« PreviousContinue »
promise to you, and the tender years of the unhappy Clara ; but he yielded at last, and consented to aid in conveying Clara to that Court whose name I tremble to utter."
Sir Hubert clasped his hands in anguish. “ What step can be taken to save her?”
“I know of none that can be effectual unless you despise the power of the Church. When Father Joachim returns, place him in close confinement, and fearlessly refuse to release him till Clara is restored ; he has the power, and thus only can he be compelled to use it. This will not be sufficient : you must also arm all among your domesties on whom you can rely, and direct them to conceal themselves in the forest that surrounds the Convent of F- Go with them. Let your son also go-watch every avenue, on the night appointed, that leads to the public road-brave every danger; but leave not-oh! if you have a parent's heart, leave not your too confiding daughter to die a cruel death amidst the mysterious untold horrors of the Inquisition !"
Sir Hubert was for some minutes lost in thought, the agonizing nature of which made reason totter on her seat.
That Clara, his only daughter, should perish thus, was indeed most insupportable; yet how could he attempt to save her, but by despising the authority of that Church and those priests whose anathemas he believed would exclude his soul from heaven, and consign it to the torments of the lost; and dreadful as was the alternative of leaving his child to perish, it was not so dreadful as openly rebelling against the spiritual power of Rome. He therefore resolved to pursue a middle course, to renew his entreaties that Father Joachim would bring Clara to the Castle, where she should be kept closely confined under his entire control. Clarice vainly assured him that all his entreaties would be ineffectual, and that nothing but forcibly detaining Father Joachim would succeed. Sir Hubert, though he trembled for Clara, could not be prevailed on to adopt the plan proposed by his niece ; she therefore left him more sad than ever, feeling all her efforts were unavailing to rescue her unhappy yet blessed cousin.
It was midnight, and the hour when so many were wrapped in tranquil slumber found Clara wetting her couch with her tears, while her heart meditated terror. True, she knew in whom she believed, and at times had been enabled to rejoice in the midst of her afflictions in anticipation of the glory that should follow ; but though a child of grace, and as such supported by the God of grace, she was yet as a reed shaken by the wind; the blast that had blown on her had already been sharp and strong, and it threatened to blow with tenfold fury and to crush her beneath its tempestuous violence, and Clara, listening only to its dismal roaring, heard not the voice of Him whom the stormy winds obey, but yielding to unbelief was fast sinking to despair.
In addition to the sufferings she had endured the last three months, she had lately received a visit from him whom she most dreaded; for Father Joachim, since her apostacy, had treated her with cruelty, from which her every feeling revolted. Yes; Clara had been weeping, bitterly weeping, as she thought of her father, her brother, and her happy home; but horrible visions also arose before her vivid imagina
tion—the rack, the screw, the tortures, Father Joachim had been fearfully describing, while death itself closed the gloomy array. Now, then, was the time for the cruel enemy of her soul maliciously to whisper, What if, after all, you are in error, and should find these but the beginning of eternal torments ? Dreadful thought! great indeed was the gloom that now overspread her. Yet these clouds are not unfrequently permitted to pass over the faithful soul, these temptations are a part, and the most painful part, of the fiery trial that is to try them, against which the shield of faith must be held, and thus the darts of the wicked one shall be quenched. From these sad reflections Clara was roused by the light of a torch breaking on the thick darkness with which she was surrounded, and a figure stood before her enveloped in a cloak ; the scream of terror died on her lips from an actual incapability of uttering it, and nature overtasked, she fainted. How long she lay in this unconscious state she knew not, nor through what scenes she passed, but the clear calm light of the moon was shining on her when she opened her eyes, and the pure fresh air of heaven played on her face.
One person only was near her, whose features were entirely concealed, and who, she felt assured, was the messenger sent to convey her to Rome ; yet he had laid her on the grass, and held a cordial to her lips, with an attention that savoured not of savage ferocity.
“Ah !” exclaimed Clara, as consciousness returned, “it was a kindness too great to let me die from terror or exhaustion ; I am therefore reserved for more lingering torments. Yet can it be that the God who formed us delights in cruelty ? Oh, is it in his sight a curse to show mercy ?"
“ I trust not,” said a voice, whose accents of compassion fell like softest music on Clara's ear; “I trust not, for then shall I offend against my Maker as well as my fellow-men.”
Clara trembled too much to reply, as she distinctly recalled the voice of Father Leo.
“ Hearken," said he, “to the last words I shall in all probability ever address to you; I have saved you from the dungeons of the Inquisition, because I believe the rack and torture will never reclaim ; but if you feel one spark of gratitude toward him who has risked much to deliver you, bury in solemn silence what has passed within the convent walls, and daily, at the throne of grace, plead for me and one united to me by the bonds of nature-one who wishes well to you, though he has made you suffer much to prove it-remember brother Adrian and brother Leo when you pray to the God of the Bible.”
Thus saying, the priest turned from her, and appeared as though he were leaving, when Clara, to whom hope had imparted new life, sprung to her feet, and implored him to direct her what to do.
“ Fear not, for you are safe. A carriage is ready to convey you to a Protestant family with whom you will remain for the present. Your brother Hubert is near, and waits but for me to inform him all is ready.”
We attempt not to describe the feelings of Clara at this moment,wonder, joy, and gratitude, alike overpowered her ; but as Father Leo
still lingered, she strove to pour forth her thanks to him for the part he had taken in her deliverance.
« Nay, thank me not," replied he, “ since that fatal hour in which these lips first pronounced the vows that bound me for life to the spiritual despotism of Rome, I have never tasted a pleasure so purethe pleasure of showing mercy ; but for this how much must I suffer ! Falsehood, deep-laid falsehood, can alone prevent the discovery of what I have done in rescuing you, and if these should fail to hide my crime, the displeasure of my superiors —
He stopped, as though ashamed of what he had said, and in a cold and haughty manner turned away. A few seconds of breathless suspense followed, when a carriage appeared, and one who, though also disguised, she believed to be her own loved brother, was about to lift into it the bewildered Clara. But gratitude to Father Leo overpowered all thought of herself, and falling on her knees before him, she thus expressed the warm feelings of her heart.
“Oh, kind and generous defender of the persecuted and oppressed; may the God of the Bible reward you! Oh, if the blessings of her who was ready to perish can avail, then will peace be your portion now and for ever, and as thou hast pitied the miseries, so despise not the advice of the heretic Clara--come out and be separate from a Church and community thus opposed to the religion of the Lord Jesus ; fear not to follow the teachings of His word and Spirit, then He will bless and deliver you, as adored be His name He has delivered me.”
Clara arose, the priest made no reply, but consigning her to the care of her brother, returned to scenes from which his heart revolted.
Hubert and his sister travelled swiftly till the break of day, when they reached a pretty cottage situated in a retired valley; here they were most kindly received by an elderly lady in mourning, who insisted on Clara's immediately taking some refreshment and retiring to rest.
Clara, whose first feelings of joy and gladness at her deliverance had been damped by the coldness of her brother, burst into tears at the more than maternal kindness of the stranger lady. The light which now fell clearly on her face first discovered to Hubert the dreadful inroads made by the last three months of intense suffering. Much affected at the sight he tenderly embraced her; the returning kindness of Hubert was the sweetest balm to her broken heart; but here the lady, though evidently much pleased, interposed and entreated Hubert to leave them, both for his own and his sister's sake.
“ Alas I Madam," said Hubert, “I do so with an aching heart. I fear I am endangering still further the soul of my sister, through weak pity for her perishing body.”
“Still the same fears, my dear young friend; would that you knew the religion of the Bible !" : Clara, during this conversation, leant her head in a state of utter unconsciousness on the bosom of her new found friend, which the latter perceiving, again entreated Hubert to leave them, as she really trembled for his sister's life. Thus addressed, Hubert pressed his lips
on the pale forehead of Clara, and bowing respectfully to the lady, left the house.
“Poor, persecuted lamb of the good Shepherd's fold, how barbarous the hearts that have made you suffer thus," exclaimed the benevolent lady, as she used every means to recover Clara, after which she assisted her to undress, and entreated her to take some repose.
“I cannot,” said Clara, whose burning hand and beating pulse spoke of the excited state of her feelings, “I cannot till you tell me where I am, and what next awaits me."
“You are in the house of one who loves the Saviour for whom you have suffered ; rest contented with knowing this, and believe what shall next befall you will be ordered by His love who has already so wonderfully delivered you. Can you not trust that he will yet deliver?”
“Oh, yes; but how greatly have I failed in acknowledging his goodness!”
“My dear girl,” said the lady, “I will read a few verses which will, I am persuaded, express the feelings of your heart. I must afterwards insist on your being silent.”
With what a calm and soothing influence did the beautiful verses of the 103d Psalm fall on Clara's ear, now read to her for the first time by a Bible Christian ! after which she soon fell into a sweet and refreshing sleep.
Leaving her to enjoy this needful repose, we will inform our readers that the sudden departure of Hubert from his Protestant friends, nearly three months prior to this time, had been occasioned by a letter received from his cousin Clarice, acquainting him with the disappearance of his sister and Frances, as well as her own suspicions respecting the cause.
Mrs. Willoughby and her daughter soon after left Italy, and took a small cottage in a village in the south of France, intending to remain there till Laura, who was still delicate, should be able to return to England, to which country Mr. Murray was already gone.
One morning, as they were partaking of their accustomed meal, a note was put into Mrs. Willoughby's hand, which caused her placid countenance to be clouded. Contrary to her usual custom, she did not offer to show it to Laura, but instantly rose from her seat, and, after the lapse of a few minutes, appeared equipped for walking. Accustomed to her mother's confidence, Laura unconsciously inquired where she was going.
“ It is better, my love, that you should not know; be satisfied no harm has befallen any who are dear to you. I hope to return in a few hours. Farewell ! and stay your mind on One who has promised to keep in perfect peace those who trust in Him."
Mrs. Willoughby returned before the evening: she looked pale and anxious, but spoke cheerfully. At an earlier hour than usual she entreated her daughter to retire to rest ; and though Laura felt some curiosity and no little anxiety about the mysterious occurrences of the morning, she complied, and was soon wrapped in gentle slumbers, from which she awoke imagining she heard the carriage, and soon after the murmuring sound of voices. She listened attentively, but all was silence; and persuading herself it was a dream, Laura again composed herself to rest, and awoke not till the sun was shining more brightly than usual.
As she was about to leave her chamber, her mother entered the room. A smile of pure and heartfelt benevolence lighted up her features, and had chased away the anxiety which dwelt there on the preceding day. Tenderly embracing her daughter, she thus addressed her :
“ Shall I not make amends, dear Laura, for the suspense of yesterday, if I ask you to receive and cherish with a sister's love one who has known what it is to be hated by kinsfolk and friends for the cause of truth, if I ask you to receive and love the sister of your brother's dearest friend ?"
Laura, who had never heard the tale of horror, felt her heart glow with indignation against those who had made the hapless stranger suffer thus ; and it was with feelings of joy, pity, and the tenderest sympathy, that she embraced for the first time the long persecuted but now happy Clara.
And oh I how much had she to hear, and Clara to relate !-how much had she to teach, and Clara to learn, during the next few months they spent together on England's happy shore, beyond the reach of Romish hatred or Romish cruelty, where each man sits under his own vine and fig-tree, none making him afraid ! Oh, England ! Protestant England ! land of the vale, the mountain, and the plain! land of the brave, the noble, and the free land of my fathers ! and best, most blest of all, as yet the land of Gospel light, of Bible truth, of pure religion! Ah! can it, must it, shall it be, that thou “ wilt give thy power and strength to the Beast,”-that forsaking the God who has so long, so greatly blessed thee, thou wilt come down from thy lofty eminence and crouch at the footstool of the “man of sin!” Alas! alas ! if thus it be, then is thy glory fallen ; then will the fine gold become dim; and then,oh, tremble ye who love the Lord !-since if, as a nation, we forsake Him, He also will forsake us !
(To be continued.)
ON THE SATANIC ORIGIN, AND BLASPHEMOUS CHARACTER
OF POPERY. In this day of rebuke and blasphemy, when Popery is putting forth all its energies and attempting to rear its hydra head again in England, and when an Infidel Liberalism is zealously seconding its efforts, it becomes necessary to exhibit this Antichristian system in its true colours, and point out the source from whence it emanates.
Much ignorance prevails as to the real character of Popery. Many would fain have us believe that it ceases to be the blasphemous, idolatrous, and persecuting power that it once was. But as it is too infallible to err, so it is too immutable to improve. Semper eadem is indelibly stamped upon its brow, precluding all hope of reformation,
Popery is certainly no human device. The finger of Satan is as