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ON first coming to our parish, we were almost disheartened at the awful condition of the people. Drunkenness, Sabbathbreaking, and fornication, were most prevalent, both among men and women. It seemed almost lost labour to attempt to reform the heads of families, and we felt that we must lose no time in trying to do good to the young of our flock. Among the many classes formed by us for the benefit of the young of our parish, of both sexes, was an adult class of young women. This was attended very well twice a week; and with joy, and I trust gratitude to our heavenly Father, I saw some impression was being made among the girls; they were tamer (if I may use the expression), and some shewed affection for me. Anna G.- one of my number,. I was particularly struck with; her quiet manner and deep attention made me feel interested about her, and often would she be in tears. One evening, however, she came to tell me that she was going to service, and after a few words of advice she left me. Feeling a great interest in poor Anna, I often called on her widowed mother to enquire after her; and it was in one of these visits that I first met Anna's eldest sister Mary. When I entered the cottage, Mary was busy at the wash-tub. I asked Mrs. Gif that young woman (meaning Mary) was one of her daughters? she told me she was, and had just come from service. I turned to Mary, and asked her if she would attend my adult classes along with the other girls. Her face grew scarlet; and with great pride she said, Oh! no; indeed I would not be seen among such a set of girls as attend your classes; I can learn quite as much at home as ever you can teach me, but I know enough already; the girls who come up to you get no good, and are a very wicked set." I took little notice, but told her that my adult class was strictly confined to the steady young women of the parish, and none others would I admit: but that I hoped one day she would see her error, for it was a bad sign when people had such a good opinion of themselves. As I was leaving the house, Mary's brother came to me and said,-"Oh! ma'am, please
forgive my naughty girl for her rudeness to you." I saw the poor woman was in trouble, but I knew not the cause. About two months after, I was told that Mary G― was ill : I immediately went to the house, and found her sitting by the fire, looking very ill. She burst into tears on seeing me, and begged I would sit down. I asked her how long she had been ill. She replied, "ever since I came home." I then talked to her a little on her sickness, and asked her what she was in trouble about. She said, "Oh! I am such a sinner; if I could but be sure that God would forgive me, I would die happy!" I said, "Then, Mary, you think you will not recover?" She earnestly added, “Oh, no.”
Her minister often visited her, and he also became interested in her.
Being obliged to go from home for six weeks, I did not hear of poor Mary; but when I returned home, I found her better-so much so, that I ventured to hope that she might recover;, and on mentioning this to her, she astonished me by saying, "Oh, no, I am not long for this world; I am better at present; but it is not lasting." She seemed somehow humbled, and as if a weight was on her conscience. She never said much, and the few words which did escape her lips were very touching. As Mary did not seem in anything like danger, I did not repeat my visits very often, for my time was very fully occupied with other parish work; and it was not till about two months since that I was sent for to visit Mary G I found her in bed. She had vomited great quantities of blood. A hectic flush was in her cheek; and her short painful cough shewed me that she was not long for this world. She seemed to have been almost rapidly worse. I said, "Mary, are you aware that you are in a dangerous state ?" She solemnly said, "Yes, ma'am." "And how do you feel now when death stares you in the face ?" She replied, "I can only look to Jesus." "Are you a sinner?” Oh! yes, the chief of sinners; but I hope Jesus has forgiven me. I know I don't deserve to be pardoned; but I try to see my Saviour bleeding on the cross for me; and I know his blood cleanseth from all sin." Many most interesting conversations had I with her. When talking to her one day of her suffer ings, she said, "Oh they are nothing to my Saviour's. He shed drops of blood for me, and shall I murmur?" At another time she began, "Oh! how good God is to me in giving me a lingering illness. He might have cut me off suddenly, and
not given me time to repent; but He has dealt gently with me. Oh! I bless God for my illness. I should never have known what a sinner I was.' Once when I was talking to her I said, Mary, what do you think of your past life?" Oh! ma'am, it has been all vanity and sin. Oh, will you tell the young women in your class to beware of the love of dress and vanity. What good does it do them on their death bed ?" I asked her if she was afraid to die; she said, "No, I know my Saviour will be with me; sometimes Satan tempts me to be afraid, but I try to remember that little hymn-
'Satan trembles when he sees,
The weakest saint upon his knees'
and then I pray for God's help."
One day when I entered her bed room, she exclaimed, “Oh, I am so glad to see you; I have been longing for you to come and pray with me. I began to read a few verses to her about the publican, and the tears trickled down her cheeks. I was anxious to be sure that she was not trusting to any goodness of her own, and therefore I said to her, Mary, I hope you don't think God will forgive you because you have been a dutiful child to your widowed mother." She looked earnestly at me, and said," No, I am altogether a vile sinner; and as such, most hateful in God's sight: I can only cling to the cross of Christ. What should I do without my Saviour's blood; but He died for many, and may I not hope that I am among that number ?" A few moments after, she again began praising God for his goodness to her in giving her a lingering illness, and having dealt so gently with her. From the way in which she spoke, and the tears she shed, I felt sure her life had been a marked one; and I asked her if she had any reason for saying this. She replied, "Yes! I want to tell you. I was at a very respectable situation in M
but as my health would not stand the heavy work I had, I was obliged to leave, and accordingly I went to the house of a cousin, who lived in the town. She and her husband received me very kindly, and said I might stop there till I heard of an easier place. Every day I went to the Registrar Office, and made all inquiries after a situation, but I could not hear of one; at last, one day my cousin told me she had spent all my wages in keeping me, and I must leave them; I found she had even pawned all my good clothes, and I was left with only what I had on my back, and a few small things. She drove me out of the
house, and told me I might go where I liked. She and her husband often got tipsy, which may account for their conduct. But, however, I wandered about for three days in the streets of M- without food or lodging. One day being almost famished, I was sitting down on the step of a door, when a respectable looking female came up to me. She began speaking to me; I told her the distress I was in, and she said it was a great pity, if I was a respectable servant, that I should be exposed to the temptation of such a town as M- ———, and, therefore, if I would come with her, she would do something for me. She took me to her house, which was a most comfortable one; and after putting my feet in warm water, she gave me some tea and put me to bed. She was most kind, and the next morning she came to see me, and told me that I need not be in a hurry to leave her house, for perhaps I might be able in the day time to hear of a situation, and at night I could return to her. I thought this so kind of her; but the next evening I found I had got into a house where I had no business to be.
A lady-like looking young person came to me, and begged I would come into the next room, as she wished to introduce me to a gentleman. I saw my danger, and refused to go; I locked myself in my room, and before light the next morning I set off, and left that wicked house. I was a long distance from my mother; but, however, I thought I would try to go by water, and a captain of a boat kindly offered to take me. When I got in sight of my native village, I left my little bundle of aprons, &c. with him, till I got my mother to pay for me; and more as a beggar than anything else, I got home. Oh! mother (she said turning to her mother), never let sister Anna go to service in a town. I might have been ruined."
I was indeed astonished to hear such a history, and yet it seemed such a mercy that this poor girl was kept from further evil. From this time began her ill health, which ended in her death. The three days she was exposed out, there was heavy rain, and her feet got soaking wet; she took cold then. Sunday when I visited her, she said—“ Oh! that I could get to church! What would I give for some of my Sabbaths over again! I have often made a very small excuse keep me from church, and spent my Sabbaths in idleness. I said, "Well, Mary, but Jesus is always close to his children in sickness.She sweetly smiled, and said, "Oh! yes, and He is very precious to me. He soothes my dying pillow, and I
trust I am clinging to the cross on which my Saviour died for me; and that my sins are all washed away." At another time she said to me-"Oh! if God should see fit to restore me to health, I trust by His help to live to His glory; but if He will take me to Himself, blessed be His holy name I can leave my dear, dear mother: God will provide for her I know." I visited her a few days before she died, and when I entered her bed-room, I saw directly that death was near. She could hardly speak, and when I said, "Mary, have you any message for your sister," she said, "I hope A. is prepared to die; but tell her to love her Saviour." She was so weak that she could hardly speak-her breathing was most difficult; but just before I left her she said, "I hope Mr. is better; it
is very kind of you to come and see me."
I thought I should not see poor Mary alive again; but on Sunday evening when I looked in I found her better. She was sitting up in bed, taking a cup of tea, and seemed really stronger. I had some very nice conversation with her, and read to her about Christ healing the leper; which had been the subject of the morning sermon. She seemed much interested. I asked her how she looked back on her past life? She said, "it has been one of sin and vanity, and how fleeting! a picture of life." "Are you afraid to die?" "Oh! no," she said: "Jesus will be with me when I pass the dark valley of the shadow of death." Her mother told me that in the morning she had sent for her brothers, and kissed them both affectionately, and spoke to them. Just before I left her she said—“ I shall not be surprised if I die at night in my sleep; but I am not afraid, for Jesus will not leave me I think!" I wished her good night, never thinking that the strength she appeared to have was the strength of death. She died the next morning at three o'clock, and in her sleep. A neighbour was sitting up with her, and suddenly saw a change come over Mary. She called up her mother, who hastened to the bedside, and kissing her child, said, "Mary, my child, are you nappy ?" Mary replied, "Yes, yes," and sunk into a sleep, from which she never awoke in this world. She died, February 23rd, 1846, aged 21.