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SER M. nounces all to be vanity and vexation of Spirit: altoge
ther unprofitable and unsatisfactory to the mind of man.
And so therefore we may justly conclude them to be ; so finishing the first grand advantage this present consideration affordeth us in order to that wisdom, to which we should apply our hearts.
I should proceed to gather other good fruits, which it is apt to produce, and contribute to the fame purpose-; but since my thoughts have taken so large scope upon that former head, so that I have already too much, I fear, exercised your patience, I shall only mention the rest. As this consideration doth, as we have seen, First, dispose us rightly to value these temporal goods, and moderate our affections about them; so it doth, Secondly, in like manner, conduce to the right estimation of temporal evils ; and thereby to the well tempering our pasfions in the resentment of them; to the begetting of patience and contentedness in our minds. Also, Thirdly, it may help us to value, and excite us to regard those things, good or evil, which relate to our future ftate; being the things only of a permanent nature, and of an everlasting consequence to us. Fourthly, it will engage us to husband carefully and well employ this Thort time of our present life : not to defer or procrastinate our endeavours to live well ; not to be lazy and loitering in the dispatch of our only considerable business, relating to eternity; to embrace all opportunities, and improve all means, and follow the best compendiums of good practice leading to eternal bliss. Fifthly, it will be apt to confer much toward the begetting and preserving sincerity in our thoughts, words, and actions ; caufing us to decline all oblique designs upon present mean interefts, or base regards to the opinions or affections of men; bearing single respects to our conscience and duty in our actions ; teaching us to speak as we mean, and be what we would seem ; to be in our hearts and in our closets, what we appear in our out
ward expressions and conversations with men.
For s ERM. considering, that within a very short time all the thoughts of our hearts shall be disclosed; and all the actions of our lives exposed to public view, (being strictly to be examined at the great bar of divine judgment before angels and men,) we cannot but perceive it to be the greatest folly in the world, for this short present time to disguise ourselves ; to conceal our intentions, or smother our actions. What hath occurred (upon these important subjects) to my meditation, I must at present, in regard to your patience, omit. I shall close all with that good Collect of our Church.
Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away
the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour
On the Consideration of our latter End.
Psal. xc. 12.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our
hearts unto wisdom.
In discourfing formerly upon these words, (ex-serm. pounded according to the most common and paffable interpretation, that which I chiefly observ- Job xiv. 14. ed was this : That the serious confideration of the All the days shortness and frailty of our life is a fit mean or ra
of my aptional instrument subservient to the bringing our will I wait, hearts to wisdom ; that is, to the making us discern, change attend unto, embrace, and prosecute such things, as come. according to the dictates of right reason are truly best
1. The truth of which observation I largely declared from hence, that the said confideration disposeth us to judge rightly about those goods, (which ordinarily court and tempt us, viz. worldly glory and honour; riches, pleasure, knowledge ; to which I might have added wit, strength, and beauty,) what their juft worth and value is; and consequently to moderate our affections, our cares, our endeavours about them ; for that if all those goods be uncertain and transitory, there can be no great reason to prize
SER M. them much, or to affect them vehemently, or to XI. 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 behaviour in respect to all those temporal evils, which either according to the law of our nature, or the fortuitous course of things, or the particular dispensation of Providence do befal us. Upon 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 Thew, 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 luftre) 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 diftractions 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