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12, &c.

abideth not, but is like the beasts that perish ; that SERM.

XLVI. they who look so like gods, and are called so, and are worshipped as so, yet must die like men, like Psal. xlix. men, yea like sheep shall be laid in the grave; since, as it is said of the king of Babylon in Isaiah, their pomp must be brought down to the grave, and 1s. xiv. II. the noise of their viols ; the worm shall be spread under them, and the worm shall cover them; seeing that a moment of time shall extinguish all their lustre, and still all that tumult about them; that they must be disrobed of their purple, and be clothed with corruption; that their so spacious and splendid palaces must soon be exchanged for close darksome coffins; that both their own breath, and the breath of them who now applaud them, must be stopped ; that they who now bow to them, may presently trample on them; and they, who to-day trembled at their presence, may the morrow scornfully insult upon their memory: Is this the man (will they say, Is. xiv. 16. as they did of that great king) who made the earth to tremble; that did shake kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the kingdoms thereof? Since this is the fate of the greatest and most glorious among men, what reason can there be to admire their condition, to prize such vain and shortlived preeminences ? For who can account it a great happiness to be styled and respected as a prince, to enjoy all the

prerogatives of highest dignity for a day or two; then being obliged to descend into a sordid and despicable estate? Who values the fortune of him that is brought forth upon the stage to act the part of a prince; though he be attired there, and attended as such, hath all the garb and ceremony, the ensigns

powers and

SER M. and appertenances of majesty about him; speaks and XLVI. behaves himself imperiously, is flattered and wor

shipped accordingly; yet who in his heart doth adore this idol, doth admire this mockery of greatness? Why not? Because after an hour or two the play is over, and this man's reign is done. And what great difference is there between this and the greatest worldly state ? between Alexander in the

history, and Alexander on the stage? Are not (in Psal. xc.

the Psalmists account) all our years spent as a tale that is told, or as a fable that is acted ? This in comparison of that, what is it at most, but telling the same story, acting the same part a few times over? What are a few years more than a few hours repeated not very often ? not so often as to make

any considerable difference : so a great emperor reAnton. iv. flected; Slapépes tpiņuepos Tpeyepovíov; What, said

he, doth the age of an infant, dying within three days, differ from that of Nestor, who lived three

ages of men ? since both shall be past and ended ; Sen. Ep.

both then meet, and thereby become equal; since, considering the immense time that runs on, and how little a part thereof any of us takes up, (juvenes et senes in æquo sumus,) we are all alike young and old, as a drop and a pint bottle in compare to the ocean are in a sort equal, that is, both altogether inconsiderabled. Quid enim diu est, ubi finis est? saith St. Austin : what can be long that shall be ended? which coming to that pass is as if it never had been? Since then upon this account (upon worldly accounts I speak all this; and excepting that dignity and power may be talents bestowed by God,


d Mihi ne diuturnum quidem quidquam videtur, in quo est ali. quid extremum, &c. Cic. de Senect.

xcix. 24.

or advantages to serve God, and promote the good of SERM. men ; excepting also the relation persons justly in- XLVI. stated in them bear to God, as his deputies and ministers; in which respects much reverence is due to their persons, much value to their places; even the more, by how much less their present outward estate is considerable, and because at present they receive so slender a reward for all their cares and pains employed in the discharge of their offices; this I interpose to prevent mistake, lest our discourse should seem to disparage or detract from the reverence due to persons in eminent place. But since, under this caution) all worldly power and glory appear so little valuable, the consideration hereof may avail to moderate our affections about them, to quell all ambitious desires of them, and all vain complacencies in them. For why should we so eagerly seek and pursue such empty shadows, which if we catch, we in effect catch nothing; and whatever it is, doth presently slip out of our hands ? Why do we please ourselves in such evanid dreams? Is it not much better to rest quiet and content in any station wherein God hath placed us, than to trouble ourselves and others in climbing higher to a precipice, where we can hardly stand upright, and whence we shall certainly tumble down into the grave ? This consideration is also a remedy proper to remove all regret and envy grounded upon such regards. For why, though suppose men of small worth or virtue should flourish in honour and power, shall we repine thereat ? Is it not as if one should envy to a butterfly its gaudy wings, to a tulip its beautiful colours, to the grass its pleasant verdure ; that grass, to which in this Psalm we are compared;

Ant. iy.

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SERM. which in the morning flourisheth and groweth up, XLVI.

in the evening is cut down and withereth? I may Ps. xc. 6. say of this discourse with the philosopher, SWTIKÒV

μεν, όμως δε ανυτικόν βοήθημα, it is a homely remedy, (there may be divers better ones,) yet hath its effi

cacy; for David himself made use thereof more than Ps. xlix. 16. once : Be not, saith he, afraid, or troubled, when

one is made rich, when the glory of his house is in

creased; for when he dieth, he shall carry nothing Psal. Ixxiii. away ; his glory shall not descend with him. I *xxvii. 1. was, saith he again, envious at the foolish, when

I saw the prosperity of the wicked; but I went into the sanctuary, then understood I their end; surely thou didst set them in slippery placeshow are they brought into desolation as in a moment ! Thus considering the lubricity and transitoriness of that prosperity, which foolish and wicked men enjoyed, did serve to cure that envious distemper which began to affect the good man's heart.

2. But let us descend from dignity and power (that is, from names and shows) to somewhat seeming more real and substantial, to riches; that great and general idol, the most devoutly adored that ever any hath been in the world; which hath a temple almost in every house, an altar in every heart; to the gaining of which most of the thoughts, most of the labours of men immediately tend ; in the possession of which men commonly deem the greatest happiness doth consist. But this consideration we

discourse about will easily discover, that even this, 1 Cor. vii. as all other idols, is nothing in the world, nothing

true and solid; will, I say, justify that advice, and Prov. xxiii. verify that assertion of the Wise Man: Labour not for riches ; wilt thou set thy heart upon

that which

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is not? it, well applied, will pluck down the high SERM.

XLVI. places reared to this great idol of clay in men's hearts; will confute the common conceits and phrases, which so beatify wealth ; shewing that whoever dotes thereon is more truly and properly styled a miserable man, than a happy or blessed one: for is he not in-oxßos, deed miserable, who makes lies his refuge, who con-pro divite. fides in that which will deceive and disappoint him ? Hab. ii. 9. The prophet assures us so: Woe, saith the prophet Habakkuk, woe be to him who coveteth an evil covetousness to his house; that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil. Men, he implies, imagine by getting riches, they have secured and raised themselves above the reach of all mischief: but ye see it was in the prophet's judgment a woful mistake. St. Paul doth warn men, very emphatically, not to hope énè Thoútou aon-1 Tim. vi. hóryti, in the uncertainty, or obscurity, of riches; intimating, that to trust in them, is to trust in darkness itself; in that wherein we can discern nothing; in we know not what. They are, we cannot but observe, subject to an infinity of chances, many of them obvious and notorious ; more of them secret and unaccountable. They make, the Wise Man tells us, Prov. xxiii. themselves wings, (they need, it seems, no help for that,) and fly away like as an eagle toward heaven, (quite out of sight, and beyond our reach, they of their own accord do swiftly fly away :) however, should they be disposed to stay with us, we must fly from them; were they inseparably affixed to this life, yet must they together with that be severed from us; as we came naked of them into this world, so naked shall we return: As he came, saith the Job i. 21. Preacher, so shall he go; and what profit (then) 1 Tim. vi.7.

Beatus, &c.


xxvii. 19.

Eccl. v. 21.

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