The Story Of Chelonis; or, The Meaning Of Intercession
by John Dickie
A STORY, if you please, mamma," said little Maggie Dunsmore; "you promised to tell us a story, if we should be good till you came back; and please, mamma, let it be a nice story."
"But were you good all the time that I was away?" asked momma.
"O yes, mamma we were all good, very good, I am sure."
"Well, I scarcely think that it is the best sign of a good child, to be so sure of her own goodness. You know that a good man, Maggie, is ready rather to confess that he is very bad. Isn't he, dear?"
"But ma, you asked if we were good, and should I not tell you the truth! You wouldn't like me to say that we were bad when we weren't."
"Clearly not, my dear; always tell the truth. I should be sorry to hear my little pets say that they were very bad, if they did not think it. Now, what story shall tell you?"
"Any story you please, but let it be a very nice one, mamma."
"There are no stories so beautiful as the dear Bible stories; but you already know a little of the most of them, so I shall tell you to-day a nice story that I was reading this morning."
"Oh Willie, come here fast," cried Maggie, "for mamma is going to tell us a beautiful new story—and just now."
It was not many seconds till Willie was in the middle of the group; and then his mamma began.
"But I fear," she said, "that you will not remember the strange old names; let me see if you can. There was a lady, long ago, called Chelonis, and her husband's name was Cleombrotus, and her father was Leonidas, King of Sparta. Now, Jane, let me see if you remember the name of the king."
"Leonidas," said modest little Jane.
"And he was king of----where was it, Willie?"
"King of Sparta," answered Willie.
"And what was the name of the lady, his daughter?"
"Oh, I remember that, it was Chelonis," said Maggie.
"Yes it was; and her husband's name was—what?" But neither Maggie, nor Jane, nor Willie could tell.
"It was Cle-om-brot-us," suggested mamma.
"Oh yes, Cleombrotus, Cleombrotus, Cleombrotus," said they all in a breath, to fix it in their memories.
"Well, then, old King Leonidas had reason to fear that some of the great men in the state were plotting against him, so he fled for safety to a temple. His son-in-law—but what was his name?"
''Cleombrotus," said Maggie readily.
"Yes; Cleombrotus, caring nothing for his old father-in-law, seized on the throne, and became king in his stead. Now, how did his wife act, do you think? You remember that she was the daughter of the old king."
"Perhaps she lived in the palace as the new queen," jested Maggie; "did she mamma?"
"No indeed," said mamma; "but she put off her fine dress, and clothed herself in mourning, as if something very dreadful had happened; and while her husband, was enjoying his stolen honours, she went to her old father, to weep along with him, and to comfort him with her love."
"Good Chelonis, that was very nice; I like her for doing so," interjected Maggie, always ready to speak her mind.
"In a little while," continued mamma, "his old friends rallied round Leonidas, and he was able to resume his kingly power. When he left the temple to return to his old home, Cleombrotus, afraid lest he should be put to death for his crime, fled from the throne to take shelter in the temple."
"And what did Chelonis do? I like to hear about her," asked Maggie.
"Yes; it is chiefly about Chelonis that I want to tell you," said mamma. "Well, then, she left her father, happy in the enjoyment of his old dignities, to seek her miserable husband in the temple. And so, when the old king came to upbraid his son-in-law with his treason, he found him sitting on the ground sorrowful and silent, with his wife sitting beside him, still dressed in the deepest mourning, and having her hair hanging in disorder round her shoulders, like a person in the extremity of despair."
"The wicked man; she should have left him alone, and never spoken to him again; I don't like him at all," said lively little Maggie.
"But you forget," said mamma, "that he was her husband, and that it was her duty and her pleasure to be with him, and to share his troubles. You know how dearly she must have loved both her father and her husband. So when her father was speaking so angrily, and her husband was sitting so silent, she looked up through her tears, and said, 'Father, I did not put on this mourning for my husband, but for you; and my sorrow began, not with weeping for my husband, but for you. My husband's conduct has been very bad, and you have reason to be very angry with him; but then you cannot punish him without punishing me also, for he and I are one. If, then, my father, you love me, and wish me to share your happiness now, as I have shared your sorrow, you must pardon my husband, for I cannot be happy until he is forgiven. And if my love to you in your sorrow has given you any comfort, let it plead for my husband; and if you now mean to give it a reward, let the reward be his life.' The old king was. so moved with her affectionate words, that for the sake of his daughter he spared the life of her husband, though he gave him a milder punishment. Now, what do you think of Chelonis?"
"Oh, mamma, I like her very much," said Maggie; "don't you like her, Jane?"
"Well, my dears, I like her too," said mamma; "but while I was reading her story, I could not help thinking of another, and a far more beautiful story of love. I wonder if my little pets have any remembrance of the story that I mean. Have you Willie, or Jane, or Maggie?" But no one of them had had any thought suggested by the story.
"Does it not remind you," continued mamma, "of the wonderful love of the Lord Jesus, though it comes far, far behind it? You know that when we had rebelled against his Father, and had acted very wickedly indeed, He, the Holy One, took his Father's part; and all the time he was in the world among us wicked men, he took his Father's part. He laid down even his life to please his Heavenly Father. And now, when any sinner sees his guiltiness and his danger, and desires to be forgiven, the great and good Lord Jesus can secure forgiveness for him. He can say, 'My Father, this soul has sinned greatly against thee, and deserves nothing but thine anger forever; but he has accepted me to be his Saviour, and now, I pray thee to forgive him all his sins for my sake. He is one of my sheep which I died for; and if thou wert to punish him now, it would be like punishing me. My Father, wilt thou not reward me for my obedience, by pardoning him for my sake, and by counting him to be one of thy children?'"
"And does the Lord Jesus say all this every time, that a sinner is pardoned, mamma ?"
"I do not mean you to think that he says these very words at all; I only wish you to understand that the nature of the great work of intercession is something of this kind."
"And is that the meaning of intercession? I never knew the meaning of it before," said Maggie.
"Yes, that is intercession," replied mamma. "When Chelonis asked her father to forgive her husband for her sake merely, that was intercession; and it is sufficiently like the glorious intercession of the great Lord Jesus, to help you to understand what is meant by the word. Only, I wish you to remember that the love and the worthiness of the Lord Jesus are so far above all that the tongue of man could speak, or the heart of angel think, that there is a danger of degrading it by comparisons. You see that the fire is nearly out, for the weather is growing warm now, and I can see only one little spot of red coal in the grate. Now, if Willie will put his finger near enough to the coal, he will feel a little heat, quite enough indeed, to help a person to understand what heat means, if he happens not to know; but yet, no one would think of comparing that little spot of red coal with God's great blazing fire in the sky, which gives plenty of light and heat to many worlds. And there is a far greater difference between the warmest human love, and the holy love of Jesus, than there is between the little glowing cinder and the glorious sun. I have therefore told you this little story of Chelonis, not to compare her love with the love of the great Redeemer, but only wishing that you should understand what 'intercession' means.
"Now you may speak about it among yourselves for a little, and if you like, perhaps we may have another talk over it at some other time."