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Septuagint ; they are both of them equally and sufficiently deducible and justifiable from this very strange, and very Melancholy Account the Pralmist gives of Man, that he walketh in a Vain Shadow, and disquiets himself in Dain. Wherein you have all the Vanity that is or possibly can be, all that Man or any other Creature is capable of Vanity of State or Being, and Vanity of Conduct, both Natural and Moral Vanity.
And first of all to begin with the Natural Vanity of Man, the Vanity of his State or Being, .express’d in the former part of the Text, Man walketh in a Vain Shew or Shadow. In an image, (for so the Original 782 fignifies) not a solid substantial Image, but Airy, Flitting, and Phantastick Appearance, such as is in a Looking-Glass, or in a Dream; or in a Shadow. In such an Image does Man Walk,and is a kind of a Spectrum even while he lives. We read in the Scripture and ellewhere, of the Shadow of Death , and truly the Darkness and Obscurity of that State is ground enough for the Figure. But here we meet with another sort of Shadow, the Shadow of Life, and that a Vain Shadow too, a Shadow without a Substance, a Shew without any Reality, a meer Apparition. For such,and no better, is the whole State and Being of Man in this M'orld. Indeed at the Opening of the next Scene, when the Veil of Mortality shall be laid aside, and the Curtain that now parts between the Material and Intellectual World shall be drawn, 'tis to be hoped that a more Substantial View of things shall be laid out before him, but at present the best account we can give of him is, that he Walks in a Vain Shadow.
For the illustration of this, I might easily take the whole Frame of Man in pieces, and as a fort of Moral Anatomist,read a Lečture of Vanity upon every Part, upon his Body, and upon his soul, and upon the Powers and Faculties of each. I might tell you of the Weakness and Frailness of his Body, that as it carries within it self the Causes of a necessary and speedy Dissolution: So it is also liable to a thousand Accidents without , that may hasten its ruin. A Structure of so difficult a raifing, of so uncertain a standing, and of so short duration, that some have wonder'd, and made it a'n Objection against the Wisdom of the great Artist, that he would bestow, so much Art upon such Vile Materials, that he would be fo elaborate upon a Trifle, and spend such a deal of curiosity and exactness upon so transitory, fo perishing a Work, the very delicacy and fineness of whose Composition subjects it to innumerable Disorders, whereof the Soul also has a share, and is a very sensible Partaker A Work so form'd and laid out for Ruin, so naturally doom'd and order'd to Destruction, that though no other particular Evil should befal it yet the whole Machine and Revolution of the Universe labours to destroy it, and the great and general Motion of Nature is continually carrying away some part of it, as the constant Course of a great and swift River, undermines the Foundations of a Building,
I'might also represent to you the many Wants and Necesiities of our Nature, and our great dependance upon other Inferiour Creatures, as well as upon those of the fame Order with our selves. The great helplesness and infirmity of two parts of our little Time, Infancy and Old Age; and that great disorder of Sickness, to which the whole is liable. That even our very Life and Health des pend upon a Disease (for Hunger and Thirst are no better:) and the necessary Recruit of our Spirits upon the interruption of our Reafon, and the waste of our Time; almost half of which is consumed in Sleep, that great Tax and Custom of Nature upon the Life of Man...
The Vanity of whose present statė, I might further describe from the Darkness of his Understanding, and the Narrowness of his Conception, which is able to apply it self but to one Single Object at a time, and that too so imperfectly, that he is fain oftentimes to divide the most Simple Being into several partial, inadequate Idea's, (being not able to take it in all at once) to contract and lessen the Object, that so he may adjust and proportion it to his own Narrowness. I might here also remark, how few are the things that he
knows, even as to their meer Existence; and how · much fewer yet, as to their Nature. That he
knows but little of God, and little of his Works. That he is equally baffled and confounded by the Mysteries of Faith, and by the Appearances of Nature : Not to say any thing of the Mazes and Labyrinths of Providence. That he knows no
eat irreguiche weaker his Shadoid to Walk But I thare
spect aloclt part of thiand blindest louis ; which
thing of Spirits, and but little of Bodies, and least of all of that particular Body to which he is so wonderfully and so closely united, that he often takes it for Himself ; which he animates and governs, and (such is his misfortune) more often serves.
All this I might yet further illustrate, from the great irregularity of the Will and Passions; which indeed is the weakest and blindest side of Man. the darkest part of this Shadow; and in which respect alone, he may well be said to Walk in a Vain Shew, and to be altogether Vanity. But I shall content my self to have given a Confuse Glance at these things, leaving the more particular improvement of these few general Hints to your own private thoughts; while in the mean time I descend to some more concerning and less obvious Confiderations. . What we are now upon, is to give an Account of the Natural Vanity of Man, and how he walks in a Vain Shew. I know I should appear too Abstract and Metaphysical, and withal, Paradoxical to most vulgar and unprepared Minds, should I account for this by saying That the whole Visible and Sensible World is, as to us, a Vain Shero, a meer Cheat, a Delusion, a Dream. Not I mean as to the Existence, but as to the Appearance of Sensible Objects. That what we think we see, taste, and smell in Bodies that are without us, is not really in the Bodies themselves, but is all transacted within our own Minds. That the warmth of the Fire (to speak popularly) and
the Light of the Sun, the sweet Odours of Flowers, and the delicious Relish of Fruits, the rich Enamel of the Field, and the Blushes of the Morning, with all the whole Varnish and Imagry of Colours, with which both the Sense and Un. derstanding of Man is so refresh'd and entertain'd, and for the sake of which we think the World fo pleasant a Region, are. so Airy and Chearful in it, and so loath to leave it; that all these are not in the things themselves, where we think we perceive them; but are only certain Modifications of our own Souls, certain Sensations raised in them by the Author of Nature at the Presence of outward Bodies, and upon the impression which they make upon our Organs of Sense. So that the whole world is like an inchanted Tand, where we have fine Landskips and Pietures prefented to our View ; and that in so lively a manner, that we cannot forbear thinking that 'tis all a Reality without; when, in the mean while, there is nothing of all this real,but the Sensation; the whole being only an Intellectual Scene, transacted within our own selves. I say, should I make this to be the Condition of Man in this World, and that thus he Walks in a vain fhemo, among Cheats and Delusions, empty Representations and false Appearances , his whole Natural Life being no better than a pleasing Dream; I should offer nothing more than what is strictly and Philosophically true, and what I could easily Demonstrate upon the best Principles of Science that ever yet appear'd in the World. But this