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Let us pray
Most exalted God, who hast alone created, and dost govern this whole frame, and all the inhabitants thereof, visible and invisible, whose name is alone wonderful, and to be celebrated with the highest praise, as it is indeed above all praise and admiration. Let the heavens, the earth, and all the elements, praise thee; let darkness, light, and all the returns of days and years, and all the varieties and viscissitudes of things, praise thee ; let the angels praise thee, the arch-angels, and all the blessed courtof heaven, whose very happiness it is, that they are constantly employed in celebrating thy praises. We confess, O Lord, that we are of all creatures the most unworthy to praise thee, yet, of all others, we are under the greatest obligations to do it; nay, the more unworthy we are, our obligation is so much the greater. From this duty, however unqualified we may be, we can by no means abstain, nor indeed ought we. Let our souls bless thee, and all that is within us praise thy holy name, who forgivest all our sins, and healest all our diseases, who deliverest our souls from destruction, and crownest them with bounty and tender mercies.
Thou searchest the heart, () Lord, and perfectly knows the most intimate recesses of it: reject not those prayers, which thou perceivest to be the voice and the wishes of the heart; now it is the great request of our hearts, unless they always deceive us, that they may be weaned from all earthly and perishing enjoyments; and if there is any thing, to which they cleave with more than ordinary force, may they be pulled away from it by thy Almighty hand, that they may be joined to thee for ever in an inseparable marriage-covenant; and, in our own behalf, we have nothing more to ask. We only add, in behalf of thy church, that it may be protected under the shadow of thy wings, and every where, throughout the world, watered by thy heavenly dew, that thespirit and heat of worldly hatred against it may be cooled, and its intestine divisions, whereby it is much more grievously scorched, extinguished. Bless this nation, this city, and this university, in which, we beg, thou would be pleased to reside, as in a garden dedicated to thy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
OULD you have me to speak the truth with freedom and brevity? The whole world is a kind of stage, and its inhabitants mere actors. As to this little farce of yours, it is now very near a conclusion, and you are upon the point of applying to the spectators for their applause. Should any superciliously decline paying this small tribute*, you surely may, with great ease, retort their contempt upon themselves, merely by saying, “ Let your severity fall heavy on those, who admire their own performances; as to this affair of ours, we know it is nothing at all :" for I will not allow myself to doubt, but you are very sensible, that there is indeed no. thing in it.
It would, to be sure, be very improper, especially as the evening approaches, to detain you,
my other hearers, with a long and tedious discourse, when you are already more than enough fatigued, and almost quite tired out, with hearing. I shall therefore only put you in mind of one thing, and that in a few words. Let not this solemn toy*, however agreeable to youthful minds, so far impose upon you, as to set you a dreaming of great advantages and pleasures to be met with in this new period of life you are entering upon. Look round you, if you please, and take a near and exact sur. vey
of all the different stations of life that are set before
you. If you enter upon any of the stations of active life, what is this but jumping into a bush of thorns, where you can have no hope of enjoying quiet, and yet cannot easily get out again ? But if you rather choose to enter upon some new branch of science, alas ! what a small measure of knowledge is to be thus obtained, with what vast labour is even that little to be purchased, and how often, after immense toil and difficulty, will it be found, that truth is still at a distance, and not yet extracted out of the well *? We indeed believe that the soul, breathed into man, when he was first made, was pure, full of light, and every way worthy of its di. vine original : but ah! Father of mankind, how soon, and how much was he changed from what he was at first! He foolishly gave ear to the fatal seducer, and that very moment was seized upon by death, whereby he at once lost his purity, his light. or truth, and, together with himself, ruined us also.
* έμπαιγμα. .
Now, since that period, what do you commonly meet with among men of wisdom and learning, as they would wish to be accounted, but fighting and bickering in the dark : and while they dispute, with the greatest heat, but at random, concerning the truth, that truth escapes out of their hands, and instead of it, both parties put up with vain shadows or phantoms of it, and, according to the proverb, embrace a cloud instead of Juno.
But, since we are forced to own, that even the most contemptible and minutest things in nature, often put all our philosophical subtlety to a nonplus, what ignorance and foolish presumptiont is it for us to aim at ransacking the most hidden recesses of divine things, and boldly attempt to scan the divine decrees, and the other most profound mysteries of religion, by the imperfect and scanty measures of our understandings ? Whither would the presumption of man hurry him, while it prompts him to pry
εκ τε βυθ8 η αληθεια ?
And that you may
into every secret and hidden thing, and leave no thing at all unattempted ?
As for you, young Gentlemen, especially those of you that intend to devote yourselves to theological studies, it is my earnest advice and request to you,
that you fly far from that infectious curiosity, which would lead you into the depths of that controversial, contentious theology, which, if any doctrine at all deserves the name, may be truly termed, “ science falsely so called *.' not, in this respect, be imposed upon by the common reputation of acuteness and learning, I confidently affirm, that, to understand and be master of those trifling disputes that prevail in the schools, is an evidence of a very mean understanding ; while, on the contrary, it is an argument of a genius truly great, entirely to slight and despise them, and to walk in the light of pure and peaceable truth, which is far above the dark and cloudy region of controversial disputes. But, you will say, it is necessary, in order to the defence of truth, to oppose errors, and blunt the weapons of Sophists. Be it so, but our disputes ought to be managed with few words, for naked truth is most effectual for its own defence, and when it is once well understood, its natural light dispels all the darkness of error : “ for all things, that are reproved, are made manifest by the lightt,” saith the apostle. Your favourite philosopher has also told us, “ That
*Ψευδώνμος γυώσις. .
+ Eph. v. 13.