« ZurückWeiter »
time, long after, she sat musing, with a tear in her eye. The hymns and tunes which Eliza had taught her, it made her weep to hear them sung. She asked for the book of poetry which Eliza bought to teach her from ; and the little dresses for her doll which Eliza had made, she folded up. She kept them both in a little drawer, as tokens of her sister's love.
Nelly never went to school, she learned to read at home. In the winter after dear Eliza died, Mrs. Vanner and a friend who was visiting her, used to read the “ Pilgrim's Progress,' aloud of an evening ; so that all the family might hear. Nelly sat upon her little stool, by the side of her mamma, and listened very eagerly. When a little story was read, or any place described, she used to try to make a picture of it in her mind. This is a very good plan. It made her enjoy it very much, and helped her to remember well.
It was about this time that all were talking together one evening, and Nelly they thought was playing about the room. Presently her mother said, “ Where is Nelly?” They all looked around. Then her cousin Charlotte saw where she was. Nelly was under the table, where she thought no eye could see-kneeling down to pray to God. Her cousin did not tell. I suppose the dear girl had thought of something while she was playing, that she wished to pray to Jesus about ; so she knelt down to pray. I do not know what she prayed about. Perhaps it was that God would take her to heaven, to be with her dear sister, who was gone there; or perhaps she had done something wrong, and prayed to have her sins forgiven through Jesus's blood. Her mother thinks that it was for her dear sister Anne she prayed - her eldest sister who was then ill.
Nelly loved the Bible. One day she asked her cousin which were her favourite chapters. Her cousin wished to know which Nelly liked best. Nelly showed her these two, John vi, and Isaiah lv. The first is that one in which Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." The other begins, “ Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat. Yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price."
When she was well enough to go to the house of God, it cannot be told how glad she was. Could you have watched her at chapel, you would have wondered to see how sweetly she joined in the hymn,-how still and thoughtful she was at the times of reading and prayer, -and how fixed her attention when the sermon began. She did not look about. She did not sleep in the house of God. But you might have seen her coun. tenance changing Sometimes it was bright with joy ;-sometimes the
tears filled her eyes; sometimes she looked down, as though there was something she did not understand, or else some choice thought which she was treasuring in her memory. When she came home, she used to help her dear mamma to remember the sermon, and to write down the “ heads" of it. How much happier she must have been at chapel than children who behave badly there?
In March, 1835, when she was in her seventh year, she was taken very ill, and for about two weeks she lay almost insensible, though she recovered eventually.
About six months after, her sister Anne was married to Dr. Waller, and went to live in London, Anne was her eldest sister : she had been to her like a mother, and since Eliza's death, the little girl had clung to her. Anne had taught her many scripture stories, and spoke to her about her soul; so that she felt the loss of her sister very much. But she used to write little letters to her out of her own head, and slip them into some parcel that was going to London. The following may serve as a specimen :“My dear Anne,
“ April 14, 1836. “I think you will be surprised to hear that I think more of religion than I used to do. I should like to know whether you ever noticed the 5th chap. Matthew, and 10th chap. John, and the 55th chap. of Isaiah, and the 40th chap. 11th verse, and the 42nd Psalm, and the 14th chap. John. Miss Children came to tea Friday afternoon. I never thought so much of religion till the 3rd of April. I hope I shall go to chapel on Sunday,
“I remain your affectionate sister,
ELLEN VANNER." There came, one day, a messenger in haste. He said that Mrs. Waller was dying. So Nelly was put into a carriage with her mother, and all the family who were at home, It was night, and they travelled very fast, because they wished to see dear Anne once before she died. Oh! what a mournful journey was that! Sometimes they wept, and sometimes they dried their tears. They reached London just in time for the mother to look upon her dying daughter ; but William, and Fanny, and Nelly saw their dear sister no more alive. They saw her when she was dead. There lay her pale, cold corpse, but her spirit was in heaven. When Nelly stood beside that dead body, I dare say it seemed that Anne was gone very far away," so great is the distance between life and death.”
Other trials awaited Ellen : her dear sister Mary was taken very ill. There was no hope that she would be well again. Eliza was gone, and
Anne had followed. There were also two others, of whom I have not told you before, a little brother and a little sister. They died in infancy, Now, Mary was going to “the distant land." Nelly was often thinke ing of them. One morning her mamma found her looking very thought, ful. The tears came into her eyes. She did not tell her mamma then, but she told her afterwards that she had been musing about death. “I was thinking, mamma,” she said, “ that there were nearly five of us in heaven."
Mary was able to sit up in the parlour, and sometimes to walk about. The day she died, she did so; and many kind things had she done, and many kind words nad she spoken to all. She had wished them "good night.” They expected to see her again in the morning; but in the middle of the night they were awoke by the faithful servant who had nursed her. She said that Mary was struggling with death. Nelly rose in her little bed, and in a great agony clung to her mother, saying, in tones of despair, “Is my-dear-sister Mary--dying ?” She was not prepared for so sudden a loss. Strong feeling overcame her, But soon she learned to be resigned to the will of her heavenly Father. Sudden death had taken Mary away, exclaiming, “ Come, Lord Jesus, come !” Nelly was soon to follow to where that Holy Saviour dwells. The affectionate child never regained her former cheerfulness.
Immediately after Mary's death. Nelly went to live at Southsea, close to Portsmouth, with her papa and mamma, and brother and sisterfor they alone were left. She continued very delicate for nearly a year, although her health did not decline.
Have you ever sown a seed in the ground? There springs up presently a little plant, and soon there will be a beautiful bud. You go in the morning, and you see the bud hanging down, because the dew is upon it. But at mid-day, when you look again, you find that the little bud has lifted up its head, and spread itself out-a beautiful flower, in the face of the sun and sky. You cannot tell when first the bud began to burst, nor can I tell when first Nelly began to love Jesus. But I can tell what made her love him : it was, first, learning about him from her mother and sisters, and reading of him in the word of God; and then it was the Holy Spirit coming and moving her heart to love the Saviour she had heard about. To raise your little flower, you know, you first sowed the seed in the ground. That was like the knowledge of Jesus Christ which was sown iu Nelly's mind. Afterwards the gentle dew clung to your little plant, and the sunbeams smiled sweetly upon it : so they made the plant spring up, and moved the bud to raise itself and open its eye to look at the sun. That was like the Holy Spirit moving dear Nelly's heart to look at Jesus and to love him.
Seek diligently, dear children, the knowledge of Christ, and pray for the Holy Spirit to teach your hearts to love him,
In January of the following year she became ill, and could only sit up a short time in the day. That sad disease began of which she died. Her anxious parents removed her in April to Hampstead. But she was only once able to walk in the fresh air upon the open heath. A physician was consulted. He said that she must be taken to the Isle of Wight, that nothing but the soft air and sunny climate of Ventnor was likely to revive the fading child.
Thither they all went in July. When she had been there about three weeks she began to recover. This gave joy to all the family, and hope sprung up in their minds. Soon she was able to walk out in the sweet fields, and feel the balmy air, and rejoice in the beautiful views of woods, and hills, and rocks, and of the noble sea. They would all go out together.
While she was rambling on the beach, picking up shells and pebbles, one day in the end of September, the wind changed to the east; and that was enough to give her cold. After that day she was not able to take exercise in the open air. On the fifteenth of November, she was seized with a violent disease, and from that day she became weaker and weaker.
As Nelly became weaker, she seemed to be more lovely. Her parents looked upon their darling child with anxious hearts. One morning in February, while her mother was dressing her, they were talking together. It was about the lesson which Nelly had chosen that week for the Bible class. “The ground of the believer's hope” was the subject. I have seen the little book in which Nelly wrote with her own hand the Scripture references. “ This is an important question, my dear,” said her mother,"we ought to think of it for ourselves. Suppose it were put to either of us, what would be our answer?” Nelly burst into tears, and said, " Dear mamma, I have no hope but in the merits of Jesus Christ.” Blessed be God who gave her such a hope.
On February the twenty-third, it was Saturday evening, she lay on the sofa so ill, that she could not even be carried up stairs. It was not till nearly one o'clock that her father could carry her to bed. Next day, all thought she was dying. Her father read to her, in the morning, from a little book, by John Bunyan, called “Come, and Welcome.” In the afternoon, he held a delightful conversation with her. He asked her how long she had been concerned about religion. She replied, “Since the death of her sister Anne.” He asked her if she could refer to any thing particular that first impressed her mind. She replied, “ It was on reading the first chapter of Pike's 'Persuasives to Early Piety.'” He asked her the ground of her hope. She said, " If you will give me the little book you were reading to me this morning, I will tell you.” · The part of the little book to which she referred, and which her mother keeps as a treasure, was this :-“ But I am a great sinner," sayest thou; “I will in no wise cast out," says Christ. “But I am an old sinner,” sayest thou; “I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ. “ But I am a hard-hearted sinner,” sayest thou; "I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ. “But I have served Satan all my days," sayest thou; I will in no wise cast out," says Christ. “But I have sinned against light," sayest thou ; “I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ. “But I have sinned against mercy,” sayest thou; “I will in no wise cast out,' says Christ. “But I have no good thing to bring with me,” sayest thou ; “I will in no wise cast out,” says Christ. Thus I might go on to the end, and show thee, that this promise was provided to answer all thy objections, and ease all thy fears.”
She pointed her father to this part, and said, “ This is the ground of my hope." Previous to this time she appeared very thoughtful, but since then her countenance had been very composed and calm. He asked her if she had felt more happy than yesterday. She replied, “Oh! yes, papa.” He said, Why? Her reply was, “ Because I have no doubts or fears to-day, and I had many yesterday.” · In the same delightful conversation she said, that she had been the child of affliction from her birth. She conversed, as she often did afterwards, upon the joys of heaven; and spoke sweetly about the death of each of her sisters,-how happily they died, and what testimony they left behind them.
After April the second, she did not leave her bed. Often she was very wakeful at nights, and, when she could not sleep, she would repeat to herself the little hymns and verses she had learnt. The fourteenth and fifteenth chapters of John she had committed to memory a few weeks before. Once when her father and mother awoke in the middle of the night, they heard the voice of their little child softly repeating in a sweet low tone, “ Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also,” &c.
Every morning, at her request, the Bible and hymn-book were put into her trembling hands, that she might read. Her mamma was always by her side. Day and night she watched. Often she read to her, and they held many sweet conversations together.
On Sunday the seventh of April, having been much worse during the