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her heart, than the lengthened resistance she made to the first impulses of God's regenerating spirit. For nearly six weeks, she secretly endeavoured to stifle convictions, and chose rather to endure a sad aggravation of distress, than confess her feelings, and make application for that instruction and comfort she so much needed. But when once she divulged the state of her mind, this very circumstance helped forward the mighty work of conversion; and when she afterwards so earnestly "minded the things of the Spirit," it was certainly an evidence that a change so much at variance with former practices, and so contrary to her own inclination, was not effected by herself, but by the irresistible operations of the Holy Ghost.
From the period of my first acquaintance with Miss. M. I visited her very frequently during a whole month, until the terminating stages of her disease prevented me from seeing her.
But I do not propose to give any regular account of the successive interviews which I had with this dying convert. I shall rather attempt to exhibit her progress in the divine life, by stating some of the leading features of her character which came under my own observation. These were humility, eagerness for instruction, delight in prayer, concern for the salvation of others, a watchful observance of Providence, and composure in the prospect of death.
I begin with her HUMILITY, because it was peculiarly eminent, as being so opposite to her previous dispositions. She was naturally of a very quick perception, which, combined with a finish ed education, gave her a conscious superiority to many of those around her. Comparing herself with the defective and delusive standard of worldly attainments in others, she found much to excite feelings of complacent satisfaction-she stood high in her own vain conceits and boasted acquirements; and pride was so predominant a principle, that her inward struggles lasted long, before she could yield to the dictates of a condemning conscience. But, O how interesting were the first ebullitions of her subdued spirit! When I went to act, at her own request, as a spiritual instructor, she said to the person who informed her of my being in the house, "Well, it is hard to bear; but I submitI must be humble." And to myself, her first words gave proof that she had unconsciously been learning humility in the school of Christ: "I am ashamed of my ignorance, and I wish to be taught like a little child."
When the sinner is brought to try himself by the standard of God's law, he soon discovers his short-comings, and then his selfglorying is turned into self reproach. In this way Miss M. ceased to boast of her accomplishments, and humbly confessed that her ignorance was so great as to require instruction in the very first principles of the religion of Christ. And had this change in her views been merely occasioned by the temporary influence of
a desponding feeling, it would speedily again have given place to the natural sway of human pride. But as she made advances in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, her mind became the more imbued with the adorning virtue of Christian humility. When she was aroused from the sleep of sinful security, and perceived the threatening danger which surrounded her, she said, like the prodigal, "I will arise and go to my father;" and in the same spirit of humble contrition which prompted him to confess, "I am unworthy to be called thy son: make me one of thy hired servants," she even deemed herself as undeserving of any share whatever in the regard of a sin-pardoning God, and never ceased to exercise a watchful guard against a presumptuous enjoyment of that peace which reigned in her soul. Renouncing every self-righteous plea, she received with meekness the ingrafted word; and estimating aright the comparative insignificance and vanity of her mental superiorities, she imitated the great apostle in counting all things but dross, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus her Lord. Surely a humility like this, so deep and so uniform, could only be the offspring of divine grace.
No less conspicuous was her EAGERNESS FOR INSTRUCTION. Much she had learnt; but still she felt and confessed that a poor Sunday school girl knew much more than she did of those truths which were chiefly valuable to immortal creatures. The knowledge of God, and of her own heart, and of the way of salvation, had never formed branches of her education. But the conviction of her ignorance, and, at the same time, the discovery of the paramount importance of divine things, filled her with the most ardent desire to have this deficiency made up; and the earnestness of her solicitations to be instructed in the doctrines of the gospel, and the extreme attention with which she listened, while I endeavoured, from day to day, to expound the scriptures, testified that, as she now perceived where "the pearl of great price" was hid, it was her determination to search till she found
The best of her days had been wasted in folly; she deeply mourned over a loss so great and so irretrievable; but it now became her habitual aim, as much as circumstances permitted, to redeem the time that was past, by the more diligent improvement of what still remained; and, considering the extent of her natural and acquired talents, it was quite to be expected, that when grace removed darkness and prejudice from her mind, the light of God's word would find a ready entrance, and shine with peculiar lustre. This was indeed the case, to a degree which often surprised me, and, in part, accounts for her rapid progress in knowledge and in holiness.
She was very thoughtful, and "pondered in her heart" the wonderful truths which she now so gladly received; but she scl
dom spoke of the state of her mind, excepting to myself. Sometimes, in the evenings, the young lady who so faithfully attended her, read in her hearing portions of the scripture, or psalms or hymns and always, when her strength permitted, she had the Bible at hand for her own consultation. She took particular pleasure in perusing the book of Psalms, which often confirmed my belief, that her religion was truly of an experimental kind.
This leads me to notice her DELIGHT IN THE EXERCISE OF PRAYER. What she used to regard as a mere form, which was more frequently neglected than attended to, was now viewed as an incumbent duty, and esteemed as the most exalted privilege. Whenever she felt her wants to be urgent and numerous, and believed that God was able and willing to supply them, she then from the heart rejoiced that there was a free and constant access to the throne of grace. She always requested me to pray with her at the conclusion of our conversations: and often, when she was most unable for speaking, she seemed to enjoy the greater happiness in joining in prayer. Such was the importance she attached to this Christian duty, that she never failed, as I left her room, to beg of me to remember her in my private supplications to the Almighty. I understand she was importunate in making the same request to the good people with whom she lived, and even, at different umes, sent for the worthy old widow to pray at her bedside.
A little circumstance, which I shall mention, gives a convincing proof of the inward satisfaction which she experienced in her own communions with God. One forenoon, when I had gone to see her, I found her worse than usual, and scarcely able to speak to me. On inquiring what was the matter, she replied, "I am a poor weak creature, Sir; and last night, a friend who called to see me, thought my spirits low, and insisted on my getting out of bed. I dare say he meant it for my good, but he would not believe how ill I am : and I thought he used me so harshly, that it quite distressed me; and when he left me, I wished to pray but I could not.-No, sir, I could not pray, and this distressed me more. All that I could do, was, with tears to commit my agitated soul to God. I know it was wrong, but I am so weak." It was impossible to listen to this interesting complaint without being affected; but I tried to sooth and calm her mind, assuring her, that He who is the hearer of our prayers, will even accept of our sighs and our groans when the sorrows of our hearts are too big for com
Prayer has been the solace of God's people in all ages; it has been the very first and strongest proof of their discipleship, as might be illustrated by many scripture examples. And if frequency and fervour in this heavenly exercise afford evidence that the heart is devoted to God, I cannot withhold this testimony to the change produced in the mind of Miss M. I know not that she ever read the apostolic injunction, "Pray without ceasing;" but B
it might be said of her, that, in the true spirit of this divine precept, prayer was the very element in which her heaven-born soul delighted to breathe.
Her CONCERNS FOR THE SALVATION OF OTHERS was another trait in her character, which indicated that she really felt the grace of God in her own heart. Unless we are brought to some experimental knowledge of the lost and ruined state of all mankind by sin, we can never exercise towards them that feeling of Christian compassion which stirs us up to labour and pray for their salvation. But when the eyes of the mind are opened to see the depravity of our own hearts, and what is the awful consequence of living at a distance from God, we then take a new interest in our perishing fellow-creatures; and having ourselves experienced that God is plenteous in mercy, and willing to pardon the returning penitent, we rejoice in every opportunity of proclaiming the divine longsuffering and forgiveness to such as have hitherto lived without God and without hope in the world.
This was the case with Miss M. At intervals of ease, when she almost thought she was getting better, she took pleasure in the anticipations of uniting with other Christians in their "labours of love," and of devoting her talents to the service of her Saviour. She frequently expressed her wishes to see my Sunday school, and delighted in the idea of mingling with the children, from some of whom she had received the dawnings of spiritual enlightenment; and although it was in the humblest manner, she also pleased herself with the hope of being able to take some part in forwarding their instruction. To her brother she frankly communicated all the change that had taken place in her sentiments and hopes. She repeatedly gave him her best advice; and likewise, as a favour, requested of me, that I would admit him to my acquaintance; as it was her earnest desire, that he might, by the mercy of God, enjoy the same peace and comfort as she did herself. She did not even conceal from the doctors what the Lord had done for her soul; and embraced every opportunity of recommending that religion which she had found to be her only substantial solace.
And here I cannot omit to narrate a very interesting circumstance which she once mentioned to me, when expressing how happy it would make her to be useful to others: "Indeed, Sir," she said, "you may think it strange, but I flatter myself that God has already rendered my illness of essential benefit to at least one individual besides myself." I certainly wondered at this, as scarcely any body was admitted to her room." But I'll tell you how it happened," she continued. "In a family where I occasionally visited here, when I was all gaiety, there is a little servant girl, who has, since my confinement, been very frequently sent to inquire for me. One day, not long ago, she had been so anxious to see me that I allowed her to come in. The next time
she returned, she particularly requested to speak with me; and on approaching my bedside, she immediately fell on her knees, and exclaimed, 'O Ma'am! I shall bless God as long as I live for having seen you. I was well taught at a Sunday school, but when I went to service, I soon forgot all the good instructions 1 had received, and became very thoughtless and giddy. But when I saw you look so ill, and remembered how lively you used to be, I thought if I was reduced to the same situation, what would support me? I felt convinced that my life was not a preparation for death, and many things that I had heard from my teacher rushed into my recollection: and, I hope the Lord will never suffer me to be so foolish again.' I was affected," said Miss M. "with this poor girl's behaviour. She had often witnessed my extravagant flow of spirits in her master's house, and, perhaps it proved a snare to her. My ghastly appearance now presented such a contrast, that it was natural for a young tenderhearted girl to be struck with it; but O, what a cause of rejoicing if she is thus truly brought back to God!"
Nor was this concern for the salvation of others only an occasional feeling with Miss M. It grew with her growth in the experience of vital religion; and her dying request to me was, that I should write an account of her conversion, as she hoped it might be useful to others. In this way, though she is now dead, she yet speaketh.
In all her former life, she yielded a practical obedience to the doctrine of chance; but latterly she became the most minute OBSERVER OF PROVIDENCE. In every thing she traced the hand of God; and, instead of fretting with a peevish discontent at many dispensations which she had felt to be almost intolerable, she now acknowledged that they were all the appointments of divine goodness. Every day she continued to make fresh discoveries of the infinite wisdom which reigns in the councils of heaven, and thankfully blessed God for those very events of her life, which she had been accustomed to consider as cruel and harsh. "Ah! Sir," she sometimes would have said, "when my godmother died, who was the only parent I ever knew, I thought it very unkind in the Almighty to deprive me of such a friend; and afterwards, as I lost so many relatives, one after another, I gave myself up to a constant indulgence of complaint, which aggravated my grief, and rendered me more miserable. I felt myself friendless and forlorn. I could not submit: but now I see that all these afflictions were necessary, to teach me the emptiness and uncertainty of human enjoyments, and are prominent parts of the way by which God was to bring me to himself." How justly might she have used the poet's words:
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain :
And he will make it plain.