Изображения страниц

thousand pretences of generosity, disinterestedness and friendship, into the soul of a false friend, who aims at nothing but gratifying his own avarice or ambition. He must watch night and day to fix his riches, which having wings are always ready to fly away. How difficult is it for a soul, distracted with so many cares, to devote as much time to work out salvation as a labor so important requires! How necessary is it to make up by retirement and recollection in the last stages of life, what has been wanting in days of former hurry, and which are now no more! I recollect, and I apply to Barzillai, a saying of a captain, of whom historians have taken more care to record the wisdom than the name. It is said, that the saying struck the Emperor Charles V. and confirmed him in his design of abdicating his crown, and retiring to a convent. The captain required the Emperor to discharge him from service. Charles asked the reason. The prudent soldier replied, Because there ought to be a pause between the hurry of life and the day of death.


3. In fine, if Barzillai seemed to anticipate his dying day by continually meditating on the subject, it was because the meditation, full of horror to most men, was full of charms to this good old When death is considered as a companion with condemnatory sentences, formidable, irreversible decrees, chains of darkness, insupportable tortures, smoke ascending up for ever and ever, blazing fires, remorse, rage, despair, desperate exclamations, mountains and rocks fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand? Rev. x. 11. and vi. 16, 17. When we consider death, as so many men, alas! ought to

consider it, and as by their continual irregularities. they prepare it for consideration, no wonder the thought is disagreeable, and must be put far away. But when death is considered as some of you, my brethren, ought to consider it, you whose faults have been washed with penitential tears, and re-. paired by a real conversion, your view of death is more delightful, and affords you more pleasure than ́ the tables of the great, the amusements of a court, and the most melodious concerts could procure. Then these expressions, in appearance so mortifying, let me return, let me die, are fraught with happiness.

Let me die, that I may be freed from the many infirmities, and diseases and pains, to which my frail body is exposed!

Let me die, that I may get rid of the misfortunes, the treachery, the perfidy, the numerous plots and plans, which are always in agitation. against me in a society of mankind!

Let me die, and let me no more see truth persecuted, and innocence sacrificed to iniquity!

Let me die, let all my doubts and darkness vanish, let me surmount all my difficulties, and let all the clouds that hide interesting objects from me disappear! Let me go to know as I am known, and let me put off this body of sin! Let me leave a world, in which I cannot live without offending God! Let me kindle the fire of my love at the altar of the love of God!

Let me die, and leave this untoward company of men, who seem almost all to have taken counsel against the Lord, and against his anointed, to subvert his throne; and, were it possible, to deprive him of the government of the world!

Let me die, that I may form intimate connections with happy spirits, and that I may enjoy that

[ocr errors]

close union with them, that communion of ideas, that conformity of sentiments, which render heaven so delightful!

Let me die, that I may behold the patriarchs and the prophets, who acquired in the church an everlasting reputation, and on whose heads God hath already placed the crowns, which he promised to their faith and obedience!

Let me die, that I may hold communion with the happy God! I feel a void within me, which none but he can fill; I feel desires elevating me to his throne; I feel my soul longing and fainting, my heart and my flesh crying out, when I think of presenting myself before him, Psal. lxxxiv. 2. Doth my heart say seek his face? Thy face, O Lord, will I seek! Psal. xxvii. 8. And, as in this vale of tears thou art always hidden, I will seek thee in another œconomy !

A meditation of death such as this hath charms unknown to the world: but to you, my brethren, they are not unknown. The prospect of dying is better to Barzillai than all the pleasures of a court. A tomb appears more desirable to him than a royal palace. Let me turn back, that I may die, and be buried by the grave of my father and my mother! May we all by a holy life prepare for such a death! God grant us grace to do so! To him be honor and glory for ever! Amen.




Col. iv. 6.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt.


T is a complaint, as old as the study of human nature, that mankind are prone to excess, that they never observe a just mean, that in practising one virtue, they neglect another, that in avoiding one vice, they run into an opposite; in a word, that men usually go into extremes. This general maxim, which is exemplified in almost all the actions of men, is particularly remarkable in those familiar conversations, which religion allows, which society renders necessary, and for which God seems to have purposely formed us. Observe the conduct of men in this article, you will find every where excesses and extremes. On the one hand, you will see rude and uncivil people putting on in the most innocent companies austere looks, ever declaiming against the manners of the world, exclaiming against every body, affecting to be offended with every thing, and converting every company into a court of justice resounding with sentences against the guilty. On the other hand, you will find people, under pretence of avoiding this extreme, exceeding the bounds of religion, and imagining that, in order to please in conversation, christianity must be laid aside, and each expression must have an air

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »