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Secr.III. went into it, might, perhaps, find his m ediary contained in a less compass, than
at present he is apt to imagine......
CERTAIN, however, it is, that for the productions of wisdom we are indebted to solitude, as the parent of attention. And therefore many, in all ages, have followed St. John into the wilderness, and chosen retirement, not out of, any morofeness of temper, or misanthropy, but that they might give themselves, without let or molestation, to the pursuit of divine knowlege. In this situation, they found themselves always at liberty to chuse their companions. They could converse at pleasure with patriarchs and prophets, apostles, martyrs, and confessors, with devout and learned bishops, and others, who once adorned the church by their lives, and have continued, since their deaths, through many generations, to edify her by their writings. Here they could rally their scattered thoughts, and fix them upon subjects, whence they might extract real profit, and durable pleasure. For meditations, while employed, in a general and cursory way, upon a variety
of objects, like the rays of light-diffu- Secr. III. fed in the air, difçover not the force and activity which they poffess; it is close attention which collects and unites, and renders them operative. And an ability to bestow that close attention in a crowd, is: granted to very few among the fons of men. Det er joins : A DISPASSIONATE and unprejudiced ftate of mind is another requisite for the attainment of true wisdom. And as our sentiments take the tincture of our company, persons continually engaged in the world are very liable to be corrupted, as well as diffipated. He who paffeth his time with men of base and antiscriptural tenets, will insensibly become one of them, and will find, when it is too late, that “evil communications “ corrupt” good principles, as well as ' good manners.” The understanding will be blinded, and the heart hardened : wisdom will be shut out at every avenue; and the man will fit down in darkness and depravity, for the remainder of his days, determining with himself that there is no such thing as truth, without ever being at the trouble of making the
Sect.III. enquiry. Happy, therefore, is he who,
in privacy, and there acquainteth-him-
“ them.” Hence they become more Sect. III. folicitous about the defence of their own particularities against those of other sectaries, than careful to advance and propagate the general principles of trụe religion. This hath been but too much the case for some time past in Christendom, which, like Jerusalem before it's destruction, is crumbled into innumerable parties, biting and devouring one another ; insomuch that it is now difficult for one writer to lay down a pofition in theology, which another shall not immediately set himself to controvert with all his might, as heretical and antichristian. The dispute foon becomes a trial of skill, and the passions and prejudices of the combatants spread a cloud over the question, in which truth and charity often vanish together. Thus dark and tempestuous are these lower regions. But, by study and meditation in folitude, the Christian, in heart and mind, ascendeth to a purer element, from whence he beholdeth the storms produced by contending factions far beneath him, and expatiateth at pleasure in those fields of light and serenity,
Secr.III. which open themselves on all sides to
h is view. He confoleth himfelf by
contemplating the church, as the for merly fubfisted in original purity and unity, and as she will hereafter exist in her triumphant state above, when her members of every age and nation shall all lift up their voices together, and make their sound to be heard as one, in giving Glory to God, and to the Lamb. Disencumbered of passions and prejudices, he followeth after the truth which leadeth to godliness, and the wisdom whose end is salvation.
For the attainment of that wisdom a third thing requisite is divine illumination. Wisdom is one of those “ good “ and perfect gifts,” which « come “ down from the Father of lights," and must be sued for, with humility and fervour, in petitions like these ---“Give “me wisdom that fitteth by thy throne, “and reject me not from among thy “ children --- For though a man be “ never so perfect among the children w of men, yet if thy wisdom be not “ with him, he shall be nothing re“garded --- O send her out of thy holy