Chapter 10.

{234} WHEN Reding presented himself to the Vice-Principal, the Rev. Joshua Jennings, to ask for leave to reside in lodgings for the two terms previous to his examination, he was met with a courteous but decided refusal. It took him altogether by surprise; he had considered the request as a mere matter of form. He sat half a minute silent, and then rose to take his departure. The colour came to his cheek; it was a repulse inflicted only on idle men who could not be trusted beyond the eye of the Dean of the College.

The Vice-Principal seemed to expect him to ask the reason of his proceeding; as Charles, in his confusion, did not seem likely to do so, he condescended to open the conversation. It was not meant as any reflection, he said, on Mr. Reding's moral conduct; he had ever been a well-conducted young man, and had quite carried out the character with which he had come from school; but there were duties to be observed towards the community, and its undergraduate portion must be protected from the contagion of principles which were too rife at the moment. Charles was, if possible, still more surprised, and suggested that there must be some {235} misunderstanding if he had been represented to the Vice-Principal as connected with any so-called party in the place. "You don't mean to deny that there is a party, Mr. Reding," answered the College authority, "by that form of expression?" He was a lean, pale person, with a large hook-nose and spectacles; and seemed, though a liberal in creed, to be really a nursling of that early age when Anabaptists fed the fires of Smithfield. From his years, practised talent, and position, he was well able to browbeat an unhappy juvenile who incurred his displeasure; and, though he really was a kind-hearted man at bottom, he not unfrequently misused his power. Charles did not know how to answer his question; and on his silence it was repeated. At length he said that really he was not in a condition to speak against any one; and if he spoke of a so-called party, it was that he might not seem disrespectful to some who might be better men than himself. Mr. Vice was silent, but not from being satisfied.

"What would you call a party, Mr. Reding?" he said at length; "what would be your definition of it?"

Charles paused to think; at last he said: "Persons who band together on their own authority for the maintenance of views of their own".

"And will you say that these gentlemen have not views of their own?" asked Mr. Jennings.

Charles assented.

"What is your view of the Thirty-nine Articles?" said the Vice-Principal abruptly.

"My view!" thought Charles; "what can he mean? my view of the Articles! like my opinion of things in {236} general. Does he mean my 'view' whether they are English or Latin, long or short, good or bad, expedient or not, Catholic or not, Calvinistic or Erastian?"

Meanwhile Jennings kept steadily regarding him, and Charles got more and more confused. "I think," he said, making a desperate snatch at authoritative words, "I think that the Articles 'contain a godly and wholesome doctrine, and necessary for these times'."

"That is the Second Book of Homilies, Mr. Reding, not the Articles. Besides, I want your own opinion on the subject." He proceeded, after a pause: "What is justification?"

"Justification," ... said Charles, repeating the word, and thinking; then, in the words of the Article, he went on: "We are accounted righteous before God, but only for the merit of our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith, and not by our own works and deservings."

"Right," said Jennings; "but you have not answered my question. What is justification?"

This was very hard, for it was one of Charles's puzzles what justification was in itself, for the Articles do not define it any more than faith. He answered to this effect, that the Articles did not define it. The Vice-Principal looked dissatisfied.

"Can General Councils err?"

"Yes," answered Charles. This was right.

"What do Romanists say about them?"

"They think they err, too." This was all wrong.

"No," said Jennings, "they think them infallible." Charles was silent; Jennings tried to force his decision upon him. {237}

At length Charles said that "Only some General Councils were admitted as infallible by the Romanists, and he believed that Bellarmine gave a list of General Councils which had erred".

Another pause, and a gathering cloud on Jennings' brow.

He returned to his former subject. "In what sense do you understand the Articles, Mr. Reding?" he asked. That was more than Charles could tell; he wished very much to know the right sense of them; so he beat about for the received answer.

"In the sense of Scripture," he said. This was true, but nugatory.

"Rather," said Jennings, "you understand Scripture in the sense of the Articles."

Charles assented for peace-sake. But his concession availed not; the Vice-Principal pursued his advantage.

"They must not interpret each other, Mr. Reding, else you revolve in a circle. Let me repeat my question. In what sense do you interpret the Articles?"

"I wish to take them," Reding answered, "in the general and received sense of our Church, as all our divines and present Bishops take them."

The Vice-Principal looked pleased. Charles could not help being candid, and said in a lower tone, as if words of course, "That is, on faith".

This put all wrong again. Jennings would not allow this; it was a blind, Popish reliance; it was very well, when he first came to the University, before he had read the Articles, to take them on trust; but a young man who had had the advantages of Mr. Reding, who {238} had been three years at St. Saviour's College, and had attended the Article-lectures, ought to hold the received view, not only as being received, but as his own, with a free intellectual assent. He went on to ask him by what texts he proved the Protestant doctrine of justification. Charles gave two or three of the usual passages with such success, that the Vice-Principal was secretly beginning to relent, when, unhappily, on asking a last question as a matter of course, he received an answer which confirmed all his former surmises.

"What is our Church's doctrine concerning the intercession of Saints?"

Charles said that he did not recollect that it had expressed any opinion on the subject. Jennings bade him think again; Charles thought in vain.

"Well, what is your opinion of it, Mr. Reding?"

Charles, believing it to be an open point, thought he should be safe in imitating "our Church's" moderation. "There are different opinions on the subject," he said: "Some persons think they intercede for us, others, that they do not. It is easy to go into extremes; perhaps better to avoid such questions altogether; better to go by Scripture; the book of Revelation speaks of the intercession of Saints, but does not expressly say that they intercede for us," &c., &c.

Jennings sat upright in his easy-chair, with indignation mounting into his forehead. At length his face became like night. "That is your opinion, Mr. Reding."

Charles began to be frightened. {239}

"Please to take up that Prayer Book and turn to the 22nd Article. Now begin reading it."

"The Romish doctrine," said Charles,—"the Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardon, worshipping, and adoration as well of images as of relics, and also invocation of Saints—"

"Stop there," said the Vice-Principal; "read those words again."

"And also invocation of Saints."

"Now, Mr. Reding."

Charles was puzzled, thought he had made some blunder, could not find it, and was silent.

"Well, Mr. Reding?"

Charles at length said that he thought Mr. Jennings had spoken about intercession.

"So I did," he made answer.

"And this," said Charles timidly, "speaks of invocation."

Jennings gave a little start in his arm-chair, and slightly coloured. "Eh?" he said; "give me the book." He slowly read the Article, and then cast a cautious eye over the page before and after. There was no help for it. He began again.

"And so, Mr. Reding, you actually mean to shelter yourself by that subtle distinction between invocation and intercession; as if Papists did not invoke in order to gain the Saints' intercession, and as if the Saints were not supposed by them to intercede in answer to invocation? The terms are correlative. Intercession of Saints, instead of being an extreme only, as you consider, is a Romish abomination. I am ashamed of {240} you, Mr. Reding; I am pained and hurt that a young man of your promise, of good ability, and excellent morals, should be guilty of so gross an evasion of the authoritative documents of our Church, such an outrage upon common sense, so indecent a violation of the terms on which alone he was allowed to place his name on the books of this society. I could not have a clearer proof that your mind has been perverted—I fear I must use a stronger term, debauched—by the sophistries and jesuistries which unhappily have found entrance among us. Good morning, Mr. Reding."

So it was a thing settled: Charles was to be sent home—an endurable banishment.

Before he went down he paid a visit of form to the old Principal—a worthy man in his generation, who before now had been a good parish priest, had instructed the ignorant and fed the poor; but now in the end of his days, falling on evil times, was permitted, for inscrutable purposes, to give evidence of that evil puritanical leaven which was a secret element of his religion. He had been kind to Charles hitherto, which made his altered manner more distressing to him.

"We had hoped," he said, "Mr. Reding, that so good a young man as you once were would have gained a place on some foundation, and been settled here, and been a useful man in his generation, sir; and a column, a buttress of the Church of England, sir. Well, sir, here are my best wishes for you, sir. When you come up for your Master's degree, sir—no, I think it is your Bachelor's—which is it, Mr. Reding, are you yet a Bachelor? oh, I see your gown." {241}

Charles said he had not yet been into the schools.

"Well, sir, when you come up to be examined, I should say—to be examined—we will hope that in the interval, reflection, and study, and absence perhaps from dangerous companions, will have brought you to a soberer state of mind, Mr. Reding."

Charles was shocked at the language used about him. "Really, sir," he said, "if you knew me better, you would feel that I am likely neither to receive nor do harm by remaining here between this and Easter."

"What! remain here, sir, with all the young men about?" asked Dr. Bluett, with astonishment, "with all the young men about you, sir?"

Charles really had not a word to say; he did not know himself in so novel a position. "I cannot conceive, sir," he said, at last, "why I should be unfit company for the gentlemen of the College."

Dr. Bluett's jaw dropped, and his eyes assumed a hollow aspect. "You will corrupt their minds, sir," he said,—"you will corrupt their minds." Then he added, in a sepulchral tone, which came from the very depths of his inside: "You will introduce them, sir, to some subtile Jesuit—to some subtile Jesuit, Mr. Reding".

Chapter 2-11

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