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casting forth its favour like good ointment. It is said of Christ, Cant. i. 3. that “ his name is as ointment poured forth;” but all the saints partake of that anointing, Psal. xlv. 7. “God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Wherever grace is, it exerts itself in the course of a gracious converfation, holy actions, which procure a good name to the party, in spite of all that the malice of the world can do. It is not a mere name, which a hypocrite may have ; but a name raised on a fölid foundation of grace and true piety.
Now that is a better than precious ointment,” i.e. the best things of this present world, that carnal men set their hearts on.
(1.) It is better than all the world's wealth, that goes under the name of oil, Deut. xxxiii. 24. “ And of Alher he said, --Let him dip his foot in oil.” To. do a good action, is better than to gain a great worldly advantage. A course of piety, and the just character of a lioly life, is preferable to riches, Prov. xxii. 1. So the name of poor Lazarus remains favoury, while the name of the rich glutton stinks.
(2.) It is better than all worldly pleasures and de. lights of sense, expressed by ointment and perfume, Prov. xxvii. 9. “ Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart.” The testimony of one's own conscience for godly sincerity will rejoice the heart more, 2 Cor. i. 12. Lay the perfumed fool on a fick-bed or deathbed, these things avail nothing, while he is galled with the remembrance of an isl spent life; but conscience of integrity will bear up a man in the face of death, 1 John iii. 21. Beloved, if our hearts condemn us not, then have węc onfidence towards God.” 2 Sam xxiii. 5. “ Although my house be not fo with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and fure; for this is all my falvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow."
(3.) It is better than all worldly honours, for kings were anointed to testify the conferring of that dignity on them. Men cannot caroy their worldly honours into the other world with them; death treats the king and the peasant alike; but the character of piety outlives death, and will be owned and regarded in the other world, Rev. iii. 12. When wicked merr fhall be condemned in their actions in which they ápplauded themselves, and others flattered them; the faints will receive Heaven's approbation of their holy actions, “Well done good and faithful servants.** • Wherefore the best thing to balance the misery of human life for the present, is to be good, and do good. That is the great lesson that Solomon gives us here. Look on human life in all the periods of it, childhood, youth, middle age, and old age; and ye will find it is but just fo many stages of vanity, whereof some are past, and others pasling. Look on it in the various circumstances of it, prosperity and adversity, health and fickness, wealth and penury; and you shall find it but vanity cast in different shapes. Turn up what fide of it.you will, the young or the old, the fingle or married state, it is larded with vanity on every fide. Only, consider it as an opportunity of being and doing good, and so it is a subftantial thing; and so very substantial in that respect, that it may well balance all the miseries that attend it. But take away that, and it is at beft but an ufelefs burden, Psal. lxxxix. 47.
2. Death, the pafling into the other world, is beft; the dying-day is best, "better than the birth-day.” It is hard to believe that; and if men frame their sencia ments according to the prevailing opinion of this world, they will never believe it ; but if they frame it according to the do&rine of the other world, they must needs believe it as it is represented in this text:
Ye have heard that there is another world; a lower part of it, the region of horror; to which death is
the the passage for finners, whose dying day muft there. fore be their most doleful day, in the view of which ye have been exhorted to cry, “Gather not my soul with finners.” But ye have heard also, that there is a higher part of that world, a region of perfect bliss and happiness, to which death is also the passage for saints or persons that have got the good name; now if you believe that doctrine, you must needs conclude from it, that the day of such a one's death is better than the day of his birth, which is the thing here meant. And since we have offered a view of the dark fide of the cloud, the gathering with finners in the other world; it is just we offer a view too of the bright fide of the cloud, the gathering with faints there..
.There is a comparison here of two of the days of human life, both of them fpecially remarkable. The one is the first day of our life here, the birth-day, wherein we come into this world out of the womb. The other is the last day of our life here, the deathday, wherein we go out of this into the other world. The question is, Which of the two is the best day, the most desirable in itself? The subject is determined in the first clause, to be the man with the good name, who has been savoury in his life, being and doing good. And Solomon decides the question with respect to such a one, roundly telling us, The day of death is better than the day of his birth, Heb. namely, the man with the good name. When he came into the world at his birth, his friends rejoiced, they thought it a good day; when he goes oụt of this · world into the other, they mourn, thinking it a sad day. But think they as they will, it is the best day of the two; and were it not the partition betwixt the two worlds, we would see it to our convi&ion. . " Wherefore the best thing to balance the misery of human life for the future to a good man, is to die, and leave this world and the life in it. That is the lesson we are taught here. The weight of glory that
death will bring him to in the other world, will absolutely downweigh all the misery of life here. The bliss of the lodging he comes to there, will more than compensate all the hardships of the way; that he shall say, “O that happy life in the lower world, that made way for my entrance hither into this upper world! Who would not gladly have eiubraced Methuselah's tack of that life, for to get this !"
From the text thus explained, ariseth the two following points of doctrine, viz. - Doct. I. The improving of our life in this world to the raising up a well-grounded good name and favoury character in it, is the best balance for the pre. sent for the vanity and misery attending our life, better than the most favoury earthly things.
Doct. II. To one who has fo lived, as to obtain the good name, his dying day will be better than his birthday, quite downweighing all the vanity and misery of life in this world.
I shall speak to each of these in order, Doct. I. The improving of our life in this world to the raising up a well grounded good name and fa. voury character in it, is the best balance for the prea fent for the vunity and misery attending our life, better than the most favoury earthly things.
In discourfing from this doctrine, I shall, · I. Lay before you some things supposed in it. · II. Shew what is the well-grounded good name, that is the balance of the vanity and misery of this life. :. III. What is the improvement of life, whereby that good name may be raised.
IV. Confirm the point, That this improvement of life is the best balance for the present for the vanity and misery attending our life, better than the inost
favoury earthly things. - V. Make some improvement.'
1. I SHALL
I. I SHALL lay before you some things suppofed in the doctrine.
1. It supposeth that there is a vanity and mifery that is the infeparable attendant of human life in this world. No man in life is free of it, nor can be, Plal. xxxix. 6. “Surely every man walketh in a vainfbew." No.circumstances of life can avail to the shifting it off; it accompanies the crown and sceptre, as well as the beggar's seat on the dunghill, Eccl. i: 2. ** Vanity of vanities, faith the preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Psal. xxxix. 5. “Verily every man at his beft state is altogether.vanity.*)Men may change their wilderness-station, but while here will Atill be in a wilderness. They may get out of one 'vanity and mifery, but it will always be but a falling
3. It is natural for men to seek an allay to the va. nity and misery of life, in earthly things, Psal. vi. 6. “ There be many that fay, Who will thew us any good ?!? They feek precious ointment, as it were, to master the rank favour that is about human life. For this cause the pleasures, profits, and honours of the world are sought after, and employed as plasters for that sore; that, by means of them, they may be enam bled to comfort with the vanity and misery of life.
4. But the best of earthly thiogs will make but a forry plaster for that fore; they will not be able to balance the vanity and mifery of life, but with them . all life may be rendered fapless, through the predo