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dressed for heaven. None but suffering, humble, and patient persons can go to heaven; and when God hath given us the whole stage of our life to exercise all the active virtues of religion, it is necessary in the state of virtues, that some portion and period of our lives be assigned to passive graces; for patience, for Christian fortitude, for resignation, or conformity to the Divine will. But as the violent fear of sickness makes us impatient, so it will make our death without comfort and without religion; and we shall go off from our stage of actions and sufferings with an unhandsome exit, because we were willing to receive the kindness of God, when he expressed it as we listed; but we would not suffer him to be kind and gracious to us in his own method, nor were willing to exercise and improve our virtues at the charge of a sharp fever, or a lingering consumption. “Woe be to the man, that hath lost patience; for what will he do, when the Lord shall visit him?"
The second temptation proper to the state of Sickness, Fear of
Death, with its Remedies. There is nothing, which can make sickness unsanctified, but the same also will give us cause to fear death, If, therefore, we so order our affairs and spirits that we do not fear death, our sickness may easily become our advantage ; and we can then receive counsel, and consider, and do those acts of virtue, which are, in that state, the proper services of God; and such which men in bondage and fear are not capable of doing, or of advices how they should, when they come to the appointed days of mourning. And indeed, if men would but place their design of being happy in the nobleness, courage, and perfect resolutions, of doing handsome things, and passing through our unavoidable necessities, in the contempt and despite of the things of this world, and in holy living, and the perfective desires of our natures, the longings and pursuances after heaven; it is
m Ecclus. ii. 15.
certain, they could not be made miserable by chance and change, by sickness and death. But we are so softened, and made effeminate with delicate thoughts, and meditations of ease, and brutish satisfactions, that, if our death come, before we have seized upon a great fortune, or enjoy the promises of the fortune-tellers, we esteem ourselves to be robbed of our goods, to be mocked, and miserable. Hence it comes, that men are impatient of the thoughts of death : hence come those arts of protraction and delaying the significations of old age: thinking to deceive the world, men cozen themselves", and by representing themselves youthful, they certainly continue their vanity, till Proserpina pull the peruke from their heads. We cannot deceive God and nature: for a coffin is a coffin, though it be covered with a pompous veil; and the minutes of our time strike on, and are counted by angels, till the period comes, which must cause the passing-bell to give warning to all the neighbours, that thou art dead, and they must be so: and nothing can excuse or retard this. And if our death could be put off a little longer, what advantage can it be, in thy accounts of nature or felicity? They that, three hundred years agone, died unwillingly, and stopped death two days, or stayed it a week, what is their gain? where is that week ? And poor-spirited men use arts of protraction', and make their persons pitiable, but their condition contemptible; being like the poor sinners at Noah's flood : the waters drove them out of their lower rooms; then they crept up to the roof, having lasted half a day longer, and then they knew not how to get down: some crept upon the top-branch of a tree, and some climbed
up to a mountain, and stayed, it may be, three days longer; but all that while they endured a worse torment than death : they
Mentiris juvenem tinctis, Lentine, capillis,
Tam sabitò corvus, qui modò cygnus eras.
Personam capiti detrabet illa tuo.—Mart. I. iii. ep. 43.
Metitur vitam, torquetur morte futurâ.
Θνήσκειν ο μέλλων του χρόνου κέρδος φέρoι.-Soph. Nihil est miserius dubitatione volutantium quorsum eradant, quantum sit illud quod restat, aul quale.-Seneca. I, xvii. ep. 102.
lived with amazement, and were distracted with the ruins of mankind, and the horror of a universal deluge.
Remedies against the Fear of Death, by way of consideration.
1. God having in this world placed us in a sea, and troubled the sea with a continual storm, hath appointed the church for a ship, and religion to be the stern; but there is no haven or port but death. Death is that harbour, whither God hath designed every one, that there he may find rest from the troubles of the world. How many of the noblest Romans have taken death for sanctuary, and have esteemed it less than shame or a mean dishonour? and Cæsar was cruel to Domitius, captain of Corfinium, when he had taken the town from him, that he refused to sign his petition of death. Death would have hid his head with honour, but that cruel mercy reserved him to the shame of surviving his disgrace. The holy Scripture, giving an account of the reasons of the Divine providence taking godly men from this world, and shutting them up in a hasty grave, says, they are taken from the evils to come:” and concerning ourselves it is certain, if we had ten years agone taken seizure of our portion of dust, death had not taken us from good things, but from infinite evils, such which the sun hath seldom seen. Did not Priamus weep oftener than Troilus?? and happy had he been, if he had died, when his sons were living, and his kingdom safe, and houses full, and his city unburnt. It was a long life that made him miserable, and an early death only could have secured his fortune. And it hath happened many times, that persons of a fair life and a clear reputation, of a good fortune and an honourable name, have been tempted in their age to folly and vanity', have fallen under the disgráce of dotage, or into an unfortunate marriage, or have besotted themselves with drinking, or outlived their for
P - Heu, quanto meliùs vel cæde peracta
Parcere Romano poluit forluna pudori !- Lucanus. i llæc omnia vidit inflammari, Joris aram sanguine turpari.
Sic longius ævain
tunes, or become tedious to their friends, or are afflicted with lingering and vexatious diseases, or lived to see their excellent parts buried, and cannot understand the wise discourses and productions of their younger years. In all these cases, and infinite more, do not all the world say, that it had been better, this man had died sooners ? But so have I known passionate women to shriek aloud, when their nearest relatives were dying, and that horrid shriek hath stayed the spirit of the man awhile to wonder at the folly, and represent the inconvenience; and the dying person hath lived one day longer full of pain, amazed with an indeterminate spirit, distorted with convulsions, and only come again to act one scene more of a new calamity, and to die with less decency. So also do very many men; with passion and a troubled interest they strive to continue their life longer; and, it may be, they escape this sickness, and live to fall into a disgrace: they escape the storm, and fall into the hands of pirates; and, instead of dying with liberty, they live like slaves, miserable and despised, servants to a little time, and sottish admirers of the breath of their own lungs. Paulus Æmilius did handsomely reprove the cowardice of the King of Macedon, who begged of him, for pity's sake and humanity, that having conquered him and taken his kingdom from him, he would be content with that, and not lead him in triumph a prisoner to Rome. Æmilius told him, he need not be beholden to him for that; himself might prevent that in despite of him. But the timorous king durst not die. But certainly every wise man will easily believe, that it had been better the Macedonian kings should have died in battle, than protract their life so long, till some of them came to be scriveners and joiners at Rome: or that the tyrant of Sicily better had perished in the Adriatic, than to be wafted to Corinth safely, and there turn schoolmaster. It is a sad calamity, that the fear of death shall so imbecile man's courage and understanding, that he dares not suffer the remedy of all his calamities; but that he lives to say as Laberius did, " I have lived this one day longer than I shouldt.” Either, therefore, let us be willing to die, when
* Mors illi meliùs quàm to consuluit quidem.-quisquám ne secundis Tradere se fatis audet nisi morte paratâ ?—Luc. I. viii.
Nimirum hac die unà plus vixi, mihi quàm vivendum fuit.
God calls, or let us never more complain of the calamities of our life, which we feel so sharp and numerous. And when God sends his angel to us with the scroll of death, let us look on it as an act of mercy, to prevent many sins and many calamities of a longer life, and lay our heads down softly, and go to sleep without wrangling like babies and froward children. For a man (at least) gets this by death, that his calamities are not immortalu.
But I do not only consider death by the advantages of comparison ; but if we look on it in itself, it is no such formidable thing, if we view it on both sides and handle it, and consider all its appendages.
2. It is necessary, and therefore not intolerable: and nothing is to be esteemed evil, which God and nature have fixed with eternal sanctions. It is a law of God, it is a punishment of our sins, and it is the constitution of our nature. Two differing substances were joined together with the breath of God", and when that breath is taken away, they part asunder, and return to their several principles ; the soul to God our father, the body to the earth our mother: and what in all this is evil? Surely nothing, but that we are men; nothing, but that we were not born immortal : but by declining this change with great passion, or receiving it with a huge natural fear, we accuse the Divine Providence of tyranny, and exclaim against our natural constitution, and are discontent, that we are men.
3. It is a thing, that is no great matter in itself; if we consider, that we die daily, that it meets us in every accident, that every creature carries a dart along with it, and can kill us. And therefore when Lysimachus threatened Theodorus to kill him, he told him, that was no great matter to do, and he could do no more than the cantharides could: a little fly could do as much.
4. It is a thing, that every one suffers*, even persons of the lowest resolution, of the meanest virtue, of no breeding, # Hoc homo morte lucratur, ne malam esset immorlale.-- Naz.
Nihil in malis ducamus, quod sit à Diis immortalibus vel à Natura parente onnium, constitutum. w Coocretum fuit, discretum est; rediilque unde veneral; terra deorsum, spiritus
Quid ex his omnibus iniquum est? nihil.- Epichar. * Natura dedit usuram vitæ tanquam pecuniæ; quid est ergo quod querare, si repetat cùm valt? eadem enim lege acceperas. -Seneca.