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II. That Happiness is the natural Result or fruit os Holiness, and Misery os Sin.
I will therefore insist on each of these Doctrines, and then
III. Give you two or three Rules for our due Conduit in reference to Society.
I. That Men are generally such as' their Acquaintance and Familiars are. This is affirm'd in ray Text no less with reference to good, than bad Company: There is one general and plain Reason for this ; All Men are "naturally Lovers of themselves, and therefore the most effectual way of endearing and obliging one another, is by mutual Respects and Compliances j No Man can make his Court more effectually to another, than by falling in with him in Opinion and Practise, approving his Judgment, and observing his Inclinations., this is that which flatters our Self-love, the predominant Frinciple in our
Natures -, this is that which renders Society agreeable, and Friendship lasting, which is never to be hop'd for, where Mens Principles and Humours are inconsistent and incompatible: E'er we can be pleas'd our selves, or please others, we must be mutually fashioned or moulded into an Agreement, and Conformity of Principles and Morals, we must be acted and govern'd by the same Affections and Inclinations, and mov'd and led by the same Desires and Passions. This is so far the universal Sense of Mankind, that it has escap'd no bodies observation \ All act and judge by this Rule -, we estimate Men by the Intimacies they maintain; and he is thought to have forfeited all Pretension to good Sense or good Breeding, who does not stifle those Sentiments,, and suppress those Inclinations which are apt to shock the Company he is in, or give any Disturbance or Disgust to his Friends. From hence the Proposition laid down follows with undeniable Evidence, That Men are generally such as their Companions are: For
that that Society will soon be diflblv'd, where we reap no Satisfaction from it -, and we can reap none where there is no Agreement in our Notions and Inclinations.
But that this Truth, which is of the highest consequence, may be the more deeply imprinted, I will proceed to a more distinct and particular Illustration of it: And sirst of the Influence good Company has on us towards making us Wise and Good; there are two things in Wise Men which never fail to work upon their Friends and Acquaintance: First, Good Discourse ■■, Secondly, Good Examples.
I. Then as to Good Discourses how manifest is the Tendency of this? What Light, what Strength, what Pleasure does it minister? How does it awaken the Conscience and purify the Heart? How does it quicken us when we languish? How does it recall and reduce us when we begin to forget our selves, and lay aside a wise Sobriety of Mind and Holy Fear? How does it raise us
when we fink and grovel, and how often does it kindle in us wise Desires and holy Purposes? Thus Solomon observes, That the Lips of the wife disperse knowledge, PrOV. 15. 7. and the New Testament tells us, concerning this kind of Discourse, that it ministers grace to the hearer; that it edifies and builds us up in our holy Faith: And the Disciples going to Emaus remark, what Life and Spirit there was in the Conversation of our Lord, Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the -way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures, Luke 24. 32. Now, tho' no Words can ever be impregnated with the same Force and Energy with which our Lord's were, yet certainly when God and our great Mediator, when the Riches of Divine Grace, when Righteousness and Heaven are the Subject of our Discourse, when our Language flows from the Heart, and is animated by a Vital and Experimental Sense of that we talk of, when it has all the Advantages which a true Frieridship, and known Integrity, and the
most favourable Opportunities can give it: Such Discourse can never fail of moving and asfecting us.
2. From Discourse I pass on to Example; and here 'tis certain, that Vertue never appears so beautiful and lovely as in Action : That it is represented with much more Life, in the practice of a wise and good Man, than it can be in Rules and Precepts \ that the Notions we form of Duty from the Lives of others, are generally more correct and just, than those which we form even from the Scriptures themselves; for we are apt to bend and accommodate the Rule a little in favour of our selves, but we never do so in favour of others. That the Excellencies and Perfections of a Friend, are very strong Incitements to Emulation, and very sensible Reproofs of our Remiflnefs and comparative Barrenness and Unprofitableness \ and on the other fide, his Defects are excellent Lessons of Caution and Watchfulness. 'Tis lastly, certain, that whatever Beauty and Loveliness there be in Vertue, it receives a new Accession from