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A Story

"Why," she replied, "the matter with me is that I can't quite bring myself to agree with what you said today in your sermon. It doesn't seem right to say that so many sinners will be condemned to everlasting fire forever. Forever! Ah, how long! I'm only a poor sinful creature myself, but I can't believe in my heart that even the vilest sinner will be condemned to burn in torment forever! We know the mercy of the Almighty is as great as His power; He knows how people are tempted from without and within by their own evil natures. No, I do not believe it, even if you said so."

It was autumn, the trees scattering their leaves on the ground, and the severe but earnest preacher sat beside the bed of a dying person. A faithful soul closed her eyes forever; it was the preacher's wife.

"If anyone can find peace and rest in the grave, through God's mercy, it is you!" sighed the preacher, as he folded her hands and read a psalm over the dead woman.

She was laid in her grave. Two large tears rolled down the cheeks of the sincere man, and in the parsonage everything seemed so empty and still. The sunshine of his home had vanished, for she had gone.

It was night, and a cold wind blew over the head of the preacher. He opened his eyes and it seemed to him that the moon was shining into the room, but there was no moonlight. A figure stood beside his bed, and the spirit of his deceased wife shone upon him. Earnestly and sadly she looked at him, as if she had something on her mind that she wanted to say to him.

He half raised himself in bed, stretched out his arms to her, and cried, "Then even you aren't permitted to rest in peace forever? Must you suffer, too? You, the best, the most pious!"

The dead bowed her head as if to say "yes," and laid her hand on her heart.

"And can I give you peace in the grave?" he asked.

"Yes," was the distinct reply.

"And how?"

"Bring me a hair, just one single hair, from the head of just one sinner whom God will condemn to eternal torture in hell.

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