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think ourselves far from 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,” fo 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 fent “ us into the world, while it is day ; for the night “ cometh,” faith 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 altered. So that this life is the proper season for wisdom to shew 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 misery, we shall remain and continue so for ever.
Therefore it infinitely concerns all of us, to exercise our best wisdom 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 comfört 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 piety and devotion towards God, of strict justice and integrity, and of great goodness and charity towards men.
And let us consider that many of us are a great S ERM. way already on our journey towards the grave, that CCXII. our day is declining apace, and the shadows of the evening begin to be stretched out, therefore that little of our life which is yet behind us should be precious to us, ut elle solis gratius lumen solet, jam jam cadentis, we should improve that which yet remains, as it were for our lives, always remembring that our only opportunity of working, of designing and doing great and happy things for ourselves, is on this side the grave, and that this opportunity will expire and die
“ for there is no work, nor device, nor “ knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither we “ are going."
« Now God of his infinite mercy grant, that we “ may all of us know in this our day, the things “ which belong to our present peace and future hap
piness, before they be hid from our eyes, for his “ mercy's fake in Jesus Christ; to whom with • thee, O Father, and the Holy Ghost, be all ho
nour and glory, thanksgiving and praise, now and o for evermore.
SERMON CCXIII. .
Of the blessedness of giving, more than
that of receiving.
A C T S xx. 35
he said, it is more blessed to give, than to receive.
The whole Verse runs thus,
I have Mewed you all things, how that so labouring,
ge ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the LORD JESUS, how he said, it is more blessed to give, than to receive.
SERM. HE words which I have read to you, have CCXIII.
this particular advantage to recommend them to our more attentive consideration, that they are a remarkable saying of our Lord himself, not record, ed by any of the evangelists among his other sayings and discourses, but remembred by the apostles, and by some of them delivered to St. Paul, and by him preserved to us in his farewel-speech to the elders of Ephesus. In which, after he had given them fome needful advice, and commended them to the grace of God, he appeals to them concerning the integrity of his conversation among them; that he was so far from seeking his own advantage and from covering any thing that was theirs, that he had not only supported himself, but also relieved others by the labour of his own hands; giving them herein a great example of charity, which, it seems, he was wont to enforce up
on them by an excellent saying of our Lord, “ It isS E R.M. “ more blessed to give, than to receive.”
And it is really a particular endearment of this saying to us, that being omitted by the evangelists, and in danger of being lost and forgotten, it was so happily retrieved by St. Paul, and recorded by St. Luke. The common sayings of ordinary persons perish without regard, and are spilt like water upon the ground, which no body goes about to gather up; but the little and short sayings of wife and excellent men are of great value, like the dust of gold, or the leasts sparks of diamonds. And such is this saying of our LORD, which is not only valuable out of respect to it's author, but for the sake of that admirable fense which is contained in it.
Some interpreters have needlesly troubled themselves to find these words, or something equivalent to them in the gospel. That the sense of them may be inferred from several passages in the gospel, none will deny; but that they are either expresly to be found there, or that there is any saying that sounds to the fame sense, I think no body can shew. Besides that St. Paul cites a particular sentence or saying of our LORD, that was prcs, and in those very words spoken by him.
And there is no reason to imagine, that the gospels are a perfect and exact account of all the sayings and actions of our LORD, though St. Luke calls his gospel
a treatise of all things that Jesus did and spake;" that is, of the principal actions of his life, and the substance of his discourses, at least so much of them as is needful for us to know : for St. Luke leaves our feveral things related by the other evangelists. And St. John expresly tells us, that Jesus did innumerable things not recorded in the history of his life : and there is no doubt but the disciples of our Lord remem: ber'd many particular sayings of his, not set down in