Imatges de pÓgina



The Broken Nest.


T the time in which this history begins, I had, in the providence of God, a very happy nest; and as far as temporal prospects were concerned, I was provided for to my liking, and, though not rich, was content. I had taken my degree; was about to be ordained; and, what is more, was engaged to be married: in order, as I thought, to settle down as an efficient country parson.


With this bright future before me, I went on very happily; when, one evening, after a hard and tiring day, just as I was sitting down to rest, a letter was put into my hand which had been following me for several days. "Most urgent was written on the outside. It told me of the alarming illness of the lady to whom I was engaged, and went on to say that if I wished to see her alive I must set off with all haste. It took me a very short time to pack my bag and get my travelling coats and rugs together, so

that I was all ready to start by the night mail. At eight o'clock punctually I left London for the journey of two hundred and eighty miles. All that night I sat outside the coach; all the next day ; and part of the following night. I shall never forget the misery of mind and body that I experienced, for I was tired before starting; and the fatigue of sitting up all night, together with the intense cold of the small hours of the morning, were almost beyond endurance. With the morning, however, came a warm and bright sunshine, which in some degree helped to cheer me; but my bodily suffering was so great that I could never have held up, had it not been for the mental eagerness with which I longed to get forward. It was quite consonant with my feelings when the horses were put into full gallop, especially when they were tearing down one hill to get an impetus to mount another.

At length, the long, long journey was over; and about thirty hours after starting, I found myself staggering along to the well-known house. As I approached, the door was softly opened by a relative who for several days had been anxiously watching my arrival. She at once conducted me upstairs, to what I expected was a sick chamber, when, to my horror, the first thing I saw was the lid of a coffin standing up against the wall, and in the middle of the room was the coffin, with candles burning on either side.

I nearly fell to the ground with this tremendous shock and surprise. There was the dear face, but it seemed absorbed in itself, and to have lost all regard for me. It no longer turned to welcome me, nor was the hand stretched out, as heretofore, to meet mine. All was still; there was no smile-no voice-no welcome-nothing but the silence of death to greet me.

The sight of that coffin, with its quiet inmate, did not awaken sorrow so much as surprise; and with that, some


thing like anger and rebellion. I was weak and exhausted in body, but strong in wilful insubordination. Murmuring and complaining, I spoke unadvisedly with my lips.

A gentle voice upbraided me, adding, that I had far better kneel down in submission to God, and say, "Thy will be done!" This, however, was not so easy, for the demon of rebellion had seized me, and kept me for three hours in a tempest of anger, filling my mind with hard thoughts against God. I walked about the room in the most perturbed state of mind, so much so, that I grieved my friends, who came repeatedly to ask me to kneel down and say, "Thy will be done!" "Kneel down-just kneel down!" At length I did so, and while some one was praying, my tears began to flow, and I said the words, "Thy will be done!" Immediately the spell was broken, and I was enabled to say from my heart, again and again, "Thy will be done!" After this, I was conscious of a marvellous change in my mind; rebellion was gone, and resignation had come in its place. More than that, the dear face in the coffin seemed to lie smiling in peace, so calm and so lovely, that I felt I would not recall the spirit that was fled, even if it had been possible. There was wrought in me something more than submission, even a lifting-up of my will to the will of God; and withal, such a love towards Him that I wondered at myself. God had been, as it were, a stranger to me before. Now I felt as though I knew and loved Him, and could kiss His hand, though my tears flowed freely.


The funeral took place the same morning: it was a time of great emotion; sorrow and joy met, and flowed together. I thought of the dear one I had lost, but yet more of the God of love I had found; and to remember that she was with Him was an additional comfort to me. The funeral service was soothing and elevating beyond.

expression; and yet, when it was all over, such a sense of desolation came upon me, that I felt utterly forlorn and truly sad.

My nest was now completely stirred up; but instead of bemoaning its broken state, I could see the eagle fluttering over her young ones (Deut. xxxii. 11). I was conscious that God was looking on, and that He had not forsaken me in this great wreck.

The strain and excitement I had undergone naturally brought on an illness. I was seized with inflammation of the lungs, and was dangerously ill. From this, and other complications which supervened, the doctor pronounced that I could not recover, and bade me prepare for eternity.

Judges and doctors, when they pass sentence of death, seem to regard religion as a necessary preparation for it. Too common, also, is this idea, even among those who do not belong to these respected professions. My own opinion. was much the same at that time.

Having received this solemn warning, I took down the Prayer-book, and religiously read over the office for the Visitation of the Sick. I became so interested in this exercise, that I determined to read it three times a day. The prayer for a sick child especially commended itself to my mind, so that, by changing a few words, I made it applicable to my own case, and used it not only three, but even seven, times a day. In substance, it petitioned that I might be taken to heaven if I died; or that, if it should please God to restore my health, He would let me live to His glory. I did not at that time expect my days would be prolonged, nor had I any wish to live, for the world was now perfectly blank and desolate to me. felt as if I could never be happy again; to be with God would be far better !

I little dreamed that if I had died in that unpardoned

« AnteriorContinua »