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'Ask it then, my love!' he replied.
'A few days ago, a person entrusted some jewels to my custody; and now he demands them again, should I give them back again?'
‘This is a question,' said Rabbi Mier, 'which my wife should not have thought it necessary to ask. What! wouldst thou hesitate or be reluctant to restore to every person his own?'
'No,' she replied; 'but yet I thought it best not to restore them without acquainting thee therewith.'
She then led him to their chamber, and stepping to the bed, took the white covering from their bodies.
'Ah my sons! my sons!'-thus loudly lamented the father, my sons! the light of mine eyes, and the light of my understanding; I was your father, but ye were my teachers in the law.'
The mother turned away and wept bitterly. At length she took her husband by the hand, and said, 'Rabbi, didst thou not teach me that we must not be reluctant to restore that which was in our keeping? See, "the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; and blessed be the name of the Lord."
TO THE WILL OF PROVIDENCE.
IT was the complaint of Alphonsus, that God might have ordered many things better in the creation of the world than he has done; but the answer of St Augustin was as just as the censure was profane. If we complain of defect in the works of creation, it is because we do not understand them, in their proper spheres and uses. Though this complaint of the philosopher, and the answer of the divine, were concerning the system of the creation, yet there are too many persons, who, concerning the accidents of life, show the discontented temper of the first, and deserve the reproof of the latter. As nothing is more foolish, nothing can be more unjust, than the dissatisfaction which is shown at those distributions which Providence has made; for it is not in the power of human nature, to know what would prove really beneficial or detrimental; what would produce them a sincere joy, or plunge them into the deepest misery. There is an excellent reflection, which an ancient philosopher has made on this subject. If all the misfortunes of all the men in the world were crowded together in one heap, and then every man out of this heap were to take but an equal share,
he believed that every man would rather resume his own, than, after a proportionable rate, take what should then fall to him.
Argument and examples on this subject are almost infinite. I shall therefore make use of a parable which Dr H. More has told in his Divine Dialogue. It makes a deeper impression than the closest reasoning, and, while it strikes the fancy, convinces the judgment.
The story runs thus :-A certain hermit, not well satisfied with the administration of this world and its affairs, and the divers occurrences of Divine Providence in relation to it, resolved to quit his cell and travel abroad, to view the course of things, and make what observations he could, whereby to form a judgment of what disturbed him. He had not gone above half a day's journey, before he was overtaken by a young stranger, who came up to him and joined company with him, who so insinuated himself into the hermit's affections, that he thought himself happy in having so soon met with so agreeable a companion. As their journey lay the same way, they agreed to eat and lodge always at one house, wheresoever they came. They travelled some few days before the hermit took notice of any thing that occurred worthy his observation; but at length he could not but be concerned to see, that at a house where they were very kindly and generously entertained, his fellow
traveller, with whom by this time he had contracted an endearing friendship, at his departure stole a gold cup, and took it away with him. The hermit was astonished that his friend, whom he thought a devout Christian, should be guilty of theft and ingratitude, where he had received such particular obligations. He was, however, resolved to see what his behaviour would be at other places, before he inquired into it. At night they came to a house of as ill accommodations as the other was good, and where the owner was a man of so morose and inhospitable a temper, that they were a long time denied admittance, and when received, were treated with the utmost surliness and brutality; yet such was the different carriage of the young traveller to the morose host, that in the morning he rewarded his inhumanity with his gold cup, which he left behind him in one of the windows. The hermit was not less surprised at this sight than the former, and could not fathom the mystery of so unequal a procedure; yet he still took no notice either of one action or the other. The next night they by agreement returned to the house from whence the cup was taken. They were treated as courteously as before, but the return for it was more shocking and astonishing; for, at their leaving the place, the hermit saw his companion privately strangle a little child as it lay in the cradle, the only child of the family, and in whom
all the temporal happiness of both father and mother were centred. Notwithstanding this last action, he prevailed with himself to contain himself another day; and at night they came to a house of the best entertainment they had met with yet, the master of it doing every thing, not only to accommodate them, but to divert them, and make their stay pleasant. In the morning, as the way they were to go was intricate, he sent a faithful servant, in whose fidelity he had the greatest confidence, to conduct them. Thus they travelled for a while, till, coming to a bridge, which crossed a deep and rapid stream, the young traveller, on a sudden, laid violent hands on the servant, and threw him into the water and drowned him. Upon this the hermit could contain no longer, but charged his companion with ingratitude, theft, and murder. He enlarged on the heinousness of his crimes in the barbarous requitals he had made his benefactors, and concluded by telling him he was resolved to leave so vile and wicked a companion, return to his cell, and confine himself there for ever, rather than converse with mankind, who committed such crimes without remorse of conscience.
But now behold as strange a sight of another kind. The young man, smiling at the honest zeal of the hermit, putting off his mortal disguise, appeared to him in the form and lustre of an angel of God, telling him he was sent to ease his mind of the