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An extract from a letter to her brother (who came to England in 1836, but went back the following year) exhibits the unchanged state of her mind. “ The day you left us was a sorrowful one. I felt our parting much. It is likely that before you again visit England, my heavenly Father will have called me hence: it is therefore possible that I shall see you no more in the present world. I gave myself to prayer for you. My heart seemed to be all prayer. This soothed my spirit, and a calm joy was intermingled with my sorrow ; for I was assured that a kind and unerring hand was directing you. I continue to meet you at eight o'clock at the throne of grace.
Never need our footsteps slip,
Upheld by mutual prayer.' I hope I shall hear a good account of your soul's prosperity. I am more assured than ever, that, if the soul does not prosper, nothing in this world can secure its happiness. I continually feel my need of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. I humbly praise God that I dwell in his love, and enjoy, without intermission, the light of his countenance.”
About the same time she wrote to one of her friends :-“It is a subject of rejoicing, and of thankfulness to the Father of our spirits, to have evidence from time to time, that he is a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God. Of this you have a cheering proof in your own house. I have been always happy to rejoice with them that rejoice ; and I praise God, not only for the union with him which I feel, but for that which I experience with those who are saved by my blessed Redeemer. I thank him for the holy sympathies which hé enables me to exercise. His promises are sweet to me, especially that which is connected with the command, Be careful for nothing' &c. While I have been obeying the precept, I have enjoyed the promise, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding' has kept my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.”
From a letter to her brother, written early in 1840, it appears that her health had not been good. She thus refers to the subject :-“I have been very poorly the last two months; but my soul is prospering. 0, how powerfully have I felt the truth of the words, 'God is love.' I am enabled to say, more cheerfully than ever, " Thy will be done!' A little before this affliction came, I was reflecting on the past; and I had such views of the blessing, preservation, and guidance which have been granted to me since I walked in the narrow way, that I felt constrained to promise that, to whatever the Lord appointed me, I would submit; that wherever he directed me, I would go ; and that whatsoever he commanded me, in his strength I would obey. health be restored, I think my way is made plain for leaving Bentley. I do not expect to be exempt from trouble ; but, as I seek my happiness in God, I can never be really disappointed. I only wish to be where I can be most useful, and where I can most promote the glory of God.”
Her health was, for a time, restored, and the event occurred to which she referred. On the 4th of June, 1840, she was married to Mr. George Bull, of Leek; and the union, though permitted to be only a brief one, was productive of mutual happiness and spiritual profit. Before her removal to Leek, she expressed to Mr. Bull her wish that she might not be expected to visit with mixed parties. She
thought that she had, on some occasions, suffered loss by this ; and soul-prosperity was always with her the first and highest consideration.
Soon after she went to reside at Leek, she had an illness which for several weeks confined her to the room ; but when she recovered, she began to form plans of usefulness, and to act upon them. She laboured diligently in the distribution of religious tracts, and in visiting the sick, especially the sick poor, combining with relief consolation and suitable instruction. In prayer-meetings she was active; and in family worship her addresses to the throne of grace, not only on behalf of those who were present, but for the church and the world, will not soon be forgotten, breathing as they did so much fervency of spirit, and evincing such earnest desires for the salvation of souls, and the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom. She was a faithful reprover of sin, but spoke evil of no one. Not long before her last illness, Mr. Bull expressed his fears that she was doing too much ; but she replied, “ Let me work while I can : affliction may soon come, and then I shall no longer be able.”. Mr. Bull says, that he never saw her surpassed in diligence : she had her stated times for prayer and reading the Scriptures, together with other spiritual reading. She was never unemployed. Her religious duties interfered with no others. For the temporal and eternal interests of the whole family she took care, especially for those of the children, to whose religious instruction she thoughtfully attended, seeking to train them up for God and hea
Had she lived, her great worth would have been extensively known, and the beneficial character of her influence as extensively felt. But it was otherwise appointed. A few more extracts from her diary and letters will show the state of her mind in this, the closing, period of her life.
To one of her sisters she wrote :-“I hope, my dear Harriet, you will often write to me, and let me know if the work of God is prospering. My delight is in the Lord, and in doing and suffering his will.° I believe I am in my right place, and among the right people
. I have allowed the Lord to choose for me, and I am always happy in his choice. My cup runs over. Pray for me, that I may improve my, precious and fleeting moments, not living to myself, but for others, and faithfully discharging the duties of my new situation.”
To another sister she wrote :-- For the first few weeks after my arrival here I was very ill. I thought I should not live; but I was happy. All was calm and peaceful. I have lately more fully realized the promise, ‘In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. I am comfortable in my new situation : my dear husband treats me with the greatest kindness, and I find in him a spiritual and helpful companion."
These comforts and privileges, however, were short in their duration. Soon after writing the above, the illness commenced which brought her to the house appointed for all living. But He who afflicted strengthened her to bear all that was laid upon her. observes : “During her long affliction, I never heard her utter any thing like a murmur. I never saw her manifest a spirit in which I should be afraid to die. When most heavily afflicted,--and her sufferings were at times very great,-if I expressed my sympathy with her, she invariably replied, "It is all in love. My heavenly Father sees
that it is the best for me, and I would not have it otherwise. His will be done !'”
To the writer, when visiting her, and striving to administer consolation, she said, “I would not have one pain less, or live one day longer, than God wills. Good is the will of the Lord concerning me. I have such confidence in the wisdom and goodenss of God, and in the full perfection of his will, that I would not choose to have it otherwise with me than it is.”
The illness which terminated her life, though extremely severe, was much shorter than was anticipated. Very unexpectedly, alarming symptoms made their appearance, and Mr. Bull informed her that her medical attendant apprehended danger. Her reply was, “ I am in the Lord's hands : his will is best. I am unspeakably happy.” To her medical attendant she said, at a time when she was suffering intense pain, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” She affectionately thanked him for his kind attention to her; and though sinking rapidly, her mind was as placid as was usual in health. He and Mr. Bull having left the room for a short time, she addressed a pious servant who was then with her, thanked her for her services, and for the kindness with which they had been rendered ; and added, “I shall soon be with Jesus, soon near the throne. O follow me !" She wished to speak again to her husband, but her breath was evidently failing ; and just then, hearing that he and the medical gentlemen were praying in the next room, she threw her arms out of bed ; and, lifting up her eyes to heaven, she said, “O blessed Jesus," ; but her articulation had become so indistinct, that what followed could not be heard. Repeatedly, however, she lifted up her arms in token of the complete victory she enjoyed within ; and, with an indescribable sweetness on her countenance, she exchanged mortality for eternal life, March 30th, 1842.
ST. PAUL AT THE BAR OF NERO:
BY THE REV. THOMAS JACKSON. “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God
that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear : and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom : to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
(2 Tim. iv. 16–18.) St. Paul was unquestionably one of the most extraordinary persons that ever lived, whether we consider him as man, a subject of divine grace, or as a chosen instrument of God, employed in the propagation of the Gospel. He was possessed of great mental acuteness and vigour; and his faculties were disciplined by a superior education, and by an early acquaintance with Jewish and heathen learning. VOL. I.--FOURTHI SERIES.
He was also a man of restless activity and energy, not disposed to spend his days in quietness and seclusion, but intent upon giving to the thinkings and actions of all around him what he conceived to be a right direction. Having connected himself with the sect of the Pharisees, and regarded Christianity as likely to subvert their traditions, he formed the resolution not only to oppose its progress by every means in his power, but, if possible, to effect its extermination; and in his endeavours to attain this object he had recourse to almost every form of violence, staining his hands and his conscience with Christian blood.
It was while Saul was pursuing this guilty career, uttering vehement blasphemies against Christ, and “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples," that he was arrested by the hand of his compassionate Saviour, and became one of the most signal examples of
He was not converted by a course of evangelical instruction addressed to his ear; for to that he was unwilling to listen. Nor was he convinced of the truth of Christianity by a diligent and patient study of its evidence ; for against that evidence, which had long been placed before him, he had obstinately closed his eyes. That which he needed most was an awakened conscience; and it was produced within him by the voice of the Lord, speaking in majesty, authority, and terror from the throne of his glory. “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."
I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.” These awful words were addressed to Saul's conscience and understanding without any previous warning. They were words of power, and produced the desired effect; so that he at once not only ceased to blaspheme and persecute, but likewise acknowledged the Messiahship and divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do ?" was now the language of his contrite and submissive spirit. Having spent three days and nights in utter blindness, in prayer, and in penitential sorrow, uncertain whether he should be dealt with in mercy or in judgment, he was given to understand that the divine purpose conc
ncerning him was a present salvation from sin, and an immediate appointment to the apostolical office. He was not disobedient to the heavenly calling, but meekly acquiesced in the will of God; receiving baptism as an acknowledgment of his subjection to Christ, by whom that sacrament was instituted, and as a means of grace. At the same time he believed in Christ in order to his personal justification; and in this manner he received the forgiveness of his sins, and was renewed in righteousness by the
the power of the Holy Ghost.
From this memorable period Saul was a new man. The bias of his nature was entirely changed. His heart overflowed with love to Christ, and with zeal for Christ's glory; and he loved the souls of men with a passion like that by which the Lord was actuated when he came down from heaven and died upon the cross to redeem and save them. To advance the kingdom of God, by the spread of the Gospel, was the one great object of the Apostle's life. For this he preached, and wrote, and prayed, and travelled ; nobly sacrificing ease, and reputation, and the pleasures of domestic and social life; enduring innumerable hardships and privations, by land and by water, ready at any hour to meet death in its most frightful forms, if such were the Lord's will. An example of more entire devotedness to
Christ the world has never seen; and therefore from few merely human characters can such impressive lessons of practical instruction be drawn. The life of St. Paul is a standing proof of the truth of Christianity; and it is a complete model of ministerial fidelity and zeal.
The success of this extraordinary man was in full correspondence with his labours; so that the whole of his apostolical course was a path of glory. Flourishing churches, the direct effects of his ministry, were raised in many of the principal cities of the Roman empire, shedding a blessed influence upon the world around them : and in the contemplation of the hallowed scenes which those churches presented, the holy and benevolent Apostle exclaimed, “Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place." (2 Cor. ii. 14.)
The text which we have read, as the basis of our present discourse, relates to the close of this great man's life, and was probably written not many months before he received the crown of martyrdom. He was now a close prisoner, having finished his last journey, formed the last church that he was ever allowed to organize ; and was in daily expectation of dying by the hand of the public executioner. In these circumstances he was wishful to have another interview with Timothy, a man of a kindred spirit, and his own son in the Gospel. He therefore urges him to come without delay. Yet the Apostle appears to have been uncertain whether he should be alive at the time of his arrival ; and hence he crowds into the Epistle much instruction and encouragement, which we may fairly suppose he would otherwise have reserved for their interview. In this most instructive document the Apostle relates certain important circumstances which had just occurred, and which served to show the peculiarity of his situation. my first answer" (or “defence," as the word properly signifies) “no man stood with me; but all men forsook me. God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear : and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom : to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
We will endeavour to explain the several particulars which are here expressed; and then deduce from them some lessons of practical instruction.
I. The text relates to St. Paul's arraignment and trial, before the highest authorities in Rome, during the period of his second imprisonment in that city.
The Apostle's first imprisonment in that city took place in consequence of his own voluntary appeal to the Emperor. After an absence of several
years, he came to Jerusalem, as the bearer of alms and offerings with which he was intrusted by the Gentile converts, for the benefit of their Jewish brethren. Soon after his arrival, certain Jews, who hated him because of his zeal in the Christian cause, bound themselves by an oath, that they would neither eat nor drink till they had slain him. This murderous conspiracy was providentially discovered ; and information of it having been communicated to the military authorities then stationed in Jerusalem, the Apostle was conveyed by night, under