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“Young man," said he as I came up to him, “wherefore did you linger behind? Let me tell you, that if you give ear to that woman, you will lay up for yourself such a rod as you will find it no easy matter to bear ;* for I tell you she has been the ruin of many a one, that is, so far as their present peace is concerned; for our master will not leave any of his own in her power.f Have I not cautioned you respecting her, and told you she can flatter with her lips, and drop honey from her tongue ?"
I made no reply to these words of my uncle, not that my heart did not suggest many things, but that I did not dare to give utterance to them; for I was in fear of my uncle, and more than that I loved him, and I was moreover more than half assured that he was right, and that his Master is the only one in whose service there is peace and safety-I could not then have added, and joy, for my natural corruptions would have led me to seek enjoyments elsewhere, viz. in the housekeeper's room, and in the company of her daughters, and in the good things which she held under the keys hanging at her side; nevertheless, I did not speak, and as I walked silently after the old gentleman, the tumult of my mind began to subside, and presently, my thoughts were drawn away from the scene upon the stairs to other matters; for there is a lightness in young minds which leads them from dwelling long upon one set of ideas.
The cloisters were long, and, as I before said, very dark, the passage being defiled by bats and other unelean birds which inhabit the crannies and nooks of the old walls, and the air was dark and misty. And whereas in the chapel above described there wanted but the removal of the tablets, set there to please Madame le Monde, to admit the pure brightness of the open heavens, in this part of the house it seemed that the light had been altogether excluded from the beginning. Not that there were not some few slits in the wall, formed as it were for emitting arrows in case of attack (for this part of the building was evidently prepared both for offensive and defensive war), but as it happened these slits were of no use to those within, being choked up with rubbish and the litter of the obscene birds which haunted
+" Her feet goeth down to death; her steps take hold on hell." Prov. v. 5.
+ Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thess. the place. But being entered into these dark passages, I said, “ What place is this ? it seems wholly forsaken of inhabitants."
“ These are the haunts of Father Peter and his followers, and you judge hastily in supposing that they are forsaken; for fallen as the authority of the father is, yet were we to count numbers with the doctor, I verily believe that there would be found three to one of the household who hold to the former rather than the latter, though there are some who take little heed to either of them, and these are an increasing party.* But come on,” continued the old gentleman, "you will presently see that this part of the mansion is not so forsaken as you imagine ; and as we go quietly forward 'I shall explain to you who this Father Peter is, and whence arose his authority in the house. Now it appears that when our Lord took his departure to go into that far country, from whence we are daily looking for his return, he left unto his servants who had been with him when he was present in this place, this commission, —that they should speak of him to all their brethren throughout the world, promising at the same time that he would speedily send the interpreter to them, who should instruct and direct them in what they should teach : and so saying he departed.f Now it seems that the worthy doctor, and some others among us, took what our Lord said in simplicity, setting aside certain comparatively small misconceptions arising from human infirmity, for after all is said, we are but poor creatures, slow of comprehension, and weak of faith; but the times were against us, for the old enemy broke in furi
*“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scof. fers, walking after their own lusts.” 2 Peter iii. 3.
+“When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power. shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel : which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts i, 6-11,
ously upon us, soon after our Lord left us, and I verily believe would not have left one stone upon another of this our house, had he had his way. This was however overruled, and we were looking for better times, when the enemy changed his politics, and spoke us fair, and then it was that Mr. Fitz-Adam and Madame le Monde got installed among us, and here they have been ever since. Well, these were scarcely set in their seats of temporary authority before Father Peter, who was a man of whom I had no suspicions at first, began to set up his pretensions, insisting that he was the man, and there was none beside him, and pretending from a certain passage in our Lord's letters,* which have no more to do with him than they have with me or any other man now in the house, that the Lord had given him the rule and dominion over the minds of all his servants. Now his credentials were false, inasmuch as he could not prove himself to be the person to whom the passage referred. Indeed it was well known that he was not the person, but a much younger man, although he had taken his name; however it suited the steward and housekeeper to uphold him, for he was the best friend they ever had during the time of his power; and if they found ease and security in their velvet cushions, it was as much owing to him as to any other cause, that is, in reference to second causes; for after all, it is only by the sufferance of our Master that they are where they are, and not in the dungeon prepared for such as shall be found rebels in the last day. But you would hardly believe, my good nephew, were I to tell you, to what an extent this Father Peter carried his authority in the days of his exaltation. It was more then than a servant's life was worth to doubt his perfectibility, or to refuse any of his dogmas, or to neglect any of the forms or ceremonies which he instituted. At that period we who refused to submit to his decrees were thrust into holes and corners, from which, if we dared to come out, we were cast into dungeons, and made to eat corrupt food, and drink waters which had been fouled, or exposed to 1
*“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Mact. xvi. 18.
+ “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever," Rev. xx. 10. .
ordeals by fire, so that had we not enjoyed the assured hope of final happiness in our Lord, we should have been of all men the most miserable. * But our Lord be thanked, this tyranny of Father Peter has passed away from us, though it is still exercised over the minds of those who as yet have not been able to throw off his authority ; but he cannot now as before-time subject us to the cruel bodily torments which he once inflicted. The time was when he had quite shut up the doctor's chapel, and when I was compelled to conceal my Lord's letters, lest he should destroy them; but this tyranny is overpast, and although other evils have arisen in the house, yet they are of a nature much more easily to be endured by one desiring to be quiet than those which have gone before. But," continued my uncle, “the error on which the father built his pretensions is one which is still entertained by too many among us, and is now at this very time held by the worthy doctor himself, though in a modified form ; and it is this—that our Lord having in his letter promised to his faithful servants a glorious and triumphant season to be enjoyed in this place,f we have applied these promises to the present state of things, instead of referring them to the period of the second coming; as if it were possible for the bride to rejoice in the absence of the bridegroon, or for the wife to be glad when her husband is far away. I Are these things according to the order of nature ? and argues it not a want of loyalty to suppose that a royal residence should be gay, when the king is absent? But our king is not only absent, but another king rules for a while in his place, and is permitted so to do by a superior power, for reasons which we can only partly
*“If in this life only we have hope in Christ we are of all men most miserable." 1 Cor. xv. 19.
+". In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city: salvation will God appoint for walls and bul. warks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” Isaiah xxvi. 1-4.
1" And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from the and then shall they fast.” Matt. ix. 15,
understand, but which we shall know hereafter.* Hence, I often tell our good doctor, when he speaks of the superior order of things to be brought about by his efforts, and those of some other of the faithful servants of the Lord, in co-operation with the interpreter, Beware of this opinion, for while you hold it, little as you suspect it, you are not altogether free from the error of Father Peter. You have changed the actors indeed, in the work which you and he are presuming on your ability to perform, but you are equally guilty of the same presumption, and err alike in exalting your fellow-servants, and derogating from the honour of the Master.”
"And how does the doctor take these home pushes from you, sir ?" I asked.
" Why he does not like them,” he replied, turning towards me with a smile on his lips, " these home thrusts are not pleasing to flesh and blood; but the doctor is a true servant of the Master, and he will assuredly be brought to the truth in good time; for he does not reject the Master's letters, but acknowledges that they are the only guide by which any servant in this house should direct his steps.”
We were walking slowly along the cloister, and there was before us a wide folding-door, which was closed, and from whence voices issued. My uncle stopped for a few moments, and said, “Before we enter there, permit me to explain one fact to you: you will be astonished at what you will see within ; there is much to attract the eye and charm the senses in the services within the sphere of the Father's jurisdiction, and much which is arranged for the delight of the eye, and the fascination of the senses; but there is one thing, good nephew, which you must understand, viz. that many of our Lord's promises are couched in figurative terms, in order that under these figures we, whose trust is in him, may be able to understand that which the enemy will not comprehend.t These figures being selected by one who possesses all natural secrets,I are wonderfully beautiful
*“Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.” John. xiii. 7.
+“And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.” Luke viii. 10.
"For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite