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Whilst we are encompassed with the delights of this world, our minds are often not ferious enough to admit of the proper impressions of religion. And if at any time any good thoughts come into our minds, we are willing and defirous to get rid of them again, by company, or diverfion, or vain ideas of our own excellencies and perfections. And thus we shall be apt to fool away our lives, in perpetual vanity and impertinence; in rolling about from one vanity to another, and shall never humble ourselves as we ought to do, till we are forced to it by some woeful experience..
But now, to bring down such a spirit of vanity and pride, there is nothing more proper and conducive, than the frequent remembrance of the days of darkness.
If therefore, together with thofe gay ideas that pofless our minds, we would every now and then mingle the confideration of our mortality; this would foon reduce our squandered thoughts, and make us serious and humble, and capable of good impressions.
As for instance, When in his night thoughts a man is priding himself in the pomp and splendor of his outward condi, tion, let him think thus with himself: Alas, within a little while, this bed, which is now as gay and as foft, as the deep and the fins it entertains, must be my deathbed; here I must lie a languishing fad corps, which nothing in all this world can help or ease. And when at length I have groaned away my fleeting breath, I must be removed from all my company and attendance, into a dark, lonely, and defolate hole of earth, where all my present pomp must expire, and be overcast with the shadow of death.
. Again; When he is entertaining his vanity, with his beauty, his wit, or his rich attire, let him give way to such reflections as these : Alas, fond soul, all these gay objects of thy pride must ere long convert to rotterness and corruption ; that forehead must be bedewed with clammy sweats; those sprightly eyes must wax as dim as a sullied mirror; that charming voice must grow as weak as the faint echoes of a diftant valley; and all those lilies and roses on thy cheeks muft wither into the paleness of death, and Throwd themselves in the horrors of the grave.
Again; When he hath been entertaining himself, with mirth, or sport, or luxury; let him go down into the charnel house, and there survey a while the numerous trophies of victorious death : In these ghaftly mirrors, thou beholdest the true resemblance of thy future condition: Forty years ago, that skull was covered like thine with comely locks; those empty holes were filled with eyes, that looked as charmingly as thine; those hollow pits were blanched with cheeks, that were as smooth and amiable as thine; that grinning mouth did sinile as gracefully, and speak as fluently as thine; and a few days hence, thou must be rotting into juft such another fpectacle : And forty years hence perhaps here may thy naked ribs be found mingled with these scattered bones ; and then should another take up thy bald skull, as thou dost this, he will find it drest in all the self-fame horrors of this death's head; with its nose funk, its jaws gaping, its mouth grinning, and worms crawling in those empty holes wherein now thy eyes roll to and fro in amorous glances; and a toad perhaps engendering in that brain, that is now so full of sprightly thoughts and gay ideas.
If with these, or such like confiderations of our mortality, we would now and then entertain ourselves; they would by degrees wear off the levity and vanity of our minds, and compose us into such a degree of seriousness, as is necessary to qualify us for thote divine and religious confiderations, without which we can never expect either to be made good men here, or happy men hereafter. A
IIIÓ. MOTIVE to induce us to the remembrance of our mortality is, that it is highly necessary in order to forewarn our minds against the terrors of death.
Whilst we abound with the enjoyments of this life, we are apt to put far from us the evil day, and to promise ourselves many years of ease and satisfaction in this world. So that death generally steals upon us before we are aware, and surprizeth us in the midst of a deep security; and after we have struggled with him a few mom ments to no purpose, he robs us of our lives and our happiness together. . And how terrible must death be, when it approaches a man under such circumftances! When the deluded wretch hath been just speaking peace to himself, and faying with the rich fool in the gospel, Soul, take thy rest and ease, thou hast goods laid up for many years, and many years to poffess and enjoy them ;for death now to pronounce that fatal sentence, Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be taken from thee's now, when he thought all was fafe, and concluded himself secure of a long life and happiness ; now, before he hath given himself the leisure to think of his dying hour, or to fortify his heart with any wise or good thoughts, against the terrors of this terrible one, that is now just brandishing his dårt at his breasts--how must it needs blank, and amaze, and confound him? And what a trembling horror must * VOL. IV. ' D d