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them up, and not using them, and still gathering, and all to no use, this is a madness: it is all one as if they were still in the mines under the ground, and the difference none, but in turmoiling pains in gathering, and tormenting care in keeping. But take the best view of them, supposing that they be used, that is, spent on family and retinue, why then, what hath the owner but the sight of them for himself? Out of all his dishes, he fills but one belly. Of all his fair houses and richly-furnished rooms, he lodges but in one at once. And if his great rent be needful for his great train or any other ways of expense, is it an advantage to need much? Or is he not rather poorer who needs five or six thousand pounds by year, than he that needs but one hundred ?
Of all the festivities of the world and delights of sense, the result is, laughter is mad; and mirth, and orchards, and music, these things pass away as a dream, and are still to begin again. And so gross and earthly and earthly are they, that for the beasts they may be a fit good, but for the divine, immortal soul, they A horse lying at ease in a fat pasture, may be compared with those that take delight in them.
Honour and esteem are yet vainer than those pleasures and riches that furnish them. Though they be nothing but wind, compared to solid soul delights, yet, as to nature, there is in them somewhat more real than in the fame of honour; which is no more, indeed, than an airy, imaginary thing, and hangs more on others than any thing else, and not only on persons above them, but even those below; especially that kind which the vanity of man is much taken with, all popular opinion, than which there is nothing more light and poor, and that is more despised by the elevated sort of natural spirits, a thing as unworthy as it is inconstant. No slavery like the affecting of vulgar esteem; it enthrals the mind to all sorts. Often the worthiest share least in it. worth is but sometimes honoured, but always envied. Eccl. iv. 4., Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. And with
See Eccl. ix. 11-15. True
whomsoever it is thou seekest to be esteemed, be it with the multitude, or more chiefly with the wiser and better sort, what a narrow thing is it at largest! How many nations know neither thee nor those who know thee!
Beyond all these things is inward worth, and even that natural wisdom, such as some minds have to a far more refined height than others. A man by it sees round about him, yea, and within himself. That Solomon grants to be an excellent thing, Eccl. iv., yet, presently finds the end of that perfection, ver. 16. That guards not from disasters and vexations; yea, there is in it an innate grief, amidst so many follies. Eccl. i. 18. In much wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow. Yea, give a man the confluence of all these, which is so rare, make him at once rich, and honourable, and healthful, and encompassed with all the delights of nature and art, and wise to make the best improvement of all they can well afford, (and there is much in that,) yet, there is an end of all these perfections. For there is quickly an end of himself who hath them; he dies, and that spoils all. Death breaks the strings, and that ends the music. And the highest of natural wisdom, which is the soul of all nature's advantages, that ends then, whether practical or political. In that day are all state projects and high thoughts laid low, if speculative. For, in spite of all sciences and knowledge of nature, a man goes out in the dark; and if thou art learned in many languages, one death silences all thy tongues at once. So says Solomon, Eccl. ii. 16., And how dieth the wise man? as the fool. Yea, suppose a man were not broken off, but continued still in the top of all these perfections; yea, imagine much more, the chiefest delights of sense that have ever been found out, more solid and certain knowledge of nature's secrets, all moral composure of spirit, the highest dominion, not only over men, but a deputed command over nature's frame, the course of all the heavens, and the affairs of all the earth, and that he was to abide in this estate; yet would he see an end of this perfection, that is, it would come short of
making him happy. It is an union with a It is an union with a Higher Good by that love that subjects all things to Him, that alone is the endless perfection: Thy commandment is exceeding broad.
You may think this a beaten subject, and possibly, that some other cases or questions were fitter for Christians. I wish it were more needless. But Oh, the deceitfulness of our hearts! Even such as have shut out the vanities of this world at the fore-gate, let them in again, or some part of them at least, at the postern. Few hearts clearly come off untied from all, but are still lagging after somewhat; and thence so little delight in God, in prayer and holy things. And though there be no fixed esteem of other things, yet, that indisposition to holy ways, argues some sickly humour latent in the soul; and therefore this is almost generally needful, that men be called to consider what they seek after. Amidst all thy pursuits, stop and ask thy soul, For what end is all this? At what do I aim? For surely, by men's heat in these lower things, and their cold indifference for Heaven, it would seem we take our portion to be here. But, Oh, miserable portion at the best! Oh, short-lived happiness! Look on them, and learn to see this, the end of all perfections, and to have an eye beyond them, till your hearts be well weaned from all things under the sun. Oh! there is little acquaintance with the things that are above it, little love of them, still some pretensions, some hopes that flatter us," I will attain this or that; and then" Then what? What if this night, thou fool, thy soul shall be required of thee?
But Thy commandment.] The former part of this sentence, hath within every man's breast somewhat to suit with it and own it. Readily, each man, according to his experience and the capacity of his soul, hath his sense, if awake, of the unsatisfactoriness of all this world. Give him what thou wilt, yet, still there is empty room within, and a pain in that emptiness, and so, vexation, a tormenting windiness in all. And men of more contemplative minds, have higher and clearer thoughts
of this argument and matter, and may rise to a very high moral contempt of the world; and some of them have done so. But this other part is more sublime, and peculiar to a Divine illumination. That which we find not without, we would have within, and would work out of ourselves what cannot be extracted from things about us. Philosophy is much set on this, but it is upon a false scent, and so still deluded. No, it
is without us; not within us, but above us. That fulness is in God, and there is no communion with Him, or enjoyment of Him, but in the way of His commandment. Therefore, this is the discovery that answers and satisfies, Thy commandment is exceeding broad.
Commandment.] He speaks of all as one, I conceive, for that tie and connexion of them all, on account of which he that breaks one, is guilty of all. A rule they are, and are so one, as a rule must be. One authority runs through all: that is the golden thread they are strung on. Break that any where, and all the pearls drop off. Psal. cxix. 6. Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect to all Thy commandments. Otherwise, one piece shames another, like uneven and incongruous ways. The legs of the lame not being even, make an unseemly going. And as it is here, so, a plural word is joined with the singular, ver. 137., and Psal. cxxxii*. And it is fitly here spoken of as one, opposed to all varieties and multitudes of things beside. Thy commandment, each linked to one another, and that one chain reaches beyond all the incoherent perfections in the world, if one were added to another, and drawn to a length. This commandment is exceeding broad; the very breadth immense, and therefore the length
* Deum tradunt Hebræi, unâ voce, eloquio uno, hoc est, uno spiritu et halitu, sine ullâ interspiratione, morâ, pausâ, vel distinctione, ita ut omnia verba, tanquam verbum unum, et vox una, fuerant, elocutum. Atque hinc volunt duplicem illam accentuum rationem in Decalogo ortam, ut altera una, illa Dei continuata elocutio, altera hominum tarda et distincta, judicetur.
That good to which it
period of duration, of them. Now, in
must be much more so, no end of it. leads and joins the soul, is enough for it: it is complete and full in its nature, and endless in its continuance, so that there is no measuring, no end of it any way. But all other perfections have their bounds of being, and so that each way an end is to be found this, the opposition is the more admirable, that he speaks not expressly of the enjoyment of God, but of the commandment of God: he extols that above all the perfections of the world. Which is much to be remarked, as having in it a clear character of the purest and highest love. It had been more obvious to all, had he said, I have seen the utmost of all besides Thee, but Thou, O God, the light of Thy countenance, the blessed vision of Thy face, that alone is boundless and endless happiness. Or, to have taken it below the full perfect enjoyment of glory, but some glances let into the soul here, a comfortable word from God, a look of love, Oh, how far surpassing all the continued caresses and delights of the world! He speaks not of that neither, but, Thy commandment is exceeding broad. As the Apostle says, The foolishness of God is wiser than men's wisdom, 1 Cor. i. 25., so here, that of God which seems lowest and hardest, is infinitely beyond whatsoever is highest and sweetest in the world. The obeying of His commands, His very service, is more profitable than the world's rewards; His commands more excellent than the perfection of the world's enjoyments. To be subject to Him, is truer happiness than to command the whole world. Pure love reckons thus, Though no further reward were to follow, obedience to God, the perfection of His creature and its very happiness, carries its full recompense in its own bosom. Yea, love delights most in the hardest services. It is self-love, to love the embraces and rest of love; but it is love to Him indeed, to love the labour of love, and the service of it, and that, not so much because it leads to rest, and ends in it, but because it is service to Him whom we love. Yea, that labour is in itself a rest, it is so natural and sweet to a soul that loves. As the revolution of