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the sight of this last conflict, I felt a sensation never known to me before, a confusion of
passions, an awful stillness of sorrow, a gloomy terrour without a name. The thoughts that entered my soul were too strong to be diverted, and too piercing to be endured; but such violence cannot be lasting: the storm subsided in a short time. I wept, retired, and grew calm.
** I have, from that time, frequently revolved in my mind, the effects which the observation of death produces in those who are not wholly without the power and use of reflection ; for, by far the greater part, it is wholly unregarded; their friends and their enemies sink into the grave without raising any uncommon emotion, or reminding them that they are themselves on the edge of the precipice, and that they must soon plunge into the gulph of eternity.
"Surely, nothing can so much disturb the passions, or perplex the intellects of man, as the disruption of his union with visible nature; a separation from all that has hitherto delighted or engaged him; a change not only of the place,
but the manner of his being; an entrance into a state, not simply which he knows not, but which, perhaps, he has not faculties to know; an immediate and perceptible communication with the supreme Being, and, what is above all distressful and alarming, the final sentence, and unalterable allotment.
“Yet we, to whom the shortness of life has given frequent occasions of contemplating mortality, can, without emotion, see generations of men pass away, and are at leisure to establish modes of sorrow, and adjust the ceremonial of death. We can look upon funeral
pomp as a common spectacle in which we have no concern, and turn away from it to trifles and amusements, without dejection of look, or inquietude of heart.
It is, indeed, apparent from the constitution of the world, that there must be a time for other thoughts; and a perpetual meditation upon the last hour, however it may become the solitude of a monastery, is inconsistent with many duties of common life. But surely the remembrance of death ought to predominate in our minds as an habitual and settled principle, always operating
though not always perceived; and our attention should seldom wander so far from our own condition, as not to be recalled and fixed by the sight of an event, which must soon, we know not how soon, happen likewise to ourselves, and of which, though we cannot appoint the time, we may secure the consequence.
"Every instance of death may justly awaken our fears, and quicken our vigilance; but its frequency so much weakens its effect, that we are seldom alarmed, unless some close connexion is broken, some scheme frustrated, or some hope defeated. Many, therefore, seem to pass on from youth to decrepitude without any reflection on the end of life, because they are wholly involved within themselves, and look on others only as inhabitants of the common earth, without any expectation of receiving good, or intention of bestowing it.
"Custom so farregulates the sentiments of common minds, that I believe men may be generally observed to grow less tender as they advance in age. He who, when life was new, melted at
the loss of every companion, can look in time, without concern, upon the grave into which his last friend was thrown, and into which himself is ready to fall: not that he is more willing to die than formerly, but that he is more familiar to the death of others, and therefore is not alarmed, so far as to consider how much nearer he approaches to his end. But this is to submit tamely to the tyranny of accident, and to suffer our reason to lie useless.
Every funeral may justly be considered as a summons to prepare us for that state, into which it shews us that we must sometime enter; and the summons is more loud and piercing, as the event of which it warns as is at less distance, To neglect, at any time, preparation for death, is to sleep on our post at a siege, but to omit it in old age, is to sleep at
• It has always appeared to me one of the most strikingpassages in the visions of Quevedo, which stigmatizes those as fools who complain that they failed of happiness by sudden death. ‘How,' says, he, 'can death be sudden to a being who always
knew that he must die, and that the time of his death was uncertain ?'
Since business and gaiety are always drawing our attention away from a future state, some admonition is frequently necessary to recal it to our minds, and what can more properly renew the impression than the examples of mortality which every day supplies? The great incentive to virtue is the reflection that we must die : it will therefore be useful to accustom ourselves, whenever we see a funeral, to consider how soon we may be added to the number of those whose probation is past, and whose happiness or misery shall endure for ever.'
That it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, are truths generally admitted: why then, it may be asked, are we so unwilling to contemplate the hour of departure ; why so reluctant to review a life of which an account must be given, and which, if it have not been wholly devoted to vicious pleasures, has, perhaps, been wasted in the pursuit of trifles,