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SERM. useful thing comparatively; exceeding folly, so far as
XLVI. light exceedeth darkness; but since light itself is not perArt die bemanent, but must give way to darkness, the difference cov oi myló- foon vanished, and his opinion thereof abated; confidering, mais proces that as it happened to the fool, so it happened to him, be Eccl. ii. 15. breaks into that expoftulation; And why then was I more
wife? to what purpose was such a distinction made, that fig. nified in effect so little? And indeed the testimony of this great personage may serve for a good epilogue to all this discourse, discovering sufficiently the Nender worth of all earthly things: seeing he, that had given himself induftriously to experiment the worth of all things here below, to sound the depth of their utmost perfection and use; who had all the advantages imaginable of performing it; who flourished in the greatest magnificences of worldly pomp and power; who enjoyed an incredible affluence of all riches; who tasted all varieties of most exquigte pleasure; whose heart was (by God's special gift, and by his own in
dustrious care) enlarged with all kind of knowledge (furi Kings iv. nished with notions many as the sand upon the sea-shore)
above all that were before him; who had pofseffed and enjoyed all that fancy could conceive, or heart could with, and had arrived to the top of secular happiness; yet even he with pathetical reiteration pronounces all to be vanity and vexation of spirit ; altogether unprofitable and uolatisfactory to the mind of man, And so therefore we may justly conclude them to be; so finishing the first grand advantage this present consideration affordeth us in order to that wisdoin, to which we should apply our hearts.
I should proceed to gather other good fruits, which it is apt to produce, and contribute to the same purpole; but since my thoughts have taken so large scope upon that former head, so that I have already too much, I fear, exercised your patience, I shall only mention the rest. As this confideration doth, as we have seen, First, dispose us rightly to value these temporal goods, and moderate our affections about them; so it doth, Secondly, in like manner, conduce to the right estimation of temporal evils; and thereby to the well tempering our passions in the re
fentment of them; to the begetting of patience and con- SERM. tentedness in our minds. Also, Thirdly, it may help us XLVI. to value, and excite us to regard those things, good or evil, which relate to our future state; being the things only of a permanent nature, and of an everlasting consequence to us. Fourthly, it will engage us to husband carefully and well employ this short time of our present life: not to defer or procrastinate our endeavours to live well; not to be lazy and loitering in the dispatch of our only considerable business, relating to eternity ; to embrace all opportunities, and improve all means, and follow the best compendiums of good pra&ice leading to eternal bliss. Fifthly, it will be apt to confer much toward the begetting and preserving sincerity in our thoughts, words, and actions; causing us to decline all oblique designs upon present mean interests, or base regards to the opinions or affections of men; bearing fingle respects to our conscience and duty in our actions; teaching us to speak as we mean, and be what we would feem; to be in our hearts and in our clofets, what we appear in our outward expreffions and conversations with men. For considering, that within a very short time all the thoughts of our hearts shall be disclosed, and all the actions of our lives exposed to public view, (being strictly to be examined at the great bar of divine judgment before angels and men,) we cannot but perceive it to be the greatest folly in the world, for this short present time to disguise ourselves ; to conceal our intentions, or finother our actions. What hath occurred, upon these important subjects, to my meditation, I must at present, in regard to your patience, omit. I shall close all with that good Collect of our Church.
Almighty God, give us grace, that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this morial life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Auicn.
THE CONSIDERATION OF OUR LATTER END.
PSALM XC. 12.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply out
hearts unto wisdom. IN SERM. discourfing formerly upon these words, (expounded XLVII. according to the most common and paffable interpretaJob xiv. 14. tion) that which I chiefly observed was this: That the All the days serious confideration of the shortness and frailty of our of my apo pointed
life is a fit mean or rational instrument subservient to the time will I bringing our hearts to wisdom; that is, to the making us my change discern, attend unto, embrace, and profecute such things,
as according to the dictates of right reason are truly beft for us.
1. The truth of which observation I largely declared from hence, that the said confideration disposeth us to judge rightly about those goods, (which ordinarily court and tempt us, viz. worldly glory and honour; riches, pleasure, knowledge; to which I might have added wit, strength, and beauty,) what their juft worth and value is; and consequently to moderate our affections, our cares, our endeavours about them; for that if all those goods be uncertain and transitory, there can be no great reason to prize them much, or to affect them vehemently, or to spend niuch care and pains about them.
2. I shall next in the same scales weigh our temporal evils; and say, that also, The confideration of our lives' brevity and frailty doth avail to the passing a true judg- SERM. ment of, and consequently to the governing our paffions, XLVII. and ordering our behaviour in respect to all those temporal evils, which either according to the law of our nature, or the fortuitous course of things, or the particular dispensation of Providence do befall us. Upon the declaration of which point I need not infft much, fince what was before discoursed concerning the opposite goods doth plainly enough infer it; more immediately indeed in regard to the mala damni, or privationis, (the evils which confift only in the want or loss of temporal goods,) but sufficiently also by a manifest parity of reason in respect to the mala sensus, the real pains, crosses, and inconveniences that assail us in this life. For if worldly glory do hence appear to be no more than a tranfient blaze, a fading show, a hollow sound, a piece of theatrical pageantry, the want thereof cannot be very considerable to us. Obscurity of condition (living in a valley beneath that dangerous height, and deceitful luftre) cannot in reason be deemed a very fad or pitiful thing, which should displease or discompose us : if we may thence learn that abundant wealth is rather a needless clog, or a perilous snare, than any great convenience to us, we cannot well esteem to be poor a great infelicity, or to undergo losses a grievous calamity; but rather a benefit to be free from the distractions that attend it; to have little to keep for others, little to care for ourfelves. If these present pleasures be discerned hence to be only wild fugitive dreams; out of which being soon roused we shall only find bitter regrets to abide; why should not the wanting opportunities of enjoying them be rather accounted a happy advantage, than any part of misery to us? If it seem, that the greatest perfection of curious knowledge, of what use or ornament foever, after it is hardly purchased, must foon be parted with ; to be fimple or ignorant will be no great matter of lamentation: as those will appear no solid goods, so these consequently must be only umbræ malorum, phantasms, or shadows of Sen. Ep. 99. evil, rather than truly or substantially fo; (evils created by fancy, and sublisting thereby; which reason should, and
SERM. time will surely remove ;) that in being impatient or dirXLVII. consolate for them, we are but like children, that fret and
wail for the want of petty toys. And for the more real or pofitive evils, such as violently assault nature, whose impreffions no reason can fo withstand, as to extinguish all distaste or affli&tive sense of them; yet this consideration will aid to abate and assuage them; affording a certain hope and prospect of approaching redress. It is often seen at sea, that men (froin unacquaintance with such agitations, or from brackish steams arising from the salt water) are heartily fick, and discover themselves to be so by apparently grievous fymptoms; yet no man hardly there doth mind or pity them, because the malady is not supposed dangerous, and within a while will probably of itself pass over; or that however the remedy is not far off; the fight of land, a taste of the fresh air will relieve them: it is near our case: we passing over this troublesome fea of life; from unexperience, joined with the tenderness of our conflitution, we cannot well endure the changes and crosses of fortune; to be tossed up and down; to fuck in the sharp vapours of penury, disgrace, fickness, and the like, doth beget a qualm in our stomachs; make us nauseate all things, and appear forely distempered; yet is not our condition fo dismal as it seems; we may grow hardier, and wear out our sense of affliion; however, the land is not far off, and by disembarking hence we shall suddenly be discharged of all our molestations. It is a common solace of grief, approved by wise men, fi gravis, brevis eft; fi longus, levis ; if it be very grievous and acute, it cannot continue long, without intermillion or respite; if it abide long, it is supportable a; intolerable pain is like lightning, it destroys us, or is itself instantly destroyed. However, death at length (which never is far off) will free us; be we
ágra róvs gag är gou řx izen xgóvor. Æschyl. apud Plutarch. de Aud. Poet. sub finem.
Το μεν αφόρητον εξάγει το δε χρονίζον φορητόν. Αnt. vii. 5. 33.
Sumini doloris intentio invenit finem: nemo poteft valde dolere diu: fic nos amantiffima noftri natura difpofuit, ut dolorem aut tolerabilem, aut brevem faceret. Son. Ep. ; 4.