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CL. TO THE REV. JOSIAH HILL.
[On the death of Mrs. Hill.]
Stapleton, December 26, 1828. What shall I-can I-say to my dear old friend, on whom the hand of God has been so heavily and mysteriously laid ? This has been the question with me from day to day, while each returning morning I have been resolving not to let the day pass without an attempt to speak to him in terms of commiseration; and still a constant feeling of utter impotence has frustrated my resolution. To Him alone who has afflicted, it belongs to impart the merciful influence to sustain you under the overwhelming calamity. And I pray him to enable you to yield yourself up to him
. in resignation, and repose on him for support. May all that you so firmly believe, and have so often cogently taught, of the consoling efficacy of faith in the divine goodness, be realized to you now in your season of deepest distress! It is all true-you know in whom you have believed—and that he is all-sufficient to console his servants, in the most painful and melancholy scenes in which his sovereign dispensations may place them. He does not bring them under oppressive trials to desert them there, and leave them to their own feeble strength. He will not leave you;
he can sustain you—and I trust he will give you power to lay hold on him for strength.
From your letter previous to the last, I could not help admitting some dark and painful forebodings; insomuch that the external signs on your last, gave me a strong intimation of what it was to tell me. Yet I had, till receiving, it, indulged some little hope that our dear friend might be recalled from the fatal brink, to remain a companion and a blessing to her family. But the sovereign authority, the voice which angels and saints obey, still called onwards. She was appointed for other society. She has now entered into it,-in a scene whence all her warm affection for those she has left behind (an affection, we may well believe, inextinguishable by death) would not move in her happy spirit a wish to return. In that society no doubt she has joined, for one dear and happy associate, her admirable son
who had gone before, as if on purpose to congratulate her on her arrival. If you could know the heavenly rapture of those mutual felicitations ! “ Too happy,” you would say, “ too happy there for me to wish those beloved beings were, even for my sake, again in a world like this. Rather let nie patiently go on my journey, deprived of their loved companionship, till I shall obtain it again—where I can never lose it more.” How soon the few fleeting years of our remaining life will be gone! Oh that they may, through the discipline of the Divine Spirit, be a process to prepare us to mingle in the felicities of our departed, sainted friends, and gratefully exulting in the presence of Him who has exalted them from this sinful world to his own blessed abodes! I have lived for several years in the apprehension of being visited by such a dispensation as that under which you are suffering, * and there has been a degree of consolation in the thought, that I am too far advanced in life for the deprivation, if it should be inflicted, to be a loss of very long duration
By this time, what was mortal of our dear friend has been consigned to its resting-place in darkness and silence; and I can pensively sympathize in the profound musings in which your spirit is drawn to follow the immortal part. Oh, what is the transition ? Whither is that immortal essence gone? In what higher manner does it live, and know, and exert its faculties no longer involved in the dark tabernacle of dying flesh ? Our departed friend does not come to reveal it to us. But enough to know that it is a deliverance from all pains, and weakness, and fears,a deliverance from sin, that most dreadful thing in the universe. And it is to be past death—to have accomplished that one amazing act which we have yet undone before us, and are to do. It is to know what that awful and mysterious thing is, and that its pains and terrors are gone past for ever. “I have died,” our beloved friend
* “ It would be an irrational presumption to reckon on it, that we and our two inestimable female associates, shall all be found on this earth at the end of the six years next to come. Within that period past there has gone away, from each of our little families, one individual that was with us, but whom we shall see no more till after we also shall have passed the dark frontier.”—Mr. Foster to the Rev. Josiah Hill, September 13, 1828.
says now, with exultation, “and I live to die no more! I have conquered through the blood of the Lamb.”
CLI. TO THE REV. JOSIAH HILL.
January, 1829. Wherever you fix or remove, it is affecting to consider what a changed condition Divine Providence has appointed to accompany you. In every former movement and station, during a very long lapse of time, you have been accompanied by one of the best, and dearest, and most affectionate friends that any mortal was ever favoured to possess. Whatever else you found untoward, whoever else might be unamiable or ungracious, she was ever good and kind. It is now appointed to you that no longer herself, but her memory, is to accompany you-à memory ever dear and cherished, present every day and hour, presenting her image as still smiling tenderly upon you, but, therefore, still telling you what you have lost. But yet this will not be all that the beloved vision will tell you. It will represent to you that she herself still lives; that she has ceased to live with you, only because her Heavenly Father required her presence in a higher abode; that she waits for you there, admonishing you to be, meanwhile, patient and zealous in accomplishing your appointed term of duty and trial, as she has accomplished hers; and that every day and hour of this your faithful progress, brings you nearer to a happy and eternal re-union. While you can no longer live for her, may you the more live to that supreme and eternal Friend to whom and with whom she now lives, more happily and nobly than the highest attainment of any of his servants while yet sojourning on earth. You will often fall into profound and earnestly inquisitive musings on the state of being into which she has made the mysterious transition. What is it to have passed through death, and to be now looking upon it as an event behindan event from which she is every moment further removing; when so lately, when but a few days since, she was every moment, as all mortals are, approaching nearer and nearer to it? What must be the thoughts, the emotions, on closely comparing these two states, under the amazing impression of actual experience ? How many dark and most interesting and solemn questions (as they are to us—as they recently were to her) are now, to her, questions no longer! And would her happy spirit wish it possible and permitted, to convey to you and her children some part of the knowledge which has thus, since she left you, come upon her like the rising sun ? No; she sees it is not proper; that it would not be for the welfare of those she has left behind and still loves : but delights to anticipate that the time will come for them to attain this glorious and marvellous light, like her, and with her. And if it may be presumed that while assuredly nothing that is taking place on earth can cause her pain, it may consist with the economy of that state, that she shall derive pleasure from what is in progress in the scene she has left, nothing-except the general triumph of her Redeemer's cause—nothing will administer more joy than her husband's and her children's advancing on the way
* “I have often imagined to myself how you would feel (and indeed, how I myself should feel) at the cottage, and each spot in the vicinity, of that favourite Little Haven,—where has so often been seen, -and where would be seen no more,—that countenance so kind, so benignant; where at moments there would be almost the expectation of heariny--but there would not be heard—that voice, expressive of every gentle and amiable sentiment, uttering some affectionate wish, or some considerate suggestion, for the pleasure or advantage of each friend in the little company; with a generous disinterestedness, a forward readiness to sacrifice her own convenience, which has always struck me as pre-eminently conspicuous in the character of her who is now gone to a congenial region and society,-a region and society where her gentle and generous spirit is emphatically at home. That she is here no more,' will be the affecting and painful thought in every place you can visit where she has been your loved associate ; but then, let faith take up the words, and tell where she is,and where she will affectionately wait to receive those she has left behind." -Mr. Foster to the Rev. Josiah Hill, March 25, 1829.
to heaven. To them, her children, I trust this affecting event will be made a powerful confirmation and enforcement of all their best convictions and resolutions. It is thus only that such an irreparable loss can be compensated to them; so that their loss shall be not only her gain, but theirs also.
When you shall have recovered composure enough to resume public labours, the activity and frequent exercise, with its varieties of place, will be beneficial to you. At present it may often seem to you that you can never again have spirit and vigour of mind enough for such activity. But, though pensive and desolate feelings will often invade you, I trust that the compelled exertions of your office will contribute to break the continuity of your sorrow,
and aid the softening effect of time; while religion, above all, will impart the consolations which you will often have to assure your hearers that the afflicted must seek and will find, in that best resource. You will have to assure them and may you have the happy experience of it—that the divine mercy and
support are all-sufficient.
CLII. TO JOHN EASTHOPE, ESQ.
February 24, 1829. At this one turn, I have the greatest delight in adverting to the political business in your St. Stephen's chapel. The dictators there have for once been dictated to. They pretend indeed to kick at the imputation of fear, of acting under dire compulsion, and all that; but the Catholic Association knows better. But never mind either motives or pretences, so the good thing be done. How baffled are all our calculations! We deplored Canning's extinction; whereas Canning declared he would not help the late claims of the Dissenters : and it seems doubtful whether he could in a Whig ministry, even making the Catholic business “a cabinet measure,', as they call it, whether he actually could have carried this most important point. And now, here is a driving, dashing fellow of the sword, from whom we expected nothing for Ireland but a Brunswick manifesto and a host of bayonets-and the thing is done at a stroke.
a Here too is Peel, as staunch as any rock or stock against the whole affair--and a complete Tory ministry, adverse to political liberty in all shapes and places—here we have them doing the very thing which all the bigots and antireformists were exulting to have them in power again from the confidence that they would be sure never to do.
Still I am somewhat' in fear till I see the business over,