T. S. (Timothy Shay) Arthur.

Light on shadowed paths online

. (page 2 of 18)
Online LibraryT. S. (Timothy Shay) ArthurLight on shadowed paths → online text (page 2 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook






HE days grow darker and drearier as
we get older." This came from one of
two friends, whose years had fallen
into the "yellow leaf."

" But, there shall be light at eve-
ning," said the other, in a cheery

" Not unless the order of iTature be
reversed, Mr. Fairfax," w^as replied, " When the sun
sets, day goes out in darkness,"

" And yet, for all this, friend Ascot, there will be
light at evening. Not half so dark as feared, will the
shadows fall ; and, quickly, shall the east grow radiant
again. Has it not always been so ? Have we not al-
ways found light at evening, instead of tlie famed Egyp-
tian blackness. Take your own experience. Think
back over the dark days through which you have passed


and to the close of which you looked with a shudder.
Did not light come at evening ? The sun broke through
lifting clouds ; or, day came suddenly in the east — a
purer, calmer day than any you had ever known."
. " I often wish that I could see with your eyes, Mr.
Fairfax," replied the friend. "But my natural temper-
ament is different. I am apt to look on the gloomy side
of things ; to turn my back to the light."

" Of course, if Y.^e turn ourselves from the light, we
cannot receive its blessing. And yet, sitting down, of
our own choice, among shadows, we complain that the
days grow darker and drearier as we get older."

The door of the room where the two old men were
sitting opened, and a young woman entered with a tray
in her hand, on which were two saucers of ripe straw-
berries. She set them down on a table, saying, with a
smile :

" They are just from the garden. I thought you
would enjoy them."

" Light in the evening ! " Mr. Fairfax looked at his
friend, as the young woman went out. Dropping his
eyes to the floor, Mr. Ascot mused for a little while, then
said, partly speaking to himself :

" Yes, it is lighter than I anticipated. I thought
this day, in the days of my life, would go down in the
very blackness of darkness. I was angry with my way-


ward son, when he took him a wife, because I fancied
he had stooped in marriage. He had never been much
comfort to me before that time, and I gave up all hope
in him for the future. But there was a good providence
in the event, which I did not then see. Even while I
was drawing around me the curtains of doubt and
gloom, her hand was moving among the overhanging
clouds, and bearing some of their heaviest folds aside.
To my son she proved a good angel. He loved her, and
she was worthy of his love. You know that he died.
I did not, at first, feel like receiving the widow home.
There were no children, and I said to myself, ' She is
nothing to me now. Why should I take up the burden
of her support ? Let her go back among her friends.'
Partly to satisfy public sentiment, and partly because
her pure and loving nature had begun to influence me,
I took her home. It was the closing of a day of sor-
row and disappointment, and yet I say it thankfully, at
the evenino; time there was lio;ht. No dauo-hter could
be more lovino" or more thoucjlitful of every comfort.
What should I do without her ? "

" Yet only a little while ago you complained that, as
years increased, the days grew darker," said Mr. Fair-

" And so I find them." Mr. Ascot's countenance,
which had brightened while he spoke of his daughter-


in-law, fell again. " There may be a little gleam liere
and there — a struggling of light, in feeble rays, through
broken spaces — but, I see over all things a steadily in-
creasing gloom."

'' From whence does it come, my friend ? This
gloom is an effect. Do you see the cause? "

" Tlie causes are manifold. Everywhere disappoint-
ment tracks my path. The full promise of spring has
never come in the summer-time, nor the promise of sum-
mer at fruit gathering. Always, realization falls below
the hope. So it has ever been with me, my friend ; un-
til now I have lost all confidence in the future ; have
ceased to look for any good.

" And yet," said Mr. Fairfax, " even while you are
thus complaining, good gifts are showered upon you in
rich abundance."

" I should like to see them," answered Mr. Ascot,
half amused, yet with a flavor of irony in his voice.

" Sometimes there is obscurity of vision. The ob-
jects exist, but we do not perceive them. I think it is
so in your case."

" Ah ? " with a faint, incredulous smile.

" Take your natural life," said Mr. Fairfax. " What
is lacking to your enjoyment? "

" O dear ! almost every thing," was impulsively an-


" What ? Is there lack of pleasant food, or refresh-
ing drink, or soft and warm clothing, for the body ?
Have you not all things in liberal abundance ? Is any
thing desired for comfort absent from your dwelling ?
or, does an enemy threaten to despoil you ? "

Mr. Ascot shook his head. " I have nothing to com-
plain of in this respect. " But " He paused,

grew thoughtful, and remained silent. •

" Yet, for all this, your heart is troubled. There is
on your mind a weight of dissatisfaction — you feel a
constant yearning after something not clearly seen ;
the nature of which is not clearly apprehended. Your
days are not sunshiny, and you feel, as the evening draws
on, that it will go down in clouds."

" Yes. You state the case exactly."

" And still I say," Mr. Fairfax spoke cheerily again,
" that there will be light in the evening. Always, even
in the most external events of your life, when the period
of trial, or sorrow, or misfortune closed — when the
day's dreaded termination came — light poured in from
the west through rending clouds, on the day of a new
and higher state, broke in the purpling east. The in-
stance to which you a little while ago referred is but one
of hundreds that stand recorded in your memory, if you
will open the book and read. But, for you and for me,
my friend, there is a day going down, toward the eve-


nincr of which thoucrht cannot fail often to look forward.
Shall there be light then ? Will the last setting of our
sun leave us in darkness ; or shall it be only the herald
of a day-spring from on high ? "

" You have touched the key note of a depressing
theme," was answered. " Some men turn from the
idea of death stoically, and some wdth indifference, while
others contemplate the event serenely, and see in it only
a brief passage to heaven. Not so with me. The thought
of this last time comes always in gloom. I turn from
it in depression — sometimes with a shudder."

" And yet you are a church-member."

" Yes."

" And have, I think, tried earnestly to keep the
divine law."

" As far as I understand the commands of God, I
have tried to live up to them. The time was when I
did not give much heed to this law ; but, for many
years past, I have not wilfully gone counter to its clear

" If ye love me, keep my commandments. If ye
continue in my Word, then are ye my disciples indeed.
What more than this ? ", The friend spoke in a low,
impressive voice. " If we obey the divine law, sincere-
ly ; that is, because it is the divine lav/, and not because
we may have wordly gain as nominal Christians, we


need have no fear of the last time. Death will come
as a gentle spirit, and taking us by the hand, lead us
through the valley. There will be light at evening,
though the declining day be veiled with clouds."

Sooner than either of the friends had imagined, this
prophecy was closed. A year had not passed, when
Mr. Fairfax learned, one day, that Mr. Ascot was sick.
He found the daughter-in-law in tears.

" Not seriously ill, I trust," he said.

*' We have very little hope of him," was answered in
a voice choked by sobs. " He seems to be failing rapidly.*'

" I am pained to hear this," said Mr. Fairfax.
" How long has he been sick ? "

*' For some months I had thought him failing ; but
he made no complaint. Three weeks ago he became
suddenly ill, and has been rapidly going down ever

" What about his state of mind ? "

" He is very calm."

Mr. Fairfax went up to the sick chamber. On the .
face of his old friend he saw death written ; not in fear-
ful lines, but in radiant characters. A smile broke
over the pale features, lighting them up as if a curtain
had just been drawn aside, admitting the sunshine. The
hands of the two old men were laid within each other,
and tightened.


" I did not, until now, hear of your illness," said Mr.
Fairfax, " or I would have seen you before."

" It has been severe, breaking me down rapidly,"
was feebly answered. Then, after a brief pause, he add-
ed — " The evening about which we talked, one day
not long ago, has come."

" That evening which comes, soon or late to all."

" Yes."

" And is there light ? "

" There is light, my friend. For a little while it
seemed as if the day would go down in blackness ; but
angel hands soon commenced folding back the cloudy
curtains that shut away the sun-illumined sky, and now,
instead of darkness, there is light. Instead of sun-set,
it is sun-rising. Even as I trembled at the approaching
shadow, a sweet voice cried to me, ' Lo, the morning
breaketh ! ' "

'' And all fear is gone ? "

" What is there to fear ? " feebly answered the sick
man. " God is just and merciful. He knows what we
are ; how much we have been tempted ; and how sin-
cerely we have tried to keep His law. He is a discern-
er of the thoughts and intentions. Our purpose to do
right, even though we have often failed of right action,
will be the witness in our favor. Here, confidently, I
rest my case, and tranquilly await my Lord's decision."


" Actions are really good only in the degree that they
have the inspiration of a good purpose," said Mr. Fair-
fax. " Only such actions find favor with God. So,
resting in confidence on your will to do right, you look
for the joyful words — 'Well done ! ' "

Mr. Ascot closed his eyes and lay still for some time.
The look of heavenly peace did not fade from his coun-
tenance. Presently the e^^es opened again, but their
expression was new. They saw, but not the fixed and
circumscribed objects in the death chamber. There had
been granted a clearer vision — mortal in vestures were
folded away. The lips moved, as the face grew bright.
Mr. Fairfax bent to hear :

" It shall come to pass — that — at evening time —
it shall be light."

" God's promise fulfilled," whispered Mr. Fairfax.
" The evening has come, and it is light ! "

"Light — light!" Faint as a sigh the response
came, in the last motion of dying lips.

The night and the morning had met, day breaking in
beauty on a human soul. In the evening time there
■was light.





F she could only get sleep, sound refresh-
ing sleep. What would I not give for
power to confer this blessing on my
child ! You must give her anodynes."
The doctor shook his head.
" Nature is taking care of this," he
answered. " There come many periods
of unconsciousness in every twenty-four
hours. She has little snatches of slum-
ber, by which the nerves are tranquilized and the body
refreshed ; and these are better for her than the heavy
sleep of opium. Believe me that I am not indifferent
to the case. No — no — my heart is in it. Were she my
own child, she could hardlv dwell more in mv thoughts,
nor tax in any higher degree my skill."

The doctor went away, and the mother returned to
her place by the bedside of her sick child.



Care never failed — hand never wearied. Still love
was bound in service. It could reach so far, and no
farther. At the utmost limit of use it stood in tears
over its own weakness, sighing " What would I not give
to my beloved ! "

" It is so hard to see her suffer ; to know that she has
not one hour of rest from pain — one night of peaceful
sleep," said the mother to a friend, and the friend an-
swered :

*' It cannot last long. Soon there must come a sleep
that will medicine all pain."

*' You will kill me if you talk so ! " A pang went
through the mother's heart. " I cannot give up my
precious child. I cannot — I will not see her die ! "

A low cry of suffering came from the next room
where the sick girl lay, and in a moment afterwards
mother and friend were at the bedside.

" Where is the pain darling ? " was the mother's
anxious question.

A hand moved feebly, as if to touch the region of

" Is it in your side ? '*


" Let me raise you higher on the pillow. There.
Do you feel better now ? "

But the forehead was not smooth, nor the mouth


placid. This change had wrought no ease, as the moth-
er saw.

As they sat, bending towards her, the mother clasped
her hands, and in half-despairing tones, said :

" Lord, give her sleep ! "

There was a pause — a kind of hush — the penetra-
tion of a new sphere. Gradually, the countenance of
the sick orirl changed. The lines and indentations of
her forehead, that it hurt you to look upon, smoothed
themselves out ; the lips softened ; the lashes drooped,
and lay without quivering, on her cheeks. How still
the chamber grew !

" She is going to sleep," said the mother, whispering
at the ear of her friend. " Do you think God heard
me just now, and sent the rest and peace I asked for ? "

" He is good — nay, goodness itself. His love for
Mary is tenderer than even your love."

They drew back from the sleeper, noiselesssly, drop-
ping the window curtains, that darkness might rest on
her eyelids and weigh them down more surely.

" It can hardly be tenderer than mine. But, do you
think God heard my prayer ? " said the mother.

" You have prayed, many times that she might have
sleep ? "

" O yes."

" But never perhaps, in the same spirit that moved
you just now. You felt helpless and despairing."


" Yes."

" Willing to abandon all, so that your precious one
might be at peace. You cried out — ' Lord, give her
sleep ! ' And, in that moment, you loosened your clasp-
ing arms. He has sent her sleep — if not in answer to
your prayer, in answer, it may be, to your state —
broken, at last, by suffering, into submission."

" Into submission ! " There was a thrill of fear and
pain in the mother's voice. " Submission to what ? "

" His ways are not as our ways, dear friend ! But
they are always in mercy and loving kindness. And
they will be so now. Could he have sent a greater
blessing to this dear one than the sleep which now rests
upon her like heaven's benediction ! "

The mother did not answer, but sat in statue-like still-
ness, for a minute. Then rising, she drew back the
window-curtain to let in the lio;ht again. Her manner
was deliberate, yet under repression, as if she were
holding down some struggling impulse. From the win-
dow she crossed to the bed, her friend, who had risen
with her, moving at her side. Both stood, for a short
space, looking down at the sleeper. Her countenance
was even more placid than when they gazed upon it a
little while before — softer and more infantile in its ex-
pression of repose.

" She sleeps sweetly," said the friend, in a whisper.


" Dear child ! " was breathed in response.

" What would ive give to our beloved ? '* resumed
the friend, — " Wealth, and beauty, and all delight.
But He giveth his beloved sleep. Your prayer is an-

A wild paroxysm, and then a calmer state. Angels
of consolation were present with the angels of resur-
rection ; and while the latter were opening the gates of
life, the former were giving peace.

" You would not awaken her from this sleep," said
the friend, as they stood looking down afterwards upon
the pure white vesture of clay, which the soul had put
off for a body made of spiritual substance — imperishable
and immortal ; — stood looking down at the pure white
vesture, lying in the perfume of bursting flowers, thrown
over it by loving hands.

" He giveth his beloved sleep." This was the moth-
er's answer, as she looked through tears, into the face
of her friend. The angels of Consolation had not been
with her in vain.





HE lifted lier sad, patient eyes to tlie
speaker's face, and gazed at her stead-

" When we say death, the angels
understand resurrection."

Still no remark, but an earnest,
questioning look.

" There is no death, in the sense
you and I have understood the word.
Does the worm really die, or only rise, through a won-
derful transformation, into a higher state of being ? Is
it death, or only resurrection into a new life ? And has
the soul of man feebler vitality than the life-spark of a
stupid grub ? when its earthly state is completed, shall it
not rise in a new and more beautiful body, made of spirit-
ual substances, and with a new development of powers,
infinitely transcending all mortal endowments ? "


And still, there was no answer : but a few rays of
light came into the sad eyes.

" Paul tells us that the invisible things of the other
world may be understood by the things that appear
in this. Let us take the birth of a lovely aeriel being sim-
ultaneously with the apparent death of a repulsive worm,
as a type of the soul's resurrection. The worm did not
really die, but its life put on in a new birth, higher
beauty of form, and developed higher instincts. Before
it was all of the earth, earthy ; in its transformation, it
became changed into a creature of more etherial sub-
stance, fitted to enjoy the heaven of sunshine, air, and
flowers. If it is so with the worm in its death, w^hat
may we not hope and believe for man ? "

" Oh, my sister," said the sad-eyed listener, speak-
ing for the first time, and in a voice that was mourn-
ful as the sound of falling tears : " if I could but
comprehend this — if I could only see anything but the
grave's impenetrable darkness, and my babes lying there
dead, I would feel like a new being. But I saw all
beauty, sweetness, and love go out of their dear faces,
and their soft flesh put on marble coldness. They were
dead — dead ! I thought my breath would stop when
the close coffin lids shut over them : and I have felt
the weight of earth that covers them, lying ever since their
burial upon my heart. Dead — dead ! The breath


went out of tliem, and they were gone — gone for-
ever ! "

" It was a resurrection, dear Agnes ! " replied tlie sis-
ter, w^ho had come in her love, from a distant home, to
speak words of consolation in a time of sorrow, — " A re-
surrection of their souls, clothed in forms of immortal
beauty. When they ceased to breathe in this natural
world, their lungs expanded with the air of a spiritual
world, and their hearts, bounding with love, sent the
currents of a heavenly vitality through all their veins.
Look past the grave : past the shadows and darkness :
past the cold dead clay. Your children are yet alive.
What you saw buried, was only their cast-off earthly
garments. They have garments now of spiritual sub-
stance, that cannot be soiled by evil, nor marred by

" If I could only be sure of this, sister," answered
the bereaved one.

" From whence came the tender love that filled your
heart, sister? Was it born of yourself? No. God
gave it when he gave you those children. He sent this
love for them into the world for their protection. It was
his love, not yours ; only yours as the children were
yours. Can you believe this ? "

The mourner was silent.

" From whence have you life ? "


*' It Is God's gift."

" Yes. We liave no life in ourselves ; else would we be
gods. If, therefore, life is God's gift, so are all good af-
fections ; and as a consequence that tenderest of all af-
fections, a mother's love for her children. Now if
mother-love is from God, will it not go with the child-
ren he takes from earth to heaven ? And will he not
give them into the care of angels ? I can believe noth-
ing else."

" It is a beautiful thought," said the sister, her sad
eyes growing more luminous. " Oh, if it were to me
an unquestioned truth ! "

" Let your mind dwell upon it. Picture to yourself
angelic homes, filled with the beauty, and grace,
and happiness of childhood. Homes, into which there
is the birth of a child simultaneously with the death of
a child on earth. Think of your babes in one of those
homes, lying on the breast of an angel, into whose heart
God has given a fulness of mother-love as far above
yours as are her celestial capacities."

Was that a smile winning its way over the face of
sorrow ? It v^as something so far removed from pain or
grief, that it looked like a smile.

" If I were only certain that it was so with them ! "
she said, with an almost fluttering eagerness.

" Is it not a more rational thought than yours ? More


rational than to think of so much beauty and sweetness,
buried up in the earth ? It was the lovehness of their
souls that gave such exquisite grace to tlieir bodies ;
their innocence that ensphered them with love, and
made every motion, look, and tone so full of all win-
ning attractions. This did not, and could not die. It
was not flesh, but spirit. The soul merely laid off its
robes of clay, to put on garments such as the angels

" And you fully believe this, my sister ? "
" As undoubtingly as I believe in my existence. Did
not the Lord say of little children, ' Their angels do al-
ways behold the face of my father ? ' Take this as
you will, and is it not an assurance to us, that children
are under the especial care of angels ? Not their bo-
dies only, but in a more intimate degree, their immortal
spirits, which are of infinitely more value thanT their
bodies. Can this care and love cease when the clayey
vesture is laid oflp forever?" No! For then, these
loving ann;els — ' their ansfels ' — can have them more
entirely as their own, and draw nearer to them, because
all earthly and perverting influences are removed from
their souls."

" Dear children ! " said the sister, clasping her hands
together, and looking upward with eyes full of light.
*' Dear, dear children ! May it indeed be thus with you !


May you be in your Father's house, cared for by His

"Doubt not for an instant," was replied to this —
" not for a single instant ! It Is well with them ; better
even than your imagination, made fruitful by love,
could portray. Does not the word Heaven include, In
one thought, all perfection, all beauty, all felicity ?
Your babes are in Heaven. What more could you de-
sire for them ? "

"*' In Heaven ; in Heaven ! " The sister closed her
eyes, and sat very still, trying to bridge the dark gulf
of death, and walk over it in thought. She made the
passage, and saw her babes on the other side. Tlie
grieving arch of her lips lost its clear outline in a smile
that covered it like opening flowers.

" Yes, in Heaven, Agnes, where our mother went
years ago."

" Dear mother I If she should know them as mine !
Do you think that possible, sister ? "

"Why not?"

" Oh, if I could believe that ! " said the mourner.

" You may believe, dear sister, that God will let our
mother know your babes, if in that knowledge would
come to her any increase of happiness."

" Oh, I am sure it would make her happier," was an-
swered, with a new-bom enthusiasm. " How the


thought warms my heart ! Oh, sister ! I feel that it
must be as you say. That my lost ones are in a heav-
enly home."

" It is just as true, love, as that you and I are in an
earthly home. There are two worlds ; this natural world,
and the spiritual world. Here, all forms are of natural
substance — there, all forms are of spiritual substance.
That world is the world of causes ; this world the world
of effects ; and as all effects correspond with their causes,
we may, with the clearest reason infer, that such things
as exist here in a natural manner, exist in that world in
a spiritual manner. If there are trees and flowers here

— green fields and shining rivers — habitations — cities

— garments — and the like, made of natural substances ;

2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryT. S. (Timothy Shay) ArthurLight on shadowed paths → online text (page 2 of 18)