Imatges de pÓgina
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VII.

the most active virtue; for, besides that SERM. our piety and good deeds will ascend up to Heaven before us, as memorials in our own behalf, those that strive to render themselves patterns of all good works, may be the instruments of blessings to numberless of their fellow creatures.

There are some strong things relative to this duty of Example, in the second chapter of St. Paul to Titus, with which I shall take leave to conclude-" But speak thou "the things which become sound doctrine— "that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in pa"tience. The aged women, likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, "teachers of good things; that they may teach "the young women to be sober, to love their "husbands, to love their children, to be dis"creet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obe"dient to their own husbands, that the word "of God be not blasphemed. Young men, "likewise, exhort to be sober-minded. In all "things shewing thyself a pattern of good works."

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SERMON

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SERMON VIII.

JOHN III, 11.

ON EXAMPLE.

Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good.

THESE words, in the Epistle itself, are SERM. connected with a particular case. The VIII. Apostle had just been speaking of one, who had, by his froward behaviour, impeded the progress of the Gospel; from which, taking occasion to make it a subject of caution to Gaius, to whom he was writing, he subjoins," Beloved, follow not, (that is, imitate not,) that which is evil, but that which "is good;" and he inforces his injunction with this further observation, “ For be that "does good, is of God; but he that does evil, " has not seen God." One general lesson to be deduced from these words is obvious enough,

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SERM. enough, namely, the wisdom and propriety
VIII. of following after what is good, in pre-

ference to following after evil, in any way
whatever ; but the words seem capable of
affording us a more particular piece of
instruction, and that is, not to imitate those
who do evil. Perhaps of all the tempta-
tions to do evil, there is none more dan-
gerous than that of example. Standing
entirely alone, the boldest may feel some
compunction at the thought of transgress-
ing God's laws; but when he thinks he
has associates, and that he is neither the
worst, nor the only sinner, he acquires a
false confidence, which, if it does not
quiet, at least serves to sooth' his unsettled
conscience. Besides, as the judgment of
God is reserved for a future state, and his
providence does not interfere in the present
scene of things, with any immediate acts
of retribution, often does it happen that
the unrighteous seem, for a time, to flourish
and to prosper; and this, however impro-
perly, becomes another source of encou-
ragement. Scarcely any thing can tend
more to prove the necessity of a revelation,

than

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than this very circumstance, that the wicked SERM,

VIII so often seem to attain to the object of their vini, wishes, for this is clearly the way of the world, and if we knew no more than what the world, in this particular, offers to our notice and experience, we might well hesitate in our choice, whether, in common prudence, we should not do better, upon certain occasions, to follow those that do evil than those that do good. Certainly riches, very often, are accumulated by unfair and inequitable measures, and pleasures and indulgencies purchased with those riches, which, though equally disreputable, perhaps, in reality, yet are not unattended with much temporary enjoyment and satisfaction. But by the aid of revelation, we are not left to be necessarily deceived by these circumstances, we are taught to look much beyond the present consequences of things, and, instead of regarding the worldly advantages that may seem to flow naturally from any such base actions, we are directed to consider and reflect upon the effect they may have in recommending us to the care and the love of God. So

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