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over it for a time, which death takes off and lays aside for the moths to devour.
Gaming will be no snare to those who avoid the company of gamesters, which hath very little to recommend it. This will be most easy to such persons as have learned to amuse themselves more rationally than they do, with reading, conversing, and following such works and pursuits as are worthy of a man. Gamesters often lose all by coveting all; which danger he will be sure to escape who covets nothing, but makes himself contented with what his diligence earns or God gives.
Curiosity is another cause of ruin. It is always seeking some new object: let us chuse that which is good, and hold it fast, and we shall not want to change it. Buy the truth: it will not cost much; and we shall never wish to be selling it again. Great things may be had for little cost. A Bible, value five shillings, is of more use, and will do us more good, and, if we understand it, give us more pleasure, than all the other books that can be bought for five thousand pounds. A Christian, from the great objects he hath before him, will not want new things like a child; and, from the humble state of his mind, will not be tempted by the pride of purchasing.
The expensive love of fame and popularity will never do any hurt, where the approbation of the wise and virtuous, and the favour of God, is sought after, The praise which is paid for is very uncertain and deceitful, and may turn against us to-morrow. The praise of God is not to be obtained by all we can lay out;, not even by selling all we have, and giving it to the poor: but by an affectionate mind, performing small and cheap things, according to our ability, on
As to pleasure, the last, and perhaps the most universal cause of ruin to the bodies, souls, and fortunes of men; the surest method will be to seek that pleasure which is good, and then we shall not wish to destroy ourselves by that which is evil. The body hath its pleasures, and the mind hath its pleasures: the latter only are the pleasures of a man ; and many of them are so cheap, that they may be had for nothing. I told you of one, who ruined himself by beautifying a seat which did not belong to him; and you wondered at his folly : but the moral is better worth considering than the fact: for this is true of us all, when we waste our substance in forming scenes of grandeur and pleasure upon this earth ; we are beautifying what does not belong to lis, and must soon be left behind. There is a pride in being the owner of fine places; but the thoughtful mind may have great pleasure in them, without being the owner of them; and so far as God hath beautified the world, he hath done it for the common pleasure of us all : and the saint or the philosopher, who contemplates it as a scene which God hath adorned, partakes of a pleasure as sincere, perhaps as great, but certainly more pure and lasting, than the possessor who calls himself the owner of the soil. When he sees the wood towering upon the hill or hanging over the vale, his happiness does not depend on his being able to cut down the timber in it, but in admiring its verdure and rejoicing in its shade. The garden of pleasure is planted and adorned at a great expence; but, to the botanist, the world is his garden, and God is the planter of it. I might go on to shew you, from other like instances, how the greatest pleasures are frequently enjoyed by those who spend least
Vicious pleasure is a deceitful harlot, who smiles at us and ruins us; virtuous pleasure is
such as Eve was in the state of innocence, and there is a paradise around her.
When we meditate on the miseries of prodigality, it is natural to turn our eyes about us, and examine how it is with us, as a nation, in respect of our economy. And here we cannot but discover, that it is the error of all orders of people amongst us to live at a more expensive rate, than cau consist with the prosperity of themselves, or the public. The ill effects of this are manifest and undeniable; and I see more than it may be prudent to speak of. In the rich, it
produces distress within doors, and the oppression of the poor without: in the poor it produces hopeless debt, and promotes profligacy of manners. If our nobility and gentry, who form what is called the landed interest, live upon too large a scale, they must find such resources as they can. Their rents must be raised to au immoderate height; which the farmer cannot pay, unless corn is dear; and then, if any artificial scarcity should take place annually, either by connivance, or by trifling with the laws, and making a breach between the constitution of the country, that must be a very great evil; for if there is a just human right upor earth, and which ought to be religiously attended to, it is a right in the poor to have bread for their labour; and so long as they have bread cheap, we shall never hear any complaints from them: and this, I say, they ought always to have, except when scarcity is from the visitation of God. Why is there such a demand for uioney, anong the rich ? is it to support two families instead of one? No; but that one family may live at the expence of tivo: that they may be able to lead a dissipated, unprofitable, unhealthy life; which, while it seems to benefit some individuals (among whom ire shall find the most useless members of the community)
hurts themselves and the public in general. Our metropolis is swollen to a monstrous size, like a body that is dropsical: and we may consider it as a scale, whereby our expensiveness, as a people, is to be measured; for its magnitude has been rendered excessive, chiefly by a change of manners, in those who have exceeded the bounds of their economy.
Ánd the poor follow the rich according to their ineasure. Many of them have departed from a cheap and manly diet, to admit articles of luxury, on which they live worse for more money. The terms they are upon, under the present laws, and the ill management of parish officers, tempt them to idleness and profligacy. It would be a dangerous experiment to reader the maintenance of the poor discretionary, at a time when all the rich are outliving themselves : but certainly it is of bad consequence, that the maintenance is fixed by the laws; depending on which, many people make themselves poor by idleness and drunkenness, and apply for relief when they ought rather to be sent to the house of correction. When the high price of the necessaries of life brings a poor industrious family into difficulties, so that they are obliged, after all their labour, to live upon what credit they can get; harassed with small debts, and dejected at the sight of their creditors; then my heart bleeds for them: I wish I was rich enough to relieve them all. I lament that there is not more æconomy in their betters; and I pray that God will some time shew them a better world than this they now live in. When we compare the wants of many honest poor people, some under difficulties, some in distress, some in sorrow and lamentation, with the thousands which are squandered away for no one good purpose by the rich; a sum, perhaps, in the adventures of a single night, is hazarded and lost, sufficient to clear and set up an hundred poor families for life :: when we compare these things, what shall we say, but that wickedness and folly united, cannot shew us a worse case ? If he who gains the world, and loses his soul, be a fool, what is he who loses both! For here I am to warn all christian people, that God giveth to ůs, that we may be able to give to others.
. He is no respecter of persons; his ways are equal; lis mercy is over all his works; and all men must account strictly to his justice. Then the prodigal, who hath tormented and ruined himself, will discover that he has also robbed the poor, and that the Almighty is their Avenger. Therefore, let the poor be frugal, that they may lessen the troubles of the present life; and let the rich be prudent, that they may be charitable ; so shall they find the blessing of God upon themselves and their affairs in this world, and secure an interest in the world to come.