But years roll on and the young man is king, and his hands are stained with crime, and the old man’s predictions come true. God had given the aged saint a view of the boy’s breast, and he saw the embryonic seeds of sin which, if allowed to remain, would sprout and produce a fruitage of evil deeds.
The secret of the downfall of many a brilliant character is a bosom sinfulness little expected to be in existence. No man saw the black and ugly thing but it was there. A lady had a tall and graceful plant. The flowers were white and beautiful and all the town said, “What a fine flower!” One day a storm swept across the garden. One plant was injured; it was the one which people had admired and praised. Filled with grief, the lady stooped to examine the stem, and found that it had been pierced by a worm-hole. The insect had worked silently and secretly. No one saw him cutting into the heart of the tall and magnificent flower, but in a storm, under a test severe and protracted, the stem snapped and the choice beauty of the garden was a thing of the past.
The worm in the heart.
It is the worm in the heart with his relentless and resistless tooth, which weakens the character. Under severe and protracted temptation the will snaps and yields, and the beautiful life is a wreck and fit only for the dump of the Universe.
Stumps and roots.
There are many roots, hidden roots, which bury themselves deep in the soil of the heart. They extend far below clear cerebration, twisting and twining themselves in “the fringe of consciousness.” It takes the fire of the Holy Ghost to follow them deep into the ground and destroy them. It used to be a pastime of the boys in eastern Ohio to pile great heaps of brush upon huge stumps in newly-cleared land. All the long October day they would toil, raising a stack of dry limbs upon the stump which needed to be removed. In the evening when twilight came and the stars shone out, they would light the brush and watch the flames greedily devour the pile. In the morning when the lads returned to the scene of the fire, no sign of the stump was to be seen. Looking closely they saw great holes as large at the top of the ground as a man’s body, and tapering to a small point as they went deep into the earth. The fire had found the huge roots, and had tracked them into their retreats and consumed them.
Fire of Pentecost.
We pile the brush of time and talents and money and name and self upon the altar, and the fire of Pentecost, which God sends as He sent to Mount Carmel of old, will destroy not only the brush, but the roots of sin, one and all.