Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

them, the worm is spread under thee, and the worm covers thee. There are the mats and the carpets that lie under, and there are the state and the canopy that hang over the greatest of the sons of men. Even those bodies that were the temples of the Holy Ghost come to this dilapidation, to ruin, to rubbish, to dust; even the Israel of the Lord, and Jacob himself, hath no other specification, no other denomination, but that vermis Jacob, thou worm of Jacob. Truly the consideration of this posthume death, this death after burial, that after God (with whom are the issues of death) hath delivered me from the death of the womb, by bringing me into the world, and from the manifold deaths of the world, by laying me in the grave, I must die again in an incineration of this flesh, and in a dispersion of that dust. That that monarch, who spread over many nations alive, must in his dust lie in a corner of that sheet of lead, and there but so long as that lead will last; and that private and retired man, that thought himself his own for ever, and never came forth, must in his dust of the grave be published, and (such are the revolutions of the grave) be mingled with the dust of every highway and of every dunghill, and swallowed in every puddle and pond. This is the most inglorious and contemptible vilification, the most deadly and peremptory nullification of man, that we can consider. God seems to have carried the declaration of his power to a great height, when he sets the prophet Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones, and says, Son of man, can these bones live? as though it had been impossible, and yet they did; the Lord laid sinews upon them, and flesh, and breath into them, and they did live. But in that case there were bones to be seen, something visible, of which it might be said, Can this thing live? But in this death of incineration

and dispersion of dust, we see nothing that we call that man's. If we say, Can this dust live? Perchance it cannot; it may be the mere dust of the earth, which never did live, never shall. It may be the dust of that man's worm, which did live, but shall no more. It may be the dust of another man, that concerns not him of whom it was asked. This death of incineration and dispersion is, to natural reason, the most irrecoverable death of all; and yet Domini Domini sunt exitus mortis, unto God the Lord belong the issues of death) and by recompacting this dust into the same body, and remaining the same body with the same soul, he shall in a blessed and glorious resurrection give me such an issue from this death as shall never pass into any other death, but establish me into a life that shall last as long as the Lord of Life himself.

And so have you that that belongs to the first acceptation of these words (unto God the Lord belong the issues of death); That though from the womb to the grave, and in the grave itself, we pass from death to death, yet, as Daniel speaks, the Lord our God is able to deliver us, and he will deliver us.

And so we pass unto our second accommodation of these words (unto God the Lord belong the issues of death); That it belongs to God, and not to man, to pass a judgment upon us at our death, or to conclude a dereliction on God's part upon the manner thereof.

Those indications which the physicians receive, and those presagitions which they give for death or recovery in the patient, they receive and they give out of the grounds and the rules of their art; but we have no such rule or art to give a presagition of spiritual death and damnation upon any such indication as we see in any dying man; we see often enough to be sorry, but not to despair; we may be deceived both ways: we use to comfort yourself in the death of a friend, if it be testified that he went away like a lamb, that is, without any reluctation. But God knows that may be accompanied with a dangerous damp and stupefaction, and insensibility of his present state. Our blessed Saviour suffered colluctations with death, and a sadness even in his soul to death, and an agony even to a bloody sweat in his body, and expostulations with God, and exclamations upon the cross. He was a devout man who said upon his death-bed, or dead turf (for he was a hermit), Septuaginta annos Domino servivisti, et mori times? Hast thou served a good master threescore and ten years, and now art thou loath to go into his presence? Yet Hilarion was loath. Bartaam was a devout man (a hermit too) that said that day he died, Cogita te hodie coepisse servire Domino, et hodie jiniturum: Consider this to be the first day's service that ever thou didst thy Master, to glorify him in a christianly and a constant death, and if thy first day be thy last day too, how soon dost thou come to receive thy wages! Yet Bartaam could have been content to have stayed longer forth. Make no ill conclusions upon any man's loathness to die, for the mercies of God work momentarily in minutes, and many times insensibly to bystanders, or any other than the party departing. And then upon violent deaths inflicted as upon malefactors, Christ himself hath forbidden us by his own death to make any ill conclusion; for his own death had those impressions in it; he was reputed, he was executed as a malefactor, and no doubt many of them who concurred to his death did believe him to be so. Of sudden death there are scarce examples to be found in the Scriptures upon good men, for death in battle cannot be called sudden death; but God governs not by examples but by rules, and therefore make no ill conclusion upon sudden death nor upon distempers, neither though perchance

accompanied with some words of diffidence and distrust in the mercies of God. The tree lies as it falls it is true, but it is not the last stroke that fells the tree, nor the last word nor gasp that qualifies the soul. Still pray we for a peaceable life against violent death, and for time of repentance against sudden death, and for sober and modest assurance against distempered and diffident death, but never make ill conclusions upon persons overtaken with such deaths; Domini Domini sunt exitus mortis, to God the Lord belong the issues of death. And he received Samson, who went out of this world in such a manner (consider it actively, consider it passively in his own death, and in those whom he slew with himself) as was subject to interpretation hard enough. Yet the Holy Ghost hath moved Saint Paul to celebrate Samson in his great catalogue26, and so doth all the church. Our critical day is not the very day of our death, but the whole course of our life. I thank him that prays for me when the bell tolls, but I thank him much more that catechises me, or preaches to me, or instructs me how to live. Fac hoc et vive, there is my security, the mouth of the Lord hath said it, do this and thou shalt live. But though I do it, yet I shall die too, die a bodily, a natural death. But God never mentions, never seems to consider that death, the bodily, the natural death. God doth not say, Live well, and thou shalt die well, that is, an easy, a quiet death; but, Live well here, and thou shalt live well for ever. As the first part of a sentence pieces well with the last, and never respects, never hearkens after the parenthesis that comes between, so doth a good life here flow into an eternal life, without any consideration what manner of death we die. But whether the gate of my prison be opened with an oiled key (by a gentle * Heb. xi.

and preparing sickness), or the gate be hewn down by a violent death, or the gate be burnt down by a raging and frantic fever, a gate into heaven I shall have, for from the Lord is the cause of my life, and with God the Lord are the issues of death. And further we carry not this second acceptation of the words, as this issue of death is liberatio in morte, God's care that the soul be safe, what agonies soever the body suffers in the hour of death.

But pass to our third part and last part: As this issue of death is liberatio per mortem, a deliverance by the death of another. Sufferentiam Job audiisti, et vidistifinem Domini, says Saint James, (v. 11), You have heard of the patience of Job, says he: all this while you have done that, for in every man, calamitous, miserable man, a Job speaks. Now, see the end of the Lord, sayeth that apostle, which is not that end that the Lord proposed to himself (salvation to us), nor the end which he proposes to us (conformity to him), but see the end of the Lord, says he, the end that the Lord himself came to, death, and a painful and a shameful death: but why did he die? and why die so? Quia Domini Domini sunt exitus mortis (as Saint Augustine, interpreting this text, answers thatquestion27), because to this God our Lord belonged the issues of death. Quid apertius diceretur? says he there, What can be more obvious, more manifest than this sense of these words? In the former part of this verse it is said, He that is our God is the God of salvation; Deus salvos faciendi, so he reads it, the God that must save us. Who can that be, "says he, but Jesus? For therefore that name was given him because he was to save us. And to this Jesus, says he, this Saviour28, belong the issues of death; Nee oportuit eum de hac vita alios exitus habere 27 De Civitate Dei, lib. xvii. 618. "Matt. i. 21.

« AnteriorContinuar »