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PRAYER AND MEDITATION,
For a frue Christian, who comforts himself with this
consideration, that Death shall deliver him from Sin, that reigns so much in the world, and from all remains of his wretched corruption.
O MOST gracious High-priest, Holy, innocent, separated from sinners, exalted above all heavens, who art now shining in light and glory; look upon me from thy sanctuary, and have compassion on my wretched state. Thou understandest well the cause of my grief, O Lord, who searchest the heart, and readest my most secret thoughts, that I grieve to see so much injustice and impiety reigning this day in the world; to see vice and wickedness defacing thy holy church. But that which chiefly increaseth my pain, and aggravates my displeasure is, to find myself guilty, and spotted with the
general corruption, and my flesh warring and struggling against the spirit. The lusts of the flesh not only disturb me, but they get many times the victory, and insult over mine infirmities. Sin appears to me, not only in all its hellish deformity, so that I am thereby ashamed of mysell; but I also acknowledge, to the praise of thy grace, that all that is best in me, cannot endure an exact inquisition of thy justice. Alas, niy God! how imperfect is my piety; how languishing is my devotion! I worship thee too much from custom, and in a very slight manner. I often praise thee with my tongue, and honour thee with my lips, whilst my heart is far from thee. The love I bear to thee is not pure and fervent; and my charity, instead of being burning, is quite cold, or lukewarm. I have not a sufficient trust upon thy promises, and upon thy Fatherly care; my hope is not settled, it doth not fill iny soul with heavenly joys and comforts. Thine eyes, O Lord, that see all the secret closets of my heart, and pierce into the depths, are too holy and pure to pass over the sight of evils, and to approve of the ill-favoured features of Satan, yet imprinted in me. Thou discoverest not only my sins, iniquities, and all my evil deeds, but thou also beholdest all the spots and imperfections of my best performances, and of my most glorious acts. My Lord and my God, I am not only grieved to see so much sin in the world, in the church, and in myself, but I am also troubled, that I have not grief enough; that my soul is not sufficiently vexed, as that of righteous Lot; that the zeal of thine house doth not eat me up, as it did the man after thine own heart; that mine eyes are not become a well-spring of tears as those of the prophet; that I am not heartily concerned for thy church, as thine holy apostle; and that I do not sigh and cry, as the servants whom thou didst mark with the letter tau. O wonderful Lord! since it is thy pleasure, wherefore do I not embrace thee with a lively faith, and a sipcere repentance? Wherefore do I not strive by prayers and supplications, to obtain from thee thy most precious blessings, an inward change of myself and spirit, that I may heartily love, fear, and adore thee as thou deservest? O Lord, I find that thou hast not forsaken me, but hast commissioned death to convey me out of this troublesome and sorrowful abode, to destroy all my mortal enemies, my sins and lusts, and advance me to the freedom of thy children. I am not disturbed at the approach of so great a benefactor that rejoiceth my heart, and causeth me to enıbrace and welcome its arrival as thy messenger, sent to draw me out of this Egypt of cruelty and oppression, out of this Babylon of vice and abomination. I am ready, Lord; when wilt thou free me from these chains and fetters of mortality, to ascend up to my God and Saviour, who is ready to embrace me? Dispatch to me some of thy blessed angels who may carry me up to thy holy mountain, to thine heavenly Jerusalem, to thy glorious paradise, where no impurity can be admitted, no serpent to seduce us, nor temptations to prevail upon us, where I shall never offend thee, nor grieve thy Holy Spirit, whereby I am sealed to the day of redemption. O my God! I am weary to hear thy holy name so often blasphemed, and to see so much impiety and wickedness reigning every where in the world. Haste my departure hepce, and the accomplishnient of all the glorious promises of salvation to thy church and people; when I shall behold thy face continually, love thee with a perfect love, and worship thee without disturhance in the society of the glorified spirits and holy angels; when I shall sing forih thy 'praises in heaven, be clothed with the white robes of thy holy martyrs, and with the seraphims attend upon thy magnificenithrone. Omy God! grant that thy holy zeal, kindled in my soul, may serve me as a fiery chariot, and a sacred flame, to carry and hasten me up to thy celestial palace, where thou hast prepared for me an eternal mansion, and a blessed inheritance. Amen.
The tenth Consolation is, the glory and happiness of
oui souls at their departure out of the body. If there were neither punishment nor torment after this life to be feared, the wicked and unbelievers, who prosper in the world, might justly esteem themselves the happiest of all men. And if there were neither glory. nor rewards to be expected after death, the righteous and the faithful, who drink here below, cups full of bitterness and sorrow, would be the most miserable of all creatures. The condition of the beasts would appear niore happy than theirs; for they enjoy in quiet and peace, all the pleasures that their animal nature is able to relish. They are not tormented by so many diseases as vex our bodies; neither do they know the cares and displeasures that consume and fret our minds. They grieve not for the time past, nor trouble themselves with
any apprehensions of the time to come. They never feel the fierce assaults of lust ; they are ignorant of many of those passions that torment and domineer over our souls. All their pains and sufferings vanish with their breath; so that when they are dead, their sufferings have an end. If we make our eyes the judges of these things, we may say, the accident that happens to men and beasts is the same accident ; as the death of one, so is the death of the other. But if we search and examine farther, we shall find more difference than between heaven and earth, between light and darkness : for it is true, that the death of beasts delivers them from the sense of all evils, but doth not introduce them into any real happiness. When it puts an end to their misery, it puts a period to their being, and to all that pleasure and content, which they formerly enjoyed ; for they die without any hopes of living again.
If we look to the wicked and unbelievers, we shall find, that death deprives them not only of their honours, riches, and of all their pleasures, and carnal enjoyments, but puts out their taper in the blackest darkness, and all their greatest delights are lost in a vast sea of bitterness. If death loseth them from the chain of misery, unto which all the children of Adam are tied, if it frees their bodies from the pain of any temporal evils, it casts their souls into eternal torments. But for the virtuous and believing christians, if death is so great a friend to them, because it delivers them from many evils and miseries, it is a greater friend, in regard it opens to them the gate that leads to an endless glory and happiness.
The Son of God had a design to persuade us of this truth, in that remarkable parable of the xvith of St.
Luke's gospel. For at one hand he shews a rich miser clothed in purple and fine linen, feeding upon dainties, and living in much splendour and magnificence ; and at the other he discovers to us a poor wretch, named Lazarus, all covered with sores, lying at the rich man's gate, intreating that he might share with the dogs in the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. The dogs had compassion on him, and licked his sores. At last the poor man died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. U wonderful change! He that was lately a companion scarce good enough for dogs, now solaces himself in the angel's embraces. He that was lying at the gate of a proud and unmerciful wretch, is admitted into the glorious palace of immortality, and reposes himself in the bosom of a charitable and rich Abrahain, where he is satisfied with the bread of the living God, and drinks of the rivers of his pleasures.The rich man died also; but whilst his body was laid in the earth with state and honour, the devils dragged his soul into hell, and cast it into a fire that burns con
a tinually, and that nothing is able to extinguish. Therefore our Saviour represents this damned soul, crying out of hell-fire, Father Abraham, have pity upon me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in these flames. In the next verse our Lord shows, how all the complaints of the danned are fruitless, and their tortures remediless. He wakes Abraham return an answer to this wretched son, My son remember, that thou in lliy life-time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
The heathens have looked upon death as the end of