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ed mercy in the last extremity, and may not criminals obtain it still ? Are we to limit the mercy and power of God, or is it displeasing to us that atrocious criminals should be made monuments of that mercy and that power ? Are we to treat cases represented as such with derision, that we may have an opportunity of aiming a stab at Orthodoxy through their sides? Who can say in how many instances divine mercy may have employed the certain prospect of death, and the disgrace and terrors of a public execution, to break the heart of the criminal from sin to repentance? That he may obtain repentance and remission of sins is certain; and the judgment that we are to form respecting the reality of his conversion, is to be determined by evidence. The question is a question of fact; and where we see credible evidence of even the most atrocious offender being wasbed, and justified, and sanctified, instead of being offended, let us be glad at such a manifestation of grace, and thankfully give glory to God. Are we not all sinners: and though ihere are distinctions in guilt, do we not all need mercy? In the sight of men, some are virtuous and others vicious; some are fair in their moral character, others are atrociously criminal; but let us recollect, that as we have all sinned, we must, if saved, be saved all in the one and only way, by the washing of atoning blood, and by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. How much of the heart and spirit of the Pharisee does it exhibit, to treat with scorn the conversion of even great criminals! Christ was obliged to vindicate his conduct in receiving sinners, against the Pharisees of old. Memorable is the parable which he addressed to Simon the Pharisee, when blamed by him for receiving the woman who had been a sinner. A certain creditor 'had two debtors; the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty: and when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.”
Let us proceed to select some instances in which a holy life and happy death meet together, and mutually illustrate and enforce each other.
The example of the Rev. James Hervey is too forcible to be omitted here. The death of that eminent Christian and Minister of Christ was triumphant and glorious.
Afflicted with a gradual decline of health, he thus expressed himself in a letter to friend, " My grand consolation is to meditate on Christ, and I am hourly repeating those heart-reriving lines of Young :
“ This, only this, subdues the fear of death.
And what is this? Survey the wondrous cure,
About two hours before he expired, he exhorted Dr. Stonehouse, his physician, with great earnestness and affection not to neglect, amidst the multiplicity of his worldly engagements, the one thing needful. Perceiving the pain with which he spoke and the pangs of death approaching, the Doctor entreated him to
himself. No," said he, “ Doctor, no; you tell me I have but a few minutes to live: Oh! let me spend them in adoring our great Redeemer. Though my flesh and my heart fail me, yet God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever." He then expatiated on the words of the Apostle," AH things are yours,-life or death, things present or things to come,—all are yours, and ye are Christ's.”
“ Here,” said he, “is the treasure of the Christian,-death is reckoned in his inventory, and a noble treasure it is. How thank. ful am I for death. It is the passage to the Lord and giver of eternal life. These afflictions are but for a moment, and then comes an eternal weight of glory. Oh! welcome, welcome death ! Thou mayest well be reckoned among the treasures of the Christian. To live is Christ, but to die is gain.” As the Doctor was taking his leave, Mr. Hervey expressed great gratitude for his visits. He paused a little, and then with much serenity and sweetness of countenance, though the pangs of death were evidently on him, repeated the words of good old Simeon, “Lord, now lettest thoa thy servant depart in peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.' Here Doctor, is my cordial : what are cordials to the dying, compared to the salvation of Christ! This, this supports me.” Some of his last expressions were, “The conflict is over!” “ Precious salvation !"
Few men have done more to propagate and to exemplify the religion of Christ, by holiness, by suffering, by preach
ing, and by authorship, than the distinguished Richard Baxter. ; The manner of his death was, much peace in the midst of much bodily pain. After a life worn out with trouble, disease, persecution, and labour, his last hours were spent in preparing himself and those who were about him, to appear before God. To his friends he said, "you came hither to learn to die; I can assure you, that your whole life, be it ever so long, is little enough to prepare for death. Have a care of this vain deceitful world, and the lusts of the flesh. Be sure you choose God for your portion, heaven for your home, God's glory. for your end, and his word for your rule, and then you need never fear but you shall meet with comfort.” Never was a penitent sioner more humble in debasing himself; never was a sincere believer more calm and comfortable. Many times he prayed, 'God be merciful to me a sinner,' and blessed God that this was left on record as an effectual prayer. He said, "God may justly condemn me for the best duty I ever did; all my hopes are froin the free mercy of God in Christ.” After a slumber he said, “I shall soon rest from my labour.”. A minister present observed, ' And your works sball follo:v you ! Baxter replied, “No works,” obviously meaning no works as the ground or plea of acceptance. When a friend comforted him with the thought of the good many had re. ceived from his preaching and writings, he said, “ I was but a pen in God's hand, and what praise is due to a pen?" "His patience was great. When extremity of pain constrained him to pray for release by death, he wouldl check himself, saying, “ It is not fit for me 10 prescribe:. when thou wilt, what thou wilt, and how thou wilt.” Being asked how it was with the inward man, he replied, " I bless God, I have a well grounded assurance of my eternal happiness, and great peace and comfort within." It was bis trouble that he could not triumphantly express himself on account of his extreme pain, observing that “ flesh must perish, and we must feel the perishing of it.” To a friend who visited him the day before he died, he said, “I have pain; there is no arguing against sense; but I have peace, I have peace.” During his sickness, when asked how he did, he was accustomed to say, “almost well.” Those who have written accounts of his death, declare that his joy was greatest, when in his apprehension death was nearest.
The close of Dr. Doddridge's life was also bighly comfortable. He had long been in a declining state : but as the outward man decayed, the inward man was renewed day by day. In a letter to a friend, he thus expressed his feelings, “ It is a blessed thing to live above the fear of death, and I praise God, that I fear it not. I am not suffered once to lose my hope; I am full of confidence : and this is my confdence, there is a hope set before me; I have fled; I still fiy for refuge to that hope. In him I trust, in him I have strong consolation. I have no doubt of my veing a child of God, and that life, and death, and all my present exercises are directed by my heavenly Father.”" Prior to his death, he uttered many devout sentiments, declaring that, "the Lord was his God, and that he had a cheerful, well grounded hope, ihrough the Redeemer, of being received to his everlasting mercy."
Toplady experienced abundant consolations during his last sickness. A few days before his death, he said to a friend, "O, my dear sir, it is impossible to describe how good God is to me. This afternoon, I have enjoyed such a season, such sweet communion with God, and such delightful manifestations of his presence and love to my soal, that it is impossible for words to express them. I have had peace and joy unutterable." To another friend, a day or two before his death, he said, “I cannot tell you the comforts I feel in my soul. The consolations of God to such an unwortby wretch are so abundant, that he leaves me nothing to pray for but a continuance of them. I enjoy a heaven already in my soul.”— At another time he said, “O how this soul longs to be gone! Like a bird imprisoned in a cage, it longs to take its flight. I long to te absent from the body, and to be with my Lord for ever.” Near his end, waking from a slumber, he exclaimed, “O! what delights! who can fathom the joys of the third hea. ven.” A little before his departure, he said, “ The sky is clear; there is no cloud ; tome, Lord Jesus, come quickly.”
John Wesley, also, displayed much of the power and triumph of faith. Some of his dying expressions were
“I the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me.” “There is no way into the holiest of all but by the blood of Jesus."
“I'll praise my Maker while I've breath."
Ebenezer Erskine, too, was eminently honoured and happy in his death. His conversation during his last illness was equally cheerful and edifying. “Many blasts I have endured through life,” he was heard to say ;“ but I had this comfort under them,-a good God, a good conscience, a good cause.” When one of his elders thus accosted him, “Sir, you have given us many good advices; what are you now doing with your own soul?” “I am just doing with it,” he replied, “ what I did forty years ago; I am resting on that word, 'I am the Lord thy God.'” Another friend, surprised at his cheerfulness,
Sir, are you not afraid of your sins ?” “Indeed no,” was his answer; "ever since I knew Christ, I have never thought highly of my frames and duties, nor am I slavishly afraid of my sins." To several friends, he expressed his assurance of future bliss in these memorable words, “O Sirs, my body is now become a very disagreeble habitation for my soul; but when my soul goes out of my body, it will as naturally fly into the bosom of Jesus, as a stone will fall to the centre-as a bird will fly to its beloved nest.”—To bis children he said, “Though I die, tlie Lord liveth : since I came to this bed, I have known more of God than through all iny
lise.” The death of the excellent Bishop Bedell was highly peaceful. His dying address to his family is too long to transcribe. Some of his expressions were, “ I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God, through the all-sufficient merits of Jesus Christ, who ever liveth to make intercession for me, and hath washed me from my sins in his own blood.” After he had blessed his children and those about him, he said, "I have fought a good fight; I have finished the course of my ministry and my life together; I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I hare committed to him against that day.”--A Roman Catholic Priest, who followed Bedell's remains to the grave, bore this striking testimony to his worth, saying, “sit anima mea, cum Bedello ;"— let my soul be with Bedell.
Samuel Rutherford was one of the lights and worthies of the Scottish Church. His latter end was full of peace and joy. When his end drew near, he often broke out into a kind of rapture, extolling and commending the Lord Jesus. Some days before his death, he said, "I shall shine,- I shall see him as he is,- I shall see him reign,