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728. iii. 15.
any wise favour our fiery żeals, fierce passions, of 'B'RAME. unjust partialities about matter of opinion and ceret IX. mony, or can do otherwise than deteft : all factious, harsh, uncharitable, and revengeful proceedings, of what nature, or upon what ground foever ; or that he can be fo inconsistent with himself, as to approve any thing but what is like himself, that is, righteoufness, fincerity, and beneficence.
Lastly, wisdom attracts the favour of God, purchaseth a glorious reward, and secureth perpetual felicity to us. For God loveth none but him that dwell Wil. vii. eth with wisdom. And, Glorious is the fruit of good labour : and the root of wisdom shall never fall away. And, Happy is the man that findeth wisdom: and, Prov. iii. Whoso findeth her,
findeth life, and shall obtain favour 13. viii. 35. of the Lord. These are the words of wise Solomon, in the book of Wisdom, and in the Proverbs. God loveth her, as most agreeable to his nature ; as resembling him ; as an offspring, beam, and efflux of that wisdom which founded the earth, and established the heavens; as that which begetteth honour, love, and obedience to his commands, and truly glorifies him; and as that which promotes the good of his creatures, which he earnestly desires. And the paths she leads in are such as directly tend to the promised inheritance of joy and bliss.
Thus have I fimply and plainly presented you with part of what my meditation suggested upon this fubject; it remains that we endeavour to obtain this excellent endowment of foul, by the faithful exercise of our reason, careful observation of things, diligent study of the divine law, watchful reflection upon ourselves, virtuous and religious practice; but especially, by imploring the divine influence, the original fpring of light, and fountain of all true knowledge, following St. James's advice: If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God, who giveth. freely. Therefore, O everlasting Wisdom, the Maker, Redeemer, and Governor of all things, let some com
SER M.fortable beams from thy great body of heavenly 1x. light descend upon us, to illuminate our dark minds,
and quicken our dead hearts; to inflame us with ardent love unto thee, and to direct our steps in obedience to thy laws, through the gloomy shades of this world, into that region of eternal light and bliss, where thou reignest in perfect glory and majesty, one God ever bleffed, world without end. Amen.
The Consideration of our latter End.
PSAL. XC. 12.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our
hearts unto wisdom. THIS Pfalm is upon several peculiar accounts s e r M. very remarkable ;-for its antiquity, in which it perhaps doth not yield to any parcel of Scripture ; for the eminency of its author, Mofes, the man of God, the greatest of the ancient Prophets, (most in favour, and, as it were, most intimate with God :) it is also remarkable for the form and matter thereof, both affording much useful instruction. In it we have a great prince, the governor of a numerous people, fequestering his mind from the management of publick affairs to private meditations ; from beholding the present outward appearances, to considering the real nature and secret causes of things ; in the midst of all the splendour and pomp, of all the stir and tumult about him, he observes the frailty of human condition, he discerns the providence of God justly ordering all; this he does not only in way of wise consideration, but of serious devotion,
SER M. moulding his observations into pious acknowledg
ments and earnest prayers to God : thus while he casts one eye upon earth viewing the occurrences there, lifting up the other to heaven, there seeing God's all-governing hand, thence seeking his gracious favour and mercy. Thus doth here that great and good man teach us all (more particularly men of high estate and much business) to find opportunities of withdrawing their thoughts from those things, which commonly amuse them, (the cares, the glories, the pleasures of this world,) and fixing them
upon matters more improveable to devotion; the transitoriness of their condition, and their subjection to God's just providence ; joining also to these meditations suitable acts of religion, due acknowledgments to God, and humble prayers. This was his practice among the greatest encumbrances that any man could have ; and it should also be ours. Of those his devotions, addressed to God, the words are part, which I have chosen for the subject of my meditation and present discourse; concerning the meaning of which I shall first touch somewhat; then propound that observable in them, which I design to
The Prophet David hath in the 39th Psalm a
prayer very near in words, and of kin, it seems, in Pfal. xxxix. sense to this here ; Lord, prays he, make me to know
my end, and the measure of my days, whut it is, that I may know how frail I am: concerning the drift of which place, as well as of this here, it were obvious to conceive that both these prophets do request of God, that he would discover to them the definite term of their life, (which by his decree he had fixed,
or however by his universal prescience he did discern; Job xiv. 5. concerning which we have these words in Job, Seeing
man's days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds, that he cannot pass ;) we might, I say, at first hearing, be apt to imagine, that their prayer unto God is, (for the comfort
of their mind burthened with afflictions, or for their $ ERM. better direction in the management of their remaining time of life,) that God would reveal unto them the determinate length of their life. But this fense, which the words seem so naturally to hold forth, is by many of the Fathers rejected, for that the knowledge of our lives' determinate measure is not a fit matter of prayer to God; that being a secret reserved by God to himself, which to inquire into favours of presumptuous curiosity: the universal validity of which reason I will not debate ; but shall defer so much to their judgment, as to suppose that the numbering of our days (according to their sense) doth here only imply a confused indefinite computation of our days' number, or the length of our life such as, upon which it may appear, that necessarily our life cannot be long, (not, according to the account mentioned in this Psalm, the same with that of Solon in Herodotus, above 70 or 80 years, efpecially as to purposes of health, strength, content ;) will probably, by reason of various accidents, to which it is exposed, be much shorter, (7 or 10 years, according to a moderate esteem ;) may possibly, from surprises undiscoverable, be very near to its period; by few instants removed from death, (a year, a month, a day, it may be fomewhat lefs.) This I shall allow to be the arithmetick that Moses here desires to learn ; whence it doth follow, that teaching (or making to know, so it is in the Hebrew) doth import here (as it doth otherwhere frequently in Scripture) God's affording the grace to know practically, or with serious regard to consider this state and measure of our life, (a for in speculation no man can be ignorant of human lives' brevity and uncer
* Ου γάρ έσι φρένας έχοντας ανθρώπε αγνοείν ότι άνθρωπος ζώον έσι 9tor, dört yiyoviy sis to todave. Plut. ad Apoll. p. 202.
Quis eft tam ftultus, quamvis fit adolescens, cui fit exploratum fe vel ad vefperum effe vi&turum? Cic. de Seri.