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temperance of his meat, or the deluge of drink : and he hath obtained this favour of God, that his soul hath suffered a less imprisonment, and her load was sooner taken off, that he might, with lesser delays, go and converse with immortal spirits : and the babe is taken into paradise, before he knows good and evil. (For that knowledge threw our great father out, and this ignorance returns the child thither.) But (as concerning thy own particular) remove thy thoughts back to those days in which thy child was not born, and you are now, but as then you was, and there is no difference, but that you had a son born: and if you reckon that for evil, you are unthankful for the blessing; if it be good, it is better that you had the blessing for awhile, than not at all; and yet, if he had never been born, this sorrow had not been at all". But be no more displeased at God for giving you a blessing for awhile, than you would have been if he had not given it at all; and reckon that intervening blessing for a gain, but account it not an evil; and if it be a good, turn it not into sorrow and sadness. But if we have great reason to complain of the calamities and evils of our life, then we have the less reason to grieve, that those whom we loved have so small a portion of evil assigned to them. And it is no small advantage, that our children dying young receive : for their condition of a blessed immortality is rendered to them secure by being snatched from the dangers of an evil choice, and carried to their little cells of felicity, where they can weep no more. And this the wisest of the gentiles understood well, when they forbade any offerings or libations to be made for dead infants, as was usual for their other dead; as believing they were entered into a secure possession, to which they went with no other condition, but that they passed into it through the way of mortality, and, for a few months, wore an uneasy garment. And let weeping parents say, if they do not think, that the evils, their little babes have suffered, are sufficient. If they be, why are they troubled, that they were taken from those many and greater, which, in succeeding years, are great enough to try all the reason and religion
Itidem si puer parvulus occidat, æquo animo ferendum putant ; si verò in cunis, ne querendum quidem ; atqui hoc acerbius exegit natura quod dederat. At id quidem in cæteris rebus melius putatur, aliquam partem quàm nullam attingere. Senec.
which art, and nature, and the grace of God have produced in us, to enable us for such sad contentions? And, possibly, we may doubt concerning men and women, but we cannot suspect, that to infants death can be such an evil, but that it brings to them much more good than it takes from them in this life.
Death unseasonable. But others can well bear the death of infants : but when they have spent some years of childhood or youth, and are entered into arts and society, when they are hopeful and provided for, when the parents are to reap the comfort of all their fears and cares, then it breaks the spirit to lose them. This is true in many; but this is not love to the dead, but to themselves; for they miss, what they had flattered themselves into by hope and opinion: and if it were kindness to the dead, they may consider, that, since we hope he is gone to God and to rest, it is an ill expression of our love to them, that we weep for their good fortune. For that life is not best which is longest : and when they are descended into the grave, it shall not be inquired how long they have lived, but how well: and yet this shortening of their days is an evil wholly depending upon opinions. For if men did naturally live but twenty years, then we should be satisfied, if they died about sixteen or eighteen; and yet eighteen years now are as long as eighteen years would be then: and if a man were but of a day's life, it is well if he lasts till evensong, and then says his compline an hour before the time: and we are pleased, and call not that death immature, if he lives till seventy; and yet this age is as short of the old periods before and since the flood, as this youth's age (for whom you mourn) is of the present fulness. Suppose therefore a decree passed upon this person (as there have been many upon all mankind), and God hath set him a shorter period; and then we may as well bear the immature death of the young man as the death of the oldest men : for they also are immature and unseasonable in respect of the old periods of many generations. And why are we troubled, that he had arts and sciences before he died? or are we troubled, that he does not live to make use of them? The first is cause of joy, for they
· Juvenis relinquit vitam, quem Dii diligunt.--Menand. Clerc. p. 46.
are excellent in order to certain ends : and the second cannot be cause of sorrow, because he hath no need to use them, as the case now stands, being provided for with the provisions of an angel, and the manner of eternity. However, the sons and the parents, friends and relatives, are in the world, like hours and minutes to a day. The hour comes, and must pass; and some stay by minutes, and they also pass, and shall never return again. But let it be considered, that from the time in which a man is conceived, from that time forward to eternity he shall never cease to be: and let him die young or old, still he hath an immortal soul, and hath laid down his body only for a time, as that which was the instrument of his trouble and sorrow, and the scene of sicknesses and disease. But he is in a more noble manner of being after death than he can be here: and the child may, with more reason, be allowed to cry for leaving his mother's womb for this world, than a man can for changing this world for another.
Sudden Death or violent.
Others are yet troubled at the manner of their child's or friend's death. He was drowned, or lost his head, or died of the plague ; and this is a new spring of sorrow. But no man can give a sensible account how it shall be worse for a child to die with drowning in half an hour, than to endure a fever of one-and-twenty days. And if my friend lost his head, so he did not lose his constancy and his religion, he died with huge advantage.
Being Childless. But, by this means, I am left without an heir. Well, suppose that: thou hast no heir, and I have no inheritance; and there are many kings and emperors that have died childless, many royal lines are extinguished : and Augustus Cæsar was forced to adopt his wife's son to inherit all the Roman greatness. And there are many wise persons that never married : and we read nowhere that any of the children of the apostles did survive their fathers : and all that inherit any thing of Christ's kingdom, come to it by adoption, not by natural inheritance: and to die without a natural heir is
no intolerable evil, since it was sanctified in the person of Jesus, who died a virgin.
Evil or unfortunate Children.
And by this means, we are freed from the greater sorrows of having a fool, a swine, or a goat, to rule after us in our families: and yet even this condition admits of comfort t. For all the wild Americans are supposed to be the sons of Dodonaim ; and the sons of Jacob are now the most scattered and despised people in the whole world. The son of Solomon was but a silly weak man; and the son of Hezekiah was wicked : and all the fools and barbarous people, all the thieves and pirates, all the slaves and miserable men and women of the world, are the sons and daughters of Noah; and we must not look to be exempted from that portion of sorrow which God gave to Noah, and Adam, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob: I pray God send us into the lot of Abraham. But if any thing happens worse to us, it is enough for us, that we bear it evenly“.
Our own Death. And how, if you were to die yourself? You know you must. Only be ready for it, by the preparations of a good life': and then it is the greatest good that ever happened to thee; else there is nothing that can comfort you. But if you have served God in a holy life, send away the women and the weepers; tell them it is as much intemperance to weep too much as to laugh too much : and when thou art alone, or with fitting company, die as thou shouldest, but do not die impatiently, and like a fox 'catched in a trap. For if you fear death, you shall never the more avoid it, but you make it miserable. Fannius, that killed himself for fear of death, died as certainly as Portia, that ate burning coals, or Cato, that cut his own throat. To die is necessary and natural, and it may be honourable: but to die poorly, and basely, and sinfully, that alone is it, that can make a man unfortunate W. No man can be a slave, but he that fears pain,
or fears to die. To such a man, nothing but chance and peaceable times can secure his duty, and he depends upon things without for his felicity; and so is well but during the pleasure of his enemy, or a thief, or a tyrant, or it may be of a dog or a wild bull.
Prayers for the several Graces and Parts of Christian Sobriety.
A Prayer against Sensuality. O eternal Father, thou that sittest in heaven invested with essential glories and divine perfections, fill my soul with so deep a sense of the excellences of spiritual and heavenly things, that my affections, being weaned from the pleasures of the world, and the false allurements of sin, I may, with great severity, and the prudence of a holy discipline and strict desires, with clear resolutions and a free spirit, have my conversation in heaven and heavenly employments; that being, in affections as in my condition, a pilgrim. and a stranger here, I may covet after and labour for an abiding city; and, at last may enter into, and for ever dwell in, the celestial Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Temperance. . O Almighty God and gracious Father of men and angels, who openest thy hand and fillest all things with plenty, and hast provided for thy servant sufficient to satisfy all my needs; teach me to use thy creatures soberly and temperately, that I may not, with loads of meat or drink, make the temptations of my enemy to prevail upon me, or my spirit unapt for the performance of my duty, or my body healthless, or my affections sensual and unholy. O my God, never suffer that the blessings which thou givest me may either minister to sin or sickness, but to health and holiness and thanksgiving; that in the strength of thy provisions I may cheerfully and actively and diligently serve thee; that I may worthily feast at thy table here, and be accounted worthy, through thy grace, to be admitted to thy table hereafter, at the eternal supper of the Lamb, to sing an hallelujah to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever, Amen.