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SERM. and in youth, are commonly copied from
XXII.

those amongst whom we live; and the sub-
sequent periods of life usually take colour
from the habits which we have acquired
during those early seasons. Though the
genius and the understanding may be de-
rived from nature, it is education, for the
most part, which forms and fashioneth the
heart; by education, I not only mean that
portion of it, more properly so called, the
instructions, the counsels, which we receive
from parents and masters, but those les-
sons, likewise, which we imbibe, in some
measure, from all who are suffered to ap-
proach us-lessons which are derived from
a much more efficacious source than formal
precept—from familiar conversation and
example. What we are taught, however
wise, virtuous, and prudent, will have little
effect on us, if it be contradicted by what
we see; in vain does a father instil into his
son the purest principles of morality-in

If a

vain does he exhibit, in his own conduct, a SERM.

XXII. pattern of the most perfect obedience to them, if his house and table be open to vicious inmates, and his children permitted to be spectators of their excesses. young person perceives that vice is no exclusion from the countenance and familiarity of those whom he has been accustomed to honour, it cannot but greatly diminish the abhorrence in which he has been taught to hold it. But though it is in the earliest periods of life, when the principles are unfixed and the mind open to every impression, that bad company is chiefly dangerous ; there is no tine in which it can be frequented with security. Many have begun the world with the greatest applause, have afforded :o their anxious friends the fairest prospects of them have even arrived at a mature period of manhood, without a material deviation from the path of virtue, and have

then

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SERM. then suddenly blasted all the hopes, which
XXII.

have been formed of them, by the fatal
prevalence of bad company. Besides the
tendency in man, already noticed, to imi.
tatę what he constantly sees, there is yet
another cause of danger to the morals,
from profligate associates. It is the pro-
perty of vice to endeavour to draw over
to its party all who come within its influ-
ence :--the libertine, the drunkard, and all
tae other votaries of profligacy, have ever
taken delight to render others as wicked as
themselves; to compass this point, they
spare no arguments, no solicitations :
the cons of virtue, I fear, are not half so
anxious to make converts as the children
of dariness to make apostates. Let not
him, therefore, who has not sufficient self-
denial to decline the society of the vicious,
flatter himself that he shall have sufficient
fortitude to withstand their temptations ;
more particularly when supported, as they

always

always are, by the shafts of ridicule. If he SERM.

XXII. preserve his integrity, his escape is miraculous; his temerity merits not that he should :-for who does not deserve the fate he experiences, who unnecessarily exposes himself to a danger from whence little less than a miracle can rescue him without destruction ? Let me not, however, be mistaken ; I do not mean that any such inevitable hazard is incurred by our accidentally falling into the society of the profligate; or that, on account of the uneasiness we occasionally undergo in their company, we should therefore altogether avoid it; for if this were required of us, we must needs, as St. Paul observes, go out of the world; we must abstain from all intercourse with mankind whatever ; and besides, there would be a want of charity in such extreme caution, for if the vicious were driven to herd with themselves, exclusively, all hope of their re

forma

SERM, formation would be done away. Vice, XX.

though sufficiently infectious, is not, I trust, by those at all well principled, to be imbibed at casual interviews ; what I wish you to guard against is a fondness for a delight in the society of vice, whatever seducing attractions it may possess—and against an intimacy, a close connexion with the vicious; you may perform, with safety, the offices of civility and neighbourhood to them, but you are not to take them for intimates; if you do, be assured that

you will one day, in the bitterness of your heart, lament it, when you attribute to them, as you justly may, one or all of these calamities-the ruin of ter—the injury done to your fortune-the interruption of your quiet—the perversion of your morals-or (which God forbid) the loss of your eternal salvation.

your charac

SERMON

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