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my own mind with its gloomy hue. I was, therefore, relieved and gratified when I found that poor Luke's fearful anticipations were, like those of his departed sister, premature; for, by a merciful casualty, the citation to appear in the caverns of Death was given them simultaneously as well as suddenly.
Both were taken thither together, and methought I entered with them. On finding themselves inside, the darkness was so intense that they could not at all see each other. An icy chill struck to their very bones, and their teeth chattered audibly. They walked close together, linked by the arms, lest they should lose one another, for the damp slippery ground seemed to descend, and they feared to fall into some pit.
"And is this to be the termination of all our travels?" exclaimed Luke.
I thought his spirits were again sinking into despondency, but I was mistaken; he bore up against that feeling more bravely than when on the outside of the cavern. They were obliged to grope their way cautiously, unknowing whither they went, and fearing at every step to tread on some noisome reptile.
In answer to his companion's last remark, Paul desired him to look steadily forward; to which the
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other replied, "that when his eyes were wide open he could see no more than when they were shut."
"But try once more," reiterated Paul, " and look right a-head."
He did so, and presently could discern the glimmer of what appeared to be a far-distant star. Faint as was its light, this gave them some hope, and they kept it constantly in view, till by-and-by, as they advanced, it seemed to become larger and clearer. On proceeding further they also saw, a good way off on their left, a dull, flickering, lurid flame, apparently on the ground, and at the same time each thought he perceived a slight smell of sulphur. They fancied it like the mouth of a volcano; however, neither of them feeling any wish to examine it more particularly, they kept on their course, though, with rather a shuddering sensation, inclining to the right. And now the light in front of them so evidently increased that Paul judged it must be an opening from the vast cavern wherein they were imprisoned.
"Oh, that it may be so!" exclaimed Luke,
In a short time, as I saw in my dream, the doubt became a certainty. "You are right, indeed!" cried Luke, in the first tone of joy I heard him utter for a long time. And he was not disappointed, for at last I saw them arrive at the opening. But in what words can I describe their delight at the sudden change it presented to the sight! No wonder it had looked brilliant, even from the distance at which they had first beheld it, for on emerging from the dismal caves the glorious sunshine almost blinded their eyes. Just before them stood a magnificent golden gate, and along the top of it were wreaths, whose leaves and flowers were formed of emeralds, amethysts, opals, and sapphires, wrought by no mortal hand. Beyond this gate, which, being of an exquisitely transparent pattern, could easily be seen through, appeared the most beautiful trees and plants, unlike any they had ever hitherto seen, and emitting odours which far surpassed the fragrance of earth's rarest flowers and shrubs. The ear as well as the eye was also charmed by sounds of the most enchanting music.
"Surely this is the garden of Eden!" exclaimed Luke; "but its gates are shut!"
"They are the gates of Paradise," responded a voice, the sweetest they had ever heard, "and shall be opened to you, if you can shew your title to admittance."
They looked up, and an angel stood before them! In a tremor of joyful hope they produced the
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certificates given them by the Evangelist on arriving at the Wicket-gate at the head of the way; and now this Celestial one was opened to them, with a sound like the melodious ringing of distant bells.
They had scarcely passed through when they beheld with ecstacy, at a short distance, the loved companions they had lost on earth! Yes, there were Grace and Myra, Marcus and Phoebe, beautified in appearance beyond imagination, and in raiment like the plumage of the swan. The eyes of the newly arrived pilgrims were so rivetted on all they saw that only by chance did they cast them on each other, and then they found to their surprise that they themselves were also clad in robes of purest white. They concluded that their old garments must have been left in the caverns of Death, which from the darkness of the place they were unconscious of. It was true: the mortals had put on immortality.
Now as they were hastening forward to embrace the friends so happily restored to them, an appearance arrested their steps, and filled their souls with unutterable joy.
The holy Prince of that celestial region advanced to welcome them. In all his heavenly grace and glory did they see him. A radiant crown encircled that sacred head which, in the time of his humiliation, had been cruelly pierced by one of thorns; and in his hand he bore what resembled a brilliant rainbow, but in the form of a cross. Extending it towards them, with a smile of inconceivable benignity, he spake these words :—" Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world."
The tones and the words of that divine voice thrilled to my heart so powerfully that I awoke. My dream was ended; and I wished, with a sigh, that it had "known no ending."
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."—2 Cor. iv. 17.