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EVENING OF LIFE;
Meditations and Devotions for the Aged.
REV. W. E. HEYGATE, M.A.,
AUTHOR OF "THE MANUAL: A BOOK OF DEVOTIONS FOR THE POOR,"
EVENING IS AT HAND,
SO ALSO HAS LIFE;
THE EVEN OF LIFE IS AGE,
AGE HAS OVERTAKEN ME,
MAKE IT BRIGHT UNTO US.
BP. ANDREWES' Order of Evening Prayer.
JOSEPH MASTERS, ALDERSGATE STREET,
AND NEW BOND STREET.
138. f. 128.
No directions have been inserted before the Devotions, when to sit, stand, or kneel during them; because they have been prepared for the aged and infirm. It is trusted, however, that the reader will do what he can to worship GoD acceptably, according to the strength continued to him, for God's glory and his own sanctification.
The price of the book will prevent its being given away generally by the Clergy; but the Writer hopes that those of his brethren who can pardon its defects, and who on the whole think it may be useful, will keep some copies by them to lend from time to time to the aged and the failing. He ventures to suggest, that in such cases a promise should be obtained that the reader will use the Devotions fully and regularly: otherwise, it is to be feared, that this book will only be an instrument of self-deception to many, like ordinary hearing and reading of sermons; and that such persons will fancy that they have acted religiously, whilst they were being exhorted to do so, and that they have prepared themselves to die, when they were but intreated to commence a due preparation.
The Clergy will readily recognise the sources from which the Prayers are taken, and will perceive that they are chiefly drawn from the Manuals of honoured men who, since the Reformation, have witnessed by their writings, prayers, and lives, to the unbroken descent of the English Church, and to her substantial unity in faith and love with the Church of the Fathers.
A slight alteration has been made here and there in the wording of the accounts given of the deathbeds of holy men and in those of V. Bede and of S. Demetrius, somewhat has been omitted or changed, to suit an uncontroversial and devotional book, which ought not needlessly to excite prejudices which it cannot pause to remove.
The scarceness and slightness of such changes manifest that substantial unity of conduct and affection which appears in the last hours of the Sons of the Church, die where they would, and when they would; and seem to prove them children of one family, brethren beloved in the LORD. We cannot but observe how that all are humble, all hopeful, and many joyful; how that all die in the peace of the Church, soothed by her prayers, reposing in her faith, and desiring her offices, especially the viaticum of the last great journey through the valley of the shadow of death; by alms, or spiritual acts of charity, expressing their love to GOD and man; whilst some, whether before or after the Reformation, whether S. Anselm, or Richard Hooker, are lost in deep contemplation of celestial things.
These seem to be notes of a saintly death-bed, and they appear all along the banks of the stream which flows through the city of GoD. There is in medi
tating on such scenes a repose from controversy and from alarm. They furnish us with the hope of deep rest on our own death-beds, if in our lives we have sought to follow those whose faith we inherit. It seems, when we are upon the confines of time, and are passing from it into eternity, that the things of time are lifted up like some cloud, and drift away, leaving a calm clear atmosphere, in which the Communion of Saints in CHRIST appears in a purer air an atmosphere, from which disputes and difficulties, excess and want, are absent; and wherein it would seem that they hold and do nothing too much for sanctity and its peace, and they nothing too little, who live and die in the faith of the Creeds, and in union with the Head through His Body the Church; in Whom all ages meet; Who "to this end both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be LORD both of the dead and living."
SOUTHEND. Septuagesima, 1856.