Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

all else fell away. The sublimity of dis- is ! think of those awful ages of eterniinterested benevolence,- the harmony ty! and then think of all God's power and order of a system tending in its final and knowledge used on the lost to make results to infinite happiness,—the good them suffer! think that all but the merness of God,- the love of a self-sacrificing est fragment of mankind have gone into Redeemer,— were all so many glorious this, - are in it now! The number of pictures, which she revolved in her mind the elect is so small we can scarce count with small care for their logical rela- them for anything! Think what noble tions.

minds, what warm, generous hearts, what Mrs. Marvyn had never, in all the splendid natures are wrecked and thrown course of their intimacy, opened her away by thousands and tens of thousands! mouth to Mary on the subject of religion. How we love each other! how our hearts It was not an uncommon incident of weave into each other! how more than those times for persons of great elevation glad we should be to die for each other! and purity of character to be familiarly And all this ends O God, how must known and spoken of as living under a it end? – Mary! it isn't my sorrow only! cloud of religious gloom; and it was sim- What right have I to mourn ? Is my ply regarded as one more mysterious in- son any better than any other mothstance of the workings of that infinite de er's son ? Thousands of thousands, whose cree which denied to them the special mothers loved them as I love mine, illumination of the Spirit.

are gone there!- Oh, my wedding-day! When Mrs. Marvyn had drawn Mary Why did they rejoice ? Brides should with her into her room, she seemed like wear mourning, - the bells should toll a person

almost in frenzy. She shut and for every wedding; every new family is bolted the door, drew her to the foot of built over this awful pit of despair, and the bed, and, throwing her arms round only one in a thousand escapes !" her, rested her hot and throbbing fore- Pale, aghast, horror-stricken, Mary head on her shoulder. She pressed her stood dumb, as one who in the dark and thin hand over her eyes, and then, sud- storm sees by the sudden glare of lightdenly drawing back, looked her in the ning a chasm yawning under foot. It face as one resolved to speak something was amazement and dimness of anguish ; long suppressed. Her soft brown eyes - the dreadful words struck on the very had a flash of despairing wildness in centre where her soul rested. She felt them, like that of a hunted animal turn- as if the point of a wedge were being ing in its death-struggle on its pursuer.

driven between her life and her life's Mary,” she said, "I can't help it, life, - between her and her God. She don't mind what I say, but I must speak clasped her hands instinctively on her or die! Mary, I cannot, will not be re- bosom, as if to hold there some cherished signed !- it is all hard, unjust, cruel!- image, and said in a piercing voice of to all eternity I will say so! To me supplication, “ My God! my God! oh, there is no goodness, no justice, no mercy where art Thou?” in anything! Life seems to me the most Mrs. Marvyn walked up and down the tremendous doom that can be inflicted room with a vivid spot of red in each on a helpless being! What had we done, cheek and a baleful fire in her eyes, that it should be sent upon us? Why, talking in rapid soliloquy, scarcely rewere we made to love so, to hope so, garding her listener, absorbed in her our hearts so full of feeling, and all the own enkindled thoughts. laws of Nature marching over us,

“ Dr. Hopkins says that this is all best, er stopping for our agony? Why, we - better than it would have been in any can suffer so in this life that we had other possible way, — that God chose it better never have been born!

because it was for a greater final good, “ But, Mary, think what a moment life that He not only chose it, but took means

66

nev

[ocr errors]

to make it certain,- that He ordains ev- ble, with an air of heartbroken dejecery sin, and does all that is necessary to tion. “Since she heard this news, she make it certain, - that He creates the has not slept nor shed a tear. The Lord vessels of wrath and fits them for destruc- hath covered us with a cloud in the day tion, and that He has an infinite knowl- of his fierce anger." edge by which He can do it without vio- He came into the room, and tried to lating their free agency.—So much the take his wife into his arms. She pushed worse! What a use of infinite knowl- him violently back, her eyes glistening edge! What if men should do so? What with a fierce light. “ Leave me alone!” if a father should take means to make it she said, “I am a lost spirit!” certain that his poor little child should be These words were uttered in a shriek an abandoned wretch, without violating that went through Mary's heart like an his free agency? So much the worse, I arrow. say ! — They say He does this so that He At this moment, Candace, who had may show to all eternity, by their exam- been anxiously listening at the door for ple, the evil nature of sin and its conse- an hour past, suddenly burst into the quences! This is all that the greater part room. of the human race have been used for “ Lor bress ye, Squire Marvyn, we yet; and it is all right, because an over- won't hab her goin' on dis yer way,” she plus of infinite happiness is yet to be said. “Do talk gospel to her, can't ye? wrought out by it!— It is not right! No - ef you can't, I will." possible amount of good to ever “ Come, ye poor little lamb,” she said, many can make it right to deprave év: walking straight up to Mrs. Marvyn, er so few ;-- happiness and misery can- come to ole Candace !”—and with that not be measured so! I never can think she gathered the pale form to her bosom, it right, - never!-- Yet they say our sals and sat down and began rocking her, as vation depends on our loving God,— lov- if she had been a babe. “Honey, daring Him better than ourselves -- loving lin', ye a'n't right,—dar's a drefful misHim better than our dearest friends.— It take somewhar,” she said. “Why, de is impossible ! — it is contrary to the laws Lord a'n't like what ye tink, - He loves of my nature ! I can never love God! I ye, honey! Why, jes' feel how I loves can never praise Him!- I am lost I lost! ye, – poor ole black Candace, - an' I lost! And what is worse, I cannot re- a'n't better'n Him as made me! Who deem my friends! Oh, I could suffer for- was it wore de crown o' thorns, lamb?— ever, - how willingly !-- if I could save who was it sweat great drops o' blood ? him!—But oh, eternity, eternity! Fright- who was it said, 'Father, forgive dem'? ful, unspeakable woe! No end !-- no bot- Say, honey !- wasn't it de Lord dat made tom! — no shore ! — po hope ! - O God! ye?- Dar, dar, now ye'r' cryin'! - cry O God!”

away, and ease yer poor little heart! He Mrs. Marvyn's eyes grew wilder,--she died for Mass'r Jim, — loved him and walked the floor, wringing her hands - died for him, — jes’ give up his sweet, and her words, mingled with shrieks and precious body and soul for him on de moans, became whirling and confused, cross! Laws, jes' leave him in Jesus' as when in autumn a storm drives the hands! Why, honey, dar's de very print leaves in dizzy mazes.

o de nails in his hands now!” Mary was alarmed,—the ecstasy of de- The flood-gates were rent; and healing spair was just verging on insanity. She sobs and tears shook the frail form, as a rushed out and called Mr. Marvyn. faded lily shakes under the soft rains of

“Oh! come in ! do! quick !— I'm afraid summer. All in the room wept togethher mind is going!" she said.

“ It is what I feared," he said, rising “Now, honey,” said Candace, after a from where he sat reading his great Bi- pause of some minutes, “I knows our

er.

Doctor's a mighty good man, an' larned, 'cause, as we's got to live in dis yer —an'in fair weather I ha'n't no 'bjection world, it's quite clar de Lord must ha' to yer hearin' all about dese yer great an' fixed it so we can; and ef tings was mighty tings he's got to say. But, honey, as some folks suppose, why, we couldn't dey won't do for you now; sick folks live, and dar wouldn't be no sense in mus'n't hab strong meat; an' times like anyting dat goes on.” dese, dar jest a'n't but one ting to come to, The sudden shock of these scenes was an' dat ar’s Jesus. Jes' come right down followed, in Mrs. Marvyn's case, by a low, to whar poor ole black Candace has to lingering fever. Her room was darkened, stay allers, - it's a good place, darlin'! and she lay on her bed, a pale, suffering Look right at Jesus. Tell ye, honey, ye form, with scarcely the ability to raise her can't live no other way now. Don't ye hand. The shimmering twilight of the 'member how He looked on His mother, sick-room fell on white napkins, spread when she stood faintin' an' tremblin' un- over stands, where constantly appeared der de cross, jes' like you? He knows all new vials, big and little, as the physician about mothers' hearts; He won't break made his daily visit, and prescribed now yours. It was jes' 'cause He know'd we'd this drug and now that, for a wound that come into straits like dis yer, dat he went bad struck through the soul. through all dese tings, – Him, de Lord Mary remained many days at the white o' Glory! Is dis Him you was a-talkin' house, because, to the invalid, no step, about ? — Him you can't love ? Look at no voice, no hand was like hers. We Him, an' see ef you can't. Look an' see see her there now, as she sits in the glimwhat He is ! - don't ask no questions, mering by the bed-curtains,— her head a and don't go to no reasonin's, - jes' look little drooped, as droops a snowdrop over at Him, bangin' dar, so sweet and pa- a grave; -one ray of light from a round tient, on de cross ! All dey could do hole in the closed shutters falls on her couldn't stop his lovin' 'em; he prayed smooth-parted hair, her small hands are for 'em wid all de breath he bad. Dar's clasped on her knees, her mouth has lines a God you can love, a’n't dar? Can- of sad compression, and in her eyes are dace loves Him,-poor, ole, foolish, black, infinite questionings. wicked Candace, — and she knows He loves her," — and here Candace broke down into torrents of weeping.

CHAPTER XXIV. They laid the mother, faint and weary, on her bed, and beneath the shadow of When Mrs. Marvyn began to amend, that suffering cross came down a healing Mary returned to the home cottage, and sleep on those weary eyelids.

resumed the details of her industrious " Honey,” said Candace, mysteriously, and quiet life. after she had drawn Mary out of the Between her and her two best friends room, “ don't ye go for to troublin' yer had fallen a curtain of silence. The mind wid dis yer. I'm clar Mass'r subject that filled all her thoughts could James is one o' de 'lect; and I'm clar not be named between them. The Docdar's consid'able more o' de 'lect dan tor often looked at her pale cheeks and people tink. Why, Jesus didn't die for drooping form with a face of honest sornothin', - all dat love a'n't gwine to be row, and heaved deep sighs as she passwasted. De Plect is more’n you or I ed; but he did not find any power within knows, honey! Dar's de Spirit, - He'll himself by which he could approach her. give it to 'em; and ef Mass’r James is When he would speak, and she turned called an' took, depend upon it de Lord her sad, patient eyes so gently on him, has got him ready,—course He has so the words went back again to his heart, don't ye go to layin' on yer poor heart and there, taking a second thought, what no mortal creetur can live under; spread upward wing in prayer.

Mrs. Scudder sometimes came to her beams through the green blades of

grass, room after she was gone to bed, and and thought one year ago he stood there, found her weeping; and when gently with his well-knit, manly form, his bright she urged her to sleep, she would wipe eye, his buoyant hope, his victorious masher eyes so patiently and turn her head tery of life! And where was he now? with such obedient sweetness, that her Was his heart as sick, longing for her, as mother's heart utterly failed her. For hers for him ? Was he looking back to hours Mary sat in her room with James's earth and its joys with pangs of unutterlast letter spread out before her. How able regret ? or had a divine power inanxiously had she studied every word terpenetrated his soul, and lighted there and phrase in it, weighing them to see the flame of a celestial love which bore if the hope of eternal life were in them! him far above earth? If he were among How she dwelt on those last promises ! the lost, in what age of eternity could Had he kept them? Ah! to die without she ever be blessed ? Could Christ be one word more! Would no angel tell happy, if those who were one with Him her ? - would not the loving God, who were sinful and accursed ? and could knew all, just whisper one word ? He Christ's own loved ones be happy, when must have read the little Bible! What those with whom they have exchanged had he thought? What did he feel in being, in whom they live and feel, are that awful hour when he felt himself as wandering stars, for whom is reserved drifting on to that fearful eternity? Per- the mist of darkness forever? She had haps be had been regenerated,-- perhaps been taught that the agonies of the lost there had been a sudden change; — who would be forever in sight of the saints, knows? — she had read of such things; without abating in the least their eter- perhaps - Ah, in that perhaps lies nal joys; nay, that they would find in a world of anguish! Love will not hear it increasing motives to praise and adoof it. Love dies for certainty. Against ration. Could it be so? Would the an uncertainty who can brace the soul ? last act of the great Bridegroom of the We put all our forces of faith and Church be to strike from the heart of his prayer against it, and it goes down just purified Bride those yearnings of self-deas a buoy sinks in the water, and the voting love which His whole example had next moment it is up again. The soul taught her, and in which she reflected, as fatigues itself with efforts which come in a glass, His own nature? If not, is and go in waves; and when with labo- there not some provision by which those rious care she has adjusted all things in roots of deathless love which Christ's the light of hope, back flows the tide, betrothed ones strike into other hearts and sweeps all away. In such strug- shall have a divine, redeeming power ? gles life spends itself fast; an inward Question vital as life-blood to ten thouwound does not carry one deathward sand hearts, — fathers, mothers, wives, more surely than this worst wound of husbands, - to all who feel the infithe soul. God has made us so mercifully nite sacredness of love! that there is no certainty, however dread- After the first interview with Mrs. ful, to which life-forces do not in time Marvyn, the subject which had so agiadjust themselves, — but to uncertainty tated them was not renewed. She had there is no possible adjustment. Where risen at last from her sick-bed, as thin is he? Oh, question of questions ! and shadowy as a faded moon after question which we suppress, but which sunrise. Candace often shook her head a power of infinite force still urges on mournfully, as her eyes followed her the soul, who feels a part of herself torn about her daily tasks. Once only, with away.

Mary, she alluded to the conversation Mary sat at her window in evening which had passed between them;- it hours, and watched the slanting sun- was one day when they were together,

or

spinning, in the north upper room that difficulty in Nature ? I see everywhere looked out upon the sea. It was a glo- a Being whose main ends seem to be rious day. A ship was coming in un- beneficent, but whose good purposes are der full sail, with white gleaming wings. worked out at terrible expense of sufMrs. Marvyn watched it a few mo- fering, and apparently by the total sacriments, - the gay creature, so full of ex- fice of myriads of sensitive creatures. I ultant life, — and then smothered down see unflinching order, general good-will, an inward groan, and Mary thought she but no sympathy, no mercy. Storms, heard her saying, “ Thy will be done!" earthquakes, volcanoes, sickness, death,

“ Mary,” she said, gently, “ I hope you go on without regarding us. Everywhere will forget all I said to you that dreadful I see the most hopeless, unrelieved sufferday. It had to be said, or I should have ing,--and for aught I see, it may be eterdied. Mary, I begin to think that it is nal. Immortality is a dreadful chance, not best to stretch our minds with reason- and I would rather never have been.ings where we are so limited, where we The Doctor's dreadful system is, I concan know so little. I am quite sure there fess, much like the laws of Nature, must be dreadful mistakes somewhere. about what one might reason out from

It seems to me irreverent and shock- them. ing that a child should oppose a father, “ There is but just one thing remaining, a creature its Creator.

I never and that is, as Candace said, the cross of should have done it, only that, where Christ. If God so loved us, - if He died direct questions are presented to the for us, - greater love hath no man than judgment, one cannot help judging. If this. It seems to me that love is shown one is required to praise a being as just here in the two highest forms possible and good, one must judge of his ac- to our comprehension. We see a Betions by some standard of right, -- and ing who gives himself for us, – and more we have no standard but such as our than that, harder than that, a Being Creator has placed in us. I have been who consents to the suffering of a dearer told it was my duty to attend to these than self. Mary, I feel that I must love subjects, and I have tried to,--and the more, to give up one of my children to result has been that the facts presented suffer, than to consent to suffer myself. seem wholly irreconcilable with any no- There is a world of comfort to me in tions of justice or mercy that I am able the words, 'He that spared not his own to form. If these be the facts, I can only Son, but delivered him up for us all, say that my nature is made entirely op- how shall he not with him also freely posed to them. If I followed the stand- give us all things ?' These words speak ard of right they present, and acted ac- to my heart. I can interpret them by cording to my small mortal powers on my own nature, and I rest on them. If the same principles, I should be a very there is a fathomless mystery of sin and bad person. Any father, who should make sorrow, there is a deeper mystery of such use of power over his children as God's love. So, Mary, I try Candace's they say the Deity does with regard to way,—I look at Christ, - I pray to Him. us, would be looked upon as a monster If he that hath seen Him hath seen the by our very imperfect moral sense. Yet Father, it is enough. I rest there,- I I cannot say that the facts are not so. wait. What I know not now I shall When I heard the Doctor's sermons on know hereafter.” • Sin a Necessary Means of the Greatest Mary kept all things and pondered Good,' I could not extricate myself from them in her heart. She could speak to the reasoning.

no one, - not to her mother, nor to her “I have thought, in desperate moments, spiritual guide; for had she not passed to of giving up the Bible itself. But what a region beyond theirs ? As well might do I gain ?

Do I not see the same those on the hither side of mortality in

« AnteriorContinua »