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The Close of Life.-By Blair. -See plates 11 and 12.
When we contemplate the close of life ; the termination of man's designs and hopes; the silence that now reigns among those who, a little while ago, were so busy, or so gay; who can avoid being touched with sensations at once awful and tender? What heart but then warms with the glow of humanity? In whose eye does not the tear gather, on revolving the fate of passing and short-lived man?
Behold the poor man who lays down at last the burden of his wearisome life. No more shall he groan under the load of poverty and toil. No more shall he hear the insolent calls of the master, from whom he received his scanty wages. No more shall he be raised from necdful slumber on his bed of straw, nor be hurried away from his homely meal, to undergo the repeated labours of the day.
While his humble grave is preparing, and a few poor and decayed neighbours are carrying him thither, it is good for us to think, that this man too was our brother; that for him the aged and destitute wife, and the needy children, now weep; that, neglected as he was by the world, he possessed, perhaps, both a sound understanding, and a worthy heart; and is now carried by angels to rest in Abraham's bosom.
At no great distance from him, the grave is open to receive the rich and proud man. For, as it is said with emphasis in the parable, “ the rich man also died, and was buried.' He also died. His riches prevented not his sharing the same fate with the poor man; perhaps, through luxury, they accelerated his doom. Then, indeed, “ the mourners go about the streets;" and, while, in all the pomp and magnificence of wo, his funeral is preparing, his heirs, impatient to examine his will, are looking on one another with jealous eyes, and already beginning to dispute about the division of his substance.
One day, we see carried along, the coffin of the smiling infant; the flower just nipped, as it began to blossom in the parent's view: and the next day, we behold the young man, or young woman, of blooming form and
promising hopes, laid in an untimely grave. While the funeral is attended by a numerous unconcerned company, who are discoursing to one another about the news of the day, or the ordinary affairs of life, let our thoughts rather 'follow to the house of mourning, and represent to themselves what is passing there.
There we should see a disconsolate family, sitting in silent grief, thinking of the sad breach that is made in their little society; and with tears in their eyes, looking to the chamber that is now left vacant, and to every memorial that presents itself of their departed friend. By such atten. tion to the woes of others, the selfish hardness of our hearts will be gradually softened, and melted down into humanity.
Another day, we follow to the grave, one who, in old age, and after a long career of life, has, in full maturity, sunk at last into rest. As we are going along, to the mansion of the dead, it is natural for us to think, and to discourse, of all the changes which such a person has seen during the course of his life. He has passed, it is likely, through varieties of fortune. He has experienced prosperity and adversity. He has seen families and kindreds rise and fall. He has seen peace and war succeeding in their turns; the face of his country undergoing many al. terations; and the very city in which he dwelt, rising, in a manner, new around him.
After all he has beheld, his eyes are now closed for
He was becoming a stranger in the midst of a new succession of men. A race.who knew him not, had arisen to fill the earth. Thus passes the world away. Through. out all ranks and conditions, 'one generation passeth, and another generation cometh;' and this great inn is by turns evacuated and replenished, by troops of succeeding pilgrims. O vain and inconstant world! O fleeting and tran. sient life! When will the sons of men learn to think of thee as they ought? When will they learn humanity from the afflictions of their brethren; or moderation and wis. dom, from the sense of their own fugitive state?