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there should be a by-path left for thee, wherein thou mayest tread alone? Were it so, that monarchs and princes, that patriarchs, prophets, apostles were allowed an easier passage out of the world, thou mightest perhaps find some pretence of reason, to repine at a painful dissolution : but now, since all go one way; and, as the wise Philosopher * says, those, which are unequal in their birth, are in their deaths equal; there can be no ground for a discontented murmur. Grudge, if thou wilt, that thou art a man: grudge not; that, being a mai, thou must die; Ps. lxxxix. 48. Ps. xc. 3, 5, 7. It is true that those, whom the last day shall find alive, shall not
but they shall be changed: but this change of theirs shall be no other, than an analogical death, wherein there shall be a speedy consumption of all our corrupt and drossy parts; so as the pain must be so much the more intense, by how much it is more short than in the ordinary course of death. Briefly, that change is a death, and our death is a change, as Job styles it ; Job xiv. 14 : the difference is not in the pain, but in the speed of the transaction.
“ Fear not,” then, “the sentence of death : remember them, that have been before thee, and that come after; for this is the sentence of the Lord over all flesh;" Ecclus. xli. 3.
Deuth not feared by some. Thou fearest death :-So do not infants, children, distracted persons: as the Philosopher t observes. Why should use of reason render us more cowardly, than defect of reason doth them?
Thou fearest that, which some others wish. “O death, how acceptable is thy sentence to the needy; and to him, whose strength faileth, that is now in the last age, and is vexed with all things; and to him, that despaireth, and hath lost patience!" Ecclus. xli. 2. Wherefore is light given, saith Job, to him, that is in misery; and life unto the bitter in soul? Which long for death, but it cometh not ; and dig for it more than for hid treasures : Which rejoice exceedingly, und are glad when they can find the grave ; Job iii. 20, 21, 22.
How many are there, that invite the violence of death; and, if he refuse it, do, as Ignatius threatened he would do to the lions, force his assault! Death is the same to all: the difference is in the disposition of the entertainers. Couldst thou look upon death with their eyes, he should be as welcome to thee, as he is unto them. At the least, why shouldst thou not labour to have thy heart so wrought upon, that this face of death, which seems lovely and desirable to some, may not appear over-terrible to thee?
* Sen. Ep. 91.
+ Sen. Ep. 36.
SECT. 6. Our death-day better than our birth-day. Thou art afraid to die :-Couldst thou then bave been capable of the use of reason, thou wouldst have been more afraid of coming into the world, than thou art now of going out: for why should we be more afraid of the better, than of the worse?
Better is the day of death, than the day of one's birth, saith the Preacher; Eccl. vii. 2. Better, every way. Our birth begins our miseries; our death ends them : our birth enters the best of men into a wretched world; our death enters the good into a world of glory.
Certainly, were it not for our infidelity, as we came crying into the world, so we should go singing out of it. And, if some have solemnized their birth-day with feasting and triumph, the Church of old hath bestowed that name and cost upon the death's day of her Martyrs and Saints.
The sting of death pulled out. Thou abhorrest death; and fleest from it, as from a serpent :But dost thou know that his sting is gone? What harm can there be in a stingless snake? Hast thou not seen or heard of some delicate dames, that have carried them, thus corrected, in their bosom, for coolness, and for the pleasure of their smoothness? The sting of death is sin; 1 Cor. xv. 56.
hiss and wind about us: but he cannot hurt us, when that sting is pulled out. Look up, () thou believing soul, to thy Blessed Saviour, who hath plucked out this sting of death; and happily triumphed over it, both for himself and thee; O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Death but a parting, to meet again.
-Why, man, it is but the forbearing their wonted society, for a while: they do but take leave of each other, till they meet again in the day of Resurrection ; and, in the mean time, they are both safe, and the better part happy.
It is commendable in the Jews, otherwise the worst of men, that they call their grave O'na “The house of the living;" and, when they return from the burial of their neighbours, they pluck
grass, and cast it into the air, with those words of the Psalmist, They shall flourish and put forth, as the grass upon the earth ; Ps. lxxii. 16.
Did we not believe a Resurrection of the one part and a re-uniting of the other, we had reason to be utterly daunted with the thought of a dissolution: now we have no cause to be dismayed with a little intermission.
Is it a heathen man or a Christian, (such I wish he had been), whom I hear say,
“ The death, which we so fear and fee from, doth but respite life for a while, doth not take it away : the day will come, which shall restore' us to the light again *.”. Settle thy soul, my son, in this assurance; and thou canst not be discomforted, with a necessary parting.
Death but a sleep. Thou art afraid of death :—When thou art weary of thy day's labour, art thou afraid of rest?
Hear what thy Saviour, who is the Lord of Life, esteems of death; Our friend Lasarus sleepeth; John si. 11: and of Jairus's daughter; The maid is not dead; but sleepeth; Matt. ix. 24. Luke viii. 52.
Neither useth the Spirit of God any other language, concerning his servants under the Old Testament: Now shall I sleep in the dust, saith holy Job; ch. vii. 21: and of David, When thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers ; 2 Sam. vií. 12.
Nor yet under the New: For this cause, many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep, saith the Apostle ; 1 Cor. xi. 30.
Lo, the philosophers of old were wont to call sleep the Brother of Death; but God says, death is no other than sleep itself: a sleep, both sure and sweet. When thou liest down at night to thy repose, thou canst not be so certain to awake again in the morming; as, when thou layest thyself down in death, thou art sure to awake in the morning of the Resurrection. Out of this bodily sleep, thou mayest be affrightedly startled with some noises of sudden horror; with some fearful dreams; with tumults, or alarms of war; but here, thou shalt rest quietly in the place of silence (Ps. xciv. 17.), free from all inward and outward disturbances; while, in the mean time, thy soul shall see none but visions of joy and blessedness.
But, oh the sweet and heavenly expression of our last rest, and the issue of our happy resuscitation, which our gracious Apostle hath laid forth, for the consolation of his mournful Thessalonians ! For, if we believe, saith he, that Jesus died and rose again; even so them also, which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him. Lo, our belief is antidote enough against the worst of death. And why are we troubled with death, when we believe that Jesus died ? and what a triumph is this over death, that the same Jesus, who died, rose again! and what a comfort it is, that the same Jesus, who arose, shall both come again, and bring all his with him in glory! and, lastly, what a strong cordial is this to all good hearts, that all those, which die well, do sleep in Jesus ! Thou thoughtest, perhaps, of sleeping in the bed of the grave; and there, indeed, is rest : but he tells thee of sleeping in the bosom of Jesus; and there is immortality, and blessedness. O Blessed Jesu, in thy presence is the fulness of joy, and at thy right-hand are pleasures for evermore. Who would desire to walk in the world, when he may sleep with Jesus?
* Sen. Ep. 36.
Death sweetened to us by Christ. Thou fearest death :-It is much on what terms, and in what form, death presents himself to thee: if as an enemy, (as that is somewhere his style, the last enemy, death,) thy unpreparation shall make him dreadful ; thy readiness and fortitude shall take off his terror: if as a messenger of God to fetch thee to happiness, what reason hast thou to be afraid of thine own bliss ?
It is one thing, what death is in himself, a privation of life; as such, nature cannot choose but abhor him: another thing, what he is by Christ made unto us, an introduction to life, a harbinger to glory. Why would the Lord of Life have yielded unto death; and, by yielding, vanquished him: but that he might alter and sweeten death to us; and, of a fierce tyrant, make him a friend and benefactor ? And, if we look upon him thus changed, thus reconciled, how can we choose, but bid him welcome?
The painfulness of Christ's death. Thou art afraid of the pangs of death :-There are those, that have died without any great sense of pain : some we have known to have yielded up their souls, without so much as a groan : and how knowest thou, my son, what measure God hath allotted to thee ? Our death is a sea-voyage, (so the Apostle, I desire to launch forth * :) wherein some hind a rough and tempestuous passage; others, calm and smooth : such thine may prove; so as thy dissolution
than a fit of thy sickness. But, if thy God have determined otherwise, Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, Heb. xii. 2. the Son of God, the
* Phil. i. 23. 'Avaricaba,
Lord of Glory. See with what agonies he conflicted, what torments he endured in his death, for thee. Look upon his bloody sweat, his bleeding temples, his furrowed back, his nailed bands and feet, his racked joints, his pierced side. Hear his strong cries. Consider the shame, the pain, the curse of the cross, which he underwent for thy saķe. Say, whether thy sufferings can be comparable to his. He is a cowardly and unworthy soldier, that follows his general sighing. Lo, these are the steps, wherein thy God and Saviour hath trod before thee. Walk on courageously in this deep and bloody way: after a few paces thou shalt overtake him in glory : for, If we suffer with him, we shall also reign together with him; 2 Tim. ji. 12.
The vanity and miseries of life. Thou shrinkest at the thought of death :-Is it not, for that thou hast over-valued life; and made thy home on earth? Delicate persons, that have pampered themselves at home, are loth to stir abroad; especially upon hard and uncouth voyages. Perhaps, it is so with thee.
Wherein I cannot but much pity thy mistaking; in placing thy contentment there, where a greater and wiser 'man could find nothing but vanity and vexation. Alas, what can be our exile, if this be our home? What woeful entertainment is this, to be enamoured on! What canst thou meet with here, but distempered humours, hard usages, violent passages, bodily sicknesses, sad complaints, hopes disappointed, frequent iniscarriages, wicked plots, cruel menaces, deadly executions, momentary pleasures sauced with lasting sorrows; lastly, shadows of joy, and real miseries ? Are these the things, that so bewitch thee, that, when death calls at thy door, thou art ready to say to it, as the Devil said to our Saviour, Art thou come to torment me before the time? Matt. viii. 29. Are these those winning contentments, that cause thee to say of the world, as Peter said of Mount Tabor, Master, it is good for us to be here? Matt. xvii. 4.
If thou have any faith in thee, (and what dost thou profess to be a Christian without it?) look up to the things of the other world; whither thou art going: and see whether that true life, pure joy, perfect felicity, and the eternity of all these, may not be worthy to draw up thy heart to a longing desire of the fruition of them; and a contemptuous disvalution of all the earth can promise, in comparison of this infinite blessedness.
It was one of the defects, which our late noble and learned philosopher, the Lord Verulam *, found in our physicians, that they do not study those remedies, that might procure łuseveclav, the
easy passage” of their patients, since they must needs die,
# Lord Bacon, his “ Advancement of Learning.”