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While thus actually employed in these important and delightful engagements, Clementine was seized with an affection of the chest, which excited considerable alarm in the minds of her parents and friends.
Toward the close of the year 1826, symptoms of pulmonary disease began to develope themselves, and for three months she was confined to her couch. It was during this illness her mind was brought more completely under the sanctifying influence of “the truth as it is in Jesus. It pleased God, by the Holy Spirit's teaching, to manifest to her more particularly the beauty and glory of the gospel, and to cause her to thirst after a nearer communion with Himself. Her habits of high regard for religion-contracted in childhood, and manifested in the performance of all her social and relative duties—did not now satisfy her desires, nor afford tranquillity to her mind. She felt that Jesus Christ, loved, delighted in, and obeyed, could alone fill the soul in which spiritual desires have been excited. Surrounded as she was by all the enjoyments of the world, and having within her reach the means which are ordinarily employed to produce a forgetfulness of pain, or afford amusement and alleviation, she was only happy as she was conversant with those spiritual and substantial blessings which the Scripture recommends and describes. She read and reflected much ; dreading, on the one hand, the pride of reason, and on the other, the impulse of the imagination, she examined, with a close mental application, both her religious state and the doctrines presented to her faith. The books which, together with the Bible, were at this time the companions of her sick bed, were, Buck's Christian Experience, Scott's Force of Truth, Dr. Gregory's Evidences of Religion, Appia's Christian Life, and several works by Dr. Chalmers. These she read carefully, and extracted those passages which tended to bring her mind and will more completely into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Though in her reason, however, Clementine was fully convinced of the truth and inspiration of the Scriptures, she complained much that her heart was not sufficiently affected by the remedy which the gospel reveals, and of which she felt, increasingly, her need. At the same time, she felt that faith is the gift of God; and that her consciousness of the need of a stronger faith only led her more earnestly to Him from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift, is evident from a sentence she wrote at this time: “Every day brings me fresh proof of my own insufficiency; but ask, and it shall be given unto you; knock, and it shall be opened unto you'—these words save me from despair.”
Feeling increasingly her spiritual indigence, and especially the necessity of a free and sovereign pardon, she says, in another letter, “ The heart only feels real love to God as it embraces the mysteries of the gospel; the mercy of God, his love for sinful creatures, is manifested in an admirable manner and degree in the work of redemption; and when that redemption is embraced, the heart must be regenerated, and consequently filled with love and gratitude to the Saviour ; but till then, it remains cold and insensible. The grace of God rises in my soul-I comprehend the mercy of the Lord Jesus, and certainly I experience the sweetness of his promises."
Such convictions and desires could not but result in the peace which passeth all understanding." The soul of Clementine was soon filled with holy joy and peace in believing. Hence, in another letter, she thus writes: “I want to tell you how happy I am—my heart has at length felt what my
mind has long understood—the sacrifice of Christ answers to all the wishes, and meets all the wants, of my soul; and since I have been enabled to embrace with ardour all its provisions, my mind enjoys a sweet and incomparable tranquillity. Formerly I vaguely assured myself that a merciful God would pardon me; but now, I feel that I have obtained that pardon—that I obtain it every moment, and I experience inexpressible delight in seeking it at the foot of the cross. My heart is full, and I now understand the angelic song, “Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth-good-will toward men. But that which has especially affected me, and has, by the grace of God, opened to my view all the tender mercy of the plan of our redemption, is the import of those gentle but assuring words, “ He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax."
“ I experience a pleasure in reading the Bible,” she said, in another letter, “which I never felt before: it attracts and fills me in an inconceivable degree; and I seek sincerely there, and only there, the truth. When I compare the calm and the peace which simple faith in Jesus—though it be “as a grain of mustard-seed”-gives to the soul, with all that the world alone can give of joy, or happiness, or glory, I feel that the “ least in the kingdom of heaven” is a hundred times more blessed than the greatest and most elevated of the men of the world.”
Acknowledging with gratitude the comforts she possessed, and blessing the hand that inflicted the sufferings she endured, Clementine laboured to diffuse around her the happiness she enjoyed. To one of her Christian friends she thus wrote :“Ours is indeed a delightful intimacy, for it will never end; often I anticipate the day when we shall all be united in the
same love. Oh, how unhappy must they be, who know not the sweetness of such a hope! and what thanks do we not owe to that God who has given us the experience of his power?”
In the beginning of the summer of 1827, the health of Clementine appeared to be sufficiently restored to permit her parents to arrange for her marriage. The object of her choice was a gentleman whose character fully justified her preference. The marriage was expected to take place in the month of August, and with those chastened feelings which become a Christian in prospect of so important a step, she thus expressed herself to a friend: “I do not ask of God to make me happy, but to sanctify and purify my soul; and I expect that He will keep me and preserve me in the important event. The profound conviction that there is an infinite and merciful Being who orders all things ; that not a hair of the head falls without His permission; and that He will control every event for my real welfare ;-gives nie an habitual peace and tranquillity which nothing else could inspire.”
How often, alas! are our fairest hopes blighted—our fondest hopes disappointed! The cup of earthly happiness is dashed from our lips, that we may learn that “this is not our rest;" and that our affections, weaned from this world, may be more entirely engaged with the unfading joy which is above. The day of Clementine's marriage was fixed : preparations were made for an event that promised to be so auspicious. But ere the day arrived, disease had laid her a patient sufferer on her dying bed. From the copiousness of the expectoration of blood, it was impossible to doubt the result of this trial: but when she knew it, she seemed to derive increasing energy from her sufferings; and fear was quite absent from her mind. Her countenance testified to the pain she endured; but “ the peace of God kept her heart and mind through Jesus Christ.” “ God has been ever present with me,” said she to a friend: “ he has led me: nature recoiled from suffering, and became impatient; but God was ever with me to renew my strength. Her efforts to quiet the agitated bosom of her intended husband were most affectionate and unremitting ; while her submission to the Divine will was cordial, and not constrained. It was the submission of a dutiful child to the arrangements of a kind and tender parent. But it gave her great uneasiness when her patience and exemplary resignation occasioned expressions of surprise and admiration to fall from her friends. “It is God that supports me,” said she: “I feel that He is with me; and if He leaves I feel His absence in a moment. You know," said she, appealing to her sister, " that I was never naturally re
signed." “If God grants you patience,” said a visitor, “ He sees that you merit His favour.” “ Hush,” said she, with a most expressive eagerness of manner, “ talk not of merit.”
The night preceding her death was passed in delirium. This continued during her last hours ; but she had intervals of reason, and her heart never wandered. She was full of resignation, faith, and love. Though still detained on earth her heart incessantly aspired to the heavenly country whithe. she was going, and to which she was now drawing very near. She had lost the power of speech; but recovered it about half-an-hour before she breathed her last. Her relatives were called around her—she could not pronounce their names, but could only press their hands. She was calm—she sighed—a sweet smile settled upon her countenance—"absent from the body," she was “present with the Lord.”
The preceding sketch has been drawn, not with a view to excite the imagination, and to produce a feeling of transient interest in the history of its subject; but rather to lead those who read it to reflect on their own mortality, and the necessity of an habitual preparation for the hour of death. This habitual preparation consists in the seeking, securing, and maintaining that real religion—that religion of the heart, the traces of which were so evident in the latter part of the life of Clementine Cuvier. It is hoped that it will be perceived that while exalted rank and personal accomplishments of a high order imply no exception to the necessity of scriptural piety, they ever receive an increasing charm from being found in union with it.
An interesting testimony is likewise here borne to the superiority of the great objects to which the scripture claims attention, above all sublunary considerations, and to their power to impart to the mind that is thoroughly interested in them, a pure satisfaction, far above the transient pleasures of the world, and tne highest gratifications and intellectual pursuits of the present state. This testimony is the more remarkable from the peculiar circumstances under which it is presented. Observe her situation, and mark the rare combination of objects which it presented to delight and fascinate an ardent mind. The celebrity of her father, whose political standing and vast philosophical researches* drew around him the most distinguished men of France-her own personal accomplishments and mental acquirements, exciting the admiration of all who knew her—the respect and attachment of the humane and religious, whose schemes she supported, and whose institutions she patronized ; --if to these we add the gratitude she was perpetually receiving from those whose wants she relieved,—and connect with all the prospect of a happy union to one who was in every sense worthy of her choice,-it will be evident that the world stood before her in a form the best adapted to captivate her mind, and to compel her to take it as her satisfying portion. But did it satisfy her ? No: we have seen that she was only happy as she was conversant with the spiritual and substantial blessings of the kingdom of God. She felt that Christ alone could fill the soul ; even to her the world was nothing more than a broken cistern, that could hold no water; and she thirsted, panted, and looked around for the fountain of living water, and found it-IN RELIGION.
Reader ! does the world satisfy you? When the time of reflection arrives,—when the party of, pleasure is broken up,— when the feeling of ennui, when the sensations of satiety and disgust come over you,—do you never say, “This is vanity?” Have you never felt that you too want an object worthy of an immortal mind-something that will satisfy? Hear, then, the words of Scripture: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread ? and your labour for that which satisfieth not ? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.” Isa. lv. 1, 2. Clementine was never happy amid all she possessed or hoped for, till she complied with this invitation,--till she opened her heart to the reception of the humbling truths of the gospel ; and then she found rest and
peace. To this duty the fact of our mortality should urge us. Death observes no order, but often strikes down the healthy, and leaves the sickly,--takes the young, and leaves the old. Multitudes are annually carried to an early grave by consumption. Incipient mortal disease is at work in many persons, before it is even suspected by themselves or their friends. This may be the case of some whose eye shall read these pages. No matter the seeming robustness of your health, the buoyancy of your spirits, the elasticity of your step,—your days are numbered, and may not reach far beyond-perhaps not so far as those of Clementine Cuvier. You may be travelling, not to the altar, but to the tomb, -—and your eye may have seen the spot, your foot may have trodden upon it, where you shall shortly lie. Is it wisdom to forget this? Is it your interest—to say nothing of your duty-to fancy yourself secure from death, till you are worn out by old age? Will you