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of resentment. Lay your account with this, that when any thing of the kind occurs, you may neither be surprised nor discouraged. It is better to please God and displease man, than to please man and displease God.
22. Thirdly: It is probable, you were acquainted with men of the world, before you yourself knew God. What is best to be done with regard to these? How may you most easily drop their acquaintance? First, allow a sufficient time to try, whether you cannot, by argument and persuasion, induce them to choose the better part. Spare no pains. Exert all your faith and love, and wrestle with God in their behalf. If, after all, you cannot perceive that any impression is made upon them, it is your duty gently to withdraw from them, that you be not entangled with them. This may be done in a short time, easily and quietly, by not returning their visits. But you must expect they will upbraid you with haughtiness and unkindness, if not to your face, yet behind your back. And this you can suffer for a good conscience. It is, properly, the reproach of Christ.
23. When it pleased God to give me a settled resolution, to be not a nominal, but a real Christian, (being then about 22 years of age) my acquaintance were as ignorant of God as myself. But there was this difference: I knew my own ignorance; they did not know theirs. I faintly endeavoured to help them; but in vain. Mean time I found, by sad experience, that even their harmless conversation, so called, damped all my good resolutions. But how to get rid of "them was the question, which I resolved in my mind again and again. I saw no possible way, unless it should please God to remove me to another College. He did so, in a manner utterly contrary to all human probability. I was elected Fellow of a College, where I knew not one person. I foresaw, abundance of people would come to see me, either out of friendship, civility, or curiosity; and that I should have offers of acquaintance, new and old: but I had now fixed my plan. Entering now, as it were, into a new world, I resolved to have no acquaintance by chance, but
by choice; and to choose such only as I had reason to be lieve, would help me on my way to heaven. In consequence of this, I narrowly observed the temper and behaviour of all that visited me. I saw no reason to think that the greater part of these truly loved or feared God. Such acquaintance, therefore, I did not choose: I could not expect they would do me any good. Therefore, when any of these came, I behaved as courteously as I could. But to the question, "When will you come to see me?” I returned no answer. When they had come a few times, and found I still declined returning the visit, I saw them no more. And I bless God, this has been my invariable rule for about threescore years. I knew many reflections would follow; but that did not move me, as I knew full well, it was my calling to go through evil report and good report.
24. I earnestly advise all of you who resolve to be, noť almost, but altogether Christians, to adopt the same plan, however contrary it may be to flesh and blood. Narrowly observe, which of those that fall in your way, are like minded with yourself: who among them have you reason to believe fears God and works righteousness? Set them down as worthy of your acquaintance; gladly and freely converse with them at all opportunities. As to all who do not answer that character, gently and quietly let them drop. However good natured and sensible they may be, they will do you no real service. Nay, if they did not lead you into outward sin, yet they would be a continual clog to your soul, and would hinder your running with vigour and cheerfulness the race that is set before you. And if any of your friends, that did once run well, "turn back from the holy commandment once delivered to them;" first use every method that prudence can suggest, to bring them again into the good way. But if you cannot prevail, let them go; only still commending them unto God in prayer. Drop all familiar intercourse with them, and save your own soul.
25. I advise you, Fourthly, Walk circumspectly, with regard to your relations. With your parents, whether
religious or not, you must certainly converse, if they desire it: and with your brothers and sisters: more especially, if they want your service. I do not know that you are under any such obligation, with respect to your more distant relations. Courtesy, indeed, and natural affection may require, that you should visit them sometimes. But if they neither know nor seek God, it should certainly be as seldom as possible. And when you are with them, you should not stay a day longer than decency requires. Again, whosoever of them you are with at any time, remember that solemn caution of the Apostle, "Let no corrupt communication [conversation] come out of your mouth: but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may mi-` nister grace to the hearers." You have no authority to vary from this rule; otherwise, you grieve the Holy Spirit of God. And if you keep closely to it, those who have no religion will soon dispense with your company.
26. Thus it is that those who fear or love God should come out from among all that do not fear him. Thus in a plain scriptural sense, you should be separated from them, from all unnecessary intercourse with them. Yea, Touch not, saith the Lord, the unclean thing or person, any farther than necessity requires : and I will receive you into the household of God. And I will be unto you a Father, will embrace you with paternal affection: and ye shall be unto me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. The promise is express to all that renounce the company of ungodly men, (provided their spirit and conversation are, in other respects, also suitable to their duty.) God does here absolutely engage to give them all the blessings he has prepared for his beloved children, both in time and eternity. Let all those, therefore, who have any regard for the favour and blessings of God, first, beware how they contract any acquaintance, or form any connection with ungodly men; any farther than necessary business, or some other providential call requires: and, secondly, with all possible speed, all that the nature of the thing will admit, break off all such acquaintance already contracted, and all such
connexions already formed. Let no pleasure resulting from such acquaintance, no gain found or expected from such connexions, be of any consideration, when laid in the balance against a clear, positive command of God. In such a case, pluck out the right eye, tear away the most pleasing acquaintance, and cast it from thee: give up all thought, all design of seeking it again. Cut off the right hand: absolutely renounce the most profitable connexion, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, or one hand, than having two, to be cast into hell-fire.
1 CORINTHIANS X. 13.
"There hath no Temptation taken you, but such as is common to Man. And God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able: but will with the Temptation also make a Way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
1. IN the foregoing part of the chapter the Apostle has been reciting on the one hand, the unparalleled mercies of God to the Israelites; and, on the other, the unparalleled ingratitude of that disobedient and gainsaying people. And all these things, as the Apostle observes, were written for our ensample: that we might take warning from them, so as to avoid their grievous sins, and escape their terrible punishment. He then adds that solemn and important caution, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."
2. But if we observe these words attentively, will there not appear a considerable difficulty in them, "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall?" If a man only thinks he stands, he is in no danger of falling. It is not possible that any one should fall, if he only thinks he stands. The same difficulty occurs, according to our translation in those well known words of our Lord, (the