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Serm. frequently using expressions not found in IV. Scripture, are not understood by all: and that, whereas we often lay a much

greater stresle upon some things than others, when these also are commanded by the divine being; the reason of this is not perceived, though such conduct be perfectly agreeable to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament.

My aim therefore is to set this matter in a clear light, in a few words, that we may be the beter understood in our ordinarie difcourses, without repeated explications of the phrases and expressions made use of.

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I. I begin with some observations concern

ing virtue, or moral righteousnesse. 1. Morality always supposes rational, intelligent, and free beings. In order to any acțion being morally good or evil, it must be the act of a being capable of distinguishing things, and of choosing or refusing. Such a being, or agent, we suppose man to be. We perceive ourselves to have the powers of, | thinking, understanding, reasoning, choosing or refusing. And the Scripture always supposeth these powers in man. God says to sinful men by his Prophets : Repent, and

turn

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turn yourselves from all your transgreffions : SERM.

IV. po iniquity shall not be your ruin. Caft away from you all your transgressons, whereby ye have Ezek. transgressed, and make you a new beart, and xviii, 30. a new spirit : for why will ye die, o bouse of Ifrael? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, faith the Lord God. Wherefore turn yourselves, and live

ye.

And Moses reminded the people, who had been long under his care, and to whom he had with divine authority delivered a system of laws : See, 1 bave set before thee life and good, and Deat xxx. death and evil. .. I call beaven and earth to

15...20 witness this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curfing. Therefore choose life, that thou mayest live. And our Lord said to the Jews, his hearers : Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have John v. life.

2. The word, morality, is used in two fenses: the one more restrained, the other. more comprehensive. In the restrained sense of the word are included fobriety, juftice, equity, goodnesse and mercie ; or the duties more especially respecting ourselves, and other men, our neighbours. In the more enlarged and comprehensive mean

40.

SERM. ing of the word are included not only the IV.

duties just mentioned; but likewise the duties owing to God:

This comprehensive sense of these terms and expressions, morality, virtue, moral righteousneffe, as including all the neceffarie duties of a rational being, I take to be the more proper sense and meaning of the terms; as they are generally used by wife and knowing persons.

I suppose, this to be evident from these two confiderations: firf, that we often speak of the moral perfections of God, as distinguished from natural. And when we do fo, by his moral perfections we mean every kind of perfection, that is virtuous and righteous, or the whole rectitude of the divine will. Secondly, when we speak of moral righteousnesse, or obedience to rules of moral virtue, as distinct from positive appointments, and a ritual, ceremonial righteoufneffe or holinesse ; we muft mean our duty to God, as well as to ourselves and other men : or all virtue, and every duty, which has a foundation in the reason of things.

Thefe two considerations, I think, evidently fhew, that this is a common sense of

the

the word. And as the love of God and our SERM. neighbour is comprehended in morality, or IV. that which we call moral good, so the contrarie is moral evil: lying in the neglect of any duty toward God or man, or the transgreffion of any reasonable law or commandment, regulating and prescribing such duty.

The defign of this observation is to thew the fense of some terms and expressions made use of concerning this matter.

We are next to observe the pature of motality : or to thew, wherein moral good, moral righteousneffe, or virtue, consists, and how it may be known and discerned,

3. The things, said to be morally good, are such as are fit and reasonable in themselves, according to the cafe and circumstance, wbich any being is in, and the relations be bears to others. To mention fome instances. It is, and appears to be, fit and reasonable, that a rational and intelligent being should preserve the ufe and exercise of his rational powers, and not lof the government of himself by exceffe and intemperance, or by any passions and affections, excited by external things, whether good or evil.

SERM. It is also fit and becoming, that rational IV.

creatures should, according to their abilities, humbly praise and adore the author of their being : acknowledging the

power,

wisdom and goodnesse, of which they see manifold proofs and traces in themselves, and in all things around them : and that they should be thankful to him for all his benefits, and fear and reverence him, and acquiesce in his disposals.

It is likewise fit and reasonable in itself, that these rational, intelligent beings should bear good will and kind affection to one another : as they all share in the like powers, and benefits, and are all exposed to the like casualties, weaknesses and wants, and are dependent upon each other.

All these things appear on the first view to be fit and reasonable. Moreover moral good and evil are known by their tenden

All the things just mentioned are beneficial, conducive to the perfection, and the happinesse of individuals, and societies. And the things contrarie to them are, and appear to be evil, inasmuch as they weaken those who allow of them, and are detrimental to others around them.

We

ces.

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