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For this tenderness of affection towards the most abandoned sinners is the highest instance of a divine and godlike soul.
Miranda is a constant relief to poor people in their misfortunes and accidents. There are some. times little misfortunes, that happen to them, which of themselves they could never be able to overcome. The death of a cow, or horse, or some little robbery would keep them in distress all their lives. She does not suffer them to grieve under such accidents, as these. She immediately gives them the full value of their loss, and makes use of it, as a mean of raising their minds towards God.
This is the spirit, and this is the life of the devout Miranda ; and, if she live ten years longer, she will have spent sixty hundred pounds in charity; for that, which she allows herself,may fairly be reckoned amongst her alms.
When she dies, she must shine amongst apostles, and saints, and martyrs ; she must stand amongst the first servants of God, and be glorious amongst those, who have fought the good fight, and finished their course with joy.
Persons of all orders and ranks in socicty are obliged to
devote themselves unto God.
WE have, in the foregoing chapters, gone through the several great instances of christian devotion, and shown, that all the parts of our common life, our employments, our talents, and gists of fortune, are all to be made holy and ac, ceptable unto God, by a wise and religious use of every thing, and by directing our actions and designs to such ends, as are suitable to the honour and glory of God.
We shall now show, that this regularity of devotion, this holiness of common life, this religious use of every thing, which we have, is a devotion, that is the duty of all orders of christian people.
Every body acknowledges, that all orders of men are to be equally and exactly honest and faithful. There is no exception to be made in these duties for any private or particular state of life. If we would but attend to the reason and nature of things; if we would but consider the nature of God, and the nature of
man, we should find the same necessity for ev. ery other right use of our reason, for every grace, or religious temper of the christian life ; we should find it as absurd to suppose, that one man must be exact in piety, and another needs not, as to suppose, that one man must be exact in lionesty, but another needs not. For christian humility, sobriety, devotion, and piety are as great and necessary parts of a reasonable life, as justice and honesty.
On the other hand, pride, sensuality, and cov. etousness are as great disorders of the soul, are as high an abuse of our reason, and as contrary to God, as cheating and dishonesty.
Theft and dishonesty seem indeed to vulgar eyes to be greater sins ; because they are so hurtful to civil society, and are so severely pun, ished by human laws.
But if we consider mankind in a higher view, as God's order or society of rational beings, who are to glorify him by the right use of their reason, and by acting conformably to the order of their nature, we shall find, that every temper, which is equally contrary to reason and order, which opposes God's ends and designs, and disorders the beauty and glory of the rational world, is equally sinful in man, and equally
odious to God. This would show us, that the sin of sensuality is like the sin of dishonesty, and renders us as great objects of the divine displeasure.
Nothing therefore can be more false, than to imagine, that, because we are private persons, who have taken upon us no charge nor employment of life, that therefore we may live more at large, indulge our appetites, and be less careful of the duties of piety and holiness ; for it is as good an excuse for cheating and dishonesty. Because he, who abuses his reason, who indulges himself in lust and sensuality, and neglects to act the wise and reasonable part of a true christian, has every thing in his life to render him hateful to God, which is to be found in cheating and dishonesty.
If therefore you rather choose to be an idle epicure, than to be unfaithful ; if you rather choose to live in lust and sensuality, than to injure your neighbour in his goods, you have made no better a provision for the favour of God, than he, who rather chooses to rob a house than to rob a church.
For the abusing of our own nature is as great a disobedience against God, as the injuring of our neighbour; and he who wants piety towards
God, has done as much to damn himself, as he, who wants honesty towards men. Every argument therefore, which proves it necessary for all men, in all stations of life, to be truly honest, proves it equally necessary for all men, in all stations of life, to be truly holy and pious, and to do all things in such a manner, as is suitable to the glory of God.
Another argument to prove, that all orders of men are obliged to be thus holy and devout in the common use of their lives, in the use of every thing, which they enjoy, may be taken from our obligation to prayer.
It is granted, that prayer is a duty, which belongs to all states and conditions of men ; and, if we inquire into the reason of this, why no state of life is to be excused from prayer, we shall find it as good a reason, why every state of life is to be made a state of piety and holiness
in all its parts.
Let us suppose a person to have appointed times for praising God with psalms and hymns, and to be strict in the observation of them. Let it be supposed also, that in his common life he is restless and uneasy, full of murmuring and complaints at every thing, never pleased but by chance, as his temper happens to carry him,