Monday, June 6, 2016

Facing Death Head-on, by John Brookes 1841

Facing Death Head-on, by John Brookes 1841

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See also Is There Life After Death? - 175 Books on DVDrom (Eschatology - Immortality) and The Mysteries of Death - 250 Books on DVDrom

Hence, death means change—transformation— which is stamped upon everything in this nether world. The globe on which we live has ever since its creation been undergoing a series of organic changes. The splendid palaces and magnificent temples reared by the genius of antiquity—where are they? With few exceptions they have passed away. The sweet and beautiful flower—fit emblem of death, whose fragrance and loveliness afford us so much pleasure—buds into life and then expires. This spirit of change or death pervades alike the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. Organic bodies become separated into their constituent elements—these elementary particles unite with other bodies, and new structures are reared. "What we call destruction or death is but a change of elements: annihilation is a moral and physical impossibility. Nothing God has created ever ceases to exist, though it may assume a new shape. As Longfellow, in his "Resignation," says—

"There is no death! What seems so is transition."

To an earnest, intelligent mind the subject of death possesses great attractions. Its awful sublimity—the mysteries which hang over it—and its natural association with all that is tender and pathetic invest it with a charm to which it is impossible for the man of feeling and taste to be insensible.

What more sublime than the transition of a soul from one state of being to another! What more mysterious than the passage of the disembodied spirit through the valley of death! Who can tell the feelings of the traveller or the visions of the place? A wise man walks thoughtfully on the silent shore of that vast ocean on which he so soon must sail: he buys oil, does not wait to beg it—he does not let the seven years of plenty pass by without providing for the seven years of famine.

There are very few of us incapable of enjoying the life God has given to us; and if we only looked at Death aright, philosophically and religiously, there are few of us—could we live to a good old age— who would not greet the angel Death with joy—for is he not an angel sent to us by our good and kind Father to conduct us out of this world of trouble, trials and discipline to a happier and a better world? Then, my friend, let not your imagination paint him with such an ugly countenance. Look him in the face calmly and genially. Death cannot be a real evil to us, because it is common to every member of God's great family.

Every man must die—that is a fact. No man, however wise, strong or great, can doubt the certainty of his dying. Then why try to get away from a necessity?

"The fell serjeant death is strict in his arrest."

"Thou know'st 'tis common; all that live must die 
   Passing through nature to eternity." 

"Why courage then! what cannot be avoided, 
  'Twere childish weakness to lament, or fear." 

These wonderfully constructed tabernacles we now inhabit—these temples in which the Divine Sparks are—must ere long crumble into dust—earth must return to earth, water to water, gas to gas—the body must be eaten by worms, and the fatter the body is the greater the feast! But let not this trouble you in any way, because you know or should do, that one of Nature's laws is—Eat and be eaten!

Did you ever compute the number of spirits who go out of this planet yearly, monthly, weekly, hourly? If you have you must have exclaimed—How great and how common! Imagine the reality—people dying in this small circle of ours on an average as fast as you can count—about one in every second of time! Be on the qui vive—look out for your turn. Prepare to meet your Father, for you must go hence.

The man who dies at an advanced age expires in detail—little by little. Each of the ties which connects him to this world is severed very gradually, and when the body is no longer fit for the soul to inhabit, the Infinite part of him bids the finite—farewell. Actual death has been compared to a person falling asleep-

 "Sleep after toil, port after stormy seas, 
  Ease after war, death after life, doth greatly please." 

    "The sleeping and the dead 
Are but as pictures; 'tis the eye of childhood 
That fears a painted devil." 

"Cowards die many times before their death; 
 The valiant never taste of death but once. 
 Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, 
  It seems to me most strange that men should fear— 
  Seeing that death, a necessary end, 
  Will come when it will come." 

           "Dar'st thou die? 
The sense of death is most in apprehension." 

In Sartor Resartus is this fine passage—"I asked myself: What art thou afraid of? Wherefore, like a coward, dost thou for ever pip and whimper, mid go cowering and trembling? Despicable biped! what is the sum-total of the worst that lies before, thee? Death? Well, Death; and say the pangs of Tophet too, and all that the Devil and Man may, will or can do against thee! Hast thou not a heart; canst thou not suffer whatso it be; and, as a Child of Freedom, though outcast, trample Tophet itself under thy feet, while it consumes thee? Let it come, then; I will meet it and defy it! And as I so thought, there rushed like a stream of fire over my whole soul; and I shook base Fear away from me for ever. I was strong, of unknown strength; a spirit, almost a god. Ever from that time, the temper of my misery was changed: not Fear or whining Sorrow was it, but Indignation and grim fire-eyed Defiance and then it was that my whole Me stood up, in native God-created majesty It is from this hour that I incline to date my Spiritual New-birth perhaps I directly thereupon began to be a Man."

Fear is generally synonymous with ignorance. Death often strikes fear into the heart—therefore he who fears death is probably ignorant of what it really is. The best means of destroying fear is to examine the cause thereof, and then act as Reason and Conscience direct. Since a man knows he must die, he should calmly and manfully consider what death is—so that when the time for his departure arrives he may go into the spirit-world bravely, having a strong confidence in God.

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