3. Criticism and correction. To be used with infinite care, but never to be neglected without grave injustice. It is not an easy thing to reprove in the right time, in the right tone, without exasperation, without impatience, without leaving a sting behind; to dare to give pain for the sake of greater good; to love the truth and have courage to tell it; to change reproof as time goes on to the frank criticism of friendship that is ambitious for its friend. To accept criticism is one of the greatest lessons to be learnt in life. To give it well is an art which requires more study and more self-denial than either the habit of being easily satisfied and requiring little, or the querulous habit of “scolding” which is admirably described by Bishop Hedley as “the resonance of the empty intelligence and of the hollow heart of the man who has nothing to give, nothing to propose, nothing to impart.”
4. Discipline and obedience. If these are to be means of training they must be living and not dead powers, and they must lead up to gradual self-government, not to sudden emancipation. Obedience must be first of all to persons, prompt and unquestioning, then to laws, a “reasonable service,” then to the wider law which each one must enforce from within—the law of love which is the law of liberty of the kingdom of God.
These are the means which in her own way, and through various channels of authority, the Church makes use of, and the Church is the great Mother who educates us all. She takes us into her confidence, as we make ourselves worthy of it, and shows us out of her treasures things new and old. She sets the better things always before us, prays for us, prays with us, teaches us to pray, and so “lifts up our minds to heavenly desires.” She watches over us with un anxious, but untiring vigilance, setting her Bishops and pastors to keep watch over the flock, collectively and individually, “with that most perfect care” that St. Francis of Sales describes as “that which approaches the nearest to the care God has of us, which is a care full of tranquillity and quietness, and which, in its highest activity, has still no emotion, and being only one, yet condescends to make itself all to all things.”
Criticism and correction, discipline and obedience—these things are administered by the Church our Mother, gently but without weakness, so careful is she in her warnings, so slow in her punishments, so unswervingly true to what is of principle, and asking so persuasively not for the sullen obedience of slaves, but for the free and loving submission of sons and daughters.