« ForrigeFortsett »
God, and at last settled down into that most dangerous of all states, a lukewarm professor. He carried the lamp of profession so far as to attend the public worship of God, and sometimes to read his Bible at home. But, alas! where was the oil of vital godliness? To all appearance, it had quite run out. Should we not say, that of all conditions, that of poor P. was the most hopeless ? But what saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts? “My ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts your thoughts; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thonghts.”
'The death of his wife, to whom he was most tenderly attached, and to whom he had been united for the long period of fifty-six years, was the means which God the Spirit employed in awaking him from this state of death-like stupor. “Blessed rod!” says an old writer, “if it brings us under the bond of the covenant.” He witnessed the composure with which this tried believer received the sudden summons " to set her house in order;" and he asked himself, "Were 1 thus suddenly called, should I also be ready?” I was at that time quite ignorant of the conflict which was passing in his mind. But as I was returning from the Church one Sunday morning, I thought I would step in and visit the bereaved old man. On entering his humble dwelling, a blessed scene presented itself. O! for a brighter faith to realize the glories of that moment, when the returning prodigal comes to himself, and says, “I will arise, and go to my Father," &c. Hark! those bursts of acclamation. Hark! those loud, triumphant chords. Methinks I see the heavens opened, and a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory be to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will to man.” Nay, we have the authority of Him who spake as never man spake, for asserting, that the High and Lofty One himself, who inhabiteth eternity, looks with complacency on the returning sinner, and says, hold! this, my son, was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." I found old Mr. P. seated at
a table, reading his Bible. He seemed almost overwhelmed with sorrow, but was pressing his finger firmly on the 21st verse of the 21st chapter of Matthew: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig-tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done."
He remarked to me, that while he read that, he could not quite despair. And he seemed resolved, with God's assistance, to “set his face once more towards the highway”—“to see and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, that he might find rest to his soul.” An unexpected letter, which he received from a friend next day, exhorting him to turn to the Lord once more, came, to use his own words, “just in the nick of time," and confirmed him in those gracious resolutions. He, however, found, by sad experience, what an evil and bitter thing it is to forsake the Lord. His heavenly Father saw fit to afflict him still more. His beloved partner had scarcely been dead three weeks, when the son, who had hitherto resided with him, contracted a most unhappy marriage, and after making the poor old man very miserable by his conduct, he and his wife ultimately took their departure for Liverpool. Should these pages ever meet the eyes
of that son, conscience may probably whisper to him, “ Thou art the man.” May the Lord the Spirit prompt the answer, “ I have sinned against the Lord.”
It were vain now to think of returning to his earthly parent; the grave has since closed over that hoary head. But, blessed be God, it is not yet too late to return to his heavenly Father, whom he has still more deeply offended. The door is still open--Christ is that door. “ Let the wicked man forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon.” Poor P.'s sorrows were all sanctified to him. He could clearly discern a Father's hand in all ; "yes, as plainly," he would say, holding
up his spectacles, “as I see these glasses in my hand."
Often the clouds of deepest woe
So sweet a message bear ;
A frown of anger there.
A richer boon bestowed,
Than all that men call good. He lived long enough after this to exhibit to all around a striking proof of the grace of Him, whose “faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” Being too much advanced in years, and broken down by sorrow, to be capable of much labour, he was employed by his kind mistress to collect rents from some of her
poor tenantry; and it was truly delightful to hear his neighbours bear testimony to the uprightness and mild humanity of his dealings with them. He was indeed beloved and respected by all who knew him. His conversation was at all times most edifying; it was evident, that “out of the abundance of his heart his mouth spake." Although naturally of a silent, reserved disposition, he always spoke with fluency on the subject which lay nearest to his heart. His remarks were original and striking, and manifested a deep acquaintance with the deceitfulness of the heart, and the consequent necessity of constant watchfulness and prayer. "A Christian," he would say, “should always be on his watch, as a sentinel in an enemy's country." He once remarked to me, how deeply he felt the truth of the Psalmist's observation, “My heart sheweth me the wickedness of the ungodly.
In the midst of a thousand difficulties and hindrances in running the race that was set before him, he was enabled to endure to the end. “Though faint, yet pursuing,” and thanks to our faithful, covenant God, he was made more than conqueror through him who loved him. He had a strong sense of his daily obligation to free grace. “I am often amazed,” he would say, “at His patience and forbearance."
A little more than two years after his beloved wife's death, he was taken seriously ill. I had long noticed a change in his appearance; from having been a remarkably hale and well-looking old man, he became very feeble, and broken down. Sorrow had deeply undermined his health, though it did not exactly cause his death; as the complaint of which he died had been of some duration.
It is truly encouraging and delightful to observe how the Lord provides for the temporal as well as the spiritual wants of his dear children. Pi's kind mistress testified, by her unceasing benevolence and attention to him, how much she valued her aged servant. He was himself deeply sensible of bis many mercies. Once, on his receiving some mulled wine from the hands of his kind nurse, (a pious old neighbour, who offered her services when he was taken ill,) he exclaimed, “Glory be to the Giver ; oh! glory be to the Lord, the Giver; O my ungrateful heart! why art thou so insensible ?" I asked him whether he still could discern a hand of love in every incident. He replied, “Not only every day, but every moment, is mercy, boundless mercy, unmerited mercy!" When repeating a verse of the hymn his dear wife loved so much to hear,
“ The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day,
away.” « Viler! viler!!” he would exclaim.
On listening to a hymn read, in which mention was made of redeeming love, he said, “ Redeeming love! O! what tongue can express what redeeming love is ? who can fathom it?" After an illness of above a month's duration, he fell asleep in the bosom of that good Shepherd, who had followed his lost sheep into the wilderness, and had carried him home on his shoulders rejoicing.
He was buried, according to his own wish, by the side of his wife, in Mount Jerome Cemetery, at Harold's Cross.
“ Harp, lift thy voice on high! Shout, angels, shout;
THE CHRISTIAN CONTEST, CONQUEST AND CROWN.
"To him, that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne;
even as I also overcome, and am set down with my Father in his Throne -Rey. iii, 21.
We cannot perhaps discover a more common error among men than this: a man found hoping for the end, who does not employ the means.
“The soul of the sluggard,” saith the wise man, “desireth, and hath nothing.”
There are three things before us :
1. A Contest; for there can be no conquest, but what first implies a contest.
2. A Conquest, following the contest.
3. A Crown: the sitting down with Christ upon His throne. His crown he secures to the man who enters into the contest, and obtains the conquest.
1. We will consider the Contest. Some one is to be contended with, enemies are to be overcome ; for conquest, as I have said, im. plies contest. This contest will be in this world perpetual. Who can say he has done conflicting, while he has to combat with the world, the flesh, and the devil? The day is coming, which will declare the Christian hero to be a hero indeed! Then shall bis achieve. ments be recorded, when the great conquerors of this world are all passed by and forgotten! He shall be found to have been fighting the battles of his God; then will he be found the only true, honour. able, and successful conflicter! more worthy to be regarded of God, of angels, and of saints, than all the conquerors who have glittered on the page of history.
2. The Conquest. A Christian hopes to conquer, by simply trusting to the Captain of his salvation-following his steps-using His arms_looking up daily to Him for help, that he may not contend in vain. That contest will not be crowned, which will not endure to the end; and in order to endure, it must have a right