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the lingering sickness, the wasting strength, the progress of disease, the aching bones, the sunken eye, the livid flesh, and the convulsive throes,adding to all this, the enfeebled mind, and the nameless strugglings of sorrow, and remorse, and fear, which so often accompany the spirits of men in their great transit from this place of probation to the place of their destiny. Who can have seen these painful and humiliating causes at work, and not have been constrained to ask-And where shall my death-chamber be found? After what manner will my poor exit be appointed? How shall I meet the swellings of Jordan? Indeed, the only effect of a thoughtful reference to the causes of this event, if considered in themselves, must be to create that abject dismay which the Apostle has described by the term " bondage." They are none of them joyous, but grievous, and, taken together, they constitute the extreme of natural evil; nor is it a few who feel the vassalage which they are so powerful to impose.
The fear of death may be attributed, in part, to THE PAINFUL SEPARATIONS EFFECTED BY IT. When the soul of the rich man in the parable passed from its pampered abode to the world of spiritual natures, it was soon ascertained that his good things had all been received during his earthly life. To be removed from the earth was, in his case, to be removed from the place where his treasure and his heart had long been. It is with the ambitious, and the covetous, as with the
voluptuary:-they give their whole heart to present things, and, say what they may, with their whole heart, they must fear being torn away from them. If what they love most be on the earth, what they fear most must be the stroke which separates for ever between them and the earth. If there be any show of reconciliation in regard to such an event, it can only have proceeded from the heathen principle, that there is a dignity in submitting with calmness to what is inevitable :-like Cæsar, such men would gather their mantle round them, and appear the hero to the last.
But they are not merely selfish interests, or forbidden attachments, from which we are separated by death. There are connexions and pursuits which have much in them that is amiable, and generous, and even devout, from which men are severed by their dissolution. The husband would fain live to protect the partner of his present sojourn from the rude assaults of an evil world. The parent would not leave his children orphans in a region where the law of kindness is so imperfectly remembered. The friend would not be taken from his friend. Nor would the man, whose mind is filled with plans of self-improvement, and of future usefulness, be suddenly called away, and see all these pleasing visions change as a dream when one awaketh. Many ties like these, in addition to the lower earthliness of mankind, occur to make us frequently solicitous that our dying day may be a distant one.
Another source of fear adverted to, is observable in THE CONSEquences of DEATH WITH REGARD TO THE BODY. It is not easy to describe the feeling with which we visit that scene alone, where we have enjoyed the intercourse of those whom we shall never so meet again. We gaze on the inanimate objects that remain; and, in our thirst after some relieving sympathy, we endow them with a kind of consciousness. We call to mind who we there met, the things they said, and what they did ;— the well-constructed plans of one, the lightheartedness or buoyant hopes of another, and the multitude of anticipations, known to have been indulged by the rest. And where are they now? Alas, for human life! Some of the gayest, and some who bid fair to live long, and to accomplish much, have gone to the grave. Others, missing the good they were confident of obtaining, have sunk beneath a succession of evils little expected;—all, all, are now so scattered as never to meet on earth again! The heart which has not bled in its sadness, amid the scenes which call forth such remembrances, must be of stone, and not of flesh.
Still there is no deserted dwelling whose solitude or silence can bring such affecting recollections along with them as are called up while we gaze on a once-beloved house of clay from which the spirit has departed. The coldness, the silence, the insensibility of death, are all its own! The earthly tabernacle has lost its glory. While life continued, the eye retained its language, the ear received the
sounds addressed to it, the tongue gave utterance to thought and sympathy, and the pulsation, and warmth, and movement, of the whole frame, rendered the body an agreeable, and, perhaps, an intensely interesting object. But how changed when death comes! Remember what you may the past, it is that which returns no more. eye will no more tell of the animation within, the ear will no more vibrate to the music of the sweetest sounds, and the tongue has uttered its last good or evil. Moreover, there is a thought which can deepen the feeling of dismay with which we thus look on the dead, so as to make it nothing short of an emotion of terror; it is, that, even yet, the worst is not come, the grave having its darkness and loneliness to bring, and the worm its work to do there! In that gloomy house we reach the lowest state of degradation to which the body may descend, and from that state there is no exemption. All the distinctions and flatteries that may be heaped upon mortals, can only serve to clothe this process of unsparing humiliation with increased hatefulness and terror. The victims of deep wretchedness may sometimes covet a return to their dust, and may find a poor relief in speaking of the grave as a house where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest. But what can teach the gay, the prosperous, and the mighty, to say of corruption, Thou art my father, and of the worm, thou art my mother and sister! There is nothing either within us or around us
that may enable us so to do. No man may thus conquer the strong instincts of his nature, except it be given him from above. There is no true victory over these present evils, apart from the faith of future good.
Much of the fear with which death is regarded is sometimes the effect of THE POSSIBLE, OR PROBABLE CHARACTER OF THE SCENES BEYOND IT. We do not now refer to what is taught on this subject in the scriptures; but rather to the conjectures in relation to it, that have been supplied by the imagination or the reason of mankind. It is a large portion of the human race who have been left almost entirely to these incompetent guides; and even those who possess the certainties of divine revelation, are often as much influenced on this subject by the variableness of their own feelings and inferences. Where the mind is subject to such control, there is much in the manner of our removal from the world to beget alarming thoughts as to the future. Admitting that there are reasons which make it proper that men should be taken from the earth, after passing a brief space upon it, we do not see the need of making the manner of their dismission so humiliating and painful, unless it be to tell them of their sinfulness. And why remind them of this fact in such awful terms, just as they are leaving a state of trial, and about to appear in the place of judgment? Does not this seem to anticipate a fearful issue-to forebode tribulation and wrath? For if it be a fact that the Being, to whom we