“Next day the sun was shining pleasantly in the wood, and it came to me that clouds had gone from the face of God, and as I wandered among the trees a squirrel sat on a branch within reach of my hand and did not flee. Then I heard a voice, ’I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.’
“It was, in an instant, my hope that this might be God’s word by me, but I knew not it was so till the Evangel opened up on all sides, and I was led into the outgoings of the eternal love after so moving a fashion that I dared to think that grace might be effectual even with me . . . with me.
“God opened my mouth on Sabbath on this text unto my own flock, and the word was not void. It is little that can be said on sovereign love in two hours and it may be a few minutes; yet even this may be more than your people are minded to bear. So I shall pretermit certain notes on doctrine; for you will doubtless have given much instruction on the purposes of God, and very likely may be touching on that mystery in your action sermon.”
During the evening the Rabbi was very genial—tasting Sarah’s viands with relish, and comparing her to Rebekah, who made savoury meat, urging Carmichael to smoke without scruple, and allowing himself to snuff three times, examining the bookshelves with keen appreciation, and finally departing with three volumes of modern divinity under his arm, to reinforce the selection in his room, “lest his eyes should be held waking in the night watches.” He was much overcome by the care that had been taken for his comfort, and at the door of his room blest his boy: “May the Lord give you the sleep of His beloved, and strengthen you to declare all His truth on the morrow.” Carmichael sat by his study fire for a while and went to bed much cheered, nor did he dream that there was to be a second catastrophe in the Free Kirk of Drumtochty which would be far sadder than the offending of Miss Carnegie about Mary Queen of Scots, and would leave in one heart lifelong regret.
It was the way of the Free Kirk that the assisting minister at the Sacrament should sit behind the Communion Table during the sermon, and the congregation, without giving the faintest sign of observation, could estimate its effect on his face. When Dr. Dowbiggin composed himself to listen as became a Church leader of substantial build—his hands folded before him and his eyes fixed on the far window—and was so arrested by the opening passage of Cunningham’s sermon on Justification by Faith that he visibly started, and afterwards sat sideways with his ears cocked, Drumtochty, while doubtful whether any Muirtown man could appreciate the subtlety of their minister, had a higher idea of the Doctor; and when the Free Kirk minister of Kildrummie—a stout man and given to agricultural pursuits—went fast asleep under a masterly discussion of the priesthood of Melchizedek, Drumtochty’s opinion of the intellectual condition of Kildrummie was confirmed beyond argument.