EXTRACT FROM A. M. TOPLADY
I was formerly well acquainted with two worthy persons in the ministry, who were eminently pious and extensively useful.
One of these died in 1739, and the other in 1761. I thought that if ever any men in the world were faithful to the light of God had given them, these were. And yet, in their last illnesses, they had such a feeling sight of their unfaithfulness, as almost reduced them. for a time, to despair of salvation.
The former of them said, he only wished to live that he might have an opportunity of preaching the gospel in a fuller manner than he had ever yet done.
The latter cried out, in an agony of distress, “God hides the light of His face from my soul, and is putting me to bed in the dark, because out of a dastardly complaisance to some of my hearers, I have not dwelt enough upon the doctrines of grace in the course of my public ministrations”; instancing, particularly the doctrine of election. “In which doctrine,” he added, “I now see a glory as I never saw before”.
Yet, both were good men, and went off comfortably at last;
though not until they had been led through a tedious, dismal, wilderness of keen remorse and distressing conflicts.
A death-bed makes even the children of God themselves feel the importance of divine things with a force which they rarely, if ever, feel until then. Such as suppress and keep back any part of Christian doctrine, either through fear of men, or to curry the favour of men, and consult their own ease, advancement, or reputation at the cost of truth and of souls, have a tremendous valley of pain and horror to pass through ‘ere they reach the Kingdom of heaven. If saved at all, it will be as by fire, that is, in a way of anguish and difficulty.
The blood of souls stains deep. Well, therefore, might the apostle Paul declare, “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel.”
Thrice happy are they, who can add with him, “Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God … I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men: for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20. 24-27).
Mr. Toplady himself made a most blessed end. As he drew near his end, he said – O what delights! Who can fathom the joys of the third heaven? Within an hour of his death, he said – – “it will not be long before God takes me; for no mortal man can live, after the glories which God has manifested to my soul.” Soon after this he closed his eyes.