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SERM, cometh to the light, that his deeds may be manifest; LXIV.
and by St. Paul, that every one who doeth evil hateth Eph. v. 13. 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 upon 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 invi. sible 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 SERM. own conscience there is no witness, no judge, no
LXIV. 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 behaviour 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 shewed, 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 Jam. ii. 10. 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 Luke vi. 44. by its fruit; and St. James saith, that faith is shewed 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
Jam. ii. 18. τα τα θελή
ματά μου. .
SERM. neglect of duty assuring (yea formally making) a LXIV.
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 (Num. xv. holy Psalmist, have respect unto all God's comPs. cxix.6. mandments; we, like Zachary and Elizabeth, must Tlotiv sáv- walk in all the commandments and ordinances of
the Lord blameless; we must, like David, accomActs xiii. plish all God's wills; we must observe St. Paul's 1 Thess . v. rule, to abstain anò havtos cadous troumpoũ, from both every kind of evil, and
appearance. But further,
3. A great care of our good behaviour before men is necessary in regard to Almighty God; whose just interest is preserved, whose due homage is payed, whose honour 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 acknowledgment and service of him ; for as he made and doth preserve not only
the heart, but the tongue, the members, the whole Rom. xii. 1. 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
1 Cor. x. 31.
the main design of our creation, to apply our faculties SERM. to their best use, to achieve the most proper and LXIV. 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 endeavour, 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 shew 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 his happiness; hath a great opinion of his wisdom, a great awe of his power, a great sense of his goodness; the which practice is in itself a direct and formal glorification of God, in his own person.
He also thereby doth further promote the glory of God, instructing, exciting, and encouraging others to the like practice of deferring respect and service to God; for naturally men have such a capacity, such aptitude, such proclivity to religion, (or to the acknowledgment and worship of their Maker,) that when they behold others seriously and earnestly pursuing it, they are easily drawn to conspire therein ; especially those who are not utterly perverted and corrupted by ill custom.
SERM. And whereas good conversation hath a native LXIV.
beauty, affecting beholders with delight; whereas 'Aperñs äo- the fruits of virtue have a pleasing sweetness, grateκησις τίμιον piv urīnca ful to all who taste them; men from that sight and nderov di oi-that sense will presently be moved to commend επιτυγχά
the wisdom, and to bless the goodness of him who
was pleased to institute so excellent a religion, to Bas. Ep.42.
enact so beneficial laws, to prescribe so wholesome "Orav gågü- duties to us : for when, saith the most divine Father, Chrys
. Avšean infidel shall see thee, a believer, to be Kategtahué6. (p. 524.)
vorstaunch, sober, orderly, he will be astond, and will say, In truth, great is the God of Christians : What men hath he made! what persons out of what persons hath he made them! how from men hath he made them angels! If one abuse them, they do not rail; if one smite them, they do not resent; if one injure them, they pray for him that doeth the offence; they know not to remember ill turns, they skill not to be vain, they have not learnt to lie, they cannot abide to forswear, or rather to swear at all, but sooner would choose to have their tongue cut out, than to let an oath slip out of their mouth.
So may we really glorify God; and otherwise than by open practice we cannot do it; for glory doth require a public stage; it implying, as Seneca saith, the consent of many worthy persons declaring their esteem; it being, as Cicero defineth it, the agreeing praise of good men, with an incorrupted vote judging well of an excellent virtuee.
e Gloria consensum multorum exigit—Consentire in boc plures insignes et præstantes viri debent, ut claritas sit. Sen. Ep.