Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

was brought forward, from which a chapter was read, upon which he made a few remarks, and then uttered a fervent prayer. It seemed to come from a patriarch's lips, and to be instinct with the devotion of that future world, on whose borders he stood.

We retired early to rest, and arose with the sun, on the morning of the Sabbath. The trembling voice of the aged servant of Christ mingled with the early stirrings of the morning breeze, and welcomed, in the animated accents of praise, the blessed recollections of holy time. His whole air was serene, tranquil, and thoughtful. He seated himself again by the door of his cottage, and remained there, musing and conversing at intervals, until we were summoned to the public service.

My attention had been so much diverted from myself, and my mind so interested in the conversation and character of this good old man, that I passed through the trial of my opening ministry with far bappier feelings than I had anticipated. When the exercise was concluded, he arose in his place, and reminded the church that the emblems of their Master's love awaited them. Would to God,” said he, in his feeble, tremulous voice, while he turned bis eyes around upon the congregation—" would to God, that ye were all disposed and ready to partake of them. My infirmities warn me that this is the last time they will be dispensed by my hand. Ab, why are ye not all waiting to receive them? For more than half a century have I broken this bread here. How often, in that long period, have I entreated and urged you all to come and partake. I have warned, and admonished, and pleaded with you, even unto tears. And yet how many of you suffer me to leave

you, and
carry up

with
me,
when I

go hence, the sad story that you have no mark of gratitude for a Saviour's love, no obedience for a Saviour's dying command. You are willing to oppress my last hours with the bitter thought that for many

I have laboured in and though I have loved you here, I may hardly hope to join you again in the eternal communion with the saints. Dear friends, let it not be thus. I stand bere to bid you farewell. Who of you is willing that it should be eternal? Who of you would part never to meet again? I bope and pray for better things. I will hope, that although we have not sat down together here, we shall be permitted to do it hereafter. And let me ask of you, for this once at

[ocr errors]

of you

vain;

least, this last opportunity, not to leave me: but remain, one and all, to witness, though you do not participate. Who can tell how it may please God to manifest himself to you? Who can tell, while we all join our prayers and devotions for the last time, what influence may descend to bless us? Who can tell but our remaining together now may be the omen that we shall be prepared to meet in a higher state?"

The effect of this unexpected address, delivered with quivering lips, and the piercing accents of deep and earnest feeling, was irresistible. Not one of the congregation left his place. The minister descended to the table, and an affecting service ensued, whose deep and touching solemnity I have never seen surpassed. Many there were, who, like myself, received impressions that never passed away, And many, I doubt not, will be found at the Supper of the Lamb in heaven, who, but for that hour's holy and overwhelming feeling, had never sat at his table on earth.

It will not be thought surprising, that, by the scene which I have just described, Mr. Carve dale was en. tirely exhausted. While the excitement of the occasion lasted, he looked and spoke with almost the animation of youth. But, when it was over, be sank down weak, trembling, and nearly fainting. The old chords had been stretched more than they could bear, and lost their tone for ever.

When the people had dispersed, he attempted to rise from his seat and follow them, but was unable. Several of his friends advanced to his assistance.

- The light is almost burned down,” said he, in a voice scarcely audible; "might it only go out here at the altar, how privileged I should be!" Some one expressed a hope that it might be yet continued for a season, to the benefit of bis church. He shook his head. “ No," said he; “and why should I wish it? It is only a flickering, fitful flame. It may brighten a moment to-day, but will be dim again tomorrow, and cheer no one. No; my poor flock need a vigorous flame, a burning and shining light. I am wasted. And if it please my God soon to remove me to a place among the stars of the firmament, why should I lament, or why should you? For I have that hope I thank God, I have that hope."

This he said with frequent interruptions, showing that his spirit was stirring, though his body was weak. He seemed unable to say more, and was carried in the arms

[ocr errors]

of his friends to his house, and placed in bed. He fell into a sleep, which the physician declared to be the preJude of death, and wbich he said it would be useless and cruel to disturb by attempting to prolong life.“ The machine," said he, “is worn out, and will gradually come to a stop.”

He remained in this state, apparently unconscious of what was passing around him, until I was summoned to the afternoon service. In the same state I found him on my return. In the mean time, the report had obtained currency among his parishioners, that their minister was dying. With affectionate concern they crowded around bis dwelling, and manifested the strongest sense of his worth and liveliest gratitude for his past services. Never bave I known eulogy more eloquent than that which I read in their tearful eyes, and whispering voices, as they stood silently waiting, or anxiously conversing, before the door and beneath the windows. Their sound was distinctly heard in the chamber, as I stood with his friends beside his bed. It at length seemed to arouse bim, and be opened his eyes.

" What is this?” said he. “ The people have come from meeting," it was replied, " and are anxious to know how

you

do." “ They are kind souls,” replied the old minister; and, turning his eyes around as if looking for some one, he called me by name. I bent over bim, and he took my hand. “Go to them, my young friend; tell them I thank them for all their fidelity and kindness. Carry them my last farewell. Bid them remember my last instructions; and God bless them."

I went to the door, and beckoning to the several groups, collected them together, and spoke to them as I was desired. When I returned to the chamber, the good old man was taking leave of bis friends, and to each of them giving his blessing. He called for me.

He was exhausted, and could no more speak audibly. His lips moved, and I thought I would have given worlds to know what they would utter. After a few moments' silence, be exerted himself again, and we understood him to ask that there might be prayers. I kneeled down, with his band still in mine, and commended his spirit, in such words as I was able, to the great Father of mercy. It was a solemn moment. There was a silence and awe like that of the tomb, interrupted only by the laborious breathing of

[ocr errors]

the dying man, and the low voice of youthful supplication. When I had ended, he pressed my hand, but said nothing. We feared that he would not speak again; but it was permitted us to hear his last words distinctly. For, when something had been said respecting the good man's support in death, he spoke out audibly, “ THE TESTIMONY OF CONSCIENCE, THE MERCY OF GOD IN CHRIST.” This was his last effort. We stood silently watching for his departing breath, when, as the sun was going down, its beams forced their way through an opening amid the branches of the thick trees wbich grew before the windows, and fell before his face. A smile came over his countenance, and, before it had entirely passed away, he ceased to breathe. I remembered his conversation on the preceding evening, and rejoiced at his quiet departure.

When it was known that their pastor was actually dead, all those of his parishioners who had not retired to their homes, pressed into the bouse to take a last look of one whom they had loved and reverenced so much. Not a word was spoken by any one in the chamber of death. The silent gaze, the tearful eye, and the cautious tread, evinced the impression which was upon every heart, and the feeling of awe with wbich the sleep of the patriarch was contemplated.

My own feelings during these scenes it is impossible for me to describe. But I have always felt, that I had reason to thank God for appointing me to open my ministry in so singular and affecting a manner. The serenity

ed piety, and the peace of a Christian death-bed, gave me impressions which helped still more to prepare me for my work. I am certain that for years this day was present almost constantly to my mind, and endowed me with courage, fortitude, and spirituality, which I might not otherwise bave attained.

(To be Continued.)

of

The Moral Argument against Calvinism-by Dr.

Channing.
(Concluded from p. 262.)

It is asked, on what authority we ascribe to God goodness and rectitude, in the sense in which these attributes belong to men, or how we can judge of the nature of attributes in the mind of the Creator? We answer by asking, How it is that we become acquainted with the mind of a fellow creature? The last is as invisible, as removed from immediate inspection, as the first. Still we do not hesitate to speak of the justice and goodness of a neighbour; and how do we gain our knowledge? We answer, by witnessing the effects, operations, and expressions of these attributes. It is a law of our nature to argue from the effect to the cause, from the action to the agent, from the ends proposed and from the means of pursuing them, to the character and disposition of the being in whom we observe them. By these processes, we learn the invisible mind and character of man; and by the same we ascend to the mind of God, whose works, effects, operations, and ends, are as expressive and significant of justice and goodpess, as the best and most decisive actions of men. If this reasoning be sound, (and all religion rests upon it,) then God's justice and goodness are intelligible attributes, agreeing essentially with the same qualities in ourselves. Their operation indeed is infinitely wider, and they are employed in accomplishing not only immediate but remote and unknown ends. Of consequence, we must expect that many parts of the divine administration will be obscure, that is, will not produce immediate good, and an immediate distinction between virtue and vice. But still the unbounded operation of these attributes does not change their nature. They are still the same, as if they acted in the narrowest sphere. We can still determine in many cases what does not accord with them. We are particularly sure that those essential principles of justice, which enter into and even form our conception of this attribute, must pervade every province and every period of the administration of a just being, and that to suppose the Creator in any instance to forsake them, is to charge him directly with unrighteousness, however loudly the lips may compliment his equity.

“ But is it not presumptuous in man,” it is continually said, “ to sit in judgment on God?” We answer, that to “sit in judgment on God,” is an ambiguous and offensive phrase, conveying to common minds the ideas of irreverence, boldness, familiarity. The question would be better stated thus;—Is it not presumptuous in man to judge concerning God, and concerning what agrees or disagrees with bis attributes? We answer confidently, No; for in

« FöregåendeFortsätt »