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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 fobriety; 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 Consideration 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, left 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 neceflary, 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 Confumptives that do not only exhaust that time that would be with
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 possibly 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 assign 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 bis Master 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 Sear of Death is more terrible than Death it felf; and byarequent 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 poflibility of Surprize upon him that is prepared to receive it. · Bilney the Martyr was used, before his Martyrdom, to put 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 surprized 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 heal. ed, 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 self mortal, Ila. 38. 3. Remember now, I beseech thee, O Lord, how I have walked before thee with a perfect 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 Con. fideration, and the due Improvement of it, as is before Shewn, Death to such a Man becomes nothing else but a
Gate unto a better Life: Not so much å dissolution of his prefent Life, as a change of it for a far more glorious, hyp. py, and immortal Life: So that though the Body dies, the Man dies not; for the Soul, which is indeed the Man, makes but à transition from her Life in the Body, to a Life in Heaven: No moment intervenes between the purting 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 lanctified it unto us, and by his Life hath conquered it, not only in himself, bu- for us ; I Cor- 15. 57. Thanks be unto God, who hath given us the Victory, through Jesus 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 Eternal; and upon this account it can neither hurt, nor may juftly affright us. It is reported of the Adder, that when she is old, the glides through some ftrait 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 somewhat ftrait, and uneasie to the Body, which like the decay'd Skin of the Adder, is left by the way, and not without some 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 Eftate 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 i light by the Gospel.
And now having gone through the Benefits of this wise Consideration of our Latter Ends, 1 shall now add Tome 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 Ter. ror to good Men ; yet,
1. Death is not to be wished or desired, though it be an Ob ject not to be feared, it is a thing not to be covered; for certainly Life is the greatelt temporal Blelling in this
World, 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 Obe. dience, 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, it 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 till 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 selves, 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