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earneftneffe. The fame things are repeated, SERM. and inculcated again and again. The attenVI. tion of men is excited by frequent reprefentations of the importance of right conduct, and of the fnares they are exposed to, by which they are in danger of being misled to their utter ruin.
More effectually to recommend the reasonable and useful counfels and obfervations here propofed, they are often delivered in the name of Wisdom. Wisdom herself is introduced, as teaching these things. So at the begining of this chapter. Doth not Wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice? She ftandeth in the top of high places, by the way, in the places of the paths: ... Unto you, o men, I call: and my voice is to the fons of men. And, as an encouragement to all to hearken to her, and purfue the rules the lays down, fhe fays in the words of the text: I love them that love me. And they that feek me early, fhall find me.
If it were a thing of any moment, I might just observe to you, that what in our English tranflation is rendred, feek early, is but one word in the original. The Hebrew therefore might be as well rendred; they that seek
SERM. me, fhall find me.
However, our tranflators have not done much amifs in adding fomething concerning the best manner of feeking Wisdom or in expreffing what may be fupposed to be implied in the word. I love them that love me. And they that feek me early, or diligently, fhall find me.
Without any farther preface, I would now immediatly lay down the method, in which I intend to difcourfe on these words.
I. In the first place I fhall endeavor to fhew, how we are to understand the word Wisdom, as used in the book of Proverbs.
II. I fhall fhew, what is comprehended in Wisdom.
III. I fhall confider, what is to be underftood by loving Wisdom, and feeking it. IV. I fhall obferve the encouragement, here fet before men, to feek Wisdom: They fhall find it.
V. And then conclude with directions for the right manner of feeking it.
I. I fhall
I. I fhall endeavor to fhew, how we are
Hereby fome have understood a real perfon, and even a Divine perfon. And this their opinion is founded chiefly, I think, upon fome expreffions in this eighth chapter. As ver. 15. By me Kings reign, and Princes decree justice. By me Princes rule, and nobles, and all the judges of the earth: And efpecially those words in ver. 22. 23. The Lord poffelfed me in the begining of his ways, before his works of old. I was fet up from everlasting, from the begining, or ever the earth
But the meaning of thefe words I take to be this" that God himself is wife, and "before he created the world, he had wif"dom in himself and that the laws of righteousneffe, and the rules of right con"duct, are everlasting and unchangeable."
It is agreeable to the ftile of this book, not to understand by Wisdom a real perfon, but an attribute, or property clothed with a perfonal character, or a feigned personage introduced. In like manner it has been very
SERM. common for polite writers, to introduce Juftice, or Virtue, or Wisdom, or Prudence, delivering rules and counfels to men, or reproving their folly and extravagance. Sometimes they are represented looking down, at other times, coming down from heaven, to vifit the abodes of mortals: or, in the ftile of the Proverbs, men, the fons of men: calling aloud to them, dehorting them from their evil ways, and perverfe wandrings, and inviting them into the paths of truth and happineffe: which reafon, and the confiderations of their own true intereft prescribe to them.
The perfonage introduced in this book in the name and character of Wisdom is reprefented to be a Queen, or a wealthy Matron or Lady. For her fervants, or attendents, are maidens. She is brought in as a Matron, living in great credit. Her house is a fpacious and lofty building, adorned with a magnificent portico at the entrance; confisting of feven, or many pillars. She there makes an entertainment, and invites people to come and partake of her provifions; that is, to hear and receive the rules and principles of knowledge and virtue.
This is beautifully expreffed at the begin- SERM. ing of the ninth, the following chapter. VI. Wifdom has builded her houfe. She has hewn out her feven pillars. She has killed her beafts. She has mingled her wine. She has also furnished her table. She has fent forth her maidens. She crieth upon the highest places in the city. Or, as in another place: She crieth in the Prov. i. chief place of concourfe, in the openings of the gates. In the city fhe uttereth her words: that is, in the most public and frequented places, where there is ufually the greateft refort of people. Whofo is fimple let him turn in bither. She rejects not the weakeft, and the most deluded. If they will but attend, the will teach them what is fit and becoming. Whofo is fimple, let him turn in bither. As for bim that wanteth understanding, fhe fays to bim: Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine, which I have mingled. Forfake the foolifh, and live and go in the way of underftanding.
This ftately dwelling, or palace of Wif dom, where men may receive instruction, is alluded to at ver. 34. of this chapter. Blef fed is the man, that beareth me: watching