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The Grace of God Mạnifested.
A sketch of the life, with a circumstantial account of the sickness
and death, of Mrs. FRANCES Cook, who died Aug. 17, 1823.
Frances Cook, whose happy and triumphant death is now to be recorded, was a daughter of Mr. Zophar Nichols, a resident in the upper part of the Bowery, New York, and has been for many years, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Fanny, (for so she was always called,) was from her infancy a girl of an uncommonly cheerful disposition, possessing an insatiable fondness for diversion, and a fruitful invention for intra ducing new and pleasing amusements among her little female associates. Nor was her disposition more cheerful than affectionate and friendly; for a scene of distress or sorrow within her notice, never failed to draw tears from her eyes, and call into immediate action her best efforts to relieve the sufferer.
With these qualities of the mind, which never fail to secure friendship to the possessor, it is no wonder that Fanny was a particular favourite
among the little girls of her own age, who lived in the neighbourhood. In all her friendships which she contracted, she was open, zealous and constant, but the least slight or neglect from a friend, gave a pang to her affectionate heart, that caused the deepest grief and sorrow. But young and volatile as she was, she was nevertheless subject to serious moments of reflection, and particularly fond of going to church, and attending prayer-meetings; and, on such occasions, would frequently shed tears, and exhibit much concern about the salvation of her soul; but these impressions were transitory, and gave place to mirth and levity as soon as any object of amusement seized upon her attention. One peculiar trait in her character, which ought not to be overlooked was, an astonishing firmness of purpose. She seldom made up her mind in matters important to herself, without long deliberation ; but when she had once resolved, no persuasion nor remonstrance could shake her resolution, or produce the least change in her opinion.
With these general characteristics, which constitute what is commonly called a lively agreeable girl
, she grew up until she attained her fourteenth year, when a circumstance occurred that produced for awhile, an entire revolution in her life. Being one evening at a prayer-meeting in Duane-street church, the Spirit of the Lord, which had so frequently made slight impressions on her niind, now penetrated with power to her heart, and her convictions becoming too mighty any longer to resist, she advanced trembling and weeping to the altar, where after crying for mercy amidst the prayers of God's people, for a few hours, it pleased
the Lord to deliver her soul from the cruel bondage of sin, and give her to taste of the joys of redeeming love. After the meeting broke up, (which witnessed the conversion of several others) she returned home shouting the praises of God, and, like the holy Psalmist, telling what the Lord had done for her soul. This was a source of much joy to her family, especially to her sister Clarissa, who, but a short time before had experienced the same happy change, and by whom Fanny was much assisted and encouraged to retain the prize she had so lately won.
Her whole concern was now centred in working out the salvation of her soul. She took great delight in reading the NewTestament-in reading and singing hymns and retired several times in a day for secret prayer. * The finest of her clothes were now either laid aside, or so altered as to correspond with the solemnity of her feelings, and injunctions of the Methodist Discipline. Ruffles and curls were not permitted the favour of alteration, but were indignantly banished her wardrobe, not only as useless, but as the most pernicious appendages of pride and vanity. Her hair was smoothly parted on the forehead, and covered with a hat of the plainest colour and form. How different was her appearance at this time from what it was only a few days before? Yet she lost nothing even in looks by the exchange ; for the sweet peace she felt within, gave a serenity to her countenance and lustre to her eye,
that more than compensated for the loss of those frivolous ornaments from which she had disencumbered herself. Having thus arrayed herself in the plain, modest attire of the followers of Christ, she joined brother Graham's class, and after the usual time of probation, was received into the Methodist Episcopal Church, and continued a regular, faithful member, for about four years, when from the peculiarly unfavourable circumstances in which she was placed at that time, she began to backslide, and in the space of about one year, she had retraced her steps back again into the world of fashion and folly. The principal cause of her departure from the faith, may be attributed to her mixing into young and gay company. Having, about this time, formed an acquaintance with several young ladies of fashion, she found their conversation and manners so sprightly and enticing, that she easily yielded to their repeated and pressing solicitations to accompany them, to what they termed, innocent parties of pleasure; and being strongly propelled by her own natural propensity to mirth, she soon contracted a relish for all the vain recreations and diversions which employ the minds, and consume the time, of the giddy votaries of pleasure. The concerns of religion began now to appear to her more irksome and less important. She neglected to attend her class sometimes for several weeks, found little or no time to re*tire for private prayer, began to shun the company of religious people, took her seat at church among the gayest part of the
congregation, and exhibited almost every other symptom of a soul rapidly falling from grace. Among the company with whom she now associated, she found her plain dress but ill accorded with the brilliancy of theirs, and full as little with her own feelings; and after several severe and repeated struggles with her conscience, she was at length persuaded to cast it off and decorate herself in a dress of the most gay and fashionable kind, ornamented with lace, ruffles, ribbons and feathers. Having thus removed the last remaining obstacle to her reception into fashionable company, and possessing a remarkable talent to please, she soon became as great a favourite among her new associates, as she had formerly been among her little playmates, when a child. She was invited to every party of pleasure, and if she did not attend, her absence was considered a serious misfortune. A stranger, at this period, would have thought her happy almost to the extent of her wishes : but alas, how different was the case! for, when she reflected on the precious jewel she had so foolishly thrown away, the thought rushed with painful emotions to her heart, and banished in an instant, every prospect of worldly joy and happiness, until the impression was driven away by the presence of her lively companions.
But in the midst of this giddy chase after pleasure, and eager as she was of the delights of cheerful company, she would at any time deny herself the pleasure of attending a party, to visit the bed of sickness, or perform any act of kindness for a neighbour where she was convinced it was needed.
In this dreadful state of apostacy did she continue for nearly six years, plunging still deeper into sin; but her career of folly was now about drawing to a close. She had long, and knowingly grieved the Spirit of God, and the day of retribution was at hand. Having repeatedly exposed herself to the chilling blasts of winter, while clad in a dress more calculated for show than comfort, she contracted a severe cold that soon brought on a troublesome cough, and threatened a consumption of the lungs. Being thus compelled, by indisposition, to keep her chamber, she had leisure to reflect on her past life-conscience roared aloudguilt carried her thoughts back through a thousand scenes of folly to the period of her espousals to Christ, when her soul was filled with uninterrupted happiness; and the sad retrospect almost overwhelmed her in sorrow and despair.
By the use of expectorant and astringent medicines, the violence of her cough was abated, and her strength partially restored, and in a few weeks she so far recovered as to be able to visit her friends in the country; where, after a stay of about two months, she returned so much better, as to flatter herself that she should soon again taste the delicious pleasure of permanent health. About this period she was married to Mr. Thomas Cook, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church; who, during the short time
they lived together, proved a very kind and affectionate husband. She now turned her attention to purchasing furniture, and making arrangements for house-keeping, but the insidious disease still lurked within, warning her from time to time, that this earth was not her abiding place. At this period she was an object of the deepest commiseration. Anxious to display the charms of a bride-ambitious of happiness and respect in the married stateardently wishing for health, yet in constant dread of losing italternately cheered and depressed by hope and fear, and reviving or sinking under their influence, as one or the other predominated. In this struggle, as it were between life and death, too feeble in body to enjoy the first, and quite destitute of grace to support her in the last, she continued for about four months, the Spirit of God, constantly striving with her all the time and calling upon her to renounce the world and return to the fonntain of living water. Her malady still increased, exhibiting every day new and alarming symptoms until scarcely a ray of hope remained of her recovery. Believing herself now rapidly descending to the tomb, she besought the Lord with tears and groans, to pardon her backslidings, and restore to her the joys of his salvation. In this situation, she frequently sent for her brother, who had recently commenced preaching the gospel, to pray for her, which he did with some reluctance, believing as he did, that a person who had so long and wilfully grieved the Holy Spirit, and still retained such a strong desire for life and its pleasures, could receive but little benefit from religious instruction and advice; but in this he was mistaken, for shortly after, she despatched a messenger requesting him to come to her with all possible haste. He immediately obeyed the summons, and upon entering her room where she lay in bed, what was his astonishment to see her rise up, and with extended arms exclaim, “O dear brother ! how glad am I to see you! The Lord has pardoned all my sins-he has set my poor burdened soul at liberty, and made me inexpressibly happy in his love." Come,” said she, “I can now pray with you ; let us address the throne of grace together.”
(To be concluded in our next.)
From the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine. ON THE CIRCULATION OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, AND THE PAPAL
BULLS AGAINST BIBLE SOCIETIES.
By the Rev. JAMES TOWNSLEY. The Holy SCRIPTURES are given by inspiration of God, and are, therefore, the only infallible source of doctrines and morals. Mishnical or oral laws, and traditionary expositions, however
warmly defended by Jewish or Romish partizans, are of no authority when unsupported by the Oracles of Truth : and even Reason, in its most perfect state, is as incapable of eliciting divine truths, without the aid of Revelation, as the organs of vision are of discovering the beauties of creation without the medium of the material light. The Bible is consequently an inestimable boon, and the circulation of it is of incalculable importance to the human race.
Prior to the Christian era, the different books of the Old Testament had been translated into Greek, constituting what is usually termed the Septuagint Version, and were publicly read in that language in many of the Jewish Synagogues, especially among those dispersed through the Roman and other empires. On the completion of the canon of the new New Testament, the autographs or original writings of the Evangelists and Apostles appear to have been carefully preserved for a considerable length of time by the primitive Christians; who not only procured accurate copies of them, but cautiously guarded against any corruption of them, and in their disputes with their opponents occasionally appealed to the originals themselves. At a very early period, the Old and New Testaments were translated into Syriac and Latin, by which means, in conjunction with the Septuagint version, and the Hebrew and Greek originals, the Scriptures were rendered accessible to the population of the greater part of the then known world. These translations were succeeded by others of more limited influence, as the Coptic, the Gothic, the Ethiopic, the Armenian, and the Georgian. * Transcription, however, was laborious and expensive, the materials for writing upon were dear, and the multiplication of entire copies rare, and the cost excessive. Churches, therefore, formed the chief repositories of these sacred volumes, which, from containing every thing necessary to faith and practice, were frequently denominated Bibliotheca, or Libraries; and public readers were appointed to read them at stated times to the people who attended. The first Christian Emperor, ConŞTANTINE, an Englishman by birth, with pious and princely liberality, caused fifty copies to be fairly written in large characters upon parchment, and placed in certain churches for the use of the Christians in different parts of his extensive empire.
Unhappily the mystery of iniquity began to work, and before many centuries had elapsed, the more secular part of the Clergy began to discountenance the reading of the Scriptures by the laity, and to restrict the perusal and interpretation of them to the priesthood. The Greek Church was the first to inculcate this antichristian doctrine upon its members; and in the seventh century, the language of one of the latter, in reply to the inquiry
Why do you not read the Holy Gospels?” was, “ It is not lawful for us profane persons to read them; but for the Priests only." The Latin or Romish Church adopted the same principle, and