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The righteauslis more excellent than bis neigh-SERM. bouri; he is wiser, he is better, and he is XII bappier, and in the end he shall appear much more diftinguished in all these respects. The text represents virtue in this imperfect viewi, as practifed by weak and frail mortals, and therefore as far below that consummate moral excellence, which fhines in fome knite beings, not to speak of the fupreme; pay, far below. what our own nature is.ca pable of, and what the spirits of just mem made perfect have actually attained. Qur goodness here, the goodness of the fincerco is not like the morning cloud that passeth am way, but it is like the morning dawn which is weak in its beginning, but gradually in. creases in brightness, till it arises to its mea ridian glory. The path of the just, even the imperfectly just, has a real, substantial excellence whereby it is essentially distinguifhed from the path of the wicked; they differ as light and darkness, which are the most opposite to each other, and their difference is a common proverbial description of things most directly contrary, which can never be reconciled or consist together, and which in their kinds and qualities set against each: other, are the best and the worst, at least T 4
Serm. very good and extremely bad. Thus Solomon XIL. here speaks concerning the path of the juft
and the wicked; the former, he says in the text, is as the fining lights and in the verse immediately following the way of the wicked is as darkness.
I b My intention in this discourse is to con sider the beauty, dignity, and excellence of religious virtue in human characters and actions, not only in general, but in the difs ferences of its state, and the various steps of its progress, from its weak imperfect beginnings to its confummation. It is like the faining light that shineth more and more to the perfe&t day. It is not necessary to describe the path of the just; it is nothing else but the practice of virtue, of moral piety, of righ, teousess, of temperance, and charity, which I suppose so far universally known, as to make the encomium Solomon gives it, that it is as the thining light, easily intelligible. Only let it be observed, that the whole of virtue is comprehended, and every effential branch of it must be reduced to practice in the path of the just. Philofophy itself determines, and it is plain to every one who at tentively considers it, that the virtues are inseparable ; at least, that no character can be
eminent for any one of them, which is de-SERM. ftitute of the rest. Rigid justice will dege XII. nerate into cruelty, if it is not accompanied with beneficence; and to both thefe, that they may shine in any character constantly and uniformly, muft necessarily be added temperánce, or a steady felf-dominion, a due government over the appetites and passions: But in such a state as that of the world is, full of temptations, both blandishments and terrors, none of all the virtues which have been named, can subsist without fortitude, á firm inviolable refolution of cleaving to what appears right and good, whatever difficulties and dangers may attend it: And, lafly, as all these are the qualities, the works, or rational exercises of intelligent Beings, not the result of mere instinct, but of calm reflection; and, especially, as great regard is to be had in them to a variety of external circumstances, they must all of them be Conducted with prudence. But to us chriftians the case is exceeding plain by the rule of our religion, which is delivered in the form of a law, containing short and plain precepts enforced by proper sanctions, and other motives. Will you meet with one declaration in the bible which authorises you
SERM. toodetach a single virtue, on a few, from the XN. bbdy, the system of virtues and to make it n or those few the whole of byour religion,
fufficient ta denominate you true christians, to: fatisfy the demand of your profeffion, and entitle you to the rewards of christianityd No, the contrary is indeed exceedingly clear, not one good moral quality or good work is omitted or left, out of the religious character, or the path of the juft,q as itcris described in the word of God; but every branch of our duty to God, 1 our fellow
creatures and ourselves, is frequently incul"cated, and strongly enforced is sometimes
we have the whole of our duty thrown together in short and beautiful descriptions; the bigh way of bolinefs, as the prophet *
faiab calls it, exactly delincated; and every *road, that is, each particular virtue in the
path of the juft marked out to us. Thus we are told, that what God requires of us, cis to do juftly, and to love mercy, and to walk bumbly with God ll. And Stif Paul says, that the grace which bath appeared bringing Salvation, teaches us to live föberly, and rightroufly, and godly, in this presenti svorld. Will
52 ; 102you * I. XXXV, 8. Mic, vi. 8. 347 Tit. 1 12.
your thèn imagine, that i tolbeiljost' inayour SERN.
the parts of our duty. See what the apostle
thought neceffary, to give us a true idea of