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[Illustration: THE LITTLE ORPHAN'S PRAYER When only eight years old and left an orphan, at her father's death, she went to the corner of the house and asked God to be a father and a mother to her--Page 85]
The Secret of a Beautiful Life.
In Memoriam of Mr. & Mrs. James Knowles.
Selected from Their Diaries.
"They shall be Mine in that day when I come to make up My Jewels."
Edited by Rev. Duncan Mcneill Young.
New York: William Knowles, 104 East Thirteenth Street. 1887.
Copyright, 1887. By Wm. Knowles
The present volume is a purely pastoral attempt, emanating from a fraternal affection for two of God's honored saints, and an increasingly growing desire for the glory of God in the salvation of souls.
In presenting the following pages to the friends, acquaintances, and co-laborers of our departed brother and sister I desire to record my appreciation of the good achieved by two whose example among us was as beneficial as that of the angel at the pool of Siloam, stirring up the sluggish waters to fresh life and utility, and teaching us that
Beyond this vale of tears There is a life above, Unmeasured by the flight of years; And all that life is love.
While a proper and very natural sentiment demands that the memoirs of the beloved ones should not appear until some time has passed away, it is also proper that their publication should not be put off till all trace of the facts recorded and the impressions there from made have been forgotten. During the preparation of these memoirs nothing has been more clearly manifest to me than the steady recurrence, throughout their lives, of a deep and earnest unison of feeling between man and wife, in such unfailing sweetness as to find its way at once to our hearts and clothe it with the freshness of a living, loving presence.
The subjects whose earthly career we are about to delineate, were whole-souled enough to elicit the respect of all who knew them, hence they made lasting friends, whilst to their own immediate family their loss is irreparable, and it is hard to realize that they are no more; for who is there among us who does not know what it is to be united by a fond and passionate affection to those who are no longer with us--ever to think of the beloved ones, and to feel ourselves constantly under the influence of the vanished presence?
It cannot be claimed for James Knowles that he was a great man, a learned scholar, or one possessed of extraordinary intellectual culture above his fellows, but, as Hamerton says: "It is not erudition that makes the intellectual man, but a sort of virtue which delights in vigorous and beautiful thinking, just as moral virtue delights in vigorous and beautiful conduct." So it was with our brother, he made the most of the talents God endowed him with, and whatever he undertook to do, he did with might and main; hence his success in any undertaking, or any cause he espoused, for he seemed to realize that success in a _good_ cause is undoubtedly better than failure, while the result in any case is not to be regarded so much as the aim and effort, and the striving with which worthy objects are pursued. Although the Elder may have been less than a Huss, a Calvin, or a Knox in public fame, he had emulated them in self-contemplation and humility.
As for Matilda Knowles, our missionary, she was more than a Dorcas, and equally vigorous in spirit with a Lydia; hence we speak of her in the sphere in which it pleased God for her to labor. Those who will carefully read the chapters devoted to her work, will at once perceive that little is left for me to speak of in words of praise.
Let our Bible women study the pages of this book containing the record of her toil in the vineyard, and note the fruits thereof for over a quarter of a century; for no work purely imaginative in its character ever outrivalled it in intensity of interest, especially to those who have the salvation of the unregenerate at heart. To our children and co-workers and successors we earnestly commend it; praying that the Divine blessing may accompany its circulation and perusal in our own and other lands until He shall come whose right it is to reign.
With these few prefatory remarks, with no claim to literary excellence, and a prayer for the blessing of the Holy Spirit, I commit this imperfect production to the perusal of all co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord.
I also sincerely trust that it will be acceptable to every evangelical denomination, where the love of the Great Creator, and the advancing perfection of human life predominates over all forms of sin and superstition.
DUNCAN M. YOUNG.
NEW YORK, August 18, 1887.
PAGE. CHAPTER I.
Brief Sketch of the Life of James Knowles, 15
Correspondence and Covenants, 24
Scripture Texts, 29
The Last Hours, 38
The Dead Who Die in the Lord, 46
A Brief Historical Sketch of the Allen Street Presbyterian Church, 70
PAGE. CHAPTER VII.
Brief Memoir of Matilda Knowles, 85
The Value of Prayer, 89
The Story of William the Consumptive, 94
Sowing and Reaping, 105
Daily Missionary Work, 113
Destitution and Reformation, 120
Her Faithfulness in Little Things, 125
The Power of Influence, 132
Miscellaneous Extracts from Her Diary, 136
Struggles and Triumphs, 149
Leading Souls To Christ, 156
The Dying Mother and the Intemperate Husband, 159
Help and Loving Kindness, 163
Reaching the Heart, 166
Winter Life and Scenes, 171
Circulating the Scriptures, 175
The Ninety and Nine, 178
Answered Prayer, 185
The Sin of Idolatry, 192
Peace Through Believing, 197
Drawn by the Cords of Love, 202
Love for the Hebrews, 206
Thankfulness to God, 211
Lost, but Found, 214
Sea-Side Excursions for Mothers and Children, 219
The Intemperate Wife, 223
Her Love of Children and of Praying, 226
The Conversion of Children, 231
Asleep in Jesus, 235
Testimonials and Letters of Condolence, 264
To the Pastors, Elders, Sabbath-School Workers, and the New York Female Bible Readers' Society, who were Intimately Associated with the deceased in Winning Souls to Christ,
These Memoirs are Affectionately Dedicated
BY THE EDITOR.
DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF MR. AND MRS. JAMES KNOWLES.
They died within a week of each other, after a married life of forty-seven years, and each at the age of seventy-five.
Ever faithful to the cause of their Master, they died as they had lived--in triumphant faith.
Hand in hand, together they trod Through years twoscore and seven; Their only staff was the Word of God, Their path was the way to heaven.
Hand in hand, e'er the burning sun Had drunk up the morning dew, They started their earthly journey to run, While the heavens were fair and blue.
But life's path lies not through a grassy dell, In the cool of the morning's shade; There are scorching sands, and torrents that swell, As well as the flowery glade.
There are crags to climb in the mountains fast, There are gorges, and canyons deep, And the blinding snow, and the wintry blast Must over the landscape sweep.
And the shoulders must bear a wearisome load, Whether o'er mountain or moor, Or through forest, or dusty highway, lay the road, Or the feet be bleeding and sore.
But hand in hand we see them still, When the sun had drunk up the dew; They were toiling steadfastly up the hill, Ever keeping the end in view.
They scaled the crags of the mountain steep When the noontide sun was high; And they forded the flood of the canyon deep, When the sun lay low in the sky.
But their tired feet are no longer as light As in days of the long, long past, And their youthful tresses have turned to white With the snows, and the wintry blast.
Now hand in hand, they stand by the shore Of a river dark and wide; And the songs which the seraphs are wafting o'er, They catch from the other side.
And their faces beam with unearthly light, In the rays of the setting sun, As their eyes peer far beyond mortals' sight, And they learn that life's journey is done.
Hand in hand by the river, they stray Where the dark waves wash the shore; And they hear the splash, and the feathery spray, As the ferryman dips his oar.
Now the father waves a loving adieu, As he looses his claspèd hand; And the ferryman plies his oar anew, Till he reaches the golden strand.
By the silent waves of the river of death, The mother is waiting still, With eager eye and with bated breath, The call of the Master's will.
Now her face is illumed by a heavenly light As sweet as angels' breath; For she knows that the unclasped hands will unite, Across the river of death.
GEORGE F. SARGENT.
NEW YORK, February 17, 1887.
[Illustration: JAMES KNOWLES]
BRIEF SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF JAMES KNOWLES.
"God bless thee, bairn--my bonnie bairn," She said, an' straikit doon his hair; "O may the widow's God be thine, And mak' thee His peculiar care!"
James Knowles was born at sea, December 5, 1811, his father, the previous day, having been swept overboard and lost. Unfortunately no record of the misfortune was kept to be available for the present purpose; hence we are unable to give either the name of the ship, or the latitude and longitude it was in when his birth occurred. Picture to yourself the deck of a vessel in mid-ocean, where the widow of a day becomes a mother the next, the subject of this sketch being the infant presented to her bosom, and you have a glimpse of the situation--though it be unconnected with either a cottage, a mansion, or a palace.
The mother returned with the infant to the home of her father at Ballymena, Ireland, where her relatives then undertook the care of the fatherless babe, which eventually grew into healthy boyhood of the most affectionate character.
As a youth he made rapid progress in the elementary branches of education, often surprising his teachers with the patience and care he exhibited in keeping in advance of his fellow-students--for he was almost always at the head of his class. He was noted for his quiet, unobtrusive disposition, underlying which was an internal force, which made him prompt in action, and to the point in word, when the display of such characteristics was sometimes necessary to establish his individual superiority with more than usual power among his fellow-schoolmates.
In 1826 he commenced his apprenticeship as a compositor, under the care of Mr. Dugan, in the city of Belfast, Ireland, where he continued until the expiration of the time of his indentures.
In 1832, after an ocean passage of sixty days in a sailing vessel, he arrived in Philadelphia, Pa.
During this long and tedious voyage across the Atlantic, he and the captain of the ship became very intimately attached to each other, and he was frequently invited to dine with the officers.
After a brief stay in Philadelphia, he came to New York City, where he found employment. Immediately after his arrival in this city, he became a member of the Rev. Dr. McLeod's Reformed Presbyterian Church, in Chambers Street, and continued with this church until after they had removed to Prince Street.
In 1835 he became an employé in the office of the _Journal of Commerce_. He frequently recalled that fearful night during the great fire in New York, when the greater part of the lower portion of the city was totally destroyed, and some of the large buildings had to be blown up with gunpowder, to stop the ravages of the flames; he took an active part in carrying the printing "forms" to a place of safety.
In 1839 he was married to Miss Matilda Darroch, who was a member of Dr. McCarthy's Canal Street Presbyterian Church and a teacher in the Sabbath-school.
As a Christian man, at this time, we find him teaching a large Bible-class for young men in the above church, and to the end of his earthly career he was constantly engaged in the Sabbath-school.
In 1849 the Prince Street Church property was sold to erect a new building on Twelfth Street, where he continued to attend the services until the year 1850, when some of the members, being anxious to enlarge their borders, and continue the work in the lower part of the city, formed the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church. They organized, and called the Rev. Spencer L. Finney to the pastorate, who commenced to hold services in the hall of the Apprentices' Library, No. 472 Broadway, where they worshipped for one year, and then secured more ample accommodations in which to worship God, in the rooms of the Medical College, Crosby Street, near Spring.
In 1850 he was carefully examined, and when found qualified for the sacred office, was duly ordained a ruling elder in the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church.
During the year 1854 the Church purchased the building in Mulberry Street, near Grand, belonging to the Lutheran body.
At this time he continued to reside on the west side of the city, and attended two sessions of the Sabbath-school morning and afternoon, with two preaching services, and one prayer-meeting in the evening.
As soon as the congregation were permanently settled in a church building, he removed from the west to the east side of the city, to the Tenth Ward, in order to be in close proximity to his church work.
He continued to worship with the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church, under the pastorate of the Rev. S. L. Finney, who, in 1863, was called to Princeton, N.J.
The Rev. Geo. S. Chambers was subsequently called to take the pastoral charge. Eventually, it was found essential to change their ecclesiastical relations from the Reformed Presbyterian Church to the Old School, from which time (the two religious bodies having become united), the congregation became known as the Ebenezer Presbyterian Church.
In due course it united with the Fortieth Street Presbyterian Church, afterward called the Murray Hill Presbyterian Church, because at the time, though in possession of a church building, they had no pastor. Mr. Knowles continued to attend regularly until the imperative demands of age and time called for change, when he became united with the Allen Street Church.
In 1870 he accepted an invitation from his uncle to visit his native place; and he frequently afterward remarked that the scenes of his boyhood's days had materially changed as much as he had; realizing that change, progress, and decay were written upon all things terrestrial.
During this visit to Europe, he greatly enjoyed rambles over the country roads, admiring the beauties of the surrounding scenery.
On one occasion, while passing the school-house of his boyhood days, he was found by an old friend, wistfully gazing at the building, who said, "What are you looking at?" And upon entering into conversation, he discovered that he and the gentleman who addressed him had been former schoolmates together.
We find recorded in his diary the following:
"I now commence filling this book, which I brought with me from New York, in the steamship Italia. I am now in Fenagh, Ireland."
From the record of this journey, we notice that he was very careful in watching the signs of the times, and the changing moods of the weather. For example, he writes thus:
_Sabbath, January 4, 1874._--When I rose this morning, I found the ground covered with snow; the first fall of the season, and like the little captive Syrian maid, though far from home and friends and among comparative strangers, I do not forget God or the sanctuary.
_Monday, January 5th._--A fine day, but cold, and snow on the ground.
_Tuesday, January 6th._--A fine day, and a fine thaw, which resulted in the removal of the snow which had fallen a short time previously.
_Wednesday, January 7th_ (morning).--A fine day. Afternoon, clouds gathering; lightning and thunder; came on to rain.
_Thursday, January 8th._--A fine day of the season.
_Friday, January 9th._--A fair day.
_Saturday, January 10th._--A fine day. I went into Ballymena myself, and called at several places, and upon Mr. White, the printer, who did not know me, or remember anything about me. I called also on Mrs. McQuitty, who treated me in a very kindly manner. I also called on Mr. Kilpatrick's, but I only saw two of his daughters, and a little child. On the same day I bought McComb's almanac in Ballymena; paid two pence for it. I also bought the _Ballymena Observer_ from Mr. White. I walked into Ballymena, and also returned in like manner, only that in returning I took a circuitous route, that I might see a portion of the country that I had not seen for a length of time before my departure for America, in June, 1832.
_Sabbath, January 11th_ (forenoon).--I heard Mr. Moody lecture from the 16th chapter of John, and 16th verse.
_Afternoon._--Nehemiah, 9th chapter and 19th verse: "Yet Thou in Thy manifold mercy, forsookest them not in the wilderness; the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way wherein they should go."
_Monday, January 12th._--A cold day. I received a letter from my son, William Knowles, in New York City.
_Wednesday, May 19, 1875._--A fine day. I went to Belfast in an excursion train, and called at several places, and in the evening took a cabin passage for Glasgow, Scotland. I went from Greenock to Glasgow in the train; I arrived on Thursday morning in Glasgow, about six o'clock, and went to my brother-in-law's, Mr. William Darroch. The day is cold, blowing, and showers.
_Glasgow, Sabbath morning, May 23d._--Heard the Rev. Mr. Douglass lecture from the 6th chapter of Matthew.
_Afternoon._--A lovely day. Heard another minister preach in the same church, from the 3d chapter of Philippians, and 8th verse: "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but lost for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord."
_Tuesday, May 25th._--I went with Mrs. Darroch and her daughter, Maggie, to Edinburgh, and after visiting the castle, and a number of other places of interest, returned to Glasgow the same day.
_Saturday, May 29th._--Returned to Belfast.
_Sabbath morning, May 30th._--A beautiful day. Heard Dr. Houston, pastor of my boyhood, lecture from the 13th chapter of John; then preach from 1st Thessalonians, 3d chapter, 12th and 13th verses. Lecture in the evening, from the 6th and 7th chapter of Revelations. I took dinner and tea with Rev. Dr. Houston and his family. A fine day throughout.
Before returning to this country he expressed his love and unfeigned gratitude to the memory of his sainted mother (who early taught him the ways of God) by erecting a substantial monument over her grave to perpetuate her revered name.
After spending two years in Europe he returned to New York, and was elected an Elder in the Allen Street Church.
On Easter Sabbath, April, 1877, he was regularly installed into office as a Ruling Elder.
So I ask Thee, Lord, to give me grace My little place to fill, That I may ever walk with Thee, And ever do Thy will, And in each duty, great or small; I may be faithful still.
Of course, the life-work of such a man as we are contemplating was full of little peculiarities (eccentricities, society calls them), which even his most intimate relations with the world does not divulge to the inquisitive of his day. It is only after such men pass away and their relatives are permitted to look into the "private jewel-box," as it were, that we come across the brilliant diamonds of thought, the glowing rubies of expressed gratitude and, may be, some softly-tinted pearls of faith, hope and charity, all lying together in the receptacle which, even if humble in workmanship, is full of priceless treasures.
The Bible of our friend was very often used for over forty years, until it showed that it was never allowed to preserve a dainty appearance through a want of use, nor the dust to accumulate on cover or edge by reason of its owner's non-usage of the sacred pages. It was a useful Reference Bible, and, no doubt, of immense value and comfort to him, for the pages are pretty well worn, even where no marks are made indicative of favorite passages, etc.
Next among the eccentricities of our friend was the disposition to keep a quiet order of memorandums, and a diary extending back for many years, from which had we the space to spare in this book we would place before the world some of the gems found in his jewel-box, as indicative of the man's industry and the Christian's freedom from ostentatious display.
Help each step upon the way, Strength sufficient for the day, All things easy in Thy might, Work for thee a felt delight.
Courage, patience, grace supplied, All things needful--at Thy side; Such my happy lot will be, Working, dearest Lord, with thee.
Agreeably with the spirit of our labor, we will take an impartial view of our friend as a Christian, in the eyes of the world, and among laymen generally. That he was no drone in the Christian hive, all the world could see; that he was active and unusually laborious for Christ and the Church, no one who follows the spirit of the sermon eulogizing his memory, or who reads this work, can deny; as an Elder of the Church, he was faithful in anything he was requested to perform, especially in public prayer-meeting, individual devotional study, and self-contemplation.
His sympathy for suffering humanity in any form, was, indeed, very large, in fact so easily moved, that he would habitually visit the sick members of the Church after being relieved from such duties. To him all men and women were brothers and sisters, the distance of relationship (if very strained and far between in some instances), he would claim, was closer, more congenial, and intimate in others.
As a builder among the builders, a workman among the workmen of the temple; or as a brother among brethren of the same house, he was meekness itself; his spirit of patience never failing him in instances where "to wait was gain," either for God, the Church, or himself.
His acquiescence in the decision of his brethren, when they at last decided upon changing the location of their place of worship, was secured at the price of sacrificing his own preferences in the matter--and all for the sake of peace, harmony, and continued brotherly love. In this he was a "light shining upon a hill-top."
The interest he always displayed and the anxiety he expressed for the continued welfare of the Church, manifesting the same in the labors performed or duties undertaken, was always profound, as it embraced among other items of care the temporal welfare and spiritual prosperity of the various clergymen with whom he had labored.
In his demeanor he was never in a hurry to do to-day what he should have done yesterday, because having no faith in procrastination, he left nothing undone to-day to be performed on the morrow, if by any means it could be accomplished, or the duty performed at once. In going to the House of God, he left all worry about the world on the outside of it, the moment he entered the porch; the drudgery of every-day life did not go with him into the pew; the prejudices of an ambiguous man troubled him not, while the disposition to "take things easy," while others bore the burden, was never fostered by him.
But he did carry something into the house every time he entered! He took in with him his Bible, his sweetest temper, his most charitable disposition, a vigorous condition of soul-life, a sensible care of the temporal body, and also the continued desire to be always walking with God, as well as the desire for larger acquisitions of intuitive spiritual knowledge--very proper things to take into the House of God with you at all times; and our departed brother had enough of these, and to spare.
But to cease from reflection, we close this chapter with one of our friend's favorite little gems of poetry, believing that when you have read it, you will agree with us that James Knowles was a man to be beloved, indeed; for through these few lines his spirit breathes back again to us from the great beyond:
If you cannot be a leader In the crowd that pours along, Raise the fallen, lying prostrate Under foot, amid the throng.
Though your work be never mentioned, Though your name may not appear, Speak one word for "Jesus only," And the Lord, at least, will hear.
CORRESPONDENCE AND COVENANTS.
The following letter was written to his mother while an apprentice as a printer in the city of Belfast, Ireland:
BELFAST, January 15, 1829.
DEAR MOTHER:--I write this letter to you for the purpose of letting you know how I am doing. I am devoting the most of my leisure hours to reading and improving my mind, some way or other. Indeed, it is not much time I have to devote to things of that nature; but all the time I have I am busy. I meet with a good many advantages in every respect, where I am now. I have the advantage of having a room to apply my time to whatever study I resolve to persevere in. If I had time, I would give you a more correct account of my transactions through the day; but if I have time to meditate a little, I hope I will be enabled to give you some account of the sermons that I hear, as I think it would be greatly to my own interest, for if I pry into that part of information, there is no danger but that I will have success in whatever situation I am placed in life. I may be thankful that I have a room to read my Bible in on Sabbath days. I have none to speak to me or give me annoyance of any sort whatever. I hope the next letter I write you, that it will be in a more correct sense. I hope you will write me by Johnny, when he is coming back to town, and let me know how you are succeeding in work, and how Jane is succeeding in the business of the shop. I send my love to all my friends (everyone in particular), I hope you will let me know how they are all doing; but I have nothing more to say at present. But I trust you will write me in the beginning of the week. I must conclude, as it is now too late for me to say anything more. All here are well, but Mrs. L----, who is in a bad state of health.
* * * * * *
The following letter is a sample of many to his old pastors, showing his strong attachment to those who labored with him in word and doctrine:
NEW YORK, March 26, 1883.
MR. PHELPS--Reverend and dear friend and Christian brother: It has been my purpose for some time to write to you and yours, even if it should be but a few lines, to assure you that you are not forgotten by us; for although you are absent from us, yet your faithful and earnest appeals still live in our remembrance, and I have no doubt will continue to do so; and while I may not be able to recall much of the many sermons which I have heard you deliver, yet the impressions made upon my mind while sitting under them are retained. I might, however, state here, that I was sorry to part with you and your family, and to feel that your pastoral relationship with us would soon be broken up; I had made up my mind to stay by the Church while you remained, if I lived, as I was attached to you and your family as to personal friends.... My wife and I unite in love to you and Mrs. Phelps and your son.
* * * * * *
COVENANTS WITH GOD.
"Dear Lord, and shall Thy Spirit rest In such a wretched heart as mine? Unworthy dwelling! Glorious Guest! Favor astonishing, Divine!"
* * * * * *
The following acts of consecration will, no doubt, be of interest to the reader:
NEW YORK, Thursday, June 21, 1860.
I do solemnly resolve from this day onward to endeavor, relying on thy Holy Spirit, to serve _Thee_ better. This is my covenant, and I would ask Thee to own and bless me with peace and joy in believing.
* * * * * *
NEW YORK, Saturday, October 6, 1860.
I now promise, as I have formerly promised to do, from this day onward, to serve God better than I have been doing; depending on God's spirit for assistance; and will now ask to be prospered as God may see good for me.
* * * * * *
NEW YORK, Friday, October 18, 1861.
I resolved to serve God with renewed efforts, determining to look alone to God for help.
 The Fulton Street Noon Prayer Meetings found him an occasional visitor during these days of national peril, anxiety, and prayer.
* * * * * *
NEW YORK, Thursday, April 9, 1863.
Entered into an agreement with my Heavenly Father that, through the strength of His divine grace, I will live more for the glory of God than I have ever done.
* * * * * *
NEW YORK, Saturday afternoon, April 22, 1865.
I renewed my covenant with God in the City Hall Park while standing there, which I some years ago made, and now I again renew it, that I would serve God better than formerly.
* * * * * *
NEW YORK, Thursday, April 19, 1866.
Renewed my engagement with the Lord to serve Him better than I had done before, after having prayed to Him to be justified through faith in the righteousness of Christ; and asked for other blessings which I felt satisfied I would receive, for I feel my great need of these, as I felt very helpless in myself, but that there was abundant fulness in Christ.
I write this and the above on this Saturday night, the 22d of April, 1866.
* * * * * *
NEW YORK, Wednesday, December 5, 1866.
My birth-day, and a fine day.
I resolved on this day to endeavor to serve the Lord better, and renewed my covenant with the Lord, which I formerly made, and have again and again sought or attempted to renew. May the Lord aid me in the future.
And thus, from these few specimens of his constantly self-convicted weakness and appeals for more spiritual strength, we get a look at the inner life of a practical Christian worker which it is rare to find among us in these days. He could not stand alone; his last self-examination always found him short, though it consisted of but a few questions put by the spirit to the flesh at the end of every devotional service incidental to the life and work of each day, thus:
Did I this morn devoutly pray For God's assistance through the day? And did I read His sacred Word, To make my life therewith accord? Did I for any purpose try To hide the truth and tell a lie? Did I my time and thoughts engage As fits my duty, station, age? Did I with care my temper guide, Checking ill-humor, anger, pride? Did I my lips from aught refrain That might my fellow-creature pain? Did I with cheerful patience bear The little ills that all must share? For all God's mercies through this day Did I my grateful tribute pay? And did I, when the day was o'er, God's watchful aid again implore?
"I want a meek, a gentle, quiet frame, A heart that glows with love to Jesus' name; I want a living sacrifice to be For Him who died a sacrifice for me."
The following extracts from his diary reveal to us his carefulness in noting the texts of Scripture and the analysis of sermons he heard preached on the Sabbaths and week days from 1858 up to the time of his death.
_Thursday_ (_fast-day_), _September 16, 1858._--Heard a sermon preached by Dr. Crawford from the 57th chapter of Isaiah and the 15th verse: "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."
_Saturday, September 18th._--Preached by Mr. Sanderson, from the 15th chapter of St. Luke and the 2d verse: "And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them."
_Sabbath, June 20, 1859._--Preached by Mr. Finney, from Ecclesiastes, chapter 9, verse 10: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest."
_Sabbath, December 16, 1860._--Preached by Mr. Finney, from the 53d chapter of Isaiah and 11th verse, last clause: "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many: for he shall bear their iniquities." Afternoon.--"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." It is like the love of my mother. What an inexpressible peace and love and gentleness is launched upon you; which none but a mother can bestow, oft do I sigh in my struggles with the hard, uncaring world, for the sweet, deep security I felt, when of an evening, nestling in her bosom, I listened to some quiet tale. In my younger years I read in her tender and loving voice an invaluable incentive to be good. I can never forget her sweet smile upon me. When I appear to sleep, I feel her sweet kiss of peace.
* * * * * *
A MOTHER'S LOVE.
Children, look in those eyes; listen to that dear voice; notice the feeling of a single touch that is bestowed upon you by that gentle hand. Make much of it while yet you have that most precious of all good gifts--a loving mother. Read the unfathomable love of those eyes; the kind anxiety of that tone and look, and by analogy remember the tenderness and compassion of Jesus.
_New York, November 12, 1865_ (_Sabbath Day_).--Heard Mr. Finney preach from the Gospel according to St. Luke, 24th chapter and 23d verse: "And they said one to another, did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scripture?" It was powerful and impressive to all present, as: 1. The doctrinal teaching of Christ, as understood in this part of the chapter. 2. It is scriptural. 3. It is faithful. 4. It is pointed. 5. It is instructive to the understanding.
_Friday, December 12, 1867._--I attended our church, and heard a sermon preached from the 3d chapter of St. Matthew and the 3d verse, last clause: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." Afterward Mr. Chambers was ordained to the office of the gospel ministry, and the charge was given to him by Dr. Campbell; and the charge to the people by Dr. Hall. After the conclusion of the services, the congregation congratulated our newly-ordained pastor in his new relation to us.
_Sabbath, October 1st._--Preached by Mr. Chambers to the children of the Sabbath school, in the Fortieth Street Church, from Luke ii., verses 27 to 32. Simeon was led by the Spirit into the Temple, and for an important object. He had been waiting in expectancy of this great event, and at the appointed period was led to the temple, where he became satisfied in beholding the Lord's Christ, and thus his faith became constant in the fulfilment of God's promise to him, and found that the desires awakened in his soul was now satisfied; and although he had been comparatively unknown to others, yet he now enjoyed not only a convincing proof of God's goodness to himself on this occasion, with such an appearance of love, but he enjoyed the privilege of prophesying concerning his own people, and also the effects of the gospel upon the Gentile nations.
_Sabbath, November 21st._--Preached by Mr. Chambers, from Jeremiah, 2d chapter and 19th verse: "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that _it is_ an evil _thing_ and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear _is_ not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts."
In one of his notes, as if he had just heard a sermon upon the subject, he writes: "In lives of faith and long obedience to the command of our Lord and _Master_ Jesus Christ, we have first presented to us something of the operations and workings of the mind of the depth of humility and gratitude expressed in his own words, and the evident absence of everything of a proud spirit. Thus when the sinner is brought to Christ, the change will become manifest not in giving expression to similar feelings in only thankful acknowledgments in words, but a becoming and thankful spirit will be seen in the entire life, in proportion as Jesus is followed and kept in view. But when Jesus is received into the heart, the recipient of this precious gift will feel anxious to do good to others, that they, too, may partake of the benefits of His salvation. First, then, deep repentance of sin. Second, a heart full of gratitude to God for this free gift. Third, the Apostle is not ashamed to acknowledge his entire indebtedness to God. What encouragement we may have from this circumstance in common with others to endeavor to do good; for if it was such an advantage to this man to be made whole, how great, then, must the advantage be to those, who are led to believe in Christ, and are delivered from condemnation, and become heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ."
_New York, Sabbath, March 6, 1870._--Sermon [preached by Dr. McElroy's assistant] from 1st Thessalonians, 5th chapter, 17th verse: "Pray without ceasing."
1. By observing stated seasons for prayer.
2. Always maintain a prayerful spirit.
3. Always acting as in the immediate presence of God.
4. Turning everything into prayer.
_New York, Sabbath, March 20, 1870._--Sermon preached by Mr. Chambers, to the Sabbath-school, from 6th chapter of Romans, 23d verse: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord."
1. The death of character.
2. The death of all good prospect.
3. The death of the body.
4. The death of the soul.
_Fortieth Street Church, Sabbath, December 3, 1871._--Sermon preached by Mr. Chambers, from the 25th chapter of St. Matthew, 31st and 32d verses: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of His glory. And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats."
Subject, the goats and sheep.
G--Go into dangerous places. O--Often annoy the sheep. A--Appear like sheep. T--Take poisonous food. S--Stubborn.
S--Seek the fold. H--Hear the shepherd's voice. E--Ever the same. E--Eat the wholesome food. P--Peaceful and peaceable.
_New York, Sabbath, December 30, 1883._--Heard Rev. Dr. Conkling preach from St. Matthew, 17th chapter and 8th verse: "And when they had lifted up their eyes they saw no man save Jesus only."
1. Take Jesus as your guide. 2. Trust Jesus as your Saviour. 3. We should follow Jesus as our example. 4. We should love Jesus with a supreme love.
I heard Mr. Moody preach from the 11th chapter of Hebrews and the 16th verse: "But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city." This he divided into three parts:
I. The persons referred to are believers.
(_a._) They lived by faith. (_b._) They died in faith.
II. They were called by His name; and realized His presence.
III. _He had prepared for them a city._
_Sabbath, November 21st._--Preached by Mr. Chambers to the children of the Sabbath-school, from Proverbs 20th chapter and 11th verse: "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right." Subject: How children may be known. First. We will take the word Lord, and let each letter stand for a word, or a particular part.
L--Love. Love to God, etc. O--Obedience. Obedience to God and to their parents. R--Respectful to their superiors. D--Doing good.
How bad children are known:
Take one word and let each letter stand for a particular subject. By their
D--Disobedience. E--Enticing others to evil. V--Vanity and pride. I--Insulting to their superiors. L--Love of sin.
Heard Mr. Chambers preach from the 19th chapter of St. Matthew's gospel and the 13th and 14th verses: "Then were brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and his disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said: Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
A. Approach of the parents to Christ. B. Blessing sought. C. Conduct of the disciples. D. Displeasure of Christ. E. Encouragement of Christ to the parents of the children. F. Familiar reception of those parents and the children on the part of Christ. G. Gracious words of Christ. H. Heavenly requirements.
Improvement, or instructions from lesson. Under the 8th head of the discourse, Heavenly requirements, he referred to five characteristics of children as designated by the five letters of the word child; viz., C, Confiding. H, Happy. I, Inquisitive. L, Loving. D, Dependants.
Citing another interesting sermon, he writes:
_New York, September 25th_ (_Sabbath_).--Heard Rev. George O. Phelps preach from the 3d chapter of Acts and 6th verse, "Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." The true followers of Christ, in their desire to do good, will frequently find cases to excite their sympathy. Here was a most affecting case, a man lame from his mother's womb, but is suddenly cured by the power of God. He was directed by Peter to look upon John and himself, assuring him that they had neither silver nor gold, but such as they had he would give. He had only to look upon them, Peter and John, at the beautiful gate that is supposed to divide the Gentiles from the inner Court.
1. The power of Christ displayed in such a remarkable manner on this occasion. 2. The faith of the man in doing as he was told, and the effects produced. 3. The faith of Peter and John, united with their desire to work a miracle in this man's case. 4. The gratitude of this man; he had received far more than he had expected.
Their success was even more than they had anticipated. They had gone forth at the command of Christ. They had not only respect for His authority, but they gave testimony to this by their ready obedience to the command of Jesus, and thus far they had the satisfaction of doing the will of their Lord and Master.
It was a loving obedience, as can be seen by the results that followed.
They commenced their work _right_, receiving their instructions from their Saviour Himself. They went forth relying upon Him for the help and assistance required.
They returned again to give him their report, and they rejoiced to feel that their success was even beyond what they expected. And yet, while the Saviour heard their report, He cautioned them not to let their success occupy too much of their attention, but rather rejoice because their names are written in heaven. It is pleasant to know that when we obey the Lord, as these seventy disciples did, that we adhere strictly to all His words of command; and that we know that we have experienced the love of God in our hearts; but yet we are not to make this the ground-work of our rejoicing, but trust more in that which is done without us than in that which is done within us.
Another grand characteristic of the elder was his almost invariable custom to watch and note the providential dealings of God with the officers of the church, whenever they met for the transaction of business.
His fidelity in noting the texts preached from, down to the last Sabbath he spent on earth, is a proof of his unparalleled perseverance and painstaking in keeping his diary.
We close this part of our work by giving our readers a sample of his carefulness at this time.
_New York, October 10th_ (_Sabbath evening_).--Heard Mr. Young preach from the 5th chapter of Romans and 1st verse: "Therefore being justified by faith," etc., and onward, giving an account of Rome the imperial city, and its surroundings; also the triumphs and advances of Christianity notwithstanding the opposition which the church had to encounter.
The last sermon he ever heard on earth was peculiarly appropriate to prepare his mind and heart for the peaceful closing hour of this mortal life. He again writes:
_New York, October 17th, 1886_ (_Sabbath evening_).--Heard Mr. Young preach from the 11th chapter of St. John's Gospel, and the 39th verse: "Jesus said, Take ye away the stone.... Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" Unfolding the omnipotency of Christ's love in the hour of sickness and sorrow--also the profound sympathy with the sorrowing sisters of Bethany in their great bereavement; and His matchless power over death and the grave, because He said, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."
In closing this part of our work we would remark, that there are very few men who have been so painstaking and methodical as to record in their diary all the texts, time, and place, and the preacher's name, in connection with the sermons to which he was permitted to listen.
Their commencement, continuation, and close, is all that space allows for further insertion.
THE LAST HOURS.
I often feel impatient, And mourn the long delay, I never can be settled While he remains away. But we shall not long be parted, For I know he'll quickly come, And we shall dwell together In that happy, happy home.
We were about to say farewell to the loved brother whose end was rapidly approaching. His going from this life to that beyond the grave was one of the most remarkable for faith and hope, quietly exhibiting the spirit of Him who went about continually doing good.
There was no attempt to argue with death, and ask for a respite to prepare for the journey through the valley of the shadow of death to the golden shore beyond. We cannot do better here than lay before the reader the following communication written by their son to their former pastor, the Rev. George O. Phelps, of Utica, N.Y. It is a brief narrative of their last hours on earth, which were a triumphant ending to a long life of devotion to their Master:
NEW YORK CITY, November 15, 1886.
Your kind letter was duly received and contents noted. At your request, I will endeavor to give you a brief account of the "goings" of my departed parents. In a spirit of humility I desire to avoid all expressions of fulsomeness when speaking of their lives and last moments, though it might be said that those who were at the death-bed of either, and saw them in their last hours, would have been willing to have left all to exchange places with them. I would say, in the words of one of old, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like theirs." As they lived so they died! As father lay down, so he never moved until he was carried into the arms of Jesus.
All through his two days' sickness, as we put our ears to his lips, we could hear him earnestly praying for Allen Street Church, her minister and people, and for his family. Our mother would frequently speak to him, saying:
"Just one word, papa!"
But he would only shake his head, without uttering a word.
The history of his going was as follows:
On Tuesday, October 19th, father left the office for the last time. When Wednesday morning, October 20th, dawned, he complained of a pain in his side, remarking that he "did not think he would go to the office before noon." He did not go at all.
I went to the house in the evening, to find that the doctor had been called _twice_, and that father had pleurisy. We passed through the night watching and hoping for favorable changes; but, unfortunately, the next (Thursday) morning, October 21st, pneumonia set in, and the case became complicated. Already very weak, he grew more feeble every hour. He had done his part of this life's work, and seemed conscious that the Universal Master was about to finish the mansion into which his servant was fully prepared to enter. A peaceful, quiet Christian in the home circle; a zealous worker in the Church; watchful in his business relations with the world, he looked the very embodiment of peaceful repose in his last moments, and on his earthly bed of sleeping rest--so life-like, too, that I dare not say bed of death--as he breathed his last at 2.10 A.M., Saturday, October 23d.
The expressions and sentiments of many who visited the house during his sickness, and while lying in the casket (Roman Catholics, believers, and unbelievers) were all in harmony with the idea that "if ever a human being entered heaven, he had gone straight to that realm of blissful repose."
But to go back just prior to his demise, when the doctor quietly told us he could not live another day. We tried hard to be resigned on that Friday night, feeling sure that the end was near. After the meeting at the Church was dismissed, the minister came to the house and remained with us until after midnight, obtaining from father the words and signs that are precious as he passed away; the last audible words to me being: "William, God bless you and your family!"
In the history of _my_ mother's demise, I will briefly state that, on Saturday night, October 23d, while father lay asleep in Jesus, she went to the store, as was her life-long custom, with some tracts, and to purchase a few things. On her return after coming up-stairs she threw herself down upon the sofa with the words, "No papa to come and carry up the basket for me to-night!" and there she sat in deep affliction, as if her heart would break.
On Sabbath night, October 24th, when quite a number of people were in the house, she very earnestly exhorted them in Christ Jesus, allowing no one to pass unobserved. In turning to one young wife, I heard her kindly urge, "Always be cheerful and happy; don't discourage your husband by always complaining. He will also get discouraged. That is what ruins many a happy home." Singular to note, my mother had scarcely got through, when she, too, complained of a pain in her side, remarking, "It is papa's pain."
On Monday morning she arose to eventually lie upon the sofa in an unconscious state. The funeral services over father's remains were to be observed in the Allen Street Presbyterian Church at 1 P.M.: therefore the doctor came in to arouse her, and gave her a stimulant, so that she went to the church with us, returning home instead of going to the grounds, after the services; and here I may say her pastor preached a very solemn sermon, exactly in harmony with the tenor of father's private and public life.
One thing happened (when the relatives were invited to step forward and see the remains for the last time) that was singular, viz.: As my mother bent over to take a last look at the life-long partner of her joys and sorrows, her veil became attached to the handle of the casket, which my sister was compelled to stoop and unloosen. Without being superstitious, this looked like the dead reaching forth to the living.
At all events, on Tuesday, October 26th, mother was confined to her bed, and, as she had said, she had "papa's pain"--pleurisy. The next day, Wednesday, October 27th, pneumonia followed, when it required three persons to care for her in the day, and three to attend her through the night, with no change for the better.
On Thursday there was no favorable sign to note--suspense was still in the balancing beam. Toward Friday night, October 29th, all hope having vanished, my mother was quietly informed that "her day was short!" To which she responded: "My day is short. I must finish my work!"
"Then occurred a repetition of the previous call upon the Allen Street Church, a second Friday in succession. In response, the minister, elder, and' several young men came promptly to the house to hear the testimony of a sainted mother in Israel going to rest. After supplication in prayer and a hymn of praise, the minister asked mother:
"Have you any word for me, sister?"
Turning over and taking his hand, she said:
"No! you know these things yourself. Preach the gospel uncolored!"
To a Roman Catholic she remarked:
"There are no forms about my religion!"
To her daughter-in-law, my wife, she remarked:
"You have a mother!"
To the young men present she lovingly urged:
"Avoid bad company; learn of Christ; seek to be like Him, little by little."
To Mrs. ----, who is a visitor, she firmly said:
"You are well liked, and can do a great deal of good; but pray with the people you visit!"
Then at times she would exclaim:
"Oh, I have so much to do; but I am so weak!"
When Esther, my sister, soothingly said:
"Mother, please do not talk so much, it weakens you;" she responded with:
"The doctor says my day is short!"
Later on, requesting my wife to remove her stockings, she remarked, "I have got to the edge of the river!" Finally: "Once I was young; now I am old, and have _never_ been forsaken!" were the last words of testimony she left those present to bear witness to as she fell asleep in the Lord.
What a blessed "going" for a life-long, zealous Christian who was left an orphan when only eight years of age (as seen and recorded in another chapter), with a rich uncle who would have done anything for her if she had only married as he desired. What an encouragement it holds forth to the living to trust everything to God, and simply follow as He may direct.
Death had no sting or terror for her. She spoke calmly of the last rites to be observed over her remains, saying she would like to be buried like "Papa" (father), and asked my wife if the services would be held over her at the house, or in the church. When informed that the service would be held in the church, she smilingly said, "Very well," and cheerfully resigned herself from earth to heaven.
Her last exhortation to myself was: "Be faithful, humble, meek, and constantly keep at the Master's feet until He calls you up higher. Be kind, gentle, and patiently forbearing with your sister." In her discourse with my sister she was very anxious and urgent that her daughter would ultimately meet her parents in heaven, for which we pray. Her faith was great; she had no fear or thought for self; her great concern was for the heavenly welfare of those around her. She spoke and acted as if her seat or place in the realm of bliss had been long secured to her--in that great faith she died, but not before, in her parting words, she had instructed me, "To gather up the books and tracts; to see that they were properly distributed, and that not one sheet be lost, so that the work would go on after she was gone."
This second source of anxiety having been allayed, she rapturously extended her hands to meet the angels, and raising herself up in bed, turned her head and raised her eyes as if to gaze upon the celestial messengers sent to bear her home, before she said to us: "Be faithful till the Master calls!" then grasping the hands reached out to hers, she was gone--gone from a finite life into heavenly rest!
One or two other items I must note. In looking over my father's papers, I find that he kept a private diary (which forms a part of the contents of this work) of the texts and sermons he heard on the Sabbath, from the year 1858, to the Sabbath before he died, and much significance is given to one he heard you preach from the Book of Jude, 23d verse: "Hating even a garment spotted by the flesh." I feel confident that he grew in grace under the Word of Life conveyed to him by you, and assisted by a close study of his own Bible. In his usual course of reading the Scriptures, he read on the day he was taken sick the 20th Psalm, though not permitted again to drink from the same fountain of Eternal Life, for he was going, unconsciously, to realize the efficacy of the 21st Psalm--a favorite with him--and to receive the crown of gold and life everlasting.
The general remarks of the outside world at the time fostered great interest in the fact of such peaceful "goings" from earth to heaven of two such worthy Christians, at dates so close to each other.
Neither of them feared death. Both had lived and worked in harmony for the same great end.
Both to be ultimately called up higher in one week and two hours of each other.
I desire to supplement the foregoing account of the "Last Hours," by stating that when we reached the house of sickness and death, we found her son reading that precious portion of God's Word, the 14th chapter of St. John's Gospel, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 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," etc. The scene was deeply affecting. Loved ones were gathered around the bedside.
After reading the Scriptures, and prayer, we united in singing that well known hymn,
Jesus, lover of my soul, Let me to Thy bosom fly, While the nearer waters roll, While the tempest still is high, Hide me, O my Saviour, hide, Till the storm of life be past; Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last!
The dying missionary endeavored to join in the singing though extremely faint, and life's latest sun was sinking fast, for the hour of her departure had come, and she heard the voice that called her home, and at last she peacefully entered into that rest that remains for the people of God.
Three thousand copies of the "Last Hours" were printed in pamphlet form and widely scattered over different parts of the country. And the Lord has been graciously pleased to bless their circulation to the spiritual edification of those who had the privilege of reading them.
It was a singular coincidence that the last chapter read by the Elder was the same as the one selected by the minister as the Lesson of the Day, on the occasion of the celebration of the Jubilee exercises in honor of the noble and beloved Queen Victoria, in Westminster Abbey.
THE DEAD WHO DIE IN THE LORD.
"And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them"--Rev. xiv. 13.
 The substance of a sermon preached in the Allen Street Presbyterian Church, New York City, October 25, 1886, on the occasion of the death of Elder James Knowles, who triumphantly fell asleep in Jesus, October 23, 1886, in the seventy fifth year of his age.
Elder James Knowles is at rest--sweet, sweet rest. It is the rest for which he sighed and for which he prayed. His favorite hymn was:
O land of rest, for thee I sigh, When will the moment come, When I shall lay my armor by, And dwell in peace at home?
To keep an eye on the home above is consummate wisdom. Hence the injunction of the Holy Apostle, "Set your affections on things above." This exercise of the heart can only be attained by first seeking an interest in the atoning blood and justifying righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"John looked, and, lo! a Lamb (the Lamb of God) stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name (the new name) written in their foreheads, and I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: and they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the four hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth." Those who had here below redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of their sins, according to the riches of His grace. These are they who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus Christ. Concerning such is this solemn affirmation made, corroborated by the attestation of the Divine voice, that the dearly beloved John heard, saying, "Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."
You know that the original signification of the word "blessed" means happy. In Christ's inimitable Sermon on the Mount He declares, "Happy are the beggars in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." All the uninterrupted felicities of the glory land are theirs at the hour of dissolution. Their joy is augmented by the pure fellowship and friendship of the Saviour and the saints before the throne of the Eternal.
There is a broad avenue opened up to the saved of pleasing and familiar intercourse with the general assembly, and the spirits of just men made perfect. They share the attention and affection of the heavenly host, and are gladdened by the presence of Him who is the King eternal, immortal, but not now invisible, for they behold the King in his beauty.
"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." Death to the Christian is represented in the Scripture as a sleep. "Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." He is redeemed from the power of death. "For Christ came to deliver them, who, through fear of death were all their life time subject to bondage." (Heb. ii. 15.) All believers, therefore, need not dread death--he is a conquered enemy. And so every one of us who are here to day in Christ can say humbly, but truly, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" No Christian, however weak he may be, need fail to feel with Paul, and ask the same question, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?... Nay in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The last great conflict is inevitable, but the secret of a triumphant departure from this life is found in the language of the "Faith Psalm," "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." It is not really death that we have to grapple with. It is only the shadow of death. We do not fear the shadow of a sword, or the shadow of a serpent. The above verse of the twenty-third Psalm is very frequently misquoted. It is called the dark valley. But you remember that when Bunyan's pilgrim came down to the valley it was not dark, for Jesus, the light, was with him. The sting of death is not simply concealed; it is completely destroyed by the death of Christ. He conquered the great enemy. "The sting of death is sin, the strength of sin is the law; but thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Thus understood, the Christian is truly blessed in his death. He cannot be separated from Christ, or from his symmetrically developed spiritual character. Death is not the extinction of being. We must make a distinction between natural and spiritual death. It is sin unforgiven that gives death his power. It is a fearful catastrophe to those out of Christ. Hence the holiness of others will not avail them at the hour of dissolution. "When the soul raves round the walls of its clay tenement, and runs to each avenue, and shrieks for help when no help can come," then the door of salvation is eternally shut. The last ray of hope is then forever faded. "There are no acts of pardon past in the cold grave to which we haste." Oh, let us not content ourselves with a mere external profession of Christianity. True wisdom consists in having the graces of the Holy Spirit in the heart. Walking day by day by faith in Jesus Christ, so that when the cry is made, "Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him," we go forth with joy and not with grief.
Scriptural facts concerning death go to show that it is not an unimportant event. To the soul who is found clothed not in his own righteousness which is of the law, but with the righteousness of the Redeemer, to die is gain, for precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (or holy ones). It is then the refining process is thoroughly completed. They are ready to be offered. The honor and favor of the Father is now about to be received. The union formed on earth is at death gloriously ratified in heaven.
The obedience of Christ's death is fully realized to be laid to their account. The life and immortality brought to light by the Gospel is then permanently enjoyed. The clouds and mysteries that cluster around this earthly life are then dissipated. The full communion of the populace of glory is wonderfully experienced without interruption or restraint. The "conflict is over, and the prize is won." "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." It is then we view the Divine glory, for this was a part of Christ's prayer: "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory."
You see, then, how the believer is ushered into the beauties and blessedness of the beatic state. There is, therefore, nothing to be dreaded by the approach of the last enemy. For, says the prophet, He "will swallow up death in victory: and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of the people shall he take away from off all the earth; for the Lord hath spoken it." It is by a realization of his security in death that the believer in Jesus can calmly meditate on the hour of dissolution--that he is blest with longings for home; that he is soon to be delivered from the present evil world; in short, that he is completely constituted an actuality in the Church triumphant. He is at last brought into intimate alliance with Christ, not now by faith but by sight, not by prayer, but by praise; not by earthly circumscribed anticipation, but by the power of unfathomable and constraining grace, and a deep sensibility of soul which springs from the knowledge that he is forever with the Lord; now the strugglings of faith are ended.
When Peter, James, and John beheld Christ transfigured on the summit of the mount, and as they gazed upon the glory of the scene, they said, "It is good to be here." It was a sight of Moses and Elias that enraptured their soul. That was only a transitory sight. But at death the Christian is admitted into endless glory. It is day without a night. It is to be admitted into the House of the Lord. "The house not made by hands, eternal in the heavens." Through much tribulation they enter into the kingdom. Soon shall close their earthly mission; soon shall end their pilgrim days; hope shall change to glad fruition. God is continually guiding our feet to those mansions above, where flowers that never fade do deck the heavenly plains. Where our loved ones gone before shall meet us and greet us on the golden strand. Many are the voices so sweet and tender, and true, who are calling us away to join the holy ones, that no man can number, who stand around the throne clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. The angels beckon us away to join their ranks. Truly blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.
In the Treasury Hymnal there is a Pilgrim Song by Dr. Horatius Bonar, and the music is from Beethoven; it is very sweet and cheering in this connection:
A few more years shall roll, a few more seasons come, And we shall be with those that rest asleep within the tomb. Then, oh, my Lord, prepare my soul for that great day, Oh, wash me in my Saviour's blood, and take my sins away.
We truly spend our years as a tale that is told. But in heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear. How precious is this thought; though friend after friend depart, "For who has not lost a friend?" What though the storm of bereavement and affliction howl without? Still, amid it all, the unbounded, uncomprehended love of God changeth never.
Though our days are determined, and the number of our months are with God; "though He hath appointed the bounds that He cannot pass, yet He will hide us in the grave; He will keep us secret until His wrath upon the ungodly is past." We read, however, His power to redeem and deliver His elect, even amid the wreck and ruin of years and the gloom of the grave, for Christ is the resurrection and the life.
There is rest, yonder; only just across the river. It is only a narrow stream. "This is not my place of resting; mine's a city yet to come; onward to it I am hastening; on to my eternal home." "I go to prepare a place for you," said Jesus. No threatening danger or death there. It is no desert dreary. It is freedom from pain and weariness, from sin and sadness, in the dominions of the Bridegroom. For He says, "I have betrothed thee unto me forever; I have betrothed thee in righteousness, in the judgment, in loving kindness, and in mercy, and in faithfulness."
"_In the Lord._" How significant the words. It is to have the infinite arms of love and power encircling us. It is not to receive the spirit of bondage again to fear. It is to rise above the uncertainties of this life to the realities of that land where congregations ne'er break up, and Sabbaths have no end. Linked to the eternal, never broken chain of God's goodness, what can affright? Can the consolation of God be small with those who are His, when we are informed that He will ransom His people from the power of the grave? Shortly it will be all over with you in your pilgrimage journey. Watch and wait, therefore, for the coming of the King.
On earth, here and now, those who die in the Lord have attentively listened to His kind remonstrances, concerning reconciliation and entire renunciation of every false hope of heaven only through faith in the name of Jesus. They realize that God's methods of mercy are peculiarly calculated to impart peace in the hour of sickness and death. They see the city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God, where the inhabitants say, "I am sick, I am weary no more." They know that their Redeemer liveth, and though worms may destroy the body, yet in their flesh they shall see God. They know there are realms where
The voices of song never cease 'neath a burden of tears, And the music falls sweet from those radiant spheres.
God's children on earth are remarkable for their love to Christ and His Church, and delight to meditate on the glories of heaven. Hence when death comes they are prepared to enter upon their purchased possessions, for which they habitually awaited with bright anticipations, knowing full well that He that had promised is able also to perform.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but He that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." "For to be carnally minded is death (death eternal), but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
Henry says, "The _Providence_ that removes God's saints has a loved voice which crieth in the city to the survivors. The death of the saints speaketh the evil of sin." It is owing to that they die, for "the body is dead because of sin." It speaks the vanities of life, and of all its delights and enjoyments; for if the favorites of heaven are dying daily, and going out of this world it is a sign that the things of this world are not the best things, else those whom God loves best would not be taken soonest from them. It speaks that all things come alike to all, and that one event happeneth to the righteous and to the wicked, "so that none knows love or hatred by all that is before him in this world." But he that would know it must look before him into the invisible world. Lay your ears this day to the coffins and graves of departed saints, who though they do not pray for us, yet preach to us in the words of Christ, "Be ye also ready." (Matt. xxiv. 44.) They are gone, and we are going; their glass is run out, and ours is running; and therefore it concerns us to daily die unto sin, and be alive to holiness, standing on the watchtower, like the sentinel, with "loins girt," and "lamps burning," knowing that it is not the stroke, but the sting of death from which the imputed righteousness of the Redeemer delivers.
God's saints are like a green olive-tree, in the house of God, because they trust in His manifold mercy. They are like trees planted by the rivers of water, and whose leaf shall never fade. While death can lay his cold and icy hand upon the Christian's body, yet his soul he can never touch. While God destroys the wicked at death, and plucks him out of his dwelling-place, and roots him out of the land of the living, yet to die in the Lord is to sing with the Psalmist, "I will not be afraid," "I will render praises unto thee, for thou hast delivered my soul from death," "and thou shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth."
Heaven is propitious. Streaming love flows from the fountain of Divine compassion. "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Oh, this constant untiring love of our kind heavenly father. "Scarcely," says Paul, "for a righteous man will one die: yet, peradventure, for a good man some would even dare to die; but God commendeth his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." If we would _die in the Lord_, we must get a sight of Calvary. He has died that we might live. We must behold His pierced hands and feet and side. It is this sight that saves.
Not all the blood of goats and bulls, On Jewish altars slain, Can give the guilty conscience peace, Or wash away the stain. But Christ, the heavenly Lamb, Takes _all_ our guilt away.
It is the free gift of grace that, through saving faith, that will hold us until this short life is past, and then when we come to the river of death, like our dear Elder, we will reach our home safely. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound, that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto _eternal life_ by Jesus Christ our Lord."
Are we all who are here to-day to this funeral _in the Lord_--"I in them and thou in me?" Perhaps, some have been living at a distance from Him. Others may have been grieving the Holy Spirit. The Master has come (by this death) and calls for thee. He is standing to-day at the door of thy heart knocking and saying, "If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." No friend so forgiving, so gentle as he. Oh, wilt thou let Him depart? Patiently waiting, earnestly pleading, Jesus thy Saviour knocks at thine heart. Is there some idol that you are cherishing? Is there some secret, darling sin to which you are clinging? Oh, what wilt thou do in the swellings of Jordan without an interest in the atoning work of Jesus? Are you still slighting the Saviour? He waits for thee. How tender the look. He says unto you as he said to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, "How often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not."
Christ alone is our true Shechem, our City of Refuge. He is the living well of Jacob and the rifled tomb of Joseph. Isaiah says, "A man shall be as an hiding-place from the wind and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." What boundless resources are found in Christ. We are guilty, but He atoned for our guilt; He paid the ransom price; He engaged in the great work of paying the penalty due to our sin, for He was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. "We could never have been saved without Divine interference, save from going down to the pit, for I have found a ransom," was the declaration of the stupendous wealth of God's free love. For it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, even the very chief. The mysteries of redeeming love are solved at Golgotha.
Listen to the sweet singer of Israel as he surveys the administration of mercy seen anticipatively at the Cross:
I love the Lord, because my voice And prayer He did hear; I, while I live, will call on Him Who bowed to me His ear.
He was greatly encouraged to serve God in view of the alliance and assistance of Jehovah towards the redemption of Israel. In the fortieth Psalm he illustrates this thought still further:
I waited for the Lord my God, And patiently did bear. He took me from the fearful pit, And from the miry clay, And on a Rock He set my feet, Establishing my way.
The nature of salvation is the same all the world over. The scheme is sovereign. The objects are poor, helpless sinners. The results are ever the same, namely, the forgiveness of sin--justification by faith alone; and then, at last, an abundant entrance is afforded into the beautiful mansions of light, where friendship is changeless and carkering care is unknown, and no more pale faces with mute hearts breaking every day. Yonder we shall be clad in the beauteous wedding garments of the King.
To die in the Lord will be an ample equivalent for all of earth's sorrows and difficulties. In the meantime, we must continually say concerning such providences as the present, "Draw me, we will run after thee. Awake, O north wind and come thou, south, and blow upon my garden that the spices thereof may flow out." This loss will work together for our good if we hear His voice. It calls us to the necessary duty of immediate decision. We must not halt any longer between two opinions. If the Lord be God follow Him, but if Baal be your God follow him no longer. But please remember that the wages of sin is death. You are called to decide for Christ, to decide for heaven, by this sad bereavement. He draws you with the cords of love as with the bands of a man. Will you run after Him?
There is no one can help you in the hour of death and the judgment but Jesus. Choose ye this day whom ye will serve. Yield, oh! yield to His call! Say yes, "My beloved is mine and I am His; He feedeth among the lilies until the daybreak, and the shadows flee away." Oh! turn your eyes upwards:
Where high the heavenly temple stands, The house of God not made with hands, A great High Priest our nature wears, The guardian of mankind appears.
If we would die in the Lord, we must recognize Christ, not only as having died that we might live, but also as having triumphed over the grave, and is now sitting at the right hand of God making continual intercession for us. By day and by night He pleads our cause. Don't try to get to heaven by the intercession of saints or angels. Christ alone is the Great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. Disobedience in this direction will prove disastrous.
Say, "who is this that cometh from Edom with dyed garments, from Bozrah travelling in the greatness of His strength?" I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. This is your Daysman, your Mediator. He hath opened a fountain for sin and uncleanness.
Five bleeding wounds He bears, Received on Calvary, Now pour effectual prayers And strongly speak for thee.
If you would die like our dear Brother Knowles, _in the Lord_, then to-day behold His wounded hands and side. We have all sinned against God and abused His mercy; but, oh, let us to-day consecrate ourselves to Christ, and like the prodigal son say, "I will arise and go to my father." Christ is our great representative before the throne. Oh, that He would ever teach us to offer this prayer:
Lord God of Hosts, my prayer hear; O Jacob's God, give ear! See God, our shield, look on the face Of thine anointed dear.
I tell you, my friends, we do not want any new school theology. The holy religion of our fathers is good enough for me. Here it is a loving father, a crucified and triumphant and pleading saviour for us poor, miserable and helpless sinners, and a Home beyond the flood.
I will arise now and go about the city, in the streets, on the cars, in the workshop, on the ship, on the sea and land where-ever God may guide my wandering footsteps through each perplexing path of life. And I will seek Him whom my soul loveth.
_They rest from their labors and their works do follow them._ The Psalmist says that our strength is labor and sorrow. The more we toil for Christ and His church the more we honor Him and become fruit-bearers. By a constant course of activity and devotedness for the welfare of fallen humanity, the capacities of the soul are greatly enlarged, and we apprehend more fully the fact that God hath put the treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of man. Sometimes, too, our good will be evil spoken of and attributed to selfish motives. We may be traduced by tongues which neither know our faculties nor our person. 'Tis but the rough road that virtue must go through. We must not allow any discouragements or censure to retard our aggressive work, remembering constantly that the Master was accused of having a devil, and that he cast out devils by the power of Beelzebub. Oh, what wrong ideas men have of the great work of saving souls. What prejudices, what indifference, what neglect, what lukewarmness have the true servants of Christ to encounter as they earnestly toil in transplanting souls into the vineyard _of the Lord_.
The life of Christ on earth was a life of generous labor; and when He called His disciples, He said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Kempis, in his "Imitation of Christ," says, "by the words of Christ we are taught to imitate His life and manner, if we would be truly enlightened and be delivered from all blindness of heart." "Learn of me," said Jesus, as well as "Come unto me. I have set the Lord always before me, said David. What a glorious thing it is for the servant of Christ to know that he is earnestly engaged in the work of His Master. It is our labors of love that alone meets with the smile and approbation of God, for He is cognizant of everything we try to accomplish for His cause on earth. Oh, that we may say from the heart, I must work the works of Him that sent me; the night cometh when no man can work."
The trees of the Lord are full of sap, they are fat and flourishing. We are all familiar with the work of blessed beneficence of Howard, the great philanthropist, and Henry Martyn, the self-denying missionary. To be a true Christian, then, requires a life of toil. "For man goeth forth unto the work and to his labor until the evening." How sweet, then, is rest to the laboring man. When the harvest is gathered in. A harvest of souls for Christ. Here am I, Lord, and the children which thou hast given me. Paul said that I may so preach and labor that I may present every one of you perfect before God. This is no mean toil. What prayers. What watching. What toil. What tears. Ah! but at eventide it shall be light. Strange language.
What a beautiful and touching description does Burns give, in his "Cottar's Saturday Night," of the sweet rest and joy that springs into the soul when the weary work is over. He says:
The toil-worn cottar frae his labor goes, This night his weekly moil is at an end, Collects his spades, his mattocks and his hoes, Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend, And weary o'er the moor his course does hameward bend.
The next stanza can be truly applied to our Elder in his Christian experience:
The parent pair their secret homage pay, And proffer up to heaven the warm request, That He who stills the raven's clamorous nest, And decks the lily fair in flowery pride, Would in His way His Wisdom see the best, For them and for their little ones provide, But chiefly in their hearts with _grace Divine_ reside.
I think this is the most descriptive, and true, and touching scene of a Christian man's experience that can be found in any language. Burns knew how to touch the tender chord of a human heart. "An honest man's the noblest work of God." "They rest from their labor and their works do follow them."
Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, says, "Beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak: For God is not unrighteous to forget your work, and the love which He showed unto His name."
Listen, then, to this sweet, silent voice calling us to go and do likewise.
Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? It is to a life of toil, not of indolence, we are called. The fields are white already, unto harvest. Who will bear the sheaves away? Who among our young men in this congregation will take the place of Elder Knowles? Can you be engaged in a grander or nobler work? He that winneth souls is wise. Is there any purer pleasure in this world than the joy that is experienced in the heart when souls are converted to God? Oh, young men, deeply meditate on that precious passage. He that converteth a sinner from the error of his ways, doth save a soul from death, and doth hide a multitude of sins. Are not the opportunities great in this city for doing good? Is not the wickedness great? Are not souls perishing around you for lack of knowledge? Resolve, from this day, that, God helping you, you will dedicate all your powers of heart, soul, and strength to the blessed service of Christ. You are not your own. You have been saved, that you may save others by pulling them out of the fire. Haste then, haste to the rescue. Souls may perish, and go down to hell, while you are deliberating.
I remember, years ago, while coming into New York Harbor, we lost a very promising young man overboard. The life-boat was launched, and the life-buoy was cut adrift. But through some delay, the young man perished. What a tremendous disappointment those parents experienced as they stepped on board the frigate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and learned that their darling boy had found a watery grave.
I never think of the above sad occurrence but I am forcibly reminded that through the delays and sad neglect of Christian parents and Sabbath-school teachers, many young persons perish, and I inquire, Who is responsible for their destruction? Many ask the question that Cain impudently put to the Lord, "Am I my brother's keeper?" We can be guilty of other men's sins. This is a mysterious fact, but it is nevertheless true. If you are an idler in the Master's vineyard, you are, to a certain extent, responsible. Oh, that the Holy Spirit would show us our duty to our fellow-men.
Our departed brother realized this truth. Just look at a man seventy-five years old, occupied every Lord's Day teaching a large class of youth in the Sabbath-school. But you must remember that for six days in the week he nobly toiled as a printer, from eight in the morning until six at night. And he seldom missed the prayer-meeting, or other gatherings of the Church. He was, indeed, a worker that needeth not to be ashamed.
In the absence of the pastor he frequently led the prayer-meeting, and his expositions of the chapter read as the lesson of the night were very scriptural, cheering, and full of encouragement.
He was familiarly acquainted with the Word of God, and his prayers were earnest, solemn, and to the point, because his soul was surcharged with Divine truth.
It is no wonder, then, that everybody loved him--his young men in the various Bible-classes especially. Eternity alone will reveal the amount of good he accomplished by his kind, gentle, meek, cheerful, and quiet spirit.
Servant of Christ, well done; you rest from your labor, and your works do follow you.
Let us look at his work as a ruling Elder of the Church of Christ.
Paul, in writing to Timothy, says: "Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine" (1 Timothy v. 17). An elder is one who rules the house of God. They are, therefore, the magistrates of the Church. They are to administer the laws of His holy sanctuary. How great and important this work. Who is sufficient for these things? The pastor, in apostolic times, was called an elder. But as an under-shepherd his labors are greatly assisted and augmented by the hearty co-operation of a judicious selection of men filled with the spirit of God, and duly ordained for their work. Men who recognize among their fellows no moral superiority, but that spiritually-mindedness that flows from prayer and the study of God's Word. Their work is immortal. Their duties are great. But their peculiar privileges are greater--to rule well the House of God.
It is, certainly, a sad sight to see men filling this sacred office without the requisite qualifications. The negotiations between man and man are so stupendous, that it is not every member of the Church who is fitted for this responsible work. We ought to study adaptation in the selection and ordination of ruling them.
Every time I looked in the face of Elder Knowles, I was deeply impressed with the thought that no blunder had been committed when he was chosen and set apart in this line of Apostolic toil. For he was a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
He knew full well how to rule his own spirit, and he that can do that is more mighty than he who taketh a city. Self must be slain by the sword of the spirit, if we would lead the army of the Lord on to victory. Hence the solemn injunction of Paul: "I charge thee before God, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.... Lay hands suddenly on no man" (1 Timothy, v. 21-22).
We commend, for attentive perusal and prayerful reflection, the qualification of an elder, as laid down by Paul, and elaborated by the holy McCheyne, strictly germane to the life of Elder James Knowles.
They are fundamental requisites. The good McCheyne, of St. Peter's, Dundee, says: "I feel, brethren, that a minister alone is incapable of ruling the House of God well. If a minister is to thrive in his own soul, _he must be half of his time on his knees_; and therefore, if Christ's house is to be ruled well, there must not only be pastors, but there must be ruling elders."
"The first qualification is grace. Grace in the heart. If it be a qualification in a church member that he should have grace, then much more ought it to be a qualification in one who rules the Church of God. How is it possible for him to admit any to the Lord's table, when he is but a judge himself?" How is it possible to excommunicate, when he ought to be excommunicated himself? So, brethren, a graceless elder is a curse instead of a blessing.
We can safely say our dear departed elder had grace. This was remarkably developed in his Christian character. Patience found a permanent home in his heart. It occupied a significantly prominent place there, and was strenuously cultivated. It was copied and commented upon by all who knew him, and uniformly evoked universal favor and approval by the various ministers and sessions of the different Presbyterian churches in this city, in which he was an elder.
He had many trials, and we think he could say with Paul, in his letter to the Church at Rome: "We glory in tribulation, also knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience."
It seems they had some little misunderstanding in the session of one of the churches to which he (our elder) formerly belonged. And some remark made by the elder to the pastor was so cutting, that the minister said unless the elder would take back what he said, that next Sabbath he would tender his resignation to the congregation.
The elder replied that he would not take it back for him. To preserve harmony, and be a peacemaker, Elder Knowles stepped up to his brother in the session, and asked him if he would not take it back for his sake, and the sake of the blessed Jesus. At this, the elder said, with tears in his eyes, "Yes, James, for your sake, I will take it back." Perhaps the minister was partly to blame, and also the elder, but by having the grace of patience, not only was a reconciliation brought about, the pastor was retained, and permitted to resume his work, and precious souls were added to the Church. Oh, how much trouble and scandal might be averted in some of the churches if our elders and deacons and church members would only strive to cultivate the grace of patience.
We have great need of this grace in our hearts, as we work for the Master. May the Holy Spirit work it in us, for, as Paul says: "Ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise" (Heb. x. 36).
The life of a ruling elder in the Church, and in the world, is like the erection of a beautiful building. Great patience is requisite, in order to bring it to a successful completion. So, as a wise master buildeth for eternity, we most build the structure of Christian character upon the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ, Himself, being the chief corner-stone. What a model of patience is Jesus. What difficulties He encountered. What trials clustered around Him. What provocations he meekly endured. All through His life, and even amid His unutterable agonies on the Cross on Mount Calvary, when His body was shedding the last drop of blood to seal the mysterious work of redemption, even then, amid mockings and scoffings, and tortures, the sacred lips of the Crucified Christ uttered this prayer for his enemies, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke xxiii. 34).
The dear Master considered this prayer essential before He could conscientiously exclaim, "Consummatum est"--It is consummated, or finished. Our dear elder was like his Lord in this respect. He could say, with Newton,
"Christ's way was much rougher and darker than mine, Did Christ, my Lord, suffer, and shall I repine?"
Again, another qualification in a ruling elder is wisdom. "Be ye wise as serpents," said Jesus, "and harmless as doves." Are all these professing Christians wise? Are all elders wise? Are all ministers wise? Dr. Bonar says:
Be wise and use thy wisdom well. _Be what thou seemest._ Live thy creed; Be what thou prayest to be made. Lift o'er the earth the torch Divine, Let the great Master's steps be thine.
Blessed words these. Who can read them without thanking God for such words and such men, that our kind Father above raises up to instruct us in these things that pertain to our everlasting well-being? For all well-being is the result of _well-doing_ in time and in eternity.
Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you, let him show, out of a good conversation, his works with meekness of wisdom. This meekness of wisdom Elder Knowles preeminently possessed. The psalmist says, concerning such: "The meek shall inherit the land. And shall delight themselves in abundance of peace. Strike, said Diogenes, to his instructor, Antichenes, the philosopher; but you will find no staff so hard that it will drive me away from your school. I love you, and I have made up my mind to suffer anything for the sake of learning." This yearning desire on the part of the true elder after fitness for his office, ought to be willing to bear reproach for the sake of Him who died, that we might live. There is great wisdom displayed in bearing the Cross meekly for Jesus. If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him.
It is a blessed thing to suffer in love for Christ. To bear injustice and conquer. Herein is consummate wisdom displayed. "If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" (James iii. 14-17).
But the wisdom of the elder now lying before us in the coffin was displayed not only in his meekness, but in his _gentleness_ of disposition.
His wife used to say, "Why, he is just like a child. So gentle and peaceable. So easily intreated." I remember quoting that hymn at the prayer meeting:
I want to be like Jesus, Meek, lowly, loving, mild; I want to be like Jesus-- The Father's holy child.
And at the close of the meeting he shook me warmly by the hand, and the sentiment in the stanza seemed to give him unspeakable pleasure.
Once more, another qualification for the eldership that our deceased brother possessed, was, _that he had a good report from without_. (See 1 Timothy, iii. 7.) Our dearly beloved was not only highly esteemed for his work's sake by the members of the churches and the various pastors, as their letters in this volume testify, but his walk and conversation was such in the outside world, that his fellow-workmen, and those who lived in the same house with him, and had opportunity to know him, learned to revere and love him. You know the eyes of the world are constantly watching the Christian. I notice on the casket to-day a lovely bouquet of flowers, and I read on the card: "Presented to James Knowles, by the printers where he was for years employed."
This is, certainly, a token of esteem to the memory of him with whom they were long so affectionately associated.
In every professional life there are daily occurrences that try men's tempers. But by the grace of God, our brother was enabled to adorn the doctrine of God, our Saviour, and to live unspotted from the world. As all elders have to mingle more with the world than a minister, how essential it is that the outside world should see that their walk and conversation be as becometh the Gospel of Christ.
Again: another qualification of an elder, is, that "he should be a _prayerful man_." Our brother had all through life cultivated a spirit of prayer. This "is the Christian's vital breath." It was his habit to shut himself up in his room, and pour out his soul in earnest supplication to God. He prayed in his family, as well as in the church. He had secret prayer. "And thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet?" said Jesus. Oh, the power of prayer is marvellous. He prayed audibly. And his wife used to say of him: "He pleads with God as one _pleading for his life_."
When he became so weak that he was unable longer to testify for Christ on his death-bed, his loved ones bending over him, and putting their ears down to his lips to catch his last articulations, they heard him praying, not for himself, but for Allen Street Presbyterian Church and its minister.
Lastly, an elder ought to cultivate the habit of _systematic beneficence_ for the support of the Gospel. This, our brother was constantly in the habit of doing. He remembered the injunction, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." It is worthy of observation that, during the three years during which his son was out in the late war, he paid monthly the pew rent for his boy during his absence, until at last his pastor would not allow him to do it longer.
Oh, that all of our office-bearers and church members would feel it their duty to give largely and in a worshipful spirit to the cause of their Redeemer, as the Lord has prospered them.
Blessed are such dead who die in the Lord; they rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.
Man cannot cover what God can _reveal_. Says the poet Campbell:
'Tis the sunset of life gives me mystical lore, And coming events cast their shadows before.
Their works do follow them. Where? On to the judgment. Where selfish ambition and avarice will be exposed in its true light. Where "man's inhumanity to man" will be thoroughly scrutinized. For the books will be opened, and we will be judged according to our works.
In that great and awful day when the great white throne is erected, and when the heavens shall be removed as a scroll, when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island shall be removed out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and the chief captains, and the rich, and the strong, shall hide themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains; and they shall say to the mountains and the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him who sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of His wrath is come: and who is able to stand?
Oh, let us remember that now broken hearts can be healed by the power of the Gospel of Christ. Their works do follow them. Yonder? Yes! Here? Yes! The salutary influence for good by the consistent life of our elder can never be lost or forgotten.
We lay our brother's body to-day in Cypress Hills Cemetery, but his spirit hovers o'er us.
This tenement of dust is empty, but Jesus says: "I am the resurrection and the life."
We have deep feelings to-day, for we realize that we have lost a friend. No more. "God bless you, my brother, in your work." No more shall we see you at the prayer-meeting. Farewell, dear elder and co-worker. We say farewell but not forever. "We shall meet beyond the river."
And God grant
That we may stand before the throne, When earth and seas are fled; And hear the Judge pronounce our name, With blessings on our head.
God's voice, by this solemn dispensation of His providence, speaks loudly to us all. May our faith in God be greatly strengthened. May our love for perishing souls be made more deeper and _stronger_. May God help us to go out into the streets and lanes of this wicked city, and constrain them to come in, that His house may be full.
And God grant that this deep affliction which this church has sustained may be the means, in the hands of the Spirit, of constraining us to have more earnest and believing prayer, for the manifestation of His power to save unto the uttermost. That Jesus may see, of the travail of His soul, and be abundantly satisfied.
To the bereaved son and daughters, and grandchildren, who are left behind, let me affectionately commend you to the unchanging love of Him who sympathized with the sorrowing sisters of Bethany. Put all your trust in His dear name. Serve Him from day to day, by reading His blessed Bible, and holding sweet communion with Him, by prayer and supplication, that at last when God shall call for you to leave this stage of action, you may go to meet your dear ones in the happy home above, and sit with them at the "marriage supper of the Lamb."--AMEN.
A BRIEF HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE ALLEN STREET PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
How lovely is thy dwelling-place, O Lord of hosts to me, The tabernacles of thy grace, How pleasant, Lord, they be.
"Glorious things of thee are spoken, O city of God." This saying can be emphatically applied to the above church, for the living truths proclaimed from her pulpit have saved and sanctified many sons and daughters, and clad in the beauteous garments of Prince Immanuel, have gone forth to other churches and to other lands, to lead thousands to the same Saviour that they had found.
Let us glance at its origin.
While Christ is the head of the Church, the tried corner-stone elect and precious, yet his members are the living stones, and have built up a spiritual house unto the Lord. The portion of "Zion" to which we have reference, originated on the corner of Catharine Street, near Madison Street. It was duly organized on Wednesday, May 28, 1819.
The seal of the church is an open Bible, and the words _Holy Bible_ upon it, with the inscription surrounding it: "_Allen Street Presbyterian Church_."
The location of the place of worship was changed to Allen Street in 1823.
The Rev. Ward Stafford was appointed by the New York Female Missionary Society, who nobly toiled, and was succeeded by the Rev. William Gray. During the first year of its history, twenty-one members were added to the church-roll, and as an expression of her unfeigned gratitude to God for this mark of kindness she became the mother of the same number of ministers of the Gospel, who were called and commissioned, and who have courageously proclaimed the unsearchable riches of Christ, in distant parts of the country. Among them was the present pastor of the Church of Sea and Land, Rev. Dr. Hopper. It is worthy of observation that this church has been able to pay its running expenses by voluntary contributions.
In a historical discourse delivered by Rev. George O. Phelps, he says:
"It is a source of untold satisfaction in this day of presumptuous spires or burdensome church debts, that the Allen Street Presbyterian Church has no such encumbrance--not one dollar of mortgage rests upon it; that at the close of each fiscal year, by means of the voluntary system, and the kindly aid of friends interested in the prosperity of the church, and the maintenance of the preached word in this part of the city, all obligations are fully discharged.
"For this, we most heartily thank our God to-day, whose favor is thus constant.
"True as it is, that this church can be regarded at no period as among the affluent--as there are those to-day who expend more for church music than our entire congregational expenses, so there have ever been those who could drop into the treasury of a single board, in a single year, more than all our contributions to benevolent objects during fifty years, we hope it may be equally true that we have been most definitely, spiritually pronounced.
"Whatever may be said of her ecclesiastical loyalty, the evidences are numerous of fervent loyalty to Christ, in doctrine, in the word preached, in influence exerted, in means used for the extension of His kingdom, and of consequent fidelity to man touching questions of social and of national importance.
"A not unimportant element of influence and success, next to a becoming spirituality, is the _social-religious_ element. This is proverbial of the Allen Street Church."
Not to refer to the regular weekly prayer-meeting in this connection would do great violence to a complete record as well as harm to many a saint in Israel. For years this meeting has been a great power in Christian life and work. Hundreds maybe said to date their first serious impression, and very many their conversion, to the scenes of that hour and place; and how perennial its influence, and refreshing upon the host of God's people.
Among the most prominent pastors of this church, we may mention the Rev. Henry White, D.D., regularly installed March, 1829. He resigned March 9, 1837, and became the first Professor of Systematic Theology in the Union Theological Seminary, New York City. He died August 25, 1850, aged fifty years. A man of decided character.
Rev. George B. Cheever, D.D., was installed October 10, 1839, and was dismissed April 24, 1844. He afterward became the pastor of the Church of the Puritans on Union Square. He now resides at Englewood, N.J., a man of vast resources, both personal and acquired, eloquent and effective in address, in views extremely radical.
Rev. David Benton Coe, D.D., was installed October 14, 1844. He was dismissed May 13, 1849. He became one of the secretaries of the American Home Missionary Society. He was of a retiring habit, scholarly attainment, instructive as a preacher, and devoted and sympathizing as a pastor.
Rev. Dr. Newell was installed February 8, 1860. His pastorate ceased February 2, 1874, being the longest pastorate of the church, embracing one quarter of its history.
In this brother the pastor and the evangelist were happily united. Of deep sympathies, ardent in faith, Christ crucified became the one theme of his ministry. He was second to none in religious zeal, and untiring in effort.
Each succeeding ministry has not been wanting in the evidences of the Spirit, in which the being of the church seems to have been cast.
The pastorate of Mr. Lucas, for example, deserves more than a passing notice. It was marked by two interesting works of grace: one soon after his coming to the field (1855), and that of 1858. During these seasons not a few of the best friends of Allen Street were brought to Christ.
Not all were equally favored, however, with beholding what men too often regard exclusively as signs of success. In illustration of this, it is enough to suggest that the loss experienced yearly during a large period of her history has by no means been supplied through additions by letter. This source of gain alone would not have spared her the extinction which early threatened the church through removals. On the contrary, as previously observed, the balance has been favorable through all these years of depletion--a monument to the grace of God in no general sense.
Perhaps it may not be disparaging to say that _the_ revival period of the church is embraced in the pastorate of Dr. Newell, the fourteen years of which were distinguished for their revival spirit. I think it may be truthfully said, that he would have deemed his own ministry a miserable failure in the absence of revival seasons.
With two exceptions each year of his ministry was marked with ingathering. A large proportion of those now worshipping here were brought to the Saviour within these years; while many others are known to be justifying the spirit of their birthplace in other communions.
The most powerful work of grace, in many respects, occurred in the winter of 1866-67.
On March 24, 1867, one hundred and fifty-four subjects of that work publicly professed faith in Christ; upward of two hundred joined the church during the year.
The following notice is taken from the New York _Evangelist_ soon after, the editor of which was present:
"A goodly sight, indeed, and worthy the words of hearty welcome uttered by the pastor. As he led the congregation in the song, 'There are angels hovering round,' the house seemed to be full of heavenly influence. There were a large number of baptisms. There was visible emotion as the symbol of purity was lifted to the brow of a lady in deep mourning. Her husband (Mr. George Betts) had been an elder of the church twenty-eight years. It was his constant cry to God that he might not die until his wife became a Christian. Two weeks before he had heard her examined and received by the session. On his way from church he was struck with paralysis, and died."
He adds: "I have never seen a better appearing multitude stand in any church. The sexes were about equally divided."
"These seasons," said the pastor, in his farewell discourse, "have not been the result of accident. They were thoroughly planned and provided for, and sought of the Lord. We have found that appropriate means was wisdom, that persistent concentration was power; that enthusiasm for souls was force; and that belief in God was success."
A complete history of that one revival would occupy a volume. It was deep, wide-spread, and confined to no particular class. The official capacity of the church recently has been largely exercised by men converted at that time. Men holding trusts in the Society to-day were without hope previous to that work.
It is gratifying to record the continuance of the gracious favor, that this last year of the century, the fifty-seventh of our existence, should be crowned with still another work of grace--gradual in inception, first indicated by increasing interest in the ministration of the Word, in the absence of special means, only finding in the Week of Prayer an occasion for decided development--continuing with deepening and widening interest, until attention was necessarily divided between this and a more general work in connection with the coming of Messrs. Moody and Sankey to our city. As visible proof of this quiet work, fifty-seven have been added to the church--forty-six making profession of their faith on March 12th, of all ages--youth from the Sabbath-schools, adults, and several heads of families.
A church of such continuous revival record ought, indeed, to raise her Ebenezer to-day. While as patriots we fling out our Centennial Banners, let us, as subjects of the Lord Jesus Christ, set up a memorial to the praise of His boundless, matchless grace.
During the ministry of the Rev. George O. Phelps, the blessing of the Lord attended his untiring and loving labors.
We cannot omit mentioning here the kindness of the Rev. Dr. Nathaniel Conkling, who cheerfully supplied the pulpit for eighteen months without any remuneration; and during this time the pastor's study was neatly furnished, and the church property renovated. Also a number of young persons were led to Christ and united with the church; some of these young men are to-day actively engaged in the Lord's work in the lower part of the city, at the Church, and in connection with the "Young Men's Institute," on the Bowery.
It only remains for me to speak of the _Sabbath-schools connected with this church_.
Imperfect, indeed, would be this narrative, without a record of this department of Christian work.
Mr. Samuel Kennedy was its first superintendent, which office he held for twenty-three years. He was a man of great kindness of heart, strict in discipline, and devoted to the interest of youth.
The present superintendent is Martin Ralph.
The following named gentlemen have held the office of Superintendent in regular succession: John D. Camp, Benjamin N. Goldsmith, Daniel O. Caulkins, Amos P. Hawley, Lewis S. Benedict, Mahlon T. Hewitt, William C. Bradley, H. C. Southworth, Joseph W. Lester, Edward P. Tibballs, H. G. Fraser, and G. A. Koos.
There is also related to this church a Mission-school, superintended by one of its elders--Mr. J. H. Owens--known as the "_Ludlow Street Mission Sabbath School_," at present occupying the public school building on Ludlow Street, between Rivington and Delancey.
The superintendents are tireless in exertion, and fully devoted to its interest, encouraged by a zealous band of officers and teachers, the influence of whose work upon the children and the families they represent in that locality, eternity alone can tell.
Next to Elder Knowles, as the ruling elder, we might mention the name of Joseph W. Lester, of whom it may be said that he endeared himself, by an unusual force of character, to a large acquaintance, best known in connection with the Allen Street Church, but a pillar of strength to every good work throughout the city; of strict integrity, a judicious adviser, largely benevolent, prompt to act, of wonderful energy, reliable everywhere, zealous to win souls, esteemed for his business qualities, and a true patriot.
But amid all the changes to which both the church and school have ever been subject, there remains one, who, as a dutiful son, and an apt scholar, took his place forty-seven years ago; so now his fidelity and constancy are no marvel, since, with the Psalmist, he is a "door-keeper in the House of the Lord," and like John the Baptist, "An _unshaken_ Reed."
* * * * * *
COMMENTS OF THE PRESS ON THE REMOVAL OF THE CHURCH.
The _New York Times_, of Monday, May 9, 1887, gives a brief account of the origin of the church:
The Allen Street Presbyterian Church had its beginning in Madison Street, then Bancker, in 1816. A missionary society in 1817 built a wooden structure at a cost of a little over two thousand dollars, near the corner of Catharine Street. The society was incorporated as the "Mission Church in the City of New York," and that title has never been changed, except by common usage. In 1823 an edifice was erected at a cost of about three thousand dollars. For years the church did not prosper, and was on the point of selling its property, when the Rev. Absalom Peters offered to act as Pastor for a time without salary. He pulled the society through its troubles. The present building was erected in 1833 at a cost of twenty thousand dollars. Since then the church has been humbly prosperous. For the present, until a site is secured, the congregation will worship in the Church of the Sea and Land, in Market Street.
On the same date, under the heading of "After Fifty-four Years," and "The Last Services in the Old Allen Street Church," the same paper says:
Another of New York's old churches will soon be torn down. Yesterday the last services were held in the Allen Street Presbyterian Church, near Grand Street. For many years the church has been a sort of half-way house between up and down town, and its congregation has been an ever-changing one. It has never been a large nor a rich church, although it has had among its members many who are to-day wealthy, and its total membership, since its organization, is much greater than that of many a larger church.
The last services were made interesting, not only by the presence of nearly all the present members, but of members of twenty and twenty-five years ago, who came from churches further up town and from Brooklyn. In the afternoon there was a union service of the church, Sunday-school, and the Ludlow Street Mission. Later the young people held a prayer-meeting, and in the evening reunion services were held. The pastor, the Rev. D. McNeill Young, read letters from many former members who had left New York, all regretting the necessity for demolishing the old building. The reading of the letters was interrupted by the puffing and rattle of the elevated trains directly in front of the door--one of the principal causes of a change of location--that made more prominent the fact that, though sentiment might desire to save the church, it could never again be a pleasant place of worship. After the letters were read familiar hymns were sung, and, without any formality, the older members and their former associates gave reminiscences of the early days of their church.
As a proof of its spiritual power not less than _fourteen hundred and forty-three_ persons have been connected with it in the service of the Master, the number of active members at the time of changing location being _five hundred and sixty three_, showing that though old in years it still retains its usefulness.
The _New York Evangelist_ of April 21, 1887, under the heading of "Another Land-mark to be Obliterated," says:
The old Allen Street Presbyterian Church building, where God's people have continued to battle against sin and Satan for some sixty-four years, has at last yielded to the pressure of the advancing tide of business on Grand Street, and been sold. The present expectation of the Church is to remain in the neighborhood, and it is hoped that a more desirable location may be obtained, and a building, suited to the times and the needs of the people, erected thereon. Farewell services will begin on Friday evening, May 6th, with the preparatory lecture, to be followed by an earnest season of prayer for the divine blessing on the exodus. On Sabbath, May 8th, the farewell communion service will be held at 11 A.M. A union meeting of the Home and Ludlow Street Sabbath-schools will be held in the main audience room of the church building at 2 P.M. The exercises of the Young People's Prayer and Conference Meeting will take place at seven o'clock, followed by the closing farewell service in the Church at 7.45 P.M. Then the last good-by will be said in the dear old home which has been the spiritual birth-place of many, many precious souls. It is earnestly hoped that these services will bring together many who can tell of former refreshing times from the presence of the Lord, and of hallowed associations within the sacred walls of the old Allen Street Church. It is expected that some of the former pastors will be present to add interest to the occasion. It is well understood that this well-known church property has been purchased by Messrs. Ridley & Co. for $75,000. They thus secure large additional space for their enormous mercantile business. It should, perhaps, be known that the building of the Elevated road, just in front, has greatly injured "Old Allen Street," as it was popularly called, for all church purposes. The noise of the passing trains was very annoying, especially in warm weather, when windows and doors were open. The sum realized will, it is hoped, enable the congregation to build elsewhere in the neighborhood.
The New York Daily _Tribune_, of the same date, thus comments on the old church:
LEAVING THEIR OLD CHURCH HOME.
Yesterday the Allen Street Presbyterian Church held their last service in their present home. The building has been sold to Messrs. Ridley & Sons for mercantile purposes. The church moves temporarily to Market Street, where they will worship with the Church of the Sea and Land. There were the regular morning services, followed by communion. The church was tastefully decorated with flowers, the gift of the Bethany Society of the Church, in commemoration of their last services. On May 28, 1819, the church was organized, although the building had been dedicated on October 25, 1817. This building was in Madison Street, and when it became too small they moved to their present place in 1834.
In the afternoon the home Sunday-school and the Mission school in Ludlow Street held a reunion in the home church. The programme in the afternoon and evening consisted of short addresses and music. It was a reunion of old members and new, of old pastors and people, of old officers and those whom they were accustomed to oversee. The Rev. N. D. Conkling, assisted the pastor, the Rev. D. M. Young in the services, preaching the morning sermon. There were twelve persons received into the church on profession of faith.
RESOLUTIONS OF THE ALLEN STREET CHURCH.
NEW YORK, March 2, 1887.
_Whereas_, It has pleased Almighty God, our kind and compassionate heavenly Father, in the solemn dispensations of His providence to remove from our midst by death, our dear and highly esteemed friend and brother, Elder James Knowles, and his wife, Matilda Knowles, of the Allen Street Presbyterian Church; and
_Whereas_, It becomes us not only as brethren in Christ, but as a Session of said church, to express our hearty appreciation of their work in and worth to the cause of Christianity, which they so dearly loved; and while we bow in humble submission to the Divine will, nevertheless we strongly realize that, as co-workers together with them in the Master's vineyard, we have sustained a severe and irreparable loss by this sad bereavement;
Therefore be it _Resolved_, That as a Session now assembled, we do hereby tender our heartfelt sympathy and sorrow to the bereaved family in their great grief; and we do earnestly and sincerely commend them to God and the Word of His grace, that is able to keep them from falling, and to give them an abundant entrance into His everlasting kingdom; and be it further
_Resolved_, That the Clerk of Session be requested to enter these resolutions on the records of the church, and that a copy be immediately forwarded to the family of the deceased.
DUNCAN M. YOUNG, _Pastor._
J. H. ALLEN, M.D., J. M. MORRISON, J. R. BATTY, MARTIN BRAITMAYER, _Elders._
JEROME H. OWENS, _Clerk of Session._
[Illustration: MATILDA KNOWLES]
BEING THE RECORD OF A CONSECRATED MISSIONARY WOMAN'S WORK FOR OVER A QUARTER OF A CENTURY IN THE TENTH WARD OF NEW YORK CITY.
"She hath done what she could."
BRIEF MEMOIR OF MATILDA KNOWLES.
They walk with God whom none can shame From trusting in His holy name; Who looking for a glorious morn, Shrink not before the lip of scorn.
The subject of this memoir was born in Tichon, near Ballymena, County Antrim, in the north of Ireland, March 22, 1811. Her ancestors fled from Scotland during the dark days of persecution, "when the minister's home was the mountain and flood." Little can be gleaned of her early history. Her mother died when she was six years old, leaving a sister older than herself, and a brother, a baby eight months old. Her father died shortly after her mother. When she was only eight years old, she went to the corner of the house, and asked the Lord to be a father and a mother to her. She was ultimately taken to her uncle's, at which place she resided until she came to America.
During her stay with him, she became acquainted with a young girl, who told her of the love of Jesus, and shortly before her death, she would frequently say how good God was to her, in bringing her in contact with her friend, who early told her of the life of the Saviour, and His never-dying love. At the same place, being filled with those desires, and having those Christian principles instilled into her heart, and not having conveniences to study and pray in the house, she would repair to the barn, to attend to her devotional duties, experiencing the truthfulness of God's Word, "They that seek me early shall find me." At this time she committed to memory the Psalms, and the Book of Proverbs, and several passages of the New Testament.
It seems that certain influences were brought to bear upon her, for the purpose of getting her settled in life, contrary to her own wishes; but the party so chosen was without Christian character, and although every inducement was offered, so far as wealth was concerned, she remembered the injunction of the Scriptures, "Be ye not unequally yoked to unbelievers," and like Moses, who refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, but chose rather to suffer affliction, penury, and loss with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, she declined to enter into the proposed matrimonial connection. And then she decided to emigrate to the United States, friendless and alone.
In 1833--the time of the great cholera epidemic in this country--she was left by herself, in a house where all its occupants had fled through fear. Trusting in the God of Israel for protection, she experienced the full force of those sublime words of King David: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noon-day." On arriving in New York, she immediately connected herself in church fellowship with the Canal Street Presbyterian Church, under the ministry of the Rev. Dr. McCarthy, and became a Sabbath-school teacher. Some of the first impressions made on her mind by her pastor were continually repeated, even up to the hour of her death.
In one address, delivered to young people, he begged them not to allow Satan to get even his little finger in, for he generally commenced with little sins, and by and by he would get his two fingers in, and then his whole hand, and twist you around as he chose, instead of allowing you to obey the commands of God.
Shortly after she landed in this country she was invited by an acquaintance to go to Brooklyn, to church. She consented, and attended the service; but, on her return, while stepping off the ferry-boat, she slipped, and fell into the river, and narrowly escaped drowning. She resolved, by God's grace, that she would never put her foot on a ferry-boat on the Sabbath again, while she lived, which vow she kept to the close of her life.
It was her usual custom on the street, if she heard any person using profane language, to reprove them, by saying, "Don't dare take the name of my Saviour in vain."
In the year 1839 she was married to Elder James Knowles, by the Rev. Dr. McLeod, of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church, Prince's Street. At this time she joined the above church, that she might be in full fellowship at the same communion-table with her husband.
In her earnest endeavors to faithfully serve her Lord and Master, she was sorely tried by a woman who lived in the same house with her. And herein do we see the goodness of God, in imparting grace to her to strenuously resist temptation. This woman did all in her power to lead her astray by offering her strong drink. She would visit her frequently after her husband had gone to his business, and bring the bottle and glass. She determined to change her place of residence, and before her husband returned home, she had engaged new apartments, and had her furniture all removed. Even after her removal, the woman followed her up, and became a tenant in the same house, and the same temptations were renewed. She once more got up and moved out of the house, never once yielding to the woman's persistent temptation.
In the summer of 1848 she met with a narrow escape in a burning building. In trying to extinguish the flames, she was badly burned from the points of her fingers up to her shoulders. In this house she succeeded in getting some people to attend church; and at this time, seeing some women ordained to go to India, she earnestly desired to be in their place.
In 1860, when in her fiftieth year, she removed to the Tenth Ward, the scene of her future labors. When her son William went to the war, she was recommended by Mrs. Warren to Rev. Mr. Finney, who engaged her as a Bible Reader and Visitor in the district.
In the spring of 1862, during the great fratricidal war, she started a sewing-school in Rivington Street, which eventually merged into the Harper and Fiske Industrial School in Ludlow Street, which met every Saturday. Gathering together from seventy-five to one hundred children, she taught them to sew, and endeavored to lead them to Him who said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
THE VALUE OF PRAYER.
Oh, teach me, Lord, that I may teach The precious things Thou dost impart; And wing my words, that they may reach The hidden depths of many a heart.
Mrs. Knowles's life, throughout, was characterized by great sincerity and steadfastness of purpose. As an evidence of it, I will give a sketch of her experience and work from her own pen, illustrating how the closing hours of her life were chiefly devoted to "Gathering Jewels" for Christ, as the secret of a truly beautiful life.
"In my field of labor I have met with much success and encouragement, though, indeed, there are more cases very trying and painful to witness, but _all difficulties can be encountered, and many overcome, by prayer. I feel more and more the blessedness of the privilege I enjoy in being permitted to labor for Christ in the salvation of so many poor souls_, and in being the means of aiding so many who are sick, cast down, and discouraged. How many there are who neglect the house of prayer from the contagion of bad example around them, and the want of a kind word of invitation, until the habit becomes fixed, and it needs urging to remind them of their duty? _I often think of the words of Christ_: '_Compel them to come in_.' Yes, compulsion of the right kind is very needful, and a word of interest and encouragement such a help. One poor woman whom I visited a short time since, told me her lot was the hardest in the world--that she had seven children all out of Christ. I told her not to be disheartened; that if she could say God was her God, she could say he was the God of her seed, and that Jesus had said: 'Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, believing, ye shall receive.' She said: 'I have hoped so long, but now I am discouraged.' I told her the mother of St. Augustine said she had prayed for fourteen long years for her son, and her friend said to her: 'I tell you the subject of so many long and earnest prayers cannot be lost.' And that son, of whom she was then in search, and whom she met a short time afterward, was then under deep conviction, and soon afterward brought to Christ, and became an earnest and devoted minister; 'and you, my friend, need not be discouraged, for the same Spirit can work as powerfully on the hearts of your children as on his.' I prayed with her, and left her begging me to pray for her; calling on her a few days since, she met me with a cheerful countenance, and told me what I had said, together with reading the promise of an answer to prayer, had greatly encouraged her, and that her eldest son, who was the most unruly of all, had accompanied her to church on the last Sabbath, and she believed now the rest would be led to follow his example. I told her to doubt no longer, and with a word of cheer left her."
Here I will make a few comments on the above.
_All difficulties can be encountered, and many overcome by prayer._--How true and weighty is this remark. Remembrance of this would guard and govern aright the actions of Christians, and deliver them from all unprofitable and injudicious murmurings. It suggests the only true antidote for the ills of life. A pleasant path to tranquillity of mind is prayer. Whether amid the crowded city or in the quiet hamlet, on land or on sea, at home or abroad, no matter where we are, God's ear is always open to the cry of His children. Prayer is the divinely appointed means to the attainment of peace. It lifts the soul above the cares and vicissitudes of life. Its effect is nearness to God. Earth's sighs are numerous. The tears flow thick and fast. Tears of affright. The enemy comes in like a flood, but the Lord lifts up a standard against them all; and the blest remembrance of the promise, "Cast thy burden by prayer on the Lord, and He will sustain thee," imparts fresh courage amid the conflict. The man who forgets to pray in the hour of trial is like one who has lost his way on a dark, stormy night; he is, indeed, a benighted traveller on a lonesome, dreary road. But let us thank God that--
From every stormy wind that blows, From every swelling tide of woes, There is a calm, a sure retreat; 'Tis found beneath the Mercy Seat.
_I feel more and more the blessedness of the privilege I enjoy, in being permitted to labor for Christ in the salvation of so many poor souls._--When we labor with an eye to the glory of God, and the exaltation of the name of Jesus in the salvation of lost sinners, it always imparts perpetual pleasure. It was for the joy that was set before Jesus that He endured the Cross. Pure pleasure springs from the motive of doing good. This was the standard from which Christ labored. His compensation consisted in clarifying the natural and spiritual vision of those who sat in darkness and the shadow of death. This is the true explanation of His mysterious patience with those who frequently repelled His teachings and doings, when they were attributed to the power of the Prince of the Air. But the incarnate Son of God fainted not in His work, until He exclaimed, "It is finished." It is even so with all faithful missionaries. They feel it to be an unspeakable privilege to be co-workers with Christ; recognizing the fact that it is not their work but God's, and while they acknowledge their utter inability to save a single soul, yet, doubtless, their joy and satisfaction in all their work springs from the sacred consciousness that there is not only rejoicings and gladness of heart experienced on earth, but "joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."
_I often think of the words of Christ, Compel them to come in._--The scene is changed. From prayer in the closet, to kindly compulsion in the lanes and streets of the city. Here the reader will find the true secret of her beautiful life; namely, frequent reflection on the words of Christ, relative to Christian work in the world. "Go ye out into the highways and lanes," etc. This is the only method by which we can have communication with the souls of men and women who are perishing for lack of knowledge. The question has often been asked by the philanthropic men of the present day, How can we reach the masses? How can we save the non-churchgoers? It is calculated that with a population of almost a hundred thousand souls in the Tenth Ward alone, of New York, only about one-fourth attend any place of worship. These facts and figures are startling, but they are, nevertheless, true. These precious souls, for whom Christ died, must be made the object of our affection. Our knowledge of the spiritual destitution of the down-town masses is strictly based upon our experience and observation. And hence we say that a house to house visitation, systematically arranged, constitutes one of the essential characteristics of Christ-like work. He labored not only in the temple and the synagogue, but in the market-place, and on the streets. His pulpit was the stern-sheets of the ship, on the Sea of Galilee.
_With a word of cheer left her._--Think of the power of a kind word. Amid all the busy scenes of life, is there no time for a cheerful word? When the Chief Priests and Pharisees sought to lay hands on Jesus, they feared the multitude because they took him for a prophet. What rays of celestial sunshine sometimes stream into the soul of the disheartened one when the missionary whispers, "Put all your trust in Jesus, and he will care for you." There is balm in Gilead, and there is a physician there. Look at the power of a kind word uttered by the Master. Are there no tumultuous fears allayed in the breast of those two blind men as they sit by the wayside to Jerusalem? They cry, "Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David." Is there not a stupendous wealth of kindness and potency portrayed in yon scene when Jesus stood still and called them, and uttered those strange kind words: "What will ye that I should do unto you?" How sad is the sight of a blind person! How intensely dark their surroundings! How they excite our pity! How many, alas! are blinded by sin, sickness, and sorrow. "They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes, and immediately their eyes received sight and they followed him." Is there any wonder that the whole city was moved, saying, "Who is this? This is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth, of Galilee." Now the Saviour said, "As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you into the world." Kind Christian words contain the rich unction of encouragement and inspiration to the sorrowful, heavy-laden heart. So daughter, be of good cheer, thy sins, which are many, are all forgiven thee.
THE STORY OF WILLIAM THE CONSUMPTIVE.
Oh, fill me with Thy fulness, Lord, Until my very heart o'erflow In kindling thought and glowing word, Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.
_Our Missing Link_, a journal devoted to missionary work, has given many graphic recitals of the good work she accomplished in numerous fields, but none of much livelier interest than the case of
WILLIAM AT ST. LUKE'S
"William" is a young Englishman. He came to this country eight years ago. He is now about twenty-four. I first saw him some time last winter. His sister, who lives with her family in our mission block, had told me that she had a brother in New York, who was out of health and out of employment, and was very unhappy in consequence.
I expressed my sympathy, but not knowing of anything that I could do, asked no questions at the time. A few days after she came to say that the brother referred to was in her room; that it had become evident that he was in consumption. He would like to talk with me. I was alone, and bade her invite him in. He came immediately. A tall, thin young man, with a pleasant face and easy manners. I did not speak to him very directly on religious subjects. I believe that I perceived in this first interview that his views were not very clear. I encouraged him gradually to tell me about his circumstances. His confidence was easily won, and in the course of this and subsequent interviews I learned that his only home was with an aged father, who was himself out of work and in straitened circumstances. William's clothing was too thin for the inclement weather we were then encountering, and it was plain he could not have the nourishing food his declining appetite required. The sister who first introduced him to me was anxious about him, but her tenement was too small to accommodate her own family, and her husband's wages hardly equal to the wants of his own household. William's great desire was to procure employment. He would work to the utmost of his failing strength if only he could get work to do. I obtained from the Sick Relief Fund a few shillings' worth of groceries per week for him; but employment, means to help himself, was his one aspiration. I felt sure he was not able to work, but was anxious, nevertheless, though in vain, to gratify his wish. One evening I communicated to him a slight hope of an opening to some employment. The increased brightness of his eye, the red spot on each cheek, and his sleeplessness that night, proved that he was not able to bear even the excitement of a sudden hope. Poor fellow! it was plain he would never work much more.
I must mention here that William's constitution had received the seeds of disease while at sea during the war. He ran away from home and engaged in the revenue service. He also served in the army. He has never been well since his return. His friends tell me that he has been wild, not that he was immoral, to use their own expression. He had been religiously trained in England, did nothing that the world would call bad; but he was wayward, and the occasion to them of great anxiety and displeasure also.
As I said before, we did not talk much at first about religion, not that he avoided the subject. He was very conscious of his own situation as far as the uncertainty of his life was concerned, but he had apparently no sense of sinfulness before God. Perhaps the reserve was on my side. I think I never felt so much as in this case the utter powerlessness of human influence to bring the soul to God. He spoke calmly of death; but when I asked him what was the ground of his hope beyond the grave, he replied:
"I have never done any one harm; I have tried to live right."
I replied earnestly: "Do not trust to any such refuge as that."
I then warned him against any hope not founded on Christ alone. He acknowledged that what I said was true, and seemed for a moment disturbed. I cannot recall another conversation in our earlier acquaintance, in which I was able to speak with any earnestness, or in which he seemed at all impressed. I could only pray: "Lord, open his eyes!" It is very wonderful to me, on looking back, to see how God was leading him all this time. Once he told me of a sermon which he had heard months before, upon the text: "Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live." He had never been so impressed by a sermon; he could not forget it.
Occasionally, I observed that his mind was well stored with the Prayer Book version of the Psalms. Sometimes he would quote a petition, telling me it had been specially upon his mind. Upon inquiry, I found that at home in England, he had been a chorister boy at church. He has since told me he used to sing the Psalms without any sense of their meaning. Probably the words were never explained to him, or impressed upon him in any way. It was a mere form of a church which confirmed its members at fifteen years old, with very little cognizance of their spiritual life. William, however, had not been confirmed. It would seem from his subsequent life that the words he had chanted, from Sunday to Sunday, had no effect on him, but now, in his last days, God was bringing them home to his heart, over all the years of his carelessness, and accomplishing that which he pleased. It has helped me to believe that it is not in vain to store the mind of thoughtless Sunday-school scholars with the Word of God, and that in the most formal Christian Church the words of Scripture are not lost.
But all this time William's temporal wants were increasingly pressing. His father had been obliged to sell their little stock of furniture, and the house was broken up. One night his sister told me that William had not so much as a place to sleep in. She took him in with her own children for a few days. I recommended that he should go into St. Luke's Hospital for a month. Perhaps the rest and nourishment he would find there would enable him to get through the trying spring weather, and in the summer he might be better. While this plan was under consideration, William found that he could stay in the room that his father had just quitted until the end of the month, which was half gone. Still clinging to the hope of finding employment, he gave up the hospital plan, while in his almost empty room was neither food nor fuel. His sister did what she could. I applied to the Sick Relief Society for some coal, which was immediately granted. All this time I had not applied to my Superintendent, whose kind and ready sympathy never fails me. The reason was, I have constantly on my heart and hands so many cases of suffering that I cannot represent them all, and am anxious to get through difficulties, as far as possible, without unusual assistance. But in this case God's plans were above my reach. One day Mrs. Knowles called at my room. While we were talking about some mission business, there was a knock. It was William. I had an instant sense that he had providentially called.
"Come in," I said, "and tell your story to my Superintendent." This interview was the beginning of better times for poor William. Mrs. Knowles immediately provided him with better clothing. I had only succeeded in getting some flannel from the Society. Her kindness did not stop here. In a few days she procured him a job of cutting wood.
_A Difficulty._--William did his first day's work with all the energy his feeble strength would allow, but on being summoned to the same place again, an unfortunate circumstance occurred. I think it right to state the facts, because it shows how wonderfully God's grace can overrule. He commenced his work as before, but his strength giving out, he accepted an invitation from a lady in an adjoining house to come in and rest. His delicate appearance enlisted sympathy. She had had some conversation with him in his previous day's work, and was now prepared to express the kindest feelings, especially as she herself had lost a brother with consumption. Observing his exhausted state, she brought forward a glass of whiskey, which she made him swallow, strongly advising him to procure more and use it as a stimulant. The lady's intention was only kind, but, unfortunately, William acted indiscreetly upon the advice. Encouraged by the momentary relief afforded by the exhilarating beverage, he did procure more. Whether it was the same day or the next, I am not quite sure, but he went to his sister's at last, sadly under the influence of liquor. His weak state, the uncomfortable condition of his affairs, acting with the liquor upon his brain, caused him for a day or two to behave in a very inconsistent and unnatural manner. He seemed even to vary from his habitual truthfulness. Much disgusted, his sister rebuked him sharply, declared that she would tell me, and of course, the inference was that I should tell Mrs. Knowles. But that good woman knew about it as soon as I did. She was grieved and disappointed at what had occurred, but her uniform kindness did not fail. It was evident he was no longer able to make any exertion for himself, and she procured him admission into St. Luke's Hospital.
He went, in the midst of these trying circumstances, not coming to bid me good-by, and knowing that his sister was seriously displeased. Poor William! disgraced, unhappy, and sick, he went to that bed which was about to become to him as the gate of heaven. I went to see him as soon as possible. I went, intending to talk over with him what had passed, but found him so humble and so suffering that I had no heart to make any allusion to it. We neither of us spoke directly upon the subject. In fact, I said very little upon any subject, for as he lay there with the tears upon his thin face, expressing brokenly his pain and his penitence, I felt that God was teaching him, and taking hold of the very lesson to show him his true character. He was now coming upon a new ground never understood before.
_The Blessed Change._--Mrs. Knowles saw William before I went to him a second time. She, too, forbore alluding to the unpleasant circumstances, but she talked to him of our human sinfulness before God, and our need of a Saviour. Some of his most interesting conversations have since been with her. The second time I visited William his bodily strength had greatly failed, but his face was beautiful with a new light I had never seen there before.
"I feel very differently now," he said, "God has forgiven all my sins."
He then went on to express his sense of his own unworthiness; not that he had led a vicious life, but he felt he was a great sinner before God. In the course of conversation I told him his sister had inquired kindly about him; his eyes filled with tears, and he said:
"Tell her I have been converted; I am very happy." The week before Easter, when the Bishop visited the hospital to administer confirmation, William was placed in a chair to receive the rite, and on Easter Day partook of his first communion. It was a glorious day for him. Mrs. Knowles visited him on that day.
A few days after, as I sat by his bedside, he was speaking, as he always did now, of his sense of sinfulness, and his sense of pardon, when I reminded him of the early conversation, before alluded to, in which he had rested on his own moral character for acceptance with God.
"Yes," he replied, "I used to think so, but I have been all wrong. Now I have no dependence but upon Jesus Christ."
A little before this, he had said to Mrs. Knowles: "I never knew that just trusting in Christ would give me such peace."
He has said repeatedly: "This sickness is the best thing that has ever happened to me. If it had not been for this, I should have gone on in worldliness."
William has never been accustomed to the common religious phraseology. He is such a babe in such things, that his expressions are sometimes strikingly artless. At one time I was speaking of his sufferings, he looked up with a smile, and hesitating how to express the thought in his mind, said:
"I think it is out of his affections God afflicts us."
His sister had wept much when I delivered his message. As I returned a kind reply from her, he said:
"Tell her I pray for her and her family every day." Then, when after a little conversation I had bidden him good-by, he called me back, and said:
"Be sure and tell my sister I pray for her." He frequently said to me:
"I pray for you everyday;" and on saying this to Mrs. Knowles, he added, at one time:
"I speak your name to God when I pray."
When he says this with so much earnestness, we always feel that his prayers are a rare treasure, since the helpless, self-renouncing prayers are most prevalent in Christ. The tenderness with which William speaks of his sister's family has sometimes touched me. There is nothing like the peace of God to beget good will to man. Knowing that the family had many trials with his sister's ill health and scanty means, he often sends by me messages of sympathy. A few days since it was suddenly discovered that their youngest child, two years old, and a little pet of William's, was in danger of being crippled for life. This new and unexpected sorrow filled the family with great distress. I accompanied the father when the child was brought to St. Luke's for examination. After the physician's opinion had been given, and arrangements made for placing it in the Children's Ward, we went to see William. The unexpected appearance of his brother-in-law, whom he had not seen since coming to the hospital, affected him much. Indeed, the interview was trying to both. I left them alone, and on my return shortly afterward, found William still in tears. He was not so well that morning, and grief for the child, and the sight of the brother reviving the painful memory of their late alienation, was too much for him; yet his peace was not greatly disturbed, for all alienation from man, as from God, had been healed for him.
_The Tried Word._--I went to see the little child the next morning, and then reported him to his uncle, whose first words were a question, rather anxiously put, concerning the little one. Wishing to set his mind at ease, I said:
"Oh, it is all well with him. I just met him coming down, stairs with a flock of children, and his hands full of bread and butter."
He gave a smile of quiet amusement, which showed the playfulness of other days might yet be touched. I then went on to tell him the case was not likely to prove as serious as we had feared, and suggested he should get the nurse, when convenient, to bring the child in her arms to his bedside. He was pleased with the idea; but presently the conversation fell off from the subject. William's eyes wandered to the texts of the "Silent Comforter" at the foot of his bed. With the air of one who caught the sight of unutterable things, and has not much more to do with the world:
"See," said he, "I have a good verse for this morning." He began to read: "Fear not, I am with thee."
Beginning to cough, I went on: "When thou walkest through the waters, they shall not overflow thee; and through the fire, thou shalt not be burned. That is just right for you, William."
"Yes," he replied, with his own peculiarly beautiful smile.
"I notice," said I, "that the very words of God are best for you. You love the hymns, but, after all, God's own words are the safest to rest upon."
"Yes," he replied, "I live upon those texts. When the nurse comes in, in the morning, to turn the leaf over, _I am eager_."
I did not speak, but watched him as he lay, his longing eyes fixed upon the words before him, with an absorbed and admiring gaze, as if all else were forgotten. His soul was hanging its eternal destiny on the words of God. A few days before this he had said to Mrs. Knowles:
"You remember when we first talked of the Shepherd's Psalm, I said I should be glad when I could say: 'When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil' Now," he added, emphatically, "_I can say it._ I fear no evil, for thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
His listener then went on to speak of the beautiful figure of the rod and staff.
_Sunshine and Shadow._--God leads his little ones gently, the Good Shepherd bears the lambs, that the enemy may not too much affright them through the dark valley.
"Is your peace never disturbed, William?" I asked one day.
"Not often," he answered. "Sometimes there comes a cloud--it is a temptation, I suppose."
"Yes," I said, "Satan, perhaps, envies you. He knows that he will never get your soul, but he will trouble you a little."
"I suppose so," he replied thoughtfully.
Wishing to express to me his happiness in God, and not knowing quite how to do so, he said:
"It is like this, sometimes--I feel like a boy let out from school; I am so happy, I want to shout." At another time he said:
"I have much _communion_." Then, as if to illustrate this, he added:
"Last night, I awoke about two o'clock, and I was praying in my sleep."
"Can you recall your prayer?" I asked.
"No," he said, "but I was praying to God."
"God is very good, William, to let you talk with him so in the night."
"Yes," he answered; and then turning his face toward his pillow, he said, in a low voice: "Praise God!"
"And bless his holy name," I responded.
We were both silent for a few moments, and then--I think it was in connection with this conversation--I asked:
"William, if you were to get well now, do you think you would try to live to the glory of God?"
"Indeed, I would," he answered.
"And bring others to know him?" I asked.
"Yes," he said again.
"Well, William, I suppose you think that here upon this bed you cannot do much; but I think you can glorify him here on this very bed."
"Yes," he answered, a little doubtfully; then added: "I try to pray to him all the time."
I was half sorry for the suggestion, which seemed somewhat to bewilder him, and said: "That is all you can do, is it not?"
"And that is little enough," he replied sorrowfully.
I tried to make him understand that to receive much of God's grace was the surest way to serve him.
"What shall I render unto God for all his benefits? I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord."
When I saw William the next morning, he said, immediately:
"I did last night what you told me. I prayed for strength to glorify God here."
"I think," I answered, "that you will do that if you lie here and meekly suffer his will; and I must tell you that, after these conversations with you, I go home thanking God for what you have told me of His love to you. I think I love the Saviour better, since I have seen what he can be to one in sickness and death."
"_That is good_" he said emphatically, "_I would have it so_."
As I left him this time, the thought in my own mind was: "Oh, speak good of the Lord."
On my return to William and his brother-in-law, after the interview which I described in my last paragraph, and which occurred only a few days ago, I saw that he was too much agitated for conversation. I read him a hymn and said a few words. He was suffering more than usual that day, and his usually peaceful spirit seemed a little clouded. When I rose to go, it seemed that he would have detained me. We had bidden good-by, and turned away, when I looked back. I wanted to leave some word of Christ or thought of him at the last. "William," I said, bending over him, "Jesus says: 'Let not your heart be troubled--in my Father's house are many mansions.'"
He took hold of my hand, and looked up, the red lines of tears about his eyes. I could not quite understand their expression of unutterable longing, but I could feel at the moment that death must be penal, and its waters cold sometimes, even to a believer.
In these deeply anxious hours, O, if Jesus only smile! Only Jesus Can these restless tears beguile.
SOWING AND REAPING.
Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, Sowing in the noon-tide and the dewy eves; Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
The blessed Master says, in his Sermon on the Mount, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." If we attempt great things for God, and expect great things from God, He will bless us accordingly; for He cheers us by saying: "Ye shall reap, if ye faint not."
Mrs. Knowles tells us of instances where this truth has been verified. "One woman, whom I have been visiting for years, but apparently without any success, until a few months since, when she was taken sick, sent for me at that time, and said, 'she felt so sorry she had led such a wicked life,' and putting her arms round my neck, said, earnestly, 'Oh, pray for me, that the Lord will have mercy on me, and save my poor soul.' I did so, and when I rose from my knees, she held my hand in hers, and looking up for some time, she cried, 'Lord help me, and answer the prayers that have been offered for me;' and when I told her to cast herself wholly upon Jesus, that He was ready to save her, she said, 'Oh, but I have been such a sinner.' 'He is ready to save the chief of sinners, if they will only come.' She clasped her hands, crying, 'Oh, Jesus, save me, for I trust in thee.' I left her with a heart full of anxiety, but believing the Lord had begun the good work in her heart, and that in His own good time he would finish it, and I was not disappointed; for in a short time she was brought to rejoice in Christ as her Saviour, and although for weeks she passed through intense suffering, she never complained, but looking up, she would say to her family, and others who came to visit her, 'My Saviour helps me to bear all my trials;' and so he did, for I never saw a more patient sufferer, or a happier death.
"A lady whom I met there said to me, 'You have been sowing seed here a long time, and now you see what encouragement you have to labor.' The family are still out of Christ, but I earnestly hope to see or hear of them all brought to their mother's God.
"Another woman, who did not attend church at all, was like a little child, helpless and humble. Her situation became so critical, none were allowed to see her; but if she heard I was there, she always wanted me to pray with her; and often after offering a short prayer at her bedside, she would take my hand when about to leave her, and say, 'Oh, pray for me;' And when I kissed her, she would look up so earnestly, saying: 'I know you will pray for me.'
"It pleased the Lord to bless the means used for her recovery, and now, nearly well, she cannot express her gratitude to God for having preserved her. A few days since, when I told her of a poor woman who had returned from the hospital not much better, she gave me a dollar for her; indeed, her whole desire seems to be to do good, and bring up her children (she has a large family) in the right way. She said to me, 'When you came at first to see me, and spoke to me about being a sinner, I did not see how it was that I could be so, for I felt I was as good as you was.'
"These are cases that encourage us in our labors, for although our work at the time may seem fruitless, we may safely leave the seed in His hands, who maketh it grow and bud and blossom in His own good time.
"A woman whom I had not seen for some time, as she had moved away, told me a missionary had called to see her, and, talking to her as I had done, she asked if he knew me. He said, 'No, he was a stranger; but his words impressed her so much, that I still hope she may soon be brought to Christ; and thus it often is, if we sow in faith, 'one soweth and another reapeth.' In many instances a Bible that I have left, neglected at the time, has, through another's teaching, become precious; and some have shown me _one_ left by other teachers, to which I have had the privilege of directing the attention of the otherwise careless owner."
She continues her deeply-interesting narrative thus:
"We have commenced our Saturday Sewing-school in a beautiful room, which has been secured for us, and hope to accomplish a great deal of good this winter through its means. My Sunday-school will be in connection with the Ludlow Street Mission, and I trust, as my health and strength seem renewed, I may be truly useful in working for the Master."
Here we have a vivid description of Christian waiting, in expectation of results. When we take into consideration that this woman was fifty years old when she commenced directly to work as a missionary, we know that she was fully equipped for the task, and entered upon it with all her energies of heart. St. Paul says, in his letter to the Church, at Rome, that "tribulation worketh patience." Now, there are many God-fearing ministers who cannot stand a rebuff. There are many good Christian people, and some of them excellent workers in the Sabbath-school, who could not stand to be looked upon coldly, much less to have the door slammed in their face. I am sure they would give the work up in despair, if, after they had attempted to reach some stranger several times, and had not succeeded. But, oh, here is a weak woman, for years visiting another of her own sex, year after year, remonstrating earnestly and patiently, and lovingly with her, in order to lead her to Christ. Is not this the way that God deals with us? Line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, there a little.
Surely, he is the Lord God, "merciful and gracious, long-suffering, slow to anger, abundant in goodness and in truth."
What does Christ say in the Apocalypse? "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come unto him and will sup with him, and he with Me."
Does not the Holy Spirit work in this very same manner? Patiently!--oh, how patiently, He strives, He pleads, He warns. Was it not the Holy Spirit in this woman's heart, that, led her again and again to visit this home? Yes, most assuredly. Oh, that this self-same spirit would whisper to every reader of this memoir to go and do likewise!
See how beautifully Divine Providence harmonizes with the Spirit's work, and with those who faithfully toil in the vineyard. How unique the operation. Sickness is the efficient cause.
But we must constantly remember that it was the almost incomparable faith of this woman in the God of Jacob, amid the greatest difficulties and discouragements, that gave her such remarkable success. Incompetency for Christian work is a lack, not only of patience, but of faith in the great love of our God, and the triumphant death of Christ, and the persistent power of the Holy Spirit, combined with a humble trust in our own capabilities to do valiantly for Jesus. These are the allied forces in waging war against the powers of darkness in this wicked world. Christ said, "As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you into the world. And greater works than these shall ye do, because I go to my Father." Confidence in the word of our dear Incarnate Lord is the warrant, not only of the stability of God's method of saving souls, but in the progressive propagation of Christian principles. There is growth in work for Christ, as well as in nature. And our younger brethren would do well to remember that like this woman, we must expect success, or we will never get it.
Dr. McCosh, the President of Princeton College, made the following remarks in an address before the General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance:
"It is useless to tell the younger naturalists that there is no truth in the doctrine of development, for they know that there is truth which is not to be set aside by denunciation. Religious philosophers might be more profitably employed in showing them the religious aspects of the doctrine of development; and some would be grateful to any who would help them to keep their old faith in God and the Bible with their new faith in science."
Again, in his book on "Development," Dr. McCosh says:
"It is no use denying in our day the doctrine of evolution, in the name of religion or any good cause. It can now be shown that it rather favors religion by its furnishing proofs of design, and by the wonderful parallelism between Genesis and geology."
In this part of Mrs. Knowles' diary, the careful reader will observe a most dramatic account of human nature, under the controlling power of the Holy Ghost. The woman whom she had long visited was at last conquered. The city of the soul was successfully bombarded. The sorrow for sin, the sad lamentation over a misspent life, the flinging of her arms round the neck of the missionary, the urgent request, "Oh, pray for me, that the Lord may have mercy on me, and save my poor soul," together with the statement of transition from shadow to sunshine, from grief to joy, from alienation to adoption, reveal to us the judiciously connected operations of the deity, in the salvation of immortal souls brought about by the power of prayer.
Why should we remain incredulous about God's willingness to save sinners, after such a marvellous manifestation of Divine mercy?
_Brought to rejoice in Christ as her Saviour._--The term "brought," is a very emphatic Scriptural one. It ascribes the glory, and honor, and power of man's deliverance to the free, sovereign, unmerited favor of God. David sings:
"I waited patiently for the Lord. And He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
"He _brought_ me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay:
"And He set my feet upon a rock, and stablished my goings.
"And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praises unto our God; many shall see _it_, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord."
A judicious acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God as the author of salvation is essential to Christian calmness and courage, and continuance in the path of duty. Man may break his promise, but God never. Man's objection to God's methods of salvation arise from a desire to take the glory to self, and the disposition to discontentment on the one hand, and a feeling of distrust on the other. Let us learn, from the foregoing account of the conversion of this woman, to isolate ourselves from man's ways of working, and accept God's communications regarding His approaches to the avenues of the heart; knowing that He will ultimately send the converting power of the Holy Spirit to the soul of the most hardened and obdurate sinner.
We must go back once more to Mrs. Knowles' narrative, and observe that among the principal causes of her success with the poor and fallen, was not only her intimate acquaintance with God's dealings with both saint and sinner, but her marvellous and confirmed habit of always offering a short prayer at the bedside of the sick and suffering and dying. There was, therefore, elicited the pungent request, "Oh, pray for me," corroborated by the impressive ejaculation of confidence in her fidelity to the divine command, "Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." How inexpressibly encouraging it must have been on this occasion to hear the remark, "I know you will pray for me," accompanied with the look of earnestness and helplessness, realizing that God alone could restore her to her accustomed health and strength.
Who can tell of the gratitude and gladness that sprang up in this woman's heart in answer to earnest prayer on her behalf, for her recovery which God was graciously pleased to bestow? The donation of the dollar to the other poor woman recently returned from the hospital, was conclusive evidence that she joyfully appreciated what great things God had done, not only for her soul, but for her frail body. Let us learn, dear reader, from the foregoing account of God's dealings with His dear departed saints that, in the first place, we must not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not, for, as Mrs. Knowles says, "Our work may seem at the time fruitless, yet we may safely leave the seed in His hands, who maketh it grow and bud and blossom in His own good time."
In the second place, we must remember that to be actively engaged working for God's glory is the best and surest, and, in fact, the only safe remedy for disappointment and discouragements in aggressive Christian work. "In many instances," she says, "a Bible that I have left, neglected at the time, has through another's teachings become precious." We can speak from heart-felt experience on this point, for some of the sweet psalms and hymns we sang, perhaps thoughtlessly, in the days of sunny childhood, are to-day the most soul-stirring, imparting fire, force, and fervency while working for Jesus. Here is one of them:
I think when I read that sweet story of old, When Jesus was here among men, How He called little children as lambs to His fold, I should like to have been with them then.
I wish that His hands had been placed on my head, That His arm had been thrown around me, And that I might have seen His kind look when He said, "Let the little ones come unto Me."
Yet still to His footstool in prayer I may go, And ask for a share in His love; And if I thus earnestly seek Him below, I shall see Him and hear Him above.
In that beautiful place He has gone to prepare For all who are washed and forgiven; And many dear children shall be with Him there, "For of such is the kingdom of Heaven."
Throughout her life Mrs. Knowles constantly experienced the blessing of sowing and the happy reward of reaping. Numerous instances could be cited, had we the space to spare, in which direct answers to her prayers have come to her while in the act of beseeching God's aid and blessing upon some one object of interest to her. Her own son was one among many of such cases. In the early part of 1857 he had become associated with many bad companions and was a source of anxiety to both his parents. His father thought if he could get him to attend church the good influence there obtained would tend to lead him to Christ and into the paths of salvation. But the youth refused to go, and the mother at once besought the aid of God in influencing her son's heart. At first, after praying with him for some time, she found him asleep on his knees. She roused him up and prayed again with him, and on her husband's return from church he found his penitent son beseeching Jesus to forgive him and lead him into the way of righteousness.
DAILY MISSIONARY WORK.
Shall He come and find me faithful To His parting words to me; "If I go--a place preparing-- I will quickly come to thee."
Shall He come and find me working In the vineyard full of love; Only working, till the glory Breaks upon me from above?
The following part of her narrative of Christian work, taken from _Our Missing Link_, is deeply interesting, and deserves the reader's careful perusal.
At one time Mrs. Knowles wrote that, during part of the summer months great weakness and general debility prevented her from laboring as much as usual; and when she resumed her visits, she found many had been making inquiries after her in church, not knowing her place of residence. One young woman especially, who had made an unfortunate marriage, and who had been badly treated by her husband, was extremely anxious to see her, to tell her what comfort she had derived from a Bible given her by Mrs. Knowles. She said she had never read so much in one before. She had been brought up a Roman Catholic, but having lived a few months in a Protestant family, she had there seen a Bible, and occasionally read in it. That upon leaving the family the lady presented her with one, which she was obliged to hide away in her bed, lest her mother should know she possessed it. It afterward disappeared and she thought one of her family must have seen her reading in it, and since then she had never been able to procure another. "When I gave her this one, her husband had spent all her wages, and she had not the means of paying for it; but now she paid me for it, and hoped I would come again soon and talk with her about it.
"I am kindly received wherever I go in my new district. There has been much sickness, especially among the children, and much care is needed. One man I visited presented a pitiable condition. When I entered his room he was far gone in consumption. A little girl was raising his head to give him drink, as the mother had gone to her work. He looked surprised to see a stranger enter his room, but I went forward and asked him if he was looking unto Jesus. He said, like many while in health, he had thought too little about those things. I read and prayed with him. Upon leaving him he shook my hand and asked me to come again, saying the Lord must have sent me. I returned soon with some nourishment, which was greedily partaken of--'It tasted so good.' He lived but little more than a week, and I visited him daily, reading and praying with him. I carried with me the little book _Come to Jesus_, which he loved to hear, as, 'It was so full of Jesus;' but he said he had neglected the Saviour, and how could he hope He would have mercy on him now. I told him how Christ died praying for his enemies, and that the thief on the cross looked to him and was saved, and repeated to him the hymn 'Just as I am,' etc. This seemed to encourage him, and he said he wanted to trust in the mercy of God through Christ to save him; while all who came to see him, he would urge not to delay, as he had done, coming to Jesus. He said I was the first to speak to him about the salvation of his soul, and expressed great gratitude to me, and great solicitude about his wife and children, till I told him he could surely trust One, who had done so much for him, to care for them. He finally became too weak to speak, but toward the last I saw him clasp his hands together, while he repeated, 'O blessed Jesus, save me.'
"The woman whom I mentioned in a former report as so solicitous about her children being all out of Christ, tells me she is much encouraged, as her eldest son now attends church with her, and is so changed and so much concerned about the other members of the family, she has great reason to hope for great things for all the rest.
"If those dear ladies who furnish us with means could only see for themselves how grateful these poor creatures are for any small kindness done them, or for a word spoken in kindness, how greatly encouraged they would be. And how great is the responsibility of the Bible woman, as she goes from house to house, and from one apartment to another, listening to the many tales of distress which greets her ears, and witnesses for herself the many objects of pity and destitution which meet her gaze, while she knows that something is expected from her to alleviate, in some measure, the sorrow of these poor sufferers; and then, when these people look up to her for counsel and advice, she is often at a loss to know what to say to them. I often entreat them to go to Jesus, and kneel and pray with them that the Lord may direct them what to do.
"I have brought a number of persons to church, and trust, through blessing, prayer, and continued efforts, much more may be accomplished in the future."
It is only by an experimental knowledge of the condition of the citizens of New York and other large centres of population, who are huddled together in the high tenement houses, that we are able to form a correct understanding of the peculiar circumstances that surround the daily life of the faithful city missionary, especially when they are not thoroughly acclimated. A native-born American does not feel the stifling heat of the summer sun like those who are born in a more northerly European country. But even the Americans themselves suffer severely from the heat. Hence, many of them close their churches and Sabbath-schools, and resort to their summer retreats by the seashore, at Ocean Grove or Long Branch, while others seek rest and refreshment to their jaded spirits at Saratoga, or snuff the balmy breezes at Mount McGregor, where General Grant breathed his last, and ended his creditable career in the cause of his country.
At this time we find that she suffered much during the summer months of 1867. Great weakness and general debility hindered her from laboring incessantly, as was her usual custom for her dear Saviour. Sickness seems to have been the only limitation to her labors. When I think that I am writing not about some imaginary character, but one with an untainted reputation, a _beau ideal_ as a Christian worker, known perhaps to a few outside of the circle in which she lived and labored, encouraged not by applauding throngs, but attracted and held to her toil, year after year, by sorrowful hearts and weeping eyes, and helpless hands that hang down the widow and the fatherless--these were the objects of her Christ-like and heart-felt compassion.
Chalmers observes, in a sermon preached at an Anniversary Missionary meeting, held in the High Church in Edinburgh: "What the man of liberal philosophy is in sentiment, the missionary is in practice. He sees in every man a partaker of his own nature, and a brother of his own species. He contemplates the human mind in the generality of its great elements. He enters upon the wide field of benevolence, and disdains those geographical barriers by which little men would shut out one-half of the species from the kind offices of the other. His business is with man, and let his localities be what they may, enough for his large and noble heart that he is bone of the same bone. To get at him he will shun no danger, he will shrink from no privation, he will spare himself no fatigue, he will brave every element of heaven, he will hazard the extremities of every clime, he will cross seas, and work his persevering way through the briars and thickets of the wilderness. In perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by the heathen, in weariness and painfulness, he seeks after him. The cast and the color are nothing to the comprehensive eye of the missionary. His is the broad principle of good-will to the children of men. His doings are with the species, and, overlooking all the accidents of climate or of country, enough for him if the individual he is in quest of be a man--a brother of the same nature--with a body which a few years will bring to the grave, and a spirit that returns to the God who gave it. The missionary is a man of large and liberal principles."
These characteristics, enumerated by the warm and large, and generous-hearted Chalmers, dwelt richly in her whose biography we have tremblingly attempted to portray. She knew little of the soothing influences of nature and solitude. Her life's work was spent in this city, so cosmopolitan, composed, almost, of every creed and color under heaven.
After restoration to health, the great purpose of her life was joyously resumed. And at this time we have an opportunity of knowing thoroughly, and weighing precisely, the opinions of her parishioners regarding her, for when she began to resume her labors she found that the dear ones she had brought to Jesus were kindly inquiring about her. Surely, it is good to be missed, when either laid aside by sickness or called away by death.
How precious are the promises of God's Word, amid domestic difficulties and trials. The relations of the home circle are such that, unless there is the utmost harmony and good-will, one toward another, everything seems to go wrong. Hence, the importance of the injunction of the Apostle, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers." Her own domestic happiness was constantly preserved. They told me on the steamer, during a summer excursion, "that during the forty-seven years of their wedded life, they never needed to be reconciled." And the secret of their joy at home, even when they commenced housekeeping, was that they erected the family altar, and established a church in the house. Conceive, then, her feelings of gratitude to God, when she learned that the young Roman Catholic wife, unfortunate in her marriage, who was badly treated by her husband, was greatly comforted through the prayerful perusal of the Bible. Her deep feelings of moral sensibility enabled her to truly sympathize with her own sex in their home troubles.
Her intense love for the children was a magnificent trait in her character. Why? Because she felt the significance that attaches itself to the sayings of Christ, bearing on the children. His authority must be recognized. He said: "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." There is a beautiful passage in Isaiah, that illustrates how tenderly God cares for the little ones:
"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."
"Whoso," said Jesus, "shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me."
There are too many instances in our daily experience where the children are sadly neglected, and where they are looked upon as little heathens, and discouraged in their endeavors to follow Jesus in early life. It should be the constant care of parents and Sunday-school teachers to take the children to Him who will in no wise cast them out. Who can look into the clear, bright, blue eyes of a little boy or girl, and not see in their countenance a holy radiance expressive of trustfulness, innocence, and affection? It is no wonder, then, that Jesus said: "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye can in nowise enter into the kingdom of heaven."
"Are you looking unto Jesus?" she said. Where can we look for a more important searching question to shadow forth the indispensable necessity of not only this consumptive man, but all men, whether in health or sickness, to renounce all other methods of trying to get to heaven, but by "looking unto Jesus." No change of character can take place in any other way. "Look unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth, for I am God, and beside me there is none else." They looked unto Him and were lightened. "O! it is easy to look to the hills from whence cometh our help," when the Holy Spirit is working upon the heart. But ah, it is a tremendously difficult task to perform when the poor sinner is bereft of this divine power.
DESTITUTION AND REFORMATION.
Oh, use me Lord, use even me, Just _as_ Thou wilt, and _when_ and _where_, Until Thy blessed face I see, Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share.
Her willingness to toil in any direction attests the grand purpose of her life and the ingenious methods employed in assisting and saving souls.
"I visited one family," she writes, "a few days since who had not eaten anything for twenty-four hours. The father was out of employment, and in desperation was just about to take the children to some charitable home, when I came in time to supply their wants and procure aid and work for him. Many others, rather than make known their wants, have pawned everything they possessed. I have had to give and lend them articles of clothing to cover them, and have procured coal and groceries for nine families during the past month."
The remarkable and unprecedented success of this one woman in reaching others of her own sex is nearly unparalleled. This fact has encouraged us to persevere in our attempt to make these truths known to the Christian world; for how emphatically true are the words of Gray:
"Full many a gem of purest ray serene, The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear, And full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air."
This thought stimulates us to renewed efforts to present her experience in her own language, as she conscientiously discharged her duty with an eye single to the glory of God.
She mentions a case of reformation of an intemperate woman who had deserted her home, and after pawning and ridding herself of all she possessed, was at length brought to herself and sent for the Bible woman, and, through the omnipotence of loving-kindness, has been won to reformation, which she trusts may be permanent.
This case presents a sad and dark picture in the history of womanhood. An intemperate woman, through the blasting and blighting influence of liquor, leaving her home, and like the prodigal, spending her substance in riotous living, and at length being compelled to feed on the husks. A fallen woman seeking pleasure away from home with all its endearments. Alas! alas! "There is no peace saith my God unto the wicked. Whither, oh, whither can they fly as wretched wanderers from their homes?"
"Home, sweet home! There is no place like home!"
It is a divine institution. A place of rest and peace and joy. To forsake home is to despise bliss and accept woe. It is to reject felicity and receive sorrow. When God has been so kind as to furnish a peaceable, well-governed home, nothing should tempt the young to leave it. All that is necessary for pure pleasure can be found in the family circle. The unwary are sometimes induced to leave home through false representations, and a desire to gratify every earthly propensity. Idle curiosity may be greatly augmented, and the new acquaintances formed may, for the time being, partially please the senses; but the calm recollection of former unalloyed joys in the cottage home naturally extorts the old cry from pale quivering lips, and a broken heart, "I will arise and go to my father, and will say: father I have sinned against heaven and before thee."
Such a course of turning to God, and such a cry, is always richly rewarded. Personal reformation is not only gratifying to relatives and friends, but well-pleasing to God. "Won to reformation" by the Bible woman through the omnipotence of _loving kindness_! We are reminded by this incident of a story we heard told by the late John B. Gough. It was part of his experience a few days after he became a total abstainer. He had returned to work. But his burning thirst for liquor was intense. In his agony of mind and body, he said to his employer, "I have signed the pledge." The reply was, "You will keep it about a week." "If so, then I will go and get a drink now, for I cannot endure this awful agony any longer," he retorted. He rushed out of the room and down the stairs leading to the street, when he was accosted by the kind, gentle voice of a strange gentleman who met him.
"How do you do, Mr. Gough? I am so glad to see you; I was delighted to see you at the meeting last night, and I am so thankful that you had courage given you to go forward and sign the pledge. I simply called over to shake you by the hand and wish you God speed in your noble endeavor. Here is my card; I want you to call at my office, as I desire to get acquainted with you." Those kind words entered into his heart, and from that auspicious hour he resolved to be steadfast and immovable in his renunciation of his drinking habits.
God loves and prospers those who, like Jesus, speak kind words of encouragement to those who have gone astray from the paths of rectitude. The brevity and uncertainty of life ought to teach us the practical lesson that if we would save men and women from their sins we must be watchful and willing at all times to rescue the wanderers from their critical condition, constantly remembering that He has said, "Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God for he will abundantly pardon."
"When I was hungry ye gave me meat; when I was thirsty ye gave me drink; naked, and ye clothed me." Little did this noble-minded woman think that when she was entering her daily experience in her diary that her deeds of charity were to be brought to light after death. A story is told of Xenophon, the disciple of Socrates, that while offering a solemn sacrifice he heard that his eldest son was slain at Mantinea. He did not, however, desist, but only laid down his crown and asked how he had fallen. When he understood that his son had fallen in battle fighting bravely for his country, he calmly replaced the crown upon his head, calling the gods to witness that he received greater pleasure from the bravery of his son, than pain from his death. We do not, naturally speaking, like to lose our loved ones, but when we think of their bravery and fidelity, we feel disposed to praise God for them. O, what transcendent dignity and honor are conferred on the faithful at the hour of death. It seems there is a reciprocal response on earth to the acclamations of heaven perpetually ringing in the ears of the ransomed, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
The Church's loss is her gain. Still the deeds of mercy call forth praise. Let us ever remember that a holy and just and good God is treasuring up all our words of faith and labors of love against the great day of account--the day of recognition and remuneration. Pollock beautifully describes the man or woman like her of whom we write, a person of enlarged benevolence and liberality, as practically illustrated in the foregoing authentic record of Christian experience. He says:
"Breathe all thy minstrelsy, immortal harp! Breathe numbers warm with love while I rehearse, Delightful theme! remembering the songs Which day and night are sung before the Lamb! Thy praise, O Charity! thy labors most Divine! thy sympathy with sighs, and tears, And groans; thy great, thy god-like wish to heal All misery, all fortune's wounds; and make The soul of every living thing rejoice-- A finishing and polish without which No man e'er entered heaven. Let me record His praise; the man of great benevolence, Who pressed thee softly to his glowing heart, And to thy gentle bidding made his feet Swift minister of all mankind, his soul Was most in sympathy with heaven; Nor did he wait till to his door, The voice of supplication came, but went abroad With foot as silent as the starry dews, In search of misery that pined unseen, And would not ask. And who can tell what sights She saw, what groans she heard in that cold world Below, where sin in league with gloomy death, March daily through the length and breadth of all The land, wasting at will and making earth, Fair earth! a lazer-house, a dungeon dark! Oh, who can tell what sights she saw, what shapes Of wretchedness! or who describe what smile Of gratitude illumed the face of woe?"
Similarity of character is the firmest bond for forming permanent friendship, hence Christ says to all his followers, Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command thee. A glance at the picture presented to us in St. John's gospel, eleventh chapter, at the Feast of the Passover of the Jews, remind us of the character and spirit of Jesus when he took the loaves, and when he had given thanks he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitude who were set down upon the grass. For services of this kind God selects his servants. By filling them with the spirit of Jesus, they are thus thoroughly qualified to minister to the necessitous.
HER FAITHFULNESS IN LITTLE THINGS.
There are small things in daily life In which I may obey, And thus may show my love to Thee; And always--every day-- There are some little loving words Which I for Thee may say.
"He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful in much."
She continues to write with her usual forcible descriptiveness: "I found a mother and daughter in a damp room, on the ground floor of a tenement building, in a wretched condition. The room was furnished with a broken stove, one chair, two trunks, and some bedding spread on the floor, as they had no bedstead. _Both_ were very lame, and the girl quite feeble for want of care and nourishment. After relieving their immediate wants, I tried to lead them to Christ. The girl was so sick and discouraged it was difficult to convince her that any one cared for her, but at length she cried, and said, 'How nice it is to have some one talk kindly to me.' From that time she began to read the Bible for herself, and would often speak to me of different passages of the Scriptures. But after a while the landlord ordered them to move, because they could not pay their rent, and with some effort I succeeded in sending the mother into the country, and placing the girl in a hospital.
"Two other persons, who through a blessing on my labors have become deeply interested, and even led to study the Bible, have now openly professed Christ."
Take another glance at the above touching scene and behold the lively exercise of her wonderful sagacity and powers of observation. This graphic representation of squalor and consummate misery gives pre-eminence to her adaptedness as a successful missionary of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. The eyes of the blessed Jesus, the model worker, were not closed to the wants and woes of humanity, hence his formidable power in preparing an entrance into the hearts of the people. Her Christ-like visits, carrying the rich treasure of the glad tidings, found an echo in the soul of those she visited. Although her elementary education had been sadly neglected, yet nevertheless, by her close study of God's Word and her varied experience for over fifty years in the lower part of a city like New York, she knew full well how to adapt herself to circumstances. Let us calmly follow her footsteps into this lofty tenement building and watch her movements. See how minutely she describes the sad scene. If a murder had been committed in the house and a reporter from the _New York Herald_, or any other paper, had called to take notes, he could not have been more minute in his description of the surroundings than she. All the collateral or subordinate information essentially necessary to convey an accurate idea of a true picture peculiarly calculated to throw a flood of light on the whole panorama are carefully furnished us by her notes. And here we are forcibly reminded of the pithy and succinct saying of Scotia's beloved bard, Burns:
"A chiel's amang ye taking notes."
Notice how she enumerates the persons and things in the apartment. The mother and daughter. The damp room. The ground floor. The wretchedness. The broken stove. The one chair. The two trunks. The bedding spread on the floor. The absence of a bedstead. The lameness. The feebleness. How consummate the skill displayed in her graphic and touching description of pitiable facts emanating from her pen with such brilliancy of rhetorical power; and all spontaneously springing not from the schools of moral and intellectual philosophy, but from the school of Christ Jesus her Lord who said to his sorrowful disciples: "These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you, but the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, _he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you_." The _Paraclete_, who is infinitely competent to perform the instruction necessary amid all the exigencies of life, and by whose divine influence every difficulty and trial is easily adjusted, was evidently her great instructor.
"The girl," she says, "was quite feeble for want of care and nourishment." In a public address recently delivered in this city by the good and kind Dr. John Hall, of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, at the opening of a Newsboys' Lodging House, on the corner of Eighth Street and Avenue B, an institution built through the liberality of Mrs. Robert L. Stuart, at a cost of $50,000, the doctor said, "A man left to himself will choose the bad rather than the good, because the majority do, and it is easier besides. As crime breeds misery, so misery too often breeds crime. _We should take note of this fact and try to mend it._"
Mr. Bruce, another speaker, said "thousands of children, assisted, have gone West, and now own farms and are prosperous." He concluded his address by asking the boys to cheer Mrs. Stuart, which they did gratefully for their new home provided by this inestimable and generous lady.--_New York Daily Tribune_, Tuesday, March 29, 1887.
It is the philanthropist's great aim to defend the moral honor of the homeless as well as to minister to their temporal necessities. This important service was rendered to thousands by our model missionary woman, and eternity alone will disclose the gigantic results.
But let us more specifically analyze her course of conduct under the foregoing circumstance. In the first place _she immediately relieved their wants_. I have read somewhere the story of Dr. Guthrie when he was first called to the metropolis of Edinburgh. Of their filling his pockets with tracts, and with all the ardor of his noble heart, commenced his great work. He ascended the creaking stairs of a high building in the old town, and knocking at the door, an elderly woman made her appearance, whereupon he proffered her a tract. Looking earnestly upon him, and in a loud shrill voice she exclaimed, pathetically: "'Deed, Sir, I dinna want yeer tracts, I weed thank ye for a loaf o' breed." Ah! he thought to himself, here is a case of destitution, and excusing himself he hurried down-stairs, and going to the baker he ordered bread, and to the butcher he ordered beef, and to the grocer he ordered some English breakfast tea and sugar, a few dainties, and a cart of coal, and requested them to be sent at once to the woman in want. Calling a few days afterward he found her comfortably seated with a neighbor around a cheerful hearthstone drinking their newly made tea. When she opened the door she enthusiastically exclaimed, "Come awa, noo, Doctor, I am ready to hear you on the subject o' religion." Our departed sister also recognized the necessity of attending to the temporal as well as the spiritual wants of her parishioners simultaneously. "_After relieving their wants I tried to lead them to Christ._"
We shall now proceed to show that this incident, in conformity to the teaching of God's Word, assures us that suffering and want are the means used by the kind providence of God to lead the careless sinner to seek a saving interest in the Lord Jesus Christ. David says, "Before I was afflicted I went astray, and thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me." He delivereth the poor in his affliction. "The Lord will not cast us off forever. But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies." And here is the reason given: "_For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men_."--Lam. iii. 31-33.
In this instructive part of the diary we find described a truly pathetic and animated scene. A humble missionary woman leading souls to Christ. This employment excites the deep interest and profound admiration of heaven. The general assembly and church of the first born above are intently gazing on, not as idle spectators, but the angels may be observed pressing through the crowd of crowned ones with glory-lit face, and sanctified step, communicating the cheering intelligence of accessions to the ranks of the church militant which must swell the highest strains of celestial music and deeply increase and augment the joy of the church triumphant.
In the hour of deep distress this woman was sent by God to relieve the wants of this stricken household, and at the same time lead them "to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world." There are many, alas, who see no beauty in the despised Nazarene until, by deep suffering, they are absolutely compelled to completely renounce self and to fall down, wounded and bleeding and bruised and heart-broken at the feet of Him who shed the last drop of his crimson blood on the Cross of Calvary for our salvation.
"Two others," she adds, "at this date, have been led to _study the Bible_ and have openly professed Christ." What extraordinary events cluster around this _special agency_ employed by the Holy Spirit to bring about such a glorious result. It is the enemy's intention to lead persons in distress and misery to commit crime. This is the testimony of all history, but God saves His own in the hour of peril, and not unfrequently by weak instrumentalities. Near Loch Katrine, encircled by lofty mountains and where the scenery which fringes it is of the wildest character; where, as Scott says in his "Lady of the Lake," the briar rose and fell in streamers green,
And creeping shrubs of thousand dyes, Waved in the west wind's summer sighs, Boon nature scattered free and wild Each plant or flower, the mountain's child, Here eglantine embalmed the air, Hawthorn and hazel mingled there. The primrose pale and violet flower, Found in each cliff's narrow bower; Foxglove and nightshade side by side, Emblems of punishment and pride; Gray birch and aspen wept beneath; Aloft the ash and warrior oak, Cast anchor in the rifted rock; And higher yet the pine-tree hung, His shattered trunk, and frequent flung Where seemed the cliff to meet on high, His boughs athwart the narrow sky, So wondrous wild, the whole might seem The scenery of a fairy dream.
Here, in a roughly wooded island, the country people secreted their wives and children, and their most valuable effects from the rapacity of Cromwell's soldiers during their inroad into Scotland. The soldiers resolved to plunder this island; an expert swimmer swam toward it to fetch the boat to his comrades, which had carried the women to their place of refuge. It lay moored in one of the creeks; his companions stood watching on the shore; but just as the soldier reached the nearest point of the island, and was laying hold of a black rock to get on shore, a heroine who stood on the very point where he meant to land, hastily snatching a dagger from below her tartan apron, with one quick, sharp stroke severed his jugular vein, killing him instantly.
The soldiers on the other shore seeing the disaster, relinquished all future hope of revenge or conquest, and made the best of their way out of a perilous position. Thus the women and children and valuables were saved by the bravery of this noble heroine, Ellen Stuart. Such is the way God saves the family to-day, by guiding the feet of our missionary to many a distressed household, instantly relieving their wants, and putting in their hands the Word of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Let this record be an incentive to others to go and do likewise, by pleading for the poor and the fatherless. God grant that her words may be as goads to arouse sleepy professors to a realizing sense of their great obligation to Him who is the God of Israel, our father's God, and we will trust Him.
THE POWER OF INFLUENCE.
I cannot do great things for Him Who did so much for me; But I would like to show my love, Lord Jesus, unto Thee; Faithful in very little things, O Saviour! may I be.
In the course of her daily missionary work Mrs. Knowles met with the following interesting case which she herself records:
"Calling on a poor afflicted widow, I found her in great want, much discouraged, and very sad; she said she did not feel much _desire to live_.
"'Can you not trust God?' I said. 'Have you not always been cared for?'
"Her little boy, a child of six years, was sitting by her side scribbling on a slate. He looked up and said:
"'Mamma, do you know what God says?'
"'What?' said she.
"'He that believeth in me hath everlasting life; and God don't want our money. He don't want us to pay the debt with money.'
"'What does He want?' said she.
"'He wants our hearts, and won't you trust Him, mamma?'
"This roused the mother at once.
"'Oh, how wicked I have been!' she exclaimed, 'to murmur against the will of the Almighty. I will trust Him, for He has always cared for me in the past, and I will trust Him for the future.'"
I cannot refrain from making a few comments on this case, and drawing a lesson therefrom.
Trust in the Lord, and do good, so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.--Ps. xxxvii. 3.
He hath given meat unto them that fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant.--Ps. cxi. 5.
I will abundantly bless her provision, I will satisfy her poor with bread.--Ps. cxxxii. 15.
He filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.--Ps. cxlvii. 14.
The righteous eateth to the satisfying of his soul.--Proverbs xiii. 25.
Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them: Are ye not much better than they?--Matt. vi. 26.
And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied.--Joel ii. 26.
Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry: Behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty.--Isaiah lxv. 13.
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SUGGESTIVE OBSERVATIONS FOR CHRISTIAN WORKERS.
What a deeply interesting and instructive picture is here presented to our view. Notice the synopsis:
_Destitution._--"_In great want._"--This missionary was sent by God to this house--sent like the raven to Elijah. Man's extremity is God's opportunity. He frequently overrules poverty, and it contributes to the good of His children.
_Discouragement._--Confidence in God's promises, the great panacea for all the difficulties of life. "_Won't you trust Him?_" the child asked.
_Despondency._--This widow was "_very sad_." When there is no bread in the house and the children are clamorous for food, it is enough to produce despondency. But afflicted women should remember that God has promised to be a husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless.
_Despair._--"_No desire to live._"--A sad, very sad condition! When God sends affliction it is our duty _to pray_ and not despair. Amid the gloom of earth's trials, the Holy Spirit alone can cheer; sorrow and despair can be changed, by God's matchless grace, into gratitude and gladness. Newton used to say, when inclined to dark, foreboding feelings:
Begone, unbelief, for my Saviour is near, And for my relief will surely appear; By prayer let me wrestle and he will perform; With Christ in the vessel, I can smile at the storm.
* * * * * *
LIGHT AMID DARKNESS.
_God's Word assures us that a little child shall lead them._--"Mamma, do you know what God says? He that believeth in me hath everlasting life." To behold Christ the light of the world is everlasting life.
_Strong devotion to children will lead us to notice their sayings and doings._--What a beautiful and forcible illustration is this incident recorded by her, the sayings of Christ, "out of the mouth of babes and sucklings he hath perfected praise." God is always doing wonders. He confounds the mighty.
_Children are Christ's best representatives._--To teach the disciples humility he set the child in their midst and said, "Except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven." The day spring from on high visited this family.
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LOVE REMEMBERED BEGETS CONFIDENCE IN GOD.
_I will trust Him for He has always cared for me in the past._--How beautifully appropriate in this connection is the twenty-third Psalm, that we used to sing among the purple heather in the sunny days of childhood with those who have gone home to yonder land of light and love.
The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want. He makes me down to lie In pasture's green; he leadeth me The quiet waters by. My soul he doth restore again And me to walk doth make Within the paths of righteousness Ev'n for his own name's sake. Yea, though I walk in death's dark vale, Yet will I fear none ill, For thou art with me; and thy rod And staff me comfort still. My table thou hast furnished In presence of my foes; My head thou dost with oil anoint, And my cup overflows. Goodness and mercy all my life Shall surely follow me; And in God's house for evermore My dwelling place shall be.
Said an old Christian (a member of my church) seventy-eight years of age, whose dear partner of his joys and sorrows whom I called to see in her deep affliction (for she had fallen and broken a limb), as I read the above psalm to them before engaging in prayer, "I remember when a boy at home of hearing my dear kind mother rocking the children to sleep singing that good old psalm of the Hebrew bard."
I received a telegram recently to call and see a wealthy manufacturer's mother from Ayrshire, who was stricken with paralysis. As I entered the room and took her hand, I said:
"I suppose you feel now in your sickness that the Lord is your shepherd."
"Yes," said she, "and He leadeth me beside the still waters." Shortly afterward she peacefully fell asleep in Jesus.
MISCELLANEOUS EXTRACTS FROM HER DIARY.
Have you heard of that wonderful city, Whose walls are of jasper and gold? Whose inhabitants ever are happy, And never grow weary or old?
Have you heard of those emblems of vict'ry, That all of the glorified bear? Of the star-bedecked crowns of rejoicing Which all of the ransomed shall wear?
HER GRATITUDE TO THE NEW YORK FLOWER MISSION.--In the middle of a busy summer she writes: "The Flower Mission has enabled me to bring some brightness and pleasure to the sufferers on sick beds, for which I am very grateful."
Her ardent love of "sweet, sweet nature" is fully exemplified by frequent visits to the New York Flower Mission Society's Rooms.
How refreshing to the sight of the sufferer are those gifts of earth's adornment. And how pleasing are the words of the poet Burns:
"The snowdrop and primrose the woodlands adorn And the violets they bathe in the weet of the morn."
THE YOUNG JEWESS.--Writing under this head, she says: "Some time since I became acquainted with a young Jewess, who was very sick. I visited her from time to time, carrying her some little comforts and a bouquet of flowers. I also read and prayed with her, which displeased her mother. But ere long her daughter became a Christian, and when I asked her one day if she fully believed in Jesus as her Messiah, she replied, 'Oh, yes.' She always came to church, but being an invalid and dependent on her mother, she could not come out boldly and confess Christ. I have learned since that she has married a Christian man, is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and is a happy woman."
It is quite possible for this young Jewess in her sickness to have been led to the holy cross of Jesus through the missionary's thoughtfulness in bringing sunshine into this sick room by those beautiful and fragrant flowers.
THE FORSAKEN GERMAN WOMAN.--Of this case she states: "A poor woman who had come from Germany not long ago, felt herself forsaken by all, and longed for her old home. Telling her of the love of Christ, she seemed to receive God's word with gratitude, and was very thankful for the little temporal aid I could give her."
The great charm in her life was her almost universal benevolence to all in deep distress. Consider this German woman forsaken and far from her native home. She sighed for
Her dear sweet fatherland, and gazed across the sea, But could not get a blink o' her ain countrie.
Oh! how blessed! truly blessed are those who are thus like minded. Oh! the rich and inestimable value of such a life. Who can really estimate the power of such human affection? It is emphatically real, true, solid, and substantial. How influential! How full of Christ-like generosity! Where can we find one so full of the spirit of her dear master? Her life was spent for the temporal as well as the spiritual welfare of those with whom she was providentially brought in contact.
See how tenderly she _noticed_ the change wrought among her parishioners, after her return from a short respite from her incessant labors. Some were dead, others were sick. To minister to these was her continuous occupation. She felt her days were short, and as she remarked on her own death-bed, "I must finish my work." Hence, short were her intervals of repose. She says:
"The prospects of the poor are beginning to brighten. Some, who have been out of work for some time, have now found employment. In the month of February, of the two hundred families I visited, forty on whom their families were depending for support were without any employment. I have gathered several into the church and the Sabbath-school, as well as the prayer-meeting, which is well attended. God help the poor!"
And again, after a somewhat short respite from her labors, she writes:
"On my return from my vacation, I found many sick, and some had been called away from this life. Mrs. L., whom I had long visited, had fallen asleep in Jesus. Another poor woman who had lost her husband and a darling child was greatly afflicted. She was willing and glad to hear of the Saviour who knows all our sorrows, and has promised to comfort the afflicted with His own presence."
Yes, this is emphatically true. For what sayeth God through the Prophet Isaiah:
"Oh! Israel, fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour. I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Sebia for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life."
A Storm of Starvation, Sickness, and Death.--The Widow's Lament.--A Father and Three Children Rescued.--The Stranger in the City.--"During the last month I have met with a great deal of destitution, many persons out of employment, several families without fire or food, and the most of them had never known want before, but knew not where to apply for aid.
"One poor woman, whose husband was in the Island Hospital, I called to see on the Wednesday before the last great storm. She had just sent her little boy to see his father, and was, with her five children, without fire or food. The day before she had divided her last five cent loaf among them. I immediately went to the Visitor of the district, who gave her groceries and coal, but before she received the aid word came that her husband was dead. She is a Protestant, but has been living in careless neglect of her duty to God. She now became very penitent, and lamented her past life, believing, as she herself affirmed, that God had been afflicting her for her sins. I think I shall be able to get her aid from the Widows' Society.
"Some time ago, visiting in a tenement house, I inquired at one of the doors if there were any children there who did not go to Sabbath-school, and was answered by a boy that he did not go. I then asked him to go to our school. He consented, and on the following Sabbath three of the children came, and since then have induced their father to attend church, and he appears to be one of the most attentive hearers there.
"A few days since I visited the family, and found his wife to be a very interesting woman. As I entered the room, the children told their mother I was from the church. She seemed glad to see me, and told me of the many trials she had met with. She was a stranger in the city, having recently come in from the country, where they had lived in comfort, but since then have been greatly reduced. She wept sore, as she told me that her husband had no employment at present. He looks over the papers every day, but as yet can find no situation. I begged her not to be discouraged, but put her trust in the Lord, and He would not forsake her. She said she felt much encouraged from the interest her husband had taken in matters of religion, and regretted she had never made a profession herself. Before I left I prayed with her, and when I bade her good-by, she put her arms around my neck and wept, saying it was the Lord who sent me to her, and asked me to come soon and often.
"That same evening her husband attended our prayer-meeting, and it was remarked by several present how very attentive and interested he appeared."
Fidelity in the performance of duty is always rewarded by getting assistance from kind Christian friends. The last five cent loaf is divided among the children. It is a terrible picture to study. A storm without, starvation within, and a father sick in the hospital. Can you imagine a more heartrending scene than the one so graphically portrayed by this missionary woman? Picture the moral heroism displayed in her tender appeals for help to this death-stricken household.
Bible illustrations are always the best:
"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over."--Ps. xxiii. 5.
"There is no want to them that fear Him. They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."--Ps. xxxiv. 9-10.
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."--Matt. vi. 33.
"My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."--Phil. iv. 19.
"Godliness with contentment is great gain. Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy."--1 Tim. vi. 6, 17.
"I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on: is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things."--Matt. vi. 25, 30-32.
* * * * * *
DISCOURAGEMENT AND ENCOURAGEMENT.
She begged this woman not to be discouraged, but to put her trust in the Lord. How comforting is the word in this connection, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust."
1. Consider the happiness of those who put their trust in the Lord. Everyone who neglects to do this may reasonably expect that God will hide his face from them.
2. See the benefits that flow from the reciprocal influence of religion. She felt encouraged because her husband was interested in religion.
3. Trials ought to be spiritually discerned. We form a very wrong estimate of religion if we think that God's gifts of grace are invariably conferred upon the prosperous. Many have the smiles of His providence who are not basking in the sunshine of His reconciling countenance.
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IF WE FORSAKE GOD, HE WILL ALSO FORSAKE US.
_She had not discharged her duty to God, etc._--How quickly she recognized the vital importance of discharging duty to God as infinitely superior to all others. Penitence for sin omitted and committed against a holy Being who has purer eyes than to behold iniquity. This thought is put in the foreground; sin brings affliction. Repentance was the first subject selected by John, and Christ himself, to proclaim to the people of Palestine, "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand." Why does it imply simply a change of mind?
_Laments her past life._--Living in the careless neglect of her duty to God, she censures herself, evidently experiencing that Godly sorrow for sin which needeth not to be repented of. How many, alas! sadly neglect to confess and forsake their sin until the setting of life's sun.
_He consented, etc._--The old story-telling with gentle, winning words, at the door of the tenement-house, accompanied with the loving invitation to come to Jesus, are deeply impregnated with never-ceasing influence. Three children and a father persuaded to attend the means of grace on the Sabbath, in God's sanctuary. What a striking reflection of the character of Him who sat weary and way-worn on Jacob's well. Surely a truly devoted missionary of the holy cross of Jesus is an angel on this sin-blighted earth, where, through penury and sorrow, hearts are almost crushed with despair. She is Christ's ambassador.
_Seemed glad to see me, etc._--Why, dear Christian reader? Because she brought rays of heavenly sunshine of God's peace and gratitude and gladness into many a benighted heart; thus inspiring, encouraging, and arousing within the soul blessed remembrances of a covenant-keeping God, even toward His poor, wayward, backsliding children.
What an unspeakable privilege to unbosom one's trials and difficulties into the ear of a faithful servant of God. But ought we not to thank the Father of Light that the throne of grace has been erected, and we are kindly invited to come boldly into His immediate presence, through the rent veil of our Redeemer's flesh, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in every time of need?
Consider the change from comfort in the country to circumstances of cheerlessness in the city. Many make a sad mistake in leaving their country home to come to the city to be crowded in a tenement-house. Drawn thither, perhaps, by the glare and din and bustle, to mingle in the sin and sorrow. She described the woman as weeping sorely. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." What an inexpressible comfort to those who feel their loneliness in the city, then Jesus wept and said that he was friendless and homeless. "He hath trodden the wine-press alone, of the people there was none with him."
Poverty and hunger is a great temptation to a woman in the city. How comforting to know that Christ was tempted in this respect. For we read in God's divinely inspired word:
"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he Had fasted forty days and forty nights, he afterward hungered. And the tempter came and said unto him: If thou art the son of God, command that these stones become bread. But he answered and said: It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him into the holy city; and he set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written,
"He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: And on their hands they shall bear thee up, Lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone.
"Jesus said unto him, Again it is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."--Matt. iv. 68.
To such weary ones we would say, remember the words of the blessed Jesus: "Let not your hearts be troubled," etc., for
I have read of a land whose inhabitants say "I am sick, I am weary," no more, And I pine, 'mid the burdens and heat of the day, For a glimpse of that life-giving shore.
Eye hath not seen it, and ear hath not heard, Yet all my spirit with longing is stirred; Oh, glory exceeding my heart's utmost pleading! Eternal, eternal the weight of thy bliss!
_On Resisting Temptation._--Thomas A. Kempis says: So long as we live in this world we cannot be without tribulation and temptation.
Hence it is written in Job, "The life of man upon earth is a life of temptation."
Every one therefore ought to be careful about his temptations, and to watch in prayer, lest the devil find an advantage to deceive him; for he never sleepeth, but goeth about, seeking whom he may devour.
No man is so perfect and holy, but he hath sometimes temptations, and we cannot be altogether without them.
Nevertheless temptations are often very profitable to us, though they be troublesome and grievous; for in them a man is humbled, purified, and instructed.
All the Saints passed through man's tribulations and temptations, and profited thereby.
And they that could not bear temptations, became reprobate, and fell away.
There is no order so holy, nor place so secret, as that there be not temptations, or adversities in it.
There is no man that is altogether free from temptations whilst he liveth on earth: for the root thereof is in ourselves, who are born with inclination to evil.
When one temptation or tribulation goeth away, another cometh; and we shall ever have something to suffer, because we are fallen from the state of our felicity.
Many seek to fly temptations, and fall more grievously into them.
By flight alone we cannot overcome, but by patience and true humility we become stronger than all our enemies.
He that only avoideth them outwardly, and doth not pluck them up by the roots, shall profit little; yea, temptations will the sooner return unto him, and will be more violent than before.
By little and little, and by the very beginning, unlearn evil habits, lest perhaps by little and little they draw thee to greater difficulty.
Oh! if thou didst but consider how much inward peace unto thyself, and joy unto others, thou wouldst procure by demeaning thyself well, I think that thou wouldst be more careful of thy spiritual progress.
_Of the Profit of Adversity._--It is good that we have sometimes some troubles and crosses; for they often make a man enter into himself, and consider that he is here in banishment, and ought not to place his trust in any worldly thing.
It is good that we be sometimes contradicted, and that men think ill or inadequately; and this, although we do and intend well.
These things help often to the attaining of humility, and defend us from vain glory: for then we are more inclined to seek God for our inward witness, when outwardly we be contemned by men, and when there is no credit given unto us.
And therefore a man should settle himself so fully in God, that he needs not to seek many comforts of men.
When a good man is afflicted, tempted, or troubled with evil thoughts, then he understandeth better the great need he hath of God, without whom he perceiveth he can do nothing that is good.
Then also he sorroweth, lamenteth, and prayeth, by reason of the miseries he suffereth.
Then he is weary of living longer, and wisheth that death would come, that he might depart and be with Christ.
Then also he well perceiveth, that perfect security and full peace cannot be had in this world.
_Before I left, I prayed with her._--This brings before us another very touching scene in the life of St. Paul. His final farewell to the elders of Ephesus. When he had spoken unto them he kneeled down and prayed with them all. And they all wept sore and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him. Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they should see his face no more, and they accompanied him unto the ship. If this course was persistently pursued by all Christian workers how manifold would be the blessings conferred on our labors. It would be found that many a poor sin-burdened heart would be instantly relieved of its load of care. For "if we ask, we shall receive."
We are called upon, not to go forth in our own name, or in our own strength, but in the name of Him who said, "Lo! I am with you alway, even to the end of the world;" and when one reflects on the many sad scenes and circumstances with which she was constantly surrounded, we ought to thank God that in every age of the Christian Church, he has raised up men and women who were willing to go with the name of Jesus to the distressed and dying, and to speak that name in all its living power.
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A MOTHER AND DAUGHTER GIVEN A BIBLE AND ITS RESULT.
Of this incident she writes: "A woman and her daughter, whom I have been visiting for some time, and to whom I have given a Bible, have become greatly changed, and attended our place of worship last Sabbath. They gave evidence of having been very deeply impressed. The mother said, with the Lord helping her, she will live no longer as she has done. This woman has been greatly tried. On the day of the great storm, her husband left Washington, where he had been employed some time, and has never since been heard of. He was her only means of support, as the rest of the family were out of employment. Her daughter is a very interesting young woman, and would like a situation as seamstress and nurse. I would have no fear in recommending her to any one who might need her services."
Notice, 1. That love and reverence for God's Word inspires one with a desire to distribute the Sacred Scriptures. There are various reasons for this. In the first place, because of the moral influence the revealed will of God has had on the world. When we think of the benign and salutary influence of the Bible by its circulation throughout the length and breadth of the land, nay, all lands, by the British and Foreign Bible Society, and the American Bible Society, we have great reason to rejoice at the marvellous success that has attended their labors. Surely it is indited by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It has been transmitted to us, from generation to generation, unaltered and uninjured; the simple yet sublime boon--God's loving letters to mankind.
"What glory gilds the sacred page! Majestic like the sun! It gives a light to every age; It gives but borrows none."
"The power that gave it still supplies The gracious light and heat; Its truth upon the nations rise; They rise but never set!"
In the beginning was the Word. _Christ is the Word._ It giveth light. Read His power in the Gospel. Notice the connection between natural light and spiritual faith in Christ.
"And as they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed Christ. And behold two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, Lord, have mercy on us, thou son of David. And the multitude rebuked them, that they should hold their peace; but they cried out the more, saying, Lord, have mercy on us thou son of David. And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I should do unto you? They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. And Jesus being moved with compassion touched their eyes, and straightway they received their sight and followed him."
2. The infinite superiority of the Divine Word to that of all earthly traditions, and the best literary productions is best judged by results. The works of Plato, Lycurgus, Demosthenes, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Milton, Scott, Burns, Bryant, and Longfellow are not for one moment to be compared to the Bible. When Scott, the great writer, was departing life, he turned to his son-in-law, Lockhart, and said:
"Bring me the Book."
"What book?" asked Lockhart.
"There is but one Book--the Bible!" was the reply. What spiritual and spontaneous enthusiasm in Divine things are stirred within us when we read the sacred pages.
Now turn to the picture painted by her who is now with the redeemed on high; she says:
"_After receiving the Bible they were greatly changed, and attended our place of worship on the Sabbath._ They gave evidence of being now deeply impressed." What impressed them? Two things worthy of notice: 1. The Word. 2. The Worship. Now, there are some people who imagine that they can go to heaven if they stay at home and read the Bible. This is all very well in its place, but we must not forget the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is. Some try to live a Christian life outside of the Church. This is a sad mistake.
STRUGGLES AND TRIUMPHS.
Oh! land of the blessed, thy shadowless skies Sometimes in my dreaming I see: I hear the glad songs that the glorified sing Steal over eternity's sea.
Though dark are the shadows that gather between, I know that thy morning is fair; I catch but a glimpse of thy glory and light, And whisper. Would God I were there!
O Saviour, prepare my spirit to share Forever with thee those mansions fair.
There is never a day so dreary but God by his Holy spirit can illumine the darkness by revealing to the Christian the home beyond the flood. "He giveth to his beloved songs in the night." There is no pathway in life so intricate but what if we ask divine guidance He will give it. There are crosses in this brief life, that must be carried patiently and joyfully until the end of the journey. Oh! how comforting is the thought that in all our afflictions Christ was afflicted, and the angel of His presence strengthened Him. Those hands that were nailed to the Cross on Calvary, are constantly stretched out to assist the way-worn traveller up the rugged road of life. There never was a human heart so crushed and broken by the sorrows of earth but what Christ can heal, for that heart that was broken on Golgotha pants and heaves toward earth's sufferers. How beautifully expressive is the paraphrase:
"Though now ascended up on high, He bends on earth a brother's eye."
The tender watch care of the God of Israel is the same to-day as it was when Ruth, the Moabitess, said unto Naomi: "Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of corn after him in whose sight I shall find grace." And she said unto her: Go, my daughter. And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers, and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz.... And, behold! Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers: "The Lord be with you." (Ruth ii. 2-4.) In this whole narrative we behold the law of loving kindness of Jehovah strikingly exemplified through His own covenanted people. He reveals, in a marvellous manner, His grace and goodness to thousands of them that love Him and keep His commandments. Hence, the virtue of every benevolent transaction lies in the motive by which we are actuated. As Paul says: "The love of Christ constrains us." Whatever we give, whatever God's children do for the alleviation of the sorrows and sufferings of earth, they do it with an eye single to His glory, they continually hear Christ's voice saying unto them: "This do in remembrance of me."
We see these principles practically illustrated in the wonderful experience of her whose struggles and triumphs for the blessed Christ we are now prayerfully considering. For example, in February, 1874, she writes:
"Through the kindness of those interested in the poor, I have been enabled to supply the wants of many. One kind lady, belonging to the Bible Society, gave me ten dollars, part to assist one family with fuel and groceries, and the rest for another, where the husband had been ill for a long time, and finding it difficult to obtain employment, had been suffering for the common necessaries of life. I also received orders from this lady for coal and groceries, for other poor families, to be obtained through the visitors of the poor.
"In one home where I placed some provisions on the table, a little boy said to his mother, 'Mamma, mustn't you get down and pray, and thank God for these things?' When I enter some of these homes they are full of sadness and gloom, but I am often thankful to feel I leave hope and cheerfulness behind me, when I go away. In the greater number of these families it is want of employment that causes the trouble--they are willing and anxious to work, but it cannot be procured.
"One family, consisting of a husband, wife, and three children, the youngest ten days old, was found very destitute. They had parted with even every article of clothing, except what they had on, and had neither fuel nor food. The poor woman wept as she said, 'She had never before known such destitution.' I gave them some relief, and then engaged in prayer with them. They were both much affected, and said it was the first time a prayer had ever been offered in that house by any one. I sent them some coal, and procured other relief for them, and now they are comfortable, the man having obtained some work.
"Another family, in which there are two children (the father dying of consumption--the mother very delicate), are wholly dependent on charity. The woman is very industrious, and always ready to do what she can, but it is hard to procure employment. I have read and talked with the man, after supplying their temporal wants, and especially impressed upon him the promise, 'Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name it shall be given to you.' He listened--had been thinking of his past life--but he said all seemed dark to him. I have prayed with him, and he thought light broke in upon him. He said, 'He saw more clearly,' and after some days professed to be happy. And now, while the tears rolled down his cheeks, he says, 'I am willing to go and (looking around on the little circle) resign all these into the arms of Jesus.' I prayed with him before I left.
"A friend asked me to go and see a poor sick woman in the same destitute circumstances, the husband being out of work. A sad sight met my eyes; the poor woman lay coughing on the bed, as if she could not last much longer, the children standing by the bed, dirty and uncared for; the floor black, window curtain hanging in rags, while the mother could do nothing. They receive one dollar a week from the Poor Association. I assisted her, and promised to look to the children; talked with her and then read and prayed. She clasped my hand as I arose from my knees and said, 'You are the first person who ever prayed with me; oh! it makes me happy, and I hope God will hear your prayers.' Trial seems to open the hearts of these poor ones to religious impressions.
"A few days since, visiting a little girl (belonging to a Catholic family) who is in our Sewing-school, the mother put her hand in her pocket and took out some change, saying, 'This is all the money I have at present, take it and use it for the poor; I wish it was a great deal more, and,' she added, 'when you find any one hungry and wanting a loaf of bread, come to me, and I will give you some money; my little girl often tells me what you say to her in the Sewing-school, or when you meet her in the street.' Thus I receive encouragement on every side, and am never in want of some aid for those who need it so much. My dear friend, who was removed from me by death last summer, often used to say, 'Never fear, Mrs. Knowles, when the Lord takes away one support, he raises another.' And so I have found it. My Superintendent is always ready to assist, and our Sewing-school, aided by her and other ladies, is very prosperous. Perhaps _want_ may drive many to us, but we trust they will be also benefited by the instruction there received, and carry the lessons home.
"One poor woman gave me a dollar for a Bible I left with her some months since. 'For,' she says, 'the Lord has blessed her since she has begun to read it.' Another poor woman paid 25 cents for one, for 'she wanted it in the house for the good of the children.' And two others were also sold.
"A number of children have been brought to Sabbath-school, and several induced to attend church. In beginning a New Year, I trust increased devotion to the work will bring on added blessing."
How tenderly and lovingly she notes the kind lady who gave her the ten dollars for the sick family whose prop and stay was out of employment.
Those who are familiar with the sad sights of want and woe in all our large cities, will be able to appreciate the naturalness of the foregoing description of missionary work among the poor and lowly.
Shakespeare's account of a complete lady lacks one essential qualification, _benevolence_. He says:
"If lusty love should go in quest of beauty, Where should he find it fairer than in Blanch? If zealous love should go in search of virtue, Where should he find it purer than in Blanch? If love ambitious sought a match of birth, Whose veins bound richer blood than Lady Blanch?"
What a magnificent portrait is here drawn of truly rounded, symmetrically developed Christian womanhood, and true ladyship is here pencilled in the diary of the departed. There are some women who win men toward them by their wonderful conversational powers. They can talk by the hour; but when you approach them on the question of finance, for the cause of Home or Foreign Missions, they are like the colored man who was a great talker and a lusty singer, but a very poor giver, and when the collection box was being passed around, he closed his eyes and kept on singing, "Roll, Gospel, roll;" when the deacon put the box under his nose, and said, "I say, Brother Sam, what are you gwine to give to make the Gospel roll around the world?" The distinction is very positively affirmed by Christ between those who will be at the last on his right hand, and those on his left, by the "inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me." I remember once during the same year in which the circumstances we are now commenting on transpired, of calling upon a friend, a broker in Wall Street of this city, and after some general conversation about Christian work, he called me into his rear office and said:
"How are you getting along financially?"
"Well," I said, "I am able to keep my head above water."
"Ah!" he replied, "I have been watching you in your work, and want to make you a present of fifty dollars for your immediate wants."
I looked upon him with astonishment and exclaimed:
"How is it, my friend, you can be so kind to me, as I am a comparative stranger to you?"
"Well," he said, "I believe you are doing the Lord's work, and I feel that all the money belongs unto Him, and I am only his steward."
What is the ultimate design of Christ knocking at the door of the heart? Is it not that we may be like Him? He gave himself for us. Can we then withhold our alms to the poor? He may take His departure, and we may receive in our hearts the spirit of avariciousness and selfishness. I am sure if any of the ladies connected with the New York Bible Society will read the simple story of God's dealings with this missionary woman, their hearts will swell with great gratitude and gladness, to think that God enabled them to contribute of their substance to the poor and needy, through this humble worker in the master's vineyard. Let us ever remember that we are under peculiar obligations to God for _all_ we have and all we so richly enjoy. Our true condition is one of absolute subserviency and absolute dependence. We are not our own, we are bought with a price, even the peace-speaking blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our hand must clothe the humble poor, Our store the hungry feed. Our homes the stranger must receive And shelter in his need; Each others burdens we must bear, Each others faults forgive, And thus in perfect peace with all, And perfect union, live.
What an astonishing amount of pathos is manifested in the joyous outbursts of gratitude and thankfulness in the heart of this boy when their wants were supplied, indicated by his child-like words: "Mamma, mustn't you get down and pray, and thank God for all these things?" Absorbed in serious reflection, he instantly and spontaneously recognized God as "the giver of every good and perfect gift, the father of lights with whom there is no variableness, nor the least shadow of turning." Surely out of the mouths of babes and sucklings He hath perfected praise. It is remarkable how quickly children recognize heavenly things. Train up a child in the way it should go, and when it is old it will not depart from it. The early desire to pray deeply, implanted in the tender breast by the mother, can never be obliterated.
LEADING SOULS TO CHRIST.
Hark! through Nature's vast cathedral, Blended echoes ever rise, Swelling in a mighty anthem To its overarching skies.
Every great and noble action Is re-echoed o'er and o'er; Life itself is but an echo Of the lives that were before.
Our daily life ought to be an echo of the life of Christ. Just as God is in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto man his trespasses, so the great aim of the Christian ought to be to lead souls to Jesus. The Rev. Dr. W. M. Taylor, of the Broadway Tabernacle, tells the story of how, when Hector was going to his last battle, and his wife Andromache accompanied him as far as the gates of the city, they were followed by a nurse carrying in her arms their infant child. When he was about to depart, Hector held out his hands to receive the little one, but, terrified by the burnished helmet, and the waving plume, the child turned away and clung, crying, to his nurse's neck. In a moment, divining the cause of the infant's alarm, the warrior took off his helmet and laid it on the ground, and then, smiling through his tears, the little fellow leaped into his father's arms. Now, similarly, Jehovah of hosts, Jehovah with his helmet on, would frighten us weak guilty ones away; but in the person of the Lord Jesus He has laid that helmet off, and now the guiltiest and the neediest are encouraged to go to His fatherly embrace and avail themselves of His support.
Under date of February, 1875, Mrs. Knowles writes that she has been successful, during the past two months, in bringing many persons to attend church, and a number of children to the Sabbath-schools; and she adds:
"I am much encouraged by the attention paid to the reading of the Scriptures. I have also made many hearts glad by supplying their families with food and clothing, and at some places where I have not given anything, and have referred to it, I have been answered with:
"'You have done a great deal for us by teaching us to trust in the Lord.'"
Thought ought to operate between two limits--the one of time, the other of eternity.
The Sabbath-school and the Church are inseparably linked with earth and heaven. "Train up a child in the way it should go, and when it is old it will not depart from it." The first book put into my hand when a boy, in the public school of my native land, was the Bible. And the first book I had to study in the Sabbath-school was the Shorter Catechism. These two books have exerted a benign and salutary influence on my whole life. Now, what the study of mathematics is to the intellect by disciplining and imparting the power to reason consecutively, thus tranquillizing the judgment by furnishing demonstrative knowledge, even so the sermons heard in the House of God, and the lessons taught in the Sabbath-school, and all the outward spiritual truth conveyed to the heart of the hearer, quickens the soul into newness of life; hence the injunction of the Apostle:
"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;)
"And let us consider one another, to provoke unto love, and to good works:
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.
"But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
"He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses."
Her chief delight was to lead men, women, and children to the house of God. It does not seem strange, therefore, when we find the foregoing emphatic declaration in her diary: "_I am much encouraged by the attention paid to the reading of the Scriptures._" This is the glorious result of getting people first to attend to the means of grace in the sanctuary on the Lord's day. How greatly cheered she must have been in her work to hear the welcome words: "_You have done a great deal for us, by teaching us to_ TRUST IN GOD."
What is God's estimate of those who trust in Him? Here the mind is forever set at rest. He proffers innumerable blessings to those who _confide_ in Him, and we will, right now and here, give our attention to a few of the many precious promises by which God richly entertains his children:
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee; trust ye in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."--Isa. xxvi. 3-4.
"He that putteth his trust in me, shall possess the land, and inherit my holy mountain."--Isa. lvii. 13.
"Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."--Jer. xvii. 7-8.
THE DYING MOTHER AND THE INTEMPERATE HUSBAND.
I know there are realms where the voices of song Never cease 'neath a burden of tears. And I seek, 'mid earth-discord, the sound of a strain, Falling sweet from those radiant spheres.
We scarcely ever knew of a more _touching_ account of a dying mother, than the following graphic narrative:
"One poor woman whom I mentioned before has just died. Surrounded as she was by Romanists, she stood firm in the belief in which she had been instructed by her father in her youth. Some time since I took her little girl to Sabbath-school, and a short time ago her teacher found her earnestly seeking Christ. She has since given good evidence of being a Christian, and has united with the church. I was the only friend visiting the mother during her last illness, whom she desired to come to read and pray with her. She mourned over much of her past life, but had much to contend with from those around her. A few days before she died she said, 'she would be better soon.' I asked her what she meant. She answered, 'When I go to be with Jesus;' but she added, 'Who will see to my little girl?' I told her I would. Once again I saw her; she was composed and at peace, saying, 'She would soon be at home.'"
See how she pictures the intense solicitude of the mother after her child, in the loving and sweet inquiry (so faithfully remembered and carefully recorded), "Who will see to my little girl?" See her quiet and Christ-like spontaneous response, that she would. Here we are forcibly reminded of a scene in New Testament times. In the ninth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles we read:
"Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which, by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms-deeds which she did.
"And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
"And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.
"Then Peter arose, and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made while she was with them."
The last part of her diary is extremely touching. But this sorrowful sight presented to our view is only one of the many that frequently occur in a city like New York. They harrow the refined feelings of the faithful missionary. If such scenes are so distressing, what must have been the experience of Him who was made sin for us, and who daily mingled with sinners. He who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Let her tell her own story.
"A few days since I visited a woman whose husband had beaten her till she was almost helpless. She told me about his coming to her with a knife, and expected he would have taken her life. She asked me to engage in prayer with her. He sat by, apparently unmoved. When I was leaving, he asked me to forgive him. I told him it was not me he must ask; he must go to God for forgiveness. It was distressing to see the poor wife, as she asked me what she must do, as she had no friend on earth but me. I then spoke to the husband; he said he was very sorry he had acted so badly, and would _drink no more_. I intend getting him to sign the pledge, which he says he will do.
"The evils of intemperance meet us in so many ways, we often feel discouraged, and yet at times a case occurs which bids us _work on_ and hope on. The man mentioned above from that time continued to refrain from drink, and has treated his wife well ever since. She wept with gratitude as she told me, a few evenings since, that he came in and handed her all his money as he had received it for work, never having opened it. She could never forget the day when I came in and found almost everything in the room broken to pieces, and his promise which he faithfully made to me that he would _try and do right_."
Eternity alone will reveal to our astonished gaze the number of forlorn and sad hearts that were made to rejoice in the pardoning mercy of God through her weak instrumentality.
How comforting is the thought that His word shall not return unto Him void, but it will accomplish that which He please, and prosper in the thing wherein he hath sent it. "It either proves the saviour of life unto life, or of death unto death." If we harden our hearts in the day of affliction we grieve the Holy Spirit away from us. But sickness and penury properly received soften the heart and lead to repentance and transformation of life. Here is a practical illustration of this truth:
"Another family I found, with two children lying ill with diphtheria. They were living in a basement room, and were very poor. The father had been out of work for some time, and the mother's sewing had supported the family, but now her time was taken up with attending to the sick children. I provided some nourishment, and the next time I called, the mother was lying ill with typhoid fever. A poor woman was taking care of them, risking her own life and that of her own children, and another poor neighbor had taken home the third child to preserve it from infection. They had but little covering, and I procured what was needed from the Home of the Friendless, and a dear friend gave me a bundle of clothing for them. They have since recovered, and having a friend who owned a tenement-house, I spoke to her about them, and they are now removed there, and are quite comfortable. Our kind ladies who assist us at the sewing-school having sent us some turkeys for distribution at Christmas I was able to furnish them with one; and better still, the husband has obtained employment. They say they never will forget the time when they had nothing, and now they have _everything so comfortable_. They seem to feel it came from God."
Yes, He is the giver of every good and perfect gift, the Father of lights with whom there is no variableness nor the least shadow of turning. Without this perception and unless we return to God our grateful acknowledgments, we cannot truly enjoy His blessings from above. If God makes us the happy recipients of His favors it is our bounden duty to return to him our heartfelt gratitude. This was the feeling of the Psalmist when he said:
"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
"Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
"Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies;
"Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's."
HELP AND LOVING KINDNESS.
Oh, give Thine own sweet rest to me That I may speak with soothing power A word in season, as from Thee, To weary ones in needful hour.
That Mrs. Matilda Knowles, our _beau ideal_ missionary, possessed a thankful heart, we glean from her diary. She gives a deeply interesting account of the recognition, on her part, of the gentle and generous loving-kindnesses of those ladies who heartily co-operated with her in lifting the burden of sin, sorrow, and sadness from poor suffering humanity. She writes at the close of 1875, thus:
"Our sewing-school kept its usual festival, thanks to our kind ladies, Mrs. Harper, with Mrs. Fiske, and their friends, who supplied us liberally, and made many very happy. I have also, through the generosity of friends, been able to _aid_ and even _supply_ the wants of many who are in need, and I trust, in beginning a New Year, I may be able to work even more earnestly than ever before."
 Wife of Mr. Fletcher Harper, of Harper Brothers, publishers, Franklin Square, New York.
This wealthy and inestimable lady (Mrs. F. Harper) has also recently entered into her rest and reward. We are glad to know, however, that her daughter has taken up all her mother's work, as the following communication will testify:
"LAUREL HOUSE, LAKEWOOD, N.J., February 21, 1887.
"REV. DUNCAN M. YOUNG,
"DEAR SIR: I regret that I shall not be in New York for perhaps a couple of months, and therefore cannot see you in regard to the subject of Mrs. Knowles' work. She assisted my dear mother for many years in the Industrial School, and was greatly honored and beloved by all connected with her in that work.
"I do not think I can give you any information that you do not already know, in regard to Mrs. Knowles; but if I knew a little more as to what were your plans and desires in regard to getting out a book from her notes, I might consider what I could do. In any case, it can be only in a very slight degree that I am able to aid, as I have taken up Mrs. F. Harper's work in all directions, as well as my own. Any further communication addressed here will reach me.
"Very sincerely yours,
"MRS. D. H. SIBLEY."
In our correspondence for the Master we are reminded of two things, first, the letter sent by the beloved disciple, John, in his second epistle:
"The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
"For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever:
"Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
"I rejoiced greatly, that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
"And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
"And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it."
And second, her place of residence for her health is the scene of our former labors for the Lord. In the vicinity of Lakewood we held revival services, and preached every night to a crowded house for over two months. Among those who were led to Christ was a physician and his wife, three public school-teachers, and two brothers--young men--one of them is now a minister of the gospel, the other the editor of a Temperance paper in the city of Philadelphia. But we are rapidly travelling to eternity, and these will, we know, be among the fruits of our labor. Still, we have to watch for souls and the bringing in of a brighter and better day, when one need not say to the other, "Know ye the Lord?" for all shall know Him from the least even to the greatest. "When the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the channels of the great deep."
How beautiful and descriptive are the words of Mackay in his "Watcher on the Tower," that points to the time when, through the labors of His servants, truth shall be triumphant, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away:
It breaks, it comes, the misty shadows fly, A rosy radiance gleams upon the sky; The mountain-tops reflect it calm and clear; The plain is yet in shade, but day is near.
REACHING THE HEART.
Jesus, let me thus be waiting, Full of hope, and love, and zeal Let Thy coming, to my spirit, Be a hope divine and real.
Dr. Hanna once said: "The heart is an interpreter. It is not in the intellect, it is in the conscience, in the heart, that the finest, most powerful organs of spiritual vision lie. There are seals that cover up many passages and pages of the Bible which no light or fire of genius can dissolve; there are hidden riches here that no labor of mere learned research can get at and spread forth. But those seals melt like the snow-wreath beneath the warm breathings of desire and prayer, and those riches drop spontaneously into the bosom of the humble and the contrite, the poor and the needy."
The great President Edwards, in his admirable work on the affections, declares that that religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak and lifeless inclinations raised but a little above a state of indifference. God, in His word, insists upon it, that we should be in earnest, fervent in spirit, and having our hearts vigorously engaged in religion. "And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him; and to serve the Lord thy God with _all thy heart_ and with all thy soul." "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live."--Deut. xxx. 6.
The primary object of the successful worker then is to reach the hearts of the parents through the children, constantly remembering the divinely inspired words, "that a little child shall lead them." Let the following extracts from her pen speak for themselves:
"During the last month I have made two hundred and five visits, and brought eight children to the Sunday-school. I often find if we can gain the affection of the children it opens a way to the parent's hearts. For example: On entering a room one day, I asked if they had a Bible. The father, a rough-looking man, said, 'We have no money to buy Bibles--we need all our money to get something to eat.' 'Oh,' said I, 'if you have not the means to buy one I will give you one for nothing.' 'If I get it for nothing, I will thank you for it.' I took him one the next day; he thanked me very politely, and said, 'I will read it.' I handed the little girl a tract, in which was a picture of a child kneeling in prayer. The father seemed pleased, and before leaving, I said to the child, 'Now, my dear, if you learn to do as that little girl does, God will love you.' She looked up and said, 'Yes, ma'am.' When I called a few days after, the father said, 'My little girl did not forget her promise to you. Every night and morning she kneels down and prays, and thinks we should all do the same. I have been reading in the Bible. It tells us a great many good things, and when I get some clothes I shall try and come to church.'"
* * * * * *
We must form our opinion of aggressive work for Christ by the fruits that are produced. The pictorial tract put into the hands of the little girl, and her subsequent conduct, elicited the attention of that rough-looking father, and oh, what a blessed testimony to the power of divine grace in the parental statement, "Every night and morning she kneels down and prays, and thinks we should all do the same." It is evident that children feel the full force of the words of the apostle:
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living; way, which he hath consecrated for us through the vail, that is to say, his flesh; and having a high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."
* * * * * *
"In another place," she writes, "where I visit, the father keeps a dining saloon, and sells liquor. His daughter is in our Sunday-school, and he always appears glad when I call. 'You are the only one,' he says, 'who comes to do me good; I hope you will be blessed in your work; go up-stairs and see my daughter. _She is a lady_,' he added, 'although brought up in this way.' I generally read and pray with her, and as I left her the last time, she said, 'I hope I shall not always have to live in this way.' Her father was at the door as I came down-stairs; he met me, saying, 'May the Lord bless you. Come as often as you can; I would like to live a different life!' The daughter is pleasing, and mourns still for her mother, who died three years since."
* * * * * *
"Christ said I came not to send peace on earth but a sword." Now the word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. The key of knowledge of the depravity of the heart is furnished the liquor dealer in the above interview, by the concession, "_I would like to live a different life._" The saloon keepers generally attribute their remaining in the business to the necessity of it in order to obtain a livelihood. But there are other occupations in which they could be diligently employed in order to maintain their families. Imagine a frail, aged, weak woman, cheerfully bringing gospel light into these dark dens of iniquity. It has been wisely said that the organ of pluck and perseverance has been prominently developed in the weaker sex from time immemorial, as in the case of Joan of Arc, Jennie Mac Rae, and the noble band of Christian workers connected with the Women's Christian Temperance Union of this country. The power of womanly kindness is indescribable. Hence we must ever remember that God has chosen the poor and weak things of this world to confound the mighty.
But to return to the diary. Here we find her intensely interested in a poor blind girl, for she writes, in November of this year, the following:
"About three years since, a young girl, a Roman Catholic, who was then a pupil at the Institution for the Blind, was brought to my notice. She became deeply interested in the Bible, and afterward embraced the Protestant faith, and since that time has continued firm in her belief and practice. She remained at the Institution until the end of the term, which expired in June. It was now necessary for her to seek another home. She was taken to the house of a relative, who insisted on her going to confession. This she refused, and was on this account rendered homeless. It was a source of great anxiety to know how to provide for her. The girl was sincere, evidently willing, 'not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for His sake.' Her case was stated to some ladies who felt an interest in her, and although they could not give her a home, they kindly assisted in paying her board; other friends to whom the case was made known did the same, and she is now learning a trade by which we hope she will soon earn enough for her own support. Her employer speaks well of her, and considers her very industrious.
"Another case is that of a family who took no interest in the subject of religion. They had a little daughter eight years of age, who loved to sing of Jesus, and would always sit still to listen to the reading of Scripture. One day she urged her mother to give her the baby, who was eighteen months old, as _her own_. The mother laughed, and said: 'You cannot take care of yourself; what will you do with him?' But she continued urging her request that the child might be given to her, until at last her mother said: 'Jimmy is yours.' 'Well,' said the child, 'if he is mine, I will take him wherever I go.' Soon after both children were taken sick, and both died, and were buried at the same time. This made a great impression on the minds of their parents; their hearts have been softened, and they now listen with attention to the words of truth, and we trust they may be led to follow the dear Saviour, who so loved their little ones, that He gathered them into his fold."
* * * * * *
The death of loved ones frequently softens the heart. A few days ago, I buried a dear, sweet girl belonging to the Sabbath-school, only sixteen years of age. At the funeral service a man who had been formerly an infidel was completely broken down. Why? because his little boy was taken regularly to the school by this girl, and he inquired of his father, "Now that Fannie is dead, and has gone to be with Jesus, who will take me to the school?" The father responded, and said, "I will." Ever since the father takes him there, and now attends the services at the church.
WINTER LIFE AND SCENES.
Shall He come and find me standing From the worldling's joy apart, Outside of its mirth and folly, With a true and loyal heart?
On one occasion, in reference to a severe winter, she writes: "This has been the hardest winter I have known for years." The winters in New York are sometimes very severe. And here we are reminded of Thomson's vivid description of it in his "Seasons." He prefixes it with this wonderful prayer:
"Father of light and life! thou God supreme! O, teach me what is good! teach me Thyself! Save me from folly, vanity, and vice, From every low pursuit! and feed my soul With knowledge, conscious peace and virtue pure; Sacred substantial, never-fading bliss!"
"SNOW MANTLES THE EARTH. DISTURBS THE COMFORT OF MANKIND.
"The keener tempests rise; and fuming down From all the livid east, or piercing north, Thick clouds ascend; in whose capacious womb A vapory deluge lies, to snow congealed. Heavy they roll their fleecy world along, And the sky saddens with the gathered storm."
We all know that a northwest snow-storm in this city is very cold and biting. But amid the blinding snow-drift this woman could be seen wending her way to homes of want, poverty, and wretchedness.
In order to recognize and appreciate her labors we have only to contrast her aims and aspirations with another and far different class that abound in all large cities, so graphically described by Pollock:
Ah! little think the gay licentious proud, When pleasure, power, and affluence surround; Ah! little think they of the sad variety of pain: How many pine in want; how many bleed, How many pine, how many drink the cup Of baleful grief, or eat the bitter bread Of misery; sore pierced by wintry winds.
Amid all such sad scenes this heroine bids us labor on in faith, and she adds, "_Our labor will not be in vain._" No, never! "For, they that go forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shall _doubtless_ return again rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them."
What is faith? Faith is simply taking God at His word. Paul, in the eleventh chapter of the Hebrews, reveals to us the victories God's people obtained through faith. There is often something startling to our sluggish spirits by a critical examination of the almost incredible account of the power of faith. How tremendously efficacious. Oh! that the Holy Spirit may reveal to us its vast importance.
"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
"By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
"And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jepthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
"Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
"Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
"Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
"And others had trial of _cruel_ mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
"They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
"(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise;
"God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."
To lift with tender pitying hand, Sin's victims, from the dust; Reproach them not, nor chide their wrong, Be kind as well as just; A word may touch a sleeping chord Of mem'ry pure and sweet, And bring them, sorry for their sins, To bow at Jesus' feet.
Go, seek them out--poor, wand'ring sheep, That on the mountain cold, Are hungry--starving now for bread-- Go, lead them to the fold; There comes a cheering thought to those Who toil in patient love-- Each soul reclaimed shall be a star To deck their crown above.
If we but prayerfully consider the sad condition of the unregenerate, and the innumerable antagonistic diabolical influences to which they are constantly exposed, we will be able to accurately understand the nature and importance of a city missionary's work, and the great need there is of giving heed to the injunction of the Master, "Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves." There are few vices which cannot be conquered by the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Here the reader will behold this illustrated, for she writes again:
"In many places I have found it distressing to visit, the destitution being so great; but through the assistance of kind friends, I have been able to assist them in various ways, and thus have found a way to their hearts, and they gladly receive me in many houses, and listen with great attention to reading and prayer. One poor woman whom I found, had been ill for some weeks, and while ministering to her temporal wants I have not neglected her spiritual needs. She seems truly awakened to the sinfulness of her past life, and feels her need of Christ. She begged me to visit her daughter and try to influence her. I have spent some happy seasons in that attic-room, and when I leave she puts her arms around me, kissing me, and asking me to come again.
"A man asked me for a Testament, saying he wanted to read it for himself. I gave him one, and on visiting him again, he said, 'I have been reading your book, and like it so very much, I will pay you for it;' and he handed me a dollar.
"Notwithstanding this has been the hardest winter I have known for years, I have been much encouraged in my work, having been enabled to help every deserving family I have met with; and one, where I have been visiting for years without being able to induce them to attend church, have now been brought in, and have united with the church, both mother and daughter rejoicing in the Saviour, and feeling they have never known happiness before. Let us, therefore, labor on in faith, and our labor will not be in vain."
CIRCULATING THE SCRIPTURES.
O land of the blessed, thy hills of delight Sometimes on my vision unfold; Thy mansions celestial, thy palaces bright, Thy bulwarks of jasper and gold.
Dear voices are chanting thy chorus of praise, Dear eyes in thy sunlight are fair; I look from my valley of shadow below, And whisper: Would God I were there.
Amid the toil and sufferings of earth, how comforting is the assurance in our hearts that Jesus is preparing a place for his people. O, how cheering, when we can adopt the language in the song of Solomon, and say:
"My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies. Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether."
It will not be long before we will be done with the cares and vicissitudes of life, and enter into that "Rest that remains for the people of God." I am sure that in the midst of her toil, she ever found joy in the hope that one day she would be forever with the Lord. She had indeed laid up treasures in heaven, and her earnest desire evidently was, not to go to heaven alone, but to take some others with her. This was the joy of her life. Like the Master who, for the joy that was set before Him, endures the cross. Hence she enjoyed a uniform experience of peace, although she witnessed many a sorrowful sight. A late writer, the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, has well observed:
"Joy will reach farthest out to sea where troubled mariners are seeking the shore. Even in your deepest griefs you can rejoice in God. As waves phosphoresce, let joys flash from the swing of the sorrow of your souls. Low measures of feeling are better than ecstacies for ordinary life. God sends His rains in gentle drops, else flowers would be beaten to pieces."
Ah, it was the peace of God that passeth all understanding that enabled her to bear up during the hot summer months in which she penned the following, wherein she says:
"The past three months have been the most trying of any I have experienced since I began my work. There has been much sickness and many deaths. But I have been kept and sustained amid many difficulties. I have been kindly received in many Roman Catholic and Jewish families. A poor woman whose husband was killed a year since, who had lost one child, and has another very sick, is glad to have me read and pray with her, and when I point her to the Saviour she says He is, indeed, her best friend. Another Catholic woman said, she did not see why her priest forbade her reading the Bible, 'for what you have read to me is so beautiful.' When asked if she would like to have a Bible, she said she would, and when I took one to her she gave me twenty-five cents, and said she wished she could give me more. One day I was addressed in the street by a little girl, who asked me to go and see her mother. When I enquired who she was, I found she was a woman whom I had visited some time before. She was very glad to see me, showed me the Testament I had given her, and asked me many questions which would have led to argument; but I told her I only taught the religion of the Lord Jesus, and I wished them to come to Him and seek for light and salvation. She urged me to come again, and gladly listened when I read to them from the Scriptures.
"A young woman on being asked to attend church said, 'The only church I go to is the theatre.' I gave her a Testament which she promised to read; she has now begun to go to church regularly, and says she hopes never again to live the life she has lived. I have been able to take a number of mothers and their children to the sea side, which has been a great blessing. I have given the Bible to two women who have paid for it, and wished for one for a neighbor."
* * * * * *
It is a true and striking fact, that there are very few women who ever labored so assiduously for the good of others as this Missionary, especially in trying to save souls and make others happy.
We may say we believe in Jesus and, therefore, we will be saved; but we must remember also that faith without works is dead, and on the great day of judgment all will be made known, for St. John says in the Apocalypse: "I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works."
THE NINETY AND NINE.
When he lived on earth so lowly, Friend of sinners was his name; Now enthroned among the holy, He rejoices in the name.
When Jesus was here upon earth the question was asked, 'Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? But it is said that the thirty years of Christ's obscurity was the foundation of his three years' manifestations. He was there, however, not alone, for he was under the fostering love and anxious solicitude of His heavenly Father. Nazareth is beautifully described thus:
It was "a handful of pearls in a goblet of emerald. No great road led up to this sunny nook. Trade, war, adventure, pleasure, pomp, passed by it, flowing from west to east, from east to west, along the Roman road. But the meadows were aglow with wheat and barley. Near the low ground ran a belt of gardens, fenced with loose stones, in which myriads of green figs, red pomegranates, and golden citrons ripened in the summer sun. High up the slopes hung vintages of purple grapes. In the plain among the corn, and beneath the mulberry-trees and figs, shone daisies, poppies, tulips, lilies, anemones, endless in their profusion, brilliant in their dyes. Low down on the hillside sprang a well of water, bubbling, plentiful and sweet; and above this fountain of life, in a long street straggling from the fountain to the synagogue, rose the homesteads of many shepherds, craftsmen, and vine-dressers. It was a lovely and humble place, of which no poet, no ruler, no historian of Israel had ever taken note."
Even so, it was a very humble sphere that our missionary filled, but she was precious in God's sight. Her work was among the poor and the lowly. Lost sight of perhaps by men on this account, but the more like her divine master in her work and ways. O, how true are Christ's own words: "Whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt therefore is good: but if even the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill: _men_ cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
"Now all the publicans and sinners were drawing near unto him for to hear him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, this man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them."
Yes! sinners--unworthy, hell-deserving sinners--it is to such, that He cries _if any man thirst_, let him come unto me and drink. How refreshing are the well-known words:
Aid the dawning, tongue and pen; Aid it, hopes of honest men; Aid it, paper--aid it, type-- Aid it, for the hour is ripe, And our earnest must not slacken Into play. Men of thought and men of action, Clear the way!
The following account of the origin of the well-known hymn, the "Ninety and Nine," may have a tendency to stimulate others to go and do likewise. It is taken from "Sabbath Reading," published by the late Mr. Dougal of this city, who has recently passed away into his everlasting rest.
A humble lady in Melrose, Scotland, was led to see the beauty of the character of Christ in the parable of the Good Shepherd. She possessed genius, and sometimes expressed her best thoughts and feelings in verse. The vision of Christ leaving the glories of Heaven and becoming a seeker of men who had gone astray, like an Eastern shepherd seeking a wandering sheep in perilous places, touched her heart with poetic fervor, and she wrote the hymn beginning:
"There were ninety and nine that safely lay In the shelter of the fold."
One of the stanzas most vividly and tenderly expressed her clear view of Divine sympathy and compassion:
"But none of the ransomed ever knew How deep were the waters crossed; Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through Ere He found His sheep that was lost. Out in the desert He heard its cry-- Sick and helpless, and ready to die."
The poem was published in a local paper, and the lady soon afterward died, and went to the Good Shepherd, whose love for the wandering and perishing had gained the affections and service of her life. She was buried in one of the churchyards of beautiful Melrose.
The efforts of a sincere life always meet with the needs of others, and are often given, under Providence, a special mission in the world. The simplicity and fervor of the little poem gained for it an unexpected recognition.
The American evangelist, Mr. Sankey, was one day returning from Edinburgh to Glasgow, to hold a farewell meeting there. Glasgow had been the scene of the most signal triumphs in the work of Messrs. Moody and Sankey, and this farewell gathering promised to be one of thanksgiving and tears, of wonderful interest, power, and feeling.
Mr. Sankey, on this occasion, desired to introduce a new hymn which should represent Christ as a compassionate and all-sufficient Saviour. "Before getting on the train," he says, "I went to the news-stand and bought two or three papers--some secular, some religious--and in one of them I found these verses:
"'There were ninety and nine that safely lay In the shelter of the fold,' etc.
"I said to my brother Moody, 'That's just the hymn I have been wanting. I think the Lord has really sent it to us!'
"Next day this little tune or chant it is set to, came to me.
"We went into the noon meeting, and dear Dr. Bonar, who has written so many beautiful hymns ('I was a Wandering Sheep and did not Love the Fold,' and 'I Heard the Voice of Jesus say, Come unto Me and Rest') was there, and the thought came to me, 'We must sing now this new hymn that the Lord has sent us.'
"The tune had scarcely formed itself in my head yet, but I just cut the words from the paper, put it in front of me on the organ and began to sing them, hardly knowing where the tune was coming from. But the Lord said, 'Sing it,' and as we were singing it His Spirit came upon us, and what a blessed meeting we had!"
The meeting was a very crowded one, and tender feelings were awakened in all hearts, bringing vividly to all minds, as it did, the fact that the world is full of farewell. The imagery of the hymn, the shepherd, the sheep-fold, the dark-night on the hills, the anxious search and the joyful return, was in harmony with Scottish associations, and touched the best feelings of the converts and inquirers. Christ stood revealed in the song, and it seemed as though the listeners went up some living Tabor, and again saw Him transfigured.
Away in the gallery there sat a lady who was at first startled, and then deeply affected by the hymn. She was unable to speak with the sweet singer in the confusion that followed the close of the meeting, but she soon after wrote to him from Melrose, and said, "I thank you for having sung, the other day, my deceased sister's words. She wrote them five years ago. She is in Heaven now."
The hymn has had a tender mission. Thousands seeking the help of a power outside of their own sinful nature, have seen in it the vision that the prophet saw: "And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered there was none to uphold; _therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me_."
What a true and striking picture is painted by the dear Saviour in this immortal parable! They are the words of Him "who spake as never man spake:"
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
"And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
"And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, 'Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.'
"I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."
The intensity of that joy is indescribable. What a glorious company are yonder. Here they toiled and suffered, and sacrificed for Christ, but now they are in the land of light and love.
How sweet as we journey, to pause for a moment And look at the foot-prints we see in our way; The foot-prints of pilgrims who've crossed over Jordan And now are rejoicing forever and aye.
O blessed Redeemer, ere long thou wilt call us To join the great army beyond the dark sea; They fought the good fight, their course they have finished, And now they inherit the kingdom with thee.
What must be the joy in heaven when the meeting and greeting time comes. The holy apostle said, "Set your affection on things above." Why; what does he mean? It is that we may richly enjoy a foretaste of its unutterable bliss preparatory to our departure.
Hark the song of holy rapture, Hear it break from yonder strand, Where our friends for us are waiting, In the golden, summer land. They have reached the port of glory, O'er the Jordan they have passed, And with millions they are shouting, Home at last, home at last.
Oh, the long and sweet re-union, Where the bells of time shall cease; Oh, the greeting, endless greeting, On the vernal heights of peace; Where the hoping and desponding Of the weary heart are past, And we enter life eternal-- Home at last, home at last.
Look beyond, the skies are clearing; See, the mist dissolves away; Soon our eyes will catch the dawning Of a bright celestial day; Soon the shadows will be lifted, That around us now are cast, And rejoicing we shall gather, Home at last, home at last.
It is no wonder that St. John in the Apocalypse, speaking anticipatively, says:
"A voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
"And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
"And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God."
Who are the true called to the marriage supper of the Lamb? Who are arrayed in white linen, pure and white?
They are those who try to be like Him who said, "I am the good shepherd who gave His life for the sheep." Here, in this wilderness of wandering, it is our imperative duty to go out after the suffering and sorrowing and straying, and bring them into the fold.
I want to go home, to know it all-- The Saviour's love for the sinner's soul, The mercy of God and the glory given To saints when they're safely brought to heaven.
"Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come." Ours is a camp life. Moses, in his wonderful prayer, claims God as his guide and protector amid all the changing scenes of life. "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is passed, and as a watch in the night."--Ps. xc. 1-4.
How essential then to constantly seek the guidance of God in all we undertake for His glory.
He directs and controls all our affairs just as much to-day as He did this ancient Israel by the great miraculous cloud by day, and pillar of fire by night, stretching far high into the heavens.
* * * * * *
Concerning such, she writes: "Some encouraging circumstances present themselves amidst the scenes of trial and suffering with which my daily walks render me familiar, and I will note a few which have excited my warmest sympathy. Among others, there is one family of a father, mother, and three small children, whose whole subsistence depends upon what the mother is able to make by washing. The man has been for two months lying ill, with what the doctor calls typhoid fever; but which seems now to have settled on his lungs, attended with a severe cough, and no hope of recovery. I have been enabled to assist them from time to time with a little nourishment. When I entered their house one day with what I had provided for them, I found they had nothing but a little bread. As I showed them what I had brought, they looked from one to the other, and were so filled with gratitude, and overcome by the unexpected supply, they appeared unable to speak. I find thus, not only an open door to their home, but also a welcome to their hearts. They have not been in the habit of attending church, and, as might be supposed, the duty of personal and family religion was also neglected. But it appears evident that these trials have not been sent in vain by the Lord. The sick man loves to have me read the Scriptures, and pray with him: and the children delight to see me, often running to meet me, and take me by the hand before I reach the house."
Recognizing the necessity of prayer for the Divine blessing in all our work, she writes in her journal thus:
"MARCH 2, 1875.--In commencing my work this morning I asked for guidance in the direction of my visits, and I was led to go to a house quite out of my district, to visit a colored family who were very destitute.
"I found them at family prayer, asking the Lord to send them some food; my heart was touched as I listened to the simplicity of the petition, and I could not but feel the Lord had directed my steps to the house in answer to their prayer, and was reminded of that passage of Scripture, '_while they are yet speaking, I will answer_.' I believed these words, and procured them both food and fuel. As we then sat down to read God's word, the tears streamed down the cheeks of these aged women, as I was helped to explain the word to them, and when we knelt to pray, we were blest together. Truly, while teaching others our own souls are often refreshed!
"MARCH 6th.--Poor Mrs. L. was visited to-day; she has been suffering for years from rheumatism. As I went in I said, 'Mrs. L., is Jesus precious to-day?' The tears came to her eyes as she said, 'I fear I have grieved Him to-day; I felt like murmuring because my pain has been so great.' I told her Jesus understood her, and knew she did not mean to murmur. And then I read to her how He had a feeling for our infirmities, being Himself tried and tempted; and so she was comforted, and became quite cheerful. On leaving her I felt what a blessed privilege it is to be able to comfort the sick poor. A poor brother sent to my house to-day for something to nourish him, as he felt quite weak. I prepared some broth and gave it to him, which he ate with a relish, and that passage from the word came to my mind, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me.'
"MARCH 8th.--Felt much wearied with visits and climbing stairs, and was glad to return to a cheerful fireside, and settle for the evening; but before I had removed my rubbers, a knock at the door assured me some call had come for me, and so it proved. A child of one of my families came to say her mother was ill, and wanted to see me. This woman, a few months before, did not seem to care for religion, and would not hear me read, saying she had no time for it; she had to earn her living without listening to what did not concern her. But when she came to lie upon a bed of suffering, she thought of me first, and found the word of God was just what she wanted; and as I read the words, 'Whosoever cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out,' the tears ran down her cheeks, and she at once cast herself upon Christ, taking him for her Saviour, and her face shone. As I left her my soul rejoiced, though it was far in the night when I returned home, that I had been permitted to point one soul to the 'Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.'
"'Oh! that all the world my Jesus knew, Then all the world would love Him too.'
"One poor woman asked me if I would get her a Bible, and she would pay twenty-five cents a month. I promised, and am rejoiced at finding so many that seem eager for Bibles; quite a number have asked for them, and I trust it may prove a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path.
"MARCH 11th.--After the fatigue of the day, I did not feel like going out again in the evening, but our pastor, Rev. Geo. O. Phelps, came in, and after tea he said, 'We have not many minutes to spare, but we will have a few words of prayer before parting.' They were few, but they cheered and comforted me so, I felt refreshed, and forgetting all fatigue, I arose and went to the prayer-meeting, feeling as my people do sometimes when they say to me after a visit, 'Oh! Mrs. Knowles, how your prayer has _rested_ me.'
"MARCH 23d.--A message came to-day, saying Mrs. L. was dying, and wanted me to come at once. I went, and was helped in return to see the triumph of spiritual over temporal things. The Lord was present to bless us at the bedside of the dying one. Her trust and faith are firm in Jesus, and her whole desire is to be with Him and see Him as He is."
* * * * * *
Blessed hope, "to see Him as He is, and to be transformed into His image." John declares:
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure."
It was about this time that she penned in her diary the following touching record of her toil. It reveals how sincere, diligent, systematic, and unprejudiced she was in her work for Jesus, even mentioning the names of the streets. She faithfully copied the example and closely followed the directions of her master, given to Ananias at the wonderful conversion of the great apostle of the Gentiles, when giving directions how to find Saul of Tarsus:
"The Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth:
"And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
"Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
"And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
"But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
"_For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake._"--Acts ix. 11-16.
* * * * * *
She writes: "I called on a woman in Broome Street who was convicted of her lost condition and ready to yield to despair. Her mind had been impressed by a letter from her husband who had gone West some time since on business.
"He had been converted during his absence, being awakened by witnessing the wickedness and depravity of his fellow-men, the profanation of the Sabbath, licentiousness in high and low places, and reflecting that if there were a righteous God, the wicked could not go unpunished. It was pleasant to be able to tell this distressed woman of the love of Jesus, and to urge her to go with her husband in the narrow way. On my next visit I found her more cheerful, and feeling that there is hope for her. She wishes me to get her a Bible, which she will pay for by weekly instalments.
"Met with a woman in Eldridge Street, who was given to drinking. As she was sober at that time, I conversed with her about her sin. She burst into tears and said, 'I have long wanted some one to talk to me about my soul.' As I read to her the story of redeeming love, she seemed to drink it in with delight, and promised to attend the place of prayer. She, too, wishes to possess a Bible, and to use the money she has before spent for rum in payment. I am greatly encouraged to labor and pray for her.
 This was the street in which our missionary died.
"Visiting some families in Madison Street, I conversed with one woman who excited my especial interest. She had been very ill with a sore throat. She was a Romanist, but the Spirit of God had opened to her view the evil of her heart, and she now desired to hear from me of the way of life. I told her of the forgiveness of sin through Christ's blood. She said she had confessed to the priest, and had received absolution, but found no relief from her load, which weighed upon her like a mountain. I directed her to the Lamb of God, who alone can take away sin. But after conversing with her some time (although her throat was so much inflamed as almost to deprive her of the power of utterance), she broke forth into one of the most affecting prayers I ever heard. Her husband sat by and listened to all that was said, being very anxious lest she should abjure the Catholic faith and die out of the pale of the Church. He interrupted me frequently, saying, 'My good lady, we don't want you to teach us, the priest instructs us in all we need.' But I told him I had a message from God, and I could not be prevented from delivering it. He left the room in anger, but I hope this poor soul may find peace, by trusting in the 'sinner's Friend.'
"Who can tell but what even this poor man may be found at last among the ransomed ones!"
This short extract from _The Home Mission Monthly_ for May, published by the Woman's Executive Committee of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church, is peculiarly appropriate to the above experience of her who now sleeps in Cypress Hills Cemetery,
"Under the shadows gray."
"At this spring-time season, when the seed is cast into the brown bosom of the earth, the lesson taught by the great Teacher, eighteen hundred years ago, in Palestine, 'as the sower went forth to sow,' is borne in upon the mind once more, and these lines are the reflex of the impulses which are astir in many hearts:
"I know my hand may never reap its sowing, And yet some other may; And I may never even see it growing-- So short my little day!
"Still must I sow, although I go forth weeping, I cannot, dare not stay. God grant a harvest! though I may be sleeping, Under the shadows gray."
THE SIN OF IDOLATRY.
It is not that the city is glorious to behold, Her walls of lucid crystal, her very pavement gold, All shrined in dazzling splendor, beyond description fair, But I am pressing onward to see my Saviour there.
How dangerous is idolatry. When God says, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image," etc., He means that we should not only avoid kneeling to them, but we should worship Him alone, and come to Him through the _only mediator between God and man_--the man Christ Jesus. How explicit are the words of the beloved John: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." (1 John, v. 21.) She seemed to realize the importance of speaking of _Jesus only_.
There is an alarming and increasing propensity in religious circles, to look with leniency on the worship of saints, angels, martyrs, and the Virgin, but the Master himself said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me." Pure worship is spiritual, not æsthetical; hence the use of all pictures, crucifixes, and figureheads of apostles and saints dishonors Christ.
* * * * * *
In August, 1875, Mrs. Knowles writes: "Among many discouragements, I meet with enough to cheer me on my way, and induce me to feel that my labor is not all in vain.
"Among other incidents, I will mention the case of a family I have referred to before, as having visited. The mother received me very kindly. She had four children, and as I was speaking to them of Jesus while the little ones gathered around me, the father came in, a very rough-looking man, and at the time apparently under the influence of liquor. The mother and children looked at me, and a feeling of sadness was visible on their faces. I spoke to him of his family, but he said little, and I then knelt and prayed with them. I asked if they had a Bible. He said 'No,' and they had not much time to read. I then asked him if he would like to have one. He said he would, as 'it was a good thing to have one in the house.'
"I took them one in the course of a day or two, and he has been led to read it daily; the mother and children also read it, and a few nights since he signed the temperance pledge. He said to me lately, while visiting him: 'No more pennies for rum; those pennies will go toward the support of my wife and children.' He now attends _evening_ church, feeling his clothing is not good enough to go by daylight. He has told me, although they are very poor, he was never as happy as now. He has not yet been able to procure steady employment, so I help them as I can.
"I have been helped on to perseverance in my work by what was told me by one I visited. In speaking of herself, she said she owed much to the efforts of a home missionary, who not only sought her out, but followed her up; and although she often neglected her duty, and stayed away from the preaching, he was so persevering and diligent in his efforts to win her, he at length succeeded, and she is now truly a Christian. A severe trial has lately come upon her: her son, a boy of ten years, has been killed by falling from a house. He lived but a short time after the accident; and as I stood by her at the side of the remains of her departed child, she was calm and resigned, telling me _the Lord was helping her_.
"I have been visiting at the hospitals much of late, where I have procured places for my sick, of whom there have been many this season. I have also assisted some, and procured work for others; have also distributed several Bibles, for which some have promised to pay as they are able. My Superintendent and Pastor are both kind in aiding me; for while I can truly say, 'of myself I can do nothing,' I can also, I hope, add, 'I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me.'"
* * * * * *
We cannot leave this part of the record of the Lord's work without observing her strong attachment to the children. In this she was very judicious. What momentous issues are at stake during early childhood. It is doubtless true that Christ meant to teach a practical lesson with reference to our tender watch-care of the little ones during His third brief interview with His disciples, after His resurrection. We read:
"So, when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him, yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
"He saith unto him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
"He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."
Amid such a scene so truthfully depicted in the above narrative, we behold the insecurity of the children. What a sad sight. An intemperate father and no Bible in the house. What a statement in this land of Bibles! Oh, what fearful consequences hang upon the conduct of parents. What would become of the masses in the lower part of the city, were it not for our truly devoted Bible women? What victories for Christ and His Church have been achieved--who can tell?
The cheering light that dawned upon the deeply bereaved mother when her boy was killed, is beheld as we, in imagination, take our stand by the bedside with them, and hear that sorrow-stricken mother exclaiming, "_that the Lord was helping her_." This is a striking proof that He who comforted Martha and Mary, at Bethany, was in that tenement-house, saying once again, "I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead yet shall he live." Yes, helping her to look beyond this vale of tears, and say even amid the loss of her darling boy, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." Surely the language of Job must have been experienced on an occasion like the above. "When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame."--Job xxix. 11-15.
There is a very comforting reflection for bereaved parents in Dr. Payson's "Comparison of Departed Children to Jewels." To a mother mourning the death of a child, he said:
"Suppose, now, some one was making a beautiful crown for you to wear, and you knew it was for you, and that you were to receive it and wear it as soon as it should be done. Now, if the maker of it were to come, and in order to make the crown more beautiful and splendid, were to take some of _your jewels_ to put into it, should you be sorrowful and unhappy because they were taken away for a little while, when you knew they were gone to make up your crown?"
In endeavoring humbly to interpret the language of the deceased, and, at the same time, call attention to her superior magnanimity of heart, I would not for a moment dare to make it appear that I was compromising human merit with the free, rich grace of our Heavenly Father, so richly displayed in His imparted _power_ to His children, enabling them to do valiantly in the salvation of souls. This power is the presence of the Holy Spirit in the heart. Just listen to the closing sentence of the last paragraph: "_I can truly say of myself I can do nothing!_" though I can also, I hope, add, "_I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me_." Ah! here is the secret of distinguished merit in the great conflict against all the forms of evil in the world. The instruction to the disciples were to tarry until they received this Divine strength. Tarry, how? Well, let us read the record:
"To whom also He shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, sayeth he, ye have heard of me. _For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence._ When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, 'It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.' And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight."--Acts i. 3-9.
PEACE THROUGH BELIEVING.
Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ! Wealth that can never be told;-- Riches exhaustless of mercy and grace, Precious, more precious than gold!
At the sixty-eighth annual meeting of the New York Female Auxiliary Bible Society, the Rev. Dr. William M. Taylor, in his earnest masterly address on the occasion, happily said:
"In the prosecution of the excavations at Pompeii, the workmen laid bare an ancient spring, the water of which, as soon as it was set free, flowed forth as copiously as ever, and carried refreshment with it wherever it went. For centuries it had been buried beneath the ashes of the volcano, but the moment it was again uncovered, it sent out its stream of blessing with all its pristine fulness and wholesome influence.
"Something like that was the work which Martin Luther did for the fountain of truth in the Sacred Scriptures. For many generations that had been virtually stopped up by the rubbish of tradition and entombed beneath the weight of authority, but by his sturdy strength, his steady persistence and his dauntless courage, he dug it clear again; and it became once more, as at the first, the well-head of the river of progress among the nations."
What was said of the great German Reformer can be truthfully applied to this humble mother in Israel.
At the above meeting it was stated that this Missionary woman in her advanced age made four hundred and forty visits in two months, she had read the Scriptures in many homes, prayed with a large number, comforted dying believers with Christian song, administered first aid to the injured; thus bringing into practical use the instructions _she_ had received, and receiving the commendations of physicians, distributed religious reading, and suspended the "Words of Life" in the rooms of the sick. Streams from this uncovered fountain of truth are turned by the cheerful, willing, working hands, heads, and hearts of our Bible women into human habitations in this city, where degradation, poverty, drunkenness, vice, and squalor sink the inmates to the level of brutes. The cleansing waters, as if by magic, convert these dark places into homes of joy and brightness, sobriety, industry, cleanliness, and godliness.
The effulgence born of the lustre of Christ drives out the darkness of sin and sorrow, and the thoughts of regenerated souls are indeed carried upward to the throne of God. All sorts and conditions of men, all varieties of human life, find their adaptation in the religion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Later on she writes: "During the month of January, 1876, I have been greatly encouraged in various ways. Knowing how many were the wants, and how small the means for supplying them during the present winter, I called on my old friend, Mr. M., at his place of business, and telling him how low our funds were, as he always took an interest in our work, he gave me twenty dollars for the Society. Much encouragement has also been afforded me by seeing some, among whom I have been laboring for years, brought to Christ, and those of whom I had the least hope, now testifying their love for the Saviour. It is not more than three or four weeks since they began to attend church, and since then it is surprising to witness the change. They have risen in the prayer-meeting and told what the Lord had done for their souls.
"One of those women, when I visited her, told me when I asked her to attend church, that the devil was her best friend; he helped her out of all her difficulties, by lying and cheating, and she intended to give herself entirely to him. Such an expression falling from the lips of any one, but especially from one for whom I have been watching and praying for years, rendered me almost speechless; but I kissed her, and saying there would be no use in my calling on her again, as she had settled in indifference, I left her. In a few days she sent for me, and I had another interview with her, which resulted in a promise, on her part, to attend church. She did not do so for some weeks. A noon-day prayer-meeting was then established in our church, and I invited her there. In a few days she came, and since then has been attending both noon and evening meetings, and coming to church. She has risen to ask prayers for herself, her husband, and children, and a dear old mother, nearly eighty years of age, still out of the ark of safety.
"Last Sabbath morning, upon entering the church, and seeing a stranger in my pew, I could not express the feeling of joy that filled my soul, upon discovering this was the same woman, now come to the house of God, having exchanged masters, and forsaken the territory of Satan, anxious to become the servant of Christ, and receive the gift of God which is eternal life, instead of the wages of sin, which is death; and which, a short time since, she avowed herself determined to secure.
"Another woman with whom I had talked about the sin of her encouraging a love for dress and pleasure in her young daughter, acknowledged the truth of what I said, and has since attended church, and undoubtedly been brought to Christ. Her husband, also, who had not set his foot in a church for fifteen years, but spent all his leisure time in a liquor store, and associated with a rough class of men, according to his own statements concerning himself, believes he has found the Saviour, and attends the meetings regularly. A few evenings since he told me he had to watch himself very closely, as he had become habituated to profane swearing. The change that has been made in him is remarkable. It appears clear to my mind that nothing but a Divine power could have effected it.
"Another case is that of a young girl who was brought to the meeting by her mother. She is so impressed herself, that her great concern is for others with whom she has been associated, to induce them to attend, the language of her heart being, 'Come with us, and we will do thee good, for the Lord has spoken good concerning Israel.'
"There is a great outpouring of the Spirit in our midst; we have unmistakable evidence of it. We have but to 'open our mouths wide that we may be filled with it.' All are ready to hear and learn, and we are in every way encouraged to labor on with our whole hearts, knowing that if we are strong, and of good courage, God will not fail in the performance of His promises.
"Our sewing-school is also improving; the children in good behavior; the mothers are asking, in many cases, for Bibles, while the Sunday-school is filling up so fast, we cannot get a sufficient number of teachers.
"There are many cases of sickness in my district, and a great deal of distress, occasioned by want of work.
"I made about one hundred and sixty visits during the month, and sold but one Bible."
* * * * * *
Her gratitude, when any kind-hearted friend like the above gave of their substance, to carry on the Lord's work, was unbounded. Also, when those among whom she labored for years were brought to confess Christ, by testifying at the meetings. Oh! how true are the words of Malachi: "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it: and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels."
No spot on earth was so dear to her heart as the house of God, hence the expression: "_I could not express the feeling_ of joy that filled my soul upon discovering this was the same woman, now come to the house of God, having exchanged masters." She evidently entered into the feelings of David when he said of the Church, as the recognized holy spouse of God: "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord, my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God."
Her practical piety is continually manifested, not only by her strenuous exertions to save souls, but in the recognition of Divine power in the execution. She says, "The change is remarkable. It appears clear to my mind that nothing but Divine power could have effected it."
The doctrine of the personality of the Holy Spirit is here brought to our view, strongly reminding us that it is not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
DRAWN BY THE CORDS OF LOVE.
Blest Saviour, slain for me, In grateful love to Thee The cross I bear; Thou didst for me endure, My pardon to insure, And thus for me secure A Crown to wear.
"One poor woman," she writes, "asked me to call and see her, as she wished to tell me her troubles. She said she was afraid to believe that God loved her. I have seldom seen any one in such ecstacy as she, when she was told that God loves her with an everlasting love, and that she need not be afraid to trust Him, as the more she rejoices in Him, the more she would glorify Him."
The earnest desire of Paul for the Church at Colosse was: "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
* * * * * *
GRATEFUL OFFERING OF A SAVED SOUL.
She writes again thus: "One woman, to whom I took a Bible, said to me, '_If it had not been for you I should have died in ignorance_.' Although she is poor, two Sabbaths since when a collection was taken, she put down her name for two dollars. She says, 'she can never thank the Lord enough for bringing her out of darkness into light.'
"I visit a woman who endures great agony from cancer. She lives alone, in a tenement house, poor and friendless, having been driven from her home by her relatives because she has become a Protestant. But she has a firm trust in God, and it is indeed wonderful to see how she is supported amid terrible sufferings. She cannot read, having never learned, but says, 'I thank God that He sends His servants to read the Bible to such as I.'"
* * * * * *
What a picture of all that is conceivable of human suffering. Alone, poor, persecuted, yet thankful and trustful. Oh! How amazing is God's grace.
Oh, yes, to the uttermost Jesus is able To save the poor sinner who cometh to Him; His word is most sure, and His promise is stable: Though feeble thy trust and thy faith very dim, Yet listen again to the soul-cheering sound, Our Jesus can save to the uttermost bound.
Did I hear some one say, "But what of to-morrow, For my foes are so strong, and I'm sinful indeed?" He is able to save to the end of the journey-- To the uttermost bound of thy uttermost need. That same Jesus who died for us now ever lives, And as mightily saves as He freely forgives.
* * * * * *
WORK AMONG THE JEWS.
"Though laboring to bring souls to Christ, of any nation, my chief interest and work is among the Jews.
"I called upon a family of very religious Jews. I talked with them of Christ as the true Messiah and of His sacrifice for our sins. I saw that they had the Old and New Testament, given them by a Christian lady. They said they often read it together, and I could not but think that the good seed was sown in their hearts.
"I am often discouraged by the opposition of one member of a family. A child who goes to Sunday-school is kept away by an unbelieving father, just as the truth has found a lodgement in her heart; but, again, my heart is filled with joy when I find that my labor has not been in vain. Such was the case in a family where I have prayed, and conversed often about their souls' salvation. The mother, a Jewess by birth, had changed her Jewish religion some time ago. But her heart remained untouched. I endeavored to make her understand what a change of heart is, and persuaded her to go with me to a German church. Some weeks after the father spoke of his faith in Christ, and a week since his wife also gave evidence of being a Christian woman. During the month of March I visited a poor woman who had had great sorrows. She asked me for a Bible, for which she was most thankful. Her husband, a Catholic, now reads it with her, and shows by his greater kindness to her its blessed effect. What a blessing, indeed, is this holy book in these poor homes?"
* * * * * *
ANOTHER YOUNG JEWESS BROUGHT TO CHRIST.
"A young Jewess, who had found and believed in Jesus as her Saviour, wanted to unite with a Christian church, but her aged mother would not allow it. I encouraged her to pray for her mother, and one day calling to see her, I found she had now no objection to her daughter doing as she wished. I have had many conversations with Jews, and have often been allowed to read the Bible to them."
* * * * * *
It is certainly very encouraging to read how intensely interested she was in the conversion of the Hebrew people. We cannot wonder at this when we consider that they were the chosen people of God; and also to those who are in the habit of prayerfully consulting their Bibles, especially the prophecies pertaining to the Messiah, as they behold them literally fulfilled, not only as to the time and place of His birth, but His person, life, miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"He surely came unto His own and His own received Him not, but to as many as received Him them gave He power to become the Sons of God, even to those who believed in His name."
LOVE FOR THE HEBREWS.
A weeping sinner kneels, The chains of death are broken, And soon his glad heart feels The Saviour's welcome spoken.
Christ said, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees." She seemed to hate everything that looked like spiritual pride, or idolatry, or worldliness. Hence her sternness and courage in watching for sin in herself or others was marked. The language of Jesus ever sounded in her ears: "Take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come on you suddenly as a snare: for _so_ shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of all the earth. But watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."
She felt also that God was no respecter of persons, and her great ambition on this account was to try and save the Hebrew people from their vain delusions that they were still the chosen people of God, notwithstanding their rejection of the Messiah.
This is evident from the following conversation with a Jewish woman about God's Word.
"Visiting another Jewish woman, she asked me to sit down, and soon we were in earnest conversation about the Bible, and her soul's salvation. After hearing me read some passages, she said, 'We Jews must all be wrong if you are right.' I told her it was not my word, but the Word of God. I begged her to search the Scriptures for herself, and left with her a tract relating to Christ, written by a Jew. She asked to have a Bible, which I carried to her. Again we conversed on this great subject. She liked the tract, and had lent it to several of her friends. She said she would read the Bible with prayer, and if she was wrong, the Lord would open her eyes. During these four months I have made over one thousand visits, distributed many tracts and given away eight Bibles, besides taking several children to the Sunday-school, and using the Mission funds in assisting the poor.
"There has been a great deal of sickness this summer, especially among the children. But I have been enabled to do some good by taking these little ones and their mothers into the country. Among them were several Roman Catholic families. They expressed surprise that we should do so much for them, saying, 'It was more than their own people would do for them.' In visiting one of these women soon after, she said her husband had told her she had better take my advice and read the Bible. He said she had better have one, for it could do her no harm. I took her the Gospel of Matthew, which she has been reading attentively, and her children learning verses by heart. She gave me fifty cents, asking if that would be enough to buy a Bible.
"To several Catholic families I have lent Bibles, and they now wish to purchase them, paying for them in small sums, as they are able. One man, who has led a very wicked life and abused his family, is now so changed that when he comes home he asks his children to read to him. He does not go to church, but says he does not know why his people are not allowed to read the Bible.
"A poor woman to whom I gave a Bible handed me one dollar, saying she wished she was able to give more, as it had been such a blessing to her in her sickness and poverty. I have been much encouraged by the gratitude expressed for my reading the Scriptures in some families. A Catholic woman was in great distress for her husband. She begged me to pray for him, and calling her five children about her, we knelt in prayer.
"I have a mothers' meeting at my house, at which several women have desired prayers for their husbands. Visiting in a house where were some Jewish families, I asked if they would allow me to pray with them. They said they would not dare to kneel, but would stand and listen. On my leaving them, they shook my hand, with tears in their eyes, and said they liked to hear my prayer. Another Jewess said she would be sorry if she thought we would not meet in heaven. I begged her to pray God to show her the true way, and read to her in Isaiah the prophecies concerning the Messiah. She, too, promised to think, and pray for light.
"I have good hopes of several intemperate persons. They have abstained from drinking for several weeks, one has joined the Temperance Society, and another has promised to drink no more. They asked for a Bible, which I took to them. We have opened our Sewing-school again, and have the hope of accomplishing much good this winter among the children."
* * * * * *
GLADNESS IN COMING TO THE HOUSE OF GOD.
She continues to write thus: "Some of the women who attend my mother's meeting have never attended any place of worship, and it is encouraging to hear them speak of reading the Scriptures, which they have never done before, and of the pleasure they take in going to the House of God, and in listening to His Word.
"A Jewess, to whom I spoke of the Saviour, said, 'Your religion must be very comforting, when you have something to rest upon. I would like to go to your church, and hear about your Saviour.'
"I found a family where the mother was sick; the father without work, and four children to be fed. I obtained assistance for them, and after doing what I could to make them comfortable, I read a portion of Scripture to them. As the woman lay listening, the father came into the room and said, 'You are reading the Bible; it is a good book; my children love to hear it; they learn in the Sabbath-school what will do them good, but the times are hard; I can get no work, and everything seems dark.' His wife said, 'God has sent us help just when we needed it the most.' I urged him to trust in our Heavenly Father, and pray to Him; he said, 'I will try.'"
Why not? for
E'en the hour that darkest seemeth Will His changeless goodness prove; From the gloom His mercy streameth; God is wisdom, God is love.
The shadows of earth are immediately dispelled when we trust God, for He says, "Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify Me." This passage has been the cup of great blessing to many a benighted soul.
* * * * * *
She writes: "In another family, the kindness shown has led the father (who has also been ill) to think seriously of religion, and resolve on leading a new life.
"One poor woman, to whom I had given a Bible, said to me, a few days since, that she wanted to 'pay something for her Bible,' it had been such a comfort to her in her lonely hours. She said she had never read so much of the Scriptures before, nor found so much comfort from reading them, as during the last few weeks; and now she wished me take ten cents as part payment; she had been keeping it for me, and would add more soon, as she wanted to give me fifty cents. She was living alone; her husband dead; her son, having married recently, had left her, but gives a little toward her support. She was also made happy by some addition for Thanksgiving.
"My visits among the children of the Sewing-school are also productive of good. One little girl whom I brought to Sabbath-school for the first time, induced her mother to come to church, where she was enough pleased to desire to come again. This family have usually spent their Sabbaths in reading stories in the newspapers, as is the case with many others from which we have gathered the children, and when they say at parting, 'Do come and see my mother,' I feel here is a wide field of usefulness opening before us, inviting us to enter in and work for the Master."
THANKFULNESS TO GOD.
He is a whole Christ--He is a full Saviour! He saves to the uttermost all who believe; His arms of compassion are ever extended, The contrite and penitent souls to receive.
St. Augustine says: "The Kingdom of Light was from its very commencement assailed by the Kingdom of Darkness." But, notwithstanding the opposition of Satan, and the strong prejudices of his ancient people, how encouraging to read the following narrative from her pen:
"I have been able to supply the immediate necessities of some poor families, and it encourages my heart to see their gratitude for what is done for them, but, above all, for their joy at receiving the 'Word of God,' and knowing that it was their own. From four persons I have received payment for the Bibles, who were anxious to receive them, and who read them daily. I have met with some success among the Jews. A Jewish girl who has been in my Sewing-school is very happy to be there, and says that now her father does not forbid her to read the Bible or attend Sunday-school. A young girl who attends the meeting which I hold in my house has joined the church in Allen Street, and is so much in earnest that she is trying to induce others to follow her example. I am thankful that my efforts for the young have not been without results."
Why? we ask; because He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not with Him also _freely give us_ all things.
"I have had much encouragement," she continues, "in my labors during the summer. Visiting at the Hahnemann Hospital, I have become much interested in some of the patients. They ask me to sit down and talk to them, and I then point them to Jesus as the best Physician for soul as well as body. I have been kindly received by Roman Catholics, and have loaned Bibles to some of them, and some have kept them and paid for them.
"During the months of July and August, I have found many sick, in assisting whom I have been aided by the Flower Mission.
"I see a great change in families where the Bible is being read. One little girl says, 'I read the Bible every day, and so do my father and mother. Now they do not work on Sunday, as they used to do, but go to church, and read God's Word.'
"My own church has been closed a part of the summer, but the prayer-meeting has been well attended, and there has been much interest evinced. A man who was a drunkard for many years, has given up his bad habits and is now the support and comfort of his family. I gave him a Bible, which he reads, and he seems to be a truly converted man. I have sold several Bibles, as well as given several away."
At one time coming in contact with a very serious case of hardship, she wrote concerning it, "Formerly the mother depended upon the daughter for support, but she has lately been obliged to stay at home, and take care of her mother; and in consequence of this, they have both suffered, as they belong to that class who are unwilling to make their wants known.
"I asked if they had attended any place of worship. The mother said she had been a member of a Protestant church in Troy, but since she came to New York, and her circumstances had changed, not having clothing to make a decent appearance, she had not been to church. She added: 'I must say, it was pride, but I could not overcome it. Now I know and feel that I did wrong.'
"She is now more comfortable; for I have been able to get her some little delicacies, which she suffered greatly from the need of.
"It is a great satisfaction to us, when we meet with so many cases of want and suffering, to give some relief, however small, but the anxiety and labor that have often to be borne to succeed in the work is great. I often think that if those who employ us to go forth with the Word of Life in our hands could see us engaged in our work, giving consolation and encouragement to the poor and destitute, the sick and dying, and as far as in our power relieving their wants, they would feel abundantly rewarded for the good and honorable work in which they are engaged.
"Every month I feel more and more the greatness of the work, and the necessity of laboring with earnestness, in order to compel them to come in, that the Lord's house may be filled, and that jewels may be gathered for our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I have brought a number of children into Sabbath-schools, and have induced several to attend church, and feel that my labors have been abundantly blessed, and that during the last month I have been much encouraged.
"I have succeeded in getting five tons of coal for my poor, besides groceries, etc. Have sold three Bibles, and given one away."
LOST, BUT FOUND.
Love of Christ, amazing love! Vast as His eternity; Theme of angel choirs above, Theme of souls redeemed like me! Outward to creation's bound, Up to Heaven's serenest height, Universal space around, Swells the chorus day and night.
Here she writes about a woman whom she visited several years ago, and who attended her meetings: "I lost sight of her for seven or eight years. She moved away from the city. One day recently I was sent for by a sick woman; I found it to be Mrs. V., who had returned. I read, prayed, and visited her until she died, believing in Jesus." Here she reports the conversion of several others whom she has visited and brought out to religious services.
An unknown Christian lady writes thus: "Mrs. Knowles has great success in her work, reading God's Word, and leaving the Bible to be read by those whom she visits, when not able to purchase a Bible; one is given in some instances; even the poorest will pay a small sum. A great change is noticeable after the Bible is read with real interest--cleaner children, better-dressed men and women, and a desire to hear the Gospel."
Why this marvellous success? What brought about this personal reformation in the habits and character of parents and children? There are two reasons for this great change, namely: 1. Contact with God's Word. 2. Contact with a soul set on fire with the love of Christ. Oh! the tremendous power there is in divinely implanted affection when it is beautifully blended in a human heart. Sir Walter Scott says:
Love rules the court, the camp, the grove, And men below, and saints above; For love is Heaven, and Heaven is love!
* * * * * *
CONSOLATION AMID DOMESTIC DIFFICULTIES.
When we remember that we are penning for publication only a few stray gleanings from the multiplicity of instances of conversion, the reader, we trust, will behold the variety of cases recorded, and we sincerely hope the Christian worker will utilize them for practical purposes.
Some one has said that Paul's favorite illustrations by images are drawn, not from the operations and uniform phenomena of the natural world, but from the activities and outward exhibition of human society, from the lives of soldiers, from the lives of slaves, from the market, from athletic exercises, from agriculture, from architecture.
At this time she again writes: "I visited a family where the mother was a Christian, and the father a Jew. The father being sick for two years past, and unable to support his wife and four children, has gone to his own people. The eldest girl is a member of my Sunday-school class. The mother told me one day, as I was speaking to her of the Bible, that she had not seen or read one since she was married; 'but,' said she, 'since Amelia has been in your class, she has repeated the lessons she has learned at home, and I am longing for a Bible.' I gave her one given me for my Jewish children. She thanked me heartily, and now reads it every day with her children. One Sunday morning her husband came in to see them, and found her reading aloud to the children from the Bible. He asked her what she was reading. She told him it was the Bible, and how she had got it, and that the children went to Sunday-school, and that she went to church. He was not pleased, but could say nothing, as he does not live with or support his family. This poor woman was deeply convicted of sin, and was earnestly seeking for forgiveness and peace, and peace has come to her son through humble trust in the Saviour of sinners. Thus the Lord is prospering our labors, and the meetings begun in trembling, have been blessed to some souls."
It seems her source of unalloyed happiness was in watching for souls, at morning, noon, and night. Her prayers were perfumed with sighs, and cries, and tears for the impenitent. She was one of those so graphically described by Jeremiah: "They say to their mothers where is corn and wine? when they swooned as the wounded in the streets of the city, when their soul was poured out into their mother's bosom. What thing shall I take to witness for thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee."--Lam. ii. 12-13.
Long they sat beneath the shadow, And the gloom of moral night, Waiting only for the dawning Of the promised heavenly light. But they've heard the glorious Gospel, Of salvation full and free, Now they read the "Blessed Bible," They are coming, Lord, to Thee.
Hasten, Lord, the coming morning Of the bright, millennial day,-- And may we who love the Saviour Labor to extend His sway, Until every ransomed being, On the land and on the sea, Shall unite in one grand chorus, "We are coming, Lord, to Thee."
* * * * * *
THE FORTUNE TELLER.
"During the last two months I have met with several interesting cases. One Jewish woman whom I visited was always pleased when I told her of my interest for her people. Being poor and in delicate health, she could do but little for her own support, and I learned had resorted to telling fortunes. I showed her that this was wrong, and that God would not bless her, as it did not agree with His Word. She said, 'I have often thought it might be wrong, but I am now convinced of it; but what shall I do for my living?' I directed her to prayer for guidance, and assured her that those who put their trust in the Lord would be taken care of. She has since been to our meeting and requests to have a Bible.
"I visited another woman, whose husband is a Catholic. Her three children are in my Sunday-school class, and I am much interested in them. The mother came to the German church, and I gave her a German Bible, as she never had one. Calling one day, I found her in great trouble. She said: 'Oh, Mrs. Knowles, I have been praying for you, and the Lord has sent you. I read and prayed with her, directing her to the Friend of sinners for peace. I think she became a true Christian, and soon she wished to unite with the church. Her husband, however, opposed it, and threatened to take away the children from her. He did so, and sent them to the Catholic Sunday-school. But the seed is sown in their young hearts, and they say to their mother, 'We will never turn to the Catholics.'"
To such as are sorely tried in their households, how comforting are the words of the Apostle: "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But to do good, and to communicate, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
She adds: "During these months I have met with much poverty and sickness. One would almost think it would diminish at this season, but, on the contrary, it is rather worse. I met with a family who had been in the country but two months. The father was a salesman in Germany, and can get no employment in this country. They had nothing to eat in their house, but the Lord opened a way, so that something was provided for them. I read the Scriptures and prayed with them, and the wife expressed a longing to go to a German church. I took her to church, and gave her a Bible."
* * * * * *
A JEWESS FINDS THE MESSIAH.
"A poor Jewess, whose husband has been in the Insane Asylum for nearly two years, finds it hard to support her family by peddling. Calling one day, I found her going out without any shoes on her feet, and her health very poor. I bought her a pair of shoes, for which she was very thankful, and pointed her to Christ as her true friend in time of need. She reads the Bible, and believes He is the Messiah."
"Another Roman Catholic woman, whom I have been visiting for some time, continues to attend church regularly."
SEA-SIDE EXCURSIONS FOR MOTHERS AND CHILDREN.
Sure he, to whom, of mind or hand belongs Some craft that doth uplift the thought of men Above the mold, and bring to human ken The joys of radiance, air and clear bird-songs; So that the brow, o'er moist with sullen toil, May catch a breeze from far-off Paradise; So that the soul may, for a moment, rise Up from the stoop and cramp of daily moil-- May own his gift Divine! as sure may trace Its Source, as that of waters kind hands hold To thirsty lips; nor need he mourn (since grace Of his hath such refreshment wrought) if gold Be scant; to him hath richer boon been given An earth-bowed head to raise the nearer heaven.
There is no sight more truly gladdening to the heart of the philanthropist than to behold the large barges, built after the model of Noah's Ark, gliding swiftly through the beautiful waters of New York Bay, heavily laden with the news-boys, working-girls, or poor mothers and children of the city. Thanks to the New York Press, and the contributors to the Fresh Air Fund, for thus giving the multitudes of children, that are thickly huddled together in our tenement-houses, an opportunity of inhaling pure air.
One of the pioneers in this good work was the New York _Times_. In 1872, that paper started the "_Times'_ Excursion for Poor Children;" ay, and for poor adults, too. The public nobly responded to the _Times'_ appeal, sending in about $20,000. During the sweltering summer of that year, the _Times'_ people carried to shady groves and seasides tens of thousands of children who, for the first time, saw running streams and green fields. No one can estimate the good done, the lives saved, and the hours of happiness secured to young and old who have so few happy hours. Not the least was that of softening hearts and opening purses.
In this noble work we find our deceased friend earnestly engaged instead of taking a vacation in the hot summer months. In her diary we find the following concerning one of these summer seasons:
"It has been a great privilege, during the summer months, to be able to make so many poor mother's happy, by taking them and their children to the sea-side for bathing and country air. There has been much sickness in the tenement-houses. It is, indeed, distressing often to see two sick in one bed, the others nearly ready to be there, and the poor mothers, with but little means, scarcely able to do their work and take care of the sick ones.
"It is then a happiness to obtain for them a little nourishment, and to give them words of sympathy and encouragement. Many are Roman Catholics, who seem surprised that I should take any interest in them, as they said it was more than their own people will do.
"A poor woman whom I visited, said: 'I will never again think that Protestants cannot be saved, as I have been taught; and since I have read the Bible, I intend to go to a Protestant church and hear for myself.'
"The Catholics say to me, 'How different your prayers are from ours. Why do you not pray to the Blessed Virgin?' I tell them that we only pray to the Lord Jesus Christ, as He is the only Saviour. While visiting lately in some wretched houses of infamy and talking to the poor women, they would shed tears, and say that they would like to live different lives, but it is so hard to begin to do better. It is surprising to see with what attention they listen to the words of Scripture and promise to read the Bible themselves."
* * * * * *
A WONDERFUL WORK.
Still continuing the record of her work, she writes: "During last month I made two hundred and fifty visits, read the Scriptures as often as I had the opportunity; have given two Bibles to persons who were too poor to pay for them, and sold one.
"Several Roman Catholic women have asked for Bibles, and are reading them with pleasure. One woman, whose husband called her a 'turn-coat,' said she did not care for that, but that nothing should persuade her to give up her Bible.
"I have induced several persons to attend church, and have taken children to the Sabbath-school, thus trying to sow the seed, and looking to God for His blessing.
"A poor man, ill with consumption, is one whom I visit often. I have aided his family with coal, and also in buying food and nourishment for himself. He reads a Bible that I gave him every day, and when his children come from school he gets them to read to him. He says: 'If I had been a better man; had read my Bible and taken care of my health, I might have been different, but now I am trusting in the Lord that He will forgive and accept me, and that is my only hope. I tell my wife that when I am gone she must never give up the Bible, but read it every day with her children.'"
We must ever remember, dear reader, that the unfolding of the _Gospel of Christ_ is the _power of God unto salvation to everyone who believeth_. What a tremendous power was manifested by the preaching of the Gospel to the savages of North America, in 1743. Mr. Brainerd, in his journal, gives an instance of the effects which followed the preaching of the Word of God. "There was much concern," says he, "among them while I was discoursing publicly; but afterward, when I spoke to one and another whom I perceived more particularly under concern, the power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly, 'like a mighty rushing wind,' and with an astonishing energy bore down all before it.
"I stood amazed at the influence that seized upon the audience almost universally. Almost all persons of all ages, were bowed down together. Old men and women, who had been drunken wretches for many years, and some little children, not more than six or seven years of age, appeared in distress for their souls, as well as persons of middle age. These were almost universally praying and crying for mercy in every part of the house, and many out of doors, and numbers could neither go nor stand; their concern was so great, each for himself, that none seemed to take any notice of those about them, but each prayed for himself. Methought this had a near resemblance to the day of God's power, mentioned Josh. x. 14; for I must say, I never saw any day like it in all respects; it was a day wherein the Lord did much to destroy the kingdom of darkness among this people." A church was soon afterward gathered among these poor pagans; and such was the change effected among them, that many exclaimed with astonishment, "What hath God wrought?"
He spent whole days in fasting and prayer, that God would prepare him for his great work; and, indeed, throughout his whole life he was truly a "man of prayer," lifting up his heart to God on all occasions, frequently spending whole days in prayer and meditation in the fields and woods desiring holiness of heart far above every other object.
Mr. Brainerd was sent by the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge to the Indians at Kaunaumeek, a place in the woods between Stockbridge and Albany. In this lonely place he continued and endured many hardships and privations.
THE INTEMPERATE WIFE.
If you cannot cross the ocean, And the heathen lands explore, You can find the heathen nearer, You can help them at your door.
If you cannot give your thousands, You can give the widow's mite, And the least you give for Jesus Will be precious in His sight.
In March, 1880, she writes: "I have had much encouragement in my work during the past month. In a family where I had visited a long time, the mother was much addicted to intemperance. On calling one day, I saw the husband, who said he was glad I had come in, for he had resolved to leave his wife; he said he could endure his life with her no longer--he would go his way, and she must go hers. She was much distressed, and I once more entreated her to give up the intoxicating cup and be a good wife and mother. I then engaged in prayer, beseeching the Lord to enable her to resist this dreadful appetite. Her husband stood by and said:
"'Now, Mary, you have your choice: either to follow the advice of this kind friend, or to separate from me forever.'
"She then and there made her decision, and, laying her hand on the Bible, pledged herself not to touch or taste the poison, and signed a paper to that effect. Since then, she has attended our meetings, and says she is happier than she has ever been.
"Some persons to whom I have given the Bible did not seem to care to read it, but have now begun to do so, and encourage their children to read to them. One man tells me:
"'I am scarce five minutes in the house before my little girl begins to read to me, and it does me good.'
"A man and his wife who have attended church this winter, will soon confess Christ. They have suffered much this season, as the father has had but little work; but I have been able to give them some assistance. The mother said she was thankful to the Lord for all that had been done for them, to bring them through their difficulties--but, above all, that she and her husband had found rest in Jesus as their Saviour and their friend."
* * * * * *
WARMLY WELCOMED BY ALL DENOMINATIONS.
"_March, 1881._--During this month I have made many visits among Jews and Romanists. Some who formerly opposed me are now anxious to hear me read and pray, and urge me to come to see them often. Several Roman Catholic families have asked for the Bible; and I have given several copies of the New Testament, which they value very highly, as well for themselves as for their children, whom they are anxious should read and learn its sacred truths. One woman, whose children had been taught verses from the New Testament, gave me twenty-five cents to get her a Bible, saying she wondered why their clergy forbid them reading it.
"The woman mentioned before as being intemperate seems now truly reformed. She attends our meetings with her boy, and she and her husband once more live happily together.
"My meeting for young girls continues with much encouragement. They seem to take delight in reading the Scriptures, and in singing hymns of praise. They spend the hour in sewing and reading aloud, and they are greatly improved in deportment and character. The little Jewish girl, to whom I gave a Testament, is never absent from this meeting or from the Sunday-school."
What a deplorable sight--an intemperate mother! What a soul-ruinous example to a daughter! When we consider the relation between the mother and the child, how great are the maternal responsibilities. The mother ought to attract the attention of the child by her love. Chilled by the sin of intemperance, how many, alas! drag down their daughters to infamy and a life of shame.
But, oh, what a change is wrought in this household after the dramatic interview, when the husband threatens to leave his wife forever unless she abandons her cups. What joy enters that family circle after the mother's transformation. Surely this revolution in her character was not the work either of the missionary or the person herself. It is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according _to His mercy_ He saves us.
How sweetly Dr. Horace Bonar sings in this connection:
Thy works, not mine, O Christ, Speak gladness to this heart; They tell me all is done; They bid my fear depart. To whom, save thee, Who can alone For sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?
When we contrast the previous picture with the closing paragraph of this last account in her diary, we behold the sudden change from sadness to sunshine.
She says, "_The young girls seem to take delight in reading the Scriptures, and in singing hymns of praise._" This is the new song put into the mouth of the Christian at the hour of conversion: "Happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away."
HER LOVE OF CHILDREN AND OF PRAYING.
He loves me now, oh, blessed thought, He loved me when I knew Him not, And with His blood my pardon bought, On Calvary He died for me; Then with such love my heart to cheer, How can I doubt or have one fear, Or ever think the days are drear, With Jesus near, with Jesus near.
In 1884 she writes: "Ninety-six visits during the last month, and seven children taken to the Sunday-school. I am everywhere received with kindness, and especially by the children, through whom I hope to reach the parents' hearts. I have disposed of several Bibles, for which I have been paid; and I find there is nothing like reading some verses of Scripture to excite the desire to possess the Book of God. I have an interesting class of girls in my own house who study passages of Scripture every week, and by their example and influence their parents have been led to attend church and give their hearts to God."
* * * * * *
Oh, how few there are who would be so kind-hearted as this woman to open their own house to impart spiritual instruction to others. We are forcibly reminded by this gathering of girls to study God's Word, of a graphic scene in the Acts of the Apostles: We read that, "On the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us."--Acts xvi. 13-15.
We see from the above account of her work the multiplicity of her avocations: Tract-distribution, visiting and caring for the sick, teaching the young, not only out of God's Book, but instructing them how to discharge domestic duties.
Never tired, never weary, In what she found to do-- Ever winsome, always cheery, She knew but love for you!
Humble, patient, kindly, sincere, She loved the Master well; Always trying, unknown to fear, She would His story tell!
She continues: "A short time since, on entering a house, the woman who opened the door asked if I was a missionary. When I said 'Yes,' she said, 'The Lord has answered my prayer. I prayed that He would send one to me to read the Bible and pray with me.' Before, when she had been visited, she would hide away to avoid the visitor, but now she desires to be a Christian, and wishes some one to read and pray with her often. She is very poor, but is now seeking the true riches. One who had been very ill, but had recovered, gladly received a Bible, for which, though she is very poor, she gave me fifty cents. I have met with much encouragement in the Sabbath-school and sewing-school. Many mothers are, through their children, interested in religion, and come gladly to the mothers' meetings, and my earnest prayer is that the Lord will help me in the future as He has done in the past."
Her prayerful spirit was marvellous. This was the reason why she was able to impart such comfort and encouragement to others.
I called recently in the suburbs of the City of Brooklyn to see a member of the Allen Street Church, and, after reading God's Word and prayer, our conversation turned to a beautiful portrait that hung over the mantel-piece. The lady remarked, "That is the picture of my departed sister, who died in New York. She was faithfully visited during her sickness by Mrs. Knowles." She continued, "I like to think of her, because she used to tell me after she was gone, 'I pray for you by name every day.'" Perhaps that is the reason why she comes now so many miles through the long, dreary, stormy winter months, to teach a class in the Allen Street Sabbath-school, and some of the scholars are Hebrew children. This person for whom she prayed never misses any of the services at the church.
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost have made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."
This is the injunction of the Apostle Paul to the elders at Ephesus, but it is exceedingly appropriate to all who are engaged in missionary work of any kind, and it cannot be faithfully complied with unless there is pastoral work performed from house to house. Who is sufficient for these things?
During February and March, 1885, she again writes: "During the last two months I have been engaged as usual in reading the Scriptures from house to house, and wherever I have visited have been allowed to do so, with very few exceptions. Visiting lately in a tenement house, a woman came out, telling me that I would never go to Heaven, and using other insulting language. I only said, 'Poor woman, I pity you.' A Catholic woman, who heard her, asked me into her room, took me by the hand, and with tears in her eyes expressed her sorrow that I should be treated so ill. I told her it did not harm me as much it did themselves. I then asked if I might pray with them, and when we arose from prayers several of those present were in tears. 'How can you pray for one who has abused you so?' said they. I replied that Jesus prayed for His enemies, and we must imitate His example. One of these women came to our mothers' meeting, and asked me for a Bible, and promises to read it."
* * * * * *
Here she complied with the command of Christ: "I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
What a wonderful exhibition we have in the above interview of the spirit of Him who was suspended on the cross for our sins, for we read: "That when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots."
The fearful drama enacted on Golgotha excites our wonder when we behold the amazing love of Jesus, in thus praying for His persecutors. How true it is that He was clothed with the mock robes of royalty, that we might be clad in His justifying righteousness; crowned with the crown of thorns, that we might wear a crown of glory.
Flow on, thou stream; oh, ceaseless flow, Till every child of sin and woe Hath plunged beneath thy cleansing tide, And found the Saviour precious.
I want to say here, that I visited a family by request a few evenings since in the upper part of New York City. During our religious conversation I asked the mother of the family how she was led to Christ. Her husband, daughters, and sons were all seated around her at the time, a happy family circle. "Well," she replied, "about twenty-three years ago, when my children were little, Mrs. Knowles met me on the street, coming from the store. She said, 'Excuse me, lady, will you accept a tract?' I answered yes. 'Will you read it,' she inquired, 'if I give you one?' I promised I would. She further asked me, 'Have you any children?' 'Yes.' 'Do they go to Sabbath-school?' 'No.' 'Will you send them if I call for them next Lord's Day morning?' 'Yes.' She called the following Sabbath, and asked if the children were ready. 'They are all ready,' I said, 'but one, and her shoes are not good enough; but wait and I will go out and buy a new pair.' 'Oh,' said Mrs. Knowles, 'never mind buying shoes to-day, I will call next Sabbath for them.' I did not know the reason _then_ why she would not allow me to get the shoes, but I know _now_. She did not wish me to break the holy Sabbath day. Then she persuaded me to attend church, until I found Jesus as my Saviour. I was in the habit of going to her with all my trouble, and she would say, 'Oh, well, never mind, don't tell anyone but your Heavenly Father about it.'"
CONVERSION OF CHILDREN.
We are so helpless, Lord, Thou art all power and might; Our path is often drear, Be thou our light. We have no hope but thee; Oh, leave us not alone, Till life's brief day is o'er, Still guard thine own.
Her joy in bringing children to the Sabbath-school was great, but when she led them to Christ it was sublime. Why should she not be interested in their early conversion, when Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." I desire to state here, that when I was a boy, about nine years of age, I attended a prayer-meeting between the morning and afternoon services, led by an elder of the Relief U.P. Church, Greenock, and was so deeply impressed with Divine truth that I gathered my playmates together, and invited them to a meeting of my own across the burn at the foot of grandfather's garden, near Dr. McCulloch's established church, where we boys read God's Word in turn sang the sweet psalms of David, and offered prayer.
Rev. E. P. Hammond is doing a grand work among children at the present time in New York. I assisted in his meetings, and found a goodly number of children inquiring after Jesus, and one afternoon there were a dozen young men and women rejoicing in their sins forgiven, who had signed the covenant.
The following letter will speak for itself regarding Mr. Hammond's work here in this city among children, many of whom were brought to Christ:
"NEW YORK CITY, March 3, 1887.
"DEAR BROTHER YOUNG: I am engaged, night and day, holding meetings here, I wish you could come up and attend some of the services; I thank you for all your kind words. I am to be to-morrow at the prayer-meeting as per bill. If you can be there I shall be glad to see you.
"_One hundred and twenty_ here, gave their names to us yesterday, saying they had been converted in these meetings (for the most part). To-morrow night we go to Carle Hall. It will hold, perhaps, three or four thousand. Pray for us.
"Yours in Jesus,
"E. P. HAMMOND."
The afternoon I visited the scene of his labors, he presented me with a copy of his work entitled, "The Conversion of the Children," in which I have found a very encouraging letter to workers among the little ones. I use it here to illustrate the power of Divine grace, and to show that wherever the effort is put forth to save the children, God blesses it.
The following letter will testify also to the power of the Gospel. It is the production of one whom God has been graciously pleased to bless in a marvellous manner among the young.
"GLASGOW, SCOTLAND, September, 18, 1877.
"MY DEAR MR. HAMMOND: We oftentimes remember you, though few letters have passed between us. My daughters and myself will never forget your visit and the time of blessing then, and they, as well as myself, send you most hearty salutations.
"Dear brother, my thoughts on the subject of the conversion of children are the same as when I wrote that tract you refer to. I think I agreed with you in almost every thing but one, viz., expressing publicly an opinion on cases. It seems to me that we should be cautious in so doing; for children themselves mistake _feeling_ for _faith_; how easy, then, for us who do not know the heart, to mistake in them a manifestation of feeling for evidence of faith.
"But in the awakening which took place under your labors here, and in awakenings that have been given us since, the cases of young people have been as entirely satisfactory as any cases we have had. If conversion be God's work, in which the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to the soul, surely His work can take place in children as really as in the old; for it is the young soul meeting with Christ in the one case and the adult in the other.
"One day, about the time, or perhaps after the time, you were among us, in the vestry of my church, an old Christian woman, who had watched the work going on, came to me and said, 'Sir, you will find many people speaking lightly of the young who come to Christ, as if there was nothing but feeling in their case; but never mind what these people say. I was converted in the days of Dr. Kidd, of Aberdeen, when I was but a child, and two others of my age were converted at the same time; and we have all three gone on to this day, following the Lamb.'
"The Lord blesses you amazingly. Surely you will need to 'walk circumspectly,' 'sober, vigilant,' for Satan will not fail to watch you, and seek to injure you, that he may injure God's work through you. If the way be opened for your revisiting Scotland, many among us shall rejoice.
"Meanwhile, we pray for you, and will not cease. Pray for us still, dear brother.
"Yours truly, in Him 'Whose we are and whom we serve,'
"ANDREW A. BONAR."
 The Conversion of Children, by Dr. A. A. Bonar.
But what makes us to differ from each other? Surely it is simply the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our heart. It is all of free sovereign grace and mercy, as Paul says, to the Church at Corinth:
"By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain: but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Whether then it be I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed."
ASLEEP IN JESUS.
Asleep in Jesus; blessed sleep, From which none ever wakes to weep, A calm and undisturbed repose, Unbroken by the last of foes.
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."--Philippians i. 21.
One week ago to-day, and at this hour, we stood in this historic church over the precious remains of our dear, departed Elder, James Knowles, so kind, so gentle, so affectionate, so humble, and so meek in his manners that we greatly miss him in our work for the blessed Master. Ah! little did we then think that we were to be so speedily gathered together to pay the last tribute of respect to the memory of his faithful and loving wife. But God's ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts as our thoughts. How inexplicable and profoundly mysterious are His providential arrangements. It hath pleased our kind heavenly Father to say to our sainted sister, "It is enough, come up higher." She also is at rest with her Saviour and her husband, to whom she was so devotedly attached. She was, indeed, a virtuous wife and loving mother.
"The race appointed she has run, The combat's o'er, the prize is won."
 The substance of a sermon preached by the Rev. Duncan McNeill Young, in the Allen Street Presbyterian Church, New York, November 1, 1886, on the occasion of the death of Mrs. James Knowles, a city missionary who triumphantly departed this life on October 30, 1886, in the seventy fifth year of her age.
How blessed the change! How rich the reward! How safe from all sin and sorrow! In yonder "land of pure delight where saints immortal reign." _What a meeting! What a greeting takes place at the hour of dissolution!_ How pleasing the contemplation. How inspiring to think of our noble ancestors; our holy ministers and teachers; our fathers and mothers who led us by the hand to the house of God on the Sabbath, who early taught us to lisp the ever precious name of Jesus; who are to-day singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. Let us thank God at this solemn hour, even amid blinding tears, for pious, praying parents.
Oh, that the Holy Spirit of God may touch our hearts to-day; that we may more fully realize the greatness and importance of our work, and that we may understand that this second great loss to this church is the voice of the God of Israel calling us, by the solemn dispensations of His providence, to be more zealous in our Saviour's cause. Clarify our vision just now, O Thou Divine Enlightener, that we may see light in Thy light.
I truly believe my theme to-day is a gift from the Lord, the God of Abraham, and is peculiarly appropriate for this solemn scene, and adapted to the circumstances and special wants of this church and congregation. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." The text, I may add, has been graphically illustrated in the life and labors, as well as in the death of her who now lies before us in that beautiful casket, covered with so many rich and fragrant flowers, the gifts of dearly beloved friends.
While I do not believe in eulogizing the dead, yet, nevertheless, I think, nay, I experimentally know, that great good is derived from reflection upon the lives of the great, the pure, and the noble ones who are beyond the flood. Nothing stimulates me so much to increased activity and aggressiveness in Christian work as the thought of the numerous servants of the Most High God now in heaven:
"How bright those glorious spirits shine, Whence all their white array? How came they to the blissful seats Of everlasting day?"--"Par." lxvi. 1.
Paul, who uttered the words of our text, was passing through great suffering when he wrote this epistle to the Church which he planted at Philippi. He was at this time a prisoner for Christ in the palace of the imperial city of Rome: for he declares, "That _the things that happened unto me_, have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel; so that," he adds, "my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places."
There are just two thoughts that we want to try and develop this afternoon, namely, that conformity to the likeness of Christ in life brings glorious gain to the Christian at death. Or, in the words of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." From the sacred hour that the blessed Jesus met him on his way to Damascus, to the day of his martyrdom, his continual cry was, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me." "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord."
"That man," says the Hebrew bard, "hath perfect blessedness, who not only refraineth from walking astray, but who delights in the Law of the Lord." _Lex rex_, was his motto--"The Law is King!" For the Master has said: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." He desires to corroborate the fact that--"Ye are the light of the world"--hence, he adds, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." "The city set on a hill cannot be hid."
The true Christian, then, beholds the humility and majesty of Christ in defining His and our relation to the law that regulates daily life. The Gospel of the blessed God and the law conjointly elevates and spiritualizes humanity. The law is our school-master to lead us to Christ, hence Paul says, "To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
Our loved one's life was emphatically a life of consecration. It was a life strictly devoted to the cause of her dear Redeemer. "For her to live was Christ, hence to die was gain." We all know that to consecrate is to set apart for holy service. Aaron of old was thus unreservedly laid upon the altar as a living sacrifice for Jehovah. A person thus set apart receives the unction of the Holy One. It was beautifully symbolized under the mosaical dispensation.
Moses took the anointing oil and poured it upon the head of Aaron, in order that he might be sanctified and set apart for the service of God. And so, when we can truly exclaim with Paul, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." It is then we receive the blessed baptism of the Holy Spirit, and are made meet for the Master's use. None can rightly live for Christ until they receive this rich and inestimable blessing. "At that time we are _sealed_ with the Holy Spirit of promise."
Among the personal property of Sister Knowles were found some crumbs which fell from the Master's table in the form of forget-me-nots of the Word of God, by Dr. McDuff, author of "Morning and Night Watches." Valuable little works which I would earnestly recommend, and which I have endeavored to put into the hands of many young disciples in my various fields of labor. I will quote a few of the forget-me-nots, as they are very comforting in these hours of sorrow and separation. For instance here are a few of them:
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."--Isa. xli. 10. "Yet will I not forget thee: Even to your old age _I am He_; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you."--Isa. xlvi. 4.
Our dear Sister Knowles corroborated the truthfulness of the above passages by her last dying words, the last she ever uttered upon earth. "Once I was young, now I am old, and have never been forsaken."
It is impossible for us to live a truly devoted Christian life without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, John said, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." This divine blessing our dear sister pre-eminently possessed.
This was the reason why Christ, our ever adorable Redeemer and Daysman was continually about His Father's business. The Prophet Isaiah said concerning him: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.... To comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that _He might be glorified_."
The presence here to-day, in a body, of the "New York Female Bible Readers' Society," out of respect to the memory of the departed, is a conclusive evidence of the fact that they recognized her sterling qualities, and her heroic missionary spirit among the fallen sons and daughters of Adam in the lower part of this great city. They fully realize that this church and community have suffered a severe loss in her removal, and their presence, together with so many elders, and ministers, deacons, and Sabbath-school workers, give proof that her life, for over a quarter of a century, during which she incessantly toiled for Christ, were years of holy and unremitting industry, and holy consecration in the service of Him whose whole life was one of self-sacrifice and self-abnegation. "For He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."
She was like Christ in this respect. Emptied of self, and was found like Mary of old sitting at the feet of Jesus, and hearing His word. As He said, "Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
God has wisely ordained that souls are to be saved through human instrumentality, especially through those whose hearts are in the work. He hath put the treasure in the earthen vessel that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of man. Who can estimate the value of a holy missionary woman's work in this world of sin and sorrow?
Through the power of an indwelling spirit, who can tell of the many broken hearts healed by the application of the Balm of Gilead. Many poor Satan-bound souls have had their shackles severed, and joyously set at liberty by pointing them to the only Redeemer of God's elect, who by His great atoning work hath paid for them the ransom price; and many to-day are singing the song of Redeeming love above, who were led to put their trust in the blessed Jesus by her prayers and religious instruction. Many a poor Jew, and Jewess, and Roman Catholic, and Formalist, and Infidel, and swearer, and Sabbath-breaker, were pointed by her to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. She ever displayed great sagacity in every kind of work. She will be greatly missed in the Tenth Ward of this city.
God grant that as the spirit of Elijah did rest on Elisha as he was taken up into Heaven, even so may her mantle fall on us who are left behind. Let us
"With zeal like hers inspired, Begin the Christian race; And freed from each encumbering weight, Her holy footsteps trace."
Krummacher, of Elberfeld, in the valley of Barmen, Prussia, said, "That Elisha on inheriting this mantle is henceforth called to take the place of his great Master, and to carry on His work." This singular legacy was therefore very significant to Elisha. The mantle came flying toward him heavily laden, but with the commission he received was connected the encouraging circumstance that it came accompanied with such a precious memorial of his paternal Master. It was no longer the robe of his redoubted reformer, but the robe of a blessed heir of Heaven, borne thither on the wings of the cherubin. This circumstance would tend to _refresh his spirit in his arduous work_; and, at the same time as the messenger of peace, who was to announce to the house of Israel, like the rainbow after the storm, Jehovah's good-will toward men. Oh, that the remembrance of our ancestors, the great, and the good, and the holy ones who have gone before would inspire us to go and do likewise!
I remember once standing in the cemetery of Stirling and gazing upon the monument of two Christian sisters who suffered martyrdom for Christ, and as I read the inscription on the tombstone, I thought of how much we were indebted to those who have borne the burden and heat of the day.
Here is the inscription: "Margaret, Virgin Martyr of the Ocean Wave, with her like-minded sister, Agnes." Then follows this touching paragraph: "Love, many waters cannot quench. God saves His chaste, impearled one! In Covenant true. Oh, Scotia's daughters! _earnest scan_ the Page and prize this flower of Grace, _blood-bought_ for you."--Psalms ix. xix. The elder and younger sister are exquisitely sculptured, seated together with an open Bible on their laps, and a lamb by their side, while an angel is standing behind them gazing intently on the scene. Who can tell but the departed one gazed upon this very scene in the days of her sunny childhood, for the Bible was her daily delight.
Ah! dear friends, are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who are heirs of salvation? And are there not many living martyrs that the world knows nothing of among our Bible Readers in this city, who are saying as Paul did: "What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus."--Acts xxi. 13.
A French gentleman, a Roman Catholic, who lived in the same house as sister Knowles for several years, told me that he never met a woman so humble and straightforward as she was in all her deportment.
What was the secret of her power in eliciting this outside testimony? She had companionship with Jesus. She lived near Him; she heard His sweet voice saying: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
The holy McCheyne, of St. Peter's, Dundee, Scotland, says, concerning those who walk with Christ on earth, "That they shall walk with Christ in white, for they are worthy.... Never forget, dear brethren, that you are to walk with Christ. This walk expresses the most real intimacy with _Him_. You know it is a mark of real intimacy to admit one to walk with us in our solitary rambles. Oh, walk with Him now; walk here with Him, and you shall soon put your head where John put his."
She cultivated a firm and unstaggering confidence in the continued presence of the Holy Spirit in her heart. McCheyne's directions to his flock was, "Pray for the Holy Spirit to uphold you, if sensible of your weakness; then lean upon this proved Comforter.... _Pray much for this Comforter that He may enlighten your mind, that He may fill your hearts. Oh, pray for the Spirit of God, for there is no other way of walking to heaven but by the Spirit. Let Him lead you._ My dear brethren, _in this way, and in this way alone, will you not defile your garments_." "Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness."--Psalm cxliii. 10. She had faith in the power of the Comforter, or helper.
In the midst of many privations, and sometimes when the week's earnings of her husband was small, and he would say to her on the Saturday evening, "I have not much money for you to-night," she would cheerfully reply: "Never mind dearest, the Lord will provide." Jehovah-jireh! was her watchword all through her life. She would remark, "That would go further to them with God's blessing, than three times as much without His blessing."
Earthly comforts and pleasures might fail, but the joys that spring from personal piety and firm faith in the Comforter's presence failed her never. She seemed to fully realize the potency of the prophet's words, "Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds' feet."--Hab. iii. 17-19.
She evidently found in the mighty God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, an inexhaustible source of strength and comfort and consolation through her child-like trust in the immutable promise, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."
Conformity to the character of Christ was an essential element in her every-day life. She had cares, difficulties, and trials, but she cast them all upon the great burden-bearer, hence prevailing prayer was ever her chief delight. It is no misplaced and extravagant exaggeration to say that she breathed the very atmosphere of prayer. This is the wisest resource at all times. Like Elijah on the summit of Mount Carmel, where all is peaceful and solitary, alone with God, she made her requests known unto Him. It was then that the peace of God which passeth all understanding, kept her heart and mind through Christ Jesus.--Phil. iv. 6-7.
Oh, who can fully estimate the excellency of a devotional temperament? What evils we are delivered from! What mercies we receive! What gladness of heart! What light is imparted! What strength God bestows! For, has He not promised, "Ask, and ye shall receive?" She had no doubts concerning the faithfulness of her Father to answer prayer. It was through her importunate pleadings at the throne of grace that her only son, when quite young, was led to see his need of Jesus. And what joy was brought into the hearts of those parents when, at the return of the father from the prayer-meeting, they found their child on his knees crying for God to have mercy on his soul. Over such scenes as this the holy angels delight to bend their bright wings and make joyous music in heaven. (See Luke xv. 10.)
On one occasion during the fratricidal war in this country, when her boy was fighting before Richmond, some one brought her word that he was mortally wounded on the battle-field, for they had seen his name in the newspapers, she calmly and trustfully replied: "Not my son; for I have made him the subject of earnest prayer, that his young life may be guarded by God while in his country's battles for continued liberty and independence." She recognized the truth that piety and patriotism are inseparably connected.
She seemed to realize that the Saviour was always at her side. She walked by faith and not by sight. She understood the distinction between the constituents of faith and the consequences of faith. Chalmers wisely remarks--that the gratitude, the love, the disposition toward new obedience; these are not the ingredients of faith; they are but the effects of it. Observe what follows by making them the ingredients. By faith we are said to be justified; but if our piety toward God, or our desire to conform to His law, or any moral characteristic whatever, shall be regarded as parts and constituents of this faith; then, under the consciousness of our sad deficiency, we shall never attain to the solid peace of one who rejoices in a firm sense of his acceptance with God. But reduce faith to its simplicity, take it in the obvious and uncompounded sense which _you attach to the mere act of believing, regard it as purely giving credit to God's testimony, when he sets forth Christ as a propitiation for our sin, and invites one and all in the world to cast upon Him the burden of their reliance, and then see how, by immediate transition, one might enter into peace, and become a confiding, tranquillized, and happy creature_, simply because convinced that the most powerful of beings, whom he aforetime regarded as an enemy and an avenger is pacified toward him, and now makes him a free proffer of fellowship and forgiveness. It is of the greatest importance to the secure and perfect establishment of a believer's peace, that it should be a matter of believing, and believing only. It is also an imperative necessity that the comfort and confidence should spring from the proper object of belief, which is the sureness of God's own testimony, and not from the consciousness of love or gratitude, or any moral quality in ourselves!
I heard Dr. Andrew Bonar, while preaching in Philadelphia, during a visit to this country, tell about a dying elder who was asked by friends who clustered around his couch, "How do you feel, now that the hour of your departure has come, and you hear the voice that calls you home? Have you still joy and peace?"
"Oh," he said, "I am not thinking about joy or peace, or my feelings. I am not thinking about myself at all. I am just lying here _thinking about Christ_. I am thinking about what He has done and suffered for me; and what He is doing for me in heaven. Yes, He is 'a hiding place from the wind.'
"'Rock of ages cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee.'
"That is what we have to do in life and in death. Where can we find rest and refuge in a dying hour, but by thinking upon and trusting in _Him_ who is 'the shadow of a great rock in a weary land?'"
Our peace, our joy, our hope, our all in life and in death, are the results of confidence in Christ. Our dear, departed sister had heard the sweet voice of Jesus saying, "I am the dark world's light; come unto me, thy morn shall rise and all thy day be bright." Her trust was not in this vain and transitory world, though smiling and fair, she trusted not His joy, for sorrow was there. Her faith had found an anchor--a sure abiding home; she had a strong consolation because she had fled for refuge and had laid hold of the hope set before her in the Gospel.
The sweet and tender and loving words of John were ever present to her ear: "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." Hence she continually enjoyed four precious elements of spiritual life and Christian experience; viz., Union with God, Communion with Christ, Pure Fellowship with the Saints, and Constant Cleansing by the peace-speaking blood of Jesus--"That blood which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel."
The application to your hearts of the blood of Jesus by the Holy Spirit is like the dew upon the new mown grass.
Amid the great rush and roar of business, where men are pressing against each other on the busy streets, in the race for gold, her mind was constantly occupied with thoughts relative to the wants and woes of the sick and the dying. While others were daily seeking their own, not the things of Christ, she was found bringing children to the Sabbath-school--reaching out to the hearts of the parents through the little ones--bringing the blessed Bible to the bosoms of the homes which had none; circulating tracts and religious literature; visiting sad scenes of distressing spiritual and domestic destitution. And whatsoever her hands found to do, she did it quietly and unostentatiously, and unreservedly, knowing full well, "That there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge in the grave whither we goeth." She sweetly rests from her labors, and her works do follow her. And as the Gospel of the grace of God was in her a well of water, out of the abundance of her heart, so kind, calm, consistent, and courageous, there constantly flowed streams of living water of earnest, loving, prayerful toil in the Master's vineyard.
She gathered daily jewels for the crown of her rejoicing. I have found in her diary, that this was the aim of her whole life.
Companionship with Christ is constantly manifested by love for the Holy Scriptures. "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." The will of Jesus is made known through His word. When the blessed Master was in Capernaum, His own city, He declared that it was the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."--John vi. 63.
There is sunshine and beauty in His words. They are practical principles for the regulation of life, and a humble, holy walk and conversation is the product. It is in His word we behold the character of Jesus. In the Mirror of the glad tidings, we behold His lovely countenance and are changed into the same image, from glory to glory. It is no wonder that David exclaimed, "The entrance of Thy word giveth light." Hence the exhortation of Paul to Timothy, "Preach the Word." Oh, the intrinsic value of the Word of God. It was because of Christ's own word that the Samaritans believed on Him, notwithstanding the prejudice they entertained against the Jews and their religion.
Alas! how many professing Christians make shipwreck of faith because they neglect to read the Word. Christ is the Word. "This is that bread which came down from heaven. He that eateth my flesh shall live forever."
What Matthew Henry says of his father at his funeral, may be said with reference to the dear one who has just left us for the mansions above. Let us then, as ever we hope to meet her with joy in the other world, _follow her with diligence now_. Having begun "in the spirit," let us not "end in the flesh,"--having laid our hands "on the plough," let us not "look back," lest our latter end be worse than our beginning.
_Being dead, she yet speaks to us to be loving and helpful to one another._ Her common and undistinguished love to us all was such that it could never be said which of us she loved the best, and it speaks to us, now that she is gone, to "_love one another with a pure heart fervently_." We know very well that our unity was the joy of her heart while living, and many a time she hath with us blessed God for it. Let it, therefore, be to the credit and honor of her family, friends, and the Church, for I find it was her dying prayer for this church and its minister, not only that we may be _built up in holiness and comfort_, but that we may be _continued in brotherly love_, and be _a bundle of arrows which cannot be broken_.
Now that we have lost her who was wont to pray for us, and to be a common helper to us, let us pray so much the more one for another, and be so much the more helpful one to another, especially in the things that pertain to the kingdom of heaven; and let all our bonds of unity be strengthened and confirmed, and let it be our constant endeavor, each of us in our place, to be mutually serviceable to each other's comfort and welfare, and _jointly serviceable to the glory of God and to the comfort of the Church_, for Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for the Church.
When we unbosom ourselves, He lets His love stream richly and gloriously into our hearts. From day to day, our sister seemed to realize how strongly and truly Christ loved the Church, and herself, as an individual member of it. The sacrificial death of the Saviour was to her not simply an historical fact, but a living reality. The sweet peace and pure pleasure she daily enjoyed was the result of His death. For, "He hath made peace through the blood of His cross." And since He had made her the happy recipient of His grace, it was her daily delight to walk in the path of obedience. Christ was to her the door of salvation, and she went in and out and found pasture, in ministering to the poor and indigent and dying, and in this line of Christian toil she possessed a remarkable faculty.
She told me on one occasion, during one of my pastoral visits, that she visited a dying woman and endeavored to point her to Jesus. And when a clergyman of the Church of Rome, who happened to be present, was retiring, she suggested that they should have a word of prayer together. He replied, "That while he enjoyed her religious conversation, he could not pray with her, as she did not belong to his church."
At this remark she was deeply affected, and said, with great emphasis and deep solemnity: "I thought there was but one fold and one shepherd."
When she sent around, or rather, came herself for me, to the church on Friday, the prayer-meeting night, to come and see her dear dying husband, she seemed to be troubled when I asked him, "Are you still trusting in Jesus?" as I observed he was rapidly sinking, I put the question that I might employ his blessed testimony for my own good, and the good of the congregation. He quickly responded very emphatically in the affirmative, "Yes! yes!" and I think those were the last audible words he uttered. But she was troubled because she had such faith in the consistency of the Christian life of her husband, that she knew full well that he feared no evil, for Christ was with him.
Oh, how tenderly and lovingly she would step up to his bed-side and kiss his heated brow. When he became unconscious or rather, when his speech failed him and he would point to his parched lips to have them moistened, she would tearfully exclaim, "My dear, dear husband, can you not speak to me? Have you not a word for Esther? My dear husband, how can I live without you?"
I endeavored to console her on the sorrowful occasion, until after midnight, by reading the Scriptures, and prayer, and general conversation about heavenly things, and more especially the precious promises of Jesus concerning the many mansions, I remember reading 2 Corinthians, v. 1: "We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."
About midnight she became perfectly resigned to the will of God, and felt that life, even amid affliction, is the gift of God, and is a valuable endowment.
In this she was like Christ, "For me to live is Christ," seemed to be her motto to the last. I left the house about two in the morning. I called again between eight and nine A.M., the same day, after her husband's death, to see how she was bearing her trouble. But oh, how changed! Her tears were all dried; and as she sat by the bedside where her husband suffered his last illness, her countenance wore an expression of perfect peace and Christian fortitude. Like her Saviour amid the hoary olives of Gethsemane, she could tranquilly exclaim: "Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done!"
The first words she uttered when I entered the room were: "My dear husband has gone to glory." These words were uttered very quietly, and very solemnly. Ah, little did she think that in just one week and two hours from that time, she also was to pass away from earth to heaven, "To see the King in his beauty, and be forever with the Lord."
The Saturday night after her husband's death, she went to the store for some groceries. It was the usual custom for her husband, when he would hear the door open, to go down-stairs and carry the basket up for her; she remarked, when she returned home and experienced his absence for the first time, "No Papa to come and carry up the basket to-night!" How quickly she remembered this little act of courtesy and kindness on his part. "He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful in much." Gratitude to God and one another for little deeds of kindness is well-pleasing in His sight.
She fed the hungry and clothed the naked; many a loaf of bread she carried with her own hands to the necessitous. Many a poor, crying, shivering, half-clad child was comfortably clothed through her instrumentality: "He that honoreth Him hath mercy on the poor."--Prov. xiv. 31. "The poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always." Shall the Christian's remembrance of these words be overlooked in the great day of reckoning? Will the dear Lord not recognize even a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple? Verily it shall in no wise lose its reward. To care for the poor is practical Christianity. The question will not be asked in the great day of account: Did you preach long, deep, and eloquent sermons? Or offer long and pharisaical prayers? No. But He will "say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed." Why? "Inherit the kingdom.... For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?... And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
As Christian workers we have constantly to remember that while we are justified by our faith here, and now, we will be judged by our works, yonder.
Henry Law, in "Christ is All," wisely remarks that, "Fruit is the sign of healthy trees, and so works evidence that we have life." "By their fruits ye shall know them." "Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"
* * * * * *
TO DIE IS GAIN.
How frail, how short, how uncertain is human life. "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down."--Job xiv. 1. "As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more."--Ps. ciii. 15-16.
"All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away, but the Word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the Word which by the Gospel is preached unto you."--1 Pet. i. 24-25.
These very solemn passages of Scripture reveal to us two distinct lines of thought: First, The mutable; and, secondly, the immutable. If a man die, shall he live again? Ah, it is here, amid the ravages which death makes, that we hear Christ's blessed words, "I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth on me though he were dead, yet shall he live."
While it is true that this body must droop and die, and return to dust, yet death cannot touch the soul. It is immortal, it has been created in the image of God. He is a spirit, and a spirit is indestructible. The essence of the soul is spiritual. From the hour of the new birth, the soul of man begins to ripen for glory. All its powers and capacities are gradually developed and made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.
This preparation for Heaven is the work of the Holy Spirit. By providences, by sermons, by the word of truth, and by prayer, God prepares His servants for the heavenly home on high. Looking, then, at this life as a state of danger, difficulties, and trials--a life of probation--we must say with Paul, that when the great conflict is over, "To die is gain." "The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day."
But remember he said, _now I am ready to be_ offered.
It is only when we are ready to be offered, that to die will be gain. Oh, are you ready? Jesus says, "be ye also ready."
There are some here, perhaps, who are still unsaved, unprepared for death. Oh, if God should call for you to-day, where would your soul go? You know that God out of Christ is a consuming fire. It will not be gain for you when you die, unless you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, come to Him while it is the accepted time, and the day of salvation.
There is no time to be lost in this important matter, for death is upon our track. While God invites how blest the day. While the Holy Spirit is speaking and saying, "Prepare to meet thy God." Oh, resist not entreaties, yield to His power. How is it possible for a soul to be ready for death, and judgment, and a coming eternity, without conversion?
"Verily, verily," said Jesus to Nicodemus, "I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." How is it possible for any to be ready to meet God in peace unless they are washed in Christ's blood, and clothed in His spotless and justifying righteousness.
Paul said, "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." There are some, however, who do not believe this comforting doctrine. They debar the Christian from the enjoyments of Heaven during the intermediate state between the hour of death and the resurrection. This condition they call the unconscious state of the dead. They are soul-sleepers, and generally believe in the pernicious error, namely, the annihilation of the wicked. A pleasing thought no doubt to the workers of iniquity, as they shall escape the punishment due to their iniquities. This is about as dangerous a doctrine as the new school theology of reformatory punishment, namely, that God is so good and so full of universal benevolence, that He cannot consistently, with His attribute of mercy, consign His creatures to everlasting punishment. It is true that God is full of love and tender mercy; but He never appeared as a merciful God excepting through a mediator. He can only be just, and the justifier of those alone who believe in Jesus. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name given under Heaven or among men whereby we can be saved, but by the name of Jesus." To those, we believe, He is precious at the hour of death. It is then the believer is ushered into the presence of the King eternal, immortal, and invisible. In view of the greatness and glory of the transition from earth to Heaven, the Apostle exclaimed, "I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better." For it is _then_ that we really begin to live; now we see through a glass darkly; now we know only in part, but then, oh, what a change, "Beyond the smiling and the weeping."
"Let not your heart be troubled," said Jesus; "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 and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also." It is for these mansions we were begotten. "Heirs to an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away."
Sister Knowles had the blest assurance of this Heavenly home, she knew this assurance was attainable, and on earth she enjoyed it, and now she is reaping the rich reward, and its innumerable and unutterable advantages. In her dying hour she could triumphantly exclaim, with Simeon in the temple, "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." And, like Moses, her eye was not dimmed, nor her natural force abated. Oh! the gain, the bliss of thus dying.
Heaven as our home is worthy our deepest contemplation. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." It is a place of perfect rest. Oh, how comforting is this thought to the poor, way-worn, toiling pilgrim.
Oh, land of rest for thee I sigh!
The important discovery of this land of rest will nerve our arm for the great conflict of life. It will inspire us to work more earnestly and more incessantly for Jesus. It will sweeten every bitter cup of trial and tribulation that we have to encounter here below. It will distil a desire and a loftiness of aim in life, that we may at last reach the rest that remains for the people of God. The struggle with inbred sin will be more easily overcome, and every lust and evil passion will be completely conquered by keeping the eye steadily fixed on those glittering mansions,
Where the wicked cease from troubling, And the weary are at rest.
Christ Himself will administer this rest to the believer in the Heavenly Kingdom. Just as He is the source of peace and quiet here on earth, so is He at this moment surrounded with the saints triumphant in glory, imparting perpetual peace in the paradise of God to all the bright spirits who loved Him on earth, and kept His commandments. Yonder they enjoy eternal Sabbathism.
Let us fear, therefore, lest haply a promise being left of entering into rest, any of you should seem to come short of it through unbelief. For indeed we have good tidings preached unto us, and we which believe do enter into that rest.
Alford, in speaking of the rest on earth that resembles the rest of Heaven, says: "Our Lord does not promise (here below) freedom from toil or burdens, but rest to the soul." The rest and joy of the Christian soul is to become like Christ. To the young men, who surrounded her dying couch, she said: "_Avoid bad company, learn of Christ_; seek to be like Him, little by little." It is no wonder King David said, "As for me I will behold Thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness."
But we are to behold the royal dignity of the Redeemer, and be brought forth into a large place because He delighted in us. Yes! to die is gain. Oh! wondrous change: To behold His illimitable power and partake of His consummate wisdom and knowledge. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; "that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple, for in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion. The Christian is secure at death; he has a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens."
Here we have a continual conflict; but yonder we are made more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Here we are sinful and short-sighted; but yonder we shall partake of His perfect holiness and inexhaustible love and Divine penetration in the Heavenly Kingdom. Yes to die is infinite gain.
The spiritual enjoyment of the soul in the land of light is indescribable. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." Yonder you shall behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
You know this was a portion of the parting prayer of Jesus for His disciples. He said: "Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory." There is but a step between us and it. There is but a thin veil that parts us from the beatic vision of the blest.
I once entered the beautiful harbor of Cronstadt, in Russia, and I distinctly remember that the entrance was so narrow and land-locked, that we could scarcely discern its precise location until we had suddenly entered it. The passage from earth to Heaven is not unlike the ending of the voyage of a ship, even although many of them reach the harbor in a dismantled condition. Many a storm has been encountered, and while sails have been torn to shreds, yet the gallant bark has outweathered the gale and has escaped rocks, and quicksands, and whirlpools of destruction. But now the gale is hushed forever, the sails are all furled, the anchor is cast out, and she rides securely in the harbor where storms cannot affright. Glorious port of peace! Oh, blessed and triumphant entry! To go no more out forever; where the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them and lead them unto living fountains of water, and God Himself shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Beautiful valley of Eden, Sweet is thy noon-tide calm, Over the hearts of the weary, Breathing thy waves of balm. Home of the pure and blest; How often amid the wild billows, I dream of thy rest, sweet rest.
It was the glimpse of this rest beyond the river that lit up the pale cheek of our dear, dying sister, with seraphic brightness and beauty.
"All my fountains are in thee," said the Psalmist. God is the author of holiness. In John's vision of Heaven, he describes the four living creatures, having each of them six wings, round about and within, and they have no rest day and night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."
The great object therefore of the Gospel of the blessed God is to transform us into the Divine image. Another of our sister's dying utterances was very forcible, "_Now I have got to the edge of the river._"
"Only just across the river, Over on the other side."
We all with open face beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image.
It is thus God's people become meet for the holy inheritance. Here we have to cry out, "Oh, wretched man, who shall deliver me from the body of this death;" yonder the Spirit's work has gloriously triumphed. The believer's holiness is effectually accomplished in Heaven. Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right to come to the tree of life and may enter in by the pearly gates into the city.
Heaven is called the land of light. What is light? "Hail, holy light, offspring of Heaven's first-born." Light is pure. "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. Darkness, in God's Word, is an emblem of sin. They love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil, and every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."--John iii. 19-20.
The more we increase in the likeness of God, the greater and stronger will our light shine in this dark world, and the more will we enjoy basking in the sunshine of the light of His countenance. We are partakers _now_ of the Divine nature, but in Heaven we shall continually walk before Him who is the enlightener and the light. Oh, the gain, the bliss of dying! For we shall see His face and His name shall be in our foreheads.
Paul's prayer for the church at Colosse was "that they might be filled with the knowledge of His will, increasing in the knowledge of God, giving thanks unto the Father, who made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."--Col. i. 12.
Oh, that a view of the pure, and the great, and the good ones around the throne may be as a golden chain to bind our hearts to that home beyond the skies, where there is no night, and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light, and they shall reign forever and ever.--Rev. xxii. 5.
Dearly beloved, this is the "Night of Weeping;" but oh, remember, that it is written in His Holy Word that God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.
As we stand by the bedside of our loved ones, and watch them wasting away with disease, and as we behold their love, their patience, and Christian fortitude, we think of earth's bitter trials and earthly relationship, and of the strong tie that binds heart to heart. How touching the parting words to her only son she so tenderly loved, "_Be faithful, humble, meek, and constantly keep at the Master's feet, until He calls you up higher. Be kind and gentle to your sister Esther._" To her Pastor she said: "Preach the Gospel uncolored!" We look upon the sinking form of a dear wife and mother, or brother, or sister, or husband, or friend, and as we sadly muse upon the fact that we held sweet counsel together and walked to the House of God in company; and we softly whisper to the physician is there no hope of recovery? Can you not save that young and precious life, so dear to us, so gentle, so loving, so kind, so sympathetic, so hopeful? And as in response to our inquiry, we receive the look of pity, and the sorrowful shake of the head, it is then, in our deepest agony, amid blinding tears, and hearts almost crushed to despair, we turn to our great Father above, and we ask, why must we part? Oh, God, can you not spare him? How can I live without him?
Providential bereavements are sad scenes in life, for the scythe of death stops not to ask if they be sweet and precious to some fond wife, or mother, or brother, who knows? whom their heart chose. On! on! he pursues his desolating work, amid their sighs, their cries, and tears.
But beloved, there is no tearing of heart from heart in Heaven. There is no death there; there is no sorrow there; there is no sin there. I often think of the words of the Apostle as peculiarly appropriate to us in the hour of sad bereavement: "These light afflictions are but for a moment, but they work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
I have had persons tell me when God has suddenly removed loved ones from their midst, that God had forsaken them, that He had forgotten to be gracious. But ah, to such let me say that the Lord loveth whom He chasteneth. God is love. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.
But what is the object God has in view in thus breaking the family circle by death? It is that our attention may be attracted to the saints above, and that we may by faith behold the beauties of the Celestial city.
You know, David says, "It was good for me that I was afflicted; before I was afflicted, I went astray." We not unfrequently forget that this is not our home. But that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. God has to put us in remembrance of it. Beautiful as this world is, there is a fairer and brighter, and infinitely more lovely world above our heads. Lovely as human friendships and fellowships are here below, what are they in comparison to the felicitous condition of society in heaven?
"I would not live alway, I ask not to stay, Where storm after storm rises dark o'er the way."
There are no estranged feelings in heaven. There are no misunderstandings there. No sickness there. All, all is peace and joy and love!
Our faith in God, and in the existence of Heaven, and the possibilities of the future life, can enable us to triumph over the trials and bereavements in this vale of tears.
Dr. Guthrie asks: "Why should we not lie as calmly in the arms of God's Providence, as we lay in infancy on a mother's breast? Having an ever-living, an everlasting, an ever-loving Father in God, how may we welcome _all_ providences, sweetly submissive to the will of God. Shall it not fare with us as with the pliant reeds that love the hollows and fringe the margin of the lake, and bending to the blast, _not resisting it_, raise their heads anew, unharmed by the storm that has snapped the mountain's pine and rent the hearts of oaks asunder." "All things work together for good to them that love God; them who are the called according to His purpose."
When John was in the spirit on the Lord's Day, he heard a great voice saying, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it."
How can we best overcome the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life but by deep and continued meditation on the blessed change that takes place at the hour of death. The shadows of earth are instantly dispelled when we set our affections on things above.
"Who are these arrayed in white robes, and whence came they? These are they who have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." I remember once standing at the grave of Richard Cameron, in Ayrs Moss, and as I read the names of other martyrs engraved on the tomb-stone, I thought of the general assembly of the Church of the first-born in Heaven, and as I read God's Word there and sang a sweet Psalm of praise to Jehovah, and offered a prayer to the Father of lights, the God of Israel, I thought of the prayer of Peden, the prophet, as he sat on Cameron's grave. Lifting up his eyes steadfastly to Heaven, he prayed: "Oh, to be wi' Ritchie!"
"Often at the shades of evening, When I sit me down to rest, One by one, I count them over, They who are in glory blest."
Dearly beloved, I have a _Ritchie_ in Heaven, for I have recently learned of the death of the spiritual guide of my youth, who, in years gone by, at the close of a cottage prayer-meeting, requested me, for the first time in my life, to speak a word for Jesus. Pulling a flower from the hill-side, he said as he held it up, "I can see God in that gowan." Taking me to his room, he said, "This is my study; these are my books, I am going to be a minister of the Gospel, and then go to China."
 The late Rev. Hugh Ritchie, of Formosa, China.
Handing me a neat, little, precious volume, he said, "Take this book and study it, and commence speaking for Jesus, and help me in my meetings." Surely to such to die is gain.
Who; who, would live alway away from his God--away from yonder Heaven, that blissful abode where the noontide of glory eternally reigns, and the smile of the Lord is the feast of the soul?
Dearly beloved, we may well ask, "Who are these arrayed in white robes?" Oh, what celebrated personages are above! The prophets, the apostles, the reformers, and the martyrs of Scotland are there. For in a dream of the night I was wafted away to the moorland and moss, where the martyrs lay. When the minister's home was the mountain and flood. When they dared not worship God in daylight. Only at the dead of night, when the wintry winds raved fierce, and the thunder-peal compelled the men of blood to crouch within their den. Then the faithful few--true followers of the blessed Jesus--would venture forth to some deep dell by the rock o'er canopied; then, amid the glare of sheeted lightning, those men of God would open the sacred Book and words of comfort speak. Ah, it cost something to be a Christian in those days, when from the high foaming crest of Solway to the smoothly polished breast of Loch Katrine, not a river nor a lake but has swelled with the life's tide of religious freedom. From the bonnie highland heather of her lofty summits to the modest gowan on the lea, not a flower but has blushed with the martyr's blood. But, beloved, the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church. What holy, loving lessons does God teach us by the history of the true Church, and a thoroughly consecrated people--lessons of love, hope, fortitude, and long-suffering!
"Oh, Jesus, our Master, command to beat faster These weary life-pulses that bring us to Thee."
Our dear departed sister had the true missionary spirit. She feared not the things she was called on to suffer for Christ in her great work in this city. Let us who are left behind catch her magnanimous and heroic disposition in working for the blessed Jesus. Oh, that the spirit of our noble ancestry might come upon us! Oh, that the Holy Spirit of God may enter into all our hearts to-day, that we may be more humble, more loving, more zealous, more sympathetic, and more sincere in our toil for Christ and His Church; _then to die will be gain!_ and to Him shall be all the glory, world without end. Amen.
TESTIMONIALS AND LETTERS OF CONDOLENCE.
I've found a Friend; oh, such a Friend! So kind, and true, and tender, So wise a Counsellor and guide, So mighty a Defender! From him, who loves me now so well, What power my love can sever? Shall life, or death, or earth, or hell? No, I am his forever.
The following resolutions and letters furnish, in a pre-eminent degree, conclusive evidence of the high estimation in which His servant and handmaiden were held by ministers, elders, and Sabbath-school workers generally:
NEW YORK, January 12, 1869.
MRS. JAMES KNOWLES:
MY DEAR FRIEND--At the Annual Meeting of the Teachers' Association of the Sabbath-school of the Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, held last evening, the following action was taken:
"On motion, the cordial thanks of this Association are voted to Mrs. James Knowles for her faithful labors in behalf of our School during the past year."
The following extract from the Annual Report was also ordered to be forwarded with the foregoing:
"Mention must be made of one of our own church members, Mrs. Knowles, who has labored most devotedly for our School. In behalf of the School, the Superintendent would take this way of expressing our gratitude for her cheerful, earnest, and persevering labor. She has taken a deep interest in our School, and has shown it by hard work in its behalf."
I am very glad that the pleasant duty of making you acquainted with this action has been imposed upon me. Without your help I would oftentimes during the past year have been very much discouraged. Your readiness for Christian work, and your thoroughness in it, have both cheered and satisfied me. May you fully realize the promise given to those who are always abounding in the work of the Lord. (1 Cor. xv. 58.) And may the present year show us a continuance of your willing labors and be marked by a stronger faith in expectation and more new-born souls, as your joy and crown in realization. (Psalm cxxvi. 5-6.)
Respectfully yours in the Master,
SAMUEL B. W. MCKEE, _Superintendent_.
* * * * * *
When we take into consideration the time that elapsed between the penning of the foregoing resolutions as no vain and unmeaning compliment, and the departure of her concerning whom they were voted upon, we are led to see the importance of those words in the Apocalypse: "He that is faithful unto death shall receive a crown of eternal life." How significant are the words employed to denote their hearty appreciation of her worth. "We express our gratitude for her _cheerful_, _earnest_, and _persevering labor_. She has taken a _deep interest_ in our School and has shown it by _hard work_," etc.
We trust that our Sunday-school workers may be greatly encouraged to go and do likewise through a careful and prayerful examination of the above communication.
The following additional affectionate and deeply instructive tribute to her worth to the church and Sabbath-school is from one who was her beloved pastor for seven years--years of pure and uninterrupted Christian fellowship and disinterested devotedness to the cause of Christ.
UTICA, N.Y., November 8, 1886.
REV. DUNCAN M. YOUNG:
DEAR BROTHER--In the removal of Mr. and Mrs. James Knowles _we_ sustain a personal loss. The fact was unknown to us previous to your letter. To enjoy such friendship as they admitted us into from our first acquaintance, was not unlike a continuous salutation with the impressiveness of an unqualified _good-will_. Heaven is indeed richer for their entrance, and by so much is increasingly endeared unto us.
They were not time-servers, but, in no mere sentimental sense, God-servers. The feverish world, greedy and rushing, will know little of their value, nor miss their humble crafts so quickly trackless, and yet they really laid the world under obligation. If its life, and aim, and effort were not purer and higher, it was in spite of their actual godliness, at all times apparent.
My first introduction to Mrs. Knowles was on the first Sabbath in February, 1874; also, my first acquaintance with the Allen Street Church. Mrs. Knowles was then teaching in the Ludlow Street Mission. As a teacher, she was _simple_, _fearless_, and _Scriptural_. Her ruling passion, perhaps, was a desire to be useful in some way, adjusting herself with good grace to the requirements of advancing years. If just a little disturbed at the thought that she must contract her labors, or "hold up" at some point, the spirit was ever the same, perhaps too exacting of a body not excessively vigorous.
As a "Bible reader" she did some of her best work, and made her greatest sacrifices. Faithfulness characterized her covenant relation--seldom absent from the scenes of public worship; and the more remarkable in view of her untiring zeal and devotion in her specially God-given calling. Many will rise up and call her blessed, because, so true of her, "she went about doing good." My own indebtedness to her, as a pastor, was great. Her sympathy with the ministry seemed innate. Full of faith, and rich in peculiar experience, she was the one "to step in" at the minister's for a half-hour; and here, incidentally, I may say, that her practical views of life and knowledge of human ways turned to my advantage on repeated occasions, whenever she reported a case as worthy or unworthy. When an application for aid or comfort required investigation--that is, ultimate cases requiring delicate, careful treatment, often impossible for the pastor to do--her feminine instinct and sagacity of experience took it in hand with a readiness that was surprising, in view of her always full hands. A gentle, trustful soul, a frank, unwavering friend, a pious, useful woman, and a faithful wife and mother, her rest will be sweet.
If the beginning of my acquaintance with her companion dates somewhat later, it ripened early, I suppose mutually so, into a strong attachment. Integrity of character was my first impression of the man; whether an instinct or a judgment, there never was a doubt as to its correctness. Strong in faith, also--_the old-time faith_, of apostolic color, for he took no pleasure in "new departures." Sound in doctrine, fervent in spirit, wise in council, stable in action, he was truly a strong "pillar in the house of the Lord." If he wrought obscurely, as the world moves, my impression is that he did some excellent work for eternity in the most quiet sort of way. I do not think Heaven could be a surprise to one of his habits and trend of life. He could assimilate the good easily. Though positive in his feelings, and sensitive of attachment, he was no mere man-worshipper, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, so long as it was the _Word of Christ_, faithfully, earnestly preached; he was a responsive hearer. The chief desire was that the _word_ should be successful. Perhaps simplicity was as characteristic as any other distinct trait. If he did not choose the uppermost seats he occupied them becomingly when once bidden to take them.
I remember him not so much by means of incidents--his life was not formed on that plan; but by the deep impression of genuine, unpretentious godliness.
If I have written at too great length, my heart is full. In deep sympathy with those who will so surely mourn their loss, and grateful for the privilege of a tribute, I am,
GEORGE O. PHELPS, _An Ex-Pastor_.
* * * * * *
The more I read and study the phraseology of this letter, welling up out of a full heart, the more I am convinced of its adaptedness to impart encouragement to others the same in kind and degree as was doubtless reciprocally experienced in days of yore, "for as iron sharpeneth iron, so does the countenance of man his friend."
Here is another tender and terse tribute from the same source to their only son--the request for particulars regarding their last illness, which produced the leaflet entitled "A Short Account of the Last Hours"--that has been already a rich spiritual blessing to many souls.
UTICA, N.Y., November, 1886.
MR. WM. KNOWLES:
DEAR BROTHER--We have just learned of the departure of your dear parents. Our attachment to them was exceptionally strong, even as our association in the Master's work was intimate.
I have been looking over your father's letters, too few in numbers; how full of human kindness, how intensely godly.
Be assured of our sincere regard for you and others in this great bereavement.
May we not receive, at your convenience, particulars of their last illness and going? We have no knowledge of either case.
Very sincerely yours,
GEORGE O. PHELPS.
* * * * * *
The subjoined is the answer to the reception of the account of their last hours on earth.
UTICA N.Y., November 30, 1886.
MR. WM. KNOWLES:
MY DEAR SIR AND BROTHER--You have laid us under great obligation by your lengthy and painstaking statement respecting your lamented parents. Seldom have we been affected so deeply as in the reading of it, which came so appropriately as to time and feeling, just as we were closing one of the sweetest meetings of our little "_Gospel Band_." Yes, truly, those dear, true friends of ours were as "little children" in "the Kingdom of Heaven."
Nothing would afford me greater satisfaction than to be able to add further by word or incident what you desire to gather up by way of a grateful memorial. As I stated in my letter to Mr. Young, my impressions were made by their uniform consistency of character, and not by any particular event or circumstance. Perhaps the enclosed letters will afford characteristic illustration of your father's habitual godliness or tenor of life. As to your mother, why, she was always "going about doing good," seemingly never tiring.
What death-bed scenes! If those faithful words of hers are ever forgotten, somebody will have a hard witness against them at last. Their memory is indeed blessed. We will all try to profit by their examples of godly fidelity, and faithful admonitions. With the sincerest sympathy, I am,
GEORGE O. PHELPS.
* * * * * *
UTICA, N.Y., February 17, 1887.
MR. WM. KNOWLES:
DEAR BROTHER--You have laid us under new obligations. On my study table is a picture of the pastor of my childhood--It has been there nearly my entire ministry. You can conceive the influence it is designed to exert over me. Now there will be, if not in my study exclusively, in our house itself, the constant stimulus of such reminders of devotion as these two most welcome pictures.
We are indeed very grateful to you for them; your filial love was strong while they lived, and must be quickened by their death, but if anybody _outside_ of the circle of kindred exceeds our veneration for your parents, _they_ deserve it all. We certainly cannot fail to cherish what has been so well done by the artist, the expression in both pictures is so characteristic. It seems, when we dwell intently upon them and let thoughts come and go at liberty, that the lips must open and pleasant words come from them as in life; but they do speak, nevertheless, and as distinctly, and as affectionately. Oh! that we were more worthy to hear. And that blessing upon yourself, how valuable and hopeful, or encouraging it must be.
I know you will share it with others, and so make a saintly life still reproductive. The world needs nothing so much as _positive Christian character_.
Permit me to say that we are greatly prospered in our work, and have hand and heart seemingly full; but, old Allen Street has _a warm place_ in our affection always. Our united regards.
GEORGE O. PHELPS.
* * * * * *
The reader will surely notice the true, touching, and graphic account of their work in the next letter.
UTICA, N.Y., April 8, 1887.
REV. MR. YOUNG:
DEAR SIR AND BROTHER--While my mind is full of impressions concerning the life and work of Mr. and Mrs. Knowles, it is not easy to withdraw the details, and give you any real satisfaction. The very simplicity and humility of their ways and deeds render it impossible to make any adequate illustration--not that incidents are lacking. Why, there are families in the vicinity of Allen Street who could relate incidents by the hour touching the gentle care of Mrs. Knowles for the needy and sick.
Here her life can never be written in full. "Oh, Mr. Phelps, how sad it is about Mrs. K---- and her little family." "Poor L----, she is going just like her brother, and they don't want me to tell her of our fears." "I have just been to see poor Mr. H----, he cannot live--he doesn't seem to realize it; and then what will become of his family? I have tried so long to get them into the Sabbath-school." "I have just come from Mrs. F---- (a woman of means and Christian charity), who encouraged me greatly in the care of that family where the father is in the hospital." "Mr. Phelps, can you go to No. 12 ---- Street, and see a young man who is sick, and will have to go to the hospital? No friends, and I have been trying to make him comfortable." "Mr. Phelps, can you attend the funeral of a child on ---- Street? It did suffer so much--its mother is on the Island."
These were common to her work, as I now recall them; not sentimental products of imagination, but facts, only lacking the details to make the tenor of her life stranger than fiction. To see her quietly enter some abode of the lowly, her soft and gentle greeting to the housewife engaged in her home duties, the aspect, perhaps, a forlorn one, and hear her words of heart-felt sympathy and encouragement, her solicitude for the little ones, that they might be "trained in the way of the Lord," and that simple, fervent, trustful prayer, which seems so befitting as to excite no repellant feeling; and that parting word which would go straight to the mother-heart. Here is a picture of Christian-following which even Munkacsy could not paint.
The Master reserves some things for future inspection. We have no sufficient canvas for these in such humble, useful lives.
Her faithfulness in dealing with the erring was remarkable; seemingly without fear of man, and yet always full of gentleness.
We had a way of investigating cases appealing for charity. One day a girl, nine or ten years of age, came to the door with a basket asking for something; her mother was a widow and poor, baby sick, etc., etc.
We asked Mrs. Knowles to look into the case. She went to the place given, and at first there was some mistake, or, perhaps, a purposed misdirection; but, nothing daunted by the difficulties encountered, she succeeded in gaining admittance to apartments on the second floor, where, instead of poverty and sickness, she found the mother in the midst of evident comfort, seated at her piano, who at first denied all knowledge of the little charity girl, and was only confronted successfully by the entrance unguardedly of the child herself.
If confusion ever overtook a mortal fraud, in which an active apprehension and deep humiliation were successfully involved; it was then and there in the presence of _holy indignation on fire_. Mrs. Knowles was simply irresistible in such cases.
Now, dear brother, I hardly know what use you can possibly make of this, but my prayers shall go with your work of perpetuating their memory.
Very sincerely yours,
GEORGE O. PHELPS
* * * * * *
The thought that the servants of Christ are praying for us is very cheering in the prosecution of our work.
The facts enumerated in the following letter from Pastor Chambers contain a thousand thoughts as descriptive of what every Christian ought to pray for and strive after, namely, to be, as he expresses it, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile.
How expressive in this connection are the words of the apostle, "_Take heed_ lest there be found in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God."
NEW YORK, November 9, 1886.
REV. D. MCNEILL YOUNG:
DEAR BROTHER--Your letter informing me of the death of Mr. and Mrs. Knowles was forwarded to me from Harrisburg, to this city.
I had seen a notice of Mr. Knowles' death in a New York paper, but had not known of the departure of his wife, whose death, under such circumstances, had a pathos peculiar to itself. Her presence at his funeral, it would seem, was more than her affectionate testimony to their past devotion to each other. It was her unconscious prophecy of their speedy reunion in the presence of Him whom they both loved and served.
You ask me for some information in regard to them, during the time of my ministry in this city. They both illustrated the truth of the remark, that "to be useful, it is not necessary to be conspicuous." Mr. Knowles was "an Israelite indeed, in whom was no guile." Gentle and peaceable in spirit, loving the house of God, rejoicing in the spiritual prosperity of the church, _speaking evil of no man_, a firm friend of his minister, relishing all conversation upon divine things, frequenting the place of prayer where he was often heard leading the devotions of the people in simple, earnest, Scriptural petition, and ever willing to help in Sabbath-school work, or any other form of Christian activity in which he might be of service--he was just such a man as any pastor is glad to have as a friend and helper. He was a ruling elder in the church from the time I first knew him, and in that capacity was one of the first to welcome me to New York. He was unobtrusive in all meetings of session, but never failed to give his suggestions on all matters that came before him, but was happiest when it was his privilege as an elder to welcome to the communion of the church those who confessed Christ.
Mrs. Knowles I knew as a warm friend of the church, while at the same time a faithful member of that band of Bible readers whose blessed work is best known by the Divine Master. She enjoyed that service for Christ; she loved to talk about it. Her fidelity and consecration are known to those under whose superintendence she labored; but the results of her devotion are a matter of divine record. May it not be that she has now discovered the real dignity and the glorious consequences of a service which she humbly, yet lovingly followed here, and that in Heaven's high fellowship the faithful Bible reader has a place of peculiar honor?
I can only say, in conclusion, that a church is bereaved indeed when two such Christians are taken from it. The Providence that calls them away should not only stimulate those who remain to a holier activity, but should also elevate our thoughts and affections, and make us the more glad that at the end of our journey, and the cessation of our earthly activities, we will discover the still grander meaning of Christ and Heaven.
GEORGE S. CHAMBERS.
* * * * * *
The next letter is from one who materially aided her in helping the necessitous.
November 21, 1886.
REV. DUNCAN MCNEILL YOUNG:
DEAR SIR--Absence from the city has prevented my answering your kind note received only last evening.
I have no statistical facts to give you, relative to our dear Mrs. Knowles, but I can testify to her interest in her work until the last, her lovely Christian spirit shown under all circumstances, and her love for her Heavenly Father.
She seemed to me to be supremely happy and content with whatever lot was given her.
I was not able to be with her when she was ill, but was at her funeral.
She must be missed in her field of labor, and I am sure I shall miss her prayers for myself.
Hoping this will be of some use to you, I am,
M. T. FISKE.
* * * * * *
The annexed note of commendation from the Rev. Dr. Conkling, of this city, who formerly labored in word and doctrine with the deceased, in connection with the Allen Street Church, is concise yet comprehensive. How much is implied in these words--_faithful, loving, earnest, prayerful and consistent Christians!_
NEW YORK CITY, November, 1886.
DEAR MR. YOUNG--My acquaintance with Mr. and Mrs. Knowles was so limited that my knowledge of them could be only of the most general character. I knew them, as all who knew them could testify, as earnest, loving Christians, faithful in their church duties, prayerful and consistent; and evidently living always near to Christ. I prized their friendship much; I feel how deep the loss to the church must be in being deprived of their active influence and their believing prayers.
With thanks for your kindly note, conveying the sacred request, I remain, dear sir,
NATH'L W. CONKLING.
* * * * * *
To show how greatly beloved they were by all denominations we insert this closing tribute from a dear servant of Christ, whose calm, clear eye of penetration recognized that, by prayerfully studying the character of Christ we became assimilated to His glorious image. He is a member of the Society of Friends.
CLINTONDALE, N.Y., June 23, 1887.
DUNCAN M. YOUNG:
DEAR BROTHER--Yours received, bearing us news indeed. We had not heard before of the demise of our dear Brother and Sister Knowles.
The effect of it at first, to me, was that I could scarcely speak for a fulness of feeling which it produced, and a home-sickness for the home where they have gone.
My memory was immediately taken back to the visit I paid them a year ago last spring, which was _very pleasant_ and soul-refreshing, and especially to the parting _kiss_ that the dear Mother in Israel gave me on my parting from them; and also she gave me a supply of beautiful tracts, which I had the privilege of using to the comfort of two souls on the cars as I was returning home, and some of the tracts I have yet, and you can depend on it I place higher value on them than ever before.
The little leaflet you sent us is very appropriate indeed, but none can do them justice in writing of them, for we do not know of all their heart-yearnings and achings over poor wanderers, and their personal private labors for their salvation, neither can we ever know until we see the record of it all up there.
And may you, dear Brother, as the honored minister of God, carry out literally her exhortation to you, "Preach the Gospel Uncolored."
Accept my sincere thanks for your kindness in writing us, and sending the leaflets. You asked if I could use any of them? I can, certainly, and there are a few around here yet living who remember our departed sister and brother when they boarded at our house.
I unite in interest and prayer with you for your important Work in the abundant ripe fields of Harvest, and pray that you will receive many souls for your hire.
I am, yours sincerely, and in the love of the pure Gospel of the Kingdom of our Christ,
ERASTUS S. ANDREWS.
* * * * * *
"They lived, and they were useful; this we know. Oh, take who will the boon of fading fame! But give to me A place among the workers, though my name Forgotten be, And if within the book of life is found My lowly place, Honor and glory unto God redound For all His grace!"
Oh, could I flow like thee, and make thy stream My great example, as it is my theme! Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull; Strong without rage; without o'erflowing full.
In concluding these memoirs and looking back over the lives of our departed brother and sister, there is a great lesson to be learned--that of _example_. Such example as theirs possesses incalculable power of effecting good. It takes deep and tenacious root; it fructifies with amazing rapidity and profusion, and flourishes where precept would utterly perish. Its impression is so indelible, that the greatest difficulty is experienced when attempting to eradicate it. The salutary influence which good example propagates, we find stamped on every avocation in life. In some people a heinous negligence, and in others a culpable apathy is evinced with respect to the principles their conduct is implanting. Profuse illustrations abound in every profession, calling, and trade, of the effect of evil example, and also of the disregard paid to its consequences. Whether or not this regardlessness arises from negligence, or ignorance, it is difficult to determine. All classes of society possess, undoubtedly, though in varying degrees, the important power of exemplifying good or evil, and it behooves them to act with greater circumspection and discretion with respect to the injurious consequences which their examples may evoke, having due regard to the avidity which is shown by weak minds to follow example, however pernicious. It is natural for man to imitate a model or pattern, as it thereby affords him a much easier and more agreeable opportunity of forming his ideas on any particular subject. Nor is example confined to those holding high public positions. Its presence and power are experienced as much from the humblest Bible woman as from the greatest shining light in the pulpit. I admit that influence, good or evil, is propagated to a greater extent when the source from which it emanates is more prominently before the gaze of the world than if it were less public; but I am persuaded that the closer the relationship between the one who exerts the influence and the one upon whom it takes effect, the more deep and lasting will the impression prove, and any endeavors to eradicate it will involve more strenuous efforts and diligent application than where there is no sympathetic feeling evinced by the one toward the other.
The implicitness with which example is followed is subject to considerable variations, for I am inclined to think that the lower the moral position the greater the aptitude for imitation is displayed. This arises from the incapability of those who occupy such positions to tear asunder the forms which envelope them, and strike a path untrodden for themselves. They find it much more congenial to their tastes and pursuits to act as others around them usually do than to alienate themselves and endeavor to live more in accordance with the laws of morality. No one can deny, especially those who knew her well, that Mrs. Knowles's great success was as much derived from her example and humility as from any power of teaching and persuasion she possessed. And now, dear readers, those of you who have not the gift of leading others into the paths of virtue and morality by the gift of ready speech or the force of your conversation and address, can at least so regulate your conduct that the little world around you may look up to _you_ as an example, however humble your position in it may be.
There are lesser lights along the iron-bound coast of England than the Eddystone; still they serve the purpose for which they were erected. Yea, the widow's lamp, in the window of the cottage by the sea, saved her own son from shipwreck. The Talisman's motto ought to be ours:
"Be watchful, be ready, for shipwreck prepare, Keep an eye on the life-boat, but never despair!"
All along our coast the Government has built massive and strong light-houses to guide and warn the tempest-tossed mariner. The passage may have been hazardous to many a staunch ship and brave crew, occasioned by constant exposure to a multiplicity of dangers seen and unseen. Who can tell of the deep anxiety of the gloomy days and nights they spent waiting and watching, while many a keen blast has mournfully whistled through the shrouds, and many a billow has threatened to engulf their bark; but how cheering is yonder light streaming forth amid the densest darkness. It speaks with trumpet-tongue to the bewildered navigator, and says, "This is the course, steer ye by it." How refreshing the sight. How assuring those bright beams that quiver over the perilous sea. Clouds and wind must not affright, for the gladsome welcome light of example interposes between us and disappointment and despair. "Ye are the light of the world," said Jesus. It is by beholding the lights that once shone on earth, that are now shining as the stars for ever and ever in heaven, that we, seeing their good works do glorify our Father in Heaven.
How many, alas! are utterly unconscious of the power of a godly example; it is only prayerful reflection upon it that rivets the connecting link between earth and heaven. Endearing attachments are formed and gradually, eternally perpetuated, strengthened by constant companionship. It is then we become truer-hearted, more gentle, more generous, and more affectionate. Exquisitely rounded Christian character is only thus obtained. Our hearts, and glad, willing service ought to be laid on the same altar as our humble offering, in proof of the profit and pleasure that we have experienced in reviewing the career of those great examples worthy of study and imitation. This is the only explanation we can give for penning this memorial. Our hearts were deeply stirred by the words uttered with the dying breath of Mrs. Knowles, when she said to me, "PREACH THE GOSPEL UNCOLORED;" I want to recognize their importance as synonymous with Paul's exhortation to Timothy, "Preach the Word." Yes, dear reader, this is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and it is quick and powerful. We must wield it earnestly and bravely in the great conflict of life, constantly reiterating the Bible woman's dying words:
"MY DAY IS SHORT, I MUST FINISH MY WORK!"
In perusing these memoirs, we ask, Who can read the foregoing correspondence and record of God's goodness to His saints, and through them to perishing souls, promiscuously scattered among all classes, and creeds, and colors, Jews and Gentiles alike, without feelings of unfeigned gratitude to God for raising up two such worthy persons to adorn "the doctrine of God, our Saviour?"
Our earnest prayer is, that the Holy Spirit will not allow to pass unobserved such lives of usefulness and self-sacrifice, without awakening a deeper interest in the lapsed masses of the lower part of this city.
We sincerely trust, also, that the publication and perusal of this humble effort to glorify God by perpetuating the memory of the loved ones so fondly cherished shall not be all in vain, and fall on the heart as a dead letter, "like the wind that passes over the rock, leaving it harder than before." Mr. D. L. Moody once said, "I never saw a man who was aiming to do the best work, but there could be some improvement; I never did anything in my life that I didn't think I could have done better, and I have often upbraided myself that I had not done better. But to sit down and find fault with other people when we are doing nothing ourselves is all wrong, and is the opposite of holy, patient, divine love." May we rather be of that number concerning whom it is said, "Blessed are those servants, who, when their Lord shall come, He will find watching."
The sunset of life will come sooner or later, "Let us, then, give earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." Especially let us consider the importance of Mrs. Knowles's final farewell exhortation: "_Be kind, gentle, and patient. Be faithful, humble, meek, and constantly keep at the Master's feet until He calls you up higher._" If we take heed to these dying words, we will be able easily to appropriate as our own the sweet solacing words in the Song of Songs, "I sat under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit was sweet unto my taste. He brought me into His banqueting house, and His banner over me was love."
In bidding our readers adieu, I would, in conclusion, urge that they seriously reflect upon the significance of the Bible woman's last triumphant utterances: "Once I was young, now I am old, and have never been forsaken."
Who to their reward will say them nay, In Heaven or on Earth: Brave Pilgrims of Israel, pass'd away-- We till now ne'er knew your worth! Go! write out their lives on leaves of gold, With characters of love, Let the future know, when we are cold, Of our loved ones gone above.