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There was one to whisper hope,
There was one at his side to cheer,
"I know he will soon bo here!"
Hear ye the old chnrch-bell?
The voice that ye know so well?
The old year dies away.—
A few pulsations more,
'Twill be drifting from Time's rough shore.
The light of the cottage hearth
Shines out though the night be late,
With a terrible longing wait.
They are bending over the form
Of their long-lost, wandering boy:
Have stifled their burst of joy.
They will not weep, lest tears
Should hinder their anxious gaze;
But oh, how they long to praise!
Poor lad! but his sunken cheeks,
And his brow all knit with pain,
For pardon,—and not in vain I
To the church-bell's joyous peal!
And its promise of future weal:
Thanks for the prayers all heard!
Thanks for the answer given I
Thanks for the hope of heaven!
WAITING FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT.*
Neaely twenty years have now passed away since I became acquainted with the individual of whom I am now to speak. I was called upon to preach, in connection with other ministers of the gospel, in a large village, and during the continuance of what was denominated a "protracted meeting." These meetings had this designation from the fact, that they were continued, from day to day, for several * By the Rev. Dr. Spencer, of New York.
successive days. At one of these meetings, I preached a sermon on the influences of the Holy Spirit. It was a time of revival in the church; and the truths of the gospel preached at such a time, when the Spirit of God was poured out, and when people were peculiarly attentive and solemn, were not likely to be entirely forgotten, even by those who Were mere hearers of the word.
Some months after this, as I entered the same village again, on my way from a similar meeting in an adjoining parish, I beheld a crowd of people entering the town hall. I inquired the reason, and was told there was " a religious meeting there that evening." I gave my horse into the charge of the ostler, mingled with the crowd, and entered the hall. Having already preached three times that day, I was too much wearied to think of doing anything more, and therefore endeavoured to keep out of sight of the clergyman. My attempt was in vain. He discovered me, and requested me to come forward to the desk. I preached a short sermon, the people dispersed, and I went with the clergyman to his home.
We were not seated, before a servant entered, and said a lady wished to see me. I immediately stepped into the hall, and a lady, about forty years,of age, addressed me with evident agitation:—
"I beg your pardon for troubling yon to-night, sir, but I cannot help it. I have longed to see you ever since you preached here in August. I have often felt that I would give anything to see you, for even five minutes. I have prayed for that privilege. And when I saw you in the town hall to-night, I was so rejoiced that I could hardly remain in my seat; and I determined to follow you when you went out, till I got a chance to speak with you."
"I am very glad to see you, madam; but 1 suspect you have taken all this trouble in vain."
"Why, sir, cannot you talk with me one minute? cannot you answer me one question?" said she, her eyes overflowing with tears.
"Certainly, certainly, madam; I can talk with you as long as you please to favour me with your company, and will answer any questions you choose to ask, as well as I can; but I suspect you need an aid which I cannot give you."
"Sir, I want only one thing of yon. I want you to tell me how I shall procure the Holy Spirit. I have wanted to ask you this question for months. If you will only tell me, I 'will not intrude myself upon you any longer."
Entirely overcome with her emotions, my visitor wept like a child as she said this. She stood before me, trembling and weeping as if her heart would break. And as she aimed to repress her emotions, and removed her handkerchief from her eyes, the light of the hall-lamp shone full upon her face, and I was surprised at the deep solemnity and determination which appeared in one of the most intelligent and beautiful countenances that I ever beheld.
At this instant the lady of the house, perceiving the nature of our conversation, invited us into a private room. My new acquaintance told me who she was, and repeated the cause of her calling upon me. I asked her some questions, and conversed with her for some minutes, for the purpose of ascertaining more exactly the state of her mind, and adapting my words accordingly. She was in middle life and married, having two children. Her husband was not a pious man; and her thoughts about her own salvation had led her to think much of his, and of the duty she owed to her children. Her first serious impressions arose from the thought, that, not being a believer, she could not dedicate her children to God or fitly train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
"Oh! sir," said she, (the tears streaming from her eyes, and her sensations almost choking utterance), "I would give all the world to be a Christian! I know I am a sinner, an undone sinner! I have a vile and wicked heart. I have sinned all my life! I wonder God has spared me so long!"
"But he has spared you, madam, when you did not deserve it. And what has he spared you for, but that you should repent of sin and flee to Christ for pardon?'
"I would repent, if I could. I want to be a Christian. But my hard, wicked heart is stronger than I! For years I have read my Bible, and stiuggled and prayed; and it has done me no good! 1 am afraid I shall be cast off for ever! God has not given me his Spirit!"
"Probably your danger is greater than you think. But there is mercy in Christ for the chief of sinners. His blood cleanseth from"
"I know it, sir; I know all that from my Bible. I have read it a thousand times. But I cannot come to Christ without the Holy Spirit."
"Madam, the text is plain, ' If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to"
"But I am not one of his children, sir."
"The text does not say, to his children; it says, 'to them that ask him.' 'Ask, and it shall be given you.' Allow mo to ask you, madam, how long you have been in this state of mind?"
"About three years. I was first brought to think of my salvation soon after the birth of my first child. My duty to my family led me to feel the need of religion. What troubled me was, I could not do my duty to it, for I was not a child of God."
"And have you been accustomed, for so long a time, to read your Bible carefully?"
"Oh! I have read it all, again and again! I read it daily. I have prayed and wept over this subject for years, and have waited for the Spirit to renew my heart."
"And have you been waiting for the Holy Spirit for three years, in this state of mind?"
"Indeed, sir, I have."
"Then for three years you have been waiting for what God gave you three years ago. It was the Holy Spirit which first led you to feel you were a sinner and needed Christ. The Holy Spirit has been striving with you all along, and you did not know it. He led you to the Bible. He led ,you to prayer. He strives with you now, to lead you to Christ for forgiveness and peace."
"Do you think so?" said she, with astonishment.
"I know so," said I. "God has been better to you than you have thought. He has done what you have never given him credit for. He has called, and you have refused. He has invited, and you have held back. You thought you must not come, and could not. You may, on the spot The Holy Spirit has not left you yet. I wonder that he has not; but you have another call to-night. And now. madam, accept this invitation; repent; take Christ as your Saviour. Go home and give your heart to God, just as it is. You cannot make it better. The Holy Spirit is with you. Do not resist him any longer. You have stayed away from Christ because you supposed you must. Yon wanted the Holy Spirit first, and thought you must not come to Christ till your heart was better. The dispensation of the Spirit is in his hands. Go to the fountain. The Bible nowhere tells you to wait for the Holy Spirit; but, fleeing to Christ, to depend on his aid now."
"Pardon me, sir; I must ask you again, if you really think the Holy Spirit is striving with me?"
"Yes, my dear friend, I know he is. He has been for years. He offers you his aid. He calls you to Christ now. Go to Christ. Eepent to-night. Accept and rest on Christ now. 'The Holy Ghost saith, To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.'"
"And is that all you have to tell me about the Spirit?"
"Yes, that is all. The Holy Spirit this moment strives with you. God is willing to save you. Nothing but your own unbelief and impenitence can ruin you."
"Has the Spirit been striving with me—and I did not know it?" said she, meditatively, the tears streaming from her eyes.—She left me and returned home.
Early the next morning, before the sun rose, as I looked from my window, I beheld her coming through the thick dew which lay upon the grass, with hasty steps ascending the hill on which the house stood. She asked for me at the door, and I immediately met her in the parlour.
"I thank you, my dear friend, I thank you a thousand times for telling me that" (said she, the moment she saw me; her eyes streaming with tears and her countenance beaming with joy). "It was all true. I have found it true. I can rejoice in Christ now. I am happy, sir, oh, I am happy. I thought I must come and thank you. I am afraid you will think me rude, in calling upon you at such an hour. But I was afraid you would be gone, if I delayed; and I could not let you leave town without telling you how happy I am, and how much I thank you. After I heard you preach, three months since, I thought you could tell me something about obtaining the gift of the Holy Spirit, and when I asked you about it last night, I was very much disappointed by what you said. 1 was amazed and confounded. You did not say what I expected. But I believed you. I spent the night over this subject. Happy night for me! And now, I know you told me the truth. You read my heart rightly. I bless God for what I have found. Pardon me, sir; I must ask you to tell other sinners, that Christ is waiting for them. They do not know it, I am sure, any more than I did, or they would go to him. The Holy Spirit calls us to do so. With all my