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lieveth all things. Charity teaches us to believe no ill of another without satisfying evidence, and forbids us to spread it, although it be true, without apparent necessity; But will charity either justify or excuse us, in folemnly affirming a positive fact, the existence of which is uncertain in itself, and to us unknown. I do not take upon me to fáy, that all are bad men who are guilty, by act or consent, of this practice, because I do not know how far the plea of ignorance or mistake may go; but this may be fafely faid that they do in a public capacity, what, if they were to do in a private capacity between man and man, would render them contemptible, or infamous, or both.
These two particulars have often brought reproach up. on the church of Scotland, to which it is very difficult to make a proper reply. Would to God the occasion given for it were wholly taken away. In the mean time, every one who has a just regard to the glory of God, or the fuc, cefs of his own work, will endeavor to maintain such an uniformity of character, as will bear that examination, to which it ought in justice, and must of necessity be expo. sed.
In the last place, I must beg leave to speak a few words to the people in general, on the subject of this discourse. You may learn, my brethren, from the preceding dif. course, by what rule you ought to judge, in all religious controversies, where a determination is necessary. Try all principles by their effects, and every person's pretences by his conduct. Examine, as far as you have proper evidence, who have real and vital religion most at heart; and what means do effe&tually promote it. Believe not every profession, but fee which is most consistent in all its parts. Have patience, in difficult cases, till the tree have time to bring its fruits to maturity. Time will often write a clear and legible character, on what was very dark and dubious at first.
It is probable fome will be ready to say, there is no small doubtfulness in this rule itself. There may be found good men of many different parties, how then shall we judge between them? I answer, wherever there is true
religion, these persons are to be considered as the servants of God, and his grace in them is to be confefled without reluctance, and adored with thankfulness. There will,
, nevertheless, be still sufficient means to distinguish between one profession and another, which hath the greatest influence in making men truly good. There may be, here and there, a good man under very great disadvantages. This may ferve to keep us from a bigotted narrowness of mind, and uncharitable condemnation of others. But it will never occasion, in any prudent person, a departure from these principles, and that dispensation of ordinances, which he fees to be best for building him up in holiness and comfort, through faith unto falvation. The truth is, one great design of this discourse was to teach men to dis. tinguish between the upright and the worthless of all sects, Turn your zeal from parties to persons. Do not reproach or oppose men merely because they are of this or the other persuasion. But, wherever there is a wicked or a world. ly man in the office of a minifter, avoid the wolf in sheep's cloathing for your own fake, and, if possible, drag off his disguise, that others may not be his prey. What doth it fignify what party a man is of, if the foundations are destroyed, and truth and holiness, these inseparable companions, are trampled under foot. When shall the time come, when the fincere lovers of Chrift, of every denomination, fhall join together in oppofition to his open enemies and treacherous friends. There is a wonderful, though a natura! union, among all worldly men, against the spirit and pow. er of true religion wherever it appears. I am sorry to add, that this is one of the instances in which the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the chil. dren of light. Many will not meet together on earth for the worship of God, who fhall have but one temple at last, where all from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, fhall meet, and join in their Creator and Redeemer's praise. The terms of admission into, and of exclusion from this happy dwelling, are recorded in the following remarkable terms, with which I shall conclude this discourse, as indeed they are the sum of all that has
been said in it, “ And there shall in no wise enter into it "any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abo“ laination, or maketh a lie, but they which are written “ in the Lamb's book of life."*
* Rev. xxi. 27.
The Change of sedition and FACTION against good
Men, especially faithful MINISTERS, considered and accounted for.
S E R M ON,
Preached in the Abbey Church of Paisley, on Thursday,
September 7th, 1758, at the Ordination of Mr. ArchiBALD Davidson, as one of the Ministers of that Church. To which is subjoined, the charge to the Minister, and the Exhortation to the People. Published at the desire of those who heard it.
These that have turned the world upside down are come
office. These subjects, indeed, have, on occasions of this and a similar nature, been so often and so well handled, that it is hard to say any thing on them, which fhall not be either bare repetition, or an alteration very much for the worse. I have therefore made choice at this time of a subject somewhat different, but the usefulness of which, both to ministers and people may be easily difcerned.
A great part of the sacred volume consists of history. And, as the knowledge of past events, and the history of mankind in general, is an improving study; so there is no object of study more pleasant or more profitable, than that extensive view of the great plan of Providence which