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through the gates of death. Such helps I must leave to the care of the skilful Sages of Nature: the use whereof I suppose must be with much caution, lest, while they endeavour to sweeten death, they shorten life. But, let me prescribe and commend to thee, my son, the true spiritual means of thy happy Euthanasia; which can be no other, than this faithful disposition of the labouring soul, that can truly say, I know whoin I have believed ; 2 Tim. i. 12: I have fought a good fight : I have finished my course : I have kept the faith : Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give vie at that day; ch. iv. 7, 8:
Examples of courageous resolutions in others. Thou startest back at the mention of death :—How canst thou but blush to read of that heathen martyr, Socrates, who, when the message of death was brought to him, could applaud the news as most joyful * ! or, of a Cardinal of Rome, (who yet expected a tormenting, Purgatory,) that received the intimation of his approaching death, with Buona nuova, buona nuova, O che buona nuova è questa † ? Is not this their confidence thy shame; who, believing that when our earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ; 2 Cor. v. 1: yet sbrinkest at the motion of taking the possession of it? Canst thou, with dying Mithridates, when he took his unwilling farewell of the world, cry out, “Oh, Light!" when thou art going to a light more glorious than this thou leavest, than I the sun is more than a weak rush-candle ?
It is our infidelity, my son, it is our mere infidélity, that makes us unwilling to die. Did we think, according to the cursed opinion of some fanatic persons, that the soul sleeps as well as the body, from the moment of the dissolution, till the day of Resurrection; or, did we doubt lest we should wander to unknown places, where we cannot be certain of the entertainment; or, did we fear a scorching trial, upon the emigration, in flames little inferior, for the time, to those of hell; there were some cause for us to tremble at the approach of death : but, now that we can boldly say, with the Wise Man, “ The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them: In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die ; and their departure is taken for misery, And their going from us to be utter destruction : but they are in peace;" Wisd. iii. 1, 2, 3: 0 thou of little faith, why fearest thou? Why dost thou not chide thyself, as that dying Saint did of old, “ Go forth, my soul, go boldly forth : what art thou afraid of ?"
* Plato. Phædone, + F. Coffin. de Morte Bellarmini, p. 28.
# The Third Folio reads this sentence, (without any meaning) “than the sun is more weak than a rush-candle:" I have restored the passage as it stands in the original edition, 12mo. 1646. EDITOR.
Lo, the angels of God are ready to receive thee, and to carry thee up to thy glory : neither shalt thou sooner have left this wretched body, than thou shalt be possessed of thy God : after a momentary darkness cast upon nature, thou shalt enjoy the beatifical vision of the glorious God: be not afraid to be happy ; but say, out of faith, that which Jonah said in anger; It is better for me to die, than to live ; Jonah iv. 3.
The happy advantages of death. << I Am afraid to die:"_This is the voice of nature : but wilt thou hear what grace saith? To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If, therefore, mere nature reign in thee, thou canst not but be af frighted with death : but, if true grace be prevalent in thy soul, that guest shall not be unwelcome.
Was ever any man afraid of profit and advantage? such is death to the faithful." Whosoever he be, that finds Christ to be his life, shall be sure to find death his gain; for that he is thereby brought to a more full and near communion with Christ : whereas, before, he enjoyed his Saviour only by the dim apprehension of his faith; now, he doth clearly and immediately enjoy that glorious presence, which only makes blessedness.
This is it, which causeth death to change his copy; and renders him, who is of himself formidable, pleasing and beneficial. I desire to depart, and to be with Christ, Phil. i. 25. saith the man, who was rapt up to the third heaven. Had it been only departing, surely he had had no such great edge to it; but, to depart, and be with Christ is that, which ravisheth his soul.
When the heathen Socrates was to die for his religion, he comforted himself with this, That he should go to the place, where he should see Orphæus, Homer, Musæus, and the other Worthies of the former Ages.
Poor man! could he have come to have known God manifested in the flesh, and received up into glory, 1 Tim. iji. 16. and therein that glorified flesh sitting at the right-hand of Majesty; could he have attained to know the blessed order of the Cherubim, and Seraphim, Angels, Archangels, Principalities, and Powers, and the rest of the most glorious Hierarchy of Heaven; could he have been acquainted with that Celestial Choir of the spirits of just men made perfect; Heb. xii. 23. could he have reached to know the God and Father of Spirits, the Infinitely and Incomprehensibly Glorious Deity, whose presence transfuses everlasting blesseduess into all those citizens of glory; and could he have known that he should have an undoubted interest, instantly opon his dissolution, in that infinite bliss : how much more gladly
would he have taken off his hemlock; and how much more merrily would he have passed into that happier world!
All this we know; and are no less assured of it, than of our present being : with what comfort, therefore, should we think of changing our present condition, with a blessed immortality!
How sweet a song was that of old Simeon ; Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation! Luke ii. 29, 30. Lo, that which he saw by the eye of his sense, thou seest by the eye of thy faith ; even the Lord's Christ; v. 26 : he saw him in weakness; thou seest him in glory: why shouldst thou not depart, not in peace only, but in joy and comfort
How did the holy proto-martyr Stephen triumph over all the rage of his enemies, and the violent fury of death, when he had once seen the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right-hand of God! Acts vii. 56. Lo, God offers the same blessed prospect to the eye of thy soul. Faith is the key, that can open the heaven of heavens. Fix thy eyes upon that glorious and saving object, thou canst not but lay down thy body in peace; and send up thy soul into the hands of him that bought it, with the sweet and cheerful recommendation of, Lord, Jesus receive my spirit.
COMFORTS AGAINST THE TERRORS OF JUDGMENT.
SECT. 1. Aggravations of the fearfulness of the Last Judgment. Thou apprehendest it aright. Death is terrible; but Judgment -more: both these succeed upon the same decree; It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the Judgment ; Heb. ix. 27.
Neither is it more terrible, than less thought on. Death, be cause he strikes on all hands, and lays before us so many sad examples of mortality, cannot but sometimes take up our hearts; but the Last Judgment, baving no visible proofs to force itself upon our thoughts, too seldom affrights us.
Yet who can conceive the terror of that day? before which, The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood; Acts ii. 20: that day, which shall burn as an oven, when all the proud, and all that do wickedly shall be as the stubble ; Mal. iv. 1 : that day, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat ; the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burnt up; 2 Pet. iii. 10: that day, wherein the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in fluming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey nos the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; 2 Thess. i. 7, 8: that day, wherein the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirl wind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire : For by fire, and by his sword, will the Lord plead with all flesh; Isa. Ixvi. 15, 16: that day, wherein the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him; and shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered before him ; Matthew xxv. 31, 32: that day, wherein all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him ; Rev. i. 7: shortly, that great and terrible day of the Lord, (Joel. ii. 31.) wherein, if the powers of heaven shall be shaken, how can the heart of man remain unmoved? wherein, if the world be dissolved, who can bear up?
Alas, we are ready to tremble at but a thunder-crack, in a poor cloud; and at a small flash of lightning, that glances through our eyes : what shall we do, when the whole frame of the heavens shall break in pieces, and when all shall be on a flame about our ears? Oh, who may abide in the day of his coming ? and who shall stand when he appeareth? Mal. iii. 2.
The condition of the elect. Yet be of good cheer, my son: amidst all this horror, there is comfort.
Whether thou be one of those, whom it shall please God to reserve alive upon earth to the sight of this dreadful day, He only knows, in whose hands our times are. This we are sure of, that we are upon the last hours of the last days. Justly do we spit in the faces of St. Peter's Scoffers, that say, Where is the promise of his coming ? 2 Pet. iii. 4: well knowing, that the Lord is not slack, as some account slackness, v. 9. but that he, that shall come, will come, and not tarry; Heb. x. 37. Well mayest thou live to see the Son of Man come in the clouds of heaven, and to be an actor in this last scene of the world. If so, let not thy heart be dismayed with the expectation of these fearful things. Thy change shall be sudden and quick: one moment shall put off thy mortality, and clothe thee with that incorruption, which shall not be capable of fear and pain. The majesty of this appearance shall add to thy joy and glory. Thou shalt then see the Lord himself descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; 1 Thess. iv. 16. Thou shalt see thyself, and those other which are alive and remain, to be caught up in the clouds 10 mect the Lord in the air ; and so shalt thou be ever with the Lord; y. 17. Upon this assurance, how justly may the Apostle subjoin, Wherefore comfort one another with these words ! v. 18. Certainly, if ever there were comfort to be had in any words, not of men or angels only, but of the Ever-Living God, the God of Truth; these are they, that can and will afford it to our trembling souls.
But, if thou be one of the number of those, whom God hath determined to call off, beforehand; and, by a faithful death, to prevent
the great day of his appearance: here is nothing for thee, but matter of a joy unspeakable and full of glory : for, those, that sleep in Jesus, shall God bring with him ; 1 Thess. iv. 14. They shall be part of that glorious train, which shall attend the majesty of the great Judge of the World; 1 Cor. vi. 2: yea, they shall be co-assessors to the Lord of Heaven and Earth in this awful judicature, as sitting upon the bench when guilty men and angels shall be at the bar; v. 3. To him, thai overcometh, saith the Lord Christ, will I grant to sit with me in my throne ; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne ; Rev. iii. 21. What place then is here for any terror; since, the more state and heavenly magnificence, the more joy and glory?
SECT. 3. Awe more fit for thoughts of judgment, than fear. Thou art afraid to think of judgment :-I would rather thou shouldst be awful, than timorous.
When St. Paul discoursed of the judgment to come, it is no marvel that Felis trembled ; Acts xxiv. 25: but the same Apostle, when he had pressed to his Corinthians the certainty and generality of our appearance before the Judgment-Seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, whether good or evil; addeth, Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men ; but we are inade nianifest to God, &c. 2 Cor. v. 11.
Lo, the holiest man may not be exempted from the dread, but from the slavish fear of the Great Judge. We know his Infinite Justice: we are conscious to ourselves of our manifold failings : how can we lay these two together, and not fear? But this fear works not in us a malignant kind of repining at the severe tribunal of the Almighty; as, commonly, whom we fear we hate: but rather a careful endeavour so to approve ourselves, that we may be acquitted by him, and appear blameless in his presence.
How justly may we tremble, when we look upon our own actions, our own deserts ! but how confidently may we appear at that bar, when we are beforehand assured of a discharge ! Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord'; Rom. v. 1. When we think of an universal conflagration of the world, how can we but fear? But when we think of a happy restitution of all things (Acts iii. 21.) in this day, how can we but rejoice in trembling?
SECT. 4. In that great and terrible day, our Advocate is our Judge. Thou quakest at the expectation of the Last Judgment :--Surely, the very majesty of that Great Assize must needs be formidable.