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keep herself out of the way as much as she can; and so she has done since. She says, “She had a gentleman who came thirty miles to her to hear the relation; and that she had told it to a room-full of people at a time.” Several particular gentlemen have had the story from Mrs. Bargrave's own mouth.
This thing has very much affected me, and I am as well satisfied as I am of the best-grounded matter of fact. And why we should dispute matter of fact, because we cannot solve things of which we can have no certain or demonstrative notions, seems strange to me. Mrs. Bargrave's authority and sincerity alone would have been undoubted in any other case.
CHAPTER I. That there is nothing more dreadful than Death, to such as have
no hope in God.
A N inspired pen styles Death, very significantly, The A King of Terrors; that is to say, the most terrible of all other things: for there is nothing that we can imagine in the world more dreadful and more frightful than Death. It is possible to decline the edge of drawn swords, to close the lion's jaws, to quench the fire's fury; but when Death shoots its poisoned arrows, when it opens its infernal pit, and when it sends forth its devouring flames, it is altogether impossible to secure ourselves; impossible it is to guard ourselves from its merciless fury. There is an infinite number of warlike inventions, by which we commonly defeat the evil designs of the most powerful and dreadful enemies; there is no stratagem of the most renowned general, no fortifications ever so regular and artificial, nor army ever so victorious, that can retard but for a moment the approaches of Death, this last enemy. In the twinkling of an eye it flies
through the strongest bulwarks, the deepest walls, and most prodigious towers. It leaps over the largest ditches, the highest castles, and the most inaccesible rocks. It blows down the strongest barricadoes, and laughs at all our military trénches; every where it finds the weakness of our armour,' and through the best tempered breastplate it strikes the proudest hearts. In the darkest dungeon it comes to us, and snatches us out of the hands of our most trusty and watchful guards. In a word, nature and art can furnish us. with nothing able to protect us from Death's cruel and insatiable hands.
There is none so barbaaous, but is sometimes overcome by the prayers and tears of such as cast themselves upon their knees to implore mercy; nay, such as have lost all sense of humanity and goodness, commonly spare in their rage the weakest age and sex: but unmerciful Death hath no more regard of such as humble themselves, than of others that resist and defy it. It takes no notice of infants' tears and cries; it plucks them from the breasts of their tenderhearted mothers, and crushes them in pieces before their eyes. It scorns the lamentations of dainty dames, and delights to trample upon their most ravishing beauties. It stops its ears to the requests of trembling old age, and casts to the ground the gray heads as so many withered oaks.
At a battle, when princes and generals of the enemy's army are taken prisoners, they are not treated as common soldiers ; but unmerciful Death treads under feet as audaciously the prince as the subject, the master as the servant, the noble as the vassal, the rich Dives and the begging Lazarus together. It blows out with the same blast the most glorious luminaries, and the most loathsome lamps. It hath no more respect for the crowns of kings, the pope's mitre, and the cardinal's cap, than for the shepherd's crook, or the slave's
chains. It heaps them together, shuts them in the same dungeon, and in the same mortar pounds them to powder.
There is no war, though ever so furious and bloody, but it is interrupted with some days, or at least some hours, of cessation or truce; nay, the most inhuman minds are at last tired with bloody conquests: but insatiable Death never saith, “ It is enough.”. At every hour and moment it cuts down whole nations and kindreds. The flesh of all the animals that have lived and died since the creation of the world, hath not been able to glat this devouring monster.
All warfare is doubtful: he that wins the victory to-day, may soon after be put to flight. He that rides- at present in a triumphant chariot, may become the footstool of his enemy. But Death is always victorious; it triumphs with an insufferable insolence over all the kings and nations of the earth ; it never returns to its den but loaden with spoils, and glutted with blood. The strongest Samsons, and the most victorious Davids, who have torn in pieces and overcome lions and bears, and cut off the heads of giants, have at last yielded themselves, and been cut off by Death. The great Alexander, and the triumphant Cesars, who have made all the world to tremble before them, and conquered most part of the habitable earth, could never find any thing that might protect them from Death's power. When magnificent statues and stately trophies were raised to their honour, Death laughed at their vanity, and made sport with their persons. The rich marbles, where so many proud titles are engraved, cover nothing but a little rotten flesh, and a few bones which Death hath broken and reduced to ashes.
We read, in the revelation of the prophet Daniel, that king Nebuchadnezzar saw in a dream a large statue of gold, both glorious and terrible; “its head was of pure gold, its breast and arms were of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, its legs of iron, and its feet were partly of clay, and partly of iron.” As the prince was beholding it with astonishment, a little stone cut out of a mountain, without hands, was rolled against the feet of this prodigious statue, and broke it all to pieces; not only the clay and iron were broken, but also the gold, the silver, and the brass; all became as the chaff, which the wind blows to and fro. This great image represents the four universal monarchies of the world : that of Babylon, of the Persians and Medes, of the Greeks, and that of the Romans. It represents also the vanity and inconstancy of all things under the sun: for what is the pomp, the glory, the strength, and dignities, of this world, but as a smoke driven with the wind, and a vapour that soon vanishes away? All is like a shadow, that flies from us: or like a dreain, that disappears in an instant. Man, created in the image of God, at his first appearance seems to be very glorious for a while, and becomes terrible: but as soon as Death strikes at the earthly part, and begins to break his flesh and bones, all the glory, pomp, power, and magnificence, of the richest, of the most terrible and victorious monarchs, are changed into a loathsome smell, into contemptible dust, and reduced to nothing : “vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
Since therefore Death is so impartial as to spare none, and its power so great that none can escape or resist it, it is no wonder if it is become so terrible, and fills with fear, grief, and despair, the minds of all mortals, who have not settled their faith and assurance on God. For there is no condemned prisoner but trembles when he beholds the scaffold erecting, upon which he is designed to be broken upon a wheel, or when he spies in the fire, irons with which he is to be pinched to death,
In the midst of a sumptuous feast, king Belshazzar saw the