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blesome friends wrested from the mouth of holy Job, “Miserable comforters are ye all,” Job xvi. 2. For in truth, they not only search the wound to the quick, without applying any healing remedy, but they also tear and widen it, inflame and render it far more painful. Soloog as we have any hope to see an end to our calamities, we take comfort, and arm our minds with constancy. But when we see ourselves plunged into an abyss of misfortunes, without any prospect of getting out, our patience abandons us, and we are overwhelmed with despair. It
, is a lamentable thing to be born to die; but it is far more
a lamentable and mortifying to know that death cannot be avoided, and that all the treasures in the world cannot redeem us from it. He is doubly miserable whose affliction admits no cure.
It is also a false and dangerous maxim, That the comfort of the miserable is to have companions in their misery. Though many thousands drink together of the waters of Marah, they seem no less bitter to the taste; and though thou shouldst burn in a fire where multitudes are consumed, the flames will be no less violent. Thy neighbour'sgrief cannot alleviate thy affliction, his sickness cannot restore thy health, nor his death comfort thee against the approaches of thine own. On the contrary, if thou hast the least feeling of humanity, thou wilt weep for his misery and thine own together; as the great Xerxes, king of Persia, formerly did, when cast
eyes upon his prodigious army, in which there were numberedone million, one hundred thousand men, and reflecting that within an hundred years all those brave captains and soldiers would be rotting in their graves, he was moved with compassion, and burst into tears.
I shall pass by, as not worthy of notice, and foolish, the brutal opinion of those who believe that the souls of men are mortal, and perish with their bodies. This consideration, instead of bringing comfort, casts us into an irrecoverable despair : for next to the torments of hell, nothing can be imagined more dreadful than the being reduced to a state of non-entity.
Neither shall I stay to discuss the doctrines of the Platonists, who have treated of the inmortality of the soul and its happiness after death. They fancy themselves masters of a great deal of subtilty; but their discourses on this subject are so gross and extravagant,
that instead of persuading us of the truth of their opinsion, they expose it to our contempt and ridicule; witness their fond and chimerical description of the Elysian fields. For whatever they have invented of this kind has been ranked amongst the poetical fictions. Those
. imaginary subterraneous gardens contain nothing that may be compared to the divine excellencies, and unspeakable pleasures of the paradise of God.
In a word, search all the rarest and most precious treasures of Heathen antiquity; turn over the writings of the most eloquent orators, the subtilest philosophers, and the inost celebrated poets; examine all the secrets of those great and learned physicians, consider their practice, and all the remedies they prescribe to the soul, and you shall find them too unskilful to perform any real cure. They only charm the disease, and to flatter the wound take away the sense of the pain ; they furnish us with a good exterior, and teach us to set a good face upon the matter ; but they have no true antidote
' agaiost the venoi that destroys the principle of life, por any remedy that reaches to theit heart. As the brooks
that dry up in hot weather, so are all the comforts that flow from the fountain of life ; they vanish away, and dry up to nothing, when deep sorrow, fear, and dismay, have seized upon a sinful soul.
The inventors of the Pagan superstitions seem in some measure, to have been sensible of this truth. For they dedicated temples and erected altars, to all manper of gods and goddesses, not only to the virtues, and to health, but also to vices and diseases; as to fear, cowardice, anger, the fever, pestilence, and an infinite number of others. But not one was dedicated to death; which is an open acknowledgment, that they knew not how to molify death and win its favour. They had no sacrifice nor incense that could appease its fury.They looked upon it as their most cruel and implacable enemy : The very name of death struck them with horror, and was therefore accounted one of their most unfortunate omens.
The emperor Adrian is a convincing proof of what I say. He was one of the greatest princes that ever reigned: He reduced the greatest part of the world to his obedience, and put to death a prodigious number of men; but at last he himself trembled, and was horribly dismayed at the approaches of death. He had conquered the most barbarous nations, and tamed the most savage beasts ; but so far was he from conquering this last enemy, that he had no weapons fit for the encounter. On this occasion he discovered the weakness and inconstancy of his mind, which, without dispute, was far more distenupered than his body. Sometimes he had recourse to magic arts to retard death; and sometimes he endeavoured, with his sword, or with poison, to hasten it. At length he killed himself, by abstaining from the food necessary to support life. He had given laws to all the world, and peace and happiness to his empire ; but he could not govern his own distracted thoughts, nor give repose to his conscience. He was so far from endeavouring to calm the trouble and agitation of his mind, that he shamefully abandoned himself to despair. Heflattered his soul while be bastened its ruin; talking to it in this or the like manner, when his disorder allowed him an easy minute, “My little soul, my " dearest companion, thou art now going to wander in "obscure, cold, and strange places; thou shalt never
jest again according to thy wonted manner; thou shalt " pever afford me any more sport or pleasure.
You'll say, perhaps, that Adrian was a potent prince, but no great philosopher; that he was very well versed in politics, but not much acquainted with morals; and that although he was a perfect master in the art to reign well, yet he wanted the skill to die well. Let us therefore give an example that is liable to no exception, and at once stop the mouth of objection.
Aristotle is generally esteemed to have been the most learned and subtile of all the philosophers that flourished among the Heathens. Accordingly he is styled, The prince of philosophers, The light of the age he lived in, and, The chief and the most precious ornament of his sect. This extraordinary genius expatiated every where; he mounted up into the heavens, and searched into all the excellencies of the earth; he carefully examined all the wonders that appear in creation, and with a surprising facility discovered the rarest secrets of nature. Yet he could never find any solid comfort against the apprehensions of death. Notwithstanding all his admirable subtilties, and profound learning, the terrors of inexorable death so amazed his conscience, that ha was forced to cry out, “ Of all terrible things, death is “the most dreadful."
Of divers sorts of Death with which we are to encounter.
WHEN David had a design to fight with Goliah, and could not make use of the armour of king Saul, he took a smooth stone out of his bag, cast it with his sling, struck the Philistine in the forehead, and brought down this proud giant, who had defied the armies of Israel. We have already examined and tried all the armour of human wisdom and learning, laid up in the store-houses of the greatest wits of former ages; and we have found that they are not able to afford us any assistance in an encounter with death. Let us, therefore, now see whether we may overcome this proud enemy with the sling of our mystical David, with the weapons of our divine shepherd : but, before we begin the resistance, let us look and behold it in the face. The enemy I intend you shall overcome, is a monster with three heads; for there are three sorts of death; the natural, the spiritual, and the eternal.
The natural death is a separation of the soul from the body. Although our body hath been fashioned with the finger of God, it is but a weak and frail vessel made of earth; but our soul is an heavenly, spiritual, and immortal substance; it is a spark and ray of the divinity, and