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SERMON I.

The wisdom of searing GOD.

Job XXVIII. 28.

And unto man he said: behold the fear os the Lord, that is wisdom 3 and to depart from e<v'tl, is understanding.

jAnkind is generally ambitious to be thought wise and intelligent. Knowledge is the pride of human nature; and there is nothing that we bear so ill as the imputation of ignorance and folly. To be reproached . on the account of external things, such as a mean extraction, and a mean condition, a deformed body, or a narrow fortune, is not at all agreeable: but B yer,

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yet, irksome as it is, it is more tolerable than to be upbraided with want of judgment and good sense. For if men deride us upon any of the former accounts, they expose themselves rather than us; and betray their own weakness and folly, in despising us for things which give no just occasion for contempt, because they do not detract from real merit. But want of judgment and discretion argues either- dulness and stupidity, or negligence and inattention: both of which are so disgraceful, and so much tend to sink a man's character and reputation, that it is not to be wonder'd at if a charge of this nature gives great uneasiness and disturbance.

Most men are willing to be reputed wise: but in vain do. they pretend to wisdom, whilst they are destitute of the fear of the Lord; for it is this which God himself hath distin'guished by the name of wisdom. And unto man he said, i. e. God said, behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wif dom. Job had before been discoursing concerning the wisdom of God in the works of creation j which he acknowledges to be above the comprehension of any creature, and only to be fathomed thomed by God himself the great author of them. Where /hall wisdom be found, and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof neither is it found in the land of the living, 'The depth faith it is not m me, and the sea faith it is not with me, God underjiandeth the way thereof and he knoweth the place thereof. For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and feeth under the whole heaven, to make the weight for the winds, and he weighetb the waters by measure. When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder, then did he see it and declare it, he prepared it, yea and searched it out. But tho this is a wisdom peculiar to the divine being, yet there is another wisdom which is proper to man, and attainable by him. jind unto man he said, behold the fear of the Lord that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding. In handling this subject I willr

First, Give a description of the fear of the Lord.

Secondly* Prove that the fear of the Lord is wisdom.

thirdly, Make application.

B a First,

First, I will give a description of the Jear of the Lord.

By the fear of the Lord is meant religion and virtue. It is a term that frequently occurs in the old testament j and it is put for the whole of our duty. Solomon says, that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil, Prov. VIII. 13. God says to Abraham, Gen. XXII. 12. Now I know that thou fearejl God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only Jon from me. 'Tis as if he had said, ' thy obedience in so difficult and 'trying a case, is an undeniable proof * of thy being a good and religious man.' It is said, I Kings XVIII. 3. Obadiah feared the Lord greatly. And it is observable, that the historian justifies this character which he had given of him, by instancing in an act of kindness which he did to the servants of God ; ver. 4. For it was so when Jezebel cut of the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water. His tender and compassionate regard to the poor opprefled prophets, is made use of as an argument to prove that he feared the Lord, And if mercy,

which is but one branch of religion, gives a man a right to this character, how much more does the practice of universal virtue? The same thing may be argued from Psalm CXI. 10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of •wisdom; a good understanding have all they who do his commandments. Where you see what is called the fear of the Lord in the former part of the verse, is exprefled by doing his commandments in the latter. And so in the text, to depart from evil, in the last clause, is plainly of the fame import with the fear of the Lord, in the first. Eccles. XII. 13. Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole of man. So that to fear God, and to keep his commandments, are synonymous phrases. But the fear of the Lord, is a thing of that vast importance, that it deserves to be more parti" ly explained.

I. The fear of the Lord supposes the belief of some principles: and particularly these two j viz. that there is a God, and that he will reward virtue and goodness. Thus the apostle to the Hebrews teaches us, Heb. XI. 6. He that cometh to God, i. e. he who is religious (for coming to God in the new B 3 testament

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