« AnteriorContinuar »
affections to heaven. One part of myself, and that which I always considered as my most precious treasure is already with thee; and the wings of that divine love with which I feel myself inflamed, transport me thither at every hour and every moment.
. Instead of continuing these vain sighs and fruitless tears for him (or her) whom I cherish with so much affection and tenderness, give me grace, I beseech thee, to prepare for my removal from this earthly tabernacle. Grant that I may imitate the piety, zeal, faith, constancy, and all the holy and heroic virtues of those whom thou hast received into thine eternal rest, and crowned with thy glory. Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his. Amen.
The fourth remedy against the Fears of Death, is, to
wean our hearts from the world. THE children of Israel found no reluctance when they left the wilderness. At the first command which God was pleased to give them for that purpose, they passed over Jordan with incredible joy; the reason of this was, because they dwelt in tents which were easily removed ; and they had been used for many years to sigh after the land of Canaan. Now, death is the same to us, in regard to our heavenly paradise, as the river Jordan was to the children of Israel, in respect to the promised land. Whence it appears, that the only true means to
. reconcile us to this passage, and to make us pass through it cheerfully, is to divest ourselves of every thing that may hinder us, by attaching us to the world, and to hold ourselves always in readiness to depart.
To this end, it is not necessary that we should go out of the world, but that the world should be banished and driven out of us, and that we should renounce all its vanities, and unruly appetites; insomuch that we may be able to say with the Apostle, The World is crucified unto me, and I unto the world, Gal. vi. 14; for
, . there are many persons who withdraw their bodies from the world, but leave their hearts and most tender inclinations behind. As Lot's wife, who went out of Sodom, but left there her treasures and delights, her heart, and most ardent wishes ; or as the Israelites, who, when they went out of Egypt, left behind them their cursed affections, with their flesh-pots and onions.
The same thing happens to many who separate themselves, without any necessity, from the society of men, and affect I know not what strange and austere kind of life. They leave the acquaintance of wise and virtuous persons, and the lawful use of those blessings which heaven hath bestowed upon them. They deprive themselves of every thing that is amiable in the world, and most proper to glorify God, and edify their neighbours ; but many times they carry with them every thing that is corrupt and vicious, legions of wicked thoughts and carnal desires. By this means they give way to the devil, and expose themselves to all his assaults ; for that wicked serpent delights rather in the dens of wild beasts, and the shepherd's cabin, than in the dwellings of princes, and the palaces of kings. The most horrid and execrable sins often breed in deserts and places of retreat rather than in public, and in great cities that swarm with inhabitants. Lot remained chaste in the most abominable city that was in the world ; but when he fled to the foot of a mountain, into a cave, to dwell, he de
tiled himself with a monstrous incest. When Satan intended to tempt the Lord Jesus Christ, he carried him into a desert, and up to the top of an high mountain. Whence we may judge, that this subtle enemy of mankind hath learnt by fatal experience, that the most private and solitary places are the fittest to lay his snares in. If our blessed Saviour, who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, Heb. vii. 26. hath been able to overcome all manner of temptations; we are not of the same temper, neither are we furnished, like him, with armour of proof against all the inflamed darts of the devil : for our miserable flesh delights in its own destruction. It opens both ear and heart to the deceitful promises of Satan, and suffers itself to be cheated by his illusions. It flatters and lulls us asleep in its bosom : and then, like a treacherous Delilah, it betrays us into the hands of our most cruel and irreconcilable enemy.
Some put on shirts of hair and gird themselves with knotted cords, whom the devil drags to hell by the invisible chains of their unruly lusts. Others climb up the tops of frozen mountains, and yet their hearts burn with the most impure fires : while others scorch their bodies in the sun, wliose souls are bathed in all the voluptuous pleasures of the most luxurious cities. Some affect a mournful solitude, and hurry into a desert, whose desires and longings are for the world and its vanities : they live amongst serpents and wild beasts ; and yet their hearts are at the ball, and they themselves are dancing there in imagination with wanton young females. They seem to have their bodies mortified, but their affections are unsubdued. Others have their hands lift.. ed up to heaven, whose minds are enslaved to the earth,
and rooted in the vaiv and filthy pleasures of the age: Some have a lamp burning before them, whose understanding is wrapped in thick darkness, more palpable than that of Egypt. · Others have an empty stomach, whose souls overflow with the most abominable
passions. In short, some live in appearance, like angels, who are possessed with a legion of devils; and others who seem to have no concern with the world, yet lodge the whole world in their hearts.
Under a coarse habit, there sometimes dwells more envy, more vanity, and ambition, than under a gorgeous attire of silk and gold. Through a tattered garment may often be perceived souls swelled with pride and arrogance, and.inany times the designs of kings, and the lofty thoughts of the greatest monarch, are to be found in the equipage of a beggar. To speak plainly, we are not so much attached to the world by the good things of this life, as by the love and affection we bear to them: for without doubt there are many persons who are more earnest for the things they want, than others that enjoy them. Many poor people have a far greater passion for riches than ever Solomon had in the midst of all his mighty treasures. Some silly women, who are covered with rags, nay even some of the basest and most wretched servants, have more vanity and pride in their hearts than ever Queen Esther bad in her rich and most glorious array. The prophet Daniel was exalted to an high and eminent station, being governor of the third part of the vast empire of the Medes and Persians; nevertheless he was no more attached to Babylon than is he had nothing there but a sepulchre, and had worn the chains of a slave. He sends forth as many sighs, and pours out as many tears as if he had been sitting upon the ashes of Jerusalem.
Some miserable beggars are more loth to leave their rags, than sovereign princes to lay aside their purple. Such are more enslaved to their filth and indigenoe, than the greatest monarchs to the glory and splendour of their empires. Death takes as much pains to free men from a prison, and to get them at liberty from a dungeon, as to drive them from a palace, or to pluck them down from a throne. The poor and necessitous who lodge upon the hard earth, make as much resistance as the rich, who are stretched upon the softest down. The unhappy slaves that row in the gallies, are as unwilling that death should loose them from their chains, and free them from their misery, as the most potent kings and emperors are to leave their sceptres and their crowns; and I am persuaded, that David was more ready to quit his kingdom, and all its treasures, than many poor wretches are to depart from their dunghills and their poverty. Some persons are tormented with the gout, the stone, and other grievous and acute diseases; nevertheless they more passionately desire to live than many who enjoy a perfect and vigorous health. Carnal and earthly souls are so much wedded to the world, that they feel an horrible regret, and an unspeakable anguish, when they are to depart from a body rotten and falling to pieces with old age; whereas others, who are more spiritualized, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and the powers of the world to come, Heb. vi. 4, 5, depart most joyfully out of young and vigorous bodies, flourishing in their full strength and beauty.
We must not, therefore, renove our arms and legs out of the world, but our passions and affections. If God bestows his earthly blessings upon us, we are not to imitate the example of that extravagant philosopher, who