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or writer who pleases him most; without examining sirst his own particular taste by which he judgeth.
It is natural indeed for every one to desire to have his own taste pleased; but. it is unreasonable in him to set it up as the best, and make it a test and standard to others: but much more unreasonable to expect that he who speaks in public should always speak to his taste which might as reasonably be expected by another of a different taste. But it can no more be expected, that what is delivered to a Vnultitude of hearers should alike suit all their tastes, than that a single dish, though prepared with ever so much art and exactnefs, should equally please a great variety of appetites; among which there may be some perhaps very nice and sickly.
It is the preacher's duty to adapt his subjects to the taste of his hearers, as far as sidelity and conscience will admit; because it is well known from reason and experience, as well as from the advice and practice of the apostle Paul *, that this is
the the best way to promote their edisication. But if their taste be totally vitiated, and incline them to take in that which will do them more harm than good, and to relish poison more than food, the most charitable thing the preacher can do in that case is, to endeavour to correct so vicious an appetite, which lothes that which is most wholesome, and craves that which is pernicious. This, I fay, it is his duty to attempt in the most gentle and prudent manner he can, though he run the risk i' having his judgment or orthodoxy called into question by them, as it very pot. sibly may ; for commonly they are the most arbitrary and unmerciful judges in this case, who are least able to judge.
* Rom. xv. s. " Let every one of us please his 4C neighbour for his good to edisication." i Cor. ir. aa. '* To the weak became I as weak, that I might "gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, "that I might by all means fa ire some."
There is not perhaps a more unaccountable weakness in human nature than this, that with regard to religious matters, our animosities ate generally greatest where our differences are least: they who come pretty near to our standard, but stop short there, arc more the object of our disgust and censure, than they who continue at the greatest distance from it; and it requires the greatest knowledge and command of our temper to get over this weakness. To whatever secret spring in the vuman mind it may be owing, I shall not
stay stay to inquire; but the thing itself is too obvious not to be taken notice of.
Now we fhould all of us be careful to sind out and examine our proper tajie of religious things; that, if it be a false one, we may rectify it; if a bad one, mend it; if a right and good one, strengthen and improve it. For the mind is capable of a false taste as well as the palate; and comes by it the fame way, viz. by being long used to unnatural relifhes, which by custom become grateful. And having found out what it is, and examined it by the test of scripture, reason, and conscience, if it be not very wrong, let us indulge it, and read those books that are most suited to it, which for that reason will be most edifying. But, at the same time, let us take care of two things, i. That it do not bias our judgment, and draw us into error. 2. That it do not cramp our charity, and lead us to censoriousness.
CHAP. CHAP. XVII.
Of our great and governing Views in Life.
XVI." A NOTHER part of self-know .',*• "ledge, is to know what arc "the great ends for which we live."
We must confider what is the ultimate scope we drive at; the general maxims and principles we live by; or whether we have not yet determined our end, and are governed by no sixed principles, or by such as we are afhamed to own.
There are sew that live so much at random as not to have some main end in eye j something that influences their conduct, and is the great object of their pursuit and hope. A man cannot live without some leading views; a wise man will always know what they are, whether it is sit he should be led by them or no; whether they be such as his understanding and reason approve, or only such as fancy and inclination suggest. He will be as much concerned to aEl with reason, as to talk with reason; ns much afhamed of a soleciim and contradiction in his character, as in his conversation.
Where do our views centre? In this world we are in; or in that we are going to? If our hopes and joys centre here, it is a mortifying thought, that we are every day "departing from our happiness;" but if they are sixed above, it is a joy to think that we are every day drawing nearer to the object of our highest wishes.
Is our main care to appear great in the eye of man, or good in the eye of God? If the former, we expose ourselves to the pain of a perpetual disappointment; for it is much, if the envy of men do not rob us of a great deal of our just praise, or if our vanity will be content with that they allow us. But if the latter be our main care; if our chief view is to be approved of God, we are laying up a fund of the most lasting and solid satisfactions. Not to fay that this is the truest way to appear great in the eye of men, and to conciliate the esteem of all those whose praise is worth our wish.
*' Be this then, O my foul, thy wise "and steady pursuit; let this circum*' scribe and direct thy views; be this a "law to thee, from which account it a "sin to depart, whatever disrespect or *' contempt it may expose thee to from 3 others;