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dare commit it to be vain. Yet for my part, I think nature should do me great wrong, if I should be so long in dying as I was in being born.
To speak truth, no man knows the lists of his own patience; nor can divine how able he shall be in his sufferings, till the storm come, the perfectest virtue being tried in action; but I would, out of a care to do the best business well, ever keep a guard, and stand upon keeping faith and a good conscience.
11. And if wishes might find place, I would die together, and not my mind often, and my body once ; that is, I would prepare for the messengers of death, sickness and affliction, and not wait long, or be attempted by the violence of pain.
Herein I do not profess myself a Stoic, to hold grief no evil, but opinion, and a thing indifferent.
But I consent with Cæsar, that the suddenest passage is easiest ; and there is nothing more awakens our resolve and readiness to die, than the quieted conscience, strengthened with opinion that we shall be. well spoken of upon earth by those that are just, and of the family of virtue; the opposite whereof is a fury to man, and makes even life unsweet.
Therefore, what is more heavy than evil fame deserved ? Or, likewise, who can see worse days, than he that yet living doth follow at the funerals of his own reputation ?
I have laid up many hopes, that I am privileged from that kind of mourning, and could wish the like peace to all those with whom I wage love.
13. I might say much of the commodities that death can sell a man; but briefly, death is a friend of ours; and he that is not ready to entertain him, is not at home. Whilst I am, my ambition is not to fore-flow the tide; I have but so to make my interest of it, as I may account for it; I would wish nothing but what might better my days, nor desire any greater place than the front of good opinion. I make not love to the continuance of days, but to the goodness of them; nor wish to die, but refer myself to my hour, which the great Dispenser of all things hath appointed me; yet as I am frail, and suffered for the first fault, were it given me to choose, I should not be earnest to see the evening of my age; that extremity of itself being a disease, and a mere return into infancy: so that if perpetuity of life might be given me, I should think what the Greek poet said, “Such an age is a mortal evil.” And since I must needs be dead, I require it may not be done before mine enemies, that I be not stript before I be cold; but before my friends. The night was even now, but that name is lost; it is not now late, but early. Mine eyes begin to dis, charge their watch, and compound with this fleshly weakness for a time of perpetual rest; and I shall presently be as happy for a few hours, as I had died the first hour I was born.
NOTHING can we call our own but death; And that small model of the barren earth, Which serves as paste and cover to our bones. For heaven's sake, let us sit upon the ground, And tell sad stories of the death of kings How some have been depos'd, some slain in war, Some haunted by the ghosts they have depos'd; Some poison’d by their wives, some sleeping kill'd; All murder'd :-for within the hollow crown That rounds the mortal temples of the king, Keeps death his court : and there the antic sits Scoffing his state, and grinning at his pómp; Allowing him a breath, a little scene To monarchize, be fear'd, and kill with looks Infusing him with self and vain conceit, As if this sh, which walls about our life, Were brass impregnable; and humour'd thus, Comes at the last, and with a little pin Bores through bis castle wall, and farewell king! Cover your heads, and mock not flesh and blood With solemn reverence; throw away respect, Tradition, form, and ceremonious duty, For you have but mistook me all this while: I live on bread like you, feel want, taste grief, Need friends ;-subjected thus, How can you say to me~ I am a king ?
TO LIVE ALWAYS NOT DESIRABLE.
I. From the state of things around us. They are subject to dissolution, and are actually dissolving. Every year we behold proofs and symptoms of this. The flowers wither, and the corn is cut down; trees and shrubs, which survive the season, yet drop their leaves, and wear symptoms of decay; the mountain oak, which flourished for ages, now stands a blighted trunk, inspiring melancholy. Places renowned of old for beauty and defence are known to us only by their names and ruins. Here and there are ruins of temples where our fathers worshipped. Of Jerusalem, and the temple on Mount Zion, of which such glorious things are said, there is not one stone left upon another. Babylon the great is fallen. Families, and states, and empires, and churches, have their rise, and glory, and decline. The earth itself is waxing old. The sun, and stars, and elements shall at last dissolve. Years as they pass speak to us of the consummation of all things. Listen to their parting voice. In still but solemn language, they speak of the angel who shall lift up his hand to heaven, and swear by Him that liveth for ever and ever, Time shall be no more!
And is it a thing desirable to live alway in the dissolving scene, to see the decay of so many seasons and so many generations, and still eke out a weary life till all be dissolved ?
66 One ge
II. We are led to say with Job, I would not live alway, from the condition of mankind. neration goeth and another cometh. The people are like the waves of the ocean; like the leaves of the forest they pass away in the blast, and other leaves lift their green heads." Think, my brethren, on the age that is past. The persons venerable for age and wisdom, to whom we looked up in early years, have we not also seen going down to the grave ? |
Our fathers, where are they? Are we greater than our fathers ? Is it not meet that we be gathered to them ? Gathered to our fathers, not scattered and lost in the abyss of annihilation. Gathered, not to a foreign land, nor to persons unconnected and unknown, but to our fathers, the objects of our first and purest love, whose memory is still dear to our heart. Our fathers, where are they? Our hearts inquire after them, and search out the place where they be at rest, and forbode lying down with them. 66 Why should not my countenance be sad,” said Nehemiah to the King of Babylon,“ seeing the city, the place of my father's sepulchre, lies waste ?”. The city is endeared by means of that sacred memorial.
A father's sepulchre is a school of wisdom. One considers there whence he came and whither he is going. He reads, in humbling and affecting characters, “ Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return.” He says to corruption, " Thou art my father.” The garment of mortality hangs loose upon him. .