« EelmineJätka »
came stronger in the breast of this young man, soon blended with, or rather gave the direction to, all his actions; so that he was never easy unless he fancied himself engrossing the whole attention of whatever company he might happen to be in. He approved of no good work that might be going forward within his sphere of action in which he himself was not a leader. If he could not be the first in conversation, he would seldom speak at all. And as Edmund was the man who was most likely to be held up by the world as his rival, he gradually cherished such an alienation from his former friend, as to proceed at length to counteract, at first in an underhand, and afterwards in a more open way, every public work which the other attempted to accomplish. But inasmuch as he would not confess his sentiments with respect to Edmund even to his own heart, he still retained something like the language of friendship towards him when they chanced to meet; and it never could be discovered by those who were most intimately acquainted with both parties, whether Edmund had or had not discovered that Mr. Parnel had ceased to feel for him as in former days.
Some months had passed during which these young ministers had not met, when, one morning, Mr. Parnel called on Mr. Stephens. The moment he entered the room, Edmund was aware that his former friend was in a state of high excitement, though on what account he did not know. For this excellent young man was so entirely raised above the clouds and tempests of this lower world, that he could scarcely conceive the state of irritation into which weaker minds are often roused by the petty cabals with which they are continually embroiled. It was, however, evident to him, that his friend was by some cause or other strongly affected; and he therefore attempted to restrain the breaking out of his disagreeable emotions by speaking on the most common and least interesting subjects that then occurred to him, affecting at the same time a certain cheerfulness and unconcern which at that moment he certainly did not feel.
A forced vivacity never has an agreeable effect, at least, with those persons who have even the weakest penetration. Accordingly, Mr. Parnel seemed to be more irritated than pleased by Edmund's manner, and presently discovered his displeasure by saying, “ Upon my word, Stephens, you possess a wonderful flow of spirits. But I came here to-day on purpose to have some serious conversation with you, and I really wish that you would grant me an attentive hearing for a short time.”
“Most willingly," replied Edmund, seriously; "and if I can be of the least service"
“You are very good," returned Mr. Parnel, dryly: “ but I have no particular occasion for your services at present. It is about your own affairs, Edmund, that I am desirous of speaking to you at this time.”
“ I shall hearken with interest,” returned Edmund, óc to any thing which a friend may say."
“What,” returned Mr. Parnel, " even should that friend venture to repeat some things which may be said by persons not quite so much attached to you as the man who is now before you?” “ I shall not refuse to hear any thing that it may
be right I should know," rejoined Edmund. “I confess, that I do not like to trouble myself much with wbat the busy world may say of me; but I shall, of
attend to any thing with which my friend judges that I ought to be made acquainted."
“So far, so well,” replied Mr. Parnel; “I am glad to find that you are willing to hear reason. And such being the case, I shall proceed without further preface with what I have to say."
Mr. Parnel then proceeded directly to introduce the business on account of which he had made the present visit to Edmund's lodgings, and began, without ceremony, to call his friend to account for such parts of his conduct as did not entirely coincide with his views of propriety and prudence. And, first, he blamed him for his intimacy with Mr. Barret, the dissenting minister of whom mention was before made, conceiving that he might justly do so, on the score of his not belonging to the Church as established in this kingdom.
“ You cannot regret that he does not,” replied Edmund,“ more than I do, brother Parnel.”
“ Indeed!” said Parnel.
“ Because," returned Edmund, “I am sorry that so valuable a man should not be altogether with us."
“You surprise me, Edmund,” returned Mr. Parnel.
“Do you thoroughly understand the points on which we differ from Mr. Barret?” rejoined the other.
“I never had any conversation with the gentleman in question,” replied Mr. Parnel; "and therefore cannot give you an answer.”
“ Permit me then to say,” said Edmund,“ that there is no one point essential to salvation in which you, and I, and Mr. Barret, could not go hand-in-hand. This was a circumstance with which I made myself fully acquainted before I offered him the right-hand of fellowship. I have, also, every reason to believe, that this man, speaking of him as an individual, is a true servant and child of God, and I know him to be a laborious and successful preacher."
“All this may be strictly true," replied Mr. Parnel, coolly; “but as this man differs from us with respect to the great article of church-government, and, also, in lesser points, I am unable to understand, Edmund, how he can be a suitable companion or coadjutor with you, a clergyman of the Established Church.”
Stop,” said Edmund, " and permit me to propose to you one question. What, I ask, should be the object of a minister, either of our Church or of any other denomination? to make proselytes to his own particular form of worship, or to win souls for the Church of Christ? If the former, then I confess that I am wrong; but if the latter, I think you will find it hard to convince me that I have acted amiss in giving my countenance to such a man as Mr. Barret.”
Mr. Parnel made no reply, and Edmund went on to this effect.
“ I will explain to you, my dear friend, the motives which at first led me to regard with a favourable and even a thankful feeling the residence of Mr. Barret in my parish. When first placed in this situation, I took great pains to ascertain the numbers and necessities of the souls under my care, and found that the former amounted to at least five thousand, and that among these vast multitudes, (multitudes indeed to be all subjected to the pastoral jurisdiction of one man,) there were few who, in a spiritual sense, were not blind, and naked, and poor, and miserable. Having made this calculation, I
next proceeded to consider my own physical powers, as an individual, for supplying, as far as lay in the use of means, the amazing wants of these poor creatures. And shall I confess, that, after having long and painfully reflected on the subject, it was not without pleasure that I heard of such a fellow-labourer as Mr. Barret. I took some pains to ascertain the principles of this good man; and when I found that in all essential matters they were such as I could most heartily subscribe, I no longer hesitated to pay him a visit, to assure him of my co-operation in every good work that he might desire to perform, and to say that I hoped no other contest would subsist between us than that of an emulation in doing what is right. And I have reason to think that the candour and liberality of
conduct have been the means, on several occasions, of strengthening the hands of Mr. Barret, and enabling him to effect more good than otherwise he could have done.”
do not mean to say that there are no points on which you and Mr. Barret disagree!” said Mr. Parnel.
Certainly not,” replied Edmund; “ there are several: but they are all matters of minor importance, and such as we have often canvassed together in perfect good will.”
“Upon my word, Mr. Stephens," returned Francis, your modes of thinking are in many respects so very irregular, that I hardly know what to say about them. But I have done a friend's part in speaking my mind : and if you will not take warning, you must abide by the consequences.”
“I am very willing so to do," replied Edmund: though I cannot conceive what I have to fear.”
“ You are a young man, Mr. Stephens,” returned the other, “and are only a curate.” “I know it,” replied Edmund.
Enough then,” said Mr. Painel; “and I hope that you have made up your mind to get no more than a curacy while you
mind to stand at my post, be it what it may; and if I feel that I dare not attempt to weaken the influence or tie the hands of a man whom I believe to be a better Christian,
s made up my
and certainly a far more experienced minister, than myself, you, my friend, will at least give me credit for my intentions !”
To this Mr. Parnel made no reply, but proceeded to attack his old friend on some other points, one of which was the irregular manner, as he pleased to call it, in which he arranged his services, having an additional service on a Sunday, and one or more on a week-day:
Edmund pleaded the smallness of his church, the size of his parish, and his wish to do as much good as was possible.
Francis Parnel again brought forward the plea of irregularity, and hinted that he feared the desire of distinction was the secret motive for these innovations.
Edmund replied, that no man had any thing to do with his motives, and that he considered himself
answerable for them to the Searcher of hearts alone.
Mr. Parnel's answer was, that a man's motives were often more visible to his fellow-creatures than the individual himself supposed.
• Well, then,” said Edmund, with some heat, “ let every man look to his own heart."
“You are warm, Edmund,” said Mr. Parnel, whose reasons for this interference with Mr. Stephens were then not understood by the latter, though they appeared afterwards, “ you are warm. What reason can I possibly have for my sincerity but your real good ?”
“None, undoubtedly,” replied the unsuspicious Edmund; " and I am to blame to be so warm. But if
you knew, if
had the smallest idea of the internal struggle which I underwent before I could resolve to sacrifice all earthly prospects at the shrine of duty, you would not thus endeavour to renew the contest in my mind.
“Do you, can you, suppose, Francis," added the young man, “ that I am not fully aware of the sacrifice that I am making of all worldly advantages to the line of conduct I have been induced to pursue? But, before I put an end to this subject now, and I hope for ever, let ine but propose this single question. Granting, my dear Francis, that you could have sufficient influence to persuade me to give up my weekly services and other unusual efforts, and that you could by any means silence the warning and instructive voice of my brother Chris.