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that he expired after a few days. I fancy I now see the little tenement in which she lived, and the part of the bare hill which was enclosed for a kind of garden. "It is a good piece of garden ground,” she said, “but I have not money to crop it: I just raise a few potatoes, and we should have been starved without them.” In one corner, many branches of laurel, laurestinas, and other evergreens, seemed to me not growing, but just stuck in, like children's play; but she undeceived me. "I planted them last spring,” she said: “I thought if they took root I could sell a few.”
The view from the opened cottage door was extensive and beautiful. The wide hill, varied with many risings and fallings, extended before us: beyond were seen many cottages, surrounded with little gardens. The river glided on its way below the hill: beyond it, to the left, were woods and well cultivated fields; and, to the right, a great city, with its spires and towers and glass houses and shipping, its ancient cathedral, and modern improvements, bridges and archways, the great western cotton works, and the terminus of the Great Western Railway; its ranges of houses, one range above another --for it was a city built like ancient Rome, upon seven bills. But the beauty without made the misery within more painful to behold. The poor woman was lame,, the children ragged and dirty: one of them was lying on a little bed placed on chairs. “To-day, for the first time, she knows me,” said the mother: “till now she has been insensible. I have waited upon her often in the winter nights by moonlight; for I could not afford candles, and I have been obliged to burn the soot for coal." Much more I might relate, but I shall not dwell on this case: sin had brought misery into that home.
"Is it not always so?” some may ask; “is not all suffering the fruit of sin?". In a general sense it is so, but not always immediately. Thus, when our blessed Saviour was asked in reference to the blind man, "Master, which did sin, this man or his parents, that
was born blind?” the reply was, “ Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents;" meaning that the suffering
was not the immediate consequence of a particular sin. So it is still. We see the children of God receiving affliction from his hand, affliction which they cannot trace to any express act of sin: they deeply feel and freely confess that in themselves is no good thing, and they hear with joy the blessed words, “Their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” I will turn to such a case.
“He giveth no account to any of his doings," I have often thought, when I have seen poor Ann -- lying, week after week, and month after month, on her bed, ready to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better, yet patient to continue here. I have heard the opinion expressed, that, the moment a soul is fit for heaven, that soul is taken hence; but to me it seems the simple truth that a soul is fit for heaven the moment it has embraced the offer of the salvation of Christ: our fitness is in him. “Why, then," some will ask, “is life prolonged ?". What, have they forgotten the poor demoniac, who, when he had received a cure, wished to abide close to his great Deliverer, like Christian wishing to be at once in heaven, in the immediate presence of his Saviour? But
But no, that great Deliverer suffered him not: he sent him away again, saying, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”
Poor Ann! she could indeed scarcely speak to tell her friends what the Lord had done for her, but she could smile with thankfulness when his blessed name was named, and she could be in calm and patient contentment waiting till he should call her hence. last Christmas, since she first was ill,” was the reply her parents gave, when I inquired how long she had been thus afflicted. At three several times she had kept her bed for months together, then had been a little better. Often had I gone up the stairs, and entered the large room where she lay, and perceived no change from week to week. The stairs led at once, without any door, into the room. The place was perfectly neat, but the scanty furniture told of the poverty of the in
“Six years, habitants. There were in the room two beds, two large chests, and a chair: the window furnished one more seat, and was sometimes ornamented by a bright common geranium. The room was not ceiled, but took the form of the roof of the house, and was supported by an upright beam. Across the room was fastened a string, on which were hung some articles of wearing apparel. The view from the small window was very beautiful. Beyond the road and the opposite houses, two hills met: that on the left hand was intersected with many low hedges, and divided into little gardens, surrounding poor but decent cottages: the hill to the right hand was uncultivated, but picturesquely diversified in form, and dressed with broom and fern and heath. Beyond all this, and on the other side of a river which glided on unseen, rose a beautiful field: the slope was abrupt, and just on the brow were some fine elm trees: there the ground became level; and I can fancy the view now, as I saw the sun shining on that level, while the sloping part of the field was in deep shade. Many other fields and trees were seen also, till the most distant blended with the soft sky. But where poor Ann lay, she could see none of these beauties. What could she see? Nothing, for months together, but the room in which she was, and the upper step of the staircase, where, now and then, a visitor appeared, or one of her aged parents, or her little niece. “In days past, indeed, there was one thing else for her to see, the page of God's word; but, at the time I knew her, she was too ill to employ herself in reading.
But, shall we say what, in the mean time, was presented to the eye of her mind? What were her meditations from day to day? What heavenly music seemed to meet her ear, shut out, as she was, from earthly scenes, exposed to no intercourse with a jarring world? what calm hours of retirement and nearness to God were hers? But let us not envy her. The God of all grace can manifest himself to each one of his people.
Poor Ann could seldom speak-never but in a whisper; and even that effort seemed so great, that a visitor would scarcely urge her to it. One day I remember asking her how she felt, and she whispered, “Happy;" and that was literally the only word she spoke during my visit; yet that visit is remembered with great interest, on account of her calm composure as she lay in patient suffering, and of her deep attention as I read to her.
In that family I saw the power of Christianity. I was reminded of the words, “ As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” I admired the industry of the aged parents, as they sat side by side, busied in the humble employment of shoemaking. And how the
poor mother would sometimes leave her work to step upstairs and look at her daughter; bend with anxiety to discover whether she had fainted, as she often did, or had fallen asleep; wet her lips with a little tea, if she had nothing else for her; or fan her, and speak a word of comfort to her, and then leave her again in that humble, silent room, alone with her God!
As poor Ann could speak so very little, it was a comfort to remember that she was not beginning, on that bed of languishing, to love and to seek God. No: she had sought him in the days of her youth: she had been led away from the sins and vanities in which she saw others delight; and had found her comfort in the service of him who loved her, and gave himself for her.
To my surprise, she left that bed of affliction: a little appearance of recovery took place: the poor mother, who had so kindly waited on the invalid, died. I shall not forget the day when I paid a visit to that bereaved home. The house looked neat and comfortable as usual. Who had made it, so I could not tell: whether the poor daughter had exerted her utmost energy to supply her mother's place, or whether the father himself had placed all in such exact order. Both were now sitting to rest for a few moments: tears were in the eyes of poor Ann, as her father gave me the particulars of her mother's last illness. She had been seized with a violent pain in the side: friends and doctors had advised for her, but in a few days came the end of all her sufferings. She had expressed her hope in Christ, said that she was now going to him, using words such as these: “What should I do now, if I had not sought him?” She had lived, they told me, sixty-four yearsI should have thought much more, from her appearance. For thirty-six of those years, her husband told me, she had sought the Lord; an expression often used, sometimes, alas, carelessly. As I thought of the expression, the question arose, “And why did she seek him? She loved him because he first loved her, and she sought him because he had first sought her: for thirty-six years she had sought him; but for how long had he sought her? Surely from eternity. When she sought him, she acknowledged that he had first sought her; and now she has indeed found him: now she sees that he had not said to her, “Seek ye me," in vain. O, he is still speaking, he is still inviting: when he in condescending grace, says, “Seek ye my face.” who will not answer, “Thy face, Lord, will I seek ?”
Poor Ann, she outlived her father too. They had moved away from the place where I had known them, and I had not seen her for some time: then I met with her one day carrying a petition in her hand, trying to collect a few shillings to help to bury him. Now her father and her mother have left her, surely the Lord will take her up: he will raise up one friend and another for her during the remaining days of her pilgrimage; and at last her parents and she shall all meet, and tell all that he has led them through; for to each of the redeemed it shall be said
“Go, and share his people's glory,
With the ransomed crowd appear,
One that angels love to hear.”