MR. WORLD AND MISS CHURCH-MEMBER A TWENTIETH CENTURY ALLEGORY
BY REV. W. S. HARRIS.
Edwin L. Bergstreser
WHOSE TESTED FRIENDSHIP I HAVE ENJOYED FOR NEARLY TEN YEARS AND WHOSE KINDLY INFLUENCE HELPED ME TO PERSEVERE IN WRITING THIS ALLEGORY THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.
After long and careful study we send forth this book to do its work. We offer no apology for adding one more volume to the endless library of modern times, constantly increasing at the rate of over one hundred volumes per week, the great bulk of which is consigned to the debris of the passing years. We pray that this book may find a field of usefulness rather than an early grave.
We need not tell of the pleasures and difficulties we experienced in preparing these twenty-five chapters for the press. Let it be known, however, that we were seconded and assisted by several able critics who, each one independently of the others, kindly reviewed the manuscript. At the suggestions of these critics minor changes were made in the several manuscript editions. These critics deserve much credit especially for the literary finish there may be to this book.
The illustrations were drawn by Paul J. Krafft, of New York. They evince patient study and careful work, and display a creative genius well suited to the field of allegory.
The leading moral truths are developed in the memorable journey of Miss Church-Member upon the Broad Highway in company with the polite and yet fiendish Mr. World. In this lifelike journey the two companions come in contact with many of Satan's up-to-date schemes, and witness his far-extended operations in many a wicked realm. In the descriptions of all these things we have endeavored to be suggestive rather than exhaustive, for we have withheld the almost infinite details and brought to light only a mere synopsis of the panorama as seen from the lofty summit.
Will not the reader, as he takes one step after another in the progress of the story, realize more keenly than ever the unspeakable deceptions of Satan, so bewitchingly robed in the garments of subtle treachery? The course of Miss Church-Member is a sad comment on the moving masses who are so thoroughly led captive by the Devil as to imagine that they are traveling on a more convenient way to Heaven while they are actually on the Broad Highway to destruction. The logical ending of such a life is pictured in the remorseful and tragical experiences of Mr. World and Miss Church-Member in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. It is our prayer that each reader may be saved from such a terminus of life by journeying on the King's Highway and taking Christ as his all in all. Then when he comes to the place made shadowy by the power of sin and death, he will be surrounded with a light from the sure city of God, and by a convoy of angels whose music will quell his rising fears and by whose power he will be transported to his never-ending home.
1. The Meeting of Mr. World and Miss Church-Member 2. The By-Path 3. The Devil's Optical College 4. Satan Interpreting Scripture 5. The Devil's Pawn Shop 6. Satan's Law Departments, (Underground) 7. The Hill of Remorse 8. The Valley of Temptation 9. The Tower of Temptation 10. Dark Schemes of Satan 11. Schools of Literature,—First and Second Divisions 12. The Theatre 13. Schools of Literature,—Third Division 14. The Devil's Temperance College 15. Infernal School System 16. Expert Inventors of the Broad Highway 17. The Wizard City 18. The Festival 19. The Missionary College 20. The Rival Churches 21. From the Valley of Conviction to the Devil's Auction 22. The Devil's Hospital 23. Satan's Secret Service 24. The Last Warning 25. The Valley of the Shadow of Death
List of Illustrations.
1. Looking through the open door of the Twentieth Century 2. Miss Church-Member hurries to the rescue of an unfortunate victim 3. "Let us follow this shining path," hopefully urged Miss Church-Member 4. Leaving the Optical College 5. A scene in the Devil's Pawn Shop 6. The Shorter and Broader Way to Heaven 7. The final triumph of right over the black hordes of civil iniquity 8. On the Hill of Remorse 9. The victory of Mrs. Discouraged on the Tower of Temptation 10. The Devil's substitute for the prayer-meeting 11. A scene in the Devil's Temperance College 12. The Wizard City 13. The Festival 14. Mr. World and Miss Church-Member entering the Valley of Conviction 15. The Devil's Auction 16. Miss Church-Member carried to the Devil's Hospital 17. Struggling with the real and imaginary imps near the Black River 18. The glorious end of the righteous
BY BISHOP RUDOLPH DUBS, D. D., LL. D.
In response to the earnest request of the author of this book I have written these introductory words, after a careful, deliberate reading of the allegory. What I have written expresses my own opinion of the book, uninfluenced by motives of friendship for the author or any other consideration.
The book is a powerful allegory, somewhat after the style of Pilgrim's Progress, but in no sense is it an imitation of any existing work of the kind. It is a masterful presentation, wrought out with excellent judgment and consummate skill.
The creatures of the author's vivid imagination are perfectly formed and fittingly clothed, living, moving, feeling, talking, in complete harmony as the development of the great drama goes on to its consummation. The author has evidently made a careful and profound study of the manifold dangers which beset the Christian church and threaten her spirituality, and consequently her influence and power in saving the lost and maintaining the gospel standard of life and godliness in the world.
The encroachments of worldings upon the church are truthfully and graphically set forth. The manifold forms of temptation and danger are clearly exposed, and faithful, tender, earnest warnings and admonitions are set over against them. In depicting the various efforts of Satan and his agents to lead Christians away from God and duty, the author shows an extensive knowledge of the devices of the evil one, as well as a clear insight into the drift and tendency of modern forms of wickedness.
The final results of compromise with the world are set forth in vivid, graphic pictures drawn on the dark shadows as with a pencil of fire. The downward course of the deluded soul is followed, step by step; the snares and delusions of sin are exposed; the mask of vice is relentlessly torn away, and church-members can here see what fellowship with the world really means and whither it leads.
The religious tone of the book throughout is excellent. The delusive character of sin is plainly pointed out. The devices of Satan are laid bare with unsparing hand. The abominations of vice are not concealed. All this is done in language well chosen and unexceptionable. The Christian life is pictured without cant or exaggeration. The beauty and blessedness of a devoted life are eloquently portrayed. True religion with its present comforts and its great rewards is presented in a most attractive form, and the contrast between the worlding and the faithful Christian, here and hereafter, is impressively set forth.
With this favorable opinion of the book, to whose edifying pages I introduce the reader, I deem it proper for me also to recommend it most heartily as a book worthy of a place on every family table and in every Sunday-school library. Let young and old read its fascinating and instructive pages. Let it be circulated by hundreds and thousands of copies. May the blessing of God attend the book in its mission and ministry wherever it is read.
Chicago, Ill., March, 1901.
THE MEETING OF MR. WORLD AND MISS CHURCH-MEMBER
1. The dying of a century compared to the waning of a day.
2. The allegory opens with a panoramic view of human life, as seen through the open door of the twentieth century, on the Broad Highway and King's Highway. Blackana is introduced.
3. Mr. World meets Miss Church-Member at a place called Fellowship. From here she journeys with him on the Broad Highway where she witnesses several sad endings of human life.
In the closing hours of a long day I climbed a rugged path to a high eminence whence I overlooked a beautiful valley and watched, with increasing delight, the changing hues of earth and sky.
As the shadows of twilight were deepening each moment grew more strange and mysterious until the waning day seemed to be transformed into the dying of the century. Then I saw, as "through a glass darkly," the whole panorama of human life, with its painful pictures of sadness and sin, and its blessed scenes of peace and righteousness. I also heard the unmistakable wails of a suffering humanity and the turmoils of myriad contentions, all strangely mingling with the songs of glory and the shouts of spiritual triumph.
In deep silence I continued looking upon these endless confusions of the church and the world as they still played their perplexing parts in the fitful drama before me. All of this so preyed upon my mind that I involuntarily cried out, in the anguish of my soul: "When will confusion come to an end, and sweet peace cover the earth as the waters cover the sea?"
"Will you wait for the winds to answer, or shall I?" replied a voice so passing strange that I was startled.
I turned to see in whose presence I was and, to my horror, I beheld a dark creature unlike any mortal being. He was without definite form and not cumbered with any garments. His indescribable face was set with two bright eyes, softened in expression until a slight halo revealed to me a countenance half beautiful and half terrible. "Who are you, and what is your mission?" I finally ventured to ask after speech had found my lips, for I was altogether ignorant of his nature or purpose.
"I am Blackana, from the lower world of spirits, and am commanded here to stay until released."
"Until released? What power binds you here, and how long will you abide?" I asked in dread suspense. "I must remain, as your companion and interpreter, until the vision is past."
I trembled under these announcements, but I was assured that underneath me were "the everlasting arms" and, moreover, I heard a still, small voice whispering within me: "Stand still, O mortal man! Neither Blackana nor any of his horde shall do thee harm. He hovers before thee at my bidding, and will leave thee only at my command. Ask him what thou wilt, and he must answer thee, even to the limit of his knowledge."
At this juncture, and without a moment's warning, my vision was enlarged and an unusual light flashed upon me. Quickly I cast my wondering eyes all about me and saw that I was standing at the very threshold of a great door. It was of such imposing dimensions and so magnificently constructed that only the architects of Heaven could have designed it.
Instinctively I turned to Blackana, whom I could now face without fear: "Where are we, and what is the meaning of this great door?" And as I spoke unseen hands swung it open upon its hinges.
"We are standing at the open door of the twentieth century. You may look out into the coming years as far as you wish," replied Blackana in a cold, indifferent manner.
Thrilled by such an unusual sight, and the thought which his interpretation and words suggested, I marveled at his sullenness, for Blackana did not so much as lift his head to see the spectacle.
"O, Blackana!" I cried, "why are you so dead to such surroundings?"
"These are mere playthings," was his gruff reply. "To me the doors of the centuries, which open and shut on the cycles of time, are as trifles, neither lessening my misery nor adding to my pleasure."
During a brief, thoughtful silence I continued looking at him, as a shudder swept my whole being. I then turned from this creature so shrouded in mystery and, stepping forward to look through the open door, I was suddenly overawed at the still greater scenes which spread in wondrous panorama before my entranced vision.
Under the new light I beheld a marvelous sight, for I could distinctly see the myriad millions of humanity moving on the paths of life toward a common goal.
In the bright halo of the scene I saw the beautiful King's Highway, on which were marching the hosts of the church militant, led triumphantly by the Spirit of God to the very gates of the Celestial City, which, though distant, I could yet see under the dazzling light radiating from the central throne of glory as from untold suns.
In the darker shadows of this same panorama I saw the Broad Highway with its thronging multitudes. Some, with deliberate step, scrutinizing the objects along the way; others, in mad haste, rushing on toward an awful destruction whose wreck and ruin loomed up dimly in the glare of an eternal burning.
Among the happy pilgrims of the King's Highway was one named Miss Church-Member, who had left the Broad Way of death, and entered, through Christ, into that marvelous light wherein she was now walking. Her tread was in sweet harmony with the footsteps of her Master, and her beautiful face was all aglow with the passion of pure love.
A pilgrim's robe added beauty to her form; a Bible, carried under her arm, gave some evidence of her spiritual character; and a religious emblem, worn over her heart, told that she was a member of some Christian organization.
Miss Church-Member, in traveling her chosen path, tarried at a place called Fellowship which occupied a pleasing site close by the King's Highway. Here one could readily speak and associate with the travelers who moved in gay companies along the Broad Highway.
At this visiting place she met a certain Mr. World—a good, jolly fellow, of corpulent build, who was attired in the fashion of the day, and bore himself with more than usual jauntiness in the presence of Miss Church-Member.
After a pleasing conversation, in which Mr. World plied his Satanic shrewdness and sophistry, he was emboldened to give this brief invitation: "Will you journey a short distance with me on this Broader Way that I may prepare myself, with more facility, to accompany you where you wish, even on a path as narrow as the one you seem to love?"
"Ah, Mr. World," she said, with a tolerant smile, "do you not know that you are walking on the way of danger and death? Why would you have me share your folly? It were a thousand times better for you to join me at once on a path that leads to everlasting happiness. Here you can drink the water of life in abundance, and feed upon angels' food. O, come, Mr. World," she added as she spoke more earnestly, "linger no longer, carry out the resolution which you have already broken repeatedly, and you will never regret so wise an action." Thus did Miss Church-Member urge upon him a course which, in her inimitable missionary spirit, she made really attractive to him. Although he appreciated her genuine earnestness, yet he could not be induced to heed her words.
"You have covered the whole field of my intention," he courteously replied. "I sincerely wish to mend my ways, but there are certain things I must first overcome. How much better I could do this if one like you, in whom I have supreme confidence, would but journey at my side. Will you not do the work of a good missionary and, like Christ, adapt yourself to my level, that I may, by your uplifting influence, be drawn into a nobler life, and even have your companionship as I go up to the Highway of your King?"
Miss Church-Member, being of a sympathetic nature and of strong missionary proclivities, refused to heed her many counselors who feared for her safety, and actually stepped still farther from her wonted path and journeyed at the side of Mr. World with the desire to compass his conversion. But her conscience, at first, troubled her and her feet moved with a suspicious tread.
In this nervous, half confiding and half shrinking mood, she leaned lightly upon his arm, ever turning a deaf ear to the entreaties of her well-meaning friends who still hoped to dissuade her from this ill-advised course.
Mr. World was keenly delighted at her concession and loyalty to him. He seemed to be willing to go to any sacrifice that might add to her comfort or increase her happiness. His many companions could readily see that Miss Church-Member felt "out of place." But she justified her own course by what she was aiming to do.
He saw that her dress of righteousness was in wide contrast with the filthy rags that covered his own soul, and so he preferred to look upon the garments that adorned his outer person, and the gaudy scenes on either side of the way.
I beheld this wide path along a great length, and I shuddered as I saw the masses thereon who were engaged in the frivolities of life as found in the swiftly passing pleasures of sense and sight. The thoughtless throngs were seemingly unconscious that underneath the whole length and breadth of the path there were strata of fire, and they were apparently blind to the sulphurous flames which, here and there, issued from openings into which many an unsuspecting traveler fell.
Sad to relate, of all the moving multitudes there were but few, indeed, who took warning and fled toward the King's Highway. Many, like Miss Church-Member, were walking on the forbidden path for no other reason than some weak apology.
"What mean these lurid openings?" nervously asked Miss Church-Member, for their flames excited her terror. Mr. World replied, with a look of surprise: "Have you never heard that these are to give light to pilgrims, such as we? Without them the way would prove very dark and dreary."
"What a contrast," she exclaimed, "between these lights and those that illumine the King's Highway! They shine from above, with increasing splendor, while these cast forth, from below, their uncertain lights. It seems to me that the farther we go the darker becomes the way, and its lights the more inconstant,—so fitful is their gruesome glare."
"Ah! I see what ails you," responded Mr. World. "Your eyes are at fault. We will presently meet the expert who will correct your vision ere your eyes are totally ruined."
The attention of Miss Church-Member was suddenly attracted by seeing a man who was just sinking out of sight into the fire of destruction. As soon as he disappeared the flames burst forth in fury through the newly-made opening. Instantly a servant of Satan covered the breach so that observers could no longer hear the wails of the poor man, nor smell the fumes from the burning strata.
Then did I look and, behold, I saw such places in countless variety, each attended by a servant of the Black Prince. Each opening made by an unfortunate victim was promptly sealed so that others, in passing along, would the more readily be ensnared in one of these fatal fissures.
Miss Church-Member was more than alarmed at these sad endings of human life which now came to her attention more vividly than when she traveled on the King's Highway.
She also saw, not far ahead of her, a woman sinking in utter despair, and ran to rescue her. But the unfortunate victim fell to her wretched ruin before the hands of Miss Church-Member could give assistance.
"Help! help! I sink I know not whither," was her wailing cry, as she was passing out of sight, her arms outstretched beseechingly toward her would-be rescuer who arrived in time to see the first greedy flames that issued from the fresh opening.
"Oh, horror!" shrieked Miss Church-Member as she turned toward Mr. World. "That ought to be enough to keep any one from such a snare of wickedness and vice."
Without a moment's delay a demon rushed to the fiery opening and covered it from sight, completing his work so quickly and with such skill that neither the opening nor the glare of the flames were any longer perceptible. But Miss Church-Member refused to leave the spot, and with tears she urged Mr. World to place there a sign of warning so that other short-sighted, mortals who came that way might read and heed.
"It would be only a waste of time and energy. I have seen hundreds of such places where travelers have gone down, even under the sign of the Cross."
"Indeed, Mr. World, I feel as though I should stand here continually and speak words of personal warning to any one who might seem determined to walk in such a terrible path as this." Her finger pointed to the spot where she had just seen the poor victim fall to rise no more.
"Look yonder," he hurriedly spoke, as he touched her arm. "Do you see that woman with her steps in the same direction? Now try your skill," he added with more sneer than sympathy in his voice.
She did not tarry to resent his attitude, but quickly went to the woman and asked her to pause a moment.
"Are you willing to be saved from destruction?" earnestly asked Miss Church-Member.
"I am safe enough," was the indifferent reply.
"You are now walking rapidly toward an awful death," were her further words of warning.
"What right have you to judge me," she curtly replied, "since you also are on this Broad Highway? Have I not heard already the words from those who also wear the pilgrim's robe, but who journey on the King's Highway? Their words brought conviction to my heart and tears to my eyes, but your words only stir up my indignation."
"Why speak so unkindly to a friend? My only intention is to do you good. I just saw one who came to a horrible end by continuing a little farther in the same course that you are now pursuing."
Then did the wicked woman fly into a rage. "You need no more concern yourself about me. I have two eyes—as many as you have. Look to your own future, not mine; at your own steps, and not at another's!"
"Come," impatiently spoke Mr. World, as he drew her by the arm, "it is just as I expected; let us get away from this sickly atmosphere." But Miss Church-Member lingered only to see the heedless woman step to the last extreme and sink hopelessly, while her piteous cries for help came too late for any to rescue her.
1. In their journey Mr. World and Miss Church-Member come to the By-Path leading to the King's Highway; on this Miss Church-Member urges Mr. World to travel. He defers so decisive a step and defends his attitude by the use of sophistry.
2. Miss Church-Member, still hoping to win Mr. World to a better path, forsakes the King's Highway and continues in his company.
3. A tilt with Blackana who defends Miss Church-Member for traveling on the Broad Highway.
The highway of the world was so broad that one could walk thereon as loosely as he wished without fear of stepping from it. Along the way there were so many things to attract the attention that the farther Miss Church-Member journeyed with Mr. World, the less frequently she looked toward the King's Highway. However, her face brightened and her hopes waxed strong as they suddenly came to a place where two ways met.
With quick insight Miss Church-Member saw that the By-Path was a blessed one and that it led directly to the King's Highway.
"Let us follow this shining path," she hopefully suggested. "I know it leads to the way of light and glory."
"Not such a path, my friend," hastily replied Mr. World. "Do you not see the terrible hill to which it leads, and those who are even now struggling to climb its arduous heights?"
"I clearly see it all," she calmly admitted, "but they who struggle most are endeavoring to carry many idols with them. If one will forsake his idols, he can, with ease and pleasure, mount to the shining summit which is but the edge of the King's glorious Highway. Come, Mr. World, hesitate no more. Let procrastination end, and go with me even to the hill, and I will help you to the summit—while Another will help you more."
"Very true, very true," he said, though somewhat irritated, "but we have not yet come to the place where I may wisely follow your advice. This path turning away to the right leads to a place that may seem bright from this point, but nevertheless I know it to be a narrow, rugged way, whereon a few of your friends are trudging, eking out a miserable existence. Urge me not to go thither. If you leave me, I can neither accompany you nor give you my assistance. Surely you have learned, ere this, that your needs are of such a nature that you must inevitably suffer embarrassment without my little help."
Miss Church-Member, with eyes but partly open to her own folly, was grievously perplexed and not a little disappointed. She fell on her knees and wept. Looking up pleadingly into his eyes, she faltered:
"Twice have I yielded to you since we entered into companionship. You well remember the solemn promise you made, but at each time you deferred its fulfillment, and now I must again hear your vain excuses. I have suffered much for your sake, and have now the enmity of many a former friend, and even my pilgrim robe is becoming stained with the filth of this way."
"Come, come, my friend, be a woman and not a sickly suppliant. The portion of the King's Highway which we would reach from this point is too rough for my feet to travel. We will shortly come to a more convenient place; then I can think more seriously of leaving this way."
"Ah!" sighed Miss Church-Member, "you say that in your folly. I can testify, from knowledge, that the way is most delightful and leads to mansions incorruptible in the Celestial City." "Let us cease debating," interrupted Mr. World, with ill-concealed impatience. "If you have sacrificed so much through my fellowship and imagine that you can find better company, you may leave, but you cannot expect me to accompany you on so thorny and rough a path as this which you have so foolishly proposed."
Strengthened by the remnants of Christian virtue yet within her, she sprang to her feet and was about to execute her noble purpose of leaving him. But a number of Mr. World's friends quickly rallied and complimented Miss Church-Member on the good she had already done. "Mr. World is a better man since he has known you," said one. "If you will continue walking with him on his own level, no one can estimate the amount of good you will yet do for him," hopefully spoke another.
These unexpected testimonies aroused anew her missionary spirit and changed her thoughts to these yielding sentences:
"No sacrifice is too great, if victory but comes at last. If there is hope that Mr. World will cease deceiving me and walk in the path of truth, I will consent to be his companion still a little farther."
"There is every hope of that," smilingly returned Mr. World as he suavely bowed to her and to the little group of companions who had given him such timely help.
As I saw Mr. World and Miss Church-Member moving on, in closer fellowship than ever, I waxed warm with indignation, and addressed Blackana who was still lying at my side as motionless as the strata of the rock-ribbed earth:
"Will you explain to me this folly of Miss Church-Member, who has not only disgraced her cause before the fiendish Mr. World, but who also continues with him in such unseemly intimacy?"
"Miss Church-Member is not walking in folly. She is engaged in a noble work, endeavoring to elevate Mr. World to a higher Christian life," was the answer from the lips of Blackana in a low, heavy voice.
"Ah," said I, with a feeling of suspicion, "she is shining from the wrong lighthouse. The rays of truth will never reach him as long as she is in that position.
"Perhaps they might in a miraculous way," suggested Blackana.
"No good miracle is ever done in the steps of the Devil or in his dominions," I answered with boldness.
Then did Blackana enlarge himself, and as he replied he looked down upon me significantly. "O puny mortal, instruct me not in the miracles of my master. More great things are done under the canopies of Hell than mortals ever know."
At first I was filled with alarm, but under the voice of One invisible I rose as with superhuman strength, and I looked at him unflinchingly. "O horrible creature! I fear you not in any of your passions. You would even destroy me if you could, but you are forever restrained by the Power that holds authority over all!"
There was a sudden rustling, unlike anything I had ever heard. The uncanny creature dashed toward me in his awful fury. But I moved not, neither was I touched. Then I stretched forth my hand and commanded him, in the name of One who is supreme, to cease his foolish ragings, else would he be instantly flung through the wastes of Hell.
Blackana, knowing his limit, as all foul fiends do, dared to venture no further in his rage, but calmed himself and, with unexpected civility, he addressed me. He told me, in close detail, how Mr. World, by his binding promises to his companion, had played the part of folly rather than Miss Church-Member who did nothing more than enter upon a more convenient and a Broader Way to heaven, and that, too, in good company.
"And what think you,—will Mr. World ever fulfill his binding promises?"
"Do not doubt it, sir. Mr. World is an honorable gentleman. His promises are always fulfilled.
"A lie! A lie! Can you not speak the truth?"
Again he was about to rise into terrible proportions when a great hand moved the door on its hinges. Blackana, interpreting that movement better than I, continued in dread restraint. I looked again upon the Broad Highway, and saw how Mr. World had so completely won the confidence of Miss Church-Member that she now frequently expressed her sense of obligation to him, and declared that he was not so mean a fellow as some alleged, and as she had been inclined to believe.
"Pray, tell me who seeks to injure my good reputation?" he courteously asked.
"It has long been current talk on the King's Highway that you are deceitful and treacherous, and that you aim to lead people to ruin. You well know that I hoped, by mutual association, to win you to a better path. I find, even after some painful errors on my part, that you are not so much in need of reformation as I imagined. You are a very considerate and clever fellow, doubtless under the sway of a moral evolution, and whether I stay with you, or you go with me, it is now, to my mind, quite evident that you will soon reach a perfect condition."
The wily Mr. World chuckled. "You are newly endowed with the gift of a wisdom whose inward glory has lent its brightness to your eye, and has given savor to your very words. If you continue in your present state of liberality and broad-mindedness, you will not only share all that I possess, but will wear a crown set with gems of truth."
THE DEVIL'S OPTICAL COLLEGE.
1. The college described.
2. Mr. World and Miss Church-Member have their eyes examined, and Miss Church-Member is supplied with lenses which warp her spiritual vision.
3. The allegory shows how Satan supplies every conceivable kind of lenses to suit the people of the world and the church.
4. Blackana, with deceptive words, attempts to defend Satan's course.
This institution of Satan has been in operation since the creation of man, having been remodeled as often as advancement in style or skill demanded.
Each one of the fourteen massive buildings was a gem of architectural beauty, and was devoted to a special line of study or practice. The entire group worked harmoniously toward the same end.
In the course of their journey Mr. World and Miss Church-Member drew nigh to this great college, but the shrewd and wicked Mr. World remained silent, waiting for the first words of his companion. Miss Church-Member, however, as she looked upon the stupendous edifices, was so filled with wonder and admiration at the long stretches of masonry, and the perfect symmetry of parts, that she offered no comment until they were quite near the first building.
"For what purpose is this group of great structures used?" were her words that broke the brief silence.
"All for the sake of the eyes," he carelessly answered, as he called her attention to the King's Highway and the throngs of people that were admiring and entering the college from those parts.
"It is indeed wonderful," she commented, "that so small a thing as the eye should demand the service of such great edifices."
"The buildings are not too large nor too well equipped. Your surprise would not be so great were you to witness the large number from the two great highways that come here daily for treatment. You can see them now moving by thousands to and from the buildings. It might be wise for us to enter for consultation. My eyes, at least, may need some expert attention."
She, being anxious to see the interior of at least one of the buildings, offered no objection to his shrewd suggestion.
The building was so easy of access that there was not one step to climb. An electric elevator served to carry them to the sixty-fourth floor which formed a part of the huge dome into which the upper portion of the great structure converged. This style of architecture not only added to the beauty of the appearance, but also proved to be perfectly adapted to the uses of the college.
The confidence of Miss Church-Member was fully won by the appearance of the interior and the courteous attention she received from the managers.
The consulting physician examined the eyes of Mr. World, then congratulated him upon the clear vision he enjoyed, and informed him that his eyes required no immediate treatment.
Turning to one side, Mr. World whispered to his companion: "While we are here you had better improve this opportunity and also get the benefit of an expert opinion."
"I have not come prepared financially," she blushingly and faintly replied. "I did not even dream of seeking the service of a specialist."
"That obstacle is easily overcome, for the examination is free, and if you should need further attention and would wish to receive it, I would deem it only a great pleasure to bear all the expenses."
After a brief, thoughtful silence she consented to the preliminary examination. "Will you examine the eyes of my friend?" requested Mr. World as he stepped toward the chief oculist.
The expert accordingly tested her sight. First he held up, at a distance, the "Delusion of the New Jerusalem," but she was totally blind to it. Then he submitted the "Deceptions of the Holy Bible" of which she could again see nothing.
"Look through these windows to the Broad Highway, far out into the distance over rolling stretches of country. Can you see the gates of Heaven, at the end of the way?"
Miss Church-Member looked carefully, but declared that she could not see anything that appeared like Heaven or the gates thereof.
"Can you see that place called 'Perfect Peace' along the Broad Highway," continued the oculist as he pointed to a far-off region.
"I can see nothing that looks like it," she honestly confessed, quite surprised to discover the existence of these apparent defects of her vision.
"A very sad and extreme case," murmured the examiner as he requested her to open her Bible.
"Can you see, in that book, that all people shall be saved, and none perish?"
"I am surely blind to that and always have been," she readily admitted with a little more boldness.
"Perhaps you can see the justice of God in punishing the sinner?" he continued with a touch of sarcasm in his voice.
"So I expected."
He then proceeded to a more minute examination, after which he wrote a brief diagnosis and commended her to a specialist in the next building.
She hesitated somewhat, but Mr. World, handing her, confidentially, a handsome sum of yellow coin from his bag of gold, brought words of deep thankfulness from her lips, and gave decision to her steps in the direction he desired.
From the great dome they were taken in a closed car over the high suspension bridge to the adjoining building which was of still greater magnitude.
The room into which they entered, at such a dizzy height, surpassed, in its unique arrangement, anything of the kind that they had thus far seen. In long and high glass cases lay all the modern appliances used by the most skillful hands. The furnishings blended harmoniously with the general environments. All this won the utter confidence of the new and unsuspecting visitor. "With pleasure," politely began Mr. World, "I present my friend, Miss Church-Member, who comes hither with defective eyes and a duly subscribed diagnosis from the chief of the oculists."
The specialist whom he thus addressed made an additional examination, plying his craft with all the ingenuity he had learned from his master. At the conclusion he delivered himself in this wise:
"I find, Miss Church-Member, that your eyes are very much out of order. A complex case, indeed. I have discovered ametropia in the particular form of irregular astigmatism. The pupil, covered by the unabsorbed remains of the pupillary membrane, is occluded by a deposition of inflammatory substance, occasioned by inflammation of the ciliary body.
"I have also noticed a severe type of hemianopsia, which, I presume, had its origin in congeniture. Minor defects are also apparent, but it is unnecessary for me to give further details,"
Miss Church-Member could not refrain from weeping bitterly at this sad announcement. "Is it possible to effect a cure?" she sobbed.
"Ah! you need not thus lament," said the specialist in a tone of sympathy. "Millions have been altogether cured whose eyes were more diseased than are yours. Forget your tears and be at perfect peace. Calmly confide in our skill."
She consented to their method, and was first subjected to a course of preliminary treatment. Many an hour she lay while her eyes were covered with cloths saturated with strange liquids. And when her eyes were uncovered she was compelled to sit in darkness, for the physician told her that her eyes had already suffered much on account of light. At times the pain was well nigh intolerable, but she endured it all heroically, hoping to gain thereby the boon of a complete cure.
After this preparatory work one who was skilled in the best methods of the age performed the operation, and Miss Church-Member was comforted by the assurance that her eyes would be fitted with special lenses, and soon she could again behold the natural light of day.
Mr. World was busily engaged during the treatment of Miss Church- Member, but he came repeatedly to her side and spoke words of cheer and urged her strict obedience to all directions.
Finally her new lenses were pub to service, and Mr. World proffered his compliments profusely until the first impulses of vanity moved within her. To be admired, on account of her appearance, seemed never so attractive as now!
What a new world opened to her view! She looked down upon the Broad Highway with a degree of pleasure hitherto unsuspected, and also upon the King's Highway, but only to see that the path was indeed a rough one and beset with trials and difficulties which, to her mind, now seemed unnecessary to a Christian life.
In the same manner I looked into all the apartments of each building, and was astonished at the presence of so large a number from the King's Highway, and a still greater throng from the way of the world.
"O Blackana!" I cried, "how long will this continue? Is there no end to deception? With such a changed view of things, how can Miss Church-Member crave for the King's Highway or urge Mr. World thither?"
"Miss Church-Member will be happier where she is," answered my uncanny companion as he grinned horribly. "By the aid of her glasses she can both see and enjoy the wonderful scenes along the way." I knew that Blackana was covering the truth, but hesitated to insinuate as much. "Can you explain," I questioned in a half hopeful mood, "how those specialists can do their deceptive work so brazenly? Poor Miss Church-Member, deluded and defrauded, now stumbles rapidly onward with the fiendish Mr. World. Tell me, O agent of the Devil, do those creatures find delight in such horrible deeds?"
"It is not a matter of pleasure or delight with them, but rather one of loyalty to their king, whom you call 'Devil.' To serve him poorly means a more bitter hell, but to serve him well brings honor from his hand."
"But such honor!" I exclaimed, and then said: "I observe that Miss Church-Member wears colored lenses—tell me the meaning of this; and you, Blackana, hereafter deal no more in falsehood with me!" I demanded.
Blackana shifted his position, and with marked reluctance proceeded to answer:
"The Devil, my master, uses in his work all imaginable kinds of glasses, invented in the Wizard City. Every conceivable shade of color is made, each for its particular use. Through his agents Satan selects the lens for the patient's eye, and if it is worn as selected and directed, he has won a decisive victory."
"Foul and fiendish plots of Hell," I involuntarily muttered; but Blackana listened in silence.
SATAN INTERPRETING SCRIPTURE.
1. Mr. World and Miss Church-Member now take an easier method of traveling, for they ride on a strange vehicle down the gravity road.
2. Miss Church-Member reads her Bible by the aid of her new glasses.
3. She is assisted in understanding it by a minion of Satan who comes robed as an angel of light.
4. Her glasses enable her to distinguish between the inspired and the uninspired parts of the Bible; for this ability she is highly complimented.
The Broad Highway, after leaving the Optical College, was especially hard to travel. Here Mr. World secured a fashionable vehicle propelled by some secret force. Into this carriage he assisted Miss Church-Member, and each was delighted with the smooth descent down the gravity road.
"This is delightful traveling," she said, as she reclined upon the luxurious cushions of the conveyance. Aided by her new glasses she enjoyed the scenery along the way more than ever. "I am glad you appreciate it," he smilingly returned. "According to my notion, riding is indeed preferable to walking. From these elevated carriages one can witness so much more of the world, and can also with more distinctness see the King's Highway with its trudging pilgrims seemingly unconscious of this better mode of travel."
Miss Church-Member took a mere casual glance at the Old Path and her former associates, and seemed to feel thankful that she had risen from bigotry to a more charitable view of things.
Her Bible, although closed altogether too long, had never been surrendered. But she had received strict orders not to read it until her eyes were fully adjusted to the new lenses.
Now, however, she opened it and was reading it under the new light, lifting her eyes at close intervals so as to miss nothing of beauty or interest along this way of the world.
Mr. World observed her careless manner,—how she turned from chapter to chapter in brief succession and fixed but little attention on any particular portion.
"I would urge you," he kindly advised, "that if you feel aught of headache or heartache, through excessive reading, to close the book at once."
She made no reply, but to his surprise was now deeply engaged in the perusal of the seventh chapter of Matthew.
"I have heard that some parts of that book are very interesting," he said in his good natured way. "Will you not read aloud to me?"
With a return of the old passion for his conversion she gladly complied and read the whole chapter while they continued gliding smoothly along.
An interesting discussion ensued, during the course of which there joined them one who was like unto an angel of light.
After hearing his smooth sentences of general Bible-knowledge, Miss Church-Member exclaimed: "Who art thou, and how didst thou gain so great a knowledge of this Book?"
"I am but a harmless creature of the air, going whither I will. I have studied that Book through all the changes of time and understand every part of it. I would, even now, make any sentence as clear as light to thee."
"And thinkest thou that this part is true?" hopefully asked Miss Church-Member as she raised the open Bible and pointed to the chapter she had just read.
"Every sentence is true, but in reading it there is grave danger of misapprehension. Didst thou have difficulty with any particular part of the chapter?"
"With verses thirteen and fourteen," she replied.
The angelic interpreter then read them in a fine resonant voice.
"'Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in hereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.'"
"If these words are really true," quickly commented Miss Church-Member, "we must be traveling in the wrong way. Does it not appear so?" she queried, as she looked with increasing interest at the angelic being.
"Naturally it does," he shrewdly answered, "especially if you look merely at the surface of the text; but the pearls of truth lie deeper."
"I well know that the King's Highway is called the 'Narrow Way' and this, whereon we journey, the 'Broad Way.' Surely this part of Scripture is against us," insisted Miss Church-Member, as her countenance grew more troubled.
"Thou needst not stumble at such easy Scripture; behold, the meaning is quite clear! They who travel on the so-called King's Highway are continually exaggerating the merits of the way, thereby making it appear greater and broader than it really is. They go so far as to claim that the way is broad enough to accommodate all the people of the world, were they minded to travel thereon. Therefore those who thus make the way broad by their own conceits will meet with destruction. This is the meaning of verse thirteen."
"It is certain, according to verse fourteen, that we have a strait gate, and none, on this road, imagine or claim that the way is broader than it is; so we are credited with having it called 'narrow,' for it is as narrow as we claim it to be."
"Notwithstanding your explanation and the relief these glasses have given me, my conscience is still troubled, and methinks I hear a voice from this Bible chiding me. This is the chief barrier to my real happiness," she boldly confessed.
"Thou shouldst not dwell in fear," spoke the shining adviser. "Do not allow the errors of any false teaching to mar the peace and happiness of this way. Bid farewell to all thy inward doubting, and taste the imperishable sweetness of the world, turning a deaf ear to the voice that chides thee unkindly."
"But the voice comes from my Bible," she tremblingly declared.
"Truly said, Miss Church-Member; it comes far enough from the Bible. Why not listen to the voice that is the Bible. Thou art in harmony with every part of Scripture. Let not false voices drive thee on to deeper grief."
She then looked at the shining form with more curiosity than ever before.
"Who can this be?" she asked Mr. World in a passing whisper. "You have seen how he urges me to perfect peace, and so unselfishly."
"'Tis but a happy friend that comes in the hour of need. Should we not give heed to his kindly voice? If the studying of that Bible gives you pain, adding to the weight that already wearies your heart, why not close the book and, continuing on this way of ease, look more carefully on outward things again?"
"Think you, Mr. World, that I would lay down my Bible? This is the book that mother loved. It has always been my Book of books. It contains the code of laws that controls the whole spiritual world, and it is the only lamp that leads to light and to the gates of Heaven. You need it as much as I. Why ask me to lay it down?"
"Nay, nay," spoke the angel of light, "urge her not to discard her Bible, but rather to get a true understanding of it. Perhaps," he continued, turning again to Miss Church-Member, "thou hast met with other mysterious verses in this chapter. If so, I will gladly serve thee, for I love to give light to an honest heart."
"I see nothing more now that gives me trouble. These glasses, which I got through the kindness of Mr. World, have helped me to understand your interpretation so that the rest of the chapter is quite clear to me."
"And how does the whole Bible appear since thy sight is so improved by those fortunate lenses?"
"It certainly appears vastly different," she confessed. "It is so much more liberal in its teachings than I ever before imagined."
"Hast thou become so far advanced that thou canst, with thy more comprehensive view, distinguish between the inspired and the uninspired parts?" asked the shining one with an air of dignity.
"Not clearly so, although I have recently doubted the genuineness of some parts which still hold their place in the book."
"Thou art coming to the true light," he flatteringly replied. "Blessed is the event that ever changed thine eyes to see so great a truth. Oh, that all the world might thus drink from the fountain of knowledge!"
"When will the time ever come that the Bible will be rid of its errors?" impatiently broke in Mr. World.
"In that happy day when the mists of superstition shall vanish before the true light of personal liberty and free thinking," came the answer from the bright-robed angel who was none else than a minion of the Devil in disguise.
"How could such a glorious work best be accomplished?" asked Mr. World whose interest now was more intensely aroused.
"Only by Christians who ought to appoint a committee from their own number,—persons like our friend Miss Church-Member. This committee could decide, by a majority vote, what parts of the Bible to expunge. Then the church and the world would have a Bible reasonably free from errors. Our present Bible has so many objectionable parts which, of course, could not have been inspired, and any person who has the courage to correct it will be doing the world an incalculable service."
"Amen and amen!" enthusiastically spoke Mr. World. "The Bible is certainly a great book, but it would be vastly improved if once rid of its interpolations and errors of translation. Any preacher who would use in his pulpit such an abridged Bible would have my profoundest respect, and I hereby pledge half my fortune to the first minister who will do himself the honor of taking such a step."
"That will have its desired effect," smilingly commented Miss Church-Member, "for there are some gentlemen of the cloth who would quickly sacrifice any conviction for such a sum of money."
"And here," added the angel of light, "I hold in my hand a crown of fame set with the gems of honor. I hereby engage to place a crown like this on the head of each minister who will, in preaching and teaching, abridge the Bible and ridicule its weaknesses. Of course he must not cast reflection upon the real Word of God. He must only denounce and destroy the errors that have crept into it."
With these words the bright messenger disappeared, and Miss Church-Member endeavored again to know more about his identity, but Mr. World did not altogether satisfy her curiosity.
Then, as they sped onward in their well-devised vehicle down the gravity road to Hell, Miss Church-Member continued reading her Bible quietly.
"How changed the teachings of this book appear," she soliloquized. "I can now see how foolish I once was in taking so narrow a view of its truths."
I took a passing glance at the King's Highway, and saw a virtuous and holy woman on her knees in prayer, with a Bible opened before her.
She read from the Book, doubting not its words, and was pleading earnestly with God for a better understanding of them, until flash after flash of heavenly light filled her soul, making her face shine with more than human glory.
To her the Devil, robed as an angel of light, made no appearance so long as I looked.
Then I asked Blackana, and he told me that Satan feared that which was sharper than a two-edged sword more than a large number of professing Christians not filled with the word of God.
"And what think you of Miss Church-Member?" I continued.
"She is a fine character," spoke Blackana as a hideous grin spread over his face.
Then I was moved with indignation, and I spoke with fire in my voice: "Give me no more deceptive words of Hell! Tell the naked truth. What is the estimate that Satan places on one who acts like Miss Church-Member?"
Blackana moved not a feature at my changed attitude, but spoke calmly within the bounds of truth: "Satan considers such a one as a valuable ally to his cause, for she is now working against Jesus Christ on her imaginary road to Heaven. Nothing is more helpful to Satan than when members of the church believe that parts of the Bible are untrue. It is indeed gratifying to us," continued Blackana with a fiendish smile, "to see the twentieth century of the so-called Christian era opening with the church wrangling over her Bible more desperately than ever, and some of the learned leaders, and those of lesser light, laying the lash on him who believes that the regularly revised version of Scripture is of sufficient authority and approved of God."
Thus Blackana, in dread reluctant tones, and with his tongue still unfriendly to Christ's cause, was continuing, when a voice from above gave this startling and silencing testimony.
"Such Scripture is an impregnable rock; and they, who by faith stand thereon, cannot be poisoned by the fiery darts which are hurled even by the latest invented guns from the Wizard City. All Hell secretly acknowledges the strength of this foundation, even though part of the church on earth refuses to do as much."
THE DEVIL'S PAWN SHOP.
1. Miss Church-Member with her new glasses looks upon her attire and, not being satisfied with her pilgrim's robe, exchanges it for up-to-date apparel.
2. The similar action of Mr. Deacon and Mr. Elder described.
Miss Church-Member, having closed her Bible, was engaged in a close scrutiny of her attire. By the aid of her glasses she realized very keenly that her garments were out of harmony with her environments.
"Will you answer a frank question?" she modestly asked Mr. World. "Do you think my pilgrim's robe becomes me as it should?"
"A very delicate question. I should never have ventured a criticism without your invitation to do so. Sincerely, your whole attire is somewhat antiquated. It is just as faulty as the Bible. So I would advise you to wear apparel more suited to your natural charms."
"But where can such be found?" she blushingly asked, offering no comment upon Mr. World's aspersion upon the Holy Scriptures.
"At numberless places along the way. In the distance I see an exchange store, duly authorized to do business along this Highway. If you so desire, we will proceed thither."
She assented gratefully, and soon the vehicle stopped. The two alighted and stepped into the place known along the King's Highway as the Devil's Pawn Shop.
This establishment was easily accessible from either Highway, and had been in operation for thousands of years, carrying on an extensive business.
In such a place our parents pawned a glorious inheritance for a taste of forbidden fruit, and Esau exchanged a legitimate birth-right for a mere mess of pottage.
In another similar place Judas sold his Lord and Master for thirty dirty pieces of silver; and Ananias and Sapphira pawned their natural and spiritual lives for a little worldly profit which was held but for a few hours, and that in guilt and pain.
Satan has a Pawn Shop, or an exchange store, for every phase of desire that can enter into an unsatisfied heart, or a soul unduly ambitious. This one, into which Mr. World escorted Miss Church-Member, is intended for those who become dissatisfied with the dress of righteousness, or for any who wish a change in any part of their apparel. It proved intensely interesting to Miss Church-Member, with her new-found ambitions, to walk through the aisles of this great department store, each department being used for a separate kind of apparel.
The entire Pawn Shop was full of old curiosities which had never been redeemed. These, and more recent specimens, told the story of many a faithless pilgrim. In the footwear department I saw many a "preparation of the gospel of peace" which had been pawned for shoes of worldliness, and elsewhere I saw the garments of truth which had been girt about the loins of the saints, but which had been exchanged for robes of vanity.
There were also many antiquated pilgrims' robes which had been given for more fashionable attire.
Miss Church-Member became more and more ashamed of her own robe as she saw how many already had effected the exchange which she was now contemplating.
One of the shrewd attendants, observing the impatience of Miss Church-Member and the significant look of Mr. World, approached her and offered to render such assistance as she might desire.
"I am feeling wretchedly out of place and out of style in my present condition. Can I not be dressed in a way more consistent with my station?"
"We can readily and easily supply all your fancies," answered the attendant with a graceful bow and a smile which gave re-assurance to Miss Church-Member.
The sad transformation was effected in a manner well pleasing to the Prince of Darkness. Her beautiful pilgrim's robe was drawn through the dust and relegated to the rear.
My own heart saddened as I beheld the changed appearance of Miss Church-Member, who had just taken one more step in her downward course, and who was still vainly imagining that she was on the road to Heaven.
I saw, with disgust, her fantastically feathered hat of conceit, her broad sleeves of self-righteousness, her ruby bracelets and necklace of vanity, her flowing garments of personal liberty, and her shoes of fashionable infidelity.
Then they made a strong effort to induce her to pawn her Bible, but to no purpose, for she had clung to it so long that it had become a precious souvenir with which she declared she would never part. Thus I saw how some worship the Bible who do not worship God.
Finally they emerged from the Pawn Shop, and glided along in their mysterious carriage more rapidly and smoothly than ever. The two happy companions, free from their former embarrassment, now enjoyed the scenes of life along the way with increasing pleasure. The moving masses, in their diversified employments, yielded constant entertainment.
Miss Church-Member was soon agreeably surprised to see Mr. Deacon and Mr. Elder, who served in the same church to which she belonged. The carriage overtook them in a rather isolated place and stopped at their side, in obedience to the will of Miss Church-Member.
"Can it possibly be that I meet two of my church officers at this unexpected time and place? How came it about that you also have chosen this 'Broader and Better Way' to Heaven?"
The two men were slightly abashed at first and stood speechless as if in doubt what to say, or as if they were unable to recognize her.
"Ho! ho!" cried Mr. Deacon, "here is Miss Church-Member who sits in one of our front pews."
"Her appearance is wonderfully improved however," added Mr. Elder in an undertone.
"How came you to adopt this dress and be in such close fellowship with Mr. World?" asked Mr. Deacon.
"I am now in the midst of my missionary work, endeavoring to lead Mr. World into church membership," were her glib words of explanation, though, somehow, they were unsatisfying to her ear; but she was rapidly learning to stifle such unpleasant qualms of conscience.
"She is doing a grand work," said Mr. Deacon to Mr. Elder with gestures of approbation.
"Are you any better than you were since such an elevating influence has been thrown about you?" asked Mr. Elder, as he turned to Mr. World.
"Happy for me that Miss Church-Member ever undertook my case, for I am now nearer joining the church than ever before."
The two church-officials offered their hands to Mr. World in warm congratulation, and then praised Miss Church-Member for her timely efforts which they felt sure would terminate in his conversion.
"What more is required of me in order that I may join your church?" inquired Mr. World in a voice of deepening earnestness.
"Nothing more than to express your willingness," responded the two. Your morality is beyond suspicion, and your fulfillment of the duties of citizenship has always been praiseworthy; therefore your religion is quite exemplary. It lacks but your admission into the church."
"I would have joined before now had it not been for a radical element potent in the councils of the church, and especially for the narrow views entertained by your minister. If you had another pastor, one of more liberal cast of mind, it would not only influence me to join, but many of my wealthy and honorable friends would do so as well."
"It certainly is a sad state of affairs," sighed Miss Church-Member. "We are losing heavily by reason of such narrowness. I thought differently at one time, but these glasses have given me a wider and clearer range of vision."
"Your words indicate a sound judgment," commented Mr. World, and the two church officials listened eagerly. "Why should the church compel a man to journey on a path so narrow that he can scarcely make any progress?"
"A sensible view of it," said Mr. Elder, "for I have learned by experience that it is impossible to travel far in the way you mention. I tried it until recently, when I gave it up in disgust. I patronized an old established exchange store, disposed of a part of my outfit, and got in exchange something up-to-date, as you see from my appearance. I then endeavored to walk on the old path, but soon came to an especially narrow place called Consecration. I could not squeeze through. I struggled hard and long until one came to me and said: 'Let go what thou hast under thine arms and belted to thine heart, and them shalt go through with ease and rejoicing.' That was asking too much of me, for I paid a high price for these things and was minded to hold to them at all cost. I then endeavored more earnestly to push ahead, but found that I could not. As I looked around me, in despair, I saw a path leading to the left, under a beautiful arch, whereon I read this inscription:
A SHORTER AND BROADER WAY TO HEAVEN.
"This path I took and have been traveling comfortably thereon, especially since I found this still Broader Way into which it led. If only all church-members would know the comforts and advantages of this way, they could no longer refuse to travel it."
"They are finding it out more and more every age," said Mr. World with a complacent smile. "The church and the world ought to be one and, according to the teaching of the Bible, how could this be better accomplished than by having the church come down to the level of the world, and from that point lift the world upward. That was Christ's method and example. The church of to-day should not wish to be greater than her Lord."
The two church-officials looked at each other in surprise. "Without doubt that is broad-minded theology," first spoke Mr. Deacon.
"It is indeed refreshing in contrast with what we must hear repeatedly from the troublesome element in the church," added the other.
"Will you not tell us how you also came to reach this favored place?" inquired Miss Church-Member, as she gave her attention momentarily to Mr. Deacon.
"It came about in a very odd manner. I had been wearing an old-style robe of righteousness, and gradually came to see that it was totally out of harmony with the higher thought of the age; so much so that I became odious to many liberal-minded people. A sharp struggle ensued between my conscience and my judgment. In the midst of this conflict I came to a place which offered to accept my old garments in exchange for seasonable attire. 'Anything for peace,' thought I; so I entered the establishment and selected this apparel, and these additional advantages. It cost me nothing but the mere willingness to exchange, and would I not have been foolish to refuse so much at so small a price?"
"Without a doubt," quickly answered Miss Church-Member. The others forcibly confirmed her answer.
"After I had completed my bargain I continued my diligence in the work of the church and in traveling on the good old Narrow Way. I came to a place called God Praise, and got through with little difficulty; but voices from unseen creatures spoke terror to my soul. In this unhappiness I trudged along until I came to a narrow pass known as Sacrifice. Through it I could not go. I struggled again and again. I also heard a voice saying unto me: 'If thou wilt wear the garments of salvation, and cast off these things of earth, then thou mayest pass through all thy sacrifice with ease and sweet delight.'
"The voice troubled me much, for I feared it spoke the truth. There did I spend a long season in mortal dread and doubt, and thought I would rather die than suffer thus. Suddenly, as if blind to it before, I saw a sign apparently moving in circles about me. It settled to my left and thus it read:
TO HEAVEN WITHOUT SACRIFICE.
"At once a smooth path opened to view, and I chided myself for having been blind to it so long. I entered upon it and hastily pursued my journey, and soon from thence passed upon this Broad Gauge Road. I traveled hereon for a long time when, to my delight, I came across Mr. Elder. I assure you we have had companionable seasons. We are on our road to Heaven and expect eventually to reach that place. Many persons of the Narrow Gauge Road have told us that we are wrong, deceived, and would be hopelessly lost if we do not change our course, but methinks that those people are disregarding the Bible where it saith, 'Judge not that ye be not judged'; and 'Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly.'"
"Ah! Mr. Deacon," quickly complimented Mr. World, "you must be a champion in the use of Bible truth. How can these bigots expect to stand when such Scripture condemns them? It will be a joyful time for all of us when these self-righteous critics shall have pulled the beams out of their eyes and be able to see us in our real innocence."
While Mr. World was speaking these words he assisted Miss Church- Member into their strange vehicle and, when his last sentence was ended, they bade a hearty farewell to the two acquaintances and smoothly glided on, not tarrying to hear the words of commendation which each church-official was speaking simultaneously.
SATAN'S LAW DEPARTMENTS
1. An allegorical representation of Satan's underhanded methods in law and politics. All seen during a thrilling journey with Blackana through this underground regions (level below level) where the laws of Hell are hatched.
2. A realistic climax,—ultimate triumph of right in the civil realm.
I now saw two mountains so high that their shadows perpetually darkened the Broad Highway which covered the wide valley between them.
In this Shadowy Vale many held permanent residence, until the whole region swarmed with teeming millions of every tongue and tribe on the face of the globe.
At the base of the mountains, on each side of the way, there were numerous large openings through which imps of darkness were constantly passing. Most of them were habited as angels of light.
"Tell me the mystery of those dismal openings," I asked as I turned to Blackana. "Words are inadequate to tell of the places to which they lead. To know aright one must see," he answered with marked indifference.
For a moment I silently looked upon Blackana whose evasive answer had so greatly aroused my curiosity.
"Beyond those ominous portals I can discern nothing," I murmured. "How can I be privileged to see what is there hidden?"
"Come with me," coldly invited Blackana, "I will guide you to the nethermost realms now unseen by you. This I do not willingly, but I am thus commanded."
Not wishing to receive my orders from the mouth of a demon, I talked to my better Friend who bade me go and be assured that a body-guard of ten thousand would ever be at my side, though I saw them not.
On wings, swifter than the wind, Blackana and I covered the intervening space. We stood in the dark valley at one of the openings, now appearing ten-fold larger than before, and the mountains reared their imposing crests as if to an endless height.
"Follow me," grimly spoke Blackana as he advanced through the monstrous arcade into the deepening darkness.
I remembered the ten thousand, and feared not as I followed. Downward and inward we went, with no light but a horrid glare casting its uncertain rays athwart our path.
"Is this the passage-way to Destruction?" I cried, as I saw how spectral all things were, for more than a thousand grimy faces had already added their fitful glances to the glimmering scene.
"The passage-way to Hell is not so smooth; we go to a better place," he answered, without so much as turning his head.
We finally stopped at a line of massive elevators, ever in busy motion, carrying the throngs upward or downward.
As we paused, Blackana regarded me silently. I was then able, for the first time, to see his face clearly. No light reveals the countenance of a demon so well as the light of his own region.
I stood as if paralyzed under his awful eyes. Oh! thought I, can two orbs picture such infinite depth of remorse; such absence of tenderness; such barrenness of sympathy, far beyond the most care-worn look of earth? Then, pervading all these lineaments of despair were the positive characteristics of his nature—malice, envy, and hatred. These lent their repulsive fires to his eye, already overcharged with insidious gleamings. I suddenly thought of my ten thousand, and my fears subsided.
"It were better for you to remain a stranger to the greater depth and go no farther," were the words that finally came from Blackana's scarcely moving lips.
"Fulfill your mission, Blackana! I fear not the deepest depth when I am thus equipped."
"Where is your sword and where is your armor?" he tauntingly asked.
"My steel is hid until I find a foe worthy of its mettle."
Blackana quivered and resumed his task. He told me that above us, deep in the bowels of these mountains, were the more refined legislative halls of Satan; while below us, at varying and terrible depths, lay scattered many a brooding station where the lowest laws of Hell are hatched.
"Let us go downward," I said, and scarcely had the words escaped my lips ere Blackana had ushered me into an elevator, holding me as we dropped down and down with increasing velocity, while a cold chill was freezing my heart, and my body playing the part of an aspen leaf.
Never before had I been touched by so dreadful a hand, but I thought again of the ten thousand, and that lent warmth to my heart and calmness to my nerves. "To what great depth are we falling?" I soon ventured to ask, as I perceived that we were dashing downward at terrific speed.
"We fall to no great depth; we go only a thousand furlongs to reach the first grand level, not stopping at these lesser places of which you get a glimpse in passing."
"A thousand furlongs," I repeated, "down into the earth! Who ever heard of such a descent before?" But I still thought of my ten thousand, even though I could not conceive how they could follow me in such places.
"At what rate do we now travel?" I nervously asked, for I felt the hand of Blackana still pressing me down lest the great elevator would fall faster than my body.
"According to earthly reckoning we are falling twenty furlongs a second and our speed is still increasing with the descent," was the startling answer.
I spoke no more, but found myself clutching the raised bars of the floor. I saw the glimmering light of many a region as we darted by at our lightning speed.
In an incredibly short time we reached the first grand level. Blackana led me forth from the elevator into an immense cavern whose dimensions were apparently as limitless as the space between the earth and sky. It was illuminated by infernal lights and all astir with moving thousands in fabled dress and shape.
Never before had I imagined or beheld such a scene. Pure gold was as plentiful as the water of the earth, and was abundantly used in the construction of vast halls whose overarching vaults were encrusted with priceless gems that dazzled like jets of crystallized light.
"What weird world is this?" I asked in an awed tone.
"This is one of my master's legislative centers, devoted to each separate government on earth. The many legislators of this whole region are ever busily engaged in determining upon their policy and methods of operation, and in endeavoring to influence the law-making body of each government to create and modify laws in harmony with the underground legislation here enacted."
"Ah!" said I, "but this place is far from the surface where man dwells. How can there be such close connection?"
Blackana smiled as he made a wonderful revelation to me. "This strange empire is in close touch with the whole human family, for there are thousands of wires leading from this dark realm to each government centre of earth. Satan thus communicates his wishes to each lawmaker, of every land, who will lend a listening ear to his schemes."
Blackana then conducted me to an immense building divided into many sections. "Here is the electric centre of this level," he said.
As I gazed I learned the secret of Satan's power in law. Thousands were here engaged in conversing with legislators on earth.
I could understand no word of all these communications, for the section where I stood was devoted to Asiatic countries and the islands of the Pacific Ocean.
"Take me, O Blackana, to the section connecting with the Western world that I may see the very wires that run to the United States of America."
I soon stood in the interior of another large building, and with great interest listened to the operators communicating with some who were in authority at Washington, and with persons elsewhere who were interested in the formulation of laws for the whole country.
"Does this never cease?" I questioned.
"It continues through the days and nights of earth forever," came the reply.
I was looking at the intricate system of wires and the stupendous proportions of the place, when suddenly I heard some one mention a name with which I was familiar. I was attracted close to the side of the operator that I might hear at least the one side of the conversation.
"That bill should never become a law," said the operator, but I could not hear the reply.
"Fight hard to defeat it. You will get heaps of gold if you succeed," were the next words I heard at the lower 'phone.
"Never mind them. I'll take care of that crowd. I will try once more to get their ear. I failed the last time, but I hope to succeed at my next endeavor." These words were spoken very plainly, but still I could hear no reply.
"Suppose the other element has chances to win. Get ready at once and meet the situation. Go and speak to the chairman of the committee and early influence his mind in our favor. Offer any bribe you wish, for we have unlimited resources at our command."
"If only I could hear the answer," thought I.
Then the operator listened a long time, and I almost envied his privilege, wishing that I might also hear the human voice from the earth's surface.
Blackana conducted me to other parts of the building, and I saw the fiendish program carried out at each point. Thousands of demons were in league with the law-makers of the world!
"Oh! that I could cut these wires and restrict Satan's laws to these underground dominions," I said with rising boldness,
"Silence, puny mortal! Know you not that others can hear you speak? Would you here be crushed to death so far from the light of day?"
Superhuman strength moved me to answer thus: "Though all these hosts should hear me, I fear nothing. I am invincible, and should you take me to the deepest depths, amidst foul crawling imps, not one can harm me. Neither can you, Blackana.
"Come on," he sneered, "cease your senseless sentences and follow me."
I saw that Blackana endeavored to conceal the counter-currents of his heart, but nevertheless his agitation did not escape my notice.
Back to the elevators we went, and with a throng of evil spirits we entered the central car and fell another thousand furlongs into the depth of the earth.
We stopped at the second grand level into which I was ushered. I looked out over what seemed to be a new world with more light and more animation than was manifest on the first level.
Boisterous demonstrations were heard on every hand, all made more hideous by the variety of evil spirits who added their din to the general bedlam. "What furious world is this?" I shouted.
"This is Satan's political headquarters, and the place where his state laws are made. We are here connected with every state or divisional government in the world, and with every political movement that can be influenced by these underground voices."
My indignation leaped over all bounds as the vileness of these iniquitous schemes pressed upon me. I heard the bands of music from those who had prostituted their talent to the second level.
Blackana pushed me on through all the demonstrations, and then led me into a great structure more secluded than the electrical stations. Here the state laws are hatched, but, thanks to a higher sanctum, not all the brood see daylight.
The plotters of Hell sat in this underground legislative centre, and I saw, to my horror, some state legislators occupying seats in this infamous quarter.
Then said I to Blackana: "It is no more a mystery to me how so much of Hell is incorporated into the laws of the states in the country where I hold residence, as well as in all other parts of the world. How long have these things been?"
"Since the beginning of law," was his indifferent reply.
"It will not be so forever," I prophesied under a sudden spell of inspiration. "The time must come when the power of this level will be blasted forever. The owner of the tree will burn the worms and their nests from every branch."
Then said Blackana tauntingly: "Neither flood, poison, fire, nor knife can ever destroy this section." Just as he spoke these words the whole edifice shook, and I heard a noise as if a shower of great stones had crashed into the roof and sides of the building. The legislators quaked with fear and all looked toward the ceiling. All of this instantly reminded me of the thousand lords who looked at the ominous handwriting on the wall at the feast of Belshazzar.
"Explain it to me," I asked as I looked wonderingly at Blackana.
"Urge it not, urge it not! Be content to dwell in ignorance!"
"I am here to learn, and I would know what force or power can so well-nigh destroy this wretched center. Tell me the truth. I demand it."
Then did Blackana move himself in his startling attitudes, as if loath to speak. He rolled his heavy eyes as his discordant voice yielded the unwilling explanation.
"These are the votes that just fell in favor of reform in a campaign on earth. Such votes, under the panoply of prayer, strike more terror to these kingdoms than all else combined, and the most disastrous feature is that they go bounding from the buildings of this level ever downward and work their ruin from kingdom to kingdom, until they have wrought their havoc even to the lowest level. If we only knew the way to break the power of these votes, our comrades would not then dwell in constant dread of what might happen."
"May you never learn that power, and may the votes of good citizenship ever increase in number until these legislative halls shall be broken to rise no more, and their inmates driven from their secret machinations to the abode prepared for the Devil and his angels."
Blackana sprang at me in great rage.
"Silence, you contemptible mortal! You have not such liberty of speech here! Why fling insults into the face of one more powerful than yourself?"
"Ho, ye ten thousand!" I shouted with all my power, and Blackana fell backward at my very words. Sullen, but cowed, he arose to his feet and took me to the elevators.
"Where next?" he gruffly asked.
"What is on the next level below?" I inquired.
"Greater proceedings than on this one. It is devoted to the government of counties, cities, boroughs, and villages, and their political work."
"Pass it by and take me to the lowest level."
"You do not know what you ask. The lowest level is very, very deep, and takes us where things have no weight. It is the lowest haunt outside of Hell, inhabited by the vilest imps. How can you live or move in such a realm?"
"Not by the futile force of human power, but by the strength of Him who bids me go. I fear not, O Blackana; conduct me thither."
What an awful experience followed! I was taken down at an amazing speed, held under the great hand of Blackana. We passed region after region of infernal lights, each one existing for the purpose of carrying out its part of Satan's fiendish plan.
At length we stopped in the red glare of an awful burning amidst a company of hobgoblins out of harmony with all human shape or symmetry.
"This must be the bed of Hell, indeed," I said, after I had conquered my rising fears. "Far from it, far from it!" answered Blackana. "We are now in the lowest legislative center where foul fiends invent the horrible laws of personal pollution in the mortal body, and political bribery in the civil body."
Blackana held me by the hand. I seemed not to walk but rather to move along without effort, seeing the pictures of lowest life and ill-shaped spirits, some of monster size.
Into an immense auditorium I was wafted, a building without foundations or floor. Here, amidst uncanny noises, hovered a vast throng of Satan's lowest legislators.
The dreadful suggestions here given, and the terrible debates that followed, beggar human description. From all parts of the great hall the busy wires were communicating with every section of the earth's surface.
Blackana, still holding me by the hand, spoke! thus in a derisive strain:
"O mortal, now comes my glorious revenge I have tasted your insults until their galling bitterness grinds me still. I have craved for this hour when I might leave you to the mercy of the lowest, and bring you under my feet for ever."
Then, turning to the chairman of the great assemblage, Blackana attracted his attention, and at once the attention of all the spectral monsters of the place.
"Here," commenced he, "is a piece of mortal flesh, fresh from the surface. I have been forced, by some strange power, to conduct this mortal man through these nether levels until he has seen the workings of our underground plans and schemes. He must never see the light of day, lest the world above may know the true inwardness and source of such laws as are called cursed, and rise in hosts against our surface operations."
At this Blackana thrust me forward, and I went straightway to the chairman who seized me by the back and held me aloft in his right hand, while a deafening roar of strident voices was measuring my doom.
"Ho, ye ten thousand!" I cried aloud, at which the horrid chairman fell backward, and I dropped unharmed to his own chair as the whole host were rushing at me en masse.
The chairman sprang to his feet and waved a wand. "Silence and order!" he commanded.
Thousands of brandishing weapons were brought to a stand, and quietness reigned in a moment.
"Why say you 'ten thousand'? What power lives in those words?" asked the chairman with a show of boldness, but in secret quaking. "Power unlimited, even over death, hell, and the grave. My flesh is not food for such as these."
"Who can you be to talk thus boldly to your superiors?"
"I am one who is sealed by the blood of Jesus, and have no superiors outside the gates of Heaven."
"Why came you here?" he impatiently and furiously demanded. "Tell me while yet you have opportunity to speak."
Then, fully confiding in my unseen Guard, I stood erect and said with boldness of speech: "I have come to learn the secrets of this underground legislation which is sending its blighting curse throughout the world. Having witnessed the wide extent of these secret operations, I will now return to the brotherhood of man and sound the alarm of a coming reformation. O, beware ye multitudes that now rise against me! I am not alone, nor forsaken. By faith I see armies of the living God. I declare, at this moment, that earth will not forever receive her laws from such a depth. The hour must come when these million wires will be broken beyond repair, and all you fiends go groveling under penal chains in darkness eternal."
No more could I speak, for the air was thickening all around me with a rush of wild demons whose threatening weapons thirsted for my blood.
I stood motionless, glorying in the power of the Unseen, for I saw, shining far above me, a beautiful star of hope with peace and purity in its rays.
In the same instant I again shouted, "Ho, ye ten thousand!" Oh, what a transformation took place! Regiment upon regiment of Heaven's military hosts, converging as from infinite depth of space, burst into sudden view, revealed by a dazzling light which filled the whole region arid dazed the infernal hosts as with blindness, while their weapons broke and fell beneath them in futile fragments.
THE HILL OF REMORSE.
1. While climbing a steep hill Miss Church-Member is touched by Remorse.
2. Satan's strategy in keeping her away from the Narrow Path.
3. All her trouble is lost in company with Mr. World on the Mountain Top of Apathy.
Returning to my former post of observation, and looking again through the open door, I beheld Mr. World and Miss Church-Member still riding on the gravity road. They were approaching the Shadowy Vale, and Mr. World was desirous that his friend should close her eyes until they had passed through the shadows.
She reclined her head, and soon was resting so comfortably that she fell fast asleep and opened not her eyes until they had passed beyond the darker scenes of the miserable valley.
Then did Mr. World engage her with artful and pleasant conversation, so that she might not fully observe the features that constantly make this part of the Broad Highway dark and dreary.
Satan, unseen, hovered around them during their conversation which was well pleasing to him. At length, in partial disguise, he made himself visible, much to the terror of Miss Church-Member.
"Fear not; no harm will befall you," said Mr. World re-assuringly as he laid his hand upon her shoulder.
Satan smiled complaisantly, and spoke in soft tones: "Tremble not at my presence. I have come only to render you such assistance as may be especially helpful to you in your journey, and to disabuse your mind of such false impressions as you have evidently entertained concerning my character."
So affable was his manner and so pleasing his address that, to her mind, he soon lost that shocking hideousness which characterized his first appearance, and evoked from Miss Church-Member this apology born of her guilty conscience: "You would not have seen me now on this path had Mr. World adhered strictly to his promises."
"Indeed, Miss Church-Member," replied Satan, "you need have no regret for being here. You are to be congratulated upon the good judgment which led you into fellowship with Mr. World. It is your happy fortune that he has succeeded in preventing you from leaving him. You are an exception to a host of cranks, who, without investigation, are prejudiced by what they hear. You are broad-minded, independent, and will be found wiser and happier than the army of fools you have left."
These words brought a mixture of pride and shame to her heart, and threw her mind into a state of great confusion.
But by this time they had come to a long and steep hill called Remorse up which all pilgrims walked. Mr. World assisted his companion in alighting, and promised to give her all possible help in her efforts to climb the hill.
Satan remained with them, and Miss Church-Member, under deepening remorse of conscience, loitered a few steps in the rear. Her bowed head indicated the warring of her thoughts. Then I saw that she cast a longing glance over the rough hills toward the King's Highway, and looked for some path by which she might go thither.
Her two wily companions endeavored to allay her fears by offering all manner of cajolements, none of which either diverted or quieted her mind.
"O ye friends of mine!" cried Miss Church-Member, "I can find rest only on yonder King's Highway. Can you show me the shortest path leading thereto? I cannot go to the summit of this hill."
"It so happens," pleasantly replied the Devil, "that there is no way of reaching the so-called King's Highway from this part of our route, but, if you will have patience, we will conduct you safely to a point a little farther on where you can conveniently leave this way with all honor to yourself. In the meantime we will give you all the assistance that you may need, and every convenience that science can afford."
Miss Church-Member wept tears of gratitude at this proffered kindness, and began to feel that this dark intruder was a friend with a rough exterior but a warm and congenial heart.
"It is quite evident that you have been grossly misrepresented to me," she faltered as her voice trembled with emotion. "I was told that you are the embodiment of envy, malice, and hatred, and vigorously opposed to everything religious."
Satan looked at her in well-counterfeited amazement. "How wrongly I am judged by my enemies! How can I be opposed to all religion when I attend church and prayer-meeting regularly, and sedulously listen to the sermons and prayers while many sleep who claim to be better than I? You will pardon me, Miss Church-Member," he continued, "but allow me to bear the light burden you are carrying under your arm, and let us hasten from this sickly atmosphere to the refreshing air beyond the summit of the hill."
"You are very kind, indeed," she said. "Please carry these books carefully, as I prize them very highly."
As they pushed their way up the hill, I looked at Blackana who, with his eyes fixed upon me, sat as cold and motionless as a statue.
"Tell me," I asked, "why Satan has falsified so greatly to Miss Church-Member."
Blackana, with a show of uneasiness, answered interrogatively: "Wherein has he falsified?"
"Did he not just inform Miss Church-Member that there is no way of reaching the King's Highway from the place where she had been standing? He well knew that there is a way opened by the Prince of the House of David. Why did he not tell her?"
Blackana again grinned horribly while my indignation waxed stronger. Then came his pertinent reply: "My master is about his own business; that is why he is so successful in his work. It is not his business to point people away from his kingdom; his delight is rather in leading them upon his own Highway."
"Oh! for the voice of a thousand trumpets, that I might reach the ear of Miss Church-Member, and break unto her the words of truth and life. See how she walks on between those two fiends, ever nearing an awful destruction, yet vainly imagining, through the deceitfulness of her advisers, that she is nearing the place where she can, with greater ease, leave her present course and join her comrades on the Shining Path. Oh, that I could send a messenger, good and swift, in her pursuit!"
"Rest in ease, anxious mortal; she will get all necessary advice from her two friends," replied Blackana with a sardonic grin.
I could no longer look into his face, for I was filled with contempt. I turned my eyes to see poor Miss Church-Member still struggling up the Hill of Remorse.
When the top was finally reached I heard Mr. World congratulating her: "Well done, noble woman! You have fought Remorse until you have mastered it. The pains and pangs incident to this climbing are over, and if you should come to another hill you will ascend it with more ease. Look about you at these cool mountain resorts called Apathy, and join me in a needed recreation as we mingle with the merry multitudes amongst these shady bowers."
She needed no second invitation, being glad to seek relief in forgetfulness of her guilt.
As they went to their pleasures, Satan vanished to give attention to others who were ascending the same Hill of Remorse, some in a sullen mood and some with wails of anguish on their lips.
The delightful resorts of Apathy were now quieting the mind of Miss Church-Member, for the attractions on the mountain top were so numerous and so ingeniously arranged that, as she gave full attention to them, she no longer suffered any pangs of remorse.
On this plateau, so full of charms for every sense, I saw bands of music; gardens of shady retreat where one might while away the weary hours in gentle dalliance; and cooling fountains throwing forth their busy sprays.
Artists were painting the scenes of worldly ease, and poets were writing sweet verses for the singers of the place.
Miss Church-Member, who was a lover of the fine arts, asked Mr. World to tarry in one of the gardens of the poets where they might hear the songs of the season just from the pens of their authors.
This was a novel privilege; so he readily consented and accompanied her into a garden near by. They were greeted by sounds of instrumental music and charming voices raised in song.
After these harmonies died away a soloist sang a hymn that had been composed that same day. Her voice rendered each word distinctly:
Remorse is but the foe of all, The rich and poor, the slave and free Unfriendly comes its bitter call— Perchance it comes this day to thee.
Then come, thou troubled seeking peace From this unkind, intruding foe; Let anxious cares no more increase; Go bury all thy pangs of woe.
Forget the things that wake thy mind To fleeting sorrows of the day; Oh! come and be forever blind To all except this Broader Way.
Then followed a fiendish woman, in guise of a light-crowned angel, who delivered an address entitled "The True Peace of the World." While the applause which followed her remarks was dying away, an authoritative old gentleman arose. After standing a moment in dignified silence, he continued to carry out the program of the Devil by speaking on "False Lights from the so-called 'King's Highway.'"
Next a quartette beautifully rendered a love song of the world; this also had been quite recently composed.
Sweet world, so bright and fair, We would thy pleasures share While days pass on. Thou art our truest friend, On thee our souls depend Till life is gone.
In life's perplexing days, Thou wilt, in every phase, Be ever near. While thy sweet, placid charms Dispel our dread alarms In times of fear.
Who else can give relief, When bowed in heavy grief? No one like thee. Thou sendest rays of light, Into our darkest night Till shadows flee.
The melody of this song and the sentiment of its words had a very decisive effect on Miss Church-Member. She looked into the eyes of Mr. World with more than poetry in her glance, for her heart was now thrilled with the first touches of true love for him.
THE VALLEY OF TEMPTATION.
1. In this valley the two great Highways run almost parallel.
2. The intervening ground is all alive with Satan's schemes to entice, entrap and discourage Christians.
3. The operation of Christian forces in this valley.
After leaving the Hill of Remorse and the pleasure grounds of Apathy, Mr. World and Miss Church-Member proceeded on the Broad Highway which now gradually sloped toward a deep valley.
"What is the name of the valley which we are now entering?" inquired Miss Church-Member.
"'Tis but the Valley of Temptation," he carelessly answered.
"Ah! I have heard of this valley," she replied. "Whenever I was tempted or tried on the King's Highway some one would caution: 'Be courageous, for you must go through the Valley of Temptation.' I am thankful, as I come to it, that I am on a Broader Way."
"Many call this valley 'Entanglement,'" further continued Mr. World, "because of the large numbers who are here caught by the devices all along the way." I saw the whole valley in one view. It was very wide and more than a thousand experiences long and, from one end to the other, there were constant scenes of activity. The King's Highway and the Broad Highway ran almost parallel throughout the whole length of the valley.
The entire space between the two paths was occupied by the agents of Satan, and by numerous rescue bands and missionary organizations of the King's Highway Church.