Слике страница
PDF
ePub

tions, and had possessed himself of a treasure of books and manuscripts upon all ancient subjects; yet “ he could rest his soul on none, save the Scriptures.”(1)

Claude was a very considerable man among the protestants, who were driven from France by Lewis the fourteenth. When he was taken ill he sent for the senior pastor of the church, to whom, in the presence of all his family, he expressed himself thus :“Sir, I was desirous to see you, and to make my dying declaration before you. I am a miserable sinner before God. I most heartily beseech him to shew me mercy, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope he will hear my prayer. He has promised to hear the cries of repenting sinners. I adore him for blessing my ministry. It has not been fruitless in his church; it is an effect of God's grace, and I adore his providence for it.”

After pausing a while, he added, “ I have carefully examined all religions. None appear to me worthy of the wisdom of God, and capable of leading man to happiness, but the Christian religion. I have diligently studied popery and the reformation. The protestant religion, I think, is the only good religion. It is all found in the Holy Scriptures, the word of God. From this, as from a fountain, all religions must be drawn. Scripture is the root, the protestant religion is the trunk and branches of the tree. It becomes you all to keep steady to it.”

About a week before he died, with true patriarchal dignity, he sat up in his bed, and asked to speak with his son and family. “ Son," said he, tenderly embracing him, “I am leaving you. The time of my departure is at hand.” Silence, and sobs, and floods of tears flowed, each clasped in the others arms. The

(1) This is equally true of that great philosophic soul, Mar. cilius Ficinus, who was as learned a man as Italy ever produced. After he had read all good authors, he rested in the Bible as the only book.

family all came, and asked his blessing..Most willingly,” replied he, “ will I give it you.” Mrs. Claude kneeled down by the bed-side. « My wife,” said he, “ I have always tenderly loved you. Be not afflicted at my death. The death of the saints is precious in the sight of God. In you I have seen a sincere piety. I bless God for it. Be constant in serving him with your whole heart. He will bless you. I recommend my son and his family to you, and I beseech the Lord to bless you.” To his son, who, with an old servant was kneeling by his mother, he said, among other things, “son, you have chosen the good part. Perform your office as a good pastor, and God will bless you. Love and respect your mother. Be mindful of this domestic. Take care she wants nothing as long as she lives. I give you all my blessing.” He afterwards said, at several times, “ I am so oppressed, that I can only attend to two of the great truths of religion, the mercy of God, and the gracious aid of his holy Spirit. I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day. My whole recourse is to the mercy of God. I expect a better life than this._ Our Lord Jesus Christ is my only righteousness.”

Thus died the venerable Claude, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, A. D. 1687.

The Rev. Samuel Walker was a minister of no ordinary rank in the church of Christ. His excessive labours speedily ruined his constitution, and he died at the age of forty-eight. When his dissolution drew near, after much former darkness, but the most assured confidence in God, he broke out to his nurse in this rapturous expression :-" I have been upon the wings of the cherubim! Heaven has in a manner been opened to me! I shall soon be there!"--Next day to a friend who came to see him he said, with a joy in his countenance more than words can utter:-"O had I strength to speak, I could tell you such news

as would rejoice your very soul! I have had such views of heaven! But I am not able to say

more."

Hervey was an excellent scholar, and a believer in the Bible, with its most distinguishing truths. When he apprehended himself to be near the close of life, and stood, as it were, on the brink of the grave, with eternity full in view, he wrote to a friend at a distance to tell him what were his sentiments in that awful situation. “I have been too fond,” said he, “ of reading every thing valuable and elegant that has been penned in our language, and been peculiarly charmed with the historians, orators, and poets of antiquity: but were I to renew my studies, I would take leave of those accomplished trifles; I would resign the delights of modern wits, amusement, and eloquence, and devote my attention to the Scripture of Truth. I would sit with much greater assiduity at my divine Master's feet, and desire to know nothing in comparison of Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

After this, when his dissolution drew still nearer, he said to them about him:" How thankful am I for death! It is the passage to the Lord and Giver of eternal life. Welcome, welcome, welcome death! thou mayest well be reckoned among the treasures of the Christian! To live is Christ, but to die is gain! Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy most holy and comfortable word; for mine eyes have seen thy precious salvation.”

Leechman, late principal of the college of Glasgow, at the close of his life, thus addressed the son of a worthy nobleman, who was designed for the church, and the early part of whose education had been inuch under the doctor's eye:

" You see the situation I am in: I have not many days to live: I am glad you have had an opportunity of witnessing the tranquillity of my last moments. But it is not tranquillity and composure alone, it is joy and triumph; it is complete exultation.” His features

kindled, his voice rose as he spoke. “And whence,” says he,“ does this exultation spring!--From thất book, pointing to a Bible that lay on the table--from that book, too much neglected indeed, but which contains invaluable treasures ! treasures of joy and rejoicing! for it makes us certain that this mortal shall put on immortality.”

Romaine was a zealous and successful preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and adorned it by a suitable character, above fifty years. In his last illness not one fretful or murmuring word ever escaped his lips. “ I have,” said he, “ the peace of God in my conscience, and the love of God in my heart. I knew before the doctrines I preached to be truths, but now I experience them to be blessings. Jesus is more precious than rubies, and all that can be desired on the earth, is not to be compared to him.” He was in full possession of his mental powers to the last moment, and near his dissolution cried out, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty! Glory be to thee on high, for such peace on earth, and good will to men.”

These are glorious instances of the power of religion upon the mind, in the most trying circumstances of

I know it is fashionable for lukewarm and pharisaical Christians, who have a form of godliness, but deny the power, and for philosophisters of every description, to treat all such death-bed scenes as delusive and fanatical. I am not, however, ashamed to say, that dissolutions of the above description, appear to me honourable to religion, and desirable above all enjoyments of the world. If this be enthusiasm, may I be the greatest enthusiast that ever existed. Such enthusiasts, thanks be to God, have appeared, more or less, in every age of the gospel-dispensation. They are increasing now in a considerable degree, and thev shali abound inore and more, maugre all the

opposition of infidelity, and the cool moral harangues of a secular and likewarm clergy. Large numbers of examples might be produced, of a siinilar kind, from

nature.

those who lived before the rise both of methodism and puritanism, besides these we have mentioned; but the only one I shall introduce here, by way of contrast to the death-bed scenes of Chesterfield, Voltaire, Rousseau, and the other unhappy characters we have recorded, shall be that of the learned and excellent Bedell, the scourge of ecclesiastical corruption, a pattern for prelates and clergymen, and the glory of the Irish hierarchy. After a life spent in the most laborious service of his Divine Master, when he apprehended his great change to draw near, he called for his sons, and his sons' wives, and spake to them, at several times, as he was able, the following words:

" I am going the way of all flesh: I am ready to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at hand. Knowing, therefore, that shortly I must put of this tabernacle; even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me, I know also that if this my earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, I have building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, a fair mansion in the New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God.--Therefore, to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain; which increaseth my desire even now to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better than to continue here in all the transitory, vain, and false pleasures of this world, of which I have seen an end.

Hearken, therefore, unto the last words of your dying father. I am no more in this world, but ye are in the world. I ascend to my Father, and your Father, to my God and your God, through the all-sufPicient merits of jesus Christ my Redeemer; who ever lives to make intercession for me; who is a propitiation for all my sins, and washed me from them all in his own blood; who is worthy to receive glory and Jionour, and power; who hath created all things, and for whose pleasure they are and were created.My witness is in heaven, and my record on high, that I have endeavoured to glorify God on earth; and

« ПретходнаНастави »