'Full direction need. Or miss his providential way.'
God will guide him continually, and often, in a manner most wonderful, supply light and counsel, in times of perplexity, or need. Mrs. Lyth had in early life committed to memory large portions of the Word of God; the Bible was the book of her choice—her daily study; and her love for it became more impassioned as life rolled on to its close. Hence, as she was in the habit of prayerfully seeking direction in all her movements, its precious truths were constantly brought to remembrance. Indeed, in some parts of her diary, scarcely a day passes without the record of some scripture thus applied, most commonly as her first morning thought, which furnished profitable reflection for the day.
"1846.—Called to see one I saw on Saturday, but she is no more. Whither is she gone? Pursued my way to visit another sick friend. When I approached her bedside, she said she was very ill in body, and very miserable in mind. After a few words we knelt down. The Lord was graciously pleased to give the spirit of prayer; and faith realized the blessing. She cried out, 'I am Thine, glory be to God!' How good it is when God comes down, and melts our frozen nature!—I have commenced reading Matthew Henry's Commentary; how far I shall live to read, I know not; but I have commenced it with prayer, and by God's help intend so to continue.—Invited the Clothing Committee to tea. For some days before, I prayed that we might be directed into the love of God. Being, as I believe, the oldest, I ventured to take the lead, and we had a little band-meeting. All spoke and prayed. Afterward I was painfully exercised; but I cast myself, with all my imperfections, upon God.—In visiting the School I felt prompted to speak a few words to the children, and made the attempt. The words impressed upon my mind were 'Even a child is known by his doings.'—Sought out Mrs. ——, to whom I spoke plainly; also called upon another christian friend, one, who is placed in slippery places in public life;—prayed with them: and now my work is before Thee, wilt Thou be pleased to acknowledge my feeble endeavours to help Thy people on?—I have today been engaged in obtaining Ladies' signatures to memorialize the Queen for the suppression of houses of ill fame.—A pleasant drive to Harrogate. Came, resolved to give myself to prayer, and have felt it good to draw nigh to God.—While sitting at my work about three o'clock, the thought occurred, 'Look into the little book lying on the table.' I did so, and on opening it, read, 'Rise and pray.' I was thus reminded of my engagement with a friend, and was thankful for the admonition.—I felt reproved for uttering a matter which, though true, would have been better unsaid. When will my tongue be brought into due subjection?
"Cleethorpes. Much of the day passed upon the terrace. Had a conversation with a Church lady, to whom the Lord enabled me to speak of the things of God; and have since been praying that conviction may fasten upon her conscience.—Was sent for to visit a lady upon a sick bed, with whom I had a free conversation. I have now seen her three or four times, and she seems really in earnest to save her soul. She has known something of the truth for fifteen years; but is much depressed by a nervous affection. I have been led to admire the harmonies and adaptations of nature. Can it be that God should thus provide for man in his fallen condition, and will He forget to provide for His own? Never! Infinite Power, is infinite love.—Called to see a person who is sick, but was disappointed. However, I conversed and prayed with her mother, and afterward went to read to a poor blind woman who is in the way to heaven.—Called to see a person with whom I conversed a few days ago;—heard her groaning in great pain, but did not see her. The daughter, who is also ill and much harassed with attending upon her mother, said, they had now no time for religion, as affliction put every thing else out of their thoughts; yet she admitted its importance. I gave her a few words of counsel, and when I left, told her I should pray for them. She looked at me with surprise, and we parted, probably to meet no more till we meet at the bar of God. Both of them knew something of religion years ago. Lord, save me from trifling.—Left Cleethorpes at six. The Grimsby packet was crowded, and there were many wicked people on board. I was glad when we reached Hull.—Two of my members lie at the point of death; one, above eighty, is perhaps already gone. She has not been able to attend her class for some years, but I have regularly visited her; and often been encouraged while praying with her. A wicked son has been a great trouble to her, and, I am informed, often used her ill. To the last she expressed confidence in God. I have seen her several times since the commencement of this last affliction, which has only been of a week's duration. Last night she was just entering the valley, and the power of recollection was nearly gone. The other, whom I also saw last night, is aged, and with a happy expression of countenance declared her trust in God, and hope of heaven. Two others that I saw, both above eighty, were joyfully waiting their release."
Exiled from my Father's home, A pilgrim here below; Looking,—longing, lo! I come More of Thy love to know. Let me here, like Mary, sit; Claim Thee every moment mine; Willing always to submit, And lose my will in Thine.
"I retain the earnest desire after full dedication to God, Spared to see the last moments of another year; I am resolved that God shall have my heart. Worthless enough! But the atonement! Here is my hope and consolation. Yes, my all centres here."
"1847.—A friend came to request me to write to a sister, who is in trouble through bereavement. Never did I so clearly apprehend the responsibility of acting for the Lord. May the attempt be blessed.—Visited the School, and was glad to find that some of the children remembered what I said to them a year ago. This shows the importance of storing the youthful mind with what is worth remembering. I requested them to commit to memory the 23rd Psalm. Six or eight have done so, and repeated it correctly. Addressed and prayed with them. This finishes my month of visitation.—I have to record the merciful interposition of Providence, beyond my expectation, in a matter which has occasioned me much pain. On this account I wish to be thankful. Surely the Lord has heard my prayer. Let this induce me to exercise a firmer reliance upon His promise, being 'careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, making my requests known unto God.'—In visiting some of the Lord's people, I think I was directed aright."
I would, in every footstep, move To meet the Saviour whom I love.
"Called upon Mrs. W., in dying circumstances. I have seen her twice, and feel encouraged. The world becomes more empty. Christ is all.—Believing it to be my duty, I visited the surviving sons of Mrs. W., to urge them to follow their deceased parent. They seemed to welcome my visit, and invited me to call again.
"Sinnington.—Visited several of the villagers, with an anxious desire that I might be useful to them. Visited my departed friends in the churchyard; I hope to join them soon. On one of the gravestones I read
'The grave has eloquence, its lectures teach In language louder, than divines can preach.'"
"I was again solicited to take the presidency of the sewing meeting;—a position, which to me appears increasingly important. Want of punctuality, and other evils, are creeping in. Lord, I am Thine, I would do that which is right in Thy sight, teach me; and, by the control of Thy providence, let this organization be placed on the best footing, that it may contribute to Thy glory.—Mrs. Wilson from Fiji, came to spend the day with us before she returned home. How sweet is the cement of prayer! How it knits us to one another! My heart filled when I saw her. I could have wept. She brings pleasing tidings from my son.—After much deliberation we determined to go to Harrogate. I believe it is the right time. While on my knees before the Lord, it was suggested, 'He shall bless thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and for evermore.' I felt it was from the Lord, and believed it. We had an agreeable journey, and on our arrival a person accosted us, and asked if we required lodgings. We went with her to look at them, and found them congenial to our wishes. The parties are members of our society: another proof of our heavenly Father's care.—This evening I had the opportunity of speaking to one of the cavalry gentlemen. He thanked me, and said he would think about it.—A day of severe exercise. I was constrained to go to the throne of grace, where I found help, and was enabled to rise above what otherwise would have grieved me much. The grand secret, I believe, was the giving up my own will. May I ever have power to do it.—In my sleep, the words were continually running in my mind, 'Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.' Only enable me to endure; let Thy righteous will be done."
Glorious Lord, appear, appear To Thy feeble follower here; By Thy grace my heart prepare, All Thy righteous will to bear.
"The words, 'I will be with him in trouble,' have greatly comforted me. Faith makes them mine; glory be to God!—At the sewing meeting I read the first section of Bramwell's Memoir. During tea I took the opportunity of speaking of the propriety of improving our time while together, admonished as we were by the sudden removal of so many around us; also of the necessity of punctuality in our attendance, that we might not offer a blemished sacrifice. The sequel will show with what effect.—As far as opportunity and strength permitted, I have occupied these two days in visiting my members, and my afflicted friend, Miss Bentley. She knew me, and desired me to pray; but soon fell into a slumber. This was the last time she spoke to me.—Saw her again; about half-past four she died—to live for ever.—It is now the last hour of 1847. I enjoy peace of mind and hunger after righteousness. I long to fill up my time according to the will of God, and if I live, to be more useful than I have ever been."
Oh! let Thy still small voice Say to my inmost soul, 'I am thy God; believe, rejoice, I make the contrite sinner whole.' So be it. I am only Thine, And feel, through Christ, that Thou art mine.
"1848.—A whole week I have been a prisoner, in consequence of a swollen foot; but I am sure it is permitted in love. I see it to be my privilege patiently to submit, and think I feel willing to do so; but there are many intricacies in the human heart, and I see no further than divine light permits."
Advancing time is slow; But ah! how swiftly gone! To mark its flight, and show How 'vantage may be won, Is wisdom only few attain, But wisdom yielding greatest gain.
"Called to see the Rev. Thomas Walker, and found it good while praying with him. He requested me, whenever I bowed the knee, to remember him. He is daily brought to my recollection.—Memorable day! My Richard's birthday. How little do we anticipate the events of life! now among cannibals, preaching the everlasting Gospel. Glorious work! Thus highly honoured of the Lord, may he prove faithful. Than this, I can have no greater joy.—Called a third time to see Miss W., who seems to be seeking the Lord in real earnest. I found her reading the Bible, and weeping. Saw her again. She told me how happy she had been all Thursday night; and said she felt as if I had cured both body and soul. Since then she has been very ill, but is still following on to know the Lord. Her Bible seems her greatest treasure. Afterward I had a happy interview with Mrs. Isaac;—declining in body but alive to God. She prayed sweetly.—Helmsley Missionary Meeting. We were hurried from the dinner table to the chapel, which precluded the preparation I like. Friends are so kind in making ample provision for the body, that our souls are in danger of suffering loss in consequence.—Called to see Miss W. Death was painted in her countenance; but she roused up, while I pointed her to the Saviour, and urged her to accept His mercy now. After prayer she said, with tears, 'I do believe in Jesus.' I read a psalm, to which she listened with deep attention, and then prayed again. When I rose to depart she said, 'You'll come again;' which I purposed to do, but she died the following morning. While at the committee for the distribution of clothing, the Lord blessed me with such a calm serenity of mind, that it was observed by one of my friends. Was it in answer to prayer? It is true, before I left home, my prayer was for a meek and quiet spirit; also the preceding evening, my friend B. and I had unitedly agreed to pray that we might more evidently, in our different spheres, approve ourselves God's witnesses. Since then I have been endeavouring, but not always with equal success.—Still confined to the house. Rose between six and seven, and found the advantage of prayer. I feel my unprofitableness, but was never more resolved to cleave to my best Friend than now. During the week I have been much drawn out in prayer for the dear people committed to my care. But ah! I have not prayed half enough; for this I feel humbled. O Lord, impress their spiritual welfare more deeply upon my heart."
"1849.—Here, I dedicate anew My ransom'd powers to Thee; A worthless offering, it is true; Yet deign to look on me.
"The Rev. A. Bell called to say he wished Mrs. D. to take my Thursday class, as he wanted female leaders on that side the bridge. Is it my unfaithfulness that will cause these dear people to be taken from me? My dear husband says it is providential, on account of my health. Well, I wait the issue.—Not long ago, a man, who was crushed on the railway, cried out, as his companions were carrying him away upon a hurdle, 'Stop!' when asked if they hurt him, he replied, 'No;' and pulling his hymn-book out of his bosom, added, 'I want to sing'—
'Happy if with my latest breath, I may but gasp His name; Preach Him to all, and cry in death, Behold, behold the Lamb.'"
"He was conveyed to a neighbouring inn, and medical aid immediately obtained. The doctor felt his pulse, and shook his head, on which the sufferer inquired how long he should live. 'Perhaps till twelve,' was the answer. He then repeated the verse commencing
'No room for mirth or trifling here,' &c.
adding, 'I shall be in heaven before twelve.' Near that time, he lifted up his hands, and shouting victory, victory, expired.—The practice, which I have for some time adopted, of retiring immediately after breakfast to pray for myself, and those who are associated with me in church fellowship, I find truly profitable.—We set off early in the morning for Gloucester, to visit our son and daughter; and had a pleasant and peaceful journey, far beyond my expectation. A lady, who sat beside me, gave me an account of her conversion to God. The conversation was originated by some tracts, which she carried for distribution. About seven we arrived, and found our children looking out for us. Thus past the last day of my sixty-sixth year—an epitome of my life—continual change.—Returned to York. Mrs. J. accompanied me in search of Rosamond J. We found her in very poor circumstances, with four children, and her husband gone off to seek work. She instantly recognised me, and burst into tears. We prayed with her. After tea I met Mrs. J.'s class. The Lord was with us; several were in tears, conscious of their distance from God. The Lord assisted me in speaking to them, and blessed my own soul.—Death is common. The cholera prevails. May this awful visitation be sanctified to us! I was sent for to see Mrs. P.; she expressed her confidence in God, and this morning died of cholera.—I felt impressed to visit the adjoining neighbours, and having bowed before the Lord, to ask his blessing and help, I went; and, as the Lord enabled me, conversed and prayed with two families. In one of them, the wife, who is much afflicted, pressed me to go again, and her husband seconded the request.—Several circumstances which have occurred in our Society, painful in themselves, have turned out to my benefit, destroying my dependance on man, and pointing me to the Rock which is higher than I. In an unexpected trial I was divinely supported. I went to see ——, and there I met with his friend, to whom I spoke plainly; my heart was pained.—Instead of going to the house of God, I was painfully exercised at home."
Opprest, I lift my heart to Thee, Thou soother of my care; Oh! let Thy ear attentive be, To this my heartfelt prayer.
Thou seest my heart's desire, to live Obedient to Thy will; Help me, to Thee, my all to give, With love my bosom fill.
"Whate'er in me is wrong remove, Whate'er is dark illume; Search, try, and purge me, but in love, Lest Thou Thy dust consume.
To Thee is all my sorrow known, No secret would I hide; The enemy his tares hath sown, Oh! let him not divide.
Thou only canst my burden move, The woful breach repair; Oh! send us succour from above, And hear my instant prayer.
"I am resolved, through grace, to seek a closer walk with God, and sweeter communion by the Holy Ghost. I want constancy, and more faith. I am convinced of my cowardice in not confessing the sanctifying grace of God which I enjoy; and thus insensibly lose sight of it. I desire continually to be led by the Spirit. I went to converse with a neighbour about having family-prayer. The mother is an old Methodist. Saw another person, who is a widow, and in trouble; both heart-touching visits.—In visiting, I met with the son of one of my members, whom I requested to read six verses of scripture every day; got the whole family together, and prayed with them. There was considerable feeling among them.—I am now entered upon the last hour of this eventful year, in which thousands have been swept away by cholera, and many by sudden death; but it has not come nigh me. I began it with the fixed purpose of living to God; but Thou, Lord, knowest how often and wherein I have failed. I feel I can plead nothing but the blood of atonement, to which I come; I want stronger faith, and more love. The unhappy divisions in our Connexion have rather done me good; for I feel a hungering after Bible Christianity, and more of that love which 'never faileth,' and which 'thinketh no evil.'"
"THE LORD HATH HIS WAY IN THE WHIRLWIND AND THE STORM, AND THE CLOUDS ARE THE DUST OF HIS FEET." Nahum i. 3.
The storm, that spreads ruin and devastation in its path, is no less a proof of a wise and overruling Providence than the gentler phenomena of nature, which, with such constant and unvarying regularity, refresh and bless the earth. It cleanses the atmosphere, and sweeps away the poisonous miasmata, which have been engendered during a period of quiescence, and which must, if not removed, prove prejudicial to human life. A similar effect is exerted by those painful dissensions which too often arise in religious communities. God permits them for the purification of His church. What is useless or injurious is swept away; what is good is confirmed; and if unhappily many, that are weak, are injured, it is because they do not seek shelter in Him, who is a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest. During the fierce agitation, which swept as a whirlwind over the Methodist societies in 1849 and 1850, Mrs. Lyth never lost sight of the great purpose of life. She stood faithful and unmoved at her post; and meddled no further with matters of strife than positive duty required. The questions which many loved to discuss, and thought themselves quite competent to settle, were never willingly the topic of her conversation. They were the subjects of her prayers. She retired to her closet; she wept in secret over the breaches of Zion; she sought her refuge from the surrounding excitement in the secret place of the Most High, and hence that, which in itself was a serious evil, became to her a source of personal benefit. Happy would it have been for many, who needlessly exposed themselves to the fury of the storm, if they had been like minded.
"1850.—Several perplexing circumstances have conspired to disturb the quiet of my mind, however, they could only ruffle the surface. Through Christ, I enjoy settled peace.—In the course of discussion in the Leaders' Meeting I was given to see the amiableness of the meekness of wisdom, which was exhibited by one of our leaders. I came home praying for more of it, feeling greater love for the Lord's people, and thankful that I am united with them. O what a privilege!—Twenty-seven years since my dear father entered into rest; and I am yet alive, to see and hear of more discord among the professed followers of Jesus than ever I saw. Nevertheless, the 'Word of God is sure, the Lord knoweth them that are His.' I praise God my heart is fixed, let others do as they may; yet it is painful to me to see them leaving the people of God. 'I know in whom I have believed,' and in Jesus I have peace.
"Copy of a letter written to a member, late of my class:—
"MY DEAR MRS. ——, My heart yearns over you; and, having been your Leader, I feel a responsibility resting upon me, of which I cannot acquit myself, without warning you of the danger, to which you are exposing your own soul, by giving place to a spirit not of love.
"You have been offended; go to the offender, that the breach may be healed; do not make the rent wider. Read carefully and with prayer, our Saviour's directions in Matt. 18th; and submit yourself at the feet of Jesus, who has said, 'Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.'
"O my dear friend, an enemy has gained an advantage over you; and on cool reflection you will have cause to mourn. Suffer not this evil to rankle in your breast; but go directly to Jesus for power to forgive, that you may be forgiven.
"My love for your eternal welfare, prompts me thus to write to you, and I remain,
"Your sincere friend, &c."
"My husband is gone to New Street Chapel, the Trustees having been summoned on the 'Delegate' affair. The Lord reigneth.—The past has been a week of painful disunion and insubordination in oar Society. Alas! Yet, through mercy, my peace of mind continues. My resolve to live for Him, who gave himself for me, is more firmly fixed than ever. While sitting under the word, my mind was impressed to go and speak with M.R.; I scarcely indulged the thought, but when I returned home, it still pursued me. I took it to the Lord, and asked for wisdom, courage, and a plain path; and then set forth. My path was made plain, courage was given, and the spirit of meekness and love rested upon me. The word of admonition was kindly received; may it be as a nail fastened by the Master of assemblies.—The adjourned Missionary Meeting was held in the Centenary Chapel, and concluded the annual services. The collection was nearly L10 in excess of last year. Messrs. E. and G. were present. Three cheers, accompanied by the waving of hats, &c., were given by certain persons for the 'expelled.' The like I never saw before, nor ever wish to see again.—My son preached in New Street. In his first prayer he was much drawn out. The divine power reached my heart. I felt it truly precious, glory be to God, who in mercy has called my children to spread the savour of his grace. O that the prayer I have often presented for this son, may be answered, that he may be blessed to thousands who may sit under his ministry.—Collected for the Missions. Several refused to give; but a widow increased her subscription from two to ten shillings.
"Harrogate.—A pleasant walk alone; my meditations were sweet. Endeavoured to induce a few to go to the Prayer-meeting, but only prevailed upon four. Called on Mrs. B. Our conversation turned upon the present unhappy divisions. How much are we in danger of getting wrong! O Lord, let me be guided by Thy Spirit, and if I err put me right. In family prayer I was drawn out for each by name. After retiring to rest my little grandson David got up, and came to my bedside to ask me to pray for him. May the Lord make him a man after his own heart; and, if he live, a preacher of righteousness. I dreamt I was taking a long journey, and felt the rolling of rough waters under me, but was fearless. When I awoke, this stanza was on my lips,
'Where all is assurance and peace, And sorrow and sin are no more.'"
"My soul is happy.—On leaving for home, I was inwardly moved to pray with the family with which we had lodged. The Spirit of the Lord assisted me.—During the week I have been led out in prayer for my son John, and for the Conference. If the enemy rages, the men of God have access by faith to omnipotent Power, and unerring Wisdom. May each be clothed with humility, and claim the grace they need, that they may be wisely directed.
"Sinnington. When we reached Pickering, we had a very awful storm, accompanied with thunder and lightning. My soul was kept in peace. Some women, who were detained as well as ourselves, seemed much afraid. I was prompted to speak to them on the necessity of preparing to meet God.—Cousin Samuel took me to Whitby. We climbed one hundred and ninety steps to the church, and found many gravestones of little note; but one attracted my attention, as it bore my own and my husband's names. How soon it will be said over us, 'Dust to dust,' I know not; may we be found ready.—Called upon a sick neighbour, but as it was not convenient to see her, I retired into the drawing-room with a friend who was present, to pour out our souls on her behalf.—I have got a new servant, who makes no profession of religion, and feel desirous for her salvation. Yesterday morning on awaking, the words were impressed upon my mind, 'Let him know, that he which converteth a sinner from the error of his ways, shall save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sins.' From this I derive encouragement.—Amid the conflicting elements afloat, our business is to make Christ our pattern and our guide. I am trying to take up my daily cross, and to watch the motions of my mind; but ah! how fitful. I am nothing;—helpless and undone without Christ, my only hope is in his atonement. Precious refuge! Come Lord, come now; I thirst, I long for Thy coming. Now baptize, and overpower me with Thy love. If there is lurking in my soul, any secret and undiscovered evil, tear it away. 'Show me Thy glory!'"
"185l.—My soul is drawn heavenward. The sewing meeting is much laid upon my mind, that it may improve in spirituality, and that I may fill the post assigned me according to the will of God. I long to spread the savour of Christ among the dear people, and make religion appear more lovely.—Finished my visitation at the 'School of Industry;' the children repeated the 104th and 119th Psalms, also the 12th of Romans, and the 22nd of Revelation. I spoke a few words, and prayed with them; giving them a few small books, and one for the library.—A friend brought me her album, requesting me to write in it. I thought prayerfully on the subject, and begged direction of the Lord, not knowing who might look upon it. During my sleeping hours and the following morning, the subject of the last Sabbath's Sermon (Psalm 1.) was impressed upon my mind with such force and sweetness, and I felt it to be so suitable to my friend, that I determined to insert it. My heart's desire is, that it may be blessed to all who read it.—As I passed the Centenary Chapel this evening, a gentleman thus accosted me: 'You don't know me.' I answered, 'No sir.' He rejoined, 'I sat in your pew about nine years ago. Mr. Curnock preached about Noah's Ark; and a word you spoke to me afterward, forcibly impressed my mind. You said, 'Get into the Ark,' and now I have got into the Ark.' I had no remembrance of the circumstance, but am thankful he has got in. To God be all the glory!—Sitting by the fire this evening, I fainted. So graciously does my heavenly Father deal with me, that he blesses and chastens me in love; for this, my heart's desire is to praise Him: I thirst for a deeper baptism, and more intimate communion with Him."
MY SIXTY-NINTH BIRTHDAY.
Now the evening shadows lengthen, Nature's feebleness appears; Every grace within me strengthen, To sustain increasing years.
Perfect in me all Thy pleasure, While I sojourn here below; Every fruit, in richer measure, Through my dying Lord bestow.
"By the evening train a family party, consisting of thirteen of us, safely arrived in Searbro'. Five went to the band-meeting, which was very thinly attended. One of the five spoke, having been upwards of fifty years a member. I went to Mr. F.'s class, and though I could not hear what the members said, I heard the leader, who made some very appropriate remarks. When addressing me, he related an anecdote of Rowland Hill, who, going to preach at a village, was requested to visit a good, but poor half-witted man. He went accordingly, and accosted poor Richard with the question, 'Do you intend to go to heaven?' 'Yes,' he replied, 'don't you?' 'But heaven is a long way off,' said Mr. Hill. 'I don't think so,' was the reply. 'Then what do you think?' 'I think,' said the man, 'it is only three steps.' 'Well, Richard, what are they?' 'The first step is out of self; the second into Christ; and the third into Glory.' So Mr. Hill went back, and told his friends that he had been to preach to Richard, but Richard had preached to him.—I ventured to speak to a friend, who sat beside me in the Chapel, about coming to class. To my surprise, she said she had for some time thought of speaking to me on the subject. Surely this was the suggestion of the Spirit. The Crystal Palace has great attractions just now! I hope to see the palace of angels and of God.—Quarterly fast. It was good to be at the prayer-meeting in the morning; better at noon; best of all at night.—After a very restless night, my husband rose very poorly and feeble. I prayed with him before he got up, and now I feel it good to pray for him. About noon he had another attack of paralysis, which lasted about two hours, and at tea time he was seized again. Through mercy, he is better. By looking to the Rock that is higher than I, my mind has been sustained. While kneeling by the bedside of my afflicted husband, I have been blessed, and found that as my day so has been my strength.—My husband and daughter are both better; thanks be to God! I cannot but acknowledge that He afflicts in love.—'Because I live ye shall live also,' was a portion in one of my dreams this week. I think of it with pleasure, and believe it will be so; my heart aspires after this inheritance, but not with so much fervour as it ought.—I purpose, God willing, to commence another afternoon class next Tuesday, at three o'clock, for the benefit of some who may find it more convenient: I trust it is with the approval of God, whose blessing I implore.—The dying year has been marked by many blessings to me and mine;—much nearness to my heavenly Father; but it has also seen many wanderings. I have just now been endeavouring to surrender myself freely and fully unto the Lord, whose I am, and whom I desire faithfully to serve. I seem surrounded by His presence. It is now eleven o'clock; but how many will depart before twelve! Happy event to those who are prepared, having built upon Christ! Here rests my hope: 'Other refuge have I none.' Glory be to God on high!"
"1852.—Although I have been suffering from cold, the Lord deals very gently with me. Others of my dear family are now under the rod. These things are painful; but looking at them in the light of eternity, I find love is mingled with them all. Oh! that from these dispensations we may derive all the good our heavenly Father designs. We cannot believe He willingly afflicts the children of men, especially His own children, but for our own profit, that we may be made 'partakers of His holiness.' I am reading 'Angel James on Christian Charity.' with profit.—I am again disappointed of meeting the Lord's people. Though I am better than I have been, it is not deemed prudent for me to go out. This is taking up my cross, but whether in the right way, Thou knowest. I want in every thing to do right.—When I rose I found it was only five o'clock, but resolved to give myself to prayer. After breakfast I went to see my daughter Mary, whose husband is very ill. My soul was blessed in prayer with him. He requested me to pray earnestly. Lord, help me to pray in faith. While endeavouring to do so I am blest in my own soul.—This is a day of trouble and rebuke. My daughter Eliza is very ill; Mr. Jackson is also worse;—the medical man giving little or no hope respecting him. In such cases, how vain is the help of man! The feelings of my mind are indescribable. O Lord, undertake Thou for us. I feel Thee near to me, be near to my dear family; and, while thus Thou art chastening us, O sanctify the rod.—Mr. Jackson has had a very restless night, and is much weaker, but quite recollected. While I prayed, he responded. I left him a little after eleven; and after calling upon Eliza, went to the School of Industry. Between one and two a messenger came for me to go to Mr. Jackson's immediately; but before I could arrive, the lamp of life was extinguished. He had 'found the rest we toil to find.'—A week of painful exercise is past away; but I see not the end. Through mercy I can look to God, and find refuge there. Yesterday when I awoke, it was sweetly suggested, 'Because I live ye shall live also.' This raised my drooping spirit; and now I take my pen to acknowledge the loving-kindness of God, manifested to us as a family; even under the most painful events, mercy is mixed in the cup.—The last week—before I reach my seventieth year. Life has passed away as a dream! The pleasing and the painful are both gone! But from the earliest dawn of recollection, the Spirit of God has moved upon my mind. Much love, and much patience, have been shown to me by my heavenly Father; and now, while the sun shines without, I feel the cheering beams of the Sun of righteousness upon my soul."
Time hastens me on; It soon will be gone, And the term of my stay Grows shorter and shorter, as life wears away.
One thing I desire, To this I aspire, To live in His will, Whose mercy has spared me, and blesses me still.
No merit I boast; In Him is my trust. Who gives me a place, And a lot, with His own, through His infinite grace.
"To-day I attained the term of life allotted to man. Rose a little before six, and resolved to dedicate myself afresh to God. Wrote a few lines, read a little, and performed my customary duties. Worked till dinner, after which I visited three poor widows,—relieved, and prayed with them; then collected subscriptions to assist G.B. Called on Mrs. W., who kindly welcomed me; also Mrs. Isaac, with whom I found it good to engage in prayer. Went to the prayer-meeting, where I endeavoured to give myself unreservedly to God. Remained to the band-meeting, in which the power of God was manifestly revealed. Throughout the day I have enjoyed a calm repose, and a fixed resolve to consecrate my services, so long as I am spared, to the Lord.
"Harrogate.—Returning from Chapel, I observed a number of gentlemen sitting under a tree reading newspapers. On the spur of the moment, I stepped up to them, and said, 'Gentlemen, perhaps you had better lay aside the papers, and read your bibles to-day.' One answered very roughly, 'You go home and say your prayers.' I turned away, and he continued talking as long as I was within hearing. When I got home my soul was drawn out in prayer that God would have mercy upon them.—Through a continued rain I went to meet the Lord's people; but singular to relate, though I waited ten minutes, no one came. Just as I was about to return, a stranger came in—desirous of fleeing from the wrath to come. We spent the hour in prayer. My friend found encouragement, but not the power of faith. It was a time to be remembered. My heart yearned over her while, in a low tone—mingled with tears—she poured out her soul before the Lord."
Does no bright star arise to cheer The Pilgrim's downward way? When age and feebleness appear, And wrapt in cloud, the night draws near, Can nought enfeebled nature cheer, And save it from dismay?
Jesus, Thy promis'd aid is sure To all who trust in Thee; Thy strength in weakness shall assure Frail trembling nature, and secure The grace in patience to endure, Till death shall set me free.
"During the last fortnight, two persons—whom I have often visited in former afflictions—have passed away. Now—their knowledge far surpasses mine. I am not at the Lord's house, as my husband desired me to remain at home with him. Yet 'I have loved the habitation of Thy house.' Age brings infirmity; but I see a danger of yielding too much to increasing weakness. Lord, save me from spiritual sloth. While I write, let inward religion be communicated."
"SHE THAT IS A WIDOW INDEED TRUSTETH IN GOD; AND CONTINUETH IN SUPPLICATIONS, AND PRAYERS, NIGHT AND DAY."—1 Tim. v. 5.
How often does it happen, that when death first enters a family circle, and creates a breach; it is the signal of its speedy dissolution! one falls, then another, and another, until the central point of attraction is removed; and the individuals who are left, are by the force of circumstances, each made to feel themselves the centre of a new circle of interests, which in time will melt away as former ones have done. The occurrence of such an event is to those immediately concerned a season of solemn admonition. The question instinctively arises, who next will fall? and each may put it to his own heart, "Lord, is it I?" The death of Mr. Jackson was the first breach in a family, which by God's blessing had for many years enjoyed a happy, and undisturbed unity. Twelve months had just elapsed, when Mrs. Lyth was called to mourn the loss of a husband; and we a father, whose retiring and unostentatious worth, was best known within the sacred precincts of home. Their union, at first entered into in the fear of God, had been maintained through the chequered scenes of life in uninterrupted peace; years had only more strongly cemented the bonds, by which they were united, and for nearly half a century the vow, "Until death us do part" had been annually renewed. A year or two before death dissolved the contract, it was found necessary to purchase a new wedding ring; and the aged couple, with an affecting simplicity, solemnly repeated the marriage ceremony in token of their unchanged, and unabated attachment: but the hour of separation was at hand.
"1853.—During the last six weeks, many circumstances have occurred for the trial of our faith and patience; which, through grace, I recognize as the appointments of mercy for my benefit. They have led me to rest more simply on Christ by faith, which 'is the evidence of things not seen, and the substance of things hoped for.' My soul pants after God. He is my centre, my joy, my crown. Nevertheless, my own unprofitableness would discourage me; therefore, stripped of all, I hang upon Jesus, my Saviour and my all.—Our highly esteemed friend Mr. Whitehead has passed from earth to heaven. Twelve days ago he called upon us, and conversed and prayed sweetly with my husband. Little did I think it would be his farewell visit.—My husband and myself are both invalids. He has had several attacks upon his chest, and much difficulty of breathing. At these times however, his expressions of confidence in God are unwavering. For myself, I want no other refuge, I only want more faith. I would be all the Gospel requires;—willing to live, ready to die, but oh! I see much imperfection.—These words are often running in my mind,—
'Until he doth the cloud remove He only chastens whom he loves.'"
"My dear husband is increasingly ill. He told the Rev. Gervase Smith, who called in to see him, that fifty years ago, these words were blessed to him, 'By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.' Mr. Bourne visited us in our affliction. My soul truly rejoiced in the Lord, while His servant spake of the things of God, and prayed with us. I am much comforted by my husband's state of mind. Although this is a painful ordeal, through which I am passing, God is with me, and His grace supports me.—My husband is no better. When Mr. Eastwood inquired the state of his mind, he answered,
'For ever here my rest shall be. Close to Thy bleeding side; This all my hope, and all my plea, For me the Saviour died.'"
"He cast upon me an expressive look—I thought he wanted something, and inquired. He replied, 'Bless you, bless you.'—Suffered much from oppression on the chest. His medical adviser promised to send him something, which would give him relief. He seemed very desirous of its arrival. In the meantime, we bowed our knees to present our case before God, and to ask His blessing upon the expected remedy; when in a few minutes the oppression, in a great measure, ceased. This was the Lord's doing, and to Him we heartily ascribe the praise.—The medicine continued the relief.—The Lord wonderfully supports my feeble frame, and I have increasing power to claim the promises made to His people, and by faith discover in them a greater fulness than ever. My friend R. informs me she has seen J.H., who had sent to request me to visit her. She wished to tell me the Lord had blessed her soul. May she be made fully meet for glory.—My husband still continues very ill. Had a distressing night. The enemy assaulted him. My faith seems to have no wings.—Enabled to rise.—I asked him if Christ was precious? He replied, 'Yes.' He is apparently near death. Hitherto my mind has been graciously supported though sometimes painfully exercised. He rallied again, and slept calmly for awhile. After tea, the difficulty of breathing returned. The Rev. David Hay came in, and prayed with him; also Mr. Thompson, a little after. It was evident the hand of death was upon him. He could scarcely bear us to speak. Once he said 'Mary'—perfectly recollected. Mr. Hill asked him, 'Is Christ precious?' to which he replied in the affirmative, and shortly after inquired, 'What o'clock is it?' The answer was given 'About ten;' and at eleven the 'weary wheels of life stood still,' and my beloved husband left me to mourn his absence. I sorrow, but not without hope; and hear a whisper in my heart, 'Thy Maker is thy husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name.' My mind is comforted; my resolutions are quickened; but my sense of abasement is great, at the little improvement I have made of such lengthened privileges. 'Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, O Lord.'"
[Her feelings under this painful bereavement were deep,—too deep for expression; but she maintained under it a calm spirit of resignation, which some might have mistaken for indifference. The writer sees her yet, as she stood for some minutes, pale and motionless, leaning on the side of the coffin, just before it was closed; and gazing in the face of the dead. There was no tear; she did not even imprint a kiss on the inanimate clay, for it was but the image of him whom she had loved. Her thoughts were in heaven. At length stroking the face, now insensible to her touch, she said, "Poor John, I shall soon meet you again."]
"My dear John was consigned to his bed of dust, to wait until the resurrection morn. Mr. Bourne came home with us. His conversation helped to cheer the gloom of parting for a little season. My mind was consoled with the joyful hope of being guided through the wilderness by Him, who so condescends to a worm of earth as to say, 'Thy Maker is thy Husband.' Amazing love! I was again permitted to tread the courts of the Lord's house. Visited J.H. in the afternoon, and spoke plainly to her husband.—Met the dear people, but was far from being satisfied with myself. I want a stronger faith, and more ardent love to the souls of those who are committed to my care. My precious husband has now been fourteen days in the eternal world."
And can I wish him back, Again to suffer here? No! following on the track, I haste to meet him there.
"My soul goes out after Thee, O God. Thou art my treasure in this vale of tears—my friend, my husband, my God, and my all.—Able to meet both my classes, and felt energy of spirit while urging on the members the necessity of keeping up communion with God; I requested them to give a quarter of an hour every day, to pray for the prosperity of their class, and of their own souls."
In the midnight of my grief, Up to Thee, I lift my eye; Grant, O grant me sweet relief, Let me feel Thy presence nigh; Nothing else can succour bring, Here alone I rest my hope; To Thy bleeding cross I cling, Lift the drooping sinner up.
"I changed my residence for one in St. Saviourgate, near the house of God; for this I desire to be thankful, and to dedicate myself to the Lord; having sincerely sought His counsel and direction, I feel satisfied.
"Easingwold. We were much led out in prayer, that the Lord would this day bring some one to seek Him. In the evening three persons came in, one evidently desirous of salvation; may this encourage the efforts of thy handmaid to seek the benefit of the people in this place.—I feel much the absence of my dear departed husband. His memory is dear. O Lord, help me to quicken my steps to meet him in heaven. My body is trembling and feeble; but my soul is vigorous. I have to-day resigned my office of Treasurer to the Clothing Society, which I have held nearly sixteen years.—Six months since my husband entered into rest. He is daily in my thoughts; but I see him not. I do not wish him back again; a little time will bring me to him, and I shall be as learned as he. Time hastens on!—At ten o'clock Mr. C. changed worlds. Solemn hour! All the morning, I know not why, he was strongly impressed upon my mind.—I am alone, all is still, my soul feels after God. This day feed me with the riches of Thy grace, that I may abide in Thee, breathe Thy Spirit, live in Thy smile, and, like Apollos, be 'approved in Christ.'
"1854.—I would here gratefully record the mercy of God to me. I have been brought low—very low, but the Lord helped me. I felt no condemnation, yet but little sensible comfort. Many promises were constantly passing through my mind. Thus the Lord has been leading me by a path I had not known.—I have not been to the Sanctuary yet, nor would I rest in the means; but I want a clearer manifestation. I see the scriptures hold forth more than I possess; I want to be closer knit to Jesus, that I may bring forth fruit. Have declined the presidency of the sewing meeting."
[On this resignation a letter, numerously signed by the ladies composing the meeting, was sent to her, acknowledging her services, and regretting that increasing age and infirmities had rendered it necessary. This document is not forthcoming, but the following is her own reply.]
"MY DEAR MRS. HOLGATE,—I sit down to acknowledge with gratitude the kind note you presented me with, signed by so many kind friends, in acknowledgment of my poor services in a cause which lies near my heart. Thankful I am, that from a small beginning in our parlour, about seventeen years ago, this effort for the glorious cause of missions has flourished to this day; and that now so many hearts and hands are engaged in its operations and success. I still feel interested in its prosperity, and if I have one desire above the rest, it is that every one who assists in this good work may not only have her hands employed in it, but her heart enriched by the blessed gospel she wishes to send to heathen lands, and that every effort may have God's approving smile. I am, &c."
"I think I never felt more free to leave the world than now; and yet quite willing to wait the Lord's time, that I may be fully prepared.
"Acomb. Mrs. R. took me to see some sick persons, also some wayside hearers; 'but who is sufficient for these things?' Speak Lord, and let them hear Thy voice!—At the prayer-meeting after the service, a backslider was restored to the favour of God; I was knelt by her side, and a holy calm pervaded my heart, when suddenly my soul, as by an electric shock, was filled with confidence in the willingness and power of God to save.—Went to see some of my absent members; and passing by Mrs. O.'s, whose husband died about a fortnight since, I called to inquire after her, and to my surprise and grief, found her in dying circumstances. She died the same evening. I fear for her; yet she used to weep, and for a time seemed in earnest. Have visited her many times in her afflictions.—Calling in at a neighbour's shop for a trifling article, I learned that the daughter was depressed in mind; I felt a desire to see her, and asked permission, which was granted. After saying what was given me, I prayed with her, feeling sweetly assisted: when we arose from our knees she unburthened her mind, and told me she had 'grieved the Spirit' and now, not feeling His strivings, she had ceased to pray, and had given, up all. O that the Lord may bring her out of this snare of the devil!"
Hark, how they strike their harps of gold In yonder world above! I wonder what its scenes unfold,— For not a thousandth part is told, Of those bright lands of love,
Not long-ere wonder shall expire, In sweet fruition lost; My spirit, borne on wings of fire, Shall mount, and revel, and admire, With all the heavenly host.
"1855.—A letter reached us from my beloved Richard, bringing tidings of health, both of body and soul, and of his intended removal to Auckland; but holding out little prospect of his return to England, by the words 'if ever.' Thus is long cherished hope cut off, when I thought it about to be realized."
[About the beginning of this year she had a severe attack of bronchitis, and all hope of her recovery seemed cut off. Although able to say little, she maintained a calm and settled confidence in God, and was evidently longing after home. The morning after the crisis was past, the doctor said to her, 'Well, Mrs. Lyth, I have some hope of you.' She replied, 'So have I, but it is the other way.']
"After a sudden and severe attack of affliction, I would most gratefully acknowledge the merciful care of my heavenly Father, who has not left me, but comforted me by His word and Spirit. My friends also have not forgotten me; I have every comfort during this inclement season. The earth is covered with snow, the cold piercing, and the day gloomy; but mercy folds me in on every side, and my spirit rests on Jesus, my atoning Saviour. While I write, my heart warms and kindles at His love.—I am left alone this eighteenth of February, which, forty-five years ago, was so important. Well, it is written, 'Thy Maker is thy husband, the Lord of hosts is His name.' and to Him will I plight my vows. Alone, on my knees, I again surrender to Thee my poor heart, and again take the pledge of Thy love. From this time forth may I swerve from Thee no more, but walk my few remaining days with Thee; having the testimony that Enoch had, that I please God. And now I am Thine by solemn ties, in the solemn silence of Thy presence, all praise be unto Thee, who dost thus condescend to Thy dust.—Have just returned from a drive. The air is very sweet, and nature puts forth her loveliness. My soul was led out to Him who has prepared greater things than these for those that love Him. My spirit is revived. 'Bless the Lord, O my soul.'—Riding out yesterday, I called to see my dear friend Isaac, who, like myself, is waiting until her change come;—a touching little interview. She told me while she was praying for me in my affliction, it was impressed upon her mind, 'My power is unlimited.' O may it be exerted in my full preparation for eternal glory, to meet my dear friend there. I sometimes get transient glimpses of it. I feel myself a helpless worm, but the name of Jesus is sweet. There is none I desire in comparison of Him. Though I cannot get out I am able to read, and the word of truth is my constant companion.—A beautiful day: the sun shines in splendour, but sin spoils all the beauty. While my eyes are cheered with what I see, my heart is saddened with what I hear. One has fallen into sin,—one I have highly esteemed in time past. What need to put on 'the whole armour of God,' and watch!—I felt more vigorous in my classes to-day, and spoke very plainly, for I feel a great love for these souls.
"Thou art, O God, the life and light Of all this wondrous world we see; Its glow by day, its smile by night, Are but reflections caught from Thee; Where'er we turn Thy glories shine, And all things fair and bright are Thine."
"I feel decaying nature; but my soul does not lose its appetite for divine things. In the midst of forgetfulness, and other infirmities, my only centre is in Christ.—As the day was fine, I walked to Heworth in search of an absent member, and after many inquiries, found out her abode; but she was not at home. I got some important information about her. My walk was a most impressive one,—on a lovely road, on either side overhung with foliage—but, being autumn, the way was strewed with withered leaves, while every breeze, though soft, wafted others to the ground in showers;—fit emblem of my own decay! I was much wearied.—The Rev. Robert Young, who has recently been on a deputation to the South Sea Missions, selected Fiji as the topic of his speech at the Missionary Meeting, and gave a very cheering account of my Richard, in the midst of cannibalism. I went into the vestry to speak with him; but was overwhelmed with my feelings. Have been laid aside by affliction; but the Lord has been intimately near. My faith has been strengthened, and I cling more closely to my best Friend. Many blessed promises have been brought to remembrance, which have cheered me, and created sweet peace.—My faith wants to borrow the pinions of the eagle. Lord help me, I am Thine; I dare trust in Thee; unprofitable as I am, Thou art my God.—My thought before I rose this morning was:—
Down life's declivity, Borne by the surge, On to eternity, Swiftly I urge; Not without cheering hope, When I am gone, Jesus will bear me up, Straight to His throne."
1856.—[A few lines written at the commencement of this year, contain the following reference to a circumstance, which, trivial as it was in itself, had nearly occasioned the loss of her sight.]
Time rushes on! Another scene appears! In springtide thought, I stood upon the hearth; "When in a moment, from the crackling flame A piece of burning ore flew in my eye, And suddenly eclipsed the light of day. But He who opened blind men's eyes of old, Restored my sight. * * * *
"I am sensible of the want of gratitude for the sight I have; though it is but imperfect, I can, by close attention, read my Bible, which at first was all I desired.—Visited two of my members, each of whom has had a fit, one being deprived of the left hand, and the other of the right;—humbling cause of gratitude that I can use mine.
Youth with all its hopes is past, And middle life-with care; Now, in feeble age, I cast My all on God by prayer. Exiled yet a little while, But guided by His eye; Happy I live beneath His smile, And happier still—shall die."
"My meditations this morning have been sweet, on the words, 'Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.' I cannot increase God's glory; but I—a worm—in the hand of my God, become crowned with glory.—My niece Caroline has departed this life. In a lucid moment, one asked, if Christ was precious; she answered, 'Yes' It was added, 'Just such a Saviour as you need?' 'Exactly,' was the reply.—I have given up my own house, and removed to my daughter Eliza's hoping the blessing of the Lord will attend the change. My mind has, beyond my expectation, been preserved in peace.—Came with my daughter to Haxby, for the benefit of a change. O that Thou wouldst bless my coming to one soul!—Called upon Mrs. S., and was glad to find her desirous of knowing the truth, as also her daughter. I feel peculiarly drawn out in prayer, on behalf of the inhabitants of this village. Oh! that a glorious revival may break out here.—The means of grace are not so plentiful in Haxby as in the city; but here I enjoy the quiet of retirement, and breathe a purer atmosphere. Often the Spirit wafts me on to the better land, and I contemplate with pleasure my everlasting home."
[Who can tell what shall be on the morrow? But a few weeks elapsed after this visit to Haxby, when her daughter Eliza, whose loving and gentle spirit endeared her to all who knew her, was taken away at a stroke. On the day on which the following entry is dated, she had exhibited an unusual degree of vivacity; and with great confidence borne testimony in the class to the power of the grace of God.]
"A goodly number at the class. In the evening Eliza read to Mrs. C. and myself the interesting adieu of the French Protestant Minister, Adolphe Monod, introduced into the November number of the Methodist Magazine for 1856. We sat down to supper, and mournful to relate! she was seized with a fit of apoplexy, which lasted until nearly three in the morning, when her spirit calmly took its flight. How needful to be ready!—My dear daughter was carried to the cemetery, there to rest until the resurrection morn. While passing through this painful dispensation, I have enjoyed the sweet consolations of the Spirit of God, and been able to recognize mercy mingled with judgment. The same evening my Eliza passed into the skies, my son William was appointed to meet a few of the Lord's people.—The year heaves its last sigh, as I review the way in which God has led me. Very painful events have occurred. Scenes pleasant, and sad, have passed before me; but around, and over all, mercy has spread a cloud of light; and here will I raise my heart, and say, 'Hitherto the Lord hath helped me.'"
THE LIGHTS AND SHADOWS OF EVENING.
"THE DAY GOETH AWAY, FOR THE SHADOWS OF EVENING ARE STRETCHED FORTH."—Jer. vi. 4.
Have you ever observed the effect produced upon the eye by the rapid decrease of light, which takes place as night draws on, during that season of the year in which the twilight is shortest? For some minutes there appears a rapid succession of light and shade, each succeeding shadow deepening in gloom, until the night sets in. This phenomenon arises from the necessity which the pupil of the eye finds of adapting itself to the diminution of light; and it has hardly done so, before the increasing darkness requires a still further expansion of the visual aperture. Just so in human life, when its brightness has departed, and the night is at hand; there is often a rapid succession of painful occurrences, which fall like shadows upon the soul, and it has continually to adapt itself to its altered circumstances. The eye of faith can scarce keep pace with the demands made upon it, and the effect is a sense of occasional depression, which even the Christian cannot altogether resist. In the last two or three years of her life, Mrs. Lyth experienced what it was to be "in heaviness through manifold temptations;" and although she wore the same happy smile, exhibited the same unwavering, and even triumphant confidence in God, and to all around her, it was evident she was fast ripening for her glorious reward; her diary shows that she was, in some of her solitary hours, subject to momentary depression; which, as she made no allowance for altered circumstances, and increasing infirmities, she was in danger of attributing to a wrong cause. It was not until after the death of her husband that there was any perceptible decline of her physical energies; the "snow of age" fell lightly, so that she still continued for some time to discharge her accustomed duties in the church, until increasing weakness compelled her to relinquish, one by one, her visiting district for the Benevolent Society; her collecting books for various Institutions; the Visitation of the school; the Treasurership of the Poor Clothing Society; the Presidency of the Sewing meeting; and last, and to her the most painful of all—her Class; for like her Lord, having loved her own, which were in the world, she loved them to the end. This unavoidable cessation from her "more abundant" labours, and the life of passive suffering she was now called to endure, perhaps more than anything else, was sometimes a source of painful reflection, and became an occasion of powerful temptation. She could not, however, be inactive; much of her time passed in reading and prayer. Her pen and her knitting-needle were in constant requisition, and a fine day, or a little renewal of strength, often induced her, at the peril of her own health, to visit an unconverted neighbour, or an afflicted friend. The sudden removal of her daughter was acutely felt, and elicited several efforts of her muse, two of which are here given.
"1857.—Gone! gone! gone! The empty chair I see, But ah! no smile, as once, alights on me. In what bright region doth thy spirit rest? Since all are living, thou art surely blest. I ask no more, the veil will soon remove, And I shall come to dwell with thee above.
"Just before I awoke, I dreamed I was reading; and it was written, 'He will receive thee to Himself, and give unto thee a kingdom.' It was repeated thrice."
Doth her spirit hover near! Doth she ever watch o'er me? Am I still to her as dear As when in flesh she cared for me? If she now, with wistful eyes, Strives, unseen, to draw me higher; Let me wisdom doubly prize, More and more to heaven aspire. Lo! the Spirit and the Bride Lovingly invite me on,— Seek my wandering heart to guide To the Father, through the Son. I will answer to the call; Thou my portion, I Thy child; Here in self-abasement fall, Trusting in Thy mercy mild.
"I am glad to hear that in Haxby the Lord has been giving 'showers of blessing.' Mr. McOwan has given twenty-nine notes on trial. I am the Lord's prisoner; looking up, yet I feel my lonely position.—It was suggested, 'I am thy salvation.' I paused and asked, from what? From the world, sin, self, and thy deadly foes. 'I am thy salvation,' from all thy inward evils; pride, unbelief, love of the creature, from every thing contrary to love. This salvation is all mine, through Christ, by faith.—Rose a little after six; very feeble; nearly read through the book of Ezra, and saw how God helps the good in times of difficulty. I feel depressed: Lord, help me!—I rode to the Cemetery to see the spot where my Eliza lies. Well, a little while, and I hope to join her among the spirits of the just made perfect. I proceeded from thence to my brother's in Dove Street.—Have been a week in Dove Street. Through mercy I have been able to rise every morning at six; and while reading Dr. Clarke's Theology, my spiritual strength has been, renewed. I have enjoyed many blessings from the Lord, and my time has passed pleasantly, but my poor brother is very, very infirm. I have called on several friends in the street, and had the opportunity of praying in two families.—Latterly, during the night season, the enemy has afflicted my mind with painful temptations; but I am not left to myself, the Lord is my helper.—To-day I was much drawn out in prayer for one of my grandsons. Surely the Spirit moved me. After tea, four of my grandsons, and my daughter, bowed with me before the Lord. It was a time to be remembered. The Lord drew near, and I was melted down before Him.—Weak yet pursuing. My daughter Mary unexpectedly read to me the words, 'Lo! I am with you alway even to the end of the world.' The truth thrilled through my heart, as a flash of lightning.—Sweet peace. This evening a stranger, brought by E.F., came to converse on spiritual subjects. We prayed together, and the Lord drew near.—Alone; but graciously moved by my heavenly Father to pour out my soul in prayer; I enjoyed sweet access by the Holy Spirit, on behalf of many dear ones. Glory be to God, that to a worm He manifests His presence, and reveals His love. Mary had a note from Richard, informing us of a change of purpose respecting his return to England. Well; if they commit their way unto the Lord, they will not err far. This shall be my prayer for them, while strength is continued.—Awoke by a fit of coughing, I heard as if a voice spoke to me, 'Union with Jesus gives the power of patience.' I feel it.—Met the Lord's people in great weakness, but with great longing for their spiritual health. Miss R. read me a letter from Miss K., informing her of the happy change, which had taken place in her mind. My soul rejoiced to hear the news, particularly as she had been for some time laid upon my mind whenever I approached the throne of grace."
"1858.—My John spent a few days with us. I have enjoyed his company more than ever before; perhaps I prayed more, that it might be so. I think I feel more deeply the hallowing influence of prayer. My soul feeds on Jesus. Glory be to God for a Saviour."
While midnight shadows blended, And nature seem'd to sleep, Me, angel watchers tended, Who always vigil keep; I felt them hov'ring o'er me, Though hidden from my view; A veil was spread before me, But is the thought less true? Watch'd by these heavenly strangers, 'Who all my paths attend,' And oft from foes and dangers, My progress would defend; O give me circumspection To guard against the foe, Then, sure of their protection, I on to conquest go.
"Only nine present at the class. I spoke to them, but felt the effect upon my feeble body for two days afterward; yet it was good to talk to them of the love of Jesus.—I have been exercised by the common foe; depressed in feeling, but never left without the power to draw near to God in prayer. Thank God, for some days past my spirit has been revived; and this morning my heart is trusting in the Lord, Glorious news from America! The Lord is saving by thousands. O that the breath of heaven may reach our own shores!"
O time how precious I what a load misused! To catch its flight is wise; to waste or loiter, folly. Reader, and writer, mark! Thy time escapes: To give it now a name is golden, gain. Oh! with true wisdom print thy passing hours, So shall eternity proclaim thy fame.
"My two sons, William and John, set forth to welcome their brother Richard, just returned by the ship 'Duncan Dunbar'—after an absence of more than twenty-one years—with a family of six children—a gracious providence having watched over him; and now the happy brotherhood will, I trust, be perpetuated, until consummated in heaven.—My son Richard, with his lovely wife and family, have arrived.—I am now seventy-six years old. How much cause of humiliation! How much cause of gratitude! Here upon my knees I give myself to Thee; I am Thine. Let Thy presence be communicated with fresh power to my soul. I do thank Thee for peace, and a full bent to please Thee.—My son Richard conducted me to my new residence on Heworth Road. Often have I changed my abode, supposing each would be the last remove: yet I tarry. All I want is to move under the smile of my heavenly Father, and to feel myself under his guiding eye.—Poorly. Inward conflicts. Went to see a person, who was once a member of my class; she is still in the way to heaven. We prayed together. Here, at the throne of grace, I find myself at home. I was at my class, perhaps for the last time. God bless the dear members."
Graven on the hand divine, Bid me on Thy strength lay hold, Look, believe, for Thou art mine; Jesus makes me humbly bold. Though Thy courts I may not tread, Thou art in my mouth, and heart; In Thy holy book I read, God in every place Thou art. With more love inflame my soul, With more fervent zeal inspire;— Faith, that can all power control, Fill the grasp of my desire. Let Thy word of mercy spread Freely, all the village round: Speak to-day, and wake the dead, Let the lost in Thee be found.
"My friends are gone to the Sanctuary. Looking at myself in the light of the divine presence, I see imperfection stamped upon all my doings; and yet, through mercy, I have an interest in the precious blood of atonement, and long that all around me may enjoy the same salvation. While now my pen moves upon the paper, move Thou upon the hearts of the people, who have long been favoured with hearing the voice of Thy ministers. Arouse the careless; stir up Thy people; and this day pour out Thy Spirit upon us all; and now, while alone; help my infirmities; visit me, and give me increase of faith.—Inward conflicts and wandering of mind have brought me to my knees."
To God I tell my utmost care, And find my place of refuge there.
"By the help of the servant's arm I got to Heworth Chapel, and heard a little, but imperfectly. My son Richard came, and conducted me home. Very faint and sick after I returned; but I know not that I ever enjoyed a more refreshing sense of God's presence. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.—Clouds dark—rainy—trees fading—leaves falling—all things changing here; but, 'Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.' O, while I hold my pen in my hand, let me feel Thy presence in my heart! I have in Thee a changeless friend. Glory be to Thy name, Thou ever-blessed God! Give me more love, and knit me more closely to Thyself.—The day fine. I got to Chapel, and through mercy was no worse. A stranger kindly accompanied me home, who seems to be an inquirer after truth. My soul yearned over her, while I spoke a few words to her. O may they sink deep! In the course of reading, the words, 'Let the peace of God rule in your hearts' especially struck me. To rule implies government; I may dwell where I have no power to rule; and the peace of God must not only be felt, but bring into subjection everything in my heart, that would oppose itself to the will of God. Praise God, my spirit longs for this complete subjection."
A star in its splendour attracted my eye, As softly from slumber I woke; I thought—as I saw the bright spot in the sky— 'Twas an angel of mercy which spoke— Of the hope, that brings peace to the labouring breast, And raises the sorrowful mind. The sweet'ner of life, and the solace of rest, In Jesus, the Saviour, we find. When troubles oppress us, and nature decays, His light in the darkness is given: Bright star of the morning, O lend me thy rays! And guide me safe homeward to heaven!
SITTING BY MYSELF, AND THOUGHTFUL.
Alone? no never! that broad eye, Which fills all space, is here; My secret thoughts and actions he, Reveal'd as daylight clear. I would not from Thy presence fly, Thee only, would I love; With greater circumspection try In Thy commands to move. If in my heart I aught disguise, The lurking evil slay; If aught than Thee more highly prize, O take it, Lord, away!
"1859.—I concluded the year by reading the Epistle to the Philippians, and prayer. My soul longs for a richer baptism of love, I am as well as usual, and my soul pants after God. I feel the word precious while I read, and thirst for a fuller manifestation of God. While thus employed, I enjoy sweet peace through Jesus. Here hangs my hope of heaven; and though I have many a conflict with unbelief, my heart is fixed."
THOUGHTS ON EZEKIEL'S VISION, CHAPTERS 43 AND 48. EZEKIEL XLVIII. 35.
'The Lord is there!' O happy place! Where God in Christ unveils His face; The city and the people bear His glorious name—'The Lord is there.'
The house all symmetry within, The worshippers all white and clean; How lustrous is the scene, and rare! It must be so—'The Lord is there.'
There, from beneath the threshold, teems The tide of truth in living streams; And those who drink the waters, share Eternal life—'The Lord is there.'
The crystal waves spread deep and wide; Salvation rolls upon the tide; So copious is the flood, we dare No longer doubt—'The Lord is there.'
The healing virtue never fails; For all 'who will,' it still avails; Within the city brought, they wear A kingly crown—'The Lord is there.'
The glory of the Lord is seen, His voice is heard by all within; The tribes of Israel are His care, Who reigns, the Lord for ever there.
"While reading and meditating on Ezekiel's vision, my spirit was refreshed; and in the evening, while praying with my servant, my soul rejoiced in God my Saviour. Tears of joy ran down my eyes, and my soul overflowed.—Six years my dear John has been in paradise, and I am still endeavouring to urge on my way; feeble, yet pursuing. Praise God for the encouragement I feel. Jesus is all the world to me; there is nothing in my estimation equal to Him;—nothing I desire in comparison of Him.—In the world there appears to be a glorious movement towards God. The latter-day glory hastens on. India is quiet, and China opens her arms to the truth. In America, Scotland, and Wales, the Spirit is descending plenteously. O praise the Lord, for He shall reign; 'the government shall be upon His shoulder.'—Walked as far as Heworth Chapel, and called upon Miss C.; she asked me to pray with her, being herself an invalid. Cause of gratitude, being my longest walk this year. The present circumstances of my children call for earnest persevering prayer. Let Thy Spirit help me.—The beauties of inanimate nature have this week exhibited the finger of God in the rising bud, and opening flower. May I, to whom is given, an intelligent mind, while beholding these works of Thine, be drawn into closer union with Thyself. Yea, while my hand directs the pen, let my soul assimilate to Thy likeness: make me one with Thee. Glory be to God, I feel there is union, for God is love: but enlarge and fill my soul with all Thy fulness.—This afternoon the young clergyman visited me, and made inquiries after my spiritual welfare. My heart clave unto him; and after he had prayed, I heartily wished him success in his ministry. Tidings have reached me, that my son John is going as a Missionary to Germany: may it be of the Lord. My soul is exceedingly drawn out in prayer that it may be so; and that it may be a blessing both to him and the people among whom he is about to labour.—I am this day seventy-seven years old. How quickly time departs! I lack words to express the manifold mercies of my heavenly Father during the past year. One above all, is the return of my Missionary son, after twenty-one years' absence; and his, and his family's kindness. Bless the Lord, O my soul.—Felt impressed to go and visit Mrs. M—, whom I visited once last year; went, and had a happy interview.
Hallow'd is the hour of prayer, When the Spirit helps me there; When the soul is drawn above, Borne on wings of faith and love; Then, released from earth, I rise Far beyond the starry skies; See, in Christ's atonement free, Life for all mankind, and me.
"Mrs. C. called, and kindly took me to Class. I gave out the hymn my Eliza sang the day before she died, and prayed with them.—I have been led by the Spirit of God to my knees, and find it no vain thing to wait upon the Lord. I am urged to look after my petitions, and feel it good to be thus reminded.—Mrs. Hartley called to bid me good-bye. I felt it very good while we prayed together. On her return to the city she was taken very ill, and sent a request by my daughter, that I would pray for her. I will. Felt blest in doing so.—My two sons are going to widely distant localities, but in their Master's field. Oh! how my heart longs that they may be richly endued with power from on high, and made abundantly useful among those with whom they mingle, and that many may be the saved of the Lord. John Arthur and David are also, this day, going on the Lord's errand. O bless the lads! Make them wise to win souls to Jesus. My soul longs for their prosperity.—Nine of my dear grandchildren took tea with us. For these and all the rest my soul earnestly longs, that we may be an undivided family above. I was blest while praying with them.—My dear son John and his wife, with five children, left us on their way to Germany, hoping to reach London this evening. O Lord, prosper Thou his journey to yonder land! I feel deeply for him. O bless him, Lord!"
Oh! what a world of care, Anxiety and grief! How multiplied our sorrows are! Where shall we find relief?
Our lov'd ones come, and glad we are To see their smiling face; But brief these transient visits are, And then, the last embrace.
"Mrs. Nightingale came to meet two women in distress for their souls. They wept sore, and found encouragement. I felt it good to mingle my petitions with their's. [This was the commencement of a class at her own residence, conducted by Mrs. N., and formed especially for my mother's accommodation. Up to this time she was nominally a leader, but since her removal to Heworth, she had but very occasionally been able to ride down to the city, and mingle in the communion of saints, a privilege, the loss of which she had deeply felt. The provision thus made was therefore a source of unspeakable comfort. Mrs. Nightingale says, "We found her at the appointed time, but oftener before, sitting in prayerful silence, waiting upon God. At such times her countenance was most heavenly; lit up with a light and glory, which bespoke her relation to, and hidden life with, her divine Lord. It was our privilege, when she was able, to listen to the words of wisdom and instruction which fell from her lips. Her deep acquaintance with the word of God, and the holy unction with which she spoke, caused those present to say, 'This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.' Love to God and the souls of men burned brightly on the altar of her heart. This was seen in the deep interest she took in each member of the class, and in her prayerful concern for the members of her own family. 'God is giving me answers to my prayers both on behalf of my children and grandchildren,' she would say. But there were aspirations of soul after higher forms of spiritual life, which could only be realized in the fruition of the divine presence. For increase of years she made but little allowance, so that, whilst her love to God and heavenly meekness became increasingly apparent to others, her diminished energy was sometimes to herself the occasion of painful conflict and introspection."] Before I awoke I thought a letter was put into my hands, the contents of which were 'Through much tribulation ye shall enter the kingdom." The Lord giving me power, I will fight my passage through.—Through the intensity of the weather, and my own increasing indisposition, I have been compelled to keep my bed; but prayer has been the life of my soul;—the only sure refuge in trouble. Much drawn out for my dear John, who, we expect, is this day holding an important meeting.—The year is quickly passing into eternity. It tarries not, nor waiteth the hurried one to free. Defer not, for the moment will soon pass away. Now touch the golden sceptre while it is called to-day. Believe, believe in Jesus, who gave His life for you. Accept the rich gratuity, for He hath purchased you."
"1860.—Although not able to sit up to welcome the new year, it broke upon me with these words—
Jesus shall all my powers possess, My hopes, my fears, my joys:
and thus my heart resolves. Yes, Lord, the dying embers of my life are Thine. I thank Thee, Thou dost not cast me off in my old age. 'My soul shall magnify the Lord, and my spirit rejoice in God my Saviour.'—A few days ago, my mind was filled with uncertainty respecting two members of my family; however, I laid the case before the Lord, and, to my surprise and grateful acknowledgment, in a day or two there was an opening in each case. Reader or writer, think not highly of thyself, others were praying as well as thee.—My first thought this morning, 'I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with "loving kindness have I drawn thee.' A very cheering letter from my son Richard. Praise the Lord for such information, both from heaven and earth.—A beautiful sunny morning. Grant that the Sun of righteousness may rise upon me with healing in His wings. Let Him heal, and form my soul anew. This is my chief desire. I do thank Thee for peace, but O enlarge my heart, and fully fit me to behold Thy glory!—A quiet Sabbath morning. I am sitting alone. The sun shines brightly upon me, and all nature seems to join in hallowed harmony. May my soul, capable of far greater powers, be expanded to receive far richer influences from the great source of my being—the inexhaustible fountain of all blessedness. My soul drinks of the living stream. Praise God for these small draughts. Enlarge and fill, and enlarge for ever!"
See a flower of lovely hue, Dipp'd in beauty bright, at Spring, Blasted by a wind that blew, Ere it passed its blossoming.
Such is man, in best estate; Like a flower he buddeth forth, Till some unexpected fate Brings him to his mother earth,
Such a shadow of a shade, Human life, a moment, is: Now we live, but soon conveyed Past all life's uncertainties.
Blooming youth and wither'd age, Infant charms and ripened years, Death assaults with equal rage, Unappeas'd by prayers or tears:
Then, the closely wedded pair, Soul and body sadly part; Yet to meet again—but where? Seek the answer in thy heart.
"'Looking unto Jesus!' This is the posture of my soul. Yea, I long after God. I have been peculiarly drawn out In prayer for several members of my family, with great sweetness In my own soul. Glory be to God!"
SLEEP IN JESUS.
"WEEP NOT; SHE IS NOT DEAD BUT SLEEPETH."—Luke viii. 62.
When the shadows of evening begin to fall, it is not difficult to prognosticate that the night is at hand; and, admonished by the increasing gloom, man, wearied by the tolls of the day, gladly looks forward to the hour of repose. Universal nature shares in the feeling of presentiment. The cattle seek the shed; the birds fly back to their nests; and the gentle flower folds its delicate petals, as if for sleep. Is It wonderful that as life closes in, especially when protracted to a good old age, the human spirit should feel an instinctive consciousness of approaching dissolution? or that the aged Christian, after long and patient endurance in his Master's service, should joyfully anticipate the hour of rest? Yes, REST, not death; "For whosoever liveth, and believeth in me," saith the Saviour, "shall never die." Christ has tasted death for him, and the bitterness, which is the reality of death, is passed away. His stedfast faith prevents the dawn of a brighter day, and what matters it, whether his sleep continue but a few hours, or be protracted through a period of centuries? The body can be sensible of no difference, and the spirit, transported far beyond the regions of dream-land, enjoys a happy and conscious existence in the presence of Him, who died, "That whether we wake or sleep, we might live together with Him." Mrs. Lyth looked, nay longed for the time of her departure; and as the hour drew on, seems to have had some pleasant premonitions of its approach. About a month before it occurred, she writes, "My first thought this morning was,
'We soon shall be landed, for death is in view, Almighty protection shall comfort us through; Released from our prisons, to heaven we fly, Exchanging all sorrows for mansions on high.'"
"A few days of beautiful spring weather permitted her to enjoy an occasional walk, which was generally made subservient to some higher purpose than that of mere refreshment. Thrice her steps were directed to the Sanctuary, opportunities which she richly enjoyed. Of one of these she says, "I enjoyed the privilege of meeting my friends at the lovefeast, and hearing them speak of the power of grace to save; but my poor body is very feeble."
This short respite, however, excited in her mind no fallacious expectation of a much longer reprieve; and more than once she expressed her conviction, that, as the summer advanced she would be no better. The weather suddenly changed; and the prevalence of north and easterly winds, accompanied with rain, confined her to the house. To use her own expressive language, "June enters weeping, and yet (10th) remains in tears." This circumstance elicited almost the last effort of her poetic pen.
"Fairest month of summer's Trine, Why dost thou remain in tears? Ask not. 'Tis the will divine; This shall dissipate my fears. He, who ruleth in the sky, Knoweth what His creatures need; He can every want supply, Trust Him, and His promise plead. Clouds may wear a frowning brow, Blasting winds may sweep around, He, who reigns above, knows how Best to make his love abound. Then, I'll cast my every care On my promise-keeping God; Honour Him by faith and prayer; Rest upon His faithful word. Should the cloud continue still, Thou for ever art the same, All the workings of Thy will But proclaim Thy glorious name."
The last entries of her diary, which with a solemn significance just fill up the volume, we give in full.
"June 11th.—I expected to have received my ticket, but no one came, I clearly see no dependance can be placed upon the creature. On Thee, O Lord, let all my confidence rest! Glory be to God, though I am an isolated one, I am not left alone. I do feel drawn, after God, I have given myself to Him, and He is chief in my affection.
19th.—My seventy-eighth birth-day. I had intended writing, but the Lord saw otherwise. I was in bed three parts, of the day, and on the 20th very ill, having taken cold.
21st.—Thursday the longest day. I am very feeble, but have taken my pen to acknowledge the goodness of God to me for so long a period. At noon we had an awful thunderstorm, during which my soul was calm and peaceful. This is the Lord's doing. I felt sweet trust and confidence in my Almighty Saviour. Afterwards I received my ticket at the hands of the Rev. Thos. Nightingale. On the ticket there is written, 'I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with everlasting kindness have I drawn thee.'"
24th. THE SABBATH.
Peaceful is the Sabbath morn, Glad I welcome its return; Now Thy presence I implore, Come, and never leave me more.
It was hoped by her friends that, with the return of milder weather, her strength would rally; but from this time it gradually declined. Her occupations were pursued as usual, but her weakness became daily more apparent; and, every now and then, intimations fell from her lips, that her "time was short," and her "work nearly done." To those around her it was evident that she was standing ready, and waiting for the coming of her Lord. This was particularly observable in the promptitude and fidelity with which she addressed all who came to the house, in terms of exhortation or warning, as if she was afraid of losing a single opportunity of speaking for her Master. Earth with its comparative trifles was fast receding from her view, and her spiritual vision occupied with the solemn and momentous scenes into which she was so soon to enter. Her daughter, who, for the purpose of ministering to her requirements, occupied the same bed-room, was often awoke, in the stillness of night, by the voice of thanksgiving and prayer; for, not content with making melody to the Lord in her heart, she gave vent to her overflowing feelings in singing and praise.
On Thursday, the 28th, the decrease of her strength was such that, although no danger was apprehended, it was deemed advisable to call in medical aid, which afforded her a momentary relief. But disease was insidiously working to an unfavourable issue, and that day she plied her needle for the last time. On Saturday the doctor instituted a minute examination of her lungs, and pronounced the case one of the worst forms of bronchitis; yet still held out the hope of recovery,—a hope in which she evinced no sympathy, for, though from the nature of the complaint able to talk but little, she spoke of her affliction, not only without apprehension, but with joyful anticipation. To the doctor, when he informed her of her danger, she expressed her confidence that "to die would be gain," and urged upon him the importance of living always in a state of preparation for death. He had no sooner left the room than, turning to her daughter, with a look of ecstacy, she said, "I am going home, Mary." In consequence of her extreme debility, the difficulty of her breathing and expectoration occasioned her much suffering, which she bore with exemplary patience; and when it was referred to, replied, "It is all right." At another time when an allusion was made to her sufferings, her reply was, "Patient the appointed race to run." Her daughter read to her the beautiful hymn, commencing, "The God of Abraham praise," to which she listened with great attention, and on coming to the lines,