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SERM. By thinking of these things it is likely the XV. Apostle means the examining and obferving the reasonableneffe and fitneffe of them: ferioufly attending to the feveral branches of each particular here mentioned: not omitting to take notice of every thing implied and contained therein obferving how far each of these things may be especially fuited to their feve ral ftations and characters: accounting themfelves under an indifpenfable obligation to practise them, as occafions offer: and likewife studying and contriving, how they may be beft able to fhew an exact and chearful conformity to fuch a direction as this, and guard against every thing contrarie to it.
II. In the next place I shall endeavor to ex-
The firft is whatever things are true. And it fhould be observed, that this comprehenfive word whatever is prefixed to every particular. It is ufed for the fake of brevity. St. Paul defigned not to enumerate the feveral parts of each character here mentioned.
But he defires, that his Chriftian friends SERM. and brethren would themselves obferve and XV. attend to every thing included in them,
Whatever thing are true, or fincere. There is a truth of words and actions. We are to be fincere and upright in our profeffion of religion, in the worship of God, and in our dealings with men. We should be what we appear to be: and be far from defiring or aiming to be efteemed what we are not, when there is any the left hazard of any damage, or injurie, thereby accruing, either to religion, or to men.
Whatever things are true, think of these things. Reckon yourfelxes obliged to every branch of truth and fincerity. Shew a love of truth in your ftudies and enquiries. And when you are upon good grounds convinced of the truth of any principles, be not shy of owning them upon proper occafions.
Never difown or deny the truths you are convinced of, for any worldly confiderations whatever. As you have taken upon you the name of Chriftians, fteadily acknowledge and profefs the principles of that doctrine. Forfake not the affembling of yourselves to
SERM. gether, nor be moved from your stedfastneffe XV. by the reproches, or other ill treatment, which you may meet with.
Let your worship of God be fincere and fervent. Never appear before him with your body only: but always worship him in fpirit and truth.
In your converfation and dealings with men, whatever is your ftation, and charac ter, maintain your integrity. Be faithful and upright in your words and actions, in your profeffions of respect and esteem, in your promises and contracts: that no one may have caufe to fufpect or doubt of your fincerity, and all men who have dealings with you may be readily disposed to confide in you. And never let any be disappointed, or
have reason to complain of falfhood, and to repent of the trust they have reposed in
Whatever things are boneft. In the margin of fome of our Bibles the original word is rendred venerable. And in divers places our English translation has the word grave, instead of that in the text. Among the qualifica
lifications of a Bifhop this is one, that be rule SERM. well his own boufe, having his children in fubjection with all gravity.... Likewise must the deacons be grave.... Likewife must their wives i be grave, not flanderers, fober, faithful in all things. In the Epiftle to Titus. But fpeak Tit. 1. thou the things that become found doctrine, that the aged men be fober, grave. And, In all things fhewing thy-felf a pattern of good works, in doctrine fhewing uncorruptnesse, gravity, fincerity.
These inftances may help us more diftinctly to conceive the defign of the Apoftle in this place, where the fame word is rendred honeft. It feems, that he intends to recommend to Chriftians a concern for their character, a care fo to behave, as to fécure to themselves fome degree of respect and esteem that they should avoid unbecoming levity in word, action, habit, and outward behaviour, which tends to render men despicable: whereby they appear weak, mean, and of no confequence in the eye of others.
Doubtless the practise of this rule must be different and various, according to mens feveral characters and stations in the world. We perceive from the texts just cited, that gravity
SERM. gravity is more efpecially recommended to XV. the aged, and to those who have the honour of fome office or truft in the Church. But here St. Paul gives this advice to Chriftians in general, to reckon themfelves obliged to whatever things are boneft, grave, or ve
It is not needful, nor fcarce proper, to be very particular in fuch a direction as this. Every one who thinks, as St, Paul here defires all Chriftians to do, may be the best judge, what is moft fuitable to his own ftation and character. However, fuch a hint as this in the text may be of ufe to awaken the attention of every one, and induce men to confider, what does best become them, in their stations, and what tends to diminish them in the esteem of others. It may be of use to excite men to labor after fome useful qualifications, and to be furnished with fome valuable branch of knowledge. It may raise a defire of weight and folidity. It tends to caution men againft extravagant and exceffive mirth. In a word, whatever is becoming, and is rather fuited to fecure respect, than expose them to contempt and fcorn: and whatever tends to make others