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CHAPTER II.

THE CHASTENING.

"Oh, children! they are holy things,
Beloved of earth and heaven;

And angels shield with guardian wings
The home where they are given."

"I have called, and ye refused: I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded."--Prov. i. 24.

My mother must have had many severe trials; for, after the decease of Mary, I remember two other infants successively appearing amongst us. They were both boys-lovely children, bidding fair for life-but in a few months they, too, like Mary, disappeared. They came forth as They came forth as a flower, and were cut down! I rejoiced during their brief existence, and mourned over their loss, and was again cherished with tenfold care, lest I, too, should follow them. Every reasonable wish was gratified, every possible indulgence secured to me, so that ĺ still was happy, responding gaily to the voice of fond parental love.

There was one thing, however, respecting my dear mamma, which was at first an inexplicable puzzle to me; and, in after years, a source of deep regret. For instance, after she had carefully washed and dressed me in the mornings, with that tender regard to every trifle which mothers only exercise, I remained with my father; who, as soon as she had left the room, placed me on the bed before him, knelt down, and closing my hands in his, earnestly prayed for me, and for my mother. His petitions were so engrossed by these two objects, that when once I had learned from him the meaning

of prayer, I used to pray chiefly for him; he seeming almost wholly to forget himself. Again, when we were alone in the parlour, and I seated on his knee; or in the quiet arbour, beneath the concealment of the matted foliage; or wandering hand in hand along the shady lanes, still was he ever teaching me of God. His goodness, His greatness, His power, His love, were the chosen subjects of his conversations; until, at length, his little daughter learned to trace in all His works the finger-marks of their Creator; finding His footsteps on the verdant sod, and hearing His whispers in the passing breeze. Not so my mother! The precious subject was evidently to her an uncongenial theme, considered suitable only for solemn occasions, or when under the pressure of affliction. Alas! my mother! so lovely, so beloved, and yet a stranger to "the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely!"-so capable of refined enjoyments, and yet so lamentably unacquainted with the most sublime and exalted joys, to be found alone in the possession of " peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!"

And when that day-the brightest and the best of all the seven-returned, and my mother had dressed me in the exercise of her chaste and elegant taste, how have I hung as it were upon her lips for a reply to my dear father's pressing invitation to accompany us to worship; and how wounded have I been to hear some trivial excuse in answer to his earnest importunity. My eyes have often filled, and my surcharged heart choked the utterance of disappointed hope. Those invitations and excuses were heard by the Lord of Sabaoth. They entered, too, the listening ears of a once crucified but now exalted Saviour, while there went up with them the complaining voice of the Holy Spirit's resisted strivings. How often would I have

gathered thee, and thou wouldest not; (thou dost) always resist the Holy Ghost!" Thou compassionate God! how graciously didst thou forbear from judgment; still trying one interposition after another, to endeavour to win over that indifferent heart! When the persuasions of an earthly friend had failed, then didst thou arise, and, drawing her by the cords of love, gift after gift was munificently bestowed; and again, on their failure to awaken a grateful response within the soul, resumed! Resumed, that the heart might yet be drawn whither the treasure was removed. But all, as yet, in vain! He had piped unto her, and she had not danced; he had mourned unto her, and she had not wept.

Again another young immortal was lovingly bestowed, on whom was lavished all the fond affections so oft laid low before. The disregarded Donor "marvelled" at the ungrateful reception of the precious boon; and there went forth the voice of Divine love calling heaven and earth to hear the melancholy complaint "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know; my people doth not consider. Why should ye be stricken any more ? Will ye revolt more and more ?" Alas! my mother knew not God, nor acknowledged him in all her ways.

Yet once again he extended his chastening hand, and it was laid on me; on me, who had escaped all the diseases of infancy, and who alone had remained so long beside their desolated hearth. Now the hand of affliction lay heavily upon me,- -a fragile reed, oft bruised and bound again. I remember something of the restless tossings in the scorching fires of the appalling fever; and then memory fails, delirium having ensued, followed by total unconsciousness. But during this, and the long season

of slowly returning health, never do I remember awaking without finding my sweet mother, like a guardian angel, by me; and, as I opened my eyes, still meeting that expression of deepest sympathy and tenderest compassion in the unwearying, watchful gaze of a fond mother's tireless love.

Hers was not a frame to bear such protracted fatigue, without suffering injurious effects, which followed in a long and painful illness.

A troubled course was thine, sweet mother. Thou didst need, indeed, that

"Friend both firm and true,

Who (would) stand by thee when in deep distress,
And then his love and friendship most express."

Oh! that thou hadst then known, that

"One there is, above all others,

Well deserves the name of friend;

His is love beyond a brother's-
Costly, free, and knows no end;
They who his blest friendship prove,
Find it everlasting love.

"When He lived on earth abased,

Friend of Sinners was his name!

Now, above all glory raised,

He rejoices in the same!

Still He calls them brethren, friends,
And to all their wants attends."

Thou hadst not to descend into the deeps to find Him, nor yet to ascend to the heights to fetch Him thence; for He was near thee, still knocking at the barred door of thine affections, and crying, "Daughter, give me thine heart!"

For some time after this I do remind me, that on the Sabbath afternoons, when I was seated in the deep-bayed window of that old parlour, I have often seen dear mamma with the large Bible laid open before her. She never looked, in my childish thoughts, so lovely as at those moments. Oh, my mother, did thine eye never fall upon those words of Jesus"How often would I have gathered (thee) as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye

would not!"

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!" "And ye will not come unto me that ye might have life!" "Herein is love! not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Didst thou not find the page where it is related how he complained, while bowed down with the weight of the world's guilt, and thine, exclaiming, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour! but for this cause came I unto this hour-Father, glorify thy name!" Didst thou not trace his footsteps to the recesses of the garden, and hear him when he became " sore amazed and very heavy," complaining, in the bitterness of his agonised spirit-"My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done! And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground!" I'm sure thy tender heart, which ever mingled the tears of sympathy with those in sorrow, must have been moved for Jesus, as he fainted on the cold, damp garden, and "awoke up in the strengthening angel's arms."* But did it never occur to thee-All this for me? Hadst thou overlooked the statement-" He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed." we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all!" Here, then, was thy great surety! Follow him! Trace his steps

*Hamilton's "Mount of Olives."

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