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an Imagination apt to startle at Difficulties Serm. III. new to you. But if you have a Turn for solid Thinking and Reasoning, bring your Mind close to the Difficulty, and make it take a near View of it on every Side ; and you will find that what startled it at a Distance, was only some idle Trifle, which Fancy had dressed up in a formidable Shape. And if you have not, desire those, who have studied the Point, to turn to such Passages in Books already published as contain a sufficient Answer to it. For Infidelity can only go round and round the same Topics, in an eternal Circle, without advancing one Step further : It produces no new Forces: it only brings those again into the Field, which have been so often baffled, maimed and disabled, that, in Pity to them, they ought to be dismissed, and discharged from any further Service.
You may complain that you have not Capacities sufficient for such Things. Supposing your Abilities so very flender, that you cannot perceive the Truth of an historical Fact well-attested; yet one Thing you may be sure of; that it is much better for the Good of the whole, that Mankind Thould abide by such a written Rule of
SERM.III. Faith and Practice, as the Christian is ; than
that they should be left every one, in low
II dly, From a right Faith I now proceed to what is, or ought to be, the Consequence of it, a good Life.
A good Life is not one solitary and fingle Virtue, however glaring ; it is the Combination and Meeting together of all the moral and spiritual Gracęs; Juft as Light
and Whiteness is not one fingle Colour and Serm.III. Ray; it is the Composition of all the Colours and Rays united and blended together.
Your first and leading Duty is Piety to God. And this takes in all religious Duties, whether moral or positive; whether we fully and clearly see the Reasons of them, or we see them dimly and indistinctly, or we do not see them at all , knowing this (enough for us to know that an all-wise Being can enjoin no Duty, but for wise Ends and Purposes ; and an allgood Being can command no Performance, but what is for our Good and Benefit.
Let not your Piety break out in sudden short interrupted Flashes, but let it shine
on in one continued steady Day-light. Have • not just Religion enough to make you un
easy ; but enough to give you solid Satisfaction, and a well-grounded Assurance. Give God all you can ; give him your Heart-for that is all. And then, instead of contenting yourself with thinking, how holy and charitable you would be, if you had such a Fortune, or were in such a Station ; you will never be easy, till you are as holy and charitable as it is poflible for you to be, in whatever Station you are, or whatever Fortune you have. But
SERM.III. But I have already discoursed often on
this Subject: One Thing more however I
despicable Notions, which they form of · Perfons profeffing Piety, they will unjust
ly annex to Piety itself, and hold it ever after cheap and contemptible.
2dly; Let therefore your Piety to God Serm.III. be joined with, what ought to be insepara-; ble from it, Charity to Man. • By Charity; I do not mean only Almsgiving, for that is only one Branch of it, one outward Expression of this Duty ; I mean the most liberal Sentiments and the most enlarged Affections towards all Man. kind. A charitable Man will endeavour to see every Thing through the Mirror of Good-Nature, which mends and beautifies all Objects; without altering any: Like fine Painting, which, without deviating from Nature, adds new Touches and Graces to it; it does not change, but only embellish it';. it does not give a mere Like. ness, much less a woful Likeness, it gives an agreeable and advantageous one. Far from furmising Evil, where there is none ; he will rather think no Evil, where there really is; judging it better to err through a good-natured Credulity, than through an undistinguishing Sufpición; because a goodnatured Credulity will only expose him to some temporal Inconveniencies; but an undistinguishing Suspicion will beget in him a settled Uneasiness, Jealousy, Hatred, and the whole Train of black Paffions, which