« VorigeDoorgaan »
though it was poor and rusty ; she had outlived many of her kindred, and the last one who had gone hence was the only son, the staff of her declining years. He had starved to death at Andersonville.
Was it any marvel that her head was bowed, her eyes often filling with tears and her motions wavering? “Amicted and drunken, but not with wine!” Even yet, she heard the words which had said to her soul, “ Bow down, that we may go over."
But why is she here?
She leads a boy of seven or eight summers, or rather winters her only grandson, the remnant of the dead hope — the living answer to the Lord's question, “ By whom shall I comfort thee?”
Precious lamb of the pitying Saviour's fold! Angels shall feed thee! ministering ones shall walk at thy side!
The boy has an old face, almost severe in its lines of thought and woe. Life has already taught him the lessons of sternest design, sharpest finish.
He knows what it is to be hungry, to be very cold, to weep such tears as they keep in Vendome, imprisoned in a crystal phial, because the Saviour shed them, as tradition teaches. He grows in a shadow not of the white mulberry-trees of sunny lands, but of the sighing pines and hemlocks laden with the ice of midwinter. But through their branches he sees the same stars in the heavens that shine over the mulberrytrees.
The minister speaks words of consolation and aspiration to the poor old grandmother, and words of
advice and encouragement to her boy – as though they were regnant ones, clothed in shining raiment. Then he tenderly baptizes the child, not only into the Triune Name, but into that of the martyred parent of Andersonville. Many eyes fill with tears. The grandmother covers her face. But the boy moves not. His dark, speaking eyes, “like the eyes of those who can see the dead,” look down at the feet of the minister, while the long lashes quiver a little upon the brown, gaunt cheek.
It is certain that he takes into his soul every word uttered on that solemn occasion. His long head will suffer no shade of the shifting scene to escape. Very plain is the poor boy, but he is dowered. His father would have been a man of books as well as of deeds, had he lived, for the mother had doled out the last of her substance to help him on in his student career, and after. He had helped himself likewise, so that it wanted but a little time for him to have found a place which would have repaid all the efforts with interest.
Now there was only this child. He was consecrated to God publicly to-day, privately from the hour of his birth, when the mother had uttered a prayer for him and died, when the father had sent afar off his latest thought from the edges of the lucid intervals of frantic starvation, — when the grandmother had taken the child to her heart, from the earliest moment to the present.
There was now, like a coming breath of joy of the witnessing angels of heaven over these children of Zion, - an awakening of the organ. A strain of
ineffable tenderness, a Christ-like compassion, then an exultant pæan filled all that house of God, and died away as does the south wind over an Oriental garden of spices – the garden, typical of the Church;
then the voice of the minister was heard. in prayer.
The prayer arose higher, as he talked with the Divine Ones, on wings of the fire of the Holy Ghost.
He prayed to God.
Christ interceded. And the people listened, some to pray, others to fear, yet others to wonder.
Israel said to himself, “ How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts !
That evening, he read with new appreciation the following words, found in a book entitled “Elim, or Hymns of Holy Refreshment:"
CHRIST AND THE LITTLE ONES.
“The Master has come over Jordan,”
Said Hannah, the mother, one day; “Is healing the people who throng Him
With a touch of His finger, they say..
“And now I shall carry the children,
Little Rachel, and Samuel, and John;
For the Lord to look upon."
The father looked at her kindly,
But he shook his head and smiled; “Now who but a doting mother
Would think of a thing so wild!
“If the children were tortured by demons,
Or dying of fever, 'twere well; Or had they the taint of the leper,
Like many in Israel.”
“Nay, do not hinder me, Nathan,
I feel such a burden of care; If I carry it to the Master,
Perhaps I shall leave it there.
“If He lay his hand on the children,
My heart will be lighter, I know; For a blessing forever and ever
Will follow them as they go.”
So over the hills of Judah,
Along by the vine-rows green, With Esther asleep on her bosom,
And Rachel her brothers between;
'Mong the people who hung on His teaching,
Or waited His touch and His word, Through the row of proud Pharisees listening,
She pressed to the feet of the Lord.
“ Now why shouldst thou hinder the Master,”
Said Peter, “with children like these? Seest not how from morning till evening
He teacheth, and healeth disease?”
Then Christ said, “Forbid not the children,
Permit them to come unto me;
And Rachel He set on His knee;
And the heavy heart of the mother
Was listed all earth-care above,
And blest them with tenderest love;