Sivut kuvina

rational to fear a thing long that will be soon despatched? Long life, and short, are by death made all one; for there is no long nor short life to things that are no more. Aristotle tells us, that there are certain little beasts on the banks of the river Hyparis, that never live longer than a day; that those which die at eight in the morning die in their youth; and those that die at five in the evening die in their extremest age. Who would not laugh to see this moment of life put into consideration of weal or woe? If we compare our longest life to the duration of eternity, or of mountains, rivers, stars, trees, or even of some animals, it is no less ridiculous to talk of it with regret. But nature compels us to it. "Go out of this life," says she, as you entered it, without passion or fear. Your death is a part of the order of the universe; it is the condition of your creation. Death is a part of you; and whilst you endeavour to evade it, you avoid yourselves. The day of your birth is one day's advance towards the grave: you are in death, even whilst you live, dying all the time you live; and death handles the dying much more rudely than the dead. If you have made your profit of life, you have had enough of it; go your way satisfied, and leave others to enjoy it as you bave done. If you have not known how to make the best use of it, and it has been unprofitable to you, why need you care to lose it? To what end would you desire longer to keep it?"

Life, in itself, is neither good nor evil; it is merely the scene of good or evil, as you make it; and if you have lived a day, you have seen all.

This very sun, this moon, these stars, this very order and revolution of things is the same your ancestors enjoyed, and the same your posterity will enjoy. The thing that hath been, is that which shall be. "There is nothing new (says Solomon) under the sun."

You are to give place to others, as others have given place to you. No one dies before his hour; and the time you leave behind is no more yours, than that which was lapsed before you came into the world. The utility of living depends on the improving it; and some will live longer in thirty years than others in sixty. Is it possible you can imagine never to arrive at the place to which you



are continually going? Every journey has its end, and
is yours; but, if company will render it more pleasant, know that
all the world are going the same way, and a thousand men die at
the same moment that you expire.

Death we should prize as the first gift of nature;
As a safe inn, where weary travellers,
When they have journey'd thro' a world of cares,
May put off life, and be at rest for ever;


If 'twere in private, void of pomp and show;
But groans, and weeping friends, and ghastly blacks,
Distract us with their sad solemnity.

The preparation is the executioner;

For death, unmask'd, shows me a friendly face,

And is a terror only at a distance.





Your husband was killed by a cannon-ball, in fighting nobly for his country. He died without a moment's suffering, and all good soldiers envy his death. But I feel sincerely for what suffer. That moment which separates us from the person we love, is terrible; it insulates us from every thing around us, and causes convulsive agonies; the faculties of the soul are almost annihilated; and we scarce perceive, but as in a dream, any connexion with the world. In this situation we think, that did nothing compel us to live, it were better to die. But these first emotions ceas ing, when we press our infants to our breast, tears and sentiments of tenderness awaken nature within us, and we live again for our Buonaparte's Letter to Admiral Bruey's Widow.


Death is not dreadful to a mind resolv'd;

It seems as natural as to be born.

Groans, and convulsions, and discolour'd faces,
Friends weeping round us, blacks and obsequies,
Make death a dreadful thing: the pomp of death
Is far more terrible than death itself.


I have often tried to strip death of its frightful colours, and make all the terrible airs of it vanish into softness and delight. To this end, among other rovings of thought, I have sometimes illustrated




to myself the whole creation as one immense building, with different apartments, all under the immediate possession and government of the great Creator.

One sort of these mansions are little, narrow, dark, damp rooms; where there is much confinement, very little good company, and such a clog upon one's natural spirits, that a man cannot think or talk with freedom, nor exert his understanding, or any of his intellectual powers, with glory or pleasure. This is the earth in which we live.

A second sort are spacious, lightsome, airy, and serene courts, open to the summer sky, or at least admitting all the valuable qualities of sun and air, without the inconveniences; where there are thousands of most delightful companions, and every thing that can give one pleasure, and make one capable and fit to give pleasure to others. This is the heaven we hope for.

A third sort of apartments are open and spacious too, but under a wintry sky, with perpetual storms of hail, rain, thunder, lightning, and every thing that is painful and offensive; and all this among millions of wretched companions, cursing the place, tormenting one another, and each endeavouring to increase the public and universal misery. This is hell.

Now what a dreadful thing is it to be driven out of one of the first of these narrow dusky cells into the third sort of apartment, where the change of the room is infinitely the worst. No wonder that sinners are afraid to die. But why should a soul that has good hope, through grace, of entering into the serene apartment, be unwilling to leave the narrow smoky prison he has dwelt in so long, and under such loads of inconvenience?

Death, to a good man, is but passing through a dark entry, out of one little dusky room of his father's house, into another that is fair and large, lightsome and glorious, and divinely entertaining. O may the rays and splendours of my heavenly apartment shoot far downward, and gild the dark entry with such a cheerful gleam, as to banish every fear, when I shall be called to pass through!

Dr. Walls

What is death, that I should fear it?
To die! Why, 'tis to triumph; 'tis to join
The great assembly of the good and just;
Immortal worthies, heroes, prophets, saints!
Oh! 'tis to join the band of holy men
Made perfect by their sufferings! 'Tis to meet
My great progenitors; they, with whom the Lord
Deign'd to hold familiar converse! 'Tis to see
Blest Noah and his children, once a world!
'Tis to behold-oh! rapture to conceive!
Those we have known, and lov'd, and lost below!
To join the blest hosannas to their King!
Whose face to see, whose glory to hehold,

Alone were heav'n, though saint or seraph none
Should meet our sight, but only God were there!
This is to die! Who would not die for this!
Who would not die, that he might live for ever?

Mrs. H. MORE.

Among all the events which can befal the sons of men, the most awful is that of death; and of all the subjects that can engage the minds of men, the most important is that of eternity. Death and eternity are two things very closely connected; indeed, the one is the result and immediate consequence of the other; for we no sooner pass the confines of death, but we enter into eternity, whose solemn sound pierces the ear, and strikes the mind with an idea that no language can express; and yet how soon does the impression wear off! As long as death is before our eyes, and eternity stands open to our view, we see the vanity of this life, and the infinite importance of the next; but we no sooner withdraw from such an awful and solemn scene, than we get immersed in the business and pleasures of life, which frequently swallow up all just thoughts of death, and destroy all serious thoughts of standing prepared for eternity; and yet, if there be any such thing as wisdom in man, the highest perfection of it must consist in living here so as to be happy hereafter.

Man is composed of two parts, a body and a soul, or a spirit; which two principles are of a different nature, and designed for a

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

different life: the body is corruptible, and subject to death; but the soul is immortal and incorruptible, and can never die. Death, therefore, cannot imply a loss of being, an utter extinction, a total annihilation of the whole man; but implies only a change of state, an alteration in the plan and manner of our existence. The soul has its residence and being in this world by virtue of its union with the body, which is a tabernacle of clay, curiously wrought up, and wonderfully formed, by the wisdom and power of God, to serve as an instrument and vehicle for the soul, during its transitory life.

Now death is a dissolution, a separation of the soul from the body, whereby one falls back again to its original dust, and the other takes its flight into the world of spirits. This dissolution, or separation of the two natures, is the common law of humanity, and unavoidable in our fallen state. The king and his subject, the noble and the ignoble, the saint and the sinner, die equally alike.

We enter at once on a new and unknown state of being-either of endless misery or endless happiness—here time ends, and here eternity begins. An unalterable eternity: solemn thought! where we suffer pain and anguish that knows neither intermission nor end; or enjoy glory and blessedness for evermore!

In short, we are either in heaven or hell; we are either with God and Christ, the spirits of just men made perfect; or with fallen, lost, condemned spirits, bearing the wrath of the Almighty, and suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Death is an

This is no light and unimportant concern, to be thought of when we please, and when we have done how we please. awful event-eternity commences.

The hour must come, the last important hour,

O let me meet it with expecting joy!
Nor let the King of Terrors wear a frown,
Nor bring unwelcome tidings to my soul !
When all the springs of life are running low,
And ebbing fast in death; when nature, tir'd,
Trembling and faint, gropes thro' the gloomy vale,
Nor human aid can give the least support;
Then may the cordials of eternal love


« EdellinenJatka »