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God into our hearts: it is only when we begin to discharge them as base and vaiu joys, that our restless minds will begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness: this topic enlarged on. With respect to the comparison of things relating to this life, with those of a future state, there are four ways of making it. 1. By comparing the goods of this with the goods of that: whence it will appear from the transitory nature and worthlessness of the one sort, and the durability and excellence of the other, which are to be preferred. 2. By comparing the evils of both states ; for seeing that the soon ceasing of temporal mischiefs should reasonably diminish the fear and mitigate the anguish of them, so the incessant continuance of spiritual evils, does, according to just estimation, equally augment their nature, &c. 3. By considering the good things of this life with the evils of that which is to come; for the enjoyment of these goods in comparison with the endurance of those evils, is but rejoicing for a moment, in respect of mourning to eternity: what indeed will it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul as a mulct? 4. By comparing the evils of this life with the benefits of the future: since the worst tempests of the one state will be soon blown over, but the good things of the other are immutable and perpetual, it is most reasonable that we freely undertake or patiently endure these for the sake of those, and comfort ourselves under all tribulations with the hope of that incorruptible inheritance which is laid up for us in heaven. This topic enlarged on.
IV. Another general benefit of this general consideration is, that it may engage us to a good improvement of our time; which is a very considerable piece of wisdom : for if time be, as Theophrastus truly called it, a thing of most precious value, then as it were a great folly to lavish it away unprofitably, so to be frugal thereof and careful to lay it out to the best advantage, (especially since every man has so small a store of it,) must be a special point of prudence: this topic enlarged on:
exhortations and instructions from profane authors, and from holy writ.
V. The last use mentioned, to which this consideration may be subservient, is, that it may help to beget and maintain in us sincerity in our thoughts, words, and actions. We should indeed strive to be good in outward act and appearance, as well as in heart and reality, for the glory of God and the example of men : but we must not shine with a false lustre; nor intend to serve ourselves in seeming to serve God, bartering spiritual commodities for our own glory and gain : for since the day approaches when every thing shall be made manifest before the tribunal of Christ, and the most secret thoughts of all hearts shall be disclosed, the truth of our pretensions will be then rigorously examined, and their just merits determined in the face of the whole world : he therefore who deceives others cozens himself most, and the deepest policy, used to compass or conceal bad designs, will in the end appear the most downright folly. Concluding observations respecting the lessons of philosophy on this head, and the use to be drawn from spectacles of mortality
THE CONSIDERATION OF OUR LATTER END.
PSALM XC.-VERSE 12.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts
In discoursing formerly on these words, (expounded according to the most common and passable interpretation,) that which I chiefly observed was this: that the serious consideration of the shortness and frailty of our life is a fit mean or rational instrument subservient to the bringing our hearts to wisdom; that is, to the making us discern, attend unto, embrace, and prosecute such things, as according to the dictates of right reason are truly best for us.
1. The truth of which observation I largely declared from hence, that the said consideration disposeth us to judge rightly about those goods, (which ordinarily court and tempt us, viz. worldly glory and honor; riches, pleasure, knowlege; to which I might have added wit, strength, and beauty,) what their just worth and value is; and consequently to moderate our affections, our cares, our endeavors 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 much care and pains about them.
2. I shall next in the same scales weigh our temporal evils ; and say, that also, the consideration of our lives' brevity and frailty doth avail to the passing a true judgment of, and consequently to the governing our passions, and ordering our beha
vior in respect to all those temporal evils, which either according to the law of our nature, or the fortuitous course of thinzs, or the particular dispensations of Providence do befal us. On the declaration of which point I need not insist much, since 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 consist 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 transient 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 lustre) cannot in reason be deemed a very sad 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 ourselves. 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 knowlege, of what use or ornament soever, after it is hardly purchased, must soon be parted with; to be simple 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 evil, rather than truly or substantially so; (evils created by fancy, and subsisting thereby; which reason should, and time will surely remove;) that in being impatient or disconsolate for them, we are but like children, that fret and wail for the want of petty toys. And for the more real or positive evils, such as violently assault nature, whose impressions no reason can so withstand, as to extinguish all distaste or afflictive 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 (from unacquaintance with such agitations, or from brackish steams arising from the salt water) are heartily sick, and discover themselves to be so by apparently grievous symptoms; yet no man bardly 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 sight of land, a taste of the fresh air will relieve them: it is near our case : we passing over this troublesome sea of life ; from unexperience, joined with the tenderness of our constitution, we cannot well endure the changes and crosses of fortune; to be tossed up and down ; to suck in the sharp vapors of penury, disgrace, sickness, and the like, doth beget a qualm in our stomachs; make us nauseate all things, and appear sorely distempered ; yet is not our condition so dismal as it seems; we may grow hardier, and wear out our sense of affliction; 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, si gravis, brevis est ; si longus, levis ; if it be very grievous and acute, it cannot continue long, without intermission or respite: if it abide long, it is supportable; 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 never so much tossed with storms of misfortune, that is a sure haven; be we persecuted with never so many enemies, that is a safe refuge; let what pains or diseases soever infest us, that is an assured anodynon, and infallible remedy for them all; however we be wearied with the labors of the day, the night will come and ease us; the grave will become a bed of rest unto us. Shall I die ? I shall then cease to be sick; I shall be exempted from disgrace ; I shall be enlarged from prison; I shall be no more pinched with want; no more tormented with pain.
Death is a winter, that as it withers the rose and lily, so it kills the nettle and thistle ; as it stifles all worldly joy and pleasure, so it suppresses all care and grief; as it hushes the voice of mirth and melody, so it stills the clamors and the sighs of misery; as it defaces all the world's glory, so