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readily, and begged me to come again. After he got well he went to church ; and to make short of the story, he has been a changed man ever since. Now, though he had every reason to hope that his sins were pardoned, and would never rise up in judgment against him, he never lost the recollection of them, so far as not to sorrow on their account ; and especially the thought of the wilful waate. he had made for so many years, would cross his mind. For the family, he served were very kind-hearted, and used to desire him to give away the spare garden-stuff, and he made them believe he did so, Instead of this, however, he would throw it on the dunghill, and, let the fruit rot under the trees, when his master and mistress were at their townhouse, which they were more than half the year. But now he tries all he can to make amends to the poor neighbours ; and is as careful of every cabbage, as though it was worth its weight in gold, Now, Sir, (continued Humphrey) is not this the meaning of our Lord's commandment--Bring forth works meet for repentance ?" “Undoubtedly," I replied,"and the want of time and opportunity to prove in this manner, the sincerity of repentance, is what makes death-bed conversions so uncertain to the surviving friends. That thought brings us to the point we seem to have lost sight of, the case of the poor player.
I am glad to see conversation does not prevent
your working, (for he had from the commenceof it taken a wig in hand) therefore I scruple the less to detain you a little longer. Humphrey continued his discourse. “I never wanted learning so much in my life, as I did in visiting poor Charles ; for all he harped upon for a long while was, that the Bible was all false, and he defied me to prove it otherwise. I, in my turn, called on him to prove it was false, which, as he could not do either, we stood on equal ground. But there seemed to be no end to our unprofitable disputes, 'till one day our worthy parson Goodall, to whom I mentioned the case, went with me: I never shall forget the substance of what he said to Charles long as I live. First of all he proved from what he knew from history-books, that all the prophecies in the Old Testament had been fulfilled, which respected the overthrow of the nations. Then he spoke of the Jews, and how they believed their own Scriptures, and continued a dispersed people over the face of the whole world, exactly as it was foretold they should. It was very amusing to hear of this, and wonderful to think how the providence of God brought it all about. But when he spoke of the prophecies which respected the coming of our blessed Lord, and shewed how they were fulfilled in his birth, sufferings, and death, beginning at Genesis and ending at Malachi, this was profitable indeed. 'Tis true I was no stranger to this part of his discourse, but one is apt to consider it only a little at
a time, and not like parson Goodall, with our bibles in hand, turning from one verse to another to see how exactly they accord together.
This account of the matter made Charles look about him, and he frankly owned he never considered it much, but had hearkened to the sayings of his gay companions, who pretended they had examined into it. This was a point gained, and I hoped on my next visit, to find him prepared for some application of the truths of the Bible to his state, for you know, Sir, the mere believing the letter of it, will never save a soul. But, alas! a dying condition is a sad time to begin the work of reflection. His breath and his cough had been so bad that he could attend to nothing else. I left him, thinking to see him no more: but in a few hours he got so much better, that he sent me word that he was sure he should be well again, and wished to see me. I found him reading in one of his play-books, and could not engage his attention to any thing better, for he said he had only sent for me to make merry now he was getting well, and that he expected some of his old friends, the players, who had promised to bring him some money that evening. As I had no relish for such company, I would not stay ; but calling in again a few days after, I found that neither they nor their money had made , appearance, and poor Charles, as bad as ever; for such was the na
ture of his disorder to be always changing. Now, again, he was in no fit condition to hear or think. Then his mind was further perplexed about temporal matters, for he had nothing to depend on but the bounty of his neighbours, and sometimes there was not a sixpenny piece in the room. If he had been a poor believer, there would have been a hundred promises to apply, but I felt I had no warrant to say, all these things shall be added, to one who was not seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. 'Twas no wonder I was puzzled what to do for the best, for so was parson Goodall, who seeing the weakness of his head and mind, left off talking, and went to prayer with him. This seemed to affect his feelings at least, for the tears would run down his cheeks, mixed with the cold sweats that foreboded his speedy departure. Well, God knew his heart, and what passed there at those seasons."
Humphrey paused to give respite to his own feelings, which seemed agitated by the recollection of his poor neighbour's case; then added, “ He asked to see me a few hours before he died; but though I went as soon as possible, he was speechJess when I arrived ; yet I thought he looked as though he knew me, so I took hold of his hand : Brother, said I, have you any hope through grace, that your sins are pardoned? If you have, squeeze me by the hand. Oh ! Sir, he drew it away, and cast on my face such a look of distress as I shall never
forget. But perhaps it was occasioned by a sudden pain, and he might not have heard what I said : so about an hour after he died.”
I had too much respect to the feelings of friend ship and admiration of that principle of charity, which hopeth all things, manifested by Humphrey in this account of a death-bed scene, to express my own sentiments.
The little history spoke powerfully to myself, and I trust will also to my readers. “ Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation." How often does death approach suddenly and unexpectedly? There is no space left for repentance ; as the tree falls so must it lie. But even when it comes slowly on by lingering decay, who can ensure vigour understanding, and tranquility of mind, sufficient for the great task of “working out their salvation?"'
As the wise King Solomon observes, “ To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens." This is well-known by the husbandman, the tradesman, and even the man of pleasure, who all observe some order in their different pursuits. As it is in temporal, so it is in spiritual concerns. Youth and health are the seasons for enquiry, and improvement in knowledge: more advanced year's is the time for active service in the good cause; and sickness or old age is the seasour when nothing remains to do, but meekly to