תמונות בעמוד

Er M.superstition; between this and a mind free VII. from that bias, self-pleas'd, with all the 1 """"''good affections, benevolence to all men, as well as a zeal of God ^exerting themselves harmonioufly; both which are exemplified in the apcstle Paul at different periods of his life, tho' in both he fays of himself, that he lived in all good conscience before God. The latter is full of peace; a calm serenity and joy diffuses itself thro' the whole soul, and no disturbing passions approach its rest, the apostle possess'd his mind in perfect tranquillity, undismay'd and unterrified in the midst of persecution and under the immediate expectation of death, rejoycing in the tejlimony of his conscience that in (implicit y and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom•, but by the grace of God, he had his conversation in tlie world. The other sortiof religion, tho' it proceeds from a zeal to God,> and is in fomi respects according to confer ence, yet does not fit easy on the mind jyjf is accompanied with perturbation, and ve* hement, tumultuous, and disquieting passions. So Paul, tho' he said that he thought himself oblig'd (in conscience) to do many things against Christianity, which is as much, as can be said for any one in such a case, yet acknowledges, as Affs xxvi, 11. that he was

exceeding exceeding mad against christians, compeUingS'ERM, them to blaspheme, surely a mind distracted Y"; with furious rage is in an unnatural state, ^ ' ^ and such as cannot be the genuine effect of religious virtue, ',

By this time, I hope, we may be able to form a notion of what k is to have a conscience void of offence; it is to have that self-reflecting power, which in every human mind, for itself, is vested with the sovereign authority of judging what is right and Wrong, and, accordingly, approving or condemning its own dispositions, and actions, upon a calm, diligent, impartial consideration, and using the best means in its power for being well informed; to have it free from the imputation and self reproach, not of all moral infirmity or failing, but of every habitual course of known evil, and even every single, allowed, wilful, wickedness. It is the fame thing which the apostle John expresses by our heart not condemning us, 1 ft Ep. iii. 21. And which he represents as the only solid foundation of confidence towards God j as; in fact it was the foundation of Job's confidence, Job xxvii. 5. and of Hezekiah,ytho, under the immd- s diate apprehensions of death, thus expresses

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S^M.irH|>rayer to Gxti^ldri&i havinjpmcdso&ibnQ: VU. void of offence, as i the only- iippoctsbfsius ibal in that extremity, Isaiah xxxviii. g member, Lores, how I have waited iefsrethe^ jftj&ruth, and with a perfectheart-, and duke that which is good in thyfgb£n» gnoU Jed J . It is worthy of our observation^ thatrthfc apostle, in this very brief stirarharyriofiiibi8 religion, expressly mentions two objects tov wards which his conscience was without offence, namely, God and map.; But they are of different consideration, and conscience has to do with them in very. different ways. It acknowledges God as its sovereign Lord; its measures of right and wrong are Jiis laws, and its judgments have a reference ton Jak superior unerring tribunal, for^iay%St.jr£<xj4 i Cor. iv, 4, I know nothing by inyfelff sfot am I not hereby jujlified, but he that judgetb ine is the Lord. Conscience owes; nto such respect to any man, no nor to all mankind;; nay, it maintains its supremacy against them irfl j their joint acquitting verdict cannotdischarge its accusations, and it triumphs iaits self approbation if they should all concur in condemning. But, the meaning is, that there being two principal objects without 'qurselves, upon which our duty terming,

God God and >m^n, . k' fhoul4ii»iiur care,i-^itS<£**£.: *»s.theapQstle's,. not tatrefpafs againftiei1- -Wit. . titer.; jar^cjcbhakuoiflr conscienees flabuid loot have matter of accusation for violating cither the. one or the other branch of our duty that along with pious affections to God, and liiirahlc ^ahmiffion to his will, we should sdnstantly fulfil the laws of righteousness, Ædelity and charity to our fellow-creatures:. fFhis is absolutely necessary to true virtue -and religion, in whatever light we consider ainpifiis only intire, not partial good affections, that will satisfy the obligations we arc jinder by the law of our nature: It is universal obedience which the divine commandments require; and he yuho offends in one psiM, is gutty of all. We must be sensible that the declarations of the gospel, thegrate jtbajt..brings salvation, indeed, the very design of: it, requires that we should live rightfc

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.iiiiSkaindfyt I propos'd to shew, that the having always a conscience void of offJaflce •towards God and man, is the proper subject -of our constant and careful attention. Herein da I exercise myself. < This is the Sum of religion, a matter of the utmost importance boO > SERM.to every man for himself; it requires there

* VII. fore the most affectionate concern and the Lnr*Jmost assiduous application. The wife author

of nature has fitted the various kinds of beings he has formed for their proper ends; animals are determin'd to pursue theirs, by instincts which are planted in them; but man, who

• œ indued with larger understanding, and a capacity of discerning the nobler design of his creation, and the true perfection of his rational nature, is left to prosecute it in the most suitable manner, that is, by the best and most vigorous exercise of all his higher powers. What can be more congruous to season than that our happiness should depend OP ourselves; and that, as we generally find it even in the low affairs of the present life, ib it should be throughout, in virtue, in moral perfection, and rational enjoyment, that the hand of the diligent maketh rich? But, especially, as this is our state of trial and preparation for a suture existence, God is pleas'd now to commit to us that which is in comparison little, according to our Saviour's parable, Lukexvl. and that which is anothers, that by an industrions improvement we may be the better fitted for much, and what jhall he our own for ever. This is the principal


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