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Take away this rule from our tables, and all falls into gluttony and drunkenness. Take away, this measure from our dress and habits, and all is turned into such paint, and glitter, and ridiculous ornaments, as are a real shame to the wearer. Take away this from the use of our fortunes, and you will find people sparing in nothing but charity Take away this from our diversions, and you will find no sports too silly, nor any entertainments too vain and corrupt to be the pleasure of Christians.
If therefore we desire to live unto God, it is necessary to bring our whole life under this law, to make his glory the sole rule and measure of our acting in every employment of life. For there is no other true devotion, but this of living devoted to God in the common business of our lives.
So that men must not content themselves with the lawfulness of their employments, but must consider whether
they use them as they are to use every Colloss. iii. 1. thing, as strangers and pilgrims, that are 1 Pet. i. 15, baptized into the ressurrection of Jesus 16,
Christ, that are to follow him in a wise Eph. v. 26, 27. and heavenly course of life, in the morti
fication of all worldly desires, and in puri
fying and preparing their souls for the blessed enjoyment of God.
For to be vain, or proud, or covetous, or ambitious in. the common course of our business, is as contrary to these holy tempers of Christianity, as cheating and dishonesty.
If a glutton was to say in excuse of his gluttony, that he only eats such things as it is lawful to eat, he would make as good an excuse for himself as the greedy, covetous, ambitious tradesman, that should say, he only deals in lawful business. For as a Christian is not only required to be honest, but to be of a Christian spirit, and make his life an exercise of humility, repentance and heavenly affection, so all tempers that are contrary to these, are as contrary to Christianity, as cheating is contrary to honesty.
So that the matter plainly comes to this; all irregular tempers in trade and business, are but like irregular tem pers in eating and drinking
Proud views and vain desires in our worldly emploýa. ments, are as truly vices and corruptions, as hypocrisy in prayer, or vanity in alms. . And there can be no reason given why vanity in our alms should make us odious to God, but what will prove any other kind of pride to be equally odious. He that labours and toils in a calling, that he makes a figure in the world, and draws the eyes of people upon the splendour of his condition is as far from the pious humility of a Christian, as he that gives alms that he may be seen of men. For the reason why pride, and vanity in our prayers and alms renders them an unacceptable service to God, is not because there is any thing particular in prayer and alms thať cannot allow of pride, but because pride is in no respect, nor in any thing made for man: it destroys the piety of our prayers and alms, because it destroys the piety of every thing that it touches, and renders every action that it governs, incapable of being offered unto God.
So that if we could so divide ourselves, as to be humble in some respects, and proud in others, such humility would be of no service to us, because God requires us as truly to be humble in all our actiorrs and designs, as to be true and honest in all our actions and designs.
And as a man is not honest and true, because he is so to a great many people, or upon several occasions, but because truth and honesty is the measure of all his dealings with every body; so the case is the same in humility, or any other temper, it must be the general ruling habit of our minds and extend itself to all our actions and designs, before it can be imputed to us.
We indeed sometimes talk, as if a man might be humble in some things and proud in others, humble in his dress, but proud of his learning, humble in his person, but proud in his views and designs. But though this may pass in common discourse, where few things are said according to strict truth, it cannot be allowed when we examine into the nature of our actions.
It is very possible for a man that lives by cheating, to be very punctual in paying for what he buys; but then every one is assured, that he does not do so out of any principle of true honesty.
In like manner it is very possible for a man that is proud of his estate, ambitious in his views, or vain of his learning, to dsregard his dress, and person, in such a miner as a truly humble man would do ; but to suppose that he does so out of a true principle of religious humility, is full as absurd as to suppose that a cheat pays for what he buys, out of a principle of religious honesty.
As therefore all kinds of dishonesty destroy our pretences to an honest principle of mind, so all kinds of pride destroy our pretences to an humble spirit.
No one wonders that those prayers and alms, which proceed from pride and ostentation are odious to God; but yet it is as easy to shew, that pride is as pardonable there, as any where else.
If we could suppose that God rejects pride in our prayers and alms, but bears with pride in our dress, our persons, or estates, it would be the same thing as to suppose that God condemns falsehood in some actions, but allows it in others. For pride in one thing differs from pride in another thing, as the robbing of one man differs from the robbing of another.
Again, if pride and ostentation is so odious that it destroys the merit and worth of the most reasonable actions, surely it must be equally odious in those actions, which are only founded in the weakness and infirmity of our nature. As thus, alms are commanded by God, as excellent in themselves, as true instances of divine temper, but clothes are only allowed to cover our shame ; surely therefore it must at least be as odious a degree of pride, to be vain in our clothes, as to be vain in our alms.
Again, we are commanded to pray without ceasing, as a means of rendering our souls more exalted and divine, but we are forbidden to lay up treasures upon earth; and can we think that it is not as bad to be vain of those treasures which we are forbidden to lay up, as to be vain of those prayers which we are commanded to: m. ke.
Women are required to have their heads covered, and to adorn themselves with shamefacedness; if therefore 1 Cor. xi. 13. they are vain in those things which are
expressly forbidden, if they patch and
paint that part, which can only be a-
All these instances are only to shew us the great necessity of such a regular and uniform piety, as extends itself to all the actions of our common life.
That we must eat and drink, and dress and discourse, according to the sobriety of the Christian spirit, engage in no employments but such as we can truly devote unto God, nor pursue them any farther than so far as conduces to the reasonable ends of a holy devout life.
That we must be honest, not only on particular occasions, and in such instances as are applauded in the world, easy to be performed and free from danger or loss, but from such a living principle of justice, as makes us love truth and integrity in all its instances, follow it through all dangers, and against all opposition; as knowing that the more we pay for any truth, the better is our bargain, and that then our integrity becomes a pearl, when we have parted with all to keep it..
That we must be humble, not only in such instances as are expected in the world, or suitable to our tempers, or confined to particular occasions, but in such a humility of spirit, as renders uş meek and lowly in the whole course of our lives, as shews itself in our dress our persons, our conversation, our enjoyment of the world, the tranquility of our minds, patience under injuries, submission to superiors, and condescensions to those that are below us, and in all ihe outward actions of our lives..
That we must devote not only times and places to prayer, but be every where in the spirit of devotion, with hearts always set towards heaven, looking up to God in all our actions, and doing every thing as his servants, living in the world as in a holy temple of God, and always worshipping him, though not with our lips, yet with the thankfulness of our hearts, the holiness of our actions, and the pious and charitable use of all his gifts. That we must not only send up petitions and
thoughts now and then to heaven, but must go through all our worldly business with an heavenly spirit, as mem-bers of Christ's mystical body, that with new hearts, and new minds, are to turn an earthly life into a preparation for a life of greatness and glory in the kingdom of heaven.
Now the only way to arrive at this piety of spirit, is to bring all your actions to the same rule as your devotions and alms. You very well know what it is that makes the piety of your alms or devotions; now the same rules, the same regard to God, must render every thing else that you do, a fit and acceptable service unto God.
Enough, I hope, has been said to shew you the necessity of thus introducing religion into all the actions of your common life, and of living and acting with the same regard to God in all that you do, as in your prayers and alms.
Eating is one of the lowest actions of our lives, it is common to us with mere animals, yet we see that the piety of all ages of the world, has turned this ordinary action of an animal life, into a piety to God, by making every meal to begin and end with devotion.
We see yet some remains of this custom in most Christ tian, families; some such little formality as shews you that people used to call upon God at the beginning and end of their meals. But, indeed, it is now generally so performed, as to look more like a mockery on devotion, than any solemn application of the mind unto God.
In one house you may perhaps see the head of the family just pulling off his hat, in another half getting up from his seat; another shall, it may be, proceed so far as to make as if he said something ; but however, these little attempts are the remains of some devotion that was formerly used at such times, and are proofs that religion has belonged to this part of common life.
But to such a pass are we now coine, that though the custom is yet preserved, yet we can hardly bear with him that seems to perform it with any degree of seriousness, and look upon it as a sign of fanatical temper, if a man has not done it as soon as he begins.
I would not be thought to plead for the necessity of