The services over, the young clergyman made his way to us through the crowd.
“I have so much wished to see you!” he exclaimed, grasping my hand. “You were a little astonished at my sermon.”
“And a good deal pleased,” I added.
Pendlam’s delicate and changing features colored finely.
“You think I have altered my views, I see by your smile. Not at all, except that I have gone farther.”
“I am glad you have gone farther,” I answered.
“But in the same direction, I assure you!” said Pendlam, quickly. “Step by step, step by step.”
“You were on your way back to Paul and the Fathers.”
“Yes; and on my arrival among them, I found myself one of the Fathers! It was a necessary experience. As Paul spoke by authority, so I, when I stand where Paul stood, also speak by authority. We must first be obedient, before we can be free. You see where I am,” said Pendlam.
Here a young woman came forward, and, with tears in her eyes, thanked her pastor for the glorious truths he had that day preached.
“They are not my truths; they are the Lord’s; I am but his mouthpiece,” answered Pendlam, well pleased.
A gray-haired deacon now approached. — “On the hull,” said he, “I liked your sarmon tolerable well, Brother Pendlam; but it warn’t one o’ your best; and if anybody else had preached it, I should have thought it contained a little dangerous doctrine.”
Pendlam blushed. This compliment did not please him quite so well. But before he could shape a reply, quite an old woman seized his hand and kissed it.
“God bless you for those words! They have done my soul good, sir!”
Her gratitude and piety were quite affecting. Tears gushed into Pendlam’s eyes. The deacon turned away with a smirk and an ominous shake of the head.
Horatio had found Susan. Pendlam took my arm, and we walked out of the church. The crowd pressed on before us; and as we reached the vestibule, we overheard suppressed voices discussing the merits of the sermon.
“It was full of beautiful truth!” said a sweet young girl’s voice.
“The most eloquent discourse I ever heard!” added a young man with a singing-book under his arm.
“For my part,” remarked a portly and well-dressed pillar of the church, “I was a good deal surprised. Rather too wild and flowery. Must have a bad tendency.”
“What we want is sound doctrine,” observed another prosperous pillar. “Better let such abstract subjects alone.”
“Dangerous doctrine! dangerous doctrine!” chimed in the gray-haired deacon.
On reaching the open air, I observed that Pendlam was quite tremulous and flushed.
“You see,” he said with a smile, ‘what it is to be a minister.”
We went home to his house. Horatio had arrived before us, in company with Susan and her mother. The latter was looking very uncomfortable at seeing me, I thought, for she had hated me cordially since my affair with her daughter.
“I declare, John Henry,” she said, in her energetic way, “I hope you never will preach another such sermon as long as I live! I couldn’t make neither head nor tail to it. And she gathered up her Sunday things, which she had taken off in the parlour, with an air of offended piety that occasioned a general smile. Pendlam smiled with the rest.