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Converse with God in Solitude” was her daily food; it appeared quite necessary to her comfort, that it and the Bible should be on the bed or table by her. From “ Rutherford's Letters” she reaped, also, great comfort; his quaint and forcible style suiting well her weakened powers of attention. She generally expressed a wish to her friends, not to read those Scriptures that referred to God's vengeance and judgments; “ He has been so merciful a God to me, that I wish only to hear of his mercy.” She employed much of her time, also, after her father's death, aided by her sister, in acquiring a knowledge of the short-hand used by him; and to it the editors are deeply indebted for much valuable matter, introduced in the course of this work. The labour was great, but it accorded well with the veneration in which her kind heart held the memory of his tenderness and worth.
During the last fortnight she was confined entirely to her bed, and reduced to a state of excessive weakness. On the evening of the 18th November she sunk into a stupor, from which afterwards she partially recovered. Her mind was perfectly collected, and shortly after midnight, her clasped hands moving in the attitude of prayer, she sank into the arms, we doubt not, of her Saviour and her God.
“ She set as sets the morning star, which goes
Not down behind the darkened west, nor hides
Obscured among the tempests of the sky, • But melts away into the light of heaven."
We now come to his letters to his sons, which contain many passages fitted to be generally useful; and evince how happily the prudence of a wise and the piety of a good man were united in his character. He writes thus to one of them :
“Salisbury Place, Nov. 9, 1814. “MY DEAR Son, “ I have so seldom an opportunity of conversing with you for any length of time, that I am fain to convey my thoughts to you in this manner.
“ Yesterday I called at Mr. Ogle's, in quest of some suitable books for — 's and your perusal during the ensuing winter. He has promised to look them out, and lay them aside for me. Tytler's Elements of Universal History lays the foundation of, and supplies a guide to, all your future reading of the civil and military history of nations. But as a Christian, the knowledge of the great events which have befallen the church of God is of primary moment. Until I can arrange the plan, and secure, one way or other, the books which relate to the history of nations, perhaps you might very profitably run through the six octavo volumes of Mosheim which I have in my library. With two hours' reading every evening, you would go through a volume in little more than a week. It will open up a field of knowledge the most interesting, and be eminently subservient to your acquaintance with the unceasing care of Providence about the interests of truth and holiness. It will illustrate very strongly the Divine assurance, 'that the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry.'
“For graver reading, and for Sabbath mornings, you will find your heart delighted and improved by the perusal of Dr. Young's Night Thoughts, especially his Fourth Night; this, and some of the best poetry, such as Pope's Messiah, Parnell's Hermit, and the like, you should make
yourself entirely master of. They furnish a suitable pabulum to the mind in solitude, preserve our imagination from irregular wanderings, and fan the flame of every pious and virtuous principle.
“ We did not forget the return of yesterday: our heart's desire and prayer to God for you is, that revolving years may ever find you more advanced in useful knowledge, pious principles of action, and solid happiness.
“ Divine Providence hath hitherto watched over you. Your mind is replenished with the knowledge of the great truths of Christianity. You are satisfied, I hope, that Jesus of Nazareth is the true Messiah, and lean on his atonement for the pardon of your sins, and on his righteousness for your title to future blessedness. You love his laws, and desire to have every power of your nature brought into entire subjection to them, and to form your temper on his perfect pattern.
“ It is 'with the heart,' as the apostle says, “ man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.' The Thessalonian believers first gave themselves unto the Lord, devoted themselves to God and his service, and then they gave themselves to the church, uniting themselves to the Christians as the body of Christ, by an open profession of their faith and hope, engaging, in divine strength, to walk in the fellowship of the church, and to abound in all the social exercises of worship, and in all the duties of a religious life. I myself joined the church before I reached your age; and I have never had cause to repent of the surrender I made of myself to the Lord, however much cause I have daily had to mourn over my own unworthiness and manifold sins. I would not, my dear son, by any means over-persuade you, but only beg of you to make it a matter of very serious reflection, and of deep and earnest prayer to God, to guide you into the path of duty, and confirm your steps therein. I shall give you a small practical treatise on the communion, which you will find useful in preparing your mind for the ordinance.
“ Farewell, my very dear son. Every purchased blessing be yours! Your dear mother unites in love with your faithful friend and father.”
The following most valuable counsels and rules for the regulation of a young man's conduct were conveyed in a letter to one of his sons, on his entering the University of Edinburgh:
“ I cannot, my dear boy, express to you the concern I feel for your best, your spiritual interests. God is my witness, how near it lies to my heart. Let me impress the boundless importance of eternal concerns on your young and ardent mind. I assure you, I do not speak as a professional man; but the result of the deepest inquiry, of growing conviction, and every paternal feeling, urge me to press them on your most serious attention. Never — oh! never, neglect the first concern—a concern which gives importance to existence, and by attending to which we make our existence a blessing. Wisdom's ways, I assure you, (let ignorance, vice, and folly, say what they will,) are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. Such, I trust, you will ever find them, as all good men have in every age found them to be.
Above all things, live near to God in your habits of thinking, hoping, trusting, and acting. Study to make friends, as far as you can honourably do it, of all with whom you have intercourse. Never endanger the loss of a friend by a joke, or an attempt at sarcastic wit: it is the last thing a man will forgive; and it is unspeakably more desirable to be loved than to be feared. Beware of ever treating lightly or jocularly the language of the Bible, and ever cherish the deepest veneration for the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit. Lay the foundation of all worth and respectability in the fear of God, and the
possession of the image of Jesus Christ. Be assured, my dear boy, that when the habitual fear of God does not dwell in the heart, there is a lamentable defect there, and some latent moral disease. Read the Bible daily, and consider God as speaking not merely before you, but to you. Listen, apply, follow up the results of your own convictions with suitable practice. It is a most dangerous frame of mind to hold the truth in unrighteous bondage, and not suffer it to exert its full energy on the conscience and the temper. Beware of doubtful, I say not vicious, company, for I have no fear of that. Irregular habits contracted at college, in many instances, have brought a man's gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. Keep a memorandum of all your expenses. It is for your sake I wish this habit of economy and thoughfulness formed in your mind. You will thank me for it when I cannot hear your thanks.
“ But I must leave off; the hour of my ministerial visitation is come, and I have a long and laborious evening's work. The Father of mercies guide you, strengthen your mind in every pious and virtuous principle, bring you forward to useful and honourable life, and open to your heart the sources of consolation which redeeming love has provided, and which the parched estate of suffering humanity makes so needful! I am, as always, my dear son, your most affectionate friend and father.”
On one of his sons attaining majority, he thus writes to him:
“MY DEAR “ Most cordially do I congratulate you on your arrival at the age of man. From this day may the Lord bless you in a manner unfelt by you before! Make on this day an affectionate and decided choice of your father's God as your God. Surrender your heart to him, to be sanctified and preserved from all evil. Look back with devout gratitude on the unnumbered and unmarked mercies