« PrécédentContinuer »
fhews them that these things are beyond the SERM. Reach of human Capacity, that the Things
II. of Nature would be a more proper Subject to employ the Wit and Industry of Man, whose Enquiries, when they have been car. ried this way, have answered the End and proved successful, but that the Secrets of the Almighty are likely always to remain such to us, notwithstanding our utmoft En. deavours to find them out. Surely, says he, there is a Vein for the Silver, and a Place for Gold where they find it: Iron is taken out of the Earth, and Brass is molten out of the Stone. There is a Path which no Fowl knoweth, and which the Vulture's Eye hath not seen ; the Lion's Whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce Lion passed by it. But where pall Wisdom be found 2 and where is the Place of Understanding : that is, who can find out the Reasons and Methods of God's Providence? This is indeed a hard Question for Flesh and Blood to answer: as for this sort of Wisdom, which is Wisdom in the highest Sense of the Word, there is no Purchase to be given for it; for Man knoweth not the Price thereof, neither is it found in the Land of the Living. The Depth. faith, It is not in me; and the Sea faith, It is not with me: Where then
Serm. shall we seek it? If it is not in the Earth
nor Sea, where can we imagine it to be?
Unto Man be said, Behold, the Fear of the Lord that is Wifdom, and to depart from Evil is UnderStandings---- Now tho’ these Expressions, gain the Fear of the Lord, and departing from fawory Evil, include in them the whole Sum and my Substance of Religion, yet because Job had 24 been speaking against a curious Enquiry w into the Ways of Providence, and had shewn that that kind of Wisdom belonged only to God, and having in the Words of the Text pointed out to us a Wisdom of a lower Na. ture, in Contradiction to that which is more suitable to our Capacities, and which confifts in the doing good and forsaking Evil,
I believe they are not to be taken here to Serm. fignify Matters of Speculation, such as the
II. deep Counsels of God, which always were and always will be far above out of our Sight, but that Part of Religion only which is more clearly made known, and which has a more immediate Relation to Practice.
From the Words of the Text I shall en deavour to prove, that true Religion is the only true Wisdom.
I. Because it directs us to the best End.
II. Because it affords us the best Means of obtaining it. First, then, I am to prove that true Religion is the only true Wisdom, because it directs us to the best End. I call it true Religion, to distinguish it from that which is only fo in Appearance ; for every thing is not Piety and Godliness that seems to be so, nor is every thing Religion that bears the Name of it: For it is no unusual thing to put the Name of Religion upon that which is only the Product of Fancy, Interest, or a Peevish Humour, With what Rage and Fury have some people harrassed one another about Matters foreign to Religion, from the great and unsearchable Decrees of
Serm. God, down to the weak and simple Invena II.
tions of Mep! By giving way to the idle Wfiims of Fancy and Imagination, People have been brought to look for Religion any where but in the Scriptures, to introduce the Doctrines of Men in the Room of the Doctrines of Christ, and at length to dispute away their Bibles, where alone the true Religion is to be found. Thus, by leaving Truth, we open a Way to numberless Errors which we are led into unavoidably. The hidden Things of Providence have been the Subject of much Debate and Enquiry for many Generations; but to what Purpose ? Can we by searching find out God i can we find out the Almighty unto Perfection. It is as bigh as Heaven, what can'st thou do a deeper than Hell, what can'st thou know ? And suppose we could find out these secret Ways of Providence, what is that to the fearing the Lord, and departing from Evil? Should we lead better Lives for it? or go to Heaven the sooner? Good and Evil are things easily learnt without any great Stretch of Abilities; and 'tis not the Knowledge of Mysteries that is required of us,
but a good Life: For what doth the Lord our God require of us, but to fear the Lord our God, to walk in his Ways, and to love him, and to serve him with all our Heart; and with Serm. all our Soul, to keep the Commandments of. II. the Lord, and his Statutes which he hath commanded us : And even in Things of lefs Importance, what different Shapes has Religion appeared in, according to the vårious Fancies and Inclinations of Men! Even in the Apostles Days, among the Corinthi. ans, some were for Paul, some for Apollos, fome for Cephas, and some for Christ; and they were so much divided about it, as if these Names had signified so many different Religions ; as if Christ had been divided, and they had all set up a separate Interest for themselves. How Religion has been disguised by Self-interest, and an insatiable Thirst after Wealth, the World too well knows; and as long as Godliness is Gain in the obvious and literal Sense, and Religion is made a Craft, great will be Dinna of the Ephesians. Nor has Religion suffered less from a peevish and quarrelsome Temper : With what Strife and Contention have Men engaged one another about what they have not understood; and which it would signify nothing to Religion if they had, or on which Side the Truth of the Matter in Dispute lay.! For I believe it will be allowed, that in most religious Controversies, as they are