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must secure that blessing, and engage the protection of heaven, by approving ourselves as faithful ministers of Jesus Christ; that through our labours, our families and posterity may have a claim of relation. ship and dependence on the Divine Providence to the end of the world.
My station in the church gives me no right to use a style of authority; and if it did, I hope I should be tender in my reflections, through a consciousness of my own defects. But I must mention one great danger to which even serious men are now exposed in the discharge of their ministry. It arises from the scandal which has been brought upon our religion by hypocrisy in some, and enthusiasm in others. This makes us shy of appearing active in our duty, through a childish fear, lest they who never will do right should think we are doing wrong. The people who call themselves the world can forgive a man any thing sooner than the appearance of much religion: and in an age when counterfeits are abroad, they censure with a shew of prudence and authority: their opinion becomes popular; and falsehood, when popular, never fails to domineer; it produces insolence on one side, and servility on the other. In every community, the vicious and the indolent will, if they can, make themselves a rule to all the rest; no coin must be current without their image and superscription. The man who gives praise to that truth or that virtue which reflects dishonour upon himself, must be blessed with a degree of liberality rarely to be met with. Sobriety must therefore never expect the good word of drunkenness ; profligacy will always contemn prudence; profaneness will mock at piety; and they who have much religion must now meet the danger of being cast out as counterfeits by those who have little. If
they are in the church, and shew any extraordinary attention to the work of the ministry, they will incur the suspicion of being under some mistake: some root of error will be supposed to animate them; as if false doctrine alone could inspire a zeal for the glory of God. But has the plan of Redemption no value; has the goodness of God no influence; has the eloquence of Revelation no power, but with indiscreet minds and disordered imaginations? Heaven forbid that we should harbour šo injurious a sentiment, which reflects dishonour upon God and man! If hypocritical sanctity in some, and enthusiastic doctrine in others, have brought Christian zeal into disrepute, this will indeed be a snare to those who lay too great a stress upon the approbation of the world. But we may steer through all these difficulties, by attending to the example of the church here, and committing ourselves to the judgment of God hereafter. Thus we shall be secured from the wildness of imagination, and from that dishonourable fear, which would hinder us from being of any use as soldiers of Jesus Christ.
Every clergyman has his way marked out for him in the Articles and Homilies of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND; a church which has hitherto been a faithful witness to all necessary truth; grounding her be. lief on the scripture and the practice of the purest ages. Her sober doctrines will secure us from the flights of fancy, and the vanity of innovation. Thus, however active and busy, we shall still be true and orderly sons of the church ; and if we do not give satisfaction under that character, no blame will lie upon our consciences ; let those look to it who do not accept of us.
To secure ourselves against the prevailing influence
of fashion, so formidable to the children of this world, we must consider ourselves as stewards of God, to whom alone we shall be accountable at last. If he shall approve
it will not be worth our while to enquire who hath condemned us.
The breath of censure, and the blast of fame, are temporary and transient: the distinctions which now make so much noise, the parties which disturb the world, and divide the hearts of men, shall soon be at an end. Infidelity and indevotion shall meet the infamy they deserve, and truth shall once more be held in honour. Which God of his infinite mercy grant in his good time, for the merits of Jesus Christ; to whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one eternal God, be ascribed, as is ever due, all honour, glory, praise, might, majesty and dominion, both now and for evermore, Amen.