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sent sensualities, upon the score of our life's short- SERM.
XLVI. ness and uncertainty ; inculcating such maxims as these :
-Brevis est hic fructus homullis;
-post mortem nulla voluptas : Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die ; 1 Cor. xv. because our life is short, let us make the most ad-32. vantageous use thereof we canf; because death is uncertain, let us prevent its surprisal, and be aforehand with it, enjoying somewhat, before it snatches all from us. The author of Wisdom ob-Sap. ii. J. served, and thus represents these men's discourse: Our life is short and tedious ; and in the death of a man there is no remedy ; neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave :Come on therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are present; let us speedily use the creatures like as in youth; let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments; and let no flower of the spring pass by us; let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they be withered ; let none of us go without his part of voluptuousness-for this is our portion, and our lot is this. Thus, and no wonder, have some men, conceiving themselves beasts, resolved to live as such; renouncing all sober care becoming men, and drowning their reason in brutish sensualities; yet no question, the very same reflection, that this life would soon pass away, and that death might speedily attack them, did not a little quash their mirth, and damp their pleasure. To think, that this perhaps might be the last ban-'
SERM. quet they should taste of; that they should themXLVI.
selves shortly become the feast of worms and serpents, could not but somewhat spoil the gust of their highest delicacies, and disturb the sport of
their loudest jovialties; but in Job's expression, Job xx. 14. make the meat in their bowels to turn, and be as
the gall of asps within them. Those customary enjoyments did so enamour them of sensual delight, that they could not without pungent regret imagine a necessity of soon for ever parting with them; and so their very pleasure was by this thought made dis
tasteful and imbittered to them. So did the Wise Ecclus. xli. Man observe: O death, how bitter is the remem
brance of thee to a man that liveth at rest in his possessions ; unto the man that hath nothing to vex him; and that hath prosperity in all things ; Yea, adds he, unto him, that is yet able to receive meat ! And how bitter then must the remembrance thereof be to him, who walloweth in all kind of corporal satisfaction and delight; that placeth all his happiness in sensual enjoyment! However, as to us, who are better instructed and affected; who know and believe a future state; the consideration, that the
time of enjoying these delights will soon be over; Eccles. vii. that this world's jollity is but like the crackling of
thorns under a pot, (which yields a brisk sound, and a cheerful blaze, but heats little, and instantly passes away ;) that they leave no good fruits behind them, but do only corrupt and enervate our minds; war against and hurt our souls; tempt us to sin, and involve us in guilt; that therefore Solo
mon was surely in the right, when he said of laughEccl. ii. 2. ter, that it is mad; and of mirth, what doeth it?
(that is, that the highest of these delights are very
irrational impertinences ;) and of intemperance, that, SERM at the last, it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth XLVI. like an adder; with us, I say, who reflect thus, Prov. xxiii. that (mpóokacipos ápaprias árónavors) enjoyment of Heb. xi. 25. sinful pleasure for a season cannot obtain much esteem and love; but will rather, I hope, be despised and abhorred by us. I will add only,
4. Concerning secular wisdom and knowledge ; Aoxu your in the which men do also commonly with great ear-reactàs hòs
σοφία θαυ- . nestness and ambition seek after, as the most spe
νάς έχειν cious ornament, and pure content of their mind ; nad To los
Beim. Arist. this consideration doth also detect the just value Eth. x. 7. thereof; so as to allay intemperate ardour toward it, pride and conceitedness upon the having or seeming to have it, envy and emulation about it. For imagine, if you please, a man accomplished with all varieties of learning commendable, able to recount all the stories that have been ever written, or the deeds acted, since the world's beginning; to understand, or with the most delightful fluency and elegancy to speak all the languages, that have at any time been in use among the sons of men; skilful in twisting and untwisting all kinds of subtilties; versed in all sorts of natural experiments, and ready to assign plausible conjectures about the causes of them; studied in all books whatever, and in all monuments of antiquity; deeply knowing in all the mysteries of art, or science, or policy, such as have ever been devised by human wit, or study, or observation ; yet all this, such is the pity, he must be forced presently to abandon; all the use he could make of all his notions, the pleasure he might find in them, the reputation accruing to him from them, must at that fatal minute vanish; his breath goeth Ps. cxlvi. 4.
BARROW, VOL. III.
SERM. forth, he returneth to his earth, in that very day XLVI. his thoughts perish. There is no work, nor deEccl. ix. 10. vice, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, Psal. xlix. whither he goeth. It is seen, saith the Psalm
ist, seen indeed every day, and observed by all,
that wise men die, likewise the fool and brutish Ecclsid: 14, person perisheth ; one event happeneth to them
both ; there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever ; (both die alike, both alike are forgotten ;) as the wisest man himself did (not without some distaste) observe and complain. All our subtile conceits and nice criticisms, all our fine inventions and goodly speculations, shall be swallowed up either in the utter darkness, or in the clearer light, of the future state. One potion of that
Lethean cup (which we must all take down upon Ps.lxxxviii. our entrance into that land of forgetfulness) will
probably drown the memory, deface the shape of all those ideas, with which we have here stuffed our mindss: however they are not like to be of use to us in that new, so different, state; where none of our languages are spoken; none of our experience will suit; where all things have quite another face unknown, unthought of by us; where Aristotle and Varro shall appear mere idiots; Demosthenes and Cicero shall become very infants; the wisest and eloquentest Greeks will prove senseless and dumb barbarians; where all our authors shall have no authority; where we must all go fresh to school again; must unlearn, perhaps, what in these misty regions we thought ourselves best to know, and begin to
8 Την δ' Ισοκράτους διατριβήν επισκώπτων, γηράν φησι παρ' αυτό τους μαθητάς, ως έν άδου χρησομένους ταϊς τέχναις, και δίκας ερούντας. Cato Sen. apud Plut. p. 641. edit. Steph.
learn what we not once ever dreamed of. Doth SERM.
XLVI. therefore, I pray you, so transitory and fruitless a good (for itself I mean, and excepting our duty to God, or the reasonable diligence we are bound to use in our calling) deserve such anxious desire, or so restless toil; so careful attention of mind, or assiduous pain of body about it? doth it become us to contend, or emulate so much about it? Above all, do we not most unreasonably, and against the nature of the thing itself we pretend to, (that is, ignorantly and foolishly,) if we are proud and conceited, much value ourselves or contemn others, in respect thereto ? Solomon, the most experienced in this matter, and best able to judge thereof, (he that gave his heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that had been done under heaven, and this with extreme success; even he,) passeth the same sentence of vanity, vexation, and unprofitableness, upon this, as upon all other subcelestial things. True, he commends wisdom as an excellent and useful thing comparatively; exceeding folly, so aut doữv ição far as light exceedeth darkness ; but since light 765 ygépitself is not permanent, but must give way to dark-Ecci.
Eccl. ii. 15. ness, the difference soon vanished, and his opinion thereof abated; considering, that as it happened to the fool, so it happened to him, he breaks into that expostulation; And why then was I more wise? to what purpose was such a distinction made, that signified in effect so little? And indeed the testimony of this great personage may serve for a good epilogue to all this discourse, discovering sufficiently the slender worth of all earthly things: seeing he, that had given himself industriously to experiment the worth of all things - here below, to sound the