Billeder på siden

make a greater matter of it than you ought.-4. When your curiosity takes up more time in dressing than is due to so small a matter; while far greater matters are neglected.-5. When you make too great a difference between your private and your public habit, going plain when no strangers see you, and being excessively careful when you go abroad, or when strangers visit you.".

I would here say a word about recreations. And here again the world must not be imitated; for their amusements are generally vain, wasteful of time and expence, and often profane, brutal,* and ruinous. Religion, however, does not prohibit relaxation, where some valuable end is proposed. Reason claims relief from care: Religion answers, "Take no thought for to-morrow." Nature craves help: Religion says, "Take a little wine for thy stomach's sake."‡ The laborious mind asks for repose: Religion says, Why should'st thou destroy thyself?"§ Necessity calls to unbend the reins of intense labour and activity: Religion declares, "There is nothing better than that a man should make his soul enjoy good in his labour."|| Our amusements, however, must be rational, moderate, seasonable, cheap, healthful, and never of that na

[ocr errors]

* Who could have thought, that, in this refined age, a statesman in a christian country, before an assembly of protestants, could most earnestly defend the practice of bull-baiting, by saying, "That he thought there was less cruelty in bull-baiting, than in any other amusement; for both the bull and the dog experienced a pleasure in the contest?" Query, Would this gentleman have been satisfied, supposing. he had never any other pleasure than that which arises from pugilism or fighting a duel? + Matt. vi. 34. Ecc.ii. 24.

[ocr errors]

1st Tim. v. 23.

Ecc. vii. 16.



ture that would absolutely unfit us for duty. You will doubtless find many temptations here; and it will be constantly reiterated in your ears by the surrounding votaries of pleasure, that there is no harm. This they will apply to plays,* cards, midnight assemblies, gaming, and masquerades. But be sure to avoid them all, for they have the spots of death upon them. Alas! how many have they reduced to poverty, chained to a sick bed, ruined their character, loaded them with guilt, and at last tossed them into the grave! Flee, therefore, such beggarly pleasures; enjoy the blessings of life; seek recreation in that which is more manly, rational, and useful; and know that godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of this life, and that which is to come.†

Again, beware of imprudence. This has been the bane of many young professors. A right judgment, or that wisdom which enables us to judge what is best in the choice of ends and means, is of great utility, and highly desirable. Without this, we shall never be able to avoid extremes. There is nothing so disgraceful as to have it said, "Such a young christian has many ex

* Plays. A poet, who made no great pretences to virtue, and who well knew the qualities of the theatre, writes thus :

"It would be endless to trace all the vice

That from the playhouse takes immediate rise;
It is the unexhausted magazine

That stocks the land with vanity and sin.

-By flourishing so long,

Numbers have been undone, both old and young;
And many hundred souls are now unblest,

Which else had died in peace, and found eternal rest.”

1st Tim. iv. 8.


'cellencies, he is very zealous and active; but there is always something so imprudent, so forward, so out of place, that renders him offensive and disagreeable." Study, therefore, to obtain prudence; for whatever you have, if you are deficient in this, every thing will appear wanting. Whatever be a man's talents, situation, knowledge, connexions, or prospects, yet, if he be imprudent, he is exposed to the greatest evils. A man may be well proportioned, beautiful, strong, and healthy; but if he wants the faculty of vision, he is in danger of falling. So prudence may be considered as the eye of the mind, by which we see the evils that are to be avoided, the good that is to be obtained, and the best means to be used in both. It is this that prevents things from being carried to an excess. Thus, for instance, without this, piety degenerates into superstition, faith into presumption, zeal into rashness, and justice into cruelty. It was said of Charles XII, "that he had but one vice; and that was, carrying all his virtues to an extreme." Prudence

keeps every thing in order. The beauty of an action is often lost by its being out of season. They who do not observe time, place, character, and circumstances, generally produce the utmost confusion to themselves, and to all around them. They are always in trouble, complaining or complained of; and have to do over again a number of times, what, if prudence had dictated, need but have been once done. "A prudent man," says Solomon, "looks well to his going."


* Prov. xiv. 15.

observes the various duties which devolve upon him, the manner in which they are to be discharged, the season when, and the probable consequences that must follow. Remember then, my dear reader, that to all your knowledge you must join prudence. It is this that will make you shine as a member of civil society, render you capable of managing your temporal affairs with propriety, raise your credit and reputation in life, be a source of pleasure to yourself, adorn your profession as a christian, and render you far more useful than you otherwise possibly could be. On the contrary, remember, none is likely to be so dangerous as the imprudent man. Let us draw his character, and then you may sit down and contemplate how you may best avoid imitating such a deformed picture. He is one who never thinks before he speaks: whatever first comes across his mind, it is proclaimed without the least attention to time or place. He never discriminates characters, and seldom weighs opinions in the balance of deliberation. True, he is called good natured by many; but it leads him to negligence of himself, and exposes him to the rapacity of others. He is fond of new connexions, and thinks the last he has formed are always the best. If a new plan strikes him of any kind, he precipitately goes to work, and, without considering the difficulties and costs, endeavours to raise the superstructure; but he has no sooner done it, than he is told it answers but little purpose; when he leaves it for others to write folly on the door. He is often silent when he should speak, and talkative when he should be silent. He is generally in the way when his company is not desired, and not to be found

[ocr errors]

when his presence is requested. He has a memory to recollect things that nobody wants to know, and a readiness to make observations on subjects no one wishes to hear. He never foresees the day of evil, nor ever prepares against the gathering storm. To give a finishing stroke to his character in the language of scripture," he layeth "he open his folly, and this is his inheritance:† he believeth every word,‡ passeth on his way, and is at last punished."

Farther, beware of a careless unwatchful spirit. It is well to stand prepared for attacks from various quarters. We live in a world where we are exposed to continual vicissitudes. We know not what a day may bring forth. Man is born to trouble, and though we are not to increase it by anticipating it, yet it is the part of wisdom to prepare for it. It is of no consequence what our situations are in life, for it is all deception to imagine there is any one place this side the grave, where the bitter streams do not sometimes flow. They reach as high as the throne, and extend as wide as the universe. The palace is inundated as well as the cottage; nor does piety itself exempt. "A good man is subject like other mortals to all the influences of natural evil; his harvest is not spared by the tempest, nor his cattle by the murrain; his house flames like others in a conflagration, nor have his ships any peculiar power of resisting hurricanes." Moreover, we are assured that many are the afflictions of the righteous;"¶ so

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« ForrigeFortsæt »