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Serm. Necessity of being in the wrong, and has XIII. been himself the Cause of his erroneous Con

science by refusing to use proper Means of getting it rightly inform’d. Therefore, for a Man to do a Thing contrary to the Will of God, when, if he had made use of proper Means, he might have prevented it, and then to cry out, He has acted according to his Conscience, and to think that that will be an Excuse for him, is very absurd and finful; because, if he had us'd his Endeavour, his Conscience would not have directed him to the doing of it, but quite the contrary.

What a dismal Condition then muft a Man be in who has brought himself to a Necessity of sinning do what he will, whether he acts according to his Conscience or against it ! And this, by the way, is one sad Effect of neglecting to inform our Consciences aright; whereas he who does his Endeavour to get the beft Knowledge and Information he can, and after all his Care cannot get rid of his Error, will be fure always to find this Satisfaction, that he has

done what he can to find out the Truth, and tho' he is still in an Error, yet he is sure it is not a wilful one, and therefore a good God will not punish him for it. Now, in order to help our Consciences to a true



Knowledge of things, we should take care Serm.
to keep them clear from Scruples; for how- XILI.
ever some may flatter themselves with a too
good Opinion of a scrupulous Conscience,
and fancy themselves the better Christians
for having such a one, yet it is certainly an
Argument of a weak Mind. And here a
Man ought to use his utmost Care and Di-
ligence in this Matter, because without it
his Scruples will remain, and the Fault will
lie at his own Door. He should examine;
whether these Seruples are not owing to
Prejudice, or are cherish'd by an idle Hu-
mour of raising Scruples purely for the Sake
of doing so; for these are not Scruples of
Conscience, but downright Hypocrisy. In-
deed one Man is not to be tied up to the
Conscience of another, but then it is his
Duty to keep his own as clear as he can;
for thoone Man may differ from another,
yet every one must be persuaded of the
Lawfulness or Unlawfulness of what he does,
as much as he can. One Ma: esteemeth one
Day above another, (says St Paul) another
esteemeth every Day alike; but then (says
he) let every Man be fully persuaded in
his own Mind. But if a Man can't conquer
his Scruples, tho' he's much to be pity'd
for it, yet he must so far overcome them as


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SERM. to make them give way to all positive Laws XIII. of God, or the lawful Commands of his

Superiors; for when a Man is convinc'd in general of his Duty in these Cases on the one Side, and has however a few Scruples, which will not on the other Side prove the contrary, if he does not incline to that Side that has the greatest Evidence, he makes his Huniour the Rule of his A&ions, than which nothing can be more absurd. Besides, 'tis a Rule allow'd of in all Cafes, that to Demonstration on one Side, there ought not to be oppos'd any Difficulties on the other. But,

Secondly, After we have done what we can to know our Duty, we must be sure to be as diligent in the Pra&tice of it ; and the great Motive for doing so is, as St Paul tells us, a Belief of the Resurrection ; for this will teach us to lead good Lives here, that we may be happy hereafter. The Knowledge of our Duty, without the Practice of it, is of no Use, unless it be to make the Omission and Neglect of it the more sinful ; but both together argue a good Conscience, and make a Man perfect and compleat, as far as he can be so in this Life,


To conclude. A good Conscience will Sermo be always our best friend, and notwith- X!!I. standing any Troubles or Misfortunes that may befall us at present, we may be sure That will bring us Peace at the last. Mark the perfect Man, (says David) and behold the Upright, for the End of that Man is Peace,

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Now to God the Father, Son, and Holy

Ghoft, be afcribed (as is most due) all.
Honour, Glory, Praise, Might, Ma-
jefty and Dominion, now, henceforth,
and for evermore. Amen.

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2 Tim. įv. 7, 8. I have fought a good Fight, I

have finished my Caurse, I have kept the Faith : Henceforth there is laid up for me a Crown of Righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge,

shall give me at that Day. Serm.

T. Paul being well assured that XIV.

he was about to put off this vn

earthly Tabernacle, and that the

Time of his Departure drew nigh, was not at all uneasy under the Apprehensions of it ; but, having the Testimony of a good Conscience on his Side, declared his well-grounded Hope and Conh, dence in God, and, like a victorious Soldier of Christ, went off a Conqueror.


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