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" THE RIGHTEOUS HATH HOPE IN HIS DEATH." How very different do we feel when hearing or reading of the trials, afflictions, and sorrows of others, to what we do when it comes home, close home, to ourselves. We may sympathise, and that deeply, with our friends in affliction, but the feeling is very different when it enters our own house ; and, while we feel to be living in a dying world, and being continually reminded by the removal of one and another of our friends and acquaintances that we have here no continuing dwelling-place-yes, when death for the first time enters our own house, and cuts down with a stroke a loved child or a tender and affectionate wife, we feel as though we never saw death as a reality. Before we had thought of death, and mourned the departure of dear friends, but we had never before seen the king of terrors in all his terrible power, and felt its solemn effects—how it loosens our grasp of even the lawful things of time; how one's mind is solemnly awed; how one sees“Vanity, vanity, vanity” is stamped upon all ; how one envies not the rich and great with all their pomp and show; how one's friends and companions in the Lord, with whom one had taken sweet counsel, seem to fail in giving that comfort and consolation which is their wont. We feel, and deeply feel, one thing is needful-nothing but the Lord will do. Come, thou much-loved and long-expected Guest, come take possession of one's troubled breast.
“Let others stretch their arms like seas,
And grasp in all the shore-
And I desire no more.” Thy love alone can cheer this dungeon where I dwell; here we are surrounded by death and dying ; in the Lord alone is life. The nearest and strongest of earthly ties are one by one being snapped asunder. Those who were once our friends are changed to foes; real friends are growing cold, and standing aloof; enemies are gaining a victory; all things in nature appears to be revolutionized, and one sighs and feelingly cries“Jesus, Lover of my soul,
“Hide me, oh, my Saviour, hide Let me to Thy bosom fly,
Till the storm of life is past, While the raging billows roll,
Safe into the haven guide, While the tempest still is high. Oh, receive my soul at last." These are some of the thoughts and feelings which have possessed one's breast through the removing by death of the beloved partner of one's life, the sharer of one's sorrows and joys, one that at all times and under all circumstances manifested that deep concern for one's welfare, that kind and tender care for one's comfort, that loving and affectionate sympathy in one's every distress, that meek and amiable disposition which characterizes but few of the gentler sex. How every movement of one's mind, and the common occurrences of every day, brings afresh to one's thoughts the many little acts of tenderness and affection performed by the dear departed—how one seems to miss the loving smile and warm grasp of the hand, with which one was almost invariably greeted at the door after an absence from home, with a, “I am so glad you are come, dear; how is it you are so late ? I was afraid you were not coming." These seem little common-place matter-of-course things while life lasts, but when death comès and takes away the dear object of one's love, with what different feelings are they regarded.
How often does it occur with the Christian that while sustaining some heavy load, a burden, which appears to crush him to the earth, and while writhing beneath the strokes of God's correcting rod, he cries with the psalmist, “Thine hand presseth me sore; I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long; I am feeble and sore broken; I roar by reason of the disquietness of my heart; Lord, all my desire is before thee, my strength faileth me; as for the light of mine eyes it is gone from me.” While thus lamenting, confessing, and crying, the Lord is pleased, for wise ends and gracious purposes, to lay on a heavier stroke, an altogether unlooked-for and never-before-experienced trial, which appears to strike the dying dead.
This was my case when the Lord was pleased to take from my side my beloved wife. Various things had combined to make one's path a path of real sorrow. One had left the harassing cares of business, and had gone into the West of England for a few days' rest and quiet, hoping the change would be the means of bracing one's nerves and cheering one's downcast spirits; but the night before one's return such gloom and despondency filled one's breast, and such darkness, such felt darkness, pervaded the mind, that one was apprehensive more trouble was near. Oh, how low one sank, and thought it impossible to bear any addition to one's already heavy load; but so it fell out that on reaching home one discovered the fact that the beloved one had been taken ill, and a medical man had been called in. She grew worse and worse, and in a day or two was obliged to take to her bed, and her medical attendant gave it as his decided opinion that she would not recover, her disease being that of rapid consumption. It now became a matter of the greatest moment to myself and others who loved her, and not less so to herself, how matters stood for eternity. She had been a reader and a lover of the truths contained in the GOSPEL MAGAZINE and other similar works for about fifteen years; many were the sips and crumbs she had picked upin their perusal. The editor'spieces in the Magazine were particularly sweet and encouraging to her, and she usually spoke of the writer as “dear Mr. Doudney," and deeply did she sympathise with him in his late bereavement. The late - Recluse was also a favourite writer with her, and lately she had found the papers by the "Old Pilgrim” precious to her; but the religion that wilf do very well when calmly and smoothly sailing down the river on a sunshiny day oftentimes proves insufficient to support the mind when called to cross the broad Atlantic in a tempestuous sea, especially when that storm is the terrible blast of death. All natural ties are now to be severed ; kind friends are to be seen and welcomed no more; the object of one's love is to be left behind; dear children which had been so fondly caressed are soon to be without a mother's tender care; the sweet babe is to be torn from the breast. Death is a solemn reality. Eternity, vast eternity, opens to view; every power of the mind is called into exercise ; every faculty of the soul is aroused; the sins of a whole life-time present themselves to view ; all the sins of childhood that had been buried for many years now stand up in array ; and she remarked, " What a wicked girl I was; what a wicked, thoughtless child! Oh, it is a solemn thing to be brought to the position I am in."
The disease continued to make terrible ravages on the constitution. She lost flesh in the most rapid manner, and in about three weeks was not able to move without assistance; her poor bones almost protruded through the skin, and she was literally brought into that position described in
Psalm xxii., “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my strength is dried up like a potsherd; and I am brought into the dust of death. I may tell all my bones : they look and stare upon me.” In this state a second medical man was called in, who concurred in the opinion already given, that she would not last long. She received the announcement quietly and calmly, remarking to her husband, “I must go, Walter,” and added, “I have only one request to make : it is that I may try Mr. C.'s treatment; the Lord may bless the means. I do not at all think that He will, but He may. The means are ours to use. After that I will not put you to any other expense." This request was, of course, gratified. Mr. C.'s medicine had the effect of reviving her for about ten days, when she relapsed into the same utter weakness and complete prostration. Her natural disposition being nervous and irritable, it was very remarkable with what patience she endured her sufferings, what resignation to the mind and will of God, and with what courage and fortitude she faced death; how grateful for every little kindness shown by those about her, and what deep sense she possessed of her own unworthiness; sometimes saying, upon a little wine being offered to her, “I am not worthy to take anything; I am a beast; I am unworthy.”
The following are a few of the sentences which fell from her lips during her short but most paintul illness. She complained of great hardness of heart, and lamented it most bitterly, and was sometimes heard praying vehemently, especially in the night season, in the following way." 0 Lord, have mercy upon me, have mercy upon me. Oh that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, and come down, and break this hard heart: break it, O Lord, in ten thousand pieces." It was a great trouble to her that she could not pray with her eyes
shut quietly to herself, for Satan, she said, lulled her to sleep, or presented objects to her view, and she did not like praying aloud, for fear of being heard. Thus a cloud of obstacles is raised to keep the seeking soul from Christ. But,” says Berridge, “ if thou press on the clouds will fly, though faint to Jesus cry, and He will send supplies.” To a friend she said, Oh, Mr. A- how hard
heart is ! how hard I feel it!” On being asked how she first came to go to chapel, she said she did not hardly know, only when a child a feeling came over her to go to chapel, and she continued to go all these years, and scarcely know what for, only felt a little in trouble about her soul; “but that is all nothing, if I am not one of God's elect. Oh to die, and not to know where I am going—to take a leap in the dark, how awful! Will you pray with me? I am so full of fears, I cannot feel myself a sinner great enough, and I can do nothing; it is the Lord who must do all Himself. You cannot help me; it is the Lord who must do that. Your conversation may be a help to me, if the Lord is pleased to bless it. Oh that I could feel myself a greater sinner! I am afraid it is merely to escape hell I am seeking after God, and not from a real love to Him. Oh, how I do desire to love God! Don't you build me up on a false foundation.” Still mourning hardness of heart, and fearing
no real change had taken place, “I do feel some outgoings after the Lord when I am here alone. Oh that He would come and make my hard heart soft. I do want to love Him so. Oh to think of dying, and my heart so hard. If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear ? I know I can do nothing; oh no, oh no." Found her sinking very fast; she said that she had no hope. "Oh that the Lord would shine upon me, and show me a token for good, and then take
me home-just one token, one little token." Still desiring the Lord's mercy, but fearing she knew nothing savingly. “Oh, how much I need His mercy! Oh, what a sinner I am! what a great sinner I am! How I do wish He would shine upon my poor soul!'
Found her more comfortable to-day; had found comfort from those words of the dying thief, “Lord, remember me.” She said, “ "The
thief found mercy, perhaps I may; but I fear it is all nothing. Found her today again mourning hardness of heart; she says, "How hard I am! I
" seem to have no feeling at all. My husband asked this morning what I desire to go to heaven for; was it merely to escape hell, or is it to enjoy the society of God and His saints ? Those words have almost killed me. I don't know anything. I am filled with confusion ; my nearest and dearest friends and relatives are nothing to me; it is the company of the poor dear children of God that I love. How exceedingly kind of dear Mrs. M- and dear Mrs. B- to take the trouble to come and see one so unworthy. I am astonished at their kindness, they spoke so feelingly
How kind they are. The Lord bless them. I only want the company of the godly, but feel unworthy of their notice. If I could but
I touch the hem of His [Jesus'] garment. The disciples, when they were journeying to Emmaus, their eyes were holden that they should not know Jesus; even so are my eyes holden that I cannot see Him. All gifts are nothing; we must have grace. Lord, remember me."
On her husband's asking the state of her mind this morning, “So dark, dark, dark !” “What, have you no hope ?" “No, not any." "Can you pray
?” “No, I cannot; I am so full of confusion." you feel any desire ?" “Yes, I have got a desire for the Lord. Oh, that He would appear; just one little token, the smallest token.” Clasping her hands, she said, “Do, Lord, remember me.”
Found her to-day sinking very fast. She said, "My heart is not quite so hard—feel a little melting of soul; but I want the Lord to appear fully to my soul. Will you read to me about Christ_being crucified between two thieves ? Oh, how I do want to love the Lord; but I fear I have never passed the change of heart. I could give up everything if the Lord would appear; but I suppose I am not one of His chosen. He will not, then, reveal Himself to me."
Found her to-day greatly distressed in mind, and tempted by Satan. "Satan,” she said, "has appeared to me, and told me you are trying to build up with a false hope, when I am nothing but a hypocrite ; and he will be sure to have me in hell, and that I was only afraid for Mr. Hto see me, because he would be sure to see what a hypocrite I am.'
Sunday morning. “I have got a little hope; if any of the friends at chapel ask for me, you can tell them I have a little hope; I feellike Jacob, 'I cannot let Thee go, except Thou bless me; ' using words in prayer is not enough."
Found her to-day more composed and comfortable; she had a hope. She said her heart was not quite so hard. Oh, how I do wish I was upon earth when the Lord was, and that I could have spoken to Him!” On being asked the state of her mind this morning she said, “Oh,
“I am a guilty, weak, and worthless worm
On Thy kind arms I fall,
That is my feeling. I am nothing but sin. To say we are sinners is not enough; we must feel it. On, that the Lord would pardon my sins, and take me home!”
This morning she said to her husband, “Oh, Walter dear, I have had such a happy feeling to-night. I was sitting up in the bed, and all of a sudden I felt as if the Lord was coming into the room, and there was such a happy pleasant feeling come over my spirit that I cannot describe. It was like shining through the lattice, and it gave me such a bright, shining hope in the Lord. Oh, thought I, I shall be able to tell
in the morning the Lord is come. But it was soon gone, it only lasted a minute; and now I fear it was all nothing, but it has left a sweet and pleasant feeling.” To her husband, who had been absent during the day, she said, “Mr.
-(our minister) has been to see me to-day. I found his visit very comforting. He quoted Romans the 8th and 24th. We are saved by hope.' I never thought of that. I never saw such beauty in the words before. I have got a hope, and the apostle says we are saved by hope. I find those words encouraging to me. At another time she said to her husband, “I have been comforted to-day, dear, from my old text, that I was enabled to rest upon, when dear Gad (her eldest little boy) was born; “This is our God for ever and ever, and will be our Guide even unto death."" Spoken with great emphasis, “eren unto death.” Some time after she said,
, "Oh, how rebellious I feel ! how rebellious I am!”
She was frequently heard fervently praying in the nights, “O Lord, give me patience-give me strength and patience—to bear it. Take me home, dear Lord, take me home. Don't let me be a trouble to them, reveal Thyself to my soul, and take me home.” Seeing her little boy weeping, she said, “Don't cry, my dear; it is God's will. Poor little fellow! Don't cry, my child; you have got your father left, and this is God's will that I should be brought here.” To her husband she said, “ Take care of Effie, dear, because her chest is delicate. I leave all the dear children to you and the Lord. Take care of poor little dear baby—I know you will. I cannot think how it is I am willing to leave the dear children. It seems most astonishing to me.
I have no wish to express to you. I leave it all. Let me share your troubles with you as long as I am hereit will not be long. We have lived and loved one another only a few years together. I should have liked, if it had been the Lord's will, to be spared a little longer to you and the dear children; but we must part some day. Don't fret, dear, it is the Lord's will.”
The night before she died she was very wandering in her mind at times, but for the most part was quiet and composed. She was frequently heard to be in prayer, and remarked, "I am so glad he (meaning her husband) has got a God to go to. The Lord bless him. Bless him for all his kindness to me. Poor fellow, how he does try to do all he can for me. Bless him and the dear children Thou hast given us. She repeated that verse, “A day's march nearer home." On my entering the room she said, “I have such a pleasant feeling, dear, that I am one day nearer home than I have ever been before. Will you spend a few minutes in
On rising from my knees she said, “Every word of your prayer expresses the desires of my soul-every word.” I entered her room a little before she departed, and she held out her hand, and said, “Goodbye, darling.” I sat by her side, and she said, “How sleepy I am. I