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Iris younger days, been a profligate and a drunkard, a bad husband, and a careless father. When his wife was lying on her death-bed, he was overcome with drink. He seems to have lived at that time "having no hope, and without God in the world," a type, alas! of many, whose hearts have not been touched by the Holy Spirit, who cannot understand that God indeed loves them and that Christ has died for them, or who, knowing this, will not hear, believe, and live.
About eleven years ago he went into the parish church, where he listened to a sermon which arrested his attention, and which he never forgot. From that time he was a different man. He did not immediately forsake his evil courses and give up his besetting sin; but a struggle had commenced, the arrow of conviction had entered his heart, and he was eventually brought in humble penitence to the foot of the Saviour's cross, and to feel that all his heavy load of sin had been taken away by his gracious and forgiving Lord. He thenceforward lived as a consistent Christian.
I visited him for a few months before his departure. He seemed to be always rejoicing in the Lord, to have few wants and no anxieties, and to feel that all his former sins had been completely blotted out by the death of Jesus, no more to come into remembrance. His eye always lighted up at his Kedeemer's name. He loved to hear the word of God read, and responded most heartily to every ascription of praise "unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God."*
Being very asthmatical, he had some difficulty in articulating; but, when accustomed to his voice, I often heard him dwell with pleasure on what God had done for his soul: "Glory, glory, glory," was the phrase most frequently on his lips. He constantly remarked how good, how kind it was of God to give his only Son to die for him, and to offer him eternal life. The words, "eternal life," seemed to fill him with amazement, and he often repeated them, while able to move about his cottage, and murmured them when lying on his dying bed.
His humble cottage was situated in a dingy part of the town; but it was cheerful in the summer, as the back window looked out on a cherry orchard. It was dark and * Erv. i. 5, 6.
low; and, latterly, as the poor old man was unable to move about much, it was neither clean nor sweet. But dark, low, untidy, as the cottage was, it was pleasant to enter there; for peace, quietness, and contentment had become its inmates, and the sunshine of godliness lighted up the gloom.
William Bradshaw had formerly been a street-crossing sweeper. He was in great poverty, but he had scarcely a want; and I had the greatest difficulty in once ascertaining that he was in need of coals. God's grace had made him honest. At one time he was in great need, and applied to a gentleman for a small loan, which he promised to repay; and, on his request being granted, he repaid the debt by regular instalments.
I paid him a visit directly I heard of his being taken seriously ill. He was very feeble and scarcely able to speak, but his countenance brightened immediately, and he seemed cheered at hearing me talk of his Bedeemer's love. His pleased expression showed how much he was refreshed by the word of God and prayer.
The following day he was evidently sinking fast. Sometimes he repeated his favourite words, "Eternal life, eternal life," or murmured the Saviour's name. In answer to the question, "Do you feel at peace with God?" he said, "Praised be God, I long ago felt that." He evidently liked to hear the words of Scripture, for they comforted him amidst the bodily pain which he was apparently suffering.
The next day he was stronger and better—the last flicker of the candle before it was extinguished. He was filled with pleasure at hearing the gracious words of the Lord Jesus, and was able to express better than on the previous day the calm he felt within. Gratified by my reading to him and praying with him, he said, "I wish you could be with me day and night."
I asked him once, solemnly, whether he felt sincerely sorry for his past sins; and he answered in the affirmative, adding, that the Lord had completely removed them. I then asked him whether he felt any fear of death ?" No," he said, "I do not. Jesus has taken it all away." As he afterwards told the woman who was attending on him, he did not wish, if it were God's will to send for him, to remain on earth.
In the evening we received the sacrament of the Lord's supper together, which the clergyman of the district, who had known him for some years, administered. It was one of the most touching and solemn seasons of communion we ever experienced. A solitary candle feebly lighted the room. All was still and quiet, as we partook of the memorials of our Saviour's dying love in the chamber where death was soon to enter, but, thank God, a beaten and a baffled foe. He repeated the responses with some difficulty, but. with great fervour, although his hard breathing prevented him from doing so much above a whisper^ He said he had enjoyed the communion feast, and I left him peaceful and happy in Christ.
The next day ho died. The last intelligible word he uttered was the name of Jesus; and the last words he seemed to understand were those of prayer as I knelt and commended his soul to God. Early in the morning he had asked his attendant to read over the cheering verses in the "Silent Comforter," which had been hung up at the foot of his bed, and which, as long as he was able to distinguish, afforded him much spiritual consolation.
Thus died one more poor sinner redeemed by the blood of Christ—an unlovely man made lovely by the grace of God. "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke xix. 10.)
THE YOUNG SAILOR.
A Young sailor in the dress of a midshipman in the navy, some years ago, entered a shop in one of our seaport towns, at which his ship was stationed. The owner was standing behind the counter when her customer entered, who going towards her in a merry and sailor-like way, said, "I say, missus, have you got any songs to sell?"
"No, sir, I have not," was her answer.
"Humph! have you got any music paper then?"
She produced the paper he asked for, and, whilst he was looking at it, she remembered that she had some copies of "Divine Songs," by Dr. Watts, which she thought she would offer to him, though knowing that they were quite different to what he had asked for; so, showing him a copy, she said, "Here are some songs, sir, if you would like them."
He took the book from her hand, and read the title aloud, "Divine and Moral Songs, by I. Watts, D.d. What does Divine mean—religious?"
"Yes, sir." was the quiet answer.
"Then I don't want them," said he, flinging down the book. After a moment's pause, he added, "But you may put me up some of this music paper."
"Sir," said the good woman, "if you will allow me to do so, I shall have much pleasure in putting up this book with your music paper."
"Well! you're a pretty woman to keep a shop: how can you ever expect to make your fortune, if you give away your things like that ?—but there, you may put them up if you like." So the "Songs" were folded up with the music paper; and the young sailor, with a few merry, kindhearted words, went away.
As soon as he had left her shop, its owner fastened her door, and went up stairs to pray that God's blessing would rest upon the little book she had placed in that young sailor's hand.
Years flew on—six years, seven—still was the good woman found behind her counter, not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. Ten years—twelve years passed away, when one day there entered her little shop a lieutenant in her Majesty's navy, who, going up to the counter, inquired if she had any of the " Divine Songs" by Dr. Watts.
On being told that she had, he said, "I will buy all that you have in the shop." Much surprised, she however began to do as desired; and, whilst she was tying them up, the lieutenant said, "You do not remember me, I think, do you?"
"No, sir, I do not remember ever to have seen you before."
"Do you remember that, twelve years ago, a midshipman came into your shop, and bought some music paper, and that you gave him with it a copy of the 'Divine Songs?'" _
"Yes, sir, now that you mention it, I do indeed remember it very well;" and she also thought, but did not say, how she had afterwards earnestly prayed for him to whom she had given it.
"Well," continued he, "I am that young midshipman, and that little book has been, through the blessing of God, the means of saving my soul; and now I will tell you how it was. Some little time after I was here, we went to sea; but before long we were in a fearful storm, such * storm as I have never been in, either before or since: we were in great danger; and even the oldest man among us thought every moment that the ship would go down, in which case every man on board must have perished. I was in great alarm. Death was staring me in the face, and I knew not what to do. At this moment I remembered the little book yon had given to me, and which I had put away in my locker. So I went to fetch it; for I had an idea, that should I die with it in my hand, I should be safer than without it. On looking at it, my eye fell on the hymn, beginning with the words,—
'There is, beyond the sky,
"The words seemed strange, and different to what I had heard for some time, and 1 read the next verse,—
'There is a dreadful hell,
"' 0 my God!' I exclaimed, quite forgetting in that hour of danger, and in the deep, bitter agony of my soul, that a fellow-officer was standing by me, '0 my God! I shall then go to hell.'
"But the storm passed away, and we lived. Things went on again in the ship just as they had done before; but I could not forget that fearful night, or the solemn thoughts that it had brought to me; and often did I find an opportunity for looking at my little book, and there I read of an Almighty God, in whose sight our most secret actions lie open, and every sin that we commit; and then I trembled, for I remembered that fearful night, and what my feelings then were, as one after another of my thoughtless or sinful words and deeds came back to my memory. But then, a few verses on, I came to the words—
'And let his blood wash out my stains,
At another time I should have laughed at any of my shipmates, who should think so much of a book written for