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I AM here led to mention some circumstances of the character and death of an eminently pious Christian, who died in the faith of our Lord and Saviour, on Thursday, February 8, at the advanced age of seventy-seven, after having attended this chapel nearly thirty-six years.
Mrs. Elizabeth Cardale (then Elizabeth Delafield) was first led to feel seriously the importance of religion at the early age of twelve years, when her mind was deeply affected at the death of her father. The reading of the 23d Psalm was then particularly useful to her: and it deserves to be remarked, that she retained a peculiar delight for that psalm during all the rest of her life. So that at a distance of sixty-five years from the time of which I now speak, and within a day or two of her death, she derived great consolation from her son reading to her
this well-remembered portion of the word of God.
How delightful is the thought that she began her religious life and ended it with the same great promise-Jehovah the gracious Shepherd of his church. Oh, that young persons would imitate her early piety, and thus know for themselves the faithfulness and mercy of Jesus Christ!
At this period of childhood, Miss Delafield solemnly dedicated herself to God; and appears to have done it with all the information and sincerity which might be expected from her tender years. This serious act of religion was never afterwards forgotten, though it was many years before she fully and entirely knew and obeyed the Gospel.
We may here observe, that early vows have a divine blessing resting on them. The heart thus surrendered to Jesus Christ may, possibly, for a time, be deluded and betrayed into sin, but will not be permitted to depart finally from its Saviour and Lord.
As Miss Delafield advanced in life, the spirit and example of the world around her appear to have greatly abated her religious simplicity. She still continued an amiable and religious young person, and was well disposed towards the chief doctrines and duties of Christianity. The impressions of her early piety were not
entirely lost; but she wanted much of that fervent and decided spirituality of mind which leads the Christian" to follow the Lord fully." She wanted that entire renewal of the whole heart, which distinguishes the "new creature in Christ Jesus." Accordingly, though she had the opportunity of hearing excellent religious instruction, was fond of reading pious books, and made voluminous extracts from the sermons she heard and the books she read: she was too much" conformed," as the Apostle speaks," to this world;" she imbibed its spirit, joined in its more decent amusements, and mingled in its society. Jesus Christ was not the supreme Lord of her affections: the Holy Spirit was not the habitual teacher and sanctifier of her heart and life.
But, about the year 1766, she began to be most deeply interested in religion, and to see the folly and danger of many parts of her conduct. This effect was produced by the blessing of God on the ministry of the late Rev. W. Romaine, whom she first heard accidentally at St. Dunstan's in the West. The sermons of that eminent minister (on whose name multitudes dwell with fond and grateful remembrance) were the means, first, of exciting an earnest desire in her mind to understand more completely the ways of God, and then, of producing a fixed and consistent religious character.
The following circumstance was, at this time, very beneficial to her, and seems to have occurred just when her mind was opening to the full nature of spiritual Christianity. She had engaged to go with a very intimate friend to a private concert. She was afterwards prevented from attending it, by an unexpected impediment, and was left alone at her friend's house. During the evening, Mrs. Wilberforce (sister of the late John Thornton, Esq. and aunt of the present W. Wilberforce, Esq. M. P.) came in casually. She had, previously, some knowledge of Miss Delafield, and therefore began, after her usual custom, to speak with her on the subject of religion. Mrs. Wilberforce conversed with such earnestness and persuasion, as exceedingly to affect her mind, and to confirm her in the holy determination of cleaving to the Lord with full purpose of heart. Mrs. Wilberforce, on discovering the blessing which God had granted to her conversation, invited Miss Delafield to her house on Wimbledon Common. This visit, as well as many subsequent ones, were the means of great spiritual benefit to her.
The Christian may learn from this to seize every opportunity of speaking to others on the momentous concerns of religion. We know not what God may bless. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand,
for thou knowest not which shall prosper; whether this or that, or whether they shall both be alike good.
From this time Miss Delafield's character and conduct became holy and uniform. Her heart was given up to Jesus Christ. She relied only on his merits and righteousness for pardon and eternal life. She was governed and led by the enlightening and sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit of God. She was, in one word, a true Christian, born of God, and knowing God. And her spirit, temper, and life, were the effects and evidences of her faith. Now the early piety, implanted as a seed by divine grace, grew up, and brought forth fruit. She separated herself entirely from the world, and she. walked with God.
May young persons, who have had early religious instruction, and whose minds have at times been influenced to yield themselves unto God, learn from this instance, the necessity of a thorough change of heart and character, and an unreserved subjection to the Gospel of God our Saviour.
At this time Miss Delafield attended the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Romaine, and the Rev. Mr. Madan; residing with her mother, at Islington, and making frequent visits to Mrs. Wilberforce. Upon the death of her mother, her only tie to Islington, she removed (about