« AnteriorContinuar »
LIFE AN D D E A T H.
I. A SURVEY of the BREVITY and VANITY of HUMAN LIFE; with
the Consolation administered by the Christian System against both.
II. CONSIDERATIONS on St. Paul's Wish, to depart and be with
With an APPENDIX on the INTERMEDIATE STATE.
III. A COMMENTARY on Rev. xiv. 13. in wbich the Nature of
DEATH is farther considered.
X Survey of the Brevity and Vanity of Human Life:
With the Consolation administered by the Christian System against both.
THE mortality of man is no where described with so much propriety and elegance of expression, as in that passage of the book of Job, which the Church hath adopted as a part of her burial-service; placing it in the front of those short and solemn sentences, which are repeated at the side of a Grave, and in which all the powers of language are suminoned together, to strike the minds of the hearers with commiseration, devotion, and self-abasement.--Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble ! He cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth as a shadow, and continueth not. Job xiv. 1, %.
It is generally easier to understand any thing in its image than in itself, provided the image is well adapted. This method presents a subject to us under à compendium, which, if loosely considered, would be too large for the mind to comprehend; and might also be weakened by being extended. In its effect it certainly exceeds all others; on which account, Ora
tors, Poets, and Mythologists, who have been skilful in their several ways, have never failed to apply themselves to the human mind through the interposition of sensible objects.
The relation between the visible world and the intellectual being very extensive, the most striking figures of speech must occur to us in that book, wherein the intellectual world is best understood and ex. plained.
The vanity of human life is a wide subject: but it is here represented to us in a short compass, under the two images of a flower and a shadow.
Man cometh forth as a flower. The flowers of the field rise out of the earth; and man is also made of the dust. As the flower grows up, it is exposed to all the varieties of the weather; 'to rough blasts and clouded skies: it is driven to and fro with the wind, and receives upon its tender head impetuous rain and storm from above. Man, in like manner, is frail and weak in his constitution, as the grass of the field; and from his infancy is exercised with trouble. ---La- bour of body and carefulness of mind he is sure to inherit: to which are frequently added the loss of health and strength which easily depart from him, and are not to be renewed, without the utmost difficulty and uncertainty. His temporal affairs are perplexed with unexpected disappointments : nay, the very comforts of his life are the sources of new trouble. If his possessions, his friends, or relations are dear to him, it is so uncertain whether they are to abide with him, or he with them, that he is exposed to perpetual fears and dejections of mind upon their account; and may really suffer as much, or more, from - his nearest friends as from his greatest enemies. And
if his comforts and blessings can yield him trouble,