‘What would you have done with the children?’
’To say the truth I had idolized their brother to such an exclusive degree, that I could not turn to the others when he was taken from me. I deserved to lose him; and since I have seen this unfortunate strain of melancholy developed in poor Sophia, who so much resembles him, I have been the more reconciled to his having been removed. I never understood what the others might be until you drew them out.’
Albinia paused, afraid to press his reserve too far; and the next thing she said was, ’I think I understand your distinction between personal religion and sacramental truth. It explains what has often puzzled me about good devout people who did not belong to the Church. The Visible Church cannot save without this individual personal religion but without having recourse to the Church, there is—’ she could not find the word.
‘There is a loss of external aid,’ he said; ’nay, of much more. There is no certainty of receiving the benefits linked by Divine Power to her ordinances. Faith, in fact, while acknowledging the great Object of Faith, refuses or neglects to exercise herself upon the very subjects which He has set before her; and, in effect, would accept Him on her terms, not on His own.’
‘It was not refusal on your part,’ said Albinia.
’No, it was rather indifference and imaginary superiority. But I have read and thought much of late, and see more clearly. If I thought of this rite of Confirmation at all, it was only as a means of impressing young minds. I now see every evidence that it is the completion of Baptismal grace, and without, like poor Sophia, expecting that effects would ever have been perceptible, I think that had I known how to seek after the Spirit of Counsel and Ghostly Strength, I might have given way less to the infirmities of my character, and have been less wilfully insensible to obvious duties.’
‘Then you have made up your mind?’
‘Yes. I shall speak to Mr. Dusautoy at once.’
‘And,’ she said, feeling for his sensitive shyness, ’no one else need know it—at least—’
‘I should not wish to conceal it from the children,’ he answered, with his scrupulous candour. He was supine when thought more ill of than he deserved, but he always defended himself from undeserved credit.
‘Whom do you think I have for a candidate?’ said Mr. Dusautoy that evening.
’Another now! I thought you were talking to Mr. Kendal about the onslaught on the Pringle pew.’
‘What do you think of my churchwarden himself?’
‘You don’t mean that he has never been confirmed!’
’So he tells me. He went out to India young, and was never in the way of such things. Well, it will be a great example.’
‘Take care what you do. He will never endure having it talked of.’
’I think he has made up his mind, and is above all nonsense. I am sure it is well that I need not examine him. I should soon get beyond my depth.’