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THE SAFETY OF ABSALOM.
"Is the young man Absalom safe" (2 Sam.
1. It was an eventful day to the king when he uttered the inquiry. Compelled, by the conspiracy of his own son, to flee from Jerusalem, hotly pursued by him, the two parties had now met in battle. The melancholy spectacle is presented of a son opposing his father-the father driven to take up arms against his son. Ere they engaged, strict had been the command of the king to deal
VOL. XII.-NO. CCCXXXV.
[London: Joseph Rogerson, 21, Norfolk-street, Strand.]
gently with the young man for his sake, and by several it was heeded; but Joab, general of the host, stayed not at the king's word, but, when he found Absalom entangled in a wood, slew him. Tidings of the victory are sent unto David, and the first messenger, it would appear, dreads to tell him of his son; but on the question being repeated to another, the truth is disclosed-the young man Absalom is dead. That day the victory was turned into mourning, so deeply did the king mourn for his son.
We may learn from this history our uncertain hold of earthly blessings. Who, but a short time since, more to be envied than David-his kingdom established, his conquests great, his family prospering, abundance his? Within a little how changed the scene!
fugitive from his own palace; his servants, his very son, conspiring against him; his restoration or death dependant, probably, on this single battle? Is it thus-is such our state, our liabilities? Are possessions now our stay-do we seek to have them increased, and to be esteemed on account of them by othersglory in them ourselves? How uncertain their tenure! "Thou fool, this night may be the voice of God to thy soul" (Luke xii. 20). Or is health our confidence? Young-does life teem with delight? we are rerry-hearted, and wonder that others sigh; but let the decree go forth-the hue of health be exchanged for sickness, a solitary chamber ours, little visited by gay companions of the day of health-how will our heart's experience write "vanity" on all that once seemed attractive in our sight: the world passeth away, and the lust thereof. One only is there the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever. Seek
ye the Lord, who changeth not; in him re- | example, whether it has been good or bad, is joice, and ye shall not be disappointed of closed, and when dangers, whether their chilyour hope. dren be prepared or unprepared, are about to break in upon them-when, whether college, business, service, or the labour of the field, be their destined employment, they have to go forth to meet the temptations that may befal them; then surely, to the thinking mind, some such inquiry as that under consideration will occur, "Is the young man, is the young woman, safe?-am I sending them into the wilderness of this world without way-marks?— am I launching them on the voyage of life without chart or compass? or have I, resting on the promise of my God, trained them, by precept and example, in the narrow way that leadeth unto life?" But another yet more solemn season when this inquiry may present itself, is the hour of a parent's departure from the world-when a family is gathered round him to receive the parting blessing-when earthly vanities grow dim, and no longer dazzle, " Are my children safe?-have I sought, during my sojourn here, so to impress on them those things of which I now feel the value, that I can leave them, in the joyful hope of meeting them in glory?" But another season may be ours. We may, in the inscrutable ways of God's providence, be called on to close the eyes of some one-some more, of our children dear to us-to follow them to the grave. How acutely then will the question come home," Is the young man safe?" Perhaps we have sought, for the one now gone, earthly honours-what are they now? Perhaps we have even desired to keep them back from the earnest pursuit of eternal thingsdreaded lest they should be too religious. What but religion is now of avail? Perhaps we have carefully attended to the body, but neglected the soul. What an empty echo will in such case be returned, as, in thought, we ask, Is the young man safe?" And this leads me to glance at the feelings to which this inquiry may then give rise: sometimes to feelings bordering on despair. What if outward and gross wickedness has been the example shown?-what if the mad rage of the drunkard, the oath of the blasphemer, has been the pattern set before the child?--what if a worldly spirit, only seeking present things, has been the parent's aim? and what if they have imbibed it, are like these parents, and yet be early taken away, what but God's mercy in Christ Jesus can save from despair? Manasseh may repent, may turn unto the Lord in time of trial and distress (2 Chron. xxxiii); but Ammon, his son, it would seem, never turns: two years close his short reign; and he is driven away in his wickedness. But, if not thus-if despair be not called for-surely regret is not out of place. What parent feels
Learn, secondly, that an evil and a bitter thing it is to depart from God. Highly favoured of the Lord, deeply had David sinned, and, yielding to the temptation of lust, reached by degrees the awful depths of adultery and murder. Penitent though he was-forgiven though he was, punishment must come "the sword shall never depart from thy house:" the child whom he loves, dies; another, by sinful indulgence, brings discord into the king's house, and is murdered by a brother; a third son rebels against him, and over his untimely end he is called to mourn. Yes, an evil and a bitter thing it is to depart from God-evil and bitter even when the soul, humbled and contrite, returns unto the Lord; but who shall tell the bitterness if not restored? What, reader, if, departing from God, your sin find you out in the world to come? there "their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched"-there will the thoughtless feel what now they feel not-what an evil and bitter thing it is to depart from God.
But we may learn also from this history that, "in wrath, God remembers mercy." He will punish-he will visit the offences of his people with the rod, and their sin with scourges; but his lovingkindness will he not utterly take from them, nor suffer his truth to fail. No, if their cry is, "I will arise, and go to my Father"-it, with truly contrite hearts, they are returning to him from whom they have deeply revolted-if, through a crucified Saviour, they are seeking access by one Spirit unto God, hear his voice with joy, "I will heal their backslidings, I will receive them graciously, I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from them :" in wrath he remembers mercy.
But we have hinted that there may have been (and most surely we may believe there was) connected with natural affection in the mind of David, and aggravating his distress, the deeper anxiety regarding the soul of his child. Had Absalom died in the hope his own heart cherished, though there had still been tears, they had not doubtless been thus bitter; but in the thought that if then taken away he would die in his iniquity, how could he but press the inquiry with increasing anxiety, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" 2. I would then, in the second place, consider the language of David as suggesting solemn inquiry, especially to the parent, the sponsor, the teacher; and I would notice some especial seasons when this inquiry may break forth from our hearts. First, let me notice the season of departure from a parent's roof-when the intimate influence of parental
RECOLLECTIONS OF A TOWN PASTOR.
not that more might have been done? Yes, | Brethren in Christ, do ye, "forgetting the the past is often sad to look back upon: only things that are behind, press towards the let it yield experience; let it stir us to more mark for the prize of the high calling of God earnest heed. Godly sorrow worketh careful- in Christ Jesus." ness, zeal, &c. (2 Cor. vii. 11); and how blessed if on such an occasion the feelings we are privileged to have, should be those of triumphant joy! What if we can say, "he is safe!"-what if the answer of prayer be manifested in our life-time, and we should know that whether our children live, they live unto the Lord; and whether they die, they die unto the Lord! Some of us may here ask, what is it to be safe in dependence upon the Spirit? I will answer, turn to the 16th chapter of Acts, verses 30-31. Yes, this it is to be safe. Do you still ask, what is it to be safe, look to the 8th chapter of Romans, verse 14; or, again do you ask-2 Cor. 5th chap., Verse 17, declares, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:" such are safe. To be on the rock, and that rock Christ-to have a refuge, and that refuge the Son of God-to have a hiding place from the wind, and that hiding place the God-man Christ Jesus-this it is to be safe here, and eternally blessed. Happy are the people that are in such a case; yea, blessed are the people that have the Lord for their
In conclusion, I would shortly draw the reader's attention to some of the means available for the instruction, and, under God's blessing, for the salvation of the young. God is a sovereign agent, and yet they who seek shall find. Foremost amongst these means, is prayer-earnest,believing, persevering prayer; then God's own word, read and applied in catechetical instruction; the solemn vow, promise, and profession, made in baptism, often recurred to with affectionate exhortation: watchfulness in companions (Ps. i), or all may be undone: attention to the public means of grace-let the young see that the Lord's day is honoured by their parentsthe sabbath a delight, not doing their own. ways, nor finding their own pleasure, nor speaking their own words (Isaiah lviii.) discipline-miserably do we fail here in this day of lawless independence-the parent's, the teacher's word must be law: Sunday and day schools-how great the blessings hence resulting, the day of God will manifest. Finally, turn we from others to ourselves. Are we safe? Think of the meaning of the term; the importance, the blessedness of a sure reply, "I know in whom I have believed."
Careless sinners! what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the destruction that cometh from far? To whom will ye flee for help, and where will ye leave your glory? ing, doubting ones! choose ye this day whom ye will serve. O cleave unto the Lord!
THE GOVERNESS-2. "DARWAY, Darway," I muttered to myself as I walked homewards, "why the name is not new to me; I have heard it somewhere before." The situation of the unprotected governess much interested me. It flashed across my mind that an old college acquaintance had married a Miss Darway in the north, and that on a tour there he had introduced me to the family. I had heard of his death some years afterwards (we never again met, or even corresponded), and that he had left his widow in very poor circumstances. Mr. Darway was an excellent and devoted clergyman, with a large living in point of population, and a very small one in point of income. He was more a beneficent than a prudent man-more generous than just: he gave where he could ill afford it. As a consequence, at his decease he left his widow with a smal hood's home a widow, with one little boy, at her huspittance. His daughter had returned to her childband's death, whose little patrimony had been spent at college, and who never had obtained any thing beyond a small Yorkshire curacy, and scarcely left enough to defray his funeral expenses, and to discharge a few household debts. He ought not to have married; yet he did so, like myriads of others, in
The Sunday after the visit referred to in the last paper the young lady, who regularly attended church, appeared in the Hudsons' pew, dressed in very decent, and in very deep, though very simple mourning. She was, as generally happened, alone; and probably signor 's benefit the preceding evening, followed by a luxurious supper, had dulled the spiritual energies of the family. Breakfast was untouched when she passed through the hall for church, and only just being removed as she returned. I was convinced this was Miss Darway, and still more so when a note containing a small sum of money was brought to me after service, in the vestry, by one of the pewopeners, and which contained the following brief sentence- With E. Darway's compliments, for the sufferers in the late fire." She had wisely not committed it to a servant, for that would have called forth her. I thought I could trace a family likeness to suspicion. I became more anxious, if possible, to see
those I had become acquainted with in the north. The following day, in visiting one of the sufferers who
had been most seriously injured by the fire, and who had been carried to a neighbouring house, I found Miss Darway at her bed side. She was kindly dressing some of the poor woman's wounds, and applying the ointment that had been ordered. A bible was lying open on a small table at the bed-side, from which she
had obviously been reading. She did not perceive my
entrance, and, startling, turned with a blushing counshe was the daughter of Mr. Darway, at whose house
tenance when I addressed her. I soon learned that
I had stayed; and that she was the blithe and prattling girl, Emma, that sat upon my knee, and took me to see her little garden. Her widowed sister-the then betrothed-was the eldest, and she the youngest of a once numerous family, and the sole survivors.
She had tried to induce her sister to come to town, in Delay-education for her little boy-the only boon she could hopes of procuring a livelihood, and a good and cheap confer upon him.
But she did not tell me what I learned from other
quarters-in fact from one of our vestrymen, who was annoyed at my reception-that the poor invalid whom she was attending was a near relative of the Hudson family, whom however they scarcely ever noticed (though the cook had called that morning to see if she would like a little broth); and who had sought to gain a precarious subsistence after her husband's death by selling toys and a little stationery. Of the existence of this relative the younger members of the family were utterly ignorant, and the cook did not know she was in any way connected with them. The fact was that on both sides there was a number of poor relations-generally a very tiresome set-and the Hudsons came to the agreement to give them no encouragement; to discard them altogether. She was a truly pious woman, and Miss Darway had thought if her sister could come and reside with the poor woman, she might help in the small business, and from her taste in drawing and her skill in fancy work, might make a few shillings. Out of her own salary she had resolved to spare her sister every farthing, and she was cheered by the prospect of having her near at hand; for she was the only friend she had in the world; and how cheerless is the world, even in its brightest days, without a friend! The news of the fire had of course deranged all her plans; but she felt anxious to do what she could for the alleviation of the old sufferer. It does not appear that she received any attention from her relatives (she was sir Barnaby's sister); though they must have known, as a matter of course, she was there. Miss Darway felt it indelicate to allude to the subject, and it was never adverted to in her presence; and, in fact, in a fortnight the remains of the poor sufferer had been consigned to the grave. Mr. Hudson's father had failed as a small draper in the very town of which Mr. Darway had been vicar, and had experienced much kindness from the good man. Young Hudson, through Mr. Darway's influence, was apprenticed to a flourishing house in Leeds, and one way or other had amassed amazing wealth, and ultimately settled in London. Mrs. Hudson was lower still. Her father-a vulgar, pompous, uneducated man, a small butcher-had been created a knight, as filling some civic office in a country corporation; a circumstance to which she often alluded. "As poor sir Barnabas used to say, or used to do, or used to think" -were common expressions. On one occasion, at a particular party, she inadvertently forgot herself. Mr. Hudson remarking that the saddle of mutton before him was exceedingly ill shaped, "Yes," she replied, "but Tims is so tiresome; we must leave him. Well, after all, no one could cut up a sheep like poor dear sir Barnaby." The husband bit his lips; some of the company looked grave; others nervously proposed a little wine. "Aye, true," said one very satirical young man, I heard that sir Barnaby always killed his own mutton." "O dear, no," said the lady, bridling up, and yet getting deeper in the mire, "not in his later years; it was always the apprentice." Perhaps these remarks may appear out of place, and scarcely in keeping with the tone of this work they are made, however, simply as illustrative of a character too often to be found-a vain, worldlyminded, silly woman.
A letter for Miss Darway was the only one left by the postman one morning about six weeks after her return from Yorkshire, and naturally excited some curiosity in the mind of Mrs. Hudson. It bore a northern post-mark; but it could not be from her sister, for it was sealed with red wax. The impress too was a crest, and the hand decidedly not that of a female; but perhaps, after all, it was a letter on business; still it wanted the stiffness and formality of an attorney's epistle, and there was no wafer. Miss Darway soon after entered the room-for Mrs. Hudson made some excuse to call her from the study; the
letter was put into her hand. Anxiously did Mrs. Hudson watch her movements as tremblingly she broke the seal, utterly unconscious who was her correspondent, and fearing some ill tidings of her sister; and beheld a violent tremor seize her whole frame, and saw, from her countenance, she was on the point of fainting. Mrs. Hudson rang for some powerful stimulant; the poor girl was by degrees so far restored as to be enabled to walk to her room-supported, however, by two servants. Mrs. Hudson-a perfect manœuverer-would have given the world to have known the contents of the letter, the first page of it which had produced such an effect, for she had not reached the second. Such a letter to one of her own daughters would have thrown the good lady into an ecstacy.
"No bad news from the north, I trust?"
"No," faltered Miss Darway, who almost instantly swooned away, dropping the letter from her hand upon the bed, which Mrs. Hudson carefully picked up, as she fancied, that the servants might read it, but which she herself could not resist doing. It contained ap offer of marriage from one whom Miss Darway had known well in early youth-with whom she had often played in life's morning-and for whom she had, as years crept on, formed a devoted attachment. The affection was quite reciprocal, though she never even guessed it; but his very narrow circumstanceshe was only an ensign in a regiment which had been long on a foreign station-entirely prevented him making any offer. She had often, almost inadvertently, turned to the army-list to find if he was still alive; but had never courage, in any of her letters home, to enquire about him. He had returned to his native village on the very day of Mrs. Darway's funeral— had seen once more the object of his dearest affections, as she stood by her mother's grave-and resolved, if possible, she should become his bride.
The letter stated that most unexpectedly he had succeeded to a good fortune, that he was resolved to leave the army, and to settle on the estate that had been left to him. He besought her to weigh the matter well; he confessed he had been in town, and had anxiously thought of calling upon her; he had seen her at church; he had watched her sedulous attention to those injured by the fire-for from her sister he heard of the catastrophe; he could not resist longer, and therefore now wrote. Carefully did Mrs. Hudson fold up the letter, and gently did she lay it on the counterpane, as if it had not been touched; and scarcely had she done so when Miss Darway started from her dream, and was much relieved by a flood of tears.
"How are you, my dearest Darway?" said Mrs. Hudson in a dulcet tone which never before had reached her ears. "I hope you are better? I fear you have been tiring your poor dear head with those insufferably noisy children. You are too attentive to them, and think too little of yourself. Do you feel ill? Shall we send for any one-for sir Henry Halford? Pray tell me how you are?-can we get any thing you would like? I trust no bad news from the north, my dear Emma? O, I wish Mr. Hudson was at home!" If poor Miss Darway had been the princess-royal she could not now have been more sedulously attended to; every thing was thought of for her. Matters were now quite altered, and Mrs. Hudson's feelings and treatment were altered also; but she is no solitary instance: she formed only one of a large class of worldly-minded persons whose feelings towards others vary according to their circumstances
* Persons who are so wellsand so satirically described by Dr. Johnson, as those who heap on patronage when it is no longer needed; or like a very weak and silly noodle, who in public always forgot his old college acquaintances while they were curates, but sought to be hand and glove with them when they rose in the ecclesiastical thermometer; his desire for intimacy increasing gradually as they arrived at the episcopal point.
It would be vain to take up the reader's time with the circumstances which intervened between this and Miss Darway's marriage, at which I had the pleasure to officiate and felt satisfied I was joining her to one who had uniformly shewn himself to be a person of very excellent principle, and who shone forth in a foreign land, where Christian principle was not very highly estimated, and amidst peculiar temptations, as a consistent Christian soldier. In their hospitable mansion the widowed sister immediately found an affectionate and welcome home; but in the space of a few months she was laid quietly by the side of her departed husband, and the little boy was soon added to the group. "The world passeth away"-their name and memorial will pass with it. In the life of Mrs. Hudson she had met with many circumstances, as we have seen, of a very tiresome nature; but perhaps with none much more so than the appearance in the gazette, of her husband's name among the list of bankrupts, to the astonishment of the many who regarded him as a Croesus, but not to that of the few who watch with the most scrupulous lynx-eyed alacrity the position of what are termed moneyed men. They foresaw what must happen. The eldest, son was quite unfit for business; the park had more charms for him than the city. The cloud, which in Mr. Hudson's eyes was scarcely perceptible, men of business saw overcasting his worldly prospects. His bankers had unexpectedly stopped payment. Some heavy speculations had turned out complete failures. His credit was gone. In twenty-four hours he returned to dinner a ruined man, who could not pay his creditors half-a-crown in the pound. Nothing fraudulent could be brought against him-quite the reverse; all his accounts were perfectly clear. To the dismay of the sons, who returned from a morning's ride, a note of apology was sent to decline going to a splendid fancy-ball in the evening, for which superb dresses had been ordered for the girls. The claret did not make its usual appearance after dinner; there was no dessert. Papa was out of sorts-very fidgetty-very silent; did not talk about the new tilbury. What was the matter ! Immediately after dinner he left the room with hurried steps, and calling his sons into the breakfast-parlour, declared that he and they were pennyless. It was a very sad-it would be cruel to call it a very tiresome-morning when, a few weeks after, the family removed from their magnificent dwelling, on the windows of which were placarded the notices that a sale of gorgeous furniture, with a choice cellar of wine, would take place in a few days. A small lodging, just barely sufficient for the family's accommodation, had been taken for a time in a suburban village; and here it was supposed they would be comparatively little known. The sons were grown up, but ill calculated for business. One had gone to Cambridge; but not liking college restraint, had left it. What were they to do? The father, at the age of fifty-six, had to begin the world afresh. What was te be done? They were reduced not merely to poverty, but to absolute want.
A somewhat roughish but still apparently beneficent man, called upon them one morning. He desired to see Mr. Hudson alone. The servant-girl announced the fact. Fearful that it was some relentless creditor, Mr. Hudson trembled at the message. The family retired. "John," said the caller as he entered, and speaking with a broad Yorkshire dialect, you and I are cousins. You have forgotten me, but I have not forgotten you. You passed me in the streets two years ago, as I was walking up Holborn-hill from Smithfield show (to do Mr. Hudson justice, he was not aware of the fact), when I stopped to speak to you. Now I'll tell you what-here are two thousand pounds for the use of your wife and family, to be repaid within ten days after I ask for it. Do the best you can with it. I do not want any acknow
ledgment; no paper between us, John-no stamps -no witness-nothing of that kind. You'll pay me ten days after I ask for it. John, your father gave me many a meal-then, a poor orphan, I knew not where to get one; and I recollect your lending me a penny one day to buy marbles, and I said— I'll repay you, Jack, with interest when I can.' Now cousin, here's a penny-that's the principle (putting one upon the table); and here's the interest (handing the notes); and now we are quits. There's as much hard cash to be got in Yorkshire by good grazing and tillage as by razors at Sheffield, or cloth at Leeds. Good morning." Mr. Hudson's astonishment was without bounds; but his cousin had left the lodgings in a moment, before he could recover. Where did he live? what was his business? how could he spare so much money? what had brought him to London? Nothing had been heard of him for years. All was a distempered dream. Mrs. Hudson entered, exclaiming, "No new misery, I hope;" for, poor woman, she trembled at every knock. The penny was on the table-the notes, genuine Bank of England, were in an old pocket-book beside it. It was no airy vision, but a substantial reality. With this timous aid the Hudsons entered on a small business, by which they obtained a very scanty income; but it did not succeed, and they were soon again in difficulties, notwithstanding the cousin's munificent gift. The sons ultimately obtained clerkships in one of the public offices at a very low salary, for they were ill calculated for work. The eldest daughter for a time continued to earn a little by teaching music in which she was a proficient; but ultimately eloped with a vagabond player, and became the prima-donna on the boards of the country theatres, and in one of their tours had unwittingly called upon the once Miss Darway for patronage. Julia obtained the situation of governess in a really pious family; not one loudly professing, but living under the sanctifying influence of religion. The seed sown by Miss Darway had for some time remained dormant, but in due season it had taken deep root, and sprung up. An attempt was made to extinguish the holy flame of religion in her soul, and, shocking to relate, by her mother; but he who had kindled the first spark caused it to shine brighter and brighter. Surrounded she was with many comforts, for which she was truly grateful; still she had not the comfort of finding the hearts of the parents at all impressed by recent events: both, sad to tell, were as worldly-minded, as careless, as far from God, as before. Adversity may humble the spirit, but it cannot change the heart: it may harden as well as soften.
The last time I heard of the Mowbrays-such was now the name of my old acquaintance, Miss Darwaythey were living most comfortably. Her husband was a leader in every good work-an active, persevering magistrate-upholding in a true spiritual sense the best interest of the church, and giving to the utmost in aid of promoting the welfare of those around him. Flora Hudson lived with them, not as a guest, but as one of the family. Mrs. Mowbray superintended her education, and sought to instil right principles into her mind. The Grange was, in fact, her home. She was not an amiable girl, and very ungrateful; still her kind benefactress did not desert her. Every recollection of unkindness had passed from Mrs. Mowbray's mind. She forgot the long and weary hours she spent in the study in square. If report tells true, many a twenty-pound note, from an anonymous friend, has found its way to No.
street, Pentonville, where it was more wanted perhaps than thankfully received.