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ments for without that, the exacteft outward Regularity is empty Form. Now the End of the Commandment is Charity, out of a pure Heart and of a good Confcience, and of Faith unfeigned": a fincere Spirit of Love and Reverence towards our Maker, our Redeemer and Sanctifier; of Juftice and Goodness to our Fellow-Creatures, of Reasonablenefs and Moderation, with Respect to the Advantages and Enjoyments of the prefent Life; for in these Things confifts our Fitness for a better. This then is the real Temper of Christianity. And if we have either never felt it, or perceive ourselves declining and deviating from it; our Hearts growing fond of worldly Objects, and finking down into that fupine Disregard to God and our Duty, and a Judgement to come, which is undeniably the prevailing, and likely to be the fatal, Diftemper of the prefent Age: our Case and our Remedy are plainly laid down in that awful Exhortation to the Church of Sardis: I know thy Works: that thou haft a Name that thou liveft, and art dead. Be watchful; and Strengthen the Things which remain, that are ready to die.--Remember, how thou haft received and heard; and hold faft, and repent. If thou fhalt not watch, I will come on thee as a Thief;
n I Tim. i. 5.
and thou shalt not know what Hour I will come upon thee. But then to do this effectually, we must obey the whole Injunction of the Text: and not only hold faft that which is evidently good, but,
6. and laftly, Abftain from all Appearance of Evil. It might be tranflated, from every Kind of Evil. But even then, the Senfe would be much the fame. For though doing what we know to be wrong is a groffer Kind of Wickednefs: yet doing what appears to us wrong, though we are not fure of it, is a real Kind: and even were we abfolutely doubtful, ftill, if taking one Courfe may be acting amifs, and taking the contrary cannot; the general Rule certainly is, to lean always towards the fecurer Side: for why should we run into Danger needleffly? And yet what Numbers of miferable Creatures are there, whom the Obfervance of this one Direction would have made happy who faw the fafe Path, but would prefer the pleafing one; exulted in it for a while, then were enfnared of a fudden, and loft perhaps for ever! Nor is it Pleasure only, but Interest, Power, Vanity, Resentment, every Thing within us and around us, in its Turn, that may endanger our Innocence, by
• Rev. iii. 1, 2, 3.
tempting us to venture upon what we hope, but are not fatisfied, is lawful. Go not therefore in a Way, wherein thou mayeft fall: be not confident in a plain Way. Even fuch Actions, as appear to us very allowable, yet, if they appear evil to others, it is, ordinarily fpeaking, both our Prudence and our Duty to abftain from, as much as, with tolerable Convenience, we can. Whatever indeed, on mature Confideration, we are fully perfuaded we ought to do, that we must do, let the World think as it will. But where we apprehend a Thing to be only permitted: if the wife will difapprove it, or the injudicious mifinterpret it; if the good will be afflicted, or the bad rejoice at it; if rigid and warm Tempers will be guilty of cenfuring us for it rafhly; or eafy and complying ones follow us in it, against their Judgements; if our taking harmless Liberties will encourage others to take finful ones: in fhort, if any how, by doing what otherwise we might, we shall induce any one else to do what he ought not: the great Law of Christian Charity requires, that no Man put a Stumbling-block, or Occafion to fall, in his Brother's Way; or do any Thing, whereby he is grieved, or offended,
P Ecclus. xxxii. 20, 21.
or made weak1. Shewing this tender Care neither to intice nor provoke a fingle Perfon, if it can be avoided, into Sin of whatever Sort, but to pleaje our Neighbour for his Good, to Edification, is a Precept, I believe, peculiar to the Gofpel: or at least hath so peculiar a Stress laid on it there, as to distinguish our Religion, greatly to its Honour, from every other Inftitution of Life, that the World hath known.
After fuch an Addition to all the reft, there cannot be a completer Provifion imagined, by Rules of Behaviour, for the Virtue, the Peace, the eternal Felicity of Mankind. And therefore Nothing remains, but what must depend on ourselves; that, having the best and fulleft Directions, the noblest Promises, the most gracious Helps, we think seriously, while it is Time, what Ufe we ought to make, and what we do make, of these Advantages. The Word of God will fhew us the firft: our own Confciences, if honeftly confulted, will tell us the latter. Happy are they in the highest Degree, who can stand the Comparison of the two: and happy they, in the next Place, whom a deep Senfe, that at prefent they cannot, excites effectually to earnest Supplications, and faithful
Rom. xiv. 13, 15, 21.
r Rom. xv. 2.