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Serm. daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my VI.

door.

Moreover Wisdom is used in this book,

as equivalent to understanding, or instruction. Prov. viii. Doth not Wisdom cry? and understanding put ... ii. 13. forth ber voice? ... Happy is the man that

findeth Wisdom, and the man that getteth un... iv. 13. derstanding. And, Take fast hold of instruc

tion. Let her not go. Keep her, for she is thy life. If understanding and instruction are not persons, what reason is there to think that Wisdom is fo?

And agreeable to this account is that affectionate counsel : Ch. vii. 4. Say unto Wifdom: Thou art my hister : and to understanding : Thou art my kinswoman.

The opinion therefore, that Wisdom is a real person, or a distinct subsistence, and intelligent being, appears to be without foundation. It is much more reasonable to suppose, that Wisdom is only a fictitious character, or personage introduced, in order to recommend to men more effectually, and with greater advantage, those rules of righteousneffe, which it is of the highest importance they should regard.

II. I would

SERM. II. I would now shew, what is compre

VI. hended in Wisdom. By wisdom, in general, we are to understand the principles of order and proportion, both in the natural and the moral world : or the laws and rules of exact order and proportion in the things of nature, and the rules of discreet and virtuous conduct among rational and intelligent beings. This is the most general and comprehentive meaning of the word wisdom. And it is plainly used in this sense in the book of Proverbs, particularly in this chapter.

1. It includes, I say, the rules and principles of beauty, order and proportion in the things of nature : according to which rules God made the world, and disposed and adjusted the several parts of it. So in the 27. and following verses of this chapter: When be prepared the heavens, I was there : When be set a compasse upon the face of the depth : When be established the clouds above : When be strengthened the fountains of the deep : When be gave to the sea bis decree, that tbe waters Mould not pass bis commandment ; then I was by bim, as one brought up with him : and I was

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daily

Ch. ii.

19. 20.

Serm. daily bis delight, rejoycing always before bim. VI.

That is, all God's works of creation were performed in wisdom: and it was his will and pleasure, to direct and command all things, according to the most perfect rules of order and proportion. The same thing is expressed elsewhere after this manner: The. Lord by Wisdom bas founded the earth: by understanding bas be established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. This exquisite order and proportion in the several

parts of nature are beautifully and forcibly Is. xl. 12. described in the Prophet Isaiah. Who has

measured the waters in the bollow of bis hand ? and meeted out heaven with the span, and comprebended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the bills in a balance?

2. But though Wisdom comprehends in it the rules of beauty and perfection, order and proportion, in natural things ; yet you cannot but be sensible, that what Solomon in this book chiefly enlarges upon, and most earnestly recommends, is right conduct. Nor does he here speak of the facrifices of beasts, and offerings of the fruits of the earth, nor

of

of external washings and purifications: the SERM. methods of which may be various, where no

VI. one of them is of absolute necessity: But the things he insists upon are the rules and prine ciples of virtuous conduct: which are right and reasonable in themselves, and always, and universally obligatorie.

And because these moral sules and principles are the subjects of his discourse, therefore the lessons, which Wisdom teaches and recommends, are represented and characterised, as right things, as proclaimed in the most public places, and as everlasting, or in being before the world was.

These rules and counsels of Wisdom are said to be right and excellent. Thus at the sixth verse. Hear, for I will speak of excellent things : and the opening of my lips shall be right things. ". The rules, which I deliver : the

things, I recommend to men, are right, " and fit. Their reasonablenesle and useful. "fulnesse cannot be contested or gain.

sayed.”

They are also represented, as proclaimed in places of the greatest resort, and indeed in all places : because they are obvious to mens reason and understanding: and there are not

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a few

Serm. a few, who speak of them, and recommend
VI. them to others, who are less knowing : and

because the judgement and conscience of all
men in general assent to them, and not sel-
dom
put

them in mind of them. This is the design of those expressions at the begining of this chapter, and of other like expresfions elsewhere. Does not Wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice ? She standeth in the top of the high places, by the way, in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entrie of the city, at the coming in at the doors. And ver. 8.

9.
All
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words are in righteousnese. There is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. Every where her reasonable precepts are sounding in mens ears, and demanding attention and regard.

They are also aiways obligatorie. And therefore are spoken of as ancient, eternal, and unalterable rules and maxims. ver. 22.

26. Tbe Lord porefjed me in the begining of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the begining, or. ever the earth was. When there were no.depths, I was brought fortb...Wbile as yet be kad not

made

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