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were, for the most part, wandering aimlessly through "the centre of indifference” in the direction of the “ everlasting No!” The fact was, our little suburb was singularly poverty-stricken in what are called—sometimes with terrible, unconscious irony—“the means of grace.” Neither at St. Cuthbert's church nor at the little Independent chapel was there any chance of obtaining that vital stimulation of the spiritual energies which will always. present itself to some natures as the one supreme necessity. Even out of the noble liturgy of the Church the life can too easily be taken by perfunctory recitation; and its light is too often effectually darkened by the shadow of the inevitable sermon. It, was so at St. Cuthbert's. The black swan of a curate alluded to in Pelican's letter from Avondale soon departed-driven away, it was generally believed, by the jealousy from which even the clerical heart is not free; and after he was gone, the coldness which had always reigned in the ancient temple became more chilling than ever. Pelican—a churchman, not by birth nor perhaps by conviction, but rather by a sort of irresistible spiritual gravitation-was compelled to seek refuge from the inclemency of St. Cuthbert's within the walls of the chapel. If I may be allowed a somewhat startling change of metaphor, I will say that he found he had made the old and too familiar jump from the frying-pan into the fire. The High-Church Dissenting minister to whom reference has been made, had gone to his own place, and was now a hard-working curate, with heart and head alike full of sacramental grace and schemes of social regeneration. He was succeeded first by a militant Christian who lost his congregation by addressing his sermons to sceptics who could never be brought to listen to them; and then by a dapper young man with scrupulously brushed scarlet hair, a full-moon face, a feline walk, and a general air of oily self-satisfaction. The emphatic commonplaces of this individual, who believed that the supreme duty of the community was to disestablish the Church, and that the Divine call to the individual was in a pleasant and respectable way to make the best of both worlds, were even less satisfying and more repellent to Pelican than the vicar's flat paraphrases of the epistle or the gospel for the day. At last he seemed to grow desperate. “I am beginning to feel," he said, one Sunday, “ that for me church-and-chapel going is nothing but Sabbath-breaking, and that I can't keep it up any longer without committing sin. It is hardening my heart, and souring my temper, and deadening my soul.” I looked at him, rather amused than surprised at this sudden outburst. He surveyed me ferociously as if I were the incarnation or the advocate of the object of his horror; and there was a moment's pause, during which neither of us said anything. Then, all at once, as if a thought had suddenly struck him, his' face brightened, and he exclaimed, “Why should we let the parsons starve or poison us? Why should we not
have a church of our own ? It would not be an altogether unprecedented experiment, for there is a story of an old Quaker who met by himself in his own house every First Day. I dare say it did him more good than either the vicar or the shepherd has ever done to either of us, though he missed the social element of worship which we should have, even if there were only you and I to follow his example. But I am sure I know two or three who would join us, and we might really be of some help to each other."
Some names were then mentioned, and as no complex organization was needed, Pelican's new ecclesiastical idea soon became an accomplished fact. It was proposed that we should meet first at one house and then at another; but it was finally decided that, as my rooms were most centrally situated, I should have the sole honour of giving shelter to the little revolutionary band of worshippers. I say revolutionary, for in this light our movement appeared to outsiders; but it was really a very different spirit from that of rebellion or innovation which animated either the leader or his followers. Drawn together by a common sense of unsatisfied spiritual hunger, they met, not to make a scornful, or even indignant, protest against those whom they had asked for bread in vain; but for the less sublime, though more practical, purpose of distributing to each other. Never, even among the silent Friends, were meetings less formal than those of our new brotherhood. We had an
appointed place and time of meeting, but everything else was left to the inspiration of the hour; for in a community so small and so sympathetic there was little fear of liberty degenerating into licence. Common devotion and mutual religious teaching and stimulation were the ends we had in view, but we recognised no exclusive machinery. Prayers, liturgical and extemporaneous; hymns and religious poems, said or sung; readings, not only from the Bible, but from the spiritual literature of all ages and sects; sermons and addresses original and selected; occasional intervals of still, Quaker-like meditation :
:-all these were used in irregular succession as means of grace.
There was no formally recognised leader, but from the beginning the practical leadership was in the hands of the man who had called the community into being, and hardly a Sunday passed without some utterance from Paul Pelican. Many of his outpourings were results of some momentary impulse ; but he gave us something more than the expression of hasty thoughts or passing moods There lies before me as I write a heap of MSS. ;sermons, meditations, poems, all carefully prepared, and dedicated to the service of what he always called Our Ecclesia.' Curiously characteristic, these ecclesiastical relics are also curiously dissimilar; and a stranger might find it difficult to discover the gleaming thread of individuality which runs through their varied pattern and changeful colouring. Many of them have much of the mysticism which always, to some extent, characterized him, and which became more marked as time went on; but he never loses his hold upon the practical, and indeed maintains again and again that the road through mysticism must always, if the heart be right, have its end not in mere passive sanctity but in active saintliness; that the clear vision is always given to aid in the performance of the helpful deed. I am compelled to treat these papers as I have already treated Pelican's conversation and correspondence-to give a handful of seed as a sample of the store in the granary.
What is the great demand of Christianity? We know and yet we do not know. We utter the word Faith, but we utter it wearily and despairingly, and our hearts are sore with effectless endeavours to penetrate its mystery. We apply to teachers, but their words seem in vain, for words can only hint at the unknown by means of symbols from the known. You have heard the story of the man born blind, who said that he thought the colour of red must be like the sound of a trumpet. How good was his definition, and yet how poor and fruitless. We see its force, for we have known the flush of the dawn, and the crimson of the sunset, and the glory of the rose, and our hearts have stirred within us at the trumpet's call; but to the child born in prison, who has seen only walls of grey, what bugle note will give a vision of the curtains of God's pavilion, of the burning splendour of