תמונות בעמוד

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

^"'t*""*""'though not so agreeable to flesh and bloods are most worthy of the mind, and may have a salutary 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 consideration, 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 sorrow 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 fort5 he calls upon men to rejoice rathe fruit of their labour, and in their portion under the fun; not to indulge themselves in the excesses of sensual gratification^;: which, as he speaks, takes away the hearty darkens the understanding, and enervates the mindj but to receive with gratitudq^q and enjoy with chearfulness the external

[ocr errors]

gists of liberal providence within the bounds S E R of innocence and virtue. Almighty God hat. so framed the human nature, adapting its'—r—' constitution 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 capable 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 sorrows themselves have a salutary tendency to our advantage. But there is a subordination 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 exercise, which in a great measure depends upon ourselves, yet not without sufficient intimation from the author of nature how it is to be conducted. None of our affections are to be pronounced evil ; they are the contrivance and the workmanship of a wise and good agent, and they all serve good purposes j but experience shews that they are . capable of being abused; by being immo


$ERM.derately indulged, some grow to a faulty ex* X. cess, so that they obtain an ascendant in the

Vj"^r""'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 mixrare of good (I mean natural good) and evil, we are called to grief and joy alternately, avoiding extremes of both. Excessive sorrow dissipates 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 instances j but otbe error of multitudes lies on the other side 5 their light and fluttering spirits have no taste for any thing but what is gay and mirthful j by habit this grows to an utter impotence of mind, and a perfect aversion to every thing which has a fad appearance, or is so much as grave and serious: Now this is no way agreeable to the state of man upon ^' earth; earth j for, as Job fays, he is of few dafsSzR.ti' end full of trouble., nay, be is born to it, and X. it is as natural to him as for the sparks to fy~"'^ Upward; and Solomon tells us, that Gui

to man vexation, and travel, and grief, as a part of his portion under the fun. It is therefore necessary 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, since they are the common lot of mankind, and a discipline which divine providence uses, in order to produce the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Particularly, though death be naturally the aversion of all living things, and seems to be a very dismal subject, we should ticcustom 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 such a preparation, as shall happily prevent the greatest dangers. To enforce this upon our minds, I shall in the next place,

. Consider the reasons insisted on in the text, namely, that death is the end of all men, r therefore it is for the advantage of the living to lay it to heart, and to render the thoughts SER M.of it familiar to them, that they may inX. crease in wisdom and virtue. The first reaWv*","'son-is, that death is the end of all men; why then should we put it from our thoughts? Why decline the serious consideration of it? If indeed unthoughtfulness were any fecuirity 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 banish 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 inevitable; it will come whether we think of it or" not; and it will be the more surprising arid5* the more terrible, the less it has been consi-' 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 fronr mortality, and indeed none profess such an expectation. The experience of all age9 which have gone before us, and the instances which are daily before our eyes, shew that this is the common fate of mankind: Their condition in life has always bepn, and still is, very unequal with re/pect > . to

« הקודםהמשך »