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Wisdom sometimes denotes knowledge, or learning This was included in the wisdom of Solomon.* The prophet Daniel, to whom we are indebted for the interesting passage of Holy Writ, now under consideration, was early chosen from among the children of the captivity, for the special service of the Babylonian king, because he was stilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and bad ability to stand in the king's palace, and was capable of acquirIng the learningt and the tongue of the Chaldeans.
Wisdom often denotes practical application of intellectual power, or skill, to the accomplishment of different purposes. He is wise, who, under apprehension of evil, seasonably guards himself against it. The prita dent man foreseeth the coil, and biderb himself ; but the simple pass on, and are punisbed. He is wise for this world, who is quick to perceive, and skilful in employing, the best means for the attainment of worldly good. This quickness of perception, and skill in action, are so much greater, when the object in view is earthly,
• This wise prince was thoroughly acquainted with Natural History and Philosopky. See 1 Kings, iv. 33. Expositors thus explain the crime and under standing heart, divinely imparted to him : " Mens sapiens et sagax, sive prudens Verùm non illam solum, sed et artes omnes atque scientias simul divinitus isfusas accepit." Peli Synopsis. This kind of learning greatly assisted the greater to iucb the people karrige. How unreasonable are prejudices against buman learning, as a qualification for the work of the ministry ! tvho will deny, that Moses, who was learned in all tbe wird'anz of tbe Egyptian ; and SOLOMON, who was extensively and profoundly learned ; and DANIEL, who was famed for understand stion; and PAUL, who was well instructed in the literature of Athens and of Rome, and acknowledged himself a debter to the wise as well as to see untoise ; mere better qualified by their learning, to be teachers of religion ?
+ mod hic significat.libras Chaldæorum omnis generis, de historia, philosophia, religione gentis, de scriptionibus epistolicis, et stylo curiæ, de statutis, operibus et stratagematis, quæ ad intellectum practicum pertinent, et de omni scientia Chaldæorum
than when it is heavenly and divine, that our blessed Lord was led to remark : The children of this world are in their generation wiser, than the children of light.'
But the inspired authors generally use the word wisdom in a religious sense. By them we are taught, that great men are not always wise. The strongest and most capacious powers of the human intellect, in conjunction with the most profound learning, or worldly wisdom, cannot constitute a truly wise man. In proportion, indeed, to the strength and capacity of those powers, to the extent of those acquirements, and to the degree of that species of wisdom, the folly of their possessor is rendered flagrant, unless they are employed to beneficial purposes. It has accordingly been reinarka ed, with equal energy and truth : " With the talents of an angel, man may be a fool.”*
When men employ their mental faculties in contemplation of the infinite and eternal Being ; in researches after divine or useful knowledge; and in prosecution of the great work, which God hath given them to do, preparatory to the future and eternal state ; then they are truly wise. After an interesting description of that knowledge, which has for its object the latent and wonderful properties of the natural world, an inspired writer, aware that something more than this knowledge, however valuable, is necessary to constitute the wise man, asks: Whence then cometh wisdom? And where is the place of understanding? To render the answer solemnly impressive, he gives it the sanction of the voice of Jehovah : God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof. And unto man he said, Behold! the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to de part from evil is understanding.
Whatever is the great end of our being, a practical regard to that end is wisdom: and what higher end can be imagined, than the fear of God, and conformity to those holy and perfect laws, which he hath given for the rule of our obedience ; laws, the observance of which directly tends to promote man's temporal and eternal interest ; the peace, harmony, and happiness of the universe; and the glory of that Being, of whoni, and through whom, and to whom, are all things ; to whom, therefore, belong glory and dominion forever ? Reason teaches us, that this is the proper and supreme end of our being ; and Revelation confirms the same truth. Fear God, and keep his commandments ; for this is the whole of man.* This is his whole duty, hapă piness, end.
That by the wise, the prophet Daniel understood virš tuous and good men, is evident from the rewards, which he declares to be reserved for them ; rewards, which, according to the uniform doctrine of Scripture, none, but the virtuous and good, can hereafter receive. It is also evident from his manner of contrasting the wise with the wicked, in the very chapter, which contains the text : None of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.
They therefore are wise, who cease to do evil, and learn to do well ; who, setting the Lord always before them, stand in awe, and sin not ; who aim to do always those things, that please 'him ; who, according to their opportunity, cultivate and replenish their minds with useful knowledge ; who regulate their appetites and passions ; who resist the temptations of this seductive world; who receive, with meekness and docility, the
heavenly truths, taught by the Word, by the Spirit, or by the Providence of God; who are penitent for their sins; who believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God; who obey from the heart that Gospel, which contains the words of eternal life ; who do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with their God; who per. form the duties of their stations with fidelity ; and by patient continuance in well doing, even to death, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality.
Although every good man, who possesses these characters of wisdom, will participate the future rewards of the faithful ; yet the prophet seems, in the text, to have had peculiar regard to that class of good men, who employ their talents for the instruction and benefit of the human race. The original word, * here translated wise, may be rendered teachers. They, who are not merely wise for themselves, but impart lessons of wisdom to others; who do what in thein lies to promote the rational improvement of their fellow men, and especially their eyerlasting salvation, shall be distinguished by peculiar honours in the celestial kingdom. They who are teachers of wisdom, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament ; and they who turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.
Having considered the character of the wise, let us contemplate, : II. Their future glory and felicity. It doth not vet appear what they shall be. The effect of that change, which death will produce in them, exceeds our comprehension. What those spiritual bodies will be, for. which their natural bodies will be changed, we know . * It is the same with that, rendered skilful, Daniel, 1.4; excepting its active form. This in the text answers to the Latin erudientes ; that, to cruditi.
not. What will be the precise mode of their existence, or what the exact nature of their happiness, is beyond the ken of mortals ; for eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things, which God hath prepared for them, who love him.
The figures, employed by the inspired writers to aid our conception of the heavenly state, lead us to believe, that it must exclude whatever obstructs the progress of the soul in knowledge and holiness, and whatever is hostile to its enjoyment; and that it must include whatever can contribute to its perfection and felicity. The figurative language of the prophet Daniel excites au. gust ideas of the felicity and glory of the saints. How splendid is the brightness of the firmament ! How radiant the lustre of the stars! Like that bright firmament, like those radiant stars, will the wise hereafter shine in the heavenly world. Our divine Lord, who spake as never man spake, uses a still stronger figure, for the illustration of the same truth. What object, in the visible creation of God, is comparable, for majesty and splendour, to the sun! Yet this is the image, selected by Christ, to illustrate the future glory and happiness of the saints. Having spoken of the separation of the righteous from the wicked at the end of the world, he adds these remarkable words : Then shall the righteous. shine forth, as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father.
How great will be the change in the bodies of the saints! How different will be the ethereal body from the earthly! Every gross particle will be excluded from it ; and, instead of impeding the soul, it will be perfectly adapted to promote its vigour, and accelerate its operations. Will the body be assimilated to the glorified body of Christ? What more can be necessa.