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and worships is that in the text, that wretched madness of heaping up riches : this is the great foolishness and disease, especially of old age, that the less way a man has to go, he makes the greater provision for it; when the hands are stiff, and for no other labour, they are fitted and composed for scraping together. But for what end dost thou take all this pains ? If for thyself, a little sober care will do thy turn, if thy desires be sober; and if not so, thy diligence were better bestowed in impairing and diminishing of these, and that is the easier way a great deal. And if it be for others, why dost thou take a certain unease to thyself for the uncertain ease of others? And who these are thou dost not know; may be, such as thou never intended them for. It were good we used more easy and undistracting diligence, for increasing of these treasures, which we cannot deny are far better, and whosoever hath them, may abound therein with increase; he knows well for whom he gathers them; he himself shall possess them through all eternity.
If there were not a hope beyond this life, there were reason for that passionate word in Psal. lxxxix. 47. Why hast thou made all men in vain? To what purpose were it for poor wretched man, to have been all his days tossed upon the waves of vanity, and then to lie down in the grave and be no more heard of? But it is not so, he is made capable of a noble and blessed life beyond this; and our forgetfulness of this, is the cause of all our misery and vanity here. - It is a great folly to complain of the shortness of our life, and yet to lavish it out so prodigally on trifles and shadows : if it were well managed, it would be sufficient for all we have to do. The only way to live indeed, is to be doing service to God, and good to men: this is to live much in a little time. But when we play the fools in mispending our time, it may be indeed a sad thought to us, when we find it gone, and we are benighted in the dark so far from our home. But those that have their
souls untied from this world and knit to God, they need not complain of the shortness of it, having laid hold ou eternal life; for this life is flying away, there is no laying hold on it; it is no matter how soon it go away, the sooner the better, for to such persons it seems rather to go too slow.
Ver. 7. And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in
To entertain the minds of men with thoughts of their own vanity, and discourses of their own misery, seems to be sad and unpleasant; but certainly it is not unprofitable, unless it be our own choice to make it so; and that were the greatest vanity and misery of all. Indeed, if there were no help for this sore evil, then the common shift were not to be blamed, yea, it were to be chosen as the only help in such a desperate case, not to think on it, to forget our misery, and to divert our thoughts from it, by all possible means, rather than to increase it, and torment ourselves, by insisting and poring on it; and in that case, shallow minds would have the advantage, that could not converse with these sad thoughts; for to increase this knowledge were but to increase sorrow. But far be it from us thus to determine; there is a hope which is a help to this evil, and this is it that this holy man fixes on, And now, Lord, &c. otherwise it were strange, that the most excellent piece of the visible creation should be made subject to the most incurable unhappiness, to feel misery which he cannot shun, and to be tormented with desires that cannot be satisfied. But there is some better expectation for the souls of men, and it is no other but himself who made them.
The wisest natural men have discoursed of man's vanity, and passionately bemoaned it, but in this they have fallen short, how to remedy it. They have aimed at it and come near it, but were not able to work it; they still laboured to be satisfied in themselves; they speak somewhat of reason, but that will not do it, for man being fallen under the curse of God, there is nothing but darkness and folly in himself. The only way to blessedness is by going out of ourselves unto God.
All our discourses of our own vanity will but further disquiet us, if they do not terminate here, if they do not fix on his eternal happiness, goodness and verity.
I am persuaded, if many would ask this question at themselves, What wait I for? they would puzzle themselves and not find an answer: there are a great many things that men desire and are gaping after, but few after one thing chiefly and stayedly; they float up and down, and are carried about without any certain motion, but by fancy, and by guess; and no wind can be fair for such persons, that aim at no certain haven.
If we put this question to ourselves, What would I have? It were easy for many to answer, I would have an easy, quiet, peaceable life in this world; so would an ox or a horse; and, is that all? may be, you would have a greater height of pleasure and honour; but think on this one thing, that there is this one crack and vanity that spoils all these things, that they will not bear you up when you lean to them in times of distress; and besides, when you have them, they may be pulled from you, and if not, you must be plucked away from them within a little while; there is much seeming content in the pursuit of these things, but they are lost with greater discontent. It is God's goodness to men, to blast all things in the world to them, and to break their fairest hopes, that they may be constrained to look about to Himself; he beats them from all shores, that he may bring them to the Rock that is higher than they O! that God would once touch some of
your * Psal. lxi. 2.
hearts, that are under the chains of darkness, that ye might once bethink where to rest your heads in the midst of all our confusions; and here is the resting-place, hope in God. Now, Lord, what wait
I for? my hope is in thee. Blessed soul that can say, Lord, thou seest I desire nothing but thyself, (as Peter said, Lord, thou knowest I love thee) all the corners of my heart stand open in thy sight; thou seest if there be any other desire or expectation but to please thee, and if there be any such thing in me (for I see it not), I pray thee discover it to me, and through thy grace it shall lodge no longer. My heart is thine alone, it is consecrated to thee; and if any thing would profane thy temple, if it will not go forth by fair warning, let it be scourged out by thy rod, yea, any rod whatsoever it pleaseth thee to choose.”
My hope is in thee.] This holy man, seeing the vanity of all other expectations and pursuits of . men, at length runs to this; And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee: he finds nothing but moving sand every where else; but he finds this eternal Rock to be a strong foundation, as the Hebrew word, by which he is styled, doth signify. It is true, the union of the heart with God is made up by faith and love, but yet both these in this our present condition of our absence and distance from God, do act themselves much by the third grace, which is joined with them, and that is hope. For faith is conversant about things that are not seen, and in a great part that are not yet, but are to come; and the spirit of faith choosing things that are to come, is called hope. It is true, they are not so wholly deferred, as that they possess nothing, but yet the utmost they possess is but a pledge and earnest-penny, a small thing in respect of that eternal inheritance they look for. What they have bere, is of the same kind with what they expect; but it is but a little portion of it, the smiles and glances of their Father's face, foretastes of heaven,
which their souls are refreshed with; but these are but rare, and for a short time.
Hope is the great stock of believers, it is that which upholds them under all the faintings and sorrows of their mind in this life, and in their going through the valley and shadow of death. It is the helmet of their salvation, which, while they are looking over to eternity, beyond this present time, covers and keeps their head safe amidst all the darts that fly round about them. In the present discomfort and darkness of mind, and the saddest hours they meet with in this life, hope is that which keeps up the soul, and is that which David cheered up his soul with ", Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? and why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. And even in this point the children of the world have no great advantage of the children of God, as to the things of this life; for much of their satisfaction, such as it is, does hang, for the most part, on their hope; the happiest and richest of them do still piece it out with some further expectation, something they look for beyond what they have, and the expectation of that pleases them more than all their present possessions. But this great disadvantage they have, all their hopes are but heaps of delusions and lies, and either they die and obtain them not, or if they obtain them, yet they obtain them not, they are so far short of what they fancied and imagined of them beforehand. But the hope of the children of God, as it is without fail sure, so it is inconceivably full and satisfying, far beyond what the largest apprehension of any man is able to reach. Hope in God! what is wanting there?
This hope lodges only in the pure heart; it is a precious liquor that can only be kept in a clean vessel, and that which is not so, cannot receive it; but what it seems to receive, 'it corrupts and destroys.
c Psal. xlii. 5.