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The Committee of the Religious Tract Society intend to publish a new Edition of these excellent Sermons, after they have been carefully revised by the Sons of the venerated Author, who have kindly presented them to the Institution.
J. HiII, Printer, Black Horse Court' Fleet Street, Lomlon.
The Excellency of the Knoivledge of Christ.
PHILIPPIANS III. 8.
The Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.
LIFE is short. It is a most serious reflection, Life is short. The weakness and folly of childhood, the vanity and vices of youth, the bustle and care of middle life, and the infirmities of old age, (if we live to be old) what do they leave us? A short life indeed.
Yet, "man has a soul of vast desires." He is capable of much, and aims at more. Many things he cannot attain, and many are not worth the pains. Oh, 'tis pity that man should not know how to choose the good and refuse the evil!—how to make the most and best of so short a life!
Now, there is an infallible guide. Oh, that man would regard it !" Once hath God spoken; yea, twice have I heard this :"—What is the chief end, the first business, the true interest of man?
Job was a man truly wise and eminently good; he had deeply considered the nature and value of wisdom; but he inquires, Where is it to be got? Men know where to get gold and silver; and get them they will, if possible, though at the hazard of life. "But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?" All nature falters in giving an answer; but God himself vouchsafes to give it. To man, he said, perhaps to Adam the first man; however, to us, to every one of us he says, "The fear of the Lord, behold, that is wisdom: and
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to depart from evil, that is understanding." True religion is the true wisdom.
Solomon, deemed the wisest of men, speaks the same language; and thus concludes his book of dearbought wisdom. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; of what matter 1 The subject he proposed in the beginning of his book. What is the chief good?" What is that good for the sons of men which they should do all the days of their life?" (Eccles. ii. 3.) And here we have it: —" Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man;" or rather the whole of man; his highest wisdom, his proper duty, his true excellence, his best interest. (Eccles. xii. 13.)
But a greater than Solomon is here. What saith Jesus, "the Wisdom of God," Wisdom incarnate! "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (John xvii. 3.) As if he had said, The way to eternal life,—the earnest of it,—the evidence of right and title to it,—and the final enjoyment of it, consists in, and is connected with, the knowledge of the only true God, in opposition to all false gods; and in the right knowledge of Christ his Son, the only Mediator and Saviour, in opposition to every other mediator, or pretended way of acceptance with God.
In our text, St. Paul adds his testimony to the former; the testimony of his own experience. He was a man of learning, and had been a zealot for the Jewish law, a hater of Christ, and a bloody persecutor of his church; but grace had renewed his mind and changed his heart; he no longer boasted of his works, or went about to establish his own righteousness; but the law became his schoolmaster, to bring him to Christ; through the law, he became dead to the law; now he desires to be found in Christ, and depends alone upon his righteousness.
What things were gain io him, he counted loss for