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Asleep in Jesus ! far from thee
The old man, his father, so unexpectedly bereaved of a loving and beloved son, was greatly touched. In writing to James Nisbet, he says: 'I consider it as a high display of the kindness of Providence that my son was directed to lodge in the same house with you, and I desire to bless the Lord who excited you to show all the affection and attention of a dear brother to him. Believe it, you will not lose your reward. May the Lord render to you a hundredfold in this world, and in the world to come give you eternal life. And about twenty years after, when the venerable man and his partner in life had entered into their everlasting rest, their son, the Rev. John Russel of Muthil, writes in the same grateful and affectionate strain : 'I feel it to be my duty to inform you that my dear parents retained to the last the most affectionate remembrance of you, and of your kind offices to my departed brother. They often spoke of you with the warmest love, and with the liveliest emotions of gratitude, and often adored that kind Providence which introduced my dear brother to your acquaintance.'
I cannot turn from the closing scene of Alexander Russel without taking leave to say : Let no minister
of the gospel ever suffer a young man to leave the bounds of his congregation, with the view of going to such a place as London, without taking special care not only to furnish him with a formal certificate of character, but to send along with him a note of introduction, commending him to the kind attention of some Christian minister. Lists of suitable lodgings are, I believe, kept by the ministers of the Presbyterian churches ; and in the associations connected with their congregations, there are men of Christian character ready to exercise every kind office to any young man on his first coming to the great metropolis ; and, by assisting him to obtain comfortable lodgings, by taking him along with them to their prayer-meetings, by encouraging his regular attendance in the sanctuary, and by giving him something to do in the work of the Sabbath schools, he is likely not only to be guarded from the vanities and the vices by which otherwise he might be led astray, but to be so habituated to the service of Christ in the days of his youth, as to lead to active and extensive usefulness during the whole course of his future life. Or should it so happen, under the providential arrangements of God, that his earthly career should be brought to an early close, he is sure, like Alexander Russel, to enjoy the assiduities of Christian friends, and perhaps to leave evidence behind him, which, whilst fitted to assuage the grief of sorrowing relatives, may leave no room to doubt, that in leaving them he has only gone to be with Jesus, which is far better.
"Why come not spirits from the realms of glory
To visit earth, as in the days of old-
Is heaven more distant, or has earth grown cold?
Yet earth has angels, though their forms are moulded
But of such clay as fashions all below;
We know them by the love-light on their brow.
I have seen angels by the sick one's pillow
Theirs was the soft tone, and the soundless tread ; Where smitten hearts were drooping like the willow,
They stood “between the living and the dead.”
Oh, many a spirit walks the world unheeded,
That when its veil of sadness is laid down, Shall soar aloft with pinions unimpeded,
And wear its glory like a starry crown.'
• Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth.'—
PROV. XI. 31.
HE kindness shown by James Nisbet to
his dear friend, Alexander Russel, generous and disinterested though it was at
the time, was eventually, and in many respects, advantageous to himself. It led to a regular correspondence with his brother John, while prosecuting his studies for the ministry at the University of Glasgow, and even after his appointment to the parish of Muthil, in Perthshire. The correspondence throughout had reference almost exclusively to matters of religious experience, and there is every reason to believe that the counsels of that godly man were of signal service in clearing away doubts and discouragements with which he was occasionally perplexed, and leading to that norce and stability of character by which, ere long, he was so eminently distinguished.
Be brave, my brother!
Not even His weakest one;
However feebly done.
The faintly-spoken word,
Each has its own reward.
Be brave, my brother !
Spread out thy free glad love,
As does that sky above.
In slothful idleness,
Be brave, my
Give in the joy of love ;
Thy recompense above.
poor weak deed of thine-
Eternal and divine.'