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Could you cure this man of his great curiosity and inquisitive temper, or that of his false satisfaction and thirst after learning, you need do no more to make them both become men of grcat piety.
If this woman would make fewer visits, or that not be always talking, they would neither of them find it half so hard to be affected with religion.
For all these things are only little, when they are compared to great sins ; and though they are little in that respect, yet they are great, as they are impediments and hindrances of a pious spirit.
As consideration is the only eye of the soul, as the truths of religion can be seen by nothing else, so whatever raises a levity of mind, a trifing spirit, renders, the soul incapable of seeing, apprehending, and relishing the docu: trines of piety;
Would we therefore make a real progress in religion, we must not only abhor gross and notorious sins, but we must regulate the innocent and lawful parts of our behaviour, and put the most common and allowed actions of life under the rules of discretion and piety,
The beneficial effects, which result from the pious use of
an estate, represented in the character of Miranda.
ANY one pious regularity of any one part of our life is of great advantage, not only on its own account, but as it uses us to live by rule, and think of the government of ourselves.
A man of business, who has brought one part of his affairs under certain rules, is in a fair way to take the same care of the rest.
So he, who has brought any one part of his life under the rules of religion, may thence be taught to extend the same order and regularity into other parts of his life.
A rule, which relates even to the smallest part of our life, is of great benefit to us, merely as it is a rule.
For, as the proverb says, 'he that has begun well, has half done :' So he, who has begun to live by rule, has gone a great way towards the perfection of his life.
By rule, must here be constantly understood a religious rule, observed upon a principle of duty to God.
But the two things, which of all others of a worldly nature most want to be under a strict rule, and which are the greatest blessings both to ourselves and to others, when they are rightly used, are our time and our money: These talents are continual means and opportunities of doing good.
He who is piously strict, and exact in the wise management of either of these, cannot be long ignorant of the right use of the other. He, who is happy in the religious care and disposal of them both, is already ascended several steps upon the ladder of christian perfection.
Miranda, the sister of Flavia, is a sober, reasonable christian. As soon as she was mistress of her time and fortune, it was her first thought, how she might best fulfil every thing which God required of her in the use of them; and how she might make the best and happiest use of this short life. She depends upon the truth of what our blessed Lord has said, that there is but one thing needful ;' and therefore makes her whole life but one continual labour after it. She has but one reason for doing or not doing, for liking or not liking any thing; and that is the will of God.
The holy scriptures, especially of the NewTestament, are her daily study. These she reads with a watchful attention, constantly casting an eye upon herself, and trying herself by every doctrine, which is there. When she has the NewTestament in her hand, she supposes herself at the feet of our saviour and his apostles ; and makes every thing, which she learns of them, so many laws of her life. She receives their sacred words with as much attention and reverence, as if she saw their persons, and knew, that they
were just come from heaven, on purpose to ; teach her the way, which leads to it.
She thinks, that the trying of herself every day by the doctrines of scripture is the only possible way to be ready for her trial at the last day. She is sometimes afraid, that she lays out too much money in books; because she cannot forbear buying all practical books of any note ; especially such as enter into the heart of religion, and describe the inward holiness of the chris. tian life.
To relate her charity would be to relate the history of every day for twenty years ; for so long has her fortune been spent that way. She has set up near twenty poor tradesmen, who had failed in their business, and saved as many
from failing. She has educated several poor children, who were picked up in the streets, and put them in a way of an honest employment. As soon as any poor labourer is confined at home with sickness, she sends him, till he recovers, twice the value of his wages, that he may have one part to give to his family, as usual, and the other to provide things convenient for his sickness.
If a family seem too large to be supported by the labour of those, who can work in it, she pays their rent, and gives them something yearly towards their clothing. By these means there are many poor families, who live in a comfortable manner, and are from year to year blessing her
in their prayers.
If there be any poor man or woman, who is more than ordinarily wicked and reprobate, Miranda has her eye upon them, she watches their time of need and adversity; and, if she can discover that they are in any great straits or affliction, she gives them speedy relief. She has this care for this sort of people, because she once saved a very profligate person from being carried to prison, who immediately became a true penitent. There is nothing in the character of Miranda more to be admired, than this temper.