« VorigeDoorgaan »
like the reflection of the sun from the tops of the
eye is fixed on their habitation, which presents stronger attractions than the splendid mansion or the gorgeous palace. His ear listens to the sigh and the groan which rise out of the depths of humble poverty, with more delight than “to the church-going bell :" and, while he turns away,
from the pompous offerings of hypocrisy, he rejoices over these his “ hidden ones;" and says, “they shall be mine in that day when I'make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”
In the summer of the year 1812, I took an excursion through part of the West of England ; and after travelling on horseback several days, I resolved to tarry at the beautiful village of S- On passing along I saw a sign hanging before a small, but respectable looking inn : and as it involuntarily reminded me of “ the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,” I made up my mind to rest for a season beneath its humble roof. Having taken my
horse to the stable, and given the hostler instructions to take great care of it, I walked into a small neat back room, which commanded a view of a most beautiful scenery. As I stood gazing and musing while the homely looking landlady was preparing my coffee, the lines of Milton's Morning Hymn recurred to my recollection ; but, never till that moment, had they produced such an effect ;
“ These are thy glorious works, Parent of good :
Almighty! Thine this universal frame :
Thus wondrous fair! Thyself how wondrous tben!
My meditations were now interrupted by my landlady, who, as a inark of her kindness, brought in my coffee, &c. put a small bell on the table, and assured me, with a great deal of good-natured ease, that she would endeavour to make me comfortable as long as I chose to honour her with my company. Having partaken of the provision of my table, I resolved on taking a walk, and was told, that if I turned short round to the right as soon as I passed the clump of fir-trees, I should soon come to a most beautiful valley. This direction I followed ; and in about a quater of an hour I entered one of the most romantic vales I have ever visited. The sun was still gilding the tops of the hills which were towering at a distance; the sky was stretching its blue arch over the whole scenery which was enlivened by the song of the thrush, and the responding notes of the yellowhammer. As I walked on, wrapped in sweet meditation, I was disturbed by the bleating of the flock, which I saw in a remote part of the vale, ascending a steep path, which led to a neighbouring fold. I quickened my pace, that I might, if possible, have some conversation with the shepherd, who, with his faithful dog, was bringing up the rear. He was an old man, of a swarthy complexion, whose features were strongly marked, his grey hairs hung in locks over his shoulders, and his manners indicated the presence of a superior mind. He made a low bow, which I returned, with the following observation :
“ You are taking your flock home to rest, which I suppose must remind you sometimes of the approach of that hour when you must rest from your labours?"
“ Yes, Sir, it does; and, blessed be God, there is a rest provided for his people."
This pious expression sprang a mine of exquisite feeling in my breast : and I instantaneously thought
I recognized in the features of the old man, the image of Christ.
« From this remark, I presume, you know some. thing about Jesus Christ, who is the way to that place of rest."
“ Yes, Sir; he is now my Saviour, though for many years. I lived without knowing any thing about him. I often weep when I think of the many precious hours I have wasted in this valley, by reading ballads and foolish books, which I ought to have spent in reading my Bible.” '“ Do you ever attend a place of worship ?" “No, Sir; I never leave my flock.”
“How then did you come to know any thing about Jesus Christ ?”
He put his hand into his pocket, and pulled out a Tract, and said, as the big tear dropped upon his .cheek, “ There is the blessed book that made known. to me a blessed Saviour; and I would not part with it for all the world.”
Feeling anxious to hold in my hand the instrument which had been employed by the “ Eternal Spirit" to turn this aged man from darkness to light, I asked him to lend me the Tract, which I took with as much reverence and delight as an Israelite would have clasped the rod of Moses after the deliverance of his countrymen. It bore the following title, which had become nearly obliterated by frequent use ;-" The Good Old Way: or the Religion of our Forefathers, as explained in the Articles, Liturgy, and Homilies of the Church of England." I said to him, “How did you get this Tract?" He replied, “A lady gave it one day, about three years ago, but I don't know her; but I hope she will be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”
“ How do you spend your leisure time now?".
“ In reading this sacred book, which tells me so much about that dear Saviour, in whom, througla grace, I have believed, and who is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day."
" I suppose you are mạch more happy now than you were before you knew him?" This question brought over his countenance one of
the finest expressions of delight I ever beheld ; and after a short pause, he said, “ More happy, Sir! I never was happy till I obtained mercy; but now I have that peace which passeth all understanding; and expect, before long to join that blessed company we read of in the Revelations, which serves the Lord day and night in his temple."
Having made a few unimportant inquiries respecting his family, and the state of agriculture, I wished him a good night, and passed on.
A death-like stillness pervaded that part of the vale through which I was now walking, which was not interrupted except by the occasional notes of the nightingale, until I came to a brake';, when I heard a few verses of a favourite hymn sung in the most exquisite style :
66 The calm retreat, the silent shade
With prayer and praise agree ;
For those who follow thee.
And grace her mean abode,
She communes with her God!
Nor thirsts for human praise." I lingered near the enchanting spot some minutes after the lovely music had died away, in expectation of seeing an heir of glory come forth from his sacred retreat, but at length I beheld him creeping up a winding path, which was but partially concealed by the trees; and when he reached the summit, the beautiful language of a worthless prophet struck me as applicable to the scene of my vision :“From the top of the rock I see him, and from the hills I behold him : lo! the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations."
I now returned to the inn, had my, supper, and afa ter engaging in prayer with the family, I retired to rest. In the morning I rose early; and having partaken of the food that perisheth, I re-visited the vale, where
I enjoyed those reflections and impressions which a modern poet has described with artless simplicity :
* God is hcre; how sweet the sound !
All I feel and all I see,
With universal Deity.
Though the death-wing'd arrow dy;
And I move beneath his eye.
When I weep, he sees my grief :
Ready to afford relief. I reached the end of this walk before I was aware of it; and as I stood gazing on the distant scenery which was open before me, I saw a lonely cottage, towards which I bent my steps. It was small, yet tastefully adorned with jessamine, honey-suckles, and rose-trees, with a neat garden in front, enclosed by a hawthorn hedge. While I was indulging my musings, an elderly female made her appearance, whose physiognomy and whose manners were very preposessing. After a little desultory conversation, which took place as I stood resting my arm on the top of her little wicket-gate, I was invited to take a chair. This invitation I gladly accepted, and soon found, that I was in the society of one of the Lord's “ bidden ones. My hostess was a widow whose husband had been dead about seven years. She informed me, that her father, who was a man of piety and of wealth, had given her an education becoming the station of life which she was likely to fill; that at the age of seventeen, she became decidedly pious, and before she reached her twentieth year, she was married to one of the most amiable, and one of the most attentive men that ever became a husband. A kind Providence smiled upon them during the first twelve years of their wedded life, when a series of disasters befel them, which turned their paradise of bliss into a valley of weeping. Her father having made some large speculations in the wool-trade, lost the whole of his property, and not having been inured to affliction in his