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Do you hope yer love yer father and mother? No! Ef yer love um, yer know yer luv um. Yer don't hope nuthin' 'bout it. Yer know it [tones rising]. So, ef yer love the Lord, yer know it. Ef yer only hope yer love Him, 'tain't no luv 't'all. Yer goin' down the road to perdition, straight. [In a milder tone.] Don't yer want religion?"
"Yes; I have wanted to be a Christian ever since I can remember," answered Eirene.
"How bad do you want to be one? Bad enuf to give up all yer pride, and confess yer sins?"
"Now where's yer hope? [In a tone of triumph.] It don't amount to nuthin'. But I'll pray fur yer jest the same; there's them that's brought into the kingdom of heaven by force. I'll pray fur yer jest the same " [with profound spiritual condescension]. Thus the youth knelt down and lifted up his voice in prayer. The sound immediately attracted the attention of the sisters who had gathered around Tilda; when they turned, and saw Eirene leaning against the tree, with her head bowed, as if overcome by some emotion, and the young evangelist kneeling before her, calling upon God to have mercy upon her soul, Tilda believed that her dearest wish was about to be realized -that her friend, struck with conviction the moment she reached the campground, was now to be converted. She, with the other sisters, hastened to the spot, and, immediately kneeling down, formed a circle outside the evangelist, with Eirene, leaning against the tree, the central figure. Joining the youth, all commenced ejaculating and praying
together; thus a special prayer-meeting was at once inaugurated. "Oh, do, Lord!" "Yes, Lord!" "Come, Lord!" "O, blessed Jesus, speak peace to her soul." "O Christ, forgive her sins!" "O God, show her her wickedness!" These were the expressions, in every possible tone, producing one wild discord of supplication, which now smote the ears of the bewildered Eirene. Each communicated excitement to the other: every moment the cries grew louder, the groans deeper, the entreaty more importunate, till, at last, overcome by pure nervous excitement, Eirene sank upon her knees, sobbing as if her heart would break. This prostration was the signal for a still more clamorous outbreak. Cries of "Lord, have mercy on this poor girl!" "O Lord, save Eirene Vale!" rent the air with a perfect tornado of sound.
This scene was witnessed by one person with extreme displeasure. It was Brother Viner, who had left the breakfast-table, notwithstanding the entreaties of the sisters, and seated himself within the Busyville tent. He was an ardent lover of Methodism; his mother, a saint of the Mrs. Fletcher type, had nurtured him in the love of its memories and in devotion to its principles. In his inmost heart he believed that the vitality and zeal of his sect was the salt of the Christian world. But he was too intelligent to believe that zeal born of ignorance was as worthy as that tempered by knowledge. While believing it to be a necessity to some, he was so gentle a gentleman himself, he could no more be boisterous in sacred worship than he could be loud and vulgar in the expression of any sentiment whatever. He was too sensitive to the nature of others not to see, by the aspect of this girl, that she was more overcome by fear and grief at being thus assailed, than by any conscious conviction of sin. "She would make a lovely Christian, I know," he said to himself; "we need more such women in our church. must not be repelled and driven from us by a repulsive manner of approach." Yet, as he looked, he saw some of his
young converts and some of his most zealous members in this praying circle, and knew well that, if he were to manifest any disapprobation of their meeting, he could not, by any possibility, explain to their satisfaction such a course. Such a procedure, he knew, would bring them to the sudden conclusion that their minister had "backslidden." Yet, as their minister, he must either join their circle, or break it; he concluded to do the latter. The first season of prayer was over; they refreshed their fearfully-taxed energies by singing a hymn, and were beginning their cries anew, when Brother Viner walked quietly up to their circle, and said, "Brothers and sisters, we must do all things decently and in order. I understand your feelings. You are so happy in prayer, and so moved for the salvation of souls, that you wish to pray continually. This you may do. You may lift your hearts silently to God without ceasing. But some of you have ridden many miles this morning. You all need your breakfast. After you have refreshed yourselves, come to the prayer-meeting in the tent, at eight o'clock." Their minister had said it. They must go to breakfast, notwithstanding this precious soul was not yet saved. They did so, all shaking hands with their minister as they passed, till no one was left with him but Tilda Stade, standing by Eirene. As Eirene rose from the foot of the tree where she had knelt, she seemed like one coming out of a dream. She opened her eyes, still glistening with tears, and drew a deep breath of relief. Tilda thought it the sigh of conviction-a hopeful sighand hastened to introduce Eirene to her minister. This good woman had not the acute perception which announces instantaneously to its possessor when he or she may not be wanted. As Eirene's special protector and spiritual guide, she waited to hear what the minister had to say to her. Great was her amazement when he said, "Sister Stade, will you be so kind as to allow me to say a few words to this young lady
alone?" What Brother Viner could
have to say to Eirene "alone," was more than she could divine; nevertheless, as it was her minister-not Paul Mallane-who made the request, she passed on. Then Brother Viner addressed Eirene for the first time, by asking her if she had been educated a Methodist. She told him no. "Then," he said, 66 our manner of worship may seem strange, even rude, to you. But do not let our ways disturb you, for they are only outward forms of expression. In every human heart, religion can be but one essence-that of love to Christ and love to one another. If you feel your soul pervaded with this love, you are a Christian. The personal manifestations of religious joy differ as much as our natures differ. No two persons give expression in precisely the same terms to any human experience; the law of temperament forbids it. Therefore do not be offended at the zeal which you see manifested here, even if it seems to you a little intemperate. And do not be discouraged if you yourself feel prompted to display none of this outward fervor. Without any reference to any other human being, receive the Spirit of God as it comes to you. Receive it as if you were alone with God in His universe. It can come to you only in accordance with your nature; you can respond to it only in the same way.
"Do you hear, in your inmost heart, the still small voice calling you to follow your Saviour?-to cast your burden on Him?-to love Him?-to be like Him ?”
"Oh, yes, sir; I have always heard
"Do you try to resist it, or do you seek to obey it?"
"I seek to obey it, and it is my dearest comfort. It cheers me when I am sad, and it strengthens me when I am weak."
"And you give your heart to God?" "Yes, sir. Every day I give myself anew to Him. Am I not safe in His love?"
"My sister, I feel that you are a Christian. What you need is encour
agement, not conviction or loud expression. I see how it is. You have a gentle nature; your religion is as gentle as your heart. Come into the eight-o'clock prayer-meeting, and I will see that you are not again disturbed. Now, shall I go with you to the breakfast-table?"
His voice was so kind and assuring, his words so helpful, that, when he had finished, Eirene felt like another creature. With the elasticity which belongs to the quickest sensibilities, her heart leaped to her eyes in a joyous smile, as she exclaimed, "Oh, I feel so much better !
As Brother Viner saw this inward illumination spread over every feature, he thought it not only the most innocent, but the brightest face that he had ever seen; but he only said, "Now we will find Sister Stade."
This young woman was standing devoutly before a bowl of blueberries and milk, as Brother Viner led Eirene up to her side. When she saw the serene light which covered both faces, she was forced to the conclusion that their conversation had been of a heavenly sort, although she had not been permitted to listen to it. She received her charge back with much demonstration, while Brother Viner returned to his seat in the tent, to meditate and prepare for the morning prayer-meeting. He did not find it as easy as usual to fix his mind on the chapter in the Bible and the hymn which he was selecting; involuntarily his eyes wandered back to the breakfast-table under the trees, and rested on the slight figure in the white frock standing by Tilda Stade. He had forgotten all about Sister Mallane's lamentations over this girl's wickedness, and thought only of her face, all radiant as it looked up to his last. "She has just the face that would please mother," he said to himself; "and, if I am not mistaken, she has just the nature that would please mother. What a companion she would make for her! for mother will come and live with me." Then, suddenly conscious that he had arrived at very rapid conclusions, considering his very slight knowledge of
this young lady, he turned his back and commenced searching for hymns with redoubled assiduity, selecting, at last, "Jesus, lover of my soul," "Rock of Ages, cleft for me," and others, whose sweetness, purity, and divine fervor lift them so far above the rampant rhymes sometimes called camp-meeting hymns. After breakfast, the brethren and sisters gathered in the tent, some sitting on benches, some in the clean straw which covered the ground, some on piles of bedding on which many had slept the night before. Brother Viner offered Tilda and Eirene a seat in a corner, where it was impossible that a crowd should gather around them, as they had done outside. He opened the meeting with the hymn which all young people love:
"Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to thy bosom fly."
His pure tenor-voice gave all its sweetness to the singing. Eirene did not listen; she worshipped. Every pulse in her heart sung with rapture the matchless lyric of the Methodist poet. Brother Viner followed with prayer, and, as he prayed, utter silence pervaded the tent, broken only by low-murmured "Amens." In the fervor of his youth, in the fulness of his faith, he prayed, as if he knelt face to face with his Lord. He said, "We rejoice to come to Thee with all the freedom of favored children—with all the sweet familiarity of love, openly and joyously." He prayed that to all might be granted a clearer vision to discern the exceeding loveliness of Christ—a deeper consciousness of their need of Him, who was at once their Friend and Saviour. He prayed for "sinners and seekers," and at last for one whose feet trembled in the narrow way, but whose heart yearned toward all pure and lovely things. He prayed that to the young heart might be granted strength to cast aside every weight, every besetting sin, every allurement of the world; that this young soul might run with patience and cheerful alacrity the whole Christian course, and receive the clear witness of its acceptance and fellowship with Christ. Ei
rene felt that this prayer was for her; it was the very prayer that she would have offered for herself, yet prayed with an unction and a fervor which she felt her own prayers had not. There was an earnestness, an assurance of faith in the tones which strengthened and helped her. As her heart ascended with it, a deep peace came down into her soul-a peace so pervading that none of the discord which came after had the slightest power to disturb it. Brother Viner, a true Methodist, believed that where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty. Thus, aside from the general supervision of the prayer-meeting, he did not attempt to control the boisterous element around him. Thus the meeting did not advance very far before men and women were praying, groaning, and singing together. Some were groaning for their sins, some praying for their companions, others singing and shouting because they themselves felt happy. Among the latter was Tilda Stade. She shouted "Hallelujah" till she had "the power," or, in more intelligible language, swooned from pure physical exhaustion; falling back, her head dropped into Eirene's lap. Eirene was less alarmed than she would have been if she had not already seen several others drop in the same way. She tried to lift her friend's head, and support it, when Tilda, opening her eyes, uttered the piercing cry of "Glory," falling again; whereupon Eirene let the head rest, where it fell, till the meeting closed. The brothers and sisters, who had formed themselves into the special Praying Band, seeing the peaceful expression of Eirene's countenance, concluded that she had received the blessing, and at last began to importune her to tell what the Lord had done for her soul. She was beginning to tremble with something of her first fear and excitement, when Brother Viner again came to her help. He told the Praying Band that he had conversed with this sister, and believed that she had received in her heart the witness of the Holy Spirit, but that they must remember that, while the fruits of the Spirit
were always the same, its personal manifestations were very different; that in some it bore witness by the very expression of the face, in perfect silence; that it was not this sister's duty to speak openly, unless she felt moved to do so from within. This form of conversion was by no means the most satisfactory to the Praying Band; but, as their minister sanctioned it, they felt bound to accept it. Those who knew her personally went forth from the prayer-meeting and announced to all the Busyville brethren outside that Eirene Vale had "experienced religion, and received the blessing; " but they thought it pretty queer that she wouldn't speak. With a feeling of inexpressible relief Eirene walked forth from the tent to attend the morning service in the grove. The mode of worship in the prayer-meeting had been sincere; she believed that, yet she could feel none the less that it was discordant with her feelings, and outraged many of her ideas of what was harmonious and fit in sacred worship. But the public service in the grove seemed a complete realization of all that such worship should be. Out from their tents came the great congregation, and took their seats in God's sanctuary. His own power had reared the columns of this mighty cathedral. Along its high leafwoven dome soft winds rippled. In its verdurous arches birds sang; from its mossy floors flowers sent up their praise in perpetual perfume. When the preacher stood up in the rude pulpit beneath two patriarchal elms, and invoked the blessing of God on the vast assembly; when more than a thousand human voices joined the winds, the birds, and the blossoms, singing,
"There seems a voice in every gale,
Eirene beheld, at last, in its perfect form, the wonderful charm and devotional significance of the Methodist camp-meeting.
In the afternoon Brother Viner preached an earnest, dramatic, magnetic ser
mon, whose fervor and power astonish- pervaded by them, it seemed to her
ed his own congregation, and electrified all. Brother Viner was a good man, besides being a young man of decided talents; and under any circumstance, with such a congregation before him, would have preached more than a common sermon. How much added inspiration and unction he received from the consciousness of a single presence, from the gleam of a white frock, and the glimpse of a golden-brown head, leaning against the rough bark of a treewith a sweet, serious face looking forth toward his, which seemed to him singled and separated from all that vast congregation-Brother Viner did not know, nor did any body else. Eirene, like all persons of very sensitive organization, took in joy as well as suffering through every nerve. Every leaf that rippled, every bird that sang, every flower distilling incense, every breeze, sailing by laden with the honey of the pines, added something to this large delight. So, too, did the anthem, the prayer, now the sermon. True, holy, helpful words were these of Brother Viner, full of the vitality of human life, piercing to the depth of human experience, and reaching upward to the height of all Christian aspiration; few could listen and not receive from them somewhat of the help that they needed. Eirene no longer wondered that Tildą found the camp-meeting such a sanctuary of joy -this portion of camp-meeting, certainly, was very delightful. Eirene no longer thought of the young evangelist, of the extempore prayer-meeting, or of any annoyance, any more than Brother Viner thought of his morning vexation amid the spiritual and oratorical exaltation in which he now stood, with which indigestible breakfasts intermeddled not.
The morning and afternoon service, even the evening prayer-meetings, were ended, and yet the congregation once more gathered beneath the trees to listen to a third sermon, before going to
that she could take in no more. Thus, when the brethren and sisters went out in a body to the evening service, she, with a few aged mothers in Israel, remained behind in sole possession of the tent. Placing a camp-stool just outside the curtain, she sat down to listen, where she was. The scene upon which she now looked forth was even more picturesque and impressive than that of the day. The many lamps, hung to the swaying boughs of the trees, threw long lines of flickering light and shadow upon the great congregation seated beneath. The wavering lights on the pulpit, the dipping branches of the elms above their heads, gave a weird look to the faces of the preachers, while the prayers that they uttered, and the hymns which they sung, softened by the slight distance, floated out through the evening air to the few listeners in the tent with a strange and sweet solemnity.
Perhaps it was a desire to hear more distinctly the words of the sermon, or perhaps it was the wonderful beauty of the night trembling down to her through the forest-trees, which after a time allured Eirene to leave the little camp-stool and step out into the air. She walked a few paces from the tent and leaned against the tree where, in the morning, she had been attacked and prayed for by the young evangelist. The words of the preacher came distinctly to her ear, and with them blended the scattered moans and amens of the congregation. She listened a few moments; then, looking back to the green inclosure beside the tent, she felt the old impulse to wander out, as she used to do in the woods at home. Since her coming this was the first moment that she had been alone with herself. True darling of nature, the old charm of freedom, the old spell of the woods, was on her. Still the preacher's voice, and the amens of the congregation, came to her ear, and yet she heard them not. The very leaves of the trees seemed to turn toward her, whispering to her to come, as she turned and walked