« AnteriorContinuar »
often? Because I was thinking how short a time old Hannah has to live. We shall not see her any more stooping amongst the narrow borders of her little garden. But come up the few steps of the steep and winding staircase; here she lies, in her clean white-washed room, and from hence she will never remove till carried out for the last time. Her illness has been a very trying one; she was seized with paralysis seventeen weeks since, and her senses have been much affected. One side is rendered quite useless; her voice is altered, and her sight is gone. She is unable to feed herself, or to lift herself in the bed; and, to the questions of her affectionate children, she can scarcely make a reasonable reply. The world, and all its concerns, are passing from her as if they had never been; but, on one subject-the mercy of her Redeemer--her mind is clear and strong. " That,” says she, as if she felt the weakness of her memory on other matters—" That I shall never, never, NEVER forget.” At times (but they are now more and more rare) a spark of intelligence seems to blaze up amongst the dying embers. As, an evening or two since, her husband, on his return home from work, asked his daughters if her mind had been comfortable that day, she caught his meaning, and exerting herself to speak loud enough for those down stairs to hear her, said, that in that matter all was well—that she had an humble trust in Him, who will never forsake them that trust in him. On subjects of temporal concern, however, she is completely lost. Her poor, heavy, useless arm, womanlike, she thinks is a sleeping infant; and sometimes she says she is quite weary, and begs her daughters to take the dear child for a little. Overhearing one of them giving her kind visitor this proof that her mental faculties were nearly gone, “ Ah!" interrupted she, “ I am going to heaven I shall have right knowledge there !” She never complains of pain or poverty: all seems right to her. . Though the small quantity of food, except what charity supplies, is coarse, and little fitting for an invalid, she always acknowledges it as her Father's gift, and enjoys it as such. Want, and cold, and illness, seem matter of no importance to her; the hope of the glory to be revealed seems to swallow up all concern for this life. “It is not a crown of gold," I heard her say, “nor one of silver ; it is a crown of glory that is laid up for me.” One expression of natural feeling I witnessed. As one of her daughters was mentioning the death of a sister, whom they lost about ten months ago, the aged mother burst into tears, exclaiming, “She was a dear blessed creature;" but she presently dried her eyes. “ I'm going fast, fast to her,” she said; “ I shall soon see her.” It is, indeed, cause for great thanksgiving, when parents are permitted to see a whole family of sons and daughters treading that path which they themselves have found to be pleasantness and peace; and such, I believe, is now granted to these old people. Their remembrances of this last daughter, in particular, are very delightful. She was nearly blind, very slow of speech, and exceedingly infirm, to outward appearance, yet, as Fox beautifully says, “ Quick of understanding in the Lord's matters.” Oh, the wisdom that is from above, how independent, how superior is it to all outward aids ! Quiet, patient, humble and industrious, there she sat at her spinning-wheel, day after day, and year after year,-expecting nothing on earth, but with a heart set upon the things above; the poorest of that poor family, yet the first to be called to her inheritance; the lowest in her father's house, the foremost to take her place in those mansions, of which eye has not seen, nor ear heard the glory. She was suddenly attacked by some complaint in her head, so violent, that she feared she should lose her senses. “I pray,” said shemand it was one of her last reasonable sentences—“ I pray that if the Lord sees fit to take my senses, he will take my speech too, that I may not say words to grieve his Holy Spirit.” Her prayer was heard. On Thursday her senses forsook her, and, about the same time, she ceased to speak. On Sunday, her sister, standing by, thought she heard her articulate the words, “ Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace;" and so she reached her home.
But I must not forget the old man--the very picture of an English cottager-a little bent and toil-worn, yet
and the glomansions, house, theo her inte of
still retaining proof in his hale figure, elear eyes, and healthy complexion, that if labour is the primal curse,” it is yet “softened into mercy.” He has feared God from his youth up; and his happy countenance assures you, at the first glance, that his heart realizes the promise, “Even to old age I am He; even to boary hairs I will carry you.” I was some time ago much struck by the remark of a clergyman, made in familiar conversation : “ If a Christian is but a shoe-black, he ought to be the best in the parish ;” and, as far as my observation goes, it will certainly be the case. It was our old Isaac's diligence, as he broke stones on the road, that first attracted a friend's attention to him. When the circumstance was mentioned to him-_“I should be very sorry to need any human eye to watch me,” said he ; “ if I rest five minutes, I know I'm bound to make it up again.” His language is frequently figurative and poetical; naturally so, because he draws from the two sources of perfect poetry--the book of God and the book of nature. From every surrounding circumstance his hungering and thirsting mind draws food. I remember his spiritualizing his employment the other day, when he was found scraping a very dirty lane. - This reminds me,” said he, “of the ministers of the heavenly gospel; they are sent, as we are, to prepare the way, to make straight the path; and they toil and labour as we do. Now, a bit seems clean, and there 'tis a little smoother; but very soon 'tis all disheartening--all as bad again as ever. Well, we begin again, toil over it again ; our work will be done at last ; and they must wait in patience till the great Master comes to finish his own." His affection for his aged wife has always been extremely strong; and it is delightful to observe how the love of a Christian connexion can survive all the outward aids of youth, interest, or personal attraction. “She asks many times in the day, if he is not come home yet," said the daughter; "and, tired down as he is, he won't stop even to warm his hands till he goes up stairs to see her, and, if she likes, to read or pray with her.” The last time she was sufficiently in possession of her senses to enjoy the word of God, as he read it to her, she expressed herself with remarkable delight and energy, as to the pleasure it had afforded her. “It seems as if I was in heaven," said she. " The room seems full of heaven.” “What,” said her daughter, “ do you see any thing ?” “No," she replied, “it is not to be seen or heard, it is to be felt.” Oh! glorious gospel, that shines thus in the dark valley and shadow of death. The old man's strength is labour and sorrow; and I think his toil is almost done. His spirits seem to excite him to exertions too great for his strength; and when he shall cease to earn his five or seven shillings a week, (for his wages are now no more,) I wonder how he will be provided for? They have all lived very hardly this winter, for the young women (both sickly, and one nearly blind,) have almost laid aside their work to attend to their completely helpless mother. It would be a grievous thing to send to the poorhouse, one whose orderly and decent habits, and whose industry from his youth up, have surrounded his own little home with so many comforts. True, the rapid increase of his young family, and the lowness of his wages, never could allow of his making provision for these years of weakness; and even in the best of times he often fared hardly. But there, ornamenting the whitewashed wall of the home in which he has lived so long, are still the coloured prints from Scripture history, in which he used, now and then, co indulge himself; and there is his poor wife’s assortpent of various glasses and crockery ware, making the Vue corner cupboard look so gay; and the jug of early rimroses on the dresser; and his kind daughters see hit the hearth is swept, and the fire-irons bright, because he Ikes to see it so; and they put his own armed chair in the chimney corner; and if the meal is very scanty, affectinate care prepares it for him, and sets it before him. Iow different would it be at the poor-house! But “ I will never leave thee; I will never forsake thee,” says the word of promise. What shall we ask more? Will the God of heaven and earth compass about his servant with his mercy, and draw near to him in loving-kindness? and does it nuch matter where? No! all must be well with you, por old Isaac! A little longer to toil; once
more to weep at the grave of a friend; a few more difficult and dark steps to make; and then, as you said this evening, when we wished you good night, to be in that land where we shall never say “good night again
THOUGHTS ON THE PROMISE OF A NEW HEART.
How much of wisdom there is in the sacred writings ! They are indeed the revelation to mankind of Him, who is light; that is, the perfection of knowledge and wisdom : so that in all their parts, and chiefly in the grand scheme of human redemption, we may well expect to find a wonderful display of knowledge and wisdom ; the more our eyes are opened by the good Spirit of God, the more we shall behold wonderous things in his law.
Now, amongst the many proofs of the truths of the Gospel, one of its most striking and satisfactory to my mind, is the wonderful suitableness to the manifest wants of a fallen creature. For instance: the longer we live, and the more we become acquainted with ourselves, the more we shall be convinced that the very thing we need for the purposes of our increasing holiness and happiness, is the very thing which God promised to his ancient people, many centuries before Christ came into the world. “A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you ; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” (Ezek. xxxvi. 26.) Here is a promise to be Jews clearly never yet fulfilled. They have yet to receive the blessing here held out to them. But the new heart is clearly the very thing they want. They we not living in darkness, for want of light. They are not rejecting Christ, for want of evidence. No ! ther: is the
ull blaze of light around them, and there is th: clearest evidence within them and without them. But che heart, that is the seat of feeling, is like a stone : Jard, unimpressible, dead. Let the stony heart be taken away, and a soft, feeling heart be put in its place, and then, oh!