From the German, by Elizabeth Marie Lloyd*
Weeping may endure for a night
Towards the conclusion of Divine service, one Sunday, a stranger entered a secluded church in one of the suburbs of a wealthy commercial city. She was closely veiled. With a noiseless and timid step she passed along, and took the first vacant seat behind a pillar near the door, evidently wishing to be unnoticed. The looks of the congregation were simultaneously directed towards her; for this was not her first appearance among them. Some weeks previously she had entered the church in the same manner, and had since attended on each returning Sabbath. She always came about the commencement of the sermon; and while the last hymn was being sung, she retired quietly and unobtrusively.
It was obvious that while she studiously sought to remain unknown, she listened to the preacher with the most intense interest and deep emotion, often giving vent to her feelings in audible sobs. Hence she had become an object of curiosity to some, and of special interest and prayer to the worthy clergyman and many believers among his flock. Her dress and manners were those of a woman of rank; but her name and her history were alike unknown.
On the morning alluded to, she again occupied her usual seat near the door. The hymn of thanksgiving for the Lamb slain for the sins of the world had been sung; and the clergyman, a bold and faithful preacher of the Cross, was at the point of commencing his discourse. He began by declaring the power and efficacy of the blood of Christ: and pointed to the type of the Paschal Lamb, whose blood the children of Israel were to sprinkle on their doorposts, as a token for the destroying angel to pass over their dwellings. The portion of Scripture under consideration was the imprecation of the Jews: “His blood be on us and on our children.” (Matt. 27, 25.) These words the preacher set before his congregation, in the two-fold view of a curse and a blessing.
He next spoke of the fearful crime of Israel, in rejecting their King; and contrasted their ingratitude with the love and sympathy of the Saviour. He then led them to the contemplation of the high and unspeakable privileges which the God of Israel had given to His chosen people; and pointed to the Lord Jesus, on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, beholding the city from the Mount of Olives, weeping over it, and saying, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.”
Every word seemed to pierce the heart of the stranger; her agitation became more visible, and her sobs louder. With awful solemnity, the preacher reiterated the fearful imprecation, “His blood be on us and on our children.” He showed how this curse.
which they had so madly invoked, had fallen upon them: how the Roman army, the swift messengers of Almighty vengeance, had suddenly overwhelmed them, and, after a siege of unparalleled horrors, rased Jersualem to the ground. He followed them as wanderers and outcasts over the face of the earth, a reproach and a proverb among the Gentiles. He dwelt upon their abject state, their national and spiritual alienation from God, and then held up the dark and melancholy picture as a warning to the Christian world.
The congregation listened with the closest attention, and were deeply affected by his powerful words. The greatest silence prevailed throughout the church. The stranger in vain strove to suppress her overwhelming emotion; and as the preacher continued to portray the fallen state of the children of Israel, scattered among the nations, a piercing shriek broke the solemn stillness. The stranger had fallen senseless to the ground. Several persons hastened to her assistance, and carried her out of the church. The wife of the clergyman hurried after them, and had her conveyed to the Manse.
Since her first appearance at church, this lady had felt great interest in the young stranger; she had commended her to the Lord, and this morning especially had thought much about her. With kind consideration for her feelings she asked the bystanders to leave the young lady under her care.
She then removed her bonnet and veil and was struck by the singular beauty of the young woman, who lay unconscious on the couch. She did not recognise her features, but was convinced, from her whole appearance, that she was a person of distinction.
Maria (this was the name of the clergyman’s wife) felt that she stood before one who was an instance of the mysterious dealings of God with the children of men, and rejoiced in the hope that this singular occurence might perhaps lead to a revelation of His purpose concerning her. In silent prayer she applied the needful remedies, but it was long before she perceived any indications of returning consciousness. The internal struggle had been great, but at last she languidly opened her eyes. Maria, fearful lest the sudden sight of a stranger might startle her, stepped aside, but continued to watch her with tender anxiety. She muttered a few words in a low voice. Maria approached, and gently bending over her, heard her repeat in broken accents the words of the awful imprecation, “His blood be upon usÂ—Oh God!Â—and upon the children alsoÂ—O Thou Holy God!Â—woeÂ—woe is meÂ—unhappy child of Israel that I amÂ—oh! His blood upon me!”
The anguish of her heart again overpowered the faint symptoms of returning life, and she sank back unconscious again. The few words which she had uttered went to the heart of Maria, who could not restrain her tears. One glance into the mystery was already given to her. The unknownÂ—for she was no longer a stranger to Maria’s loveÂ—was a daughter of IsraelÂ—a Jewess! A closer inspection of her features confirmed this; but all was not yet unravelled. That a young Jewess of rank should have entered a
Christian church, have been so moved by the preaching of the Cross, and manifested so unquestionable a proof of the work of grace in the deep anguish of her heart, led Maria to anticipate a yet further evidence of the faithfulness and love of the Saviour of sinners. With redoubled affection she applied every means to restore the young Jewess, who did not again open her eyes for a considerable time. Maria, bending over her, was giving vent to her emotion in silent tears. The stranger’s first look fell on Maria. “Where am I?” she asked confusedly, “Who is that? Is it an angel? But angels never weepÂ—yetÂ—perhaps angels do weep for poor Israel. Alas! alas! we children of the curse!” She wrung her hands in agony, while she thus poured forth the bitterness of her anguish. Maria took her hand, and pressing it gently, said, “Compose yourself, my love. You are with a friend; for though you are unknown to me, yet my heart is drawn to you.
These kind assurances soon relieved her, but she was greatly embarrassed to find herself in an unknown house, and with a stranger. Maria, suspecting the cause of her uneasiness, tried to calm her; and after asking her to have a drink, informed her where she was, and what had taken place in the church. “Ah! yes! I recollect it all now! O! those fearful words: “His blood be on us, and on our children.” Oh, they pierced my heart like an arrow!”
“My dear friend,” said Maria, “collect yourself. I confidently believe that for you the curse has been converted into a blessing. To your soul the blood of the Lamb proclaims mercy and peace.”
“Ah! you do not know what you are saying. You do not know who I am.”
“Nor do I ask to know,” replied Maria; “but this one thing I do know, that whoever you may be, there is mercy for you, and for every sinner who feels the weight of his sins, and flees for pardon to the Saviour of sinners.” While she spoke, Maria again took her hand and looked at her with affection. The young Jewess was deeply moved, and struggled to overcome her feelings. She tried to turn away, but could not; at last she said, “You are so full of love to a total stranger: your kindness is a comfort to me, and gladly would I open my heart to you, but I fear that you then would forsake me.” Maria smiled and shook her head. She continued, “What! will you not look upon me with hatredÂ—with abhorrenceÂ—when I tell you to what people I belong? Can you love a poor child of the curseÂ—a daughter of IsraelÂ—a Jewess?”
“That you are a daughter of Abraham was revealed to me by your cry when you revived; and I have a good hope that you will walk in the steps of the faith of Abraham, the father of the faithful. Am I not right? You seek Jesus who was crucified; and, believe me, I therefore regard you not as a stranger, but as beloved sister.”
The young Jewess was silent, but her looks expressed her gratitude. At length she exclaimed, “Yes, I must open my heart to youÂ—I must tell you my history. Perhaps it may bring peace to my wounded spirit.”
Maria endeavoured to check her, being apprehensive lest, in the
agitation of the moment, she might say something of which she would afterwards repent. On her repeated assurance, however, that she longed to unbosom her grief, Maria gladly agreed.
“My name,” began the young stranger, “is Thirza SÂ—:” and Maria manifested surprise on hearing the name of the chief Jewish banker in the city, who was known to possess a princely fortune. “You marvel, dear madam, and indeed I am myself astonished when I reflect on what has taken place within the last few months. For I must tell you freely, that I believe with all my heart, that the Jesus whom you worship is the promised Messiah, the King of Israel. Ah! how gladly would I share in His mercy. It is now the chief desire of my heart, that He might be my Saviour also. Oh! that I had been born a Christian; but now, alas!”Â—Â—
Maria interupted her with the words of the Lord Jesus: “He, that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out:” “wherefore,” she continued, “be of good comfort, for He that has begun a good work in you, will also perform it.” But say, how did the Lord bring you to the knowledge of this truth? It is quite a mystery to me.”
“And no less so to me,” replied Thirza. I believe I received my first serious impression while quite a child at a Christian school. My father, who is a very strict Israelite, and, alas! bears the most bitter enmity to Jesus and to the Christian faith, probably did not conceive it possible that at that tender age I could receive impressions of such a nature, or he would certainly not have sent me there. I read the New Testament with the other children, and learnt many texts and passages of Scripture; even now I have the clearest memory of the great interest which I felt in the history of Jesus, especially of His sufferings and death. When I was older I was moved to a Jewish school, and the early impressions of my childhood were soon forgotten.
“My father, who rigidly observed all the Jewish rites and customs, carefully instructed me in them. and earnestly urged upon me the necessity of a strict adherence to the law of Moses, and the traditions of the Talmud. I complied outwardly, but my heart remained untouched. I was the only child, and you may readily imagine that, in my father’s affluent circumstances, I had every thing at my command which could excite the vanity of a young woman, or satisfy her thirst for worldly pleasures. Ah! with what shame and sorrow do I now look back upon those years; and yet I was then so full of joy and satisfaction, that no care, no serious thought ever disturbed my mind. On a sudden our house was plunged into the deepest trouble. My mother, whom I deeply loved, died after a short illness. Nearly five months have passed since then. Oh! the bitter pang of that bereavement! The joy of my life was gone!”
“Yet the Lord hath done all things well,” said Maria: “He took away your earthly happiness, to lead you to the true joys both of time and eternity. Do you not feel, dear Thirza, that He is leading you?”
“Ah! if that was His purpose, than I would be consoled for the loss of my mother. And indeed you are so far right. The death of
my mother made a blank in our house, which had hitherto been the scene of uninterrupted happiness. My father was bowed down under the loss of a wife whom he loved with singular devotedness. To me, in whom all his affection was centred, he now came for consolation, but I could give him none. Never before had I seen my father, whose manner was cold and reserved, so gentle, so tender, so full of love; and my heart clung to him with all its strength. My dear father’s grief was, however, often diverted by business, while I remained in my own room, left to myself and my melancholy thoughts.
“One afternoon, while we were speaking of our loss, my father was called away. I was left aloneÂ—my tears flowed fastÂ—I felt so lonely, so forsaken in the world. My heart was ready to burst under the weight of grief. I longed for something to soothe my anguish. All at once, I know not how, these words came vividly to my mind: “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,.’ ” (Matt. 28).
“Ah! how tender, how compassionate, is our Lord,” exclaimed Maria, “thus to draw you to Himself from the very first with words so full of grace and love.”
“Yes, I firmly believe that the Spirit of God brought them to my remembrance. I started at the words and tried in vain to recollect where I might have heard or read them. At length it struck me that I had learnt them at my first school, from the book which the Christians use, and that it was Jesus who had spoken them. This was so exceedingly painful that I was greatly distressed, for the words had already become precious to me. I thought that here alone was offered to me the very consolation which I needed. But alas! dear friend, you know the blindness of my people, and how great a hatred and aversion to Jesus and the Christian faith, is implanted in us from childhood. Nor had my father, in his mistaken zeal, been slow to bias my youthful mind on this subject. Hence, you may conceive the conflict of my heart. I was resolved to get the words out of my mind, and constantly kept saying to myself, ‘That is not for meÂ—it does not concern me.’ But they would not let go their hold on me. It was as though a fountain of water were opened in the sight of a man parched with thirst, and he unable to reach it. I became more and more distressed. At length I thought, ‘Are these words really in the book of the Christians or may they not have been spoken by God Himself?’ I longed for a New Testament, but knew not how to get one, when it occurred to me that I might possibly find one in the apartment of my maid, who was a Christian. I did not rest till I had found what I wanted. I stole quietly to my own room, and felt as if I were committing a great sin. I locked the door with a trembling hand and an accusing conscience. I opened the Book. I turned over the leaves. Many a passage that met my eye, and many a narrative which I saw, awakened faint recollections of my early years. I stopped not to read anything. My object was to find the words which haunted me. I noticed that several isolated passages were printed in larger type, and I thought that the one I was in search of
might perhaps be thus distinguished; and therefore commenced at the beginning of the New Testament, and looked eagerly at every verse which was thus printed. To my great joy I soon found it; but to my dismay I saw that they were indeed the words of that Jesus whom my father had taught me to hate. Yet I could not put them from me. I read the whole passage. I read it again and again; and could not suppress the wish, Oh! that I were a Christian; then would these words bring comfort, but now, alas! they are not for me.
As I was reading that passage over and over again, my eye fell upon the references affixed. The one was to Isaiah, and the other to Jeremiah. How is this? thought I; these are our own books. For though ignorant, alas! as I was of the Word of God, these names were not unknown to me, and I was greatly surprised to meet them here. The book in my hand was a complete Bible; I turned over the leaves in search of the passages, and found in Jeremiah 25, ‘I have satiated the weary soul, and have replenished every sorrowful soul.’ Ah! how thankful I was to meet with such words of comfort in our own book. I now looked for the passage in Isaiah; it was the invitation, ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.’ (Isaiah 55, 1.). An indescribable feeling came over me; I read the chapter more than once, and turned down the leaf, and found, as the heading of one of the chapters on the other side, ‘Christ’s suffering and death.’ I read it; it was, as you will probably have already guessed, the 53rd of Isaiah. I cannot describe my emotion; I distinctly remembered the life and sufferings of Jesus, which had interested me so much at school, and the impressions which had long slept in my mind were instantaneously re-awakened. I turned to the New Testament, and there read the account of Christ’s sufferings.
It was impossible any longer to master the feelings which crowded upon me. The singular coincidence of all the events, with the predictions of the prophets, startled me.
The thought, however, came into my mind, ‘Who knows whether these things are the same in our Scriptures, as in the Christian book.’ I recollected that I had a Jewish translation of the Old Testament, which had been given to me long since by a relative. I hastened to my bookcase. There stood the book and I soon found the passages; their wording strictly coincided with what I had read. While thus comparing the two versions, the sixth verse specially came home to me: ‘All we, like sheep, have gone astray. and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ I cannot tell you how these words penetrated my inmost soul: just such a stray, lost sheep did I feel myself to be; so alone and forsaken. And then those words, ‘the iniquity of us all,’ they were like a dagger in my breast. I had never before had a conception of what sin was; and above all, to look upon myself as a sinner, had never entered my thoughts. An inexpressible uneasiness came over me. I closed the books, determined to banish the subject from my mind. ‘This comes,’ said I, reproaching myself, ‘from reading the book of the
Christians: I had hoped to find comfort, and now I have a weight upon my heart, a thousand times worse than before. But that remarkable invitation forced itself upon me again and again, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’
My thoughts were so distressing that I was really glad to be summoned to dinner in the hope that I might escape all recollection of what had passed. I carefully locked up the New Testament, and joined my father: he noticed my depression, but did not suspect the cause, nor did I give him any clue to it. I returned early to my room, and hastened to my pillow, to forget, if possible, in sleep, the uneasy conflict of my thoughts, and the accusation of my conscience. But I found no rest; my mind was too excited, and constantly reverted to what I had been reading.
Thus you see, dear Madam, how the light of Christianity first broke in upon my benighted soul, and from that time it has shone more and more brightly. I obtained a Bible, and every moment that I could get to myself, I spent in reading the New Testament. It was not long before I was clearly convinced that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and King of Israel. Thus far was I satisfied; but not so with myself, for my sins appeared every day more dark and fearful. I firmly believe that Jesus can take away both the guilt and the power of sin, yet I cannot realize that He has shed His blood for me also.”
“My dear Thirza,” interuppted Maria, who had listened to her with intense interest, “the grace of the God of your fathers be magnified towards you! only believe that the Lord Jesus, the faithful Shepherd, has followed you into the wilderness, that He has sought the lost sheep, and has found it.”
“Oh!” continued Thirza, “sometimes I found much sweet peace and comfort, when I was able to lay hold of the hope that Jesus had also borne my sins, and then I could pour out my soul to Him in prayer. Never, never shall I forget the first time that I bowed the knee to Jesus, and was enabled to make known to Him the complaints and the wants of my overflowing heart, as freely and as fully as though I were speaking personally with Him.
A burden was taken off from me; I came to Him weary and heavy laden, and He refreshed me. It was on the very Sunday after I had been, for the first time, to your church. Oh! how was that sermon blessed to my soul! and so were those that followed! The preacher seemed to address himself to me in particular: I was able to receive and rejoice in the comfort of pardoned sin; but now, alas! todayÂ—oh! the words of that fearful curse.”
Maria sought to divert her grief, by asking what had led her to come to the church.
“The guiding hand of God,” replied Thirza; “and I am more convinced of this, since I have experienced your great and undeserved love. The more powerfully I felt the truth of the Gospel in my heart, the more anxiously I longed to hear a living witness of that word. I did not dare to reveal the state of my mind to anyone: nor indeed had I any friend to whom I could speak of it;
and I had an increasing desire to attend Christian worship, if I could do so in secret. Driving out one day with my father, I noticed your little church lying so peacefully in the hamlet, and I immediately felt a longing to go there, and resolved to take an early opportunity of doing so, as I thought I should there be secure against discovery.
I went on the following Sunday; and the conviction which the sermon produced, made me decide once and for all.
I waited with impatience for the return of your Sabbath, and from that time till now I have felt the value of the Cross of Christ. But oh! if He should cast me out;Â—I tremble at the thought.”Â—So saying, Thirza leant back upon the couch, and, covering her face with her hands gave free vent to the tears which betrayed the depth of her contrition. Maria inquired whether she would permit her husband to come in and speak to her; for divine service had long since been concluded, but the clergyman had refrained from coming into the room, as he learnt that his wife was still engaged with the stranger.
Thirza readily agreed, for she felt in need of wise counsel. Maria left the room, and briefly acquainted her husband with what had passed. Thirza was at first rather timid; but his frank and cordial manner soon gained her confidence. The consolations of the Gospel, which were now offered to her by this experienced minister of God’s Word, sank like balm into her wounded heart. The fearful spectacle of the curse vanished before the sure and certain word of the Gospel of Grace.
Thirza was filled with the joy of one who has found the peace of God. The blood of Jesus Christ was applied to her soul as the seal of eternal reconciliation, and she tasted the riches of Christ in a manner hitherto unknown to her. The fetters of the law which bound her were broken, and she praised the Lord for His gracious guidance that morning, and the privilege He had opened to her of Christian communion. Within a few hours she experienced the truth of that declaration, “The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth down to the grave and bringeth up.”
On a sudden, however, her heart, which was rejoicing in the sunshine of God’s love, was overcome by sadness. It was the remembrance of her departed mother, “O my poor, poor mother,” exclaimed Thirza, in anguish, terrified at her own thoughts, “my tender, my beloved mother, gone into eternity without having known Him whose blood alone can save us! And oh! my father, his implacable hatred to the Crucified! Oh how will he be confounded and dismayed, when he learns what has taken place!”
“Does not your father know anything of your present feelings?” inquired the clergyman.
“Oh, no! he has known for some time past I have had a weight on my mind, but he has not the slightest idea of the cause. Ah me! I fear it will be his death when he hears of it; his constitution, since the death of my mother, has been greatly shaken; and I know my father: tenderly as his soul is bound up in his only child, he would
rather, far rather, see me stretched a lifeless corpse before him, than hear me confess that I believe in the Nazarene. Oh! how will all this end?”
“Be of good courage, dear Thirza,” said Maria; “you will see the faithfulness of the Lord, who delivers His people in all their trials and sufferings; lay fast hold of the Apostle’s exhortation, ‘Casting all your care upon God, for He careth for you.’ ”
“Yes indeed He does,” added her husband, “and He will be to you in this trial, as the good and faithful Shepherd who gathers the Iambs with His arm and carries them in His bosom. Remember, however, He has also said, ‘Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven,’ ” (Matt. 10, 32-33).
Thirza was alarmed at these words, and said some weeks ago, while reading the Scriptures, she had come across this very text, which struck her forcibly, and caused her much uneasiness. She acknowledged that it had become almost unbearable to her to hide her faith, to read the Bible in concealment, and to creep into church like one ashamed of her religion; but she was afraid of her father’s reactions.
“As to the Judgment of the world, or the opinion of man,” she continued, “I am not concerned; but oh! my poor father. He has no one on earth beside me, and I have been compelled to abandon him in that which he holds most sacred. I know he will cast me out, so soon as he learns that I am a Christian. Oh! if his anger affected only externals, I could bear it; even were he to thrust me out of the house, and cut me off from my inheritance, willingly would I endure both poverty and want; but that my father, whom I love so devotedly, should close his heart against me, oh! this is too dreadful, too overwhelming! I dare not think of it!”
Thirza wept bitterly, and her sympathizing friends shared her grief. The worthy pastor deeply felt with her the immensity of the sacrifice which the Lord demanded at her hands; but he, at the same time, assured her that God never requires of His children anything which He does not also enable them to perform; nor does He suffer them to be tempted above that they are able (1 Cor. 10, 13): that His promise is firm and sureÂ—”As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” (Deut. 33, 25.). He exhorted her to confess her faith without delay, and set before her the unequivocal declaration of the Lord Jesus: “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10, 37.). These words were conclusive, and decided Thirza as to her future course. The enjoyment of the preciousness of Jesus, which she had experienced, inspired her with courage to forsake all for His sake.
She now felt determined to make known to her father what the Lord had done for her soul, and resolved, in His strength, to do so that very evening; but her heart trembled, and her voice faltered, as she uttered her resolution. Maria rejoiced at Thirza’s decision, assured her that she would earnestly pray for her, and encouraged
her to look to “that High Priest who ever liveth to make intercession for us.” (Heb. 7, 25.).
“Let us unite in prayer at once,” said her husband, and they
knelt down before Him who is invisible, and Thirza was filled with joy and peace in believing.
At parting, the worthy pastor repeated many comforting assurances, and especially these words: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isa. 41, 10.). “Fear not; for I have
redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” (Isa. 43, 1.).
Maria then led her young friend through the garden, by a private path, to the city. She begged her to come frequently to the Manse, assuring her of her deep affection.
Thirza returned home in a happy, though agitated, frame of mind. She met her father at dinner, with greater cheerfulness and less reserve than she had been able to do for weeks past. Gladly would she at once have ventured, in the fulness and freshness of her joy, to make the solemn disclosure of her faith in Jesus; but they were not alone. She passed the afternoon in her own apartment, and never before had she experienced so rich an enjoyment of the Word of God, or realised so free and childlike an access in prayer, to the throne of grace. But as evening drew on, her heart became more and more oppressed. A fearful struggle between nature and grace arose; and could she have dared to defer her declaration, she would thankfully have done so.
Throughout this conflict she had many bright gleams of comfort from the assurance of God’s faithfulness, as declared in His own Word. At times she longed for Maria, but no arm of flesh was to be her support; the Lord alone was to be her strength. In the midst of this trial, she was summoned to dinner; her whole frame shook;
the decisive hour had come. She again threw herself upon her knees before the Lord, and begged for His gracious presence in the approaching ordeal. She ate little, and spoke less. The cloth was removed, and Thirza was left alone with her father. “Now, now is the time,” she said to herself; but her heart was oppressed with the most anxious fears: the power of speech failed her, and she looked upon the ground in silence.
“Thirza, what is the matter?” inquired her troubled parent, gently taking her hand. She sighed deeply: and unable any longer to endure his fond gaze, she covered her face with her hands.
Eliezer bent in silence over his daughter, whose agitation was inexplicable to him. He heard her stifled sighs, and the low murmur of her prayers. “The Lord perform all thy petitions,” exclaimed he, in the words of the Psalmist, again laying his hand upon her head; and behold! while he was speaking, his desire was accomplished, though in a way he little expected. The Lord looked upon the anguish of His child, and came to her relief. Scarcely had Eliezer pronounced the words, when Thirza raised her head, and looking up into his face, added in a firm and solemn tone, “Amen, for the sake of Jesus Christ.”
The words were spoken. Her astonished father started, and recoiled as if stung by a serpent; his eyes which the moment before beamed with a father’s affection, were now averted in wild dismay, and flashed with anger and fury. His deep-rooted hatred to the Nazarene, his blind adherence to the religion of his fathers, completely mastered his spirit. He sprang from his seat, as if wishing to escape from the flash of that word, which had at once laid open the heart of his daughter.
Thirza was speechless and bewildered; her whole frame shook;
but she realized the living presence of the Lord Jehovah. The aged Israelite stood as if petrified. After an awful silence, he at last found words to express his indignation. “What!” he exclaimed, “and who has done this? That accursed name from the lips of my daughter! Cursed be Â—Â—.” “O my father, my father, do not curse!” entreated his weeping childÂ— “Blaspheme not the name of my Lord and Saviour. Dear, dear father, do not curse Jesus, the Messiah of Israel.”
Here the rage of the miserable man broke forth in that awful curse which the unhappy children of Israel, in the blindness of their unbelief, are wont to pronounce over that sacred name, which alone is given unto men, whereby they can be saved:
“Cursed be the name; let it be rooted out now and for ever; and let the tongue that pronounces it be destroyed.” Who does not shudder at these words, and in the language of the blessed Jesus exclaim, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”
The inmost soul of Thirza was pierced, and she clung with nervous agitation to her father as he strove to push her away from him. “O my father, my father!” she exclaimed.
“I have no daughter now; the apostate is for ever cast out of my heart. Get out, you accursed one; never shall you see me again, till you abjure the Nazarene.” With these words, uttered in a sta