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it easy to think with indifference of a kingdom, or anything else that is far out of my reach, and beyond my desire ; but I feel very differently when thinking of my own pretty cottage and garden, and who will come after me to possess them when I am gone. The greenhouse and grapery are more than a kingdom to me ; and the sorrow I felt when last winter made such havoc among our choice plants, made me sensible that the love of the world is not yet dead in me.”
“But, Anthony, what should you say to spending an eternity in your present circumstances ?”
“No, master, no; blessed be God, he will not put me off with that. I do look for a better country, that is, a heavenly. Mine has been a happy lot on earth : goodness and mercy
have followed me all my days, and, as far as this world
goes, I have nothing more to desire ; but it would not do for a lasting portion. If I were to live here always, I must give up the hope of seeing God as he is, and of being made free from sin and that would turn all to a blank. No; among the unnumbered benefits that demand my daily gratitude, this is worth more than all the rest, the hope of something better in store. Then shall I be satisfied, when I behold his face in righteousness, and awake with his likeness.”
With this quotation by my uncle, the conversation closed ; and it proved the last time of my hearing those two excellent men converse together.
The last time my uncle had a party at his house, it was with a view to bring together some excellent
persons, who, on account of differences in religious views and observances, had been somewhat estranged from each other. My uncle's
enlightened candour and moderation, as well as the general esteem in which he was held, qualified him, in no ordinary degree, for so delicate an undertaking. And then, he was an old man,
his bodily vision nearly closed on earth, his spiritual views of eternity clear, lively, and influential. He spoke as one on the confines of heaven, and his speech dropped as the rain, and distilled the dew. It was gentle, pervading, and powerful : and his friends, while each felt conscious only of affectionate veneration towards him, were insensibly drawn nearer to each other. I observed that my uncle carefully avoided the introduction of any topic that might lead to a discussion of points on which the parties differed, and led to those on which all Christians can agree; the perfect union and happiness of the saints in the presence of their Lord in heaven, and the duty and honour of labouring for the promotion of his cause on earth. The restraint which was at first visible on most of the guests gradually wore off; one remark or anecdote after another was elicited, tending to establish in the minds of all the party the pleasing conviction, that, notwithstanding minor differences in externals, they were all one in essentials, one in dependence, aim, and expectation. Certain it is, that after that interview, Mr. Neville was never heard to cry down Mr. Osborne as a mere legalist, nor Mr. Osborne to charge Mr. Neville with latitudinarianism. Mr. Leathley and Mr. Travers were much more moderate in their censures of their respective ecclesiastical peculiarities, against which they had been accustomed to deal out very hard names; and Mr. Fenn and Mr. Groves, whose names before could never appear on the same com
mittee, and hardly on the same subscription list, soon afterwards became treasurer and secretary to a valuable institution, deprived of the services of my good uncle by death, and of another gentleman by removal; and those offices they have, to the present day, filled with mutual harmony and great efficiency. Their intercourse has grown into cordial friendship, in which their families participate with mutual advantage. No one of the parties has relinquished his previous opinions and practices; but all have learned to admit the conviction that there are some things on which we may safely and conscientiously agree to differ.
The last sermon my uncle heard was from the words, “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed,” Rom. xiii. 11. He entered into the subject with deep and lively interest ; and it apparently gave a tinge to his meditations during the short remainder of his days. There was no particular reason, at the time, to imagine that that was his last sermon; for he was then in ordinary health, much as he had been for several months : but so it proved. I have often thought of it since, and endeavoured to realize the solemnity with which we should listen to a sermon, if we knew that it was our last.
On the following Monday evening, my uncle wound
his favourite clock for the last time. It was a curious and valuable piece of mechanism, that had been in the family for several generations. The servants had never been permitted to wind it up, even when my uncle became nearly blind. That night, as he wound it up, he said, in evident allusion to the subject that had been so recently and so interestingly presented to his mind,
“On all the wings of time it flies,
Each moment brings it near ;
And each revolving year.
Nor many mornings rise,
To our admiring eyes." When next the evening came for winding up the clock, it was forgotten ; for the venerable master was confined to the chamber of sickness, and concern for him engrossed all the household. Next day it was observed that the clock was down; Mrs. Rogers said she could not have the heart to touch it, nor was she willing that any
person should. She hoped, or rather, she wished, that her dear master might be able to do it himself. He never again came down stairs to do it. The last business in which
uncle was engaged, was an effort to effect a reconciliation between two beloved friends, who had long been at variance. He was dictating a letter on the subject, when seized with alarming faintness, which proved the harbinger of fatal illness. The letter was never finished: but the conciliatory sentiments breathed in the fragment, and the views it expressed as entertained by one so near an eternal world, of the vanity of earthly possessions, and the sinfulness and folly of making them objects of contention, fell with due force on the parties. The matters in dispute were fairly and amicably adjusted through my uncle's instrumentality, though he did not live to see it ; and, as far as I know, the harmony then established, has not since been interrupted.
My uncle's last will did honour to his judgment and to his heart : not a relative was forgotten; not one aged person who had long been a pensioner on his bounty, was left to bewail, together with the loss of a venerated benefactor, the loss of those comforts which age and feebleness rendered necessary, and which his kindness had rendered attainable. To his faithful housekeeper was entrusted the charge of continuing to them their stated allowances and occasional gifts, for the remainder of their lives; while for herself, and every other servant, was made a liberal provision, according to the nature and duration of their services. The will bore date many years before my uncle's death ; and the only alterations made were for the sake of expressing his good will to some of the noble societies which had more recently sprung into existence. I never heard any person, interested or otherwise, censure my uncle's disposition of his property.
My uncle's last attack did not at first appear more formidable than several from which he had recovered. For some days, those around him hoped that he would again recover. I do not think he expected it himself; but he seemed perfectly satisfied to leave the issue in the hands of God. In no ordinary degree, he manifested a cheerful willingness to labour to the last, together with an earnest desire to depart and be with Christ. His. last hours were peace, a peace founded on faith in Christ, and sustained by the hope of soon being absent from the body and present with the Lord. His last expressions were characterized by humility, gratitude, and holy confidence. He found his principles firm and unshaken in the trying hour,