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adversity, to remember that it is passing away, and suddenly will be gone.
Put, I say, the worst case that can be : that it were certainly determined, and we did as certainly know it, that those things which cause our displeasure should continue through our whole life ; yet since our life itself will soon be spun out, and with it all our worldly evils will vanish, why are we troubled ? What is said of ourselves must in consequence be truly applied to them: “They flee like a shadow, and continue not;' they are 'winds passing and coming not again ;' they are · vapors appearing for a little time, and then vanishing away;' they'wither like grass, and fade away as a leaf;' they may die before us, they cannot outlive us ; our life is but a handbreath: and can then our evils have any vast bulk ? Our age is as nothing, and can any crosses therein be then any great matter? How can any thing so very short be very intolerable? It is but öliyov ápri dut névres, being, as St. Peter speaketh, “a little while yet aggrieved ;' it is but pe por conv ögov, 'a small quantity, whatever it be of time,' as the Apostle to the Hebrews saith, that “ we need patience ;' it is but tú παραυτίκα ελαφρών της θλίψεως, “an affliction for a present inoment;' and therefore, as St. Paul intimateth, light and inconsiderable, that we are to undergo. We have but a very narrow strait of time to pass over, but we shall land on the firm and vast continent of eternity; when we shall be freed from all the troublesome agitations, from all the perilous storms, from all the nauseous qualms of this navigation; death (which may be very near, which cannot be far off) is a sure haven from all the tempests of life, a safe refuge from all the persecutions of the world, an infallible medicine of all the diseases of our mind and of our state: it will enlarge us from all restraints, it will discharge all our debts, it will ease us from all our toils, it will stifle all our cares, it will veil all our disgraces; it will still all our complaints, and bury all our disquiets; it will wipe all tears from our eyes, and banish all sorrow from our hearts : it perfectly will level all conditions, setting the high and low, the rich and poor, the wise and ignorant all together on even ground; smothering all the pomp and glories, swallowing all the wealth and treasures of the world.
It is therefore but holding out a while, and all our molesta
tion, of its own accord, will expire : time certainly will cure us; but it is better that we should owe that benefit to reason, and let it presently comfort us: it is better, by rational consideration, to work content in ourselves, using the brevity and frailty of our life as an argument to sustain us in our adversity, than only to find the end thereof as a natural and necessary means of evasion from it.
Serious reflexion on our mortality is indeed, on many accounts, a powerful antidote against discontent; being apt to extirpate the most radical causes thereof.
Is it because we much admire these worldly things, that we so much grieve for the want of them ? this will quell that admiration ; for how can we admire them, if we consider how in regard to us they are so very transitory and evanid ? How can we deem them much worth the having, when we can for so little time enjoy them, must so very soon quite part from them?
How can we dote on the world, seeing the world,' as St. John saith, 'passeth away, and the desire thereof.'
How can we value any worldly glory, since all the glory of men is,' as St. Peter telleth us, as the flower of the grass ;' since, as the psalmist saith, man in honor abideth not, but is like the beasts that perish.'
How can we set our heart on riches, considering tható riches are not for ever,' nor can, as the wise man saith, deliver from death ;' that, as St. James admonisheth, “The rich man fadeth in his ways ;' that it may be said to any rich man, as it was to him in the gospel, “ Thou fool, this night thy life shall be required of thee, and what thou hast prepared to whom shall it fall? How can we fancy pleasure, seeing it is but #pórkaipos årólavots, a very temporary fruition ; seeing, however we do eat, or drink, or play, it followeth, the morrow we shall die ?'*
How can we even admire any secular wisdom and knowlege, seeing that it is, as the psalmist telleth us, true of every man, that his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish ;' particularly it is seen that wise
* I Cor. xv. 32.
men die,' no otherwise than as 'the foolish and brutish person perisheth ;' that, as Solomon with regret observed, .There is no work, nor device, nor knowlege, nor wisdom in the grave whither we are going.'
Do we admire the condition of those, who on the stage do appear in the state of kings, do act the part of wealthy men, do talk gravely and wisely like judges or philosophers for an hour or two? If we do not admire those shadows and mockeries of state, why do we admire any appearances on this theatre of the world, which are scarce a whit less deceitful, or more durable than they ?
Is it an envious or disdainful regret at the advantages of others before us, (of others perhaps that are unworthy and unfit, or that are, as we conceit, no more worthy and capable than ourselves,) that gnaweth our heart ? is it, that such persons are more wealthy, more honorable, in greater favor or repute than we, that vexeth us? The consideration how little time those slender pre-eminences will last, may (if better remedies want due efficacy) serve toward rooting out that disease : the psalmist doth several times prescribe it : Fret not thyself,' saith he, "against evil doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity; for they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb:' and again, · Be not afraid when one is made rich, and when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dieth he shall carry nothing away, his glory shall not descend after him :' and he being fallen into this scurvy distemper, did follow his own prescription, 'I was,' saith he, envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked-until I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I their end; surely thou didst set them in slippery places-How are they brought into desolation as in a moment!' So likewise doth Solomon prescribe : • Let not,' saith he, 'thine heart envy sinners :' Why not? • because surely there is an end, and thine expectation shall not be cut off:' there will be a close of his undeserved prosperity, and a good success to thy well-grounded hope. So whatever doth breed discontent, the reflexion on our mortal and frail state will be apt to remove it.
It was that which comforted Job, and fortified his patience under so grievous pressures: All the days of my appointed
time,' saith he, ‘I will wait till my change come: he would not be weary while he lived of his afflictions, ' because the days of man are few, and full of trouble :' if they are full of trouble, and that be a saddening consideration; yet they are few, and that maketh amends, that is comfortable.
7. I add, that it is somewhat consolatory to consider that the worse our condition is here, the better we may hope our future state will be; the more trouble and sorrow we endure, the less of worldly satisfaction we enjoy here, the less punishment we have to fear, the more comfort we may hope to find hereafter: for as it is a woful thing to have received our portion, to have enjoyed our consolation in this life, so it is a happy thing to have undergone our pain here. A purgatory under ground is probably a fable; but a purgatory on earth hath good foundations; God is wont so to order it, that all men, that especially good men, shall undergo it: for, • What son is there whom the father doth not chasten ?' 'All that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution.'
8. A like consolation it is to consider that wealth and prosperity are great talents, for the improvement of which we must render a strict account, so that “to whom much is given, from him much shall be required;' so that they are, in effect, a burden, from which poverty includes an exemption : for the less we have, the less we have to do, the less we are responsible for ; our burthen is smaller, our account will be more easy.
9. I shall, in reference to our condition and the nature of those things which cause our discontent, but propose one consideration more, or ask one question : What is it that we do want, or wait for? Is it any good we want, which by our care and industry we can procure ; is it any evil that aftlicteth us, which by the like means we can evade? If it be so, why then do we not vigorously apply ourselves to the business; why do we not, instead of idle vexation and ineffectual complaints, use the means offered for our relief? Do we like and love trouble? let us then be content to bear it, let us hug it and keep it close ; if not, let us employ the forces afforded us by nature, and by occasion, to repel and remove it.
But if we grieve and moan, because we cannot obtain some good above our reach, or not decline some unavoidable evil,
what do we thereby but palpably express our folly, and wilfully heighten our woe; adding voluntary displeasure to the heap of necesary want or pain; impressing more deeply on ourselves the sense of them ? in such a case patience is instead of a remedy, which, though it do not thoroughly cure the malady, yet it somewhat alleviateth it, preventing many bad symptoms, and assuaging the paroxysms thereof. What booteth it to wince and kick against our fortune ? to do so will inflame us, and make us foam, but will not relieve or ease us : if we cannot get out of the net, or the cage, to flutter and flounce will do nothing but batter and bruise us.
But farther, to allay our discontents, let us consider the world, and general state of men here.
1. Look first on the world, as it is commonly managed and ordered by imen : thou perhaps art displeased that thou dost not prosper and thrive therein ; that thou dost not share in the goods of it; that its accommodations and preferments are all snapt from thee; that thy pretences are not satisfied, and thy designs fail : this thou dost take to be somewhat hard and unequal, and therefore art grieved. But if thou art wise, thou shouldst not wonder; if thou art good, thou shouldst not be vexed hereat: for thou hast not, perhaps, any capacity for this world; thy temper and disposition are not framed to suit with its way; thy principles and rules do clash with it, thy resolutions and designs do not well comport with prosperity here; thou canst not, or wilt not use the means needful to compass worldly ends: thou perhaps hast a meek, quiet, modest, sincere, steady disposition ; thou canst not be pragmatical and boisterous, eager and fierce, importunately troublesome, intolerably confident, unaccountably versatile and various: thou hast certain pedantic notions about right and wrong, certain romantic fancies about another world, (unlike to this,) which thou dost stiffly adhere to, and which have an influence on thy actions : thou hast a squeamish conscience, which cannot relish this, cannot digest that advantageous course of proceeding; a scrupulous humor, that hampereth thee, and curbeth thee from attempting many things which would serve thy purpose; thou hast a spice of silly generosity, which maketh divers profitable ways of acting (such as forging and feigning, supplanting others