Whatever religious knowledge, whatever carnal wisdom, or whatever worldly prudence a man may be possessed of, if he is devoid of the life of God in his soul, he is destitute of the workings of godly fear, he has no solemn awe or reverence for Jehovah, he has never seen his sins in the light of God's countenance, he has never trembled at "the wrath to come," he has never prostrated himself with a reverential spirit before the eyes of a heart-searching Jehovah, that sees into the secret recesses of his bosom. But all his knowledge, and all his wisdom, and all his prudence leave him just where they found him, unimpressed, carnal, sensual, worldly, "dead in trespasses and sins." All his wisdom never reached beyond the surface; it never broke up the crust of unbelief, so as to enter through that seared crust into the conscience, and produce living effects in it, as made tender by the touch of God's finger. But his knowledge, his wisdom, his prudence are all floating in his judgment, and never descend into the depths of his heart. God hides then the workings of spiritual fear from those who are "wise and prudent." He does not condescend to manifest himself to them; he does not shew them light in his light; he does not reveal himself to their consciences; he does not come with power into their hearts; he does not take the veil of unbelief and blindness from their carnal minds, and shew them himself; he takes them not where he took Moses, into the clift of the rock, "where his glory passed by;" he deals not with them as he dealt with Isaiah, when he manifested to him the glory of the Lord in the temple; he discovers himself not to them as he did to Job, when "he abhorred himself in dust and ashes." All their knowledge of God, therefore, is an external, intellectual knowledge, a mere exercise of the faculties of the mind, without any spiritual teaching, or any special revelation of the presence, power, glory, and majesty of God to their consciences.
But the babe, the living babe in Zion has "the fear of the Lord," in his soul, "as the beginning of wisdom." And therefore, having this fountain of life within, he has it springing up in spiritual exercises. As the Apostle speaks, he "serves God acceptably with reverence and godly fear;" he dare not rush with presumption into his holy presence. When he comes into his sanctuary a solemn dread from time to time falls upon his spirit. He has the feelings of Isaiah when he cried: "I am a man of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts;" the feelings of Jacob when he was afraid, and said, "How dreadful is this place!" the feelings of Moses, when he stood by the burning bush, and put his shoes from off his feet, for the spot whereon he stood was holy ground; the feelings of the high priest in the temple, on that mysterious day of atonement, when he entered alone, "not without blood," into the sanctuary, the holy of holies, and beheld the Shechinah, the Divine presence as a cloud resting on the mercy-seat. The babe, then, has these exercises of godly fear, which carnal, unhumbled, worldly-wise professors know nothing of. And though the babe, at times, seems to have no religion which he can really call spiritual or which satisfies himself, yet he has that tenderness, awe, and reverence which the carnal professor, however high in doctrine, however soaring in vain confidence, is utterly unacquainted with.