Here are some themes that have been selected from the writings. The researcher should read the whole text to give the extract its true context.
"You know where God lives, Harry?"
Harry disengaged one hand and pointed to the sky above him. He was not often sure of giving the right answer, but he had a happy confidence that this was correct.
"Yes," she went on, "God lives in the sky and looks down on us. He is looking at us now."Notwithstanding by Mary Cholmondeley. Chapter 32.
It must be confessed that Marcelle was utterly ignorant even of the literature of her own religion. Like most peasants of her class, she took her knowledge from the lips of the priest, and from the pictures of the Holy Virgin, the child Jesus, and the saints. In many Catholic districts the least known of all books is the Bible.The shadow of the sword by Robert Buchanan. Chapter 4.
As he ranted, Stephen sat immovable, seeing Christianity, every religion, the bedrock of all religions--belief in some great purpose, some pity at the back of things--all these, caricatured as he had never seen them before. Blankness fell on him. He felt that Eli, Eli's sermon, Eli's God, were frauds. The devil seemed to be Eli's intimate friend--well, there was no devil. God seemed to be in Eli's confidence. "Well," said Stephen to himself, with passion, "there is no God."
No anything. No immortality.The golden arrow by Mary Webb. Chapter 36.
An excerpt from Lord Raingo by Arnold Bennett describing Raingo's thoughts on death.
The next instant she startled him by dropping down, not in her own screened corner, but at the chair by the side of his bed. His first thought of her at prayer had moved him; on later occasions he had been indifferent; he was now resentful, in addition to being frightened. The woman had taken this method of indicating to him that he ought to prepare for death by invoking the mercy of God. He well knew that Geoffrey would neither dare to suggest such a course to him, nor dream of suggesting it; not would the doctors; and there was nobody else. He had never at any time said a word about religion to Geoffrey. He had absolutely no dogmatic religious beliefs, and he did not think that Geoffrey had any. He never went to chapel or church! Adela used now and then to go, but the sole effect on her of a service was apparently to move her to speak disparagingly of parsons and their wives. Convinced that he could not possibly form any satisfactory idea of the nature of God, he had long since definitely and without regret given up the attempt. He was afraid of death, or more correctly he hated the notion of dying; but he was not afraid of what experience, if any, might be awaiting him after death and in any case the theory that those experiences might be rendered more palatable by dint of spiritual exercises on his death-bed was revolting to his individual variety of common sense. The theory that the adventures, in and out of his bed, of the miniature of the Madonna could influence his earthly fate was equally revolting to his common sense; here, however, his common sense had to humble itself before the strong domination of atavistic instincts. He admitted that he was absurdly inconsistent, but he could not help being inconsistent; everybody had to be absurd in his own way, and nobody could escape being absurd.Lord Raingo by Arnold Bennett. Chapter 84.
She explained to them, in such simple and easy language as Bess could understand, how they could obtain salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.Fern's Hollow by Hesba Stretton. Chapter 15.
"We will not talk about Stephen," said Miss Anne; "but I will tell you about God. When He gave His commandments to mankind that they might obey them, He proclaimed His own name at the same time. Listen to His name, Martha: "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin." If you would not go to Him for mercy when you did not feel your need of it, He was keeping it for you against this time; saving and treasuring it up for you, 'that He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us, through Christ Jesus.' He is waiting to pardon your iniquity, for Christ's sake. Do you wish to be forgiven now? Do you feel that you are a sinful girl, Martha?"Fern's Hollow by Hesba Stretton. Chapter 15.
I never attempted to make a convert, nor ever will, for this reason: I consider every person as possessed of the powers of free agency, and an absolute right to his own faith. If he asks my sentiments, I have a right to give them, but in no case to force his own; neither am I a slave to other men's creeds, forms, or articles of faith; for though they may be drawn from the sacred fountain, that fountain is open to me, and I can draw for myself.
It appears from the above confession of faith, that I am not only a Presbyterian, but a Churchman, a Quaker, a Baptist, a Roman Catholic, a Muggletonian, nay all the religions in the alphabet: in other words, I would have all perfectly free, because, as I wish to be supported in my own worship, I am bound to support every man in his. I never despised another because he differed from me; it was part of his birth-right, and I think it an honour that I have friends of every persuasion. The late worthy Mr. Newling, Rector of St. Philip's, courted my friendship, had it, has taken my arm and sheltered it under his own, with this affecting remark: "Though we pursue different roads, we may meet at last."The life of William Hutton by William Hutton. "A narrative of the riots in Birmingham."
If I were asked the difference between a bigoted and a moderate clergyman, I should explain both in two instances. The Sunday subsequent to the riots, a Sermon was preached in one of our Churches from the words of St. Paul, "Let every soul be obedient to the higher powers." Here those absurd doctrines of the Stuarts, passive obedience, and non-resistance, flamed as warmly as our buildings had done a few days before. Scarcely having a coat to my back, it could not be expected I should attend this sermon. But a constant hearer declared, "That he went to church with a happy disposition to improve by social worship; but, had he followed the dictates of the preacher, he must have come back a ruffian."
In the evening, another clergyman took the pulpit, and harangued from the words of the same Apostle, "Let your moderation be known unto all men." And now the fatal doctrines of the morning were hoisted over-board, and in their stead was placed that mild and Christian temper which ought to adorn every hearer, and be cultivated in every pulpit.The life of William Hutton by William Hutton. "A narrative of the riots in Birmingham."
Now Christian had heard of the great preacher, as of one malignant in all respects, disaffected to Church and State and King; and he had heard of his people, as of people to be avoided and distrusted by all good subjects. . . . . . . .. His mother, he knew, often spoke of Mr. Wesley with a certain respect, but she had never openly fallen away from the Church, and had sent her children to church and Sunday school, and had a stately welcome for the pastor of the parish whenever he paid her an official visit. Altogether, Christian shared to the full the popular prejudice against dissenters of all kinds; for he had not learned to think for himself on religious subjects, and took his religion as it came to him, with the other traditions of his race and blood.God and the man by Robert Buchanan. Chapter 6.
Priscilla speaking of John Wesley, the great revivalist:
"Master Wesley is for the Lord Jesus, the King of kings," she replied simply, "and I fear you have heard him belied like his Master before him. I would you could hear him preach: he is so terrible, yet he can be so gentle when he lists. His voice is as the sounding of trumpets, yet his smile is kindly as the sunshine upon the sea. Though he cometh to call sinners to repentance, he is sorest of all upon himself."God and the man by Robert Buchanan. Chapter 6.
"As one grows old one sees, oh! how clearly one sees that the only people whom one can be any real use to are those whom one loves--with one's whole heart. Liking is no real use. Pity and duty are not much either. They are better than nothing, but that is all. Love is the one weapon, the one tool, the one talisman. Now we can't make ourselves love people. Love is the great gift. I don't, of course, mean the gift of a woman's love to a man, or of a man's to a woman. I mean the power to love anyone devotedly, be they who they may, is God's greatest gift to us His children. And He does not give it us very often. To some He never gives it. Many people go through life loved and cherished who seem to be denied His supreme blessing--that of being able to love, of seeing that wonderful light rest upon a fellow-creature. And as we poor elders look back, we see that there were one or two people who crossed our path earlier in life whom we loved, or could have loved, and whom we have somehow lost: perhaps by their indifference, perhaps by our own temperament, but whom nevertheless we have lost. When the first spark is lit in our hearts of that mysterious flame which it sometimes takes us years to quench, one does not realize it at the time. I did not."Notwithstanding by Mary Cholmondeley. Chapter 25.
"Ah, Stephen," she continued, "God requires of us something more than such prayers. He bids us really and truly to love our enemies--love which He only can know of, because it is He who seeth in secret and into the inmost secrets of our hearts. I may hear you pray for your enemies, and see you try to do them good; but He alone can tell whether of a truth you love them."
"I cannot love them as I love you and little Nan," replied Stephen.
"Not with the same kind of love,' said Miss Anne; 'in us there is something for your love to take hold of and feed upon. "But if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?" Your affection for us is the kind that sinners can feel; it is of this earth, and is earthly. But to love our enemies is heavenly; it is Christ-like, for He died for us while we were yet sinners. Will you try to do more than pray for my uncle and Black Thompson? Will you try to love them. Will you try for Christ's sake?"
"Oh, Miss Anne, how can I?" he asked.
"It may not be all at once," she answered tenderly; "but if you ask God to help you, His Holy Spirit will work within you. Only set this before you as your aim, and resist every other feeling that will creep in; remembering that the Lord Jesus Himself, who died for us, said to us, "Love your enemies." He can feel for you, for "He was tempted in all points as we are."Fern's Hollow by Hesba Stretton. Chapter 10.
"Yes, if you demand the sacrifice," she said frankly; "but I own it will cost a struggle. Father, these young people are not like me, who have nothing but love for my parent. They seem very much afraid of theirs. Even their mother they do not trust. Might I not teach them better--a more loving childlike faith? While you are improving by your writings, by your exertions, by your example, men like yourself, and even the rough hinds of these hills; might I not do something to aid these young girls who are of my own age and station? I do not wish to go into their world, but if they cross my sequestered path may I not turn aside to help them?"
The lonely man stood still and looked down the valley towards the opening in the hills where Hugo and his father had ridden.
"Yes," he said; "if God has put it into your heart to be the good guardian angel of these young creatures I will not forbid it. But do not seek them. On no pretence be tempted to cross the threshold of Colonel Derinzy's house. Remember this--and do not break my solitude by bringing strangers home with you. On these conditions, Violet, I will trust to you, and still more to that Providence, which in your simple creed--which I honour even when it is most perplexing to men of this world--shapes our course through life, crookedly enough it seems sometimes, like yonder running brook; but in the end leading us all, let us hope, through the passes of the hills to better and clearer light."Cardingmill Valley by Rosa Mackenzie Kettle. Chapter 3.
Yes Master, Mr. Barlow is a worthy servant and follower of Jesus Christ himself. He is the friend of all the poor in the neighbourhood; he gives us food and medicines when we are ill, and he employs us when we can find no work; but, what we are even more obliged to him for than the giving us food and raiment, and life itself, he instructs us in our duty, makes us ashamed of our faults, and teaches us how we may be happy, not only here, but in another world. I was once an idle abandoned man myself, given up to swearing and drinking, neglecting my family, and taking no thought for my poor wife and children; but since Mr. Barlow has taught me better things and made me acquainted with this blessed book, I hope I do my duty better to my poor family.The history of Sandford and Merton by Thomas Day. Chapter 9.
In the novel Bladys of Stewponey by Sabine Baring-Gould, Bladys had been forced into a marriage. Her new mother-in-law remonstrates with her:
"Pshaw!" said the old woman. "They have scared you like a child. They have represented my son as a bugbear. He is a good man and reads his Bible, and I am a religious woman. Why should he be worse than the judge that condemns? than the jury who convict? than the men who make the laws? He doth but execute what they order. His is the hand that performeth what the head directeth. We are given free lodgings, and are paid; and, moreover, we have a right to the clothing of such as are sent to their death by the hands of Luke. If there be crime, must it not be punished? And is he not worthy of esteem who executes the decree upon the criminal? What would the world come unto save violence and savagery if it were not that Justice stands forth to protect the weak? My son is but the minister of Justice. What saith the Scripture? 'Wilt thou not be afraid of the power, do that which is good. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain; he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.' What are you, to scorn what the Word of Scripture deemeth honourable?"Bladys of Stewponey by Sabine Baring-Gould. Chapter 11.
In The shadow of the sword by Robert Buchanan, the priest uses scripture to prove his point that fighting for Napoleon is justifiable:
"Is that what your Christ says? Did he not say rather, 'If a man smite thee on one cheek, hold up to him the other'?"
The priest coughed and looked confused; then he cried--
"That is the letter, mon garz, but we must look to the spirit. Ah yes, the spirit is the thing! Now, we are alone. and I will tell you honestly I do not love the Emperor; he has been rough with the Holy Father, and he is not a King by Divine Right; but there he is, and we must obey, all of us--the Church as well as you others. I will give another quotation, my Rohan. 'Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar's, and to God the things which are God's.' Now this is the way to look at it. Your soul belongs to God, and He will watch over it; but as for your perishable body, it belongs in the meantime to--humph!--well, to Cæsar--in other words, to the Emperor!"The shadow of the sword by Robert Buchanan. Chapter 15.
In The golden arrow by Mary Webb, Eli uses scripture to provoke fear:
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock!" said Eli--quite unconscious of any blasphemy.
"It's Eli," said Deborah, pale with fear.
"When you've enjoyed your new character as much as you want to," sang out Stephen, in great spirits, "walk in, old party!"
Eli came in.
"Thou art the man!" said he.
Stephen was amused.
"The woman has tempted thee," he went on. "Flee from this place!"
"Not much! Have some wedding cake?"
Stephen spoke with irritating pleasantness.
"I will neither eat bread nor drink wine until I have turned the hearts of this people."
"Your loss!" Stephen retorted.
Eli was annoyed. Religion was his hobby, and he was much in earnest about it. He was accustomed to see people quail before his utterances. Deborah did quail, as he was pleasurably aware. Not so Stephen.The golden arrow by Mary Webb. Chapter 25.
Then she came to one of the Crucifixion, a subject on which the artist had lavished all the slumbering instincts of torture that are in so many people.
"Oh! what a drodsome un! I dunna like this shop," said Hazel tearfully. "What'm they doing to 'im? Oh, they'm great beasts!"
Perhaps she had seen in her dim and childish way the everlasting tyranny of the material over the abstract; of bluster over nerves; strength over beauty; States over individuals; churches over souls; and fox-hunting squires over the creatures they honour with their attention.
"What is it, my dear?" Mrs. Marston looked over her spectacles, and her eyes were like half moons peering over full moons.
"That there picture! They'm hurting Him so cruel. And Him fast and all."
"Oh!" said Mrs. Marston wonderingly, "that's nothing to get vexed about. Why, don't you know that's Jesus Christ dying for us?"
"Not for me!" flashed Hazel.
"No. What for should He? There shall none die along of me, much less be tormented."
"Needs be that one Man die for the people,' quoted Mrs. Marston easily. 'Only through blood can sin be washed white."
"Blood makes things raddled, not white; and if so be any's got to die, I'll die for myself."Gone to earth by Mary Webb. Chapter 12.
"All that is superstition, and superstition is an evil thing," returned Master Arfoll quietly. "In religion, in politics, in all the affairs of life, my child, superstition is a curse. It makes men fear the gentle dead, and phantoms, and darkness; and it makes them bear wicked rulers and cruel deeds, because they see in them an evil fate. It is superstition which holds bad kings on their thrones, and covers the earth with blood, and breaks the hearts of all who love their kind. Superstition, look you, may turn an evil man into a god, and make all men worship him and die for him as if he were divine."The shadow of the sword by Robert Buchanan. Chapter 5.
"You fool!" mocked he. "Do you know with whom you try your petty opposition? No; but you shall learn that soon. Mark you, wench, it is best that you submit at once. Call not on God."
"Heaven has not helped me--I call on Hell." Then it was that a strange thing took place; something that made Luke Francis quail.
This was none other than the sudden apparition of a small, black, half-human figure, that emerged from the boot, as if in answer to the invocation of Bladys. It mounted the little shelf opposite, facing the travellers, blinked, drew up its gums, displaying white fangs, then uttered a low strange guttural growl. It looked at Bladys, and put forth a long arm, and spread forth a black hand.
Neither Francis nor Bladys had seen or heard anything of the Savoyard and his monkey. The sudden vision in the carriage before them turned their hearts to stone. They conceived that an evil spirit was before them.Bladys of Stewponey by Sabine Baring-Gould. Chapter 7.
Marcelle trembled as she gazed up, crossing herself rapidly. Then creeping forward to the base of the Cross, she found a basin of blood-red granite, cracked across, but still capable of holding the rain and dew. It was brimful from the recent showers, and its contents resembled blood.
Now, this solitary basin, called in the dialect of the country the "Pool of the Blood of Christ," was very holy in the eyes of the villagers--more holy even than the wells for holy water in the church itself; for surely as the dews of Heaven fell into that basin they possessed the property of Christ's own blood, and could heal sickness where the sick one had much faith. That was not all. It was a common superstition that if a man or woman went thither when the moon was full, and dipped into the basin any portion of any article of attire or of anything to be worn about the body, that portion of inert matter would become "blessed," and have the power of warding off danger and even death from the wearer. Only one condition was attached to this blessing--that the "dipping" must be done in complete solitude and be kept a secret from all other living beings.The shadow of the sword by Robert Buchanan. Chapter 20.
The individual's view of religion and how it helps in times of despair comes through in the following samples:
Then I cried to God:--"Lord, help me! Show me the path in which I should walk! For Thy great mercy and Thy loving-kindness's sake, lead me into the land of uprightness. Let me be, till death us do part, my husband's true and faithful wife!" I felt so tired and faint that I could pray no more; so, just as I was, I threw myself on my bed, and slept so soundly that I never heard Pauline knock with my early cup of tea. It was ten o'clock when I awoke, and wondered where I was, and what had happened. And then my mind was made up: I would keep my own place, and do my duty as far as I had the ability. And with the morning sunshine a new hope was born in my poor heart--I would, God helping me, wait patiently and bear my cross. I would--I knew not how--win Percy's love. I had a right to win it, for he was my husband--the only man in the world to whom I owed duty, obedience, and love. I felt that God would be on my side, for I sought only to carry out the contract which, in His Name, I had made. I might be sorely tried; I might have to wait for years; but patience, when it has had its perfect work, must conquer! I was sure of that.A woman's patience by Emma Jane Worboise. Chapter 20.
But when I remember him, John was almost too feeble for his beadle's work. I was sent once a week as a small child to read the Bible to him. That was a great adventure! There was the walk of a mile down the country road, beside which ran a thread of a brook, except in the summer. In the hedgebanks grew a few sweet violets, and there you might find the largest, most brightly coloured snail-shells I have ever seen. But one must not linger too long, for down there, in the pool of hyacinth made by the valley shadows and the gentle smoke of hearth fires, John Lloyd waited to hear about the Many Mansions.Many mansions (short story) by Mary Webb.
"God has placed you in another position, my Connie. It has pleased Him to bless your father, and with him myself, with great increase of wealth. Unless earthquakes and revolutions undreamt of occur, you will never need to toil, either with hand or brain, for any of this world's luxuries. It is meet that the fathers lay up for the children. It is the Lord's will that you should be a rich woman, a very rich woman, Connie. I sometimes wish it had been otherwise; for riches are too often a snare, and always a responsibility--especially to a woman."A woman's patience by Emma Jane Worboise. Chapter 6.
She went to bed without opening her mouth. Irresolute, shamed, and despairing, she tried to pray for guidance, but she could bring no sincerity of appeal into this prayer; it seemed an empty form. Where, indeed, was her religion? She was obliged to acknowledge that the fervour of her aspirations had been steadily cooling for weeks. She was not a whit more a true Christian now than she had been before the Revival; it appeared that she was incapable of real religion, possibly one of those souls foreordained to damnation. This admission added to the general sense of futility, and increased her misery.Anna of the five towns by Arnold Bennett. Chapter 11.
No one who heard that prayer ever forgot it. It was very short, very simple, and broken by frequent sobs, but it went straight up to God's throne, I have not a doubt, and He listened from heaven, His dwelling-place, and turned aside the destroying angel from the threshold of that home. Madge, sweet, bright, loving Madge, was not to die! God gave her back to those who loved her so well, and who wrestled in prayer for her life. He laid His hand on her, and she slept, not the sleep of death, but the healing, balmy sleep that quells disease, cools the fevered blood, and brings back the fleeting breath that is almost gone. But that evening neither John Madeley nor Constance Lauriston knew that the fever was abating.A woman's patience by Emma Jane Worboise. Chapter 47.
Poised between the lowland and the heights and now cut out sharply against the coal-black east, like a hot ember in an oven, stood the red-brick chapel. Whatever beauty flowered within to sweeten the stark ugliness of it--creeping up the walls like swift summer vetches, reaching out determined tendrils towards the illimitable--none was visible without. It stood in a yard of rank grass where Thomas o' Wood's End lay in an open grave of baked earth. It was squat, with round-topped windows too large and too many for it, which caricatured those of Pisa Cathedral. Its paint was of the depressing colour known among house-painters as Pompeian red. The windows had black rep curtains and frosted lower panes to defend the young women in the window pews from the row of eyes that came up above the window-sills at dusk like stars, when the unrighteous outside stood on a ledge and pressed their faces to the glass. So the chapel stood amid the piled and terraced hills like a jibe. Above the door, with a nervous and pardonable shuffling of responsibility (apparently by the architect) were the words, 'This is the Lord's doing.'The golden arrow by Mary Webb. Chapter 3.
Six months previously a young minister of the Wesleyan Circuit, to whom Heaven had denied both a sense of humour and a sense of honour, had committed the infamy of starting a Bible class for big boys on Saturday afternoons. This outrage had appalled and disgusted the boyhood of Wesleyanism in Bursley. Their afternoon for games, their only fair afternoon in the desert of the week, to be filched from them and used against them for such an odious purpose as a Bible class! Not only Sunday school on Sunday afternoon, but a Bible class on Saturday afternoon! It was incredible. It was unbearable. It was gross tyranny, and nothing else. Nevertheless the young minister had his way, by dint of meanly calling upon parents and invoking their help. The scurvy worm actually got together a class of twelve to fifteen boys, to the end of securing their eternal welfare. And they had to attend the class, though they swore they never would, and they had to sing hymns, and they had to kneel and listen to prayers, and they had to listen to the most intolerable tedium, and to take notes of it. All this, while the sun was shining, or the rain was raining, on fields and streets and open spaces and ponds!Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett. Book 1 Chapter 1 Section 7.
"Joan!"--Sibyll dropped the reins, and turned herself bodily about. "Surely, and in grave earnestness, you do not mean common people?"
"Yes, common people. We are now only common people ourselves."
"I hate everything common."
"The common earth, and common air--and, I suppose, even common prayer?"
"You know what I mean. I cannot, I will not sink to associate with common people."
"Sibyll, you remind me of the apostle. When the sheet was let down out of heaven full of all manner of beasts, he would not touch them, because they were common and unclean. He was rebuked. 'What God hath cleansed that call not thou common.' Sibyll, we are all common people, children of first common parents, of the same common flesh and blood, and partakers of a common Redemption."The Frobishers by Sabine Baring-Gould. Chapter 13.
And surely the angels who sang the marriage-hymn of the first lovers in Eden cast down on these their holy eyes--ay, and felt that holiness unstained by the look. For can there be in this world aught more sacred than two beings who stand together, man and woman--heart-betrothed, ready to go forth hand in hand, in glad yet solemn union, on the same journey, towards the one eternal home?
O God, look down upon them! O God, bless them, and fill them with love, first towards Thee and then towards one another! Make them strong to bear gladly and nobly the dear burden which all must take who, in loving, receive unto themselves another soul with its errors and its weaknesses. Such--in their silent hearts--ay, even amid the joy of their betrothal--was the prayer that Eleanor and Philip prayed.The Ogilvies by Mrs Craik. Chapter 14.
The following quotes illustrate the relationship between Christianity and other cultures:
Other signs in every land convince me of the perfect condition of our boasted Christian civilization. It is cheering also to reflect that even Liberals have been impelled to adopt the programme of imperialism, and stimulate the enthusiasm of Egyptian bondholders by a glorious victory over helpless fellow-creatures in the East. The Bible, the sword, and the ambulance waggon are triumphant, and the religion of Christ prevails. Only one step further, surely, would be needed, to reach the Millennium; and that step would be taken if our rulers would only listen to the voice of Christian opinion, expressed in so many comfortable circles, and cicatrize the old wounds of refractory Ireland--with powder and shot!
But this subject, after all, is too sad a one to be sarcastic upon.The shadow of the sword by Robert Buchanan. Preface.
The chairman began to speak at once. His function was to call upon the speakers in the order arranged, and to sum up before putting the resolution to the vote. But now he produced surprisingly a speech of his own. He reminded the meeting that in 1860 Bishop Colenso had memorialized the Archbishop of Canterbury against compelling natives who had already more than one wife to renounce polygamy as a condition to baptism in the Christian religion; he stated that, though there were young men present who were almost infants in arms at that period, he for his part could well remember all the episode, and in particular Bishop Colenso's amazing allegation that he could find no disapproval of polygamy either in the Bible or in the writings of the Ancient Church. He also pointed out that in 1861 Bishop Colenso had argued against the doctrine of Eternal Punishment. He warned the meeting to beware of youthful indiscretions. Every one there assembled of course meant well, and believed what it was a duty to believe, but at the same time…Clayhanger by Arnold Bennett. Book 1, chapter 15, section 4
India is a great fact, my dear Allan Gray, even in these times of big things; and these boys helped to get it for you. And although the 180,000,000 can't accept Christianity, yet we have made them accept railways. Our boys are working your work, Allan Gray, and pretty near half of them have died in the service.Stretton by Henry Kingsley. Chapter 14.
The following extract is from "The story of the grateful Turk" in the book The history of Sandford and Merton by Thomas Day. (After the Turk was asked to perform an assassination as a test of his virtue.)
The next day, however, he returned in company with his son, and mildly accosted Hamet thus: "The abruptness of the proposal I yesterday made you, might perhaps astonish you; but I am now come to discourse on the matter more calmly with you, and I doubt not, when you have heard my reasons--"
"Christian!" interrupted Hamet, with a severe but composed countenance, "cease at length to insult the miserable with proposals more shocking than even these chains. If thy religion permit such acts as those, know that they are execrable and abominable to the soul of every Mahometan; therefore, from this moment let us break off all farther intercourse, and be strangers to each other."
"No," answered the Merchant, seizing the hand of Hamet, "let us from this moment be more closely linked than ever! Generous man, whose virtues may at once disarm and enlighten thy enemies! Fondness for my son first made me interested in thy fate; but from the moment that I saw thee yesterday, I determined to set thee free; therefore, pardon me this unnecessary trial of thy virtue, which has only raised thee higher in my esteem. Francisco has a soul which is as averse to deeds of treachery and blood, as is the heart of Hamet himself. From this moment, generous man, thou art free. Thy ransom is already paid, with no other obligation than that of remembering the affection of this thy young and faithful friend; and perhaps, hereafter, when thou seest an unhappy Christian groaning in Turkish fetters, thy generosity may make thee think of Venice."The history of Sandford and Merton by Thomas Day. "The story of the grateful Turk"
In the novel Bladys of Stewponey by Sabine Baring-Gould, the conflict between Christianity and the law is depicted. Bladys kisses a lady about to be burnt at the stake for murdering her husband (the crime then known as 'petty treason') and the reaction is that true Christianity comes into conflict with the legal system:
What the people were about was this:--That kiss given by Bladys to her that was condemned to a horrible death was seen by the vast concourse; and that sight had wrought an effect extraordinary, incredible, revolutionary.
Instantaneously . . . . . . they saw plainly, for the first time in their lives, that this execution, with its publicity, its barbarity, was a worse crime than that committed by the woman under sentence.
That pitiful kiss given on the pyre--given in welling-over human love to the poor, broken victim--had let loose the Christian compassion that had been in a death-trance for more than seventeen hundred years. It had been proclaimed as a Divine law by Him who stooped and wrote in the dust, when the sinful woman was brought before Him by her judges. Christian prelates had not felt it stirring when they sent heretics to the stake, nor Christian kings when they had condemned traitors to be drawn and quartered, nor Christian legislators when they adjudicated to the gallows the man who stole a sheep, and the maid who purloined half-a-crown. The excitement, the emotion roused by the kiss of Bladys, as is so generally the case with an unthinking crowd, took a wrong direction. In an explosion of resentment, it vented itself against the hangman who had strangled the woman, against his assistants for igniting the pyre, against the sheriff who had conducted the execution, against the constables who had endeavoured to keep order. . . . . . . . . Yet above all rang the shrill cry of Holy Austin from the stone pulpit.
"My brothers, you do wrong. It is not the hangman . . . . . Nor is the sheriff to blame; . . . . . . It is with the inhuman criminal laws of England that the sin lies. They are a disgrace to a Christian land; they are a stain on modern civilisation. You have votes; you send your deputies to Parliament. Unite and insist on this--that such barbarous enactments be swept away."
In the same year, 1790, that this poor woman was burnt at Shrewsbury, in the very next session of Parliament, this method of execution was abolished, and the crime of petty treason was struck out of the Statutes.Bladys of Stewponey by Sabine Baring-Gould. Chapter 13.
Later, after Bladys herself has been falsely charged with murdering her 'illegal' husband, religion agrees with the legal system:
"I beg pardon, your worship; but unhappily, as you well know, our district harbours a number of gentlemen by birth and position who are the leaders in all that is degrading--in cock-fighting, Sabbath-breaking, cudgelling, dicing, swearing, and blasphemy. I will not say more of that outrage on religion, the pretended marriage, than that it lacks all those elements which go to make it legal. It is not registered in the parish books, there is no record of it, as there would have been had it been a proper and legal function. Our vicar probably was ashamed of his part in the affair, and did no more than he conceived himself engaged to do by a promise wrung from him by a certain person I will not name. I presume that a marriage performed without banns, or without licence, in an unauthorised place, and unrecorded in the register--one, moreover, in which the one party--the bride--refused to give any promise and consent--is no marriage in the sight of God or in the eye of the law. Consequently, the charge of petty treason breaks down.Bladys of Stewponey by Sabine Baring-Gould. Chapter 24.
The very next Thursday, at the Union, Lord Eustace Vanderbilt made his great Radical speech, in which he demonstrated, to the satisfaction of the majority, that Christianity and democracy were identical; that the only true formulas of Christianity were to be found in the traditions of the Church; and that, therefore, the only true democracy would be found in the formulas of the High Church party. Lord Eustace was clever, and had a vast deal to say for his theory; as well as any one else has who takes it up. But the instant he sat down, Roland was up and at his throat. Old Mordaunt, who was sitting beside him, growled out to him, from time to time, "to draw it mild," but Roland scorned him.
"Priestcraft and democracy!" he cried. "Who is he that publishes the banns of that adulterous marriage? Who is this man who sits there with brazen forehead, and talks this blasphemy? . . . . . ."
Then finding, like most young speakers, that he was wide of his subject, he harked back to it as well as he could. "What did the noble lord want? what did the noble lord mean? If the noble lord meant that the only form of pure democracy was Christianity directed by priests, he would fight that noble lord to the last drop of his blood. If, on the other hand, the noble lord meant merely that pure primitive Christianity meant pure democracy, he would take the noble lord to his bosom."Stretton by Henry Kingsley. Chapter 18.
Three extracts from the essay "The beauty of form" from the collection The spring of joy by Mary Webb:
The beech leaves that Virgil loved before Christianity came into the world throw the same shadows on our churches as they did on the forest altars of Pan.
We see, now that Christianity has interpreted it for us, the significance of the cross--that monogram of Christ and cote-armure of pity, built up somewhere in the branches of almost every tree, stamped in the centre of almost every flower. Humanity had learnt to make the cross long before that mild night when the flocks cried across the slopes of Bethlehem and their keepers whispered of visions. It may be that if Christ had not died, the meaning of the cross would have been revealed in some other way.
When a man has ceased to find in the natural world material aims only; when, watching a flower, he can almost see the Artist's hand lift from the pencilling of its transparent veins; then he will have attained such strong freedom that he will stand already on the foothills of eternity, gazing with love and wonder into the complex life of nature, which is the life of God.The spring of joy by Mary Webb. "The beauty of form."
In the busy tongues of spring
There's an angel carolling.
Kneeling low in any place,
We may see the Father's face;
Standing quiet anywhere,
Hear our Lady speaking fair;
And in daily marketings
Feel the rush of beating wings.
Watching always, wonderingly,
All the faces passing by,
There we see through pain and wrong
Christ look out, serene and strong.The vision by Mary Webb.
Within the doorway of your room to-night
I stood, and saw your little treasures all
Set out beneath the golden candle-light,
While silver chimes haunted the evenfall.
Here was the robin, very round and bright,
Painted by one of us with fingers small,
And childish presents, bought with grave delight,
For many an ancient Christmas festival.
And while I looked, dear mother, I thought of those
Great dreams that men have dreamed--music like flame,
The lovely works of many a deathless name,
Poetry blooming like a fragrant rose;
And knew God kept them in His house above,
As you our gifts, from the greatness of His love.To mother by Mary Webb.
Other religious poetry and hymns were written by:
Francis Ridley Havergal
Rev. G. A. Studdert Kennedy also known as "Woodbine Willie": Rough rhymes of a padre
Authors and further reading can be found on page 1
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