Page images

paradise ; and therefore it is more for our happiness to be translated from earth to heaven, than to have lived always in an earthly paradise : you will all grant, that the state of good men, when they go out of these bodies, before the resurrection, is a happier life than paradise was, for it is to be with Christ, as St. Paul tells us, which is far better, Phil. i. 23. And when our bodies rise again from the dead, you will grant they will be more glorious bodies than Adam's was in innocence : for the first man was of the earth carthly, but the second man is the Lord from heaven, 1 Cor. xv. 47. Adam had an earthly mortal body, though it should have been immortal by grace ; but at the resurrection our bodies shall be fashioned like unto Christ's most glorious body : The righteous shall shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of the father : that as we have born the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly, 1 Cor. XV. 49. So that our redemption by Christ has infinitely the advantage of Adam's fall, and we have no reason to complain, that by man came death, since by man also came the resurrection of the dead. That St. Paul might well magnify the grace of God in our redemption by Christ, above his justice and severity, in punishing Adam's sin with death, Rom.t. 15, 16, 17. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift: for if through the offence of one many be dead ; much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, haih abounded urto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift : for the judgement was by one to condemnation; but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man's offence, death reigned by one ; much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Where the apostle magnifies the grace of God upon a fourfold account: 1. That death was the just reward of sin, it came hy the offence of one, and was an act of justice in God; whereas our redemption by Christ is the gift of grace, the free gift, which we had no just claim to. 2. That by Christ we are not only delivered from the effects of Adam's sin, but from the guilt of our own : For though the judgement was by one to condemnation

; the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 3. That though we die in Adam, we are not barely made alive again in Christ, but shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ; which is a much happier life, than what we lost in Adam. 4. That as we die by one man's offence, so we live by one too ; By the righteousness of one, the free gift comes upon all men unto justification of life. We have no reason to complain, that the sin of Adam is imputed to us to death, if the righteousness of Christ purchase for us eternal life. The first was a necessary consequence of Adam's losing paradise ; the second is wholly owing to the grace of God.

Thus we see, what it is that makes us mortal: God did not make death ; he created us in a happy and immortal state, but by man sin entered into the world, and death by sin. Whatever aversion then we have to death, should beget in us a great horror of sin, which did not only at first make us mortal, but is to this day both the cause of death, and the sting of it: no degree indeed of virtue now can preserve us from dying ; but yet virtue may prolong our lives, and make them happy, while sin very often hastens us to the grave, and cuts us off in the very midst of our days. An intemperate and lustful man destroys the most vigorous constitution of body, dies of a fever, or a dropsy, or rottenness and consumptions; others fall a sacrifice to private revenge, or public justice, or a divine vengeance, for the wicked shall not live out half their days. However, setting aside some little natural aversions, which are more easily conquered, and death were a very innocent, harmless, nay, desirable thing, did not sin give a sting to it, and terrify us with the thoughts of that judgement, which is to follow : quarrel not then at the divine justice in appointing death; God is very good, as well as just in it, but vent all your indignation against sin ; pull out this sting of death, and then you will see nothing but smiles and charms in it; then it is nothing but putting off these mortai bodies, to reassume them again with all the advantages of an immortal youth. It is certain indeed we must die,

this is appointed for us, and the very certainty of our death will teach us that wisdom which may help us to regain a better immortality than we have lost.

SECT. II. How to improve this consideration, that we

must certainly die.

FOR, 1. If it be certain that we must die, this should teach us frequently to think of death, to keep it always in our eye and view : for, why should we cast off the thoughts of that which will certainly come, especially when it is so necessary to the good government of our lives, to remember that we must die ? If we must die, I think it concerns us to take care, that we may die happily, and that depends upon our living well ; and nothing has such a powerful influence upon the good government of our lives, as the thoughts of death. I have already shewed you, what wisdom death will teach us ; but no man will learn this, who does not consider what it is to die ; and no man will practise it, who does not often remember that he must die ; but he that lives under a constant sense of death, has a perpetual antidote against ths follies and vanities of this world, and a perpetual spur to virtue.

When such a man finds his desires after this world enlarge beyond, not only the wants, but the conveniences of nature, thou fool, says he to himself, what is the meaning of all this? what kindles this insatiable thirst of riches ? why must there be no end of adding house to house, and field to field ? is this world thy home, is this thy abiding city ? dost thou hope to take up an eternal rest here? vain man! thou must shortly remove thy dwelling, and then whose shall all these things be ? death will shortly close thy eyes, and then thou shalt not so much as see the God thou worshipest; the earth shall shortly cover thee, and then thou shalt have thy mouth and belly full of clay and dust. Suc! thoughts as these will cool our desires to this present world ; will make us contented when we have enough, and very charitable and liberal of what we can spare : for what should we do with more in this world, than will carry us through it ? What better and wiser use can we make of such riches, as we cannot carry with us into the other world, than to return them thither beforehand in acts of piety and charity, that we may receive the rewards and recompences of them in a better life? that we may make to ourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when we fail, they may receive us into everlasting habitations.

When he finds his mind to begin to swell, and to encrease as fortune and honors do, Lord, thinks he, what a bubble is this! which every breath of air can blow away. How vain a thing is man in his greatest glory, who appears gay and beautiful like a flower in the spring, and is as soon cut down and withered! Though we should meet with no change in

« PreviousContinue »