Chapter 7.

{387} REDING naturally wished to take the important step he was meditating as quietly as he could; and had adopted what he considered satisfactory measures for this purpose. But such arrangements often turn out very differently from their promise; and so it was in his case.

The Passionist House was in the eastern part of London; so far well;—and as he knew in the neighbourhood a respectable publisher in the religious line, with whom his father had dealt, he had written to him to bespeak a room in his house for the few days which he trusted would suffice for the process of his reception. What was to happen to him after it, he left for the advice he might get from those in whose hands he found himself. It was now Wednesday; he hoped to have two days to prepare himself for his confession, and then he proposed to present himself before those who were to receive it. His better plan would have been to have gone to the Religious House at once, where doubtless the good fathers would have lodged him, secured him from intrusion, and given him the best advice how to proceed. But we must indulge him, if, doing so great {388} a work, he likes to do it in his own way: nor must we be hard on him, though it be not the best way.

On arriving at his destination, he saw in the deportment of his host grounds for concluding that his coming was not only expected, but understood. Doubtless, then the paragraph of the Oxford Gazette had been copied into the London papers; nor did it relieve his unpleasant surprise to find, as he passed to his room, that the worthy bibliopolist had a reading-room attached to his shop, which was far more perilous to his privacy than a coffee-room would have been. He was not obliged, however, to mix with the various parties who seemed to frequent it; and he determined as far as possible to confine himself to his apartment. The rest of the day he employed in writing letters to friends: his conversation of the morning had tranquillised him; he went to bed peaceful and happy, slept soundly, rose late, and, refreshed in mind and body, turned his thoughts to the serious duties of the day.

Breakfast over, he gave a considerable time to devotional exercises, and then, opening his writing-desk, addressed himself to his work. Hardly had he got into it when his landlord made his appearance; and, with many apologies for his intrusion, and a hope that he was not going to be impertinent, proceeded to inquire if Mr. Reding was a Catholic. "The question had been put to him, and he thought he might venture to solicit an answer from the person who could give the most authentic information." Here was an interruption, vexatious in itself, and perplexing in the form in which it came upon him; it would be absurd to reply that he {389} was on the point of becoming a Catholic, so he shortly answered in the negative. Mr. Mumford then informed him that there were two friends of Mr. Reding's below, who wished very much to have a few minutes' conversation with him. Charles could make no intelligible objection to the request; and in the course of a few minutes their knock was heard at the room door.

On his answering it, two persons presented themselves, apparently both strangers to him. This, however, at the moment was a relief; for vague fears and surmises had begun to flit across his mind as to the faces which were to make their appearance. The younger of the two, who had round full cheeks, with a boyish air, and a shrill voice, advanced confidently, and seemed to expect a recognition. It broke upon Charles that he had seen him before, but he could not tell where. "I ought to know your face," he said.

"Yes, Mr. Reding," answered the person addressed, "you may recollect me at College."

"Ah, I remember perfectly," said Reding; "Jack the kitchen-boy at St. Saviour's."

"Yes," said Jack; "I came when young Tom was promoted into Dennis's place."

Then he added, with a solemn shake of the head, "I have got promotion now."

"So it seems, Jack;" answered Reding; "but what are you? Speak."

"Ah, sir," said Jack, "we must converse in a tone of befitting seriousness;" and he added, in a deep inarticulate voice, his lips not being suffered to meet together, "Sir, I stand next to an Angel now." {390}

"A what? Angel? Oh, I know," cried Charles, "it's some sect; the Sandemanians."

"Sandemanians!" interrupted Jack; "we hold them in abhorrence; they are levellers; they bring in disorder and every evil work."

"I beg pardon, but I know it is some sect, though I don't recollect what. I've heard about it. Well, tell me, Jack, what are you?"

"I am," answered Jack, as if he were confessing at the tribunal of a Proprętor, "I am a member of the Holy Catholic Church."

"That's right, Jack," said Reding; "but it's not distinctive enough; so are we all; every one will say as much."

"Hear me out, Mr. Reding, sir," answered Jack, waving his hand; "hear me, but strike; I repeat, I am a member of the Holy Catholic Church, assembling in Huggermugger Lane."

"Ah," said Charles, "I see; that's what the 'gods' call you; now, what do men?"

"Men," said Jack, not understanding, however, the allusion—"men call us Christians, professing the opinions of the late Rev. Edward Irving, B.D."

"I understand perfectly now," said Reding; "Irvingites—I recollect."

"No, sir," he said, "not Irvingites; we do not follow man; we follow wherever the Spirit leads us; we have given up Tongue. But I ought to introduce you to my friend, who is more than an Angel," he proceeded modestly, "who has more than the tongue of men and angels, being nothing short of an Apostle, sir. Mr. {391} Reding, here's the Rev. Alexander Highfly. Mr. Highfly, this is Mr. Reding."

Mr. Highfly was a man of gentlemanlike appearance and manner; his language was refined, and his conduct was delicate; so much so that Charles at once changed his tone in speaking to him. He came to Mr. Reding, he said, from a sense of duty; and there was nothing in his conversation to clash with that profession. He explained that he had heard of Mr. Reding's being unsettled in his religious views, and he would not lose the opportunity of attempting so valuable an accession to the cause to which he had dedicated himself.

"I see," said Charles, smiling, "I am in the market."

"It is the bargain of Glaucus with Diomede," answered Mr. Highfly, "for which I am asking your co-operation. I am giving you the fellowship of Apostles."

"It is, I recollect, one of the characteristics of your body," said Charles, "to have an order of Apostles, in addition to Bishops, Priests, and Deacons."

"Rather," said his visitor, "it is the special characteristic; for we acknowledge the orders of the Church of England. We are but completing the Church system by restoring the Apostolic College."

"What I should complain of," said Charles, "were I at all inclined to listen to your claims, would be the very different views which different members of your body put forward."

"You must recollect, sir," answered Mr. Highfly, "that we are under Divine teaching, and that truth is but gradually communicated to the Church. We do {392} not pledge ourselves what we shall believe tomorrow by anything we say today."

"Certainly," answered Reding, "things have been said to me by your teachers which I must suppose were only private opinions, though they seemed to be more."

"But I was saying," said Mr. Highfly, "that at present we are restoring the Gentile Apostolate. The Church of England has Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, but a Scriptural Church has more; it is plain it ought to have Apostles. In Scripture Apostles had the supreme authority, and the three Anglican orders were but subordinate to them."

"I am disposed to agree with you there," said Charles. Mr. Highfly looked surprised and pleased. "We are restoring," he said, "the Church to a more Scriptural state; perhaps, then, we may reckon on your co-operation in doing so? We do not ask you to secede from the Establishment, but to acknowledge the Apostolic authority to which all ought to submit."

"But does it not strike you, Mr. Highfly," answered Reding, "that there is a body of Christians, and not an inconsiderable one, which maintains with you, and, what is more, has always preserved, that true and higher Apostolic succession in the Church; a body, I mean, which, in addition to Episcopacy, believes that there is a standing ordinance above Episcopacy, and gives it the name of the Apostolate?"

"On the contrary," answered Mr. Highfly, "I consider that we are restoring what has lain dormant {393} ever since the time of St. Paul; nay, I will say it is an ordinance which has never been carried into effect at all, though it was in the Divine design from the first. You will observe that the Apostles were Jews; but there never has been a Gentile Apostolate. St. Paul indeed was Apostle of the Gentiles, but the design begun in him has hitherto been frustrated. He went up to Jerusalem against the solemn warning of the Spirit; now we are raised up to complete that work of the Spirit, which was stopped by the inadvertence of the first Apostle."

Jack interposed: he should be very glad he said, to know what religious persuasion it was, besides his own, which Mr. Reding considered to have preserved the succession of Apostles as something distinct from Bishops.

"It is quite plain whom I mean—The Catholics," answered Charles. "The Popedom is the true Apostolate, the Pope is the successor of the Apostles, particularly of St. Peter."

"We are very well inclined to the Roman Catholics," answered Mr. Highfly, with some hesitation; "we have adopted a great part of their ritual: but we are not accustomed to consider that we resemble them in what is our characteristic and cardinal tenet."

"Allow me to say it, Mr. Highfly," said Reding, "it is a reason why every Irvingite—I mean every member of your denomination—should become a Catholic. Your own religious sense has taught you that there ought to be an Apostolate in the Church. You consider that the authority of the Apostles was not {394} temporary, but essential and fundamental. What that authority was, we see in St. Paul's conduct towards St. Timothy. He placed him in the See of Ephesus, he sent him a charge, and, in fact, he was his overseer or Bishop. He had the care of all the Churches. Now, this is precisely the power which the Pope claims, and has ever claimed; and, moreover, he has claimed it, as being the successor, and the sole proper successor of the Apostles, though Bishops may be improperly such also [Note]. And hence Catholics call him Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Bishops, and the like; and, I believe, consider that he, in a pre-eminent sense, is the one pastor or ruler of the Church, the source of jurisdiction, the judge of controversies, and the centre of unity, as having the powers of the Apostles, and especially of St. Peter."

Mr. Highfly kept silence.

"Don't you think, then, it would be well," continued Charles, "that, before coming to convert me, you should first join the Catholic Church? at least you would urge your doctrine upon me with more authority if you came as a member of it. And I will tell you frankly, that you would find it easier to convert me to Catholicism than to your present persuasion."

Jack looked at Mr. Highfly, as if hoping for some decisive reply to what was a new view to him; but Mr. Highfly took a different line. "Well, sir," he said, "I do not see that any good will come by our continuing {395} the interview; but your last remark leads me to observe that proselytism was not our object in coming here. We did not propose more than to inform you that a great work was going on, to direct your attention to it, and to invite your co-operation. We do not controvert; we only wish to deliver our testimony, and there to leave the matter. I believe, then, we need not take up your valuable time longer." With that he got up, and Jack with him, and with many courteous bows and smiles which were duly responded to by Reding, the two visitors took their departure.

"Well, I might have been worse off," thought Reding; "really they are gentle, well-mannered creatures, after all. I might have been attacked by some of your furious Exeter-Hall beasts; but now to business ... What's that?" he added. Alas, it was a soft, distinct tap at the door; there was no mistake. "Who's there? come in!" he cried; upon which the door gently opened, and a young lady, not without attractions of person and dress, presented herself. Charles started up with vexation; but there was no help for it, and he was obliged to hand her a chair, and then to wait, all expectation, or rather all impatience, to be informed of her mission. For a while she did not speak, but sat, with her head on one side, looking at her parasol, the point of which she fixed on the carpet, while she slowly described a circumference with the handle. At length she asked, without raising her eyes, whether it was true—and she spoke slowly, and in what is called a spiritual tone—whether it was true, the information had been given her, that Mr. {396} Reding, the gentleman she had the honour of addressing—whether it was true, that he was in search of a religion more congenial to his feelings than that of the Church of England? "Mr. Reding could not give her any satisfaction on the subject of her inquiry;"—he answered shortly, and had some difficulty in keeping from rudeness in his tone. The interrogation, she went on to say, perhaps might seem impertinent; but she had a motive. Some dear sisters of hers were engaged in organising a new religious body, and Mr. Reding's accession, counsel, assistance, would be particularly valuable; the more so, because as yet they had not any gentleman of University education among them.

"May I ask," said Charles, "the name of the intended persuasion?"

"The name," she answered, "is not fixed; indeed, this is one of the points on which we should covet the privilege of the advice of a gentleman so well qualified as Mr. Reding to assist us in our deliberations."

"And your tenets, ma'am?"

"Here, too," she replied, "there is much still to be done; the tenets are not fixed either, that is, they are but sketched; and we shall prize your suggestions much. Nay, you will of course have the opportunity as you would have the right, to nominate any doctrine to which you may be especially inclined."

Charles did not know how to answer to so liberal an offer.

She continued: "Perhaps it is right, Mr. Reding, that I should tell you something more about myself personally. I was born in the communion of the Church {397} of England; for a while I was a member of the New Connexion; and after that," she added, still with drooping head and languid sing-song voice, "after that, I was a Plymouth brother." It got too absurd; and Charles, who had for an instant been amused, now became full of the one thought, how to get her out of the room.

It was obviously left to her to keep up the conversation: so she said presently, "We are all for a pure religion".

"From what you tell me," said Charles, "I gather that every member of your new community is allowed to name one or two doctrines of his own."

"We are all scriptural," she made answer, "and therefore are all one; we may differ, but we agree. Still it is so, as you say, Mr. Reding. I'm for election and assurance; our dearest friend is for perfection; and another sweet sister is for the second advent. But we desire to include among us all souls who are thirsting after the river of life, whatever their personal views. I believe you are partial to sacraments and ceremonies?"

Charles tried to cut short the interview by denying that he had any religion to seek after, or any decision to make; but it was easier to end the conversation than the visit. He threw himself back in his chair in despair, and half closed his eyes. "Oh, those good Irvingites," he thought, "blameless men, who came only to protest, and vanished at the first word of opposition; but now thrice has the church-clock struck the quarters since her entrance, and I don't see why she's {398} not to stop here as long as it goes on striking, since she has stopped so long. She has not in her the elements of progress and decay. She'll never die; what is to become of me?"

Nor was she doomed to find a natural death; for, when the case seemed hopeless, a noise was heard on the staircase, and, with scarcely the apology for a knock, a wild gawky man made his appearance, and at once cried out, "I hope, sir, it's not a bargain yet; I hope it's not too late; discharge this young woman, Mr. Reding, and let me teach you the old truth, which never has been repealed."

There was no need of discharging her; for as kindly as she had unfolded her leaves and flourished in the sun of Reding's forbearance, so did she at once shrink and vanish—one could hardly tell how—before the rough accents of the intruder; and Charles suddenly found himself in the hands of a new tormentor. "This is intolerable," he said to himself, and, jumping up, he cried, "Sir, excuse me, I am particularly engaged this morning, and I must beg to decline the favour of your visit".

"What did you say, sir?" said the stranger; and, taking a note-book and a pencil from his pocket, he began to look up in Charles's face and write down his words, saying half aloud, as he wrote, "Declines the favour of my visit". Then he looked up again, keeping his pencil upon his paper, and said, "Now, sir".

Reding moved towards him, and, spreading his arms as one drives sheep and poultry in one direction, he repeated, looking towards the door, "Really, sir, I feel {399} the honour of your call; but another day, sir, another day. It is too much, too much."

"Too much?" said the intruder; "and I waiting below so long! That dainty lady has been good part of an hour here, and now you can't give me five minutes, sir."

"Why, sir," answered Charles, "I am sure you are come on an errand as fruitless as hers; and I am sick of these religious discussions, and want to be to myself, and to save you trouble."

"Sick of religious discussions," said the stranger to himself, as he wrote down the words in his note-book. Charles did not deign to notice his act or to explain his own expression; he stood prepared to renew his action of motioning him to the door. His tormentor then said, "You may like to know my name; it is Zerubbabel".

Vexed as Reding was, he felt that he had no right to visit the tediousness of his former visitor upon his present; so he forced himself to reply, "Zerubbabel indeed; and is Zerubbabel your Christian name, sir, or your surname?"

"It is both at once, Mr. Reding," answered Zerubbabel, "or rather, I have no Christian name, and Zerubbabel is my one Jewish designation."

"You are come, then, to inquire whether I am likely to become a Jew."

"Stranger things have happened," answered his visitor; "for instance, I myself was once a deacon in the Church of England."

"Then you are not a Jew?" said Charles. {400}

"I am a Jew by choice," he said; "after much prayer and study of Scripture, I have come to the conclusion that, as Judaism was the first religion, so it's to be the last. Christianity I consider an episode in the history of revelation."

"You are not likely to have many followers in such a belief," said Charles; "we are all for progress now, not for retrograding."

"I differ from you, Mr. Reding," said Zerubbabel; "see what the Establishment is doing; it has sent a Bishop to Jerusalem."

"That is rather with the view of making the Jews Christians than the Christians Jews," said Reding.

Zerubbabel wrote down: "Thinks Bishop of Jerusalem is to convert the Jews"; then, "I differ from you, sir; on the contrary, I fancy the excellent Bishop has in view to revive the distinction between Jew and Gentile, which is one step towards the supremacy of the former; for if the Jews have a place at all in Christianity, as Jews, it must be the first place".

Charles thought he had better let him have his talk out; so Zerubbabel proceeded: "The good Bishop in question knows well that the Jew is the elder brother of the Gentile, and it is his special mission to restore a Jewish episcopate to the See of Jerusalem. The Jewish succession has been suspended since the time of the Apostles. And now you see the reason of my calling on you, Mr. Reding. It is reported that you lean towards the Catholic Church; but I wish to suggest to you that you have mistaken the centre of unity. The See of James at Jerusalem is the true centre, not the {401} See of Peter at Rome. Peter's power is a usurpation on James's. I consider the present Bishop of Jerusalem the true Pope. The Gentiles have been in power too long; it is now the Jews' turn."

"You seem to allow," said Charles, "that there ought to be a centre of unity and a Pope."

"Certainly," said Zerubbabel, "and a ritual too, but it should be the Jewish. I am collecting subscriptions for the rebuilding of the Temple on Mount Moriah; I hope too to negotiate a loan, and we shall have Temple stock, yielding, I calculate, at least four per cent."

"It has hitherto been thought a sin," said Reding, "to attempt rebuilding the Temple. According to you, Julian the Apostate went the better way to work."

"His motive was wrong, sir," answered the other; "but his act was good. The way to convert the Jews is, first to accept their rites. This is one of the greatest discoveries of this age. We must make the first step towards them. For myself, I have adopted all which the present state of their religion renders possible. And I don't despair to see the day when bloody sacrifices will be offered on the Temple Mount as of old."

Here he came to a pause; and Charles making no reply, he said, in a brisk, off-hand manner, "May I not hope you will give your name to this religious object, and adopt the old ritual? The Catholic is quite of yesterday compared with it." Charles answering in the negative, Zerubbabel wrote down in his book: "Refuses to take part in our scheme"; and disappeared from the room as suddenly as he entered it.

Chapter 3-8

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"Successores sunt, sed ita ut potius Vicarii dicendi sint Apostolorum, quam successores; contra, Romanus Pontifex, quia verus Petri successor est, nonnisi per quendam abusum ejus vicarius diceretur."—Zaccar. Antifebr., p. 130.
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