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DEATH AT HAND.
“ There is but a step between me and death."-1 Sam. xx. 3.
So said David of old, and so may each one of us say. Death is a very solemn event, for it is the consequence of sin, it is the end of our course on earth, it terminates our probation, and it introduces us into an unchangeable state. After death there is life, a life of certainty, no doubts or fears; a life of peace, no foes or conflicts; a life of holiness, no sin or impurity; a life of service, no idleness or illness ; a life of happiness, perfect and perpetual happiness. After death there is the second death, a separation from all friends and comforts; from all hope and cheerful prospects; from all enjoyment either of body or mind; and from God, who is the fountain of health, holiness, and happiness. Death, as referred to by David, happens but once, “it is appointed unto all men once to die, and after this the judgment” (Heb. ix. 27). A mistake made here can never be rectified. If we die in sin, we must for ever suffer. If we die without Christ, we must remain separate from Christ for ever. This is a solemn thought, and should have our most serious consideration.
Death is very near us, there is but a step between us and it. Nothing is more uncertain than life, for we are not sure of one day, one hour, yea, one minute. Sudden death is by no means uncommon; and if others have died suddenly, why may not we? We may be corpses before night, for death is just at hand. Men place it at a distance; but this is folly, the distance exists perhaps only in the man's imagination. Men endeavour to forget it; but this is equally foolish, for death will come whether we think of it or no.
Men do not prepare for it; one would think they must be insane. Who would propose a journey to some foreign shore and make no preparation for that journey, or for comfort at its end? Yet men know that they must cross the ocean of death, and land on the shores of the invisible world, and make no preparation for it. Surely, as the wise man said, “Madness is in their hearts while they live” (Eccles. ix. 3). Men are often surprised by death, and yet no one should be. The Saviour has said to every one of us, “Be ye also ready;" others have been taken, your turn will soon come. Your days are numbered.
The hour of your death is fixed. The messenger stands ready to execute the sentence of justice. The axe is laid at the root of the tree, at any moment it may be taken up, and then, with one stroke perhaps, the tree falls. My dear friends, we should become familiar with death. We should think of it, prepare for it, and daily stand ready. We should make sure that we are in Christ, that our faith is genuine, our repentance sincere, and our lives regulated by God's holy word. Thoughts of death as so very near should make us serious,-active in God's cause, -devout in our spirit and temper,-attentive to all the means intended
for our salvation or improvement,—to hold all earthly things very loosely,—and to seek certainty as to our admission into the inberitance of the saints in light. We ought not to live one moment undecided, or in a state of uncertainty.
But though death is so near, and so uncertain, yet many thoughtless persons feel secure. No alarm agitates their bosoms. No concern regulates their minds. They see others die, they hear of the number that are daily cut off, but they are not affected. Truly they are dead in trespasses and sins. Others think occasionally, and feel at times the importance of a preparation for death; but they put the matter off, thinking that a more convenient season will arrive. My dear reader, the present is the convenient season. Now the way of salva. tion is just before you,—the gate of life stands wide open,—the Son of God is willing to receive you,—and all heaven will rejoice in your repentance and conversion to God. If there is but a step between us and death, there ought not to be a step between us and Christ. He alone can deliver us from the power of death. He alone can save us from sin, and introduce us to eternal life. Let us, therefore, make sure of an interest in Christ, of union to Christ, and of the Spirit of Christ, so shall we have nothing to fear even if there be not a step between us and death, but shall perhaps rather say with the apostle, “I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” New-Park-Street, London.
“MY LIFE HAS BEEN A FAILURE.”
So said a capitalist in this country, worth his several millions, on being asked why he did not have a biography of his life written. What an answer, and what a sad truth to be made and considered by one who has spent a long life in amassing wealth; and now, with trembling limbs, stepping into the grave, the startling truth, quite too late it is to be feared, flashes across the mind, that his life has been a failure,—its great object, and the only one worthy the attention of an immortal being, having been entirely overlooked or neglected! What more than such a thought need occupy a sane mind, to fill and keep it full of unutterable anguish ? Life a failure ! Probation squandered -ending! The soul lost!!
Reader, is this your case ? The question is vital, and full of interest. You may have succeeded in business,-wealth may have poured in
upon you, and the influence and treasures of this world may be at your feet. But surely life has something nobler than this. The immortal spirit cannot be satisfied with such results; and sure I am, that as it surveys them, and marks their individual or comparative value, if it has nothing else on which to repose, it will feel that life has been an utter failure. Mind may have been cultivated,—the stores of science and philosophy acquired,mand distinction in these departments of human ingenuity, may have crowned you. But, reader, surely there is something nobler than all this. What so sublime as the soul? What so absorbing as its vast and eternal destiny? What so imperial as its moral training ? To leave this uncared for and untaught, is to be guilty of a sin of untold magnitude. Reader, remember that a man is not profited though he gain the world, and lose his soul. The exchange is fearful,--the peril is momentarily impending,-and to neglect the great salvation, whatever other gain may be possessed, is to render the whole of life a failure of the worst and most appalling kind.
Speak gently ! it is better far
To rule by love than fear: Speak gently ! let not harsh words mar
The good we might do here. Speak gently ! Love doth whisper low
The vows that true hearts bind, And gently friendship's accents flow
Affection's voice is kind.
Its love be sure to gain ;
It may not long remain.
Will have enough to bear,
'Tis full of anxious care. Speak gently to the aged one,
Grieve not the care-worn heart; The sands of life are nearly run:
Let such in peace depart. Speak gently, kindly to the poor,
Let no harsh tone be heard ;
Without an unkind word.
They must have toiled in vain; Perchance unkindness made them so:
Oh, win them back again!
To bend man's stubborn will,
Said to them, “ Peace! be still.” Speak gently ! 'tis a little thing,
Dropp'd in the heart's deep well; The good, the joy which it may bring
Eternity shall tell.
Narratives, Anecdotes, &c.
“A BRAND PLUCKED FROM THE FIRE."
Zech. iii. 2. I was called a short time back to visit a dying woman, who for many years had stifled conviction. Yet she was one whom the world called good. She was morally good, but she wanted the "one thing needful.” She had not till now been stripped of her own righteousness, which the apostle calls “filthy rags;" but the time of trial had now come, her work was to be tried by fire. When first I visited her, I found her in the greatest agony of mind, God's word had come home to her with power, the fires of conviction were burning up her spirit, and she was anticipating the torments of that place “ where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.” Upon asking her the state of her mind, she replied, “miserable; I am lost, I am lost.” I replied, “ Jesus came to seek and to save the lost.” She said, “Sir, I am too great a sinner to be saved.” I answered, “this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, even the chief.” I again said, “Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; the whole need not a Physician, but they that are sick.” I read to her that beautiful hymn 80 adapted to her case,
“Come ye sinners poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Full of mercy, joined with power," &c. and also the 51st Psalm, which she appeared to take deep interest in. I prayed with her and left her.
On the occasion of my next visit I found her in still greater distress than before. Still I told her of the love of Jesus, and that he is able to save to the utlermost all who come unto God by Him. I then asked her if she desired to be saved. “Oh, Sir!” she replied, fixing her eyes on me, and summoning all her energy, “Saved! I would give a thousand worlds if I had them; but such a vile sinner as I am to be saved ! 'tis of no use; I am lost! I deserve to perish. I shall soon be in hell.” I repeated some invitations and promises, but she replied they were not for her. In vain did I speak of Jesus. She had slighted that love, and the invita ons and promises. She had neg. lected them till she thought it was too late. Yet I prayed with her, and again left her.
I went again and again, with little or no apparent success. Her anguish of mind was intense. I continued to tell her of the love of God in sending His dear Son into the world, that whOSOEVER believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. I told
her of an adulterous David who found mercy!-of a persecuting Paul of Tarsus, who found mercy! -of a backsliding Peter, who found mercy!-of a Mary Magdalene, who found mercy!—of the dying thief, who found mercy !_of the Jerusalem sinners, who found mercy!-of the Prodigal Son, who FOUND MERCY! I related to her the parable of the gospel feast, and told her “none were excluded thence," but those who exclude themselves.” She answered, “that is what I have done: I have excluded myself.” After replying to this, I read a hymn, and left her very weak, and still desponding.
However, during the night, she appeared to have a ray of hope. While her husband was reading a hymn, one of the verses of which begins,
“I that am defil'd by sin,
A rebel to my God"she rose up in the bed, and said, “read that again, and again.” She said, “I then have a hope; I am all defiled by sin, a rebel to my God. Will He save me? may I hope?” She sent for me. I found her with a weak faith endeavouring to lay hold of the hope set before her in the gospel, and I spoke words of encouragement to her. But her fears returned with the morning, and during the day she was as miserable as ever, having an idea that she had committed the unpardonable sin. I wished her to unbosom her mind to me in confidence, thinking she might be relieved by telling what oppressed her; and oh! that there had been thousands within hearing, who are living without religion, careless and prayerless. She said, “I have neglected my Bible!” “I have neglected prayer!” “I have neglected God's house!” “And now it is TOO LATE.” I told her I thought differently; and furthermore said, “ I entertain great hopes of your salvation even from your state of mind.” “But, oh, sir,” she said, “you are deceived in me, for I cannot pray, and I feel I am so great a sinner.” Her nurse told me that she had during the night frequently attempted to pray.
I then told her Christ was a great Saviour for great sinners, and I asked her if she thought the dear Saviour intended to mock her, repeating Matt. vii. 7-11; Isaiah i. 18; Matt. xi. 28. I then requested her to repeat after me a verse of a hymn,
“ Just as I am, without one plea,
Oh, Lamb of God, I come,”
which she did wi much earnestness. After commending her to God in earnest prayer I left her, feeling assured the Lord had begun the good work.
About half-past twelve o'clock that night I believe Jesus revealed himself to her, as a God pardoning inquity, transgression, and sin. She sent for me to tell me of the change. As soon as I entered the
she exclaimed, “My dearest friend, I can never sufficiently