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terminating angels that fly wrapt up in the curtains of immateriality and an uncommunicating nature; whom we cannot see, but we feel their force, and sink under their sword, and from heaven the veil descends that wraps our heads in the fatal sentence. There is no age of man, but it hath proper to itself some posterns and the outlets of death, besides those infinite and open parts out of which myriads of men and women every day pass into the dark, and the land of forgetfulness. Infancy hath life but in effigy, or like a spark dwelling in a pile of wood; the candle is so newly lighted, that every little shaking of the taper, and every ruder breath of air puts it out, and it dies.
Vain are the thoughts of man, who, when he is young or healthful, thinks he hath a long thread of life to run over, and that it is violent and strange for young persons to die, and natural and proper only for the aged. It is as natural for a man to die by drowning as by a fever; and what greater violence or more unnatural thing is it, that the horse threw his rider into the river, than that a drunken meeting cast him into a fever? And the strengths of youth are as soon broken by the strong sicknesses of youth, and the stronger intemperance, as the weakness of old age, by a cough, or asthma, or a continual rheum; nay, it is more natural for young men and women to die than for old; because that is more natural that
hath more natural causes, and that is more natural, which is most common; but to die with age is an extreme rare thing; and there are more persons carried forth to burial before the five and twentieth year of their age, than after it; and therefore, let no vain confidence make you hope for a long life; if you have lived but little, and are still in youth, remember, that you are now in your biggest throng of dangers both of body and soul; and the proper sins of youth, to which they rush infinitely and without consideration, are also the proper and immediate instruments of death. But if you be old, you have escaped long and wonderfully, and the time of your escaping is out; you must not for ever think to live upon wonders, or that God will work miracles to satisfy your longing follies and unreasonable desires of living to sin and to the world. Go home and think to die, and what you would choose to be doing when you die, that do you daily; for you will all come to that pass to rejoice that you did so, or wish that you had; that will be the condition of every one of us; for God regardeth no man's person.
DEATH OF THOMAS PAINE.
WHEN an intelligent and thinking man, who has been accustomed to look into himself and to
observe his own imperfections and sins, and whose thoughts have expatiated on eternity, can view the approach of death not only without terror or any misgivings of mind, but with tranquil resignation, and cheering and triumphant hope; when he can depart from this life with the full assurance of living again, and of living in a better world; his composure and joy under these circumstances, with a correct view of his own character, and with a full belief of the retribution of eternity, bring the highest honor to the religious system upon which they are founded.
In the controversy between the friends and the enemies of the gospel, the former can point to many expiring mortals, and with unanswerable argument can say, 'See how a Christian can die!' But where are the models of composure and triumph among those who are not Christians? What are the names of the unbelievers, who at the hour of death have exhibited any enviable elevation of soul? In the faded eye of what dying infidel has the light of eternity kindled a splendor, which has brightened and brightened, till the curtain of death has been spread over it?
It appears that Mr Paine, like Mr Gibbon, was unwilling to be left alone, as he drew near to confines of another world. Although in conversation he professed to be perfectly willing to die, yet if his curtains were at any time closed, he
would literally scream till they were opened, and till he could perceive that some fellow man was nigh him. Was this courageous in a dying man? Did it appal a bold infidel to have living beings withdrawn for a moment from his eye, and to be, as it were, in the sole presence of his God? Did a sense of desertion come over him, when his earthly friends were not by his side? Was he unable to repose himself upon the great Creator, in whom he professed to believe?
Mr Paine was frequently visited in his sickness by his brethren in infidelity, who were actuated by very different motives from those which governed the ministers of God who also visited him. The former came to strengthen him in his rejection of the truth; to encourage him manfully to contemn the glad tidings of salvation; to warn him of the disgrace of betraying the least symptom of compunction; and to fortify the dying man in his cheerless faith, if faith it can be called, by appealing to his egregious vanity and to his swollen pride. Was not this an office worthy of demons in human shape? From a man thus situated ought we to expect any intimation of his belief in Jesus Christ? Should we not suppose, that, for the honor of the craft, his lips would be sealed in stubborn silence, whatever sensations there might be in his heart? Yes, it is an unquestionable truth, and a truth which ought to be carried to the ears of every
man who has been corrupted by the Age of Reason,' that Mr Paine, in his paroxysms of distress, repeatedly, and constantly cried out 'O Lord, help me! God, help me! Jesus Christ, help me!'
Is this the daring infidel who blasphemed the Saviour of the world? Does he in the extremity of his suffering call upon him for aid? It is a poor triumph to boast over this wretched man for his reluctant, or rather, involuntary, testimony to a truth which in the days of his health he had ridiculed; for though he had never uttered the above exclamation, yet the time is coming when he and every created intelligent being will bow the knee at the name of Jesus, and confess him to be Lord.'
RULES FOR THE PREVENTION OF
1. NEVER say any evil of another, but what you certainly know. Whenever you positively accuse a man of a crime, though it be in private and among friends, speak as if you were upon your oath, because God sees and hears you. This, not only charity, but justice, and a regard to truth demand of us. He that easily credits an ill report is almost as faulty as the inventor of it.