July 11th On the condition of the body after death
Consider first, that the soul is no sooner departed from the body but this wretched carcass which she leaves behind immediately becomes pale, stiff, loathsome, and frightful; insomuch that the dearest friends of the deceased can scarce endure to watch one night in the same room with it, and would not be induced by any consideration to lie in the same bed. Even the greatest beauties are now turned ugly and hideous; and their former admirers can no longer bear the sight of them. O ye children of men, how long will ye be fond of these painted dunghills! We read that St. Francis Borgia was so touched with the ghastly countenance of the corpse of the Empress Isabella, (whom he had seen a little while before in all her majesty and all her charms,) seeing the strange change that death had so suddenly wrought in her, that he conceived upon the spot an eternal disgust for this world, and a happy resolution of wholly consecrating himself to the love and service of that great king who never dies. O that the like consideration of the dismal change that death shall so quickly make in all mortal beauties might effectually move us to the like resolution!
Consider 2ndly, that a person is no sooner dead but the body begins to corrupt and smell, and in a very short time it becomes so insupportable that surviving friends are obliged to make haste to get it out of the house, and to lay it deep under ground that it may not infect the air. And were the grave, after some weeks, to be opened again, and this carcass to be brought out to view, what a filthy carrion should we meet with? what a sight, what a smell would it afford? And what should we think of a person that should be tied down to such a companion, a barbarity said to have been exercised by a certain tyrant, in binding the living to the dead, and letting them linger away in these noisome embraces? Surely the worst of torments would not be half so insupportable: so foul, so detestable a thing is a corpse that is half putrefied. O mortals, why will you then not remember what your composition is, and what you are quickly like to come to? O filth and corruption, why wilt thou be proud?
Consider 3rdly, what companions, what attendants, these bodies of ours must meet with in the grave? Ah! no others than worms and maggots, or such like foul insects. ‘Under thee shall the moth be strewed, and worms shall be thy covering,’ Isaia xiv. 11. For these, O man! thou art preparing a banquet when thou art pampering thy body. These are to be thy inheritance, or rather they are to inherit thee: whatever thou art to-day, to-morrow thou art to be the food of worms. See here, vain worldlings, what will soon be the end of all these beauties which you are so fond of, and which are so apt to draw you into sin; filthy maggots shall very shortly prey upon these pretty faces
Conclude to make small account of the beauty of the body, or of anything else that death can take away, and to turn thy thoughts towards the better part, by laying up immortal riches for thy immortal soul, and procuring for her such ornaments of Christian virtues as may be out of the reach of death.