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Chapter XXXIII.

Showing How The Loving Soul Considers God As The Eternal Wisdom.

Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.Acts 15:18.

God ordains, governs, moves, and regulates all things according to his unsearchable wisdom, as it is written (Isa. 45:4-12): “I have even called thee by thy name; I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God besides me.—I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the Lord do all these things.—Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth? Thus saith the 267 Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.”

2. This is a powerful testimony concerning the eternal wisdom, and the wondrous, incomprehensible government of Almighty God, which may be first observed in this, that he has called every one of us by his name, and has surnamed us, though we did not know him, and were not yet in being. This our name by which God calleth us, is our faith, our outward calling, and our whole course of life. There we are inclosed in, or surrounded with, God's eternal wisdom and providence, as it respects our whole life, its beginning, middle, and end (Ps. 139:16), or as to our going out and coming in. Ps. 121:8. “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names” (Ps. 147:4); that is, he gives them their courses, powers, and operations. How much more doth he so in reference to men! God forms the light and creates darkness. He makes peace, and creates evil; that is, as to the evil of punishment, the just reward of sin; this he creates and permits; nay, he calls the sword, and causes an alarm of war to be heard. Jer. 49:2.

3. In a word, he ordains all things wisely. He sees and hears all things before, according to the words of the Psalmist: “Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? He that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?” Ps. 94:8-10.

4. Here king David teaches us that God has laid a mirror of his omniscience and eternal wisdom into man, into the hearing ear, and seeing eye, those two wonderful powers of the human body.

5. It is extremely offensive to a man, to hear and see anything unjust or unreasonable; how much more to God, who has an all-seeing eye and an all-hearing ear, must men's ingratitude be offensive; he having ordained all things by his wisdom, in order to be serviceable unto men. He has made the sun by his wisdom to give light, not unto itself, but to us; the water affords drink, not to itself, but unto us; the earth brings forth fruits, not for itself but for us; the fire warms, not for itself, but for us; the air gives breath, not to itself, but to us; the bread feeds, not itself, but us; the herbs do not heal themselves, but us.

6. The eternal wisdom of God has planted so many powers in the creatures, and has so wisely distributed them, that they are, as it were, so many hands through which the wisdom and goodness of God divide these treasures among us, according to the words of Job: “Who knoweth not in all these, that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:9, 10. And “Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee” (Ver. 7); that “with God is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding. Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening.” Ver. 13, 14. “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, 268 and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them.” Job 26:7, 8.

7. Since then the Lord our God ordaineth all things by his wisdom, he ordaineth all our crosses; and therefore we are not to murmur, but to praise his wisdom, and to learn patience; for things cannot proceed otherwise than as they are ordained by God. But not only the things that befall us in particular, are the most wise order of God; but also all great national plagues, famine, pestilence, wars, and revolutions of states. And although we may think that these are nothing but confusion, perdition, and destruction, yet there reigns the wisest order of God. This we may gather from the histories of Holy Writ, where famine, wars, pestilence, desolations of the kingdoms of the world, the destruction of the Jewish kingdom, and of empires, the Babylonian Captivity, and many similar events, are described. “I know,” saith Solomon (Eccles. 3:14), “that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.”

8. And again, “Consider the work of God; for who can make that straight, which he hath made crooked?” Eccles. 7:13.

9. If we consider it aright, we must own that God could not have ordered things more wisely. So we may say also, with reference to the persecutions of the saints, both in the Old and New Testament; to our Lord Jesus Christ; the holy Gospel; the holy martyrs; and all other things. In our sight, these all seem to be absurd, and foolish, and yet they are the highest wisdom of God.

10. As then we are to give unto God the praise of righteousness, in all his wonderful judgments; so we are also to give unto him the praise of wisdom, in all the wonderful changes of the world, and in all our crosses and sufferings; knowing that he can direct all evils to a good end, and out of evil derive good: so that in all things, how confused soever they may appear unto us, there shineth forth his wisdom, even as his righteousness doth in all his judgments.

11. But the loving soul sees the wisdom of God especially in the restoration and redemption of the human race, and in the renovation of the soul and the faculties thereof. For so it pleased the wisdom of God, that the corrupt image of God in man, should be renewed by the divine substantial image of God, that is, by Christ. After man had lost by sin that blessed wisdom, that glorious light of his intellect, by which he knew God aright, and so had fallen into the utmost blindness, nay, into eternal darkness, wherein he must have dwelt forever; the Son of God, who is the eternal wisdom of the Father, became man, and a light of life unto men (John 1:4), that he might bring back those that had gone astray; that he might teach the ignorant; call to himself the sinners; and rekindle in them the light of the knowledge of God by faith and the Holy Ghost; nay, that he might unite himself to the soul of man, and might shine forth therein.

12. Secondly: after the will of man was entirely turned away from God, perverted, and wholly changed into disobedience, striving against God in all things; the Son of God was made man, that he might be unto us a pattern of perfect obedience; that he might heal our evil will; implant his 269 good will in our hearts; renew our will through the Holy Ghost; and make us partakers of his holy obedience by faith; according to those words of Scripture (Gal. 3:14), “That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith;” nay, that he might unite himself to us, and live in us, that so our will also might be made conformable unto God.

13. Thirdly: because the affections of our hearts, and all our faculties, were in contrariety to God, and “every imagination of the thoughts of our hearts, was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5); the Son of God, who is love itself, became man, that he might give us a heart wholly new; that he might plant therein the love of God, and sincere humility and meekness; that he might take from us the old carnal heart, and unite himself with us, that so we might be made of one heart, mind, and spirit with him; all which are the fruits of his most holy incarnation wrought in us.

14. And this is the highest wisdom of God, that by his dear Son, He thus reneweth man. For as God has created man by his wisdom, after his perfect image; so He hath also, by his dear Son, who is eternal wisdom, and who was made man, created man anew, and regenerated him to a new image of God, wherein his wisdom, glory, and righteousness should shine forth forever. It is in this chiefly that the image of God consists.

15. Thus the corrupt image of God in man, is renewed by the substantial image of God, which is Christ.

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