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and unalterably “ appointed for all men once to die?,” or to “ be changed,” to pass from hence to a condition of eternity, good or bad. Now, because this law is certain', and the time and the manner of its execution is uncertain, and from this moment eternity depends, and that after this life the final sentence is irrevocable, that all the pleasures here are sudden, transient, and unsatisfying, and vain ; he must needs be a fool, that knows not to distinguish moments from eternity: : and since it is a condition of necessity, established by Divine decrees, and fixed by the indispensable laws of nature, that we shall, after a very little duration, pass on to a condition strange, not understood, then unalterable, and yet of great mutation from this, even of greater distance from that, in which we are here, than this is from the state of beasts; this, when it is considered, must, in all reason, make the same impression upon our understandings and affections, which naturally all strange things, and all great considerations, are apt to do; that is, create resolutions and results passing through the heart of man, such as are reasonable and prudent, in order to our own felicities, that we neglect the vanities of the present temptation, and secure our future condition, which will, till eternity itself expires, remain such as we make it to be by our deportment in this short transition and passage through the world.
35. And that this discourse is reasonable, I am therefore confirmed, because I find it to be to the same purpose used by the Spirit of God, and the wisest personages in the world. “My soul is always in my hand, therefore do I keep thy commandments," said David : he looked upon himself as a dying person, and that restrained all his inordinations, and so he prayed, “ Lord, teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom".” And therefore the Egyptians used to serve up a skeleton to their feasts, that the dissolutions and vapours of wine might be restrained with that bunch of myrrh, and the vanities of their eyes chastized by that sad object : for they thought it unlikely a man should be transported far with any thing low or vicious”, that looked long and often into the hollow eye-pits of a death's head, or dwelt in a charnel-house. And such considerations make all the importunity and violence of sensual desires to disband. For when a man stands perpetually at the door of eternity, and, as did John the almoner, every day is building of his sepulchre, and every night one day of our life is gone and passed into the possession of death, it will concern us to take care, that the door leading to hell do not open upon us, that we be not crushed to ruin by the stones of our grave, and that our death become not a consignation to us to a sad eternity. For all the pleasures of the whole world, and in all its duration, cannot make recompense
1 Μόνος θεών γάρ Θάνατος ου δώρων ερά: Ουδ' άν τε θύων, ούτ' επισπένδων ναούς.Æschyl.
'Αθανασίας δ' ουκ έστιν, ουδ' αν συναγάγης Τα Ταντάλου τάλαντ' εκείνα λεγόμενα.Menand.
Vita bumana propè uti ferrnm est : si exerceas, conteritur; si non exerceas, tamen rubigo interficit.- Cato apud A. Gell. lib. xi. c. 2.
Γ. Προς μεν τα άλλα πάντα ασφάλειάν έστι προίστασθαι" χάριν δε θανάτου, πάντες άνθρωποι ατείχιστον πόλιν οικουμεν.- Metrodor. Phil.
• Dies iste quem tanquam extremum reformidas, æterni natalis est. Per hoc spatium, qnod ab infantià patet in senectutem, in aliam naturæ sumimur partem.-Senec. ep. 102.
i Psal. cxix. 109.
for one hour's torment in hell : and yet if wicked persons were to sit in hell for ever without any change of posture, or variety of torment beyond that session, it were insufferable beyond the endurance of nature : and therefore, where little less than infinite misery in an infinite duration shall punish the pleasures of sudden and transient crimes, the gain of pleasure, and the exchange of banks here for a condition of eternal and miserable death, is a permutation fit to be made by none but fools and desperate persons, who made no use of a reasonable soul, but that they, in their perishing, might be convinced of unreasonableness, and die by their own fault.
36. The use that wise men have made, when they reduced this consideration to practice, is, to believe every day to be the last of their life, for so it may be, and, for aught we know, it will; and then think what you would avoid, or what you would do, if you were dying, or were to-day to suffer death, by sentence and conviction ; and that, in all reason, and in proportion to the strength of your consideration, you will do every day. For “ that is the sublimity of wisdom, to do those things living, which are to be desired and chosen by dying personsz." An alarm of death, every day renewed, and pressed earnestly, will watch a man so tame and soft, that the precepts of religion will dwell deep in his spirit. But they “ that make a covenant with the grave, and put the evil day far from them,” they are the men that eat spiders and toads for meat greedily, and a temptation to them is as welcome as joy, and they seldom dispute the point in behalf of piety or mortification : for they that look upon death at distance, apprehend it not, but in such general lines and great representments that describe it only as future and possible, but nothing of its terrors or affrightments, or circumstances of advantage, are discernible by such an eye, that disturbs its sight, and discomposes the posture, that the object may seem another thing than what it is truly and really. St. Austin, with his mother Monica, was led one day by a Roman prætor to see the tomb of Cæsar. Himself thus describes the
u Psal. xc. 12.
και Θάνατος προ οφθαλμών έστω σοι καθ' ημέραν, και ουδέν ουδέποτε ταπεινόν ενθυμήση, ovdè ayar étibupńcess TiVÓS. —Epict. Enchir. cap. 28.
y Linquenda tellus, et domus, et placens
Ulla breveni dominum sequetur.- Hor. lib. ii. od. 14.
corpse. " It looked of a blue mould, the bone of the nose laid bare, the flesh of the nether lip quite fallen off, his mouth full of worms, and in his eye-pits two hungry toads feasting upon the remanent portion of flesh and moisture ; and so he dwelt in his house of darknessa." And if every person, tempted by an opportunity of lust or intemperance, would choose such a room for his privacy, that company for his witness, that object to allay his appetite, he would soon find his spirit more sober, and his desires obedientb. I end this with the counsel of St. Bernard, “Let every man, in the first address to his actions, consider, whether, if he were now to die, he might safely and prudently do such an act, and whether he would not be infinitely troubled, that death should surprise him in the present dispositions, and then let him proceed accordingly.” Por, since " our treasure is in earthen vessels,” which may be broken in pieces by the collision of ten thousand accidents, it were not safe to treasure up wrath in them; for if we do, we shall certainly drink it in the day of recompense.
· Hic est apex summæ sapientiæ, ea viventem facere, quæ morienti essent appetenda.
4 Και γαρ εγώ σποδός είμι,
Νίνου μεγάλης βασιλεύσας.. In Epitaph. Surdanapuli. b Hβωοις, φίλε θυμέ τάχ' άν τινες άλλοι έσoιντο "Ανδρες, εγώ δε θανών γαία μέλαιν' écoual. - Fragm. Theog. in Speculo Monach.
37. Thirdly: Before, and in, and after all this, the blessed Jesus propounds prayer as a remedy against temptations : “ Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” For, besides that prayer is the great instrument of obtaining victory by the grace of God, as a fruit of our desires, and of God's natural and essential goodness; the very praying against a temptation, if it be hearty, fervent, and devout, is a denying of it, and part of the victory : for it is a disclaiming the entertainment of it, it is a positive rejection of the crime; and every consent to it is a ceasing to pray, and to desire remedy. And we shall observe, that whensoever we begin to listen to the whispers of a tempting spirit, our prayers against it lessen, as the consent increases ; there being nothing a. more direct enemy to the temptation than prayer, which, as it is of itself a professed hostility against the crime, so it is a calling in auxiliaries from above to make the victory more certain. If temptation sets upon thee, do thou set upon God; for he is as soon overcome as thou art, as soon moved to good as thou art to evil; he is as quickly invited to pity thee as thou art to ask himd; provided thou dost not finally rest in the petition, but pass into action, and endeavour, by all means human and moral, to quench the flame newly kindled in thy bowels, before it come to devour the marrow of the bones. For a strong prayer, and a lazy, incurious, unobservant walking, are contradictions in the discourses of religion. Ruffinus tells us a story of a young man solicited by the spirit of uncleanness, who came to an old religious person, and begged his prayers. It was in that age, when God used to answer prayers of very holy persons by more clear and familiar significations of his pleasure, than he knows now to be necessary. But after many earnest prayers sent up to the throne of grace, and the young man not at all
c Matth. xxvi. 41.
Hic levare functum
bettered, upon consideration and inquiry of particulars, he found the cause to be, because the young man
relied so upon the prayers of the old eremite, that he did nothing at all to discountenance his lust, or contradict the temptation. But then he took another course, enjoined him austerities and exercises of devotion, gave him rules of prudence and caution, tied him to work and to stand upon his guard; and then the prayers returned in triumph, and the young man trampled upon his lust. And so shall I and you, by God's grace, if we pray earnestly and frequently, if we watch carefully that we be not surprised, if we be not idle in secret, nor talkative in public, if we read Scriptures, and consult with a spiritual guide, and make religion to be our work, that serving of God be the business of our life, and our designs be to purchase eternity; then we shall walk safely, or recover speedily, and, by doing advantages to piety, secure a greatness of religion, and spirituality to our spirits and understanding. But remember, that when Israel fought against Amalek, Moses's prayer and Moses's hand secured the victory, his prayer grew ineffectual when his hands were slack; to remonstrate to us, that we must co-operate with the grace of God, praying devoutly, and watching carefully, and observing prudently, and labouring with diligence and assiduity.
Eternal and most merciful Father, I adore thy wisdom, provi
dence, and admirable dispensation of affairs, in the spiritual kingdom of our Lord Jesus, that thou, who art infinitely good, dost permit so many sadnesses and dangers to discompose that order of things and spirits, which thou didst create innocent and harmless, and dost design to great and spiritual perfections; that the emanation of good from evil, by thy overruling power and excellences, may force glory to thee from our shame, and honour to thy wisdom, by these contradictory accidents and events. Lord, have pity upon me in these sad disorders, and with mercy, know my infirmities. Let me, by suffering what thou pleasest, co-operate to the glorification of thy grace and magnifying thy mercy ; but never let me consent to sin, but, with the power of thy majesty, and mightiness of thy prevailing