« AnteriorContinuar »
Scene in a basement story.
titution and depression, novels had constituted the only class of books that she had looked into with pleasure.
“ But the decided piety, the changed and chastened conduct, conversation, and example of her husband, made an impression upon her mind. Religious books were put into her hands by friends, to whom she felt so deeply obligated that she could not decline reading them. These exerted a most salutary influence. • And now,' she remarked, for a considerable time I have not indulged in reading my favourite authors. Indeed, they appear so insipid and triAling I wonder how I could ever have enjoyed them. Praised be the name of the Lord that nobler pursuits, holy purposes, and heavenly hopes have fixed my mind.'
“ The transactions of that memorable evening I leave, only remarking, that I never partook of that holy supper more to my comfort-never before enjoyed such near communion with the blessed Saviour, or was so sensible of his exceeding great love to me and all the world as then.”
The hour appointed for this holy ordinance was at the close of the day, just before the setting of the sun. during the summer months, and the day proved to be very warm and sultry. In company with two or three members of the church, we proceeded to Mr. L-'s lowly abode. He was not able to visit the sanctuary of God, and there was no prospect that he ever would be. There was, therefore, a propriety in celebrating this holy supper in his habitation. The tenement he occupied was a cellar, or low basement room in Oak-street. The principal room, and the one where we were now assembled, was almost in the street, and was used as a sugar and toy store. The weather was so hot, that the windows had necessarily to be raised ; and in the street, gazing upon us, and hallooing, were troops of ragged children, from whom we could in no way be protected. For though a curtain was hung up at the windows, they did not hesitate to raise it up ever and anon, to see what was passing within.
Feeble in health, debilitated under the influence of the heat, and exposed to this most annoying rudeness, I expected but little comfort; but seldom did a communion appear more solemn, or my enjoyment rise higher than on the present occasion. The manner in which my friend closed her account of this subject prompted me to request a more particular description of the impression made upon her mind by the solemnities of this occasion. Without attempting to convey an idea of the appearance which this family presented at this interesting moment, I will simply here insert an extract from the reply I received to my request.
“ The day appointed for the Lord's supper was favourable. When we arrived all things were in readiness. The little room wore on that occasion an aspect of unwonted order and cleanliness. All was neat and tidy. We proceeded immediately to the service. But really, sir, I was so taken up with my own feelings-my attention was so coinpletely absorbed by what was passing in my own breast, and by holy intercourse with God, that I noticed nothing scarcely around me, and am, therefore, altogether incompetent to describe this solemnity ; or if I should say any thing, I fear it would appear exaggerated ; for to me all was pure, all was holy, all was full of God and heaven. The blessed Saviour welcomed us to that feast of love. He presided there. He made his presence to be felt by every waiting heart before him.
He refreshed our hungry souls with the bread of life : for he imparted from his own fulness, grace, light, love, joy, peace, purity, yes,
all the blessings that he, by his precious blood-shedding, has obtained for us. That was exalted communion indeed, when his voice whispered to the soul, Thou art mine henceforth. I have purified thee unto me as a peculiar Thou art the purchase of my cross.
Now return to me that love which is my due.' O gracious words! and I trust every one replied, Dear Saviour, take my poor heart, and let it be for ever closed to all but thee. Amen."
In the subsequent history of this family we shall find a happy illustration of the meaning and truth of that declaration of the prophet,—" They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint." Their onward course in the way everlasting was vigorous and untiring. Seldom have I seen, in any family, a happier or more striking development of all the graces of the Christian character. Mr. and Mrs. Lewson seemed constantly to cherish and cultivate a meek, and subdued, and holy spirit. Though still surrounded by all the evils of poverty—and Mr. L- still found that he could do nothing to contribute to the support of his family—they bowed submissively to the will of Heaven, and appeared uniformly cheerful and happy. When reduced to the greatest straits, then they trusted most in God, and found, by happy experience, that he was able to do what he had promised.
After the occurrences mentioned in the preceding pages, Mr. L- one day remarked to one who was conversing with him :-" In looking back on my past life I am lost in an overwhelming sense of the Lord's wisdom and holiness. What I once repined at I now rejoice in. He has led me by a way which I knew not. He dried up the
Advancement in the divine life.
streams of earthly enjoyment, every one, that I might seek my happiness in him alone. Though we have suffered in various ways, from want, care, and fear, what no one of our friends have an idea of, I see it has all been for my good and the good of my family. And I speak the language of my heart when I thankfully acknowledge that goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life. I cannot express how grateful I feel to the Lord for all his past dealings. I would not have any thing altered.”
We are sometimes disposed to acknowledge the mercy and goodness of God in past afflictions, and yet our hearts would be found rebellious, if present afflictions were laid upon us.
But it seemed to be the divine purpose to keep this family in the furnace, that they might not wander a single step from God. It was intimated in a former chapter, that the little babe that was taken from his mother's arms, and presented to the Saviour in the holy rite of baptism, had taken his flight to the eternal world. I was absent from the city at the time of this occurrence.
An extract from a letter, adverting to this circumstance, will corroborate the statement before made in relation to the evident advancement that Mr. L
was now making in the divine life.
6. When I entered the house on Monday, Mrs. Lcame up to me, pressed my hand, and then turned away and wept bitterly. I looked at Mr. L- -, who soon replied, • We have lost our little babe since we saw you. He died the Saturday of that week you left the city.' After describing all the circumstances of his sickness with that particularity and deep feeling which we naturally expect from a parent, I said, •How did you feel when you saw the spirit of the child was fled ?'
"The Lord,' he replied, gave me sweet composure of soul, and entire resignation to the divine will. I followed him in thought to the realms of glory, and saw him admitted into the society of the redeemed. I am confident he is now before the throne, singing a new song to Him that
sitteth thereon, and to the Lamb. I rejoice that he has gone safely into rest before me. Some slight perception of the happiness upon which he has entered has removed all painful sensations at parting with him. O thanks be for ever ascribed to the Saviour, who has removed the sting of death, by bringing life and immortality to light.'
“ Is not this the triumph of faith? This man has surely grown in grace constantly during the last few months. He has taken a firm, decided stand on the Lord's side. He appears like a deep, experimental, practical Christian. He is a bright living witness of the benefit of affliction. And the success which in this case crowned the efforts of those who sought to lead him to the Lord, should be a constant incentive to every one to deal faithfully with those to whom they have access.
When that fearful scourge which has desolated so many parts of the earth had, during the summer of 1832, emptied New York of more than half of its population, and converted that bustling city into a scene of comparative solitude, many families were left, not only to be the prey of that destroyer, but to contend with all the evils of utter destitution and want. And among this number was the family of poor Lewson. He was residing in a street and neighbourhood where this fatal disease made great and awful ravages. The last time that I ever met him was a few months after this dark cloud of death had passed over. I asked him what were his reflections in the midst of the mortality that surrounded him. I shall never forget the pathetic manner in which he depicted that awful scene.
“ I could not get out of the house," said he, “and we had not the means of removing into the country, or of sustaining ourselves there, even if I had been able to walk. For a few days, after ten or twelve began to die each day right round us, things appeared gloomy. But when this dreadful mortality continued week after week, and they would come in and tell me that such an one was dead on this side of us, and such an one on that—and a third, and