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was sent for, who, after a few minutes' observation, informed us he feared her malady was one beyond his skill even to alleviate, and that if the measures which he should instantly adopt were unsuccessful, the poor woman's death might be looked for within the course of a very few hours.
It was after this first visit that I entered her apartment, and inquired if she wished to try the remedies the doctor prescribed. I often have the spectacle I then beheld before my view. The attention was attracted from the haggard, painmarked face, by the wild, wandering, full-opened eyes, that seemed to meet one's first entrance, and pursue one's steps with all the restless, earnest, inquiring, doubtful expressions of a soul rapidly and unexpectedly driven on to the shore of an uncertain, unknown, shadowy eternity. She withdrew that earnest gaze, and the momentary closing of those heartsearching eyes was a relief, as she replied to my question : " I will take anything or do anything, for I am in great pain.” This was the utmost expression of suffering that passed her lips, though, from the terrible nature of the malady, her agonies must have been extreme. The medicines prescribed were administered, and I then stayed with her.
It was just the time when the scale of life seemed almost equally balanced, at least in our estimation; one hour's space must turn it. We knew not how it would be, but there is that in the approach of death, particularly sudden death, which generally makes itself known to its victim, and its hasty work was already visible in her countenance. But the eyes of the sufferer! there was that in them which has since haunted my memory; they seemed to pierce into the heart, while the advancing footsteps were arrested by the question, “ Miss S-, am I dying ? 66 We cannot tell that, A-" I replied ; "
you are, at all events, in a very dangerous state; much will depend on the means that have just been used. If they fail” and I stopped, for it is dreadful - nature shrinks from it-telling a poor trembling irresolute fellow-creature that death is approaching. But, I thank God, true feeling conquered the false, and I added, “ If they fail, nothing else can be tried, and therefore think now more of your never-dying soul than of your perishing body.”
“ I am dying," she repeated, in a slow, emphatic voice; 6 and oh, Miss S- I am not fit to die.”
“ None of us,” I replied, are by nature fit to die, and appear in judgment before a holy and just God; neither can
we fit ourselves for death; God alone can do that; his Spirit can make us fit."
“Oh, Miss S I have been a great sinner,” she exclaimed.
“And so have I been a great sinner, A-" She slowly turned upon me those powerfully speaking eyes; her look was momentary, but it was searching, it was strange, and as she drew them back she said, “ You? you do not know what a sinner I have been.”
“ Not too great a sinner for God to pardon ; he only knows what sinners we have been, and are ; but no sin is too great for the blood of Christ to cleanse, nor the mercy of God to forgive. If we confess our sins, and turn unto him through Christ, we shall be forgiven." “ I wish for the priest,” she answered.
Yes, we heard so; and a servant has been out for some tine seeking for one: meantime, shall I read the Bible to
Never, never shall I forget that poor woman's look at that question. She turned away her head, closed her eyes, and contracted her brow; and an expression of a totally indescribable character, of disgust, aversion, fear, marked her face, while she cried with some bitterness, “ No, no, no.'
I held up the book I had brought with me: Why not, A--? it is the word of God, of that God before whom you may shortly appear; it declares to us the way of salvation."
She opened her eyes, and with deprecating earnestness exclaimed, “ Miss S- for the love of God do not bring that book to me; I have enough without that.” She paused, with an emphasis on the last word; I knew what she would say. She feared, poor creature, in her darkness and ignorance, that the hearing of the words of eternal life would add to the guilt of her transgressions. I could not force it on her; there was that in her countenance so deprecating, so beseeching, so utterly miserable. I put the book away, and, sitting down beside her, I said,
" I only wish to comfort you, if I could ; you are very wretched; the pain that is in your mind almost prevents you from feeling the agony of your body, and this is to you a forewarning of future suffering ; you fear God, you look upon him as an angry Judge;. but God reveals himself to us, in his word, as a God of love “gracious and merciful, keeping mercy for thousands ; forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.' • God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever—whosoever-believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' • Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us, and gave his Son to die for our sins.'
I quoted from memory, not considering at the moment that I was really departing from the spirit, while I observed the letter of her request respecting the Scriptures. The effect of the
very first text I repeated was instantaneous; the poor woman lay with closed eyes, but she murmured,—“ Sweet words ! sweet words! say them again; oh! that is sweet!” and sweet it was to the ear of one who had drawn a bow at a venture, to think the Spirit of God had guided it to the selfcondemned sinner's heart, not indeed to wound, but rather to heal: her countenance softened, the rigidity of despair gave way-the idea that “ God is love” was new to her.
Animated by the unlooked-for effect that was produced, I continued to repeat such passages as I trust were “given me by the Lord himself, if, as I have always hoped, he had purposes of mercy towards that poor soul. One, I remember, she heard and dwelt on with apparent pleasure and comfort; it was, “I am the good Shepherd; the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” Visibly, and more visibly, did it appear that the word was indeed as a fire, and as a hammer that breaketh the rock of the human heart in pieces; her hands were clasped, and apparently from her heart the prayer was breathed, “ Lord, have mercy on a wretched sinner!” I believe that prayer, lowly as it was, was the expression of hope. I believe that then her trembling soul first caught the hope that mercy might be kept for her. I repeated, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin." “ Oh may it cleanse me!” she answered.
that it may do so ?” “ Yes, yes,” she replied.
I trust we prayed together: I do trust that from the depths she cried unto the Lord, and was heard in that she feared. When I sat down again beside her bed, I took up the before rejected, because unknown, book; I read from it, and was anxiously, meekly, and gratefully listened to :-“ Oh! comforting words; oh! that is sweet!” These and such like were all her remarks, interspersed with many a cry for pardon, or confession of sin, or petition for mercy. She caught at the doctrine of salvation through Christ Jesus, for the hope of
6 Shall we pray, A
the gospel is only sweet to those who feel that they have no hope in themselves: but the question, “ Can you
believe? she could not answer, and therefore all that could be done was to direct and fix her mind on “ the Lamb of God who taketh away
the sin OF THE WORLD,” until faith should be given her to cry, “ Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.”
We were interrupted. The doctor came; his visit was short; all had failed, death was sure, and its progress could not be delayed. I had left the room-I returned after some time; with what rapid strides was death advancing to its prey! I have often seen death ; I have seen it resembling the mild decline of a summer's eve, softly and gently sapping the fair foundation, and drawing to earth the lovely and fragile. I have seen violent death ; the last hour strongly marked on the vigorous frame of manhood; but never, never is death so appalling, never does it so much haunt the memory, as when it has appeared in the form of rapid, all-overcoming disease, seizing the sinner in his every-day work, prostrating him on the bed of languishing, and holding him, as if in mockery, a few brief hours beneath his hand, quivering, as it were, over the yawning grave: to see the flesh almost visibly sink away from the bones; to view the eyes starting out from their hollow sockets; and the soul, anxious, bewildered, troubled on every side, inquiringly peer through them, as if to penetrate into that dimly-seen futurity, thus so rapidly unveiling to its startled and trembling gaze, and seem to read its fate in each beholder's countenance.
The inquiring, wondering eyes of the sufferer again met my entrance, and followed my steps ; but their expression was not quite what it had been; it did not speak of peace;
it did not tell of that sweet resting of the soul on Jesus, our Immanuel, which supports and sustains the mind “ stayed upon God,” even in the prospect of the hour of death and the day of judgment; but it had lost that fearful earnestness ; the startled spirit did not seem to stare so terribly through organs
that appeared unlike to anything in nature. Her mind was not composed ; even a slight interruption was sufficient to disturb the impression which had been made. “I am to die,” she said, as I approached, and she spoke the words with the tone of one who was prepared for the intelligence.
“ Nothing more can be done,” I replied. 66 Oh! seek now for the mercy of God through Christ: look now only to the Saviour of sinners.”
She interrupted me by one of the short but fervent cries
for pardon and mercy which wrung the listener's heart, and, we trust, did ascend to the throne of grace. Her countenance became more disquieted; she closed her eyes, as if from mental pain; and then, with a sudden start, called for the priest : several members of the family came, in answer to her demand, to say that various messages had been sent both to the priest's house and also to the convent, but no priest could be immediately procured. And it was remarkable that, in a proverbially popish neighbourhood, with a convent almost opposite the house, which many priests were daily in the practice of visiting, none in this emergency could be procured. To him the suffering sinner might have looked, instead of to the Saviour; and the last sacrament administered by him would either have tranquillized her soul into the deceitful calm of those who
have no bands in their death,” or prevented her from looking only to the Saviour, who taketh away the sins of the world. It was therefore with trembling anxiety that we watched every approaching step, and knowing that the visit of the priest would preclude any further attempts on our part, we were more diligent in bringing the gospel before the dying sinner, in the hope that, first, she might receive the truth in the love of it; at the same time desiring not to act in a spirit of religious intolerance, we used every reasonable exertion to obtain the attendance of the priest; and the Roman Catholic servant, who was employed in seeking for him, was not, it may be supposed, less zealous ; but we prayed earnestly that the Lord would intervene with his mighty power, and save the sufferer from being upraised from her low and humbled
of the props of human self-dependence. The mere reading, or repeating rather, of the word of God had had a powerful effect: the apparently invulnerable walls of prejudice had fallen at its sound, and now we trusted that poor trembling soul was athirst for the water of life, though it had neither faith nor strength to draw near and take of it freely.
The poor woman listened, and gratefully listened, to the gospel, whether read to her in its own sacred words, or expressed by her fellow-creatures, who in turn came to ministe to her according to their ability. She generally lay with closed eyes ; their wild wandering expression was gone; but she would open and turn them on the speaker or reader who preached unto her Jesus, with a sort of trembling though wordless inquiry, as if she would ask, Can such grace be extended to me?
state by any