I can give you a little experience of my own family. Before I was fourteen years old the first thing I remember was the death of my father. He had been unfortunate in business, and failed. Soon after his death the creditors came in and took everything.
My mother was left with a large family of children. One calamity after another swept over the entire household. Twins were added to the family, and my mother was taken sick. The eldest boy was fifteen years of age, and to him my mother looked as a stay in her calamity, but all at once that boy became a wanderer. He had been reading some of the trashy novels, and the belief had seized him that he had only to go away to make a fortune. Away he went.
I can remember how eagerly she used to look for tidings of that boy; how she used to send us to the post office to see if there was a letter from him, and recollect how we used to come back with the sad news, “No letter.” I remember how in the evenings we used to sit beside her in that New England home, and we would talk about our father; but the moment the name of that boy was mentioned she would hush us into silence. Some nights when the wind was very high, and the house, which was upon a hill, would tremble at every gust, the voice of my mother was raised in prayer for that wanderer who had treated her so unkindly. I used to think she loved him more than all the rest of us put together, and I believe she did. On a Thanksgiving day–you know that is a family day in New England–she used to set a chair for him, thinking he would return home.
Her family grew up and her boys left home. When I got so that I could write, I sent letters all over the country, but could find no trace of him. One day while in Boston the news reached me that he had returned. While in that city, I remember how I used to look for him in every store–he had a mark on his face–but I never got any trace. One day while my mother was sitting at the door, a stranger was seen coming toward the house, and when he came to the door he stopped. My mother didn’t know her boy. He stood there with folded arms and great beard flowing down his breast, his tears trickling down his face.
When my mother saw those tears she cried, “Oh, it’s my lost son,” and entreated him to come in. But he stood still. “No, mother,” he said, “I will not come in till I hear first you forgive me.” Do you believe she was not willing to forgive him? Do you think she was likely to keep him long standing there? She rushed to the threshold and threw her arms around him, and breathed forgiveness. Ah, sinner, if you but ask God to be merciful to you a sinner, ask Him for forgiveness, although your life has been bad–ask Him for mercy, and He will not keep you long waiting for an answer.
The Star In The East. GUSTAVE DORE. Matthew, ii, 1-12.
Elijah’s Ascent In A Chariot Of Fire. GUSTAVE DORE. II Kings, ii.