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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 Ledure is read unto us by the many Casualties and Diseases that put a period to the Lives of many in our own Experience and Obfervation ; by the maný Warnings and Monitions of Mortality that every Man finds in himselt, 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 incefsantly 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, fome desperate or acute Diseases; but concerned not them that are at present in Health, or not under the Scroke of a mortal Sickness. The Reasons of this Iniconsiderateness seem principally thefe:
1. That Men are not willing to entertain this unwelcome Thought of their own latter End; the Thought whereof is to unwelcome and troublesome a Guest, that it feems to blast and disparage all those present enjoyments of Sense that this Life affords: whereby it comes to pass, that as Death it felf is unwelcome when it draws near ; fo the Thoughts and Pre-apprehensions of it become as unwelcome as the thing it self.
2. A vain foolish Conceit that the consideration of our Latter End is a kind of Presage and Invitation of it; and
upon this account I have known many superstitiously and foolishly to forbear the making of their Wills, because it
feemed to them ominous, and a presage of Death; whereas this Consideration, tho it fits and prepares a Man for Death, it doth no way hasten or prelage it. 3. A
great difficulty that ordinarily atiends our humane Condition, to think otherwise concerning our Condition than what at present we feel and find. We are now in Health, and we can hardly bring our felves to think that a time must and will come, wherein we shall be fick: We are now in Life, and therefore we can hardly cast our Thoughts into fuch a mould, to think we shall die; and · hence it is true, as the common Proverb is, That there is no Man fo old, but he thinks he shall live a year longer.
It is true, this is the way of Mankind to put from us the evil Day, and the Thoughts of it; but this our way is our folly, and one of the greatest Occasions of those other Follies that commonly attend our Lives : ard therefore the great means to cure this Folly, and to make us wise, is wisely to consider our Latter End. This Wisdom appears in those excellent Effekts it produceth, which are generally these two: 1. It teacherh us to live well. 2. It tcacheth us to die easily:
I. For the former of these, the Consideration of our Latter End doth in no sort make our Lives the Thorter, but it is a great means to make our Lives the better.
1. It is a great Monition and warning of us to avoid Sin, and a great means to prevent it. When I shall consider that certainly I must die, and I know not how soon, why should I commit those things, that if they haften not my Latter End, yet they will make it more uneasie and troublesome by the reflection upon what I have done amifs? I may
die to morrow; why should I then commit that evil that will then be gall and bitterness unto me? Would I do it if I were to die to morrow? why should I then do it to day? Perchance it may be the last Act of my Life, and however let me not conclude so ill; for, for ought I know, it may be my concluding Act in this Scene of my Life. 2. It is a great motive and means to put us upon the best and most profitable improvement of our time. There be certain civil and natural Actions of our Lives that God Almighty hath indulged and allowed to us, and indeed commanded us with moderation to use: as, the competent Supplies of our own Natures with moderation and sobriety; the Provisions for our Families, Relations, and Dependances, without Covetousness or Anxiety; the diligent and faithful walking in our Callings, and discharge thereof: But there are also other businesses of greater Importance, which yet are attainable without injuring our selves in those common concerns of our Lives; namely, our Knowledge of God, and of his Will; of the Doctrine of our Redemption by Christ; our Repentance of Sins past; making and keeping our Peace with God; acquainting our selves with him; living to his Glory; walking as in his Presence; Praying to him; learning to depend upon him ; Rejoycing in him; walking Thankful unto him. These, and such like as these, are the great Business and End of our Lives, for which we enjoy them in this World; and these fit and prepare us for that which is to come : And the Confideration that our Lives are short and uncertain, and that Death will sooner or later come, puts us upon
this Resolution and Practice to do this our great Work while it is called to day; that we loiter not away our day, and neglect our Task and Work while we have time and opportunity, lest the Night overtake us, when we cannot work; to gain Oyl in our Lamps before the door be shut : And if Men would wisely consider their Latter Ends, they might do this great Business, this One thing necessary, with ease and quietness; yea, and without any neglect of what is necessary to be done in order to the common Necessities of our Lives and Callings. It is not these that disable us and rob us of our time: But the Thieves that rob us of our Time, and our One thing necessary, are Negligence, excess of Pleasures, immoderate and excessive Cares and Sollicitousness for Wealth, and Honour and Grandure; excessive Eating and Drinking, Curiosity, Idleness: These are the great Consumptives that do not only exhaust that time that would be with
infinite infinite advantage spent in our attainment, and perfecting, and finishing the great Work and Business of our Lives; and then when Sickness and Death comes, and God Almighty calls upon us to give up the Account of our Stewardship, we are all in confusion, our Business is not half done, it may be not begun; and yet our Lamp is out; our Day is spent; Night hath overtaken us; and what we do is with much trouble, perplexity, and vexation; and poffibly our Soul takes its flight before we can finish it. And all this would have been prevented and remedied by a due consideration of our Latter End; and that would have put us upon making use of the present time, and present opportunity to do our great Work while it is called to day, because the night cometh when no Man can work.
3. Most certainly the wise consideration of our Latter End, and the employing of our felves, upon that Account upon that One thing necessary, renders the life the most contenting and comfortable life in the World: For as a Man, that is a Man aforehand in the World, hath a much more quiet life in order to Externals, than he that is behind-hand so such a Man that takes his Opportunity to gain a stock of Grace and Favour with God, that hath made his peace with his Maker through Christ Jesus, hath done a great part of the chief business of his Life, and is ready upon all occasions, for all conditions, whereunto the divine Providence shall allign him, whether of life or death, or health or sickness, or poverty or riches; he is as it were afore-hand in the business and concern of his everlasting, and of his present state also. If God lend him longer life in this World, he carries on his great business to greater degrees of perfection, with ease, and without difficulty, trouble or perturbation : But if Almighty God cut him shorter, and call him to give an account of his Stewardship, he is ready and his Accounts are fair, and his Business is not now to be gone about; Blessed is that Servant whum his Mafter when he comes shall find so doing.
II. As thus this Consideration makes Life better, so it makes Death easie.
1. By frequent consideration of Death and Dissolution,
he is taught not to fear it; he is, as it were, acquainted with it afore-hand, by often preparation for it. The fear of Death is more terrible than Death it self; and bydrequent consideration thereof, a Man hath learned not to fear it. Even Children by being accustomed to vhat was at first terrible to them, learn not to fear.
2. By frequent consideration of our Latter End, Death becomes to be no surprize'unto us. The great Terror of Death is when it surprizeth a Man unawares; but Anticipation and Preparation for it, takes away all possibility of Surprize upon him that is prepared to receive it. Bilney the Martyr was used, before his Martyrdom, to půt his finger in the Candle, that so the Flames might be no novelty unto him, nor surprize him by reason of unacquaintedness with it; and he that often considers his Latter End, seems to experiment Death before it comes, whereby he is neither furprized nor affrighted with it, when it comes.
3. The greatest sting and terror of Death, are the past and unrepented Sins of the past Life; the Reflection upon these is that which is the Strength, the Elixir, the Venom of Death it self. He therefore that wisely considers his Latter End, takes care to make his Peace with God in his life-time; and by true Faith and Repentance to get his Pardon fealed; to enter into Covenant with his God, and to keep it; to husband his time in the Fear of God; to observe his Will, and keep his Laws; to have his Con- ; science clean and clear: And being thus prepared, the malignity of Death is cured, and the bitterness of it healed, and the fear of it removed: And when a Man can entertain it with such an Appeal to Almighty God, as once the good King Hezekiah made, in that sickness which was of it felf mortal, Isa. 38. 3. Remember now, I beseech thee, O Lord, how I bave walked before thee with a perfet beart, &c. It makes as well the thought, as the approach of Death, no terrible business.
But that which, above all, makes Death easie to such a considering Man, is this: That by the help of this Confideration, and the due Improvement of it, as is before fhewn, Death to such a Man becomes nothing else but a