Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
Violent and Natural Death
By Samuel Rutherford (1600?1661)
From Christ Dying
VIOLENCE more or less is an accident of death, as it is the same hand folded in, or the fingers stretched out; violent death is but death on horseback, and with wings, or a stroke with the fist, as the other death is a blow with the palms of the hand. Natural death is death going on foot, and creeping with a slower pace; violent death unites all its forces at once, and takes the city by storm, and comes with sourer and blacker visage. Death natural divides itself in many several bits of deaths; old age being a long spun out death, and nature seems to render the city more willingly, and death comes with a whiter and a milder visage; the one has a salter bite, and teeth of steel and iron; the other has softer fingers, and takes asunder the boards of the clay-tabernacle more leisurely, softly, tenderly, and with less din, as not willing that death should appear death, but a sleep; the violent death is as when apples green and raw are plucked off the tree, or when flowers in the bud, and young, are plucked up by the roots; the other way of dying is, as when apples are ripened and are filled with well-boiled summer sap, and fall off the tree of their own accord in the eaters mouth; or when flowers wither on the stalk. Some dying full of days, have like banqueters, a surfeit of time, others are suddenly plucked away when they are green; but which of the ways you die, not to die in the Lord is terrible; ye may know ye shall die by the fields ye grow on, while ye live; a believer on Christ, breathes in Christ, speaks, walks, prays, believes, eateth, drinketh, sickens, dies in Christ; Christ is the soil he is planted in, he groweth on the banks of the paradise of God; when he falleth, he cannot fall wrong; some are trees growing on the banks of the river of fire and brimstone; when God hews down the tree, and death fells them, the tree can fall no otherwise than in hell; O how sweet to be in Christ, and to grow as a tree planted on the banks of the river of life, when such die they fall in Christs lap and in His bosom; be the death violent or natural! it is all one whether a strong gale and a rough storm shore the child of God on the new Jerusalems dry land, or if a small calm blast, even with rowing of oars, bring the passenger to heaven, if once he be in that goodly land.