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cause it both cleanses and purges all noxious humours, and nourishes and strengthens the body: and the 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 comparifon, he adds, foshall the knowledge of wisdom be to thy soul, when thou hast found it; i. e. it shall minister to the purification,
strength, 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 of Wisdom does not only perfect 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 may pronounce 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 obstru£t these great ends, these we are to despise and slight, to soun 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 fome, but no very great regard or esteem. But whatever knowledge that be which is attended by these fruits, this is that which we are to search for as for hidden treafure : this is that which, when we have found it, we are to value above the gold of Ophir, the Topaz, and the carbuncle, and all precious stones. The distinguishing characters then of illuminating truths are four.
1. They purify us.
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, Pfal.cxix. and elsewhere. And the New Testament frequently afcribes to faith and hope, that they purify the heart, 1 John iii. 3. Afts xv. And this sure is the first thing necessary to the perfecting the foul of man. 'Tis with the foul, as with the body; it must be first cléanfed from hurtful humours, before it can be fed and nourished; purged of its errors and vices, ere it can be enriched with divine virtues, and attain that liberty and strength,
wherein consists the true greatness and excellence of the mind of man. The first 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 : and the first step towards the Perfection of wife dom, is the dispelling those errors, which deceive and mislead the mind, and pervert life. What thefe were in the yew and Gentiles, and what they are at this day in us, it is easy enough to discern. The mind of man, as far as I can observe, is naturally prone to Religious worship. Not only the confideration of the wonderful mechanism and contrivance of the world, and of events, ftrange, fudden, and unaccount
but also the confcience of his own impotence and obnoxiousness, inclining him to the belief, and prompting him to feek the patronage of an invisible all-fufficient power. In the next place, the mind of man is ever prone to propose to him some great, fome soveraign good; in which he may acquiefce, and by which he may fecure himfelf as well as he can, against the indigence and poverty of his nature, and the changes and revolutions, the disasters and the miseries, to which this mortol ftate is exposed. These are two things of that importance, thar no man can err in them, but the error must prove fatal ta his repofe. He that sets up to himself
for his ultimate end, an empty and uncer. tain good, instead of a solid and eternal one, must needs be as miserably deluded and disappointed, as he must, who fets up to himself a falfe God instead of the true; or goes
about to endear and recommend himfelf to the true, by a falfe and superstitious worship. 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 đark 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 worthip 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 respecter of persons, as fond and partial to the nation; and as delighted with a religion, made up of
numerous rites and ceremonies, and external observances. And this could not but have a very sad influence upon their religion, as it really had: the holiness which is truly acceptable to God, being neglected and abolished; and Sadducism or Pharifaism, i. e. fenfuality or bypocrisy, introduced in the room of it. And as to their ultimate end or supreme good, the Sadducees denied the resurrection, angels, and spirits; and therefore 'tis not to be expected they should entertain any design above the pleasure of the body. And though the Pharisees acknowledged angels and a resurrection ; 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 a 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 Ifrael, advanced and establisied in the world that doctrine, which