“Of course they did!” said Father Payne. “That would have pulled the whole menage together. And don’t tell me that it was a wise dispensation that they were childless! Cleansing fires? The fires in which they lived, with Carlyle raging about porridge and milk and crowing cocks, working alone, walking alone, flying off to see Lady Ashburton, sleeping alone; and Mrs. Carlyle, whom everyone else admired and adored, eating her heart out because she could not get him to value her company;—there was not much that was cleansing about all that! The cleansing came when she was dead, and when he saw what he had done.”
“I expect they have made it up by now,” said Kaye.
“You’re quite right!” said Father Payne. “It matters less with those great vivid people. They can afford to remember. But the little people, who simply end further back than they began, what is to be done for them?”
OF LOVING GOD
Father Payne suddenly said to me once in a loud voice, after a long silence—we were walking together—“Writers, preachers, moralists, sentimentalists, are much to blame for not explaining more what they mean by loving God—perhaps they do not know! Love is so large a word, and covers so great a range of feelings. What sort of love are we to give God—the love of the lover, or the son, or the daughter, or the friend, or the patriot, or the dog? Is it to be passion, or admiration, or reverence, or fidelity, or pity? All of these enter into love.”
“What do you think yourself?” I said.
“How am I to tell?” said Father Payne. “I am in many minds about it—it cannot be passion, because, whatever one may say, something of physical satisfaction is mingled with that. It cannot be a dumb fidelity—that is irrational. It cannot be an equal friendship, because there is no equality possible. It cannot be that of the child for the mother, because the mind is hardly concerned in that. Can one indeed love the Unknown? Again, it cannot be all receiving and no giving. We must have something to give God which He desires to have and which we can withhold. To say that the answer is, ‘My son, give Me thy heart,’ begs the question, because the one thing certain about love is that we cannot give it to whom we will—it must be evoked; and even if it is wanted, we cannot always give it. We may respect and reverence a person very much, but, as Charlotte Bronte said, ‘our veins may run ice whenever we are near him.’
“And then, too, can we love any one who knows us perfectly, through and through? Is it not of the essence of love to be blind? Is it possible for us to feel that we are worthy of the love of anyone who really knows us?
“And then, too, if disaster and suffering and cruel usage and terror come from God, without reference to the sensitiveness of the soul and body on which they fall, can we possibly love the Power which behaves so? What child could love a father who might at any time strike him? I cannot believe that God wants an unquestioning and fatuous trust, and still less the sort of deference we pay to one who may do us a mischief if we do not cringe before him. All that is utterly unworthy of the mind and soul.”