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We only know what we have lived.” Many years ago we were struck by this remark, made by a writer of close observation. At the time, we but partially understood its meaning. It seemed to us, that we knew a great deal which had not been acquired by actual experience; that by virtue of the imaginative faculty of the mind, we could fully realize the states through which many had passed, notwithstanding we had not felt in our own hearts the actual suffering. In proof of this, we appealed to poetry, and the appeal seemed, at first, triumphant. But we learned, as time went on, that there was often in poetic portraitures, more of the artist's skill than of exact truth to nature; that it was one thing to imagine a certain set of circumstances and feel in them, and quite another thing to encounter the circumstances themselves.
Ao illustration of what is here set forth, will be seen in the following sketch, the main features of which are taken from life.
A preacher named W—, of rather a quiet and reserved turn of mind, had the misfortune to lose his wise, with whom he had lived for the space of twenty-five years. No one but himself knew the greatness of the loss, for no one knew so well the heart that had grown cold in death. She had been to him a second self; and there was a short period, after the freed spirit had gone home, during which it seemed to him as if the cords that bound them together would not unloose themselves. But W knew in whom he had trusted; and even with the tears upon his cheeks, blessed the hand by which he had been chastened.
It happened, a few days after the dust of the dear departed one had been consigned to its kindred dust, that a young preacher named D-, who knew W- very well, came into the town where he was stationed.
“ How is brother W-?” he asked of the sister at whose house he was sojourning, soon after his arrival.
“As well as could be expected," was replied. “ You have heard of his loss ?” • No!"
Sister. W is dead." “ Sister W. !” exclaimed the young preacher.
“ Yes. She was buried only three days ago. Ah me! It is a sad loss to
brother W- I cannot tell you how my heart aches for him."
“ Sister W dead !” And as the preacher said this, in a tone of deep commiseration, he arose, adding as he did so, “I must go at once and see brother W-"
“Yes, do see him," returned the lady, " and say what
you can in the way of comfort. You may be sure he needs it. I am glad you have
No one can talk to him as you can." The preacher, full of kind intentions, called upon his afflicted brother. He found him engaged in writing. As he looked up and recognized him, brother D--- saw that over his usually grave face was thrown a deeper shade of sobriety, and that his thoughtful eye had a dreamier aspect.
“ Brother W-!” he said, in a tone of sympathy, grasping his hand with more than his wonted earnestness.
“I am glad to see you, brother D-"returned the other in a slightly quivering voice : and he squeezed firmly and steadily the haud of his spiritual brother.
“And I am both glad and sorry,” said D“Glad to meet you, but grieved at heart for the deep affliction you have suffered."
The eyes of W- fell to the floor. There was a pause, in which he said, “ Sit down, brother D—"
Both seated themselves. As they did so, Dwent on:
“But I need not tell you that these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. I need not tell you that in
WE ONLY KNOW WHAT WE HAVE LIVED.
this deep darkness God will bring a light; and in the silence of your unutterable gries, his voice will be heard in words of comfort."
The eyes of W— remained cast down. He did not speak, nor even show a sign.
" Ah, my brother !" continued D-, “I know the bitterness of this cup you have been called to drink. I know that you have been called to pass through the darkest place in the valley of affliction. I know that the floods have arisen on your soul, and threaten to overwhelm you. But fear not, the bitter potion shall be sweet; light will break upon you ; the waters will be staid. God is purifying you, my brother. He sits as the refiner of silvers. He is proving you in the furnace of affliction.”
W— seemed to listen attentively, and the young preacher, warming with his theme, continued :
“ I know, my dear brother, how dreadfully your heart has been riven. To lose her, who has been your pleasant companion for so many years, is, indeed, a terrible affliction. But I know that your heart will find consolation in the sweet reflection that she has gone home first—that she has passed the stormy Jordan, and is safe on the other side
he heard W- descending the stairs. In a moment after be opened the door and re-entered. As he did so, he extended his hand, and said in a humble voice :
“ Forgive me, my brother! Poor human nature is weak, and it suffers, sometimes, too deep for even sympathy. The day may coine when you will understand me; though I pray Heaven, in mercy, to spare you that knowledge."
D- went away, still wondering. Ile could not comprehend, fully, the strange scene he had witnessed. Nature had spoken so strongly in brother W- that the voice rather stunned his ears than came to him with an intelligible sound. But he said nothing to any one of what had occurred, partly because he did not wish to expose his brother's weakness, and partly in consequence of a certain light flowing into his mind, which gave him to see that he had been, perhaps, too forward and wordy in his efforts to bring consolation to an afflicted heart.
Years passed. But D— never lost a vivid recollection of the scene between him and brother W- As he grew older, and something of the ardor and presumptuousness of youth and early manhood receded, he saw more and more clearly the mistake he had made in brother W—'s case, and comprehended more and more clearly the state of mind he had produced, and which manifested itself in such an abrupt and startling manner. But “ we only know what we have lived ;" and this truth Dfully realized in the end.
Not long after W—'s painful bereavement, D took to himself a wife, with whom he lived in the tenderest conjugal relation for many years. Children were born to themgoodly sons and daughters-and they grew up and gathered around like pleasant olive branch
Then as they attained, one after another, the estate of men and women, they passed forth into the world, and left the watchful guardians and supporters of their youth to stand once more alone. As if conscious of weakness, the old couple shrunk closer together, and leaned more heavily against each other for mutual support.
A few years more, and the wife of D- began to decline. For a time she drooped ; but scarcely had her husband awakened with a trembling fear to the danger that was hovering over his hea ere the summons for her de.
* Her languishing head is at rest,
Its aching and thinking are o'er ; Her quiet, immovable breast
Is beaved by artliction no more.'
Consoling thoughts! Oh! let it sink deep, like a healing balm, into your heart. A few years, and your work will be done. A few years more of labor and toil in your Master's vineyard, and you, too, will be called home. What a blessed meeting is in store for you!"
Still there was no response. W- sat, as at first, with his eyes upon the floor, his brow knit, and his lips compressed. D pansed to reflect a moment, and then began again.
“ You don't know anything about it!” replied W— in a quick, sharp voice, and rising as he spoke, he strode from the rooin. Shutting the door after bim he left the young preacher fairly aghast with astonishment.
For full fifteen minutes was heard the heavy, measured tread of W- - on the floor above, and for the whole of that time Dsat below, feeling deeply hurt, and wondering at the strange spirit displayed by his brother. He was about rising to retire, when
And all that to the end endure
parture came. Dying in the sweet hope of a saw the departed one in the midst of an angelic blessed immortality, Mrs. D~ tenderly con- company, and she beckoned him away. But, jured her husband to take up his cross and bear when the vision faded, and he awoke to the it in patient hope a little longer. Pointing np. sad consciousness of his bereavement, his ward, she said, almost with her latest breath- stricken heart sunk trembling and faint in his
bosom. But D---- knew in whom he had “ To patient faith, the prize is sure,
trusted, and he looked up and received strength.
The day following was the Sabbath. He The cross, shall wear the crown."
had an appointment 10 preach, and he kept it. Though nearly sixty years had laid their In the faithful discharge of his duty, he knew burdens upon him, D- was still actively en- would come sustaining power; and he walked gaged in the duties of his ministerial office, on in the path that was before him, without when this heaviest blow he had yet received pausing or turning to the right or the left. But fell upon him. For a time he staggered under ah! how lonely and desolate he felt at all the concussion. But he trusted not in human times. Everywhere he missed the old, familiar, strength; he looked to the Strong for aid; and loving face--everywhere he listened for the when his weak heart gave way, he felt that the voice that had grown silent-everywhere he arms of Divine love were thrown around to waited for the ministering hand that had been sustain him.
so quick to anticipate his wants. None but None but he who has himself passed through hinsell knew the loss he had sustained, for the trial, knows what is suffered by one who none knew or could know what the absent one looks for the last time upon the face of her who had been to him. has lain for years in his bosom. None but he Weeks and months went by, and the old can have any realizing sense of that hopeless minister, though he never missed an appointchill which goes electrically to the heart, when ment, nor lingered when duty called, was evithe lips are pressed for the last time upon the dently failing. His head whitened more rapmarble forehead of the beloved departed. With idly; bis form drooped, and there was an abforced composure, and with something of Chris- sent, abstracted air about him, that was noticed tian stoicism, so to speak, D--- gave to the particularly by his old friends. death-veiled face of her he had so loved in life, One day a young preacher, who had heard a last look, and touched her forehead with his of his bereavement, but who had not met him lips, feeling, as he did so, as is an icy finger since the painful event, happened to be passing were laid upon his heart. A moment his eyes throngh the town where D--- was stationed. lingered, but the tears blinded them, and hid Ile called upon him as a thing of course, and, the face for ever. Those who were looking at on meeting him, deemed it but a part of his him saw his knees tremble. But there escaped duty to refer to the afllictive dispensation, and no moan from his suffering spirit- no sob from improve it to the spiritual cdification and his oppressed bosom. Slowly he moved in the comfort of his aged brother. His reference to little company that followed a beloved sister to the subject was very much aster the style that the spot where her carthly remains were given had been adopted by D- himself on the to repose ; and slowly he returned to the place occasion we have noticed ; and it brought to from whence they had borne her, after the clods the latter a most vivid recollection of that cir. of the valley had been thrown upon her sound- cumstance. ing coflin. And in all this timno, no one ven
The words of the well-meaning young tured to speak to him of his loss, or to offer a preacher, that flowed from no accurate appreword of consolation ; for all felt that words ciation of his state of mind, jarred harshly on would be but a mockery of his woe.
the feelings of D-. Instead of bringing The first night that D passed alone after comfort, they fretted bim. Nothing was said the grave bad received its tenant-ah! who that his own mind had not over and over again that has passed such a night can ever forget suggested; yet much of it was conveyed in a it ?—was spent in humble, tearful prayer for inander, and by language, that made what was strength to bear his affliction. Morning found uttered painful rather than consoling. bim sleeping calmly, and with a smile upon At last D— could bear it no longer. Layhis face. He was dreaming of Heaven. lle ing his hand upon the arm of the young man,