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be brought to bear.–And who is to say that we are to ignore all this, or not value them and love them, because there is another unknown world yet to come ? Why, that unknown future world is but a manifestation of God Almighty's will, and a development of Nature, neither more nor less than this in which we are, and an angel glorified or a sparrow on a gutter are equally parts of His creation. The light upon all the saints in Heaven is just as much and no more God's work, as the sun which shall shine to-morrow upon this infinitesimal speck of creation. . . . About my future state I don't know; I leave it in the disposal of the awful Father,-but for to-day I thank God that I can love you, and that you yonder and others besides are thinking of me with a tender regard. Hallelujah may be greater in degree than this, but not in kind, and countless ages of stars may be blazing infinitely, but you and I have a right to rejoice and believe in our little part and to trust in to-day as in to-morrow.
I don't pity anybody who leaves the world ... I pity those remaining. . . . Out of our stormy life, and brought nearer the Divine light and warmth, there must be a serene climate. Can't you fancy sailing into the calm ? Would you care about going on the voyage, only for the dear souls left on the other shore ? But we shan't be parted from them no doubt though they are from us. Add a little more intelligence to that which we possess even as we are, and why shouldn't we be with our friends though ever so far off? ... Why presently, the body removed, shouldn't we personally be anywhere at will-properties of Creation, like
1 From letter to Mrs. Brookfield, November 1848.
the electric something (spark is it?) that thrills all round the globe simultaneously? and if round the globe why not Überall ? and the body being removed or elsewhere disposed of and developed, sorrow and its opposite, crime and the reverse, ease and disease, desire and dislike, etc., go along with the body-a lucid Intelligence remains, a Perception ubiquitous.
I am not sorry for most people, certainly not for those old and in pain, for whom sleep must be a consoler after the fitful fever . . . in yonder vast next world. When we talked about it last, I said I thought it seemed lonely there. Thinking of it is thinking of God inscrutable, immeasurable, endless, beginningless, supreme, awfully solitary. Little children step off this earth into the infinite, and we tear our hearts out over their sweet cold hands and smiling faces, that drop indifferent when you cease holding them, and smile as the lid is closing over them. I don't think we deplore the old who have had enough of living and striving and have buried so many others, and must be weary of living—it seems time for them to go—for where's the pleasure of staying when the feast is over, and the flowers withered, and the guests gone? Isn't it better to blow the light out than sit on among the broken meats and collapsed jellies and vapid heeltaps ? I go -to what I don't know—but to God's next world, which is His and He made it. One paces up and down the shore yet awhile—and looks towards the unknown ocean, and thinks of the traveller whose boat sailed yesterday. Those we love can but walk down to the pier with us—the voyage we must make alone. Except
1 From letter to Miss Perry, February 1853.
for the young or very happy I can't say I am sorry for any one who dies. 1
SIR JAMES YOUNG SIMPSON
HAVE not lived so near to Christ as I desired to
do. I have had a busy life, but have not given so much time to eternal things as I should have sought. Yet I know it is not my merit I am to trust to for eternal life. Christ is all. . . . I like the plain, simple Gospel truth, and don't care to go into questions beyond that.
It has happily come to this—I am a sinner needing a Saviour, and Jesus is the Saviour I need. I have mixed a great deal with men of all shades of opinion. I have heard men of science and philosophy raise doubts and objections to the Gospel of Christ, but I have never for one moment had a doubt myself since I believed.2
HARRIET BEECHER STOWE
(1811-1896) Each new morning ray
Brings no sigh for yesterday. THIS HIS is my idea of heaven-a land where we can
recall nothing to sigh for; the present overpays the past.
1 From letter to Mrs. Procter, November 26, 1856.
2 From Memoir, by Dr. Duns. Spoken a few hours before his death.
3 From letter written in 1872.
I have been looking over and arranging my papers.
My own letters, too, full of bygone scenes in my early life and the childish days of my children. It is affecting to me to recall things that strongly moved me years ago, that filled my thoughts and made me anxious when the occasion and emotion have wholly vanished from my mind. But I thank God there is one thing running through all of them from the time I was thirteen years old, and that is the intense unwavering sense of Christ's educating, guiding presence and care.
It is all that remains now.1
In a sense our lives are irreparable. If we shrink, if we fail, if we choose the fleeting instead of the eternal, God may forgive us ; but there must be eternal
I have thought much lately of the possibility of my leaving you all and going home. I am come to that stage of my pilgrimage that is within sight of the River of Death, and I feel that now I must have all in readiness day and night for the messenger of the King. I have sometimes had in my sleep strange perceptions of a vivid spiritual life near to and with Christ, and multitudes of holy ones, and the joy of it is like no other joy—it cannot be told in the language of the world. What I have, then, I know with absolute certainty, yet it is so unlike and above anything we conceive of in this world that it is difficult to put it into words. The inconceivable loveliness of Christ! It seems that about Him there is a sphere where the 1 From letter to her son Charles, Sept. 30, 1880.
2 From letter written in 1882.
enthusiasm of love is the calm habit of the soul, that without words, without the necessity of demonstrations of affection, heart beats to heart, soul answers soul, we respond to the Infinite Love, and we feel His answer in us, and there is no need of words. All seemed to be busy coming and going on ministries of good, and passing each gave a thrill of joy to each as Jesus, the directing soul, the centre of all, “over all, in all, and through all," was working His beautiful and merciful will to redeem and save. I was saying as I awoke
'Tis joy enough, my all in all,
At Thy dear feet to lie.
And none can higher fly. This was but a glimpse; but it has left a strange sweetness in
CHARLES DICKENS (1812–1870) In this world there is no stay but the hope of a
better, no reliance but on the mercy and goodness of God.2
You know that you have never been hampered with religious forms of restraint, and that with mere unmeaning forms I have no sympathy. But I most strongly and affectionately impress upon you the priceless value of the New Testament, and the study of that book as the one unfailing guide in life. Deeply respecting it, and bowing down before the character of
1 From letter written in 1887.