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Runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help,
This is indeed dreadful. And yet, let Christ come in, let Christ stand by the King of Terrors, and there comes a death of which there is no fear, no terror connected with it. There are souls, on whose horizon, though Death's skeleton form comes striding, the light from eternity does but invest the form with glory. It is rather like the light of a clear sunset seen through the bars of a prison window, or through the foliage of a tree in the horizon. It is no more Death the Skeleton, but Death the Angel, a messenger of peace, mercy, love glory. There are souls that welcome him, for he opens the prison door, out of which they are to pass into a world of light; out of a prison of flesh, sin, fear, doubt and bondage, into a celestial freedom in the perfection of holiness ; into love, praise, and blissful adoration, without any mixture of sin, any cloud or shadow of defilement, or any thing for ever and ever to mar or change the perfect peace and blessedness of the soul. To such souls, Death is but the Messenger, to take them before the throne of God in his likeness, to present them without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing Death is Life to such ; it is the being born
out of a state of sinfulness, darkness, and wretchedness in fallen humanity, into a condition of purity, light, and happiness, in a City where the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. There is no future terror, of which Death is King, in such a case. Dying is but going home. It was such a death, of which Paul spake, when he said that he desired to depart and to be with Christ. He was not then contemplating any images of terror. The future was to him filled with a glory, towards which his soul was pressing, and into which Death was to introduce him.
If you, O Man! of Death are bound in dread,
T'he air to sense is close that fills the room,
Life comes and goes,-the spirit lingers on;
He views his image now! The victory's won!
Is this Death's seal ? Th’ impression, O how fair!
Call not the mourners, when the Christian dies,
Death to the bedside came, his prey to hold,-
And yet, in itself, Death is the self-same thing to the righteous as to the wicked. It is the same painful, convulsive separation between soul and body, sometimes attended with greater suffering, sometimes with less, but always constituting the supreme last strife of agony endurable in this mortal tenement. But what an infinite difference, when all the circumstances of death, all forms and processes of disease, every kind and degree of pain and suffering, are ordered by the Saviour for the good of the soul; when he sits over this furnace into which his child is cast, removing the dross, and watching for his own image! What an infinite difference, when disease and pain are but as graving tools in his hand, with which he is giving symmetry and a perfect polish to the living stones, which he is to set in his temple, removing every imperfection, every wrinkle, every stain ! Death, in such a case, is but the last act of a Saviour's loving discipline with his people, the perfection and consummation of his mercy.
Some wicked men have suffered much less in dying, than some righteous men. One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet. Another dieth in the bitterness of his soul. They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shal cover them. It would be interesting to draw a comparison between the deaths and the death-beds of a number of the most remarkable wicked men,
with an equal number of the most remarkable righteous men. The circumstances of disease, of mere material evil, are much the same, except that as material evils they are always aggravated by spiritual distress; the pangs of conscience giving sharpness to the pangs of dissolving nature. Compare even the death-beds of Hume, Voltaire, and Paine, with those of Edwards, Brainard, Henry Martyn, and Payson, and you will find that there is not much to choose as to the physical pain of dying. Take the deaths of Herod and of Paul, the one eaten of worms, consumed inwardly, and the last in all probability crucified, and there was about as much physical suffering and terror in the one death as in the other. Take the deaths of Nero and of John, the one is a suicide, the last dying quietly at a hundred years of age; the pangs
of dissolution in both cases were probably very nearly equal. The death of the righteous is no more exempt from physical distress and suffering, than that of the wicked.
Nor is the physical distress or suffering that ingredient in death, which men particularly regard or fear. In reading of the death of a Christian, how little are our feelings distressed as to the depth and intensity of his bodily sufferings, so long as we have the conviction that God was with him, that Jesus Christ was his support. But in reading of the death-sufferings of a wicked man, or in witnessing such a death-bed, you are terribly affected by the spectacle of such physical pain. It is because the misery of the soul is there ; there is nothing in this latter case to bear up the body, to
proclaim the blessedness of the immortal part, even amidst the suffering of mortality ; on the contrary, mortality borrows suffering from the soul ; the body is doubly tortured in the hour of dissolution by the pangs of a wounded conscience.
. Hume would have died an easy death had his soul been at peace with God, and resting on his Saviour, although the disease and suffering of his body had remained the same. As it was, there was that ingredient in the suffering of his last hours which made his nurse ever after refuse attendance at the sick bed of a philosopher! Voltaire would have suffered little, even had his physical sufferings remained the same, if in his last moments, instead of inward wrath of conscience, and forebodings of wrath to come, there had been the Christian's faith and sense of pardoned sin ; if instead of alternate blasphemies and prayers, there had been love to that Saviour, whom the infidel, amidst the admiration of his fellow-infidels, had dared to deride. But the stings of a wounded conscience give a sharpness to all mortal diseases, that nothing else can give, making even the common sufferings of sickness an intolerable weight of misery.
On the otter hand, to a mind at peace with God, there is very little terror in physical sufferings. I had almost said, there is very little pain. Sometimes indeed the dying pains of a holy man will be so great, as for a season to absorb all his attention; but even then you feel that all this is nothing in comparison with the presence of Christ now, and the glory which shall be revealed. When Andrew Fuller was dying, he said to those around him, “ It