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the seas a turmoil of outrageous surges, then to launch forth, hoist up sail, and set out for a long voyage into a far country.
Yet such is the skill of these evening-repenters, who, though in the soundness of their health, and perfect use of their reason, they cannot resolve to cut the cables and weigh the anchor that withholds them from God.*
Nevertheless, they feed themselves with a strong persuasion, that when they are astonied, their wits distracted, the understanding dusked, and the bodies and souls wracked and tormented with the throbs and gripes of a mortal sickness; then forsooth they will begin to think of their weightiest matters, and become sudden saints when they are scarce able to behave themselves like reasonable creatures.
No, if neither the canon, civil, nor the common law will allow that man perisheth in judgment, should make any testament of his temporal substance; how can he that is animated with inward garboils of an unsettled conscience, distrained with the wringing fits of his dying flesh, maimed in all his ability, and circled in on every side
*The foregoing beautiful similes, are remarkably characteristic of the nautical habits of their great author, whose excellencies have justly intitled him to be called the English Xenophon, Certainly, as it was said of that illustrious Athenian, so it may, with equal propriety, of our gallant countryman," that no man was more able to atchieve great actions, or more capable of recording them."
with many and strange incumbrances, be thought of due discretion to dispose of his chiefest jewel, which is his soul, and to dispatch the whole manage of all eternity, and of the treasures of heaven in so short a spurt?
No, no, they that will loiter in seed-time, and begin to sow when others reap; they that will riot out their health, and begin to cast their accounts when they are scarce able to speak; they that will slumber out the day, and enter their journey when the light doth fail them; let them blame their own folly if they die in debt, and be eternal beggars, and fall headlong into the lap of endless perdition.
SIR WALTER RALEGH.
IT is death alone that can suddenly make man to know himself. He tells the proud and insolent that they are but abjects, and humbles them at the instant, makes them cry, complain, and repent, yea, even to hate their fore passed happiness. He takes the account of the rich, and proves him a beggar, a naked beggar which hath interest in nothing, but in the gravel that fills his mouth. He holds a glass before the eyes of the most beautiful, and makes them see therein their deformity and rottenness, and they acknowledge it.
O eloquent, just, and mighty death! whom none could advise, thou hast persuaded; what none hath dared, thou hast done; and whom all the world hath flattered, thou only hast cast out
of the world and despised: thou hast drawn together all the far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and ambition of man, and covered it all over with these two narrow words, "Hic jacet." SIR WALTER RALEGH.
IT is the greatest glory of a christian to die daily, in conquering, by a lively faith and patient hopes of a better life, those partial and quotidian deaths, which kill us, as it were, by piece-meals, and make us over-live our own fates; while we are deprived of health, honour, liberty, power, credit, safety, or estate, and those other comforts of dearest relations, which are as the life of our lives.
BELIEVE it, sickness is not the fittest time, either to learn virtue, or to make our peace with God it is a time of distemper and discomposedness; those must be learned and practised before sickness comes, or it will be too late, or very difficult to do it after.
SIR MATTHEW HALE.
IT is the most certain known experienced truth
I think there will scarcely be found, in the works of any of our prosaic writers, a more beautiful and striking passage than the above apostrophe to Death, with which Sir Walter has closed his History of the World.
in the world, that all men must die, that the time of that death is uncertain, and yet most certainly it will come, and that within the compass of no long time though the time of our life might be protracted to its longest period, yet it is ten thousand to one that it will not exceed fourscore years; where one man attains to that age, ten thousand die before it; and this lecture is read unto us by the many casualties and diseases that put a period to the lives of many, in our own experience and observation; by the many warnings and monitions of mortality that every man finds in himself, either by the occurrences of diseases and weaknesses, and especially by the declinations that are apparent in us if we attain to any considerable age; and the weekly bills of mortality in the great city, where weekly there are taken away, ordinarily, three hundred persons. The monuments and graves in every church and church-yard, do not only evince the truth of it, whereof no man of understanding doubts, but do incessantly inculcate the remembrance of it.
And yet it is strange to see, that this great truth, whereof, in the theory, no man doubts, is little considered or thought upon by the most of mankind: but notwithstanding all these monitions and remembrances of mortality, the living lay it not to heart, and look upon it as a business that little concerns them; as if they were not concerned in this common condition of mankind,
and as if the condition of mortality only concerned them that actually die, or are under the immediate harbingers of it, some desperate or acute diseases; but concerned not them that are at present in health, or not under the stroke of a mortal sickness.
SIR MATTHEW HALE.
A WISE and due consideration of our latter end is neither to render us a sad, melancholy, disconsolate people, nor to render us unfit for the businesses and offices of our life; but to render us more watchful, vigilant, industrious, soberly, cheerful, and thankful to that God, that hath been pleased thus to make our lives serviceable to him, comfortable to us, profitable to others, and after all this, to take away the bitterness and sting of death, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
IT is the greatest imprudence in the world, to defer that business which is necessary to be done, unto such a time when it is very difficult to be done; and it is the greatest prudence in the world, to do that work which must be done, in such a season, wherein it may be easily and safely done. He that lays in this store of remembrance of his Creator, before the evil day come, will find it of the greatest use and service to him in that evil day. IBID