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softest things that the matter will bear; love covereth a multitude of faults and follies, and in this case silence often becomes us best. But when providence and duty requires us to speak, no pretences of love or charity are sufficient to excuse a falsehood.

Again, when we have a bright character upon our tongues, or when we are paying civilities to our neighbours or friends, let us take heed of being lavish beyond what truth will allow. The sins of complaisance may be connived at or applauded by men, and miscalled by the name of good breeding; but the eye and ear of God take a juster and more severe notice of the softest and smoothest falsehoods.

In all the discoveries of our esteem for other men, let us speak no more than we in our hearts believe. It is a character of a very vicious time, and a very degenerate and corrupt age, Ps. xii. 2. "They speak every one with his neighbour, with flattering lips, and with a double heart do they speak; but the Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, for he hates them," ver. 3. They speak flattery with their tongue, while at the same time their throats are open sepulchres, and they, it may be, attempt to waste, devour, and destroy. This character of the basest of men you read in the vth Psalm; and you find the same hateful practice among the Jews in their deepest degeneracy; Jer. ix. 5. 8. "They will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth. One speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth wait for him." But this which was so abominable in a Jew, surely a christian ought to stand at the greatest distance from it at all times.

As in discovery of our esteem, so in the profession of our love and good-will to our neighbour, we must observe truth. When your heart is not with your neighbour, be not profuse of the language of friendship. Let love be without dissimulation; Rom. xii. 9. Let love be sincere to your fellow-creatures, and love to your fellow-christians be upright and cordial. Let not that affection appear in a flourish of fine words, if it be not warm in your soul. This is the first character of truth, that our words agree with our hearts.

II. The next instance of the truth required in my text, is, when our deeds are conformable to our words: And this is called faithfulness, as the former is called veracity or sincerity. Faithfulness or truth, in this sense, has respect to our vows, our promises, our resolutions, or our threatenings.

1. Vows are properly made to God alone: And when they are made, if the matter of them be lawful, they ought to be performed. "When thou vowest a vow, defer not to pay it.

Better it is thou shouldst not vow, than that thou shouldst vow, and not pay; Ec. v. 4, 5,

2. Promises of things lawful made to our fellow-creatures, must also be fulfilled with religious care. As for things unlawful, they ought not to be promised. We bind ourselves to perform what we promise, and the law of God binds us as well as the laws of social life. In the xvth Psalm, ver. 4. it is another of the characters of him that shall inhabit the mountain of God, that he sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not; that is, he makes a promise to his neighbour, and though it be much to his own disadvantage, yet he doth not alter the word that is gone out of his lips, nor make a forfeiture of his truth by breach of his promise.

We should remember, that when we bind ourselves by a promise to give any good thing to another, or to do any thing for the benefit of another, the right of the thing promised passes over from us to the person to whom the promise is made, as much as if we had given him a legal bond, with all the formalities of signing and sealing; we have no power to recal, or reverse it without his leave. Always except the promise be made with a condition expressed, or necessarily and evidently implied; then indeed, if the condition fail, the promise is void. But the lips of a christian, when they have once uttered an absolute promise, have laid a bond upon his soul; and he dares not break the law of his God, though the law of man should not bind him.

3. The case of threatenings is somewhat different. A promise makes over the right of some benefit to another who may justly claim it; but a threatening only shews what punishment shall be due to another for such a particular fault or offence. If a superior propose and publish a law, and therein threaten an inferior with some penalty, the superior is supposed to be at liberty, whether he will execute the threatening of his own law, or no: for the criminal will not claim it. Thence arises the power of a superior to pardon a fault.

But if over and above the proposal and publication of this law, a father, for instance, or a master, does solemnly foretel or declare that he will certainly execute the penalty upon the child or servant offending; I think he ought generally to esteem himself bound to fulfil such a declaration or threatening, if it were made in a prudent and lawful manner; unless the repentance of the offender, or some other change of circumstances, give him a just reason to change his mind and alter his purpose.

And in the fourth place, the case is much the same when we make a solemn resolution, and publicly declare it, that we will do such or such a thing in time to come. If this resolution be solemn and public, and be in all respects lawful, it should generally be performed; unless some other circumstances arise, which we

did not foresee, or which escaped our present notice when the resolution was made: otherwise we justly expose ourselves to the censure of fickleness, inconstancy, rashness, and folly: And such a conduct seems to intrench upon truth. But this leads me to the third or last instance of truth.

III. Another part of the character of truth is, when our whole carriage is conformable to itself. When we are always of a piece with ourselves, and our conduct is still consistent with our own character and profession. This is called constancy.

Something of this might have been introduced indeed under the first or second particulars, when I shewed how our words should agree with our hearts, and our deeds with our words; for both these demand that our practice should correspond with our profession. But I choose to cast all that I have to say on this subject under the head of constancy to our professions and pretences, which implies a perpetual and persevering honesty of thoughts, words, and actions, and a regular consistency with ourselves. Now that I may throw this matter into the easiest method, I shall shew how this exercise of christian truth will appear in a good man at all times, in all conditions of life, in all places, and in all companies.

1. At all times a good man is the same: He ever maintains the same pious and religious design, and having set his face heavenward, he travels on in the sacred narrow path, and never wilfully turns aside to the right-hand or to the left: Or if at any time he makes a false step, he recovers it again with humility and shame, and repentance, and his feet return to the ways of holiness.

::. Here let it be observed, that a good man may change his practices in some lesser points of christianity, and alter his principles too in doctrines of less importance, and yet he is not to be charged with criminal inconstancy or falsehood: For he never renounces all improvement of knowledge, but is ever ready to receive further light, and to retract his former errors and mistakes: And indeed this is one glorious evidence of his being a constant friend to truth. But being well established in the necessary and fundamental points of faith and practice, he walks on regularly in his christian course without wavering, or wandering into forbidden paths, ever pursuing his last great end: And this is a constant christian, though his sentiments, in the latter part of his life, may differ in several points from the thoughts of his youth.

When the eye of the world smiles upon his profession, and the sun shines bright upon his party, or when the clouds arise, and the sharp winds of persecution blow, he is still the same steady christian, composed, quiet, undisturbed; not doubtful what he

should do, but aiming at heaven, he marches on homewards, with the regular discharge of all his duties to his God on high: nor does he forget his obligations to his fellow-creatures on earth, though in twenty instances they may forget or refuse to fulfil their duty to him. His supreme obligations are to God his Maker, and to these he must be true and faithful.

How various were the trials that St. Paul met with from the Jews, and from the Greeks, from the Jewish christian, and the heathen converts? But how bright and blessed an uniformity ran like a golden thread through his whole life and ministry? Hear the holy man often in his writings declaring his own stedfast adherence to the gospel: Hear him appealing to his Ephesian disciples concerning his own conduct, and proving it to their con sciences, that he had in 'some good measure acquitted himself according to this rule of christianity; Acts xx. 18. When the elders of Ephesus were come to him, Ye know, says he, that from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, and that was by the space of three years, as in ver. 31. serving the Lord with all humility of mind, with many tears and temptations that befel me: And I was constantly testifying to the Jews and Greeks, faith and repentance, and shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God to you, coveting no man's gold or apparel, &c. I have shewed you now, that for these three years together I have maintained the same holy con duct, that so you might follow my example, that ye might always act agreeable to yourselves, and be constant to your own virtuous and holy character.

But what an inconstant christian is he who changes his principles and practices, being blown about with the wind of pre vailing party, and the humour of the times? Who seems 'active in the cause of religion, when religion is the fashion of the age; but he grows ashamed of every part of godliness, when the tinies turn upon him! His religion dies, when piety is discouraged in the world, and a saint becomes a name of reproach! To-day for the God of Israel, and to-morrow among the worshippers of Baal! Now a zealot for pure doctrine and worship, anon so lukewarm and indifferent about every thing of religion, as though it had no place near his heart! Multiplying duties of godliness one week, and grossly negligent of all duty the next! To-day preaching and practising the rules of christianity, and to-morrow talking and living like a man of heathenism? True and constant to nothing, but to his own fickle temper and inconstancy!

Is it not a glorious character when we can say of a good man, that "all that have known him give him a good word; that those who have lived many years with him, and seen him in iis unguarded hours, and in the undress of life, pronounce him the

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same man as he appears in the public world." They who have known him longest, admire him most and love him best, and they bear a noble testimony to his virtues, and his graces. His graces and his virtues advance with his years, they imitate the morning sun, which keeps the same steady pace through the heavens, but rises hourly, and shines with a brighter lustre, and with warmer beams. "The path of the just, like the morning light, shines more and more unto the perfect day; Prov. iv. 18. "If

But what a wretched satire it is upon any man to say, you see him for an hour his talents will surprize and please you, but if you have a year's acquaintance with him, his evil qualities are so many and so hateful, that all his charms vanish, and he sinks and loses all your esteem?" So a torch blazes high when it is first kindled, but the flame grows lower as it burns, till it expire in stench and smoke. Where such a censure is just, or such a simile well applied, the man is far from that fair character of truth and constancy which the gospel recommends.

2. A true christian is the same in all conditions of life. Let the favours or the frowns of men attend him, or the awful providence of God make a surprizing change in his affairs, still he ceases not to look and live, to speak and act like a christian. Is it not a very honourable account that you have heard sometimes given of a person in the height of prosperity, and in the depth of afflictive circumstances, that he is still the same man? That he maintains his probity and his integrity, and every virtue, in the midst of all the revolutions of providence! Serene and chearful, calm, peaceful and heavenly, holy and humble amidst them all! St. Paul was eminent for this grace. "I know," saith he, “how to be abased and how to abound, to be full and to be hungry: I have learned to be content in whatsoever state I am," and to appear a christian under every change of circumstances; Philip. iv. 11, 12.

The man of truth and constancy, when he is exalted and walks upon the mountains of prosperity and honour, is not vain and haughty in his treatment of inferiors, nor does he look askew upon his former friends, nor cast his eye down with contempt on his meaner brethren. When his mountain shakes and falls, he descends calmly into the valley; but he is not of a mean, abject and desponding spirit: Ever mindful of his high birth as a christian, and of his heavenly home, he bears up with a sacred constancy of soul, with a generous contempt of this world, and all the vanishing honours and the uncertain possessions of it. His behaviour is ever true to his holy profession, and to his sublimest hope. Is not this a character which each of us wish our own? Is it not worthy of our aim and ambition, our daily pursuit and labour to obtain?

There are some christians that know not how to bear the

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