Page images
PDF
EPUB

mostly he was flushed with drink, and upon occasion repulsive with blasphemy, his presence was rather feared than desired by the other attendants. On such occasions Miss B. would silence him with some terrible warning passage from the Word of God, publicly rebuking his transgressions and his vileness. Then he would go away, swearing still, but in an undertone, for fear of the faithful rebuker.

Not content with publicly rebuking the sinner, when imperatively called upon to do so, Miss B. visited at Bill's home-for he had a home, such as it was—and talked and prayed with him there.

Bill's wife, a thin, worn, wretched woman, shrunk from the violence of her husband; but she hoped and longed to see good result from Miss B.'s efforts for her own good, and that of the poor unfortunate children who owned such a father ; but notwithstanding all

; the lady's entreaties and efforts at these visits, he still continued hard and scoffing, resisting the gentle strivings of the Spirit, and spurning all the offers of salvation. Many times 'did Miss B. leave Bill's wretched home in tears, after unavailing prayers with and for him.

The Spirit of God works in many ways. He bloweth where He listeth, and operates according to Divine determination, choosing His own agents. Miss B. sat at work in her parlour one afternoon, pondering over the results of her labours in that unpromising field, when a strong impression came to her—an impression which she could not shake off—that she should go to see Bill. “Go to Bill,” the inward voice said, “and tell him that this is the last time I shall send to him. This is his last offer of mercy.” Thinking that it might be only a passing thought, she strove to put it from her ; but it returned again and again, with such pertinacity that it made her very restless. “Go, go to Bill,” the voice repeated. “Warn him for the last time.” At last, unable to resist longer, she put on her hat and went to Bill's house. His wife was at home, and in answer to the young visitor's eager inquiries, she said that her husband was at work.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“I must go to him," said Miss B. “I cannot delay my message.”

“Oh, don't, miss !” replied the woman. “ He'll be so angry with us all don't !" “ I must,” replied the young Christian.

“The message I have for him is come straight from God, and I dare not delay it."

So saying, she started off, over rough bleak moorland, up the side of a hill, along a rocky road, in the midst of a black, dreary mining country; but she stayed not to think of its length or difficulty. At length she reached the mine where Bill worked, and going straight to the offices, inquired .where the man could be found. As it turned out, he was in the engine-room, lolling and smoking with some companions as reckless and idle as himself. Miss B. encountered a look of surprise on the man's face; but she spoke gently, asking him to come out, as she had a message for him. For a wonder, he assented without foul language, perhaps silenced by the unusual character of the visit. Miss B. walked on until they had gained a place secure from observation and hearing, and then, turning round, she faced the bold blasphemer, saying:

“God has sent me to you with a message, Bill. He says this is your last offer of mercy; your last hope of pardon ; the last entreaty of His Spirit. Will you listen ?-and will you come to Him now ?”

“Oh, I can't, miss! I have no time,” replied the man, somewhat awed.

“You had time just now for idling, when you were in the engine-room. Oh! do listen to the Saviour's voice now and turn, ere it be too late. There is mercy for you, even though you may be one of the chief of sinners. God says : • Come now, and let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.' "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.' Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.””

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

perfect work, that ye may be perfect, wanting nothing." And then again this heavenly virtue is mentioned in Scripture as an essential element in all growth in grace, all acceptable service. His people “bring forth fruit with patience:" are to be “ ministers of God in much patience," even as “the husbandman hath much patience” who "waiteth for the precious fruits of the earth."

For this Spirit-taught patience is no passive attitude of sluggish resignation, but a waiting on God in that spirit of prayer, expectation, obedience, which enables our God, if we may so speak, to perfect that which concerneth us, by morally fitting us to receive His blessings. “The world cannot understand," writes the holy Fénélon, “ that patience is a journey to our true end: it fancies that patience means inaction. A struggle maintained patiently is the greatest of blessings, as seen by faith: nor can we hope for this blessing unless we continually look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith."

And is not our God greatly glorified before ungodly men, when thus, even by stormy winds and tossing waves, He “ bringeth His people to the haven where they would be?” Must not such confess that the Lord which dwelleth on high is mightier than the waves of the sea, however mighty these may be, however horribly they may rage? Even as Nehemiah's bitter assailants were much cast down in their own eyes," in view of that finished wall : “For they perceived that this work was of God.” His strength “made perfect in weakness," that is His glory, and the glory of His people. It shall be fully manifested when the fabric of His Church shall be completed, and He shall bring forth the headstone with shoutings, crying, “Grace, grace unto it.” It shall be shown forth in the life-story of every one whose way has been committed unto the Lord; and each separate trial of faith in which the believer has “ waited truly,” because “ only" on his God, shall be followed by a feast of thanks and praise as on the dedication-day of that finished wall, whose true maker and builder was God.

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

“Maybe they do; but I'm not going to die yet, Miss B. Besides, when I come to die, I'll have plenty of time, maybe, to cry for pardon. It's not likely that I shall die suddenly. I am sound and healthy, and I don't see what need there is for such a terrible alarm.”

“Remember, Bill, the same Saviour which said, 'Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out,' and 'Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,' said also, Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life. He will also say, in the last great day of judgment, 'Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.' I hold out to you His invitations and promises now; but if you spurn and reject them, you will hear the curse.”

“Well, I'll risk it; I ain't so easily frightened. There'll be plenty of time yet. At any rate, it's not long till Tuesday evening, and I'll be sure to come to your meeting.";

“Well, Bill," said Miss B., fixing her eyes solemnly upon the man, “I have come to you with the last message of hope. Now I have done my duty. The guilt rests upon your own head. May God yet have mercy upon you! I leave you in His hands.” Thus the interview ended.

She then walked away, breathing out prayers for this hardened man, while he returned to the engine-room, to talk and laugh with his companions over the strange message which he had received. There was food for merriment in it to some of them, while others stood awe-stricken, as if a voice from the other world had come to warn them. Still, all looked upon it with some manner of doubt.

Next day Bill went home from his work at the mine, complaining of a bad headache. As usual, he was so surly and disagreeable that his wife scarcely dared to perform the usual offices of kindness for him ; but thinking it would prove to be only the result of a cold, she managed to apply some domestic remedies, and he retired to bed, to toss restlessly the whole night through. At dawn of morning he was much worse ; fever ran high, while occasional fits of delirium prognosticated intense illness. As he belonged to a benefit society, his wife assumed the responsibility of summoning the usual medical man, who enjoined the strictest quiet and rest, if they would arrest the disease. But the word had gone forth—the word from the throne, from the throne with the rainbow on high ; and by slow and sure degrees Bill passed into the most delirious stage of brain fever. It mattered not that ice was applied to his burning brain, or that his head was shaved, or that the doctor resorted to all his well-known and most approved remedies : nothing took any effect. Yet occasionally lucid intervals came; intervals in which his memory recalled, although disjointedly, the conversation of two or three days before. At such times he would groan, “My last hope ! my last hope !" and then, losing consciousness, he would relapse into insensibility again, or go off into frantic ravings, cursing the memories of his mother and the gentle girl who had so fearlessly carried to him the message of salvation—a message which was half a warning, half a prophecy. She came to see him, too; prayed for him amid his ravings, mingling her tears with those of the terror-stricken wife. A few days of this terrible suffering went on, and then Bill's spirit filed to the presence of its Maker, there to answer for his rejection of the last message of mercy.

This occurrence produced a very deep and widespread feeling of awe in the neighbourhood. The circumstances were too well known to be laughed away, too terrible to be laughed at. They led others to think more seriously of the future, and to receive the warnings and invitations of the Gospel with greater solemnity, so that many among those rough illiterate miners received the word of reconciliation by the ministry of Miss B.

Some of my readers may have received a last message from God, although knowing it not. Death comes very suddenly sometimes, leaving no opportunity for even one last agonising “ God be merciful to me a sinner.” None of us are ensured against death ; none of us can know from

« PreviousContinue »