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Serm, their power ; but still a sincere affection to
VII. wisdom, and strong resolution, would con-

quer it; for the words of the prophet
referred to Jer. xiii. 23. are not to be
understood of a natural impossibility, but
a great difficulty occasioned by evil habits.
It is prejudice only and corrupt affection
which make the things of wisdom too
high for a man.. To the upright heart
and sincerely disposed to embrace the ins
structions of virtue, its mysteries become
very plain and familiar, Prov. xiv. 6.
The scorner seeketh wisdom, and findetb it
not, but knowledge is easy to bim that under

2dly, The love of wisdom. contributeth
to our attaining it, as it is a disposition high-
ly pleasing to God, to which he hath made
gracious promises, particularly of instruction,
We must conceive of the supreme being as
a lover of virtue and goodness, of every
thing which is truly amiable on the account
of moral excellence; and if it be fo, he
hath complacency in those of mankind,
whose affections are placed on the same
thing which is his delight. Original perfect
wisdom loveth its own image in the crea-
tures, and even such a tendency towards it,
as a high esteem, and earnest desire, and



transcendent delight; for, as I observed be- Serm. fore, these are the reality, at least, the be- VII. ginning of wisdom or true religious virtue itself. Now, if they who have this qualification are thereby entitled to the favour of God, it followeth that they are in the best preparation for wisdom, and a continual adm. vancement in proportion to the measure of their love to it; because he is the Father of: lights from whom every good and perfect gift cometh down, and he hath commanded such as lack wisdom, to ask it from bim, with a sincere love: to it, who giveth liberally and doth not upbraid. As he communicateth freely of his bounty to all his creatures, and bis mercies are over all his works, he will not be sparing of his gifts to the objects of his peculiar : complacency. Wisdom is a gift which it is every way worthy of him, and congruous to his moral attributes, to bestow on thofe whom be delighteth to honour. Providence indeed difpenfeth its gifts very liberally, and with an undistinguishing hand, even to the unthankful and the evil; but wis dom is of a more peculiar nature, and a more certain mark of the divine favour, appropriated therefore to them who have a more especial interest in his regard. As this is agreeable to the sentiments we na. .. 5


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SERM. turally have of the Deity, the scripture con-
VII. taineth express promises of divine instruction

to such as are religiously disposed to receive
it ; and, as I observed before, all pious dis-
positions are comprehended in the love of
wisdom. Thus, in Prov. i. 23. Turn you at
my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spi-
rit upon you, I will make known


words unto you. This promise, though sometimes mentioned in the Old Testament, is more. clearly and expressly given in the New, and, the advantages of it are more fully explained. There we are taught, that the Holy. Ghost was fent down from heaven to in-. struct finners, to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and judgment; not only to inspire the apostles and affist them in an extraordinary manner for the confirmation of christianity, but to abide always in the christian church, to accompany the ministration of righteousness by his gracious influence, enlightening the minds of men, reclaiming them from their errors, delivering them from their prejudices against the wisdom which is from above, and, in fine, operating powerfully on their minds, that good dispositions may be formed in them, and carried on to perfection.


These considerations shew, that as we SERM. have the greatest encouragements and ad- VII. vantages for attaining to wisdom, that is, to true and sincere religion, with the happy fruits of it by the christian dispensation, and fince God worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure, we ought to use all diligence in humble and affectionate concurrence with him.

And, on the other hand, our remiffness, and our continuance in folly, will be altogether inexcusable. Since God hath put such a price in our hands to get wisdom, no other account can be given of our coming short of it, but that we have no heart to it, Prov. xvii. 16.


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Those that seek me early, Niall find me:

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SERM. HE father of lights, from whom every


good and perfect gift cometh down, bestoweth his mercies very freely on mankind; but his gifts are not all equal, nor do they equally require previous dispositions and the use of preparatory means on our part. Our beings, with all the powers and capacities which belong to them, are derived from the divine bounty; and to them it can never be supposed that any merit, or any agency of ours, could have in the least contributed, We see that the enjoyments of life, not only thofe which are absolutely necessary to its prefervation, but those which render it comfortable, are dispensed by the indiscriminating hand of providence, and often in as large a measure to the unthankful and evil, as to the


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