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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thoughts upon the image death......

are often the most profound thoughts people conjure up in the course of their lives. Therefore, I'd like to include three of my favorite near-death quotations in this post. The people who wrote/spoke these are three Englishmen, two of whom were great thinkers and one of whom was a great fighter. All of them had a flare for dramatics and faith in God. Although they were not saints, and were in fact far from it, I find their words to be an inspiration, and perhaps you will too.
     When Isaac Watts, the great English hymnist and Non-Conformist theologian, became gravely ill with a lingering sickness that would eventually claim his life, he began to ponder why God allowed him to continue on in the world rather then allowing him to go immediately to his eternal reward. He was recorded as speaking the following paragraph of frustration and ultimate resignation: 

“I have been ready to say within myself, why is my life prolonged in sorrow? Why are my days lengthened out to see further wretchedness? Methinks the grave should be ready for me, and the house appointed for all the living. What can I do further for God or for men here on earth since my nature pines away with painful sickness, my nerves are unstrung, my spirits dissipated, and my best powers of acting are enfeebled and almost lost? Peace, peace, O Thou complaining spirit. Dost thou know the counsels of the Almighty, and the secret designs of thy God and thy Savior? He has many deep and unknown purposes in continuing his children amidst heavy sorrows, which they can never penetrate or learn in this world. Silence and submission become thee at all times.”

- Isaac Watts (1674-1748) 

    As Dr. Samuel Johnson the famous English essayist and lexicographer, was preparing to receive Anglican Last Rites on his death bed, he wrote and recited this prayer, which he asked God to accept with a spirit of humble submission, knowing that his sins and failings were many and great:
“Almighty and most merciful Father, I am now as to human eyes, it seems, about to commemorate, for the last time, the death of Thy Son Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. Grant, O Lord, that my whole hope and confidence may be in His merits, and Thy mercy; enforce and accept my imperfect repentance; make this commemoration available to the confirmation of my faith, the establishment of my hope, and the enlargement of my charity; and make the death of Thy Son Jesus Christ effectual for my redemption. Have mercy upon me, and pardon the multitude of my offenses. Bless my friends; have mercy upon all men. Support me, by Thy Holy Spirit, in the days of my weakness, and at the hour of death; and receive me, at my death, to everlasting happiness, for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    Just before the epic naval Battle of Trafalgar which saved Britain and Europe from Napoleonic domination, Lord Horatio Nelson, Admiral of the British Fleet, wrote the following prayer in his diary. Since his youth he had been of a religious inclination, and despite his less than sterling personal episodes, he did not hesitate to turn to God in his hour of greatest need:

"May the Great God, whom I worship, grant to my country, and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious Victory; and may no misconduct in any one tarnish it; and may humanity after Victory be the predominant feature in the British Fleet. For myself, individually, I commit my life to Him who made me, and may his blessing light upon my endeavours for serving my country faithfully. To Him I resign myself and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen. Amen. Amen."

- Horatio Nelson (1758-1805)

    As most of you probably know, he won the battle and died in combat that very day. For more information on Lord Nelson, please check out a new website for teens about this very interesting and influential figure in British history. One of the contributers on the site is also a commenter on this blog. Here is the link:

   Now to bring this post to a proper conclusion.....

"Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let your perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen."

Isaac Watts

Dr. Samuel Johnson

Lord Nelson


  1. Hi Pearl - What a fascinating post - clearly the result of some excellent research.

    I particularly liked Isaac Watts acceptance that God's purposes are greater than our human knowledge - a lesson most of us frequently need to be reminded of. Likewise, I like the honesty and humility of Samuel Johnson's prayer - characteristics which are so often lacking in many of us.

  2. It never fails to amaze me how great men view death. They seem resigned to it. That's not to say they are happy to die, just they seem to take comfort in their faith. That's something we can all take away, death isn't truly the end!

  3. Thank you, for the comments, everyone!

    @Chaplain c.z.: Indeed, the humility and resignation of Watts and Johnson are virtues we all could learn from. The research was well worth it :-)

    @The Last Churchillian: Welcome to the blog! I suppose one could say that a man proves himself to be "great" by the way in which he lives and dies. Truly great men turn to God and resign themselves to death. We all admire that.

    @Mack Hall: Amen, indeed!

  4. There is much profound thought here and more importantly wonderful examples of faith. Thanks for giving me the link, I will enjoy exploring this blog further in the future.


  5. Great post! I particularly enjoyed the Nelson one! ;-)
    It's interesting how faith gives a person such inner strength that they feel no anxiety when faced with the prospect of death...

    As always your writing is faultless- have you ever considered being a professional writer??

  6. Thank you, Effie Deans and Rae-Rae for reading and commenting!

    It really is amazing how people of faith were able to face the prospects of their own death with a sense of resignation and peace.

    @Effie: I'm so glad you came for a visit. I really admire the way your putting out those articles in defense of the UK on your blog. Please feel free to browse this blog whenever ye wish!

    @Rae-Rae: Thank you for your kind compliment, although I highly doubt my writing is "faultless". Just ask my dear friend, Emerald, official "Grammatical Guru" of this site! I have considered trying to become a professional writer, but it's a tough job, and most professionals wind up editing air conditioner manuals for a living in the end! We'll see ;-)

    God Bless,

  7. "I wonder what this button does?"
    (famous near-death quote) - unknown