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followed by one or two smart strokes upon the pavement, and in walked a bustling little fellow in black, with a stick under his arm, looking round him inquisitively, as if he expected the very stones and timber of the place to welcome him. He paused just within the door, and looking severely down upon a huge slab of grey marble which had once apparently co red an altar-tomb, gave it two or three pokes with his stick, just as I have seen a connoisseur in such matters do with a piece of Christmas beef before negociating a purchase. Having satisfied his curiosity, the old gentleman walked on, bowed quaintly to the Glosenfanes, and took his seat in the corresponding pew of the chancel. About half a dozen persons, none of whom I was acquainted with, entered the church one after another, and the next visitor was a stern, tall, dark man, nearly bald, buttoned to the chin, and carrying himself as upright as a poker. Scattered round his smooth, small, oval head, was a spare crop of black hair, his forehead shone like an ivory billiard ball, and his quick dark eyes burned like cinders. His features were well formed, but small, and his lips appeared to be so closely set, that you expected they would open and shut like a spring-trap, if they ever opened at all. But the most remarkable character about that face was its fixedness of look-we do not say, of expression; for it seemed to have none.
It was a piece of human stereotype with the exception of the eyes, which, to carry out the figure, were in a moveable letter. But even these were without soul, shifting mechanically from side to side, and betraying no traces whatever of intelligence.
A pleasant, honest, hale-looking countryman came next. He paused, stared at the gewgaws above, around, and before him, and seemed unwilling to proceed. Turning shortly round, my gaze encountered his, and recollecting that I had seen him before, I motioned him to come into my seat. He seemed glad of the offer, and I then recognized him as honest Roger Byfield, the countryman who had wound up the conference on Puseyism, to which I had been a listener at the way-side inn, alluded to in a
The turret clock now announced the hour for commencement, and ere it had ceased striking, the Rev. Silenus Glosenfane emerged from a small robing-room beside the chancel, and com
menced the service. The prayers were intoned in so low a voice, with such unmeaning emphasis and inflexions, that few of the congregation could either hear, understand, or follow them. The organ, however, breaking forth at intervals, gave intimation of the proper time for making the responses, which was done with much more spirit, though it was, after all, any thing but a reasonable service.
I had always been accustomed to regard God as the Great Mind of the Universe, and His worship as the highest exercise of which our moral and intellectual natures were capable. His service, in my own mind, had always consisted of heart-work and head-work; and it was, therefore, a most distasteful and profitless employ to play the part of a mere machine, as the people on this occasion seemed to be doing. The Lord's temple was the home of love, and light, and truth ; and not a mere theatre for the pantomimic performance of certain rites and ceremonies in which the consciences of the performers had no interest. It was bad enough, I thought, to be a hearer of the word only, and not a doer—to see our mental and moral aspect in the glass of a gospel ministry, and then to go away forgetting what manner of persons we were : but it was much worse when that glass was so beclouded and disfigured, as to give back no distinct image, and leave us, to return home again, without beholding our natural face at all. “Is it likely,” said I to myself, “ that those who have come here to-day to say or sing? to hear the soft notes of the organ, and to lose themselves in a misty, undefined, and undefinable concord of sweet sounds, and easy modulations, and unmeaning cadences, will go away impressed with any right ideas of their own position or destiny, or of the character or purposes of God with reference to their souls' salvation ? If they see themselves at all in the glass of Scripture, will they not go hence with feelings of easy complacency, instead of starting at the evidences of mortal disease apparent in every moral feature? Would they forget the frightful reflection of their several aspects, if that service convinced them as it ought to do, 'of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come?' and is it not a solemn piece of trifling, thus to dress out with such idle forms and specious fooleries, the awful realities of sin, and salvation, and eternal life?”
As I found I was unable to enter into the spirit of the service, if spirit it could be said to have, I was not displeased to find that my thoughts had taken the turn I have attempted to describe. It was not long, however, before my reflections were seriously disturbed by the entrance of a smartly dressed, comely, middle-aged lady, and her two daughters, followed by a gentlemanly looking personage, of about fifty. After a good deal of rustling and bustling; and pantomimic gesture from the elder lady, the father (for such he was) and the two daughters were enticed to a seat near the chancel skreen ; and considering the infinite pains apparently taken for that purpose, I must record it to the credit of the congregation, that they would not be disturbed from their propriety ; and scarcely deigned in one instance, to turn a glance toward the newly arrived party. The minister, however, whose eyes seemed to be wandering like those of a certain other character, to the ends of the earth, caught sight of them, and paused, apparently without knowing it, staring on vacancy, and sadly perplexing the organist, who peeped from behind his crimson curtains, as if fearful he had been guilty of some hiatus.
But in a few seconds every thing went on again ; and I was just relapsing into another reverie, when I was startled by a latin quotation made use of by the officiating clergyman. Few, perhaps, among his audience understood its import, but never having altogether lost the classical knowledge I had acquired in my younger days, its meaning was readily apparent to my own mind. I recognized it at once as part of a service from the “Roman Missal;” but having found on referring to the passage when I returned home, that it had been translated by Bishop Patrick, much better than I was at the time able to render it, I give his reading in preference to my own :
“He fell indeed, but presently arose;
The breathless body finds both feet and way
This martyr's death and never-dying fame.” The grave but unmeaning solemnity of this announcement, which I need scarcely say has reference to the reputed act of
St. Denys carrying his own head in his hands after it had been cut off, drew largely on my risible propensities. I however preserved a due decorum, and rising from my seat instinctively, leaned forward to listen more attentively. I was not mistaken. The vicar was descanting on the miraculous acts of this martyr, who was the patron saint of the day; and had slidden imperceptibly from the beautiful prayers of the liturgy into his sermon, or rather his discourse; for it had nothing whatever of the solemn character of a pulpit address. Of doctrine, reproof, rebuke, or exhortation, it contained nothing : it was in fact a silly, puerile narrative of the reputed acts of the French saint and martyr, and had been smuggled into the service without any preparatory prayer, or any change in the dress or position of the preacher.
The legend of St. Denys being over, the sentences from the offertory were read, and during the time so occupied, a black velvet bag was passed round for contributions. A few of the audience, for there were but three and twenty in all, left their seats, and as it was not my intention to communicate with those who remained, I walked quietly out of the church, followed by the countryman who had sat with me. Passing out, under the belfry tower, we encountered three or four rustics, staring with open mouths at an inscription over the entrance door.
What’y call that, I wonder?" said the first speaker.
“Ask Jem," said the second; “I'm no scollard, I ar’nt. Howdsomever I can read a bit in a general way; but this is such strange writing—this is.”
“Aye,” said Jem, who appeared to have some little waggery about him--- They call this the poor man's church, and that's poor man's writing I reckon."
I naturally looked up. It was a passage of Scripture done in old church-text, with strangely illuminated capitals branching off into all sorts of flourishes, like a flower half inclined to turn into a firework. I could not wonder when I saw it, that the problem was too much for that illustrious triumvirate.
I found that my companion was well acquainted with the place and people, though but a chance visitor at the church. Like myself he had merely come to spy out the nakedness of Puseyism, and from him I learned a good deal relative to the usual worshippers at St. Fabian's. As the reader is not unacquainted with some of them, he shall hear who they are by and bye.
We were sauntering leisurely together towards the churchyard gate, when the gentleman whom I had supposed to be a friend of the Glosenfanes passed us. A groom was waiting for him by the wall, where a series of rude steps formed at once a stile and horse-block. He looked, as I thought, rather inquisitively, but not rudely, towards us, and having liited my hat to him, he returned the compliment very gracefully. This gave me a favorable opportunity of studying his physiognomy and general bearing, and I felt fully assured that he was in no way allied to the Glosenfanes. He was a man-a gentleman, honest and open as the day ; and I was not sorry I could persuade myself without difficulty that there was no very friendly feeling between them. Whether I was right or not we shall see presently. H. R. E.
(To be continued.)
(Continued from page 412.) Another argument has been built upon the circumstances attending the betrayal of Christ, when the disciples, fearful of consequences, asked of him, “ Lord, shall we smite with the sword ?" (Luke xxii. 49.) Here, they say, was an opportunity for our Saviour to have settled for ever the question of aggressive warfare ; yet he never interposes, but allows Peter to strike off the ear of Malchus. Nay, not only does he permit this, but in some measure sanctions it by the remark, “Suffer ye thus far.”
Now, those who know any thing of the hasty and impetuous temperament of Peter, can well imagine that he, of all others, was the least likely to have waited a reply from his Divine Master. With him it was more likely to have been a blow and a word, than a word and a blow; and we find accordingly that he is sharply reproved by our Saviour immediately afterwards. “Put up again thy sword into his place : for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” (Matt. xxvi. 52.) The words, “Suffer ye thus far," appear rather to be addressed either to Malchus or the soldiers, than to Peter, who had in fact "suffered"
The law, then, of offensive or aggressive warfare appears to be this—that they who take the sword, shall perish by it. And this,