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of his wits, only with this sad difference that he knows better what he does. For to them who believe another life after this, an eternal state of happiness or misery in another world (which is but a reasonable postulatum or demand among Christians), there is nothing in mathematics more demonstrable than the folly of wicked men; for it is not a clearer and more evident principle that the whole is greater than a part, than that eternity and the concernments of it are to be preferred before time.
I will therefore put the matter into a temporal case, that wicked men who understand anything of the rules and principles of worldly wisdom may see the imprudence of an irreligious and sinful course, and be convinced that this their way is their folly, even themselves being judges.
Is that man wise, as to his body and his health, who only clothes his hands, but leaves his whole body naked? who provides only against the toothache, and neglects whole troops of mortal diseases that are ready to rush in upon him? Just thus does he who takes care only for this vile body, but neglects his precious and immortal soul, who is very solicitous to prevent small and temporal inconveniences, but takes no care to escape the damnation of hell.
Is he a prudent man, as to his temporal estate, that lays designs only for a day, without any prospect to, or provision for the remaining part of his life? Even so does he that provides for the short time of this life, but takes no care for all eternity, which is to be wise for a moment, but a fool for ever, and to act as untowardly and as crossly to the reason of things as can be imagined, to regard time as if it were eternity, and to neglect eternity as if it were but a short time.
Do we count him a wise man, who is wise in anything but in his own proper profession and employment, wise for everybody but himself, who is ingenious to contrive his own misery and to do himself a mischief, but is dull and stupid as to the
designing of any real benefit and advantage to himself? Such a one is he who is ingenious in his calling, but a bad Christian; for Christianity is more our proper calling and profession than the very trades we live upon; and such is every sinner, who is "wise to do evil, but to do good hath no understanding."
Is it wisdom in any man to neglect and disoblige him who is his best friend, and can be his sorest enemy? or with one weak troop to go out to meet him that comes against him with thousands of thousands? to fly a small danger and run upon a greater? Thus does every wicked man that neglects and contemns God, "who can save or destroy him;" who strives with his "Maker, and provoketh the Lord to jealousy," and with the small and inconsiderable forces of a man takes the field against the mighty God, the Lord of hosts; who "fears them that can kill the body, but after that have no more that they can do; but fears not him, who after he hath killed, can destroy both body and soul in hell;" and thus does he who for fear of anything in this world ventures to displease God, for in so doing he runs away from men, and "falls into the hands of the living God;" he flies from a temporal danger, and leaps into hell.
Is not he an imprudent man, who, in matters of greatest moment and concernment, neglects opportunities never to be retrieved; who, standing upon the shore, and seeing the tide making haste towards him apace, and that he hath but a few minutes to save himself, yet will lay himself to sleep there till the cruel sea rush in upon him and overwhelm him? And is he any better who trifles away this day of God's grace and patience, and foolishly adjourns the necessary work of repentance and the weighty business of religion to a dying hour?
And, to put an end to these questions, is he wise who hopes to attain the end without the means-nay, by means that are quite contrary to it? Such is every wicked man who hopes to be blessed hereafter without being holy here, and to be happy, that is, to find a pleasure in the enjoyment of God and
in the company of holy spirits by rendering himself as unsuitable and unlike to them as he can.
Wouldst thou, then, be truly wise? Be wise for thyself, wise for thy soul, wise for eternity-resolve upon a religious course of life" fear God, and depart from evil"-look beyond things present and sensible unto things which are not seen and are eternal-labour to secure the great interests of another world—and refer all the actions of this short and dying life to that state which will shortly begin but never have an end; and this will approve itself to be wisdom at the last, whatever the world judge of it now. For not that which is approved of men now, but what shall finally be approved by God, is true wisdom-that which is esteemed so by Him who is the fountain and original of all wisdom, the first rule and measure, the best and most competent judge of it.
This happiness shall be eternal; and, though this be but a circumstance and do not enter into the nature of our happiness, yet it is so material a one that all the felicities which heaven affords would be imperfect without it. It would strangely damp and allay all our joys to think that they should some time have an end; and the greater our happiness were, the greater trouble it would be to us to consider that it must have a period. It would make a man sorrowful indeed to think of leaving such vast possessions. Indeed, if the happiness of heaven were such as the joys of this world are, it were fit they should be as short, for after a little enjoyment, it would cloy us, and we should soon grow weary of it; but being so excellent, it would scarce be a happiness if it were not eternal. It would embitter the pleasures of heaven, as great as they are, to see to an end of them, though it were at never so great a distance; to consider that all this vast treasure of happiness
66 O VAST ETERNITY!"
would one day be exhausted, and that after so many years were past, we should be as poor and miserable again as we were once in this world. God hath so ordered things, that the vain and empty delights of this world should be temporary and transient, but that the great and substantial pleasures of the other world should be as lasting as they are excellent; for heaven, as it is an exceeding, so it is an eternal weight of glory. And this is that which crowns the joys of heaven, and banishes all fear and trouble from the minds of the blessed; and thus to be secured in the possession of our happiness is an unspeakable addition to it. For that which is eternal, as it shall never determine, so it can never be diminished; for to be diminished and to decay is to draw nearer to an end, but that which shall never have an end can never come nearer to it.
O vast eternity! how dost thou swallow up our thoughts and entertain us at once with delight and amazement? This is the very top and highest pitch of our happiness, upon which we may stand secure and look down with scorn upon all things here below; and how small and inconsiderable do they appear to us, compared with the vast and endless enjoyments of our future state? But oh, vain and foolish souls, that are so little concerned for eternity, that for the trifles of time, and "the pleasures of sin which are but for a season," can find in our hearts to forfeit an everlasting felicity! Blessed God! why hast thou prepared such a happiness for those who neither consider it, nor seek after it? "Why is such a price put into the hands of fools, who have no heart to make use of it;" who fondly choose to gratify their lusts, rather than to save their souls, and sottishly prefer the temporary enjoyments of sin before a blessed immortality?
Funeral Sermon for the Rev. Thomas Gouge.
[The reader is already acquainted with this good man's father,
Dr William Gouge.* The son was, until Bartholomew-Day, incumbent of St Sepulchre's, but his funeral sermon was preached in St Ann's, Blackfriars, where his venerable father had ministered for five and forty years. It is pleasant to know that the funeral sermon of such a man was preached by the Dean of Canterbury, and we cannot withhold from our readers the record of such large-hearted beneficence as marked this good man long before the days of home missions and benevolent societies.]
He was born at Bow, near Stratford, in the county of Middlesex, the 19th day of September 1605. He was bred at Eton School, and from thence chosen to King's College in Cambridge, being about twenty years of age, in the year 1626. After he had finished the course of his studies and taken his degrees, he left the university and his fellowship, being presented to the living of Colsden, near Croydon in Surrey, where he continued about two or three years, and from thence was removed to St Sepulchre's, in London, in the year 1638; and the year after, thinking fit to change his condition, matched into a very worthy and ancient family, marrying one of the daughters of Sir Robert Darcy.
Being thus settled in this large and populous parish, he did with great solicitude and pains discharge all the parts of a vigilant and faithful minister for about the space of twentyfour years; for besides his constant and weekly labour of preaching, he was very diligent and charitable in visiting the sick, and ministering not only spiritual counsel and comfort to them, but likewise liberal relief to the wants and necessities of those that were poor and destitute of means to help themselves in that condition. He did also every morning throughout the year catechise in the church, especially the poorer sort, who were generally most ignorant; and, to encourage them to come * Christian Classics, vol. i. p. 330.