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Serm. Necessity of being in the wrong, and has XIII. been himself the Cause of his erroneous Con
science by refusing to use proper Means of getting it rightly inform’d. Therefore, for a Man to do a Thing contrary to the Will of God, when, if he had made use of proper Means, he might have prevented it, and then to cry out, He has acted according to his Conscience, and to think that that will be an Excuse for him, is very absurd and sinful ; because, if he had us'd his Endeavour, his Conscience would not have directed him to the doing of it, but quite the contrary. What a dismal Condition then must a Man be in who has brought himself to a Necessity of sinning do what he will, whether he acts according to his Conscience or against it! And this, by the way, is one fad Effect of neglecting to inform our Consciences aright; whereas he who does
his Endeavour to get the best Knowledge · and Information he can, and after all his
Care cannot get rid of his Error, will be sure always to find this Satisfaction, that he has done what he can to find out the Truth, and tho' he is still in an Error, yet he is sure it is not a wilful one, and therefore a good God will not punish him for it. Now, in order to help our Consciences to a true
Knowledge of things, we should take care SEạm. to keep them clear from Scruples; tor how- XILI. ever fome may flatter themselves with a too good Opinion of a scrupulous Conscience, and faney themselves the better Christians for having such a one, yet it is certainly an Argument of a weak Mind. : And here a Man ought to use his utmost Care and Dia ligence in this Matter, because without it his Scruples will remain, and the Fault will · lie at his own Door. He should examine; whether these Seruples are not owing to Prejudice, or are cherish'd by an idle Hu. mour of raising Scruples purely for the Sake of doing so; for these are not Scruples of Conscience, but downright Hypocrisy. Indeed one Man is not to be tied up to the Conscience of another, but then it is his Duty to keep his own as clear as he can for tho' one Man may differ from another, yet every one must be persuaded of the Lawfulness or Unlawfulness of what he does, as much as he can. One Man esteemeth one Day above another, (says St Paul) another esteemeth every Day alike; but then (sayg he) let every Man be fully persuaded in his own Mind. But if a Man can’t cònquer his Scruples, tho' he's much to be pity'd for it, yet he must so far overcome them as in Oo
Serm. to make them give way to all positive Laws XIII. of God, or the lawful Commands of his
Superiors; for when a Man is convinc'd in general of his Duty in these Cases on the one Side, and has however a few Scruples; which will not on the other Side prove the contrary, if he does not incline to that Side that has the greatest Evidence, he makes his Huniour the Rule of his Adions, than which nothing can be more absurd. Besides, 'tis a Rule allow'd of in all Cafes, that to Demonstration on one Side, there ought not to be oppos'd any Difficulties on the other. But,
. Secondly, After we have done what we can to know our Duty, we must be sure to be as diligent in the Practice of it ; and the great Motive for doing so is, as St Paul tells us, a Belief of the Refurrection ; for this will teach us to lead good Lives here, that we may be happy hereafter. The Knowledge of our Duty, without the Practice of it, is of no Ufe, unless it be to make the Omission and Neglect of it the more sinful ; but both together argue a good Conscience, and make a Man perfect and compleat, as far as he can be fo in this Life,
To conclude. A good Conscience will Sermo be always our best friend, and notwith- XIII. standing any Troubles or Misfortunes that may befall us at present, we may be sure That will bring us Peace at the last. Mark the perfect Man, (says David) and behold the Upright, for the End of that Man is Peace.
Now to God the Father, Son, and Holy
Ghoft, be afcribed (as is most due) all.
.... 2 T I M. įv. 7, 8.
have finished my Caurse, I have
Jhall give me at that Day. Serm. SENZ$242 T. Paul being well assured that XIV. s he was about to put off this SPSPiS earthly Tabernacle, and that the
Time of his Departure drew nigh, was not at all uneasy under the Apprehensions of it ; but, having the Testimony of a good Conscience on his Side, declared his well-grounded Hope and Conhdence in God, and, like a victorious Soldier of Christ, went off a Conqueror.