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The dreadfal contortions of a person in an epileptic fit may affect us; but the patient suffers nothing.
Men fear death, as children fear the dark; and as that natural fear is increased by frightful tales, so is the other. Certainly, the contemplation of death, as the wages of sin and the passage to ajother world, is pious and wholesome; but the fear of it, as a debt due to nature, is weak and empty. Groans, convulsions, weeping friends, funeral ceremonies, and the like, show death terrible; yet tbere is no passion so weak, but can conquer the fear of it; and, of course, death is no such terrible enemy. Revenge, for instance, triumphs over death ; love slights it; honour aspires to it; dread of shame prefers it; grief Aies to it, and fear anticipates it. It is no less worthy of notice, how little alteration the approaches of death make in good minds, who appear the same to the last. Augustus died with a compliment ; Tiberius in dissimulation ; Vespasian with a jest ; Galba with a sentence; and Septimus Severus with a form of despatch.
The knell, the shroud, the mattock, and the grave ;
Why should we fear to lose a thing, which being lost, can never be missed or lamented ? And what matters it when it shall bappen, since it is once inevitable? How ridiculous is it to trouble and afflict ourselves about taking the only step that is to deliver us from all misery and trouble! As our birth brought us to the birth of all things; so, in our death, is the death of all things iocluded; and therefore, to lament and take on, that we shall not be alive one hundred years hence, is the same folly as to be sorry we were not alive one hundred years ago. Death is the beginniog of another life. Nothing can be grievous that occurs but once; and is it rational to fear a thing long that will be soon des patched ? Long life, and short, are by death made all one; for there is no long vor short life to things that are no more. Aristotle tells us, that there are certain little beasts on the banks of the river Hyparis, that never live longer than a day; that those which die at eight in the morning die in their youth; and those that die at five in the evening die in tbeir extremest age. Who would not laugh to see this moment of life put into consideration of weal or woe? If we compare our longest life to the duration of eternity, or of mountains, rivers, stars, trees, or even of some animals, it is no less ridiculous to talk of it with regret. But nature compels us to it. “ Go out of this life," says she," as you entered it, without passion or fear. Your death is a part of the order of the universe; it is the condition of your creation. Death is a part of you ; and whilst you endeavour to evade it, you avoid yourselves. The day of your birth is one day's advance towards the grave : you are in death, even whilst you live, dying all the time you live; and death bandles the dying much more rudely than the dead. If you have made your profit of life, you have bad enough of it; go your way satisfied, and leave others to enjoy it as you bave done. If you have not known how to make the best use of it, and it has been unprofitable to you, why need you care to lose it? To what end would you desire longer to keep
Life, in itself, is neither good nor evil; it is merely the scene of good or evil, as you make it; and if you have lived a day, you have seen all.
This very sun, this moon, these stars, this very order and revolution of things is the same your ancestors enjoyed, and the same your posterity will enjoy. The thing that hath been, is that which shall be. “ There is nothing new (says Solomon) under the sun.”
You are to give place to others, as others bave given place to you. No one dies before his bour; and the time you leave behind is no more yours, than that which was lapsed before you came into the world. The utility of living depends on the improving it; and some will live longer in thirty years than others in sixty. Is it possible you can imagine never to arrive at the place to which you are continually going ? Every journey bas its end, and your death is yours; but, if company will render it more pleasant, know that all the world are going the same way, and a thousand men die at the same moment that you expire.
SOUTHERN, Your husband was killed by a cannon-ball, in fighting nobly for his country. He died without a moment's suffering, and all good soldiers envy his death. But I feel sincerely for what you must suffer. Tbat moment which separates us from the person whom we love, is terrible ; it insulates us from every thing around us, and causes convulsive agonies; the faculties of the soul are almost annihilated ; and we scarce perceive, but as in a dream, any connexion with the world. In this situation we think, that did nothing compel us to live, it were better to die. But these first emotions ceasing, when we press our jufants to our breast, tears and sentiments of tenderness awaken nature within us, and we live again for our children. Buonaparte's Letter to Admiral Bruey's Widow.
Death is not dreadful to a mind resolv’d;
I have often tried to strip death of its frightful colours, and make all the terrible airs of it vanish into softness and delight. To ibis end, among other rovings of thought, I have sometimes illustrated
to myself the whole creation as one immense building, with different apartments, all under the immediate possession and government of the great Creator,
One sort of tbese mansions are little, narrow, dark, damp rooins; where there is much confinement, very little good company, and such a clog upon one's natural spirits, that a man cannot think or talk with freedom, nor exert his understanding, or any of his intellectual powers, with glory or pleasure. This is the earth in which we live.
A second sort are spacious, lightsome, airy, and serene courts, open to the summer sky, or at least admitting all the valuable qualities of sun and air, without the inconveniences; where there are thousands of most delightful companions, and every thing that can give one pleasure, and make one capable and fit to give pleasure to others. Tbis is the beaven we hope for.
A third sort of apartments are open and spacious too, but ander a wintry sky, with perpetual storms of hail, rain, thunder, lightning, and every thing that is painful and offensive; and all this among millions of wretched companions, cursing the place, tormenting one another, and each endeavouring to increase the public and universal misery. This is hell.
Now what a dreadful thing is it to be driven out of one of the first of these narrow dusky cells into the third sort of apartment, where the change of the room is infinitely the worst. No wonder that sinners are afraid to die. But why should a soul that has good hope, through grace, of entering into the serene apartment, be unwilling to leave the narrow smoky prison he bas dwelt in so long, and under such loads of inconvenience ?
Death, to a good man, is but passing through a dark entry, out of one little dusky room of his father's house, into another that is fair and large, lightsome and glorious, and divinely entertaining. O may the rays and splendours of my heavenly apartment shoot far downward, and gild the dark entry with such a cheerfuì gleam, as lo banish every fear, when I shall be called to pass through!
What is death, that I should fear it?
Mrs. H. MORE. Among all the events which can befal the sons of men, the most awful is that of death ; and of all the subjects that can engage
the minds of men, the most important is that of eternity. Death and eternity are two things very closely conpected; indeed, the one is the result and immediate consequence of the other; for we no sooner pass the confines of death, but we enter into eternity, whose solemn sound pierces the ear, and strikes the mind with an idea that no language can express; and yet how soon does the impression wear off! As long as death is before our eyes, and eternity stands open to our view, we see the vanity of this life, and the infinite importance of the next; but we no sooner withdraw from such an awful and solemn scene, than we get immersed in the business and pleasures of life, which frequently swallow up all just thoughts of death, and destroy all serious thoughts of standing prepared for eternity; and yet, if there be any such thing as wisdom in man, the highest perfection of it must consist in living here so as to be happy hereafter.
Man is composed of two parts, a body and a soul, or a spirit; which two principles are of a different nature, and designed for a