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ther you receive it or no; for if the Gospel be truly what it is said to be, whether you will receive it, or whether you reject it, you shall most certainly be judged by the tenor of it. I do not propose this confideration as necessarily determining your choice to the Gospel, since the pretences of the Gospel to divine authority still lie under your examination : but thus far the confideration goes, to Thew you how necessary it is to deal in this matter with all fincerity and truth, and to try the cause impartially; since, if the Gospel be the word of God, it is death to forsake it. It is want of reflection that makes men think religion is a thing so perfectly in their own power, that they may choose where and how they please, without being accountable for the choice they make, provided only they live up to the terms of it. For, in truth, religion, properly and strictly so called, admits of no choice: it does not lie before you to consider whether

you Thall love God or no, or whether you shall love your neighbour or no: you have no choice whether you will be fober, temperate, and chaste, or otherwise ; for in these essential parts of religion you must either obey, or perish. But the weakness and corruption of man making it necessary for God to interpose by a new declaration of his will, the only dispute is of the truth and authority of this new declaration. If it indeed comes from God, it cannot be safe to reject it: and whether it does or no, it is absurd to reject it without weighing its merit. This therefore is, of all others, the most weighty and serious matter,

and requires the exercise of your most composed thoughts. For, if you wantonly or perversely refuse the gift of God, this will be your condemnation, that light is come into the world, and you loved darkness rather than light.

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How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, : and seek not the honour that cometh from God only ? THE chief exercise of reason consists in disposing and regulating our actions, so as to render them subservient to the end or happiness which we propose. to obtain. And though perhaps, with respect to the great numbers of men in the world, but few in comparison choose well for themselves, and fewer still pursue wisely and steadily the good they choose ; yet all men have something which is the object of their defires, and are endeavouring to attain their wish by some means or other. When we choose ill for ourselves, the more wit and dexterity we have to compass our designs, the nearer we are to ruin, the more inevitable is our destruction. Our best actions, when directed to ill poses, become criminal, and leave nothing behind them but the foul stain of hypocrisy upon our consciences.

This general truth might easily be illustrated by many particular instances from common life. There


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is nothing more commendable than a spirit of beneficence, and an inclination to do good to our fellow-creatures : but when the air of beneficence is assumed merely to carry on private views, when an inclination to do good is profeffed-only to promote our own designs, and to make our way the easier to wealth or honour, what is it but fraud and deceit ?

If civil virtue thus loses its name and nature by being misapplied, religion does so much more. The man who aims at reputation and interest under the disguise of religion, affronts God, and abufes the world, and lays up for himself certain ruin, the just reward of those who have the form of godliness, de nying the power thereof. .. But there are degrees in this vice, as in most other, and men oftentimes act' under the influence of it, without being conscious to themselves of fo much baseness, as deferves to be branded with the name of hypocrisy. Pride, vanity, and self-love `naturally give a tincture of hypocrisy to men's behaviour; they lead them to conceal whatever the 'world dislikes, and to make a shew of whatever the world honours and admires. In the common affairs of life, where virtue and morality are not directly concerned, it may be very right perhaps to comply with the world: but when our vanity, and love of praise and reputation, come to influence us in matters of religion, they will ever give a wrong turn to our minds, and disable us from doing juftice to our own reason in judging between truth and falsehood.

This was the case of those to whom our Saviour

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