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Gate unto a better Life: Not so much a dissolution of his prefent Life, as a change of it for a far more glorious, hap. py, and immortal Life: So that though the Body dies, the Man dies not; for the Soul, which is indeed the Man, makes but a transition from her Life in the Body, to a Life in Heaven: No moment intervenes between the putting off the one, to the putting on the other; and this is the great Privilege that the Son of God hath given us, that by his Death hath fanctified it unto us, and by his Life hath conquered it, not only in himself, but for us ; 1 Cor- 15:57. Thanks be unto God, who hath given us the Victory, through Fesus Christ our Lord; and our Victory, that is thus given us, is this ; 1. That the Sting of Death is taken away; and, 2. That this very Death it self is rendred to us a Gate and Passage to Life Éternal; and upon this account it can neither hurt, nor may justly affright us. It is reported of the Adder, that when she is old, the 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 fomewhat ftrait, and uneasie to the Body, which like the decay'd Skin of the Adder, is left by the way, and not without fome pain and difficulty to it : But the Soul passeth 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 Resurre&ion, who hath brought Life and Immortality to light by the Gospel.
And now having gone through the Benefits of this wife Confideration of our Latter Ends, 1 shall now add some Cautions that are necessary to be annexed to this Consideration: We are to know, that although Death be thus fubdued, and rendred rather a Benefit than a Terfor 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 covered; 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, I Kings 19.4. We are all placed in this world by Almighty God, and a talent of Life is delivered to us, and we are commanded to improve it; a Task is fer 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, ir is our Duty with Patience and Contentedness, to perform our Task, to be doing of our Work. And indeed in this Life our Lord has delivered us several Tasks of great importance to do; as namely, i. 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 Business 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 iill 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 Master 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 our felves, 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 call us to him. self 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.
2. A second Caution is this : That as the Business, and Employments, and Concerns of our Life must not estrange us from the Thoughts of Death, fo 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, sober Enjoyments of those honest lawful Comforts of our Life that God lends us ; so as it be done with great Sobriety and Moderation, as in the Presence of God, and with much Thankfulness to himn ; for this is
of that very Duty we owe to God for those very external Comforts and Blessings we enjoy. Deut. 28. 47. A wife and due Consideration of our Latter Ends, is neither to render us a fad, melancholy, disconsolate People; nor to render us unfit for the Businesses and Offices of our Life ; but to make us more watchful, vigilant, industrious, 10berly chearful and thankful to that God, that hath been plealed thus to make ourselves serviceable to him, comfortable to our felves, profitable to others; and after all this, to take away the Bitterness and Sting of Death, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Of Wisdom and the Fear of God;
That that is true Wisdom.
Job xxvii. 28. And to Man be said, Behold, the Fear of
the Lord that is Wisdom, and to depart from Evil is
HE great Prebeminence that Man hath over Beasts,
is his Reason; and the great Preheminence 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 refented, 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 resented, the generality of Mankind are in truth very Fools, and make it the great part of their Business to be so; and many thật 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 coinmensurate to the Nature of Mankind : And hence it is that one esteems it the only Wisdom to be a wise Politician or Statesman; another, to be a wise and knowing Naturalist; another, to be a wise Acquirer of Wealth, and the like; and all these are Wifdoms 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 Wildom that is most worth the seeking and finding, is that which renders a Man a Wise Man.
This excellent Man Fob, 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 Conc'esfions, vizi 1. That the true Root of Wisdom, and
that therefore best knew where it was to be found, and how to be attained, is certainly none other bue Almighty God, verf. 23. God underst andeth the way thereof, and knoweth the place tbereof : And, 2. As he alone beli knew it, so he best knew how to prescribe unto Mankind the Means and Method to attain it. To Man be said, To fear God that is Wisdom that is, it is the proper and adequate Wisdom suitable to humane Nature, and to the Condition of Mankind: And we need not doubt but it is fo, 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 fers forth the Glory, and Excellency, and Goodness of God. And, , consonant to this, David a wise King, and Solomon the wiseft of Men, affirm the same truth ; Psal. 111. 10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom ; a good understanding bave they that do bis Commandments. Prov. 1.), The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Knowledge; but Focls despise Wisdom and Instruction : And 9. 10. The fear of the Lord is tbe beginning of Wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy is Understanding. And when the Wise Man had run all his long Travel of Experiments to attain that which might be that good for the Children of Men ; in the end of his vedious Chace and Pursuit, he clofeth up all with this very fame Conclusion ; Ecclef. 12. 13. Let us hear the Conclusion of the whole matter, Fear God and keep his Commandments; for this is the whole Duty of Man; and he gives a short, but effectual Reason of ir; For God shall bring eve17 Work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. And hence it is that this Wife Man, who had the greatest measure of Wisdom of any meer Man since the Creation of Adam ; that had as great Experience and knowledge of all Things and PerIóns ; that made it his Business to learch and enquire, not only into Wisdom, but into Madness and Folly; that had the greatest Opportunity of Wealth and Power to make the exactest Enquiry therein ; this wise, and inquisitive,