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thee and men, and never be put out. Let the bread of life stand ever ready upon the pure and precious tables of our hearts. Lock up thy law and thy manna within us, and speak comfortably to us from thy mercy-seat. Suffer nothing to enter in hither that is unclean: sanctify us unto thyself, and be thou sanctified in us.
SOLOMON, AND THE QUEEN OF SHEBA.
God hath no use of the dark lanterns of secret and reserved perfections; we ourselves do not light up candles to put them under bushels. The great lights, whether of heaven or earth, are not intended to obscurity; but as to give light unto others, so to be seen themselves. Dan and Beersheba were two strait bounds for the fame of Solomon, which now hath flown over all lands and seas, and raised the world to an admiration of his more than human wisdom. Even so, O thou everlasting King of peace, thy name is great among the Gentiles ; there is no speech nor language, where the report of thee is not heard ; “ The sound of thee is gone forth through all the earth; thy name is an ointment poured out, therefore the virgins love thee.”
No doubt many from all coasts came to learn and wonder; none with so much note as this noble daughter of Cham, who herself deserves the next wonder to him whom she came to hear and admire ; that a woman, a princess, a rich and great queen, should travel from the remotest south, from Sheba, a region famous for the greatest delicacies of nature, to learn wisdom, is a matchless example. We know merchants that venture to either Indies for wealth ; others we know daily to cross the seas for wanton curiosity. Some
few philosophers we have known to have gone far for learning ; and, amongst princes, it is no unusual thing to send their ambassadors to far distant kingdoms, for transaction of businesses either of state or commerce : but that a royal lady should in person undertake and overcome so tedious a journey only to observe and inquire into the mysteries of nature, art, religion, is a thing past both parallel and imitation. Why do we think any labour great, or any way long, to hear a greater than Solomon? How justly shall the queen of the South rise up in judgment, and condemn us, who may hear wisdom crying in our streets, and neglect her!
Certainly so wealthy a queen, and so great a lover of wisdom could not want great scholars at home; them she had first opposed with her enigmatical demands; and now, finding herself unsatisfied, she betakes herself to this oracle of God. It is a good thing to doubt, better to be resolved: the mind that never doubts shall learn nothing; the mind that ever doubts shall never profit by learning. Our doubts only serve to stir us up to seek truth; our resolutions settle us in the truth we have found. There were no pleasure in resolutions, if we had not been formerly troubled with doubts; there were nothing but discomfort and disquietness in doubts, if it were not for the hope of resolution : it is not safe to suffer doubts to dwell too long upon the heart; there may be good use of them as passengers, dangerous as inmates; happy are we, if we can find a Solomon to remove them.
Fame, as it is always a blab, so oft-times a liar. The wise princess found cause to distrust so uncertain an informer, whose reports are still either doubtful or fabulous; and, like winds or streams, increase in passing. If very great things were not spoken of Solomon, fame should have wronged him; and, if but just rumours were spread of his wisdom, there needed much credulity to believe them. This great
queen would not suffer herself to be led by the cars, but comes in person to examine the truth of foreign relations. How much more unsafe is it, in the most important businesses of our souls, to trust the opinions and reports of others! Those ears and eyes are ill bestowed, that do not serve to choose and judge for their owners.
When we come to a rich treasure, we need not be bidden to carry away what we are able. This wise lady, as she came far for knowledge, so, finding the plenty of this vein, she would not depart without her full load; there was nothing wherein she would leave herself unsatisfied. She knew that she could not every day meet with a Solomon ; and therefore she makes her best use of so learned a master: now she empties her heart of all her doubts, and fills it with instruction. It is not good neglecting the opportunities of furnishing our souls with profitable, with saving knowledge. There is much wisdom in moving a question well, though there be more in assoiling it : what use do we make of Solomon's teacher, if sitting at the feet of Christ, we leave our hearts either ignorant or perplexed ?
As if the errand of this wealthy queen had been to buy wisdom, she came with her camels laden with gold and precious stones, and rich odours; though to a mighty king, she will not come to school emptyhanded; if she came to fetch an invaluable treasure, she finds it reason to give thanks unto him that kept it. As he is a fool that hath a price in his hand to get wisdom, and wants a heart, so is he unthankful, that hath a heart to get wisdom, and hath no price in his hand; a price not countervailable to what he seeks, but retributary to him, of whom he seeks. How shameful is it to come always with close hands to them that teach us the great mysteries of salvation !
Expectation is no better than a kind enemy to good deserts. We lose those objects which we over
look. Many had been admired, if they had not been overmuch befriended by fame; who now, in our judgment, are cast as much below their rank as they were fore-imagined above it. This disadvantage had wise Solomon with this stranger, whom rumour had bid to look for incredible excellences; yet so wonderful were the graces of Solomon, that they overcame the highest expectation, and the most liberal belief: so as when she saw the architecture of his buildings, the provisions of his tables, the order of his attendants, the religion of his sacrifices, she confessed both her unjust incredulity in not believing the report of his wisdom, and the injury of report, in understanding it. “ I believed not the words till I came, and mine eyes had seen it, and lo the one half was not told me.' Her eyes were more sure informers than her ears. She did not so much hear as see Solomon's wisdom in these real effects. His answers did not so much demonstrate it, as his prudent government. There are some whose speeches are witty, while their carriage is weak; whose deeds are incongruities, while their words are apophthegms. It is not worth the name of wisdom that may be heard only, and not seen. Good discourse is but the froth of wisdom ; the
pure and solid substance of it is in well-framed actions: “ If we know these things, happy are we if we do them.”
And if this great person admired the wisdom, the buildings, the domestic order of Solomon, and chiefly his stately ascent into the house of the Lord, how should our souls be taken up with wonder at thee, O thou true Son of David, and Prince of everlasting peace, who receivedst the Spirit not by measure ! who hast built this glorious house not made with hands, even the heaven of heavens! whose infinite providence hath sweetly disposed of all the family of thy creatures, both in heaven and earth ; and who, lastly, didst “ ascend up on high, and leddest captivity captive, and gavest gifts to men!"
So well had this studious lady profited by the lectures of that exquisite master, that now she envies, sine magnifies none but them who may live within the air of Solomon's wisdom: “ Happy are the men, and happy are thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom !" as if she could have been content to have changed her throne for the footstool of Solomon. It is not easy to conceive, how great a blessing it is to live under those lips which do both preserve knowledge, and utter it. If we
not glutted with good counsel, we should find no relish in any worldly contentment, in coinparison thereof: but he that is full, despiscth a honeycomb.
She, whom her own experience had taught how happy a thing it is to have a skilful pilot sitting at the stern of the state, blesseth Israel for Solomon, blesseth God for Israel, blesseth Solomon and Israel mutually in each other ; " Blessed be the Lord thy God which delighteth in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel. Because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king to do judgment and justice.” It was not more Solomon's advancemenť to be king of Israel, than it was the advancement of Israel to be governed by a Solomon. There is no earthly proof of God's love to any nation, comparable to the substitution of a wise and pious guvernor: to him we owe our peace, our life, and, which is deservedly dearer, the life of our souls, the Gospel. But, O God, how much hast thou loved thine Israel for ever, in that thou hast set over it that righteous branch of Jesse, whose name is, “ Wonderful, Counseller, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, in whose days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely! Sing, O heaven, and rejoice, O earth, and break forth into singing, mountains; for God hath comforted his people, and will have everlasting mercy upon his afflicted !"