By S.B. Shaw
001 -- TRIUMPHANT DEATH OF IGNATIUS
Ignatius, one of the ancient fathers of the church, was born in Syria, and brought up under the care of the Apostle John. About the year 67, he became bishop of Antioch. In this important station he continued about 40 years, both an honor and a safeguard to the Christian religion; undaunted in the midst of very tempestuous times, and unmoved with the prospect of suffering a cruel death. He taught men to think little of the present life; to value and love the good things to come; and never to be deterred from a course of piety and virtue, by the fear of any temporal evils whatever; to oppose only meekness to anger, humility to boasting, and prayers to curses and reproaches.
This excellent man was selected by the emperor Trajan, as a subject whose sufferings might be proper to inspire terror and discouragement in the hearts of the Christians at Rome. He was condemned to die for his faith in Christ, and ordered to be thrown among wild beasts to be devoured by them. This cruel sentence, far from weakening his attachment to the great cause he had espoused, excited thankfulness of heart, that he had been counted worthy to suffer for the sake of religion. "I thank thee, O Lord," said he, "that thou hast condescended thus to honor me with thy love; and hast thought me worthy, with thy apostle Paul, to be bound in chains."
On his passage to Rome he wrote a letter to his fellow Christians there, to prepare them to acquiesce in his sufferings, and to assist him with their prayers. "Pray for me," said he, "that God would give me both inward and outward strength, that I may not only say, but do well; that I may not only be called a Christian, but be found one." Animated by the cheering prospect of the reward of his sufferings, he said: "Now, indeed, I begin to be a disciple; I weigh neither visible nor invisible things, in comparison with an interest in Jesus Christ." With the utmost Christian fortitude he met the wild beasts assigned for his destruction and triumphed in death. -- Power of Religion.
002 -- WONDERFUL CONVERSION OT MARY LONES
We were requested to visit a young woman, nearly gone with consumption, who resisted every effort that was made to bring her to Christ. We went, trusting in the Lord for help. She received us respectfully, but seemed quite careless about her soul. The Spirit of the Lord soon touched her heart, and she became distressed on account of her sins; at one time while praying with her she began to plead in real earnest for herself and continued in prayer until she could say, "I am the Lord's and He is mine." A sweet peace settled down on her soul and soon after she received the clear witness that her sins were forgiven. Although she was very weak and could hardly speak above a whisper, yet, when the Lord set the seal of Bis Spirit to the work wrought in her soul, her shouts of victory could be heard through the entire building.
She soon began to yearn for entire sanctification, and her soul was greatly drawn out in prayer for the blessing. At one time we read to her the fourth chapter of 1st John and encouraged her to look to be made perfect in love, to believe for it and expect it every moment until it was given. "Oh!" said she, "that is just what I need, and I am praying for it all the while" -- although she did not know the name of the blessing she was seeking. She had many conflicts with the powers of darkness before she obtained this victory. At length the all-cleansing touch was given. It was about five o'clock one Sabbath evening a few weeks before her death. Her soul had been much drawn out in prayer all day for purity of heart.
She said the Spirit fell on her and seemed to go through both soul and body. She had been confined to her bed and was so weak we thought she would never again stand on her feet; but when she received the blessing she not only had the use of her voice, but walked the floor back and forth, shouting aloud, "Glory to God." We were told that she had naturally a fiery disposition, but after this baptism she was all patience, resignation, love and praise. Her sufferings were very great toward the last, but not a murmur or complaint was ever heard.
Neither tongue nor pen can describe some of the scenes witnessed in that little room. From the time that she received the blessing of perfect love, until her death, her sky was unclouded, her conversation in heaven, and her experience, although a young convert, was that of a mature Christian. Her light on the things of God and the state of deceived professors of religion was wonderful. She seemed to have an unclouded view of her heavenly inheritance and longed to depart and be with Christ. On one occasion, when we were singing --
Filled with delight, my raptured soul Would here no longer stay, Though Jordan's waves around me roll, Fearless, I launch away -- she raised her hand in triumph and repeated the word, "fearless, fearless," while glory unspeakable beamed from her countenance. At times, when talking or singing of her heavenly home, she appeared more like an inhabitant of heaven than of earth. She was truly the most beautiful, angelic-looking being we ever saw. She died in triumph; was conscious to the last, and whispered, "I walk through the valley in peace;" then pointing to each one that stood around her bed, she raised her hand, as if to say, "Meet me in Heaven." She then folded her hands on her breast, looked up, smiled, and was gone.
Glory to God and the Lamb forever; another safely landed. -- Brands From The Burning.
003 -- THE AWFUL DEATH OF SIR FRANCIS NEWPORT
Sir Francis Newport was trained in early life to understand the great truths of the gospel; and while in early manhood it was hoped that he would become an ornament and a blessing to his family and the nation, the result was far otherwise. He fell into company that corrupted his principles and his morals. He became an avowed infidel, and a life of dissipation soon brought on a disease that was incurable. When he felt that he must die, he threw himself on the bed, and after a brief pause, he exclaimed as follows: "Whence this war in my heart? What argument is there now to assist me against matters of fact? Do I assert that there is no hell, while I feel one in my own bosom? Am I certain there is no after retribution, when I feel present judgment? Do I affirm my soul to be as mortal as my body, when this languishes, and that is vigorous as ever? O that any one would restore unto me that ancient gourd of piety and innocence! Wretch that I am, whither shall I flee from this breast? What will become of me?"
An infidel companion tried to dispel his thoughts, to whom he replied. "That there is a God, I know, because I continually feel the effects of His wrath; that there is a hell I am equally certain, having received an earnest of my inheritance there already in my breast; that there is a natural conscience I now feel with horror and amazement, being continually upbraided by it with my impieties, and all my iniquities, and all my sins brought to my remembrance. Why God has marked me out for an example of His vengeance, rather than you, or any one of my acquaintance, I presume is because I have been more religiously educated, and have done greater despite to the Spirit of grace. O that I was to lie upon the fire that never is quenched a thousand years, to purchase the favor of Gods and be reunited to Him again! But it is a fruitless wish. Millions of millions of years will bring me no nearer to the end of my torments than one poor hour. O, eternity, eternity! Who can discover the abyss of eternity? Who can paraphrase upon these words -- forever and ever?"
Lest his friends should think him insane, he said: "You imagine me melancholy, or distracted. I wish I were either; but it is part of my judgment that I am not. No; my apprehension of persons and things is more quick and vigorous than it was when I was in perfect health; and it is my curse, because I am thereby more sensible of the condition I am fallen into. Would you be informed why I am become a skeleton in three or four days? See now, then. I have despised my Maker, and denied my Redeemer. I have joined myself to the atheist and profane, and continued this course under many convictions, till my iniquity was ripe for vengeance, and the just judgment of God overtook me when my security was the greatest, and the checks of my conscience were the least."
As his mental distress and bodily disease were hurrying him into eternity, he was asked if he would have prayer offered in his behalf; he turned his face, and exclaimed, "Tigers and monsters! are ye also become devils to torment me? Would ye give me prospect of heaven to make my hell more intolerable?"
Soon after, his voice failing, and uttering a groan of inexpressible horror, he cried out, "OH, THE INSUFFERABLE PANGS OF HELL!" and died at once, dropping into the very hell of which God gave him such an awful earnest, to be a constant warning to multitudes of careless sinners. --
004 -- POLYCARP, THE SAINTED CHRISTIAN FATHER
Polycarp, an eminent Christian father, was born in the reign of Nero. Ignatius recommended the church of Antioch to the care and superintendence of this zealous father, who appears to have been unwearied in his endeavors to preserve the peace of the church, and to promote piety and virtue amongst men.
During the persecution which raged at Smyrna, in the year 167, the distinguished character of Polycarp attracted the attention of the enemies of Christianity. The general outcry was, "Let Polycarp be sought for." When he was taken before the proconsul, he was solicited to reproach Christ, and save his life: but with a holy indignation, he nobly replied: "Eighty and six years have I served Christ, who has never done me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?"
When he was brought to the stake, the executioner offered, as usual, to nail him to it; but he said, "Let me alone as I am: He who has given me strength to come to the fire, will also give me patience to abide in it, without being fastened with nails."
Part of his last prayer, at his death, was as follows: "O God, the Father of Thy beloved son, Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of Thyself; O God of angels and powers, of every creature, and of all the just who live in Thy presence; I thank Thee that Thou hast graciously vouchsafed, this day and this hour, to allot me a portion amongst the number of martyrs. O Lord, receive me; and make me a companion of saints in the resurrection, through the merits of our great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. I praise and adore Thee, through thy beloved Son, to whom, with Thee, and Thy Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, both now and forever. Amen." -- Power of Religion.
005 -- THE MARTYR PATRICK HAMILTON
On the first of March, 1528, some eight years before Tyndale was betrayed by a Romish spy, Archbishop Beaton condemned Patrick Hamilton to be burned because he advocated the doctrines of the Reformation and exposed the errors of popery.
The principal accusations were that he taught that it was proper for the poor people to read God's Word and that it was useless to offer masses for the souls of the dead. Hamilton admitted the truth of these charges, and boldly defended his doctrine. But his judges, Archbishop Beaton and the bishops and clergy associated with him in council, could not endure the truths presented by their prisoner, which indeed were greatly to their disadvantage; for a people before whom an open Bible is spread will soon test by it the lives and teachings of their pastors, and to abolish masses for the dead is to cut off a chief source of the revenues of Rome's priesthood. Hamilton therefore was quickly condemned, and in a few hours afterwards, to avoid any possibility of his rescue by influential friends, the stake was prepared before the gate of St. Salvador College.
When the martyr was brought to the stake, he removed his outer garments and gave them to his servant, with the words, "These will not profit me in the fire, but they will profit thee. Hereafter thou canst have no profit from me except the example of my death, which I pray thee keep in memory, for, though bitter to the flesh and fearful before man, it is the door of eternal life, which none will attain who denies Christ Jesus before this ungodly generation."
His agony was prolonged by a slow fire, so that his execution lasted some six hours; but, through it all, he manifested true heroism and unshaken faith in the truth of the doctrines which he preached. His last words were, "How long, O Lord, shall darkness brood over this realm? How long wilt thou suffer this tyranny of man? Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Thus, in the bloom of early manhood, died Scotland's first Reformation martyr, and his death was not in vain. A Romanist afterwards said, "The smoke of Patrick Hamilton infected all it blew upon." His mouth was closed, but the story of his death was repeated by a thousand tongues. It emboldened others to seek a martyr's crown, and stirred up many more to defend the truths for which he died, and to repudiate the hierarchy which found it necessary to defend itself by such means.
"Humanly speaking," says the author of "The Champions of the Reformation," to whom we are chiefly indebted for the facts of our sketch, "could there have been found a fitter apostle for ignorant, benighted Scotland than this eloquent, fervent, pious man? Endowed with all those gifts that sway the heads of the masses, a zealous, pious laborer in season and out of season, what Herculean labors might he not have accomplished! What signal triumphs might he not have achieved! So men may reason, but God judged otherwise. A short trial, a brief essay in the work he loved and longed for, was permitted to him, and then the goodly vessel, still in sight of land, was broken in pieces. " -- Heroes and Heroines
006 -- REV. E. PAYSON'S JOYFUL EXPERIENCES AND TRIUMPHANT DEATH
He was asked, by a friend, if he could see any particular reason for this dispensation. He replied, "No; but I am as well satisfied as if I could see ten thousand reasons."
In a letter dictated to his sister he writes: "Were I to adopt the figurative language of Bunyan, I might date this letter from the land of Beulah, of which I have been for some time such a happy inhabitant. The celestial city is full in view. Its glories beam upon me; its breezes fan me; its odors are wafted to me; its sounds strike upon my ears, and its spirit is breathed into my heart. Nothing separates me from it but the river of death, which now appears as an insignificant rill, which can be crossed at a single step, whenever God shall give permission. The Son of Righteousness has been gradually drawing nearer and nearer, appearing larger and brighter as He approached, and now fills the whole hemisphere, pouring forth a flood of glory, in which I seem to float like an insect in the beams of the sun, exulting, yet almost trembling, while I gaze on this excessive brightness, and wondering why God should deign thus to shine upon a sinful worm."
On being asked, "Do you feel reconciled?"
He replied, "O, that is too cold; I rejoice; I triumph; and this happiness will endure as long as God himself, for it consists in admiring and adoring Him. I can find no words to express my happiness. I seem to be swimming in a river of pleasure, which is carrying me to the great fountain. It seems as if all the bottles in heaven were opened, and all its fullness and happiness have come down into my heart. God has been depriving me of one blessing after another, but as each one has removed, He has come in and filled up its place. If God had told me sometime ago, that He was about to make me as happy as I could be in this world, and that He should begin by crippling me in all my limbs, and removing from me all my usual sources of enjoyment, I should have thought it a very strange mode of accomplishing His purposes, now, when I am a cripple, and not able to move, I am happier than I ever was in my life before, or ever expected to be.
"It has often been remarked, that people who have passed into the other world cannot come back to tell us what they have seen; but I am so near the eternal world, that I can almost see as clearly as if I were there; and I see enough to satisfy me of the truth of the doctrines I have preached. I do not know that I should feel at all surer had I been really there."
"Watchman, what of the night!" asked a gray-headed member of his church.
"I should think it was about noonday," replied the dying Payson.
The ruling passion being strong in death, he sent a request to his pulpit, that his people should repair to his sick-chamber. They did so in specified classes, a few at a time and received his dying message.
To the young men of his congregation, he said: "I felt desirous that you might see that the religion I have preached can support me in death. You know that I have many ties which bind me to earth; a family to which I am strongly attached, and a people whom I love almost as well; but the other world acts like a much stronger magnet, and draws my heart away from this."
"Death comes every night, and stands by my bedside in the form of terrible convulsions, every one of which threatens to separate the soul from the body. These grow worse and worse, till every bone is almost dislocated with pain. Yet, while my body is thus tortured, my soul is perfectly, perfectly happy and peaceful. I lie here and feel these convulsions extending higher and higher, but my soul is filled with joy unspeakable! I seem to swim in a flood of glory, which God pours down upon me. Is it a delusion that can fill the soul to overflowing with joy in such circumstances? If so, it is a delusion better than any reality. It is no delusion. I feel it is not. I enjoy this happiness now. And now, standing as I do, on the ridge that separates the two worlds -- feeling what intense happiness the soul is capable of sustaining, and judging of your capacities by my own, and believing that those capacities will be filled to the very brim with joy or wretchedness forever, my heart yearns over you, my children, that you may choose life, and not death. I long to present every one of you with a cup of happiness, and see you drink it."
"A young man," he continued, "just about to leave the world, exclaimed, 'The battle's fought, the battle's fought, but the victory is lost forever!' But I can say, The battle's fought -- and the victory is won -- the victory is won forever! I am going to bathe in the ocean of purity, and benevolence, and happiness, to all eternity. And now, my children, let me bless you, not with the blessing of a poor, feeble, dying man, but with the blessing of the infinite God." He then pronounced the apostolic benediction.
A friend said to him, "I presume it is no longer incredible to you, that martyrs should rejoice and praise God in the flames and on the rack?"
"No," said he; "I can easily believe it. I have suffered twenty times as much as I could in being burned at the stake, while my joy in God so abounded as to render my sufferings not only tolerable, but welcome."
At another time, he said: "God is literally now my all in all. While He is present with me, no event can in the least diminish my happiness; and were the whole world at my feet, trying to minister to my comfort, they could not add one drop to my cup."
To Mrs. Payson, who observed to him, "Your head feels hot and seems to be distended"; he replied: "It seems as if the soul disdained such a narrow prison, and was determined to break through with an angel's energy, and I trust with no small portion of an angel's feeling, until it mounts on high."
"It seems as if my soul had found a new pair of wings, and was so eager to try them, that in her fluttering, she would rend the fine network of the body in pieces."
THE CLOSING SCENE
On Sabbath, October 21, 1827, his last agony commenced, attended with that labored breathing and rattling in the throat which rendered articulation extremely difficult. His daughter was summoned from the Sabbath-school, and received his dying kiss and "God bless you, my daughter."
He smiled on a group of church members and exclaimed, with holy emphasis, "Peace, peace! victory!"
He smiled on his wife and children and said, in the language of dying Joseph, "I am going, but God will surely be with you!"
He rallied from the death conflict and said to his physician, "that although he had suffered the pangs of death, and got almost within the gates of Paradise, yet, if it was God's will that he should come back and suffer still more, he was resigned." He passed through a similar scene in the afternoon and again revived.
On Monday morning, his dying agonies returned in all their severity. For three hours every breath was a groan. On being asked if his sufferings were greater than on the preceding Sunday night, he answered, "incomparably greater." He said the greatest temporal blessing of which he could conceive would be one breath of air.
Mrs. Payson, fearing from the expression of suffering on his countenance that he was in mental distress, questioned him. He replied, "Faith and patience hold out." These were the last words of the dying Christian hero.
He gradually sunk away, till about the going down of the sun his chastened and purified spirit, all mantled with the glory of Christian triumph in life and death, ascended to share the everlasting glory of his Redeemer before the eternal throne. -- Fifty Years and Beyond.
007 -- THE AWFUL DEATH OF AN INFIDEL SON
"I will never be guilty of founding my hopes for the future upon such a compiled mess of trash as is contained in that book (the Bible), mother. Talk of that being the production of an Infinite mind; a boy ten years of age, if he was half-witted, could have told a straighter story, and made a better book. I believe it to be the greatest mess of lies ever imposed upon the public. I would rather go to hell (if there is such a place) than have the name of bowing to that impostor -- Jesus Christ -- and be dependent on his merits for salvation."
"Beware! Beware! my son, 'for God is not mocked,' although 'He beareth with the wicked long, yet he will not keep His anger forever.' And 'all manner of sin shall be forgiven men, except the sin against the Holy Ghost, which has no forgiveness.' And many are the examples, both in sacred and profane history, of men who have been smitten down in the midst of their sinning against that blessed Spirit."
"Very well, father, I'll risk all the cutting down that I shall get for cursing that book, and all the agonies connected therewith. Let it come, I'm not at all scared."
"O Father, lay not this sin to his charge, for he knows not what he does."
"Yes, I do know what I'm about, and what I say -- and mean it."
"John, do you mean to drive your mother raving distracted? Oh, my God, what have I done that this dreadful trial should come upon me in my old age?"
"Mother, if you don't want to hear me speak my sentiments, why do you always begin the subject? If you do not want to hear it, don't ever broach the subject again, for I shall never talk of that book, in any other way."
The above conversation took place between two fond parents and an only son, who was at home on a visit from college, and now was about to return. And the cause of this outburst was, the kind-hearted Christian parents had essayed to give him a few words of kind admonition, which, alas, proved to be the last. And the above were his last words which he spoke to them as he left the house.
How anxiously those fond parents looked after him as though something told them that something dreadful would happen. What scalding tears were those that coursed their way down these furrowed cheeks! Oh, that they might have been put in the bottle of mercy! Poor, wretched young man, it had been better for him had the avalanche from the mountain crushed him beneath its deadly weight ere those words escaped his lips. Little did he think that He who said, "Honor thy father and mother," and, "He that hardeneth his heart, and stiffeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy," was so soon going to call him to give an account for those words, so heart-rending to his aged parents, and so dreadful in the sight of a holy God. He had imbibed those dreadful principles from an infidel room-mate at college. Beware, young men, with whom you associate, lest you fall as did this unfortunate young man.
John B. left his home and hastened to the depot where he took the cars which were to bear him to M. where he was in a few months to finish his studies. The whistle blew, and away swept the cars "across the trembling plain." But alas, they had gone but a few miles, when the cars, coming round a curve in a deep cut, came suddenly upon an obstruction on the track, which threw the engine and two of the cars at once from the rails.
As fate would seem to have it, the wicked son (John B.) was that moment passing between them. He was thrown in an instant from the platform, his left arm being broken, and his skull fractured by the fall; and in an instant one of the wheels passed directly over both his legs near the body, breaking and mangling them in the most dreadful manner. Strange as it may seem, no one else was injured. The dreadful news soon reached his already grief-stricken parents; and ere long that beloved, yet ungrateful son, was borne back to them; not as he left, but lying upon a litter a poor, mangled, raving maniac.
Why these pious parents were called to pass through this dreadful trial, He "whose ways are in the deep and past finding out," only knows; except that by this sad example of His wrath many might be saved. Many skillful physicians were called, but the fiat of the Almighty had gone forth, and man could not recall it. When the news reached the college, his class-mates hastened to see him. When they came, nature was fast sinking, but the immortal part was becoming dreadfully alive. Oh! that heart-rending scene. His reason returning brought with it a dreadful sense of his situation. His first words were, and oh, may never mortal hear such a cry as that again upon the shores of time:
"Mother! I'm lost! lost! lost! damned! damned! damned forever!" and as his class-mates drew near to the bed, among whom was the one who had poisoned his mind with infidelity, with a dreadful effort he rose in the bed and cried, as he fixed his glaring eyes upon him: "J___, you have brought me to this, you have damned my soul! May the curses of the Almighty and the Lamb rest upon your soul forever."
Then like a hellish fiend, he gnashed his teeth, and tried to get hold of him that he might tear him in pieces. Then followed a scene from which the strongest fled with horror. But those poor parents had to hear and see it all, for he would not suffer them to be away a moment. He fell back upon his bed exhausted, crying, "O mother! mother, get me some water to quench this fire that is burning me to death"; then he tore his hair and rent his breast; the fire had already begun to burn, the smoke of which shall ascend up for ever and ever.
And then again he cried, "O mother, save me, the devils have come after me. O mother, take me in your arms, and don't let them have me." And as his mother drew near to him, he buried his face in that fond bosom which had nourished and cherished him, but, alas, could not now protect or shield from the storm of the Almighty's wrath, for he turned from her, and with an unearthly voice he shrieked, "Father! Mother! Father, save me; they come to drag my soul -- my soul to hell."
And with his eyes starting from their sockets, he fell back upon his bed a corpse. The spirit had fled -- not like that of Lazarus, borne on the wings of a convoy of angels, but dragged by fiends to meet a fearful doom. May his dreadful fall prove a warning to those who would unwittingly walk in the same path. -- Earnest Christian, September, 1867
008 -- "CHILDREN, IS THIS DEATH? HOW BEAUTIFUL! HOW BEAUTIFUL!"
A preacher in Oregon, Rev. J. T. Leise, writes us as follows: "I thought it might be to the glory of God to give you an account of my mother's death. She died July 28, 1888, in the township of Winnebago City, Faribault County, Minnesota. About six months before her death I left home to enter the work of the Lord. At that time, and also for years, mother had what we often call an up-and-down experience. About July 1st, of the same year she died, I got word to return home to see her die.
On my arrival I found mother very low, but having a strong faith in God. I said, 'Mother, you have a better experience than you have ever had.' 'Yes, Johnnie,' she said, 'about three months ago I got what I have longed for for years.' Mother's disease was of a dropsical character. With limbs swollen, she would suffer intensely; but her faith in Jesus never wavered. She would often speak of the glorious prospects in view.
The morning she died, about four o'clock, a sister and I were sitting by her bed fanning her, when she suddenly opened her eyes and said, 'Children, is this death? How beautiful; how beautiful.'
I said, 'Mother, you will soon be at rest. It won't be long before you shall have crossed over and are at home.' Mother never could sing to amount to anything, but on this occasion she sang as if inspired from Heaven,
O I long to be there
And His glories to share
And to lean on my Savior's breast.
About four hours after we were around her bed having family worship, when, without a struggle, she passed away to be forever with the Lord. Amen-
009 -- "MA, I CAN'T DIE TILL YOU PROMISE ME."
At the close of a series of meetings in Springfield, Mass., a mother handed me a little girl's picture wrapped in two one-dollar bills, at the same time relating the following touching incident:
Her only child, at the age of six years, gave her heart to the Savior, giving, as the pastor with whom I was laboring said, the clearest evidence of conversion.
At once she went to her mother and said, "Ma, I have given my heart to Jesus and He has received me; now, won't you give your heart to Him?" (The parents were both unconverted at the time.)
The mother replied, "I hope I shall some time, dear Mary."
The little girl said, "Do it now, ma," and urged the mother, with all her childlike earnestness, to give herself to the Savior then.
Finding she could not prevail in that way, she sought to secure a promise from her mother, feeling sure she would do what she promised; for her parents had made it a point never to make her a promise without carefully fulfilling it. So time after time she would say, "Promise me, me"; and the mother would reply, "I do not like to promise you, Mary, for fear I shall not fulfill."
This request was urged at times for nearly six years, and finally the little petitioner had to die to secure the promise.
Several times during her sickness the parents came to her bedside to see her die, saying to her, "You are dying now, dear Mary."
But she would say, "No, ma, I can't die till you promise me." Still her mother was unwilling to make the promise, lest it should not be kept. She intended to give her heart to Jesus sometime, but was unwilling to do it "now."
Mary grew worse, and finally had uttered her last word on earth: her mother was never again to hear that earnest entreaty, "Promise me, ma."
But the little one's spirit lingered, as if it were detained by the angel sent to lead the mother to Jesus, that the long-sought promise might be heard before it took its flight.
The weeping mother stood watching the countenance of the dying child, who seemed to say, by her look, "Ma, promise me, and let me go to Jesus."
There was a great struggle in her heart as she said to herself, "Why do I not promise this child? I mean to give my heart to Jesus; why not now? If I do not promise her now I never can."
The Spirit inclined her heart to yield. She roused her child and said, "Mary, I will give my heart to Jesus." This was the last bolt to be drawn; her heart was now open, and Jesus entered at once, and she felt the joy and peace of sins forgiven.
This, change was so marked, she felt constrained to tell the good news to her child, that she might bear it with her where she went to live with Jesus; so, calling her attention once more, she said, "Mary, I have give my heart to Jesus, and He is my Savior now."
For six years Mary had been praying to God and pleading with her mother for these words; and now, and they fell upon her ear, a peaceful smile lighted up her face, and, no longer able to speak, she raised her little, pale hand, and pointing upward, seemed to say, "Ma, we shall meet up there." Her life's work was done, and her spirit returned to Him who gave it.
The mother's heart was full of peace, though her loved one had gone. She now felt very anxious that her husband should have this blessing which she found in Christ.
The parents went into the room where the remains were resting, to look upon the face of her who slept so sweetly in death, when the mother said, 'Husband, I promised our little Mary that I would give my heart to Jesus, and He has received me. Now, won't you promise?"
The Holy Spirit was there. The strong man resisted for a while, then yielded his will, and taking the little cold hand in his, kneeled and said, "Jesus, I will try to seek Thee."
The child's remains were laid in the grave. The parents were found in the house of prayer -- the mother happy in Jesus, and the father soon having some evidence of love to Christ.
When I closed my labors in Springfield, Dr. Ide said to his congregation, "I hope you will all give Bro. Earle some token of your regard for his services before he leaves."
As this mother heard these words, she said she could, as it were, see her little Mary's hand pointing down from heaven, and heard her sweet voice saying, "Ma, give him my two one-dollars."
Those two one-dollars I have now, wrapped around the picture of that dear child, and wherever I go, little Mary will speak for the Savior.
Reader, is there not some loved one now pointing down from heaven and saying to you, "Give your heart to Jesus"? Are you loving some earthly object more than Jesus? God may sever that tie -- may take away your little Mary, or Willie, or some dear friend. Will you not come to Jesus, without such a warning? -- Bringing in Sheaves
010 -- THE CHILD MARTYR
The noted evangelist, E. P. Hammond, writes us from his home at Hartford, Conn., Aug. 11, 1898, and sends us the following reliable and very touching article for this work:
I have been surprised to notice how many children have died a martyr death rather than deny Jesus. I want to tell you about one of these young martyrs. In Antioch, where the disciples were first called Christians, a deacon from the church of Caesarea was called to bear cruel torture to force him to deny the Lord who bought him with His precious blood. While he was being tortured he still declared his faith, saying: "There is but one God and one mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus."
His body was almost torn in pieces. The cruel emperor, Galerius, seemed to enjoy looking upon him in his suffering. At length this martyr begged his tormentors to ask any Christian child whether it was better to worship one God, the maker of heaven and earth, and one Savior, who had died for us, and was able to bring us to God, or to worship the gods many and the lords many whom the Romans served. There stood near by a Roman mother who had brought with her a little boy, nine years of age, that he might witness the sufferings of this martyr from Caesarea. The question was asked the child. He quickly replied, "God is one and Christ is one with the Father."
The persecutor was filled with fresh rage and cried out, "O base and wicked Christian, that thou hast taught this child to answer thus."
Then turning to the boy, he said more mildly, "Child, tell me who taught thee thus to speak? Where did you learn this faith?"
The boy looked lovingly into his mother's face and said, "It was God that taught it to my mother, and she taught me that Jesus Christ loved little children, and so I learned to love Him for his first love for me."
"Let us see what the love of Christ can do for you," cried the cruel judge, and at a sign from him the officers who stood by with their rods, after the fashion of the Romans, quickly seized the boy and made ready to torture him.
"What can the love of Christ do for him now?" asked the judge, as the blood streamed from the tender flesh of the child.
"It helps him," answered the mother, "to bear what his master endured for him when he died for us on the cross."
Again they smote the child, and every blow seemed to torture the agonized mother as much as the child. As the blows, faster and heavier, were laid upon the bleeding boy, they asked, "What can the love of Christ do for him now?"
Tears fell from heathen eyes as that Roman mother replied, "It teaches him to forgive his tormentors."
The boy watched his mother's eyes and no doubt thought of the sufferings of his Lord and Savior, and when his tormentors asked if he would now serve the gods they served, he still answered, "I will not deny Christ. There is no other God but one, and Jesus Christ is the redeemer of the world. He loved me and died for me, and I love him with all my heart."
The poor child at last fainted between the repeated strokes, and they cast the torn and bleeding body into the mother's arms, saying, supposing that he was dead, "See what the love of Christ has done for your Christian boy now."
As the mother pressed him to her heart she answered, "That love would take him from the wrath of man to the peace of heaven, where God shall wipe away all tears!"
But the boy had not yet passed over the river. Opening his eyes, he said, "Mother, can I have a drop of water from our cool well upon my tongue?"
As he closed his eyes in death the mother said, "Already, dearest, thou hast tasted of the well that springeth up unto everlasting life. Farewell! Thy Savior calls for thee. Happy, happy martyr! for His sake may He grant thy mother grace to follow in thy bright path."
To the surprise of all, after they thought he bad closed his eyes and had breathed his last, he finally raised his eyes and looked to where the elder martyr was, and said in almost a whisper, "There is but one God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." And with these words upon his parched lips, he passed into God's presence, "where is fullness of joy, and to His right hand, where are pleasures forevermore."
Are you, my dear reader, a Christian? If not, you can become one now. That same Jesus who bled and died to save that little Roman boy, suffered on the cross for you, and He is ever ready to give you a new heart, so that you will love Him so much that you would be willing to die a death of suffering rather than deny Him.
011 -- THE SAD DEATH OF A LOST MAN
Near the town of K___, in Texas, there lived and prospered, a wealthy farmer, the son of a Methodist preacher, with whom the writer was intimately acquainted. He was highly respected in the community in which he lived. He was a kind-hearted and benevolent man; but, however, had one great fault -- he was very profane. He would utter the most horrible oaths without, seemingly, the least provocation. On several occasions, I remember having seen him under deep conviction for salvation, during revival meetings. On one occasion, during a camp-meeting, he was brought under powerful conviction. He afterwards said he was suddenly frightened, and felt as if he wanted to run away from the place.
Just one year from that time, another camp-meeting was held at the same place, and he was again brought under conviction, but refused to yield; after which he was suddenly taken ill, and died in three days. I was with him in his last moments. He seemed to be utterly forsaken of the Lord from the beginning of his sickness. The most powerful medicines had no effect on him whatever.
Just as the sun of a beautiful Sabbath morning rose in its splendor over the eastern hills, he died -- in horrible agony. All through the night previous to his death, he suffered untold physical and mental torture. He offered the physicians all his earthly possessions if they would save his life. He was stubborn till the very last; and would not acknowledge his fear of death until a few moments before he died; then, suddenly he began to look, then to stare, horribly surprised and frightened, into the vacancy before him; then exclaimed, as if he beheld the king of terrors in all of his merciless wrath, "My God!"
The indescribable expression of his countenance, at this juncture, together with the despairing tones in which he uttered these last words, made every heart quake. His wife screamed, and begged a brother to pray for him; but he was so terror-stricken that he rushed out of the room. The dying man continued to stare in dreadful astonishment, his mouth wide open, and his eyes protruding out of their sockets, till at last with an awful groan,
"Like a flood with rapid force,
Death bore the wretch away."
His little three-year-old son, the idol of his father's heart, was convulsed with grief. This little boy, then so innocent, grew up to be a wicked young man, and died a horrible death. Oh how sad! When we reflect that in hell there are millions of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, hopelessly lost, given over forever to the mad ravages of eternal, pitiless wrath, ever frightened by real ghosts, tortured by serpents and scorpions, gnawed by the worm that never dies; and when we reflect that this, the future state of the wicked, will never abate its fury but, according to the natural law of sin, degradation and wretchedness, will grow worse and more furious as the black ages of eternity roll up from darker realms, we turn for relief from the sad reverie to the Man of Sorrows, who tasted death for every man, then to the beautiful city. whose builder and maker is God, to the bliss of the glorified who will shine as the stars for ever and ever; then with renewed efforts we continue with gratitude to work out our own, and the salvation of others, with fear and trembling. -- The Ambassador
012 -- THE COURAGE AND TRIUMPHANT DEATH OF ST. LAURENCE THE MARTYR
Laurentius, usually called St. Laurence, was archdeacon under Sextus, and when that bishop was led out to execution, Laurence accompanied and comforted him. As they parted from each other for the last time, Sextus warned his faithful follower that his martyrdom would soon come after his own: that this prophecy was true is indicated by the tradition that has been handed down to us telling of his subsequent seizure and cruel death.
The Christian church of Rotor, even at this early period, had in its treasury considerable riches -- both in money, and in gold and silver vessels used at the services of the church. All these treasures were under the watchful eye of Laurence, the archdeacon. Besides maintaining its clergy, the church supported many poor widows and orphans; nearly fifteen hundred of these poor people, whose names Laurence kept upon his list, lived upon the charity of the church. Sums of money were also constantly needed to help struggling churches which had been newly established in distant parts of the world.
Macrianus, governor of Rome under the emperor Valerian, had heard of these riches, and longed to seize them; he therefore sent soldiers to arrest Laurence, who was soon taken and dragged before the governor. As soon as Macrianus' pitiless eyes rested upon the prisoner, he said harshly:
"I hear that you who call yourselves Christians possess treasures of gold and silver, and that your priests use golden vessels at your services. Is this true?"
Laurence answered: "The church, indeed, has great treasures."
"Then bring those treasures forth," said Macrianus. "Do not your sacred books tell you to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's? The emperor has need of those riches for the defense of the empire; therefore you must render them up."
After reflecting deeply for a few moments, Laurence replied: "In three days I will bring before you the greatest treasures of the church."
This answer satisfied the governor; so Laurence was set free, and Macrianus impatiently awaited the time when the expected stores of gold and silver should be placed before him.
On the appointed day Macrianus, attended by his officers, came to the place where the Christians usually assembled. They were calmly received by Laurence at the entrance and invited to pass into an inner room.
"Are the treasures collected?" was the first question of Macrianus.
"They are, my lord," replied Laurence. "Will you enter and view them?"
With these words he opened a door and displayed to the astounded gaze of the governor, the poor pensioners of the church, a chosen number -- a row of the lame, a row of the blind, orphans and widows, the helpless and the weak. Astonished by the sight, the governor turned fiercely upon Laurence, saying: "What mean you by this mockery? Where are the treasures of gold and silver you promised to deliver up?"
"These that you see before you," replied the undaunted Laurence, "are the true treasures of the church. In the widows and orphans you behold her gold and silver, her pearls and precious stones. These are her real riches. Make use of them by asking for their prayers; they will prove your best weapon against your foes."
Enraged and disappointed at not securing the hoped-for gold (which had been carried to a place of safety during the three days that had elapsed), the governor furiously commanded his guards to seize Laurence and take him to a dungeon. There, terrible to relate, a great fire was built upon the stone floor, and a huge gridiron placed upon it; then the martyr was stripped of his clothing and thrown upon this fiery bed, to slowly perish in the scorching heat.
The cruel tyrant gazed down upon this dreadful sight to gratify his hatred and revenge; but the martyr had strength and spirit to triumph over him even to the last. Not a murmur escaped him, but with his dying breath he prayed for the Christian church at Rome, and for the conversion of the entire empire to God; and so, lifting up his eyes to heaven, he gave up the ghost.
A Roman soldier, named Romanus, who looked on at the sufferings of St. Laurence, was so much affected by the martyr's courage and faith that he became a convert to Christianity. As soon as this was known the soldier was severely scourged, and afterward beheaded. -- Foxe's Book of Martyrs
013 -- TRIUMPHANT DEATH OF GEORGE EDWARD DRYER
This saint of God went to heaven from Readsburg, Wis., Feb. 1, 1896. His sister, Mrs. Evaline Dryer Green, sends us the following:
Dear readers, come with me for a little while as I look on memory's walls. See, there are many things written there! Here is one story, sweet and sacred, almost too sacred to relate; yet as with hushed voices we talk of this, our hearts shall melt and we shall feel that heaven is drawing nigher.
I remember my baby brother -- though I was a child of but four years when he came into our home. I well remember that little face as I saw it first. I remember the chubby brown hands when he was a wee boy, always in mischief then. I was a frail girl, and he soon outgrew me. Then those sweet years of home life-and later the glad home comings when I was away at school. On my return George was always the first to wave his hand and shout for joy -- perhaps toss his hat high in the air and give a certain "whoop" and three cheers that I loved to hear. We were right loyal friends, my brother and I. And then -- ah, its here I'd wish to draw the vail, and forget. We thought he would accomplish his ambitions -- so strong, so full of life! But we will only glance at those long months of suffering and hasten to the last. Nearly eighteen months of weariness from coughing, and there he lay, the picture of patient endurance, saying from his heart's depths, "Farewell, mortality -- Jesus is mine. Welcome, eternity -- Jesus is mine!"
Often he would call me near him and say, "Oh, sister, the Lord does so save me!"
To the doctor, the boys of his own age, to neighbors, and all who came, he testified how Jesus saved him, through and through.
The last hours were drawing near. One of the Lord's servants came and prayed. George prayed for father, mother, brothers and sisters. A little later in the evening a sweat, deathly cold, covered him. We thought he was going then -- the poor, weak body seemed all but gone, while the spirit grew even more bright. Ah, that picture! That high, marble-white brow, either cheek glowing with fever intense, great, expressive blue eyes, that peered earnestly, joyfully, all about him and upward. Those dear hands were lifted high, while he said, with heaven lighting his face, "Angels now are hovering round us."
(Even now I feel to say, as I did then, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?")
Again he came back to us -- to spend one more night of suffering on earth, and to work for God and eternity. We watched all night, while he praised God, often saying under his breath, between awful fits of coughing, "Precious Jesus!" Toward morning he asked a dear sister to sing "I Saw A Happy Pilgrim."
Finally the morning came; a dark, rainy morning in February. The gray light was just dawning when we all gathered about his bed. We repeated beautiful texts to him, and verses of hymns that he most loved, and encouraged him to the very river's brink. His last spoken words were, "Eva, come on this side." Then, peacefully he closed his eyes and grew so still.
"And with the morn, those angel faces smile, Which I have loved long since -- and lost a while."
014 -- "FIVE MINUTES MORE TO LIVE"
A young man stood before a large audience in the most fearful position a human being could be, placed on the scaffold! The noose had been adjusted around his neck. In a few moments more he would be in eternity. The sheriff took out his watch and said, "If you have anything to say, speak now; as you have but five minutes more to live." What awful words for a young man to hear, in full health and vigor!
Shall I tell you his message to the youth about him? He burst into tears and said with sobbing: "I have to die! I had only one little brother. He had beautiful blue eyes and flaxen hair. How I loved him! I got drunk -- the first time. I found my little brother gathering strawberries. I got angry with him, without cause; and killed him with a blow from a rake. I knew nothing about it till I awoke on the following day and found myself closely guarded. They told me that when my little brother was found, his hair was clotted with his blood and brains. Whisky had done it! It has ruined me! I have only one more word to say to the young people before I go to stand in the presence of my Judge. Never, Never, NEVER touch anything that can intoxicate!"
Whiskey did it! The last words of this doomed young man make our heart ache, and we cry out to God, "How long, how long shall our nation be crazed with rum? When, oh when, will the American people wake up?"
Oh that the professed people of God would vote as they pray. What about the licensed saloon that deals out this poison that sends millions reeling and crazed with drink to hell? What about the multitudes of innocent people who are killed by inches and sacrificed to the god of rum? We protect and license a man who deals out death and destruction, and hang a man who gets drunk and kills his neighbor. Who was most to blame -- this young man, or the saloon-keeper who made him crazy, or the government that gave the saloon-keeper license not only to make crazy but to ruin soul and body? God help us to decide this question in the light of the coming judgment. Amen.
015 -- BLACK DAYS AND WHITE ONES -- A RESCUE STORY
We are thankful to God that we have had the privilege of helping to launch the Rescue Home in Grand Rapids, Mich. We induced the Salvation Army to open a home in our city by furnishing the buildings free of rent the first year, and by helping in other ways. Capt. Duzau, the first in charge, led not only the subject of the sketch to God, but most of the other girls that passed through the home have been saved from a life of shame, and I am told by good authority that most all of the girls who enter the various rescue homes of the Army are saved. We quote the following from the War Cry:
Alice's life had always been a sad one -- at least, as far as she could remember. Perhaps the first three years of babyhood life had been as pleasant and happy as if she had been born in a more comfortable home But Alice couldn't be sure about this, and no one else could speak for her.
Certainly there was misery and unhappiness from one day on -- misery that lasted for nearly fifteen years of girlhood life. That was the day which came shortly after her third birthday, when Alice ceased to be a baby.
She couldn't remember much about it, but it seemed like a big, round, black spot, big enough to shut out all the sunlight from life. The day itself was dark and gloomy, but that wasn't the worst. Some strange men Alice had never seen before came to the little house -- and they were all dressed in black -- and they took away something in a long, black box -- and Alice never saw her mother again after that day. No wonder it seemed to the child -- the youngest one of the five thus suddenly left motherless -- like something black and awful.
Besides, after that, life was bitterly hard for the one who was still the youngest, but no longer watched over with care that even a three-year-old baby needs. Things at home which had been in some ways bad enough before were worse now; and, from that time on, the child grew up in an atmosphere of such moral degradation that it is a wonder she did not fall sooner and sin more deeply than was the case. Two of her sisters lived an openly sinful life, and assuredly the brother for whom she went to keep house as soon as she was old enough, was no better. A companion of this brother came to the house one day; when he went away he was as light-hearted and careless as ever, but he left behind him such a burden of shame and sorrow and disgrace as poor Alice felt she could not carry.
This girl of seventeen went to her two sisters with the weight of sorrow and wrong, to the two sisters who should have stood in the place of mother to her.
"Nonsense," said Kate, "why, you'll get used to it!"
Bettina was a little more sympathetic, but even more discouraging. "I never thought you'd feel like that," she said, "but it's too late to mend matters now. It could have been helped yesterday, but not today. What's done can't be undone. There isn't a respectable woman in the world whom speak to you now!" Alice walked away as if in a dream. "What's done can't be undone," she kept repeating to herself, as if to fasten the direful statement upon her mind and memory. Occasionally the words changed, and she repeated, "It's too late to mend matters now."
It was the old argument, used so successfully in scores and hundreds and thousands of cases -- the argument that one step down the ladder of disgrace involves the whole distance, that there is no hope, no way of escape, after the first wrong-doing.
"There's no help for it -- you are doomed now, anyway-no respectable woman could speak to you -- you might as well take what pleasure you can out of this life." In almost every case, someone is sure to come with this temptation of utter hopelessness, and the young girl whose better nature is fighting against the horror of the whole thing, calls on that better nature to yield the battle. "It is no use trying to be good," she says despairingly.
So it was with Alice Sawyer. She knew of no one in the village to whom she could go for help, or even Christian advice, and she gave up the struggle. "It isn't my fault," she said to herself once when her half dormant conscience spoke out and would be heard. "There simply isn't any way out for me, or if there is, I can't find it, and that's the same thing."
Weeks passed by, during which no one would have suspected that Alice Sawyer felt any repugnance toward the careless, irregular sort of life she was leading. "There, I knew she'd get used to it soon enough," exclaimed Kate one day.
But Bettina said nothing. Deep down in her heart there was a sort of sorrow for her youngest sister, but it was a sorrow she did not know how to put into words.
After a time Alice went away from home and found her way to the city of Grand Rapids. Like many others, she imagined that it would be easy to hide her shame in the midst of a crowd, and as soon as she arrived in the city she began her search for work.
She wanted to be lost, but instead she was found-found by the One who came to seek and to save that which was lost.
Almost at the beginning of her search for work, Alice discovered that one part at least of the disheartening prophecy was untrue, because she came across an earnest Christian lady, who not only "spoke to her," but even took her into her own home for the night.
The next day this lady brought her to the Salvation Army Rescue Home in Grand Rapids. Alice wanted to stay, and was very grateful for the opportunity. Yet it all seemed so strange, so unexpected, that it took the poor child some time to realize that "the way out" of her sin and misery had, actually been found, and that the door was open before her into paths of new life and hope.
Kneeling by her bedside one night, Alice claimed for herself the power of that uttermost salvation which alone can take away the bitterness from the memory of such a past as hers, and which alone can make it possible to sing,
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free:
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood avails for me.
That night marked the last of Alice's unhappy days, the "black ones" as she sometimes called them in contrast to the "white ones" of the new life which then began. Her one sorrow was for those left behind in the village home, without any knowledge of Christ, and she prayed for them all, especially for her father, then seventy-one years old.
"It will take something to touch my father's heart," she said one day to the Captain of the Home, "but I am praying for him, and I believe he will give his heart to God."
That "something" which should touch her father's heart came sooner than was expected by some.
Alice had to go to the hospital, and after she had been there a short time it became evident that she would never be able to go out again. But she had no fear, and was sorry only because she had hoped to be able to go to others with the story of that wonderful salvation which had availed for her.
On the first evening of her stay in the hospital the Captain and Lieutenant of the Rescue Home went with her and stayed a few hours. As they were saying goodnight to her and to the nurse who was to have her in charge, Alice suddenly dropped on her knees by the bedside.
It was indeed a striking picture. On the one side the two Salvationists in their uniforms, on the other side the nurse in hers, while by the bedside knelt the girl of eighteen who had been saved in time from a life of misery and sorrow. It seemed as if the very light of heaven were striking through, illuminating the scene with divine radiance and blessing. It may indeed have been so, for Alice was rapidly nearing the very gates of heaven.
Suddenly the summons came -- such a summons always is sudden at the last, even when the possibility has been in view for some time.
Word was sent to the Rescue Home, and the Captain came at once to the hospital. "I do love you, Captain," said Alice. Then, with her eyes steadfastly fixed on the face of the one who had lead her into the light of salvation through Jesus, the girl passed quietly, peacefully away to that land where there is no more pain, for the "former things are passed away."
This scene might do very well as a beautiful ending to a story which began in sadness and gloom. It was indeed a bright, white, glorious day in Alice's experience, but it did not mark the end of her work on earth.
The "something" which was to touch her father's heart did reach and touch that man of seventy-one through his youngest daughter's death.
At the simple funeral service, held in the Rescue Home, he came forward like a child, knelt sobbing by the coffin and asked God to help him meet his Alice in the great, wonderful land beyond the grave. -- Adjutant Elizabeth M. Clark
016 -- TRIUMPHANT DEATH OF MRS. MARGARET HANEY
Mrs. Margaret Haney, of Greenville, Mich., died of cancer, May 31, 1896, aged 53 years. She was converted fifteen years ago in a meeting held by Bro. S. B. Shaw. Sister Haney was born in Canada. She was an excellent Christian. A few days before she died she said to one of the sisters, "Do you know that I love Jesus?" and to another sister she said, "He fills my soul with glory."
Tuesday before she died she waved her hands and praised the Lord while Sister Taylor was reading, "I go to prepare a place for you," etc. A few hours before she passed away I said, "Sister Haney, do you know Jesus?" and she nodded her head, after she could speak no more. She arranged her temporal matters for her departure, selected the text for her funeral (Rev. 14: 13) and asked Bro. D. G. Briggs to preach her funeral sermon. The funeral was held at Greenville, June 2. The Comforter was present to give hope and cheer to sorrowing friends. Sister Haney will not only be missed in our class, but all over the city, and especially in her home by her husband and children. -- Mrs. A. Hoadley
017 -- LAST HOURS ON EARTH OF THE NOTED FRENCH INFIDEL, VOLTAIRE
When Voltaire felt the stroke that he realized must terminate in death, he was overpowered with remorse. He at once sent for the priest, and wanted to be "reconciled with the church." His infidel flatterers hastened to his chamber to prevent his recantation; but it was only to witness his ignominy and their own. He cursed them to their faces; and, as his distress was increased by their presence, he repeatedly and loudly exclaimed:
"Begone! It is you that have brought me to my present condition. Leave me, I say; begone! What a wretched glory is this which you have produced to me!"
Hoping to allay his anguish by a written recantation, he had it prepared, signed it, and saw it witnessed. But it was all unavailing. For two months he was tortured with such an agony as led him at times to gnash his teeth in impotent rage against God and man. At other times, in plaintive accents, he would plead, "O Christ! O Lord Jesus!" Then, turning his face, he would cry out, "I must die -- abandoned of God and of men!"
As his end drew near, his condition became so frightful that his infidel associates were afraid to approach his bedside. Still they guarded the door, that others may not know how awfully an infidel was compelled to die. Even his nurse repeatedly said, "For all the wealth of Europe she would never see another infidel die."
It was a scene of horror that lies beyond all exaggeration. Such is the well-attested end of the one who had a natural sovereignty of intellect, excellent education, great wealth, and much earthly honor. We may all well exclaim with Balsam, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his. -- The Contrast Between Infidelity and Christianity
018 -- DYING WORDS OF SAMUEL HICK
Many of our readers no doubt have heard of "Sammy Hick, the Village Blacksmith." His eccentricities and devotion to God are widely known, not only in England, his native land, but in other countries as well. His biographer says:
In 1825, Mr. Hick gave up business and devoted the remainder of his days to the work of the Lord. Everywhere he became very popular. In London he drew crowds to hear him, and he was the means of doing much good. In speaking in the pulpit or on the platform, he was loud and vehement; on warming up with his subject he was much given to gesticulation and stamping, making the platform tremble under him; in fact, on one occasion he stamped the platform down. "Just at the moment of applying his subject," says Rev. J. Everett, "and saying, 'Thus it was that the prophets went,' that part of the platform on which he stood gave way, and he instantly disappeared. Fortunately no injury was done."
And now the time for his dissolution drew near. About a month before he died he told his friends he was "going home." He wished Mr. Dawson to preach his funeral sermon from Isaiah 48:18; he also desired that his death should be advertised in the Leeds paper, and that a sack of meal should be baked into bread and two cheeses purchased for the use of those who came to witness the interment. "My friends will all come," said he, "there will be a thousand people at my funeral."
By Martha's desire, however, Mr. Dawson succeeded in "persuading him off" this baking and cheese purchasing business, especially as his means were small. That dry, hearty humor to which he was so much given showed itself even in his last hours. A friend who prayed with him in his last illness asked the Lord to "make his bed in his affliction."
"Yes," responded Sammy, "and shake it well, Lord."
Remembering that the stairs were narrow, and the windows of the room small, he said to those about him, "As soon as I die, you must take the body down and lay it out; for you will not be able to get the coffin either down-stairs or out of the windows." Then after singing I'll praise my Maker while I've breath:
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler powers,
He said faintly, "I am going, get the sheets ready"; and on Monday, at 11 p. m., Nov. 9th, 1829, in the 71st year of his age, he took his departure. On the following Sunday he was buried in Aberford Churchyard, and about a thousand persons attended the funeral; many of whom after taking their last look at the coffin, turned away exclaiming, "If ever there was a good man, Sammy Hick was one." -- Life Stories Of Remarkable Preachers
019 -- THE SAINTED SUSANNA WESLEY
"The Mother of Methodism" was born in London in 1669, and was the youngest child of Dr. Samuel Annesley, an able and prominent minister, who paid every attention to the education of his favorite daughter. When Susanna was twenty years of age she and her husband, Samuel Wesley, a graduate of Exeter College and a curate in London, began married life on an income of sixty pounds a year.
The young husband was a diligent student and devoted to his work; his beautiful wife, a person of fine manners. Had Susanna Wesley not been a person of very strong will, she could not have borne all the trials, privations and hardships incident to her long and toilsome life. Not only did poverty often stare the rapidly increasing family in the face, but in 1702 their home was destroyed by fire and other troubles fast followed.
Mr. Wesley, owing debts which he could not pay, was put into prison, where he remained three months before his friends succeeded in releasing him. A still greater calamity was awaiting them. In 1709 Epworth Rectory was burned to the ground, and some of the children narrowly escaped with their lives. Their books, which had been purchased with great self-denial, twenty pounds in money and their clothing were all gone. A month later Mrs. Wesley's nineteenth and last child was born. The rectory was after a time rebuilt and the scattered family reunited.
Notwithstanding her manifold household duties Mrs. Wesley found time for a vast amount of literary work. Not only did she conduct a household school, which she continued for twenty years, but she prepared three text-books for the religious training of her children.
She also held Sunday evening services in the rectory for her children and servants. Others asked permission to come, and often two hundred were present.
The letters she wrote to her children give some insight into her pure and noble character. When John entered school at London many letters passed between mother and son. She advised him what books to read. "Imitation of Christ" and "Rules for Holy Living and Dying" made lasting impressions upon him. When he was first asked to go to America to preach the gospel he hesitated, wishing to remain near his aged mother.
When he consulted her she replied, "Had I twenty sons I should rejoice were they all so employed, though I should never see them again." What must have been her feelings as she witnessed the grand work done by his son before she was called away.
"Children, as soon as I am released sing a psalm of praise to God," was her last uttered request. The words of her son Charles, "God buries the workmen, but the work goes on," are true, and though this model mother has long since passed away, the grand work of her sons still goes forward. -- Traits of Character
020 -- "OH! I HAVE MISSED IT AT LAST!"
Some time ago, a physician called upon a young man who was ill. He sat for a little while by the bedside, examining his patient, and then he honestly told him the sad intelligence that he had but a very short time to live. The young man was astonished; he did not expect it would come to that so soon. He forgot that death comes "in such an hour as ye think not."
At length he looked up into the face of the doctor, and, with a most despairing countenance, repeated the expression, "I have missed it -- at last."
"What have you missed?" inquired the tenderhearted, sympathizing physician.
"I have missed it -- at last," again he repeated.
"Doctor, I have missed the salvation of my soul."
"Oh, say not so -- it is not so. Do you remember the thief on the cross?"
"Yes, I remember the thief on the cross. And I remember that he never said to the Holy Ghost, 'Go thy way.' But I did. And now He is saying to me, 'Go your way.'"
He lay gasping a while, and looking up with a vacant, starting eye, he said, "I was awakened and was anxious about my soul a little time ago. But I did not want to be saved then. Something seemed to say to me, 'Don't put it off, make sure of salvation.' I said to myself, 'I will postpone it.' I knew I ought not to do it. I knew I was a great sinner, and needed a Savior. I resolved, however, to dismiss the subject for the present. Yet I could not get my own consent to do it until I had promised to take it up again, at a time not remote and more favorable. I bargained away, resisted and insulted the Holy Spirit. I never thought of coming to this. I meant to have made my salvation sure, and now I have missed it -- at last."
"You remember," said the doctor, "that there were some who came at the eleventh hour."
"My eleventh hour," he rejoined, "was when I had that call of the Spirit. I have had none since -- shall not have. I am given over to be lost. Oh! I have missed it! I have sold my soul for nothing -- a feather -- a straw -- undone forever!" This was said with such indescribable despondency, that nothing was said in reply.
After lying a few moments, he raised his head, and looking all around the room as if for some desired object, he buried his face in the pillow, and again exclaimed in agony and horror, "Oh! I have missed it at last!" and died.
Reader, you need not miss your salvation, for you may have it now. What you have read is a true story. How earnestly it says to you, "NOW is the accepted time!"
"Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb. 3: 7, 8). -- The Fire Brand
021 -- "VICTORY! TRIUMPH! TRIUMPH!" WERE JOHN S. INSKIP'S LAST WORDS
This great evangelist of full salvation was greatly used in bringing Christians from a life of wandering in the wilderness of doubts and fears to the promised land of perfect rest. For many years he was at the head of the great holiness movement in this country. His biographer says:
"The agents whom God employs for special work, are marked men -- men who seem, by special enduement, to be leaders; and who at once, by their superior adaptation, command public attention and take their place, by general consent, in the front ranks. Such a character was Rev. John S. Inskip."
He was a great sufferer for many weeks before he died. On one occasion Mrs. Inskip said: "My dear, religion was good when you were turned from your father's home; it was good in the midst of labor, trials and misrepresentations; it has been good in the midst of great battles, and when the glorious victory came; does it now hold in the midst of this great suffering?"
He pressed her hand, and with uplifted eyes, and a hallowed smile, responded, "Yes, oh yes! I am unspeakably happy." This was followed by "Glory! glory!" During his sickness he requested many of his friends to sing and pray with him. He was "always cheerful and his face radiant with smiles and bright with the light of God.
His biographer says: The last song sung, on the day of his departure, was, "The Sweet Bye And Bye." While singing that beautiful and appropriate hymn, the dying man pressed his loving wife to his breast, and then, taking her hands in his, raised them up together, and with a countenance beaming with celestial delight, shouted, "Victory! Triumph! Triumph!" These were his last words on earth.
He ceased to breathe at 4 p. m., March 7, 1884, but so peacefully and imperceptibly did he pass away, that those who watched by him could scarcely perceive the moment when he ceased to live. On that day the Christian warrior, the powerful preacher, the tender husband, the world-renowned evangelist, was gathered to his fathers, and rested from his toil. "And thou art crowned at last."
The intelligence of his death spread throughout all the land with great rapidity, and though not unexpected, it produced a profound impression upon all. Letters of Christian sympathy for the afflicted widow came pouring in from all parts of the country. The general feeling was, that a great and useful man had fallen -- one whose place in the holiness movement of the country could not easily be filled. -- Life of John S. Inskip
022 -- THE WONDERFUL COURAGE OF THE MARTYR PHILIP, BISHOP OF HERACLEA
Philip, bishop of Heraclea, in Asia Minor, who lived in the third century, had in almost every act of his life shown himself to be a good Christian.
An officer, named Aristomachus, being sent to shut up the Christian church in Heraclea, Philip told him that the shutting up of buildings made by hands could not destroy Christianity; for the true faith dwelt not in the places where God is adored, but in the hearts of His people.
Being denied entrance to the church in which he used to preach, Philip took up his station at the door, and there exhorted the people to patience, perseverance and godliness. For this he was seized and carried before the governor, who severely reproved him, and then said: "Bring all the vessels used in your worship, and the Scriptures which you read and teach the people, and surrender them to me, before you are forced to do so by tortures."
Philip listened unmoved to this harsh command, and then replied "If you take any pleasure in seeing us suffer, we are prepared for the worst you can do. This infirm body is in your power; use it as you please. The vessels you demand shall be delivered up, for God is not honored by gold and silver, but by faith in His name. As to the sacred books, it is neither proper for me to part with them, nor for you to receive them."
This answer so much enraged the governor, that he ordered the venerable bishop to be put to the torture.
The crowd then ran to the place where the Scriptures and the church plate were kept. They broke down the doors, stole the plate, and burned the books; after this they wrecked the church.
When Philip was taken to the market-place, he was ordered to sacrifice to the Roman gods. In answer to this command, he made a spirited address on the real nature of the Deity; and said that it appeared that the heathens worshipped that which might lawfully be trodden under foot, and made gods of such things as Providence had designed for their common use.
Philip was then dragged by the mob through the streets, severely scourged, and brought again to the governor; who charged him with obstinate rashness, in continuing disobedient to the emperor's command. To this he boldly replied that he thought it wise to prefer heaven to earth, and to obey God rather than man. The governor then sentenced him to be burned, which was done accordingly, and he expired singing praises to God in the midst of the fire. -- Foxes Book, of Martyrs
023 -- "I CAN SEE THE OLD DEVIL HERE ON THE BED WITH ME."
There lived at one time in our neighborhood a man whom we will call Mr. B____. He was intelligent, lively, a good conversationalist, and had many friends. But Mr. B loved tobacco and strong drink, and was not friendly to Christianity. He would not attend church and would laugh and make fun of religion, and some of his neighbors he would call Deacon so-and-so for fun.
But Mr. B____ was growing old. His head was frosted over with many winters and he had long since passed his three score and ten years.
At the close of a wintry day, in a blinding snowstorm, a neighbor called at our home saying Mr. B____ wished to see my husband. Knowing Mr. B____ was ill, my husband was soon on his way. On entering the sick room, he asked what he wished of him. He replied, "O, I want you to pray for me."
"Shall I not read a chapter from the Bible to you first?" was asked. He assented. The chapter selected was the fifth of St. John.
While reading, Mr. B____ would say, "I can see the old devil here on the bed with me, and he takes everything away from me as fast as you read it to me, and there are little ones on each side of me."
After reading, prayer was offered for him, and he was told to pray for himself. He said: "I have prayed for two days and nights and can get no answer. I can shed tears over a corpse, but over this Jesus I cannot shed a tear. It is too late, too late! Twenty-five years ago, at a camp-meeting held near my home, was the time that I had ought to have given my heart to Jesus. Oh!" he cried, "see the steam coming up! See the river rising higher and higher! Soon it will be over me and I will be gone."
The room was filled with companions of other days; not a word was spoken by them. Fear seemed to have taken hold of them; and some said after that, "I never believed in a hell before, but I do now. O, how terrible!"
Mr. B____ lived but a short time after this and then died as he had lived, a stranger to Jesus, with no interest in His cleansing blood. -- E. A. Rowes
024 -- "GOD HAS CALLED ME TO COME UP HIGHER."
Mrs. Gafford was dying, away from father, mother, brothers and sisters. Not one of her relatives knew of her illness. She mentioned this fact to me, and requested me to tell her people how kind her husband's family had been to her, and that she had had everything that could be done for her.
Mrs. Gafford was a noted teacher, and was a graduate from the Normal College, South Nashville. She had been married but two months before her death occurred, which was on the same day that her marriage took place. Mr. Gafford's youngest brother came for me, saying, "Sister Chloe says she is dying and wants to see you."
As I entered the room, she said, "Mrs. Moore, God has called me to come home. I have had a happy, beautiful home on this earth, but God has one for me that will last forever."
When Bro. Harrel came, she said, "Bro. Harrel, God has called me to come up higher. He says my life's work is done."
Bro. Harrel said, "We need you so much here, I am going to ask God to spare you to us."
Mrs. Gafford replied, "The Lord's will be done." Bro. Harrel then read to her from the Bible. She commented on each passage, saying, "The Lord has been all this to me."
As he read "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee," she said, "Bro. Harrel, death is the deep waters, God is with me." Then, putting her arms around her mother-in-law's neck, she said, "God has sent me here to die to win you to heaven."
She then began to sing "The Unclouded Day" and "Home, Sweet Home"; and soon after left us to live with God. As Mr. Gafford, her husband's father, had died several years before, they did not know each other on this earth, but I am sure that they have met up yonder. -- Prepared for this book by Mrs. T. C. Moore, White's Bend, Tenn.
025 -- CARRIE CARMEN'S VISION OF THE HOLY CITY
When Carrie Carmen, with whom the author was personally acquainted, as pastor, came to the "river's margin," perfectly conscious, she gazed upward, and exclaimed, "Beautiful! beautiful! beautiful"
One asked, "What is so beautiful?"
"Oh, they are so beautiful."
"What do you see?"
"Angels! and they are so beautiful."
"How do they look?"
"Oh, I can't tell you, they are so beautiful."
"Have they wings?"
"Yes! and hark! hark! They sing the sweetest of anything I ever heard."
"Do you see Christ?"
"No, but I see the Holy City that was measured with the reed whose length and breadth and height are equal, and whose top reaches to the skies; and it is so beautiful I can't tell you how splendid it is." Then she repeated the verse beginning "Through the valley of the shadow I must go."
She then spoke of the loneliness of her husband, and prayed that he might have grace to bear his bereavement, and that strength might be given him to go out and labor for souls. (They were expecting soon to enter the ministry.) She also prayed for her parents, asking that they might make an unbroken band in the beautiful city. She closed her eyes and rested a moment, and then looked up with beaming eyes and said: "I see Christ, and oh, He is so beautiful!"
Her husband asked again, "How does He look?"
"I can't tell you; but He is so much more beautiful than all me rest." Again she said, "I see the Holy City." Then, gazing a moment, she said, "So many!"
"What do you see, of which there are so many?"
"How many are there?"
"A great many; more than I can count."
"Any you know?"
"Yes, a great many."
"Uncle George and a lot more. They are calling me. They are beckoning to me."
"Is there any river there?"
"No; I don't see any."
Her husband then said, "Carrie, do you want to go and leave me?"
"No, not until it is the Lord's will that I should go. I would like to stay and live for you and God's work. His will be done."
Presently she lifted her eyes and said, "Oh, carry me off from this bed."
Her husband said, "She wants to be removed from the bed." But his father said, "She is talking with the angels."
When asked if she were, she replied, "Yes." She then thanked the doctor for his kindness to her, and asked him to meet her in heaven. She closed her eyes, and seemed to be rapidly sinking away.
Her husband kissed her and said, "Carrie, can't you kiss me?"
She opened her eyes and kissed him, and said: "Yes I can come back to kiss you. I was part way over." She said but little more, but prayed for herself and for her friends. Frequently she would gaze upward and smile, as though the sights were very beautiful." -- Christ Crowned Within