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Through all the six long weeks of her mother's illness at Fairview Evelyn had been a most devoted, tender nurse, scarcely leaving the sick room for an hour by day or by night. She bore up wonderfully until all was over and the worn-out body laid to rest in the quiet grave; but then came the reaction; strength and energy seemed suddenly to forsake her, and thin, pale, sad, and heavy-eyed, she was but the shadow of her former self.
Change of air and scene was the doctor's prescription. She was very reluctant to leave home and friends for a sojourn in new scenes and among strangers, but receiving an urgent invitation from Captain and Mrs. Raymond to spend some weeks at Woodburn with her loved friend Lucilla, and finding that her uncle and aunt--Dr. Conly also--highly approved, she gladly accepted; all the more so because she had learned that Grandma Elsie too, whom she loved even better than ever for her kindness to the dear departed, was about to spend some days or weeks with her daughter Violet. That was an added attraction to what Evelyn esteemed one of the most delightful places, and inhabited by the dearest, kindest, most lovable people anywhere to be found.
She was most heartily welcomed by the entire family, Lucilla and Grace being particularly joyful over her arrival.
It was delightful spring weather, and family and guests, older and younger, spent much of the time in the beautiful grounds or in driving and riding about the country.
The captain pronounced Eva hardly in a fit condition for study, and for her sake required his daughters Lucilla and Grace to pass only an hour or two daily in the schoolroom; so that they were able to give to Eva as much of their society as he considered desirable for her under the circumstances--seeing that she needed a good deal of quiet rest and sleep in order to regain the youthful vigour she had lost during the exhausting nursing of her invalid mother.
His kindness was highly appreciated by all three, and under its benign influence Eva made rapid improvement in health and spirits, enjoying every day of her sojourn at Woodburn, the Sabbath even more than any other, especially the afternoon study of the Bible in which all took part, from Grandma Elsie and Captain Raymond down to little Ned.
The subject chosen for the first lesson after Eva's coming was the resurrection, probably selected especially for Eva's comfort in her sorrow over her mother's recent departure, to be with her no more in this life.
"Mother," the captain said, addressing Grandma Elsie, when they were all seated, each with a Bible in hand, "as you are somewhat older and certainly much wiser than I--especially as regards spiritual things--will you not take the lead to-day?"
"Older I certainly am," returned Mrs. Travilla, with her own sweet smile, "but I think not wiser than yourself, captain; and certainly I have not made the preparation for this occasion which doubtless you have. So please lead the exercises just as you would if I were not present."
"You would prefer my doing so?" he asked.
"Very much," she replied. "The resurrection is the subject?"
"Yes; and what a glorious one! how full of comfort for all who believe in Christ! 'For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my death my body is destroyed, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold, and not another,' said the patriarch Job; comforting himself in his affliction with that blessed prospect. The doctrine of a general resurrection is expressly taught in both the Old Testament and the New, and I think we cannot spend our lesson hour more profitably than in looking up the texts on the subject. Can you give us one, mother?"
At that Grandma Elsie opened her Bible.
"Beginning with the Old Testament," she said, "here in Psalms xlix. 15 we read: 'But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.' Then here in Isaiah; 'Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.'"
Then Violet, sitting next, read from her open Bible: "'The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, saying, Master, Moses said, if a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: likewise the second also, and the third unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.'"
Eva's turn came next and she read: "'And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.'"
Then Lucilla: "'Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.'"
"Will the resurrection be of all the dead, Grace? the wicked as well as the righteous?" asked her father.
"Yes, papa," she answered; then read aloud: "'Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.'"
It was little Elsie's turn and she read a verse in Acts pointed out by her mother: "'And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.'"
It was Ned's turn now and he read a passage selected for him by his mother: "'For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.'"
It was the captain's turn again and he went on with the reading: "'Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised, and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.'"
"Yes," said Grandma Elsie, "we needed a divine Saviour, and Christ's resurrection proved his divinity; as Paul tells us here in the first chapter of Romans, 'And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.' Peter too teaches us that the resurrection of Christ was necessary to our salvation. It seems plainly taught in this verse of the fifth chapter of his first Epistle. 'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.'"
"Yes," said Violet, "Jesus said to his disciples, 'Because I live, ye shall live also.' His resurrection is surely the pledge and assurance of that of his people."
"Papa, does everybody have to die?" asked little Ned.
"Everybody except those who are alive when Jesus comes again, as he will some day in the clouds of heaven. This is what the Apostle Paul tells us about it in the letter he wrote to the Thessalonians. 'Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.'"
"'Wherefore comfort one another with these words,'" added Evelyn softly, finishing the quotation; "and oh, what a comfort it is!"
"There could be none greater," said Grandma Elsie. "Think of being reunited with all the dear ones gone before, and in the immediate presence of Jesus; never again to be parted from them or him or to know sin or sorrow or pain. Oh, what joy to be permitted to look upon the face of our Redeemer, to kneel at his feet, to hear his voice speaking to each one of us. 'Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold and not another.'"
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