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But, lastly and principally, my fourth proposition is, that at no rate does it affect, or was ever meant to affect, the acceptance or salvation of individuals in a future life. My proof of this proposition I draw from the 18th chapter of Ezekiel. It should seem from this chapter, that some of the Jews, at that time, had put too large an interpretation upon the second commandment; for the prophet puts this question into the mouth of his countrymen; he supposes them to be thus, as it were, expostulating with God. Ye say, Why? “Doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father?” that is the question he makes them ask. Now take notice of the answer; the answer, which the prophet delivers, in the name of God, is this; “ When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father; neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.ver. 19, 20.

In the preceding part of the chapter, the prophet has dilated a good deal, and very expressly indeed, upon the same subject all to confirm the great truth which he lays down; “Behold all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine; the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Now apply this to the second commandment; and the only way of reconciling them together is by supposing, that the second commåndment related solely to temporal, or rather family adversity and prosperity, and Ezekiel's chanter to the rewards and punishments of a fun ture state. When to this is added what hath been observed, that the threat in the second commandment belongs to the crime forbidden in that com-' mandment, namely, the going over to false gods, and deserting the one true God; and that it also formed a part or branch of the Mosaic system, which dealt throughout in temporal rewards and!

112 HOW VIRTUE PRODUCES BELIEF, punishments, at that time dispensed by a particu. lar providence; when these considerations are laid together, much of the difficulty, and much of the objection, which our own minds may have raised against this commandment, will, I hope, be removed.

113
AND VICE UNBELIEF
anduct, which is the thing to be considered.
Good men are generally believers : bad men are
generally unbelievers. This is the general state
d the case : not without exceptions; for, on the
one hand, there may be men of regular and exter-
ral morals, who are yet unbelievers, because,
though immorality be one cause of unbelief, it is
not the only cause; and, on the other hand, there
are undoubtedly many, who, although they bea
lieve and tremble, yet go on in their sins, because
their faith doth not regulate their practice But,
having respect to the ordinary course and state of
human conduct, what our Saviour hath declared
is verified by experience. He, that doeth the will
of God, cometh to believe, that Jesus Christ is of
God, namely, a messenger from God. A process,
some how or other, takes place in the under-
standing, which brings the mind of him, who acts
rightly, to this conclusion. A conviction is form-

ed, and every day made stronger and stronger.
Ov its No man ever comprehended the value of Chris-

tian precepts, but by conducting his life according
to them. When, by so doing, he is brought to
know their excellency, their perfection, I had al-
most said, their divinity, he is necessarily also
brought to think well of the religion itself. Hear
St. Paul:- The night is far spent: the day is at
hand: let #s, therefore, cast off the works of dark-
ness, and let us put on the armour of light: let us
walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and
drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness,
notin strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord
Jesus Christ; and make not provision for the flesh
to fulfil the lusts thereof."* It is recorded of this
text, that it was the means of conversion of a very
eminent father of the church, St. Austin; for
which reason I quote it as an instance to my prea
sent purpose, since I apprehend, it must have
wrought with him in the manner here represent-

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SERMON XIV.
HOW VIBTUE PRODUCES BELIEF, AND VICE

UNBELIEF.
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the
doctrine, whether it be of God. -John vii. 17.

It does not. I think, at first sight appear, why our behaviour should influence our belief, or how any particular course of action, good or bad, should affect our assent to any particular propositions, which are offered to us ; for truth or probability can never depend upon our conduct; the credibility or incredibility of religion is the same, whether we act well or ill, whether we obey its laws or disobey them. Nor is it very manifest, how even our perception of evidence or credibili. ty should be affected by our virtues or vices; because conduct is immediately voluntary, belief is not: one is an act of the will, under the power of motives; the other is an act of the understanding upon which motives do not, primarily at least, operate, nor ought to operate at all. Yet our Lord, in the text, affirms this to be the case, namely, that our behaviour does influence our belief, and to have been the case from the beginning, that is, even during his own ministry upon earth. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” It becomes, there. fore, a subject of serious and religious inquiry, how, why, and to what extent, the declaration of the text may be maintained.

Now the first and most striking observation is, that it corresponds with experience. The fact, 80 far as can be observed, is as the text represents it to be. I speak of the general course of human

to them. Wout by conducti the value of cheer

ders have been

* Rom. xiii. 11.

F2

conduct, which is the thing to be considered. Good men are generally believers : bad men are generally unbelievers. This is the general state of the case: not without exceptions; for, on the one hand, there may be men of regular and exterpal morals, who are yet unbelievers, because, though immorality be one cause of unbelief, it is not the only cause; and, on the other hand, there are undoubtedly many, who, although they believe and tremble, yet go on in their sins, because their faith doth not regulate their practice But, having respect to the ordinary course and state of human conduct, what our Saviour hath declared is verified by experience. He, that doeth the will of God, cometh to believe, that Jesus Christ is of God, namely, a messenger from God. A process, some how or other, takes place in the understanding, which brings the mind of him, who acts rightly, to this conclusion. A conviction is formed, and every day made stronger and stronger. No man ever comprehended the value of Christian precepts, but by conducting his life according to them. When, by so doing, he is brought to know their excellency, their perfection, I had almost said, their divinity, he is necessarily also brought to think well of the religion itself. Hear St. Paul :-"The night is far spent: the day is at hand: let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light : let us walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ; and make not provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof."* It is recorded of this text, that it was the means of conversion of a very eminent father of the church, St. Austin ; for which reason I quote it as an instance to my present purpose, since I apprehend, it must have wrought with him in the manner here represent ed, I have no doubt but that others have been

* Rom. xiii. 11.

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115 AND VICE UNBELIEF. sion does actually take place, and, at various times, must almost necessarily take place, in the minds of men of bad morals. And now remark the effect, which it has upon their thoughts afterward. When they come at another future time to reflect upon religion, they reflect upon it, as upon what they had before adjudged to be unfounded, and too uncertain to be acted upon, or to be depended upon : and reflections, accompanied with this adverse and unfavourable impression, naturally lead to infidelity. Herein, therefore, is seen the fallacious operation of sin : first, in the cir. cumstances under which men form their opinion and their conclusions concerning religion; and, secondly, in the effect, which conclusions, which doubts so formed, have upon their judgment af. terward. First, what is the situation of mind in which they decide concerning religion? and what can be expected from such a situation? Some magnified and alluring pleasure has stirred their desires and passions. It cannot be enjoyed with out sin. Here is religion denouncing and forbidding it on one side: there is opportunity drawing and pulling on the other. With this drag and

bias upon their thoughts, they pronounce and deeide concerning the most important of all subjects, and of all questions. If they should determine for the truth and reality of religion, they must sit down disappointed of a gratification, upon which they had set their hearts, and of using an opportunity, which may never come again. Nevertheless they must determine one way or other. And this process, viz. a similar deliberation and a similar conclusion, is renewed and repeated, as often 23 occasions of sin offer. The effect, at length, is a settled persuasion against religion ; for what isit, in persons who proceed in this manner, which rests and dwells upon their memories? What is it which gives to their judgment its turn and bias? It is these occasional decisions often repeated; which decisions have the same power and influ. ence over the man's after-opinion, as if they had

sion does actually take place, and, at various times, must almost necessarily take place, in the minds of men of bad morals. And now remark the effect, which it has upon their thoughts afterward. When they come at another future time to reflect upon religion, they reflect upon it, as upon what they had before adjudged to be unfounded, and too uncertain to be acted upon, or to be depended upon: and reflections, accompanied with this adverse and unfavourable impression, naturally lead to infidelity. Herein, therefore, is seen · the fallacious operation of sin : first, in the cir

cumstances under which men form their opinion and their conclusions concerning religion, and, secondly, in the effect, which conclusions, which doubts so formed, have upon their judgment afterward. First, what is the situation of mind in which they decide concerning religion ? and what can be expected from such a situation? Some magnified and alluring pleasure has stirred their desires and passions. It cannot be enjoyed without sin. Here is religion denouncing and forbidding it on one side: there is opportunity drawing and pulling on the other. With this drag and bias upon their thoughts, they pronounce and decide concerning the most important of all subjects, and of all questions. If they should determine for the truth and reality of religion, they must sit down disappointed of a gratification, upon which they had set their hearts, and of using an opportunity, which may never come again. Nevertheless they must determine one way or other. And this process, viz. a similar deliberation and a similar conclusion, is renewed and repeated, as often as occasions of sin offer. The effect, at length, is a settled persuasion against religion; for what , is it, in persons who proceed in this manner, which rests and dwells upon their memories? What is it which gives to their judgment its turn and bias? It is these occasional decisions often repeated ; which decisions have the same power and influence over the man's after-opinion, as if they had

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