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felves, get more prevalent with many.' 3. And because he is well known to be a Person of extraordinary and admirable Sam gacity, Dexterity, and Impartiality in the Search and the Difcovery of the Truth of Matters in question, and bath (though that be net so generally known) with much Care and Diligence, considered and examined the Reasons and Evidences, botb natural and moral, of Religion ; these Writings, wbicb lo plainly manifeft, though 'upon another occasion, bis Sense and Judgment of the Christian Religion, might be of good use to ease many of the Doubts and Scruples of Some Persons, and to check the vain and inconsiderate Presumption of others; about Religion. And bis Judgment in the Case is the more considerable, as in refpe&t of his great Ability, and the Care and Diligence which he hath used in the Examination of it; so in respect of bis Freedom from all those things, whether of natural Constitution, or of Profession, or of worldly Interest, which may be by some suspected to prejudice or byafs the Judgment of others. And therefore I doubt not but some, who have a great respect to his Perfox, and may perhaps not have the same Thoughts of Religion which he bath, when they should see bis Judgment in the case, might by the A4thority thereof be moved to a farther and better considération of it. 'Tis true, the Life of Religion is very visible in bis Life and A&tions, which are all the genuine Product of a sound and well grounded Perswasion of the Truth of that Faith which overa cometh the World, and bath indeed set him much above it; yet because common Prudence may move a sober and considerate Man to an external Conformity to so reasonable a Religion, and to the Practice of those excellent Virtues which it requires, these Writings may possibly give more satisfaction to some concerning his
Judgment in the cale, than his Life and Actions; and in that respect they may posibly come forth with some Advantage, being written and published in this manner : for here we may read bis most intimate and retired Thoughts.
And for these Reasons I much desired to have prefixed his Name, or at least to buve let the Reader know who he is; but I know that that would certainly have been displeasing to him, and therefore having made fo bold with him in the Pub lication of these bis Writings, I would not presume farther to discover who he is, though for so just and honeft exds; but
have purposely left out some Passages which would too plainly have made him known.
Being far distant from the Press, there may possibly be fome few Typographical Errata's, more than otherwise there should have been: but I hope that Care bath been taken, that they are not many, nor very considerable; but that the Sense will enable the Reader to amend them.
Ut Nox longa quibus mentitur amica, Diéfque
Of the Consideration of our LATTER END,
And the BENEFITS of it.
Deut. XXII. 29. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they
would consider their Latter End! IT may be probably thought, that the principal Inten. V tion of this Wish of Moses was, Ihat the People of
Israel had a due Consideration of their final Rejection; 1 the ten Tribes for their Idolatry, and the two Tribes for their Crucifying of the Messias; and not only of that State of Rejection, but of the Causes of it, namely, Idolatry and Rejection of the Messias; which Consideration would have made them wife and prudent to avoid those great Apostacies which should occasion so terrible a Deo sertion and Rejection by God.
But certainly the Words contain an evident Truth, with relation to every particular Perfon, and to that latter End that is common to all Mankind, namely, their latter end by death, and separation of the Soul and Body; the due consideration whereof is a great part of Wisdom, and a great means to attain and improve it; and very many of the Sins and Follies of Mankind, as they do in a great measure proceed from the want of an attentive and ferious Confideration of it ; so would they be in a great meafure cured by it.
It is the most certain, known, experienced Treth in the World, that all Mew must die ; chat the Time of that I eath is uncertain ; that yet most certainly it will come, and that within the compass of co long time: Tho the time
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 Lecture is read unto us by the many Casualties and Diseases that put a period to the Lives of many in our own Experience and Observation by the many Warnings and Monitions of Mortality that every Man finds in himself, 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 inceffantly 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, for not under the Stroke of a mortal Sickness. The Reasons of this Iniconsiderateness feem principally thefe:
1. That Men are not willing to entertain this unwelcome Thought of their own latter End; the Thought whereof is so unwelcome and troublesome a Guest, that it seems to blast and disparage all those present enjoyments of Sense that this Life affords: whereby it comes to pass, that as Death it self is unwelcome when it draws near; so 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
seemed 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 attends our humane Condition, to think otherwise concerning cur 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 cime mult 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 so 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 chat commonly attend our Lives: ard therefore the great means to cure this Folly, and to make us wise, is wilely to consider our Latter End. This Wisdom appears in those excellent Effects it produceth, which are generally these two: 1. It teacheth 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 fort 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 uneasic and troublesome by the reflection upon what I have done amiss? 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 fo 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
and a stainly I mult le things, that