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say your own evidences for heaven ;-you i would be their penitence, how intense their have much to do before you arrive at that i devotion, how profound their humility, how stage-but whether there be any heaven ? holy their actions ! Think then that you Ask yourself whether Christianity is not im- have still in your power that for which they portant enough to deserve being inquired would give millions of worlds. Hell,' says into? Whether eternal life is not too valua- a pious writer, is truth seen too late.' ble to be entirely overlooked? Whether In almost every mind there sometimes eternal destruction, if a reality, is not worth float indefinite and general purposes of reavoiding ?-If you make these interrog.- pentance. The operation of these purposes tions sincerely, you will make them practi- is often repelled by a real, though disavowcally. They will lead you to examine your ed scepticism. “Because sentence is not own personal interest in these things. Evils executed speedily,' they suspect it has newhich are ruining us for want of attention ver been pronounced. They therefore think to them, lessen, from the moment our atten- they may safely continue to defer their intion to them begins. True or false, the tended but unshapen purpose. - Thougii question is worth settling. Vibrate them no they sometimes visit the sick bed of others; longer between doubt and certainty. If the though they see how much disease disqualievidence be inadmissible, reject it. But it fies for all duties, yet to this period of incayou can once ascertain these cardinal points, (pacity, to this moment of disqualification do then throw away your time if you can, then they continue to defer this tremendously imtrifle with eternity if you dare. *
portant concern. It is one of the striking characters of the What an image of the divine condescenOmnipotent that he is strong and patient.'sion does it convey, that 'the goodness of It is a standing evidence of his patience that God leadeth to repentance!' It does not
he is provoked every day.' How beauti- barely invite, but it conducts. Every warnfully do these characters reflect lustre on ing is more or less an invitation ; every visieach other. If he were not strong, his pa- tation is a lighter stroke to avert a heavier tience would want its distinguishing perfec-blow. This was the way in which the heation. If he were not patient, his strength then world understood portents and prodiwould instantly crush those who provoke gies, and on this interpretation of them they him, not sometimes, but often; not every acted. Any alarming warning, whether rayear, but 'every day.'
tional or superstitious, drove them to their Oh you, who have a long space given you temples, their sacrifices, their expiations for repentance; confess that the forbear- | Does our clearer light always carry us farance of God, when viewed as coupled with ther? Does it in these instances, always his strength, is his most astonishing attribute! carry us as far as natural conscience carriThink of the companions of your early life ; sed them? if not your associates in actual vice, if not The final period of the worldly man at your confederates in guilty pleasures, yet length arrives ; but he will not believe his the sharers of your thoughtless meetings, of danger. Even if he fearfully glance round your convivial revelry, of your worldly for an intimation of it in every surrounding schemes, of your ambitious projects--think face, every face, it is too probable, is in a how many of them have been cut off, per-| league to deceive him. What a noble ophaps without warning, probably without re-portunity is now offered to the Christian pentance. They have been represented to physician to show a kindness as far superior their Judge; their doom, whatever it be, is to any he has ever shown, as the concerns of irreversibly fixed; yours is mercifully sus- (the soul are superior to those of the body? pended.-Adore the mercy : embrace the Oh let him not fear prudently to reveal a suspension,
| truth for which the patient may bless him Only suppose if they could be permitted in eternity! Is it not sometimes to be feared to come back to this world, if they could be that in the hope of prolonging for a little allowed another period of trial, how would while the existence of the perishing body, they spend their restored life ! Flow cordial he robs the never-dying soul of its last
chance of pardon? Does not the concern for • An awakening call to public and individual feelings i the immortal part united with his care of has been recently made, by an observation of an eloquentre amictec body, bring the medical proicsspeaker in the house of commons. He remarked that sor to a nearer iinitation than any other sudhimself and the honourable member for Yorkshire, then posable situation can do, of that Divine Physitting on a committee appointed on occasion of a great sician, who never healed the one without national calamity, were the only surviving members of manifesting a tender concern for the other? the committee on a similar occasion twenty-two years. But the deceit is short, is fruitless. The ago! The call is the more alarming, because the mor. amazed spirit is about to dislodge, Who tality did not arise from some extraordinary cause, shall speak its terror and dismay? Then which might not again occur, but was in the com- he cries out in the bitterness of his soul, mon course of human things. Such a proportion of "What capacity has a diseased man, what deaths is perpetually taking place, but the very fre. time has a dying man, what disposition bas quency which ought to excite attention prevents it, till a sinful man to acquire good principles, to is is thus forced on our notice.
lunlearn false notions, to renounce bad prac. tices, to establish right habits, to begin to be to us as if it had never been, except in love God, to begin to hate sin ? How is the the remembrance of the use we have made stupendous concern of salvation to be work- of it; when our eyes shall close upon a world ed out by a mind incompetent to the most of sense, and open on a world of spirits ; ordinary concerns?
when there shall be no relief for the fainting The infinite importance of what he has to body, and no refuge for the parting soul, exdo-the goading conviction that it must be cept that single refuge to which, perhaps, done-the utter inability of doing it-the we have never thought of resorting—that dreadful combination in his mind of both the refuge which if we have not despised we necessity and incapacity--the despair of have too probably neglected—the everlastcrowding the concerns of an age into a mo- ing mercies of God in Christ Jesus. ment-the impossibility of beginning a re-l Reader ! whoever you are, who have nepentance which should have been comple- glected to remember that to die is the end ted-of setting about a peace which should for which you were born, know that you have been concluded-of suing for a pardon have a personal interest in this scene. Turn which should have been obtained;-all these not away from it in disdain, however feebly complicated concerns-without strength, it may have been represented. You may without time, without hope, with a clouded escape any other evil of life, but its end you memory, a clisjointed reason, a wounded cannot escape. Defer not then its weightispirit, undefined terrors, remembered sins, est concern to its weakest period. Begin anticipated punishment, an angry God, and not the preparation when you should be accusing conscience, altogether, intolerably completing the work. Delay not the busiaugment the sufferings of a body which ness which demands your best faculties to stands in little need of the insupportable the period of their debility, probably of their burthen of a distracted mind to aggravate extinction. Leave not the work which reits torments.
quires an age to do, to be done in a moment, Though we pity the superstitious weak- a moment too which may not be granted. ness of the German emperor in acting over The alternative is tremendous. The differthe anticipated solemnities of his own fune- ence is that of being saved or lost. It is no ral-that eccentric act of penitence of a light thing to perish ! great but perverted mind; it would be well if we were now and then to represent to our minds while in sound health, the solemn certainties of a dying bed; it we were some
CHAP, XIX. times to image to ourselves this awful scene, not only as inevitable, but as near; if we ac
Happy Deaths. customed ourselves to see things now, as we shall then wish we had seen them. Surely few circumstances contribute more fathe most sluggish insensibility must be rou- tally to confirm in worldly men that insensised by figuring to itself the rapid approach bility to eternal things which was considerof death, the nearness of our unalterable ed in the preceding chapter, than the boastdoom, our instant transition to that state of ful accounts we sometimes hear of the firm unutterable bliss or unimaginable wo to and heroic death-beds of popular but irreliwhich death will in a moment consign us. gious characters. Many causes contribute Such a mental representation would assist to these happy deaths as they are called. us in dissipating the illusion of the senses, The blind are bold, they do not see the prewould help to realise what is invisible, and cipice they despise. Or perhaps there is approximate what we think remote. It less unwillingness to quit a world which has would disenchant us from the world, tear so often disappointed them, or which they off her painted mask, shrink her pleasures have sucked to the last dregs. They leave into their proper dimensions, her concerns life with less reluctance, feeling that they into their real value, her enjoyments into have exhausted all its gratifications.-Or it their just compass, her promises into no- is a disbelief of the reality of the state on
which they are about to enter. Or it is a Terrible as the evil is, if it must, and that desire to be released from excessive pain, a at no distant day, be met, spare not to pre-desire naturally felt by those who calculate sent it to your imagination; not to lacerate their gain rather by what they are escaping your feelings, but to arm your resolution; from, than by what they are to receive. not to excite unprofitable distress, but to Or it is equability of temper, or firmness of strengthen your faith. If it terrify you at nerve, or hardness of mind.-Or it is the first, draw a little nearer to it every time. arrogant wish to make the last act of life Familiarity will abate the terror. If you confirm its preceding professions. Or it is cannot face the image, how will you encoun- the vanity of perpetuating their philosophic ter the reality?
character. Or if some faint ray of light Let us then figure to ourselves the mo- break in, it is the pride of not retracting the ment (who can say that moment may not be sentiments which from pride they have the next ?) when all we cling to shall elude maintained ;-The desire of posthumous reour grasp ; when every earthly good shall nown among their own party ; the hope to
make their disciples stand firm by their ex-Christianity, that very few of its professors ample; the ambition to give their last possible were ever either so moral, so humane, or blow to revelation-or perhaps the fear of could so philosophically govern their pasexpressing doubts which might beget a sus- sions, as the sceptical David Hume.' picion that their disbelict was not so sturdy Yet notwithstanding this rich embalming as they would have it thought. Above all, of so noble a compound of matter and momay they not, as a punishment for their long tion,' we must be permitted to doubt one of neglect of the warning voice of truth, be the two things presented for our admiration; given up to a strong delusion to believe the we must either doubt the so much boasted lie they have so often propagated, and real- happiness of his death, or the so much exa ly to expect to find in death that eternal tolled humanity of his heart. We must be sleep, with which they have affected to permitted to suspect the soundness of that quiet their own consciences, and have really benevolence which led him to devote his laweakened the faith of others ?
test hours to prepare, under the label of an Every new instance is an additional but- Essay on Suicide, a potion for posterity of tress on which the sceptical school lean for so deleterious a quality, that if taken by the support, and which they produce as a fresh patient, under all the circumstances in triumph. With equal satisfaction they col- which he undertakes to prove it innocent, lect stories of infirmity, depression, and might have gone near to effect the extincwant of courage in the dying hour of reli- tion of the whole human race. For if all ragious men, whom the nature of the disease, tional beings, according to this posthumous timorousness of spirit, profound humility, prescription, are at liberty to procure their the sad remembrance of sin, though long own release from life, 'under pain or sickrepented of and forgiven, a deep sense of the ness, shame or poverty,' how large a por. awfulness of meeting God in judgment; tiod of the world would be authorized to whom some or all of these causes may occa- quit it uncalled ! For how many are subsion to depart in trembling fcar; in whom, ject to the two latter grievances; from the though heaviness may endure through the two former how few are altogether exnight of death, yet joy cometh in the morn-empt !* ing of the resurrection,
The energy of that ambition which could It is a maxim of the civil law that defini-concentrate the last efforts of a powerful tions are hazardous. And it cannot be de- mind, the last exertions of a spirit greedy of nied that various descriptions of persons fame, into a project not only for destroying have hazarded much in their definitions of a the souls, but for abridging the lives of his happy death. A very able and justly admi- fellow creatures, leaves at a disgraceful disred writer, who has distinguished himself by tance the inverted thirst of glory of the man, the most valuable works on political econo- who toimmortalize his own name, set fire to my, has recorded as proofs of the happy the Temple at Ephesus. Such a burning death of a no less celebrated conteniporary, zeal to annihilate the eternal hope of his felthat he cheerfully amused himself in his last low creatures might be philosophy; but hours with Lucian, a game of whist, and surely to authorize them to curtail their some good humoured drollery upon Charon moral existence, which to the infidel who and his boat.
looks for no other, must be invaluable, was But may we not venture to say, with one not philanthropy. of the people called Christians, ** himself al But if this death was thought worthy of wit and philosopher, though of the school of being blazoned to the public eye in all the Christ, that the man who could meet death warm and glowing colours with which afin such a frame of mind, might smile over fection decorates panegyric; the disciples of Babylon in ruins, esteem the earthquake the same school have been in general, anxwhich destroyed Lisbon an agreeable occur-iously solicitous to produce only the more rence, and congratulate the hardened Pha-creditable instances of invincible hardness of raoh on his overthrow in the Red Sea.' heart, while they have laboured to cast an
This eminent historian and philosopher, Jimpenetrable veil over the closing scene a whose great intellectual powers it is as im- those among the less inflexible of the fraterpossible not to admire, as not to lament their nity, who have established in their departe unhappy misapplication, has been eulogized ing moments, any symptoms of doubt, any by his friend, as coming nearer than almost indications of distrust, respecting the vali any other man, to the perfection of human nature in his life ; and has been almost deified for the cool courage and heroic firmness
* Another part of the Essay on Suicide, has this pas with which he met death. His eloquent pa
Sssage, - Whenever pain or sorrow so far overcome ay negyrist, with as insidious an inuendo as has lihat I am recalled from my station in the plainest and
en pas patience, as to make me tired of life, I may conclude ever been thrown out against revealed reli
most express terms.' And again“When I fall upon gion, goes on to observe, that perhaps it is
my own sword, I receive my death equally frou the one of the very worst circumstances against hands of the Deity, as if it had proceeded from a lias,
precipice, or a fever.' And again Where is the crime The late excellent Bishop Horne. See his letters of turning a few ounces of blood from their paters 1 Dr, Adam Smith.
dity of their principles :---Principles which Christianity, continue to add increasing they had long maintained with so much brightness to the crown of the already glozeal, and disseminated with so much in- rified saint. If this be true, how shall imadustry.
gination presume to conceive, much less how In spite of the sedulous anxiety of his sa- shall language express, what must be extellites to conceal the clouded setting of the pected in the contrary case ? How shall we great luminary of modern infidelity, from dare turn our thoughts to the progressive which so many minor stars have filled their torments which may be ever heaping on the little urns, and then set up for original lights heads of those unhappy men of genius, who themselves; in spite of the pains taken--for have devoted their rare talents to promote we must drop metaphor-'to shroud from vice and infidelity, continue with fatal sucall eyes, except those of the initiated, the cess to make successive proselytes through terror and dismay with which the Philoso-successive ages-if their works last so long, pher of Geneva 'met death, met his sum- and thus accumulate on themselves anguish mons to appear before that God whose pro- ever growing, miseries ever multiplying, vidence he had ridiculed, that Saviour without hope of any mitigation, without hope whose character and offices he had vilified, of any end! --the secret was betrayed. In spite of the A more recent instance of the temper and precautions taken by his associates to bury spirit which the College of Infidelity exhiin congenial darkness the agonies which in bits on these occasions is perhaps less genehis last hours contradicted the audacious rally known. A person of our own time blasphemies of a laborious life spent in their and country, of high rank and talents, and propagation, at last like his great instigator, who ably filled a great public situation, had he believed and trembled.
unhappily in early life, imbibed principles Whatever the sage of Ferney might be in and habits analogous to these of a notoriousthe eyes of Journalists, of Academicians, of ly profligate society of which he was a Encyclopædists, of the Royal Author of member, a society, of which the very apBerlin, of Revolutionists in the egg of his pellation it delighted to distinguish itself own hatching, of full grown infidels of his by, is own spawning; of a world into which he had been for more than half a century industri
Offence and torture to the sober ear. ously infusing a venom, the effects of which | In the near view of death, at an advanced will be long telt, the expiring philosopher age, deep remorse and terror took posseswas no object of veneration to his NURSE.- sion of his soul ; but he had no friend about She could have recorded a tale to harrow him to whom he could communicate the up the soul,' the horrors of which were se- state of his mind, or from whom he could dulously attempted to be consigued to obli- derive either counsel or consolation. One vion. But for this woman and a few other day in the absence of his attendants, he unbribed witnesses, his friends would pro- raised his exhausted body ou his dying bed, bably have endeavoured to edify the world and threw himself on the floor, where he with this addition to the brilliant catalogue was found in great agony of spirit, with a of happy deaths. *
prayer-book in his hand. This detection It has been a not uncommon opinion that was at once a subject for ridicule and regret the works of an able and truly pious Chris- to his colleagues, and he was contemptuoustian, by their happy tendency to awaken the ly spoken of as a pusillanimous deserter from careless and to convince the unbelieving, the good cause. The phrase used by them may, even for ages after the excellent author to express their displeasure at his apostacy is entered into his eternal rest, by the ac-l is too offensive to find a place here. ** Were cession of new converts which they bring to we called upon to decide between the two
rival horrors, we should feel no hesitation But not only in those happy deaths which but GRATEFUL,'--the prescience of phiclose a life of avowed impiety, is there great losophy thus assuming as certain what the room for suspicion, but even in cases where humble spirit of Christianity only presumes without acknowledged infidelity, there has to hope. been a careless life; when in such cases we There is another reason to be assigned for hear of a sudden death-bed revolution, of the charitable error of indiscriminately conmuch seeming contrition, succeeded by ex- signing our departed acquaintance to certraordinary professions of joy and triumph, tain happiness. Affliction, as it is a tender, we should be very cautious of pronouncing so it is a misleading feeling ; especially in on their real state. Let us rather leave the minds naturally soft, and but slightly tincpenitent of a day to that mercy against tured with religion. The death of a friend which he has been sinning through a whole awakens the kindest feelings of the heart, life. These · Clinical Converts,' (to borrow But by exciting true sorrow, it often excites a favourite phrase of the eloquent bishop false charity,Grief naturally softens every Taylor,) may indeed be true penitents; but fault, love as naturally heightens every virhow shall we pronounce them to be so ?- tue. It is right and kind to consign error to How can we conclude that they are dead oblivion, but not to immortality. Charity unto sin’unless they are spared to live unto indeed we owe to the dead as well as to the righteousness?'
is death a less unnandy Il is a well attested fact that this woman after hiem pronouncing
one than those to which we have before decease, being sent for to attend another person in dy alluderl ing circumstances, anxiously inquired if the patient was
| Another well known skeptic, while in a gentleman ; for that she had recently been so dreadfully terrified in witnessing the dying horrors of Mons.
perfect health, took measures by a special de Voltaire, which surpassed all description, that she had
order, to guard against any intrusion in his resolved never to attend any other person of that sex
last sickness, by which he might, even in unless she could be assured that he was not a philoso
the event of delirium, betray any doubtful pher. Voltaire, indeed, as he was deficient in the moral
apprehension that there might be any honesty and the other cood qualities, which obtained hereafter ; or in any other way be surprised for Mr. Home the affection of his friends, wanted his sincerity. Of all his other vices, bypocrisy was the con- exposing the state of his mind, in case any summation. While he daily dishonoured the Redeemer such revolution should take place, which by the invention of unheard of blasphemies ; after he his heart whispered him might possibly haphad bound bimself by a solemn pledge never to rest till pen, he had exterminated his very name from the face of the earth, he was not ashamed to assist regularly at the *The writer had this anecdote from an acquaintance awful commemoration of his death at the altar!
of the noble person al the time of his dentlı. VOL. I,
living, but not that erroneous charity by Happily we are not called upon to clecide. which truth is violated, and undeserved He to whose broad eye the future and the commendation lavished on those whom truth past lie open, as he has been their constant could no longer injure. To calumniate the witness, so will he be their unerring judge. * dead is even worse than to violate the rights
But the admirers of certain happy deaths, of sepulture; not to vindicate calumniated do not even pretend that any such change worth, when it can no longer vindicate itself, appeared in the friends of whom they make is a crime next to that of attacking it; but not so much the panegyric as the apotheosis. cn the dead, charity, though well underThey would even think repentance a dero- stood, is often mistakingly exercised. gation from the dignity of their character. If we were called upon to collect the They pronounce them to have been good greatest quantity of hyperbole-falsehood enough as they were ; insisting that they might be too harsh a term in the least gihave a demand for happiness upon God, if ven time and space, we should do well to there be any such Being; a claim upon search for it in those sacred edifices expressheaven, if there be any such place. They ly consecrated to truth. There we should are satisfied that their friend, after a life see the ample mass of canonizing kindness spent without God in the world,' without which fills their mural decorations, expressevidencing any marks of a changed heart, ed in all those flattering records inscribed without even affecting any thing like re- by every variety of motive to every variety pentance, without intimating that there was of claim. In addition to what is dedicated any call for it, DIED PRONOUNCING HIM- to real merit by real sorrow, we should hear SELF HAPPY.
of tears which were never shed, grief which But nothing is more suspicious than a was never felt, praise which was never happy death, where there has neither been earned; we should see what is raised by the religion in the life nor humility in its close, decent demands of connexion, by tender, where its course has been without piety, and but undiscerning friendship, by poetic liits termination without repentance.
Others in a still bolder strain, disdaining the posthumous renown to be conferred by
• What a generous instance of that disinterested at survivers, of their having died happily, pru
tachment wbich survires the grave of its objeet and pr dently secure their own fame, and changing
ously rescues bis reputation from the assaults of us. both the tense and the person usual in mo
lignity, was given by the late excellent bishop of Por numental inscriptions, with prophetic confi
teus, iu his animated defence of archbishop Secker! dence record on their own sepulchral mar
May his own fair fame never stand in need of any such ble, that they shall die not only “HAPPY,
warm vindication, which, however, it could not fail to find in the bosom of every good man !-The fine talents
of this lamented prelate, uniformly devoted to tbe par • The primitive church carried their incredulity of poses for which God gave them-his life directed to the appearances of repentance so far as to require not those duties to which bis high professional station called only years of sorrow for sin, but perseverance in piety, him-his Christian graces-those engaging manners before they would admit offenders to their communion:' which shed a soft lustre on the firm fideliu of bis fri and as a test of their sincerity, required the unitori I ships--that kindness which was ever flowing fro
TOIR bis practice of those virtues most opposite to their former heart to his lips--the benignity and candou vices. Were this made the criterion now, we should not linguished not his conversation only, but bis eondeer so often hear such flaming accounts of converts, so ex Luhese and all those amiable qualities, that gentle temps ultingly reported, before time has been allowed to try and correct cheerfulness with which he adorned society, their stability. More especially we should not bear of will ever endear his memory to all who knew him intiso many triumphant relations of death-hed converts, in mately; and let his friends remember, that to imitate whom the symptoms must frequently be too equivocal his virtues, will be ibe best proof of their remembering to admit the positive decision of human wisdons,