Chapter 5: Pardon and Peace

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 11
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IT is now thirty-six years since Dona Maria Freitas lived in the town of Therezopolis, some thirty miles from Rio de Janeiro. She was eagerly looking forward to the Bishop’s visit to the town. Her sins were troubling her greatly, and she was terrified at the thought of the great Judgment Day, and the account she would then have to give to God. Not that she had lived a particularly bad life, far from it, for she had spent long hours in “rezas” (forms of prayer), but still she was in despair as to her soul’s welfare. She had for a long time been in the habit of spending an hour a day in “rezas,” but without getting any relief, but rather growing worse, so for the year previous to the bishop’s visit she had doubled the length of time in these exercises. She also believed that, not only had she to give an account of every sin, but also of every hair of her head, and was at her wit’s end to know how it was to be done. She had hopes of getting rid of her sins by prayers, and confession to the priest, but had no certainty of peace whatever. She had made up her mind to try at all costs to get a special interview with the bishop, and perhaps his absolution might be more efficacious than that of the parish priest. It so happened, however, that before the bishop’s visit, her sister Adelaide came up from Rio to see her. This sister had been attending some Gospel meetings in the city, and had been converted thereby, and wished to break the news to her sister Maria, but greatly feared for the result, knowing that her sister was so much attached to her own religion. At last she told her that she had made a great discovery, that the Roman Catholic religion was all wrong, and that the truth was to be found only in the Holy Bible, a Book which told all about the Lord Jesus Christ, and His death upon the cross to save sinners, and explained how one could obtain the knowledge of the forgiveness of sins. Maria was greatly startled, and a sudden gleam of hope came into her soul. Perhaps this book could solve all her spiritual difficulties and give her rest from her distress of soul? She had once seen a Bible some time before on the table of a house that she happened to visit. She had opened it and read HOLY BIBLE, OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. She had heard, however, that anyone who once began to read this Book had to read it right through under pain of Coming Judgment. Realizing that she could not read through the whole Book in a short time, she had closed it with a sigh. When, therefore, her sister advised her to read the Bible, she determined to do so without delay. It so happened that some miles away there lived an old black man who had been a slave. Years before he had been given the duty of cleaning out an old cellar for his master, and there found a large Bible thrown away. This he had carried off with him and guarded carefully. He had tried to read it, but was so ignorant, and read so badly that he had not understood very much, though before he died he was converted to God. Maria’s husband went off before breakfast to procure this Bible, and when he brought it home, Adelaide read aloud whilst Maria and her husband listened eagerly. They experienced the truth of what the Book says, “they that seek shall find,” for both Maria and her husband found the Saviour, and that without the help of the Bishop. Soon afterward two Brazilian brethren came up from Rio to visit them, and “expounded unto them the way of God more perfectly,” and shortly afterward they removed to another town, where there were regular meetings for the Breaking of Bread and ministry of God’s Word. They with their children and grandchildren, are now living in a more inland country place, but are still running the race with patience, and helping on the work of the Lord. Dona Maria has learned that her Father in Heaven can count the hairs of her head far better than she could ever have been able to account for them.