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THE MISERY OF THOSE WHO ARE UNDER
THE ANGER OF GOD,
EXEMPLIFIED BY THE UNHAPPINESS OF A CHILD
UNDER THE ANGER OF HIS FATHER.
HENRY slept till midnight, about which time be awoke. It was dark, and the wind whistled, as it often does in an autumn or winter's night in England. Henry bad often heard the wind whistle before, but it had never sounded so dismally in his ears as he thought it now did. At one time it sounded as at a distance, sweeping over the fields ; then it came nearer and nearer, and rustled among the trees, the leaves of which were beginning to fall; and then it came close, and shook the window. Henry was frightened, and covered his head over with the bed-clothes. What was it that made Henry afraid of this wind ? It was because he knew that he had been a very bad boy: he was in disgrace with his papa, and he knew that he deserved God's anger.
After a while Henry fell asleep again, and did not wake till morning Henry got up, and looked out of the window : it had rained very hard during the night, and the wind had scattered the damp leaves over the garden. Henry went down stairs, with a sorrowful heart: the study door was half open: Henry, peeping in, saw his papa reading his Bible at his desk. Mr. Fairchild looked very grave: suddenly he turned his head, and looked towards the door. Now was Henry's time: he should have run up to his papa, and knelt down before him ; but, instead of doing so, he ran away into the garden. There he saw Betty feeding the
fowls in a little yard which ran along the back of the garden, and he asked for a bit of bread. She brought what he asked for, without speaking a word, and gave it him, with a cup of milk, over the pales. When he gave the cup back to her he spoke to her again, but she turned away without answering him. Then Henry began to cry again, and walked sorrowfully to his favourite walk in the coppice; but even this his favourite walk now appeared to him dismal : there were no flowers to be seen, by reason of the fallen leaves, which nearly covered all the pathway: and the trees waved their head's backwards and forwards in the wind. Poor Henry had never felt himself so unhappy before: his papa's displeasure was the cause of his sorrow, and made him think that even the woods and the fields were changed.
I know not how long Henrie had squntered about the coppice, but it seemed to him a long while, when suddenly he heard a very sweet sound of one singing in the wood, and, standing still to listen, he heard a child's voice singing these words :
JERUSALEM, thou blessed place!
Jerusalem, thou seat of love!
That so I may thy glory see ! The voice ceased, and Henry then walked on towards the part of the wood from which the sound came, and, coming to a turning of the pathway, he saw a little boy sitting on a trunk of a tree which had been felled, and leaning his back against one of the great branches. It was a part of the wood facing the mid-day sun, and sheltered from the wind. The little boy was dressed in coarse clothes, and those well patched and darned. He had ceased singing, and was now reading, and that so busily, that Henry came up close to him before he perceived him. When the little boy looked up
from his book, Henry saw that he was Charles Truenian, John Trueman's second son; one of the most pious little boys in all that country, and a great favourite of Mr. Fairchild, and of Mr. Somers, who had himself taken great pains in his education.
“Good morning, Master Henry,” said Charles, getting down from his seat and putting his book into his pocket. “ But, what is the matter ? you look very white and you have been crying! I hope nothing amiss has happened ?”
* Ah! Charles,” said Henry, “I am very unhappy, very unhappy indeed!” He then told Charles all that had happened: how obstinate he had been, and in what way his father had punished him ; and that he was still shut out from his father's
company, and from his mamma's and sisters'. “ And oh ! Charles," he said, “ you cannot think how miserable I am! Nobody looks at me, nobody speaks to me! The very trees and hills and fields seem to be changed! This pretty coppice, in which I used to delight so much, looks pleasant no longer! And last night I was so frightened by the wind - J thought there was something on it coming for me I can't tell what I thought, I shook so !"
“ Ab! Master Henry,” said Charles, “it is because you are under your father's displeasure, and have deserved to be so, that you feel all these fears, and are so miserable. Whilst we are little, our parents, if they are holy people, stand in the place of God to us : when they smile and are pleased with us, we are happy: all the good things, victuals and clothes and house and teaching, come through them to us : and when they cast us off, we feel a little like those' miserable wretches who are cast aside by God.”
“ What do you mean by being cast aside by God ?" said Henry.
“Why," answered Charles, “when people have for a long time been very hardened in their sins, and set their faces against God and our dear Saviour, refusing, and perhaps mocking at, the Holy Spirit, then God forsakes them : he takes away all comfort and happiness from their hearts; and then all the riches and grandeur and pleasures of the world are unable to give them ease; no, nor can they draw comfort from their friends, be they ever. so kind, or from any other earthly good.”
Henry said nothing, and Charles went on: “My father," said he," tells of one 'Squire Collins, who lived many years ago not very far from Hill Top: he was the most desperate wicked man of all the country, a great cock-tighter, aud one who spoke more oaths than other words. . Well, this man had every thing which heart could wish for of earthly goods-lands and bouse, wife and children, health and strength—but he was so very miserable, that at last, in a fit of despair, he shot bimself dead! My father knew him very welt. Oh, Master Henry! it is a dreadful thing for a child to be under the anger of a good parent; and still worse to be under the displeasure of the blessed Lord God; for who can dwell with everlasting burning?"
Whilst the little boys were conversing together, they climbed upon the tree, and sat down together in the place where Charles was when Henry came up.
My father,” said Charles, “ has often talked to us children about hell, as we have been sitting round the fire on a Sunday evening, till we have been in a quake. The Bible speaks of it as a lake burning with fire and brimstone, as it is written : « The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.' (Matt. xiii. 41, 42.) But the chief misery of the damned,” my father has often told
" will be the absence of God. I dare say you would not much mind having only bread and water, and not having your papa's comfortable parlour to go into, Master Henry," continued Charles, “if you thought that your papa was pleased with you?”
“ No, indeed," answered Henry; would but forgive me, and love me again, I would go without my dinner for a month to come with all
« if my papa
" Then if a father's anger is so hard to bear," said Charles, “ what must the anger of God be, and the hidings of his face for ever, and ever, and ever?-O Lord Jesus Christ," added the little boy,