Page images
PDF
EPUB

This is a noble testimony, both in life and in death, from this renowned Christian philosopher. Many hundreds of a similar nature might be laid before the reader, besides those we have already selected. And I confess, there is no kind of reading, that is so edifying to me, as the final scenes of those persons, who have been eminent in their day, either for their virtues or their vices. A death-bed is usually a detector of the heart. And to see a fellow-mortal in the ruins of nature, glorying over the King of Terrors, in all his most horrible forms, is to me by far the grandest spectacle that can be exhibited upon earth. - It is, as SENECA observes of Cato, a sight worthy of God to look down upon *. . What are all the triumphs of kings and conquerors, when compared with the triumphs of abundance of the children of the Most High in all ages? The Bible contains

rich compendium of these religious Worthies t. The Book

a

ISAAC NEWTON and Dr. HARTLEY, the general spread of Infi, delity, thus expresses himself concerning the truth of the Gospel : " If God has not spoken and acted through CHRIST, then there never has been a God who hath acted and spoken. If Christ is the work of chance, then man and the wbole world is the work of chance also. If CHRIST did not want the assistance of a God to the performance of his wonderful deeds, nature also can perform ber works without the interference of a God."

See Secret Journal of a Self Observer, vol. 2, page 338. Conipare with the above the death-bed scene of GARZO, the great grand-father of PBTRARCH, who was so celebrated for his probity and good sense that he was frequently consulted by philosophers, and the learned of those times. “ After living to the age of 104, in innocence and good works, he died, as Plato did, on the day of his birth, and in the bed in which he was born. His death resembled a quiet sleep. He expired surrounded by his family, with out pain or uneasiness, while he was conversiug about God and virtue."

Vide Memoirs of PETRARCH, * Ecce spectaculum dignum, ad quod respiciat, intentus operi suo, DEUS! Ecce par Deo dignum, vir fortis cum mala fortuna como positus ! Non video, inquam, quid habeat in terris Jupiter pulchrius, si convertere animum velit, quam ut spectet CATONEM, jain! partibus non semel fractis, nihil ominus interruinas publicas erectum:

SEN. de Divin. Prov. # For the dying advice and last scene of the SAVIOUR of mankind, see JOHN xiv.-xix.chapters-for good old JACOB's, see Gen, xlviii. xlix. chapters--for Joseph's, Gen. I.-for Moses's, Deut. xxxü. xxxi. chapters-for JOSHU A's, Jos. xxiii. xxiv.- for David's, i Chron. xxvi. 8, 9; and 2 Sam. xxiii. 1-9. STEPHEN'S, Acts vii.--and Paul's, Acts xx. and 2 Tim. iv. 6-8.

of Martyrs too records a noble army of valiant souls, who went through fire and water, through racks and tortures, to their blood-bought reward. The late horrible transactions on the Continent have added an illustrious page to the records of religious rennwn*. And if the same diabolical spirit should pervade this happy country, I doubt not but there is a goodly company among us, who, through the power of grace divine, will set at nought, aud bid detiance to, all the threats, guillotines, and etigines of the most virulent Psudo-Philosopherst in the kingdom. So far as I myself am concerned, whether it shall please the gracious Rules of the world to call me hence loy a storm of persecution, by the sword of the enemy, by the enmily of secret adversaries, or in the natural course of Providence, 1, above all things upon earth, desire to quit this mortal scene in a fiery chariot of divine love, and heavenly rapture. It is said that the celebrated SCALIGER was so delighted with that famous stanza of STERNHOLD and HOPKINS in the 18th Psalm:

« On Cherubs and on Cherubims

Fully royally he rode;
And on the wings of mighty winds

Came flying all abroad :" that he used to profess, he had rather have been the author of it, than to have enjoyed the kingdom of Arragon.

Be this as it may, I have seen so many lukewarm Christians quit the world in such a doubting, timorous, uncomfortable, miserable manner, that I solemnly declare I had rather, if it please God, take my leave of this earthly tabernacle, with my fáith, hope, love, peace, and joy in full exercise, and go with all ну

sails unfurled into the haven of eternal rest, than be made emperor of the whole universe. I well know professions like

* Vide BARRUEL's History of the French Clergy.

# The character of Philosophers has been much the same in all ages. Cicero has described it as accurately as if he had lived in the present day. "Quotus enim quisque Philosophorum invenitur, qui sit ita moratus, ita animo ac vita constituus, ut ratio postulat ? Qui disciplinam suam non ostentationem scientiæ, sed legem vitæ putet? Qui obtemperet ipse sibi, et decretis suis <pareat ? Videre licet, alios tanta levitate et jactatione, uti his fuerit non didicisse melius; alios pecuniæ cupidos, gloriæ nonnullos, multos libidinuni servos, ut cum eorum vita mirabiliter pugnet oratio : quod quidem wpihi videtur esse turpissimurn."

Tusc. Disp. lib. 2.

these will subject me to the charge of intemperate zeal and enthusiasm, as is observed on a former page. Such charges, however, I most cordially despise, and hold the philosophic authors of them in as much pity and contempt, as they can entertain for the warm and zealous Christian. I want not to quit the stage of life in the spirit of BOLINBROKE, HUME, GIBBON, CH'ESTERFIELD), Godwin, and other such like characters. The feeling, sensible, confident, joyful approbation of HEAVEN, is above all estimation; and the praise of men of loose morals, or pharisaical professions, is of little consideration in my esteem.

I wish them wiser and better, and that they may see their error before it is too late. Several of those worthy persons, whose names we have here recorded, died bearing a noble testimony to evangelical truth. Their condition was enviable. To many such I myself have been a joyful witness in the course of my poor ministrations. But the death-bed scene, which above all others I have either read or seen, that seems to have had in it the largest share of divine communications*, is that of the Rev. JonN JANEWAY, fellow of king's College, in Cambridge, who died at the age of twenty-four, in June 1657.

If it should appear too rapturous ; consider, MY COUNTRYMEN, 'what your feelings would be, should news be brought that you had obtained a prize in the State Lottery of twenty or thirty thousand pounds; or that you were left heir to'an estate of inmense value, which you bad but little 'reason to expect. I, when the Israelites had passed the Red Sea in safety, they saw it right to sing a song of triumph för their deliverance, and to praise the LORD with timbrels and with dances: if when the same people were delivered from the Babylonish captivity, they went out with joy, and were led forth weith peace, the mountuins and the hilts breaking forth before them into singing, and all the trees of the field clapping their hands; if-then the tame mun leaped as a hart, the tongue of the dumb sung, and the ransoned of the LORD returned, and came to Sion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads, joy and gladness

[ocr errors]

* The serious reader will find the doctrine of the Holy SPIRIT'S influence on the mind ably defended against our modern Jukewarın professors of religion from the charge of enthusiasni, in Bishop PEARSON ôn the Creed, Art. 8; a work with which every Christian should be intimately acquainted, in these times of abounding licene tiousness both of principle and practice.

going before them, and sorrow and sighing fleeing away at their advance: if when King David brought the ark, a symbol of the Divine presence, unto Sion, he danced before it in all his might with shouting, and the sound of the trumpet, while the envious and malignant MICHAL severely. censured his pious bilarity: if, when the same royal Enthusiast* was only bawished from the tabernacle of God, he affectionately cried out As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O GOD: my soul is athirst for Gon, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?--My soul thirsteth for thee; my flesh longeth for thee ; imy soul followeth hard after thee; my soul gaspeth after thee as a thirsty land : and if, when this same enviable l'anatic came to die, he again cried out in the full assurance of faithWe hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; this is all my salvation, and ali my desiref: if, when, the lame beggar, who liad been healed by Peter and John, entered with them into the temple, he walked, and leaped, and praised God, the Scribes and Pharisees being all in arms against them: if, when PAUI and Silas had been scourged and imprisoned for the name of the LORD Jesus, they prayed in the dungeon at midnight and sang praises unto God, for the honour conferred upon them, and in believing views of the reward which awaited them: and if, when the Church of Rome is overturned, the whole triumphant host is represented as crying alond--Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! for the Lord God OMNIPOTENT reigneth!

If there has been, and would be, and ought to be, such ardent desire, and such' rapturous joy and triumph upon all these very inferior occasions ; shall not a man, who has loug been buffeted by the world, allured and seduced by the flesh, and vilely tempted .

* It is a common mistake to suppose that none but religious people are enthusiasts. Enthusiasm is found in every forn and species of human life. The orator and the poet, the hero and the politician, the intolerant advocate for toleration, and the projective defender of Christianity, may all be enthusiasts. See a fine account of different kinds of enthusiasts in ANDREW's Scripture Doctrine of Grace, page 93-97; a passage which every one should read and well consider, who is forward in dealing out the charge of enthusiasm against zealously religious people of all denoininations. ;

+ What must have been David's feelings when he composed the 96th, 145th, and five following psalips?

by the foul apostate Spirit ; and who, notwithstanding, has for a good season been living under a strong and vigorous sense of the knowledge of salvation by the remission of his sins, and a sweet experimental union and communion with God, the Father of spirits, through the infinitely perfect obedience and all-atoning death of his only begotten Son, by the communications of the eternal Spirit; shall not a man so situated, I say, rejoice in hope of the glory of God with exceeding great and triumphant joy *, when he is within sight of land, driving with wind and tide into the haven of rest, just upon the point of taking assured possession of an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away +?

" What heart of stone, but glows at thoughts like these?
Such contemplations mount us; and should mount
The mind still higher; nor ever glance on man,
Unraptur'd, uninflam'd."

If ever mortal lived the life of an angel upon earth, Mr. JANEWAY seems to have been the man. How far do the enjoyments even of lively Christians fall short of those lengths, and breadths, and heights, and depths of the love of Christ with which he was favoured? To evince this, I will present the reader with a short sketch of his dying scene, and leave him to judge, whether he ever saw or perused any account of an exit so far beyond the common run of Christians. And yet, by the grace of God, and a diligent use of the divinely appointed means, this, or something like this, might be the attainment of all.

Mr. JANEWAY was born in the year 1633, at Tylly in Hertfordshire. At about twelve years old, he had made a considerable proficiency in mathematic science, and in the study of astronomy, and other parts of useful literature. At seventeen he was admitted to King's College in Cambridge. At eighteen it

* Why may not a man, who makes it his main concern in life, to serve God and save his soul alive, expect peculiar manifestations of the divine favour? It is certain that the promises of Scripture to this purpose are exceedingly strong and numerous, and the examples not less so. I believe I speak considerably within compass when I say, that there are in the Bible upwards of a hundred of these special manifestations to the servants of God recorded.

# Dr. PRIESTLY considers these strong consolations, in the view of approaching dissolution, as enthusiasm, See his Obserrations on the increase of Infidelity, p. 27.

1

« PreviousContinue »