It was when struggling against my own unbelief, so cruelly encouraged by the groundless tales of wilful deceivers and willing dupes, that I was unexpectedly cheered, by the sudden recurrence of Mary to the scenes of her infancy, her father's home. A text of scripture was brought before her, which he had been in the habit of dwelling upon, when pointing out to his family the sinfulness of creature worship ; and a flood of light appeared to break at once upon her mind, presenting a rapid succession of images, long lost in the spiritual darkness of her riper years. It was then that she told me what proved her to have been the child of many prayers—the object of a truly christian father's anxious instruction: and it came, too, at an advanced period of my daily attendance when she lay in lingering torments on what was sure to be her death-bed. Need I say, that every phantom of mistrust, conjured up by the devil to dishearten and perplex me, vanished, never to return? It was enough—I found that another had long before laboured where I was mercifully commissioned to enter upon the ground, unoccupied as I supposed it to be. In the morning that christian father had sown the seed : in the evening, by God's grace, I withheld not my hand ; I know not whether prospered, this or that: but I believe they were alike good. Only the former sprung not up, until the latter was likewise cast in.
Two things made against the apparent reality of dear Mary's conversion : one was, that she long persisted in a falsehood, the tendency of which was to screen from well-merited odium one who had deeply, cruelly wronged her faithful attachment to him. The other was the unvarying respect that she showed to her priest, who persisted in visiting her. On both these points I was fully satisfied, and indeed confirmed in my estimate of her character : for, on my directing my discourse one day with an especial view to the former of them, the delusion of doing evil that some supposed good might ensue, she burst into tears, acknowledged her offence; and that she had considered it meritorious to stand between that individual and the disgrace that was his just due; and, in my presence, she spoke to the same effect to him, warning him of the ruin that awaited him, in time and in eternity, if he forsook not his evil way. With regard to the priest, she had experienced from him much kindness, and frequently had he relieved her necessities, instead of taking aught from her. She knew him to be sincere in his errors; and she did justice to the benevolence of his conduct; firmly declaring, that as long as she lived she would manifest her grateful sense of his well-intentioned zeal. I was far from discouraging this : I loved her for it, and exhorted her to be frequently in prayer for him; but others could not enter into my views, because they saw not that wherein I was daily privileged to rejoice. It was a small matter to her, or to me, to be judged of man's judgment. Mary had the witness in herself, and she died in perfect peace—a peace that had possessed her soul for many weeks, previous to its happy enfranchisement from the perishing clay. I too, had a witness, in the signal answers to prayer, whereby my path was daily opened to the chamber of my beloved charge, notwithstanding an almost unprecedented stretch, both of influence and authority, to bar it against me. I had another witness, in the unwonted patience that possessed my intemperate spirit, under many indignities ; and the faith that led my steps continually to the scene of opposition. That God himself had set before me an open door, was manifested in this-—no man could shut it.
Well, the scratches were soon healed, that those ungracious thorns inflicted ; and the certainty that I did indeed behold the flower removed to a fair garden where no thorns can enter, renders me joyfully willing to encounter as much, and more, wherever the Lord points a way. I should be well pleased so to connect the memory of my interesting Mary with the bright-blossomed furze, that every survey of its golden treasures, scattered over our heaths and glens, might suggest a theme of cheerful encouragement to all who desire to labour in the Lord's cause, among the bond-slaves of Satan. Let them always remember, that opposition ought to be a spur, overruled to quicken them in their course. Satan is an experienced general, who does not enter the field against imaginary foes, nor man his walls when there is no peril. Whenever he bestirs himself to an active resistance, depend upon it, he sees that One mightier than he is taking the field. You cannot see your leader; Satan does. When, therefore, ycu find unlooked-for obstacles thickening before you, be sure that the adversary is alarmed, and go forward ; for He who never rides forth but to conquer is with you in the field.
With a gladsome heart I looked upon Mary's humble grave : for with sparkling eyes she used to tell me that, whereas it had been, all her life long, a prospect of unutterable horror and dismay to her, she could look forward to it as a pleasant resting-place for her poor body, while her soul, in the hands of her dear Redeemer, waited for the time appointed to reunite itself with its former companion. She dwelt upon the glorious change, from corruptible to incorruption, from mortal to immortality ; and she dwelt upon it as the achievement of Christ alone, on her behalf. This was a hope that maketh not ashamed; and well does the gay sweet blossom of the threatening furze accord with my bosom's joy, while contemplating the work of redeeming love, in rescuing her soul from all the host that encompassed it. The work was the Lord's—to Him be the thanksgiving and the praise!