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can be avoided no other way. And as we would have no part of that guilt lie heavy upi on our own fouls, and hinder our being admitted to fee the Lord, may we all use our utmost diligence to observe the wholesome advice; and let us every one confider, carefully confider and examine our own felves, and ftudy to follow peace with all men, and holiness; without which we are infallibly affured no man shall fee the Lord.

Sermons. 1

JAMES PIERCE,

EXETER. DIED 1726 *.

THE

'HE design of religion is practice; to make men good both in heart and life, zealous and fincere, confcientious and persevering in the difcharge of every duty towards God and man. And he that in these things ferves Chrifti, is approved of God, and accepted of men. God will never impute to the condemnation of mankind, the involuntary mistakes they are guilty of in matters of fpeculation, provided they have no bad

*This excellent divine, though dignified by no literary titles, was a man of profound learning, great talents, and unaffected piety. It has been juftly faid "that his works will fufficiently fpeak for him while there are any remains of piety, learning, and good fenfe, among the fous of Britain; and will follow him to thofe mansions where neither envy, malevolence, nor perfecution, can deprive him of his reward."

influence upon their practice. I must profess I have been often ready to envy the happiness of those private Chriftians, who, not troubling themfelves about matters of fpeculation, and not knowing the difficulties there are in them, go on eafily and comfortably in the discharge of their whole duty, according to that light which God has given them. But here I lay the blame, when men will quarrel and cenfure each other about matters which, perhaps, none can pretend thoroughly to understand; and more especially I think those men are blame worthy, who make it their businefs to irritate and inflame fuch as are difpofed to quietnefs and peace. As far as I can judge, they who are most confident of there being no difficulties in fuch points, are generally fuch as know the least of them, and fuch knowledge (as the Apostle fays) puffs up; whereas a little charity mixed with knowledge, would make it more edifying. Where we fee men's lives answerable to the Chriftian rule, let us learn not to judge one another. We are all the fervants of Chrift, and to him, as our common master, we must each of us either stand or fall.

Let others tamely give up their liberty if they pleafe; but I do, and will infift upon it for myself, as a Proteftant, a Diffenter, a reasonable creature, and a Chriftian. As I pretend not to impofe upon others, fo neither will I, in this cafe, be impofed upon by others. No king, no par

liament, no church, no council, no fynod, no man, or body of men, fhall be acknowledged by me to have any fuch rightful authority over me. They may deprive me of my civil liberty, of my eftate, or of my life; but this liberty, by the grace of God, they never fhall deprive me of-to think and speak of God and religion, only in that manner which I apprehend they are spoken of in the holy fcriptures by God himself.

A man may value himself upon the goodness of his faith, but there is yet a greater thing than this, even charity; and really Christians have much need of it in fuch quarrels, for as it will cover a multitude of fins, so there is, commonly, then a multitude that need covering. Let me then befeech you, for God's fake, for Chrift's fake; let me entreat you, by the mercies of God, and the gentlenefs of Chrift, as you have a regard to the peace of the church, the reputation of religion, and the fuccefs of the gospel, that you put on, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, and gentleness, humbleness of mind, meeknefs and long fuffering; that you will forbear one another in love. Let your converfation be upon things on which all Chriftians agree, and beg of God to pour down a fpirit of light, of love, and of peace upon us all, that we may grow up in him who is the head in all things.

Sermon on Charity.

JOHN EVANS, D. D.

DIED 1730.

WHEN

HEN we confider the power of prejudice, or readiness to make rafh and hafty judgments; the plaufible colours which may be put upon error; the indifpofition of our minds in our fallen ftate, for the admiffion of divine truths; when we confider these things, we have reafon in moft judgments we form, to carry this cautionary thought along with us, that it is poffible we may be mistaken. Who is there among us, who is not conscious to himself, that he hath actually been mistaken in many former judgments he hath made of things, even in fome wherein once he was very pofitive? And certainly this -is a good reafon why we fhould carry the thought of our fallibility about with us in our future time. Thofe indeed who have made the deepeft. fearches, and the most impartial enquiries in every age, hath discovered most mistakes in themselves, and, therefore, have juftly entertained the most lively fenfe of the poffibility of their being still miftaken in many things. Now humility in this view, would teach us; not indeed upon that account, to furrender ourselves to the abfolute conduct and government of other men, who are fallible as well as we. To this the church of Rome would lead us, but in pretence of infallibility to reft ourselves upon; though they are neither

agreed among themselves where to place it, nor give us any proof from fcripture, or their own conduct, that fuch a glorious gift is lodged with them. If any others would lead us to fuch an implicit faith in their dictates, while they difclaim infallibility, their claim is ftill more abfurd. If our judgments be not fo good, or our capacities not fo enlarged as our neighbours, yet we are obliged to make the best of them, and to judge for ourselves. We must answer for ourselves to God, in the great day; and, therefore, it can neither be a laudable, or a fafe humility, to take our religion from the dictates of any fallible man, or number of men.

Humility will incline us to make all charitable allowances for their failings and defects, when we are confcious of fo many of our own-to cenfure them with gentleness, to reflore them in the Spirit of meekness, and not vauntingly to fay to any, stand by thyself, come not near to me, for I am holier than thou. A lowly mind will confider even the worft of men, as fuch with whom we partake, in the fame nature, the fame finful nature; who are bought with the fame price as we; who have an offer of the fame fpiritual and eternal bleffings, and are at least capable, by the fame grace which hath made us to differ from them, of the fame everlasting happiness.

Sermons on the Chriftian Temper.

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