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HAPPY IS THE MAN, THAT FEAR

ETH ALWAYS: But he that hardenetb his heart, fall fall into mischief.

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A

L L know, that a large part of the book of Proverbs consists of sentences unconnected, or ob

servations and maxims independent on each other. Where that is the case, little light is afforded by the coherence.

Serm. Nevertheless I shall read the verse immeXVIII. diatly preceding. And if any connexion was nintended,

intended, possibly we may perceive it, at left
hereafter, when we have considred the mean-
ing of the words of this text.
Ver.

13.
and

14. He that coveretb bis hins, shall not profper : but whoso confefsetb and forsaketh them, shall have mercie. Happy is the man, that feareth always : but be that bardenetb bis beart, Mall

fall into mischief. In discoursing on this text

1. I shall describe the fear here recom

mended. II. I would Thew the happinesse of him,

who feareth always. II. I fhall endeavot to Thew, how this

fear conduces to a man's happinesse. IV: After which I intend to mention some remarks and observations

upon

this subject, and conclude.

1. In the first place I should describe the

fear, here recommended : or Thew, what

is meant by fearing always. There is a good counsel of Solomon in the twenty third chapter of this book: Let

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not thy heart envy finers : but be thou in the SERM.

XVIII. fear of the Lord all the day long. This is our duty and interest.

Whatever advantages Pr. xxii. fome may gain by unrighteousnesse, we 17. should never be thereby induced to imitate their ways : but should still persevere in the service of God, and the way of virtae, which in time will be rewarded.

But it does not appear very likely, that this is what is here particularly intended by the Wife Man. The fear, here spoken of, seems to be apprehensiveneffe, diffidence, with the fruits thereof, care, caution, and circumspection: as opposite to security, inconsideration, confidence and prefumption. In this text is meant a temper of mind, which is often recommended by the Wise Man in other words. The fimple believeth ... xiv. every word: but the prudent man looketh well 15. to his goings. And, Keep thy heart with all ...in. 23. diligence : for out of it are the issues of life... Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look strait before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy paths be eftablished.

This property, of fearing always, may be expedient and useful in a variety of occa

fions

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:. 25. 26.

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Serm. fions: in the things of this present life, and XVIII. in the great concerns of our salvation.

It would undoubtedly be of bad confequence, with regard to the affairs and bugnefse of this world, for men to be void of thought and consideration : to presume upon successe, and depend upon good treatment, and honest dealings from all men; and relye upon the kind and faithful assistances of friends, and servants, and others with whom we may be concerned, without any previous trial or examination.

And it must be expedient and useful for men, to be so far apprehensive of dangers and accidents, so sensible of the changes and viciffitudes that attend all earthly things, and so far aware of the unskilfulnesse, unfaithfulnesse, art and subtlety, of other men, as Thall induce them to take care of their own affairs themselves, and use a prudent caution and circumspection.

A like temper may be very useful in the things of religion. And to this the words of Solomon may be applied, if they are not to be directly interpreted in this sense.

Indeed there is a fearfulnesle, and timorousnefse of mind, which religion condemns :

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which is mean, and unreasonable, groundless SERM.
and indiscreet : when we are too apprehensive XVIII.
of the evils and afflictions of this life, or fear
men more than God. Then we are to be
blamed, then we act indiscreetly: when for fear
of the displeasare of men, and the small
evils they can inflict upon us, we do that
which will offend God, and expose us to
the long and grievous pains and miseries of
another state, with the losse of all that hap-
pinesse, which we might have secured by re-
solution and courage in the way of religion
and virtue.

But there is a fear and apprehension,
which may be very useful. It is a fear of
offending God, and a diffidence of ourselves
and our own strength. It is founded in a
persuasion of the great importance of right
behaviour in this world, and a sure know-
ledge of the consequences thereof, either
happinesse or miserie in a future state. It is
also owing to a confideration of the power
of things sensible, good and evil, agreeable
or disagreeable, to biafs and influence the
mind: and that, oftentimes on! a sudden,
and to a degree beyond most mens expeca
tations : whereby many are diverted from
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