$ER M.from which these appearances flow, are unX. known. But shall we from our own igno

rance, infer a defect of wisdom in the supreme Maker and Disposer of the universe ? On the contrary, it ought to be allow'd, that if there be satisfying evidence of wisdom in all his works which we know, there is no reason to doubt of it in those parts which are remote from our view, or too deep for our penetration. What mind can be so weak or so prejudic'd as to suppose, that indeed wifdom rules in all that we see, (the regularity and harmony of things extorts this acknowledgement,) but in all the rest of the universe confusion and discord may reign, and nature be under no wise direction? Wisdom is the perfection of a cause, not of an effect; it belongs to an agent uniformly directing the exertion of his active powers, not confined to some of his operations ; and therefore, if a being appears to be wise in a great variety of his works which we know, we reasonably conclude that the same wisdom directs the whole of his conduct. This observation, with respect to the works of creation and providence, is justified by experience. For whereas some things in the world, the uses of which were not at all known in the infancy of learning, such as vast tracts of mountains, barren


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defarts and wide seas, have been strongly in- Serm.
sisted on as arguments to show the want of X.
wisdom in the frame of nature ; these very
things are since found, by later discoveries,
and a more accurate inquiry, to be highly
useful, and to serve yery important purposes.
And as other objections of the fame kind de-
rive all their strength only from human
ignorance and weakness, a more thorough
knowledge would make them all disappear,
and establish a conclusion directly contrary to
that which unlearned sceptics would infer from
them. In the mean time, it shows the most
conceited and presumptuous folly for men tò
censure the Divine administration, merely be-
cause there are some things in it which they
cannot comprehend, when the general voice
of nature and providence proclaims it wise.

The proper use to be made of this doctrine
is, that we should praise God. All his works
praise him by manifesting his wisdom; and
we whom he has made capable of discerning
the characters and evidences of that perfection,
owe him the tribute of the highest honour and
esteem. Power may strike our minds with
awe, and supreme Majesty make our hearts
tremble, but it is wisdom that attracts venera-
tion. In whatever degree any agent appears
to be possess’d of that quality, he is intitled to

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SERM.a proportionable measure of our respect. WifX. dom and folly make the principal distinction among men, by which they are held in

reputation or contempt. Tho' the differences of outward condition may be often too much regarded, and men of servile spirits may flatter the rich and great in their folly, while the poor man's wisdom is despised; yet the language of the heart is different, and true wisdom, wherever it is found, necessarily commands our inward esteem. But what is all the wildom of men, or indeed the largest finite understandings, but an imperfect glimpse, when compared with the intellectual perfection of the Father of lights?

As praise is the noblest employment of the mind, one can't but be sensible of dignity and self-worth in doing honour to transcendent excellence, by affectionate acknowledgments and applauses ; so it is a most delightful exercise ; pleasure is inseparable from the hearty congratulation, and the soul even partakes of the intellectual and moral perfection, which it joyfully celebrates. And since the consciousness of dignity, and the delight which accompanies praise, must always bear a proportion to the apprehended excellency of the object, the praise which is given to the supreme Being, with understanding and lincere esteem,


must, on this account, infinitely exceed all SERM. others. It is therefore most becoming such X. imperfect rational creatures as we are, to contemplate the works of God, with this design, that we may discern the manifestations of his wisdom in them, and thereby excite in ourselves those pious and devout affections, and that superlative respect, which are the very essence of praise, as it is a reasonable and moral service.

Any one who attentively considers the frame and condition of human nature in this world, must see, that tho’ its capacities are great, and visibly intended for important ends, yet this our infancy of being, is very weak; that the present is a state of probation, wherein the progress of our understandings and our moral powers, with the enjoyment arising from them, in a great measure depend upon such a diligent use of our own faculties, as a careful attention to the nature and order of them will direct. The first impressions made upon our minds are by sensible objects, and our appetites to them naturally arise, which being customarily indulged, the higher powers and affections of the soul are neglected and become weak; yet are we not left without an obvious remedy against this inconvenience and infirmity of our nature. As the least reflection will convince us, that


which can

SER M. there are higher and nobler powers in our na-

ture, capable of a rational, a more refined
and sublime enjoyment, than any
belong to the animal part of our constitution;
so the proper exercise of those higher faculties
is naturally pointed out to us, by the work of
God's law written upon our hearts, and by
the evidences of his being and perfections,
which are most plainly inscrib'd on his works,
wherewith we are continually surrounded.
· But still it is in our power to neglect the
culture of the virtuous affections, and to let
the natural motives of piety slip out of our
minds. Whether we will do so or not is a great
part of our trial. This however is certain,
that nothing can be more worthy of us, or of
more immediate importance to our greatest
perfection and happiness, than that we should,
with deliberation, design and diligence, apply
ourselves to the proper exercise and improve-
ment of our rational and moral faculties, in
order to establish the supremacy of conscience,
and, on that foundation, the inward harmo-
ny of the mind, and to obtain that enjoy-
ment which naturally arises from universally
self-approving, virtuous integrity. But tho'
this be evidently rational and important;
(scarcely will any thing be alledged in justi-
fication of the contrary ;) yet how few are


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