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'As it concerns herself. It is more than probable, that this beloved, this only child, stole away her heart from the Lord. Perhaps her visits to the throne of grace were less frequent than heretofore. Perhaps her anxiety for the future provision of this babe, made her omit or diminish her charities to the poor; made her question the providences of God; made her affections more earthly; her conversation more savouring of the things of time and sense; and, in short, induced a train of conduct, all tending to lead the heart more from God, and not bringing it, (as ought to have been the case,) to God. And was it not then, think you, among the choicest' mercies of David,' to remove the cause of all this evil? Was it not time for God to recal his gift, when that gift formed a cloud on the mind to hide the hand of the Giver?
'And as it refers to the sweet babe. Supposing the most favourable thing which can be supposed, that it was a child of grace, a child of many prayers; are the 'sure mercies of David' altered in their property, because those prayers are answered, and Jesus hath housed a lamb of his fold beyond the reach of the prowling lion, or the ranging bear? Say,ye long tried, long exercised soldiers in the Redeemer's army! are the summer's heat and the winter's cold, the furious assaults of the enemy without, and the distressing fears within, so very desirable, that you regret the close of the campaign? Oh! how much the reverse! And who knows but that the gracious Lord, reading in the index, the whole volume of this infant's life, in mercy shut the book, to stop at once the parent's anxiety, and her offspring's sufferings. Thus then, here is at once a whole chapter of mercies; mercies to the old, mercies to the young; and nothing but mercy to all, both in time and eternity. And where is the cruel parent, that would retard the flight of his child under such circumstances; and hinder it from taking wing, to meet the Lord in the air? Surely, might the infant say, in just reproof to such mistaken fondness !' If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I go to my Father!'
'And what.if we reverse the circumstances, (for grace is not hereditary,) let that parent determine, for none else can determine, what it must be to see a graceless child rising up in life, in spite of all our remonstrances, all our prayers—at once regardless of his present peace, and future happiness.—Oh! how awful!'
As my friend uttered these words, a crowd of persons ran across the street in which we were walking, which excited our curiosity to inquire into the cause. The information was a sad one, — A youth, it seemed, unable to brook the various disappointments, which a long pampered habit of false education had induced, dared to defy Omnipotence, by putting a period to his earthly existence. The crowd was running to behold the unhappy object. As for me and my companion, we both stood motionless, struck with horror.—At length my friend recovered himself and broke silence. ' Dread Lord !' (he cried,) 'what an awful world is this, through which thy people are passing! How close we walk on the confines of everlasting misery, while in the very moment we are the monuments of thy saving mercy !'—Blessed God, (he exclaimed,) write, I beseech thee, that solemn truth upon my heart; they that are kept, ' are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.'—' Oh! what a lesson is here, my brother, (he cried,) for the sorrowful mother whom we just now noticed! And what would this young man's parents give, (for perhaps he may have both to survive him,) had her case been their's I'
My heart was too full to reply. I felt all that kind of sensation which the poet entered into, to the contemplation of a subject so hopeless and awful, when he said—
Then if it be an awful thing to die, How horrid yet to die by one's own hand!
, It was sometime before I prevailed on myself to remove from the spot of this awful scene. But at length I caught the arm of my companion, and we walked away together towards the end of the street, which terminated in the fields. We had gone a considerable space, without any conversation; the minds of both being, I imagined, fully absorbed in ruminating on a subject, that was beyond all others the most distressing! For my part, the circumstance had awakened in my breast a train of thoughts, which tended to dissipate all my new-formed hopes. What, (I said to myself,) if an end so horrible should be at length the termination of my pilgrimage? What if all my fond desires of grace should ultimately prove a delusion? Are the people of God exposed to such overwhelming temptations of the enemy? May they really be awakened to the life of God in the soul, and yet finally fall away?
I found these, and the like distrustful ques- 'tions, involuntarily arising in my mind, and inducing much anxiety; when my friend, as if privy to what passed within me, broke silence. 'How gracious, (he exclaimed,) is our God, in the midst of such awful judgments, as are walking by our side, through the world, to keep us unhurt! Do you not perceive the evidence of that scripture; 'A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee; only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked*?' Oh! it is a blessed, soul-reviving thought, amidst all the melancholy proofs around us, that we are passing through the enemy's territories, that there is a gracious nevertheless in the covenant which screens us from his malice. 'Nevertheless, (says the
* Psalm xci. 7, 8.