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agreement? Solomon hath long fince obferved that, he that walketh with wife men fhall be wife; but that the companion of fools shall be destroyed: which denotes, that if we defign any progrefs in virtue, we must frequent those, who are eminent examples of it, and avoid fuch fools, who make a mock at fin. Because,
Self-love is fo rooted in our nature, and we have that partiality to ourselves, that we do not see our miscarriages, at least not in their true light; and there- Why neceffore, it is neceffary fome charitable hand should make us fenfible thereof. So in many cafes, except we perform this duty, we cannot preferve ourselves from guilt; for those who are intrufted with any degree of authority, as magiftrates, parents, friends, and mafters, are anfwerable for thofe faults, which are owing to their encouragement or connivance. Moreover, all profeffions of friendship without the ufe of fuch freedoms, will be apt to degenerate into flattery; and it is in vain we pretend to be ready and willing to ferve our friends, when we neglect doing them that folid good, which the interest we have in them, qualifies us only to adminifter to them for their profit.
Mens natural pride makes them fo averse from hearing of their own faults with patience, and the great distance there is between the circumstances and conditions of men in this world, frequently increases the difficulty; many being fit to be reproved, whom yet every man is not fit to rebuke. Whereas, friendship is equal to it; tho' great regard must be had to time and circumftances, that this practice of piety and friendship may have it's defired end: there are fome inftances of reproof which the meaneft ought to practise towards the greateft; by never approving of their faults, nor being influenced by them to commit any fin. And the occafion ought to be weighty and important; and we should take care that our reproof be free from paffion or felf-interest, lest any other motive befides doing good should appear: the softeft language, and the most favourable circumstances ought to concur to make it of force. And again, we ought to be free from the fault we reprehend in others; or at least at the fame time we ought to condemn ourselves, that by exposing our follies we
may with the better grace rectify thofe of others; and we ought to mix due praises with our reproofs, that the roughnefs of the one may be abated by the emulation that is raised by the other expedient. Finally, we ought to fkin over the wound we have made, by applying good words and proper encouragements. And,
X. So in the choice of company, let us fix upon fuch as have virtuous and chriftian principles, and, who endeavour to fhew the effects of them, in their lives and converfations: for as men of no principles are unqualified for friendship, because they have no foundation to fupport it; fo men that act contrary to their good principles, give but a mean proof of their fincere intentions. Men fceptically inclined may endanger the firmness of our faith, as wicked men may the strength of our virtuous inclinations.
Choice of company in converfation.
This main point being fecured, and having fenced against the greateft danger of converfation; we ought to have a peculiar regard to the temper and difpofition of those we pitch upon for our conftant companions; for if they have a great deal of paffion, and a little share of fense, our freedom and friendship will expofe us to vexatious troubles. Let us be never fo much upon our guard, a great deal of fire will fometimes heat us; we may be provoked, and then we are the worfe for fuch companions.
It is commendable in the next place, to preAbilities of fer in your esteem those whofe learning and wifmind. dom, quickness and vivacity, may justly challenge a regard; fince they must be very agreeable entertainments, when good men of mild temper are the mafters of fuch abilities. This nearly concerns all good chriftians; for the contagion of vice is powerful, and their greateft fecurity is in ftanding at a diftance from it. The frailty of virtue is great; therefore, no caution fhould be omitted.
Young men when they appear in the world, It's impor- ought to have a particular regard to it, their future happiness depending fo much on the qualifications of thofe they converfe withal. It may be they have received good principles in their education; yet they want
practice to confirm the habits of virtue, and courage to resist the allurements of vice, when enticed by wicked companions. Do not we daily fee that they are apt to catch at any thing that indulges and countenances their inclinations? And why? Because when they want prudence moft, they have leaft of it: therefore it is happy when they will liften to the advice of their parents, or fome experienced friend, who is able to direct them in an affair of such consequence, both as to their prefent and future state.
For if they are not by degrees entirely corrupted, yet the horror they ought to have for fin, is very much abated by their feeing it frequently practifed. By 1 this they are led into uncharitable thoughts of their neighbours, whofe reputation in bad company is K never fpared, but loaded with injurious and contumelious fpeeches. Moreover, it makes their own duty difficult, for ! by not discountenancing fuch practices by one means or other, they may contract a fhare in the guilt of them, and embroil their own minds by reflecting, whether or no they did what became good chriftians upon fuch opportunities. Confequentły, fire may as well be taken into a man's bofom without burning, and pitch touched without defiling; as bad company frequented and delighted in, without partaking the bad effects thereof.
of bad com
Yet we are not only concerned, how to adopt and chuse a friend, but also how we are to behave with him : wherefore obferve, that the duties of friendshipare partake of eminently concerned in putting our friend in mind other mens when he tranfgreffes the laws of God; by reprefenting to him his faults, with the aggravations and confequences that attend them; that by a feasonable warning, he may be recovered to a right sense of things, and be preferved from that ruin, which otherways threatens his foul and body. Even that christian charity, we ought to have for the fouls of men, made after the image of God, and purchased by the precious blood of Chrift, which run great hazard of perishing without fuch faithful admonitions, inculcates this. For,
XI. We are not only obliged by the bonds of friendship, to admonish our brother of his fault, but to take great care we
do not fall into thofe crimes we at first have seen and blamed in him; this will be becoming partaker of another man's fins. For the partaking of other mens fins takers of o- is, when before any wicked action is committed,
How we become par
we are any ways knowingly aiding or abetting towards the committing of it: or when after it is committed, we are any ways approving or justifying of it, by either of which means we partake of other mens fins, though we are not the immediate actors therein. Thus fuperiors, as magistrates, masters, and parents, share in the guilt, by ordering or commanding any evil thing, or by not ufing their power to prevent and punish it; or by not expressly refusing to concur in fuch evil things as are proposed to be enacted by the confent of both parties. Minifters share in the guilt, by neglecting to teach others their duty, or by forbearing to warn their flock, as careful watchmen should, against approaching danger and temptation. Inferior officers fhare in the guilt, by miniftring in any unlawful business, helping it forward by advice and counfel, by furnishing provifions, or wishing for the fuccefs thereof. And friends are partakers of others fins, by concealing or countenancing them: and all others, by the influence of their own ill example, which is powerful in itself, but more fatal when the example is eminent for any qualifications of the mind; by approving a wicked thing after it is acted; inwardly delighting in it, which is to take part thereof in will and affection; by appearing to praise it, which fets off the wickedness, not only as innocent, but as worthy and honourable; by justifying and defending it, which in fome fense makes a man more guilty, than he that committed it; for that might be through the ftrength of temptation, and through the infirmity of paffion, the other is the effect of confideration and judgment: for every expreffion of approbation, in proportion to it's degree, puts the approver into the evildoer's cafe, and makes it his own act and deed.
SUNDAY XII. CHAP. XII.
I. Of Lying, Equivocation, Flattery, Jefts. II. Of Falle Witness, Reports, and giving of Evidence. III. Of Truth, Promifes, Backbiting, Envy, and Detraction. IV. Of Theft, Oppreffion, not paying of Debts, falfe Securities, fraudulent Compofitions, Bargains, Dealings. V. The juft Meafure in Dealing. VI. The Danger of evil-gotten Wealth. VII. Of Murder, the Wickedness thereof. VIII. When lawful to take away a Man's Life. IX. Of SelfMurder, in melancholy Perfons, in Prisoners. X. Of Duelling, Dif-membring, and Wounding, &c.
Right to truth is every man's natural birth-right, and we have as just a claim to truth, as we have to the air we breathe in. A lye confifts in the uttering a falfhood with an intention to deceive, tho' it should be fignified by nods or geftures: lying is a fin that would fly in the face of a heathen, because it directly contradicts those natural notions every man hath of God and religion; therefore we find that there is hardly any thing that men are more afhamed of, than to be taken in a lye; and it is esteemed the highest reproach to be charged with it: he that tells a lye out of fear, is at once bold towards God, and base towards his neighbour. Wherefore, God expreffeth himself highly offended, with those that practife lying and falfhood, and proclims a deteftation of them; lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. It renders us unlike to him; who should put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (or in the holiness of truth). We are members one of another, therefore lye not one to another; feeing that have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of God that created him: that is, because we profefs to be conformed to the image of God, and therefore we should charge ourselves with truth