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SER M. minds with worthy Notions of God, and


charitable Difpofitions towards our Neighbours, and make men wife unto Salvation ; are the things which God has proposed to us to converse with and meditate, to fix our thoughts and our ftudies upon. In other things, There is a Wisdom faith the Wise man, that multiplieth bitterness; and there is a Knowledge which bringeth nothing but weariness. To study the works of God and Nature fo, as therein to admire and adore the Wisdom of their Almighty Creator; to study and fearch out the great Truths of Religion in fuch a manner, as thereby to be perfwaded to conform our practice in earnest to the Rules of the divine Law; this only is truly worthy of a Man, and acceptable to God; this only is a study which will yield us prefent Satisfaction and future alfo; which will afford us the trueft Contentment now, and the folideft and moft fubftantial Joy at the laft. David found fuch fatisfaction in this Contemplation of the Works and of the Law of God, that he declares he could entertain himself with the Meditation of God's Law all the day long, and in the

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night feafon alfo he could think upon the SER M. fame, Pfal cxix. 55; and Solomon, who VI. had given his Curiofity the most unbounded liberty, and had beyond comparifon the largest extent of Knowledge that was ever attained by any mortal man whofe Wisdom compassed the whole Universe, and bis Underftanding and largeness of Heart was exceeding great, even as the Sand upon the fea-fhore; this great man (I fay,) when he came feriously to compare all things that he had obferved, and to confider the laft Iffue of things, he concludes all his Meditations with this wife Reflection, Ecclef. xii. 13; Let us bear the conclufion of the whole matter; Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole; the whole Duty, and the whole Happiness of Man. It remains that I proceed now in the

III. Third place, to fhow how great a Sin it is, not to regulate our Defires of Knowledge, by the forementioned Rules. And ift, To determine dogmatically in things not clearly revealed, and to take delight in impofing upon each other fuch Determinations, is in effect directly oppofing VOL. VI.




SER M.and ftriving against that Order and ConVI. ftitution of things, which God has appointed; and endeavouring to make ourfelves what God has not made us. of being thankful for those Faculties and Capacities, which God has freely endued us with, it is ungratefully murmuring against him, because he has not given us every thing that our unreasonable Fancies may fuggeft to us to defire, but has left us great occafions for Modefty, for mutual Charity and Forbearance. We are made capable of knowing and imitating our great Creator, and of being made happy. by that Knowledge and that Imitation; and is not this fufficient for us, unless we be admitted alfo to determine with peremptorinefs, and to impofe upon each other our own Opinions concerning those Secrets, which infinite Wisdom has not thought fit to reveal clearly to us? All other created Beings contain themselves willingly within the bounds of their Natures, and cheerfully move within the limits of the sphere that God has prescribed them; except finful men, lovers of Power, and infolent towards each other; and


excepting alfo thofe Apoftate Spirits, who SER M. kept not their first estate, but having revolted from God, are referved in chains

under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. That a proud afpiring after fomething not attainable by them in those circumftances wherein God had created and placed them, was the cause of these Angels Fall, the Scripture frequently intimates to us; As in that Allufion of the Prophet Ifaiah, ch. xiv. ver. 12; How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, Son of the Morning?—For thou hast faid in thine heart, I will afcend into Heaven, I wilt exalt my Throne above the Stars of God, I will fit also upon the mount of the Congregation, in the fides of the North; I will afcend above the heights of the Clouds, I will be like the most High; yet thou shalt be brought down to Hell, to the fides of the pit. Which though applied indeed in that place by the Pprophet to the King of Babylon, yet the Allufion feems to be borrowed from fome greater and higher Event. What it was in particular, that this Pride prompted those wicked Spirits to afpire to, the Scripture does not expreffly

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SER M. prefly acquaint us; But fince we cannot conceive that they could afpire to the Power and Majefty of God, which it was impoffible they could be fo weak as to imagine it could be aimed at by any created Being; it is probable their Crime might be the afpiring proudly and imperiously to fome degree or kind of Knowledge, which God had with-held from them. 2dly, The not regulating this Defire by the fore-mentioned rules, was the occafion of our First Parents Fall. This appears from the defcription of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: Gen. iii. 6; When the Woman faw that the Tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the Eyes, and a Tree to be defired to make one wife or knowing, she took of the Fruit and did eat. dent from the defcription of the manner of the Temptation: ver. 5; God doth know, faith the Tempter, that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as Gods, knowing Good and Evil. The Temptation propofed, was the Knowledge of Good and Evil; and That which principally prevailed upon the Wo

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