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SERM. The last claufe in the text is: If there be XV. any virtue, and if there be any praise. In which two particulars it may be either supposed, that the Apostle would summarily comprehend every thing already mentioned : or, that he would be understood to say: “ And if there be any thing else that is vir
tuous and praise-worthie, think of it, and “ reckon yourselves obliged to it.”
One thing, which I apprehend to be defigned and implied, both here and elsewhere, is discretion or prudence : which, certainly, is fraise-worthie, for the honour of particular persons, and societies, and religion in general.
You are to condescend very often. But yet it must be sometimes without familiarity. You are to reprove with mildnesse : but yet you are not to connive at faults that are manifest. You are to be kind and charitable : but yet you should not be imposed upon. And it will neither be for your credit, nor for the credit of religion, to maintain the robust and strong in floth and idlenesse. You are to comply: but still you must confider, when, to whom, and how far. You are to be courteous and affable and conde
SERM. scending : but yet you should keep the dig-
if men repent, and acknowledge their fault :
pray for them that perfecute you, , and speak evil of you. But you are not obliged to confide in all, without discrimination, nor to put trust in those who shew enmity to you. There is a necessity of weighing circumstances, and calmly considering persons, tempers, times and seasons. We should join those two considerations, and ob ferve those two properties : if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise : whatever things are true, and of good report. Meeknesse is a virtue. But it is apt fometimes to invite injuries. He who by an imprudent exercise of what he calls meeknesse, neglects his own safety and security from unreasonable men, and thereby often brings troubles upon himself, and those concerned with him, consults not his own credit, nor the credit and reputation of the religious principles he professes.
These are the several branches of virtue and goodnesle, which the Apostle here recommends. And they should be thought of
by all in the sense, and manner before ex- SERM.
HI. I shall now conclude with a few in
ferences by way of application.
2. We also perceive hence, that the Christian religion teaches and recommends every branch of virtue and goodnesse: and that Christians ought to reckon themselves obliged to every thing that is true, just, lovely, of good report, virtuous and commendable, according to the stations they
3. The Christian doctrine does not exclude, or altogether neglect and overlook any reasonable argument to the practise of real duty. Indeed many precepts are delivered in the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, in an authoritative way, as the will of God, and with promises of happinefse, or threatenings of woe and miserie, which none but God can perform and accomplish. Nevertheless arguments from the internal excellence, or the apparent
comelinefse of things, are not entirely omitted. Nor ought they to be overlooked or slighted by us. The Apofle here advises, and directs : If there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on those things.
4. We cannot eafily forbear observing, that this exhortation of the Apostle is not only excellent for the sense, but engaging
also for the manner of addresse. He treats the SERM.