Scenes in the West or The Sunday-School and Temperance
SCENES IN THE WEST,
BY A MISSIONARY.
LUTHERAN BOARD OF PUBLICATION,
42 NORTH NINTH STREET.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1873, by the
LUTHERAN BOARD OF PUBLICATION,
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States in and
for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Inquirer Printing And Publishing Company,
Stereotypers and Printers.
The author of this volume has brought togethera few incidents in real life to illustratethe power of godliness in the individual, andthe blessings of the Sunday-school, the influenceof the prayer-meeting and the cause of temperancein the church and in the community.
That the God of all our mercies may blessthis little book to the reader, is the prayer ofthe author.
|V.||The Missionary Preaches||56|
|VI.||Mr. Steele’s Meeting||62|
|VII.||Mr. Mason and Mr. Wilson||69|
|X.||Sunday-school Organized—Local Preacher||92|
|XI.||Mr. Kerr and his Family||98|
|XII.||The Temperance Cause||109|
|XIII.||Mr. Truman—Missionary’s Departure||118|
|XIV.||Workings of the Sunday-school and Temperance Society||123|
|XV.||George and Mary||134|
|XVI.||Mr. Brown’s Family||140|
|XVII.||Missionary Again Visits the West||145|
SCENES IN THE WEST.
ALL nature seemed to be resting in a quietdreamy slumber. The bee had wellnigh laid up its winter store, and many of thebirds were preparing to leave for more genialclimes in the sunny south. All these were butthe harbingers of the cold storms that werelingering behind the snow-covered mountainsof the north. Indian summer, the season ofromance, like the life of a humble Christian, leaves its loveliest scenes to its departinghours. It was in the midst of these balmydays that you might have seen a traveler witha worn satchel in one hand and a staff in theother coming up a narrow lane leading to thehome of a prosperous Western settler. Hewalked slowly, for he had left behind himmany weary miles; his countenance, thoughcalm, was pale and languid; yet his eyeseemed to bespeak the hope that here hemight find the much-needed rest.
Two men were standing beside the gate atthe end of the lane when the stranger cameup. The one was a kindly disposed personwith but little force of character, and deficientin moral courage, whom we shall know asMr. Kerr. The other, whose name was Steele,was the owner of the premises.
He was a large man, selfish and resolute,a conceited formalist, bigoted, exceedinglyheadstrong, and greatly prejudiced againstall Christian zeal.
No sooner did Mr. Steele notice the approachof the stranger than he turned to Mr.Kerr and exclaimed: “There, I’ll bet you,comes that Sunday-school, temperance loaferI’ve heard so much of lately. I reckon heexpects to get in here; but I tell you, sir, my‘shanty’ don’t hold the like of him, while I’mboss here, ‘that’s said!’” This was utteredwith emphatic bitterness. To this passionateoutburst Mr. Kerr ventured a little palliationby the remark that he had heard that in theother settlement the people seemed to likethe missionary very well.
“You would have nothing to do with hisnonsense, would you?” retorted Mr. Steelewith a look of scorn.
“No,” feebly and insincerely muttered Mr.Kerr, “we have got along so far without it,and I guess we can get along without it a littlefurther.”
“That’s my ticket,” sharply added Mr.Steele.
By this time the stranger had reached thegate. A calm, pleasant smile lit up his palecountenance; and he accosted them with,
“Good evening, friends.”
“Good evening, sir,” responded Mr. Kerr.
“How d’ye do, sir,” thundered out Mr.Steele.
“This has been a very pleasant day,” venturedthe traveler.
“Yes, sir,” curtly replied Mr. Steele.
“I am very tired,” continued the stranger;“could I stay with you to-night?”
“You are the fellow who goes about lecturingon temperance, and getting up Sunday-schools,aint you?” sarcastically rejoinedMr. Steele, his face reddening.
“That is my calling,” meekly added theman of God.
“Then you don’t stay all night in myhouse; I don’t harbor fellows who are toolazy to work,” sneeringly answered the excitedMr. Steele.
“But I am very tired, and my head achesbadly; I’ll pay you well.”
“Cant help it. The sooner you maketracks the better,” retorted the unfeeling man.
“I am afraid it will storm to-night,” continuedthe missionary, pointing to a darkcloud which was looming up in the west.
“You might have stayed at home andminded your own business, instead of mindingother people’s, and kept out of thistrouble,” replied Mr. Steele, with a look sosevere that the poor wanderer lost all hopeof any comfort or favor from this seeminglyinhospitable dwelling; so he inquired howfar it was to the next house.
“That depends entirely upon which wayyou go,” mockingly answered the hard-heartedman, with a wink to Mr. Kerr, anda conceited smile at the unfeeling wit he haddisplayed.
“I expect to continue my labors westward,”gently added the missionary.
His soul was grieved at the hardness ofthis man’s heart, and for a moment he feltlike looking upon his persecutor with anger.But he remembered that even his Lord andMaster was mocked and derided; that “whenHe was reviled, He reviled not again; butas a lamb before his shearers is dumb, so Heopened not his mouth.” And the humblefollower of the Man of Sorrows in silenceoffered up the prayer, “Father, forgive them,they know not what they do.”
The door of common humanity beingclosed against him, he made up his mind tocontinue his journey, let the dangers andprivations be what they might. An angelseemed to whisper, “I will lead thee in theway in which thou shalt go;” so he tookcourage.
Being thirsty, he ventured to ask for adrink of water.
“You can go to the spring,” was the abruptanswer, and the cruel man turned uponhis heel, and in company with Mr. Kerr passedon to the barn, leaving the suffering onestanding by the gate alone.
But George, a lad of about ten years, andMary, a little flower of seven summers, hadlooked on and listened with the curiositycommon to children. Their hearts were filledwith pity toward the poor man; and, wheneven a drink of water was denied him, theinherent kindness, implanted in all our natures,was instantly awakened.
In a moment, as the missionary turned thecorner of the yard, the two children met himeach with “a cup of cold water.” “Here isgood fresh water, please drink,” said the littleones. His heart was melted at this unexpectedexhibition of kindness; and invokinga blessing upon the dear children, he raisedthe cup to his lips and was refreshed. Hethen opened his satchel, and gave each childa picture card and Sunday-school paper, alsocards for the men, together with a neat littletract for their mother. Bidding them good-by,he with a sigh resumed his lonely journey.
The children, happy in having done a kindness,hurried to their mother, and were soonshowing and admiring the papers and cards;she, mother-like, very naturally shared theirpleasure, but thought of the stranger with apang of regret, for she feared that he wouldtake the road leading into an unsettled region,infested with wild beasts and roving Indians.After admiring the pictures, she told thechildren all she knew of the Sunday-school,for which these beautiful things were made,at the same time hoping that her husband’sopposition to them might be removed.
“I wish there was Sunday-school here,”said George.
“Won’t there be Sunday-school here,mother?” exclaimed both at once.
“I’m afraid not,” said their mother, sorrowfully,knowing the hostility of many ofthe neighbors toward anything of the kind.
“Why not, mother?” innocently askedthe children.
This was one of those questions childrenoften ask, and which it is so hard to answer.
“I don’t know,” she replied, evasively, adding,“go give your father and Mr. Kerr theircards. They are at the barn.”
Hurrying out, their noisy delight soon arrestedthe attention of the men.
“What in the world is up now?” wonderedtheir father.
“See here, father, see here!” exclaimedthe children, holding out the cards.
“Who gave you these?” said he, reachingout his hand for the gifts, and suspecting thesource.
“The man at the gate; we gave him adrink, and he gave us these (showing theircards) and a little book for mother, and thisone for you and that one for Mr. Kerr.”
Looking for a moment at the engraving, heread, “For I was an hungered, and ye gaveme meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave medrink; I was a stranger, and ye took mein.”
Instantly the terrible reproof, associatedwith these words, awakened the man’s slumberingconscience. Writhing under its forcehe tried to construe the innocent gift into aninsult; then flinging it to the ground hestamped his foot upon it.
At this exhibition of anger all the joy ofthe children vanished.
Mary began to cry, and George wonderedwhat there was about the card to offend hisfather.
In the meantime, Mr. Kerr had read hiscard. The words were, “And these shall goaway into everlasting punishment, but therighteous into life eternal.”
“What have you got?” sneeringly askedMr. Steele, of his companion. Mr. Kerr readthe text with some emotion.
“Just what I expected! he thought to giveus a cut,” said the angry man, at the sametime adding many abusive words.
Mr. Kerr tried to assent to the remarks,but the words upon the card had touched hisheart; and he felt like hating himself forhaving yielded, against his convictions, to theunreasonableness of his neighbor toward anunoffending stranger. Putting the card inhis pocket, he was compelled to be an unwillinglistener to the tirade of a would-be Christian(for Mr. Steele was a member of church)against prayer-meetings, temperance societiesand Sunday-schools.
As soon as practicable, Mr. Kerr left forhome; his conscience still at work, accusinghim of cowardice, and partaking of another’ssin. “And these shall go away into everlastingpunishment,” like a poisoned arrow was festeringin his heart, until his guilty imagination conceivedthat the card contained his eternal doom.
Meeting his wife at the door of his house,he handed her the fatal card.
“Oh, the kind stranger gave you this!” sheexclaimed with animation. “He was here thisafternoon, and gave each of us one of the samekind, and left one for you. And then he prayedwith us. I wish he would settle here and getup a Sunday-school, of which he talked somuch. I believe he is one of the best of men.”
“I wish so too;” involuntarily broke fromthe full heart of the stricken man; “I believehe is a good man. He came to Mr. Steele’s afew hours ago, but was turned off.”
“Why didn’t you bring him home withyou?” she asked.
“Well, I know I ought to have done so;but I was afraid of Mr. Steele, who you knowhates all such people.” To avoid any morequestions on the subject, he asked to seewhat the man had left for him. The card wassoon handed him, and he read: “Fear notthem which kill the body, but are not able tokill the soul; but rather fear Him who is ableto destroy both soul and body in Hell.”
This was another arrow from the quiver ofthe Almighty. His wife soon detected thechange that had come over him, and withbecoming solicitude endeavored to find outthe cause; but in this her efforts were evaded.
“I was afraid of Mr. Steele,” thought he,“who would not even dare to kill my body—whilstI did not fear Him who is able to destroymy soul.” Leaving him in his sorrow,we will return to Mr. Steele.
The children, mortified and discouraged,had left the barn, and gone to their motherfor consolation in their disappointment. Thiswas always afforded them; for never was amother more kind to her little ones, and yetmore decided in her endeavors to train themin the right way.