« PreviousContinue »
CONSIDERATION of our LATTER END,
THE BENEFITS OF IT.
DEUT. XXXII. 29.
o THAT THEY WERE WISE, THAT THEY UNDERSTOOD THIS, THAT THEY WOULD CONSIDER THEIR LATTER END!
It may be probably thought, that the principal intention of this wish of Mofes was, that the people of Ifrael had a due consideration of their final rejection; the ten tribes for their idolatry, and the two tribes for their crucifying of the Messias ; and not only of that state of rejection, but of the causes of it, namely, idolatry, and rejection of the Messias ; which considera tion would have made them wife and prudent to avoid those great apostacies which should occasion so terrible a desertion and rejection by God.
But certainly the words contain an evident truth, with relation to every particular person, and to that latter end that is common to all mankind, namely, their latter end by death, and separation of the soul and body; the due consideration whereof is a great part of wisdom, and a great means to attain and im. prove it; and very many of the fins and follies of mankind, as they do in a great measure proceed from the want of an attentive and serious confideration of it; so would they be in a great measure cured by it.
It is the most certain, known, experienced truth in the world, that all men must die; that the time of that death is uncertain ; that yet most certainly it will come, and that within the compafs of no long time: though the time of our life might be protracted to its longest period, yet it is ten thousand to one that it exceeds fourscore years ; where one man attains to that age, ten thousand die before it: and this lecture is read unto us by the many casualties and diseases that put a period to the lives of many in our own experience and observation ; by the many warnings and monitions of mortality that every man finds in him. self, either by the occurrences of diseases and weaknesses, and especially by the declinations that are apparent in us, if we attain to any considerable age; and the weekly bills of mortality in this great city, where weekly there are taken away, ordinarily three hundred persons. The monuments and graves in every church and church-yard do not only evince the truth of it, whereof no man of understanding doubts, but do incessantly inculcate the remembrance of it.
And yet it is strange to see that this great truth, whereof in the theory no man doubts, is little considered or thought upon by the most of mankind : but notwithstanding all these monitions and remembrances of mortality, the living lay it not to heart, and look upon it as a business that little concerns them ; as if they were not concerned in this common condition of mankind, and as if the condition of mortality only concerned them that actually die, or are under the immediate harbingers of it, some desperate or acute diseases; but concerned not them that are at present in health, or not under the stroke of a mortal fickness. The reasons of this inconsiderateness reem principally those:
1. That men are not willing to entertain this un. welcome thought of their own latter end; the thought whereof is so unwelcome and troublesome a guest, that it seems to blast and disparage all those present enjoy