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SERM. thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear
So considerable is each part of learning, so extremely profitable are some parts of it. Indeed the skill of any liberal art is valuable, as a handsome ornament, as an harmless divertisement, as an useful instrument upon occasions; as preferable to all other accomplishments and advantages of person or fortune, (beauty, strength, wealth, power, or the like;) for who would not purchase any kind of such knowledge at any rate; who would sell it for any price; who would not choose rather to be deformed or impotent in his body, than to have a mishapen and weak mind; to have rather a lank purse, than an empty brain; to have no title at all, than no
worth to bear it out; if any would, he is not of 1 Kings iv. Solomon's mind; for of wisdom (by which he mean
eth a comprehension of all knowledge, divine and human; into which the knowledge of natural things,
of mathematics, of poetry, are reckoned ingredients) Prov.iii.14. he saith, The merchandise of it is better than the
merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold; she is more precious than rubies, and
all the things thou canst desire are not to be comProv. viii,, pared unto her. Her fruit is better than gold, xx.15. iv.7. yea than fine gold; and her revenue than choice
Now then, considering all these advantages of our calling, if we by our negligence or sluggishness therein do lose them, are we not very ingrateful to God, who gave them, as with a gracious intent for our good, so with expectation that we should improve them to his service? If God had allotted to us the calling of rustics, or of artificers, we had been
impious in not diligently following it; but we are SERM. abominably ingrateful in neglecting this most in- LIV. comparably excellent vocation.
Are we not extremely defective to ourselves, if indulging a wretched humour of laziness we will not enjoy those sweet pleasures, nor embrace those great profits to which God in mercy calleth us?
If Solomon said true, He that getteth wisdom Prov.xix.8. loveth his own soul, he that keepeth understanding shall find good ; how little friends are we to ourselves, how neglectful of our own welfare, by not using the means of getting wisdom !
The heart of him that hath understanding seek- Prov. xv. eth knowledge, saith Solomon; what a fool then is he that shunneth it! who, though it be his way, and his special duty to seek it, yet neglecteth it; choosing rather to do nothing, or to do worse.
And do we not deserve great blame, displeasure, and disgrace from mankind, if, having such opportunities of qualifying ourselves to do good, and serve the public, we by our idleness render ourselves worthless and useless ?
How, being slothful in our business, can we answer for our violating the wills, for abusing the goodness, for perverting the charity and bounty of our worthy founders and benefactors, who gave us the good things we enjoy, not to maintain us in idleness, but for supports and encouragements of our industry? how can we excuse ourselves from dishonesty, and perfidious dealing, seeing that we are admitted to these enjoyments under condition, and upon confidence (confirmed by our free promises and most solemn engagements) of using them according to their pious intent, that is, in a diligent
SERM. prosecution of our studies, in order to the service of LIV. God, and of the public?
Let every scholar, when he mispendeth an hour, or sluggeth on his bed, but imagine that he heareth the voice of those glorious kings, or venerable prelates, or worthy gentlemen, complaining thus, and rating him: Why, sluggard, dost thou against my will possess my estate? why dost thou presume to occupy the place due to an industrious person? why dost thou forget or despise thy obligations to my kindness ? thou art an usurper, a robber, or a purloiner of my goods, which I never intended for such as thee; I challenge thee of wrong to myself, and of sacrilege toward my God, to whose service I devoted those his gifts to me.
How reproachful will it be to us, if that expostuProv. xvii. lation may concern us, Wherefore is there a price
in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it?
If to be a dunce or a bungler in any profession be shameful, how much more ignominious and infamous to a scholar to be such! from whom all men expect that he should excel in intellectual abilities, and be able to help others by his instruction and advice.
Nothing surely would more grate on the heart of one that hath a spark of ingenuity, of modesty, of generous good nature, than to be liable to such an imputation.
To avoid it therefore, (together with all the guilt and all the mischiefs attending on sloth,) let each of us, in God's name, carefully mind his business ; and let the grace and blessing of God prosper you therein. Amen.
THE UNSEARCHABLENESS OF GOD'S
Rom. xi. 33.
finding out! THESE words are the close of a disputation, SERM.
LV. wherein St. Paul was engaged with the advocates of Judaism, concerning God's providence toward his ancient people, in rejecting the greatest part of them, upon their refusal to embrace the Christian doctrine; and in admitting the Gentile world to favour upon its compliance with the overtures thereof proposed in the gospel. In this proceeding those infidels could not discern God's hand, nor would allow such a dispensation worthy of him, advancing several exceptions against it: God, said they, having espoused and consecrated us to himself; having to our fathers, in regard to their piety, made so absolute promises of benediction on their posterity; having consequently endowed us with such privileges and choice pledges of his favour; having taken so much pains with us, and performed so great things in our behalf; having so long avowed, supported, and cherished us; how can it well consist with his wisdom, with his justice, with his fidelity,
SERM. with his constancy, thus instantly to abandon and LV.
repudiate us? Doth not this dealing argue his former affections to have been misplaced ? Doth it not implead his ancient covenant and law of imperfection? Doth it not supplant his own designs, and unravel all that he for so many ages hath been doing? Upon such accounts did this dispensation appear very strange and scandalous to them: but St. Paul, being infallibly assured of its truth, doth undertake to vindicate it from all misprisions, rendering a fair account of it, and assigning for it many satisfactory reasons, drawn from the general equity of the case, from the nature of God, his attributes, and his relations to men; from the congruity of this proceeding to the tenour of God's providence, to his most ancient purposes, to the true intent of his promises, to his express declarations and predictions; to the state of things in the world, and the pressing needs of all mankind : such reasons (I say, which I have not time more explicitly to relate) doth the apostle produce in favour of this great dispensation; the which did suffice to clear and justify it from all their objections: yet notwithstanding, after that he had steered his discourse through all these rocks, he thought it safe to cast anchor ; winding up the contest in this modest intimation, that whatever he could say, might not perhaps exhaust the difficulty, or void all scruple; that therefore in this, and in all such cases, for entire satisfaction, we should have recourse to the incomprehensible wisdom of God, who frequently in the course of his providence doth act upon grounds, and ordereth things in methods, transcending our ability to discover or trace: to consider some causes and reasons of which incom