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   Chapter 25 No.25

The Good Time Coming By T. S. Arthur Characters: 9500

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


SOME incidents interrupted the conversation at this point, and when it flowed on again, it was in a slightly varied channel, and gradually changed from the abstract into matters of more personal interest.

"What a mystery is life!" exclaimed Mrs. Markland, the words following an observation that fell from the lips of Mr. Willet.

"Is it a mystery to you?" was asked, with something of surprise in the questioner's tone.

"There are times," replied Mrs. Markland, "when I can see a harmony, an order, a beauty in every thing; but my vision does not always remain clear. Ah! if we could ever be content to do our duty in the present, and leave results to Him who cares for us with an infinite love!"

"A love," added Mrs. Willet, "that acts by infinite wisdom. Can we not trust these fully? Infinite love and infinite wisdom?"

"Yes!-yes!-reason makes unhesitating response. But when dark days come, how the poor heart sinks! Our faith is strong when the sky is bright. We can trust the love and wisdom of our Maker when broad gleams of sunshine lie all along our pathway."

"True; and therefore the dark days come to us as much in mercy as the bright ones, for they show us that our confidence in Heaven is not a living faith. 'There grows much bread in the winter night,' is a proverb full of a beautiful significance. Wheat, or bread, is, in the outer world of nature, what good is in the inner world of spirit. And as well in the winter night of trial and adversity is bread grown, as in the winter of external nature. The bright wine of truth we crush from purple clusters in genial autumn; but bread grows even while the vine slumbers."

"I know," said Mrs. Markland, "that, in the language of another, 'sweet are the uses of adversity.' I know it to be true, that good gains strength and roots itself deeply in the winter of affliction and adversity, that it may grow up stronger, and produce a better harvest in the end. As an abstract truth, how clear this is! But, at the first chilling blast, how the spirit sinks; and when the sky grows dull and leaden, how the heart shivers!"

"It is because we rest in mere natural and external things as the highest good."

"Yes-how often do we hear that remarked! It is the preacher's theme on each recurring Sabbath," said Mrs. Markland, in an abstracted way. "How often have words of similar import passed my own lips, when I spoke as a mentor, and vainly thought my own heart was not wedded to the world and the good things it offers for our enjoyment!"

"If we are so wedded," said Mrs. Willet, in her earnest, gentle way, "is not that a loving Providence which helps us to a knowledge of the truth, even though the lesson prove a hard one to learn-nay, even if it be acquired under the rod of a stern master?"

"Oh, yes, yes!" said Mrs. Markland, unhesitatingly.

"It is undoubtedly true," said Mrs. Willet, "that all things of natural life are arranged, under Providence, with a special view to the formation and development within us of spiritual life, or the orderly and true lives of our spirits. We are not born into this world merely to eat, drink, and enjoy sensual and corporeal pleasures alone. This is clear to any mind on the slightest reflection. The pleasures of a refined taste, as that of music and art, are of a higher and more enduring character than these; and of science and knowledge, still more enduring. Yet not for these, as the highest development of our lives, were we born. Taste, science, knowledge, even intelligence, to which science and knowledge open the door, leave us still short of our high destiny. The Temple of Wisdom is yet to be penetrated."

"Science, knowledge, intelligence, wisdom!" said Mrs. Markland, speaking slowly and thoughtfully. "What a beautiful and orderly series! First we must learn the dead formulas."

"Yes, the lifeless scientifics, if they may so be called, must first be grounded in the memory. Arrangement and discrimination follow. One fact or truth is compared with another, and the mind thus comes to know, or has knowledge. Mere facts in the mind are lifeless without thought. Thought broods over dead science in the external memory, and knowledge is born."

"How clear! How beautiful!" ejaculated Mrs. Markland.

"But knowledge is little more than a collection of materials, well arranged; intelligence builds the house."

"And wisdom is the inhabitant," said Mrs. Markland, whose quick perceptions were running in advance.

"Yes-all that preceded was for the sake of the inhabitant. Science is first; then knowledge, then intelligence-but all is for the sake of wisdom."

"Wisdom-wisdom." Mrs. Markland mused again.

"What is wisdom?"

"Angelic life," said Mrs. Willet. "One who has tho

ught and written much on heavenly themes, says, 'Intelligence and wisdom make an angel.'"

Mrs. Markland sighed, but did not answer. Some flitting thought seemed momentarily to have shadowed her spirit.

"To be truly wise is to be truly good," said Mrs. Willet. "We think of angels as the wisest and best of beings, do we not?"

"Oh, yes."

"The highest life, then, toward which we can aspire, is angelic life. Their life is a life of goodness, bodying itself in wisdom."

"How far below angelic life is the natural life that we are leading here!" said Mrs. Markland.

"And therefore is it that a new life is prescribed,-a life that begins in learning heavenly truths first, as mere external formulas of religion. These are to be elevated into knowledge, intelligence, and afterward wisdom. And it is because we are so unwilling to lead this heavenly life that our way in the world is often made rough and thorny, and our sky dark with cloud and tempest."

Mr. Willet now interrupted the conversation by a remark that turned the thoughts of all from a subject which he felt to be too grave for the occasion, and soon succeeded in restoring a brighter hue to the mind of Mrs. Markland. Soon after, the visitors returned home, all parties feeling happier for the new acquaintance which had been formed, and holding in their hearts a cheerful promise of many pleasant interchanges of thought and feeling.

Many things said by Mr. Willet, and by his mother and sisters, made a strong impression on the mind of Mrs. Markland and her daughter. They perceived some things in a new and clearer light that had been to them vailed in obscurity before.

"Flora is a lovely girl," said Fanny, "and so wise beyond her years. Many times I found myself looking into her face and wondering not to see the matron there. We are fortunate in such neighbours."

"Very fortunate, I think," replied her mother. "I regard them as having minds of a superior order."

"Flora is certainly a superior girl. And she seems to me as good as she is wise. Her thought appears ever lifting itself upward, and there is a world of new ideas in her mind. I never heard any one talk just as she does."

"What struck me in every member of the family," said Mrs. Markland, "was a profound religious trust; a full confidence in that Infinite Wisdom which cannot err, nor be unkind. Ah! my daughter, to possess that were worth more than all this world can offer."

A servant who had been despatched for letters, brought, late in the day, one for Mrs. Markland from her husband, and one for Fanny from Mr. Lyon. This was the first communication the latter had sent to Fanny direct by post. The maiden turned pale as she received the letter, and saw, by the superscription, from whom it came. Almost crushing it in her hand, she hurried away, and when alone, broke the seal, and with unsteady hands unfolded it, yet scarcely daring to let her eyes rest upon the first words:-

"MY EVER DEAR FANNY."-[How her heart leaped as she read these words!]-"I write to you direct by post, for there remains no longer any reason why our correspondence should be a concealed one. I have also written to your father, and shall await his response with the deepest anxiety. Let his decision in the matter be what it may, I shall forever bear your image in my heart as a most sacred possession. Will you not write immediately? Conceal nothing of the effect produced on your father's mind. Send your letter as addressed before, and it will be forwarded to my hands. May heaven bless you, dear Fanny! In haste, suspense, and deep anxiety.

LEE LYON."

Mrs. Markland's letter from her husband was very brief, and rather vague as to his purposes:

"I will be home, if possible, this week; but may be kept here, by important business, over Sunday. If so, I will write again. Every thing is progressing to my fullest satisfaction. Little danger, I think, of my dying from ennui in the next twelve months. Head and hands will both be pretty well occupied for that period, if not longer. There is too much vitality about me for the life of a drone. I was growing restless and unhappy from sheer idleness and want of purpose. How does our dear Fanny seem? I feel no little concern about her. Mr. Lyon makes no direct proposition for her hand, but it is evidently his purpose to do so. I wish I knew him better, and that I had, just now, a freer mind to consider the subject. Weigh it well in your thoughts, Agnes; and by all means observe Fanny very closely. Dear child! She is far too young for this experience. Ah, me! The more I think of this matter, the more I feel troubled.

"But good-by, for a little while. I am writing in haste, and cannot say half that is in my thoughts."

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