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purposes; it answer'd his designing idea, SerM. and contained a glorious display of his per
X. fections, particularly his goodness; yet with respect to human happiness it is utterly infufficient: Which kind of vanity arises not from the state and nature of outward things themselves, for that is just as it should be under the direction of perfect wisdom; but partly from the constitution of the human mind, which is plainly intended for purposes beyond this present scene, and partly from mens irregular desires and expectations, whereby being led to flatter themselves with foolish hopes of contentment; and fatisfaction of mind, in the poffeffion of some worldly good, they are plunged into perpetual disappointments and vexation of spirit. The preacher proves his doctrine by a general survey of the course of this world, which, though governed by steady counsel, is so various, and to our understanding uncertain, that no man knows what outward events may happen to him, nor what is really and in the whole for his advantage. He examines also particular things, on which men set their hearts, hoping for great happiness in them, such as riches, grandeur, knowledge, reputation for wisdom, and religious
SERM. professions, with a laborious external devo.. X. tion; and he thews that none of all these
come up to what our nature determines us ultimately to pursue, that is folid and lafting happiness, which indeed is to be despaired of under the sun, that is, from all temporal and earthly enjoyments.
: What then ? fhall we abandon altogether the hope of any good, 'at least, while we are in this world ? Thall we give up ourselves to an utter despondency, as Solomon tells us in this book, chapter ii. 20. He caused bis beart to despair of any good from his labour ? No certainly; there is a real and solid good which human nature is capable of even now, though but in its infancy of being; and by a due improvement of the present opportunities, it is prepared for a greater, even a complete felicity hereafter. The sum of this is to fear God and keep his Commandments, which our author says, is the all of man, the whole of his interest and of his duty; and it is not comprehended in the things under the fun, which he calls vanity. Not only so, there are some sentiments, a certain temper of mind and behaviour, even with respect to these fublunary things, which prevents inconveniencies, temptations, and in
quietude from them; nay, and makes them fub- SERM,
X. servient to our highest interests, the occasions of improving our minds in virtue, and fitting them for more excellent enjoyments, so
Of this there is a remarkable and very comprehensive instance in the text, Whereas the generality of men, on the first face of objects and events, as they appear to sense, immediately engage their desire or aversion, and determine their pursuit; they eagerly follow after what at first seems agreeable, with profuse delight, and as eagerly flee from the contrary. Festival solemnities, and parties of pleasure where mirth is ini dulg'd without any restraint, have à gay inviting appearance ; most people are therefore fond of them, and readily embrace every opportunity of such entertainment but events which have a more severe and mournful aspect, such as bring death to remembrance, are studiously avoided. Now Solomon advises the very reverse of this; he judges it better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting ; to accustom our hearts to the attentive consideration of afflicting occurrences, particularly death, than indulge them in licentious jollity; for though the latter is preferr'd at present by
SERM.weak and careless minds, yet it has a danX.
gerous tendency, and often proves bitternefs in the end : But the other, in 'its first appearance less pleasing to the senses, is more reasonable in itself, and contributes to the necessary instruction of the understanding, and bettering the heart. I shall endeavour in the following discourse, first, to explain a little farther what the preacher here recommends, Sorrow as better than laughter, the going to the house of mourning, and having our hearts there, rather than in the houfe of feafting and mirth. Secondly, the reasons he infifts on for enforcing his advice, namely, that death is the end of all men; therefore it is for the advantage of the living to lay it to heart, and to render the thoughts of it familiar to them, whereby they shall increase in wisdom and virtue.
First, I am to explain what the preacher here recommends, forrow as better than laughter, going to the house of mourning, and having our bearts there, rather than the house of feafting and mirth. The expreffions are plainly proverbial, and the defign of them is not fulfill'd merely by the external actions, which are mentioned in a literal serise: What wisdom, what merit or virtue
is there in going to funeral folemnities, any SERM.
fhould designedly engage our attention to