Such Pity as a Father Hath.

A House-Surgeon’s Story.

There’s a verse in the Psalms, or a bit of a verse, it’s one that I’ve often heard1
But a hospital ward is a wonderful place for seeing the truth of His word ;2
Why, each case that’s brought in is a living proof, that cannot be argued away,3
Of some word that the Lord has spoken, the “ same yesterday and to-day.”4
Such pity as a father hath”—so stand the words of the Psalm5
In our Scotch metre version ; the sweet words fall on the weary heart like balm ;6
And I’ve learned this week, in this very ward, from the love of a father down here,7
That our Father in heaven “ like pity shows, unto His children dear.”8
He was an old man, a farmer from Fife, hale and hearty, at three score and ten,9
With clear grey eyes, and a look that said he could hold his own among men ;10
But you saw that “ his own” would be always the good, or, at least, the honest and true ;11
He was one of Wordsworth’s “ religious men, who give God and man their due.”12
Very narrow, you say, no breadth of view, an old-fashioned, prejudiced soul,13
Left far behind in the march of thought—well, perhaps you’re right, on the whole ;14
But, though we’ve advanced so far ahead, still to men like these is given15
Enough “ light and leading” to find out Christ, and to follow His steps to heaven.16
His case was a bad one—his arm had been caught and torn in a threshing mill ;17
He had borne the pain with a quiet strength—the strength of a disciplined will,18
That can say its “ Amen,” not to prayers alone, but to all that God sends its way.19
So his brave, calm spirit had helped his cure—he was going home the next day.20
That last night he talked of his home in Fife, a bleak little farm by the sea,21
And of Aillie his wife, and his good bairn Jean, the only one left out of three :22
One lad had been drown’d, when the storm wrecked his boat on the rocks in St. Andrew’s Bay,23
And his brother ”— a pause—then, in broken tones, “ he grew restless, and went away.”24
Oh, gentle words from the brave stricken heart !  I could read the story plain25
The old, old story we read in St. Luke, it had all come true again ;26
And I saw, by the light in the old man’s eyes, that if only this son would come,27
This father would see him a “ great way off,” and meet him, and bring him home.28
It was evening now, and the setting sun was filling the ward with light,29
lt shone on the beds where the sick ones lay, and seemed to whisper “ good-night” ;30
As I bade farewell to the good old man I was thinking of what I had heard,31
And I said as we parted, “ It may be the Lord will grant you your hope deferred.”32
As I passed to my room, there came into my mind a promise I’d made that day33
To one of the patients, to write to his friends, and I knew that I should not delay ;34
He had drifted in through our merciful gates, like a bit of wreck on the shore ;35
He had gone on the rocks, in his voyage of life, they had bruised him, and wounded him sore.36
He lay quite still, as I stood by his bed—and I thought I would let him rest ;37
His eyes were closed, and his feeble hands were folded upon his breast ;38
And I thought, as I looked at the wasted form and the face with its traces of sin,39
Of the thief on the cross, who had knocked so late at God’s door, and been welcomed in.40
I was turning to go, when he opened his eyes, and, oh, they were sunken and dim !41
And slowly there seemed to come back to his mind the promise I’d made to him ;42
For his pale cheek flushed, and with panting breath, “ You’ll write to my people at home,43
And say that I’m dying, and will they forgive—and oh, if my mother would come——”44
His eyes turned to the door, then a quick sudden gleam shone out of them—what did he see ?45
I looked round, and there stood the old farmer from Fife ; he seemed looking for someone—
for me,
For, as soon as I turned, he caught sight of my face, and came straight to the foot of the bed ;47
There he stood, as if spell bound, and gazed on the face that was white as the face of the dead.48
And I saw, as he gazed, how the look grew intense and keen, and a sudden pain,49
A terrible conflict of anguish and doubt, seemed surging through heart and brain ;50
Then the dying man, who had closed his eyes, as if done with the life we live,51
Opened them gently, stretched out his arms, and murmured, “ Father, forgive !”52
Oh, David, my son,” from the pale lips rang, the “ exceeding bitter cry,”53
As he knelt by the bed, held the dying hands, and looked in the dying eye ;54
And the sound of the wings of the angel of death seemed all of a sudden to cease,55
Till the angels of penitence, pardon, and love should whisper “ Depart in peace.”56
I left them alone, and came back at the dawn ; the old man still knelt by the bed,57
The worn hands were clasped, and the lips moved in pray’r, as he looked on the, face that
was dead ;
When I knelt at his side, he quietly spoke, and gladness was mixed with the pain,59
My David was dead, but now he’s alive ; he was lost, but is found again.”60