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men, and your times from the times of ignorance and darkness.
Farther. If you confefs the great value of intellectual improvement to a nation, then let every one of you promote it according to his station and in proportion to his abilities. Particularly you who are teachers of the people, or are farther advanced in knowledge than the reft. But do it with that prudence and affection, which fhould guide and actuate us in all our affairs, and moft in the most important. Every man is not capable of every truth. Every manner of producing and of diffeminating even the most generally useful truths, is not the beft. Few perfons are ftrong and liberal minded enough at once to comprehend and adopt and make a proper use of truths hitherto unknown to them, or even a confiderable part of them. A bright ef fulgence of light, not making its approaches by degrees, but fuddenly intromitted in all its force, frequently dazzles more than it enlightens. No, in the moral as in the natural world, the tranfition from the darkness of night to the full blaze of noon must come on by degrees, if mankind are to enjoy that light, and not be forced to fhut their eyes against it. Take heed then not to favour falfehood and error by any means; and ftill more, not to profess and to teach them as verity. This is horrible high-treafon against truth, and debafes every man that does it, even though he do it in really good intentions. But you need not therefore directly con
tend against every error; not furioufly attack everything that either is or appears to you to deferve that name: otherwife, you may at the fame time fhake the foundations of truth, which is often in more than one refpect connected with error, and thus bar it from all accefs to the heart. As little need you bestow or obtrude every truth, without diftinction or exception, upon every human mind. As every kind of grain will not flourish in every foil, fo neither is every truth adapted to the comprehenfion of every individual. Even the proper field requires previ ous culture before it can be fown with any reafonable expectation of a plentiful harvest. Are you ambitious of contributing to the intellectual improvement of your brethren, begin by fetting their attention and curiofity in motion; bring them to the confcious fenfe of their imperfections, their intellectual wants; induce them to think for themfelves and affift them in their reasonings: conduct them to the track of truth, and remove the principal impediments and obftructions out of their way; make them fee what they already know and believe in a clearer light, or understand it with greater perfpicuity, and thus accustom them to think with calmnefs and precifion, and make them defirous of greater light. By this means you will best carry on your attacks against levity, floth, fenfuality, indifferency in religious matters, the low, fervile fear of man, falfe fcrupulofity, hypocritical piety; and thus ftop up the fprings of error and fuperftition. Render
truth respectable and amiable to all men, by the modesty and meekness with which you deliver it, by the hilarity and ferenity with which you poffefs and difplay it, by the influence it has on your temper and manners. Recommend and difperfe all good writ
ings, that promote reflection among mankind, and
are favourable to the knowledge of truth. Pay particular attention to the inftruction and formation of young perfons, and thus lay the foundation of greater proficiency for the next generation.
In fine, if you confefs the value of greater intellectual improvement, and actually enjoy the benefits of it; walk, as we are exhorted to do in our text, as children of light. Let your light fo fhine before men, that they, feeing your good works, may glorify your father who is in heaven. Live as men who profess the truth, and are become wife and free by the knowledge of it. Let its light not merely have an influence on your mind, but let it govern your heart and actuate your whole demeanour. Be faithful to your convictions. Exhibit your character as much, and even more, by generous fentiments and good deeds, than by just conceptions. Light, that does not at once animate, warm and fertilize, knowledge that does not make us wifer and better, is of no great value, is frequently more prejudicial than ufeful to us. Your progrefs in knowledge fhould be not fo much an ultimate object, as means to higher aims; means to purer virtue, to greater perfection and happiness. The truth
that reigns in your ideas fhould likewise reign in your feelings, in your views and endeavours, in your difpofitions and actions, in your whole deportment. Only by judging in every concern, by being difpofed in every circumftance, and by acting in every occurrence, as the nature and conftitution of it requires, and is confiftent with your correlative fituations, will you be ever advancing nearer to perfection and to its fupreme and eternal original, the deity; only thus the knowledge of truth can and will become to you a never-failing, a constantly augmenting fource of happiness.
The Value of Afflictions and Tribulations.
GOD, parent and lord of univerfal nature, thou
haft placed us here in a state of difcipline and exercise. Here we are never entirely that which, according to our native tendencies, according to our faculties and capacities we may and fhould be. But it is thy gracious will that these difpofitions, these faculties, thefe capacities fhould here be gradually unfolded, formed, brought into action. Here we are in the ftate of infancy, but by it we are gradually to grow up to maturity. Yes, here thou wouldst educate us for a sphere of exertion more extensive and brilliant, for a better, a fuperior life, and train us up, by various exercises to the occupations and felicities of it. All that we here are and do, that we enjoy and fuffer, all that happens to us, are fo many means to this exalted purpose. All is calculated to render us more intelligent, wifer, better, more perfect. In this view haft thou, wifely gracious, fubjected us and all that