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B had been respectable in his position, and therefore his ignorance was the more inexcusable. When seriously warned about his state of mind, now that death was near, he said that when young he had gone a considerable way
in accounts, and that his mother had lived forty years, as domestic servant, in a nobleman's family ;-evidently wishing to intimate that these antecedents would serve at least to extenuate his failings, if they did not entirely indemnify him before the Judge of all !
C bad received a superior education, had been a merchant's clerk and a commercial traveller, and was somewhat refined in manners and taste. By intemperance he had been brought to extreme poverty. He had something of the form of religion, but was a stranger to the power. He was exceedingly ignorant of all spiritual experience. Few men had been more faithfully admonished. A plain and earnest conversation with this man, when on the verge of eternity, merely called forth the apathetic remark, “ It is good doctrine."
D, on hearing the way of salvation by faith in Christ illustrated by reference to Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness, observed with much surprise, “ It was the sharpest thing he had ever heard in his life !” He
gave the customary nod of assent to other important truths ; but not the slightest evidence was afforded of “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
E had some accomplishments. He was an artist, a poet, and an author. But, alas ! his mind was grossly darkened, yea," alienated from the life of God.” He was not ignorant, because he possessed much depraved intelligence. His mind was amply stored with inveterate prejudices against the truths of religion. He was utterly averse from all spiritual conversation. Shortly before his death he tried to evade the point of a few plain remarks about God and the soul, by unseasonably requesting some alteration in his diet.
F lived to be eighty, but felt confident she should live to reach a hundred; her mother having been, as she said, a centenarian. Although greatly depraved, and in the habit of taking the name of God in vain, she professed to address a daily prayer to Him, that she might live as long as her mother had done! When spoken to about the soul, she said the Lord had manifested Himself to her in a vision, when He took her by the hand, and assured her there should be a place reserved for her in His kingdom !
G had seen much of gentlemen's service, and lived in highly respectable situations. He was most regularly observant of the established ordinances of religion, but stopped short of the “charity” which “edifieth ;” which “suffereth long, and is kind ;” and without which our deeds are nothing worth. “Shall I pray with you ?” asked one who stood by his dying bed, and who felt alarmed at his awful apathy. The unsatisfactory answer was, “ I don't know.”
Others, not a few, clung to a hope altogether delusive. Their housefabric of their own rearing—had its foundation in the sand ; and they cried, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace. Some betrayed not the slightest
emotion in their last hour, but in stoical sullenness sank down into the arms of death. Truly was it affirmed by a late eminent man,—“ If the mists and fogs of sin are not dispelled from the mind by the noon of life, the remaining part of the day is generally cloudy and overcast.” “I once made an actual examination of this sort,” says a minister, “ in respect of two hundi ed and fifty-three hopeful converts to Christ, who came under my observation at a particular period. Of these there were converted, Under 20 years of age.
4 50 60.
3 60 70........
1 What an appeal is this to the unconverted, of every age!” The present writer may couple with the above an affecting statement founded upon his own observation :-Out of the whole number of those who had reached seventy, he cannot remember one case of sound conversion upon a death-bed. Those who could rejoice and triumph there had laid the foundation of their piety is early life, and could testify, “ It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth."
It is true that some in the hour of death have muttered a partial confession of their past errors, ack nowledging that they had “ left undone the things they ought to have done,” and “done the things they ought not to have done.” But the true motives to repentance could not be discovered. Are not the unavailing regrets which the dying express often mistaken for a godly sorrow on account of sin ? A pious parochial minister kept a regular account of the sick persons he visited during twenty years' residence. In his very extensive parish many went down to the silent grave during that long period : but he states that a considerable number recovered, and that out of txo thousand, who, in the prospect of death, gave some[seeming] evidence of a change of heart,-and, had they died, would, in the judgment of charity, have been considered genuine penitents,—two, and only two, proved by their future lives that their repentance was sincere, and their conversion genuine. “Nineteen hundred and ninety-eight,” he says, “ returned to a state of careless indifference, and a course of sin.” “I pay more attention to people's lives,” says Mr. Booth, “than to their deaths. In all the visits I have paid to the sick, during the course of a long ministry, I never met with one, not previously serious, that ever recovered from what he supposed the brink of death, who afterwards performed his vows, and became religious, not withstanding the very great appearance there was in their favour when they thonght they could not recover.”
But now for a brighter picture than the one just scanned. Gems of purest lustre are sometimes found even in the work houses of this land; apparently the more brilliant and valuable, perhaps, because surrounded by so much that is dull and worthless. About one-fifth of the hundred and eleven mentioned may be marked as of a different stamp from the examples last
quoted. These had hope, sound and scriptural, in their death. Still it cannot be too carefully remembered, that they brought their religion with them when they entered the workhouse. In their case there was “light in the evening;” but there had also been light in the morning. The Sun of righteousness had arisen upon them “ with healing in His wings ;” shining upon them throughout a long day, and gilding its close with His effulgent beams.
W. W. was “ready always to give an answer to every man that asked him a reason of the hope that was in him, with meekness and fear.” He was exceedingly illiterate, not being able to read ; but he had firm hold of the great staple truths of Christianity. His constant prayer was, that God would pardon all his short-comings for Christ's sake :
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit in me, for Christ's sake. Be Thou with me down to death, and up to glory, for Christ's sake.” “It is this that pleases William,” said he, " that it is all for Christ's sake—no worthiness of mine.” This plain man had been taught in the school of Jesus; and his case exemplifies the well-known stanza following :
“ No matter how dull the scholar whom He
Takes into His school, and gives him to see :
And wise to salvation He makes us through faith." Two other pleasing instances shall suffice. It is probable that two better men than these never came within the walls of any work house. They were well known in their circles by the familiar desi tions of “Old Jabez,” and “ Old Thomas ;"—the former, eighty; the latter, ninety years of age. True types were they of all that is honest, simple, sincere, and affectionate. They might be accounted dissimilar in their outer man, and in their mental constitution ; but in the main features of character both were essentially one. They had sentiments in common, religious experience in common, and blooming hopes in common. The younger was admitted as an inmate about three months before the elder. Two veterans meeting after a hardfought engagement could not have been more joyous than were old Jabez and Thomas at the first interview. Both, indeed, had “endured hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” They had known each other more than half a century, and had often suffered and rejoiced together. But now their day of active service had closed, and both were waiting to enter into the joy of their Lord. “Behold,” we read,"my servants shall sing for joy of heart.” (Isai. Ixv. 14.) The two old friends did this. It was surprising, at their great age, that they could raise their voices so high. Their favourite lines were those by the sainted Miller :
“ Pilgrim, soon the journey's done !
Warrior, soon battle's won !
Jesus calls, and calls for thee,
• Faithful servant, come to me!'” There were seasons when they felt the unabated ardour of their youthful zeal rising within them, and, clad in “the whole armour of God,” imagined they were going once more, sword in hand, into the battle-field,-singing, as they advanced, an old martial strain :
“We're soldiers fighting for our God :
Let trembling cowards fly,
For Christ to live and die." Both these men were remarkably clear in the account of their conversion ; and, although sixty years or more had since elapsed, they referred back to the time with most glowing emotions of gratitude. Thomas could not, like Jabez, give the time and place when he was born again ; but he said an account of it was recorded in the fly-leaf of an old book which had been lost. “One thing I know," he added ; " whereas I was blind, now I see.” Agrin : “I was happy then, and I am happy now.” It was evident that the two were becoming daily more “meet for an inheritance among the saints in light.” There was a mellowness in their religious experience. Their remarks were often very racy. Jabez said, he should like to become 3 “brown-sheller,” (the ripe nut dropping out of its husk,)-i. e., fully matured for heaven. He had blessed visitations in the night season, when he praised God aloud. With touching simplicity he would say, “I am very happy. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.' He saveth to the uttermost ; and what an uttermost that is !” Truly, the hoary pilgrim had reached the land of Beulah," where the sun shineth night and day.” His old companion, Thomas, had arrived in the same happy land ; and, like Christian and Hopeful, the two “solaced themselves there for a season. Yea, here they heard continually the singing of birds, and saw every day the flowers appear in the earth, and heard the voice of the turtle in the land.” From this point neither of the two “could so much as see Doubting Castle.” They appeared to be made“ perfect in love." “I have nothing," said Jabez, “ against any soul upon earth. I pity the sinner, and love the saint, but Christ above all.” His companion's cup seemed always full to the brim; and the recollection of a promise, or an apposite quotation from Seriptuie, made by another, caused it at once to flow over. The two old men usually sat close to each other; and the younger, having the better memory and better hearing, would often touch his neighbour's elbow, and whisper into his ear a portion of some rich and beautiful promise, till Thomas got hold of a word or two, and helped him to finish the passage. At length Jabez became sick, and ready to die. In the prospect he repeatedly said, “I should like to wind up well.
• None but Christ to me be given ;
None but Christ, in earth or heaven!” I feel the name of the Lord is a strong tower.' 'God is my refuge and
strength, a very present help in trouble.'” When the message arrived, “Come up hither,” he was accompanied by several Christian friends—Thomas, of course, among them—down to the bridgeless river, which was very deep at the tinie he crossed. As the billows passed over him, he said, “I find it hard toiling to make the blest shore." But he greatly revived in spirit, and spoke of the promise, as sweetly applied, “I will never leave thee ; I will never forsake thee.” “Are you upon the rock-the rock Christ Jesus?" we asked.
The answer, distinctly heard, was,
“ Other refuge have I none,” &c. The word “ Victory ! was also on his lips. In a word, he got well over to the celestial side. When Jabez safely landed, Thomas gave glory to God. Like Mr. Valiant, he“ played upon the well-tuned cymbal and harp for joy." In a few weeks it became evident that the surviver was drawing near his end also. No matter ; Thomas was eagerly listening for his final call. He joyously exclaimed,
“ A few more rising suns, at most,
Will land me on fair Canaan's coast." In a few days there came the welcome summons for this old disciple of ninety ; and he went through the river, singing,
My Jesus to know, and feel His blood flow,
”T is life everlasting ; 't is heaven below!' One may readily imagine, that foremost of the convoy appointed to attend the happy spirit up to the gate would be his former companion. Doubtless, they now together raise their well-attuned voices, and “sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty ; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints !” * “ Write," said the voice from heaven in the Apocalypse, “ Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth : Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours ; and their works do follow them.”
Here our little chronicles of the departed must end. And what do they teach? Certainly, lessons of the highest importance to all, but especially to the young. This paper is the echo of the words of the Preacher : “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” Has it not been shown, by statistics and stubborn facts, that the probabilities of conversion diminish, and the difficulties increase, just in proportion to the advance of years,—until, at length, to human eyes the obstacles seem insuperable ? Should the young live to be old, they will then find that numerous sorrows beat down both body and mind. “Oppressed nature,” says one,
“ has then enough to do to bear its own infirmities; and, as there is little time, there is generally less inclination, to call upon the Lord. Evil habits are
* For fuller accounts of these two worthies, see tracts, entitled, “ The Happy Old Man," No. 11, Large-Type Series ; and “ Jabez Hanbury,” No. 19a, Regular Series. Pulilished by John Nason, 2, Castle-street, Finsbury ; sold at 66, Paternoster-Row, London.