This is the introduction to Aunt Jane's Hero, by Elizabeth Prentiss. It seems I am quite taken with her writing, this being the third book of hers I've read.
They were living to themselves: self, with its hopes, promises, and dreams, still had hold of them; but the Lord began to fulfill their prayers. They had asked for contrition, and He sent them sorrow; they had asked for purity, and He sent them thrilling anguish; they had asked to be meek, and He had broken their hearts; they had asked to be dead to the world, and he slew all their living hopes; they had asked to be made like unto Him, and He placed them in the furnace, sitting by "as a refiner of silver," till they should reflect His image; they had asked to lay hold of His cross, and when He had reached it to them, it lacerated their hands. They had asked they knew not what, nor how; but He had taken them at their word, and granted them all their petitions. They were hardly willing to follow on so far, or to draw so nigh to Him. They had upon them an awe and fear, as Jacob at Bethel, or Eliphaz in the night visions, or as of the apostles when they thought had seen a spirit, and knew not that it was Jesus. They could almost pray Him to depart from them, or to hide his awfulness. They found it easier to obey than to suffer - to do than to give up - to bear the cross than to hang upon it: but they cannot go back, for they have come to near the unseen cross, and its virtues have pierced too deeply within them. He is fulfilling to them his promise, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me."
But now, at last, their turn is come. Before, they had only heard of the mystery, but now they feel it. He has fastened on them His look of love, as He did on Mary and Peter, and they cannot but choose to follow. Little by little, from time to time, by flitting gleams the mystery of His cross shines upon them. They behold Him lifted up - they gaze on the glory which rays forth from the wounds of His holy passion; and as they gaze, they advance, and are changed into His likeness, and His name shines out through them, for he dwells in them. They live alone with Him above, in unspeakable fellowship; willing to lack what others own, and to be unlike all, so that they are only like him.
"Such are they in all ages who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. Had they chosen for themselves, or their friends chosen for them, they would have chosen otherwise. They would have been brighter here, but less glorious in His kingdom. They would have had Lot's portion, not Abraham's. If they had halted anywhere - if He had taken off His hand, and let them stray back - what would they not have lost? What forfeits in the morning of the resurrection? But He stayed them up, even against themselves. Many a time their foot had well-nigh slipped; but He, in mercy, held them up; now, even in this life, they know all he did was done well. It was good for them to suffer here, for they shall reign hereafter - to bear the cross below, for they shall wear the crown above; and that not their will but His was done on them."