Page images
PDF
EPUB

timents about his death ; I leave you to judge, then, whether I had need be concerned on his account; and surely was it to be put to your choice, whether so religious a young man should live or die, no one could be so cruel as to wish to detain him from his wished-for glory. Be not then too much concerned at his death, but let us rather learn that important lesson which his whole life taught us, " that there is nothing comparable to an early piety.” I thought to have spent many agreeable hours with him in Christian and edifying conversation, when I came to Gloucester; but he is gone to more agreeable company, and long before now has joined the heavenly choir.

I shall only add, that as your brother imitated our blessed Saviour in his life, so I

pray
God he

may resemble him in his death, and be a means, like his beloved Redeemer, of reconciling all former animosities, which is the hearty wish of,

Dear Sir,
Your sincere friend and humble servant,

G. W.

REV. DR. WATTS TO MADAM SEWALL, UPON THE

DEATH OF HER CHILDREN.

MADAM, Yesterday, from Mr. Sewall's hand, I received the favour of several letters from my friends in New England, and a particular account of that sharp and surprising stroke of providence, that has made a painful and lasting wound in your soul. He desired a letter from my hand, directed to you, which might carry in it some balm for an afflicted spirit.

But the loss you have sustained is of a tenderer and more distressing kind. Yet let us see whether there are not sufficient springs of consolation, flowing all around you, to allay the smart of so sharp a sorrow,

And

may the Lord open our eyes, as he did the eyes of Hagar in the wilderness, to espy the spring of water when she was dying with thirst, and her child overagainst her, ready to expire. Gen. xxi. 19. Have you lost two lovely children? Did you

make them your idols? If you did, God has saved you

from idolatry. If you did not, you have your God still, and a creature cannot be miserable who has a God. The little words,“ my God,” have infinitely more sweetness than “my sons” or “my daughters." Were they very desirable blessings? Your God calls you to the nobler sacrifice. Can you give up these to him at his call ? So was Isaac, when Abraham was required to part with him at God's altar. Are you not a daughter of Abraham ? Then imitate his faith, his self-denial, his obedience, and make your evidences of such a spiritual relation to him shine brighter on this solemn occasion. Has God taken them from our arms? And had you not given them to God before? Had you not devoted them to him in baptism? Are you displeased that God calls for his own? Was not your heart sincere in the resignation of them to him? Show then, madam, the sincerity of your heart in leaving them in the hand of God. Do you say they are lost? Not out of God's sight and God's world, though they are gone out of our sight and our world. “All live to God." You may hope the covenant of grace has sheltered them from the second death. They live, though not with you.

Are you ready to complain you have brought forth for the grave ? It may be so, but not in vain. Is. Ixv. 25. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble (i. e. for sorrow without hope); for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.” This has been a sweet text to many mothers, when their children are called away betimes. And the prophet Jeremy, ch. xxxi. 15, 17, has very comfortable words to allay the same sorrows. please yourself in what comforts you

might have derived from them in maturer years? But, madam, do you consider sufficiently, that God has taken them away

Did you

from the evil' to come, and hid them in the grave from the prevailing and inischievous temptations of a degene. rate age? My brother's wife in London has buried seven or eight children, and among them all her sonş, This thought has reconciled her to the providence of God, that the temptations of young men in this age are so exceedingly great, and she has seen so many of the young gentlemen of her acquaintance so shamefully degenerate, that she wipes her tears for the sons she has buried, and composes her soul to patience and thankfulness, with one only daughter remaining. Per. haps God has by this stroke prevented a thousand unknown sorrows. Are your sons dead? But are all your mercies dead too? A worthy husband is a living comfort; and may God preserve and restore him to you Sith joy! Food, raiment, safety, peace, liberty of religion, access to the mercy-seat, hope of heaven; all these are daily matters of thankfulness. Good madam, let not one sorrow bury them all. Show that you are a Christian by making it appear that religion has supports in it which the world doth not know. What can a poor worldling do, but mourn over earthly blessings departed, and gone down with them comfortless to the grave ? But methinks a Christian should lift up his head, as partaking of brighter hopes. May the blessed Spirit be your comforter, madam. Endeavour to employ yourself in some business or amusement of life continually, lest a solitary and inactive frame of mind tempt you to sit brooding over your sorrows, and nurse thein to a dangerous size. Turn your thoughts often to the brighter scenes of heaven and the resurrection.

Forgive the freedom of a stranger, madam, who desires to be the humble and faithful servant of Christ and souls.

Isaac WATTS. P.S.-Madam, you have so many excellent comforters around you, that I even blush to send you what I have written; yet since the narrowness of my paper haş excluded two or three thoughts which may not be impertinent or useless on this mournful occasion, I will insert them here. You know, madam, the great and blessed God had but one son, and he gave him up a sacrifice and devoted him to a bloody death out of love to such sinners as you and I. Can you show your gratitude to God in a more evident and acceptable manner than by willingly resigning your sons to him at the call of his providence? This act of willing resignation turns a painful affliction into a holy sacrifice. Are the two dearest things taken from the heart of a mother? Then may you ever set so much the loser to this world, and you have the fewer dangerous attachments to this life. It is a happiness for a Christian not to have the heart-strings tied too fast to any thing beneath God and heaven. Happy is the soul who is ready to remove at the Divine summons. The fewer engagements we have on earth, the more we may live above, and have our thoughts more fixed on things divine and heavenly. May this painful stroke be thus sanctified, and lead you nearer to God.

[ocr errors]

PATHETIC LETTER ON THE DEATH OF AN ONLY

CHILD.

There is a nestling worm in every flower along the path of life; and, while we admire the spreading leaves and unfolding blossoms, the traitor often consumes the root, and all the beauty falls. You are not surprised that my letter opens

with a serious reflection on the fleeting state of earthly pleasures. This my frequent theme will continue, I believe, till my eyes are shut upon this world, and I repose upon a bed of dust. The son of sorrow can teach you to tremble over every blessing you enjoy. Pay now to thy living friend the tear which was reserved for his grave. I have undergone one of the severest trials human nature can expe. rience. I have seen a dear and only child, the little companion of all my hours of leisure, the delight of my

eyes, the pride of my heart, struggling in agonies of pain, while I poured over him my tears and prayers to heaven in vain. I have seen him dying-dead-cof. fined. I have kissed him in his shroud I have taken the last farewell I have heard the bell call him to the silent vault, and am now no more a father! I am stabbed to the heart, cut to the brain.

Hæret lateri lethalis arundo.--VIRGIL.

With what tender care was the boy nursed. How often has he been the pleasing burden of my arnis. What hours of anxiety for his welfare have I felt. What endearing amusements for him invented. Amiable was his person, sensible his mind. All who saw, loved him-all who knew him admired a genius which outran his years. The sun no sooner rose than it was eclipsed. No sooner was the flower opened than it was cut down. My mind eagerly revolves every moment of past joy. All the parental affections rush like a torrent and overwhelm me. Wherever I go, I seem to see and hear him; turn round, and lose him.

What does this world present but a long walk of misery and desolation? In tears man is born-in' agonies he dies. What fills up the interval ? Mo-. mentary joys and lasting pains. Within, a war of passions; without, tumult and disorder reign. Fraud, oppression, riot, rapine, bloodshed, murder, fill up the tragic tale of every day; so that a wise man must often wish to have his curtain dropped, and the scene of vanity and vexation closed. "To me, a churchyard is a pleasing walk. My feet often draw towards the graves, and my eyes turn towards the vault, where all the contentions of this world cease, and where the weary are at rest. "I praise," with Solomon, “the dead who are already dead, more than the living who are yet alive.”

I will call reason and religion to my aid. Prayers and tears cannot restore my child, and to God who made us we must submit. Perhaps he was snatched in mercy from some impending wo. In life he might

« PreviousContinue »