Графични страници
PDF файл

suffered so much from religious connexions, that I had determined, as much as possible to stand aloof, during the residue of my journey through life. Thus was I circumstanced, when the fell destroyer of my peace aimed his most deadly shafts at the bosom of a being fur dearer to me than my existence. My credit failing, my wants multiplying, blessed be God, my Eliza was ignorant of the extent of my sufferings; she would have surrendered up her life, even if she had feared death, rather than have permitted an application to either of her brothers; yet was 1 by the extremity of my distress, precipitated upon a step so humiliating. Stopping at a coffee-house near our brother William's, I penned a hurried line, requesting he would give me an immediate meeting; and sending it by a porter, I waited, in agony indescribable, its effect. Almost instantaneously he entered the coffee-house, and, without uttering a word, took a seat; nor was I for some moments able to articulate. My soul was tortured; he saw it and could not avoid feeling. At length he questioned, 'Pray, what is the matter?' Your sister is very near her end, and, were we both so, it would be to me the cause of exultation, and you would have been spared this trouble. My application to you will be a sufficient explanation of my circumstances; and should you think proper to call upon a once dear, now dying sister, I have to request you would not notice my having sought this interview, it would embitter the last moments of her life. He was amazingly shocked, yet, as this was the first syllable he had heard of her indisposition, he flattered himself my fears had magnified the danger; but he assured me, he would see her without delay. I however desired he would grant me time to prepare her for his visit; it must, said I, appear entirely accidental; and I hastened to our lodgings. I met your brother William, my love, who, having heard you are indisposed, kindly inquired after you; I think he means to visit you. If, my precious friend, you have not descended so low as to ask any favor of him, I shall be glad to see him.' I will not, my love, do any thing, which I ought not to do. I sat down by her bed-side. That face upon which strangers had gazed enraptured, was now the seat of death's wan harbinger, and her struggles to conceal her sufferings, were but too visible. Quitting the room, I inquired of the nurse how she had been during my absence? She told me, she had endured much pain, was very anxious for my return, and expressed a fear that she should never again behold me. I was summoned by the mistress of the house, who was so charmed by the deportment of my Eliza, and had conceived so great an affection for her, as to find it difficult to quit her apartment. But my suffering friend, taking my hand, and drawing me near her, whispered a wish, that we might be alone; I gave the good lady a hint, who instantly withdrew.

I kneeled by her bedside: she drew me closer to her, and throwing her feeble, her emaciated arms around my neck she gave me an ardent embrace; I was unutterably affected. Be composed my dear,' said she, and let those precious moments be as calm as ́

possible; we may not be allowed another opportunity. Dear faithful friend, in life,-in death, dearer to me than my own soul,-God reward you for all the kind care you have taken of me. O! may my heavenly Father provide some one to supply my place, who may reciprocate the kindness you have shown me. Pray be composed; remember we are not at home; that we shall shortly meet in our Father's house-here she paused and again resuming'Our parting, when compared with eternity, will be but for a moment. What though we have not continued together so long as we fondly expected, yet, my love, we have had an age of happiness. It is you, my precious husband, who are the object of pity. God all gracious console and support you. Be of good cheer, my love, we shall meet in the kingdom of the Redeemer-indeed, indeed we shall.' Again, she threw her dying arms around me; her soul seemed struggling with the magnitude of her emotions. For me, I could not have articulated a syllable for the world. It is astonishing I did not expire; but there is a time to die. Again like the wasting taper, she seemed to revive. Again, with uncommon energy, she pronounced, upon her almost frenzied husband, the solemn benediction; this brought on a cough: she pointed to a phial upon her dressing table. I gave her a few drops. There, my best friend, I am better-be composed, my faithful, my suffering guide, protector, husband. Oh! trust in the Lord: let us, my love, stay upon the God of our salvation; He will never leave us; He will never forsake us '-then grasping my hand, she continued: 'These moments, my dear are very precious; we have had many precious moments; you will not go out again, I shall not again lose sight of you. You will abide with me, so long as I shall continue'-I could contain no longer: My suppressed agony became audible; she drew me to her: 'Do not distress me, my love.'-She was deeply affected; her cough came on with additional violence. The sound of my voice brought in the kind lady of the house; she believed the angel had escaped. I requested her to reach the phial. The expiring saint motioned it away. 'It is too late, my love,' she would have added; but utterance instantly failed her, and without a single struggle, she breathed her last, still holding my hand fast in hers. I was on my knees by her bedside. I saw she was breathless, but she still held my hand. Ten thousand worlds, had I possessed them, I would have given, for permission to have accompanied her beatified spirit. I am astonished that I retained my reason. Only a few weeks, a few tremendous weeks since the commencement of her illness, had rolled on when, kneeling in speechless agony by her bedside, I saw her br the her last; she expired without a sigh, without a pang, and I was left to the extreme of wretchedness. A few moments gave me to reflection-I contemplated her form, beautiful even in death; she was no more a sufferer either in body or mind, and, for a little while, I derived malignant satisfaction, from the consideration of what her brothers would endure, when they found, that, in this world they should no more behold her. I

was shocked at myself; it seemed as if the sainted spirit mildly reproved me; I clasped my hands in agony; I supplicated pardon of the deceased, and of her God. It appeared to me, I had been deficient in affection, and the idea spoke daggers to my soul. Memory cruelly summoned before me many instances, in which she might have been obliged, but distraction was in this thought. I sat in speechless agony by her bedside; having locked the door, no one could obtain entrance. Almightly God, how unutterable were the sorrows of my soul!!!

I was aroused from this state, by the arrival of our brother William. He obtained entrance; he glanced upon the bed-gazed for a moment-averted his eyes-trembled, and became pale as the face of my lamented saint-and at length in silent agony, quitted the apartment. The good lady of the house now made her appearance, and in a tone of sympathy supplicated me to retire. The necessary offices were performed, and all that remained of my wedded friend was prepared for the undertaker, who came by the order of her opulent brother: that brother, who had nefariously robbed her of her right of inheritance, who contributed so largely, while she lived, to her sufferings, and who now endured anguish more than equivalent for all the riches of the world. A hearse and mourning coaches attended, and the dear remains, followed by her brothers and their families, were entombed in the family vault. The coachman was directed to convey me, after the interment to the house of our younger brother. He was again a prey to contrition and to sorrow, and he urged me to cherish hope. I assured him, I had nothing to do with hope, at least in this world. He made great professions of affection, and liberal promises of future kindness; but it was too late; and though I believe he was at the time sincere, yet, when his strong feelings subsided, he was himself again.

Here I close another period of my eventful life! What a sad reverse! A few short weeks since, I was in the most enviable circumstances; my situation was charming, my dwelling neat and commodious; my wife, the object of my soul's devout and sincere affection, her lovely offspring swelling the rapture of the scene, a male and female domestic attached to our persons, and faithful to our interest; and the pleasing hope, that I should enjoy a long succession of these delights. Now I was alone in the world; no wife, no child, no domestics, no home; nothing but the ghosts of my departed joys. In religion, and religion only, the last resort of the wretched, I found the semblance of repose; religion taught me to contemplate the state to which I was hastening; my dreams presented my departed Eliza; I saw her in a variety of views, but in every view celestial: sometimes she was still living, but in haste to be gone; sometimes she descended upon my imagination, an heavenly visitant, commissioned to conduct me home; and so much of felicity did I derive from those dreams, that I longed for the hour of repose, that I might reiterate the visionary bliss.

But new embarrassments awaited me; doctors, apothecaries,

grocers, &c. &c., advanced with their bills; yet I was not much affected. I was overwhelmed by far greater afflictions. My health had greatly suffered. My sight, by excess of sorrow, so said my physician, was almost gone. Often have I traversed George'sFields, where many have met death on the point of the foot-pad's dagger, in the mournful hope of meeting a similar fate; forgetting, in the state to which I was reduced, that, in thus devoting myself to destruction, I indubitably ranked with the self-murderer. The eldest brother of my departed friend continued, from the period of his sister's demise, uniformly kind; through his instrumentality, many of my most pressing debts were discharged. My mind seemed subdued; it became a fit residence for sorrow, when I received a letter from Ireland, written by my brother James. Many of our family were numbered with the dead; of all her children, my mother, had now only three surviving sons and two daughters. My eldest sister was married, and my mother, leaving our common property in her care, was about to repair with her youngest daughter, and two sons, to England. She was not apprized of the death of my Eliza. I had written her, that I was blest with a most lovely and exemplary companion; but from the death of my son, and the farther and entire prostration of my terrestrial happiness, I had suspended iny communications. I was now again necessitated to take a house; my mother and my brothers resided with me; and my sister with a lady, to whom she had been introduced in Ireland. She soon after married, and, as I believed imprudently, and I saw her no more. I now lived a mournful life; the world appeared to me in a very different point of view, from what it had formerly done; yet I derived ecstatic pleasure from my views of revelation. William Neale became convinced of the truth, as it is in Jesus; and, of course, an adherent of Mr. Relly. This soothed me, and the word of God was an abiding consolation. To a few individuals I was made a messenger of peace; but my mother, and my brother James, remained inveterate opposers of the doctrines I had embraced. I sometimes visited the tabernacle, and, conceiving an affection for all men, I had a kind of satisfaction in standing in the midst of my brethren. It was at the tabernacle I was informed, that a poor, unhappy, widowed woman, sister to a man whom I had loved, was in most deplorable circumstances; she had been deceived by a villain; her kindred had been made acquainted with her situation, but their indignation was kindled against her; they would not see her; and her religious connexions abandoned her, while she was suffering all the miseries of want, accompanied by her own agonizing reflections. I discovered her in a miserable room; no glass in the windows, no fire in the chimney; she was laying on something which had been a bed; a child, of a few days old in her bosom, but no nourishment for it; another child dead by her side, and a third apparently dying. Upon my entrance she covered her face with her hands. I know you, sir; you are come to upbraid me: yes, I deserve it all; but

by and by my measure will be full.' I burst into tears. I come to upbraid you? God forbid. No, poor sufferer; I am come a messenger from that God, who giveth liberally, and upbraideth not. Be of good cheer, you have still a Father, who loves you with an everlasting love, and he has sent me to comfort you; he has seen your affliction, and he has bid me relieve you.


This seemed too much for the poor, forlorn creature; she appeared in the moment of expiring. I ran out of the house, into a shop at the corner of the alley, the mistress of which was, to my knowledge, perfectly acquainted with the situation of the sufferer. I demanded, why she thus neglected a human being? Ah, the wretched creature, she deserves this and more,' was this good woman's reply. But although neither the love of God, nor of human nature, could move this hard-hearted woman, I had that in my pocket, which possessed, for her, an irresistible charm; and at the hazard of my reputation, I bade her procure coal, a restorative cordial, and a blanket to cover the sufferer. I then proceeded to the dwelling of a lady, one of Mr. Relly's congregation, to whom I had recently been introduced; I represented the situation, in which, in the midst of an opulent city, I had discovered a fellow creature. The lady was extremely affected, and visited the poor penitent, whom I found relieved and comforted. She requested me with many tears, to put up a note for her aid was instantaneous. The next day, Sunday, I again her in the tabernacle. There happened, on that day, to preach in the tabernacle a Mr. Edwards, whom I had formerly known, in connexion with Mr. Wesley. I presented a note in the following words: The prayers of this congregation are requested in behalf of a widow indeed, confined to a bed of sickness, without property and encompassed by the dying and the dead. I attended again in the tabernacle in the evening, and when the sermon closed, Mr. Edwards said: 'If the person be here, who put up the note this morning, in behalf of a widow indeed, I should be glad to speak with him in the vestry.' Accordingly presenting myself, I was very cordially received by Mr. Edwards, who observed, he was happy I was the person; that his feelings had been greatly affected by the note; that he had read it to a lady, at whose house he had dined, who, putting two guineas into his hand, requested him, if possible, to find out the widow indeed, and bestow them upon her. I conveyed this little sum to the sorrowing woman, with feelings, which those who know how to sympathize with the unfortunate will easily understand; and I assured the poor mourner, that the God, who gives and forgives, had sent her another proof of his favor. Arise, said I, forlorn sufferer, and sin no more. I had the charge of the child's funeral; the other recovered. The mother was soon abroad, and continued, ever after, to conduct with exemplary propriety. This instance, among a thousand others, proves, that faith in the promises is the best stimulus to that pure and undefiled religion, which consists in relieving the oppressed of every

« ПредишнаНапред »