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that he has not at heart the honour of God, SERM.
By their words then men may be condemned. For they fhew, what men really are.
By their words also men may be justified. Some by their discourses tending to the honour of God, and the good of men recommending with mildneffe, yet affiduity, as occafions offer, the great principles of religion, and the important branches of true holineffe, vindicating mens characters unjustly traduced, fhewing the reasonableneffe of mutual love and forbearance among men of different sentiments: embracing all opportuni
SERM, ties for with-drawing men from fin and folXVI. lie, and bringing them to a difcreet and amiable behaviour: I fay, by thefe and fuch like good fruits, fome fhew, that the tree is good. They are good men, and out of the good treafure of the heart they bring forth good things.
Matt. xvi. 16.
John vi. 68.
This point alfo might be farther illustrated by fome particular inftances in the Gospels. Our Lord fays: Whosoever therefore shall confefs me before men, bim will I confess alfo before my Father which is in heaven. And fome there were in his time, who made fuch profeffions of their faith in him, or fo pleaded his caufe, as to fhew by those words their good difpofitions: in like manner as the Pharifees, by their false and injurious reflections, fhewed the bad difpofitions of their minds.
When Peter anfwered, and faid: Thou art the Chrift, the Son of the living God; our Lord declared him blessed. At another time, when many forfook him, and walked no more with him, and he afked the disciples, whether they also would go away, Peter anfwered: Lord, to whom should we go! Thou baft
haft the words of eternal life. And we know, SERM.
Nicodemus too fhewed himself a good man by his words. He was fincere, though defective. He came to Jefus by night, and made an honeft profeffion: Rabbi, we know, John i that thou art a teacher come from God. For no man can do thefe miracles that thou doeft, except God be with him. Some good while after this, when the Council had fent forth officers to take Jefus, and they returned with a great character of him and his difcourfes, and the Pharifees were thereupon offended, Nicodemus faid unto them: Doth our law John vil. judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he does? He had a fincere refpect for the rules of justice and equity, as he plainly manifefts by that apologie, fpoken at the hazard of his credit among men.
SERM. The man born blind, whose hiftorie is reXVI. lated in the ninth chapter of St. John's Gofpel, fhewed an honeft and virtuous mind by his words. His eyes had been opened on a Sabbath day. The Pharifees pretended to take offenfe at that circumftance, and examined the man about his cure: who gave them a clear and diftinct account, how his eyes had been opened. After much difcourfe they fay unto him: We know, that God Spake unto Mofes, As for this man, we know not from whence he is. He answered, and faid unto them: Why, herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is. And yet he has opened my eyes. Now, we know, that God heareth not finers. But if any man be a worshiper of God, and doth his will, him be beareth. Since the world began, was it not heard, that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. This refolute defenfe of the character of Jefus, in the view of much difgrace, and particularly, of excommunication, which he afterwards underwent, manifefted a grateful, and virtuous, and religi ous difpofition of mind. Men therefore may be juftified by their words.
IV. Nothing now remains, but that I XVI. mention a remark or two by way of application.
1. No one may hence infer, that he may be faved by a fair profeffion of religion, without good works.
Our Lord affures us, that mens words will be taken into confideration in the day of judgement. And by them they may be acquitted, or condemned. But other things will be confidered alfo, both thoughts and outward actions. And if men are juftified by their words, it is, when they are virtuous, and fhew a good habit and difpofition of mind. And when good words proceed from a good mind, they will not be alone. There will be good works, as well as good words.
2. We have here a mark, which may be of good ufe for determining our fincerity, or infincerity.
This is a thing, about which fometimes we would be glad to be fatisfied. Men. may in good meafure judge of us by our words. But we can better judge concerning this matter, ourselves: because upon recolA a 2 lection