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duty and sin, that line you ought on no occasion to transgress.


Though there is no extreme in the reverence due to conscience, there may. undoubtedly be an extreme in laying too much stress, either on mere principle, or on mere practice. Here we must take particular care not to turn to the right hand nor to the left; but to hold faith and a good conscience united, as the Scripture, with great propriety, exhorts us.* error of resting wholly on faith, or wholly on works, is one of those seductions, which most easily mislead men; under the semblance of piety on the one hand, and of virtue on the other. This is not an error peculiar to our times. It has obtained in every age of the Christian Church. It has run through all the different modes of false religion. It forms the chief distinction of all the various sects which have divided, and which still continue to divide, the church; according as they have leaned most to the side of belief, or to the side of morality.

Did we listen candidly to the voice of Scripture, it would guard us against either extreme. The Apostle Paul every where testifies, that

1 Timothy, i. 19.

by no works of our own can we be justified: and that without faith it is impossible to please God, The Apostle James as clearly shews, that faith, if it be unproductive of good works, justifies no man. Between those sentiments there is no opposition. Faith without works is nugatory and insignificant. It is a foundation, without any superstructure raised upon it. It is a fountain which sends forth no stream; a tree which neither bears fruit nor affords shade. Good works again, without good principles, are a fair but airy structure: without firmness or stability. They resemble the house built on the sand; the reed which shakes with every wind. You must join the two in full union, if you would exhibit the character of a real Christian. He who sets faith in opposition to morals, or morals in opposition to faith, is equally an enemy to the interest of religion. He holds up to view an imperfect and disfigured form in the room of what ought to com mand respect from all beholders. By leaning to one extreme, he is in danger of falling into vice; by the other of running into impiety.

Whatever the belief of men be, they ge nerally pride themselves in the possession of some good moral qualities. The sense of duty is deeply rooted in the human heart. With


out some pretence to virtue, there is no self esteem; and no man wishes to appear, in his own view, as entirely worthless. But as there is a constant strife between the lower and higher parts of our nature, between inclination and principle, this produces much eontradiction and inconsistency in conduct.Hence arise most of the extremes, into which men run in their moral behaviour; resting their whole worth on that good quality, to which, by constitution or temper, they are most inclined.

One of the first and most common of those extremes is that of placing all virtue, either in justice, on the one hand; or in generosity on the other. The opposition between these is most discernible among two different classes of men in society. They who have earned their fortune by a laborious and industrious life, are naturally tenacious of what they have painfully acquired. To do justice they consider themselves as obliged; but to go beyond it in acts of kindness, they consider as superfluous and extravagant. They will not take any advantage of others, which conscience tells them is iniquitous; but neither will they make any allowance for their necessities and wants.They contend, with rigorous exactness, for

what is due to themselves. They are satisfied, if no man suffer unjustly by them. That no one is benefited by them, gives them little concern. Another set of men place their whole merit in generosity and mercy; while to justice and integrity they pay small regard. These are persons generally of higher rank, and of easy fortune. To them justice appears a sort of vulgar virtue, requisite chiefly in the petty transactions which those of inferior station carry on with one another. But humanity and liberality, they consider as more refined virtues, which dignify their character, and cover all their failings. They can relent at representations of distress; can bestow with ostentatious generosity; can even occasionally share their wealth with a companion of whom they are fond; while, at the same time, they withhold from others what is due to them; are negligent of their family and their relations; and to the just demands of their creditors give no attention.

Both these classes of men run to a faulty extreme. They divide moral virtue between them. Each takes that part of it only which suits his temper. Without justice, there is no virtue. But without humanity and mercy, no virtuous character is complete. The one man leans to the extreme of parsimony. The

other to that of profusion. The temper of the one is unfeeling. The sensibility of the other is thoughtless. The one you may in some degree respect; but you cannot love. The other may be loved; but cannot be respected: and it is difficult to say, which character is most defective. We must undoubtedly begin with being just, before we attempt to be generous. At the same time, he who goes no farther than bare justice, stops at the beginning of virtue. We are commanded to do justly, but to love mercy. The one virtue regulates our actions; the other improves our heart and affections. Each is equally necessary to the happiness of the world. Justice is the pillar, that upholds the whole fabric of human society. Mercy is the genial ray, which cheers and warms the habitations of men. The perfection of our social character consists, in properly tempering the two with one another; in holding that middle course, which admits of our being just, without being rigid; and allows us to be generous without being unjust.

We must next guard against either too great severity, or too great facility of manners. These are extremes of which we every day behold instances in the world. He who leans

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