Imágenes de páginas

She ex

I proceeded with the next phrase, "For thou art with me." claimed, "Yes, he is with me; that is the reason I fear no evil. His rod and his staff, they comfort me. He will go with me. He will not forsake me." I read the whole Psalm, with select and appropriate verses out of other Psalms, and she responded to each and all with the greatest earnestness. She then said, "That will do, love; I am quite exhausted." She continued to be visited with occasional paroxysms of pain, when she called out for me. She frequently said, "Come, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." In an hour or so after, she called me to her bedside and said, "I want you to pray a little with me." These were solemn moments. I felt myself as if on the confines of another world. We all knelt down by the bedside of my dying wife, and I offered, I believe, a fervent prayer to that Being who holds in his hand a universe; to every part of which she most fervently responded. Whilst I was saying, "Not our will, Lord, but thy will be done," she exclaimed, "No, no; not our will, his will be done. Thy will be done, Lord." She rapidly grew worse, and between the hours of two and three o'clock she became, we thought, occasionally delirious. She frequently looked earnestly in one direction and said, "I want to go to Jesus. He is there waiting for me. Don't you see him? Don't you see him? Come, I must go, I must go; he is waiting for me," and she several times endeavoured to raise herself up in bed in order to go, as she said, "to meet him." She seemed, by the motions of her lips, to be engaged constantly in prayer and heavenly musings, though she had not strength to articulate a sound. On inquiring what she said, she faintly replied, "I am talking with my Jesus." She continued in this state until a little after four o'clock, when without a sigh, or groan, or struggle, she sweetly fell asleep in Jesus on Wednesday, the 12th day of December, 1849. Her body, on the following Saturday, was interred in the burial ground of the parish Church of Cheadle, by the side of her father-in-law, the late Mr. W. Bullock, by whom she was much esteemed, and towards whom she cherished the highest feelings of respect. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."

(To be concluded in the next.)

THE ZEALOUS MAID.-In a family in the north of Ireland a pious young woman was engaged as a servant. The poor girl was much ridiculed for her religion by the young ladies, but did not render evil for evil; but on the contrary, she would allow them to laugh at her, and then mildly reason with them. She made it her study to be useful to them, took opportunities to speak to them about religion, and would offer to read the sacred Scriptures to them when they went to bed. They commonly fell asleep, and that in a little time, under the sound; but she was not discouraged. Having exemplified Christianity in her life, Providence sent a fever to remove her to a better state. The young ladies were not permitted to see her during her illness, but they heard of her behaviour, which did not lessen the impression her previous conduct had made upon them. Soon after the two elder ladies began to make a profession of real religion, the little leaven spread, and now all the young ladies appear truly pious. Other means were employed by God in producing this great change; but one of the two who first became serious informed me, that she chiefly ascribed it to the life and death of the servant-maid.—J. G. Pike.




To a greater or less extent all men have to do with the secularities of life. The relations and circumstances of our earthly condition render it unavoidable. This necessity is recognized in every provision of God's moral administration. He never requires at our hands what the economy of our every-day life makes impossible to perform. When he says, "Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth," he is not to be understood as requiring an entire abstraction from whatever is temporal. Some persons have indeed so inferred, and, acting upon the unwarranted assumption, have literally secluded themselves from active life, and upon the altar of superstition sacrificed their social obligations and public usefulness. The Bible justifies no such strange alternative, no such ethereal and selfish piety. Its Divine rebukes are directed against that sort and degree of earthliness which lifts the world into the ascendancy, and induces a growing indifference to whatever is sacred and eternal. Unscriptural worldliness has many aspects, modifications, and objects. In some cases it exists as a confirmed and universal habit. It has no varying or redeeming quality. It is pure, unmixed worldliness. It penetrates the soul, holds undisputed mastery over the whole man, and drags in ignoble captivity at its chariot-wheels the understanding, the conscience, and the heart. In other cases it is seen in the very lowest possible forms of existence. In all these degraded victims say or do, you see and smell the clod. They revel in the vulgarities of life, they glory in the companionship of the swine. All they ever had of the spiritual lies buried beneath the thickest incrustations of earth. Not a ray of light relieves the gloom; not a noble thought; not a spiritual upward aspiration indicates either past or present affinity with spiritual existence. They are emphatically of the "earth, earthy."

But other forms there are of habitual worldliness, less gross and repulsive in their aspect, but little less promotive of alienation from God. To incur the charge of earthliness, it is not necessary to be the morbid miser pining in lonely wretchedness amidst heaps of yellow dust, nor the graceless libertine rioting in the excesses of abandoned sensualism. It is not necessary to lose the last visible trace of our God-given nature, and to suffer the wreck of every noble attribute and virtue. It is enough if, in our purposes and pursuits, we habitually subordinate the spiritual, reserving the higher place and the deeper solicitude for the secular and transitory. No matter what the plausibilities by which we justify, or attempt to justify the preference; to us belongs the charge, and on us rest the consequences, of inordinately minding earthly things. Such in the main is the worldliness of our times. The duties of the spiritual are merged in the pursuits of the material. Men appear to cling to the concerns of time as fondly as they cling to life. Honour, profit, and pleasure, "the great trinity of the world," have their multitudes of willing worshippers, and eager homage do those multitudes present before their own selected shrine. Turn where we will, we behold the predominance of the things that are scen. Every gradation

of society presents an overwhelming proportion of men whose only God is the world, whose loftiest aspirations rise no higher than its ephemeral baubles and its empty vanities. See our large towns and cities; see our halls of commerce, our marts of business; see the all-impelling spirit of competition, the potency of mammon, the burning thirst for gain. See our merchants and our tradesmen; how one single object absorbs their solicitudes and enchains their heart, that object being the more rapidly to accumulate and the more securely to retain the treasures of the world. Look also at our fellow-men in the less public walks of life, and in relation to what a great majority of their order may it be truthfully alleged they "mind earthly things!" Their cares, affections, energies, and hopes appear to have no higher objects than sense, no larger limits than time. To the sordid indulgences of earth they are sacrificing their higher nature, their immortal destinies. O the influence of this world! how thoroughly has it charmed with its blandishments, how largely has it impregnated with its spirit every class of men! It is the magnet attracting myriads of obedient devotees, the mighty motivepower creating stern resolve, enkindling and sustaining burning enthusiasm where all other motives fail to operate. It is the only atmosphere in which the mass of men can find a free and healthy respiration; take them from it, and they grow oppressed and surfeited. Fearfully widespread is this tendency to the secular and earthly, fearfully deep-seated and dominant. No books are read with keener zest than the ledger, the share-list, the newspaper, and the novel. No conversation is so edifying as a warm debate upon the modes and means of self-aggrandizement. No history is so popular as that which abounds with the records of bold, successful speculation. He is the envied and applauded man who excels in the art of striking profitable bargains; and that of all philosophy is the soundest which qualifies its disciples the most expeditiously to rear the temple of fortune or to scale the pinnacle of fame.

The preceding observations have assumed the leading and most general form of the secularity of our times to be, a feverish thirst for gain, or, in the full and forcible words of the Scriptures, a "making haste to be rich." Nor is it a mere assumption. Let the history of the past few years be reviewed and pondered, and such, it will be seen, has assuredly been the direction of the popular feeling and aim.

The events of the period in question are fresh upon the memory. It cannot easily be forgotten how, impelled by a delirious ambition to make their fortunes in a day, and in raptures with the splendid chances of doing so, which were ever and anon flitting across their feverish imagination, men embarked by thousands upon the sea of wild speculation. The public mind appeared almost to burst with the big ideas that expanded it of the glory and the power of wealth, and with the new modes and channels which science had developed for its vaster and more rapid accumulation. As though sick of the old and ordinary methods of adding to their earthly substance, they committed themselves to all the casualties and consequences of bolder schemes of money-making. The temples of Mammon were hourly besieged and crowded. The Stock Exchange was the great focus of interest, the place of almost universal resort. "Which is the best stock?" "Which line holds out the best chances of a good hit?" were among the current phrases and questions, asked with breathless carnestness and elevated

hope; and they were the wisest of men, and those the most popular of public journals, that could successfully respond to the pressing interrogations. The strange mania was peculiar to no one single class of the community. It seized upon men of every rank in the social scale. Men of capital, and men of no capital at all; artizans as well as tradesmen, commercial clerks as well as merchant princes, were alike found in the same eagerly-contested race, the same enchanted path of restless rivalry; all intoxicated with the brilliant illusions and images that played before their vision. To seize the glittering prize, many abandoned without reservation respectable and even lucrative commercial situations, whilst others seriously impoverished their legitimate business by the appropriation of the capital that belonged to it, to what were conceived to be more inviting and profitable channels for its employment. The very nation itself, indeed, appeared to be smitten to the heart with the splendours of the phantasm. The great bubble at length burst with a terrible explosion, leaving commerce crippled, and thousands of its victims stupified and undone. The delirium of covetous ambition has been partially cooled down, and men have had some little time to ponder, if indeed they are prepared to ponder, the madness of their mercenary career. But, though we have hardly yet recovered from the stupefaction, who will say that, should another "bubble" rise, it will not as easily attract popular pursuit; that, should another golden idol be set up, there are not thousands ready to fall down in obsequious homage at its shrine? Proof enough is there that, should human science or the changes of time call into existence another colossal scheme favourable to the gratification of their mercenary tendency and aims, a mass of willing and eager actors would simultaneously rush into the scene. The past would quickly perish from the memory, or only nerve to the pursuit of better fortune and more glorious successes. Despite blasted projects and withered hopes, speculation would be rife again-the tide of fierce competition would again sweep over the country, until another panic-crisis should consummate the struggle, leaving a few, indeed, flushed with the trophies of victory, but the multitude floundering in the vortex of mortified ambition and ruined hopes.

Is it necessary to say how obstructive must be this strong, deep current of earthliness to the progress of every holy tendency and aspiration ?-how this entire pre-occupancy of the heart, by what is secular and temporary, shuts out all sympathy with what is not secular, but reli- . gious-not temporary, but eternal? How few of our merchants and tradesmen we shall find who carry on commerce with the skies! and of our working men, how few are labouring for the glories of "the rest which remaineth for the people of God!" Questions of grand and solemn import, each pressed upon the mind by a thousand eloquent utterances from earth and heaven, are strangely superseded by questions which bear only on the interests of a mere transient and uncertain condition. The unfaltering purpose and inquiry is not "What shall I do to be saved?" but, "What shall I eat and drink, and wherewithal shall I be clothed?" The things that are invisible and future are clouded in the deep shadows of forgetfulness, giving no character to the motives-no direction to the conduct of the heart. Worldliness! oh, it blocks up every avenue to the soul, stunts all elevated thought, blinds the judg

ment to the beauty and grandeur of spiritual objects, gives an everaugmenting power to the inherent selfishness of our nature, freezes up the entire current of gracious sensibility, and, by successive degrees, widens the gulph of spiritual alienation that stretches between God and the soul.

No marvel that, under the influence of this idolatrous love of earth, the masses of the people are living in habitual neglect of every divinely instituted ordinance, that, in thoughtless neglect or in daring defiance of the commands of heaven, they never darken the door of God's sanctuary, and upon the morning of every seventh day, virtually declare there shall be no Sabbath." Not as "the Pearl of Days," is the Lord's day regarded, but as an unmeaning, unprofitable interruption of the commercial current; compliance with the institution being yielded, not in reverential respect for the authority on which it rests, but in servile homage to a prescriptive and an arbitrary custom; whilst of the services of the sanctuary, little other impression is felt than that they are a round of dull, oppressive, and monotonous decencies, insipid as the east wind, and gloomy as the grave. Here, in this prevalent and cherished earthliness of the age, is the key to the relatively limited diffusion and influences of saving truth. Others there may be, and are, but here without controversy is the grand, the master obstructive. High above the rest it towers in overwhelming magnitude. The ministers of religion can never think upon it but with almost burning tears, with almost bleeding hearts. In all their onslaughts upon the citadel of unrighteousness, they encounter no grander device, they open the battery of truth upon no firmer stronghold of the great adversary. It resists their profoundest reasonings, blunts their most pointed appeals, crushes their fondest hopes. They can find a way to the hearts of other men by the simple story of the cross; but through what accumulated heaps of the weeds of worldliness must they penetrate, ere they touch the sympathies and impress the heart of the covetous and carnal! An element or quality of an unsusceptibleness encases that heart, so that truths which have moved to penitence the rudest embodiments of humanity, fall there like a feather on the unimpressible adamant. Men become inaccessible to the truth as it is in Jesus, more by the stolid indifference which covetousness generates than by cherished and open infidelity, more by the practical atheism which shuts God out of the heart than by the speculative atheism which impiously essays to shut him out of the universe. That infidel may be reasoned out of the false conclusions to which a perverted intellect has led him, and that libertine may be impressed with the love of virtue, and religion, and God; but pray, what arguments, what motives, what appeals shall move to penitence, shall awaken to spiritual emotion and effort that cold, eager, grasping, mercenary devotee of earth? The world is the last vanquished citadel of the great usurper, the worldling is the last rebel penitently and loyally returning to his allegiance. "How hardly shall they that have riches enter the kingdom of heaven!" How hardly shall they also who, though they may not be rich, are making it their all-absorbing study to become so!

An exclusive devotion, such as that in question, to the interests of the present state, involves the existence of every element of deep infatuation. Determined by whatever standard, or in the light of

« AnteriorContinuar »