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Knowledge of things, we should take care SERM. to keep them clear from Scruples; for how- XIII. ever fome
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 Diligence in this Matter, because without it his Scruples will remain, and the Fault will lie at his own Door. He should examine; whether these Scruples are not owing to Prejudice, or are cherish'd by an idle Humour of raising Scruples purely for the Sake of doing so; for these are not Scruples of Conscience, but downright Hypocrisy. Indeed 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 tho' one 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 Man 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 оо
Serm. to make them give way to all positive Laws
Superiors; for when a Man is convinc'd in
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 finful ; 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!!. standing any Troubles or
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,
Now to God the Father, Son, and Holy
Ghoft, be afcribed (as is most due) all.
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, pall give me at that Day.
S? T. Paul being well assured that XIV.
he was about to put off this Mv
earthly Tabernacle, and that the
Time of his Departure drew nigh, was not at all uneasy under the Apprehensions of it ; bụt, having the Testimony of a good Conscience on his Side, declared his well-grounded Hope and Confi, dence in God, and, like a victorious Soldier of Christ, went off a Conqueror.
Indeed the State of a Christian in this Serm, Life, is a State of Warfare. Christ is our XIV, Head, and we are to fight manfully under his Banner against Sin, the World, and the Devil, and to continue his faithful Soldiers and Servants unto our Lives end. Now the Apostle acquitted himself a faithful Saldier in these three refpects.
I. He fought a good Fight. From his Conversion to Christianity he followed the Example of his great Master, entered the Lists, and bravely carried on the War with the Prince of Darkness, which our blessed Saviour had fo gloriously begun. For the Sake of the Gospel of Christ, he had been in Weariness and Painfulness, in Watchings often, in Hunger and Thirst, in Fastings often, in Cold and Nakedness. not only against Flesh and Blood, against human Violence, and corrupt Nature, but against Principalities, against Powers, against the Rulers of the Darkness of this World, against spiritual Wickedness in high Places. He knew that we must through much Tribulation enter into the Kingdom of Heaven ; and accordingly he took up a Resolution to make all Opposition fall before him, to take unto