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Prejudices, and secret Subterfuges; and lastly, to inforce them with a becoming Earnestness, and with all the prudent Ways of Insinuation and Address. A Person must have some Knowledge of Men, besides That of Books, to succeed well here; and must have a kind of
praEtical Sagacity (which nothing but the Grace of God, joined with Recollection and wife Observation, can bring) to be able to represent Christian Truths to the Life, or to any considerable degree of Advantage.
As to the Subject here made Choice of, it is the highest and the noblest that could be, viz. our Lord's Divine Sermon on the Mount: And as it is here explained with good Judgment, so it appears likewise to be pressed with due Force; in a clear and easy, but yet masculine Style, equally fitted to the Capacities of common Christians, and to the improved Understandings of the knowing and judicious. One peculiar Commendation must, I believe, be allowed to our Author, that he happily hit upon a new Key (which Divines before him had not thought on) for the fuller opening the Occasion, the Views, the retired
Meaning and Connexion of our Lord's Divine Sermon. Not that the Thought, with Respect to the Jewish Expectations of a Temporal Kingdom, was at all new : But the Application of it to this Case, and the Use made of it for the unravelling fome of the darker Parts of our Lord's Discourse, and the clearing their Coherence; That was new, and appears to be of excellent Service: Particularly, in the
Eight Beatitudes, (for the setting every one of them upon a distinęt Foot; and not running several of them, too confufedly, one into another) as also in several other Texts.
But to return; our Author has, in my Opinion, very aptly joined the Commentator, Preacher and Casuist all in one: And I cannot but approve the Example he has himself given, and the Model which he has so handsomly recommended others, for the Composition of Sermons. It is extremely proper, that the Text and the Sermon should not appear as Strangers to each other, but rather
4. In his Dedicaiion to Bishop Robinson, and his Preface.
as near Kindred, discovering the same
Handle for a neat Transition may pru1 dently and properly be taken. But i
cannot say any thing better, or so well
One Particular I cannot forbear to take
the Result of deep Consideration, and dif1 covering a great Compass of Thought. I
shall single out a few Instances only,
Of the Value of good Works: " I am apprehensive, that by our un
wary Confutation of the Popish Errors « concerning Merit and Supererogation, “ we have too much depreciated good “ Works themselves: Whereas it is most “ certain, they ought to be highly had « in Estimation ; not only as the genu“ ine Signs and Fruits of a lively Faith, but
as necessary Conditions of Salvation; « and not only of Salvation, but of our " Growth in Grace, and of our Advance“ ment to higher Degrees of Glory. Here, very briefly, and justly, is pointed out a dangerous Extreme, with the Rise and Occasion of it, and the proper Cure for it, or Correction of it.
For the justifying the Term Conditions, the Reader, who has any Scruple, may consult Bishop Bull in his Harmonia, &c. and Bishop Stilling fleet in his Answers to Mr. Lobb. Our Author fays That and more, improving and enforcing the same Thought with two very pertinent and weighty Considerations.
a Vol. I. Sermon xxi. p. 374.
What makes a good Work. « To make any Work a good Work, it " must be 1. Lawful in itself. 2. Suit“ able to our Station and Circumstances “ in the World. 3. Designed for promo
ting something that is good for the Ser“ vice of God, for the good of our Neigh« bour, or the Salvation of our own Souls.
4. Something within the Reach of our ” own Talents and Abilities. If it wants
any of these Conditions, it cannot be one s of those good Works meant in my Text.* He
goes on to explain the several Particulars at large, in a very clear and just Manner. A good Work might have been more briefly defined: but it could not have been more wisely, or more distinctly guarded against every Evasion and Illusion of Self-flattery; whereby many are persuaded that they are doing good Works, while they are really doing Works of Darkness.
: Vol. I. Serm. XXXI. P. 506.