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thee company. They are far better friends to thee, than those, who help thee to consume away thy precious time, and damn thy precious soul. They pity thee: they pray for thee: and will be ready to contribute their utmost assistance to thy advantage. Change thou but the lewdness and dissoluteness of thy life, and thou wilt quickly find them to be the most affable, courteous, and complaisant companions in the whole world.
ii. Must we withdraw from every one that walketh disorderly? LET THIS, THEN, SERVE TO BREAK ALL KNOTS AND COMBINATIONS OF WICKED MEN.
God, the great Master and President of all Societies, hath prescribed us the rules of our converse; which, if it be not regulated according to the measures he hath given us, is no longer to be called a society, but a confederacy and conspiracy against heaven. The first and chief thing to be regarded in all company, is, the company itself; which, if it be impious and debauched, we ought as carefully to avoid, as we would a common pest: for the Devil hath no such artificial method of insinuating vice into the minds of those, who are of ingenuous and iacile natures, than first to toll them into the haunt of wicked and lewd persons; for custom usually begets liking, and that imitation. Know, therefore, that it is thy indispensible duty to separate from all thy loose and ungodly companions, unless thou intendest to keep them company to hell, and there burn together in unquenchable flames. Think how these wretches, who now hug and embrace one another, will then fly in one another’s faces; and, with fearful outcries, charge their damnation one upon another: one, for enticing; the other, for consenting: one, for complotting; the other, for executing.
iii. Here SEE THE MISERY OF THOSE, WHO ARE WICKED.
God hath so low and vile esteem for them, that he not only thinks them unworthy of his presence in heaven, but of the converse and society of saints here on earth.
iv. LET IT BE FOR EXHORTATION, TO THOSE, WHO ARE TRUE CHRISTIANS, THAT THEY WOULD WITHDRAW THEMSELVES FROM ALL THAT WALK DISORDERLY.
The Motives and Arguments, which might persuade you to VOL. IV.
this, you have heard already. I shall, therefore, only give you a few Helps and Directions.
1. Get your hearts much off from those things, in which wicked and carnal men are permitted to abound.
For these are the baits, that draw and allure you to their company. There is scarce any person, who loves another, only because he is wicked; but because of some advantage and secular commodity, which he hopes and expects from him. Now when we can overlook all their temporal preeminences, their wealth, their honour and interest, and the like, from which we might expect any profit to ourselves, we shall not be in much danger of being inveigled by a person, who hath nothing to recommend him but his vices; nor by those vices, which have nothing to recommend them, besides their own deformity and ugliness.
2. Be as little beholden and engaged to wicked persons, as possibly you can.
. For the receiving of courtesies from them, will seem to oblige you in gratitude to converse with, yea and sinfully to humour them.
3. Let them see that you are persons of most undaunted courage and resolution; who will not be afraid of the face of any man alive, but will boldly reprove them as often as they dare to sin in your presence.
For this will be the means, either effectually to reform them, or at least to make thy company the less acceptable to them; and so to deliver thee from the danger of theirs.
v. Let me add one exhortation more : and that is, that THOSE, WHO ARE TRULY PIOUS CHRISTIANS, WOULD SO DEMEAN THEMSELVES, THAT ALL, WHO HAVE ANY INGENUITY IN THEM, MAY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THEIR COMPANY IS FAR MORE DESIRABLE, THAN THE COMPANY AND CONVERSE OF LEWD AND PROFLIGATE PERSONS.
1. Walk so, that men may see there is a reality in your principles, and that your practice is agreeable to your profession.
For this brings a great credit to religion, and is a beautiful and charming thing in the eyes of all. That man must needs render himself grave and considerable, who professeth what is true, and practiseth his profession.
2. Let them find an evenness and constant tenor in your life and conversation.
Be the same in your houses, as in the church; in private, as in public: for nothing doth so much ingratiate a man in the reverence and esteem of others, as to be constant and suitable to himself in all occurrences.
3. Epecially labour to outstrip wicked men, in those commendable things, wherein they seem most to excel, and by which they gain upon the affections of others to their ruin.
(1) Some wicked persons pretend to be very exact in doing the works of Justice, in giving every one their due.
And it is sad to consider, how they trample upon and triumph over the profession of religion, upon this very account; that many, who have pretended highly to it, have been found notoriously guilty of rapine, extortion, and deceit. Now, O Christians! gain this ground of them: and make it appear, that you are as just towards men, as religious towards God; that neither you, nor your Gospel, may be evil spoken of.
(2) They brag much of their Courtesy and Affability towards all.
And, indeed, by this very act, they draw many into their society and the snare of the Devil. Be you, therefore, kind and obliging; and use all the honest insinuations which you may, to win others, first to a love of your persons, and then of virtue.
(3) They boast much of Love and Agreement among themselves.
Which, though it be very false, yea and impossible, that those, who do not agree in God, who is Love, should ever cordially agree in loving each other: yet, because they maintain a kind of league and confederacy among themselves, whereby they draw others to join with them; therefore let true Christians, who are all united to Christ Jesus by faith, be likewise united one to another by love. Shall the members of Satan agree, and not much more the members of Christ ? Never cast that shame, either upon your Lord and Master, who is the Prince of Peace, or upon his Holy Gospel, which is the Gospel of Peace: but, by the endearedness of your mutual affection one to another, win over others to the obedience of the truth; who will be much the sooner persuaded to it, when they are once convinced, that, only in the society of true Christians, they shall find true friends, and such as will most sincerely and cordially love them.
(4) They boast much of their Charity and Good Works; how liberal they are in relieving the wants and necessities of the poor.
Let them not carry away this glory from you. But, as we have opportunity, let us do good unto all, and thereby lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven; till we come to our own, that is, our heavenly country, where we shall be repaid with abundant interest and advantage: where we shall converse with God and with Christ, with angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect: where we shall for ever be freed both from the contagion and trouble of wicked company: where we shall, with infinite joy and satisfaction, embrace the society of those good men with whom we have here taken sweet counsel together, without fear of disunion or separation, when both they and ourselves shall be made infinitely better.
SUBMISSION TO RULERS :
PREACHED AT CHRIST’S.CHURCH IN DUBLIN, JAN. 31, 1669.
FROM 1 PET. ii. 13, 14.
SUBMIT YOURSELVES TO EVERY ORDINANCE OF MAN FOR THE
LORD'S SAKE: WHETHER IT BE TO THE KING, AS SUPREME ; OR UNTO GOVERNORS, AS UNTO THEM THAT ARE SENT BY HIM FOR THE PUNISHMENT OF EVIL DOERS, AND FOR THE PRAISE QF THEM THAT DO WELL.
ERE nothing else required to a Day of Humiliation, but the solemnity of public sorrow and a sad review of former miscarriages; if a fast did only lay a tribute upon our eyes, and tears were the whole amercement of our crimes: I myself should have judged the text now read, much improper to the occasion; and should rather have chosen some of those passionate lamentations, that might have opened a fountain in every eye to flood this place, and turn it into a Bochim. But, because the best sorrow is amendment, and reformation the truest repentance, I therefore thought our most unfeigned mourning for a slaughtered monarch, would be to learn and practise our duty to the living
I believe there are none of us here, but do, from our very hearts, detest and execrate that horrid villainy, which we this day bewail; and account those hands accursed, which were so impiously embrued in the royal and sacred blood of their sovereign and God's anointed. Let us therefore testify our abhor- . rence of that bloody crime, by our present submission : and, by our cheerful obedience, if not expiate the sin and guilt; yet, in some measurę, redeem the credit and glory of these nations.
I have therefore pitched upon these words of the Apostle, Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake, &c.