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A GREEK FUNERAL.-HOW CAN I BE BLAMED?
150 pastors who feed not the flock? but will ye, dare ye, take on your souls the ruin of those committed to your care? How can ye meet them in the judgment? how endure their reproaches in the world of despair? We pray you, cease from this blasphemous assumption of the authority of Deity; and when, burdened with sin, your ignorant people come to you for relief, tell them ye cannot forgive their transgressions, and direct them to the peace-speaking blood of Calvary.
A GREEK FUNERAL.
I REMEMBER when they buried that bright-eyed Greek maiden, snatched suddenly from earth, when her young heart was light as her face was fair. They arrayed her, so rigid and motionless, in the gay dress she had never worn but for some great fête or gala, as though this, more than any, were a day of rejoicing for her; and thus attired, with her long hair spread out over her still bosom, all decked with flowers, they laid her uncoffined in the grave. At her feet they placed a small flask of wine, and a basket of corn, in accordance with an ancient Greek superstition, which supposes that for three days and nights the disembodied spirit lingers mournfully .around its tenement of clay, the garments of its mortality, wherein, as a pilgrim and a stranger on the earth, it lived and loved, it sinned and suffered. As soon as the first symptoms of decay announce that the course of corruption is at work, they believe that the purer essence departs to purer realms. Before the grave was closed, whilst for the last time the radiance of the sunset cast a glow, like the mockery of life, over the marble
face of the poor young girl, her friends, as a last precaution, took measures to ascertain that she was actually dead, and not in a swoon. The means they always take in such instances to ascertain a fact which elsewhere would be ensured by a doctor's certificate, are touching in the extreme: the person whom, whilst alive, it was known the deceased loved best-the mother, or, it may be, the young betrothed, who had hoped to place on her head the gay and bridal crown, instead of the green laurel garland of death-advances and calls her by name, repeating after it the word "ella" (come) several times, in a tone of passionate entreaty. If she is mute to this appeal, if she is deaf to the voice dearest to her on earth, then they no longer doubt that she is dead indeed; they cover up the grave, lift their eyes to the heaven, where they believe her to be, (for the Greeks do not hold to the doctrine of purgatory,) and having made the sign of the cross, they depart in silence to their homes. But a year after, on the anniversary of the death, they return to the grave, and kneeling down, lay their lips to the sod, and whisper to the silent tenant: they love her still, and she is yet remembered and regretted.
HOW CAN I BE BLAMED? A LITTLE distance down the declivity of Time there is an awful lake; and it has been formed by the enemy of your life. He has filled the once frightful chasm there with the thousand resinous streams that were tumbling from the mountain's side, and by some mysterious process has set it all on fire. From its burning bosom, leading backward to a point fixed as the first instant
of your being, he has caused a broad pathway to be laid. Here is the fra
grance of perpetual flowers, and the blending of the most melodious sounds. The gay, the beautiful, are busy here; and perfect happiness awaits you upon every side.
fer the one which your enemy has made. For a few years you are feasted by its luxurious delights; but now your destruction glares upon your sight. To attempt to retrace your steps is all in vain. But who is guilty of your ruin? Are the hands of Mercy imbrued with blood, because the roughness of her path presented less that was attractive to your eye; or because, by some wondrous power, to her thorny way she did not incline your heart? Is not your destruction yours? and as Mercy chides you upon suspended wing, is she not an angel still?
But on an errand from heaven to earth the angel of Mercy comes. Her course is over the flashing waters of that burning lake, then up the delightful path which your enemy has prepared. She visits you the instant that your consciousness begins, and tells you of the dangers of that path, and likewise of another which runs parallel by its side-the work of her own fair hands. "Strait is the gate," and the way is rough and filled with thorns; but it is safe, and adapted to all the purposes of being. You step forward into life, acquainted with the peculiari-heaven? ties of each; but charmed by the prospective happiness it presents, you pre
Oh my dying, yet immortal friend! in that coming day will not God yet be love, and you guilty of the gnawing anguish of eternal flames ? Would you escape the woes of hell? through Christ would you gain the bliss of Behold that ever open way! "By Him, if any man enter in, he shall be saved."
OR, THE INFIRM SCHOOLMASTER. THE annals of the poor are, we think, more likely to be useful than the lives of the wealthy, when published; since they afford patterns for imitation to a far more numerous class of persons. There were some traits in the character of George Toppin which deserve to be recorded, and some which will interest children, for whom at present we write, and very many of whom this little history will reach through our Magazine.
George was the child of poor parents,
and was very early left to the care of his mother, from whom he was never, through life, separated. How strong must be the bond of a mother's love, when, for nine-and-thirty years, this poor, hard-working woman-a widow, too, by far the greater part of the time -so narrowly watched over the wants of her helpless son, as never to have been two nights away from him, it is said! George, poor lad, was one of those of whom, by reason of infirmity, it is common to say, "They can neither work nor want." But maternal solicitude, not without constant effort by
manual labour, often in the fields, and frugal management of the house, provided a home to him possessed of many comforts.
world, before he attained the small eminence which he did at length reach. With malformation of body, and feebleness of nerve, he would naturally have avoided the observation of his fellows; but hard necessity impelled him to urge his way to the desk of a common dayschool.
We have heard of some boys being cruel enough to take advantage of his infirmity; and at any time he must have been at the mercy of the stouter lads. But at all times George had a weapon at hand-to him the most potent, defensive armour-that of
It often happens, in the humbler walks of life, that bodily ailment leads to a better cultivation of the mind than usually falls to the lot of those who are able to work for their bread. The lad who is unfit for the cordwainer's stall, or the weaver's loom, is kept, if possible, at school, that he may be enabled to earn a livelihood another way, whilst his more robust brother grows up under the same roof, it may be, a great dunce."a meek and quiet spirit." The writer We shall not stop here to inquire into the propriety or desirableness of the practice which makes teachers of those who are fit for nothing else; what we have to do with is the fact that many schoolmasters and some ministers have been so selected; and George Toppin was one of the former.
It was his privilege to be very early connected with the Independent Sabbath-school at Hexham, and from being a scholar he became a teacher; and his attachment to the school was followed by as close a connection with the congregation. But George became a teacher by profession, as the only way in which, with his frail body, "he could win an honest penny." What he learnt at a common charity-school was nearly all the stock with which he began business. Perhaps more than ordinary attention was bestowed upon him by his far-seeing master, from the very circumstance of his depending for a future livelihood on what he could learn. The poor lad, with one of the coyest natures that ever ventured to make its way in the world, was urged to the attempt, and succeeded. Many a harsh joust he must have encountered in this rude
knew him well, had many opportunities of conversing with and observing him in the Sabbath-school and elsewhere, and found him through life to be one of the meekest of men, never having heard froin him one angry or uncivil word. This is a rare virtue, and in his case particularly valuable, as it turns away wrath where there is no other power to meet it.
The most amiable qualities, however, cannot avail for our salvation. There may be much that is lovely where the heart is unchanged, and this our friend knew and acknowledged. vity of our nature, and the necessity of the new birth, the preciousness of the atonement of Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit, were doctrines which he had long learnt, and which he had begun to teach others; and though his temperament was such as to incline him to silence, if not to melancholy, and his great failing was that of indulging doubts, we trust that as a "bruised reed" he was leaning upon his Saviour, and that, "heavy laden," he had found rest in Christ.
George continued to live with his mother, and would, no doubt, out of
his quarter-pence, with pleasure contribute to her comfort in declining years, to whom he owed so much through life. We speak not of enlightened piety, but of maternal care. His school work was only suspended about three weeks by his last illness; indeed, he scarcely took to his bed till his dying day, and then so quietly was he dismissed from his frail tabernacle, that his faithful guardian even was caught off her watch; and his former master, who seems to have felt for him
a steady friendship, came in, and went to the bed-side to speak to him, but there was neither voice nor hearing." George had gone "where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest."
He died March 27th, 1849, having walked the wilderness of this world little less than forty years; yet so circumscribed was his track, that he lived all that time, we think, in Priestpopple-street, Hexham. J. R. Hexham, April 13th, 1849.
The Letter Box.
ENCOURAGEMENT TO PARENTS
AND TEACHERS. SIR,-Having met with the following interesting case in the prosecution of my duties, and thinking it may instruct and interest your numerous readers, I send it; that, if you think well, it may have a place in your valuable PENNY MAGAZINE.
It appears to illustrate two or three principles, and to afford encouragement to parents, teachers, and afflicted believers: the first two may find encouragement to pray and labour on in hope, though they see no fruit of their labours; and the afflicted believer may find encouragement to trust on allsufficient grace in seeing such a remarkable instance of its power. The case also teaches, how various, and to us inexplicable, are the methods God takes to call his children, and convert them by his grace. The poor man, whose case I am about to relate, is named J residing in
street, St. Luke's, Lon
don. I was requested to visit him, hearing only that he was ill; but I found he had been confined to his bed seven years with diseased spine. I soon discovered he was a rejoicing Christian, though a great sufferer, and very poor in this world's goods; exemplifying the words in James: "He hath chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith."
Feeling interested in his case, I requested him to give me some account of his history; and this is an outline of it:
"I was," said he, "a healthy lad till about fourteen years of age, when I had a severe cold, which brought on typhus fever. From that time I was subject to fits, which greatly impaired my health; but I got on, learned the shoemaking business, and eployed a man as well as worked myself, till I was between twenty and thirty years of age, when I was taken ill again; and from that time I never recovered. I got worse and worse; I was a patient
of my life-here I Shut up to myself, I did
at several hospitals, and under every for the reason I have told you; so I doctor of whom I heard, who was was going to beg he would take me likely to know my case: but all in and try what he could do, but he vain; at last a doctor in Bloomsbury stopped me by saying again,' We can told me what my disease was, and do nothing for you;' adding, You advised exercise, and such exercise must go home and go to bed. I went as led me into sinful company more home, and, in a few days, was conthan I had been before, though I dis- fined to my bed; and here I have liked religion; but I got no better. been ever since. But it has been the And, at length, I was advised to go to happiest period Dr. Conquest, who was very attentive found Jesus. to me, and had me under his care a long while; till one morning he said, Young man, I can do nothing more for you; you must go home and go to bed, and I am sorry to tell you-but there you will spend the remainder of your days.' I left him with a heavy heart; and as I walked up the Cityroad (I lived at Islington) I thought What! and am I to be confined to my bed all my life; I can never bear it; I will put an end to my life. I went to the Canal-bridge with the full determination of throwing myself over; but people passing so thick, I was prevented. I stayed some time, and then I thought I would go to the New River; it is more retired. I went, and walked a long way along the bank, but could not get an opportunity; and, at length, I seemed to see the eye of God looking down upon me, though I knew nothing of God then. At last I was obliged to give over the thought of drowning, but I was determined not to live; so I thought, if I could get into an hospital, they would try experiments, and that would soon kill me, for that was all I wanted. I soon obtained an order, and went; but as soon as the doctor looked at me, he said, Young man, your case is above our skill, we can do nothing for you.' I was very anxious to get in
not know what to do, so I took my Testament, which I received from the Sunday-school, for my mother always sent me there till I thought myself too old to go. I had never read it since I left school till now, nor thought about what I heard there; but now I began to think of it, and to see the Word of God as I had never seen it. My poor mother began to talk to me about the Saviour, and I was glad to hear her; though before I used to laugh and mock at her when I heard her praying for me, which she did when I was serving Satan. At length I began to feel my sins, and thought I should be lost; this made me cry for mercy, and Jesus was pleased to manifest himself to me; I was enabled to trust my soul on him, and had much peace of heart amidst all my pain of body, which is sometimes very great. After this, I was visited by a lady from Liverpoolroad Chapel, and, after some time, was entered into their society, and have continued ever since, though they do not often visit me now. I wish they would; the visits of Christian friends cheer me; though I am not without consolation; my Jesus visits me, and makes me rejoice in my sufferings and privations; and they are not small, for I suffer most excruciating pain many hours of the night, and my poor old