Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

amazed me; for they hunted through the field in a silent pursuit of Death, and as soon as they beheld him, plunged themselves into his devouring jaws.

Many such instances I saw, but must at present forbear relating them, lest the length of my dream 'should give occasion to people of a censorious spirit, to charge me with over-sleeping my time: but what I saw filled me with uncommon concern for my fellowcreatures, who are under the arrest of Death before they are aware-hurried off from the stage of action; before they well know themselves to be - mortal. Grieved to see the thoughtless stupidity of blinded mortals, and the unretarded havock made of them by merciless Death, I cried out in the bitterness of soul, “O that they were wise and understood this! O that · they would consider their latter end!"

As I was thus breathing forth desires after the happiness of my contemporaries, a venerable personage approached, and accosted me thus: “ Young man I perceive that the visible destruction brought upon mankind, hath filled your heart with honest concern: you mourn to them, but they will not lament; you pipe unto them, but they will not dance; rather for your pains, they will laugh you to scorn, and bait you under the ridiculous name of Fanatic. Mankind, prone to sensual pleasures, and enslaved to fleshly Justs, will not, cannot bear your serious admonitions: but if you please to go along with me, I will shew you somewhat of the various forms of death as it is met with by saints and sinners: which discovery, it attended with the divine blessing, may be of great advantage to you all the days of your life.”

Being naturally of an inquisitive mind, I readily embraced the offered favour, gratefully thanked the gentleman, and pleased myself with hopes of seeing much of the monster Death, with whom I expected, ere long, in cruel conflict to encounter.-But, dear sir, said I, before we depart from hence, let me beg to be acquainted with the story of yonder lady, who was so'rudely served by the merciless tyrant. The lady, said he, after whom you inquire, was named Teresa,

the only daughter of a wealthy gentleman and lady in the neighbourhood; she was blessed with a person peculiarly elegant and pleasing; her countenance displayed the most agreeable softness, and her snowy skin even vied with the feathers of the swan for whiteness; her shape was faultless in the eye of the most discerning in every part finished with the most perfect symmetry.

Thus accomplished, she was taught from her cradle to value herself upon her beauty and gentility, and her fond and foolish parents soothed her vanity by all that their dotage could contrive: no care nor expence was thought too much to render her education perfectly polite, and to set off the graces of her frame to the best advantage: but little or no care was taken to improve the infinitely more valuable soul.

Her taste for dress was so remarkably elegant; her manner of dancing so particularly genteel; such was her great dexterity at cards; and so singularly happy was she in devising schemes, and forming parties of pleasure, that she became the most celebrated toast of the day. Thus she lived, ravished with false pleasures, and dead to every serious and divine principle, till Death seized her unawares, and hurried her off from all her delights into a dreadful and unthought-of eternity, where we leave her in a state for ever unalterable, and go over to yonder building, to see what may be learned there.

This said, he conducted me through the spacious meadow, towards a magnificient building of the most curious architecture, erected on four rows of columns, partly of the Corinthian, and partly of the Ionic order, in one corner of the enamelled plain; which place we entered without formality, my guide leading the way. He was now pleased to take me by the hand, and lead me into a chamber, where were several people of both sexes attending a sick man who lay in dreadful distress on a bed of sorrow; he was, to all appearance, very near the expiring moment; every one waited for the last convulsive throe. My guide having, by some wisdom peculiar to himself, rendered

us both invisible; unperceived either by him or his attendants, we went up close to his bed-side. He started -he stared, and his eyes rolled most frightfully in his head, as if they had followed some terrible apparition, suddenly traversing the room ; then he was seized with convulsive agonies which distorted every one of his feeble organs. In this strange confusion of mind and awful distress of body, he vehemently struck with both hands and feet, as if environed with deathly enemies, from whom he desired an asylum of safety, and with an eye sanguine beyond conception, he looked on those who attended at his bed-side, as if he would have said, “O that you could help me now in my last difficulties! Ye were the companions and assistants of my former pleasures : but now, alas! ye intermeddle not with my pain. The redemption of the soul is precious, and ceaseth for ever. Othat I had been strangled in the birth, or dropped into the grave from my mother's breast, before I had begun my life of rebellion."

I thought in my dream, that a neighbouring minister came in with a design to assist the dying man in his last extremity; he prayed for, and would have conversed with him, but all to no purpose, for the distressed dilinquent continued in growing anguish, and could not endure either his prayers or conversation, The mourning relations procured what assistance could be had from the faculty, by all possible means to prevent the success of the ghastly destroyer : but, alas his disease was bevond the power of physic to suppress, His trembling heart beat thick with horror, and found not room sufficient for fair play in his roomy chest whilst the rank venom of the deadly fever shot through his bowels like a burning arrow, and drank up the streams of life'; yet, still studious for his relief, they poured the physic into his tormented body, which only served to augment his pain. Ah, said I, how feeble are all our friendly efforts, when our unhappy acquaintance has to do with Death! Alas! what avails it to possess strong and brawny limbs, or square and well-built shoulders, seeing a fit

of common sickness debilitates the most robust! O may my glorying be founded on that which neither sickness nor Death can destroy! I was deeply affected with the melancholy spectacle; his tender wife and other dear relatives stood round his bed, bedewing it with floods of tears; whilst, mad with despair, he tugs eagerly for life, and in dying rage clinches what comes next to hand. O my soul! sure it is a solemn thing to die: and tremendous! to die in despair, how dreadful! Even his little children forgot to play, and learned to be serious. In a chamber adjacent to that of their dying father, they looked wishfully on each other, and gave vent to their infant sorrows. I could not stand the mournful sight, without mingling my tears with theirs. My guide, perceiving the impression which the affecting scene had made upon me, rebuked my want of resolution, in being so much depressed before one half of the scene was unfolded ; and I, sensible of my defect, submissively yielded to the reprool of my wise superior, I thought, that, pleased with my submission, he opened a box of invaluable ointment, and therewith anointed my eyes, whereby they were so much strengthened, that I could readily see things which in themselves are altogether invisible to the unassisted natural eye. Then it was I soon perceived, that those convulsive pangs, distorted features, rolling eyes, wild and distracted looks, &c. were not merely the effects of nature struggling with the growing disease, but proceeded mostly from a mentalcause. A fearful avenue was opened before him, leading into a dreadful eternity, at the not far distant end of which avenue, he beheld the tremen-, dous reward of all his ungodliness; this, this it was which caused such perturbation in his distracted mind; this it was which made Death so terribly dreadful to him; and this it is which affected my mind, now I relate the story. :.

Nature, utterly reluctant to be dissolved, exerted her strongest powers, and made her utmost efforts to preserve the union betwixt soul and body inviolafe. The alarmed soul, having so undesirable a prospect

before her, shrunk down into the lowest caverns of the heart, as it were to hide herself from the researches of Death, which she saw approaching to dislodge her, and joined issue with shocked Nature, to repel the power of the fierce destroyer. But soon, very soon, enfeebled Nature, having exhausted her strength, swooned into helpless inactivity; then the frightened soul, finding herself deserted by her weak ally, seemed half persuaded to yield the debate. Then she quitted her interior lurking places, and, quaking as she passed through the lanes of life, ascended to the pale quivering lips, where she sat astonished at the dire event. I thought then of the propriety of those verses of the celebrated Dr. Watts.

« Death! 'tis a melancholy day

To those that have no God,
When the poor soul is forc'd away,

To seek her last abode :

In vain to heav'n she lifts her cyes;

But guilt, a heavy chain,
Still drags her downward from the skies,

To darkness, fire, and pain."

Dread amazement seized her, when she beheld lurking in the chamber a train of ghastly furies waiting to carry her thence: Precipitately back she fled, resumed her possession of the interior regions, roused up the residue of nature, fled to every avenue, and wildly shrieked for help,: bút all in vain her unequal resistance: for Death, like a staunch murderer, stood firm to his purpose, and closely pursued her through all the lanes of life, till he drove her out of the confines of mortality: at last the fatal moment came, vanquished Nature laid down her arms, the weary heart forbore to throb, and Death displayed the trophies of victory all around.

Death having broke through all the redoubts of desolated Nature, the dismayed ghost, now forced forth from her wonted dwelling, remained in a defenceless condition, exposed to the insults of merciless fiends,

« ForrigeFortsæt »