Death-bed repentance

(Gorham Abbott, "The Family at Home", 1833)

"They shall look on Him whom they have pierced,
 and shall mourn." Zechariah 12:10

    Repentance is the tear of love,
    dropping from the eye of faith,
    when it fixes on Christ crucified.

Repentance begins in the humiliation of the heart, and
ends in the reformation of the heart and of the life.

Sincere repentance is never too late, but late repentance
is seldom sincere. The thief on the cross repented, and was
pardoned in the last hour of his life. We have one such
instance in scripture—that none might despair; and only
one
—that none might presume.

Still, however, the probability that apparent repentance,
which comes at a dying hour, will be genuine, is very small.
The following fact will furnish an affecting illustration of this
sentiment, and a solemn warning against the too common
delusion of deferring the work of repentance to a dying bed:

The faithful and laborious clergyman of a very large and
populous parish had been accustomed, for a long series of
years, to preserve notes of his visits to the afflicted, with
remarks on the outcome of their affliction—whether life or
death, and of the subsequent conduct of those who recovered.
He stated, that, during forty years, he had visited more than
two thousand people apparently drawing near to death, and
who revealed such signs of penitence as would have led him
to indulge a good hope of their eternal safety—if they had
died at that moment.
When they were restored to life and
health—he eagerly looked that they should bring forth fruits
fit for repentance. But alas! of the two thousand, only two
people manifested an abiding and saving change! The rest,
when the terrors of eternity ceased to be in immediate
prospect, forgot their pious impressions and their solemn
vows—and returned with new avidity to their former worldly
mindedness and sinful pursuits, "as the dog returns to its
vomit again, and as the sow that was washed to its
wallowing in the mire."