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SER M. how will they toil and watch, wear out their eyes, CCXII.
,and waste their spirits, and pursue their studies, not only with the neglect of fitting diversion, but even of the necessary support and reparation of nature, by meat and Neep ? Nay, many times to encrease their learning, they weaken their understandings, and for the gaining of inore knowledge, do disable that power and faculty which should make use of it when they have it.
How will men attend for several hours to a lewd and extravagant play, and fit not only with patience, but with delight to hear things spoken, which are neither fit to be spoken nor heard ?
And above all, how eager and earnest, how busy and industrious are a great part of mankind, in the pursuit of their ambitious and covetous designs ? How sorely will they labour and travel ? How hardly will they be contented to fare, and how meanly will they live themselves, to make they know not whom rich; even any body that happens to come in their way, when they make their last wills ?
And are men at all this pains for compassing of their low and mean, of their vile and wicked designs, to do themselves no good ; nay, for the most part, to hurt and destroy themselves; and are the present pleasures and satisfaction of our minds, and eternal life and happiness in another world, things of no value and esteemn with us? Is salvation itself so Night and inconsiderable a thing, that it deserves none of this care and diligence to be used for the obtaining of it?
IV. Consider that when we come to die, nothing will yield more true and solid consolation to us, than the remembrance of an useful and well-spent life, a life of great labour and diligence, of great zeal and faithfulness in the service of God; and on the con
trary, with what grief and regret shall we look back SERM. upon all those precious hours which we have so fondu ly misplaced in sin and vanity? How shall we then wish that we could recal them and live them over again, that we might spend them better? All that time which now lies upon our hands, and we know not how to bestow it and pass it away, will then most assured lie heavy upon cur consciences. What anguilh and confusion have I seen in the looks and speeches of a dying man, caused only by the grievous remembrance of an unprofitable and ill-fpent life! so foolish are many men, as never seriously to think for what end they came into the world, till they are just ready to go out of it.
V. Consider that the degrees of our happiness in another world, will certainly bear a proportion to the degrees of our diligence and industry, in serving GOD and doing good. And it is an argument of a mean spirit, not to aspire after the best and happiest condition, which is to be attained by us; to be contented barely to live, when by our pains and industry, we may become considerable, and raise ourselves above the common level of men, is a sign of a poor and degenerate mind; so is it in the business of religion, to be contented with any low degrees of virtue and goodness, and consequently of glory and happiness, when by a great diligence and industry in “ serving our ge“ neration according to the will of God," we may be of the number of those, “whose reward shall be “ grear in heaven," and have a place there, among those " righteous persons," who shall “ shine as the “ sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
Besides, that it may prove a thing of dangerous consequence to us, to deal thus strictly with God, and to drive so near and hard a bargain with him; we may
SER M. easily miss of happiness and come short of heaven, if and we only design just to get thither; we may be mista
ken in the degree of holiness and virtue, which is ne-
VI. and lastly, Let us consider the argument here
think ourselves far froin it, we may be just upon it, SERM.
? CCXII. and ready to stumble into it. So that our time of working may be very short, to be sure it is very uncertain.
And it is very well worth our consideration, that as " there is no work nor wisdom in the grave,” so there is very little to be exercised when we come to draw near to it, whether it be by sickness or old age: sufficient surely “for that day will be the evil thereof;”. we had need then to have nothing else to do, but to be old and weak, to be sick and die; we shall find that to be burden and trouble enough.
" Let us therefore work the work of him that sent “ us into the world, while it is day; for the night “ cometh,” saith our Saviour, (by which may probably be meant, the time of sickness or old age,) - the “ night cometh when no man can work;" so that what we do we must do quickly, mind the work which is before us, and ply it with all our might, as if it were the last opportunity we should ever have ; and so it may prove for ought we know, for it is ten to one but that some here present, and God knows which of us it may be, may now have the last opportunity in our hands, and that but a slippery hold of it, and may never have this counsel given us again, nor perhaps be long in a capacity to make use of it; for when death hath once overtaken us, it will fix us in an unchangeable state; " as the tree falls, so it shall lie."
This is the time of our work and preparation for another world, and what we do towards it in this life will avail us in the other ; but if this opportunity be neglected, there is nothing to be done by us afterwards, but to inherit the fruit of our own folly and neglect, to sit down in everlasting sorrow, and to be immutably fixed in that miserable state, which whilst we were in
SER M. this world we could never be persuaded to take any CCXII.
tolerable care to avoid.
And if we can do nothing for ourselves to help and relieve us in that state, much less can we think it can be done for us by others, by the consigning of masses and prayers, of merits and indulgences to our use and benefit in another world. No, so soon as ever we are passed into the other state, we shall enter upon a condition of happiness or misery, that is never to be al. tered. So that this life is the proper season for wifdom to Thew itself, and to exercise our best industry for the attaining of happiness; it will be too late afterwards to think of altering or bettering our condition, for death will conclude and determine our state one way or other, and what we are when we leave the world, good or bad, fitted for happiness or mifery, we shall remain and continue so for ever.
Therefore it infinitely concerns all of us, to exercise our best wisdomn in this present life, and what we have to do for our souls, and for all eternity, “to do it with “ all our might;" to contrive and use the best means to be happy, while the opportunity of doing it is yet in our hands; we may easily let it Nip, but no care, no wisdom, no diligence, no repentance, can retrieve it; when it is once lost, it is lost for ever.
Hear then the conclusion of the whole matter ; Would we enjoy ourselves and the peace of our minds while we live? Would we have good hopes and comfort in our death, and after death would we be happy for ever? Let us lay the foundation of all this, in the activity and industry of a religious and holy life; a life of untpotted purity and temperance in the use of sensual pleasures, of sincere piery and devotion towards God, of strict justice and integrity, and of great goodness and charity towards men.