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ing of the waters was attributed by the Jews to the descent of an angel, for every thing mysterious was attributed to an angelic agency. And there is a touch of genuine poetry in the superstition they cherished, that from an angel's wing was shaken healing to the parted waters. We may apply it in our own way, and permit it to teach us that angels enter the heart of man only to impart new virtues to the recuperative energies of our moral nature. The water may have virtue to heal only by being troubled. A writer in speaking of a poet who is known to have been intemperate, and who wrote some of the purest and tenderest things, says: "The union of utter impotence of will, (of which drunkenness seems to us to have been a symptom, as well as of course a re-acting cause,) with fine qualities of heart, high intellectual powers, and strong relig ious sentiments, will surprise no one whose experience of mankind is not very limited. This has often suggested to us the consolatory hope, vague as it may be, that in many cases where the will has become quite powerless to direct the life, the inner spirit is entirely divorced from participation in vicious habits, and undergoes a process of purification by the very horror and loathing and remorse with which it regards the sensual and brutish companion which a Mezentian punishment attaches to it during this mortal pilgrimage." (Spectator on Hartley Coleridge. Living Age, June 21, 1851.) This is a beautiful thought, and may give us a better idea of many a gifted but wayward creature; but beyond this there is the suggestion, What an effect was produced on the man by these poetic stirrings of his superior nature by which the work of purification was carried on! It is more or less so with us all. We have all our better moments, when we despise and loathe the earthliness we carry about us-our moral infirmity, and the stirrings of high, devotional, or even manly thought concerning the dignity of man other than as the child of God, are refreshing. An angel has descended from heaven into our hearts; the fountain of life moves-the waters are healing, and for the time the soul is healed of its moral disease,--the blind see their real interests, the lame walk with the step of integrity, the halt are prompt to move aright, and the impotent become more powerful to resist wrong doing and error.
But with us the case is happier than with the Jews, they could not hasten the descent of the Angel-we can. The moving forces in both cases are invisible-no hand can touch them,
but the Soul will answer an invocation as Nature never will. Many a man in that waiting group around Bethesda, had already found the best angel in the thoughts which rose to heaven
the silent prayer that brought the refreshing influence of God's presence about his soul-the unheard speech of the Highest to his child. Inaudible is the rise of the waters such as Jesus spake of when he said they should be in the believer's heart, ever springing up into everlasting life. This moving of the waters of life, we can have by appropriate means; it will be ours without depriving others of a benefit they desire. We shall never be without a good hand to lead us into the midst of the healing.
What a desolate picture is that where this man who had an infirmity thirty and eight years, is so alone that his hopes are continually mocked-while he makes an effort to descend to the waters, another steppeth down before him, because that other has an helper. Thirty and eight years! what a length of time to endure an infirmity! What a story of deprivation and sorrow does that statement tell! What toils he might have performed, what pleasures enjoyed, what improvement he might have made, had that infirmity been away! And yet again, What a ministry for good it may have performed! What nearness to God it may have drawn him to which a more robust and healthy frame might have kept away, as many a man is made to think of home and return to it by sickness, who, had perfect health been his, might have passed on in his far journeyings and forgot the tendernesses of the dearest circle. But this desolate man had a work to do for us, for he drew out a beautiful trait in the Savior's character. How touching is the fact, that amid all the multitude at Bethesda, Jesus drew near the poorest and most forsaken. What a face for Jesus to read was that of a man thirty and eight years a sufferer-with none to help him-who had crept there alone, and at length gave himself up to despair. The most needy had the highest claims, and to this man Jesus draws nigh. He beheld him lying in the porch, he knew he had been a long time in that case, and spoke to him, "Wilt thou be made whole ?" How little did the infirm man know who asked that question, what power resided in that soul of redeeming love, and how better than the descent of any angel, was the coming of that Friend of the lowly. The man told the simple story of his fate,-" Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me
into the pool; but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me." This was enough. There was to be no delay, no parade, no sounding of a trumpet, but the words came, as the wind opens a flower, "Rise! take up thy bed and walk." Immediately-immediately the man was made whole, and he walked away. And what a Sabbath was that to him! Faintly may the invalid understand his joy when the sick chamber is left, and the first walk in the light and amid the blooms of early Summer brings luxury to the soul. True type of the rejoicing which is given when the heart is made pure by regenerating grace through the ministering angels of the Gospel, and the soul hears as it were a voice singing the song of full assurance,—
which had until now so completely absorbed his attention as to make him insensible to any object beyond the limits of his chamber, he met at first glance the whole flood of beauty pouring in upon him. Throwing aside the old worn volume, he gave himself up to the delicious sensations of the moment.
Every one knows from actual experience, the many delightful and sacred remembrances such an hour brings with vividness to the mind. It was a most refreshing transition from poring over hard problems and the mysteries of science, to the thought of home, and loved friends. Oh ! burst from the student's gushing heart, "oh! how will I toil on; overcoming every obstacle, persevering over great difficulties, opposing manfully all discouragements and faint-heartedness. Yes, this I will do for mother's and dear Violi's sake. How have they denied themselves enjoyments, even enduring willingly a life of severe labor, that I may be furnished with the means of acquiring an education. How self-forgetting they are! how tender of me, and how watchful for my ease and happiness. My good sweet sister shall not always deny herself the pleasures of youth, for me." Then he half murmured another name, even dearer to him than these, but was but faintly uttered, for he would not pronounce that loved word audibly, though none but the shining moon and glistening stars were auditors. "Will she not, too, rejoice in the progress I have made? How full of heavenly radiance was her face, when she spoke to me those words of encouragement and sympathy, which have ever since rung in my ear, and been whispered to me in every breath of heaven. She said, dear kind Ella, that my poverty and low rank in life, only bound her more closely and confidingly to me; that in her sight my earnest efforts to cultivate my intellect and improve all the faculties of my nature, was infinitely more praiseworthy than the advances of the rich and nobly born, who have no obstacles to surmount, no sacrifices to make." Walter, unable longer to control the emotions of his soul, and wearied into almost childish nervousness, buried his face in his hands, and burst into a flood of tears.
Walter Foster was the only son of a poor but estimable widow lady. Mrs. F. had in youth acquired an excellent and solid education, and knowing full well the value of such a requisition, was in every respect fitted to be the mother and adviser of a son like hers. She had early learned the peculiar taste of her boy's mind, and when this was done, her whole efforts and ener
gies were thrown into the work of his education. She did not attempt (as too many in like circumstances have done) to turn the current of his thoughts into a different channel. She never uttered in his presence one word of discouragement, although at times her heart sunk within her at the difficulties before her. She was truly worthy of so gifted a son as Walter, and all a mother's love and energy was put forth to carry into maturity his cherished plans.
"My son, (she would say) never despair. It is true there are obstacles mountain high before you, but God has given you talents; trust in him, and rest assured you will be prospered in your efforts to improve them. I need not tell you that I willingly take upon myself duties, that under different circumstances, my heart would become sick and faint in contemplating. Only be not too impatient. Slow will be your progress at first, but in time you will reap a full harvest of the knowledge you crave."
They were, it is true, poor; but who has, not seen verified in every day's actual experience, the truth, that poverty with unrelaxing perseverance, often accomplishes more than can be gained by the most prodigal supply of riches, if wanting in energetic action. So our friend found it. Providence seemed continually guiding and prospering her; she had been able to procure the necessary funds for preparing her son for a collegiate course. She had strained every muscle to do this, and denied herself a thousand comforts. Could she do more? How, then, was the greater expenses of his University life, to be obtained? She grew sick at the thought, but she did not despair.
Walter suggested the plan of being absent from his studies a part of the year, that he might engage in some occupation, and thereby bear a part of the burden that was falling so heavily upon his good mother. This she did not wish him to do, for she (anxious for him as a mother's love ever is,) feared that his frame, always delicate, would be unable to endure the exhaustion and fatigue of such a course. But no other way presented itself, and accordingly for the two first years of his college life he had adopted this plan. Still it was fast wearing him away. His cheek grew thin and pale. Mrs. Foster in terror and alarm for him, taxed herself still more to spare him she loved.
About this time, and while engaged in the occupation of teaching, he became acquainted with the intelligent and amiable Ella S, who having been early left an orphan, became an in
mate of an elder brother's family. Ella was not a dangerous or unfit associate for a student. She was not one to merely fascinate by smiles and the thousand witcheries of beauty and coquetry, which characterize the belle. She did not turn aside his mind from its duties and nobleness, by weaving around his heart an imaginary elysian, or lull his faculties into a sweet forgetfulness of their important offices, so that he turned with aversion to the plodding tasks of a student. Too much of this passes under the sacred disguise of love, but how barren of the fruits of that love which seeketh to ennoble, rather than to debase and enervate.
Walter never left her presence but with his whole soul kindled with a fresh desire to pursue whatever of good and praiseworthy he had in feebleness commenced.
Ella had a true woman's heart. Well could she offer sympathy and words of cheer to one who was striving against poverty and its attendant evils. She had herself, in her orphanage state, grieved in bitterness of spirit for a sympathizing heart. She had well improved her adversity. It had touched her bosom for the discouragements of others, and she well knew how to mete out to others that which she herself had so earnestly longed for.
A similarity of tastes and the peculiar trials of each, had insensibly drawn together the hearts of Walter and Ella. She had found in him her ideal of manly excellence, which was a soul spurning all unfavorable circumstances, and rising in strength and beauty to the station God designed for us all, but which can only be obtained by diligent striving. How different were the characters of Ella and Viola (Walter's only sister). The former adding to a heart of the richest affection, a manly independence and energy of action. The latter good and gentle, but a mere child in timidness, and mistrustful of her powers. She would fling her whole affectionate heart into another's existence, to be led gently along by them, sheltering herself under their kind protection. She could labor, aye, do any thing for one she loved; but had she no object to call out her energies, she would have shrunk from the same tasks.
It was surprising to note the different effect produced upon Walter by the presence of these two beings he so tenderly loved. Viola hanging upon his bosom, would pour out her warm heart's gushing love, in kisses and caresses, adding praises to her words of endearment. She was proud, and justly, too, of her hrother. She could
not sympathize with his intellect, but for this she cared not. She could love and labor for him, and knew that he truly loved her in return, and she craved nothing higher, this being her great joy. There was a charm about her artlessness, that drew you at once to her.
How unlike Ella. She was in truth a woman with all a woman's purest and noblest affections, but possessing a strength of mind and perseverance of will, that would have enabled her to meet any and every circumstance of life with firmness. What would have crushed the one, would have strengthened the other. Their differing spheres had no doubt much to do with the character of each. Viola had ever been watched and guarded as tenderly as an infant. She had been the pet and plaything of her home, while Ella was early called to buffet alone with the rough winds and storms of life.
Not long after the first scene in our story, Walter was sitting as usual in his solitary chamber, poring over his books. A light tap at the door was immediately followed by the entrance of one of his class-mates, who, handing him a letter he had procured for him on return from his walk, instantly withdrew. It was a strange hand-writing, and Walter was puzzled beyond conception. He had no correspondents but his mother and Ella. Who then could be the author of the epistle now addressed to him? On reading it he was still more perplexed, for the contents were as novel and strange as was the superscription. It ran thus:
DEAR SIR-A friend has long and silently been noting your self-denying exertions and noble efforts to obtain for yourself an education. It is indeed a praiseworthy object. Permit one who is deeply interested in your progress, to asPlease sist you in your laudable undertaking. accept the sum enclosed, and use it for your own improvement, and the furtherance of your plans.
Yours with true interest and regard,
AN UNKNOWN FRIEND.
Walter read it over and over again, and each time he perused it, his curiosity became more and more excited. Who could be the unknown benefactor? Who was there to feel an interest in his advancement, save his own confidential friends? How could he believe it a reality, an actual truth? that he was to be thus unexpectedly and almost miraculously relieved from the burden that was wasting away his strength and
debilitating his whole frame. His mother, too, how would she rejoice for him. She could now rest from her weary labors for him and dear Viola. Oh, his heart was too full to utter the thoughts of gratitude that were swelling his
They did indeed rejoice with him, his mother, Viola, and Ella too. Their hearts had long ached when they looked upon his cheek once so blooming and fresh, now losing its roundness, and becoming white and thin. They were truly grateful, and their tears of thankfulness told how heartfelt was their joy.
Walter already stood well among his classmates, and now that every impediment was removed, he made rapid progress, and at the end of his collegiate life, he came forth, if not a brilliant, yet a thorough classical scholar. True, his talents were not of that dazzling nature that carry to every heart a conviction of great ability. 'His was a mind well balanced, and deeply learned in those qualities that make up for the brilliancy of others. He possessed a clear, rich intellect, one that would assuredly bring success and appreciation along with it, though not perhaps as speedily as the former.
Letters from the unknown friend were punctually received, and always when mostly needed. This circumstance more than any other, was a matter of surprise to Walter. The benefactor was evidently some one near him, who was knowing to his every day necessities, else why so punctual in supplying his demands even as soon as each became due. His spirit often shrunk from dependance upon another's generosity, and he would have utterly refused the same from one, had it been offered openly. He was thankful for favors, but his sensitive soul would not permit him to willingly receive aid from others if the same object could be obtained by his own exertions. Whoever the friend might be, he surely was so well read in the peculiar points of character in him whom he wished to serve, as to know that only in the secretness of the plan, lay his success.
Walter became in time to look upon it as a direct act of Providence, and his mind grew calm under this impression. He had seen so much of the guiding hand of his Father all along his path, from his childhood up to maturity, and had witnessed so many circumstances dark and gloomy in themselves, working out for him the greatest benefits, that he became almost visionary in his belief in the dealings of Providence with man.
Space will not permit us to follow minutely each step in the journey of our friend Walter. We will accordingly pass over a few succeeding years, and glance at him as he is in his own home, and sustaining new relations in life. He has succeeded beyond his most sanguine hopes, and is now highly distinguished and esteemed for his rich talent. His profession offers him as much patronage as he desires, leaving him still leisure to perform the delightful duties of husband and son. Ella presides over his and her home, with a grace in exact keeping with her peculiarly lovable traits of character. Mrs. Foster and Viola have found with Walter and his amiable wife, a quiet that well compensates him for the toil of former days. Under the immediate influence of Ella, the timid reservedness of her sweet sister is giving way to a more womanly strength of mind, and Viola has found in the companionship of her brother's wife, a benefit a blessing which she well appreciates and improves.
"Come and sit by me, Walter, on our sofa, I have a letter I wish you to read with me," said Ella to her husband one evening after arranging every thing for his comfort, on return from his hard professional duties.
"What important intelligence does it contain," said Walter, seating himself beside her, “that it should bring such a glow to your cheek, and light up your whole face with an unusual expression of joy. Oh, a gentleman's penmanship, and not a strange one either," as he caught a glance of the same hand-writing that had for years so puzzled him. "How is this, Ella ?" and his face crimsoned with the excitement that rushed upon him whenever a thought of the unknown friend came into his mind.
"I will read it to you, Walter," said Ella, and she commenced reading aloud the mysterious epistle.
The letter was from the guardian of Ella, stating that as the term had expired in which she had herself wished him to preserve towards her the same relation that had devolved upon her childhood, he now stood ready to deliver up cheerfully to her, the little fortune left to her by her worthy parents, and ended by saying, "that to one who knew so well how to appreciate and use wealth, it was a joy to him to know that to such a one had been given such a blessing."
In an instant the whole truth flashed upon Walter. "Ella!" cried he, in a tumult of excitement, “is it to you my wife and best friend, that I am indebted for all I know of happiness,
and for all I most dearly prize in life? You have wronged me, Ella, by so long depriving me of the only recompense I could return for such favors, that of grateful thanks. But I had always thought you poor."
"You will forgive me, Walter, for concealing within my heart even one secret, which has not been shared with you. I wished to spare you all feeling of dependance upon me, as well as save myself the embarrassment of your words and acts of gratitude. My parents left me a sum at their death, and upon coming to years of ma turity, I resolved to gratify my love for doing good. To do this most effectually, my reason suggested some plan by which I could bestow, without subjecting the relieved to the unpleas ant feelings that will ever crowd into our minds on receiving aid and charity from others. I saw you toiling on, daily wasting away, and had it in my power to spare and sustain you. Do you think, dear Walter, my heart could be so selfish as to do otherwise than I have done? Oh, the joy I felt when I saw the bloom again return to your cheek, the light to your eye, and buoyancy to your frame. This has not been a solitary thrill of pleasure. When I have seen the mother striving with her whole energies to supply the wants of her little household group, and noted her discouragements of heart, her despairing and soul-sickness, then I have felt that wealth was indeed a blessing, and secretly have I relieved them. I could not subject them to the mortification of openly receiving charity. How many have felt that there was a sharper sting in the act of receiving charity than in the severest toil and poverty. Do not take from my over-brimming joy, by one act of gratitude. My love for you has prompted it; and had I not possessed this means of assisting you, my heart and my heavenly Father only knows how willingly I would have labored and sacrificed for your happiness and improvement. But we will forget all this now. Never let the subject be recalled, but the happiness that this hour has given us, we will never let die away; it shall live on ever as pure and ardent as now."
F. M. CHESEBRO'.
I SHALL SEE THEE NO MORE.
I SHALL see thee no more! when we parted in pain,