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Appoint just what thou will
Oh keep me near thee still.
“I am very glad, ma'am,” said Catharine, as I finished reading, “ that some one else who was a Christian has felt as I do sometimes."
“ True Christians," said I, “ are not always without doubts and fears. Our hope will be reality, only when we arrive in heaven, and there we shall never have another doubt. I hope you find a great many precious promises, to sustain you under every situation, in that blest volume which you so much prize."
• Oh, yes, ma’am, indeed I do; and in the night, when I cannot sleep, I find them truly refreshing."
I had many interesting conversations with Catharine, and was much gratified to see, that as she became weaker in body her soul was strengthening in piety. She was rapidly sinking to the grave, and was entirely convinced that the time of her departure was at hand. Her poor mother was almost broken-hearted, for she had looked upon Catharine as the stay and comfort of her old age. I could see that this was likely to prove a merciful dispensation to her, for she was already beginning to feel that she was destitute of any support in the season of affliction and trouble.
Catharine often talked with her on the subject of religion until her strength was exhausted, and Mrs. White read the Scriptures and other books aloud to her daughter, by which means, blessed by the Spirit of God, she gained a knowledge of her ruined state by nature, of the necessity of an atonement, of the provision made for our salvation by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the means by which we may obtain the benefits of his sacrifice.
It was now between two and three months since I became acquainted with the family. In this time Catharine had indeed grown in grace and in the knowledge of her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I had never heard her utter a complaint or express a desire to live. Sometimes her mother would burst into tears and say, “Oh, Catharine, don't think of dying; what will your poor mother do without you ?"
Why, trust in Him, mother,” she would say, “who has promised to be better to those who confide in Him than son or daughter."
At length Catharine had become so reduced by her disease that I expected daily to hear of her death. She had several times taken leave of me as if she never was to see my face again on earth.
One afternoon I received a message that she was sinking fast, and had requested that I would come immediately and see her. On entering the room I found her indeed struggling with the last enemy. The little cot bed was drawn into the centre of the room, and the doors all stood open in order to admit air. The fumes of burning tar were also strong in the room, and every thing was doing in order to relieve the great difficulty of breathing under which she laboured.
The sufferer was supported by pillows in a sitting posture upon her bed, her head leaning upon her poor mother's bosom. She was panting for breath, the heavings of her chest being almost convulsive. She opened her eyes as I entered and looked a welcome but did not attempt to speak, and soon closed them again. I took a seat by the bed in silence, and the stillness of the room was uninterrupted, save by the deep drawn breathings of the dying girl, and the deep sobs of her mother and sister. As I looked upon the scene, I could not but think of these thrilling lines :
“ There is grief! there is grief! there is wringing of hands,
There is weeping and calling for aid ;
For sorrow has summoned her group and it stands
Round the couch where the sufferer is laid,
And tears from the hearts depths are shed.
But would gladly lie down in her stead.
There is grief—there is grief, there is labour and strife;
See the sufferer is toiling for breath,
And stern is the struggle with death.
Ere the last fatal symptoms have birth ;
And this is the portion of earth.”
After a short time I approached her bed, and taking her hand, said,
“ When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee, for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.”
She looked at me earnestly and said with difficulty, “Say more.” I continued. “You are very near that glorious place where there shall be no death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain,” and, added I, with my other hand taking Mrs. White's, “God himself shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Well might the apostle say, in view of all this bliss, “ I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
After this, the paroxysm of suffering which she had endured seemed to subside, and she sunk into a disturbed sleep, frequently moaning and sometimes praying in short sentences.
This continued about fifteen minutes, when sh awoke again in distress for breath. Her sufferings were now very severe. “Oh,” said she, “ this is surely death ; nothing but the separation of soul and body could cause such intense agony.”
The mother almost fainting from fatigue and grief, resigned her place to me;—and as I laid the head of the dying girl, damp with the sweat of death, upon my shoulder, I said, “My sweet sister in the Lord, rejoice, for your redemption draweth nigh, for when the ransomed of the Lord return to Zion, they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
The chief sufferings seemed at an end after this period. “I am more easy,” said she ; “ will you read me some of the promises ?”' I commenced reading some selections from the fifteenth chapter