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Grace Aguilar
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about The Vale of Cedars.

It was with little hope that the father again sought Marie.  Bewitched he might be, but he was so impressed with the fervid earnestness of her gentle spirit; with the lofty enthusiasm that dictated her decision; so touched with the uncomplaining, but visible suffering, which it cost her to argue with, and reject the voice of kindness—­that it required a strong mental effort in the old man, to refrain from conjuring his Sovereign, to permit that misguided one to remain unmolested, and wait, till time, and prayer, from those so interested in her, should produce the desired effect.  But this feeling was so contrary to the spirit of the age, that it scarcely needed Torquemada’s representations to convince him, that he was experiencing the effect of the invisible sorcery with which the race of Israel always blinded the eyes of their opponents.  The kind old man was awed and silenced by his stern superior.  Liberty of conscience was then a thing unheard of; and therefore it was, that so much of the divine part of our mingled nature was so completely concealed, that it lost alike effect or influence.  It was not even the subjection of the weak to the strong; but the mere superiority of clerical rank.  The truest and the noblest, the most enlarged mind, the firmest spirit would bend unresistingly to the simple word of a priest; and the purest and kindest impulses of our holier nature be annihilated, before the dictates of those, who were supposed to hold so infallibly, in their sole keeping, the oracles of God.  The spiritual in man was kept in rigid bondage; the divinity worshipped by the Catholics of that age, represented to the mass like the Egyptian idol, with a key upon his lips—­his attributes, as his law, hid from them, or imparted by chosen priests, who explained them only as suited their individual purposes.  Is it marvel, then, that we should read of such awful acts committed in Religion’s name by man upon his brother? or that we should see the purest and loveliest characters led away by priestly influence to commit deeds, from which now, the whole mind so recoils, that we turn away disappointed and perplexed at the inconsistency, and refuse the meed of love and admiration to those other qualities, which would otherwise shine forth so unsullied?  The inconsistency, the seeming cruelty and intolerance, staining many a noble one in the middle ages, were the effects of the fearful spirit of the time; but their virtues were their own.  Truth if sought, must triumph over prejudice.  By inspection and earnest study of facts—­of causes, as well as of events, the mind disperses the mists of educational error, and enables us to do justice, even to the injurer; and enlarges and ennobles our feelings towards one another; till we can attain that perfection of true, spiritual charity, which would look on all men as children of one common parent.  Liable, indeed, to be led astray by evil inclination, and yet more by evil circumstances; but still our brethren, in the divine part of our nature; which, however crushed, hidden, lost to earth, is still existing—­still undying.  For such is the immortal likeness of our universal Father; in which He made man, and by which He marked mankind as brethren!

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