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one bo lily pain, to the sweetness of all the pleasures of sense!
If objectors still urge, that " sufferings are needful for our trial :" I reply, they are necessary for our punishment and correction, but not for our trial. A good king can try the loyalty of his subjects, without putting them to the rack. Let Nero and Bonner try the innocent by all sorts of tortures, but let not their barbarity be charged upon a God strictly just, and infinitely good.
However “ calamities prove a blessing to some.” And so does transportation : But who ever inferred from thence, that reformed felons were transported for the trial of their virtue, and not for the punishment of their crimes ? I conclude therefore, that our calamities and miseries demonstrate our corruption, as strongly as the punishments of the bastinado and pillory, appointed by an equitable judge, prove the guilt of those, on whom they are frequently and severely inSicted.
Would to God the inultiplied calamities of life, were a sufficient punishment, for our desperate wickedness! But alas! they only make way for the pangs of death. Like traitors, or rather like wolves and Tipers, to which the Son of God compares natural men, we are all devoted to destruction. Yes, as we kill those mischievous creatures, so God destroys the sinful sons of men.
If the reader is offended, and denies the mortifying assertion, let him visit with me the mournful spot, where thousands are daily executed, and where hundreds make this moment their dying speech, do not mean what some call “ the bed of honour," a Held of battle, but a cominon death-bed.
Observing, as we go along, those black trophies of the king of terrors, those escutcheons, which preposterous vanity fixes up in honour of the deceased, when kind charity should hang them out as a warning to the living ; let us repair to those mournful apartments, where weeping attendants support the dying, where swooning friends embrace the dead, or whence distracted relatives carry out the pale remains of all their joy.
Guided by their groans and funeral lights, let us proceed to the dreary charnel-houses and calvaries, which we decently call vaults and church-yards : And without stopping to look at the monuments of some, whom my objector remembers as vigorous as himself; and of others, who were perhaps his partners in' nightly revels ; let us hasten to see the dust of his mouldered ancestors, and to read upon yonder coffins, the dear name of a parent, a child, perhaps a wife, turned off from his bosom into the gulph of eternity.
If this sight does not convince him, I shall open one of the noisome repositories, and shew him the deep hollows of those eyes, that darted tender sensation into his soul ; and odious reptiles fattened upon the once charming, now ghastly face, he doted upon. But, methinks he turns pale at the very proposal, and, rather than be confronted with such witnesses, acknowledges that he is condemned to die, with all his dear relatives, and the whole human race.
And is this the case? Are we then under sentence of death ? How awful is the consideration ! Of all the things that nature dreads, is not death the most terrible ? And is it not (as being the greatest of temporal evils) appointed by human and divine laws, for the punishment of capital offenders; whether they are named felons and traitors, or more genteelly called men and sinners ? Let matter of fact decide.
Whilst earthly judges condemn murderers, and traitors, to be hanged or beheaded ; does not the Judge of all, sentence sinful mankind, either to pine
away with old age, or be wasted with consumptions, burned with fevers, scalded with hot humours, eaten up with cancers, putrified by mortifications, suffocated by asthmas, strangled by quinseys, poisoned by the cup of excess, stabbed with the knife of luxury, or racked to death by disorders as loathsome, and accidents as various as their sins? • If you consider the circumstances of their execution, where is the materal difference between the malefactor and the sinner ? The jailor and the turnkey confine the one to his cell : The disorder and the physician confine the other to his beck. The one lives upon bread and water : The other upon draughts and boluses. The one can walk with his fetters: The other loaded with blisters can scarcely turn himself. The one enjoys freedom from pain, and has the per fect use of his senses : The other complains he is racked all over, and is frequently delirious. The executioner does his office upon the one in a few minutes : But the physician and his medicines make the other linger for days, before he can die out of his misery. An honest sheriff, and constables armed with staves, wait upon one : while a greedy undertaker and his party, with like emblems of authority, accompany the other : And if it is any advantage to have a mumerous attendance, without comparison the felon has the greater train.
When the pangs of death are over, does not the difference made between the corpses consist more in appearance than reality? The murderer is dissected in the surgeon's hall, gratis, and the rich sinner is embowelled in his own apartment at great expence. The robber exposed to open air, wastes away in hoops of iron ; and the gentleman confined to a damp vault, moulders away in sheets of lead : And while the fowls of the air greedily prey upon the one, the vermin of the earth eagerly devour the other.
And if you consider them as launching into the world of spirits ; is not the advantage, in one respect, on the malefactor's side ? He is solemnly assured he must die ; and when the death-warrant comes down, all about him bid him prepare, and make the best of his short time : But the physician and chaplain, friends and attendants, generally flatter the honourable sinner to the last : And what is the consequence ? He either sleeps on in carnal security, till death puts an end to all his delusive dreams; or, if he has some notion that he must repent, for fear of discomposing his spirits, he still puts it off till tomorrow; and in the midst of his delays God says,
Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee. What wonder is it then, if when the converted thief goes from the ignominious tree to paradise, the impenitent rich man passes from his purple bed, into an awful eternity, and there lifts up his eyes in unexpected torments ?
If these are truths too obvious to be denied, wilt thou, Sinner, as the thoughtless vulgar, blunt their edge, by saying, with amazing unconcern, “ Death is a debt we must all pay to nature ?” Alas! This is granting the point ; for if all have contracted so dreadful a debt, all are in a corrupt and lost estate. Nor is this debt to be paid to nature, but to justice ; otherwise dying would be as easy as sleeping, or any other natural action : But it is beyond expression terrible to thee, from whose soul the Redeemer has not extracted sin, the monster's sting : And if thou dost not see it now in the most alarming light, it is because either thou imaginest it at a great distance ; or the double veil of rash presumption, and brutish 'stupidity, is yet upon thy hardened heart.
Or wilt thou, as the poor heathens, comfort thyself with the cruel thought, that “thou shalt not die alone ?" Alas! dying companions may increase, but cannot take off the horror of dissolution, Besides, though we live in a crowd, we generally die alone: Each must drink that bitter cut, as if he were the only mortal in the universe.
. What must we do then, in such deplorable cir. cumstances ? What! But humble ourselves in the dust, and bow low to the sceptre of divine justice ; confessing that since the righteous God has condemned us to certain death, and in general to a far more lingering and painful death, than murderers and traitors are made to undergo, we are certainly degene
rate creatures and capital offenders, who stand in abso«. lute need of an Almighty Redeemer.
Permit me now, candid reader, to make a solemn appeal to thy reason assisted by the fear of God. From all that has been advanced, does it not appear, that man is no more the favoured, happy, and innocent creature he was, when he came out of the hands of his infinitely gracious Creator? And is it not evident that, whether we consider him as born into this disordered world, or dying out of it, or passing from the womb to the grave, under a variety of calamitous cir. cumstances, God's providential dealings with him, prove that he is by nature in a corrupt and lost estate?
A part, how small! of this terraqueous globe