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At the worst, the afflictions and sufferings of this present time are not like the troubles and miseries of the other world, they will not last always. The most grievous things that can befal us here, are not like the torments of hell, neither for the degree, nor the duration of them, without intermission and without end.

IX. The meditation of death, and of the consequences of it, should make us upright and sincere in all our words and actions. Hypocrisy and diffimulation, as much as they are practised, are no part of true wisdom, no, not as to this world ; they recoil terribly upon men, and turn to their reproach and disadvantage so soon as they are discerned, and they cannot be long practised without being discovered. Eut if we regard the other world, all disguises and arts of deceit are perfect folly ; because then God will bring every work into judgment, and every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil, as Solomon assures us, Ecclef. xii, 14. And our blessed Saviour cautions us against hypocrisy, upon this consideration, that there is a day coming, when all the false pretences of men shall be exposed and laid open, and all those masks and vizors which men wear in this world will fall off, and the actions of men shall appear in their true colours, Luke xii. 1, 2. Beware, says our Saviour there first of all, of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy ; for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; nor hid, that hall not be known.

Lastly, The meditation of our latter end should put us upon a careful, and continual, and particular preparation for the time of our death and dissolution. And this is very well worth our while; and the sooner we set about it, the better : because, when this work is in any good measure done, we have rescued ourselves from that bondage, to which most men are all their life long subject, because of the continual fear of death. Nothing abates the terror of death, like a due preparation for it. When this is once made, we cannot be much concerned when it comes ; for to a well prepared mind, sooner or later naakes no great difference: but if we have delayed this pecessary work, the longer we have delayed it, the more unfit we shall be for it, and the more unwilling to set VOL. VIII.



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about it; and if necessity drives us to it at last, we shall find that old age and lickness are but bad times to make preparation for death in, to begin our repentance and the change of a bad life. He that prepares not for death, before he draws near to it, and comes to lie upon a sick-bed, is like him that begins to study the art of navigation, when he hath prefent occasion and use for the skill which he hath not yet learned, when his vessel is driven among rocks, and is every moment in danger of being dalhed in pieces.

Let this then be established for a firm principle and rule, that the best and fureft preparation for a happy and comfortable death, is a holy and good life. For nothing will disarm death of its terrors, like the conscience of our own innocency, and of a sincere defire and endeavour to please God in the general course and tenour of our lives,' and of a sincere repentance for all the errors and miscarriages of our lives. And though our life be short and uncertain, yet it is a greatdeal that we may do by way of preparation for another world, if we begin and set out betimes, and be good husbands of the present opportunities. It is a great way that we may go in a short time, if we be always moving and pressing forwards.

But the mischief is, many men pass fifty or fixty years in the world, and when they are just going out of it, they bethink themselves, and step back, as it were, to do something which they had all this while forgot, viz. the main business for which they came into the world, to repent of their fins and reform their lives, and make their peace with God, and in time to prepare for eternity. This, which is forgotten and deferred to the last, ought to have been first thought of, and to have been made the great business of their whole lives.

But I proceed to give some more particular directions concerning our preparation for death ; namely,

1. By frequent meditation of it, which will render it more familiar to us, and help us to tame this monfter, and to take off the dread of it, and therefore


should accustom ourselves to the thoughts of it, that we may, in some measure, be reconciled to it.

2. We should endeavour to mitigate the evil' and ter. ror of death, by thinking of something worse, I mean,


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the evils and miseries of life. For when we once come to look

upon death as a remedy of all the evils of life, we Mall then begin to be reconciled to it; and if we be wise, fhall be glad to be out of the noise, and danger, and fufa fering of so many evils as we are continually liable to in this world; and shall thank God heartily for dismissing us, and giving us leave to die, and by death to put an end to this miserable life, and to begin a better and happier life, which shall never have an end.

And we should likewise meditate much on the glory and happiness of another world. For if we be once possessed with a firm belief and persuasion of it, we shall think the time long that we are detained from it, and wish for that which we so much feared, I mean death, that it may bring us to the enjoyment of that which we have much more reason to delire.

And, indeed, considering (as I said before) the many evils and miseries which we are liable to, and always in danger of, while we are in this world, we have cause to thank God that we were born to die, and that we are not .condemned to live for ever in this world. So that, whenever God shall think fit to release us, we ought to esteem it a favour; -but if he will have us to stay a little longer, we muft, with patience, wait for another opportunity of ma'sing our escape out of an evil and troublesome world. But, methinks, we should not much desire to ride it out zin the storm any longer, when the port is open, and we may safely enter in. And then,

3. By way of farthe preparation for death, we should vendeavour to maintain always a lively sense of it in our minds, that we may be, to all good effects and purpofes, as much under the power of it, as if it were just approaching, as if the physician or the judge had paffed the fentence of death

upon us.

We lhould always reckon upon that which may happen the next moment, and if we do fo; we can never be extremely surprized; but whenever our Lord comes shall be found watching. And,

Lastly, We should make it our conftant prayer to God, that he would fit us for our dissolution, and itand by us, and comfort us in that needful time, without whose gram cious support and affittance, both physicians, and even the



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ministers of God themselves, are but miserable comforters. It should be our daily petition to God, that he would enable us to perform this last act of our life with decency and constancy of mind, that neither our diseafe por our weakness may break the firmness of our spirits, or leave us to be amazed with fear, or betrayed with peevilhness, so as to render us uneasy to ourselves, or to make our friends willing to be rid of us.

But more especially, when God thinks fit, either by the nature or present danger of our distemper, to give us a nearer fummons and clearer warning of our mortality, we should take the opportunity to impress upon our minds a deep and niore lively fense of another world, that we may quicken our pace, and work the work of him that fent us into the world, while it is day ; because the night is coming when no man can work.

Nature, I know, is fond of life, and apt to be ftill longing after a longer continuance here, and to find many delays and excuses to tarry yet a while longer in this world : and yet a very long life, with the usual burdens and infirmities of it, is seldom in reason desirable ; for it is but the same thing over again, or worse ; fo many more days and nights, summers and winters, a repetition of the same pleasures, but still with less pleasure and relish; a return of the same or greater pains and troubles, but still with less patience and strength to bear them.

Let us then be of good courage in the approaches of death, since we fee land, and the storm which we are in will quickly be over; and then it will be as if it had never been, or rather the remembrance of it will be a great pleasure to us.

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Suave mari magno, turbantibus æquora

E terrd alterius magnum spectare periclum.
Non quia vexari quenquam eft jucunda voluptas ;

Sed quibus ipfe malis careas quia cernere fuave eft. " It is a pleasant thing to stand upon the shore, when we “ see others in a great storm at sea. Not that it is de" lightful to see others in danger ; but when others are

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“ in great difficulties and dangers, it is a pleafore to find « ourselves safe and out of danger."

And if it should pleafe God to exercise us with great pains or tedious sickness, we should make use of all the considerations which reason and religion do furnith us withal, to help to mitigate and deceive our 'troubles, and to make that short way a little more smooth and easy. For the best of us have no privilege and exemption from the common accidents of humanity, no piety can certainly secure to any of us an easy and comfortable death; and therefore it is a groundless confidence for any man to reckon upon it ; we must in this, as in all other things, resign up ourselves to God's good pleasure, and submit to him the time and manner, and all other circumstances of our departure out of this world; whether our fun shall set in a cloud, or shine brightest and look biggest when it is going down. But however it fets, it is the sun Itill, and the fountain of light, and will rise gloriously. There are always the feeds of joy and comfort in t e conscience of a good man ; and though they be hid and buried for a while, they will spring forth tone time or other. Light is fown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart, as David affures us, Plal. xcvii. 11.

I will conclude all with the words of the author of this Psalm, Deut. xxxi. 29. O:that they were wise, that they undo. ftood this; that they would consider their latter end!

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