Page images
PDF
EPUB

mate as a companion, and trusting for its daily food to the never-failing bounty of Providence, it sojourned in quietude; proving that, had not disobedience entailed a curse on our ill-fated race, this world would have been to us, as it was to it, the abode of happiness-of uninterrupted joy. Then, indeed, had Sharon been a fold of flocks, and in the valley of Achor had herds lain down!' ` Oh the glory of the latter days, when they shall no more hurt or destroy in all these mountains, for they shall be holy unto the Lord!

"I had now attained the highest level of the wood, and, feeling myself somewhat fatigued with my walk, I sat down under the spreading branches of a venerable sycamine. I loved its shelter, for it reminded me of my master, and

"

of one who was anxious to see him the unconscious object of the Redeemer's grace. Blessed, blessed they into whose heart he enters, and in whose bosom he abides! They shall not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day: nor for the pestilence that walketh in dark ness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noon-day. A thousand shall fall at their side, and ten thousand at their right-hand; but it shall not come nigh them, because they have made the Lord their refuge, the Most High their habitation.'

walls: for my brethren's sake, I will say, peace be within thee.' Its situation, as you will find when we reach it, is peculiarly interesting. Nearly embosomed in the trees that waved majestically around it, gently whispering in the noon-tide breeze, it seemed to me to enjoy the coolness in which it lay; recalling to my recollection Him, who is a refuge from the storm, and a shadow from the heat,' pourtraying the security and happiness of those, who, listening. to the monitory voice of mercy, ' enter into their chambers and shut their doors about them, and hide themselves, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.'

"Before it was an orchard, the trees of which were rather thinly planted, in order that the ground below them might suffer no injury from their shade, every little nook among these our mountains being carefully cultivated by the frugal peasantry, who, with all their industry, oftentimes can with difficulty draw a scanty subsistence from the sullen soil. The grass underneath the trees had been lately mown; and the hay, now collected in heaps at proper intervals, served to enliven the cottage lawn, while it diffused around that fresh fragrance, which indicates that the meadow has yielded its waving honours to the scythe. On either side, at no great distance, rose some fine elms, which had felt the suns and storms of several centuries, and which tradition relates to have given shelter to one of the descendants of TELL, when pursued by the emissaries of the tyrant who then swayed the sceptre of the Germanic empire. Two of them, I hear, have since fallen. They were blown down during one of the most awful hurricanes that has visited this neighbourhood within the memory of man. The trunks, I understand, are still preserved as curiosities by

""

Resuming, after a little, my way, I turned the angle of an enclosure, and beheld not far before me the object of my search. Thither I proceeded. The cottage white-washed, and half hid in front with the intermingling branches and tendrils of the sweetbrier and woodbine, looked beautiful in its concealment, like a virgin, in the timidity and bashful ness of youth, scarce daring to meet the eye of the admiring world. There, I thought, is a mansion of content. Peace be within thy

one of the lords of Underwald. Behind the cabin, and finishing the landscape, was a ravine covered with wood on either bank, while, plunging along its romantic depth, flowed a stream, whose murmur, faintly borne upon the breeze, just reached the ear, and mingled with the indistinct hum of

noon.

"As I passed through the little garden which, in form of a crescent, half encircled the cottage, I remarked, that many a flower which had luxuriated in the lap of spring had already faded, or was fast following its once-gay companions to the silent receptacles of oblivion, solitude, and decay. The drooping blossoms, it is true, threw a mournful shade over the picture; but it was thus, perhaps, fully as profitable as if all around had worn the bloom of youth and health. It spoke with a still and small, but with a solemn and affecting voice, a warning which the ear is slow to hear, and the heart to understand. -"The hour is hastening when you, too, must go down to death." But a few short weeks had fled since they were arrayed in smiles, and clad in all the elegance of vernal attire, promising themselves, as you would have thought, many years to come of life and pleasure; but now behold the change! Dying or withered, neglected and falling in loneliness from the stem. Sad similitude of humanity! As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourish eth; for the wind passeth over it and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.'

"I now approached the peaceful habitation. As I drew near, I heard the voice of a child. She was reading. I stopped and listened, and soon recognized that beautiful passage which concludes the first chapter of Nahum: Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O, Judah,

[ocr errors]

keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows; for the wicked shall no more pass through thee: he is utterly cut off.' During the pause that succeeded the termination of the chapter, I entered the humble but happy dwelling, and found the good old woman instructing her grandchild. She rose when she saw me, and made what haste her aged limbs permitted to procure me a seat. As I received it from her hand, and thanked her for her intended civility, which I of course anticipated, taking the chair ere her feeble arm had raised it from the ground, she gave me her blessing, and expressed fervently her gratitude for my visit. Alas! little did she imagine, in the humility of her heart, how much I was indebted to her for allowing me to warm my spirit at the altar whereon she offered her accepted sacrifice, like her of old who waited for the consolation of Israel, serving God night and day.

You are instructing your little girl, Mrs. Duplin?' I said, as soon as mutual civilities had passed, and she had resumed her seat beside me.

66 6 Yes, Sir. She can now read her Bible pretty well.'

"I am glad to hear it. It is a good thing to have the mind early directed to the contents of that sacred book. Remember thy

[ocr errors]

Creator in the days of thy youth,' is an injunction which seems to leave a weighty responsibility with the guides of youth; for if the value of eternal things, and the divine denunciations against those who go on still in their wickedness,' and the medium of a sinner's acceptance with God, are not placed before the tender mind, it cannot be expected that the blossom of piety will expand. The ground must be cultivated ere it will bring forth.-You explain any difficult passage to the child as she proceeds?'

666

In my poor way, Sir, I en

[blocks in formation]

"I now called the child, and desired her to read me a few verses. Immediately acquiescing, she opened the Testament, agreeably to the directions of her grandmother, at the chapter which was in the regular course of her lessons; Mrs. Duplin being in the habit of making her read a chapter in the Old Testament, and two in the New, every day. The Scripture thus selected was the 2d chap. of Mark. She read several verses with great correctness, and without the monotony which is often observable among the peasantry of our own and other countries. When she had concluded the 5th verse, I stopped her, and put a few simple questions to her relative to the character of the Redeemer, and the nature of that word which he preached from place to place. Her answers, though not given perhaps with technical accuracy, indicated nevertheless, as it seemed to me, considerable acquaintance, for one of her years, with the depravity of the heart, and the means which God has appointed for reinstating his people in his favour, and of renewing them in that image in which they were originally created; but which they lost by transgression. Her explanation of the 5th verse was very beautiful and affecting. She appeared to sympathize deeply with the poor paralytic; and I observed a tear starting in her eye, when I alluded to the blessedness of hearing the voice of pardon

from the Saviour's lips: Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.""

"How pleasing," interrupting my companion for a moment, I remarked," is it to see religion thus early exemplified! and how great a cause for gratitude to be called in infancy to the knowledge of God! These distinguished subjects of divine grace are not only preserved from the thousand evils which beset the wayward steps of youth, and which so often, in those who are led to consider the error of their ways in after life, create such bitterness of regret; but they are frequently favoured, even in childhood, to be instrumental in promoting his glory, who cast his mantle upon them at so immature an age."

66

[ocr errors]

True," my friend replied; " and in the use of the appointed means we have reason to expect that the dews of heaven will descend with a fructifying influence on the soil we till. Strangely, indeed, do they mistake the divine procedure, who look for the blessing when it has not been sought, who anticipate the harvest where the seed has not been sown. I am aware, that God will have mercy on whom he will, and that the preparation of the heart is from him, in its beginning and in its end: yet the Christian cannot reasonably hope, that the Spirit will be poured upon his offspring, and that they will grow as willows by the water-courses,' when he has asked for them no benediction, nor endeavoured to lead them to the living fountains. Should not our children be taught to cry unto their Maker and Redeemer, and to lift up their little hands, and say, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth?'

"The child now resumed her. work-she was knitting a pair of warm woollen stockings, as a present for her grandmother when the winter should set in-and the good,

[blocks in formation]

"Do you attribute their conversion to your own parental instructions?"

66 6

In some measure, Sir, perhaps. I was always careful to make them go to church, and to inculcate honesty and truth upon them in their dealings; and I thought if they kept themselves from any gross violations of the law, all would be well. But when it pleased God to awaken me from my long, long sleep-for I was fiveand-sixty when I was of age years made a subject of divine graceI then saw that I had done nothing.'

"You found, I suppose, that you had laid a foundation which could not stand the scrutiny of God.'

"O yes, Sir; and often since have I blest him, that he spared my children until he had enabled me to teach them how alone he could be reconciled unto them. And O! it was sweet and pleasant to see them, grown men and women as they were, hanging on my lips with wonder, as I told them that I had always taught them wrong before. But I did it igno

rantly, in unbelief, and it was not laid to my charge.' Here she wept, and I willingly mingled a tear of gratitude with hers. All my care,' she presently resumed, 'was about outward things. I never dreamt of the necessity of a change of heart.'

"And pray, Mrs. Duplin, might I ask you at what period, and on what occasion, this important subject first engaged your attention?'

"About five years ago,' after a pause, she replied, I went to Bern to visit my son, who had married an amiable young woman and settled there. One Sabbath evening it was, and I remember well how the setting sun shone bright upon the Aar as we crossed the bridge, that some friends, who had come to visit my daughter-inlaw, took us out to walk. I do not know that I could thus employ the Sabbath evenings now, though Bethlin and I and the child sometimes stroll into the wood, when the sacred services of the day are concluded, and watch the sun going down upon the mountain, and the red clouds, for the quiet scene seems to raise our hearts to heaven; but then, however, and it was over-ruled in mercy, we went out to walk. The way we took was a path — you have no doubt been in Bern, Sir, and you'll recollect it-that leads over the hill on the other side of the river. It was a sweet evening, Sir, and the little birds were singing prettily in the trees as we passed along, and the wind gently moved the leaves. You'll wonder at my telling you all this, Sir; but that evening was an evening much to be remembered in my after life, and I retrace every little incident of it with renewed delight, and it almost seems as if they became more vivid every time my memory returns to them.-Well, Sir, we had reached the top of the hill, and were standing looking round

us on the beautiful prospect, when a sound, as of voices singing together, came up from a small house that was below. It of course attracted our attention, and we agreed to go and see what it was. We went accordingly, and found it arose from a little meeting who had joined in singing a hymn. When the hymn was ended, a gentleman, a missionary from Basle, ascended a small pulpit which had been placed for him in a corner of the room, and began to pray. In the mean time, however, I should have told you, that a respectable looking elderly woman had asked us to walk in, for we had been before standing at the window. And oh! blessed be God, that I did not refuse her invitation, though I was afraid of being called a Moravian if I accepted it, as I began to suspect these were some of your people righteous overmuch. But I went in; and blessed be the Lord!'-here she clasped her hands, and raised her eyes filled with tears to heaven"yes, blessed be the gracious Lord! that I ever entered that house.'

power. *

"You found it good,' I said to her, to be there?"

"I did, indeed, Sir. A new light seemed to be let in upon my mind. As the minister preached the word and O it was sweet to hear him, for his heart was warm to poor sinners wandering from the ways of peace; but as he told us what we were by nature, even the children of wrath, and proved to us from the Scriptures the truth of

6

what he taught; and he taught as one having authority, though with all the meekness and gentleness of a babe, I thought I should have sunk into the earth with terror. My heart almost died within me; and I said to myself, then I must perish for ever. I am lost, lost without resource!' and the divine anger seemed already let loose against me. But, when he began to point to the refuge, O never, never shall I forget how my soul leaped for joy! I knew not where I was. I appeared to be raised in an instant from the depths of misery to the height of bliss;- from the torments of hell to the felicities of heaven! He spoke of the blessed Saviour; his love to guilty and ruined man; his long-suffering; his faithfulness; his pity and his

6

Of ourselves, he said, we could do nothing; but all things through Christ strengthening us. To him he directed us as a strong tower, and bade us look to him and be saved. Believe,' he exclaimed, and his countenance brightened as he spoke, 'believe and live!' and he quoted that beautiful passage, where the kind Saviour, willing to comfort Martha for her brother's death, says to her, I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die.' Yes,' he continued, and I thought his eyes were fixed on me, as if he saw the workings of my spirit within me, or beheld my unworthy name written in the book of life, thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace!" Again he repeated it, looking calmly and tranquilly up to that abode where his own hopes found rest, thy faith hath saved

"

6

R. T.

The term "Moravian" is an epithet of reproach, applied on the continent to those who are earnest in seeking the divine favour, and are looking for an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, beyond these transitory scenes. It is used much as "Methodist," or, in later times, Cal- thee: go in peace!'" vinist," among ourselves.

--

« PreviousContinue »