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Page 33

7. VII.

The morning came; the dear, delicious, silent
Sunday; to the weary workman, both of brain
and hand, the beloved day of rest. When the
first bell rang, like a brazen mortar, it seemed
from its gloomy fortress to bombard the village
with bursting shells of sound, that exploded over
the houses, shattering the ears of all the parishioners
and shaking the consciences of many.

Mr. Pendexter was to preach his farewell
sermon. The church was crowded, and only one
person came late. It was a modest, meek girl,
who stole silently up one of the side aisles,—
not so silently, however, but that the pew-door
creaked a little as she opened it; and straightway
a hundred heads were turned in that direction,
although it was in the midst of the prayer. Old
Mrs. Fairfield did not turn round, but she and her


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daughter looked at each other, and their bonnets
made a parenthesis in the prayer, within which
one asked what that was, and the other replied,—

“It is only Alice Archer. She always comes

Finally the long prayer was ended, and the
congregation sat down, and the weary children—
who are always restless during prayers, and had
been for nearly half an hour twisting and turning,
and standing first on one foot and then on the
other, and hanging their heads over the backs of
the pews, like tired colts looking into neighbouring
pastures—settled suddenly down, and subsided
into something like rest.

The sermon began,—such a sermon as had
never been preached, or even heard of before.
It brought many tears into the eyes of the pastor's
friends, and made the stoutest hearts among his
foes quake with something like remorse. As he
announced the text, “Yea, I think it meet as
long as I am in this tabernacle to stir you up, by
putting you in remembrance,” it seemed as if the
apostle Peter himself, from whose pen the words
first proceeded, were calling them to judgment.

He began by giving a minute sketch of his
ministry and the state of the parish, with all its


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troubles and dissensions, social, political, and
ecclesiastical. He concluded by thanking those
ladies who had presented him with a black silk
gown, and had been kind to his wife during her
long illness;—by apologizing for having neglected
his own business, which was to study and
preach, in order to attend to that of the parish,
which was to support its minister,—stating that
his own short-comings had been owing to theirs,
which had driven him into the woods in winter
and into the fields in summer;—and finally
by telling the congregation in general that they
were so confirmed in their bad habits, that no
reformation was to be expected in them under
his ministry, and that to produce one would require
a greater exercise of Divine power than it
did to create the world; for in creating the world
there had been no opposition, whereas, in their
reformation, their own obstinacy and evil propensities,
and self-seeking, and worldly-mindedness,
were all to be overcome!