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Yet you may observe, that though he appeared free from the Jewish law when he was among the Gentiles, yet he did not carry it like a lawless man, but confined all his practice within the bounds of his duty to God and his Saviour, being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ; ver. 21. So that neither one sort of company nor the other tempted him to neglect any duty, or to indulge any sin.

You may observe also upon another occasion, where Jews and Gentiles were both present, when he thought a conformity to any of the Jewish customs might give greater offence to the Gentile christians, and be likely to do more hurt than good, he withstood Peter to the face; for his sinful compliance with the uncharitable Jews: He reproved him for dissembling; and chid him because he walked not uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel, and would not give place to him by subjection; no, not for an hour; Gal. ii. 5, 11, 14, &c.

There are some seasons therefore when we may indulge an innocent compliance with our company in things lawful, in order to do credit to the gospel of Christ, and make our profession appear lovely and honourable in the eyes of all: But there are other seasons when circumstances are so placed, that we may not indulge the same compliances, lest our liberty be construed to an evil purpose, and we bring more scandal than honour to our profession by it.

I grant there are some difficulties attending particular cases in the christian life, and it is hard to know sometimes how far we may go. It is no easy matter to tread in the apostle's steps, to become all things to all men, and yet be true to Christ. In the general, let this be our great rule, to act always with honest zeal for the glory of God, and see that we please him in the first place; and then as far as possible to please all men, not seeking our own profit, but the profit of many; that they may be saved; 1 Cor. x. 31, 32, 33. And if while we endeavour to be true to God, we should happen to be less complaisant to men, we shall certainly find favour at the throne of God, and then we ought not to be over-solicitous whether men be pleased, or no.

Thus I have finished the first general head, which was to shew the extent and latitude of this virtue, or what is included in the nature of this truth, which the apostle recommends to christians. It contains in it veracity or sincerity, faithfulness and constancy: And a lovely character it is indeed, when it shines in its full glory.

But it is time now to enquire, which of us can say, "This character belongs to me? Am I this true, this sincere, this faithful, this constant christian? Am I always careful that my words

are conformable to my heart, and express the honest sense of my soul; Do I speak nothing but what I believe to be true, and set a continual guard upon the door of my lips, lest they utter deceit and falsehood? Do I neither flatter my neighbour, nor spread a false report of him? Am I watchful to make no promises, but what I mean sincerely to fulfil? And am I as careful to perform my vows and all my engagements? Am I sincere in the profession of godliness, and constant in my practice of it at all times and circumstances, in all places and companies whatsoever?"

Let us ask our hearts again, " While we have heard this discourse, how many of us have sat here judging our neighbours, and not ourselves: Have we been distributing abroad the shameful characters of insincerity, falsehood, unfaithfulness, and inconstancy, among our acquaintance? Or have we applied the words as a test to our own souls, as a trial of our christianity? Have we taken a secret and malicious pleasure in fixing these scandals upon others? Or have we begged of God to fix the conviction upon ourselves if we are guilty? And which of us can stand up and say in the face of heaven, We are innocent, entirely innocent of all these charges?" O may the blessed Spirit, the Convincer and the Sanctifier, shew each of us our own concern in this sermon, awaken each of us to a sense of our own iniquities, and by his almighty grace work in us repentance, and restore us to truth and holiness!

SERMON XXI.

Christian Morality, viz. Truth, Sincerity, &c.

PHILIP. iv. 8.-Whatsoever things are true,-think on these things.

TRUTH is a name of wide extent. It includes in it the blessings of the head and the heart. Happy the man whose head is furnished with a large knowledge of divine and human truth, and so far delivered from mistakes and errors, as to lay a foundation for wisdom and holiness! But all the furniture of the head is not sufficient to make us truly wise and holy, without the honesty and integrity of the heart. Truth demands a room and place there also: And this is the truth which my text recommends.

The first thing I proposed, was to shew the latitude and extent of this duty-and I have described it as consisting in these three things; 1. Veracity, which is, when our words are conformable to the sentiments of our mind. 2. Faithfulness, when our actions agree with our words. 3. Constancy, and that is when our practices are consistent with our pious principles, and the whole course of our life is of a piece, governed by the same rules and dictates of morality and religion. Where these are wanting, that person is false, faithless, fickle, and inconstant, and acts neither agreeable to his nature as a man, nor to his character as a christian.

The second thing I designed to shew, was that the light of nature dictates and requires the practice of this virtue: And it will appear, if we consider our relation either to God

or man.

I. If we consider our natural relation to God, both as our Creator or Father, and as our Lord or Governor.

Consider him as our Father, the Author of our being. Truth and faithfulness are the attributes of his nature, and the necessary characters of his conduct toward his creatures; and many of the heathens could tell us, that a likeness to God the Father of our spirits, in such moral perfections of his nature, is the duty and glory of mankind. We are his offspring, saith Aratus, a heathen poet; Acts xvii. 28. and children should be like their divine Parent.

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The light of nature tells us, that he is not only our Creator, and our Father in this sense, but he is our Lord and Governor also. And he has knowledge, and he has power to answer and fulfil this high character and station. The great God who looks into our hearts, who sees souls through and through, he knows what our inward sentiments are while the falschood is on our lips; he remembers what our engagements and contracts are while we renounce and break them; he hates deceit, lying, and falsehood; and all the civilized nations have ever supposed that he will avenge it with peculiar judgments.

It is upon this supposition of an all-knowing and avenging power, that oaths are administered in all countries which are reformed from utter barbarity. An oath is appointed to be the confirmation of truth in what we say or do. Therein God himself, with all his knowledge, his power and his terrors, is called upon to bear witness to what we speak, and to be an avenger of perjury and falsehood. Surely we might venture to say, that a day will come when the great and holy God will shew himself terrible to liars and deceivers, if we had nothing but the light of nature to tell us so.

II. If we consider our relation to mankind, truth will appear to be a necessary duty. Man is a sociable creature, he is made to love society; but no society can be maintained without truth: All falsehood therefore is inconsistent with the social nature of mankind, and consequently it becomes contrary to the law and light of nature. Without truth we should all become deceivers to one another, every man a liar to his neighbour. No contracts would be of any force; no commerce could be maintained; none of us would be able to trust another, nor could we live safe by those that dwell nearest to us.

He that indulges himself in lying, takes away his own credit, and gives sufficient occasion for his neighbour not to believe him, even when he happens to speak the truth; for a man that will lie and deceive sometimes, how can we tell that he is not dealing, deceitfully with us, even when he professes to be most faithful and true? And children should take notice of this, that if once they indulge the sin of lying, there is nobody will ever believe what they say.

A liar is such an abandoned character amongst mankind, that though there are too many who deserve the name, yet every one is ashamed of it. It is esteemed a reproach of so heinous and hateful a nature for a man to be called a liar, that sometimes the life and the blood of the slanderer has paid for it. The very nature of man resents it highly, for it implies in it, that a man

guilty of this vice deserves to be cut off from all society with mankind, and to be thrust out of cities and families like a beast of the earth.

The same thing may be said of an unfaithful man, a man who makes promises, contracts, and agreements, and takes no care to perform them. All commerce and traffic is confounded, and the laws of it dissolved, by a person of this shameful conduct. He that loses his credit and honour by this sort of falsehood, cuts himself off from many of the blessings of civil society, and stands as it were excommunicated from the friendship, the company, and commerce of his neighbours among whom he dwells. His character becomes hateful among men, and his name is a word of scandal and infamy. But where a man is true to his word, and punctual in all his correspondencies, how fair is his reputation! How honourable is his name! And he stands entitled to all the blessings of the society where he resides.

I might borrow arguments also from the light of nature, to shew what an excellent virtue is that of constancy; how useful in the whole course of life; how honourable a name does it gain a man in the world! With what a happy regularity his affairs proceed, both in his household and in his shop, or business of life! He maintains a sacred and steady peace of mind, and all men bless him: but the character of a fickle, wavering, inconstant man, is always mean and contemptible: he is compared to a weathercock, that is blown about by every wind and his name is thus exalted, or stuck on high, there to become a more public mark of jest and ridicule,

The third thing I proposed, is to consider what are those additional arguments that might be drawn from the gospel for the practice of this truth and sincerity, this faithfulness and constancy : For the gospel doth not only confirm all the duties of morality that the light of nature dictates, and establish all the reasons of them that the light of nature more feebly proposes, but it adds also many arguments and motives to enforce the same virtuous practices, which the mere light of nature knows nothing of; and I shall represent all these advantages of the gospel here. But I will not overload your memory with particulars, and therefore I shall speak them more generally, and heap them together; and may your souls and mine feel the united force of them!

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It is a gospel of truth we profess, even the eternal truth of God revealed to men concerning our salvation and his glory. There are a multitude of scriptures where the gospel itself is called the truth, and the word of truth; and it is a most inconsistent thing for the professors of this gospel to be guilty of falsehood..

God the Father is the God of truth; and never did he give so glorious a demonstration of the sincerity of his love, of the faith

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