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LXX. No respect of persons with God.
ROMANS II. 11.-For there is no respect of persons with
LXXV. The nativity of our Lord, tidings of great joy.
LUKE 11. 10.-And the angel said unto them, Fear not:
SUMMARY OF SERMON LXIV.
ROMANS, CHAP. XII.-VERSE 17.
MEN are too often afraid or ashamed of religious practice, whilst profaneness and wickedness grow outrageously bold. It is thought wisdom to compound with God, and conform to the world. Such proceeding shown to be built on very fallacious, absurd, and inconsistent grounds; whereby men abuse themselves, and would impose on others; it being the worst sort of hypocrisy, of vain-glory, of courage, &c.: such practice is particularly prejudicial to religion and virtue. The words of the text imply a precept of very large extent, touching all that part of our duty which is public and visible; for which we are accountable to the world; whereof man can take cognisance.
Its meaning and design first considered; which is, that we should have a special care of our external demeanor and conversation; so that it be exempted from any offence or blame; yea, rather that it be comely and commendable. The terms in which this duty is expressed are notably emphatical; we are directed πporoeix, to provide, to use a providence and forecast in the case; to deliberate ere we undertake any design; to consider who will be our spectators, and what influence our acts may have on their opinions: we are to provide; what
things? kaλà, things fair and handsome, not only good, innocent, and inoffensive, but things pleasant and acceptable to well-disposed beholders: this point enlarged on.
But in this practice, to avoid misapprehensions we must distinguish for it is not required that we should do all things openly, nor intended that we should do any thing vainly; but that we should act according to the nature and reason of things, with upright and pure intention; for the Apostle does not recommend us to imitate the Pharisees, who were reproved by our Lord for doing their alms before men, &c. out of vanity, and merely to procure their good opinion and praise.
No; in some cases we must be reserved, and keep our virtue close to ourselves; and always, under a fair show, there must be a real substance of good, together with an honest intention of heart.
Join the precept with others duly limiting it, and it imports that, with pure sincerity and simplicity, we should on all occasions discharge that part of our duty which is public, according to its nature and exigency, not abstaining from good deeds which cannot otherwise than openly be well performed, whose conspicuous performance is serviceable to the glory of God, and to the edification of our neighbors, &c.
There are indeed some duties, or works of piety and virtue, the nature of which directs that they should be private: these specified.
There are divers other duties, the discharge of which is necessarily open and visible: these specified.
Such also are divers positive duties; as the profession of our faith in God, and in his Revelation-the joining in public adoration of him-zeal in vindication of his honor, &c.—justice, equity, and ingenuousness in our dealings-gravity and modesty in our behavior-seasonable defence of truth, and opposition to Such things must be practised, as indispensable duties; but they cannot be done out of sight, &c. In the practice of