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Page 64

14. XIV.

At length the Spring came, and brought the
birds, and the flowers, and Mr. Kavanagh, the
new clergyman, who was ordained with all the
pomp and ceremony usual on such occasions.
The opening of the season furnished also the
theme of his first discourse, which some of the
congregation thought very beautiful, and others
very incomprehensible.

Ah, how wonderful is the advent of the
Spring!—the great annual miracle of the blossoming
of Aaron's rod, repeated on myriads and
myriads of branches!—the gentle progression
and growth of herbs, flowers, trees,—gentle,
and yet irrepressible,—which no force can stay,
no violence restrain, like love, that wins its way
and cannot be withstood by any human power,
because itself is divine power. If Spring came


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but once in a century, instead of once a year,
or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake,
and not in silence, what wonder and expectation
would there be in all hearts to behold the miraculous

But now the silent succession suggests nothing
but necessity. To most men, only the cessation
of the miracle would be miraculous, and the perpetual
exercise of God's power seems less wonderful
than its withdrawal would be. We are
like children who are astonished and delighted
only by the second-hand of the clock, not by
the hour-hand.

Such was the train of thought with which
Kavanagh commenced his sermon. And then,
with deep solemnity and emotion, he proceeded
to speak of the Spring of the soul, as from its
cheerless wintry distance it turns nearer and
nearer to the great Sun, and clothes its dry and
withered branches anew with leaves and blossoms,
unfolded from within itself, beneath the penetrating
and irresistible influence.

While delivering the discourse, Kavanagh had
not succeeded so entirely in abstracting himself
from all outward things as not to note in
some degree its effect upon his hearers. As in


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modern times no applause is permitted in our
churches, however moved the audience may be,
and, consequently, no one dares wave his hat and
shout,—“Orthodox Chrysostom! Thirteenth
Apostle! Worthy the Priesthood!”—as was
done in the days of the Christian Fathers; and,
moreover, as no one after church spoke to him
of his sermon, or of any thing else,—he went
home with rather a heavy heart, and a feeling
of discouragement. One thing had cheered and
consoled him. It was the pale countenance of
a young girl, whose dark eyes had been fixed
upon him during the whole discourse with unflagging
interest and attention. She sat alone
in a pew near the pulpit. It was Alice Archer.
Ah! could he have known how deeply sank his
words into that simple heart, he might have
shuddered with another kind of fear than that
of not moving his audience sufficiently!