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poor, not miserable. He sees the covetous prosper by usury, yet waxeth not lean with envy: and when the posterity of the impious flourish, he questions not the divine justice; for temporal rewards distinguish not ever the merits of men: and who hath been of council with the eternal ?· Fame he weighs not, but esteems a smoke, yet such as carries with it the sweetest odour, and riseth usually from the sacrifice of our best actions. Pride he disdains, when he finds it elling in himself; but easily forgiveth it in another: nor can any man's errour in life, make him sin in censure, since seldom the folly we condemn is so culpable as the severity of our judgment. He doth not malice the overspreading growth of his equals; but pities,' not despiseth, the fall of any man: esteeming yet no storm of fortune dangerous, but what is raised through our own demerit. When he looks on others' vices, he values not himself virtuous by comparison, but examines his own defects, and finds matter enough at home for reprehension. In conversation, his carriage is neither plausible to flattery, nor reserved to rigour: but 80 demeans bimself as ereated for society. In solitude, he remembers his better part is angelical; and therefore his mind practiseth the best discourse without assistance of inferior organs. Lust is the basilisk he flies, a serpent of the most destroying venom: for it blasts all plants with the breath, and carries the most murdering artillery in the eye. He is ever merry but still modest: not dissolved into indecent laughter, or tickled with wit scurrilous or injurious. He cunningly searcheth into the virtues of others, and liberally commends them: but buries the vices of the imperfect in a charitable silence, whose manners he reforms, not by invectives, but example: in prayer he is frequent, not apparent : yet as he labours not the opinion, so he fears not the scandal of being thought good. He every day travels his meditations up to heaven, and never finds himself wearied with the journey : but when the necessities of nature return him down to earth, he esteems it a place he is condemned to. Devotion is his mistress, on which he is passionately enamoured: for that he bath found the most sovereign antidote against sin, and the only balsam powerful to cure those wounds he hath received through frailty. . To live he knows a benefit, and the contenipt of it ingratitude, and therefore loves, but not doats on life. Death, how deformed soever an aspect it wears, he is not frightened with : since it not annihilates, but unclouds the soul. He therefore stands every moment prepared to
and though he freely yields up himself, when age or sickness summon him, yet he with more alacrity puts off his earth, when the profession of faith crowns him a martyr. Habington*.
THE DYING MAN. It is a very terrible and amazing thing to see a man die, and solemnly take his last leave of the world. The very circumstances of dying men are apt to strike us with horrour. To hear such a man, ** William Habington, the bistorian and poet, who died in the year 1645.-Editor.
how sensibly he will speak of the other world, as if he were just come from it, rather than going to it; how severely he will condemn bimself for the folly and wickedness of his life; with what passion he will wish that he had lived better, and had served God more sincerely; how seriously he will resolve upon a better life, if God would be pleased to raise him up, and try him but once more ; with what zeal and earnestness he will commend to his best friends and nearest relations a religious and virtuous course of life, as the only thing that will minister comfort to them when they come to be in his condition. Such discourses as these are very apt to move and affect men for the time, and to stir up in thèm very good resolutions, whilst the present fit and impression lasts; but because these sights are very frequent, they have seldom any great permanent effect upon men. They consider that it is a very common case, and sinners take example and encouragement from one another; every one is affected for the present, few are so effectually convinced as to betake themselves to a better course.
COMPARISON BETWEEN A DYING PAGAN AND A
I CONSIDER a Pagan, in his dying-bed, speaking to himself what follows: On which side soever I consider my state, I perceive nothing but trouble and despair. If I observe the forerunners of death, I see awful symptoms, violent sickness, and intolerable pain, which surround my sick-bed, and are the first scenes of the bloody tragedy. As to the world, my dearest objects disappear; my closest connections are dissolving; my most specious titles are effacing; my noblest privileges are vanishing away; a dismal curtain falls between my eyes and all the decorations of the universe. In regard to my body, it is a mass without motion and life : my tongue is about to be condemned to eternal silence; my eyes. to perpetual darkness; all the organs of my body to entire dissolution ; and the miserable remains of my carcass to lodge in the grave, and to become food for the worms.
If I consider my soul, I scarcely know whether it be immortal : and could I demonstrate its natural immortality, I should not be able to say, whether my Creator would display his attributes in preserving, or in destroying it; whether my wishes for immortality be the dictates of nature, or the language of sin. If I consider my past life, I have a witness within me, attesting that my practice hath been less than my knowledge, how small soever the latter hath been; and that the abundant depravity of my heart hath thickened the darkness of my mind. If I consider futurity, I think I discover through many thick clouds a future state ; my reason suggests, that the Author of Nature hath not given me a soul so sublime in thought, and so expansive in desire, merely to move in this little orb for a moment: but this is nothing but conjecture; and if there be another economy after this, should I be less miserable than I am here? One inoment I hope for annibilation, the next I shudder with the fear of being annihi. lated ; my thoughts and desires are at war with
each other; they rise, they resist, they destroy one another. Such is the dying Heathen. If a few examples of those, who have died otherwise, be adduced, they ought not to be urged in evidence against what we have advanced; for they are rare, and very probably deceptive, their outward tranquillity being only a concealment of trouble within. Trouble is the greater for confinement within, and for an affected appearance without. As we ought not to believe that philosophy hath rendered men insensible of pain, because some philosophers have maintained that pain is no evil, and have seemed to triumph over it: so neither ought we to believe, that it hath disarmed death in regard to the disciples of natural religion, because some leave affirmed, that death is not an object of fear. After all, if some Pagans enjoyed a real tranquillity at death, it was a groundless tranquillity, to which reason contributed nothing at all. «()! how differently do Christians die! How doth revealed religion triumph over the religion of nature in this respect! May each of our hearers be a new evidence of this article! The whole, that troubles an expiring Heathen, revives a Christian in his dying bed.
Thus speaks the dying Christian. When I consider the awful symptoms of death, and the violent agonies of dissolving nature, they appear to me as medical preparations, sharp, but salutary; they are necessary to detach me from life, and to separate the remains of inward depravity from me. Beside, I shall not be abandoned to my own frailty ; but my patience and constancy will be proportional to my sufferings, and that powerful arm, which hath