The term she used was enough to rouse him; but, checking himself, he sneeringly said, “I think these mummeries are well contrived for their purpose, to amuse a childish people, and keep them in a state of childhood.”
“And why should they not be amused?” said Lady Mabel, “since you will view it in that light? The church, their nursing-mother, takes charge of them, body and soul, and strives to make religion part and parcel of the occupations of every hour of every day life. By spectacles, processions, pictures, music, by the lonely way-side cross, by the crucifix hidden in the bosom, by the neighboring convent bell, chiming the hour of prayer, the Romanist is reminded forty times a day that he does not live for this life alone. Does he seek amusement from books? she takes out of his hands the lewd tale or lying romance, and puts into it the more wonderful legend of a saint or a martyr. Does any son of the church neglect the practice of charity? she sends him an humble penniless friar to remind him of that duty. Does he strive to forget his sins? she startles his slumbering conscience by duly summoning him to the confessional. The youths and maidens, taking an evening walk, led by early habit, stroll toward some neighboring chapel, and suspend their thoughtless mirth, while they bend the knee to offer up a prayer, and make the sign of the cross, in emblem of their faith in Him who died upon it.”
Moodie shook his head. “You have well named its external religion. It is a whited sepulchre, full within of dead men’s bones. The Kirk swept out all that rubbish long ago, and the less it is like Rome the nearer the pure faith.”
“They would be odd Christians,” said L’Isle, “who held nothing in common with Rome. I doubt, too, whether it be possible to preserve the substance with an utter disregard to form. When inspiration ceased, it was time to frame liturgies and creeds. But there is one material point in which the Kirk of Scotland and the Church of Rome still strongly resemble each other.”
Moodie pricked up his ears at this astounding assertion, and scornfully asked: “What point is that, sir?”
“Their vicarious public worship,” answered L’Isle. “They both pray by proxy. The Papists employ a priest to pray for them in a dead language which they do not understand, and the Presbyterians a minister to offer up petitions unknown to his people until after they are uttered, who stand listening, or seeming to listen, to this vicarious prayer, which may be, and often is, unfitted to the wants of their hearts, and the convictions of their consciences.”
“And to escape these dangers, more possible than likely, you flee to those dead formularies you call your liturgy,” retorted Moodie.