Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

affectionate kiss weder since be took hessed he shal

a grave: and it cast him into some sad thoughts; that peradventure this man's wife, in some part of the continent, safe and warm, looks next month for the good man's return; or it may be his son knows nothing of the tempest;, or his father thinks of that affectionate kiss which still is warm upon the good old man's cheek ever since he took a kind farewell, and he weeps with joy to think how blessed he shall be when his beloved boy returns into the circle of his father's arms. These are the thoughts of mortals, this the end and sum of all their designs : a dark night and an ill guide, a boisterous sea and a broken cable, an hard rock and a rough wind, dashed in pieces the fortune of a whole family, and they that shall weep loudest for the accidents are not yet en: tered into the storm, and yet have suffered shipwreck. Then looking upon the carcase, he knew it, and found it to be the naster of the ship, who the day before cast up the accounts of his patrimony and his trade, and named the day when he thought to be at home. See how the man swims who was so angry two days since; his passions are becalmed with the storm, his accounts cast up, his cares at an end, his voyage done, and his gains are the strange events of death; which, whether they be good or evil, the men that are alive seldom trouble thems selves concerning the interest of the dead. jogos aisl

But seas alone do not break our vessel in pieces, every, where we may be shipwrecked. A valiant general, when he is to reap the harvest of his crowns

and triumphs, fights unprosperously, or falls into a fever with joy and wine, and changes his laurel into cypress, his triumphant chariot to an hearse; dying the night before he was appointed to perish in the drunkenness of his festival joys. It was a sad arrest of the loosenesses and wilder feasts of the French court, when their King (Henry II.) was killed really by the sportive image of a fight. Some have been paying their vows, and giving thanks for a prospetous return to their own house, and the roof hath descended upon their heads, and turned their loud religion into the deeper silence of a grave. And how. many teeming mothers have rejoiced themselves in the prospect of becoming the channels of blessing to a family; and the midwife hath quickly bound their heads and feet, and carried them forth to burial ? Or else the birth-day of an heir hath soen the coffin of the father brought into the house, and the divided mother hath been forced to travail twice with painful birth, and a sadder death,

to There is no state, no accident, no circumstance of our life, but it hath been soured by some sad in. stance of a dying friend : a friendly meeting often ends in some sad mischance, and makes an eternal parting: and when the poet Æschylus was sitting under the walls of his house, an eagle hovering over his bald head, mistook it for a stone, and let fall his oyster, hoping there to break the shell, but pierced the poor man's skull.

[ocr errors]

Death meets us every where, and is procured by every instrument, and in all chances, and enters in at many doors ; by violence and secret influence, by the aspect of a star and the stink of a mist; by the emissions of a cloud and the meeting of a vapour, by the fall of a chariot and the stumbling at a stone, by a full meal or an empty stomach, by watching at the wine or by watching at prayers, by the sun or the moon, by a heat or a cold, by sleepless nights or sleeping days, by water frozen into the hardness and sharpness of a dagger, or water thawed into the floods of a river, by a hair or a raisin, by violent motion or sitting still, by severity or dissolution, by God's mercy or God's anger, by every thing in proš vidence and every thing in' manners, by every thing in nature and every thing in chance. Eripitur. persona manet res : we take pains to heap up things useful to our life, and get our death in the purchase and the person is snatched away, and the goods remain. And all this is the law and constitution of nature, it is a punishment to our sins, the unalteraz ble event of providence, and the decree of heaven. The chains that confine us to this condition are strong as destiny, and immutable as the eternal laws of God

JEREMY TAYLOR."

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

HERE, then, let us turn aside from this gay scene; and suffer me to take you with me for a moment to one much fitter for your meditation. Let us go into the house of mourning, made so by such afflictions as have been brought in, merely by the common cross accidents and disasters to which our condition is exposed ;-where, perhaps, the aged parents sit broken-hearted, pierced to their souls with the folly and indiscretion of a thankless child, the child of their prayers, in whom all their hopes and expectations centered. -Perhaps a more affecting scene :-a virtuous family lying pinched with want, where the unfortunate support of it, having long struggled with a train of misfortunes, and bravely fought up against them,-is now piteously borne down at the lasty-overwhelmed with a cruel blow which no forecast or frugality could have prevented !--O God! look upon his afflictions !-Behold him distracted with many sorrows, surrounded with the tender pledges of his love, and the partner of his cares, without bread to give them! unable, from the remembrance of better days, to dig ;-to beg, ashamed.

When we enter into the house of mourning, such as this,- it is impossible to insult the unfortunate, even with an improper look.—Under whatever levity and dissipation of heart such objects catch our eyes,

they catch likewise our attentions, collect and call home our scattered thoughts, and exercise them with wisdom. A transient scene of distress, such as is here sketched, how soon does it furnish materials to set the mind at work ! how necessarily does it engage it to the consideration of the miseries and misfortunes, the dangers and calamities, to which the life of man is subject! By holding up such a glass before it, it forces the mind to see and reflect upon the vanity, the perishing condition and uncertain tenure of every thing in this world. From reflections of this serious cast, how insensibly do the thoughts carry us farther !and, from considering what we are, what kind of world we live ing and what evils befal us in it, how naturally do they set us to look forwards at what possibly we shall be ! for what kind of world we are intended, whatevils may befal us there,-and what provision we should make against them here, whilst we have time and opportunity. .

If these lessons are so inseparable from the house of mourning here supposed-we shall find it a still more instructive school of wisdom when we take a view of the place in that more affecting light to which the wise man seems to confine it in the text; in which, by the house of mourning, I believe, he means that particular scene of sorrow, where there is lamentation and mourning for the dead, i.**

Turn in hither, I beseech you, før a moment. Behold a dead man ready to be carried out; the

« AnteriorContinuar »