Page images
PDF
EPUB

has in itself much of heaven and of childhood, I press to my heart in thee !

As he spoke, he kissed her forehead, and a tcar dropped unnoticed upon her glossy ringlets.

• But I would not ruffle thy affectionate bosom with even the mention of my care. Suffice it, sister, for thee to know that my heart is not shut nor cold to thyself. But seek not to descend into the dark prison-house of my mind, to explore its gloomy secrets. They are not for such as thou art to read. Seek not to lighten my melancholy by sharing it, but rather to lead me out of myself by the continual sunshine of thine own joy. Be thyself still, and so do the kindest office thou canst do for me.'

· Indeed, brother, I know not the meaning of your strange words; and yet I will try to do as you desire. Only I hope it is not REMORSE which makes you thus unhappy; for that I have heard is terrible, terrible indeed to bear. But that it cannot be with thee. I know nothing of the world into which you have been for seven years so weary to me; but I do not believe it has seductions strong and cunning enough to have drawn your feet aside from the narrow way. Remorse? Oh no, it is not that! But look abroad yet once more ; even if it be the conscious. ness of wrong that embitters thy spirit; and see, see! how insignia of love, and forgiveness, and promise, illuminate the whole sky, and gild the whole earth; and even, my brother, are reflected from thine own anxious brow, as a sacred sign that thou too art sprinkled with the uni. versal baptism of the Creator's mercy. Hail, the beautiful omen! God smiles his evening smile on thee, on thee as on me, as on all. Open thine eye to see and thy heart to feel, for if He indeed smiles upon thy soul, be its darkness what it may, it will speedily give place to the serene and fadeless Light of Life!

Sister, the tones of an Angel of Mercy are in thy voice; and while thou hast been singing this psalm of Heaven in my ear, a dim vision of the Eternal Love has passed before me, for the first time these many months. But it is gone — already gone.

Peace and this bosom are no longer as one. But

pray for me, beloved ; and let this be the burden of thy prayer; that the faith of childhood may come back to me - that my soul may be born again.

But now the sun had set. Beautiful Night was calmly unfurling her spangled curtain before the splendid scenery of the west; and slowly and silently the orphans went down to their home.

The Boy of the garden was the Man of the mount.

The story of his twenty-two years there is no need to tell. Alas! that it should be a history so often read as to require no chronicler. Even while under the shelter of the vine and fig tree of his birth-place,

had beguiled him; but a mother and a father watched over him prayerfully, and he did not fall. A few more summers shed their sunshine upon his heart, and strewed their blossoms beneath his feet, when the day arrived on which he must step forth from the influence of his early home, to be tried and buffeted by a cold and traitorous world. Then he heard a language which he understood not; strange and wild desires and imaginations crept into his breast ; passions burned, lusts brooded, doubts haunted; and in the excitement and confusion, the

6

the serpent

crown of innocence dropped from his brow; the seal of Heaven faded from his forehead, the light of his soul grew dim; and behold it was Night. The death of his parents, who bequeathed to him and his sister a sufficient estate, and the care of that sister, recalled and kept him from the scenes of his business and the influence of his thoughtless compan. ions in the city. In retirement and sorrow, and in the pure society of that lovely being, who was now dearer than ever to his heart; his thoughts naturally turned inward; the injuries which his character had suffered were revealed to him; the unworthiness of his recent ca. reer filled him with regret and shame; and his spirit, as we have seen, dwelt in darkness.

[blocks in formation]

AUTUMN had given place to winter. The last day of the year 17 was Saturday. It was marked by storm and excessive gloom, which, together with the sobering influence of the season, operated to produce a general feeling of depression, which very few possessed sufficient elasticity of spirits to resist. It seemed as if Nature had put on mourning, and taken up the bitter wail for the final flight of hours big with eternal consequences to the destiny of man: or, as if she were mourning over the dark record to which the Recording Angel was about to affix his irrevocable seal.

Night suddenly leading in her shadowy armies, easily overpowered the languid train of retreating Day, and too soon invaded his lawful dominion. At early evening total darkness would have reigned in the town of B —, but for the faint rays that gleamed from fifty humble fire-sides; which, from a benevolent regard to the comfort of the way. farer, were allowed to stream unobstructed through every pane; and so shining, seemed like a cluster of stars. A very little way from the village, one could have discerned only so many sparkling points; and yet would have argued undoubtingly that there were minds to kindle and feed these lights; and comfortable hearths and domestic groups. Who then shall forbid the soul of earth's weary traveller, as he looks up at the stars, to seek there also intelligent and loving beings, and to be assured of pleasant and peaceful homes ?

Of all these village fires, none shed its light upon a lovelier scene than that which angels, well-pleased, contemplated as they encamped round about the orphan's dwelling. The sister and the brother were kneeling side by side at their evening devotions. A large family Bible lay open upon the table. Two portraits, whose gilded frames touched each other, and of which, but for their more youthful expression, the two worshippers might have been taken for the originals, hung against the wall. The voice of the brother only was audible. His words were, from first to last, but the breathing forth of thankfulness, deep, heart-felt thankful. ness for countless precious gifts ; but most of all, that the darkness of his soul had passed away, and the sweet beams of the heavenly Day.

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,' said he, with all the rich significance of Israel's Psalmist, whose experiences were not alto

Star risen upon it.

gether unlike his own,' then Thou knewest my path. Thou hast brought me up out of an horrible pit and out of the miry clay. Thou hast visited me with Thy marvellous loving kindness ; Thou hast blotted out all my transgressions ; Thou hast restored unto me the joy of Thy salvation. We will sing of Thy Mercies forever. We will sing praises unto God, even our own God, so long as we have any being.'

The Sabbath sun arose upon a scene of surpassing splendor ; which, by the ministry of yesterday's dark and tempestuous night, while human hearts had been oppressed with gloom, a kind Providence had been preparing to delight his children on the morning of the New Year. The trees and shrubs and stones shone as if they were of crystal. The ground was paved as it were with burnished steel. The whole earth was sparkling like a bride in diamonds. None could resist the exhilarating influence of the brisk air. The blind strove to imagine the glory they could not see. And even those who are habitually indifferent to the various beauties of the wonderful creation, in which, by a more wonderful mercy they are suffered to live, looked out and lingered, and looked out again, and involuntarily opened their cold lips to exclaim, How glorious !'

Seldom has the altar in the small and neat village church of B been encircled with a larger or more devout company of worshippers, than on the morning of that New Year's Sabbath. And the venerable pastor, whose pure white locks, with their silvery lustre, harmonized well with the brilliancy of the winter landscape, and seemed to desig. nate him as a proper priest to minister in such a scene, never uttered his gracious and solemn message with more impressive eloquence. And when, at the close of the sermon, he invited all who loved their REDEEMER to remain and partake together of the table which was spread before them, and extended his arms to embrace all his flock in his fervent benediction, his voice was tremulous with excess of love, and a tear fell on the record of the Saviour's death.

Few had the heart to turn away, and many staid that day who had never staid before. Among them were a youth and maiden, upon whom the eyes of the pastor rested with an expression of intense inte. rest. He called them by name, and arm-in-arm they stood before the table. He raised his eyes to Heaven, and they meekly bowed their heads, whilst he prayed that the Dove of Peace would hover over them, and smile upon their sincere profession, and accept their living sacri. fice. Then he sprinkled the pure water upon their foreheads, and laid his hands upon them, and twice, ay thrice, pronounced a blessing.

And now, behold, the crown of childhood's faith and love, that the world had stolen, Christ restores; but inwoven with new graces and joys that can no more be taken away: while all who look upon the countenance of the young man behold a radiance bright and holy as that which shone on the face of the Boy of the Garden ; and his own heart, with deep gratitude, feels that it is gilded by the joyous beams of a New AND AN EVERLASTING MORNING.

Now the great mystery of life is made plain to him. He had lost himself in the wilderness, but Christ has sought after him and brought

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

him home. He had wandered from his Eden, but has arrived at Heaven. He tasted the bitterness of sin that he might know the luxury of forgiveness. He felt the weakness of his own strength that he might seek the support of an Almighty arm. He experienced the misery of transgression that he might know the price of righteousness, and be melted by redeeming love.

Now, eternal life has opened upon him ; the everlasting Rock is his foundation: the universe, with all its infinite height and depth, is to his spirit a home of love; Christ is his tried friend, and the living God his FATHER.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

READER : Do you love books ? — love them not for glory, or for lucre, but for themselves, with a pure heart, fervenily, and because the images they present are beautiful, or grand, or holy? And if you be this worshipper of literature, not from pedantry, or pride, or habit, or its conver. tibility into specie, but in spirit and in truth,' did you ever leave your quiet vale of Tempé for a time, and endeavor to congenialize with a segment of the fashionable world, convened at ball, or jam, soirée, or conversazione ? While your genius was thus crystalizing in a new element, did you at first deem it both a pleasure and a duty, in assisting one Hebé to an additional lump of sugar for her coffee, to whisper with your most killing smile, “Sweets to the sweet, fair Ophelia ;' to present to a second her fallen mouchoir (young ladies will drop their handkerchiefs in defiance of Mama) saying with a gentle exhalation, 'Oh! that I were a glove upon that hand;' to proffer your dextral digits to a third, with an effort after the fancied manner of my Lord Chesterfield, and inform her during the 'poetry of motion of the very singular and almost incredible fact, that her eye out-sparkles the diamond, and her cheek out-blooms the rose;' and to hint to a fourth, with broken words and skilful hesitation, that you long, with a voiceless yearning for the exqui. sitatious felicitatiousness (as they say, or might say, off toward 'sun

« PreviousContinue »