Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

THE TWO-EDGED SWORD. Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. Rev. i, 16. The following extract from Monsieur Thevenot's Travels, deserves attention. “ The galliot being out a cruising, met a Turkish galliot, and having laid her athwart hauze, experienced a stout resistence. The Turks, who were on board of her, having a naked sword between their teeth, and a musket in their hands, beat off their adversaries.

B. V.

MAXIMS.

The salvation of the righteous is certain, because it depends, not on their resolutions and endeavors, but on the promise of Him who cannot lie, and the power of Him who is Omnipotent.

We must not only cast ourselves into Christ's arms to be saved by him, but we must cast ourselves at his feet to serve him.

MEMOIR OF MISS SARAH ANN PRIOR.

SARAH ANN PRIOR was the child of pious parents, and from her infancy was taught that the ways of wisdom are the paths of peace. But although blessed with these privileges she very early proved herself to be a stranger to their beneficial influences, by her impatience of parental authority, and her aversion to religious restrictions. Blessed with good health, and a cheerful disposition, she proposed to devote some time yet to the gratification of her desiivs, and the pursuit of pleasure, and thought she should still have years enough in reserve, for the duties of religion.

In her thirteenth year, she had a serious illness, which reduced her strength, and caused the deepest parental anxiety for the result. But in mercy she was spared, and acknowledged, on her recovery, the goodness of God in not removing her in an unprepared state. In a very short time Sarah Ann was again laid aside by a severe attack of fever, which threatened a speedy dissolution. But the disease yielded to medical skill and maternal attention, and at length she recovered her usual degree of health, which continued uninterruptedly till her fifteenth year, with the exception of a cough, which occasioned little apprehension, as it was thought to be constitutional.

At this period she had expressed a wish to hear a sermon from the Rev. Edward Steane, of Camberwell. His text was the 1st verse of the 6th chapter of Amos. “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion.” She listened with thoughtful attention which deepened throughout the sermon. It seemed as though it was addressed to her alone, and she was

impressed with the idea that Mr. Steane had been made acquainted with her past history, and, as she afterwards told some of her young friends, bad been informed that she was to be present. On her return home, her distress of mind was visible in her countenance, and it induced her mother to enquire if she felt ill. She melted into tears, and replied, “I never heard such a sermon in my life !" Sbe related the principal parts of it, and was distressed as she proceeded at its affecting disclosures of her own character. She retired to rest; but the impression left upon ber mind was too vivid to allow her to lose it in sleep, and the fearful sounds of the “woe" that had been denounced against her dwelt upon her mind through the whole night.

She disclosed the state of her feelings in the morning to ber mother, who encouraged her to apply to the Saviour and take refuge at the foot of the cross, assuring her that none who came there in sincerity would be rejected. Sbe complied with this advice, and felt relief; and commenced reading the Bible with an earnest desire to understand her character, and the sources of comfort. Its treasures were now unsealed, and she discovered new beauties, and new wonders, as she continued to read, and to reflect. The public ministry of the gospel seemed to possess new attractions, and the following sabbath she heard the sermons, and engaged in the services, with an interest and pleasure to which she had bitherto been a stranger.

A short time after this happy alteration in her views and conduct, and wbile her parents were agitated between hope and fear, lest the change sbould not be permanent, her cough returned, and was attended by more alarming symptoms than it bad ever been. Medical aid was resorted to, but it did not yield to the means employed, as on former occasions it bad done, and it was deemed advisable to confine her to the house, during the inclement months, until the spring, when change of air was recommended. The selection of a suitable family for her to · reside in, was made with some care and anxiety by her parents ; but unbappily the spirit of true religion was absent ; and for want of a consistent example in those from whom better things might have been expected, she declined very much from the attainments she had made. But though she entered into the amusements of the family, with apparent pleasure, and by degrees neglected her private duties, she was evidently struggling with her internal monitor ; for she afterwards said that she was sleepless for whole nights, while the recollection the solemn werds—“Woe to them that are at ease in Zion," constantly recalled her to a sense of her danger. After six weeks' absence she returned home with her cough unrelieved, and her health considerably worse. She exceedingly deplored the loss of that peace which had filled her heart when first it was opened to admit the consolations of religion ; she lamented her instability, and expressed a resolution never to leave home without her mother. Restored to the scenes of her former happiness,

and assisted by the pious efforts of her friends, by degrees she became tranquillized-attained the assurance of faith, and conversed upon religious subjects with interest and satisfaction.

At the latter end of May, a very short time after her return from the country, she was taken seriously ill, and in a few days her life was in danger. Her friends thought it advisable to intimate their fears as to the result; but, not suffering any pain, she considered that their alarm was groundless. On the following sabbath evening they perceived she was worse than she thought herself, and expressed a wish that she would see a pious friend whom they named, and who felt deeply interested in ber spiritual welfare. This she declined, but added, “ If I see any one it must be Mr. Steane." Her desire was communicated to him, and he very kindly visited her. He read a portion of the scriptures, and conversed with her, on her condition in the sight of God, and tenderly adverted to the critical circumstances of her case. She confessed herself to be a sinner, and owned that it was of the Lord's mercies she was not consumed. As great danger attended her speaking, the conversation was not prolonged, and after prayer Mr. Steane left her. The interview was blessed to her. It rekindled her hopes, renewed the sweetness of her former feelings, and encouraged her to proceed in the cbristian course. The next morning the most dangerous symptoms subsided ; but she was confined to her room for the succeeding nine weeks, and during that time great apprehensions were excited for the issue.

At the commencement of September, she was recommended to try Dorking, in Surry, and then she seemed to revive. She was enabled to attend divine service sereral times, and to walk considerably more than she had been accustomed to do. She resumed her usual cheerfulness, and there appeared to be a prospect of her recovery. While there, she spent much of her time in reading, and seemed to be making daily progress in spiritual knowledge. Residing in the house of a kind woman, but one who was destitute of religious hope, it was delightful to witness the earnestness with which she would converse with ber on divine things, and try to excite her personal interest in them. On one occasion the poor woman said to her, “I fear, Miss, you think too much about religion !" She replied, “it is all my bappiness, and I am thankful that the Lord sent this affliction, for before it I utterly hated religion ; but sooner thanı get well and forget God I had rather die !"

Her health was materially benefited by this excursion, and on her return home, she was able to take moderate exercise till the middle of November, when she was advised to remain in one temperature through the winter. · While chiefly confined to her room, she spent a great part of her time in writing on religous subjects, and in reading the word of God; as weil as the lives of Spencer, Urquhart, Miss Fanny Woodbury, Miss Burtun Griffin, and the Rer. J. Townsend, together with great part of a Commentary on the Holy Scriptures. Her favorite hymns

were Hart's, being, she said, descriptive of the depravity of her heart. Whitfield's, Newton's, and Toplady's, were also her daily companions. At one time her mind became clouded, and she could not discover, so clearly as she had done, her interest in Christ; but in a few days ber evidences brightened, and she exclaimed—“Oh! my dear mother, I know that Christ is as willing to save me, as I am desirous of salvation." Her mother enquired how her mind had been relieved. She replied, in reading one of Whitfield's hymns, particularly this verse :

“ View me in the manger lying,
View me panting, bleeding, dying,
In my pierced side there's room,

And every drop of blood cries, Come!” « Ob ! that word Come! came with such power I can never forget it." She frequently said, “if one good thought could save my soul, I could never be saved.” On hearing it lamented that some persons had every comfort life could afford, but that they did not see the hand of God in any thing, she said, " and such were some of us ;” and what we are, we are by the grace of God. Instead of condemning them we should pity and pray for them; and reflect upoa the love of God that has made us sensible of our mercies. I consider it a great blessing that the Lord sent this affliction to bring me to him. He saw that I was going the downward road, and that I loved the world ; but he had thoughts of peace towards me, and not of evil, and I can now see who it is that has made me to differ."

In the early part of December, her health visibly improved-her cough was considerably better, and she entertained a hope that she should yet attend the public services of the sanctuary, and make a public profession of religion. But these delightful hopes were not to be fulfilled. On the last day of the same month, her cough became worse, and alarming apprehensions were again excited. During the two following months her mind gradually expanded under the bedewing influences of the Spirit ; and she was evidently preparing for a removal from these “low grounds where sorrows grow," to the pure and bappy regions of the celestial paradise. Often, when conversing with christian friends, would she lament the depravity of her heart, and exclaim, “Oh! if it were not for the grace of God, I should fall a thousand times a-day. No longer than I am held up, do I stand. Oh! what a mercy it is," she would sometimes say " that the work is Christ's, and I have nothing to do but to believe that he died for me-theo I am quite happy. The longer I remain here the more I see of my own unworthiness; and that I shall never be free from sin. I am sure my constant prayer should be,

God be merciful to me a sinner.' And if it be his will, I wish that that may be my last prayer.” She frequently spoke of Christ in bis priestly character with delight, and on one occasion, she said, “When I heard Mr.Orme upon that subject, how little did I feel its importance! but I can now feast on what I beard ; and can view Jesus as my High-Priest and Intercessor, and believe that all my sins are washed away in his blood.

At the beginning of April her health materially declined; and a violent affection of the brain, which rendered her insensible for several days, threatened the termination of her sufferings. But the most alarming symptoms subsided ; and hopes were again cherished by her fond parents that their beloved child might yet be restored to them. Patient, resigned, and acquiescent, she seemed only desirous of imparting consolation to those who watched around her, and of preparing them for the stroke which appeared to be impending. Cowper's beautiful hýmn, beginning, “God moves in a mysterious way,” was a great favorite with her; and on one occasion, after repeating it, she remarked, “although to you, my dear mother, this affliction is mysterious, light will spring out of it. God saw my need of it. Perhaps you loved me too well, and you know what Mr. Russell says in his letters, we must have no idols.' Do let me intreat of you, if I should be removed, not to sorrow as those that have no hope. When absent from the body I shall be present with the Lord. You will bave one less to leave. I shall not go one hour before God pleases. He has the keys of life and death."

On the first sabbath in May she was unusually anxious to hear the decided opinion of her medical friends upon the state of her health ; and begged of her father not to keep any tbing back from her. On her being informed, in the most tender manner, of their fears as to the result, a slight shade of distress was observable upon her countenance, produced by the thought of a separation from those who were so dear to her. But religion triumphed, and its mild accents soon restored her to peace and cheerfulness. In the course of the afternoon, with great composure, she divided her books, and sereral little articles that she valued, among her brothers and sisters, and some young friends. After she bad done this, she said, “My dear mother, we must now leave the result. If the Lord sees fit, he can, even now, when all means apparently fail, speak the word, and I shall be healed; but if he has desigued otherwise he will give you strength to bear it. She spoke with great faithfulness to a near relative, much older than berself, upon the state of his soul, and urged him to seek the Saviour before it was too late, and said, « what should I do now in the prospect of death without Christ ? I believe he is mine, and I am his. I am not afraid to die. I shall never see death-his sting is taken away—I shall see nothing but Christ,” When he left her, she told her mother she had been earnest in prayer to God for him, and trusted her conversation would be blest to him when she was removed, adding, “ who could be worse than I was !” and with great energy repeated the hymn, commencing

“Why was I made to hear his vcice,” &c.

« ZurückWeiter »