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“ Because," she replied, “ now I am so near death, it seems a very solemn thing to die.”
“ It is a solemn thing, Susan, but I hope that you are ready to meet it, and to rejoice in the hope of soon being
Saviour." “ Yes, I know in whom I have believed.” “ Have you thought on what I said to you?” “I have thought of it night and day.” “Have you prayed much ?” “ I can't pray as I would; Mary prays with me." “ Do you read the Bible ?” “ Mary reads it to me, but I cannot see."
Soon after, Mary left the room, and Mrs. Barker coming up, I departed, promising, that if Susan should be spared, I would call early the next day. Full of musing reflections, I sought my own home.
“Dear little children, who may read
This simple story through,
And bitter pains for you.”
But let me ask, Could you have prayed as Mary did ? She prayed from her heart; she felt what she said. That is true prayer, my children, which we really feel; and if you have not prayed so, you have never prayed at all. Mary knew that God is a Spirit, and you know it too, your Teachers have taught you so; but I am afraid but few worship him as Mary did, “ in spirit and in truth.”
Do you ever go by yourselves to pray to the Saviour ? If you do not pray to the Most High in the morning, how can you expect that He will take care of you through the day; and if you do not pray to Him in the evening, why should you expect that He will take care of you through the night? Go, and fall down on your knees this day, and pray to your Saviour, and He will look with love upon you, and like as he did to the young ones of old, he will put His hands upon you, and will bless you.
In my slumbers I dreamed of Susan, and she was present in my thoughts the first thing in the morning, and as soon as I was ready I went to her cottage. Mary had not lain down all the night, for Sarah had been very poorly, and she had been obliged to attend to her; and Mrs. Barker ever since I had left her had been with Susan, who was still alive. It was very early: the dew hung upon the leaves, and the other children were asleep. Without delay I found my way to the sick chamber, and there I saw the mother watching her child, and the father sitting by her side with the utmost anxiety in his countenance. He left the room when I appeared, that his little girl might not be hurried by too many attendants.
“ Mrs. Barker,” said I, to the sorrowing parent, “ this is a trial of faith."
“Oh! it is indeed,” said she, “ no one can tell what I feel.”
When Susan heard the sound of my voice, she held out her hand, and looking steadfastly at me, said, “ Dying is hard work, Ma'am.”
“What, have you been in much pain since I saw
Oh, very great pain,” replied she.
“ Where can I
These exclamations I had not expected to hear, but I soon afterwards understood that she had been strongly convulsed all the night, and that she was then in a good
deal of agony.
Patience,” said I, “Susan, patience must have her perfect work.”
“Yes,” answered she, “it must, it must; it won't be much longer, do you think it will ?” “No, my love,” I replied, “ it surely can't be much lon
ger.” But as I thought she might continue for a few hours, and as I had resolved not to leave her as long as she did live, I prevailed on Mrs. Barker to lie down, whilst I promised to take all needful care of Susan, and in case she should be taken worse to let her know it. She did so, and went to Mary's bed, leaving me alone with Susan.
Ah! my girls, there is something very, very solemn in death. Did you ever see a person die? Did you ever see a body after death? If you have, say, is it not a solemn thing? You cannot tell how serious I felt; it was no time to trifle. There was an immortal spirit about to take its flight to the unseen world.
Susan appeared stronger; but her strength was the agony of death; yet she was enabled to converse with greater ease with me than before, and though she was a poor child and was covered with a patchwork quilt, yet I thought it an honor and a pleasure to smooth her dying pillow, and to encourage her while passing through the dark valley. Ah! I wish I could have taken you to the bed-side of that pious Sunday scholar; you might have seen how a young Christian died. The religion of Jesus, you know, is the same thing with the young as it is with the old; it is a changing and a sanctifying principle, it forms the mind anew.
• What should I do now,” said Susan, “if I had now to seek a Saviour! but blessed be his holy name, I love him, and I shall love him to the end, he will not leave me;" and then she paused, and looking at me said, “ Do you think he will ?"
“No," said I.
“ His honor is engaged to save
The meanest of his sheep." Then we talked upon the songs of angels, their white robes and their palms of victory, and many more things.
But in about an hour and a half after this, Susan's countenance changed, and in dying accents she asked for some water; I saw she was nearly gone, and with all possible haste I moistened her blue and stiffening lips ; the water revived her, and she seemed better, but was again fearfully convulsed—I was alarmed, and knocked with my foot on the creaking boards, which brought Mary up.
“Call your mother,” said l. Mrs. Barker soon came. We rubbed her limbs, we prayed that she might have an easy death; we entreated that support might be granted her, and the Almighty in mercy heard our prayers,
and after a while she grew easier and more calm.
“Let me get up,” she said, for she knew not what to do—I raised her in the bed, supported her in my arms, and she leaned her weary head on my shoulder. I read to her the xivth chapter of St. John's Gospel, upon which she spoke some words by which her father, mother, brothers and sisters were melted to tears. The drops of grief fell from her eyes when she thought of parting with friends so dear; yet she kissed them all, said many things expressive of her joy at the prospect of endless glory; and then asked me to read a hymn. As I was reading the last verse but one, which begins
“Then when ye hear my heart-strings break,
How sweet my minutes roll,”
ehe gently sighed twice; fell back on the pillow; the struggle was past, the conflict was ended, and her soul, freed from the body, sped its triumphant way to her Father and to your Father, to her God and to your God.
Poor Mary, when she saw her sister was gone, gave vent to her feelings; and as for poor little James, he was quite inconsolable; he took Susan's hand, and kissed it again and again, stroked her hair down, and was very much grieved; but the language of Mrs. Barker's heart was what it ought to have been—“The will of the Lord be done.”
I persuaded all the children to go down stairs with me; and afterwards I went to a neighbor, to beg her attendance at the house. I said a few words respecting the uncertainty of health and life; bid Mary be of good comfort, and look towards that time when her sister should appear in the clouds of heaven, and directed her to watch, lest her Lord coming suddenly should find ler sleeping.
A few days afterwards I waited upon the minister who had visited Susan in her illness, and requested him to preach a funeral sermon for the departed girl to the youth of the parish, which he kindly consented to do.
On the day appointed for Susan's burial I attended at the cottage, and took Mary and Sarah two neat black frocks, and black strings for their bonnets, for which they were very thankful.
Little Susan's coffin was very plain; there were no shining handles; no rows of expensive nails; no trappings of cloth, but every thing was very plain.
Ah! dear children, it is of very little consequence what becomes of the body when the soul is gone.
“Fous steps,” you know,“ will measure your narrow home," " the house appointed for all living;” you will not occupy much space in the ground. Your teachers do not mind the body, they care about your souls ; we want you to care about yourselves; we want you to remember that “time is short,” and that you must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ. Do not disappoint our hopes, but let us hear you asking in sincerity, What must I do to be saved ?
I saw Susan's corpse before the coffin was screwed down; her face was calm, but her lips were dark and co?!;
put my hand to her side, but her heart did not beni; no, my girls, that heart, which once beat with pleasure ind