Premonitions of Death?

“A SUGGESTIVE INCIDENT. Theologians, physicians, and intelligent people of whatever calling, have recently had their attention directed to a remarkable death in South Auburn, Me. From the ‘oohing’ and behavior of a partridge, a man concluded that he would die on a certain day. On the day prophesied by the man himself, without accident or disease, he expired.

Are premonitions of death to be depended on? Does God sometimes forewarn through token and sign? Are these things, and other phenomena of that type, to be relegated to the realm of superstition and phantasy? While others are discussing these questions, I call your attention to a fact that seems hereby demonstrated, and yet is overlooked in the review of this case. It proves to me that the soul is master of the body, that the physical frame is an insignificant part of us.

This man’s mind commanded his body to let the soul loose, and it obeyed the mandate. You say that in this case of decease it was the power of imagination. Yes, imagination is only one finger of the soul, but the stroke of that finger broke the cord that bound body and spirit together. While this death, consequent upon the forebodings aroused by the partridge, proves the soul’s supremacy in one way. I have seen that supremacy demonstrated again and again in the opposite direction. Men have lived on through sheer determination ten years after, by all the laws of health and the decision of doctors, they ought to have died.

Every breath they took for long years was in defiance of anatomy and physiology. It was illogical for them to live after that it was proved that they must die. How do you account for this? The soul refused to be ejected. It said: “I have possession of these physical premises, and I am going to keep them. All your coughs, and your pneumonias, and your nervous prostrations, and your feeble circulation of blood, and your irregular action of the heart, cannot put me out until I choose to go.”

And the soul has, by sheer force, in many a case, kept the castle of the human frame. Sometimes in one way and sometimes in another way the soul declares its dominion over nerve, and muscle, and bone, and brain, and tissue, and an incident like this of which we speak, at South Auburn, Me., sets me to thinking as few things can. The body only an affix, or suffix, or adjunct, or servant to the mightier nature within us. The body perishable, the soul immortal. The body the slave, the soul the master. The body must walk, the soul may fly. The body for the ground, the soul for the heavens. The body for decades, the soul for millenniums.

Yet we all act as though the opposite were true, and the body were everything and the soul only an after-consideration. Although the soul is the permanent, and the body is the transient, we act as though the soul were the transient and the body the permanent As though what the body shall wear, eat, enjoy or suffer were of more importance than what the soul shall wear, eat, enjoy or suffer. Six days of the week for the body, one for the soul, and that one chipped off and abbreviated as though it was a prodigal expenditure for spiritual needs.

While the recent strange demise in South Auburn, Me., may send multitudes of people to guessing, and marvelous cases of presentiment will be called forth, and the superstitions will be led into darker superstitions, and that partridge in Maine will hatch out whole broods of partridges, as Edgar A.  Poe’s raven hatched out whole broods of ravens, to be seen on gusty nights by excited brains. Let us learn for ourselves the good, stout, healthful, Christian lesson of the overmastering spirit and our immortality.

We all need to put more stress upon the soul than upon the body, and calculate with more earnestness and persistence the destiny of that which shall live on after the house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved. Surely the tenant is of more importance than the tenement But how any one man consider the incident in South Auburn and be agnostic I cannot see. The soul flung the body and passed on. You cannot suppose that after the giant put down the pygmy, the conqueror ceased to exist. Our chief life and our grander residence is in the hereafter.

Will it be cold in Heaven?

Much of the year is pinched and frosted and frozen, so that it is evident this world was not intended for perpetual residence. From November and December frigidity we look away to the land of eternal May time. After a man has battled with a certain number of Winters his blood gets thin, and the result of many colds has weakened respiration and slackened the tides of crimson life, and it is refreshing to think of the vernal climes celestial. Indeed all of us, of whatever age, sometimes think we could well endure a more genial latitude. People go to the glades of Florida, or the South of France, to escape northern severities; but the time speeds on, it we are the children of God, when we shall all migrate into the groves of heavenly tropics.

And to prove there shall be no Winter there, I have but to quote the Bible statement, that ‘the tree of life bears twelve manner of fruits, and yields her fruit every month.’ That shuts out all the chill. That closes the gates against all the inclemencies. That means gardens of unending bloom. That means orchards of everlasting fruitage. A commingling of all that can make the place glorious. Many things about it we cannot know; but some things we do know. The lily will be there, for Christ is the Lily of the Valley. The rose will be there, for Christ is the Rose of Sharon. Foliage will be there, for trees of life are on either side of the river. Thrones there, for the redeemed shall reign for ever and ever.

And many who are now there will be ready to point out to us the finest features of the landscape, We will go right into their glorious and blest companionship, and the little child that has been there five minutes knows more than the oldest theologian still lingering on the earth. Amid all that rapidity of accumulating knowledge, amid all that grandeur of society, and never and never to say good-by, what a place Heaven must be! Through the grace of our Lord Jesus we are going there. No matter of guesswork, no perhaps, but everlasting certainty, “I know in whom I have believed.” Source: Frank Leslie’s Sunday Magazine; Rev. Thomas De Witt Talmage, D.D., (1832 – 1902) Editor; Jan. through June, 1884.

Additional Information:

“Two weeks ago, Lafayette Cook, of South Auburn, Maine, predicted his own death within a fortnight. Sunday morning he said he never would eat another breakfast; in the afternoon he appeared in usual health; at three o’clock he shaved, put on a clean shirt, laid down with one hand by his side, the other under his head, and never spoke or moved afterward. He was in a stupor until he died. It is not known that he took any drugs.”–The Chronicle; A Journal Devoted to the Interests of Insurance; 1883.