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does, who thinks only, or chiefly, or habitually, upon his virtues. Can a better reason be given for meditating more upon our sins, and less upon our virtues, than this; that one train of thought may be profitable to salvation, the other' is profitable for nothing ?

It is an exceedingly good observation, that we may safely leave our virtues and good qualities to themselves. And, besides the use we have made of it in showing the superfluity, as well as the danger of giving in to the contemplation of our virtues, it is also a quieting and consoling reflection for a different, and, in some degree, an opposite description of cháracter, that is to say, for tender and timorous consciences. Such are sometimes troubled with doubts and scruples about even their good actions. Virtue was too easy for them, or too difficult ; too easy and pleasant to have any merit in' it : or difficult by reason of fleshly, selfish, or depraved propensities, still existing unsubdued, still struggling in their unregenerated hearts. These are natural, and, as I

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have sometimes known them, very distressing scruples. I think that observations might be offered to remove the ground of them altogether ; but what I have at present to suggest is, that the very act of reflection, which leads to them, is unnecessary, provided you will proceed by our rule, viz.. to leave your virtues, such as they are, to themselves; and to bend the whole force of your thoughts towards your sins, towards the conquest of these.

But it will be said, are we not to taste the comforts of religion ? Are we not to be permitted, or rather ought we not to be encouraged, to relish, to indulge, to enjoy these comforts ? And can this be done without meditating upon our good actions?

I answer, that this can be done without meditating upon our good actions. We need not seek the comforts of religion in this way. Much we need not seek them at all; they will visit us of their own accord, if we be serious and hearty in our

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religion. A well-spent life will impart its support to the spirits, . without any endeavour, on our part, to call up our me rits to our view, or even allowing the idea of merit to take possession of our minds. There will, in this respect, always be as much difference as there ought to be, between the righteous man and the sinner (or, to speak more properly, between sinners of different degrees,) without taking pains to draw forth in our recollection instances of our virtue, or to institute a comparison between ourselves and others, or certain others of our acquaintance. These are habits, which I hold to be unchristian and wrong ; and that the true

; way of finding and feeling the consolations of religion, is by progressively conquering our sins. Think of these ; contend with these ; and, if you contend with sincerity, and with effect, which is the proof indeed of sincerity, I will answer for the comforts of religion being your portion. What is it that disturbs our religious tranquillity ? What is it that 'embitters or impairs our religious comfort, damps and checks our religious hopes, hinders us from

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Joy in

relishing and entertaining these ideas, from turning to them, as a supply of consolation under all circumstances ?,-- What is it but our sins ? Depend upon it, that it is sin, and nothing else, which spoils our religious comfort. Cleanse your heart from sin, and religion will enter in, with all her train of hopes and consolations. For proof of this, we may, as before, refer to the examples of Scripture Christians. They rejoiced in the Lord, continually. 5 The joy of faith,” Phil. i. 25. : the Holy Ghost,” Rom. xiv. 17, was the word in their mouths, the sentiment of their hearts. They spake of their religion as of a strong consolation, as of the “refuge, to which they had'i fled, as of the hope of which they had laid bold, of an anchor of the sout sure and stedfast:" Heb. vi. 18, 19. Their promise from the Lord Jesus Christ was, “ your heart shall rejoice, and your joy. no man taketh from you :” John, xvi. 22.3 Was this promise fulfilled to them ? read Acts, xiii. 52. :“. They were filled with joy and the Holy Ghost.” “ The

66 kingdom of God,” saith Saint Paul, “is joy in the Holy Ghost :” Rom. xiv. 17. So


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that Saint Paul, you hear, takes his very description and definition of Christianity from the joy which is diffused over the heart; and Saint Paul, I am very confident, described nothing but what he felt. Yet Saint Paul did not meditate upon his vir

. tues; nay, expressly renounced that sort of meditation. His meditations, on the contrary, were fixed

his own unworthiness, and upon the exceeding stupendous ' mercy of God towards him, through Jesus Christ his Saviour : at least, we have his own authority for saying, that, in his Christian progress, he never looked back; he forgot. that which was behind, whatever it might be, which he had already attained; he refused to remember it, he put it out of his thoughts. Yet, upon this topic of religious joy, hear him again:“ we joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ ;” Rom. v. 11, and once more, “ the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace :” Gal. v. 22. These last are three memorable words, and they describe not the effects of ruminating upon a man's own virtues, but the fruit of the Spirit.


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