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1 Cor. vii. 31.
better, by rational consideration, to work content in our- SERM. selves, using the brevity and frailty of our life as an argu- XL. ment to sustain us in our adversity, than only to find the end thereof as a natural and necessary means of evasion from it.
Serious reflection upon our mortality is indeed, upon many accounts, a powerful antidote against discontent; being apt to extirpate the most radical causes thereof.
Is it because we much admire these worldly things, that we so much grieve for the want of them ? this will quell that admiration; for how can we admire them, if we consider, how in regard to us they are so very transitory and evanid ? How can we deem them much worth the having, when we can, for so little time, enjoy them, must fo
very soon quite part from them?
How can we dote on the world, seeing the world, as 1 Joh. ii. 27. St. John saith, passeth away, and the depre thereof.
How can we value any worldly glory, since all the Eccl. i. 3, glory of men is, as St. Peter telleth us, as the flower of the grafs; fince, as the Psalmist faith, man in honour abideth Pfal. xlix. not, but is like the beasts that perish.
How can we set our heart on riches, considering that Prov. xxvii. riches are not for ever, nor can, as the Wise Man faith, deliver from death; that, as St. James admonisheth, The James i. 11. rich man fadeth in his ways; that it may be faid to any rich man, as it was to him in the Gospel, Thou fool, this Heb. xi. 25. night thy life shall be required of thee, and what thou hast prepared to whom shalt it fall? How can we fancy pleasure, seeing it is but agóoxaspas åtórauois, a very temporary fruition; seeing, however we do eat, or drink, or play, it 1 Cor. xv. followeth, the morrow we shall die ?
How can we even admire any secular wisdom and knowledge, seeing that it is, as the Psalmist telleth us, true of every man, that his breath goeth forth, he returneth Psa. xlvi. 4. to his earth, in that very day his thoughts peris; particularly it is seen that wise men die, no otherwise than as the Pfa.xlix.10. foolish and brutish person perisheth; that, as Solomon with Eccl.ix. 10.
ii. 14. regret observed, There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither we are going.
12. lxxxii. 6.
24. xi. 4.
SERM. Do we admire the condition of those, who, upon the XL,
stage, do appear in the state of kings, do act the part of wealthy men, do talk gravely and wisely like judges or philosophers for an hour or two? If we do not admire those shadows and mockeries of state, why do we admire any appearances upon this theatre of the world, which are scarce a whit less deceitful, or more durable than they?
Is it an envious or disdainful regret at the advantages of others before us, (of others perhaps that are unworthy and unfit, or that are, as we conceit, no more worthy and capable than ourselves,) that gnaweth our heart? is it, that such perfons are more wealthy, more honourable, in greater favour or repute than we, that vexeth us? The confideration how little time those slender preeminences will last, may (if better remedies want due efficacy) serve toward
rooting out that disease: the Pfalmift doth several times Pfa. xxxvii. prescribe it: Fret not thyself, saith he, against evil doers,
neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity; for
they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the Psa xlix.17. green herb: and again, Be not afraid when one is made
rich, and when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dieth he shall carry nothing away, his glory shall not
descend after him: and he being fallen into this scurvy Psa. lxxiii. distemper, did follow his own prescription, I was, saith he, 3, 17. envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the
wicked until I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I their end; surely thou didst set them in Nippery
places How are they brought into desolation as in a Prov. xxiii. moment! So likewise doth Solomon prescribe : Let not,
faith he, thine heart envy finners : Why not? because furely there is an end, and thine expectation shall not be cut off ; there will be a close of his undeserved profperity, and a good success to thy well-grounded hope. So whatever doth breed discontent, the reflection upon our mortal and frail state will be apt to remove it.
It was that which comforted Job, and fortified his paJob xiv. 14, tience under so grievous pressures : All the days of my
appointed time, said he, I will wait till my change come :
he would not be weary while he lived of his a Mictions, be- SERM. cause the days of man are few, and full of trouble: if they XL. . are full of trouble, and that be a saddening consideration; Gen. xlvii. yet they are few, and that maketh amends, that is com- 9. fortable.
7. I add, that it is somewhat consolatory to consider, that the worse our condition is here, the better we may hupe our future state will be; the more trouble and sorrow we endure, the less of worldly satisfaction we enjoy here, the less punishment we have to fear, the more comfort we may hope to find hereafter: for as it is a woful thing to have received our portion, to have enjoyed our confolation in this life, so it is a happy thing to have undergone our pain here. A purgatory under ground is probably a fable; but a purgatory upon earth bath good foundations ; God is wont so to order it, that all men, that especially good men, shall undergo it: for, What fon is there whom Heb. xii. 7. the father doth not chafien ? All that will live godly in 2 Tim. iii. Christ Jefus mus suffer perfecution.
8. A like consolation it is to consider, that wealth and prosperity are great talents, for the improvement of which we must render a strict account, so that to whom much is given, from him much shall be required; so that they are, in effect, a burden, from which poverty includes an exemption : for the less we have, the less we have to do, the less we are responsible for; our burthen is finaller, our account will be more easy.
9. I shall, in reference to our condition and the nature of those things which cause our discontent, but propose one consideration more, or ask one question: What is it Tävun derne
rivipitra that we do want, or wait for? Is it any good we want,
άνδραποδίδε; which by our care and industry we can procure; is it any mai nagov,
Eire, dioevil that aMieteth us, which by the like means we can
μαχυντος ως evade? If it be so, why then do we not vigorously apply wóvor visiti,
τοις δόγμαourselves to the business h; why do we not, instead of idle vexation and ineffectual complaints, use the means offered To Epia.
σιν τους εαυ- .
SERM. for our relief? Do we like and love trouble? let us then XL. be content to bear it, let us hug it and keep it close; if
not, let us employ the forces afforded us by nature, and by occasion, to repel and remove it.
But if we grieve and moan, because we cannot obtain some good above our reach, or not decline fome unavoid. able evil, what do we thereby but palpably express our folly, and wilfully heighten our woe; adding voluntary displeasure to the heap of necessary want or pain; impressing more deeply on ourselves the sense of them i in such a case patience is instead of a remedy', which, though it do not thoroughly cure the malady, yet it somewhat alleviateth it, preventing many bad symptoms, and alsuaging the paroxysms thereofk. What booteth it to wince and kick against our fortune? to do so will inflame us, and make us foam, but will not relieve or ease us: if we cannot get out of the net, or the cage, to flutter and flounce will do nothing but batter and bruise us!.
But farther, to allay our discontents, let us consider the world, and general state of men here.
1. Look first upon the world, as it is commonly managed and ordered by men: thou perhaps art displeased, that thou dost not prosper and thrive therein; that thou dost not share in the goods of it; that its accommodations and preferments are all snapt from thee; that thy pretences are not satisfied, and thy designs fail: this thou dost take to be somewhat hard and unequal, and therefore art grieved. But if thou art wise, thou shouldst not wonder; if thou art good, thou shouldst not be vexed hereat: for thou hast not, perhaps, any capacity for this world; thy temper and disposition are not framed to suit with its way; thy principles and rules do clash with it, thy resolutions and designs do not well comport with prosperity here; SERM. thou canst not, or wilt not use the means needful to com- XL. pass worldly ends : thou perhaps hast a meek, quiet, modest, fincere, steady disposition; thou canst not be pragmatical and boisterous, eager and fierce, importunately troublesome, intolerably confident, unaccountably versatile and various : thou hast certain pedantic notions about right and wrong, certain romantic fancies about another world, (unlike to this,) which thou dost (tiffly adhere to, and which have an influence upon thy actions : thou hast a fqueamish conscience, which cannot relish this, cannot digest that advantageous course of proceeding; a scrupulous humour, that hampereth thee, and curbeth thee from attempting many things which would serve thy purpose; thou hast a spice of filly generosity, which maketh divers profitable ways of acting (such as forging and feigning, supplanting others by detraction' and calumny, soothing and flattering people) to be below thee, and unworthy of thee; thou thinkest thyself obliged, and art peremptorily resolved to observe ftrict rules of justice, of humanity, of charity, to speak as thou meanest, to do as thou wouldest be done to, to wrong no man anywise, to confider and tender the case of other men as thine own: thy designs are honest and moderate, conducible to (or at least consistent with) the public good, injurious or hurtful to no man; thou carriest on thy designs by fair ways, by a modes care and harmless diligence; nor canst be drawn to use any other, how seemingly needful soever, which do savour of fraud, violence, any sort of wrong or baseness: thou haft an honest pride and haughtiness of mind, which will not let thee condescend to use those lly tricks, crooked ways and shifts, which commonly are the compendious and most effectual ways of accomplishing designs here: thou art, in fine, (like Helvidius Priscus,) in thy dealings, and proceedings, pervicax recti, wilfully and peevishly honef: such an one perhaps thou art, and such is thy way; and canst thou hope to be any body, or get any thing here? Thall such a superstitious fop, such a conscientious fimple
Levius fit patentia Quicquid corrigere eft nefas. Hor. k Animus æquus optimum eft ærumnæ condimentum. Plaut. Rud.
1 'Επί ζημία χρημάτων, και θανάτου, και άρρωστία και τους λοιπούς της συμπίπτεσιν ημίν δεινούς αλγώντες και αθυμώνεις και μόνον αδεμίαν από ταύτης καρτέμεθα παραμυθίαν, αλλά και επιτείνομεν τα δεινά. Chry/. Ανδρ. 3.
Οι δε τα πάθει δηλωθέντες αδέν μεν κερδαίνεσιν ολοφυρόμενοι, ανιαρώς δε βιώενται και παροξυνέσι των όλων των ηγεμόνα, Theod. Ερ. 15.