Blickling Homily X - The End of this World is Near
Oh! Dearest men, we must remember not to love too much that which we ought to give up, nor yet to give up too easily what we ought to hold everlastingly.
Let us consider too very attentively that no man in the world hath so much weal, or such magnificent riches here in the world, but that he shall in a brief interval come to an end; and he shall give up all that here, previously, in the world was pleasant and dear to him to possess and to hold; and be the man ever so dear to his kinsmen and world's friends and let any of them love him ever so much, nevertheless he shall soon afterwards shun him when that the body and the spirit shall be separated, and he shall esteem his fellowship loathsome and foul.
That is no marvel; for, behold! what else is the flesh after the eternal portion, that is the soul, goes away,-lo! what else is the remnant, but the food of worms? Where shall be then his riches and his feasts? Where shall be then his pride and his arrogance? Where shall be then his vain garments? Where shall be then the ornaments and the expensive attire with which he previously decked his body? Where shall be then his will and his lusts that he followed here in the world? Behold, then must he with his soul alone atone to God Almighty for all that he here in this world wickedly committed.
We may now hear related a story of a certain rich and influential man, who possessed in this world great wealth and very splendid and manifold treasures, and lived a pleasant life.
Then it happened that he died, and there came to him a sudden end of this transitory life. There was then one of his kinsmen and earthly friends that loved him more than any other man; and on account of longing (grief) and the sorrow caused by the other's death he could no longer stay in the country, but with a sorrowful mind departed from his native land and from his dwelling-place, and in that [foreign] land dwelt many years; and this longing of his never diminished, but much oppressed and afflicted him.
Then after a time he began to long for his native land again, for he wished to behold again the tomb and to see what he were like whom formerly he had often seen beautiful in face and stature…. Then the bones of the dead man called to him, and thus said, 'Why hast thou come hither to see us?
Now mayest thou see here a portion of dust, and the relict of worms, where thou previously didst see a purple garment interwoven with gold. Behold now dust and dry bones, where thou before didst see limbs, after flesh's kind, fair to look upon. O my friend and kinsman, be mindful of this, and convince thyself that thou art now what I was formerly, and after a time thou shalt be what I now am. Remember this, and know that my riches that I had of yore are all vanished and come to nought, and my dwellings are decayed and perished. But turn thee to thyself and incline thy heart to counsel [i.e. listen to good advice], and merit that thy prayers be acceptable to God Almighty.'
He then, so sad and sorrowful, departed from the 'dust-spectacle' (contemplation of the dust), and turned himself away from all the affairs of this world; and he began to learn to teach the praise of God, and to love spiritual virtues, and thereby earned for himself the grace of the Holy Spirit; and he delivered also the other's soul from punishment and released him from torments.
May we then, dearest men, have this for our mementoes and set fast this example in our hearts, so that we love not worldly splendour, nor this world itself, too much; for this world is altogether decrepit, troublous, corruptible, and unstable. And this world is altogether transitory.
Let us, then, diligently consider and know in regard to this world's commencement, that when it was first formed it was full of all beauty, and was blooming in itself with manifold pleasures; and in that time it was pleasant and healthful to men upon earth, and there was upon the earth entire serenity, unbounded concord, and splendid progeny; and this world was so fair and so delightful that it drew men to it by its beauty and pleasantness, from Almighty God. And when it (world) was thus fair and winsome, it withered away in the hearts, as is fit.
Now there is lamentation and weeping on all sides; now is mourning everywhere, and breach of peace; now is everywhere evil, and slaughter; and everywhere this world fleeth from us with great bitterness, and we follow it, as it flies from us, and love it although it is passing away.
Lo! we may hereby perceive that this world is illusiory and transitory.
Let us then be mindful of this while we may, so that we may diligently press on to what is good;
let us obey our Lord diligently, and for all his gifts and for all his mercies, and for all his kindness and benefits that he hath ever showed to us let us give thanks to Him - the heavenly King that liveth and reigneth everlastingly, for ever without end, in eternity. Amen.