Imágenes de páginas

light is almost out, and I must do good while I can. I am as low in my horizon as yonder sun now is. But while I am here, I would give light to the last. It has always been my prayer, that I might sink to my bed as that glorious Luminary does now, useful to the latest moment, and unshadowed by a cloud. God save me from the empty, shattered remnant of existence, which would be a weariness to myself and a burden to others. Yet I fear that the prayer will not be granted, and it will try my patience and faith to have it denied. But His will be done! You," continued he, "are like that sun in his rising, rejoicing in the prospect before you of a day of light and glory, of a work of beneficence and love, in which you shall cause righteousness and piety to bud and become fruitful. It is an excellent and most blessed work! Enter it and prosper! May God be your light, and honor you abundantly in the kingdom of his dear Son."

He rose from his seat, and, leaning upon me, entered the room where the family were sitting. "We always pray at sun-setting," said he. The ancient family Bible was brought forward, from which a chapter was read, upon which he made a few remarks, and then uttered a fervent prayer. seemed to come from a patriarch's lips, and to be instinct with the devotion of that future world, on whose borders he stood.


We retired early to rest, and arose with the sun on the morning of the Sabbath. The trembling voice of the aged servant of Christ mingled with the early stirrings of the morning breeze, and welcomed, in the animated accents of praise, the blessed recollections of holy time. His whole air was serene, tranquil, and thoughtful. He seated himself again by the door of his cottage, and remained there, musing and conversing at intervals, until we were summoned to the public service.

[ocr errors]

My attention had been so much diverted from myself, and my mind so interested in the conversation and character of this good old man, that I passed through the trial of my opening ministry with far happier feelings than I had anticipated. When the exercise was concluded, he arose in his place, and reminded the church that the emblems of their Master's love awaited them. "Would to God," said he, in his feeble, tremulous voice, while he turned his eyes around upon the congregation "would to God that ye were all disposed and ready to partake of them. My infirmities warn me that this is the last time they will be dispensed by my hand. Ah, why are ye not all waiting to receive them? For more than half a century have I broken this bread here. How often, in that long period, have I entreated and urged you all to come and partake! I have warned, and admonished, and pleaded with you, even unto tears. And yet how many of you suffer me to leave you, and carry up with me, when I go hence, the sad story that you have no mark of gratitude for a Savior's love, no obedience for a Savior's dying command. You are willing to oppress my last hours with the bitter thought, that for many of you I have labored in vain; and, though I have loved you here, I may hardly hope to join you again in the eternal communion with the saints. Dear friends, let it not be thus. I stand here to bid you farewell. Who of you is willing that it should be eternal? Who of you would part, never to meet again? I hope and pray for better things. I will hope that, although we have not sat down together here, we shall be permitted to do it hereafter. And let me ask of you, for this once at least, this last opportunity, not to leave me; but remain, one and all, to witness, though you do not participate. Who can tell how it may please God to manifest himself to you? Who can tell, while we all join our prayers and devotions

for the last time, what influence may descend to bless us? Who can tell but our remaining together now, may be the omen that we shall be prepared to meet in a higher state?"

The effect of this unexpected address, delivered with quivering lips, and the piercing accents of deep and earnest feeling, was irresistible. Not one of the congregation left his place. The minister descended to the table, and an affecting service ensued, whose deep and touching solemnity I have never seen surpassed. Many there were, who, like myself, received impressions that never passed away. And many, I doubt not, will be found at the supper of the Lamb in heaven, who, but for that hour's holy and overwhelming feeling, had never sat at his table on earth.


Ir will not be thought surprising that, by the scene which I described in the last chapter, Mr. Carverdale was entirely exhausted. While the excitement of the occasion lasted, he looked and spoke with almost the animation of youth. But, when it was over, he sank down, weak, trembling, and nearly fainting. The old cords had been stretched more than they could bear, and lost their tone forever. When the people had dispersed, he attempted to rise from his seat and fol low them, but was unable. Several of his friends advanced to his assistance. "The light is almost burned down," said he, in a voice scarcely audible; "might it only go out here at the altar, how privileged I should be!" Some one expressed a hope that it might be yet continued for a season to the benefit of his church. He shook his head. "No,"

[ocr errors]


said he; "and why should I wish it? It is only a flickering, fitful flame. It may brighten a moment to-day, but will be dim again to-morrow, and cheer no one. No; my poor flock need a vigorous flame, a burning and shining light. I am wasted. And if it please my God soon to remove me to a place among the stars of the firmament, why should I lament, or why should you? For I have that hope; I thank God, I have that hope."

This he said with frequent interruptions, showing that his spirit was stirring, though his body was weak. He seemed unable to say more, and was carried in the arms of his friends to his house, and placed in bed. He fell into a sleep, which the physician declared to be the prelude of death, and which he said it would be useless and cruel to disturb by attempting to prolong life. "The machine," said he, "is worn out, and will gradually come to a stop."

He remained in this state, apparently unconscious of what was passing around him, until I was summoned to the afternoon service. In the same state I found him on my return. In the mean time, the report had obtained currency among his parishioners, that their minister was dying. With affectionate concern they crowded around his dwelling, and manifested the strongest sense of his worth, and liveliest gratitude for his past services. Never have I known eulogy more eloquent than that which I read in their tearful eyes and whispering voices, as they stood silently waiting, or anxiously conversing, before the door and beneath the windows. Their sound was distinctly heard in the chamber, as I stood with his friends beside his bed. It at length seemed to arouse him, and he opened his eyes. "What is this?"

said he.

"The people have come from meeting," it was replied, "and are anxious to know how you do."

"They are kind souls," replied the old minister; and, turning his eyes around, as if looking for some one, he called me by name. I bent over him, and he took my hand. "Go to them, my young friend; tell them I thank them for all their fidelity and kindness. Carry them my last farewell. Bid them remember my last instructions; and God bless them."


I went to the door, and, beckoning to the several groups, collected them together, and spoke to them as I was desired. When I returned to the chamber, the good old man was taking leave of his friends, and to each of them giving his blessing. He called for me. He was exhausted, and could no more speak audibly. His lips moved, and I thought I would have given worlds to know what they would utter. After a few moments' silence, he exerted himself again, and we understood him to ask that there might be prayers. kneeled down, with his hand still in mine, and commended his spirit, in such words as I was able, to the great Father of mercy. It was a solemn moment. There was a silence and awè like that of the tomb, interrupted only by the laborious breathing of the dying man, and the low voice of youthful supplication. When I had ended, he pressed my hand, but said nothing. We feared that he would not speak again; but it was permitted us to hear his last words distinctly. For, when something had been said respecting the good man's support in death, he spoke out audibly —“THE TESTIMONY OF CONSCIENCE, AND THE MERCY OF GOD IN CHRIST." This was his last effort. We stood silently watching for his departing breath, when, as the sun was going down, its beams forced their way through an opening amid the branches of the thick trees which grew before the windows, and fell full upon his face. A smile came over his countenance, and, before it had entirely passed away, he

« AnteriorContinuar »