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fear the Lord. The Root; that is to say, S E R M. the first Ground and Principle, the first II. Capacity and Disposition to receive Religious Truths ; that which makes the Mind susceptible and apt to apprehend them; that which makes them easy and pleasant to be understood. For Wisdom Wisd. vi. goeth about, seeking such as are worthy of 16,17,14: ber; he jbewerb berself favourably unto them in the Ways, and meeteth tbem in eve-' ry thought: For the very true Beginning of ber, is the desire of Discipline ; And wbofo feeketh ber early, Mall have no great travel, for be shall find ber fitting at bis Doors. -"

FURTHER ; as a virtuous Disposition of Mind is the best preparative for beginning the Study of Religion ; fo Practise and Experience in the course of a Virtuous Life and in the Obedience of God's Commands, is in continuance the best information and perpetual improvement of a man's Understanding and Judgment in the Knowledge of Divine Truths. He that keepeth the Law of the Lord, getteth the Understanding thereof, says the wise San of Sirach; and the perfection of the Fear of the Lord, is Wisdom, Eccluf. xxi. 11. E

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Serm.vil men understand not judgment ; but they

II. that seek the Lord; understand all things, M Prov. xxviii. 5. He that practises what

he knows, improves his Knowledge con-
tinually by that Practise; and by Actions,
even more than by Speculation and Stu-
dy, is the. Understanding of practical
Truths inlarged. In the common Affairs,
of the present Life, 'tis obvious that Men
of Business, Experience and Diligence,
are generally much better Judges in their
proper Employments, than Others who for
Parts and Learning may perhaps in other
respects be esteemed much superior. And
so it is likewise in Matters of Religion.
Not the Wise and Crafty, not the learned
and profound, not the subtle Arguers in
Speculation and Dispute, are the best In-
structors in the Duty of a Christian ; but,
in these matters, rather the mouth of the
Just, (fays Solomon,) bringeth forth Wife
dom, and the Lips of the Righteous knowo.
what is acceptable, Prov. x. 31, 32, There
is a Spirit and a Life in the Discourse of a
Righteous Man, proceeding from the Sin-,
cerity of an Upright Heart; which no
Skill nor Art can imitate. There is a
Knowledge and Discernment arising from.

virtuous

RM

virtuous Practises which another man S erm? cannot learn from him that has it, but II. by going himself and doing likewise. The Pure in Heart fee God bere, as well as hereafter, after another manner, than vi. tious and profane · Philosophers argue about him. And as, with regard to worldly - Employments, men of Parts and Learning can dispute and contend about them, without understanding them; but Those only are truly skilful, who have exercised themselves in the Practice of the particular Imployments : So in Religion, there is no man truly wise and knowing, but he that has lived like a Christian, instead of difputing about it. When some of the Jews, moved with the Wisdom and Excellency of our Saviour's Discourses; believed on him by a sudden Impulse of unexperienced Affection ; our Saviour, knowing the Weakness of the Ground of their Faith, said unto them, If ye continue in my Word, then y e hall know the Truth, and the Truth pall make you free, St Joh. viii. 31; free, from the slavery of unreasonable Lufts and Paffions; free, from the Darkness of Ignorance and Errors. The Wife shall understand.

SERM. On the contrary, in the Nature of ViII. tious Inclinations, and in the Practise of

all Wickedness, there is something necesarily repugnant, something that in the na: ture of things will be a hindrance and impediment to a right. Understanding in matters of Religion None of the Wicked Shall understand. A vitious Difpofition blinds mens Eyes, corrupts their Principles, and subverts their Judgment; it causes, that men have Eyes and lêe not, Ears and bear not, Understandings and yet do not understand. They become vain in their Imaginations, as St Paul expresses it, Rom. i. 21. and their foolish beart is darkned. They have a reprobate mind, Rom, i. 28. The Word in the original signifies, an injudicious mind; a mind despoiled of its right: Judgment, and of its natural Power of difcerning. They have, as the

fame Apostle elsewhere elegantly describes Eph iv. them, their Understandings darkned, -be

cause of the Blindniefs of their Hearts. A Person in this state ; 'the natural man, as St Paut calls him ; (fo: we render the Word, "I Cor. ii. 14. but it ought to be translated, the Sensual man). a man wholly taken up with the Cares and Pleasures

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of the present Life ; fuch a one receiveth SE R M. not the things of the Spirit of God, he un. II. derstands them not; has no relish of them." for they are foolishness unto him ; neither can be know them, because they are fpiritually difcerned : spiritually discerned ; i. e. discerned by Those only, who have Faculties to discern them with ; by Thole, whole Minds are not blinded with the Love of Wickedness. . St John gives us an emphatical Instance of This in one particular. Vicę, that of Hatred or Malice'; which whosoever is addicted to, he tells us is no more capable of une derstanding the Doctrine of the Gospel that Doctrine of Love and universal Charity, than a man whose Eyes are shut, is able to discern the Light: He that hateth his Brother, is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not wbither be goeth, because that Darkness bas blinded bis Eyes, 1 Joh. ii, 11. No Words can express in a more lively and emphatical manner, than this Description does, the incredible stupidity of such Christians as think they do God good Service by persecuting one another, and expect to propagate the peaceable and charitable

Doctrine

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