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and Impertinencies of their ordinary Life and Conversation, have the Guilt of destroying Souls, and that the Blood of those, whom their Follies have destroy’d, will be required at their Hands.
it is sometimes said of a foolish, irregular and vain Person, that he is only his own Enemy; but this is as absur'd as to say, that a Person of exemplary and eminent Piety, is only his own Friend; for as his lively Piety will certainly communicate it self to those about him, so the Folly and impertinent Spirit of an irregular Man, will naturally infect those who are oblig’d to be near him.
A MISTRESS whose daily Conversation is a daily Proof to her Maids, that she is govern'd by a Spirit of true Piety in all that she says and does, whose regular Life is a continual visible Labour to work out her Salvation with Fear and Trembling, is a Blessing to all that stand about her ; she communicates Happiness even to those who are born of her Servants; they will be educated in Piety, because their Parents learnt what Piety was, in waiting on such a Mistress.
A GOOD-NATUR'D, drinking, peeping, playing, swearing Master, is a Curse to those who attend upon him ; they are led into all Irregularities, by following his
Steps, Steps, and are sent into the World hardened in Follies, and insensible of Religion, by having lived with such a Master. This therefore ought carefully to be confidered by all Christians, as a mighty Encouragement to an exact Strictness and Regularity of Behaviour ; that as a holy Conversation entitles us to a Reward for other People's Virtues, so an evil Communication and the Folly of our Lives, makes us liable to a Punishment for other Men's Sins. For we can neither liye well or ill to our selves alone, but must of Neceflity do either Good cr Harm to others, by our Manner of Conversation. This is one great Reason why a vain corrupt Communication does so grieve the Holy Spirit, because it is so infecting an Evil, and does so corrupt the Manners of those that we converse with. This Doctrine of abstaining from corrupt Communication, that we may not grieve the Spirit of God, teaches us a high Aim and exalted Degree of Perfection, which is peculiar to Christianity. As Christianity lays the Design of uniting us to God, and raising us to a more intimate Participation of the Divine Nature, so we are to make the Spirit of our Religion, and the Greatness of its Designs, the Rule of our Perfection.
We must not only conduct our selves by Rules of Morality, but pursue such Degrees of Purity, as can only be expressed by an Imitation of God, and aspire after such Wisdom, as is suggested to us, by considering that we are Temples of the Holy Ghost, and must live like Beings consecrated by the Spirit of Wisdom. If we were frequently to consider the Holy Presence of this God within us, and to ask our selves, Does this Discourse, this Behaviour, become one who is to act according to the Inspirations of the Divine Spirit ? we should find, that the very Thought of this Dignity of our State, would determine feveral Points where no express Law condemns us; we should find such a Contrariety in many of our allowed Ways, to our Christian Greatness, to this Holy Spirit that is given unto us, as would sufficiently check our Behaviour, only by shewing us that we acted below our selves.
IT is common in Life to hear a Man say, this does not become a Gentleman, that does not become a Man of Quality: Now I would have us find out something like this in Religion ; for certainly if any State of Life has its Dignity, which can excite Men to a suitable Greatness of Action, surely the State of a Christian, which is a State of such relation to God, which unites us to his Holy Spirit, ought to raise in us a Desire of acting suitable to so exalted a Condition. For who can so justly be afraid of acting below himself, as he that is made one with Christ? Who can so reasonably think that he is never wise, or holy, or pure enough, as he that is to walk with God in the Light of his Holy Spirit, whose Soul and Body is made a sacred Temple for the Divine Presence ?
The Heathen Philosophers exhorted Man to reverence his Reason, as a Ray of the Deity; but we can go much higher, we can exhort him to reverence the Deity that dwelleth in him, and to act with such Purity, as becomes Persons that are inspired by the Holy Ghost.
This is the Improvement that we are to make of this Doctrine of Divine Grace; it must make us exact and careful of our Behaviour, that we may walk worthy of that Holy Spirit that dwelleth in us.
The Neceflity of Divine Grace,
obligethall Christians to a conftant Purity, and Holiness of Conversation; wherein is shewn, the great Danger, and great Impiety, of reading vain and impertinent Books.
HAVE shewn in the foregoing Chapter, that the Necesity of Divine Grace is a mighty Ar
gument for an univerlal Care anu Exactness of Life and Conversation. I come now to speak to one remarkable Branch of it; Let no corrupt Communication proceed out of your Mouth, but tkat wbieh is good to the Use of edifying, that it may minister Grace to the Hearers, and grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed to the Day of Redemption. Now if we are to let no corrupt Communication proceed