As for peace in the hour of death, he who is not pardoned living is not likely to be pardoned dying. Nine out of ten, perhaps nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand of professed death-bed salvations are a delusion. We have good facts to prove that. A certain physician collected notes of several hundreds of cases of persons who professed conversion who were supposed to be dying. These persons did not die but lived, and in the case of all but one they lived just as they had lived before, though when they were thought to be dying they appeared as if they were truly converted. Do not look forward to that, it is a mere snare of Satan.
But it is a sorrowful fact that those which seemed to be death-bed repentances have seldom turned out to be worth anything when the men have recovered. In fact, I do not remember a case in which the person who recovered has been at all what he said he would be when he thought that he was on the borders of the grave.
We once read, in Scripture, of one who was saved at the last,—the dying thief on the cross; and it has been well said that there was one that none might despair, but only one that none might presume.
Put no trust in death-bed repentances; they are of all things the most deceitful. Every thief repents when he comes to the prison, and every murderer will leave a word of repentance on his pathway to the gallows. It is no sign of the heart being set right to cry and groan when you are coming near your punishment.
Some, but oh! how few, have witnessed the good confession in the hour of death. A soldier in the army of the Potomac, of whom I somewhere read, was taken to the rear to die. He was badly wounded; he was also suffering from fever. Someone had told him, just before the fever came on, of a soldier found asleep at his post who was condemned to die. The poor fellow, in his delirium imagining that he was that soldier, cried out to the doctor who was attending him, “Sir, I am to be shot to-morrow morning; and as I wish to have all right, I want you to send for the chaplain at once. I want to see him.” The doctor, to calm his fears, said “No, no; you are not to be shot to-morrow morning; it’s a mistake.” “Oh! but I am,” he said; “I know I shall.” “But I will be here,” said the doctor, “and if anyone comes to touch you, I will have him arrested. I will take care you shall not die.” “Is it so, doctor?” said he, in calmer accents, “then you need not send for the chaplain; I shall not want him just yet.” So the truth came out that fear, not faith, animated him, though it was but spoken in a feverish dream.
Are ye mad enough to imagine that, whether ye have an interest in Christ or not, is a question that may be solved in a few minutes in a fearful emergency upon a dying bed?
Little hope have I for deathbed repentances. Never trust to them, I beseech you. Such a vestibule as a deathbed you may never have. To die in the street may be your lot. Should you have a deathbed, you will have something else to think about besides religion.