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The Good Brother And Sister Post by :petero Category :Essays Author :Lydia H. Sigourney Date :November 2011 Read :1705

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The Good Brother And Sister

Jacob Bicks was a native of Leyden, in Holland, and born in the year 1657. His parents were religious, and gave strict attention to his early education, and their efforts were rewarded. He became tenderly conscientious, and in all his conduct sought to obey them and please God.

When the plague raged in Holland, in 1664, he was seized with the fatal infection. At first he seemed drowsy and lethargic, but during his waking intervals, was observed to be engaged in prayer.

"This," said he, "gives me comfort in my distress."

Perceiving that he suffered pain, he was asked if he would like again to see the physician.

"No," he earnestly answered, "I wish to have him no more. The Lord will help me, for I well know that He is about to take me to himself."

"Dear child," said his father, "this grieves us to the heart."

"Father," answered the meek sufferer, "let us pray. The Lord will be near for my helper."

After prayer, he spoke with a stronger and more joyful voice, his parting words,

"Come now, father and mother, come and kiss me, I feel that I am to die. Farewell, dear parents, farewell, dear sister, farewell all. Now shall I go to heaven, and to the holy angels. Remember ye not what is said by Jeremiah, 'Blessed is he who trusteth in the Lord.' I trust in Him, and lo! he blesseth me. 'Little children, love not the world, for it passeth away.' Away then with the pleasant things of the world, away with my toys, away with my books, in heaven I shall have a sufficiency of the true wisdom without them."

"God will be near thee," said the father. "He shall uphold thee."

"It is written," answered the child, "that He giveth grace unto the humble. I shall humble myself under His mighty hand, and He will lift me up."

"Hast thou indeed, so strong a faith, my dear son?" asked the afflicted father.

"Yes," said the dying boy, "He hath given me this strong faith in Jesus Christ. He that believeth on Him hath everlasting life, and shall overcome the wicked one. I believe in Jesus Christ, my Redeemer. He will never leave nor forsake me. He will give me eternal life. He will let me sing, 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.'"

Then, with his failing breath, they heard upon his lips the softly murmured prayer, "Lord, be merciful to me a poor sinner," as with a trusting smile his spirit passed away, just as he had completed his seventh year.

His sister, Susanna, seven years older than himself, was smitten by the same terrible pestilence, a few weeks after his death. She had been from the beginning a child of great sweetness of disposition, attentive to her studies, and so faithful in her religious duties as to be considered an example for other young persons, and even for older Christians.

Bending beneath the anguish of her disease, like a crushed and beautiful flower she sustained herself and comforted others with the words of that Blessed Book, in which was her hope.

"If Thy law were not my delight, I should perish in this my affliction. Be merciful to me, oh Father! be merciful to me a sinner, according unto thy word."

Fixing her eyes tenderly upon her mourning parents, she said,

"Cast your burden upon the Lord. He shall sustain you. He will never suffer the righteous to be moved. Therefore, dearest mother, be comforted. He will cause all things to go well that concern you."

Her mother answered with tears,

"O, our dear child, God, by his grace, hath given me great comfort in thee, in thy religious temper, and thy great attention to reading the Scriptures, prayer, and pious discourse, edifying us as well as thyself. He, even He Himself, who gave thee to us, make up this loss, if it be His pleasure to take thee away."

"Dear mother, though I must leave you, and you me, God will never leave either of us. Is it not written, Can a woman forget her child? Yea, she may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands. Oh! most comfortable words, both for parents and child."

Fatigued with speaking, she fell into a deep slumber, and on awaking, asked what day it was. She was told it was Sabbath morning.

"Father, have you commended me to be remembered in the prayers of the Church?"

"Yes, my daughter."

"This comforts me. For I have learned to believe that the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much."

She had a peculiarly warm and grateful love for her teachers and pastor, and a veneration for all ministers of the Gospel. She delighted to listen to their conversation wherever she met them, and counted any attention from them as an honour. But now, she would not consent that they should approach her, lest they might take the fearful disease that was hurrying her to the tomb.

"I will not expose their valuable lives," she said. "I cast myself wholly upon the mercies of God. His word is my comforter."

Her knowledge of the Scriptures was uncommon. She had committed large portions of it to memory, which gave hallowed themes to her meditation, and naturally mingled with her discourse in these solemn, parting moments.

She felt a deep desire for the progress of true religion, whose worth she was now able more fully to appreciate than in the days of health. One morning, she was found bathed in tears, and when the cause was inquired, exclaimed,

"Have I not cause to weep? Our dear minister was taken ill in his pulpit this morning, and went home very sick. Is it not a sign of God's displeasure against our country, when such a faithful pastor is smitten?"

She had shed no tear for her own severe pains, but she bemoaned the sufferings of others, and the afflictions that threatened the Church. Of her own merits she entertained a most humble opinion, and would often repeat with deep feeling,

"The sacrifices of God are a contrite heart. A broken and a contrite spirit He will not despise. I desire that brokenness of heart which flows from faith, and that faith which is built upon Christ, the only sacrifice for sin."

Waking from a troubled sleep, she said in a faint voice,

"O dear father, dear mother, how very weak I am."

"God in his tender mercy," said the sorrowing parents, "strengthen your weakness."

"Yea, this is my confidence. A bruised reed will He not break, and the smoking flax will He not quench."

Her parents, surprised and moved at a piety so far beyond her years, could not refrain from a strong burst of tears at the affliction that awaited them in her loss. Greatly grieved at their sorrow, she soothed them and argued with them against its indulgence.

"Oh! why should you so weep over me? Is it not the good Lord that takes me out of this miserable world? Shall it not be well with me, through all eternity? Ought you not to be satisfied, seeing God is in heaven, and doeth whatsoever he pleaseth? Do you not pray every day, that His will may be done? Should we not be content when our prayers are answered? Is not extreme sorrow murmuring against Him? Although I am struck with this sad disease, yet because it is His will, let that silence us. For as long as I live, shall I pray, that His will, and not mine, be done."

She then spoke of the plague that was raging throughout the country with violence, and said she chose to consider it as the especial allotment of the Almighty, and not, as some supposed, the result of disorder in the elements. After a pause, she added,

"This is the day appointed for explaining the first question in the Catechism. Were I able to meet with the class, I should hear, that whether in life or death, a true believer is the Lord's. Then be comforted, for whether I live or die, I am his. Oh! why do you afflict yourselves so? Yet, with weeping came I into this world, and with weeping must I go out. But, dear parents, better is the day of my death, than the day of my birth."

She requested her father to go to those who had instructed her in religion, and catechized her, and thank them in the name of a dying child, and tell them how precious was the memory of their words, now in the time of her extreme distress. She desired, also, that her gratitude might be expressed to those who had taught her, when very young, to read and work, and to all who had at any time shown her kindness and attention. When he told her of the satisfaction he had enjoyed in her proficiency in the various branches she had pursued, especially in her study of the Bible, her readiness to express her thoughts in writing, her constant filial obedience, and reverence for the ordinances of religion, she replied with a touching humility and sweetness,

"I bless God for granting me the means of education, and the example of such parents and ministers. This is a far better portion than gold, for thus have I been enabled to comfort myself from His Holy Book, with a comfort that the world could never have afforded."

"My child," said her mournful father, "I perceive that you are very weak."

"It is true, Sir, and my weakness increases. I see that your affliction also, increases, and this is a part of my affliction. Yet be content, I pray you, and let us both say with David, 'Let me now fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercies are great.'"

She besought her parents not to indulge in immoderate grief, when she should be taken away. She adduced the example of the King of Israel, who after the death of his child, arose, and took refreshment, saying, "He is dead. Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." So ought you to say, when I am no longer here, 'Our child is well.' Dear mother, who has done so much for me, promise me this one thing before I die, not to sorrow too much for me. I am afraid of your great affliction. Consider other losses. Remember Job. Forget not what Christ foretold: 'In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.'"

While thus comforting those whom she loved out of the Scriptures, it seemed as if she herself attained greater confidence of faith, for she exclaimed with a joyful voice:

"Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? I am persuaded, neither life, nor death, nor angels, principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature. Behold, Death is swallowed up in victory."

Afterwards, she spoke of the shortness of human life, quoting passages from the Bible, and of the necessary law of our nature, appointing that all who are born must die. Wisdom far beyond her years, flowed from her lips, for she had early sat at the feet of Jesus, and learned his holy word.

"And now, what shall I say? I cannot continue long, for I feel much weakness. O Lord, look upon me graciously, have pity upon me. I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. Dearest parents, we must shortly part. My speech faileth me. Pray for a quiet close to my combat."

She expressed, at various times during her sickness, the most earnest solicitude for the souls of many of her relatives, solemnly requesting and enforcing that her young sister should be religiously educated. Throwing her emaciated arms around her, she embraced her with great affection, and desired that the babe of six months old might be brought her once more. With many kisses she took her last farewell, and those who stood around the bed were greatly affected at the tender parting of these affectionate children.

"I go," said the dying one, "to heaven, where we shall find each other again. I go to Jesus Christ. I go to my dear brother, who did so much cry and call upon God, to the last moment of his breath. I go to my little sister, who was but three years old when she died. Yet when we asked her if she would die, she answered, 'Yes, if it be the Lord's will: or I will stay with my mother, if it be His will; but yet, I know that I shall die and go to heaven and to God.' Oh! see how so small a babe could behave itself so submissively to the will of God, as if it had no will of its own. Therefore, dear father and mother, give the Lord thanks for this his free and rich grace: and then I shall the more gladly be gone. Be gracious, then, O Lord, unto me, also: be gracious unto me. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."

Prayer was offered for her, and her spirit seemed anew refreshed with a sense of pardon and reconciliation to her Father in heaven. She conversed with pleasure of the last sermon that she had been permitted to hear in the house of God, little supposing at that time, her mortal sickness was so near. With surprising accuracy, she quoted several texts that had been used in the different parts of that discourse, proving with what profound attention she had listened, and how perfectly her retentive powers were preserved to the last.

She lay some time, absorbed in mental devotion, and then raising her head from her feverish pillow, besought her parents to forgive the errors of her childhood, and every occasion throughout her whole life, wherein she had grieved them or given them trouble. Then, with a clear judgment, she addressed herself to the only unfinished business of earth, the distribution of her books and other articles that she had considered her own. To her little brother she made an earnest request, that he would never part with the copy of 'Lectures on the Catechism,' that she gave him, but study it faithfully for her sake, and in remembrance of her. Being seized with a sharp and severe pain in her breast, she said that she felt assured her last hour drew nigh. Her parents, suppressing their grief, repeated their hope and trust, that God would support her in the last dread extremity.

In a dying voice, yet clear and animated by unswerving faith, she replied,

"He is my shepherd. Though I walk through the dark valley of the shadow of death, shall I fear when He comforteth me? The sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed.

My end approacheth. Now shall I put on white raiment, and be clothed before the Lamb with a spotless righteousness. Angels are ready to carry me to the throne of God." Her last words were,

"Lord God, into thy hands, I commend my spirit. Oh Lord! be gracious, be merciful to me a poor sinner."

Thus fell asleep, on the evening of the first of September, 1664, at the early age of fourteen, one, who for profound knowledge of the pages of Inspiration, judgment in applying them, love of their spirit, and faith in their promises, might serve as an example not only to those of her own age, but to Christians of hoary hairs. This good brother and sister teach, both in life and death, the priceless value of religious nurture, and of the fear and love of God, infused into the tender truthful heart.


(The end)
Lydia H. Sigourney's essay: Good Brother And Sister

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