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THE HISTORY OF A SOUL.
Why do you say so, Hubert ? Can you doubt the pure and elevating character of such studies ? Can you undervalue, and even despise, a kind of learning which has lured the noblest minds that ever thought or spoke ?"
“ No," said he ;“I admit that learning is sorgetimes abstract and metaphysical; but is it therefore any more a cordial ? Does windy wordiness, or absolute emptiness do the soul good? Was a disease of the body ever cured by putting the patient to a careful study of anatomy and the materia medica, and think you the soulsick can be healed by mental philosophy or theology? Do they reach the wound ? Verily they seem to come near it. They talk near the point, if they do not touch it. Like Plato, they reason well of man's moral and intellectual nature, his instincts, passions, aspirations, and desires. But after all, it makes our longing after immortality but a pleasing hope, a fond desire, such as a child may feel to grasp the gorgeous rainbow, at which it gazes for the first time, in the far-up heavens. But is this a medicine for the mind ? for the mental unrest of a 'soul, uneasy and confined from home'-a soul which deeply feels that it can only rest and expatiate in a life to come?'”
Yes, Hubert, you are right. These are poor medicines for the mind; I know it, and my heart is glad that yours, while it suffers and bleeds at every pore, feels and owns that divine aid must come, if you ever again live a healthful moral life. It was but serious trifling when I led your thirsting soul to those broken cisterns, which either hold no living water, or pollute it with their earthly taint. But, dear Hubert, I dared not take your hand and say, 'Come with me to the River of Life.' I dare not offer you a leaf, moistened with dew of heaven, from that tree which grows for the healing of the nations; for I have been no stranger to the secret though cherished skepticism of your mind, which, though stronger, fuller, and wiser than my own, has yet strangely misjudged here, and that, too, on a subject where mistake is fatal. But I do rejoice, even in this terrible heart-crush which has befallen your young life, for well I know the hand of an enemy hath not done this. The blow under which you have fallen was dealt by a Hand, which did but strike you to the earth, that it might raise you again to a higher and completer life—to holier hopes-to more infinite outreachings and aspirings than those which filled your youthful breast. An angel's step
has troubled the waters of your earthly Bethesda, but it has left an element of healing in the perturbed and agitated waves. You will yet find rest and joy, and because you will seek them no longer here, but in heaven, you will find them even now upon the earth. You will live happy, you will die peaceful, and you will joyfully awake in the Hereafter. Why should I doubt, that the Saviour of men will fully answer my prayers for you, and carry out His own eternal purposes of love, when I learn to-day, for the first time, from your own lips, that your mind has already begun to go through that painful process of voluntary separation from all earthly goods and expectations, which is but the preparatory step of a soul's initiation into the blessings and beatitudes of heaven? Yes, Hubert, I feel to-day how sweet a thing it is to pray—to pray to One so infinitely loving and compassionate, that He waits, yearning to be gracious, and grants even while the asking lingers on our lips, and even anticipates the half-formed wish, which yet lies buried in the inner sanctuary of the soul, where His own breath inspires petitions, for which human language finds no utterance. Yes, my dear Hubert, I have often prayed for you when I have not dared to speak to you. Much as I have loved you, freely as I have spoken to you, and with such utter unreserve on every other subject, I have always trembled and felt abashed when I would try to open up my heart to you on this. As much as I have loved to follow
your ardent and adventurous mind as a leader, a teacher, and a guide, just so much have I feared to encounter it as an antagonist. Don't you remember, Hubert, that sad morning after your first cruel professional disappointment, when I was compelled to add a yet bitterer ingredient in your cup of misery, by bringing the intelligence that she you loved was lost-how I tried to comfort you? I knew you must sink under these repeated blows, and fall into absolute despair, unless the Hand that upheld faithless Peter on the yielding wave of Galilee, was again outstretched to rescue; but when I spoke thus, you repulsed me. No, you did not repulse, for you were always kind; but you silenced me I
mean, because you made me feel, that by saying more, I should but weaken in your mind the cause I sought to strengthen. I dared not further peril truth by my weak advocacy. I felt that you had won a victory over me in argument; that my religion presented itself to your mind as an idle and weak
enthusiasm, quite allowable indeed in me- that moves the world, and therefore I do not even amiable--but altogether beneath your despair of reaching you. You will yet feel as more developed and cultivated reason. But I do; you will love me with a warmer and when you thought me silenced and convinced intenser love, and feel a more intimate relaby skeptical arguments, which I had not logi- tionship to me than that which results from the cal acumen enough to oppose, I was only per- hereditary inheritance of the same family blood plexed and distressed on your account, not in our veins which makes you call me cousin ; shaken in my own belief, which rests on other you will yet feel towards me that grateful and ground than that of logical argumentation. loving regard which the famished feel towards I have never loved to study the external evi- one who gives them bread—which the fatally dences of Christianity. I care not for these sick feels towards one who brings relief. We feeble outward props to a belief so wrought shall yet love each other as Christians; and into the very texture and frame-work of my the fellowship of Jesus and the communion of mind, that it stands there firm and steadfast as the saints is a higher relation, a stronger tie, the very foundations of my immortal being: I than any which can bind the soul on earth. know Christianity is true, just as I know that Oh! what happiness is this which the Ever I live, because I feel it; because it must be Merciful has yet in store for one so undeservtrue, or all things else a lie—an inexplicable ing, that I may say, Hubert is a Christian, and enigma—and the whole universe but a bundle Christ has honored me as the instrument, of contrarieties and contradictions. If it be whereby He would bring that powerful and false, then is falsehood the only thing worth sagacious mind, that energetic 'will, into the believing--the only thing that can cheat us sweet and lowly obedience of His blessed Gosinto a feeling of complaisance towards a God- pel. Hubert, I am pained with excess of joy ; less and Christless universe. I cannot reason my heart bursts and overflows towards you with you, Hubert, any more than I could wres- with inexpressible soft pity, Hubert.” tle with a giant; but prayer moves the arm
[TO BE CONTINUED.]
BY REV. O. H. A. BULKLEY.
Though Time's brief pleasures charm me not,
Nor wealth attends me in my train,
While goodness shall on earth remain;
Whose towering form those hearts shall shade
To find amid Life's sun-burnt glade,
Take from me all of social life,
That dulls the edge of worldly pain,
A crown of righteousness to gain.
Greet not mine ear with plaudits loud,
Nor in my sight admiring crowd.
THE TWO SPIRITS.
BY KATE CLEVELAND.
It was a scene of beauty. Not beautiful because flower, and tree, and bird had put forth their sweetest charms to allure the eye and ear; but over all there was a soft, breathing influence, which belongs not to earth. The form of the flowers was strange—their perfume came borne on the breeze, almost overpowering in sweetness. In this garden of enchantment were two spirits, who stood with folded wings, and gazed upon the beauties spread around. The face of one was heavenly in its expression, and a smile of perfect sweetness played around the mouth. Not so the other; the features were as beautiful in form—the coloring as delicate, but the expression, how different ! The beauty of that face was marred by the conflicting passions that shot across it; and as he gazed upon the scene and glanced to the happy countenance of his brother, a sneer curled his lip as he exclaimed—" Aye, gaze on! Feast thine eyes with the beautiful, and I will then show thee these same objects stripped of their bright colors, and presented to the eye in all their natural hideousness !"
A calm smile preceded the other's reply. “ Brother, I seek the good, the beautiful; I look not for perfection; but when a fault appears in the bright coloring, shall we not rather regard it as throwing into greater beauty the remaining part, than as a spot emblematical of universal decay? Mark this delicate flower; how perfect the formation of each tiny leafhow delicately its shades are mingled!”
He who had first spoken took the blossom, and pointed with a triumphant smile to the poison which lay beneath. " Where is now its beauty ?”
The face of the good spirit was troubled, but mildly he replied to the other's words: “See you not, brother, the beneficence of the Creator even in this little flower ? The poison that lies at its root will prevent its being too roughly
handled. Without this defence, where would be its security ? Every idle hand might pluck its beauties, and scatter them to the wind !"
But,” replied the evil spirit, “is not the good in this case completely swallowed up in the bad? Who would stop to admire the brilliant colors or delicate form of the deceitful blossom, while shuddering at the poison in its heart ?"
“ God has made this so," said the other, " for wise purposes of His own; and it behooves us not to question His works.”
The same sneering smile was on the face of the evil spirit as he replied: "Look abroad upon this wide and beautiful earth, and gather up the good in one scale, and the evil in the other; which, think you, will weigh the heavier ?"
The good spirit looked with a smile of pity on his brother's frowning features.
6. Would not the earth be Paradise itself, were no evil found to mingle with the good ? But look upon yonder sky—no poison lurks in its blue depths, or the fair shadowy clouds that wreath themselves about it. Brother, does not its clear, serene beauty throw a cheering ray upon thy heart ?”
The other gazed upon the smiling sky : his withering glance seemed to blast all it fell upon; the hue of the wreathing clouds grew dark and threatening; angry flashes of lightning came borne on the rolling thunder. It was as the passion-storm which crosses a beautiful face, and blasts with one fell stroke the lovely work of Nature. Tears moistened the cheek of the good spirit, while the face of the other was as the countenance of some stormdemon. But suddenly the heavens cleared, and a gorgeous rainbow shone in the sky. The weeper's tears were dried, as he pointed with a bright smile to the promised sign, while the rain-drops on the flowers sparkled like fairy gems. Additional beauty followed the temporary gloom that had been cast over the face of
Nature; the air breathed a purified sweetness, and every cloud or marring spot had been washed from the face of the sky. “You believe," said the evil spirit, " that all the beauty of earth lies in the heart of man-or, if evil is found, like the storm we have just witnessed, it is immediately succeeded by good ?”
" I believe,” replied the other, " that man is shut out by the fall from attaining a state of perfection; but flowers of good will now and then peep forth from among the weeds of the heart.”
“ You do not think, then, that a heart of perfect evil can be found—one in which no good is visible ?"
“[ would not willingly believe it; in all hearts there must be some hidden chord or feeling buried among the evil, which requires but a skillful hand to make it vibrate."
“Come with me, then, and we shall see.” “ Whither would you go, brother ?"
“I would go," replied the other, “and show you mankind as it is. Come with me; you to look for beauty, I for evil.” The two spirits went on their journey-good and evil side by side.
and left him all his possessions; while words of bitterness trembled on his pale lips against the son who had deserted him. The roses and violets on his mother's grave had unfolded their blossoms many times ere the wanderer returned, with old thoughts of home tugging at his breast. He hastened to receive his mother's kiss—his father's blessing; but they pointed him to the church-yard, and showed him his parents' graves! The dew was glistening on the long grass; and, as if in mockery, a bird carolled forth his song in that lonely spot. His heart was filled with hatred toward the brother who was living in his father's house, while he was an outcast-a wanderer. That brother would have taken him in and divided with the companion of his childhood; but proudly and sternly he was repulsed. And then followed the bitter taunt. The loneliness and slights of years had festered in the wanderer’s bosom, and now, like evil spirits, they rose and armed him for the contest. His brother had borne these reproaches in silence—had yearned to clasp the outcast to his bosom ; but now, stung by his angry words, he answered taunt with taunt. The good spirit stood mournfully with outstretched wings, while the evil one was goading on the brothers.
Soon the steel of swords flashed in the sunlight; and with working features, the brothers sought each other's life! Their combat was to the death, for each had spoken words that his life-blood only could efface.
The good spirit turned his face from that sickening scene—it was fearful to see passion convulse those brothers' features. . Suddenly the sharp noise of steel meeting steel ceased; the elder was bending over his brother's prostrate form. One blow would rid him of his enemy-why does he hesitate ? He cannot! The good spirit is at his side with a host of soft remembrances, and he heeds not the sneering countenance of the evil one.
The pale face of his fallen brother is turned towards the light, and the golden rays that fall upon it reveal it as it looked in childhood, with the same old familiar expression. The weapon of death falls powerless from his hand, and raising his erring brother in his arms, he bestows a warm kiss upon his pale cheek. The evil spirit makes one last, faint struggle for victory; but his power is past, and the brothers' tears are min
The last rays of sunset lingered, as though unwilling to depart, upon a beautiful grove, rich in every charm of nature. It was a scene of earth's loveliness, and the warm sunlight that streamed through the flower-laden trees, gave a rich glow to its beauty. But, alas ! this Eden scene was polluted by human passions. There were two brothers within that grove-though brothers they seemed not then, with the words of hatred on their lips, and the fire of anger in their eyes. But they were brothers; brothers who in childhood had pressed the same pillow, and slept in each other's arms, with a mother's kiss still fresh upon their lips. The younger, as he attained to manhood, grew weary of the gentle discipline of his father's house, and wandered forth to seek for pleasure in the gay world. Pleasure! that gilded chalice, whose sweetest draughts are poison! poison to the unsatisfied heart that longs for some thing less fleeting. Years passed, and the wanderer still roamed on a foreign shore. The father was gathered to his fathers; and with
“ You have won it," said the evil spirit to his
examples that earth affords. It may not always be so !" and the sneering smile again deformed those handsome features.
The brothers again alighted, in a scene fit for the carousal of the spirits of darkness. There were broken glasses lying about, and decanters in which the wine still sparkledfragments of the orgies which were nightly celebrated there. The stars were waning, and the first beams of dawn were about to gild the tall spires of the city--the last night's revellers had sought their homes to slumber off the effect of their last midnight revels, and the wide streets were quiet and deserted. Still in that place of crime sat two desperate players, who were so intent upon their game, that they noticed not the hazy light of dawn. The candles were burning low in their sockets, and threw a ghastly light upon their haggard features, which alternately burned with hope and despair. It was a last throw; each had staked his all, and they now awaited the result. It came : a fiendish smile of triumph lighted the features of the winner, as he hastily swept the piles of gold together; and seizing on his illgotten gains, without a word or a pitying look for his unfortunate brother in crime, he left him to the solitude of his own thoughts. Solitude ! That solitude was peopled with infernal spirits, who gazed with ghastly smiles into his face, and fanned his aching brow with their hot breath. Wild images were dancing through his fevered brain-hideous monsters seemed to wreath their bony arms around him, and shriek triumphantly in his ear: “Come! come! We await thee!" He struggled hard with these disordered visions; he shook off their clinging forms with a powerful effort, and gazed calmly into the dark book of his life.
With his head buried in his hands, and his dark and matted locks falling in disorder over the pale, care-worn brow, the lonely man read on. He saw himself once more a child, shrinking from the tyranny of a harsh father-the averted love of a cold unfeeling mother, who gazed with pride upon her group of noble sons, and then turned with ill-concealed disgust from the repulsive features of the unloved one. As the memories rushed across his mind, he smiled
a hard, bitter smile, and repeated to himself, “ This is your work !" for no mother's love had followed like a guiding star to lure him from the paths of sin and crime; no words of tenderness had soothed his weary spirit, and led him with the chains of love to regain a lost name; no brother or sister's affection had mourned his fall. No! The authors of his being, the companions of his childhood, had been the first to turn upon him a cold, disdainful eye—to banish the erring one from his home. Then came soft memories of one who had plighted her pure love to him in her early bloom and freshness; who had cast upon his heart a ray of her own innocent brightness. Again the music of that voice fell upon his ear, carolling in its low sweet tones some snatch of melody, or whispering to him words of hope and comfort. And then he remembered how she had looked, when she found that her husband was a gambler! How a flash of agony crossed her face, as she pressed her babes closer to her heart! But he was kneeling before her bumbled and penitent—and rising, though her cheek was pale, and tears dimmed her dark eyes, she placed her hand in his, and laid her head against his bosom, murmuring, “ Whither thou goest, I will go!" And how her pure and beautiful love fell upon his heart like sunshine, and he vowed never again to be led away. But the tempter came. Mary's slender form drooped, as day after day she plied the never-ceasing needle to feed and clothe her little ones; and the thought almost maddened him, as he reflected that he had done this! Then they came and whispered that he might surround her with luxury; restore the roses to those young cheeks, and regain his lost wealth-his lost name!
He went, and gold flowed into his hands ; his gentle wife questioned him about his illgotten wealth, but he slept with a falsehood on his lips, while Mary breathed a prayer to preserve him from harm. At length they told him that one last throw would bring him untold wealth : he went--he staked his all—and now the result! Could he tell that gentle wife who had loved him through all as deeply now as when they knelt before the altar and pledged their vows to Heaven-could he tell her that want and beggary followed his footsteps ? Could he hear his children's cries for bread, and behold unmoved their mother's patient, umcomplaining suffering ? Again those evil spirits