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the several Parties amongst us, there is none of them that seem to have so much as heard, whether there be such a Virtue in the World; as plainly appeareth by their Practices, and especially when they are placed in those Stations where they can only have Opportunity ‘of shewing it. Lastly, the most considerable among the Heathens, did generally believe Rewards and Punishments in a Life to come, which is the great Principle for Conscience. to work upon ; whereas, too many of those who would be thought the most considerable among us do, both by their Practices and their Dił courses, plainly affirm, that they believe nothing at all of the Matter.
Wherefore, since it hath manifestly appeared, that a religious Conscience is the only true solid Foundation upon which Virtue can be. built, give me Leave, before I conclude, to. let you see how necessary such a Conscience is, to conduct us in every Station and Condition of our Lives.
That a religious Conscience is necessary in any Station, is confessed, even by those who tell us, that all Religion was invented by cunning Men, in order to keep the World in Awe. For, if Religion, by the Confession of its Adversaries, be necessary towards the well-governing of Mankind, then every wise Man in Power will be sure, not only to chuse out for every Station under him such Persons as are most likely to be kept in Awe by Religion,
but likewise to carry fome Appearance of it himself, or else he is a very weak Politician : And accordingly, in any Country where great Persons affect to be open Despisers of Religion, their Counfels will be found at last to be fully as destructive to the State as the Church.
It was the Advice of Fethro to his Son-ina Law Moses, to provide able Men, such as fear. God, Men of Truth, hating Covetousness, and to place such over the People ; and Moses, who was as wise a Statesman, at least, as any in this Age, thought fit to follow that Advice Great Abilities, without the Fear of God, are most dangerous Instruments, when they are trusted with Power. The Laws of Man have thought . fit, that thofe who are called to: any Office of Trust, fhould be bound by an Oath to the faithful Discharge of it; but an Oath is an Appeal to God, and therefore can have no Influence, except upon those who believe that he IS, and that he is a Rewarder of those that feek him, and a Punisher of those who disobey. him : And therefore, we see, the Laws thema felves are forced to have Recourse to Conscience in those Cases, because their Penalties cannot reach the Arts of cunning Men, who can find Ways to be guilty of a thousand Injustices, without being discovered, or at least without being punished. And the Reason why we find so many Frauds, Abuses, and Corruptions, where any Trust is conferred, can be no other than that there is so little
Conscience and Religion left in the World, or at least that Men in their Choice of Inftruments have private Ends in View, which are very different from the Service of the Publick. Besides, it is certain, that Men who profess to have no Religion, are full as zealous to bring over Profelytes, ás any Papist or Fanatick can be; and therefore, if those who are in Station high enough to be of Influence or Example to others ; if those, I say, openly profess a Contempt or Disbelief of Religion, they will be fure to make all their Dependents of their own Principles; and what Security can the Publick expect from such Persons, whenever their Interests or their Lusts come into Competition with their Duty? It is very possible for a Man who has the Appearance of Religion, and a great Pretender to Conscience, to be wicked, and an Hypocrite ; but it is impossible for a Man, who openly declareth against Rex ligion, to give any reasonable Security that he will not be false, and cruel, and corrupt, whenever a Temptation offereth, which he valueth more than he doth the Power wherewith he was trusted. And, if such a Man doth not betray his Cause and his Master, it was only because the Temptation was not properly offered, or the Profit was too small, or The Danger too great, And hence it is, that .we find so little Truth or Justice among us; because there are so very few, who either in the Service of the Publick, or in common
Dealings with each other, do ever look fara ther than their own Advantage, and how to guard themselves against the Laws of the Country; which a Man may do by Favour, by Secrecy, or by Cunning, although he breaketh almost every Law of God.
Therefore to conclude : It plainly appears, that unless Men are guided by the Advice and Judgment of a Conscience founded on Religion, they can give no Security that they will be either good Subjects, faithful Servants of the Publick, or honeft in their mutual Dealings; since there is no other Tie through which the Pride, or Luft, or Avarice, or Ambition of Mankind will not certainly break one Time or other.
Consider what hath been said, &c.
T RI Ν Ι Τ Υ.
1 Epist. Gen. of St. John, V. 7. For there are Three that bear Record in Heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these Three are One.
T HIS Day being set apart to acknowledge
our Belief in the Eternal TRINITY, I thought it might be proper to employ my prefent Discourse entirely upon that Subject; and, I hope, to handle it in such a Manner, that the most ignorant among you, may return home better informed of your Duty in this great Point, than probably you are at present.
It must be confessed, that by the Weakness and Indiscretion of busy (or, at best, of wellmeaning) People, as well as by the Malice of those who are Enemies to all Revealed Reliģion, and are not content to possess their own Infidelity in Silence, without communicating it to the Disturbance of Mankind; I say, by these Means, it must be confessed, that the Doctrine of the Trinity hath suffered very