Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
Wisdom is represented as making a public appearance in a rude, ignorant, and corrupt world, loudly proclaiming her doctrines and counsels, and calling upon all men to hearken to them. What consideration could be more powerful to engage their attention than this, that she speaketh of "excellent things": the opening of her lips is of "right things," and her mouth speaketh "truth." I propose to show that this is the just character of the instructions and precepts of religious virtue.
I. THE EXCELLENCE OF THE DOCTRINES AND INJUNCTIONS OF WISDOM, ABSOLUTELY AND IN THEMSELVES. We must fix an idea of excellence, making it the standard whereby to try everything which pretendeth to that character. There must be some common and plain rule wherein all men are agreed, and which must have so deep a foundation in nature as the necessary invariable determination of our minds. If you suppose the character of excellent and right to be the result of arbitrary human constitutions, it would never be uniform. But our notions of excellent and right are before the consideration of all laws, appointments, orders, and instructions whatsoever; for we bring all these to the test in our own minds, and try them by a sense which we have prior to any of them. Nor does this sense depend on any positive declaration of God's will. The original idea of excellence is essential to our nature. It is one of those perceptions to which we are necessarily determined when the object fitted to excite it is presented to us. There is a test, or power of discerning, in the mind. And this discerns the excellency of religious things. Set right and true against their opposites, in any case wherein you are competent judges, and you will see to which of them your own minds must necessarily give the preference. There is eternal truth in all God's testimonies; they are founded on self-evident maxims.
II. COMPARE THE DOCTRINES AND PRECEPTS OF WISDOM WITH OTHER THINGS WHICH ARE MOST VALUED BY MAN, AND SHOW THEIR SUPERIOR WORTH. That wisdom is better than rubies, pearls, or whatever else can be described in this world, is shown —
1. In that none of them come up to the character of excellence before insisted on, and which must be attributed to wisdom. They all have only a limited and relative worth.
2. The most precious treasures of this world are not valued but with some regard to virtue, but religious wisdom is necessarily esteemed excellent independently of them, and without any manner of regard to them.
3. The things of this world, which rival wisdom in our esteem, have many inconveniences attending the acquisition and use of them, which do not affect this invaluable possession. Application:(1)We should hear the counsels of wisdom, make it our choice, and use our utmost endeavours to attain it.
(2) We should entertain our minds with the excellency of wisdom as a very agreeable contemplation.
(3) The excellence of wisdom should affect the characters of men in our esteem, and regulate our regards to them.
(J. Abernethy, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
WEB: Hear, for I will speak excellent things. The opening of my lips is for right things.