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SEuwdone with some View or other , : either* V' upon a Good Principle or a Bad one. For when we speak of man's having M> Principles at all, the Meaning is only fhat they have No Good Principles; and that they act entirely upon this One /'// Principle, of thinking themselves at Liberty from all Obligation to Regard the Essential Differences of Good and Evil. Every Action (I lay) of a rational Creature, every such action as has any thing, of Morality or Immorality in it, must of necessity be done with Some View or other,either upon a Good Principle or a Bad one. Now if Men's Principles were necessarily implanted in their Nature, and their ABions by a like natural Necesfity followed from their Principlesthe Consequence then indeed would be, that Men had no Power at all over their Own Actions, and consequently could be no way .accountable for what they do. But the Truth, plainly is This. As the Eye, or the Faculty of Seeing, is not at all formed by the Power of Many and the Light, which is the Objeft of Sight, is likewise what God has made it, and has no dependence on Man's Wiil or Pleasure ; and

therefore therefore Men are not answerable for ha-Se R M. ving better or worse Organs of Sense, or for having more or less Light, but only for . .1 the Use os Those Eyes and of That Light wliich they have: So, with regard to the Mind likewise, both the int:rnal Capacity of Understanding-, and the external Means of. Information, are what God pleases to bestow on every Man, and have no dependence on the person's own Willj And therefore no Man is answerable for having a larger or smaller Capacity* or for having more or fewer Means of Information: But he is accountable for the Use of That degree. of Understanding, and for the Use or Abuse of Those Means of Knowledge, whatsoever they be, which God has thought fit to afford him. A Man may Jhut his Eyes, and may chuse Darkness rather than Light: Or he may, through Wilfulness or Passion, chuse to follow a False Light instead of a True one, an imaginary SpeSlre instead of a Reality: Or he may put out his Eyes, and bring him-' self under a sort of necessity of blindly following Some Guide, who (as it hap. pens) may equally lead him in the Right Way or in a Wrong one. A Man may by Vol. III. I Negli

S £ R M. Negligence, or by Wilfulness, or by Love v. of Vice, or by Any customary and habitual

*">rv"NJ /'// Practice, pervert or blind his own Understanding. He may, by rejecting the Means of discovering the Truth, through his own Fault, and not through Want of Capacity, form to himself /// Principles instead of Good ones. Or, if he has never so good Principles, yet, as seeing the Way is not necessarily -walking in it, he may suffer himself to be Tempted to act: against his Principles, to act against the Reason of his own Mind, as well as against: the Reason and Truth of Thing*. Men therefore have a Power over their own Actions, notwithstanding all the Influence of That Light or Understanding, by which they are to bi direcled. Nevertheless; since, generally speaking, such as Men's Principles are, such will be Their A&iotis; and He whose Conduct is directed by settled ill Principles, will much more constantly, and in much greater Instancest and with Effects of much higher Malignity, do what is Wrong j than He who, having virtuous and good Principles, yet in particular Cafes fails of keeping up to them in Practise j 'tis hence obvious,


III. In the third place, to observe, ofSEr'M. what Consequence it is in matters of Religi- ^on, that Men fail not in this first and grandt-rv>J Foundation j in the Root, the Spring, the univerfal Guide and Dire&er of their Actions: take heed, that the Light ubich is in thee, be not Darkness. If a Man has the Best Principles that can be: If he be firmly perfwaded in his own Mind, of the essential Difference of Good and Evil, of God's Government of the World, and of a Judgment to come: If he has right Notions of the true Nature of Religion, that it consists in living soberly, righteousy and godly, under the Inspection of a righteous and all-seeing Judge: Still, such is the Deceitfulness of Sin ; so many are the Temptations and Allurements of the World j fo blind are the Appetites, so strong the Passions of Men; that nothing is more common, than to fee even these best of Principles over-ruled, and the Force of them defeated, by the Strength and Prevalency of different Temptations. How much more, when Men's Principles themselves are consilient with Wjck.edr.efc, must it be expected that Degeneracy of Manners will prevail! and still more, if I 2 their

Serm.their Principles be not only consistent with Vice, but such as moreover direSlly lead ^r^>° them, and even lay the Obligations of Conscience upon them, to unrighteous Practices! If the Salt itself has lost its Savour, wherewith shall things be seasoned^ And if the Light itself, which it in thee, be Darkness; how great is That Darkness t To instance in Particulars. If a Man's Religion consists chiefly, in a confident Presumption of his own unconditionate Predestination; will not This naturally lead him to be stiff' and censorious, and to have too little Care of his Moral and Equitable Behaviour towards all Men? If a man can perfwade himself that a strong Credulity\ or an imaginary Belief of unintelligible Notions, can be truly acceptable in the Sight of God; has not This an obvious and evident Tendency, to make him pride himself in the pretended Rightnefs of his Faith; and , despise, the real Virtues, of Impartiality, Equity, and Love of Truth? If Another can prevail with himself to believe, that after a visions and immoral Life, he may at last upon a Bed of Sickness, by the Absolution os the Priest\ or by the Sacraments

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