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Prov. ii. 17. Her ways are ways of pleafantness; and all ber paths are peace.
321 Serm. XIV. Religion founded on reason, and the right of private judgment.
JOSHUA xxiv. 15. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the
LORD, choose ye this day whom ye will serve, whether the Gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the Gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: But as for me, and my house, we will serve the LORD.
345 SERM. XV. The evidence of a future
state, on the principles of reason and revelation, distinctly considered.
2 Tim. i. 10. - Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
373 SERM. XVI. The nature, folly, and dan
ger of scoffing at religion.
2 Pet. ïïi. 3. Knowing this first, that there shall come
in the last days scoffers, walking after · their own lufts.
SERMON I. Of the universal sense of good and
Acts xxiv. 25.
temperance, and judgment to come,
ful and in
ANES HER E is nothing more use-SERM. m f ul and instructive than to 1. EE N acquaint ourselves with them de history of mankind, especially in their moral conduct: This gives us a true knowledge of human nature, of the various workings of its pafsions, and the principles by which it is influenced. And observations grounded on fast are certain
SERM. and indisputable ; whereas abstract specu1. lations may not only differ very much,
but are liable to be disputed, and more easily perplexed or evaded. Besides, a small piece of history affords a greater variety of incidents for the improvement of our minds, and the right conduct of life, than can be suggested, within the same compass, in the way of instruction and reasoning : This will more fully appear by considering the particular tranfaction between Paul and Felix, of which the text is a part.
Felix *, by the confeffion of Tacitus the Roman historian, governed the Jews in a very arbitrary manner, and committed
the grossest acts of oppression and tyranny. Joseph. And Drufilla his wife, without any good Ant. 1.xx. reason to justify a divorce, had left her C. 5.
former husband, and given herself to him; and consequently was an adulteress: When St. Paul, therefore, was sent for
* Claudius defunctis regibus, Judæam provinciam equitibus Romanis aut libertis permisit ; è quibus Antonius Felix, per omnem sævitiam ac libidinem, jus regium servili ingenio exercuit. Hiftor. lib. v. c. 9.
At non frater ejus cognomento Felix pari moderatione agebat, jam pridem Judææ impositus, & cuncta malefacta fibi impune ratus, tanta potentia subnixo. Annal. xii. 54.
to explain to them the nature of the Serm. Christian Religion, which was then new- I. ly published, and, upon that account, a matter of curiosity; and in discoursing on the morality of the gospel, which is the most important and essential part of it (as it must be of every revelation thao is really of divine original) took occasion to inculcate the eternal laws of justice, and the immutable obligations of temperance and chastity; the conscience of the governour was alarmed and terrified, and a sense of his crime, and dread of the righteous and awful judgment of God upon all such notorious offenders against the rules of righteousness and humanity, filled him with the utmost confusion. Druhlla indeed does not appear to have discovered any remorse ; perhaps she was, naturally, of a more hard, insenfible, unrelenting temper ; or confided in her Jewish privileges, and expected to be saved, as a daughter of Abraham, notwithstanding the immorality and wickedness of her life. However this be, as ’tis not my business to make conjectures, I shall proceed to consider what is directly related by the historian, viz. that, as
SERM. Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, : 1. and judgment to come, Felix trembled :
only premising, that the impression, which the Apostle's discourse made upon his mind, did not spring from any thing in his peculiar circumstances, but from the general frame of human nature, and principles that are common to all mankind ; and consequently that the moral reflections, naturally arising from it, must be of universal concern. And,
ist. We learn from this history, that there is, even in the worst of men, a natural conscience of good and evil, which in very few, if any, instances, is entirely extinguished. It may be darkned, perverted, and very much defaced, but is hardly ever quite obliterated and loft. There are certain seasons, which check the infolence of the passions, and dispose for gravity and consideration, in which it revives; and represents the malignity of irregular and vitious excesses in a clear and strong light.
Indeed the advocates for vice and lic centiousness have, sometimes, gone so far, as to represent all our notions of