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Particular Advice to
them; but we fhall find the Caufes thereof to be, for the most part, thofe ill Cuftoms of Sloth and Negligence, which grew upon them in their Youth, by being over tenderly and foftly brought up, and not fufficently inured to Diligence and Industry, to Application and Attention of Mind. For by a moft prepofterous Education, inftead of being exercised in folid Reason, for the right apprehenfion of Things, and inftructed in good Morals for the Government of their Lives, and true Religion for the faving of their Souls; The first Principles that are commonly taught them, are, how to please their Senfes, and pamper their Ap petites, from whence one may easily guefs, what fort of Habits and Customs, they are like to take up.
3. If we confider the Allurements of the World, and where it is that they chiefly prevail, we may foon perceive, that the Perfons, who above others are most dangerously enticed by them,. are those whom the Men of the World do most flatter, and who enjoy the Things of the World in the greatest abun dance.
'Tis the Unhappiness of Young Gentlemen of good Estates, that they have commonly round about them many flattering Companions, dependents, and Servants, who wheedle and decoy them, by high Praises, and mean Compliances; who applaud their Vices, as well as their Virtues, extolling whatever they fay or do, or at least extenuating and excufing what cannot with any Pretence be commended. Thefe go along with all their Fancies, and entertain them with all forts of things, which may take off their Relish for what is Wife and Good, that they may ferve their own Designs, upon the weakness of their Conduct, and the corruption of their Manners. The World is full of bafe mercenary Souls, who continually make their Court to the Rich and Opulent. The Wealthy young Heir fhall be follow'd by many of them, who will of
fer up to him their poysonous Incenfe, make Panegyricks upon his very Blemishes, and Caprices, and endeavour by Creeping and Colloguing, or any bafe Artifices, to infinuate into him, that they may participate of fome of the Influences of his Plenty. These fervile Spirits will be cruelly obfequious to all the Humours and Lufts of their Young Mafter, and the ready Inftruments of accomplishing his moft irregular Defires. 'Tis their Intereft to please a Perfon, from whom they hope to receive Favours and Benefits; and that they may ingraciate themfelves, they reprefent the leaft fha dow of any good Quality appearing in him, as a most fubftantial Virtue; and colour and conceal all the Inftances of his Sin and Folly, under fome fpicious Name, L or artificial Difguife. If he be Proud, Infolent, and Arrogant, they will call him Noble and Generous; if he be Covetous, he fhall be ftiled Frugal; if Prodigal, Magnificent. If he be Malicious and Revengeful, he shall be said to be Wary and Cautious; if he be Rafh, Bold, and Daring, he shall be applauded for his Courage. Now, fince all forts of Perfons, efpecially the Young, the Gay, and the Rich, are apt to che rifh a good Opinion of themselves, and love to be commended and Flattered, rather than seriously advised, how hard muft it be for fuch a one to correct any of his Faults, who is heartned, and encouraged in them all, by the foothing Careffes, and fawning Praifes, of thofe falfe Friends, and diffembling Parafites, that continually feed him with fair Words, and fcruple not to excufe and palliate the worst of his Actions.
Neither is his Danger lefs from the Things themselves, for the fake of which, his fervile Flatterers do fo much abuse him; viz. The Riches, the Pleasures, and the Honours of the World Thefe are the three great Baits by which the World Entices, Captivates, and Destroys the Children of Men, and none more than the Sons of the Nobles. Some general Account of these dangerous Snares, as they often prove, has been
already given, and I fhall now more diftin&ly and par→ ticularly confider each of them.
To begin with the First, The Danger arising from the deceitfulness of Riches. Of this we have a notable Inftance in that Wealthy Young Man in the Gospel, who with much feeming Zeal and forwardness, came running to our Saviour, and with a Reverence worthy to be given to fuch an extraordinary Teacher, kneeled down before him, and made this most important Inquiry, Good Master, what fhall I do, that I may inhe herit eternal Life? Mark 10. 17. To which Chrift replies at the 19th Verfe, Thou knoweft the Commandments, Do not commit Adultery; do not Kill, &c. As if 4 he had faid, You are not ignorant of thefe Laws and Precepts, the obfervance of which, God has declared to be the Condition of Life and Happiness. The Rich Young Man hereupon hoping to be commended for his Virtue,faid unto Chrift, Mafter, all these have I kept from my Touth, Verse 20. adding further, as St. Matthew relates, What lack 1 yet? Is there any thing more to be done by me. Then Jefus beholding him loved him,and said unto him, One thing thou lackeft: Go thy way, fell whatfoever thou hast, and give to the Poor, and thou shalt have Treasure in Heaven; and come and take up the Crofs and follow me. Verse 21. Or according to St. Matthew; If thou wilt be perfect, go and fell what thou hast, and give to the Poor, &c. Matt. 19. 21. that is to fay, Though you think you have already performed the indifpenfable Conditions of obtaining eternal Life; yet if you aim at a great degree of Perfection, and will do a Noble Act of extraordinary Piety, then fhew your brave contempt of the World, diftribute your Wealth among the Poor; lay afide all Earthly Affairs, and fo you will be duly prepared to be a follower of me through Afflictions and Sufferings, and to be a Preacher of my Gofpel, for which you fhall have an extraordinary degree of Reward in Heaven. But this Young Man of Quality preferred his Eftate here below, before all the immenfe
Treafures above, which our Lord had promised him. For be immediately forfook Chrift, and went away grieved, because be bad great Poffeffions, Verse 22.
Our Saviour indeed doth not feem to have bidden bim part with his Estate, as a thing abfolutely neceflary to his being a good Man, but only as a thing neceflary at that time, to his being one of his most eminent Dif ciples. This Injunction of our Bleffed Lord, Sell what foever thou haft and give to the Poor,is no general or common Precept of univerfal Obligation to all the Poffeffors of Wealth: For if they make a liberal and Charitable Di ftribution of fome competent part thereof, to relieve the Wants of the Indigent, they may very Lawfully and Comfortably enjoy all the Remainder, provided they be Pious and Juft, Sober and Moderate in the ufe of it. But this was a fpecial and peculiar Precept, particularly given to that Rich Young Man for his Trial, that our Saviour might hereby convince him of his inordinate Love of the World, and the Things thereof, which he was unwilling to relinquish; and alfo that he might from hence take occafion to reprefent the Dangers and Temptations, which great Riches create to the Poffeffors of them. For in the very next Words we meet with those his fevere Sayings concerningRichMen, Verfes 23. 24, 25. Fefus looketh round about and faith unto his Difciples, How hardly fhall they that have Riches enter into the Kingdom of God. And his Difciples were aftonifhed at his Words. But Jefus answered again and faith unto them, Children, How hard is it for them that trust in Riches to enter into the Kingdom of God? It is easier for a Camel to go through the Eye of a Needle, than for a rich Man to enter into the Kingdom of God. At this Difcourfe his Disciples were not only mightily furprized, and ftartled, but fo exceedingly amaz'd, that they cried out,Who then can be Javed? Verse 26. They imagined that Christ affirmed it to be an impoffible thing for a Rich Man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Which Miftakes of theirs he presently corrects, by an intimation, that he chiefly fpake of those that truft in their Riches? and that the
great Obftacle in their way to Salvation, was not the bare poffeffing of Wealth, but the repofing their Con fidence in it, and entertaining an immoderate Affecti on for it. But yet, because 'tis no eafie thing for those that have Riches not to put their Truft in them; there fore he again afferts the great difficulty of the Rich Man's entring into the Kingdom of God, comparing it to a Camel's paffing through the Eye of a Needle, according to a Proverbial Expreffion among the Jews, and especially the Talmudifts, concerning a Matter very hard to be performed, though there were no Impoffibility in the Cafe; only he fubftitutes the Camel inftead of the Elephant, which was used in ther Pro verb. And the Rich Man big with his Wealth, and carrying a large and heavy load of it, rather for others than for himself, is Elegantly enough reprefented by a Camel, as the Strait Gate which leads to Life, is by the Eye of a Needle.
I confefs what our Saviour here fpeaks, may be thought chiefly to refer to his own Times, and the first Ages of the Church, when there was often a neceffity of forfaking all Earthly Poffeffions to follow Chrift; together with the fuffering no fmall Scorn and Derifion from the World, to which Rich Men expofed themfelves, by taking fo outwardly mean a Profeffion upon them. Upon which account it is the lefs to be wondred at, if in thofe difficult Times fuch were very hardly brought to fubject themselves to the Gofpel. Eufebius in his Sixth Book has particularly obferved, That under the Perfecution by Decius, the Rich Men among the Christians were most easily and miferably foiled. But yet in the Hiftories of all Ages, as well as thofe of the Primitive and Perfecuted Church, we fhall find how few comparatively there have been of the Wealthy and Opulent, that have been troly and ftedfaftly Religious; And the Experience of all Times has fhewn, how hard it it is to have an affluence of Riches, and not be too much exalted by them, or place too great a Confidence