Imagens das páginas

that you do not believe in the Scriptures, or religion at all. I gather this, not so much from any particular words you have uttered, as from the general character of your observations. You have not declared your unbelief, and thus I should like to hear what are your views upon those important points."

“Well, for the matter o' that,” answered Sam, “I can't say as I should or should not like to be called a religious man. I aint sure as I knows what it is. I don't see as it makes any difference, because one aint no nearer knowin' what another is when we hears that he is religious.”

“But there can be no mistake about a real religious life being better than a wicked life, and the two who lead such cannot be mistaken for each other."

“No, Sir; but perhaps you mean a good man when you say a religious man, and then I agree with you. There's Oldham, the miller up the hill, he's what the people hereaway call a Roman Catholic, and they do say that his family never changed sin the time when there was such a lot o' folks burned about religion. Well, now, I knows him to be a right good man. Last winter we had the typhus here in Crosswood very bad, and down at the end of Bowlin Lane there's a cottage rented by some potter folk as goes to the fairs; the man lost a horse, and broke his leg, last autumn. Troubles never come alone, they always runs in a pack, and them two worked upon the woman, a weakly little body, and brought her to bed earlier than her time, and there was a terrible house of it, for the fever got in, and Doctor Small said as it was all owin' to the folks not havin' victuals enough. I've now and then done jobs for the potter, so I called in, friendly like, to see how all was a goin' on, and sure enough I did see a sight.” At this point Sam ceased sewing, and looked up earnestly at the Rector, speaking with tongue, hands, and eyes. “There was five of 'em down in the fever, and there was nothin' in the house, and nobody to tend upon 'em. I was real frightened when the woman cried out to know if I had brought anything for the young uns to eat. I went away to see what could be got for 'em, and when I got up to Oldham's he was goin' into his yard. I told him what I had seen, and he says, “Sam, I am sorry you are not a religious man; I'm sorry you don't belong to the true Church; but here's ten shillin' for them people, and when that's done they can have a little more, and if they can send up to my house the Missus won't send 'em away empty handed.' I didn't stop to tell un my mind just then, but I thought about it, that, although the parsons blow 'em up so much, his warn't a bad religion. Well, now, there's a lot of people about here who're always a prayin' and a preachin', and a goin' on about Oldham's devilish popish religion, as they calls it, and when I says that he is a good deal better than them, why they flares up savage like, and says the Old Rector was right when he called me the devil's child. But somehow I can't help believin' that them people as pays their way, as tells the truth, and does right, neighbourly like, being willin', night or day, to give poor folks a helpin' hand, has got hold of the true religion.”

“There are many clergymen who will endorse that opinion," interposed Lester.

“Well, I'm glad of it, Sir. But the truth is that I don't trouble my head about it. If people will let what I call my religion alone, I shan't trouble them about theirs, but if they come botherin' me about it, I can't help givin' 'em such like answers as I believe to be true. There's a lot of 'em in this town who, without sayin' by your leave, and as full of impudence as a parish beadle, comes into a man's house and plants 'emselves down

bigger skinfint at warrant I should on, and

just as if they paid his rent and kep' his family, and then they begins with a lot of stuff about how much they cares for poor souls. They cares a precious sight more to see if the seats is dusted afore they sits down, thinkin' more o' their clothes than of the peoples' souls. They says as how we are to believe this that and the other, and yet don't believe it themselves. And when I tells 'em a bit of plain truth, they flares up into a passion, and goes up and down the country side tellin' all sorts of lies about me. Last Sunday I had Mr. Wellbeloved and two women in here a-talkin' to me, as if they were little Gods, about my soul, and tellin' me I must have faith, and then they would warrant I should be saved. Now I knows that there isn't a bigger skinflint than he is, or a woman that makes more mischief in Crosswood than one of his companions does. And I couldn't help tellin' 'em a bit of my mind. I hates that kind of religion which does with lyin', shortweight, bad wages, and scandal all the six workin' days, and then tries to make it up with God o' Sundays by goin' about distributin' tracts, and measurin' out damnation to the people. They have been skinnin' them all through the week, and then does their best to spoil their Sundays. But I dare say the poor blind things descrves more pity than condemnation. They don't know rightly what they believes, and they gets terrible angry with me because I won't agree to be like 'em. And if that's religion, then all I knows is that the sooner we ha' done with it the better."

After Sain had ended the Rector paused a moinent, both to review what had been said and to arrange his answer. Perceiving that there was much truth if some false reasoning in the shoemaker's speech, he began by admitting that it was very bad for persons to speak falsely of their neighbours. "But then," he continued, “ înay it not be that they have a colourable reason for what they say ? You have just told me that you do not 'trouble your head about religion,' and it is very sinful to speak thus. Moreover, as I gather from your statement, when questioned by your neighbours you give replies which are at variance with the received principles of our religion, and that, too, is equally sinful. But to bring the matter at once to a point, I ask plainly, do you believe in God, and in the Holy Scriptures as given by God, and do you believe in Salvation through Jesus ?"

Sam replied that he "wouldn't say he did not believe in God, but," added he, “not in the God of the Jews, they calls Jehovah. I don't believe them people knew anything more about the real God than the Greeks and Romans did. But the truth is, Sir, that I don't know nothing about God, and I never met with anybody who did. There's a lot of people who pretends to be very wise about it. They drops in here and tells me that God did this for them, and God did the other, but when I ask how they knows it, they becomes right angry, and begins to call me hard names, sayin' I'm a wicked unbeliever, but doesn't answer my question. I should be very glad to meet with somebody who could tell me how he knew it, for if they are right, then I want to believe the same as many good men I know. I would if I could, but I can't do it till I get a good reason. And as to believin' that what people calls the Holy Scriptures came from God to be very plain, I just don't believe it, and I have never met with a man that did."

Here Lester felt compelled to ask, “ And do you really believe, Sam, that all those millions who publicly profess to believe the Scriptures are liars or

[ocr errors]

“No, Sir; I don't exactly believe that. But I knows they only believes at second-hand, and in their own way like. They explains it all so as to suit themselves, and when they gets it down to their own weight then they believes. They does, much like the King and the Parliament did when Cromwell was alive-I wish we had a Cromwell just now—for both of 'em said they were for the old laws of England, but they must have understood 'em differently, else they wouldn't have come to such hard blows about the business. So what I mean to say, Sir, is just this—that the believers first puts their own meanin' on the words they finds in the Scriptures, and then they say they believes the book, when the truth is that it's themselves, their own ideas, like, that they believes.”

“I fear," answered the Rector, “that there is a great deal of truth in what you have said ; but, still, the fact that many men have misused the Word is no reason why you should totally reject it. You are bound to read for yourself, and find out its real meaning. God will hold you responsible for doing that.”

Sam smiled at this, and, looking archly up, inquired,

“If I can find out for myself the real meaning, after all the parsons have failed, and while they are quarrelling about it, then I just want to know what's the good of them ? And what's the good of high learning if I, being only a poor ignorant shoemaker, can find out all for myself ? "

Lester felt that he was trapped in the meshes of his own net, and saw no clear way of escape ; remembering, however, that in one of the old books upon the evidences he had met with the statement that “all the vital parts of Scripture” were clear to be understood by every reader, he repeated it, but was immediately met with the quiet question,

And how, Sir, can we know what parts are vital ? May it not be that them Calvinist people up at Carmel Chapel are wrong in the parts they says are not vital-may it not be that, if God did give the Scriptures, the very parts we doesn't comprehend may be the most vital of all? And then," added Sam, “if we gives up that part of the question, I still don't know how I, as a shoemaker, can get to know the real words of God in any case. They say there's an awful lot of errors in the translation, but, as I don't know nothing about the Greek or the Hebrew, I can only depend on other men's words, and they do say we shouldn't do that. At least they says so when they are warnin' the Catholics, or tellin' stories at a missionary meeting.”

“ Allow me to ask you rhether it is true, that, as I have been informed, there is a monthly meeting of persons here in Crosswood, holding opinions similar to those which you have expressed, and at which religious matters are discussed ? I ask this because of the readiness with which you have replied to my questions, and your apparent familiarity with such discussions."

Oh! yes, Sir," answered Sam; "a few of us gathers together and talks these matters over-sometimes other matters too. None of us knows much, but we tries to find out what it is as people does know. I ask'd the Old Rector if he'd come, but he said he wouldn't, that he would't, he wasn't a-goin' to mix hisself up with unbelievers. He was a sort o'ban'box dandy Christian, and didn't nohow like to be ask'd any questions, because he didn't know how to answer them. No offence I hopes, Sir, but some of our people thinks as how all the parsons is afraid to come.”

“You will oblige me much,” said Lester, quietly, “by informing me when and where your next meeting will be held.”

With this request Sam complied, and, in answer to a question put by him, the Rector, at parting, said

"Yes! I will be present at your next meeting."


$ 7.-THE PERSIAN “FALL OF MAN.” There in the garden stand the pair of pure ones, and what shall Ahriman, the evil one, do unto them ? Shall he permit them to go on in peace, or shall he work their ruin? The early nations looked upon it as impossible to believe any other than this, that man had fallen, that he had sunk from a condition of purity into that of the impure and evil. According to the Boun Dehesch, man was the father of man-heaven was his destiny--but he must be humble of heart, and humbly do the works of the law; pure he must be of thought, pure of word, pure of deed, not invoking the Dews ;-and such in the beginning were the thoughts and acts of our first parents.

First they said, “It is Ormuzd who has given the water, and the earth, “and the trees, and the beasts of the field, and the stars, and the moon, and “the sun, and all things pure.” But Ahriman arose, and rushed upon their thoughts, and beat down their good dispositions, and said to them, “It is Ahriman who has given the water,” &c. Thus Ahriman deceived them and to the very end will seek to deceive. To his lie they gave credence and became darvandes; and therefore are their souls condemned to the Douzakh even until the great resurrection of the body. During thirty days they feasted, and covered themselves with black clothing. After thirty days they went to the chase; and they found a white goat, and with their lips they drew off her milk, and drank her milk and were glad : “ We have tasted “nothing like to this milk," said Meschia and Meschiane ; "the milk we have "drunk was pleasant to the taste, very pleasant to the taste," and it was an evil to their bodies.

" Then the Dew, the liar, grown more bold presented himself a second “ time, and brought with him fruit of which they ate; and of a hundred “excellences they before possessed one only was left them. And after thirty “days and thirty nights they found a white and fat sheep, and they cut off its “left ear: and taught by the Izeds of heaven they drew fire from the tree “konar, and they fired the tree, and with their breath raised the fire to a flame; " and they burned, first the branches of the konar, then of the khorma, and “afterwards of the myrtle; and they roasted the sheep, and divided it into “three portions; and of the two which they did not eat, one was carried to “ heaven, The bird kerhkas carried it away.”

“ Afterwards they feasted on the flesh of a dog and they clothed them“selves in its skin. They gave themselves up to the chase, and with the furs “of wild beasts they covered their bodies. And Meschia and Meschiane “ digged a hole in the earth, and they found iron, and the iron they beat with a

stone, and they made for themselves an axe, and they struck at the roots of a “ tree, and they felled the tree and arranged its branches into a hut; and to “God they gave no thanks; and the Dews took heart. And Meschia and “Meschiane became enemies and hated each other, and they advanced against "and struck and wounded each one the other, and each went his own way : “then from his place of darkness the chief of the Dews was heard to cry "aloud, Man worship the Dews!' And the Dew of hate sat upon his " throne. And Meschia advanced, and drew milk from the bull, and sprinkled “it towards the north, and the Dews became strong; and during fifty winters “Meschia and Meschiane lived apart, and after that time they met and Mes“chiane bore twins," &c.

In this legend, as in that of Genesis, we have the history of the first ancestors of our race. In both legends man is created pure and innocent; but according to Moses he is formed of earth and is pure, because ignorant ; while according to Zoroaster he comes from God or God's dwelling, ' trailing "with him clouds of glory,” and is pure because moral and religious. In both legends the eating of a particular fruit (in the one it is the especial food of the Elohim ; in the other it is a production of Ahriman) causes a great change for the worse in the condition of our race. According to Genesis, however, this is the one crime, while according to the Avesta this is but one of a series of crimes committed by our first parents. In both historics man is represented as yielding to the first temptation ; and in both, man by his own fault condemns himself to misery ; but, among the Hebrews, man sins by disobeying an express command,—and he sins because tempted by a beast of the field; while according to the Parsis he sins against his conscience,--sins because tempted by Ahriman, and sins by acknowledging Ahriman as the author of all good. In the Zend books man is not created for this earth, and all things earthly therefore defile him; as he eats, he loses his spiritual nature, and, as he acquires the mechanical arts of life, he but subjects himself the more to the power of the evil one. According to Moses, on the other hand, man is expressly made for this world; he possesses it as its lord, and he cats of his fruits, and does God service : and if knowledge makes him miserable, it is because that knowledge which is not instinct is not of God's giving, and therefore cannot be for man's good. In the one legend Ormuzd sends man on the earth as to a place of trial, in the other Jehovah as to a place of enjoyment. This legend then punishes man sufficiently, by making him to feel his nakedness, by driving him out into the briery wilderness of the world, and by condemning him to return to the dust of which he had been formed; but, in that, no such punishment could avail: for the weed-covered earth Ahriman had already corrupted and defiled, and to the earth the pure Ferouer had been ordered but to try his courage and his truth; death, then, could have no terrors for the faithless servant; it could but lead him back to the pleasant odours, the beauteous exhalations, and the heavenly delight of the happy Gorodman - unless indeed some terrible retribution awaited him beyond the grave. Yes it was decreed, that he who worshipped the Dews should suffer with the Dews, he must sink down to the stench, the corruption and the darkness of the Douzakh.

P. W. P.


JOHN OF WESALIA. JACOB OF JUTERBOCK had declared the fallibility of the Pope; it remained to go one step further before the standpoint of the Lutheran Reformation would be anticipated. This step was taken by John of Wesalia, a man who, about the middle of the fifteenth century, held the responsible office of Professor of Theology at the University of Erfurt, and whose words would, therefore, have great weight and wide influence on matters of Church doctrine. John of Wesalia was the first to declare, not only that the Pope is fallible, but that the Church is fallible too. “That the Catholic Church is infallible,” says he, in his work against Indulgences, “is a mere assertion in support of which no -“ proof, either from reason or Scripture, is advanced.” He, too, in respect to the doctrine of Indulgences, supplemented the work of Juterbock, and anticipated that of Luther.

« AnteriorContinuar »