תמונות בעמוד

SERM, the condition of men, and other points of X. a parallel nature and tendency, which,

though not fo agreeable to flesh and blood, are most worthy of the mind, and may have a falutary effect to the improving and entertaining its higher powers: For it is to be observed, the text says, the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools in the house of mirth; the bodily presence is of very small con Gideration, but the

proper employment of the thoughts and affections is principally to be regarded, and the other chosen by a wise man, only with a view to promote it.

Secondly, when mournful are declared better than joyful occasions, and forrow than mirth, the meaning is not to banish all pleasure, even of the external senses, from human life. Solomon in this book often : takes care to prevent misconstructions of that fort; he calls upon men to rejoice in ... the fruit of their labour, and in their

portion under the sun; not to indulge themfelves in the excesses of sensual gratification, which, as he speaks, takes away the heart, darkens the understanding, and enervates the mind; but to receive with gratitude, and enjoy with chearfulness the external


gifts of liberat providence within the bounds SERM.
of innocence and virtue. Almighty God has X,
so framed the human nature, adapting its
conftitution to our state of being, that we
have a variety of affections answering to the
various objects without us, which may be
in several ways necessary to our preservation,
and to such happiness as we are now capa-
ble of. We have desires towards those
things which contribute to life and health,
and there is pleasure annexed to the use of
them; we have fears, directing us to avoid
what may be hurtful or inconvenient; and
our forrows themselves have a falutary ten-
dency to our advantage. But there is a sub-
ordination in our powers and affections ;
some higher in their kinds than others, and
more important to the ends of our being ;
and there is a proper regulation of their ex-
ercise, which in a great measure depends
upon ourfelves, yet not without sufficient
intimation from the author of nature how
it is to be conducted. None of our affec-
tions are to be pronounced evil ; they are the
contrivance and the workınanship of a wife
and good agent, and they all serve good
purposes; but experience shews that they are
capable of being abused; by being immo-


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SERM. derately indulged, fome grow to a faulty exa X. cess, so that they obtain an ascendant in the

mind, forming its temper, while others are neglected, nay, industriously weakened, and the objects of them avoided, which are no less, perhaps more suitable to our condition, and useful to the main ends of life. This is the case of sorrow and mirth, the due ballance of which makes a proper constitution of temper well fitted to our present state, and an overgrowth of either is hurtful. As here we have a mixture of good (I mean natural good) and evil, we are called to grief and joy alternately, avoiding extremes of both. Excessive forrow diffipatės the vigour and composure of the mind, takes away the relish of our enjoyments, not excepting the highest and best of them, and will greatly indispose us for our duty in some of the most important inftances; but the error of multitudes lies on the other fide; their light and fluttering spirits have no taste for any thing but what is gay and mirthful; by habit this grows to an utter impotence of mind, and a perfect aversion to every thing which has a fad appearance, or is fo much as grave and serious: Now this is no way agreeable to the date of man upon


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earth; for, as Job- fays, he is of feto days SERN
and full of trouble, nay, he is born to it, and X.
it is as natural to him as for the sparks to fly
upward; and Solomon tells us, that God bas
given to man vexation, and travel, and grief,
as a part of his portion under the fun. It is
therefore neceffary to reconcile our minds
to a serious thoughtfulness about things,
which for the present seem not to be joyous
but grievous, that we may know the better
how to bear our part in them, fince they
are the common lot of mankind, and a dil-
cipline which divine providence uses, in or-
der to produce the peaceable fruits of righw
teousness. Particularly, though death be na-
turally the aversion of all living things, and
feems to be a very dismal subject, we should
faccustom ourselves to think of it, whereby
the horror and fear of it may be abated,

and, which is of greater moment, we may
be led to fuch a preparation, as shall happily
prevent the greatest dangers. To enforce
this upon our minds, I shall in the next

Consider the reafonsinfisted on in the text, 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


Serm.of it familiar to them, that they may in
X, crease in wisdom and virtue. The first rea-

fon is, that death is the end of all men;
why then should we put it from our thoughts?
Why decline the ferious consideration of it?
If indeed unthoughtfulness were any secu.
rity against the event itself, if declining to
entertain it in our meditations, or a supine
negligence about it, could prevent the fa
tal stroke, there would then be reason to ba?
nish the gloomy disturbing spectre, which
casts a dark shadow over this world, and palls
our appetite to the pleasures of life: But,
alas, it is quite otherwise; death is inevita-
ble; it will come whether we think of it or
not ; and it will be the more surprising and
the more terrible, the less it has been confi-
dered. This now is one obvious sense of
the assertion in the text; death is the end of
all men; none of mankind can with any
shew of reason, expect to be exempt from
mortality, and indeed none profess such an
expectation. The experience of all

which have gone before us, and the inftan-
ces which are daily before our eyes, Thew
that this is the common fate of man-
kind: Their condition in life has always
been, and still is, very unequal with respect


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