Riches! Beauty! Pleasure! Genius! Fame!

(Hannah More, "Practical Piety" 1811)

To the dying bed we must all inevitably come.

Those who are brought to serious reflection by the
salutary affliction of a sick bed, will look back with
astonishment on their former false estimate of
worldly things.

Riches!  Beauty!  Pleasure!  Genius!  Fame!

What are they in the eyes of the sick and dying?

Riches! These are so far from affording them a
moment's ease, that it will be well if no remembrance
of their misuse aggravate their present pains. They
feel as if they only wished to live that they might
henceforth dedicate their riches to the purposes for
which they were given.

Beauty! "What is beauty?" they cry, as they consider
their own sunken eyes, hollow cheeks, and pallid
countenance. They acknowledge with the Psalmist
that, "You make his beauty to consume away like
a moth: surely every man is vanity." Psalm 39:11

Genius! What is it? Without faith, genius is only a
lamp on the gate of a palace. It may serve to cast
a gleam of light on those outside, but the inhabitant
sits in darkness.

Pleasure! That has not left a trace behind it.

Fame! Of this their very soul acknowledges the
emptiness. They are astonished that they could
ever have been so infatuated as to pursue a
shadow, to embrace a cloud. They now rate
at its true value the fame which will be so
soon forgotten in death.

As we approach the 'land of realities', the 'shadows
of this earth' cease to interest or mislead us.

The films are removed from our eyes.

Objects are stripped of their false luster.

Nothing that is really little any longer looks great.

The mists of vanity are dispersed.

Eternal things assume their proper magnitude,
for we behold them with a true vision.

We have ceased to lean on the world, for we
have found it both a broken reed and a spear.
It has failed us, and it has pierced us.

We lean not on ourselves, for we have long known
our own weakness. We lean not on our virtues, for
they can do nothing for us.

But we know in Whom we have trusted. We look
upward with holy but humble confidence to that
Great Shepherd, who having long since led us into
green pastures, having corrected us by His rod,
and by His staff supported us, will, we humbly
trust, guide us through the dark valley of the
shadow of death, and safely land us on the
peaceful shores of everlasting rest!