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sense of each duty, preserves to the duty its proper principle. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The glory of your heavenly Father is still, you observe, the termination of the precept. The love of God; that zeal for his honour and
! service, which love, which gratitude, which piety inspires, are still to be the operating motive of your conduct. Because we find it convenient to ourselves, that those about us should be religious; or because it is useful to the state, that religion should be upheld in the country: to join, from these motives, in the public ordinances of the church, for the sake of maintaining their credit by our presence and example, however ad. visable it may be as a branch of secular prudence, is not either to fulfil our Lord's precept, or to perform any religious service. Religion can spring only from its own principle. Believing our salvation to be involved in the faithful discharge of our religious as well as moral duties, or rather that they are the same; experiencing the warmth, the consolation, the virtuous energy, which
every act of true devotion communicates to the heart, and how much these effects are heightened by consent and sympathy; with the benevolence with which we love our neighbour, loving also and seeking his immortal welfare ; when, prompted by these sentiments, we unite with him in acts of social homage to our Maker, then hath every principle its weight; then, at length, is our worship what it ought to be; exemplary, yet our own; not the less personal for being public. We bring our hearts to the service, and not a constrained attendance upon the place, with oftentimes an ill-concealed indifference to what is there passing.
If what we have stated concerning example be true; if the consideration of it be liable to be overstretched or misapplied; no persons can be more in danger of falling into the mistake than they who are taught to regard themselves as placed in their stations for the purpose of becoming the examples as well as instructors of their flocks. It is necessary that they should be admonished to revert continually to the fundamental cause of all obligation and of all duty; particularly to remember that, in their religious offices, they have not only to pronounce, to excite, to conduct the devotion of their congregations, but to pay to God the adoration which themselves owe to him : in a word, amidst their care of others, to save their own souls by their own religion.
These, I think, are some of the causes, which, in the conduct of their lives, call for a peculiar attention from the clergy, and from men of learning; and which render the Apostle's example, and the lesson which it teaches, peculiarly applicable to their circumstances. It remains only to remind them of a consideration which ought to counteract these disadvantages, by producing a care and solicitude sufficient to meet every danger, and every difficulty: to remind them, I
say, for they cannot need to be informed, of our Lord's solemn declaration, that contumacious knowledge and neglected talents, knowledge which doth not lead to obedience, and talents which rest in useless speculations, will be found, in the day of final account, amongst the objects of his severest sure.
Would to God, that men of learnir
derstood how deeply they are concerned
It is impossible to add another rea
or second to
our Lord's admonition : but we may suggest a motive, of very distant, indeed, but of no mean importance, and to which they certainly will not refuse a due regard, the honour and estimation of learning itself. Irregular morals in men of distinguished attainments render them, not despised (for talents and learning never can be despicable), but subjects of malicious remark, perhaps of affected pity, to the enemies of intellectual liberty, of science and literature; and, at the same time, of sincere though silent regret to those who are desirous of supporting the esteem which ought to await the successful pursuit of ingenious studies. We entreat such men to reflect, that their conduct will be made the reply of idleness to industry, the revenge of dulness and ignorance upon parts and learning ; to consider, how many will seek, and think they find, in their example, an apology for sloth, and for indifference to all liberal improvement; what a theme, lastly, they supply to those, who, to the discouragement of every mental exertion, preach up the vanity of human knowledge, and the danger or the mischief of superior attainments !
But if the reputation of learning be concerned in the conduct of those who devote themselves to its pursuit, the sacred interests of morality are not less so. It is for us to take care that we justify not the boasts, or the sneers, of infidelity ; that we do not authorise the worst of all scepticism, that which would subvert the distinctions of moral good and evil, by insinuating concerning them, that their only support is prejudice, their only origin in the artifice of the wise, and the credulity of the multitude; and that these things are
learly confessed by the lives of men of learn
7. This calumny let us contradict-let
us refute. Let us show, that virtue and Christianity cast their deepest foundations in knowledge; that, however they may ask the aid of principles which, in a great degree, govern human life (and which must necessarily, therefore, be either powerful allies, or irresistible adversaries), of education, of habit, of example, of public authority, of public institutions, they rest, nevertheless, upon the firm basis of rational argument. Let us testify to the world our sense of this great truth, by the only evidence which the world will believe, the influence of our conclusions upon our own conduct.
[A Sermon, preached at the Assizes, at Durham, July 29, 1795 ;
and published at the request of the Lord Bishop, the honourable the Judges of Assize, and the Grand Jury.]
ROMANS XIV. 7.
For none of us liveth to himself.
The use of many of the precepts and maxims of Scripture is not so much to prescribe actions, as to generate some certain turn and habit of thinking: and they are then only applied as they ought to be, when they furnish us with such a view of, and such a way of considering, the subject to which they relate, as may rectify and meliorate our dispositions ; for from dispositions so rectified and meliorated, particular good actions, and particular good rules of acting, flow of their
own accord. This is true of the great Christian maxims, of loving our neighbours as ourselves ; of doing to others as we would that others should do to us; and (as will appear, I hope, in the sequel of this discourse) of that of the text. These maxims being well impressed, the detail of conduct may be left to itself. The subtleties of casuistry, I had almost said the science, may be spared. By presenting to the mind one fixed consideration, such a temper is at length formed within us, that our first impressions and first impulses are sure almost of being on the side of