Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Count Julian; or, The Last Days of the Goth >> Chapter VI >> Page 98

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Novel (Romance) | William Taylor & Co. | 1845 - 1846
Transcription 98 COUNT JULIAN; OR,
rend the body with their powers of torture, but the soul—the soul, my son—that smiles at the sacrifice, and rejoices at the place of human punishment, as at a sure token of eternal reward. Their revenge is the revenge of virtue ; and that consists in the great final triumph of the truth. If they rejoice to behold the tyrant writhing in the unquenchable flame, which his own hellish heart bath kindled, it is not because they would witness his suffering—except that in his suffering the truth proves itself triumphant and makes itself secure. This holy man had no purpose in his effort to destroy Roderick, except to rescue the church, and to vindicate the superiority of God. He strove not, as thou idly thinkest, to revenge a personal wrong, and to appease a merely human feeling. He hath been commissioned for higher objects, and by a higher power; and the justification which thou wouldst make for him, in the deed which he aimed at, is only truly human, as it derived its perfect sanction from the countenance and direction of God. There is no justification for crime, unless such justification come from the express will of Heaven ; and man may shed no blood, and take no life, unless it be for the salvation of Holy Church, and for the protection of that sacred principle of truth, which is beyond all value, which the recklessness of the tyrant who should be cut off, would otherwise endanger. Look, then, upon this holy messenger in his proper light, Guisenard, ere thou suffer from the anger of the Lord, with him against whom the decree hath gone forth. I see it written In letters of fire upon the wall Roderick is devoted ! ' I hear it spoken in tones of thunder ! Now, even now, I hear it ! Hark ! " And he paused, with up-
lifted finger, and looked up, as if listening to some passing sounds. Post thou not
hear ? " he continued.
« No, my father, I hear nothing," replied Guisenard.
Alas, my son ! thou art deaf as well as blind. I tremble for thee, Guisenard, unless the Lord suddenly and of his free grace touch thy senses with a keen perception. Thou seest not the writing which flames before me. Thou hearest not the deep voice which rolls along these thick walls, and says, plainly to my ears—' The wrath of the Lord is on its way, winged with red lightning and confounding thunder. Roderick, thy kingdom is taken from thee ! The Mede is at thy gate—the Persian is on thy throne ! ' I hear these words, and I tremble. Thou hearest not, Guisenard—and Roderick heareth not ; but though ye hear not, ye shall both tremble. I would not have you perish, Guisenard, with this evil-minded and devoted king, for whom the two-edged sword of doom is even now whetted. Provoke not the wrath of the Destroyer, but yield thyself to His will, and let His people go. Say to the prisoner, whom thou hast in bonds—which God will burst in his own good time to thy confusion, if thou heed not the words which I say to thee—say to him,
Depart in peace, and the blessings of God go with thee.' Say to him thus, this night, this hour, my son, if thou wouldst have the blessings of eternal favor upon thy head."" If I would have Roderick take my head, thou surely meanest, holy father. I were but a rash man to risk such danger for any person, however holy and praise-worthy his life, who was not of kin or connexion with me ; and still more to risk the lives of my wife and little one : for, of a surety, the king would devote us all to that fate from which thou wouldst have me release the prisoner."
He would not—he dare not ! " exclaimed the monk, vehemently. " Terribly would the wrath of God avenge thee, my son, upon the head of thy impious murderer ! "
Perhaps, father, perhaps ; but I love not vengeance, and thy own teaching makes it unholy. I would rather not provoke the wrath of Roderick, to my own undoing since the vengeance of the Lord upon him, for the murder of myself and mine;