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SER M.ger of self-confidence ; the inspection of V. God's providence into the failures of his peo
ple, together with his fore-fight of them; his super-intending care of them, even during the progress of their temptations, and his over-ruling the issues of them for good. First, I say, the fallibility and weakness of human nature. This is what experience abundantly testifies : all the sins of mankind, and they are more than can be numbred, are proofs of it ; nay, * there is not a juft man living upon the earth, that doth good, and finneth not. Not that God has made us to sin : he is not the author of moral evil; it is not the necessary effect of the powers wherewith he has endued us ; on the contrary, he has furnish'd our nature with defences against it, and with faculties which have an opposite tendency: + He is not tempted with evil, neither does be tempt any man, It is a voluntary perversion and abuse of our natural faculties, and a violation of that law, which he has written upon our hearts. But he has made us frail and fallible. Indeed it does not appear,
any order of created beings were made originally impeccable. As absolute perfection of knowledge is above the capacity and condition of
finite Ecclef. vii. 20. + James i 13:
finite minds, there seems to be inseparable SERM
V from their original frame, a possibility of mistakes which may lead them into moral defects. Besides, every indigent being must have selfish affections, which may in some circumstances be the sources of error, overballancing the benevolent dispositions in which moral perfection consists.
But not to insist on this, of all orders of rational creatures, which we have any knowledge of, some have actually corrupted themselves. The angels who were made pure,
and in a happy state, yet did not all continue in it : some of them kept not their first estate of innocence and integrity; but, being the first example of disobedience, fell irrecoverably by their transgression, and were expellid from their own habitation, their native heaven, into outer darkness, where they are referu'd under chains to the judgment of the great day. And the scripture shews us that the first of mankind, tho' distinguish'd by the divine bounty with many gifts and peculiar privileges, whereby they were enabled to hold their integrity, and in a happy situation, far less liable to be tempted than their posterịty are, yet did not abide in the inno
SERM.cence, the honour and felicity, wherein they V.
were made, but suffered themselves to bę misled by the insiduous arts and false reprefentations of a subtle and malicious enemy.
But, to confine qurselves particularly to the present condition of human nature ; no man, I think, wants to have it proved that we are all liable to failures. Where is the man, who does not, to the conviction of all that are rear him, and narrowly observe his behaviour, carry the plain marks of moral infirmity about him ? and yet they see but a small part of his faults. The most useful discoveries of this kind, are those which every one might make în himself by a careful attention, having within us the candle of the Lord, our own self-conscious spirits, which search the inmost parts. We might there, in a multitude of instances, discern the rise of fin, the conceptions of lust, as St. James calls it, or the lower sensitive part of our nature, comprehending our appetites and passions ; its progress darkning the understanding, engrossing the attention, thereby producing an insenfibility to the most important things of religion, and our true rational happiness : fo that the exercife of our
rational and moral powers is defeated, and SERMā
It may perhaps affect our minds still more,
le of. To see a man, not in a single action only, but through the general tenor of His behaviour, display heroic goodness, magnanimity, fortitude, patience, beneficence, in some instances of his conduct, fall vastly beneath himself, nay, into a thameful degree of the contrary vices ; this is a surprifing appearance; and yet the feripture history affords a variety of such examples. Scarcely, indeed, is there recorded one illustrious cha raéter with high applause, that is not sullied with some remarkable defect in that very virtue which obtain'd the greatest encomium. The celebrated Abraham, who has the honour to be call'd the father of the faithful,
Serm.and the friend of God, seems not to have V. acted suitably to his character, when, thro'
fear, he denied his wife, thereby exposing her and other innocent persons to a snare, both in Egypt and at Gerar, where Abimelech reproved him severely, as we read in the 20th chapter of Genesis. Mofes, the meekest man in the whole earth, yet once fpake unadvisedly, and his spirit was embittered, so that God in his displeasure depriv'd him of the priviledge of entering into Canaan; and Job, whose exemplary patience is justly celebrated in every age, yet in the extremity of his long continuing trial, fell into the contrary distempers of mind to a degree, which was reproachful, and afterward the subject of grievous remorse. A multitude of other instances there are, which the time would fail me to mention ; but that in the text is very peculiar. A man so near to the holy Jesus, a foundation on which he built his Church, and to whom he committed the keys of his kingdom, so resolute in his ad* herence to him as to say, without his heart reproaching him for insincerity, tho' I poould die with thee I will not deny thee ; yet in that very night, after so recent a premonition, denies with oaths, that he so much as knew