Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

anger?

coming to fill up the gap, and I should are more united and knit soul to soul
be satisfied. I marked the unusual than are most sisters."
fervour of her embrace as we again “I will tell you, mamma; I have
met face to face, and how her smile learned to talk to Jesus, and to walk
was sweeter and her laugh more joyous with Him; and as I think of this all
than I had known it to be in past day long, it makes my heart so glad
days.

that I am desirous for others to have a
Cassie was changed, I felt sure ; share in my happiness.”
changed, but how? That I could not “But why have you not told me
tell, but there was a something per- before, Cassie ? were you afraid of my
vading her whole spirit that shone out
prominently in her every look, word “I did think you might be dis-
and action; and yet its real nature pleased, mamma, but that did not deter
was indiscernible. Some fresh thoughts me from avowing my allegiance to
were stamped upon her heart, still, Him Whose I am and Whom I serve;
though I exercised strict yet secret for Jesus Himself said that whosoever
scrutiny, I failed to decipher the esteemeth the love of father or mother
mysterious characters. And I felt sure more than His love, is not worthy of Him.
that mamma had feelings like mine, No, mamma, it was neither shame nor
by the manner in which her eyes cowardice that tied my tongue; but the
rested upon Cassie, and watched her as one wish of my heart being to see you
she flitted like a sunbeam in and out and my brothers and sister all in the
of the room where mamma generally possession of God's most precious gift,
lay.

I saw the wisdom of first laying the Our Christmas, too, was a happier beauty of religion tacitly before you. one than usual; there was more body Mamma, I wish you knew Jesus.” in our merriment: I fancied that even I had dropped upon the mat at the Randal and Meredith, fresh from their foot of the stairs, not daring to move studies in Edinburgh, guessed that away, lest through the open breakfast. the spring was in Cassie, and could room door Cassie should catch my not keep their hearts, any more than footsteps, and be disconcerted in her I could keep mine, from rendering her confidence with mamma. And now silent and imperceptible homage. there was a silence so deep that even It was a few weeks after our brothers

the beating of my own heart became had resumed their college life that I an annoyance, and a fear crept over ran lightly down the stairs, my thinly- me that Cassie might step suddenly slippered feet falling noiselessly upon into the hall, and be grieved through the soft Brussels carpet. I cannot mistaking my conduct.

At length describe the feeling that came over me mamma broke the stillness, but her as I heard Cassie say,

" And is the voice trembled with an emotion like to change for the better or the worse, what Cassie sometimes put upon the mamma?

That she alluded to a strings of her harp. I knew not why, change in herself I felt certain, and but it seemed to me that tones more this confirmed my yet unspoken sur- melodious had never before passed her mises.

lips. “You are happier, Cassie, I cannot “ You

may not know it, Cassie, but but see that,” came from our mother's

your
father was a man of

and lips; " and I have been puzzled to I often marvelled to see how courageous divine the cause of difference between he was in professing Christ before your happiness and Joy's, because you those who, in our early wedded days,

prayer;

[blocks in formation]

were his chosen friends and associates. mamma's allusion to what might be I know my adherence to worldliness ere long, had come like a hand of iron grieved and distressed him beyond to crush the buds of joy that were but measure, and though I would have just peeping above the barren surface. carried out his every other wish, I felt As I sat there, I felt strangely alone; I could not comply with that,—the it seemed to me that a wall of difference forsaking of those gaieties which held had suddenly risen between Cassie and me so firmly by their fascination. But myself; our unanimity would hencebefore you were a month old he lay forth be abolished, and

our souls upon his death-bed, and as I looked in separated. But as I thought on and the last moment upon his uplifted eyes, on, there came the pleasing remem. my ear caught a prayer that his wife brance that the change of which Cassie and children might rejoin him in spoke had not come in that day, it had heaven."

been there ever since she alighted from “God grant that we may,”

said the train which brought her home from Cassie, fervently; and after another school, and had we not during that pause, mamma spoke again :

time been even more closely united “Yes, Cassie, I have had very serious than in other days? Yes, I felt that thoughts since I have lain so much my sister, with the love of Jesus in her upon this couch, and especially during heart, was far more precious to me the last few months; for in spite of all than she had ever been without it; opposition, I feel that my remaining and as day after day went by, my strength is quickly going, my life is heart was irresistibly led to exclaim,fast ebbing out, and then will come “ 'Tis religion that can give the Great Beyond. I have so longed

Sweetest pleasures while we live.” to converse with a minister or pious And the conversation to which I friend, but feared to request an inter- had so unintentionally listened was not view, lest Joy should be unduly alarmed; for a moment forgotten, yet neither you know how closely she connects mamma nor Cassie alluded to it in my thoughts of religion with nearness of presence. Unaided, save by the Word death. But, Cassie, my darling, I am of God, I sought for the pardon of my so thankful that you have found your sins and a clear assurance of the same; father's God; will you teach me to and, like the prodigal's father of old, come to Him as you came? It is late mine saw me a long way off and ran to in the day, but maybe He will have meet me with the kiss of reconciliation. mercy.”

At once I told mamma, and 0! how “He will, dear mother; but now she wept, not in sorrow, but in joy, for you must rest; I will just step into she, too, was born again. the garden and gather a few more And so the weeks sped on; mamma snowdrops, these have been in the drooped considerably in February, but house a day or two,” and there was a upon March coming in unusually mild, something in Cassie's tone that brought she revived, and quickly regained the tears to my eyes; and as she made strength. She did not again refer to her exit through the French window, her passing away from us, but more I remounted the stairs with a heavy than once we heard her utter the grand heart.

sentiment, “ For to me to live is Christ, From my bedroom window I could and to die is gain,' therefore, living see her culling the dainty blossoms, or dying, I am the Lord's.” but with a grave demeanour that was Cassie wrote long, loving letters to not Cassie's own; and I knew how Randal and Meredith, and told me how

earnestly and persuasively she had spoken to them after Christmas. Mamma wrote too, and so did I, but we merely described the work of the great Renovator in our hearts, and the quenchless peace that

now abode therein. The answers

we received were very evasive and calculated to cheer us but little; yet now and then we caught a gleam of hope that even they might be led to consider their ways and be wise. In one letter, Randal mentioned a conversation that he had held with a pious clergyman, and stated how he and Meredith had talked it over, and how they wished that mamma and Joy and Cassie were near to join them.

Our Good Friday's breakfast was complete ; mamma poured out, a thing she had not done for eighteen months, and our brothers were there also; they had left college crowned with honours, and together we exulted in their success.

When the meal was over, Randal stayed indoors with mamma, but Cassie and I coaxed Meredith into the garden. It was a beautiful April morning, full of sunshine, song and perfume, and right happy were our hearts as we strolled beneath the silver beech-trees. I was just wondering what kind of joy it was that filled his heart, when he looked into our faces yet more gladsomely, and asked, “ Which has been the best Good Friday of

your

lives?” Cassie forestalled me in a reply, which, however, was sufficient for us

both. “We have not yet had a real Good Friday, Merry, for Christ crucified was nothing to us; but now He is our Saviour, our All in All; so this is our first Good Friday.”

“ And mine too,said Meredith, in his rich, full tone, and then he kissed us both. Our hearts' were too glad to speak, but we knew that he understood our silence.

“ And Randal?” I almost gasped.

“Ah, Joy, he is halting between two opinions;' but let us not cease to petition heaven until our brother has cast his whole soul upon the altar of consecration.”

The answer soon came; we received the joyful news on Easter morning, when returning from the holy, soulstirring service. There was such a genuineness in the tone of Randal's

cement, “ Jesus Christ is risen to-day,” that we did not for a moment doubt his meaning, but with rapture added, “ Hallelujah!”

And in the afternoon we clustered round mamma's chair, and sang, with one heart and one voice, the well. known transporting hymn,

“ Soar we now, where Christ hath led,
Following our exalted Head;
Made like Him, like Him we rise,
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies.

announce

[blocks in formation]

SCHOOL METHODS, “Rebellion is as the Sin of

I. The sin of witchcraft is the holding, Witchcraft."

the professing to hold, or the wishing Founded upon the Morning Lesson for and attempting to hold, familiar interJune 21st, 1874.

course with wicked spirits. It is the

leaguing with lost spirits, the enemies of BY THE EDITOR.

God and man, for the sake of gaining FIRST, What is the sin of witchcraft? possession of certain secrets, powers and

Second, In what is rebellion against present advantages denied to man by God like that ghastly sin ?

our wise and loving Father in heaven, REBELLION IS AS THE SIN OF WITCHCRAFT."

107

or for the sake of accomplishing some cherished purpose, or gratifying some overmastering passion which the gracious law of God forbids, or His benign Providence refuses to indulge. It is not necessary to touch the question, How far has witchcraft been an accomplished crime, to what extent Satan has been allowed to meet the advances of those who have sought his aid. The sin of witchcraft is just the same, whatever theory we may incline to as an explanation of the prodigies and marvels of witchcraft. The most audacious unbeliever has never ventured to deny the notorious historical fact, that many persons in many ages and many lands have earnestly sought such connection with the evil one. The question, how far they may have succeeded in gratifying this hideous desire, does not at all touch the guilt of it. If a man studiously and perseveringly plots a murder, and does his utmost to accomplish it, he is a murderer in heart, and will be deemed and dealt with as such at the bar of God, even although heaven should have frustrated his dark design; and that whether he struck the blow and went away believing it to be fatal, or whether he only aimed the blow and regrotted that it was not fatal; and even so the man who makes overtures to the devil, and makes appointments with the devil, and solicits alliance with the devil, is guilty of the sin of witchcraft, whether he succeeds in obtaining preternatural communications, or only fancies he succeeds, or only regrets that he cannot succeed. No honest history-reader will deny, then, that the sin of witchcraft has been one of the base and black passions of the human heart. A man who utterly disbelieves the science of astrology, will scarcely on that account deny that there have ever been such individuals as astrologers.

But, further, if every witch and wizard that ever lived had been a demonstrated impostor, had never had nor wished to have any direct dealings with the devil, still the sin of witchcraft is none the less an incontestable fact of history, and a grisly phenomenon proving the desperate

wickedness of man. The unhappy monarch to whom these words were first addressed was no wizard, yet he fell foully and fatally into the sin of witchcraft. The truth of the venerable seer's axiom became mournfully apparent when rebellion in his case actually ripened into the sin of witchcraft, when the miserable monarch skulked off at nightfall to consult a hag whom he believed to have dealings with hell. Whether the witch of Endor had actual fellowship with fiends, or were a dupe of her own fancies, or were a bold and cunning operator on the fancies of others, does not in the slightest affect the question of Saul's sin. He thought she had such dealings, otherwise the king of Israel would not have made an outlawed woman his counsellor. A person who attempts to open a communication with the devil by means of a third privileged party, is guilty of the sin of witchcraft. The employment of an agent and an accomplice, does not dilute the heinousness of the crime.

We see, then, that whether we choose to explain Scripture in a rationalistic or a reverent manner, we cannot deny that the sin of witchcraft has had its votaries. But we will go further than this, and avow our well-weighed conviction that persons have existed, who, under Satanic influence, have said and done things which otherwise transcended their human powers.

We believe this because we must believe it, unless we prefer our own fancies to well-attested facts, unless we be prepared to discredit unchallengeable testimony, to falsify the established laws of evidence, to ignore the rules of sound scientific induction. Phenomena have appeared which cannot be otherwise accounted for. Of course, there has been an immeasurable amount of fraud, superstition, cruel bigotry, connected with it; but there are besides amply authenticated facts which can in no wise be thus explained.

Rationalistic dogmatism on these matters does not at all disturb disconcert us, for what is there so easy, so silly, or so unscientific as to laugh at facts, instead of accounting

or

for them? A smile is a sufficient refutation of a sneer. It is unfathomably shallow to say that because no such persons as witches and wizards are to be found in Christendom now, therefore there never have been such at any time or in any place. The utter disappearance of a great crime from before the growing glories of the Gospel time, is matter for devout gratitude, but not for flippant incredulity. As wisely might a Fijian of the future protest that cannibalism was an impossible crime, as an enlightened Englishman of the nineteenth century of the Christian era pronounce that there never has been such a thing as witchcraft, because there is no trace of it now. Even the scepticism of Hume did not deny that the Druids offered human sacrifices, on the ground that the grey masses of Stonehenge are not in our day stained with human gore.

II. In what respects is rebellion against God like the sin of witchcraft? What a depth of desperate wickedness that a redeemed spirit, the object of the love of the Father, the death of the Son, and the wooings of the Spirit of God, with the glorious possibility and the persuasive offer of immortal dignity and bliss, should, for the sake of present and precarious advantage, seek and sue for the alliance of a lost spirit, the malignant foe of God and man; should solicit the companionship and consent to share the doom of that lost spirit; should surrender himself, sell himself, deliver himself over to the will of that hateful and hating evil one; offer for barter the friendship of God, the love of Christ, the glories of eternity, against a short-lived gratification, a black and baleful passion, some specious self-indulgence, some influence over his fellow mortals! Yet all wilful, habitual sinning is like that; that is to say, the whole life' of an unrepenting, unconverted individual is like that, “is as that ; it embodies the self-same principles ; it betrays the self-same dispositions; it tends to and ends in the selfsame doom.

The sin of witchcraft involves (1) the preferring the alliance of the devil to

the friendship of God; and that is what every unrepenting individual is guilty of. (2) The staking eternal happiness against the present and precarious indulgence of a wrong and wicked passion. And that, too, is the suicidal sin of every unrepenting individual. All wilful, unrepented, unrenounced sin, is simply a huckstering with hell ; it is a black bargaining for a transient gratification at the devil's own price. The sinner may flatter himself that he can outwit the old serpent, «can enjoy the sin and evade the penalty ; but that is the bargain. (3) The eternal participation in the devil's doom, the loss of the soul as the forfeited stake and the foreaccepted condition; and all unrepented, unrenounced sin involves exactly the same. “The wages of sin is death.”

A wizard is not necessarily a vicious man. He is not obliged to be guilty of all manner of crimes. He has no need to be a drunkard or an obscene man: on the contrary, his object in selling himself to Satan may be the satisfying some of the more reputable sins,—the indulgence of an inordinate thirst for knowledge, an unappeasable passion for penetrating the deepmost secrets of the mysterious universe; or it may be the love of distinction, fame, influence. Of one enormous sin and folly he certainly is not guilty. The wizard is no'Atheist, no materialist. He believes in the unseen world. He believes that “there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in ” man's “philosophy.” He believes, moreover, that he has a soul, and that he inherits a hereafter, for he stakes his soul for such temporary powers and pleasures as the devil can give him in exchange, and his hereafter is the stipulated forfeit of his present success. He believes, moreover, that at the time he makes his desperate contract, he has at least the possibility of being happy for ever, or, at all events, he knows that the devil thinks so; since if his soul were hopelessly lost before the bargain, it would not be his to sell, and would not be worth the devil's purchase or the devil's trouble.

Well then, the firm holding of some

some

« ForrigeFortsæt »