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again as it was in times past !” Do not be discouraged ; do not despair. You may still find mercy, and again rejoice with the “joy of salvation." The God, from whom you have wandered, says, “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings." The way of return is by heartfelt repentance. “ Remember from whence thou art fallen,” said He who walked amid the golden candlestieks, “and repent, apd do the first works.” Your declension is not only to be deplored as a calamity, but confessed and lamented as a sin, for which you must seek forgiveness, through the precious blood of Christ. Then do the first works ; take your Bible, as you took it at first ; seek your closet, as you sought it at first; and engage, if possible, as at the first, in works of loving usefulness. So
may you hope to enjoy once more the peace and gladness of the soul which walks with God.
Let no fear of falling keep any one from seeking salvation. Though it be too true that many have fallen, that does not make the soul one whit less precious, or the necessity of its salvation one whit less urgent. Nor let it keep you from the manly profession of Christ. Such a profession is the will of your Lord, and how strongly the love you owe to Him should impel you to do that will! And He can keep you from falling, even in the midst of the strongest temptations. He never yet failed the soul that trusted Him, and he cannot be unfaithful to you. Go first to His feet, then, for mercy. And, having obtained that mercy, stand forth before the world and say, “I am on the Lord's, side; I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” And let it encourage you to make such a profession, that he will not only keep you from falling, but avow you as His servant and His friend before an assembled universe !
Return, O wanderer, return!
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, W.C., AND
PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C., LONDON.
London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close, E.C.
THE FAITHFUL ADVISER.
- Walk by faith, and not by sight.” This text occurred to-day in my daily reading, and forcibly reminded me of some events which took place several year since, and a yet more singular circumstance of a very recent date. I hope my readers will pardon my apparent egotism in thus recalling an instance when, though greatly fearing that my course of action might cause me to lose some portion of my worldly prosperity, I yet trusted my cause to God, and, by his blessing, remembered the divine command, to walk by faith, and not by sight.”
For many years I have practised as a physician in London. Before then, I had been in Edinburgh, and had worked hard to distinguish myself as a writer and lecturer. My tide of good fortune, on first settling in London, was very Auctuating. I had a young wife, and my little children were very delicate. I became more and more anxious as yearly expenses increased, and my patients did not multiply in proportion. My wife, Agnes G., I used to call my "sheet anchor” in all the agitating storms of my anxious life-voyage. She was naturally reserved, and said little about her “inner life;" but her patient submission, her true childlike trust in God, and her unfailing cheerfulness, even when tried with severe illness, formed a beautiful picture of earnest, simple piety, and recommended Christianity to me more than all the books and sermons that fell under my notice. She had early experienced trials, but they had been blessed to her; and now her only real anxiety was to witness the conversion of her husband, to see him cease to look with self-confidence on his own good deeds and high morality, and to confess himself sinful and unable to do anything by his own power, and flee for refuge to the atoning blood of Christ.
After some painful struggles I found my worldly circumstances improve; but we had a sad grief in the loss of our eldest child, after a lingering illness. I felt this loss intensely; but after a long period of mental gloom, peace was granted to my troubled mind, and my dear wife found her prayers on my behalf had at last been answered. I saw all things in a different light; and while I deplored my past wasted time, I felt an earnest wish to live entirely for a better world, and in strict agreement with the solemn precept, “ Do all things to the glory of God.”
Our life then was very happy. Agneshelped me in my writings ; she prepared my references, and was a neat and yet rapid copyist.
One day, a lady of great beauty and dignified aspect entered my consulting rooms. She told me that her only daughter, Marian B., was very ill, and requested my immediate presence at R., where she resided. Accustomed as I was to listen unmoved to much that was told of trial and suffering, there seemed something so peculiarly affecting in the tragic history of this poor girl, that I felt a deep and painful interest in Marian, even before I visited her sick room.
It was a lovely day in early summer; the Thames glittered like a flood of molten silver, the trees wore that beautiful pale green so peculiar to the end of May, and as I followed Lady Charlotte B. through her garden, the exquisite beauty of the scene struck me forcibly. Before proceeding further in my little narrative, I must devote a few lines to explain the melancholy circumstances of this once happy, but now most miserable girl.
In very early life Marian formed an engagement with a young officer named L., an ensign of high family but small fortune. Mr. and Lady Charlotte B. at first approved of the intended alliance, but after a time withdrew their consent, and wished their child to marry a nobleman of immense fortune but weak intellectual powers. Marian remained firm, and many sad domestic scenes took place between the ambitious parents and the determined resistance of their daughter.
Without saying a word, Mr. B., who had considerable influence at the Horse Guards, contrived to get Mr. Li's promotion, and his new regiment was soon ordered for foreign service to a part of the West Indies so extremely unhealthy, that his going there was felt by both Marian and himself as almost a death warrant. The event proved them right. Less than a year after, Mr. L. unexpectedly became a rich man, through very considerable property left by a distant relation. He resolved to return to England; but before his affairs would allow of his taking this step, a sudden attack of fever carried him off in a few hours. His last sigh was for his Marian, and his last action was to have a will made, by which she became heiress to his newly acquired riches. From this time Miss B. sank into a state almost of despair; her only comfort seemed to be in thinking that by Mr. L's bequest she would soon be able to leave her parents, whose mistaken and worldly policy had made her so wretched, and that she might live in some retirement, there to spend her time in lamenting her withered hopes and all the sad realities of her unhappy lot. She had never been taught that trials are often sent in love, to wean the sinful heart of man from this world's fading pleasures, and fix the truant affections on God, and him only.
Another disappointment soon fell on Marian. Her money had been invested in some shares which had hitherto produced an unusually high rate of interest. A sudden change in the money market caused all these shares to fall rapidly, and the dishonesty of an agent completed the ruin of her fortune. Again she was dependent on her father, and when she contemplated long years passed with those who had, she thought, treated her so cruelly, a desponding state of mind came on, and her health utterly gave way.
She would see neither of her parents, who lamented, when too late, the part they had taken.
To all who saw her, Marian expressed herself bitterly against her parents, her mother more particularly; and I used vainly to try to stop these useless and most painful displays of wounded feeling. She often said, “ They have killed Mr. L. between them—they have ruined my happiness; and because I cannot forgive their cruelty, you think me wicked and undutiful.” I tried by every means to soothe her agitated mind, and as her health partially returned, I had the comfort of seeing her much more tranquil, and able to see her unhappy father and mother with composure. My attendance was long, but as summer advanced her worst symptoms abated, and I took my leave on the day of her removal to Brighton, more sanguine as to her present state, though of her real recovery I had no hope.
During that summer Agnes had been detained in Scotland, by illness in her own family, and most painful domestic duties. She now returned, and we spoke much of Miss B., my letters having excited her tender interest in that poor young creature. Her first questions startled me. 66 And what have you done, dear Philip, to point out to this unhappy girl her real state as a sinner, and her need of the atoning blood of her dear Redeemer ? Conscience told me Agnes was right, but I immediately saw my situation in a very unpleasing light. Mr. B. and his wife had imbibed almost intidel principles; and Marian once told me she hardly recollected visiting a church, or any place of worship. felt, therefore, that if, as a matter of duty, I spoke to Marian on serious subjects, I might lose my position in the house, and become unpopular amongst my patients as a preaching doctor, to use an expression I have sometimes heard.
Much as I wished to do right, and to obey the gentle pleadings of my dear wife, I must confess it was a painful struggle before I could fix my mind to do what I knew was my duty. I listened to her earnest words, and felt self-condemned, as she said, “Oh, Philip, do what is right, and leave the rest with God. Even if you suffer for a time, still this life is short, and there is something glorious in the thought, that our heavenly Father permits us to suffer for his sake.”
A few days before Marian's expected return to London, my old and venerated friend Dr. G. called on me, and as we sat that night by the bright fire, I spoke to him of Marian B., and asked him what his conduct would be if situated as I then was. “ Just what it has been the last forty years,” he said. “I have never hesitated to speak plainly to my patients; and where I thought the case required it, I have told them of their lost state as sinners, and pointed them to the · Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. In nearly all these cases I have found the respect and confidence of these patients much increased; and I had rather lose much of this world's good than stand by the dying bed of one without God, without Christ, without hope in the world, and make no effort to save him. It would be worse than to permit a blind man to stand on the brink of some dangerous place, and refuse him a helping hand to lead him away in safety." * I felt quite sure that my old friend was right, and determined, with my heavenly Father's blessing, to follow so good an example.
One day I heard the B- -s had arrived at R., and that my immediate attendance was desired. A few moments told me too plainly that all hope as to this world was over. Rapid consumption had come on, and there she lay, with her exquisite and fragile beauty, " like to a gathered lily, almost withered.” Our conversation was long, and she seemed so painfully unconscious of her dangerous state, that it was very sad to be obliged to undeceive her. I lifted up my heart in prayer
my humble efforts might be blessed, and then I tried to point her to the Saviour, and that atoning blood freely shed for the salvation of the sinner. I entreated Marian to be
• See Letters from Dr. Burder.