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they are ready to receive assistance and advice as kindly as to give it: whether they preserve a delicacy of behaviour, a neatness of appearance, a gentleness of manner, a mildness of speech; whether they enter kindly and affectionately into one another's interests and concerns.
• Friends should consider what engagements they are entered into with each other, how strictly they are bound diligently to promote each other's welfare; to think of one another candidly and kindly; to overlook little offences; to bear infirmities; to repay kindnesses a thousand fold; to be watchful over each other's conduct; to be true, sincere, faithful, obliging, open, constant; and to have the generous courage of reproving and opposing each other's follies and faults.
All persons should consider to whom they are accountable for their time, their labour, the superfluity of their fortune; to masters, to friends, to society in general, to the deserving, or the helpless poor. Rich persons owe a due portion of their riches to works of charity and to the public; the great owe their protection to merit; and all people owe it to themselves, to improve every moment, and every opportunity, this life affords them.
Surely, while I am making these reflections, I cannot omit more literal debts, and more immediate duties. Do I owe money I am not able to pay ? Let me retrench every superfluous expense, till my real debts are paid : let me work and labour indefatigably, till I am enabled to be honest; and let me not be one moment easy, while I unjustly live on the expense of other people, and am hurtful to the society that ought to be the better for me.
It is worth considering, too, what promises I have made: were they ever so rash, if they engaged me in nothing contrary to innocence, it is my duty to fulfil them. Happy if it teaches me the wisdom to be more cautious for the future.
On the Happiness of the present State, and the Self
denial required in it.
“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Alas, does it not seem from this, and many other passages of Scripture, worthy of all observance and of all acceptation, as if it was our bounden duty in this world to lead a melancholy, wretched, uncomfortable life? And can this, in. deed, be the will of him who delighteth in mercy; who filleth our hearts with food and gladness; and has, in not a few places, expressly commanded us to « rejoice evermore?" Is there, then, an inconsistency in the duties of religion ? God forbid ! Yet, short-sighted men, capable of taking into one view but a part of the vast and perfectly consistent scheme of duty, and guided too generally by passion or weakness, are perpetually acting as if this was the case. Some free spirits there are, who throw off all lawful restraint; and fully satisfied with themselves if they keep within the widest bounds of what is just allowable, indulge without caution in every thing they think so: their whole time is given up to mirth and jollity: their whole fortunes,
perhaps, are spent upon themselves, without any regard to the calls of charity or duty. Jollily they go on in life, till some unforeseen misfortune stops them short, and throws a deep gloom over their sunny landscape.
Another sort of people, much to be esteemed and greatly to be pitied, are scrupulous about every thing, and, frighted by misapprehensions of some alarming texts, dare not allow themselves in the most innocent conveniences and most harmless, and, on inany accounts, useful and commendable pleasure : their minds are so truly pious, that they are far from deliberately thinking of the infinitely great and good God as a hard and rigid master; but they act with such a slavish fear, as must needs make those who are less well-disposed, frame such hor. ridly false imaginations of him : and their wellmeant strictness has the most dangerous tendency in the world.
Between these two extremes, undoubtedly, lies the plain path of duty; the narrow but not thorny road, that leads through the truest eomfort this life can afford, to everlasting happiness in a better.
The natural enjoyments of life are dispensed to us by a gracious Providence, to mitigate its natural evils, and make our passage through it not only supportable, but, at fit times and seasons, so far pleasant, as to make us go on with vigour, cheerfulvess, and gratitude; and to give us some kiud of earnest of what we are bid to hope hereafter; some kind of faint notion what happiness is; some sensible assurances, that there really is such a thing, though not to be, in any high degree, enjoyed on this side of the grave. Still it is a yet more merciful dispensation of the same fatherly care, that pain and imperfection, satiety and disappointment, should be so mixed up with all our best enjoyments in this low state of being, as to turn our chief aim and desire towards heaven. And let us not fear, unless we wilfully and madly throw ourselves into a giddy round of pleasures, on purpose to be intoxicated by them, Providence will mercifully interpose in the fullest tide of innocent prosperity, and make us, by some means or other, feel an emptiness and dissatisfaction in the best this world can give : especially may this be hoped by those who take care to keep their minds always open to such serious thoughts and right impressions as will perpetually present themselves, if not rejected ; and who reserve some leisure time in every day for reading and reflecting.
· Our Maker knows so well the weakness of our frame, that he hath not left it to us to inflict upon ourselves, merely by way of punishment, such sufferings as he sees it necessary for us to undergo : that task would be so hard a one, that he would by no means impose it upon us. No: he will take care himself, that we shall unavoidably feel and experience a great deal of that evil which sin introduced into the world ; and all he requires of us, is to support it as we ought. He requires