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Our Author uses a remarkable Metaphor in this Passage: he talks, or rather babbles, concerning $ putting on undecent Pastime.”—If one were disposed to banter, it might be observed, that a Wardrobe of “ undecent Pastime" must consist of
very light Habits ! It may be questioned also, whether in any Affliction we can discover “ too
Ren “signation ?”
CHAP. CHAP. III.
Of following the Corpse to the Grave, what it is an
Emblem of: Of carrying Greens in our Hand, what it signifies, what use it may be of: Of Psalmody, its Antiquity, the Advantage and Use
IT hath been observed among all Nations, both in the Heathen and the Christian World, as a becoming and profitable Ceremony, to follow the Corps to the Grave. The Heathens observed it, * because it presented to them, what would shortly follow, how they themselves should be so carried out, and laid down in the Grave. The going of the Corpse before, shewed that their Friend was gone before them to the State of Death ; and their following after, was as much as to say, that they must also in a short time follow him thither. For this Reason the Christian also observes the Custom, and may, if he pleases, as he follows the Body to the Grave, entertain himself with a pious Meditation upon it, in such like Thoughts as these of the Psalmist. Thou art GOD from Everlasting, and World without End; Thou turnest Man to Destruction; again, Thou sayest, Come again ye Children of Men. For a thousand Years in thy Sight are but as Yesterday, seeing that is past as a Watch in the Night. As soon as thou scatterest them, they are even as a Sleep, and fude away suddenly like the Grass. In the Morning it is green and groweth up, but in the Evening it is cut down, dried up and withered. Do thou therefore, O LORD, † let me know my End, and the Number of my Days, that I may be certified how long 1 have to live. Behold thou hast made my Days, as it were a Span long, and mine Age is nothing in respect of Thee; and verily every Man living is altogether Vanity. And now, LORD, what is my Hope? Truly my Hope is even in Thee. Deliver me from all mine Offences, and 0 spare me a little that I may recover my Strength, before I go hence and be no more seen. Such Thoughts as these of our Friend's, and of our own More tality, would excite us to prepare for our own Change.
* Præcedenti pompa funebri, viți sequuntur, tanquam haudmulto post morituri. Al. ab. Alex. Lib. 3 p. 67. Et Pol. Vir. Lib. 6. C. 10. p.495.
blem of our dying shortly after our Friend, so the carrying of Ivy, or Laurel, or Rosemary, or some of those Ever-Greens, is an Emblem of the Soul's Immortality. It is as much as to say, That though the Body be dead, yet the Soul is Ever-Green and always in Life:It is not like the Body, and those other Greens which die and revive again at their proper Seasons, no Autumn nor Winter can make a Change in it, but it is unalterably the same, perpetually in Life, and never dying. The Romans, and other Heathens upon
this Occasion, made Use of Cypress, which being once cut, will never flourish nor grow any more, as an Emblem of their dying for ever, and being no more in Life. But instead of that, the antient Christians used the Things before mentioned; they * laid them under the Corps in the Grave, to signify, that they who die in Christ, do not cease to live. For though, as to the Body they die to the World, yet, as to their Souls, they live to God.
vel laurus & hujusmodi, quæ semper ser, vant virorem, in sarchophago corpori substernuntur, ad significandum quod qui moriuntur in Christo, vivere nec desinunt. Nam licet mundo moriantur secundum corpus, tamen secundum animam vivunt & reviviscunt Deo. Durand. Rit. Lib. 7. C. 35. de Offic. Mort.
And as the carrying of these Ever-Greens is an Emblem of the Soul's Immortality, so it is also of the Resurrection of the Body: For as these Herbs are not entirely pluck'd up, but only cut down, and will, at the returning Season, revive and spring up again; so the Body, like them, is but cut down for a while, and will rise and shoot up again at the Resurrection. For, as the Prophet Isaiah says, * Our Bones shall flourish like an Herb.
It was customary – among the ancient Jews, as they returned from the Grave, to pluck up the Grass two or three Times, and then throw it behind them, saying these Words of the Psalmist, They shall
flourish out of the City like Grass upon the Earth : Which they did, to shew, that the Body, though Dead, should spring up again as the Grass. Thus by these two antient Ceremonies, we have placed before our Eyes, our Mortality and Immortality; the one speaks the Death of the Body, the other the Life of the Soul, nay, and the Life of the Body too; for like that Herb we carry, it is not quite pluck’d up, but shall one Day be alive again. When it hath laid in the Earth the Winter Season, the Continuance of this
* Isa. Ixiii. 14.
4. Greg. C. 26.