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the way of wisdom, than to continue ignorant, till death and destruction shew us our mistake. Does it not behove us all to examine, whether the way we are walking in be wisdom's way, and whether the judgment of God concerning us is, that we are fools, or wise.
It is the judgment of God concerning us which we ought to regard: what others may think of us, is of comparatively small importance. His opinion is revealed in the bible, let us examine it closely, let us compare ourselves by it.
We will enquire who are called fools, why they are so called, and what is their reward, shame.
First. Who are they that are called fools in the bible? They are the wicked, and that in numberless places. They are those whom the world are apt to call wise, great, noble, and learned. Were the world to judge, it would be the meek, the conscientious, the godly, to whom they would affix the disgraceful title; but since these are esteemed the sons of wisdom, by God who is all wise; and the wicked are called fools, by God who is all holy; it becomes us to submit to his judgement, and guide ourselves by his opinion.
There are two sorts of fools, the simple, and the outrageous; the wicked may be divided in a similar manner.
1. The simple, whose folly injures chiefly themselves. Such are the ignorant. We call them fools who are ignorant in worldly things; if a man know not how to work, or how to behave, or how to reason; much more foolish it is to be ignorant of spiritual things. Prov. xviii. 2. "A fool hath no delight in understanding. He is ignorant what the worth of his immortal soul is, what his danger is through sin, which has ruined his soul, and made him fit fuel for the fire of hell; ignorant of the excellency of Christ, who alone can snatch us as brands out of the burning. He does not know how to work any thing spiritually good; how to behave before a holy, heartsearching God; or how to reason, on what relates to the great concerns of his soul, is he not a fool?
Despisers of knowledge are also called fools. Prov. i. 7. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." and verse 22. "Fools hate knowledge.' To be ignorant is bad, to hate know
ledge is ten times worse. What shall we say then to those who would not come to school if they could help it; or who stay away for little trifling excuses; or who when here, pay no attention to their books and instructors? they hate knowledge and instruction. They are fools, and so are like to be.
The self conceited who least of all suspect it, are fools, "A wise man will be diffident, but the way of a fool is right in his own eyes.' "" Prov. xii. 15. " And he that trusteth his own heart is fool." Prov. xxviii. 26. Young persons are very apt to be self-conceited; they who are but just beginning to know any thing, will think they know more, and better, than older and wiser people; and will think they can do, what many have attempted in vain. This false confidence leads them to boast, to despise others, to attempt things in which they cannot but fail, and in so doing, shew to all the world what self-conceited fools they are.
The thoughtless, who do the most important things without taking that care and counsel concerning them which they require. Like the foolish man, who when about to build his house, never re
garded where, or on what foundation he placed it, but built it on the sand
So that when the rain descended, and the winds blew, it fell, and great was the fall of it." Matt. vii. 26. Such are those who neglect their business, not considering that by and by if they cannot work they must starve; who run headlong into sin, not remembering that by and by sin will bring them to hell: who, when in the house of God, pay no attention to the worship, although God will call them to account for every sermon they hear; who take no thought about religion, although their eternity depends upon it; and defer repentance till a death bed, when there is no proper leisure or ability for it. Do not all these circumstances make a man a fool?
The prayerless are equally foolish; the wicked, who will not call upon God. Do any of you live without prayer? which of you have been upon your knees this morning, to bless God for the mercies he gives you, to entreat him to continue them, to pardon your sins, and to make you truly religious for Christ's sake? Do you wish to have health, to have food and raiment, to have your
lives spared, and your friends continued to you? Do you wish God to bless you, to forgive your sins, to keep you from being wicked, to save your souls, and take you to heaven at last? and are you so foolish as to grudge a little time to pray for these blessings, or to think them not worth the trouble? Time and trouble so spent, are not mispent.
It is also foolish to be idle. It is the fool who foldeth his hands together instead of working with them, and by thus bringing himself to want, may be said to eat, or destroy, his own flesh. Eccl. vi. 5. Idleness is the way to want, and very fit it should. He that will not work, let him not eat, says the apostle Paul. Laziness will clothe a man with rags, says Solomon. If you will not work for yourselves, who do you think ought to work for you. Idleness is the way to disease: labour and exercise are needful to health, but indolence brings on more disorders than any doctor can cure. Idleness is the way to vice; those who have nothing to do, must do mischief: but if a man sticks close to his business, he has not time to get drunk, or go with bad company. The slothful man, says Solo