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Seriousness of Heart as to Religion.

Seriousness of Heart as to Religion.

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Published by glennpease
BY WILLIAM PALEY, D.D


LUKE, vni. 15.

But that on the good ground are they, who in an
honest and good hearty having heard the word,
keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
BY WILLIAM PALEY, D.D


LUKE, vni. 15.

But that on the good ground are they, who in an
honest and good hearty having heard the word,
keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 22, 2014
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SERIOUSESS OF HEART AS TO RELIGIO. BY WILLIAM PALEY, D.D LUKE, vni. 15. But that on the good ground are they, who in an honest and good hearty having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. IT may be true, that a right religious principle produces corresponding external actions, and yet it may not be true, that external actions are what we should always, or entirely, or principally, look to for the purpose of estimating our religious cha racter ; or from whence alone we should draw our assurance and evidence of being in the right way. External actions must depend upon ability, and must wait for opportunity. From a change in the heart, a visible outward change will ensue : from an amendment of disposition an amended conduct will follow : but it may neither be so soon, nor so evident, nor to such a degree, as we may at first sight expect, inasmuch as it will be regulated by occasions and by ability. I do not mean to say (for I do not believe it to be so), that there is any person so forlorn and destitute, as to have no good in his power : expensive kindnesses may not ; but there is much kindness, which is not expensive : a kindness of temper ; a readiness to oblige ; a willingness to assist; a constant inclination to SERMOS. 285 promote the comfort and satisfaction of all who are about us, of all with whom we have concern or connexion, of all with whom we associate or
 
converse. There is also a concern for the virtue of those, over whom, or with whom, we can have any sort of influence, which is a natural concomitant of a radical concern for virtue in ourselves. But above all, it is undoubtedly in every per son s power, whether poor or rich, weak or strong, ill or well endowed by nature or education, it is, I say, in every person s power to avoid sin : if he can do little good, to take care that he do no ill. Although, therefore, there be no person in the world so circumstanced, but who both can, and will, testify this inward principle by his outward behaviour, in one shape or other ; yet, on account of the very great difference of those circumstances in which men are placed, and to which their out ward exertions are subjected, outward behaviour is not always a just measure of inward principle. But there is a second case, and that but too common, in which outward behaviour is no mea sure of religious principle at all : and that is, when it springs from other and different motives and reasons, from those which religion presents. A very bad man may be externally good: a man completely irreligious at the heart may, for the sake of character, for the advantage of having a good character, for the sake of decency, for the sake of being trusted and respected, and well spoken of, from a love of praise and commen dation, from a view of carrying his schemes and designs in the world, or of raising himself by 284
 
SERMOS. strength of character, or at least from a fear lest a tainted character should be an obstacle to his ad vancement from these, and a thousand such sort of considerations, which might be reckoned up ; and with which, it is evident, that religion hath no concern or connexion whatever, men may be both active, and forward, and liberal, in doing good ; and exceedingly cautious of giving offence by doing evil ; and this may be either wholly, or in part, the case with ourselves. In judging, therefore, and examining ourselves, with a view of knowing the real condition of our souls, the real state and the truth of our spiritual situation in respect to God, and in respect to sal vation, it is neither enough, nor is it safe, to look only to our external conduct. I do not speak in any manner of judging of other men : if that were necessary at all, which, with a view to religion, it never is, different rules must be laid down for it. I now only speak of that which is necessary, and most absolutely so, in  judging rightly of ourselves. To our hearts, there fore, we must look for the marks and tokens of salvation, for the evidence of being in the right way. " That on the good ground are they, who in an honest and good heart bring forth fruit with patience/ One of these marks, and that no slight one, is seriousness at the heart. I can have no hope at all of a man, who does not find himself serious in religious matters, serious at the heart. If the

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