[Illustration: “Shall . . . Not . . . The . . . Judge . . . Of all the earth . . . Do . . . Right?”]
When Carmichael led the Rabbi into the manse he could feel the old man trembling from head to foot, and he would touch neither meat nor drink, nor would he speak for a space.
“Are you there, John?”—and he put out his hand to Carmichael, who had placed him in the big study chair, and was sitting beside him in silence.
“I dare not withdraw nor change any word that I spake in the name of the Lord this day, but . . . it is my infirmity . . . I wish I had never been born.”
“It was awful,” said Carmichael, and the Rabbi’s head again fell on his breast.
“John,”—and Saunderson looked up,—“I would give ten thousand worlds to stand in the shoes of that good man who conveyed me from Kilbogie yesterday, and with whom I had very pleasant fellowship concerning the patience of the saints.
“It becometh not any human being to judge his neighbour, but it seemed to me from many signs that he was within the election of God, and even as we spoke of Polycarp and the martyrs who have overcome by the blood of the Lamb, it came unto me with much power, ’Lo, here is one beside you whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and who shall enter through the gates into the city’; and grace was given me to rejoice in his joy, but I . . . “—and Carmichael could have wept for the despair in the Rabbi’s voice.
“Dear Rabbi!”—for once the confidence of youth was smitten at the sight of a spiritual conflict beyond its depth—“you are surely . . . depreciating yourself. . . . Burnbrae is a good man, but compared with you . . . is not this like to the depression of Elijah?” Carmichael knew, however, he was not fit for such work as the comforting of Rabbi Saunderson, and had better have held his peace.
“It may be that I understand the letter of Holy Scripture better than some of God’s children, although I be but a babe even in this poor knowledge, but such gifts are only as the small dust of the balance. He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy.
“John,” said the Rabbi suddenly, and with strong feeling, “was it your thought this night as I declared the sovereignty of God that I judged myself of the elect, and was speaking as one himself hidden for ever in the secret place of God?”
“I . . . did not know,” stammered Carmichael, whose utter horror at the unrelenting sermon had only been tempered by his love for the preacher.
“You did me wrong, John, for then had I not dared to speak at all after that fashion; it is not for a vessel of mercy filled unto overflowing with the love of God to exalt himself above the vessels . . . for whom there is no mercy. But he may plead with them who are in like case with himself to . . . acknowledge the Divine Justice.”