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been fixed in this faith, so that the summons of that last messenger, who comes to us in this world, will be to her, not the note of warning, but the glad sound of invitation.
One day she said to her friend, I don't know but I am given over to hardness of heart, because for a long time I have not been able to weep. And yet I can hardly think it, so much do I love every body in the world.' Soon after her friend went out, and, on her return, the moment she opened the door, the old woman cried out, a sin rapture, --' Oh He's come! He's come!* I have been weeping all day!' Let no one despise or pity these tears, or think them the effect of mere nervous excitement. She had probably, in reflecting why she had not wept, seen the mercies she had experienced pass in long train before her, till her heart was moved and overcome and melted at the sight.
The next case is that of a woman much younger. By a disease, which I think is quite uncommon, she is confined almost all the time to her bed. In a late conversa. tion with her, I inquired what effect her illness, which had been upon her several years, had produced on the powers and affections of her mind-whether they had been strengthened and purified, or otherwise. She replied, that she was a very different person from what she should have been without disease, and that the enlargement of her intellect,- her ability, born out of sickness, to think clearly and strongly on various subjects,_the elevation and the power to soar, that had been given to her affections, were indeed, as, in the course of our interview, I suggested, a glorious compensation for the pangs of the body. I asked whether she found these things sufficient for her comfort in the absence her dis. ease made necessary from the great works and fine goings-on of the world around her. She said it was indeed s0,--that her friends who had made visits to her inquired in a sort of wonder, whether she would not prefer a place near the main street, where she could see passengers and carriages and all the ever-changing spectacles of business. But she replied to them that this was a very
* Referring to the Deity.
small matter indeed, that she felt her own little apartment sufficient for her. Again, I asked her, how far the spiritual consolations, of which she had spoken, had risen in her own mind independently, and how far they had been aided by the visits of the Ministry. She replied that they had risen within her in great measure of themselves, but had been aided, and made true, and real, and sure, by the sympathy expressed in these visits--that she felt her great obligations to him, her good counsellor and friend,' in whom the Ministry commenced.
The chief object I had in this conversation was to ascertain how far spiritual consolations had been of real service to her. And thus, as it were witnessing their power in the actual life of her soul, I went away with my own faith in things spiritual and Christian made bright and living. The husband of this woman is a strong Infidel. He has been reasoned and expostulated with, but to little purpose. He may be one of those, of whom I have before spoken, whom even kind treatment cannot at once convert. But it is a great comfort that to his wife, suffering has been a stronger teacher for truth than he for error!
I will describe another case, that of an aged woman, who had been visited frequently for three years, and who had welcomed every visit with the smile of grateful feeling. At length consumption seized her. As life drew nigh its close, she desired once more to commemorate in solemn service the love of her dying Lord. One Sabbath afternoon, the minister, with two friends, went to her dwelling, in one of the most wretched parts of the city. Her room was on the face of one of three immense brick walls resting on three sides of a square. And from the windows with which they were dotted, came shouts and cries, the din of mingled laughter and quarrel, of sore pain and thoughtless joy, in Babel-confusion. And, as with the builders of Babel, these voices were uttered in the language of every nation.
On entering the widow's room, a small table was seen at the bed-side covered with a white cloth, and with the elements spread upon it. And there, in an upper room, as at its first institution, the supper was eaten. The win
dows were closed to shut out the noise of a multitude, many of whom had as little sympathy with such a service, as at that first supper, had those who were thirsting for the Savior's blood. Prayer was offered, and the ordinance was administered, the aged Christian being bolstered up in her bed. Hers was not the only weeping face, but the farewell of those present was mingled with tears. A few days after she died, and on the next Sunday an occasional sermon was preached.
I had intended to speak particularly of two other cases, but have already exceeded just limits, and must omit them.
There has been implied in these cases a power given by the action of the spiritual nature so to endure great suffering as even to change it into joy. And such was the feeling strongly expressed to me by the woman first spoken of. Let no one doubt the sincerity of such a sentiment. The power, which a soul true to itself has over calamity to change it into glory, is no less real than wonderful. I know it exists. And I bless God for the myterious structure of the human spirit, and the mysterious operation with which he works in it! We wonder that the martyrs could endure cruel torments with such fortitude. And we dispute whether they did or did not receive special communications of divine strength in the season of their trial. Specially communicated or not, it was surely a divine strength. And even now, sorrowtried spirits, from the midst of their anguish, are speaking to my soul, assuring me it did not pass from the earth with the day of the Martyrs!
There is still another class that must be considered in reference to the power of this Ministry. I mean the Intemperate. No institution and no man, it might seem, could need higher praise than that of exerting an influence of peculiar blessedness in respect to that giant-sin, which still stalks over the land as the very impersonation of the principle of all evil. Now the Ministry at large, I believe, does exert this influence of peculiar blessedness.
For what are the usual modes of acting on the intemperate? First, there is the action of Government. This usually comes in at the closing scenes of the tragedy. When the dreadful springs, fixed and moved by ungoverned passion in the drunkard's mind, have reached their highest intensity, then, mid the accusations of creditors, and quarrellings in the streets,-nay, perchance mid house-burnings and sheddings of blood, the arm of civil power dashes swiftly in to complete the catastrophe. I speak not in complaint. So, to great extent, it must be. The object of government is to protect the community, not to save the individual. It cannot exert a direct spir. itual influence in the prevention of crime,-but only execute those laws, the fear of which has not withholden men from their violation. It can use only those fearful instruments of good, the prison and the gallows. It does, indeed, often happen that a sentence to the jail brings great good, and is the only thing that can, for the time, be adopted. Still it must be concluded, that government does not touch the right point for the best help and rescue of the individual. Its great object is political,--and it bears but indirectly on the soul.
But there is another mode of acting on the Intemperate, more important to be considered. It is the great mode in use at the present day. It is by the influence of Associations, formed with strict reference to this single end. This mode I would by no means disparage. It has its place,-and performs a real service. It was most natural in its origin, and adapted to the emergency of the case,-being, in the main, an embodiment of the moral power generated in individual spirits, that it might be applied so as to meet more effectually the crying and almost infinite wants of the times.
Yet, it must be said, even this mode of action is liable, in some degree, to the criticism made upon the former. The movements and measures of a Society must of course be general, and comparatively superficial. They must be applied to, and act through the medium of, the outward bearings of the evil to be checkedThe Tippling
shop is assailed by argument and general reproach. It is well. It should be so assailed. It is shown that the Distillery is the real place whence rises the smoke of torment.' It is well. It should be thus shown. Every secret fountain and store-house of the fiery element should be sought out, and, if possible, dried up. Pledges are taken from hundreds of thousands, that they will never partake of the deadly poison. Let these pledges be taken, wherever they can give support to feeble virtue. Newspapers are sent for the same end throughout the land. Let them be despatched by all means, far and near, wherever, on swift wings, they can bear an angelerrand.
Yet all these things, good as they are confessed to be, are in the nature of outward appliances. The charge in regard to them is not, that they are wrong, but inadequate.
They have done immense good, but they need a supplement. Nay, standing alone, it must be acknowledged they are in danger of moving away from the right points even of external influence. They ought in all things to remain under the guidance of the inward truth and conscience. If they should be dissociated from these, they would, in proportion to their power, carry not help, but serious damage to the human soul. And I think it right to say, that, even in their best estate, they are not all that is needed, or all that can be done. This disease of Intemperance is not one whose elements, in poisonous effluvia float invisible in the outward air. It is not a thing compounded at the bar of the rum-dealer, or born in the fumes of the Distillery. Therefore no outward action alone can destroy it. No signature of papers can by a magic spell, a cabalistic virtue, dissolve it into thin space. It is born within,-and, though outward nourishment be given it, within it grows up to strength and manhood. It is a disease in the vitals. Internal medicines alone can cure it. I believe, then, that, as government by its political action, cannot greatly avail, so Associations, by their general social action, are not entirely able, to destroy the evil of Intemperance.
There must be also, thirdly, a spiritual influence, acting upon, and moving within individuals, -and the day has