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Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, the second son of Charles Bonaparte, assessor of the royal tribunal of the island of Corsica, was born at Ajaccio in 1769. He had an eventful career equaled by few of the human race. During his ascendance he rose from comparative obscurity to the Emperor of France, King of Italy, and virtual Controller of Naples, where he placed his brother Joseph on the throne. Answerable also was Holland, with his brother Louis on the throne; Westphalia, with Jerome Bonaparte on the throne; and Spain as well.
The height of his fame was reached in 1812, when he assembled the largest army ever led by a European general. At the head of 500,000 well-trained men he passed into Russia. Though he was unconquered by legions of soldiers, the frost of a Russian winter compelled him to commence a precipitous retreat. The greater part of his mighty army perished in the snow, or found a grave in the icy waters of Beresina. Thus we see that "God's ways are behind the scenes, and He moves the scenes He is behind."
From this time "the little corporal" seemed to have passed over the summit of his hill of fame. Gradually he descended its sorrowful steeps, reaching the eventful turning at Waterloo on 18th of June, 1815, and the tragic terminus on lonely St. Helena in 1821.
Napoleon Bonaparte's remains were brought to France on board a man-o'-war in 1840, and placed under the dome of the Invalides at Paris. After lying there for more than sixty years, it was rumored that the body was not there. Some even assumed that Napoleon had taken an Enoch-like form, and "was not found, because God had translated him" (Hebrews 11: 5). The power of rumor at last asserted itself—the marble lid was lifted, and it was officially certified that the body was still there.
But, friend, it will not lie forever in this splendid mausoleum. Be assured that "the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:28, 29). The dead, small and great, shall stand before God.
Concerning Napoleon in life, the opinions held are as numerous and conflicting as his many biographers. Concerning Napoleon in resurrection, we are safe in asserting: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). Concerning the person whose eye now runs along these lines of type, we can speak with more certainty.
(1) For God's Word declares as to your present: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36). If here and now, like the chief of sinners, you realize that "the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20), and "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," you will be "saved" (Acts 16:31).
(2) As to your resurrection, if through faith in the Son of God you have been "born again" (John 3:7), and become a "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17), as "every good tree bringeth forth good fruit" (Matthew 7:17), you shall be in "the resurrection of life." If you refuse Him that speaketh from heaven, and remain in your sins, then as "a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit" (Matthew 7:17), you shall be in the "resurrection of damnation."
Ponder solemnly these words, and whatever may be the eternal future, wherever Napoleon the Great may be at this moment, make certain that through faith in "the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:19), you are begotten "to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you."