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2C4 MEMOIR OV MISS STEVENSON.
To which tli© clear invalid subjoined, in another stanza,
See the kind angels at the gates,
Inviting us to come;
To welcome travelers home.
'I have always admired this verse when I was a child. My hope is upon the Rock of Ages. It will be but a little time before we shall all meet again." Her mother mentioned the pleasure it had given her father and herself, that they had so repeatedly sat down at the Lord's Table with her and her sister.: but said dear Mary, ' how cold and lifeless have I been at those seasons.' She then spoke of the joys of Heaven, and of the blessed society there. Upon beiug' asked by her mother, Whether she had ever thought of any text to be preached upon after her decease, she answered, ' Yes, there is one I have thought of; but I am afraid I. cannot apply it to myself. "I know whom I have believed," &c. 'What a charming sermon was that,' said she, ' which we heard Mr. Jay preach at Surry Chapel : — The way of transgressors is hard.' That morning she mentioned, with much composure, the names of some of her youug friends to whom she wished some little tokens to be presented after her death; — to some she wished some of her serious books to be given, hoping they might be the means of doing them good. During this conversation she appeared as composed and happy as it she had been speaking of any common occurrence that was likely to take place, and concluded with saying, ' After all, perhaps, I shall live to use them m3'self.'
A short time before her departure, in going up stairs one evening to bed. she said, ' A few more weary steps ; but Heaven will make amends for all." At another time she said to her sister,' Don't you think that God is displeased with.me, because now I am so poorly, I cannot keep.my attention to those thoughts 1 could wish r" She, however, Was comforted, on being reminded of that passage, " Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him; for he knoweth our frame; he reiuembereth that we are dust." Lamenting that she could not, owing to her want of health, pray as site desired, she added, ' I do sometimes enjoy sweet seasons, as I lie sleepless on my bed. O, what consolation have I found from this text: —" Casting all your care upon him, for he caretb for you:" and, how much have 1 been supported by another charming passage :—" WT^know that all things work together for good," fcve. I wish to hear it preached upon. O, how faithful is'God to his promises!' This, text was soon taken as a subject of discourse, but-she was too ill to attend.'
One morning, when she was rising, she said, ' I wish I was better;' but immediately checking herself, appeared entirely resigned to the will of her heavenly Father. She would sometimes seem apprehensive that her religion was all a delusion; but would soon rebuke herself, by saying,' My ho^eis alone upon. Christ, the Rock of Ages, and 1 know he will not deceive me 1"
When she was in bed another morning; and her, sister handing her breakfast to her, she said, 'In the second volume of Buck's Anecdotes, there is a charming description taken from Robinson's Village Discourses : — " O, I love the soul that must and will do good; the kind creature that Tuns to the sick bed (I might rather say bedstead) of a po >r neighbour, wipes away the moisture of a fever, smooths the clothes, beats up the pillow, fills the pitcher, sets it within rench, and administers only a cup of cold water: peace be with that good soul! She also must come'in due rime into the condition of her neighbour, and then may ' the Lord strengthen her upon the bed of languishing;' and, by some kind hand' like her own, make all her bed in her sickness?'
A few days previous to her death, after she was in bed, her mother said to her,' Do you feel comfortable, my dear?' She answered in the affirmative. Her mother continued,' But are you comfortable in your mind, my dear?' With a firm, full voice, she replied, " Yes, very comfortable!"
Sept. 4, Sunday evening, when her sister was undressing her, the dear girl said with much emphasis, " In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so (says Jesus) I would have told you." The next morning she said to her father, upon his going into her chamber to enquire how she was,—" 1 am afraid I wish for Heaven more as a place of rest, than to be with Christ." 'It is natural, my dear,' returned her father, ' for the poor weary pilgrim to be desirous of rest; and this is one of the pleasing notions under which Heaven is represented in the divine word, " There remaineth, therefore, a rest for the people of God."—This appeared to comfort her.
On the morning of this ever-memorable day, Sept. (3, 1808, dear Mary came down stairs, as - usual to breakfast, which was always in. the hall during the warm season. There she also dined with the family, and ate moderately ot the breast of a partridge. She $ven talked of riding out that afternoon behind her father, which had been her constant custom, whenever the weather was favourable; but, find:ng herself not equal to the fatigue of the exercise, she deflated it; and, according to her usual custom, she retired in.o an ■ adjoining parlour, when, haviUg been as-sisted to her seat, she said, ' Don't leave the room, sister; bring my little table and eushion.' Upon which she reclined her head. The difficulty of breathing, with which she had been frequently afflicted, returning and increasing, — at last, about a quarter before four in the afternoon, without convu'sion, without struggle, without pain, without the least discomposure of feature*, or xviu." O o
266 MEMOIR Or MISS STEVENSON.
alteration of countenance, this much endeared daughter softly breathed out. her gentle spirit into the hands of her beloved Lord; still sitting as before, and with her Father's arms around her.
Although her affliction was long, yet no murmur, no repining, no complaint ever escaped her. She was favoured, almost uninterruptedly, with the light of her heavenly Father's countenance. Scarcely a single cloud intervened; whiph made her say, as she frequently did, ' My affliction is a light affliction.'
The Rev. Mr. Ray, of Sudbury, delivered an impressive address at the interment in the family-vault, on Tuesday, Sept. 13; and on the following Lord's Day, Sept. 18, preached the funeral sermon from 2 Tim. i. 1,2, ' I know whom I hav« believed/ Sec
REFLECTIONS ON JAMES V. io.
Tuke, my brethren, the prophets, ztho hare spoken in the naine of the Lord,fur an example of suffering, affliction, and of patience
The apostle is here exhorting believers to the exercise oi resignation, and submission to the Divine Will, under the various afflictions and trials to which they were subjected in the Christian life. Our Lord Jesus Christ has indeed forewarned us, 'in the world, ye shall have tribulation ;'—and we must have made very short progress on our journey heavenward^ if we have not felt this prediction realized again and again in our painful experience. Since Christ's kingdom is not of this world, it is evident we greatly deceive ourselves, if we seek oar happiness in earthly honours, or relations, or enjoyments. Christ hitnseif, when he sojourned in this world, was a man of sorrows; and, surely, it is enough that the disciple be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord. Nothing is more natural, I will readily grant, than for our hearts to cleave unto some earthly object lor happiness. /Every one has some particular gourd, under whose agreeable shade he seeks relief from the oppressive heat, or scorching sun. All of us, indeed, would fondly enjoy two heavens: a heaven of earthly happiness, if I"may use the expression, in this world,—and a heaven of spiritual glory and felicity after death: but these two objects daily experience demonstrates to be utterly incompatible with one another. The men of .the world set their whole hearts on earthly happiness, and they have accordingly their portion in this life; — but, if we. would attain to more exalted and durable happiness than this world can afford, then we must be willing, like Moses, rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a sea" son. Were it not that God sometimes caused us to feel the smart of his correcting rod, sometimes disappointed and even blasted our fairest earthly hopes, we.would fofget our condition and circumstances on earth; and, I am afraid, would be so much entangled with earthly cares and pleasures, as to look no farther than the present world for our supreme and ultimate portion! It is good for us then that we have been afflicted, if our affliction has served to mortify our earthly affections,— to shew us the vanity of the world and the bitterness of sin, —• to quicken our steps, when we are ready to loiter on our journey,— and to strengthen our affections and desires towards that happier and better world, where our souls shall be made perfect in holiness, and the days of our mourning shall be ended!
This is not unfrequently cneof the bitter ingredients in our cup of suffering,—an apprehension that we are singled out from others as objects of God's righteous displeasure; that, while others are entirely exempted, or very partially smitten, we are visited by one sharp stroke of Providence after anotiier. Now the apostle readily admits that these suffering Christians were, in reality, singled out from, others; but he reminds them, that they were singled out to be placed in the best and most honourable company,—in company with tire prophets and righteous servants of God, who, as they were peculiarly dear fo him, received this pledge of his infinite care and concern about their immortal interests, that they were distinguished above all others of his family for sufferings and trials during the present life. God indeed frequently reminds us, that his ways of manifesting his affectionate regard to his children are not as our ways, iior his thoughts as our thoughts; and if our souls aspire to those crowns of glory with which the prophets are now dignified, we must learn, like them, not to shrink at hearing our cross. If we would share in that immortal blessedness to which they have been exalted, we must be willing, like them, to be children of tribulation during the days of our pilgrimage on earth.
Take the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Who of the prophets (it may be asked) has not been distinguished for suffering affliction, in one form or another i If we look to Moses, or l>avid, or Jeremiah, or Ezekiel, we will find them to have been men habituated to suffering. They enjoyed the honourable pre-eminence of speaking in the name of the Lord the doetrinto of peace and consolation to their fellowmen, and God saw meet to try them with sore afflictions, that they might exemplify the supporting and refreshing influence ©f those doctrines in their own personal conduct. Neither
268 REFLECTIONS ON JAMES V. 10i
should gospel ministers, who are honoured to speak in the name of the Lord to others, consider themselves hardly dealt with, when God, in his providence, calls them to put in practice those exhortations to patience and submission to the divine will, which they have so often addressed to others. What ground have they to expect exemption from those afflicthe or calamitous dispensations, under which it is an im.portant part of their office to administer consolation to their fellow-men, and particularly when, by their own personal sufferings, they are better fitted for discharging this office, better qualified to bind up the broken-hearted, and to speak a word in season to the weary soul?—and,'If we have the. temper that becomes our office,' saith an eminent minister now in glory,'it will greatly reconcile us-to our trials to consider, that from our weeping eyes, and our bleeding hearts, a balm may be extracted to heal the sorrows of others, and a cordial to revive their fainting spirits.' It is mentioned in Scripture, as one of the reasons why Christ tymself was in all points tempted like" as we are, that from his own experience, in human nature, of those afflictions and sufferings to which his
fieople are subject, he might be the better qualified to exercise enderness and compassion towards the sorrowful and the afflicted; and surely, those ministers whom it hath pleased God t? make an example of suffering affliction, and of pf.tience, are best fitted for administering consolation to their suffering and dejected brethren. When the children of Israel are exhorted to shew kindness to the stranger, the precept is enforced by this consideration: 'For ye know the heart of a stranger, because that ye were strangers in the land of Egypt ;* and they who know the heart of the afflicted, — they who remember their own pain, and misery, the wormwood and the gall, must be best qualified, from their own personal experience of suffering, to exercise Christian sympathy with their brethren under similar afflictions; and also to comfort them with those consolations, wherewith they themselves have been comforted of God.
Happy is it when ministers, who have been made an example of suffering affliction, are also an example of patience to those among whom they labour. When a minister acts an unbecoming and sinful part in the day of affliction, he reflects dishonour on the service of Christ, as ifthe truths of his word were insufficient to impart relief to the broken and disconsolate mind; and his unworthy conduct tends also to sink and diseourage the spirits of his fellow-sufferers, as the soldiers in the ranks are filled with consternation and dismay when they see the standard-bearer himself faint in the battle. 'Thou hast strengthened the weak hands/ it may be said to such a minister, ' and upheld him thai; was ready to fall; but now iit is