Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

wholly intermitted, unless the very worldly concerns did fet them in action, as the ends ftand thus reprefented to their expectation.

2. Mankind being endued with a fancy or imagination, that hath not only a power of feparating the good of every thing from the evil that may poffibly accompany what it expects, but also of stuffing and filling the good with great imaginary advances, it doth (to please and gratify itself) exercife both thefe delightful deceits. If it finds any good in what it expects, it doth upon choice thruft away and remove all that evil that is really annexed to it, that fo it may not be vexed with the pre-apprehenfions of it: and it multiplies, and augments, and advanceth and magnifieth that good that it hath left, that fo he may with the greater delight expect what he, by this phantafy, hath wrought himself up to a belief that he fhall enjoy.

The mifery and unhappiness that falls upon mankind, from this advance of the Hope and Expectation of Worldly Ends, is obfervable in one of thefe events thereof:

1. It may be there is an utter fruftration of the whole thing defigned and aimed at, and fo his expectation is like the dream of the hungry man in the prophet, that dreamed he had eaten, and he awakes and behold he is a hungry 1.

2. If he attain the end he expected, be it wealth or honour, or pleasure, or the like; yet many times there doth attend it fome fignal mischief or evil that he had not before the patience to think of, that doth render the whole enjoyment to be utterly a thing mischievous, and worse than a disappointment. And indeed the things of the world are generally of fuch a confiftency, that a very little evil joined to it, will four and make it unfavory. A want of a little fpot of ground for a garden, will make the fruitions of a kingdom but infipid to Abab; and a want of Mordecai's knee, will difrelish all the honour of the great courtier Haman. The truth is, the mind is that which makes any thing uneafy;

1

and

Isaiah xxix. 8.
2 B 4

and it falls out that a small crofs or trouble to a mind, especially filled with expectation of a full and entire happiness, will be as troublesome as a small thorn in a great man's foot.

3. But yet further, fuppofe we, that the thing projected is attained without any mixture of mischief attending it; yet here is an infeparable unhappiness that doth attend the most perfect enjoyment of the best worldly advantage projected and expected; it is always lefs than it was expected. The expectation flattered itfelf with much more than what it finds, and a man doth infallibly find that his mind and phantafy had dreffed up and adorned the image and phantafm of what was projected, much finer and goodlier than he finds it, when he attains it. A man projecting happinefs in honour, wealth, friends, applaufe, pleafures, or any other earthly thing, is much like a builder, that hath much more content in his contrivances and expectation of the beauty, comelinefs, usefulness, contentment, and other complacency of his building, than when it is finished; and when he hath done all, nay, though exquifitely fuitable to his mind, yet his contentment vanifheth in the fruition, and the contentment, as it falls fhort of the expectation, fo for the moft part it dies and vanifheth with the enjoyment.

Take therefore this counsel: First, in all thy defigns of temporal advantages, keep thy expectation and hopes low, clog them with fufpicions, and abatements, and allays; otherwife thy expectations will cheat thee; and not only fo, but render that good that thou fhalt attain (even upon honeft defigns) infipid and flat, because less than what thou expecteft: whereas a low expectation gives a relifh to a low enjoyment. Secondly, Set not thy heart upon an earnest profecution of temporal advantages; for, if they do not vex thee by disappointment, or fome thorn or gall that doth adhere to them, yet it is ten to one they will cheat thee; appear more glorious at a distance and in expectation, than nearer hand, and in fruition. They are trimmed

ů.

up

up with report and expectation ;. but in reality, and in themfelves, are like the apples of Sodom, beautiful to the eye, but vanish into dust when touched. Solomon was certainly the wifeft and externally happiest king that ever the world knew: he had the greateft oppor tunity that ever any man had, to take a full eftinate of the world in its choiceft enjoyments, by reafon of his wealth, and peace, and power, and intereft, almoft with all the princes and potentates that then reigned. He had a vast judgment and understanding of all things in nature, and could with exquifite fkill and relifh, fearch into, and attain all that was externally good and defirable in this world; and befides all this, he made it his chief business to fearch out what was that good for the fons of men, under the fun: and this he did neither brutishly, as led thereunto by fenfuality; nor fuperficially, or barely by fpeculation; but he made it his business not only ftrictly to enquire into it, by his reafon and judgment, but alfo really to experiment and try the matter he thus fought after: and having with much industry and obfervation climbed, as it were, to the top of all worldly felicity and enjoyment, and beholding the rest of mankind, as well as they were able, reaching and clambering, as it were, towards this precipice of worldly felicity,

Dum monte potitus
Spectat anhelantem dura ad fastigia turbam.

From this high mountain he befpeaks mankind in his critical Book of Ecclefiaftes, as it were, in this manner: * Ye Children of Men, I fee ye are full of great expectations of and by worldly contentment, and you 'take much pains for the acqueft of them: Liften a 'while what I fhall fay to you: I have had thofe op

C

portunities of a full difcovery of the beft that this 'world can afford; Wealth, Honour, Pleafures of all 'forts and kinds, and fuch opportunities as none of you ever had or can expect, to make the like difco' very;

C

very; and I have denied myself nothing that this 'world can afford to give me content, and the most exquifite taste and relish of them; and I have now arrived to the very faftigium, the very highest point of this mountain of pleafure and worldly 'fruition; and I find myself wholly deceived in what 'I expected: I expected indeed as great contentation ' as you do, but now I have tafted of every dish, I find ' them all to be but Vanity and Vexation of Spirit. I ' have not been only disappointed in what I expected from them, but instead thereof have reaped nothing 'but Sorrow, Anxiety, Vexation. You do therefore ' deceive yourselves in all the pains you take, while ye "think from these worldly enjoyments, ye fhall acquire 'Happiness, yea, or Contentation in them. Be wife "therefore, and take warning by me, the greatest Exam· ple that ever the World knew of this kind. Give over 'these laborious, bufy and vain purfuits of yours; and ⚫ take out but this concluding leffon of mine, which I have learned by infallible experience, Fear God, and keep his Commandments, for this is the whole Duty of • Man.'

C

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

OF

OF

THE INSTABILITY AND VICISSITUDE

OF

OUR PRESENT CONDITION.

HEB. XIII. 14.

FOR HERE HAVE WE NO CONTINUING CITY, BUT WE SEEK ONE TO COME.

I HAVE, in my course of life, had as many stations, and places of habitation, as moft men. I have been in almost continual motion; and although, of all earthly things, I have the most defired reft, retiredness, and a fixed private station; yet the various changes that I have seen and found, the public employments that without my feeking, and against my inclination have been put upon me, and many other interventions, as well private as public, have made the former part of this text true to me in the letter, that I have had no continuing city, or place of habitation. When I had defigned unto myself a fettled mansion in one place, and had fitted it to my convenience and repofe, I have been presently constrained by my neceffary employments to leave it and repair to another: and when again I had thoughts to find repofe there, and had again fitted it to my convenience, yet fome other neceffary occurrences have diverted me from it: and thus by feveral viciffitudes, my dwellings have been like fo many inns to a traveller; though of fome longer continuance, yet almoft of equal inftability and viciffitude. This unfettledness of station, though troublefome, yet hath given me a good and practical moral; namely, that I must not expect my reft in this lower world, but muft make it as the place of my journey and pilgrimage, not of

my

« PoprzedniaDalej »