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« all.” The prophet Ezekiel has it in these words, speaking to Jerusalem, * « Behold, this was the ini
quity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, " and abundance of idleness, was in her and her « daughters : neither did she strengthen the hand of " the poor and needy; and they were haughty, and « committed fornication before me; therefore I took " them away, as I saw good.” And it is very remarkable, that the voluptuousness of the Israelites was joined with their idolatry. It is said, that when Moses was in the mount, the people, impatient of his stay," " Sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to « play.” They had got a calf of gold, and were dancing about it; but it was a dismal ball, and they paid dear for their junket, for several thousands were nain; and it is said, that “ God plagued the peo« ple.” Job's children had as ill success in their festivals ; * « They went from house to house, eating " and drinking; and a tempeft rose, and smote the « four corners of the house, and it fell and killed
them.” But most express is that complaint of God, by the mouth of the prophet Amos, against the voluptuous Jews : “ Ye that put so far away the evil day, rc and cause the seat of violence to come near ; that « lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon 6 their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and « calves out of the midst of the stall : that chant to « the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves inor struments of musick, like David : Y that drink bowls ss of wine, and anoint themselves with the chief ointo ments; but they are not grieved for the affliction of « Joseph. Therefore now shall they go captive with " the first that go captive, and the banquet of them 16 that stretched themselves shall be removed. And I " will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your « fongs into lamentation; and I will make the end F, thereof a bitter day.”
• Ezek. xvi: 49. 56. w Exod. xxxii. 28. * Job. i. 19. y Amos vi. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and Chap. viii, 20.
the dogs at the beggar ham's bofom hell he
I shall sum up these excesses, and conclude the instances, with the story of Dives, more commonly known, than reverently believed, at least considered : it is delivered to us, by the great Lord of truth, in these words. « There was a certain rich man, which or was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared “ sumptuously every day. And there was a certain " beggar, named Lazarus, ? which was laid at his "s gate, full of fores, and desiring to be fed with the « crumbs which fell from the rich man's table : « moreover the dogs came and licked his fores. And “ it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was car" ried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The « rich man also died, and was buried : and in hell he « lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abra" ham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he « cried, and said, father Abraham, have mercy upon « me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of « his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am « tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, « remember that thou in thy life-time receivedft thy
good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but « now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And « besides all this, between us and you there is a great « gulph fixed, so that they which would pass from « hence to you, cannot; neither can they pass to us, " that would come from thence.”
This great passage comprehends the state of men in both worlds : it shews to us what that life is in this world, which leads to misery in the next, and what to happiness. No sensual man, no voluptuous person, not those that deck themselves with delicate apparel, and fare sumptuously every day, that love their back and their belly more than God and the poor, shall be received into Abraham's bosom, or dwell in blessedness for ever. Let none deceive themselves, the jealous God will not be mocked. “ If you fow to the
“ fesh, ye shall reap corruption; but if you fow to « the spirit, ye shall reap life everlasting.”
They that live in pleasures, “ Kill the just;" they crucify the just witness in themselves : such treasure up wrath against the day of wrath.' " Wo, anguish and “ tribulation to every soul that doth evil, whether « Jew or Gentile, professor or profane, Christian or « infidel :" for the Dives's under all these names must be turned into hell : but such as, through patience and well doing, wait for immortality, as poor Lazarus did, after all their poverty, neglect, and hunger, shall receive “ Glory, honour, and eternal life.” And truly it is some comfort to the miserable in this world, that they shall not live always in it, and that they have to do with a God, who is « no respecter of persons.” This judge is impartial; the poor are upon even ternis with the rich; and it will not be quality, but integrity; not riches, but righteousness, which will recommend us to him. No wonder then, if the prophet Jeremiah, in the name of God, charged the ancient Tews not to go into “ the house of feasting; "é and that Ecclesiastes hath said, “ It is better to go to the «c house of mourning, than to the house of feasting," since so many evils follow it. But there is one feait, that even Christ himself allows us; though I have little reason to believe it will be imitated, when I consider the natural averseness that is, even among professed Chriftians, to his self-denying precepts and example. « Thou,” said Jesus, f “ When thou ma“ kelt a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends or « thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen nor thy rich “ neighbours, lest they also bid thee again, and a " recompense be inade thee.” (This would beget feasting, the thing to be avoided; no such matter.) “ But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the « maimed, the lame, the blind, and thou shalt be « blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; but thou
to James v. 5,6.
Rom. ii. 8, 9. « Rom.ü.7. • Eccles. vii. 2. f Luke xiv. 12, 13, 14.
« Ihale « shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." There are few that strive to obey this counsel ; there is so little of fashion, or of interest in it. What! perfons of quality feast the poor, carve for the maimed, and feed the blind? It is too mean, too ignominious! If they have the bones, the scraps, the crumbs, it is well. No, no; this doctrine is too like him that taught it, to be practised by them that are so unlike him. They that follow him in these things, must « take up the cross, « despise the shame, and row in “ hope :" but because there is an everlasting recompence for those that do, I fervently desire of God, that it would please him to put it into the minds of both magiftrates and people to “ love mercy, do « justice, walk humbly with the Lord,” and meekly cs and charitably towards all men. I beseech you, in the tender bowels of a Christian man, to consider of the present conjuncture : is this a time for feasts and revels, plays and pastimes, when the very wrath of God seems to hang by a slender thread over our heads ? O! let your moderation be known unto all men, now the Lord is so near at hand, so very near indeed.
And I do humbly pray the supreme authority of this land, to put a speedy check to these exorbitances, to discountenance these excesses, by the revival of the good old laws of the land, and in making of such new ones, as may be thought convenient to prevent such pride and prodigality. For I think I may, both with modesty and truth, affirm, if the very unnecessary expences of most ranks or degrees in this kingdom could be brought into one publick purse, they would arise to three times more money, than either is given, or is requisite, to the maintenance of the poor that are in it: and whether this be a thing practicable or no, it matters not, though I believe it is; the very preventing of that excess which
& Mic. vi si 6, 7, 8. Col. üi. 14.
is amongst us, would be pleasing to Almighty God, and one way or other beneficial to the whole.
Of the evil of gaming.
TT may not be improper for me here to follow this
I head of excess with the fin of gaming ; an invention of much mischief in the world, and therefore inconfiftent both with Christianity and civil government. The evils that attend it are neither small nor few. It is, first, a great enemy to business, and that just care that people ought to have for the discharge of their respective capacities in their civil affairs. Next, it is one of the greatest thieves to mens estates: many brave families have been ruined by a gamester. That which hath been got by the care and prudence of a father, it may be, hath been lost in one night by the extravagant humour of a fon : but that the reward of virtue should be the stake of folly, and the painful acquest of worthy ancestors exposed to the chance and hazard of the die, is such impiety to God's providence, ingratitude to parents, injury to their own families, and disgrace to the government, that I conceive it may very well deserve the care of our supe. riors to prevent that extravagancy for the future, by the execution of the laws in being against it. Thirdly, It is a great consumer of time. They who are addicted to gaming, are generally the most idle and use. less people in any government: and give me leave to say, that men are accountable to the government for their time: there ought to be no idleness in the land ; for that end Bridewells are provided. Of many other sins people are weary; but of this never, unless to Neep or eat, or for want of money to play. We are commanded to “ redeem the time, because the days “ are evil ;" }, but these people chuse rather to lose * Ephes. v. 16.