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THE GREATEST DIFFICULTY EXPLAINED AWAY, 49
clearly through your arguments, and doctrines: but 't is the trammels of your practice- the necessity, the humiliation of auricular confession, for instance, which seems so hard to admit and comply with!” “You say rightly seems, my dear sir: it only
Were you to embrace the faith, you would not find it so in reality. But after all, my dear sir, what is this redoubtable confession? What is it but the declaration to a devoted friend, of those facts which all the world, or many acquaintances, may know; or what you may have admitted, nay boasted of, to the companions of your pleasures ! 'Tis, then, only the name that revolts us, after all !”
“Very true: but one's most secret thoughts and propensities!"
“I admit that objection: human nature must be tenderly dealt with: we feel the pang of humiliation: I have often felt it: but I have also felt the solace of being strengthened in good resolve by confessing my temptations. 'Tis faith, my dear sir, and its peculiar grace that will remove the blind from self-love, sanctifying our common worldly candour, and rewarding our seeming humiliation with the greatest of blessings--a heart at rest, desires controlled, and a soul in peace.”
“If such be the effect, Catholics must have a vast advantage over Protestants. Indeed your words have a strange effect on me. You have explained away my greatest difficulty --more by your manner,
RELIGION IS NOT A TRADE.
and sincerity of speech, than the argument itself, though I am compelled to admit the force of your allusion to every-day experience.”
“ And as to your other difficulties, whatever they may be, rest assured that having once embraced the faith on general conviction, you will find the way to their removal progressively smoothened ; and you will smile at the gorgons you behold through the distorting lens of your fancy. Our church is a mother: she commiserates the weakness and frailty of our nature: she exacts nothing above our strength. Directing the strong, she encourages the weak: lightens or bears the burthen of the latter, with the superabundant strength of the former by grace made perfect,-uniting all in a holy brotherhood, whose object and end are reciprocal aid and support.”
Mr. Devigne evinced a silent admiration : Mr. Percival continued :
“But disregard my remarks on the subject, my dear sir; or, if you admit their weight, let it be rightly estimated, not exaggerated. Your own conscientious conviction must lead you in all things. We are accused of proselytising :—but a knowledge of facts would disabuse public opinion. We remove difficulties from the path of conscientious doubters: but we tempt them not. Truth needs no enticements. Religion is not a trade. We have no barterers amongst us. Christ expelled them from the temple. But if we strive to practice that
HOW TO PROCEED APOSTOLICALLY.
blessed charity to all men, which is the first of commandments, why should our motives be called in question ? May not these motives be good as well as bad ?
But we are accused of coveting power, influence, favour, wealth. We are wronged. The effect is not the cause; why are they confounded? If we possess power, influence, favour, wealth, these effects must be traced to the gratitude of the human heart, not to the covetings of those to whom they are given."
“ You have proved to me, dear sir, how worthy you are of influence and favour by your kind sympathy; and if all your brotherhood be as worthy as yourself, you have been traduced indeed.”
But, my dear sir, we do not complain. No. Permit us to proceed apostolically ;-in 'good repute' or evil repute,' what matters it, if we reach the appointed goal—the approval of Him who sent
Time proves all things: opinions leave us undecided. We depend on our cause: we believe it to be the cause of God. There is all power in that conviction.
“But to return to our starting point, my dear sir, you may depend on my friendship," added the Jesuit, with the blandest smile imaginable: a smile that seemed no more compatible with his previous determined earnestness of manner than an infant's cap on a tiger's head.
Mr. Devigne took leave of his friend. The former flattered himself that his ready acquiescence
in the debater's arguments had won the good-will of the father-confessor as well; whilst the Jesuit “ felt certain”—for Jesuits are but men, after allthat Ringwood Hall would very soon entertain a Catholic chaplain.
I am at a loss to account for your long silence of late, my dear brother. It is nearly two months since you wrote last, and your letter scarcely filled a page. I was the more disappointed by your not having alluded to dear Leonard,-knowing, as you do, how solicitous I am about him. What can have so engrossed your attention as to make you neglect
But to the point. You will believe me when I say that my solicitude for Leonard is increased to the deepest anxiety, as soon as you have read the enclosed letter (the last you forwarded) received from a friend of ours in Paris. By the way, I may just observe that I am sorry to find that she, too, is somewhat tainted with worldliness. The letter has afflicted me dreadfully. Alas! my dismal forebodings are coming to pass, I fear; for vice is the worst feature of Romanism, and into that my poor