Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

been so much engaged in public business, and had so often presided at the meetings of the managers of the several institutions with which she was connected, she was often heard to say, that she felt herself the very least among them.

The so of this distinguished female will be more highly appreciated, when it is observed, that she had constantly to contend with ver painful and distressing nervous affections. Had not her mind been uncommonly strong, she would have been unable to resist their influence. Overpowered by such a weight, a mind of the ordinary class would have sunk into inaction, and sought

relief, not by a vigorous application

to the duties of life, but by yielding to the disheartening influence of her feelings. But Mrs. R. had resolution enough to rise above this difficulty. She was more active than many a female in the enjoyment of perfect health. The strength of her mind was particularly manifested a little before her decease. Desirous of seeing her daughter, who is settled in Albany, she, with her accustomed resolution, set out from home, and accomplished her purpose, when it was apprehended her infirmities

would compel her to return before

she reached that city. “Whatsoever thine hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might: for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.” It were happy, if we could always act under the influence of this wise maxim. Our days are few ; and in expectation of a speedy removal from this world, we ought assiduously to attend to the duties of life, whatever they may be. From the complaints to which Mrs. R. had latterly been subject, their similarity, as she supposed, to those by which some of her family had been removed, and her approach to the age at which her sister and mother had departed life, she apprehended she would not live long.

This expectation quickened her exertions, and made her the more anxious to see habitations reared, one for the orphan children, and another for the aged and dependent females. On her efforts, seconded by her associates in the work of benevolence, it pleased the Most High to smile. She lived to see both families comfortably settled in buildings that reflect credit on the libeo of this city, and particularly on the zeal and enterprise of those ladies who have managed the concerns of the two societies by whom they have been erected. These ladies are justly entitled to a shafe in the praise of the important work accomplished for relieving the sufferings of human nature. They have put forth their hand to wipe away the tear from the widow’s eye, and sooth the sorrows of her heart: They supply the place of parents to those poor children, who, but for their friendly aid, might have grown up without a guide or protector. But all feel how much they owed to the activity and influence of that distinguished female, who long presided over their societies with so much judgment, zeal, and care. In the last anniversary meetings of these societies, ample testimony was borne to the worth of her character. With one voice Mrs. R. was acknowledged as the founder of both these valuable institutions. Whatever is excellent in human character comes from God. Mrs. R. felt herself to be but an instrument in his hand for doing good. She therefore applied to this work of benevolence in humble dependence on his blessing. “What,” said an intimate friend, when she found her, just before the illness that terminated her life, surrounded with the papers belonging to one of the societies, “what shall we do when you are removed?” “Stop,” was her reply, as her friend was proceeding in her remarks, “I am nothing more than the chair on which you sit: a mere instrument in the hand of God. If he has been pleased to use me as an instrument for doing good, the praise is his, not mine: and he can, with perfect ease, raise up another to fill my place, when I am gone.” It was the will of God to remove this useful woman unexpectedly, after a short illness, and in a different way from what the shortsighted wisdom of man might have wished. The disease was of such a nature as to cut off all communication between her and her family. They had the melancholy office of watching its rapid progress, but were deprived of the satisfaction of listening to her parting admonitions. . It pleased Almighty God to deny her the use of the requisite faculties. In contemplating this painful dispensation, may we not perceive in st kindness and mercy to the deceased ? for, observed one most deeply interested, had she enjoyed the use of her faculties, she would have felt desirous to make so many communications in regard to the charitable institutions, that the sufferings of a dying bed might have been greatly increased. The removal of such a woman from a scene of so much usefulness, may seem a mysterious providence. But let us look at it more closely, and we may perhaps discover some reasons that will satisfy us that it was wise and good. The complaints with which she had been lately afflicted, were such as to afford little ground for indulging the hope of her being able still to hold on in her accustomed course of active exertions. There was too much cause to apprehend, that, if spared, her increasing infirmities would wholly disqualify her for the work in which she delighted. How painful would have been such a condition' To feel the desire of doing good, but to be deprived of the ability of fo that desire! To behold the sphere of usefulness enlarging, but to be compelled to retire from it! In mercy the Lord was pleased to save

his handmaiden from a trial so seWere.

Besides, had her life been protracted for years in such circumstances, her influence must have greatly declined, and her death would have made but little impression on the public mind. But being removed from this world at a time when her influence was yet unimpaired, and from a scene of active usefulness, the attention of the community has been powerfully arrested; and her brilliant example, unobscured by a period of diminished exertion, or cessation from beneficent labours, is left, in all its lustre, to produce its full effect, and incite to holy emulation her surviving associates in the work of mercy and love, as well as others of that sex who have it in their power to do so much good, and contribute so efficiently in reforming a wicked world. Those valuable institutions over which she presided, remain, we trust, in faithful hands; and although the managers will feel the loss both of her counsel and of her efforts, yet they will go on cheerfully in their interesting work, relying for success on the blessing of Him who has been pleased to style himself “A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows in his holy habitation.” The example of the deceased, it is hoped, will produce a beneficial effect on many a female mind. And were all who are blest with mental endowments, and placed in affluent circumstances, to copy after it; and if, instead of confining their attention to the small circle of family and friends, and being engrossed with an anxiety to make a show in the fashionable world, they were to pity the wants of poor widows and fatherless children, and to devise methods for doing good; what a different aspect would the community assume, and how would streams of consolation flow out to water and gladden many a dreary abode of poverty and wretchedness!

“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; yea saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” Every good work that is done in faith will be noticed and rewarded by the Judge of quick and dead, in the final day. But no good work, nor all the good works of the greatest saint that ever lived, could constitute the ground of his acceptance before God. Here all stand on the same level; all must be indebted for this necessary blessing to the finished righteousness of Jesus Christ. Mrs. R. was too well acquainted with the gospel of our blessed Saviour, to depend for justification on any works of mercy she had done. She felt herself to be a sinner, like others, who needed the cleansing efficacy of the blood of Christ. On this rock were built all her hopes, not on the quicksand of human merit. That aged and venerable servant of Christ, Mr. Eastburn, had a very interesting conversation with her just before her illness; when, with tears flowing down her cheeks, she complained of the perverseness of her heart, and want of resignation to the divine will, and discovered manifest signs of deep humility, and renunciation of all dependence on personal merit. To an intimate female friend, who paid her a visit just after the conversation with Mr. E. and saw how her eyes were affected with weeping, she exhibited similar marks of the sense she had of her own unworthiness in the sight of infinite Purity. “I want,” she said, “to see the vile and odious nature of sin; not on account of the future torments which it brings on the transgressor, but on account of its opposition to the holy will of God.”

Religion has its seat in the heart. It consists in its conformity to the divine will. External duties are doubtless required; and the man

who does not perform them will in vain lay claim to the internal prinVol. I,

ciples of piety. But it is well known that the discharge of many of them may be found apart from that love, without which they in fact constitute no part of true and acceptable obedience. Paul, before his conversion, had been attentive to all the ceremonies of the Jewish religion, and blameless in his outward deportment; yet, when by the illumination of the Holy Spirit he discovered the real state of his heart, he found himself a deluded sinner, whose only hope could be derived from pure and sovereign mercy. Phil. iii. 4–6. Acts ix. 1–9. Rom. vii. 7–11. This same apostle has taught us that no acts of charity to the poor how costly soever, no gifts of the Spirit how splendid soever, unaccompanied by sincere love to God and man, can avail us in the sight of that pure and holy Being, who looks upon the heart and demands its supreme and ardent affections. 1 Cor. xiii. 1–3. Attention to the institutions of religion, without inward devotion, may procure for us the character of devout persons, in the estimation of our fellow creatures; but in the sight of Jehovah, who requires us to worshi

him in spirit and in truth, we shall appear no better than a body from which the animating spirit has fled. Acts of charity done from a principle of ostentation, or from

mere natural benevolence, may ob

tain for us a name, and be followed with temporal rewards; but they will not amount to that charity

which the law of God demands, nor will they be noticed with commendation in that great day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed. A professor of religion may be so far conscious of general sincerity in his devotions, and of the general purity of his motives in his outward acts of righteousness and mercy, as to satisfy his mind that he possesses that saving faith in Christ Jesus, which lies at the foundation of all true religion, and gains acceptance for our imperfect ser

vices with a holy God; and yet perceive much want of conformity in his heart to the divine law, and feel deeply humbled on account of his remaining corruptions. The religion of Mrs. Ralston was the religion of the gospel. It consisted, not in a show of outward devotion, notin mere external virtues; but in those great internal principles prescribed in the gospel; such as faith in Jesus Christ, contrition of heart on account of sin, love to God and man. She well knew that no sinner can gain acceptance with God, but by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: that repentance to be genuine must spring, not from a dread of everlasting punishment, tormenting and distracting the soul; but from a view of its hateful nature as opposed to the infinite purity and holy will of our Sovereign Lawgiver, sweetly melting and dissolving the heart into penitential shame and godly sorrow: and that without love

to God and man, the invariable fruit

of true faith, devotions degenerate into mere form, and acts of charity amount to nothing more than the show of obedience. “Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.” An affecting, humbling sense of remaining depravity in the heart, so far from indicating the want of grace, is a proof of growth in it. In proportion as a Christian obtains clearer views of the spotless purity of the Supreme Being, will increase his abasing conviction of his own want of conformity to the divine will. When Job, that distinguished Saint, beheld the glory of God, he abhorred himself and repented in dust and ashes; Job xlii. 5, 6.: and Paul, when approaching the glories of a martyr’s crown, after a life of pre-eminent devotion to his Lord and Master, expressed the sense he had of the remains of inherent deFo in the strongest and most umiliating language. Romans vii. 23, 24. God determines in a sovereign

manner the circumstances of our death, as well as the circumstances of our birth. The nature of her disease was such that Mrs. R. was not permitted to bear a testimony on her dying bed to that religion, which had given all her hopes for eternity, and regulated her life. Such a testimony might have been a consolation to her afflicted relatives; but it was by no means necessary to determine her character. Her Christian character had been formed for years; and the principles of it attested by their genuine fruits, that will long remain as a memorial of her excellence. In the death of this distinguished Christian woman, her husband has lost a judicious counsellor;-her children a valuable mother;-the poor an active and beneficent friend; —the orphan a tender and watchful parent;-the widow a sister, who kindly soothed the sorrows of an aching heart;-and society one of its brightest ornaments. All mourn her departure. But why weep? Let us lift the eye of faith, and behold her resting from all her labours in the mansions of blessedness. “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” J. J. J.

isitiigious intelligence.

J. Letter from the Rev. J. E. Coulin, dated Geneva, Oct. 3, 1820, to a Theological Student.

Sir and very dear Brother in Jesus Christ our Lord:

If in opening this letter, you look at the signature, you will read a name which is perhaps completely unknown, or which will recal to your mind but a vague and doubtful remembrance. I never had the advantage of being acquainted with you; } only remember to have seen you two or three times when you were in Geneva, and to have heard of you by my mother, who was acquainted with yours, and who has this in common with her, that she has finished this life, which is so little as to the body, and of so great consequence as to the soul. I know moreover who you are, where you are, what vocation you purpose to embrace, what progress you appear to have made in the knowledge of the gospel. I am myself a pastor in the church of Christ, very weak yet in the faith; but desirous to be strengthened, and to advance the cross of the Saviour. These are all the relations which we have together; and you will think, perhaps, that there ought to be more to begin a correspondence with you, especially when you come to consider the distance which separatesus. Nevertheless, you will have to receive and to read this letter, which I am pleased to be called to address you, and to which I hope you will do me the honour of an answer. But to the point. We have in our country a society founded for the purpose of advancing the kingdom of the Lord Jesus, both at home and abroad. This society, still small, admits among its members none but those who subscribe some one of the confessions of faith of our reformers. It is inimical to the new doctrines which Satan propagates in many parts of the world, called Christian. It wishes above all, and solely, the glory of Him who “was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities.” It seeks after the children of God, and is pleased to o as much as possible, with those who are regenerated by divine grace, and animated with the spirit of adoption in Jesus Christ; and it is in consequence of the end which it proposes itself, that after the reading of a letter which you wrote to your relations, believing that you possess, the marks of true Christianity, it has charged me to write to you, to ask you to contribute to our edification, by corresponding with us on whatever relates to the kingdom of God among men. One of your countrymen from Ame

rica, Mr. Bruen, whom perhaps you know, has already given us several accounts on the state of religion in the United States; and we have experienced a great joy in learning from him what was, in the new world, the success of Bible and miso societies. The religious pa: pers from England inform us of many interesting things; but we are eager to receive good news; and it is for us a real happiness to hear the shouts of victory of those who, on all sides, fight under the standards of their chief; who, without show and without splendour, is, nevertheless, girt with glory, majesty, empire and honour. The angels in heaven, and the elect in the dwellings of their heavenly, Father, cry one to another, holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; and they rejoice in the conversion of the least sinner. If we make a part of the kingdom of Christ, we ought to animate one another in the same manner, and to rejoice in the same manner at the progress of the gospel. And how wonderful in this respect are the times in which we live, sir, and very dear brother! How beautiful it is to see those that are spiritually dead, coming to life at the hearing of the word of the Master; the blind recovering their sight, the deaf the faculty of hearing, the lame the use of their feet; to contemplate, to listen to the wonders of divine mercy; to run to to Saviour, and to receive from him these ravishing words: “Your sins are forgiven you; I have ransomed you; there is no condemnation for those who are in me, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” Europe is now in a singular and happy fermentation, , Amidst the sleep of death in which it is yet in a great measure plunged, we hear a multitude of souls who awake, and who come to Christ to be enlightened with his benevolent light. Four thousand Bible societies, several missionary societies, several associations for prayer, and for the reading of the

« PoprzedniaDalej »