He did not appeal to her pity; he did not try to tell her what it cost him to refuse. If he could have made her understand that, she might have been turned from her purpose. He realised only the awful weakness and wickedness of his heart. He seemed to see those appetites which, up to a few months before, had possessed him like demons, hovering near him in the air, and he seemed to see God holding them back from him, but only for so long as he resisted this temptation.
To her he said aloud: “I cannot do it, Ann. In God’s strength I cannot and will not do it.”
Within his heart he seemed to be shouting aloud to Heaven: “My God, I will not do it, I will not do it. Oh, my God!” He turned his back upon her and went quickly to the village, only looking to see that at some distance she followed him, trudging humbly as a squaw walks behind her Indian, as far as her own door.
When one drops one’s plummet into life anywhere it falls the whole length of the line we give it. The man who can give his plummet the longest line is he who realises most surely that it has not touched the bottom.
Bart Toyner betook himself to prayer. He had learned from his friend the preacher that when a man is tempted he must pray until he is given the victory, and then, calm and steadfast, go out to face the world again. If Toyner’s had been a smaller soul, the need of his life would have imperatively demanded then that just what he expected to happen to him should happen, and in some mysterious way no doubt it would have happened.
When we quietly observe religious life exactly as it is, without the bias of any theory, there are two constantly recurring facts which, taken together, excite deep astonishment: the fact that small minds easily attain to a certainty of faith to which larger minds attain more slowly and with much greater distress; and also the fact that the happenings of life do actually come in exact accordance to a man’s faith—faith being not the mere expectation that a thing is going to take place, but the inner eye that sees into the heart of things, and knows that its desire must inevitably take place, and why. This sort of faith, be it in a tiny or great nature, comes triumphantly in actual fact to what it predicts; but the little heart comes to it easily and produces trivial prayers, while the big heart, thinking to arrive with the same ease at the same measure of triumph, is beaten back time and time and again.
Probably the explanation is that the smaller mind has not the same germinating power; there is not enough in it to cause the long, slow growth of root and stem, and therefore it soon puts forth its little blossom. These things all happen, of course, according to eternal law of inward development; they are not altered by any force from without, because nothing is without: the sun that makes the daisy to blossom is just that amount of sun that it absorbs into itself, and so with the acorn or the pine-cone. These latter, however, do not produce any bright immediate blossom, though they ultimately change the face of all that spot of earth by the spread of their roots and branches.