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SER M. superstition ; between this and a mind free
VII. from that bias, self-pleas'd, with all the

good affections, benevolence to all men, as
well as a zeal of God, exerting themselves
harmoniously; both which are exemplified
in the apcstle Paul at different periods of his
life, tho’ in both he says of himself, that
be lived in all good conscience before God.
The latter is full of peace; a calm serenity
and joy diffuses itself thro' the whole foul,
and no disturbing passions approach its rest
the apostle poffess'd his mind in perfect tran.
quillity, undismay'd and unterrified in the
midst of persecution and under the im-
mediate expectation of death, rejoycing in
the testimony of his conscience that in fim-
plicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly
wisdom, but by the grace of God, he had bis
conversation in the world. The other fort of
religion, tho'it proceeds from a zeal to God,
and is in some respects according to consci-
ence, yet does not sit easy on the mind; it
is accompanied with pertusbation, and ves
hement, tumultuous, and disquieting pas-
fions." 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 Ačts xxvi, 11. that he was

exceeding

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exceeding mad againft christians, compelling SERM ,
them to blafpheme, surely a mind distracted VII.
with furious rage is in an unnatural state,
and such as cannot be the genuine effect of
religious virtue,
2: By this time, I hope, we may be able to
form a notion of what it is to have a con-
fcience void of offence; it is to have that
self-reflecting power, which in every hu-
man mind, for itself, is vefted 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 consider-
ation, 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, wicked-
nefs. It is the same thing which the apostle
Fobn expresses by our heart not condemning
us, ist Ep. iii. 21. And which he repre-
fents as the only solid foundation of con-
fidence towards God; as, in fact it was the
foundation of Job's confidence, yob xxvii.
5. and of Hezekiah, who, under the imme-
diate apprehensions of death, thus expresses

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very different

SERM.in

prayer to God, his having a consciopee VII. void of offence, as the only fupport of his

foul in that extremity, Isaiah xxxvül. 3.11ks member, Lord, how I have walked before tbee', in truth, and with a perfect hearts and done that which is good in thy figbt.tiw goois tollt hlo It is worthy of our obfervation, that the apostle, in this very brief summary of his religion, exprefly mentions two objects to wards which his conscience was without offence, namely, God and map.c. But they are of different consideration, and conscience has to do with them in

ways. It acknowledges God as its fovereign Lord; its measures of right and wrong ate his laws, and its judgments have a reference to his superior unerring tribunal, for, says St. Paul, 1 Cor. iv, 4. I know nothing by twyfelf, yet am I not bereby justified, but be that judgerb me is the Lord, Conscience oweş no fuch respect to any man, no nor to all mankind; nay, it maintains its supremacy against them all; their joint acquitting verdit cannot difcharge its accusations, and it triumphs in its self approbation if they should all concur in condemning. But, the meaning is, that there being two principal objects without ourselves, upon which our duty terminates,

God

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God and man,i viti should be out care, rassit

SERM. swasithe apostle'sgo not tos trefpafs againftiei. VII. ther; jor, xthat our confciences thould inot have matter of accufation for yiolating either the one or the other branch of our duty; that along with pious affections to God, and humble submission to his will, we should constantly fulfil the laws of righteousness, fidelity and charity to our fellow-creatures. This is abfolutely necessary to true virtue and religion, in whatever light we consider itp it is only intire, not partial good affections, that will satisfy the obligations we are under by the law of our nature : It is univerfalobedience which the divine commandments require ; and he wbo offends in one paint, is guilty of all. We must be senlible that the declarations of the gospel, the grace that bring's falvation, indeed, the very

de-
fign of it, requires that we should live righto-
Qully, as well as godly.

Cooler
mortui
--BibSecondly, I propos'd to shew, that the
having always a conscience void of offence
towards God and man, is the

proper subject
of our constant and careful attention. Herein
ide I exercise myself.. This is the Sum of re-
ligion, a matter of the utmost importance

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SERM. to every man for himself; it requires there
VII. fore the most affectionate concern and the

most affiduous 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 is 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 reason than that our happiness should depend on ourselves ; and that, as we generally find it even in the low affairs of the prefent life, so 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 future existence, God is pleas'd now to commit to us that which is in comparison little, according to our Saviour's parable, Luke xvi. and that which is anothers, that by an industrions improvement we may be the better fitted for much, and what shall be our chun for ever. This is the principal

point

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