Writings by George Burgess (1829-1905)
Bodily - Life & Death
Man's natural constitution declares that as soon as he came into existence he was bound to eat, or die. And from then till now he has been causing the deaths of vegetation and animals, and eating them, so as not to die himself. But, in due time, he is bound to die himself - even though he eat!
Why he is as constituted, as not to be able to go on eating forever and living for ever, no human being can tell. But, as it is with the 'birds' and the 'trees', and their 'fruits' so the principle of Life and Death exists naturally in the very seeds of man's organic being. The forces that nourish him and build him up, and those that waste him, and pull him down, are ever at work side by side, within him. In a sound and healthy man for 50 years the Forces that build him up will be masters. But, after that age, the Forces within him, that waste him, will begin to steadily gain power and become masters in their work of destruction - until, finally, they will pull the strong man right down into his grave. And thus - the proud being who had been killing and eating other creatures all his days is now dead himself, and will soon be eaten in his own turn - for he is Gone `The way of all the Earth' -what a bewildering mystery, is the origin of Life and Death.
The Principle of Life and Death appears to permeate all existence. The buried forests form into coal - then less in proportion as the coal forms - the wood is transformed - as the coal lives the Forest dies.
It is life! By its agencies - that works the wondrous process! The Rocks grow from the changes and death of other substances and conditions! Every atom of the Earth - of the lands and the seas - is in perpetual motion; and all motion means perpetual change and change means death to one condition, and life to another.
A man drinks a glass of pure sparkling Water. It is swarming with invisible forms of life - Otherwise it would not sparkle. His drinking it is death to those special forms of life; but they become life to him! So that Life and Death go hand in hand, and inhabit all Existence: There does not appear to be any such thing as 'Dead Matter'.
And we therefore see that as with all existence -so man's Bodily Death is a Natural condition of his constitution; and not the result of any sinful act, as some people used to suppose. It belongs to the very root of his being: Just so sure as man was born to live, he was born to Die!
Bodily Death however can be the result of sin - or some - at the time -unavoidable condition. It usually becomes then, premature death: Such deaths are very many -and include those belonging to youth and mature age. And sin, certainly slays it thousands. And Scripture, and science agree in the truth that the wicked 'shall not live out half their days'. But, if man's sin does not cause him to die he will die without it -for he is naturally born to both live and Die!
Man's Bodily beginning - and onto his ending - is a subject that cannot be studied in vain! Human Conception means the quickening of seed into a new life -which at once begins to assist in collecting his new nourishment for development. Human Birth means the progression of vital organs that now rapidly change outer foods and fluids into blood, flesh, bones, sinews and nerves -which, in 25 years bring infancy up to the splendid vigour of young manhood.
YOUNG MANHOOD - of sound health - full of fine hopes and ambitions means a nature to nobly strive along life's Way; over the rough roads, and over the smooth - across the wondrous Plains and through the pleasant valleys sometimes in sorrow, but more often in joy - and now up the mountain slopes -growing more vigorous in mind and Body, all the way - until at age 50, he reaches the top of the mountain! He must stop now! He must stand still and look around him! He has mounted the Hilltop of his Bodily vigour! He knows it! He feels it! He knows that he cannot go higher! And he cannot long stand where he is. He feels somewhat weary! And he knows that now he is bound to begin and go down hill! And he also knows that he cannot go down the same side as he came up! But his spirit is Brave - so he Faces his Fate!
MAN, at age 50! It is a fine manly age - the age for influence! Still - from that highest standpoint in his Bodily life his very next step is down the hill: Yes - he faces his fate bravely -but he does not like it! He would not require being brave, if he liked it! There are the brave men who Face what they do not like! No - he does not like going down the hill - at first. But he will like it better as he gets used to it -and as he gets nearer to the foot of the hill! His Spirit is as strong as ever; hut his flesh is getting weaker -so that he is bound to go on down the hill! From ages 40 to 60 a healthy man's bodily forces move in a smooth and most agreeable way! This is his life's Beautiful Plain! While crossing this pleasant Plain he is wiser than when he was younger - and calmer because he is older so that he enjoys sweet and quiet seasons.
Yet - from that highest and central stopping place, at the age of 50, he begins his downward journey. It is very slow, and comfortable at first - and very gentle and delightful for a long time, as he winds his quiet way down the pleasant mountainside. But as time passes by - and as he travels on -his labour more and more diminishes his declining strength - and increases the weariness of his flesh!
And no Wonder - for now the Natural decaying and dying process has taken his body in hand, and will gradually become its master! Not Disease - but the unexplored Principle of Decay and Death - which fastens upon every one and all of the countless millions of things that grow. This Mighty Agent has laid hold of the man's failing Body, and will soon now hand it into the grave, which the weary traveller can already see opened and waiting for him, just at the foot of the hill!
The once mighty man has now nearly seen all his days! He was born to live - born to Die! He has lived -and now he must Die! For his vital organs are weakening; his Foods give him less nourishment - The cleaning juices of his system are diminishing - his Blood is leaving him! Its crimson streams have left their lonely channels almost dry - because his heart is growing feeble and cannot Force the lifeblood through his helpless frame; therefore, his 'Flesh and his Heart faileth!!!'
His Time is short now! He is very near the foot of the hill!
It is a startling FACT, that during the whole journey down the mountain side - this weary - bodied man's mind has never weakened, has not been disturbed but rather, has enlarged and become clearer! This would seem to prove that when his Body is dead, his mind will still live on! His immortal spirit can never die! His soul is imperishable! But - at the foot of life's Hill; his Body will perish forever: For -'There is no discharge in that War'.
George Burgess, August 1899