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cntinent devotion. To behave aright among men, acquaint yourself with the whole book of Proverbs : Solomon was a man of large experience and wisdom. And to perfect your directions in both these, read the Gospels and Epistles ; you will find the best of rules and the best of examples there, and those more immediately suited to the christian life.
- 4. As a man, maintain strict temperance and sobriety, by a wise government of your appetites and passions; as a neighbour, influence and engage all around you to be your friends, by a temper and carriage made up of prudence and goodness; and let the poor have a certain share in all your yearly profits; as a trader, keep that golden sentence of our Saviour's ever before you. Whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, do you also unto them."
5. While you make the precepts of scripture the constant rule of your duty, you may with courage rest upon the promises of scripture as the springs of your encouragement; all divine assistances and divine recompenses are contained in them. The spirit of light and grace is promised to assist those who ask it. Heaven and glory are promised to reward the faithful and the obedient.
6. In every affair of life, begin with God; consult him in evea ry thing that concerns you; view him as the author of all
your blessings, and all your hopes, as your best friend and your eternal portion. Meditate on him in this view with a continual renewal of your trust in him, and a daily surrender of yourself to him, till you feel that you love him most entirely, that you serve him with sincere delight, that you cannot live a day without God in the world.
7. You know yourself to be a man, an indigent creature and a sinner, and you profess to be a christian, a disciple of the blessed Jesus, but never think you know Christ or yourself as you ought, till you find a daily need of him for righteousness and strength, for pardon and sanctification; and let him be your constant introducer to the great God, though he sits upon a throne of grace. Remember his own words, John xiv. 6. “No man cometh to the father but by me.”
8. Make prayer a pleasure, and not a task, and then you will not forget nor omit it. If ever you have lived in a praying family, never let it be your fault if you do not live in one always. Believe that day, that hour, or those minutes to be wasted and lost, which any worldly pretences would tempt you to save out of the public worship of the church, the certain and constant duties of the closet, or any necessary services for God and godliness; beware lest a blast attend it, and not a blessing. If God had not reserved one day in seven to himself, I fear religion would have been lost out of the world; and every day of the week is exposed to a curse which has no morning religion.
9. See that you watch and labour, as well as pray; diligence and dependence must be united in the practice of every christian. It is the same wise man acquaints us, that the hand of the diligent, and the blessing of the Lord, join together to make us rich, Proverbs x. 4. 22. Rich in the treasures of body or mind, of time or eternity.
It is your duty indeed under a sense of your own weakness, to pray daily against sin: but if you would effectually avoid it, you must also avoid temptation and every dangerous opportunity. Set a double guard wheresoever you feel or suspect, an enemy at hand. The word without and the heart within, have so much flattery and deceit in them, that we must keep a sharp eye upon both, lest we are trapt into mischief between them.
10. Honor, profit and pleasure, have been sometimes called the world's Trinity, they are its three chief idols ; each of them is sufficient to draw a soul off from God, and ruin it for ever. Beware of them therefore and of all their subtle insinuations, if you would be innocent or happy.
Remember that the honour which comes from God, the approbation of Heaven, and of your own conscience, are infinitely more valuable than all the esteem or applause of men. Dare not venture one step out of the road of Heaven, for fear of being laughed at for walking strictly in it, it is poor religion that cannot stand against a jest.
Sell not your hopes of heavenly treasures, nor any thing that belongs to your eternal interest, for any of the advantages of the present life: “What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul."
Remember also the words of the wise man, He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man;" he that indulges himself in wine and oil, that is, in drinking, in feasting, and in sensual gratifications, shall not be rich. It is one of St. Paul's characters of a most degenerate age when.men become lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. And that'fleshly lusts war against the soul,' is St. Peter's caveat to the Christians of his time.
11. Preserve your conscience always soft and sensible ; if but one sin force its way into that tender part of the soul and dwells easy there, the road is paved for a thousand iniquities.
And take heed that under any scruple, doubt or temptation whatsoever, you never let any reasonings satisfy your conscience, which will not be a sufficient answer or apology to the great Judge at the last day.
12. Keep this thought ever in your mind. It is a word of vanity and vexation in which you live ; the flatteries and promises of it are vain and deceitful ; prepare therefore to meet disappointments. Many of his occurrences are teazing and vexatious. In every ruffling storm without, possess your spirit in patience, and let all be calm and serene within. Clouds and tempests are only found in the lower skies ; the heavens above are ever bright and clear. Let your heart and hope dwell much in these serene regions ; live as a stranger here on earth, but as a citizen of heaven if you will maintain a soul at ease.
13. Since in many things we offend all, and there is not a day passes which is perfectly free from sin, let repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, be your daily work. A frequent renewal of these exercises which make a christian at first, will be a constant evidence of your sincere christianity, and give you peace in life, and hope in death.
14. Ever carry about with you such a just sense of the uncertainty of every thing in this life, and of life itself, as to put nothing off till to-morrow, which you can conveniently do to-day. Dilatory persons are frequently exposed to surprise and hurry in every thing that belongs to them, the time is come, and they are unprepared. Let the concerns of your soul and your shop, your trade and your religion, lie always in such order, as far as possible, that death at a short warning, may be no occasion of a disquieting tumult in your spirit, and that you may escape the anguish of a bitter repentance in a dying hour : Farewell.
Phronimus, a considerable East-land merchant, happened upon a copy of these advices, about the time when he permitted his son to commence a partnership with him in his trade; he transcribed them with his own hand, and made a present of
them to the youth, together with the articles of partnership. Here, young man, said he, is a paper of more worth than these articles. Read it over once a month, till it is wrought in your very soul and temper. Walk by these rules and I can trust my estate in
your hands. Copy out these counsels in your life, and you will make me and yourself easy and happy.
The Vision of Mirza, exhibiting a picture of Human Life.
SPECTATOR, No. 159. 1. N the fifth day of the moon, which, according to the
custom of my forefathers, I always kept holy, after having washed myself, and offered up my morning devotions, I ascended the high hills of Bagdat, in order to pass the rest of the day in meditation and prayer. As I was here airing myself on the tops of the mountains, I fell into a profound contemplation, on the vanity of human life; and passing from one thought to another, surely, said I, man is but a shadow, and life a dream.
2. Whilst I was thus musing, I cast my eyes towards the summit of a rock that was not far from me, where I discovered one in the habit of a shepherd, with a little musical instrument in his hand. As I looked upon him he applied it to his lips, and began to play upon it. The sound of it was exceedingly sweet, and wrought into a variety of tunes that were inexpressibly melodious, and altogether different from any thing I had ever heard : they put me in mind of those heavenly airs that are played to the departed souls of good men upon their first arrival in Paradise, to wear out the impressions of the last agonies, and qualify theni for the pleasures of that happy place. My heart melted away in secret raptures.
3. I had often been told that the rock before me was the haunt of a genius; and that several had been entertained with that music, who had passed by it, but never heard that the musician had before made himself visible. · When he had raised my thoughts by those transporting airs which he played, to taste the pleasure of his conversation, as I looked upon him like one astonished, he beckoned to me, and by the waving of his hand directed me to approach the place where he sat.
4. I drew near with that reverence which is due to a superior nature; and as my heart was entirely subdued by the captivating strains I had heard, I fell down at his feet and wept. The genius smiled upon me with a look of compassion and affability that familiarized him to my imagination, and at once dispelled all the fears and apprehensions with which I approached him. He lifted me from the gound, and taking me by the hand, Mirza, said he, I have heard thee in thy soliloquies : follow me.
5. He then led me to the highest pinnacle of the rock, and placing me on the top of it, cast
thy eyes eastward, said he, and tell me what thou seest. I
see, said I, a huge valley, and a prodigious tide of water rolling through it.-The valley that thou seest, said he, is the vale of misery, and the tide of water that thou seest is part of the great tide of eternity.
6. What is the reason, said I, that the tide I see rises out of a thick mist at one end, and again loses itself in a thick mist at the other ? What thou seest, said he, is that portion of eternity which is called time, measured out by the sun and reaching from the beginning of the world to its consummation. Examine now, said he, this sea that is bounded with darkness at both ends, and tell me what thou discoverest in it. I see a bridge, said I, standing in the midst of the tide. The bridge thou seest, said he, is human life; consider it attentively.
7. Upon a more leisurely survey of it, I found that it consisted of three score and ten entire arches, with several broken arches, which added to those that were entire made up the number of about an hundred. As I was counting the arches, the genius
told me that this bridge consisted at first of a thousand arches ; but that a great flood swept away the rest, and left the bridge in the ruinous condition I now beheld it; but tell me further, said he, what thou discoverest on it. I see multitudes of people passing over it, said I, and a black cloud hanging on each end of it.
8. As I looked more attentively, I saw several of the passengers dropping through the bridge, into the great tide that flowed beneath it; and upon further examination perceived there were innumerable trap-doors that lay concealed in the bridge, which the passengers no sooner trod
upon, but they fell through them into the tide and immediately disappeared. These hidden pitfalls were set very thick at the entrance of the bridge, so that throngs of people no sooner broke through the cloud, but many of them fell into them. They grew thinner, towards the middle, but multiplied and lay closer together towards the end of the arches that were entire.
9. There were indeed some persons, but their number was very small, that continued a kind of hobbling march on the broken arches, but fell through one after another, being quite tired and spent with so long a walk.
10. I passed some time in the contemplation of this wonderful structure, and the great variety of objects which it presented. My heart was filled with a deep melancholy to see several dropping unexpectedly in the midst of mirth and jollity, and catching at every thing that stood by them to save themselves. Some were looking up towards the heavens in a thoughtful posture, and in the midst of a speculation stumbled and fell out of sight. Multitudes were very busy in pursuit of bubbles that glittered in their eyes and danced before them ; but often when they thought themselves within the reach of them, their footing failed and down they sunk.
11. In this confusion of objects, I observed some with scimitars in their hands, and others with urinals, who ran to and fro upon the bridge, thrusting several persons on-trap-doors which did not seem to lie in their way, and which they might have escaped had they not been thus forced upon
them. 12. The genius seeing me indulge myself in this melancholy prospect, told me I had dwelt long enough upon it: take thine eyes off the bridge, says he, and tell me if thou seest any thing thou dost not comprehend. Upon looking up, what mean, said I, those great flights of birds that are perpetually hovering about the bridge, and settling upon it from time to time? I see vultures, harpies, ravens, cormorants, and among many other feathered creatures several little winged boys, that perch in great numbers upon the middle arches. These,
said the genius, are envy, avaT