« PreviousContinue »
Narratives, Anecdotes, &c.
“ MEET ME IN HEAVEN.” Such were the last words of a young and lovely wife to the object of her early and constant affection. Such was the charge a husband received at the lips of his dying partner, just before the vital spark had fled, and with it so much of the happiness of that home.
It was night; every sound was hushed, every object shrouded in thick darkness, and the dim rushlight that cheered the vigils of Joseph P. scarcely threw its rays into the corners of the room. There is something congenial with our ideas of a peaceful death in the stillness of such a season,-something in nature at this period that seems to blend with our moral feelings, and add to the solemnity of the occasion. One mind, at this time, was taking a last review of the scenes of mortality,mone gentle spirit was breathing a departing prayer over all that had injured or consoled, grieved or agitated, her in this lower world. She thought of her children long since retired to rest, and who, wrapt in balmy sleep, were unconscious that, ere the morning sun woke them to wonted activity, their dearest earthly parent would be gone. She recollected, however, with pleasure, that there was not one of them whose mind was not stored with some portion of heavenly truth, learnt from that voice which they should now hear no more; and that each had been taught to bend the knee, and pray to their Father in heaven. But what afforded this christian mother the most lively solace and delight, was the fact that though her children might wander without an earthly friend over the spot where her own ashes should rest, however their surviving parent might forget or neglect his duty, she had joyfully committed them to the Friend of the destitute and forlorn, who, when all forsook them, would then take them up. But the disconsolate man who sat by her side, and ever and anon bent over her in anxious sorrow, was the object of her last earthly solicitude. For him she feared; and it was apprehension on his account, which caused her last earthly care, till all was forgotten in everlasting peace. Notwithstanding all his endeavours at conceal. ment, she knew that he had become connected with loose characters, and she justly feared that, as a companion of fools, he too might be destroyed.
Midnight had now considerably passed, but this was only indicated in their dwelling by an old fashioned clock which had many years ago ceased to strike. The deep sound of the bell in the village spire, that adds so much to the impressive solemnity of the night watches, died away before it reached this secluded spot. Joseph's cottage was situ. ated some distance from other habitations, on the edge of an extensive wood, the sphere of his daily occupation. Here he might have spent his days and nights in patriarchal simplicity, had not the noisy fellowship of the village alehouse sometimes tempted him astray. It was there he became acquainted with those worthless individuals who were so likely to become his ruin, and spent the inoney that should have provided for the wants and comforts of a sickly wife and increasing family. All these recollections came into his mind, and, connected as they were with the beloved one whose uncomplaining sufferings from such conduct would so soon be over, filled him with shame and re. morse. Joseph was a proud man, but he determined to confess his faults, and ask his wife's forgiveness, before she died.
Just then the sound of firing was heard, apparently within a few rods of the cottage, and, shortly after, heavy blows on the door, which shook the casement, and rattled every pane of glass. Joseph was too well aware of the unlawful deeds of his associates, not to feel some apprehension of the nature of the errand that had brought them so clamorously, and, at that unseasonable hour, to his house. However, he quickly ran down stairs, and on giving admittance to a group of desperate fellows, soon learned the particulars of the case. They had had an encounter with the gamekeepers, in which one of their number was wounded, which circumstance had obliged them to seek conceal. ment in Joseph's cottage, as, from his hitherto unsuspected character, it was not probable they would be followed here.
They were not long in throwing out hints, that since Joseph had been so unexpectedly favoured with their company, they hoped he would treat them; fortifying their opinion by one or two fallacious maxims relative to strong drinks, which are now seldom heard except from those who love rather than approve of indulgence in them. Thus encountered, their host had not the courage to refuse what his house could afford; in the free use of this they soon became noisy, and, in spite of his remonstrances, one followed another in vulgar songs, and, emboldened by liquor, they loudly cursed the game laws, and keepers, and all the country magistrates, by turn. At length, they one by one fell asleep in their chairs, and Joseph crept slowly up stairs, fearing to encounter, and yet not daring longer to be absent from, his dying wife. To his vexation, he found that he had left open the door of her little room, in his hurry to adınit his midnight visitors; so that the unhappy woman had been the unwilling listener to all the lawless conversation that had been passing below. As Joseph approached her bedside, he saw that she was fast sinking, and told, by a glance of her eye, that all hope of concealment, on his part, of any transaction of the night, was over. The few but earnest words that passed between those who were soon to be separated, at least on earth,—the last accents of warm affection, and yet bursting grief, are far too secret and too sacred to meet the stranger's eye. No syllable of reproach was there, -no language of rebuke was uttered; but the burden of the prayer that had so often arisen to heaven's mercy-seat, was comprised
in the last dying exclamation of hope or fear, ere both were for ever done away,
"Meet me in heaven.” As the spirit departed from the body, and winged its way to the throne of God, Joseph sunk on his knees, and, for the first time in his life, breathed a prayer from a broken and contrite heart. The last exhortation of melting affection was like a nail fastened in a sure place. He thought on his wife's blameless life and peaceful death, and as he contrasted them with his own waywardness and miserable disquietude, the prayer of the publican was his, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” He rose from his knees an altered man. The Spirit of grace was forming his soul anew, and purifying his heart by faith. From this time he lived a life of constant and fervent prayer, of willing though imperfect obedience, of ardent love to that Saviour whom he felt to be all his salvation and all his hope.
Joseph's four motherless children now found a father indeed; one who, while he provided for their bodily wants, had learned that higher wisdom, to care for their souls. By him they were regularly sent to a place of Sabbath instruction, and more than this, were taught at their own fire-side the truth as it is in Jesus, and the wonders of redeeming love. All these are now grown up, and are honestly and usefully employed for their daily bread. And better far than this, they are following in the steps of their parents, and entertain a firm and well-grounded confidence of meeting them in the Jerusalem above. Yes, the dying mother's prayer will doubtless be answered; they shall be guided through all the troubles of this world, and, sustained by Almighty power, shall go from strength to strength, till every one of them in Zion appeareth before God. Then shall faith be swallowed up in victory, hope expire in full and glorious fruition, when they shall at last be crowned with a happy and triumphant meeting, “
no wanderer lost, one family in heaven.” Dear reader, perhaps there are few of us who have not a beloved relation or friend “passed into the heavens.” Have not all of us been called to shed a parting tear, to receive a dying blessing, to take a farewell charge ? Let the remembrance of such scenes be ever present in our thoughts,-let such recollections abide with us continually, and such admonitions deeply affect our minds. But oh, let them lead us to the peace-speaking blood of Jesus,-lead us to a believing reception of his gracious words, to a devout wrestling with God, till we obtain the blessing, and prayer be turned into praise. May both reader and writer obtain like precious faith, live in the joyful experience of the same blessed hope, and at last be gathered to one eternal rest.
DELAY IS DANGEROUS. “I once,” said an American minister, “knew a youth of sixteen, the son and hope of pious parents, and the favourite of a large circle
of acquaintances. He was my friend. We went together to the school-room, to the play-ground, to our chamber. I have seen him while listening to the pleadings of parental faithfulness urging him to immediate repentance, and warning him, by a brother's recent grave, of the danger of delay. He listened in silence and respectful attention, but the alluring pleasures of youth dazzled him, and he resolved to leave religion for a future day.
“One evening he met a circle of youthful acquaintances. It was a gay circle, and a thoughtless one. In the midst of their mirth his eye fell upon a hymn book. He opened it and read,
• And must this body die,
Lie mould'ring in the clay?' He laid down the book, and forgot its warning voice. Late that evening he came to my chamber breathing short like one who had been walking fast, and laid down by my side. After some time he turned to me and said, “Will you get up and give me a glass of water, I feel unwell ?' I arose and called the family. He was manifestly ill, but not apparently in immediate danger. The next morning he
A physician was called, but did not understand his case. Search was at length made, and it was found that, by mistake, he had taken a dose of deadly poison. The hand of death was then
For three hours his body was writhing in agony, but that was forgotten in the more excruciating agony of the soul. I heard his minister tell him of a merciful Saviour. I heard his father, kneeling by his bedside, pour out to God the most agonizing prayer for him that language could express. I heard his mother exclaim, ‘Oh, my son, my son !' till she swooned and sunk upon the floor. I heard him, as he tossed from side to side, cry out, 'O Lord, have mercy on my soul! O my God, have mercy upon me, mercy, mercy!' and then reaching out his hands to his father he exclaimed, 'I am lost! I am lost ! am I not, father ?' His breath grew shorter, and his voice fainter, until, raising his hands as if he would cry 'mercy' once more, he expired. Fifteen years have rolled away since I heard those cries of dying agony, but they ring in my ears now as it were but an hour ago. That look of fierce despair is now in my eye, and my ears echo with the cry, 'I am lost! I am lost! am I not, father?' How can I forget them ? They came froin the death-bed of my friend, and that friend my only beloved brother. “Reader, by my brother's dying groans, by the tears which fall
paper while I think upon him, and by the amazing sacrifice on Calvary, I beseech you remember and lay to heart the truth you are here taught, that "Now is the accepted time. Now is the day of salvation !'"
AN AWFUL CONTRAST.
Contrast the calm and settled peace enjoyed by the earnest christian, with the turbulent and restless life of the votary of fashion. Hear the language of the devoted missionary Brainard, when near the ter. mination of his arduous life: “My heaven is to please God and glorify him: that is the heaven I long for; that is my religion, and that is my happiness; and all those that are of that religion shall meet me in heaven. I do not go to heaven to be advanced, but to give glory to God. It is no matter where I shall be stationed in heaven, whether I have a high or a low seat there; but to love, and please, and glorify God, is all. Had I a thousand souls, if they were worth any thing, I would give them all to God; but I have nothing to give when all is done. There is nothing in the world worth living for but doing good and finishing God's work; doing the work that Christ did. I see nothing else in the world that can yield any satisfaction besides living to God, pleasing him, and doing his will."
Hear now, and mark, the awful contrast. The following is an extract from a letter dictated by Madame du Daffant (a French lady of fashion) to Horace Walpole, a short time before her death :- :-"Tell me why, detesting life, I yet dread to die. Nothing convinces me that any thing will survive myself; on the contrary, I perceive the dissolution of my mind as well as that of my body. All that is said on one side or the other makes no impression upon me; I only listen to my own sensations, and I find only doubt and obscurity. ‘Believe,' I am told, “that is the safest way.' How can I believe that which I do not understand? But, if I am not pleased with others, I am still less so with myself. I have more difficulty in enduring myself than any one besides.” This state of mind was what might have been anticipated from the society in which she had, during life, delighted; that, namely, of Voltaire, Grimm, Hume, and the rest of the philosophers. And her melancholy end was in precise accordance with the tenor of her life. Death seized her while in the act of playing at cards, in the midst of a circle of her gay and thoughtless friends ; and so little concerned were the rest of the party at the solemn erent which had just occurred, that they resolved, with a hardened indifference rarely to be equalled, to play out their game before they gave the alarm.
We may well shudder at such a conclusion to this life of folly and dissipation; and, oh, let us earnestly watch and pray that our closing scene may be a far different one. Let us now begin the christian life; seek to fulfil our appointed mission on earth; see to it that the influ. ence we exercise is a high and a holy one; then shall we realize the happiness of the servant of God in this life; then especially shall we obtain the happiness of the life to come.