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Our Comfort In Dying

I was looking at some books, Puritan era books, on the subject of dying, then I remembered that I should always search my Kindle to see if I've already acquired something on a subject I'm interested in (I now have 400 books and documents on it), and so I did and it came up: R. L. Dabney's Our Comfort In Dying.

I've recommended it before [this post was originally an email]. If you got it back then look for it. It's a sermon, so very short. 35 pages in large font. But it's remarkable and just what I am looking for. He discourses on just what we are thinking of regarding death. Other theologians wouldn't talk of soaring through spiritual realms and meeting angels and other worlds and so on, but Dabney does this, and it is a sermon *on the battlefield of the American Civil War* which gives it some immediacy other writings on the subject wouldn't have.

Here is a sample:

"Third We learn from the text to what guidance the Christian may commit his soul during its unknown journey into the world of spirits. Let us endeavor, my brethren, to obtain a practical and palpable conception of that world. I believe that heaven is as truly a place as was that paradise of the primeval world where the holy Adam dwelt. When we first arrive there we shall be disembodied spirits. But finite spirits have their locality. The clearer evidence, however, that heaven is a literal place is, that it now contains the glorified, material bodies of Enoch, of Elijah, of Christ, and probably of the saints who rose with their Redeemer. But where is this place? In what charter of this vast universe? In what sphere do the Man Jesus and his ransomed ones now dwell? When death batters down the walls of the earthly tabernacle, whither shall the dispossessed soul set out? To what direction shall it turn in beginning its mysterious journey? It knows not; it needs a skillful, powerful and friendly guide. But more; it is a journey into a spiritual world, and this thought makes it awful to the apprehensions of man. The presence of one disembodied spirit in the solitude of night would shake us with a thrill of dread. How, then, could we endure to be launched out, into this untried ocean of space, peopled by, we know not what, mysterious beings? How would we shrink with fear at the meeting of some heavenly or infernal principality, rushing with lightning speed through the void, upon some mighty errand of mercy or malice, clothed with unimagined splendors of angelic attributes, and attended by the hosts of his spiritual comrades? How could we be assured that we should not fall a prey to the superior power of some of these evil angels? How be certain that we might not lose our way in the pathless vacancy, and wander up and down forever, a bewildered, solitary rover, amidst the wilderness of worlds? This journey into the unknown world must, else, issue in our introduction to a scene whose awful novelties will overpower our faculties; for even the very thought of them, when they are permitted to dwell upon our hearts, fills us with a sense of dreadful suspense. Truly will the trembling soul need some one on whom to lean, some mighty, experienced and tender guardian, who will point the way to the prepared mansions, and cheer and sustain its fainting courage. That guide is Christ: therefore let us say, in dying: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." It is a, delightful belief, to which the gospel seems to give most solid support, that our Redeemer is accustomed to employ in this mission his holy angels. What Christian has failed to derive sublime satisfaction as he has read the allegorical description in the Pilgrim's Progress of Christian and Hopeful crossing the river of death, and ascending with a rejoicing company of angels to the gate of the celestial city. It is, indeed, but an allegory, which likens death to a river. But it is no allegory -- it is a literal and blessed truth -- that angels receive and assist the departing souls which Christ redeems."



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