Andrew Jackson—“A Thoroughly Religious Man”

General Jackson was a thoroughly religious man during the greater part of his life, and during the period that elapsed between his Presidency and his death he became a communicant member of the Presbyterian Church.

As he grew older he grew more reverent inwardly—he had always been reverent outwardly. To Dr. Shaw, a friend of his old age, he stated that “for thirty-five years before my election to the Presidency I read at least three chapters of the Bible every day, which is far more than any of my detractors could say with truth of their own conduct in this respect.” It is also more than most of his biographers, including his present-day detractors, could say with truth! Jackson was always careful to observe outward religious duties, as going to church. “Without ever being a ‘Sabbatarian,” he was an observer of the day of rest and a church-goer.

On Sunday mornings he would say to his guests, “Gentlemen, do what you please in my house; I am going to church.”

JACKSON’S LAST DAYS:

On May 24, 1845, General Jackson partook of the communion in the presence of his family. He spoke much of the consolation of religion, and declared that he was ready for the final summons. “Death, said he after the ceremony was over, has no terrors for me. When I have suffered sufficiently, the Lord will take me to Himself; but what are my sufferings compared with those of the blessed Saviour—who died on the accursed tree for me? Mine are nothing.”

The end of his life was now at hand. Let us see how he met it, and what truly does appear, concerning it.

Parton has preserved certain pages of a diary kept by one William Tyack, whom he describes as being a friend and employe of the family, in which we are given an intimate personal account of the last days of the old hero:

Friday, May 30.—The general passed a bad night; no sleep; extremely feeble this morning. At nine o’clock, as is the custom, all the general’s family, except the few who take their turn to watch by his side, took their leave of him. Each of the family approached him, received his blessing, bade him farewell; kissed him, as it would seem, an eternal good night; for he would say, “My work is done for life.”

After his family retires, it is touching to witness this heroic man who has faced every danger with unyielding front, offer up his prayer for those whom Providence has committed to his care; that Heaven would protect and prosper them when he is no more—praying still more fervently to God for the preservation of his country, of the Union, and the people of the United States—from all foreign influence and invasion; tendering his forgiveness to his enemies, and his gratitude to God for His support and success through a long life—and for the hope of eternal salvation through the merits of our blessed Redeemer.

Saturday, May 31.—The general passed a distressed night; no sleep; extreme debility this morning, attended with increased swelling of the abdomen and all his limbs and difficulty of breathing. He said, “I hope God will grant me patience to submit to His holy will. He does all things well, and blessed be His holy and merciful name.” His Bible is always near him; if he is in his chair it is on the table by his side; when propped up in bed, that sacred volume is laid by him, and he often reads it.

He has no power and is lifted in and out of his sitting posture in bed to the same posture in his chair. Nothing can exceed the affectionate care, vigilance, and never-ceasing efforts of his pious and devoted family to administer to his relief; and yet, in the midst of the affliction which calls for so much attention and sympathy, kindness and hospitality to strangers are not omitted.

June 1.—This day, the general said, “is the holy Sabbath, ordained by God and set apart to be devoted to His worship and praise. I always attended service at church when I could; but now I can go no more.” He desired the family to go, as many as could, and charged them to continue the education of the poor at the Sabbath-school.

A part of the family went to church. The general looked out of the window and said: “This is apparently the last Sabbath I shall be with you. God’s will be done; He is kind and merciful.”

On Sunday morning, writes Dr. Esselman, “on entering his room, I found him sitting in his armchair, with his two faithful servants, who had just removed him from his bed. I immediately perceived that the hand of death was upon him. I informed his son that he could survive but a few hours. He was instantly removed to his bed, but before he could be placed there he had swooned away.”

“His family and servants, believing him to be dead, were very much alarmed, and manifested the most intense grief; however, in a few seconds reaction took place, and he became conscious, and raised his eyes, and said: “My dear children, do not grieve for me; it is true I am going to leave you; I am well aware of my situation; I have suffered much bodily pain, but my sufferings are but as nothing compared with that which our blessed Saviour endured on that accursed cross, that we might all be saved who put their trust in Him.”

Near the end, he delivered one of the most impressive lectures on the subject of religion that I have ever heard. He spoke for nearly half an hour, and apparently with the power of inspiration; for he spoke with calmness, with strength, and, indeed, with animation. I regret exceedingly that there was no one present who could have noted down his precise words.

In conclusion he said: “My dear children, and friends, and servants, I hope and trust to meet you all in heaven.”—Excerpts from; The True Andrew Jackson; By Cyrus Townsend Brady, LLD; 1906. Andrew Jackson (the 7th President of the United States) was born March 15, 1767 and died on June 8, 1845.

 

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