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Mercy of God.
within him, and he shed bitter tears over what he called their hard lot.
But all this bitter trial was necessary to subdue and soften his heart. The Lord even now was looking upon him in kindness. He raised up for this family a kind friend in Miss H—, who was untiring in her efforts to procure relief for them. But for her assiduous attention, and persevering importunity among her friends, this family must have suffered and perhaps perished during several long and severe winters. They were absolutely without food, fuel, or clothing, save what came to them through this channel. The Lord, however, was overruling all this. In her benevolent efforts for this family, Miss H- communicated the story of their sufferings to Miss T―, a young, lady whose heart, imbued with the love of Jesus, was prepared to be touched with sympathy for the sufferings of her fellow men, and ardently bent upon relieving them. Divine Providence had conferred upon her many and signal blessings. She belonged to a family of wealth and influence. She had the entire control of her time, and ample pecuniary means to relieve the necessitous and distressed. Though young, accomplished, and interesting, she sought not her happiness in the circles of fashion and gayety, but in the hovels of the poor, where, like a ministering angel, she went from cellar to cellar, on an errand of mercy, imparting relief and comfort to the children of wretchedness and wo.
But it was to the souls of her fellow beings that she chiefly sought to do good. And the judgment hour alone will reveal the multitude that through her kind instrumentality were turned from the darkness of sin to the light of God's glorious truth. No sooner was Miss T- made acquainted with the situation and circumstances of this family, than she took them under her especial care and superintendence. While from week to week she sought to relieve their bodily wants, she sought still more earnestly to bring spiritual relief to their souls. She told them of the blessed Comforter-of Jesus the friend of sinners, and of
the bread which cometh down from above. Her sensibilities were all awake in their behalf. At length, after having some time sought to lead them to Christ, she came to her pastor to go and visit this family. At this time they lived in a remote part of the town. I have never, however, since regretted the long walk I was obliged to take to see this family, nor the occasion which first brought me acquainted with them.
"For what was call'd
But it threw off her borrowed garb, and lo!
With her sweet influence was there. She still'd
PREVIOUS to my giving an account of my first interview with this family, I will transcribe a part of a letter which I received from Miss T, in answer to some inquiries I had made in reference to them.
“MY DEAR SIR,—I rejoice that the thought suggested in your note has been put into your heart, and I am equally glad of the request you made of me; for, although I can add but very little, if any, to the stock of information you already possess on this subject, yet I am conscious that the recollection of the Lord's dealings with that family will be very beneficial to my own soul. And I should probably never have traced the leadings of Providence in this instance, had I not been in this way called to it.
It was a comfortless afternoon in the winter of 1825. The snow was falling fast, when Miss H-called for me to visit, with her, a poor family, who had lately come under her notice. We found them in a dark, damp cellar in Wash
ington-street, in the most deplorable state. Mr. Lewson was lying on the bed, with his back towards us; nor did he notice us at all. It seemed as if he wanted to hide himself from human sight. Never before had I witnessed such absolute poverty, (since then I have), nor ever seen such despair and wo depicted upon any countenance as on that of Mrs. LThe tears flowed without intermission, while, with great modesty, she made known their destitute situation. And the feeling of her heart was, though but half expressed, 'We shall never have comfort more.' And alas, she had no bright inheritance to which she could direct the eye of faith in a world to come. In her I saw literally fulfilled, the melancholy state of those described by the apostle, having no hope, and without God in the world.' I have often been led to contrast their wretchedness and despondency at this time with the cleanliness, neatness, and comfort which marked their little room at our last interview with them, and I could not but remark with the young cottager, Blest religion, by which we live with comfort, as well as with comfort die.""
I have introduced this extract to give the reader some faint idea of the abject misery to which this family were now reduced. It was more than three years subsequent to the date adverted to in this letter, when I paid my first visit to them. Their condition was somewhat improved; but when it is recollected, that they subsisted entirely upon charity, it will excite no surprise when I say that every thing around them indicated extreme poverty. Mr. Lewson was now rather more comfortable, and through the unwearied efforts of the two benevolent females whom I have mentioned, had begun to consider his own ways, and the meaning of God's dealings with him. He said but little, though he listened attentively to the conversation I addressed to him. It seemed as though his heart had just begun to relent and soften, though there was evidently much rebellion and darkness in it still.
The designs of God in affliction.
I endeavoured to impress upon his mind the solemn conviction, that all his afflictions had come from God-that the Almighty was taking this method to save his soulthat, therefore, in this series of calamities that had overtaken him, God had anifested far more kindness, than if he had allowed him to glide on smoothly down the stream of prosperity; but that these afflictions, so far from doing him any good, would only increase his guilt, and deepen his eternal damnation, if he was not led by them to throw down the weapons of his rebellion, and surrender himself into the hands of God.
I assured him that as long as he continued to dictate, and murmur, and find fault, the hand of God would continue to lie heavy upon him—that he must submit, and be willing that God should reign, and dispose of all things according to the counsel of his own will-that if he would only open his eyes upon his own sinfulness, and be humbled under the view of it-if he would only fly to the foot of the cross, and fix the streaming eye of faith and penitence upon the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, peace and comfort would dawn upon his troubled soul!
To these words he listened with great attention and with evident symptoms of feeling. After looking up to the eternal throne, in prayer, for a divine blessing, I took my leave. This, like a hundred other families whom I had occasionally visited, was not under my parochial care; and as my time was completely occupied with the duties of my own charge, several months passed away before I heard any thing more of them. My young friend, who watched over this family from week to week, and hailed with delight every indication of seriousness, thus writes in reference to the effect of that first visit, and the early steps by which Mr. Lewson's mind was led to lay hold of the things of eternity.
"That was a very memorable era in the history of their religious experience, when the minister of the Lord Jesus