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sengers. But why do I say patiently? In my life, I never witnessed a more edifying and delightful instance of true Christian cheerfulness. When the nature of her disease, and its inevitably hopeless character, was unexpectedly announced to her by two of the leading Dublin physicians, she told me that she heard it with a calm and tranquil pleasure which was altogether indescribable: and which she considers, and no doubt justly, the special gift, to meet her trying circumstances, of a gracious and tender Father, of a God who knoweth whereof we are made, who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, and suffers not His people to be tempted above that they are able. Almost immediately after, she returned to the social circle of the family with which she was then on a visit, to dinner, without their perceiving that such an announcement had been made to her, and without the slightest change in the frame or spirit of her own mind. Her only displacency was with herself, lest there might be any want of feeling in hearing with so much satisfaction of a removal from so many and so kind friends, and of an event, which in the bodily suffering that it must inevitably bring with to her, would be so distressing to them. Nor would it be adequately to describe her state, to say that it was the solemn frame of deep submission, and pious resignation to a painful and distressing providence. Excellent as that frame assuredly is, yet it must ever communicate to surrounding friends a sombre feeling of depressing sympathy. No, her's was the buoyant yet calm cheerfulness of full acquiescence, and thorough complacency in the Divine will; and yet without a single tinge of that levity which, whatever may be its root, we sometimes see, and which at such a season is most fearful and disgusting, or of its necessarily consequent depression. Her cheerfulness was not like the occasional rush of a brawling torrent, which quickly disappears, leaving behind it but traces of the desolation by which its course is ever marked. It was the calm and tranquil play of that well of water within the soul which, peaceful and refreshing, springeth up unto everlasting life. Such calm sunshine of the breast I never saw not merely dispel the gloom, but play cheerfully upon the bed of suffering and death. It was a cheerfulness altogether peculiar and indescribable, and which seemed not to belong to this world, but to have already conquered pain and death. In her intervals of freedom from pain, during which alone I saw her, it left not only her but me at perfect ease, while I sat at the bed of a dying sufferer. Indeed I felt nothing for her but thankfulness.
There is an inveterate obduracy of unbelief in thoroughly worldly minds which defies facts, and would be almost incredible were not itself a melancholy fact which is daily presented to observation. The thoroughly worldly man, whatever articles he may subscribe, or whatever liturgy he may use, is a sceptic as to the power of faith and grace. In relating to such persons this and similar instances, I have seldom failed to catch the civilly but ill-suppressed look of suspicious incredulity, which seemed to think, if not to say, This is all professional cant, in which the well-meaning enthusiast minister is to be suffered, but not fully credited. In fact, they consider such descriptions of the believer's dyingbed as mere idle declamations. They view them as highly-coloured and exaggerated pictures, drawn from fancy for exhibition, but without any original in real life, and which could ill endure a close and rigid scrutiny. But, blessed be God, the Christian pastor, in making statements such as this, but speaks that he does know, and testifies that he has seen, and many can confirm his testimony. And few things bring with more overwhelming conviction to his own mind the importance
of eternal concerns, and the solid reality of religion, than the awful contrast which he is often called to witness between the death-bed scenes of the truly pious and of the careless or ungodly.
During the last visit of the cholera, it was among the privileges of my ministry to witness a scene very similar to that which I have just related. I sat by the bed of one who had long been a sincere and consistent Christian, suddenly seized, and at midnight too, by the pestilence that walketh in darkness. For three hours life was in the balance, and of this danger he was himself fully aware. The midnight cry, "Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go thou forth and meet him," seemed to sound in his ear. Most persons would be ready to say, How awfully solemn, how terrific, must three such hours have been. But he of whom I speak found them hours of deep inward tranquillity. All indeed was confusion and alarm without, but all was peace within. About, as he thought, to quit for ever the light of sun, and moon, and stars, he would trim his lamp, to enter upon the dark valley of the shadow of death, and found oil in his vessel. His loins were girded about, and his light burning, and he himself waiting, without a fear, the final summons. Not only was he enabled by Divine grace, in submissive resignation, to commit his family, and every worldly interest, without anxiety to God-not only was he enabled to commit to God, with holy confidence, his own immortal soul; but so perfect was his acquiescence, so entire his complacency in the Divine will, that he could not, he assured me, form a desire, or offer up a prayer as to the event, but was enabled, in calm composure, to yield himself without a choice to God's disposal, whether it was for life or for death. If those who have stood upon the narrow isthmus which separates the two worlds-time from eternity-without this happy experience, would but credit it, and contrast with it their shudderings at the dreaded approach of the king of terrors; if they would remember, that although they have been permitted now to retrace their steps, yet that sooner or later they must go forward, and meet him face to face, the issue of such reflection would, with the Divine blessing, be salvation. Common sense would co-operate with conscience and grace, if men would credit these facts of daily occurrence, and then soberly calculate, whether that which, in such a moment, would disarm death of his sting, and the grave of its victory and its terrors, would not amply compensate a life of godliness, even though religion's ways were not ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace.
In writing upon the solemn and important subjects of death and judgment, one cannot but allude to the recent event which clothes our land in mourning. And while every individual thinks and talks of the death of him who was, but a few days since, our sovereign, should we not remember and meditate upon our own? What a lively picture does the death of a sovereign furnish of the vanity of human wishes, and the unsubstantial, transitory character of all sublunary things? We propose to ourselves some earthly temporal good as the object of our eager pursuit: we anxiously desire it: we laboriously toil and strive for its attainment : we perhaps come up with it, and find it blank and utter disappointment, a bubble that bursts in our grasp—perhaps a flower which conceals a thorn that pierces us through with many sorrows. Or perhaps death, the grand leveller of ranks and ages, whose relentless scythe mows down alike the budding, the blooming, and the withering flower—who, with equal pace, knocks indiscriminately at the hovels of the poor and the palaces of kings-who knows no pity, and spares no feelings, but mer
cilessly rends the tenderest ties, and widows the fondest hearts-perhaps death, the king of terrors, silently approaches, an unexpected as unwelcome visitant, and arrests us in the very midst of our unfinished plans, and yet untasted enjoyments. In the folly of our hearts we are perhaps planning for years to come, "I will pull down my barns, and build greater, and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say unto my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." Such too often is the voice of our foolish hearts, when the unwelcome summons arrives, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee. Then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?"
The high personage lately removed, who within a week possessed all that station, and wealth, and power, for but a small fraction of which nearly every individual in his land was, and still is, anxiously toiling, now is a lifeless senseless corpse-his body the prey of worms equally with that of the meanest pauper in what were last week his dominions-this week the dominions of another, his soul, that which alone now constitutes himself, equally summoned, and equally obliged to appear, before the judgment-seat of Christ, there to give an account of the deeds done in the body, before the King of kings, before Him who is no respecter of persons-his robes of royalty exchanged for grave clothes-his palace for the cold and narrow house-henceforth to wear no crown except it be the crown of righteousness, which God the righteous Judge will give in that day to them that love him. And indeed it is a pleasing reflection that, as far as we can gather from the published accounts, the grand interests of eternity have not in his latter years been forgotten by our departed sovereign; and that the conjugal affection which soothed those pains and infirmities which pay no respect to the perishing bodies of kings, did not neglect the far higher interests of his immortal soul, but often brought before his mind those precious words which were able to make him wise unto salvation, through faith in Jesus.
Surely such a view as this event furnishes of the transitory and perishable nature of all earthly good, should damp our ardour in their pursuit, and our expectations of enjoyment from them. It should help to wean our affections from things below, and to fix them upon things above. But there are circumstances, perhaps necessarily attendant upon such events, which should also powerfully contribute to this effect. The bustle and haste and excitement which accompany, perhaps unavoidably, the commencement of a new reign, and the installation of a new sovereign, cast into the shade of oblivion, strange as it may seem, a departed king far more quickly than is usual in the case of individuals in humble life, and, by the contrast, shed a deeper gloom upon the dark and silent chamber of the royal dead. The tolling of the death bell, which proclaims a monarch gone, and the peeling artillery which greets the new possessor of a vacant throne, grate in discord upon the feeling heart. The quickly transferred allegiance; the fawning sycophancy which at once bows down to the new idol; the speed with which he, who but a few days since was the object of general and absorbing attention, is forgotten amid the political interests connected with his successor,-all prove the selfish principles upon which, perhaps unavoidably in this indigent condition of man, the social fabric is constructed-all but too plainly tell the feeling heart that this world is not its rest, and that for a home of permanent and solid happiness
"He builds too low who builds beneath the skies."
Let us remember that we too shall lie upon a dying bed, and look for
the last time upon sun and moon and stars, and upon the various objects, how fondly soever loved, with which hitherto we have been conversant. Tender and sympathising friends may weep around, and keep guard against the king of terrors; but from them too we must be torn. Their fond embraces cannot detain him upon whom the decree has gone forth, "This night thy soul shall be required of thee." Naked as we entered into the world, naked we must depart. Alone and unaccompanied, unless we have made Christ our friend, we must, each in his appointed time, tread the dark valley of the shadow of death. What then would be our feelings, what our wishes and regrets, if that solemn moment were now arrived? If, ere another sun, the midnight cry were to sound in our ears, "Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him!" Would it not be that we had cultivated a closer intimacy with Christ by faith and prayer? that we had come in deeper penitence and humiliation to the foot of the Saviour's cross? that we had been more devoted to His service-more faithful in our allegiance to Him— more sanctified by His Spirit-more meet for His kingdom? Let then not only the domestic affliction, but the providence which now preaches to this nation that "it is appointed unto all men once to die," preach with power to our reason, our conscience, and our heart.
J. M. H.
RISE AND FALL OF THE RUSSIAN BIBLE SOCIETY.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
THE same year that Napoleon was Emperor at Moscow (1812), that noble Institution, the Bible Society, was established in Russia. The late Emperor Alexander was about this period brought by Divine grace, through the instrumentality of Madam Krüdner, to take a deep interest in the spiritual welfare of his subjects. Dr. Paterson, who was then in Sweden as an agent of the British and Foreign Bible Society, arrived at St. Petersburg, and had soon after an interview with the late Count Kouchoubey, the President of the Council; and on the return of the Emperor from Paris, a Bible Society, by imperial oukase, was formed. Prince Alexander Galitzen, then Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs, was appointed President, and a Committee formed, numbering all the prelates and highest functionaries of the empire, the Czar giving the Society his cordial support and countenance.
A large mansion, the size of our Whitehall, was appropriated for the Society's use. Printing presses, printers, bookbinders, &c., were imported from England. Dr. Pinkerton and Dr. Henderson joined Dr. Paterson; they undertaking the translation of the Scriptures into the various languages and dialects spoken in that vast empire. A large grant of money and paper was made by the London Bible Society; and the nobility strove who should outvie in their princely donations and subscriptions; the Emperor and Imperial family leading the way.
That truly excellent man, Dr. Paterson, accompanied by Dr. Henderson, visited Moscow, and organized a Bible Society in that city. From thence they went through the length and breadth of the land, establishing branch Societies; welcomed wherever they went by the nobility and clergy. These were glorious days for Russia; but alas, the bright vision did not last longer than ten years. On the return of the army from Paris, political societies were formed among the officers dangerous to the State. These societies continued to increase in numbers
and influence till the year 1824, when a conspiracy was formed to murder the Emperor and Imperial family, and establish a republic in Russia.
A Captain Sherwin, an Englishman, a Captain in the Russian army, gave privately to the Emperor Alexander the first information of such a conspiracy existing among his nobility, with a list of the names of the conspirators. In that list was the name of a Colonel Glinka, with some names of persons formerly members of the St. Petersburg Bible Society. This man was indebted to the Emperor for all he possessed.
The good, benevolent, and kind-hearted monarch was cut to the heart. He abandoned the reins of Government to an insinuating Jesuit, Count Arakchaeff, a man devoid of honour and principle, who was not slow to poison his master's mind against the great and good Prince Alexander Galitzen and Mr. Papoff. In truth he denounced all the active members of the Bible Society, and other religious Societies which sprung up under the Emperor's fostering care, as "Carbonaries." The Prince Galitzen was removed from the ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs and the Presidency of the Bible Society. No meetings of the Committee were held; the true friends of religion were discountenanced; the butterflies of the day soon left the Society; and many of them became its bitterest enemies.
Things continued in this state till the poor broken-hearted Alexander died at Taganrog in November 1825, exclaiming, a few days before his decease, "Les ingrats, les ingrats."
The revolt broke out on the accession of his present Majesty; it was quelled; and among the conspirators not one was found who was a member of the Russian Bible Society. The Bible Committee met a few months after the accession of the Emperor Nicholas to the throne. Seraphim, the metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Novogorod, was in the chair. He opened the Meeting by saying that to the hierarchy alone belonged the printing, publishing, and circulating of God's Holy Word; and he instanced, in support of his dictum, the history of the Ethiopian Eunuch and "Thomas." A gentleman present, a member of the Committee, said, "Your Eminence no doubt means Philip." The Metropolitan in great wrath replied, "What salary do you receive from this Society?" to which he received the following reply: "I never have, or intend to receive one copeck from this Society, or any other; on the contrary, though I say it of myself, I am a large contributor to it." Here Prince Lieven (the eldest brother of the late Ambassador to the Court of St. James's) rose and said, "I am sixty years of age, and have lived all my life here, and associated with the highest dignitaries of the Church. It is for the first time I hear that the Russian Greek Church, by your Eminence as her spiritual head, denies to the laity the free use of the Holy Scriptures. Let me call to your Eminence's recollection the time when you, under the shadow of our late pious and benevolent Alexander, were foremost in fostering this Society in distributing the Holy Scriptures."
At this meeting the Society's doom was sealed. Dr. Paterson was informed that the Society would be placed under the Synod. He naturally could not act under such a Presidency, and left Russia. The house, the printing machines, &c., were delivered to their Eminences; and since the year 1825, not a Bible or Testament has been printed in the Russian language. Happily the Society was not idle during its ten years' existence; for besides circulating many thousands of Testaments and Psalters, a large supply was left ready bound, and the shop is still open for the sale of Testaments and Psalters in the Russian language.
G. K. O. C. R.