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of the sufferer mingled with the prayer, which was almost inarticulately uttered, from the emotions which the scene inspired.
Late in the afternoon I called again. But reason was disenthroned, and as I looked upon her restless movements I was forcibly reminded of the lines of Watts
"So when a raging fever burns,
We turn from side to side by turns;
To change the place but keep the pain."
The senseless moanings of delirium showed the distress even of her shattered mind. Her friends were standing around her, but she did not recognise them. Every eye in the room was filled with tears, but poor Louisa saw not and heeded not their weeping. It was a scene which neither pen nor pencil can pourtray. At the present moment that chamber of death is as vividly present to my "mind's eye as it was when I looked upon it through irrepressible tears. I can now see the disorder of the dying-bed,-the restless form, the swollen veins, the hectic burning cheek,-the eyes rolling wildly around the room,-and the weeping friends. Who can describe such a scene? And who can imagine the emotions which one must feel, who knew her previous history, and who knew that this delirium succeeded temporal, and perhaps preceded eternal despair? Louisa could no longer listen to my prayers; she could no longer receive the precious instructions of God's holy word. And what could be offered as consolation to her friends? Nothing. "Be still and know that I am God," was all that could be said. I could only look and listen with reverence, inwardly praying that the sad spectacle might not be lost upon any of us. For some time I lingered around the solemn scene in silence. Not a word was spoken. All knew that death was near. The friends who were most deeply affected, struggled hard to restrain the audible expression of grief. In silence I had entered the room, and in silence and sadness I went away.
Early the next morning I called at the door to inquire for Louisa.
"She is dead, sir," was the reply to my question.
"At what time did she die ?"
"About midnight, sir."
"Was her reason restored to her before her death?"
"It appeared partially to return a few moments before she breathed her last, but she was almost gone, and we could hardly understand what she said."
"Did she seem to be in any more peaceful frame of mind?" "Her friends thought, sir, that she did express a willingness to depart, but she was so weak, and so far gone, that it was impossible for her to express her mind with any clear
The next time I called at the house, Louisa was pale in her coffin, cold and lifeless in her shroud. Her friends had assembled to attend her funeral, and from every part of the room loud sobs interrupted my address and prayer. Her body now moulders in the grave-yard, and her spirit has entered upon its eternal home."
ALMOST A CHRISTIAN.
"Ye will not come unto me."
THE melancholy story related in the last chapter is not an uncommon one. It is the story of thousands. All that is necessary, reader, to make that case your own, is that you should feel such a degree of interest in religious duties as to open your eyes clearly to their demands, but yet not enough to induce you cordially to comply with them, and then that death should openly approach you, while you are thus unprepared. The gloomy forebodings and the dreadful remorse which darkened Louisa's last hours must in such a case be yours.
It was not my intention, when forming the plan of this work, to have it present religious truth and duty in gloomy or melancholy aspects. Religion is a most cheerful and happy thing to practise, but a most sad and melancholy thing to neglect and as undoubtedly some who read this book, will read it only to understand their duty, without at all setting their hearts upon the performance of it, I ought to devote one or two chapters particularly to them. The case of Louisa, though it was a melancholy one, was real; and what has once occurred may occur again. You will observe, too, that all the suffering which she manifested in her dying hour was the work of conscience. The minister did all he could to sooth and calm her. Examine all the conversation he had with her at her bedside, and you will find that it was the language of kind invitation. He did all in his power to allay the storm which conscience, far more powerful than he, was urging.
Sometimes such a dying scene as this is the portion of an individual who has lived a life of open and unbridled wick
edness. But, generally, continued impiety and vice lulls the conscience into a slumber which it requires a stronger power than that of sickness or approaching death to awaken. Louisa was ALMOST A CHRISTIAN. She was nearly persuaded to begin a life of piety.-In just such a state of mind, my reader, as it is very probable you may be. Perhaps since you have been reading this book you have been thinking more and more seriously of your Christian duty, and felt a stronger and stronger intention of doing it, at least at some future time. You ought after having read the first chapter, to have gone at once and fully confessed all your sins to God, and made your peace with him. When you read the second, you should have cordially welcomed the Saviour as your friend, and chosen him as your Redeemer and portion. You ought to have been induced by the third to begin immediately a life of prayer, and to have been constant and ardent at the throne of since grace read it, But perhaps you neglected doing all these things. You understand very clearly what Christian duty is. It is plain to you that there is a Being above with whom you ought to live in constant communion. You understand clearly how you are to begin your duty, if you have neglected it heretofore,-by coming and confessing all your sins, and seeking forgiveness through Jesus Christ who has died for you. Thus you know clearly what duty is. The solitary difficulty is, that you will not do it.
But why? What can be the cause of that apparent infatuation which consists in continually neglecting a duty which you acknowledge to be a duty, and which know it would increase your happiness to perform? Were I to ask you, I know exactly what you would say. At least it is very probable you would say what I have known a great many others say in your situation. It would be this.
"I know I am a sinner against God, and I wish to repent and be forgiven, and to love and serve my Maker, but I do not see how I can'
My reader, is this your state of mind? Many persons do use this language, and use it honestly: that is, they use it honestly, if they mean by it, what the language properly does mean, that they see the propriety and duty and the happiness of a new life, so that in some sense they desire it, but that some secret cause, which they have not yet dis
covered, prevents their obedience. I design, in this chapter, to help you to discover what that cause is. If you really wish to discover and to remove it, you will read the chapter carefully,—with a willingness to be convinced, and you will often pause to apply what is said to your own case.
There are three very common causes, which often operate to prevent persons who are almost Christians from becoming so altogether.
I. A spirit of procrastination. Waiting for a more convenient season. The following case illustrates this part of our subject.
A boy of about twelve or fourteen years of age, a member of an academy in which he was pursuing his studies preparatory to his admission to college, sees the duty of commencing a Christian life. He walks some evening at sunset, alone, over the green fields which surround the village in which he resides, and the stillness and beauty of the scene around him bring him to a serious and thoughtful frame of mind. God is speaking to him in the features of beauty and of splendour in which the face of nature is decked. The glorious western sky reminds him of the hand which spread its glowing colours. He looks into the dark grove in the edge of which he is walking, and its expression of deep unbroken solitude brings a feeling of calm solemnity over his soul. The declining sun,-the last faint whispers of the dying evening breeze,-the solitary and mournful note which comes to him from a lofty branch of some tall tree in the depth of the forest,-these, and the thousand other circumstances of such a scene, speak to him most distinctly of the flight of time, and of the approach of that evening when the sun of his life is to decline, and this world cease for ever to be his home.
As he muses in this scene, he feels the necessity of a preparation for death, and as he walks slowly homeward, he is almost determined to come at once to the conclusion to commence immediately a life of piety. He reflects, however, upon the unpleasant publicity of such a change. He has many irreligious friends, whom it is hard to relinquish, and he shrinks from forming new acquaintances in a place he is soon to leave. He reflects that he is soon to be transferred to college, and that there he can begin anew. He resolves that when he enters college walls, he will enter a