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  • 1861
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While midnight shadows blended,
And nature seem’d to sleep,
Me, angel watchers tended,
Who always vigil keep;
I felt them hov’ring o’er me,
Though hidden from my view;
A veil was spread before me,
But is the thought less true?
Watch’d by these heavenly strangers, ‘Who all my paths attend,’
And oft from foes and dangers,
My progress would defend;
O give me circumspection
To guard against the foe,
Then, sure of their protection,
I on to conquest go.

“Only nine present at the class. I spoke to them, but felt the effect upon my feeble body for two days afterward; yet it was good to talk to them of the love of Jesus.–I have been exercised by the common foe; depressed in feeling, but never left without the power to draw near to God in prayer. Thank God, for some days past my spirit has been revived; and this morning my heart is trusting in the Lord, Glorious news from America! The Lord is saving by thousands. O that the breath of heaven may reach our own shores!”

O time how precious I what a load misused! To catch its flight is wise; to waste or loiter, folly. Reader, and writer, mark! Thy time escapes: To give it now a name is golden, gain.
Oh! with true wisdom print thy passing hours, So shall eternity proclaim thy fame.

“My two sons, William and John, set forth to welcome their brother Richard, just returned by the ship ‘Duncan Dunbar’–after an absence of more than twenty-one years–with a family of six children–a gracious providence having watched over him; and now the happy brotherhood will, I trust, be perpetuated, until consummated in heaven.–My son Richard, with his lovely wife and family, have arrived.–I am now seventy-six years old. How much cause of humiliation! How much cause of gratitude! Here upon my knees I give myself to Thee; I am Thine. Let Thy presence be communicated with fresh power to my soul. I do thank Thee for peace, and a full bent to please Thee.–My son Richard conducted me to my new residence on Heworth Road. Often have I changed my abode, supposing each would be the last remove: yet I tarry. All I want is to move under the smile of my heavenly Father, and to feel myself under his guiding eye.–Poorly. Inward conflicts. Went to see a person, who was once a member of my class; she is still in the way to heaven. We prayed together. Here, at the throne of grace, I find myself at home. I was at my class, perhaps for the last time. God bless the dear members.”

Graven on the hand divine,
Bid me on Thy strength lay hold,
Look, believe, for Thou art mine;
Jesus makes me humbly bold.
Though Thy courts I may not tread, Thou art in my mouth, and heart;
In Thy holy book I read,
God in every place Thou art.
With more love inflame my soul,
With more fervent zeal inspire;– Faith, that can all power control,
Fill the grasp of my desire.
Let Thy word of mercy spread
Freely, all the village round:
Speak to-day, and wake the dead,
Let the lost in Thee be found.

“My friends are gone to the Sanctuary. Looking at myself in the light of the divine presence, I see imperfection stamped upon all my doings; and yet, through mercy, I have an interest in the precious blood of atonement, and long that all around me may enjoy the same salvation. While now my pen moves upon the paper, move Thou upon the hearts of the people, who have long been favoured with hearing the voice of Thy ministers. Arouse the careless; stir up Thy people; and this day pour out Thy Spirit upon us all; and now, while alone; help my infirmities; visit me, and give me increase of faith.–Inward conflicts and wandering of mind have brought me to my knees.”

To God I tell my utmost care,
And find my place of refuge there.

“By the help of the servant’s arm I got to Heworth Chapel, and heard a little, but imperfectly. My son Richard came, and conducted me home. Very faint and sick after I returned; but I know not that I ever enjoyed a more refreshing sense of God’s presence. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.–Clouds dark–rainy–trees fading–leaves falling–all things changing here; but, ‘Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.’ O, while I hold my pen in my hand, let me feel Thy presence in my heart! I have in Thee a changeless friend. Glory be to Thy name, Thou ever-blessed God! Give me more love, and knit me more closely to Thyself.–The day fine. I got to Chapel, and through mercy was no worse. A stranger kindly accompanied me home, who seems to be an inquirer after truth. My soul yearned over her, while I spoke a few words to her. O may they sink deep! In the course of reading, the words, ‘Let the peace of God _rule_ in your hearts’ especially struck me. To rule implies government; I may dwell where I have no power to rule; and the peace of God must not only be felt, but bring into subjection everything in my heart, that would oppose itself to the will of God. Praise God, my spirit longs for this complete subjection.”

A star in its splendour attracted my eye, As softly from slumber I woke;
I thought–as I saw the bright spot in the sky– ‘Twas an angel of mercy which spoke–
Of the hope, that brings peace to the labouring breast, And raises the sorrowful mind.
The sweet’ner of life, and the solace of rest, In Jesus, the Saviour, we find.
When troubles oppress us, and nature decays, His light in the darkness is given:
Bright star of the morning, O lend me thy rays! And guide me safe homeward to heaven!

SITTING BY MYSELF, AND THOUGHTFUL.

Alone? no never! that broad eye,
Which fills all space, is here;
My secret thoughts and actions he, Reveal’d as daylight clear.
I would not from Thy presence fly, Thee only, would I love;
With greater circumspection try
In Thy commands to move.
If in my heart I aught disguise,
The lurking evil slay;
If aught than Thee more highly prize, O take it, Lord, away!

“1859.–I concluded the year by reading the Epistle to the Philippians, and prayer. My soul longs for a richer baptism of love, I am as well as usual, and my soul pants after God. I feel the word precious while I read, and thirst for a fuller manifestation of God. While thus employed, I enjoy sweet peace through Jesus. Here hangs my hope of heaven; and though I have many a conflict with unbelief, my heart is fixed.”

THOUGHTS ON EZEKIEL’S VISION, CHAPTERS 43 AND 48. EZEKIEL XLVIII. 35.

‘The Lord is there!’ O happy place!
Where God in Christ unveils His face; The city and the people bear
His glorious name–‘The Lord is there.’

The house all symmetry within,
The worshippers all white and clean; How lustrous is the scene, and rare!
It must be so–‘The Lord is there.’

There, from beneath the threshold, teems The tide of truth in living streams;
And those who drink the waters, share Eternal life–‘The Lord is there.’

The crystal waves spread deep and wide; Salvation rolls upon the tide;
So copious is the flood, we dare
No longer doubt–‘The Lord is there.’

The healing virtue never fails;
For all ‘who will,’ it still avails; Within the city brought, they wear
A kingly crown–‘The Lord is there.’

The glory of the Lord is seen,
His voice is heard by all within;
The tribes of Israel are _His_ care, Who reigns, the Lord for ever there.

“While reading and meditating on Ezekiel’s vision, my spirit was refreshed; and in the evening, while praying with my servant, my soul rejoiced in God my Saviour. Tears of joy ran down my eyes, and my soul overflowed.–Six years my dear John has been in paradise, and I am still endeavouring to urge on my way; feeble, yet pursuing. Praise God for the encouragement I feel. Jesus is all the world to me; there is nothing in my estimation equal to Him;–nothing I desire in comparison of Him.–In the world there appears to be a glorious movement towards God. The latter-day glory hastens on. India is quiet, and China opens her arms to the truth. In America, Scotland, and Wales, the Spirit is descending plenteously. O praise the Lord, for He shall reign; ‘the government shall be upon His shoulder.’–Walked as far as Heworth Chapel, and called upon Miss C.; she asked me to pray with her, being herself an invalid. Cause of gratitude, being my longest walk this year. The present circumstances of my children call for earnest persevering prayer. Let Thy Spirit help me.–The beauties of inanimate nature have this week exhibited the finger of God in the rising bud, and opening flower. May I, to whom is given, an intelligent mind, while beholding these works of Thine, be drawn into closer union with Thyself. Yea, while my hand directs the pen, let my soul assimilate to Thy likeness: make me one with Thee. Glory be to God, I feel there is union, for God is love: but enlarge and fill my soul with all Thy fulness.–This afternoon the young clergyman visited me, and made inquiries after my spiritual welfare. My heart clave unto him; and after he had prayed, I heartily wished him success in his ministry. Tidings have reached me, that my son John is going as a Missionary to Germany: may it be of the Lord. My soul is exceedingly drawn out in prayer that it may be so; and that it may be a blessing both to him and the people among whom he is about to labour.–I am this day seventy-seven years old. How quickly time departs! I lack words to express the manifold mercies of my heavenly Father during the past year. One above all, is the return of my Missionary son, after twenty-one years’ absence; and his, and his family’s kindness. Bless the Lord, O my soul.–Felt impressed to go and visit Mrs. M–, whom I visited once last year; went, and had a happy interview.

Hallow’d is the hour of prayer,
When the Spirit helps me there;
When the soul is drawn above,
Borne on wings of faith and love;
Then, released from earth, I rise
Far beyond the starry skies;
See, in Christ’s atonement free,
Life for all mankind, and me.

“Mrs. C. called, and kindly took me to Class. I gave out the hymn my Eliza sang the day before she died, and prayed with them.–I have been led by the Spirit of God to my knees, and find it no vain thing to wait upon the Lord. I am urged to look after my petitions, and feel it good to be thus reminded.–Mrs. Hartley called to bid me good-bye. I felt it very good while we prayed together. On her return to the city she was taken very ill, and sent a request by my daughter, that I would pray for her. I will. Felt blest in doing so.–My two sons are going to widely distant localities, but in their Master’s field. Oh! how my heart longs that they may be richly endued with power from on high, and made abundantly useful among those with whom they mingle, and that many may be the saved of the Lord. John Arthur and David are also, this day, going on the Lord’s errand. O bless the lads! Make them wise to win souls to Jesus. My soul longs for their prosperity.–Nine of my dear grandchildren took tea with us. For these and all the rest my soul earnestly longs, that we may be an undivided family above. I was blest while praying with them.–My dear son John and his wife, with five children, left us on their way to Germany, hoping to reach London this evening. O Lord, prosper Thou his journey to yonder land! I feel deeply for him. O bless him, Lord!”

Oh! what a world of care,
Anxiety and grief!
How multiplied our sorrows are!
Where shall we find relief?

Our lov’d ones come, and glad we are To see their smiling face;
But brief these transient visits are, And _then_, the last embrace.

“Mrs. Nightingale came to meet two women in distress for their souls. They wept sore, and found encouragement. I felt it good to mingle my petitions with their’s. [This was the commencement of a class at her own residence, conducted by Mrs. N., and formed especially for my mother’s accommodation. Up to this time she was nominally a leader, but since her removal to Heworth, she had but very occasionally been able to ride down to the city, and mingle in the communion of saints, a privilege, the loss of which she had deeply felt. The provision thus made was therefore a source of unspeakable comfort. Mrs. Nightingale says, “We found her at the appointed time, but oftener before, sitting in prayerful silence, waiting upon God. At such times her countenance was most heavenly; lit up with a light and glory, which bespoke her relation to, and hidden life with, her divine Lord. It was our privilege, when she was able, to listen to the words of wisdom and instruction which fell from her lips. Her deep acquaintance with the word of God, and the holy unction with which she spoke, caused those present to say, ‘This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’ Love to God and the souls of men burned brightly on the altar of her heart. This was seen in the deep interest she took in each member of the class, and in her prayerful concern for the members of her own family. ‘God is giving me answers to my prayers both on behalf of my children and grandchildren,’ she would say. But there were aspirations of soul after higher forms of spiritual life, which could only be realized in the fruition of the divine presence. For increase of years she made but little allowance, so that, whilst her love to God and heavenly meekness became increasingly apparent to others, her diminished energy was sometimes to herself the occasion of painful conflict and introspection.”] Before I awoke I thought a letter was put into my hands, the contents of which were ‘Through much tribulation ye shall enter the kingdom.” The Lord giving me power, I will fight my passage through.–Through the intensity of the weather, and my own increasing indisposition, I have been compelled to keep my bed; but prayer has been the life of my soul;–the only sure refuge in trouble. Much drawn out for my dear John, who, we expect, is this day holding an important meeting.–The year is quickly passing into eternity. It tarries not, nor waiteth the hurried one to free. Defer not, for the moment will soon pass away. Now touch the golden sceptre while it is called to-day. Believe, believe in Jesus, who gave His life for _you_. Accept the rich gratuity, for He hath purchased you.”

“1860.–Although not able to sit up to welcome the new year, it broke upon me with these words–

Jesus shall all my powers possess,
My hopes, my fears, my joys:

and thus my heart resolves. Yes, Lord, the dying embers of my life are Thine. I thank Thee, Thou dost not cast me off in my old age. ‘My soul shall magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoice in God my Saviour.’–A few days ago, my mind was filled with uncertainty respecting two members of my family; however, I laid the case before the Lord, and, to my surprise and grateful acknowledgment, in a day or two there was an opening in each case. Reader or writer, think not highly of thyself, others were praying as well as thee.–My first thought this morning, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with “loving kindness have I drawn thee.’ A very cheering letter from my son Richard. Praise the Lord for such information, both from heaven and earth.–A beautiful sunny morning. Grant that the Sun of righteousness may rise upon me with healing in His wings. Let Him heal, and form my soul anew. This is my chief desire. I do thank Thee for peace, but O enlarge my heart, and fully fit me to behold Thy glory!–A quiet Sabbath morning. I am sitting alone. The sun shines brightly upon me, and all nature seems to join in hallowed harmony. May my soul, capable of far greater powers, be expanded to receive far richer influences from the great source of my being–the inexhaustible fountain of all blessedness. My soul drinks of the living stream. Praise God for these small draughts. Enlarge and fill, and enlarge for ever!”

MAN’S FRAILTY.

See a flower of lovely hue,
Dipp’d in beauty bright, at Spring, Blasted by a wind that blew,
Ere it passed its blossoming.

Such is man, in best estate;
Like a flower he buddeth forth,
Till some unexpected fate
Brings him to his mother earth,

Such a shadow of a shade,
Human life, a moment, is:
Now we live, but soon conveyed
Past all life’s uncertainties.

Blooming youth and wither’d age,
Infant charms and ripened years,
Death assaults with equal rage,
Unappeas’d by prayers or tears:

Then, the closely wedded pair,
Soul and body sadly part;
Yet to meet again–but _where?
Seek the answer in thy heart_.

“‘Looking unto Jesus!’ This is the posture of my soul. Yea, I long after God. I have been peculiarly drawn out In prayer for several members of my family, with great sweetness In my own soul. Glory be to God!”

XXIII.

SLEEP IN JESUS.

“WEEP NOT; SHE IS NOT DEAD BUT SLEEPETH.”–Luke viii. 62.

When the shadows of evening begin to fall, it is not difficult to prognosticate that the night is at hand; and, admonished by the increasing gloom, man, wearied by the tolls of the day, gladly looks forward to the hour of repose. Universal nature shares in the feeling of presentiment. The cattle seek the shed; the birds fly back to their nests; and the gentle flower folds its delicate petals, as if for sleep. Is It wonderful that as life closes in, especially when protracted to a good old age, the human spirit should feel an instinctive consciousness of approaching dissolution? or that the aged Christian, after long and patient endurance in his Master’s service, should joyfully anticipate the hour of _rest?_ Yes, REST, not death; “For whosoever liveth, and believeth in me,” saith the Saviour, “shall never die.” Christ has tasted death for him, and the bitterness, which is the reality of death, is passed away. His stedfast faith prevents the dawn of a brighter day, and what matters it, whether his sleep continue but a few hours, or be protracted through a period of centuries? The body can be sensible of no difference, and the spirit, transported far beyond the regions of dream-land, enjoys a happy and conscious existence in the presence of Him, who died, “That whether we wake or _sleep_, we might live together with Him.” Mrs. Lyth looked, nay longed for the time of her departure; and as the hour drew on, seems to have had some pleasant premonitions of its approach. About a month before it occurred, she writes, “My first thought this morning was,

‘We soon shall be landed, for death is in view, Almighty protection shall comfort us through; Released from our prisons, to heaven we fly, Exchanging all sorrows for mansions on high.'”

“A few days of beautiful spring weather permitted her to enjoy an occasional walk, which was generally made subservient to some higher purpose than that of mere refreshment. Thrice her steps were directed to the Sanctuary, opportunities which she richly enjoyed. Of one of these she says, “I enjoyed the privilege of meeting my friends at the lovefeast, and hearing them speak of the power of grace to save; but my poor body is very feeble.”

This short respite, however, excited in her mind no fallacious expectation of a much longer reprieve; and more than once she expressed her conviction, that, as the summer advanced she would be no better. The weather suddenly changed; and the prevalence of north and easterly winds, accompanied with rain, confined her to the house. To use her own expressive language, “June enters weeping, and yet (10th) remains in tears.” This circumstance elicited almost the last effort of her poetic pen.

“Fairest month of summer’s Trine,
Why dost thou remain in tears?
Ask not. ‘Tis the will divine;
This shall dissipate my fears.
He, who ruleth in the sky,
Knoweth what His creatures need;
He can every want supply,
Trust Him, and His promise plead. Clouds may wear a frowning brow,
Blasting winds may sweep around,
He, who reigns above, knows how
Best to make his love abound.
Then, I’ll cast my every care
On my promise-keeping God;
Honour Him by faith and prayer;
Rest upon His faithful word.
Should the cloud continue still,
Thou for ever art the same,
All the workings of Thy will
But proclaim Thy glorious name.”

The last entries of her diary, which with a solemn significance just fill up the volume, we give in full.

“June 11th.–I expected to have received my ticket, but no one came, I clearly see no dependance can be placed upon the creature. On Thee, O Lord, let all my confidence rest! Glory be to God, though I am an isolated one, I am not left alone. I do feel drawn, after God, I have given myself to Him, and He is chief in my affection.

19th.–My seventy-eighth birth-day. I had intended writing, but the Lord saw otherwise. I was in bed three parts, of the day, and on the 20th very ill, having taken cold.

21st.–Thursday the longest day. I am very feeble, but have taken my pen to acknowledge the goodness of God to me for so long a period. At noon we had an awful thunderstorm, during which my soul was calm and peaceful. This is the Lord’s doing. I felt sweet trust and confidence in my Almighty Saviour. Afterwards I received my ticket at the hands of the Rev. Thos. Nightingale. On the ticket there is written, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with everlasting kindness have I drawn thee.'”

24th. THE SABBATH.

Peaceful is the Sabbath morn,
Glad I welcome its return;
Now Thy presence I implore,
Come, and never leave me more.

It was hoped by her friends that, with the return of milder weather, her strength would rally; but from this time it gradually declined. Her occupations were pursued as usual, but her weakness became daily more apparent; and, every now and then, intimations fell from her lips, that her “time was short,” and her “work nearly done.” To those around her it was evident that she was standing ready, and waiting for the coming of her Lord. This was particularly observable in the promptitude and fidelity with which she addressed all who came to the house, in terms of exhortation or warning, as if she was afraid of losing a single opportunity of speaking for her Master. Earth with its comparative trifles was fast receding from her view, and her spiritual vision occupied with the solemn and momentous scenes into which she was so soon to enter. Her daughter, who, for the purpose of ministering to her requirements, occupied the same bed-room, was often awoke, in the stillness of night, by the voice of thanksgiving and prayer; for, not content with making melody to the Lord in her heart, she gave vent to her overflowing feelings in singing and praise.

On Thursday, the 28th, the decrease of her strength was such that, although no danger was apprehended, it was deemed advisable to call in medical aid, which afforded her a momentary relief. But disease was insidiously working to an unfavourable issue, and that day she plied her needle for the last time. On Saturday the doctor instituted a minute examination of her lungs, and pronounced the case one of the worst forms of bronchitis; yet still held out the hope of recovery,–a hope in which she evinced no sympathy, for, though from the nature of the complaint able to talk but little, she spoke of her affliction, not only without apprehension, but with joyful anticipation. To the doctor, when he informed her of her danger, she expressed her confidence that “to die would be gain,” and urged upon him the importance of living always in a state of preparation for death. He had no sooner left the room than, turning to her daughter, with a look of ecstacy, she said, “I am going home, Mary.” In consequence of her extreme debility, the difficulty of her breathing and expectoration occasioned her much suffering, which she bore with exemplary patience; and when it was referred to, replied, “It is all right.” At another time when an allusion was made to her sufferings, her reply was, “Patient the appointed race to run.” Her daughter read to her the beautiful hymn, commencing, “The God of Abraham praise,” to which she listened with great attention, and on coming to the lines,

“He calls a worm His friend,
He calls Himself my God,
And He shall save me to the end,
Through Jesus’ blood;”

she exclaimed, with her eyes raised to heaven, and her hands uplifted, “Glory! glory!”

During the night her daughter, who watched by her side, overheard her say, “My heart and my flesh faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and _my portion for ever_,” emphasizing the last words. It was whispered–

“And above the rest this note shall swell,”

when she instantly took up the words, and with a heavenly smile completed the stanza,

“My Jesus hath done all things well.”

The same tender solicitude for others, especially those of her own family, which had ever characterized her, was still manifest in her utmost weakness. “Twice,” says her daughter, “during those few anxious days, while I was standing by her bed-side, she looked at me tenderly, and said, ‘The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; the Lord make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.’ On telling her I was going to write to my brother John, she replied, ‘Give my kindest love to him and Susie, and tell them to keep the _one point_ in view. To one who was ministering to her wants she said, with great earnestness, ‘Oh! when one comes to the verge of another world, of what avail are all things else, if we are not on the sure foundation? My whole care is to be ready–quite ready.'”

The rapid decay of her strength seemed to produce no corresponding impression upon her mind, which, up to within a few hours of her departure, retained its wonted vigour and clearness of perception. Her utterances were carefully weighed, and she grasped the full force of the words which were spoken to her; hence, when her daughter asked if she could say

“Not a cloud doth arise
To darken the skies,
And hide for _one moment_ the Lord from my eyes;”

she replied, “I can’t say _that_.” “But,” mother, “you can trust Him in the dark?” Her ready answer was, “I _can_ do that.”

On Tuesday morning, July 3rd, the day preceding her removal, for some hours she appeared rather better, and on being lifted up in bed, she asked for her spectacles, the Bible, and also the hymn-book, from which she read the hymn beginning

“How do Thy mercies close me round,”

which was one of her favourites. As the day advanced her disease gained ground, but, beyond the difficulty she experienced in breathing, there was no evidence of suffering. She expressed a fear she was impatient, but it was far otherwise. Not a murmur, nor a breath of complaint passed her lips; she possessed her soul in patience, and her language was praise and prayer. Once, while gasping for breath, she repeated at intervals, the verse

“O may I thus be found,
Obedient to His word;
Attentive to the trumpet’s sound,
And looking for my Lord.”

In the afternoon her son Richard arrived from Torquay, providentially in time to witness the last solemn and mournful scene, and to administer words of comfort and encouragement. The valley was fall of light, and a momentary cloud which skirted the horizon, occasioned by the deep sense she felt of her own unprofitableness, melted away at the presence of Him whom, having not seen, she loved, and whose name was last upon her lips. My brother says, “I found her very ill, but most delighted and thankful for my arrival. ‘Praise the Lord, I am glad to see you,’ was her characteristic salutation. “Well, Mother, I find you resting on Jesus?” “Yes,” was the reply, “but I have been so unfaithful.” “You have nothing to do with that now; you must look only to Jesus. You believe His atonement is sufficient to cover all your unfaithfulness?” “Oh! yes, I do.” “You know that Paul, and Mr. Wesley had nothing else to plead but this,–

‘I the chief of sinners am,
But Jesus died for me.'”

From that moment, looking off from herself, she trusted in Christ alone, and was fully saved and sustained by divine grace. Leaning on her Beloved, she was now ready to pass over Jordan;–not its “swellings,” the stream was narrow, and neither deep nor troubled. A little time and she was on the opposite plains; but before she landed, she uttered words of triumph, the sounds of which fell faintly on our ears.

In the devotions of the evening, which we conducted in her room, she participated with holy delight, and listened to the former part of the 14th chapter of St. John’s Gospel, with an evident appreciation of its overflowing fulness of consolation. In Jesus she contemplated the revealed glory of the Father, and her believing “Amen” made the blessedness of the revelation all her own. After giving me some final directions, especially with respect to her manuscripts and letters;–directions which were short and clear; and given with her wonted happy expression of countenance, and cheerfulness of manner; she gradually yielded to the force of disease. For three hours and a half she lay quiet, occasionally slumbering, but breathing heavily. It was thus I found her in the morning at half-past two. She was quite conscious and recollected, and gave pleasing signs of recognition, but the power of speech was almost gone. She had reached the middle of the stream, but her head was lifted up above the flowing waters, for her feet were upon the Rock. Mary quoted “The Lord is good; a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him,” and shortly after,

“Bright angels are from glory come,
They’re round my bed, and in my room, They come to waft my spirit home:
All is well.”

She caught the idea; whispered “Bright Angels,” and tried to say more. I added the precious words, “Having loved His own, He loved them to the end,” also the lines of our own sweet singer;–

“And God Himself our Father is,
And Jesus is our Friend.”

Another effort was made to speak, and at intervals we caught the words, “Praise,” “Glory,” “My Father,” “My Redeemer.” These were the last sounds we could hear; the full expression of triumph was lost in the gentle murmurs of the river. There was yet another signal of happy and exulting confidence. For sometime, she gazed intently upward, and then around, with a look of delighted surprise; as if she “saw scenes we could not see, or heard sounds we could not hear;” and then gradually sunk into a state of unconsciousness. A few more hours terminated her _mortal_ panting after immortality; and at twenty minutes past eight, just as we commended her to God, without an effort or a struggle, she breathed her ransomed spirit into the bosom of her Lord. What was mortal remained with the mourners,–the spirit was with God.

Thus, on the 4th of July, 1860, after the toils and struggles of life, protracted to a period of seventy-eight years, and a few weeks; my beloved, and venerated mother “fell asleep.” She rests in the cemetery about a mile from the city, by the side of her loved Eliza. Rich and poor united to pay the last tribute of affection and esteem; and mingled their tears at the place of her repose. A few weeks later, on a Monday evening, in the New-Street Chapel, the Rev. Thomas Nightingale, to a crowded audience, improved the event, not of her death, but of her entrance into heaven, from the words, “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

“HER CHILDREN ARISE UP AND CALL HER BLESSED.”–Prov. xxxi. 28.

Shall we weep or repine at the thought she is gone? Shall we mourn for the spirit at rest? No! her children, though many, united as one Now arise to acknowledge her blest.

Not the tongue of the world, or the praises that dwelt On the lips of report are the test;
In the home, where the warmth of her presence was felt, Must you ask if a mother was blest.

We arise! we arise in the name of the Lord, Who gave us the good we possess’d;
With one heart, and one voice, we unite to record Our thanks for the mother He bless’d.

Not a joy but was sweeter when she was in sight, Not a grief but we hid in her breast;
And she seemed unto us as an Angel of Light: So happy the circle she blest.

We remember her counsels, oft mingled with tears; The truths by example express’d;
An inheritance rich, is the wealth of her prayers: Is the child or the mother more blest?

By the light in her eye, and the smile on her face; By her “song in the night,” when opprest! By a thousand impressions we love to retrace: We know that our mother was blest.

But the soul of her joy, and its fulness she drew From the source of all others the best; For she trusted in Him, who is faithful and true, She delighted in God, and was blest.

Then, why should we weep at the thought she is gone, Since we know she hath enter’d her rest? No! her children will follow, united as one, In her steps to the home of the blest,

J.L.

XXIV.

PLEASANT MEMORIES.

“THE MEMORY OF THE JUST IS BLESSED,” Prov. x. 7.

Although the preceding pages will enable the reader to form a general estimate of Mrs. Lyth’s religious character, the writer deems it necessary to add a concluding sketch, partly for the purpose of recording some particulars which could not so well be introduced elsewhere, and partly to supplement his own remarks, which might otherwise be liable to the charge of partiality, with a selection from the numerous testimonies with which he has been favoured by Ministers and other friends.

In person Mrs. Lyth was of middle stature, slender, and, before years had subdued her physical strength, straight as an arrow. Her complexion was fair, and her features, rather pointed than full, were regular and well formed. The eyes, of light blue, generally wore a calm and gentle expression, but kindled with an unearthly light when conversing on divine subjects. Then her whole soul flashed in her countenance, and her features, lit as with sunshine, indicated how deeply her spirit had drank of that “stream which maketh glad the city of God.” Her hair, which in youth was of a rich auburn, turned grey at the early age of thirty, and at length its silvery hue was superseded by a snowy white, which gave additional impressiveness to a countenance upon which happiness, purity and peace sat continually enthroned. Her dress, the perfection of neatness, was modelled after the most approved style of the Society of Friends, not as now, modified and robbed of its interest by all-powerful fashion, but as it existed in its original simplicity fifty years ago. Though not gifted with any remarkable powers of mind, she possessed a sound and vigorous understanding, which however, was rather quick than penetrating. This she improved by a considerable amount of good reading. Her choice of books was in harmony with the set purpose of her life, and seldom surpassed the bounds of religious literature: for while she had no sympathy with those little minds that, on the pretence of greater religiousness despise human knowledge, she steadily kept in view the rule she adopted in early life, “never to trifle with any book with which she had no immediate concern,” and consequently preferred those which, while they informed the judgment, were also calculated to impress the heart. Within this limit her reading was widely varied. To the better class of biography, she added poetry, history, philosophy, and divinity. Her favourite poet was Young, from whom she often quoted at length; her favourite divine, Wesley; and her favourite book the Bible. This last she not uncommonly read upon her knees, seeking the assistance and blessing of the Holy Spirit, who is the best expositor of His own word. Her knowledge of scripture was remarkable, and her apprehension of its great doctrines distinct and clear as noonday. “With increasing ardour she continued to dig in this inexhaustible mine of truth, until the close of life, and within the last three or four years waded through the greater part of Henry’s Commentary. Her study of divine truth was mainly prosecuted with a view to its experience and practice; and hence her piety assumed that rare and exalted character which develops itself evenly in all the various relations of life. In her, the image of Christ was not, as in too many instances, caricatured; but presented in its just and fair proportions; and, as a necessary consequence, Impressed all who came in contact with her with the certain conviction of its genuineness. Zealous in the church, she was equally active and faithful at home. _Little_ duties were not neglected on the pretext of performing others of a higher character. By a strict economy of time, which she prized more than, gold; by early rising, method and punctuality, she found time for everything; so that her house was a pattern of neatness and order, and her family was as well provided for as though she had no public duties to perform. “She looked well to her own household, and ate not the bread of idleness.” Naturally of an active temper of mind, she was always employed; and, from an habitual consciousness of her responsibility, well employed. Her hand was ready at every turn, and knew nothing of that silly squeamishness which leads a woman to suppose that she demeans herself by meddling with household affairs. Fond of singing, and possessed of a good voice, she lightened her daily toil with the voice of song, and discharged the humblest duties as a sacrifice well-pleasing to God. Her conscientiousness in little things was remarkable. She was a determined enemy of all trifling and tittle-tattle, as not only unbecoming the Christian character, but destructive of religious feeling; and the consciousness of having uttered a useless word, or engaged in unprofitable conversation, always occasioned her pain. Among other peculiarities she displayed a singular aversion to debt, and if by any means such an obligation, however small, was incurred, she never rested until it was discharged. The writer remembers on one occasion walking a couple of miles to pay the trifling sum of sixpence to a party, who was at the time indebted to his father as many pounds. Notwithstanding the severity with which she judged her own actions, her piety was entirely free from asceticism;–it was always cheerful, recollected, and heroic; and in her intercourse with others, characterised by great humility and christian courtesy. In prayer she was simple and earnest, zealous without passion, and often particularized in the devotions of the family the special cases of its individual members. Her’s was the cry of a child to its father, the appeal for help, that felt confident of success. Her prayers, which were offered continually, day and night, might truly be said to be mighty; and her children, even when distant from her, have often felt conscious that her intercessions were going up on their behalf. But they were urged for many,–for all; and in particular for the prosperity of Zion, and the ministers of divine truth. The Rev. John Hartley writes, “I feel that in your mother’s removal I suffer loss. I have seldom been more affected than when she told me, on the last occasion of my seeing her, that not a day passed without her pleading with God for me. Who am I, I thought, that this saint of God should thus remember me in her prayers?” Her zeal in the cause of God was constant, patient and persevering; not as we sometimes see, now bursting into a furious blaze, and then dying away; it burnt with a bright and steady flame,–being fed by the secret supplies she obtained through constant communion with God. Although ready for every good work, and glad to take her share in the mere machinery of the Christian church, her chief aim was the salvation of souls. This she never lost sight of, and generally, when collecting for Missions or other benevolent objects, availed herself of the opportunity of warning, exhortation, or prayer. One who frequently accompanied her on such excursions says, “We called at every house in the district. Some of the people were exceedingly poor. At one door I said, ‘Mrs. Lyth, you will not beg here.’ Her reply was, ‘It is my duty to ask them, if they give us but a penny, it will not lose its reward.’ In another case the people were Roman Catholics; she at once exhorted them to come direct to Christ, and not allow the priest to come betwixt them and the Savior. In a third, where a member of the family was sick, we went in, and Mrs. Lyth prayed.” Another writes, “I first became acquainted with her about 1823, and have always found her the same consistent character. She assisted me in the formation of my class in Acomb. Her visits to us were always welcome and profitable. Her eye was single. She had light in her own soul, and it shone in every society in which she was cast. Many a round we have had together among the villagers, to beseech them to be reconciled to God. In this work she went, perhaps, even beyond her strength, that sinners might be brought into the fold of Christ. She rejoiced to lend a helping-hand to the seeking soul; warning the unruly, comforting the feeble-minded, and encouraging believers to seek after a full devotion of heart and life to the service of Christ. Her faithfulness in the administration of reproof was exemplary; and though naturally of a retiring disposition, in the defence of truth and the cause of her Master she became bold and fearless.” Her ready pen, for to the last she wrote a clear and steady hand, was often in requisition to administer counsel, encouragement, or consolation. Whatever might be said of her “bodily presence,” her “letters were powerful,” and, as they were accompanied with believing effectual prayer, seldom failed to produce a happy effect. The writer much regrets that the prescribed limits of this volume precludes the introduction of extracts from the voluminous correspondence placed in his hands. It is sufficient to say here that her letters strikingly exhibit her oneness of purpose. In all without exception, the one thing is prominent, and although ordinary topics are not overlooked, they are invariably turned to good account, and made the basis of apposite and profitable reflection. One of her correspondents observes: “Her letters were always refreshing to me, and brought my mind in immediate contact with one who lived in the spirit of prayer and general devotedness. I never knew one, so far as my observation went, who more constantly exhibited a oneness of aim to glorify God, and promote the welfare of those with whom she came in contact. Some might object, some might smile, but there was a holy force of spiritual life in her, which could not be concealed, and which made itself felt everywhere My dear friend was as attentive to family duties as though the church had no claim upon her; and I have often dwelt upon her character when far, far away. I have heard her regret that she did not more fully manifest tender affection, when her heart was fall of love. I need not say how rousing I found her remarks, uttered in an humble gentle tone and manner; and how often I have been taken into her closet to pray for many, particularly her distant son.” Another says: “I have been perusing some of her letters, which I value above gold. Through them all, breathes the same spirit of ardent love to Jesus, with a deep sense of her own helplessness. Her character was that of an humble soul constantly living tinder the rays of the Sun of righteousness. I have often heard her express fears concerning herself, but never doubting the faithfulness of Jesus, in whom she trusted. Since I had the happiness of knowing her–which is more than thirty years–I have seen nothing but what I could love and admire. I have often been thankful that my lot was cast so near her in years gone by. Some of my most hallowed moments have been when bowed with her at the throne of grace. Under all circumstances she proved herself my friend; by her strong faith in God she encouraged me to trust, where I could not trace, the dispensations of Providence; often comforted my mind by an appropriate passage of God’s word, and by her simple and earnest pleadings at the throne of grace, led me nearer to the mercy-seat. I owe much to the memory of my precious friend; and her example has often stimulated me to increased diligence. How forcibly did she remind others of the treasures of religion! Plain in reproof, she was yet so transparent, that none could be offended with her faithful dealings.”

The department of usefulness in which she chiefly delighted, and for which she was pre-eminently qualified, was, perhaps, the class-meeting; upon this service she entered at first with considerable hesitation, but eventually conducted three large classes, besides forming several others.

“During my somewhat lengthened ministerial life,” says the Rev. John Rattenbury, “I have met with no female class-leader, that surpassed, and with but few that equalled, your sainted mother. Her religious character was beautifully moulded by the Divine Spirit. Tranquil, fervent, spiritual, devoted; she was a pattern to her people: she was successful in attracting people to the Society, and what is of more importance, and perhaps more difficult, she was successful in retaining them. Her classes, though large, were well preserved, and seldom did the column for backsliders gain addition from them. She was of the earlier school of Methodists, and combined the simplicity, plainness, and fervour of the past age, with the generous and more aggressive spirit of the present.” One of her members says: “It was my privilege to be a member of her class about eight years. She was both deep and clear in her own experience, and never failed to impress upon her members the necessity of daily growth in grace; and was especially faithful, in warning them against worldliness and trifling. In her we had a pattern worthy of imitation.” As respects the improvement of time and talent, she was always well employed, and ever had for her object, the good of others. Another writes: “As a class-leader, Mrs. Lyth appeared to stand almost alone–talented, punctual, humble, and faithful. Once she reproved a young person in my presence for frequently neglecting the class. When she had finished speaking and the party was gone, she turned to me and said, ‘I think I was faithful with Elizabeth,’ ‘Yes, ‘I replied, ‘and rather sharp;’ she answered, ‘I don’t want to have the blood of any of you on my skirt,'”

As to her general Christian character and usefulness, the following testimonies by the pens of well-known and esteemed Ministers, will be read with interest. The first is from the venerable Wm. Naylor, and refers to a period of more than forty years ago. “Though many years have passed over since I was stationed in York, the remembrance of your esteemed mother is very refreshing to my mind. I place her among the most excellent of the pious females of our Society, that it has been my privilege and happiness to number amongst my intimate friends. Her piety was genuine, and her experience rich in the enjoyment of close and constant communion with God. I admired her oneness of character and disposition–ever the same; in sickness and trial, calm and submissive, confiding in the love of the Saviour; and in health, delighting to do good to the needy and sick; her religion was not the excitement of momentary feeling, it was the habitual principle and power of grace. In disposition she was kind and cheerful; but it never degenerated into levity, and few have more fully exemplified the Christian rule of rejoicing with those that do rejoice, and weeping with those that weep.”

The Rev. Luke Wiseman writes: “My acquaintance with your mother was during the last three years of her life. On arriving in the York Circuit, she was among the first who were mentioned to me as pillars in the Church, and ‘Mothers in Israel.’ I heard her name mentioned with respect by many, who are themselves entitled to the highest regard, sad was thus prepared, before being introduced to her, to meet with a venerable, and lively disciple of our common Lord. Nor was I disappointed. What she was in her years of maturity others can relate. In her days of bodily decline, and feebleness, I saw in her a beautiful specimen of a child of grace nearing the heavenly home. Her appearance, worn, and somewhat shrivelled, yet retained marked traces of uncommon energy. Her features sharpened by age, equally indicated penetration, and benevolence. Her voice was still good, her utterance remarkably distinct, and when she spoke of the things of Christ, it was with no subdued or half-abashed tone, but with the same full, clear, cheerful voice. It was impossible to doubt that her heart was full of heavenly treasure from her very manner of speaking of divine things,–easy, energetic, unforced, graceful. I am afraid, that being so far below her in divine knowledge, my visits may have been of but little benefit to her: but however this may be, they were of great benefit to myself. She shewed an ardent love for the cause of Christ, for His ministers, and for all His people. She appeared to feel being laid aside from active work, and amongst her many inquiries about the Society, she would now and then utter an expression of regret, that she was now no more amongst them as formerly. She had a very clear conception of christian doctrine, and I believe an equally clear, and satisfying joy and peace through being consciously accepted in Christ. I never passed by her house, so far as I can recollect, without some such thought as this while going by, ‘Within these doors dwells one whom Jesus loves.'”

For the following we are indebted to the courtesy of the Rev. P. McOwan.

“Mrs. Lyth was in the decline of life before it was my happiness to form her acquaintance; and consequently I am but ill able to do justice to her christian character, or to point out the various modes of faithful pitying love, by which she endeavoured in her years of prime to glorify God, and serve her generation. It was impossible, however, to visit her, even in her invalid state, without being impressed with her mental power, eminent piety, and scriptural intelligence; without discerning that she was a ‘mother in Israel.’ In my own case, these impressions were so deep, that, though in my intercourse with her I had to sustain the Pastor’s part, I often, from choice, occupied the seat of the learner. Her favourite themes of discourse, were the love of God in Christ Jesus, the grace and wisdom of Divine Providence, the great and precious promises, christian experience, missions to the heathen, and the revival and extension of the work of God in the earth. I frequently proposed questions to elicit her views on these and kindred topics; and when, drawn out in conversation, she often gave utterance to weighty and discriminating thoughts, judicious counsels, animating recollections of the past, and bright anticipations of the future. Intercourse with her was truly a means of grace; and I generally left her glorifying God on her account, and longing for a double portion of her spirit.

“Mrs. Lyth, like all who excel in piety, was a diligent and devout student of the book of God. She not only read the scriptures, but she searched them; she pondered their import, and meditated in them day and night. The result was, the word of God dwelt in her richly, in all wisdom, so that she was able to teach and admonish others with singular propriety and power. Her accurate and extensive acquaintance with the scriptures gave a richness and impressiveness to her conversation, which awed the trifler, edified the thoughtful, and shed light and comfort upon the minds of anxious inquirers. Many of her own sex resorted to her for counsel as to an oracle; and as she generally joined in prayer with her inquiring friends, her advices and cautions became in numerous instances, as a “nail fastened in a sure place.” Her love for the Sanctuary amounted almost to a passion. In her inner life it stood identified with vivid views of saving truth; rich manifestations of Divine love, and transforming effusions of sanctifying grace. When in health, neither weather, nor company, nor any surmountable obstacle, could keep her at home, when it was open for worship; and when enfeebled by age, she sought to improve each gleam of sunshine, and each interval of returning strength, by paying another visit to the sacred shrine, as if she thought each one might be the last.

“Having yielded up her son at the call of the Church to the perils of a Missionary life, in a land of cannibals, she never revoked the gift, neither grudged the sacrifice. Her maternal yearnings were often excited by the narration of his sufferings and privations; but they were never suffered to rise in mutinous rebellion against the Divine will. For nearly twenty-two years she not only submitted to his absence with uncomplaining meekness, but she abounded in thanksgivings on his account, and gloried in the sacrificial services he was enabled to render to the cause of the Redeemer, in the high places of the field.

“Mrs. Lyth’s religion made her habitually happy. Fully assured of her acceptance in the Beloved, walking daily in the liberty of the children of God, and exercising herself to have always a conscience void of offence, the smile of contentment rested on her countenance; benignity beamed in her eye; the law of love regulated her speech, while kindness, courtesy, and a cheerful urbanity, marked the whole of her deportment. In her dress she was simple, neat and economical. In her habits, she was a pattern of order, early rising, diligence, promptitude, and punctuality. Possessing inward peace, she was calm, self-possessed, firm, and full of trust in the providence of God. Doing one thing at a time, and always intent upon doing that thing well, she accomplished a great amount of holy service; was seldom in a hurry, and always in time at the Sanctuary and Class-meeting. With such traits of character, and modes of action, it will not excite surprise that she became a centre of religions influence in the community to which she belonged. The sick sought her prayers, persons in spiritual distress, and temporal perplexity, applied to her for advice; the poor appealed to her for relief, the young listened to her counsels, and those who were intent upon obtaining a full salvation, coveted her friendship, strove to imbibe her spirit, and to imitate her example.

“In age and feebleness extreme, she was divinely supported by her Saviour’s might; and was cheered by His love, and the hope of beholding His glory. No murmuring word escaped her lips, no sign of impatience was visible in her appearance and manner; but expressions of gratitude, praise, and thanksgiving, flowed from her tongue, and indicated the peacefulness and purity of her mind. On her death-bed I found her calmly resting on the merits of her Redeemer. Her countenance was full of interest, a placid smile rested upon it, and but for her laborious breathing, and interrupted utterances, hopes might have been entertained that she would yet be spared, she was herself hopefully waiting the hour of her dismissal; yet there was one earthly wish, which she breathed out in meek submission to her heavenly Father, not yet gratified; that was, that she might once more see her Missionary son, before she quitted the clay tabernacle. Prayer was offered, and among other petitions it was urged, that her maternal desire might be granted. She lingered on the border land, till he arrived, and soon after having kissed _him_, and blessed all present, she fell asleep in Jesus; the last accents of her lips being those of praise, adoration, and filial confidence.”

We conclude these notices by the following kind words of condolence from the Rev. M.C. Taylor.

“I cannot resist saying how much I was affected by the tidings of the passing away of your sainted mother; not that I could mourn for _her_, but I felt deprived and bereaved of one of the most lovely and touching pictures of grace I have ever seen; and I mourned for myself. Her name and memory are an inheritance indeed. To have known her will be an honour and joy for ever,–to have belonged to her is more than great riches. Hundreds are this week glorifying God in her.”

LONDON:

PRINTED BY GEORGE PALMER, BROWNLOW STREET, HIGH HOLBORN.

_By the same Author_,

THE LIVING SACRIFICE;

OR, A

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE

OF

SARAH BENTLEY,

OF YORK.

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