Imatges de pÓgina



under the window nearest to the pulpit. He stood there, listening very attentively to the sermon, till it was over; and then, before the congregation could come out, he made off stealthily and hastily, to escape observation. But passing near the woman who had been watching him, she heard him say, with a look of distress on his countenance, “It's no use the devil's sure to have me! It doesn't matter!"

This woman told me on Monday morning what she had seen and heard; so I determined to go at once and see the man. It was not his dinner-time yet; but I thought I would have a little conversation with his wife before he came home. To my surprise, however, I found him there. What, not working to-day, John?" I said. "What's the matter?"


"I ain't very well," he answered. "I got no sleep last night; but I mean to work in the afternoon, for all that," he continued, with an air of determination and defiance.

"What's the matter? Have you got anything on your mind ?" I inquired.

"Mind!" he repeated, as if in contempt at the thought. "There is not much that ever troubles my mind." He then went on to give me a long account of his bodily ailments.

"But do you never think about your soul, John ?" I asked; never think about another world and eternity ?" "Soul and eternity! I don't believe in either the one or the other of them !"

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"Not believe you have a soul! Come, John, I am sure you know better than that." And I went on to speak of the joys of heaven and the bitter torments of hell; of the love of God, who willeth not the death of the sinner, but rather that he should turn and live; and then I proceeded to tell him of the atonement which Jesus Christ finished on the cross, and that now there is pardon for the vilest sinner through the efficacy of the blood which has been shed once for all.

"You know, John," I continued, "that I do not care to argue about these things. There is mercy for you, if you will have it. We can bring water to the horses, but we cannot make them drink. My business is to put the way of pardon and salvation plainly before you; and after that, if you reject it, it will be your own fault if you perish. Do you know how to get forgiveness of sins?"

He seemed very uneasy all the time I was speaking, and at length, after a pause, he looked me in the face with a hardened expression, and said, "There's no pardon for me-I know it."

"That cannot be," I said; "I do not believe it." "No," he continued, "there's no pardon for me. have known that for fourteen years."


I inwardly resolved to get this dreadful secret from him, which was driving him to such evident desperation. A few days afterwards an opportunity occurred, and I pressed upon him for his own sake to tell me, or some one else, what had happened fourteen years ago; and what special communication he had had with another world.

"Oh," he said, "I never told anybody; but I would as soon tell you as any one else. I had a dream once-do you ever have dreams? I have many things told me in dreams." Then he was silent; but I was more curious than ever now, and begged him to tell me what had happened. At last he began, "I dreamt that I was walking along a broad smooth road, where everything was most lovely; the weather was fine, and the scenery grand; there were beautiful gardens, churches, chapels, theatres, houses, and indeed everything you could think of. The people all seemed to be delighting in it, and as though they were out for a holiday. Some were walking, some singing, some dancing, and in one way or the other they all appeared to be enjoying themselves beyond bounds. Seeing a working man in



a field close by, I called to him, and asked 'Where does this road lead to?' He answered, 'To hell, straight on; you cannot miss!' 'Hell!' I was surprised; 'Hell,' I said to myself, 'this is very different to what I thought. Is the way to hell as pleasant as this? and are people so unconcerned about it?' I was amazed; but though the man told me this pleasant road led to hell, I did not stop; I went on and on, seemingly as pleased as others were. However, it did not continue like this long, for soon I came to a rough part, all up and down, where the atmosphere was thick and sulphury, and it was almost dark. I did not like it, and wished very much to get out of the place, but I could not.

"Seeing some people in the distance, I went near to ask them the way out. They were busy with long rakes raking cinders about on the dry ground, and would not answer my urgent inquiries. As I approached them I saw that they did not look like 'humans,' and that every now and then fire appeared from under ground, over which they raked cinders to keep it out of sight. They were so absorbed in their work that they did not heed my question, though I pleaded more and more earnestly. At last, I observed that one of them ceased from his strange work, and looked at me; whereupon I addressed myself to him, begging him to show me the way out of the place." John added, "If I ever prayed in my life I prayed then; but he shook his head as if he pitied me, and said mournfully, 'The way you came in.' I replied, 'I cannot find it'; then again he shook his head, as if to say, 'You never will.' I was obliged to rise from my knees, for the ground was so hot, and in my despair I ran I know not whither. As I passed along in haste, I came to cracks in the ground full of fire; I stepped over them one after another, and ran on till I came to such a large chasm, that I could not jump over it. I turned and went

in another direction, leaping and running, in a state of terror, till at last I came upon a sheet of glowing fire, into which I fell. Then I awoke. For fourteen years this has followed me; there is no hope for me!"

By this time he became very much excited and agitated: seizing his cap he ran out of the house, leaving his wife and myself in mute astonishment at his strange tale.

I went home pondering over the meaning of this dream, and was struck at the amount of truth in it. I thought— How fair are the promises of the world to begin with, and how delusive and disappointing they are at the end! Of course, Satan, the god of this world, will make the way of hell as bright and pleasing as he possibly can ; and if people take outward circumstances and pleasing prospects for indications of safety, they wilfully lay themselves open to this deadly delusion. What a number there are who know, or might know, that they are on the road to hell; that they cannot miss; and yet they go on! And then how many people there are who rake cinders; that is, when thoughts of death, or judgment, or hell, obtrude themselves, how readily they cover them over with hopes of escape, or some good intentions to be better, before it is too late! How often parents do the same for their children, for they cannot bear to think of their being lost for ever; so they hope that somehow they will be changed before they die! How often preachers rake cinders also, by addressing their hearers as if they were all safe, and only wanted a little teaching now and then; and it may be a little warning occasionally! They cannot bear to tell them plainly that they are lost now, and may be lost for ever, if they do not repent and believe the Gospel; they would rather "be persuaded better things of them, and things which accompany salvation," though they know for certain that there are many unsaved ones in their congregation. They entertain



them with good hearty services and pleasing serinons, and then let them go on their way to the solemn end, perfectly unconscious of any danger.

The Lord Jesus had no such false charity as this. He has told us plainly that we are all perishing creatures, and that there is no hope for any one of us while we are still on the broad road to ruin and in an unchanged state; that we must be born again or we cannot see the kingdom of God; that we must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, who died in our stead on the cross, or perish for ever. Preachers therefore ought to be more faithful, because life is so uncertain, and the warnings of God so sure.

Well did John dream that they did not look like human beings, who were raking cinders to keep the fire out of sight. After some days I got light on the subject of this awful dream, and hastened to tell John that I had found the way out of that fearful place for him. He would not hear me for some time; but I told him, that the prodigal son said, "I will arise and go to my Father, and say unto Him, I have sinned." “You see, John," I continued, "he came back the way he went, and he found pardon; that is the way for you."

I then knelt down and prayed, and he knelt with me at his table. There he remained for four hours, without speaking a word, until I was thoroughly exhausted and obliged to go. No sooner had I gone, than John's heart failed him, and he burst out crying aloud, and said to his wife, "Oh, Mary, what shall I do? what shall I do?"

"Take the book and read," she said, pushing the Bible along the table to him. It was open at the fifteenth chapter of St. Luke, where he read the words aloud, "I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned." The spell was broken and the string of his tongue loosed, so that he cried aloud for mercy.

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