Luke 7:35


Whatever might have been expected to be the case, the fact is that wisdom has received but poor and sad treatment from the children of men. We perceive, without any search for it -

I. ITS REJECTION BY THE WORLD.

1. Up to the time of the coming of our Lord. The Eternal Wisdom uttered its voice by the constitution and course of nature, by the human reason and conscience, by occasional revelation. But that voice was unheard or unheeded. Few, indeed, in every age and land recognized and obeyed it in comparison with the vast multitudes that remained in ignorance and folly. The heavens declared the glory of God, but men knew not the hand Divine that moved the stars in their course. "The candle of the Lord" was kindled, and it shone within the soul, but men hid it under the bushel of their unholy habits and their perverting prejudices. Through those long, dark ages Wisdom spake, and (it might be almost said that) "no man regarded."

2. The coming of Christ. He who was the very "Wisdom of God" himself, he who was "the Truth," dwelt amongst us; and "he was despised and rejected of men." Those who should have been the first to appreciate and to welcome him were the first to dislike and to denounce him. "He came unto his own, and his own received him not."

3. From that time to our own day. Divine Wisdom, speaking in the gospel of Christ, has been summoning men to reconciliation with God, to peace, to virtue, to sacred joy, to immortal blessedness; and the world, upon the whole, has turned to it a deaf ear, has gone on its own way of folly, has refused to walk in its light, and to receive its benediction. If. ITS RECOGNITION BY ITS OWN SONS.

1. There were some in the dark days before Christ who heard and heeded the voice of God. These may have been more numerous than we have supposed. "In every nation he that feared God and wrought righteousness was accepted of him." There may have been - we may rightly hope that there were - great numbers of the "children of wisdom" who recognized its voice and obeyed its teaching.

2. When our Saviour came there were those who recognized his voice and responded to it. Many of these were women, many of them "little ones," despised by the authorities of their day. They did not think him "possessed," nor charge him with self-indulgence (vers 33 34); they perceived in him a Divine Teacher, a true Friend, a gracious Saviour, and they "rose and followed him;" then, indeed, was "Wisdom justified of all her children."

3. Throughout these Christian ages the same truth has held. The psalmist prays, "Do good unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts" (Psalm 125:4). And while it is true that men of the most perverse and froward spirit may be so mightily affected by Divine power and grace that the truth of God breaks through the thickest armour of opposition, yet is it generally true that it is only they who have the spirit of wisdom in them - "the children of wisdom" - who enter the kingdom of truth and righteousness. "Only the good discern the good," writes one of our truest poets and deepest thinkers. It is only they who are sincere seekers after the truth who reach the goal. It is "to the upright that there ariseth light in the darkness;" it is to the pure and the upright and the merciful that God shows himself to be such, and by them is seen to be such (Psalm 112:4; Psalm 18:25, 26). We cannot see the wisdom, the faithfulness, the kindness, the mercy of God, while our hearts are wrong with him. But when we ourselves are right with God, and we have so much of the spirit of goodness in us that we may be called the children of wisdom, then God's dealings with our race, with our Church, with our family, with ourselves, are recognized as the just and kind and faithful things they are, and in our experience "Wisdom is justified of all her children."

(1) We need not be surprised if God's manifestations of himself in his Son or in his providence are misinterpreted. That is to be expected in the case of the children of error.

(2) If we are pining and complaining under the hand of God, and are supposing ourselves ill treated, we may be sure that what is needed by us is not something done for us, but a change wrought within us. For that we must seek in humility and in prayer. - C.









But wisdom is Justified of all her children.
We trace the truth and the applicability of this saying —

I. IN THE DIFFERENT FIELDS OF PURELY HUMAN INTEREST AND STUDY. Each subject that engages the attention of man has a wisdom, that is to say, governing principles, methods, modes of thought and inquiry — in short, a philosophy peculiar to its own. Those who have mastered this wisdom even in part are prepared for results which are startling or absurd in the eyes of others who are strangers to it.

II. IN THE REGION OF HUMAN CHARACTER. That which enables us to do justice to character is sympathy with it.

III. IN REGARD TO THE CHRISTIAN CREED. Here, too, it is clear, upon reflection, that "wisdom is justified of her children." The word "wisdom" in our Lord's mouth had a special significance. His more instructed hearers would recognize in it an ancient and consecrated word (see Proverbs 8.). This Eternal Wisdom, born of a virgin in the fulness of time, crucified, bruised, risen, ascended, is at once the Teacher, and in the main the substance, of the Christian creed. Two practical lessons:

1. Nothing is so fatal to the recognition of moral and religious truth as a scornful temper.

2. Wisdom may and must be won by prayer.

(Canon Liddon.)

"Justified" means acquitted, recognized, or acknowledged. "Of" means "by." And Christ says, "Wisdom is recognized by her children." The wisdom of a Divine life had appeared in two forms — ascetic in John the Baptist, social in Christ. The world recognized it in neither. In John they said it was insanity; in Christ worldliness and irreligion. To the world Christ replies that they were incompetent judges. None could recognize the Divine life but those who lived it; none justify wisdom except her children. The Divine life was always the same, but it expressed itself outwardly in no special single form of life. Wisdom, under whatever form she might appear — the life of asceticism or the life social — would be justified or recognized by her children.

I. THE TONE OF MIND WHICH CAPACITATES FOR JUDGING HUMAN CHARACTER. By sympathy alone can you judge of character. This is the doctrine of the metaphor. A mother, changing her garb, may be mistaken by strangers, but under every metamorphosis she is recognized by her children, who know her voice by the secret tact of sympathy. Would you judge of Christ? Feel Christ. "Learn to love one living man."

II. THE TONE OF MIND WHICH INCAPACITATES, AND THE HINDRANCES TO RIGHT JUDGMENT OF HUMAN CHARACTER.

1. The habit of insincere praise incapacitates for forming a right judgment of character. During the life of Jesus the Pharisees and Sadducees alike flattered Him. To their unreal flatteries He returned indignant replies: "Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites?"

2. A light, satirical, and irreverent spirit also incapacitates. See how ribaldry unfitted them for judging, and how even a Divine character could be made to seem ridiculous! That such cannot judge of character is intelligible. One reason is —

(1)Because excellence of character is not shown them; and another,

(2)because this spirit withers all it touches.

3. Jealousy incapacitates for forming a right judgment. The scribes were jealous of Christ, because His teaching was on a principle different from theirs; the Pharisees, because His righteousness was of a different stamp. Joseph's brethren, Haman — examples of jealousy.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)Life's gladness, its joy, its humour, and its mirth, are sometimes stumbling-blocks to "serious" people. Wisdom's children, in the main, we charitably and devoutly hope they are, but none the less we see in them a touch and trick of the children in the market-place. There is a foolish seriousness, and there is a wise mirth. How often do we see pathos and humour, tears and laughter, rapidly following each other, even joining and blending in the person of some strong, wise man, whom we can both respect and love; while the stolid people, who pride themselves upon their "seriousness," too dull for mirth, are amongst the most unlovable. Robert Hall was conspicuous for the blending in his fine nature of the pathos and humour that we speak of. On one occasion, when he had preached a most solemn and pathetic discourse, and was followed in the evening by a "serious" brother, when the day's work was done, he was as witty as he was wise, mirthful and jocund, and the cause of wit in others. The "serious" brother at length remonstrated. "Mr. Hall, I am surprised at you, sir, after the solemn discourse you preached this morning, that you should trifle as you are doing now." "Are you, sir," replied Mr. Hall; ,' shall I tell you the difference between you and me, sir? You talk your nonsense in the pulpit, I talk mine out of it." A bit of sound philosophy l for the bent spring when released will recoil, and where the mind of a man has been wrought up to the highest tension, the reaction, by God's great mercy, comes as one of the conservators of the forces of life. And herein, also, is wisdom justified of her children.

(J W. Lance.)

I. THAT WISDOM IS COMPATIBLE WITH VARIOUS WAYS OF LIFE.

II. THAT WISDOM IS NOT A TIME-SERVER, SEEKING TO PLEASE THE WORLD BY FOLLOWING ITS FASHION. Many men, many minds. It is hard to please all, and best not to try. Following fashion is wearisome, for fashion changes fast.

(A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

I. WE HAVE HERE A CONTRAST PRESENTED. On the one side the perverseness and waywardness of man; on the other side the sympathy of wisdom with wisdom; the kindred and affinity which exists between the voice of God in His Word and the voice of God in the heart and conscience of His creatures.

II. THE WAYWARDNESS OF WHICH OUR LORD HERE SPEAKS IS MORE OR LESS IN ALL OF US.

III. THE MOST DISTRESSING OF IT IS THAT IN WHICH IT RUNS ON INTO THE AFFAIRS OF THE SOUL.

(Dean Vaughan.)

They whose hearts are softened by a true self-knowledge, and enlightened by a real communion with God; they who are wise in that wisdom of which the condition is humility, and the beginning the fear of the Lord, will see wisdom in that which to the caviller is folly, will recognize a Divine harmony where all is discord to the self-confident, and own an abundance of resource worthy of the All-wise and the All-merciful, in that variety of evidence which affords to different minds and, perhaps, to different ages of the world, their appropriate, as well as conclusive, reason for believing. The very things which others calumniate are to them indications of wisdom. They see how the message of the Baptist and the habits of the Baptist — the office of the Saviour and the life of the Saviour — are severally harmonious and of a piece.

(Dean Vaughan.)

The union of good men is internal, though there may be outward differences. The union of selfish men may be external, but there are always inward differences. The children of folly may unite for a common purpose, may be allied together as Herod and Pilate were allied against Christ. Pirates may join for plunder; the children of this world, for power, pleasure, and earthly gain, But there is no inward union, and, as soon as the outward advantage of the alliance ceases, the partnership is dissolved. But good men, though separated outward-y, are inwardly at one. They belong to one invisible and indivisible Church. By and by they shall come together outwardly, and see eye to eye. The inevitable logic of faith and reason shall at last unite them, and then "wisdom shall be justified of all her children." John the Baptist will understand Christ; Barnabas will comprehend Paul: Fenelon and Martin Luther, and , Dr. Channing and Dr. Beecher, will recognize each other's worth, and bless God together for what each has accomplished for the kingdom of heaven. So shall wisdom be at last justified of all her children. So shall all good men, sincerely desiring to do right, be found at last to be walking together on the same road towards the best things. Wisdom is not sectarian nor bigoted; she has a large Church, and many children, and is justified of them all.

(James Freeman Clarke.)

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