Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of each deluded devotee may be written in a single sentence, "A deceived heart hath turned him aside."

4. Darkness has a power to destroy. Ages ago, in a city then the most magnificent in the world, a spectacle might have been seen, as imposing as it was impious. In the palace of Babylon a king and his nobles are feasting. Infatuated by the splendour of his seeming power, the insensate monarch, dares to insult the Most High, by praising other gods, and by bringing out the sacred vessels of the sanctuary to grace his banquet. Fast flows the wine, high rises the mirth, bold flashes the blasphemy! All know an enemy is near, but with the broad Euphrates between them they fear him not. But in the darkness the current of that river is turned; the battalions of Darius surround the scene of revelry; soon those palace walls resound with the clash of arms, and with the shrieks of the wounded and dying; nor does the chief criminal escape the sword of avenging justice, for "in that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain." Like Belshazzar many a sinner, whilst not dreaming of danger, is cut down just as he is aroused from his false security, destroyed by "the power of darkness," and dying in the dark! In the darkness many a noble vessel has gone down, shattered by some unseen rock, or struck by another ship seen too late. If the vast host who lie unburied in the caves of the ocean could speak, what graphic testimony would they bear to " the power of darkness;" and if from an abyss deeper and darker still, the spirits of the lost could rise up and speak, how appalling would be their testimony to "the power of darkness"! Can we, then, who have been delivered, be too grateful to our Deliverer P Can those still in darkness seek deliverance too earnestly? Those who put off repentance until the hour of death often awake to a sense of their danger when there is "no place for repentance." At Inkermann our brave soldiers, attacked by the Russian host under cover of a thick fog, were almost lost before they became aware of their peril; and thousands of stout hearts that beat high and fast that morning were stilled in death before victory crowned the British flag. To be taken by surprise is to be taken at a disadvantage. "Be ye therefore ready also; for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not."

The Pithay, Bristol.

THE SAVIOUR'S DEPAKTUEE.

"It is expedient for you that I go away."—/oft i xvi.

My Saviour, can it ever be
That I should gain by losing thee?
The watchful mother tarries nigh,
Though sleep has closed her infant's eye;
But I am weaker than a child,

And thou art more than mother dear;
AVithout thee heaven were but a wild:

How shall I live without thee here?

O fainting soul, arise and sing;
Mount, but be sober on the wing;
Mount up, for heaven is won by prayer;
Be sober, for thou art not there;
Walk thou by faith and not by sight;

Take it on trust a little while;
Soon shalt thou read the mystery right

In the full sunshine of his smile.

[ocr errors]

THE DREAMS THAT CAME TRUE.

Justice Wilvbemobe was lying in a comfortable chamber; the heavy damask curtains were drawn on each side of him, and a down quilt was spread over him.

It was a bitter, bitter night, but a clear wood fire burnt upon the hearth; and though be could hear the wind moaning outside among the leafless trees, and the sharp sleet driving against his windows, not a waft of the first came through to make him shiver; and as for snow or Bleet, he was not troubled with thesightof them; for when he looked towards his window, he only saw the dancing, flickering flame shining on his crimson curtains.

As he lay awake that night do you think he was occupied in reflecting on what a good thing it was for him that a warm roof, an ample supper, and abundant clothing, were protecting him from the wind and cold?

Nothing of the kind. He had all his life been accustomed to live in abundance and luxury. If his fire had burnt badly, his curtains been left undrawn, or his supper ill cooked, he would no doubt have been very angry, and would have occupied himself for a long time in thinking of the neglect, ignorance, and stupidity of his servants. As it was, they had merely done their duty; and as for him, he had a right to be wait i d on, for he could pay his attendants. He had a right to eat, wear, and use the best of everything, for the same reason. He had been born to a good estate, and could not remember the time when these things had been otherwise. Therefore, when he heard the wind and the Bleet, he never considered what a good thing it was that he was not exposed to them.

What, then, did he think about? Did he think what a sad thing it was, that along the valley which stretched away under h)B windows, and up the bleak hill-side beyond it, and on either side the frozen sheet of water, should stand those old halfruined cottages, whose rattling casements and ill-thatched roofs let in both wind and snow to the half-clad, half-fed inmates? No, certainly not. Why should he have been occupied with them on that particular night more than on all other nights? He had always been accustomed to f03 then).

Of course, the people who inhabited them were poor; he could never remember the time when some of them had not been sick and complaining. The hovels were quite an eyesore—so shabby and forlorn; but it was not worth his while to build better ones— that would only encourage more paupers to come to his estate. What reason could there be for his thinking of them just then? They had been born to poverty; and if they had not provided against the cold and the snow, they were at least well accustomed to endure their rigour. Nothing new had come upon them.

I cannot tell what he was thinking about, I only know that while the little flames were still creeping over the logs of hiB fire he fell asleep, and after a while he began to dream.

He dreamt that some person was kneeling in front of his fire. He could not see the figure very distinctly; but it seemed to shiver, and spread out two trembling hands towards the flame. It was clad in a thin and scanty cloak.

"Dear me 1" exclaimed the Justice, in his dream; "that's old Susan Morley I What business has she to intrude here in those faded tatters, and warm herself at my fire? How dare she? I'll ring the bell."

He was just putting out his hand when he perceived another figure close at his side.

"Who are you?" exclaimed the Justice, very much startled; for the fire had burnt low, and he could only discern the dark outline of this new intruder.

He thought, in his dream, that the figure moved a step backward, but made no answer.

"Who are you?" shouted the Justice, in a great passion; "how dare you disturb my rest? I'll make you pay dearly for it. Who are you?"

Instead of answering, the figure turned towards the fire, and pointing to the old woman, said, in a calm cold voice, " Who is that?"

"Who is that!" repeated the Justice, somewhat awed by the solemn manner t "that is old Susan Morley, a pauper, and one of my tenants. I sent her to prison some time ago for stealing wood. I'll take her up again to-morrow for breaking into my house at night."

p

The figure, on hearing this, was silent. The Justice, in his dream, began to hope that these unwelcome visitors would retire; but he was disappointed, for presently the serious voice began again.

"Into your house," it said, "by night or day, I shall freely and constantly come; and whomsoever I choose I shall always bring with me. I came here to-night to know from you the history of this woman."

"You may tell it yourself, if it is to be told to-night," said the Justice hardily. "I dare say you know it as well as I do."

"I will," was the answer.

"And you may tell her first to move aside," continued the Justice, in his dream, "for she kneels between me and the light and warmth."

"She does," replied the figure, "and so from henceforth she will."

Never before had he heard a voice so steady and Btern; but he did not fear it so much ae the silence which followed.

"Whoever you may be," he said at length, "speak out and tell me your errand."

"This woman," the voice began, "was born into the world on the same day that you were. Sixty-three years of prosperity, comfort, ease, and abundance, find you hale and hearty at the end of them. Sixty-three years of pining poverty, care, sickness, and toil, have made her a broken-down woman, bent with the infirmities of an early old age. She lias lived within sight of your doors— she has seen your abundance—and you have seen her poverty; have you sent her food from your overloaded table, or fuel from your woods? or have you repaired the brokendown hovel in which she dwells?"

The Justice was Bilent for awhile; then he answered, in a low voice, "I have paid her her wages."

"She has laboured all her life on your lands, and you have paid her her wages? Were those wages sufficient to supply her moderate wants? Did she never complain i"

"Not very often," Baid the Justice, in his dream; "the last time was more than three y^ars ago."

"And what did she say then?"

"She said she lived very hard, and her wages could scarcdy keep soul and body together."

"And your answer?"

"My answer was, that if I raised one, I must raise all; and my wages were the same as my neighbours'."

"(Jo on."

The Justice was constrained to proceed) for the questioner stooped towards him and listened for his answer.

"She said my neighbour's lady was charitable, and gave away coals and clothing to the labourers, especially the old. I replied, that I had no wish that she should continue to work for me; she was welcome to go to my neighbour."

"And what then?"

"She answered that she hoped I was not offended; Bhe would not have spoken, if she had not been getting lame and past her beet days."

"To which you replied ?—"

"That I should be deeply offended if it over happened again, especially if she ever dared to stop me with her complaints-at the church door."

"And what did she say to that?"

"Nothing."

"Then, have you never spoken with her since?"

"Yes, I committed her last winter, for stealing fagots from my wood."

"Did you investigate the matter with care? Did you fully weigh the evidence?"

"I—I—gave it the usual amount of attention," said the Judge, uneasily.

"Did she plead guilty?"

"No; she made protestations of innocence."

"Her neighbours came to petition you, did they not? that as this was the first accusation against her, you would be pleased to overlook it? And you replied, that many fagots had been stolen lately, and you were resolved to make an example of the very first thief that was detected. They replied that they did not believe Bhe was the thief. Were you fully convinced of it youraelf?"

"I thought it possible she might not be guilty," replied the Justice, trembling; "but-"

"But what?" said the voice. "Speak out!"

"But I had been worried by their importunities; and the pilfering I was resolved to stop."

"Has anything happened since she came out of prison to make you think her sentence was unjust? Have you received the confession of any other person, or heard anything which makes you doubt?"

Toe Justice was silent.

"If you have, then,without question,you have endeavoured to make reparation, and you have proclaimed her innocence to the world?"

"Ho,''said the JuBtice, in his dream; "I could not humble myself to a beggar: I kept my knowledge to myself."

By this time, as it seemed to Justice Wilvermore, the last glow of his wood fire had died away, and the figure of the old woman had disappeared in the gloom. He, however, continued to dream on: he thought the figure by his side drew nearer still; and, through the darkness these words fell upon his ears in a voice indescribably stern, distinct, and cold:—

"Into these doors," it said, " which you have closed against the poor, this woman from henceforth shall always come. However bright may be your fire, this woman shall stand between you and its light and warmth. The remembrance of her hunger shall male your richest meals unpalatable. In your dreams alone you shall make reparation; and waking you shall never forget."

"■What is your name?" oried the Justice. "Tell me by what right you sentence methui?"

"It is well that you should know my Mme," replied the figure, "since you and I m future must dwell together: I am known among mankind as Remorse."

Upon hearing this, the Justice cried out, and woke in affright. The dying embers still cast a ruddy glow over the walls and ceiling: he glanced around—all was quiet, TM he was indeed alone. "I have had a jarful dream," ho said, "a nightmare terror j but I will take warning by it. Bemorse shall never dwell with me, for I will make full reparation: I will be just— \ will be charitable—I will make amends foraU.'*

THIS WAS THE TIEST DEEA.M.

The cottage stood near the edge of a long, tfozen sheet of water. The pieroing wind snook its frail casements, and drove snow TM sleet through the chinks of its ill-fit»"g door. A candle had been burning, M it had died out in the socket; the wrnty fire had gone out also, and the P>te was getting cold.

-"> old woman sat close to the embers nP<m her only chair. It was the dead of yk Through the clear, -cold sky, a "wonbeam fell along her floor; she had no

2*m to keeP {t out She tremDled with 01(1 i yet she did not go to her comfortless

°TMi she rocked herself slowly backward

w« forward, and thought and thought.

TMnething was lying on her lap j it was a

"W. Hw candle, when it went out, left

her still poring over its pages. She folded her hands upon it, and sat like one lost in a waking dream, so deep that neither hunger nor cold could disturb it.

Let us draw near and consider her more attentively. Her features are sharp and thin; two or three tears have dropped down her hoEow cheeks; a narrow drift of pure white snow lies along the floor, and reaches nearly to her chair j you may see the moonlight glittering down the chink in the door, through which it drifted! O! east wind; O! white snow, and blue, cold moonlight! What different things you are to us and to her !" Let us draw near the fire," we say, " and close the curtains, that we may enjoy this cheerful season. Nothing is pleasanter than this brisk, cold weather; it gives us an appetite, and makes exercise delightful!"

What does she say? Nothing. What does she think about? Her empty cupboard? No: she is familiar with want and hunger; she seldom has1 more bread than will last to the end of each day. What then—does Bhe think of the cold? No: she feels it and trembles; she has felt it often and long.

Does she think what a sad thing it is to live all one's life in the want of all comforts and luxuries? No. Her thoughts are not very distinct, but she does not consciously think of any of these things. She folds her hands over the book; she gradually falls away into a faint sleep, and begins to dream.

What a strange, delightful dream! She thinks that the sun begins to shine; it shines upon the pages of her Bible; it shines into her cottage, and it is all light and warm. She turns her head towards her casement, and what a wonderful sight! The trees are covered with leaves, and the snow has all melted away! Yet in her dream she knows it is winter, and she takes up her Bible, kneels down, and begins to pray. She remembers that country where there is no winter, no cold, no hunger; but her longing is not so much to escape from this sorrowful world, as to go to that beloved Redeemer who opened the golden gates of the better country for her.

She dreams that in her prayer Bhe still repeats, "Oh! come Lord Jesus, come quickly!" and that far, far away, she hears a sound like distant footsteps, and they draw gradually near her door.

Yes! they draw near and yet more near. A joy that is indescribable, and never le!t before, steals into her heart while she listens to these welcome footsteps. She is afraid; full of wonder and awe, yet joyful: she strains her attention, and still listens; she would not lo3e one of them.

Hush! they are very near: they stop. Some one calls to her by her name, and knocks at her door.

Then she starts up, and opens her door. She falls down upon her knees, and covers her face with her hands. "I am not worthy," she says, in her dream, "that hou shouldst come under my roof; but I beseech thee, Lord, since thou hast deigned to visit me, go away from me no more."

Oh! wonderful voice j so sweet, that the remembrance of poverty and sorrow fade away before it. It speaks again to her in her dream;—"To-morrow," it says, "thou shalt be with me in paradise."

THIS WAS THE SECOND DREAM.

It was morning—a cold, keen winter's morning. Justice Wilvermore was coming down-stairs. "Bring me my cloak," he says to his man.

"Before breakfast, sir?" inquires the man, surprised.

"Yes, bring it now," says the Justice. "It is very strange," he thinks to himself, "that a mere dream should have such an effect on my spirits, but so it is. I really can neither eat nor rest till I have made reparation. I will give the old woman money and clothing. I will repair the cottages of my other labourers, and improve their condition. It is a fearful thing to be visited by Bemorse, even in a dream. Never will I subject myself to such a visit again."

He walks quickly across the frozen field, and along the side of the water. The reeds are stiff with frost; they whistle cheerlessly in the wind. He sees the cottage; no smoke rises from its chimney. "In future," he Bays, "the woman shall have leave to gather as much wood as she wants. I will make reparation. Yes, I will make full reparation."

He drawB near. The door stands ajar, and there is enow upon the floor; he knocks; there is no answer. "She is not at home," he says, and then he looks in.

Yes, she is at home ; she sits before her empty grate, with a book upon her knee; her head is bowed down. Strange that she should sleep so early! His foot is on the floor, he soon crosses it. "Gcody," he says, in a k>nder voice than usual, " Goody,

what! asleep so early?" He shakes her by the sleeve, but she does not wake; then he lays his hand upon hers, and it is cold!

Justice Wilvermore goes home. His face is more grave and his voice more compassionate from that day forward. He has repaired the cottages of his labourers; lie has liberally given to the poor, he has made many of the old happy and at ease. But ease and happiness are over for him. He has repented, and he humbly hopes that his sin has been forgiven : but in this world he can never be happy, for night after night, both waking and asleep, he must dwell with that visitor who came to him in his dream.

THE STOBY OP LITTLE PATCHY

POB BOYS TO BEAD AND PKOSIT BY.

"How are you, little Patchy?" exclaimed William Brooks, a tall, well-dressed boy, as one of his schoolmates, with large patches on the knees of his trousers, came into the yard. "Cloth is cheap down your way, isn't it? Your mother seems very liberal in the quantity she has stuck oil your knees. Come Tim," he continued, turning toward another well-dressed boy, "let us see if Patchy's mother hasn't used glue on his pants, for I don't believe she can sew as nicely as that."

The two boys started toward the trembling child. "You shan't tear my clothes!" he cried, as William caught his fingers under the edge of one of the patches, "for mother sat up half the night to mend them, and I'll tell the teacher if you don't let me alone."

"Tell the teacher, will you? I should like to see you telling of me. My father would tip you and your mother out of his shanty before you could say Jack Kobinson, if you did Buch a thing as that. Now, go and tell," he continued, as he ripped one of the patches nearly off, leaving Samuel Ward's bare knee exposed.

Samuel, instead of telling the teacher as he had threatened, turned toward home, with the tears running down his rosy cheeks.

"Here, Sam Patch, why don't you tell?" William added, as he followed behind Samuel. "Ah! I knew you wouldn't dare do it. You'd find that shanty a more comfortable place to sleep in to-night than the street, so you'd better trot home and get your mother to mend your clothes; or,

« AnteriorContinuar »