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pay for it, even publicly to be courted, carressed, and flattered. If this will not overthrow the credit of our virtue,-take a short view of the general decay of it, from the fashionable excesses of the age,-in favour of which there seems to be formed so strong a party, that a man of fobriety, temperance, and regularity, scarce knows how to accommodate himself to the society he lives in,-and is oft as much at a loss how and where to dispose of himself;—and unless you suppose a mixture of constancy in his temper, it is great odds but such a one would be ridiculed, and laughed out of his scruples and his virtue at the same time ;--to say nothing of occasional rioting, chambering and wantonnels.-Confider how many public markets are established merely for the sale of virtue,—where the manner of going, too fadly indicates the intention ;-and the disguise each is under, not only gives power safely to drive on the bargain, but too often tempts to carry it into execution too.
This finning under disguise, I own, seems to carry fome appearance of a secret homage to virtue and decorum, and might be acknow
leged as such, was it not the only public instance the world seems to give of it.-In other cases, a just sense of shame seems a matter of so little concern, that instead of any regularity of behaviour, you see thousands who are tired with the very form of it, and who at length have even thrown the mask of it aside, as a useless piece of incumbrance.—This I believe will need no evidence, it is too evidently seen in the open liberties taken every day, in defiance (not to say of religion) but of decency and common good manners;- so that it is no uncommon thing to behold vices, which heretofore were committed only in dark corners, now openly shew their face in broad day, and oft times with such an air of triumph, as if the party thought he was doing himself honour,or that he thought the deluding an unhappy creature, and the keeping her in a state of guilt, was as necessary a piece of grandeur as the keeping an equipage,—and did him as much credit as any other appendage of his fortune.
If we pass on from the vices to the indecorums of the age (which is a fofter name for
vices) you will scarce fee any thing, in what is called higher life, but what bespeaks a general relaxation of all order and discipline, in which our opinions as well as manners seem to be set loose from all restraints;—and, in truth, from all ferious reflections too :-and one may venture to say, that gaming and extravagance, to the utter ruin of the greatest estates,-minds dissipated with diversions, and heads giddy with a perpetual rotation of them, are the most general characters to be met with; and though one would expect, that at least the more solemn seasons of the
for the contemplation of Christ's sufferings, should give such a check and interruption to them, yet what appearance is there ever amongst us, that it is so ;—what one alteration does it make in the course of things? Is not the doctrine of mortification insulted by the same luxury of entertainments at our tables ?-is not the fame order of diversions perpetually returning, and scarce any thing else thought of ?-does not the same levity in dress, as well as discourse, fhew itself in persons of all ages, for it is no
small agravation of the corruption of our morals, that age, which by its authority was once able to frown youth into sobriety and better manners, and keep them within bounds, seems but too often to lead the way,-and by their unseasonable example give a countenance to follies and weakness, which youth is but too apt to run into without such a recommendation. Surely age,---which is but one remove from death, should have nothing about it, but what looks like a decent preparation for it. -In purer times it was the case,—but now, grey hairs themselves scarce ever appear, but in the high mode and flanting garb of youth, --with heads as full of pleasure, and cloaths as ridiculously, and as much in the fashion, as the person who wears them is usually grown out of it :-upon which article give me leave to make a short reflection; which is this, that whenever the eldest equal the youngest in the vanity of their dress, there is no reason to be given for it, but that they equal them, if not surpass them, in the vanity of their desires.
But this by the by
Though in truth the observation falls in with the main intention of this discourse, which is not framed to flatter our follies, or touch them with a light hand, but plainly to point them out; that by recalling to your mind, what manner of persons we really are, I might better lead you to the apostle's inference, of what manner of persons ye ought to be, in all holy conversation and godliness? looking for, and hastening unto the coming of the day of God.
The apostle, in the concluding verse of this argument, exhorts, that they who look for such things be diligent, that they be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless ;and one may conclude with him, that if the hopes or fears, either the reason or the paflions of men are to be wrought upon at all, it must be from the force and influence of this awakening consideration in the text :-" That all these things shall be diffolved,--that this vain and perishable scene must change, that we who now tread the stage, must shortly be summoned away ;--that we are creatures but