“On the Wisdom of God” is taken from the June 1810 issue of the Baptist Magazine, page 338. Though the language is somewhat antique, this wonderful statement of orthodox theology from an early Baptist magazine is a great encouragement. Please take the time to read and consider it.
On the Wisdom of God
He hath abounded towards us in all Wisdom. Ephes. i, 8.
Knowledge is the certain perception of things, with their circumstances. Wisdom is discovered in the proper disposition of them, and in the choice of means suitable for their government and destination. The Wisdom of God has been distinguished into speculative and practical. His speculative Wisdom judges and determines the relation of means to their respective ends, and the value and importance of those ends with respect to himself: and his practical Wisdom fixes his own choice in a manner agreeable to such right views; so that his own greatest glory and happiness may be effectually maintained.
His own glory and felicity are the most worthy ends the divine Being can have in view. For though they rest on a basis too firm, and are exalted on a throne too high to be increased by creature adoration, or diminished by creature blasphemy; yet doubtless God delights in certain modes of operation which are harmonized to the display of his perfections among his creatures: and were it possible that a contrary disposition of things should exist, it would occasion his great displeasure. The divine Wisdom is principally set forth in the choice of the greatest and most worthy end, and in the adoption of the very best means for its attainment. As Himself is the first and greatest of all Beings, his own glory and bliss is the grandest object to which infinite wisdom can be applied. The Wisdom of God therefore insures the adoption of such a course of proceedings as will most certainly promote that exalted end.
We may contemplate the divine Wisdom as necessary in its existence. How great is God! All created being sinks into nothing and vanity before him! Myriads of creatures of all classes exist everywhere around us, but we cannot say of any one, or of any thousand of them, that their existence is necessary. They might or might not have been, just as it had pleased God. Of all the splendid orbs that adorn the heavens, not one exists by necessity: their light might be blotted out with as much ease as it was first kindled up by the divine command. Unnumbered millions of holy and happy spirits dwell in glory, but their existence is entirely by the sovereign will of Him who said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM. God alone exists by necessity: and we must not conceive of his Wisdom as a qualification added to his Nature; it is properly part of himself. When we speak of the Power, the Justice, and the Love of God, we intend to convey an idea of the divine Essence acting powerfully, righteously, and graciously. So by the Wisdom of God, we mean the divine Essence acting wisely. His Wisdom is as necessary as his Existence; as he cannot but be God, so he cannot but be wise.
How do all our thoughts sink enfeebled beneath the glory of this Wisdom! There was a time when the most profound philosopher was destitute of those powers which exalt him above the vulgar: he had once no knowledge of causes and effects. There was a period when his mind began to expand, and every year witnessed some new and delightful progress in his combining and comparing ideas. The period also advances when the vigor of his intellect will be impaired, and all his mental energies fade as a leaf. But the Wisdom of God had no commencement, makes no progress (for it cannot be increased,) nor will it ever be subject to decay. He never began to collect ideas, or to make deductions by comparing or combining them. From everlasting he possessed all the treasures of Wisdom that can neither admit of improvement or diminution.
No Abyss is so profound as the Subject of our present contemplation. The great Apostle, when regarding it merely in one particular instance, exclaimed, 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! Wherever we look, whatever we examine, we behold its divine Impression. It blooms in every tint, it breathes in every odour, it shines in every object, it speaks in every sound. The dry land, the sea, the clouds, the air, and the heavens all declare that God is great in counsel. Who can comprehend an Intelligence which regards the Universe as one grand whole, and at the same instant disposes of its minutest particles–which alike expands the mind of a philosopher and limits the information of a peasant–which imparts wisdom to statesmen, and appoints the destinies of kingdoms; and at the same time regulates the affairs of a family, and suffers not a sparrow to fall unnoticed to the ground–which while it regulates the movements of the sun and of all the orbs in every sphere, teaches the ant also to gather in her store for the winter?
The Wisdom of God, and its glory as set forth in the works of creation, of providence, and of grace, must ever remain incomprehensible to a finite mind. Let a watch be put into the hands of an infant, show him the barrel, the chain, the wheels, the fusee, the balance, and the prompter; let him guess the manner in which these parts act on each other, and what will be the result of their movements; he will very soon decline the task of unveiling the purpose of its maker, his little mind will shrink from its examination. Such a machine is the Universe; and all finite intelligence is but like an infant gazing ignorantly thereon. Indeed we are in a situation vastly inferior to the infant to whom we just now presented all the parts of a watch. Our observations are far from embracing the immensity of the Universe. We do but discern, as it were, one wheel, or rather a very small portion of one of the wheels of this vast machine. And dare we arraign the Wisdom of the great Contriver? What should we think of a man, who having observed a part of one of the wheels connected with the grandest display of human effort in the use of mechanical powers, should condemn the propriety of the whole? Yet of greater folly are mortals guilty when they hazard a censure on the works or ways of God, speaking evil of the things which they understand not.
God is the great Supreme; and all his works, in all places of his dominions, are directed by Wisdom that cannot err. He alone comprehends his own reasons for what he does. The whole series of all events, the past, the present, and the future, are ever before him. He sees what dependence one event will have upon another, and what relation each bears to the whole. He perceives at once all his vast designs, and their harmonious adaptation to the great end that engages his attention. Nevertheless we are highly favoured with discoveries suited to our condition, and calculated to promote our happiness. It is verily true that God hath abounded to us in all Wisdom.
We may read the Wisdom of God in the appearances of Nature. To what a vast diversity of forms has it given birth, in beasts, birds, fishes, insects, reptiles, trees, and plants, found in the earth and in the water. What an endless variety of flowers, herbs, and fruits adorn and enrich our fields! How multiplied are their hues, their odors, and their tastes; and how manifold their uses. Notwithstanding the tendency of sin to degrade and to destroy, we yet discern astonishing harmony in the natural world. The vast bodies which appear to us scattered in wild confusion over the expanse of heaven, move regularly in their orbits without producing any disorder by their various influences. Their amazing systems revolve at such immeasurable distances, that they do not interfere with each other. Around the sun, the centre of our system, the earth and the planets roll. Such as are near him are fitted to bear the heat of his rays; and the more distant are provided with moons for compensation. Notwithstanding the rapidity of their revolutions, the things on their surfaces are not disturbed. On our Earth we perceive all things suited to their uses; adapted to give life and comfort to the creatures of God. We behold this on a grand scale in the great deep, which affords vapour to water the earth; this is exhaled by the sun, leaving its salt behind; for though saltness is necessary to preserve the water of the sea from putrifaction, and so filling the world with death, yet salt water from the clouds would be a serious evil. The winds also purify the air, temperate the heat, disperse the clouds, and facilitate navigation. On a lesser scale, we perceive in our own bodies, that the eye, the ear, the hand, the foot, are most admirably adapted to the purposes intended. Great and marvellous are thy works, O God, in Wisdom hast thou created them all.
The Wisdom of God is discovered in controlling moral evil. Sin in itself tended to supplant the divine Glory; but his Wisdom overrules all its discordant sounds to promote the most perfect harmony. He had never suffered so great an evil to enter the world, unless to answer some wise end. Sin is attended by pride, ambition, lust, anger, malice, murder, diseases, and death; yet God so controls this hydra evil, that he takes occasion therefrom to display his patience, to shew his compassion, to set forth his love, to magnify his purity, and to exalt his glory, in them that are saved and in them that perish. On this awful stage has God exhibited his Wisdom and Prudence, that every holy being may contemplate it and adore.
The Wisdom of God shines especially in the method of our Redemption. The whole Doctrine of the cross is emphatically the Wisdom of God. Here justice is satisfied, guilt is forgiven, enmity is removed, the soul saved, and all the Glory belongs to God. By the crucifixion of Jesus the Jews were disappointed, their enmity did but fulfil the counsel of God. In this scene the powers of darkness seemed to triumph, the designs of hell appeared successful; but this was the death-stroke to infernal schemes. Thus he spoiled principalities and powers.
The Wisdom of God is further manifest in the Experience of his People. The various methods of their conversion; the salutary effects of his dispensations, the whole tending to lead the soul to Christ, and to establish His throne in the heart; their afflictions; their defects; their temptations; their trials; and their triumphs, all exemplify divine Wisdom watching over them for good.
Under the considerations that have been suggested we are called to pay the utmost deference to the Wisdom of God; to consider His institutions and appointments in all things to be right; and to inscribe folly on all ways that are opposed to his revealed will. On this subject there is a pleasing anticipation to be indulged; what we know not the meaning of now, we shall know hereafter. Our minds shall be enlarged for the contemplation of this glorious perfection, our anxious enquiries shall all be satisfied, and the increase of our knowledge shall add to our felicity.