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cause it both cleanses and purges all noxious humours, and nourishes and strengthens the body: andthe honey-comb, because it is sweet to the taste; which is the second excellence of this sort of food, namely, its pleasantness; and properly urged to invite the eater: then, proceeding to compleat the comparison, he adds, so shall the knowledge ofwijdom be to thy soul, when thou hast found it; i. e. it shall minister to the puristcation,strengthy and delight of thy soul. But this is not all: tho' the parallel can be extended no further between honey and wisdom; yet he does not think fit for that reason to omit one of the greatest excellencies of wisdom: and therefore he adds, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off. Wisdom does not only perseSl and entertain our minds; but also it gives us a title to those rewards, for the enjoyment of which it prepares and fits us. Here then we have from Solomon the true properties of true wisdom: by these we maypronounce safely of all the different kinds of knowledge; distinguishing the precious from the vile, and fixing the true estimate of each. If there be any sort of truths, whose knowledge does not promote, but obstruct these great ends, these we are to despise and flight, to shun and hate. But if there be any knowledge, that does neither oppose or hinder, nor yet contribute
to- these ends, unless accidentally, and very remotely; for this we may have; seme, but no very great regard or esteem. But whatever knowledge that be which is attended by these/rz«'ft, this is that which we are to search for as for hidden treasure: (his is that which, when we have found1 it, we are to value above the gold if Ophir, the Topaz, and the carbuncle* and all precious stones. The distinguishing characters then of illuminating truths axe four.
i. They purify us.
2. They nourish 2xA strengthen us.
3. They entertain and delight us.
4. They procure us a glorious reward.
1. They purify us. This is a property which the royal Psalmist frequently attributes to the word of God, that it is pure and clean, Psal. cxix. and elsewhere. And the New Testament frequently ascribes tp faith and hope, that they purify the heart, j John ill. 3. Aclsxv. And this sure is thje first thing necessary to the perfecting the soul of man. 'Tis with the soul, as with the body; it must be first cleansed from hurtful humours, before it can be fed aijid nourished; purged of its errors and vices, ere it can be enriched with divine virtues, and attain that liberty and strength,
wherewherein consists the true greatness and' excellence of the mind of man. Thestrst step towards the Perfection of virtue, is the relinquishing our vice ; for we must cease, to do evil, ere we can learn to do good: ajad the strst step towards the Perfection Œ. wis dcm, is the dispelling those errors, \wfcch deceive and mislead the mind, and ^Pervert, life. What these were in the Jew. and Gentiles, and what they are at this day ia ut, it is easy enough to discern. The mind of man, as far as lean observe,, is naturally prone to Religious worship. Not only the consideration of the wonderful mechanism and contrivance of the world, and of events, strange, sudden, and unaccountable; but also the conscience of his own impotence and obnoxiousness, inclining him to the belief, and prompting him to seek the patronage of an invisible all-sufficient power. In the next place, the mind of man is ever prone to propole to him some great, some soveraign good; in which he may acquiesce, and by which he may secure himself as well as he can, against the indigence and poverty of his nature, and die changes and revolutions, the disasters and the miseries, to which this mortal state is exposed. These are two things of that importance, that no man can err in them, but the error must prove) fatal to his repose. He that sets up to himself -'' •-'•'•. for
for his ultimate end, an empty and uncertain good, instead of zsolid and eternal one, must needs be as miserably deluded and disappointed, as be must, who sets up to hhnmi afalse God instead of the true; or goesltsmt to endear and recommend himself to Me true, by z.false and superstitious 'worshjW Now in these points the Jew and Gentile were miserably, though not equally, mistaken. The Gentile worshipped devils,' instead of God: their mysteries,, were either sensual or cruel; their religion did oftner encourage sin than virtue. And as to their soveraign good, their hearts were set upon this world, upon the pomp and pleasure, upon the ease and honour of it; and they had either none, or very dark and uncertain prospects beyond the grave: all beyond it was an unknown region, full of fables and idle phantoms. The Jews, though they enjoyed the oracles of God, and generally preserved the worship of one true and living God, yet were they not free from very deplorable errors relating to these points: they seemed to have turned the true God into an idol, and to have entertained some notions of him very repugnant to his nature: they looked upon him as the God of the Jews, not of the Gentiles; as a reJpecler of persons, as fond and partial to the nation; and as delighted, with a religion, madp up of . . . nume-t
numerous rites and ceremonies, and external observances. And this could not but have a very fad influence upon their religion, as it really had: the holiness which is truly acceptable to God, being neglected and abolished; and Sadductfm or PhÆjaism, 1. e. sensuality or hypocrisy, introduced in the room of it. And as to their ultimate end or supreme good, the Sadducees denied the resurreBion, angels, and spirits; and therefore 'tisnot to be expected they should entertain any design above the pleasure of the body. And though the Pharisees acknowledged angels and a resurreBion; yet can we not discern that they had a real value for any thing besides the honour, power, and wealth of this world. And no wonder, since they could, upon their principles, satisfy themselves in z religion which had nothing of internal purity or solid righteousness in it. So that upon the whole, the Jew and Gentile were alike wicked: only the wickedness of the Jews had this aggravation in it above that of the Gentiles, that they enjoyed the oracles of God, and the favour of a peculiar covenant. This being the state of darkness, which lay upon the face of the Jewish and Gentile world, our Lord, who was to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people .srael, advanced and established in the world that doctrine, which