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Death meets us every where, and is procured by every instrument, and in all chances, and enters in at many doors; by violence and secret rnfluence, by the aspect of a star and the stink of a mist, by the emissions of a cloud and the meeting of a vapour, by the fall of a chariot and the stumbling at a stone, by a full meal or an empty stomach, by watching at the wine or by watching at prayers; by the sun or the moon; by a heat or a cold, by sleepless nights or sleeping days; by water frozen into the hardness and sharpness of a dagger0; or water thawed into the floods of a river; by a hair or a raisin; by violent motion or sitting still; by severity or dissolution, by God's mercy or God's anger; by every thing in providence and every thing in manners, by every thing in nature and every thing in chance0. Eripitur persona, manet res; we take pains to heap up things useful to our life, and get our death in the purchase; and the person is snatched away, and the goods remain. And all this is the law and constitution of nature; it is a punishment to our sins, the unalterable event of Providence, and the decree of Heaven. The chains, that confine us to this condition, are strong as destiny, and immutable as the eternal laws of God.
I have conversed with some men, who rejoiced in the death or calamity of others, and accounted it as a judgment upon them for being on the other side, and against them in the contention; but within the revolution of a few months, the same man met with a more uneasy and unhandsome death: which when I saw, I wept, and was afraid; for I knew that it must be so with all men; for we also shall dieq; and end our quarrels and contentions by passing to a final sentence.
• Aut ubi mors non est, si jugulatis, aqure ?—Martial.
P Currit mortalibus aevum,
Nee nasci bis posse datur; fugit hora, rapitque
Zti/t iSiXjt rttJttau — 77. %. 365.
The Consideration reduced to Practice.
It will be very material to our best and noblest purposes, if we represent this scene of change and sorrow, a little more dressed up in circumstances; for so we shall be more apt to practise those rules, the doctrine of which is consequent to this consideration. It is a mighty change, that is made by the death of every person, and it is visible to us, who are alive. Reckon but from the sprightfulness of youth, and the fair cheeks and full eyes of childhood, from the vigorousness and strong flexure of the joints of ftve-and-twenty, to the hollowness and dead paleness, to the loathsomeness and horror of a three days' burial, and we shall perceive the distance to be very great and very strange. But so have I seen a rose newly springing from the clefts of its hood, and, at first, it was fair as the morning, and full with the dew of heaven, as a lamb's fleece; but when a ruder breath had forced open its virgin modesty, and dismantled its too youthful and unripe retirements, it began to put on darkness, and to decline to softness and the symptoms of a sickly age; it bowed the head, and broke its stalk, and, at night, having lost some of its leaves and all its beauty, it fell into the portion of weeds and outworn faces. The same is the portion of every man and every woman; the heritage of worms and serpents, rottenness and cold dishonour, and our beauty so changed, that our acquaintance quickly knew us not; and that change mingled with so much horror, or else meets so with our fears and weak discoursings, that they who, six hours ago, tended upon us, either with charitable or ambitious services, cannot, without some regret, stay in the room alone, where the body lies stripped of its life and honour. I have read of a fair young German gentleman, who, living, often refused to be pictured, but put off the importunity of his" friends' desire, by giving way, that, after a few days' burial, they might send a painter to his vault, and, if they saw cause for it, draw the image of his death unto the life. They did so, and found his face half eaten, and his midriff and backbone full of serpents; and so he stands pictured among his armed ancestors. So does the fairest beauty changer, and it will be as bad with you and me; and then, what servants shall we have to wait upon us in the grave? what friends to visit us? what officious people to cleanse away the moist and unwholesome cloud reflected upon our faces from the sides of the weeping vaults, which are the longest weepers for our funeral?
This discourse will be useful, if we consider and practise by the following rules and considerations respectively.
1. All the rich and all the covetous men in the world will perceive, and all the world will perceive for them, that it is but an ill recompence for all their cares, that, by this time, all that shall be left, will be this % that the neighbours shall say, " He died a rich man ;" and yet his wealth will not profit him in the grave, but hugely swell the sad accounts of doomsday. And he that kills the Lord's people with unjust or ambitious wars for an unrewarding interest, shall have this character', that he threw away all the days of his life, that one year might be reckoned with his name, and computed by his reign or consulship; and many men, by great labours and affronts, many indignities and crimes, labour only for a pompous epitaph, and a loud title upon their marble; whilst those, into whose possessions their heirs or kindred are entered, are forgotten, and lie unregarded as their ashes, and without concernment or relation, as the turf upon the face of their graveu. A man may read a sermon, the best and most passionate that ever man preached, if he shall but enter into the sepulchres of kings. In the same Escurial, where the Spanish princes live in greatness and power, and decree war or peace, they have wisely placed a pemetery, where their ashes and their glory shall sleep till time shall be no more; and where our kings have been crowned, their ancestors lie interred, and they must walk over their grandsire's head to take his crown. There is an acre sown with royal seed, the copy of the greatest change, from rich to naked, from ceiled roofs to arched coffins, from living like gods to die like men. There is enough to cool the flames of lust, to abate the heights of pride, to appease the itch of covetous desires, to sully and dash out the dissembling colours of a lustful, artificial, and imaginary beauty. There the warlike and the peaceful, the fortunate and the miserable, the beloved and the despised princes mingle their dust, and pay down their symbol of mortality, and tell all the world, that, when we die, our ashes shall be equal to kings, and our accounts easier, and our pains or our crowns shall be less. To my apprehension it is a sad record, which is left by Athenaeus concerning Ninus, the great Assyrian monarch, whose life and death are summed up in these words: "Ninus, the Assyrian, had an ocean of gold, and other riches more than the sand in the Caspian sea; he never saw the stars, and perhaps he never desired it; he never stirred up the holy fire among the Magi, nor touched his god with the sacred rod according to the laws; he never offered sacrifice, nor worshipped the deity, nor administered justice, nor spake to his people, nor numbered them; but he was most valiant to eat and drink, and, having mingled his wines, he threw the rest upon the stones. This man is dead: behold his sepulchre; and now hear where Ninus is. Sometimes I was Ninus, and drew the breath of a living man; but now am nothing but clay. I have nothing, but what I did eat, and what I served to myself in lust, that was and is all my portion. The wealth with which I was esteemed blessed, my enemies, meeting together, shall bear away, as the mad Thyades carry a raw goat. I am gone to hell; and when I went thither, I neither carried gold, nor horse, nor silver chariot. I that wore a mitre, am now a little heap of dust." I know not any thing, that can better represent the evil condition of a wicked man, or a changing greatnessv. From the greatest secular dignity to dust and ashes his nature bears him, and from thence to hell his sins carry him, and there he shall be for ever under the dominion of chains and devils, wrath and an intolerable calamity. This is the reward of an unsanctified condition, and a greatness ill gotten or ill administered.
* Anceps forma bonum mortalibus,
* Rape, congere, aufer, posside; relinquendum est.-t-Martial.
* Annos omnes prodegit, ut ex eo annus unus numeretur, et per mille indig. nitates laboravit in titulum sepulchri Sen.
"Jam eorum praebendas alii possident, et nescio utrum de iis cogitant.—Gerson,
Me veterum frequens
Memphis Pyramidum docet,
Me pressae tumulo lacryma gloriae,
Me projecta jacentium
Passim per populos busta Quiritium,
Et vilis Zephyro jocus p
Jactati cineres et procerum rogi,
Regnorum tacito, Rufe, silentio
Maestum multa monent. — Cas. 1. n. Od. 27.
2. Let no man extend his thoughts, or let his hopes wander towards future and far-distant events and accidental contingencies. This day is mine and yours, but ye know not what shall be on the morrow w ; and every morning creeps out of a dark cloud, leaving behind it an ignorance and silence deep as midnight, and undiscerned as are the phantasms that make a chrisom-child to smile: so that we cannot discern what comes hereafter1, unless we had a light from heaven brighter than the vision of an angel, even the spirit of prophecy. Without revelation, we cannot tell, whether we shall eat to-morrow, or whether a squinancy shall choke us: and it is written in the unrevealed folds of Divine predestination, that many, who are this day alive, shall to-morrow be laid upon the cold earth, and the women shall weep over their shroud, and dress them for their funeral. St. James, in his epistle, notes the folly of some men, his contemporaries, who were so impatient of the event of to-morrow, or the accidents of next year, or the good or evils of old age, that they would consult astrologers and witches, oracles, and devils, what should befal them the next calends: what should be the event of such a voyage, what God hath written in his book concerning the success of battles, the election of emperors, the heirs of families, the price of merchandise, the return of the Tyrian fleet, the rate of Sidonian carpets; and as they were taught by the crafty and lying demons, so they would expect the issue; and oftentimes by disposing their
T 'AdwMrw? S' oi1K tff-rtv, ovo av rvraydyxs
Ti TXvraXov rtiXavr tKUva Xtyofitva.
'AXX' >zv Ktookw;, Tautk xarotXtnJ/Us rt?tv. —
Menand. Clerc. p. 214.
To 5" aSftit Tts oTkt — Anacr. Od. 15.
Quem fors dierum cunque dabit, lucro
Appone llorat. 1. ix. 15.