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take him not for our best treasure. We do in our SERM. bodies sojourn from the Lord, as St. Paul saith; but in our spirits we may and should be ever pre- 2 Cor. v. 6. sent, ever conversant with him; contemplating him with an eye of faith, fastening our love upon him, reposing our confidence in him, directing our prayers and thanksgivings to him; meditating upon his good laws, his gracious promises, his holy life, and his merciful performances for us. We should not, by fixing our hearts and desires upon earthly things, (upon the vain delights, the sordid interests, the fallacious and empty glories, the sinful enjoyments here,) nor by a dull and careless neglect of heavenly things, avert, estrange, or separate ourselves wholly from him. No, sursum corda, let us, unloosing our hearts from these things, and with them soaring upward, follow and adhere to our Lord; so shall we anticipate that blessed future state, so shall we assure to ourselves the possession of heaven, so here enjoying our Lord in affection, we shall hereafter obtain a perfect fruition of his glorious and blissful presence; the which God of his mercy by his grace vouchsafe us, through the same our ever blessed Saviour; to whom be for ever all glory and praise. Amen.
O God the King of glory, who hast exalted thine own Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven; we beseech thee leave us not comfortless, but send thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us to the same place, whither our Saviour Christ is gone before; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Eccles. i. 13.
Eccles. i. 8. ii. 11.
From thence he shall come to judge the Duick and the Dead.
11. ix. 11. xi. 6.
THESE words are the result of a serious contemXXXII. plation upon the state of human affairs and common occurrences in this world: the Royal Philosopher having, as he telleth us, given his heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that were done under heaven; what was the proper nature, what the just price of each thing; what real benefit or solid comfort each did afford; how every person did fare in the pursuit and success of his designs; did, after full examination and careful balancing all things resolve upon such conclusions as these:
That no kind of undertaking here did in effect yield any considerable profit or complete satisfaction, but all in the issue did prove vain and vexatious.
That no man from his care and industry, in any course of life, could promise himself any certain success, or reap answerable reward.
THE REASONABLENESS AND EQUITY OF A
ECCLES. iii. 17.
I said in my heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked.
That although between wisdom and folly (or be- SERM. tween goodness and wickedness) there is some in- XXXII. trinsic difference of worth, (one excelling the other, Eccles. ii. as light doth excel darkness,) yet, as to external advantages, and as to final event here, there is no great odds discernible; for that events (prosperous Eccles. ii. and adverse) did appear to fall out, not according ix. 1, 11. to the qualifications or to the practices of men, but indifferently, according to the swinge of time and chance; and for that death and oblivion alike do seize upon all; so that apparently, in that respect, a man hath no preeminence over a beast.
15. vii. 15.
Eccles. it. 16. iii. 19.
24. iii. 12.
That in common life nothing doth appear better, Eccles. ii. than for a man, with the best advantage he can, to v. 18. viii. enjoy ordinary sensible delights and comforts, which 15. xi. 10. his condition doth afford.
2, 3. ii. 17,
That in regard to the present things here, life Eccles. iv. were not desirable to any man, the inconveniences 18. and troubles thereof outweighing its benefits; so that even the wisest, greatest, and happiest persons (such as he himself was) had cause to hate life, and all their labour which they had taken under the
11. viii. 17.
That the mind and affection of God toward men Eccles. iii. are very reserved; the course of Providence very abstruse, the reason of events unsearchable to the wit or study of men; so that we can hardly from appearances here descry any conspicuous marks of God's favour or his displeasure.
From these observations, as from so many arguments, he doth both here and otherwhere in several places of this book infer, that there shall be a divine Eccles. xi. judgment, passing upon all men, both righteous and 9. xii. 14. wicked; whereby these seeming incongruities in the 12. vii. 18.
v. 8. viii.
SERM. providential administration of things shall be salved; XXXII. and in regard whereto our present opinions of things may be rectified: this he interposeth here; I said in my heart, (that is, by the consideration of things I was persuaded,) that God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: this he ever now and then toucheth, as incident to his meditations: this he in the close of all proposeth as the grand inducement to piety, and obedience to God's commandments; Eccles. xii. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.
This judgment he expresseth indefinitely, so as not to determine the kind or time thereof; and as to the absolute force of his words, it may signify the decree of God, to reward or punish men here in this life, according to their deserts, the which in holy scripture is commonly styled God's judgment; but the force of his arguments (or at least of some of them) plainly doth infer a future judgment after death; and so therefore I shall take his sense to be, grounding thereon this observation; That from a wise consideration of human affairs, and obvious events here, we may collect the reasonableness, the equity, the expediency, the moral or prudential necessity of a future judgment, according to which men shall receive due recompenses, answerable to their demeanour in this life: this observation it shall be my endeavour by God's help to declare, and prove by arguments deduced from the reason and nature of things.
First then, I say, it is reasonable and equal, that there should be a future judgment: this will appear upon many accounts.
3, 4. ii. 17.
1. Seeing all men come hither without any know- SERM. ledge or choice, having their life, as it were, obtruded on them; and seeing ordinarily (according to the general complaints of men) the pains of this life do overbalance its pleasures; so that it seemeth, in regard to what men find here, a punishment to be born; it seemeth also thence equal, that men Eccles. iv. should be put into a capacity, upon their good be-Job iii. 3. haviour in this troublesome state, of a better state hereafter, in compensation for what they endure &c. here; otherwise God might seem not to have dealt fairly with his creatures; and we might have some colour to expostulate with Job; Wherefore is light Job iii. 20, given to him that is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul? Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
Jer. xx. 14,
2. Seeing man is endued with a free choice and power over his actions, and thence by a good or bad use thereof is capable of deserving well or ill, it is just that a respective difference be made, according to due estimation; and that men answerably should be proceeded with either here or hereafter, reaping Job iv. 8. the fruits of what they voluntarily did sow. There 8. is a natural relation between merits and rewards, Jer. xxxii. which must come under taxation, and find effect, otherwise there would be no such thing as justice and injustice in the world.
3. Seeing there is a natural subordination of man to God, as of a creature to his maker, as of a subject
a Vitam non mehercule quisquam accepisset, nisi daretur insciis. Sen. ad Marc. 22.
Nemini contigit impune nasci. Ibid. 15.