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creatures, capable of knowledge and wisdom, and afforded us so many motives and means for conftantly more unfolding these our noblest capacities, and for proceeding ever farther in knowledge and wisdom! Still indeed in various respects veiled and oppressed by night and darkness; still often deceived by sensuality and error; still only lisping children, still only feeble novices in the school of wisdom ; yet capable of an inceffant progress, of an always increasing perfection! And what does not this allow us to hope! What prospects does it not open to us in all future times and eternities! Yes, the truth that comes from thee and leads to thee, should be ever dearer and more dear to us, its investigation and its knowledge be increasingly more important; and nothing should render us dispirited and flothful in our pursuits after higher attainments in wisdom and perfection! And the more perfect here our knowledge is, the less we here can quench our thirst for truth and our longing after thee, its eternal source; the more ought we to rejoice in the sun of righteousness that has risen to us and poured its radiance on the path of immortality to which thou hast raised us through Jesus Christ; the more zealously ought we to strive, by the best, the most faithful use of the light thou hast now caused to shine upon us, to render ourselves capable and worthy of a far greater and brighter light from that full tide of glory, that one unclouded blaze which overflows thy courts, in the future world to explore the secrets of thy eternal empire. Teach us thyself, o gracious God, ever to appretiate more justly the advantages thou halt at present in this respect vouchfafed us, ever to prize them higher, and to apply them more and more to the greatest possible promotion of human happiness. Bless to this end the confiderations we purpose now to begin upon this subject, and let our prayer be well-pleasing in thy fight, through Jesus Christ, our lord, in whose blessed name and words we fum

up all our petitions, saying: Our father, &c.

I KINGS, X. 8.

Happy are thy men, happy are these thy fervants, which fand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

LEARNING, like the other privileges and en

dowments of mankind, is seldom judged of with strict propriety, is seldom taken for what it actually is. It has its panegyrists, who exaggerate its value, as well as its ignorant or haughty despisers, who refuse it the importance it deserves. Considered in its universal extent, to speak impartially, it has occasioned so much good and so much harm; has so frequently appeared under the most venerable aspect, and so frequently in the most ridiculous figure; and consists in fact of such a curious parcelled medley of important and unimportant

matters :

matters : that, in regard to the various fides it has, and the various effects it produces, as well as to the various persons that profess it, it must necessarily experience various and opposite opinions, one while deserving applause and admiration, and at another censure and contempt.

Upon the whole, it seems to have been more highly prized, and more honoured, in the early ages of antiquity, than in moderti times. Probably because it was less common; probably because the necessity and utility of it were in many respects more immediately felt, and the helps it afforded were more indispensable ; or perhaps, because it wore a more venerable or more mysterious countenance, and was attributed to a sublimer origin. Accordingly, the queen that we read of in our text, as coming from the wealthy Arabia to converse with Solomon, had a very high opinion of its value. She left her throne and her people, to hear and to improve by the wisdom, or, which in the language of those times is just the same, the learning of that monarch. Report having brought the fame of it into those distant regions, it at once excited her appetite for novelty and instruction; and now, on finding the truth of the matter to exceed even what report had made it, the exclaims in ad. miration, “ Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom !” Thus shewing that fhe preferred the erudition of Solomon before all his treasures, before all the splendour and magnificence


of his court. And this judgment does her the more honour, as it is so very seldom that the great and mighty of the earth are impartial enough to do juftice to eminent endowments of the mind, and to esteem them more than their own dazzling diftinctions.

Let us then, my pious hearers, endeavour alfo to settle our judgment on this matter. Many of my audience are learned themselves, or make literature their principal employment; and most of the rest have much connection and intercourse with that de. scription of men. For both the one and the other it is highly important to form a proper estimate of learning; and though I may possess but a small stock of it myself, yet its properties, nature and quality, and its influence on human happinefs, may not be utterly unknown to me; and it is more than possie ble that I may be able to pronounce upon it with the stricter impartiality, as I renounce on that score all pretensions to fame. Let us therefore investigate the value of learning; and to this end first make some 'remarks for properly ascertaining its worth then set that value in its proper light ; and lastly thence draw some rules for our conduct towards it.

By erudition or learning, I here understand the whole circle of human sciences and knowledge, that do not immediately relate to the fatisfying the first wants of nature; all knowledge and sciences that are rather necessary and peculiar to a particular class or body of men, than to mankind at large; whe


ther otherwise they be distinguished for diversity and extent, or for folidity and method, be they of the historical or philosophical species, and of more or less general utility. Whoever addicts himself to any one class or kind of such knowledge and science, devotes the greater part of his time and faculties to it, and therein excels others, bears and deserves the appellation of a man of learning. And, for rightly appretiating the value of this learning, we must previously make several remarks.

The first and most material is this: the value that learning has is not generally proper to it as a final object, but as means fubfervient to ultimate ends; and this it has in common with most of the other privileges and endowments that have a reference to human happiness. Particularkinds of knowledge, certain branches of learning, possess indeed an inherent value, an intrinsic and lasting worth ; but these are few in number. Under this head we may perhaps reckon most of our mathematical and astronomical knowledge, some of the more recondite philofophical studies, a part of our religious notions; whatever is eternal, unalterable, and everlastingly serviceable truth; all conceptions and ideas that are of account, in heaven as well as upon earth, among superior in. telligences as well as among mankind; and though we may not possess a great many such ideas and conceptions, yet are we not totally destitute of them, and they indisputably compose the most precious part of our knowledge. All that comes under this denomination besides has no value whatever, as an


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