Shame was quite right in his scoff about restitution also. For restitution rings like a trumpet tone through the whole of the law of Moses, and then the New Testament republishes that law if only in the exquisite story of Zaccheus. And, indeed, take it altogether, I do not know where to find in the same space a finer vindication of Puritan pulpit ethics than just in this taunting and terrifying attack on Faithful. There is no better test of true religion both as it is preached and practised than just to ask for and to grant forgiveness, and to offer and accept restitution. Now, does your public and private life defend and adorn your minister’s pulpit in these two so practical matters? Could your minister point to you as a proof of the ethics of evangelical teaching? Can any one in this city speak up in defence of your church and thus protest: ’Say what you like about that church and its ministers, all I can say is, that its members know how to make an apology; as, also, how to pay back with interest what they at one time damaged or defrauded’? Can any old creditor’s widow or orphan stand up for our doctrine and defend our discipline pointing to you? If you go on to be a Puritan, said Shame to Faithful, you will have to ask your neighbour’s forgiveness even for petty faults, and you will have to make restitution with usury where you have taken anything from any one, and how will you like that?
And what did you say to all this, my brother? Say? I could not tell what to say at the first. I felt my blood coming up into my face at some of the things that Shame said and threatened. But, at last, I began to consider that that which is highly esteemed among men is often had in abomination with God. And I said to myself again, Shame tells me what men do and what men think, but he has told me nothing about what He thinks with Whom I shall soon have alone to do. Therefore, thought I, what God thinks and says is wisest and best, let all the men of the world say what they will. Let all false shame, then, depart from my heart, for how else shall I look upon my Lord, and how shall He look upon me at His coming?
’A man full of talk.’—Zophar.
’Let thy words be few.’—The Preacher.