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Few men were ever more blessed in a father than I was; and few there are, who could glean so rich a handful as I may often do, from the stores with which my memory is enriched.
I cannot recover the faintest image of my mother, nor of my elder brothers or sisters. She and they died in the far distant land which was also my native place. I remember nothing, before I found myself living with my father in Valle Crucis, in North Wales.
Our house and our establishment were small-but we were surrounded by all that is lovely in nature, in a rich and wooded mountainous country. My father had books in rich abundance, which proved his chief resource, for he had withdrawn from a world in which he had suffered many bereavements, to devote himself wholly to me; and so devoted was he, that he made himself the companion, not of my studies only, but of my recreations. My object, however, is not to describe what my parent was to me in my hours of play, but, if possible to recover the recollections of some of his particular conversations.
I cannot precisely say what age I was, when, one summer's day, I asked him to fulfil a promise which he had long made, to take me to Dinas Bran. The ruin on the summit of the mountain had always appeared so near to me, that I thought I could have reached it with great ease, but it proved a weary ascent and descent; and sometime before we left the devious and broken path on the mountain, and attained the public road, near to which our house stood, between Llangollen and Valle Crucis Abbey, it became nearly dark. It is true that the stars gave us a little light, but very soon dark clouds rolled between us and these stars, and so black did the night become, that we could not discern even the forms of the mountains by which we were surrounded.
My father was by no means troubled by this darkness, for he knew perfectly well every step of the way, and though he heard the river foaming and dashing almost in a line with the road, yet he felt there was no cause for fear; he held me firmly by the hand, and our good old dog walked close before me as if to guide my steps. The discourse which then passed, and which I desire to make the first specimen of my gleanings, began with my saying, that I disliked being in the dark; adding, "What a shocking thing, dear papa! it must be to be blind."
"What do you mean by blind, Gerard ?" asked my father.
I laughed, and answered, "Not being able to see, papa, to be sure."
"We cannot see much now," he said, "but we are not blind."
"Now, papa," I replied, " you are going to puzzle me, if you can; but you can't; I know what being blind is; it is, having eyes that cannot see, even where there is light to see by: it is not being in the dark, as we now are, for if the least light were to come, we should see it—even a glow worm if it were ever so small."
"Very true," answered my father, "to be blind is to be unable to discern any thing by the eyes, even when the objects are in the light."
"Yes, I added, those people are blind who have no eyes; or such eyes as are of no use in seeing. I saw a blind harper once, and his eyes looked like other people's, but he could not see. Is not that what our Saviour means, when he says, "they have eyes and see not, and ears and hear not?""
"Our Saviour means more than that, Gerard," answered my father; "he refers to another sort of blindness than that of not being able to discern by the eyes the natural things which are about us in this world."
"What blindness?" I asked; "I do not understand."
"There is one sort of blindness which you have explained yourself, Gerard," said my father, "it is an incapacity of discerning by the eye the things which exist about us; and there is another sort; and that is common to all men in their natural state. This is a total want of power to discern by the understanding those spiritual things, which are in fact, only apprehended by the eyes of the spiritual nature."
I heard my father's words and repeated them once or twice to try to understand them; and even after he had said the same thing in plainer language, was still sometime before I could comprehend what he meant to tell me, that all people who had not the Divine Spirit dwelling in them, and in whom that Spirit did not form a new nature, were as blind to all heavenly things as a man without eyes is to natural things. When I had made this out, which I did the sooner from being used to his way of teaching, he opened this subject more to me.
"The sun," he said, "is the source of natural light; and as the
sun gives light to the natural world, arraying all things in their green, their gold, their violet, their azure, or other hues which render many of them so beautiful to the human eye, so is the Sun of Righteousness, the Redeemer, the source of light to the soul of man-and ever near to every man, though no more understood by unholy men who live according to the flesh, than the glories of the sun in the sky are comprehended by the blind.
"It was but now, my boy, that you expressed great horror at the idea of ever being blind. Supposing now, that you, being blind, did not know or understand the blessing of sight; should you, do you think, feel the same horror at being blind as you now would do, were you to lose your sight?" "No, papa,” I answered, "because then I should not know the pleasure of having seen. I should not know what such a glorious sight is, as that we had to-day, when we were at the top of the mountain, and saw the sun go down amongst golden and purple clouds, shooting up his beams to the middle of the sky, and making the water sparkle as if it had been strewn with diamonds. I could not have been made to understand anything about such things, papa, and therefore, I should not have been sorry about not enjoying them."
"Perfectly true," answered my father, "we cannot be sorry for the loss of what we never had, and do not understand; therefore, those persons who never have enjoyed the sight of spiritual things, have no desire to have it: and although spiritual blindness is far more terrible and a much greater privation than natural blindness, they do not feel the absence of the light which is from above, because they never felt its presence."
"Papa," I asked, "am I blind in that way which you call spiritual?" I knew by my father's manner that he was smiling at this question, for he spoke as if he was-smiling as fathers do, when their young ones put questions to them, which shew their ignorance, and at the same time their confidence in the person to whom they address their enquiries.
"I will tell you," he said, "what spiritual blindness is, Gerard, and then perhaps you will be able to answer your own question. A person who is spiritually blind knows nothing but what he can take in through the senses of hearing, smelling, feeling, seeing, and tasting. He may put these things together and know something
I laughed, and answered, "Not being able sure."
"We cannot see much now," he said, "b
"Now, papa," I replied, " you are goin can; but you can't; I know what being eyes that cannot see, even where there is light being in the dark, as we now are, for if come, we should see it-even a glow wor small."
"Very true," answered my father, "to be"" to discern any thing by the eyes, even wher light."
"Yes, I added, those people are blind such eyes as are of no use in seeing. I and his eyes looked like other people's, not that what our Saviour means, when he c and see not, and ears and hear not?" "
"Our Saviour means more than that father; "he refers to another sort of bl being able to discern by the eyes the natural the us in this world."
"What blindness?" I asked; "I do not "There is one sort of blindness whit yourself, Gerard," said my father, "it is n by the eye the things which exist about sort; and that is common to all men is a total want of power to discer spiritual things, which are in fact of the spiritual nature."
I heard my father's words and try to understand them; and in plainer language, was still
med to please my father, though at the time, I why it did so. "Papa," I said, "I cannot tell am not blind in that way, but I do wish that if I ist would open my eyes, for I wish that I could very where, and could think with delight on being
after I die; and sometimes even, papa, I think mething of God's love, and then I get blind again." on, answered my father, "when the Divine Spirit his light to any one, he never becomes blind again, nd calling of God are without repentance. Many joyed the sense of seeing with his natural eyes, and has
but those who have received sight from the Holy ver become blind. But as we are now in a natural darkness, without being blind, so they may be consuffer spiritual darkness for a time through the pleasure rder to keep them in dependance on himself, and to know whence their light comes."
remark, though I remember it so well upon reflection, e above me at the time. We walked on a short way in nd then I made my father acquainted with what I had mking of during that silence, by summing up my thoughts. hat had been said. "So then there are two sorts of ss," I said, "one is natural and the other spiritual. We what seeing naturally is: we should be very sorry to lose ht; but we do not mind being spiritually blind, because we know how pleasant it is to see all those things which are spiritually seen. But when we are going to die it will be no fort to have seen only the beautiful things in this world, ause we must lose them; and then it will be so delightful to k forward to the bright things of the other world, and to the torious Saviour. Papa, I think then, if I was forced to chose one these sorts of blindness, it would be best to choose to be naturally blind. Have I chosen rightly, papa?"
"Instead of answering you," said my father, "I will tell you a story which I have just remembered; it is not an inventede, but something which happened so many years ago that yo
ben born. We have a mile more to walk, and this s