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destitute of an asylum. Unhappy spectre ! as soon. as she arrived at the pale portal of the lifeless lips, she began to seek for a place of refuge: she looked up towards heaven, but dreadful was the prospect, for she beheld an incensed God loosing his engines, and beginning to play his flaming indignation upon her: to shun this inevitable evil, she looked downward, but equally terrible was her prospect there : with consummate horror she beheld the yawning jaws of intolerable hell extended wide to receive her. There being now no flying from the environing evils, the swift messengers of destruction seized, should, cred, and bore her away, to appear before the judg, ment seat of injured and incensed justice, where she received the fearful, the irrevocable sentence, “ Depart from me, thou cursed, into everlasting fire, pre. pared for the devil and his angels.” But, oh! ng tongue can express, no heart can conceive her struggles and shriekings, when she first felt the tormenting touch of the intolerable talons of hell! her lamentations ascended even to the relentless throne of God..
I thought in my dream, that by this time, I was almost dead with surprize and fear; but my benevolent guide imparted to me a cordial, in my esteem, infinitely more valuable than all the wealth of the Indies, by which I was much refreshed, and after some time I addressed him thus:
O, sir, what have I heard! what have I seen surely! this man must have been some vile, notoriously wicked, and uncommon sinner, which makes his latter end so terrible.
To which the venerable gentleman replied: You may be assured, young man, that the Lord's judgments are just, and that he condemns only in righteousness: and if this man had not been a sinner, his final sentence had not been such as you have heard and seen. That he was a great sinner is certain; but that he was greater than others I will not affirm, as there is but too much reason to believe, that there are thousands in the world, as wicked as he, who, if boundless mercy prevents not, will meet with the same condemnation with him.
This man, whose fate you so much deplore, was named Contumacio, a person ever addicted to rebel. Jion: when young, he had the advantage of a religious education, which was no small aggravation of his future sins, as moral instructions were thereby early impressed on his mind. From hence he was constrained, however reluctant, to have some sense of what is in itself either morally good, or morally evil, and was often subjected to the sting of an uneasy conscience, especially after any gross out-breaking in sin: those pangs of mind extorted from him many promises and strong resolutions of amendinent, and oftentimes drove him to his knees in the closet, as well as to an attendance on public worship frequently on the sabbath-day. .
You will not think it strange, I suppose, if I tell you, that by his attendance on the word preached, together with his converse with religious people, he at. tained a good degree of speculative knowledge both of the law and gospel. This made him look on himself as a converted person, notwithstanding he possessed not one desire after the heart.cleansing power of religion; but, amidst all his pretensions, allowed himself in secret sin, and pretty often his sins were obvious enough to beholders. As his religion was far from uniform, at some seasons neglecting the word preached, he associated himself with those whom he called good companions, and enjoyed the pleasures which flow from drinking and gaming; and so long as conscience was mild, he laughed at the weakness and narrow spiritedness of those who could not relish the pleasure which he enjoyed in his indulg. ed liberties.
Thus it was with poor Contumacio, for the most part, when health and prosperity stretched their easy wings over his dwelling; for he seldom dealt in religion but in cases of adversity, which, though not often he was sometimes visited with, as you shall hear. .
It was the Lord's pleasure to visit him on a certain
time with a violent fit of sickness, attended with many symptoms of imminent danger, insomuch that he thought himself on the very brink of eternity. The dreadful apprehensions of approaching Death impressed his mind with much sorrow for sin, and gave birth to some hopes, especially with the less intelligent of the godly, that the work might be real and saving, and that his affliction might prove a sanctified means of his conversion. But, alas! my friend, all their hopes were blasted ere they well began to blossom: for as his disease abated of its violence, his convictions abated proportionably, till quite recovered from his bodily complaint, and then he was likewise retieved from the fever in his conscience..
There is an old saying, " Afflictions never fail to make a man either better or worse,” exactly verified in this unhappy person; for he increased daily in wickedness to that degree, that he laughed at every thing sacred; for one warning after another being disregarded, it pleased the Lord at last to leave him to work iniquity with greediness. Thus it was that perverse Contumacio was hurried forward by his carnal acquaintance, and his own vicious inclinations, from one sin to another, till he hath brought himself to what you have now beheld. ...in
This awful account of the unhappy Contumacia greatly affected me, and as I was deeply musing on what I had heard and seen, my, venerable guide thus addressed me; “Come, now let us take a view of the friends of the deceased.”. And now my attention was wholly engrossed with what passed amongst them, the most of whom were bathed in tears.
God rest his soul, says one, he was as good a naturęd man as ever lived. Aye, that he was, says a second, and as good a husband as any in the world, and minded that that was good too; though to be sure, poor man, he was not without his failings, but the best have their failings as well as he. Very true, says a third : God help us, we are frail creatures. poor man, it is well for him that he has got safe out of this troublesome world: it is better for them that
is sold live husban
are dead, than for us that are alive: to be sure, he is the happiest of us all. Thus they reasoned, and occasionally threw in consultations in regard to the or. der of the funeral.
I turned to my guide with amazement on my countenance, and stared him full in the face, on which he stopped me short before I had time to speak, and thus it was that he addressed me.
These people have no notion at all, of sin being punished after death; but whatever course of life a person has led whilst here on earth, they take his admission into heaven where he dies as certain. Hell might never have been made as a place of punishment, for any notion which they have of it. If you, or any other person, were to tell these people, that their departed friend had already taken up his adode in those dismal, unfathomable depths, where the worm of conscience dieth not, and where the fire of unspeakable torment cannot be quenched, they would look on you as an uncharitable, hard-hearted wretch, unfit for the society of mankind. After you have heard and seen, you will no doubt think it strange, that the minister who shall perform the funeral rites, should commit the body of this man under the name and character of brother, to the dust, in a sure and certain hope of a blessed resurrection with the just, notwithstanding he is for ever separated from them: and yet I can tell you, that such are the ecclesiastical estaBlishments of some nations, that was not the minister thus to bury him, it might cost him no less than degradation from his sacred office.*
, * I have often thought it a very great hardship upon conscientious ministers of the church of England, that by the office for burying of the dead, they are tied to use the very same forni over the greatest of saints and the vilest of sinners, which inust be an heavy burden to an honest intelligent mind. The form is admirably adapted to the burial of a saint, but in the highest degree preposterously false and absurd when used in the interment of a wicked man, who dies impenitent and in his sins.
ó For as much as it hath pleased Almighty God of his great
But, my benevolent friend, may it please you to inform me, whether any reason may be assigned, why this man, although wicked, should be so troubled at his death? for I have somewhere read, that the wicked have no bands in their death, and are not troubled as other men.. To which he replied, Yes, young man, you have so read, if you have read your Bible; but you must know, that poor Contumacio was thoroughly awakened to a sense of his wrath on account of his sins, and they appeared to him worse than so many dreary ghosts, or hideous spectres, which made him, as you saw, so terribly alarmed, when the invincible skeleton approached, and presented the point of his envenomed shaft. A world, ten thousand worlds would he have given, could he for them have been told how to evade the fatal thrust. But the stroke, not to be evaded, he was obliged to sustain; but oh! may you never know such a latter end!
His great disorder of mind was partly owing to his being possessed of a larger degree of moral know
mercy to take unto himself the soul of our dear brotherhere de. parted.”—This is true of the departed saint; but with what propriety can it be said of a wicked man that he is a brother to the faithful? Is the death of such a man in mercy, great mercy? Hath God indeed taken the soul of the wicked sinner to himself, instead of denouncing upon him the sentence exhibited in the word, Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire?” Is this a taking of the soul to himself in great mercy, as expressed in the rival?
* We therefore commit his body to the ground—in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ."
How can this hope of resurrection to eternal life be sure and certain, seeing the wicked shall certainly be raised to everlasting punishment, and shall be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God? It would be well if some expedient was found for easing the minds of the conscientious part of the clergy, either by accommodating the rites to the death of of a sinner as well as that of a saint, or leaving the minister at liberty to use or not use this form, as his discretion might dictate, from his knowledge of the party deceased.