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The Proselytes
by [?]

[J. de Labadie, Anna Maria Schurmans, and others, dissenters from the French Protestants, established themselves in Holland, 1670.]

“He speaks like one sent on a message from heaven, a message of wisdom and salvation. Come, Ernest, and see him; for he hath but a brief hour to tarry with us. Who knoweth but that this stranger may be commissioned to lead us to that which we have so long and anxiously sought for,–the truth as it is in God.


“Now may Heaven bless the sweet enthusiast for this interruption of my bitter reflections!” said the student, in the earnest tenderness of impassioned feeling. “She knows how gladly I shall obey her summons; she knows how readily I shall forsake the dogmas of our wisest schoolmen, to obey the slightest wishes of a heart pure and generous as hers.”

He passed hastily through one of the principal streets of the city to the dwelling of the lady, Eleonora.

In a large and gorgeous apartment sat the Englishman, his plain and simple garb contrasting strongly with the richness and luxury around him. He was apparently quite young, and of a tall and commanding figure. His countenance was calm and benevolent; it bore no traces of passion; care had not marked it; there was a holy serenity in its expression, which seemed a token of that inward “peace which passeth all understanding.”

“And this is thy friend, Eleonora?” said the stranger, as he offered his hand to Ernest. “I hear,” he said, addressing the latter, “thou hast been a hard student and a lover of philosophy.”

“I am but a humble inquirer after Truth,” replied Ernest.

“From whence hast thou sought it?”

“From the sacred volume, from the lore of the old fathers, from the fountains of philosophy, and from my own brief experience of human life.”

“And hast thou attained thy object?”

“Alas, no!” replied the student; “I have thus far toiled in vain.”

“Ah! thus must the children of this world ever toil, wearily, wearily, but in vain. We grasp at shadows, we grapple with the fashionless air, we walk in the blindness of our own vain imaginations, we compass heaven and earth for our objects, and marvel that we find them not. The truth which is of God, the crown of wisdom, the pearl of exceeding price, demands not this vain-glorious research; easily to be entreated, it lieth within the reach of all. The eye of the humblest spirit may discern it. For He who respecteth not the persons of His children hath not set it afar off, unapproachable save to the proud and lofty; but hath made its refreshing fountains to murmur, as it were, at the very door of our hearts. But in the encumbering hurry of the world we perceive it not; in the noise of our daily vanities we hear not the waters of Siloah which go softly. We look widely abroad; we lose ourselves in vain speculation; we wander in the crooked paths of those who have gone before us; yea, in the language of one of the old fathers, we ask the earth and it replieth not, we question the sea and its inhabitants, we turn to the sun, and the moon, and the stars of heaven, and they may not satisfy us; we ask our eyes, and they cannot see, and our ears, and they cannot hear; we turn to books, and they delude us; we seek philosophy, and no response cometh from its dead and silent learning.

[August. Soliloq. Cap. XXXI. “Interrogavi Terram,” etc.]

“It is not in the sky above, nor in the air around, nor in the earth beneath; it is in our own spirits, it lives within us; and if we would find it, like the lost silver of the woman of the parable, we must look at home, to the inward temple, which the inward eye discovereth, and wherein the spirit of all truth is manifested. The voice of that spirit is still and small, and the light about it shineth in darkness. But truth is there; and if we seek it in low humility, in a patient waiting upon its author, with a giving up of our natural pride of knowledge, a seducing of self, a quiet from all outward endeavor, it will assuredly be revealed and fully made known. For as the angel rose of old from the altar of Manoah even so shall truth arise from the humbling sacrifice of self-knowledge and human vanity, in all its eternal and ineffable beauty.