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of all things, pleased not himself”! but submitted to wants, to difficulties, and hardships, in the way of duty, and some of them of the extremest kind and degree, for the glory of God and the salvation of men. In this way we are to follow him ; and as we know not how soon we may be called, even to resist unto blood, striving against sint, it is certainly best to accustom ourselves to that discipline, which we may possibly be called out to exercise, even in such rigorous heights. A soft and delicate life will give force to temptations, which might easily be subdued by one, who has habituated himself to endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ t. It also produces an attachment to this world, and an unwillingness to leave it; which ill becomes those who are strangers and pilgrims on earth, and who expect so soon to be called away to that better country which they profess to seekš. Add to this, that what the world calls a life of pleasure, is necessarily a life of expence too, and may perhaps lead you, as it has done many others, and especially many who have been setting out in the world, beyond the limits which providence has assigned ; and so after a short course of indulgence, may produce a proportionable want. And while in other cases it is true, that pity should be shewn to the poor, this is a poverty that is justly contemptible, because it is the effect of a man's own folly; and when your want thus comes upon you as an armed man|, you will not only find yourself stripped of the capacity you might otherwise have secured for performing those works of charity which are so ornamental to a christian profession, but probably will be under strong temptations to some low artifice or mean compliance, quite beneath the christian character, and that of an upright man. Many who once made a high profession, after a series of such sorry and scandalous shifts, have fallen into the infamy of bankrupts, and of the worst kind of bankrupts; I mean such as have lavished away on themselves what was indeed the property of others, and so have injured, and perhaps ruined, the industrious, to feed a foolish, luxurious, or ostentatious humour, which while indulged was the shame of their own families, and when it can be indulged no longer is their torment. This will be a terrible reproach to religion : such a reproach to it, that a good man would rather chuse to live on bread and water, or indeed to die for want of them, than to occasion it. - §. 4. Guard therefore, I beseech you, against any thing which might tend that way, especially by diligence in business,
and by prudence and frugality in expence, which by the divine blessing, may have a very happy influence to make your affairs prosperous, your health vigorous, and your mind easy. But this cannot be attained without keeping a resolute watch over yourself, and strenuously refusing to comply with many proposals, which indolence or sensuality will offer in very plausible forms, and for which it will plead, “that it asks but very little.” Take heed, lest in this respect you imitate those fond parents, who by indulging their children in every little thing they have a mind to, encourage them by insensible degrees to grow still more incroaching, and imperious in their demands; as if they chose to be ruined with them, rather than to check them in what seems a trifle. Remember, and consider that excellent remark, sealed by the ruin of so many thousands: He that despiseth small things shall fall by little and little. §. 5. In this view, give me leave also seriously and tenderly to caution you, my dear reader, against the snares of vain company. I speak not, as before, of that company, which is openly licentious and profane. I hope, there is something now in your temper and views, which would engage you to turn away from such with detestation and horror. But I beseech you, to consider, that those companions may be very dangerous, who might at first give you but very little alarm: I mean those, who though not the declared enemies of religion, and professed followers of vice and disorder, yet nevertheless have no practical sense of divine things on their hearts, so far as can be judged by their conversation and behaviour. You must often of necessity be with such persons, and christianity not only allows, but requires, that you should, on all expedient occasions of intercourse with them, treat them with civility and respect: but chuse not such for your most intimate friends, and do not contrive to spend most of your leisure moments among them. For such converse has a sensible tendency to alienate the soul from God, and to render it unfit for all spiritual communion with him. To convince you of this, do but reflect on your own experience, when you have been for many hours together among persons of such a character. Do you not find yourself more indisposed for devotional exercises Do you not find your heart, by insensible degrees, more and more inclined to a conformity to this world, and to look with a secret disrelish on those objects and employments, to which reason directs as the noblest and the best? Observe the first symptoms, and guard against the snare in time : and for this purpose, endeavour to form friendships, founded in piety, and supported by it. Be a companion of them that fear God, and of them that keep his precepts”. You well know, that in the sight of God they are the excellent of the earth; let them therefore be all your delightt. And that the peculiar benefit of their friendship may not be lost, endeavour to make the best of the hours you spend with them. The wisest of men has observed, that when “counsel in the heart of a man is like deep waters; that is, when it lies low and concealed, a man of understanding will draw it outs. Endeavour therefore, on such occasions, so far as you can do it with decency and convenience, to give the conversation a religious turnAnd when serious and useful subjects are started in your presence, lay hold of them, and cultivate them; and for that purpose let the word of Christ dwell richly in youš, and be continually made the man of your counsel ||. §. 6. If it be so, it will secure you, not only from the snares of idleness and luxury, but from the contagion of every bad example. And it will also engage you to guard against those excessive hurries of worldly business, which would fill up all your time and thoughts, and thereby choke the good word of God, and render it in a great measure, if not quite unfruitful". Young people are generally of an enterprising disposition: having experienced comparatively little of the fatigue of business, and of the disappointments and incumbrances of life, they easily swallow them up, and annihilate them in their imagination, and fancy that their spirit, their application and address, will be able to encounter and surmount every obstacle or hindrance. But the event proves it otherwise. Let me intreat you, therefore, to be cautious how you plunge yourself into a greater variety of business than you are capable of managing as you ought, that is, in consistency with the care of your souls, and the service of God; which certainly ought not on any pretence to be neglected. It is true, indeed, that a prudent regard to your worldly interest would require such a caution; as it is obvious to every careful observer, that multitudes are undone, by grasping at more than they can conveniently manage. Hence it has frequently been seen, that while they have seemed resolved to be rich, they have pierced themselves through with many sorrows”, have ruined their own families, and drawn down many others into desolation with them. Whereas, could they have been contented with moderate employments and moderate gains, they might have prospered in their business, and might by sure degrees, under a
divine blessing, have advanced to great and honourable increase. But if there were no danger at all to be apprehended on this head, if you were as certain of becoming rich and great, as you are of perplexing and fatiguing yourself in the attempt, consider, I beseech you, how precarious these enjoyments are. Consider, how often a plentiful table becomes a snare, and that which should have been for a man's welfare, becomes a trap *. Forget not that short lesson, which is so comprehensive of the highest wisdom; one thing is needful t. Be daily thinking, while the gay and the great things of life are glittering before your eyes, how soon death will come, and impoverish you at once : how soon it will strip you of all possessions, but those which a naked soul can carry along with it into eternity, when it drops the body into the grave. Eternity Eternity! Eternity! Carry the view of it about with you, if it be possible, through every hour of waking life; and be fully persuaded, that you have no business, no interest in life, that is inconsistent with it: for whatsoever would be injurious to this view, is not your business, is not your interest. You see, indeed, that the generality of men act as if they thought the great thing which God required of them, in order to secure his favour, was to get as much of the world as possible; at least as much as they can without any gross immorality, and without risking the loss of all, for making a little addition. And as if it were to abet this design, they tell others, and perhaps tell themselves, they only seek opportunities of greater usefulness. But in effect, if they mean any thing more by this, than a capacity of usefulness, which, when they have it, they will not exert, they generally deceive themselves; and, one way or another, it is a vain pretence. In most instances men seek the world,—either that they may hoard up riches, for the mean and scandalous satisfaction of looking upon them while they are living, and of thinking, that when they are dead it will be said of them, that they have left so many hundreds or thousands of pounds behind them; very probably, to inshare their children, or their heirs, (for the vanity is not peculiar to those who have children of their own :) or else, that they may lavish away their riches on their lusts, and drown themselves in a gulph of sensuality, in which, if reason be not lost, religion is soon swallowed up, and with it all the noblest pleasures which can enter into the heart of man. In this view, the generality of rich people appear to me objects of nuch greater compassion than the poor; especially as when both live (which is frequently the case) without any fear of God before their eyes, the rich abuse the greater variety and abundance of his favours, and therefore will probably feel, in that world of future ruin which awaits impenitent sinners, a more exquisite sense of their misery. §. 7. And let me observe to you, my dear reader, lest you should think yourself secure from any such danger, that we have great reason to apprehend, there are many now in a very wretched state, who once thought seriously of religion, when they were first setting out, in lower circumstances of life ; but they have since forsaken God for mammon; and are now priding themselves in those golden chains, which in all probability, before it be long, will leave them to remain in those of darkness. When therefore an attachment to the world may be followed with such fatal consequences, let not thine heart envy sinners *; and do not, out of a desire of gaining what they have, be guilty of such folly as to expose yourself to this double danger of failing in the attempt, or of being undone by the success of it. Contract your desires; endeavour to be easy and content with a little: and if providence call you out to act in a larger sphere, submit to it in obedience to providence, but number it among the trials of life, which it will require a larger proportion of grace to bear well. For be assured, that as affairs and interests multiply, cares and duties will certainly increase, and probably disappointments and sorrows will increase in an equal proportion. §. 8. On the whole, learn by divine grace, to die to the present world; to look upon it as a low state of being, which God never intended for the final and complete happiness, or the supreme care of any one of his children: a world, where something is indeed to be enjoyed, but chiefly from himself; where a great deal is to be borne with patience and resignation; and where some important duties are to be performed, and a course of discipline to be passed through, by which you are to be formed for a better state; to which as a christian you are near, and to which God will call you, perhaps on a sudden, but undoubtedly, if you hold on your way, in the fittest time and the most convenient manner. Refer therefore all this to him. Let your hopes and fears, your expectations and desires, with regard to this world, be kept as low as possible; and all your thoughts be united, as much as may be, in this one centre, What it is that God would, in present circumstances, have you
* Psal. lxix. 22. + Luke x, 42.