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DEATH OF A GAMBLER.
The doctor repeated bis opinions very plainly, and urged the necessity of admitting the visits of a pious and intelligent clergyman, whose counsels might assist him in the great work of preparing to meet his God. All these endeavours were inef. fectuai. He heard him with more patience than he would have listened to another person speaking the same things, but he resolutely refused compliance; he spoke of the ministers of religion with a hostile feeling, and continued to repeat his old assertion--that he had lived, and would die without them.
The physician finding all his efforts for this purpose ineffectual, and that his life was drawing hastily to a conclusion, explained to him the state to which he conceived him to be reduced, and the reason upon which his opinion was founded.
"] beg and entreat of you to consider yourself as standing on the very brink of eternity; you must speedily enter on it; diligently prepare for it."
6. It is useless to talk of it,” he rejoined, hastily; “I have despised and rejected religion all my life; I am averse to it now--I cannot repent.
“ I know of no other balm," said the doctor, " that can now yield you comfort or support there, and there alone, you may derive strong consolation. It often occurs to me in the exercise of my profession, to attend the dying beds of those who are sinking into the grave under accumulated loads of misery; yet I have seen these deriving such consolation from the influence of religion, that they have triumphed over all their burden of afflictions--they have scarcely been sensible of their
sufferings, so great has been the peace and happiness they have experienced in the expectation of exchanging this mortal life for a glorious immortality.”
“I cannot bear," he exclaimed, “to hear of such things; they might have been mine, but they are not. The people you speak of have served God in their health and strength, when I despised and rejected him--they went to the home in the diligent search and expectation of which they had patiently lived all their days. I have never entertained God in all my thoughts--I have endeavoured to banish him thence; I cannot njeet him as my friend I have all along been his enemy: I dare not meet him as my foe--and yet I must do it. -Oh! how shall I contend with One so much mightier than I ?-I cannot submit to One whom [ have so long and so heartily opposed. If you can keep my poor, tottering frame together for a few months, something might be done; I might change my purposes."
“Alas!" replied the physician," these are vain suggestions; a very few days must finish your earthly course: let me prevail upon you to employ them more profitably than in seeking to avoid what is inevitable. Mercy is yet to be found if you seek it with all your heart; God is nigh unto those who call upon him faithfully; and though your time is very short, yet enough remains to obtain pardon and peace if you seek it earnestly: but do not defer it--you cannot live through another week.” Then,” ” he retorted, in an agony,
66 before the end of another week I shall be-(and he paused)--yet why do I hesitate to speak the truth plainly, when the fact will soon prove itself ?-before the end of another week I shall be in hell !
I shall be ? I am there now-for what is hell but the truth seen too late? I now see and feel the truth I have so long despised and trampled on, and that is hell-it is begun already, and will continue for ever-it is the worm that never dies, the fire that never can be quenched.”
“My friend,” rejoined the doctor, " the conclusions you draw, as respects yourself, are hasty in the extreme; whilst there is life there is hope and mercy with God, that he may be feared: he may yet be found; only seek him whilst space and opportunity are yet afforded you."
I cannot seek him," he replied, " I neither love nor desire him ; I have lived in hostility to him all my days, and if he is willing to be reconciled to me I am not ready ; I cannot change my feelings and propensities so quickly. Lengthen my days give me space to conquer my aversion to him, his people, and his ways; these are all alike disagreeable to me, and I cannot change sides and go over in an instant.-O keep me alive for a few months, or we shall meet as enemies! Even now I feel his strong hand upon- -O that he would destroy me!-His fear terrifies me -and his mighty arm inflicts punishment greater than I can bear!"
His mental agitation became extreme, and dreadfully shook his enfeebled frame. He continued to reject, with awful energy and perseverance, every solicitation to admit the visits of a clergyman, or to recieve religious instruction and consolation.
“I tell you, I do not repent. I cannot repent. Nay more, I have no sorrow for my sins ; restore me my health, and I shall pursue the same practices. I am only terrified at the consequences:
1 am not penitent for my misdeeds."
6 And feeling the awful consequences of sin,"
interposed the other, “ will lead you to seek deliverance from the cause as well as the effect. Consider how the promise is added to the invitation Ask, and ye shall receive."
" True," said he, “another proof, if an additional one was yet wanting, to demonstrate that I have no concern in it. I have never asked God for any thing; what he gave me, he gave me unasked, and I have employed all to oppose his will. He will hear my prayers, and reject them with abhorrence. My parents were kind, tender, and forgiving, but I wearied them out; and what can I expect from God ? Must not similar conduct procure a similar reward ?”
No,” resumed the physician, “God is far more kind and patient than any earthly parent; more ready to hear than we are to pray ; and wont to give more than we either desire or deserve."
“ Ah," he returned, “ that fixes another sting to rankle in my guilty conscience. He gave me abundance advantages superior to most-more than I then desired, and, I now feel, more than I deserved. How have I employed all his benefits ? To the injury of others; and now he turns the mischief upon my own head. A gamester's hand is against every man; and now he makes me feel his wrath, not as an individual sinner, but as a transgressor against him and the whole family of his creatures, whose wrong I have ever sought, when I supposed it might be for my private advantage. Why should I expect mercy who have never shown it? I have trampled upon mercy; and now slighted, abused, rejected mercy, calls incessantly for vengeance."
After a short pause, which no one attempted to interrupt, as the horror which bis last expressions,
uttered with terrible energy and evident distress, had silenced every one, he turned to the doctor, and began, “Why do you thus plead with me? s tell you, I have been the enemy of the human race; and would have plundered you or the best friend I have upon earth. Why do you not join to torment me ? Ah! you already have a powerful avenger ; your God has declared himself on your side. He has taken up your cause, and pours down his fury upon me.
If this is only the anticipation, what will be the reality ? O misery without end, and suffering interminable."
The physician having interrupted him, to re.. mind him that length of time was not necessary for repentance, and that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin,' he replied,
6 I have trodden thai blood under foot; if it is found upon me, it must be as a curse, not a bless. ing. I have had the benefit of it offered me, but I have rejected it with unceasing hardness and impenitence. Oh, the golden opportunity that has been refused, and is now lust for ever! Is not that hell enough of itself? What need be added to it? Then to bear the wrath of God for ever!-a fire burning, but not consuming ; to be the sport and companions of devils—to dwell with everlasting burnings!”
The debility which had gradually increased upon him for several preceding months, and by which he had been brought to a state bordering upon dissolution, seemed overcome by the impulse which the agitation of his mind communicated to his body. He experienced a temporary increase of strength, a morbid revival, under which he displayed an energy and activity of thought equal to what he had exerted at any former period of his life. The effect