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of the fatherless; and though he would grieve at the thought of leaving them alone in the world, he feels that he can commit them into the hands of a loving and a faithful God. And then, there is the prospect of re-union. He knows that if they participate in his faith, they will follow him to his reward, and he leaves them in the hope that they shall meet again.
It is when these circumstances are combined; when there is an enlightened faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; when there are clear and scriptural views of the discoveries of the gospel, and a firm persuasion of their truth ; when the soul is sustained by special manifestations of divine mercy; and when the departing Christian can commit those to whom he bids farewell into the hands of his father and theirs : it is then that the bitterness of death may be said to be past. The gospel has sustained and comforted the spirits of unnumbered myriads, as they have contended with the last enemy, and it has sustained and comforted them, as nothing could do so besides. It has done this for men of every variety of character, at every stage of life, and in every peculiarity of circumstances. It has been well said, that the gospel “never yet has had a dying penitent,” I mean, any one in the hour of dissolution, repenting of having trusted to it. I ask for an instance of any individual, in perfect possession of his mental powers, unaffected by any morbid hallucinations, and in the full prospect of death, expressing regret for the folly, or repentance for the sin, of having believed and followed Christ; disowning the foundation on which he had rested through life, as now seen in the searching light of its closing hour, to be false and unstable. Infidelity, and every system of human framing, have had their dying penitents by thousands. How comes it that the gospel has had none ? To me it appears as the seal of the God of heaven to his own truth; evincing its divine adaptation to all our nature's corisciousnesses, and to all our nature's exigencies, and peculiarly in the hour of that nature's extremity.
It proves itself, in this unvarying experience, to have proceeded from Him who - knoweth what is in man!”
Perhaps it would be scarcely right to say, that in any case the bitterness of death is so completely overcome, that not a trace of it remains. At all events, the cases in which it is so are comparatively few. To many, it is a struggle to the end. Though the “last enemy,” death is still an enemy. Just as when some nauseous draught was mingled with what was sweet, in order to render it less unpalatable, the most that could be said was, that the sweetness predominated; so in the experience of such persons, all that can be said is, that the joys
There are very
and consolations rise superior to the fears by which the soul is still visited. But even in the case of the most timid and doubting, when God's purposes are all accomplished, and the perfected spirit of the believer is re-united with his body, then risen and glorified, with what exultant joy will he exclaim, without the slightest thought of reserve, "The bitterness of death is all past, and death is swallowed up in victory!
few who do not love to hear and read of the manner in which death has been overcome by the Redeemer. The emotions with which that triumph is regarded, are akin to those with which men hail the downfall of some relentless and cruel despot, who has been hurled from his throne, and crushed in the dust. It is possible, beloved reader, that you
appropriated that triumph to yourself, and have imagined yourself pressing the bed of death, and exclaiming, as you rise superior to feebleness, and pain, and fear, “death, where is thy sting ! O grave, where is thy victory !” We trust that the picture will be realised, and that as weeping friends turn away from your death-bed, it will be with the aspiration, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” But suffer us to ask, on what ground you cherish the hope of such a death-bed ? Is it because you have already believed in Christ, or, because you only intend to do so ?If it be only because it is your purpose to believe, be assured, that everything which relates to your prospects is most dark and portentous till that purpose is accomplished, and be entreated to fulfil that purpose at once. We have spoken of a death-bed. You may have no death-bed. It is within the range of possibility that you may be smitten whilst engaged in the business of life — at the social board as you pass along the street-or in the swift railway train, which, crowded with its multitudes, is in an unlooked for moment dashed to shivers. Or, if a death-bed be permitted, there may be no opportunity of preparation. As in the case of the lamented nobleman, of whom we spoke in the commencement, there might elapse only a few hours—and those spent in racking agony-between
last sickness and your death. Believe in the Saviour now, and then it will matter little how or when you die, for death will be to you but the messenger who calls
you everlasting home in heaven.
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON; AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH.
J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close, London.
THE SOLDIER'S VICTORY.
The following beautiful narrative of a truly victorious soldier, borne out of the field of battle mortally wounded, was in substance presented years ago to a large christian audience, in a neighbouring kingdom, by an eminent servant of God now in a better world as an illustration of the infinite importance of circulating the precious treasure of the Word of God in the army and navy. In its essential characteristics, however, the narrative is far from being singular. Many similar illustrations have been recorded of both christian officers and soldiers rising triumphantly to glory; and ere they departed hence, joyfully declaring their victory over the last enemy, through faith in the blood of the Redeemer.
The horrors of the battle field cannot be told. Its dread scenes can scarcely be imagined by any one who has never witnessed them. Who but those who have heard its thunder, and felt its shock, can estimate, in some degree, the fearful amount of mental and physical suffering which suddenly accumulates on the mortally wounded soldier, left on the field, far from friends,—from human sympathy,—from help? And yet these very appalling circumstances, like the dark background of a picture, have tended not unfrequently to reveal the grand superiorlty of the Christian to the man of the world in the prospect of eternity! How often have they served to illustrate the glory of the Gospel, which enables the true believer to triumph over suffering and death, even under their most dreadful forms!
Surely, then, at this eventful period, when so many of our countrymen are rapidly entering the arena of war, the hearts of all Christians ought to rise to God on their behalf; that by the blessing of His Spirit on the Holy Scriptures, with which they have been so generously provided, they may obtain the victory over death and the grave, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The battle to which this brief narrative relates, was fought on the continent of Europe, some considerable time ago. Amongst our troops which took part in that action there were not a few christian soldiers, who, while boldly following their respective leaders into the battle field, realized a far nearer relation to their Heavenly Leader and Commander, Jesus Christ. And the chosen Captain of their Salvation stood by them to the last, and caused them to triumph even in the immediate prospect of death and eternity. Soon after the battle commenced, one of these soldiers received a deadly wound. He was lifted up by several of his comrades, and carried out of the field to obtain assistance. He felt, however, that his end was come, and only requested that they would leave him alone on the roadside to die. They did so ; and returned at once into the field of action. Not long after he was thus left alone, an officer came riding past in haste, to join the battle. Perceiving the dying soldier on the ground, a feeling of humanity prompted him to dismount from his horse and offer the wounded man a momentary help. Approaching, he exclaimed, “ Can I do anything for you?” Nothing, sir." “ Can I not fetch you a little water ?” “I am dying," was the emphatic reply. “Is there, then, nothing I can do ?” rejoined the benevolent officer ; “Could I not take a message to your wife and children ?” • There is something,” answered the soldier, “you can do. If you will open my knapsack, and take out my Bible, and read me a verse at the end of the 14th chapter of the gospel by John, beginning with Peace,'--I will thank you." The officer did it promptly; found the text, and read these soul inspiring words of the dying Redeemer,- -"PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU, MY PEACE I GIVE UNTO YOU: NOT AS THE WORLD GIVETH, GIVE I UNTO YOU.
YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED, NEITHER LET IT BE AFRAID." “ Thank you, sir;" earnestly said the soldier, his countenance lighted up with joy, “ I have that
peace; I am going to that Saviour; I want no more." The officer was deeply moved, -replaced the Bible, mounted his horse, and rode into the battle field. Not long after, he also received a wound, and falling from his horse, was carried out of the field to the nearest house or tent. The road whither he was carried out was the same by which he had entered, and where the now dead soldier, with whom he had so benevolently spoken, was lying. The sight of him at once recalled the conversation so lately held at that spot; and he was overheard by those who bore him along on their shoulders mournfully speak
ing within himself, “Oh, I am dying as you were ; but I have no peace to speak of,—no Saviour to receive my soul.” He was carried to the appointed place to obtain help; but all in vain; his wound was found to have been mortal. His strength to speak could not have remained long; but during that brief remaining interval he detailed to those who attended him,what had much impressed him,—the remarkable interview just narrated. Who can tell but that the dying soldier's victory over death may have been mercifully ordered by Him who is “wonderful in counsel,” to lead that officer's mind to the Redeemer—that in his awful circumstances he might obtain, through infinite grace, forgiveness of his sins, even at the eleventh hour, like the dying one crucified with Christ, and exclaim, ere he entered into eternity, “ Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victORY, through our Lord Jesus Christ ?”
“ God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform ;
And rides upon the storm.”
The dying soldier (it will at once be seen) had not the battle to fight—the victory to obtain, when he came to the last day of his life. No. He had it before; and at death proclaimed, to the glory of his conquering Redeemer, his eternal triumph! He had it in perfect health. That triumph was his, the moment he believed in his Saviour's love in dying for his sins; even the instant he thus most willingly enlisted under his banner, no longer, through Divine grace, to serve sin and Satan; no longer to live to please himself, but only to love and obey his glorious Commander. From that hour of enlistment it was his blood-bought right to exclaim, “O DEATH! WHERE IS THY STING ? O GRAVE! WHERE IS THY VICTORY ?” And is it not the high privilege of every hearer of the glorious Gospel thus to obtain the victory over sin,-Satan, death, and the grave ? Why, then, is it that so many professing Christians are," through fear of death, all their life subject to bondage ?" Why, let it be demanded, is this great victory so seldom proclaimed with joy from the deathbed ?
The answer is obvious; because it is so seldom enjoyed by the vigorous and the strong,--so seldom sought, through Christ, in time of health. In place of obtaining the victory over death now, by hastening at once to the Redeemer, that through his atoning blood sin may be freely pardoned, and thus death deprived of its fatal sting,—too many practically banish the remembrance of that enemy from their minds,