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sudden, to an uncomfortable alteration; and which, how happy soever, must ere long be left behind us, never more to be enjoyed; and a strict account required of us by God, how we used them when we had them, in order to our eternal punishment or reward, as our former behaviour has been good or evil : such thoughts as these, and the duties consequent upon them, such as trouble and compunction of spirit, and that godly sorrow which is necessary to work repentance and reformation, and procure mercy for us at the hands of our great Judge, however melancholy an employment they may be, must have their time, and be entertained by us in their proper season.

And this is not only Solomon's opinion and advice, but of one infinitely greater and wiser, even his God and Saviour, and ours; he, before whose dread tribunal we must one day give the account we mentioned but now; who expressly makes mourning our duty in the text.

And because there is great need of encouragement to what is so highly disagreeable to flesh and blood, as Solomon prefers it before feasting and laughter, and tells us that the heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth; and gives this reason for it, because by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better; or by that inward pensiveness of mind which influences the outward look, and makes the air of the face answer to it, a man becomes improved in solid wisdom and goodness, and lays the foundation of a happiness infinitely truer and greater than all the pleasures and gaieties of the world and of sense can afford: so our divine Master and


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Teacher is pleased to say, Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

And because example goes further than any other encouragement, we find him often employed in this manner himself; and St. Basil reports a tradition concerning him, that “he never laughed, but wept “ often;" and the prophet Isaiah calls him a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

How true that may be of his never laughing, I know not, though it is very probable that laughter was too gay and light for him; but as for his frequent weeping and grieving we have abundant testimony: he groaned in spirit, and was troubled, and wept, upon occasion of the death of Lazarus'; partly out of tender compassion and sympathy with his afflicted sisters and the other mourners, and partly by reason of the hardened hearts of the obstinate Jews, who had given the worst turn to all his other miracles, and who, he foresaw, would not be convinced by that which he was then going to work upon the already putrefied body of his departed friend, but be the more exasperated by it against him. And he likewise wept over Jerusalem, when he foresaw and foretold her destruction; and was grieved at the Jews' strange obstinacy, which would make their ruin inevitable. And upon two other occasions, for the samne reason, we read that he was in like manner affected, and sighed deeply in spirit e.

Indeed his life was one continued scene of mourning; and, considering all things, how could it be otherwise ? how could so holy and compassionate a person as our Lord see such a world of wickedness and misery, so many myriads of those he came to c John xi. 33, &c. d Luke xix. 41, &c. e Mark vii. 34. viii. 12. "save, rushing headlong into ruin; and the Devil tyrannizing at such a dreadful rate over both soul and body, and men so little sensible of their danger, and so little able to help themselves if they were: and, withal, such incurable obstinacy in the most against his gracious designs and methods for their rescue, and which would be the case of after-ages too; so that but few in comparison would be saved from the endless pains of hell, by all that he could do and suffer for them: how could he see all this without being crucified, as it were, beforehand, and receiving the deepest impressions of sorrow upon his most compassionate and tender spirit!

Once, it is true, we read that Jesus rejoiced in spiritf; but it was but once, and that when his disciples with joy brought him word that even the devils were subject to them through his name.

He was glad to find a little faith in the earth, to see the beginnings of that great redemption he came to work, and of the infernal tyrant's ruin. More occurrences of this nature would have made him rejoice oftener; but strange infidelity and unaccountable hardness of heart was that which he rather met with everywhere; which pierced him to the quick, and made him thus to sigh and grieve, and mourn and weep.

If therefore there is still occasion for the same mournful employment, it is but fitting that we should set apart some of our time for it; and in this, as well as other instances, shew that we are of our Saviour's temper and spirit, and cannot behold so melancholy a prospect as the present state of the world will afford us, without being affected with a

f Luke x. 21.

suitable concern. And because there is a time for all things, and every thing, even sorrow itself, is beautiful in its season ; besides those private times for this employment, which our own piety and prudence, and particular occasions may incline us voluntarily to choose ; those appointed by authority, whether stated or occasional, should more particularly be regarded and observed by us in such a serious manner, and with such a frame of spirit, as may answer the ends for which they were enjoined.

I shall therefore, in my following discourse, recommend the practice of this duty to you; and exhort you now to weep with them that weep, that so hereafter we may all rejoice and be comforted together : for so says our great Master, Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

In discoursing upon which words I shall,

I. First, shew. wherein consists this duty of mourning, which our Lord recommends to his disciples, and what occasion there is for it now.

II. Secondly, of what great advantage this melancholy employment will be to us at present. And,

III. Thirdly, how great the comfort of it will be hereafter.

I. As for the first particular, wherein consists the duty of Christian mourning, it may be considered with respect to others and ourselves. With respect to others, it is the having such a tender and compassionate concern for the wickedness of the world in general, and more especially the Christian part of it, and particularly that to which we ourselves belong, and the miseries and calamities that are and will be consequent upon it, as sadly to deplore and lament, and endeavour what we can to reform the one, and humbly to deprecate, and, as far as in us lies, to prevent and alleviate the other : and, with respect to ourselves, it is to have such a pungent remorse for, and so deeply to bewail and repent of our own personal wickedness, whereby we have armed the divine vengeance both against ourselves and the public, as may cause us immediately to resolve upon, and heartily set about, the amendment of every evil way; that so iniquity may not be our ruin.

For sin and misery will never be long asunder; the one treads close upon the heels of the other, and will quickly overtake it; and the world always was, and is, and will be, full of sad proofs and examples of this truth. And this, not only upon account of the divine justice, but of the natural tendency of wickedness to all sorts of unhappiness: it enslaving us to our most cruel enemy the Devil, and our own furious passions and lusts ; weakening and depraving our reason, depriving us of the protection and grace of God, and exposing us to all the sad consequences of so wretched a condition as this.

And, therefore, as wickedness increases, misery proportionably increases with it, and, like a deluge, overwhelms the world : and when it does so, then to have a most tender, feeling concern for, and to deplore and lament, and do all that we can possible in our several stations to remove, to lessen, to put some stop to this inundation of sin and misery, these calamities and just judgments of God, is the duty of every Christian, and that mourning which our Lord recommends.

As for the occasion for such mourning now, it is but too great and evident: and when atheism, in

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