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SERM. les at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, XLVII. and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day con
upon you unawares. Watch ye therefore, and pray, that ye may be counted worthy to escape-and to stand before the Son of man.
V. I shall adjoin but one use more, to which this conGderation may be subservient, which is, that it may help to beget and maintain in us (that which is the very heart and soul of all goodness) sincerity: sincerity in all kinds, in our thoughts, words, and actions. To keep us from harbouring in our breasts such thoughts, as we would be afraid or ashamed to own; from speaking otherwise than we mean, than we intend to do, than we are ready any where openly to avow; from endeavouring to seem what we are not; from being one thing in our expreslions and conversations with men; another in our hearts, or in our clofets: from acting with oblique respects to private interests or passions, to human favour or censure; (in matters, I mean, where duty doth intervene, and where pure conscience ought to guide and govern us;) from making profeflions and oftentations, (void of substance, of truth, of knowledge, of good purpofe,) great semblances of peculiar sanctimony, integrity, scrupulosity, spirituality, refinedness, like those Pharisees fo often therefore taxed in the Gospel; as also from palliating, as those men did, defigos of ambition, avarice, envy, aniinosity, revenge, perverse humour, with pretences of zeal and conscience. We should indeed strive to be good (and that in all real strietness, aiming at utmost perfection) in outward act and ap
pearance, as well as in heart and reality, for the glory of Rom. xii. God and example of men, (providing things hones in the
fight of all men;) but we must not shine with a false luftre, nor care to seem better than we are, nor intend to serve ourselves in seeming to serve God; bartering fpiritual
commodities for our own glory or gain. For since the Rom. ii. 16. day approaches when God will judge (Tà xguard &vSZÍA DY) Eccl. xii. the things men do fo studiously conceal; when Gud fall
bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, 2 Cor. v. whether it be good or whether it be evil; fince we must all
appear (or rather be all made apparent, be manifested and SERM. discovered) at the tribunal of Chrift: fince there is nothing XLVII. covered, which shall not be revealed, nor hid, that Mall not be oj gàg see known; so that whatever is spoken in the ear in closets shall pasărei nuas
, be proclaimed on the housetops: fince at length, and that anda tai within a very short time, (no man knows how soon) the panic divan. whispers of every mouth (the closest murmurs of detrac- Luke xii. tion, flander, and sycophantry) shall become audible to 2, 3. every ear; the abftrufest thoughts of all hearts (the closest malice and envy) shall be disclosed in the most public theatre before innumerable spectators; the truth of all pretences shall be thoroughly examined; the just merit of : every person and every cause shall with a most exact scru. tiny be scanned openly in the face of all the world; to what purpose can it be to juggle and baffle for a time; for a few days (perhaps for a few minutes) to abuse or to amuse those about us with crafty diffimulation or deceit? Is it worth the pains to devise plausible shifts, which shall inftantly, we know, be detected and defeated; to bedaub foul designs with a fair varnish, which death will presently wipe off; to be dark and cloudy in our proceedings,whenas a clear day (that will certainly dispel all darkness and scatter all mists) is breaking in upon us; to make vizors for our faces, and cloaks for our actions, whenas we must very shortly be exposed, perfectly naked and undisguised, in our true colours, to the general view of angels and men? Heaven sees at present what we think and do, and our conscience cannot be wholly ignorant or insensible; nor can earth itself be long unacquainted therewith. Is it not much better, and more easy (since it requires no pains or study) to act ourselves, than to accommodate ourselves to other unbeseeming and undue parts; to be upright in our intentions, consistent in our discourses, plain in our dealings, following the single and uniform guidance of our reason and conscience, than to shuffle and shift, wandering after the various, uncertain, and inconstant opinions or humours of men? What matter is it, what clothes we wear, what garb we appear in, during this posture of travel and sojourning here; what for the pre
SERM. sent we go for; how men esteem us, what they think of XLVII.
our actions ? St. Paul at least did not much stand upon it; 1 Cor. iv. 3. for, with me, said he, it is a very small thing (énázisov, the
least thing that can come under consideration) to be judged of you, or of human day, (that is, of this present transitory, fallible, reversible judgment of men.) If we mean well and do righteously, our conscience will at present satisfy us, and the divine (unerring and impartial) sentence will hereafter acquit us; no unjust or uncharitable censure shall prejudice us: if we entertain base designs, and deal unrighteously, as our conscience will accuse and vex us here, so God will shortly condemn and punish us; neither shall
the most favourable conceit of men stand us in stead. 1 Cor. iii. Every man's work shall become manifest, for the day shall
declare it; because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire (that is, a severe and strict inquiry) shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. I cannot insist more on this point; I shall only say, that, considering the brevity and uncertainty of our present state, the greatest fimplicity may justly be deemed the truest wisdom; that who deceives others, doth cozen himself most; that the deepest policy, used to compass or to conceal bad designs, will in the
end appear the most downright folly. Tõroizun I might add to the precedent discourses, that Philoτιλιότης τη Ηθες το πα. .
sophy itself hath commended this consideration as a prooar nuepeo per and powerful instrument of virtue, reckoning the pracTuluy disti- tice thereof a main part of wisdom; the greatest proficient gor. Anton. therein in common esteem, Socrates, having defined phi
losophy, or the study of wisdom, to be nothing else but Merét Javáto, the study of death; intimating also, (in Plato's Phædon,) that this study, the meditation of death, and preparation of his mind to leave this world, bad been the constant and chief employinent of his life: that likewise, according to experience, nothing more avails to render the minds of men sober and well composed, than fuch spectacles of mortality, as do impress this confideration upon
them. For whom doth not the light of a coffin, or of a grave gaping to receive a friend, perhaps, or an ancient acquaintance; however a man in nature and state altoge
ther like ourselves; of the mournful looks and habits, of SERM. all the sad pomps and fole:nnities attending man unto his XLVII. long home, by minding him of his own frail condition, affect with some serious, some honest, some wise thoughts? And if we be reasonable men, we may every day supply the need of such occasions, by representing to ourselves the necessity of our soon returning to the duft; dreffing in thought our own hearses, and celebrating our own funerals; by living under the continual apprehension and sense of our transitory and uncertain condition; dying daily, or becoming already dead unto this world. The doing which effectually being the gift of God, and an especial work of his grace, let us of him humbly implore it, saying after the holy Prophet, Lord, so teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Amen.
THE DANGER AND MISCHIEF OF DELAYING
Psalm cxix. 60.
I made hafte, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. SERM.
This Psalm (no less excellent in virtue, than large in XLVIII. bulk) containeth manifold reflections upon the nature, the
properties, the adjun&ts and effects of God's law ; many sprightly ejaculations about it, (conceived in different forms of speech; some in way of petition, some of thanksgiving, some of resolution, some of assertion or aphorism;) many useful directions, many zealous exhortations to the observance of it; the which are not ranged in any ftria order, but (like a variety of fair flowers and wholesome herbs in a wide field) do with a grateful confufion lie difpersed, as they freely did spring up in the heart, or were suggested by the devout fpirit of him who indited the Psalm; whence no coherence of sentences being designed, we may consider any one of them absolutely, or fingly by itself.
Among them, that which I have picked out for the subject of my discourse implieth an excellent rule of practice, authorized by the Psalmist's example: it is propounded in way of devotion or immediate address to God; unto whose infallible knowledge his conscience maketh an appeal concerning his practice; not as boasting thereof, but as praising God for it, unto whose gracious instruction and succour he frequently doth ascribe all his performances: but the manner of propounding I shall not infift