« PreviousContinue »
joys and sorrows of my subsequent career. bitterly she lamented her neglect of my soul; while, with the keen perception of an awakened spirit, she pointed out declension in my character. Lifting the blame from off my head, she heaped it on her own, amidst tears and deprecations from my dear aunt and myself. Again she secured a promise from my aunt to lead me in the narrow way. Then there appeared to fall upon her, most remarkably, the spirit of prophecy; and, gazing along the dim outline of my career, she told what should befal me of suffering and sorrow-wept floods of tears upon my head-charged me with the fulfilment of a thousand duties to my father, my sister, and my baby brother; warned me of the world's wiles, and bade me love it not-urged me to follow on to know the Lord—and, whatever I did or did not, to guide my brother and sister in "the way ." which leads to God. Then she folded her hands upon my head and prayed-as dying mothers only do. What blessings from heaven above she invoked upon my head! What heavenly places in Christ Jesus she bespoke for me!
And then the baby boy, fragile as if a breath of wind would blow him away-then for the last time he nestled his little fair face in her bosom, while his silken hair waved to her labouring breathEdwin, her only son-the substitute of the departed ones-her Seth, her hope, her joy, her pride-to leave thee motherless! That was the keenest pang! But now the Christian mother grapples with the trial, and in her God prevails. She looks to her strong tower-her sure refuge-the God of love! To Him she commits her darling child. She clings to his promises, she hangs upon his word, she leans upon his arm, and hands over to his ceaseless care and unfailing love, her last-her dearest one. "Oh! that Ishmael might live before thee!"
And now she has nothing to do but-to die! and that "is gain!" She had left her testimony to the truth of that "faithful saying," and recommended it as "worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief." And now, having lain long upon that weary bed of pain and sickness, she longed to go out. A desire sprang up spontaneously within her to be away, and she restlessly gave vent to her aspirings in a request to be removed into the adjoining room. My father carried her to an easy chair, so placed as to command the prospect of a lovely country, stretching away from the back of our house over luxuriant meadows, dark fringing woods, and the silvery windings of a narrow river, and bounded by surrounding hills. Upon the summits of these appeared to lie a huge bank of dark clouds; as if the evening curtain hung in festoons, as yet unloosed, and waited to be spread out upon the so loved world. The glorious July sun was just above the misty vapours, gilding its edge with burnished gold, and dying its draperies in the hues of heaven. My mother watched it sink behind the cloud, and exclaimed-"I shall never see thee set again!" It had been almost too much for her this lingering about the scenes familiar to her from her infancy-this last look upon the wreck of Eden-only that she knew she was nearing a paradise of imperishable beauty, where no cloud obscures the Sun of Righteousness, which, having once arisen on her soul, shall set no more for ever. And so she was borne back again, to die :-to die ?-to live!-to escape from her prison-house, and live for ever! For Jesus saith, "whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
All that last long night she lay just on the confines of eternal day. It was long! but at last the
morning sun arose. Peeping above the horizon, he pioneered his path with streams of light; then, "ascending with the morning," tipped the old grey spires and tall green woods with liquid gold; then, breaking from the embraces of the mists of night, he flooded the awakening world with glory. Forward! forward! in thy fiery chariot-hang not about the heights of Gibeon, nor linger over the valley of Ajalon; but haste to thy noonday height, that she may burst her clay cerements, and live! for she shall "see thee set no more."
And now my mother lay listening for the approach of the Angel of the Covenant; "looking for the appearance of her Deliverer, and hastening unto the land of endless blessedness." Her desire to put off mortality was beautifully signified in the act of taking off her cap, and flinging it to the foot of the bed. She wanted to be free. "Loose (her) and let her go!" She sat up, and raised her attenuated arms towards heaven:-we understood the wish, so oft expressed before," If I may but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be made whole!" The faints of death now laid her prostrate. With her hand clasping my father's, she whispered, "Pray that the Lord Jesus will receive my spirit!" She raised her eyes towards the place whence her help came-the sun was at the zenithmy mother! my mother! "The chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof!" Her emancipated spirit hath gone up to God.
I had but just gone down stairs, at the request of my aunt, who, to spare me the last moment, had gently led me outside the room, and desired me to mind my little brother. He was sitting in his little chair, with a larger one for his table, spread over with all his little treasury of toys, which one kind hand after another had heaped before him. My father's hurried step, rapidly descending the stairs,
arrested our attention. As he entered the room, he exclaimed, "She's gone!" No sooner did the baby boy hear this, than, as if he fully comprehended all his loss, he swept the toys upon the floor, and sprang into his father's arms. My father knelt beside that chair-cleared by the unconscious child for our temporary altar-and there my father committed the departed spirit of our loved mother to our risen and ascended Saviour, invoked the blessings of her God and our God, her Father and our Father, upon his charge, and arose refreshed. We drank at the fountain of Divine love, and were invigorated. We took a hasty retrospect of the past-we remembered the dream of the foundationless pavilion--the wrestling with God in the attic-the sandy foundation which my father had detected, and exposed to her: and as we realised the truth that the stone laid in Zion had supplied the deficiency; that a prayer hearing and answering God had suffered us to prevail; that she had been led off from the shifting sands to rest upon the Rock of Ages; and that she was now, though absent from the body, yet present with the Lordwe scarcely knew how to find language to express our gratitude and joy.
"Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave."John xi. 38.
WHEN I saw my sweet mother again, she was laid upon the bed; her icy limbs were straightened, her chin was kerchiefed, and her eyes closed in death.
We kissed her clay-cold feet-dearer, far dearer, to us than coral lips, carnation-tinted cheeks, or alabaster brow. It was our mother. I crept into that quiet chamber as often as I could manage to slip away unobserved. At night, I hoped to have an unmolested watch; and when I ought to have gone to bed, I crept beside my mother, and sat behind the curtain. There was no light. There was no voice to cheer me. But she was there! and I reflected how soon this meagre consolation would be denied me. Tears of joy and of sorrow ran down my cheeks, in mingled streams. I spoke to her I called her "Mother!" I reminded her of all her love to us, and invoked her, as a guardian angel, to follow us through every lane of life, until she should be permitted to gather us to her heavenly home. I prayed-ah! how I prayed beside that clay-cold corpse! I prayed for the salvation of my sister and brother, till sobs choked my utterance. Hour after hour rolled past, and the family were about to retire, when I was summoned to prayer. But I was nowhere to be found. I could not have gone to bed, for I had never said "good night." The house was searched-the neighbours were inquired of; but no one had seen the child. All at once, they thought it just possible to find me in my mother's room. Ah!