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Serm, the dominion of conscience over the lower
I. appetites and pafsions is absolutely necessary

to preserve the harmony of nature ; and
that the most folid and permanent peace
and joy, spring from the love and obser-
vance of God's laws. And as wisdom is
profitable to direct men to the profecution
of the most worthy ends, another part of
its province is chusing the best means for
attaining them; and this also appeareth in
religion. Its directions principally turn up-
on the practice of piéty and virtue ; and
what better and more natural way can there
be for arriving at perfection in any thing,
than practising that wherein we would be
perfect? If we would hope to be finally
blessed in beholding God's face in righte-
ousness, what better preparation can there
be for it, than, when we behold the glory
of the Lord, displayed in his word, to be
changed into his image, to become parta-
kers of a divine nature, and, cleansing our-
felves from the filthiness of the flesh and
fpirit, to perfect holiness in his fear ; thus to
grow up gradually, by a continual progress
in every religious virtue, to a meetness for
the inheritance of the faints in light. True
it is, that through the prejudices which are


natural to us, and selfish affections, which Serm. are very strong, the discipline of religion is I. irksome to men, especially at their first entrance into it; so that true virtue, as practised in opposition to the bent and tendency of depraved appetites and passions, is justly represented under the notion of self-denial and mortification. This at first view may, to unattentive minds, have an unnatural appearance, and not seem worthy the name of wisdom; for that which is to be denied, thwarted, and controuled, being a part of qur nature, the discipline which prescribeth the denying it, must necessarily prescribe pain, (indeed the rule of our religion acknowledgeth this, representing that part of the exercise it enjoineth, under the notion of pulling out the right eye, and cutting off the right hand) and therefore it may seem to be a discipline not wisely calculated for promoting the felicity of the human nature, which is confessedly an end of wisdom, Yet upon a more close and serious consideration, it will appear, that self-denial and mortification is a necessary part of wisdom, as a remedy accommodated to the infirmities of our present state, and the disorders of our nature,


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We are divided against ourselves, and find I. opposite tendencies in our hearts, carnal inunclinations and passions leading one way, and

reason and conscience proposing' another di-
rectly contrary. They must be strangers to
self-reflection, who do not find it fo in fact
and experience; and if it be so, it is plain
that something, which must be called our-
selves, and a part of our nature, must be
denied ; either appetite and passion on the
one hand, or reason and conscience on the
other. But it is certain, and every conside-
rate person will be convinced of it, that the
latter is the superior, the more excellent,
and, of right, the governing part ; and that
conforming ourselves to its direction will
yield the greater, more exalted, and abiding
happiness. Now, is it not wise and reaso-
nable to deny an inferior, and worse self,
for the sake of a better and superior ? And
thus the law of mortifying the deeds of the
body, of crucifying the flesh, with the affec-
tions and lusts, is wisely injoined for the
saving of the spirit, for rescuing it from
corruption, and raising it to a state of wis-
dom, activity, and true pleasure.

Since, then, this doctrine of Solomon sets
religious virtue in such an inviting light;
and since, as he elsewhere speaketh, there is

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a price put in our hands to attain it, let us Serm. not be of the fools who have no heart to 1, purchase it. This is the unhappy condition of many to whom divine wisdom crieth, and understanding lifteth up her voice. The impetuous clamor of their lusts and passions prevaileth against the calm voice of reason ; their depraved affections, indulged, grow up to such confirmed vicious habits, as harden their hearts to an utter insensibility, and a total neglect of wisdom's most earnest folicitations. Solomon, in this chapter, representeth the fatal consequences of this in a very clear and affecting manner ; and with his words I shall conclude: Wisdom utteretb her voice in the streets, and crieth in the chief places of concourse, in the opening of the gates, and in the city; that is, in the plainest and most intelligible manner : But then he adds, in the name of wisdom, Because I called, and ye refused; have set at naught my counsels, and would none of my reproofsthey hated knowledge, and did not chuse the fear of the Lord; therefore, shall they eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

****** SER


The Excellency of WISDOM.

Hear, for I will speak of excellent things,

and the opening of my lips Mall be right

things; for my mouth fball Speak truth. SERM. LJAVING endeavoured to explain the

II. 11 nature, characters, ends, and uses, of s o that wisdom which Solomon recommendeth

in this book, shewing that it comprehendeth the whole system of religious virtue, the fear of God, all the pious devout affections and regards which are due to the supreme Being; justice and good will to men; fobriety, or a due government of our infem rior appetites and passions, together with the proper effects of these qualities and difpofitions of mind in our conversations, doing good, and eschewing evil; and having endeavoured to justify the notion he intendeth to give us, that it may have a proper influence on our temper and practice, that this is true wisdom ; I lhall, next, apply myself


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