« ZurückWeiter »
youth to old age he had never omitted the duty. It had been a cherished resource with him in the many difficulties and trials of his varied course. The most serious of all trials now oppressed him. He was about to close his earthly race. The world was receding from his sight, and the solemn realities of Eternity rising on his view. In a short time the mystic tie which bound him to this world would be dissolved, and his future condition be unalterably fixed. What more natural, under such circumstances, than prayer, to him who had always prayed before! He would surely desire now, once more, before he left the world, and appeared before the judgment-seat of Christ, to pour out his soul in earnest supplication for himself, his friends, and all mankind.
But why desire to be perfectly alone in order to do this duty? Might he not have engaged therein with all necessary privacy, though others were near? Could any witness the secret thoughts and emotions of the heart? However this may be, we yet know that the sick are always liable to interruptions from the tender solicitude and vigilant kindness of surrounding friends. Washington was so exposed, and no doubt desired that his last approach to the throne of grace should be made with due solemnity, and undisturbed. He was moreover much averse to every thing like ostentation in religion, and knew he could not, in the act of prayer, escape observation in the presence of others. It had also been a custom with him, in his secret devotions, to pray audibly. This may have had its influence with him, and rendered the absence of his attendants desirable.
The presence of Mrs. Washington, and her attitude of mingled piety and grief, in the chamber of death, have been cited. "She left not the chamber of the sufferer, but was seen kneeling at the bed-side, her head reclining upon her Bible." In reference to this circumstance, we are induced to inquire the end for which the Sacred Volume had been placed upon the dying bed of Washington. Was it for the calm perusal and consolation of the afflicted wife? We think not. We should regard it most improbable that such should have been the object. In cases of dangerous sickness, the attention of near relatives is usually quite absorbed by sympathy with their suffering friends. The wife especially, where her husband is the victim of alarming disease, is on the alert in doing whatever may alleviate his pains and arrest the malady. To his condition and his wants she is all eye, all ear. Whilst he is in danger, she knows neither weariness or faintness of mind. In the case before us, sickness and death had entered the domestic circle with unwonted surprise. Great must have been the shock to a wife so affectionate and devoted as Mrs. Washington. If, therefore, she might have stolen a moment for throwing herself before the Mercy-Seat, and begging for a life so dear to her, it is scarcely probable that she would have thought it her duty or could have commanded tranquility enough, to engage in the work of reading and meditating in God's Word. It is far more likely that her conjugal zeal and tenderness would induce an attempt, in an hour so trying, to soothe the mind, and fortify the faith of her dying husband, by reading to him some of the precious promises and consoling truths of the Inspired Volume. Often had he, in the same chamber, and perhaps from the same Bible, read portions of the Divine Word, for their mutual comfort and edification. She will now repay the debt of kind
ness when it is most required. To such an effort of devoted affection, painful as it may be, the heroism of female piety is often equal. It was so, we believe, in the instance under consideration.
As the hour of his departure drew near, every thing else being arranged and settled, and nothing left undone, the expiring chief turns his busy thoughts upon the funeral offices awaiting his mortal remains. Addressing Mr. Lear, his constant attendant, he said: "I am just going. Have me decently buried; and do not let my body be put into the vault in less than two days after I am dead."
The composure and serenity evinced in this direction is sufficiently apparent. But what did he mean by being "decently buried?" He probably referred to the customary religious solemnities. There was little danger of any thing else being neglected. The circumstances under which he met his end, precluded the possibility of those offices of the church, appropriate to the bed of death. He would not, however, have the funeral rites omitted; regarding them as necessary to a "decent" interment.
The last words which Washington uttered were these: ""TIS WELL.” Fearing that his last request was not comprehended, he asked if he was understood. Being answered in the affirmative, he said ""Tis well." Every thing now was finished. He had done with this world; he is ready to die; and he closes his intercourse with earth in the language of satisfaction and contentment. Speaking as he did with great difficulty, it is probable that these were not mere words of course, uttered without particular meaning. He intended, most likely, to express his perfect acquiescence in his death, and every thing connected with it; that his mind was at rest-that every thing was right-that all was well. One cannot but remember in this connexion, a similar expression of humble submission under affliction in the case of a pious Scripture worthy. When death bereaved the Shunamite woman of her only child, she forthwith repaired to the Prophet Elisha at Mount Carmel. When he coming in haste, he said to his servant: "Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, 'Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with thy child?" And she answered, "It is well." Though her child was dead, yet she says, "It is well." It was the Lord's doings; therefore she acquiesced, and commended the dispensation as right in itself. And thus testified the renowned Sufferer of the land of Uz. When oppressed with a sore affliction, "he fell upon the earth and worshipped, and said, 'Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.' In all this," adds the sacred writer, "Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." His pious resignation was virtually expressed in the words, "It is well."
Mr. Lear, in his description of the closing scene, has these words: "Dr. Craik placed his hands over his eyes; and he expired without a struggle or a sigh." This statement is no doubt true, but it does not contain the whole thruth. It was said and believed at the time, that General Washington closed his own eyes; and the writer is assured that such was the fact, since he heard it asserted by one who had the best opportunity of knowing the certainty of it. The matter, indeed, is one
of no great impoutance; but serves to show that some things escaped the notice of Mr. Lear, or were thought too trivial for record by him. This circumstance, however, is not without interest, as indicating a perfect self-possession and composure of mind. It was of a piece with the act nearly simultaneous, of feeling his own pulse. After this he lingered but a few moments; the curtain of time was drawn to him, and he passed quickly through the gates of Eternity, into the presence of his Maker and his Judge.
He died on Saturday night, 14th of December. On Wednesday, the 18th, his body, attended by military honors and the offices of religion, was placed in the family vault.
It has engaged the notice and remark of some, that no spiritual attendance or service distinguished the last sickness of Washington-that there was no minister of Christ with him, nor any of the offices of the church administered in aid of his faith and hope. Whatever may have been his views or wishes in reference to this particular religious privilege, it is very certain that it would have been next to impossible for him, had he desired it, to have been gratified. He did not survive twentyfour hours from the time of his attack. Of that period there was not more than ten hours of day-light. It was also the depth of winter; and the earth was covered with a heavy snow. Nor was there a clergyman within a less distance than nine miles of Mount Vernon. The General, moreover, was dying through a greater part of the day. He considered himself to be going before others did. In these things alone, we think a sufficient reason will be found for the alleged omission, no matter how great the importance attached to the observances in question. That they were not undervalued by the subject of these pages we have sufficient reason for believing. But the circumstances of his dying lot, rendered it impossible to evince his estimation of them, whatever that may have been.*
Thus did the Father of his Country meet a sudden, though not an untimely end. He had lived to fulfil the exalted purposes of his creation. The measure of his distinguished usefulness was full. At a period of high political excitement and temptation was he taken away. In his removal, he left behind him a name of surpassing moral weightas unimpared in death, as in life. Since living, he conferred on others so much good; and dying, bequeathed them so many blessings; we cannot but cherish the grateful assurance, that the stroke which severed the mortal tie, dismissed him also from every care and pain, the heir of a
The subjoined notice of the death of Mrs. Washington may not be here inappropriate. It is taken from the Alexandria Advertiser of May, 1802:
On Saturday, the 22d of May, at 12 o'clock, P. M., Mrs. Washington terminated her well spent life. Composure and resignation were uniformly displayed during seventeen days depredations of a severe fever. From the commencement she declared that she was undergoing the final trial, and had long been prepared for her dissolution. She took the sacrament from Dr. Davis, (Rector of Christ Church, Alexandria,) imparted her last advice and benediction to her weeping relations; and sent for a white gown, which she had previously laid by for her last dress. Thus, in the closing scene, as in all the preceding ones, nothing was omitted. The conjugal, maternal and domestic duties, had all been fulfilled in an exemplary manner. She was the worthy partner of the worthiest of men, and those who witnessed their conduct could not determine which excelled in their different characters; both were so well sustained on every occasion. They lived an honor and a pattern to their country, and are taken from us to receive the rewards promised to the faithful and just.
happy immortality. In this belief and holy confidence, no doubt, did his chosen successor at Mount Vernon, cause the entrance of his lowly sephulchre to be adorned with the animating declaration of the Divine Redeemer: "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die." May the issues of the Last Day abundantly confirm the pious hopes of such as loved him in life, and honored him in death.
"GATHER UP THE FRAGMENTS THAT REMAIN, THAT NOTHING MAY BE LOST."
THE EDITOR IN NEW ENGLAND.
Yes, this pleasure the editor of THE GUARDIAN lately enjoyed—a visit to New England. Perhaps it is too much to say that we saw New England, for we saw, Yet if it in fact, but a small part of it. be true that "Boston is New England," as some one has said, then we saw it, for we saw Boston pretty thoroughly.
It was a dream of our life, some day to visit Yankee land; and now that it has been fulfilled, we can only say in a word, that we were greatly interested at ever step, and derived much pleasure, and we believe profit also, from what we saw and heard. Though we have commenced as if we intended to lead our readers after us over the route we took, and tell him all of interest we witnessed, yet let him be assured that he shall be spared this trouble. In any other month but August, this might have been done; but in these oppressive days we cannot undertake such a task. We have, however, laid up some suggestions, of which we expect to make use as occasion shall call them up.
tillery; smoke it, and it pollutes flesh and breath, earth and air; makes the chest a sort of volcano, and the mouth a crater, venting smoke and fire. Is this gentlemanly or decent? When Governor Morris returned from France, a Doctor of Divinity, notorious as a smoker, said to him: "Mr. Morris, do gentlemen smoke in Paris?"-" Gentlemen," said Mr. Morris, "GENTLEMEN, doctor, smoke nowhere."
2. Religion bids you crucify fleshly lusts, and exercise self-denial. Is not this a hurtful lust, a vile appetite, an unreasonable self-indulgence, totally at war with purity and self-denial? Says Dr. Harris, "Tobacco is a lust of the flesh, an agent of Satan, by which he is now destroying more bodies and souls than by any other agent." Said a good man, "My Tobacco is a lust, which is getting the mastery of me; I will drop it, if it takes the flesh off my bones." Brother, I pray you do likeHe did so. wise.
3. Religion bids you, as a steward of God, to make a proper use of money. Your habit is expensive, and worse than To one point we will here allude. useless. If you are well, this poison visitor to New England will soon learn that the Yankees are a strict and regular can do you no good; hence every cent people, in matters of morals and manners. you spend for it is a waste which dismoney for that Every practice of doubtful propriety is honors God; it is " carefully watched, and measures are at which is not bread." If you have used All kinds it for some time, a child can show you once taken for its correction. of reforms are undertaken with prompt- that you have squandered an enormous ness and carried forward with zeal. amount of money-money needed to Tracts on all subjects are freely distrib-raise drooping hearts, and to fill the uted on thoroughfares and in public world with light and love. places. Many such fell into our hands. One of these we think is worthy of appearing in full in our "Seed-Thoughts," and we here give it accordingly.
4. Religion bids you to use time, strength and life, to the best purpose. The Earl of Stanhope maintains that the victims of this narcotic spend one twentieth part of their time-two years in forty-in its indulgence. What right have you, my brother, to waste years or months in this manner? Is this "redeeming the time?" What right have 1. Religion bids you to be cleanly and you to enfeeble your body by this emasgentlemanly in demeanor. But, tell me, culating drug, when its energies, in full is the common use of Tobacco a cleanly force should be given to God and the What right and becoming practice? Snuff it, and good of our perishing race? it makes your nose a mere dust-pan; have you to use a drug whose tendency chew it, and it soils your lips and teeth, is completely ANTI-VITAL, and which may and makes your mouth a nauseous dis-cut short your life ten years or twenty?
The Christian a Slave to Tobacco. MY. BROTHER! I wish to show you that your habit is at war with religion, name and thing.