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Serm.their power; but ftill a fincere affection to
VII. wifdom, and flrong refolution, would conquer it; for the words of the prophet referred to Jer. xiii. 23. are not to be underftood of a natural impoffibility, but a great difficulty occafioned by evil habits. It is prejudice only and corrupt affection which make the things'; of wifdom too high for a man. To the upright heart and fmcerely difpofed to embrace the in^ ftructions of virtue, its myfteries become^ very plain and familiar, Prov. xiv. 6. The fcorner feeketh wifdom, and findeth it nott but knowledge is eafy to him that under" Jlandeth. . . t
zdly, The love of wifdom contributetH to our attaining it, as it is a difpofition highly pleafing to God, to which he hath rnad« gracious promifes, particularly of inflrudlion. We muft conceive of the fupreme being as a lover of virtue and goodnefs, of every thing which is truly amiable on the accoant of moral excellence; and if it be fo, he hath complacency in thofe of mankind, whofe affections are placed on the fame thing which is his delight. Original perfect wifdom loveth its own image in the creatures, and even fuch a tendency towards it, as a high efteem, and carneft defire, and
tranfcenden't delight; for, as I obferved be- S E R M. fore, thefe are the reality, at leaft, the be- VII. ginning of wifdom or true religious virtue itfelf. Now, if they who have this qualifi-; cation are thereby entitled to the favour of God, it folio wcth that they are in the beft preparation for wifdom, and a continual ad-. vancement in proportion to the, meafurc of. their love to it; becaufe he is the Father of. lights from whom every goad and perfect gift, cometh down, and he hath commanded fuch as lack iffifdom, to ask it from him, with a fincere love to k, who giveth liberally and doth not upbraid. As he communicateth freely of his bounty to all his creatures, and his mercies are over all his 'works,, he will not be fparing of his gifts to the objects of his peculiar complacency. Wifdom is a gift which it is every way worthy of him, and congruous to his moral attributes, to beftow on thofe whom he delightetb to honour. Providence indeed difpenfeth its gifts very liberally, and with an undiftinguiming hand, even to the unthankful and the evil', but wifdooi is of a more peculiar nature, and a more certain mark of the divine favour, appropriated therefore to them who have a more efpecial intereft in his regard. As. this is agreeable to the fentiments we na
Serm. turally have of the Deity, the fcripture con*
VII. taineth exprefs promifes of divine inflru&ion 1 to fuch as are religioufly difpofed to receive it; and, as I obferved before, all pious di£» pofitions are comprehended in the love of wifdom. Thus, in Prov. i. 23. Turn you at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my fpirit upon you, I will make known my words unto you. This promife, though fometimes mentioned in the Old Teftament, is more clearly and exprefsly given in the New, and the advantages of it are more fully explained. There we are taught, that the Holy Ghoft was fent down from heaven to inftruct finners, to convince the world of Jin, of rigbteoufnefs, and judgment; not only to infpire the apoftles and affift them in an extraordinary manner for the confirmation of chriflianity, but to abide always in the chriftian church, to accompany the miniflration of righteoufnefs by his gracious influence, enlightening the minds of men, recjaiming them from their errors, delivering them from their prejudices againft the wifdom which is from above, and, in fine, operating powerfully on their minds, that good difpofitions may be formed in, them, arjd carried pn to perfection,
Thefe confiderations fhew, that as weSERM. have the greateft encouragements and ad- VII. vantages for attaining to wifdom, that is, to' true and fincere religion, with the happy fruits of it by the chriftian difpenfation, and fince God ivorketh in us, both to 'will and to do of his good pleafure, we ought to ufe all diligence in humble and affectionate concurrence with him.
And, on the other hand, our remiflhefs, and our continuance in folly, will be altogether inexcufable. Since God hath put fuch a price in our hands to get wifdom, no other account can be given of our coming fhort of it, but that we have no heart to it, Prov.xvii. 16.
^ SERMONf VIII.
Diligence in feeking WISDOM always fuccefsful.
PROVERBS VIII. 17.
'Thofe that feek me early, flail find me:
Se Rm. c*> HE father of lights, from whom every (VIII. ^ Ji good and perfeSl gift cometh down, beftoweth his mercies very freely on mankind; but his gifts are not all equal, nor do they equally require previous difpofitions and the ufe 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 fuppofed that any merit, or any agency of ours, could have in the leaft contributed. We fee that the enjoyments of life, not only Ihofe which are abfolutely neceflary to its prefervation, but thofe which render it comfortable, are difpenfed by the indifcriminating hand of providence, and often in as large a meafure to the unthankful and evil, as to the