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“ Arise, and take the young child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thon
there until I bring thee word.”—Matt. ii. 13.
NDER a palm-tree, by the green old Nile,
Lulled in His mother's breast, the fair child lies
Brooding above the slumber of His eyes ;
Lo! the dread works of Egypt's buried kings,
Regal and still as everlasting things.
Soft shadowed by His mother's drooping head,
O’er the whole world like vernal air shall spread,
CHRIST IS COMING!"
BY MRS. H. B. STOWE.
sounding through the church that I attended. The hymns, the prayers, the sermons, all spoke of the second
coming of Christ. To it all, as a good Churchman, I had listened seriously, and, I hope, devoutly.
It had mingled itself, dreamwise, with the creeping light of painted windows,
falling in gold, and purple, and crimson, over successive pews, where fair forms, in feathers and flowers, satins and laces, and the portly figures of respectable citizens, were to be seen, bowing in responses, rising at the Gospel, joining in the anthems, and in other ways signifying assent to the wonderful truths which formed the subject of the sermon.
At times, like a vivid shaft of light, some declaration from the Epistle or Gospel would, for a moment, pierce the dreamy solemnity, and I would start as if an angel had touched me, with an awakening thrill.
“THE NIGHT IS FAR SPENT, AND THE DAY IS AT HAND.'
My soul vibrated for a moment like a harp. Was it true? The night, the long night of the world's groping agony and blind desire, is it almost over-is the day at hand? Again : THEY SHALL SEE
THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD WITH POWER AND GREAT GLORY.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh."
Coming !—the Son of Man really coming!-coming into this world again with power and great glory!
Will this really ever happen? Will this solid, commonplace earth see it? Will these skies brighten and flash, and will upturned faces in this city be watching to see Him coming ?
So our minister preached, a solemn sermon; and for moments, at times, I felt a thrill of reality in hearing. But as the welldressed crowd passed down the aisle, my neighbour, Mr. Stockton, whispered to me not to forget the meeting of the bank directors on Monday evening, and Mrs. Goldthwaite poured into my wife's ear a charge not to forget her party on Thursday; and my wife, as she came out, asked me if I had observed the extravagant toilet of Mrs. Pennyman.
“ So absurd,” she said, “when her income, I know, cannot be half what ours is, and I never send to Paris for my things—I should look on it as morally wrong!'
I spoke of the sermon. “ Yes," said my wife, “what a sermon! -so solemn. I wonder that all are not drawn to hear our rector. What could be more powerful than such discourses? My dear,
by-the-bye, don't forget to change Mary's opal ring for a diamond
Dear me! The Christmas presents were all so on my mind, that I was thinking of them every now and then in church-and that was so wrong of me!
My dear,” said I, “ sometimes it seems to me as if all our life were unreal. We go to church, and the things that we hear are en her true or false. If they are true, what things they are! For instance, these Advent sermons. If we are looking for that coming, we ought to feel and live differently from what we do! Do we really believe what we hear in church, or is it a painted dream ?”
“I do believe,” said my wife, earnestly—(she is a good woman, my wife) —"yes, I do believe, but it is just as you say—oh, dear! I feel as if I am very worldly-I have so many things to think of !” and she sighed.
So did I; for I knew that I too was very worldly. After a pause,
I said : “Suppose Christ should really come at Christmas, and it should be authoritatively announced that He would be here that day?"
“I think,” said my wife," there would be some embarrassment on the part of our great men, legislators, and chief councillors, in anticipation of a personal interview. Fancy a meeting of the city council to arrange a reception for the Lord Jesus Christ !”
Perhaps,” said I, “He would refuse all offers of the rich and great. Perhaps our fashionable churches would plead for His presence in vain. He would not be in palaces.”
“Oh!” said my wife, earnestly-"if I thought our money separates us from Him, I would give it all-yes, all-might I only see Him one hour.” She spoke from the bottom of her heart, and for a moment her face was glorified.
“ You will see Him some day,” said I," and the money that we are willing to give up at a word from Him will not keep Him from
That evening, the thoughts of the waking hours mirrored themselves in a dream. I seemed to be out walking in the streets, and to be conscious of a strange, vague sense of something just declared, of which all were speaking with a suppressed air of mysterious voices. There was a stir of hush-whispering stillness was around. Groups of men stand at the corners of the street, and discuss an impending something with suppressed voices. I heard one say to another, “Really coming? What? To-morrow?" And the others said, “ Yes, to-morrow—on Christmas Day He will be here."
It was night. The stars were glittering down with a keen and frosty light; the shops glistened in their Christmas array, but the same sense of hushed expectancy pervaded everything. There seemed to be nothing doing, and each person looked wistfully on his neighbour, as if to say, “Have you heard ?”
Suddenly, as I walked, an angel form was with me, gliding softly by my side.
The face was solemn, serene, and calm. Above the
forehead was a pale, tremulous, phosphorous radiance of light, purer than any on earth-a light of a quality so different from that of the street lamps, that
celestial attendant seemed to move in a sphere alone. Yet, though I felt awe, I felt a sort of confiding love as I said, “Tell me-is it really true ? Is Christ coming ?”
"He is,” said the angel. "To-morrow He will be here! “What joy !” I cried.
“Is it joy?” said the angel. Alas, to many in this city it is only terror! Come with me.”
In a moment I seemed to be standing with him in a parlour of one of the chief palaces of the city. A stout, florid, bald-headed man was seated at a table covered with papers, which he was sorting over with nervous anxiety, muttering to himself as he did
On a sofa lay a sad-looking, delicate woman, her emaciated hands clasped over a little book. The room was, in all its appointments, a witness of boundless wealth. Gold and silver, and gems, and foreign furniture, and costly pictures, and articles of vertueverything that money could buy-were heaped together; and yet the man himself seemed to me to have been neither elevated nor refined by the confluence of all these treasures. He seemed nervous and uneasy. He wiped the sweat from his brow and spoke.
“I don't know, wife, how you feel, but I don't like this news. I don't understand it. It puts a stop to everything that I know anything about.”
“Oh, John," said the woman, turning towards him a face pale and fervent, and clasping her hands, " How can you say so ?” And as she spoke, I could see, breaking out above her head, a tremulous light, like that above the brow of an angel.
Well, Mary, it's the truth; I don't care if I say it. I don't want to meet-well, I wish He would put it off! What does He want of me? I'd be willing to make over-well, three millions, to found an hospital, if He'd be satisfied, and let me go on. Yes, I'd give three millions—to buy off from to-morrow.”
- Is He not our best Friend ?"
"Best Friend ! said the man, with a look of half fright, half anger. “Mary, you don't know what you're talking about ! You know I always hated those things. There's no use in it; I can't see into them. In fact, I hate them.”
She cast on him a look full of pity. “Cannot I make you see?” she said.
No, indeed, you can't. Why, look here,” he added, pointing to the papers, “here is what stands for millions ! To-night, it's mine; and to-morrow it will be all so much waste paper, and then what have I left? Do you think I can rejoice? I'd give half; I'd give-yes, the whole, not to have Him come these hundred years." She stretched out her thin hand towards him, but he pushed it back.
“Do you see?” said the angel to me solemnly; "between him and her there is a GREAT GULF fixed. They have lived in one house with that gulf between them for years! She cannot go to him; he cannot come to her. To-morrow she will rise to Christ as a dewdrop to the sun, and he will call to the mountains and rocks to fall on him-not because Christ hates him, but because he hates Christ.”
Again the scene was changed. We stood together in a little low attic, lighted by one small lamp—how poor it was !—a broken chair, a rickety table, a bed in the corner, where the little ones were cuddling close to one another for warmth. Poor things ! the air was so frosty that their breath congealed upon the bed-clothes, as they talked in soft baby voices. When mother comes she will bring us some supper," said they. “But I'm so cold !” said the little outsider. “Get into the middle, then," said the other two, “and we'll warm you. Mother promised she'd make a fire when she came in, if that man would pay her.” " What a bad man he is,” said the oldest boy; "he never pays mother, if he can help it.”
Just then, the door opened, and a pale, thin woman came in, laden with packages. She laid all down, and came to her children's bed, clasping her hands in rapture. Joy ! joy, children ! Oh, joy, joy! Christ is coming! He will be here to-morrow!”
Every little bird in the nest was up, and the little arms around the mother's neck. The children believed at once. They had heard of the good Jesus; He had been their mother's only Friend through many a cold and hungry day; and they doubted not He was coming.
“Oh, mother, will he take us ? He will, won't He?"
“Yes, yes, my little ones,” she said, softly, smiling to herself; “He shall gather the lambs with His arms, and carry them in His bosom."
Suddenly again, as by the slide of magic lantern, another scene was present. We stood in a lonely room, where a woman was sitting, with her head bowed forward upon her hands. Alone, forsaken, slandered, she was in bitterness of spirit. Hard, cruel tongues had spoken her name with vile assertions, and a thoughtless world had believed. There had been a babble of accusations, a crowd to rejoice in iniquity, and few to pity. She thought herself alone, and she spoke : “ Judge me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity. I am as a monster unto many, but Thou art my strong refuge."
In a moment the angel touched her. “My sister,” he said, " be of good cheer. Christ will be here to-morrow.”
She started up, with her hands clasped, her eyes bright, her whole form dilated, as she seemed to look into the heavens, and said with rapture
« Come, Lord, and judge me, for Thou knowest me altogether.