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Narratives, Anecdotes, &c.
THE TWO DEATH-BEDS;
OR, WHO IS THE HAPPIER? I had gone from my own home to a distant town, to preach on the Sunday, and was there requested to call on the following morning to converse with a gentleman who was very ill. Having an hour or two of leisure on the Monday, before the appointed time for this visit, I felt desirous of spending it usefully, and determined to seek some abode of poverty, where a word of advice or consolation might be given. The keen winds were blowing fiercely without, and driving the sleet in the face of the passenger; and the dark clouds foreboded a heavy fall of snow. The “hoary frost of heaven” thickened on the panes of glass; and the long icicles hung from the eaves of the houses, and gave an aspect of dreariness to the half-forsaken streets. But I could say, as our Saviour said when on earth, “I must be about my Father's business;” and wrapping my warm clothing around me, I set forth on my journey.
Leaving behind the wide streets and handsome houses of the city, I proceeded to an humbler neighbourhood, and turning down a narrow and dirty passage, I came to some of the poorest dwellings of poverty. Crowded houses, with broken windows, and with all the marks of wart and discomfort, were now before me. The proud man would look on such homes with disgust; the kind-hearted person would sigh as he gazed upon them, and call them abodes of wretchedness and dwellings of misery; and a feeling of hopelessness might come over him, as he thought of the ills of life and his own inability to remedy them; but the Christian may contemplate such scenes in the light cast upon them by God's word, and may feel a hope that some of the inmates of these lowly homes may be meetening for his “Father's house,” in which there are “many mansions,” since God has often chosen the “poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him” (Jas. ii. 5.)
Descending some steps, I tapped gently at one of the poorest houses, and a faint voice bade me enter. I opened the door of a room which was partly under ground, and went in. The broken panes of glass were filled with rags, which formed but an imperfect barrier to the cold winter wind. No fire was in the room, and in one corner of it lay a man, evidently in the last stage of sickness. A little straw formed his bed, and over his body were spread his few tattered garments as a covering. Not a chair was in the cold and cheerless apartment, but by the side of the sick man stood a low stool, on which were placed a piece of bread and a cup of water. I advanced to the man with words of kindness; but how great was my surprise to hear him
say, “Oh, sir, I am very happy; I need nothing!” “And what makes you happy ?" I asked. “Oh, sir, it is this—it is this which tells of the Saviour and heaven_it is this which tells me my sins are pardoned.” As he spoke, he drew from under his bed an old bible, and placed it in my hand.
We often hear it said that happiness depends rather on the state of the mind within than on the outward circumstances; yet how slowly do we receive it as a part of our practical belief. But the sight of a death-bed like this brings the truth home to the heart with power, and we at once perceive how an actual living faith in Christ can so shed its blessed aspect over the things of our mortal life, as that frail and sinful man may triumph over suffering, and even death, and may realize that expression of the apostle, “As dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as having nothing, yet possessing all things” (2 Cor. vi. 9, 10.)
I stayed some time with the sick man. We spoke together of heaven, that happy world which is described in the book of Revela. tion, chap. xxi. 4, where “ God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away;" and where the angels, and the redeemed spirits from among men, sing continually; “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever (Rev. v. 13.) We dwelt on the love of Christ to sinful men, and recalled his words to his disciples : “ Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John xv. 13.) And while we spoke of the sorrows of earth, we rejoiced in the blessed assurance, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. iv. 17, 18.)
I prayed with the dying man, and, having administered to his temporal necessities, parted from him, to meet no more till wę bow together before the throne of God, when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality (1 Cor. xv. 53.)
And now, quitting the neighbourhood of poverty, I walked quickly on to that part of the town where the handsome streets and large houses told of wealth and comfort. As I entered the door of the mansion to which I had been invited, the physicians were leaving the house. They had been consulting on the case of the invalid, and had pronounced it hopeless, I proceeded to the sick chamber, and I could not but contrast it with the scene which I had lately left. All those comforts were here which can do so much to soften suffering, and 66 Come now,
which are felt to be truly valuable in the hour of sickness and pain. The soft thick carpet hushed the sound of the footstep ; the warm curtains sheltered the invalid from the stormy gusts which sent their loud sighs around the dwelling; and the fire blazed brightly on the hearth. But, alas ! the cheerful appearance of things without corresponded but ill with the heart of the sick man. There was no light there-all was darkness and dreariness; and the restless motions and mournful voice told that sorrow and fretfulness were working within. He, however, received me kindly. He told me that he was unhappy. He confessed that he was unprepared for death-that he was not safe for eternity; and entreated advice and consolation. I pointed him to God's most holy word, and read to him many passages. and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your skins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. i. 18.) “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart : and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. xi. 28, 29.) I read to him that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin ; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. V. 21.) I told him that it was not now too late to confess his sins to God, and to ask that God would send his Holy Spirit into his heart to lead him to the Saviour ; and showed him that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Gal. iii. 13); and that the simple belief in the Lord Jesus would even now render him safe for eternity, since the Bible hath said, “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts xvi. 31.)
I left this gentleman, and heard only that he died shortly after the interview. Whether he was enabled to exercise faith in Christ before his death, we cannot tell; but, alas ! a fearful woe is denounced in Scripture against those who have not loved and honoured God, and who have rejected the blessings purchased by the Saviour's death ; for them is prepared “weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” This, at least, is certain, that all would rather die the blessed death of the poor man, than that of his richer neighbour. But we cannot choose our lot, when we are dying. It is in life that we must seek God. We know that all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. v. 10); and when the hour of death approaches, we shall feel, more forcibly than now, the solemnity of that momentous question of our Saviour, “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Mark viii. 36, 37.)
JUST AS YOU ARE.
Anxious sinner! if you would save your soul, hasten to Christ, just as you are. Just as you are; for he came to save you just as you are.
Had there been no sinners, he had never made atonement; he had never invited men unto himself; he had never authorized the offer of mercy, If you come in any other character than that of a guilty, ruined sinner, you mistake the grand characteristic of the Christian religion, and will assuredly never experience its blessedness.
Just as you are; for you will never be better prepared. You have spent a whole lifetime, long or short, in trying to make yourself good, but God loathes you more and more, as you go about to establish your own righteousness. All you can do has no merit, and will never propitiate the favour of him from whom alone must come your blessing,
Just as you are; for he waits to be gracious to you. He has invited you as a sinner; why should you wish to present yourself in any other character ? Can you doubt that such graciousness will secure your assistance as soon as you come unto him ?
Just as you are; for his grace is infinite, and cannot fail to cover the whole extent and enormity of your guilt. Did he not know the whole case of ruined sinners, when he undertook the work of redemption ? Has he not all fulness in himself, and can there be a case so desperate that he cannot rescue and save ?
Just as you are; for it is only as a sinner saved, that you will have any disposition or capacity to rejoice or to join in the blessed anthems of the redeemed. Oh! what is the theme of their present and their eternal praises, but the grace that has made them clean in the blood of the Lamb ?
Just as you are ; for he may not wait longer if you delay. Oh! hell is peopled with those who have refused until the compassionate Saviour has turned from them, and wept over the infatuation that decided their ruin.
Just as you are ; for you have nothing else to give. Penances are of no account with him ; all your righteousness is as filthy rags; even your confessions, and lamentations, and self-reproaches, render you no more acceptable in his sight. It is only your polluted soul that he wants, and only that you have to give. Oh, then, wait no longer, but make the resolve to go to Jesus just as you are. Give yourself up to him to be saved just as he sees fit to save, and say
“ Here, Lord, I give myself away-
IT IS APPOINTED UNTO MEN ONCE TO DIE.-Suppose you were now lying upon your death beds, and groaning out your last breath, what would you wish you had been? Oh, that I had been a regenerate, converted person! Oh, that I had been a true believer and righteous person! Would not this be the language of your wishes, the breathing of your desires ? Oh, labour now that you may be so; then it may be too late to be made so, but now it is not too late. Oh, pray earnestly unto the Lord to make you such persons. - What would you, in such an hour, wish you had done? Oh, that I had made it my business to be religious! Oh, that I had lived in a course of obedience to the commandments of the Lord! Beloved, if you have neglected this hitherto, neglect it no longer; as yet God stretcheth forth the hand and holds forth the sceptre of grace to you; apply yourselves to him, and cry for mercy, and pardon, and grace to serve him the short remainder of your days; and give up yourselves to God, with full purpose of heart to stick close to him as long as you live.What would be the grief of your hearts, and wound your consciences in the dying hour? Oh, my sins, they trouble me; they are like a heavy load upon me, which I fear will sink me into the bottomless pit! Oh, my drunkenness, my uncleanness! Oh, how bitter are my sweet pleasures of sin which I have reaped; my covetousness, my unrighteousness. Oh, how unprofitable are my riches in this day of calamity! Beloved, take heed of those sins now, which, at the last, will bite like an adder, and sting like a serpent. Get your sins pardoned, and your sins mortified. Sin is the sting of death; get it removed. What would you wish, on your death bed, that you had obtained ? Oh, that I had an interest in Christ! Oh, that I had my heart fur. nished with grace! Oh, that I had laid up my treasure in heaven! Beloved, let me tell you, that a sick-bed, and a death-bed, is a very unlikely place to obtain these things, if you do not get them before ; such a time is a spending time, not a gaining time; it is a time for the using of grace, for few do obtain it then; ten thousand to one but you are undone for ever, if you have these things to get then. Now fly to Christ, and lay hold on him by faith ; now cry for grace, and be ready to receive it; now lay up your treasures above, and get your affections set upon them, and then you will be happy in your
death.-Vincent. “WHAT HAST THOU DONE ?” (Gen. iv. 10). God asks us what we have done, and what can we reply? Have we kept his law? Have we believed his gospel? We have sinned, and that is the very worst thing we could do.' Sin is a violation of God's law, an insult to his majesty, a rejection of his authority. The sinner treats God with contempt, and prefers Satan, the vilest and most despicable of beings, to him. We have sinned, and therefore deserve to die. We have