“Well, Rabbi?” and Carmichael tried to make it easy.
“Before I say what is on my heart, John, you will grant an old man who loves you one favour. So far as in you lies you will bear with me if that which I have to say, and still more that which my conscience will compel me to do, is hard to flesh and blood.”
“Didn’t we settle that last night in the vestry?” and Carmichael was impatient; “is it that you do not agree with the doctrine of the Divine Fatherhood? We younger men are resolved to base Christian doctrine on the actual Scriptures, and to ignore mere tradition.”
“An excellent rule, my dear friend,” cried the Rabbi, wonderfully quickened by the challenge, “and with your permission and for our mutual edification we shall briefly review all passages bearing on the subject in hand—using the original, as will doubtless be your wish, and you correcting my poor recollection.”
About an hour afterwards, and when the Rabbi was only entering into the heart of the matter, Carmichael made the bitter discovery—without the Rabbi having even hinted at such a thing—that his pet sermon was a mass of boyish crudities, and this reverse of circumstances was some excuse for his pettishness.
“It does not seem to me that it is worth our time to haggle about the usage of Greek words or to count texts: I ground my position on the general meaning of the Gospels and the sense of things”; and Carmichael stood on the hearthrug in a very superior attitude.
“Let that pass then, John, and forgive me if I appeared to battle about words, as certain scholars of the olden time were fain to do, for in truth it is rather about the hard duty before me than any imperfection in your teaching I would speak”; and the Rabbi glanced nervously at the young minister.
“We are both Presbyters of Christ’s Church, ordained after the order of primitive times, and there are laid on us certain heavy charges and responsibilities from which we may not shrink, as we shall answer to the Lord at the great day.”
Carmichael’s humiliation was lost in perplexity, and he sat down, wondering what the Rabbi intended.
“If any Presbyter should see his brother fall into one of those faults of private life that do beset us all in our present weakness, then he doth well and kindly to point it out unto his brother; and if his brother should depart from the faith as they talk together by the way, then it is a Presbyter’s part to convince him of his error and restore him.”