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made the following excellent reflections, which are preserved in the Apocryphal Book, called the Book of WISDOM *.
Wisdom reacheth from one end to another mightily : and sweetly doth she order all things.
In that she is conversant with GOD, she magnifieth her nobility: yea, the LORD of all things Himself loved her. For she is privy to the mysteries of the knowledge of GOD, and a lover of His works.
If riches be a possession to be desired in this life: what is richer than wisdom that worketh all things?
And if prudence work, who of all that are, is a more cunning workman than she?
And if a man love righteousness, her labours are virtues, for she teacheth temperance and prudence, justice and fortitude, which are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in their life.
If a mun desire much experience, she knoweth things of old, and conjectureth aright what is to come: she knoweth the subtilties of speeches, and can expound dark sen☛ tences: she forseeth signs and wonders, and the events of seasons and times.
Therefore I purpose to take her to live with me, knowing that she will be a counsellor of good things, and a comfort in cares and grief.
For her sake I shall have estimation among the multitude, and honour with the elders, though I be young.
I shall be found of a quick conceit in judgment, and shall be admired in the sight of great men.
When I hold my tongue they shall bide my leisure ; and when I speak they shall give good ear unto me: if I talk much, they shall lay their hands upon their mouth.
* Wisdom of Solomon, viii. ix.
Moreover, by the means of her, I shall obtain immortality, and leave behind me an everlasting memorial to them that come after me.
I shall set the people in order, and the nations shall be subject unto me.
Horrible tyrants shall be afraid when they do but hear of me: I shall be found good among the multitude, and valiant in war.
After I am come into mine house, I will repose myself with her for her conversation hath no bitterness: and to live with her, hath no sorrow, but mirth and joy.
Now when I considered these things in myself, and pondered them in mine heart, how that to be allied unto wisdom, is immortality.
And great pleasure it is to have her friendship; and in the works of her hands are infinite riches, and in the exercise of conference with her, prudence; and in talking with her, a good report: I went about seeking how to take her to me.
Nevertheless, when I perceived that I could not otherwise obtain her, except GOD gave her me, (and that was a point of wisdom also to know whose gift she was) I prayed unto the LORD, and besought him, and with my whole heart I said:
O GOD of my fathers, and LORD of mercy, who hast made all things with thy word,
And ordained man through thy wisdom, that he should have dominion over the creatures which thou hust made. And order the world according to equity and righteousness, and execute judgment with an upright heart.
Give me wisdom that sitteth upon Thy throne, and reject me not from among Thy children:
For I thy servant and son of Thine handmaid, am a feeble person, and of a short time, and too young for the understanding of judgment and laws.
For though a man be never so perfect among the children
of men; yet if Thy wisdom be not with him, he shall be nothing regarded.
Thou hast chosen me to be a king of Thy people, and a judge of Thy sons and daughters:
Thou hast commanded me to build a temple upon Thy holy mount, and an altar in the city wherein Thou dwellest, a resemblance of the holy tabernacle which Thou hast prepared from the beginning.
And wisdom was with Thee: which knoweth Thy works, and was present when Thou madest the world, and knew what was acceptable in Thy sight, and right in Thy commandments.
O send her out of Thy holy heavens, and from the throne of Thy glory, that being present she may labour with me, that I may know what is pleasing unto Thee.
For she knoweth and understandeth all things, and she shall lead me soberly in my doings, and preserve me in her power.
So shall my works be acceptable, and then shall I judge Thy people righteously, and be worthy to sit in my father's seat.
For what man is he that can know the counsel of GOD? or who can think what the will of the LORD is?
For the thoughts of mortal men are miserable, and our devices are but uncertain.
For the corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that mu→ seth upon many things.
And hardly do we guess aright at things that are upon earth, and with labour do we find the things that are before us: but the things that arein heaven who hath searched out? And Thy counsel who hath known, except Thou give wisdom, and send Thy Holy Spirit from above?
For so the ways of them which lived on the earth were reformed; and men were taught the things that are pleasing unto Thee, and were saved through wisdom.
Such we may reasonably conclude were Solomon's meditations, and such was his prayer, when he retired to rest at Gibeon; and as his prayer was perfectly consistent with the Divine will, it pleased the LORD to keep the faculties of his UNDERSTANDING awake by a miraculous power, after his SENSES were in respect to worldly affairs locked up in sleep; by which means Solomon retained the IDEAS that had before occupied his mind, and continued his devotions in the manner related in the scripture part of this section (which is exactly to the same effect), on which it pleased the ALMIGHTY to appear to him. When Solomon awaked, he was satisfied in respect to the reality of this vision which must have been very different from a common dream; nor could he possibly mistake it, for, without doubt, those appearances by which Godmanifested his DIVINE PRESENCE, were very different from any thing that the creation furnishes to our view, or the most lively imagination can conceive. We read indeed of God's appearing in fire, in a cloud, in the human form, &c. but we find that the DEITY was always displayed by some circumstance which served to distinguish the CREATOR from the creature.
Solomon was farther convinced by the enlargement of his capacity, that the LORD had granted the desire of his heart; for he was not only endued with abilities to discharge the duties of his exalted station, but with astonishing knowledge of the whole circle of human arts and sciences; and as a farther reward for his proper request, and encouragement to him to keep in the path of WISDOM, the LORD Vouchsafed to renew the covenant He had formerly made in his name with DAVID.
The WISDOM for which Solomon prayed was a power to discern between good and bad, that he might be enabled:
Wisdom of Solomon, vii.
to act, on all occasions, conformably to the rules of piety and justice: this wisdom he received by the im mediate inspiration of God; but even the humblest christian may now attain it by the study of the SCRIPTURES; for Solomon, and other inspired men, were taught the will of the LORD not merely for their own sakes, but that they might teach it to all who are desirous of knowing it. That we may judge of the value of WIS DOM, it will be proper, before we proceed in the history, to consider in what it principally consisted, and how highly it was prized by Solomon.
KING SOLOMON'S INSTRUCTIONS CONCERNING THE VALUE OF TRUE WISDOM.
From Proverbs, Chap. iv. viii.
HEAR, ye children, the instructions of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake you not my law.
I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother; he taught me also, and said unto me, let thy heart retain my words, keep my commandments and live.
Get wisdom, get understanding: forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee; she shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
Wisdom is better than rubies: and all the things that can be desired, are not to be compared to it.
Be not wise in thine own eyes : fear the LORD, and depart from evil. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the HOLY is understanding. The fear of the LORD is to kate evil, pride, and arrogancy. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart ; and lean not to