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and admitting us into his grace and favour by the faith of him, and under the influence of his Spirit, is a most precious branch of divine learning. Communion and fellowship with the Father and the Son, an understanding of this, the enjoyment of it, and to be enabled to set it forth to others, is the best wisdom and learning in all this world. But then all divine subjects are unsavoury to men in a state of nature; and every branch of human learning is dry, lifeless, and unsavoury, to a soul quickened of God. In short, there are no depths to be compared to the secret purposes and all-wise councils of God. No heights like those of divine love; no wisdom to be compared to the destruction of Satan, sin, and death, by the mystery of the cross. No learning so satisfactory as that which leads us to a knowledge of God, and of our interest in him. This learning is unctuous, savoury, and satisfying, having the dew of divine favour, the grace of God, and eternal life, in it.
Sometimes the wonderful performances of God are set forth poetically, that they may be adorned with the flights of heavenly poetry, as in the third chapter of Habakkuk. And sometimes all created nature is ransacked for images to set forth the glory of Christ, the beauty of the church in him, their mutual love, and eternal union, as in the Song of Solomon. And it is thought, by some, that the most eloquent orator in the school of nature never could find out such a variety of words to express one and the same thing as are to be found in the
119th psalm. “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.” The strength and art of oratory may warm the imagination, and move the natural passions; but words of truth and peace, which convey the power of divine grace, and minister faith, hope, and love, are the only learning that can suit a hungry soul, convinced of his natural blindness and ignorance. Such God promises to feed with knowledge and understanding
THE ERRING HEART, AND GOD'S UNERRING
Hebrews iii. 10, 11. “They do always err in their heart; and they have not known
my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into
THERE are innumerable ways in which men err; and even the best of men err, and that in many things. “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults,” Psalm xix. 12. Every thing that is contrary to the revealed will of God is error. Some err in vision, seeing vanity and divining lies; some err in judgment; some err in spirit; and others in practice; and, “In many things,” says James, “ we offend all.” But every error is not perpetual, like this in my text; nor is every error seated and rooted in the heart, as this is. This error, in my text, is the damning sin of unbelief, as may be seen in Israel of old; who, living under the sound of God's voice, and beholding God's miraculous power as they did; and seeing the cloudy pillar over their camp by day, and the pillar of fire by night; and to be eye-witnesses of the power of God which they beheld in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years together; and, under all these displays of goodness and severity, to be so rooted in unbelief as to offer their sacrifices to devils, after whom they went a whoring, Levit. xvii. 7; and so to harden their hearts in infidelity, as to turn a deaf ear to the voice of God, both in his mercies and in his judgments. These things are left
upon record as the greatest of provocations, and to warn all professing people, in the days of the gospel, against their bad example. To day, while the sun of righteousness shines, “ To day, if ye
will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their hearts, and they have not known my ways.” That the heart-error, in my text, is unbelief, is plain, both from the Old Testament and the New. “And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence.” Again, “And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith,” Deut. xxxii. 19, 20. Again, “ The Lord your God, which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way
that ye went, until ye came into this place. Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord
“Without faith it is impossible to please God," because unbelief is a giving God the lie in all that he says, and in all that he does. It gives God the lie in all he says.
“ He that believeth not God, hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” It gives God the lie in his works also, as he complains. “How long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?” And it is surprising how many wise and learned heads have laboured and toiled at that display of divine power which God put forth in dividing the Red Sea, in order to lessen and eclipse the glory of God in it. They endeavour to prove that, at certain seasons, a powerful wind blows in one direction, and this performed the operation. Others, that, at low water, one part is fordable; and that Moses was acquainted with these things, and knew the times, and so embraced the opportunity of crossing it at those seasons. So fearful are these sons of infidelity that God should have any glory from his own works. But truth tells us that God divided the Red Sea into parts. This is the truth of God;