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SERMON XXVIII.

Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.—Ver. 27.

IN the former verses the man of God layeth forth his calamitous condition, and beggeth comfort and audience, not merely to prosper his affairs, but to better his heart. Many will invite God to favour their ways when they have no respect to his ways, which in effect is to make him a servant to their lusts. But David’s chiefest care was about duty rather than success; therefore he desireth God to direct him how to walk in the way of his precepts; his heart was much upon that.

In the close of the former verse he had said, ‘Teach me thy statutes;’ and here again, ‘Make me to understand the way of thy precepts,’ &c.

In the words there is—(1.) A request; (2.) An argument. Where in is intimated—(1st.) The fruit of divine illumination; he should thereby see his wondrous works. (2d.) His duty thereupon; then will I talk of them. The word signifieth also to meditate. Sept.—I will exercise myself. It should be his delight to think and speak of the admirable goodness of God, and the divine excellencies of his word, and the pleasures that result from the practice of it. (3d.) He intimateth the sincerity of his desire, propounding this as his end, That I may talk; that I may be useful and edifying in my converse with others.

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The first thing that I shall observe is, that David doth so often beg again and again for understanding.

Doct. That a sound and saving knowledge of the truths of the gospel is such a blessing as the children and people of God think they can never enough ask of him.

We have abundant proof of it in so much of this psalm as we have already gone over.

First, What is a sound saving knowledge?

1. Such as doth establish the heart against all delusions, and keepeth us on truth’s side. Many have some scraps of knowledge, loose and uncertain motions,1010   Qu. ‘notions’?—ED. but they are not settled and grounded in the truth, and therefore the unlearned and unstable are joined together: 2 Peter iii. 16, ‘Which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.’ Unskilful and unsettled Christians lie open to every fancy; they have not such a stock of truth as may keep them savoury and sound in the faith. To be able to prattle a little in religion is not sound knowledge, but we must be ‘grounded and settled in the faith,’ Col. i. 23; that is, have not only some floating opinion, but well-grounded persuasion of the truth, so as we know we are upon firm ground, and dare venture our souls upon it, and may build surely and safely upon such principles. He calleth it elsewhere, Col. ii. 2, ‘The riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.’ When men rest contented with obvious truths, or a slight knowledge of the common and easy principles of Christianity, there is not such an awe upon their practice, nor any establishment of their judgments, but, like light chaff, they are soon carried with the blasts of temptation, and the winds of error. And therefore we need to ask again and again, ‘Give me an understanding of the way of thy precepts.’

2. A sound saving knowledge is such as causeth the soul to lie under the dominion, life, and power of the truth, and aweth and commandeth the heart into obedience: John viii. 32, ‘Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free;’ when our knowledge freeth us from the slavery of sin. In others, that content themselves with a naked knowledge, truth is held captive, and cannot break out with any sovereignty in their conversations: Rom. i. 18, ‘Holding the truth in unrighteousness.’ Lust beareth sway, but truth lieth under fetters and restraint; it may talk its fill, like a man in bonds, but it can do nothing.

3. When it giveth us prudence how to practise. This is that which David beggeth of God, to understand the way of his precepts; that is, to be taught how to walk in each duty and point of conversation, after what sort he may live and direct his life. It is not sufficient to know the meaning of the word in general, to have a notional understanding of it; but to reduce it to practice, where, and when, and how we ought to perform each action. Some have a naked model of truth, are wise in generals, but fail in the application of the rule, and are to seek in the ordering of their steps, and all particular cases: 1 Peter iii. 7, ‘Husbands, dwell with your wives as men of knowledge.’ Then is a man a man of knowledge when he knoweth how to order the 257passages of his life in every relation according to the will of God. The narrow way of obedience is hardly found, hardly kept, and easily mistaken, especially where prejudices, lusts, and interests, are apt to pervert us. Therefore prudence to apply the rule is necessary: Ps. cxix. 33, ‘Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes, that I may keep it to the end;’ not only in the general points of faith and godliness, but that it may season all our actions, that we may be made partakers of the sweet refreshments that flow from it; such a knowledge as endeth in a taste: 1 Peter iii. 2, 3, ‘As new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby, if so be ye have tasted,’ &c. So Ps. xix. 8, ‘The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;’ when we do so approve and follow the Lord’s directions that we experience the sweetness, and are acquainted with the peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; such an understanding as begets judgment and feeling, or maketh us to find power and comfort in the word.

Secondly, The children of God think this can never be enough asked of God. Why?

1. Because of the excellency of knowledge: ‘Light is comfortable, and it is a pleasant thing to behold the sun,’ much more the light of the gospel shining in upon our minds. Oh, what a pleasant thing is that, when all clouds vanish, and the truths of God are fully cleared up to the soul! None knoweth the sweetness of it but he that hath experienced it: Prov. xxiv. 13, 14, ‘My son, eat thou honey because it is good, and the honeycomb which is sweet to thy taste; so shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul, when thou hast found it.’ The more perfect the operation of any faculty of the soul is, the greater the contentment. The conscience in the feeling of God’s love, the heart when it findeth liberty in the ways of God, and the understanding upon the sight of the truth, cause all doubts and scruples to vanish. Therefore certainly they that know anything of God will be pressing to know more of his nature and will; one degree draweth on another. Moses desireth God, ‘Tell me thy name,’ Exod. iii. 13, 14. Then ‘Show me thy glory,’ Exod. xxxiii. 18. ‘And he said, I beseech thee show me thy glory.’ And Hosea vi. 3, ‘Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.’ They are not cloyed, but desire more. The more men know the things of God, the more they admire them; the more they admire them, the more they love them; and the more they love them, the more they desire to know of them. And therefore do they insist so much upon this request, ‘Make me to understand the way of thy precepts.’

2. Because of the vastness and latitude of it. Knowledge is a growing thing; religion cannot be taken up all at once. We receive a little now, and a little anon; as narrow-mouthed vessels take in things drop by drop. We read of Jesus Christ, that he grew in knowledge: we do not read that he grew in grace: Luke ii. 52, ‘He increased in wisdom and stature;’ as his body increased in stature, so his soul in wisdom. And still Christians are growing in knowledge, and understand more of the mysteries of the gospel. Though speculative know ledge may be at a stand, and a man may see round about the compass of revealed truths, yet practical knowledge is never at a stand. Directive, affective, operative knowledge is never at a stand, but increaseth, 258daily. And therefore the apostle saith, ‘He that thinketh he knoweth anything, knoweth nothing as he ought to know,’ 1 Cor. viii. 2. Many think they know as much as can be taught them; surely they have no experience.

3. Natural blindness is an obstinate disease, and hardly cured; therefore again and again we had need to pray, Open mine eyes, teach me thy statutes, make me to understand the way of thy precepts. Our ignorance is great when it is cured in part. The clouds of temptation and carnal affection cause it to return upon us, so that we know not what we know. Therefore ‘open my eyes, cause me to understand.’ Yea, the more we know, the more is our ignorance discovered to us: Prov. xxx. 2, 3, ‘Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man: I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy;’ Job xlii. 5, ‘I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee.’ Alas! a poor little hearsay knowledge availeth not. They abhor themselves when they have more intimate acquaintance; none so confident as a young professor that knoweth a few truths, but in a weak and imperfect manner. The more we know indeed, the more sensible we are of our ignorance, how liable to this mistake and that, that we dare not trust ourselves for an hour.

4. Because of the profit that cometh by knowledge. All grace from first to last cometh in by the understanding. God in the work of grace followeth the order which he hath established in nature. Reason and judgment are to go before the will; and therefore, when the work of grace is first begun in us, it beginneth in the understanding: ‘Renewed in knowledge,’ Col. iii. 10. So the increase of grace: 2 Peter i. 12, ‘Grace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ our Lord.’ As the beginning is by light, so is all the gradual progress of the spiritual life; strength to bear afflictions, strength in conflicts, is by powerful reasons; yea, the perfect change that is made in us in glory is by the vision of God: ‘We shall see him as he is, and shall be like him.’ If we had more knowledge of God and his ways, we should trust him more, fear him more, love him more. Trust him, Ps. ix. 10, ‘And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee; for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.’ If God were more known he would be better trusted: 2 Tim. i. 12, ‘I know whom I have believed;’ I dare trust him with my soul. More feared: 3 John 11, ‘Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doth good is of God, he that doth evil hath not seen God.’ Eight thoughts of God would not let us sin so freely; one truth or other would fall upon us, and give check to the temptation: as feared, so loved more. The more explicit thoughts we have of his excellency, the more are our hearts drawn out to him: John iv. 10, ‘If thou knewest the gift,’ &c. Christ would not lie by as a neglected thing if he were more known in all his worth and excellency.

Use. The first use is to press you to get knowledge, and look upon it as a singular grace if the Lord will give you to understand and apply the comfort and direction of his holy word: John xv. 15, ‘Hence forth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard 259of my Father I have made known unto you.’ To be taught the mind of God is a greater act of friendship than if God should give a man all the treasures of the world; to make himself known so as you may love him, fear him, trust him. When we can apply this for our comfort, oh! then, ‘cry for knowledge, lift up thy voice for understanding; seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures,’ Prov. ii. 3, 4. Go to God, and be earnest with him, ‘Lord, make me to understand the way of thy precepts.’ We can walk in the ways of sin without a teacher, but we cannot walk in the ways of God. And cry, lift up thy voice. We are earnest for quickening and enlargement; but be earnest also for understanding. Now a large prayer without endeavours is nothing worth. Dig in the mines of knowledge, search into the scripture, do not gather up a few scattered notions, but look into the bowels. Silver doth not lie on the surface of the earth, but deep in the bottom of it, and will cost much labour and digging to come at. If we would have any good stock of knowledge, which will prevent vain thoughts, carnal discourse, abundance of heart-perplexing scruples and doubts, and much darkness and uncomfortableness of spirit, it will cost us some labour and pains. The more knowledge we have, the more are we established against error: 2 Peter iii. 17, ‘Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.’ The more you have of this divine saving knowledge, the greater check upon sin: Ps. cxix. 11, ‘I have hid thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.’ One truth or another will rise up in defiance of the temptation. The greater the impulsion to duty, the more of the law of God, the more it urgeth the conscience, Prov. vi. 22. It maketh us more useful in all our relations:—Husbands, 1 Peter iii. 7, ‘Dwell with them according to knowledge,’ &c. Parents, Eph. vi. 4, ‘Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.’ Friends, Rom. xv. 14, ‘And I myself also am persuaded of you my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.’ Magistrates, that they may discern Christ’s interest, Ps. ii. 10, ‘Be wise now, therefore, kings, be instructed, ye judges of the earth.’ When Solomon asked wisdom, the thing pleased the Lord. And lastly, more comfortable in ourselves; that they may comfort and build up one another whenever they meet together.

Use 2. To press you to grow in knowledge. None have such confidence and rejoicing in God as those that have a clear sight and understanding of his will revealed in his word. Let your knowledge—(1.) Be more comprehensive. At first our thoughts run in a narrow channel. There are certain general truths absolutely necessary to salvation, as concerning our misery by sin, and the sufficiency of Christ to help us; but if we might rest in these, why hath God given us so copious a rule? The general sort of Christians content themselves to see with others’ eyes, get the knowledge of a few truths, and look no further. Why, then, hath God given so large a rule? Fundamentals are few; believe them, live well, and you shall be saved. This is the religion of most. This is as if a man in building should only be careful to lay a good foundation, no matter for roof, windows, walls. If a 260man should untile your house, and tell you the foundation standeth, the main buttresses are safe, you would not like of it. A man is bound, according to his capacity and opportunity, to know all scripture, the consequences of every truth. God may and doth accept of our imperfect knowledge, but not when men are negligent and do not use the means. To be willingly ignorant of the lesser ways of God is a sin. We should labour to know all that God hath revealed. (2.) More distinct. Why? Truths are best known in their frame and dependence; as God’s works of creation, when viewed singly and apart, every day’s work was good, but when viewed altogether in their correspondence and mutual proportion to each other, were very good, Gen. i. 31. So all truths of God, take them singly, are good; but when you have them in their frame, and see how one suits with the other, and what a sweet harmony there is between all the parts of religion, then they are very good. (3.) More experimental, that you may taste the sweetness and power of the truths that you know: Phil. iii. 10, ‘That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.’ When we feel what we know, that is a mighty confirmation. The senses give the best demonstration. It is a disparagement to know Christ and be never the better for him; to have a knowledge of all the excellency of Christ, and how suitable he is to the soul; yet to feel nothing of comfort and quickening in our consciences. (4.) More practical: 1 John ii. 3, 4, ‘And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments: he that saith I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.’ Otherwise it is but a talking by rote, a man savingly knoweth no more than he practiseth. He that doth but speak after others, it is a rehearsal rather than a knowledge. What is practical light? It is directive and persuasive. (1st.) It is directive. A man grows more prudent, and more able to guide his course according to the rules of religion; faith is op posed not only to ignorance but to folly: ‘ye fools, and slow of heart to believe.’ A man may be a knowing man, yet a very fool in spirituals, if he hath not a knowledge how to guide him to trust in God, fear God, love God, and serve God, Hosea xiv. 7. (2d.) That is practical knowledge when it is persuasive, when it hath a lively force and efficacy upon the heart.

Second point, Those whom God maketh to understand the way of his precepts see wondrous things therein.

Ps. cxix. 18. ‘Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.’ Wonders are such things as do transcend our capacity; so all things about God are above the sphere of men, as the things of men are above the capacity of beasts. Now, the more understanding and insight we have in these things the more we wonder. Wonder usually is the fruit of ignorance; how then can knowledge breed wonder? The word discovers the ὅτι, that it is so; but the manner how it is, and the wisdom of the contrivance, is that which begets reverence and admiration in a gracious soul; as Nazianzen saith of the eternal generation of Christ, Let the eternal generation of God be adored in silence. It is a marvellous thing to know that there are three in one, the Son from eternity, begotten before all the world, 261&c. So when we look into these things, our knowledge doth only show that they are; but what they are, and how great they are, that exceeds our capacity, and therefore we wonder.

1. The doctrines of the scripture are wonderful concerning God and his works. The nature of God is a depth which we cannot fathom, no more than a nutshell can empty the ocean: Ps. cxxxix. 6, ‘Such knowledge is too wonderful for me: it is high, I cannot attain unto it.’ It is above our capacity; for a finite thing cannot comprehend an infinite.

The creation of all things out of nothing, we believe it upon the testimony of the word, but it is too wonderful for us to search it to the bottom; yea, the framing of the body in the womb, so many different things out of the same seed, as flesh, and bones, and muscles, and in such an order and proportion: Ps. cxxxix. 14, ‘I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.’ If the commonness did not abate our observation, we would wonder at it. So his providence in governing every creature to their proper ends, especially his care over us, and conduct of us. ‘Many, O Lord, are thy wondrous works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to usward. They cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered,’ Ps. xl. 5. But especially the redemption of mankind is wonderful: 1 Tim. iii. 16, ‘And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.’ The mysteries of the gospel, every time we think of them, should strike admiration into our hearts. It could not sink into the head of any creature how to satisfy justice, and to make up the breach between God and us. That a virgin should conceive; the word be made flesh; that justice and mercy should so sweetly be brought together, and conspire in the salvation of a lost sinner, all these are wonders; and when we come to believe them indeed, to draw forth comfort from them, these are wonderful to us!

The law of God is wonderful. Look to the precept or the sanction. Look to the precept. A wonderful purity there: ‘I have seen an end of all perfection; but thy law is exceeding broad,’ ver. 96 of this psalm. When a child of God sees how the law reacheth every thought, every motion, every operation of his soul, what wonderful purity is here! So a marvellous equity: ‘The law is holy, just, and good;’ and ‘the commandment is good.’ Rom. vii. 4. God hath given us such a law, if a man were free, yet, to ennoble his nature and live happily, he would choose such a rule. Then to see such wise precepts so ordered that in ten words God should comprise the whole duty of man: Deut. iv. 6, ‘Keep, therefore, and do them; for this is your wisdom, and your understanding in the sight of the nations.’ First, God hath provided in his law respects to himself. First the law provides for God, then for the creature. In the first commandment, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me;’ there is the object of worship. In the second, ‘Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven image,’ &c., the means of worship. Then the manner of worship in the third, ‘Thou shalt not take the name of God in vain.’ Then the 262time of worship in the fourth, ‘Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.’ See how the Lord hath built up his law. Then as to men, see first God provides for those viceroys that do represent the great God, as our parents natural and civil, ‘Honour thy father and thy mother,’ &c.; then our ordinary neighbour; and there first for his life, and then for his relations, ‘Thou shalt not kill, shalt not commit adultery;’ then for his goods, ‘Thou shalt not steal;’ then for his good name. When a man sees the law of God in all its explications, when he considers the harmony and correspondence that is between all the parts of the law, then he will cry out, O wonderful! Come to the sanction by which the law is established and confirmed, by promises and rewards, such a ‘far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;’ that a clod of earth should shine above the stars, and God provide such a happiness for us that we should be like the angels! Then threatenings, that God hath appointed such a punishment to hold the world in awe, as ‘a worm that never dies, and the fire that never goes out;’ the worm of conscience that shall vex us with the remembrance of our past folly, and the wrath of God that shall punish us for disobedience, and torment us for evermore. Still, O wonderful! So for the gospel, every article of faith is a mystery to be wondered at—Quot articuli, tot miracula. The disciples wondered when they saw the structure of the temple. Oh, how may we wonder when we see the spiritual temple, that is Jesus Christ in the fulness of his godhead! God dwelt symbolically by outward representations in the temple, but here he dwells bodily. When David had provided such a mass of money, 1 Chron. xxix. 7-9, they fell a wondering. Oh, but when the soul comes to view the unsearchable riches of grace in Christ Jesus, then it may cry out, wonderful! When we see some rare plot, all things suit harmoniously, we cry out, wonderful! This great mystery of godliness, the more we look into it, the more will we wonder at the wisdom of God discovered in and through Christ Jesus. For external providences, to see how God answers prayers, how he brings about our mercies according to our wants in a way we know not: Ps. xvii. 7, ‘Show thy marvellous loving-kindness, thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee.’ In the very common favours that God vouchsafeth to us, there is something may be observed that may make us wonder, either for the time, manner, or measure. Also, in the internal effects of his grace upon the heart, when a man is convinced, and his own heart is ripped up to him by the power of the word, 1 Cor. xv. 25; Heb. iv. 12; and John iv. 29. As when Christ had convinced the woman of Samaria, and ripped up her life, she says, ‘Come, see a man that hath told me all that ever 1 did.’ When God comes in with such convictive evidence, and rips up our privy thoughts, wonderful. But especially in changing and renewing the heart; when a lion shall be turned into a lamb, a dunghill become a bed of spices, a swine become a saint, a persecutor an apostle, we, that had such bolts and restraints of sin upon us, when we get out; when we that were so wedded to sensual delights and worldly vanities are brought to delight in God, this is truly admirable! 2 Peter i. 9, ‘He hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.’ And then the comfort we have by the word of God, and the marvellous 263sweetness the practice of it diffuseth through the soul, it is unspeakable and glorious, 1 Peter i. 8. So Phil. iv. 7, ‘The peace of God that passes understanding shall guard your hearts,’ &c. When a man hath settling and composure of spirit in the midst of tempests and storms, the heart is guarded against all fears and sorrows. When we consider what God hath done for our souls, every grace is a wonder: to depend upon what we see not; to be safe in the midst of a storm; to die, yet live; to be poor, yet make many rich; to have nothing, yet possess all things; these operations of grace are all wonders.

Use 1. It informeth us that a man must be carried above his own sense, reason, and light, to understand such wonderful things. It is the apostle’s argument: 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.’ All things are seen by a suitable light, spiritual things are spiritually discerned, divine things by a divine light—Non loquendum de Deo sine lumine. If beasts would judge of human affairs, they must have the reason of men; if men of divine things, they must have divine illumination. There is a cognation between the faculty and the object.

2. It informeth us what reason we have to respect the word of God. Many curious wits despise it as a mean knowledge in comparison of Aristotle, Plato, &c. All the doctrines of it are a continued mystery; there is nothing vulgar and of small moment there. If there be some rudiments, something common with other writings, there are greater things than these, even the deep things of God. Never was there such a revelation made to the world as this. You despise that which angels wonder at: Eph. iii. 10, ‘And to make all men see what is the fellow ship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things in Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.’ And 1 Peter i. 12, ‘Which things the angels desire to look into.’ David saith, ‘Thy testimonies are wonderful, therefore doth my soul keep them.’ Oh, let this book of God be more dear to us! Oh, what trifles are all worldly riches to the unsearchable riches of the Lord’s grace! Oh, how stupid are they that are not taken with such great things as these!

3. Examine your profiting. It is one degree of profit to see so much in the word of God as to admire at it. Admire God’s transcendent goodness in the pardon of sins. God giveth us such admirable precepts, assisting us in the performance of them, accepting our imperfect obedience; this giveth wonderful comfort in all our afflictions.

Thirdly, Observe, he that is sensible of the wondrous things that are in God’s word will be talking of them.

1. It will be so.

2. It should be so.

1. It will be so. When the heart is deeply affected, the tongue cannot hold, but will run out in expressions of it; for ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ When cheered and revived in their afflictions, they are transported with the thought, with the excellency of God: Ps. lxvi. 15, ‘Come, and I will tell you what God 264hath done for my soul.’ The woman, when she had found the lost groat, calleth her neighbours to rejoice with her. He that hath but a cold knowledge, will not be so full of good discourse.

2. It should be so, in a threefold respect—for the honour of God, the edification of others, and for our own profit.

[1.] For the honour of God, to whom we are so much indebted, to bring him into request with those about us. Experience deserveth praise; when you have found the Messiah, call one another to him: John i. 41-45, ‘Andrew calleth Peter, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias; and Philip calleth Nathanael and saith unto him, We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph.’

[2.] For the edification of others: Luke xxii. 32, ‘And thou being converted, strengthen thy brethren.’ True grace is communicative as fire, &c.

[3.] For our own profit. He that useth his knowledge shall have more; whereas, on the contrary, full breasts, if not sucked, become dry. In the dividing, the loaves increased. All gifts, but much more spiritual, which are the best, are improved by exercise.

Well, then, get a sense and experience of God’s truth, and then speak of it to others. That which we have seen we are best able to report of. God giveth us experiences to this end, that we may be able to speak of it to others. None can speak with such confidence as those that have felt what they speak. Christ saith those that come to him shall not only have a spring of comfort themselves, but flow forth to others: John vii. 38, ‘He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’

Fourth point, In our desires of knowledge it is meet to propound a good end; as David here beggeth understanding, that he might see and discover to others what he had found in God’s law. To know that we may know is foolish curiosity; to know that we may be known is vanity and ostentation; to see that we may sell our knowledge is baseness and covetousness. To edify others, this is charity; to be edified ourselves, this is wisdom. Good things must be sought to a good end: ‘Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, to consume it upon your lusts,’ James iv. 3. All things must be sought for to holy ends, to glorify God; much more spiritual gifts. The only good end is God’s glory: ‘Open thou my lips, that I may show forth thy praise,’ Ps. li. 15. We are to desire knowledge, that we may the more enjoy God, and the more glorify him.

There is a natural desire of knowledge, even of divine knowledge; but we must look to our ends, that we may grow in grace, 1 Peter ii. 3; that we may be more useful for God; not merely to store the head with notions, or to vaunt it over others, as having attained more than they. No; it should be only to do good to our own souls, and to save others: Rom. xv. 14, ‘I am persuaded that ye are filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another.’ But now, to make a market of our knowledge, or to use it for our vile ends, that is naught. Not for boasting, ostentation, curiosity, and vain speculation, but for practice, should be our end. When we improve our stock well, we please God, and shall have eternal profit ourselves.

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