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- Canadian Wild Flowers - 3/36 -

question, Why was I created thus? I stand alone, and why? I know it is my own self that makes me so; but how can I make myself otherwise? I have tried very, _very_ hard to overcome my--what shall I call it? bashfulness? It seems as though it could not be wholly that. I have seen those the world called _bashful_, but they were not at all like myself. Oh, no; I am wretched at times on account of this ----. When I see myself all alone--different from those around me--I cannot stay the burning tear though I would gladly repress it. I cannot soothe the anguish that fills my heart, and yet I feel that this is wrong,--that it ought not to be thus. Why should I feel so keenly that I am _alone_? that I am strange? Earthly scenes will soon be over, and if I am only a Christian I shall never feel alone in heaven. Oh, glorious thought! there will be no strange being there. O God, prepare me for that blissful world and I will no longer complain of my loneliness on earth--no longer sigh that I am not like others."

At this time Miss JOHNSON was not a professed Christian. Her parents had endeavored to bring her up in the fear of the Lord and a belief of the gospel, and to attend the services of the sanctuary. Her life had been one of strict morality. She believed in God but had not taken Christ as _her own personal Saviour_ and confessed him before men as she felt she should. Her conviction of sin however was deep and pungent. On another day in the same month, she says:--

"O Earth, thou art a lovely place, and some of thy inhabitants are as lovely and happy as thyself. See that beautiful bird, with shining plumage and brilliant crest, and hear the melodious notes that arise from its silvery throat! Its form proclaims beauty, and its song happiness. See those snow-white lambs skipping over the verdant grass,--now nestling sportively beside their bleating mothers, then springing forward, bounding from knoll to knoll, and filling the air with strains of joy and delight! See yonder butterfly weighing itself upon that brilliant flower: his gorgeous wings are expanded and glittering in the sun like sparkling gems! See those bright-eyed children! their glowing cheeks, their beaming eyes, and above all their clear and merry laugh proclaiming happiness pure and unbounded. Earth is truly lovely, but its inhabitants are not all happy. Oh no, not _all_, for one who loves the beauties of earth, rejoices in the loveliness of nature, and finds her chief pleasures in the spreading grove, by the babbling brook, among the brilliant flowers, is sad and unhappy. And why? Because she has learned too soon that there is no such thing as [real and abiding] happiness on earth, that the fairest plants wither, that pleasure is a deceitful phantom-false and fleeting. Truly she has learned all this, and will she _never_ learn to raise her eyes to that bright world where true happiness only resides, and to trust meekly in Him who is the only Dispenser of peace and joy?"

Later we have another entry in which, after again referring to the beauties of nature, she exclaims:

"O life, life! I fain would read thy mysteries: I fain would draw aside every vail and behold for what purpose I was created. Was it to be an heir of sorrow? was it to live for myself alone, and then pass away and let my memory perish with me? No, I was born for a better--a higher and more holy purpose. I was not born to pass a few moments on the stage of life and then disappear forever.... With a shudder I turn away and would gladly forget to think. O thought, thought! thou wilt distract me,--thou hast almost hurled reason from her throne. Thou bitter tormentor! depart, if but for a moment, and let me once more find peace. But no; the more I seek to elude still nearer the demon pursues. O thought, thought! it rushes forth from my soul like the wild outpourings of the volcanic mountains and overwhelms me with its burning tide till body, mind and soul--all, all are exhausted and lie like a straw upon the roaring bosom of the deep. Oh, that I could arise, mingle with the gay, and forget my own deep and overpowering thoughts. But no; such thoughts, like the soul which gave them birth, can never die. O thought, what art thou? A blessing to angels, a curse to me. Distracted soul, sink into repose: others are happy, and wast thou born to be more wretched than they? Truly thou wast, and why? Because thou livest only in the regions of thought--_thought_ which is burning my brain and piercing my lacerated heart. And yet a thought freighted with light beams through the dark clouds which its darker sisters have thrown around me, and the only inscription which it bears is, _'Live for others.'_ And another thought follows in rapid succession,--like a far-off echo it repeats the words of its predecessor, 'Live for others,' and then adds (while a vivid flash of the lightning of truth lights up the darkness of error), 'Live for God and for heaven.' A loud crash follows. Peals of thunder shake the atmosphere of my soul! _Self_ has fallen: _I will live for others, for God and for heaven._"

This was a grand resolve; but not yet was the soul to be out of prison, the pilgrim to be freed from the Slough of Despond. Once more she has to write:--

"Everything is beautiful, and all nature is glad and rejoicing. Arise, my soul, and be thou glad likewise. Cast off thy gloomy fears. The God who made all the beautiful things by which thou art surrounded is not unmindful of thee. Oh, wondrous condescension! God is not forgetful of _me_. He gazes upon me with an eye of compassion; he pities my distress and my weakness. Amazing love! Oh, that I were more worthy of it; Oh, that I loved him as fervently as I ought! But my heart is callous, and I am nothing but a poor, cold, vile and helpless sinner: nothing but sin _dwells_ hi my heart. It is the seat of every vice, every evil thought, and every depraved passion. [Jer. 17:9, 10; Mark 7:21-23]. Dark and gloomy clouds envelope my soul. A weight of sorrow presses upon my heart, and I vainly strive to free myself from its influence. Everything looks dark. 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me?' 'How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?' 'Mine iniquities are gone over my head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. Make haste to help me.' 'My soul fainteth for thy salvation, but I hope in thy word.' O my God, hear my cry, and answer my petition."

"_Tuesday_, _June_ 29, 1852. The sultry fires of the day have yielded to the cool breezes of evening. A misty cloud hangs over the once azure sky, and the deep, heavy roar of thunder shakes the quiet air. Nearer and nearer still it rolls its deep-toned voice, and all nature seems to reply. The vivid lightnings flash. The fountains on high are opened, and the rain pours down in torrents. Wilder grows the storm: the winds are released from their 'prison-cave,' and armed with fury they rush madly forth; brighter the lightnings glare, louder the thunders roar. The whole fabric of nature seems in commotion! Oh, who can gaze upon such a scene without emotions of awe, wonder and admiration? Surely such an one must possess a stony heart and a cold nature. There is beauty for me in the lightning's glare--there is music in the thunder's peal! God grant that there may be beauty and glory for me in the day when the thundering notes of the last trumpet shall shake the heavens and awaken the sleeping dead,--when 'the elements shall melt with fervent heat,' and every soul of every tribe, and tongue and nation shall stand before the judgment-seat to receive their final doom! O grant that the Judge may be my friend, and that I--the poorest, the lowest, the vilest of sinners--may find a seat at his right hand; and the vaults of heaven shall forever ring with the praises of a redeemed sinner, saved only through the grace and blood of the crucified Saviour."

But the hour was at hand when there was to come such relief to the troubled soul as it had never before experienced,--when the divine Comforter was to take of the things of Christ and reveal them to the longing heart,--and this maiden avow herself before the world a disciple of Christ. How was this to be effected?

Sunday, July 25, I had an appointment to preach in Magog, and after the forenoon service expected to baptize a young lady who had been a schoolmate of Miss JOHNSON. In view of that arrangement I urged that they should both go together in the ordinance, but could get no encouragement that it would be so. We went to the church, where I preached from Col. 3:1-4, and after sermon announced the hymn,--

"Gracious Lord, incline thine ear, My request vouchsafe to hear; Burdened with my sins, I cry, Give me Christ, or else I die.

* * * * *

Father, thou hast given thy Son, Bruised for sins--that I have done; To that refuge now I fly; Christ is mine--I shall not die."

The effect and what followed I will allow her to relate in her own words:--

"Oh, the _agony_ and the _perfect peace_ that I have this day enjoyed! The agony in the morning was almost insupportable. It seemed then utterly impossible for me to take up so heavy a cross as to follow my Saviour in the ordinance of baptism. The very thought was dreadful, and yet I knew that it was my duty. I felt that the anger of God would be kindled against me,--that his Holy Spirit would not always strive with me. I threw myself upon my knees; but could find no peace there as long as I continued proudly obstinate. I started from my knees and seized 'the holy Book of God'; but there was nothing there to comfort me. I paced the room hurriedly, at every step exclaiming, 'What shall I do?' and yet I knew what to do, but would not do it. Thus the morning passed away, and trembling with emotion I entered the house of God. The sermon seemed designed expressly for me. At its close I grew more agitated. The last hymn was read, and after singing we were to repair to the water, where one happy being was to follow her blessed Saviour into a watery grave. Oh, I shall never forget that hymn,-- never, no never. The closing line of each verse seemed as an echo from my own heart, 'Give me Christ or else I die'; but as the last line of the last verse fell upon my ear--_'Christ is mine. I shall not die_," --I think that then I did truly feel determined to come boldly forth and claim the precious promises of God _as my own_.

"We sought the water's side, when Josephine asked me in a trembling voice if I would be baptized. I thought she expected an answer in the negative--at least I knew that she might reasonably expect it, for I had told her plainly in the morning that I could not. My heart was too full to speak: I only bowed my head in token of assent. I shall never forget the look of joy that beamed in her countenance, nor the emotions that filled my own bosom. I saw Eliza enter the water. Oh, glorious sight! I never saw, never imagined so beautiful a scene. Every fear vanished, every cloud withdrew from my soul, and I _longed_ to enter the waving flood. O my Saviour! I did not enter it alone. Surely it was nothing short of the almighty arm of God that supported me then. I never in all my life had so little fear of man: I had _no fear_ then. Truly it was a foretaste of heaven. Oh, happy, thrice happy moment! it was worth a whole lifetime of sorrow. If I could always feel as I did then my heart would never again be bowed down with grief: but that very afternoon Satan began to whisper: 'You will not live up to your profession; you have deceived yourself and others; you are still a wicked creature; you are not a Christian'; and yet by the grace of God I was able, in some degree at least, to resist him.

Canadian Wild Flowers - 3/36

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