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sweetness, soberness, aptness to profit and edify the hearers in our discourse; moderation and temperance in our corporeal enjoyments; industry in our business and the works of our calling; integrity in the management of any office or trust committed to us; a constant practice of which virtues is not only enjoined to us as our particular duty, but for public example.
Such are seasonable defence of the truth, and opposing of error; the commendation of virtue, and reprehension of notorious sin, with the like.
Such things must be practised, because indispensable duties; but they cannot be done out of sight, or barring the observation of men; they do involve publicness; they carry a light and lustre with them, attracting all eyes to regard them; it is as impossible to conceal them as to hide the sun from all the world, or to conceal a city that is set on a hill ;' for • nothing,' as St. Chrysostom saith, doth render a man so illustrious, although he ten thousand times would be hid, as an open practice of virtue.'*
Wherefore the works of mercy,' saith St. Austin, the affection of charity, the sanctity of godliness, the incorruptness of chastity, the moderation of sobriety, these are perpetually to be held, whether we are in the public or at home; whether before men or in the closet, whether we speak or keep silence.t
In the practice of them, it is true, we mainly should respect the approving our conscience to God, with expectation of our recompense from him; not being much concerned in the judgment or pleasure of men, purely considered in themselves; not aiming at any interest of credit or profit from them as a reward of our work; “We ought,' as St. Austin saith, while we do good, “to be seen, but we ought not to do it that we may be seen; the end of our joy, the bound of our comfort, should not be there ; so that we should think ourselves to have obtained the whole fruit of a good work, when we have been seen and commended:' No, whatever we do, we should, as the Apostle directeth, do it as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; doing it heartily as to the Lord, and not
• Chrys. in Matt. v. 16.
† Aug. in Ep. 1. Joh. Tract. 8.
unto men; knowing that of the Lord we shall receive the reward of the inheritance.'
Yet nothing in the mean time should hinder us from performing such necessary duties; strictly and exactly, with our most diligent care and endeavor, even in that light which their nature doth carry in it.
How much soever of our virtue or piety out of humility or modesty we may conceal, yet we must be careful of discovering any vice or irreligion, either by notoriously committing any thing forbidden by God, or omitting any thing commanded by him.
This we should not do on any terms, on any pretence whatever; no wicked fashion should engage us, no bad example should inveigle us, po favor of men should allure us, no terror should scare us thereto; we should not out of fear, out of shame, out of complaisance, out of affected prudence or politic design; out of deference to the quality, dignity, or authority of any person ; out of regard to any man's desire or pleasure; we should not to decline offence, envy, blame, reproach, ill treatment, or on any such account, comply in any sinful
practice, wave any duty, neglect any season of performing a good deed, whereby we may glorify God, or edify our neighbor, or promote the welfare of our own soul.
To such a practice, according to the intent of St. Paul's injunction, we are obliged; and thereto we may be induced by divers considerations, particularly by those which we shall now propose.
1. We may consider that the public is the proper, natural, and due place of goodness; it should dwell in the light, it should walk freely and boldly everywhere, it should expose itself to open view, that it may receive from rational creatures its due approbation, respect, and praise; it by publicness is advanced, and the more it doth appear, the more beautiful, the more pleasant, the more useful it is; yielding the fairer lustre, the greater influence, the better effects; thereby diffusing and propagating itself, becoming exemplary, instructive, and admonitive; drawing lovers and admirers to it; exciting and encouraging men to embrace it: wherefore it is
absurd that it should skulk or sneak; it is a great damage to the public, that it should retire from common notice.
On the other hand, it is proper for wickedness never to appear or to show its head in view; it should be confined to darkness and solitude, under guard of its natural keepers, shame and fear; it should be exterminated from all conversation among rational creatures, and banished to the infernal shades : publicness doth augment and aggravate it; the more it is seen, the more ugly, the more loathsome, the more noxious it is ; its odious shape being disclosed, its noisome steams being dispersed, its pestilent effects being conveyed thereby.
Wherefore to smother virtue (that fair child of light) in privacy, and to vent sin (“the works of darkness') openly, is quite to transplace things out of their natural situation and order ; according to which we are taught by our Lord, that he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may
be manifest;' and by St. Paul, that every one who doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh he to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved :' so indeed it is, and will be, where conscience retaineth its due sway and force; where a due respect and reverence are preserved for goodness.
As that any good cometh from detection of sin is an accidental advantage ; so that any mischief doth ever follow the manifestation of virtue is an unnatural abuse; the which may well be prevented : there can be no danger of acting any good most evidently, if we do withal act sincerely, having purified our hearts from dishonest intention and from ambitious vanity; the fear of which should not wholly drive virtue under the hatches and bring vice on the stage. But,
2. We should consider that we cannot really in any competent or tolerable measure be good men, without approving ourselves such in our conversation before men.
Whatever may be pretended, it commonly doth happen, and it ever is to be suspected, that the invisible piety which is not accompanied with visible conscientiousness is false, or is no piety at all; or that they who have little care and conscience to serve God publicly have much less to serve him privately ; or that such as betray a scandalous negligence of their ways will hardly maintain a careful watch over their hearts; for the same causes (be it profane infidelity, or looseness of principles, or supine incogitancy, or sloth, or stupidity) which dispose
them to disregard God and his laws before the world, more effectually will incline them to neglect God and forget their duty by themselves, where beside their own conscience there is no witness, no judge, no censor to encourage or reproach them. But admit it possible, and put case, that sometimes the heart and conversation may not run parallel; that a man may better govern his interior thoughts and affections than he doth manage his exterior behavior and actions; that a man secretly may cleave to God, although he seemeth openly to desert him; yet this will not suffice to constitute or denominate a man good; because much of goodness, as we have showed, even the nobler half thereof, (that part whereby God is most glorified, and whereby the world is most benefited,) doth lie in open and visible practice; that virtue therefore must be very imperfect, that obedience must be very lame, which is deficient in so great a part.
As there can be no fair pretence to goodness, where so little thereof is conspicuous ; so there can be no real integrity thereof, where so much of duty is wanting.
Our Lord hath taught us that every tree is known by its fruit;' and St. James saith, that · faith is showed by works;' and so it is, that a man can hardly be good in any reasonable degree without appearing such. Impiety may, but piety cannot be quite concealed. As gold may be counterfeited, (for all is not gold that glistereth,) yet true gold always doth look like gold; so although bad men sometimes may seem good, yet good men also must seem such, appearing in their own native temper and lustre.
Goodness cannot be disguised in the shape of evil, because simplicity and innocence are essential ingredients of it; any mixture of notorious sin, any visible neglect of duty assuring (yea formally making) a want of it, or a real defect therein : it may be daubed with false aspersions, it may be dimmed by the breath of unjust and uncharitable censures; but wiping them off, its natural hue certainly will appear.
Wherefore if we would satisfy ourselves in our own consciences, or justify ourselves to others, that we are truly good, we must (without partiality, or distinguishing between public and private) like the holy psalmist,“ have respect unto all God's commandments;' we, like Zachary and Elizabeth, must' walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless;' we must, like David, 'accomplish all God's wills ;' we must observe St. Paul's rule, to abstain, and havròs eidous rovnpoū, from both every kind of evil, and every bad appearance. But farther,
3. A great care of our good behavior before men is necessary in regard to Almighty God; whose just interest is preserved, whose due homage is payed, whose honor is promoted thereby : the same being greatly prejudiced and impaired by the contrary defailance.
It is a clear point of justice toward God, as to render all obedience to him, so particularly that which consisteth in an open acknowlegement and service of him ; for as he made and doth preserve not only the heart, but the tongue, the members, the whole man, so all must concur in rendering their tribute of reverence and service to him.
The Apostle doth prescribe that whatever we do, we should do all to the glory of God;' and well he might, seeing that to glorify God is indeed to execute the main design of our creation, to apply our faculties to their best use, to achieve the most proper and most excellent work whereof we are capable ; to do that which is the worthiest and happiest employment of angels, which all the company of heaven, with most ardent desire, with most zealous ambition, with restless endeavor, doth pursue; and this we cannot better, we cannot otherwise do, than by an apparent good conversation. For,
He that apparently in all his actions maketh conscience of obeying God's laws, thereby doth evidence his firm persuasion concerning the existence and providence of God; doth adhere to him against all adversaries of piety, and all temptations to rebellion ; doth avow his sovereign majesty and authority; doth yield him due veneration and obedience; doth show right apprehensions of him, and just affections towards him; implying that he doth most highly esteem him, doth most heartily love him, doth chiefly dread him, doth repose his trust and hope in him for all bis happiness; hath a great opinion of his wisdom, a great awe of bis power, a great sense of his goodness ; the which practice is in itself a direct and formal glorification of God, in his own person.