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P Boast 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 God, who is able to give all Things, and willing to give that which is better than all, even Himself. And why should the Strength and Beauty of your Person puff you up with Pride, when it is in the Power of a very little Sickness, to bring upon you extream Weakness, and Odious Deformity? If you be inclin'd to value your Wit and Address above due measure, remember from what Hand these come, and do not provoke the Giver by abusing the Gift.
Fancy not your self better than your Neighbours, for fear God, who knows what is in every Man, think the worse of you upon that account. Nay, value not your self even for what you have done well, for God judgeth not as Man judgeth; and what we often are highly satisfied with, he sometimes thinks not fit so much as to approve. If you be conscious of any any thing good in your self, think that the same or better Qualities may likewise be found in others : For while you allow their Excellencies, it will be no difficult matter to preserve a modeft Opinion of your own. There can come no harm of supposing every other Man better than your self; but the supposing any one Man worse than your self, may be attended with very ill Consequences
. The meek, says the Scripture, is refreshed in the mul- Psalm xxxvii. titude of Peace; but the Proud in Spirit Ifa. lvii. is like a troubled Sea, perpetually toft and driven by the fierce Commotions of Anger and Emulation, and Envy, and Disdain, which never suffer him to be easie and composed,
С НА Р.
CH A P. *VIII.
Against too general an Acquaintance, and inconveni
ent Freedoms in Conversation.
O Pen not thine Heart to every Man, but make choice of prudent and religious Persons to disclofe chy
Affairs to, Frequent not the Company Eccles. viii. 19. of young Men and Strangers; Flatter not the Rich, neither
affect to be seen in the presence 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 Acquaintance 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 are Unhappinefs to have but few Acquaintance, when thou hast so good Company as this always at hand.
Our Charity indeed should be universal, and extend to all Mankind: but it is by no means convenient, our Friendships and Familiarities should do fo too. We often find, that a Person altogether unknown to us, comes recommended by a good Character., which makes us passionately fond of his Acquainta nce; and yet this very Man, whenbetter known, 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 ingratiate our selves by a freer Acquaintance, frequently discover some isl quality in us, which makes us less acceptable. And therefore, in Prudence and Tencierness to our selves and others both, we should be fiparing in our Intima
cies; because it so very often happens, that the more perfectly Men are understood , the less they are esteemed.
T is a very valuable Advantage to live under the
Direction of a Superiour, and, whatever the Generality of Men think of the matter, more difficultand hazardous to Command, than to Obey. Many submit, more out of Neceflity, than out of any Principle of Duty or Choice; And, to such as these, this is a State of continual Torment. All they do is against the Grain, attended with constant Murmurings and Complaints; The Life of Slaves and Brutes, and not of Men, who should act with a Spirit of Freedoni. And this Native Liberty no Inferior attains to, till he have learnt to obey heartily, for God's, and Confcience®
ke. Whatever Post you form an Idea of, none will give you Quiet and Inward Content, equal witli that of a State of Subjection : Many have fed themi elves with fond Imaginations, how happy they should be, if they could change their Condition for a higher; but few, if any, who have actually made the Experiment, have found themselves at all the happier or eatfier for it.
'Tis true indeed, every Man's own Judgment is the proper Rule and Measure of his Adions, and he nce it comes to pass, that we are all best affected to them who are of the same Opinions with our felves. But Pris as true, that if God rule in our Hearts, we malli 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 compleatly 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 , 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
For a Man
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 Cafes happen, To refuse such Compliances, manifeftly betrays our own Self-conceit; and is not Constancy, but Obstinacy of Spirit.
C H A P. X.
Few Words are best.
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 lealt 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 pass;
folur that Mutual Conversation gives so great
withstanding we so feldom enjoy that Pleasure with and perfect Innocence; the true Account, I think is this, unde That we find our felves diverted' by Discourse, and ring
unbend our Thoughts from severer Studies : That
what we desire and are most fond of, or what we have Cai self
the greatest Aversion to, lies uppermost in our Minds and therefore we propofe fome Ease in discharging our selves upon thefe Subjects.
But how very seldom do we find that Ease we propofe by doing so ? For this outward Consolation mightily takes off from that inward and Spiritual Satisfaction, in which true Happiness consists. Therefore it is our Duty to Watch and Pray, and to fill up the
ty Spaces of Life, with these holy and retired Exerde
cises. And, if at any time the refreshments of Company be chofen, and convenient, a strict Guard should
be set upon our Tongues, that they utter nothing ਵft
amiss; but improve these very Diversions to the Edification of our felves, and them that hear us. Impertinent and lavish Talking is in iç 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 improving by it.