Use. I. HEnce we may be brought to a consideration of the shortness and uncertainty of all the contentments of this present life. How short is life it self? And yet the pleasures of life are shorter than life, Psal. 39. 5. Behold thou hast made my daies as an hand-breadth, saith David. There is the life of man measured by a span: it is but an handfull long; not an Inch long com∣pared to eternity: for so it followeth; Mine age is as nothing before thee. Compare it to eternity, and it is nothing. The daies of a man's life are not worth the reckoning, not worth numbring. Nay, compare it not only to the eternity of God, who is from everlast∣ing to everlasting; but make the comparison between the time of this life, and the im∣mortality and everlasting continuance of the Soul of man in another world either in mise∣ry or blessedness, and it is as nothing. What then are all the pleasures and contentments which this life can afford, which usually are expired before life it self? The year is but short, and quickly turned about in its seve∣ral seasons: how soon is the Spring gone? How soon the Summer? The Autumn is quickly spent, and the Winter is not long Page 125 ere it be ended: but the pleasures of the year last not so long as the year it self. When once Winter appeareth, we may say, where are all the flowers and Rose-buds of the Spring? They are long since dead and wi∣thered, yet the year is not ended: within a few weeks what will become of all the green leaves that have beautified the Trees: they will fall and die. Within a few months what will become of all the green grass that cloatheth the Earth? It will be dead, and lose its beauty and sweetness. Now unto the year ye may compare this present life: to the flowers, blossomes, leaves, grass, you may compare the pleasures, delights and contentments of this life: The year is short, and quickly gone; yet the flowers, blossoms, leaves, &c. are gone before it. So life is short, and soon spent, yet the pleasures and contentments of this life are spent before it. In the eleventh verse of the same Psalm, Da∣vid saith, When thou with rebukes dost cor∣rect man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Thou makest his beauty, and all those delights, and that prosperity wherein he flourished, and took contentment, to con∣sume and wither like corn that is blasted: surely every man is vanity. At the end of Page 126 the fifth verse he saith; Verily, every man at his best estate is altogether vanity. Take him at his best estate, when he hath the most of those things which belong to this life, strength and health, wit and understanding, wealth, worldly honours, credit with the world, and respect from worldly men, yet even then this holy Prophet guided by the spirit of truth, doubteth not to pronounce or proclaim him meer vanity; an empty thing, a bubble, a bladder swoln big, but filled with wind. Take him as he is a meer man, not renued by the Spirit of God, not having Christ dwelling in him: and take him at his best with all those things with which this mortal life is capable of, and wherewith this lower world wherein we live, can furnish him, and he is but vanity; there is nothing sound, nothing solid nor substantial in him: his life and the pleasures of this life are but for a moment, and of the two the pleasures of this life u∣sually are the shorter, and sooner ended than life it self. The Apostle saith, 1 Pet. 1. 24. All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass; the grass withereth, and the flower thereof fadeth away. Man and his mor∣tal life are like the grass: the glory and pro∣sperity of man's life is as the flower of the grass. The grass it self is not long-lived, Page 127 but the flower of the grass is dead before the grass it self. Life is not long, but the flower of life, the pleasure and prosperity of life is shorter than life it self, Jam. 4. 14. What is your life? it is even a vapour that appear∣eth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. Where the Apostle meeteth with the fond thoughts of our fleshly hearts: for when a man is strong and healthy, and in prosperity, and enjoyeth the pleasures of this life, he thinketh he hath gotten a jewel, and his heart resteth in these things, he thinketh it is well with him: Oh this life, and that which be∣longeth to it, is a thing which he doth highly prize, and setteth a great rate upon it. Now saith St. James, What is your life? Ye think ye have a great treasure of it, I pray what is it? What is that life which ye do so highly esteem? I will tell you saith he, it is even a vapour that appeareth: it hath rather an ap∣pearance than a being. It maketh some shew in the eyes of the world, but it is nothing in a manner; and that shew and appearance which it maketh, is but for a time, & when the time is gone, it is as if it had never been; it is all lost, man is never the better for it; for those things which are limited within the compass of time, and measured by a term of daies or years, both in respect of themselves Page 128 and their fruit, all the good of them weareth out with that time, and he that enjoyed them, is never the better for them, no more than if he had never had them. I speak of those things which in themselves and in their fruit are measured by time; for some things in re∣spect of themselves, and their continuance, are but for a time; but the fruit of them is everla∣sting to those that use them in an holy & san∣ctified manner, to those who receive the truth in love into honest and good hearts, in whom it becometh an immortal seed, enlivened and actuated with the Spirit of life and holiness; yea, there are some principal graces, which end with time in respect of themselves, but in respect of their fruit are everlasting, as Faith and Hope which cease with this life, but in their fruit are perpetua and immor∣tal. Nay, even many outward things in the possession of a Child of God, being sanctified to him, and improved by him to the glory of God, though they are mortal and temporal in themselves, yet they have an everlasting fruit; so that a Child of God that is rich in good works, may be the better for his wealth for ever. The Psalmist speaking of him that feareth the Lord, and delighteth greatly in his Commandements, speaketh of his wealth and riches, Psal. 112. 3. and ver. 9. of the Page 129 good use of them. He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor: and then of the ever∣lasting fruit of wealth so employed with such an heart; he saith, His righteousness endureth for ever. So Matth. 6. 20 saith our Saviour: Lay up for your selves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break thorow, nor steal. But now to an unregenerate man, both his life it self, and all the good he enjoyeth in this life, and all the fruit of that life, and that good is temporal, and limited by time. All his pleasures, and prosperity, and all the fruit of these end with time; and so when the time is past, and these do him no good, he is never the better for them, no more than if he had •ever possessed them. Take two natural men living and dying in that estate; the one •ich, and the other a stark beggar: the rich man's case is not a jot better, when the time of this life is worn out, than the others; it may be worse because of his unthankfulness, and the abuse of his wealth. So take a na∣tural man that hath enjoyed abundance of pleasures, and another that hath scarce seen any good daies all his life long; if both of them live and die in their natural estate, they are both alike: the pleasures that the one hath had, do him no more good, than if he Page 130 had never had any more than the other: It may be they have encreased his condemna∣tion exceedingly. Now St. James saith, that life is but for a time, or rather it appear∣eth but for a time: so the pleasures of life are but for a time; nay, it followeth there, life appeareth but for a little time; and the pleasures of life are shorter than life; and therefore their time is less than life, and the• saith he, life vanisheth away, and the pleasures of life must needs vanish with it, 〈◊〉 they be gone before it, as many times 〈◊〉 are: for as ye see in the Text, a man may l•ve such years, whereof he may say and think, I have no pleasure in them: wherein he may say, in his heart, Alas! I breath yet, I keep above ground, I yet live, but I have out-lived all the comforts of my life, they are as it were dead and buried; I shall ne∣ver en•oy them any more: so that he can look back upon his former comforts and pro∣sperity with a sad heart, and weeping-eye, comparing it with his present sorrows, as 〈◊〉 did, as ye may read at large in the 29th. and 30th. Chapters of that Book. In the 29th he expresseth his former prosperity, in the 30th his present affliction. In Chap. 29. 2. 〈◊〉 saith▪ Oh that I were as in moneths past, as 〈◊〉 the daies wherein God preserved me; 〈◊〉Page 131 his candle shined upon mine head, and when by his light, I walked through darkness! So he goeth on. Even so man liveth to that day, when he can reckon up a great many com∣forts as so many los•es: things once enjoyed, now gone, and can compare them with ma∣ny crosses now lying upon them: for some∣times the Lord taketh away mens wealth, so that those who have lived plentifully, are brought to a poor and hard condition: some∣times their health, that men are afflicted with languishing or painful diseases, that their wealth doth them little good; they cannot enjoy it. Sometimes he leaveth them health and wealth, but taketh away those friends that are dearer to them than either: the loss of whom embitte•eth all those things that are left them. Sometimes he depriveth them of liberty, and these things come alike to all; sometimes he prolongeth their lives un∣to old age, and burtheneth their old age with so many infirmities and grievances, that their life is but a ling•ing death unto them. Some∣times he taketh away their sight, some∣times their hearing &c. and sometimes he leaveth them to the g•awings and gripings of a guilty conscience, not cleansed and washed by the blood of Christ. Thus many wayes, and in many respects ye see, that the Page 132 pleasures and prosperity of life may be made shorter than this short life it self.