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thering fast, and the scud of the clouds, portending a renewal of the storm, was enveloping me and all the sides of the hills in thick and dripping mist, when I arrived at Armstrong's door.
As I entered, no one was in the outside apartment except Zechariah himself; he was sitting in his usual melancholy posture, leaning on the table, his face resting on the palms of his hands; he raised his head at my entrance, returned my salute with a cold, slight motion, and then resumed his position. I sat down by the fire, and said nothing, for I knew the mood of the In a few minutes Hester made her appearance, and beckoning me to follow her, she led me into a small closet, where she commenced her narrative of what had happened to poor Rachel. Oh, Sir," said she, "how glad I am that you are come-come, I trust, to witness the change, the great, terrible, but I trust saving change, that has passed on my poor dear dying Rachel. Oh, Sir, I now begin to hope-I now rejoice,"—and she burst into an agony of tears.-"Yes," said she, recovering herself, "I do in truth rejoice, for I begin to have hope,-I begin to feel assurance that my disgraced, my deserted, and oh, what was worse than all, my hardened daughter, is not cast off by her heavenly Father. Oh, it may be, that my striving prayers, my secret wrestlings with the God of Jacob have prevailed, and Rachel-my soul's resting spot on this side of eternity,—is not given over to the destroyer! No, I trust that even in this her eleventh hour, she will be admitted into the Lord's vineyard. I trust after all her wanderings she has returned like the dove to her ark, and Jesus, pitying the weary thing, has put forth his hand and taken her in. But, Sir, I must tell you all that has occurred. Our time, passing on as you have heretofore witnessed it, was two days ago interrupted by a neighbour sending us, for the amusement of our winter's evening, a' newspaper; this is what, in our poverty and seclusion, we seldom see, and as her father was out of the way, Rachel took it up to read; and almost the first thing that met her eye was a paragraph headed thus-Fatal Duel-and which described, that, at a place called Chalk Farm, near London, a meeting took place in consequence of a dispute at the theatre, between Henry of the county of L. in Ireland, and a Captain when the former fell at the first shot of his adversary, and instantly expired. I was roused from my work in the window by hearing Rachel shriek and fall to the ground. I ran to her, and found her in a strong fit, in which she worked for some time, and recovered but for a moment, to relapse into it again. She only answered my anxious enquiries as to what was the matter, by pointing to the paper. I there saw how, in this awful manner, the wretch, that had been her ruin, but alas! was still her idol-how God, in his inscrutable ways, had called him into eternity, with all his sins upon his head. Oh, Sir, I was weak enough-yes, God forgive me, I was weak enough to offer up a prayer for him, trusting as I did in the unsearehable, infinite mercies of the Redeemer. But my poor Rachel, she grew worse instead of better. The fits came on her towards night with encreasing rapidity and violence: even her melancholy father came, and seemed to cast an eye of pity on her; but oh, he did not-1
fear he could not-weep. God of mercy and of love, take, oh, take the stone out of his heart! At length we saw blood flowing out of her mouth; then I feared what was but too true, that she had burst a blood-vessel in her lungs, and that her days were numbered. From the time the blood began to flow, her fits ceased, and she came to the use of her senses and her recollection. And, oh, how I prayed for her! It may be God heard and remembered these strong groanings that cannot be uttered; for when Rachel came to herself, she beckoned to me, and, as I leant over her, and caught up her slow weak words, she said, "Ah! mother, my idol is gone; he who interposed between me and God is taken; and am I lost also? Oh, mother, pray, pray for your lost, ruined, hell-deserving daughter.-But oh, mother, pray aloud, pray now fervently to Jesus. Is He not mighty to save, sinner that I was, sinner, that I am--a hardened, defiled, idolatrous, God hating sinner is there no pardon for me?" Oh, how I prayed in that hour-how I implored him who wept at the grave of Lazarus, who valued the tears of Magdalen, who accepted the last sighs of him who repented on the cross. I struggled with HIM for my miserable child, that this bruised reed he would not break; that by his agony and bloody sweat, by his cross and passion, he would take her in his arms of mercy, and shelter her in his hiding-place, when justice aud judgment were passing by. I do, my dear Sir, think that my loud pleading and her soft-breathing prayers are heard. I believe repentance, deep, heart-changing repentance, is given her; and I trust God is merciful in Christ, to her, a sinner. She has had intervals of bleeding from her lungs, which bleeding has latterly encreased; and I have every reason to believe that her passage into eternity is not far distant. Oh, what a blessing it is to me that you are here. Come with me, and let us see whether she is rea
dy to receive you.”.
I entered her apartment, and found this once lovely creature, now extended on her pallet, exhibiting that alabaster paleness which extreme loss of blood produces, and having on the extraordinary change of countenance that is the sure forerunner of death. I approached where she lay, and a sweet anxious smile played around her mouth, and she whispered, "Oh, Sir, are you come to speak peace to my soul? Can YOU also assure me that Jesus Christ can procure me pardon-I who have so long neglected his great salvation-I who have forsaken my own mercy so long-I who despised the great riches of his goodness and forbearance, leading me to repentance-I who, seeing my blessed mother leading me such a lovely example, despised that example, flung away her counsel, and clung to an idol-oh, what an idol! an abominable idolatry. Oh, Sir, tell me, assure me of the all-sufficiency and the allwillingness of Jesus to save even such a sinner as me."
My dear Edward, I cannot indeed now repeat all I felt and said on this occasion. I trust the Lord gave me utterance to speak words of comfort in due season. I dwelt on Christ's sweetest, dearest, most melting invitations to all souls truly humbled for sin, to come to the Well and drink of the waters of life freely. I showed her how God is "merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abun
dant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin." Here I dwelt, here I insisted, that there were unanswerable replies, to all doubts, exceptions, objections, which may arise in a troubled soul. Though "sins be as scarlet, yet shall they be made white as snow." Come, wounded soul, come, thou broken heart, to a throne of grace, and mercy shall be weighed out, without measure, superabundant, running over: "where sin has abounded, grace shall much more abound." "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief," was the feeble respond of poor Rachel; and then I said, Can any forbid that this dying penitent, trusting as she does on the Saviour's finished work, should partake of the communion of the broken body and shed blood of the Redeemer ?" I began my sacred office: the Searcher of hearts knows whether it was not a feast of faith and love. As soon as it was over, a regret came over my mind that the father had not been present; but he was not fit to be present; he was faithless and unbelieving. I rushed out of the room to speak to him while my mind was ardent. I found him standing on the threshhold of the open hall-door, watching the moon as she careered in her brightness through the passing rack of the clouds. "Oh, Sir," said I, "will you not come in and witness the happy, triumphant death of your poor Rachel; will you not come and give her one pardoning look ere she dies; will you be harder to her than her God?"
The man turned round and followed me silently, and we entered the apartment of his expiring child. Her blood, her life's blood was welling fast out of her mouth; her departure was close at hand. The father approached the bed, and in his features, as the light of the candle gleamed across them, were the workings of awful agitation: an attendant held the light in her hand as he hung over his daughter, and he made a motion as if he would have given her the kiss of forgiveness; and poor Rachel with her glassy eye was still watching him, and attempted to raise herself in the bed to meet him, to kiss him—and to die. At this motion, her neck became exposed, and the light gleamed upon a miniature that lay on her bosom. This caught her father's eye, and instead of bending farther to embrace his daughter, he seized the picture, tore it from her bosom, flung it under his foot, crushed it to atoms, and fled amidst a storm of execrations from the apartment, and out of the house. One glance at the poor patient convinced me that in this terrible moment her spirit had fled to the God who gave it;-happy now, I trust, and accepted in her beloved Saviour. Fearing that the wretched man who had just left the house was under desperate temptations, I followed him out, and sought to overtake him; the moon was abroad in heaven, and now she walked in her brightness, and again was rapidly obscured in clouds. Amidst a fitful gleam, I saw him with astonishing velocity ascending the face of the mountain, and I set out in his pursuit. For some time I kept him in sight, but as I ascended the hill, the clouds in cumulative masses, enveloped us as with a curtain—a dense and dazzling mist surrounded me, and there was no answer to my cries, save the echoes reverberating from the rocks; so I
was constrained to return to the house of mourning, where I found Hester stretched beside the remains of her once lovely daughter, her arms clasping close the already stiffening form.-On such occasions as this, it is idle to argue; reason must resign for a time its province, "while from the tomb the voice of nature cries."
It is time for me to close my melancholy story. On the following morning those who were sent out in search of Zechariah Armstrong found him stretched along the shelf of a rock on the highest range of the mountains. He lay lifeless, with his faithful waterspaniel moaning piteously, sitting on his corpse, as if to keep it warm, there was no sign of violence on the body-the agony of his passionate suffering seemed to have carried him on until he sunk down exhausted, and the inclemency of the night, and his own extreme mental pangs, caused him to perish.
The father and daughter are buried in the same grave, under the ivy mantled belfry. Hester Armstrong did not stay long in the valley; she has moved down to a more comfortable dwelling in the plain part of my parish. There she exhibits to all around her a pattern of what genuine religion can effect,-how, amidst the severest woes, it can support and arm us, by convincing us that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed." Hester, though usually sad in her appearance, is never morose; she lives not alone to brood over past afflictions; no, as far as her little means and humble exertions will allow, she exerts herself for God! And the evening of her days is now setting amidst the respectful attentions and veneration of all who can estimate the moral beauty, exemplified in one, who walks humbly with her God.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE CHRISTIAN EXAMINER.
SIR.-I am sure you are disposed to admit, with me, that truth will ever be served by temperate discussion. This may induce you to allow me, a second time, a few lines in your valuable publication, on the important subject of Reformation Societies.
I have read with much attention the letter of your correspondent "KNOX," in reply to my former observations. In some places, I confess that I do not understand him, but cannot quite decide whether this arises from Irish printing, or from a peculiarity of style originating in another country. In other places I meet with assertions, in the accuracy of which I cannot acquiesce.
In other places I meet with argument which I consider far from conclusive. In reply to my argument against the absolute necessity for Reformation Societies, for promoting certain desirable objects, (which I deduced from the simple fact, that all these objects had been promoted, and were now in the way of being promoted, by other means,) he asserts that Reformation Societies will promote
those objects also, and therefore are necessary; which I conceive to be very inconclusive reasoning. A second instrument may be raised up to do the work which another is engaged in, and may do that work: but unless it does it better or in larger quantities, it does not follow that it is necessary; for example, a second coach may be established on a road, and may convey passengers as well as the first, but may not for all that be necessary. He would, indeed, have it inferred that Reformation Societies will do the work in larger quantities, and his mode of establishing that position with regard to one branch is rather curious. He says, "whatever has a tendency to augment the distribution of the Scriptures, is as necessary to the promotion of the end which was intended by the reading of the Scriptures, as those institutions which directly provide for their circulation. And it is a fact as well established as any other in the history of our experience in this country, that Reformation Societies, wherever they are established, will considerably widen the sphere of Biblical operation."
I really thought till now, that facts generally meant things that had happened, but the fact by which "Knox" would prove his position is one that will happen.
It would appear to me that it would have proved, if not the necessity, at least the utility of Reformation Societies, if he could with truth have asserted that they had considerably widened the sphere of Biblical operation. But whatever future facts seen in his prospective vision may prove, past facts do not authorise the assertion, that Reformation Societies have tended to augment the distribution of the Bible. The correspondence of the Hibernian Bible Society, records a very increased circulation of Scriptures in many places where no Reformation Societies have been established, and details nothing very remarkable in places where they have been set on foot. In one county where these Societies have begun their operations, there has been a distribution of the Bible through the agency of the Reformation Society; but, had there been established in that county an effective Bible Society, with its associations, there is every reason to conclude, that through that agency a larger distribution would have taken place, and in a way 'much more likely to operate upon the mass of the people. With regard then to the distribution of the Bible, "Knox" has failed to prove the necessity for the Reformation Societies.
I would now adduce another field of labour to demonstrate, that the fact of the Society promoting a desirable object does not prove its necessity. In the first prospectus circulated by the British Society, and printed in England, it is distinctly stated, "they do not intend to interfere with the operations of other Societies, it is rather their wish to second those operations, by pursuing objects which do not come within the province of existing Associations." In the second prospectus printed in Dublin, and circulated by the deputation sent to Ireland, this principle is abandoned, and the employment of Scripture-readers is put forward as a prominent branch of the Society's operations and they have employed under them many readers, though there is in existence a Society for this very purpose; a Society that has been much blessed, and by the care and vigilance