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juft fenfe of the one is led to confider the S E R M. other as its infeparable attendant; accor- IV. dingly, fome of the wifer heathens have exprefTed themfelves excellently on this fubject, and one of their poets faith, concerning the virtuous man, That if the frame of nature were duTolved, he would meet its ruins unterrified. But our divine religion explaineth the confidence of a good man very fully, and fheweth the true grounds of it, which are fo firm and fo clear, that it is unworthy of a chriftian, of his privileges, his character, and the vocation wherewith he is called, not to retain his confidence, and the rejoicing of his hope, ftedfaft to the end.
One would think it fufficient to recommend true piety and chriftian virtue, if it giveth fuch confidence and fecurity of mind. which is fo very defirable in our prefent ftate, a ftate of difcipline and trial, wherein there is much vanity and vexation of fpirit; and, as Solomon obferveth, God hath wifely given travel and grief to the children of men, as a part of their portion under the fun. But ftill let us remember there is no other foundation upon which we can be flrong, in the fenfe of the text, or attain to firmnefs and ferenity of mind, but wifdom, or the
S E R M. pradtice of pure undefiled religion. There IV. are very different courfes taken by men to fupport themfelves againft the viciffitudes of time, and the fears and forrows which they occafion; fome have recourfe to fchemes and projedts of their own, in order to obtain reft: If this or the other defign were accomplifhed, and fuch an affair fettled, then they are fecure: But as it is altogether uncertain, whether they mall ever obtain their end; fo if they did obtain it, they may be never the nearer tranquillity; for the ftate of human affairs always is and muft be changeable; fo that the fecurity arifing from our own devices, or any imagined outward circumftances, is intirely groundlefs. Solomon maketh a comparifon between wifdom and money, as a defence, Ecclef. vii. 12. and he acknowledgeth they may be both fo called. But though money fometimes is a means of fafety to the proprietor, it alfo fometimes expofeth him to mifchief and danger; but the excellency of knowledge, faith our author, is, that in all events it givetb life to them that have it. In patience, confidence in God, refignation to his will, contracting our ddires to the things of this world, and the other branches of religious gious virtue, is our only folid peace, as the S E R Mi prophet having reproved the yews for their vain confidence in Egypt for their fafety, telleth them, Ifaiab xxx. 15. In returning arid reft ye /hall be fayed; in quietnefs and confidence Jhall be your Jirength.
The Favour of GOD obtained by W i s B>o M.
PROVERBS VIII. 35.
Whofojlndeth me fndeth life, andjhall obtain favour of the Lord.
I HAVE, in difcourfing from feveral paffages of this book, confidered fome of the arguments by which the wife man recommendeth religious virtue under the character of wifdom, fuch as the excellency of its ways, the pleafantnefs of them, and that fecurity and confidence which arifeth in the mind of a wife or a good man, from the confcioufnefs of his own integrity. Another very ftrong argument is contained in the text, that whofo findeth isaifdom findeth life, and Jhall obtain favour of the Lord. I do not think that life here is to be underftood in fo narrow a fenfe as to mean only, or principally, the continuance of this prefent life; though there are other declarations of
Solomon in this book, which muft be fo in- Serm. terpreted, as chap. ix. u. By me thy days V. Jball be multiplied, and the years of thy life' jhdl be increafed. And chap. x. 37. 'The fear of the Lord prokngeth days, but the years of the wicked.Jhall be Jhortene'd. Yet, confidering that life in this text is not fo limited, that often in fcripture it hath a larger fignification, and that the words added to explain this advantage of wifdom, and fhew the true caufe of it, namely, obtaining favour of the Lord, leads us to more important and durable effects than the meer lengthening out our prefent ftate of exiftence: Confidering all this, I fay, it feemeth reafonable by life to underftand that which indeed is better, and for which life, in the firft and more obvious fenfe, is only valuable, that is, happinefs; and fo it muft be taken in that faying of our Saviour, Luke xii. !5. The life of a man (or his enjoyment and felicity) doth net confift in the abundance of the things ixhich he poJJe.(Jeth. The intention of this text, then, is to reprefent a very great bleffednefs to good men, whether in the prefent Or a future ftate, annexed to wifdom or religious virtue, in confequence of their obtaining God's favour.
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