The Gospel 24/7
--------------MISS LUCIE VIRGINIA BYRD
From An Antique Book in Webmaster's Library - Editor Unknown
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All beauty and all excellence seemed joined."
Dear as thou wast, and justly dear,
We will not weep for thee:
One thought shall check the starting tear,
It is--that thou art free.
And thus shall faith's consoling power
The tears of love restrain;
Oh! who that saw thy parting hour,
Could wish thee here again?
Triumphant in thy closing
The hope of glory shone;
Joy breathed in thy expiring sigh,
To think the fight was won.
Gently the passing spirit fled,
Sustained by grace divine;
Oh! may such grace on me be shed,
And make my end like thine.--Rev. T. DALE.
Enthroned upon a hill of light,
A heavenly minstrel sings;
And sounds unutterably bright
Spring from the golden strings.
Who would have thought so fair a form
Once bent beneath an earthly storm?"
"During the summer of her residence in G_________," writes her friend, Miss Susan A, in an obituary sketch which was published in the Episcopal Recorder, an attack of hemorrhage greatly alarmed her friends, but Lucie was perfectly composed, and when Dr. M________ informed her that he entertained no hope of her recovery, her countenance was so undisturbed, that he at first supposed that she could not have heard his remark. She told her anxious relatives that she was happy, and they must not weep.
"We would remind our youthful readers, who are, deterred from the service of their Maker by the opinion that it involves too great a sacrifice, that they cannot have more to relinquish than the subject of these remarks. Her beauty, gracefulness and winning manners, attracted the homage of many hearts; but she turned from the incense of adulation to the Cross of Jesus, and loved better to worship there, than be herself the centre of the admiring throng.
"Oh that all who have said of 'the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same,' 'I renounce them all'-- would bear her faithful testimony against worldly conformity, not at the altar of God only, but when temptation is presented in its most alluring form. She always realized, that the affections of a disciple of Jesus should never be given to one, who has never entered into covenant with him; and indulged in no reading upon which she could not ask her heavenly Father's blessing. When she was once present upon an occasion, when dancing was unexpectedly introduced, she requested permission to withdraw, and retreated to the chamber of a little daughter of her friend, where she occupied herself, with the more congenial employment of reading the Scriptures aloud.
"The greater part of last summer was passed at the Sulphur Springs of Virginia, where her unvarying consistency conveyed a profitable lesson to those professors of religion, who forget, when surrounded by the temptations of travelling that 'the vows of God' are always upon them. She was plentifully supplied with books and tracts, and ceased not to make unwearied effort for the eternal welfare of the immortal beings, by whom she was surrounded.
"She returned to Philadelphia, delighted with the anticipation of the uninterrupted enjoyment of sanctuary privileges and Christian intercourse; but her physician feared the influence of a Northern climate, and in compliance with his wish, she passed the winter in Savannah, where she elicited and returned the affection of many a warm Southern heart.
"During her visit to Savannah, a return of hemorrhage confirmed the apprehensions of her mother, who watched her darling child with the agonizing fear that she had brought her to this distant place of sojourn but to witness her departing hours. Dear Lucie fully realized her situation, and remarked in a letter written to a young friend who had informed her of her approaching marriage-- 'O pray that I may be fitted for heaven -- I feel that I shall never be well again. I want to go -- I long for heaven -- free from sin, in the presence of Jesus forever: Is not this delightful to think of, as awaiting every ransomed sinner. And then in allusion to the projected union of her friend -- 'Let nothing intervene between your heavenly Friend and your own soul, to cast its dreadful shadow there, and interrupt its peace: -- in Him, all lawful things are doubly sweet.'
"Her journey home was accomplished after many detentions and painful circumstances; and her bedside was soon surrounded by the faithful pastor and beloved Christian friends, whom she had prayed so earnestly that she might be once more permitted to see. Truly thankful they feel, that this blessing was granted to them and to her; but whilst they realize that to them is committed the sacred charge of recording the scenes of that dying chamber, they feel that they are quite unable to fulfil the task.
"They gazed with tearful interest upon the intellectual and spiritual beauty which lighted the countenance of their loved one -- they listened to the eloquent outpourings of her rejoicing heart, so child-like in its holy access to the mercy seat, so tender in its love for them, with feelings of wonder which enfeebled the exercise of memory, and deprived them of descriptive power.
"The midnight hour was often passed in prayer and praise, and Christian converse; and when aroused from slumber, it was her first realization, 'When I awake, I am still with Thee.' A friend, who was much with her, repeated the verse--
Armed by faith and winged by prayer;
Heaven's eternal day's before thee,
God's own hand shall guide thee there.'
And the comment was made -- 'You are winged by prayer, Lucie!'
'No, I am not winged by prayer,' was the prompt response. 'I do mount up with wings as a young eagle, but I am always in the bosom of Jesus. I nestle there -- there is no winging nor flying!'
She exclaimed one day, 'Where is my precious mother? Oh, I do love my mother! She is so endeared! She does every thing for me that she can, she loves me so much -- but not so much as Jesus -- she could not die for me.' At other times, 'You do not know what I am to Jesus, and what Jesus is to me. I can never doubt. I can never cease to love. I long for heaven, but I love the will of Jesus better.'
When her mother expressed a fear that so much conversation would fatigue her, she said, 'When I speak of worldly things, I am wearied and exhausted, but when I speak of heavenly things, it refreshes my soul.'
"When some very beautiful flowers and grapes were sent her, one afternoon, she exclaimed -- 'How beautiful how lovely! those sweet moss roses, and that exquisite jessamine! how I do love them -- they are God's flowers!'
"She then returned most fervent thanksgiving to Him who had granted so many sources of enjoyment, and asked the Holy Spirit to rest upon the kind lady who had sent the flowers, and to attract to His service every member of her family.
"As her departing hour approached, she was asked 'Have you no moment of darkness?' 'Not one,' she replied; 'I am dying in my Saviour's arms, and I have nothing to do but look up and love.'
"But a short time before she went to heaven, when her system was so prostrated that she seemed incapable of effort, she asked for a slate, and wrote something which her friend, Miss E_______, whose society and sympathy were of priceless value, sought in vain to decipher. She said, at last, 'Dear Lucie, I cannot make out a word of this, with the exception of "Christ."' She looked disappointed, and raising herself upon the pillow, with unnatural energy, traced in plainest characters, 'The love of Christ can never be fully appreciated;' and when her friend responded, 'in this world,' she replied that this was her meaning.
"Miss E________, in attempting a description of this scene, observed, 'My whole soul fills with gratitude now, at the remembrance of the blessed testimony, which she called upon every energy of mind and body to bear to the preciousness of the Redeemer. The impression she gave me was, that her Saviour had become so increasingly precious to her soul, from day to day, that at last she felt herself absolutely lost in the contemplation of his exceeding love, that it could never here be fully experienced or understood.'
"Her faith and patience were often tested by the endurance of acute pain, and thus she sought relief -- 'Oh, my kind, my heavenly Physician, thou doest all things well! If it please thee, remove this suffering; nevertheless, not my will but thine be done always. I love the pain because thou sendest it. Oh, that thou wouldst glorify thyself in me, by me, through me, in whatsoever way thou wilt. Dear Saviour, precious Redeemer, how good thou art!'
"Once, when apparently dying, 'Lord, save me! Lord, help me in this trying hour! Lord, I am thine, bought with a price.'
"We are indebted for the following notes to a young lady whose retentive memory enables her to record some of our dear Lucie's remarks, and to describe a touching interview between our departed friend and a very youthful member of the Epiphany, to whom she was much attached:
" 'Oh,' she said, 'what beautiful order there is in this great work of our salvation! The blessed Trinity -- I never ever begin nor end my prayers without remembering it -- have such a share in my soul's redemption! The Father chose me in love; the Son died to purchase me unto himself; and then the precious Spirit was sent to tell me all this, and to bring me back to him in peace and love. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the glorious Three, all love me; and yet it is the glorious One, also, and he loves me; and all is laid up for me in Jesus. First, he intercedes for me, then he cleanses me from my sins, and gives me full forgiveness for them all; then he folds around me the beautiful robe of his own righteousness, and protects and secures me for ever. Oh! if there were a word more expressive than my precious Saviour, I would use it; but no word of human language is adequate to tell what I feel -- in heaven there will be! There I shall be enabled to express it all, and to those who can understand me! All is joy, and peace, and glory now in him.'
"She lies in her almost seraphic beauty, with the hectic flush on her cheek, and the brilliant light in her eye, with which consumption decks his victims, heightened by the glory of her almost realized hopes, looking already like one of the spirits in light, who rest not clay nor night praising the Lamb. The voice of prayer and praise is seldom stilled, and the only term which suggests itself to those who are permitted to listen to her, as fit to describe this continued flow of adoring love, is 'heavenly music.' Friend after friend is presented in fervent prayer at the throne of grace, and not even a draught of medicine nor a glass of water passes her lips until she has asked a blessing upon it. Even now, on her death-bed, she pursues her missionary work, which has occupied her life since she knew Jesus; and the singular discrimination with which she selects books suited to the minds of the various subjects of her affectionate interest, is most wonderful in one so young.
Sunday, June 15th. -- Through dear Miss E________'s kindness I have had the sweet privilege of listening to this favored child of God. During our short stay _______ came in. Her welcome was most affectionate and warm-hearted, and then she proceeded at once to tell him how she hoped he would love the Saviour. She trusted, she said, that he had received the forgiveness of his sins past, and urged him to remember them no more, since God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost had put them out of remembrance. He had new sins to repent of every day, new occasions to seek the Saviour's feet, and the blessed influences of his Holy Spirit. She said she hoped that he would be a faithful Christian and a minister of the gospel. Then she turned afresh to the theme of which she never tires, the glorious gospel scheme. 'Oh, Willie! what encouragement you have to seek the Saviour! I think he loves the little lambs of his flock with peculiar tenderness, and always carries them in his bosom. He says to each one of them, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." His work is perfect.'
" 'First. He intercedes for you, then he puts it into your heart to feel the burden of your sins, and to desire his forgiveness. He sends his blessed Spirit to teach you your need of him, and bring you to ask his mercy; then he gives you free and final pardon, and blots out all your sins -- folds around you the spotless robe of his righteousness. It must be a beautiful robe, Willie; for it is the work of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.' Then she gave him a sweet message for his little sister Helen, and the other children. 'Tell them,' she said, to ask daily for the influences of the Holy Spirit to lead them to trust in the lovely, precious Saviour, for that is the foundation of all religion, and it is the blessed Spirit's work to teach us (experimentally, I mean) to know and believe in Jesus. You must help to encourage them, Willie; perhaps the grace of God is already working in their hearts, and you must be ready to welcome its beginning. Oh! we must not despise the day of small things. Many a little heart has been chilled and hardened by the expression of a doubt of the reality of its religious feelings. We must teach little ones the danger of self-deception to suppose we do so. If but never suspect them or allow them we see what is amiss in them, we must kindly warn and earnestly pray for them, but not tell them we think they are deceiving themselves. Be much in prayer, Willie; I hope You love it.' When she spoke to him about forgetting his sins, she said, I am not afraid to tell you this, Willie; 'for I think you have the Holy Spirit in Your heart, and he will preserve you from self-deception.'
"A short time before her departure, as her mother entered the room, she remarked to her with a most seraphic countenance, 'My precious mother, have you thought of it? -- eternity! an eternity of happiness! I have been trying to take in the idea all the morning, that I am to enjoy an eternity of happiness-- just think of it!"
"Her last words were -- 'Holy! holy! holy!' "