Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What Does a Man Think Before He Dies?

Written on the 15th Chapter of Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians by the late James K. Whitman, sometime in the weeks before his death in 1894. James attended the St. Michaels Episcopal Church (pictured below) church as a boy with his family in Oakfield, Genesee County, New York in the 1850s. He moved west with his bride and young family, settling in Delaware County, Iowa. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church at his death.
"What thinketh a man? So is he..."

Is there no God, no life beyond the tomb,
No joy, no light, but a perpetual gloom.
When we shall in the grave’s dark portals lie,
All there is left for man, to live, to toil, to die,
The few brief pleasures of this world to share,
The glory and the grandeur of it’s toil and care,
Why strain our minds and discipline our lives,
If the cold tomb shall end this earthly strife.
Why shall we, for another’s sake deny,
The joys of life, its comforts, tell me why,
If there no resurrection morn shall be,
And life shall end to all eternity.
If the dark confines of the silent grave,
Christ entered here, has he no power to save?
To rise triumphant to the realms of light,
To conquer death and hell or errors black as night,
There is a God of life, and being free,
All space doth occupy in Him and wisdom see,
With power omnipotent he doth existence fill,
All life, all light were given at His will,
The sun, the moon, He gave creation birth,
And filled with joy the utmost bounds of earth,
By sending Christ, Redeemer, Savior, Son,
To die upon the cross for sins that man hath done,
So great his love of us he shed his precious blood
And made us white as snow by washing in the flood,
He died to live again, entered the silent grave,
And then triumphant rose, a world from sin to save,
As He the victory won and took from death the sting,
So we shall rise at last and full salvation bring,
By giving unto Christ our love, our life, our all,
And coming to his cross in deep contrition fall,
Take thou our lives, we pray, our bodies take them too,
And make us pure in thought and give us grace anew,
Worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost praise,
And trust in Him till death shall end our days,
Then sanctified, redeemed, immortal shall we rise,
To sing the songs of praise forever in the skies.

The Manchester Democrat, Manchester, Iowa
June 6, 1894

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