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eight years of age met with Legh Richmond's "Young Cottager," which she read with avidity. The reading of this book led to her conversion to God, although never, from the time of her earliest recollection, was she destitute of conviction of sin. But, under the quickening influence of this little book, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit, these convictions culminated in conversion at this early age.
From this time she practised secret prayer with great regularity; and finding no quiet corner in the house available for her use, she, with another girl similarly minded, used to retire regularly every day to a secluded spot, and pour out her childish petitions.
At twelve years of age, so consistent was her life, and so marked her proficiency in prayer, that she would frequently pray publicly in a cottage prayer-meeting. At this time she and her sister were factory workers in her native town, and had to endure much persecution on account of their religion; for the elder sister, as well as Elizabeth, was accustomed to read the Bible and retire for secret prayer.
When in her teens Elizabeth went to domestic service, as also did her sister, in order to procure a decent maintenance and assist in supporting their mother. She spent nine years in service, with varying experiences, and then opened a small school, as her mother had done—going back home, indeed, to do this when her mother was too feeble to continue in the work. But after her mother's death Elizabeth was once more thrown upon the world homeless, and she again tried service. Thus she was driven about for some years, having no settled home, and was at times dependent almost on the charity of strangers for a shelter. Her way of life was always lowly, always humble, but full of unfailing trust and confidence in God.
At length she married, somewhat late in.life, a.labouring man, a widower, who had a little family and a smaller income. From this time it became her constant study how to live honestly in the sight of all men.
This was not an easy task; but her surroundings only served to show more brightly and more beautifully her godly life, in the midst of hard, grinding poverty. Family prayer was steadily maintained; the Sabbath was strictly kept; and not unfrequently, when her step-children were gone to the Sunday-school, she would follow, and, stealing quietly in, act as substitute to some class which was destitute of a teacher.
Not content with this, she commenced labouring as a tract distributor, and that most faithfully. Her district included some thirty houses, which, in later years, was increased to over sixty; and these houses were all regularly and faithfully visited once a fortnight with the zeal of an evangelist.
Always very poor in this world's goods, she was humble, prayerful, full of rich faith. Her conversation was literally and entirely about the Word; for she was so full of the treasures of the Bible and of Christian experience, that she could not speak one five minutes without turning the current of talk into a religious channel. There was not a text, nor a chapter, nor an obscure phrase, in the Bible but she was acquainted with; for the precious book was literally "the man of her counsel," " the lamp to her feet." Her feeling seemed to be that of Newton, when he wrote:
"Forgotten be each worldly theme,
In her tract district were to be found several poor old people, some of them Christians, others not, but all hastening down the hill of life. To these she was as the " messenger of good tidings;" for at many places she would regularly read her tracts to the recipients of them, while at others she would read the blessed Word and engage in prayer. She had not silver and gold to give these poor old, feeble, bedridden people; but such as she had she gave unto them. She had received largely of the Spirit's influence, and so she could minister to others. Some few at times laughed at her; for her earnestness and simple singleheartedness were so different from the general run of mankind, and even of professing Christians, that she seemed to them as "one that mocked." Still even these cherished a secret respect for the earnest, godly, whole-hearted Christian; feeling in their inmost hearts that they would give anything to be as secure upon the Eternal Rock of Ages as was she.
No luxuries ever came to her lot. Her greatest treat was to go to some tea-meeting, especially one intended solely for church-members, or to travel on foot to her native town, to renew the acquaintances of former years. To all these her coming was like the appearance of a fair green oasis in the desert of life; for the refreshment of her conversation and goodness was something to be remembered long, long after. And on such occasions the simplest fare was offered and received with thanksgiving. A slice of dry toast and a cup of tea, or a few potatoes, were her staple articles of diet, and formed her chief support.
To a friend, who occasionally gave her some little comforts, she once observed: "My heavenly Father has always ministered to my needs, but never to my nced-nots. What I have needed that He has given me; but what I have not needed has all my life long been withheld. I never had a sufficiency of income to buy anything save bare necessaries, and we have had to be very frugal with them; but God knows best. He has made me rich in faith, and beside and beyond all that, I am His adopted child; I shall come to my inheritance before very long."
Her work of tract distribution was never allowed to flag. No matter what the weather, or how weary her frame, she was faithful to the last, and as regularly as the day came she was to be seen with her basket going her rounds and serving her Master. She was like Mary of Bethany, lost to all considerations of worldly wisdom when her Master's work required to be done, or her Master's name to be glorified. More and more markedly her conversation was in heaven; and even those who knew her best noted how she grew in grace and faith. While among a party of friends one day she repeated a hymn expressive of her desire to be with her Lord. Said a listener: "Do you really feel like that? Do you long to be with Christ now?" To which she replied: "Oh yes; if it were this evening, I should welcome the summons. I do love Him; yes, I do love Him!" Eight days from that time she was in the presence of her Lord and Master.
The day on which she went her last round with her tracts was«bitterly cold and wintry. A north-east wind blew when this devoted tract-distributor started forth on her mission. A friend endeavoured to dissuade her from her intention, but she would not listen, saying: "I must not lose the opportunity of sowing the good seed in more than sixty families." So, with her basket on her arm, she trudged away on her errand of faith and labour of love. But it was for the last time. More than once she faltered before the cruel blast, but she finished her round, and then returned home to die. Inflammation of the lungs rapidly supervened, and her weak nature succumbed to it after the lapse of two or three days. But calmly, and even rejoicingly, she awaited the change. To a friend, who asked her how she felt in the near prospect of death, she replied in the words of a dear old hymn:
"Lord, when I quit this earthly stage,
Christian friends came around her, anxious to do everything in their power to alleviate her sufferings, and, if possible, to bring her back to health and strength. But it was all in vain. The long-waiting child was summoned home to the more immediate presence of that God whom she had so long followed. She passed away in a quiet sleep, exchanging earth for heaven without one struggle.
She was almost seventy years of age at the time of her
death. E. R. P.
% |)rapr for tbtxn irag anir all irag long.
IN the morning hear my voice,
Through the duties of the day,
When the evening sky displays
Be the thoughts of death to me
When the round of care is run, .'
Thus with Thee, my God, my Friend,
J. Montgomery. Bristol, Oct 25th, 1838.
"%croRrnrj' untts ftsas;" at, Htn |tefo gear's Carirs.
[ne New Year's day the post brought me two cards of greeting from distant friends. The first I opened had printed upon it a wreath of violets, within which the words were written, " A Happy New Year." I felt very grateful for the kind remembrance; but these words were not in tune with my feelings that day. The year just past had been a season of blighting sorrow; it had brought me one of those shocks of trouble which, more especially in our youth, leave us almost unable to believe in earthly peace or gladness for us again; and