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of England, and called its members Papists and idolaters. My father used often to rebuke my violence, and though he was a rigid Dissenter, he frequently advised me to hold my tongue, to read and meditate much more, to study the Scriptures with prayer and humility, and not enter into controversy, for which I was in every way unprepared. " The Established Church," he used to say, “is certainly, in many respects, open to animadversion, and its Church government is a relic of Popery, which cannot be defended by Scripture warranty; but I had much rather see such a stripling as thee lay in a greater store of information, and study history, sacred and profane, than thus prate about matters of which thou knowest nothing. Let thy principles, Rab, be better grounded and settled before thou goest about to attack the creed of thy neighbours. This sort of zeal is likely to blaze out very soon, and to leave nothing but ashes. When religion is only controversy, it often finishes in apostacy ; get thy heart humbled, and learn first before thou teachest. Besides, Rab, our business will be at a stand-still. Go and draw the dips."
When I had come to ripe manhood I was very much vexed to see my dear elder brother give up his principles and the business of our shop, and I was quite mad against him when people said he was certainly turning Churchman. One day we came to high words on the subject, for the Bishop had been in the town confirming children in the parish church, and I, being then in darkness, made some profane jokes on his venerable wig and apron. I asked my brother, if the Bishop's apron was to shovel in the good things of the land, for people had been talking of a great fine he had lately pocketed, not less than £30,000. “St. Paul,” I said, “ did not wear aprons, because he had no fines to carry off.” On this my brother flew into a rage, and called me a canting schismatical jackanapes," which I answered by a smart and stinging repartee. With this prelusion of theological skill we proceeded to blows, and, I must confess, that L. S. E. came off victorious, for who can resist this Goliah ?
After this controversy, I reflected that the weight of the argument was certainly with my brother, and that the chastisement I had received was a very convincing argumentum ad hominem. I made up my mind, from this time, to keep my temper in his presence, and not to rail against Church people and Bishops, though it was bitter pill for me to see him take orders and become a clergyman.
One day, not long after his ordination, he was sitting in our back parlour, reading a huge folio Prayer Book, and explaining to us the excellency
of the services for all occasions, particularly the ordination of Priests and Deacons, and consecration of Bishops. From this he proceeded in his usual way to attack the Dissenters, asserting that the Church of England had a right “ to command compliance with her rites and ceremonies,”** and that “the petty sects of Dissenters were bound to obey;" that if anything was wrong no man had any authority to find fault with what the clergy commanded, t but “must wait until the Lord come,” when all matters would be set right, and they who had obeyed the parsons would go to Paradise. He said that Korah, Dathan and Abiram| were Dissenters of the Congregational Independent order,--that Korah was the Minister, and Dathan and Abiram were the Deacons, and that they were swallowed up in a flaming gulf for dissenting from the Church as by law established. This comment I could not bear, and, quite forgetting our former controversy, I threw the ink-bottle full at his face, spoiling his Reverence's white neckcloth and bands, which he had been arranging at the looking-glass. His Reverence, however, had a tremendous weapon in his hands, the folio Prayer Book, a yard long, and very ponderous : with this he inflicted such a blow on my head that I fell senseless at his feet: a fair representative of Dissenters * Letter vii. p. 212.
† vii. p. 217. Letters of L. S. E. passim.
under the arm of the clergy. I did not recover from this controversy for six months, and to this day I see specks and dancing spots in the field of vision whenever my angry feelings are excited, as they always are when I meet a Dissenter.
This quarrel, however, was made up at last in an amicable
reverend brother, as a token of reconciliation, gave me a copy of his Letters, which had just appeared from the press. He begged me to take it with me into Buckinghamshire, where I was going to look after some house property that had fallen to my share by my father's will, and as we parted from one another he made this remark, “ Think what you like, Rab, about the Church and Dissent, but this is certain, that such plebeians as you and I have no chance of becoming gentlemen but by turning parsons. The Bishops are hard pushed just now, and are glad enough to encourage bold and desperate Dissenters in joining the Establishment.” I could not but see the sound sense of this remark, and it had its impression on me in due time.
In the course of my journey I had to spend two or three days at Windsor, and there, one Sunday, curiosity led me to attend the service at St. George's Chapel Royal. My principal object was to see the King and Queen. The whole service greatly delighted and surprised me.
The clergy looked amazingly smart in their white sheets, with black silk round their necks, and red silk at their backs. The two rows of young gentlemen in white sheets singing prayers against one another on the opposite sides of the chapel produced a powerful effect; I never before had heard a confession of sins chanted, nor an absolution warbled; and I need not say how greatly I was delighted to hear the Apostle's creed in crotchets and quavers. The frequent repetition of the Pater Noster tended to impress on my attention that important formulary: when they had sung it five times I wished they would sing it five times more; da capo say I, in spite of the Dissenters. When the officiating priest gave out in a solemn chant “God save our most gracious Majesty King William the Sovereign, and all the knights commanders of the most honourable order of the garter," and when the whole choir responded “ Amen," all my dissenting prejudices gave way, and I burst into a flood of tears. They were the tears of repentance, which never were fully wiped away but by the surplice of the vicarage of Tuddington.