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The Kailer family.
undoubted authority. I cannot expect that they will awaken interest on any other ground than simply that they tend to illustrate the truth of the Bible, and justify the ways of God to man. I have often thought that there is constantly occurring, in every city, and town, and neighbourhood, in the various dealings and dispensations of divine Providence, abundant and satisfactory proof of the truth of all the great doctrines of the Bible, if those dealings and dispensations were only observed and recorded in connexion with the conduct of the individuals whom they principally affect.
There was a family of whom I had some knowledge in my childhood, that resided on the margin of one of those beautiful little lakes that give increased beauty to the upland and undulating scenery of the remote western range of towns in the state of Massachusetts. There was much in the scene spread around—the finely cultivated fields, the rich orchards laden with fruit, the still and glassy waters of the lake, and the distant rugged mountain side, upon which sometimes the sunbeams played, and at others the dark storm was cradled—there was much to lift up the heart to God and holy things. But though the natural scenery of the spot was so beautiful, the voice of instruction, that seemed to emanate from every surrounding object, was lost upon the family to whom I have alluded.
Mr. Kailer was the father of five sons and one daughter, all of whom had passed the period of childhood, and
were entering upon life. The family were in possession of considerable property; and Mr. K. in the commencement of his career, was regarded as a respectable man. Very soon, however, after he became a father, he absented himself altogether from the house of God. The Sabbath became a day of amusement. His children were permitted to grow up with loose views of religious obligation; they soon became addicted to profanity; their Sunday frolics led them to many acts of aggression upon the property of the surrounding neighbours. The mother and father seemed alike indifferent to the moral character of their children; they were allowed to take free range, unrestrained by parental authority; they consequently grew up in idleness, without any ideas whatever of self-government, or scarcely of moral accountability. That the depraved propensities of the hu
History of the Kailer family.
man heart, unchecked and unrestrained, should burst forth at an early period into many acts of malignity and guilt, is precisely what might have been expected.
Mr. Kailer had always been distinguished for a species of artifice and double-dealing in all his business transactions. But now, when his sons had grown up around him, with depraved dispositions fully developed, all his tact and cunning were constantly put into requisition to screen them from public indignation and the righteous vengeance of the law. By this very circumstance his own character was continually deteriorating; and his children, countenanced by such an example, and unchecked by any parental reproof, made rapid strides in the highway of sin. They had a natural quickness of wit and brightness of intellect, but all their powers were directed to purposes of evil. This family became the bane of the neighbourhood in which they resided, and the dread of the whole town. It might be literally said of them, that “their hand was against every man.
Commencing with acts of petty aggression, through mere wantonness, or to dissipate the ennui of a life of idleness, they kept on in the way of iniquity till they became proficients in crime, and a most abandoned set of desperadoes.
Such was this family twenty years since. I recently visited the place of their former residence, and was strikingly reminded of the graphic delineation which the psalmist has given of the end of such men. “I myself have seen the ungodly in great power, and flourishing like a green bay tree. I went by, and lo! he was gone; I sought him, but he could nowhere be found.”
This was literally true of the family I have described. There was but one of the name left; and I found him in the hut of poverty, clothed with rags, and the victim of intemperance. And as he stood before me, awakening the recollection of past events that were identified with his name and character, I seemed to see a practical commentary upon
the declaration, transgressors shall be destroyed together; and the end of the ungodly is, that they shall be rooted out at the last." His father and mother had died a wretched death. His sister had married a man like her brothers, hardened in crime; and the grass had long grown over her mouldered bones. His brothers had all been con
Visit to Mrs. Kailer at the time of her death.
pray with her.
victed of offences of a high penal character; and the last lingering associates of his childhood had recently died in the state's prison. What a proof are these facts, that the
of transgressors is hard. What a demonstration, that parents who neglect the religious instruction of their children, and set before them examples of carelessness and irreligion, will inevitably in the end bring their offspring along with themselves down to hell !
Do you wish to know what were the views and reflections of these individuals in their last dying moments ? In all this dark group, there was not one that had so many softening shades and redeeming traits of character as the mother, Mrs. Kailer. One who was present when she expired thus describes the death-bed scene :
“ It was in the depth of winter; the snow had buried the earth in one deep incrustation of white ; and the wind swept bleakly around my dwelling, when I was roused, at the hour of four in the morning, with a message that Mrs. K. was dying, and that she desired that some one should
As there was no minister in the place, I immediately obeyed the summons.
“ The moon had set, but the stars, which shone with uncommon brightness, and the snow with which the earth was covered, enabled me to pursue my course without difficulty. Still there was a solemn and shadowy appearance that hung over the whole face of nature, which filled me with indescribable emotions of melancholy. I could not but think of the sad errand on which I was going. The stillness of the hour, the dreariness of the surrounding scene, and the peculiar associations that were connected in my mind with the dusky walls of the habitation to which I was directing my steps, together with the anticipated scene of a sinner dying in despair, caused me to start back with momentary indecision as I placed my foot upon the threshold of the Kailer dwelling. It was, however, the call of duty. I entered. Every part of the house seemed in confusion. In the room of the sick and dying woman, was the husband traversing the floor backwards and forwards, in apparent agitation. By the fire sat two of the sons, seemingly vacant in thought, and indifferent to the scene passing around them. The daughter stood by the
An impenitent sinner's death-bed.
bed-side, as though waiting to render some further ofice of kindness to her dying mother. I went in as noiselessly as possible, and sat down by the fire.
« The scene I then witnessed I shall never forget. I never saw such an expression of inward torture depicted upon any features. The dark history of this family came up before me in an instant. I could not but remember that these parents had abetted and connived at all the wickedness and guilt with which their children had been stained. I addressed myself to Mrs. Kailer; spoke of the purity and holiness of God, of the accountability of man, his corruption and need of a new birth, and the rich provisions of the gospel. While I was speaking, the working of the muscles of her countenance seemed as though the recollection of all her past sin was rising to view, and as though conscience, awakened from her slumbers, was charging upon a mother's neglect the ruin of her family. My own heart almost died within me at the thought. I spoke to her of Jesus—his mercy and love to perishing sinners. But she shook her head, as though she thought there was no mercy for her. I inquired,
«• Do you feel resigned to the idea of dying ?'
“Her reply was, • I must be reconciled to it, for I feel that even now I am dying.'
66 • But, Mrs. Kailer, if our hearts are given up to God, and we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have a promise that though our sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.' Can you not look to the Saviour for refuge and protection ?'
“She again shook her head and groaned, but made no reply. I kneeled down and prayed, commending her spirit to the compassionate Jesus. When I arose, I again asked,
6. Can you not look unto Christ, and will you not lift up your soul to him for mercy ?'
“But the ear I was addressing could no longer hear human sounds. Her eyes, now glassy, were rolling in death. For a little moment the vital principle seemed to linger; and then it was gone for ever. As I thought of the account she had gone to render, a fearful darkness came over me, and I hurried away from the gloomy scene, lest my feelings should quite overcome me.”
Account of the Conley family.
Such was the account given me of the last moments of Mrs. Kailer. Allow me briefly to sketch the outlines of the history of another family that resided in the same neighbourhood.
Mr. Conley lived upon an adjoining farm. He had the same number of children, but less pecuniary means than his neighbour. In one important particular, his character was in striking contrast with that of Mr. Kailer's. He was a pious man. He acknowledged God in all his ways, He worshipped him in his own dwelling. He honoured him by hallowing his Sabbaths, and visiting his temple. He and his partner were united in the service of the Redeemer. They gave up their children in infancy to the Lord. They trained them in his “ nurture and admonition.” And the result was, that their children chose the ways of religion, and in early life entered upon the service of the Redeemer.
Twenty years had brought about great changes in this family. Several of them had fallen beneath the strong hand of death. But I learned that every member of the family had lived respected and beloved, and that those who had passed from the present scene had left the brightest evidence that they had gone to their eternal rest. An eyewitness gave me the following account of Mrs. Conley's death :
“She had been an eminently pious woman, and had exerted all of a mother's influence to train her children in the way they should go. Her last illness was a violent attack of fever, which rendered her delirious and insensible till near the close of life. A few days before her decease the cloud passed from her mind, and her reason was fully restored. One of her sons at the time was in the room. She called him to her side, inquired how long she had been sick, what was her complaint, and what the prospect of her recovery. She then asked to be left alone for a few moments, which she spent in solemn prayer to God, that he would prepare her soul for an entrance into his blessed kingdom.
After this, she requested that her husband and all the family might be assembled. She then told them, with the utmost composure, that she was convinced that this was her last sickness, and that she wished to have all her