Come ye hither, therefore: here is the way by which one may go farther, here is rest by the grave, rest from the sorrow over loss, or rest in the sorrow of loss—through him who everlastingly re-unites those that are parted, and more firmly than nature unites parents with their children, and children with their parents—for, alas! they were parted; and more closely than the minister unites husband and wife—for, alas! their separation did come to pass; and more indissollubly than the bond of friendship unites friend with friend—for, alas! it was broken. Separation penetrated everywhere and brought with it sorrow and unrest; but here is rest!—Come hither also ye who had your abodes assigned you among the graves, ye who are considered dead to human society, but neither missed nor mourned—not buried and yet dead; that is, belonging neither to life nor to death; ye, alas! to whom human society cruelly closed its doors and for whom no grave has as yet opened itself in pity—come hither, ye also, here is rest, and here is life!
The invitation stands at the parting of the ways, where the road of sin turns away from the inclosure of innocence—ah, come hither, ye are so close to him; but a single step in the opposite direction, and ye are infinitely far from him. Very possibly ye do not yet stand in need of rest, nor grasp fully what that means; but still follow the invitation, so that he who invites may save you from a predicament out of which it is so difficult and dangerous to be saved; and so that, being saved, ye may stay with him who is the Savior of all, likewise of innocence. For even if it were possible that innocence be found somewhere, and altogether pure: why should not innocence also need a savior to keep it safe from evil?—The invitation stands at the parting of the ways, where the road of sin turns away, to enter more deeply into sin. Come hither all ye who have strayed and have been lost, whatever may have been your error and sin: whether one more pardonable in the sight of man and nevertheless perhaps more frightful, or one more terrible in the sight of man and yet, perchance, more pardonable; whether it be one which became known here on earth or one which, though hidden, yet is known in heaven—and even if ye found pardon here on earth without finding rest in your souls, or found no pardon because ye did not seek it, or because ye sought it in vain: ah, return and come hither, here is rest!
The invitation stands at the parting of the ways, where the road of sin turns away for the last time and to the eye is lost in perdition. Ah, return, return, and come hither! Do not shrink from the difficulties of the retreat, however great; do not fear the irksome way of conversion, however laboriously it may lead to salvation; whereas sin with winged speed and growing pace leads forward or—downward, so easily, so indescribably easy—as easily, in fact, as when a horse, altogether freed from having to pull, cannot even with all his might stop the vehicle which pushes him into the abyss. Do not despair over each relapse which the God of patience has patience enough to pardon, and which a sinner should surely have patience enough to humble himself under. Nay, fear nothing and despair not: he that sayeth “come hither,” he is with you on the way, from him come help and pardon on that way of conversion which leads to him; and with him is rest.