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Imagination dances to music like this. How delightful to follow such obliging direction! Can one doubt the sincerity, or resist the suggestions, of such disinterested Friends ? Such Difinterested Friends - Credulous boy! to believe thus implicitly the pretences of those who would lead you altray from your duty, from your parents, from the path of Wisdom, which your heart tells you in a sober hour is the only path of peace! You know not that all this while they are practising on your fimplicity, for some purpose of their own ; whether it be pleafure, or gain, or importance, or perhaps the sad consolation of having one companion more in vice and misery, like that forlorn spirit who hopes to find some mitigation of his woe in plunging others into the same lost condition.
The characters I paint, feel at moments that they are lost; and can their attempts to ensnare you be prompted by true regard?
When they have accomplished their ends on an unwary youth, what is more common than to see them abandon him to wretchednefs and infamy? Trust me, Sir, the fellowship of men without prins ciple, as they should be called, of men of honour, .men 'of spirit, men of the world, as they call themselves, ought to bė fhunned like the pestilence. Even when they do not wish to taint you with the last degree of. wickednefs, their intimacy is still" destructive. If you ask, How? I will tell you. It insensibly relaxes the nerves of resolution, warps the ingenuity of Nature, contaminates the fancy, enfames the passions, pollutes the whole current of life in its source, by infilling disaffection to religion, undutifulness to parents, averfion to authority, a di fregard for the fabbath, a disbelief of the fcripture, an irreverence for the name of God, a contempt of order and decency, a neglect of reputation among the virtuous and the grave, a rooted diflike to serious conversation, to serious men, to serious objects of every kind.
I say not that these effects are produced all at once, or that, by consorting with the giddy and the profligate, you will certainly proceed quite so far. But all experience confirms the general remark of the Heathen Poet, quoted by a Christian Apostle, that so evil communication cor“ rupts good manners.” It is sure to operate on the soul, as poison operates on the body, with more or less malignity as its composition is more or less subtile and potent. The person lives not at any age, least of all at that when the mind is known to be most susceptible, who can avoid taking a tincture from those with whom he mingles, not, as we hinted before, transiently and through necessity, but habitually and from choice. «. He " that walketh with wise men shall be « wise; but a companion of fools fall “ be destroyed,” said the deepest observer
of life that ever existed among the sons of Adam. With what unequalled emphasis has he cautioned young men against the first approaches to familiarity with the bad! I say, the First Approaches, wellknowing with what reliftless and increafing rapidity those are drawn in, who venture but to touch on that dreadful whirlpool. Would to God his words were engraved on your hearts, in characters which no time and no temptation should have power to efface! " Enter not into the “ path of the wicked; and go not in the « way of evil men. Avoid it: pass by it: “ turn away from it, and pass away”. where the several ideas rise above each other with a beautiful gradation, and form all together one of the most pointed and awakening admonitions that could fall from the pen of Wisdom. No; there is not in all her school a lesson of more importance, than that of Thunning even the remotest tendencies to unnecessary association, or what is commonly termed Friend
Thip, with unprincipled men; in whiche: number- we do not comprehend only the debauched, the openly impious, or the fcandalously prophane; but the diffipated t00; yes, the Diffipated in the least criminal acceptation of that word, or those who, on a.competition between duty and amusement, are accustomed to prefer the Jaft; transgressing, or forgetting, or superficially performing, the first, for the sake of: enjoying more freely their light and airy pleasures.
I am not ignorant, that, when preachers and others inveigh against the triling turn of the times, they muft lay their account with being considered by many as rigid censors, or at best as mere declaimers. Provided no enormity is committed, provided the general rules of decorum are observed, Where, it has been frequently asked, is the evil. of a gay life? I will answer the question, by asking another : Is there no evil- remcnber, Sir, I