"To you, O men, I call out, and my cry is to the sons of men.
I. THE PROCLAMATION OF TRUTH HAS NEVER FAILED IN THE WORLD. The cry is coeval with the world, with the conscience of man. The preacher has an institution second to none in antiquity and in honour.
II. THE PREACHER MUST RE CONSPICUOUS TO AND AUDIBLE BY ALL. (Vers. 2, 3.) On raised ground, in lonely paths (ver. 2), in the open air, in the field and forest; and. (ver. 3) in the towns and cities, at the places of public resort and traffic, at the gates in the Orient, in the centre of Western cities, the preacher's voice has been beard. All eminent teachers in books are truly agents of Wisdom, and heralds of the kingdom of God.
III. THE SUBSTANCE OF TRUE PREACHING MUST BE THE SAME IN EVERY AGE.
1. It is human (ver. 3), and therefore intelligible, rational, practical.
2. It is especially addressed to inexperience - to the foolish and the thoughtless (see on Proverbs 1:4).
3. It deals with clear and manifest truth (see Hitzig's reading of ver. 6), and so commends itself to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
4. It is disinterested, free from sophistry and compromise (ver. 7).
5. It is just - correct and accurate in knowledge of human nature and of Divine things (ver. 8). And thus it is:
6. Acceptable and irresistible by the "honest and good heart" (ver. 9). - J.
Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
I. THE VOICE OF WISDOM.— THAT IS OF MORAL AND RELIGIOUS TRUTH — SPEAKS TO US FROM THE UNIVERSE. Nature everywhere testifies to the infinity of its Author. It proclaims a perfection illimitable, unsearchable, transcending all thought and utterance. There is an impenetrable mystery in every action and force of the universe that envelops our daily existence with wonder, and makes sublime the familiar processes of the commonest arts. How astonishingly does nature differ in her modes of production from the works of human skill. In nature, vibrating with motion, where is the moving-energy? What and whence is that principle called life—life, that awful power, so endlessly various in the forms it assumes—life that fills earth, air, and sea with motion, growth, activity, and joy—life that enlivens us—what is it? An infinite universe is each moment opened to our view. And this universe is the sign and symbol of infinite power, intelligence, purity, bliss, and love. It is a pledge from the living God of boundless and endless communications of happiness, truth, and virtue. A spiritual voice pervades the universe, which is all the more eloquent because it is spiritual, because it is the voice in which the All-Wise speaks to all intelligences.
II. THE VOICE OF WISDOM UTTERS ITSELF FROM THE WORLD OF MORAL AND INTELLIGENT BEINGS, THE HUMANITY OF WHICH WE EACH FORM A PART. This topic is immense, for the book of human nature has no end. New pages are added to it every day through successive generations. Take one great lesson, which all history attests — that there is in human nature an element truly Divine, and worthy of all reverence; that the Infinite which is mirrored in the outward universe is yet more brightly imaged in the inward spiritual world or, in other words, that man has powers and principles, predicting a destiny to which no bounds can be prescribed, which are full of mystery, and even more incomprehensible than those revealed through the material creation.
1. They who disparage human nature do so from ignorance of one of the highest offices of wisdom. The chief work of Wisdom consists in the interpretation of signs. The great aim is to discern what the visible present signifies, what it foreshows, what is to spring from it, what is wrapped up in it as a germ. This actual world may be defined as a world of signs. What we see is but the sign of what is unseen. In life an event is the prophetic sign and forerunner of other coming events. Of human nature we hardly know anything but signs. It has merely begun its development.
2. In estimating human nature most men rest in a half-wisdom, which is worse than ignorance. They who speak most contemptuously of man tell the truth, but only half the truth. Amidst the passions and selfishness of men the wise see another element — a Divine element, a spiritual principle. Half-wisdom is the root of the most fatal prejudice. Man, with all his errors, is a wonderful being, endowed with incomprehensible grandeur, worthy of his own incessant vigilance and care, worthy to be visited with infinite love from heaven. The Infinite is imaged in him more visibly than in the outward universe. This truth is the central principle of Christianity. What is the testimony of human life to the Divine in man? Take the moral principle. What is so common as the idea of right? The whole of human life is a recognition in some way or other of moral distinctions. And no nation has existed, in any age, that has not caught a glimpse at least of the great principles of right and wrong. The right is higher altogether in its essential quality than the profitable, the agreeable, the graceful. It is that which must be done though all other things be left undone, that which must be gained though all else be lost. Every human being is capable of rectitude. The power of resisting evil exists in every man, whether he will exercise it or not. The principle of right in the human heart reveals duty to the individual. Here, then, we learn the greatness of human nature. This moral principle — the supreme law in man — is the law of the universe. Then man and the highest beings are essentially of one order. It is a joyful confirmation of faith thus to find in the human soul plain signatures of a Divine principle, to find faculties allied to the attributes of God, faculties beginning to unfold into God's image, and presages of an immortal life. And such views of human nature will transform our modes of relationship, communication, and association with our fellow-beings. They will exalt us into a new social life. They will transform our fellowship with God. How little we know ourselves! How unjust are we to ourselves! We need a new revelation — not of heaven or hell — but of the Spirit within ourselves.
(W. E. Channing, D. D.)
Homilist.I. IT IS A VOICE STRIVING FOR THE EAR OF ALL.
II. IT IS A VOICE WORTHY OF THE EAR OF ALL.
1. Her communications are perfect.
2. They are intelligible.
6. Original. What Divine Wisdom gives is undeniably uuborrowed.
I. THE SPEAKER.
II. THE OBJECT HE HAS IN VIEW. Our salvation: our temporal and eternal happiness.
III. THE PERSONS TO WHOM HE SPEAKS. Not to fallen angels, but to the sons of men. He utters His voice in every possible variety of place, if so be that by any means He might save some. The self-destruction of the impenitent.
(Charles Clayton, M. A.)
I. GOD'S ESPECIAL CARE IS FOR MEN.
1. Because there is no creature upon earth more to be wondered at than man.
2. Because God hath made him more capable of instruction than other creatures.
3. Because man is most capable of getting good by instruction.
4. Because God sent His Son into the world to become man for the good of man.
II. GOD LOOKS THAT MAN SHOULD LEARN.
1. God takes great pains with him.
2. God is at great cost with him.
III. ALL SORTS OF MEN MAY BE TAUGHT BY WISDOM'S VOICE.
1. There is a capacity left in mean men.
2. Common gifts of illumination are bestowed on mean men, as well as great ones.It reproves great men if they are ignorant; and men of meaner rank cannot be excused if they are ignorant.
(Francis Taylor, B. D.)viri and homines — between the strong and the weak. "Unto you, O men, I call" — strong, virile, massive — "and my voice is to the sons of man" — the lesser, the weaker, the more limited in capacity, but men still — and I will accommodate my speech to the capacity of every one, for I have come to bring the world to the temple of understanding. Then there is further discrimination; we read of the "simple" and of the "fools." "Simple" is a word which, as we have often seen, has been abused. There ought to be few lovelier words than "simple" — without fold, or duplicity, or complexity, or involution: such ought to be the meaning of simple and simplicity. Wisdom comes to fools, and says she will work miracles. Could a man say, "I am too far gone for Wisdom to make anything of me," he would by his very confession prove that he was still within the range of salvation. "To know one's self diseased is half the cure": to know one's self to be ignorant is to have taken several steps on the way to the sanctuary of wisdom. This might be Christ speaking; yea, there are men who have not hesitated to say that by "Wisdom" in this chapter is meant the Wisdom of God in history, the Loges, the eternal Son of God. Certainly, the wisdom of this chapter seems to follow the very course which Jesus Christ Himself pursued: He will call all men to Himself — the simple, and the foolish, and the far away; He will make room for all. A wonderful house is God's house in that way, so flexible, so expansive; there is always room for the man who is not yet in. So Wisdom will have men, and sons of man; simple men, foolish men. By this universality of the offer judge the Divinity of the origin.
(J. Parker, D. D.)I. THE CALL OF THE TEXT TO SPIRITUAL DUTY IS ADDRESSED TO ALL MEN.
II. CALLS AND INVITATIONS SERVE THE FOLLOWING IMPORTANT PURPOSES.
1. They show us our duty and obligation.
2. They show the connection betwixt the state to which we are called and the enjoyment of the blessing promised.
3. They point out and hold before us what must be accomplished in us, if ever we be saved.
4. They are intended to shut us up to the faith now revealed.
5. They are designed to show us what we ought to pray for.
6. They are to shut us out of all so-called neutral ground in spiritual things.
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