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Proceedings in the village of s
bered the Most High, and made frequent mention of his
It was pleasant, amid so much prevailing indifference and irreligion, to find some whose hearts were filled with the love of God. By their request I frequently preached in the place, during my temporary stay there. At first, there was but a handful gathered together; but soon there was as many as could be well accommodated in the house. The place of our meeting was a plain Methodist church; and from time to time I perceived among those who frequented these assemblies people of fashion, whose gay costume and whole appearance showed they belonged to the city, and that they stopped here merely for purposes of retirement and health.
It was my desire and endeavour on these occasions to proclaim the plain fundamental truths of the gospel. It did not appear at the time that any particular benefits resulted from these efforts. And when I left this village, I did not know that any soul had been improved by my residence there.
More than three months had elapsed; I was actively engaged in the various pastoral duties connected with a large city congregation. One day, a carriage drove to my door, and a stranger was announced, as desirous to see me. The circumstance excited no surprise, as it was one of almost daily occurrence. Scarcely a day passes in New York in which the Christian minister is not called upon to perform some parochial duty for those whom he has never before seen, and whom he will never again meet. This stranger, however, desired the privilege of a private audience; when he briefly informed me that he had called to request me to pay a visit to a sister of his, who was sinking rapidly down to death. Many years since she had made a profession of religion, but now she felt wretched and almost in a state of despair. And her present feelings she in some measure attributed to a sermon she had heard from me, during the preceding summer, in the village of S
I immediately stepped into the carriage, and soon reached one of the most fashionable parts of the city. There, as I entered a princely mansion, and passed through its elegant drawing-rooms, fitted up by their decorations and furniture with a degree of splendour and style that would have graced
Visit to Mrs. M
a palace, I felt how awfully responsible was my situation, and could not but lift up my heart in secret to God, that he would enable me to speak out the plain, unvarnished truth; that he would deliver me from that “ fear of man which bringeth a snare.” I was at length conducted to the chamber of Mrs. M
My first impression was that of sad disappointment. Every thing looked totally unlike what I had ever before seen in a sick room. In the rooms occupied by Mrs. M- , there was a small elegant couch, which was the only thing that indicated that these rooms were the apartments of an invalid. In all other respects these apartments bore the appearance of magnificent and costly drawing
Mrs. M—, who was sitting in an easy chair, rose to receive me with all the assumed cheerfulness of one who was welcoming a fashionable guest to the hospitalities of her house. My heart sickened within me at this pomp and parade. The reflection instantly rose to my mind, How sad it is, that the thoughts of a poor, dying creature, who, in a few days will stand before the bar of God, should be occupied with such trifles and vanities ! Yet Mrs. M— was truly a kind, amiable, and lovely woman. And all this parade was rather the result of habit than of any studied arrangement.
Determined to be faithful to my Master, I told Mrs. M-I made this visit in compliance with her request, and should deem myself happy, could I in any way contribute to the promotion and furtherance of her eternal salvation. I was struck with the sudden change which her countenance and whole demeanour underwent. She no longer sat before me as one studying to make herself agreeable by the usual artifices of etiquette and form, but as a plain, simple-hearted woman, occupied with one great and engrossing subject. That single remark seemed to have called up before her, in an instant, all the unseen realities of the eternal world.
With deep feeling and half choked utterance she replied, "I do need the prayers and counsel of some one to direct me to the way of life.” I then begged her to tell me what her present feelings were, and give me a brief sketch of the past.
6. The reason I sent for you,” said she, “ was that I heard a strange sermon from you at S- last summer, and I have never been at ease since.”
6. And what was there strange in the sermon ?" said I.
“I know not,” she replied, " but the same things had before been proclaimed in my hearing, but they never till then struck me in that light. I was spending several weeks
-, and hearing that there was to be preaching at the Methodist chapel, merely to obtain some variety in the monotonous mode of life I was spending, I determined to go. Your sermon took in these several subjects ; the utter depravity of mankind; the need of an entire moral renovation; the operation of the Holy Spirit in accomplishing this work; and justification alone by faith in Christ. You stated, in broad terms, that the most amiable and virtuous were by nature the children of wrath,' and that unless they were changed by the renewing grace of God, and led to build all their hopes upon Christ crucified, they would go down to drink for ever the wrath of Jehovah. You then described the feelings and views of one brought into a state of justification and life. I felt that I knew nothing about such a state. The thought troubled me. I tried to get rid of the impression. I said to myself, this is all rant and enthusiasm.
“ But still, I know not why, I felt alarmed about myself. What I had heard occurred to me after I returned home. I repeated my prayers as usual, and tried to sleep; but sleep fled from my eyes. The thought was constantly darting in upon mind, and the sound ringing in my ear, you are on the way to ruin. Several days had now passed by, and the uneasiness I had at first felt had in some measure subsided, when returning from a morning's walk, I carelessly threw myself on the sofa, at one end of which I found a tract. To pass away a few idle moments, I began to read it. Soon my attention became riveted. Precisely the same views I had heard in your sermon were set forth. I could not but say to myself, surely what so many are trying to inculcate as truth deserves an examination. I will, therefore, look seriously into the matter.
“ As soon as I returned to the city, however, I again began to move in the same track of gayety, and to řgure in the same circles of fashion. But being suddenly seized
Second visit to Mrs. M
with an inflammation in the lungs, my physician told me I must not think of venturing out again during the fall or winter. This restriction somewhat alarmed me, and I determined that I would avail myself of the present season to examine the foundation of my hopes. I accordingly began to read the Bible with a direct reference to the truth or falsehood of the doctrines that had troubled me, but with the full hope and expectation that I should find all my apprehensions put to rest. I soon perceived, however, that those obnoxious doctrines were plainly taught in the sacred volume. The conclusion which then irresistibly fixed itself upon my mind was- I am all wrong, and shall be eternally ruined. The more I read the Bible, the more I was convinced of this.
“ As to my health, what at first appeared temporary disease has now acquired the fixed character of pulmonary affection. I see that I am soon to die, and I feel that I am all unprepared. I am now convinced that the doctrines you preached are true. My own vileness, and guilt, and ruin, now stare me in the face. And I have sent for
you, to inquire whether you think that there is any hope, that one whose sins are so numberless as mine can attain to a state of justification in Christ?"
Such was the substance of the coinmunication I received at the first interview. On a second visit, Mrs. M
gave me some account of her early history, and the manner in which she was led to make a profession of religion.
It was in a season of affliction and sore bereavement. Her beloved mother had been torn from the family circle, and committed to the silent sepulchre. Grief had rived Mrs. M- -'s heart. Already was she clad in the habiliments of mourning, and by the usages of society would be excluded for many months from the scenes of gayety and fashion. The minister of God counselled her to seek relief and solace in the consolations of religion. Under the influence of these feelings, and without a single adequate idea of the nature or evil of sin, or of the need of a Saviour, she united with the church, and was admitted to its ordi
As her grief subsided, the love of the world returned. Soon she entered the giddy circle of pleasure, and there was no scene of amusement in a dissipated city, from the theatre to the card party, in which she did not
make a conspicuous figure. Adverting to this, she remarked,
Though I had solemnly professed to renounce the pomps and vanities of the world, and was month after month approaching the table of the Lord, I was all the time living this vain, wicked, pleasure-taking life. Indeed, while I was still in darkness, the inconsistency of my conduct appeared so palpable to me, that I determined that I would approach the communion table no more. What led me to this determination was the following incident: I had just returned from church, where I had been participating in the solemn ordinance of the Lord's supper, when a servant came in, and by an act of carelessness broke an ornament standing on the mantle-piece. I rebuked her in a tone of highly irritated feeling. My husband, who did not profess to be a religious man, laughingly said to me, I do not see but you religious people are as quickly ruffled, and are as much attached to the pomps and vanities of the world, as the rest of us.' I felt that this was a stinging reproof; but it was productive of no other result than the angry
determination that I would no more partake of the sacrament. 0, it is wonderful that I am yet in the land of the living, and that God's wrath has not been poured out upon me to the uttermost. And, alas ! I fear there are many in this gay city living in the same way that I was, and under the same fatal delusion. Why do not ministers tell them the truth more plainly?”
At a third interview, when the first rays of hope began to dawn upon her troubled soul, while the ravages of disease were making rapid advances towards the seat of life, she remarked, “If I should attain this great blessingjustification through the blood of Christ-if, in the infinite mercy of God, I should be taken up into heaven, and placed with the followers of the Lamb-Oh, if through the blood of Jesus, I shall be rescued from the darkness of the pit and the prison of despair, I feel confident that through all eternity I shall look back with new ascriptions of praise to God that I ever heard those plain gospel truths from your lips. I have troubled you much, and I trust that the Saviour will recompense you for all your kindness. I have one more favour to ask.-Repeatedly have I desecrated the holy symbols of the broken and bleeding body of Jesus, by