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Conversation; and thouihalt soon see that the Good will love thee, but the Wicked will forsake thee ■., they will shun thee, as Ghosts are said to do the Light and Day; or as Hypocrites and Profligates did the Society of the first Christians •■, and of the rest durst no man join himself unto them, Acts 5. 13. Thou dost too much accommodate thy self to the Modes and Humours of the World, and this draws upon thee the Company of the Impertinent and Vicious ^ 'tis an earthly vanishing Splendor, about which these Moths and Night-flies flutter: 'Tis Jet, not Gold and Diamond, that is said to attract Straws.
(3.) But. lastly, This Rule obliges us only as far as we can (the nearr ness of Relation or necessary Business, does sometimes make it our Duty to Converse with those which we otherwise would decline. And in this Case all that can be expected is) not to have aqy Fellowship or Communion, with them in their Vices, but to di£. countenance or reprove them: And, a$ the World goes>now, I think this
Rule is to be extended no farther than to Intimacies and Familiarities, to voluntary and chosen Acquaintance, not to Accidental Meetings or Occasional Correspondencies. But we must: take care not to be too favourable and compliant in this Mattery the more Sin abounds, the less Discipline is or can be exercised •, the more zealous (hould we be in particular to do honour to Religion, and to fix a Mark of Shame and Infamy upon Vice. Never would this Rule be more scandalously transgress'd, than if Priests and Prelates should court the Company and Favour of Atheists and Adulterers: Or Matrons and Virgins that of a wretched Woman, whose State and Port is not more notorious than the Shame andLewdnefs that maintains it. How 'can our Wives or Daughters think that there is any Shame or Turpitude in the Sin, when we pay so much respect to the Sinner?
2. We must consider what ought to be the true End and Design of Society and Conversation amongChristians. Certainly that Man has a very C 2 mean .
mean and low Notion of Friendship, who proposes no other End than to Eat and to Drink together, or to laugh and fool away our precious Moments. The Scripture points out to us much nobler Purposes and Designs of Conversation, when it tells us, That our Speech should be such as may administer Grace \ that we should build, zip one another in ovr holy Faith j that we should comfort one another, exhort one another continually, and so much the more, because the day approaches, &c. and surely we are strangely mistaken, if we think that our Communication will lose all gust by being directed to one of these ends. On the contrary, it would doubtless be as much more delightful as beneficial, if when we meet we were accustomed, instead of Censures and Reflections, News and Impertinence,orFrothiness and Lightness, to discourse os some worthy and noble Subject, becoming the Genius and Hope of a Christian. The Example of David confirms this Notion; he try'd and found that Friendship was both useful and pleasant, whilst it was maintain'd on the stock
of Religion •, My Companion, my Guides my familiar Friend; we took, sweet Coun* sel together, and walked into the House of God in company, Psal. 55. i4, i5.
To this it will be ■again objected, It will be Very difficult ar all times to find Matter and Occasion for good Discourse. I answer, Fir ft, I do not utterly arid totally exclude the common Accidents of Life,the Business and Affairs of it, nay, even Things of & pleasant and divertive Nature, ifmo?? dest and inoffensive,■from being sometimes the Subject of Conversation; . but, I say, Religion ought to be the main and great End of it. Secondly,. 'Tis hard for me to conceive how a good Christian should often- want either Matter or Opportunity for piouss Discourse. As for Matter; he must, suffer the Providences of God to pafs< without any observation or remark,. he must be a Stranger to the Works. of Nature; he must be utterly unread in the History of Human Affairs; he. smust be unacquainted with the Book of God., and he must have little experience of the Power and Operation.off God's Word and Spirit upon his own C 3 Soul;
,Soul; he must haye ^reflected very little on the Wilds of Satan ., the Temptations of the World, and the Defects and Weaknesses of Human Nature, who can want Matter for good Discourse. The Man.of Letters, the Man of Business, the Man of Pleasure, never wants Matters,.Books furnish the one, Business the other* and their Vices and Diversions the third. 'Tis strange that the Christian alone should be barren. The Christian, who is a Child of the Light, and of the Day, and should abound in Wisdom and Understanding! The Christian, who has every hour Matters of the highest Importance on his Hands! and who, finally, is entertain'd with more and richer Pleasures than the most fortunate Epicurean can pretend to. As to Occasion or Opportunity of good Discourse, did the Heart run that way, every thing would afford it us. But alas I we rather shun than seek Occasions: and I know not by what strange Er-, ror we have ■banifh'd all Matters of Religion out of Company j as if nothing