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great good Men had small regard to the Pleasure of e Sense, and glittering Gayeties of this World, but kept
their Eyes and Hearts intent upon eternal Joys: These el were their Hope, their Delight, the Earnest and only
Longing of their Souls; And therefore the Only one, har lest if their Affections were at all divided, the Love of all the Things that are seen should fasten down their
Hearts to mean and earthly Objects, and hinder them 1 from soaring up on high to the infinitely more preci
ous Things that are not seen. en This is indeed a Work of Pains and Time; but let tu not that Consideration drive you to despair of attainbí ing an heavenly Temper of Mind. The Undertaking 01 is great, 'tis true; and the Time allowed for it but =JC short ; but still this short Space is enough, if you will
i take care to make the best of it. Up then, and be 1 doing; do not purpose well to day, and put off the
Execution to a farther day, but rather argue vour self od into Action by such Reflections as these. This very ter Instant is the proper Time, This the Season of Amenda
* ment, and fighting the good Fight. It is by Hard. e ship and Suffering, that Men recommend themselves 3 to the Acceprance and Favour of God. He hath or#. dained, that Fire and Water, Distress and Tribulation # should be the way that leads to Refreshment and true i Bliss. Without some Violence upon thy self, Sin cane of not be subdued, nor evil Customs broken. Without
fome Uneasiness and Pain we cannot live; And, while we carry this Body of Flesh about us, these will make 1 an inseparable Part of the Burthen. We wish in- deed for Ease and Untroubled Satisfaction; but, as
the Condition of Mankind stands at present, we vishi -el in Vain; For, in loting the innocence of our Nai ture, we lost our Happiness too ; and as both left us,
to both must be restored, together. Patience is now become a neceflary Virtue, and we muit be content to wait the Season of God's Mercy: when he wall
fully repair our Breaches, heal our Infirmities, put a Period to our Unrighteousness, absolve the Guilt, blot out the Remembrance of them, and cause Mortality to be swallowed up of Life.
In the meantime, it cannot methinks but be a mighty Mortification, to consider how exceeding prone this frail Nature of ours is to Sin. To day you confefs your Sins to God, and to morrow you act those very Sins over again, which you lamented but the day before. This hour you resolve to be watchful, and take good heed to all your Ways, and the very next hour you run on as giddily and rafhly as ever; forget your Resolutions, and stand more Self-condemned than if you had never resolved at all. So great Reason is there for Thinking very meanly of our felves, and disclaiming all vain Confidences in any Thing we are, · or do. But these so sudden and frequent Relapses are not our Misfortunes, but our Faults ; They are indeed the Consequents of our Frailty, but that Frailty would not affect us to that degree, did not we contribute to it by our own Negligence and Inconftancy. And a small Neglect will soon undo, what cost much Time and Labour to effect; and what could not have been effected even so neither, had not Almighty God seconded our Endeavours with his Divine Allí Atance.
But if we cool so very quickly, and cannot Watch one Hour, what will become of us at last, and how shall we persevere in faithfulness unto the End? Wretched are we' indeed, if we faint and grow Weary, if we give out and seek Refreshment, as if we were already Safe and in absolute Peace; when we have fcarce begun the Battel, and gained but little Ground in Holiness and Reformation of Manners. Alas! we are as yet but raw Beginners; so far from Compleat Masters in our Business, that we have still need to learn and practise the very first Rules of Living over again; be
fore we can be so perfect as we wish and ought to be. Nor should we disdain to do so, if those Condescensions can prove of use to us.
CHA P. XXIII.
Ince Life is of short and uncertain Continuance, it
highly concerns you to look about you, and take 7 good heed how you employ it. To Day the Man is
vigorous, and gay, and flourishing, and to Morrow he
is cut down, withered and gone. A very little time el carries him out of our Sight, and a very little more
out of our Remembrance, O the Hardness of Mens Hearts! O the wretched Stupidity! that fixes their
whole Thoughts and Care upon the present; and will w not be prevailed with to look before them, or bear any
Regard to That which must come hereafter: Where
as in truth, every Work, and Word, and Thought, bi ought to be so ordered, as if it were to be our Last;
and we instantly to Die, and render an Account of it. Would we entertain our felves more with the
Thoughts of Death, it would be less a Terror to to us : For, in proportion as our Lives amend, our Fears
will abate, and a clear Conscience will enable us to by meet Death with undaunted Courage. However Ft Flesh and Frailty may imposeupon us, yet, be assured, 3 'tis greater Wisdom to be afraid of Sinning, than to # be afraid of Dying; a greater Blessing to preserve our 1 Innocence, than to prolong our Lives. And whence he is all this Fear and Anxiety? Is it because we are not 34fit to Die ? But, if you are not fit to Day, how do
you propose to be fo to morrow? Alas! to morrow is uncertain, neither You, nor Ignorany Man can depend
upon it. Or if we could, yet what does it avail to Live, tho it were much longer, when we by longer Living grow so little better? Afsure your self, long Life is far from being always a Blessing. Too many (God knows) are so far from growing holier, as they grow older, that the Number of their Days only adds to the number of their Sins, and renders their Account more heavy hereafter.
Happy is that Man, who can comfort himself with having employed any one Day of his Life so perfectly well, as he might, and ought to have done. Many reckon up the Years of their Conversion with great satisfaction, and think ita mighty matter that they have so long abandoned the World and a vicious Course. And yet, when the time they boast of comes to be compared with the Improvements they have made, how shamefully little is the Good they have done? If Dying now be terrible, yet remember that Living longer may be dangerous ; and many, many a Man finds but too great occasion to wish, that it had pleafed God to take him away sooner. Happy therefore is He, who keeps the Hour of Death constantly in View, and from this Prospect of what must come, takes care to reconcile himself to it, and to put his Soul into a proper Temper for it, when it does come.
If you attend at any time upon a Death-Bed, and see another in his Panting Agonies; consider that this Friend is gone the same way where you must shortly follow him. In the Morning, question whether you may live till Night; and when Night comes, do not too confidently promise your self another Morning. Thus shall you be in a constant Expectation, and in a good Disposition to die. And be sure so to live always, that Death may never overtake you unprovi'ded, nor its suddeneit Approach be sudden and surprizing, in respect of You. Many are snatched away in an instant, and die when they were not in the leait
aware of it, for in such an Hour as we think not, the Son of Man cometh. Let not the Pre- Matth. Xxiv. paration I advise be neglected, as a melan- 44. choly unpleasant Thing, such as embitters Life, and damps Mens present Enjoyments; for be assured,Whatever Satisfaction you may take now, when that last Hour draws on, it will give you quite other Notions of the matter. And the Reflections upon your past Improvidence and Neglect will be more bitter and afflicting then, than any the most sollicitous Forecast for Dying well, can possibly be in the mean time.
O how Wife, how happy is that Man, who makes it his daily Care to be such while he Liveth, as he defires to be found when he comes to Die! And we may cherish a good Hope and great Assurance of leaving the World to our Comfort and infinite Advantage, if, while we continue in it, we can bring our felves to neglect and despise it: If we be zealous to improvein Virtue; in love with Discipline and Mortification; if we attend to the Exercise cf Repentance; if we be of an humble and obedient Disposition; content todeny our felves, and ready to undergo any Hardship for Christ's sake. But if these Qualifications be necessary, they are necessary to be atrained in Health: For then a Man is in a Condition to strive, and to exert himself; but when Sickness is upon him, it is a great Queftion, what he will be able to do, or whether any thing at all. Whatever the generality of the World may imagine, who put off their great Work till such improper Seasons; yet sure it is that few, but very few are reformed by a Sick Bed. And they who defer their Repentance and Amendment till then, seldom, alas! repent as they ought, or are amended in good earnest.
Depend not upon the Aslistance of your Relations and Acquaintance: Nor cherish an Imagination so vain, as that their Prayers hereafter can effect,what you never endeavoured to effect here. These can do you rio