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I CORINTHIANS XV. VERSE XXXI.
I protest, by your rejoicing, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
THUS it is that the apostle brought daily before his mind the consideration of his death; of that period which was to terminate the good, and evil, of his days; and to bring him before his Saviour, and his Judge: He exerted his ardent imagination to banish the consciousness of life, and health, to summon up images of sorrow, and to draw a true portrait of that solemn, and suffering day. Let us see, after the example of this great minister of the gospel, if there be not some wisdom in cherishing,
beneath my feet, all the pleasures of the world; and then ask me to pawn my soul unto sin;—but if I do the thing which is evil to day, to-morrow thou canst not save me from death,-and the wasting fever may not leave me one moment of guilty renown.
Meditation on death improves the mind, by destroying in it trifling discontents, and by blunting the force of all the malevolent passions; the feelings of malice, jealousy, and hatred, cannot coexist with the prospect of the last hour, with the notion of a new world, and the terror of a just God ;-the thought of an eternal parting subdues hatred, and produces, in miniature, all the effects of a real scene of death; it diminishes the importance of the offence we have suffered, awakens that candor which self-love has set to sleep, and makes us think, not of the trifling scenes which are past, but of the awful events which are to come. Such a disposition of mind severs, at once, all the little and unworthy attachments to life, and prevents us from grieving at small evils, from the lively representation which it makes, that they cannot endure;
that we are hastening on to something better, and greater; and, that it is beneath the wisdom, and firmness of man, to weep and lament, for that which is as brief in duration, as it is insignificant in effect.
Meditation on death aggrandises the mind, as the near approach of death itself is commonly accustomed to do;--for, though men are accused of acting on their death-bed, they usually act greatly, and evince an heroism of which their lives have afforded little, or no symptom. For what are the last scenes we witness of dying men? A forgiveness of injuries, which should have been forgiven years before; an avowal of faults, which should have been avowed, and rectified, before half the race of life was run; a confession of Christ, who had been denied before the world; sudden, and sublime flashes of wisdom, piety, and magnanimity, which bear no relation to the previous life, but indicate how awful, and how omnipotent, are the warnings of death.
If the distant contemplation of death cannot so effectually inspire us with godly thoughts, it, at least, leaves us greater time for godly actions;-whatever seeds it casts into the mind may spring up, and fructify; none of its energies need be barren; death frustrates none of its admonitions; the feeblest thought of piety has time to expand itself into a wise, and active system of good works.
Meditation on death induces us to consider by what means we shall avert its terrors; when our hour is come, we cannot discover that the ordinary objects of human desire, and the ordinary sources of human gratification, will be then of any avail; and we are thus led, by an happy foresight, to lay up the remembrance of good actions, even when the last day is still far distant from us. Can we figure to ourselves anything more dreadful than an human being at the brink of death, who has never once reflected that he is to die? To hear those cries of anguish, to which nothing human can now minister relief?-to behold him looking up to the warm sun, and clinging