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SER M. nations may have plac'd upon it, but according to that which in it felf, and in the accounts of right Reason and Religion, it really bears.
The Preacher therefore hath, in this Chapter, laid together a Set of Religious Paradoxes; which, however they may startle and shock us a little, upon the first hearing, yet, when closely examin'd, will appear to be clear unquesti onable Truths, by which the whole course of our Lives ought to be fteer'd and govern'd.
In the first Verse of this Chapter (the Verse before the Text) he tells us, that a Good Name is better than precious Ointment, and the Day of one's Death than the Day of one's Birth. A Good Name is bet‹ ter than precious Ointment; i. e. rich Oils, and sweet Odors, (in the ufe of which the People of the Eaft much delighted) are not half fo grateful, or valuable, as a good Reputation, well founded: This is more truly fragrant, more diffufive of its influence, more durable : it gives a Man
a Man greater comfort and refreshment, S E R M. while he is Living; and preferves him, when Dead, better than the moft precious Embalmings.
And agen, The day of one's Death is better than the day of one's Birth; i. e. the day of the Death of fuch an one, as poffeffes and deferves a Good Name; of such an one, as hath liv'd well, and dy'd well, is preferable by far to the day of bis Birth: for it gives him admittance into a State of perfect reft and tranquillity, of undisturb'd joy and happiness ; whereas the Day of his Birth was only an Inlet into a troublesome World, and the beginning of forrows.
And then it follows, very naturally, in the words of the Text, that It is better alfo to go to the Houfe of Mourning, than to go to the House of Feafting. As Death to a good Man is more advantageous than Life; fo to a wife Man the Contemplation of the First is more defirable than all the Enjoyments of the Latter: He had much rather be prefent
SER M. fent at the fad Solemnities of a Funeral, VI. than partake of thofe Festival Rejoycings,
which are usual in all Nations, but especially among the Jews, at the Birth of a Child.
Hard Doctrine this, to the Men of Liberty and Pleasure! who have said to themselves, Come on, let us enjoy the things that are prefent, let us fill our felves with cofily Wine and Ointments, and let no Flower of the Spring pafs by us ; let us crown our felves with Rofe-buds before they be wither'd: Hard Doctrine, I fay, it is to fuch Men as these; and which will run the hazard of not being entertain'd by them. The Wife Man therefore hath condefcended to prove, as well as affert it, and to back the fevere Rule, he hath lay'd down, with very convincing Reasons for that, faith he, is the End of all men, and the Living will lay it to heart. As if he had faid, This Dark and Melancholly State it will one day certainly come to Our share to try; and what must sometime or other be undergone, ought to be confider'd beforehand: this is the End of all
men; and all Men therefore fhould have SERM. their Eye and their Thoughts upon it. And then farther We are most of us so immers'd in the Pleasures, and fo taken up with the Follies of Life, that we need all methods of reducing our ftragling Thoughts and Defires, and of giving our felves a serious Frame and Compofure of Mind: and of all Methods, this of repairing to the House of Mourning is beft adapted to that Good End, and will foonest and most effectually bring it about; The Living will lay it to heart.
I have largely explain'd the Connexion and Meaning of the Words, which have been pitched upon to employ Your Thoughts on this mournful Occafion. The next thing fhould be, to excite You to a compliance with the Direction there given, by the particular Arguments suggested in the Text, and by feveral other powerful and moving Confiderations to prove to You, the Folly and Emptiness of a Life led all in Mirth and Jollity, and Pleasure; the Wisdom and Reasonableness of shifting the Scene fometimes, of
SERM-turning the Gloomy fide of things to wards our felves, of exchanging the Houfe of Feafting for the Houfe of Mourn-ing, and of making a discreet and decent ufe of those fad Opportunities of Reflection, which God, mercifully fevere, is pleas'd to put into our Hands.
But I am prevented in this part of my Discourse, by the Pious Design of this present Assembly; You are already doing that which I should recommend tơ You from the Text; paying the Tribute of Your Tears to the Memory of One, whofe Worth you knew, and whofe Lofs You fenfibly feel; and bewailing Her, under the different Characters She bore of a Wife, a Daughter, a Relation, a Miftrefs, a Friend.
All, therefore, I have to do, on this occafion, is, to fall in with Your Pious Grief, already rais'd, and to bear a part in it, by dwelling together with You a while on the Character of that Incomparable Lady, whose Death we lament; by aniting, as well as I am able, the scatter'd parts