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Serm. III. felf. We seldom have that Charity which
covers a Multitude of Faults in our Neighbours; and we much feldomer want that Self-Love which covers à Multitude of Faults in ourselves. The Truth is, 'the Bulk of Mankind do not reflect upon what they do : There could not be so many 'unkind Things faid or done, and so many kind ones omitted by those, who are not void of a Sense of Religion ; if they took a Survey of every Thing that passed. What is indeed notorious, extraordinary, and out of the common Road in our Conduct, will engage our Attention : For what is notorious and glaring, forces itself upon our Obfervation : But upon what is common, ordinary, and frequent, in our Intercourse with one another, we seldom refleet at all, or at least very transiently. Single Afts of Sin may be owing to some violent Sally of Paffion; but a continued Course of Sinning, in any one Instance, must be owing to SelfDeceit, occasioned by Want of Self-Reflection, or to the delusive Hopes of repenting some Time or other. For a Man cannot otherwise constantly allow himself, in the Practice of what he constantly condemns. Without Self-Reflection, a Man may have every Vice under the Sun, without knowing Serm. III. he has any; provided he has it not in a high Degree..
Consider not what the World thinks of such a Crime, but what it is in itself. For the World, in Matters of Opinion, is swayed more by Authority than Argument; in Matters of Practice, by Example than Rule; and in few Things is governed by pure Reason only. Are you as apprehensive of a Mistake, as cautious not to take wrong Measures, as vigilant and circumspect in your grand Concernment, your eternal Welfare ; as you would be in Cases on which your Life and Fortune depended ? If you are, you will seldom'act amifs : If you are not, you shew that a Worldly Temper prevails more with you, than the Hopes of God's Favour, and the Desire of Sälva: tion," Many excellent Books are written, many weekly Lectures are continually founding in our Ears, with all the Strength of Reasoning, and Beauty of Eloquence, to persuade us to-What? one would think it should be something seemingly hurtful and disadvantageous to us.--No, no such Thing. It is only to persuade us, what, one would think, is no difficult Matter, and yet is the
Serm.III. most difficult of all, that we would not
make ourselves eternally miserable, that we would endeavour after Eternal Happiness. For one, that perishes for Want of knowing his Duty, there are Numbers, who are lost for ever, for Want of seriously considering it, and laying it to Heart. But I am persuaded better. Things of you, my Brethren ; you will reflect, that if there be not another World, there is scarce any Thing worth Living for here, and if there be, our main Concern in This, is to fit , ourselves for That. ...
But this brings me, IIIdly, and lastly, To conclude with a short Address to you.
It signifies little, what Notions, a Person fo obscure and undistinguished as I am, entertain, But since - several Persons have been; without just Grounds, suspected of believing differently, from what they profess, and to have an inward Doctrine, which they reserve to themselves, or communicate only to some few select Friends; I here declare, in the Presence of God, that I am fully perfuaded of the Truth of Christianity, and the important Doctrines thereof, which I have, during the Space of nine Years, oft
inculcated to you ; that I chuse to live, and Serm.III. hope to die in that Persuafion; that, after having read the most considerable Books that have been written against it, I do not know any Objection, but what has received repeated and fatisfactory Answers. A thorough Christian in Principle, I wish I was as good a one in my Practice : and then I should, in some Measure, deserve that Approbation, with which you have honoured me. · I heartily thank you, that you have candidly overlooked my numerous Defects, kindly accepted my well-meant Endeavours ' to serve you, both from the Desk and from the Pulpit; and, what is more, generously encouraged them. And, to your other Obligations, which you have conferred on me, be pleased to add this, which will be the greatest Obligation of all, viz. to make Me, in some Degree, instrumental to your Salvation, by deliberately weighing what I have laid down.
They are the last Words of a departing, though not a dying Friend ; and let them therefore make a suitable Impression. Quit not your Religion, your Trust in God, your Virtue, for any Pleasure or Profit, which
Serm. III. this World can give, for the World itself.
For all the Profit and Pleasure this World can give, this World itself may shortly be nothing to you : But Religion and Virtue will make you happy, when Life's idle Employments, and it's idler Follies, when the World, when Time shall be no more. False Friends will forsake you, and true Friends may either leave you through necessary Avocations, or they may be divided from you by Death : False Friends will stand afar off in the Day of Trouble, and even true Friends can, in some Cases, stand only looking upon your Misery, afflicted indeed in all your Affliction, but without any Power to ease your Calamities : But God is a present Friend, infinitely powerful and good, in all Cases, at all Times, in all Places ; He is able to hear us, wheresoever dispersed ; and to relieve us, howsoever distressed : Almost every Thing may separate us from other Friends ; But neither Life nor Death, nor Principalities nor Powers; nothing but Sin, can separate us from Him, and the blessed Influences of his Presence. ..,
Some there have been here, and some there are here, to whom I am in a parti