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of no value. It is often in our as when the heavens do not send lives that the creature repulses our forth their influence, nor the earth too idolatrous addresses to it, with yield her increase ; when meat telling us that it is not in it to help does not nourish, nor clothes us. And the best things of com- warm, nor physic heal. This is a mon providence are often abused vanity that the creature is very to the worst purposes; as when subject to for man's sin. Rom. men turn their table into a snare, viii. 20. When we consider that and their, comforts into crosses; there is no failure in God's make when their abundance makes them of any, it is an affecting vanity forgetful of God, and serves for that makes it fail of the end it was nothing but fuel to their luxury. originally and wisely fitted for. But it is no wonder men deal thus When we see every thing, as we with his ordinary allowances, when think, to make a creature servicethey make his best gifts a vain able to us, this raises our hopes thing to them, and turn the grace from it, and makes us extravaof God into wantonness. It is re- gantly caress it; but to think that markable that the worst thing in we may be deceived and prejuthe world is called by this name. diced by it, creates fears, renders Now, the worst thing that ever its help very uncertain, and exSatan or wicked men did, was to poses us to many vexations. To set up idols in the world; and be so often foiled by a creature these are called vanities; and per- that is so proper to serve us, is a haps for this reason chiefly they delusion and mockery that human are so called, as they are apt to nature cannot bear. steal away men's hearts from God, 3. The satisfaction that these and usurp his throne. But more things are capable of giving, is of particularly,
no long continuance. The joys 1. All created things are vain they afford are like the crackling in comparison with God. As the of thorns under a pot, that make a angels are not pure in his sight, so great noise and blaze, but hardly they are no beings compared with warm. If things run into a comhim. Once they were nothing; fortable posture, they do not fix and what they are is solely owing in it. Good things are continually to him. They are foolishness to coming and going. If, when they his wisdom, emptiness to his all-suf- are coming, they make us happy; ficiency. What is a stream to a when departing, they leave us mifountain, or one beam to the sun ? serable. Again, every state of All the nations of the earth are things is full of motion and but as the drop of a bucket, and changes, which do not make things as the dust of a balance, to him. better to us than they have been Every creature has somewhat of to us. Every change occasions fear, nothing in its being. The noblest or trouble, but does not mend our creatures begin with nothing, and ease; for though it remove our then dissolve into nothing-except adversity for the present, yet it angels and the souls of men, which does not make the riches it brings are but derivative and dependent less deceitful and less ensnaring beings. God alone is Jehovah, than they were to others. Man, and has an inexhaustible fulness that should have principles as of being. To suppose God not to fixed as the God that made him, is be, is inconsistent with the notion himself as unstable as his enjoyof a Deity.
ments are. He soon becomes un2. This vanity is inseparable from fit for them, or is removed from a creature, as it does not answer them. He is uncertain both as a the end for which it was made; creature, as a man, and as a
Funeral Sermon on the Death of Lady Hewley. 283 friend. He is frail, or false, or 'hazard them for all these. If Ecfeeble; his constitution is failing, clesiastes was Solomon's penitential his opinion fallible, and his affec- book, my text was the first exprestions changeable.
sion of his repentance. In every 4. If the satisfactions were of saving conversion, one of the first longer continuance, yet they are things a man turus from is this world, very disproportionate to our ca- which must be under the apprehenpacities, necessities, and desires. sion of its vanity. No man can have The soul of man was made for a due regard to heaven, that has greater and better things than not this estimate of all things here these creature enjoyments. These below; and the longer a person are earthly, but this is heavenly; lives in the world, the more is he they are carnal, but this is spi- confirmed in the belief of the varitual ; they are dying, but this is nity of all things; the more he immortal. The understanding is feels it, the more he suffers by capable of being filled with eter- it. The reputation of these things nal truth; the will, of uniting to never improves on the Christian, an infinite good; and the affec- who is still under the power of his tions, of enjoying incomprehen- first convictions. A man that has sible goodness. Its desires are had his eyes opened on both boundless, and the whole world is worlds, cannot easily forget what but wind and emptiness to its vast a vile, deceitful, empty world it capacities. Nothing of this world once appeared to him to be. The can be an ingredient in the happi- first views of an enlightened mind ness of a soul, that is so disagree- are usually so clear and striking, able in its origin, its nature, and that they are not easily lost; its duration. There can be no but a man may suffer himself to durable pleasure nor real beauty, be blinded by too strong gazing where there is no suitableness nor on these glaring appearances, as proportion. All satisfaction is Solomon did, who, for some time, founded in likeness. Psalm xvii. gave himself up to his base lusts, 15. The soul of man is still which clouded his soul, kept real reaching to what is beyond the glory out of his sight, and made present, still moving to what is him fond of lying vanities. The future and eternal. The whole true Christian has not a better compass of time, from the first opinion of this world for his longer to the last moment of the creation, living in it. How often have I is not equal to the soul in respect seen an aged soul weary of its of duration. If all the excel- vanities, longing to be gone, reachlencies of every creature were ing forward, as if ready to lay its united, they could not come near hands upon the crown! How to an equivalent for one precious pleasant was the sight, to see one soul. Matt. xvi. 26.
with a foot in the grave, and a II. This is the first and last heart in heaven, not hankering thought of a true Christian-that back to this earth again, not wishall is vanity, &c. We are bap- ing to live longer, but desiring to tized into an ill opinion of the be dissolved, and to be with world and flesh, and begin our Christ. Christianity with a solemn obliga- 2. The last thought of a Christion to renounce the vanities of it. tian is the same. The sight of the This is one of the first principles grave makes the glories of this of our holy profession, that all world to vanish. The most glitterthings in this world are but yani- ing vanities of it cannot shine ties to the faith of the Gospel and against the shadows of that dark peace of conscience, for we are to night. The king of terrors, at a
distance, opposes the appetite to Wherever it is, it is this makes vain things, and represents them every thing appear otherwise than with disgrace. How mortifying it is, and puts a lie upon God and are such thoughts as these :- that all his creatures. This gives a all these things I must shortly false representation of every thing, leave; to what purpose should I and is all delusion. It promises hold them fast, that cannot hold what it cannot perform, and raises me, but will let me go-that can- the hopes that it will disappoint. not keep off death, nor its harbin- All its attempts to make men gers ? O vanities ! In prosperity happy without God, and in dethey were dangerous, in adversity fiance to him, are the vanity of they were useless. They have vanities. Though vanity might often hindered me from living as I afflict thee, yet it could not undo ought, and now they cannot help thee, without this ingredient in it. me dying. ( vain possessions, With all thy frailty and mortality, which I could not make safe to thou mayest be a happy creame, but by sitting loose from ture. But though thou didst enthem! Vain treasures, that I joy all worldly substance, yet one cannot be happy until I leave you indulged, unpardoned sin would all behind me! Vain delights, make it a miserable vanity and that I cannot be free without a vexation to thee. This is the wound! Lord, give me the riches cause of all the other vanities in that I may embrace without a the world, and is the worst of sting, lay np without a curse; that them. I may set my heart upon, and be Secondly. Then what a vain happy in so doing! One sight of creature is man, that brought sin approaching glory will look all and all other vanities into the the gaieties of this life into dulness world, and still pursues both! and melancholy. As heaven comes Man cannot hinder the creature in view, the world fails in its cre- from being frail, uncertain, and dit.-How many pious souls have unsatisfying, and disproportionate wished that they had had the same to his soul. This is a vanity which thoughts of these sublunary things no man can cure the creature of; in their young and healthful years, but to make this an idol, a God, that they have when they come this is a vanity that it had not bewithin a few steps of yonder glo- fore, which man superadded to it. rious world. How are they then There is a thousand times more amazed, that it should be so diffi- vanity in our loving a creature, cult to open their eyes to see the than in the creature itself. If thy world's vanity! How bitterly do faith and hope be vain, if all they exclaim against their own thy labours be in vain, this is a folly, that ever they should count vanity of thy own making, and its entertainments as their only may be prevented, if thyself be happiness! Hence Solomon be- not in fault. O vain man! is it not gins and ends this book as he enough that thou art a frail, sindoes.
ful, unstable, dying creature ? Is
it not enough that all thy outward APPLICATION. .
enjoyments are vanity? But wilt First.--I infer that sin is the thou make the best things in the greatest vanity. Nothing could world-thy faith and hope-vain destroy the works of God; nothing too? If thou make these, and all could make them useless or hurt. thy prayers and praises, which ful but this. This is the deformity have such a near relation to heaven, and weakness, the defect and dis- vain, what wouldst thou do there order, the disease and death, with thy vain mind ? O profane wretch! thou art a creature of sires but continual inquietude, if vanity, who art making thy own there was nothing but fading, fiheaven in the ways of disorder and nite enjoyments to inquire after ? folly. Thou that art a hypocrite, Its eternal capacity to do all this thou art making vanity too, when would signify nothing, if there all thy religion, which should be was nothing but dying objects bethe most substantial thing, is but a fore it. There is enough in a vain show. O, thou that art a crowd of vanities to torment, but covetous wretch, thou art also a nothing to satisfy, such a soul. maker of vanity, who art idolizing Its own faculties would be its mithe world! Nothing can be more sery, if there were no invisible vain, than the profane man's hea- realities for it to contemplate ; if ven, the hypocrite's hope, and the there was not a future eternal life worldling's good. Every one is for it to make sure of and to preguilty who expects more than he pare for. ought from the creature; for the These were the things which creature was never made to an- this elect lady, whose mournful swer the expectations that should funeral gave occasion for this subbe placed on God. There would ject, had in her eye. To prepare not be the thousandth part of that for these was her daily work, to vanity in the world, but for such foretaste these was her daily food; as these. Every creature would and since God answered her prayhave less vanity“I am sure it ers in turning her eyes from bewould have less vexation-in it, holding vanity, her steady and if it were sanctified by the word uniform course in religion showed of God and prayer. Faith, and the glorious prize she was reachhope, and love, patience and re- ing to. The early education she signation to the divine will, are had among those of the first rank, proper to remove the vexation. raised her spirit to such a height,
Thirdly.—Then what a miser- as made work for humbling grace, able creature would man be, if and the remains whereof were there were no better things than happily turned towards that glory, these present vanities. This would honour, and immortality, which be to impute the greatest vanity lead to eternal life. This virtuous and folly to the only wise God, if person spake her own experience he furnished man with an immor- when she gave me this text, and tal soul, and provided nothing uttered with her mouth what was suitable to entertain it. What inscribed on her heart. But what should such a spiritual being do her modesty intended for a shroud in a world of vanity, if it could to her virtues, will set them in a not act in prospect of a more en- fairer view, and will apologize for during substance? These only my endeavour to rescue somewhat serve to exercise and try it. But of her praise from the grave, which it is not consistent with the wis- her self-abasing soul would have dom and goodness of God to make buried with her; and how could such a noble being only for eter- I discourse of the world's vanity, nal trials, and to perpetuate its without a glance at heaven's glory, state of probation, without assign- and how could I do this without ing it a state of rest. What should mentioning so bright a candidate it do with a power to love ? What of it as our justly honoured friend should it do with a power to trust, was? For this is one way of reif there was nothing but feebleness commending heaven to us, to think and frailty to trust in ? What of the blessed souls that are gone, could it make of its boundless de- and are going thither, Heb. xii. 23.
And how could I speak of the fict. How often did she break vain ways of sin, without op- out, “ O pray, pray !” She lived posing to them the substantial praying, and commended it to pleasure and peace of wisdom's others with her dying breath. paths? but how could I do this, and Her piety towards God comomit such an illustrious example, mends itself to your imitation in that preferred them to the gran- many instances thereof, especially deur of the world, and proved the in her affection to divine ordireality of religion by her patient nances. Nothing could keep her continuance in well-doing? Her from the public worship of God, self-denial was wonderful, in one but absolute inability. How often of her quality and estate, her age has she come hither, rather on the and weakness. She would let wings of her desires than upon her no. fleshly ease hinder a duty. own legs! With what pleasure of She might have spared herself mind would this ancient disciple a hundred times, without the sin sit at her Lord's feet, with Mary, of indulgence. Her extreme ab- hearing his word! Her house was stemiousness, and most regular a church of God, for his uninterway of living, procured her long rupted worship in it. She was life, and the church of God a long daily retired for secret devotion, blessing. She spent almost half even when, by reason of her weakher life in the valley of the shadow ness, it was not safe for her to be of death, where she had brighter left alone. How unwearied was views of heaven, and nobler eleva- she in the duties of every Sabbath, tions of soul, than many that live a sign how she would employ her always on the mountain of pros- everlasting Sabbath above. Will perity, and would often speak the hypocrite pray always? Job, feelingly of the good of affliction, xvii. 10.; but she did. What always justifying God, and con- could keep up her relish for redemning herself under the severest ligious exercises when they were dispensations. When we con- so fatiguing and spending to the sider the niceness of her temper, body, but some prelibation of the sprightliness of her mind, the God's love in them, and an ungreatness of her spirit, and quick- quenchable thirst after the everness of her apprehension, we must lasting enjoyment of him. In all wonder at her easiness and con- these she had an afflicting sense tentment with a dying life, that of a dead heart, and flat affections, rendered all her great things in the and a want of love to God. Her world so insipid to her. Froward- sinful infirmities she bitterly beness and impatience are so natural moaned; a base and treacherous to old age, to tedious wasting heart was a burden she groaned infirmities, that it was admirable under. None could speak more to find her so free from either. severely, as to the state of her Her patience had its perfect work soul, than she did herself. Her in dying agonies. She was wont charity was universal and extento ask me about them, and to sive, the most illustrious example express her fears she should not of it in our age. She has not left get well through them. Upon her equal behind her. Many which I advised her not to trouble daughters have done virtuously, herself with such fears before- but thou, my honoured, but now hand, but only prepare, and God departed friend, hast out-done them would carry her through them; all. She was a mother in Israel, and so he did, for an entire resig- to whom many had recourse for pation ran through the whole con- wise counsel, and by whose means