Imágenes de páginas

greatly blessed afterwards in spreading all my affairs before God, I saw how forceful are the words:

"'Tis brave to wake, lethargic souls among :
To rise, surrounded by a sleeping throng."

'June 2nd.-Detained at home from the sanctuary service in the evening through indisposition, I found a rich repast in Mr. Spurgeon's sermon on The Earnest of Heaven.- -October 14th.-The shafts of the four-wheel chaise in which we were riding having broken off on the road, without our sustaining the slightest injury, we saw the truth of the sentiment, "The stops as well as the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord."--December 10th.-This morning the power of faith given me to triumph in the prospect of death has found expression in these and similar words:

"Restless, resign'd, for Thee I pant:

For Thee my vehement soul stands still."

'January 12th, 1862.-Praise the Lord! We have begun this year under cheering circumstances with reference to His work among us. My soul has been filled with grateful joy in contemplation of the Lord's gracious designs, already apparent, but yet to be developed.—January 29th, 1863.-Commenced this day reading over again the Rev. Joseph Benson's Commentary on the Scriptures.—May 22nd.—Eventful day to me. My dear friend Webster during last night exchanged mortality for life.'

Possessing quick and accurate perceptions, considerable powers of reflection, sound judgment, untiring energy, deep knowledge of human nature, a discreetly generous disposition, an inflexible will and masculine force of character, yet subjecting all to the guiding restraint of a profound and constant desire to please God, to live 'as seeing Him Who is invisible,' Mrs. Webster was just the earthly helper whom Miss Berger's delicate spirit required: a strong support for the graceful woodbine to cling to. It was no wonder that the removal of such a stay through the storms of forty-eight years should have excited 'poignant feelings of separation' in her from whom it was taken. But so marked was Divine mercy in the prolongation of Mrs. Webster's life to the age of eighty-three years, and so bright on the one hand was Miss Berger's own hope of being soon permitted to share in her departed friend's bliss, and on the other so profound was her trustful love to Him in Whose hands are the issues of life and death, that her soul was literally flooded with comfort, 'turning sadness into gladness,' and imbuing her with an almost youthful energy for the beneficent work which she was to be favoured yet to accomplish.

The latter half of the year 1863 was spent by Miss Berger mainly in attending to matters relating to her recently deceased companion, with whom in spirit she was ever present; and of whom she wrote an obituary which appeared in this Magazine for August, 1864.

For the greater part of the next two years Miss Berger was principally engaged in the great work which she had been spared to accomplish: the erection of a new chapel at Saffron-Walden. Of the way in which this important undertaking opened before her as a God-imposed duty and a Godconferred honour, of the difficulty and anxiety experienced in its execution, and of the glorious success which ultimately crowned laborious effort, Miss Berger has left an interesting account under various dates :

January 14th, 1864.—I am filled with wonder; and surely I ought to be with loving gratitude and praise! On the 12th inst., the Revs. C. Prest and [W.] Brailey paid me a visit concerning the new chapel at Walden, which it is now concluded that we must have; and I believe that the result will be the salvation of many immortal souls.- -February 10th. The architect has to-day measured the land for the new chapel.——March 1st.— We find that we have a Sanballat and a Tobiah to deal with.-July 6th.-Waiting on the Lord, I was shown that I should let matters take their course; and when much engaged with outward things relating to the new chapel, this Scripture was given me, "Ye shall not need to fight in this battle." (2 Chronicles xx. 17.)——July 19th.—I was under deep exercise lest there should not be a sufficiency of means forthcoming for the new chapel, at the foundation-stone laying; but the Lord has spoken most encourag. ingly to my heart, saying, "Fear not believe only."--August 29th.-Endeavouring earnestly to call upon the Lord respecting His work, the new chapel and other important matters, I was enabled, with calmness and faith, to leave everything in His hands; which the violent shock recently caused to my nerves by over-anxiety has made it absolutely necessary for me to do.-September 13th.-Hallelujah! Yesterday the contract for the erection of our new chapel was signed.—October 12th.-Foundation-stone laid. A day of great joy.—-November 21st.—I am astonished at the calmness just experienced by me in a time of great trial: a violent onset from Satan, who knows that I have been urgently pressing my suit at the Throne of Grace for a full attainment personally of all that God has promised individuals, and for an abundant outpouring of His Spirit among De generally.————December 17th.-The roof of our new chapel was entirely finished without hindrance from the weather: a most gracious answer to prayer.- -April 19th, 1865.-In the opening of the new chapel to-day I am permitted to realize the fulfilment of many precious promises made in the past to me by the wonder-working God. The pulpit was occupied by that faithful soldier of Christ, the Rev. C. Prest. I was not well enough to attend the services; but was favoured with sufficient strength to receive the congratulations of different friends. To God be eternal praises!'

[ocr errors]

Miss Berger characteristically omits from her journal any notice of the important fact that by far the greater part of the cost of the new chapel was defrayed by herself. To that object she devoted a legacy, which had been recently left her, as she chose to say, 'for the very purpose.'

For two or three years the cause of God in connection with this new chapel steadily prospered, Miss Berger being foremost amongst its human agents. But so far from losing her spirit of sacred enterprise in this work of consolidation, she experienced a constant desire still to arise and build '—a desire which in part was realized in the addition of a school-room to the chapel at Saffron-Walden, and subsequently in the erection of a chapel at Little Chesterford.

This work, which was the last of its nature in which Miss Berger was permitted to engage for her Master, had, especially in its initial stages, to be carried on against many and great difficulties, as will be seen from incidental references yet to be quoted.

Early in September, 1868, the present writer arrived at Miss Berger's house, where he was to reside for three years; and never will the impression made upon his mind by that lady's appearance and deportment be erased. Surrounded by household antiquities in the way of furniture, movable and fixed, and herself wearing a long, neat, black alpaca mantle, together with a black satin 'coal-scuttle bonnet,' trimmed inside with spotless white silk,

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

which seemed to heighten the spiritual expression of her full, soft, searching eyes, and of her pale, classical, delicately-chiseled face, Miss Berger at home looked like a venerable prophetess ; and to see her even once was to be inspired with reverence approaching to awe. But closer acquaintance deepened this impression ; for, literally rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing and in all things giving thanks; constantly receiving answers to her prayers for others, and gracious intimations of personal favour from her Heavenly Father, with whom she conversed as a man with his friend,' and in words which, though not intended for human ears, were, through her intense earnestness, often audible in every part of the house ; and dwelling ever in communion with the worshipping hosts above, she wielded a mystic, mighty, spiritual influence, which made her home a constant Bethel or Mabanaim. Not unfrequently would she feel constrained to share the portion,' which had just been given her in answer to prayer, with those who dwelt in her house, and such 'portions' would seem like 'angels' food’ dispensed from on high.

One afternoon, for instance, she said, 'I must make you partners in my treasurbs. I want to read to you Hymn 672 [802 in the New Hymn-Book], which has been made very beneficial to me. It recalls a most charming sermon preached by Mr. Benson in the morning chapel, City Road, before and after which he gave it out.' She read the hymn through very impressively, laying special emphasis on the last verse : 'Swift as the eagle cuts the air, etc. Then she continued, 'Ah! you have no idea of the magnificent effect made by that one

! man, Mr. Benson, upon our hearts.' After a slight pause she said, ' Now I

, am going to dress for eternity,' meaning that she was going to resume her prayers and other preparations for the future world. On another occasion, speaking of some persons in affluent worldly circumstances who sought her friendship, she said, 'There is no associating principle between us. All their talk is about the body; and so I cannot continue to call upon

them. No congenial friendship can I form with those who lack spirituality.'

Self-denial and bodily mortification characterized all she did, of which one instance must suffice. Being authoritatively told that wine was necessary in her weakness, she chose pale sherry, remarking, 'I don't like pale sherry, but greatly prefer dark. But by taking the former, I realize whatever benefit wine can give, without danger from a seductive beverage.'

Her ingenuous honesty should also be noticed. She would never equivocate. She scorned, for instance, to say she was glad to see any one at her house if such were not the case, nor would she use the slightest finesse in declining to see any callers. Her yea' was yea, and her 'nay,' nay.

In public, Miss Berger's influence was still, notwithstanding her physical feebleness, like a mighty spell Her prayers and statements of experience in the sanctuary must live long in the memories of those who were permitted to hear them. The following testimony, given at a Love-feast held in the new chapel, January 16th, 1870, may, especially as it was written down and intended to be a permanent, and almost final, public acknowledgment

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



of the goodness of God, be here transcribed with advantage as specimen :

Fourscore years have now nearly passed over my head : many and great have been the mercies of my life. Relative and personal afflictions were, in the Lord's hand, the principal means of bringing me to a saving acquaintance with Himself. Mach, in my early religious experience, is depicted in Bunyan’s Pilgrim's Progress ; for I got first into the Slough of Despond, and was afterwards brought into the ineffable joy and liberty of God's pardoned children. Then, at length, Satan succeeded in diverting my mind from the sweet views of the love of Christ, which had hitherto been so helpful to me, and thus led me to take offence at certain prominent Church-members. I soon found myself in a labyrinth of doubts and disquietude, in which Giant Despair seized me, locking me up for some months in his castle, out of which I think I should never have come without very much and very special help. After this, becoming more established in grace, under the valuable ministry at City-Road Chapel, together with all the private means of grace, such as Class and Band meetings, I was enabled, in the exercise of faith, to lay hold of “the full assurance of hope,” which, to my great comfort, by the Spirit's aid, I have held fast to this day. Being thus strengthened, I was led into a path of usefulness ; and in the gift of souls resulting therefrom, I know I shall have reason to praise God through éternity. I remember stating, in a letter to one of my brothers, “I foresee halcyon days" ; 'and since then, what answers of prayer have we seen in my own family! The Lord is now showing me, from the delectable mountains, the “house not made with hands”; and is assuring me that I shall soon have admission therein. But I see that there is as great a necessity as ever for circumspection, prayer and faith. In these respects, I find the heart-searching ministry we are sitting ander unspeakably precious to my soul; and it is my earnest prayer that the word so delivered may prove to those who frequent our chapel the power of God unto salvation.'

Increasing daily and manifestly in bodily weakness, Miss Berger did not evince the slightest sign of abatement in spiritual energy and enterprise. Though now her public appearances were few, and made the impression on strangers that her day was past, those who were in daily conversation with her knew that she was never mightier in grace. In illustration of her continued interest and influence in sacred projects may be adduced the effective part which she took, first, in all the difficult negotiations relating to the acquisition and enfranchisement of a chapel-site at Little Chesterford; and, subsequently, in raising funds for the erection of a chapel thereon. One of Miss Berger's letters concerning this case may here be inserted :

"April 1st, 1871. * DEAR SIR,

*Your Divine Redeemer and mine has laid a little more of His delightful service upon me. To lessen the weight of expenses which will accrue, we have been led to ask the assistance of those whose hearts are engaged as ours in the great cause of Christ. Therefore I appeal to your love and sense of obligation to your adorable Redeemer, Who has imparted to you as to myself the blissful hope of everlasting life. The printed circular will give all particulars.

Yours, etc.,

•C. BERGER.' At length every obstacle was removed, the work proceeded apace, and on November 19th, 1872, a beautiful little Wesleyan chapel was opened at Little Chesterford, mainly as the result of Miss Berger's energy, liberality, faith and prayer. Her last public work having been thus satisfactorily com

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


pleted, she now calmly and quietly waited, for the most part in private, until her final change came. During this period her intellect perceptibly failed as to most matters; persons and things formerly of considerable interest to her being entirely forgotten. But on religious subjects she retained all the faculties of her mind, in undiminished strength and brightness, to her dying hour.

During her last illness her bodily sufferings were frequently intense, but they were borne with uncomplaining fortitude. For a considerable period, however, before death she enjoyed an absolute freedom from pain. Then, the weak flesh no longer pressing down the spirit, she realized an antepast of heaven; and in the calm dignity of her blessedness she repeated, as setting forth her actual experience, those words, which often as a prophecy had strengthened her faith and brightened her hope when engaged in the activities of middle age, and which very properly appear on her funeral card : 'At evening time it shall be light. And that cloudless evening closed gloriously. Pointing to heaven and exclaiming : Room! more room!' Miss Berger passed peacefully away to her place in those many mansions of which she evidently had caught a preparatory glimpse, and into which at the end, as in the vigour, of probationary life she longed to lead others.

It was on June 25th, 1877, that Miss Berger thus triumphantly finished her earthly career, in the eighty-sixth year of her age: the last of four coworkers who all illustrated the description of the 'wisdom' which they followed, namely, that • length of days is in her right hand.'

Four days afterwards the mortal remains of this excellent lady were interred in a beautiful spot, under a laburnum tree, in the Saffron-Walden cemetery,

[ocr errors]


BY THE REV. JOHN BOND. The whole of the Old Testament is given by inspiration of God.' Of course, I do not mean that there have arisen no errors by transcription or transmission in other ways during the course of the ages. Nor do I contend for strictly verbal inspiration. But the argument for the inspiration of the Old Testament I build on the authority of the New. There existed in our Lord's time a sacred volume, known among the Jews as The Scriptures. That volume was substantially what we now know as the Old Testament. A Greek translation of it, the Septuagint, was then in common use. This Old Testament was popularly known as composed of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms. This book was a definite volume marked off from all other productions among the Jews. It is true that the Sadducees did not hold all its parts as of equal authority, but they knew them perfectly well as unitedly composing this well-defined book : The Scriptures. We have this book before us : the old Hebrew Scriptures.

« AnteriorContinuar »