The editor of The American Wesleyan relates the following as a portion of his experience among the wounded in the hospitals:
“Not long since I was called to witness the following, which I will call ‘The Dying Soldier’s Dream of Childhood.’
“He was brought in mortally wounded, although by a false feeling of kindness one or two of the surgeons told him his wound was severe, but not dangerous. I thought it my duty to un-deceive him; and so, sitting down beside his lowly pallet, and taking his hand in mine while I brushed back the dark curls from his high, open brow, I tried to lead him easily into such a channel of conversation as I desired. I had not conversed long with him when he suddenly inquired what I thought of his prospects of recovery. Rather avoiding for the time giving a direct answer, I inquired how he felt himself in regard to that matter. He answered with considerable hesitation, that the surgeons told him he would get along nicely; but that he himself felt afraid that he would never recover. I noticed, too, that his lips quivered, and he drew a long, deep sigh. Then he turned his youthful, open face full upon me; he sighed again; there was a choking, fluttering sensation which told the intensity of his feelings, and he said, ‘If I was only at home!’ Poor boy! Many a hill, and valley, and mountain gorge, and broad river, lay between him and his home! And the loving ones there were all unconscious of his deep distress; and even before his name would appear in the list of killed and wounded of some daily paper, he would already be ‘where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.’ I spoke to him of the tender sympathy of the infinite Father, of the all-sufficient Savior, who was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, and how that a full and free salvation was offered to all through the death and sufferings of the Lord Jesus. I could not get him to say much, and so, tr praying with him, I left him for a time. In a few hours I called to see him again, and in the course of conversation endeavored to press home the momentous truths of salvation. At last he opened his mind freely, told me he thought he was once a Christian, that he sought an interest in Christ when a boy, and felt happy in the belief that he loved the Savior–that his happiest hours were spent in the Sunday school, and that he used to take delight in prayer and reading the Scripture.’I remember, too,’a he, ‘how my father prayed–O Chaplain! I had a good father–he’s in heaven now–how he prayed for me, that I might always be good. I remember the night that he died–and how happy he was, and how he sung “On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand,” and how he put his hand on my head and told me to serve God and meet him in heaven. O, if I was as good as my father was, it would be better with me now! I have forgotten my promises, I have turned my back on Christ. What shall I do? what shall I do? I’m dying–I know I’m dying, and I am afraid to die! O Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner!’
“I did not interrupt him till he had given full and free vent to his feelings, and then tried to point him to the all-sufficient Savior.
“‘Do you think God will have mercy on my poor soul?’ he exclaimed in such a piteous tone of voice and with such genuine earnestness, that my own feelings nearly overcame me, and I could barely say, ‘Yes, dear brother, God is ready now to bless you, to forgive you all your sins, and make you happy in the enjoyment of his love.’
“‘But I have neglected prayer and back-slidden from God; I sinned against light and knowledge; I knew better, Chaplain, I knew better, for my conscience troubled me; it was God’s Spirit striving with me,–yes, I knew better, for I once loved Jesus. O Jesus, have mercy on a poor sinner!’
“‘Hear God’s own answer to your question,’ said I. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” “God so loved the world that he gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.” Now, these words are as much addressed to you as if there were not another sinner upon earth. Take them as God’s own words to yourself, and remember that that dear Savior whom you say that you once served loves you yet, loves you now, and is yearning over you with the deepest sympathy. He waits to take away the heavy burden from your heart, and give you joy and peace in believing. Just come back as a poor wanderer, weary and helpless; and remember you are coming to your own God and Savior, who knows just what you need, and how you feel, and is more willing to receive you and forgive you than you are to return to him.’
“‘O, if I was just as happy as I once was! but now I’m here wounded and dying–and O, this awful pain–what will I do–what will I do–Jesus, Jesus, what will I do!’ he exclaimed in the deepest agony of body and mind.
“‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, cast your poor troubled soul upon the Savior, just place yourself as a poor helpless sinner in His hands, and you will be saved.’ said I, trying to lead his mind to the one only source of comfort.
“The agony of this poor boy was terrible. His pitiful groans sunk into my very heart, and made me feel as if I was entirely powerless to do him any good.
“lSomtimes it was difficult to tell whether his bodily or mental anguish was greater. Frequently the deep, agonizing groan of bodily pain uend in a most pathetic cry for mercy, or a child-like petition to be received into the favor of his heavenly Father. Sometimes he turned upon me such a pitiful, helpless look, such a look as a drowning child might cast towards its mother; aaaaaaaalook of unutterable meaning, but which plainly said, ‘I’m dying,–won’t you help me?’ Seeing that to all appearance he was rapidly sinking, I urged him to accept the free offer of reconciliation to God through the atonement of Christ, and after praying with him, I left him for a little time. An hour, perhaps, had elapsed, when I again was beside him. The first words he uttered were:
“‘I’m trying to come back to God, and I think that he will not cast me off; but I’m afraid.’
“‘I am going to ask you one question,’ said I; ‘but you must not answer it till you think over it. It is this: Do you think that God loves you?’
“He seemed to ponder the question a little, and then answered,—
“‘I think–I think He does.”
“‘Yes,’ I said, ‘He loves you dearly, and sympathizes with you in your great distress, and is so very anxious for your soul’s salvation that He is waiting even now, this moment, to forgive you all your sins and make you happy in His love. Can you take your own heavenly Father’s word, that “whosoever believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved!” Just trust in him; just throw yourself as you are,—a poor, helpless sinner,–into His hands, and you will be saved.’
“‘Is that all I’m to ?’ said he, musingly; ‘and yet what else can I do? Yes, yes; I think I see it all; I have been afraid to trust in the promises of God, I feel myself to be so unworthy; but now, Jesus, Savior, I come to thee, a poor, helpless sinner.
“Here, Lord, I give myself to thee–
‘Tis all that I can do.”
Yes, Lord, it is all that I can do!’
“Then followed a scene I shall never forget to my dying day. It was night. The temporary hospital was in an old, dark, dingy house. The candle burned dimly, and seemed, by its flickering, uncertain light, to make the gloomy surroundings all the more gloomy. The poor mangled soldier boy lay rolling uneasily from side to side. Large drops of cold sweat stood like beads on his open brow. A quivering sensation seemed to pass through every nerve and fibre of his body; and there was a long, deep, shivering sigh, which told of the very extremity of mortal anguish. His large bright eye grew dim, and seemed as if looking up from a great depth; and that mysterious change of color and feature took place, which tells that the wheels of life are about to stand still. Suddenly he threw out his arms and clasped me tightly round the neck as I stooped over him, and exclaimed, ‘What shall I do, O Chaplain, what shall I do?’
“‘Put your trust in Christ, your own Savior, who died for you,’ I replied.
“‘I do believe in Jesus,’ he said, ‘and I think He will save me; yes, He will save me! But O, what is this? am I dying now? Tell me, amd I dying?’
“‘Yes, you are dying, dear brother,’ I answered; ‘you will soon be in the spirit world. Is Jesus near you? Have you peace of mind?’
“‘It’s all over now,’ he whispered. ‘God has for Christ’s sake, forgiven me, a poor sinner; and he will take me to himself. Good by, Chaplain; good by.’
“He fell into a kind of stupor, or what might be called an uneasy slumber, and I sat by his side waiting and watching. He dreamed. He seemed to be again at home, mingling with loved ones, for he whispered the name of mother. Then he seemed to be praying, as if, a child again, he knelt at a parent’s knee and repeated his evening prayer. I stooped over him and listened attentively to every whisper. At last I caught a few disjointed sentences, as follows: ‘Our Father–who art–this night–I lay me–down–O Jesus–my Savior–take me–to heaven. Hallowed be–thy name–‘ There was then a pause, and a deep sigh. The angel of death had come! The golden bowl was broken, and the wheel stood still at the cistern! Poor mangled sufferer! he had found Christ; and his dream of childhood’s devotions gave place, we trust, to the brighter visions of glory and the songs of salvation!”
Originally posted 2009-09-17 19:18:17.