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support his wife and children, whom he so tenderly loved. But, as one says in a certain place, it sometimes happens to a righteous person, according to the desert of the wicked, so it happened to Fidelia, for it pleased the Lord, a few years since, to take her husband away from her at a very short notice, to possess the heavenly diadem to which he was appointed. Her servent and faithful friend, her diligent provider, being gone, she found herself in a melancholy situation, left in an inhospitable world, with three tender and beloved infants, one of whom was but just weaned from the breast. But her God, her faithful God, was the object of her trust. She sensibly felt the stroke, and was humbled under the afflicting dispensation; but never, never was the grieved Fidelia heard to alledge, that the almighty Disposer dealt hardly with her; never was she known, in a way of murmuring and impatience, to say unto God, "What dost thou ?"
On the other hand, she was careful to know, whether she had not purchased the affliction to herself, by an over-esteem for and too much dependance on her husband; thereby with-holding a part of her heart from, and infringing her duty of full dependance on God. In the times of her deepest distress she was wont thus to reason: I know, yea, I am fully persuaded, that the Lord afflicteth not willingly: there must be necessity for it, ere he is pleased to apply the rod. Instead of mourning as one without hope, her principal care was, that the dispensation might be sanctified to her advantage and growth in grace, that she might live more upon, and rest more fully in the Saviour, who died for her. Fidelia was a woman who knew well how to plead a promise in the time of need; she was always but weak in body, but a powerful wrestler at the throne of grace; she was shy in courting, and modest in receiving favours from man; but at the throne of God she was importunate, and would not take a denial. Her circumstances being very low after the death of her husband, she was brought to the necessity of living
by faith in a promising God, even for her's and he children's daily sustenance, which I assure you is far from being the easiest part of the exercise of faith.
Distressed Fidelia used to comfort herself in reflecting upon the regard which Jehovah has expressed towards the poor and needy, and especially his declaring himself" to be a husband to the widow, a father to the fatherless, and a stay to the helpless orphan; and thus she was wont to reflect within herself:" The glorious God, who hath seen it meet to take away my husband, hath graciously promised to be a husband to me himself, and if he will be my husband, as he hath said, he will surely act the part of the best of husbands. The husband's part is to direct, defend, and provide for his spouse; and all this the Lord hath promised he will do for the widow who trusts in him. This is agreeable to the tenor of the promises in general, and, in particular, to that salutary word on which he has caused me to hope, where he hath declared himself a sun and a shield to his people. Here is light to lead and direct, here is heat to influence and quicken me in all my languor, and here is a shield for safety, a shield of protection from all enemies, outward and inward; he addeth, I will give grace to support under, and to sanctify afflictions; and, when the work is finished, he says, I will give glory. This life is indeed a life of infinite wants, but here is provision made for them all; for it is added, "I will withhold no good thing." This is an ample provision made for all my necessities.Great as they are, the grace of the promise is infinitely greater. Here is consolatory supply for the most desolate widow. I will therefore trust in the Lord and not be afraid; and, so trusting, I shall never be confounded, nor shall my hope be put to shame. This is the ground of all my confidence ; he encourages the boldness of the weak, the poor, and needy; but abhors the timidity of the unbelieving. None are ever condemned for trusting in the Lord with a holy boldness, in proportion to their
necessities; my necessities are great, therefore, O Lord, may my trust in Thee be strong.
It was thus she communed with her own heart, in profitable reflections upon the promises of God. She was likewise accustomed early to tell her children, that now they had no natural father, to provide for and dispose of them, but that God had declared himself" the Father of the fatherless," and she hoped that He would be a father to them. Earnestly did she recommend them to the grace and protection of the Divine Shepherd, who bears the lambs on his arm, and nourisheth them in his bosom. She prayed, and she hoped that God would be the guardian of their infant years, train them up in his own fear, nurture, and admonition, provide for them things necessary, and dispose of them to the glory both of his providence and grace. Thus her daily prayers were unto the Lord, and to him were all her cares committed; nothing doubting, but in the unbounded beneficence of his nature, he would take special care both of her and her's.
She lived in a constant reliance on the providence and promises of God, and was never disappointed, notwithstanding her faith was frequently tried as with fire; and now she is dying, could I paint to you the holy joys of her elevated soul, if you were possessed of all the wealth of the Indies, Novitio, you would willingly part with it, if it were possible that you could exchange your condition for such as her's. -An explicit narration of Fidelia's experience, would be of more use to the church of Christ, than the voluminous, elaborate works of many learned doctors, who have not had the same experience; for there hath been more religion in one week of her life, than in thirty years preaching of some who are called masters in Israel. And now, Novitio, that you may know that God is not ashamed of the meanest of his saints, I have a mind, once more, to give you a view of the immaterial world; thereby you will see, that the angels of God do not despise her because of her poverty.
This said, he again, in his usual manner, so strength ened my visual ray, that instantly I saw the place was filled with the heavenly hosts, who unweariedly ministered to the dying woman; and she, notwithstanding in the embraces of Death, was so transported with holy joy, that she forgot the pains of dying. So fervently glowed the seraphic flame in her heart, and in such profusion the joys of approaching eternity were poured into her soul, that all sensation of pain seemed to be gone. By this time the lamp of nature only: glimmered in the socket, she lay supinely stretched on her bed, longing and waiting for the dissolving moment, and so long as her voice continued articulate, she dispensed instructions to her friends, adoring the riches of electing, redeeming, and regenerating love. At last, perceiving that nature's sparks were almost extinguished, with eyes, sublimely elevated, and holy triumph smiling in her countenance, with a voice which could scarcely be heard, she said, "Come, Father, come; Thou knowest I am waiting thy command."-These were her last words, and in a few moments after she quietly departed, and her glorified soul joined in fellowship with the ministers of heaven, formerly her invisible attendants. Now, swift as though they carried her to the blissful regions of eternal day; where she was received with joyful accla mations by all the hosts of the heaven of heavens; and the ever-adorable Redeemer pronounced her blessed, saying, "Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord; thou hast been faithful over a few things, therefore thou shalt be a ruler over many.'" On which I thought a crown of righteousness was put upon her head by the pierced hand of the Redeemer; a palm of triumph given to her, and orders issued to put her in possession of one of the mansions near the jasper throne; where she strove to out do Magdalen in praise, and to exalt her voice even above that of Mary, the mother of our Lord. Here was emulation without anger, the most earnest contention without any tincture of pride. Who should be least in their own esteem; who should
most glorify and exalt sovereignly free and distinguishing grace, were the springs of all their heavenly debates. Here Manasseh vied with the sweet singer of Israel, the man after God's own heart; the crucified Thief, withEnoch and Abraham; Ruth the Moabitess, with Deborah, the mother of Israel; Jairus the Jailor, contended with Paul the apostle; and babes from the womb claimed right to sing louder than Solomon the wisest of men. Here parents strove to surpass their children, and children to exceed the praises of their parents; masters their former servants, and servants their masters; ministers their people, and people their ministers; and every one urged his claim by rational and consistent arguments. As I was listening to the sweet contention, and gazing on the unutterable glories of the heavenly world, my beloved sleep departed, the unwelcome morning rushed in upon me, and bereaved me of the precious delights I had enjoyed in the night. So I awoke to disappointment and sorrow, finding myself still in the tents of Keder, possessed as heretofore of that unclean nature whence every evil to me proceeds, and still to go burdened and groaning because of a body of Death, whilst in this tabernacle. Yea, after all, perhaps to be tired of this world, and yet afraid to venture into another.