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think upon thy God, to seek his pardoning mercy, to secure a Saviour's love and the salvation of thy soul. Busy worldling, hurried on from morning to night and from day to day, pursuing the vain things of life that continually elude thy grasp and mock thy fond expectations, thou must find time to die. He who was mentioned above, who “ had no time,” he found time to die. His business pressed him hard, but death paid no regard to those claims. Hearing that he was ill, and calling to see him, the writer asked him of his eternal interests, his hopes beyond the grave. “Oh!" said he, “I have given too little attention to that subject.” A few moments of religious conversation were all the time he had. Soon after, his reason was affected by his disease, and so continued until death. He found time to die; but a dying bed, it is to be feared, afforded him no time to become a Christian.
Reader, thou too must find time to die. Death will soon call thee from thy eager pursuit of worldly good. Thou must exchange the busy scenes that now occupy thy time and thoughts, for the stillness and the solemnity of a dying bed. The shroud and the coffin shall enclose thy body, and the dark grave contain thy dust until the archangel's trump shall call thee forth to give thy last account.
“ Vain man, thy fond pursuits forbear;
Repent, thine end is nigh;
THE WIDOW OF MRiding one cold frosty day in January over a bleak heath, I was alarmed by piercing shrieks, which, on turning round, I discovered to issue from a miserable cottage I had a few minutes before passed. Putting spurs to my horse I imme. diately hastened back, and before I reached the spot whence the cries came, a tall girl enveloped in fames rushed from the door. To dismount and wrap my great coat round her was but the work of a few moments, and I soon succeeded in extinguishing the fire, but the poor girl, evidently much burnt, continued to scream most distressingly. She appeared to be the only inhabitant of the cottage, and at a loss what to do for her relief, I thought of different remedies in similar cases, none of which were within my reach. It was not likely assistance could be obtained except by my returning to the
village of M-, two miles distant; unless some one should happen to pass. After reflecting for a few minutes, I placed the suffering girl gently in a large old arm-chair, with the intention of riding off för surgical aid, when an aged female entered, with horror depicted on her countenance, and rushed up to the girl, whose screams had reached her a long way off; it was the poor girl's mother : this girl a helpless idiot. Telling her in a few hurried words what had occurred, which the burnt garments hanging in shreds testified in a most frightful manner, I galloped away and did not slacken my pace till I arrived at Dr. J—'s. He was at home, and immediately accompanied me to the cottage. A neighbour, who had accidentally passed in the meanwhile, was now assisting the poor woman ; they had carried the girl to a bed in an adjoining room, whose screams had subsided into deep groans; they had applied some flour and scraped potatoes to her burns, the extent of which they had, however, scarcely yet ascertained.
The cause of the accident could only be guessed at, from an over-turned three-legged stool near the fire; probably the girl had tried to reach something from the chimney-piece, and in so doing her apron might have caught the flame, which, now that it had done the mischief, had sunk down and was only faintly flickering in the expiring embers, which cast a faint glimmering round the dreary room.
The aged mother had often left her, for she was a careful harmless girl; she had but gone into the neighbouring copse to pick up a few sticks, when a well-known voice uttering a scream unlike
any she had ever heard from it, reached her ear. Begging the friendly neighbour not to leave her, as long as she could be of assistance, with the assurance that Dr. Jwould do all that human power could do in this sad case, I slipped a trifle into the hand of the aged mother, and commending herself and child to the mercy of God, and deeming, at such a moment, my presence of no avail, I took my leave, promising to return early the following day. That evening, while seated by my comfortable fire-side, listening to the wind whistling outside, drifting the snow with its wintry blast, my thoughts recurred often and painfully to the poor idiot girl, her burning agony and the miserable feelings of her wretched mother. The bare walls of their mean hovel, almost destitute of furniture, and the scanty fire to procure fuel for which the poor woman had unwittingly left her only child to perish, appeared still more wretched when contrasted with the comforts around me. And did our gracious Father give according to our deserts, how far beneath the lot of this poor widow and her child might not his providential hand have placed me!
I had only lately come to reside at M—, and had yet but little acquaintance with the neighbourhood. On inquiry, I found this poor widow had lost her husband at an advanced age about three years before: he had died after a few weeks' illness, leaving his wife and child entirely destitute, and since that event they had wholly subsisted on the few shil. lings allowed them by the parish. He had worked in the neighbouring chalk-pits for many years, and had borne a good character for steadiness and sobriety ; this was all I could gather of their little history,
Next morning I sallied forth. The ground was under a deep snow crispily frozen over ; but the sun shone brightly on the decayed thatch of the humble dwelling I was about to enter; did it speak of peace, where there was no. peace? or had the Holy Spirit worked in the heart of the poor widow, and endued her with strength and grace
sufficient to support her in this hour of her extreme need? I paused on the threshold, perceiving signs of death in the closed shutter, and the thin brown curtain which was drawn across the cracked panes of the casement of the adjoining apartment. I tapped gently at the door ; no one answered my summons, and after waiting a few seconds I lifted the latch and softly entered ;
the room was vacant, but the door opening into the other chamber was ajar, and I perceived the widow at the bed-side of her poor girl in the attitude of prayer. Gazing at her in silence, I, too, prayed inwardly that the pouring forth of the distressed heart of this poor creature might ascend to the throne of grace, and that she might receive abundance of mercy and consolation from above. A slight movement I inadvertently made, caused the poor woman to turn her head, and perceiving me she arose from her knees; but, how different was the aspect of her countenance from that it wore on the preceding day! then all horror, dismay, and anxiety; now calm, subdued, but, deeply rooted grief. She motioned me quietly into the little chamber she had just quitted, where in a curtainless bed lay all that was now left of her afflicted girl. The covering of the bed was very scanty, but it was clean and neatly folded down, and the neat cap
partially concealed the face of the departed, might have vied in whiteness with the snow without. A single chair, a large
old worm-eaten trunk, and a small rickety table, on which stood some labelled vials and a tea-cup with a spoon in it, completed the furniture of this apartment; but, in glancing my eye round, I saw, with satisfaction, a shelf behind the door, on which were ranged a few books. An open Bible, with a pair of spectacles, lay on the solitary chair by the bed-side where the forlorn widow had kneeled.
“ You have, I see, been seeking consolation from the only true source,” said I, pointing towards the chair. 6 Grievous and heavy as this affliction must be to you, my good woman, be assured you have a heavenly Father who, if you trust in him through Christ, will enable you to bear it. Though thou passest through the deep waters of tribulation he will be with thee, and he will not suffer the rivers to overflow thee; therefore, fear not, be not dismayed.”
“ Oh! sir, God's will be done : but had it been a less painful death! It is bitter to be parted in one night of agony ; and, oh! how long I have tended her, the only one of seven sweet babes spared to me!” exclaimed the bereaved mother, bursting into tears.
It was a touching sight to see this aged widow weeping at the fond remembrance of her afflicted child. How many years had she, with tender anxiety, nursed and cared for her, with all the solicitude of maternal fondness ! In all her poverty, to provide food and raiment for this cherished one had been her chief care; she had been for the last three years her sole companion, and, perhaps, the eye which appeared vacant, and the jargon unintelligible to others, spoke a language comprehended by the watchful mother. I did not seek to restrain the tears which streamed down the cheek of this aged Christian ; for such, in truth, I found her to be as I continued to converse with her when she became more composed.
Slowly I returned through the leafless wood, contemplating the inscrutable ways of the Almighty. To see this poor humble widow thus suddenly bereaved in the most awful manner of her only comfort, might cause the sceptic to cavil, and the thoughtless worldling to doubt the mercy of God; but aly, “His ways are past finding out !” 66 Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." All our afflictions are undoubtedly sent to draw us nearer to our God, and this severe trial had just that effect in the present case.
An intense grief had taken place of the horror which had seized upon the heart of the poor old widow while her child lay in agony. She had now lost her only remaining relative; from her utter helplessness perhaps this child of affliction had been her dearest one. What was the wide world to her ? the only link was now severed which had bound her to earth ; what joy had life left for her ? all her labour had lost its sweetness. On returning with her wintry fagot, no longer was she greeted by the wild laugh, so sweet to her, which was wont to welcome her home; the vacant eyes no more beamed joyfully as she kindled the cheerful blaze: alone she must henceforth go on her pilgrimage. But although abund. ance of tears were shed by this aged mouruer over the pale and scarred face of the inanimate corpse, no complaint, no murmur passed her quivering lips ; she uttered no loud lamentations, or vain self-reproaches for what she could not have foreseen ; but, bowing to the Divine dispensation, she meekly exclaimed, “ God's will be done !”
In the course of a few days a plain coffin, followed only by the bereaved parent, and the woman who had shown her so much kindness, wound along the churchyard path, and the remains of this poor girl were consigned to their kindred dust. The day after the funeral, on visiting the widow, I found her sitting at a little table, with an open Bible before her. She appeared composed and almost cheerful. She had, she said, been praying continually for grace to submit, unrepiningly, to the Divine will, and she felt enabled to say, 66 It is the Lord : let him do what seemeth him good.”
After discoursing for some time on religious subjects, I told her of a plan I had formed for her removal into one of the almshouses in the village of M—, now vacant; äs it appeared to me she would be less lonely and could have some slight attentions paid her ; but, casting a rueful glance round the walls of her seemingly comfortless home, with expressions of deep gratitude, she replied, “ Ay, sir, my poor husband raised this cottage with his own hands, and for years we lived happily together; one by one my husband and children have been taken away from me; but as I sit alone in the dusk, I love to fancy I hear their voices again and see them round me in the old places, and still I have one companion left me,” said she, laying her hand on the sacred volume before her.
“ No, no,” she added, “ by the mercy of the Lord, I trust my days too will soon be ended, and I will end them here.”
Such being her feelings, it would have been cruel to urge her removal to a more commodious dwelling, but her necessities were frequently administered to by those whom I had