"Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter end." Proverbs 19:20
What lessons we need day by day to teach us anything aright, and how it is for the most part "line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little." O what slow learners, what dull, forgetful scholars, what ignoramuses, what stupid blockheads, what stubborn pupils! Surely no scholar at a school, old or young, could learn so little of natural things as we seem to have learned of spiritual things after so many years instruction, so many chapters read, so many sermons heard, so many prayers put up, so much talking about religion. How small, how weak is the amount of growth compared with all we have read and heard and talked about.
But it is a mercy that the Lord saves whom he will save, and that we are saved by free grace, and free grace alone, through the blood and righteousness of the Son of God. "He of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption;" so that if we have him we have everything, and if we have him not we have nothing. Where these things are felt they will cause exercise of soul, with many prayers and supplications to the God of all our mercies; and all this will strip and empty us of that light, superficial, and flimsy profession which seems so current in our day.
"There are many devices in a man"s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand." Proverbs 19:21
A man in his fleshly mind is generally devising some method or other whereby he may escape a practical subjection to the gospel; some way or other whereby he may escape walking in the path of self-denial and mortification of the flesh, and the crucifixion of "the old man with the affections and lusts." He is generally seeking some way or other to indulge the flesh, and yet, at the same time, to stand in gospel liberty—to have everything that can gratify his carnal mind, and, at the same time, have a well-grounded hope of eternal life.
But the Lord says, "No, these two things are not compatible; he that shall live with Christ must die with Christ; he that shall reign with Christ must suffer with Christ; he that shall wear the crown must carry the cross." Song of Solomon, that whatever devices there be in a man"s heart, or whatever ways and plans he shall undertake to bring his devices to pass, "the counsel of the Lord still shall stand." Divine sovereignty shall fulfill that which divine sovereignty has appointed, and the purposes of God shall stand upon the ruins of the purposes of the creature.
And it is our mercy (so far as we are children of the living God), it is our mercy, that it should be so. Where would we have been this moment, if the devices in our hearts had succeeded? We would have been in hell. Where would we have been, since the Lord has been pleased, as we trust, to quicken our souls into spiritual life, if all our devices had succeeded? Our "eyes would have stood out with fatness," and we would have "had more than heart could wish." We would have been now, if the Lord had left us to our own devices, indulging in some dreadful temptation, or already have disgraced our name before the Church of God; or, if we had escaped that, we would have only a name to live, while our hearts were secretly dead before God; have had "a form of godliness, while we inwardly or outwardly denied the power thereof."
And therefore it is our mercy that the devices of our hearts should not stand, but that "the counsel of the Lord" should prevail over all the purposes of our base nature. When a man is brought to the right spot, and is in a right mind to trace out the Lord"s dealings with him from the first, he sees it was a kind hand which "blasted his gourds and laid them low;" it was a kind hand that swept away his worldly prospects, which reduced him to natural as well as to spiritual poverty, which led him into exercises, trials, sorrows, griefs, and tribulations; because, in those trials he has found the Lord, more or less, experimentally precious. Jacob found it so; he blessed the Lord for the path he had led him in. Though his days had been few and evil, he could see how the Lord had "fed him all his life long unto that day," amid all the changing vicissitudes through which he had passed in body and soul; and he blessed that hand which had guided him through that difficult way, and yet brought him to a "city of habitation."
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Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Proverbs 19". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. https://pro.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany