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a cell, and passing our days in barren and unprofitable speculation, in praying and reading, in meditations on death, in solemn exercises of devotion, or in austere penances and mortification. It consists not in visiting the mansions of the dead more than the mansions of the living, and, as it were, wrapping ourselves in a winding-sheet, and all the beauties of nature in the sable garb of woe. It consists not in daily and hourly calling up the fancy to the region of shadows, the land of forgetfulness, the wide dominion of the dead, and making these sad ideas the constant companion of our lives. This would withdraw us from life altogether; and, by indisposing us for its business and enjoyments, would be inconsistent with the true end of our creation, and with the views of that Almighty Being, who has appointed us to a social and busy life.
How ungratefully should we thus act, in closing up those sources of satisfaction and pleasure which our benign Father in heaven has opened and prepared for our use on the earth! how could we then be elated in life? how fulfil its duties? how enjoy its goods and accommodations? how patiently and resolutely bear its troubles! and how soon would both mind and body sink beneath such gloomy ideas, and be immersed in a state of total inaction and insensibility, or in corroding sorrow and grief! No! stich a preparation for death is not suggested to us by reason; such notions of it have no foundation in the word of God. We should, indeed, in pursuance of their advice, never be unmindful of our mortality, frequently consider our latter end, whether in our solitary walks, or in the silent hour of night, and when deep sleep falleth on man, when midnight closes awfully upon all the world, when nothing in nature is awake but God and ourselves, we should ponder upon the terrors of that house which is appointed for all living never entirely banish these serious thoughts from our minds, but make ourselves thoroughly
familiar with them, and by the light of religion divest ourselves of that gloomy terrifying aspect, in which, without celestial comfort, they cannot fail to appear. But we should chiefly
endeavour to preserve such a temper of mind, and to pursue such a course of conduct, as may be consolatory and soothing when we are drawing towards the term of our earthly career, when we stumble on the dark mountains, and when the shadows of the everlasting evening begin to close over our head. This is the best, the safest preparation for death. We should be constantly preparing and making ourselves ready for that momentous event. This may, however, be done without any gloomy anxiety, it may be done with cheerful solemnity of mind; it is consistent with the discharge of every duty, with the enjoyment of every harmless gratification; and it promotes onr present, as well as our future, contentment and happi
To the true Christian, death presents himself as the escort to a superior, better life, as the conductor to greater perfection. To him he appears as the messenger of peace, who puts an end to all troubles and afflictions, to the inconveniences and temptations of life, to all the conflicts with himself and the world, who will lead him to rest, to triumph, to the reward of his fidelity, to the enjoyment of more refined satisfactions and happiness.
To such a man, he brings the gracious summons of his heavenly Father, which calls him from his toilsome and dangerous pilgrimage to his abiding home. Death deprives him of nothing, for which he will not be more than indemnified. Him he separates not for ever from what really merited his esteem and affection. To him he holds out no menace of an austere Judge, -of any punishment of any misery. To his view he unfolds the most brilliant prospects in that kingdom whose foundations are on the everlasting hills, the kingdom of light, of love, of felicity. Him he conveys to the Captain of his salvation, who once died, and rose again from the dead, for him; and who is now Lord of both the living and the dead, and gathers to him all those who have resigned themselves to his guidance, to make them partakers in his life and in his glory.-
Sweet is the scene when Virtue dies,
When sinks a righteous soul to rest;
How gently heaves th' expiring breast!
So sinks the gale when storms are 'o'er ;
So dies a wave along the shore.
Fann'd by some angel's purple wing:
Invidious death! where is thy sting?
A calm, which nothing can destroy;
Which their unfetter'd souls enjoy.
Where light and shade alternate dwell!
Farewell! inconstant world, farewell!
Light, from its load, the spirit flies !
Sweet is the scene when Virtue dies. An old Greek epigrammatist, intending to shew the miseries that attend the last stage of man, imprecates, upon those who are so foolish as to wish for long life, the calamity of continuing to grow old from century to century. He thought that no adventitious or foreign pain was requisite ; that decrepitude itself was an epitome of whatever is dreadful; and that nothing could be added to the curse of Age, but that it should be extended beyond its natural limits.
The most indifferent or negligent spectator can, indeed, scarcely retire without heaviness of heart, from a view of the last scenes of the tragedy of life, in which he finds those, who, in the former parts of the drama, were distinguished by opposition of conduct, contrariety of designs, and dissimilitude of personal qualities, all involved in one common distress, and all struggling with affliction which they cannot hope to overcome.
The other miseries, which waylay our passage through the world, wisdom may escape, and fortitude may conquer; by caution and circumspection, we may steal along, with very little to obstruct or incommode us; by spirit and vigour, we may force a way, and reward the vexation of contest by the pleasures of victory. But a time must come when our policy and bravery shall be equally useless; when we shall all sink into helplessness and sadness, without any power of receiving solace from the pleasures that have formerly delighted us, or any prospect of emerging into a second possession of the blessings that we have lost.
The industry of man has, indeed, not been wanting in endeavours to procure comforts for these hours of dejection and melancholy, and to gild the dreadful gloom with artificial light. The most usual support of Old Age is wealth. He whose possessions are large, whose chests are full, imagines himself always fortified against invasions on his authority. If he has lost all other means of government, if his strength and his reason fail him, he can at last alter his will; and therefore all that have hopes must likewise have fears, and he may still continue to give laws to such as have not ceased to regard their own interest.
This is, indeed, too frequently the citadel of the dotard, the last fortress to which Age retires, and in which he makes the stand against the upstart race that seizes his domains, disputes his commands, and cancels his prescriptions. But here, though there may be safety, there is no pleasure; and what remains is but a proof that more was once possessed.
Nothing seems to have been more universally dreaded by the ancients than orbity, or want of children; and, indeed, to a man who has survived all the companions of his youth,--all who have participated his pleasures and his cares, have been engaged in the same events, and filled their mind with the same conceptions,—this full-peopled world is a dismal solitude. He stands forlorn and silent, neglected or insulted, in the midst of multitudes, animated with hopes which he cannot share, and employed in business which he is no longer able to forward or retard ; nor can he find any to whom his life or his death are of importance, unless he has secured some domestic gratifications, and endeared himself to some whose interest and gratitude may unite them to him.
So different are the colours of life, as we look for: ward to the future, or backward to the past; and so different the opinions and sentiments which this contrariety of opinion naturally produces, that the conversation of the old and young ends generally with contempt or pity on either side. To a young man entering the world, with fulness of hope and ardour of pursuit, nothing is so unpleasing as the cold caution, the faint expectations, the scrupulous diffidence, which experience and disappointments infuse; and the old man wonders, in his turn, that the world can pever grow wiser, that neither precept nor testimony can cure boys of their credulity and sufficiency, and that not one can be convinced that snares are laid for him till he finds himself entangled.
Thus one generation is always the scorn and wonder of the other, and the notions of the old and young are like liquors of different gravity and texture, which never can unite. The spirits of youth, sublimed by health, and volatilized by passion, soon leave behind them the phlegmatic sediment of wariness and deliberation, and burst out in temerity and enterprise. The tenderness, therefore, which nature infuses, and which long habits of beneficence confirm, is necessary to reconcile such opposition; and an old man must be a father, to bear with patience those follies and absurdities which he will perpetually imagine himself to find in the schemes and expectations, the pleasures and the sorrows, of those who have not yet been hardened by time and chilled by frustration,
Yet it may be doubted whether the pleasure of seeing children ripen into strength, be not overbalanced by the pain of seeing some fall in the blossom, and others blasted in their growth; some shaken down by storms, some tainted with cankers, and some shrivelled in the shade; and, whether he that extends his