« PreviousContinue »
Between the duties of my profession, and surprise, however, he pressed upon me the
brother officers, my importance of immediately giving up my time was so occupied, that reflection on heart to the Saviour, and of preparing for the past, or contemplation of the future, death. I cannot tell now what more he had scarcely a place in my mind. Thus said; but when he left me, I began to year succeeded year in a monotonous think that, though it might be very right round, until
, at the solicitations of my and proper for one to be schooled about wife, I sold out, and exchanged the life religion when lying on a sick bed, it was of a soldier for that of a country gentle- a most preposterous thing for a man so
The place I selected as my resid- strongly to insist upon it to a person in ence was convenient to a town where, perfect health, as I then was.
Such were with a faithfulness that would have done my first thoughts after this, to me, nevercredit to apostolic times, the gospel of to-be-forgotten interview. My friend's Christ was boldly and affectionately de- remarks, however, induced subsequent clared. But though the advantages of a
and better reflections; and I was at last gospel ministry are great indeed, they were led to read the Bible for myself. The at that time quite lost upon me; for, not- light that soon broke in upon my mind withstanding the brightness with which led to discoveries of a character truly the truth shone around me, I sat in dark- wonderful to me: not only did I read it ness and in the shadow of death. It in the Scriptures of God, that I was a pleased the Lord, however, in the midst guilty, polluted, hell-deserving sinner, but of my forgetfulness of him, to lay his I felt it in my inmost soul. I felt, too, hand of affliction upon me. Still my how powerful my obligations were to love heart was unsubdued. Death, indeed, that gracious Being who had so loved me appeared awful; but I regarded it as as to give his only begotten Son to die for greatly in advance of me: and though I I saw that my whole life had been knew I was moving onwards towards it, one continued act of rebellion against still I flattered myself that I had yet him; and my astonishment was great that many years to spend before I should have he had not, long before, let loose the to encounter his frightful grasp. My thunder of his power against me, and state providentially excited the Christian plunged me lower than the grave. These feelings of a devoted servant of the Lord, feelings, however, were accompanied by who, during my illness, paid me several a hope that the Lord in his infinite mercy visits. On those occasions, he spoke to would, after all, be gracious unto me, and me about the love of Jesus in dying for pardon my sins. Under this impression, me, and such portions of the Scripture as gave myself up to prayer and searching he judged applicable to my state; and of the Scriptures; and one night, after my called upon God, in prayer, to bless me. family had retired, I threw myself down My conceptions relative to these exercises on my knees beside the sofa, and called were, that they constituted a sort of duty upon the Lord to have compassion on which a pious man thought it right to me, and remove the burden of my transattend to, and to which it was very proper gressions. How long I continued in this for a sick person to submit; but, beyond way I cannot now recollect; but before I this, they made no impression upon my ceased to plead, in an agony of prayer, the mind. It was the will of the Lord, how- merits of my Saviour's death, the Spirit ever, that I should recover; and I was of the Lord, so clearly set forth Christ soon able to drive out. I now thought I Jesus before my mind as dying for my had no more to do with religious means, sins, that I could no longer doubt the or even with religious men, until sickness willingness of God to have mercy upon might again, at some far distant day, lay me. Peace instantly flowed into my its hand upon me.
But how mysterious heart, and I rejoiced with a joy that was are the ways of God! how diversified the unspeakable and full of glory. I immemeans he employs to bring sinners to diately hastened to my bed-room, and, himself! On my first visit, after my re- awaking my wife, told her of my newlycovery, to the town of B- I was met tasted happiness. Thus did the Lord in the street by the devoted Christian who introduce me into newness of life; and, had so kindly visited me during my afflic- from that time to the present, I can truly tion. He inquired, in the most affection- say that his ways have been to me ways ate manner, after my and I well of pleasantness, and all his paths peace. recollect my reply: it was, that I was The captain ended his interesting acnever better in my life.' To my great count of his conversion. He evidently
felt the making it to be a cross; but, as | tlemanly exterior and manners. Without the Lord's witness, he desired to bear a any circumlocution, he adverted to the faithful testimony to the grace which was occurrences of the last evening, and menbestowed upon him: and, having done tioned that what he then heard had made this, he confidently left the issue to God. a deep impression upon his mind. CapThe solemn silence which followed was tain B. at once entered into his feelings, soon broken by Mr. K —; who, though and to him the young man disclosed his personally unacquainted with the captain, entire heart. I write now from recollecwas not a stranger to his God. The tion, and cannot therefore say that I redealings of the Lord with his children, cord as related to me, his exact words : although diversified, exhibit evident proofs his statement, however, in substance was to the Christian's mind that they are ope- this :-“I am by birth a Roman Catholic, rations of the same Spirit. It proved so in and descended from an opulent and rethe present case : the experience of cap- spectable family in one of our midland tain B- - told feelingly and impressively counties. After my education had been upon the heart of my mercantile friend. completed, I was sent by my parents to The mercy of the Lord in calling him travel on the continent. In early life, my into the glorious liberty of his children, prejudices had all been engaged in favour stood out before his mind in all its im- of the church of my fathers; but the scenes portance ; and, from a heart overflowing which I witnessed in Italy transmuted with gratitude to God, he, too, declared, my attachment into disquiet, while the in a brief manner, what the Lord had doctrines which I had heard broached in done for his soul.
France riveted the bands of infidelity The scene altogether was one of deep firmly upon my mind, and I returned to interest—of interest which doubtless ex- Ireland, in my politics a zealous Roman tended itself beyond the room in which Catholic, but in my creed completely these strangers sat, and in which angels anti-christian. Such was my state on enthemselves refused not to participate. Itering this room on the last evening; but have before observed that there were at by your statement relative to your converthis time, in the coffee-room, two or three sion, my attention was arrested, and after small parties of gentlemen, who at first my astonishment had in some degree subwere busily engaged with the newspapers: sided, I thought with myself, Here is a miliit was observed, however, that as captain tary man-one who has had opportunities B- proceeded with the account of his of seeing the world—he has no inducement conversion, the papers were laid down, to practise a delusion upon his fellowand the most inarked attention seemed to men, such as priests and monasteries be paid to his interesting narrative; so have—he bears testimony to the enjoymuch so, that although it occupied a con- ment he has found in the Bible and in siderable time, the bell was never once prayer : there must then, after all, be rung, nor the smallest uneasiness mani- something in religion.” He added, “This fested by any of the gentlemen present. is still my conviction, and may I beg you The evening was now, however, consider- to tell me how I should act. ably advanced : and, after some refresh- To say that the captain was interested ment had been partaken of, the officer, by this candid confession of his state, captain B., and Mr. K. warmly shook would be too weak an expression. His hands, and separated for the night. whole soul was drawn forth towards him,
What the thoughts and feelings of the that he might become the saved of the strangers were on retiring to rest, I pre- Lord. To one who had been himself, by sume not to say. On the mind of one the power of Divine grace, turned from individual, indeed, reflections were in- darkness to light, there can be no great duced by the statements he had over- difficulty in pointing out to others the heard, such as he was before an entire way of reconciliation. The Bible had stranger to, and which the following been the captain's sole director; he remorning fully disclosed. Captain B., who commended it, therefore, strongly to his was an early riser, had not long entered young friend as his secret guide. He rethe coffee-room, where he was alone, commended him, too, to pray earnestly when one of the gentlemen who had sat for the Holy Spirit's teachings when he during the preceding evening near to read it; and above all, to look to Jesus, Mr. K., came down stairs, and having who is the Alpha and Omega of the orasaluted the captain, took a chair beside | cles of God, and the author and finisher him. He was a young man, of most gen- of salvation to all who believe upon him. His counsel was short, but it was suffi- | would expose his soul by leaving the cient. The coach-hour had arrived, and “ true church," the disgrace he would his new acquaintance—his more than ac- bring upon his family, and the sorrow into quaintance, his brother beloved, bade him which he would plunge her, were all a hasty, and as it proved, a final farewell, urged upon him in a manner, and with a until the morning of the resurrection. force and pathos, that a mother's tears
He had scarcely left the room, when and a mother's voice alone could do. All, Mr. K. made his appearance. With feel- however, were ineffectual. He stood firm, ings almost bordering upon ecstacy, cap- not in his own strength, but in His who tain B. related to him the interesting con- has promised to perfect His strength in versation he had just had with the young our weakness. The old lady's grief was gentleman who had that moment left now extreme; but there remained yet one for T-, the residence of his father; other plan to be tried. Coercive meaand as the coach bore him rapidly on- sures were resorted to, and for some time ward, the prayers of both were offered to he was debarred from all intercourse with God on his behalf, that he who, by their his family. Whether, indeed, by this sefeeble testimony to the power of his grace, vere treatment, or originating in other had begun a good work in his heart, causes, I cannot say; but his health soon would perform it until the day of Jesus began to fail, and symptoms of pulmoChrist.
nary disease speedily manifested themHis subsequent history, at least in the selves. Though deprived of the Bible on outlines of it, is known to many in the its being first discovered, he subsequently immediate neighbourhood of his father's found means of procuring another. This residence, and is too important not to be he at first concealed in his bed; but fearknown more extensively. The Bible was ing that he might also lose this copy of soon procured, and became the constant, the word of his God, he found means to though for some time the private com- secrete it in the bottom of the easy chair panion of his retired hours. This plan on which he sat, and where it was found he was led to adopt, in order to avoid after his death, which followed a rather grieving his parents, who, especially his short illness. mother, was as zealous in her opposition That death to him was the door to life, to the Book of God as in her attachment there was afforded the most satisfactory to the superstitious ceremonies of her re- proof. Though not allowed to hold inligion. His habitual absence, however, tercourse with any of the Lord's people, from the chapel, the change in his whole he found means to communicate, by writdeportment, together with his spending ing, with a decided Christian friend, who so much of his time in his own room, felt a deep interest in his case, and thus soon began to create suspicions in the documentary evidence was given, that in mind of the old lady respecting her son's the mortal conflict he was enabled to rely religious opinions. The fears which were upon the merits of his Divine Redeemer thus excited were speedily realized, when for eternal salvation, and that the deto her great horror she found a Bible, parted is now a redeemed spirit inhabiting and that a Protestant Bible too, in his the hills of light. bedroom. With a promptitude and zeal As taught us by St. Paul, it is the duty worthy a better cause, he was immedi- of all real Christains to "shine as lights ately questioned respecting it. Under the in the world; holding forth the word of life,” influence of the Holy Spirit, his affections Phil. ii. 15, 16. That the grand means orhad been brought to embrace the truth as dained by God for the conversion of man it is in Jesus, and his feelings in reference is the preaching of the gospel, will not be to the Scripture revelation of his God were denied; but that the holy lives and heasimilar to those of David—“() how love I venly conversation of God's children is thy law !" Psa. cxix. 97. Painful, there- another and a very important means, apfore, as he felt it to be to inflict a wound pointed by the Great Head of the Church upon the minds of parents whom he dearly to bring about the same glorious event, loved, he felt bound now to bear a de- seems not sufficiently regarded. Soulscided testimony to the value of the Holy immortal souls are perishing around us : Scriptures, and to avow his determination but if in their every day intercourse with to take them as the rule of his future their fellow-men, Christians were faithlife. Entreaty and remonstrance suc- fully to act their part, and prove themceeded each other, especially on the part selves true" witnesses” for Jesus, against of his mother. The danger to which he the world and in favour of the gospel,
ANTIPATHIES AND PREDILECTIONS.
- no doubt the Lord's blessing would be my aunt remark on some such occasion, granted; and as in the morning of Christi- " I must not suffer myself to be irritated anity, when it shone forth in all its fresh- about trifles, or how can I expect to stand ness and loveliness upon our world, num- my ground when real provocations arise?" bers were added to the Lord, even so I have intimated, that when first placed would it be in our own day, and amongst under the care of my aunt, my own temour own countrymen. No place surely per stood in great need of restraint and could be more unpromising in its aspect, regulation. I hope her efforts were not for successfully casting in the seed of the altogether in vain, though I have never kingdom, than the soil presented in the yet attained that entire self-control, of public room of a hotel ; yet even there it which she set me so bright an example ; was sown, and in one heart at least it took but I often think of some of her observadeep root. Upon the faithful testimony tions. “As temperance serves to check of those devoted men, to the power of and moderate our appetites, in regard to his word and grace the Lord set his seal, what is pleasing to the flesh, so by meekand we behold a young gentleman, who, ness, we govern and guide our resentup to that evening, was tainted in his ment of what is displeasing." " When the politics, and infidel in his religion, be- affairs of life, and especially the conduct coming a real Christian, and dying happy of others, seem to require a just resentin the Lord.—R.
ment, we should consider it a dangerous moment, and watch against such an excess of feeling and expression, as would
be displeasing to God, hurtful to ourMY AUNT PRISCILLA.-No. III.
selves, and injurious to our fellow-creatures. In this imperfect, this sinful
world, we shall be sure to meet with I RESUME the subject of my aunt's things that are displeasing to us; but temper, and the principles on which she good sense, and especially Christian prinregulated it. One was, the study of ciple, should surely enable us to preserve moderation and self-denial in personal self-control and equanimity. So that indulgence. “Let us not,” she would neither the frailty of the weak, the omissay, “suffer ourselves to be humorsome sions of the negligent, the follies of the and hard to please, in our diet, clothes, imprudent, nor the levity of the fickle, and attendance. Those who indulge an should so far ruffle our spirits as to cause over-fondness for these trifles, or us to utter furious threats or angry reanxiety about them, harbour and culti- proaches; or to make us soon, or often, vate one most fruitful source of irritation or long angry." of temper. I have seen a man as much My dear aunt was of a humble spirit, distressed, when he could not obtain a and this, I think, was one important predish on which he had set his fancy, or if servative of evenness of temper. Pride it were not dressed exactly to his taste, keeps people in continual vexation, while as another would be at going without a the meek and lowly possess their souls dinner, or even enduring a much greater in patience. I think it is a remark of privation. What a disgrace to a rational Matthew Henry's, which my aunt used creature !"
often to quote, " That will break a proud There was another feature of my aunt's man's heart that would not break a character, which had a very happy influ- humble man's sleep.” Proud people ence on her temper—not exactly self- are, of all others, most apt to give ofdenial, but unselfishness. She did not fence to others; and so high is their expect or wish her tastes or conveniences opinion of themselves, that they are conto be consulted at the expense of those of tinually finding themselves offended by others. I never saw her disconcerted at those things of which a humble man table, or heard her peevishly intimate would take no notice. They do not find that the joint which was roasted to please that submission in their dependents, my uncle, would have been more agree- or respect from their equals, to which able to her, boiled. Nor was she ever their own false estimate entitles them, angry with a milliner, who told her and hence, their lives are made up of disthat her bonnet could not be sent home quietude and distraction. But oh, the acon the day it was ordered, as she had tual tranquillity and satisfaction resulting already as much work to finish as would from “ lowliness of mind,” and esteeming take up the whole time. I have heard others better than ourselves ! Phil. ii. 3.
Then, respect is received and enjoyed as knew no better; and, if he were a wicked an unlooked-for boon, and neglect and man, she said it was no wonder that one affront fall harmless at our feet. Such, I who feared not God should not regard man. am sure, was the happy experience of my That was a favourite text of hers, when the beloved aunt.
failings of other people were spoken of, Closely connected with this, was a deep “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” Matt. consciousness of her own imperfections. vii. 1; and if the thing were too palpThis led her to exercise great candour able to be denied, she would say, towards others, and also enabled her to us find another topic of conversation." receive reproof in a proper spirit, and My aunt was careful to pay proper atprofit by it. “A wise reprover” and “an tention to the health, both of herself and obedient ear” do not often meet; but, others, on account of its influence on when they do, the result is most advan- temper; and in this, I wish her example tageous. Few people could enter more were more generally followed by mothers. fully than my aunt Priscilla into the It is a great point to observe the state of psalmist's desire, “Let the righteous health, and to guard against those little
it shall be a kindness : and let derangements of it which tend to ruffle him
reprove me; it shall be an excellent the temper. Then, it is no trifle to know oil, which shall not break my head," Psa. the real cause of uncomfortable feelings cxli. 5. It is a happy spirit that is always in ourselves; and be able to say to ourready to acknowledge an error or fault, selves, "I am not quite well; I feel lanand desirous of making satisfaction to guid and excitable; I must be watchful others, rather than justifying itself; and not to yield to irritable feelings against yet how often does pride prompt us to others.” vindicate a fault, and stand it out, as if My dear aunt was in the constant habit our honour were concerned; and to con- of doing this, under no common measure sider those who would reprove and cor- of bodily suffering, which she endured for rect us, as our bitterest enemies.
years before her death. There are those If on any one occasion more than an- who, if at all indisposed, suffer themother, I think of my dear aunt with selves to become peevish and irritable veneration, as truly noble, it is when I with everything and everybody about remember her saying, in the presence of them, as if all were to blame for sufferjust as many persons as had heard her ings which, in reality, all are desirous of utter an inadvertent expression, " I was alleviating. My aunt was a remarkable very wrong; altogether and exceedingly instance of patience under suffering; but wrong; I ought to be deeply humbled I must not enter upon this particular at before God, on account of it; and I trust present, as it is a topic that will be reand beg each of you will forgive it.” I sumed in the course of
reminiscences think it was on the same occasion she of her. I will now simply mention, said, “Oh, the importance of the sacred among the habitual practices for the reprecept, to be “slow to speak,' and of gulation of her temper : accustoming ourselves always to think 1. A constant reference to the example before we speak! Even Moses sinned of Jesus. She would say,
“ Shall I be when he spoke unadvisedly with his lips.” | irritable, and yet profess to learn of Him
Although I never knew my aunt dis- who was meek and lowly in heart? posed to excuse her own faults, I often Shall I be unconcerned about giving smile to think how ingenious she was in offence, when my Divine Master wrought making excuses for others; or, at least, a miracle to avoid it? Matt. xvii. 27. devising some reason why she should not Shall I be harsh and unfeeling, and call suffer herself to be irritated by their mis- myself his disciple who was full of tenderconduct. If a child, she pleaded its youth; ness and love ?" if an aged person, she made allowance for 2. A habit of frequent self-examinahis
age and infirmities; if a poor person, tion. Of this her memoranda, written his poverty moved her compassion, and sti- for no eye but her own, afford ample fled her resentment; if rich, she allowed testimony. There was, however, a living for the temptations of wealth, which often testimony, yet more valuable; it was,
her make people forget themselves ; if he own daily growth in self-government, were a wise and good man, the general which appeared to all around her. And respect she entertained for his character, self-government necessarily supposes selfled her to overlook the offence; if he acquaintance. were a weak and foolish one, she said he 3. She cherished a spirit of content