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AN AUTHENTIC NARRATIVE.
BY REV. G. DE FELICE, OF BOLBEC, FRANCE. David Rouge was a journeyman of Plainchamp, a small village in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland. God had given him health, but he gave himself up to intemperance, uttered the most shocking blasphemies, and often fell into the most violent paroxysms
rage. One day, having laboured long in the water, near the torrent of Vevay, he was seized with violent rheumatism. The disease made rapid progress. His legs and arms were covered with ulcers; his body was swollen in a frightful manner ; and soon after he was struck with a general paralysis, and became so emaciated as to resemble a living skeleton. The unliappy man could not move one of his limbs, but lay with his arms extended as if upon a cross, and suffered the most excruciating pains.
This was his condition for two years. He murmured, he cried out, he blasphemed, he was transported with rage. Did not God know that he needed his linıbs to labour and support his fainily ? What had he done to be chastised in this manner? Were not his sufferings more than he could endure? Sometimes he gave himself up to despair. 6 Death !” he cried, Death, kill me! life is hateful to me!" He cursed the day of his birth, and attempted to kill himself; but as he could scarcely move it was wholly beyond his power. His friends tried to console him, but in vain. His wife wished sometimes to read to him passages from the Bible, but he would not listen to her. 66 What avails the Bible?” said he, “ will the Bible heal me? it is health I want, not the Bible.”
At length a pious lady, who came to Vevay to spend Saturday and the sabbath of each week, heard of his situation and visited him.
“ Ah! I wish I could tell you,” said David afterwards, “ the good which her visit did me. There was something in her manner that consoled me, without my knowing how. She offered to read to me from the Bible, where alone she said I could find consolation. I could not refuse, and from that hour that dear, dear lady, forgetting that she had come here to breathe the fresh air, passed at my bedside nearly the whole of the time she was in the village. She read the
Scriptures to me, choosing the portions which she thought suited me best, then explaining what she read, often praying with me, and begging the Lord to instruct and comfort me.
He now began to see his sins, and to feel that he must sink under the weight of them for ever. He was pointed to the promises of the gospel. " But are these addressed to me?" cried David.
Yes, they are addressed to you," replied his pious friends, “ Christ says to all, Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
“ But I have despised the Saviour to this day; I have openly offended him from my youth,” continued David, “ so that I dare not now go to him.”
“ Fear not,” replied his friends, “ Christ is ready to receive all who come to him. He has said in his word, 'I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'
This was a ray of light for the paralytic. “ Now," cried he with joy, “I understand the design of Jesus Christ's coming upon earth. Yes, now I see that he can save “ the chief of sinners. He has said it, and he is able to accomplish it."
He cast his soul on Christ, to be washed and purified through his atoning blood. His faith in Christ brought peace to his mind, and peace of mind gave him patience to bear his sufferings. His wife no longer viewed him as the same person ; she was astonished to see how this man, before so impatient, so irritable, had become in a short time so mild and so resigned to the will of God. Oh, what a precious treasure to know Christ and to believe in him! Then all is changed in our heart; what appeared to us an evil we regard as a good ; afflictions which caused us to murmur excite us to bless the Lord ; and the sick man on a bed of suffering is more happy when he has chosen Christ for his portion, than are kings on their thrones.
David now became an object of deep interest to all who had the opportunity to visit him. It
was, indeed, instructive to find in a small, obscure, damp chamber, confined for ten years upon a bed, where through a small window he merely got a glimpse of the sky and of an old tree that shaded his room, a man not only submissive to the will of his Creator but contented with his lot, and who testified, both by the expression of his countenance and by his discourse, that his soul possessed true happiness. It was delightful and affecting to see the open and much worn Bible lying upon the table as if to invite some friend of his soul to read to him; and to hear from a body, wasted to a skeleton and exhibiting the livid aspect of death, a voice blessing God, and saying with David, “ It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” It was impossible, on seeing this contentment in a situation apparently so wretched, not to recognise the power of faith, the truth of the promises of God, and the reality of the agency of the Holy Spirit in the heart of him who believes and prays. The sight of this poor paralytic extolling the mercy of God was so powerful on the heart, that several who came to see him were awakened from their indifference and hopefully converted to God.
“ Do not deceive yourselves,” he would say to them. 66 Take care; do not live as I have done, who made light for forty years of eternal punishment, not reflecting that because it is eternal we should use all our efforts to escape it. Believe me, what I say can be despised by none but the thoughtless or profligate. Hear, though the warning comes from so vile a creature as myself, “Flee from the wrath to come!' But this you can never do in your own strength. Jesus Christ must pardon your sins, and keep you to the end. Trust in him and you shall find mercy. He has said, “Himn that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.' Do not put off to another day the things which concern your peace.”.
The report of the paralytic soon spread into all the surrounding region. Every one admired the wisdom and goodness of God, who could glorify his name by the mouth of a man so poor and wretched in the eyes of the world. From all parts people came to see him, to hear him, and profit by his instructive exhortations. Pastors of churches went to learn the power of the gospel from this humble paralytic, for they thought with reason that all their studies and all their learning were not worth the simple, unaffected faith of David Rouge; they came to him that the pride of human reason might be humbled, and they returned strengthened, rejoicing and blessing God.
David Rouge lived eight years after his conversion, to be a living witness of the effects of Christian faith. rienced much uneasiness and pain in his whole body, particularly his legs and arms. It was often necessary, in order to give him ease, to rub them till the skin was blistered; he had also on his back and feet great sores, which gave him much pain. He rarely slept more than fifteen minutes at once, and to a friend who spoke of his long and tedious nights he said,
" God is with me; when I think on him, and on the mercies he has shown me, and reflect on all his promises, I am not tired.” He longed, indeed, to depart and be with Christ, but he committed himself to his disposal, and could say with the apostle, “ I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.”
At length the time of his deliverance arrived; he felt symptoms which he had not felt before; and about fifteen days previous to his death said to his wife, “ Now I believe, thanks to God, my hour is come. Behold the moment I have so long expected.” During these days he suffered much, but enjoyed peace of mind. The day before his departure he exhorted his youngest son, who was attending him, “ to enter into the strait and narrow way that leads to eternal life.” Only a moment before he died he had a short delirium, and even then holy thoughts occupied his mind; all at once he intimated to his wife that he was about to depart, and said to
go to God by faith.” Thus did David Rouge give up his last breath, and enter into rest, after ten years of sickness and sufferings. Ten years of pain ! a long period; but oh, how short compared with eternity, on which he has now entered, and where he will sing the song of redeeming love for ever !
Let no one murmur against God in suffering, which may be sent in great mercy; and let no one postpone repentance and faith in Christ till the day of sickness and death, lest he thus resist and grieve the Holy Spirit, and the sorrows of a death-bed be exchanged but for the deeper sorrows of eternal despair.
AUTUMN. THOMAS—but I am not certain that your name is Thomasit may be John or Joseph, Ralph or Robert, William or Walter; no matter! What I have to say to you will do for one quite as well as for the other. It matters very little by what name we are called, so that we are called of God, and know Him, whose name is above every other name. Nor is it of much consequence where our names appear, so that, at last, they are written in the Lamb's book of life. I was about to drop a word or two about autumn, and if no great hurry I will do so still. I have been reading God's holy word, and left off at that glorious text, “ Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised ; and his greatness is unsearchable,” Psa. cxlv. 3. Sometimes we read a text without feel. ing it, and sometimes it comes home to our hearts.
you are in
An odd thought, Thomas, came into my mind the other day when I was walking through the corn fields, the orchards, and the hop grounds. I thought that the very angels, as they looked down from heaven, must be happier in autumn than at other times, for they must see then so much of the abundant goodness of the Lord to his lower creatures on the earth. It was but a poor, foolish thought, after all, for angels must be always as happy as they can be; for while we are partaking of the Lord's goodness they are sharing his glory.
Well, Thomas, I dare say in one way or other you have been doing your duty; handling the rake or the fork, the scythe or the sickle, mowing or reaping, loading or driving ; there is always one thing or other to be done in the country, and, where there is a ready hand and a willing mind to do it, work goes on pleasantly. If we only worked half as hard, and were only half as much in earnest to get the good things of eternity, as to get the bits and drops that support us in time, it would be something. What a glorious sky that is yonder! I have heard say that we never see the full beauty of the skies, till we have learned to look beyond them. Hark! how the birds sing! These sky larks, and blackbirds, and throstles quite outsing us, and yet they have not half so much to be thankful for as we have. I hardly suppose that they do it to give us a hint, but whether or not we may quite as well take a hint from them. If they are so thankful for their little, what should we be for our much! If they sing so loudly for a grain or two of corn, how ought we to sing for the whole harvest, especially when we have with it, through mercy, the means of grace here, and the hope of glory hereafter!
Before now, Thomas, I have tried in the time of autumn to sum up my mercies, but I have soon given up the attempt, for they are more in number than the hairs” of my head. I might as well have tried to count the ears in the corn-fields, or the drops of water in the river. Did you ever try to number up yours?
Never do I walk abroad in autumn without being reminded of the bounty of Boaz to Ruth, the Moabitess. You, perhaps, remember the account. 6. And when she was risen up to glean, Boaz commanded his young men, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not: and let_fall, also, some of the handfuls of purpose for her, and