Imágenes de páginas

good and obedient, he will always be a father to you. Be a good boy, my son, and God will take care of you."

The poor little boy, as he held his mother's hand in one of his own, and covered his eyes with the other, wept and sobbed as though his heart would break. She then took her little Edward by the hand, and bade him a similar and equally affecting adieu.

The youngest, about 18 months old, she requested to be laid upon her pillow in her bosom. She tenderly embraced it, and all wept.

She then called for her mother-in-law, who was behind her, (the bed standing in the middle of the room,)—“ And what shall I say to you," said she, "you have been a mother to me." She turned to a gentleman who had been a long and valued friend, and who was now at her side fanning her and in tears, and taking his hand, expressed her ardent affection and gratitude towards him, for his kindness and attention during their long acquaintance. She alluded to an interview with him many years ago, and seemed most deeply affected in remembrance, as I thought, of some proofs of real fraternal kindness which she received from him.

She sent her last message to her parents, brothers and sisters, and when her strength and voice failed her, she just uttered in a faint whisper,

[ocr errors]

Please to sing, 'Life is the time to serve the Lord.'' A lady who was present, and whose eyes and heart were full, said,

[ocr errors]

I would take another, O for an overcoming faith.'" The hymn-book, however, was given to her husband, who read two lines at a time, of the hymn his wife had named, when all who could sing and whose emotions would allow it, joined in singing, until the husband, completely overcome, dropped his head, unable to proceed. Another then took the book, and as well as we could, with tears and faltering voices, we closed the hymn.

As I read over my description of this scene, I am so struck with its utter weakness, that I almost regret that I attempted to make it. It made an impression upon my mind, that I cannot transcribe. O that the delusive hope of preparing for death upon a death-bed were banished for ever from the earth.

I have inserted the two foregoing specimens, in order to bring up as distinctly as possible this principle, viz. that in all your efforts at intellectual improvement, you ought to look with special interest at the moral bearings and relations of all which you read or hear. The heart is the true seat both of virtue and happiness, and consequently, to affect the heart is the great ultimate object of all that we do. The intellect then is only the avenue by which the heart is to be reached, and you will derive, not only more benefit, but far greater pleasure from reflection and writing, if you are accustomed to consider the moral aspects and relations of every thing which you observe, or of which you read or hear.

A great prominence has been given in this chapter to the use of the pen, as a means of intellectual and moral improvement. I assure my readers that the power of the pen for such a purpose is not overrated. I am aware that a great many persons, though they may approve what I have said, will not make any vigorous and earnest efforts to adopt the plan. Still more will probably begin a book or two, but will soon forget their resolution, and leave the half-finished book in some neglected corner of their desks, finally abandoned. But if any should adopt these plans, and faithfully prosecute them, they will find that practice in expressing in their own language, with the pen, such facts as they may learn, and such observations or reflections as they may make, will exert a most powerful influence upon all the habits of the mind, and upon the whole intellectual character.




"And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among them which are sanctified."

As I draw towards the close of this volume, I think of the influence which it is to exert upon the many who will read it, with mingled emotions of hope and fear. I have endeavoured to state, and to illustrate as distinctly as I could, the principles of Christian duty; and if, my reader, you have perused these pages with attention and care, they must have been the means of bringing very plainly before your minds the question, whether you will or will not confess and forsake your sins, and henceforth live to God, that you may accomplish the great object for which life was given. I shall say nothing in these few concluding paragraphs to those who have read thus far without coming in heart to the Saviour. If they have not been persuaded ere this to do it, they would not be persuaded by any thing which I have time and space now to say. I have, however, before ending this volume, a few parting words for those who have accompanied me thus far with at least some attempt at selfapplication-some desire to cherish the feelings which I have endeavoured to pourtray-some penitence for sin, and resolutions to perform the duties which I have from time to time pressed upon them.

It is, if the Bible is true, a serious thing to have opportunity to read a religious book,-and more especially for the young to have opportunity to read a practical treatise on

the duties of piety, written expressly for their use. The time is coming when we shall look back upon all our privileges with sad reflections at the recollection of those which we have not improved, and it is sad for me to think that many of those who shall have read these pages will, in a future and perhaps a very distant day, look upon me as the innocent means of aggravating their sufferings, by having assisted to bring them light, which they nevertheless would not regard. This unpleasant part of my responsibility I must necessarily assume. I share it with every one who endeavours to lay before men the principles of duty, and the inducements to the performance of it. He who enlightens the path of piety, promotes the happiness of those who are persuaded to walk in it, but he is the innocent means of adding to the guilt and misery of such as will still turn away. To one class of persons, says Paul, we are the savour of death unto death, and to the other, the savour of life unto life."

[ocr errors]

It is not merely to those who absolutely neglect or refuse to do their duty to God, that the ill consequences of having neglected their privileges and means of improvement will accrue. These consequences will be just as sure to those who partially neglect them. I will suppose that a young person, whose heart is in some degree renewed, and who has begun to live to God, hears of this book and procures it to read. She feels desirous of cultivating Christian principles, and she sits down to her work with a sincere desire to derive spiritual benefit from the instructions. She does not run over the pages, dissecting out the stories, for the sake of the interest of the narrative, and neglecting all the applications of them to the purposes of instruction, but she inquires, when a fact or an illustration is introduced, for what purpose it is used-what moral lesson it is intended to teachand how she can learn from it something to guide her in the discharge of duty. She goes on in this manner through the book, and generally understands its truths and the principles it inculcates. But she does not cordially and in full earnest engage in the practice of them. For example, she reads the chapter on confession, and understands what I mean by full confession of all sins to God, and forms the vague and indefinite resolution to confess her sins more minutely than she has done; but she does not, in the spirit

of that chapter, explore fully all her heart, and scrutinize, with an impartial eye, all her conduct, that every thing which is wrong may be brought to light, and frankly confessed and abandoned. She does not, in a word, make a serious and an earnest business of confessing and forsaking all sin.

In another case, a young man who is perhaps sincerely a Christian, though the influence of Christian principle is yet weak in his heart, reads that portion of the work which relates to the Sabbath. He knows that his Sabbaths have not been spent in so pleasant or profitable a manner as they might be, and he sees that the principles pointed out there would guide him to duty and to happiness on that day, if he would faithfully and perseveringly apply them to his own case. He accordingly makes a feeble resolution to do it. The first Sabbath after he reads the chapter, his resolutions are partially kept. But he gradually neglects them, and returns to his former state of inaction and spiritual torpor on God's holy day. Perhaps I express myself too strongly in speaking of inaction and torpor as being a possible state of mind for a Christian on the Sabbath; but it must be admitted that many approach far too near to it.

Now, there is no question that many young Christians will read this book in the manner I have above described, that is, they throw themselves as it were passively before it, allowing it to exert all the influence it will, by its own power, but doing very little in the way of vigorous effort to obtain good from it. They seem to satisfy themselves by giving the book an opportunity to do them good, but do little to dran from it, by their own active efforts, the advantages which it might secure. Now, a book of religious instruction is not like a medicine, which, if it is once admitted into the system, will produce its effect, without any further effort on the part of the patient. It is a tool for you to use industriously yourself. The moral powers will not grow you cultivate them by your own active efforts. If you satisfy yourself with merely bringing moral and religious truth into contact with your mind, expecting it, by its own power, to produce the hoped-for fruits, you will be like a farmer who should in the spring just put a plough or two in one part of his field, and half a dozen spades and hoes in another, and expect by these means to secure a harvest in the


« AnteriorContinuar »