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Acrs i. 8.
Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be
SE R M O N X. Christianity referred to the sincere inquiries and impartial judgments of mankind.
2 Cor. iv. 2. But have recounted the hidden things of dif
bonesty ; not walking in craftiness, nor
Psal. xcviii. 9.
P R E F A C E.
T hath been often observed, that I the exemplary goodness and
purity, by which the primitive Chriftians were distinguished from the world about them, with their amazing patience and meekness in bearing all sorts of ill usage on account of their religion, was one of the most effectual means of recommending it, and engaging others to embrace it. And surely it was very natural to think, that it must be an excellent discipline, and not unworthy of coming from the good parent of mankind, which produced fuch effects in those, who submitted to it. It is just matter of regret, that so
many at this day, who profess Christ's religion, act a part unworthy of it, and seem to be very little under the influence of its principles in the conduct of life ; that vice doth scandalously prevail; and that in many instances, where there is a zeal for Christianity considered as a fystem of religious principles and doctrines, and men glory in the profession of it, there is yet so little regard had to the laws of it in practice. Still there want not many instances, in which this wisdom, which is from above, is seen to possess the heart, forming the temper, and directing the behaviour; and by these we may judge of the excellency of the religion of Christ. To see a person of no more than common understanding, a stranger to all learning and science in religious matters but what is derived from the holy
scriptures, by virtue of this discipline only, acting his part in life so as with happy success to serve the great purposes of it ; to see him maintaining an amiable purity of manners and decency of behaviour, abounding in the just and natural expressions of devotion towards God, in the fruits of righteousness and charity towards mankind ; to fee him ftudiously endeavouring to adorn every
station of life by the practice of those virtues, which are fạited to it; making it his first care to approve
himself to God and his own conscience, resolved and firm in resisting temptations to evil, and in maintaining his integrity
, at any expence ; labouring daily to correct what is amiss in his temper and way, and to grow in all good affections and dispositions ; living in the world, as a person who is not of
it, and despising all sensual pleafures and temporal possessions, when compared with virtue and religion, with the favour of his Maker, and the hopes of a happy immortality; I say, to see a person so formed going through life in a manner most reputable and useful, appearing uniform and like himself in all the changes of it; to see him at last meet death with an undisturbed tranquillity of fpirit, possibly with great : desire and joy, must, one would think, in an attentive observer, beget very favourable sentiments concerning a religion, by means of which all these virtues are carried to so eminent a degree ; and one would indeed wonder, if any good man should be an adversary to it. What a pleasing fcene must this world be, were mankind universally formed according to this discipline, and con