The Gates Ajar

by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps

This brief story is full of pathos, genius, and theology. It is what the Germans call "a story with a tendency;" in other words, a story designed to establish and enforce an opinion. But notwithstanding this, it is not without great merit in plot and character. Perhaps the most remarkable feature is the truth and power with which the feelings are portrayed of one who has lost a nearest and dearest friend. The skill with which the doctrine of the story is defended, and the narrowness of extreme Orthodoxy is set forth and illustrated, is admirable in its way, and is at times irresistible. The gentle and human Christian faith and hope, which are everywhere inspired,—a faith and hope which walk firmly in the rough pathway of earthly duty and sacrifice, while yet "the sufferer constantly looks serenely and almost seraphically into the world of spirits—give to the book its crowning grace and its surpassing excellence. The defects which a critical judgment might detect, are lost sight of in the comparison with its manifold excellencies.

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