’Well, I have made up my mind, doctor, to face the resignation of Rehoboth rather than carry their heartless decision to Amanda.’
’Wait until morning, and then come on to my house and consult with old Mr. Morell; he is staying with me for a day or two. You never met with him. Perhaps he can guide, or at any rate help you. Wisdom lies with the ancients, you know.’
’But are not the men who have refused admission to Amanda the spiritual children of Mr. Morell? If his preaching has brought about what we have seen and heard to-night, what guidance or help can I get from him?’
‘Just so,’ said the doctor. ’I was not thinking of that. It’s true he was pastor here for over forty years, and our deacons are his spiritual offspring. For all that, the old man’s heart is right if his head is wrong; and, after all, it’s the heart that rules the life.’
’Nay! no heart could thrive on a creed such as Rehoboth’s. Why, God’s heart would grow Jean on it.’
’But Mr. Morell’s heart is not lean, Mr. Penrose. It is not, I assure you,’ emphasized the doctor, as his companion uttered a sceptical grunt. ’He is tenderness incarnate. You know one good thing came out of Nazareth, despite the scepticism of the disciple.’
’Certainly a good thing did come out of Nazareth; but Nazareth, bad as it was, was not a Calvinistic creed. I very much question whether the creed of Rehoboth can preserve a tender heart.’
‘Come and see,’ laconically replied Dr. Hale.
’Very well, then, I’ll treat my scepticism honestly. I will come and see. To-night the hour is too late. I will look in to-morrow morning.’
Mr. Penrose continued his homeward walk, conscious of the first symptoms of the reaction which follows hours of tension such as those through which he had just passed. He was limp. Morally as well as physically his nerve was gone. He thought of the Apostle who fought with beasts at Ephesus, and envied him his combatants. His fretful impatience with those who differed from him theologically rose to a tide of insane hatred, and he lost himself in a passion against his deacons as bitter as that which they had shown towards Amanda Stott and himself.
Entering his lodgings, and lighting his lamp, he threw himself on the couch, resenting in bitterness of spirit the limitations of creeds, and the exactions imposed on men who, like himself, were called to minister to brawling sects. Thrice he sat down at his desk; thrice he wrote out his resignation, and thrice he committed it to the flames. Then, recalling the words of an old college professor who often used to tell his students that the second Epistle of the Corinthians was the ministerial panacea in the hour of depression, he took up his Testament and read:
’Ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distress ... by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by love unfeigned, by the Holy Ghost, by the word of truth, by the power of God.’