragement from him to do so: “I love them that love me; and they that seek me early, shall find me [Note: ver. 17.].”]

2. To those who profess to have found it—

[Men will judge of religion, not by what the Bible says of it, but by what they see in those who profess it: and one instance of folly in the Lord’s people will do more to prejudice them against religion, than a thousand good actions to recommend it. I would therefore strongly urge those who profess godliness, to bear in mind how much the interests of religion depend on them. Real piety consists not in talkativeness or eccentricities of any kind, but in a devout regard to God’s honour and authority, and a wise, prudent, circumspect deportment before men. It does not countenance us in an officious assumption of the duties of others, but in a punctual performance of those which belong to our own place and station: “I, Wisdom, dwell with Prudence [Note: ver. 12.].” The not attending to this declaration has caused much offence in the world: and it becomes us to be very careful of casting stumbling-blocks before men, or “causing the way of truth to be evil spoken of.” Let us then “walk in wisdom towards them that are without;” “giving no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.” And while we adopt the resolution of David, “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way [Note: Psalms 101:2.],” let us remember by whose strength alone we can effect this; and pray with him, “O give me understanding in the way of godliness!”]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Proverbs 8:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/proverbs-8.html. 1832.

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