A man lay Dying. The world vanished from his sight, and he was left alone with the question, Whither art thou going?—that question filling him with fear and trembling.
He lay writhing on his bed of agony, when suddenly he beheld ten shapes closing him in, cold and pitiless—God's holy commandments. And one after another they lifted up their voice. The first saying, Unhappy man, how many gods hast thou allowed to enter into thy sinful heart? The second, How many idols hast thou set up in His stead? The third, How often hast thou taken the name of the Lord thy God in vain? The fourth, How hast thou kept the Sabbath day and caused others to keep it? The fifth, How hast thou honoured thy father and mother, and those that were set in authority over thee? The sixth, How hast thou acted by thy brother, doing unto him as thou wouldst he should do unto thee? And on they went, the ten of them, each with the voice of judgment, confounding his soul.
And the dying man, anguished and hopeless, had not a word to say. He felt convicted and knew he was lost. At last, he cried despairingly, I know I have sinned, but can you not leave me to die in peace?
And they made answer, We cannot leave thee unless One will take our place, to whom you shall yield yourself body and soul to all eternity, abiding by His judgment. Will you do that?
The sick man considered; he was afraid of the One even, and his heart, beating feebly, shook with fear. Yet at last, he said, I would rather have the One judge me since I cannot answer you ten.
And behold at his word the dread accusers vanished, and there appeared in their stead One, holy and compassionate, just and forgiving. And the dying sinner looked to Him. Death had a hold of him already, but he felt the breath of life. He remembered all at once what in far-off days he had heard of One dying for many, recalling the holy lessons of his childhood at his mother's knee, when she told him of the Lord that is mighty to save. He had forgotten it, living a life of folly and of sin; but it was coming back to him even now. And looking again, behold he knew Him that stood by his side.
And faith gathered strength, a smile of blessed trust lighting up his face; and with dying lips, he cried—Let me be thine. Lord—thine only—now and forever! Have mercy on me, O Christ, and redeem my spirit!
He sank in death, but peace had been given him.
Letters from Hell, L. W. J. S., Richard Bentley & Son, London, 1889