COUPLE HEAVEN WITH IT
Several years ago, one hot summer day, on the old road leading from Rochdale to Bury, near the Oaken Road, a tall, thin, old man had just laid down a heavy burden on a low stone wall at the road side. His burden was a large skip, full of coarse cotton “cops,” which he was fetching from Spodden Mill. As I neared the man, he was wiping the sweat from his bald head and face with a coarse cotton rag he had taken out of his pocket. Many times had I held the most delightful conversation with this old Christian; having had much forgiven, he loved much. Till nearly sixty he had lived without God and without hope; when
the change came, it was a change indeed; God’s providence, grace, and goodness were his daily themes. He joined the Church at Bamford, and, fine weather or foul, James was found in his pew. The moment I saw him, I determined to put his faith to the test.
“Well, how are you to-day, James?” I inquired.
“Very well John, I am happy to say; how are you?”
Just then a very costly carriage, drawn by two valuable horses, was passing. The only occupant of the carriage was a stout, red-faced gentleman; with arms folded, he was leaning back at his ease.
“Do you know that gorgeous equipage, and the fat gentleman?” I inquired.
“Yes, and so do you,” was James’s answer.
“Well, and what do you think of the Providence of which you sometimes speak? You see yonder man; you know he is an ungodly man, yet he spreadeth himself like a green bay tree, his eyes stand out with fatness, he is not plagued as other men; while you, believing that all the silver and the gold are the Lord’s, serving Him, and trusting in His providence, are toiling and sweating in your old age for about seven shillings a-week, getting little more than bread and water,Â—how can you reconcile this with a just Providence?”
James looked at me with amazement, and, with the greatest earnestness, replied, “Are you trying me, John?Â—are you trying me? COUPLE HEAVEN WITH IT!Â—couple heaven with it, and then.”
Never shall I forget the old man’s answer. Amidst the many sorrows through which I have had to pass from that moment to this, “Couple heaven with it,” has sweetened many a bitter cup.
Passing his house about three months after seeing him resting his burden on Bury Road, I, as usual, called to see him. Strangers were there; and on inquiring what had become of old James, the answer was, “He is dead, sir, and buried in Bamford Chapel-yard.” In that burying ground lay my own parents. I went to visit this, to me, interesting locality. On the grave of James the stone was laid, and, in letters newly engraved, I read, “Here resteth the body of James Lord, aged seventy-three.” As I stood over the grave, the hot summer day, the heavy burden, the sweating old Christian, the rolling carriage, and fat squire (since dead), all came fresh to my memory; and from that grave the voice again sounded, “Couple heaven with it!”
“The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.”