« AnteriorContinuar »
our wills and affection by the same Spirit, the most sacred fountain of all grace and goodness; reduce them to the obedience of thy most holy will in the practice of all piety toward thee, and charity towards all men. Inflame our hearts with thy love, cast forth of them what displeaseth thee, all infidélity, hardness of heart, prophaneness, hypocrisy, contempt of thy holy word and ordinances, all uncleanness, and whatsoever advanceth itself in opposition to thy holy will. And grant that henceforth, through thy grace we may be enabled to lead a godly, holy, sober, and christian life in true sincerity and uprightness of heart before thee. To this end, plant thy holy fear in our hearts, grant that it may never depart from before our eyes, but continually guide our feet in the paths of thy righteousness, and in the ways of thy commandments: increase our weak faith, grant it may daily bring forth the true fruits of unfeigned repentance, that by the power of the death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we may daily die unto sin, and by the power of his resurrection we may be quickened, and raised up to newness of life, may be truly born anew, and may be effectually made partakers of the first resurrection, that then the second death may never have dominion over us. Teach us, o Lord, so to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom; make us ever mindful of
our last end, and continually to exercise the knows ledge of grace in our hearts, that in the said divorce of soul and body, we may be translated here to that kingdom of glory prepared for all those that love thee, and shall trust in thee; even then and ever, O Lord, let thy holy angels pitch their tents round about us, to guard and defend us from all the malice of Satan, and from all perils both of soul and body. Pardon all our unthankfulness, make us daily more and more thankful for all thy mercies and benefits daily poured down upon us. Let these our humble prayers ascend to the throne of grace, and be granted not only for these mercies, but for whatsoever else thy wisdom knows needful for us; and for all those that are in need, misery, and distress, whom, Lord, thou hast afflicted either in soul or body; grant them patience and perseverance in the end, and to the end: And tha:, O Lord, not for any merits of ours, but only for the merits of thy Son, and our alone Saviour Christ Jesus ; to whom with thee, and the Holy Spirit, be ascribed all glory, &c. Amen.
AN ESSAY ON DEATH.
1. I HAVE often thought upon death, and I find it the least of all evils. All that which is past is as a dream; and he that hopes or depends upon time coming, dreams waking. So much of our life as we have discovered is already dead; and all those hours which we share, even from the breasts of our mother,s until we return to our grand-mother the earth, are part of our dying days; whereof even this is one, and those that succeed are of the same nature, for we die daily; and as others have given place to us, so we must in the end give way to others.
2. Physicians in the name of death, include all sorrow, anguish, disease, calamity, or whatsoever can fall in the life of man, either grievous or unwelcome: But these things are familiar unto us, and we suffer them every hour; therefore we die daily, and I am older since I affirmed it.
3. I know many wise men that fear to die; for the change is bitter, and flesh would refuse to prove it: besides, the expectation brings terror, and that exceeds the evil. But I do not believe, that any man fears to be dead, but only the stroke of death; and such are my hopes, that if heaven be pleased, and nature renew but my lease for twenty-one years more, without asking longer days, I shall be strong enough to acknowledge without mourning, that I was begotten mortal. Virtue walks not in the high-way, though she go per alta; this is strength and the blood to virtue, to contemn things that be desired, and to neglect that which is feared.
4. Why should man be in love with his fetters, though of gold? Art thou drowned in security? Then I say thou art perfectly dead. For though thou movest, yet thy soul is buried within thee, and thy good angel either forsakes his guard or sleeps. There is nothing under heaven, saving a true friend, (who cannot be counted within the number of moveables) unto which my heart doth lean. And this dear freedom hath begotten me this peace, that I mourn not for that end which must be, nor spend one wish to have one minute added to the uncertain date of my years. It was no mean apprehension of Lucian, who says of Menippus, that in his travels through hell, he knew not the Kings of the earth from other men, but only by their louder cryings and tears: which was fostered in them through the remorseful memory of the good days they had seen, and the fruitful havings which they so unwillingly left behind them: he that was well seated, looked back at his portion, and was loth to forsake his farm; and others either minding
marriages, pleasures, profit, or preferment, desired to be excused from death's banquet: they had made an appointment with earth, looking at the blessings, not the hand that enlarged them, forgetting how unclothedly they came hither, or with what naked ornaments they were arrayed.
5. But were we servants of the precept given, and observers of the heathens rule, memento mori, and not become benighted with this seeming felicity, we should enjoy it as men prepared to lose, and not wind up our thoughts upon so perishing a fortune: he that is not slackly strong (as the servants of pleasure) how can he be found unready to quit the veil and false visage of his perfection? The soul having shaken off her flesh, doth then set up for herself, and contemning things that are under, shews, what finger hath enforced her; for the souls of ideots are of the same piece with those of statęsmen, but now and then nature is at a fault, and this good guest of ours, takes soil in an imperfect body, and so is slackened from shewing her wonders; like an excellent musician, which cannot utter himself upon a defective instrument.
6. But see how I am swerved, and lose my course, touching at the soul that doth least hold action with death, who hath the surest property in this frail act; his style is the end of all flesh, and the beginning of incorruption.