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serving and establishing their prosperity. SERM.. These are instances, than which, if we III. take in all circumstances, none ever were, or can be, more great and heroical ; and had they been found among the old Greeks or Romans, they would have been celebrated with the most labour'd and magnificent encomiums. But when men set themselves to magnify the powers of reason, and run down revelation, every thing, in the latter, has a low and invidious turn given to it; the most godlike virtues lose their lustre; and the most exalted scheme of morality is debas’d and vilified; as in the case we have been considering, Christianity is represented as being defective for what is its chief excel. lency, and renders it vastly preferable to any system of moral philosophy, or any institution of religion, that ever appeared in the world.
Let us then be persuaded to cultivate, to the utmost, disinterested and universal benevolence; for what is the perfection of our religion must also be the rectitude and honour of our nature.--Let our constant aim be the
Vol, I. F
Serm. good of mankind.--Let us enlarge our
minds, daily, from little narrow prejum e dices, that all our private pleasures, our
friendships, our regards to our country,
SERMON IV. Of the image of God in man; or the excellency of human nature.
GEN. i. ver. 7. the former part.
image, in the image of God
AVALES HERE is no part of know-Serm,
ledge more considerable than IV. E a right knowledge of human
nature: It is of the utmost importance towards the regular conduct of life, and all the errors of mankind in point of morality, i. e. the most fatal errors that reasonable creatures can be guilty of, are certainly owing to their F 2 .
Serm," not understanding, or not seriously conIV. fidering, their own frame and constitu
tion: And yet it may well be wonder'd at, that men should be such great strangers to the design of their own nature, and of all the objects of knowledge, know the least of themselves ; of themselves, I say, whom they are fond of even to excess, and whose welfare they neceffarily desire, but while they continue in this state of ignorance cannot pursue : For unless we examine into our own make, and consider the powers and capacities wherewith we are endued, and the ends which the great Author of our being design'd us for, 'tis impossible we Thould understand our duty, or our happiness.
Indeed, human nature has been represented in fo base, disagreeable, and monstrous a form, that the contemplation of it must needs be frightful and shocking to a generous mind; as having lost its noble powers of reason and liberty, and being the seat of nothing but irregular, impure, and mischievous passions ; as incapable of any thing that is good and vir
tuous, and prone to all manner of viceSerm. and wickedness.--And if this were true, IV. who could take any fatisfaction in looking into himself, when he must behold such a hideous pi&ture of deformity ?--But, thanks be to God, the honour of our nature may be easily vindicated from such unjust reproaches, as will, I hope, evidently appear from the ensuing difcourse ; and, besides, such an account of it is, in its direct consequences, of the utmost prejudice to the interests of religion and morality: For as, on the one hand, a right sense of the dignity of human nature inspires great designs, leads to the most beneficent, generous, and godlike actions, and is a strong preservative from every thing that is vile and dishonourable ; so, on the other, when it is described as having nothing excellent or amiable in it, and as a complication of mean-spiritedness, ill-nature, ignorance and vice; and when, upon this foundation, injustice, cruelty, ingratitude, pride, revenge, and the worst of villanies are represented as natural to mankind; this has a manifest tendency to encourage their F 3