The Prisoner of Glatz

IN a cleft of a mountain range in Upper Silesia, through which the wild and raging Neisse forces its passage down to the Oder, stands the impregnable Prussian fortress of Glatz, a natural fortress, almost unequaled in the world, begirt by mountain-peaks like walls, and fortified yet more by human skill. The valley itself is shut out from the rest of the world; and one who is enclosed by the massive walls and gratings of the castle, is an exile from the world, as if buried alive. Woe to the man imprisoned in Glatz! Everything calls out to him, "No hope remains for thee! no hope!”
Here, in the second decade of this century, lay the Count of M—, hitherto petted and thronged, now hopelessly immured behind bolts and bars. By treason against the realm, and especially by personal violence offered to Frederic William III. of Prussia, he had drawn down the rage of that monarch on his head, and was condemned to solitary imprisonment for life. For a whole year he lay in his frightful, lonely cell, without one star of hope in either his outer or inner sky, for he was a skeptic. They had left him only one book—a Bible—and this, for a long period, he would not read, or, if forced to take it up to kill time, and relieve his consuming weariness, it was only read with anger and gnashing of teeth against the God it reveals.
But sore affliction, that dreadful, and yet blessed agent of God, that has brought to the good Shepherd many a sheep, was effectual with the Count of M—. The more he read the Bible, the more he felt the pressure of the gentle hand of God on his forlorn and hopeless heart.
On a rough and stormy November night, when the mountain gales howled round the fortress, the rain fell in torrents, and the swollen and foaming Neisse rushed roaring down the valley, the Count lay sleepless on his cot. The tempest in his breast was as fearful as that without. His whole past life rose before him; he was convicted of his manifold short-comings and sins; he felt that the source of all his misery lay in his forsaking God. For the first time in his life, his heart was soft, and his eyes wet with tears of genuine repentance. He rises from his cot, opens his Bible, and his eye falls upon Psa. 50:1515And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (Psalm 50:15): “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." This word of God reaches the very depths of his soul; he falls upon his knees, for the first time since he was a child, and cries to God for mercy. And that gracious and compassionate God, who turns not away from the first movement of faith towards Him, heard the cry of this sufferer in the storm-beaten dungeon of Glatz, and gave him not only spiritual but temporal deliverance.
That same night in his castle, at Berlin, King Frederick William III. lay sleepless in bed.
Severe bodily pains tortured him, and in his utter exhaustion he begged of God to grant him one hour of refreshing sleep. The favor was granted, and when he woke again, he said to his wife, the generous Louise, “God has looked upon me very graciously, and I may well be thankful to Him. Who, in my kingdom, has wronged me most? I will forgive him.”
“The Count of M—,"replied Louise, “who is imprisoned in Glatz.”
“You are right," said the sick King;" let him be pardoned.”
Day had not dawned over Berlin ere a courier was dispatched to Silesia, bearing to the prisoner in Galtz, pardon and release.
It is the usual way of our good Shepherd, in gathering His lost flock, for whom He died, to do it "without observation," and when He holds up to us a marked instance like the above, no doubt it is that our dormant faith may be quickened in His power to save in the face of every obstacle.
This poor Count's heart was more strongly fortified against Him, according to human observation, than even the prison home, whose impregnable walls continually echoed "no hope.” His was a case, no doubt, which required unusual means; but with our God nothing is an obstacle which He wills shall be done. O that our faith might stretch its hands to Him with a firmer grasp, and. that we may count upon Him more largely!
In order 'that God's purposes might be accomplished in his salvation, he must be put into prison; but that accomplished, how easy is his release. And yet the means that are used seem as marked and striking as in the case of Peter.
Once made God's child, the very best thing must be done for him; not but that continued imprisonment might not have been the best, if He saw it so, but as He did not, his release is no difficulty. What a hard lesson is this to learn, that our difficulty is no difficulty to God; that our impossible is to Him, “all things are possible.”
And to faith all things are possible. The Lord give us more largely of this, His gift, not only for ourselves, but in our efforts for others." J. A.