A SERMON Preached before the KING AT NEW-MARKET April 2. 1676.

BY SAMUEL SCATTERGOOD M. A. Fellow of Trinity College in Cambridge.

Published by his MAJESTIES special Command.

CAMBRIDGE, Printed by John Hayes, Printer to the Ʋniversity, 1676.

Job 28.28.

And unto Man he said, Behold the fear of the Lord that is Wisdom, and to depart from evil is Ʋnderstanding.

THere is nothing that Man doth more earnestly pur­sue and hunt after then Wisdom and Understand­ing; and there is nothing that God is more desirous that he should obtain. And yet such is the obstinacy of our will, and the perverseness of our Nature, that when God shews us the true wisdom and the way to it, we will not follow his directions, but seek for it ac­cording to our own fansie, where it is never to be had: And then no wonder if in the end we prove such fools, as to reap no other fruit of our labour but shame and repen­tance: no wonder if we meet with death [Page 2]where we expected life, and find destruction in those things wherein we sought for hap­piness. For it hath ever been the devils policy, even from the very beginning of the world, so cunningly to counterfeit this inestimable Jewel, that if we have not constant recourse to Gods Word, to trie every thing we take for wisdom by that unerring touchstone, and weigh it carefully in the ballance of the Sanctuary, we may easily be deceived with a worthless trifle instead of this pearl of great price; we may embrace a shadow for a substance, and court ignorance and folly in­stead of Wisdom and Understanding. Thus he overthrew our first Parents, by perswa­ding them to aspire to a greater measure of Knowledge then God had thought fit to be­stow upon them; and he hath all along made use of the same temptation to the ru­ine of their Posterity. He found it success­full then, and it hath been so ever since; and among all his wiles and stratagems he hath none by which he can so easily inveigle us as this; no bait so fair, so taking, and so universally prevalent among the Sons of men as this of Wisdom and Knowledge. Nay I may in some sense say that he hath no temptation at all by which he can move us but this alone. For did he not perswade [Page 3]men into a good opinion of themselves, and that their wicked actions were wise and prudent, he could never induce them to em­brace his temptations: and therefore he sutes them to every particular mans humour and disposition. He offers not the ladder of Honour to the Sluggard, upon which he knows the ambitious man will venture his life and fortunes; but he brings a pillow to the one, and a scepter to the other: he pro­pounds ease, and idleness, and sleep to the former, and perswades him that wisdom shall court him in a dream; and he shewes the latter all the kingdoms of the World and the glory of them, and tells him that Wisdom is to be found no where but in the highest honour and most splendid preferments. He tells the Miser that it consists in riches, and that he must hoard it up in his coffers, he tells the Glutton that he shall find it in a dainty dish, and he bids the Revenger drink it up in the blood of his enemies.

But above all other persons, those who one would think should be the best able to resist his temptations (I mean the Learned) are often times most easily foiled by him. Their great learning and parts, most excel­lent endowments, which might be very serviceable to Gods glory and the good of [Page 4]his Church, he perswades them to abuse in the maintaining of wrangling Disputati­ons, and unnecessary (and sometimes dan­gerous) Controversies. By which means he rents the seamless coat of Christ, divides the Church into Schisms and Factions, and shakes all into disorder and Confusion. He tells them, that to know Christ and him cru­cified is but a mean piece of knowledge, fit onely for men of weaker capacities to rest content with. But as for them, he would have them fore aloft, and employ their time and study about deeper contemplations: examine what God was doing before he cre­ated the World: scan all the intrigues of his Providence: sound the fathomless abyss of his unsearchable Decrees: rifle, if it were possible, his most secret closet, and curi­ously prie into those things which are con­cealed from Angels. This saith he, is Wis­dom, and this is Understanding worthy to be acquired by men of Parts and Learning.

And this vain and wicked Curiosity, this unlawfull thirst after that Knowledge, which is hidden from us, was the occasion of these words of my Text, and indeed of this whole Chapter. For Jobs three Friends were very bold, and foolishly positive in their assertions concerning Gods Decrees. [Page 5]They thought it was altogether inconsistent with his infinite Goodness to suffer either the Righteous to be in adversity, or the Wicked to prosper in this world. And there­fore when they considered that their friend Job, who but a while before had been a mighty Prince, was all of a sudden reduced to most extream poverty; and as it were in a moment, by unparalleled disasters, de­prived of his whole Estate, his Children, his health, and brought down from a Throne to a Dunghill, they stood all ama­zed and astonished at his unexpected cala­mity; and instead of performing the duty of Friends, and comforting him in his affli­ction, they most unfriendly and unchari­tably censure him. And as if they had been of Gods privy Counsell, had stood by him, and throughly understood the whole design of his Providence in afflicting so severely his servant Job, they presently conclude him to be a most grievous sinner; and that whatsoever specious and fair shews he had made of Righteousness and Integrity, yet they were all false and counterfeit, and that God had now unmasked him, and by his heavy judgements plainly discovered to all the world that he was a most notorious Hy­pocrite, and that he had marked him and [Page 6]set him up as a Butt against which he would shoot all the Arrows of his fury and indi­gnation.

All this Job hears and endures with pati­ence. He was sensible enough that God had afflicted him, and he knew too that it was not for his Hypocrisie, but for some se­cret end best known to his infinite Wisdom: and therefore he enquires not after it, but labours to perform his own Duty, and to receive evil from the Hand of God, if he sends it to him, as well as good, and pati­ently to bear whatsoever burden he laies up­on him; as one that was well assured that though in a little wrath he hid his face from him for a moment, yet with everlasting kindness he would have mercy on him.

This is all the wisdom he aspires to, he meddles not with Gods secret counsell, nor searches after the Knowledge which he knew was too wonderfull for him. And what he himself practises he advises his Friends here to practise too, and blames them for preten­ding so fondly to give an account of the acti­ons of Gods Providence, and for thirsting after that Wisdom which they can never at­tain to. 'Tis the subject of this whole chapter, in which he sets forth most eloquently the impossibility of ever acquiring this Wisdom, [Page 7]which God hath reserved to himself as his own peculiar prerogative. For when he hath made a carefull enquiry after it throughout all the world; ransak'd the Air, the Earth, the Sea; nay even hell it self, and yet not found it: he concludes in the 23 Verse of this Chapter that God understands the way thereof, and he knows the place thereof.

God understands it, and he onely under­stands it; and he will have none else to un­derstand it, or meddle with it. He hath or­dained another sort of Wisdom for Man to seek after, which though it will not satisfie the fond curiosity of every inquisitive Brain that is still longing for the forbidden Fruit, yet it will be sufficient to make every one that attains to it wise unto Salvation. And this is the Wisdom which is here recom­mended to us in my Text with this empha­ticall word Behold before it, to command our attention and to make us rouse up our spi­rits, and turn away our eyes from those Va­nities and that false Wisdom which we are too ready to follow after, and fix them up­on the true. And unto Man he said, Behold the fear of the Lord, that is Wisdom, and to depart from evil is Understanding.

In the handling of which words I shall en­deavour, First to shew what is here meane [Page 8]by the Fear of the Lord. Secondly, what it is to depart from evil. And thirdly prove that to depart from evil in the Name and Fear of the Lord is the greatest wisdom that Man is capable of. Of these in order.

And First of the fear of the Lord. There is a fear of the Lord which is not Wisdom, nor Understanding: nay it is Folly, it is Madness, it is Sin. I mean such a fear as is pe­culiar only to wicked men; a fear that repre­sents God to them frowning; armed with thunder, and ready to take vengeance on their crimes: a very unwelcome guest in their Breasts, which shews them as it were Hell in epitome, and gives them a taste here of those eternall torments which shall be their portion hereafter. This is the evil spi­rit from the Lord which troubled Saul. This is that fear which loosed the joints of Belshazzars loyns, and smote his knees one against another, when he beheld the hand-writing against him up­on the wall: that fear which made Cain a fugitive and a vagabond in the Earth; and drove Ahitophel and Judas to desperation. This is so far from being a blessing, that it is a curse, a vexation, a tormenting Fury which wicked men labour all they can to chase out of their hearts: but alas it is all in vain; it haunts them still, and will never depart [Page 9]from them, till they depart from evil. In­deed perhaps it may sometimes give them a little intermission: but yet it returns again with the greater violence. No place is se­cure from it where wicked men can come; but it follows and pursues them every where; embitters all their joyes and plea­sures; torments them day and night, and affrights them even in their dreams. This is one fear of the Lord; but not that fear which is here meant in my Text: for if this be all the wisdom man can attain to, surely then of all creatures he is the most mi­serable.

But we may go a degree further still, and yet come short of the true Fear of God. For there are some men that so fear Him, as that they will endeavour to abstain from gross and scandalous sins: but not out of any true love they have for God, or any hatred they bear to sin; but meerly out of Self-in­terest, that they may (if possible) escape that vengeance which they know will one day be executed upon the Ungodly.

I will not say that this fear is in all men a sin: for it is in some a Virtue; and if it be not the Wisdom here in the Text, yet it is at least a good step toward the obtaining of it. For as it is a true Maxim, that no man can all [Page 10]of a sudden become a most notorious sin­ner: so it is as true one the contrary, that no man that hath been a sinner (and such we are all by Nature) can, without such a mi­racle as was wrought at the Conversion of S. Paul, in the twinkling of an eye become a Saint of the first Magnitude. No, we must be content to acquire this perfection by de­grees; we must creep, before we can go: be Babes in Christ before we can be strong Men. We must pass from strength to strength; from grace to grace, before we can appear before God in Sion. For certainly God would never have set before us Life and Death; never have propounded to us in his word Rewards and Punishments; nor have told us of a cursed and a blessed Eternity, if he did not allow us to fear the one, and to desire the other.

Nay this fear of Gods wrath is so far from being unlawfull, that it is absolutely ne­cessary. We must receive the Spirit of Bondage to fear, before we can have that of Adoption to cry, Abba, Father. We must be affrighted by the severity of the Law, that we may be sen­sible how great need we have of a Saviour. Our wounds must be cleansed with a Cor­rosive before we pour in Oyl; and they must first smart with the Waters of Marah, [Page 11]before they be refreshed with the Balm of Gilead. We must fear God as an angry Judge, before we can love him as a tender Father; and we must tremble at his Terrours before we can adore his Mercy.

But although this fear be good in those Persons who are carefull to improve it, and make it a step to further Graces: yet it is sinfull and wicked in all those who rest con­tent with this, and never aim at any higher Perfection; but think that they are good Christians, if they abstain from some sins meerly out of hopes to escape damnation; though they never had (nor intend to have) any zeal for the Glory of God, nor any ha­tred for Sin: nay though indeed they love it at their heart, and could wish that there were no God to condemn them, nor Hell to torment them, that so they might have a license to commit wickedness even with greediness; to drink iniquity like water; and securely grati­fie all their lusts and corruptions. This is a second degree of the fear of God; or indeed it is rather the fear of Hell; or to speak most properly, 'tis the love of our selves.

I come now to shew you what the true fear of God is, that fear which the Text tells us is Wisdom. And this is such a fear of God as proceeds from love; nay indeed it is nothing [Page 12]else but love; not of our selves, as the former fear, but of God, as the onely object that can deserve our affections; as the greatest, the onely Good, and the sole author and foun­tain of all our Happiness. So then this Grace may be stiled indifferently either Fear or Love. And it is no mystery neither, Fear being ever an inseparable companion of Love. For he that loves fears nothing more then to offend the person whom he loves: and if he have the ill fortune to do it, is rea­dy to submit to any terms that will procure him a reconciliation. So it is with the Saints: they love God if not with an infinite, yet at least with an ineffable love, far above all the World. And by how much the greater their Love is, so much the greater is their Fear too. So that if their Love be infinite (and it is so in respect of its Object, which is infinitely glorious and infinitely good) then the fear also which they have of miscarrying in their Love, and displeasing that infinite Majesty which doth so well deserve their Love and Adoration must be infinite too.

This is that Fear which supported Job un­der his mighty afflictions; enabled him to baffle all Satans designs; made him triumph over the fury and malice of Hell, and trans­ported him to that incomparable expression [Page 13]of the confidence he reposed in his God, Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. He knew that so long as he retained his integrity, however God seemed for the present to frown upon him, yet he would not cast him off for ever. He knew that this storm would ere long blow over, and that the sun-shine of Gods favour would again enlighten him, and break through this black cloud, which for a while seemed to intercept it. But come what will on't; whether he live or die, he is resolved both to live & to die in the Fear of the Lord. This is his Load-star, by which like a skilfull Pilot he steers through the tem­pest. And though his riches have made them­selves wings and are fled from him: though his children be all slain in a moment: though his friends brand him for an Hypocrite, and the wife of his bosom rail against him, and give him that desperate and hellish counsell, to curse God and die: though he is become a laughing-stock to those Persons whose fathers once he would have disdained to have set with the dogs of his flock: though he be thus forsaken of all the world, destitute, afflicted, tormented, and in all outward appearance forsaken even of God himself too, and made a ruefull spe­ctacle of his wrath and indignation; yet he sins not for all this, nor charges God fooli [...], [Page 14]nay he cleaves to him the closer, well know­ing that notwithstanding he seemed to be his enemy, he was still in reality his greatest, his onely friend. And therefore he worships him as well when the days of af­fliction have taken hold on him, as when God preser­ved him, and made his candle to shine upon his head. He adores him as much on the Dunghill as on the Throne; praises his Name as well when his head is covered with ashes, as if it wore a Diadem; and gives him thanks, when he hath left him nothing but a potsheard to scrape his sores, as heartily as when he made him the greatest of all the men of the East, and crowned him with loving kindness and tender mercies.

This I say is that fear which carried Job through such a sea of troubles; armed him against the strength and policy of Satan, and made him a glorious Conquerour over Principalities and Powers. A fear which is as comfortable, as the former is terrible. That represents God to us as the greatest evil, and drives us from him as from a con­suming fire: this makes us long for him (as in reality he is) as the greatest Good, and wish that we had wings like a Dove that we might fly into his embraces. That is a fear of his Justice, and this of his Mercy; that a fear of punishment, and this of sin. In a word, [Page 15]that is a flash from Hell fire, and this is a glimpse of the joyes of Heaven. This then is the true fear of God which is here meant in the Text, and that fear which every man must get into his heart, as he tenders his eternall Salvation. I do not say that every man shall be damned that attains not to that Seraphick Perfection which was in Job, and S. Paul, and many others of Gods most eminent Saints: but certainly this I may fasely say, that whosoever doth not either actually attain to it, or else heartily be wall and lament his want of it, and earnestly beg of God that he would bestow it on him, is very far from the Kingdom of Heaven.

And now what I promised to shew you in the next place, viz. what it is to depart from evil, I have in some measure performed al­ready: for this is a necessary consequence and fruit of the fear of the Lord. I shall there­fore tell you onely in a word what this evil is which we must depart from; and that is sin: which, if we consider it aright, is the onely thing in the world which we can properly call evil. For every thing is good that God hath made, and God hath made every thing else but sin. That he utterly disclaims; 'tis the work of the Devil and Man, and not of God. Nay 'tis so far from [Page 16]being a work of his, that it defaces and destroys his work. 'Tis a burden which wearies the whole Creation; yea and the Creatour himself too: for the Scripture tells us that because of this it repented the Lord that he had made Man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. The whole earth had been one continued and universall Paradise untill this day, had not sin turned it into a De­sert. 'Tis this which hath made the Heaven o­ver our heads to be Brass, and the Earth under us to be Iron, and caused it to bring forth thorns and thistles instead of wheat and barley. There had been no sickness, had not sin cursed the ve­ry food we put into our mouths, and made us eat our poison. There had been no death, had not sin armed him and sharpned his sting. There had been no Devil, had not sin blackt him; and there had been no Hell, had not sin kind led Gods wrath, and blown up that flame which never shall be quenched.

It remains then that sin, which is the cause of all this, is the onely true and reall evil in the world. And if so then surely to depart from such an evil must needs be Un­derstanding, which brings me to the third and last particular,

Which is this, That to depart from this e­vil [Page 17]of sin in the Name and Fear of the Lord, is the greatest wisdom that Man is capable of. But then we must be sure to do it in the fear of the Lord. For otherwise though we have never so ardent an affection and love for Virtue; though we depart from vice with never so much care and vigilancy (for wholly depart from it no man can) we shall still be but fools in the end. To fear god and to depart from evil are inseparable companions: they are constantly joined together in Scripture; and what God hath joined let not Man put asunder. Job was perfect and up­right, saith the Text, one that feared God, and eschewed evil. By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil, saith Solomon. And if we will per­fect Holiness, S. Paul will tell us that it must be done in the fear of God. These two are like Soul and Body; one cannot be com­pleat without the other. Fear the Lord aright we cannot, except we depart from evil: and we cannot depart from evil, except we fear the Lord. This crowns all our actions, and makes our weak and imperfect endeavours after Holiness to be accepted of in Heaven, through the merits of Christ.

And now that thus to depart from Evil is our greatest Wisdom, what need I spend many words to prove? Methinks, there [Page 18]should be no man so destitute of reason as not readily to acknowledge it. But though we have all reason enough to discern the excellency of this Wisdom: yet in most men that is but a slave to their lusts, which tyrannize over them, and lead them captive with open eyes to meet their destruction. The ambitious man knows what a Kingdom is prepared for the Saints from the foundation of the World; and yet he will forfeit it for the breath of the Multitude. The Miser knows that it would be better for him to lay up for himself treasures in Heaven then upon Earth; and yet for all that he will have his inheritance on this side Jordan, and sell his Soul that he may enrich his Heir. The Swearer knows that everyone that swears shall be cut off; and yet he prefers this gentile and modish embellish­ment of his discourse before all the An­thems and Musick of the Heavenly Chore. The Voluptuous man knows that the love of Christ to his Church passes the love of Wo­men; and yet a smile from Beauty will move him more then all the melting entreaties and passionate importunities of a wooing Saviour. Thus though our reason ac­knowledges this Wisdom, yet our lusts dis­avow it; and most of us I fear, are as careless in the practise of it, as we are apt to be loud [Page 19]in its commendation. Seeing therefore that we have all by Nature such a propensity in us to gratifie our lust rather then to obey our reason; I hope as I shall encourage all those wise and happy Souls that have found this inestimable Treasure, to the carefull keeping of it; so I shall not deterr those unhappy Persons from seeking it that have hitherto despised it, if according to my abi­lity I endeavour to evidence the worth of it briefly in these three following particulars. First, it will deliver us from the greatest Evil. Secondly, it will procure for us the greatest Good. And Thirdly, all other Wis­dom without this is but meer folly; but this of it self alone, without the help and con­currence of any thing else, which the world calls Wisdom, is sufficient to make us happy.

First, This departing from evil in the fear of the Lord is our greatest Wisdom, because it will deliver us from the greatest evil both here, and hereafter; from Sin and Hell. This Fear secures us from all other fears whatso­ever. He that fears not God fears every thing; and so long as he hath the Creatour for his enemy, thinks (as well he may) that the whole creation is armed against him for his destruction. There is nothing so mean and contemptible, but it can make him [Page 20]tremble. He is jealous even of his own sha­dow, lest it should be some Imp sent to de­vour him. He sympathizes with every sha­king leaf he hears, and flees (as Solomon speaks) when no man pursues him. His heart misgives him at every thing, and he hath such a continuall faintness upon him, as God threatens to send upon the rebellious Israe­lites. He finds no true satisfaction in any thing; hath no comfort in any of his acti­ons, nor in any of his hours: but in the mor­ning he saith would God it were evening, and in the evening, would God it were morning. All the reme­dies he makes use of, so long as he neglects this one in my Text, are but like water gi­ven to one that is sick of a feaver; so far from healing, that they augment and enrage his distemper. His Friends, his merry Com­panions, and his full Bowls however they may seem for a while to mitigate his pain, to deafen the cries of his guilty Conscience, and stave off that worm which gnaws him; yet he will find in the end that he takes his measures false, and that he drinks his Poi­son instead of his Antidote. For Conscience will still cry, yea and cry the louder too, the more he endeavours thus to silence it. And that Worm, though perhaps it forbear a little; yet it will return again more fiercely [Page 21]then ever, and bite with a greater fury, with a sharper appetite.

What folly then, what madness is this, to harbour such an implacable enemy in our bosom, as will suffer us to enjoy no peace, nor comfort in this World; yea and will fol­low us into the next World too, and there torment us to Eternity! And if it be the greatest folly to run into such an uncon­ceivable evil as this; then certainly on the contrary, it must needs be the greatest wis­dom imaginable to avoid it: or if we be fallen into it, to make a speedy escape out of it again. And to do this no other course can be taken but that which my Text here prescribes to us, To fear the Lord, and to depart from evil.

But secondly, as this Wisdom delivers us from the greatest evil, so it procures for us also the greatest good. To rescue a man from danger, and afterwards to take no fur­ther care of him, is no extraordinary kind­ness. But as Pharaoh did by Joseph, to exalt a man from a Prison to a Palace; to knock off his iron shackles, and put him on a ring of gold; not onely to give him his freedom, but to make him Ruler over a mighty Kingdom, is a favour beyond all expecta­tion. But this, and much more, doth this [Page 22]Wisdom do for us. If it had onely rescued us from that everlasting misery to which we are all obnoxious; it had then been no common Benefactour: but it does more for us then so. It does not onely deliver us from Hell, but it entitles us to Heaven. It does not onely free us from the bondage and tyranny of Sin and Satan; but it advan­ces us also into the glorious liberty of the Children of God. It does not onely pluck us from the jaws of that roaring Lion; but it lodges us safe and secure in the arms of our Saviour.

And now as he that hath not this Fear of God before his eyes fears every thing; so he that hath it fears nothing else, but God a­lone. This Fear arms and fortifies him a­gainst whatsoever appears to other men for­midable. He cares not, though the whole world be his enemy, while God is his Friend. He is not to be won by its enticements, nor daunted by its threatnings: but he stands firm and unshaken upon this rock, exalted above its frowns and smiles.

Conscience, that is so terrible an enemy to him that fears not God, is his most faith­full friend (and it is as comfortable a friend, as it is a dreadfull enemy) It alwaies joyns with God, it is his Vice-roy to pronounce that sentence on Earth which he passes in [Page 23]Heaven. While this therefore tells him that God is his refuge and strength; he may say with the Psalmist what follows, I will not fear though the Earth be removed, and though the Mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. This will enable him to comport and demean himself like a Child of God in all conditions. It will teach him with S. Paul, in whatsoever state he is therewith to be content. This will sweeten every bitter cup. This will lighten the burden of his affliction. This will make all his bed in his sick­ness. This will fill him with joy even at the hour of his death, and enable him to deliver up his soul into the hand of God with com­fort, and full assurance of a blessed Resur­rection. And then in that great and terrible day of the Lord, wherein the Heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the Elements shall melt with fervent heat; when the whole World shall tremble, and neither Heaven nor Earth be able to abide the dreadfull approach of that great Judge, but both shall pass away and be consumed be­fore him; when the Wicked shall call in vain to the Mountains and Rocks to fall on them, and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn: Then shall Con­science shew it self to be a most faithfull friend; embolden him to lift up his head with joy; plead for him against all his Accusers, and through the merits and mercy of Christ [Page 24]acquit him at that grand Tribunal: Then shall this Wisdom as it hath freed him from the greatest evil, from sin and hell; so also confer upon him the greatest Good, and in­vest him with eternall Holiness and Hap­piness.

Thirdly and lastly, All other Wisdom without this is but meer Folly; but this of it self alone, without the help and concur­rence of any thing else which the world calls Wisdom, is sufficient to make us eter­nally happy. For in what else shall we place Wisdom, if not in the Fear of the Lord? Shall we place it in pleasures? Alas there are none to be found any where, but at Gods right hand. The pleasures of this world are but torments: they seem perhaps to delight us a little for the present; but soon after they sting us to the heart. Shall we place it in Riches? They are but fading and perish­ing enjoyments, and must shortly leave us: and if they should tarry with us never so long, the wise man tells us, that they profit not in the day of wrath. Shall we place it in Ho­nour? there is nothing more uncertain then that: for though it be never so splendid and glorious for a while; yet it must ere long be laid in the dust. Indeed Honour and Autho­rity is so far from being an ordinary and in­different [Page 25]thing; that if we consider it aright, it is perhaps the greatest temporal Blessing that God hath to bestow upon Man: and Kings and Rulers have this happiness above the rest of Mankind, that they have power to do more good in the world, and to bring greater glory to God then inferiour per­sons, and consequently may procure for themselves a more honourable Throne, and a brighter Crown in Heaven. All shall be there full of glory, and every one perfectly satisfied and content with his own conditi­on: but yet there shall be a difference; and while some shall but twinkle as the Stars, others shall shine as the Sun. The meanest Subject that hath been loyal to his King, and obedient to his God, shall at the last day be rewarded with an incorruptible Crown; for we shall all be Kings and Priests unto God. But I know not any thing in Scripture that doth not freely permit a godly and re­ligious Prince to hope to be as highly ad­vanced above his Subjects in Heaven, as e­ver he was here one Earth, if he manages his Sceptre with this Wisdom here in my Text, which will be sure to establish his Throne, and make his Crown to flourish. Again, shall we place Wisdom in Lear­ning? This also, if it be sanctified by Grace, [Page 26]is a very great Blessing: but without that it is as great a Curse; without Grace it will but enable a man to sin more powerfully: in­somuch that he that hath a learned head, and an unsanctified heart, may almost stand in competition with the Devil himself, who should be the Master worker of iniquity, and gain most Proselytes to the kingdom of Darkness. The ignorantest Pesant may make a sorry shift to grope out his way to hell, e­ven blindfold: but the learned Atheist sees so many roads to it, that he will pick and chuse his way so discreetly, as to be sure to provide for himself one of the hottest places. S. Paul had continued a Persecutour to his dying day, notwithstanding all that Learning that he got at the feet of Gamaliel, had he not also learned Christ. And therefore he professes this to be the onely true Wisdom: for, saith he, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, Phil. 3.8.

But to rise yet one step higher then Lear­ning can advance us. Suppose God should endue us with the Spirit of Prophesie to foretell things to come; or with a power to work Miracles and to cast out devils; yet we should be never the nearer to Hea­ven for all this, without the Wisdom here in my Text. For one of these faculties was be­stowed [Page 27]on Balaam; and yet, for all his good wishes 'tis probable that he died not the death of the Righteous: and the other on Judas; and yet himself was a Devil. Alas what were we the better, if we knew the hour of our death; if we knew too that from that hour our everlasting punishment should bear its date? What would it profit us, though we knew the minute when the Archangel should begin to sound his Trump; if we knew withall that that sound should summon us to hear the Sentence of our eternall condemnation? Such Wisdom as this would be so far from making us hap­py, that it would antedate our misery, and torment us before the time. All other things then, so long as we want this one thing which is needfull, will be but weak Advocates to plead our cause before Christs Tribunal.

And as all the Wisdom of the world will profit us nothing without this, so this of it self alone is sufficient to make us happy. He that hath never been either at Rome or Athens; nay though he knows not so much as one letter of the Alphabet, is wise enough, if he hath but learned the Cross of Christ. He that is never so poor, hath wealth enough, if he be but rich in Faith; and though he appear to men as having nothing, yet possesses all things. The Brother [Page 28]of low degree, that is never so mean and con­temptible in the eyes of the world, if he hath but this Wisdom in the Text, is highly honourable in the sight of God.

But to what purpose should I spend any more words in illustrating the incompa­rable worth of this Wisdom, which as it deserves all, so it needs no commendation? I will therefore detain you no longer, but conclude all in the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, cap. 9. v. 23, 24. Thus saith the Lord, Let not the Wise man glory in his wisdom, nei­ther let the Mighty man glory in his Might; let not the Rich man glory in his Riches. But let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgement, and righteousness in the Earth: for in these things I de­light, saith the Lord.


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