Изображения страниц

bears no proportion to eternity. Now, hundreds are brought down to scores, threescore and ten, or four score is its utmost length, Pral. XC. 1o. But few men arrive at that length of life, Death does but rarely wait, till men be bowing dowo, by reason of age, to meet the grave. Yet, as if years were too big a word, for such a small thing as the life of inan on earth; we find it counted by months, Job xiv. 5. “ The number of his months are with thee." Our course, like that of the moon, is run in a little time; we are always waxing or waneing, will we disappear. But frequently it is reckoned by days; and there but few, Job xiv. s. « Man that is born of a « woman is of few days.” Nay, it is but one day in scripture ac. count; and that a bireling's day, who will precisely observe when his day ends, and give over his work, ver. 6. " Till he fhall.ac. os complish as an hireling his day.” Yea, the fcripture brings it down to the shortest space of time, and calls it a moment, 2 Cor. iv. 17. Our light aftlion (though it last all our life long) is but for a moment. But ellewhere it is brought down to yet a lower pitch, farther than which one cannot carry it, Pfal. xxxix. 5. Mine age is nothing before thee. Agreeable to this, Solomon tells us, Eccles. ii. 2. There is a time to be born, and a time to die; but makes no : mention of a time to live, as if our life were but a skip from the womb. to the grave. Secondly, Consider the various fimilitudes by which the scripture represents the shortness of man's life. Hear Hezekiah, Ifa. xxxviii. 12. “Minc age is deparied, and is removed from me as a thepherd's tent; I have cut off, like a weaver, my life." The Niepherd's tent is foon removed; for the flocks must not feed long in one place: fuch is a man's life on earth, quickly gone. It is a web, he is incessantly working; he is not idle so much as one mo. ment: in a short time it is wrought, and then it is cut off. Every breathing is a thread in this web, when the last breath is drawn, the web is woven out, he expires and then it is cut off, he breathes no inore. Man is like grafs and like a flower, Isa. xl. 6 “All Aleh (even the strongest and most heal";y feth) is grass, and all the 't godliness thereof is as the flower of the field.” The grass is flourishing in the morning; but, in the evening, being cut down by the mowers, it is withered: so man sometimes is walking up ? and down at ease in the morning, and in the evening, is lying a corpse, being knocked down by a sudden stroke, with one or other of death's weapons. The flower, at beft, is but a weak and tender

thing, of Tort continuance, where ever it growes: but (observe) - man is not compared to the flower of the garden; but to the flower

of the field, which the foot of every beast may tread down at any time. Thus is our life liable to a thousand accidents, every day ; any of which may cut us off But though we should escape all there, yet at length this grass withereth, this flower fadeth of itself. It is carried off, “as the clouds is consumed and vanisherh away, Job vii. g. It looks big as the morning cloud, which promiseth


[ocr errors]

great things, and raiseth the expectavions of the husbandman; but
the sua riserb, and the cloud is scattered; death comes, and man'
evanisheth. The Apostle James proposeth the question, “ What
ho is your life?" chap. iv. 14. Hear his own anfwer, “It is even
" a vapour chat appeareth for a little time, and then vanilheth

away." It is frail, uncertain, and lafteth not. It is fmoak, which goes out of the chimney, as if it would dazken the face of the hea. vens; but quickly is scattered, and appears no more: thus goeth man's life, and where is he? It is a wind, Job vii. 7. "V remember “ that my life is wind." It is but a palling blalt, a short puff, “a “ wind that passerh a way and cometh not again," Pfal. Ixxviii. 39. Our breath is in our nostrils, as it were always upon the wind to

depart; erer passing and sepassing like a traveller; until it go ; a way for good and all, not to return, till the heavens be no more.

Lastly, Man's life is a swift thing; not only a passing, but a flying vanity. Have you not observed how swiftly a Madow hath run along the ground, in a cloudy and windy day, Tuddenly darkening the places beautified before wirb the beams of the sun, but as fuddenly disappearing? Such is the life of man on the earth, for

" he fleeth as a shadow, and continucth not,” Job xiv. 2. A wea. ... er's suitle is very fwift in its motion; in a moment it is thrown

from one side of the web to the other: yet " our days are swifrer . “ than a weaver's shuttle," chap. vii. 6. How quickly is man toled

through tinse into eternity! See how Job describes the fwiftness of the time of life, chap.ix 25. “ Now my days are switter than a "post: they flee away, they see no good.” ver. 26 “They are « halled away as the swift fhips; as the eagle that hasteth to the “ prey." He compares his days with a poji, a foot poft; a runner, who runs speedily to carry tidings, and will make no flay. But, though the post were like Ahimaaz, who over-run Cumi: our days would be swifter chau he, for they flee away, like a man fleeing for his life, before the pursuing enemy; he runs with his utmost vigour, yet our danys run as fast as he. Howbeit, that is not all. Even he who is fleeing for his life, cannot run always; he must needs fumetimes stand fill, ly down, or run in somewhere, as Sisera did into Jael's cent, to refresh himself; but our cime never

halts. Therefore it is compared to ships, wbich can fail night and · day without inter million, till they be at their port; and swift ships,

Ships of desire, in which men quickly arrive at the defired haven; or, ships of pleasure, that fail more swiftly than fhips of burden. Yet the wind failing, the ships course is marred: but our time ale

ways suns with a rapid course. Therefore it is compared to the Cicagle flying: not with his ordinary fight, for that is not fufficient

to represent the swiftness of our days; but when he flies upon his prey, which is with an extraordinary fwiftness. And thus, ever thus, our days fly away.



eagerly pe

[ocr errors]

the fruits of e, she house, bid an eterods to anothers Luk

how ten the

Having thus discoursed of death, let us improve it, in difcerning the vanity of the world; in hearing up, with Christian contentment and patience, under all troubles and difficulties in it; in mortifying our lufts; in “cleaving unto the Lord with purpose of heart," on all hažārds; and in preparing for death's, approach..

And firft, Let us hence, as in a looking.glass, behold the vanily of the world, and of all these things in it, which men so much value and esteem, and therefore set their hearts upon. The rich and the poor are equally intent upon the world; they bow the knee to it; yet it is but a clay god: they court' the bulky vanity, and run keenly to catch the shadow; the rich man is hugged to death in its embraces; and the poor man wearies himself in the fruitless pursuit. (What wonder if the world's smiles overcome 1s; when we pursue it so eagerly, even while it frowns upon us?) But look into the grave, O man, consider and be wise; listen to the doctrine of death; and learn, (1.) That « hold as fast as thou canst, thou shalt be forced to let go «.thy hold of the world at length.” Though thou load thyself with “the fruits of this earth; yet all thall fall off, when thou comeit to creep into thy hole, the house, under-ground, appointed for all living. When death comes, thou must bid an eternal farewell to thy enjoyments in this world: thou must leave thy goods to another: and " whose thall " those things be, which thou hast provided ?” Luke xii. 20.(2.) “ Thy portion of these things shall be very little ere long."" If thou ly down on the grass, and itretch thyself at full length, and observe the print of thy body when thou risest, thou mayft see how much of this earth will fall to thy fhare at last. It may be thou shalt get a coffu, and a winding-sheet: but thou art not fure of that: Many who bave had abundance of wealth, yet have not had lo inuch when they took up their new house in the land of silence. But however that be more ye cannot expect. It was a mortifying leffon, Saladine, when dying, gave to his soldiers : He called for his standard-bearer, and ordered him to take his winding Neet upon his pike ; and go out to the camp with it, and tell them, That of all his conquests, victories and criumphs, he had nothing now left him, but that piece of linen to wrap his body in for burial Lafly, “ This world is a false friend," who leaves a man in time of greatest need ; and flees from him when he has most ado. When thou art lying on a death-bed, all thy friends and relations cannot rescue thee; all thy substance cannot ransom thee; nor procure thee a'reprieve for one day; nay, not for one hour. Yea, the more thou possessest of this word's goods, thy sorrow at death is like to be the greater: for thoone may live more conimodiously in a palace, than in a cottage; yet he may die more easily in the cottage, where he has very little to make him fond of life.

Secondly, It may serve as a store house for Christian contentment and patience under worldly losses and crosses.. A clofs application of the doctrine of death is an excellent remedy against fretting; and gives fome ease to a rankled heart. When Job had sustained very great


he camp with had nothing. Liply need; and

loffes, he sat down contented, with this meditation, sob i. 21.“ Naked " came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: ,' “ The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blelled be the " name of the Lord.” When providence brings a mortality or murrain among your cattle, how ready are you to fret and complain! But the serious consideration of your own death (to which you have a notable help from such providential occurrences) may be of use to filence your complaints, and quiet your rankled spirits. Look to the

houfe appointed for all living, and learn, (1.) “ That ye niuft abide in a forer thruf, than the loss of worldwy goods.Do not cry out for

a thrust in the leg or arm; for ere long there will be a home-thrust at the heart. You may lose your dearest relations: the wife may lose her husband ; and the husband his wife: the parents may lose their dear children, and the children their parents. But if any of these trials happen to you,, remember you must lose your own life at lait ; and " Wherefore doth a living man complain?” Lain. jii. 39. lc is.' always profitable to.consider, under affliction, how our cafe might buve been worse than it is. Whatever be consumed, or taken from us, " It is of the Lord's mercies that we ourselves are not consumed,” i ver. 22. (2.) « It is but for a short space of time we are to be in

" this world.” It is but little our necessities require in this thort I space of time; when death comes, we will stand in need of none of | these things. Why fhould men rack their heads with cares how to

provide for 10-morrow; while they know not if they shall need any thing 1o-morrow? Tho'a man's provision, for his journey, be near spent, he is not difquieted, if he think he is near home : are you working with candle-light, and is there little of your candle left? It may be there is as little sand in your glass and if so, ye have little ufe for it. (3.) “ Ye have matters of greater weight chat challenge “ your care." Death's at the door, beware you lose not your souls. If blood break out at one part of the body, they use to open a vein in another part of it to turn the stream of blood; and so to stop it. Thus the Spirit of God fometimes cures men of sorrow for earthly things; by opening the heart-vein to bleed for sin. Did we pursue heavenly things the more vigorously that our affairs in this life prosper not, we Thould thereby gain a double advantage: our worldly sorrow would be diverted, and our best treasure increased. (4) « Crosles of this "nature will not last long.” The world's smiles and frowns will be quickly buried together in everlasting forgetfulness. Its smiles go away as the foam on the water : and its frowns are as a paffing stitch in a man's lide. Time flies away with fwist wings, and carries our earthly comforts, and crosses too, along with it: Neither of théin will accompany us into the house appointed for all living, Job žii. 17. " There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary be " at reit. Ver. 18. There the prisoners reit together, they hear “ not the voice of the oppressor. Ver. 19. The finall and great are " there, and the servant is free from his maiter,:' Cast your eyes

. on

on eternity, and ye will see, affliction here is but for a moment. The
truth is, our tim is so very short, that it will not allow either our :
joys or griefs, to come to perfection Wherefore, let them that
“ weep, be as tho’ they weeped not; and they that rejoice, as tho
" they rejoiced not,? &c. 1 Cor. vii 29, 30, 31. (5.) « Death will
« put all men on a level,” The king and the beggar mast dwell in
one house, when they come to their journey's end; cho' their enter-
tainment by the way be very different '“ The small and the great

are there,” Job iii. 19. We are in this world as on a stage: it is no great matter, whether a man act the part of a prince or a peasant; for when they have acted their parts, they must both get behind the curtain, and appear no more. Lastly, If thổu' be riot in Christ, whatever thy afflictions now be, triables, a thoufand times worse, are Ghiding thee in arothis world. Death will turn thy crosses into pure unmixed curses: and then how gladly wouldst thou return to thy former afilicted state, and purchase it at any rate ; were there any poflibility of such a' return. If thou be in Chrift, thou mayst well bear thy cross. Death will put an end to all thy troubles. If a man on a journey be not well accomodate, where he lodgeth only for a night, he will not trouble himself much about the matter; because he is not to stay there: it is not his home Ye are on the road to eternity; let it not disquiet you, that you meer with some hardships in the inn of this world Fret not, because it is not so well with you as with some others. One man travels with a cane in his hand; his! fellow-traveller (perhaps has but a common stick, or staff:-either of them will serve the turn. It is no great matter which of them be yours; both will be laid aside when you come to your journey's end. li

Thirdly, It may serve for a bridle, to curb all manner of lufts, particularly those converfant about the body. A serious visit made to cold death, and that folitary mansion, the grave, might be of good use

to repress them. C ift, It inay be of use to cause men remit of their inordinate care · for the body; which is to many the bane of their souls. Often do

these questions, " What shall we eat? What shall we drink? And “ wherewithal fhall we be cloched?" leave no room for another of more importance, riz. “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord ?**

The soul is put to the rack, to answer these mean questions, in favour | of the body; while its own eternal interests are neglected. But ah! why are men so busy to repair the: ruinous cottage; leaving the inhabitant to bleed to death of his wounds, unheeded, unregarded! Why so much care for the body, to the neglecting of the concerns of the immortal soul? O! be not so anxious for what can only serve your bodies ; since, ere long, the clods of cold earth will serve for back and belly too.

zuły, It may abate your pride on account of bodily endowments, ::. which vain man is apt to glory in. Value not yourfelves on the blossomn of youth; for while ye are in your blooming years, ye are but

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »