NOw the reasons why this is to be ac∣counted a point of wisdom, necessary for every Christian, are,
1. Because a change will certainly come, Eccles. 1. 2. Vanity of vanities (saith the Preacher) all is vanity. All is vanity and uncertainty: There is no pepetuity, nothing Page 100 changeable in man, or in the outward conditi∣on of man here on earth; yea, many changes and strange alterations may befall those that seem to be in a most setled condition; many may come, some must come. Thou that art in prosperity, maist fall into adversity; Thou that art rich, maist become poor: Thou that hast Children, maist become childless: Thou that hast Friends, maist become friendless Thou that hast health, maist have sickness▪ Thou that art young and strong, maist be∣come old and impotent: Thou that art a li∣berty, maist be a prisoner. These things may come; but there is another change that must come, namely, Death. Thou that art living man or woman must be turned into a dead carkase: Thou that art now reckoned among the living, must be accounted among the dead. Thou that now seest, hearest, speak∣est, walkest, &c. must become blind, speech∣less, senseless, not able to move or stir: a corps without life, breath or motion. Thou that now conversest with men, must be for∣gotten, and become a dead man out of mind: yea, thou that now sittest here at this time, must stand before the Lord's Judgement-Seat, Oh then it is wisdom to be aforehand with these changes and alterations, that they may not surprize and overtake thee unprovided.
Page 101 2. It is uncertain how, and when these changes shall come, Jam. 4. 13, 14. Go to now ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a City, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain; whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow: for what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away: For that ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this and that. Our life is so un∣certain, that in that respect it may rather be said to appear then to be: and it appeareth but for a very little time, the date of it is soon expised. It is even a vapour, and a vapour doth quickly vanish, riseth in the morning, and is dissolved before noon: we may promise our selves years, but are not sure of the next day. So it proved in that rich mans case, Soul, thou hast goods laid up for many years. He had a short answer, Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be taken from thee. It is therefore a •ecessary point of wisdom to foresee and pro∣vide for this change.
3. Great miseries and inconveniences follow upon such alterations, when they are not foreseen and provided for: many oppor∣tunities are lost, which never can be recover∣ed; such changes happen as deprive men of all ability of doing that which they might Page 102 have done at ease, if they had foreseen these things, and taken their time: and men may look back with many sad thoughts, and much bitterness of spirit upon their neglects and losses this way, when it is too late. Some few daies, weeks, months, wilfully lost and wasted before, will seem more worth unto them than all the world; and the treasures and glory of the world, when once these changes have overtaken them, and come upon them unawares, and disabled them for ever.
Much discomfort cometh upon this im∣providence: when changes happen which are grievous in themselves; they become more grievous to us for want of preparation. That which in its own nature is a misery, is made a double misery to us, when we are not prepared for it. What discomfort will sickness bring, when it cometh unlook'd for; and when we have not prepared for it by searching our hearts; casting up our accounts; getting assured pardon of our sins at the hands of God? when a sick body and a guilty con∣science meet together, there is a woful con∣dition: when a man shall lie down in his death bed with the guilt of all his sins lying upon him, and pressing upon his Soul, there is a grievous burthen; and especially when death cometh, and findeth him not regene∣rate; Page 103 findeth in him no other life, but that which floweth from the union between the Soul and Body; no new spiritual life issuing from an inseparable communion between Christ and him. Oh how wi•l death insult over such a one? how will the name, the thought, the visage of death dismay him? when it meeteth him alone, not joyned to Christ, and entreth into a single combat with him; not strengthened by an happy u∣nion with the Lord of life; will it not tear him in pieces as a Lion might do a little Dog? It is a double misery not to be aforehand with death, not to be provided for this change.
4. on the other side, much ease, much good, much comfort followeth upon a time∣ly foresight, and wise preparation for such changes. When a sad and sudden change was brought upon Hezekiah; a sharp fit of sickness (supposed to have been the Plague) and a peremptory message from the Lord by the Prophet; Set thine House in order, for thou shalt die and not live. Did it not won∣derfully ease his burthen, that he was so well prepared for this change, and able to say (his conscience bearing him witness) 2 Kings 20. 3. I beseech thee O Lord, re∣member now how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a perfect heart; and hav• done Page 104 that which is good in thy sight. What a com∣fort will it be, when thy health is turned into sickness, thy strength into weakness; when thou art fastened to thy bed, and hast received in thy self the sentence of death; if then thou findest thy self provided for this change. A sweet comfort it shall be in old age (when the Grashopper is a burden, even the lightest thing) it shall then ease that burden of years that makes thee stoop; if thou didst in time foresee and provide for it, turning to the Lord aforehand; that so thy gray hairs may be found in the way of righteousness.