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!! Boaft nọt of Riches, because they are in your pre
sent poffeffion; nor of Friends, because they have
Power and Interest ; but if you will glory, glory in to God, who is able to give all Things, and willing to La give that which is better than all, even Himself. And twhy should the Strength and Beauty of your Person n puff you up with Pride, when it is in the Power of s a very little Sickness, to bring upon you extream et Weakness, and Odious Deformity? If you be inclin'd m to value your Wit and Address above due measure, i remember from what Hand these come, and do not i provoke the Giver by abusing the Gift. il - Fancy not your self better than your Neighbours,
for fear God, who knows what is in every Man, think
::. . CH A P. *VIII. Against too general an Acquaintance, and inconveni
ent Freedoms in Conversation. Pen not thine Heart to every Man, but make choice J of prudent and religious Persons to difclose chy Ecclus.viii. 19.
Affairs to, Frequent not the Company
19. of young Men and Strangers; Flatcer not the Rich, neither affect to be seen in the prefence of great Men: but associate thy self with the Devout, the Virtuous, the Humble; and contrive that thy Discourse be profitable. Defire not the intimate Ac quaintance of Women; but, instead of thy Converfation, let them have thy Prayers : and recommend the Preservation and the Reward of their Virtue to God. Converse as much as may be with God, with his holy Angels, with thy own Conscience; and complain not for want of Company, nor think it art Unhappiness to have but few Acquaintance, when thou hast so good Company as this always at hanit.
Our Charity indeed should be universal, and extend to all Mankind: but it is by no means convenient, our Friendships and Familiarities should do fos too. We often find, that a Perfon altogether unknown to us, comes recommended by a good Character, which makes us passionately fond of his Acquaintance; and yet this very Man, when better kņown, loses the great Opinion we conceived of him before, and grows palled and flat upon our Hands. And this we may be sure is no less likely to prove our own Cafe: For the Persons with whom we hope to ingratikte our selves by a freer Acquaintance, frequently discover some ill quality in us, which makes us less acceptable. And therefore, in Prudence and Tencerness to our selves and others both, we should be fuparing in our Intima
cies; because it so very often happens, that the more perfectly Men are understood, the less they are esteemed. . .
C. H A P. IX
Duty or Cht Neceffity, than to Obey. ne difficultand
YT is a very valuable Advantage to live under the
'Tis true indeed, every Man's own Judgment is the
not think much to recede from our own Sense in some . Cases, when Peace and the Publick Good may be pro-i
moted by such Concessions. For who is so absolutely and conipleatly Wise, that nothing escapes his Knowledge? If then our Knowledge be but partial and imperfect, 'tis but reasonable, we should not abound too much in our own Sense, but allow a fair Hearing at least to those who differ from us. And in such Cases a Man gains a great Point, when he knows himself in / the right, and yet in Tenderness and Charity can comply with the Infirmities or Mistakes of others, rather than offend God, by being too tenacious of his own better Judgment. ·
I have frequently been told, That it is much safer to take Advice, than to give it. For a Man may have considered and determined well ; and yet there may be some Cases, which may make it reasonable to depart from that Determination, and give our selves up to be determined by other Persons. And when these Cases happen, To refuse such Compliances, manifestly betrays our own Self-conceit; and is not Constan: cy, but Obstinacy of Spirit.
Cafes determined termination, be it reato
C H A P. X. .
Ecline Crowds and Company as much as convé.
niently you may. For frequent Discourse,even of News or indifferent Things, which happens upon such Occasions, is sometimes an Obstruction to Virtue when least intended or suspected so to be. The World and its Vanities easily take hold of us, and our Minds are ensnared and captivated, before we are aware. How often have I found reason to wish that I had not been in Company, or that I had said nothing, when : I was there ? If we examine, how it comes to pals;
that Mutual Conversation gives so great Delight,notim withstanding we so feldom enjoy that Pleasure with di perfect Innocence ; the true Account, I think is this, we That we find our felves diverted by Discourse, and in unbend our Thoughts from severer Studies : That
what we desire and are most fond of, or what we have in the greatest Aversion to, lies uppermost in our Minds; " and therefore we propose some Ease in discharging our selves upon these Subjects.
:, But how very seldom do we find that Ease we pro. "pofe by doing so ? For this outward Consolation mighir tily takes off from that inward and Spiritual Satisfacti
on, in which true Happiness consists. Therefore it is our Duty to Watch and Pray, and to fill up the emp
y Spaces of Life, with these holy and retired Exercises. And, if at any time the refreshments of Company be chosen, and convenient, a strict Guard should be set upon our Tongues, that they utter nothing amiss; but improve these very Diversions to the Edification of our felves, and them that hear us. Impertinent and lavish Talking is in it self a very vicious Habit, and a wretched Hindrance to our Spiritual Proficiency. And these two Considerations ought to make us extreamly cautious in our Conversation. But it is the Privilege of Virtuous and Religious Dif course, that Piety and Goodness are wonderfully promoted by such Conferences. And then especially, when Persons of the like heavenly Spirit and Temper frequent one anothers Company with a Design of im. proving by it.
Elabit, and avith Talkind them thiverfion
CH A P.