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Mrs. S—. She, who lies there, poor girl, was my only daughter. You see she died young; and her husband died young; but, alas! their history is fraught with remembrances that wring this old and withered heart of mine with keen and unspeakable anguish."
To an effort to offer him condolence, he mournfully replied, “ You cannot comfort me; I will tell you
their history, and then you will see that you cannot comfort me.
Jane, as I have said, was my only daughter; and in natural endowments, in amiability, and sweetness of temper, she was all that a fond father could have desired. She married young, and in the opinion of the world, well. Her husband, Mr. S-was of a highly respectable family, and in easy circumstances.
“ But my dear child still wanted one thing, the absence of which occasioned me inconceivable distress. Often, on my bended knees, did I fervently implore for her the gift of God's heavenly grace ; often did I warn and entreat her to seek the salvation of her never-dying soul. But, like thousands of others, while I expostulated with her, she seemed affected; and the next moment, as she turned to the world, she became spell-bound by its fascinations, and drawn into the midst of its gayeties and follies. This worldly influence the more readily predominated over her, from the circumstance that her husband was exceedingly fond of a life of gayety and pleasure. And I now learned, for the first time, that he held very loose notions upon the subject of experimental religion, having embraced the unscriptural and preposterous belief, that all men, in a future world, will be equally happy, whatever may have been their lives and habits in this. Still, Mr. Sproved a kind and affectionate husband, and maintained in society a character for great integrity. He was also usually an attendant upon public worship.
6 About four years after the marriage of my daughter, the Rev. Mr. A- who is now settled among us, came to our village. He is a man who preaches with eternity full in his view; and as though heaven and hell were passing right before his eyes. His preaching was greatly blessed through the whole parish. Many aged sinners were roused from their long slumbers of sin, and led for the first time anxiously to inquire what they should do to
Mr. and Mrs. S
be saved. His words went home to the breasts of the young with power and effect. I shall never forget the earnestness of his appearance, the impressiveness of his manner, the overwhelming force of his appeals, and the solemnity of the audience, one Sunday afternoon. His discourse was upon
• the danger of deferring the business of religion. I believe that he made every procrastinator feel that he stood upon the most dangerous ground.
"I preach,' said he, to a dying people ; I preach to some who will never again hear the message of life proclaimed to them. It has been so on former occasions. I can distinctly recollect several individuals, who within three months were my auditors, that are now in eternity. And I have no doubt there are individuals here who will never again enter an earthly temple, but will go to the judgment bar of Christ with this very sermon ringing in their ears. And are you ready to go? Are you prepared to meet your God?'
• Proceeding in this strain, he drew with awful distinctness the last judgment scene, and represented himself as standing in the midst of his flock as they were ranged before that dread bar. There remained few dry eyes in the house. My dear Jane was among the hearers. I perceived that her heart was touched.
“ The next morning she came to me, in great distress, to know how she might escape the wrath to come. She seemed deeply impressed with the conviction that this was the last opportunity she would ever enjoy to turn to God. The Rev. Mr. A- saw her frequently, and endeavoured to give permanency to her religious impressions. There were many that felt anxious for her salvation, and that called to speak to her about the great interests of eternity. All this, however, displeased and irritated her husband; and in order to remove her entirely from the circle of this religious influence, he started with her upon a journey to a distant place, and there most sedulously sought to win her back again to her former thoughtlessness, and life of pleasure. And, alas ! by the daily contact and influence of a circle of fashionable friends, his effort proved too successful. When Jane returned, all her seriousness was gone, and she was the same gay and thoughtless being as before. She had, indeed, slighted the last call of divine mercy !
Death of Mrs. S
“ The third day after her return, she was seized with a violent fever, from which she never recovered. In the first attack of her disease she became delirious, and continued so through the whole of her illness. During all that time there was but one short lucid interval in which she saw things as they were, and realized the actual state of her situation. This occurred about two hours before her death She seemed to have just awoke from a dream. She had a distinct recollection of the solemn warnings that had been addressed to her—the effort that the Holy Spirit had made to draw her from the paths of death-the deep concern she had experienced--and the heaven-provoking expedients to which she had resorted, to disencumber her mind from the distress which had been occasioned by a view of her sins.
“She was soon made to comprehend that her illness was very severe, and that but small hopes could be entertained for her recovery. And then the thought seemed instantly to dart across her mind, that her case was hopeless and her doom sealed. We all stood around her bed as she asked her husband to come close by her side, and mournfully said,
". I wish to speak to you a few words with my dying breath. I shall not live. I feel that my days are numbered. And then I fear that my soul will sink down into everlasting burnings. I have from my childhood resisted the strivings of God's Spirit, and slighted all the calls of mercy; and a few weeks since, when I was so deeply impressed with a view of my sinfulness, I had the fullest persuasion, that if I did not then turn to God with my whole heart, I should perish for ever. And so it will turn out. Oh, my husband, believe me—there is a heaven there is a hell! Do not trifle with your salvation any longer. Look upon me, and see how wretched is the being who dies without hope. My day of grace is over-and I am going, I am going, impenitent, unchanged, unpardoned, to the judgment bar to receive my awful sentence. Oh, how shall I go! Hold me hold me.'
“ Here her mind again wandered; reason was no longer at the helm, and her eyes continued to roll in wild vacancy, until they became glassy and motionless in death. Thus did my Jane, the pride and idol of my heart, sink down
Account of Mr. S
amid clouds and darkness, leaving not a gleam of hope behind to cheer and comfort the sad heart of a fond father!
“Her death, however, and her last appeal seemed to produce a great and decided effect upon Mr. S. From the day of her funeral he appeared to be another man. He renounced his skeptical notions, bid adieu to the scenes of gayety, and seemed in earnest in his purposes to lead a new and holy life. Still he took no step, by which he might give a pledge of his future devotedness to the service of his Maker, and impart increased permanency to his present purposes of amendment. On this subject I at several times expostulated with him, and represented to him the danger of keeping back, and not coming out boldly on the Lord's side.
“ The last conversation of this kind that I had with him, was just before the administration of the rite of confirmation in our village. Many, who had once been companions with him in pleasure and dissipation, were now bowed to the earth in penitence, and were intending to dedicate themselves to God in that holy ordinance, in a solemn covenant never to be forgotten. I urged it upon him to be one of the number. The reason he assigned for hesitating was, that he had not yet had sufficient time to test the sincerity of his own heart in the matter.
“ The truth was, that he had never submitted his heart to God. His affections still clung to the world. too proud to bow at the foot of the cross. This the issue showed. By degrees his serious impressions wore off. He imperceptibly glided into his former practices, and fell in with his former associates ; and but a few years had elapsed, before Mr. S. was as far gone in the way of perdition as ever.
“I once undertook to expostulate with him, but it was of no avail. He frankly avowed to me, that it was his full belief that our conduct here could not exert the slightest influence upon our happiness or unhappiness hereafter, and that he very much questioned whether there were any hereafter. These sentiments I was confident he had embraced, not from reason and reflection, but for the purpose of quieting a tortured conscience. He had become greatly addicted to gaming. This led to the kindred vices of drinking and dissoluteness. It was his attachment to these
pleasures and this mode of life, that drove him to the adoption of these skeptical views. This appeared at last by his own voluntary confession.
“ One cold, dark night I was called out of bed to go to see Mr. S—, who was thought to be dying. I threw on my clothes and hurried to his lodgings, where I found him suffering great pain of body, and inconceivable agony of mind. His habits had brought on a sudden inflammatory attack, which threatened immediate dissolution. I went in, and sat silently down by his bed. He stretched out his hand, and convulsively clasped mine, and then said,
6. I hardly know why I have sent for you; for you can do me no good. No one can any longer do any thing for
I believe you have been my friend, and have ever sought my well-being. I am conscious I have ill requited your kindness. Perhaps, however, I should have been reckless even of this, did I not remember that you was the father of her who was all the world to me, and who, with her dying breath, adjured me to seek the salvation of my soul. That counsel, as you well know, I have not heeded. It has not been, however, because I did not believe in the truths of the Bible, and the realities of eternity, although I often assigned this to you as the reason. But with all my efforts to disbelieve the word of God—and this I have most sedulously endeavoured to do, for I plainly perceived that if that volume declared the truth, I was sure of perdition ;-yet with all my efforts to disbelieve the record of God, I could never divest myself of the awful apprehension of the realities of a judgment bar. And now I feel as assured that there is a judgment to come, and a burning hell into which the wicked will be plunged, I feel as fully assured of it, as though they were objects of actual vision! It was pride, and the natural rebellion of my unsubdued heart, that led me to reject your counsel when you urged me to bind myself to the service of God in the rite of confirmation. Oh had I done it—had I then cherished my seriousness, and put myself under the salutary restraint of an assumed baptismal vow, I might have been saved from this hour of despair, and from the unending horrors that hang over the history of the damned! It was pride, and the natural rebellion of my unsubdued heart, that led me to neglect the dying counsel of my dear, and I fear for ever