And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
~ Mark 12:42-44
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
~ 2 Peter 3:14
Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
~ Hebrews 11:35
The Devout Widow, by Shepard Kosciuszko Kollock. The following contains the introduction by Archibald Alexander, the preface and an excerpt from Chapter One of his work, “Pastoral Reminiscences”. The book was published in 1849.
There is a striking analogy between the office of a pastor and that of a physician. They both have respect to the welfare of men; and while the one seeks to heal the diseases of the body, the other aims at restoring to health the disordered souls of men. It belongs to each, not only to cure, but to prevent diseases; and to soothe and comfort such patients as it may be found impossible to cure. As the physician cannot safely follow his profession without an accurate knowledge of the human frame, so the pastor ought to be well acquainted with the constitution of the mind, and with all its faculties, susceptibilities and passions. And as the body and mind are intimately but mysteriously united, it appertains to both these professions to be acquainted with the effects of this union in their reciprocal influence on the constituent parts of our nature; therefore the knowledge of physiology is important to both. I have often been struck with admiration at the ardour and self-denial manifested by the students of medicine, in acquiring the requisite knowledge of the anatomy of the human body, and in making themselves acquainted with the pathology of the most loathsome diseases. They learn to enter cheerfully into the wards of hospitals, almshouses, and asylums for the insane, that they may become acquainted with the symptoms of all classes of disease to which the human frame is liable; and they spare no pains in making experiments, and ascertaining the efficacy of particular remedies and modes of treatment. And I have desired to witness something of the same diligence and self-denial in candidates for the holy ministry, that they might become better qualified to deal with the moral diseases of those souls which are committed to their care. Every pastor should study to become a skilful casuist; for if he is a faithful shepherd, he will meet with a great number and variety of cases of conscience, which will call for both his tenderest compassion and spiritual skill, in the treatment. Well authenticated cases of particular diseases, and an account of the method of treatment which has proved successful, are justly held to be highly valuable, especially to the young physician; because, as yet, his own experience is too small to guide him to a judicious practice; and it is always found unsafe to trust to mere theory. And I am certain that young clergymen stand in as much need of such helps as the young physician. I have often pitied the condition of a young pastor, when he first takes upon him the care of souls, and has devolved upon him the duty of a spiritual physician to a large number of immortals; whose everlasting welfare may depend very much on the treatment which they receive from their spiritual physician. It is, therefore, exceedingly important that pastors should avail themselves of every opportunity to maketh hemselves acquainted with casuistical theology; and after conversation with experienced Christians and exercised souls, on experimental religion, there is no better means than a faithful report of cases which have actually occurred in the experience of pious and faithful pastors. On this account, I greatly approve the design of the Rev. S. K. Kollock, to publish a volume of ” Pastoral Reminiscences,” or a detailed account of certain interesting cases of experience which occurred, and of which he was a witness, while a pastor of a Christian church. Several of these I have had the opportunity of seeing in manuscript; and cannot but think that their publication will be attended with beneficial effects to many. With the case of the poor widow, who died so triumphant a death, I was particularly interested.
Her religion, in my judgment, was of the right kind; its chief characteristics were, strong faith, pure love, deep humility, and entire resignation to the will of God. Her pastor, at her bedside, was rather a learner than a teacher; and there is no place on earth where instruction can be more effectually obtained, than at the dying bed of such a saint. I was particularly struck with the account which she gave to her pastor, in answer to his inquiry, of the way by which she obtained and preserved that strong assurance of the favour of God, which she habitually enjoyed. It was not by poring over her past experience, but by direct acts of faith on the Son of God, and steady reliance on his all-sufficient righteousness.
I have also perused with much satisfaction, the narrative of the conviction and conversion of the sea-captain; and with the scriptural and judicious method of the pastor in answering his objections, and opening up to him the plan of God’s mercy, and exhibiting clearly before him the riches of Divine grace, and the absolute freeness of the blessings of the everlasting gospel. This narrative, I am of opinion, will be very serviceable to young ministers, when called to direct anxious, inquiring souls, in the way of salvation. And as the exercises of this seaman were very similar to those of other convinced sinners, the method pursued so successfully in dealing with him, will be found well adapted to other cases.
As two of the narratives of this volume relate to seamen, it is to be hoped that it will circulate among this class of people, and be useful to many, both as containing an awful warning from the example of the ” Naval Apostate;” and great encouragement from that case of conversion which was proved to be genuine by the fruits of holiness which ensued. The theological sentiments of the author appear to me to be uniformly sound and evangelical; and I am persuaded that there is nothing in the volume which will be found offensive to any real Christian of any denomination; and I shall be disappointed if the book does not meet with a ready sale and general approbation.
Mr. Kollock never manifests any ambition to saying things; but his style is always plain and perspicuous, and at the same time, neat and correct.
Upon the whole, I consider this volume a real accession to our stock of religious reading; and I do cordially recommend it to the attention and careful perusal of all into whose hands it may come; and especially, to young pastors, and candidates for the ministry.
” Of joys departed, never to return, How bitter’s the remembrance!”
Yet there is mingled with that bitterness a sweetness which makes the cup palatable, and even creates a desire to drink it. Who would forget the past 1 Who would drive from his recollection departed friends, and cease to hail them in his memory, connected as they are with some of the dearest scenes that ever occurred. We are so constituted as to need this power, and could not be happy unless we added to the contemplation of things present the fruitful sources of recollection. Memory, ” with all its busy train,” continually retraces departed events, restores an ideal reality to things which are gone, makes them live again in revived imagery, and causes them to be seen and heard with renewed emotions. —The Christian may experience much profit and delight in calling back to his mind the transactions in which he once took a part; in recollecting past conversations and intercourse with beloved friends; and while indulging a confident hope that what Divine grace effected for others can be done for himself, may find memory a sanctified instrument of spiritual improvement.
The following narratives, substantially authentic, are partly the effect of recollection, and partly of notes taken at the time of recurrence, when the impressions, new and vivid, were committed to writing.—No truths have so much power as those which we have acquired by experience; there is in them a mingling of sensation and emotion with fact and reasoning, which seems to throw us completely under the control of the lessons which are inculcated by our feelings as well as our understandings. Hence may arise the superior influence of those instructions which are presented in the style of narratives; they introduce the reader into the midst of the events that are related, make him a participator in the living scene, and produce a stronger and more lasting impression on his mind and memory than abstract rules, or mere lectures upon morals.—When these narratives are circumstantially true, portraying things and characters as they really existed, they instruct by telling what may actually be done, and what should be faithfully imitated.
Such is the nature of the following ” Pastoral Reminiscences’—designed to inculcate lessons that are useful— to teach what we are—what we may be—what we ought to be—what we should do, suffer, and experience in the Christian life.—In reviewing these records of memory, I rejoice to find that so much is said of our adorable Redeemer, the fulness of his grace, and the plenteousness of his redemption; that all the duties and blessings of religion are represented as centering in him; that an experimental knowledge of his character, and strong faith in his righteousness are exhibited as tending to the suppression of all ungodliness, the practice of every virtue, and the possession of the richest privileges.—I am more and more convinced that for want of clear views on this subject, and unshaken confidence in the Saviour, so many are subject to the restraints of religion, and yet have few, if any, of its enjoyments; publicly profess the name of Christ, and yet are so little useful to others. It must glorify God and benefit men if any are effectually persuaded to ” look unto Jesus,” in every enjoyment, every tribulation, every temptation, every defect and infirmity; to view him continually as the only ” way” to holiness; the only ” door” to the abodes of bliss.—These endeavours will be regarded as happily employed, if they throw light upon any dim apprehension, establish any wavering faith, or comfort any afflicted conscience.
The Devout Widow.
Now, see the saint immortal: her I mean who lived as such; whose heart, full bent on heaven, Leaned all that way, her bias to the stars. Observe the awful portrait, and admire; Nor stop at wonder: imitate and live.”
The promises of God to those who are deprived of earthly protectors, are peculiarly tender, and are often repeated in the pages of inspiration. He sees their helpless condition, and glorifies his name in saving them—perceives that they are in a land where snares encompass them, and ” guides them by his eye,” knows the selfishness of men, and interposes as the friend of the friendless. There is no burden that oppresses their hearts, no regret for the past, no anxious fear for the future, which is not met by some soothing word of consolation. Sometimes they find themselves sheltered from the blasts of adversity; but if they continue to ” eat the bread of affliction,” and endure severe sorrows, they see, by the eye of faith, that their Heavenly Father has purposes of mercy in these chastisements; they testify how much sweetness can be enjoyed in the midst of trouble, and hence the closeness of their walk with God is connected with their sufferings.
The following narrative relates to one of these children of adversity who kissed the rod that smote her, and grew in grace under every stroke. She was led by the hand of the Lord; and led, not in easy and pleasant paths, but, for a while, through a rugged and thorny wilderness, where her strength must have failed, had not His mercy given her support. The faithfulness of God in being to her ” as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land,” affords encouragement for steadfast hope and earnest prayer to those who are oppressed and heavy laden; while her cheerful obedience to his will presents a clear evidence of the inseparable connexion between faith and holiness, and of the simplicity of character which a real love to Christ transfuses into the soul.
When in the year 18— I took charge of the congregation, and was for the first time visiting them, accompanied by an elder, he said to me, after we had called upon several others, u now we will go and see Mrs. F . She is in an humble situation, but is very much esteemed by the pious among us, and indeed is regarded as one of our best members.” We went to the cottage which she occupied; it was small and plain, but everything wore the aspect of neatness and order; it seemed a fit residence for piety, peace, and contentment. Its inmate I found to be a widow advanced in years, with an aspect and address highly pleasing. I was at once struck with her countenance, bearing the marks of intelligence united with seriousness, and of benevolence mingled with devotion. After an introduction, she said to me, ” I am glad to see you as a pastor whom a kind Providence has sent to us; and we will endeavor to hold up your hands by our prayers.” We spent a little time in general conversation with her—conversation cheerful and pleasant, with which religion was easily intermingled, and then terminated the interview with social prayer.
On my return home, I was not a little affected by the review of this visit, and wondered not that she was so beloved by the pious; that she was such a favorite with the pastors who had preceded me; and that, from further inquiries which I made, there were so many testimonials of the peculiar excellencies of her Christian character. I thought that she would be a blessing to me in my ministry; a comfort in my sorrows; a stimulus to activity in my labors—all which was realized by my further acquaintance with her, and the subsequent events that occurred.
I learned that she was born in a neighbouring county, and of respectable family, and was early married to a man who, at first industrious and moral, promised to be a comfort to her. But like too many others, he at times tasted the intoxicating cup, and at last so habitually indulged in it, that he became a confirmed inebriate. For years she suffered from his neglect and cruelty, and at length was left a widow, reduced to utter poverty. These afflictions were the means which God seemed to employ to bring her to himself. When his chastening hand was laid on her; when that which she was wont to esteem the spring of her highest happiness was made the source of her severest anguish, she felt the need of more than human power to sustain her; she went to the Scriptures to learn consolation; to a throne of grace to receive mercy; and by such means was gradually brought to a saving knowledge of the Saviour.
How many, like her, begin their acquaintance with God and the Redeemer in the season of affliction! how often is it the furnace in which Christ forms the most ” excellent vessels of honor and praise!” It was not until Manasseh was in affliction, that ” he humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to him:” it was not until the Prodigal was in affliction that he resolved to return unto his Father’s house: Behold, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”
When thus left a widow indeed, she came to the borough to endeavour to support herself by her needle; there she made a public profession of religion, forming one of that little band that constituted an infant church which was then organized. In that connexion, she had remained until I saw her, viewing many changes, passing through the ministry of several pastors, and silently and obscurely, yet effectually, doing much to promote their usefulness.
From the time of my first acquaintance until her removal from the world, scarcely a week passed without my visiting her; an intercourse which I now recal with pleasure as a high privilege, when my visits were made, not so much to give as to receive instruction, not so much to impart as to obtain comfort.
Such a privilege the pious and devout members of the church also enjoyed. The gay and the worldly never went to her cottage; the mere professor of religion, who had only ” the form of godliness,” knew her only as a communicant whom they saw at the Lord’s table; but the ” spiritually minded,” those who had ” like precious faith,” and like her had ” tasted that the Lord was gracious,” valued her conversation, prized her prayers, and highly esteemed her Christian friendship.
It might seem that such attention from some who were superiors to her in worldly prosperity and education, and moved in a higher rank of life, would have inflated her with self-sufficiency and pride. But nothing of that kind was apparent in her conduct—on the contrary, if any ever ventured to speak of her attainments in religion, they always experienced a decided rebuke; of her deficiencies in fulfilling her duty she was deeply sensible; to her Divine Saviour she gave the whole glory of her salvation.
She had a good understanding, which grace had improved, and had read but few books besides her Bible, but that she had studied with diligence and prayer. Especially was she taught by the Holy Spirit, and had so much experience of the Christian life through a long succession of trials and afflictions, that she was well qualified to instruct, comfort, and sustain.
Her piety was in a peculiar manner cheerful; making her happy as well as holy. Happiness, we know, arises not so much from possessions as from dispositions; not so much from what a man has, as from what he is. The saint whose character we are contemplating had no “possessions”—nothing of what ” the world calls good and great;” but she had eminently a Christian disposition, and that was the source of much solid and rational happiness. By subduing all envy, discontent, and selfishness, and assiduouslyfecultivating the graces of the Spirit, she found springs of pleasure opened in herself—she learned that happiness was connected with a moral temper, and not to be sought for so much by any thing without. She allured others to piety by showing that its path is the path of peace; by taking pleasure in all that is innocently pleasant; by enjoying whatever is purely delightful; by the habitual exercise of contentment with her lot. She used to say, ” we talk sometimes of the greatest evils that may come on us, and enquire, what are the severest that may befal us; but I think that the very greatest affliction that could be sent, is to be given up to a murmuring spirit; that will make one wretched in the midst of the greatest abundance. It is a reason why we should guard against a complaining and discontented disposition; why we should strive as much to be cheerful as to be watchful and prayerful. God designs us to be happy, and cannot approve of any thing but what has a tendency to make us so.”
Such being her uniform disposition and conduct, it is to be expected that she had, in a high degree, trust and confidence in God. She had found him in her severest troubles her refuge and strength, and she was sure that he would be so in time to come. She used to say, ” God never takes any thing from his people, but he gives them something better instead of it: he has kindly taken many things from me, and has given me himself, infinitely better than all worldly prosperity.” The sense which she had of God’s covenant and perfections was such as led her implicitly to trust in him for all that she wanted; she seemed, in the exercise of a firm faith, to give up all her concerns into his hand; to see him in every thing, to find him in her heart, and to have no design in the world but of living to his will, and no expectation of enjoyment but in communion with him.
Her views of Jesus Christ were clear and distinct; her faith strong and appropriate; her reliance upon him en. ■ tire and undivided. This was a frequent topic of her conversation; she often said that if Christians “were to think more of Christ, trust more to him, make more mention of him in prayer, and study more diligently his words, ” No man cometh unto the Father but by me,” they would make greater attainments in piety. To consider him as dying in her stead; to regard his righteousness as her righteousness, afforded her the highest delight. Such views of the plan of salvation, such determination to know nothing, to desire nothing, to depend on nothing but ” Jesus Christ and him crucified,” gave her soul peace, and animated her in the service of her Lord and Master.
With such apprehension of the Saviour, it is not wonderful that she enjoyed uniform assurance. I once ventured to ask her experience.on this subject, and enquired whether she habitually enjoyed this privilege. She replied to me at some length. ” Some years ago, I suffered much from doubts and fears. On one occasion, I was for days under the most distressing darkness; my hope of salvation departed; I was persuaded that I had deceived myself; I had only an awful sense of my sins and no views of God’s mercy or Christ’s grace; I prayed and wept, searched the Scripture, and meditated on its contents, but all in vain; in the day I was sorrowful, at night I wet my couch with tears, and was ready to despair, and to give up all expectation of ever being saved. One morning, after a night of restlessness and anguish, I went to the Scripture, and during the reading of the fourteenth chapter of John, light broke into my mind, and dissipated all my darkness; my doubts vanished, and under a lively apprehension of the character of Christ, I had peace and joy in believing. You may suppose that that is to me a precious part of the word of God; and I wish, my pastor, if you are called to preach my funeral sermon, to take as your text the second and third verses of that chapter: i In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.’ That memorable period I often look back upon as the time when the Lord c brought me up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings, and hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God;’ and ever since I have been freed from spiritual darkness and perplexing fears. ‘Tis true, I have had seasons of doubt and uncertainty, temptations to which all God’s people are at times subject, but they have continued only for a short time; uniform assurance has for many years been the experience of my soul, liable, I confess, to occasional assaults both of outward temptations and inward corruptions. But this assurance is derived from the exercise of strong faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled righteousness in my stead, and purchased for my soul reconciliation and grace; who is my treasure, which I appropriate for my use, and by which I am enriched; the balm of Gilead which I apply for the recovery of my soul, and by which I am healed; the living waters to which I come to refresh my spirits and quench my thirst for holiness and happiness; the garment which I put on, and wear to cover my destitution, and beautify my deformity. When I look to myself, I can have no assurance; a view of my defective services, inward corruptions, and languid graces gives no confident hope; it is only when I look off from myself to Christ, that I can have any persuasion of God’s present favour, or my own final happiness. It was, I think, to drive me entirely from myself that God permitted that horrible darkness to which I have alluded; to lead me for ever to renounce all dependence upon my feelings, my knowledge, or my duties. And it was by the Holy Spirit bringing Christ and his righteousness nigh to me, in his precious promises, that my darkness was removed. I can now say, Christ has given himself as my covenant surety; I take him at his word, and therefore he and all his merits are mine; I appropriate him to myself as my high-priest, my prophet, and my king. To do this constantly; to be persuaded that he bought me with his blood; that he is my God, and will exert all his perfections for my good—this, as far as my experience testifies, is the direct, the compendious, the certain method of obtaining assurance: any other must necessarily be feeble, and liable to be unsettled by daily temptation, or destroyed by the rising of indwelling sin.”
After this interview, I left her comforted and benefitted; resolved to think more of Christ for my own encouragement, and to preach him more for the benefit of others. How true it is that ” the just,” the righteous in Christ Jesus, ” live,” thrive in comfort, and flourish in holiness, not by reflecting on their own sanctification, on viewing their own attainments, but ” by faith;” a fresh, repeated, daily, never-ceasing exercise of faith upon the Son of God. This is the most effectual way of feeding the lamp of piety, and quickening the flame of holiness.
Love for the cause of Christ, a desire to promote its interests, and an anxious concern for the salvation of others, were conspicuously exhibited in her whose char
acter we are considering. Those who often visited her can testify how much she was interested in the prosperity of the church to which she belonged; what stress she laid upon Christian fellowship; how she endeavoured to promote it among the members; how she aided her pastor in his efforts to do good; and how she daily employed every means in her power for the salvation of others. I may say, without exaggeration, that she was always doing something to raise the piety of others, and to fan the flame of their divine love; that, lively and active in her religion, she was insensibly a blessing to the little circle in which she moved; that by her prayers and conversation she kept up a spiritual atmosphere around her, and made it genial and reviving. In her endeavours for the conversion of her unrenewed friends, she was judicious, and in many cases successful; with some she could use no other means but the silent influence of her holy example; others she could instruct, admonish, and warn; but always did it with discretion, choosing the best time, and the best circumstances, employing the meekness of wisdom and the tenderness of love. Several, who under my ministry joined the church, were indebted, under God, to this ” mother of Israel” for their first religious impressions. Some of her immediate neighbours enjoyed, in a high degree, the influence of her example and her prayers. They had been most kind in u ministering to her in carnal things;” and she, with overflowing gratitude, abundantly ” ministered to them in spiritual things;” and so lovingly and prayerfully insinuated religion into their minds, that they were scarcely aware of it. They survived her for some years to show by their piety the influence which such intercourse had produced, and dying in faith, rejoined her in the mansions of peace.
A devotional spirit was possessed, in an eminent degree, by our pious friend. Considering what firm belief she had in the providence of God, what a deep sense of her entire dependence on him, what a strong conviction that all her ” springs were in him,” it was to be expected that she would often say with David, ” On thee do I wait all the day.” Considering what spiritual mindedness was observed in her, what a strong and constant bias she had towards Divine things, it was to be expected that she would be often with God, glancing towards him in a way of devotion, bespeaking his presence, calling for his help, begging the pity of his eye, imploring the relief of his hand, and petitioning for the pardon of her sins, and grace to sanctify and govern her heart. With those exalted views which she had of Christ, of which I have already spoken, it is not strange that she should have had a holy freedom and ” boldness of access” to God through the Redeemer: that to the humility of the sinner she should have joined the liberty of the child; that to her Heavenly Parent she should have told all her desires freely and fully; and that such devotion should have heightened every enjoyment, mitigated every trial, given peace within, and spread cheerfulness and happiness without. Her prayers, I have reason to know, were often fervent, poured forth with that earnestness of spirit which well became the immensely rich blessings which she asked. I shall never forget the manner in which she once expressed it. At a time when the Spirit of God was poured out, and when an unusual number of persons joined the church, she was prevented by sickness from coming to the communion; when I visited her on Monday, and described the scene, she said: “So young Mr. was among the number. O! I have been working” (probably having in view the apostle’s expression, ” always labouring in prayers”)—” I have been working and working for that young man at a throne of grace for weeks, and months, and years; and blessed be God, my prayers are now answered.” An instance of perseverance in prayer, well worthy of imitation. How much was I encouraged in all my duties, to know that one who had such ” power with God,” was daily pleading for me^ and endeavouring to lead other Christians not to forget at the mercy-seat him ” who had the rule over them.”
For nearly four years I had the privilege of such intercourse with this devout believer, and of admiring that consistency of Christian character, which shone so brightly. At the end of that time, I had also the privilege to contemplate the termination of her profession on earth, and to see her ” finishing her course with joy.”
Though it is not the privilege of all God’s children to enjoy large foretastes of glory in their last hours; though some have even departed under clouds of darkness and terror, yet generally those who live consistently, die comfortably. The lukewarm and irregular—those who suffer their graces to wither, who are too much attached to the world, who are not watchful and diligent, are generally left to disquietude and perturbation. But the believer who adorned his profession in life, usually enjoys peculiar supports when about leaving the world. It was so with her whose character we are considering; she who spent her days in faith and prayer, ended them in peace and comfort.
She was permitted to depart gradually, by a lingering decline; and thus had the opportunity of testing the value of her principles, and of showing her friends how a sincere, consistent, and exemplary Christian can die. In referring to the notes which were taken of her conduct and her expressions, I find that scarcely any thing can exceed the confidence, composure, serenity, and tenderness that appeared in all that she did and said. I cannot refrain from presenting some of her expressions, as exhibiting a glorious evidence of the reality of religion, and of the in working of the mighty power of God.
When she was confined to her bed by sickness, and when it was uncertain how it would terminate, she expressed the most perfect willingness to leave the event entirely with God. Neither elated by hope, nor depressed by fear, she expressed a contentment to live, or a willingness to die, just as it seemed good in His sight. ” He knows what is best for me; and after we have used all necessary means, we will leave the event to Him; He will in this do right; He will act wisely and kindly, and I must not, will not, be afraid.”
As her sickness increased, my own visits and those of her pious friends were more frequent; and it was truly delightful to see the consolations with which she was favoured. When the word of God was read, his praises sung, and Christ made the theme of conversation, her countenance would change in a moment, however languishing she might be with weakness or racked with pain, from the expression of great suffering to a smile that seemed like a ray of the heavenly glory. All saw in her, patience under suffering, acquiescence in the Divine will, humbleness of mind, penitence at the foot of the cross, and firm faith in the grace and atonement of the Redeemer.
When the physician expressed the opinion that her disease was beyond the power of medicine, and that she could not recover, I was deputed to communicate to her the intelligence? and though the office is often painful, yet, on this occasion, so far as the effect to be produced was considered, it was performed without reluctance. When it was told her, nature for a moment shuddered and shrunk back, but the perturbation was only momentary; soon recovering her calm and placid countenance, she said, “It is all well; the will of the Lord be done; I must now set my house in order; you know, my dear pastor, the text on which I wish my funeral sermon to be preached; that is all the direction which I need give you.” After committing her to God in prayer as one who could not long remain upon earth, I left her, not however to the influence of fear, but to that of great tranquillity in view of her departure; to a calm composure, arising from an entire willingness to commit her spirit into the hands of the Redeemer.—She lived many days after this, retaining her speech and reason, and giving satisfactory evidence that God, listening to her breathings and cry, had drawn very near to her, and was a peculiar ” help in time of trouble.”
In view of the past, her sense of the Divine mercies was strong, and her feelings of gratitude ardent. ” Truly goodness and mercy have followed me all my days; how can I sufficiently adore God for his blessings 1 He has led me on step by step through the wilderness; he has brought me to the gates of death; and now he will not leave me j he will be my companion through the dark valley.”
Amidst sufferings the most awful, she would be not merely resigned, but so cheerful as to say that she could, if God were to help her, bear even more; that his supporting grace was wonderful, passing all expression.—I often asked her if she had any doubts of her acceptance, or any fears of the future 1 She would reply: u when I look at the deficiences of my life, or my corruption within, I am indeed distressed; but when I look to Christ as I should do, as I try to do, continually, I have no clouds nor fears. I know that my Redeemer liveth”-— with that appropriating faith which she loved to exercise in life, she would repeat, ” my Redeemer—mine—mine.” But that which most affected me, and which I have never seen equalled in the most triumphant death of the departing saint, was the spirit of devotion which she possessed and made known. For several days before her departure, she used, when I prayed with her, to continue the prayer, evidently without knowing that she was speaking aloud, or that she could be heard by others. And oh! what prayers! what holy thirstings after the presence of God! what ardent desires for perfect conformity to his will! what frequent mention of the name of Christ and of his righteousness as her righteousness! How her heart was penetrated with devotion, and holy confidence, and faith! How near she drew to God by the full assurance of the blood of her Redeemer; and how much of his spirit did she imbibe with whom she was so familiar; whom she so pre-eminently revered and loved! Sometimes the prayer was all thanksgiving for mercies—sometimes the mingling of humble confession with fervent petition—often it was forgetfulness of herself, and entire intercession for others—for her pastor and his family—for her friends who had been kind to her, and whom she mentioned by name—for the church of which she was a member—for the cause of Christ in general. We felt, after hearing such prayers, that we were treading on holy ground; that the chamber of sickness was ” none other than the gate of heaven;” that God was specially near to her, making his grace, amidst the decays of nature, most illustrious and triumphant; that her Saviour, who had granted her comfort under many troubles of life, had reserved the strongest and sweetest for the sorrows of death.
” Oh! true and fervent are the prayers that breathe Forth from a lip that fades with coming death.”
On the Saturday before her death, I visited her twice, as it was expected that she would depart on that day. I found her, though weak, able to converse a little, and to show that the nearer she came to death, the less gloomy was its effect; that the more closely she approached the world of glory, the more she was brought under its influence and impressions. I said to her, ” to-morrow is the Sabbath; would it not be delightful to go home then? Would you not wish to depart on the Lord’s day to the Lord’s house above V She whispered, u I have no wish; let God take me in his own time. Do you think that I would dictate to him? I never did it in health, and shall I do it now, when I am almost gone? Father, thy will be done—thy time—thy manner—thy way. Pray for me; pray that God would not leave me for a single moment.”—It was the last interview which I had with her; the next day her body ” slept in Jesus,” and her soul went to the joy of her Lord.
The funeral took place in the church, no private house being sufficient to accommodate the people. The number that attended was great; and they were almost without exception those of a devout and spiritual character— not merely the members of her own church, but Christians also of other denominations, who had been often benefitted by her example, conversation, and prayers, and who now wished to pay the last respect to her remains. The words which she herself had selected were the subject of the discourse; “in my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also;” words peculiarly appropriate for such an occasion; leading us to consider the condition of her who was taken from us; to reflect upon her spirit enjoying one of those mansions that was prepared for her; possessing perfect purity, complete knowledge, freedom from sorrow, the society of angels, and, above all, the enjoyment of the vision and likeness of God and the Redeemer. Considering how Christ had peculiarly honoured her, and how useful she had been in the station she had occupied, it would have been ungrateful to suffer her to drop into the dust without notice; her religious character was delineated; the circumstances of her death recounted; and she herself presented for the imitation of others, so far as she imitated Christ.
It was a season of solemnity and melting tenderness, when the church, though called to mourn, was encouraged and animated by the contemplation of one who, by her living labours and dying experience, had brought much glory to Christ.
When the service in the church was over, ” devout persons,” as was said of Stephen, ” carried her to her burial;” and when the body was committed to the dust, sung the beautiful and appropriate hymn:
” Why do we mourn departed friends. Or shake at death’s alarms; Tis but the voice that Jesus sends, To call them to his arms.”
A head-stone marks the spot where the body of this saint reposes, with the following inscription, illustrative of her character and end.
In hope of a joyful resurrection, the body of the devout widow, who departed this life in the triumphs of faith, March 29, 18—, aged 63 years. ” She walked with God, and is not, for God took her.
Those of her friends who still live, no doubt at times visit this humble grave, lying in a retired part of the cemetery; a position expressive of her meekness and humility; and while bending over the sacred dust, and recalling her holy life and happy death, breathe out the prayer, ” let me die the death of the righteous; let my last end be like hers.”