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SERM. determination at firft would have a great IX. effect in the rest of his life.
If he had the advantage of good instructions from the begining, he did not neglect them, but attended to them, meditated upon them, and let thofe things which appeared reasonable fink down in his heart. Moreover, as he had opportunity, he ftudied the laws of God, recorded in thofe Scriptures, which were in the hands of the people of Ifrael. And he read with a mind open to conviction, refolving to receive what appeared to be the will of God, and act according to it: whether it should be for his own present intereft, and tend to his promotion and advancement in the world, or not. By this means his judgement was well informed, and his refolutions fettled upon a firm foundation.
I make no fcruple of mentioning this particular here. For I think, there is good ground for it. Without this, it is not easie to conceive, how Obadiah's conduct should have been fuch as it was.
And certainly this ought to be observed by young perfons. It is defirable, to underftand fome art or bufineffe, by which men
may fubfift in the world. It is alfo defirable, SERM. to understand the things of religion. They IX. who have a quick apprehenfion, have a great advantage, provided they apply their thoughts this way. Nevertheless, there are few or none, but may attain to a competent knowledge of the great truths and obligations of religion, and the grounds of them: if they are attentive, and seriously-inquifitive about them. Mofes reminds the people of Ifrael: The commandment, which I command thee this Deut xxx. day, is not hiden from thee, neither is it afar off: but it is nigh thee, that thou mayeft hear it, and do it. The revelation of the gospel, fuperadded to that of the law, is not designed to make the principles of religion more abftrufe and difficult: but more eafie, more intelligible, more affecting, which must be for the good of all men.
3. Obadiah's fearing the Lord from his youth was partly owing to a fixed purpose and refolution of acting according to the rule of right, and that no temptations of any kind fhould induce him to act contrarie to his fedate judgement.
We may well put this into the character, we are obferving. In the courfe of his life 0 3
SERM. there had offered to him temptations of various kinds: fome fuited to youthful affections, others more efpecially fuited to the common and prevailing paffions of mature age. But in But in every stage of life his conduct had been uniformly religious. And though he lived at a time, when multitudes did evil, he had not followed them. Though the way of religion was then a ftrait path, and almoft deferted, his feet had not declined from the way of it. We cannot but conclude from hence, that the refolution of Obadiah was very firm.
4. We do alfo reasonably fuppofe, that this fteady good conduct was not without confant circumfpection and watchfulnesse. Indeed, we are all encompaffed with fnares, which makes it needful to be upon our guard. Undoubtedly, this perfon had kept his heart with diligence. He had attended to the frame of his mind. He ufed his beft endeavours to maintain the fervour of his love to God, and a incere refpect for his laws. His mind was carefully kept free from ambition and covetoufneffe. And he looked with a jealous eye upon every thing and perfon, that tended to abate
Pr. iv. 23.
abate his zeal for God and religion, and lef- SERM. fen his aborrence for that which is evil.
This temper of watchfulneffe he had preferved always, by which means he had been greatly affifted in fearing God from his youth.
III. In the third place I fhould fhew the
1. They who fear the Lord from their youth up enjoy the pleasure and comfort of a religious life: which is no small advantage. For, as Solomon fays of wisdom, her ways Prov. iii. are ways of pleafantnesse, and all her paths are peace. Such have the fatisfaction of approving themselves to God, and doing the things that please the fovereign of the world. Their minds are rightly difpofed, and their conduct approves itfelf to their own judgement. And they And they avoid the bitterneffe of that repentance, which is neceffarie for those who have greatly ftrayed from Wisdom's
2. They who fear God from the youth may, and often do become eminent in piety. Their continued practife of virtue renders 04
SERM. them perfect in it. So was this perfon. It appears from the account which we have of him here. The writer of this hiftorie in the book of Kings obferves it to his honour exprefsly Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly. His virtuous habits were confirmed, and almost above temptation. He had a poft of high honour. But he poffeffed it. without any finful compliances. Nor did he at all conceal his regard for God and true religion but was known to be a worshiper of the God of heaven. When his Prophets, who were moft zealous for God, and taught the people the knowledge of him, were in danger; at the hazard of all his own. interefts, he took care of them he hid them from their perfecutors, and provided for them. At the fame time his difinteredneffe and integrity in public affairs, and the difcharge of civil offices, was fo confpicuous, that he was Chief. Minifter to a Prince, who was an enemie to his religious principles. By which we perceive, that Obadiah knew how to give to Cefar the things that are Cefars, without denying to God what was due to him. In a word, this perfon, who had feared God from bis youth, was now eminent in the various