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gotten by them. Aristotle accounts, that the Profit which a Man gets by the Dice, and the Purchases that a Thief makes upon the Highway, are to be ranked equally among the unlawful Gains. And St. Augustine tells us, Bona aleâ amissa, tinquam furto ablata, Veteres refiituenda putabant; viz. The Antients were of Opinion, that Money won by Dice, or at Tables, &c. ought to be restored, like Money that was stolen.
I am sensible it will be a hard Matter to persuade all Men of the Truth of this. But however, I cannot but lay before them what the Sense of wise and good Men has been concerning this Affair. And whether all will believe this or no, I hope all fober Persons, who are either concerned for their Happiness in this World, or Salvation in the next, and who have any Regard either for their Estates, or Families, or Reputations, will keep out of this ungodly Course of Gaming, and will seriously apply themselves to such Ways of living, wherein they may be serviceable to their Families, to their Country, and to the Church of God; adorning their Profession by a holy and unblameable Life, that so their Souls may be saved in the World to come.
Of Diligence and Watchfulness in our
Christian Calling. How our Time is to be spent, and our Leisure improved, to useful Purposes. And particularly what Wisdom and Prudence Christians are to use in evil and dangerous Times.
[Delivered in Two Sermons.]
EPHES. V. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as · Fools, but as Wise, redeeming the Time,
because the Days are evil.
223327 HIS circumspect Walking which A l is here recommended, and re
deeming the Time which is laid down as an Instance of it, may
be interpreted two Ways. ift. It may either imply great Diligence and Watchfulness in prosecuting the Work
of our Christianity in general, and in order thereto, that we improve our Time to the beft Advantage, spending as little of it idly as is possible ; or,
2dly. It may imply Prudence, and Caution, and Discretion in the Management of ourselves and our Affairs with Reference to this World, especially in Times of Difficulty and Danger; that by this Means we may gain Time to ourselves, and avoid the Mischiefs that the evil Days threaten us with.
Each of these Interpretations, as it hath good Authority on its side, so doth it likewise afford uis useful Instructions; and therefore I shall reject neither of them, but in treating upon this Text snall take them both in, beginning with the Interpretation first mentioned.
St. Paul, in the former Part of this Chapter, is evidently exhorting the Ephesians, that laying aside all Wickedness and Sensuality, they would live a holy and a pure
Life ; and he doth it from this ConsideVer. 8. ration, that they had been sometime Darkgoes on in the Words before my Text) The Spirit of God faith, Awake thou that ficep- Ver. 14. eft, and arise from the dead, and Christ ball give thee Light. And then comes my Text, See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as v.15. Fools, but as wise, redeeming the Time, be- v.16. cause the Days are evil. Wherefore be ye nut v. 17. unwise, but under standing what the Will of the Lord is. As much as to say, it is the Will of the Lord that ye should awake from the Sleep of Sin; that ye should arise from Death to Life ; that ye should mortify your evil Habits and corrupt Affections, which have so long enthrall'd you; and live from henceforward a holy and a spiritual Life. This is it to which ye are called, and obliged by the Gospel. It therefore infinitely concerns you to look about you, to be very watchful of your own Actions, to be circumspect in all your Behaviour, to redeem the Time past, which you have spent in Vanity, by improving the Time present to the best Purposes, nay to catch at all Opportunities of advancing in Virtue and Goodness. (This is the Meaning of redeeming or purchasing the Time that is here mentioned). And so much the rather, because it is an evil and dangerous World ye live in. Ye have a great many Enemies to conflict with ; ye have a Torrent of bad Examples and Customs to struggle with; ye are surrounded with Temptations of all Sorts; so that unless ye
nefs, but now were Light in the Lord; therefore they ought to walk as Children of Light. They were heretofore in a heathen State, but now the Lighe of the Gospel did shine forth to them; and therefore it was an infinite Reproach to them if they did any longer pursue the unfruitful Works of Darkness. Wherefore (as the Apostle
be wonderfully careful of your own Conduct, and watchful over your Enemies, you are in great Danger to be run down, and lose all the Fruits and Rewards of your taking upon yourselves the Profession of Christianity.
This is the Account which some of the Interpreters give of this Passage. Now taking St. Paul's Precept of walking circumSpectly in this Sense, it contains in it these following Duties, or will oblige us to thefe following Particulars.
1. First of all we must look narrowly to our Hearts, that is to say, to our Purposes and Intentions. Whoever means to walk circumspectly, muft, above all Things, take care of his Designs, that they be well fixed and settled. If a Man live at random, having no Principles to act by, no steady Aims or Purposes to pursue, he is unprovided of all Defence, and exposed to the Assaults of every Temptation that comes in his way. I cannot say that his Guard is easily broken, for he has no Guard at all, but is like a Ship without a Rudder, carried away with every Wind; like a House without Lock or Bars, a ready Prey to the first Enemy that shall attack him. If therefore we mean to live to any Purposes of Religion, it is absolutely necessary that we should, in the first place, look carefully to our Hearts, so as to keep them always in a good Frame and Disposition.