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Acts xxiv. 16.
And herein do I exercise myself,

to have always a Conscience
void of Offence towards God
and towards Men.


HESE Words are part of the SERM.

Answer which St. Paul gave to XIII. the Accufation brought against

him by Tertullus. The whole Cafe is this : When he was sent from Je rusalem to Cesarea for fear of the Jews, who intended to destroy him, and his Accusers were come, they employ'd a certain Orator, named Tertullus, to inform the GoVernor against Paul; who accordingly laid many grievous Crimes to his Charge ; as mongst the rest, that he was a pestilent Fellow, a Sower of Sedition among all the fews throughont the World, and a Profaner of the Temple. But now to prove the ImproMm


Serm. bability of this Charge, and how unlikely XIII. it was that he should raise any Tumults ac

cording to this Accusation, he shews, that it was but twelve Days since he went up to Jerusalem to worship, seven of which he spent there, until the Time of his Purification was accomplished, and the other five he had been in Custody, and at Cesarea; and, says he, they neither found me in the Temple disputing with any Man, neither raising up the People, neither in the Synagogues, nor in the City, neither can they prove the Things whereof they now accuse me ; and then he goes on strenuously asserting his Innocence and Integrity, and gives a short Account of his Religion, shewing plainly that he worship'd no other God than the God of his Fathers, whom Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had worshipped, and that he profess'd no other Religion than what was taught in the Law and the Prophets, from whence they themselves had received theirs ; But this I confefs unto thee, that after the Way which they call Heresy, fo worsbip I the God of my Fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and the Prophets, and have Hope towards God, which they them. selves also allow, that there fall be a Resurrection of the Dead, both of the Just and

Unjuft :

Unjust : And herein do I exercise myself, to Sermo
have always a Conscience void of offence XIII.
towards God and towards Men; i. e. up-
on Consideration of the Resurrection of the
Dead, and that we shall be rewarded or
punish’d, according as we have done well
or ill in this Life, I accustom myself to live
without Blame, without being conscious of
having done any thing that shall be an Of-
fence to God or Man. From the Words
of the Text I will shew,

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I. What it is to have a Conscience void of Offence towards God and towards Men.

II. The Happiness that results from it, and the Misery that attends the Want of it.

III. I shall lay down fome Rules and Directions in order to our obtaining such a Conscience.

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First, I am to shew what it is to have a Conscience void of Offence towards God and towards Men. Now Conscience is the Judgment of a Man's own Mind concerning the Morality of his Actions; and as all Actions are either good or bad (as they are either commanded or forbidden by God) or else

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Serm. indifferent, as they are neither commanded
nor forbidden, so it is the


Bulinels of Conscience to regulate them accordingly, and to approve or condemn us, according as we have observ'd or transgress'd the Law of God: And to have a Conscience void of Of fence towards God and towards Men, is to make our Actions conformable to the Law of God; which takes in a vast Compass of Duty, because it includes in it all the Duties we owe to God and our Neighbour They can't be said then to have a Conscience thus void of Offence, who are very diligent and industrious in the Performance of fonie Duties, but are careless and neglectful of others; who will do only what is agreeable to their Inclinations, and hazard the Neglect of every thing else; observe one Duty, and compound for the rest : But they who observe a Uniformity in their Actions, and take care to perform their Duty in all things; who are as careful in keeping one Commandment as another; who think it as much

а Sin to be uncharitable and censorious, as to rob or steal ; to be an Extortiones or unjust, as to be a Sot or a Drunkard, Sc. For indeed they who seem to be very conscientious in some things, and the reverse of it in oc. thers; who feem to be rigid and zealous in


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the Performance of some few Virtues, and SERM.
fhew an Abhorrence of fome particular Vices, XIII.
which don't happen to be agreeable to their
Conftitution, tho' at the same time they in.
dulge themselves in other Vices that are al.
together as bad ; who can swear, lye and
cheat, and yet at the same time thank God
they are not as other Folks are, Adulterers,
Drunkards, Sc. I say, these have no Pre-
tence to Conscience, because a truly consci-
entious Disposition would direct them to
a Uniformity in their Adions, and lead
them to a stedfast Adherence to all those
Principles of Morality and Religion, which
are either imprinted in them by Nature, or
reveald to them by the Word of God; it
would direct them to the strait Paths of
Virtue, and teach them to avoid all Temp-
tations that lie in the way of it; it would
indeed teach them a general Rectitude, and
a universal Obedience to all Parts of their
Duty. But who, you'll say, is sufficient
for these things? Who can acquit and justify
himself before God, as to the perfect Inno-
cence and Integrity of his Life? Who can
say, I have made my Heart clean, I am free
fromrmy Sin? Now, tho'it is not in a Man's
Power to observe and do his Duty in all
things, without fome Deviations, some in


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