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.
"Arrogance," said the dead wife. "Do you see him?"
"Him!" replied the preacher. "Yes, but this man is only a fool and a simpleton. He'll not be condemned to everlasting fire or eternal torment."
"The madman is raging again!" everyone cried. Then the other criminals threw themselves on him, wrestled with him, bent his body down until his head was forced between his legs, and then bound him so tightly that the blood seemed about to burst from his eyes and his pores.
"You're killing him!" cried the preacher, and stretched his protecting hand over the sinner who had already suffered severely.
Then the scene changed. Unseen they glided through rich homes, as well as through the huts of the poor. Wantonness and envy, and all the deadly sins, passed before them.
An angel from the judgment seat appeared, to read to each of them their sins and their excuses. These excuses meant little to God, for He reads the hearts; He knows every hidden sin that dwells there; He knows the temptations that are before us in the outer world as well as in our own hearts, and knows when to show mercy and pitying love.
The preacher's hand trembled, and now he dared not stretch it out to pluck a single hair from the head of any sinner. Tears streamed from his eyes as he thought of the fountain of mercy and love, which can quench even the everlasting fire of hell.
And then the cock crowed!
"All-merciful God, I pray Thee grant her that peace in the grave which I have not been able to produce for her!"
"I have it now," said the dead wife. "It was your hard words and your gloomy belief in God and His creatures that drove me to you. Learn to know mankind. Even the soul of the wicked is a part of God Himself, a part that will conquer and extinguish even hell-fire forever."
The preacher felt a kiss upon his lips, and a light streamed about him. God's bright sunshine shone into the room, and his living wife stood beside him, tender and loving. She had awakened him from a dream sent him by God.