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SERM.III afhamed. afhamed.
Thus did he form an artful Scheme, that he might give, without the Vanity and Oftentatian of giving; and he receive, without the Shame and Confufion of making Acknowledgments. Take the Hiftory in the Words of Scripture, as it is recorded in the Book of Ruth. And when She was rifen up to glean, Boaz commanded bis young Men, faying; Let her glean even among the Sheaves, and rebuke her not : and let fall also some of the Handfuls of Purpofe, and leave them that she may glean them, and reproach her not. This was not only doing a good Action; it was doing it likewife with a good Grace.
It is not enough we do no Harm; that we be negatively good; we must do Good, pofitive Good, if we would enter into Life. When it would have been as good for the World, if fuch a Man had never lived; it would perhaps have been better for him, if he had never been born. A fcanty Fortune may limit your Beneficence, and confine it chiefly to the Circle of your Domeftics, Relations and Neighbours; but let your Benevolence extend as far as Thought can travel, to the utmost Bounds of the World Juft as it may be only in your Power
Power to beautify the Spot of Ground that SERM.III. lyes near and close to you; but you could with, that, as far as your Eye can reach, the whole Prospect before you was chearful, that every Thing difagreeable was removed, and every Thing beautiful made more fo.
I have dwelt fo long upon this last Virtue, that I have not Time to discourse upon the rest. One Duty, however, I fhall just touch upon, which will engage us to Performance of all the Reft; and that is, frequent Self-Examination, or Self-Reflection.
We need not look far to meet with Perfons who, though they have a competent Knowledge of the World, know not what manner of Spirit they are of; condemning the Want of Charity in others, with all the Acrimony, Fiercenefs and Uncharitableness imaginable; cenfuring People for the Defect of Candour and a Sweetnefs of Difpofition, with that merciless Keenness and Eagerness of Spirit, which fhews them to be, whatever others are, in the very Gall of Bitterness: Now the Ufe of such an Obfervation, is not fo much to arraign them, as to fufpect yourself. For he never knew himself rightly, who never fufpected himG 4
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 a Multitude of ·Faults in ourselves. The Truth is, the Bulk of Mankind do not reflect upon what they do: There could not be fo many unkind Things faid or done, and fo many kind ones omitted by thofe, who are not void of a Sense of Religion; if they took a Survey of every Thing that paffed. 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 Intercourfe with one another, we feldom reflect at all, or at least very tranfiently. Single Acts of Sin may be owing to fome violent Sally of Paffion; but a continued Course of Sinning, in any one Inftance, must be owing to SelfDeceit, occafioned by Want of Self-Reflection, or to the delufive Hopes of repenting fome Time or other. For a Man cannot otherwise conftantly allow himself, in the Practice of what he conftantly 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.
Confider not what the World thinks of fuch a Crime, but what it is in itself. For the World, in Matters of Opinion, is fwayed more by Authority than Argument; in Matters of Practice, by Example than Rule; and in few Things is governed by pure Reafon 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 Cafes on which your Life and Fortune depended? If you are, you will feldom act amifs: If you are not, you fhew that a Worldly Temper prevails more with you, than the Hopes of God's Favour, and the Defire of Salvation. 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 perfuade us to What? one would think it fhould be fomething feemingly hurtful and difadvantageous to us.-No, no fuch Thing. It is only to perfuade us, what, one would think, is no difficult Matter, and yet is the
SERM.III. moft difficult of all, that we would not
would endeavour after Eternal Happiness.
But this brings me, IIIdly, and lastly,
It fignifies little, what Notions, a Per-