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they meet about} where Pride and Ostentation of Life is the thing only admir'd ; and nothing h3S any savour in it, that is wise or good, devout or humble: And if a vertuous Person can in such Company scarce keep his Ground, how easily are those borne away by the Stream, whoare of themselves but too prone to Evil, and too fond of Temptation.
2. Ill Company does naturally instil and propagate vicious Principles, worldly Maxims, sensual, carnal Improvements: Here we are furnished with Objections against God and Providence, with Excuses and Apologies for Sin j here we learn to ridicule Religion and Conscience, and dispute our selves out of all Sense and Duty. 'Tis of this fort of Communication St.Paul speaks, when he saith, That it corrupts good manners. And at this Day, those Errors which fret like a Canker and consume every thing that is wife and serious in us, have multiplied so beyond Measure, that they are no longer the enclosure of some few Pretenders to Freedom and Reason, but the foolishest and meanest, as well as the
most vicious part of Mankind are deeply ting'd with them.
3. Ill Company creates Confidence in Sin; a custom of talking unconcernedly and loosely does naturally make way for carelesness and liberty in our Actions; and if we repeat either often, we shall soon grow bold and stupid in Sin} for if we neglect to make any Reflection upon our Words or Actions, we shall be insensibly betrayed into a hardness of Heart, or if ( what is worse ) we be driven by the Reproaches of our Conscience upon Reflection to take Sanctuary in the Cheats and Impostures, whether Vulgar or more refin'd,which Sinners are wont to put upon themselves, we shall soon sink into Pro- . phaneness and Atheism. Having thus unfolded to you the Truth of the first Proposition, and shew'd you that Men become such as their Company, I am next to proceed to the
II. That Happiness is the Fruit oflVts
dom, and Misery os Folly. Men may
flatter themselves as they please, and
delude themselves with vain words •
B 3 the y they may call the Proud and Rich happy ; they may admire the prosperous Sinner, and in a senseless Fit applaud themselves in their vicious Pleasures } but they must bid defiance, not only to Revelation, but even Reason and Experience too, e'er they can promise themselves a true and lasting Satisfaction in any thing but Vertue. Revelation tells us plainly, That Godliness, and that only, has the promises of the Life that now is, and of that which is to come, i. Tim. 2. 8. 1 hat if we sow to theflefi, we stall of the flefl) reap corruption; hut if through the Spirit we mortise the deeds of the body, we shall live, Gal. 6. 8. That we must all appear before the Judgment seat os Chris, that we may receive according to what we have done in the body, whether it be good or evil, 2 Cor. 5. i0. and both Reason and Experience, as well as Revelation, tell us, That Sin is fruitless and dishonourable, Rom. &. 2i. What fruit, had ye then in those things whereof you are now afliamed? That there is no peace to the wicked: That they are Lke a troubled Sea when it cannot res, continually throwing up ita
own mire and dirt, Isa. 57. 20. That the Miseries and Calamities of Life spring from Sin; that Sin blasts our Enjoyments and Possessions; that it gives Sting and Edge to all our Miseries and Misfortunes: For if we did not dote upon the Body and the World, the Evils of Life could not wound us so deeply. In a word, Revelation, Reason, Experience assure us, that Righteousness fills the Mind with Peace and Joy; that Sin tortures it, with Contradictions and unreasonable Passions, with the Guilt and the Terrors of the Lord; and what think we must be the result of both in another World? In the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment
of God, Rom. 8 5. Must the nature of things be alter'd that the Sinner ma>y be fiv'd? Must Religion be an Imposture", that Madness and Folly may prove Wisdom? Must Reason be a meer Amusement, that Lust and Fancy may be infallible Guides? Must the Judgment of another World contradict all.our Sense and Experience in this ?• That the little Railery and Sophistry of the Loose and Vicious
part of Mankind, may prove the only thing that has Solidity and Weight in it? These are Things too absurd and ridiculous to be fancied. I will enlarge no longer on a truth which is controverted by none, except the Prophane and Atheistical, but will on to the third Thing proposed.
III. To give you some Advice for your better ConduEt, as to Society or keeping Company. This may be reduced to three Heads:
i. We must be very cautious what Company we keep.
2. We must endeavour to make the best use of it.
3. We must be fully perswaded, that the due Government of our selves in this points is a matter of the highest moment.
i. As to the first Rule: We must reject the Authority of Scripture, if we refuse to observe it, for this exprefiy forbids us to associate our