« AnteriorContinuar »
ty years. That is the first thing; there is lefs of a man in this world, in respect of his being and continuance here.
2. In this state, there is less of right judgment of things, and persons. Things here, go under false appearances ; and persons here, are under the pow. er of lying imaginations. The platonists have observed, that there is a world of diligence, care, and thoughtfulness necessary for a man to understand the truth. I should not bely human nature, if I should say, that the wisest of us live very much in a fools paradise ; and that in a world of things, we are mistaken ; and that our suppositions are not well grounded, nor our apprehensions well governed, nor our hope and expectation well secured. There is much of that which is false, mistaken and insincere, that takes place in the life of man. I might bere inftance in wealth and riches, which are thought to be the greatest reality in the world, and yet one of the wireft men that ever was, and one that had the greatest experience, hath told us, that it is great folly for a man to set his heart upon it. Prov. xxiii. 5. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not ? for riches certainly make themselves wings, they fly away, as an eagle towards heaven. But then, as for the profane and dissolute part of the world, they live altogether in a lie, and are false in the main. For the fool hath said in his heart there is no God. Psal. xiv. 1. Not that he hath any ground for fuch a supposition or imagination : for see what the pfalmist faith, in the next words as an account from whence this opinion ariseth, corrupt are they, and
have done abominable works. So that this wicked principle in their mind, did arise from the wicked practices of their lives. Whereas, it ought to be, practice in pursuance of principle : but here it is, principle accommodate, and suitable to loose and vile practice. And well might the psalmist call these fools, because they are bold to controul the eternal and indispensible reason of things, and venture to deny the difference between good and evil, upon a moral account. And certainly these, in a christian ftate, are horribly prodigious and monstrous, that shall take up such principles; when the very philosophers, who had only the light of nature, have so strongly vindicated the difference of things, upon a moral account. And, if mind and understanding in man, signify any thing ; or if a man kuow any thing in the world, by the natural use of his mind and understanding; he knows the difference. of good and evil, upon a moral account. But many mens principles are vitiated and corrupted by the exorbitancy of their practice, and a vitiated sense is no true judge. But to speak home to the point, that men here live in a lie, and are under misapprehenfion, and led away with false appearances, that there is but little in the life of man that is fincere, and true : the fool hath said to himself, that he had goods laid up for many years, and that his soul might now, eat drink, and be merry, Luke xii. 19. But v. 20. God said unto him, thou fool, this night thy foul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided. So Ija. Ivi. 12. we read of some that say, come let us fetch wine, and we will
fill our felves with strong drink : and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant. But stay a little ; that is well, that ends well. He that will make his reckoning of himself, and leave out God, he must reckon again. He that will make up his accounts by his own fancy, may put himself into a fool's paradise : but things in the issue will not answer his expectation, and supposition. This is the calamity of us mortals ; not that which is true, folid, real and substantial doth always take place ; but that which is imaginary doth take too great place in the life of man : not that which is honeft, right and good ; but that which is pleasing and profitable : or rather, not things of the mind, but matters of sense, do prevail upon many men. And that is the second thing : less of man is in this state, than in the other ; because there is so little of true judge ment of things, and persons. But
3. Less of weal or woe, is in this state, than in the other; for men in this state do not fully reap the fruit of their own ways ; they do not come to the proof of the bargain they have made. Here, men only triumph in their imaginations, because they think to carry the cause, and that things musi be so, because they would have them fo. But hereafter, there will be sad reflection, as you have this matter admirably expressed in the book of Wisdom, v. 1. &c. Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labours. When they see it, they fall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of his falvation, fo far beyond
all that they looked for. And they repenting, and groaning for anguish of spirit, shall say within themselves, this was he whom we had sometimes in derision, and a proverb of reproach. We fools, accounted his life madRess, and his end to be without honour. How is he numbred among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints! Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not jhined unto us, and the fun of righteousnefs rose not upon us. We wearied ourselves in the way of wickedness and destruction ; pea we have gone through deserts where ihere lay no way: but as for the way of the Lord, we have not known it. What hath pride profited us, or what good hath riches with our vaunting, brought us ? All these things are passed away like a Shadow, and as a post that hafteth by. This was the representation that is happily made in this book, which shews the sad and miserable condition that every finner will be in at the last.
Whatsoever of good that is here begun, hereafter will be promoted, advanced, and perfected : and the like may be said of evil, for the backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways, Prov. xiv. 14. Every finner sooner or later shall receive the fruit of their own doings. It is a most signal place, that of the apostle, Rom. ii. 5. &c. wicked men are said after their hard and impenitent heart, to treasure up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds. To them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life ; but unto them
who who are contentious and obey not the truth, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every foul of man that doth evil ; to the Jew, first, and also to the Gentile. Alas! we see but the out-side of men, and we do incompetently judge. But whosoever doth allow himself, in ways of fin and wickedness; at times, he will have fears and jealousies, doubts and fufpicions, however he may appear to others, to be jolly and merry ; and to have but little trouble. For this I dare say, of all men that continue in fin without repentance, unless in one case, and that is a worse ; unless they be deserted of God, and given up to hardness of heart ; faving in this case, men that do affect to tranfgress the settled rule and law of righteousness and honesty ; that make no conscience to approve themselves to God, the laws of nature, or of revelation ; the rules of fcripture, or of reason ; thefe men undoubtedly have such timesy wherein their hearts misgive them'; have much of heart-ach, much of fear and jealousy. And, if they have none of these, it is worse with them, for then they are lefs recoverable. Whereas in the ways of fobriety, reason and virtue, religion, and true goodness, there is certainly hearts-ease, and a composure of mind : there is an inward calm and serenity; there is satisfaction for the present, and a wellgrounded expectation for the future: And this is to be expected, as that which is connatural ; and it doth not fail. This mans affairs are here, solid, and substantiał ; and hereafter they will be further settled and confirmed. And fo I have given you an account of the truth of that reason, why