First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…
Of Death and the End of Things

Adam, the ancestor of all mankind, was so constituted that as time passed he continued to live on, at no time cognizant of that termination of life which we, in consequence of Satanic temptation, have come to know as death. However, by transgressing the divine command, he soon encountered in the flesh a law, which he discovered to be contrary to the dictates of his own mind. And so he was compelled to live his life by the sweat of his brow; to exile himself from bliss; to suffer want in fear and trembling, stinking of sin. He suffered as an offender according to the offense given his Creator. Having ignored the obligation of obedience, he himself was reduced to fear the fury of beasts and unreasoning brutes. Through satisfaction of his carnal desires, he found himself in a state of confusion. Having trifled away his innocence, he was compelled to suffer from its loss. He declined with age; for having lost his immortality, he decayed. In maturing he hastened his own end. And so also, we who descended from him are subject to insurmountable cares, temptations, and vexations, and finally are linked to fearsome death. From him we inherited the natural tendencies and characteristics which caused the dispersion of the human race. What pleasure and joy do men seek in these times in this vale of tears, in which we find nothing but natural imbecility, fickleness of fortune, inconstancy of mind, the stain of sensual pleasures, and constantly recurring vexations and wars? When we enter this world we are without the power of speech, not understanding what we see or hear. From thence we creep into childhood, during which period we lack in perseverance. From childhood we attain to the growing period, wherein we crave pleasures according to age, which develop with the spirit. From the growing period we reach the age of youth, becoming involved in numerous and greater cares, as we venture upon greater things beyond our youthful knowledge and confidence. After youth we became established, in manhood, consumed by distressing combats with worldly pomp, avarice, envy, hate, covetousness, and divers tears. From manhood we depart into old age, with its fill of ills. From old age we fall into the spent life of resignation, during which we are kept in constant dread through fear of immediate or approaching death. O, you poor beings, naked and ungainly, born in the midst of uncertainties and tears, with but little milk to nourish you; trembling and creeping, and deserving of extraneous assistance; surrounded by various ills, and subject to countless pains, counsel and aid being of no avail; tossed about in an admixture of joy and sorrow, your will powerless, unconscious of the purpose of your being, and not knowing what you eat or drink. Bodily sustenance, which other animals find at hand, you are obliged to seek with great effort and labor. Sleep pales you; food bloats you and drink overwhelms you. Waking dulls you, while hunger and thirst famish you. You are worried by past, present and future events. In spite of want you strut about and carry on with pride, realizing your weakness, - a future carcass for worms. Your life is brief, the term of your existence doubtful, and you are subject to thousands of forms of death; to say nothing of the fact that you are so constituted that you languish in idleness, are fatigued by your labors, depressed by gluttony, exhausted by hunger, and suffer through excess. You are at all times influenced and limited by the course of the heavens, and subject to the fickleness of fortune. The course of your life is filled with fear, misery, need and treachery. But when we take up the weapons of love and the shield of faith, and adopt a course preparatory to a future life, we will undoubtedly overcome all obstacles that we may encounter. Our pains are dissolved by death, which our ills cannot surmount, and which will restore us to that peace which prevailed before our birth. For to him who dies in blessedness, death is life; wherefore those who have lived in righteousness, yearn for death so that they may be with Christ and receive the reward of a well conducted life. If we take a more exalted view, we will find that death is but the termination of sin. For when Adam transgressed the commandment of God and lapsed into guilt and sin, God restored to the earth the body of Adam, which was created from it, not to make an end of the creatures themselves, but of the sin which they had committed. Therefore God is the beginning and the end. When he so wills we are born; and when he so wills we die. These matters are entirely within his divine power, and not in our control. But one thing he left to our own free will, namely, that by living a good and righteous life we may attain a good end, Therefore, to die in Christ, our Lord, should be the sole object of our greatest zeal. Those who do so, do not die, but simply pass from destructibility to indestructability, from mortality to immortality; from restlessness to rest. Accordingly some have not inaptly said that death is not an evil thing, but the greatest of all blessings. And as neither the day nor the hour of our call from hence is known to us, it is to our salvation that we live according to the will of God, keep his commandments, always be prepared, and do not postpone our preparedness; for we have seen many who in the best of health and strength did not concern themselves with such matters, and were suddenly carried off; while, on the other hand, some, of whose recovery physicians had despaired, returned to health. Now as all these matters are in the power of God alone, it behooves us to say no more, except that (as already stated) we remain obedient to God’s commandments throughout our lives and to the end. We firmly believe that God created man in his own image. What lighter task, then, could we encounter than that of shaking off this earthly frame, this mortal coil, and returning to him who did not scorn to make us in his own image; so that the human spirit, filled with the spirit of God, may live on forever among the angels and the choirs of the saints as a participant in the Divinity and its blessings?