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suffering; and by mid-day death was manifestly approaching. Till about dark, she suffered greatly, yet knew me in the afternoon. Her consciousness, after the first two days, did not appear till Friday evening, when she gradually breathed with less difficulty, till, a few minutes before eleven, the wearied wheels of life stood still. Prayer was offered, with little intermission, especially during the latter hours of her life; and, as long as consciousness remained, the well-known sign of lifting up the hand expressed the exercise of the heart. As to myself,” adds Mr. Taylor, “I have been nearly unmanned. Mercy, I am thankful, has saved me from fretting or murmuring at what He does; but I cannot bear as formerly. The incessantly kind care with which she watched over me, and anticipated my wants and wishes, had so much of the devout heart in it, that I seemed to become dependent on her. I have a sympathizing Advocate and Saviour in heaven, and kind friends on earth, for whose sympathy and prayers I am truly thankful. Many of my friends are now gone before me.”
Shortly after the death of Mrs. Taylor, he paid a visit to London ; and, on his return, wrote to Mrs. Brown as follows :-“ October 16th, 1837. After a long and fine day's journey, I arrived at home before nine o'clock on Saturday evening. My sleep has continued very fair. Yesterday I preached twice, and met the Society; and could have done more. Thankfulness to God and to lis people ought to dwell in my heart, and be manifest in my life. The manner in which they surrounded me yesterday affected me. My health and spirits are improved a little, and I trust to be able to do some little work. To do it in prayerful dependence on Him whose work it is, and to obtain His blessing on it, are the important matters. The spirit of prayer, maintained and carried into everything, secures assistance and success.”
November 16th, 1837, he writes,—"My sleep has been better, and my health has rather improved, since my return from London. Work does not exhaust me so much as it did. I am employing spared life, and other gifts, that the Master may, in the exercise of mercy, at last approve.
We see, as yet, not much fruit in this town and its neighbourhood. A few conversions, and a slow increase in our congregations, are not all that ought to be."
December 22d, 1837, he adverts to some appearances of good in his own class, and in the Society generally, though they were by no means equal to what he desired ; and he then proceeds, in a strain of wise and weighty instruction :-“ You will find a danger in looking to self, even in its self-abasing aspects. Discouragement results ; and perplexing reasons and debility follow. Every discovery of what has been or is wrong or wanting, must be carried at once to the throne, and kept there. Want of progress and abiding comfort, and, especially, deficiency in the exercise of faith, are mainly owing to our not taking everything, promptly and heartily, to Him with whom we have to do. More Christians get the injury that results from debility, by dwelling on their defects, than by conceit. Everything is to bring us to God, and to keep us with Him.”
In January, 1838, he writes to Mr. M'Owan,—“In spiritual health I am improving. My affliction has drawn me to Him who ever lives; and I am deriving, I trust, an increased measure of that life which He ministers. The exercise of a devotional spirit is more constant and encouraging, and religious ordinances are more refreshing. Living to God, and in view of eternity, is the life my heart prizes. My treasure is above; and my best desires and efforts, though not vigorous as they should be, all tend to heaven.”
February 7th, 1838, he writes to Mrs. Brown,—“We have no general impression yet. I have got five more to my class, and one of them has received the Spirit of adoption. But there is too much complaining in the others for these to be encouraged as they ought. I was glad you made the less give way to the greater on St. Stephen's day. The example was good. While, in all our doings, our supreme aim is to be the approval of our Master, there is scarcely any part of our conduct in which the relation in which we stand to our fellowChristians, or to sinners, is not to be consulted ; and when their weakness or perversity requires correctives, our conduct, as well as advice, must supply them. The New Testament is full of this. None of us liveth to himself.'—My morning walks have improved my health a little. At least, it is somewhat improving. I suffer less, and my sleep is rather better. Whether the improvement be longer or shorter, I feel it an added mercy. I am glad to hear that Mr. Brown's Islington class increases.—If we do but get better ourselves, and witness others doing so, we shall have cause of joy, whatever Proridence may permit.”
April 20th, 1838, he writes,—"As a Society, we are not doing much. A few conversions have of late encouraged us. But little general impression and surrender are yet apparent. We labour on, though not as we ought, and pray for times of refreshing. The simplicity of believing must be your endeavour: the promises kept steadily in your eye,—the state of your heart placed constantly before Him, not to pore over it yourself, but present it to Him on whom your prayer and trust are to be exercised for the blessing. Thus your mind will be stayed, and you will be in the way of taking the larger benefit wbich private and social means afford. The aim is always to be kept up, and the promises pleaded. But hearty reliance on Him is that which every other exercise is to promote. Just as the heart gets under the influence of the Divine Spirit, everything prospers. His word becomes more instructive and inspiring, and ordinances have to us more of His manifested presence. The habitually devout spirit is cherished and breathed to heaven, and peace and health are maintained and increased. Faith must be appointed and exercised as leader of every grace, and of every duty.
Again he writes,—“I aim at keeping the great end in view, as to myself and others. To keep up intercourse with heaven, and lay out every moment of time and every faculty for Him whom we serve, and habitually to present ourselves and services on the altar that sanctifieth the gift," for acceptance and blessing, are the means to be used in order to the Master's saying, Well done.' Lord, dispose and help us !”—And again,—“If, as a Connexion, we were united and earnest in prayer, the Preachers and Circuits would receive an improving impulse ; and, as individuals, we should all share the benefit, more or less. Well, let us do our part. You may rest satisfied that many are crying to God for a blessing more earnestly than we are.To take the full benefit of exhortations one can promptly give to others, is not so easy as it seems to be. This requires forbearance in reference to others, and self-abasement and patience in ourselves. Increased confidence will appropriate promises more effectually."
The Rev. James Scholes, Mr. Taylor's colleague during the second year of his residence at Worcester, writes as follows :—" The strength of his friendship, and his convictions of duty, were manifested by the readiness with which, while his heart was yet bleeding from the wound of bereavement, and his health was in a debilitated state, he undertook long journeys, in order to sympathise with the mourning and aid the dying. And I was astonished to observe, when the immediate occasion of interruption had passed away, how he resumed his habits of punctual attention to pastoral visitation, reading, the composition of sermons, and the details of Circuit business,—which he ever regarded as worthy of his best consideration and most diligent efforts. His genuine humility, and freedom from all affectation, secured to him an influence among Christians of various denominations, which could not have been acquired by any assumption or effort. I venture to assert that, in Worcester, scarcely any Minister has of late years been so generally respected.”
(To be concluded.)
THE LAST REQUEST.
A MEDITATION ON 2 KINGS II. 9:
BY THE REV. FREDERICK F. WOOLLEY.
“ And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.”
The course of nature, in the material world, is often disturbed by deep and violent agitation. Yet the sweeping wind dispels noxious exhalations, and thus preserves the vital quality of the atmosphere. The very thunder-storm renews the purity of the air, giving fresh life and beauty to the scenes of nature, and new vigour to animal existence.—And so it is in the moral world. The blast of trial may be permitted, to preserve or restore the health of the church; to vindicate purity of doctrine, and of manners ; to purge her creed and institutions from heresy and superstition. In times of defection and apostasy, God has more than once introduced a ministry of extraordinary courage and power; thus interposing to purify the services of His sanctuary, and to reform the manners of an age.
Such was the ministry of Elijah. His times were gloomy and degenerate. The throne of Israel was filled by an impersonation of unbelief and despotism. The court of Ahab and Jezebel was awfully distinguished by intemperance and crime. Samaria was the city of Baal. No temple of Jehovah stood in it. There was no shrine of His presence,-no altar for His sacrifices. The harp of Judah was unstrung, and the songs of Zion had ceased. But Baal's temples crowned the hills of Israel. In town, and hamlet, and grove, many hands were found to build his altars, and many knees to bow before his image. A sanguinary edict had devoted the Prophets of the Lord to death, and the blood of His Priests was in the royal skirts. All classes had caught the infidel spirit of the court, and the nation was abandoned to idolatry.
Into the midst of such a scene “the word of the Lord” summoned the fearless Elijah. It does not enter into our present design to examine the ministry of this extraordinary Prophet. It must suffice to observe, that bis commission was faithfully executed. The verse on which we meditate presents him to us at the close of his glorious career. And the scene is most interesting. It is his last interview, on earth, with his friend and successor ; and it serves to illustrate the ardour of his friendship, his deep concern for the weal of the church, and the power of his faith in God. The stern Prophet is seen to be capable of the tenderest affections of our nature. The heart which has long glowed with indomitable courage, is moved with the softest sympathy. The eye which once with steady gaze met the fierce and fiery glance of the tyrant, beams with kindly light. The lips which reproved Ahab, and in tones of just severity denounced the vices of his family and court, now pour out words of more than human benignity. A tempestuous day often closes with a placid evening. The howling wind is hushed. The waves subside, and the eye rests again on a calm and sleeping sea.
So the stormy day of the Prophet's ministry descended to a tranquil eventide ; and his commission, which had proclaimed thunders of terror, closed with an act of purest charity and peace.
Divine religion is love. All who yield to its benign influence are taught to seek the happiness of their fellow-men. Their ear is not deaf to the wail of wretchedness, and their hand is not slow to afford relief. They “forget not to do good, and to distribute.” “ They withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of their hands to do it.” Such acts are not, in all cases, the response of benevolence to the voice of appeal ; they are often free, spontaneous, unsolicited.
Such was the proposal of Elijah. His large heart longed to give some token of its affection. His offer was unprompted,—the over
flowing of a heavenly charity. Elisha had made no request. He appears to have walked in silence by the Prophet's side. He was absorbed in deep and solemn thought. He anticipated, with a heavy heart, the removal of his venerable counsellor and guide. To part with such a friend, under any circumstances, had been painful; but, in the extraordinary circumstances of the times, it was inconceivably distressing. What could Elisha do without Elijah ? Could he direct the counsels of the persecuted church? Could he fearlessly denounce Baal in the presence of royal idolaters ? Could be assert the inalienable claims of Jehovah, defend His supreme authority, and vindicate His broken law ? Could he call upon the apostate nation to return to the pure faith and worship of their fathers, in tones which would melt their hearts into tenderness or raise them into awe?— What could the church do without Elijah? Oppressed and disheartened, to whom could she look when her great Prophet was gone? Whose eye would inspirit her fainting sons? Whose voice would rally her scattered and desponding friends ?—What could the nation do without Elijah ? Who would so faithfully reprove its vices, or call the house of Israel to repentance ?—Some of these thoughts, probably, engaged the mind of Elisha. But his musing was interrupted by the Prophet's voice,—“Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee." Cheering words !—more welcome than sunshine after storm, or the dawn of morn to the benighted traveller, or the dew of heaven to a thirsty land.
Elijah had the Spirit of his God; and hence his conduct bore resemblance, faint indeed, yet true, to the Divine procedure. God waits not till we ask, but makes the offers of His blessing. The first promise to the guilty pair was not called forth by earnest prayer or importunate appeal. It was the free act of ineffable and infinite love. The cause of our redemption is the love of God. The gift of His Son to atone for human guilt was the spontaneous expression of His grace. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John iii. 16. Comp. I John iv. 9, 10.) So, likewise, all the offers of salvation, conveyed in holy Scripture, are the overflowings of infinite charity. Our adorable Lord came “to seek and to save that which was lost." The lost sought not a Saviour, but the Saviour sought the lost. His words breathed the tenderest compassion. They who listened to them, “wondered” at their gracious spirit and design. Can we fail to think of some of His last words to His disciples? What anxiety did He manifest to comfort them, when the thought of His removal had wrung their hearts with bitterest sorrow! What gracious words He then spake! “Let not your heart be troubled : : ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions : if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” “ Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” “And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart