I placed some delicate Jessamine flowers in her coffin: and most delicious it was to gaze upon her placid countenance, with a vivid recollection of her bitter sufferings, and an equally vivid assurance of her present bliss. Never did the beautiful hymn, commencing, ' Ah, lovely appearance of death,' seem so appropriate, as when I repeated it beside her corpse : never did the high wall of the dark little garden, studded with shining white stars, afford so sweet a meditation as on the close of that summer-eve. Three or four days after, Jack and I arose very early to see her remains committed to the ground, while the dew-drops were still upon the grass. His smile was triumphantly joyous, though tears stole down his cheeks, as he said, ' Yes, God loves Mrs., C. Good Mrs. C. gone to heaven. Yes, Jesus Christ loves Mrs. C
I have frequently been led to consider the assertions of some Christians, that bodily suffering is not an evil: that, when in severe pain, they could desire still greater, as enabling them the more to glorify God; and also that such inflictions are sent altogether as marks of distinguishing favour, not in punishment. T do not think that such was the view taken by my friend; she appeared to regard the sufferings of her body as a chastisement, not joyous but grievous; but being to her, through divine grace, made an exercise of faith, patience, and love, it yielded most peaceable and beautiful fruits. I have been startled, many a time, by the rash and presumptuous complaints of those in prosperity, lamenting that they had no cross laid upon them, and envying the lot of their afflicted friends; as though tribulation and anguish were the determined portion of all God's children. I grant that the apostle assures us we must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of heaven ; and that all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution ; but I cannot see that it necessarily follows that we are to doubt our adoption, when the Lord, giving us liberally all things to enjoy, fills our hearts with food and gladness. Ease and prosperity are, in themselves, very trying to the Christian ; and he is apt enough, when so tried, finding his corruptions strong, and sin struggling for the dominion, to prescribe for himself a course of temporal calamities, as the only effectual remedy ; instead of applying to the sanctifying aid of the Holy Spirit, who taught Paul no less how to abound, than how to suffer need. I have often admired the levelling simplicity of that concise portion of our beautiful litany, which bids us pray u In all time of our wealth, in all time of our tribulation, good Lord deliver us." One state is not a wit more secure than the other; we are just as prone to make a popish purgatory of our afflictions, as we are to make a fool's paradise of our joys ; and sinful as it is to repine under the chastening rod, it appears even more inexcusable to grumble at the profusion of our temporal mercies. On the other hand, unless in some very peculiar cases, it seems to me quite as unbecoming to make a boast of our calamities, as to glory in our worldly possessions ; for what is it, in fact, but a covert vaunt of our patience and faith ? I have seen some dear sufferers, writhing under the most excruciating torments of acute disease, or pining in lengthened confinement to a sick room, or weeping, in the bitterness of their souls, a sudden be-reavment, which has left them comparatively alone upon earth :—I have seen them compelled to listen, while others, in the full enjoyment of health and prosperity, lectured them upon the enviableness of their lot: and required of them songs of mirth in their heaviness. God can, and does, give songs in the night of sorrow, heard by himself alone; and undoubtedly, he also enables his people to rejoice, even outwardly, at the abundant consolations with which he outnumbers their light and momentary afflictions ; but I do not love to see a wounded spirit, lodged in a weak body, crammed, as it were, with the crude notions of others, who but know theo retically what their friend is sensibly experiencing.
I am very sure that Mrs. C. was one of the most heavenly-minded persons I ever met with. Her rank in life did not bring her into what is called polite society, except among those who re cognized the tie of membership under one glori ous Head. Her education had not been of a supe rior order ; but alike in mind, manners and conver sation, the indwelling Spirit shed a lustre around her, which commanded respect from every one There was an humble dignity in her deportment that could awe the most reckless into submission to her calm and mild rebuke: and her sympathizing pastors came to her less to impart than to receive consolation, encouragement, and spiritual profit: while she, in the spirit of a little child, desired but to sit at their feet and learn. Now, I would sooner take the feelings of such a person for a rule whereby to judge, than the laboured conclusions of profound thinkers, on a point which, after all, they could but think upon : and I am sure that Mrs. C. regarded pain as a positive evil, the bitter and humiliating fruit of sin, judicially inflicted, to rebuke and chasten ; and by no means to be glorified in, as an especial privilege, even by God's children. I have seen the tears stand in her eyes, while her look expressed somewhat of Job's mournful reproof, to the injudicious friends, who undertook to prove that her bodily torments were so many calls for exultation and delight: but, when left to draw her own deductions from the Lord's dealings with her, as explained by his word, and applied by the Spirit, she would sweetly acknowledge, as in~the instance of that sleepless night, how much of mercy her severest trials were made the means of conveying to her soul. Had recovery been possible, I make no doubt that she would gladly have used every means to throw off her dreadful malady ; and most touching was the fervency of her thankfulness to the Father of mercies, when a few hours of sleep had been permitted to refresh her wearied body. Yet she desired to depart, and to be with Christ, knowing it to be far better than a lengthened sojourn upon earth ; and since the Lord had appointed that lingering and agonizing disease, as her path to the grave, she was content. To say that, if left to her own choice, she would not have preferred a less torturing disease, would be more than I should feel justified in asserting : but I am sure that she believed that to be best for her which the Lord had chosen; and that she never desired it to be otherwise than as He willed it.
The Jessamine, at all times and in all places, is lovely: but that on the antique wall, breathing fragrance on my evening promenade, was certainly the richest and the sweetest that I ever met with. No flower can be more simply elegant in form, more untainted in the purity of its perfect whiteness, or more refreshingly odoriferous in its delicate scent. There is, besides, something in its utter inability to sustain itself, that farther illustrates the Christian character. The Jessamine will aspire and grow to a considerable height, butit must be upheld throughout, or it sinks downward, and defiles in the dust of the earth those beauties which were formed to expand towards heaven. Let but a single shoot break loose from its support, and you see it straggling far away, with an earthward tendency, the sport of every wind. Is not the type obvious ? I once remarked a straying branch of the Jessamine, crossed in its way by the shoot of a neighbouring ivy, and firmly fixed to the wall by the steady progress of its more adhesive companion. Here, the strong bore the infirmities of the weak, by love serving another, and becoming a fellow-helper in the faith to a less stable believer. It was beautiful to see how, from this point, the Jessamine shot upwards, bearing to a great height the fragrant blossoms that would otherwise have been trampled under foot: and the inference was cheering too. I have often thought that I must write a chapter on the ivy, which is really the most patronizing of plants ; though like the patrons of this world, it sometimes destroys its protege. But to return to the Jessamine. It is long since I gazed upon the old wall of dear Mrs. C.'s humble garden, and many an experimental lesson have I since been made to learn, of the necessity both for prop and pruning-knife, among the Lord's weak straggling plants. But there is something so sweet in the recollection of my lonely walks, where indeed there was scarcely room for two to pace the garden, that I rank the Jessamine, with its pointed leaves and starry flowers, among the most precious of my store : and if ever I possess a cottage of my own, it shall clothe the walls, and peep into the casements, with its well-remembered story of patience, piety, and peace.