Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

FORBEARANCE OF RICHARD DUDLEY.

221

And then they went into the dining-room, and Ralph, with a quick recollection of his last visit there, went up to the mantlepiece. He liked to stand on the spot where he had been so miserable in his sudden awakening and dismay. He wondered if Hester remembered it, and if she had understood it.

One thing she understood, which the first glance at his face had taught her. Whatever the nature of that something that had come between them, it was gone now.

“Do you remember the last time I stood here ?” he asked. “You do. Hester, once I proposed to myself a foolish resolution. That night I was conscious, for the first time, of having broken it long ago. Some time I will tell you more about it, if you care to hear. Now I can think of nothing but the joy of seeing you again. You will forgive me, won't you?"

"For what?"

“That false claim of brotherhood. I never did care for you like a brother. I care for you like a greedy man who wants a treasure all to himself. Do you know that, Hester? I want to take you away-my wife."

There was no need to tell him she knew it. There was no need perhaps to go over the story of those past months, which must have been old to both of them, but they did

And then Richard Dudley heard that the curate was come, and sent for him. He looked at them both from under his bushy eyebrows, and divined. To-night he put away his bits of philosophy, his axioms, and proverbs, into a quiet corner, for he saw that they would be unheeded. And he wished the curate joy of his renewed health, and that tide in the affairs of men which had turned now in his favour.

“Nevertheless,” he added, “a popular preacher is my abhorrence.” "And mine,” said Ralph, quietly.

“I have given up all idea of counsel to-night. In your present state of exaltation it would fall on barren ground, therefore I generously lay down my favourite weapon. Only one thing I have to remind you of, which I shall beg to do while it my

head." “Both of us?” inquired Ralph. Richard Dudley groaned.

"Both of you! Aye, I understand the query. Well, then, yes; both of you. Don't expect too much. A curate universally popular is a phenix. There is a fable wondrous wise concerning a deluded old gentleman who carried his donkey on his shoulders, and yet could not steer clear of the charge of cruelty to animals. I should say that the fabulist intended to point, under the guise of that old man, to a young curate in a populous parish, in the year of grace 18"

go over it.

runs in

"

SUNDAY THOUGHTS FOR WEEK-DAY PRACTICE.

WHERE ART THOU ?

And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou ?"-Gex. ij. 9.

It is a remark which you may occasionally hear men make as to certain of their neighbours, that “they never know where to find them.” The allusion refers not so much to locality as to conduct; though it is equally worthy of notice, that to those to whom the remark is applicable in regard to conduct, it is seldom discovered to be inapplicable with regard to locality. The meaning of the remark, so far as its former application is concerned, is, that about the actions of certain of their neighbours, men observe a degree of equivocation, and about their characters an amount of dubiety, which make it very difficult for them, if it be not impossible, to trace the course in any case which they intend to pursue; they are unable to calculate beforehand what they may do, or how they may do it. Such persons fail others when most they are needed. Such characters seem to possess no analogies whereby one may judge of their present from their past, or of their future from their present; they hold you in suspense; you are compelled to look upon them with suspicion ; in a word, as aforesaid, “

you never know where to find them,” ¿.e., morally. And to those to whom the remark that "you never know where to find them,” is applicable, morally, it is, as we hinted, seldom without application, locally: we mean that persons whose actions are equivocal, or whose characters are dubious, whom you never know where to find as to their principles, it is equally difficult to find as to their places; that is, such persons havo seldom any stated hours for being found at home, or any particular time for any particular occupation.

This description of persons is as ancient as humanity. What we say of men in whom there is obliquity of character or delinquency of conduct, that “ we know not where to find them,” was true of the first man-so truc, that after his character had become obscured by sin, and his conduct complicated by disobedience, Almighty God Himself, speaking in the language of men, and dealing with the man after men's manner, did not know where to find him. “ The Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou ?” for Adam and his wife, seeing that through eating of the tree of which “God had said they should not eat," they had lost their integrity, and "hearing the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day, had hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden." And how true it is of every one, who is neglecting

[blocks in formation]

known duties, or living in the commission of known sins, that just as Adam and his wife did, so does he! As they foolishly, like children, played at hide and seek with their Maker, “amongst the trees of the garden,” so does he !

The life of every sinner is a kind of dreadful, desperate, game of hide and seek with conscience, and with Him who is the Lord of conscience, amongst the foliage of those terrestrial pleasure grounds contrived to shut out from the soul the thought of “the world to come,” and of the judgment which is as inevitably coming. Thus do men, in whom is no religious honesty, try to evade the presence of the Searcher of hearts. They see not God; therefore, they argue, God seeth not them. They hide their faces from Him, doing amiss; therefore they cry, “He hideth

away his face, and He will never see it.” They will neither look up to God with an open countenance, nor look into themselves with a steady eye. It is astonishing how, even not a few sincere persons will go on from

year

to year without, so to say, any cordial understanding between themselves and their God. They seem not to know whether they are in God's favour or not, whether God hath forgiven their sins or not, whether God accepteth their good works or not, or whether, were they to die, they would go to God or not.

It is a most uncomfortable state this; yet they live in it, as though it were a token of their humility; as if it were God's will that they should thus punish themselves to the end of their days, or as if He would be pleased, so long as they had just sufficient religion to make themselves unhappy withal. There is no humility in a state of mind like this, but a false one. Every good gift, and every perfect gift, which is from above,” which God," the Father of lights"-not the parent of gloom and uncertainty-has both promised to grant, and encouraged us to seek, it is not presumptuous for us to expect; nay, rather, it is presumptuous in us not to expect. It is setting up our judgment of what is “meet and right” for us against His ; raising our doubts to a level with His faithfulness; and if this be not something like presumption on our parts, what is ? What God our Father desires for His children is, not that they should stand in doubt of Him, or of themselves—that they should go on to the end of their days, not knowing where they are. His question to Adam, and through him to every one of “Where art thou ?” disproves this. What He desires for us is, that we should know where we are ; that we should “know whom we have believed,” that we should have “everlasting consolation and good hope through grace ;” yea, that we should " draw nigh unto Him ”— not as did our first parents, hide ourselves from Him"with a true heart, in full assurance of faith.”

us,

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic]

The once general, though now nearly obsolete,.custom of public catcchizing has lately attracted much attention among Churchmen, and, as is usually the case with all systems that have sunk into disuse and undergone a partial revival, has elicited the most contradictory opinions from those who take an interest in Church government and development. Ask at random a number of equally active and zealous clergy or laity, what is their opinion of public catechizing, and you will have on the average as many opinions for as against the custom.

One man will say that, although it might have been very useful in former days, it is wholly impracticable in the nineteenth century; that VOL, I. —NO. III.

Q

« ZurückWeiter »