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MRS. JANE RATCLIFFE,
Who was no less eminent for the fervour of her devotion than the strength of her faith; when she drew near the close of life, assigned the following reasons why she wished to die.
"I desire to die, because I want, while I live here, the glorious presence of God, which I love and long for; and that sweet fellowship of angels and saints, who would be as glad to see me with them, as I should be to see them about and would entertain me with unwearied
"I desire to die, because, while I live, I shall want the perfection of my nature, and be as a banished child from my father's house.
"I desire to die, because I would not live to offend so good a God, and grieve his Holy Spirit. For his loving-kindness is better than life, and he is abundant in mercy to me; and it often lies as a heavy load upon my heart to think of displeasin him.
"I desire to die, because this world is infected with the plague of sin; and I myself am tainted with the same disease: so that while I live here, I can be in no place, nor in any company, where I shall not be in danger of being infected, or of infecting others.
"I cannot but desire to die, when I consider that sin, like a leprosy, hath so corrupted me, that there is no soundness in me. My mind, my memory, my will, and affections, and my very conscience, are still impure. I therefore desire heaven for holiness, rather than for happiness, that I may sin no more.
"I desire to die, because nothing in this world can give me solid and durable contentment. I like life the less, and am the more desirous to die, when I consider the misery that may come both on my body and estate. I may be left in the hands of the sons of violence. Besides, I daily suffer the loss of friends, who were the companions of my life; and those whom I lose by my life, I shall find by my death, and enjoy in another world for ever. With regard to my children, I am not troubled; for that God who hath given them life and breath, and all they have, while I am living, can provide for them when I am dead. My God will be their God, if they be his and if they be not, what comfort would it be me for me to live to behold it? Life would be bitter to
me, if I should see them dishonour God, whom I so greatly love.
"I fear not death, because it is but the separation of the soul from the body, and that is but a shadow of the body of death, Romans vii. 24. Whereas the separation of the soul from God by sin, Isaiah lix. 2. and of soul and body for sin, is death indeed.
"I fear not death, because it is an enemy that hath been often vanquished; and because I am armed for it, and the weapons of my warfare are mighty through God, and I am assured of victory. "I do not fear death for the pain of it, for I am persuaded I have endured as great pain in life as 1 shall find in death, and death will cure me of all sorts of pain. Besides, Christ died a terrible and cursed death, to the end that any kind of death might be blessed to me. And that God who hath greatly loved me in life, will not neglect me in death; but will, by his Spirit, succour and strengthen me all the time of the combat.
"I do not fear death for any loss, for I shall but lose my body by it, and that is but a prison to my soul; an old decayed house, a ragged garment; nay, I shall not lose that; for I shall have it restored at my Saviour's second coming, made much better than it is now; for this vile body shall be like the body of Christ, and by death I shall obtain a far better life."
For her comfort in her last hours, she had put
into the following form some memoirs of the principal mercies and blessings she had received from God. "How shall I praise God for my conversion? For his word, both in respect of my affection to it, and the wonderful comforts I have had from it? For hearing of my prayers? For godly sorrow? For fellowship with the godly? For joy in the Holy Ghost? For the desire of death ? For contempt of the world? For private helps and comforts? For giving me some strength against my sin? For preserving me from gross evils, both before and after my calling? &c."
REV. THOMAS HOOKER.
When one who stood weeping by the bed-side of the Rev. T. Hooker, said to him, "Sir, you are going to receive the reward of all your labours;" he replied: "Brother, I am going to receive mercy." At last he closed his eyes with his own hands, and gently stroking his forehead, with a smile in his countenance, he gave a little groan, and so expired, July 7th, 1647.
A worthy spectator of his death, in a letter to Mr. Cotton, had these words: "Truly, Sir, the sight of his death will make me have more pleasant thoughts of death than ever I had in all my life."
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REV. JOHN JANEWAY.
When the Rev. JOHN JANEWAY, who had been favoured with extraordinary manifestations of the true love of God, during his affliction, drew near his latter end, he said to his mother and his brethren who stood by him: "Dear mother, I beseech you earnestly, as ever I desired any thing of you in all my life, that you would cheer, fully give me up to Christ. I beseech you do not hinder me, now I am going to rest and glory. I am afraid of your prayers, lest they pull one way, and mine another." And then turning to his brethren, he said: "I charge you all, do not pray for my life You do me wrong if
you do. O that glory, that unspeakable glory which I behold! My heart is full, my heart is full. Christ smiles, and I cannot but smile. Can you find in your heart to stop me, who am now going to the complete and everlasting enjoyment of Christ? Would you keep me from my crown? The arms of my blessed Saviour are open to embrace me. The angels stand ready to carry my soul into his bosom. O, did you but see what I see, you would all cry out with me, How long, dear Lord, how long! Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! O, why are his chariot wheels so long a coming?"
Though he was, towards his end, usually in a