תמונות בעמוד
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I propositions, as they are called, from which SERM.

we cannot withhold our affent as soon as they VIII.
are intelligibly proposed. Again, what is
strictly call’d demonstration, or plain unde-
niable consequences from these self-evident
actions, the understanding finds itself irre-
fistibly determin’d to acquiesce in; but then,
high probability, when the case does not
admit of farther proof, arising from the na-
ture of things, from analogy, from expe-
rience, from testimony, where the argu-
ments on one side preponderate in our judg-
ments against all we can discern on the
other, this also captivates the mind, and we
can't help yielding to its force. Especially
practical principles are govern’d in their ope-
ration by this kind of evidence. It is a great
part of our appointed imperfection in this
state, that we have not an intuitive know-
ledge of things, which yet very nearly con-
cern us as the objects of our affections and
our pursuits. What shall we do in this case ?
Shall we neglect these things, and quit our
cares about them for want of fufficient cer-
tainty? No man reasons or acts so in the
affairs of common life, nay, we take up
with low degrees of probability. . Domen
altogether decline commerce because it is li-



SERM. able to some risques, and they have not an
VIII. absolute certainty of profitable returns ? Will

the husbandman forbear plowing his grounds,
and fowing in the proper season, because he
is not sure of a plentiful harvest ? No, he
does not suspend his hopes and his endea-
vours for want of demonstration; but being
solicitous for his interest, and seeing no
other way to provide for himfelf, he enters
into action with confidence and diligence

In like manner the christian conducts him-
self. The case of the feed-time and the
harvest, one instance I mentioned in the
business of this life, is used by the fa-
cred writers as an image of the present and
the future state, as they relate to each other.
Perhaps dry, uinterested, and speculative,
rather, sceptical minds, may think our
prospects and our boldness with respect to
the day of judgment fanciful and enthusi-
astic ; there is indeed no demonstration:
But the christian who has moral perfection
and the happiness resulting from it greatly
at heart, and strong affections to God and
goodness, finds evidence which is satisfying,
which inspires him with confidence, and
excites him to assiduous diligence.

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This leads me more particularly to con-SERM. fider, what the evidence is upon which our VIII. boldness in the judgment rests ; and it has these two rational foundations, first, the truth of the principles of natural religion and of christianity, or an assurance that God will fulfil the promises made to his servants, that he will finally acquit from condemnation, and give eternal life to all them who have sincerely obeyed the gospel. And secondly, the christian's consciousness of his own sincerity in that obedience. The former I shall not now insist on, for I speak to christians, to them who believe the gospel, and I hope the foundation need not again be laid. The other, that is, the inward consciousness, the subject being what passes in the mind itself, is, in general, the greatest certainty we can attain to. We know our own existence, our own faculties, and the exercise of them, by an immediate institution; and this kind of knowledge admits of no reasoning; the mind can have no clearer views, nor greater certainty of such points than what arises from the first attentive self-reflection. 'Tis true, experience shows us that the human mind is capable of such disorders, whatever the cause be, as to Vol. I.



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Serm.be confus'd, and even milled in judging of VIII. its own operations. A man under an indif

position of his thinking powers may imagine he sees or perceives what really he does not perceive; but this does not destroy the certainty of sense and consciousness, in which we must neceffarily rest, being able to proceed no farther; and the error is corrected only by reviewing the matter in a calmer and more compos'd state.

In like manner, though the heart, through inattention and prejudices, may judge amiss concerning its own moral state, which is a more complet subject of reflection and felf conscious knowledge than the mere exercise of our natural powers, yet in general is this evidence to a well disposed upright heart, calmly and deliberately examining itself, clear enough, and built upon a firm and stable foundation, fufficient to all the purposes of the felf-enjoyment which arises from integrity, and of assuring itself before God, and having confidence of his felicitating favour. I take this self knowledge of our perfection in love, which is here said to be the ground of boldness in the day of judgment, to be in effect the same with what St. Paul, 2 Tim. i. 12. expresses by bis 15


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knowing whom he believed, and his perswafon SERM. of his ability to keep that which he committed VIII. to him against that day. For what is be

lieving? What is committing the soul to the Christ, which a man is conscious of as the

ground of his hope ? It is not a transient act,
but an habitual temper of mind clearly ap-
pearing to itself upon an impartial review,
in all respects, and without reserve, conforma-
ble to the gospel; sincere dispositions and
good purposes uniformly carried into actual
execution in a pious and universally virtuous
conversation; which was another subject of
the apostle's joyful consciousness completing
the former, 2 Cor. i. 12. Our rejoycing is
this, the testimony of our conscience, that in
fimplicity and godiy fincerity, not with fleshly
wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have
had our conversation in the world. Now
what is this other than the perfection of love,
as it has been explained, that is of all reli-
gious virtue, or all obedience to the gospel ?

We must not pass unobserved the reason
which the apostle gives in the text, why
our being made perfect in love gives us
boldness in the day of judgment, and it is
because as he is, so are, we in this world.
That is, we are like him; as like as we


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