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The old man, she afterwards told me, looked up in her face, and said immediately,
Molly, do you expect to go softly all the days of your life? No; that you shan't."
Often afterwards, when in dreadful pain from the gout, she has said to me, "Ah! what old John Weeks said is true.'
This Christian farmer went to his rest before his aged friend. He was indeed a burning and a shining light in our little village, and long shall we miss his fine bald head where it used constantly to be seen, both on the Sunday morning and afternoon, just by the second pillar in our church; long shall we still look in vain for his bright eye turned so intently upon the preacher, his manly countenance, whose every feature seemed to respond to the very mention of the Saviour's name. Brought in early life to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, and gradually increasing in the gifts of the Holy Spirit more and more, this farmer beautifully adorned his Christian profession. The constant and thankful attendant twice every Sunday at his parish church; a regular communicant, rejoicing, notwithstanding all his business, to be present at onr week-day evening services in our school-room, where the Scriptures are more familiarly explained; a most efficient teacher in our Sunday-school till his advancing age and increasing infirmities prevented him from being so; a collector for the Bible Society, and a contributor, according to his means, yea, and beyond his means, in every case of distress which came under his notice; he was often to be found in the room of sickness and death, pointing to that Saviour whose blood cleanseth from all sin, and who can save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him. His end was peace, and he now sleeps in Jesus.
It was, I think, this year that Molly Gay seemed to take a peculiar interest in the annual meeting of our little missionary association. Her prayers, I feel sure, had long been offered up for those who have gone to unfurl the banner of the cross in distant lands; but this year, for the first time, she asked me to take a little sum which
she had saved out of her narrow means and to give it, as she expressed herself, to the missionaries. The sum might have appeared a small one to many, but if the value of it be measured by the income of the giver, it was almost the largest which I ever received. It was of course impossible for her to give largely to others, but the kindness of her heart was shown in many a cold potatoe and broken piece of bread given to the poor beggar at the door, and there must be many a child in our village who can remember that when he wished a cup of cold water to drink with his dinner which he brought with him to school, he never asked old Molly for it in vain. But though she was so liberal of her water, yet every drop she had was bought, for there is no well in our village, and all spring water has to be brought from a little distance. I remember well my poor old friend telling me one day how she liked to give the children water, and then she added, "I see a great difference between them, some will stop and thank me afterwards, and others run away and don't say a word. This comes, sir, from the manner in which they are trained at home. I think children are ruder now than they were when I was young; but it would not be so if they were kept in proper order at home; it is of no use, sir, teaching them one thing at school if they are taught a different thing by their own parents at home. I blame the parents more than the children."
It was about Christmas, in the year 1844, that Molly Gay, as before mentioned, was most providentially preserved from a painful death. She had been sitting on a cold day in her little window-seat, reading, I believe, her Bible, and rose up to go to the fire to warm herself. She stood with her back to the grate, and in a few minutes she felt her gown, which was a cotton one, in flames. The poor old woman had sufficient presence of mind to press it together and extinguish it with her hands, before she attempted to open the door to call any one. Her hands were, of course, slightly burnt, and she felt the shock which the alarm had given her; but a very short time after she only spoke of the accident with
thankfulness as proving the watching and preserving care of her God. A kind friend, Mrs. B, immediately she heard of the accident, gave her a stuff gown, which prevented her being exposed again to a similar accident.
The kindness of her friends was indeed always ready to supply every want which the poor old woman would name; but it was difficult to find out her wants, she seemed so perfectly satisfied with what she had, and so unwilling to ask for anything. But I would here mention a circumstance which has always struck me as a remarkable proof how God will provide for his children the food and raiment which they need. A friend at a distance who was in the habit of giving to Molly Gay a shilling a week, at one time discontinued her payment. As I was not aware that she intended to renew it, I told the poor old widow that she must, I feared, not expect to receive it again. On the very day that I told her this, another friend came and informed her that she meant to allow her henceforth a shilling a week. I thought it so remarkable that the day the one allowance was withdrawn, the other should be given, that I could not help suspecting that Miss Khad heard that Molly Gay had lost her former shilling a week; but on inquiry I found it was not so. It was God who had inclined the heart to supply his servant's want.
To those who assisted her, poor Molly was most deeply grateful, and her prayers were continually, I feel sure, offered up both for them and for their families. To one lady, who for a long course of years gave her one shilling per week, she was especially grateful, for she owed her the most; and again and again, when she thought she was sinking, she has begged me to tell Mrs. Show thankful she was for all her great kindness, and how she prayed that she might meet her and all her family in heaven. In consequence of these little allowances, which were regularly made to her for several years, Molly Gay felt, I think, that she had all she needed day by day, and having found the promises of her God so sure a storehouse for four-score years and more, she felt no wish to hoard in any other. Many a time have I known her
refuse the blanket, the gown, and the shawl, telling me she had no need of them and no wish to lay anything by. "Oh! sir," she used to say, "there are many poor creatures who want them far worse than I do. I think it would be a sin in me to take them."
Time passed on, and though Molly Gay grew weaker in body, and was obliged to have a little girl to sleep with her at night and make her fire in the morning, her spirit seemed every month to grow riper for heaven, and her memory on every Scriptural subject to be as strong as ever. She felt the increasing weakness of her body, and continually expressed her gratitude that while God was taking down her tabernacle pin by pin and bit by bit, as she used to say, he still gave her almost as full use of her eyes and ears as she had when a girl.
"Oh! what should I do, sir, if I could not read my Bible ?"
In June, 1845, Molly Gay's strength seemed evidently giving way, but as the Lord weakened his servant, her spirit appeared to become more heavenly, and like the bruised perfume, she spread a sweeter fragrance round her. No one could enter her cottage and speak to her for a few minutes, and see the animation with which the aged widow spoke of spiritual things, the love to God and man which breathed in all she said, but he must have felt that her humble room was, as it were, the very door of heaven, and that he was talking with one who very soon would be among the white-robed bands above. But though her weakness of body greatly and evidently increased, the Bible was her constant companion, the Psalms for the day were constantly read, and the whole service of our Church every Sunday. "I was with you, sir, yesterday," was her constant remark, when I visited her on a Monday morning, "and Mrs. G-e came and told me the texts, and explained them to me.'
I almost always found the text of each of the sermons preached on the Sunday marked down in her Bible, as a subject for meditation and prayer during the following week.
On Tuesday, June 24th, I saw Molly Gay for the last
time down stairs; she did not see me when I entered; she was in her arm-chair, with her feet now greatly swollen placed up upon another. I sat down and took her hand, and reminded her that the God who had led her nearly ninety years through the wilderness would not now leave her.
She looked up, her eye brightened, and she replied, "Oh! no, sir, goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life. May I have patience, patience to the end."
"I trust that God will give it you, Molly," was my "To him that is faithful unto death the Lord will give the crown of life. It will not now I think be long before you will, I humbly trust, join that company which no man can number round the throne, who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. How many there are there whom you have known and loved on earth, how joyful will be the meeting! How often you have sat in this little room and thought of your Saviour and longed to be with him, it will not now I think be long before you fly away and are at rest.”
"I must wait," the aged widow replied, "God's own time. He will not lay upon me more than I can bear. My sufferings are nothing when compared with those which my blessed Saviour suffered for me;" and as she mentioned her Saviour's name, her eye sparkled, and she seemed totally to forget her own poor weak body. "This tabernacle," she added, "is being taken down, sir, as Miss E--used to say, pin by pin,-this prisonhouse! Oh! for my glorious body."
On Wednesday I saw the old widow again; she was in bed, and evidently would never leave it. She was in a gentle doze, and apparently quite free from pain. I took her hand, and asked her whether she was happy.
She replied, I remember well her exact words, and the calm firm tone in which they were uttered, "God has fulfilled his own promise, and given me the peace that passeth understanding."
I pointed out to her how God had heard the prayer which she had, I well knew, continually offered, that she