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whom pall he fear The Lord is the Serm. Strength of his Life, of whom then paul XIII. be be afraid : In all Dangers and Distrefses he has a sure Friend to depend upon; and thoʻStorms and Tempests beat on every Side, yet within all is calm and serene. A good Man, faith Solomon, fall be satisfied from himself, and tho' the whole World should conspire against him, yet as long as his own Heart is not against him, he has inward Joy enough to make him a continual Feast, The pleasant Reflection that arises from a well-spent Life will support the Mind under all Calumny and Reproach, and defend us from the Pestilence that walketh in Darkness, and from the Arrow that flieth in the Noon-day : For as it is most certain that no Affluence of Fortune can keep a Man from being miserable when an enrag'd Conscience flies in his Face, so it is also as certain that no temporal Adversities can deprive a Man of those inward, secret, ard invisible Supplies of Comfort which are the Result of a Conscience void of Offence. And this noble Frame and Temper of Mind, as it clears and delights us in the various Paths of Life, so it goes with us also to our Jouir ney's End, and accompanies us in the very Agonies of Death; it Itands by us at a Time

when

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SERM. when we have most need of it, when Riches XIII. and Honour, and all worldly Comforts have

left us, and nothing but Pain and Sickness come in their Room and take Possession ; then the Conscience stands forth, and opens a delightful Profpect of Happiness to the departing Soul, just fluttering upon the Borders of Eternity.

?Twas this that supported the first Christians under all their Tţibulations. Our Rejoicing, says St. Paul, is this, the Testimony of our Consciences, that in Simplicity anå godly Sincerity we have had our Conversation in the World: 'Twas this that comforted them under the nioft grievous Persecutions, and gave them Confidence towards God, because their Hearts condemn'd them not ; ?Twas this that made them rejoice when they suffer'd for the Name of Christ, when they had Trials of cruel Mockings and Scourgings,

yea, moreover of Bonds and Imprisonment, when they were stoned, and fawn afunder, when they were tempted, and Nain with the Sword, and were tortur'd, not accepting Deliverance, that they might obtain a better Resurrection. But when This fails us ; when our Hearts reproach us, and our Consciences serve only for wretched Remembrancers of

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paft Crimes, as they will always be to one SERM whose Conscience is not void of Offence, at XIII, least in some good measure, both towards God and towards Men, then we shall be forced to sink under the heavy Burden of Sorrow that will neceffarily fall upon us; for when that Conscience, that should help us to bear the Calamities and Misfortunes of this Life with stedfast Courage, and a well-grounded Resolution, is itself troubled and disquieted, where is the Man that can support himself under it? When our only Friend, or, at least, that which alone is capable of being so, iş become our Enemy, and that, which ought to be our greatest Joy, is itself become our greatest Torment, who can endure it ? Bodily Sickness, and outward Afflictions a manly Spirit will support us under ; but when the Mind is cast down, and the Soul itself is oppress’d, it is not in the Power of a Man to raise and lift it up. The Spirit of a Man will suftain his Infirmity, but a wounded Spirit who can bear ? Great must be the Torment of that Man who is for ever flying from himself, and whose Crimes are always staring him in the Face, like the Hand-writing upon the Wall: And yet such is, and must be, the Condition of him whose Thoughts are fad Anticipations of future

Misery,

SERM. Misery, and frightful Presages of what will XIII.

come hereafter; for his Life is now become a Burden too heavy for him to bear; and, which is the greatest Misfortune, it is not in the Power of Riches, Honour, or any thing in the World to do him any Service, to filence the Clamours of Conscience, or relieve a distracted Mind : And when he comes to depart this Life, and launch out into another World, to fill up the Measure of his Sufferings, Who can tell what Grief he must endure? what Pain? what Sorrow? what Reluctance ? And yet he is equally frighted at the Thoughts of Life ; he is afraid to live, and afraid to die ; a whole Eternity of Sorrow lies before him, behind him is the ghastly Visage of Despair, 'and fad Remorse on either Side. In short, he dies in Distraction, and goes headlong into another World to receive the Remainder of that Punishment which he felt in this. Hay ving shewn what it is to have a Conscience void of Offence towards God and towards Men, and the Happiness that results from it, and the Misery that attends the Want of it, I come now,

Thirdly, To lay down some Rules and Directions in order to our obtaining such a

Conscience

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Conscience. And here these two Things SERM.
are most natural to be observ'd. 187, To XIII
endeavour all we can to understand our Duty
right; and, 2dly, To practise it.

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First, then, We should endeavour to un-
derstand our Duty right; for he that does
not endeavour to inform himself aright in
the Nature and Extent of his Duty, muft
answer for all the Consequences of a mis-
guided Judgment. A Man, indeed, is ob-
liged not to act contrary to his Confcience,
because that would be to act against the
Light and Conviction of his own Mind,
which being the Rule of his Actions, and
the only Guide he has to walk by, it would
be
very

sinful not to do it : But then it
will by no means follow from hence, that.
he is not oblig'd to get what Knowledge he
can of his Duty, and to take care that his
Conscience be rightly inform’d; for as a
Man is guilty of Sin, if he acts contrary to
his Conscience, so is he equally guilty by
acting according to it, if he refuses to make
use of the Means of Information : Not that
a Man is guilty of Sin by ading according
to his erroneous Conscience, merely as erro-
neous,

for he has no other Rule to act by; but because he has brought himself under

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