Page images

'all those solemn,but infinitely interesting reflections, which engage the mind under sorrowful dispensations: such, (I mean,) as considerations of the awful government of God; the rich discoveries of the importance of salvation; the littleness of the earthly pursuits; the sweetness of the sympathetic feelings; and, in short, all that train of thought connected with those ideas, which a sick chamber is so admirably calculated to induce. Circumstances of this kind, no doubt, are solemn ; but if solemn, they are only the more congenial to the soul's purest enjoyments. The countenance may be saddened, but the heart is made better*

[ocr errors]

But to return :-The stable-boy before mentioned, in whose spiritual interests my friend was so warmly engaged at the time when this providence visited him, soon manifested the concern in which this affliction had involved him. It would indeed exceed all description to say what were his feelings. Every little portion of time which he could spare from the demands of the stable, was employed in running up to the chamber-door, to inquire after my friend. One trait in his character of this kind was peculiarly affectionate. He was always found with the first dawn of the morning, watching at the door Eccles. vii. 3.

of the room, in order to gather the earliest information from the persons who should first come out, how my friend had passed the night.

Neither had the good man, amidst all his pains, forgotten him. He mentioned to me several times, with much pleasure, the hopes which he had conceived of serious impressions forming on the youth's mind, from the conversation which he had with him. And upon being told of the lad's frequent and earnest inquiries after him, it served to confirm him in this opinion the more; and he very much wished to see him. The poor boy was soon introduced, and the interview was truly affecting. After frequent visits, the youth acquired some little confidence; and my friend found many opportunities of instructing him in that wisdom, which, under God the Holy Ghost, makethwise unto salvation.'

It was seemingly a long season of uncertainty for the exercise of my mind in waiting the Lord's will, respecting the final issue of my friend's state. Sometimes my hopes were high, and at others low, according as the symptoms appeared to vary. But, having acquired a little portion of that precious lesson in the school of grace, that the Lord's mercies are nearest unfolding, when our expectations of them are

nearest closing; I felt, I thought, much sweetness in that scripture, it is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.'

It was in the midst of these exercises the surgeon informed me, that his apprehensions were, that a mortification had taken place. He had, as usual, in his morning visit, examined my friend's bruised body; and then, for the first time, it was that he discovered the advancing gangrene. Our hopes now were all over. Whether my poor suffering friend, from our looks, or from the whispering of the surgeon, was led to suspect the cause, I know not; but so it was, that he anticipated the question, by saying 'I believe, Sir, that you find a mortification hath taken place. I have been free from pain in the part injured for several hours.' The surgeon expressed his hopes that it might not be so. But my friend, with a look of complacency which I shall never forget, replied,

[ocr errors]

Why would you wish so? It is not the smallest reproach, surely, to men of skill and ability, when the ordination of the Lord baffles all the efforts of art. And with respect to my feelings, allow me to assure you, Sir, that it is an event more to be desired than dreaded. I have long been looking forward to this period, as to

the happiest moment upon earth. Although I have the least cause of all men to be dissatis

fied with the pilgrimage of this world, (few travellers through it having been more highly fa voured,) yet I long to be at home in my Father's house, and cannot but rejoice in the pleasing prospect; knowing that when I am absent from the body, I shall be present with the Lord.'

[ocr errors]

The surgeon expressed much satisfaction in seeing his patient so composed and tranquil : and soon after withdrew. When he was gone, I set down by his bedside. Taking me by the hand, with that warmth of affection which distinguished his character, he thus spoke: My kind friend and companion, I am going to leave you; but I will say to you, as Joseph did to his brethren, God will surely visit you.' I have nothing to bestow upon you, but my prayers. Had I indeed the wealth of the whole earth, it would not be worth your consideration. The most invaluable legacy I pray the Lord to give you, is what the apostle coveted above all things for himself; to know Jesus, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings.' If the Lord gives you this, possessing it, you possess all things. And the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you

have suffered awhile, will make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you.'

With respect to myself, (he continued,) and my views concerning the awful state about to open before me, blessed be God, from the security I possess in him 'who is the resurrection and the life,' I have no fears. I have been enabled again and again, during my confinement on this bed of sickness, to take the most deliberate reviews of the evidences of the renewed life. And the result of the whole enables me to rejoice in the finished salvation of my God. It is indeed a solemn idea, that in a few hours I am to appear before God, the Judge of all.' But it is my mercy, that I am come also to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant.' While therefore I look at him, who is Fellow to the Lord of Hosts,' I find holy confidence. For I discover in him, and his redemption, a full, complete, and all-sufficient righteousness, adequate to every want, and answerable to every demand, to satisfy the law of God.

[ocr errors]

Under the influence of this well-grounded persuasion, which God the eternal Spirit, (I trust,) hath graciously wrought in my soul, I have more than once, since this illness, been refreshed by the same comfortable promise, with which the Lord favoured the Patriarch

« PreviousContinue »