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Tales and Sketches.
THE BAPTISM OF FIRE.
BY H. W. LONGFELLOW. As day was drawing to a close, and the rays of the setting sun climbed slowly vp the dungeon wall, the prisoner sat and read in a tome with silver clasps. He was a man in the vigour of his days, with a pale and noble countenance, that wore less the marks of worldly care than of high and holy thought. His temples were already bald; but a thick and curling beard bespoke the strength of manhood; and his eye, dark, full, and eloquent, beamed with all the enthusiasm of a martyr.
The book before him was a volume of the early Christian Fathers. He was reading the Apologetic of the eloquent Tertullian, the oldest and ablest writer of the Latin Church. At times he paused, and raised his eyes to heaven as if in prayer, and then read on again in silence. At length a passage seemed to touch his inmost soul. He read aloud :
“Give us, then, what names you please; from the instruments of cruelty you torture us by, call us Sarmenticians and Semaxians, because you fasten us to trunks of trees, and stick us about with fagots to set us on fire; yet let me tell you, when we are thus begirt and dressed about with fire, we are then in our most illustrious apparel. These áre our victorious palms and robes of glory; and, mounted on our funeral pile, we look upon ourselves in our triumphal chariot. No wonder, then, such passive heroes please not those they vanquish with such conquering sufferings. And therefore we pass for men of despair, and violently bent upon our own destruction. However, what you are pleased to call madness and despair in us are the very actions which, under virtue's standard, lift up your sons of fame and glory, and emblazon them to future ages."
He arose and paced the dungeon to and fro, with folded arms and a firm step. His thoughts held communion with eternity.
“Father which art in heaven !” he exclaimed, “give me strength to die like those holy men of old, who scorned to purchase life at the expense of truth. That truth has made me free; and though condemned on earth, I know that I am absolved in heaven !"
He again seated himself at his table, and read in that tome with silver clasps.
This solitary prisoner was Anne Du Bourg; a man who feared not man; once a merciful judge in that august tribunal upon whose voice hung the life and death of those who were persecuted for conscience' sake, he was now himself an accused, a convicted heretic, condemned to the baptism of fire, because he would not unrighteously condemn others. He had dared to plead the cause of suffering humanity before that dread tribunal, and, in the presence of the king himself, to declare that it was an offence to the majesty of God to shed man's blood in his name. Six weary months,-from June to December, he had lain a prisoner in that dungeon, from which a death by fire was soon to set him free. Such was the clemency of Henry the Second !
As the prisoner read, his eyes were filled with tears. He still gazed upon the printed page, but it was a blank before his eyes. His thoughts were far away amid the scenes of his childhood, amid the green valleys of Riom and the Golden Mountains of Auvergne. Some simple word had called up the vision of the past. He was a child again. He was playing with the pebbles of the brook,-- he was shouting to the echo of the hills, he was praying at his mother's knee, with his little hands clasped in hers,
This dream of childhood was broken by the grating of bolts and bars, as the jailer opened his prison-door. A moment afterwards, his former colleague, De Harley, stood at his side.
4. Thou here!" exclaimed the prisoner, surprised at the visit. “ Thou in the dungeon of a heretic ! On what errand hast thou come ?"
“On an errand of mercy," replied De Harley. “I come to tell thee "
“That the hour of my death draws near ?"
“That thou mayst still be saved.” .
“Yes; if I will bear false witness against my God, barter heaven for earth,-an eternity for a few brief days of worldly existence. Lost, thou shouldst say,- lost, not saved pus
“No! saved !” cried De Harley, with warmth; "saved from a death of shame and an eternity of woe ! Renounce this false doctrine,-this abominable heresy, and return again to the bosom of the church which thou dost rend with strife and dissension."
« God judge between thee and me, which has embraced the truth."
“ His hand already smites thee.”
“It has fallen more heavily upon those who so unjustly persecute me. Where is the king ?-he who said that with his own eges he would behold me perish at the stake !-he to whom the undaunted Du Faur cried, like Elijah to Ahab, “It is thou who troublest Israel !'- Where is the king? Called, through a sudden and violent death, to the judgment-seat of Heaven !- Where is Minard, the persecutor of the just ? Slain by the hand of an assassin! It was not without reason that I said to him, when standing before my accusers, Tremble ! believe the word of one who is about to appear before God; thou likewise shalt stand there soon,--thou that sheddest the blood of the children of peace.' He has gone to his account before me.”
“And that menace has hastened thine own condemnation. Minard was slain by the Huguenots, and it is whispered that thou wast privy to his death.”
“This, at least, might have been spared a dying man !" replied the prisoner, much agitated by so unjust and so unexpected an accusation. “As I hope for mercy hereafter, I am innocent of the blood of this man, and of all knowledge of so foul a crime. But, tell me, hast thou come here only to embitter my last hours with such an accusation as this? If so, I pray thee, leave me. My moments are precious. I would be alone."
“I came to offer thee life, freedom, and happiness.”
“Life, freedom, happiness! At the price thou has set upon them, I scorn them all! Had the apostles and martyrs of the early Christian church listened to such paltry bribes as these, where were now the faith in which we trust? These holy men of old shall answer for me. Hear what Justin Martyr says, in his earnest appeal to Antonine the Pious, in behalf of the Christians who in his day were unjustly loaded with public odium and oppression."
He opened the volume before him and read :
"I could wish you would take this also into consideration, that what we say is really for your own good; for it is in our power at any time to escape your torments by denying the faith, when you question us about it; but we scorn to purchase life at the expense of a lie ; for our souls are winged with a desire of a life of eternal duration and purity, of an immediate conversation with God, the Father and Maker of all things. We are in haste to be confessing and finishing our faith ; being fully persuaded that we shall arrive at this blessed state, if we approve ourselves to God by our works, and by our obedience express our passion for that divine life which is never interrupted by any clashing evil."
The Catholic and the Huguenot reasoned long and earnestly together; but they reasoned in vain. Each was firm in his belief; and they parted to meet no more on earth.
On the following day, Du Bourg was summoned before his judges to receive his final sentence. He heard it unmoved, and with a prayer to God that he would pardon those who had condemned him according to their consciences. He then addressed bis judges in an oration full of power and eloquence. It closed with these words :
“And now, ye judges, if, indeed, you hold the sword of God as ministers of his wrath, to take vengeance upon those who do evil, beware, I charge you, beware how you condemn us. Consider well what evil we have done; and, before all things, decide whether it be just that we should listen unto you rather than unto God. Are you so drunken with the wine-cup of the great sorceress, that you drink poison for nourishment? Are you not those who make the people sin, by turning them away from the service of God? And if you regard more the opinion of men than that of Heaven, in what esteem are you held by other nations, and principalities, and powers, for the martyrdoms you have caused in obedience to this blood-stained Phalaris ? God grant, thou cruel tyrant, that by thy miserable death thou mayst put an end to our groans !
“Why weep ye? What means this delay? Your hearts are heavy within you, your consciences are haunted by the judgment of God. And thus it is that the condemned rejoice in the fires you have kindled, and think they never live better than in the midst of consuming flames. Torments affright them not,-insults enfeeble
them not; their honour is redeemed by | The quivering flames darted upward and death, he that dies is the conqueror, and around ; and an agonizing cry broke from the conquered he that mourns.
the murky cloud, “No! whatever snares are spread for us,
“My God! my God! forsake me not, whatever suffering we endure, you cannot
that I forsake not thee !" separate us from the love of Christ. Strike, The wind lifted the reddening smoke like then,--slay,-grind us to powder! Those a veil, and the form of the martyr was seen that die in the Lord shall live again; we to fall into the fire beneath. In a moment shall all be raised together. Condemn me it rose again, its garments all in flame; and as you will,- I am a Christian ; yes, I am
again the faint, half-smothered cry of agony a Christian, and am ready to die for the was heard, glory of our Lord,-for the truth of the “My God! my God! forsake me not, Evangelists."
that I forsake not thee !" “Quench, then, your fires ! Let the Once more the quivering body descended wicked abandon his way, and return unto
into the flames; and once more it was lifted the Lord, and he will have compassion on into the air, a blackened, burning cinder. him. Live,-be happy,-and meditate on Again and again this fiendish mockery of God, ye judges! As for me, I go rejoicing baptism was repeated; till the martyr, with to my death. What wait ye for? Lead me a despairing, suffocating voice, exclaimed, to the scaffold !"
“O God! I cannot die!” They bound the prisoner's hands, and,
The chief executioner came forward, and, leading him forth from the council-chamber,
either in mercy to the dying man or through placed him upon the cart that was to bear
fear of the populace, threw a noose over him to the Place de Grève. Before and
his neck, and strangled the almost lifeless behind marched a guard of five hundred
victim. At the same moment the cord soldiers ; for Du Bourg was beloved by the
which held the body was loosened, and it people, and a popular tumult was appre
fell into the fire to rise no more. And thus hended. The day was overcast and sad;
was consummated the martyrdom of the and ever and anon the sound of the tolling
Baptism of Fire. bell mingled its dismal clang with the solemn notes of the funeral march. They
RELIGION AND BUSINESS. soon reached the place of execution, which
A minister with whom we are acquainted, was already filled with a dense and silent
in delivering an address to his congregacrowd. In the centre stood the gallows,
tion, suggested by the death of the late with a pile of fagots beneath it, and the Dr. Judson, took occasion to make the fol. hangman with a burning torch in his hand.
lowing remark: But this funeral apparel inspired no terror
“He was a great man, a christian hero; in the heart of Du Bourg. A look of
and has set before christians, of every rank triumph beamed from his eye, and his
and class, a bright example of self-consecountenance shone like that of an angel.
cration to their Master's service." With his own hands he divested himself of
A wealthy merchant, who was present. his outer garments, and, gazing round upon in speaking of the discourse, expressed the the breathless and sympathizing crowd, ex opinion that the remark ought to have been claimed,
modified; “for," said he, “in the case of “My friends, I come not hither as a thief Dr. Judson, the promotion of religion was or a murderer; but it is for the Gospel's his chief business; but my business is trade. sake!”
which requires the exercise of different A cord was then fastened round his waist, faculties, and different rules of life.” and he was drawn up into the air. At the We have no doubt that the merchant exsame moment the burning torch of the pressed in these words a very common senexecutioner was applied to the fagots be timent, but a sentiment which involves a neath, and the thick volumes of smoke very serious error, and one which, in rela. concealed the martyr from the horror tion to christians themselves, may be called stricken crowd. One stifled groan arose the great error of the times. from all that vast multitude, like the moan Yes ! the great practical error of the age, of the sea, and all was hushed again; save as far as the church is concerned, is here the crackling of the fagots, and at intervals brought out into the light. The crying the funeral knell, that smote the very soul. I want of Christendom, at the present time, is such a state of public sentiment among I the world, his relations to God, and his the churches as will lead christian men to destination for eternity. Two men of look at trade, commerce, and all worldly business may live under the same roof, business, from the christian point of view. may be members of the same firm, and Seen in this light, the revenue of the shop may have an equally respectable standing or the counting-room, will appear as of in the realm of trade, so that the world comparatively small importance in itself, shall recognize no great difference between but as of vast moment in relation to the them ; but the Searcher of hearts may see moral ends which it may achieve. Some of that, in the case of the one, business is used the finest triumphs which christianity has for a worthy end, while in the case of the ever realized, bave been found in the exam other, business uses him, so as to make his ples of those men who have learned how to life a servitude to itself. The one regards subordinate the activities of business to the business as a trust by which to attain the great ends of religion. To the christian end of his calling; the other regards it as merchant this practical lesson is just as im the chief end for which he was made, and portant as religion itself; for, in his case, for which all his powers were created. there is no true religion without it. If the The one regards business as a means of notion prevail in the mind of any one, that blessing the world ; the other regards the a man can be a genuine christian, and yet world as having been made merely for not carry religion into the sphere of his business. The one is “diligent in business," every-day life, nor recognize it as a pre so as to make the most of his stewardship siding, principle in scenes of business, it and to please Christ; the other is diligent will lead him into a fatal mistake; for such in business, so as to make the most of his an impracticable religion as that is not of fortune and to lavish all on himself. The the kind which our Saviour taught; it can one seeks to honour his Lord by his busisave no soul, it can do no good, and would ness; the other will imagine that when his be utterly unworthy of a revelation from business ceases to drive him, he will have heaven.
time for God's service, and that he will In the Old Testament we find a brief de
surely begin when he shall have little else scription of one moral hero, such as the to do. present age requires. He was a king. His Now the effect of a business-life on these name was Jehoshaphat; and of him the two men must be immensely different ; for sacred historian says, “he had riches and however much alike they may appear, howhonours in abundance, and his heart was ever constantly they may mingle in the kifted up in the ways of the Lord.” It is same circles, and be employed in the same the most remarkable encomium pronounced avocations, he that aims to serve God by on any character. As to wealth and dig his business is a very different character nity, he was the Louis Philippe of his day. from him who makes a god of business. “ His heart was lifted up”-not with pride The essential elements of character which of place-not with a selfish ambition to find scope and play in the soul of each are aggrandize his family, but with a lofty de different to their nature, and must develop sire to make his immense power subserve themselves in different results for ever. the cause of God and humanity.
How needful is it, then, to have betimes a • The men of action and of enterprise who
just estimation of the true end of life, and profess to be christians, and who find that
the moral value of business! How imbusiness, as an object of pursuit, engrosses
portant is it to see these things in the light their thoughts, interferes with a healthy of true christianity! For we may make piety, destroys their zest for religious read great mistakes by regarding things from a ing and conversation, diminishes their in delusive point of observation. A traveller terest in the progress of Christ's kingdom once, at night, mistook a lamp shining on & on the earth, and fires the passion for accu distant hill for a brilliant star. His faculty mulation, will see, on close enquiry, that of sight was not impaired, but his point of they are not doing business with a right view deceived him. But what a difference motive, or with any object in view that can between the supposed and the real objectbe acceptable to God. The motive with a flickering taper and a star of heaven! which business is engaged in, makes a world Such confusion is often made within the of difference, in all respects, as to the effect sphere of religion between things that differ, of business on the man, on his influence in | by looking at them only in the light of a
passing world--a deceptive glare which hides the real distinction between the small and the great, between the temporal and the eternal.
and for some minutes he beat about to no purpose. Small boats put out from the shore, and one of them picked him up when he was nearly exhausted, and he was brought to the steamer and lifted on board. Here was a fresh scene of distress, when the father and mother met again. He had returned from the watery grave himself; but their child, their pet lamb, was lost.' As he was raised on deck, the mother cried,' “The child, the child, where is it?". He looked at her, and with a thoughtfulness and beauty not to be expected in such a moment, answered gently, “Mary, God has it."
The boat still lingered, and the passen. gers were straining their eyes into the distance, hoping that one of the boats might yet rescue the child. It had now been half an hour in the water. Presently a shout went up, and the word was passed along that the child was found. It was picked up by one of the many in search, and a solitary oarsman rowed on with his precious charge. As he came alongside, the hardy old tar, with a tenderness of feeling that did him honour, covered the face of the child. He could not bear to shock the pa. rents with the sudden sight of their dead child! Yes, it was dead. It was taken on board, and the gentle lady who had sought to comfort the mother in her anguish, took the little one and opened its dress and laid her hand on its heart, but it was still! All the means that could be applied were of no avail to restore the spirit that had fled.
What a change was here! The boat reached its wharf, and the family, a mourning, wretched family, went off with their dead child to their dreary home. The papers, the next morning, mentioned, under the head of accidents, that a child was drowned from one of the ferry boats yesterday; but how little of the sorrow of that disaster is told in such a line! How much sorrow there is in this world, that we know nothing of!
THE DROWNING CHILD. A family, the father, mother, and their children, the youngest between two and three years old, had been making a visit, and were returning to the city of New York by one of the Williamsburg ferry boats, toward evening, on the 4th of July. They were evidently in humble life, and had had a rare treat in the pleasure of a holiday, dressed in their best, and flushed with the enjoyment of health.
They were sitting in the stern of the boat, and near the railing; the younger children playing near the parents, frolicsome as kittens. It was a picture pleasing to look on, and it made one's heart glad and grateful to see a group so joyful in each other, and evidently as blest among themselves as if they had been born to wealth.
It was a very pleasant day, and a pleasant hour of the day. A few minutes more would bring them home, and the children, tired with the day's play, would be asleep. Suddenly the youngest, frolicing on the floor, rolled under the railing, and in an instant was overboard. Many were looking on, but it was so sudden and unexpected that no one could arrest it. A shout was raised for the boat to be stopped, but before that could be done the father leaped over into the deep, and struck out manfully in search of his drowning child. The mother had shrieked with agony as her child had gone, and now that her husband was also overboard, her anguish was terrible to behold. A lady strove to console her; gathered the other children about her, and bade her trust in God and hope for the best. The father proved to be a noble swimmer, but the water was so agitated by the motion of the boat that he could see nothing of his child,
THE SABBATH QUESTION.
To the Editors of “ The Church.” Dear Sirs,
Your correspondent who furnished an article in your last in answer to a letter
from “An Enquirer after truth,” has confined himself within such narrow limits as to be unable to meet fully the arguments he opposes. I have, therefore, ventured to
send you a few lines, that I may help to | supply what has been left undone. I, for: