If the following pages contained a mere roll and record of death-bed scenes, they would form a gloomy volume.
Such, however, is not their purpose. While the author has occasionally dwelt (as in the two opening chapters) on the closing hours of Scripture worthies--whenever incidents of note in connection with these are recorded--he has, in general, rather sought to make their "last days" the standpoint for a retrospective view of character and history. It has been his endeavor, mainly to inculcate, not so much lessons from death, as lessons from life viewed from this, its solemn termination. As an eloquent writer has remarked--"Death is often at once the close and the epitome of existence. It is the index at the end of a volume. All a man's properties seem to gather round him as he is about to leave the world." There is often, moreover, a mellowed glory surrounding the hour of dissolution. God's saints are like forest trees in their golden autumn tints--grandest in decay when the hand of death is on them. They often hear, like Bunyan's hero, distant bells from the land of Beulah. Ministering angels seem to bring down draughts from the river of life, to refresh their spirits in the closing conflict.