Last Words of Saints

An old hymn says:

Teach me to live that I may dread; The grave as little as my bed;
Teach me to die, that so I may; Rise glorious at the Judgment Day.

Many times the dying words of believers have been recorded by family members and biographers. These expressions of faith and trust illustrate the mighty power of God at a time when human resources have been drained. In the sixteenth century there was a bloody purge of Christians in Scotland who died for their faith. Thousands of ministers and laymen suffered for Christ's sake. Many were hanged on the gibbet or slaughtered in cold blood. Some of these believers endured the torture of burning at the stake or being beheaded. The last words of these heroes and martyrs prove the truth of Christ's promise He made to His disciples. He warned them, "I am sending you out as sheep among wolves.... Yes, and you must stand trial before governors and kings for my sake. This will give you the opportunity to tell them about me, yes, to witness to the world" (Matthew 10:16-18, LB).

In their final hour of agony men and women who have suffered and died for His sake are given the words to say and the courage to die.

Patrick Hamilton was a young Scotsman, twenty-four years old, when he was condemned and sentenced to die. As he was hurried to the stake and the fire was burning he pulled off his outer garments and handed them to his servant, saying, "These will not profit me in the fire yet they will do thee some good." Hamilton was taunted by one of his persecutors to deny God, but answered, "Wicked man! Thou knowest I am not at guilt, and that it is the truth of God for which I now suffer."

As the fire burned, the young martyr called out, "How long, O Lord, shall darkness overwhelm this realm? How long wilt Thou suffer this tyranny of man?" As he was being consumed by the flames he prayed like the biblical Stephen, "Lord Jesus receive my spirit."

Donald Cargill was a bright star in the history of Scottish persecutions. He was condemned by the government as one of the most seditious preachers and a villainous and fanatical conspirator, and sentenced to the gallows. When he came to the scaffold, Cargill said these moving words, although it was said that the drums were beaten in an attempt to drown out his voice: Now I am near to getting to my crown, which shall be sure; for I bless the Lord, and desire all of you to bless Him that He hath brought me here, and makes me triumph over devils, and men, and sin ... they shall wound me no more. I forgive all men the wrongs they have done to me, and pray the Lord may forgive all the wrongs that any of the elect have done against Him. I pray that sufferers may be kept from sin, and helped to know their duty ... farewell reading and preaching, praying and believing, wanderings, reproaches, and sufferings. Welcome joy unspeakable and full of glory.

As Martin Luther was dying he repeated three times,
"Into Thy hands I commend my spirit!
Thou hast redeemed me O God of Truth."

John Milton's farewell was,
"Death is the great key that opens the palace of Eternity."

Lew Wallace, the author of Ben Hur, had a sentence
from the Lord's Prayer on his lips; "Thy will be done."

In his last will and testament Shakespeare said,
"I commend my soul into the hands of God my Creator,
hoping and assuredly believing,
through the merits of Jesus Christ my Savior,
to be made partaker of life everlasting;
and my body to the earth, whereof it is made."

Michelangelo's last words to those at his bedside were,
"Through life remember the sufferings of Jesus."

We do not know whether we will suffer for the cause of Christ. But throughout the world today there are people who are enduring cruelties and persecution because of their Christian faith. We must pray for them, and for ourselves, so that in our own dying hour God will give us grace to endure until the end, anticipating the certainty of His glory to come. 

Our Patient Merciful God
The Bible and the Gospel speak of God's great mercy for us ...

(Click title to read more)