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SɛMi voluntary Mistakes, yet our Endeavours
XIII. certainly are in our Power, and those it is

expected that we make use of. God does
not require any thing of us above what we
are able, but then he requires what we have
in our Power to do, and where we have not
Power, he will supply the Want of it with
his divine Afiftance.

But let it be obferv'd further, that to have a Conscience coid of Offence towards God and towards Men, will signify but little if it be put in practice only at particular Times, for 'tis necessary that it be fo always. The Apostle's Conscience was not only void of Offence, but it was always fo, 'twas what he exercis'd himself in the whole Course of his Life. This requires a conItant, steady Temper of Mind ; no sudden Flashes of Piety, that go off as soon as they come, and seem to be rather the Fever of Conscience than the natural State of it no transient Thoughts, that die upon our Hands; no short Transports and Fits of Der votion, such as it is in the Power of

every light Amiction to fifle and suppress, but an even, regular, uniform Course of Life. They are therefore very much mistaken, who think they have preserv'd a clear Con. science, and thoroughly discharg'd their



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Duty when they have perform’d some Acts SERM. of Religion at a few stated Times, and then XIII. give themselves the Loose, and undo every thing they had done before, as if the Obligations they are under to lead a good Life were not of equal Force and Strength one time as well as another. And yet there are many who, when they have perform’d their Duty at some certain Times, attended the Service of God in publick, and behaved themselves on such Occasions as every good •Man ought, will sit down as well pleased, and rest as well fatisfied, at least as to all outward Appearance, as if they had thoroughly discharged their Conscience ; tho' perhaps they have scarce done a good Action at any other time in the whole Course of their Lives, but on the contrary have indulged themselves in all manner of Ini. quity ; who will lye, and cheat, and revile their Neighbours, and (as long as they can keep themselves within Covert, and screen their Immoralities from the Eye of the World, or the Law) commit the greatest Villainies imaginable. And this is most common among those who trust in themselves that they are rigliteous, and despise. others; who when they have perform’d their religious Task of going to some public Place



SERM. of Worship at the usual Times for so doing; I XIII. fay, when they have performed their Task,

(for such they make it, whose Lives are not of a piece with it) aim at nothing further ; who can pray with their Mouth, and entertan Malice and Rancour in their Heart; who can lift up their Eyes to Heaven, and their Hands againft their Brethren ; fuchi are apt to think all is well, they may do whatever they please, every thing in them is commendable and praise-worthy. This is a way of discharging the Conscience in deed, if it will be so discharged. But this will not do; this will serve no Purpose but a bad one; for religious Duties must not be changeable, like the Weather, but constant and habitual ; not by Fits and Starts, like so many Points at unequal Distances from one another, but in one regular Motions like a strait continued Line.

And, in order to it, we muft not let any thing break in upon us, and engrofs too much of our Time; for the Time past can't be recall'd, the Time that is to come is not to be depended on, and we are only fure of that which is present. But to this, perhaps, it will be objected, that there is no living in the World without spending a great deal of Time in worldly Affairs; and


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that it would be impossible always to be Serm. employed about Matters of Religion. This XIII. is indeed very true, but 'tis nothing to the Purpose ; for every one may follow his fecular Employment without neglecting his Religion : Worldly Affairs are no further to be avoided than as they thrust oot Rea ligion, and those Things that are of a spiritual Nature. And indeed there must be great Caution used with respect to this ; for if the World takes up a Month of our Time with our Consent, 'tis very much if it does not take up another without it; the giving up one Duty will lead us to give up another, and the more Concessions we make, the sooner shall we give up the whole. Temporal and spiritual Affairs will very well agree together, and may, with Prudence, join Hand in Hand for our future as well as present Happiness; for if a Man is diligent and careful in his Business, in such a manner as not to forget his Religion, he is serving God at the same time, because he is doing his Duty in that State of Life unto which it hath pleased God to call him. Having thus shewn what it is to have a Conscience void of Offence towards God and towards Men, I come now,


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Secondly, To shew the Happiness that results from it, and the Misery that attends the Want of it. He who has a Conscience void of Offence, or, which is the same, who does every thing agreeable to the Will of God, and omits nothing that relates to the Duty we owe to our Neighbour, finds a comfort+ able Reflection arising from it, that affords him the greatest Happiness and Satisfaction under Heaven ; for such a Conscience is neither terrified with Guilt, nor leaves Stain or Blemish on the Soul ; it must therefore be the greatest and most desireable Treasure we can have in this Life, and will be of the greatest Use to us in that which is to come; it preserves a constant Ease and Serenity within us, and is more than an Equivalent for all the Calamities and Afflictions that we can possibly undergo. 'Tis this that makes a Man at Peace with God, at Peace with Men, and at Peace with himself; for he that has a good Conscience, has nothing to affright, nothing to difturb him, no Midnight gloomy Thoughts to break his Rest, no dreadful Remains of long-contracted Crimes to four his Enjoyments, nor any

Loads of Guilt to fit heavy on his Soul The Lord is his Light and bis Salvation,


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