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SERM. and in youth, are commonly copied from
those amongst whom we live; and the sub-
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
SERM. then suddenly blasted all the hopes, which
have been formed of them, by the fatal
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
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.