« ПредишнаНапред »
let us draw the closer together. Let the heart that has been softened by sorrow mellow into gentleness and kindness; make liberal allowance for the weaknesses of others; and divest itself of the little prejudices that may have formerly prepossessed it against them. The greater havoc that death has made among our friends on earth, let us cultivate connexion more with God, and heaven, and virtue. Let those noble views which man's immortal character affords, fill and exalt our minds. Passengers only through this sublunary region, let our thoughts often ascend to that divine country, which we are taught to consider as the native seat of the soul. There we form connexions that are never broken. There we meet with friends who never die. Among celestial things there is firm and lasting constancy, while all that is on earth changes and passes away.-Such are some of the fruits we should reap from the tender feelings excited by the death of friends. But they are not only our friends who die. Our enemies also must go to their long home. Let us, therefore,
III. Consider how we ought to be affected when they from whom suspicions have alienated, or rivalry has divided us; they with whom we have long contended, or by whom we imagine ourselves to have suffered wrong, are laid, or about to be laid, in the grave.
How inconsiderable, then, appear those broils in which we had been long involved, those contests and feuds which we thought were to last for ever? The awful moment that now terminates them makes us feel their vanity. If there be a spark of humanity left in the breast, the remembrance of our common fate then awakens it. Is there a man who, if he were admitted to stand by the death-bed of his bitterest enemy, and beheld him enduring that conflict which human nature must suffer at the last, would not be inclined to stretch forth the hand of friendship, to utter the voice of forgiveness, and to wish for perfect reconciliation with him before he left the world? Who is there that when he beholds the remains of his adversary deposited in the dust, feels not, in that moment, some relentings at the remembrance
of those past animosities which mutually embittered their life?--There lies the
man with whom I contended so long, « silent and mute for ever. He is fallen; " and I am about to follow him. How
poor is the advantage which I now enjoy? Where are the fruits of all our con6 tests? In a short time we shall be laid
together, and no remembrance remain " of either of us under the sun. How many “ mistakes may there have been between “ us? Had not he his virtues and good
qualities as well as I? When we both “ shall appear before the judgment-seat of
God, shall I be found innocent and free “ of blame, for all the enmity I have borne "to him ?” -My friends, let the anticipation of such sentiments serve now to correct the inveteracy of prejudice, to cool the heat of anger, to allay the fierceness of resentment. How unnatural is it for animosities so lasting to possess the hearts of mortal men, that nothing can extinguish them but the cold hand of death? Is there not a sufficient proportion of evils in the short span of human life, that we seek to increase their number, by rushing into un
necessary contests with one another? When a few suns more have rolled over our heads, friends and foes shall have retreated together; and their love and their hatred be equally buried. Let our few days, then, be spent in peace. While we are all journeying onwards to death, let us rather bear one another's burdens, than harass one another by the way.
Let us smooth and cheer the road as much as we can, rather than fill the valley of our pilgrimage with the hateful monuments of our contention and strife.
Thus I have set before you some of those meditations which are naturally suggested by the prevalence of death around us ; by the death of strangers, of friends, and of enemies. Because topics of this nature are obvious, let it not be thought that they are without use. They require to be recalled, repeated, and enforced. Moral and religious instruction derives its efficacy, not so much from what men are taught to know, as from what they are brought to feel. It is not the dormant knowledge of any truths, but the vivid impression of them, which has influence on practice. Neither let it be thought that such meditations are un
seasonable intrusions upon those who are living in health, in affluence, and ease. There is no hazard of their making too deep or painful an impression. The gloom which they occasion is transient; and will soon, too soon, it is probable, be dispelled by the succeeding affairs and pleasures of the world. To wisdom it certainly belongs, that men should be impressed with just views of their nature and their state ; and the pleasures of life will always be enjoyed to most advantage when they are tempered with serious thought. There is a time to mourn, as well as a time to rejoice. There is a virtuous sorrow, which is better than laughter. There is a sadness of the counteNdñcé, by which the heart is made better.