THE OLD MAN went to meetin', for the day was bright and fair,
Though his limbs were very totterin', and 'twas hard to travel there; But he hungered for the Gospel, so he trudged the weary way On the road so rough and dusty, 'neath the summer's burning ray.
By and by he reached the building, to his soul a holy place; Then he paused, and wiped the sweat drops off his thin and wrinkled face; But he looked around bewildered, for the old bell did not toll, And the doors were shut and bolted, and he did not see a soul.
So he leaned upon his crutches, and he said, "What does it mean?" And he looked this way and that, till it seemed almost
a dream; He walked the dusty highway, and he breathed a heavy sigh-- Just to go once more to meetin', ere the summons came to die.
But he saw a little notice, tacked upon the meetin' door, So he limped along to read it, and he read it o'er and o'er. Then he wiped his dusty glasses, and he read it o'er again, Till his limbs began to tremble and his eyes began to pain.
As the old man read the notice, how it made his spirit burn! "Pastor absent on vacation--church is closed till his
return." Then he staggered slowly backward. and he sat him down to think, For his soul was stirred within him, till he thought his heart would sink.
So he mused along and wondered, to himself soliloquized-- "I have lived to almost eighty, and was never so surprised, As I read that oddest notice, stickin' on the meetin' door,
'Pastor on vacation' -- never heard the like before."
"Why, when I first jined the meetin', very many years ago, Preachers traveled on the circuit, in the heat and through the snow; If they got their clothes and vittels ('twas but little cash they got), They said nothin' 'bout vacation, but were happy in their lot."
"Would the farmer leave his cattle, or the shepherd leave his sheep? Who would give them care and shelter, or provide them food to eat? So it strikes me very sing'lar when a man of
holy hands Thinks he needs to have vacation, and forsakes his tender lambs."
"Did St. Paul git such a notion? Did a Wesley or a Knox? Did they in the heat of summer turn away their needy flocks? Did they shut their meetin' house, just go and lounge about? Why, they knew that if they did Satan certainly would shout."
"Do the taverns close their doors, just to take a little rest? Why, 'twould be the height of nonsense, for their trade would be distressed. Did you ever know it happen, or hear anybody
tell, Satan takin' a vacation, shuttin' up the doors of hell?"
"And shall preachers of the gospel pack their trunks and go away, Leavin' saints and dyin' sinners git along as best they may? Are the souls of saints and sinners valued less than
settlin' beer? Or do preachers tire quicker than the rest of mortals here?"
"Why it is I cannot answer, but my feelings they are stirred; Here I've dragged my totterin' footsteps for to hear the Gospel Word, But the preacher is a travelin' and the meetin' house is closed; I confess it's very tryin', hard, indeed, to keep composed."
"Tell me, when I tread the valley and go up the shining height, Will I hear no angels singin' --will I see no gleamin' light? Will the golden harps be silent? Will I meet no welcome there? Why, the thought is most distressin', would be more than I could bear."
"Tell me, when I reach the city over on the other shore, Will I find a little notice tacked upon the golden door, Tellin' me 'mid dreadful silence, writ in words that cut and burn-- 'Jesus absent on vacation, heaven closed till His return.' "