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And First of all, it will be easie to shew, that Godliness doth, above all Things, tend to make a Man wife and prudent, skilful and dexterous in the Management of his Affairs, of what nature soever. For it doth very much clear and improve a Man's Understanding, not only by a certain natural Efficacy it hath (as I shall shew hereafter) to purifie the Blood and Spirits, upon which the Perfection of our Intellectual Operations doth exceedingly much depend; but also by dispelling those adventitious Clouds that arise in the discerning Faculty, from the noisome Fumes of Lust and Passion.
All Vice, in the very Nature of it, depraves and distorts a Man's Judgment, fills our Minds with Prejudices, and false Apprehenfions of Things ; and no Man that is under the Dominion of it, cạn possibly have such a ' free use of his Reason as otherwise he might; for he will commonly see things, not as they are in themselves, but in those Disguises and false Colours which his Passion puts upon them : Upon which account he cannot avoid but he will be often imposed upon, and commit a Thousand Errors in the Management of his Affairs, which the vertuous Man, whose Reason is pure and untinctur'd, is secured from. It cannot be imagined, that either he should foresee Events so clearly, or spy Opportunities so sagaciously, or weigh Things fo impartially, or deliberate so calmly, or transaft so cautiously, as the Man that is free from those manifold Prepossessions which his Mind is fraught with
We see this every Day verified in Men of all Ranks and Conditions, of all Callings and Employments. What a Multitude of Inconveniencies, as to matter of dealing between Man and Man, doch an intemperate Appetite betray Men to? How filly and foolish is the most shrewd Man, when Wine hath gotten into his Head? There is none so simple in his Company, but, supposing him to be sober, and to have Designs upon him, he shall be able to over-reach him. What a World of Advantages doth the angry Man give to him he deals with, by the Hastiness and Impatience of his Spirit? How often doth a Man do that in the Fury and Expectancies of a Luit, for which when his Ardours are over, he is ready to bite his Nails for very Vexation ?
It is thus, more or less, with all kind of Vice; they craze a Man's Head, and cast a Mift before his Eyes, and make him often lose himself in those very Ways wherein he pretends to be most skilful : So that it cannot be denied, that Vertue is of a singular use in all Matters wherein we have Occasion to make use of our Reason, and doth secure us from a multitude of Indiscretions, which, without it, we should unavoidably commit.
But, Secondly, Godliness is also an excellent Means to secure a Man's Diligence in the discharge of his Calling and Employment, which is also a Matter of very great Consequence, in order to our thriving in the World: For it is the diligent Hand that maketh Rich, and the Man that is diligent in his Business, that shall stand before Kings; as Solomon tells us.
Now the Obligations that Religion layeth upon us, to be careful in this point, are far stronger than what can arise from any other Respect or Consideration whatsoever; for it obligeth us to mind our Business, not only for our own, but for God's Sake : It chargeth the matter upon our Consciences, and represents it to us as a part of that Service we owe to our Creator; and upon the due Performance of which, no less than the everlasting Welfare of our Souls doth depend : For it assures us, that he that will call us to account for every idle Word, will much more do so, for the idle Expence
of our Time, and the Abuse and not Improvement of those Talents that he hath entrusted us with. So phat though we had no worldly Inducement to make us diligent in our Callings, though we were sure we Thould fuffer no Prejudice in our Temporal Affairs by Idleness, and the Neglect of our Business, (the Fear of which, yet is the only Principle that puts worldly Men upon Action) nevertheless we were infinitely concerned, not to be flack or negligent in this Matter, in regard it is a point that will be so severely exacted of us in the other World.
I know but one Objection that can be made against this Discourse; and it is this, That what Engagement foever, Religion lays upon us to the careful spending of our Time, yet its own Exercises, Prayer and Reading, and Meditation, take up so great a Portion of it, which might be spent in the Works of our ordinary Employment, that in effect it rather
hinders our Attendance on our Business, than promotes it. But to this it is easily answered, That there is no Man so engaged in the World, but may, if he please, make both his Business and his Devotions conlilt together, without prejudicing of either.
They have very false Apprehensions of Re. ligion, that think it obliges us to be always upon our Knets, or always poring upon some good Book : No, we do as truly serve God, and perform Acts of Religion, when we labour honestly in our Vocation, as when we go to Church, or say our Prayers.
It is true, indeed, we ought to have our Hearts in Heaven as much as is possible, and to that end, we ought to pray continually: but what hinders, but we may do this in the midst of our Business? There is no Employment doth so entirely engross a Man's Mind, but he may find leisure, if he please, many Times a Day, to entertain good Thoughts, to quicken and re-inforce his purposes, to cart up a short Prayer, or a Wish to God Almighty. And this I dare say for your Encouragement, that such a devout Frame of Heart, such frequent and sudden Dartings of your Souls to God, while you are at your Business, will be so far from hindring or distracting you in it, that they will make you go about it with much more Vigour and Alacrity.
But farther, I would ask any Man that makes the foresaid Objection, Supposing Religion Ten Times more expensive of our Time than really is is, yet, whether Viçe and Sin
be not much more so, than it would be? What a multitude of idle Avocations from, and Interruptions in, our Business duth that Daily occasion unto Men? What a Number of impertinent Discourses, unprofitable Visits, needless Points of Gallantry, long Diversions by Drink, and Play, and Company; not to mention a great many other Debauches, doth it frequently engage Men in? And yet these we count no hindrance to our Business; these we complain not of; but to spend a quarter of that Time in fome devout Exercise, this is intolerable, it wastes too much of our Time, our Occafions will not permit it. Such partial and unjust Estimators of Things are we. But I proceed,
In the Third Place, then, as for Frugality and good Husbandry, which is another necessary Requisite for the getting of Wealth; Religion is unquestionably the best Mistress of it in the World; for it retrencheth all the Exorbitancies and Wantonness of our Desires, which are the Things that pick the Money out of our Purses; and teacheth us to live after the Measures of Nature, which every Body knows are little, and cheap. It perfectly cuts off all those idle Expences, with which the Estates of other Men stand almost continually charged, The Modesty of it cloaths us at a small rate; and its Temperance_spreads for us, though a neat, yet a frugal Table. The Attendance it requires on our Business, will not allow us to embezzel our Money in Drinking or Gaming: Nor will that Purity which is infeparable from it, ever let us know what the vast and