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that they be stronger than those whom they are to encounter :- and yet, afterwards, in the ninth chapter, he observes, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong ;--neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor favour to men of skill ;-but time and chance happen to them all. That there are secret workings in human affairs, which over-rule all human contriyance, and counterplot the wisest of our councils, in so strange and unexpected a manner, as to cast a damp upon our best schemes and warmest endeay. ours.
And then, for those accidents to which our persons are as liable as our labours, he observes these three things ;---first, The natural infirmities of our bodies --which alternately lay us open to the sad changes of pain and sickness ; which, in the fifth chapter, he styles wrath and sorrow ; under which, when a man lies languishing, none of his worldly enjoyments will signify much-Like one that singeth songs with a heavy heart, neither mirth,--nor power,—nor riches, shall afford him ease ;--nor will all their force be able so to stay the stroke of nature, but that he shall be cut off in the midst “ of his days, and then all his thoughts perish.”Or else --what is no uncommon spectacle, in the midst of all his luxury, he may waste away the greatest part of his life, with much weariness and anguish ; and, with the long torture of an unrelenting disease, he may wish himself to go down into the grave, and to be set at liberty from all his possessions and all his misery, at the same time.
2dly, If it be supposed--that by the strength of spirits, and the natural cheerfulness of a man's tem
per, he should escape these, “ and live many years “and rejoice in them all,"--which is not the lot of many,--yet," he must remember the days of dark. “ ness ; '--that is,--they who devote themselves to a perpetual round of mirth and pleasure, cannot so manage matters as to avoid the thoughts of their future state, and the anxiety about what shall become of them hereafter, when they are to depart out of this world ;-that they cannot so crowd their heads, and fill up their time with other matters--but that the remembrance of this will sometimes be uppermostz--and thrust itself upon their minds whenever they are retired and serious.--And as this will naturally present to them a dark prospect of their future happiness, it must, at the same time, prove no small damp and allay to what they would enjoy at present.
But, in the third place, suppose a man should be able to avoid sickness, and to put the trouble of these thoughts likewise far from him—yet there is something else which he cannot possibly decline ; old age will unavoidably steal upon him, with all the infirmities of it,--when (as he expresses it)" the
grinders shall be few, and appetite ceases; when « those who look out of the windows shall be darksened, and the keepers of the house shall trem" ble ;">when a man shall become a burden to himself, and to his friends ;- When, perhaps, those of his nearest relations, whom he hath most obliged by kindness, shall think it time for him to depart, to creep off the stage, and make room for the succeeding generations.
And then, after a little funeral pomp of mournere going about the streets a man shall be buried out of the way, and in a year or two he as much forgotten as if he had never existed. For there is no remembrance (says he) of the wise more than the fool ; -seeing that which now is, in the days to come, shall be forgotten ; every day producing something which seems new and strange, to take up mens talk and wonder, and to drown the memory of former persons and actions.
And I appeal to any rational man, whether these are not some of the most material reflections about human affairs,—which occur to every one who gives himself the least leisure to think about them ?Now, from all these premises put together, Solomon infers this short conclusion in the text,—That to “ fear God, and keep his commandments, is the 66 whole duty of man ;'--that, to be serious in the matter of religion, and careful about our future state, is that which, after all our other experiments, will be found to be our chief happiness, our greatest interest-our greatest wisdom, -and that which most of all deserves our care and application.-- This must ever be the last result, and the upshot of every wise man's observations upon all these transitory things, and upon the vanity of their several pretences to our well-being ;-and we may depend upon it as an everlasting truth, that we can never find what we seek for in any other course, or any other object, but this one ;-and the more we know and think, and the more experience we have of the world, and of ourselves, the more we are convinced of this truth, and led back by it to rest our souls upon that God from whence we came.-Every consideration upon the life of man tends to engage us to this point, to be in earnest in the concernment
of religion ; to love and fear God ;-to provide for our true interest,_and do ourselves the most effectual service,-by devoting ourselves to him,-and always thinking of him, as he is the true and final happiness of a reasonable and immortal spirit.
And indeed one would think it next to impossible,did not the commonness of the thing take off from the wonder,—that a man who thinks at all, should let his whole life be a contradiction to such obvious reflections.
The vanity and emptiness of worldly goods and enjoyments,--the shortness and uncertainty of life, -the unalterable event hanging over our heads,“ That in a few days, we must all of us go to that
place from whence we shall not return;" the certainty of this, the uncertainty of the time when, the immortality of the soul,—the doubtful and momentous issues of eternity,--the terrors of damnation, and the glorious things which are spoken of the city of God, are meditations so obvious, and so naturally check and block up a man's way ; are so very interesting, and, above all, so unavoidable, that it is astonishing how it was possible, at any time, for mortal man to have his head full of any thing. else !--And yet, was the same person to take a view of the state of the world,--how slight an observation would convince him, that the wonder lay, in fact, on the other side ;--and that, as wisely as we all discourse, and philosophize de contemptu mundi & fuga sæculig--yet, for one who really acts in the world.--consistent with his own reflections upon it, that there are multitudes who seem to take aim at nothing higher ;-and, as empty a thing as it is, - are so dazzled with it, as to think it meet to build tabernacles of rest upon it and say, “ It is good to " be here.”-Whether, as an able inquirer into this paradox-guesses ;-whether it is, that men do not heartily believe such a thing as a future state of happiness and misery ;-or if they do,—that they do not actually and seriously consider it-but suffer it to lie dormant and inactive within thein, and so are as little affected with it as if, in truth, they believed it not ;-or whether they look upon through that end of the perspective which represents it as afar off, and so are more forcibly drawn by the nearer, though the lesser, loadstone ?-whether these, or whatever other cause may be assigned for it, the obo servation is incontestable, That the bulk of mankind, in passing through this vale of misery,--use it not as a well to refresh and allay,but fully to quench and satisfy their thirst ;-minding or (as the apostle says) relishing earthly things, making them the end and sum total of their desires and wishes ;-and, in one word,-loving this worldjust as they are commanded to love God ; that is, _" with all their heart, with all their soul, with « all their mind and strength.” But this is not the strangest part of this paradox. A man shall not only lean and rest upon the world with his whole stress, but, in many instances, shall live notoriously bad and vitious; when he is reproved, he shall seem convinced ; when he is observed, he shall be ashamed; when he pursues his sin, he will do it in the dark ; and when he has done it, shall even be dissatisfied with himself: yet still, this shall produce no alteration in his conduct. Tell him he shall one day die ; or bring the event still nearer, and shew, that, according to the course of nature, he cannot