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The WISDOM of God.

The next attribute is God's wisdom, which is one of the brightest beams of the Godhead. "He is wise in heart." The heart is the seat of wisdom. Among the Hebrews, the heart is put for wisdom. "Men of understanding," Job 34:34. The Hebrew is "Men of heart." God is wise in heart, that is, he is most wise.

God alone is wise—he solely and wholly possesses all wisdom; therefore he is called, "the only wise God." All the treasures of wisdom are locked up in him, and no creature can have any wisdom but as God is pleased to give it out of his treasury.

God is perfectly wise; there is no defect in his wisdom. Men may be wise in some things—but in other things they show imprudence and weakness. But God is the exemplar and pattern of wisdom, and the pattern must be perfect. "As your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48. God's wisdom appears in two things:

I. His infinite intelligence.

II. His exact working.

I. His infinite INTELLIGENCE. He knows the most profound secrets. "Our Lord is great, vast in power; His understanding is infinite ." Psalm 147:5. "There is a God in heaven who reveals secrets , and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future ." Daniel 2:28. He knows the thoughts, which are the most intricate subtle things. "I know full well what you are thinking." Job 21:27. "The Lord knows the thoughts of man." Psalm 94:11. Let sin be contrived ever so secretly, God will pull off all masks and disguises, and make a heart-anatomy. He knows all future contingencies; all things are before him in one clear prospect.

II. His exact and meticulous WORKING. He is wise in heart; his wisdom lies in his works . These works of God are bound up in three great volumes, where we may read his wisdom.

[1] The work of CREATION. The creation is both a monument of God's power, and a looking-glass in which we may see his wisdom. None but a wise God could so meticulously contrive the world. Behold the earth decked with variety of flowers , which are both for beauty and fragrance. Behold the heaven bespangled with lights . We may see the glorious wisdom of God blazing in the sun, twinkling in the stars. His wisdom is seen in marshaling and ordering everything in its proper place and sphere . If the sun had been set lower, it would have burnt us; if higher, it would not have warmed us with its beams. God's wisdom is seen in appointing the seasons of the year. "You have made summer and winter." If it had been all summer, the heat would have scorched us; if all winter, the cold would have killed us. The wisdom of God is seen in chequering the dark and the light . If it had been all night, there would have been no labor; if all day, there would have been no rest. Wisdom is seen in mixing the elements , as the earth with the sea. If it had been all sea, we would have lacked bread; if it had been all earth, we would have lacked water. The wisdom of God is seen in preparing and ripening the fruits of the earth, in the wind and frost which prepare the fruits, and in the sun and rain which ripen the fruits. God's wisdom is seen in setting bounds to the sea , and so wisely contriving it, that though the sea is higher than many parts of the earth—yet it should not overflow the earth. We may cry out with the Psalmist, "O Lord, how manifold are your works! in wisdom have you made them all." There is nothing to be seen in this world, but miracles of God's wisdom.

God's wisdom is seen in ordering social things, that one shall have need of another. The poor need the rich man's money, and the rich need the poor man's labor. God makes one trade depend upon another—that one may be helpful to another, and that mutual love may be preserved.

[2] The second work wherein God's wisdom shines forth is the work of REDEMPTION.

(1.) Redemption is the masterpiece of divine wisdom. God has contrived a way for happiness for sinful man—and still uphold his justice! We may cry out with the apostle, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" This has astonished men and angels. If God had left us to find out a way of salvation when we were lost—we could neither have had a head to devise, nor a heart to desire—what God's infinite wisdom had planned for us.

Mercy had a mind to save sinners, and was loath that the justice of God should be wronged. "It is a pity," says Mercy, "that such a noble creature as man should be eternally undone; and yet God's justice must not be a loser. What way then shall be found out? Angels cannot satisfy for the wrong done to God's justice; nor is it fit that one nature should sin—and another nature suffer. What then? Shall man be forever lost?" Now, while Mercy was thus debating with itself, what to do for the recovery of fallen man, the Wisdom of God stepped in—and thus the oracle spoke: "Let God become man; let the Second Person in the Trinity become incarnate, and suffer; and so for fitness he shall be man, and for ability he shall be God! Thus justice may be satisfied, and man saved!" O the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God—thus to make justice and mercy to kiss each other! Great is this mystery, "God manifest in the flesh." What wisdom was this—that Christ should be made sin—yet know no sin; that God should condemn the sin—yet save the sinner! Here was wisdom—to find out the way of salvation.

(2.) The means by which salvation is applied—sets forth God's wisdom —that salvation should be by faith, not by works. Faith is a humble grace—it gives all to Christ; it is an adorer of free grace. And free grace being advanced here, God has his glory; and it is his highest wisdom to exalt his own glory.

(3.) The way of working faith—declares God's wisdom. It is wrought by the word preached. "Faith comes by hearing." What is the weak breath of a man— to convert a soul? It is like whispering in the ears of a dead man. This is foolishness in the eye of the world; but the Lord loves to show his wisdom by that which seems folly. "He has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise." Why so? "So that no one can ever boast in the presence of God."

If God were to convert by the ministry of angels —then we would be ready to glory in angels, and give that honor to them which is due to God; but when God works by weak tools, makes use of men who are of like passions with ourselves, and by them converts, then the power is plainly seen to be of God. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us!" Herein is God's wisdom seen, that no flesh may glory in his Presence.

[3] The wisdom of God wonderfully appears in the works of his PROVIDENCE. Every providence has a mercy or a wonder enrapt up in it. The wisdom of God, in his works of providence, appears:

(1.) By effecting great things—by small contemptible means. He cured the stung Israelites, by a brazen serpent. If some sovereign antidote had been used, if the balm of Gilead had been brought, there would have been some likelihood of a cure; but what was there in a brazen serpent? It was a mere model —and not a real serpent; and it was not physically applied to him who was wounded; he was only to look upon it; yet this wrought a cure! The less probability in the instrument —the more is God's wisdom seen!

(2.) The wisdom of God is seen in doing his work, by that which to the eye of flesh seems quite contrary. God intended to advance Joseph, and to make all his brethren's sheaves bow to his sheaf. Now, what way does he take? First Joseph is thrown into the pit; then sold into Egypt; then after that put in prison. But by his imprisonment God made way for his advancement. For God to save in an ordinary way—would not so much display his wisdom. But when he goes strangely to work, and saves in that very way in which we think he will destroy —his wisdom shines forth in a most conspicuous manner!

God would make Israel victorious, and what way does he take? He lessens Gideon's army. "The people that are with you are too many." He reduces the army of thirty-two thousand, to three hundred; and by taking away the means of victory, makes Israel victorious.

God had a design to bring his people out of Egypt , and a strange course he takes to effect it! He stirred up the hearts of the Egyptians to hate them. "He turned their heart to hate his people." The more they hated and oppressed Israel, the more God plagued the Egyptians, and the more glad they were to let Israel go. The Egyptians were urgent that they might send them out of the land in haste.

God had a mind to save Jonah when he was cast into the sea—so he let the fish swallow him up, and so brought him to the shore.

God would save Paul , and all who were in the ship with him—but the ship must be wrecked, so that they could all came safely to land upon the broken pieces of the ship. Acts 27:74.

In reference to the church , God often goes by contrary means, and makes the enemy do his work. God can make a straight stroke, with a crooked stick. He has often made his church grow and flourish by persecution . "The showers of blood have made her more fruitful," says Julian. Exod 1:10. "Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous." But the way the Egyptians took to suppress them, made them multiply. Verse 12. "But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites." Just like the soil—the more it is harrowed , the better crop it bears. The apostles were scattered by persecution, and their scattering was like the scattering of seed. They went up and down, and preached the gospel, and brought daily converts. Paul was put in prison, and his chains were the means of spreading the gospel. "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advancement of the gospel." Philippians 1:12.

(3.) The wisdom of God is seen in making the most desperate evils, to work to the good of his children. As several poisonous ingredients, wisely tempered by the skill of the apothecary, make a sovereign medicine—so God makes the most deadly afflictions work together for the good of his children. He uses severe afflictions to purify them, and prepare them for heaven. "For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory!" 2 Corinthians 4:17. These hard frosts hasten the spring flowers of glory! The wise God, by a divine chemistry , turns our afflictions into cordials. He makes his people gainers by losses ; and turns their crosses into blessings .

(4.) The wisdom of God is seen in this—that the sins of men shall carry on God's work; yet he himself should have no hand in their sin. The Lord permits sin—but does not approve it. He has a hand in the action in which sin is—but not in the sin of the action. As in the crucifying of Christ, so far as it was a natural action, God concurred; if he had not given the Jews life and breath, they could not have done it; but as it was a sinful action, so God abhorred it. A musician plays upon a violin which is out of tune; the musician is the cause of the sound—but the jarring and discord is from the violin itself. Just so, men's natural motion is from God—but their sinful motion is from themselves. When a man rides on a lame horse, his riding is the cause why the horse goes—but the lameness is from the horse itself. Herein is God's wisdom—that the sins of men carry on his work—yet he has no hand in them!

(5.) The wisdom of God is seen in helping in desperate cases. God loves to show his wisdom—when human help and wisdom fail. Exquisite lawyers love to wrestle with difficult law cases, as this more shows their skill. God's wisdom is never at a loss; but when providences are darkest, then the morning star of deliverance appears. "He remembered us in our low estate." Sometimes God melts away the spirits of his enemies. "The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us." Joshua 2:24. Sometimes he finds them other work to do, and sounds a retreat to them, as he did to Saul when he was pursuing David. "The Philistines are in the land." When the church seems to be upon destruction, and her peace and liberty ready to be sacrificed, then the deliverance comes.

(6.) God's wisdom is seen in befooling wise men, and in making their wisdom the means of their overthrow. Ahithophel had deep understanding. "The counsel Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God;" but he consulted his own shame. "The Lord turned his counsel into foolishness." "God takes the wise in their own craftiness;" that is, when they think to deal wisely, he not only disappoints them—but ensnares them. The snares they lay for others, catch themselves! "They have fallen into the pit they dug for others. They have been caught in their own trap." God loves to counterplot politicians; he makes use of their own wit to undo them. He hangs Haman up on his own gallows.

Use one: Adore the wisdom of God. It is an infinite deep; the angels cannot search into it. "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!" Romans 11:33. As we should adore the wisdom of God—so we should rest in the wisdom of God. God sees what condition is best for us. Did we believe the wisdom of God, it would keep us from murmuring. Rest in God's wisdom.

(1.) Rest in God's wisdom—in lack of spiritual comfort. God is wise; he sometimes sees it good, that we should be without comfort. Perhaps we would be lifted up in pride if we had spiritual enlargements; as Paul, with his revelations. "Especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself." 2 Corinthians 12:7. It is hard to have the heart low—when comfort is high. God sees humility to be better for us than joy . It is better to lack comfort, and be humble—than to have it, and be proud!

(2.) Rest in God's wisdom—in lack of bodily strength , rest in God's wisdom. He sees what is best. Perhaps the less health—the more grace. Perhaps the weaker in body—the stronger in faith. "Though our outward man is perishing—yet the inward man is renewed day by day." At Rome there were two laurel trees; when the one withered, the other flourished. When God shakes the tree of the body, he is gathering the fruits of righteousness. "No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11. Sickness is God's lance—to let out the poison of sin. "The Lord did this to purge away Israels' sin." Isaiah 27:9.

(3.) Rest in God's wisdom—in case of God's providences to his church. When we wonder what God is doing with us, and are ready to kill ourselves with worry—let us rest in God's wisdom. He knows best what he has to do. "Your way went through the sea, and Your path through the great waters, but Your footprints were unseen ." Psalms 77:19. Trust his heart—where you cannot trace his hand. God is most in his way, when we think he is most out of the way. When we think God's church is, as it were, in the grave, and there is a tombstone laid upon her, his wisdom can roll away the stone from the sepulcher. "Christ comes leaping over mountains ." Either his power can remove the mountain, or his wisdom knows how to leap over it!

(4.) Rest in God's wisdom—in case we are low in the world, or have but little oil in our cruse —let us rest in God's wisdom. He sees that this condition is best for us. Perhaps it is to cure us from pride or worldliness. God knew if your estate had not been lost—your soul would have been lost. God saw that riches would be a snare unto you. "But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains." 1 Timothy 6:9-10. Are you troubled that God has prevented a snare? God will make you rich in faith. What you lack in temporals, shall be made up in spirituals. God will give you more of his love. You are weak in estate—but God will make you strong in assurance. Oh rest in God's wisdom! He will carve the choicest piece for you!

(5.) Rest in God's wisdom—in case of the loss of dear friends, a wife, or child, or husband , let us rest satisfied in God's wisdom. God takes away these, because he would have more of our love; he breaks these crutches , that we may live more upon him by faith. God would have us learn to go without crutches.

Use two: If God is infinitely wise—let us go to him for wisdom. Solomon prayed, "So give your servant a discerning heart . . . The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this." 1 Kings 3:9-10. Here is encouragement for us; "If any one lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives liberally, and upbraids not." Wisdom is in God—as water is in the fountain. That is, his wisdom is imparted , but not impaired— his stock is not spent by giving it. Go then to God. "Lord, give me wisdom, to know the fallacy of my heart; the subtleties of the old serpent; to walk carefully towards myself; piously towards you, prudently towards others; guide me by your counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory."