Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Man, that is put to his Shifts in his strait and indigene Condition, though he be honestly inclin'd, will find it no easy thing to continue Just and True, when he has an inviting Opportunity, First, To supply his Wants by Fraud and Rapine; and then to defend his Title to his Stolen Goods by a false Oath. He will also be prone to harbour a malevolent Envy towards those whom he dares not Injure. But the Temptations of the Rich and Great, are more numerous and considerable. The abundance of their Wealth and Honour frequently begets Pride, vain Considence^ tmperiousness, Oppression, Idleness, Luxury, Sensuality, Forgetfulness of God, Contempt of Men. They that swim in a Sea of Plenty, flowing with all the Enjoyments that the greatest Store and variety of Creatures can afford, are commonly so taken up in the Fruition of them, that they have hardly room left for any serious Thoughts of the Almighty Creator: And though it be a strange unnatural Consequence, it is often seen, that by the multitude of the Benefits, the Benefactor becomes the Jess Regarded. God made Jefliurun to ride upon the high Places of the Earth, that he might eat the increase of the Fields'. He made him to fuck Honey out of the Rock, and Oil out of the flinty Rock. He gave him Butter of Kine to eat, and Milk of Sheep, with Fat of Lambs, and Rams of the Breed o/Bashan, and Goats, with the fat of Kidneys of Wheat, and the pure Blood of the Grape for his Drinh But when Jefliurun waxed Fat, he kicked, and when he was grown thick and covered with Fatness, then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of hit Salvation, DeUt. 32. 13, 14, 15.

Both Ancient and Modern Inquirers into the Errors of Mankind, have observ'd, that many of the ungo,» vernable Passions and Sallies of Youth, many of thdse extravagant Caprices, wild Fancies, and unreasonable Appetites, which infest that Season of Life, Wither and Perish in the Embrio, where they are check'd by at narrow Fortune, and a mean Estate: But where ther«. is Wealth to enliven them, that commonly Hatches

B 4 and

[graphic]
[graphic]

and Fledges the unhappy Brood. Those Projects of Pleasure and Lust, Ambition and Vanicy, foolish Amours, and uncontrollable Liberties, which are too of-, ten the Objects and Entertainments of young Minds, are apt to start out and flourish in the Sun-shine of Earthly Grandeur and Prosperity, and will carry on a Persou in these Circumstances, unless he resolutely suppresses them, to higher degrees of Sin than can ordinarily be practis'd, by those in a meaner and obscurer State. ,.

The poor Labouring People are kept from the Excesses and Irregultrities of a licentious and disorderly Life, by the emptiness of their Purses, the smallness of their Stores, and the necessities of their Condition. They are djily exercised under a sort of good Disci-, pline both of Mind and Body, by the Care they are forc'd to take, and the Pains they must undergo to ges a Lively hood, which makes them ordinarily more Humble in their Behaviour, and more sparing and moderate in the gratification of their Appetites. But it is a Work of considerable difficulty for a Rich Man, especially for a Rich Young Heir, to lay a just restraint upon his Desires, and contain himself within the Bounds of a Regular and Vertuous Life. His Passions are raised by the warm Blood and Spirits within him, and the abundance of his External Goods affords him the means of obtaining almost? every thing that he hath a mind to, or that can any way please his Humour or Fancy. And when it is thus in his Power to command all the Delights of Human Life, and all the Enjoyments both Lawful and Unlawful, that this World can afford; in the midst of so many and various diverting Objects, and in the full Tide of his Youthful Inclinations, as it will be hard for him to raise in himself any great Desire, or so much as hearty Willingness to exchange his Earthly Paradise for the Heaven above, so he will not easily discern the Use and necessity of those Graces and Virtues that qualify him to be an Inhabitant of that high -,iv...fi ['...: ,:. iull--,-. . ...-. 4j and

and holy Place. How many are there both Young and Old, that have little or no Sense of their needing the support of Faith, or the belief of another World, while they are more than well enough' content with the large Portion they have in this ? Such Persons seldom see the use of dependence upon God, and daily imploring,his Blessing and Protection } "but they make their Wealth their strong City and'as'a^h'igh Wall in their own conceit, Prov. l8.ii. As1 if their Station were* such, that they could defy thecOmriioii Events of Providence to reduce them to a mean GorlA dition. And when they tlfiis trust in their [Wealthy and boaft themselves in the multitude of their Riches ; as the Psalmist speaks, their inward thought is, that their Houses Jhall continue for ever, and their Dwelling-pUc'es to all Generations, Psal. 49. 6, 11.

I confess indeed Riches are really God's Blessing, and if rightly employ'd, may administer not only the Lawful Delights and Comforts of Nature, but the Means and Opportunities of eminent Virtue',. as I shall afterwards shew. This great World, With' all the Parts and Creatures of which 'tis Composed, and the Plenty and Pleasures it affords, has an inherent Goodness imparted to it in its Original Formation, whereby it may be useful to Man, both in the Support of himself, and the Service of God. There is no la^ tent Contagion in the Nature of Thiogst that are agreeable and delightful to our Faculties:'Neither do they pervert the Minds of Men from any noxious Qualities of their own, but as they are corrupted by the Concupiscence and vicious Affections of those that possess them. The Pbyson is not in the Floiver, but the odoriferous Vapour is by the maligVrity of the* Spider, converted into Venom, while the Bee draws Honey from it. 'Tis evident both from the Records of History, and the visible Instances of the present Age, that Holy and Virtuous Men have enjoy'd fair Estates, and all variety of Temporal Bles

B 3 sing? sings, vei'y innocently, and have become more Holy in themselves, and more Beneficial to others by such Enjoyments,. But yet let our Young Gentry remember,, that the managery of great Wealth is so nice and hazardous, that in very many it occasionally produces, much Evil, and sometimes becomes the most mischievous Instrument of Sin ,■, upon which account Our'Saviour stiles it the* Mammon of Vnrighteoufmfs^ Luke 16. 19. And daily'Experience shews how har4 it is; for the Great and Rich not to pervert and abuse their Wealth some way or other; either by Arro-? gaace and vain Glory, or by carnal Confidence, or by potent Injustice, or by Riot and Voluptuousness, or at least by an undue complacency in their Posleflionsj and an immoderate Affection for them., v

There are four Things, which create Difficulties to all Persons of what Rank soever, in embracing and practising Religion; and these are

The Depravity of corrupt Nature, The Power of evil Customs. . ;! The Allurements of the World.

The Temptations of Satan. , !i

The two first of these are as great Obstacles to the Young Gentry in their way to Heaven and Happiness, as they are to any other sort of People; but the twq last are greater.

1. They come into the World with the fame De* pravity and Corruption of Nature, with which all the rest of Mankind are infected, and have the fame Indisposition from within towards Holiness and Virtue, which other.s have. Those that are honoured for their Birth, and Blood, and high Descent from Noble Progenitors, are conceived and born in Sin, as well as the meanest of Human Race, and have by Nature the like Propensions toEvil and averscness toGood,and the fame hard Task to resist and overcome those innate Propensions and Aversions. Every Son and Daughter of sinful Adam, however dignified or distinguiihed in out, '. \ warcj

ward Respects, has a laborious and painful Work within their own Souls, to oppose and withstand, to flibrtify and destroy the corrupt Inclinations, with which their Natures are polluted. Whoever, will be a'Disciple of Christ, must crucify the Fitfi, with tht uiffe&ions and Lkftsy and cut off the right Hands, and fbHc\ em the right Eyes that offend. He must abandon his most beloved Sins,and endeavour to extirpate even those Vices which are most Natural and Delightful. And as this is an irksom Employment, a kind of waging War against onr selves, so no Priviledge of Natural Birth, even Where there is the highest Parentage, can either exempt. anyChristian from engaging in this difficultWarfare,or make it become more easy to him.

2. As for vicious Customs, 'tis certainly as hard for the Sons of Nobles to hreak them off", as 'tis for the Children of Peasants ; and the particular Habits which many of them contract, make it harder. Those that are born to great Estates, being many times bred up and indulged too long in Ease and Pleasure, get such Habits of Idleness and Voluptuousness, that they will not take the pains to overcome their evil Inclinations. And they are the more indisposed to all Earnestness of Endeavour in the Business of Religion, because they have not been very much accustomed to Labour or Diligence about any Matter. There are few thus delicately Educated, that will give themselves the trouble to read a Book of Advice, or to hearken to any good Instruction ; unless it be insinuated with great Artifice, add surprizingly convey'd, in the agreeable Vehicle of some ingenious Apologue, or witty Poem. Such Persons have hardly the Patience to consider the most important and weighty Counsel, or any thing else that requires Thought and Attention.

If we search into the Reasons, why some People of Fashion are distinguished from their Inferiors, as much by their Vices, as by their Birth and Quality, we canapt ai?rib? \t to a greater Depravity of Nature in

B * them;

« ForrigeFortsett »