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lect any part of our duty from that " fear of man "which bringeth a snare!" "Thus saith the "Lord, hearken unto me, my people, who know righteousness, in whose heart is my law fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be afraid of "their revilings: for the moth shall eat them up "like a garment, and the worm shall eat them as "wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, "and my salvation from generation to genera❝tion."1

They, who timidly and cautiously keep silence on these subjects; who leave men in ignorance and under delusion, even among their own acquaintance; and make no effort to enlighten them with saving truth, lest they should be censured and stigmatized with some reproachful name; must act in direct contradiction to this solemn admonition. Whereas a prudent and suitable attention to this duty forms one of the most efficacious means of diffusing the savour of truth and piety, in families and neighbourhoods; and of opening a door of usefulness to those who labour in the word and doctrine.

There are indeed many vain talkers, who disgrace the gospel; disregarding relative duties and every rule of propriety, by an ostentatious zeal and officious boldness in disputing about doctrines; while it is often too plain that the truth has little sanctifying effect upon their own hearts. It is therefore peculiarly incumbent upon us to ask wisdom of God, in order to a right performance of this duty; and to be very careful that our reli

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gious discourse be recommended by the ornament of a consistent behaviour in all other respects. This is especially the way to "let our light shine "before men." Thus Peter, exhorting Christians to "have their conversation honest among the "gentiles, that, whereas they spake against them "as evil doers, they might by their good works, "which they should behold, glorify God in the day of visitation;" inculcates the duties of subjects to their rulers: " for," says he, "so is the "will of God, that with well-doing ye may put "to silence the ignorance of foolish men." He then states the duties of servants, even to severe and froward masters; adding, "for what glory is "it," (what proof of grace or what recommendation of the gospel,) "if when ye be buffeted for 66 your faults ye take it patiently? but if when ye "do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, "this is acceptable with God; for even hereunto


were ye called." Afterwards he exhorts,' wives "to be in subjection to their own husbands, that, "if any obey not the word, they may without the "word be won by the conversation of the wives.” And, having mentioned some other subjects, he thus concludes the exhortation: "Having a good "conscience, that whereas they speak evil of you, as " of evil doers, they may be ashamed that falsely "accuse your good conversation in Christ."

In like manner, magistrates, masters, husbands, parents, children, and all others, have various relative duties to perform for the common benefit: and, if they be known to profess the peculiar doc

1 Pet. ii. iii.


trines of the gospel, which are generally accused of tending to laxity of morals, their conduct will be severely and minutely scrutinized. But, when believers study to understand and aim to practice the duties of their several relations, in all respects, more exactly than before; when they habitually give up their own humour, interest, or indulgence, provided conscience be not concerned, to oblige and serve those that are most prejudiced and unkind; and when this conduct is adhered to with meek perseverance, notwithstanding discouragements and ungrateful returns: then the excellency of evangelical religion is exhibited in the clearest and most affecting light. In this manner we ought "to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things."

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A conscientious exactness, as to every part of our conduct in the ordinary transactions of life, is likewise indispensably necessary; that they may be conducted with the strictest integrity, veracity, sincerity, and punctuality. We ought to "let "our moderation be known unto all men :" it should be evident "that our conversation is with"out covetousness ;" and nothing ambiguous or suspicious should be observable in any of our dealings. A harmless and inoffensive deportment also is peculiarly necessary: we ought to keep at a distance from intermeddling in other men's affairs: from slander and discord; and from every word and action, which may prove injurious to the interest, peace, reputation, relative comfort, or ease of any other person; as far as this can be done consistently with other duties.

An evident disposition to kindness, benevolence,

and compassion, is another ornament and recommendation of the gospel. Nor is affluence, or extensive liberality, requisite in order to diffuse this benign light around us: provided our exertions bear some proportion to our ability. A loving spirit may be manifested in a narrow sphere, by a continual attention to little incidents; and by such beneficent actions as are within the power of every man whose heart is properly disposed.

These tempers ought to be associated with forbearance and gentleness under insults and injuries; a readiness to forgive repeated and most trying provocations; and persevering endeavours to "overcome evil with good." And, when the believer is also willing to acknowledge, without reserve, the mistakes and faults into which he may have been betrayed; and to make suitable concessions and amends to all whom he has in any respect offended; "his light shines before men" in a very resplendent manner. Patience and resignation also, in those trying circumstances which excite others to peevishness and rebellious murmurs; cheerful contentment at a distance from those pleasures, which most men deem the solace of life; moderation and regard to expediency in the use of things lawful; indifference about distinctions, pre-eminence, or applause and discretion in the management of secular affairs, contribute to recommend, and consequently to diffuse, the light of divine truth.-This is more especially. the effect of a diligent improvement of our talents, according to our rank in life, or our situation in the church; by employing wealth, authority, ininfluence, genius, learning, and every endowment,

with a steady aim to promote the cause of true religion in the world, and to render mankind wiser, holier, and happier, by every means we can devise.

By a combination of these dispositions, and an habitual regard to every part of our conduct, according to the brief hints here given; avoiding extremes, rashness, harshness, and affected singularity; endeavouring to unite a courteous obliging behaviour with religious constancy and fortitude; and studying the proprieties of our several stations; we may, I apprehend, comply with our Lord's exhortation, and "let our light shine before men.'

III. We proceed then to consider the object which we ought to propose to ourselves in attending to these duties.


It has been hinted, that our light should shine before men," and not at a distance from human society. They who quit the active scenes of life to which providence has called them, that they may cultivate piety in privacy and retirement, too much resemble such soldiers as decline the combat, and refuse to face danger or endure hardship in the service of their country. Some employments indeed are absolutely irreconcilable with a good conscience: but, when this is not the case, it is generally the believer's duty to "calling." Christianity suffices to man, from the monarch to the slave, how to glorify God and serve his generation, by a diligent and self-denying performance of the duties belonging to his station. And this is the best method of exhibiting before men the nature and efficacy of that remedy, which God hath devised for the disorders of this evil world.

abide in his teach every

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