Page images
[ocr errors]

various accidents, to which it is ex-
posed, be much shorter (leven or
ten Years according to a moderate
esteem ) may possibly, from fur-
prises undiscoverable, be very near
to its period; by few instants re-
moved from death (a Year, a Month,
a Day, it may be somewhat lefs.
This I shall allow to be the Arith-
metick that Moses here desires to
learn; whence it doth follow that
teaching (or making to know, so it
is in the Hebrew ) doth import here
(as it doth other-where frequently

in Scripture God'satPOU pois 631 opéras *zov10 fording the Grace to nG são osi Suntiv, os ón know practically, or pézovey es tu inc.savev. Plut.

with serious regard to au Apoll. p. 202.

Quis eft tam fultus, quam- consider this state and vis fit adolefcens, cui fit explo- measure of our life (for ratum se vel ad vesperum effe in speculation no Man victurum. Cic. de Sen.

can be ignorant of humane lifes brevity and uncertainty ; but most Men are so negligent and stupid, as not to regard it sufficiently, not to employ this knowledge to any good purpose.) This

Interpretation I chuse, being in it felf plausible enough, and countenanced by so good authority ; yet the former might well enough (by good consequence, if not so immediately ) ferve my design: Or be a ground able to support the discourse I intend to build upon the Words; the subject whereof briefly will be this, that the consideration of our lives certain and necessary brevity and frailty, is a mean proper and apt to dispose us toward the wife conduct of our remaining life; to which purpose such a consideration feems alike available, as the knowledge of its punctual or definite meafure; or more than it; upon the same, or greater reasons.

As for the latter clause, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom ; 'tis according to the Hebrew, And we fhall bring the heart to wisdom ; implying, the application of our hearts to wisdom to be consequent upon the skill and practice (bestowed by God) of thus computing our days.


[ocr errors]

B 4


As for wisdom, that may denote either Sapience, a habit of knowing what is true; or prudence, a dispofition of chusing what is good; we

may here understand both, especiDe fin. II. p. ally the latter; for, as Tully faith of

Philosophy, Omnis fumma Philofophiæ ad beate vivendum refertur, The summ or whole of Philosophy refers to living happily ; so all Divine Wisdom doth respect good practice. The word also comprehends all the

consequences and adNatura dedit ufuram vita, juncts of such wisdom tutá die. Tusc. quaft. I.p. 326. (for so commonly such

words are wont by way of metonymie to denote, together with the things primarily fignified, all that naturally flow from, or that usually are conjoined with them) in brief ( to ceale from more explaining that, which is in it self conspicuous enough ) I fo understand the Text, as if the Prophet had thus expressed himself: Since, O Lord, all things are in thy hand, and Sovereign disposal ; since it appears that


Man's life is so short and frail, lo vexatious and miserable, so expofed to the just effects of thy displeasure ; we humbly beseech thee, so to instruct us by thy Wisdom, so to dispose us by thy grace; that we may effectually know; that we may seriously consider the brevity and uncertainty of our lives durance ; whence we may be induced to understand, regard, and chuse those things which good reason dictates best for us ; which according to true Wisdom, it most concerns us to know and perform. From which sense of the words we might infer many usefull documents, and draw matter of much wholsome discourse; but passing over all the rest, I shall onely insist upon that one point, which I before intimated, viz. that the serious consideration of the shortness and frailty of our life is a proper instrument conducible to the bringing our hearts to Wisdom, to the making us to discern, attend unto, embrace and prosecute such things as are truly best for us; that it is available to the prudent conduct and management of our life ; the truth of which proposition is grounded upon the divine Prophet his opinion : he apprehended such a knowledge or consideration to be a profitable means of inducing his heart to Wisdom; wherefore he prays God to grant it him in order to that end; supposing that effect would proceed from this cause. And that it is so in way of reasonable influence I shall endeavour to shew by some following reasons.

1 John 1. 17. Love not the

I. The serious consiworld; for

the world pas. seth away, and the desire there deration of our lifes of.

frailty and shortness

will confer to our right valuation (or esteem) of things, and consequently to our well-placing, and our duly moderating our cares, affections and endeavours about them. For as we value things, so are we used to affect them, to Iperid our thoughts upon them, to be ear


« PreviousContinue »