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to comprehend it ; and, lastly, as the ablest men of all times, of every profession and denomination, have appeared in its defence, such advocates may demand to be heared with all possible attention. For the Judge of such a cause, then, to confide in his own first thoughts, to listen negligently and impatiently, and to precipitate his determination, must bè altogether unworthy the character he assumes.
- 3 It is expected of a Judge that he be strictly impartial ; that he come to the trial of a cause without any previous bias on his mind, or any passionate and prevailing prejudices, in regard either to persons or things, which may indispose him to see the truth, or to respect it. And this turn of mind, so conducive to a right determination in all cases, is the more necessary here, where so many secret prejudices are apt, without great care, to steal in and corrupt the judgement.
The last quality, which men require in a Judge, is an inflexible Integrity: such as may infuse the virtue and the courage to give his judgement according to his impartial sense of things, without any regard to the consequences, in which it may involve him. This constancy of mind may be put to no easy trial in the present case ; when the Judge's determination may perhaps interest his whole future conduct; and when the censure, the scorn, and the displeasure of numbers, and possibly of those whom he has hitherto most considered and esteemed, may be incurred by such determination.
THESE are the great essential qualities which we look for in a JUDGE, and which cannot be dispensed with in a Judge of Religion. How far all, or any of these qualities are to be found in those, who take to themselves this office, I have neither time, nor inclination, to consider. For my purpose is not to disparage those who have exercised the right of judging for themselves in the great affair of Religion, nor to discourage any man from doing himself this justice: but simply to represent the difficulties, that lie in our way, and the qualifications we must possess, if we would judge a righteous judgement.
I leave it to yourselves, therefore, to apply these observations, as ye think fit. Ye will conclude, however, that to judge of the pretentions of your religion is no such easy task, as that any man, without parts, without knouledge, without industry, and without virtue, may presume to undertake it.
The sum of all I have said is, then, this. The Apostle, when he became an Advocate for the Gospel, condescended to speak, and it must therefore be more especially the duty of its uninspired advocates to speak as to wise men ; that is, to employ in its defence all the powers of reason and wisdom, of which they are capable. But it will be remembered, too, that much, nay more, is required of the Judges of it; and that they must approve themselves, not only wise, but, in every moral sense, excellent men, before they are qualified to pass a final judgement on what such Advocates have to say on so momentous a cause, as that of the CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
PREACHED MAY 17, 1767.
Rom. ii. 14, 15.
When the Gentiles, which have not the Law,
DO by Nature the things contained in the Law, these, having not the Law, are a Law unto themselves : which shew the work of the Law written in their hearts, their CONSCIENCE also bearing witness, and their thoughts in the mean while ACCUSING or else EXCUSING one another.
scope of this chapter being to assert, that the Gentile, as well as Jew, had a right to be admitted into the Christian church, and that he was equally entitled to share in the blessings of it, the Apostle grounds his argument upon this Principle, “ That, in the final judgement, there would be no respect of
persons with God; but that Gentiles, as well “ as Jews, would be recompensed in that day, “ if not in the same degree, yet by the same “ rule of proportion, that is, according to their a works.”
Whence it would follow, that, if this equal measure was to be dealt to both, in the future judgement, it could not seem strange if both were to be admitted to the present benefits and privileges of the Gospel.
But to keep off a conclusion so uneasy to his inveterate prejudices, the Jew would object to this reasoning, “ That the Apostle's assump« tion must be false; for that as God had given " the Heathens no Law, they were not ac
countable to him: that, as there could be " no room for Punishment, where no Law for
bade, so there could be no claim to Reward, “ where no Law enjoined: and consequently, " that the Heathen world, being left with
out Law, had no concern in a future recom
pence, at all."