Matthew ii. 1, 2. ow when Jejus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the kine, behold, there came Wise Men from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where ia he that ia born King of the Jews? For we have seen his Star in the East, and are come to worship him. It would be but trifling with your attention and wasting your time, to spend it in considering who these magii were — whence they came — or what was the nature of this star. There is no more to be known on these subjects from this passage, than what appears on the face of it. Our grand concern is the moral instruction to be derived from this history. The conduct of these wise men suggests to us some marks of illumination or true wisdom, wherever it is afforded to the mind of man. A truly wise man is a very different character from a worldly wise man. A worldly wise man may satisfy himself and others with the extent of his knowledge, the discoveries which he has made in human science, and the comprehensive view which he takes of public affairs ; or he may take his walk among the stars, and measure their distances and relations; he may be called the illumination of the day, in the department which lie occupies. But I would ask this grand question: Docs he stand related to no world but this? — Has he a soul to be saved? — Is he a sinner? — Has he found a remedy for his guilt and

SIG S OF TRUE WISDOM. 145 misery? — Has he any thing to set his foot on at death, when called into another world? othing of all this? Then what wisdom is his? He is but as a child — provided a child is equipped for a day's amusement,

it thinks nothing of the morrow ! Let us, then, consider the marks of true wisdom as they appear in the conduct of these men. I. True wisdom will teach a man to seek an infallible guide, in this dark and dangerous world. The wise man will follow the light of his dispensation. He knows that he has questions to ask which God alone can answer. He cannot so much as know the object of his worship, till God teach him: for "who, by searching, can find out God ? Who can find out the Almighty to perfection?" Who can tell what it is fit for God to do with his creature, or how that creature may safely appear before him? The wise men had but the light of a star ; but they doubtless knew that it was a light which God provided. They had a tradition, probably, that a star should arise to direct them to the Messiah. Balaam's prophecy might give rise to such tradition ; but what particular knowledge they had of this star we are not informed ; but it is sufficient for us to know that they had that knowledge. II. True wisdom will follow such a guide, whenever it appears. The object to which such a guide leads may be at a great distance. Many impediments may be in the way ; many objections may be found ; puzzling questions may arise; it may be, at best, but star-light; but it is the only light afforded. Let us learn thus to use our Bibles, — not to search for objections — not to try what questions may be 13

146 SERMO XIV. started — not to examine what misconstructions may arise. Have you any other light? Are you not involved in total darkness, if that light he extinguished ? True wisdom will follow star-light, when it

has not that of the sun: it will he guided by true light, wherever that can be found. To us, in this day, who are not called to follow shadows and dark ceremonies, but ,: with open face to behold the glory of the Lord,*' as it appears "in the face of Jesus Christ," the grand question is, what is the value of the object which we are pursuing? What is salvation? What shall I obtain therein? Acceptance, pardon, purity, boldness before God! What a marvellous light! what a blessed dispensation! How thankful ought we to be for this light! how willing to follow it; and to follow it simply, humbly, entirely ! This did these wise men: they came inquiring, " where is he that is born King of the Jews ! for we have seen his star in the East, and are come to worship him." III. True wisdom will honour the object which it HAS FOU D. It will not listen to the objections of the scoffer or unbeliever. Herod, and the chief priests, and all Jerusalem were troubled ; but who were they? Their character explained their opposition. Are you troubled, because you have in your families persons who sneer and scoff, and treat the Sabbath and the Gospel with contempt, and despise religious men because they are religious? ll<>w would you expect such scoffers to act .' [s Dot their conduct in character? Has n«»t God said, that " In the last days there shall arise scoffers, walking after their

SIG S OF TRUE WISDOM 147 own lusts — speaking evil of things that they know not?" Herod, and the chief priests, and all Jerusalem were troubled, because they loved darkness rather than light. But these men came to Jerusalem and

inquired publicly, " Where is lie that is born King of the Jews? We are come from a far country, and we are determined to own and honour the object of which we are in pursuit." Brethren : our inquiries may possibly disturb others; yet we must persevere. Ours is not an affair to be trifled with : it is of infinite moment ! Let us be civil, and kind, and benevolent, and give no offence to Jew or Gentile, much less to the Church of God ; but in an affair of such infinite importance as salvation and the confessing of Christ before men, we must be simple and determined: we must say, with Joshua, "Choose ye whom ye will serve; but, as forme and my house, we will serve the Lord."' IV. True wisdom will continue to wait in a humble SPIRIT, FOR FURTHER DIRECTIO . This did the wise men. " They rejoiced with exceeding great joy, when they saw the star." And when it had led them to the young child — "God manifest in the flesh" — they waited for further directions ; " and, being warned of God in a dream," they returned "into their own country another way." My dear hearers, we want daily instruction ; yea, every hour of the day. We know not what a day may bring forth, nor what is contained in a single circumstance of the day, nor what mischief and danger may await us. The same care of God, in his Providence, which is necessary to our preservation

148 SERMO XIV. in the most tremendous danger, is equally necessary in the most unsuspicious circumstances. The star had left these men ; they had found their object; but they still inquired, — they still needed direction : they waited, and God warned them what steps they should take, after they had found Christ. You may be a Christian of mature age, and able to instruct others; yet you need to pray continually, 11 ; What I know not, teach thou me.' Let me hear

thy voice, saying, 'This is the way, walk ye in it; when I turn to the right hand, or to the left.' " V. True wisdom will teach a man calmly to pursue his course. The wise man will hold on his way, regardless of the consequences which he expects to meet. He will hold on his way, and wax stronger and stronger. Thus it was with Moses : he had great difficulties to encounter : but, by f<iitk, he overcame : he went on his way, acted according to his rule, and left consequences with God. Thus these wise men, having seen " God manifest in the flesh," felt that they had seen enough to prevent their being carried away by the fears of the world. ever will any man be cured of that worst of disorders — the world in the heart — till he has by faith beheld the salvation of God in the work of Christ. Let us, then, imitate these wise men : let us keep the feast of the Epiphany, on the eve of which we now are, by admiring the condescension, grace, and goodness of God, to us Gentiles. "Arise, shine !" says the prophet, ' foi thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. The people that sat in darkness have seen a --Meat Light:" God has stooped down to our necessities. By the assistance

SIG S OF TRUE WISDOM. 149 of those ministers or friends, whom he raises np for us — by the books which he brings to our hands — by the hints, which he occasionally affords us — by the good thoughts, which he suggests to the mind — he can conduct us, as he did these wise men, to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 1. My Christian brethren! do you feel, at times, that the truth will not suffer you to rest in the course wherein you have been walking? — that, however various occurrences may seem to drive the truth out of your mind, yet it returns again; and that one passage of Scripture after another calls loudly to your

conscience] — This is as the shining of the star to the wise men: this is, as another Scripture expresses it, Christ knocking at the door of your hearts ! Take care how you trifle with convictions. It is most awful to stifle conviction. Stifled conviction will rise again in the judgment to witness against yon. If you spend your time, while reading the Scriptures, in searching for poetical beauties or making critical remarks, you act as these wise men would have done, if they had sat down spectators of the phenomenon, but took no step in following it. \\ r e are not, as Mr. Boyle expresses it, to stand looking at the telescope-case, but to look through it: children may be amused with the case, but the astronomer uses the telescope as an instrument whereby to discover the wonders of the planetary world. Thus let us endeavour to use the light which God affords — not to amuse ourselves with it, but to make our way by it to the light of life. 2. If true wisdom consists in seeking an infallible guide, following such a guide when it appears, confessing our object before men, waiting for further 13*

150 SERMO XIV. direction, and pursuing our course regardless of all consequences — if this be true wisdom, hoir blind and wretched are they who have never token one step by the lip- Jit afforded tht m ! The man may be a king— so was Herod ; but what use did he make of the circumstances in which lie was placed ! He may be a scholar — so were the Sadducees and Pharisees; but what light had they? what discoveries did they make ? He may be a minister — so were the chief priests : and what did they do with this marvellous light ) The man may be successful in his schemes and projects — so were Dives and Uemas; but what became of them ? What wisdom had they ? Can you conceive of men more beguiled of Satan than these men? The world may praise them ; but what

does God say of them ! Let us hear his account, and listen to what we hear: "If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost!'' Am I speaking to any who are yet sleeping, though so glorious a light is risen upon the earth ? — I would say to such, What! does this light shine, that you may determine to sit in darkness, and pour contempt on it 7 What will you plead in the great day ! You cannjt say, like the benighted Chinese or Indian, " W« were brought up in the darkness of idolatry. The light that was in us. was darkness." You must give account of these truths: and then you will find them to be " a savour of death unto death."* 3. If true wisdom is here marked out and set before us. and recommended t<> our attention by the God of all wisdom, ir/int n blessed thing it is to br really wise — a truly L r <»dly man. enlightened and enlivened by this light ! For there is one Spirit, one light, one real charac-

SIG S OF TRUE WISDOM. 151 ter in all true Christians. Were these lights, which are shining around us to-night, to be multiplied into ten thousand times their number, they would be all of the same nature. So the grace of God, whether it work in Abraham, in Lazarus, or in any sinner at this day, is of the same nature still. My dear hearers, let the world think of these things as they may. These wise men were treated, doubtless, with the utmost contempt in Jerusalem, when they came, inquiring, "Where is he, that is born King of the Jews?"' And when they set out from their own country, it is probable they were regarded as madmen : the following of a star must have been accounted by their countrymen, as one of the wildest projects that ever entered the head of man. And when they fell down before the child, and offered gold and frankincense, whoever stood round and were not under the same gracious influence, would regard it as the most egregious trifling to pour out such gifts

before a poor child, in the lap of a poor virgin, and in the meanest situation, under the idea that they were led by a star to pay that adoration. You see now the opinions of the men of the world. othing can be gathered from them. Let us follow our rule, and leave consequences, as these wise men did. And how will these very men rise up in judgment against the curious traveller, the wise politician, the learned, the scorners and scoffers of every day, who pour contempt on our treasure^ — the most glorious object that God ever showed to man — while they bring forward their little trifles — their shells and their pebbles — and summon the world to the admiration of them ! I call on you, therefore, to seek true wisdom, that

152 SERMO XV. you may be of the number of those whom God calls wise, and will prove to have been such in the face of these scorners : for, "They that be wise, shall shine as the stars for ever and ever."' Let us be candidates for that glory : and let us remember, that no man ever sought in vain that honour which cometh of God.



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