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250 ^EPH HIGGINS' CONFESSION.
"Wal, I must speak," he said. "I'm a stumbling-block. I've allers been one. I hain't never ben a Christian, that's jest the truth on't. I never hed oughter 'a'ben in the church. I've ben all wrong—wrong— Wrong! I knew I was wrong, but I wouldn't give up. It's ben jest my awful Will. I've set up my will agin God Almighty. I've set it agin my neighbors—agin the minister and agin the church. And now the Lord's come out agin me; He's struck me down. I know He's got a right—He can do what He pleases—but I ain't resigned—not a grain. I submit 'cause I can't help myself; but my heart's hard and wicked. I expect my day of grace is over. I ain't a Christian, and I can't be, and I shall go to hell at last, and sarve me right!"
And Zeph sat down, grim and stony, and the neighbors looked one on another in a sort of consternation. There was a terrible earnestness in those words that seemed to appall every one and prevent any from uttering the ordinary commonplaces of religious exhortation. For a few moments the circle was silent as the grave, when Dr. Cushing said, " Brethren, let us pray;" and in his prayer he seemed to rise above earth and draw his whole flock, with all their sins, and needs, and wants, into the presencechamber of heaven.
He prayed that the light of heaven might shine into the darkened spirit of their brother; that he might give himself up utterly to the will of God; that we might all do it, that we might become as little children in the kingdom of heaven. With the wise tact which distinguished his ministry he closed the meeting immediately after the prayer with one or two serious words of exhortation. He feared lest what had been gained in impression might be talked away did he hold the meeting open to the well-meant, sincere, but uninstructed efforts of the brethren to meet a case like that which had been laid open before them.
After the service was over and the throng slowly dispersed, Zeph remained in his place, rigid and still. One or two approached to speak to him; there was in fact a tide of genuine sympathy and brotherly feeling that longed to express itself. He might have been caught up in this powerful current and borne into a haven of peace, had he been one to trust himself to the help of others; but he looked neither to the right nor to the left; his eyes were fixed on the floor; his brown, bony hands held his old straw hat in a crushing grasp; his whole attitude and aspect were repelling and stern to such a degree that none dared address him.
The crowd slowly passed on and out. Zeph sat alone, as he thought; but the minister, his wife, and little Dolly had remained at the upper end of the room. Suddenly, as if sent by an irresistible impulse, Dolly
stepped rapidly down the room and with eager gaze laid her pretty little timid hand upon his shoulder, crying, in a voice tremulous at once with fear and with intensity, "0, why do you say that you cannot be a Christian? Don't you know that Christ loves you?"
Christ loves you! The words thrilled through his soul with a strange, new power; he opened his eyes and looked astonished into the little earnest, pleading face.
"Christ loves you," she repeated; "oh, do believe it!"
"Loves me /" he said, slowly. "Why should He?"
"But He does; He loves us all. He died for us. He died for you. Oh," believe it. He'll help you; He'll make you feel right. Only trust Him. Please say you will!"
Zeph looked at the little face earnestly, in a softened, wondering way. A tear slowly stole down his hard cheek.
"Thank'e, dear child," he said.
"You will believe it?"
"You will trust Him?"
Zeph paused a moment, then rose up with a new and different expression in his face, and said, in a subdued and earnest voice, "I will."
"Amen I" said the Doctor, who stood listening; and he silently grasped the old man's hand.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
Wj|§IIERE is no flock, however watched
The air is full of farewells to the dying
And mournings for the dead;
Will not be comforted!
Let as be patient! These severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise,
Assume this dark disguise.
We see but dimly through the mists and
Amid these earthly damps
May be heaven's distant lamps.
There is no Death! What seems so is tran-
This life- of mortal breath
Whose portal we call Death.
She is not dead,—the child of our affection,—
But gone unto that school
And Christ himself doth rule.
T Enoch yearned to see her face again; ■£jj£«j> "If I might look on her sweet face again And know that she is happy." So the thought Haunted and harassed him and drove him forth At evening when the dull November day Was growing duller twilight, to the hill. There he sat down gazing on all below: There did a thousand memories roll upon him Unspeakable for sadness. By and by The ruddy square of comfortable light, Far-blazing from the rear of Philip's house, Allured him, as the beacon-blaze allures Hie bird of passage, till he madly strike Against it, and beats out his weary life.
For Philip's dwelling fronted on the street, The latest house to landward; but behind, With one small gate that opened on the waste, Flourished a little garden square and walled:
And in it throve an ancient evergreen,
For cups and silver on the burnished board Sparkled and shone ; so genial was the hearth; And on the right hand of the hearth he saw Philip, the slighted suiW of old times, Stout, rosy, with his babe across his knees And o'er her second father stoopt a girl, A later but a loftier Annie Lee, Fair-haired and tall, and from her lifted
hand Dangled a length of ribbon and a ring To tempt the babe, who reared hiB creasy
arms, Caught at and ever missed it, and thoy
laughed: And on the left hand of the hearth he saw