« AnteriorContinuar »
unwell as iuduced her to say, that she helieved her funeral sermon would be the next that would be preached in that chapel. This presentiment was literally accomplished, for her, the next sermon of that description was preached in our chapel, and it was by the same preacher. Her disorder settled upon her lungs, and brought on consumption, which rapidly did the work of destruction upon the now feeble body, and quickly took down the clay tenement. But amidst the ravages of disease, that God whom she had served in the days of health did not leave her to grapple with affliction in her own strength; O no, her language was,—
"The anchor of my stedfast hope
Her leader, and other friends, frequently called to see her, to converse and pray with her, and invariably found her in the possession of unshaken confidence in the mercy of God, and enjoying serenity and peace of mind which words cannot describe, Our sister desired to join in the divine ordinances, and expressed a wish that the Sunday class might meet in her house, which was cheerfully complied with, and this was made a great blessing both to her and to all the members of the class. In each of the meetings the Divine presence was manifested in such a degree as to render the place like being in the very suburbs of heaven. The writer had the privilege of meeting the class on Sunday the 1st of November, and never will he forget while memory retains her seat, with what power and force of language she spoke of the goodness of God, and of the all-sufficiency of his grace to enable her to bear all she was called to pass through. She then remarked, that it was twenty weeks that day since the commencement of her affliction, and with sweet resignation to the Divine will, said, she was willing to suffer twenty weeks longer if God saw good to order it so; and added—
"What are all my sufferings here,
On the following Wednesday the writer called again, and found her labouring under sore temptation and painful exercise of mind; her husband and four small children were as a ponderous load upon her heart, and she found it hard work to surrender them up to Divine providence: but during this painful conflict, the "Sun of Righteousness" shone through the clouds that strove to hide his face, and maintained sovereign sway over her affections, strengthened her confidence in his love, and enabled her to say—
"Give joy or grief, give ease or pain,
She then prayed most fervently that God would enable her to give up those who were so entwined around her heart; and the Lord graciously granted her request: her mind was now delivered of its load, and filled with perfect peace; her heart also was filled with gratitude to God, and her tongue with praise; and with the greatest pleasure she related the happy event to all the friends who called at her house. The whole train of her affections were now placed on things above, and her language was—
"Not a cloud doth arise
On the afternoon of Christmas-day a prayer meeting was held in her house, when, from the brink of death, with a shrill and powerful voice she gave out two of her favourite verses,—
"Jesu, lover of my soul,
Let me to thy bosom fly;
While the tempest still is high:
Till the storm of life is past;
O receive my soul at last.
Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on thee;
Still support and comfort me.
All my help from thee I bring;
With the shadow of thy wing."
While these lines were being sung, there was such a display of the Divine influence and presence as melted every heart, and drew forth floods of tears of joy and gratitude from each worshipper, which will not soon be forgotten. After this period she sunk rapidly, and became so weak as not to be able to speak so as to be understood without the greatest attention being paid to what she said. To a former mistress, with whom she had lived nearly eight years, who called to see her, she related in grateful strains how merciful and kind the Lord was unto her, and the bright prospects she had of approaching glory; and added, " although it is with difficulty that I can now make you understand me, yet I believe the Lord will restore my voice so as to enable me to shout 'glory' with my dying breath :" and it was done according to her faith. Her debility became so great as not to admit of the class meetings being continued any longer in her house, and the last meeting of that kind which was held there will long be remembered by all who were present: such a profitable season was scarcely ever enjoyed by any of them before. A few days after, one of the daughters of her former mistress, before referred to, called to see her, and found her so feeble as not to be able to move without help, yet happy in God; and when she was leaving, Mrs. Fanshaw said, "Tell your mother I am going on my way rejoicing.'' The closing scene was fast approaching, and the writer of this called four days previous to her death, once more to witness the triumphs of Divine grace, over death and hell. She was just ready to enter the portals of the heavenly inheritance: on my saying " you will soon be with Jesus," she, with great emotion, said, " I shall." After prayer, with indescribable feelings, I took my leave, conceiving it was my last interview with her until—
"I arrive on that eternal shore,
Soon after ten o'clock on Saturday night a change took place, and it became evident she was entering the dark valley of the shadow of death, which to her was gilded by the light of Jehovah's countenance. Her mother watched with her, to whom she said, " Mother, there is a 'crown of bright glory waiting for me,' and I am now going to receive it at the hands of the Lord;" and she exhorted her parent to prepare for the same felicity. Asking for a little water, on receiving it, she said, "I am going where I shall never hunger or thirst more— where I shall drink of the water of life for ever; and this weary body will be for ever at rest, and the Lord will for ever wipe away all tears from my eyes ;" and shortly after added, "The Lord is now working his will in me, and he will soon take me to himself—come Lord Jesus, and come quickly."
Early on Sunday morning one of the brethren called, and inquired if she was still happy? She replied, "Yes, yes;" and taking hold of his hand, desired him to engage in prayer. He called again in an hour, and found her mother weeping at the bedside, she said, " Don't fret mother, all is well, all is well. Come and take thy poor dust Lord, but give me patience a little longer." Soon after this, two other friends called; she made motions for them to pray, and during prayer she was in an agony of devotion, continuing in earnest supplication even after they had ceased; her eyes sparkling all the time as with a ray of heavenly glory. In about ten minutes after this agony had ceased, she lifted up her hands, and clasping them together, shouted with all the remaining strength which she possessed, Glory! Glory! And in a few minutes more, without a struggle or a groan, her happy spirit took its flight to the paradise of God, on Sunday, the 7th of February, 1841. Aged twenty-eight years.
"Thus may we all, our parting breath,
A SERMON ON THE WITHERED LEAF.
"We all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities like the wind, have taken us away."—Isa. lxiv. 6.
Spiritual instructions are frequently conveyed to us in the Scriptures by images drawn from natural objects. In no book are the objects of nature more frequently introduced, for the explanation, the enforcement, and the illustration of truth, than in the book of God. To the eye of the inspired writers creation seems to have unfolded itself as one vast book of symbols, from which they read lessons to man adapted to the various junctures of life. This book of symbols may be said to have four chapters or leaves—the spring and the summer, autumn and winter. So far as the present year is concerned, the lessons of the spring, and the summer, and the autumn, are ended; its solemn lesson the winter is now reading. The fields that a short while ago were waving with their golden produce, are now barren and bare; the skies that were sunny and warm, are now cloudy and cold; the flowers that, wet with dew, opened their leaves to the sun, or shed their spicy fragrance on the winds, broken in their stem, and bruised in their leaves, are now fast turning into dust and dishonourable ashes; the trees of the wood and the field are now stripped of their foliage—their leaves that were lately fresh and green, now withered and brown, are falling to the ground, while the few that remain upon the branches seem but to wait for a ruder blast when they also shall be carried away. Such is the condition of the natural world: between this condition and our own is there any analogy? Is the condition of nature in any respect symbolic of our own? It is. The prophet in our text takes up a withered leaf, and, entering with it as it were into an audience of his countrymen, addresses them in these words—" We all do fade as a leaf." A withered leaf, then, is now to be our preacher. What are some of the truths it procluims, and in which it is wisely adapted and mercifully intended to instruct us? It instructs us in the following :—
1st. The Frailty and shortness of life.
What object in nature is frailer than a withered leaf adhering to the bough by a single thread, and ready to be carried away by the first and feeblest breath of wind. Not more frail, however, is the withered leaf even, than is man that is born of a woman. Consider him in infancy: what object more frail than a human weakling—the infant in the cradle—the babe at the breast! Is it not the very type of all weakness and all frailty—full of wants, yet without the smallest power to supply them or to make them known ; exposed to dangers which he does not foresee, and which, if he did, he could not control? If others do not feed him, he must perish of hunger; if others do not give him drink, he must perish of thirst; if others do not clothe him, he must perish of cold. Surely on the whole earth there is not a creature more frail and more helpless! Consider him in the pride and vigour of manhood: even in this period of life, how like a leaf wasted and driven by the wind! When he imagines his mountain stands strong, and that nothing can move him—when he exalts himself as a god, how weak, indigent, and insufficient—subject to every breath and to everv blast I Is he on the sea?—see how its waves whirl him where they will! Is he on the land ?—see how the winds scorn his bidding, the storm how it mocks his prospects, the hurricane how it lays his dwelling in ruins! thus, even when standing, is he not liable to fall—when rich to become poor—when strong to become weak? In life is he not every moment liable and ready to die? Thus poor is man in his best estate; thus sure is it that "each man is vanity." Consider him in old age: is the withered and wasted leaf of winter more withered or more wasted? His eyes how dim, his ears how dull, his limbs how shrunken, his breathing how short and how difficult; how like a walking shadow, a living death; the evil days have come upon him, he is fallen into the "sere and yellow leaf!" Such is man, in infancy, manhood, and old age ; nor is he thus frail only, but how shortlived as well as frail! To denote the shortness of man's existence, it is Jeremy Taylor, we think, who remarks that the wise men of the world have contended, as it were, who should denote its shortness by the fittest figures. By one it is likened to a shadow; by another to the shadow of a shade; by another to a vapour; by another to the swift ships; by another to the eagle that hasteth to its prey; by another to the weaver's shuttle: the day casts it to the night, and the night to the day, till the web of life is spun, and cut from the beam of time. By the prophet it is compared to a leaf. Short is the duration of a leaf: such, however, is the life of man—as short in its duration as it is frail in its texture and fading in its kind. In the withered leaves, then, that at this season of the year are strewing your path, see, my brethren, the emblem of your condition. Think not more highly of yourselves than you ought to do: look to that withered leaf; like it you are frail, and like it you are fading, and like it you will soon be carried away for ever. If you shall be more deeply impressed with these truths this day than you have hitherto been; if you shall form a truer estimate of your condition than you may have hitherto done: if you shall be instructed more fully in, or be impressed more deeply with, the frailty and shortness of life, this leaf will not have faded and fallen, nor shall we have discoursed from it to you this day, in vain. But not only does the withered leaf instruct us in the conditions of life, it instructs us also in the conditions of death: and this it does,
2nd. In the nature of death.
A leaf that, having withered on the tree, has fallen to the ground, is a separated, a disunited thing. It is disunited from its parent tree, it is separated from its sister leaves. Such is death. It is a separation, a disuniting ; it is the separation, first of all, of the soul and body. As the union of soul and body constitutes natural life, the separation of soul and body constitutes natural death. This separation every man iiving must undergo: fatal to man is the neglect of this great truth.