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with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heat them." You will observe that, notwithstanding these strong expressions, the blindness of unbelievers is imputed to themselves, and not to God, in the positive sense implying guilt, for, it is said, "Their eyes have they closed:" that is, they themselves have willingly closed their own eyes. While the withholding of needful grace from the obstinate ought to be felt as a most awakening motive to seek after God, and to yield to convictions, it can never be justly viewed as a discouragement by any who are in earnest about the salvation of their souls; but, on the contrary, it implies that instead of disappointing those who are seeking after him, he will thoroughly illuminate their minds, and soften their hearts, nay, that he is already graciously dealing with their souls.
When the things of salvation are said to be hid from "the wise and prudent," we are not to suppose that there is any inconsistence between the gospel and true wisdom and prudence; or that the gospel is in any way irrational, and cannot stand the test of reason; or hurtful, and incompatible with our true advantage. On the contrary, Christ -Christ crucified-the way of salvation unfolded through the Redeemer, is emphatically," the wisdom of God;" the doctrine and service of Christ are in the highest degree reasonable; and none are so justly entitled to be called prudent, as those who seek after that godliness which is "profitable unto all things." Nor is it intended to be here affirmed that all uncommonly learned and prudent men reject the gospel; for it is well known that there have been not a few instances of men of the very first literary and philosophical attainments, who have been distinguished for their Christian piety, and whose talents have been consecrated, and eminently blessed, to the promotion of religion in the world. Still, however, the wisdom from above, is something essentially different from the wisdom which is from beneath; the gospel, though wisdom itself, is something entirely different from the wisdom of men. 66 Howbeit," saith Paul to the Corinthians," we speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world." Being, ther something quite different, this circumstance alone may shov that it is not very surprising, at least not so surprising as to be any good occasion of stumbling, that many who attain to the other come short of this. But this is not all;
there is not only a difference but an opposition between these kinds of wisdom, when men trust in their human wisdom, and are proud of it: and to this unhappy state of mind our Lord seems here particularly to refer. Nor is even this all: for, the obliquity of the understanding of fallen man with regard to spiritual things, causes him, when he is trusting to himself, to look on heavenly wisdom as folly; and the depravity of the heart of fallen man presents another obstacle to the holy and purifying doctrines of the gospel, and still further thickens the gloom, and shuts out the light. Hence," 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." All who walk theoretically and practically in the vanity of their unenlightened and unrenewed mind, have "the understanding darkened, and are alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart." The blindness and the depravity mutually aggravate each other.
Though, therefore, nothing is so truly wise and prudent. as to embrace the gospel, it is a fact that many who are commonly considered as wise and prudent, and many who have really made great attainments in human wisdom, and who are in prosperous and eminent stations of life, reject the gospel. The words of the apostle to the Corinthians are still very generally applicable: "Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are; that no flesh should glory in his presence."
Our Lord gives thanks to his Father that, though he hides these things from the wise and prudent, "he reveals them unto babes." We observed that God does not exert any positive influence to blind and harden; but we now remark that he does put forth positive energy to enlighten and save. Of the two leading meanings of the word "reveal" we shall speak afterwards. Adverting here to the meaning of the word "babes," we may observe, that the power of divine grace is sometimes signally displayed in those who are very young, and who may be called babes,
or children, in the literal sense. "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies," saith the Psalmist, "that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger;" and this received a remarkable fulfilment on the occasion of our Lord's triumphant entry into Jerusalem. "When the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children erying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, and said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" Consider this passage of Gospel history well, ye children who are now present! You will find it in Matthew, 21st chapter, the 15th and 16th verses. Did these children, long ago, in the temple of Jerusalem, cry, "Hosanna to the Son of David "—that is, Ascribe blessing and praise to Jesus?-why should you not cry Hosanna too? Is he not as blessed and as gracious a Saviour to-day as he was then? Is he not still saying in his Word, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven?" Does it not, then, become you, as soon as you can understand and feel anything of his grace, to imitate these children of Jerusalem in their regard to Christ? It does. See then that you know him, and believe in him, and love him, and obey him, and join heartily in the song of praise to him, whenever it is sung.
But, by babes we are here chiefly to understand all those who, whatever be their age, are lowly, humble, and teachable. That children, notwithstanding their natural frowardness, are, generally speaking, more sensible of their inferiority, and more simple and teachable than grown-up persons, is certain; and therefore, Christ refers to children as an emblem of his true disciples. When we consider the first disciples, we see that they were generally men of lowly birth and station, and unlearned; and the same holds true, for the most part, of his people in every age. "Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?" But, whatever may be their outward circumstances, and their worldly advantages, or disadvantages, those who have the things of salvation revealed to them, are babes in the sense of simplicity and teachableness. "God resisteth the proud, but
giveth grace to the humble."—"The meek will he guide in judgment; the meek will he teach his way." Here, however, lest any should imagine that a man's humility and teachableness, which have so happy a result, are of himself, so as to be, in some degree, the meritorious cause of his being made to differ from others, and of his salvation; let it be remembered, that it is the grace of God, from the very first, which causes him to differ-makes him as a babe, and makes him willing in the day of God's power. While, therefore, we are to be careful to cultivate this spirit of humility as a duty, we are to look for it as a grace all along.
Let us observe now, the two different senses in which God reveals these things. The one sense is the extraordinary and miraculous revelation, by which he discovered to prophets and apostles things formerly unknown, or imperfectly known, in order to their being published to the world as the rule of faith and conduct, or to be useful in some other way, distinct as to the matter, from the already written Word. In this sense of inspiration, we are to understand the contents of the Scriptures in general to have been revealed to them: and in this sense, the word is plainly used in such passages as these: "I wrote afore in few words, whereby when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.""I neither received it" (that is, the gospel)" of men, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." The other sense in which the word is used, is to express the ordinary, saving teaching of the Spirit-the aid whereby men are enabled to understand and receive what is already written in Scripture, and are made wise to salvation. This seems chiefly intended in the passage under consideration, even with regard to these miraculously gifted disciples, for their "names are written in heaven;" though, you will observe, that with regard to those who were miraculously gifted and also brought into a state of personal salvation, it must have been applicable in both senses. This personal, saving discovery of the truth is also described in the words of our Lord to Peter, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven." And this chiefly, if not exclusively, is the * Eph. iii. 3; Gal. i. 12.
meaning of the expression, when Paul prays for all the saints at Ephesus, that "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give unto them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, the eyes of their understanding being enlightened, that they might know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints." In the former sense that is, the sense of miraculous inspiration-these things were revealed only to a few, and at particular times, who yet might not be believers; and the revelation is long ago completed and closed. In the latter sense, these things have been, and will continue to be, revealed, or savingly discovered, to all the people of God in every age, that all of them may be brought to glory.
Our Lord concludes this brief but weighty prayer, in these words, Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." Referring to what he had just stated concerning God hiding these things from the wise and prudent, and revealing them unto babes, the "even so" may be considered both as a strong affirmation that such was the fact, and also as a hearty acquiescence in it. It is as if he had said, "So it is, and so let it be, since such is thy will." It is a salutary, though humbling and difficult lesson for men to learn, that God is sovereign in the communication of his mercy, and that, though the reason of his having mercy lies not in the merit of its object, but in his own will, that will is not a blind, or unjust fate, but is influenced by good reasons, though they are unfathomable by us-is, in short, holy, just, and good. Such a view of the divine sovereignty as this, is most rational, as well as most scriptural: it is directly calculated to produce a spirit of pious dependence on God; and it is often the best resource to his people, in the contemplation of many of his mysterious dealings. In reference to this point, the apostle tells the Ephesians, that God proceeds" according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace," and "according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself," and that he worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." Let us, like our Saviour, devoutly acknowledge the truth, and thankfully acquiesce in the rectitude and goodness of this doctrine, and we shall find both its sanctifying and comforting efficacy. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who