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against them; and thac they were Vol. II. convinced, not by what they saw, bucu what they heard: but 'tis certain, their own Consciences represented what the finger of Christ did not ; and the reproaches of that were so keen and liveiy, that there needed nothing more to abate the edge of their Severity. And truly, he must have but an odd Notion of Sin, whose Conscience, upon Examination, does not pronounce him a Sinner; and he must, I doubt, noc be as penitent as he should, who does not look upon

his own Sin as very great.

3. No man ought to disparage Religion for the fin of him that professes it. There is nothing more unjust than this: Was there ever any Sect of Philosophy, or any Dispensation of Religion; was chere ever any Discipline, or any Law, that could prevent Sin and Vice, and restrain Human Nature within the Bounds of Wisdom and Virtue? We daily see that even Secular Laws in forcing Divine Ones, and the Terrours of this World joyn'd with those of the other, are not able to keep Sin under, so strong is the propension of Man to it ; so obstinate is the Corruption of

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Vol. II. the World! how much less can Reli

gion alone effect this ? and yet, what is there in Religion weak or defe&ive ? No Man objects against the Precepts of it, unless this, that they be too Itrict, too pure : no Man will say the Rewards it proposes Virtue, or the Punishment it threatens Vice,are too little.

And thus I might go on, and shew from the Obligations God has laid

up on the World, from the efficacy of Christian Sacraments, the Wisdom of its Discipline and its Counsels, and from its gracious tenders of Pardon and Strength, that we have no reason to charge Religion with our Sins. But what can Obligations signifie to an ungrateful World? what can Rewards or Punishments signifie to those who do not believe, who do not consider? what, finally, can the Affistance of the Spirit signifie to those who do not seek it, or who resist and quench it ? Alas! what Cure is there for Negligence and Folly, for wilful Lufts and Passions ? what Remedy is there against Incogitancy, Obstinacy, and Presumption? what Motives can ever prevail upon Men, who do not reflect on them ? or whar Truths can purifie the Soul, if it

do

do not believe them? Alas! alas ! such Vol. II. is our State, and such our Nature, that it is very difficult to become good ; and when we stand, it requires great care not to fall ; incessant Prayer, unwearied Diligence, holy Fear, wise Humility, and the most vigilant Caution and Circumspection ought ever to be the Companions of a Christian and without this, no Precepts, no Examples, no Exhortations, no Admonitions, no Threats, no Promises can ever secure us. The Gospel is certainly the Wisdom of God, and the Power of God unto Salvation ; but yet our Carelesness and Confidence, our Freedoms and Indulgences may render it very ineffe&tual to us; but this were the highest Injustice, to charge the Gospel with the Sin and Folly of those who profess it, and to impute the Negligence of the one, to the Incompetency or Insuf. ficiency of the other. 'Tis true, this has ever been the method of Atheists and Infidels, of Pagans, Hereticks and Schismaticks, and of ill Men in general: Thus Nathan told David, that his Fall had occasioned the Enemies of Go to blafpheme; and ill Men ever lye in wait for the slips of the good and vir

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Vol. II. tuous; but I hope none amongst us

will, upon any such occasion, be followers of Infidels and the Wicked, but of Christ, or the Prophets and the Apostles; these bewaild the Sins of others, with the truest sorrow; they wept for those who were themselves harden'd, and offered Prayers for those who instead of putting up any for themselves, were daily provoking Heaven by their Crimes : Mine eyes run down with tears, says David, because Men keep not thy Law. Ob that mine head, says Jeremiah, were waters, and mine eyes tears! Jer. 2. 1. Thus have we our Saviour weeping over Jerusater, and St. Paul praying for his Countrymen, Rom... with a Passion very transporting. This is the true Spirit of Christianity; this is a Zeal becoming the Gospel : In such boloms we are fure that the Love of God and their Neighbour, Humility and Mercy reign: but what Passions, whatHumours reign in the bosom of the Cenforious Pharifee, or any other that Exercifes, 'eicher his Wit or Spite, to the disadvantage of his unhappy Neighbour, or the dir: paragement of Religion, the last Day will discover

Dire&tions

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Vol. II.

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1 Cor. IX. 24.
Know ye not, that they which run in a

race,run all, but one receives the prize ?
So run that ge may

obtain.
Will not insist on the Metaphors

my Text, and the Context, which several Commentators have given us an elaborate Account of, partly because I think I can spend the time allotted me more usefully; and partly because you your selves, without the help of an Expositor, do easily understand, that the Race the Apostle here speaks of, is a Spiritual one, and the Prize a Heavenly and Incorruptible Crown: one thing only is necessary to be observed, that as wemust not argue from any circumstantial Part of a Parable, but from the main Design of it ; so neither must we press a Simile or an Allegory too far. Thus here, we must not infer that there is but one Crown in Heaven, and that amongst those numbers which contend

earnestly

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