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design to serve worse ends. Such was that of Herod, when he made too studied and elaborate a funeral for Aristobulus whom he had murdered; and of Regulus for his boy, at whose pile he killed dogs, nightingales, parrots, and little horses; and such also was the expense of some of the Romans, who, hating their left wealth, gave order by their testament to have huge portions of it thrown into their fires, bathing their locks, which were presently to pass through the fire, with Arabian and Egyptian liquors, and balsam of Judea. In this, as in every thing else, as our piety must not pass into superstition or vain expense, so neither must the excess be turned into parsimony, and chastised by negligence and impiety to the memory of their dead.
But nothing of this concerns the dead in real and effective purposes; nor is it with care to be provided for by themselves: But it is the duty of the living. For to them it is all one, whether they be carried forth upon a chariot or a wooden bier, whether they rot in the air or in the earth, whether they be devoured by fishes or by worms, by birds or by sepulchral dogs, by water or by fire, or by delay. When Criton asked Socrates how he would be buried, he told him, "I think I shall escape from you, and that you cannot catch me: but so much of me as you can apprehend, use it as you see cause for, and bury it; but, however, do it according to the laws." There is nothing in this but opinion and the decency of fame to be served. Where it is esteemed an honour and the manner of blessed people to descend into the graves of their fathers, there also it is reckoned as a curse to be buried in a strange land, or that the birds of the air devour them.
Some nations used to eat the bodies of their friends, and esteemed that the most honoured sepulture; but they were barbarous. The Magi never buried any but such as were torn of beasts. The Persians be
smeared their dead with wax, and the Egyptians with gums, and with great art did condite the bodies, and laid them in charnel-houses. But Cyrus the elder would none of all this, but gave command that his body should be interred, not laid in a coffin of gold or silver, but just into the earth, from whence all living creatures receive birth and nourishment, and whither they must return. Among Christians the honour which is valued in the behalf of the dead is, that they be buried in holy ground, that is, in appointed cemeteries, in places of Religion, there where the field of God is sown with the seeds of the Resurrection, that their bodies also may be among the Christians, with whom their hope and their portion is, and shall be for Quicquid feceris, omnia hæc eodem ventura sunt; that we are sure of; our bodies shall all be restored to our Souls hereafter, and in the interval they shall all be turned into dust, by what way soever you or your chance shall dress them. Licinus the freed-man slept in a marble tomb; but Cato in a little one, Pompey in none: and yet they had the best fate among the Romans, and a memory of the biggest honour. And it may happen that to want a monument may best preserve their memories, while the succeeding ages shall by their instances remember the changes of the world, and the dishonours of death, and the equality of the dead: and James the Fourth, King of the Scots, obtained an epitaph for wanting of a tomb; and King Stephen is remembered with a sad.
story, because four hundred years after his death his bones were thrown into a river, that evil men might sell the leaden coffin. It is all one in the final event of things. Ninus the Assyrian had a monument erected whose height was nine furlongs, and the breadth ten, (saith Diodorus): but John the Baptist had more honour when he was humbly laid in the earth between the bodies of Abdias and Elizeus. And S. Ignatius, who was buried in the bodies of lions, and S. Polycarp, who was burned to ashes, shall have their bones and their flesh again, with greater comfort than those violent persons who slept among Kings, having usurped their thrones when they were alive, and their sepulchres when they were dead.
Concerning doing honour to the dead, the consideration is not long. Anciently the friends of the dead used to make their funeral orations, and what they spake of greater commendation was pardoned upon the accounts of friendship: But when Christianity seized upon the possession of the world, this charge was devolved upon Priests and Bishops, and they first kept the custom of the world, and adorned it with the piety of truth and of Religion: but they also so ordered it that it should not be cheap; for they made funeral sermons only at the death of Princes, or of such holy persons who shall judge the Angels. The custom descended, and in the channels mingled with the veins of earth through which it passed; and nowa-days men that die are commended at a price, and the measure of their legacy is the degree of their virtue. But these things ought not so to be: the reward of the greatest virtue ought not to be prostitute to the doles
f 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3.
of common persons, but preserved like laurels and coronets, to remark and encourage the noblest things. Persons of an ordinary life should neither be praised publicly nor reproached in private; for it is an office and charge of humanity to speak no evil of the dead, (which I suppose is meant concerning things not public and evident); but then neither should our charity to them teach us to tell a lie, or to make a great flame from a heap of rushes and mushrooms, and make orations crammed with the narrative of little observances, and acts of civil and necessary, and external Religion.
But that which is most considerable is, that we should do something for the dead, something that is real, and of proper advantage. That we perform their will, the laws oblige us, and will see to it; but that we do all those parts of personal duty which our dead left unperformed, and to which the laws do not oblige us, is an act of great charity and perfect kindness: and it may redound to the advantage of our friends also, that their debts be paid even beyond the inventory of their moveables.
Besides this, let us right their causes, and assert their honour. When Marcus Regulus had injured the memory of Herennius Senecio, Metius Carus asked him, What he had to do with his dead; and became his advocate after death, of whose cause he was patron when he was alive. And David added this also, that he did kindness to Mephibosheth for Jonathan's sakes; and Solomon pleaded his father's cause by the sword against Joab and Shimei1. And certainly it is the noblest thing in the world to do an
82 Sam. ix. 6, 7.
1 Kings ii. 28-34, 36-46.
act of kindness to him whom we shall never see, but yet hath deserved it of us, and to whom we would do it if he were present; and unless we do so, our charity is mercenary, and our friendships are direct merchandise, and our gifts are brokage: but what we do to the dead, or to the living for their sakes, is gratitude, and virtue for virtue's sake, and the noblest portion of humanity.
And yet I remember that the most excellent Prince Cyrus, in his last exhortation to his sons upon his death-bed, charms them into peace and union of hearts and designs, by telling them that his Soul would be still alive, and therefore fit to be revered and accounted as awful and venerable as when he was alive: and what we do to our dead friends is not done to persons undiscerning as a fallen tree, but to such who better attend to their relatives, and to greater purposes, though in other manner than they did here below. And therefore those wise persons who in their funeral orations made their doubt, with an εἴ τις αἴσθησις τοῖς τετελευτηκόσι περὶ τῶν ἐνθάδε γιγνομένων, If the dead have any perception of what is done below," which are the words of Isocrates, in the funeral encomium of Evagoras, did it upon the uncertain opinion of the Soul's immortality; but made no question, if they were living, they did also understand what could concern them. The same words Nazianzen uses at the exequies of his sister Gorgonia, and in the former invective against Julian: but this was upon another reason; even because it was uncertain what the state of separation was, and whether our dead perceive any thing of us till we shall meet in the day of Judgment. If it was uncertain then, it is certain since that time we