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will go forth, and I will be a lying Spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. I Kings xxii. 20, 21, 22. How far this is
applicable to our times, I shall not enquire, but only observe to you, that Christians are not more secure from false prophets or teachers than were the Jews ; otherwise St John would not have given the following caution to them. 1 John iv, 1. Beloved, believe not every Spirit, every prophet or teacher, but try them all whether they be of God.or not;: because many falfe prophets or teachers are gone out into the world. I will therefore recommend to; and leave with you the wholesome and excellent advice given by St John, 1 John üi. 7. Little children, let no man deceive you; be that doth righteousness is righteous, even as be is. righteous. Which is the same as if the Apostle had faid, bewate that you be not deceived in an affair of such importance; for he that doth righteousness , and he only, is righteous
in God's account, and so far, and to that degree that he is so; and not he who foolishly and vainly hopes to stand in the righteousness of another; this will not take with the righteous judge of all the earth. The righteous Lord, or that Lord who governs his whole conduct by the strictest 111?c. of right and wrong, belown righteousness, or he loveth those agents who act from the same principles, and govern their minds and lives by the same righteous rules that himself does. These are the proper obječts of love, and their being so is the ground or reason of God's love to them, and not something that is lovely in the person of another. Were God to love one agent, for what is personally valuable in another, or were he to afflict one agent, for what is personally displeasing in another, he would forfit his character as a righteous being; he would cease to be that righteous Lord who loveth righteousness, and
who favourably beholdeth the upright in heart. It is the exercise of wifdom, righteousness, and goodness, in the creation and government of the world, which constitute the beautiful character of our heavenly Father; and it is the exercise of these, and these only, which constitute us his beloved children, and which render us approvable in his fight; and every thing befide these are false or counterfeit coin, as not having the stamp of reason and truth upon them. This is what I would leave upon your minds, as it is a matter of the utmost concern to you.
Ι Ν Τ Ο Τ Η Ε
GROUND and FOUNDATION
R E L I GI O N.
HEN we behold the bold attempts, the dauntless courage, the indefatigable industry, the firm
and unshaken resolution, the great attainments, the vast discoveries, the extensive knowledge, the strict fidelity, the impartial justice, the agreeable modesty, temperance, and prudence, and, as it were, the boundless generosity and benevolence, and the like, of some of our species, it gives one such a beautiful picture of human nature, as very naturally leads one to think that man was desgned for, and prepared to understand the most sublime and useful truths, to undertake and execute the best and most noble deßgns, and to be governed by the most perfect rule of action. But alas! when we see this affair in another light, that is, when we behold the great indolence and
floth, Noth, the consummate impudence and confidence, the gross ignorance and stupidity, the great fickleness and inconstancy, the amazing timorousness and fearfulness, the most abominable rudeness, intemperance and debauchery, the most vile diffimulation and fallhood, the terrible cruelty and barbarity, the great nigardliness and avarice, and other like excesses, and extravagancies of others of our species, it gives one such a disagreeable view of human nature, as almost tempts one to think that man was dehgned, and constituted to answer the lowest, and worst of purposes. And besides these, there are a multitude of intermediate characters, if I may so speak, which, with these, make up .the whole of mankind. From whence then is this great variety, this contrariety of characters, which makes it look as if out of the same fountain proceeded waters both bitter and sweet. This, surely, must be worth our enquiry. I shall not take upon me to give a full and complete account of this matter, but only, by way of essay, hint at some of the grounds and causes of this great variety, this contra-. riety of characters which take place in, and amongst mankind.
The first and primary cause of all this, is man's agency. For, as man, is, in, and by his natural constitution a free being, who has it in his power, and it is left to his option whether he will rightly use, neglect, or abuse the various abilities he is endowed with, and the various external things that are provided