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And ere Christian enter the chilling wave of the deep unknown, he must be stripped. Death will take from him all his earthly possessions, whether land, or tenements, or that yellow glittering stuff that he was so auxious to hoard up in his coffers-all will be taken from him. This makes death frightful; here the heart-strings begin to break.
Secondly, he will be separated from those whom he esteemed ; those who hovered round the social board-they must now be left; and those, whose voice was as music to his soul; and the offspring of his own body, who had so large a share of his affections-even these must all be left behind him.
And lastly, his own body, upon which so much pains and care has been bestowed, for so many years-that must also be left, as a worthless lump of putrefaction, on the beach: "for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." Nothing will then be left; but the pure naked spirit of "Christian”–
Trembles in anxious doubt, and shuddering stands,
Of future fate, till all the banks of clay
Fall from beneath his feet; in vain he grasps
Attend their sound, when fancy swims in death,
That leads, he knows not where.
That this must be the case with the writer and with the reader, is a law more certain than the law of the Medes and Persians, that altereth not.
Let us, then, for a while indulge our meditations on this sofenn theme, ere death come, and apply his cold band to our eyes, and close the surrounding scene.
The thought of death indulge;
I scarce can meet a monument, but holds
Why the soul and body should be so closely united, "the wisest cannot tell." When man has run out his allotted term of threescore years, or threescore years and ten; he is as loth to quit the scene, as the youth at twenty. Those who are advanced to the end of the register, who have tasted the whole vintage of life, and who have had nought but sour grapes, are still desirous of tasting them over again
To tread their former footsteps; pace the round
The beaten track; to see what they have seen;
The poor, starving on their beds of straw and racked with painthe convict, doomed to hard labour, with his scanty allowance of
bread and water-the prisoner, chained in his cell-and the shipwrecked mariner, grasping the broken spar-all cling to life, afraid to let go their hold, and chance their happiness upon another world.
Sure 'tis a serious thing to die! My soul,
And every life-string bleeds at thoughts of parting.
Perhaps the best means to calm the fear of death is often to meditate upon it. "Death and the hour-glass" are faithful companions. The thought of death is the machine,
The grand machine, that heaves us from the dust,
And rears us into men.
Death is generally defined to be the separation of the soul from the body. It is styled, in scripture language, a departure from this world to another, 2 Tim. iv. 6. A dissolving of the house of this tabernacle; 2 Cor. v. 1. I am going the way of all the earth; Josh. xxiii. 14. A returning to the dust; Eccl. xii. 7. A sleep; John xi. 11. Death may be considered as the effects of sin; Rom. v. 12. Yet, as our existence is from God, no man has a right to take away his own life, or the life of another; Gen. ix. 6. Satan is said to have the power of death; Heb. ii. 14. Not that he can, at his pleasure, inflict death on mankind; but as he was the instrument of first bringing death into the world; John viii. 44. and as he may be the executioner of God's wrath on impenitent sinners, when God permits him. Death is but once; Heb. ix. 27. Certain; Job xiv. 1, 2. Powerful and terrific, called the king of terrors; Job xviii. 14. Uncertain, as to the time; Prov. xxvii. 1. Universal; Gen. v. Necessary, that God's justice may be displayed, and his mercy manifested. Desirable to the righteous; Luke ii. 29, 30. The fear of death is a source of uneasiness to the generality; and to a guilty conscience it may indeed be terrible; but to a good man it should be obviated by the consideration, that death is the termi
nation of every trouble; that it puts him beyond the reach of sin ́ and temptation; that God has promised to be with the righteous, even to the end; Heb. xiii. 15. that Jesus Christ has taken away the sting; 1 Cor. xv. 55. and that it introduces him to a state of endless felicity; 2 Cor. v. 8.
Death but unlocks the adamantine gate,
That barr'd their entrance to a happier state;
They see attendant angels hovering round;
And hear th' eternal hallelujahs sound!
In the natural decline of life our bodily strength fails; the spine yields under its accustomed burden; the whole bulk of the animal system gradually diminishes; the skin loses its former tension, especially in the face and female bosom; the hair is more scanty, harsh, and grey; the external secretions mostly decrease; the fluids tend towards a state of pravation; the blood flows with a laugoid, pace, and the arteries become obliterated at their extreme branches; sensibility is likewise blunted; the organs of vision and hearing. are impaired; the digestion and absorption of nutriment are im peded; the rigid limbs hardly advance with the superincumbent frame; the decayed teeth fall out, from a removal of their bony sockets; the rapid strides of death soon become inevitable, and the veil of eternity is at length drawn aside by complete dissolution.
The signs of decrepitude form a striking picture of weakness, and announce the approaching dissolution of the body. The me mory totally fails; the nerves become hard and blunted; deafness and blindness take place; the senses of smell, of touch, and of taste are destroyed; the appetite fails; the necessity of eating, and more frequently that of drinking, are alone felt; after the teeth fall out, mastication is imperfectly performed, and digestion is very the lips fall inward; the edges of the jaws can no longer approach one another; the muscles of the lower jaw become so weak, that they are unable to raise and support it; the body sinks down; the spine is bent outward; and the vertebrae grow, together at the ap
terior part: the body becomes extremely lean; the strength fails; the decrepid wretch is unable to support himself; he is obliged to remain on a seat, or stretched in his bed; the bladder becomes paralytic; the intestines lose their spring; the circulation of the blood becomes slower; the strokes of the pulse no longer amount to the number of eighty in a minute as in the vigour of life, but afe reduced to twenty-four and sometimes fewer; respiration is slower; the body loses its heat; the circulation of the blood ceases; death follows; and the dream of life is no more.
The separation of the soul from the body has been called, by poets, in the flight of their imagination, by the following fanciful
Last benefit of nature.
Last of comforts.
Period of human action.
Sole, universal monarch.