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been found, that every attempt to muster and organize, as it were, the party of the faithful in this house, has always failed. In general, this failure has been occasioned by two circumstances, the first and most fatal of which has ever been the arrogance of some one or other of the members themselves; and the other, some trick of the enemy, by which he has found means to slide in some of his own party into their councils and assemblies.”
This," said I, “is a lamentable state of affairs : and is there no hope of a present amendment ?"
“Things must remain as they are,” replied my uncle, as I have told you many times before, till the Master comes,—then all will be right.”
“And what is required of us under these circumstances ?" I asked, speaking somewhat fretfully.
“ We must stand in our places, and do our own work, the interpreter being our guide and director, and not be quitting our own especial duties to set the world upon wheels, which will never go round. I tell you, nephew, there is enough for you and me and ten thousand more to do in the place which the Lord has appointed us; and remember that it will be time enough to muster and count numbers, when we see our Lord's ensign on the hill.* Do you not know, that the numbering of the people is no concern of ours, neither is it agreeable to the Lordt that we should meddle therewith? Cannot you credit our Lord's word, who asserts in his letters that his people are more in number than the sand of the sea ?I And I much doubt whether this is a boast which the enemy will be able to make in the long run, although the odds seem to be much in his favour at present.
“Well," I replied, “to be plain with you, uncle, I do
Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." 1 Cor. xi. 3.
* " And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from afar, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly." Isaiah v. 26.
"And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done : and now, I beseech thee, O Lord take away the iniquity of thy servant ; for I have done very foolishly." 2 Sam. xxiv. 10.
“That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies." Gen. xxii. 17.
not see the wisdom and the policy of all this; to be sure the Master ought to know his own affairs best, but why and wherefore he should give the enemy time to strengthen himself, and to increase his numbers, I cannot see. Why should the Lord delay his coming? Why does he not make speed and appear among us, and set all things right at once? Truly I cannot see the wisdom of this, nor the sound policy; in short, uncle, I do not understand it.”
My uncle seemed to have some difficulty to restain himself to hear me out (for to be sure I was speaking with gross presumption), however, he so far commanded himself as to reprove me mildly, bidding me look to a certain clause in the Lord's letters,* and then adding, “ You talk of wisdom, young sir, but you forget mercy; our Lord is merciful; and what, I ask, were he to come at this moment, what might you expect, who have dared thus to speak of the Master ? See you not that it is in mercy that he delayeth his coming, in order that he may give space for such as you to be brought to a better way of thinking through the teaching of the interpreter.”+
I was silenced by this remark, for it occurred to me then for the first time, that the Lord delayed his coming, I not from any disregard to the sufferings of his people, but to give the more time and space for the repentance of those who were disobedient; and I know not that any thought which was ever put into my mind worked more effectually with me than this in bringing me into the right way, though, as will be seen hereafter, it was very long before my stubborn will submitted itself to that of my Lord. All this time we had been sauntering through the outer court, and we had now come to the castle-gate.
*“Nay but, О man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus ?" Rom. ix. 20.
+“ Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruits of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain." James v. 7.
[ “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Where
fore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that · ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.' And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation ; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given 'unto him hath written unto you.” 2 Peter iii. 13-15.
It was a strong, well-fenced gate, and there was a porter's lodge on the side of it, but the gate was swinging backward and forward, as if no one cared whether it were opened or shut ;-so my uncle called to the porter, * but he did not appear either at the first or second call, and then came out stretching and gaping like one roused from sleep. Moreover, I saw that he was accompanied by several huge dogs, which came out with him from the lodge, but not a cur among them wagged his tongue, though I was as strange to them as to their master.
"The porter should watch, and the dogs should bark," said my uncle as he passed on," but our watchman sleeps, and our dogs are dumb,t but it will all be set right when the Master comes.” So we passed on, and presently we had left the house behind us, and come into the gardens, which were various, and in places very beautiful; though it struck me that nature had been strangely violated about the new parts of the castle, and opposite the principle windows of those parts, every tree being cut and trained into artificial forms, different species being grafted on one stock, and the very earth being cut and carved into such shapes and forms, as left nothing but sharp angles and straight lines over all its surface. Then there was not a point of view in which some object of art, some statue, or flight of steps, or ballustrade, or obelisk, or artificial grotto, did not present itself to the eye; quite destroying the simplicity of natural scenery, and substituting the works and devices of man, for the beautiful images of nature. I observed also that an abundant stream of water, which ran from the mountains into the garden, was tortured, and twisted, and partitioned off into such a variety of ramifications as soon as it entered the pleasure-ground, that it wholly lost its freshness in traversing so many artificial mediums, and before it passed out into those portions of the gardens and parks which were less disturbed by the hand of man, its waters were so foul that they were unfit for drinking ;f and
** For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch." Mark xi, 34
* His watchmen are blind : they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark ; sleeping, lying down, loving to slum. ber." Isaiah lvi. 10.
"As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there : all my springs are in thee." Psalm lxxxvii. 7.
hence, as my uncle told me, the servants were obliged, if they wanted a draught of pure water, to send for it to the fountain itself. “And who,” said I, as I looked around me upon all these fantastical distortions of nature, and ill-arranged productions of art," whose whim has this been to spoil nature's works so effectually, and at such immense cost, as must have been used here ?"
“ Whose," replied my uncle, “but the housekeeper's, together with the Father Peter, when he was in his best, or rather I should say, his busiest days; for there are some people whose busiest days are not their best. Madanie, as we call her, pretends to a fine taste, and it would be almost high treason in this house to question her pretensions of this kind; however, you shall judge and compare those parts of the domain where she has exercised her skill with those which have remained here as our Lord left them.” So we passed on, and leaving the more public parts of the park and gardens behind us, we entered upon a more solitary portion of the domain, -a sort of wilderness,* indeed, it first appeared to me; but it was, nevertheless, uncommonly beautiful, and it was scattered with little cottages, which, as my uncle said when he pointed them out to me, were as the nests of doves in the holes of the living rocks.
“This,” said my uncle, looking around him with delight, when he found himself in the bosom as it were of this beautiful region, was a favourite place of my Master's when he was last with us ; and there are many of his servants scattered here and there in those quiet restingplaces among the rocks ;I though I do not say that all here are faithful to the Master, no more than I would say that all there (pointing to the castle, whose towers were seen beyond the groves, through which we had just passed), are unfaithful to him. Nowhere in the present state of affairs can we say that our Master's party is without a mingling of the other, any more than
*" And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they
should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Rev. xii. 6.
“O my dove, that art 'in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice ; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely." Sol. omon's Song ii. 14.
"I did know thee in the wildemess, in the land of great drought.” Hosea xüi. 5.
we could assert that there is any place, chosen and favoured of the enemy wherein to set his seat, where there may not be a sprinkling of these before you, and on the right hand and the left, and above and below. See, how rich is that verdure of the valley at your feet: and see, how the torrent which comes tumbling over the heights carries fertility into the meadows, which extend themselves on the distance as far as the eye can reach beyond the opening of the hills. Then again, look at the rugged heights, those bulwarks of rock, scattered with every variety of beautiful tree,* affording shade and refreshment to the little cabins of the peasants; there are many in those cottages who love the Master, and who, though oppressed by their present rulers, and condemned to scanty fare, are content, nay, full of joyt in the hope of the speedy return of the Lord to comfort his people, and to establish his own dominion. It is this that the old people speak of to their children, teaching them the songs which will be sung when he appears, and pointing to the snowy mountains which you may see beyond the woods, not on the verge of the horizon, but as it were listed above the clouds which rest upon the horizon; over which, we are informed by the Master's letters, he will appear at his second coming, and from whence we shall hear the rushing of his chariot wheels, sounding as the thunders of the heaven.”I.
My uncle then directed my eye, and I saw for the first time a range of sparkling peaks, listed above the clouds, yet distinguishable from the clouds which rolled over
*“ Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season ; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Psalm i. 1-3.
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Psalm cxxi. 1.
"He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet. And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind. And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies. Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled. The Lord thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice. And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.” 2 Sam. xxii. 10-15.