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A child reposes underneath this sod—
Whilst I was pondering over the date, 1799, a little lad came up to me, and in a very respectful manner said, Would you like, ma'am, to see the graves where 'Little Jane' studied the verses?" "By all means," I replied, and I again followed my young guide. There indeed were the two graves, named by Legh Eichmond; and it was evident that they were regarded with continued interest, for one had just been restored, to save the lines from being obliterated altogether. The verses on the tomb-stones from which " Little Jane " took the lesson :—
•' It must be so: our father Adam's full
"Hail, glorious gospel, heavenly light, whereby
And on the adjoining one two verses of the well-known hymn:—
"Forgive, bless'd shade," etc.
It is seldom that reality does not dispel the pictures drawn by the imagination; but that village—that churchyard—was all, and more than all, the fond pastor has described. As I stood by that grave, and gazed around at the beautiful view, all was so still, so calm, so full of repose, that the thought arose, "Well might the child brought up amidst such scenes be easily led to think of heavenly things, for the whole aspect of the country around seems to shut out that coarser life that so often surrounds the poor,"
But as if to shame me for such a foolish thought, thus to connect the work of grace in the heart with that mere outward beauty which the senses can recognise, another scene came before me, in which the outward loveliness of that poetic spot was lost before the beauty which the Spirit of God had himself created, and suffered me to gaze upon.
I stood for the first time in a dreary upper room in one of the narrow streets of a southern seaport town. 1 had been led there in consequence of one of my Sunday-school children telling me, that her absence and irregular attendance was caused by the illness of her sister, who took care of the family. I therefore went in search, and found a case that at once greatly interested me.
It appeared that the father worked in the dockyard, and obtained good wages; but had broken the heart of his poor wife with his intemperance. She had a large family, and the incessant fatigue, and want of nourishing food, brought on consumption.
There was one grown-up daughter, Louisa, whose uniform good conduct had been her mother's solitary comfort; for the poor girl not only aided her with the tenderest sympathy, but, being in a good situation, she saved money enough to obtain little comforts for her now enfeebled parent. At last the disease became so advanced, that active work was impossible. Louisa would not entrust the nursing of her mother to any chance hireling; and, leaving her excellent place, where she had been in service, she came to share not a home, but the miseries of her family, and the drunken cruelties inflicted by her father. Louisa was not only her mother's ever-tender nurse, but she became, young as she was, the care-taker of her little brothers and sisters; and if any one could restrain the wretched man, it was herself.
The weeks flew by, the disease did its work, and the broken-hearted wife was laid in her grave. Poor Louisa! her work seemed light whilst yet her mother's smile cheered and thanked her; but when that was gone, oh how she longed to return to the family, which the kindness of her mistress had indeed made her home. But, no, what then would become of the children? what of him, who was still her father? So she stayed with them, and kept things together as well as she could.
But youth is youth, and the strain upon her had been too great; and no sooner had I paid her that first visit, but it was clear, that the daughter would soon follow the mother. From the first I had no hope, though she could then walk two miles; it was after such an effort, that my opening visit found her. She was panting and fatigued, yet could not rest. The poor meal had to be prepared, that she might send the children to school, for she would stint herself in anything for them.
I lost no time, in my subsequent visits, in gently leading tc the one great source of comfort. Was she prepared for the world to which she was so rapidly hastening? Was her heart given as supremely to her Father in heaven, as it hai been to her mother on earth? Alas! I found no response. Grateful and gentle for all I did for her, she observed an impenetrable reserve as to her hope for the future. It was long but too evident that her exemplary conduct was the only ground of hope she had, and she disliked my introducing the subject. My plan was to read to her, and try to speak of our Lord's work of love, as the ground of all comfort.
It was long before the reserve broke down; but when it j did, it was but to reveal a conflict within which was so \ severe, that even her increasing bodily sufferings were almost forgotten. The law of God, in all its spirituality, was lighted up to her; she felt what a different thing it is to live and to die; and now, what were her duties to her as a ground of hope? Nothing, worse than nothing. Sin seemed to abound; she could only tremble where once she had felt secure. Day after day I would go to her, and week after week; and as her frail form became more and more wan, her eye was lighted with an expression of the deepest anxiety and intelligence.
At length the conflict was so very severe, that human sympathy could not avail to meet it, and I could only fall back on the written promises of God. Often when I pleaded with her their infinite power, the length and depth and breadth of Christ's love, the ransom far exceeding the debt that any poor sinner could owe, she would look at me with intense distress in her grave, yet lovely face, and say, " For all but me; my sins are too great; and oh! I cannot love him, I feel so dead, so cold."
Again and again I left her in such sorrow that it was hard to go; and though I never felt a doubt that the great work was accomplished, and that she had looked to Jesus, yet it was a cause of extreme anxiety that she should know that she was safe, and be freed from the terrors of the broken law.
In the meantime she had become so very ill, that she was quite confined to her bed, and suffered severely from cough and spasms in the chest. It was thus I had left her, and when I returned the following afternoon, I stayed down stairs, to inquire of a kind lodger in the same house, who then looked after her, how she was. "Why, ma'am, I thought she would have died, I never see'd her so bad before; it was just dreadful to see the poor child suffer, and she so patient too."
I went upstairs, and gently entering the room, drew aside the poor curtain, and said something about her having had such a bad night. But now she raised her eyes; no longer full of sorrow, but beaming with joy, and almost gasped out, "Oh, ma'am, such a night—such a night!" I saw the change in her countenance, but still thought the words referred to her suffering, and replied with words of sympathy, when she interrupted me, saying, "Oh, ma'am, I do not mind my body; such joy, such blessedness, fills my heart, that I cannot think of anything else. Last night I lay so sorrowful to feel I was dying, and had all my sins upon me; and then, ma'am, it came to me, as if Jesus spoke it to me, 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;' and then I thought, Was not that just what I needed? and I felt as if I gave him all my sins to carry, and he took them away from me, and gave me such a love in my heart for him, that I can't he afraid any more; I can only lie and feel that I know that Jesus has saved me, and soon I shall be with him."
From that time, I went to listen and to learn; and it was indeed an exhibition of the re-creating power of God, as palpable as could have been the exhibition of miraculous power in healing the sick and raising the dead. Now it was that she unveiled to me the state of her mind throughout the early part of her illness, and how the Spirit of God convinced her of sin, and thus prepared her to feel heri own deep need of a Saviour.
The hour drew nigh when I felt that her Lord was about to take her, and yet there was a sudden lighting up, which she mistook for possible recovery, and she began to speak of how she hoped to devote herself to God; but the flickering was only transient; and as I stood beside her now dying bed, I said, "Louisa, do you wish to return to life?"
"Kehirn to this poor world, instead of going to be with my Saviour' Oh, ma'am!"
She needed not to add any more. She turned her eyes upon me, now lighted up with no earthly beauty. I never saw that look before or since, it was an embodiment of "joy unspeakable and full of glory.''
Once again I stood beside her. I read the end of the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Eomans, and then the feeble voice was heard, speaking such words of love and praise as made the best comment on those matchless verses.
She assembled her family around her, but I did not witness her last effort. Even her father was around, and promised amendment. He stood beside her and supported her head. She rested it on his breast, and murmured forth, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," and was with her Lord.
These two cases of "Little Jane" and Louisa, so contrasted in their circumstances, passed strongly on my mind. I blessed God for " Little Jane," who learned to love Jesus in her own lovely home; and I blessed him that his love sought out the young Louisa, amidst all her dark and dreary trials, in the room of a drunken father in a dissolute seaport town.
THE ONLY SAVIOCE.
Mv Saviour is my only life,
My treasure is his cross;
Is emptiness and loss.
Here treasure lies; whoever hath,
And yet professes still to be
He stays himself upon the Bock
Of his Bedeemer's breast,
Can ne'er disturb his rest.
Come, sinners, then, in numerous throng3.
To Jesus, wretched as ye are,
Nor qualify nor first compose
Yourselves into a frame,
You would be just the same.
Come, then, a sinner as thou nrt,
A miserable one.
Thy comfort here alone.