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They who understand the original, tell us; that the Hebrew verb, which our interpreters translate into number, hath a very large signification, (as that language which is contracted into fewest words extends many words to a marvellous latitude of sense), and that as well as to number, it signifies to neigh, and to ponder, and, thirdly, to order, and appoint; so that to number, or any other single word, I believe, in any other tongue, is far from expressing to the full the sense of that Hebrew verb; except we could find a word that might signify to reckon to eramine, and consider the nature and the use of every unit in that reckoning, and then to order and appoint it accordingly. And no doubt it was such a numbering, with that circumstance of deliberation, and the other of direction and determination, which Moses here prescribed; and so the duty may seem larger, and at first more full of difficulty, than it did; and that we are not to rest merely in the arithmetical sense of it. But as the setting out is oftentimes more troublesome than the whole journey, and the first disposal of the mind to sobriety and virtue, is more difficult than any progress after in it; so if we but really and severely execute this injunction in the usual and vulgar acceptation

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of the word, no more but “number our days,” by the rules of arithmetic, we should make a progress in the other acceptances too; and we should find evident comfort and benefit from the fruit we should gather from each of those branches. Without diminishing or lessening the value of a long life, with the meditation that a thousand years are but as yesterday in His sight who made the years and the days; or that not only the longest life that ever any man hath lived, but even the life that the world hath lived since the creation, is but a moment in comparison of that eternity which must be either the reward or punishment of the actions of our life, how short soever it is: if we did but so “number our days” as to consider that we experimentally find the shortness of them; if we did but number the days we have lived, and by that pregnant evidence of our memory, how soon they are gone, and how insensibly, conclude how very soon so much more time, which possibly would bring us to the utmost of Moses's account of eighty years, will likewise pass away; we could not think the most sure and infallible purchase of twenty or thirty years of life, and the unquestionable fruition of the most heightened pleasures the appetite or fancy can imagine during that term, without any abatement by the interposition of the infirmities and weakness of nature, or the interruption of accidents, so near worth the consenting to any thing that may impair the conscience, or disturb the peace or quiet of the mind, that it were a valuable consideration for the interruption of a night's rest, for the parting with six hours of our sleep; which, though any man could spare, is so much time of our least faultiness: I say, it were not possible seriously to make this estimate in our thoughts, to revolve the uncertainty and brevity of our life, but we should also take an account of ourselves, weigh and ponder the expense of every article of this short precious time, for which we must make so large and exact an account to Him that hath trusted us with it; we should not but (which is no more than the original verb for which we read number signifies) do, what one who we are not willing to believe as good a Christian as ourselves long since advised us, “pretium tempori ponere, diem asstimare,” consider that every hour is, worth at least a good thought, a good wish, a good endeavour; that it is the talent we are trusted with to use, employ, and to improve: if we hide this talent in the

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dark, that the world cannot see any fruit of it, or such fruit as we ourselves are afraid to see; if we bury it in the earth, spend it in worldly and sensual designs and attempts; we are those ungrateful and unthrifty stewards, who must expiate this breach of trust in endless torments. And if we were gotten thus far, we could not but, in spite of the most depraved faculty of our understanding, of the most perverse inclination of our appetite, or act of our will, order and dispose of this time right; which is the full extent of the word. So that in truth, if we do not weigh and consider to what end this life is given to us, and thereupon order and dispose it right, pretend what we will to the arithmetic, we do not, we cannot so much as number our days in the narrowest and most limited signification. It is a sharp meditation and animadversion of one, whose writings are an honour to our nation, that the incessant and sabbathless pursuit of a man's fortune and interest (although therein we could refrain from doing injuries or using evil arts) leaves not the tribute of our time which we owe to God, who demandeth we see a tenth of our substance, and a seventh (which is more strict) of our time; and (says he) it is to small purpose to have an

erected face toward Heaven, and a grovelling spirit upon earth. If they who please themselves with believing that they spend their time the least amiss; who have so far the negative practice of conscience, that they abstain from acts of inhumanity and injustice, and avoid doing harm to any body; nay, if they make such a progress into the active part of conscience, as to delight in the civil acts of humanity, and the diffusive acts of charity: I say, if this handful of the world that is thus innocent (and what dismal account must the other part take of themselves then) would seriously examine and revolve the expense of their own time, they would even wonder at the little good they find in themselves, and not be able to tell to the well-spending of what part of their time those good inclinations are to -be imputed. We think it a commendable thing (and value ourselves much upon it) to take great pains, to use much industry, to make ourselves fine gentlemen, to get languages, to learn arts; it may be some for which we are the worse: and we acknowledge, that that is not to be done, nay, any exercise of the body to be learned, or the most mechanic trade, without great pains and industry; but to make ourselves Christians,

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