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as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous. And whereas the refusal of civil converse, in enquiring after one another's health, visiting at some times, and the like acts of kindness, is looked upon by some as a piece of strictness and perfection, it is quite 0therwise; for the very contrary is determined to be a piece of a perfection, by our great Lord and Master, who is the best judge, Matth. v. 47, 48. Andif ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others ? do not even the publicans ro ? Be therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect. The plain meaning of which is this, A Christian should be a man every way beyond others, and should have something peculiar in the whole of his conduct; but if ye deal only civilly and neighbourly with these of your own persuasion, with these who in every thing do jump with you, wherein do ye go beyond the publicans and sinners, the most signally impious wretches that the world can fhew again ? Even thieves and robbers will keep some correspondence and civility toward these of their own fort; but christian perfection calls for inore enlargement of loul, and requires that we carry obligingly to all, and perform, as occasion calls, all the duties of love, which comprehend certainly these of civil converse and neighbourliness, as the apostle puts beyond all question, i Cor. X. 27. If any of them that believe nat, bid you to a feast, and ye be dif posed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience fake. Thus we see ChriItians are allowed to converse civilly with these who are unbelievers. And indeed not to do so, has a tendency to bring the way of God into con: tempt, and 'to make religion to be evil spoken of, and is contrary to the very spirit of the gospel, and
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these many express commands which we have of adorning the gospel, and of conversing, so as thereby we may leave a testimony upon the cons sciences of men. Nay, it is to bear witness against God's goodness, and to rub shame upon our religion, as if it did narrow our fouls, and make us defective in these duties which it obliges us to abound in. But though what we have faid doth condemn the unchristian rigidity of some, yet it will not justify the unwarrantable choice of persons who have no religion, for our intimates, or for our ordinary and daily companions. No, we are obliged to guard against this. If we do this, we are out of our duty, and therefore have no reason to promise to ourselves God's protection. A person that walks, that ordinarily converses with such men, has reason to fear that the Lord may leave him to become like to them: and this intimacy, I fear, is what most of you are guiltty of..
2. I would ask you, What company do ye delight most in: This is a great indication of the frame of the heart. - A man that takes most pleasure in the company of irreligious persons, surely sins in it. Some, when they are in the company of the godly, carry it as if they thought themselves in fetters; and when ever they get out. of it, to their own companions again, their minds are at ease, and they find satisfaction; as a man doth that is loosed out of the stocks. Are there. none here whose consciences can tell them that they are of this number? Let such look to the I Plal. and I ver. and there they will see how far otherwise they ought to carry it.
3. I would further put the question to you, What converse do you delight in? Some, it may
be, like well enough the company of persons that are religious; but it is not for their religious converse, but because they are affable, discreet, learned, judicious, or have fome other such qualifications as these. If any of you say ye love the company of religious persons; is it for the religion of their converse? I fear few can say it. And therefore few can say they are clean in this matter." I shall not undertake to discourse of all the sins of converse: it were almost endless. Only I would, with respect to your converse, desire you every : night to put a question or two to your own hearts, and thereby you will discover much sin. (1.) Say, Tell me now, O my soul, what have I been doing in company? Have I bridled my tongue ? Have I kept it from vain, idle and fruitless difcourse, this day in company with others? James i. 26. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, that man's religion is vain: and consequently all he doth is sin. (2.) Have I endeavoured to be edifying in my discourse? Eph. iv. 29. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good, to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers. (3.) Have I spoken evil of no body? Tit. iii. 2. Put them in mind to speak evil of no man; for we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, etc. 1 Pet. ii. 1. Wherefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil Speakings, as new-born babes defire the fincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. One that would observe the ordinary converse of most part of people, would be ready to think, that either they never read or heard these laws, or that they never observed what they heard. Look to
yourselves here, and observe your own ways, and O what sin will appear in them! These three questions will discover almost innumerable fins every day: and if one day have so many, what will many days have ? Nay, how many sins in some months or years will you be guilty of ?- But,
4. If we proceed to consider you as you are related to others, we will be sure to make further discoveries of fin in your carriage. All of you ftand some one or more ways related to others; ye are either masters or fervants, parents or childrens, husbands or wives: now every one of these relations have peculiar duties belonging to them; and lay these who contract such relations, under peculiar obligations to walk according to the rules prescribed them of God: and therefore we may and do fin, in walking contrary to these divine prescriptions. We shall not attempt to mention the particular sins you may be guilty of in your several relations; this were a work that would almost be endless: therefore we shall only pitch upon some generals which may discover to your consciences that ye sin in all of them. (1.) I fay most of you do sin in contracting these relations. How few masters. dare say, That in the choice of their servants, they went to God for counsel? And how few masters can say, that ever they acknowleged God in the choice of their fervants ? Nay, it may, when ye have been anxi. ously desirous to have good servants, even then ye have not been at pains to consult God; not minding that gracious direction that is given by the Spirit of God, Phil. iv. 6. Be careful for nothing ; but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made knorun into God. Nay, is it not to be feared, That . . in the choice of husbands and wives, few do enquire the mind of God? Now, I am sure, if ye deal impartially with your own hearts, ye will find that here ye have sinned, and have not acknowleged God in your ways. (2.) Do ye seek direction of God, how to carry in your relations? I fear the consciences of many of you can tell, that ye never are at pains to enquire in reference to the duties called for at your hands. Most are quick fighted enough in observing the advantages or disadvantages that redound to their temporal concerns by these relations, but have never a serious thought of the duties called for at their hand; and therefore, herein ye may all in more or less find yourselves guilty. (3.) Do ye make it your aim to promote the spiritual advantage of your relations ? Servants, do ye pray for your masters? Masters, do ye pray for your servants, that they may be acquainted with God's ways? If not, fureJy ye fin; for prayers are to be made for all, but in a special manner for those in whom we have so peculiar concernment. Nay, we fear, which is yet more fad, that there are not a few husbands and wives, parents and children, who pray not 'for one another. How fad is it to think, that there should, in these relations, be so much care for the outward man, and so little for the inward ? The parent will teil himself night and day before the child want bread, and it may be fo will the child' do for the parent; and yet, it may be, never one of them spent an hour in wrestling with God a., 'bout one anothers eternal salvation. Are there no consciences here this day accusing any of fins in this matter ? Sure I am, there are here who have i ground sufficient for accusation. 5. We shall follow you into your closets, and