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on things below,' on things as low in their nature as their situation, and capable only of riveting your little soul to the earth, or carrying it still farther downward. When Popery was in vogue, the road to heaven was so taxed by those who took
upon them to mend it, that a poor man could hardly go to the charge of a journey thither. The way downward to an opposite place is now so crowded with wealthy and fashionable travellers, the accommodations of all sorts so very dear, and every little pleasure raised to so extravagant a price, that a man of middling circumstances cannot afford to make the jaunt, at least like a gentleman, if his skill and success in gaming are not extraordinary. This is probably the reason, why some, jaded with pleasure, and impatient of the expense, do, towards the close of life, contract with an undertaking priest, at a much cheaper rate, for a near cut the contrary way.
Awake out of sleep. Rouse your understanding; and consider, how little true wisdom is found in those who give the fashion; how they are bred up in pride, wantonness, and vice of every kind; how they are bogged in the thick clay of this world, how Christ hath told them, that it is as easy for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, as it is for them to enter into the kingdom of heaven;' how the apostle hath told us, tható not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called;' how David saith that, ‘man being in honour continueth not, but is like the beast that perisheth ;' how the rich, who die like other men, turn all of them preachers of this doctrine at the last, and cry out.' vanity and vexation of spirit,' as the true character of the lives they have led; how unable even the agonies of death, deepened by those of despair, are to find a tongue to express the hideous prospect of that which is to follow. God hath forbidden you to go in the way of evil men,' or so much as 'to enter into the path of the wicked, for their way is darkness,' so that “they know not at what they stumble,' nor that they lay wait for their own blood, and lurk privily for their own lives.'
But they prosper,' you say, and come not into trouble like other folks. Be not carried away with this appearance, to distrust Providence, or to-slight the service of God; but come hither into his house,' as David, under the same temptation did, and ye shall behold the end of these men.' His word which we here consult, will open your eyes, that you may see these men, formerly so prosperous in ungodliness, set in slippery places, and cast down into destruction. You shall then correct your ignorant doubts, and say to yourself, 'how are they brought into desolation as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors.'
* Christ's kingdom is not of this world.? Of his kingdom you profess yourself a member, from that day when you renounced the prince of this world with all its pomps and vanities. If you are really of Christ, you will despise those trappings of slavery to pride and folly, and lift your mind to a nobler kind of grandeur, the glorious grandeur of being truly religious, and of ardently loving God, at a time when it is become fashionable to forget him, and the effects of his goodness, even while we wanton in them. This is a greatness, which you may more easily raise yourself to, and preserve yourself in, than the wealthy can in theirs. This is true greatness, which no degree of poverty can hinder, which death cannot destroy, which all that are wise and good in heaven and on earth shall see, shall applaud, shall magnify Almighty God for in their hymns, while you are yet in your rags, and longing at the gate of Dives for the crumbs that fall from his table. "God sees your faith, your patience, your love of him in the midst of contempt and indigence; notes the honour your perseverance in these exalted graces does to him, and his religion, and marks the difference between that and the slight they cast on both, who are neither so contented nor so thankful for all their wealth, as you are in the midst of your poverty. At the very instant that the high heads of this world pass you by, as one beneath their notice, the angels, the principalities, the powers in heaven, look from their thrones on you and your triumphs, with a joy which all the raptures they feel, and all the glories they possess, cannot divert. Great is the kingdom of your Lord, , and great are you already in that kingdom, though so despicable here, where pride, folly, and ignorance prevail; and Satan reigns by permission for a time.
But fashionable as it is grown to forget God and contemn
his service, there are every where some among the great who, in spite of custom and numberless temptations, esteem it their highest honour to worship him at his house, and in their own, with a humility and constancy, equal to yours. These souls, ennobled by religion above their wealth and titles, shine down from the highest stations of life in all the lustre of piety, probity, and humanity. Kindle at the warmth, and pursue the light of these suns, and not the false lights, or contagious heats, of those, who being set on fire of hell, glare on you from above with malignant rays.
Consider with yourself, you to whom the customs of the world are yet a temptation, Is the folly of him who cunningly schemes his own confusion, the extravagance of him who pursues the ruin of his own fortune, the wickedness of him who labours to bring corruption on his own nature, remorse on his own conscience, and endless misery on his own soul; a fit object of your imitation? Can your reason reconcile itself to this? Can you hope for honour in following him, whom, with your own eyes, you see hastening to infamy? in being the ridiculous, despicable fool of fashion, and that only at second hand? Can even your pride stoop to this? If it can, how low, how abject a thing is that pride! How does your enemy at once insult the grossness of your stupidity by a snare so palpable, and tread your little soul into that dirt, which the parade of custom raises on the broad, the downward road of false honour!
It is certainly every man's duty to himself, who lives in the light of the gospel, to be guided by his own eyes, if he pretends to see at all; and not slavishly give himself up to the direction of others, who probably care very little which way they go; who perhaps are led themselves by such a train or succession of examples, as there is no tracing to any other original, than folly, it may be, wickedness, grown gray and venerable by length of time; or to pursue to any other end, than infamy and misery, made still more dreadful by the prospect of eternity.
Instead of following one another to ruin, let us beseech God to fix our imitation on the glorious example of our blessed Saviour; and, when through infirmity we fail, to accept of his merit and mediation for us, that our lives, though at an infinite distance, may follow his in virtue, and our souls ascend at last into those happy mansions which he is gone before to prepare for us. To him, in the unity of the ever blessed Trinity, be all might, majesty, dignity, and dominion, now, and for evermore.
HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD HUSBAND OR WIFE.
GENESIS II. 18.
The Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone : I will make
him an help meet for him. There is no one thing that shews so clearly the depraved and dissolute turn of the present times, as the growing distaste to matrimony, avowed by many, and the arguments, not less impertinent than the jests, made use of to spread that distaste among the young and giddy part of mankind. The tendency of both can be no other, than either to establish universal lewdness, or bring on a universal desolation. If those arguments have any truth in them, it can be only on a maxim that all, or almost all, the individuals of both sexes are too wicked to choose or be chosen into this state ; or else that a good man and a good woman had better live asunder than together. I say again, if those arguments are true, this world is a sort of hell rather than a place of trial; and if they are false, it is little better for listening to them, and acting on them, as it does.
But be this as it will, no human creature can subsist happily, if at all, out of society; nor can there be any such thing as society, to answer the end of a comfortable, not to say happy subsistence in this world, without matrimony. We may fairly therefore conclude, with God and nature to vouch it, that it is not good for man to be alone,' and that a young person of either sex must be cursed with very unhappy dispositions, or at least in other respects very particularly circumstanced, to be an exception to this rule.
And yet it must be owned that many matches are unhappy, that more are likely to be so; nay, and that few are blessed with that perfect satisfaction, which the state, rightly understood and embraced, is naturally qualified to afford, the parties themselves thus joined, expected from it. The libertine in principle lays this to the charge of the institution; and the women are blamed for it by the rake and the witling, to whom the more distinguished faults of that sex are nevertheless chiefly owing. But marriage is the institution of God, and, say what the irreligious will, is founded on, and fitted to, the nature God hath given us; so that to argue against it, is to commit a violence on nature, and to insult its Creator in one of his earliest and most universal laws. And to accuse the weaker sex with all the miseries of the married state, is in the event, nothing else but accus-, ing ourselves, who either by the bad education we give them, or by the wrong taste in us, to which they are, in some sort, obliged to accommodate themselves, make them what they are ; for it may be laid down for a rule, that, in general, women ever were, and ever will be, nearly what the men please they should be ; for so much as they are better, the unconquerable goodness and modesty of their own nature, humanly speaking, merits all the thanks.
No, the growing number of unhappy marriages is really owing to the erroneous notions entertained by most people concerning the state of matrimony itself, to the absurd or wicked customs of the world, to the foolish humours, the sensual desires, the pride, the covetousness of mankind, and in some places, to the ill-judged laws that have determined the civil rights and privileges of married people.
Few people know, and fewer still consider, that a married couple, though joined together on a footing of superiority in the husband and subordination in the wife, are one flesh or body; and that this body can have but one interest, one scheme of comfort and happiness, to which division and destruction are precisely the same thing.
Notwithstanding that this is the decree of God, as plainly written in our nature, as in his word, yet the customs of this world, equally foolish and impious, draw the man and his wife asunder, by the enticement of separate pleasures, satisfactions, and even interests; and this too strongly tends to