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“ A HAPPY RELEASE.”
FROM “WORDS FROM A Teacher.”
I REMEMBER hearing these words said when I was a child; some one, who had suffered long, was dead; ' A happy release,' was said by the person who mentioned the death ; 'yes, a happy release indeed,' replied the person spoken to; but I listened, and heard not a word respecting the precious, the immortal soul. Those who were speaking to each other, I now reflect, may wave known that the person just departed was one who trusted in Christ ; but as they said nothing on that subject, I went on with my own train of thought. • Where is the immortal soul ?' but I did not ask the question.
• A happy release ;' yes ! if this life were all, it would be happy when the poor body ceases to suffer ; but oh ! there is an eternity; there is a heaven ; there is a hell. Dear reader, you have been often warned. Whither are you going? Do you believe Him, who hath said of himself, “ I am the way, and the truth, and the life ; no man cometh unto the Father but by me?”
• A happy release,' I thought, when the bell sounded for poor Martha H.; for I could not doubt but that “ all her sorrows were left below, and earth exchanged for heaven; and I thought, I will make some little notices of my interviews with her, and entreat others to seek the Saviour whom she sought, and who has now conducted her safely through the dark valley of the shadow of death.
Those who see much of the poor are often disappointed in them, finding that some are, and appear, quite unconcerned ; and that others make a profession of what they never feel : how delightful then to know that some are indeed on the Lord's side, have passed from death unto life, and are continually " pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Such an one was Martha H. Many years ago, I looked upon her as a Christian; and I never heard from any one a doubt or a fear to the contrary. This may be the case where the heart is not right with God; but in this instance, I fully believe the conduct corresponded with the profession ; and that herein did she exercise herself, to have always a conscience void of offence both toward God and toward man.
There was another comfort in visiting her; the deep distresses of poverty were not added to the bodily sufferings she had to endure ; and this comfort will be appreciated by those who go from house to house, seeing want and misery, often the consequences of extravagance and intemperance, and sometimes not to be attributed expressly to either, We must descend to particulars, and enter into detail, if we would really understand the sufferings of the poor : this I thought when I was once visiting an aged collier and his wife; their employment was to carry coals; but their horse had just died, and they were indeed destitute. The poor old woman sat without employment, and so seemed at leisure to talk of her troubles; but the old man sat without complaining, without even speaking a word, busily employed with a large needle, drawing some coarse twine through a sack.
· He's mending the old sack,' said his poor wife, “I don't know what he is going to do with it.
Again, I thought this, when the poor old nailer told me that next Saturday her husband would have to walk eight and twenty miles, in order to dispose of the nails she would have made during the week; • fourteen miles to T- ,' she said, "and fourteen back—that makes twenty-eight. Yes, the calculation was exact enough, and neither she nor the poor old man, far more infirm than herself, had a thought of murmuring ; nay, they would be all thankfulness, if, when he arrived at T- , he could but sell the nails, and have money enough, not only for a supply of bread, but something to buy another little lot of old iron for ber to go on again with her arduous employment. Poor old people ! and yet I hope “ rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him." I never met with greater resignation, when speaking of trials, than in that poor old man : they had had three daughters ; 'as nice young women as ever grew,' he said, “but they are all gone.'
All this is taking me from what I had to say of Martha H.; but the thought of one poor friend and neighbour always leads to another, and I can tell you of the · happy release of her namesake, Martha W., one of the three daughters of this poor old couple. Being told she wished to see me, I went, much regretting I had not heard before of her illness. She was in the last stage of consumption. After some conversation with her mother, and hearing the particulars of her illness, I asked concerning her soul. I wish to die,' she said, “I should like to die.' Presently she said, “ He has taken my heart away, and given me a new heart, and taught me to pray.' She was deeply attentive when I read and prayed; and when she heard the name of Jesus, repeated with me. He loved me,' she said, “and died on the cross to save sinners.'
Once she said, “I should like to die while I am fit ;' I understood her to mean that she should like to die before Satan and the world should assault her with temptations, and she might be led away from the narrow path ; but I embraced the opportunity of telling her, that we are not our own, but his, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning; and that he who hath begun a good work in us, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Not very long, perhaps about two years, after Martha was laid in the grave, the parents were sent for to D--, nearly sixty miles away, to attend on the death-bed of the last of their three daughters; and they gave me an account of her sufferings, and of her peaceful death. And the poor old man added, “She was none too good for Him that has her; he will not ask us, when he has a mind to gather a flower in his
What an example of contentment and gratitude was afforded by this aged Christian! The poor old woman too ! how she exulted when their landlord consented to have a forge erected for her, where she might labour as she used to do in her own country; for, like many other poor people from distant parts of the kingdom, she spoke as if she were a foreigner. So she laboured on, patient, industrious, cheerful ; always with a smile upon her face; and would say, 'I pray for grace when I am in my work, that I may get safe to heaven from
this wicked world. The poor husband was not idle ; his sight was so nearly gone, that he was not equal to regular employment; but besides his part in carrying the nails to distant towns to sell them, he laboured in his garden, and would call upon me to admire bis beautiful stocks and his fragrant herbs; and he would work too in his neighbours' gardens for any compensation they could afford to make him. A few more rising and setting suns,' he remarked one day, • and all these labours will be ended.'
The miseries of poverty are seen when one poor person is observed to pity another ; in some places, the poor-rates fall heavily upon the poor themselves. An industrious young woman, who had striven hard to keep things about her, and to bring up her family decently, and make her husband's home comfortable to him, was telling me how she feared at last some of her goods would be seized to pay the poorrate; but she turned from her own anxieties to talk of an aged neighbour, on whom a similar demand had been made, and who suffered yet more. • That poor old woman,' she said, . how she has worked in her time! I've seen her tremble, and her lip quiver with hard labour.' Oh, how these things make one long for the time when want, and weariness, and poverty shall be no more ; and, even now, delightful to think that of spiritual good there is enough. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price.”
This, poor Martha had done ; she had felt the emptiness of all earthly things, and had been led to Him in whom all fulness, dwells. Now, in introducing Martha to my readers, I have nothing outwardly to please or interest; no remarkable vicissitudes in her life to narrate ; no romantic walk, or picturesque cottage to describe. Her employment was that of keeping a humble country shop; opposite the shop-door was the entrance to her kitchen, which, in the latter part of her life, was her bedroom also, for a distressing asthmatic complaint rendered it difficult, and almost impossible, for her to go up and down stairs.
* It was years before her death, that she was once so ill, that I thought of every visit, · This may be the last ;' and her words of faith and patience were, • I look to my Father for supporting grace ; I think that when he bas sufficiently tried me, he will take me home.' Oh, here is the blessedness of the Christian. God is her Father, and heaven is her home.
Another day, she appeared near the end of her pilgrimage; she breathed with so much difficulty that she could say but little. I read a part of the 14th of St. Jobn, and stopped at the verse in whieh our blessed Saviour promises to his people the inestimable blessing of peace.. 'I trust you enjoy that peace,' I said. “ Yes, I trust I do; my Jesus is my all; I hang my worthless soul on Him. Afflictions are not joyous, but grievous; but my Lord does all things well.' She continued in this blessed frame. I am happy,' she said, some little time afterwards, still looking upwards.' • Looking unto Jesus,' I said. She took up my words, and continued - The author and finisher of our faith.
But years of suffering were still before her; and strong in
faith' as she appeared to be to those around her, she felt her own weakness, and as long as she remained below, had to experience what temptation means. She said once, ' I feel no doubt at present; how it may be before I depart, I do not know.' Being reminded that she would always have the same Friend on whom to trust, she broke into accents of praise. In heaven,' she said, it will be all praise, and this wearisome body left behind.'
She spoke of the diversity of opinions among Christians. One says, “ I am right :” and another says, “ I am right;" but there is only one way: Jesus says, “ I am the way, and the truth, and the life.' "
Amid the greatest sufferings, she was very happy; she hoped she might obtain relief, she said ; but if not,' she added, · His will be dove; we are not our own; we are bought with a price.' ..I used to think, I could pray always,' she remarked, but now I cannot pray;' (not connectedly, she must have meant, or at set times of prayer,) . but the Lord knows my heart, and I rest upon his promises; He is a precious Jesus.'
Her joy sometimes amounted even to triumph ; "If I had ten thousand tongues,' she said, 'I could praise him with them all. I used to think I must do some great thing, but now I come empty to my Redeemer.'
At last I took leave of my poor friend; when I approached the bed and asked her a few questions as to her sufferings, she answered, · Yes,' or “No,' and seemed unable to make any effort : the girl who waited on her, asked if she knew me: she said she had not be. fore; yet she seemed perfectly sensible. On being reminded that there was one who would never leave her nor forsake her, she said, · Yes, there is One, and He is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.' "The Lord bless you,' she said, 'I trust we shall meet in a better world.'
A few days after this she departed,
All her sorrows left below
And earth exchanged for heaven.
This was indeed a happy release',
How blest is our sister, bereft
Of all that could burden her mind;
This wearisome body behind.
I have loved to witness her resignation to the will of God. It is heaven upon earth to have no will but his. Sometimes a circumstance may arise respecting which the Christian will be led to think, I would not have it different, had not that been his will, but I should have liked it to have been his will.' Oh, this feeling must be checked.
It is the privilege of Christians to ask for the richest spiritual blessings in the richest abundance; that “ the God of hope may fill them with all joy and peace in believing, that they may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.” What rich glowing words ! how they are heaped one upon another. The Christian must follow on : the question is asked, “ Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed ?" We must have the Holy Ghost to enable us to believe; but there is also an after work. “ Since ye believed,”
-after ye bad come to Christ, did ye then receive the Holy Ghost ? Have ye been baptized, not only unto John's baptism, but brought nearer still? “ Among them that are born of women,” said our Saviour, " there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist ; not. withstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. John's dress and way of life seemed to testify of gloom and severity ; but there was One coming after him, oh, what a glorious one, whose kingdom is a kingdom of peace, and joy, and security ; and the least, the poorest, the weakest in that kingdom is greater than John.
ECCLESIASTES XI, 1.
“ Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days."
The following extract from a letter written by a young man who received bis education at the Kentish and Camden Town National School, and who is now living as a gentleman's servant in Bar. badoes, will be read with great pleasure by all who are interested in promoting scriptural and useful education according to the doctrines and discipline of the English Church. The writer, as will indeed be seen from his own account, was a clever boy, but wanting in steadi. ness. During the time he was in the school, his father removed from Kentish Town to the neighbourhood of Covent Garden, but the boy continued nevertheless to walk backwards and forwards to his old school for a considerable period. He was a scholar there some years, and left with a good character on obtaining an engagement as waiter at one of the hotels in Covent Garden. Soon after he entered upon his place, he attracted the notice of a gentleman, who engaged him as a private servant, and whom he accompanied to the West Indies.
.... Give my best regards to —-, and the Rev. Mr. --, and tell them that I am very sorry for all my misdeeds ; for when Mr. -- used to think I was learning my lesson, I seldom used to be thinking of anything else but play; and though I well remember the time when he told me that he was very well satisfied with me as a teacher, for the boys in my class seemed to get on so well, yet, alas, even then full one half of my time was spent in perfect idleness, or otherwise I might have been myself, and might have made many more, better scholars by far than we were when I left the school. But the time cannot be retrieved, and therefore I must humbly beg pardon of Mr. —-, the Rev. Mr. --, and all the gentlemen and ladies connected with that honourable institution, for having been so wicked as to injure, not only myself, but also those who were committed to my charge. Never shall I forget the time when Mr. used to tell us that we should be very sorry for our misconduct at