A MEDITATION OF Life and Death.

Translated with some Alterations out of the works of the Learned and Ingenious Eusebius Nierembergius.

—Agnoscere solis
Permissum est, quos jam tangit vicinia fati
Victuros (que) dii celant, ut vivere durent,
Faelix esse mori— Lucan. lib. 4. pag. 103.

OXFORD, Printed by L. L. for THO. FICKUS Anno Domini 1682.



THO it may seem an un­pardonable peice of im­pertinence, to present a Meditation of Life and Death to a person, whose whole life (as ap­peares by your Angelical conver­sation) is nothing else, yet since it is a subject of such importance that it can never be too much, or too often thought on, I thought [Page] it might not be altogether unac­ceptable to add Meditation to Me­ditation; especially since in this I was sure to hit your serious hu­mour, and entertain you with a dish of your own liking. Life and Death, tho two of the most common things, are yet none of the commonest Subjects in the world. For I believe generally nothing is less thought of; and perhaps for no other reason but because they are so common. I dare not promise you any thing new here, perhaps I might ano­ther, but you I dare not. How­ever I hope you will not blame the barrenness of the Author, but im­pute it to the excess of your own thoughtfulness, the Anticipation [Page] of your Closet. For my own part I was so pleased with a great many sententious Remarks and pithy expressions, which occur in this Discourse, that I thought I might without any Prodigality of time, employ two daies in the Transla­tion of it. But if the product of two daies study can afford you one hours entertainment, I shall think my time could never have been better spent. But not to de­tain you any longer from these, or your own more weighty Meditati­ons, I take my leave of you, with this real and unfeigned protesta­tion, that I am

Madam, Your most humble and devoted Servant

A MEDITATION OF Life and Death.

LIFE in the opinion of most men is the greatest good, and Death the greatest evil. But they are in this, as in other matters of greatest concern most [...]istaken. For rather Life is the great­ [...]st evil, if we don't live well; and Death the greatest good, if you don't lye ill. Neither can you dye ill, un­ [...]ess you live ill. Life if it be not good [...]oes but unfold a larger scene of Vice [...]nd misery; Death if not evil, puts a [Page 2] period to all evil. That wicked men think amiss of Death is no more a wonder, then that a vitiated Palate, disrelishes the sweetest Hony. If it be evil, 'tis to them only who have made it so by an ill Life. There is not one sufficient reason why we should hate Death, but many, why we should desire it. Whether we consi­der it alone, or with its attendants. Whether we c [...]nsider the evils from which it frees us, or rhe good into wch it instates us. If we consider tha [...] it is not evil in it self, nay that it [...] good. Or suppose it were an evil, th [...] would not counter pois [...] the good which it brings, or were i [...] n [...] goo [...] that would [...]old no proportion wit [...] the evil it removes. I know nothing in Life considerable besides an em [...] lous throng of calamitys, whose very multitude overwhelms our fear and which have this only wretche [...] Lenitive to make them tolerable their own commonness, and daily incursion. [Page 3] Twas the opinion of Orpheus that Life was the punishment of Souls, and such a one to, whereby the Living were commensurately bound fast to the Dead. The latter part at least is true, for by Life the pure and eter­nal Soul is Wedded to a Gross and Corruptible Body. Should God on a suddain with his Almighty Fiat speak a man into Being, endow'd with a free and perfect use of his thoughts, and give him an entire prospect of all Mankind, he would no sooner cast a­bout his Eyes, but he would meet with some miserable objects, which would call for his fears. Either he would see some Blind, or some Maim'd; some Lame, some Begging, some Decrepit, some Languishing, some Quarrelling, some commiting Murther, some Mad, and almost all, Weeping. And could he look into the insides, he would find all tormen­ted with Desire and Discontent. Sure­ly such a dismal Scene of things would [Page 4] make him repent of his newly receiv'd Being, and fall in love with anni­hilation. And therefore cunning Nature doth leasurely and thriftily dispence the use of reason to Man­kinde, that we might not startle at the suddain appearance of evils, but by custome might be brought to bear them with less impatience.

A peice of policy much like that of the Emperor, Who Cloister'd up his Son from his Infancy in a Magnifi­cent Apartment, and to keep him un­acquainted with the condition of Mankind, took care that he should never see nor hear any mirerable ob­ject That no Poor, Diseased, or Old man, should ever come in his fight, and that nothing should be said, or done, but what was highly pleasing and acceptable. A vain project to think to keep out Grief with Clois­ters and Walls, to shut the Gate of the Palace against Melanch [...]ly, when the dore of Life stood wide open. The [Page 5] very diversions themselves were an [...]nlet to Sadness, and Melancholy crept [...]n through the Satiety and Fatigue of pleasure. Change is so much an In­gredient of all Human delight, that an uninterrupted state of Joy occasions sadness. Certainly tho the Emperor could keep off all miseries from the Sight of his Son, yet he could not from his Mind; and tho he could se­cure him from other calamities, yet he could find no preservative against desire. His Son began to long and grow sad in an Elysium of pleasures. And what do you think 'twas he desi­red? Not to live so pleasantly. He be­gan to complain of the tediousness of [...]his too indulgent fortune, and Pe­titioned the Emperor to uncloister him from his wretched happiness. A Petition which put his Father to a great streight, who for fear of giv­ing offence to his Son, was fain to al­ter his resolution he had made, never to displease him. He consented to his [Page 6] liberty, but withal took special ca [...] that no sad object might come in h [...] way. He gave order that all Blin [...] Deform'd, Maim'd, Poor, and Old me [...] should be remov'd far off; but ala [...] when was diligence so fortunate as t [...] conceal all miseries? They are s [...] numerous that they cannot be hid [...] much less quite taken away. Powe [...] was here unable to contend with h [...] man infirmity, which in spite of th [...] Emperors endeavours, discover'd i [...] self. 'Twas the fortune of the youn [...] man to light upon a Blind Cripple and a Leper. He startled, and stoo [...] amazed at the strange spectacle, a [...] if he had seen an Apparition. He asked what it was? And when he knew that these were the fruits or human [...] Life, he had his antidote against al [...] the pleasures of it, and took a disgus [...] against Life it self. And that h [...] might have as little of it as was possi­ble, where fortune had possession o [...] the greatest part, he presently re [...]ounc'd, [Page 7] if not his Life, yet the hope of [...], or what is with many of equal value, [...] is Crown and Dignities. He took [...]anctuary at that which is most like [...]eath, obscurity and privacy, where [...]e might enjoy security at least, if [...]ot safety. Now if from such a small occurrence he took such a disgust at [...]ife, what would he have done, had [...]e took a general survey of the world, [...]ad been presented with a Scene of Mortality, Charnel-houses, Sculs, Dead Bones and Worms? Had he ransackd [...]ll the corners of the earth, and seen [...]hose sordid Foundations, on which Life is built, the dedication of our misery celebrated by the pangs of the Mother, and the tears of the Infant. What if he had lookt into our bed Chambers and breasts? He would [...]ave seen us in Tears, Desires and [...]oathings; one bewailing his Wife, [...]n other his Children, one hungry, [...]nother surfeited, one carking for necessaries, another uneasy under [Page 8] superfluities. What if he had see [...] no house without some misfortune in it? What if he had seen all tha [...] were Wracked with the Gout, Ston [...] and other Maladies? What if he had seen all that Languish under Sickness all that were distracted with Cares all that were discomposed with de­sires? This certainly would have prejudiced him against Life, against the World where we so die in miseries and miseries live in us. How glad would he have been to hear of a way of setting himself once more at liber­tie! I fancy he would extol Death a [...] the best invention in the World.

Suppose a man were hedg'd round with a circle of Wild Beasts, her [...] saw a Tigre rushing upon him there a Lyon putting forth his Paw t [...] devour him, and in an other plac [...] a Venemous Serpent hissing at him what would not this man give to purchase a freedom from this assembly o [...] [Page 9] mischiefs? what happiness would he think greater then to be rescued from so many dangers? and will it be a lesse to be snacht from greater evils? we are environd with most furious and impetuous passions, and at all sides assaulted with misfortunes. We are in the midst of a whole Ring of Evils. Some we feel, and fear all. Now we have but one Sanctuary from all these evils, and that's Death.

Were it not for this, there would be no end of our miseries. How comes it to pass then, that we dread that which is recommanded to us by as many Endearments as there are Celamities in Life. One would think danger were enough to recommend security. And there is no other be­sides Death.

And therefore Socrates, after he had took his Deadly Draught offer'd a Sacrifice to Aesculapius the God of Physick, acknowledging Death to be the Catholick Medicin for all Ma­ladies.

[Page 10]I think one of the most rediculous, things Xerxes, ever did in his Life, and which well deserved the reproof of Artabanus, was when having a pros­pect of his Numerous Army from an high Hill he Wept, to think that with­in the compass of an Hundred years they shauld be all dead and gon. He thought it seems, 'twas pitty Men should die so soon. But I think he had more reason to lament the flow process of that Funeral which is ush­er'd along with an age of miseries. Without question if from his high Station he had seen human infelicitys as well as Men, he would have dry'd up his Eyes at the remembrance of that universal remedy; Death, nei­ther would he have feard that, which takes a way all that is to be fear'd. That can be no evil. Which is the only deliverance from evil. Should those who have tried both Life and Death be put to the question which [Page 11] [...]hey would chuse, either to reenter [...]pon that, or to continue in this. [...]one would chuse Life but those [...]ho were most unworthy of it, those [...]ho lived ill. But as for those who had [...]d a good Life, they would never [...]epent of Death, or desire to return [...] Life again, which they would dread [...]ore now they were dead, then they [...]d Death when they were alive. [...] is said of Stanislaus, a Man of [...]eat Integrity and Constancy, that [...] gave one the Option of Life or [...]eath, who told him he had rather [...] again then live again. So that one [...]fe was enough to Cloy him, whereas [...]eath would endure a second trial.

If Souls Subsist as Origen, Plato, [...]rmes, and many of the antient Phi­ [...]sophers would fain make us believe [...]fore their Imprisonment in the [...]omb, one would think they should [...]auseat their putrid and narrow con­ [...]ement, where they are almost Sti­fled [Page 12] in Seminal impurities, and mat [...] rial Concretions. Especially if should be told them that they must [...] mued up 9 Months in this dark P [...] son, and then above Ten years mo [...] in the darkness of ignorance and e [...] rour. Add to this. If they knew t [...] many Labours and Hardships th [...] were to undergo, wherein they wo [...] tast the miseries of Life before th [...] knew what it was to live. The Infa [...] serves an Apprentiship of misery fro [...] the very Cradle. The avoidance Hunger makes him breake Prison the first. He goes out according Hippocrates, to Seek his living abro [...] when there is a dearth of provision home. And then falls out of one [...] sery into an other, which is wor [...] What if he could peep out throug [...] Crany of his Prison, and see all [...] Miserable, Languishing and Decrep [...] Wretches that are in this great H [...] pital the World? He would s [...] back from the sight of so many ev [...] [Page 13] much less hazard the enduring of [...]hem. Plato ascribes the suspension of reason in Infancy, and the errone­ousness and ficleness of Youth, to that Consternation and fright which seises [...]he Soul at the instant when she is [...]hrown down from her Orb of light [...]nto this Vale of misery, this dark [...]ncooth Dungeon of the World and [...]he Body. Again what if he knew [...]hat the most lightsome and pleasant part of his Life was most subject to [...]ears, and that the flower of his age must wither in perpetual vexation, [...]hat he must always live in a slavish dread of the Rod, and have his most [...]iery jubilees sour'd and allaid with [...]he awe of a Schoole-master? Again what if he knew that that part of Life, which is most desired is most Calami­ [...]ous?

Multa senem fragilis vexant incōmoda carnis.
Nam macie turpi tabescunt languida membra
Tunc Genuum juctura riget venas (que) per omnes
[...]llius in toto frigescit Corpore Sanguis.
[Page 14]Sic bacculo nitens artus sustentat Inermes
Quid tristes memoreē gēitus? quid taedia menti [...]
Somnus abest oculis—

Add to this the train of disease which then troop in togather. Fo [...] old age is the Sink of Life. Here is a Stagnation of all filth. The Autumn of our Life is the Spring of our Infir­mitys. Well may the Old man stoop when his burthen is so great. But [...] think Nature deals kindly with us i [...] this, that she banishes all pleasure from Old age, and summons in grief of all Sorts. That so we may be th [...] more willing to quit the Stage, and after the heat and toil of a tedious day to refresh our selves in the shades o [...] Death. What a deep Tragedy now i [...] Life, which begins and ends in mise­rie? I now no longer wonder at Isis for saying in his Sacred book that th [...] Souls were all in Sadness when they understood they were Condemned t [...] enter Bodies. [...] [Page 15] [...], saies he. And Camephes thus describes their com­plaint. [...], &c. ‘What have we poor Creatures done amiss to deserve this punishment, to minister to a cold and humed Body? Our Eyes shall no lon­ger see the divine Souls, since they are now streightned within little Orbs and Humours. But as often as we shall look up to our Native Heaven we shall figh, and some­times we shall not be able to see so much as that. For we poor Crea­tures are condemn'd, neither have we an absolute power of sight, but dependent upon the Light of the Sun. Distance of place intercepts our sight; and we shall hear our cognate sou [...]s pittifully sighing in the air for want of our company. Now we are no company for them. Now instead of the high Arch of Heaven, our house must be the narrow com­pass of an heart. O if any one would [Page 16] loose us, from what, to what would he translate us! But thou O Lord, Fa­ther and Creator, who so easily neg­lects thy workmanship, set us some bounds, and vouchsafe to converse with us tho never so little while we are here below.’ The souls Petitio­ned Death as a solace of life, and since 'twas their doom to live in the body at least at length to die. Next to not living at all, nothing was more desi­rable then to die speedily. So far is Death more eligible then life.

There is not one part of life desi­rable to a considering person, because there is not one part free from sorrow and dissatisfaction. And therefore as a Traveller tired with going up a rough and steep Hill, is forc'd to stand still many times to recruit and take breath, that he may with the more ease perform the remainder of his journey: So the Pilgrim-Soul in this rough and uneven Life, wants the rest [Page 17] and pause of Death. whence she may gather a new supply of strength for the progress of Eternity. Our jaded Life will not carry us through in one continued course to Immortality. Such along journey cannot be per­form'd without resting by the way. The Grave is our Inn, & from thence we set out for Immortality. Neither indeed can we stay so long till the pause of Death. We must have ma­ny intervals of rest, as wearied Tra­vailers which bait oft by the way and and defer not their refreshments till they take up for all night. The impor­tunity of our labours & troubles com­pel us to stop upon the Road before we take up our quarters in the Grave. What else are the constant returns of Sleep, but the pause and reparati­on of wearied and languishing life? So much is Death better than Life, that our Life is sustain'd by Deaths; Our Immortality depends upon Death, and our state of Mortality [Page 18] upon Sleep the Image and Shadow of it.

Now to compare Death with Life. If that be the repast of this, it will consequently be pleasant. Or altho it be not Sweet in it self, yet the trou­ble of Life will make it so. Weari­ness prepares the pleasure of rest, and whatsoever succeeds Bitterness is Sweet. 'Twas well said by Charidemus that Pleasures and Grievances were linkt together in a Chain, inter­changably succeeding one another, so that the succeding pleasure would b [...] proportionable to the proceding grie [...] viance. Now what greater grieviance then our Mortal Life, and consequently what greater pleasere the Death? Phalaris said that Life is therefore pleasant because we know of n [...] greater evil then Death. But h [...] speaks the Sense of the vulgar, an [...] yet to the discredit of Life too, find it must be beholding to an evil to recommend [Page 19] it. I should rather have said. That Death ought to be thought pleasant because there is no greater e­vill then Life. And yet we are flat­ter'd on by the emergent happiness of some men. But why do we look up­on those who have escaped shipwrack? We should rather consider those that are drown'd. These are innumerable, and yet are thought few, because they don't appear.

Let not now the Tears shed at Fu­nerals be alleadg'd against what has been said. This depends all upon the opinion of the vulgar. And indeede e­very one laments rather himself, then him whom he call's dead. I say do not alleadg the Tears of others, you may your own. 'Tis a mans own thinking which makes him either happy or miserable. What argument is it for the preference of Life before Death, that others weep When you die, if when you are born you your self weep? 'Tis a [Page 20] folly to rate our miseries by other mens opinions. Contrary circumstan­ces attend our Death and Nativity. At the Birth of a man others rejoice, but he himself weeps, at his Death o­thers weep, but he will rejoice, unless his Death be imbitter'd by an ill Life. Neither are we to think this gladness the less, because calm and inward, and not so obvious to the sense. The In­fant that wept at his Birth, by sleep learns to smile says St. Austin. He de­dicates the Image of Death, with a smile, who begins his Life with Tears. A notable presage of the miseries of Life, and of the happiness after Death. Weeping is narural, we need no teaching to dissolve in Tears; joy is a difficult Lesson, slowly learnt, and not without Discipline. 'Tis one of the precepts of Seneca, learn to re­joyce. Sleep gives us a sip of joy, but Death the full draught. Greif and Misery are Natural and Born with us, but joy advances more leasurely. For [Page 21] we may credit Avicenna, the Infant has no sense of joy till after the For­tieth day. The reason therefore why others weep at thy Death is because they never made trial of it, and the reason why they rejoice at thy Birth, is because they are not to live your life. You alone, who can best presage human condition, refuse it with Tears, which are the language of unwilling nature.

And as the Ceremonies of our Birth are contrary to those of our Death, so is the condition of the one contrary to that of the other. Death either in­verts or restores all things. Or rather restores by inversion. For the inversion of things that are upside down, is the way to set them right. 'Twas a Funeral Ceremony in use among the T [...]biten­ses to turn their garments inside out­ward. Death it self is term'd a change, and 'tis our last and greatest, for all be­yond it is a State unchangeable. The [Page 22] change is from confinement to liberty, from Time to Eternity, and (unless it be our own fault) from misery to hap­piness.

Fortune is commonly prefer'd be­fore Life. How many are there who prodigally throw away their Lives in the pursuit of a Kingdom! But is there any proportion between Fortune and Happiness, between a speck of Ground, a Point, and the Kingdom of Heaven? Death adds so much to our happiness as it cuts off from our Life. Before present admission into Heaven was procured, long Life was proposed as a reward to the good Pa­triarchs; but now when there is an im­mediate access to the joys of Heaven

We falsly think it due unto our friends,
That we should greive at their untimely ends,
'Tis envy now to mourn their early, fate,
He only dyes untimely, who dyes late.

[Page 23]And yet we are not sufficiently in­ [...]amour'd with those Glories which Death leads us to. Somtimes we cast some faint longings that way, and tho oppressed with miseries, are not yet enough desirous to be rid of them. The miseries of Life make us wish for Death, but yet

Distrust and darkness of a future State
Make poor mankind still fearful of their fate
Death in it self is nothing, but we fear
To be we know not what, we know not where

We would somtimes be dead, but are unwilling to die. Or if under the pressure of some Pungent calamitie we passionately court Death, the Fit is no sooner over, but we repent of our best Wish, like the Man in the Apologue, who languishing under his burthen threw it down and invo­ked Death, but when it came and demanded his business he told it 'twas to help him up with his bur­then.

[Page 25]So apt are those to hug their miseries who hope for better exchange We are tired with out Toil and Labour, and yet we resume the burthen

What Hungry man that stood on a barren bank, where there was no hope to relieve his Appetite, an [...] saw at the other side of the Rive [...] Trees laden with delicious Fruit would be grived to hear of a Brid [...] or be afraid to be row'd over in Boat, chusing to starve on the bank then hazard himself on the River [...] O the unaccountable folly of Men We commit our selves to the perfidious Ocean inquest of Gold, which lie at the Suburbs of Hell and yet we ar [...] loth to be Transported into our Celestial Country, to the Glories of eternity. Suppose there were no necessity of dying, but that every on [...] had the disposal of his own destinie yet he were a fool who would no hazard the attainment of felicity by [Page 25] Death, and had rather live alwaies in a state of miserie then by dying to end it. 'Tis a great folly to fear that which we would wish for, were there no such thing. Much more then should we bear Death patiently now 'tis necessary. The popular argu­ment why Death ought to be born patiently is because 'tis a necessary e­vil. Here is a true consequent but a fals principle. For rather Death is a necessary good. However if an evil, requires patience on the Score of ne­cessity, much more does a necessary good. Death as good, calls for our joy, as necessary for our submission. That is certainly a very great good which puts us out of the reach of mi­serie, which frees the Captive without a Fee, which restores the Exile to his Country, without fear of returne,, which sets at liberty the Slave, with­out the consent of his Master, which cures the Sick, without a bitter Poti­ [...]n, which redresses all the defects of [Page 26] fortune, and unequal dispensations of providence. 'Twould have been a less errour if they had drawn an ar­gument from necessitie to bear Life patiently, for that more deserves the name of a necessary evil. For 'tis that which thrust you into evil without your election, and then Wheedles you into evil with your own Con­sent. 'Twas cunningly contriv'd by Nature that Souls should be unknow­ingly Immers'd in the Body, and cast blindfold into such a sordid Dun­geon. For who that is in his right will, at the last Gasp, would if he might reenter the Prison of his Moth­ers Womb, be nourished with filth, be deprived of light so many Months, and of sense so many years; run a­gain the gandelope of Fortune, re­sume the senslesness of Infancy, the Fears of Child-hood, the Dangers of Youth, the Cares of man-hood and the Infirmities of Old age? I believe never any man had a life so happy, as [Page 27] to be willing to live it over again: Certainly if Life were offerd to us without the condition of Death, what ever Happiness it promised else, it were to be refused.

The likeness that is between Death and Good, is enough to take a way all Suspition of its being evil. None live more happily thë those who most resemble the Dead. Death is the Idea and rule of the best Life. The grea­test perfection of Life is to imitate Death, as every Heroical Person does when he abstracts his Mind from his Body, holds no commerce with his Senses, and Weds himself to the Divi­nitie. On what account do you think 'tis that Sleep is often priviledgd with Visions and Revelations? God Loves and Honours the Image of Death.

Ecstacie and Abstraction from Communication with the Bodie is one of the waies of Oracle, & I Prophecie. The Mind which is disengaged from [Page 28] the Senses is the more capable of Di­vine infusions.

Besides what is Philosophy but the meditation of Death? And why not? Since the fruit of Philosophie is ver­tue, and vertue is the imitation, or incoation of Death. 'Tis the principal artifice of Philosophie to make Life pleasant by the imitation of Death, and Death by conformity of Life. The moral Death smooths the passage for the natural. The separation of Soul and Bodie is intolerable to him who has not disengaged himself from his passions, but must swallow down the bitter Potion of Death all to­gether. Our very Meat would Choak us if we did not Mince and Chew it, and Eat it peice by peice. Death if taken by degrees will be gust­ful and wholesome; if we lop of one Passion to daie, an other to morrow. There a test weight is portable, i [...] born by parts. Philosophy is an anti­cipation [Page 29] of Death which by daily Substra­ctions lessens its weight. What wonder is it if Death be insupportable to him who under goes a great many Deaths in one? The loss of one thing as of Honour, Pleasure, or a Friend, is enough many times to wound us to the Heart, what a Grief will it then be to loose all our Life in one moment? And therefore the Soul of a Wise man disengages it self from the Bodie by degrees, that it may converse with it self and God. She finds that she reasons more clearly, when withdrawn from the hurry of the Senses, and that she must retire a while from the Contagion of the Flesh, if she will speculate a refined truth. Truth is a pure thing and cannot be beheld but by a clarified and spiritua­lized Sight.

Therefore the whole studie of ver­tue consists in a separation of the Soul from the Bodie, and in near approa­ches to Death, which for that very teason [Page 30] it loves, or at least less fears. How can he fear Death, who by dy­ing lived well? Who divested him­self of more then Death can? Who has already drained all its force? Will he, who all his Life time endeavored to Sequester himself from his Bodie, draw back when he is just about compleatly to enjoy his Wish? No Man will be troubled if what he hath a long time been labouring in vain to ef­fect, be at last done by another, Na­ture finishes that by Death which vertue had begun in Life.

The affinity between Death and Vertue may be farther illustrated from the exhibition of honour. For as vertue becomes Majestick from the resemblance it has of Death, so it commands reverance to be given to others as Death does. What can be more venerable then that for whose sake the most Wicked are not evi [...] spoken off. For as ill Men for the [Page 31] very awe and honour of Vertue will not own them selves so; assuming to themselves some imaginarie excellen­cie, so for the reverence of Death we spare those that have been evil, nay scarce ever name them without some commendation. So venerable is Death that it procures respect to the most contemptible. We are apt to praise him when dead, whom we en­vied when a live. according to that of Minermus [...]. Envy stops short of this side of the Grave Every one speaks honorably of the dead. And what do you think is the ground of this esteem? 'Tis the current Philosophie even among the Vulgar to take them for happy which are exempted from the calamities of this Life. And all happiness is hono­rable. Neither is this honour given to the Soul only, but also to the Bo­die, tho now under the most vile cir­cumstances. How awful is the sight [Page 32] of a Coffin! With what Majestie does it ly! What lectures of Morality does it suggest! We are not so composed in the presence of a King, as at the Sight of a Corps. Nay 'tis not only Venerable but Sacred; The Honour of Burial is become a part of Religi­on.

Another reason of the Goodness of Death, may be taken from the whol­some influence it has on our Lives. The Death of others profits us who see it, and our own profits them that Celebrate it. And certainly the best Philosophie is, to season our whole Lives with the meditation of Death. And therefore to this end Nature supplies us every Moment with Emblems of Death. The Cheif­est of which is Respiration. We live by little Essays of Death, and Re­tain our Spirit by continual emissions of it. Nay that which most of all dis­pleases us in Death, the certainty of [Page 33] the thing, and the uncertainty of time, and manner, is of great use to us. I take this mixture of certainty and un­certainty to be one of the most inge­nious Stratagems (I may so speak) of divine providence for the gover­ment of Man kind. God would have us alwaies good, and consequently alwaies uncertain of certain Death. So that hereby Care is taken that the lateness of Death may not be an in­ducement to security, nor the sud­dainness to despair of reformation. But that the possibility of each may make Men careful, but not desperate. The possibility of a speedy Death al­lievates the labours of Life, and pre­vents the delayes of vertue. For if a Man would be troubled if he knew he had but one Month more to live, how dares he laugh and neglect his duty, who knows not whether there re­mains a day, an hour? The World was never more vitious then when Men were longest lived. Then 'twas [Page 34] that nature required an expiation by Waters. And therefore I think Theo­phrastus, was very unreasonable to complain of nature because she had granted to some Brutes, a lease of Life for above Five Hundred years, whereas the Life of man the most ex­cellent of all her works was so brittle and short. He erred both in his de­sire and in his judgment. 1 For wish­ing for so many years, and 2 For thinking that Life whose measure is action and not daies, was to be reck­oned by them. The time and manner of our Birth have some certainty, but there is no set manner of dying.

'Twas a Favour to set open more passages for a flight from, then for an entrance into evils. 'Tis therefore possible you may die at all times, that should live well at all times, that you should not live in that State which you wou'd be affraid to die in.

The easiness or frequent contin­gency of Death is no small commen­dation of it. Our Body and Soul are ill match'd they are so easily divorc'd. There is no creature of so frail a con­stitution as man. He falls by the least accident, and shakes off his ill-suted Body. Fabius, was choaked with an Hair, Anacreon, with a Grape-stone. Baptista Mirandulous, died of the ve­ry fancy of a Wound. Honour kill'd Clidemus, exultation of Spirit Diago­ras, Laughter Philemon. Life is so frail a possession, there is no need of violence, the very blandishments are enough to shake it. We receive our Life through difficulties, enjoy it with difficulty, and keep it precariosly. Any one may deprive us of Life, but no body can keep Death from us. That's as free to a Slave as to a Prince. The Emperor Leo imposed a Tax upon Births, but never was such a Burthen put upon Death; The Infant was tax'd at his entrance into [Page 36] the world, but 'twas ever free to die.

Do you lament the unseasonable­ness of Death? All Death is season­able to every age. It rescues Old age from misery, Youth from vice, and In­fancy from both. It gathers old men as ripe, turns the Blossom of youth in­to Fruit, and compendiously ripens infancy. If thy Death could be put off a little longer, what advantage will it be in thy accounts of nature or hap­piness? They that 3000 years agon died unwillingly, and stopped Death Two daies or a Week, what is their gain? Where is that Week? And yet poor spirited Mortals use arts of pro­traction, like the miserable Sinners at Noab's Flood. The waters drove them out of their lower Rooms, then they crept up to the Roof, having lasted half a day longer, they knew not how to get down. Some crept up to the top branch of a Tree, some climb'd up to a Mountain, and linger'd [Page 37] it may be Three daies longer. But all that while they endured a worse torment then Death; They lived with amazement, distracted with the ruines of mankind, and the horrour of their own approaching Death.

Another thing which commends Death is, that it cannot be repeated. Tho some think that an unhappiness, hoping to mend that in the second Death, which went amiss in the first. All other afflictions are not so civil and courteous. They are importu­nate in their visits, come and go a Thousand times over. Death will not be troublesom, comes but once. But why would you have it repeated? To know by experience what 'tis to dy? Neither do you want that convenien­cy. The fates are ingeniously con­trived. Tho Death comes but once; yet it does not come all at once. It insinuates it self by degrees, makes several preliminary Essays. Childhood [Page 38] Death of Infancy, Youth the Death of Childhood, Manhood of youth, old age of manhood. The last Moment is but the consummation of what the first began. You may know Death by her retinue, shedding of Teeth, trembling of Joynts, grey Hair, bald­ness &c. You cannot live a day with­out the tast of it. All succession of time, all the changes in nature, all va­rieties of light and darkness, every creature does preach our Funeral Ser­mon, and calls us to look and see how the old Sexton time throws up the Earth, and digs a Grave, where we must lay our sins or our sorrows. Sleep which is the Image of Death we daily experiment. Wee desire it, we are refresh'd by it, 'tis the end of our lab­ours, the deposition of our cares, the reparation of the man. Now the Image is never so excellent as the Prototype. If we love the shadow, why do we hate the substance? Nature in­tended Death as the comfort and [Page 39] support of Life, and therefore least the delay of so great a good should make us impatient, has left us its im­age to solace our selves withall for the persent.

But suppose after all this, that all Death were evil and dreadful. Why then do we not care for that which we profess we fear? Why do we neglect that which we do not contemn? If it be evil, why don't we prepare for it? We make provision against other dan­gers tho contingent; we arm our selves against Casualties. Why do we not make preparation against that which we know to be necessary? There is a great difference betwixt contempt and neglect of Death. None provide more against it, then those who con­temn it; none fear it more then those who neglect it; and what is more strange don't only therefore fear it, be­cause they have neglected it, but neg­lect it even while they fear it. Who [Page 40] would think it possible that Men could be guilty of such incompara­ble Sottishness, who know that the only Security of Life is the assurance of an happy death, and that the only assurance of an happy Death, is the testimonie of a good Life.


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