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it covers all disgrace, wipes off all tears, silences all complaint, buries all disquiet and discontent. King Philip of Macedon once threatened the Spartans to vex them sorely, and bring them into great straits; but answered they, can he hinder us from dying ? that indeed is a way of evading which no enemy can obstruct, no tyrant can debar men from ; they who can deprive of life, and its conveniences, cannot take away death from them. There is a place, Job tells us, 'where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary be at rest : where the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor : the small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.' It is therefore but holding out a while, and a deliverance from the worst this world can molest us with shall of its own accord arrive unto us; in the mean time it is better that we at present owe the benefit of our comfort to reason, than afterward to time; by rational consideration to work patience and contentment in ourselves; and to use the shortness of our life as an argument to sustain us in our affliction, than to find the end thereof only a natural and necessary means of our rescue from it. The contemplation of this cannot fail to yield something of courage and solace to us in the greatest pressures; these transient and short-lived evils, if we consider them as so, cannot appear such horrid bugbears, as much to affright or dismay us; if we remember how short they are, we cannot esteem them so great, or so intolerable. There be, I must confess, divers more noble considerations, proper and available to cure discontent and impatience. The considering that all these evils proceed from God's just will and wise providence; unto which it is fit, and we on all accounts are obliged readily to submit; that they do ordinarily come from God's goodness and gracious design toward us; that they are medicines (although ungrateful, yet wholesome) administered by the Divine Wisdom to prevent, remove, or abate our distempers of soul, (to allay the tumors of pride, to cool the fevers of intemperate desire, to rouse us from the lethargy of sloth, to stop the gangrene of bad conscience ;) that they are fatherly corrections, intended to reclaim us from sin, and excite us to duty; that they serve as instruments or occasions to exercise, to try, to refine our virtue ; to beget in us the hope, to qualify BAR. VOL. III.
us for the reception of better rewards : such discourses indeed are of a better nature, and have a more excellent kind of efficacy; yet no fit help, no good art, no just weapon is to be quite neglected in the combat against our spiritual foes. A pebble-stone hath been sometimes found more convenient than a sword or a spear to slay a giant. Baser remedies (by reason of the patient's constitution, or circumstances) do sometime produce good effect, when others in their own nature more rich and potent want efficacy. And surely frequent reflexions on our mortality, and living under the sense of our lives' frailty, cannot but conduce somewhat to the begetting in us an indifferency of mind toward all these temporal occurrents ; to extenuate both the goods and the evils we here meet with; consequently therefore to compose and calm our passions about them.
3. But I proceed to another use of that consideration we speak of emergent from the former, but so as to improve it to higher purposes. For since it is useful to the diminishing our admiration of these worldly things, to the withdrawing our affections from them, to the slackening our endeavors about them; it will follow that it must conduce also to beget an esteem, a desire, a prosecution of things conducing to our future welfare; both by removing the obstacles of doing so, and by engaging us to consider the importance of those things in comparison with these. By removing obstacles, I say; for while our hearts are possessed with regard and passion toward these present things, there can be no room left in them for respect and affection toward things future. It is in our soul as in the rest of nature; there can be no penetration of objects, as it were, in our hearts, nor any vacuity in them: our mind no more than our body can be in several places, or tend several ways, or abide in perfect rest; yet somewhere it will always be; somewhither it will always go; somewhat it will ever be doing. If we have a treasure here, (somewhat we greatly like and much confide in,) our hearts will be here with it ; and if here, they cannot be otherwhere; they will be taken up; they will rest satisfied; they will not care to seek farther. If we affect worldly glory, and delight in the applause of men, we shall not be so careful to please God, and seek his favor. If we admire and repose confidence in riches, it will make us neglectful of God, and distrustful of his providence: if our mind thirsts after, and sucks in greedily sensual pleasures, we shall not relish spiritual delights, attending the practice of virtue and piety, or arising from good conscience: adhering to, attending on masters of so different, so opposite a quality is inconsistent; they cannot abide peaceably together, they cannot both rule in our narrow breasts; we shall love and hold to the one, hate and despise the other. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him ;' the love of the world, as the present guest, so occupies and fills the room, that it will pot admit, cannot hold the love of God. But when the heart is discharged and emptied of these things; when we begin to despise them as base and vain ; to distaste them as insipid and unsavory; then naturally will succeed a desire after other things promising a more solid content; and desire will breed endeavor; and endeavor (furthered by God's assistance always ready to back it) will yield such a glimpse and taste of those things, as will so comfort and satisfy our minds, that thereby they will be drawn and engaged into a more earnest prosecution of them. When, I say, driving on ambitious projects, heaping up wealth, providing for the flesh, (by our reflecting on the shortness and frailty of our life,) become so insipid to us, that we find little appetite to them, or relish in them; our restless minds will begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness, desiring some satisfaction thence: discerning these secular and carnal fruitions to be mere husks, (the proper food of swine,) we shall bethink ourselves of that better nourishment (of rational or spiritual confort) which our Father's house doth afford to his children and servants. Being somewhat disentangled from the care of our farms and our traffics; from yoking our oxen, and being married to our present delights; we may be at leisure, and in disposition to comply with divine invitations to entertainments spiritual. Experiencing that our trade about these petty commodities turus to small account, and that in the end we shall be nothing richer thereby; reason will induce us, with the merchant in the gospel,
to sell all that we have' (to forego our present interests and designs) for the purchasing that rich pearl of God's kingdom,
which will yield so exceeding profit; the gain of present comfort to our conscience, and eternal happiness to our souls. fine, when we consider seriously, that we have here no abiding city,' but are only sojourners and pilgrims on earth ;' that all our care and pain here do regard only an uncertain and transitory state; and will therefore suddenly as to all fruit and benefit be lost unto us ; this will suggest unto us, with the good patriarchs, κρείττονος ορέγεσθαι πατρίδος, “to long after a better country;' a more assured and lasting state of life; where we may enjoy some certain and durable repose ; to tend homeward, in our desires and hopes, toward those eternal mansions of joy and rest prepared for God's faithful servant in heaven. Thus will this consideration help toward the bringing us to inquire after and regard the things concerning our future state ; and in the result will engage us to compare them with these present things, as to our concernment in them and the consequence of them to our advantage or damage, whence a right judgment and a congruous practice will naturally follow. There be four ways of comparing the things relating to this present life with those which respect our future state : comparing the goods of this with the goods of that, the evils of this with the evils of that ; the goods of this with the evils of that; the evils of this with the goods of that. All these comparisons we may find often made in Scripture; in order to the informing our judgment about the respective value of both sorts; the present consideration intervening, as a standard to measure and try them by.
First, then, comparing the present goods with those which concern our future state, since the transitoriness and uncertainty of temporal goods detract from their worth, and render them in great degree contemptible; but the durability and certainty of spiritual goods doth increase their rate, and make them exceedingly valuable; it is evident hence, that spiritual goods are infinitely to be preferred in our opinion, to be more willingly embraced, to be more zealously pursued, than temporal goods; that in case of competition, when both cannot be enjoyed, we are in reason obliged readily to part with all these, rather than to forfeit our title unto, or hazard our hope of those. Thus in the Scripture it is often discoursed : The world,' saith St.
John,' passeth away, and the desire thereof; but he that doeth the will of God, abideth for ever.' The world, and all that is desirable therein, is transient; but obedienee to God's commandments is of an everlasting consequence; whence he infers that we should not love the world;' that is, not entertain such an affection thereto as may any way prejudice the love of God, or hinder the obedience springing thence, or suitable thereto.
• All flesh is grass,' saith St. Peter, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass; the grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away; but the word of the Lord endureth for ever :' all worldly glory is frail and fading, but the word of God is eternally firm and permanent; that is, the good things by God promised to them who faithfully serve him, shall infallibly be conferred on them to their everlasting benefit; whence it follows that, as he exhorts, we are bound to gird up the loins of our mind, to be sober, and hope to the end ; to proceed and persist constantly in faithful obedience to God. Charge those,' saith St. Paul, 'who are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God; that they do good, be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; treasuring up for themselves a good foundation for the future, that they may attain everlasting life.' Since, argues he, present riches are of uncertain and short continuance ; but faith and obedience to God, exercised in our charity and mercy toward men, are a certain stock improvable to our eternal interest; therefore be not proud of, nor rely on those, but regard especially, and employ yourselves on these. Our Saviour himself doth often insist on and inculcate this comparison ; Treasure not unto yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust do corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but treasure up to yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal. Do not take care for your soul what
shall eat, and what ye shall drink; nor for your body, what ye shall put on; but seek first the kingdom of God.' • Labor not for the food that perisheth, but for the food that abideth to eternal life ; sell your substance, and give alms; provide yourselves bags that wax not old; an indefectible treasure