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Still, notwithstanding the doctor's assurance of there being no danger —that the child would surely do well-my mind had received a warning, from the effects of which it could not rally. I was conscious that my heart had been in a cold and thankless state-that it had wandered far from God—that it had forsaken the fountain of living waters, and had hewn out unto itself cisterns, which now, to my sorrow, had proved broken cisterns, that could hold no water. Conscious of this, I was led at once to recognize a Father's chastening hand; and the fervent prayer of my heart was, not so much that the child should be spared, as that the purpose, will, and pleasure of the Almighty should be accomplished: that He would bow my stubborn will to His, not His to mine-and that, above all, He would sanctify the affliction; that whatever were the result, whether the life of my dear child was spared or taken, a sense of what the chastizing hand of an offended God and Father could do, should have a becoming influence upon my heart; and that my soul might be brought, under the operation of the blessed Spirit, to kiss the rod, to despise not the chastenings of the Almighty, and to faint not when I was thus justly rebuked of Him.
My naturally stubborn and rebellious heart was thus, step by step, brought into a submissive frame. Another and another fit, at distant intervals, succeeded the one previously described; and again and again was my mind influenced by alternate hopes and fears.
At length, when engaged in business at some distance from my home, a friend called and said that another fit had seized the little sufferer. My child-my sweet, engaging boy-was no more!
I will not pain the reader, nor open afresh the wound in my own bosom, by depicting my return home-the agony of my spirit, as I fell prostrate upon my dear departed child-nor my first interview with its mother, and little brother and sisters. I have already said much more than I intended upon the loss itself; my object was rather to set forth and describe, to the best of my ability, the goodness, faithfulness, and love of God, in strengthening, supporting, and comforting His people under every affliction wherewith He, in His infinite wisdom, sees fit to visit them. The rod is in a Father's hand; He useth it not in sport: "He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." But there are certain periods in which He sees it needful to lay upon His sons and daughters His afflictive, chastening hand; at the same time He never, never forgets their frame, but remembers they are dust; and therefore is pleased, sooner or later, to accompany every stroke of His hand with some sweet promise of His own most faithful Word-such as, "If my children forsake my law, and keep not my commandments, then will I visit their sins with a rod, and their iniquities with stripes; nevertheless (oh! that blessed nevertheless), my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail." "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to
escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” O believer! be not dismayed
nor discouraged, since the word of promise is set over against, opposite to, and by the side of every affliction, temptation, or sorrow, with which thou canst possibly be exercised.
We may compare God's dealings with His family to a tradesman's account-book: if on the one page be set down, according to the Christian's fears, and at the suggestion of unbelief, a long catalogue against him, like so many large amounts, for which the day of payment must come,
and he sees not how to meet them; let him be enabled to look with the eye of faith on to the other page, and there will he discover promise after promise, exactly suited to his need: and, by-and-by, when the page of life is filled, and the child of God is called to balance his books, and give account of his stewardship, he will find the promissory notes of his gracious God and Father in Christ Jesus have all been so strictly honoured as to leave a balance in his favour, so that neither death nor hell, sin nor Satan, shall have aught to bring to his charge; and he shall go out of life, and enter the gates of the new Jerusalem, singing of grace-rich, free, and sovereign grace!
But to return. As I said, I saw the bereaving stroke wherewith God had visited me was in justice and in Fatherly displeasure. I saw, moreover, that it was of no use for me to murmur or repine; and, if I felt I stood in need of comfort and support under this, one of the heaviest afflictions wherewith He had ever visited me, the prayer of my heart must be for submission, and a cheerful acquiescence in the will of the Most High. In mercy this desire was laid most deeply upon my mind; and I never was favoured with more nearness of access to a throne of grace, with more quietude and composure of spirit, nor with sweeter or more enlarged views of Gospel truth. My soul was even as a weaned child. While in the world, I had the blessed assurance that I was not of the world. My heart was in heaven, where I entertained an unshaken confidence my treasure was also. I recognized the sweet, loving hand of a covenant God and Father, in all His dispensations towards me, and, in reference to my recent loss, was continually compelled to exclaim, “Blessed affliction! blessed affliction! I would not have it otherwise; I would not that my child should return for a thousand worlds. And, if the Lord were to give me my choice whether I would have him back again or not, His grace enabling me, I would say, 'No, Lord!'"
But, amidst these sweet exercises, there were moments when such thoughts as these flashed across my mind with the rapidity of lightning, casting a damp upon my spirits beyond expression, and causing me to cry and groan to the Lord for comfort and support, entreating Him that He would enable me to leave my dear departed babe in His hands. The thoughts that suggested themselves to my mind were such as these: "But where is your child?" "What evidence have you that he is saved?" "You know that every soul that enters heaven must experience the new birth, and what reason have you to suppose that your little infant has ever been new born?" These and similar questions struck like daggers to my heart; and my mind, for the most part, was so destitute of argument, that I had no power to repel the tempter. All I could do was to cast myself, as a poor, helpless sinner, upon God, and entreat that He would be pleased, in some way, to set my mind at rest.
It was Sabbath morning; my dear babe still lay in its coffin. The day of its interment had been postponed from time to time, that its dear little image might not be lost entirely from our view. There is a melancholy satisfaction afforded in standing by the remains of a departed friend, which causes one to anticipate, with still greater reluctance, its consignment to the silent tomb. For my own part, I have often experienced a more than earthly pleasure, as I have stood gazing upon the remains of a dear relative or friend, who had been made more than conqueror over the last enemy. I had, probably, been acquainted with some of their exercises while living; a knowledge of their interest in the dying love of Jesus was obscured by the darkness and unbelief of their hearts; or, if
not so, their characters were clearly depicted by the Apostle, when he said that some, "from fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage." If I may speak of myself, I would say, this has not been my case; though, for the most part, I walk "in darkness, and have no light;" my sky is generally beclouded, and my soul the subject of numberless fears and misgivings, as it is tossed to and fro upon the billows of temptation and unbelief: one hour exclaiming with the Psalmist, 'My mountain stands strong; I shall never be moved;" "Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; " and only the next hour, probably, crying, in agony of spirit, "I shall one day fall by the hand of this or that enemy." Yet, generally speaking, with regard to the hour of dissolution, my mind rests upon the promise, "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." Nor do I expect dying strength in a living hour. When a dying hour approaches, my blessed Lord and MasterHe who, I rejoice to think, hath the keys both of death and of hell-well knows that my poor staggering faith will be sure to give way, unless His hand is underneath me, and His supporting, if not His comforting, presence vouchsafed. I have no other hope nor confidence than this, in the prospect of that solemn hour- the promise of Jesus.
But are any of my readers exercised upon this ground? Do I hear them saying, "Ah! could I but have the sweet evidence that this would be my case, then methinks I should be happy! But the fear of death destroys the little comfort I sometimes experience, while hoping I have an interest in the sympathy and love of Jesus." And hast thou, reader, no higher views of thy Jesus than this? Is thy confidence in Him so weak and thy belief in His power so limited? Why, dost thou know who Jesus -thy Jesus-is? He is "The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." He has vanquished death, hell, and sin; and, having locked the gates of death and of hell, and taken the keys into His own possession, He has returned to glory as a mighty Conqueror. "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle." The battle is fought, poor soul!-the victory is won; and Jesus, thine elder Brother, thy Husband, thy Friend, has returned as the first fruits. And, since "thy life is hid with Christ in God," and His promise is, "Because I live, ye shall live also," so surely shalt thou be with Him. There is nothing precarious or doubtful about it. Thy Jesus "is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent." He never met with thee in the wilderness, called thee by His grace, and is now leading thee on, step by step, to let thee perish at last. He is not so unskilful a workman in the glorious scheme of salvation as this. His promise is, "I will never leave thee, I will never forsake thee." Nor will He, either in life, or death, or to all eternity.
But I was speaking of a Sabbath morning. I had been hearing the Rev. D. Denham from these words, "My grace is sufficient for thee;" and was returning home, regretting that I had not heard with comforting. power, and that no dew had been upon the fleece, though what had been advanced was calculated in the highest sense to afford comfort and establishment. As I thought upon the text, while walking amid the busy throng, the question proposed itself to my mind, "Well, this is thy birthday, and has not His grace been all-sufficient?" In a moment my mind was led to look back upon all the way by which the Lord had led mehow He had strengthened, supported, and upheld me; separated me from
kindred and friends early in life, directed me in the choice of a profession, and watched over and guided my steps from that day to this. My heart was warmed under a sense of it; and, as it was led to reply to the question, "Yes, Lord, Thy grace has indeed been sufficient under losses, crosses, and even under the recent bereavement of Thy hand," I felt a little freedom in approaching His blessed Majesty; and, as the eternal state of my dear child was laid upon my mind, I was enabled to tell out my fears to the Lord, with all the freedom that I could have used in conversing with a dear friend. "Lord, Thou knowest how my mind is exercised about the dear child Thou hast taken. I hear one pleading as an argument against the doctrine of infant salvation, that surely there must have been more than ten infants in Sodom at the time Thou didst destroy it.' I hear another pleading in its favour Thy promise when 'Rachel was weeping for her children, because they were not,' that they should come again to their own border;' but my mind is not satisfied whether it was a national or a spiritual return. I read again the words of the Psalmist under a similar bereavement, 'I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me;' but might not the conviction of his child's safety spring from a special revelation from Thyself? Thus, Lord," continued my soul, is my mind exercised, and my heart distressed; now, therefore, if it is for the establishment of my soul-if for the future welfare of any of Thy tried family who may be similarly exercised, and not for the gratification of a mere speculative desire, will it please Thee in some way to set my mind at rest upon the subject?" In a moment, without any previous thought upon the passage, as I know not that it had struck my mind for months previously, this text dropped upon my mind in the gentlest, sweetest, and most endearing way, "And he said, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well." Reader, if I were to live a thousand years, I should never forget the effect of these last words upon my mind; nor do I often pass the spot (crossing from King William Street over to the Bank) without thinking of it. In a moment my every fear was taken away: my soul was as sweetly satisfied about the child's safety (and has never since had a single doubt) as I was of the salvation of the Apostle Paul. I was melted into tears of gratitude and joy before the Lord; and, as I walked, I could but bless and adore Him, and wonder at His goodness in answering my poor petition in such a conspicuous and blessed manner. "Why, Lord," my soul exclaimed, "it is worth losing a child to realize! I bless Thy dear and holy name that it hath pleased Thee to deliver this my child out of the miseries of this sinful world;' and how shall I thank Thee enough, how shall my soul sufficiently adore Thee for giving me such a blessed assurance that the child is now with Thee? Oh, I'll follow it to the tomb with delight, in 'sure and certain hope of its joyful resurrection!' I know it shall appear
'In yonder cloud,
With all the blood-bought throng.'
What, Lord, could have induced Thee to visit me-such a poor, sinful, unbelieving worm as I am, with such mercy? How was it Thou didst not take the child of some other, instead of mine? For such distinguishing mercy-such rich, free, and sovereign grace-I shall want these earthly fetters knocked off, and an eternal day to praise Thee!"
Reviews and Notices of Books.
The Life, Letters, and Last Days of the Rev. John Tarr, formerly of Bed-minster, but latterly of Limpley Stoke. Edited by DAVID A. DOUDNEY, D.D., Vicar of St. Luke's, Bedminster. London: Book Society,Paternoster Row; Bristol: W. Mack, 38, Park Street.
THE Compilation of this work has been one of the most grateful and refreshing labours in which we ever remember to have been engaged. The beloved departed was a man of such simplicity of character, with so single an eye to the glory of his Master, and withal the partaker of such remarkable, God-glorifying faith, that his life and letters can scarcely fail to edify and refresh. In the accounts which have already been given in this Magazine, our readers will have seen how intense a sufferer Mr. TARR was, and how graciously the Lord supported and sustained him under his sufferings. They will recollect, moreover, how unspeakably blessed and Christ-endearing was the end of this dear servant of God. In him was so sweetly exemplified that precious utterance of the Psalmist, "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace."
Even since we sat down to write this short notice of this dear departed servant of the Lord, we have been forcibly reminded of the wondrous distinction and blessed operation of rich, free, and sovereign grace. The incident we are about to name has, both with respect to dear Mr. TARR and ourselves, brought to mind the all-important inquiry, "Who maketh thee to differ from another, and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?” It must be fully eight or nine years ago that a Town Missionary informed us, he had met, at a low lodging-house, in the course of his visits, an ordained clergyman, in a most abject and wretched condition. We immediately saw him; and, from conversation, found he had been a student at Cambridge, at the very time our early friend and loving companion (the Rev. J. D. LANE) was there. We had some slight knowledge of his connexions; and naturally took the deeper interest in his welfare; but, alas! one's counsel and little efforts were in vain. Notwithstanding all his professed reformation and intentions, his old and wretched habits of intemperance got the mastery of him; consequently, he was again thrown out of employment; and, two or three times since, we have seen him in the most pitiable plight it is possible to imagine. A more thorough pauper or deeper degradation we never remember to have witnessed. It was. next to impossible to look upon the man, and say, “There is a University man! there an ordained clergyman!" Moreover, his state of healthhis diseased condition-led us to the conclusion that he was long since numbered with the dead! Imagine, then, our surprise, dear reader, at receiving under shades of evening, and since we sat down to comment upon the character and so-honourable career of the blessed JOHN TARR, as presented in the book before us, the well-written note from which we make the following extract :
"Bristol, November 14.
"MY DEAR SIR,-I have been in five Infirmaries, since I left last year, in Staffordshire, &c.; and, before the winter advances, I have striven to be nearer my native county, Devon. God has strengthened me to reach so far. I do not wish to lay up here again, having been so twice before; but with my leg in its present state I must seek admission to an Infirmary further on.