But there is yet another, and somewhat fancifnl view, that I delight to take of these fair things, my course has lain through a busy and a chequered path; I have been subjected to many changes of place, and have encountered a great variety of characters, who have passed before me like visions of the night, leaving but the remembrance of what they were. I have frequently in my lonely rambles among the flowers, assimilated one and another of them to those unforgotten individuals, until they became almost identified; and my garden bears a nomenclature which no eye but mine can decypher. Yet if the reader be pleased to accompany me into this parterre, I will exhibit a specimen or two of what I am tempted to call floral biography ; humbly trusting that He who commended to our consideration the growth of the lilies, will be with us, to impart that blessing without which our walks, and words, and thoughts, must be alike unprofitably—sinfully vain.
In glancing around the denuded garden, at this chilling season, we can scarsely fail to fix our regards upon the snow-drop, which bows its trembling head beneath the blast. Every body loves the delicate snow-drop; I will not stop to repeat what has been often said and sung concerning it, but proceed to that of which it is a characteristic memento. Merely premising that in this, and every subsequent sketch, I shall adhere most strictly to simple, unadorned truth. The characters will be real, every incident a fact; and nothing but the names withheld.
It was in dear Ireland, some years ago, that a pious clergyman, in reading a letter from a military correspondent, pronounced a name familiar to me —it was that of one who had been a beloved playmate in my earliest years, of whom I have long lost all trace, and who was there represented as having died rejoicing in the Lord. A few questions elicited the fact of his having entered the army; that he had been stationed in Ireland; had married an engaging young lady, and taken her to India; and now, had died in the faith. I soon after learnt that the youthful widow was expected, with her mother, to settle in that very town, where they had no connexions, nor could any one assign a reason for their choice.
Months passed away, and I could not ascertain that they were arrived; but .one Sunday, long afterwards on taking my accustomed place at church, I found a stranger beside me in the pew, whose deep weeds, pallid countenance, and bending figure, with the addition of a most distressing cough, increased the interest excited by the lowly humility of her deportment during prayers, and the earnestness of her attention to the preacher. After quitting the church, I asked a friend if he knew who she was; he replied, ' The widow of Captain-, concerning whom you have so often inquired.' The next day I went in quest of her, introduced myself as the early friend of her departed husband, and from that time it seemed as though her only earthly enjoyment was to be found in my little study.
Her story was this : she had married while both parties were in total ignorance of the gospel; their mutual attachment was excessive, on her part extravagant. She left the parental roof, and felt no grief at quitting it: she accompanied the regiment, and found every change agreeable, for still it was her privilege to brighten the home of her beloved and affectionate husband : He was an amiable young man, moral and honourable; and while quartered in that town, he had attended the preaching of the gospel, little imagining that the warnings addressed to unawakened sinners could affect one so upright as himself. Yet the word was not lost upon him : the good seed sunk into his heart; and soon afterwards it sprang up, beginning to bear fruit to the glory of God.
Theresa's affection was of that kind which is content to do, and to be, whatever will best please its object. With the same willing and happy acprescence that had before led her into the revelries of the ball-room, did she sit down to read with her husband the word of God, or kneel beside him in prayer. * The world,' she said, ' was pleasant to me while he loved it; and when he forsook it, so did I: but with this awful difference, Frederick left the world, because he found its friendship was enmity with God: I turned from it because my world was centered in him.' Her husband saw this, and earnestly strove to lead her into acquaintance with herself, as the necessary prelude to her seeking the knowledge of the Lord : but in vain—his opinions were hers, in all matters, and therefore in religion ; but her heart was totally unchanged.
And here I would pause to impress upon my readers, particularly the younger portion of them, the necessity for self-examination—constant and close—on this momentous point. Too frequently is the force of human attachment, the power of human influence, mistaken for the effectual working of a divine energy in the soul. A favourite preacher will sometimes lead captive the imagination, or the paramount influence of a beloved object seemingly draw the affections, into that track whereon none can truly enter, much less consistently walk, but by the guidance of the Holy Spirit: and what a catalogue of woes, not always to end with the present state of existence, might be exhibited as resulting from this specious self-deception ! " We know," saith the apostle, " that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." The test, when rightly applied, is a sure one : but we cannot guard too vigilantly against that perversion of it to which our deceitful hearts are perpetually prompting us. To love Christ in his people, is an evidence of spiritual life : to love Christ for his people, is a delusion, by means of which the father of lies seals many to eternal death.
After a few removals, the regiment was ordered to India ; and with bitter anguish has my poor friend dwelt on the recollection of that year's events. The family of her husband being people of rank, and wealthy, his outfit was rendered, by his father's generosity, a very superior one. Val uable plate, and every thing that taste could devise for affluence to accomplish, was lavished on the young couple; and as Theresa's fondness, in alliance with the pride that was her natural characteristic, pleaded for the display of all that could make her Frederick an object of such respect as this world's envy can bestow, she exerted all her influence to draw him into society which he felt to be most deadening to his spiritual energies, and destructive of the peace which he most coveted Still his affection for her was so great as to render her persuasions irresistible: and, while the fading of his healthful cheek, and increasing pensiveness of his eye, bespoke the internal conflict, he yielded to the snare so far as to devote many precious hours which might have been profitably spent among God's people, to associates, moral and respectable indeed, but very far removed from the ways of godliness.