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principles, to unlearn false notions, to renounce bad practices, to establish right habits, to begin to love God, to begin to hate sin ? How is the stupendous concern of salvation to be worked ont by a mind incompetent to the most ordinary concerns ?”
The infinite importance of what he has to doấthe goa. ding conviction that it must be done-the utter inability of doing it-the dreadful combination in his mind of both the necessity and incapacity—the despair of crowding the concerns of an age into a moment--the impossibility of beginning a repentance which should have been completed--of setting about a peace which should have been concluded.-of suing for a pardon which should have been obtained ;-all these complicated concernse-without strength, without time, without hope, with a clouded memory, a disjointed' reason, a wounded spirit,undefined terrors, remembered sins, anticipated punishment, an angry God, an accusing conscience, all together, intolera. bly augment the sufferings of a body which stands in little need of the ivsupportable burthen of a distracted mind to aggravate its torments.
Though we pity the superstitious weakness of the German Emperor in acting over the anticipated solemnities of his own. funeral ; that eccentrie act of penitence of a great but perverted mind; it would be well if we were now and then to represent to our minds while in sound health, the solemn certainties of a dying bed; if we were sometimes to image to ourselves this awful scene, not only as inevitable but as near; if we accustomed ourselves to see things now, as we shall then wish we had seen them. Surely the most sluggish insepsibility must be roused by figuring to itself the rapid approach of death, the nearness of our unalterable doom, our instant transition to that state of unutterable bliss or unimaginable woe to which death will in a moment consign us. Such a mental representation would assist us in dissipating the illusion of the senses; would help to realize what is invisible, and to approximate what we think remote. It wonld disenchant us from the world, tear off her painted mask, shrink her pleasures into their proper dimensions, her concerns into their real value, her enjoyments into their just compass, her promises into nothing.
Terrible as the evil is, if it niust, and that at no distant day, be met, spare not to present it to your imagination ;
not to lacerate your feelings but to arm your resolution ; not to excite unprofitable distress, but to strengthen your faith. If it terrify you at first, draw a little nearer to it every time. Familiarity will abate the terror. If you cannot face the image, how will you encounter the reality?
.. . Let us then figure to ourselves the moment (who can say that moment may not be the next?) when all we clinz to shall elude our grasp ; when every earthly good shall be to us as if it had never been, except in the remembrance of the use we have made of it; whep our eyes shall close upon a world of sense, and open on a world of spirits; when there shall be no relief for the fainting body, and no refuge for the parting soul, except that single refuge to which, perhaps, we have never thought of resorting--that refuge which if we have not despised we have too probably neglected—the everlasting mercies of God in Christ Jesus.
Reader! whoever you are, who have neglected to remember that to die is the end for which you were born, know that you have a personal interest in this scene. Turn not away from it in disdain, however feebly it may have been represented. You may escape any other evil of life, but its end you cannot escape. Defer not then its weightiest concern to its weakest period. Begin not the preparation when you should be completing the work. Delay not the business which demands your best faculties to the period of their debility, probably of their estinction. Leave not the work which requires an age to do, to be done in a moment, a moment too which may not be granted. The alternative is tremendous. The difference is that of being saved or lost. It is no light thing to perish.
FEW circumstances contribute more fatally to confirm in worldly men that insensibility to eternal things which was considered in the preceding Chapter, than the boast
fol accounts we sometimes hear of the firm and heroic death-beds of popular but irreligious characters. Many canses contribute to these happy deaths as they are called. The blind are, bold, they do not see the precipice they despise. Or perhaps there is less unwillingness to quit a world which has so often disappointed thein, or which they have sncked to the last dregs. They leave life with less reluctance, feeling that they have exhausted all its gratifications.-Or it is a disbelief of the reality of the state on which they are about to enter.-Or it is a desire to be released from excessive pain, a desire naturally felt by those who calculate their gain, rather by what they are escaping from, than by what they are to receive-Orit is equability of temper, or firmness of nerve, or hardness of mind. Or it is the arrogant wish to make the last act of life contirm its preceding professions. Or it is the vani, "ty of perpetuating their philosophic character.-Or if some faint ray of light break in, it is the pride of not retracting the sentiments which from pride they have maintained :--the desire of posthumous renown among their own party; the liope to make their disciples stand firm by their example; the ambition to give their last possible blow to revelationsor perhaps the fear of expressing doubts which might beget a suspicion that their disbelief was not so sturdy as tliey would bave it thought. Above all, may they not, as a punishment for their long neglect of the warning voice of trirth, be given up to a strong deInsion to believe the lie they have so often propagated, and really to expect to find in death that eternal sleep with which they have affected to quiet their own consciences, and have really weakened the faith of others.
Every new instance is an additional buttress on which the sceptical school lean for support, and which they pro. dnce as a fresh triumph. With equal satisfaction they collect stories of intirmity, depression and want of courage in the dying hour of religious men, whom the nature of the disease, timorousness of spirit, profound lumility, the sad remembrance of sin, though long repented of, and forgiven, a deep sense of the awfulness of meeting God in judgnient ;-whom some or all of these causes may occasion to depart in trembling fear; in whom, though heavi. ness may endure through the night of death, yet joy cometh in the morning of the resurrection. It is a viaxim of the Civil Law that definitions are
hazardous. And it cannot be denied that various des criptions of persons have hazarded much in their defivitions of a happy death. A very able and justly admired writer, who has distinguished himself by the most valuable works on political economy, has recorded, as proofs of the happy death of a no less celebrated contemporary, that he cheerfully amused himself in his last hours with LUCIAN, A GAME of wist, and some good humoured drollery upon CHARON and his boat.
But may we not venture to say, with “ one of the people called Christians,"* himself a Wit and Philosopher, though of the School of Christ, that the man who could meet death in such a frame of mind “might smile over Babylon in ruins, esteem the earthquake wbich destroyed Lisbon an agreeable occurrence, and congratulate the hardened Pharaoh on his overthrow in the Red Sea ?"
This eminent (historian and philosopher, whose great intellectual powers it is as impossible not to admire, as not to lament their unhappy misapplication, has been edi. logised by his friend, as coming nearer than almost any other man, to the perfection of human nature in his life; and has been alınost deified for the cool courage and heroic firmness with which be met death. His eloqnent Panegyrist, with as insidious an inprendo as has ever been thrown out against revealed religion, goes on to observe that,“ perhaps it is one of the very worst circumstances against Christianity, that very few of its professors were ever either so moral, so humane, or could so philosophically govern their passions, as the sceptical David Hume."
Yet notwithstanding this rich embalming of so noble a compound of “ matter and motion," we must be permitted to doubt one of the two things presented for our admiration; we must either doubt the so much boasted happiness of his death, or the so much extolled humanity of his heart. We must be permitted to suspect the soundness of that benevolence which led him to devote his latest hours to prepare, under the label of an Essay on Snic cide, a potion for posterity, of so deleterions a quality, that if taken by the patient, under all the circumstances, in which be undertakes to prove it innocent, might have goue near to effect the extinction of the whole human
* The late excellent Bishop Forme. See hts Letteri ro Dr. Adana Smith.
race. For if all rational beings, according to this posthum mous prescription, are at liberty to procure their own release from life “under pain or sickness, shame or poverty,” how large a portion of the world would be authorized to quit it uncalled! For how many are subject to the two latter grievances; from the two fornier how few are altogether exempt !*
The energy of that ambition which could concentrate the last efforts of a powerful mind, the last exertions of a spirit greedy of fame, into a project, not only for destroying the souls, but for abridging the lives of his fellowcreatures, leaves at a disgraceful distance the inverted thirst of glory of the man, who, to immortalize his own pame, set fire to the temple at Ephesiis. Such a burning zeal to annihilate the eternal hope of his fellow-creatures might be philosophy; but surely to authorize them to curtail their moral existence, which to the infidel who looks for no other, must be invaluable, was not philanthropy.
But if this death was thought worthy of being blazoned to the public eye in all the warm and glowing colours with which affection decorates panegyric, the disciples of the same school have been in general anxiously solicitous to produce only the more creditable instances of invincible hardness of heart, while they have laboured to 'cast an impenetrable veil over the closing scene of those among the less inflexible of the fraternity, who have exhibited in their departing moments, any symptoms of doubt, any indications of distrust, respecting the validity of their principles :-Principles which they had long maintained with so much zeal, and disseminated with so much icdustry.
In spite of the sedulous anxiety of his satellites to conceal the clouded setting of the great luminary of modern infidelity, from which so many minor stars have filled their little urns, and then set up for original lights themselves; in spite of the pains taken for we must drop
* Another part of the Essay on Suicide has this passage. Whenerer pain or sorrow so far overcome my patience, as to make me tired of life, I may conclude that I am recalled from my station in the plainest and most express terms."-And again." When I fall upan my owu sword, I receive my death equally from the hands of the Dei. tv, as it it had proceeded from a lion, a precipice, or a fever."-And again " Where is the crime of turning a few ounces of blood from their patural channel?"