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comfort, and if her husband be faithful in the pulpit, and from house to house, and if her own heart 12sponds to every gospel promise, and rejoices in every prospect of souls won from death to life, then indeed are her “lines cast in pleasant places ”—“ her cup runneth over”—and her constant, silent, yet gladsome expression is this,–“ Praise the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name!”
Thus full and overflowing is the cup of her happiness—it is even dangerous, like every other prosperity, in the hazard of decreasing spirituality ; be this as it may, the wife of the pastor, is happy, honoured, and blessed among women: days dawn in usefulness and prayer, and close in gratitude and peace ; the sweet incense of holy prayer floats in the atmosphere, and penetrates from the parsonage to the remote and most lowly of the habitations of the Alock; in one blessed volume of adoration the hearts of all are made one; and what heart so happy, knowing its own gladness, as is the heart of a pastor's wife?
But suppose that the process of years had silently -fleetly rolled on--and that the desk and the pulpit must know its transient possessor no more ; suppose, “ full of years and honours ;” the aged man of God, like a “ripe shock of corn," is to be gathered to his predecessors—and that she—the loved and faithful friend of his bosom-witness and softener of his trials—is to survive; or let us suppose a case not unfrequent—that in the midst of life's vigor and most energetic usefulness, the pastor is summoned to give an account of his stewardship-and the woman, still young, and expecting aught else than this, is suddenly bereaved ; long-long does it appear but a dream, and tears seem unnecessary, the apparatus of
death and the funeral array are but as a dream only ; slowly and wearily the vision is invested with substantiality—and bitter truth demonstrates that it is simple, awful ‘matter of fact,'—the voice silent—the flock deserted—the house masterless—the kind and the true and the faithful departed—her joys clouded -her hope withered-her babes orphans—and she -a widow.
A few brief weeks and the glebe-house must be resigned—the sunny lawn where the children sported -the garden, with its endless pleasures—and the flowers which the children had planted, and on which the departed had smiled-each thing familiar is to be forsaken, and the world is all before herchildren partake of her bitterness; and in their fond memories, in after years, revert to the possession which for a season was theirs.
It is sweet to think that a voice from heaven has proclaimed—“Leave thy fatherless children to meI will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me,” and they that trust in Him he never disappointed. Still another home must be chosen, and other means of existence found; and many a clergyman's widow has no home-no means.
The widow of a pastor who has lived generously and affectionately towards the temporal and spiritual wants of men, is, indeed, a desolate object-soon does the tide of sympathy ebb, and what remains is dried up in the revolving years that pass on, until the once loved, honoured, widely known, and greatly happy as the pastor's wife, becomes forgotten; other preachers have arisen more gifted—more adapted to rising exigences; new plans have obliterated the old, new generations arise ; by little and little the old stock drops off, and after many years the
widow gazes on her husband's church, and wonders how strange all things have become!
The families of preachers are often the worst attended to, and while their flocks “ have bread to spare,” their own little ones may be hungry. They are often engaged in plans so gigantic, in studies so profound, in labours so multifarious, and they are too apt to forget 'what the end may be,' the sickness and the sorrow, the mourning congregation, the platform trodden by other feet, the meeting hushed before other voices, the hearts occupied by other messengers of truth; and the shroud and coffin, the portion of their earthly tabernacle, while wife and little ones, to use the language of the beautiful chaunt of Wolff, ‘sit alone and weep.'
LINES TO A WIFE.
IN SICKNESS. I SAID, I would love thee in want or in wealth, Through cloud and through sunshine, in sickness, in health : And fear not, my love, when thy spirits are weak,The troth I have plighted I never may break. Aye, sickness :- I know it, long day upon day, But the sun must come through, and the clouds melt away; Melt away every vapour, and leave upon high, Not a spot, not a speck, on the midsummer sky. Aye, sickness :—but sickness, it touches the heart With a feeling, where how many feelings have part ! There's a magic in soothing the wearisome hour; Pity rears up the stem, and Hope looks for the flower. The rose smells as sweetly in sunshine and air, But the green-house has all our affection and care ; The lark sings as nobly, while soaring above, But the bird that we nurse is the bird that we love.
I have lov'd thee in sickness, 1'll love thee in health ;
DOMESTIC SKETCHES, No. 3.
A. DYING BROTHER'S COUNSEL TO HIS SISTERS.
“Now send for H- , I want to speak to her while my strength lasts." His conversations with her were very searching, but very affectionate. He loved this sister very dearly. She was naturally volatile and buoyant in her spirits, and this disposition sometimes betrayed her into levity. The liveliness of her conversation had often pleased him, but he now thought he had encouraged her in some things inconsistent with real piety. He was earnest beyond his strength in conversing with her. He put very plain and close questions :-saying, “I must be answered ;-I must speak plainly ;-I am afraid, my beloved sister, you do not think enough about religion. I do not see decided proofs of real conversion in you. I have not a sure hope that if you die as you now are, I shall meet you in Heaven. Oh! H- , it is my last request— with my dying breath I am entreating you to seek the salvation of your soul. Suppose you were in my place—in this chair instead of me
-waiting for death day by day—could you meet it as. I do? Oh! do, my dear sister! do think of death while you are in health. If I had not sought Christ before I was brought so low, I should have no strength or sense to seek him now. I went to Jesus as a poor weak sinner, and found sweet rest, and I am happy now amidst all this suffering. He spoke in an affectionate manner of the subject nearest her heart.” Your merry peal will soon succeed my death knell. Take care that the good seed is not choaked by the pleasures of life !-Seek first the kingdom of God. Remember, Hyou have to die. Oh! I cannot leave you in peace, unless I have a good hope that I shall meet you in heaven. H- , there is nothing so opposed to religion—to the mind of Christmas levity and trifling. It will keep you back more than anything. Take my solemn warning-I speak from my own experience—you will never be a consistent Christian, and you will never grow in grace if you indulge in habitual trifling conversation. It is not like the mind of Christ; your temper is very playful and volatile, and Satan may use it as a snare to injure your soul. Piety and levity cannot long dwell in the same heart. One will destroy the other. * * * * You see, dear H- , I am very plain and sincere. I used to be so shy. But I do not feel afraid of speaking my mind now. How little does one care about the world and its opinions when death is near ;-death takes away all reserve. I care not if the whole world were assembled around me~I would tell them what I now think of religion,-I should like to see many here that I might tell them what the Lord hath done for my soul.”
To another sister he spoke on the study of the Bible. “Here,” he said, “I speak in a peculiar manner from recent experience,--for the last three months—the Bible has been my sole instructor.It has gradually led me on to clear light and real experience, till every promise is my own. I have read the greater part of it through, several times