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of more 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 fpoker, which are neithier fit to be spoken nor heard ?
And above all, how eager and earnest, how busy and industrious are a great part of inánkind, in the pursuit of their ambitious and covetou's defigns? How sorely will they labour and travel? how hardly will tliey be contented to fare, and how méanly will they live themfelves, to make they know not wliom rich ? even any body that happens to coine in their way, when they make their last wills.
And are men at all thefe 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 fatisfaction of our minds, and eternal life and hapu piness in another world, things of no value and effe'enr with us? is salvation itself fo flight and inconsiderable à 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 rememberance of an useful and well-fpent life, a life of great Jabour and diligence, of great zeal and faithfulness in the service of God, and on the contrary, with whát grief and regret shall we look back upon all thofe precious hours which we have so fondly misplaced in sin and vanity? how shall we then with that we could recall 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 beltow it and pass it away, will then most assuredly lie heavy upon our consciences. What anguish and confusion have I seen in the looks and speeches of a dying man, caused only by the grievous rememberance 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. Con.
. 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 ferving God and doing good. And it is an argument of a mean fpirit, 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 ourfelves above the common level of men, is a fign of a poor and degenerate mind; so is it in the business of religion, to be contented with any low degrees of virtúc and goodnefs, and consequently of glory and happiness, when by a great diligence and industry in ferving our generation according to the will of God, we may be of the nuinber of those, whose reward fhall be great in heaven, and have a place there, among those righteous persons, who shall shine as the fun in the kingdom of their Father.
Besides, that it may prove a thing of dangerous consequence to uś, to deal thus ftrifly with God, and to drive so near änd liard a bargain with him ; we may easily miss of liappiness and come short of heaven, if we only design just to get th:ither; we may be mistaken in the degree of holiness and virtue, which is necessary to recommend us to the divine favour and acceptance, and to make us capable of the glorious reward of eternal life : for úntó whomfoever much is given, faith our Saviour, of him much shall be required ; to him that hath only one talent committed to him, it may be sufficient to have gained one ; but he that hath many talents entrusted with him, may gain one, and yet be a wicked and lothful servant ; proportionably to our advaniages and opportunities, our duty encreaseth opon our hands, and better and greater things may justly be expected from us. The confideration wliereof should make us Unwearied in our endeavours of doing good, and stedfast and unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as we know that our labour lhall not be in vain in the Lord.
VI. And lastly, Let us consider the argument here in the text, There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither we are going. Longe quiefcendi tempora fata dabant, we hall then rest from
our our labours, and our works will follow us. This life is the time of our activity and working, the next is the season of retribution and recompence; we shall then have nothing to do, but either to reap and enjoy the comfort of well-doing, or to repent the folly of an ill-fpent life, and the irreparable mischief which thereby we have brought upon ourselves ; There is no work nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goeft; intimating that our life is a continual journey towards the grave, shorter or longer as God pleaseth; and many times when we think ourselves far from it, we may be just upon it, 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 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 lone here present, and God knows which of us it may be, may now have the last opportunity in our hands, and that but a Nippery 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 bath once overtaken us, it will fix us in an unchangeable llate ; as the tree falls, so it mall lje.
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 fit down in everlasting forrow, and to be immutably
. 117 fixed in that miserable state, which whilft we were in this world we could never be persuaded to take any 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 to us by others, by the configning of masses and prayers, of merits and indulgences to our use and benefit in another world. No, fo soon as ever we are paffed 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 flip, 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 unspotted purity and temperance in the use of sensual pleasures, of sincere piety and devotion towards God, of strict justice and integrity, and of goodness aud charity towards men.
And let us consider that many of us are a great way already on our journey towards the grave, that our day is declining apace, and the shadows of the evening begin to be itretched out ; therefore that little of our life which is yet behind us, should be precious to us, ut effe Solis gratius lumen folet, jam jam cadentis, we should inn
prove that which yet remains, as it were for our lives, always reinembering 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 with us; 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 happiness, 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 honour and glory, thanksgiving and praise, now and for evermore.
S E RM ON CCXIII.
Of the blessedness of giving, more than
that of receiving.
ACTS XX. 35. And to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he
Said, It is more blesed to give, than to receive.
The whole verse runs thus,
I have thewed you all things, how that so labouring ye
ought to support the weak, and to remeniber the words of the Lord Jesus, how he faid, It is more blefled 10 give, than to receive.
MHE words which I have read to you have this
particular advantage to recommend them to our
more attentive consideration, that they are a remarkable saying of our Lord himself, not recorded by any of the Evangelists among his other sayings and discourses, but remembered by the Apostles, and by some