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ON THE TRUE HONOUR OF MAN.
PROVERBS, iv. 8.
Exalt her, and she shall promote thee; she shall bring thee to honour.
THE love of honour is one of the strongest passions in the human heart. It shews itself in our earliest years; and is coeval with the first exertions of reason. It accompanies us through all the stages of subsequent life; and in private stations discovers itself no less than in the higher ranks of society. In their ideas of what constitutes honour, men greatly vary, and often grossly err. But of somewhat which they conceive to form pre-eminence and distinction, all are desirous. All wish, by some means or other, to acquire respect from those among whom they live; and to contempt and disgrace, none are insensible.
Among the advantages which attend religion and virtue, the honour which they confer on man is frequently mentioned in Scripture as one of the most considerable. Wisdom is the principal thing, says Solomon, in the passage where the text lies, therefore get wisdom; and, with all thy getting, get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee; she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace; a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. It is evident, that throughout all the sacred writings, and particularly in the book of Proverbs, by wisdom is to be understood a principle of religion producing virtuous conduct. The fear of the Lord is said to be the beginning of wisdom: And by this fear of the Lord men are said to depart from evil; to walk in the way of good men, and to keep the path of the righteous.* Man is then regulated by the wisdom which is from above, when he is formed by piety to the duties of virtue and morality: and of the wisdom which produces this effect, it is asserted in the text, that it bringeth us to honour.
On this recommendation of religion it is the more necessary to fix our attention, because
Prov. ii. 20.