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Death; sometimes he made use of his sword and poison to hasten it; at last he killed himself by an abstinence from food, necessary to entertain his life. He had conquered all the world, and given peace and happiness to his empire: but he could not overcome himself, or appease the troubles of his conscience. He was so far from quieting the disturbed thoughts of his soul, that he suffered himself to be overwhelmed with despair; he flattered his soul in hastening its ruin ; for when his disease gave him liberty to breathe, he talked unto it in this manner: “ My little soul, my dearest companion, thou art now going to wander in obscure, cold, and strange places; thou shalt never jest again, according to thy wonted manner ; thou shalt never give me any more sport or pleasure.”
You will say, Adrian was a powerful monarch, but no great philosopher ; perhaps he knew how to govern, and was well acquainted with politics; but he was ignorant of morals, and had no skill to die well. To answer this objection, let us give an example beyond all exception :-Aristotle is generally esteemed to have been the subtilest and the most learned of the Heathen antiquity, the prince of all the philosophers, the glory of his age, and the founder of his sect : when his excellent soul had surveyed all things, examined the heavens, searched among the excelencies of the earth, pried into all the wonders of the world, and found out the rarest secrets of nature, he could never find any solid comfort against the apprehensions of death. Notwithstanding all his admirable subtilties, and his profound learning, the fear of this cruel Death terrifies his conscience in such a manner, that he confessed, “That of all terrible things Death was the most dreadful.”.
СНАР. CHAP. III.
Of divers Sorts of Death, with which we are to encounter.
W H EN David had a design to fight with Goliath, and
could not make use of the armour of king Saul, he took a smooth stone out of his bag, cast it with his sling, struck the Philistine in the forehead, and brought down this proud giant, who had defied the armies of Israel. We have already examined and tried all the armour of human wisdom and learning, laid up in the store-houses of the greatest wits of former ages; and we have found that they are not able to afford us any assistance in an encounter with Death. Let us, therefore, now see whether we may overcome this proud enemy with the sling of our mystical David, with the weapons of our divine Shepherd: but before we begin the resistance, let us look and behold it in the face. The enemy I intend you shall overcome, is a monster with three heads ; for there are three sorts of death, the natural, the spiritual, and the eternal. .
The natural death is a separation of the soul from the body. Although our body has been fashioned with the finger of God, it is but a weak and frail vessel, made of earth: but our soul is an heavenly, spiritual, and immortal substance ; it is a sparkle and a ray of the Godhead, and the lively image of our great Creator : for when God had made our first parent, “he breathed into his nostrils ihe breath of life," Gen. ii. 7. that we might thereby understand, that our souls alone proceeded from his immediate band, therefore he is named the “ Father of spirits," Heb. xii. and “ the faithfui Creator of souls,” i Pet. iv. This soul raises us a degree above all animals, and above the celestial bodies, and renders us like the angels of heaven. It is the light that enligtens us, the salt that preserves us from corruprion. In one wor.i, by this soul we live, enjoy our senses, move, and
understand, understand. As soon as this angelical guest leaves its mansion, the body, it loses all its beauty, and falls of itself into a state of ruin ; for this filesh that we are so careful of, and feed with all manner of dainties, then corrupts and rots. After that it hath been stretched awhile upon beus of gold, and richly attired in purple and scarlet, it is cast upon a bed of worms, and covered with the vilest insects of the earth. Notwithstanding all its former perfumes, it yields then a most horrid stink. Before, it ravished the eyes of the beholders with its admirable beauty ; but now it becomes so odious and offensive, that the living care not to see it. It is at last reduced to ashes, according to the sentence that was pronounced in the earthly paradise, “ Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
The spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God our Creator ; for he being the soul of our souls, and the light of our life, we fall into an abyss of darkness and death: « For all those that depart from God shall perish,” Psalm Ixxiii. As the members, when they are cut off from the body, commonly rot; as the twig withers, when it is separated from the vine ; so, in a separation from God, we can neither live, more, nor have a being. And as it is with the body separated from the soul, it nourishes a nest of worns that devour it, and sends forth a most insufferable stenca; so it is with our souls at a distance from God; it yields those evil affections that torment and consume it, and the ill scent of its crimes is offensive to heaven and earth. Of this kind of death our Saviour speaks to the Jews in this manner; “ If ye do not believe that I am he, ye sla! die in your sins," John viii. And to the angel of the church at Sardis, “ Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead," Rev. ii. The same death St. Paul mentions in the second chapter of the Colossians, and the second of the Ep'esians; “When we were dead in our trespasses and sins, Colbuch quickened us together with Christ.” And elsewhere he exhorts a sinful man, “ Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise rom the dead, and Christ shall give thee light,” Eph. v. And it is of the same kind of death that St. Paul speaks concerning the wanton widow, that “ she is dead while she liveth,” 1 Tim. v.
It was this kind of death that Adam suffered as soon as he had tasted of the forbidden fruit, according to God's threatening ; “ In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die the death.” For not only his body became ,subject to death, but his soul was also cast into the death of sin, and enslaved to corruption. It happened to him as to a lamp newly put out; the snuff yields a most ill-savoured scent.
As the life of grace is a preparative to the life of glory, and furnishes us with the foretaste of the heavenly joys ; so, on the contrary, the carnal life is as it were the suburbs of hell; it is the first beginning of an eternal death, and the entrance into the infernal pit. The eternal death is nothing else but an entire and irrecoverable separation of the soul and body from God, accompanied with infinite torments; torments unto which all the sufferings of this mortal life are light and inconsiderable : nevertheless, as the Spirit of God represents the heavenly joys and felicities by things that are most pleasant and delightful ; so, to express to us hell-torments, it borrows things that are the most dreadful and painful in this life: we are told of an abyss or furnace full of flames, a bottomless pit burning with fire and brimstone. The scrip. ture mentions chains of darkness, an eternal night, and an hell-fire, where there are weeping and gnashing of teeth. It tells us, that “ Tophet is ordained of old, yea, for the king it is prepared : he hath made it deep and large ;, the pile thereof is fire, and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it," Isa. xxx, 33.
Fancy to yourselves a man devoured with worms, burning
in hot flames, in continual torments, in whose wounds kindled brimstone is poured without intermission, with boiling lead, and burning pitch; if there be any other pains more
sharp and grievous, fancy them also. All this will give · us but a light and imperfect image of the state of hell; for
all the pangs of the body are nothing in comparison to the horrors, troubles, and incredible griefs, that shall for ever rack and torture the damned souls.
As shame aggravates our sufferings, and renders them more terrible, the damned shall be loaded with shame and infamy to all eternity; their names shall be bateful to God and his holy angels, and they shall be .cursed with an endless curse. And as it is an increase to our torment to suffer in the company of abominable varlets, and to become a companion of the most infamous rascals; they shall suffer with hell's executioner, and shall be sent to the fire prepared for the devil and his angels. All their senses shall share in these horrid torments; they shall be crushed in the wine-press of God's eternal wrath, and they shall feel for ever and ever the strokes of God's vengeance, and of his almighty band. They shall then learn, by experience, what a terrible thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God, and how insufferable that fire is that shall consume his enemies. Their eyes shall perceive nothing but the bottomless pit, the devil's image, and the furies of hell; their ears shall hear nothing but the horrible outcries and fearful roarings of tormented devils and damned souls. They shall be choaked with the noisome smell and fumes of the bottomless pit; they shall then drink the very dregs and bottom of God's anger and indignation, and they shall suck the venom of his arrows; fire and brimstone shall be the portion of their cup
The sufferings of this life are but short, and for a moment, but the torments of the damned shall never end: