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now he that hath a long journey to make, and but a SERM. little time of day to pass it in, must in reason strive XLVII.
. to set out soon, and then to make good speed; must proceed on directly, making no stops or deflections, (not calling in at every sign that invites him, not standing to gaze at every object seeming new or strange to him ; not staying to talk with every passenger that meets him; but rather avoiding all occasions of diversion and delay,) lest he be surprised by the night, be left to wander in the dark, be excluded finally from the place whither he tends : so must we, in our course toward heaven and happiness, take care that we set out soon, (procrastinating no time, but beginning instantly to insist in the ways of piety and virtue,) then proceed on speedily, and persist constantly ; nowhere staying or loitering, shunning all impediments and avocations from our progress, lest we never arrive near, or come too late unto the gate of heaven. St. Peter tells us, that the end of all things doth approach, and thereupon advises us to be sober, and to watch unto prayer; for 1 Pet. iv. 7. that the less our time is, the more intent and industrious it concerns us to be. And St. Paul enjoins us to redeem the time, because the days are evil; that Eph. v. 15. is, since we can enjoy no true quiet or comfort here, we should improve our time to the best advantage for the future : he might have also adjoined, with the patriarch Jacob, the paucity of the days to their badness ; because the days of our life are few and Gen. xlvii. evil, let us redeem the time; man that is born of a Job xiv. 1. woman is of few days, and full of trouble : so few indeed they are, that it is fit we should lose none of them, but use them all in preparation toward that great change we are to make : that fatal passage
SERM. out of this strait time into that boundless eternity. XLVII. So, it seems, we have Job's example of doing ; AU Job xiv. 14. the days, says he, of my appointed time will I wait,
till my change come. I end this point with that so Luke xxi. comprehensive warning of our Saviour: Take heed
to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. Watch ye therefore, and pray, that ye may be counted worthy to escape—and to stand before the Son of man.
V. I shall adjoin but one use more, to which this consideration may be subservient, which is, that it may help to beget and maintain in us (that which is the very heart and soul of all goodness) sincerity: sincerity in all kinds, in our thoughts, words, and actions. To keep us from harbouring in our breasts such thoughts, as we would be afraid or ashamed to own; from speaking otherwise than we mean, than we intend to do, than we are ready any where openly to avow ; from endeavouring to seem what we are not; from being one thing in our expressions and conversations with men; another in our hearts, or in our closets : from acting with oblique respects to private interests or passions, to human favour or censure; (in matters, I mean, where duty doth intervene, and where pure conscience ought to guide and govern us;) from making professions and ostentations, (void of substance, of truth, of knowledge, of good purpose,) great semblances of peculiar sanctimony, integrity, scrupulosity, spirituality, refinedness, like those Pharisees so often therefore taxed in the gospel; as also from palliating, as those men did, designs of ambition, avarice, envy, animosity,
revenge, perverse humour, with pretences of zeal SERM. and conscience. We should indeed strive to be good
XLVII. (and that in all real strictness, aiming at utmost perfection) in outward act and appearance, as well as in heart and reality, for the glory of God and example of men, (providing things honest in the sight of Rom. xii. all men;) but we must not shine with a false lustre, nor care to seem better than we are, nor intend to serve ourselves in seeming to serve God; bartering spiritual commodities for our own glory or gain. For since the day approaches when God will judge Rom. ii. 16. (và kpuntà åv@pátwv) the things men do so studiously conceal; when God shall bring every work into Eccl. xii. judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil; since we must all ap-2 Cor. v. pear (or rather be all made apparent, be manifested oi zàę taand discovered) at the tribunal of Christ: since they mig there is nothing covered, which shall not be re-dia, kadà vealed, nor hid, that shall not be known; so that val.
Chrysost. whatever is spoken in the ear in closets shall be Luke xii. proclaimed on the housetops: since at length, and that within a very short time, (no man knows how soon,) the whispers of every mouth (the closest murmurs of detraction, slander, and sycophantry shall become audible to every ear; the abstrusest thoughts of all hearts (the closest malice and envy) shall be disclosed in the most public theatre before innumerable spectators; the truth of all pretences shall be thoroughly examined; the just merit of every person and every cause shall with a most exact scrutiny be scanned openly in the face of all the world; to what purpose can it be to juggle and baffle for a time; for a few days (perhaps for a few minutes) to abuse or to amuse those about us with crafty dissi
SERM. mulation or deceit? Is it worth the pains to devise XLVII.
plausible shifts, which shall instantly, we know, be detected and defeated; to bedaub foul designs with a fair varnish, which death will presently wipe off ; to be dark and cloudy in our proceedings, whenas a clear day (that will certainly dispel all darkness and scatter all mists) is breaking in upon us; to make vizors for our faces, and cloaks for our actions, whenas we must very shortly be exposed, perfectly naked and undisguised, in our true colours, to the general view of angels and men ? Heaven sees at present what we think and do, and our conscience cannot be wholly ignorant or insensible ; nor can earth itself be long unacquainted therewith. Is it not much better, and more easy (since it requires no pains or study) to act ourselves, than to accommodate ourselves to other unbeseeming and undue parts; to be upright in our intentions, consistent in our discourses, plain in our dealings, following the single and uniform guidance of our reason and conscience, than to shuffle and shift, wandering after the various, uncertain, and inconstant opinions or humours of men? What matter is it, what clothes we wear, what garb we appear in, during this posture of travel and sojourning here; what for the present we go for; how men esteem us, what they think of our actions ?
St. Paul at least did not much stand upon it; for, 1 Cor. iv. 3. with me, said he, it is a very small thing (fráxistov,
the least thing that can come under consideration) to be judged of you, or of human day, (that is, of this present transitory, fallible, reversible judgment of men.) If we mean well and do righteously, our conscience will at present satisfy us, and the divine (unerring and impartial) sentence will hereafter ac
quit us; no unjust or uncharitable censure shall pre- SERM. judice us: if we entertain base designs, and deal XLVII. unrighteously, as our conscience will accuse and vex us here, so God will shortly condemn and punish us; neither shall the most favourable conceit of men stand us in stead. Every man's work shall become 1 Cor. iii. manifest, for the day shall declare it; because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire (that is, a severe and strict inquiry) shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. I cannot insist more on this point; I shall only say, that, considering the brevity and uncertainty of our present state, the greatest simplicity may justly be deemed the truest wisdom; that who deceives others, doth cozen himself most; that the deepest policy, used to compass or to conceal bad designs, will in the end appear the most downright folly.
I might add to the precedent discourses, that phi- Toūro izan losophy itself hath commended this consideration as to abous to
Tūrar nue's. a proper and powerful instrument of virtue, reckon
ραν ως τελευing the practice thereof a main part of wisdom; the rainy datagreatest proficient therein in common esteem, So- lib. vii. crates, having defined philosophy, or the study of wisdom, to be nothing else but penéty Bavátov, the study of death; intimating also, (in Plato's Phædon,) that this study, the meditation of death, and preparation of his mind to leave this world, had been the constant and chief employment of his life: that likewise, according to experience, nothing more avails to render the minds of men sober and well composed, than such spectacles of mortality, as do impress this consideration upon them. For whom doth not the · sight of a coffin, or of a grave gaping to receive a friend, perhaps, or an ancient acquaintance; how
BARROW, VOL. III.