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aside religion, as a drunken person does to forget his sorrow; and all the way they dream of fine things, and their dreams prove contrary, and become the hieroglyphics of an eternal sorrow. The daughter of Polycrates dreamed, that her father was lifted up, and that Jupiter washed him, and the sun anointed him; but it proved to him but a sad prosperity: for after a long life of constant prosperous successes he was surprised by his enemies, and hanged up till the dew of heaven wet his cheeks, and the sun melted his grease. Such is the condition of those persons who, living either in the despite or in the neglect of religion, lie wallowing in the drunkenness of prosperity or worldly cares: they think themselves to be exalted, till the evil day overtakes them; and then they can expound their dream of life to end in a sad and hopeless death. I remember that Cleomenes was called a god by the Egyptians, because when he was hanged, a serpent grew out of his body, and wrapped itself about his head; till the philosophers of Egypt said, it was natural, that from the marrow of some bodies such productions should arise. And indeed it represents the condition of some men, who being dead are esteemed saints and beatified persons, when their head is encircled with dragons, and is entered into the possession of the devil, that old serpent and deceiver. For indeed their life was secretly so corrupted, that such serpents fed upon the ruins of the spirit, and the decays of grace and reason. To be cozened in making judgments concerning our final condition is extremely easy; but if we be cozened, we are infinitely miserable.
Of exercising Charity during our whole Life.
He that would die well and happily, must, in his life-time, according to all his capacities, exercise charity *; and because religion is the life of the soul, and charity is the life of religion, the same which gives life to the better part of man,
■ Respice quid prodest prasentis temporis revum;
which never dies, may obtain of God a mercy to the inferior part of man in the day of its dissolution.
1. Charity is the great channel, through which God passes all his mercy upon mankind. For we receive absolution of our sins in proportion to our forgiving our brother. This is the rule of our hopes, and the measure of our desire in this world; and in the day of death and judgment the great sentence upon mankind shall be transacted according to our alms, which is the other part of charity. Certain it is, that God cannot, will not, never did, reject a charitable man in his greatest needs and in his most passionate prayers'; for God himself is love, and every degree of charity that dwells in us, is the participation of the Divine nature: and therefore, when upon o<lr death-bed a cloud covers our head, and we are enwrapped with sorrow; when we feel the weight of a sickness, and do not feel the refreshing visitations of God's loving-kindness; when we have many things to trouble us, and looking round about us we see no comforter; then call to mind, what injuries you have forgiven, how apt you were to pardon all affronts and real persecutions, how you embraced peace, when it was offered you, how you followed after peace, when it ran from you: and when you are weary of one side, turn upon the other, and remember the alms, that by the grace of God and his assistances, you have done, and look up to God, and with the eye of faith behold him coming in the cloud, and pronouncing the sentence of doomsday according to his mercies and thy charity.
2. Charity with its twin-daughters, alms and forgiveness, is especially effectual for the procuring God's mercies in the day and the manner of our death. "Alms deliver from death," said old Tobias"; and ".alms make an atonement for sins," said the son of Sirachv: and so said Danielw, and so say all the wise men of the world. And in this sense also, is that of St. Peterx, " Love covers a multitude of sins;" and St. Clement7 in his Constitutions gives this counsel, "If you have any thing in your hands, give it, that it may work to the remission of thy sins: for by faith and alms sins are purged." The same also is the counsel of Salvian, who wonders, that men, who are guilty of great and many sins, will not work out their pardon by alms and mercy. But this also must be added out of the words of Lactantius, who makes this rule complete and useful; " But think not, because sins are taken away by alms, that, by thy money, thou mayest purchase a hcence to sin. For sins are abolished, if, because thou hast sinned, thou givest to God," that is, to God's poor servants, and his indigent necessitous creatures: but if thou srrmest upon confidence of giving, thy sins are not abolished. For God desires infinitely, that men should be purged from their sins, and therefore commands us to repent; but to repent is nothing else but to profess and affirm (that is, to purpose, and to make good that purpose), that they will sin no morez.
1 Quod expendi habui, Quod donavi habeo; Quod negavi punior, Quod servavi perdidi. » Tob. W. lO.xii. 9. r Ecclus. iii. 30. "Dan.iv. 27. * 1 Pet.iv. 8. Isa.i.17'Lab. vii. cap. 13. 'Eiv t%us ita TM» x"!"" r«v> ^?> "»a izyirn us Xvrotmt afiotgrtuv aov' iXtnfi-offvvoott yag Koo) -TftmtTtv aToxafaip>tvrou afiooprtott.
Now alms are therefore effective to the abolition and pardon of our sins, because they are preparatory to, and impetratory of, the grace of repentance, and are fruits of repentance: and therefore St.Chrysostom affirms8, that repentance without alms is dead, and without wings, and can never soar upwards to the element of love. But because they are a part of repentance, and hugely pleasing to Almighty God, therefore they deliver us from the evils of an unhappy and accursed death ; for so Christ delivered his disciples from the sea, when he appeased the storm, though they still sailed in the channel : and this St. Jerome verifies with all his reading and experience, saying, " I do not remember to have read, that ever any charitable person died an evil death b." And although a long experience hath observed God's mercies to descend upon charitable people, like the dew upon Gideon's fleece, when all the world was dry; yet for this also we have a promise, which is not only an argument of a certain number of years (as experience is), but a security for eternal ages. "Make ye friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." When faith fails, and chastity is useless, and temperance shall be no more, then charity shall bear you upon wings of cherubim to the eternal mountain of the Lord. "I have been a lover of mankind, and a friend, and merciful; and now I expect to communicate in that great kindness, which he shews, that is the great God and father of men and mercies," said Cyrus the Persian, on his death-bed0.
"Agere autem pcenitentiam nihil aliud est quam profiteti et aflirmare se non ulterius peccaturum.
* Orat. ii. de Pcenitentia.
b Nunquam memini me legisse, mala tnorte mortuum, qui lihenter opera charitatis exercuk. — Ad Nepot.
VOL. IV. C C
I do not mean, this should only be a death-bed charity, any more than a death-bed repentance; but it ought to be the charity of our life and healthful years, a parting with portions of our goods thend, when we can keep them: we must not first kindle our lights, when we are to descend into our houses of darkness, or bring a glaring torch suddenly to a dark room, that will amaze the eye, and not delight it, or instruct the body; but if our tapers have, in their constant course, descended into their grave, crowned all the way with light, then let the death-bed charity be doubled, and the light burn brightest, when it is to deck our hearse. But concerning this I shall afterwards give account.
General Considerations to enforce the former Practices.
These are the general instruments of preparation in order to a holy death: it will concern us all to use them diligently and speedily; for we must be long in doing that, which must be done but once': and therefore we must begin betimes, and lose no time; especially since it is so great a venture, and upon it depends so great a state. Seneca said well, " There is no science or art in the world so hard as to live and die well: the professors of other arts are vulgar and manyV but he that knows how to do this business, is cer
o 'Eya/ tptXuvfya/xos lytvofinv, xat vvv ribiats av fio'i ioKu Kottmrtrou Tov tvl^ytrovVTK
d Da dum tempus habes; tibi propria sit mamts hseres; Auferet hoc nemo, quod dabis ipse Deo. o Quod ssepe fieri non potest, fiat diu— Seneca.
'Nullius rei quam vivere di<ficilior est scientia: professores aliarum artium vulgo multique sunt St-near.
tainly instructed to eternity. But then let me remember this, that a wise person will also put most upon the greatest interest. Common prudence will teach us this. No man will hire a general to cut wood, or shake hay with a sceptre, or spend his soul and all his faculties upon the purchase of a cockle-shell; but he will fit instruments to the dignity and exigence of the design: and therefore since heaven is so glorious a state, and so certainly designed for us, if we please, let us spend all that we have, all our passions and affections, all our study and industry, all our desires and stratagems, all our witty and ingenious facultiesg, towards the arriving thither; whither if we do come, every minute will infinitely pay for all the troubles of our whole life; if we do not, we shall have the reward of fools, an unpitied and an upbraided miseryh.
To this purpose I shall represent the state of dying and dead men in the devout words of some of the fathers of the church, whose sense I shall exactly keep, but change their order; that by placing some of their dispersed meditations into a chain or sequel of discourse, I may with their precious stones make a union, and compose them into a jewel: for though the meditation is plain and easy, yet it is affectionate, and material, and true, and necessary.
The Circumstances of a dying Man's Sorrow, and Danger.
When the sentence of death is decreed, and begins to be put in execution, it is sorrow enough to see or feel respectively the sad accents of the agony and last contentions of the soul, and the reluctances and unwillingnesses of the body: the forehead washed with a new and stranger baptism, besmeared with a cold sweat, tenacious and clammy, apt to make it cleave to the roof of his coffin; the nose cold and undiscerning, not pleased with perfumes, nor suffering violence with a cloud of unwholesome smoke'; the eyes dim as a sullied mirror, or the face of heaven, when God shews his anger in a prodigious storm; the feet cold, the hands stiff, the physicians despairing, our friends weeping, the rooms dressed with darkness and sorrow, and the exterior
« Nunc ratio nulla est restandi, nulla facult&s; JEtemas quoniam ptenas in morte timendum.— Lucret. i. 112. h Virtutem videant, intabescantque relicta. 'Nilus.