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The WORTH of RELIGION in a DYING
SALMASIUS, the famous French scholar, after his many volumes of learning, by which he had acquired great venerations among men of books ; confessed, so far to have mistaken true learning, and that in which solid happiness consists, that he exclaimed thus against himself": -"Oh! I have lost a world of time ; time, that most precious thing in the world : where. of, had I but one year more, it should be spent in David's Psalnis, and Paul's Epistles. Oh! Sirs, (said he, to those about him) mind the world less, and God more. The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom ; and to depart from evil, that is understanding."
CARDINAŁ Wolsey, was highly famed for worldly wisdom, and the best erudition of his time ; and, besides, figured in as high a station as almost any sulject in Europe ever did. Yet this man lost the favor of his prince, and was forsaken by all his friends,except his faithful servant Thomas Cromwell, afterwards Earl of Essex. It is worth the pains to enquire, what he thought (then) of religion and profaneness, of the service of God and the world, the favor of Jehovah and the favor of princes. When
he splendor of courts and earthly grandeur, lid not dazzle his eyes, he could see truth, piety ind virtue, in all their native beauty and heav. inly lustre. Hear, O fluttering world! what his ambitious, but now degraded prelate says, addressing himself to his servant and only friend -in the style of the prince of dramatic poets, (SHAKESPEARE)
Cromwell, I did not think to shed a tear,
Mark but my fall, and that which ruin'd me!
O Cromwell, Cromwell,
These words are enough to draw tears from every feeling heart : and they bcar a noble testimony to the honor and excellence of Religion; given at a time when, men are the least used to flatter or dissemble.
It is appointed unto Men once to die.
CARDINAL Mazarine, reputed the most: consummate statesman any age ever knew, but wliose great aim in life was, the grandeur of the world ;, when somewhat awakened by the smart
lashes of conscience, with astonishment and tears he cried out, “O my poor soul ! what will become of Thee? Whither wilt thou go?" And turning to the Queen Mother of France, said, “ Madam, your favors have undone me: Were I to live again, I would be a Capuchin rather than a Courtier."
And turnitadam, your favo would be a C
THE Emperor Adrian (of whom it is reported that he possessed the faculty of memory to so extraordinary a degree , as to be capable of repeating a whole book by heart, however difficult, only by once reading it) previous to his death, entertained apprehensions of the immor. tality of the Soul, &c. and trembled at the approaches of Death, having never trembled before. He says, My little soul, my dearest dar. ling; O, guest and companion of my body!whither, ah, whither art thou now going ?
CHARLES V. Emperor of Germany, after many pitched battles, many triumphs and king. doms conquered, &c. resigned up all his pomp, and betook himself to retirement ; leaving this testimony behind him, concerning the life he spent in the honors and pleasures of the world, and in the little time of his retrcat from them all ; " That the sincere study, profession, and practice of the Christian religion, had in it joys and sweetness for our days of life, and gave a blessed serenity in the hour of death, which courts were strangers to, and guilty pleasures could never produce."
PHILIP III. King of Spain, (grandson to the former) reflecting on the life he had led, cried out upon his death-bed;" Ah ! how happy were I, had I spent these twenty-three years, during which I have held my kingdom, in the service of my Maker. My concern is now for my soul, not my body !”
SIR JOHN Mason was privy-counsellor to four princes, and an eye-witness of the various vicissitudes of his time. Towards his latter end, being on his death-bed, he called his clerk and steward ; and spoke thus to them Lo, here have I lived to see five princes, and have been privy-counsellor to four of them. I have seen the most remarkable observeables in for
eign parts, and been present at inost transac,tions, for thirty years together : and I have learned this, after so many years experience ; that seriousness is the greatest wisdom, temperance the best physic, and a good conscience the best estate : And were I to live again, I would change the court for a cloyster, my privy-coun. sellor's bustle for an hermit's retirement, and the whole life I lived, in the palace, for an hour's enjoyment of God, in the chapel. All things else forsake me, besides my God, my duty, and my prayers.”
THE renowned John Locke, wrote as follows to his friend Anthony Collins, to be delivered to him after his decease " I know you loved me when living, and will preserve my memory when I am dead : All the use to be made of it is, that this life is a scene of vanity, which soon passes away, and affords no solid satisfaction, but in the conciousness of doing well, & in the hopes of another life. This is what I can say upon experience, and what you will find to be true when you come to make up the account. Adieu! I leave my best wishes with you."
HUGO GROTIUS, of whom these latter ages think they have not had a man of more uni. versal knowledge, witness his annals, his book De Jure Belli, &c. He winds up his life and choice in this remarkable saying, which should abate the edge of other men's inordinate desire after what they falsely call learning, namely : “I would give all my learning and honor for the plain integrity of John Urick," who was a religious poor man, that spent his whole time in labor, contemplation, and prayer. And to one that admired his great industry, he returned this by way of complaint : Ah! I have consumed my life in laboriously doing nothing. And to another, that enquired of his wisdom and learning, what course to take ? he solemnly answered, Be serious. Such was the sense he had, how much a serious life excelled, and was of force towards a dying hour.
· AND we may add, that, not only the ancient Philosophers, Kings, and Statesmen have found the importance of RELIGION, in a dying hour; but it is found by experience, to be worth as much now as it ever was.