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seems as if all bodily torture were concentrated in my
frame.” That was but for a moment, and it was outweighed by the faith of his soul, even while so concentrated and intense, that the powers of his being could fix on nothing else intently. When Payson was dying, his bodily sufferings were what would have been intense, had it not been for the flood of glory and happiness with which his soul was filled. His faith gave even to suffering a glory. When Mr. Pearce was dying, he said, after a restless night, “ I have so much weakness and pain that I have not had much enjoyment; but I have a full persuasion that the Lord is doing all things well." Now, here was a case, in which the pain of dying, the pain of the mortal disease, was so great, as materially to interfere with the positive enjoyment of the soul, but yet it added no terror; the pain was sensibly experienced, but with such trust in God and such sweet resignation, that it gave Death, as the King of Terrors, no advantage. But if this same degree of pain had been experienced by a man without the consolations of the Gospel, a man dying unprepared for eternity, the anguish of the bodily suffering would have been incalculably more intense. The terrors of death do not belong necessarily to the pains of death ; they do to the wicked, but not to the righteous.
Were the universe at the command of the soul, it would not be worth a grain of sand to a man dying without the consolations of the Gospel. Friends can do nothing in such a case; the strongest affection, though it be stronger than death, can be of no avail. But Christ can do every thing. The pre
sence of Christ can overcome the sense of pain, and fill the soul with blessedness in the midst of it. Instances are not wanting of this, even amidst the unimaginable sufferings of being burned to death at the stake.
I have before me two instances of this glory and power of Christ's presence in death ; the one in a very young Christian, the other in a saint of more advanced age and experience. When young Mr. Janeway, in England, was dying, his language was as follows: “O my friends, stand by and wonder; come, look upon a dying man. What manifestations of rich grace! If I were never to enjoy more than this, it were well worth all the torments tha men and devils could invent, worth coming through even a hell to such transcendent joys as these. If this be dying, dying is sweet. Let no true Christian ever be afraid of dying. Christ's smiles and visits, sure they would turn hell into heaven. Oh that you did but see and feel what I do! Come and behold a dying man more cheerful than ever you saw any healthful man in the midst of his sweetest enjoymente." « Methinks I stand, as it were, with one foot in heaven, and the other upon earth. Methinks I hear the melody of heaven, and by faith I see the angels waiting to carry my soul to the bosom of Jesus, and I shall be forever with the Lord in glory. And who can choose but rejoice in all this ?” The pangs of death in this man were strong, but the exceeding and eternal weight of glory was so much stronger, that it quite absorbed his soul, and filled him with triumphant praises.
Now what can an unbeliever do with such a
case? Here is no opportunity for enthusiasm or mistake from animal sympathy or excitement, nor any external sources of support or happiness whatever, nor any anodyne that can overcome the present sense of pain, or give buoyancy to the spirits, or provide material for the dreams of a youthful imagination, or set it in play in the presence of the King of Terrors. To the blind eye and gloomy reasoning sense of unbelief, here is nothing but pain, weakness, darkness, relinquishment of all the blessings of life, and a blank, drear vacancy in prospect. And yet, there is a mysterious, unseen, supernatural presence and power, a power of life and joy so upspringing, deep, and inextinguishable, so certain, sensible, and ecstatic, that this dying man, convulsed with pain, can say, If I were never to enjoy more than this, it were well worth all the torments that men and devils could invent, worth coming through even a hell, to such transcendent joys as these! And this is Christ! This it is to have a Saviour! This is that Saviour's omnipotence and mercy! Gloomy, self-torturing, unhappy infidel! what hast thou to say to this !
Our second instance is the case of Dr. Payson. He once said, in his last illness : “I have suffered twenty times,-yes, to speak within bounds,– twenty times as much as I could in being burnt at the stake, while my joy in God so abounded, as to render my sufferings not only tolerable, but wel
The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed.
God is my all in all. While he is present with me, no event can in the least diminish
my happiness; and were the whole world at my feet, trying to minister to my comfort, they could not add one drop to the cup." On another occasion he said, “Death comes every night and stands at my bedside in the form of terrible convulsions, every one of which threatens to separate the soul from the body. These continue to grow worse and worse, until every bone is almost dislocated with pain, leaving me with the certainty that I shall have it all to endure again the next night. Yet, while my body is thus tortured, the soul is perfectly happy, perfectly happy and peaceful, more happy than I can possibly express to you. I lie here, and feel these convulsions extending higher and higher, but my soul is filled with joy unspeakable. I seem to swim in a flood of glory, which God pours down upon me."
This is wonderful. And so the dying Evarts exclaimed, borne down, or rather I should say, borne up by such a weight of glory. “Wonderful! wonderful !" But here again there is nothing external, nothing visible, no earthly thing conceivable, as a source of such joy amidst suffering. These are the consolations of Christ, and in the presence of these infidelity stands stunned, aghast, and silent. They are not always granted so abundantly, in such triumphant, overpowering measure, even to the Lord's most faithful servants; but if need be, they are, But even a little measure of them, a glimpse of the Saviour's countenance, and an assurance of his mercy, is enough to deprive death of his sting, to take away all his terrors, and to swallow him up in victory. “O Death, where is
thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ!"
It might, on some accounts, seem strange that so few, if any, death-scenes of the apostles or primitive disciples are left on record by divine inspiration. “They must have been eminently animating and instructive. But their whole life was a living death; they died daily, and when we see them daily serving Christ, and daily desiring to depart and to be with Christ, the death-scene could add little to this testimony. St. Paul has given us, at the close of the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, and also throughout the eighth chapter of the epistle to the Romans, a picture beforehand of the blessedness of Christ's servants in death. And the death-scene of the first martyr is given us in the Acts of the Apostles, with heaven opened, and the glory of God visible, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God; and in the view of this vision, the dying Stephen is praying for his murderers. This was an example for all that should come after, both of the divine consolations, of which they might be sure in the hour of suffering and death, and of that divine spirit of forgiveness, in the exercise of which they must glorify their Saviour.
That the divine glory in the death of Christians is the object of our Lord's particular regard, may be gathered from what is said when Jesus gave an intimation concerning the death of Peter, in one o his last interviews with his disciples; “ This spake