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Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.—Ver. 66.
THE man of God had acknowledged that God had done good for him; now he beggeth the continuance of his goodness. God, that hath showed mercy, will show mercy. His treasure is not spent by giving, nor hath he the less for communicating to the creature. Man will say, I have given you already, why do you trouble me any more? But God upbraideth no man; the more frequent our suits are for grace, the more welcome we are: ‘Thou hast done good for thy servant:’ and now again, ‘Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
In the words observe—
1. The blessing asked, Teach me good judgment and knowledge.
2. The reason urged, for I have believed thy commandments.
I begin with the prayer or blessing asked, ‘Teach me good judgment and knowledge.’ Let us consider a little the different translations of this clause. The Septuagint hath three words χρηστότητα, παιδεῖαν, καὶ γνῶσιν, goodness, discipline, and knowledge; others, bonitatem gustus et scientiae doce me, teach me goodness of taste and knowledge; Ainsworth, Vatablus, bonitatem sensus, learn me goodness of reason and knowledge. In the original Hebrew טוב טעם, the Hebrew word signifieth taste or savour, so it is translated Ps. xxxiv. 8, ‘Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.’ The word also signifieth behaviour, as Ps. xxxiv. title, ‘A Psalm of David when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech.’ For a man is tasted by his carriage, and some think it may mean goodness of inclination or manners. I think we fitly translate it judgment, it being coupled with a word that signifieth knowledge—taste, by a metaphor from the bodily sense, being applied to the mind; as meats are discerned by the taste, so things by the judgment; and so that which David beggeth here is a good or exact judgment, or the faculty of judging well.
Doct. That a judicious sound mind is a great blessing, and should earnestly be sought of God by all that would please him.
The man of God renewing this request so often, and his calling it here good judgment and knowledge, will warrant this observation, and sufficiently showeth how good it is to have the mind illuminated and endowed with the true knowledge of things. In handling this point, I shall show—
1. What is the use of a sound mind.
2. Why this should be so often and earnestly asked.
First, What is the use of a sound mind? There is a threefold act of judgment:—
1. To distinguish.
2. To determine.
3. To direct and order.
1. To distinguish and judge rightly of things that differ, that we may not mistake error for truth, and evil for good. So the apostle 204maketh it the great work of judgment to discern between good and evil: Heb. v. 14, ‘But strong meat belongeth to those that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and bad.’ The things that are to be judged are true and false, right and wrong, necessary or indifferent, expedient or inexpedient, fit or unfit; for many things are lawful that are not expedient: 1 Cor. vi. 12, ‘All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient,’ as to time, place, persons. Well, then, judgment is a spirit of discerning truth from falsehood, good from evil, that we may approve what is good, and disallow the contrary. So the spiritual man judgeth all things, 1 Cor. ii. 15; that is, though he hath not an authoritative judgment, he hath a judgment of discretion; and if he did stir up this gift of discerning, he might more easily understand his duty, and how far he is concerned in point of conscience and in order to salvation. So 1 Cor. x. 15, ‘I speak as to wise men, judge ye what I say.’ The spiritually wise, if they would awaken the gifts of grace received in regeneration by diligence and prayer and needfulness of soul, might sooner come to a resolution of their doubts than they usually do. As bodily taste doth discern things savoury from unsavoury, profitable from noxious, so is judgment given us that we may distinguish between the poisons which the world offereth in a golden cup to impure souls, and that wholesome spiritual milk which we suck out of the breasts of scripture, between savoury food and hurtful diet, how neatly soever cooked. The soul’s taste is more necessary than the body’s, as the soul is the better part, and as our danger is greater, and errors there cost us dearer.
2. To determine and resolve, practicum dictamen. The taste of the soul is for God, that bindeth our duty upon us, when there is a decree issued forth in the soul, that after we know our duty there may be a resolvedness of mind never to swerve from it. First the distinguishing work proceedeth; there is a clear and distinct approbation of God; then the determining followeth; this is the πρόθεσις καρδίας, Acts xi. 23, ‘The purpose of heart;’ 2 Tim. iii. 10, ‘Thou hast known fully my doctrine, manner of life,’ πρόθεσιν, purpose. The form of this decree and resolution you have in Ps. lxxiii. 28, ‘But it is good for me to draw near to God.’ This in the soul hath the authority of a principle. He that meaneth to be a thorough Christian must set the bent and bias and purpose of his heart strongly upon it: Ps. xxxix. 1, ‘I said, I will take heed to my ways.’ So Ps. xxxii. 5, ‘I said, I will confess mine iniquities.’ These purposes have a powerful command upon the whole soul, to set it a-working whatever they purpose with this strong decree, how backward soever the heart be otherwise; they will excite and quicken us, and admit of no contradiction. It is our judgments lead us and guide and poise us. A man may have knowledge and learning, and play the fool if his judgment be not biassed: a man never taketh any course but his judgment telleth him it is best, and best for him all things considered. It is not men’s knowledge leadeth them, but their judgments say to their wills, This is not for me; the other conduceth most to my profit, honour, or delight: but when the judgment is in some measure set towards God, then the man is for God.205
3. To direct as well as to decree; so good judgment and knowledge serveth for the right guiding of ourselves and all our affairs. Many are wise in generals that err in particulars, and have a knowledge of principles, but their affairs are under no conduct. Particulars are nearer to practice, and very learned men are deceived in particulars: Rom. ii. 20-22, ‘An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law: thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?’ Therefore, besides the general rule, the knowledge of God’s will, it is necessary to have the gift of discretion, when particulars are clothed with circumstances. There is an infinite variety of circumstances which require a deal of prudence to determine them. A man may easily discourse on general truths concerning God, ourselves, the state of the church, the privileges of Christianity; but to direct them to particular cases, to govern our own hearts, and order our own ways, that is a harder thing: Hosea xiv. 9, ‘Whoso is wise and prudent,’ &c.; Prov. viii. 12, ‘I, wisdom, dwell with prudence.’ To direct is harder than to determine or distinguish. It is easier to distinguish of good and evil in the general, to lay down conclusions upon the evidence of the goodness of the ways of God; but to reduce our knowledge to practice in all cases, that is the great work of judgment, that we may know what becometh the time, the place, the company where we are, and may have that ordering of our conversation aright, Ps. l. 23; to know how to carry ourselves in all relations, business, civil, sacred, light, serious; that we neither offend in excess nor defect; that we judge what is due to the Creator, and what is to be allowed to the creature; what is good, what is better, what is best of all; that we know how to pay reverence to superiors, how most profitably to converse with equals, what compassion to inferiors, how to do good to them; how to behave our selves as husbands, wives, fathers, children. Wisdom maketh us profitable in our relations: 1 Peter iii. 7, ‘Let husbands dwell with wives according to knowledge.’ There is much prudence and wisdom required to know how to converse profitably and Christianly with all that we have to do with. In short, how to love our friends in God, and our enemies for God; how to converse secretly with God, and to walk openly before men; how to cherish the flesh that it may not be unserviceable, yet how to mortify it that it may not wax wanton against the spirit; how to do all things in the fear of God, in meats, drinks, apparel, recreations; when and how to pray, what time for our callings, what for worship; when to speak, when to hold our peace; when to praise, and when to reprove; how to give, and how to take; when to scatter, when to keep back or withhold; and to order all things aright requireth a sound judgment, that we carry ourselves with that gravity and seriousness, that exactness and tenderness, that we may keep up the majesty of religion, and all the world may know that he is wise by whose counsel we are guided. But alas! where this sound judgment an4 discretion is wanting, we shall soon offend and transgress the laws of piety, charity, justice, sobriety. Piety and godliness 206will not be orderly; we shall either be guilty of a profane neglect of that course of duty that is necessary to keep in the life of grace, or turn religion into a sour superstition and rigorous course of observances. Charity will not be orderly; we shall give to wastefulness, or withhold more than is meet, to the scandal or prejudice of the world towards religion. Not perform justice; we shall govern to God’s dishonour, obey to his wrong, punish with too much severity, or forbear with too much lenity; our reproofs will be reproaches, our praises flattery. Sobriety will not be orderly; we shall deny ourselves our necessary comforts, or use them as an occasion to the flesh; either afflict the body and make ourselves unserviceable, or wrong the soul and burden and oppress it with vain delights. It short, even the higher acts of religion will degenerate; our fear will be turned into desperation, or our hope into presumption; our faith will be a light credulity, or our search after truth will turn into a flat scepticism or irresolution; our patience will be stupidness, or our constancy obstinacy; we shall either slight the hand of God, or faint under it; so that there is need of good judgment and knowledge to guide us in all our ways.
Secondly, Why this is so earnestly to be sought of God. The thing is evident from what is said already. But further—
1. Because this is a great defect in most Christians, who have many times good affections, but no prudence to guide and order them; they are indeed all affection, but no judgment; have a zeal, but without knowledge, Rom. x. 3. Zeal should be like fire, which is not only fervidus, but lucidus, hot, but bright. A blind horse may be full of mettle, but he is ever and anon stumbling. Oh! then, should we not earnestly seek of God good knowledge and judgment? The Spirit of God knoweth what is best for us. In the scriptures he hath indited prayers: Phil. i. 9, ‘This I pray, that your love may abound more and more, in knowledge, and in all judgment;’ that our love and zeal should have a proportionable measure of knowledge and judgment going along with it; and Col. i. 9, ‘That ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;’ and again, Col. iii. 16, ‘Let the word of God dwell in you richly in all wisdom.’ These places show that it is not enough to have warm affections, but we must have a clear and a sound mind.
2. The mischief which ariseth from this defect is so great to themselves, to others, and the church of God.
[1.] To themselves.
(1.) Without the distinguishing or discerning act of judgment, how apt are we to be misled and deceived! They that cannot distinguish meats will soon eat what is unwholesome; so, if we have not a judgment to approve things that are excellent, and disapprove the contrary, our fancies will deceive us, for they are taken with every slight appearance; as Eve was deceived by the fruit because it was fair to see to, Gen. iii. 6, with 2 Cor. xi. 3, ‘For I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.’ Our affections will deceive us, for they judge by interest and profit, not duty and conscience. The affections are easily bribed by those bastard goods of pleasure, honour, and profit: 2 Cor. iv. 4, ‘In whom the god of this 207world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.’ The consent of the world will deceive us, for they may conspire in error and, rebellion against God, and are usually the opposite party against God: Rom. xii. 2, ‘And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds.’ Good men may deceive us; true and faithful ministers may err both in doctrine and manners, as the old prophet seduced the young one to his own destruction: 1 Kings xiii. 18, ‘He paid unto him, I am a prophet also, and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thy house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him.’ In what a woful plight, then, are Christians if they have not a judgment, and a test to taste44 Qu. ‘a taste to test’?—ED. doctrines and try things, as the mouth tasteth meats! How easily shall we take good for evil and evil for good, condemning that which God approveth, and approving that which God condemneth!
(2.) Without the determining act of judgment, how fickle and irresolute shall we be, either in the profession or in the practice of godliness. Many men’s religion lasts but for a pang; it cometh upon them now and then, it is not their constant frame and constitution. For want of this purpose and resolute peremptory decree for the profession of godliness, there is an uncertainty, levity, and wavering in religion: men take up opinions lightly, and leave them as lightly again. Light chaff is carried about with every wind: Eph. iv. 14, ‘That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.’ If we receive the truth upon the credit of men, we may be led off again, and we shall be ready to stagger when persecution cometh, especially if we see those men from whom we have learned the truth fall away; if we have not ἴδιον στήριγμον, a steadfastness of our own: 2 Peter iii. 17, ‘Beware lest ye also, being led away by the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.’ Men should have a steadfastness proper to themselves, not stand by the steadfastness of another, the examples of others, the countenance or applause of the world, or the opinion of good men; but convincing reason, by which their minds may be enlightened, and their judgments set for God. So for practice; we are off and on, unstable in all our ways, Why? Because we content ourselves with some good motions before we have brought our hearts to this conclusion, to choose God for our portion, and to cleave to him. All in haste they will be religious, but sudden imperfect motions may be easily laid aside, and given over by contrary persuasions; but when our hearts are fixed upon these holy purposes, then all contrary solicitations and oppositions will not break us or divert us. Satan hath small hopes to seduce or mislead a resolved Christian; loose and unengaged men lie open to him, and are ready to be entertained and employed by any new master.
(3.) Without the directing act of judgment, how easily shall we miscarry, and make religion a burden to ourselves, or else a scorn to the world! Want of judgment causeth different effects, not only in divers, but in the same person: sometimes a superstitious scrupulousness, at other times a profane negligence; sometimes making conscience 208of all things, then of nothing: as the one weareth off, the other succeedeth: as the devil cast the lunatic in the Gospel sometimes into the water, sometimes into the fire; either fearful of sin in everything they do, or bold to run into all sin without fear; whereas a truth judiciously understood would prevent either extreme. So again for want of judgment; sometimes men are transported by a fiery and indiscreet zeal, at other times settle into a cold indifferency, and all things come alike to them. The way to prevent both is to resolve upon evidence: 1 Thes. v. 21, ‘Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.’ Certainly the clearer our judgment is the more steadfast is our faith, the more vehement our love, the more sound our joy, the more constant our hope, the more calm our patience, the more earnest our pursuit of true happiness; otherwise we shall never carry it evenly between vain presumption and feigned reverence, between legal fear and rash hopes, uncomely dejections and a loose disregard of God. Wisdom is the faculty by which we apply that knowledge we have unto the end why we should have it.
[2.] It makes us troublesome to others, by preposterous carriage, rash censuring, needless intermeddling: Phil. i. 9, 10, ‘And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent, that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ:’ our corruptions will otherwise break forth to the offence of others. An injudicious Christian increaseth the reproaches of the world, as if the servants of God were the troublers of Israel, by unseasonable reproofs, mistiming of duties, meddling with that which no ways appertaineth to him. All lawful things are not fit at all times, nor in all places, nor to be done by all persons. Much folly, indiscretion and rashness remaineth in the best, whereby they dishonour God, and bring religion into contempt.
[3.] They trouble the church of God; it hath suffered not only from the persecutions of enemies, but from the folly, rashness, and indiscretion of its friends. There are different degrees of light, some babes, some young men, some grown persons in Christ Jesus: 1 John ii. 13, ‘I write unto you fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning; I write unto you young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one; I write unto you little children, because ye have known the Father.’ Now, children have their fancies, and young men their passions, and old men their humours. When the one would prescribe to the other, they hurry all things into confusion: the injudicious generally seek to carry it, and would govern the world. In young ones, there are great affections but little knowledge and judgment; they have a great zeal, but little prudence to moderate it; and when this is joined with perverseness and contumacy, it is not easy to be said how much evil it bringeth to the church of God; as a fiery horse routeth the troop, and bringeth disorder into the army. The devil loveth to draw things into extremes, to set gift against gift, prudence against zeal, the youth of Christianity against age, and so to confound all things, and so to subvert the kingdom of Christ by that comely vanity which is the beauty of it. In the general, all overdoing in religion is undoing.209
Use. The use is, let all this press us to seek this benefit of good judgment and knowledge. To this end—
1. Consider the value and necessity of it. Without it we cannot regularly comfort ourselves in the promises, but it will breed a carelessness and neglect of our duty; nor fulfil the commandments of God, but it will breed in us a self-confidence and disvaluing of the grace of God; nor reflect upon our sins, but we shall be swallowed up of immoderate sorrow; nor suffer for the truth, but we shall run into indiscreet reasoning and oppositions that will trouble all, and, it may be, subvert the interest of religion in the world; or else grow into a loose uncertainty, leaping from one opinion to another. This uncertainty cometh not so much, or not altogether, from vile affection, as want of information in religion, professing without light and evidence, having more of affection than principles. There is a twofold injudiciousness—total or partial. (1.) Total, when men are given up εἰς νοῦν ἀδόκιμον, into a reprobate sense, or an injudicious mind, Rom. i. 28: when utterly incapable of heavenly doctrine, or discerning the things of the Spirit. This is one of God’s heaviest judgments. That is not the case of any of you, I hope. (2.) Partial, and that is in us all. Alas! we are ignorant of many things which we should know; at least, we have not that discretion and prudence which is necessary for directing our faith, tempering our zeal, ordering and regulating our practice, which is necessary to avoid evil, to do good, or to do good well. Or, if we have light, we have no sense or taste. Many never felt the bitterness of sin to purpose, of sweetness of righteousness; therefore we have need to cry to God, Lord, give me good taste and knowledge.
2. If you would have it, you must ask it of God. We can have no sound knowledge till God teach it us. By nature we are all blind, ignorant, vain; after grace received, though our ignorance be helped, it is not altogether cured; you must still fetch it from heaven by strong hand. Without his Spirit we cannot discern spiritual things: 1 Cor. ii. 14, ‘The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned;’ that is, chiefly, the main things of the gospel, and universally all things, so far as conscience and obedience to God is concerned in them. It is the unction must teach us all things: 1 John ii. 20, ‘But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things;’ the things of God must be seen in the light of his own Spirit. The Spirit of God first giveth us the desire of these things, and then satisfieth us with them. It is the Spirit of God purifieth this desire, that it may be holy, as having a holy end, that we may avoid whatever is displeasing to God, and do whatever is pleasing in his sight; and that is the ready way to come to knowledge and sound judgment: John xvii. 17, ‘Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth;’ John iii. 21, ‘He that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.’ Men that have a mind to maintain an opinion, or suffer an evil practice, are prejudiced and biassed by the idol that is in their hearts, and so do not see what may be seen, and what they seem to search after. Therefore David urgeth this as an argument 210in the latter end of the text, ‘I have believed thy commandments;’ that is to say, Lord, I know this word is thine, and I am willing to practise all that thou requirest. The great thing that is to be aimed at about knowledge is, not only that we may know, and be able to jangle about questions, or that we may be known and esteemed for our knowledge, but that we may practise and walk circumspectly, and in evil days and times know what the will of the Lord is concerning us; to desire knowledge as those that know the weight and consequence of these things, as I shall show more fully hereafter. Those that would have good judgment and knowledge must be willing to understand their duty, and practise all that God requireth, that they may neither do things rashly, and without knowledge and deliberation, for then they are not good, how good soever they be in themselves: Prov. xix. 2, ‘Also, that the soul be without knowledge is not good:’ or doubtingly, after deliberation; for he that doubteth is in part condemned in his own mind: Rom. xiv. 23, ‘And he that doubteth is damned if he eat.’ We must have a clear warrant from God, or else all is naught, and will tend to evil. Then it is the Spirit of God satisfieth these desires, when we earnestly desire of him to be informed in the true and perfect way: John vi. 45, ‘They shall be all taught of God.’ He hath suited promises to the pure and earnest desire of knowledge. Then it is the Lord who sendeth means and blesseth means; as he sent Peter to Cornelius, Acts x., and Philip to the eunuch, Acts viii. All is at his disposal, and he will not fail the waiting soul; he hath made Christ to be wisdom for this very end and purpose, that he might guide us continually: 1 Cor. i. 30, ‘But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption.’
3. You must seek it in the word; that maketh us wise to salvation, and by the continual study of it we obtain wisdom and discretion; there we have the best and safest counsel: ‘It maketh wise the simple,’ Ps. xix. 7. No case can be put, so far as it concerneth conscience, but there you shall have satisfaction: Col. iii. 16, ‘Let the word of God dwell in you richly in all wisdom.’ You must not content yourselves with a cursory reading, but mark the end and scope of it, that you may be made completely wise, by frequent reading, hearing, meditation upon it, and conferring about it. There you find all things necessary to be believed and practised, therefore you must hear it with application, read it with meditation. (1.) Hear it with application. The Lord blesseth us in the use of instituted means; both light and flame are kept in by the breath of preaching. Where visions fail, the people perish, men grow brutish and wild. It is a dispute which is the sense of learning, the ear or the eye. By the eye we see things, but by reason of innate ignorance we must be taught how to judge of them: James i. 19, ‘Wherefore, my brethren, let every man be swift to hear;’ take all occasions. And we must still apply what we hear. Nunquid ego talis? Rom. viii. 31, ‘What shall we then say to these things?’ Job v. 27, ‘Lo, this we have searched, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good;’ Heb. ii. 3, ‘How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?’ Return upon thine own heart. (2.) Reading scripture is every man’s work who hath a soul 211to be saved. Other writings, though good in their kind, will not leave such a lively impression upon the soul. All the moral sentences of Seneca and Plutarch do not come with such force upon the conscience as one saying of God’s word. God’s language hath a special energy; here must be your study and your delight: Ps. i. 2, ‘His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night;’ 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17, ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.’ These make you wise unto salvation. Your taste is not right when you relish and savour human writings, though never so good, more than the word of God. A draught of wine from the vessel is more fresh and lively; that conviction which doth immediately rise out of the word is more prevailing. We suspect the mixture of passion and private aims in the writings of others; but when conscience and the word are working together, we own it as coming from God himself. Besides, those that are studying, and reading, and meditating on the word have this sensible advantage, that they have promises, doctrines, examples of the word ready and familiar upon all occasions; others are weak and unsettled because they have not scriptures ready. In the whole work of grace you will find no weapon so effectual as the sword of the Spirit. Scriptures seasonably remembered and urged are a great relief to the soul. No diligence here can be too much. If you would not be unprofitable, sapless, indiscreet with others, weak and comfortless in yourselves, read the scriptures. We have Sic scriptum est against every temptation. Besides, you have the advantage to see with your own eyes the truth as it cometh immediately from God, before any art of man, or thoughts of their head pass upon it, and so can the better own God in what you find.
4. Long use and exercise doth much increase judgment, especially as it is sanctified by the Spirit of God. You get a habit of discerning, fixing, directing, guiding your ways: διὰ τὴν ἕξιν τὰ αἰσθητήρια γεγυμνασμένα ἐχόντες, Heb. v. 14, ‘Who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.’ As men of full age, by long use and exercise of the senses of seeing, smelling, tasting, have acquired a more perfect knowledge to discern what food is good and wholesome and what is unwholesome, so by much attention, studying, and meditation, men who have exercised the intellectual faculty to find out the scope and meaning of the word of God do attain a more discerning faculty, and understand better the truth of the word, and can judge what doctrine is true and what false, and more easily apprehend higher points when taught unto them; they discern and know the differences of things to be understood. God’s blessing doth accompany use and frequent exercise, and make it effectual to this end; by degrees we come to a solidness.
5. Sense and experience doth much increase judgment. When smarted for our folly, tasted the sweetness of conversing with God in Christ: 1 Peter ii. 3, ‘If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.’ Optima demonstratio est a sensibus. Col. i. 6, ‘Which bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day you heard of it, and knew 212the grace of God in truth.’ God is not taught by experience, to whose knowledge all things are present, and at all times, and before all times; but we are. God is fain to teach us by briars and thorns, as Gideon taught the men of Succoth.
6. Avoid the enemies to it or hindrances of it. I shall name two:—
[1.] A passionate or wilful addictedness to any carnal things. Most men live by sense, will, and passion, whereby they enthral that wisdom which they have, and keep it in unrighteousness. Perit omne judicium cum res transit in affectum—truth is a prisoner to their sinful passions and affections, rejecting all thoughts of their future happiness. A man cannot be wise to salvation, and passionately addicted to any temporal interest.
[2.] Pride; that maketh us either rash or presumptuous, either not using a due consideration, or not humble enough to subject our minds to it. Besides we cast off God’s assistance: ‘The humble and meek will he guide in judgment; the meek will he teach his way,’ Ps. xxv. 9. Men that lean on their own understandings reject him: Prov. iii. 5, 6, ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding: in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.’
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