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When the following narrative was drawn up, the writer was aware, that his feeling rendered him incompetent to judge how much of a relation, every part of which was interesting to himself, might be fit to offer to the public. Many little circumstances which the indulgence of a friend could bear with, might, to strangers, appear trivial and impertinent. He therefore wrote only for his friends ; and printed no more copies than he thought would be sufficient to distribute within the circle of his personal acquaintance. But as the paper has been much inquired aster, and many of his friends have expressed their wish, that it might be more extensively circulated, he has at length yielded to their judgment.
It is to be lamented, that in this enlightened age, so signalized by the prevalence of a spirit of investigation, religion should, by many, be thought the only subject unworthy of a serious inquiry ; and that while in every branch of science they studiously endeavour to trace every fact to its proper and adequate cause, and are cautious of admitting any theory which cannot stand the test of experiment, they treat the use of the term experimental, when applied to religion, with contempt. Yet there are many things connected with this subject, in which, whether we are willing or unwilling, we are, and must be, nearly interested. Death, for instance, is inevitable. And if there be an hereafter, (and it is impossible to prove that there is not,) the consequences of death must be important. Many persons die, as they live, thoughtless and careless what consequences may await them. Others whose characters and conduct do not appear to have been worse than those of the former, cannot die so. They have dark and painful forebodings, and leave this world with reluctance and terror. And there are others, who, though conscious that they are sinners, and sure that they are about to enter upon an unchangeable and endless state of existence, possess peace, composure, and joy. These declare that they owe this happy state of mind to their dependence upon Jesus the Saviour, on whose blood and media sion they have built their hopes. And who can possibly disprove their words ? Such an instance is now in the readers hands. The fact is indubitable. A child, under the age of fifteen, did thus rejoice in the midst of pains and agonies, to the admiration of all who beheld her. She was willing to leave all her friends whom she dearly loved, and by whom she was tenderly beloved; for she knew whom she believed, and that when she should be absent from the body, she would be present with the Lord. With this assurance, she triumphed in the prospect of glory, and smiled upon the approach of death.
It may be presumed, that whoever seriously considers this case, will not be able to satisfy himself, by ascribing such remarkable effects, in so young a subject, to the power of habit, example, or system. If he does not account for them upon the principles of the Gospel, he will be unable to assign any proportionable cause. And it is to be feared, that if he is not affected by a testimony so simple and so striking, neither would he be persuaded though one should rise from the dead.
Hoxton, Nov. 17, 1785.
PRAISE OF THE LORD'S GOODNESS,
AND TO THE
MEMORY OF DEAR ELIZA CUNINGHAM.*
As I write not for the eye of the public, but chiefly to put a testimony of the Lord's goodness into the hands of my dear friends who have kindly afforded us their sympathy and prayers on the late occasion; I do not mean either to restrain the emotions of my heart, or to apologize for them. I shall write simply and freely, as I might speak to a person, to whose intimacy and tenderness I can fully intrust myself, and who, I know, will bear with all my weaknesses.
In May, 1782, my sister Cuningham was at Edinburgh, chiefly on the account of her eldest daughter, then in the fourteenth year of her age, who was very ill of a consumption. She had already buried an only son, at the age of twelve ; and while all a mother's care and feeling were engaged by the rapid decline of a second amiable child, she was unexpectedly and suddenly bereaved of an affectionate and excellent husband. Her trials are great, but the Lord had prepared her for them. She was a believer. Her faith was strong ; her graces active; her conduct exemplary. She walked with God, and he supported her. And though she was a tender and sympathizing friend, she had a happy firmness of temper ; so that her character as a Christian, and the propriety of her behaviour in every branch of relative life, appeared with peculiar advantage in the season of affliction. She returned to Anstruther, a widow, with her sick child, who languished till October, and then died.
Though my sister had many valuable and pleasing connexions in Scotland, yet her strongest tie being broken, she readily accepted my invitation to come and live with us. She was not only dear to me as Mrs. Newton's sister, but we had lived long in
* The last surviving child of Mr. James Cuningham, of Pittarthie, Fiseshire.
habits of intimate friendship. I knew her worth and she was partial to me. She had yet one child remaining, her dear Eliza. We already had a dear orphan niece, whom we had, about seven years before, adopted for our own daughter. My active, fond imagination, anticipated the time of her arrival, and drew a pleasing picture of the addition the company of such a sister, such a friend, would make to the happiness of our family. The children likewise there was no great disparity between them either in years or stature. From what I had heard of Eliza, I was prepared to love her before I saw her; though she came afterwards into my hands like a heap of untold gold, which, when counted over, proves to be a larger sum than was expected. My fancy paired and united these children ; I hoped that the friendship between us and my sister would be perpetuated in them. I seemed to see them like twin sisters, of one heart and mind, habited nearly alike, always together, always with us. Such was my plan—but the Lord's plan was very different, and therefore mine failed. It is happy for us poor short-sighted creatures, unable as we are to foresee the consequences of our own wishes, that if we know and trust him, he often is pleased to put a merciful negative upon our purposes; and condescends to choose better for us than we can for ourselves. What might have been the issue of my plan, could it have taken place, I know not; but I can now praise and adore him for the gracious issue of his. I praise his name, that I can cheerfully comply with his word, which says, “Be still, and know that I am God." I not only can bow (as it becomes a creature and a sinner to do) to his sovereignty ; but I adınire his wisdom and goodness, and can say, from my heart, • He has done all things well.”
My sister had settled her affairs previous to her removal, and nothing remained but to take leave of her friends, of whom she had many, not only in Anstruther, but in different parts of the county. In February, 1783, I received a letter from her, which before I opened it, I expected was to inform me that she was upon the road in her way to London. But the information was, that in a little journey she had made to bid a friend farewell, she had caught a violent cold, which brought on a fever and a cough, with other symptoms, which though she described as gently as possible, that we might not be alarmed, obliged me to give up instantly the pleasing hope of seeing her. Succeeding letters confirmed my apprehensions; her malady increased, and she was soon confined to her bed. Eliza was at school at Musselburgh. Till then she had enjoyed a perfect state of health ; but while her dear mother was rapidly declining, she likewise caught a great cold, and her life likewise was soon thought to be in danger. On
this occasion, that fortitude and resolution which so strongly marked my sister's character, was remarkably displayed. Sie knew that her own race was almost finished ; she earnestly desired that Eliza might live or die with us. And the physicians advised a speedy removal into the south. Accordingly, to save time, and to save Eliza from the impressions which the sight of a dying parent might probably make upon her spirits, and possibly apprehensive that the interview might make too great an impression upon her own ; she sent this her only beloved child from Edinburgh directly to London, without letting her come home to take a last leave of her. She contented herself with committing and bequeathing her child to our care and love, in a letter, which I believe was the last she was able to write.
Thus powerfully recommended by the pathetic charge of a dying mother, the dearest friend we had upon earth, and by that plea for compassion which her illness might have strongly urged even upon strangers, we received our dear Eliza as a trust, and as a treasure, on the fifteenth of March. My sister lived long enough to have the comfort of knowing, not only that she was safely arrived, but was perfectly pleased with her new situation. She was now freed from all earthly cares. She suffered much in the remaining part of her illness, but she knew in whom she believed ; she possessed a peace past understanding, and a hope full of glory. She entered into the joy of her Lord on the tenth of May, 1783, respected and regretted by all who knew her.
I soon perceived that the Lord had sent me a treasure indeed. Eliza's
person was agreeable. There was an ease and elegance in her whole address, and a gracefulness in her movements, till long illness and great weakness bowed her down. Her disposition was lively, her genius quick and inventive, and if she bad enjoyed health, she probably would have excelled in every thing she attempted that required ingenuity. Her understanding, particularly her judgment, and her sense of propriety, was far above her years. There was something in her appearance which usually procured her favour at first sight. She was honoured by the notice of several persons of distinction, which, though I thankfully attribute in part to their kindness to me, I believe was a good deal owing to something rather uncommon in her. But her principal endearing qualities, which could be only fully known to us who lived with her, were the sweetness of her temper, and a heart formed for the exercise of affection, gratitude, and friendship. Whether, when at school, she might have heard sorrowful tales from children, who, having lost their parents, met with a great difference, in point of tenderness, when they came under the direction of uncles and aunts, and might think that all