Page images
PDF
EPUB

concern.

were an aged father stooping to the tomb, his daughter a blooming mother, and two almost infant children, whose merry prattle alone broke the silence, and mocked the sadness of that scene of woe. The affectionate grandsire again took the smiling babes in his withered arms, bestowed one more kiss upon their rosy cheeks, then gave them back to their parent, who was herself to share the farewell blessing, bursting in broken accents from a breaking heart.

By this time the shrill whistle of the engine resounded along the line, and in an instant the carriages were by our side. Another minute, and, all safely seated, the living burden was hurrying on its way. We had proceeded a mile or two, before the writer observed among his fellow-passengers the woman and family whose apparently unhappy circumstances could not but excite some feelings of pity and

Nevertheless, she seemed wonderfully buoyant in the midst of trouble, for ere long she entered into a lively conversation respecte ing her present destination and future prospects, occasionally glancing at the joys of the past, but only as a comparison with the pleasures believed to be yet in store. Fortunately for our narrative, her travelling companions, though entire strangers, were not less inquisitive than she was disposed to communicate; so we soon heard the history of her life from the cradle to the grave. The cheerful mother sketched, indeed, with a light and careless hand, all that was connected with years gone bye; but dwelt with a realizing faith on every happiness associated with the time to come. And if she expressed a passing regret, or dropped a filial tear at the remembrance of a father's unutterable grief, far oftener did she speak in tones of tenderness and love, or use the language of aspiration and delight, with regard to the still dearer relatives that yet clung to her embrace.

Our narrator was journeying to America, there to join her husband, who had preceded her, in search of employment, rather more than a year. He had been successful beyond his expectations, and now wrote to his wife in strains of glad congratulation, begging her to follow him without delay to his adopted country, and thus reap the reward of his honest and persevering exertions. We need not say how joyfully she obeyed,—how quickly the pangs of sadness at leaving her native land were forgotten or assuaged,—the fears and dangers of the briny deep silenced and despised,-and, though the last to agonize her otherwise exulting heart, the painful separation from an only parent faithfully sustained. Hope, ever blooming in her youthful bosom, looked forward to a period of return from exile, to cheer, perhaps, the declining days of those who were her early friends. It was impossible not to feel a sort of admiration at that truly earthly spectacle; smiles and tears alternating on the face; hope and fear vibrating in the heart; but all happily mingled by that paternal oversight which governs the affairs of mortals for their good.

Here our history might probably have closed, had the mother's fond predictions been ultimately fulfilled. Yet, however pleasing such a consummation, it is doubtless a result which it would never have been the lot of any to read or to record. But the news of sorrow spread farther than the tidings of joy; the groan of suffering is more loudly echoed through this world of woe than the song of gladness or the sounds of mirth. The melancholy issue of a journey so cheerful in its commencement-though even then the brightness struggled through a cloud—was borne with the swiftness of the wind to many a desolate and darkened hearth. The ship in which this little family sailed, never reached its destination. Long and anxiously did the wretched husband, with hundreds of equally trembling expectants, watch its appearance from the shores to which it was bound. But months and almost years have elapsed, yet no sign of its desired approach, no explanation of its unlooked-for delay, has ever been seen or heard. Beyond a doubt, the ill-fated vessel, with its precious freight, is at this moment drifting along the unfathomable bottom of the Atlantic deep, or else has settled for a last repose in the secret chambers of a mighty grave.

Such is life, at best a state of painful exile, of uncertain wandering to another land. Beset with difficulty and distress, we are pressing forward to the region of the unknown. Light and darkness, sunshine and shade, alternately cheer or sadden our passage to the skies. At present we have not tasted the fruits, or seen the glories of the promised rest. Distant from heaven, we can only believe the report; we wait admission to our Father's house. Still it is a painful, though inevitable thought, that multitudes set out for a better country, speak the language, and profess the hopes of pilgrims, who, nevertheless, do not hold on their way through the gloomy desert, or cross in safety the swelling flood. They experience the privations, and suffer the hardships of a wilderness, in which howbeit they love to wander, and choose to die. Sad indeed is the condition of self-deceived souls; fatal the delusion that blinds the understanding, and shuts the heart against every warning, that we fall not short of heaven. Amazing is the folly that cherishes a hope just as the antidote of despair,—that clings for safety to a plank tossed at the mercy of the waves,—that will not renounce the guidance of an unsteady star, because it lights their path. way to the grave, and cheers them onwards to a last abyss.

Darieties.

THE DYING TESTIMONY OF A SCEPTIC.—Many years ago, having occasion to visit an aged minister in the country, as he was then little able to go abroad himself, he asked me to call on one of his flock confined to the bed of sickness. The invalid referred to was rather a well informed and reflecting man, but had been so far led away, in early life, by the writings of Paine, that he began to question the truth of Christianity, though he could not altogether get quit of its authority. He was happily one of those who have no difficulty in expressing their feelings and sentiments, as it is with such most easy to deal. He told me that when he felt his strength gradually declining, and when he had little hope of recovery, he took comfort from the thought, that though he had done many things he ought not to have done, he was not worse than others; that we had all to do with a merciful God; and if there was a future world, all would be safe, he trusted, in the prospect of eternity. He added, “ As I gradually grew weaker, the thought occurred to me that God is just as well as merciful, and as both these are attributes of his character, what evidence have I that I shall be treated with mercy and not with justice ?” concluding in a tone peculiarly expressive, "if I am treated with justice, where am I?” I replied, that this was the very difficulty which was met by the Gospel, that all the demands of justice being fully satisfied when Jesus appeared as our representative, the honour of Divine justice was now perfectly secured, and made quite consistent with the mani. festation of Divine mercy to such as are willing to receive it. Having endeavoured as fully as I could to explain this subject, and pressing it upon his attention as the only ground on which, consistently with the Divine attributes, we could entertain the well-grounded hope of pardon, I left him. One of the last expressions he used was, “Well, sir, I believe it must come to this: I confess I here see a solid footing to rest on, which, on my former principles, I could never find.This testimony I consider as one of a most interesting character, in some respects more so than that of an experienced and decided christian, because it was the testimony of one whose previous prejudices were all on the other side.-J. A. James.

THE GOSPEL.—The Gosi is not a cunningly devised fable, but the very Word of God; it is a divine testimony; a message from Jehovah to man. It comes direct from heaven, and is addressed to us in love. By the Gospel God testifies to us that we are totally and entirely lost by nature; that there is neither help nor hope for us but in the Lord Jesus Christ; but that in him is all we need, or our cir. cumstances require. He has pardon for all sin; a righteousness to justify the ungodly; peace for the troubled conscience; life for the dying soul; holiness for the impure and filthy; in a word, a full sal. vation for the lost and perishing. He possesses all the wealth of God. He is able to make the foolish, wise; the guilty, just; the filthy, clean; the miserable, happy; the weak, strong; the diseased, healthy; the carnal, spiritual; and the slaves of Satan, the children of God. Christ is all that God can give. Christ has all that a sinner can want. Having Christ, we can want no more; and, if we are taught by the Holy Spirit, we can be satisfied with no less.-James Smith.

A Page for the Young.

THE YOUTHFUL MARTYR.

Perhaps some little readers who have learned from the 'Page for the Young," how happy those are who love and follow Christ, and the misery of those that reject Him, may think to themselves, “Oh, I should like to be one of Christ's little lambs! But, then, my companions would teaze and laugh at me so! I cannot become a christian just yet!” Here is a story about a boy who was not ashamed of the crucified Jesus, but bore for His sake far more than it is likely any of my readers will ever be called on to endure. Will not his example make them ashamed of their weakness and timidity?

In Cæsarea, in the year 258 after the birth of Christ, a child, called Cirillus, manifested uncommon steadfastness. He called without ceasing on the name of Christ, and no sort of ill-treatment or blows could deter him from a public confession of christianity. Many children of his own age persecuted him, and his own father drove him from his house, and was praised by many for thus shewing his zeal for heathenism. The judge ordered the boy to be brought before him, and addressed him thus : “My child, I will pardon thy fault, and thy father will take thee back again. It is in thy power to be placed in the enjoyment of thy father's possessions, provided thou art wise, and do not despise thy good fortune." "I wil. lingly bear your reproaches,” replied the child; “God will receive me; I am not sorry at being driven from my father's house; I shall obtain a better dwelling; I fear not death, for it will introduce me to a better life.” After having been strengthened by the grace of God to deliver this good confession, the judge commanded that he should be bound, and led away to execution. Hoping that the sight of the fire would conquer his resolution, secret orders had been given to bring him again before the judge. Cirillus remained unmoveable. Humanity induced the judge anew to remonstrate with him. “Your fire and sword have no terrors for me,” said the young martyr; “I am going to a better home, to more excellent riches. Let me rather die immediately, that I may enter on the enjoyment of them.” The spectators wept with emotion. “You should rather rejoice,” said he, “while you to death. You do not know what a city I shall inhabit, and what a hope I possess.” Thus he went to meet death, and was a wonder to the whole town. Out of the mouths of children God has prepared himself praise !

lead me away

OUR OWN CONSEQUENCE.

ocean.

We think of our own consequence, our talents, our attainments. We think what a breach will be made when we die. We think of the mourners who will gather around us with broken hearts. We think of the solemn, sad procession that will go with us to the tomb. We look at our own affairs and press them forward, as if everything else should give way to them, and as if the world had no interests so great that they may not be required to yield to our convenience.

Now, how contrary all this is to truth and reality, it is hardly necessary to attempt to shew. Few will care about it at all when we die; and the world at large will care nothing, and know nothing, about it. A very little circle of friends will be affected as a little circle of water is agitated when a drop of rain falls into the

At the centre of that small circle of friends, there will be some deep emotion, and some tears of genuine grief will be shed; at a very little distance, the emotion will be fainter and feebler; at a point but a little remote there will be none; and soon, very soon, all the agitation there was will have died away. Every vestige, that we ever lived upon the earth will have vanished. All the little memorials of our remembrance

—the lock of hair or the portrait-will cease to have the slightest value to any living being.

On my grassy grave
The men of future times will careless tread,
And read my name upon the sculptured stone;
Nor will the sound, familiar to the ears,

memory.” And yet, reader, though this is true and affecting, the converse is equally solemn. Die though you will and be forgotten, the influence you are exerting will

You live in a great world, and with many thousands of individuals you come into contact; you never come into contact with one upon

whom

you

do not exert an influence for good or for evil.

And long after you are gone, and when your name is for ever blotted out of the records of the past, still your influence will be working. Say, will it be for good, or will it be for evil?

Recall

my

vanished

never cease.

« PreviousContinue »