Gathered Flowers From a
Being a Brief Memoir of Two Young Believers
Octavius Winslow, April 1849
"My Beloved has gone down to His garden, to the beds of spices, to browse in the gardens and to gather lilies." Song of Songs 6:2
Preface to the Fourth Edition
The author is thankful to God for any measure of acceptance and blessing with which He has favored the work; and now in prayer and humility of mind, he commends this new and improved edition to the blessing of the Holy Spirit, and to the devout perusal of the young. May it prove instrumental of leading many precious souls to Jesus and to Jesus shall be the glory!
Memoir of ELIZABETH LINN(who died at the age of 21)
"Her sun has gone down while it was yet day." Jeremiah 15:9
How inexpressibly lovely and engaging is youthful piety! The grace of God in every period of life and form of development, invests its possessor with a moral dignity and beauty, infinitely transcending the loveliest exhibitions of nature that ever elevated and adorned the human mind and character. But if to a young man, who has "overcome the wicked one" it is strength; and if to the aged man, walking in the "way of righteousness" it is a crown of glory encircling his hoary locks then in those of more tender years just budding into life it possesses a beauty and a charm peculiarly and touchingly its own.
To see the first streaks of life's morn merging into the more glorious light of eternal day; to behold the first development of intellect, the first pulsation of feeling, the first awakening of human energy, enterprise, and thought laid upon the altar of God, consecrated in the "dew of youth" and in the "beauty of holiness" to Him who consecrated His infancy, His earlier and His maturer years, yes, His entire self, to the working out of our salvation Oh, it is a lovely spectacle, on which angels' eyes may feast; and as they look down upon each fresh conscript to the ranks of their King, they feel a new-born emotion of rapture thrilling their pure and benevolent hearts, such as no object even in glory could inspire.
But if the period of youth is the most interesting let us not forget that it is also the most momentous and important period of life. It comes but once. Gone, it returns not again. With it flits away the period of human existence, most favorable to the consideration of the soul's preparation for eternity. Never again will the individual stand in a position so advantageous for the accomplishment of a work so great. The soil seems prepared for the seed. The world has not yet obtained the mastery over the heart. Sinful habit has not yet seized upon the passions. Different forms of religious belief have not yet taken captive the mind. The love of wealth, of distinction, and of pleasure has not yet thrown its fascinations around the soul. Long-existing impenitence has not yet seared the conscience and guilt has not yet covered the conscience with its pall of dark presumption and despair.
It would seem as if the temple of the soul were all "swept and garnished," ready for the entrance of the Lord. Of what priceless value, then, is the season of youth!
Is life a DAY? Then youth is its bright morning. It is then that the soil, mellowed with the early dew, is to be broken up and prepared for the in-casting of the precious seed of the Word.
Is life a YEAR? Then youth is its springtime, upon which the happiness of all other seasons depends. It is then that the seed is to be sown, whose fruits will refresh us in summer, enrich us in autumn, and sustain and cheer us in the winter of old age.
Is life a VOYAGE? Then youth is the time when the destination is to be selected, the chart examined, the course marked out, and the supplies, which are to meet the necessities of the voyage, laid up.
The precious season of youth, if thus allowed to go by unimproved in years to come, we will bewail our folly but find it impossible to retrieve our loss. Oceans may be traversed, distant points reached, and the voyager may set out again; but to human life there is but one morning, but one spring, and but one voyage.
God, who calls His people by His sovereign grace, calls the greater part of them in early life. Beyond the age of thirty years how few conversions transpire, compared with the number who press into the kingdom long before that period! As in the case of Samuel the Spirit has begun to move early, gently, and almost imperceptibly upon their heart. They have heard the voice of the Lord calling them to His work at early dawn of day while yet the more advanced in life were deeply immersed in worldly care, and the aged still remained wrapped in the profound unconsciousness of spiritual sleep all living as if there were no eternity!
And how completely are young believers placed in the ascendant of all others, in the career of an honorable, useful, and happy life! They ascend an eminence of distinction and privilege which leaves groveling at its base, the countless numbers of the unregenerate, who, like the poor miner trapped in the earth are delving amidst impurity and darkness, strangers to the air and the light that are above them. A holy atmosphere they never breathe; the warm beams of the Sun of righteousness they never feel; "they are of the earth earthy."
But the advantages accruing to the young believer
are as numerous as they are precious. These are a few of the immense and
wonderful privileges of early piety: To have God become in early life my
God, my Father, the "Guide of my youth!" To have surrendered the heart as
His temple His dwelling-place, renewed, sanctified, made holy and happy by
His Spirit's grace! To know and to feel that God has now become mine; and
that from the blissful moment that the mutual covenant was made and sealed
and ratified my person and my interests were placed in His hands, and
transferred to His keeping for time and for eternity! That no longer am I my
own but His; and that in all future times I am to cast all my care upon
Him, knowing that He cares for me! That Jesus, having become my Redeemer,
has become my brother and my friend, pledging . . .
His wisdom to counsel me,
His power to protect me,
His hand to supply me,
His eye to guide me,
His love to soothe me,
His grace to uphold me
all my journey through!
That the Holy Spirit, having taken up His abode in my heart, will dwell there permanently and forever, subduing all sin, checking all evil, purifying the fountain of thought and of feeling, and prompting to holy desire and useful exertion!
Yet there are more advantages of youthful piety! The early blighting of sin's bud the early check given to unholy propensities the knowledge and experience acquired, before the bark has been fully launched upon its sea the temptations, the sins, the sorrows, the mistakes, which are thus avoided, are among the blessings of a youthful consecration of the heart to the Lord, ranging beyond all human calculation.
Add to this, the sweetest and highest of all blessing here in this life the enjoyment of communion with God, of the love of Christ, of the foretaste of glory, the cup so early filled, and often running over.
And last, and best of all a speedy passage to eternal glory, with which God often favors the youthful Christian his grace so soon matured, his work so soon complete, the spiritual house, whose foundation has been laid, and whose walls have been raised in a life of early godliness here below, receives the top-stone in glory Glory everlasting.
These are among the innumerable and inestimable blessings and advantages accruing from a life dedicated in the spring-time of youth to Jesus, which no tongue nor pen of man can adequately describe!
But I will no longer detain my young reader from the interesting subject of our narrative. Permit me to request, however, that before you proceed a step further, you will lay down this little volume, and breathe an earnest prayer to the Holy Spirit that He may bless to your soul, the perusal of her brief but bright and instructive history; and that by His converting and sanctifying influence, He may make you all that she was as a lovely and fragrant flower of grace in the Lord's garden on earth; and all that we believe she now is, a happy, glorified spirit before the throne of God in heaven. Have you prayed? May the Holy Spirit answer for Christ's sake!
Elizabeth Linn was a member of a Bible Class, belonging to a Sunday School in Edinburgh, for nearly five years. She was an attentive student, but although much attached to the class, and regular in her attendance, for two years she gave no clear evidence that her mind was truly affected by the blessed truths of the gospel. In the winter of 1838, it pleased God to afflict her with a severe attack of inflammation of the lungs. On being visited by her respected and beloved teacher, her mind was found to be powerfully awakened to a sense of her lost state, and the necessity of having a portion beyond this poor dying world. She wept when she referred to the many times she had heard of the willingness of Jesus to receive all who came in humble penitence to Him; and although she had often purposed in her heart, when returning from the Sunday evening class, to delay coming to Him no longer, still she had put it off, and now she found that a sick-bed, amidst pain, fever, and lassitude was not the best time or place to seek Jesus, the sinner's Friend.
It pleased God to lift her disease, and to raise her up again, evidently with a mind open to a full reception of the truth. On rejoining her much-loved class, she listened to the instructions given, as one who had eternity full in view, and so vividly contemplating it, as to awaken, not only deep anxiety for her own personal salvation but also intense solicitude for the salvation of her dear companions.
Although brought to see there was no way of acceptance with God but in the finished work of Jesus at times her mind was much beclouded and depressed, arising evidently from a lack of that simple exercise of faith which credits the great matter-of-fact truth of the Bible that Jesus Christ came into the world to save SINNERS. She was looking more at her sins than at the Lamb of God, who came to take those sins away; more at her truly fearful disease than at God's infinitely great and all-merciful remedy! As clearly, then, as she saw the only way of acceptance, and glorious as it appeared to her yet imperfect vision it is no marvel that she could not say with Paul, "He has loved me, and has given himself for me." She lacked but the simple touch of faith.
The truth had reached her heart that Jesus died for sinners. The yet more cheering tidings had saluted her ear that He was alive again, and that even He could save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. Yet, lacking the hand of faith, feeble and tremulous though its touch might be she could not exclaim in the transporting assurance and joy of Thomas, "My Lord and my God!" One faith's touch of Jesus, were it but the border of His garment will bring forth perfect healing for the deepest wound of sin! O blessed, soul-cheering truth! May that touch, dear reader, be yours!
Her teacher, on hearing an address founded on Isaiah 45:1, "Ho! every one who thirsts, come to the waters," etc, in which the minister remarked how many anxious inquirers he had found, who from mistaking the meaning of the passage, felt discouraged, supposing that the invitation was to those who were thirsting for righteousness, not after happiness, as was clearly the mind of the Spirit was directed to think of Elizabeth, who was at that time confined by her sickness, to the house. On the interpretation of the text being repeated to her, with tears in her eyes she said, "The feelings described are my own. I often think I am not thirsting enough for righteousness. Now I see the meaning of that passage, which is fitted to cheer and comfort every poor sinner."
About this time the school was privileged with several visits from the Rev. William Burns. On one occasion his address was founded on Philippians 2:5-12. This was an evening much blessed to Elizabeth and several of her companions. She often referred to it as a time when the Spirit applied the word spoken to her heart, and gave her clear saving views of Christ His person, and work, and love. From this period may be dated her sealing unto the day of Jesus Christ. It was the birthday of her soul. From this time, her mind was never beclouded but was enabled unceasingly to rejoice in God her Savior.
The reality of this perfected work of grace in her soul, was soon manifested by its strongest evidence communion with God. The life of God in the soul of man will draw that soul out in prayer to God. The stream will flow back to the fountain from whence it rose. Descending from heaven it returns back to heaven. Elizabeth became a child of prayer. Prayer was her element.
An interesting proof of this was seen in her uniting with two of her companions in requesting the use of a small room connected with the school, in which they might meet together for prayer on Sundays, especially to supplicate a blessing on the instructions about to be given to them and their associates, and upon the devotional services which always followed the dismissal of the general school.
At home too, in a little room consecrated to this holy purpose, Elizabeth was accustomed to hold meetings for prayer, on which occasions, much spiritual fellowship was held between her and those of her dear companions, who were united with sweet and tender cords of Christian love.
But the Lord was about to try this young and much-loved child. The silver and the gold of His work in her soul the Refiner was about to place in the furnace! Oh, how soon Jesus may call the young Christian to pass through tribulation, that the "trial of her faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire," might be found to the praise, and honor, and glory of His grace!
In December of 1840, Elizabeth was deprived of her kind and affectionate mother. This was a severe affliction to her. The loss of a mother, and a Christian mother but for Jesus, who can supply every loss would be overwhelming and irreparable. From being by natural constitution delicate, and constantly subject to illness, her mother had watched over her with a tenderness and solicitude, such as a mother only could feel. That stream of comfort was now dried; that cistern of happiness was now broken and Elizabeth was left with a feeble constitution, in charge of her father and a brother about eight years of age.
Deeply and suitably did she feel the responsibility which God had now placed upon her, and earnestly did she pray for aid from above to direct and guide her aright. God heard and answered her prayers. To her aged parent she was enabled to discharge the obligations of a most affectionate and faithful daughter; and to her little brother she blended the high and sweet duties of a watchful mother and a tender sister. Thus is the grace of Jesus, all-sufficient for all the responsibilities, duties, and trials of life. That grace, earnestly and sincerely sought will be promptly and fully given. God never calls His people to any post of labor, responsibility, or trial but for its right discharge or improvement, He has provided in Jesus all fullness of strength; and to the simple prayer of faith He will mete out that strength according to the day of its need. So Elizabeth found it.
Christian reader, are you situated as she was perhaps without a mother, or a father in circumstances of responsibility and of trial? Flee, as she did into the very bosom of Jesus! That bosom, once stricken for you, and once the abode of sorrow infinitely great is the precious refuge of all the sons and daughters of need who flee to it for shelter. Though millions have gone to it, and are now enclosed within it there yet is room for you. All the fondness of the most affectionate father all the tenderness of the most tender mother all the gentleness of the most gentle sister all the faithfulness of the most faithful brother all the love of the most loving friend center in Jesus. In His person He blends the father, the mother, the brother, the sister, the friend. All this He will be to you!
Elizabeth's religion was not of a selfish nor reclusive character. It sought communion with the good and the spiritual of her own gender and age. During the summer, she enjoyed much happiness from fellowship with a dear friend, formerly a member of the class but now removed to Glasgow. To the correspondence and the personal interviews which she was privileged to hold with her young companion, she often referred as seasons of peculiar spiritual refreshing to her soul. Thus can the Lord convey great blessing through the channel of Christian fellowship with others.
It is of the highest importance to the advancement of a young Christian in the divine life, that his or her companions be selected from among the saints of God the most eminent for spirituality of mind, and consistency of Christian walk. These, with God's blessing, will become great helpers to us in our way to heaven. But mere professors cold, formal, trifling, worldly, inconsistent professors will, if we are much in their company, or under their influence and example retard our advance, rob us of our sweetest blessings, and bring leanness into our souls!
You may, my reader, safely decide the tone and temper of your Christianity, by the level of spirituality observable in those whom you have selected as your companions. Oh, aim to be a young Christian, in every respect, of a high order; and do not forget that the influence and example of those with whom you are accustomed to associate, will either elevate or lower the standard of your own personal holiness.
Elizabeth was enabled to attend her Sunday evening Bible class with great regularity, until the middle of January 1842. Some time previous to this, her health began visibly to decline; her cough increased, and her strength perceptibly gave way. Her teacher advised her to relinquish her attendance, in consequence of her exposure to the harsh night air. This she was most unwilling for a time to do, so deeply had increased her interest in the Bible instructions of the class, and in the hallowed exercises of the prayer-meeting. On the last day of January, her teacher received a message from her announcing her sudden illness, and expressing great anxiety for an interview.
On hastening to her bedside, her teacher found her body in a state of great exhaustion but her mind filled with the peace of God. She expressed the delight which she had experienced from meditating on the finished work of Jesus. That for some time finding her bodily strength failing, she felt she was not long to be a sojourner in this world and her thoughts had been much in contemplation of heaven, of being with Jesus, and free from sin. Her eyes brightened when she spoke of being present with her God.
But when she alluded to the dear Bible class, of which she had so long been a member, and into whose spiritual instruction she had so deeply drunk, she wept, and said, "That is now the only tie which binds me to earth." She spoke of the many sweet seasons she had enjoyed there, and especially of the communion with God which she had often felt in the little praying circle of young believers, bowed together around the mercy-seat. She particularly mentioned an address given in the school on a recent occasion, the precious truths of which had much cheered and comforted her since she had been confined to her bed, and then added, "Oh, how precious is it to be enabled to say: My Lord and my God!" Her further and closing history will best be given in the words of her faithful and much-loved teacher, taken from a journal of her visits, made from time to time, with which I have been kindly favored:
"Thursday. I found dear Elizabeth very weak. She told me she had felt a degree of dullness and disappointment the day before as if her joy was gone. She believed she had been looking too much within herself, and not solely to Jesus and His finished work; but that this morning she had anew come with her sins to the foot of the cross, and there had obtained fresh peace. 'Oh,' she said, 'to be enabled to keep the eye of faith continually fixed upon our dear Redeemer!'
We spoke of the sympathy of Jesus. This subject
cheered her much, and she drew sweet comfort from the words, 'He knows our
frame; he remembers we are dust.' She referred to a previous conversation
upon the 55th chapter of Isaiah, 1st verse, and to the instruction it had
afforded her, and added that she had been enabled to come without anything
of her own to Jesus and since that time she had found peace. She spoke
much of Mr Burns' visits to the school, and especially of an address which
he made on one occasion from Phil, 2:5-12, which she called the happy
night when she and some of her dear companions were brought to feel the
love of Jesus in a way they had never known before. She alluded to the
'Behold a stranger at the door
He gently knocks has knocked before;'
and of the comfort which she had derived from the verse,
'Are you a mourner? grief shall fly,
For who can weep with Jesus nigh?'
and of a hymn read one Sunday evening in the school,
'Oh, tell me not of the lonesome grave.'
"Friday. Found dear Elizabeth a little revived, and in a very happy state of mind. She said that her meditations upon the sympathy of Jesus had afforded her much consolation, and quoted the last verses of Hebrews 4, 'For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet was without sin.' She remarked that it was her earnest desire to be of use to her companions of the class who visited her, and trusted that, as she was now laid upon a sick-bed, the Lord might give her a message which He would bless to their souls.
"Saturday. Found Elizabeth weaker but, in her own words, 'happy, enjoying peace, the gift of Jesus.' She had found much sweetness in thinking upon the words, 'The peace of God, which passes all understanding.' 'Oh,' she exclaimed, 'the Lord Jesus gives His children even here, to enter into rest!' She spoke of the many mercies she enjoyed, having had more quiet sleep than usual; then of the kindness of God's people to her, particularizing that of Miss M. D., whom she prayed that God would bless and reward. When she spoke of the class she so dearly loved, tears ran down her cheeks. I said, 'Elizabeth, would you wish to recover?' She replied, 'If it is the will of the Lord I would rather die. To depart, and be with Christ, is far better; then I shall serve Him without sin!'
"Tuesday. Found her very weak and low but very happy. She told me of the happiness she enjoyed the previous day, from thinking of our need to come to Jesus as empty vessels to be filled out of His fullness. She sincerely felt that she was nothing but that Christ was all. She referred to Peter as an example, of how we needed to be upheld every moment by Jesus. She believed he had so much love to Jesus, that he forgot his own weakness when he said, 'Though all men forsake You yet will I not.' Then she contrasted with this the tender love of Jesus, after His resurrection, towards His fallen apostle, when He said, 'Tell my disciples, and Peter.'
She expressed the enjoyment she had derived from the visits of her companions, H. P. and E. M., and of her concern about another young friend, who she feared had grown cold in spiritual things. She said how much she felt the necessity of being watchful, of seeking to be upheld continually by Jesus, and of the encouragement she had experienced from a conversation we had had upon the words, 'I will hold you by my right hand.'
"Wednesday. Found her very feeble. She told me she had thought a good deal about death, and a shrinking came over her, from the dread of suffering before she entered the heavenly Canaan; but she added, 'I should seek dying strength, and trust alone to Jesus.' She was comforted by some passages of Scripture which I read to her, particularly Psalms 23 and 48, and by a remark of Toplady's, that 'he had seen many a believer go weeping to the edge of the river but had never seen one go weeping all the way through.' She found much enjoyment in God's words to Jacob, 'Fear not to go down into Egypt; I will go with you, and will surely bring you up again;' and then she repeated the lines of the beautiful hymn of Watts'
"There is a land of pure delight,
Where saints immortal reign!'
"Friday. She was rather revived today, freer from cough and pain, and more able to speak. She said she had felt as if she had been on the Mount but that, like Peter, she must come down again; remarking how kind it was of the Lord to give her such a foretaste of happiness to cheer her; but added, 'I do not wish to be looking too much to my frames and feelings but only to Jesus.'
"Monday. Continuing better. She told me of the much sweet communion she had had with Jesus during her present illness but that in getting better, she felt a dread of returning to the world; but added, 'Jesus can keep me steadfast; and if He restores me for a little (I know I cannot live long) oh, may I glorify Him by a humble and consistent walk!' She spoke with longing desires about her father, earnestly desiring that his heart might now be given to God.
"Wednesday. Elizabeth has passed a sleepless night, owing to the excitement of the evening before. Her dear friend H. G. unexpectedly arrived from Glasgow to see her. This was a great pleasure and comfort, as she had longed to meet once more in the body with one with whom she had enjoyed so much sweet spiritual fellowship. This day she looked much exhausted. On repeating some cheering passages of God's Word, she made no reply but manifested deep inward emotion. She burst into tears, and said, 'Oh, I feel that my heart is so hard! I seemed to have no feeling when you were speaking of Jesus. Pray for me; I have been wishing I was in the dear class, hearing you invite sinners to come to Jesus. Oh, I feel as if I had lost Him, my beloved, and knew not where to find Him!'
After speaking to her of the way she at first found peace, by coming to the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, she became more composed. She continued in much distress all that evening; but the next day I found her composed and happy. When I asked her how she was, she answered, 'Jesus is with me! Oh that He may never again see it needful to send me such a chastisement as I had yesterday. All was dark. I could see no light. I must have been thinking too much of the comforts He has been so kindly giving me, and not feeling enough my continual dependence upon Himself. Oh, pray that I may be kept very humble.' I read to her the closing verses of Isaiah 50 and Psalm 77, which afforded her much comfort; and left her giving thanks to God for His great loving-kindness in removing the cloud, and revealing Himself to her as the portion of her soul.
"Saturday, 19th. Elizabeth is very happy. She told me she had great enjoyment from a visit from Mr Burns, and Mr Wingate, who was going as a missionary to the Jews. 'Oh,' she added 'I felt how unworthy I was of the Lord's mercies, when His two dear servants were speaking to me.' She said Mr Burns' visit recalled to her mind the delight she had in his first letter to the school, and repeated a sentence from it. His remarks, during this visit, on the happiness of heaven of 'seeing the King in his beauty,' Were cheering to her soul.
"Monday, 21st Found her, from increased weakness, unable to sit up but the happy and sweet expression of her countenance was very cheering to witness. She told me she enjoyed much peace; and that the words of our Lord to His disciples in John 14, had given her great enjoyment. I read to her a part of 1 Peter 1, and on leaving, she remarked how much strength of body and mind she had experienced, by our conversing together upon the things of God.
"28th. Dear Elizabeth had derived much enjoyment in a visit from Mr Johnston, a valued friend, whose remarks on 2 Peter 1:5 had afforded her a subject of sweet meditation.
"20th. On calling today, she said, in much weakness, 'Oh, speak to me of Jesus of His love! My mind has been much filled with this subject. Oh, think of Gethsemane, of Calvary!' And then her tears flowed as she spoke of His sufferings, and longed to enjoy more of His love. She dwelt upon the text, 'We know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is!' She then spoke of being with Jesus; what it must be to be free from sin. She remarked, that she thought she might be enabled in heaven to take an interest in her dear companions; and the joy she would feel on seeing them give their hearts to God. I then read to her portions of Lamentations 3."
Elizabeth took a deep interest in others who, like herself, were laid upon a bed of suffering; and anxiously desired that they might largely partake of the consolations which faith in Christ alone can give. She particularly inquired about a young lady, who, like herself, was dying of consumption, and said, "Oh, I would like to hear if she is now enjoying that peace, which resting upon Jesus alone can give." And she delighted in the assurance, that to His children, God would cause light to arise, though for a time, from bodily weakness, they might seem to walk in darkness.
She often expressed much interest in the subjects of Mr Drummond's addresses at his prayer-meetings. Some of her young friends had told her much of Mr Drummond's kindness, when he examined the day-school. On hearing of her illness, he attempted visiting her but from her house being difficult to find, both were disappointed of the interview. On hearing that he had spent some time in a fruitless search for her dwelling, Elizabeth expressed deep sorrow at the trouble he had taken to search her out, and sweetly added, "I dare say he will pray for me; I am happy we know of each other, and it is a pleasant thought that we shall meet in heaven."
"April 5. Elizabeth, though her weakness and pain have at times been severe, has continued in a composed and happy state of mind. The all-sufficiency of Jesus as a Savior His willingness to save the chief of sinners, even the thief on the cross at the last moment are thoughts that have afforded her much consolation. She has much regretted that she was now obliged to give up seeing her dear companions; but added, she still could and did pray for them. A prayer-meeting, held in her room by some of her young friends, had been a season of much refreshing to her spirits, though she had been unable to speak. She enjoyed much comfort from knowing the Lord was her righteousness, A visit from Miss H., the teacher of the day-school, had afforded her much delight.
"Monday.In accompanying Mrs B.* we found Elizabeth in much agony of body; still, amidst her acute pain, her mind was in perfect peace. She said God was very good; that, in the prospect of immediate death in the morning, she had been enabled to commit all the dear companions of the Bible class to the Lord. 'I have made,' she remarked, 'a large request but not too hard for Him to grant that not one may be lacking at the day of our Lord's appearing.' She then referred again to the sweet seasons she had enjoyed with them thanked me for the instructions the Lord had enabled me to give to her, and added, she believed the happy Sunday evenings she had then enjoyed were foretastes of the Sabbath which would never end, when we should meet with the innumerable multitude of the glorified saints in the presence of Jesus completely like Him, free from sin.
*In revising this little volume for a fourth edition, the author cannot pass over this endeared initial (Mrs B.) without breaking the impressive stillness in which it stands solitary and solemn. "The memory of the just is blessed." It is fragrant and sanctifying. We love to think of them as they once were the holy and the lovely of earth; we delight to imagine what they now are the bright and the blissful of heaven. Since the paragraph was penned which thus records the interviews with Elizabeth Linn, the veil of eternity has opened and received within its glories the beloved one, whose kind and affectionate visits to the couch of the young believer were by her so gratefully remembered. She has passed away from earth like a bright, celestial visitant; and to some who knew and loved her well, now that she is gone life is less sunny, and death's valley has less gloom. She lived for God. She labored and witnessed for Christ. And lovely as she appeared the ornament and the charm of cultivated society, maintaining amidst the highest circles, the "simplicity of Christ" and her Christianity and her natural loveliness never shone forth with such blended resplendent beauty as when visiting the lowly cottages of the poor and the ignorant, or when administering to the spiritual and temporal necessities of the sick and the dying. Oh that the grace of Jesus may make all who sustain the responsibility of having shared in her acquaintance and her friendship, like her, as she resembled the meek and lowly Savior, "whose food and drink were to do the will of His Father." Let us not stop at admiration but let us imitate her as she imitated Christ. The young believer and the kind lady who sat by her bedside repeating appropriate and precious portions of God's Word, have met, and met in glory! Together, and "without fault," they are "before the throne of God," each with a harp tuned in unison to the one anthem of heaven "Worthy Is The Lamb!" Embalmed in our grateful hearts, be the memory of Mrs Bruce!
"8th. Free from pain but very weak. She referred to her sufferings on the previous day said she was refreshed by Mrs B.'s visit but, from excessive pain, she was unable to enjoy it to the extent she desired, adding, 'This is to teach how dependent we are upon the Lord for every blessing, trusting alone for our comforts to God.'
"Again accompanied Mrs B. Found Elizabeth better, and able to converse a little. She spoke of the Lord's goodness in giving her ease. The day before, when suffering so much, she had been cheered by a verse which had been repeated to her: 'The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion, with everlasting songs upon their head; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away!' She had great joy the past evening by a visit from two of the Sunday evening students, one of whom with tears told her Jesus was now precious to her soul. The other was deeply affected, and expressed great anxiety about her salvation. Elizabeth said, 'Oh, how the Lord encourages us to continue in prayer!' She then alluded to the joy of meeting some belonging to the class whom we now believed to be among the glorified in heaven, particularly her beloved friend, Elizabeth Aitchinson.
"Found Elizabeth very weak but quite happy. Mrs B. repeated some passages of Scripture to her, which she enjoyed. She asked me to thank Mrs B. for coming to see her so often when she was in town. She felt her memory failing, which grieved her much. On repeating to her that precious portion, 'The Lord will not forsake his people for his own name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you his people;' she smiled, and said, 'This is so sweet and precious, I shall delight to meditate upon it!'
"11th. After much suffering, Elizabeth revived a little. She said she had longed much for my coming; and she felt a new proof of the Lord's kindness to her in sending me at this time, for she had been wishing I might come when the pain was not so great, that she might more enjoy my visit. Her dear friend Helen was present, and we read and spoke of some passages of the Word of God. Elizabeth remarked that, since the pain had been so severe, the Lord had allowed her to experience what strong consolation He could bestow; and that in the night, when all was still, she was often extremely happy in the enjoyment of the presence of the Lord, and enabled to commit those near and dear to her heart, to His care and keeping. Thus did He, as she expressed it, 'give her songs in the night.' Her dear young friend was present with her for the last time, being obliged to return home the following day.
This was felt to be a great trial by Elizabeth but our spirits were cheered by speaking of the time,
'When death-divided friends, at last,
Shall meet to part no more.'
The interview today with Christian friends, she felt to be particularly cheering.
"16th. Found our beloved and suffering friend very weak but able to converse a little. She referred to the pain of parting from her affectionately attached young companion, who had that morning returned to Glasgow; but she added, 'the goodness of God has been great, in allowing us to be so long together, and in uniting us in bonds that can never be broken.' We spoke together of Psalm 73:24-26; and 2 Tim. 4:6-8. She said, 'In how many ways she saw how gently the Lord was leading her.' Truly was He, as the good Shepherd, carrying this tender and suffering lamb of His flock, on His arm and in His bosom.
Two Sundays ago she had a longing desire to live a little longer, for the sake of the dear class to which she felt so strongly attached. But since that time, the Lord had loosened the ties which bound her to earth, and now she could leave all who were dear to her below to go and be with her Beloved. She spoke with sweet composure of her fast approaching death, and of the cheering thought, that to God's children Death was but the shadow and not the substance but the shaft and not the sting; that which would have made him the king of terrors to the believer, being quite taken away by Christ, the Conqueror of death.
It was delightful to see the grateful sense she entertained of the kindness of Christian friends who visited her. Today, she particularly referred to the refreshing she had derived from the visit of Mr Burns, and of the gratitude she felt, when informed that he had earnestly and affectionately remembered her at the meeting for prayer on the Monday before. She also spoke with much feeling of Mr Wingate, and often remembered his request, that she would pray for a blessing to rest upon the means employed to advance the best interests of the students of the College. Who can tell eternity alone will disclose the blessings that may have descended on this object of prayer, through the holy and fervent wrestlings of this hidden vessel of mercy.
"Monday. Very exhausted, and suffering much from her breathing, yet happy in her soul. Although too weak to read, she said, 'she had been lifting up her heart in prayer for the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom; and had been seeking to remember all the faithful ministers of the gospel; her soul drawn out to pray that their labors might be much blessed by God, as the means of converting many sinners.' She stated the consolations she received on hearing from her friend Helen, that the Rev. Mr P. remembered her in prayer. She said she sometimes thought, that her being so enabled to bear severe pain, was in answer to the prayers of God's people.
"Tuesday, 21st. Has suffered much during the last two days but her heart was filled with holy love and gratitude to God for all His goodness to her. She told me, when she lay in comparative ease upon her bed, enjoying the society of Christian friends, she was in danger of taking up her rest here. She had felt some desire to live a little longer, might she but be useful to her aged father; but the Lord was gradually taking out the pins of the earthly tabernacle to wean her from creatures and things below. Her meditations had been very sweet on the wondrous love of Jesus. Her soul had been fed with the hidden manna; such portions as these had nourished and strengthened her: 'The sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us!' 'Rejoicing in hope of the glory of God.' Several of the Bible class had visited her, affording a season of much spiritual enjoyment.
"24th. Two little girls belonging to the day-school, calling upon her today, and having sung a few verses, she turned to them and said, 'Dears, I have enjoyed your singing much; would you not like to sing the new song in heaven?' They said, 'Yes.' She added, 'Well, dears, you must learn it here. Come to Jesus now, and He will be with you upon a death-bed.' She then took an affectionate leave of them. I was afraid of her exerting herself more but she exclaimed, 'Oh, speak to me of the love of Jesus that always revives me.' On expressing a fear that her sufferings were great, she said, 'Oh, don't be anxious about me; my mind is so happy. Jesus makes me to feel amidst the pain that He is with me, and will never, never forsake me.'
"Saturday, 26th. Our beloved sufferer has been very ill. She said she had to struggle with impatience so longing had she been, to depart and be with Christ. 'Oh,' she said, 'pray that I may be willing to wait the Lord's time.' She expressed the great enjoyment she had experienced, even in intense pain. She wept when she spoke of her father, and said, 'Oh that he knew the love of Jesus; he grieves much for me.' She had prayed to be enabled to speak a word which the Lord might bless to him. She called her little brother, to whom she has been as a mother, that I might speak to him about his soul.
"Monday. In much pain; but she said, when asked how she was, 'Happy! happy! I shall soon be with Jesus!' She had found much comfort in that striking passage, 'Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed, I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.' 'In heaven,' she remarked, 'I shall know more of this precious love the love of the Father, the love of the Son, and the love of the Spirit.' She referred to the comfort which she had derived from a passage which I had quoted to her some days previously 'I have loved you with an everlasting love.'
"Wednesday. She is scarcely able to speak. Has received a visit from her kind friend Mr C. but was unable to converse. She much enjoyed a hymn he repeated upon heaven, and the prayer which he offered up for her.
"Thursday. Is a little recovered but suffering much from exhaustion. Her heart is full of the love of Jesus, and the gentle way He is dealing with her, giving her in suffering to see so much of His own precious love. When about to leave her, she referred to the time the Lord first brought us together. She took my hand, and expressed her gratitude for all the instructions which the Lord had blessed to her soul. She said, in the watchful care of her Sunday-school teacher, she had never been permitted to miss her mother. She earnestly desired that each of her beloved associates in the class might be with her in heaven, to spend an eternal Sabbath in praising and serving God. She added, 'Oh, what a meeting it will be!'
And then referred to Miss Hutchinson, the much-loved teacher of the day-school, who had been suddenly removed by death; and also to some of the dear young members of the class, who had gone, she hoped, to glory. While speaking of her beholding the King in his beauty, her countenance grew quite animated. In parting, she seemed to fear that we might not meet again in this world, and seemed unwilling that I should go. She asked me to pray much that patience might be granted to her to wait the Lord's time.
"On Saturday, found her scarcely able to speak. She smiled when I came in; said she was happy to see me, that I might again speak to her of the love of Jesus. I read to her some passages of Scripture, pausing at the 4th verse of the 23rd Psalm. She grew quite animated while we spoke of the glories of heaven, dwelling particularly on those elements of its happiness freedom from sin, perfect transformation into the image of Jesus, and meeting the innumerable multitude around the throne. She spoke with much affection of her dear companions Mary W. and Isabella F. and others, whom in parting with, she exhorted to keep close to Jesus.
"On Sunday evening, I heard from the members of our class that dear Elizabeth had grown much worse, and now appeared to be very near heaven. They informed me that her mind was happy, and that during her great suffering she was heard to cry out, 'Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!'
"On Monday morning I went to her, found her a little recovered but scarcely able to speak. I read to her part of the 11th chapter of John, dwelling upon the 35th and 36th verses. When I read Christ's question to Martha, 'Do you believe this?' she opened her eyes, smiled, and answered, 'Oh, yes!'
Her minister, Mr M'Gilchrist, came in, of whose kindness and great attention to her she had often and gratefully spoken. When he rose to leave, she extended her emaciated hand and said, 'Farewell, until we meet in heaven.' On taking my leave of her, she spoke of our reunion in glory, and desired me to convey her dying love to her companions of the class, mentioning several by name.
We parted to meet no more on earth. And on the Tuesday morning at five o'clock, she fell asleep in Jesus. Her last words were, when asked by a Christian friend if she was happy, 'Peace, peace!' Her age was twenty-one. On the following Friday, her body was committed to the dust, followed to its final resting-place by many of her beloved associates in the study of the Bible which she loved. Many tears were shed; but we have the blessed assurance to comfort us in our sorrow, that 'those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.'
"Happy soul! your days are ended,
All your mourning hours below;
Go, by angel guards attended,
To the sight of Jesus go!
"Waiting to receive your spirit,
Lo, the Savior stands above!
Shows the purchase of His merit,
Reaches out the crown of love.
"Struggle through your latest passion
To your dear Redeemer's breast;
To His uttermost salvation,
To His everlasting rest.
"For the joy He sets before you,
Bear a momentary pain;
Die to live the life of glory;
Suffer, with your Lord to reign!"
In the following letters, the interesting subject of this brief memoir will be allowed to speak more fully for herself. The idea, of course, was never present to her mind, when she penned them, that they would ever meet the public eye. They are, therefore, the more valuable, as breathing out the sincere and unfettered sentiments and affections of her soul, into the bosom of those she so fondly loved. The first is a touching one. It was written to her aged father during her last illness, and was directed to be given to him after her decease.
My Very Dear Father,
When you read this, I shall be in heaven, singing that song that is ever new. Dear father, I cannot bear the thought that we should be forever separated. Shake off your robe of self-righteousness, and go as a lost sinner to the foot of the Cross; none can perish there. I die in the firm belief that the Lord Jesus made an infinite atonement for a ruined world; and that all who believe and rest in His finished work as the ground of their hope and acceptance with God shall be saved, and never can come into condemnation. Dear father, be kind to my little brother. Oh that he may be of the Savior's lambs, fed by Him with heavenly manna; a tree of righteousness to grow up into perfect holiness. Dear parent, I leave you in the hands of my Father in heaven, feeling assured He will answer prayer on your behalf for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. Him, the Father hears always. Dear father, ponder this advice of your child, who being dead, yet speaks.
Your affectionate daughter,
The tender regard which she bore to her much-loved teacher, and the high value which she placed upon her unwearied and self-denying instructions in the school and in the Sunday-evening Bible class, sweetly breathe in the following letters addressed to her by Elizabeth Linn during her short absence from the class.
May 12, 1841.
My Dear And Much-honored Teacher,
I embrace the present opportunity of writing to you a few lines. I had the privilege of being at the school on Sunday evening. Sweet it was to meet with my dear companions, and to speak to them of the wondrous love of Jesus. I much enjoyed the little prayer-meeting. We read the 3rd chapter of the Revelation, and our friend, Miss Hutchinson, explained it to us. She addressed us sweetly on the 21st verse, "To him that overcomes, I will grant to sit with me on my throne." How animating this prospect!
"A hope so much divine
May trials well endure."
My dear teacher, I have to thank you for the kind letter you sent us. Oh that it may be the means of teaching some careless young ones, who are postponing the interests of their precious souls to a future time, to flee now to Jesus as the only refuge from the coming storm. Dear teacher, we felt deeply interested in the young person you wrote to us about, who is so ill; we remembered her in prayer, and asked the Lord to support and comfort her, and lift upon her the light of His countenance. We shall not forget you, and all the young you may be engaged in teaching. My cough still continues but not so bad as it was. Oh for more gratitude to God for all His goodness to me!
Your affectionate student,
Edinburgh, June 18, 1841.
My Dear Teacher,
I return you many sincere thanks for your very kind letter. I hope, by the grace of God, your dear letters will be greatly blessed to our souls. May the solemn words addressed to those who have not yet come to Jesus, be carried home to their hearts with power, and be made the blessed means, in the hand of God, of awakening many to an anxious concern about their precious souls. And may we, who have found Jesus precious, like the young person you told us of, tell others about that wonderful love that led the Lord of life and glory to die for us fallen and ruined creatures! How little do I seem to do for that Jesus who has done so much, and such great things for me! Well may I call upon my soul, and all that is within me, to be stirred up to bless and magnify His holy name.
I feel at times very happy, when returning from the Sunday-school, in having heard about the love of Jesus; my heart is made to expand with love to God and to others. For some time past, I have had much enlargement in prayer, and was enabled to bring to the throne of grace every sin and want, and always found peace. But I have been very much cast down for these two days past. And yet I know that the Lord is hiding His face from me in love, and I am enabled to say, It is well, and all for my good. There is still much sin and pride remaining in this unsubdued heart of mine.
Miss Hutchinson is so kind, and so anxious about our souls. I hope we all feel thankful to our heavenly Father, for giving us such kind friends as you and Miss H., who care so much for our souls. Oh that every one belonging to the class would come to Jesus, and believe that God in Him is "pacified toward us, for all that we have done." I hope you will yet have the pleasure of seeing many, many of the dear, dear class, faithful followers of the Lamb. Weak and unworthy though my prayers are, I do not forget you and your dear sick friend. Pray for me, dear teacher, that I may be humble.
Your affectionate student,
The following extracts are from letters addressed to the young friend so frequently referred to in the preceding pages. It would appear, as is often the case, that a strong Christian affection had grown up between Elizabeth and her young correspondent, long before any personal acquaintance had taken place. Her love to Jesus was more manifestly, on this account, the sweet, holy, and close-attracting bond of their union.
March 7, 1840.
My Dear Friend,
Though never having seen you, I rejoice to hear you are one of those who love the Lord Jesus. Once I had no love to that Divine Friend who "sticks closer than a brother." I thought I was young, and might live many years; and that after a while, I would begin to seek after God. Oh, foolish thought! not knowing that until I had come to Jesus, I could have no real happiness. But it pleased the Lord, in the riches of His mercy, to lay me on a bed of sickness, and it was then I felt it had been better for me to have sought the Lord in health, and not to have delayed. I was very ill. My friends and medical attendant had very little hope of my recovery. I felt much afraid to die; for I thought I was not one of those who had washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb; therefore I could not stand before His throne, nor serve Him. My much-beloved friend and teacher visited me. She spoke to me of the wonderful love of Jesus to poor sinners; and how willing He was to save to the uttermost, all who come unto Him. But when I felt my own weakness, and the utter inability, of myself, even to think a good thought this was apt to discourage me. But the Lord showed me that I was not to look into my own heart for any good thing but to look to Jesus, my great Surety, and to rely on His finished work alone for salvation. Well may I adopt the language of David, and say, "O Lord, in faithfulness you have afflicted me!" "Before I was afflicted I went astray;" but now I have seen the salvation of the Lord.
My dear friend, pray that my faith fail not, and that I may stand, and may lean on the mighty arm of the Lord for strength to help in time of need. The other young friends unite with me in their sincerest regards to you. I will be most happy to receive a letter soon from you.
To the Same.
23rd March, 1840.
My Dear Friend,
I have to thank you for your very kind letter; it was long looked for. The Christian sympathy and love it breathed, brought tears into my eyes. My dear friend, I hope you still continue to pray for me. I need your prayers very much. I do not forget you when with Jesus but seek daily for the welfare of your soul. May you be blessed, and be made more and more a blessing; and any effort you make for the promotion of God's glory, may it be countenanced with an abundant blessing. I hope the students in Glasgow are getting on well. I should be glad to hear good accounts of them. You will have heard of the death of one of my dear companions belonging to the class. She was very dear to me; we often prayed together, and lamented the coldness of our hearts. But she is now, I trust, free from sin, and is where there is no more pain, nor sorrow, nor crying! The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will feed her, and lead her to living fountains of waters, and God will wipe away all tears from her eyes!
Oh that the blessed hope of living ever with the King, may quicken us more, daily to seek to praise Him, and to do more of His blessed will, rejoicing to be employed as the instruments of telling the way of salvation to any around us! My dear friend, may we, who have tasted of the love of Jesus, be stirred up to earnest prayer, to be made fit for the heavenly inheritance. I feel how earnest we should be in prayer for the dear class, that none be left out at the coming of our dear Lord; may each of them now give their hearts to Jesus, so that they may behold His glory. I doubt not by this time you have had many sweet meetings with our beloved teacher. Oh, how I miss her kind visits; I feel always so cheered after them. I am longing very, very much, to have from her a few lines, which may be as water to a thirsty soul.
You kindly inquire about my health. My cough is much worse. I have not been so unwell for many months. My dear teacher brought two bottles of medicine for my cough. When I think of her tender care of me, I cannot refrain from tears. My God will reward her. Forgive my long silence. Since the death of my mother, I have but little time for writing. Write soon, and tell me how your soul prospers. Good-bye.
Yours in the love of Jesus,
To the Same.
I am happy, dear Helen, that you are well. I hope it may please God to strengthen us in body and in mind, that we may be fellow-helpers of each other in the narrow way. Oh, may we not rest satisfied at what we have already attained; but may we press onward in our course! A crown of glory glistens in the distance; surely it is worth the running for. Dear Helen, I have enjoyed very much the sweet meetings (the concert for prayer) we have had these ten days past. Oh, may the united cry of God's dear people come before Him with acceptance, through the Lord Jesus, our great Intercessor! Oh, may the happy result be the conversion of sinners! May the Savior see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied; and may the time speedily come when the whole earth shall be filled with His glory!
O my dear friend, what a precious privilege it is that we can hold communion with God, and sweet fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ! He is the best of all friends unchanging ever the same. He is the First and the Last, and the ever-living One. If we, my dear friend, are His true disciples, He will manifest Himself to us in a way He does not to the world. What are we, that His banner over us should be love while many are inquiring, "What is your Beloved more than another beloved," seeing no beauty that they should desire Him?
Oh, may we, who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, live above this world and walk decidedly for Christ! When we think of all that He has done and suffered for us sinners, well may we cry out, "Herein is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us!" And when we think of what the Savior is still doing for us interceding at His Father's right hand how should this urge us to drop the anchor of our souls within the veil! How should the love of Christ constrain us to live not to ourselves but to Him who so loved us as to give His precious life as a ransom for us!
I rejoice to hear of the interesting meetings. Oh, may the Spirit be poured out in rich abundance in all His renovating and sanctifying influences; and may the happy result of them be, that the Savior may see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied! May God be glorified, and sinners saved!
When you write, tell me all about the meetings. We enjoy many privileges; and may we remember, that to whom much is given much is required. I am glad you still bear on your heart the dear class at the hour appointed. Let us not rest satisfied until all are brought to the knowledge of Jesus. What a happy thought, to look forward to the time when we shall be united in our Father's house! Blessed are they, my dear friend, who have a right to enter in through the gate of the city. There the inhabitants will never say, 'I am sick' for those who dwell there shall be forgiven all their iniquities.
Yours affectionately, in the love of Jesus,
The following extracts from some of her correspondence betray a high tone of spiritual feeling, an ardent attachment to the dear instrument of so much lasting blessing to her soul, and a fervent desire for the salvation of others:
"I sat down at the table of the Lord for the first time, last communion. I hope I was enabled to look above the ordinance to the God of ordinances, and to behold Him as a reconciled Father in Christ Jesus. Oh that every trembling soul would believe this precious truth, that God in Christ is reconciled even to the vilest of the vile, and pacified toward us, for all the sin which we have committed!
I feel much in the dear little prayer-meeting, and hope that the Lord will dispose many more of the class to join us in the delightful exercise. Not a few will be found in heaven, who have begun their spiritual warfare and their march to Zion in a Sunday-school. May the Lord more and more bless the labors of our dear teacher! May she have the happiness of seeing the pleasure of the Lord prosper in her hands."
"January 1842. Pray for submission to the will of God. Oh, do not speak again to me of a struggle at death! It is the words, 'Sleep in Jesus,' that makes me happy when I think of it!
"I shall be very happy to devote a part of the Sunday morning to ask the divine blessing upon the labors of our dearly-beloved teacher. And may we not rest satisfied until every member of the class is brought to the foot of the cross, to take refuge in the bleeding side of Immanuel! Oh, it is not too much to ask that all might be saved, when the salvation of sinners is spoken of as the travail of the Savior's soul, and as giving Him infinite satisfaction! Will not the glory of Christ much consist in the great number of His spiritual seed? And does not the Word of God assure us that they shall be a numerous offspring, even as the drops from the womb of the morning? O my dear friend, what a glorious time will it be when we are all united in one, and our beloved teacher, and all who have loved the dear Savior! We shall cast our crowns at His feet, and ascribe all glory to the Lamb who was slain! My dear friend, I have been thinking that it would be so nice if we knew the hour on the Sunday mornings, that we might all unite together in prayer, in behalf of the dear young ones. We were thinking of from seven to eight o'clock. We may sing
"Blessed be the dear uniting love,
That will not let us part;
Our bodies may far off remove,
We still are one in heart!"
As the reader has advanced thus far, the ardent attachment of Elizabeth to her Bible class must frequently have impressed the mind, as forming a lively and a prominent trait in her amiable and spiritual character. Her associations with it were most hallowed, her affection for it most tender and holy. It was there she first heard of Jesus, the sinner's Friend. It was there she first felt herself to be that sinner, and Him to be that Friend. It was there, too, beneath the culture of the same tender and skillful hand, by whose instrumentality the seed had first been sown, that the budding of grace in her heart was nurtured, until God removed this lovely plant to a more congenial soil, where the bud of grace has burst into the full-blown flower of glory! The fond attachment to her class, to which we have alluded, will best express itself in the following letter, which she addressed to it while lying on her bed of languishing:
To My Dear Companions Of The Class.
My Very Dear Young Friends,
I would like to write you a few lines tonight, as I fear I shall not be able again. I feel extremely weak, and suffer much from difficulty of breathing. My dear companions, the first thing I would urge upon you is, regular attendance upon the class. I can look back upon the time when I was first brought among you, and thank God for it. O my dear young friends, how very short and uncertain our time is! We have gotten many warnings, the voice has been made to sound in our ears, "Be ready!"
March 9. My dear young friends, I have been thinking much of you this morning, and have been asking from God that we may all be united at His own right hand. O my dear, dear friends, it is here you must choose whose you will be "who is on the Lord's side?" Satan is a hard master, serve him no longer, he is seeking to ruin your precious souls forever; delay not a moment longer, flee to Jesus the stronghold, while you are prisoners of hope. The blessed Jesus is waiting to receive you; all things are ready. Are there some of my dear companions here who have been convinced of sin but who fear that Jesus will not receive them until they perform their neglected duties, and try to be like God's people and then, they think, Jesus will receive them, with this plea in their hands? Dear friends, this is what I thought but it will not do! We must come as sinners, as lost sinners, to the foot of the cross it was for sinners that Jesus died; this is all the plea we need.
March 10. My dear friends, I should like to speak a word to you who have found Jesus precious. Oh, how sweet and precious I have found these words "My beloved is mine, and I am his." O my dear sisters, rest not satisfied with any attainments here, seek daily to know more of the love of Jesus. I have been thinking much of dear Elizabeth Aitchinson this morning, who is now in glory. Oh, how sweet to think of meeting with those who are gone before.
O my dear companions, how different things appear when
laid on a sick bed! Oh, seek now to glorify God; tell others what the Lord
has done for your souls. I rejoice to think I am not forgotten at the
much-beloved prayer-meeting. Yes, I can say, the Lord blessed me there. May
you have a refreshing season this evening! May Jesus come in and sup with
you, and you with Him! Oh, be very much in prayer for our dear
devoted teacher, that her labors may be abundantly blessed! May the Lord
bless these few lines to your souls, is the earnest prayer of your
affectionate sister in the love of Jesus,
The following detached observations, which fell from the lips of the interesting subject of our little Memoir, and which were noted down at the time, are supplied by one of her dear companions and fellow-disciples at the feet of Jesus. They unfold a rapid and mature work of grace in the soul; and, coming from the lips of one so young, yield much glory to that blessed Spirit, without whose teaching all other instruction is in vain; but with whose gracious and accompanying influence the weakest human effort to convey spiritual light to the judgment, and conviction to the heart, of a poor sinner, shall prove effectual to the removal of the strongest barriers to the salvation of the soul. With an eye of faith immovably fixed on the omnipotent and irresistible power of the Holy Spirit, let no one laboring for the conversion of sinners despair. The more unpromising the case, and the feebler the instrument the more resplendently will the power, grace, and love of the Spirit shine forth! Never abandon a soul until God does; and we have no just ground for supposing that God does until the fearful and irrevocable fiat has gone forth "Cut it down!" and we see the fruitless tree stretched lifeless upon the earth. The following letter may be read with deep instruction and comfort by the more matured believer:
"About the middle of February, when, through the kind providence of God, I first visited Elizabeth Linn, she said, on seeing me, 'Come away, Margery, why were you so long in coming?' The manner in which she uttered these words, and the pleasing countenance she displayed, bespoke to me a far different character than I had supposed she was. I had thought her distant, just because I did not know her so well as I might have known her. It was indeed a rebuke to me the judging of anyone from mere outward appearance.
At that time she said, speaking of her sufferings, that 'sin was the cause of them all. But, oh, what a happy place will heaven be, where there is no sin, and therefore no sorrow!' I spoke to her of Christ as the life of the believer, and that that life was hidden in God that we had no life in ourselves but that we must draw every breath of our life from Christ. She remarked, 'Oh, how safe and sweet it is to know and feel that Christ is everything to the believer and that we nothing!'
She many times spoke of the precious privilege of seeing the Lord's hand in everything, especially of my coming to be with her at such a season, when her dear friend had left her. She would often speak of the mystery of the communion of saints and we, indeed, enjoyed a very great degree of it here remarking, what would it be in glory, when we would be like Christ, and enjoy it to the full! We would often speak of the great and wonderful things God had done for us, and which He had promised still to do.
She enjoyed much of heaven upon earth. At one time, after a severe fit of coughing, she said to me, 'Oh, how sweet it will be to meet you in heaven, where we shall never, never part, and spend a happy eternity together in speaking of all the way the Lord has led us!' 'Yes,' I replied, 'and every pang of your present sufferings will add another note to the song, ever-charming, ever-new.' 'Oh, how sweet,' she said, 'to think of it! What must the reality be! Have you any doubt that we shall meet again? Do you think it will be long?' I said, 'No, Elizabeth, I have no doubt; and as to the time, I cannot tell.' 'Oh,' she replied, 'it does not matter; at the longest, it is but short. Oh, let us live to the glory of our God!'
About that time I read to her a poem by Ralph Erskine, entitled, 'The Work and the Contention of Heaven.' She said, 'I do not think much of it; it is fancy and conjecture.' 'True,' I remarked, 'the language of earth is too poor to utter the joys which are in heaven; we know very little of them here.'
"I asked her once if she was afraid of death; she replied that she was not. She often spoke of the doubts and fears of the believer, how dishonoring they were to God, and hurtful to our own souls as if God had promised what He was neither able nor willing to perform. The 'sure mercies of David' were her support; they were sure because God had promised them, and that was enough for her. Once, while suffering very much, I repeated the lines 'His arms can well sustain, The people of His love.'
'Yes,' she exclaimed, 'though he slays me yet will I trust in him.' That sweet verse in Romans 5:2 was very precious to her, 'Rejoicing in hope of the glory of God,' rejoicing in hope of the coming glory, as she expressed it. She was very much delighted with the idea, that Christ had paved the way for His flock, and that He keeps an open door, and that no one could shut it against her. She had been tempted to fear that her sins would shut this door; but this precious promise had been given to her, 'The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanses us from all sin.' (John 1:7.) This proved, indeed, the sword of the Spirit, whereby she was enabled to quench the fiery dart of the wicked one. This, as far as I know, was her last temptation.
She took very great delight in singing the sweet psalms and hymns she had committed to memory; and often, when Christian friends called to see her, she would request them to sing, in which, as long as her strength permitted, she took a part. On taking leave of her friends, she would frequently exhort and entreat them to keep close to Jesus, and that He would allow them to experience what comfort and support He had in reserve for them for a sick-bed and a dying hour. She spoke to many of the love of Jesus, commending Him as much by her example in patient suffering, as by her counsels.
She had many precious treatises and memoirs presented to her by her dear friends, and which were very useful to her; but for more than three weeks before her death, she wished nothing so much to be read to her as her Bible. It was there she found food for her soul, comfort in the time of sickness, and support in the hour of death. The scriptures were more to her than tongue can utter or heart conceive. She was fond of 'Psalms and Hymns, and Spiritual Songs.' Those commencing, 'There is a fountain filled with blood,' Let me dwell in Golgotha,' ' Guide me, O You great Jehovah!' ' When I can read my title clear,' were favorites. The following beautiful hymn, from the Olney collection, much refreshed her soul:
"When on the cross my Lord I see,
Bleeding to death for wretched me,
Satan and sin no more can move,
For I am all transformed to love.
"His thorns and nails pierce through my heart!
In every groan, I bear a part!
I view His wounds with streaming eyes;
But see! He bows His head, and dies!
"Come, sinners, view the Lamb of God,
Wounded and dead, and bathed in blood.
Behold His side, and venture near;
The well of endless life is here!
"Here I forget my cares and pains;
I drink, yet still my thirst remains;
Only the Fountain-head above
Can satisfy the thirst of love.
"Oh that I thus could always feel!
Lord, more and more Your love reveal!
Then my glad tongue shall loud proclaim.
The grace and glory of Your name!
"Your name dispels my guilt and fear,
Revives my heart, and charms my ear;
Affords a balm for every wound,
And Satan trembles at the sound!"
The following she requested might be read to her a few hours before her death:
"Asleep in Jesus! blessed sleep!
From which none ever wake to weep;
A calm and undisturbed repose,
Unbroken by the last of foes.
"Asleep in Jesus! oh, how sweet
To be for such a slumber meet;
With holy confidence to sing
That death has lost its venomed sting.
"Asleep in Jesus! peaceful rest,
Whose waking is supremely blessed:
No fear, no woe shall dim that hour
That manifests the Savior's power.
"Asleep in Jesus! oh, for me
May such a blissful refuge be!
Securely shall my ashes lie,
Waiting the summons from on high.
"Asleep in Jesus! time nor space
Destroys this precious 'hiding place;'
On Indian plains, or Lapland snows,
Believers find the same repose.
"Asleep in Jesus! far from thee
Your kindred and their graves may be;
But thine is still a blessed sleep,
From which none ever wakes to weep."
"Upon a kind friend bringing her some clean clothes, she said, 'The Lord bless and reward you for all your kindness; but I shall soon get the white robe, clean and white, which will need no washing!' 'Yes,' I replied, 'for it will never be soiled.' 'No, no,' she eagerly said, 'no sin there to defile for all is pure and holy.' When alone, she would often cry out, 'Oh, come and help me to praise Him, for all the great love with which He loves us. Speak to me of the wonders of redeeming love, and tell me of the sufferings of my Jesus, that I may forget my own; for I am often like poor Peter, looking at the waves and forgetting the power of the Lord Jesus to help me.'
Once when we were very happy together singing and praying, she said, 'Oh, how strange it is that when we find so much of heaven in this exercise, that we are so seldom engaged in it!' I replied, 'It is owing to the desperate wickedness of our hearts!' On one remarking to her, and regretting that she was deprived the privilege of attending on the public ordinances of God's grace, and that she would weary lying on her bed so long, she said, 'Oh no, I never weary! Triflers wonder how the days, and weeks, and even months, pass away. My God more than makes up for lack of ordinances; for when sufferings abound, consolations much more abound.'
On one occasion, observing her little brother in tears on account of the illness of his father, she said to him, 'O Willie, I thought you knew better; you know what the Psalmist said, "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." Read that beautiful chapter which says, "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."' I shall not soon forget the scene.
Once, after a severe fit of coughing, she cried out in great pain, 'Lord, help me! Jehovah, hear me in the day of trouble!' For two days before her death, her sufferings were much increased, which prevented her from conversing. Alluding to them afterwards, she said, 'Oh, what a cup of suffering I had yesterday; but what was it, compared to what my Jesus bore for me! Oh, how wonderfully was I supported under it!'
She took an affectionate leave of her minister, to whom she said, 'Farewell, sir, until we meet again.' At broken intervals, she said, 'Light affliction.' ' Enduring, as seeing Him who is invisible.' I said to her, 'Are you happy? Do you feel Jesus still with you?' She said, 'Peace, peace!' After prayer for a quiet passage home, she pressed and kissed my hand. I repeated the first line of one of her favorite hymns
'Asleep in Jesus! blessed sleep!'
She looked at me with a countenance with more of heaven in it than of earth, and then sweetly and gently fell asleep in Jesus, on the 5th of April, in the twenty-first year of her age.
'Oh. let me live and die like her,
Enclosed in Jesus' arms!'
The following is the letter from the Rev. Mr Burns, to which allusion is made earlier, as having afforded much spiritual refreshment to our now glorified young friend. It is a touching exhibition of a holy yearning of soul for the full salvation of youth oh that there were more of it! It affords a striking illustration of one peculiar means by which that great object may be sought. If those who visit this and kindred schools would gather up a fragment of, perhaps, otherwise wasted time, and devote it to a short epistle to the young people, after the example of our brother, how much would it encourage the heart and strengthen the hands of the teacher, and with what rich and lasting blessing might it be followed to the taught!
To the young people attending G___ School, Edinburgh.
Perth, March 10, 1840.
My dear young friends,
Some of you remember that sweet and glorious verse, on which I spoke a little the first time I was among you. I will repeat it, as it is one that ought to be engraved upon all our hearts, "You know the grace of the Lord Jesus, who, though he was rich yet for your sakes became poor, that you through his poverty might be made rich."
This sweet verse, I well remember, tenderly affected some of our souls, through the power of the Holy Spirit, on that afternoon that I was among you. And it is by considering, and truly believing, the wonderful truth which it contains that we are to be saved from sin, and all its bitter and everlasting fruits, and to be made partakers of God's salvation, with eternal glory.
Think, then, again, my dear young friends, of the dignity and glory which Emmanuel left when He came to our earth to save us! This we cannot conceive, it is so great and glorious. He was gloriously rich. He was not a creature but the Father's "only-begotten Son," the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person. And, therefore, He was rich from all eternity, not only in having all the universe as His own but in possessing all the infinite, eternal, and unchangeable attributes of the Godhead! And yet, mystery of mysteries! He became poor! He veiled His divine glory in our weak nature, by becoming a man: "He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness."
But this was not all, "he was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;" and His sufferings and shame were only ended by bleeding to death upon the accursed tree! This is a mystery which will never be fully understood by any creature throughout eternity but will always be forever unfolding new wonders of divine wisdom, power and grace to the souls of redeemed sinners and unfallen angels!
But then, what comes next in the verse? "He became poor for your sakes that you through his poverty might be made rich!" Had He not become thus poor, giving up for us not only all that He possessed but giving Himself for us we could not have been ransomed from the power of sin and Satan but must all have lain down in everlasting burnings, lighted up and fanned forever and ever by the breath of a holy and righteous God!
When we were thus awfully poor, He, in His infinite love, became Himself poor to enrich us. The wrath of God was suspended over us all, and though all creatures in heaven and earth would have tried, even by their own death, to save us from it they could no more have done so, than the least worm could support the mighty globe! But when all hope was at an end, Emmanuel interposed Himself in human nature, between the wrath of Almighty God above and us, poor guilty perishing sinners, below! That wrath descended on Him it mangled His body, it pierced and tortured His soul, until He, "the Prince of life," "the Lord of glory, died!"
He cried out, "It is finished!" as He bowed His head and gave up His spirit and the infinite wrath of God coming down on Him, could come no further! Death triumphed over Him as man but He vanquished death itself, because He was Jehovah! Divine wrath consumed His human nature but it could not injure the golden altar of His Divine nature on which that sacrifice was consumed! And this altar, sanctifying the gift upon it gave such a value to the sacrifice of Jesus, that His death is an infinite atonement for sin. And His death was sufficient to ransom, if so it pleased the Father, millions of millions of worlds of sinners, though each individual had on him the united guilt of all men on earth, and all men and devils in hell!
Dear fellow-sinners, if you take refuge by faith in this sacrifice of Emmanuel, you are saved, and cannot come into condemnation but have passed from death unto life. If you despise and reject it, then sooner may heaven and earth pass away than that you should escape being in hell to all eternity for your sins!
I rejoice to hear that some of you seem to have gotten a glimpse of the love of Jesus, and of the preciousness of His atoning blood. To such I would say remain at Calvary, be there sleeping and waking, at work or at play, living and dying. Gaze upon that great sight until your conscience enjoys perfect peace with God, until your heart is filled with Emmanuel's love, and your whole soul is transformed into His image, and becomes as a mirror, finely polished to reflect to all eternity, the rays of His grace and glory!
"Look unto Jesus!" is the whole the gospel. Look and wonder, look and live, look and love, look and adore, look and admire, look and be blessed, look and be glorified, look eternally and your hearts will be filled with everlasting love, your mouth with an unending hallelujah!
What can I say to those among you, who have heard of Jesus, and whose hearts are given to another to the world, to themselves, to a lust, a passion, an idol, to sin, to Satan! Ah! to hell-fire you will go if the Lord, in infinite mercy, does not interpose for you! Children, young people, who have not yet come to Jesus realize that you are under the wrath of God and that every moment it is coming nearer and nearer to your poor souls! Awake, arise, flee without a moment's delay to Jesus, and take refuge below His atoning cross and enjoy now and to all eternity, His free, infinite, and unchangeable love to perishing sinners!
Shall I meet you in heaven or see you going away in your impenitence and unbelief to hell? What do you mean, O sleepers! Arise and call upon God! "Whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Write to me, and I will try and write soon again. May the
Lord Jesus be with you!
Yours in Emmanuel,
William C. Burns
Many important reflections are suggested by the narrative now brought to a close; but that the reader may not be detained from the perusal of the one that follows, the practical improvement which may be made of both will be embodied in the closing pages of the volume.
Memoir of ELIZABETH AITCHINSON
"Lovely and pleasant in their lives and in their death they were not divided." 2 Samuel 1:28
The name of the interesting subject of the following sketch occurs more than once in the preceding pages. She was the Bible-class associate, and the endeared friend of her whose narrative we have just brought to a close. Death for a while separated them here below; but death reunited them again in a better world on high. The interval of their separation was not long. They were indeed "lovely and pleasant in their lives and in their death they were not divided."
Elizabeth Aitchinson whose history closes our little volume was also a member of the same Bible class for a period of six years and a half, and during that period was exemplary for her regular attendance and diligent attention to the spiritual instructions given. About the beginning of November 1839, the school was privileged with several visits from the Rev. Mr Burns. On his addressing a note to her teacher, stating that he was in town, and wished to make an appointment with the school, a reply was returned by Elizabeth. On placing the note in her hand, her teacher took the opportunity of conversing with her with a more personal application of the truth to her conscience than she had before done; reminding her that although she possessed much spiritual light on divine things in her judgment, she yet had not passed from death unto life.
This heart-searching appeal to a conscience sufficiently enlightened and tender to admit its truth and feel its force, drew tears from her eyes. On leaving her teacher, she hastened upon her errand. Mr Burns had just left the house but she was informed that she might possibly overtake him, which, after a short time, she did. Having read the note by the light of a street-lamp, and delivered a verbal answer, he inquired if she was a student. She replied that she was a "Sunday-evening one." In a kind but solemn manner, he then put the question to her, "Have you seen the glory of Christ?" She hung down her head but made no reply. He then affectionately took her hand in his, and said, "Never rest until you can say that Christ is precious to you," and left her.
That was the moment in which the arrow of sin's conviction, pointed by the weakness of man but winged by the unerring power of the Spirit, found a lodgment in her heart. Sleep was a stranger to her eyes that night. Its silent hours were spent in the deepest searchings of heart, and in the most solemn and holy reflection. Who can slumber, conscious of standing upon the brink of hell? Why do the ungodly and impenitent sleep? Why are they so secure, so lightsome, and so mirthful? Because they are strangers to conviction of sin, and see not the lake of quenchless fire, on whose margin they each moment stand!
But Elizabeth was aroused from her deep slumber. That night the thought was riveted upon her mind, "If I cannot answer Mr Burns then how can I answer if summoned to stand at God's tribunal?" She thought of God's goodness in surrounding her with so many privileges; interesting His people in her spiritual welfare, especially His sending one whom she had never seen before. Ten days she spent in great mental anguish. The arrow remained transfixed in her heart the wound festered in her conscience the discovery of her sin, and its exceeding sinfulness, became more and more deep, clear, and overpowering.
On the following Sunday evening, observing on her countenance an air of deep distress, her teacher inquired if she was ill. She burst into tears, and said, "My body is well but my soul is miserable!" From this time she became an object of deep solicitude and especial prayer. After many conversations with her teacher who rejoiced to meet with a case so suited in every respect to the Savior of lost sinners, the Healer of the broken-hearted, the Comfort of those that mourn she at length found peace through the atoning blood of the Lamb, and took her place at Jesus' feet a pardoned, a justified, and a happy soul.
From that time she rejoiced in God, and the joy of the Lord was her strength. Her sole ground of acceptance was the finished work of the incarnate God. She saw that all this mercy she owed to the free and distinguishing grace of God. That, as a sinner, without a single claim upon that grace springing from herself, was she saved. That, had God punished her He would have been perfectly just; but that in saving her by the death of His Son both His justice and His grace were magnified. This was solid ground for her faith. She was filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory; we marvel not at it. Her peace flowed like a river; we wonder not that it should. Emancipation from the most abject slavery acquittal from an appalling condemnation escape from the most fearful doom, followed by a positive state of blessings and privilege, to which the highest angel in heaven is a stranger if this does not fill the heart with gladness, the mouth with praise, the life with holiness, and even death with transport what else can?
From this time her path was truly that of the "just, shining more and more unto the perfect day." Short was her journey to the skies; but that journey was to be distinguished by a rapid maturity of grace, which must soon land its happy subject within the precincts of eternal glory!
Fellowship with God, it was soon apparent, was her chief employment and delight. Indeed, she became constant and mighty in prayer. Each Sunday evening, for some months, found her and a few kindred spirits, clustering around the cross, pouring out their hearts in the deepest devotion to Him who from that cross had spoken words of peace to their souls. This meeting for prayer was with a view of especial supplication for a blessing upon the Bible instruction about to be given, and upon the more general assembling for prayer, which usually followed the meeting of the class. Deep humility, blended with filial confidence and importunate earnestness were the marked characteristics of her prayers.
On one occasion, she was heard to ask of God that the "school might be a Lebanon where many cedars might be reared with which to build the Lord's temple." And on the last evening that she was permitted to attend, her heart was much drawn out in intercession in behalf of her teacher, praying that her hands might be held up by the prayers of her class.
From a memorandum kept by her beloved teacher, we shall gather the materials of her subsequent spiritual course until the close of her life.
"The last Sunday evening of the year was the closing scene of her attendance at the school. On that occasion she was much distressed, in consequence of the domestic affliction of one of the class; and as the unusual lateness of the hour prevented the customary meeting for prayer, she sweetly said to me, as she left the room, 'We must remember each other in secret, and hope to meet next Sunday.' In a few days following, she was seized with an attack of inflammation of the lungs. The first time I saw her after this, she thought she was recovering. She said to me, 'Will you tell my dear companions of the class, that at one time I used to think that when I was ill I would come to Jesus. But, oh, say to them all, that sickness, or the near approach of death is not the time to begin to seek Him. Tell them I bless God that my feet were upon the Rock, Christ, before this illness; and He has supported and comforted me.' She spoke of the strong consolation and stable hope which she then derived 'from the blessed truths of the gospel' and of the peace she enjoyed as a sinner at the foot of the cross. At the same time, expressing the concern she had of late felt for the conversion of the class, especially the comfort of those who were under concern of mind.
"On calling on her again, she still thought she was slowly recovering but added, 'I am in the Lord's hands, and He will do with me what is good.' She referred to the delight she had experienced in the class, and of the deep concern which she felt for the souls of its beloved members. On one occasion, I found her dear friend, Elizabeth Linn, sitting by her side, reading a volume, entitled 'Consolatory Letters,' and conversing happily together of the love of Jesus, and what He had done for their souls. They had been conversing together upon different portions of the Scriptures, when Elizabeth Linn paused, and remarked, 'Oh, how different is the Word of God from other writings! What a richness in a few words, and what delight does a single passage afford!' She expressed a longing desire to join her class, that she might testify to others what a present help in her time of trouble, she had found Jesus to be.
"From the stormy state of the weather, I did not see Elizabeth again for several days. On Saturday, a note from her father informed me that she had become suddenly worse, and was anxious to see me. I was informed at the same time by Miss Hutchinson, the teacher of the day-school, that on calling in the forenoon, she had found Elizabeth apparently very near death but in a most delighted state of mind so quiet and composed, so cheerful and happy.
She was endeavoring to comfort her weeping parents, by leading them to see the Lord's hand in the trial. When allusion was made to Abraham's trial, in being called to give up his son, Elizabeth said, 'To go further to think of His love, who spared not His only-begotten Son but freely gave Him up for us all. Mother, will you not willingly give me up when God requires it?'
"The next day (Sunday) I went early to see her, and found her a little revived. A medicine had given ease to her breathing, in which she gratefully acknowledged the Lord's blessing on the means. She desired especial prayer to be made for her in the class, that in all things she might be enabled to submit to the will of God. She said, that since she knew the Lord, she had never had the least fear of death, until the Friday night before. In consequence of a severe fit of coughing, she had coughed up much blood, which had greatly weakened her. A young friend calling upon her, Elizabeth observed she looked shocked at the change in her appearance; after she was gone, she asked her mother to bring a looking-glass that she might see herself. When she saw her own pale, emaciated face for the first time, she felt a shrinking from death, and a desire to live.
But she added, 'that night the Lord sent me these precious words, "Accepted in the Beloved." Oh,' she said, 'what sweet meditation I had from them! I saw so clearly the work was wholly finished by Jesus; and that as accepted in Him I had no cause to fear; and since that time have not had another fear of death, my mind has been kept in perfect peace. My heart still clings to the dear Sunday-evening class. I have had a thought, which I hope is not wrong or fanciful. I have been thinking that in heaven, perhaps I may be allowed to know when any member of the dear class gives her heart to Jesus. You know it says, "There is joy in heaven among the angels of God, over one sinner that repents;" and I feel as if my joy would be greater if I knew it was one of my dear companions. Perhaps I may yet be able to be in the class one Sunday evening more. How I would like to speak to all of the love of Jesus!'
"On Monday I found her," continues her teacher, "still better. 'When unable to speak much,' she remarked, 'I can say, God be merciful to me a sinner.' She stated that she felt sweet peace, the gift of Jesus' love, and found at the foot of the cross. She named several of the class, concerning whose conversion she felt great concern, and was desirous that they would not delay but come immediately and wholly to Christ. She mentioned one particularly, whom she felt to be thoughtless but rejoiced to think that of late she had manifested more interest in spiritual things, adding, 'the grace of God can soften down the hardest heart!'
I read to her the 7th chapter of the book of Revelation. Upon the last part, in which she much delighted, she remarked, 'It was not because of their tribulation that they are before the throne but because they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of Jesus.' She referred to the sweetness she tasted in lying passively in the Lord's hands, having no will but His. She delighted in the thought that the way the Lord was leading her was the right way to a city of habitation. On the Sunday before, she spoke much of Mr Burns, who had been useful to her and to others in the school; and in referring to the evening on which she first saw him, she quoted the lines,
"A thousand ways Jehovah has,
To bring His people home!"
"On Tuesday I found her worse, attended by chill, difficulty of breathing, and restlessness; still she had the same sweet and cheerful expression. She manifested tender anxiety at my coming out in the cold, and wished me to sit near the fire. Upon my asking her how she was, she replied, 'I can scarcely tell how I am, or how I feel; but I am a poor sinner at the foot of the cross; yes, at the feet of Jesus, and there I have found peace.' 'Oh, how I wish to speak to all my class companions!' She referred to her affection fur Elizabeth Linn, and sweetly added, 'Our bond will never be broken.' All who love the Lord Jesus will never be separated but be united forever with Jesus. She said that she had much pleasure in the thought that the whole family in heaven and in earth were but one, and quoted those lines as expressive of her sentiments on the blessed subject of Christian union of all who love the Lord Jesus, both in heaven and on earth:
'One family we dwell in Him;
One Church above, beneath,
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death.'
"She was lifted from the bed and placed near the fire, much exhausted; but her heart seemed to overflow with the love of Jesus. She again remarked that she looked back with gratitude to having been a Sunday Bible-class student for above six years, and spoke encouragingly to me of the blessing with which the Lord had followed the instructions given. I left her at about two o'clock, little thinking her end was so near. Two hours after, just as her father had laid her down on her bed, he saw a change in her countenance, and said, 'Elizabeth, do you think this is death?' She replied, 'Oh no, father! I feel very well, except my breathing.' He again inquired,' Elizabeth, do you love your mother and I?' She immediately answered, 'O father! you know that I love you all; but you know there is One whom I love more than father or mother, brother or sister.' She then turned on her pillow, as they thought, to take rest in sleep; but it was the sleep of death her spirit had fled to Jesus! Happy soul! 'Your sun shall no more go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord God shall be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be yes, are ended.'
'You are gone to your rest, sister!
We will not weep for thee,
For you are now where oft on earth
Your spirit longed to be.
'You are gone to your rest, sister!
Your toils and cares are o'er;
And sorrow, pain, and suffering, now
Shall ne'er distress you more.
'You are gone to your rest, sister!
Your sins are all forgiven,
And saints in light have welcomed you
To share the joys of heaven.
'You are gone to your rest, sister!
Death had no sting for thee;
Your dear Redeemer's might has gained
For you the victory.'
The following letter, addressed to her much-loved teacher when from home, manifests the yearning of her tender spirit after more of Christ in her own soul, and her ardent desire that Christ might be formed in the souls of others:
"Edinburgh, June 19.
"My Dear Teacher,
We feel grateful to you for your kind fulfillment of your promise in writing to us. Our esteemed friend Miss Hutchinson reads to us your very kind and instructive letters. I earnestly hope that, by the blessing of God, they may be made the means of leading each of my dear companions in the class, who have not yet given up their hearts to the dear and compassionate Redeemer, who is holding out the olive branch of peace, and who says, 'those who seek me early shall find me,' to yield their hearts to Him now. I feel, in my humble experience, that there is no real and lasting happiness to be found but in the service of the Redeemer, who so loved us, even when we were rebels against Him, as to give Himself a ransom for us.
You wished us to tell you of the dear prayer-meeting. Oh, it is a dear prayer-meeting to our souls indeed! There we often meet with Jesus; there our souls are refreshed; and we have much pleasure in knowing, that though absent in body, we can meet in spirit with our dear teacher. Pray for me, that I may daily grow more humble, and have more of the love of Jesus shed abroad in my heart.
'Blessed be the dear uniting love
That will not let us part;
Our bodies may far off remove,
We still are one in heart.'
"That the Lord may abundantly bless your labors of love
where you are at present, and when at home with us, is the earnest prayer of
your affectionate student,
During her illness, she often recurred to the following hymn, as affording her a simple and clear view of the atoning, finished work of Jesus, on which the Eternal Spirit had brought her soul believingly to rest, and in resting on which she had found perfect peace:
BELIEVE AND LIVE.
"O trembling sinner, lift your eye,
Behold the cross on Calvary!
See! wondrous mercy, from our God,
Flows down to man in streams of blood.
"Look, sinner, look! the work is done,
God has not spared his only Son;
For you He gave Him up to death,
For you Christ heaved His dying breath.
"The spotless 'Lamb of God' is slain,
Whose blood can cleanse from every stain;
All sacrificial lights are o'er,
And lo, the altar smokes no more.
"In smiles is Mercy now arrayed,
Pleased that, while justice is displayed
She can unfold the wondrous plan
Of 'Peace on earth, good-will to man.'
"Oh let your guilty spirit rest
Upon th' atoning work of Christ:
That work is finished all is done-
Christ is your refuge, Christ alone.
"No longer hasten on the path
Which leads to misery and death:
God now entreats you hear His cry,
'Oh turn you, turn you, Why will you die?'
"Eternal life is now revealed
In Christ, whose work the Father sealed.
When from the dead He rose on high,
And captive led captivity.
"O sinner, count the record true;
Believe that Christ has died for you,
Believe that God will pardon give;
And Now. oh now, believe and live!"
You have now, my dear young reader, concluded the perusal of these brief but instructive memoirs of two young believers, mowed down by the scythe of death like morning flowers of loveliness, not to wither and decay but to be transplanted to that better land, where buds of grace expand into flowers of glory. What are the reflections suggested to your thoughtful mind by the gracious dealings of God with their souls, and by His providential removal of them so early to Himself? Permit me to aid you in the practical improvement which, with the Lord's own blessing, you may make of the histories just read.
In tracing the different instrumentalities by which their minds were so early and so clearly enlightened on the great truths of salvation, we must first specify their early connection with the Sunday-school. In this institution they may be said to have spent their years of infancy. Here, doubtless, the foundation was laid of the beautiful superstructure of early piety, which was afterwards so solidly reared and so rapidly completed. Contemplated in this light, the instructions of the Sunday-school became of vast and indispensable importance. True, it is that part of the work which, because it is behind the scenes, and thus concealed, is therefore much overlooked and undervalued. Nevertheless, considered as laying the basis of the fabric, as teaching the first principles, as inculcating the rudiments of divine truth, and as sowing the seeds of future holy thought the Sunday-school institution occupies the foreground of all kindred and benevolent enterprises. If the hope of the Christian Church in the great conflict that is before her, is in the young then their hope of early piety, and of a firm basis of Christian character and distinguished usefulness, is in a great degree associated with the training of the Sunday-school, fostered by the labors and prayers of the Christian Church.
My young reader, are you a Sunday-school student? How favored, then, is your position yet how responsible! You may consider it as the golden period of your life. How much of your future happiness and welfare, respectability and usefulness, depend upon it! The foundation is now being laid: remember what that foundation is to sustain! Perhaps you are of very tender age; your temptations to waste of time, to indolence of disposition, to inattention to study, to neglect of your class, to trifle with your companions, to irregularity in your attendance, if not to stay away altogether may be very great too great almost for you to conquer.
Even more serious temptations than these may assail you. You may be tempted to turn a deaf ear to the instructions given to undervalue the privilege with which you are so richly favored to break away from the restraint of God's holy day and blessed Word to resist the authority and disregard the counsels of your teacher to neglect prayer, and those means most calculated to secure the conversion of your soul. But beware! These are temptations of an alarming character, and they ought to be, and must be, resisted and overcome.
In the Sunday-school, your moral and intellectual character is receiving its first bent: that bent it will never entirely lose. It will give a shape to your afterlife. The good Sunday student will become the diligent Bible-class student, and the diligent Bible-class student will become the devoted teacher; and from the ranks of Sunday-school and Bible-class teachers, the Lord has often selected those who have proved the most eminent ministers of the gospel at home, and the most distinguished and useful Christian missionaries abroad. But a bad Sunday-school boy or girl gives no such hope of honor or usefulness. See, then, what vast importance attaches to your present situation! How costly the privileges! How golden the opportunities! How precious the instructions! Supplicate God's grace, that you may highly value and rightly improve them.
But it was in the Bible Class these lovely flowers of grace first appeared, arrayed in the beauties of holiness. It was there the Spirit of God first began effectually to move upon their hearts. Their previous acquaintance with divine truth, the habits of reading and reflection which they had formed, their reverence for the Scriptures, and their respect for persons and things which were spiritual, all of which the instructions and influence of the Sunday-school had tended to impart, doubtless prepared the way for the subsequent work of grace. And yet it was but preparatory. The great change had not yet taken place. Had they died in that state, they had been lost forever!
Here let us pause and remark, how far a young person may go in a spiritually-enlightened and well-informed judgment in an outward respect for the truth, and even in much love for those who teach it while yet the whole soul retains its deep rebellion against God. All this time the heart is held back from Christ. Other objects unlawfully detain it. Either fettered to self, to sin, or to the world He who alone possesses a right to its affection is made to stand a patient, long-suffering suitor at its closed door. During this season of hesitation and delay, the difficulties of surrendering the heart to Jesus are multiplying, while the probabilities are becoming stronger and stronger that that heart, thus wooed and refused, will never be His!
Oh, how does every moment of procrastination and delay widen the distance between Christ and the sinner! What a fearful process is going on in the soul, of hardening the mind and heart! Every day the conscience becomes more and more impervious to holy impression, and a new link is forged and added to the chain which binds the heart to sin. Impenitence and unbelief weave and entwine their web stronger and faster; Satan is getting a more supreme mastery, and the things and cares of earth a firmer hold. New acquaintances are made new associations are formed new habits are contracted new desires and expectations are begotten, and new sources of gratification are sought and found to meet their insatiable and resistless cravings. Thus all the while heaven is receding from the view, becoming each moment of persisted impenitence, a "land very far off;" while hell, moved from beneath, is nearing with noiseless and unseen tread, the certain and appalling doom of every soul dying in its sins!
But from this fearful condition the Lord, in the riches of His sovereign grace, delivered these young believers. The instructions of the Bible class, I have already remarked, were mainly instrumental in effecting their conversion to God. As soon as they had been honorably dismissed from the Sunday-school, they attached themselves to the adult class, which met on each Sunday evening for biblical study. It was here the great truths of the Bible were presented to their minds in their more experimental character and personal application to the conscience. Their unrenewed state by nature the exceeding sinfulness of sin the holiness of God the spirituality and claims of the law the nature and necessity of conversion the personal glory and the atoning work of Jesus the grace, power, and love of the Spirit were subjects pressed upon their individual consideration by the affectionate teacher, with a result which told how faithfully they had been urged, and with what a divine blessing they had been accompanied. What a beautiful and impressive illustration do the histories of these young Christians afford of the superior advantages which flow from Bible-class instruction!
It comes not within our immediate province in these pages, to enlarge upon the most efficient plan of conducting a Bible class. We may venture, however, to suggest a few hints, which may be acceptable to those engaged in this interesting and important mode of imparting spiritual instruction to the young.
We remark, then, in the outset, that that plan will best commend itself to the judgment, which seems most calculated to secure the great and primary end of the institution itself, namely the immediate conversion to God of its unrenewed members, and the advancement of those who believe in Jesus in all practical godliness. We suppose these to be the grand results aimed at in all biblical instruction.
There is great danger, we venture to premise, of making a Bible class too much to resemble the divinity class of a theological school. The literature of the Bible may supersede, as a study, a thorough investigation of the spiritual meaning, and the practical bearing, of the text. Abstract and subtle questions of theology may hinder those which have a more direct and personal reference to the subject of the soul's salvation. That which we want mainly to know ourselves and make known to others, is the mind of the Holy Spirit in the Word what God says to us on the momentous matter of our future and eternal state.
To those who possess the ability and the time to acquire a knowledge of the original Hebrew and Greek of the Scriptures their chronology their Oriental allusions their history, science, and poetry, doubtless what may be termed the literary meaning of the Bible, would by these means be better understood; and much that would otherwise appear conflicting and mysterious, would be explained and elucidated. But of the great mass of our youth devoted to the study of the Scriptures, how few possess either the time or the talent for such acquirements, investigation, and research. And yet the Spirit of God being their Teacher He opening their understanding to understand the Scriptures they may arrive at such clear and profound views of the spiritual and true meaning of the Bible as shall render them the most formidable opponents of error, and the most powerful exponents of truth. They shall thus completely out-distance, in a real and deep knowledge of the sacred Word, the more literary and intellectual student. While the one is admiring the external beauty and symmetry of the temple of truth, the other shall have passed within, ranging its numerous and gorgeous apartments. The one shall applaud the taste and skill which mark the arrangement of the table; the other shall take his seat at its side, and partake of its richly-furnished viands, as one "hungering and thirsting after righteousness."
In conducting a Bible class, then, we repeat, it is all-important first, to keep distinctly and constantly in view, the grand end of such an institution the present conversion to God of its members. Its results falling short of this, dwindle into comparative insignificance. The Bible was given, not as a textbook of human science but as a divine revelation of God's will. It was designed, not to make skillful disputants, or dry theologians but converted sinners, and holy Christians. Scripture was designed, not to inform the judgment merely but to renew and sanctify the heart.
Let the learner become experimentally acquainted with its holy truths, and you have gone far, yes, you have done the utmost that human instrumentality can do not only to fortify the mind against the seductions of error but to make the disciple like Apollos of old, "mighty in the Scriptures," able to teach others also. As a means to an end an end, oh, how glorious! God has placed in your hand a powerful agency. It may be simple in its construction, and noiseless in its operation human genius may not admire, nor may human breath applaud it; nevertheless, as an instrument of conversion, it is second only to the Christian ministry. Indeed, in some points of view, it may be said to possess an influence transcending that of the ministry. The pulpit addresses itself to the mass the Bible class to the individual. In the one case there is a hearing for others in the other, there is a hearing for one's self. The teacher has a hold upon the conscience, and is brought into contact with the whole soul in a way which affords superior advantage of usefulness. Let no conductor of a Bible class underrate his power. Its greatness is equaled only by the responsibility which it imposes, and the blessings which it secures.
You are entrusted with an important charge; you are called to a great work. You hold in your hands a mighty agency of usefulness. Yours it is to open up the mind of the Spirit in the Word to explain its deep mysteries, to expound its great doctrines, to enforce its holy precepts, and to unfold its precious promises. What a high office an interpreter of God's holy Word! Is not the bare thought enough to annihilate all secret, fond conceit of your own worthiness, wisdom, or strength; to lay low every wretched feeling and exhibition of self, and to constrain you to be much at the feet of Jesus, in earnest and ceaseless supplication for the teaching and the anointing of His own Spirit! Oh, that hands so unclean should be permitted to handle a word so pure! that lips so polluted should be anointed to speak of a God so holy! that one poor, ignorant sinner should be appointed by the Lord a teacher of others! Oh, how should we sink in the dust before Him!
And what an opportunity is thus afforded you of watching the gradual progress of the work of grace in the soul of tracing it, step by step, from its earliest dawn to its fullest glory; from its feeblest beginnings to its perfect maturity!
And, oh, how much of God is learned in this school of His love to poor sinners; of the power of His grace, in overcoming the most formidable opposition in the soul; of the wisdom with which He teaches; of the skill with which He guides; of the gentleness and sleepless care with which He watches over the soul that He is conducting from earth to heaven! What a deep insight into His glorious character is thus afforded!
And what an honor to be the instrument of effecting this great and wondrous work of turning a sinner from the error of his ways; of reproving the indifferent; alarming the careless; instructing the ignorant; guiding the inquiring; satisfying the doubtful; encouraging the timid! In a word, of leading a sin-distressed soul to a Savior who casts out none that come to Him! Surely this is a distinction which angels might covet, this is a crown which they might exult to wear. To be a benefactor of mind what a privilege! To train that mind for a blissful eternity what a responsibility! It is thus we become co-workers with God!
As to the PLAN of conducting a Bible class, the more simple and the less complicated, the more likely is it to secure the grand object it contemplates. A single book of the Scriptures should be commenced with and closely adhered to until it is finished. All rambling, desultory study of the Bible, both in private reading and in class investigation, should be avoided. By this I do not mean to set aside the comparing of Scripture with Scripture, for this is of the highest importance, is indispensably necessary, and would necessarily not confine the learner to a single book but carry him into many. But I refer to the advantage of making one Gospel or one Epistle, for example, the subject of study, until its scope is clearly seen, and its textual meaning is thoroughly understood, so far as the Spirit of truth opens it to the mind. The simple plan of question and answer the student having previously known and well studied the marginal references and renderings, and seeking to ascertain the spiritual and practical, as well as the literal and primary meaning of the passage will, I think, be the most direct way of arriving at the mind of the spirit in the Word.
The teacher will, of course, taking this as the basis, frame his plan according to the capacities and attainments of his class. Scripture geography, Eastern allusions, etc, may, even in the least informed class, be occasionally introduced, as serving to shed light on many facts of the sacred page.
Should the practice be adopted, which in many cases prevails, of proposing questions to the teacher, through the medium of anonymously written papers, great care should be taken that those questions, if they refer to the meaning of any portion of the Word, or any doctrine of the Bible, should not be idle, curious, or speculative, such as the concentrated wisdom of man could not answer, because the divine wisdom of God has not revealed. Or if the questions have a bearing upon individual Christian experience, or cases of conscience then the deepest self-examination is needed, to ascertain if the state of mind unfolded, or the difficulty proposed, is really and truly felt by the individual proposing it.
Every statement of the teacher, should be a true expression of the feelings of the heart nothing varnished, exaggerated, or overdrawn; and every inquiry and research should proceed from a sincere and ardent thirst for truth.
Nothing should be more deprecated and discouraged than insincerity in the composition of religious letters. With some light in the understanding, and a clear observance of the various traits of religious character it is an easy task to write a letter on Christian experience, which shall greatly mislead others, and awfully deceive one's self. The pen, like the tongue, can move smoothly and rapidly. Feelings are often expressed, and sentiments are uttered, and thoughts are penned to the real experience of which the individual is an utter stranger! They have been read in books, or heard in sermons, or gathered in conversation but are not the out-flowings of the water of life deep welled in his own soul! Ah! we may talk well of Christ, and reason profoundly of truth, and discourse fluently of Christian experience, and bend the knee in actual confession and supplication and remain all the while a stranger to a broken heart for sin, and to the joy and the peace of its forgiveness!
Oh, be watchful here! Lay aside that letter which you may have written, and read it on the morrow. Read it as upon your knees, and with your eye fixed on God's eye. Does that inquiry which it propounds spring from a sincere desire to learn? Is that sin which it confesses really deplored? Is that sorrow which it expresses deeply felt? Is that joy of which it speaks honestly experienced? Is that Jesus of whom it discourses truly admired, loved, and obeyed? Can you, as did Hezekiah, spread your letter before the Lord, with the solemn conviction, "You, O God, see me!"
Oh that in all things we may be constrained to walk uprightly and honestly with God, freely expressing to Him all that we feel, and truly feeling all that we express Israelites indeed, in whom there is no deceit. But let it be your encouragement to remember that God knows His own work in your heart. And not only does He know but He acknowledges it; and not only does He acknowledge but He delights in it. Your faith may be feeble, your strength small, your grace but little, your knowledge limited, your experience defective; yet if, by the Eternal Spirit, you have been led out of yourself, to take refuge in Christ you are one over whom God rejoices with joy; yes, rejoices over you with singing. Beauteous to His eye, and dear to His heart, is that work of holiness in your soul. What is it but the product of His own power, the germ of His own grace, the fruit of His own Spirit, the outline of His own image! Will He, then, despise, overlook, or turn His back upon it? Never! never! Have you been made willing in the day of His power? Have you, through grace, given to Him the dew of your youth! Is the morning of your life consecrated to His service? Have you laid upon His altar the youngest, the richest, and the best of the sacrifice? Oh, honored servant! Oh, rich, costly, and acceptable offering! Your God delights in it; yes, delights in you!
It may be that I am addressing one, who, from a natural diffidence and nervousness of character, finds it a difficult and painful, if not impossible task, to throw open to the human eye the secrets of the human heart on the great subject of the soul's salvation. Perhaps it would seem to such a one a matter too deep, too solemn, and too personal for a stranger to intermeddle for a creature to sympathize with. But amiable as such a feeling may be, there is danger of carrying it to excess. "I will speak," says David, "that I may be refreshed." Unbudening the full and oppressed heart to one who can sympathize with its emotions, unveiling the mind to one who can understand its exercises, is often productive of the happiest results. Heart brought into contact with heart, mind with mind, spirit with spirit has, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, frequently been the means of scattering the darkest clouds from the mind, and chasing the deepest sorrow from the heart. A word dropped from one who knows our case, oh, how good is it! If your mind, then, is at all roused to anxiety about your salvation if the subject of your conversion presses upon your conscience if you feel sin a burden, and have any longings of soul for Christ if you are accustomed to retire to weep and to mourn in secret then seek the help of some spiritual Christian, who may be able to counsel, guide, and comfort you.
Above all, do not forget what an open door Jesus is. Here you have at all times free access. No questions asked no price demanded no denial given. Oh, then, unveil your heart to Jesus! Its deepest guilt confess to Him; its keenest sorrow take to Him; its greatest need make known to Him. He knows it all yet would have you tell Him all. His blood is efficacious enough for all. His grace is sufficient for all. His love is deep enough for all. Lose not a moment in going to Christ. Press to Him through all difficulties; you can touch Him, and He can heal you in the crowd. You shall not be unseen nor unnoticed. He has a blessing for you. Rise, He calls you! He calls you to confide to Him the secrets of your burdened heart and He will unfold to you the secrets of His forgiving love.
One feature, in particular, in the piety of these young believers, must have deeply impressed the mind of the attentive reader, namely, the frequency, speciality, and tenderness with which they were accustomed to bear their beloved teacher in their hearts before the Lord. How worthy of your example, my young reader, is this! Are you a member of a Bible class? Go you and do likewise! Remember that all the light and blessing which flow to you through the instructions of your teacher come first from Him, who is the Fountain of light and blessing in whose light we see light, and with whose blessing we are blessed indeed.
Great are the responsibilities, duties, trials, discouragements, and the self-denial of your teacher. He is, perhaps, with you week after week, in "weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." He is oppressed by the conviction of his personal unfitness for his work his unworthiness, ignorance, and unfaithfulness. He is borne down by the weight of his responsibility, or he is discouraged by the smallness of the number, or the irregularity of attendance, or the lack of deep, fixed interest in his instructions, or the little practical result of all his toil. Or else, overcome by his sense of the value, and faint with his wrestlings for the conversion of souls, as he passes to his class, he mournfully exclaims, with the prophet, "Ah! Lord God! behold, I cannot speak; for I am a child!" Or with the apostle, "Who is sufficient for these things!" Be much, then, in prayer for your instructor. Pray for him individually, pray for him collectively. Hold up his hands by fervent, unceasing, believing prayer. Endeavor to realize his responsibilities, to identify yourself with his duties, to sympathize with his feelings, and seek to make his work pleasant to himself, and profitable to you, by regular attendance upon, and a serious, devout attention to, his instructions. Who can estimate the immense blessing that may flow from God into his soul, and through him into yours by the closet devotions of a single member of the class!
Above all blessings, seek in the study of the Bible, large degrees of the grace, influence, and teaching of the Holy Spirit. Apart from this the Word of God, with all the human subsidiary aid you can bring to its investigation, will remain but as a sealed book an unrolled scroll. Remember, there is a gracious influence and operation of the Holy Spirit separate from, though in harmony with, the written Word. Without that influence, you cannot understand the Bible, nor will its revelations come to you with a quickening, saving power. "The letter kills but the spirit makes alive." Do not dishonor nor grieve the Spirit, by supposing that He brings to bear upon the mind no other influence than that which the mere letter of the written Word contains. There are those who hold this doctrine, to the leanness of their souls, and to the denial of the Spirit. If this doctrine were true, then why is it that our Lord, the great Prophet of His people, promised that on His departure to glory, He would send the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who should guide us into all truth? If the written Word were enough why promise such a guide? Why send the Holy Spirit? Why enjoin upon us to ask His bestowment, and to seek His teaching?
Oh, it is alone the Spirit who quickens! It is the Spirit alone who unseals the Word! It is the Spirit who takes of the things of Christ, and shows them unto us! The Word is the "sword of the Spirit;" He it is who makes the sword effectual. Without the wielding of His arm, as polished as is its blade, and sharp its edge, and fine its point, and beautiful its ornament it yet is but a passive and a powerless weapon it pierces not, it wounds not, it slays not! There is no "dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow," nor is there any "discernment of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
You have, perhaps, hitherto been baffled and confounded in your attempts to understand the Scriptures. Observing this, Satan has secretly insinuated doubts of the divine inspiration of some parts of the sacred Word. He has suggested that so much that was seemingly contradictory and profoundly mysterious, and hard to be understood could not have originated with Him whose wisdom would constrain Him to give a true, and whose benevolence would prompt Him to give a clear, revelation of Himself, His mind and will, to man.
But pause and reflect upon the precipice on which you stand! Ponder the steps by which you have been conducted to its fearful brink! Have you not come to the study of God's Word as to a mere human production? Instead of humbly bringing the Word to the teaching of the Spirit have you not proudly brought it to your reason? Have you not attempted to fathom the fathomless, to measure the illimitable, to know what God has not made known, to comprehend what He has not revealed, even hidden purposes and mysterious modes, which must ever remain concealed in His own infinite mind, forgetting that "secret things belong to God!"
Trace, then, your embarrassment and difficulty in understanding the sacred Word to its real cause, and see if it may not be found to exist in a secret pride of intellect, and in a consequent restraining of prayer for the direct teaching of the Holy Spirit. Oh, let our fervent petition from this moment be, "Teach me, O Lord! You who alone teaches to profit! Open mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law! Waiting upon You, Eternal, enlightening Spirit would I daily be found seeking as a little child, as an humble learner, that 'anointing which teaches of all things.'"
"Come, blessed Spirit, source of light,
Whose power and grace are unconfined.
Dispel the gloomy shades of night,
The thicker darkness of the mind.
"To my illumined eyes display
The glorious truths Your Word reveals:
Cause me to run the heavenly way,
The book unfold, and loose the seals.
"Your inward teachings make me know,
The mysteries of redeeming love;
The emptiness of things below,
The excellence of things above.
"While through this wilderness I stray,
Spread, like the sun, Your beams abroad.
To show the dangers of the way,
And guide my feeble steps to God."
Doubtless the question of the eunuch, has often expressed the embarrassment you have felt, as a learner of the sacred Word "How can I understand, unless someone explains it to me?" That Teacher is God's own Spirit. There is no darkness which He cannot scatter, no difficulty which He cannot remove, no portion of the Word which He cannot explain. All that is necessary to your salvation is revealed in the Word all that can now be known of Jesus is there unveiled; and all this, the blessed Spirit stands prepared to make known to you. He it is who leads you to Jesus; Jesus lifts the veil and reveals the Father; and the Father, when revealed, appears full of love, mercy, and forgiveness to the poor returning prodigal, who in penitence and lowliness seeks an asylum in His heart.
And oh, how ready is the Spirit to instruct you! Such love and grace has He in His heart, the Heavenly Dove seems ever poised upon the wing, ready to fly to that soul who but sighs for His inward teaching! Does He see one oppressed with a sense of guilt? He hastens to apply the atoning blood of Jesus. Does He mark one weary with its fruitless toil? He seals the promise of the Savior on the heart "Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Does He spot one combating with temptation, tormented with fear, harassed with doubts, struggling with infirmity, halting through weakness? Oh, how ready is He to show that soul where its great strength, and comfort, and grace lie even in the fullness of a most loving, precious, and all-sufficient Savior!
Oh, then, in the name of Jesus, seek this glorious gift of God. Seek Him as a life-giving Spirit, (John 6:63;) as making Jesus known to you, (John 15:26, 16:14;) as leading you into the deep things of God's Word, (1 Corinthians 2:10;) as comforting you in every sorrow, (John 15:26;) as deeply sanctifying you, (Romans 8:13;) as imparting to you the love, confidence, and consolation of an adopted child, (Romans 8:15) as breathing into your soul true prayer, (Zech. 12:10; Romans 8:26, 27;) as evidencing to you your sonship, (Romans 8:16;) as giving you access through Jesus to the Father, (Ephesians 2:8;) as dwelling in you, (John 14;17; 1 Corinthians 3:16;) as strengthening the divine life in your soul, (Ephesians 3:16;) as giving you a oneness with all saints, (Ephesians 5:3, 4;) as being to you the pledge and the seal of eternal glory, (Ephesians 1:14, 4:30.)
For your encouragement in seeking this great and indispensable blessing, I would remind you of the words of our Lord himself, which at once define the precious gift, while they insure its free bestowment, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Ask, and you shall receive the teaching and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Without Him, all is the darkness and the stillness of death! Possessing Him, your path to glory will grow brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.
It is not improbable that this little Memoir may find its way into the chamber of solitude and affliction, and be the occasional companion of some young believer confined to the bed of sickness. From its narrative, you will learn the all-sufficiency of Jesus for the wearisome days of sickness, and for the solemn hour of death. Read again the record of His tender, gracious dealings with these now glorified young believers. See how He made all their bed in their sickness, so that they lay softly and composedly as on a bed of down. See how His left hand was under their head, and how His right hand embraced them! See how He deigned to visit their lowly dwellings, cheering their hearts with His love, strengthening their faith, animating their hope, and sustaining them, as He gradually but so gently, led them down to the shore, and then on through the swellings of the river of death.
Mark, too, the love and faithfulness of the Spirit how He stood watching over, with sleepless eye, the work of grace which He had begun in their souls, and was now perfecting for its state of glory. Observe how He supplied the soul with the hidden manna feeding, nourishing, and sustaining it with promise after promise, just as the mind fluctuated and the feelings changed. See how He met every difficulty, solved every doubt, quelled every fear, soothed every sorrow by His unfoldings of Jesus to the soul. In every new phase that appeared in their experience in every new doubt that arose, and in every new fear that alarmed observe how He fixed their eye on Christ, and in a moment all was peace.
And so, my young reader, will be your experience. Doubt not, faint not, fear not; that same heavenly Father that same all-sufficient Redeemer that same blessed Comforter will be with you on your bed of languishing, and "even unto death."
The great truth with which you now have alone to do is the complete salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a sinner, this is just the doctrine that you need. You cannot trust in it too implicitly, nor lean on it too confidently. You are a poor sinner Jesus is a rich Savior; and an empty sinner and a full Savior go hand in hand!
Let me present my affectionate sympathy with your present state of loneliness, privation, and suffering. Wearisome days and sleepless nights are appointed unto you. When it is day you long for night; and when night comes you are as one that watches for the morning. In all this, Satan, ever ready to harass, where he cannot possess the soul may suggest hard thoughts of the dealings of God with you. Oh, do not entertain them no, not for a moment!
The God who is now dealing with you is love all love. If so He saw fit, there should be no cold sweat upon your brow no hectic flush upon your cheek; no pain or restlessness in your frame; no day without ease; no night without sleep. But since He has so ordered it, let your dear heart bow to His will, and exclaim, "Even so, Father, for so it seems good in your sight."
Has the idea ever suggested itself to your mind, that perhaps the most effectual and pleasant relief for wakeful hours of restlessness, is to endeavor to fix the mind upon God, making Him alone the subject of its musings and contemplations? The remedy has been tried with the happiest results. The mind fixed upon God every troubling thought being excluded its excitement ceases, and sweet sleep will follow; when perhaps all other remedies have failed. The following case, presented in the words of another, will best illustrate and confirm the idea:
"A friend once told me, that, among other symptoms of high anxiety and stress, he had been painfully harassed for the lack of sleep. To such a degree had this proceeded, that if, in the course of the day any occasion led him to his bedchamber, the sight of his bed made him shudder at the idea of the restless and wretched hours he had to pass upon it. In this case, it was recommended to him to endeavor, when he lay down at night, to fix his thoughts on something at the same time vast and simple such as the wide expanse of the ocean, or the cloudless vault of heaven that the little anxious and disturbing images that flitted before his mind might be charmed away, or hushed to rest by the calming influences of one absorbing thought. Though not at all a religious man at the time, this advice suggested to his mind, that if an object at once vast and simple was to be selected, no one could serve his purpose so well as that of God. He resolved to make the trial, and think of Him. The result exceeded his most optimistic hopes: in thinking of God he fell asleep. Night after night he resorted to the same expedient. The process became delightful; so much so, that he used to long for the usual hour of retiring, that he might 'fall asleep,' as he termed it, 'in God.' What began as a mere physical operation, grew, by imperceptible degrees, into a gracious influence. The same God who was his repose by night, was in all his thoughts by day. And God, as revealed in the gospel of His Son, became 'all his salvation, and all his desire.' So various are the means, and inscrutable are the ways, by which God can 'fetch home the banished.'" "I lie awake thinking of You, meditating on You through the night!" Psalm 63:6
And, oh, how blessed is the object of contemplation thus presented to your wakeful thoughts! A God in Christ your covenant God your reconciled Father. All His thoughts towards you, peace; all His feelings, love; and all His dealings, mercy. Soon will you be in His heavenly presence, and behold His unveiled glory as it beams forth from the eternal throne! Soon will you be with Jesus, shall see Him, be like Him, and dwell with Him forever! Darkness, and conflict, and sickness, and death shall cease, because sin shall cease. Then, in your blessed experience, will be realized the beatific vision, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away."
Let this prospect reconcile you patiently to wait all the days of your appointed time, until your change comes. God is faithful. Christ, in whom you believe, is able to keep that which you have committed unto Him against that glorious day. He will perfect that which concerns you. Nothing shall be consumed in your present fiery trial but the tin and dross. The precious and imperishable gold shall be "found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ."
Not more safe were Noah and his family, when they sailed in the ark through the storm than is that soul who is shut up in Christ. If you have come out of yourself, have left all, and have fled to Jesus this is your encouragement. Not a soul ever perished whom the Father gave in covenant to His Son; whom the Son redeemed; whom the Spirit has regenerated, and in whom He dwells! A threefold cord keeps that precious saint the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! "Kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation." Oh, precious declaration! Press it with a stronger faith to your heart; for if God is for you who can be against you!
Ah! in your present state of weakness, you find it difficult to think or to pray. Still, He who formed you, knows your frame; "He remembers that we are dust." There is One who thinks and prays for you. It is Jesus, your Elder Brother; the "brother born for adversity;" the great High Priest wearing your nature, who has passed within the veil, "now to appear in the presence of God for us." Jesus intercedes for you moment by moment. Your faith shall not fail; your grace shall not decline; your hope shall not make ashamed; for He who came down to earth, and was wounded for your transgression, and was bruised for your iniquities rose again from the dead, and ascended on high, now to appear in the presence of God for you!
Christ prays for you, and that when by reason of confusion of mind and weakness of body you cannot pray for yourself. Be not cast down, because of your inability to read the Word, or even to hear it read. Your present incapacity and apparent lack of interest is physical, and the effect of disease. The Lord knows it. He remembers that you are dust. Then do not be grieved; He who said to His disciples, when they were faint and exhausted, "Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest," cherishes in His tender, loving heart thoughts and feelings of compassion towards you. He knows your weariness, and your faintness; your confusion of thought, and your present restlessness of body, and does not require from you, more than His own power and grace will enable you to give.
Precious Jesus! You are that gentle Shepherd, who never over-drives Your little ones. When they cannot run You permit them to walk; and when, through feebleness, they cannot walk You carry them. You are He of whom it was said, "He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young!"
Lord, regard me, one of the smallest, weakest of Your flock. Gently lead me, or tenderly carry me; yes, in Your very bosom carry me! Nowhere am I so safe. Nowhere so happy as there. Your bosom was pierced for my sins; yes, by my sins and there alone can I repose. Your grief is my joy; Your sorrow is my gladness; Your wounds are my healing! And that bosom of Yours was smitten with the sword, racked and rent asunder by the tempest, that it might be to me a fountain of healing; a pillow of rest; a covert from the storm."
With these feelings, how expressive of your views are the sentiments of a sweet poet of Scotland:
"I lay my sins on Jesus,
The spotless Lamb of God;
He bears them all, and frees us
From the accursed load!
"I bring my guilt to Jesus,
To wash my crimson stains
White in His blood most precious,
Until not a spot remains!
"I lay my wants on Jesus
All fullness dwells in Him,
He heals all my diseases,
He does my soul redeem!
"I lay my griefs on Jesus,
My burdens and my cares;
He from them all releases
He all my sorrows shares!
"I rest my soul on Jesus
This weary soul of mine;
His right hand me embraces,
On His bosom I recline.
"I long to be like Jesus
Meek, loving, lowly, mild;
I long to be like Jesus,
The Father's holy child.
"I long to be with Jesus,
Amidst the heavenly throng.
To sing, with saints, His praises.
And learn the angels' song!"
Personal effort for the salvation of others the duty and the privilege of young believers is impressively illustrated and strongly enforced by the preceding narratives. This is one of the most beautiful traits, and one of the clearest evidences of youthful piety. The moment God converts an individual He converts him for the good of others. He blesses him that he may be a blessing. From that moment he is no longer to live to himself. The grace that he has received, places him under the most solemn obligation to live and labor for the souls of individuals. His light is to be reflected; his salt is to be scattered; his gifts, his graces, his time, his influence all, all are to be pressed into Christ-like service of personal effort for the conversion of souls. He is to seek to multiply himself. He is to labor to fill the world with more Christians to beautify it with a greater number of living temples of the Holy Spirit. This is to be done, not so much by group efforts as by personal effort. Not so much as a society as an individual.
"Resolved," says the holy James Brainerd Taylor, "that I will (the Lord being my helper) think, speak, and act as an individual; for as such I must live, as such I must die, stand before God and be damned or saved forever and ever. I have been waiting for others. I must act as if I were the only one to act, and wait no longer." Oh, high and holy, and magnanimous resolve! And so he did live, and act, and die. And though his life was a short, yet it was a brilliant one brilliant with individual effort for the salvation of souls! The God of salvation, whose the power, and to whom the glory belong crowned his labors with cheering success.
As an individual, Jesus lived and labored, when He "went about doing good." As an individual, Paul lived and labored, and could testify in his parting address at Ephesus, "Remember, that, by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears." What a blessed, holy, prosperous church would that be, were every member, as an individual, thus living and laboring to bring souls to Christ! How great and happy would be the reflex influence! A tide of blessing would roll back upon us. Great prosperity of soul in the individual members, and a large increase of the Church as a body, would surely follow.
As an individual, then, consecrate yourself to the service of the Lord. The Sunday school, the Bible class, the Bible and the tract distribution, open to you appropriate and delightful spheres of labor. Why, then, do you loiter in the vineyard? Be up and doing. "Occupy until I come," is your Lord's command. Let your inquiry be, "Lord, what will you have me to do?" and then follow the leadings of His providence; and whether it be to labor at home or abroad whether to occupy a humble or a more prominent post of labor bow in cheerful submission to the Lord's disposal of you, exclaiming in the language and in the spirit of the poet
"May Your will, not mine be done;
May Your will and mine be one!"
I cannot permit myself to conclude these pages without once more proposing the question to the young reader, and pressing it home with an earnestness and a solemnity befitting its unspeakable importance, "Are you truly converted?" I ask not, Are you a member of the Church? This you may be alas! numbers are! and yet, bear with me while I say it, for I speak in love to your soul this you may be, and yet be lost, and that to all eternity, notwithstanding! Multitudes, multitudes, holding an external membership with the Church, having been initiated by baptism, and partaking regularly of what is termed the "holy communion," yet are total strangers to true conversion!
Do not mistake the nature of this great and necessary change. Neither baptism, confirmation, nor the Lord's Supper, can confer or authenticate it. Born in sin, you grow up "dead in trespasses and in sins." Born under the curse of a broken law, you are exposed to its tremendous penalty; and all the works of righteousness which you have done or may do can never take that curse from off your soul, or screen you from its awful consequences. Living and dying without a change of heart a renewed mind a new and divine nature love to God pardon by the blood and acceptance in the righteousness of Christ hell must be your inevitable doom!
Ponder the declarations of God's Word, which define the nature, and urge the necessity of the new and second birth.
See its NATURE: "If any man is in Christ Jesus he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new," (2 Corinthians 5:17.) "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision but a new creature," (Galatians 6:15.) "Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," (Ephesians 4:24.) "Partakers of the divine nature," (2 Peter 1:4.) "You has he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins," (Ephesians 2:1.)
All true Christians are the subjects of this new birth: "As many as received Him, to them gave He power (marg. privilege) to become the sons of God, even to those who believe on His name; who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God," (John 1:12, 13.) "New-born babes," (1 Peter 2:2.) "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God," (1 John 5:1.)
The Holy Spirit is the AUTHOR of the new birth: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," (John 3:6.) "Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit," (Titus 3:5.)
See its NECESSITY: Apart from the new birth, there is no salvation: "Jesus answered and said unto him: Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." (John 3:3.)
Holiness of life is the grand EVIDENCE of the new birth: "If you know that He is righteous, you know that every one who does righteousness is born of Him," (1 John 2:29.)
Reader, here let me pause and ask yet once more the momentous question, "Are you born again?" Are you born again? Marvel not that I press the question with increased earnestness and solemnity! Everything valuable and dear to you in the prospect of eternity is connected with your answer! Heaven is a holy place, and "without holiness no man can see the Lord." Have you seriously contemplated the probability and the possibility of your being forever excluded from heaven? Excluded you must be, without the experience of the new birth. And, banished thence where do you think that will you spend your eternity? Where but in hell! Oh, dreadful thought! Appalling prospect! You must lie down, enwrapped in an ocean of quenchless flame the undying worm gnawing upon you forever!
Do I seem to speak alarmingly? I aim so to do. I wish to agitate, to arouse, to warn you. I would gladly, that when you have laid down this book, you should go to a sleepless pillow, your night spent in deep searchings of heart, solemn reflection, anxious solicitude, and fervent prayer on the grand subject of your soul's eternal salvation. Give no sleep to your eye, or slumber to your eyelids until you have fled as a lost sinner to the cross of Jesus! Let these words ring in your ears until followed by the sweet sounds of Mercy, pronouncing your sins forgiven: "You must be born again!" John 3:6
You may defer the consideration of this solemn subject. You will, perhaps, return to the world, throw off all solemn thought, and quench every spark of holy feeling; but
"This fearful truth will still remain:
The sinner must be born again
Or sink to endless woe!"
The weeping eye of an anxious inquirer for salvation may drop its tear upon this page. Ah! is it so? Then I change my theme. Rich is the provision which God has made for poor broken-hearted, humble, penitent sinners: "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life!" "God so loved the world!" Oh, what love was that! This is the love to which, as a trembling sinner, I invite you. And what has this vast and astounding love provided? A Savior and a great one! Jesus is that Savior.
Has the Spirit convinced you of sin? Do you feel guilt a burden, and does the law's curse lie heavy upon you? Then He is the only Savior. Believe in Him, embrace and welcome Him. See how He points to His atoning blood and bids you bathe in it! See how He shows you His wounded side and invites you to take refuge in it! Hear Him say, "Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Him that comes unto me, I will never cast out." "If anyone thirsts, let him come unto me and drink!" Oh, come to Jesus! this moment come! A full Christ, a willing and an able Christ, a precious Christ, a tender, compassionate, loving Christ is He! He was never known to reject a single soul who besought His healing touch.
There is a fullness of pardon, a fullness of righteousness, a fullness of grace, a fullness of love in Jesus! There is enough for you, enough for me, enough for every poor, penniless comer! Your vileness, your unworthiness, your poverty, your age are no hindrances to your coming to Jesus! Rather they are incentives, all in favor of your coming. Every view you take of your emptiness, every sin that presses upon your conscience, speaks loudly, "Go to Jesus!" Where can you take your guilt, your burden, your sorrow but to Him?
Go, then, nothing doubting of a welcome. "Only believe," and you are saved. Free free as God's grace can make it is the blessing of salvation. Your own righteousness will avail you nothing in the procurement of Divine forgiveness. Coming building on any work of your own, you will be as surely rejected as he who comes building on Christ's work alone, will be surely received. "However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness." "By grace you are saved, through faith." "Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace." "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
Oh, glad announcement, then, to a poor, bankrupt sinner! Without works! without merit! without money! without worthiness! By faith! By grace! The Spirit of Comfort speaking these words to your broken heart you may exclaim in an ecstasy of new-born joy, "Then I am saved! I am saved! God is mine, Christ is mine, salvation is mine, heaven is mine! My fetters are broken, my chains are burst, my burden is gone, and I am swimming in a sea of love!"
Such, my reader, is the Lord Jesus. Oh for a thousand tongues, to tell of His dying love to poor sinners the readiness and the gentleness with which He heals a broken heart, binds up a wounded spirit, soothes a disconsolate mind, and gives the "oil of joy for mourning; and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness!"
Are you a young believer? Then live as such, remember the holy profession you have made, the solemn vow you have taken to be the Lord's. Walk worthy of your high calling. Be circumspect, be watchful, be prayerful. "Abstain from all appearance of evil." Come out of the world, and be separate; form no alliance in any shape or connection with it. Let your friendships be holy, your companions those who fear the Lord.
Especially guard your affections. Let no natural loveliness of person or of character, be in your eye more lovely and attractive than grace. Remember the Word of God is against unhallowed unions; that a believer in Jesus may "marry only in the Lord." Seeing how many young Christians have slighted this solemn precept, and have in consequence brought upon themselves a Father's chastening rod I am constrained to lift up my voice in earnest and affectionate warning. Great may be the temptation, and feeble your power of resistance; but the grace that is in Christ Jesus is all-sufficient. "My grace is sufficient for you."
Perhaps you are a young believer, deeply, painfully tried and afflicted. The Lord often early puts His children in the furnace. How soon was Jesus himself made to taste the cup of suffering! When yet an infant, His life was sought. How soon after his conversion was Paul made to know what great things he was to suffer for Christ's sake! Well, if the Lord is now trying you He is but preparing you for greater usefulness on earth, and for an earlier transmission to heaven. The shorter the work the sooner the rest. Those who are called by grace early in life are often taken early to glory! Their voyage is soon made; their journey is soon finished; their race is soon run. Heaven is very near a young believer. His bark sails along its verdant shore. The port soon appears. He enters; and he is forever with the Lord. His sun goes down while it is yet day; but it rises again in cloudless splendor, to set no more forever. Oh, how rich and resplendent is heaven at this moment with innumerable happy and glorified spirits of those who were early brought to Christ, early fought the fight, and early went to receive the prize!
As a young believer, your path may often be a difficult and a perplexing one. Questions may sometimes arise which produce the most painful difficulties and perplexity. But permit me to direct your attention to a portion of God's Word, which, to him whose pen traces these lines, has been through life more precious and more valuable than all the wealth of the Indies. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths."
Oh, cheering words, to one trembling to follow the will of God! Act faith upon it, and light from heaven will shed its beams upon your soul, and its luster upon your way. God will direct your paths! Are you an orphan? He will take you by the hand, and be to you a Father. Have you no mother, to the shelter and soothing of whose love you may flee? Hear him say, "As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you." Oh, what can you want that you have not in God!
Let your walk be very close and humble with Him. Cultivate daily communion. Set a high value upon closet prayer. No other prayer can supply its place. It is there alone, that the soul can conduct its secret transactions with God. Remember, if you are His adopted child, your Father delights in your person, loves your voice, and makes all your interests His own. You have not a sorrow that He will not soothe, nor a step that He will not guide, nor an infirmity that He will not subdue, nor a temptation that He will not break, nor a void that He will not fill, nor a need that He will not supply. Lift up, then, your heart with your voice, and exclaim, "You shall guide me with your counsel and afterward receive me to glory!" "Whom have I in heaven but you! And there is none upon earth that I desire beside you!"
Farewell, my beloved young reader! We have spent some hallowed moments together here: may it be our privilege, through sovereign grace, to spend a happy eternity together in heaven! There may we meet the two lovely "Gathered Flowers" whose beauty we have been admiring, whose fragrance we have been inhaling; and with them may we be presented by Jesus to the Father, a part of the "glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing," but all washed in His blood, and all clothed in His righteousness! As we commenced this little work in the spirit of prayer let us close it in the spirit of praise. And what words more appropriate than "The Pilgrim's Song".
"My rest is in heaven, my rest is
Then why should I murmur, when trials are near?
Be hushed, my dark spirit; the worst that can come
But shortens your journey, and hastens you home!
"It is not for me, to be seeking my bliss,
And building my hopes, in a region like this;
I look for a city, which hands have not piled,
I pant for a country, by sin undefiled!
"The thorn and the thistle, around me may grow;
I would not lie down, upon roses below.
I ask not my portion, I seek not a rest,
Until I find them forever, in Jesus' breast!
"Afflictions may damp me, they cannot destroy;
One glimpse of His love, turns them all into joy,
And the bitterest tears, if He smile but on them,
Like the dew in the sunshine, grow diamond and gem!
"Let doubt, then and danger, my progress oppose;
They only make heaven, more sweet at the close.
Come joy or come sorrow, whatever befall,
An hour with my God, will make up for them all!
"A scrip on my back, and a staff in my hand,
I'll march on in haste, through an enemy's land;
The road may be rough, but it cannot be long.
And I'll smooth it with hope, and cheer it with song!"