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buffetted, and you may be buffetted again. Weary
you may be of worldly toil and trouble, and weary you will be, but what of that? The hand of the Eternal has graven
the sentence, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God, and that rest shall assuredly be yours.
This is a precious portion and promise for the beginning or the latter end of the year. It will do for the spring, the summer, the autumn, and the winter. It will keep without injury in all climates, and may be taken at night or morning with equal advantage. Nay, it may be a comforting cordial to you every hour of the day, and every minute of the hour. Let come what will, riches or poverty, health or sickness, joy or sorrow, life or death, the promise still holds good, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God."
MARY WILLIAMS. “ There is but a step between me and death,” 1 Sam. xx. 3. WHAT is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away. So saith an inspired apostle, James iv. 14; and never was this part of the word of God more truly verified than in the case of Mary Williams. On the morning of Saturday the 11th of November, 18—, she rose about her usual hour, and pursued her occupations, but in the course of the day, while working at her mangle, she suddenly dropped on the floor, and in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the immortal spirit fled from its frail tabernacle, the body, and quickly passed away into the presence of its Creator and its Judge, to receive from him its final doom, and take its irrevocable station for the ages of eternity! Vast change indeed! How awful to pass so quickly from the pursuits of time to the widely different pursuits of a world of spirits ! A change so sudden, who would desire ? Yet from the possibility of such a rapid iransition who is secure? Happy and only happy are those who have their “ loins girded about,” and their “ lights burning,” like those who “ wait for their Lord, that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately,” Luke xii. 35, 36. That such was Mary's case there seems to be no reason to doubt, from the general testimony borne to her Christian character.
Mary was about fifty-five or fifty-six years of age, and though not enjoying a very good state of health, yet it was not such as to give any reason to apprehend the near approach of death. The day preceding that of her death, ske
had spent under the roof, where once she served, in the family of a faithful labourer in the Lord's vineyard, who has since gone to the enjoyment of his Saviour's glory, in company with several of the pious poor, who were accustomed occasionally to assemble there, and had united with them in their social worship. Probably she then little thought what should be to her on the morrow, Prov. xxvii. 1, or that it would be the last time that she should be allowed to enjoy the privilege of Christian worship on the earth; yet solemn as was the dispensation of Divine providence, by which she was so very suddenly removed from this world of sin and sorrow, there was ample reason to regard it as a mercy.
In a very early period of her life, Mary, like too many other young females, unwary and unwatchful in their conduct, at a season of temptation, when the natural gaiety and thoughtlessness of unheeding youth is too often disposed to throw off salutary restraints and sober counsels of parental solicitude, had fallen a victim to one of those artful and designing characters who, after the example of the evil one, whose they are, and whom they serve, go about "seeking whom they may devour,” 1 Pet. v. 8, and watch their opportunity to entrap and seduce the young and thoughtless into the paths of unrighteousness, fearless of all consequences. But through the tender mercy of Him who watches over his wandering sheep when it has gone astray from the right way, to bring it back again to the fold of righteousness, Ps. xxiii. 3, Luke xv. 4, Mary was not left to perish as a prey in the hand of the enemy, nor does it appear that her own mind was at all disposed to continue to pursue the crooked path into which she had been betrayed. How often is such a character lost to society, and driven into the abodes of iniquity, unto total ruin, for want of some one to put forth a friendly hand when the first awakenings of conscience bring into review the sad and awful consequences of the first act of guilt. If, without in the least degree countenancing sin, nay, even placing before the awakened conscience all the depths of its sad malignity and fearful consequences in the sight of God, such a friend was near to direct other unhappy wanderers into the path of true repentance, and to guide them in the way of righteousness, it might not only preserve them from further transgression, and keep them back from misery and wretchedness, but probably, under the Divine blessing, lead them to go softly all their days in meekness and true holiness, and secure their immortal souls from utter destruction.
Not very long after her fall, Mary was received as a servant into the family of the late Rev. R-S-, of C—, who, with
that close discernment of character for which he was so remarkably eminent, ventured to receive her. There she had that kind treatment which will ever be found in a Christian minister's family, and her desire to establish her lost character, met with encouragement; and the feelings of a mind alive to the evil of its departure from the right way, received proper direction. The kindness of her benefactor received a full reward in her long and faithful services ; for twenty years she satisfactorily fulfilled the duties. of her humble station; but a more valuable reward awaited their kind and Christian attention in her reception of the truth as it is in Jesus, under the ministry of her revered master, and in her after conduct as a consistent Christian believer. Not long after the death of her master, and consequent removal of his family, and after one or two temporary changes of situation, one of which she left in consequence of her being unfavourably placed for attending on the ministry of the gospel, Mary left service, and with her little savings purchased a mangle, with which she chiefly supported herself, aided by a small pension from the family in whose esteem she had so long lived, in testimony of their regard for her former services, and by the occasional kindness of other Christian friends. Thus Mary realized the fulfilment of the Lord's promise to his people, “ Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure,” Isa. xxxiii. 16, until the messenger arrived to call her to drink of the “river of water of life," Rev. xxii. 1.
In viewing the character of Mary, we see there were points worthy of imitation.
As a servant, Mary was faithful. It was her constant desire to consider herself bound to act towards her employers, not only with that kind of honesty which passes current in the world, but which often falls very far short of the scriptural standard, and frequently goes no further than the avoidance of those acts which would subject the party to punishment, but Mary sought to act with that habitual integrity which has regard to the interests of the heads of the family; “not with eye service,” Col. iii. 22, as those who, when under the immediate observation of their superiors, can seem to do well, but who act differently when they are absent, forgetting that the eye of Him who never slumbers or sleeps is constantly upon them, and that he will “ bring. every work into judgment,” Eccles. xii. 14.
Mary was affectionate. Her attachment to the family in which she resided, and especially to him under whose ministry she had profited, was very strong, “My honoured master, was her usual expression, and during the long
affliction which terminated his valuable life, in her attendance upon him, this attachment was conspicuous. The affection of Mary was sincere; she was not accustomed, as is too often the case with servants, to search out and expose the errors and failings of those with whom they dwell, and which, in the present state of human nature, it is not to be expected they can be free from; over these she cast the mantle of charity, 1 Cor. xiii. 4—7, and kept within her own bosom whatever did not concern her, never making it the subject of conversation.
Kindness to the poor was another feature in Mary's charaeter. Under the sanction of her master and mistress she was accustomed, not only to provide from their sources of benevolence many comforts for the poor and afflicted, but she took care to gather up those little fragments which arise in most families, and which, though often wasted, may, when prudently managed by a careful servant, afford great relief to many a needy object. In this way the cravings of hunger were often alleviated, and many in the hour of sickness had reason to be thankful for the tender feeling of a domestic, anxious to carry into effect the benevolent wishes of her superiors.
It is not then surprising that Mary should have gained the esteem of those in whose service she so conducted herself; such was the case. Respected by them in her life, those who remained bore their willing testimony of regard. One said,
Accept our best thanks for your kind attention in communicating to us the death of our worthy old servant. We agree with you that, considering her many infirmities, and the good ground we have for believing that she was one of those who watch for their Lord, her removal ought not to be lamented; yet, for my own part, I can truly say, that I feel myself to have lost a very affectionate friend, though in humble life, and her memory will long live in some of my kindest recollections."
Mary's general conduct was an evidence of the principles she professed. Forbeårance, kindness, and Christian charity were displayed in her behaviour towards her relatives, who were not acquainted with those saving truths from which she derived all her comfort. She apprenticed a nephew from her little savings, and supplied his wants during the term; and though her kindness did not meet the grateful return which it deserved, Mary never complained. And when she had retired from her service, and had to dwell among those not like-minded with herself, she maintained. the same spirit, often under very trying circumstances. I she could not profit them by direct admonition or advice,
she desired to exhibit the temper and spirit of real Christianity, and that without complaining of any contrary spirit in them.
Of her character as a Christian, it may be truly said, that Mary's religion was of a solid cast, it was not that of the mere professor, who is careful only to hide his sin from man under the garb of feigned humility, or the vain boasting of pretended knowledge. For above twenty years she manifested her hatred of all iniquity, and her love of holiness, often under circumstances of much difficulty. Her hope was a good hope through grace," 2 Thess. ii. 16, fixed on Christ Jesus, the Rock of Ages, sure and steadfast; but it never led her to think highly of herself, or of her attainments, but rather caused her to bless, with adoring thankfulness, the God of mercy and love, who had made her a monument of his sovereign grace.
The word of God, the means of grace, and the society of Christian friends, afforded her consolation here, but she looked to the rest which remaineth to the people of God as her home. When one of those with whom she spent the evening previous to her death observed, in allusion to the house in which she then was, “Well, Mary, you feel quite at home here,” she replied, “No, not quite at home yet, but I soon shall be,” though it is probable she little thought then how soon.
Mary is not exhibited, however, as a perfect character, such is not to be found on this earth, but to exhibit her faults and her failings, of which she was herself fully aware, is not our business, over these the veil of charity may well be cast by erring man ; in the fountain of a Redeemer's blood they are all cleansed away. To excite others to follow her, only as she followed Christ, is our object; and if the example of a faithful servant, and of a humble believer in the Lord Jesus, thus exhibited, should produce but one other such character, the end will be answered.
But while we offer the example, we must not omit to offer the warning which the case conveys. Reader, Mary was called away in a moment! Time closed upon her, and eternity instantly opened upon her view; and when she was about her ordinary work, we trust she was waiting for the coming of her Lord. Are you doing this? If you are, sudden death, if it comes, will be to you sudden glory; but if you are not, it will be to you swift destruction. Look into your own heart. Do you know yourself to be a sinner, and do you know Christ Jesus to be your Saviour, to atone for your sin, and cleanse you from its pollution ? Can you say that He of God is made unto you wisdom, righteousness,