The Admonition of Wisdom
James Smith, 1855
"Turn at my reproof; behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you." Proverbs 1:23
The advice of a Father should always be received with reverence; especially if that father is remarkable for wisdom, experience, and love. Here the Holy Spirit speaks to us by a father — and that father, the wisest of men. Solomon addresses us as his children, and does so with affection, earnestness, and concern for our welfare.
But there is something peculiarly affecting, in the admonitions of a wise, kind-hearted, and venerable mother — and here wisdom assumes the character of a mother, and speaks to us with more than a mother's love. Both father and mother addresses us, "My son, hear the instruction of your father, and forsake not the law of your mother." A father teaches us — and a mother lays her commands upon us.
By wisdom we are not to understand a divine perfection — but a divine person. It is Jesus, the personal wisdom of God, who addresses us, and speaks to us with a mother's voice, with a mother's love. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in him. He is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. All things are delivered unto him by his Father, and he speaks to us and says, "Turn at my reproof; behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you."
What has he done?He has reproved us. He has reproved our past conduct. "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?" Simplicity here, is not artlessness or simple-mindedness — but sin. The simple one is not a simpleton — but a sinner. We have loved sin. We have lived in sin. We have enjoyed sin. We have had a greedy appetite for sin — drinking it in as the thirsty ox drinks in water. For this he has reproved us, and for this he still reproves.
So also, for scorning at his word, or treating it lightly, or with silent contempt. This we have done. We have laughed at some portions of it, tried to make ourselves witty with others, and treated the whole of it with unfitting neglect; and thus as fools we have hated knowledge.
We have refused the advice of Heaven, and rejected the
counsel of wisdom and love. He reproves our present course also — the way of
folly in which men in general are walking, which conducts to disgrace and
ruin. He has reproved us . . .
by his word, when we have read it;
by his ministers, when we have heard them;
by conscience, that inward monitor, when we have been obliged at times to listen to it;
and also by various dispensations of his wise and holy providence.
What does he require of us?That we turn at his reproof. We have turned our backs upon him, closed our ears to him, and daily wandered farther and farther from him. But he has not given us up. He has not cast us away. He still pursues us with his word, and overtakes us by his afflictive dispensations.
Every chapter we read,
every sermon we hear,
every pain we feel,
every loss we sustain,
and every funeral we see,
cries, "Turn at my reproof!"
Turn your face — look at me and listen to my word.
Turn your ear — attentively consider and receive my counsel.
Turn your feet — leave the way of sinners and enter on the path of life.
Turn your heart — give up the objects which engross and captivate it, and present it to me as my undeniable right.
Turn, and turn immediately; let there be no delay.
Turn, and turn heartily; let there be no reserve.
Turn, and turn completely; for half measures will never do.
"Turn at my reproof."
What does he promise?"Behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you."
What grace is manifested!
What condescension is displayed!
What sincerity is exhibited!
What certainty is here! There is no doubt, no
perhaps, no uncertainty. "Turn, and I will pour out my Spirit unto you."
I will pour it out upon you — as the plentiful rain upon the earth. I
will pour it out freely — as I give the refreshing showers of Heaven.
I will send the Holy Spirit directly from my throne, immediately from my
heart. I will give you my Spirit . . .
as the Spirit of wisdom — to teach you and make known my ways unto you;
as the Spirit of power — to enable you to do my will, and to strengthen you with strength in your souls;
as the Spirit of grace — to sanctify you, to teach you to pray, and to help your various infirmities;
as the Spirit of adoption — crying, "Abba, Father!" in your hearts, unfolding my paternal character, and making you happy in my love.
In a word — as the Spirit of love, power, and of a sound mind; to work in you both to will and to do of my own good pleasure. That as Jesus, is engaged to do everything without you which is necessary for salvation; so the Holy Spirit, shall do everything within you — making you his temple, his pleasant residence, and his home forever.
"I will also, make known my words unto you." I will unfold to you their meaning, making you wise unto salvation. I will apply them to your heart, and sanctify you through them. I will fulfill them in your experience, and you shall find them to be true and faithful. Not one jot or one tittle of them shall fail, until all has been fulfilled to you.
Well, friend, will you listen to this admonition? It is now, by the providence of God, addressed to you anew. God is at this moment speaking to you, His eye is upon you, his ear is open to you, he says, "Will you attend to it?" "Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live! And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David."
This may be a solemn crisis with you. From this moment,
God may say, "Let him alone!" "My spirit shall not always strive with man!"
Will you embrace the promise? It is placed fairly before you. It is within
your reach. It is a promise of just what you need, and of all
that you need. It is the promise of the Holy Spirit, whose province it is to
. . .
quicken the dead,
teach the ignorant,
help the feeble,
guide the perplexed,
comfort the sorrowful,
lead to the Savior,
apply the atonement, and
bear witness with our spirits that we are the children of God.
The Holy Spirit . . .
works penitence, and
sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts.
The Holy Spirit is the author of all true holiness, and inward religion. Without the Holy Spirit — you must perish; but receiving and possessing him — you are saved with an everlasting salvation.
But if you will not listen to the admonition, if you will not embrace the promise — then will you perish in your sins? This question is unnecessary, You Must! But perishing under your circumstances will be very dreadful. With wisdom admonishing you, with God promising his Holy Spirit to you. This is just your case. God says, "Turn at my reproof," and you must either turn — or insolently say, "I will not!" Do you dare do this? I would hold you to this point — you must turn, or die: you must obey God, or perish. Every excuse is now completely cut off.
You cannot plead weakness — for God promises you the Spirit of power off.
You cannot plead ignorance — for God promises you the Spirit of wisdom off.
You cannot plead unholiness — for God promises you the Spirit of grace.
You have no excuse. The way of life is set before you — therefore choose life that you may live. The way of death is set before you — avoid it that you may not die eternally. God is sincere. God is in earnest. God has made up his mind. He will not call back his word, and he has said in the following verses, which you cannot hear too often, or ponder too seriously if you are rejecting the truth. "But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke — I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you — when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes!" Proverbs 1:24-31
God now calls to you — will you refuse.
He stretches out his hand to you — will you disregard it?
He counsels you — will you ignore his counsel?
He reproves you — will you harden yourself against it?
If so, God will not pity you in your calamity; he will not sympathize with you in your fears; he will not appear for you in your distress and anguish. You may then call — but he will not answer. You may then earnestly seek — but you shall not find. You will then perish in your own deceivings, and throughout eternity the thought will sting your soul like an adder, "This is the fruit of my own way, this is the result of my own devices!"
If, therefore you have any fear of God,
if you have any dread of Hell,
if you have any love to yourself,
if any desire for eternal happiness —
then hear the Lord while he speaks,
attend while he warns and promises,
obey while he exhorts, "Turn at my reproof; behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you!"