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Psal. viii.

temper of wisdom, to the good of mankind, and advance- SERM. ment of his own glory!

LIV. The mathematical sciences, how pleasant is the speculation of them to the mind! How useful is the practice to common life! How do they whet and excite the mind! How do they inure it to strict reasoning, and patient meditation !

Natural philosophy, the contemplation of this great theatre, or visible system presented before us; observing the various appearances therein, and inquiring into their causes; reflecting on the order, connection, and harmony of things; considering their original source, and their final design: how doth it enlarge our minds, and advance them above vulgar amusements, and the admiration of those petty things, about which men cark and bicker! How

may

it serve to work in us pious affections of admiration, reverence, and love toward our great Creator, whose eternal di- Rom. i. 20. vinity is clearly seen, whose glory is declared, whose tran- Psal. xix. 1. scendent perfections and attributes of immense power, wisdom, and goodness are conspicuously displayed, whose particular kindness toward us men doth evidently shine in those his works of nature !

The study of moral philosophy, how exceedingly beneficial may it be to us, suggesting to us the dictates of reason, concerning the nature and faculties of our soul, th chief good and end of our life, the way and means of attaining happiness, the best rules and methods of practice; the distinctions between good and evil, the nature of each virtue, and motives to embrace it; the rank wherein we stand in the world, and the duties proper to our relations ; by rightly understanding and estimating which things we may

know how to behave ourselves decently and soberly toward ourselves, justly and prudently toward our neighbours; we may learn to correct our inclinations, to regulate our appetites, to moderate our passions, to govern our actions, to conduct and wield all our practice well in prosecution of our end; so as to enjoy our being and conveniences of life in constant quiet and peace, with tranquillity and satisfaction of mind!

VOL. III.

SERM. But especially the study of theology, how numberless, LIV.

unexpressible advantages doth it yield ! For,

It enlighteneth our minds with the best knowledge concerning the most high and worthy objects, in order to the most happy end, with the firmest assurance.

It certainly and perfectly doth inform us concerning the nature and attributes, the will and intentions, the works and providence of God.

It fully declareth to us our own nature, our original, our designed end, our whole duty, our certain way of attaining eternal life and felicity.

It exactly teacheth us how we should demean ourselves in all respects piously toward God, justly and charitably toward our neighbour, soberly toward ourselves; without blame in the world, with satisfaction of our conscience, with assured hope of blessed rewards.

It proposeth those encouragements,' and exhibiteth assurances of those helps, which serve potently to engage us in all good practice.

It setteth before us a most complete and lively pattern of all goodness; apt most clearly to direct, most strongly to excite, most obligingly to engage us thereto; especially instructing and inclining to the practice of the most high and hard duties, meekness, humility, patience, self-denial,

contempt of all worldly vanities. 1 Pet. i. 12. It discovereth those sublime mysteries and stupendous Tit. iii. wonders of grace, whereby God hath demonstrated an in

comprehensible kindness to mankind, and our obligation to correspondent gratitude.

It representeth manifold arguments and incentives to love God with the most intense affection, to confide in him with most firm assurance, to delight in him continually with joy unspeakable ; which are the noblest, the sweetest, the happiest operations of our soul.

It reareth our hearts from vain thoughts, and mean desires concerning these poor, transitory, earthly things, to contemplations, affections, and hopes toward objects most excellent, eternal, and celestial.

2 Cor. iv. 18.

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It engageth us to study the book of God, the book of SERM.

LIV. books, the richest mine, of most excellent knowledge, containing infallible oracles of truth, and heavenly rules of (2 Tim. üü. life; which are able to make us wise to salvation, and peroxis

. fect to every good work.

And how can we otherwise be so well employed, as in meditation about such things? What occupation doth nearer approach to that of the blessed angels ? What heaven is there upon earth like to that of constantly feasting our minds and hearts in the contemplation of such objects? Especially considering that this study doth not only yield private benefit to ourselves in forwarding our own salvation, but enableth us by our guidance and encouragement to promote the eternal welfare of others, and by our endeavours to people heaven, according to that exhortation of St. Paul pressing on Timothy this study with diligence: Me- 1 Tim. iv.

16. ditate upon these things ; give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine ; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

So considerable is each part of learning, so extremely profitable are some parts of it. Indeed the skill of any liberal art is valuable, as a handsome ornament, as an harmless divertisement, as an useful instrument upon occasions; as preferable to all other accomplishments and advantages of person or fortune, (beauty, strength, wealth, power, or the like ;) for who would not purchase any kind of such knowledge at any rate; who would sell it for any price; who would not choose rather to be deformed or impotent in his body, than to have a misshapen and weak mind; to have rather a lank purse, than an empty brain; to have no title at all, than no worth to bear it out; if any would, he is not of Solomon's mind; for of wisdom (by which i Kings iv. he meaneth a comprehension of all knowledge, divine and human ; into which the knowledge of natural things, of mathematics, of poetry, are reckoned ingredients) he saith, The merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of sil- Prov.iii

. 14.. ver, and the gain thereof than fine gold; she is more pre

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viii. 11.

19. xvi. 16.

SERM. cious than rubies, and all the things thou canst desire are LIV.

not to be compared unto her. Her fruit is better than gold, Prov. viii. yea than fine gold ; and her revenue than choice silver.

Now then, considering all these advantages of our callxx. 15. iv. 7..

ing, if we by our negligence or sluggishness therein do lose them, are we not very ingrateful to God, who gave them, as with a gracious intent for our good, so with expectation that we should improve them to his service ? If God had allotted to us the calling of rustics, or of artificers, we had been impious in not diligently following it; but we are abominably ingrateful in neglecting this most incomparably excellent vocation.

Are we not extremely defective to ourselves, if indulging a wretched humour of laziness we will not enjoy those sweet pleasures, nor embrace those great profits to which God in

mercy calleth us? Prov.xix.8. If Solomon said true, He that getteth wisdom loveth his

own soul, he that keepeth understanding shall find good ; how little friends are we to ourselves, how neglectful of our own welfare, by not using the means of getting wisdom !

The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge, saith Solomon ; what a fool then is he that shunneth it! who, though it be bis way, and his special duty to seek it, yet neglecteth it; choosing rather to do nothing, or to do worse.

And do we not deserve great blame, displeasure, and disgrace from mankind, if, having such opportunities of qualifying ourselves to do good, and serve the public, we by our idleness render ourselves worthless and useless?

How, being slothful in our business, can we answer for our violating the wills, for abusing the goodness, for perverting the charity and bounty of our worthy founders and benefactors, who gave us the good things we enjoy, not to maintain us in idleness, but for supports and encouragements of our industry ? how can we excuse ourselves from dishonesty, and perfidious dealing, seeing that we are admitted to these enjoyments under condition, and upon confidence (confirmed by our free promises, and

Prov. xv. 14.

most solemn engagements) of using them according to their SERM. pious intent, that is, in a diligent prosecution of our studies, LIV. in order to the service of God, and of the public ?

Let every Scholar, when he mispendeth an hour, or sluggeth on his bed, but imagine that he heareth the voice of those glorious kings, or venerable prelates, or worthy gentlemen, complaining thus, and rating him: Why, sluggard, dost thou against my will possess my estate? why dost thou presume to occupy the place due to an industrious person? why dost thou forget, or despise thy obligations to my kindness ? thou art an usurper, a robber, or a purloiner of my goods, which I never intended for such as thee; I challenge thee of wrong to myself, and of sacrilege toward my God, to whose service I devoted those his gifts to me.

How reproachful will it be to us, if that expostulation may concern us, Wherefore is there a price in the hand of Prov. xvii. a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?

If to be a dunce or a bungler in any profession be shameful, how much more ignominious and infamous to a Scholar to be such ? from whom all men expect, that he should excel in intellectual abilities, and be able to help others by his instruction and advice.

Nothing surely would grate on the heart of one, that hath a spark of ingenuity, of modesty, of generous good nature, than to be liable to such an imputation.

To avoid it, therefore, (together with all the guilt and all the mischiefs attending on sloth.) let each of us, in God's nanie, carefully mind his business; and let the grace and blessing of God prosper you therein. Amen.

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