« AnteriorContinuar »
MEMOIR OF CHARLOTTE SOPHIA STEIGEN BERGER,
OF SAFFRON-WALDEN :
(Continued from page 172.) The year 1823 found Miss Berger in conditions which proved very helpful to her faith. The rest of the family being at Saffron-Walden, it devolved upon her to conduct the Watchnight Service at Leytonstone. As, however, she was suffering from a violent shock to the nervous system, this undertaking seemed intolerably onerous, sending her in agony to seek for solace and strength from God, Who graciously answered her faith by applying to her mind words prophetic not only of the blessing to be realized on the particular occasion, but also of her life throughout the year : Thy shoes shall be iron and brass ; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.'
The work at Saffron-Walden continued to prosper, and in January and February three small rooms were successively licensed for worship. Miss Berger quietly waited meanwhile for indications of the Divine will as to the future, yet not neglecting to do with her might in the present whatever her hand found to do. In evidence of her experience a letter, written April 25th, to the ladies at whose establishment she had received part of her early education, may be cited :
· The Misses are requested to accept the enclosed books as an expression of grateful remembrance from one who was formerly under their tuition, and who recollects with gratitude to God and them their attention to her education and moral principles while under their roof. She has since learned in the school of Christ (Ephes. iv. 20-24) lessons of inestimable worth--of saving and renewing grace. So that her experience corresponds with the following verses of Newton's : “Fierce passions discompose the mind, For none, but in the Saviour's school As tempests vex the sea ;
Can learn the heavenly skill.
Thus I, who once my wretched days
In vain repinings spent ; In vain, by reason and by rule,
Taught in my Saviour's school of grace, We try to bend the will ;
Have learned to be content," ! The following entry in her diary will cast further light on Miss Berger's experience at this time :
'I wished to know the full import of those words, “ The Lord is good, a Stronghold in the day of trouble"; and my desire was graciously granted. For, under a sermon preached by the Rev. P. M'Owan, I experienced power to commit everything to God; and then all that was before distressingly perplexing, seemed as nothing at all. I felt
able to suffer and adore. I think that this extraordinary manifestation indicates that a great trial, or some great display of Divine mercy, is at hand.'
It may be that the fuller call, received soon after this time, to permanent residence in the ancient and charming town of Saffron-Walden, and the heavy domestic affliction which preceded it were the special Providences for which she was being thus prepared. There seemed many difficulties in the way of changing residences ; but, true to her decision to renounce her own will in all things for that of Christ, she wrote to Mrs.. Webster, who was then staying at Walden, and had there certified, in July, another house for worship,
MY DEAREST FRIEND,
The success the Lord gives you is very animating, and a source of much comfort to me, as well as to the dear children of God to whom I have read your letter. The greatest difficulty to me in leaving here, is the distance of Walden from mamma; but, persuaded that the will of the Lord is right, I shall be resigned to the change. The language of Ruth is mine : “Whither thou goest, I will go ; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge : thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God : where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried : the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”
Yours most affectionately,
*C. BERGER.' In the same spirit she thus wrote in her journal:
August 19th, 1823.-0 that I could faithfully record the goodness of God towards my unfaithful soal ! I feel that He is renewing my strength ; that He invites me the sweetness of His yoke to prove, and that I am rising again, from a state only partly spiritual, into one wholly spiritual. I seem like a bird which has often had its wings clipped, my soul having been frequently weakened, so as to fall from blessed heights of peace and joy and love. O that its wing might now rise to droop no more !'
The great trial anticipated was now to be borne by Miss Berger : notwithstanding her own anxious vigilance as nurse, an illness, which had come unexpectedly upon her tenderly loved mother, issued in death in September 1823. Miss Berger's private records and friendly letters in relation to this sorrow undesignedly throw out her own affectionate character in bold relief. The following are specimens :
'On September 1st my dear mother departed this life. This painful event has been much sanctified to me. The Lord dealt so graciously with regard to mother's soul that I have not known how to praise Him enough. I sat up with her during the last two nights of her life, and was enabled to say many things which the Lord blessed to her.'
'Homerton, September 2nd, 1823. MY DEAR MADAM,
'I am requested to inform you of the loss of our dear mother yesterday. Her bodily sufferings terminated happily....Some time before the fatal stroke, her soul ungrasped its hold of sublunary objects and delightfully fixed upon God her Saviour as the only Giver of substantial and permanent happiness. So death was the way to her Heavenly Father's house, and eternity the completion of her most ardent wishes. Only the vital piety of which she was made a happy partaker can ensure a re-anion where she now is.......
Yours in the love of Christ,
CHARLOTTE BERGER.' Miss Berger now manifested even more self-renunciation and heavenlymindedness than before. No deprivation, no hardship, no contest, no contumely,
no danger could prevent her following what appeared to be the way of Providence. Particularly was this seen in her devoted attendance at the House of God, in spite of feeble health or foul weather. She often spoke and wrote of physical as well as spiritual restoration experienced there. In the business matters which at this time she had to transact, there was in her spirit and conduct a blending of artless simplicity and commendable prudence. In illustration of these characteristics, a few passages are extracted from her diary :
October 23rd, 1823.-Have seen this evening the Lord's hand in remarkably preserving our dwelling from destruction by fire. The kitchen was full of flames and smoke ; but, by God's help, our lad managed to extinguish the fire—not, however, before himself had been considerably injured, and the walls and furniture much burnt. O the gracious providence of God in this dangerous circumstance !-a providence all the more notable, as, by some oversight, the insurance had not been renewed.
‘January 13th.— In many circumstances the Lord has graciously wrought, in His providence, for us of late. To-day, beyond expectation, Ilford Chapel rent was brought in.
February 23rd.—Though very poorly, I ventured to chapel to hear the Rev. P. M'Owan ; and, 0, what a season 1 The chapel was damp, but I did not take cold. My views and feelings were indescribable. I saw the vastness of God's love, in contrast to my utter anprofitableness ; I experienced intense eagerness to offer my all to God, together with profound astonishment that He will accept anything so mean. Remembering, I endorsed the words of Christopher Hopper : “I gave up my soul and body and substance to my adorable Saviour, and grieved I had no more to give."
February 24th.–Was much exercised and afflicted in spirit through circumstances of a very painful nature ; but the Lord graciously relieved me by a view of the provocations Himself met with from His people of old. Their shameful unfaithfulness seeming reflected in some sort upon Himself and to dim His glorious name.
• April 8th.—I feel that my soul is rising into God, the means employed to convey this blessing having been a conversation which I had with two Preachers, a male and a female, belonging to the Bible Christians. The former reminded me of George Clarke, whose spirit I judge of from his letters ; and the latter of Ann Catler. Both manifest great simplicity of character, and profess to be taught in all things of God. The lady rejoices in a constant consciousness of the smile of God illumining and transforming all within her. In reply to an allusion to my delicate health and extreme nervousness, she said that she had been in the same condition, but God had made her a new creature in body as well as soul. Her manner was that of an innocent and lovely child. She is twenty-seven years of age. I have been ardently pursuing more holiness ever since this interview ; and, blessed be God ! I feel a larger and mightier measure of it wrought in my heart.
• May 24th. Broughing.-On Saturday our journey here was beset with many difficulties. We had started later than usual, and on arriving at Waltham Abbey we were told that the bridge was down, the country flooded and the road impassable. We, however, tried another way, some miles round, notwithstanding the probability of finding matters even worse, as we know that the Mill Bridge in that direction was greatly damaged ; and, glory be to God! we got safely through.
Jane 14th.—This day the Lord has given as a blessed answer to prayer, the Leytonstone house being disposed of to some of our own people. Last Friday week the letting of the house was as uncertain as it had ever been, but in the evening we felt special power to cast everything into the Lord's h.ands ; and we were filled with love and praise. On Monday morning, while Mrs. Webster was negotiating with a gentleman about the house, Mr. Taylor and myself were prayirig in another room that she might be rightly