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out of our Mouth, that we may not grieve the Holy Spirit, and separate him from us, then it follows, that we are also to deny our selves the Entertainment of all corrupt, impertinent, and unedifying Books. For if vain and idle Words are not to proceed out of our Mouths, we must be under the fame Necessity of not letting them enter into our Hearts.

If we would know what Books are to be avoided, as corrupt and grievous to the Holy Spirit, we must look back to the Rule of our Communication ; for as that Communication is there said to be corrupt, that does not edify and minister Grace to the Hearers, so must we look upon all those Books as corrupt, which do not improve and confirm our Hearts in Virtue, or, in the Apostle's Words, such as do not edify and minister Grace to the Readers. Now this Book-entertainment is as certainly forbidden by the Apostle, as Cheating is forbidden by the eighth Commandment: For if I am not to say foolish and impertinent Things my self, because such a Communication grieves and removes the Holy Spirit of God, I am as certainly forbid the reading the corrupt and impertinent Sayings of other People. The Books which moltly corrupt our Hearts, and fill us with a Spirit of Folly, are luch, as almost all the


World allow themselves to read, I mean, Books of Wit and Humour, Romances, Plays; and other Productions of the Poetr. Thus a grave orthodox old Gentleman, if he hears that his Niece is very good, and delights in Reading, will fill her Closet with Volumes of Plays, and Poems on several Occasions, on purpose to encourage her to spend her Time well. There is not perhaps a niore surprizing Infatuation in the Conduct of Christians, than with regard to these Books.

A FATHER would be very much troubled to see his Daughter in Conversation pleased with the lewd Remarks of a Rake ; he would be afraid that she had lost the Virtue of her Mind, if she could relish such a Turn of Conversation. Yoe inis fame Father shall help his Daughter to a Volume of Occasional Poems, for her Clos set-Entertainment, full of such gross 1111modesties, as hardly any Rake would venture to express in any Conversation. It is perhaps a Collection of the Poet's finest, strongest, and most finish'd Thoughts in Lewdness and Immodesty. Every Wantonness of Imagination, every Transport of Passion, every Extravagance of Thoughts which ever seiz'd him in his Life, is tliere preserved for the Meditation of the ChriItian Reader; as if Propbaness, Blasphemny,



the grossest Descriptions of Lust, and the wildest Sallies of impure Passions, were made good and useful for a Christian, by being put into Rhime and Measure. And what shews this Infatuation in a yet higher Degree, is this, that it is still a prevailing Opinion in the World, that the reading virtuous Books is a great Means of iniproving in Virtue ; whereas one would suppose, that the Books I have mentioned could only be allowed upon a Belief, that there was neither Good nor Harm to be got by Reading

BUT however, let us remember that though the Way of the World which is thus inconsistent, may allow this polite kind of Entertainment, yet this is no Rule or Security for our Conduct, since we are no more to make the Spirit of the World our Guide, than we are to make the Riches of the World our Happiness. The Do&rines of the Scriptures are the only Rule by which we are now to live, and the Rule by which we shall hereafter be judged. Now if we will allow our felves in the reading prophane, impure, and impertinent Books, which have every thing in them that can pervert our Understandings, and corrupt our Hearts, though the Scripture forbids all unedifying Discourse, as a Thing that grieves the Holy Spirit, it must be

said, said, that we act as contrary to Scripture, as if we indulged and pleased our selves in Malice and Revenge.

You read a Play, I tell you that you read Ribbaldry and Prophaness, that you fill your Mind with extravagant Thoughts, lewd Intreagues, vain Fictions, wanton Ideas, and impure Descriptions. If you ask me where is the Sin of this, you may as well ask me where is the Sin of Swearing and Lying : For it is a Sin not only against this or that particular Text, but it is a Sin against the whole Nature and Spirit of our Religion; it is a Contradiction to all Holiness, and to all the Methods of arriving at it. For if evil unedifying Conmunication be forbidden in Scripture, and for this Reason, because it grieves the Spirit of God, then the Entertainment of such Books is certainly forbidden. For certainly the wild Rant, the prophane Speeches, filthy Jests, and impure Passions, which there abound, are an evil Communication in the highest Degree, and must therefore highly grieve and separate the Holy Spirit from us. Can therefore any Practice be forbid upon a. more dreadful Penalty than this ? For without the Spirit of God, we are but Figures of Chriftians, and must die in our Sins. If therefore we can prove it to be a small Matter to grieve Y 2


the Spirit of God, then we may allow that it is but a small Offence, to please our selves in reading those corrupt Books. Our Blessed Saviour faith, Onet of the Heart proceed evil Thoughts, and that these are the Things that defile a Man; must it not therefore be a great Defilement to take evil Thoughts into our Hearts? Need we any other Motive than this, to watch and guard the Purity of our Minds? He that, notwithstanding this Doctrine of our Saviour's, dares to set apart Times for the reading the evil and inpure Thoughts that are in these Books, does as plainly despise the Doctrine of Christ, as he that murders, despises the Doctrine of the Sixth Commandment.

You will say perhaps, that you only read these Books now and then, for Amusement, and only to divert your Spirits, and that most of the Time which you devote to Reading, is spent in reading Books that may improve your Piety. If this be your Cafe, you can say that for your self which very few can; for the Generality of Readers make other Books their chief and most constant Entertainment. But to speak now to your Excuse, you only read such Books now and then, for your Amusement, and to divert your Spirits; that is, you entertain your Mind with evil Thoughts, you read, relish, and digest, the Lewdness,


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