« ZurückWeiter »
come!' From that age upwards he ever paid the most earnest attention in the house of God; and so wrapt would he be in the subject, either read or preached, as he grew older, that, forgetting that silence was imposed, he would break out in some remark or inquiry of the meaning. In order to prevent this we entered into a little agreement, which was, that when he wished to have anything explained, he should press my hand that I might particularly observe, and remember the subject of inquiry. We were residing in the suburbs of a large town, and were consequently sometimes rather late. On these occasions, on arriving at the chapel, we had used to creep up stairs, and, spreading our handkerchiefs, sit down quite out of sight. These were seasons of much enjoyment to Bertie; as I could in a whisper translate almost the whole service into a language more intelligible to his age.
“ When he was five years old he was left much to the care of servants. This was on my part unavoidable, though a subject of deep regret to me. He became impatient of their control, and they, not treating him judiciously, but irritating instead of curbing, vexing instead of subduing, he has sometimes been aggravated into passion. This was a subject of deep regret to him: his tender conscience would not let him sleep until this sin had been confessed before God and to me. On one of these occasions he was confined to his own room, as a punishment. A servant who was very kind to him happening to be in the next room, she overheard him saying these words, amidst sobs and tears, Make me a good child, let them say to grandpa when he comes home, ‘Bertie's the best child. Take my poor mamma's sorrows away. Take this bad heart away, and give me a new one, that I may obey my mamma. May — never sin again ; forgive him;' and then the words were lost amidst deep emotion.
" It was about this time, that one night, after retiring to rest, he was crying in deep distress in his cot bed, and though very late, and now nearly dark, he could not sleep – he was heard crying, but, on some one inquiring the cause, he begged to see me. I went to him immediately, when he burst out afresh in an agony of grief, throwing himself on his face across the bed, sobbing out, 'O mamma, what shall I do? My sins ! my sins !”
“ I told him that Jesus came to save the lost, and enlarging upon the subject of His love, soon quieted his fears.
“One revening, when about five and a half years old, being particularly engaged, he and his brother were put to bed without me, and prayers had not been heard. I was soon after desired to listen to the conversation between them, I lost much, but was in time to hear the following dialogue: "You hav’nt said your prayers, Ernie; will you now?'
• “ Ernest.-'I can't without mamma.'
“ Bertie.- I'll tell you' (the other following):
· Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look on me, a little child;
He then proceeded to pray in his own simple words. After this, I often heard him, in the stillness of his attic chamber, when he thought that no ear but His to whom he addressed himself could hear; and found that meditation and prayer were precious and habitual exercises to him. I rather think that he discovered that his voice could be heard from the other rooms, for I did not hear him from this time at all. Alarmed at what I feared might be declension, I took an opportunity of inquiring of him if he prayed in private? His head drooped, and he appeared in difficulty. This deepened my suspicion, and I urged my inquiry with greater earnestness, on which he replied, with much gentleness, “ Mamma, we should pray in secret.” Faithless and unbelieving as I was, I still said, “But do you?' He was evidently pained, and said, “Of course I do!' thus embodying, in other words, Montgomery's beautiful stanzas
• Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
Bertie had a great thirst for knowledge, but had to acquire all that he obtained almost wholly by observation and conyersation, as I was particularly recommended by our medical adviser not to let him continue scholastic training until his health was fully established. He was, therefore, only taught to spell monosyllables; but being very anxious to read the Word of God, so determined was he to acquire its contents, that in an incredibly short period he taught himself to read fluently. And now his intimate acquaintance with his Bible was increasing each day. It was manna to his soul, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and manna which it was his delight to gather up. His Bible is full of marked passages and used pages. If a Bible was inquired for, it was almost proverbial amongst us— It lies where Bertie was last. He would often recommend to his brother an earnest attention to its contents, reading and repeating hymns and verses in its praise, as
Here would I learn how Christ has died
To save my soul from hell;
Such heavenly wonders tell!'
“ His love for truth was painfully tested on one occasion. He was running round the garden in some childish game, when, being nearly caught, he uttered an exclamation which sounded much like a profane use of the name of God. He was accused to me, but repelled the charge with firmness. The accusation was persisted in by three or four children. I took him aside, and told him that so many persons could not be all mistaken ; he insisted upon his innocence. I thought he was adding sin to sin, and was deeply distressed. I prepared to whip him, and again I urged him to confess; but he persisted still in denying it. I commenced the punishment, and then for a moment desisted to give him the opportunity of confession. I shall never forget his behaviour as he knelt down unresistingly to receive the correction, and said, Mamma, you may flog me, but I dare not tell a lie ;' then looking upwards, he said — O Lord, thou knowest that I did not swear!' I could no longer doubt him, but folded him, naked and trembling, in my arms.
" When scarcely seven years old Bertie was a delightful companion, -a child who was an example of what nature and grace could accomplish: intelligent and thoughtful, gentle and affectionate, obedient and amiable, exceedingly sensitive, and consequently very careful not to wound the feelings of another-and yet he was a child-an unaffected, untrained child of nature-racing at the top of his speed to be first at the wood, but, recollecting those behind, running back for dear mamma ;' then scampering away, like a Shetland pony, with his little sister in her“ bauble coach, to the wild strawberry banks, along the skirts of the wood. Bank and brae, forest and field, yielded their treasures of grasses and mosses, flowers and fruit-it was their last offering to him.
“Bertie's beloved grandpapa had furnished us with a number of woodcut illustrations of Scripture histories; in the use of which I found a most felicitous method of imparting Bible lore to infant minds — a very treasury of knowledge. We pinned our pictures within the head of the little bed where Bertie and his brother slept ; 60 that on awaking in the morning they supplied a choice of sacred subjects for thought or conversation; and on going to bed at night they also suggested topics on which there were a score of questions for reply, within as many minutes, accompanied by earnest solicitations to remain in the room and talk about them.
“ Bertie had learned the law of kindness' from The Master, and carried out the precepts as a little child. Thus, during the summer, his pocket money was reserved to redeem the lives of captured birds and butterflies, while he reasoned with their cruel captors. Often
when he has wished for fruit or other childish dainties and toys he reserved the money, denying himself in order to enjoy the higher gratification of bestowing it upon some hungry child or destitute and afflicted person. He had considerable strength of body, and when attacked by rude boys, and unable to reason with, or avoid them, he would secure their hands and hold them down until they begged for pardon, or promised to let him alone, but never hurting them. When his brother, who is full of health and spirits has behaved ill to him, and I have proceeded to correct him, Bertie would earnestly intercede for him ; and when this has failed, nobly offer, even entreat me to punish him instead of the offender; so that the younger one thus won by the law of love, has rushed into his arms, and hung upon his neck, begging the repeated assurance of his forgiveness, being unable to forgive himself. Bertie sympathised deeply with any one in pain, he was the first to hear a cough, and would come to me when sleeping in another room to give me notice of it.
“ On one occasion a dear aunt offered to purchase for him whatever he most wished for. This was a tempting offer; he looked at me-I understood him; he had just previously frequently expressed a wish for a copy of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. I knew that he would hesitate to name it, so I announced his choice, which instantly relieved him. Oh how anxiously his Pilgrim friend was looked for! At length he really held it in his hands. And now the Bible and the Pilgrim were almost always before him. All the references were carefully sought out; at first he was unacquainted with the Roman figures, but finding it difficult to obtain my assistance as often as he required it, he got a few minutes' explanation from me, and then retired; in about an hour he returned for me to test bis perfect acquaintance with the figures, and to prove to me the ease with which he could now find the references.
“I remember on one occasion that he was talking very seriously to his brother, and said, “Now, whenever you are tempted to sin, remember that God sees you, in the dark as well as in the light, and remember what it cost him to put sin away. You would not love the cruel nails that pierced Jesus' hands and feet, would you? I am sure you would not. Well, it was for our sins those hands and feet were pierced-so, our sins are the nails. And besides, when you are going to sin, there's a voice within you which says, “ Don't sin!” That's the voice of God-hear him!'
“ He was one day lying on the sofa, when, after a time he said, • Mamma, this pillow is hard ;' then, after a moment's pause, he continued, · But dear Jesus had no pillow! and Jacob only a stone
De with many?
Stai one." I do not remember his ever complaining again of the hard decis pillow.
Die “Being now very weak and unable to walk we hired a donkey for p him, which was not inclined to go faster than it could possibly help, Touch of indeed to move at all, so we proceeded to use the whip ; but were I was immediately checked by Bertie. Patting it gently, and speaking
- kindly to it, the animal mended its pace a little. “There,' said he, 033 'poor thing, it isn't used to kindness, and it doesn't know how to be
glad enough for a kind word-never beat them.' "The patient ass,
with many a load' -and he repeated a verse hich I have forgotten;
He hates the hardness of a Balaam's heart;
On which he rode.
We wo as the coast, as o
the coast, as our last resource; forlorn, although the hope we cherished
Was. And yet, Bertie had ever been in such excellent health when Dis near the sea, that we hung tenaciously to the possibility of recovery.
It was several weeks before a suitable place could be found and prepared. As soon as the dear child learned that a pretty cottage resience, promising fairly to be the abode of health and peace, awaited
1, the most intense desires were expressed to get there. 'How happy we shall be in our sweet little home! our own home, mamma!
we'll have schools for the children who do not know about Jesus.
len I get there I shall run on that shore and be well again. Oh, take me now, and bathe me in those waters!"
It was the middle of April when we arrived at our new residence. Was bright and promising; the winter was past'-'the flowers peared on the earth, and the time of the singing of birds was come.' en we were once more in the fields, he let go my hand, and was
as the busiest gathering handfuls of wild flowers. We reached shore; health seemed inhaled with every inspiration of that pure, cing air. The tide was curling in white crested waves, borne on, asured and marshalled order, till reaching the sandy barrier ;
If forgetting their assumed dignity, they dashed them
ud of silvery spray, and hurriedly gathering up the ns, rolled back to swell the imposing majesty of the ancing billows. Even dear Bertie's enervated frame
invigorating influences; and again, hope, which "sup spontaneously within my breast.”
selves into a cloud of silvery spray,