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himself happy as his heart could devise; having kept nothing from his eyes, that they desired, nor with-neld his heart from any joy; Eccles. ii. 10. and yet, when he came to cast up the account, he found this to be the sum of it, that all was vanity and vexation of spirit. Accordingly, when he is instructing his son in the ways of true happiness, he advises him to get wisdom and understanding. For, wisdom, says he, is the principal thing : therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding. And as an encouragement to do so, he tells him, that happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding : For, the merchandize of it is better than the merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. Prov. iii. 13, &c. This wisdom and understanding, which he recommends, as a treasure of so great value, is not the wisdom of this world (for that is foolishness with God, 1 Cor. iii. 19.) but it is the wisdom that cometh from above, which will make us wise unto salvation: the wisdom of living in the
fear and love of God, and in a strict
obedience to his commandments. The fear of the Lord, says he, is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding : Prov. ix. 10, or as it is in Job, Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from ecil is understanding. Job xxviii. 28. Behold then the excellency of religion it. not only secures to us a reversion of endless happiness, but makes our lives at present easy and delightful: the very paths of religion are pleasant, as well as the end to which they lead. It is true, vice has its present pleasures as well as virtue: but then there is this difference between them; the pleasures of sin are weak, shortlived, and only varnished over; they , begin and end almost in the same mo– ment, and can never be purchased but at at the expence of much succeeding trouble, shame, and self-condemnation. Whereas those which result from a holy and religious life, are substantial, sincere, steady and secure : they leave no disgust upon the mind : no loathings and dislike: are neither accompanied with shame, nor followed with remorse or sadness: those bitter allays to all sinful gratifications. “We may talk “ of pleasures and enjoyments, says a ‘ Great Prelate of our church, but “no man ever truly found them, till “ he became acquainted with God, and ‘ was made sensible of his love, and partaker of his heavenly favours, and lived in an entire friendship and communion with him.” No, certainly; religion is the only happiness of a rational creature, the only thing that can give us any true and real satisfaction: all other pleasures are, at best, but short and transitory; but in religion we find a delight and satisfaction, which is solid, substantial, and
"Arch. of York, in his Volume of Sermons, p. 501. lasting; a delight that grows and improves under thought and reflection.
“Whenever (to use the words of
consolation is a good conscience It
gladdens the heart, cheers and refreshes the soul, and fills the mind with a constant serenity and cheerfulness, which is infinitely to be preferred to the noisy mirth of fools and madmen. He that is possessed of this inestimable jewel, has a treasure greater than all the riches of the Indies: a treasure which he always carries about with him, and which neither the malice of the Devil, nor the wickedness of men, can rob him of. And so long as he retains this fund of joy and comfort, (as he always may, unless he is wretchedly wanting to himself); he can never be truly miserable. For a good conscience, as it gives a relish to all our outward enjoyments, so it abates and takes off the edge of the sharpest affliction; and not only enables a man to bear up under present evils, but fortifies him against the dread and apprehension of future ones. It arms him with courage and resolution, and gives him such a firmness, and presence of mind, as makes him able to endure the greatest shock. Solomon observes, that the wicked flee, when no man pursueth; but the righD