And as Ester rested for a moment in the arm-chair on the piazza, and watched her little brother and sister move briskly off, she hummed again those two lines that had been making unconscious music in her heart all day:
“Content to fill a little
If Thou be glorified.”
The large church was very full; there seemed not to be another space for a human being. People who were not much given to frequenting the house of God on a week-day evening, had certainly been drawn thither at this time. Sadie Ried sat beside Ester in their mother’s pew, and Harry Arnett, with a sober look on his boyish face, sat bolt upright in the end of the pew, while even Dr. Douglass leaned forward with graceful nonchalance from the seat behind them, and now and then addressed a word to Sadie.
These people had been listening to such a sermon as is very seldom heard—that blessed man of God whose name is dear to hundreds and thousands of people, whose hair is whitened with the frosts of many a year spent in the Master’s service, whose voice and brain and heart are yet strong, and powerful, and “mighty through God,” the Rev. Mr. Parker, had been speaking to them, and his theme had been the soul, and his text had been: “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
I hope I am writing for many who have had the honor of hearing that appeal fresh from the great brain and greater heart of Mr. Parker. Such will understand the spell under which his congregation sat even after the prayer and hymn had died into silence. Now the gray-haired veteran stood bending over the pulpit, waiting for the Christian witnesses to the truth of his solemn messages; and for that he seemed likely to wait. A few earnest men, veterans too in the cause, gave in their testimony—and then occurred one of those miserable, disheartening, disgraceful pauses which are met with nowhere on earth among a company of intelligent men and women, with liberty given them to talk, save in a prayer-meeting! Still silence, and still the aged servant stood with one arm resting on the Bible, and looked down almost beseechingly upon that crowd of dumb Christians.
“Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord,” he repeated, in earnest, pleading tones.
Miserable witnesses they! Was not the Lord ashamed of them all, I wonder? Something like this flitted through Ester’s brain as she looked around upon that faithless company, and noted here and there one who certainly ought to “take up his cross.” Then some slight idea of the folly of that expression struck her. What a fearful cross it was, to be sure! What a strange idea to use the same word in describing it that was used for that blood-stained, nail-pierced cross on Calvary. Then a thought, very startling in its significance, came to her. Was that cross borne only for men? were they the only