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with a steady aim to promote the cause of true religion in the world, and to render mankind wiser, holier, and happier, by every means we can devise.

By a combination of these dispositions, and an habitual regard to every part of our conduct, according to the brief hints here given; avoiding extremes, rashness, harshness, and affected singularity; endeavouring to unite a courteous obliging behaviour with religious constancy and fortitude; and studying the proprieties of our several stations; we may, I apprehend, comply with our Lord's exhortation, and "let our light shine before men.”

III. We proceed then to consider the object which we ought to propose to ourselves in attending to these duties.

It has been hinted, that our light should shine "before men," and not at a distance from human society. They who quit the active scenes of life to which providence has called them, that they may cultivate piety in privacy and retirement, too much resemble such soldiers as decline the combat, and refuse to face danger or endure hardship in the service of their country. Some employments indeed are absolutely irreconcilable with a good conscience: but, when this is not the case, it is generally the believer's duty to "abide in his calling." Christianity suffices to teach every man, from the monarch to the slave, how to glorify God and serve his generation, by a diligent and self-denying performance of the duties belonging to his station. And this is the best method of exhibiting before men the nature and efficacy of that remedy, which God hath devised for the disorders of this evil world.


Our Lord, in this same sermon, warns his disciples not to do their "works to be seen of men :” yet here he requires them to "let their light so "shine before men that they may see their good "works." Our actions, however good in themselves, are corrupt in their principle, if they spring from vain-glory, or are made known with ostentation; as if we sought human applause. But, if we "abound in the fruits of righteousness," and


patiently continue in well doing," it will be impossible that our good works should be wholly concealed. Our Lord "went about doing good;" and he always shunned human observation in his constant exercise of beneficence, as far as his circumstances would admit of it: yet his love and power were undeniable, and "his fame spread "abroad" through the adjacent regions. Indeed almsgiving, prayer, and fasting, of which Christ spake afterwards, generally demand secrecy: but hypocrites especially seek glory by openly performing them: while the habitual tenour of a sober, righteous, and godly life, must be visible to those among whom we reside. Yet even here we ought to watch against every degree of ostentation. But there may be occasions, in which the honour of God and the edification of our brethren, may require us to make known even those parts of our conduct, which should in general be concealed. Thus Daniel opened his windows, and prayed three times a day, as a protest against the impious decree of Darius, or rather of his ministers; and the primitive Christians publicly sold their estates, to provide for the needy. And thus martyrs, in prison or at the stake, prayed singly in the most

open manner, though at other times accustomed to retire into a closet.

The object which we are instructed to propose to ourselves, in making our light" shine before "men," is this, "that they may glorify our Father "which is in heaven:" and our conduct may be regulated in most cases, by carefully examining how that end may be most effectually attained. So far from our good works conducing in any degree to our justification before God, even the gracious recompense, promised to the fruits of the Spirit in the hearts and lives of believers, is not so much as mentioned in the passage before us. Higher and nobler motives are exclusively proposed; motives in which self-love is allowed no gratification, except we can find pleasure in glorifying God and doing good to men.

The people of the world have in general a very unfavourable opinion of evangelical doctrines. "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish "foolishness;" and the plan of redemption seems to many of them irrational, inconsistent, and calculated to level all distinctions of character and capacity, and to militate against the interests of morality and science. They therefore commonly entertain a contempt for a man's understanding, when they discover that he has zealously embraced this religious system: and the disgusting conduct, or extravagant notions, of too many who profess these doctrines, confirm these fatal prejudices, and furnish them with anecdotes and objections with which to oppose the truth. But when a man soberly avows his belief of the gospel, and " is ready "to give a reason of the hope that is in him, with

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"meekness and fear;" when he discourses rationally on other subjects, and behaves with increasing propriety and consistency in all his various relations and engagements; the prejudices of observers gradually subside, and they begin to allow that his principles are not so intolerable as they once conceived them to be. Finding that, while he decidedly resolves "to obey God rather than man," he also is ready to serve or oblige others, when he can do it with a good conscience; and that his conduct, when most exactly scrutinized, appears to the greatest advantage; and feeling perhaps that their own interest and comfort have been materially advanced by the change: they are prepared to receive more favourably any hint he may drop concerning the salvation of Christ; to read a book that he earnestly recommends, or to give the preachers of the gospel an occasional hearing. Thus many are led to an acquaintance with the truths of Christianity in the most attractive manner; their aversion and contempt are almost imperceptibly removed; and one after another is brought to the knowledge of Christ, and faith in his blood. Then a new light is set up to shine before men, that others may see his good works also, and be won over to join in glorifying our God and Father.

The Lord alone, it is true, can open the understanding and change the heart: but he almost always uses means and instruments; and the pious example and zealous endeavours of Christians, as well as the preaching of the gospel, are blessed to the conversion of sinners. Every believer therefore should habitually design and endeavour to be useful in this manner, within his proper sphere;

and propose it to himself as the grand object of his future life, to which all other pursuits ought to be subordinated, and if possible rendered subservient. He should watch over his tempers, words, and actions; and endeavour to regulate them in such a manner, that they may give the utmost energy to his attempts to recommend the gospel to his family and acquaintance. It should be his constant aim to strengthen the hands of faithful ministers; and to shew in his own conduct, the reality, excellency, and beauty of pure religion, and its tendency to render men happy and useful.

When this is carefully and generally attended to, the number of real Christians will commonly be multiplied; the light of life will be more widely diffused; and the grain of mustard seed will become a large plant.

We cannot reflect seriously on this subject, without lamenting that there are but few Christians even in nations professing Christianity.— The man who hears an express command of Christ with contemptuous neglect, and habitually disobeys it, cannot reasonably expect to be thought his true disciple; yet who can deny that immense multitudes of professed Christians do thus treat the exhortation contained in the text?-Let none then be offended with us for distinguishing between true believers, and those who say to Christ, "Lord, Lord, but do not the things which he

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says:" for, as he will shortly come, and make a complete and final separation, it is of the utmost consequence to every one, that he learn his real character and condition, before the door of mercy and hope be for ever shut against him.

Let cach individual, therefore, seriously and

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