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Serm. thofe who appear to have the largeft mare II. of it, the wifeft men in Solomon's fenfe, that is, the moft virtuous, are the moft excellent, and the worthieft of our refpect; accordingly he faith, chap. xii. 26. The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour. How is it that we govern our refpect to men? Is it by riches, fplendid equipage, high titles, or any thing of a like nature? David did not fo, for he telleth us, Pfal. xvi. 3. All his delight was in the excellent, the faints that were in.the earth. And, Pfal. cxix. 63. / am a companion of all them that fear theet and keep thy precepts. Nay, he giveth us this as the character of a good man, one who dwelleth in Zion, Pfa\. xv. 4. In. bis eyes a vile perfon is contemned, but he honoureth them that fear the 'Lord. An unjuft man is an abomination to thejuft, Prov. xxix. 27. Not that the juft hate the perfon of any man; it is god-like to be kind to the unthankful and the evil; but their temper and their converfation are not confidered by the virtuous with any complacency. Remember, therefore, trje direction of the apdflle James, ii. i. My brethren, have not the faith of our Lordjefus Chrift, 'with refpeSt of per* fons, Jt is, certainly, very unbecoming chrir..- . ftians flians to diftinguifti men in their refpect by S E R M. external confiderations, and fuch things as II. have no relation at all to wifdom, but may be in fools as much as the wife; nay, in the vicious to a greater degree than the befl of men.
The Ways of W I S D O M, Ways
of P L E A S A N'T NESS.
PROVERBS III. 17.
Her "ways are ways of pleafantnefs, and all her paths are peace.
Serm. A S the main fubje<ft of this book is • jL\ wifdom or religious virtue, the author ufeth many arguments to engage men to the ftudy, the choice, and the practice of it; one argument I very lately explained in a difcourfe on the 6th verfe of the 8th chapter, that the things of wifdom are excellent and right things: Another is contained in the text, which I fhall now confider: Her 'ways are ways of pkafantncfs, and all her paths are peace. This properly followeth the other, and between the two there is a connexion, for pleafure naturally followeth efteem; and whatever is apprehended to be excellent, yieldeth delight even in the contemplation, much more in the pofleffion.
If we confider wifdom only as an object of Serm. fpeculation, the mind hath fatisfaction in III. meditating upon it; for furely we will ac-' knowledge there are mental as well as corporeal enjoyments, and! the mind is agreeably entertained with other objects than thofe of the external fenfes. When the underflanding is regularly and diligently employed in a fearch after truth, the foul rejoiceth ia finding it, and ftill the joy rifeth in proportion to the excellence and importance of the object Now, fhall the ftudious fearcher into nature, into the order, dependency, and operation of inferior caufes, to find out their effects; into the motions and fenfible qualities of bodies; into the equality, proportion, and other relations of figures and numbers; fhall fuch a one be highly pleafed in the difcovery of truth, with evidence which is fatisfying to his mjnd? And fhall the harmony of the foul itfelf, a due ballance of the affections, a well-proportioned and becoming difpofition or action, be altogether infipid; and righteoufnefs, moral excellence, and holinefs, not appear an amiable form? Nay, certainly, the knowledge itfelf, not to fpeak of the practice of this fort of wifdom, is pleafant, as Solomon tel
S E R M. leth us, Prov. xxiv. 13. My fin, eat thou III. honey becaufe it is good, and the honey-comb, which isfweet to thy tafte; foJhall the knowledge of wifdom be to thy foul.
Farther; let us confider, what no pious mind will call in queflion, that the greateft delight arifeth from ferious devout meditation on God. The faints in fcripture exprefs their experience of this with raptures; what they call beholding the beauty of the Lord, the glory of their God, and the light of his countenance, is reprefented as the nobleft enjoyment; it is an anticipation of the heavenly felicity; for wherein doth the joy of heaven itfelf confift? One principal ingredient in it is, feeing the face of God, called therefore the beatific vifion. Now, what is the view his faithful fervants have of the fupreme being, in which they fo joyfully acquiefce? Certainly, the principal objects of it are his moral perfections; and though all his excellencies are to be confidered as infeparable, yet thefe are what give lovelinefs to the whole. Though abfolute fupremacy, independence, eternity, immenfity, and infinite power, might produce admiration and aftonifhment, yet it is only when confidered in conjundtion with holinefs, good