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Zeph Higgins was quarrelsome, exacting, and stubborn to such a degree that he was repulsive to the village people. His first real trouble came in the death of his loving, patient wife-whose last request was that he would put away all hard feelings, and make up his old feud with the church.
FROM " POGANUC PEOPLE."
house,its walls hung with cobwebs; its rude slab benches and
ZEPH HIGGINS CONFESSION. 249
dim rays scarcely gave light enough to read the hymns. There was nothing outward to express the real greatness of what was there in reality. From the moment the Doctor entered he was conscious of a present Power. There was a hush, a stillness, and the words of his prayer seemed to go out into an atmosphere thrilling with emotion, and when he rose to speak he saw the countenances of his parishioners with that change upon them which comes from the waking up of the soul to higher things. Hard, weather-beaten faces were enkindled and eager; every eye was fixed upon him; every word he spoke seemed to excite a responsive emotion. The Doctor read from the Old Testament the story of Achan. He told how the host of the Lord had turned back because there was one in the camp who had secreted in his tent an accursed thing. He asked, “can it be now and here, among us who profess to be Christians, that we are secreting in our hearts some accursed thing that prevents the good Spirit of the Lord from working among us? Is it our hard feeling against a brother? Is there anything that we know to be wrong that we refuse to make right—anything that we know belongs to God that we are withholding? If we Christians lived as high as we ought, if we lived up to our professions, would there be any sinners unconverted 2 Let us beware how we stand in the way. If the salt have lost its savor wherewith shall it be salted 2 Oh, my brethren, let us not hinder the work of God. I look around on this circle and I miss the face of a sister who was always here to help us with her prayers; now she is with the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven, with the spirits of the just made perfect. But her soul will rejoice with the angels of God if she looks down and sees us all coming up to where we ought to be. God grant that her prayers may be fulfilled in us. Let us examine ourselves, brethren; let us cast out the stumbling-block, that the way of the Lord may be prepared.” The words, simple in themselves, became powerful by the atmosphere of deep feeling into which they were uttered ; there were those solemn pauses, that breathless stillness, those repressed breathings, that magnetic sympathy that unites souls under the power of one overshadowing conViction. When the Doctor sat down, suddenly there was a slight movement, and from a dark back seat rose the gaunt form of Zeph Higgins. He was deathly pale, and his form trembled with emotion. Every eye was fixed upon him, and people drew in their breath, with involuntary surprise and suspense.
ZEPH 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-wrongWRONG! I knew I was wrong, but I wouldn't give up. It's ben jest mny 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, “O, 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; "ob, do believe it !"
“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.
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!" said the Doctor, who stood listening; and he silently grasped the old man's hand.
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
HERE is no flock, however watched | We see but dimly through the mists and and tended,
May be heaven's distant lamps.
There is no Death! What seems so is tranThe air is full of farewells to the dying
sition: And mournings for the dead ;
This life of mortal breath
Whose portal we call Death.
Let us be patient! These severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise,
Assume this dark disguise.
She is not dead,—the child of our affection,
But gone unto that school
And Christ himself doth rule.
In our embraces we again enfold her, She will not be a child:
But a fair maiden, in her Father's mansion, Clothed with celestial grace;
And beautiful with all the soul's expansion Shall we behold her face.
And though, at times, impetuous with emotion
We will be patient, and assuage the feeling
By silence sanctifying, not concealing
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 suitor 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 his creasy arms, Caught at and ever missed it, and they laughed:
ENOCH ARDEN AT THE WINDOW.
In that great cloister's stillness and seclusion,
Day after day we think what she is doing
fear after year, her tender steps pursuing,
Thus do we walk with her, and keep unbroken
Not as a child shall we again behold her;
ENOCH ARDEN AT THE WINDOW.
'UT Enoch yearned to see her face again; o “If I might look on her sweet face #so 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 The 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 on the left hand of the hearth he saw