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SER M.tempt them to put an End to their Lives

themselves, and sometimes bring them into the Hands of the Executioner. What a strange and unaccountable Proceeding is this! for Men to fin in hopes of Time to repent, and yet withal to commit such Sins, as of course will allow them no Time to repent in! How much better is the Psalmist's Advice? How much furer the Method which he

prescribes ? - What Man is he that lufteth to live, and would fain fee good Days ? Keep thy Tongue from Evil, and thy Lips that they Speak no Guile. Eschew Evil and do good, seek Peace and ensue it. The Eyes of the Lord are open to the Righteous, and his Ears are open to their Prayers. But the Countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil to root out the Remembrance of them from the Earth.

But thirdly, is the general Term or Period of Life fixed by God? This should teach us not to extend our Hopes and Expectations beyond this Term; not to live as if we were immortal, or as if we had some hundreds of · Years before us. For if God has limited our Days to a Century, or a single hundred Years at most; (and which of us here that is capable of reflecting upon what I am saying, can propofę to himself half that Number of Years

to XVI.

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to be now remaining?)It would be a Madness SERM.
for us to flatter ourselves with the Hopes of
exceeding that Time, except we could alter
the Decrees of Heaven. Nor should we in-
deed (considering the Years, we have lived al-
ready) entertain any Hopes of any

able Number of Years that we have still to
pass through. Men are very apt to promise
themselves, or hope for a Life of threescore
or fourscore Years : But are as apt to forget
that should they arrive to those Years at last,
twenty, or thirty, or forty, or fifty of them
are already past, and that they have only what
remains to come. This is a Reflection that
every one should make that is once arrived at
the Age of thinking: He should observe how
Days and Weeks, and Months and Years steal
insensibly upon him; should begin to think how
little Time he has now to live; and there-
fore Nould hastily go about the work, which
he ought to have entered upon, at his first set-
ting out. But though this Reflection con-
cerns us all; it more nearly concerns such
amongst us, as are growing near, or perhaps
have passed, the common and ordinary Age
of Man. It would be unpardonable in such,
still to depend upon Years to come, when they
have already attained to the usual Period of


SERM. Human Life, are in the Borders and Confines XVI.

and in the very Quarters of Death, and have already (as a late excellent Divine expresses it * ) borrowed some Years from the other World.

If these good Uses be made of the Confideration of the Uncertainty and Shortness of Human Life in general ; we shall

In the fourth Place be never troubled or concerned at either the Shortness or Uncertainty of our own in particular.

particular. We shall no more complain that our Life is but a Span, though a Span that compasses innumerable Sorrows. On the contrary we shall consider and apply each of these as a Remedy to the other. For does not the very Shortness of our *Lives abate it's Miseries? And do not its

many Miseries commend its Shortness ? Lord, we confess thy Decrees are just, and ourselves " the Cause of all our Miseries : We facri“ fice our Youth to Sport and Folly, and

our manly Years to Lust and Pride : We

spend our old Age in Avarice and Craft, “ and begin not to live till we are ready to " die. Then we bewail the Shortness of our

Time, when ourselves have prodigally

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or thrown it away.

We lead a loose and SERM.

XVI. " negligent Life, and then complain that “ Death takes us unawares.Our Days

perhaps are too few to grow rich; or to “ satisfie the Ambition of a haughty Spirit : " But to be taught the Love of God, and " the meek and humble Life of Jesus, re~ quires not so much a Number of Years, " as the faithful Endeavours of a pious Mind. « Would we bestow on the Improvements " of our Souls, the Time we vainly trifle

away; our Days would be short enough, « not to seem tedious, yet long enough to “ finish our appointed Task.”

But neither, I say, if the former good Use be made of the Uncertainty of Life in general, Thall we complain of our Ignorance of the particular Time and Manner of our own particular Deaths, as when and how it is we are to die. We shall rather, (provided we are duly prepared for it) rest satisfied and content with the Thoughts, that come it when, or howfoever it will, it will most assuredly prove our Gain. For [to speak a little more in the lofty Strains of the same pious Soul,} “ If it be“ fall us in our Age it will be a Haven of

Repose, and ought to be welcome after so “ long a Voyage. If in our Youth, it will




SERM. 56

prevent a thousand Miscarriages, a thousand Dangers of ruining our Souls. If by an ordinary Sickness, it is the Course of Nature; if by an outward Violence it is not without the Permission of Heaven. No

Matter how late the Fruit be gathered, if still it go on in growing better; no Mat

ter how foon it fall from the Tree, if not blown down before it is ripe. Therefore, O most just but secret Providence, who governest all things by the Counsel of thy Will; whose powerful Hand can wound and heal, lead down to the Grave and bring back again! Behold to thee we bow our Heads, and freely submit our dearest

Concerns. Strike, as thou pleasest, our oc

Health, our Lives; we cannot be safer than at thy Disposal. Only these few Requests we humbly make, which O may thy Clemency vouchsafe to hear : Cut us

not off in the midst of our Folly, nor suf“ fer us to expire with our Sins unpardoned: “ But make us, Lord, firft ready for thy“ felf, then take us to thy self in thine own

fit Time.

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