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is old, she glides through some strait passage, and leaves her old skin in the passage, and thereby renews her vigour and her life. It is true, this passage through death is somewhat strait, and uneasy to the body, which, like the decayed skin of the adder, is left by the way, and not without some pain and difficulty to it: but the foul pafseth through without any harm, and without any expence of time, and in the next moment acquires her estate of immortality and happiness. And this is the victory over death, that all those have, that by true repentance and faith are partakers of Christ, and the benefits of his death and resurrection, who hath brought life and immortality to light by the gospel.
And now, having gone through the benefits of this wife consideration of our latter ends, I shall now add fome cautions that are necessary to be annexed to this consideration : we are to know, that although death be thus subdued, and rendered rather a benefit than a terror to good men; yet,
1. Death is not to be wished or desired ; though it be an object not to be feared, it is a thing not to be coveted; for certainly life is the greatest temporal blessing in this world. It was the passion, not the virtue, of that excellent prophet Elijah, that desired to die, because he thought himself only left of the true worshippers of God. We are all placed in this world by Almighty God, and talent of life is delivered to us, and we are commanded to improve it; a task is set every one of us in this life by the Great Master of the family of heaven and earth, and we are required with patience, and obedience, and faithfulness, to perform our task, and not to be weary of our work, nor wish our day at an end before its time. When our Lord calls us, it is our duty, with courage and chearfulness, to obey his call; but, until he calls, it is our duty, with patience and contenteddi Kings, xix. 4.
ness, ness, to perform our talk, to be doing our work. And, indeed, in this life, our Lord has delivered us several tasks of great importance to do; as, namely, 1. To improve our graces and virtues, our knowledge and faith, and those works of piety and goodness that he requires. The better and closer we follow that bufiness here, the greater will be our reward and improvement of glory hereafter. And therefore, as we must with all readiness give over our work when our Master calls us, so we must with all diligence and perseverance, continue our employment out till he calls us ; and, with all thankfulness unto God, entertain and rejoice in that portion of life he lends us; because we have thereby an opportunity of doing our Mafter the more service, and of improving the degrees of our own glory and happiness. 2. And, besides the former, he hath also set us another task ; namely, to serve our generation ; to give an example of virtue and goodness; to encourage others in the ways of virtue and goodness; to provide for our families and relations; to do all good offices of justice, righteousness, liberality, charity to others, chearfully and industriously to follow our callings and employments; and infinite more, as well natural, civil, moral employments, which, though of a lower importance in respect of ourselves, yet are of greater use and moment in respect of others; and are as well as the former required of us, and part of the task that our great Lord requires of us, and for the sake of which he also bestows many talents upon us to be thus improved in this life, and for which we must also at the end of our day give our Lord an account, and therefore, for the sake of this also we are to be thankful for our life, and not be desirous to leave our post, our station, our business, our life, till our Lord calls us to himself in the ordinary way of his Providence ; for he is the only Lord of our lives, and we are not the Lords of our own lives.
lawful, thank lations, po
2. A fecond caution is this: That as the business, and employments, and concerns of our life must not estrange us from thoughts of death, so again we must be careful that the over much thought of death do not so much poffefs our minds, as to make us forget the concerns of our life, nor neglect the business which that portion of time is allowed us for: as the business of fitting our souls for heaven; the businesses of our callings, relations, places, stations ; nay, the comfortable, thankful, fober enjoyments of those honest lawful comforts of our life that God lends us ; so as it be done with great fobriety and moderation, as in the presence of God, and with much thankfulness to him ; for this is part of that very duty we owe to God for those very external comforts and blessings we enjoy. A wise and due consideration of our latter ends, is neither to render us a fad, melancholy, disconfolate people; nor to render us unfit for the businesses and offices of our life; but to make us more watchful, vigilant, industrious, soberly, chearful, and thankful to that God, that hath been pleafed thus to make ourselves serviceable to him, comfortable to ourselves, profitable to others; and, after all this, to take away the bitterness and sting of death, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
* Deut. xxviii. 47.
WISDOM AND THE FEAR OF GOD.
THAT THAT IS TRUE WISDOM.
JOB, XXVIII. 28.
AND UNTO MAN HE SAID, BEHOLD, THE FEAR OF
THE LORD THAT IS WISDOM, AND TO DEPART FROM EVIL IS UNDERSTANDING,
I HE great pre-eminence that man hath over beasts, is his reason; and the great pre-eminence that one man hath over another is wisdom; though all men have ordinarily the privilege of reason, yet all men have not the habit of wisdom. The greatest commendation that we can ordinarily give a man, is, that he is a wise man; and the greatest reproach that can be to a man, and that which is worst resented, is to be called or esteemed a fool; and yet as much as the reputation of wisdom is valued, and the reputation of folly is refented, the generality of mankind are in truth very fools, and make it the great part of their business to be so; and many that pretend to seek after wisdom, do either mistake the thing, or mistake the way to attain it; commonly those that are the greatest pretenders to wisdom, and the search after it, place it in some little narrow concern, but place it not in its true latitude commensurate to the nature of mankind: And hence it is that one esteems it the only wisdom to be a wife politician or statesman; another, to be a wise and knowing naturalist; ano. ther, to be a wise acquirer of wealth, and the like; and all these are wisdoms in their kind; and the world perchance would be much better than it is, if these kinds of wisdom were more in fashion than they are : But yet these are but partial wisdoms, the wisdom that is most worth the seeking and finding is that which renders a man a wise man.
This excellent man Job, after a diligent search in the speech of this chapter) after wisdom, what it is, where to be found, doth at length make these two conclusions, viz. 1, That the true root of wisdom, and that I therefore best knew where it was to be found, and how to be attained, is certainly none other but Almighty God, r God understandeth the way thereof, and knoweth the place thereof 2': and, 2, As he alone best knew it, so he best knew how to prescribe unto mankind the means and method to attain it. To man he said, to fear God that is wisdom, that is, it is the proper and adequate wisdom suitable to human nature, and to the condition of mankind; and we need not doubt but it is so, because he that best knew what was the best rule of wisdom, prescribed it to man, his best of visible creatures, whom we have just reason to believe he. would not deceive with a false or deficient rule of wisdom; since as wisdom is the beauty and glory of man, fo wisdom in man fets forth the glory, and excellency, and goodness of God. And, consonant to this, David a wise King, and Soloman the wisest of men, affirm the same truth; • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a
good understanding have they that do his commandments 3.' « The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruc. tion 4. • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding 5.' And when the wise man had run all his
a that which ? Job, xxviii. 23. Psal. cxi. 10. Prov. i. 2.. • Prov. ix, 10.