And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of your times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.
The general principle is, that wisdom or practical religion and knowledge are the best elements of the stability of any people, — the best defence of any nation, — and that irrespective of the difference between a nation under the ordinary providence of God, and one enjoying a theocracy.
I. CHRISTIANITY PROMOTES WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE. That Christianity promotes wisdom and knowledge we might conclude from facts which lie on the face of it, even before ascertaining the connection between the cause and the effect. We may assume Jesus Christ to be the living type of His own system, and He is the very impersonation of wisdom and knowledge. Then, wisdom and knowledge may be regarded as synonymous with practical Christianity. They are at least essential to its existence. We shall take them separately, and ascertain —
1. How the Gospel of Christ promotes wisdom, or that practical religion of which the fear and love of God are the principles. The God whom the Bible reveals is the fit object of reverence and love. The mere manifestation of the Divine character, however, invested with every possible perfection, is not enough to rekindle the flame of piety in a fallen world. It is otherwise with holy beings. But in our case the revelation is made to a race of apostates, partially acquainted with God, but estranged from Him in heart and will. Christianity provides, in the great facts through which it conveys the knowledge of God, the means of reducing men to contrition and restoring them to love. The Gospel is adapted to convert the soul. Any scheme whereby you would regenerate must contain a provision of mercy. And thus far the Gospel is adapted to produce practical piety. But this is not enough. The Gospel reveals a most glorious expedient for the vindication of the law, for the manifestation of the Divine righteousness, and of the demerit of sin, while it offers a free and eternal pardon. It opens the door of hope to the guiltiest criminal, but by the mode of doing it, it impresses his mind with a sense of his sinfulness, it moves him to repentance, and inspires him with all the zeal to obey that can arise from his conscious obligation to Divine grace.
2. Christianity promotes knowledge. Christianity contains the only true system of Divine knowledge. But further, Christianity promotes general knowledge. It is itself a system of truth and not of error, a system of knowledge and not of ignorance, a system of intelligence and not a mere bodily ceremonial or a dark superstition. The very commission it has received from heaven is, "Go and teach all nations." Revealing .God, it makes known the highest truths; and promotes and facilitates inquiry into every other. From this conviction we deduce principles which seem to possess all the simplicity of axioms. There cannot be any real contrariety between the doctrines of Christianity and the truths of reason or the facts of science.
II. BY PROMOTING WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE, CHRISTIANITY ESTABLISHES A PEOPLE. In support of the proposition before us, we might reason a fortiori Christianity, by promoting wisdom and knowledge, purifies and elevates society, — how much more will it establish or give the elements of perpetuity to society. Take society in any of its lowest states, and you will find Christianity an adequate power to raise it. For example, it is an acknowledged fact, that the Gospel makes men unfit for a state of slavery. If Christianity thus elevates, how much more will it establish! But what are the means of the stability of a nation — what the elements of perpetuity? Religion, virtue, freedom, and good order.
Parallel VersesKJV: And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.
WEB: There will be stability in your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of Yahweh is your treasure.