From the Pen of
Mrs. Maria W. Stewart
Presented to the
First African Baptist Church and Society,
in the city of Boston.
Printed by Garrison and Knapp.
Once more I am about to make a feeble effort, in presenting the meditations of my heart before my friends and the public. I am sensible that my writings show forth the want of knowledge, and that they are scarce worthy of a perusal. But as I have said before, I say again, such knowledge as God giveth to me, I impart to you.
The author has, as it were, upon the one hand, basked in the sunshine of prosperity; and, on the other, she has drunk deep in the cup of sorrow.
Never did I realize, till I was forced to, that it was from God I derived every earthly blessing, and that it was God who had a right to take them away. I found it almost impossible to say, Thy will be done. It is now one year since Christ first spoke peace to my troubled soul. Soon after I presented myself before the Lord in the holy ordinance of baptism, my soul became filled with holy meditations and sublime ideas; and my ardent wish and desire have ever iv 1(2)v iv been, that I might become a humble instrument in the hands of God, of winning some poor souls to Christ. Though I am sensible that Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but that God alone giveth the increase, through Christ strengthening me I can do all things: without him I can do nothing.
It appears to me that because sin abounds, the love of many has waxed cold; and I cannot believe that God would have so long withheld the divine influences of his Holy Spirit from this people, had the professing followers of Christ more faithfully defended the cause of their blessed Lord and Master; for he has said that he will be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do those things for them that they need. I have borrowed much of my language from the holy Bible. During the years of childhood and youth, it was the book that I mostly studied; and now, while my hands are toiling for their daily sustenance, my heart is most generally meditating upon its divine truths. I am more and more convinced that the cause of Christ will never be built up, Satan’s kingdom will never be destroyed, the chains of slavery and ignorance will never burst, and morality and virtue will never flourish, till pure and holy examples are set at home, and the professing followers of Christ arise and shine forth, and prove to the world that there is a reality in religion, and a beauty in the fear of the Lord.
My Friends:—I have been sorely troubled in my mind: and why? It is because I have seen that many, who have professed the name of Christ, are not careful to discharge their duty faithfully to their dying fellow immortals around them. I have been considering that it will be but a poor excuse for me to say, when I appear at the awful bar of God, that the reason I neglected my duty was because I was fearful that this one would frown upon me, and that one would smile. Religion has become too unfashionable and too unpopular, even amongst the professing followers of Christ. O, how will they feel in that day to see their skirts filled with the blood of souls? Will not their eyeballs start from their sockets, to see sinners who have stumbled into hell over them? and will not their hearts be rent in twain, to hear them in anguish condemn them? If thou warn not the wicked man to flee from his ways, and he die in his sins, his blood will I require at thy hand, saith the Lord of hosts. O, the value of time! O, the worth of immortal souls! The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye, therefore, to the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth faithful laborers into his vineyard.
My respected friends, I have indeed found that the Christian’s life is a life of warfare; for the spirit wars against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit; and I am forced to cry out with St. Paul, from time to time, O, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death? for the good that I would do, that I do not; and the evil that I would not do, that I do.
How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts, and the place where thine honor dwelleth! Truly I can say with the Psalmist, that I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. What a sublimity dwells among the assemblies of thy saints! Truly thine abodes of worship are none other than the very gates of heaven. The sun has risen gloriously upon the earth. O, that its rays might shine into this benighted soul of mine. Soon I shall be laid in the silent tomb, or beneath the sod; and the places that know me now, will know me no more for ever. Then, O my soul, improve thy Sabbaths, and waste not their precious hours. Grant that what I hear this day, O God, may not be as water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up; but may be as good seed sown in the heart, springing up unto life eternal.
I have just returned from church. The discourse made a deep and solemn impression on my mind. O, may what I have heard prove a rich and lasting blessing to my soul. Disrobe me, O God, of every impure and unholy affection, and make my soul a fit temple for thee to dwell in.
O thou King eternal, immortal, invisible, and only wise God, before whom angels bow and seraphs veil their faces, crying, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God 7 1(4)r 7 almighty. True and righteous are thy ways, thou King of saints. Help me, thy poor unworthy creature, humbly to prostrate myself before thee, and implore that mercy which my sins have justly forfeited. O God, I know that I am not worthy of a place at thy footstool; but to whom shall I go but unto thee? Thou alone hast the words of eternal life. Send me not away without a blessing, I beseech thee; but enable me to wrestle like Jacob, and to prevail like Israel. Be graciously pleased, O God, to pardon all that thou hast seen amiss in me this day, and enable me to live more to thine honor and glory for the time to come. Bless the church to which I belong, and grant that when thou makest up thy jewels, not one soul shall be found missing. Bless him whom thou has set over us as a watchman in Zion. Let not his soul be discouraged. May he not fail to declare the whole counsel of God, whether sinners will hear or forbear. And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee. Do more for me than I can possibly ask or think, and finally receive me to thyself.
My friends, I have been brought to consider that it is because the Lord he is God, that I have not been consumed. It is because that his tender compassion fails not; that I am not now in hell lifting up my eyes in torments, where the worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched. And I cannot help but exclaim, Glory to God that I am yet upon praying ground, that I am yet a prisoner of hope. I rejoice that I have been formed a rational and accountable creature, and that ever I was born to be born again. I rejoice that the Lord God omnipotent reigneth, and that he searches the hearts and tries the reins 8 1(4)v 8 of the children of men. When I sin, I feel that I have an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous, who was in all points tempted like unto ourselves, yet without sin. He knows what sore temptations mean, for he has felt the same; and with his supporting grace, I am determined to resist the lusts of the world, the flesh and the devil, and to fight the good fight of faith, and win the crown and by my Father’s side sit down. Choose ye this day, therefore, whom ye will serve; but as for me, I am determined to serve the Lord.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him.—Have just returned from church meeting. Did not perceive that Christian spirit of fellowship which ought to exist. Is there an Achan among us, O God, who has done the accursed thing? or is there a Jonah among us, who has refused to obey thy will? If not, why hast thou so long hid thy face from us? for we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled. Return again unto us, O Lord God, we beseech thee, and open the eyes of our understanding, that we may see wherein we have sinned against thee. O God, we have robbed thee, in not presenting thee the first offerings of our hearts. O turn away from us thy fierce anger, and pardon this our iniquity, and lift upon us once more the light of thy reconciled countenance, and the joy of thy salvation. Have met 9 1(5)r 9 with an earthly disappointment. Am somewhat disheartened. Naked came I forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath takentaken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. O my soul, labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto life eternal. Lord, thou hast chastened me sore; but though thou hast caused me to fall, thou hast not utterly taken from me thy loving kindness; but thou hast dealt in tender mercy and compassion with me. I adore thee, praise thee, and bless thee, Parent of mercies, for thy patience and forbearance with me; for hadst thou left me to myself, where would my mad career have ended? Parent of mercies, give me calm submission to thy holy will, in all things; for thou hast said, that as thy day is, so shall thy strength be.
Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. Enable me to say from my heart, Thy will be done, O God. The heaven is thy throne, and the earth is thy footstool; neither may any say unto thee, what doest thou? But though thou art the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, yet wilt thou condescend to look upon him that is of a humble, a broken, and a contrite heart. As such, enable me, O God, to bow before thee at this time, under a deep sense of my guilt and unworthiness. It was my sins that caused thee to arise in thy wrath against me. Be pleased, O God, to blot them from thy book, and remember them no more for ever. Bless the church to which I belong. Thine arm is not shortened that it cannot save, neither is thine ear heavy that it cannot hear; but it is our sins that have separated thee from us. Purge us from all our dross; 10 1(5)v 10 hide thy face from our iniquities, and speak peace to our troubled souls. Bless thy servant, our pastor; let not his soul be discouraged, but may an angel appear unto him, strengthening him. Bless all the benighted sons and daughters of Africa, especially my unconverted friends. Send them not away from thy presence into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, but magnify the riches of thy grace in plucking their souls as brands from the burning; and though I may long sleep in death before thou wilt perform this work, yet grant that in the resurrection morn we may all awake in thy likeness, and our souls be bound in the sure bundle of eternal life.
I have been contemplating that if we live pure and virtuous lives here, when we come upon the bed of death, we shall be enabled to lean our heads upon the bosom of Jesus, and to breathe our souls out sweetly there. He will safely carry us through the dark valley and the shadow of death, and angels will convey us to heaven. There we shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and with the spirits of just men made perfect. There the Lord God will wipe away tears from all our faces, and we shall join with the hundred and forty-four thousand, in singing the song of Moses and the Lamb:Worthy the Lamb that died, they cry, To be exalted thus! Worthy the Lamb, our lips reply, For he was slain for us!
My Christian friends, let us examine ourselves, and pray for peace and conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance thereunto the end.
Before we proceed any farther, permit me to ask you, my Christian friends, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, what progress are you making in the divine life? Are you bringing forth the fruits of righteousness, and proving to the world, by your own conduct, that there is a reality in religion, and a beauty in the fear of the Lord? Are you letting your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven? Christ has said, that he is more willing to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him, than earthly parents are to bestow good gifts upon their children; and that if two or three shall ask any thing in his name, believing that he is able to perform, it shall be done for them of their Father which is in heaven; and certainly the fervent effectual prayer of the righteous availeth much. O, then, shall precious and immortal souls perish through our neglect? Shall they stumble into hell over us, and rise up in judgment and condemn us? Is it not to be feared that many who profess the name of Jesus, at the present day, are too much like whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful without, but inwardly are full of all manner of uncleanness? Do not many love the praise of man more than the praise of God? Have we not all been unprofitable servants? And is it not to be feared that at the great and terrible day of the Lord, he will arise and shut the door? and many will stand without, and begin to knock, and say, Lord, Lord, open unto us; but he will say, I know not from whence ye are: depart from me, ye workers of iniquity. And soon the summons will go forth against you, my unconverted friends; cut them down, for why cumber they the ground? Christ has been seeking fruit of you these many years, and lo, he hath 12 1(6)v 12 found none. O, how can you go on, year after year, and month after month, sinning against a holy and a righteous God, who is constanly showering down the choicest of his blesingsblessings upon you? O, how can you see your friends dropping into the eternal world, and yet feel no concern for your never dying souls? Will not the terrors of death alarm you, nor the calls and invitations of mercy pesuade you? Come, now, saith the Lord, and let us reason together; though your sins have been seen as scarlet, they shall be made as wool, and though they have been red like crimson, they shall become whiter than snow. O, my friends, believe me or not, I have felt at times to exclaim with Moses, O Lord God, this people have sinned a great sin; but now if thou wilt forgive them, blot me I pray thee from thy book. And the Lord said, him that sinneth against me, him will I blot from my book.
O, my unconverted friends, where will you hide yourselves in the great and terrible day of the Lord? Where will you secrete yourselves, from the presence of the Almighty? If you ascend into heaven, he is there; if you make your bed in hell, he is there. If you take the wings of the morning, and fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, even there shall he find you, and his right hand shall search you out. Be not deceived; God is not mocked. If the righteous are scarcely saved, where will the sinner and the ungodly 13 2(1)r 13 appear. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest he tare you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you.Where are now their haughty looks? O, their horror and despair, When they see the open books, And the dreadful sentence hear!
O, my friends, it is painful to tell you the truth, but you had better hear it now before it is eternally too late. Oh then, fly to the Saviour before the door of mercy is for ever shut against you. Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.
O Lord God, Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but thou alone givest the increase. We are sensible that without thee we can do nothing. Vain are all our efforts without thy blessing. But, O Lord God, thou hast the hearts of all thy creatures in thy hand; and thou canst turn them whithersoever thou wilt. Strip the hearts of this people from their idols, we humbly beseech thee. Take off their eyes from beholding vanity. Thou canst glorify thyself in making them the monuments of thy mercy; and thou canst glorify thyself in making them the monuments of thy wrath. Glorify thyself in making them the monuments of thy victorious grace. Open their eyes that they may see that their feet stand upon slippery places, and that fiery billows roll beneath them. And, O Lord God, wilt thou in an especial manner have mercy on our unconverted bretheren. Soften their proud and rebellious hearts, and be not angry with them for ever. O, Jesus of Nazareth, hast thou not died that they might live? Hast thou not become poor, that they might become rich? Is not thy blood sufficient to atone? Wherefore, O Lord God, hast thou hardened their 2 14 2(1)v 14 hearts, and blinded their eyes? Wherefore hast thou so long withheld from the divine influences of thy holy Spirit? Open their eyes that they may see that they are going down to hell, as fast as the wheels of time can carry them. O, stop them in their mad career! Grant that a grievous cry might be heard among thy professing children, in behalf of perishing souls; and may it be like the cry of the Egyptians in the night that thou didst slay their first-born. And not only for ourselves do we pray, but for all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. Grant that an innumerable host, which no man can number, may be gathered in from the four winds of heaven; and when the last trumpet shall sound, grant thay we may be caught up into the clouds of the air, and our ear saluted with the joyful sound, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.
Is there no balm in Gilead, and is there no physician there? Yes, there is balm in Gilead, and there is a physician there. And O, my soul, thou hast found that physician, and he hath applied his healing medicines to thy bleeding heart, and hath cured thee of thy wounds. Come, then, all ye mourning souls to this physician; he alone can heal your maladies. Are you poor? He is inexhaustibly rich and benevolent, and will heal you without money and without price. Is your case a desperate one? Are you full of wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores? Come just as you are. Look steadfastly to him, believe in his skill, and you shall be made whole.15 2(2)r 15
Another year is past and gone forever. Have been deeply impressed on account of past sins and ingratitude. But methinks I hear a voice which says, —Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Methinks I hear a voice which says,— Daughter, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. Consoling thought! O, thou compassionate Redeemer, was it love that induced thee to leave the realms of bliss, and take upon thee the form of a servant, and descend into this lower world—to die for fallen man? Infinite love! Amazing condescension! A mystery indeed, that the angels desire to look into. Even eternity will be too short for blood-washed millions to celebrate thy praises.
O, thou sin-forgiving God, they that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. Lord, I am sick, and full of diseases. If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. Though my sins have been as scarlet, thou canst make them as wool; and though they be red like crimson, thou canst make them whiter than snow. Were it not that there is a sufficiency in thy blood to atone for the vilest, the view of my past sins and transgressions would sink me in despair. But thou hast said, him that cometh to thee, thou wilt in no wise cast out. Lord, I come, pleading alone the merits of my Redeemer; not only for myself do I plead but for the whole race of mankind; especially for the benighted sons and daughters of Africa. Do thou loose their bonds, and let the oppressed go free. Bless thy churches throughout the world. Clothe thy ministers with salvation, and cause thy saints to shout for joy. Grant that the time may soon come, thay all may know thee from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof. In an especial 16 2(2)v 16 manner wilt thou look down upon the church to which I belong. Fire our souls with a holy zeal for thy cause, and let us not rest at ease in Zion, whilst souls are perishing for the lack of knowledge. Wilt thou increase her number of such, and such only, as shall be saved. Bless our pastor with a double portion of thy Spirit. Encourage his heart, and strengthen him in the inward man, and may he see the work of the Lord prosper in his hands. And now, Lord, what wait I for? Dispel every gloomy fear that pervades my mind, and enable me to hope in thy mercy, and to thee will I ascribe praises everlasting.
I have been impressed in my mind, my unconverted friends, with the awful idea that God is about to execute upon us the fierceness of his anger, and to pour forth heavy judgements upon this people. And why? Because your sins have reached unto heaven, and your iniquities unto the clouds. God has been calling you these many years to repentance, by his loving kindness and tender mercies; and Christ has been knocking at the door of your hearts for admittance, until his locks have become wet with the dews of heaven. Nay, even more; he hath chastened you with the rod of his wrath, and hath deprived you of your kindred and friends; he hath sent death and pestilence amongst you, and many have become widows, and their children fatherless; and still you go on unconcerned as though all were well, saying with proud Pharaoh, Who is the Lord, that we should obey him? You have closed your eyes against the light; you have stopped your ears against the truth; and you have hardened your hearts against the calls and 17 2(3)r 17 invitations of mercy; and I am fearful that the queen of the south will arise in judgment against this generation and condemn it—for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear of the wisdom of Solomon—and behold a greater than Solomon is here. I am fearful that the men of Nineveh will rise in judgment against this generation, and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here. O, you that sit under the gospel’s joyful sound, from Sabbath to Sabbath, and you that neglect the means of grace, who know your Lord’s will and obey it not! O, you that are exalted to heaven in point of privileges, shall be thrust down to hell; for if the mighty works that have been done in you have been done in Tyre and Sidon, it would have remained unto this day. Wherefore I beseech you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to repent and quickly put away from among you the evil of your doings, and turn unto the Lord your God with weeping, with mourning, and with fasting. It may be he will repent himself of the evil that he hath determined against you: lest if ye continue to rebel against the word of the Lord, he will arise in his wrath and say,—Because I have called, and ye have refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; I will laugh at your calamities, and mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as a whirlwind, and distress and anguish shall come upon you; then shall ye call, and I will not answer; ye shall seek me early, but ye shall not find me. And O, my Christian friends, you who have been the professed followers of Christ from ten to twenty years, bear with my plainness of speech, I beseech you, and permit me to ask you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, where are the fruits of righteousness that you have brought forth? Where are the souls that have been converted to God through 2* 18 2(3)v 18 your instrumentality? Where are the men that will give glory to God on account of your good works? Where are those amongst you that will boldly vindicate the cause of Jesus and him crucified? They that turn many to righteousness shall shine in the kingdom of heaven as the stars forever and ever; whilst the slothful and negligent shall be bound hand and foot, and cast into outer darkness, where there are weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. O, my Christian friends, if we are ever so happy as just to enter within the gates of the holy city—if it were possible, I say—we should mourn throughout the boundless ages of eternity, for having done so little to promote the cause of Christ and the good of souls.
Broad is the road that leads to death,
And thousands walk together there;
But wisdom shows a narrow path,
With here and there a traveller.
Yes, Glory be to God in the highest, there is here and there a faithful one, who is travelling towards Mount Zion, the city of our God.
What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? dropt from the dying lips of the companion of my youth. O God, was not my conscience stung with remorse and horror, was not my soul torn with anguish, and did not my heart bleed when the summons came: He must die, and not live. Die! Oh, must he die? Must we part to meet no more? And oh, must I be left, forlorn and unprotected? Spare his life, O God, if 19 2(4)r 19 consistent with thy will, was my cry; if not, make me to say, Thy will be done. O, my soul, thou hast watched the sick-bed of one who was near to thee, even the half of thyself; thou hast heard his dying groans, and seen his restless head turn from side to side in quest of ease; and his dim eye hath he turned upon thee, and implored thee for relief. Alas, what could I do? Friends, what were they but miserable comforters? And he had no God to look to. Heart-rending scene! who can describe it? O, my soul, thou hast wiped the sweat of death from off his cold forehead, and his eyes hast thou seen glazed in death, and those eyes were fixed upon thee! And thine arm supported his expiring form, till the spirit ascended to God who gave it. O, my soul, forget not that awful scene; forget not that awful moment. Come all ye that pass by, and see if there is any sorrow like unto my sorrow. And what gratification will it be to you, my friends, to think that you have been able to be decked in fine linen and purple, and to fare sumptuously every day, if you are not decked in the pure robes of Christ’s righteousness? And friends—what are they in that awful moment, if the eternal God is not your friend and portion? Could many of our departed friends but speak, they would say,—Fools you may live, but fools you cannot die. Do not as I have done, but improve your precious hours; take care of your immortal souls. But you have the word of God to guide you. Search the scriptures, for in them you have eternal life. You have the ministers of the gospel to counsel you, to point you to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world. Hear ye them: if you will not hearken to them, such are the hardness and obduracy of your hearts, that you would not believe, though one arose from the dead, and told you of all the joys of heaven, or the terrors of hell.20 2(4)v 20
O Lord God, when I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the sun, moon, and stars, what is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that thou shouldst visit him? Thou didst at first create man after thine image, pure and upright; but man, by his disobedience, fell from that holy and happy state, and hath involved all his posterity in guilt and ruin. Thine awful sentence was just: Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return. Help me to realize that thou art a consuming fire to those that obey thee not, and that thou art arrayed in terrible majesty. Thou chargest thine angels with folly, and the heavens are not clean in thy sight; how much more filthy and abdominable must be man, who drinketh in inquity like water? Thou canst not look upon the least sin but with abhorrence, and thou wilt by no means clear the guilty. But though thy name alone is so terrible, yet Mercy stands pleading at thy bar, saying—Father, I have died, behold my hands and my side! Spare them a little longer, and have mercy upon the souls that thou hast made. O God, help me to realize that man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble: he cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? And help me to realize that it is with great tribulation that we enter through the gates into the holy city. Once more I beseech thee to hear the cry of thy children in behalf of the unconverted. O God, this great work is thine; thou alone canst perform it. My church and pastor I recommend to thee; ’tis all that I can do; and that thou wouldst supply them with all needful blessings is the prayer of thine unworthy handmaiden.
Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity. Blessed is he that doeth the will of my Father, that he may have right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the holy city. For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man, which sowed good seed in his field; but whilst men slept, the enemy came, and sowed tares amongst the wheat. The servant saith unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence hath it tares? He saith unto him, an enemy hath done this: let both grow together until the harvest; and in time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Bind the tares in bundles, to burn them. Many who profess the name of Jesus, are not careful to walk according to their profession; and thereby prove themselves a stumbling-block and a rock of offence in the way of sinners; but when the mighty angel shall descend from heaven, and step one foot upon the earth and the other upon the sea, and swear by him that liveth for ever and ever, that time shall be no longer; when the last trumpet shall sound, Awake ye dead, and come to judgment; —when the world shall be on fire, and the elements shall pass away with a great noise, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll; when death and hell and the sea shall deliver up the dead that are in them, and all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, shall be arrayed before the awful bar of God, and the books 22 2(5)v 22 shall be opened; then, then, if we have not the pure and undefiled religion of Jesus, wo, wo, wo, will be unto us. Better for us that we had never been born; better for us that a millstone were hanged about our necks, and that we were cast into the depths of the sea.
Alas, and am I born to die? O, my soul, wilt thou ere long take thy flight to realms of endless bliss, or to the shades of darkest night, and leave this frail tenement? Will these eyes be closed, a lump of cold and lifeless clay? these lips cease to speak, and this heart cease to beat? these hands and feet become inactive, cold, and stiff, and this form of mine become food for worms, and turn to dust? Alas, alas, how mournful is the thought! but, pale messenger, I fear thee not, with all thy grim and ghastly terrors, for my Redeemer lives. He lives, and He is able to disarm thee of thy sting, and no one is able to pluck me out of my Redeemer’s hand. He will safely carry me through the dark valley and the shadow of death, and angels will convey me to heaven. Then whilst my body lies mouldering here, my soul shall rest from all her sorrows, and shall chant the praises of my Redeemer, till the last trumpet shall sound; then shall my sleeping dust awake, and my soul and body be reunited and fly with transport to meet my Saviour, when he shall come with ten thousand of his saints and angels, to take vengeance on his enemies.23 2(6)r 23 The trumpet sounds, Hell trembles, Heaven rejoices; Lift up your heads, ye saints, with cheerful voices! No more shall atheists mock his long delay, His vengeance sleeps no more, Behold the day! His guards are nigh; Tempest and fire attend him down the sky When God appears, All nations shall adore him; Whilst sinners tremble, Saints rejoice before him.
Almighty God, it is the glorious hope of a blessed immortality beyond the grave, that supports thy children through this vale of tears. Forever blessed be thy name, that thou hast implanted this hope in my bosom. If thou hast indeed plucked my soul as a brand from the burning, it is not because thou hast seen any worth in me; but it is because of thy distinguishing mercy, for mercy is thy darling attribute, and thou delightest in mercy, and art not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. Clothe my soul with humility as with a garment. Grant that I may bring forth the fruits of a meek and quiet spirit. Enable me to adorm the doctrines of God my Saviour, by a well regulated life and conversation. May I become holy, even as thou art holy, and pure, even as thou art pure. Bless all my friends and benefactors: those who have given me a cup of cold water in thy name, the Lord reward them. Forgive all my enemies. May I love them that hate me, and pray for them that despitefully use and persecute me. Preserve me from slanderous tongues, O God, and let not my good be evil spoken of. Let not a repining thought enter my heart, nor a murmuring sigh heave from my 24 2(6)v 24 bosom. But may I cheerfully bear with all the trials of life. Clothe me with the pure robes of Christ’s righteousness, that when he shall come in flaming fire to judge the world, I may appear before him with joy and not with grief; and not only for myself do I ask these blessings, but for all the sons and daughters of Adam, as thou art no respecter of persons, and as all distinctions wither in the grave. Grant that all prejudices and animosities may cease from amongst men. May we all realize that promotion cometh not from the east nor from the west, but that it is God that putteth one up and setteth down another. May the rich be rich in faith and good works towards our Lord Jesus Christ, and may the poor have an inheritance amongst the saints in light, a crown incorruptible that fadeth not away, eternal in the heavens. And now what wait we for? Be pleased to grant that we may at last join with all the Israel of God, in celebrating thy praises.
Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and, Lord, thou hast preserved me alive. While thousands as good by nature, and better by practice, have gone to silence, thine eye hath watched the helpless years of my infancy and youth, and thou hast preserved me from thousands of temptations to which I have been exposed. And let thy widows trust in me; Lord, in thee I have trusted, let me never be confounded.
Thou shalt by no means afflict any fatherless child: 25 3(1)r 25 if thou afflict them, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry. Lord, when mine enemies multiplied themselves against me, then I cried unto thee in my trouble, and thou didst deliver me from all my distresses. Thou didst behold from thy holy habitation, that I was wrongfully persecuted, and that there was none to help. Then was thine anger kindled, and thy wrath waxed hot against mine adversaries; and thine own arm saved me, and thine own right arm wrought salvation. Thou didst vindicate my cause in the presence of mine enemies, and didst bring forth my righteousness to light as the noonday.
Let all those be ashamed that wrongfully persecute my soul; that say unto me., Ha, ha, where is thy God?
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Come, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I cried unto him in my trouble, and he delivered me from all my distresses. Come, all ye that have breath, and I will tell you what great things the Lord hath done for my soul: how he hath delivered my feet from the miry clay and the horrible pit, and hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God. What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits? I will take the cup of salvation, and will pay my vows before him in the presence of all his people. I will consecrate my soul and body, and all the powers of my mind, to his service, from this time henceforth, yea, even forever more: for his mercies are more to me than the hairs of my head, or the sands upon the sea shore. Trust not in an arm of flesh; for vain is the help of man. Come, all ye poor and needy, ye widows and fatherless, trust in the Lord; he is your help and your shield; for whom he loveth, he chasteneth, even as a father the son in whom he delighteth; neither doth he willingly afflict nor grieve the 3 26 3(1)v 26 children of men. Although the fig-tree shall not blosssom, neither shall fruit be in the vine, yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
O Lord God, as the heavens are high above the earth, so are thy ways above our ways, and thy thoughts above our thoughts. For wise and holy purposes best known to thyself, thou hast seen fit to deprive me of all earthly relatives; but when my father and mother forsook me, then thou didst take me up. I desire to thank thee, that I am this day a living witness to testify that thou art a God, that will ever vindicate the cause of the poor and needy, and that thou hast always proved thyself to be a friend and father to me. O, continue thy loving kindness, even unto the end; and when health and strength begin to decay, and I, as it were, draw nigh unto the grave, O then afford me thy heart-cheering presence, and enable me to rely entirely upon thee. Never leave me nor forsake me, but have mercy upon me for thy great name’s sake. And not for myself alone do I ask these blessings, but for all the poor and needy, all widows and fatherless children, and for the stranger in distress; and may they call upon thee in such a manner as to be convinced that thou art a prayer- hearing and prayer-answering God; and thine shall be the praise forever. Amen.
Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath, The Christian’s native air, His watchword at the gate of death— He enters heaven with prayer.
And he gave them their request, but he sent leanness into their souls. O, my soul, has not the voice of thy weeping ascended up before the throne of God? Hast thou not almost offended the majesty of heaven, with thy murmurings? Hast thou not wept like the rebellious Israelites for the onions and for the garlics that were in Egypt? And hast thou not rejected the Lord, from reigning king over thee? O, my soul, are not thine affections prone to wander from the fountain of living waters, and to place themselves upon broken cisterns, that can hold no water? Parent of mercies, rivet this heart alone upon thyself. Help me truly to say,—Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon the earth that I desire beside thee. O, my soul, cast off from thee every darling sin, however dear, even to the plucking out of a right eye, or the cutting off a right hand. Soon this mortal will put on immortality, and this corruption incorruption, and these eyes will open upon eternal scenes; then, O my soul, what gratification will it be to thee, that all the desires of thine heart were given thee? As death leaves me, so judgment will find me. O, my soul, vain and trifling will then appear thy disappointments. Cleanse thou me, O God, from secret faults. O, my Father, strip this poor unworthy worm of thine from every impure and unholy desire; from all self-righteousness, pride and hypocrisy; from slander and deceit. Hast thou not a blessing for me? Bless me, even me, O my Father! Bless me when I go out, and when I come in; when I lie down, and when I rise up. Put underneath me thine everlasting28 3(2)v 28 ing arms, and keep me from evil. Sooner extinguish the lamp of life, than leave me to bring a reproach upon thy cause, or wound the hearts of thy children. Hold me in the hollow of thine hand, or I shall fall. Lord, save me, or I perish. Mind filled with gloomy doubts and fears; feel at times as though I should fear to die. Death is truly the king of terrors. O, my Saviour, take from me this awful fear, I humbly beseech thee! and when I come upon the bed of death, do thou be graciously pleased to manifest thyself unto me, and enable me to lean my head upon thy bosom. Let guardian angels watch around my pillow; and when I behold my weeping friends, may I say to them with a cheerful smile,—Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. And when pain and anguish shall distort these features, may I calmly say,—Did Jesus thus suffer, and shall I repine? O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory? May this poor unworthy worm of thine be clothed with the breast-plate of righteousness; and girded with the helmet of salvation. May the testimony of Jesus be within her, his seal engraved upon her forehead, and her name written in the Lamb’s book of life. May she overcome the temptations of the wicked one, and wash her robes white in the blood of the Lamb; and do thou present her faultless before thy Father’s throne, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; and when thou shalt call me to go, may I arise, having my lamps trimmed and burning, not having a wish or a desire to stay, but to depart and dwell with thee, which is far better. Blessed is that servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching.