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pects we should act like reasonable Creatures;


XVI. and therefore does not think fit to give us Notice of a Change, for which we ought always to be preparing. For this Reason, if the Certainty of another World, and the Uncertainty of our Stay in this, be not enough to turn Men's Thoughts to Seriousness and Religion; He will not try whether the certain Knowledge of the Time, when we shall pass from one into the other, will influence them more. That we may die in a Moment, and that thousands do so, is Reason enough to engage us always to expect and prepare for it. And if we will venture we must take our Chance, and not, if we miscarry, lay the Blame upon God for not giving us Warning.

And from hence the Transition is very easy to the ill Consequences of the other Case just now supposed, viz. of a Man's being certainly assured that he should live to be old. For if the uncertain Hopes and Expectations of long Life ruin so many Men; what would the certain Knowledge of it do? Would not a Man that was apprized that he had still threescore Years to come, have too much Temptation to indulge himfelf in Sin, upon the Prospect of having so much Time before him, in which he may repent ? Add to this, that


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SER M. fuch a Certainty and Assurance of a Man's by living long, would destroy one of the most

principal and prevailing Motives he could have to Virtue and Religion. For the most sensible and affecting Arguments in this Case are those which in my last I had Occasion to mention, viz. The Wicked shall not live out half their Days; and The Fear of the Lord prolongeth Days, but the Years of the Wicked shall be shortened. These Promises and Threatnings would have no Effect, should God once suffer Men to know how long they have to live, and at what time they shall certainly die.

Add again, That such Certainty, as we are supposing, of a long Life to come, would frustrate and render ineffectual and vain all the Methods and Designs which Providence makes Use of for the reclaiming of Sinners. Plague, Pestilence or Famine, the strongest Judgments he could inflict on Mankind, would have no Influence upon Persons who are beforehand sure of escaping them. Nor would Sickness or Misfortunes prevail with those who are aware that they shall live to recover and survive them. In a Word, whilst we are uncertain how long or short our Lives" may be, we have always a Motive ta continual Watchfulness, that we may be al


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ways in a Readiness for a change that


XVI. do not know how foon may happen : But to know of a Certainty when we shall die, would be of Use to none of us; i. e. of no good Use, but would perhaps increase our Wickedness here, and our Damnation hereafter. May none of us therefore be sollicitous and uneasy for a Knowledge which would very probably undo us; but rather let us adore the Goodness of God, for concealing from us what would be the Occasion of so much Harm,

Having thus gone through the several Points I proposed to speak to from my Text; ; Let us now see what practical Uses may be made of it.

And the first and leading Subject of my Discourse, which was to prove that we are destined to die but once, is a Subject that may very successfully be applied both to comfort and instruct us.

By way of Comfort, it administers Consolation against the melancholy Thoughts which are apt to arise from the Consideration of the Multiplicity of Deaths and Disasters to which Human Nature is continually exposed : When we look over a weekly Bill of Mortality, or visit the various Wards of an Hospital, or hear of the diffe


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rent and dismal Accidents that sometimes beXVI:

fall our Acquaintance or Friends : We are apt to shrink and shudder at every particular Cafe, for fear it should be our own.

But if we remember the Admonition in my Text, all this Dread will be needless and vain. For of all the different and various kinds of Deaths we know, we are sure there can be but one for any particular Person : Dying is an Act to be done but once, and once well done we are happy for ever.

Thus the Text and the Doctrine drawn from it, speaks to us, if attended to, by way of Consolation, But by way of Instruction it is still much more weighty and important. For if Death comes but once, and that once is for Eternity; of how great Consequence is it to us all, to be well prepared and armed beforehand that once to die well. Who then would ever live in such Manner, as that Death, when it comes may be said to surprize him? Who on the contrary would not be always in a Readiness for a Change that may at once, and without Warning, put him into an everlasting and an unalterable State either of Happiness or Misery ?

But secondly, fince the Number of Days that we are to pass in this World, is in some


Measure left to our own Management and S ERM. Care, then whoever desires a long, an easy, and a happy Life must use the to attain it. I have already observed that the most careful Means cannot protract any Man's Life longer than its natural Frame and Constitution is contrived to endure. But it will preserve it so long in Vigour and Health; and then, when Nature requires him to pay the Tribute that is due to it, full of Acknowledgment for the Favours he has already received from God, he throws himself into the Arms of his future Mercy, and passes from this short and corruptible Life, to that whose eternal Happiness is the Reward of his Temperance and Sobriety. Whereas the Glutton and the Epicure, the Lustful and the Passionate; the Ambitious, the Covetous, the Haughty and the Proud, at the same time that they are promising themselves thirty or forty or fifty Years to come; are also indulging themselves in those very Excesses and Tempers of Mind, which weaken and destroy the strongest Constitution, and hurry them to the Grave: Which inftame their Blood, or entail Rottenness upon their Bones : Which drive them into Quarrels, or ruin their Estates; and so force them into Measures that sometimes


proper Means


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