Oak Openings by James Fenimore Cooper
Behold, O Lord! the heathen tread The branches of thy fruitful vine, That its luxurious tendrils spread O'er all the hills of Palestine. And now the wild boar comes to waste Even us, the greenest boughs and last. That, drinking of its choicest dew, On Zion's hill in beauty grew. --MILMAN.
The change in Peter had been gradually making itself apparent, ever since he joined the party of the bee-hunter. When he entered the Kalamazoo, in the company of the two men who had now fallen the victims of his own designs, his heart was full of the fell intention of cutting off the whole white race. Margery had first induced him to think of exceptions. He had early half-decided that she should be spared, to be carried to his own lodge, as an adopted daughter. When he became aware of the state of things between his favorite and her lover, there was a severe struggle in his breast on the subject of sparing the last. He saw how strongly the girl was attached to him, and something like human sentiments forced their way among his savage plans. The mysterious communication of le Bourdon with the bees, however, had far more influence in determining him to spare so great a medicine-man, than Margery's claims; and he had endeavored to avail himself of a marriage as a means of saving the bride, instead of saving the bridegroom. All the Indians entertained a species of awe for le Bourdon, and all hesitated about laying hands on one who appeared so gifted. It was, therefore, the expectation of this extraordinary being that the wife might be permitted to escape with the husband. The effect of The Weasel's cunning has been described. Such was the state of Peter's mind when he met the band in the scenes last described. There he had been all attention to the demeanor of the missionary. A hundred times had he seen warriors die uttering maledictions on their enemies; but this was the first occasion on which he had ever known a man to use his latest breath in asking for blessings on those "who persecuted him." At first, Peter was astounded. Then the sublime principles had their effect, and his heart was deeply touched with what he heard. How far the Holy Spirit aided these better feelings, it might be presumptuous, on the one hand, to say; while, on the other, it will be equally presuming to think of denying the possibility--nay, the probability- -that the great change which so suddenly came over the heart of Peter was produced by more than mere human agencies. We know that this blessed Spirit is often poured out, in especial cases, with affluent benevolence, and there can be no sufficient reason for supposing this savage might not have been thus signally favored, as soon as the avenues of his heart opened to the impulses of a generous humanity. The very qualities that would induce such a being to attempt the wild and visionary scheme of vengeance and retribution, that had now occupied his sleeping and waking thoughts for years, might, under a better direction, render him eminently fit to be the subject of divine grace. A latent sense of right lay behind all his seeming barbarity, and that which to us appears as a fell ferocity, was, in his own eyes, no less than a severe justice.
The words, the principles, the prayers, and, more than all, the example of the missionary, wrought this great change, so far as human agencies were employed; but the power of God was necessary to carry out and complete this renewal of the inner man. We do not mean that a miracle was used in the sudden conversion of this Indian to better feelings, for that which is of hourly occurrence, and which may happen to all, comes within the ordinary workings of a Divine Providence, and cannot thus be designated with propriety; but we do wish to be understood as saying, that no purely human power could have cleared the moral vision, changed all the views, and softened the heart of such a man, as was so promptly done in the case of Peter. The way had been gradually preparing, perhaps, by the means already described, but the great transformation came so suddenly and so powerfully as to render him a different being, as it might almost be, in the twinkling of an eye! Such changes often occur, and though it may suit the self-sufficiency of the worldling to deride them, he is the wisest who submits in the meekest spirit to powers that exceed his comprehension.
In this state of mind, then, Peter left the band as soon as the fate of the missionary was decided. His immediate object was to save the whites who remained, Gershom and Dorothy now having a place in his good intentions, as well as le Bourdon and Margery. Although he moved swiftly, and nearly by an air-line, his thoughts scarce kept company with his feet. During that rapid walk, he was haunted with the image of a man, dying while he pronounced benedictions on his enemies!
There was little in common between the natural objects of that placid and rural scene and the fell passions that were so actively at work among the savages. The whole of the landscape was bathed in the light of a clear, warm summer's day. These are the times when the earth truly seems a sanctuary, in spots remote from the haunts of men, and least exposed to his abuses. The bees hum around the flowers, the birds carol on the boughs and from amid their leafy arbors, while even the leaping and shining waters appear to be instinct with the life that extols the glory of God.
As for the family near the palisaded hut, happiness had not, for many a month, been so seated among them, as on this very occasion. Dorothy sympathized truly in the feelings of the youthful and charming bride, while Gershom had many of the kind and affectionate wishes of a brother in her behalf. The last was in his best attire, as indeed were the females, who were neatly though modestly clad, and Gershom had that air of decent repose and of quiet enjoyment, which is so common of a Sabbath with the men of his class, among the people from whom he sprung. The fears lately excited were momentarily forgotten. Everything around them wore an air so placid; the vault above them was so profoundly tranquil; the light of day was so soft and yet so bright; the Openings seemed so rural and so much like pictures of civilization, that apprehension had been entirely forgotten in present enjoyment. Such was the moment when Peter suddenly stood before le Bourdon and Margery, as the young couple sat beneath the shade of the oaks, near the spring. One instant the Indian regarded this picture of young wedded life with a gleam of pleasure on his dark face; then he announced his presence by speaking.
"Can't sit here lookin' at young squaw," said this literal being. "Get up, and put thing in canoe. Time come to go on path dat lead to pale-face country."
"What has happened, Peter?" demanded the bee-hunter, springing to his feet. "You come like a runner rushing in with his bad tidings. Has anything happened to give an alarm?"
"Up, and off, tell you. No use talkin' now. Put all he can in canoe, and paddle away fast as can." There was no mistaking Peter's manner. The bee-hunter saw the uselessness of questioning such a man, at a time like that, and he called to Gershom to join him.
"Here is the chief, to warn us to move," said the bee-hunter, endeavoring to appear calm, in order that he might not needlessly alarm the females, "and what he advises, we had better do. I know there is danger, by what has fallen from Pigeonswing as well as from himself; so let us lose no time, but stow the canoes, and do as he tells us."
As Gershom assented, it was not two minutes ere all were at work. For several days, each canoe had been furnished with provisions for a hasty flight. It remained only to add such of the effects as were too valuable and necessary to be abandoned, and which had not been previously exposed without the palisades. For half an hour le Bourdon and Gershom worked as for life. No questions were asked, nor was a single moment lost, in a desire to learn more. The manner in which Peter bore himself satisfied Boden that the emergency was pressing, and it is seldom that more was done by so few hands in so short a period. Fortunately, the previous preparation greatly aided the present object, and nearly everything of any value was placed in the canoes within the brief space mentioned. It then became necessary to decide concerning the condition in which Castle Meal was to be left. Peter advised closing every aperture, shutting the gate, and leaving the dog within. There is no doubt that these expedients prevented the parties falling early into the hands of their enemies; for the time lost by the savages in making their approaches to the hut was very precious to the fugitives.
Just as the canoes were loaded, Pigeonswing came in. He announced that the whole band was in motion, and might be expected to reach the grove in ten minutes. Placing an arm around the slender waist of Margery, le Bourdon almost carried her to his own canoe, Gershom soon had Dorothy in his little bark, while Peter entered that to the ownership of which he may be said to have justly succeeded by the deaths of the corporal and the missionary. Pigeonswing remained behind, in order to act as a scout, having first communicated to Peter the course the last ought to steer. Before the Chippewa plunged into the cover in which it was his intention to conceal himself, he made a sign that the band was already in sight
The heart of le Bourdon sunk within him, when he learned how near were the enemy. To him, escape seemed impossible; and he now regretted having abandoned the defences of his late residence. The river was sluggish for more than a mile at that spot, and then occurred a rift, which could not be passed without partly unloading the canoes, and where there must necessarily be a detention of more than an hour. Thus, it was scarcely possible for canoes descending that stream to escape from so large a band of pursuers. The sinuosities, themselves, would enable the last to gain fifty points ahead of them, where ambushes, or even open resistance, must place them altogether at the mercy of the savages.
Peter knew all this, as well as the bee-hunter, and he had no intention of trusting his new friends in a flight down the river. Pigeonswing, with the sententious brevity of an Indian, had made an important communication to him, while they were moving, for the last time, toward the canoes, and he now determined to profit by it. Taking the lead, therefore, with his own canoe, Peter paddled up, instead of down the stream, going in a direction opposite to that which it would naturally be supposed the fugitives had taken. In doing this, also, he kept close under the bank which would most conceal the canoes from those who approached it on its southern side.
It will be remembered that the trees for the palisades had been cut from a swamp, a short distance above the bee-hunter's residence. They had grown on the margin of the river, which had been found serviceable in floating the logs to their point of destination. The tops of many of these trees, resinuous, and suited by their nature to preserve their leaves for a considerable time, lay partly in the stream and partly on its banks; and Pigeonswing, foreseeing the necessity of having a place of refuge, had made so artful a disposition of several of them, that, while they preserved all the appearance of still lying where they had fallen, it was possible to haul canoes up beneath them, between the branches and the bank, in a way to form a place of perfect concealment. No Indian would have trusted to such a hiding-place, had it not been matter of notoriety that the trees had been felled for a particular purpose, or had their accidental disposition along the bank been discernibly deranged. But such was not the case, the hand of Pigeonswing having been so skilfully employed that what he had done could not be detected. He might be said to have assisted nature, instead of disturbing her.
The canoes were actually paddling close under the bank, in the Castle Meal reach of the river, when the band arrived at the grove, and commenced what might be called the investment of the place. Had not all the attention of the savages been drawn toward the hut, it is probable that some wandering eye might have caught a glimpse of some one of them, as inequalities in the bank momentarily exposed each, in succession, to view. This danger, however, passed away, and by turning a point, the fugitives were effectually concealed from all who did not actually approach the river at that particular point. Here it was, however, that the swamp commenced, and the ground being wet and difficult, no one would be likely to do this. The stream flowed through this swamp, having a dense wood on each side, though one of no great extent. The reach, moreover, was short, making a completely sheltered haven of the Kalamazoo, within its limits.
Once in this wooded reach, Peter tossed an arm, and assumed an air of greater security. He felt infinitely relieved, and knew that they were safe, for a time, unless some wanderer should have taken to the swamp--a most improbable thing of itself. When high enough, he led the way across the stream, and entering below, he soon had all the canoes in their place of concealment.
"Dis good place," observed the great chief, as soon as all were fast; "bess take care, dough. Bess not make track too much on land; Injin got sharp eye, and see ebbery t'ing. Now, I go and talk wid chief. Come back by-'em-by. You stay here. Good-bye."
"Stop, Peter--one word before we part. If you see Parson Amen, or the corporal, it might be well to tell them where we are to be found. They would be glad to know."
Peter looked grave; even sad. He did not answer for fully a minute. When he did, it was in a low, suppressed voice, such as one is apt to use when there is a weight felt on his mind.
"Nebber know any t'ing ag'in," returned the chief. "Both dem pale- face dead."
"Dead!" echoed all within hearing.
"Juss so; Injin kill him. Mean to kill you, too--dat why I run away. Saw medicine-priest die. What you t'ink, Blossom?--What you t'ink, Bourdon?--Dat man die asking Great Spirit to do good to Injin!"
"I can believe it, Peter, for he was a good man, and such are our Christian laws, though few of us obey them. I can easily believe that Parson Amen was an exception, however."
"Yes, Peter, such are our Christian laws," put in Margery, earnestly. "When Christ, the Son of God, came on earth to redeem lost men, he commanded his followers to do good to them that did evil to us, and to pray for them that tried to harm us. We have his very words, written in our bibles."
"You got him?" said Peter, with interest. "See you read him, of'en. Got dat book here?"
"To be sure I have--it is the last thing I should have forgotten. Dolly has one, and I have another; we read in them every day, and we hope that, before long, brother and Bourdon will read in them, too."
"Why, I'm no great scholar, Margery," returned her husband, scratching his full, curling head of hair, out of pure awkwardness; "to please you, however, I'd undertake even a harder job. It was so with the bees, when I began; I thought I should never succeed in lining the first bee to his hive; but, since that time, I think I've lined a thousand!"
"It's easy, it's easy, dear Benjamin, if you will only make a beginning," returned the much interested young wife. "When we get to a place of safety, if it be God's will that we ever shall, I hope to have you join me in reading the good book, daily. See, Peter, I keep it in this little bag, where it is safe, and always at hand."
"You read dem word for me, Blossom: I want to hear him, out of dis book, himself."
Margery did as he desired. She was very familiar with the New Testament, and, turning to the well-known and God-like passage, she read several verses, in a steady, earnest voice. Perhaps the danger they were in, and the recent communication of the death of their late companions, increased her earnestness and solemnity of manner, for the effect produced on Peter was scarcely less than that he had felt when he witnessed a practical obedience to these sublime principles, in the death of the missionary. Tears actually started to this stern savage's eyes, and he looked back on his late projects and endeavors to immolate a whole race with a shudder. Taking Margery's hand, he courteously thanked her, and prepared to quit the place. Previously to leaving his friends, however, Peter gave a brief account of the manner of the missionary's death, and of the state in which he had left the corporal. Pigeonswing had told him of the fate of the last, as well as of the eagerness with which the band had set out in quest of more white scalps.
"Peter, we can count on you for a friend, I hope?" said the bee- hunter, as the two were about to part, on the bank of the river. "I fear you were, once, our enemy!"
"Bourdon," said Peter, with dignity, and speaking in the language of his own people, "listen. There are Good Spirits, and there are Bad Spirits. Our traditions tell us this. Our own minds tell us this, too. For twenty winters a Bad Spirit has been whispering in my ear. I listened to him; and did what he told me to do. I believed what he said. His words were--'Kill your enemies--scalp all the pale-faces-- do not leave a squaw, or a pappoose. Make all their hearts heavy. This is what an Injin should do.' So has the Bad Spirit been whispering to me, for twenty winters. I listened to him. What he said, I did. It was pleasant to me to take the scalps of the pale- faces. It was pleasant to think that no more scalps would be left among them, to take. I was Scalping Peter.
"Bourdon, the Good Spirit has, at last, made himself heard. His whisper is so low, that at first my ears did not hear him. They hear him now. When he spoke loudest, it was with the tongue of the medicine-priest of your people. He was about to die. When we are about to die, our voices become strong and clear. So do our eyes. We see what is before, and we see what is behind. We feel joy for what is before--we feel sorrow for what is behind. Your medicine-priest spoke well. It sounded in my ears as if the Great Spirit, himself, was talking. They say it was his Son. I believe them. Blossom has read to me out of the good book of your people, and I find it is so. I feel like a child, and could sit down, in my wigwam, and weep.
"Bourdon, you are a pale-face, and I am an Injin. You are strong, and I am weak. This is because the Son of the Great Spirit has talked with your people, and has not talked with mine. I now see why the pale-faces overrun the earth and take the hunting-grounds. They know most, and have been told to come here, and to tell what they know to the poor ignorant Injins. I hope my people will listen. What the Son of the Great Spirit says must be true. He does not know how to do wrong.
"Bourdon, once it seemed sweet to me to take the scalps of my enemies. When an Injin did me harm, I took his scalp. This was my way. I could not help it, then. The Wicked Spirit told me to do this. The Son of the Manitou has now told me better. I have lived under a cloud. The breath of the dying medicine-priest of your people has blown away that cloud. I see clearer. I hear him telling the Manitou to do me good, though I wanted his scalp. He was answered in my heart. Then my ears opened wider, and I heard what the Good Spirit whispered. The ear in which the Bad Spirit had been talking for twenty winters shut, and was deaf. I hear him no more. I do not want to hear him again. The whisper of the Son of the Manitou is very pleasant to me. It sounds like the wren singing his sweetest song. I hope he will always whisper so. My ear shall never again be shut to his words.
"Bourdon, it is pleasant to me to look forward. It is not pleasant to me to look back. I see how many things I have done in one way, that ought to have been done in another way. I feel sorry, and wish it had not been so. Then I hear the Son of the Manitou asking His Father, who liveth above the clouds, to do good to the Jews who took his life. I do not think Injins are Jews. In this, my brother was wrong. It was his own notion, and it is easy for a man to think wrong. It is not so with the Son of the Manitou. He thinketh always as His Father thinketh, which is right.
"Bourdon, I am no longer Peter--I must be another Injin. I do not feel the same. A scalp is a terrible thing in my eyes--I wish never to take another--never to see another--a scalp is a bad thing. I now love the Yankees. I wish to do them good, and not to do them harm. I love most the Great Spirit, that let his own Son die for all men. The medicine-priest said he died for Injins, as well as for pale- faces. This we did not know, or we should have talked of him more in our traditions. We love to talk of good acts. But we are such ignorant Injins! The Son of the Manitou will have pity on us, and tell us oftener what we ought to do. In time, we shall learn. Now, I feel like a child: I hope I shall one day be a man."
Having made this "confession of faith," one that would have done credit to a Christian church, Peter shook the bee-hunter kindly by the hand, and took his departure. He did not walk into the swamp, though it was practicable with sufficient care, but he stepped into the river, and followed its margin, knowing that "water leaves no trail." Nor did Peter follow the direct route toward the now blazing hut, the smoke from which was rising high above the trees, but he ascended the stream, until reaching a favorable spot, he threw aside all of his light dress, made it into a bundle, and swam across the Kalamazoo, holding his clothes above the element with one hand. On reaching the opposite shore, he moved on to the upper margin of the swamp, where he resumed his clothes. Then he issued into the Openings, carrying neither rifle, bow, tomahawk, nor knife. All his weapons he had left in his canoe, fearful that they might tempt him to do evil, instead of good, to his enemies. Neither Bear's Meat, nor Bough of the Oak, was yet regarded by Peter with the eye of love. He tried not to hate them, and this he found sufficiently difficult; conscious of this difficulty, he had laid aside his arms, accordingly. This mighty change had been gradually in progress, ever since the chief's close communication with Margery, but it had received its consummation in the last acts, and last words, of the missionary!
Having got out into the Openings, it was not difficult for Peter to join his late companions without attracting observation from whence he came. He kept as much under cover as was convenient, and reached the kitchen, just as the band broke into the defences, and burst open the door of the blazing and already roofless hut. Here Peter paused, unwilling to seem inactive in such a scene, yet averse to doing anything that a sensitively tender conscience might tell him was wrong. He knew there was no human being there to save, and cared little for the few effects that might be destroyed. He did not join the crowd, therefore, until it was ascertained that the bee-hunter and his companions had escaped.
"The pale-faces have fled," said Bear's Meat to the great chief, when the last did approach him. "We have looked for their bones among the ashes, but there are none. That medicine-bee-hunter has told them that their scalps were wanted, and they have gone off!"
"Have any of the young men been down to the river, to look for their canoes?" quietly demanded Peter. "If the canoes are gone, too, they have taken the route toward the Great Lake."
This was so obvious and probable, that a search was immediately set on foot. The report was soon made, and great was the eagerness to pursue. The Kalamazoo was so crooked, that no one there doubted of overtaking the fugitives, and parties were immediately organized for the chase. This was done with the customary intelligence and shrewdness of Indians. The canoes that belonged to Crowsfeather and his band had been brought up the river, and they lay concealed in rushes, not a mile from the hut. A party of warriors brought them to the landing, and they carried one division of the party to the opposite shore, it being the plan to follow each bank of the river, keeping close to the stream, even to its mouth, should it prove necessary. Two other parties were sent in direct lines, one on each side of the river, also, to lay in ambush at such distant points, ahead, as would be almost certain to anticipate the arrival of the fugitives. The canoes were sent down the stream, to close the net against return, while Bear's Meat, Bough of the Oak, Crowsfeather, and several others of the leading chiefs, remained near the still burning hut, with a strong party, to examine the surrounding Openings for foot-prints and trails. It was possible that the canoes had been sent adrift, in order to mislead them, while the pale-faces had fled by land.
It has been stated that the Openings had a beautiful sward, near Castle Meal, This was true of that particular spot, and was the reason why le Bourdon had selected it for his principal place of residence. The abundance of flowers drew the bees there, a reason of itself why he should like the vicinity. Lest the reader should be misled, however, it may be well to explain that an absence of sward is characteristic of these Openings, rather than the reverse, it being, to a certain degree, a cause of complaint, now that the country is settled, that the lands of the Oak Openings are apt to be so light that the grasses do not readily form as firm a turf as is desirable for meadows and pastures. We apprehend this is true, however, less as a rule than as exceptions; there being variety in the soils of these Openings, as well as in other quarters.
Nevertheless, the savages were aware that the country around the burned hut, for a considerable extent, differed, in this particular, from most of that which lay farther east, or more inland. On the last a trail would be much more easily detected than on the first, and a party, under the direction of a particularly experienced leader, was dispatched several miles to the eastward, to look for the usual signs of the passage of any toward Detroit, taking that route. This last expedient troubled Peter exceedingly, since it placed a body of enemies in the rear of the fugitives; thereby rendering their position doubly perilous. There was no help for the difficulty, however; and the great chief saw the party depart without venturing on remonstrance, advice, or any other expedient to arrest the movement. Bear's Meat now called the head chiefs, who remained, into a circle, and asked for opinions concerning the course that ought next to be taken.
"What does my brother, the tribeless chief, say?" he asked, looking at Peter, in a way to denote the expectation which all felt, that he ought to be able to give useful counsel in such a strait. "We have got but two scalps from six heads; and one of them is buried with the medicine-priest."
"Scalps cannot be taken from them that get off," returned Peter, evasively. "We must first catch these pale-faces. When they are found it will be easy to scalp them. If the canoes are gone, I think the medicine-bee-hunter and his squaws have gone in them. We may find the whole down the river."
To this opinion most of the chiefs assented, though the course of examining for a trail farther east was still approved. The band was so strong, while the pale-faces were so few, that a distribution of their own force was of no consequence, and it was clearly the most prudent to send out young men in all directions. Every one, however, expected that the fugitives would be overtaken on, or near, the river, and Bear's Meat suggested the propriety of their moving down stream, themselves, very shortly.
"When did my brother last see the pale-faces?" asked Crowsfeather. "This bee-hunter knows the river well, and may have started yesterday; or even after he came from the Great Council of the Prairie."
This was a new idea, but one that seemed probable enough. All eyes turned toward Peter, who saw, at once, that such a notion must greatly favor the security of the fugitives, and felt a strong desire to encourage it. He found evasion difficult, however, and well knew the danger of committing himself. Instead of giving a straightforward answer, therefore, he had recourse to circumlocution and subterfuge.
"My brother is right," he answered. "The pale-faces have had time to get far down the stream. As my brothers know, I slept among them at the Round Prairie. To-day, they know I was with them at the council of the spring of gushing waters."
All this was true, as far as it went, although the omissions were very material. No one seemed to suspect the great chief, whose fidelity to his own principles was believed to be of a character amounting to enthusiasm. Little did any there know of the power of the unseen Spirit of God to alter the heart, producing what religionists term the new birth. We do not wish, however, to be understood that Peter had, as yet, fully experienced this vast change. It is not often the work of a moment, though well- authenticated modern instances do exist, in which we have every reason to believe that men have been made to see and feel the truth almost as miraculously as was St. Paul himself. As for this extraordinary savage, he had entered into the strait and narrow way, though he was not far advanced on its difficult path.
When men tell us of the great progress that the race is making toward perfection, and point to the acts which denote its wisdom, its power to control its own affairs, its tendencies toward good when most left to its own self-control, our minds are filled with scepticism. The every-day experience of a life now fast verging toward threescore, contradicts the theory and the facts. We believe not in the possibility of man's becoming even a strictly rational being, unaided by a power from on high; and all that we have seen and read goes to convince us that he is most of a philosopher, the most accurate judge of his real state, the most truly learned, who most vividly sees the necessity of falling back on the precepts of revelation for all his higher principles and practice. We conceive that this mighty truth furnishes unanswerable proof of the unceasing agency of a Providence, and when we once admit this, we concede that our own powers are insufficient for our own wants.
That the world, as a whole, is advancing toward a better state of things, we as firmly believe as we do that it is by ways that have not been foreseen by man; and that, whenever the last has been made the agent of producing portions of this improvement, it has oftener been without design, or calculation, than with it. Who, for instance, supposes that the institutions of this country, of which we boast so much, could have stood as long as they have, without the conservative principles that are to be found in the Union; and who is there so vain as to ascribe the overshadowing influence of this last great power to any wisdom in man? We all know that perfectly fortuitous circumstances, or what appear to us to be such, produced the Federal Government, and that its strongest and least exceptionable features are precisely those which could not be withstood, much less invented, as parts of the theory of a polity.
A great and spasmodic political movement is, at this moment, convulsing Christendom. That good will come of it, we think is beyond a question; but we greatly doubt whether it will come in the particular form, or by the specified agencies, that human calculations would lead us to expect. It must be admitted that the previous preparations, which have induced the present effort, are rather in opposition to, than the consequences of, calculated agencies; overturning in their progress the very safeguards which the sagacity of men had interposed to the advance of those very opinions that have been silently, and by means that would perhaps baffle inquiry, preparing the way for the results that have been so suddenly and unexpectedly obtained. If the course is onward, it is more as the will of God, than from any calculations of man; and it is when the last are the most active, that there is the greatest reason to apprehend the consequences.
Of such a dispensation of the Providence of Almighty God, do we believe Peter to have been the subject. Among the thousand ways that are employed to touch the heart, he had been most affected by the sight of a dying man's asking benedictions on his enemies! It was assailing his besetting sin; attacking the very citadel of his savage character, and throwing open, at once, an approach into the deepest recesses of his habits and dispositions. It was like placing a master-key in the hands of him who would go through the whole tenement, for the purpose of purifying it.