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of mystery which breathes around him. A thousand times blessed is the close of his life, so full of hope and immortality. The soul that can rise above the clouds of earth can always behold the infinity of Heaven, and, perhaps, every rightly taught man before God takes him, ascends to a Pisgah of his own from whence to look farewell to the wilderness he has passed in the leadings of Jehovah's right hand, and to catch a glimpse of the promised land, lying in the everlasting orient before him.
Christian biography is rich in examples of such rapturous and peaceful foretastes as often characterize the closing scenes of the eminently pious. Of these, perhape, the most remarkable is that of the deeply pious and devoted John Janeway. “I am, through mercy, quite above the fears of death, and am going unto him whom I love above life. O, that I could let you know what I now feel. O, that I could show you what I now see! O, the glory! the unspeakable glory that I behold! My heart is full ; my heart is full; Christ smiles, and I cannot choose but smile. Can you find it in your heart to stop me, who am now going to the complete and eternal enjoyment of Christ? Would you keep me from my crown? The arms of my blessed Saviour are open to embrace me; the angels stand ready to carry my soul into his bosom. O, did you but see what I see, you would all cry out with me, "How long, dear Lord ? Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!”
Dr. Doddridge, when near his end, said : “Such delightful and transporting views of the heavenly world as my Father is now indulging me with, no words can express.”—“ Light breaks in! Light breaks in! Hallelujah !!! were among the dying words of the pious Blumhart of Basle. Dr. Bateman, a Christian physician, said, a little before he died : “I can hardly distinguish whether this is languor or drowsiness which has come over me; but it is a very agreeable feeling ;" and, dying! he exclaimed, “ What glory! the angels are waiting for mel Lord Jesus receive my soul! Farewell !" Addison, the English poet, when near death, called a young man, who was rather indifferent to religion, to his bedside, and while he pressed his hand with tender affection, said to him : ** Behold with what peace a Christian can die !"
Such language reminds one of the swan-song, which is sweetest when dying. It is like some of that language of rapture which we find in the Scriptures that trembled, like a thrill of heavenly joy, upon the tongues of saints ready to depart. Like Jacob : “ I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.” Like that of Simeon, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word : for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Like that of Paul : "I am now ready to be offered ; hence forth therefore there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness !"
ing dust, and on the heavens over you, and on the throne of the living God, and on the bar of judgment, “no hope"“no hope."
2. The text gives us a vivid conception of the misery and torment of hell. From that world, Hope is entirely and forever shut out. Her sweet voice, her reviving influence, her blessed companionship, are never seen or felt there. There is an utter extinguishment of this mighty passion in every breast. The future gives no promise of relief or good. Forth from its infinite depths there comes no voice of consolation or gladness, no ray of peace or beam of light. Darkness, and only darkness forever and ever! Misery and only misery forever and ever! Suffering, remorse, abandonment of God, exclusion from heaven, the horrid companionship of hell forever and ever! Without change—without mitigation-without relief! Dreariness, sadness,“ weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth," blasphemies, the raging of passion, the reign of despair unchecked, unchangeably, eternally! Forever, forever! O, that is the sum of final misery. “No hope" from out the Future. Pain, remorse, separation, darkness, dying, eternal, eternal. O, the inconceivable horrors of such a state, such a world! O, on the despairing countenance of that lost spirit I see gleaming in lurid light the fearful words of “no hope." On the walls of his eternal prison where he is doomed to drag out his long and weary existence, I read again “no hope." On the massive chains which fetter his agonized body and raving spirit“ no hope” is seen in glaring brightness. On “the smoke of their torment which ascendeth up before God forever and ever” the inscription once more appears " no hope.” And on the battlements of heaven, and on the rainbow which is round about the Throne, these fearful words again gleam forth. And now a voice breaks on my ear--ten thousand times ten thousand tongues catch up the cry and repeat it-it rolls through the caverns of that despairing world, and breaks in thunder on the ear of Heaven ; and 0, it is the same sentence which I have repeated to you so often, but now burdened with the sighs of a lost and despairing world—“no hope--no hopeno hope !"- Rev. J. M. Sherwood.
FORETASTES OF HEAVEN AT THE CLOSE OF LIFE.
0, the aged, venerable saint, upon whose mild countenance is reflected the soft, holy dawn of Heaven! We more than love, we reverence him. His very deadness to all the affinities of earth, makes us feel that he already belongs to a higher sphere! We linger around his arm-chair as around an oracle, and our spirits bow and worship in the sacred element
No. 11. VOL. XXVII.] NOVEMBER, 1853. (WHOLE No. 323.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvatlon; and uphold me with thy free Spirit : then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.''Psalms li. 10-13.
The history of David is very instructive. Great was his sin, and great was his punishment. He was made to suffer in his person and family, as well as in his own soul. His heart was wrung by family feuds and contentions, the consequences of his transgression. His son Ammon atrociously insulted his sister Tamar, and her brother Absalom fearfully avenged the crime : Absalom, in turn, having become a successful rebel, and having expelled his father from the capital, at the instigation of Ahitophel irreparably widened the breach between them by violating the sanctity of the royal harem before the people and before the sun, pitching his tent on the very spot where David had first nursed his unhappy passion.
And if we inquire why David's old and honoured counsellor should be the first to abet the rebellion of the son, we may trace his motives back to the ontraged feelings of family pride, Bathsheba was the grand-daughter of Ahitophel
Among the thirty-seven officers of the royal life-guards, we find the name of Eliam, the son of Ahitophel the Gilonite, and beside it, that of Uriah the Hittite, who had for his wife, Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam. No wonder, then, that Absalom knew what he was about, when he sent to Ahitophel to strengthen, by his name and influence, the conspiracy against the wretched king.
While David, on one hand, had alienated the wise old counsellor, on the other he had put himself completely in the power of his general, and was obliged tamely to submit to Joab's arrogance, as well as his direct disobedience in not sparing the young man, Absalom. So did not David yield when Joab assassinated Abner. Then he compelled Joab himself to put on sackcloth, and join in the funeral procession after Abner's bier. But now he submits to his servant's insolence, and passively complies with his directions. He had made Joab his, confidant and accomplice in the matter of Uriah, and he never was his own man afterwards.
" Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
But if David smarted in his person and his family, he was made to suffer yet more severely in his own soul. Of the bitterness of his remorseful feelings, the fifty-first Psalm is a faithful record What depths of self-abasement, what tender regrets what penitential sorrow it breathes! He represents himself as incessantly haunted by the gaunt spectre of his guilt, without repose, night and day. “My sin is ever before me.” Raised above the reach of the law by his regal station, he the more freely bewailed his vileness in the sight of his heavenly Judge. “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight." Ardently he longs for the purifying hyssop, and envies the whiteness of the snow. Nathan had told him, “by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme ; and, conscious of the reproach he had brought upon religion, he desires reinstatement in the divine favor, that he may, as far as possible, repair the great wrong he had done, and once more resume those active duties which his torpid conscience had so long intermitted. Therefore he prays, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways ; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”
It is evident that David's chagrin for the shame and scandal his conduct had cast upon religion, was at least as keen as his personal mortification ; and this is still further evinced by his fervent desire, in close of the psalm, that God would do good, in his good pleasure, unto Zion, and build the walls of Jerusalem.
The sentiment to which the psalmist was led to give utterance, is weighty, and deserves to be pondered. It is a truth which the professed people of God, in every age, should seriously lay to heart. A clean conscience, and a lively enjoyment of religion are necessary to extensive usefulness and influence in the cause of God, and in winning souls to Him.
This will appear from three reasons, embracing the elements on which a successful result depends-Experience, Confidence, and Joy.
I. Only an experimental acquaintance with religion can qualify any one to speak of it to edification.
A blind man has been known to lecture on colors; but a blind man could not teach the art of painting. In like manner. Religion is not a mere theory but a practice also. Its vitality and excellence consist in action. It is a life and a power. Hence the apostle speaks of the power of godliness, and distinguishes between the power and the form. Without the former, the latter is but an empty shell. It is no better than sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
Notions picked up at second-hand must necessarily be crude, superficial, and inadequate. What a man learns by hearsay, he may, parrot-like, prate about, but his conceptions lack clearness and solidity. No description can give the same vivid idea of a thing as an actual acquaintance with it. Describe to any one the flavor of some tropical fruit which he has never seen, or some charming landscape which he has never visited ; what distinct impression will be left on his mind? But, on the contrary, let him taste the fruit himself, and he has an accurate idea of its flavor at once. Let him see the landscape with his own eves, and though he should have but a single glimpse, and his sight should be from that moment irreparably lost, yet that momentary glimpse has sufficed to reveal to him, and to daguerreotype ineffaceably upon his memory, glories and beauties which fancy never could have conjured up. Such is the infinite superiority of knowledge gained by experience over that obtained from the description of others. Doubtless it is in allusion to the clearness and distinctness of an experimental knowledge of religion, that the exhortation is addressed to us by the sacred writers, “O, taste and see that the Lord is good ;" "Come and see !” “ Prove all things ; hold fast that which is good.”
Acting upon this principle, the apostle Paul charged Timothy, when employed as an evangelist, and ordaining elders in every city, " the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” He was persuaded that an experimental knowledge of the trials and supports of the Christian tife was necessary to furnish the pastor for his work, and enlarge his usefulness and efficiency among the children of sorrow. How could he who had never mourned enter into the feelings of the