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ders of your Heart, to study the Laws of God, to contemplate the Wonders of his Providence, to convince your self of the Vanity and Folly of the World, and to comfort and delight your Soul with those great and glorious Things, which God has prepared for those that love him. This is the Happiness of being free from Labour, and Want; not to have Spare Time to squander away in Vanity and Impertinence, but to have spare Time to spend in the Study of Wisdom, in the Exercise of Devotion, in the Practice of Piety, in all the Ways and Means of doing Good, and exalting our Souls to a State of Christian Perfection.
It is a Do&rine of Scripture, and highly agreeable to Reason, That unto whomsoever much is given, of him fhall much be required. Consider therefore, that a Life of Leisure, and Freedom from Want and Hardships, is as much as can well be given you in this world, as it is giving you an Opportunity of living wholly unto God, and making all the Parts of your Life useful to the best Purposes. As sure therefore as it is a State, that has so many Advantages, that furrilhes
you Means of being eninent in Piety, fo fure is it that it is a State from which God expeçts Fruits that are worthy of it. Had it
with so many
been your Lot to labour in a Mine, or serve under fome cruel Master, you must have served as unto God, and in so doing, you
had finished the Work which God had given you. But as you are free from all these States of Life, you must look upon your self as God's Servant, as called to chuse that Way of labouring and spending your Time, which
promote that which God desires to be most promoted. God has given you Liberty to chuse, but it is only that you may have the Blessedness of chusing the best Ways of spending your Time. Though therefore you are at Liberty from servile and mean Labour, yet you are under a Necessity of labouring in all good Works, and making all your Time, and Fortune, and Abilities, serviceable to the best Ends of Life. You have no more Time that is your own, than he has that is to live by constant Labour ; the only Difference betwixt you and him, is this, that he is to he diligent in a poor slavish Labour, that oppresses the Body, and dulls and dejects the Mind; but you in a Service that is perfe&t Freedom, that renders your Body a fit Temple for the Holy Ghost, and fills your Soul with such Light, and Peace, and Joy, as is not to be found in any other Way of Life.
Do you think that a poor Slave would displease God by refusing to act in that painful Drudgery that is fallen to his Share? And do you think that God will not be more displeased with you, if you refuse to act your full part in the best of Labours, or neglect that happy joyful Business of doing Good, which your State of Life has called you to? Is it expected that poor People 1hould make a right Use of their Condition, and turn all their Labour into a Service unto God? And can you think that you are not obliged to make the proper Improvement of your Condition, and turn all your Rest, and Ease, and Freedom from Labour, into a Service unto God? Tell me therefore no more, that you indulge your self in idle Amusements, in vain, corrupt, and unedifying Books, because you have spare Time ; for it is absolutely false to say that you have any such thing ; it is also saying, that because God has given you spare Time from servile Labour, that you may chuse the best Ways of Life, devote your self to the most Divine Exercises, and become eminent and exemplary in all the Instances of a holy and heavenly Life; therefore you presume to throw it away in Idleness and Impertinence,
C H A P. XI.
A farther Confideration of that
Purity and Holiness of Converfation, to which the Neceffity of Divine Grace calleth all Chri. ftians ; wherein is shewn, that the Entertainment of the Stage, is a corrupt and finful Entertainment, contrary to the whole Nature of Christian Piety, and constantly to be avoided by all fincere Christians.
HAVE shewn in the foregoing
that kind, is a dangerous and linful Entertainment, that corrupts our Hearts, and separates the Holy Spirit from us. You will now perhaps ask me, if it
is unlawful for a Christian to go to the Play-house. I answer, that it is absolutely unlawful. As unlawful, as for a Christian to be a Drunkard or a Glutton, or to Cuer se and Swear. This I think, after what has been above observ’d, will be easily prov'd.
FOR let us resume the Doctrine of the Apostle, we are absolutely forbid all corruipt Communication, and for this important Reason, because it grieves and separates the Holy Spirit from us. Is it unlawful therefore to have any corrupt Communication of our own? And can we think it lawful to go to Places set apart for that Purpose? To give our Money, and hire Persons to corrupt our Hearts with ill Discourses, and infiame all the disorderly Passions of our Nature? We have the Authority of Scripture to affirm, That evil Cominunication corrupts good Manners; and that unedifying Discourses grieve the Holy Spirit. Now the third Commandment is not more plain and express against Swearing, than this Doctrine is plain and positive against going to the Play-house. If you
should see a Person, that acknowledges the third Commandment to be a Divine Prohibition against Swearing, yet going to a House, and giving his Money' to Persons, who were there met, to Curse and Swear in fine Language, and invent musical Oaths and Imprecations, would you not think