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have found leisure to consider how far we were got, what we have been doing, and for what purpose GoD sent us into the world. As man may justly be said to be of few days, considered with respect to this hasty succession of things, which soon carries him into the decline of his life,-so may he likewise be said to flee like a shadow and continue not, when his duration is compared with other parts of GOD's works, and even the works of his own hands, which outlast him many generations; whilst, as Homer observes, like leaves, one generation drops, and another springs up, to fall again, and be forgotten.

But, when we farther consider his days in the light in which we ought chiefly to view them, as they appear in thy sight, O GOD! with whom a thousand years are but as yesterday ;-when we reflect that this hand-breadth of life is all that is measured out to us from that eternity for which he is created, how does his short span vanish to nothing in the comparison! It is true, the greatest portion of time will do the same, when compared with what is to come; and therefore, so short and transitory a one, as threescore years and ten, beyond which all is declared to be labor and sorrow, may the easier be allowed: And yet how uncertain are we of that portion, short as it is? Do not ten thousand accidents break off the slender thread of human life, long before it can be drawn out to that extent ?-The new born babe falls down an easy prey, and moulders back again into dust, like a tender blossom put forth in an untimely hour. The hopeful youth, in the very pride and beauty of life, is cut off; some cruel distemper, or unthought-of accident, lays him. prostrate upon the earth, to pursue Job's comparison, like a blooming flower, smit and shrivelled up with a malignant blast.—In this stage of life, chances multiply upon us, the seeds of disor

ders are sown by intemperance or neglect,-infectious distempers are more easily contracted,when contracted they rage with greater violence, and the success in many cases is more doubtful, insomuch that they who have exercised themselves in computations of this kind, tell us, "That one "half of the whole species which are born into the "world, go out of it again, and are all dead in so "short a space as the first seventeen years."

These reflections may be sufficient to illustrate the first part of Job's declaration, "That man is of few days." Let us examine the truth of the other, and see, whether he is not likewise full of trouble.

And here we must not take our account from the flattering outside of things, which are generally set off with a glittering appearance enough, especially what is called higher life.-Nor can we safely trust the evidence of some of the more merry and thoughtless amongst us, who are so set upon the enjoyment of life, as seldom to reflect upon the troubles of it ;--or who, perhaps, because they are not yet come to this portion of their inheritance, imagine it is not the common lot. Nor lastly, are we to form an idea of it, from the delusive stories of a few of the most prosperous passengers, who have fortunately sailed thro' and escaped the rougher toils and distresses. But we are to take our account from a close survey of human life, and the real face of things, stripped of every thing that can palliate or gild it over. We must hear the general complaint of all ages, and read the histories of mankind. If we look into them,and examine them to the bottom,whatdo they contain but the history of sad and uncomfortable passages, which a good-natured man cannot read but with oppression of spirits ?-Consider the dreadful succession of wars in one part or other of the earth, perpetuated from one century to another, with so little intermission, that man

kind have scarce had time to breathe from them, since ambition first came into the world.-Consider the horrid effects of them in all those barbarous devastations we read of, where whole nations have been put to the sword, or have been driven out to nakedness and famine, to make room for new comers.- -Consider how great a part of our species, in all ages down to this, have been trod under the feet of cruel and capricious tyrants, who would neither hear their cries, nor pity their distresses.- -Consider slavery, what it is,-how bitter a draught, and how many millions have been made to drink of it ;— which, if it can poison all earthly happiness, when exercised barely upon our bodies, what must it be, when it comprehends both the slavery of body and mind? To conceive this, look into the history of the Romish church and her tyrants, (or rather executioners), who seem to have taken pleasure in the pangs and convulsions of their fellow creatures.-Examine the inquisition; hear the melancholy notes sounded in every cell.-Consider the anguish of mock trials, and the exquisite tortures consequent thereupon, mercilessly inflicted upon the unfortunate, where the racked and weary soul has so often wished to take its leavebut cruelly not suffered to depart.-Consider how many of these helpless wretches have been haled from thence, in all periods of this tyrannic usurpation, to undergo the massacres and flames to which a false and a bloody religion has condemned them.

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If this sad history and detail of the more public causes of the misery of man, are not sufficient, let us behold him in another light, with respect to the more private causes of them, and see whether he is not full of trouble likewise there, and almost born to it, as naturally as the sparks fly upwards. If we consider man as a

creature full of wants and necessities, (whether real or imaginary), which he is not able to supply of himself;-what a train of disappointments, vexations and dependencies, are to be seen issuing from thence, to perplex and make his being uneasy?How many jostlings and hard struggles do we undergo in making our way in the world? -How barbarously held back?-How often and basely overthrown, in aiming only at getting bread ?-How many of us never attain it—at least not comfortably,—but from various and unknown causes-eat it all their lives long in bitterness?

If we shift the scene, and look upwards, towards those whose situation in life seems to place them above the sorrows of this kind, yet where are they exempt from others ?-Do not all ranks and conditions of men meet with sad accidents, and numberless calamities in other respects, which often make them go heavily all their lives long.

How many fall into chronical infirmities, which render both their days and nights restless and insupportable?-How many of the highest rank are tore up with ambition, or soured with disappointments?—and how many more, from a thousand secret causes of disquiet, pine away in silence, and owe their deaths to sorrow and dejection of heart?-If we cast our eyes upon the lowest class and condition of life, the scene is more melancholy still.-Millions of our fellowcreatures, born to no inheritance but poverty and trouble, forced, by the necessity of their lots, to drudgery and painful employments, and hard set with that too, to get enough to keep themselves and families alive.- -So that, upon the whole, when we have examined the true state and condition of human life, and have made some allowanices for a few fugacious, deceitful pleasures, there is scarce any thing to be found, which contradicts Job's description of it.-Whichever way

we look abroad, we see some legible characters of what God first denounced against us, "That in "sorrow we should eat our bread, till we return "to the ground, from whence we were taken*."

But some one will say, Why are we thus to be put out of love with human life? To what purpose is it to expose the dark sides of it to us, or enlarge upon the infirmities which are natural, and consequently out of our power to redress?

I answer that the subject is nevertheless of great importance, since it is necessary every creature should understand his present state and condition, to put him in mind of behaving suitably to it.Does not an impartial survey of man-the holding up the glass to show him his defects and natural infirmities, naturally tend to cure his pride, and clothe him with humility, which is a dress that best becomes a short-lived and a wretched crea ture? Does not the consideration of the shortness of our life, convince us of the wisdom of dedicating so small a portion to the great purposes of eternity?

Lastly, when we reflect that this span of lifey short as it is, is chequered with so many troubles, that there is nothing in this world springs up, or can be enjoyed without a mixture of sorrow-how insensibly does it incline us to turn our eyes and affections from so gloomy a prospect, and fix them upon that happier country, where afflictions cannot follow us, and where GoD will wipe away all tears from off our faces, for ever and ever! Amen.

N. B. Most of these reflections upon the miseries of life, are taken from Woollaston.

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