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I read all this to St. George; who grumbled a little, saying it was all the same as asking him to pay the rent to the -(here he checked himself)—landlord; but gave his half-crown at last, under protest.1
21. (VIII.) Two pleasant little scraps about useful industry, which will refresh us after our various studies of modern theology and charity.
“The swarm of bees came down, by passenger train from London, a week before we came home, and Mrs. Allen and Grace managed to put them in their place without being stung. The people at the station were much tickled at the notion of a swarm of bees coming by train. The little things have been very busy ever since. Hugh and I looked into their little house, and saw that they had built the best part of eight rows of comb in ten days. They are very kind and quiet. We can sit down by the side of the hive for any length of time, without harm, and watch them come in loaded. It is funny to see a certain number of them at the entrance, whose duty it is to keep their wings going as fans, to drive cool air into the hive (people say), but I don't know : anyhow, there were lines of them fanning last night; and the others, as they came in loaded, passed up between them.
“A lady asks if you couldn't write on domestic servants. A smith at Orpington, on being canvassed by a gentleman to give his vote in favour of having a School Board here, replied, “We don't want none of your School Boards here. As it is, if you want clerks, you can get as many as you like at your own price; but if I want a good smith to-morrow, I couldn't get one at any price.'.
22. (IX.) I must needs print the last words of a delicious letter from a young lady, which I dearly want to answer, and which I think she expected me to answer, -yet gave me only her name, without her address. If she sends it-will she also tell me what sort of unkind or wicked' things everybody says ? 2
“I did not mean to write all this, but I could not help it-you have been like a personal friend to me ever since I was sixteen. It is good of you to keep on writing your beautiful thoughts when everybody is so ungrateful, and says such unkind, wicked things about you.
1 (See also Letter 81, § 14 (p. 208). ]
THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN 1
BRANTWOOD, 13th August, 1877. 1. THE Thirteenth-and not a word yet from any of my lady-friends in defence of themselves !? Are they going to be as mute as the Bishops ? :
But I have a delightful little note from the young lady whose praise of my goodness I permitted myself to quote in the last article of my August correspondence,-delightful in several ways, but chiefly because she has done, like a good girl, what she was asked to do, and told me the “ wicked things that people say.”
"They say you are unreasoning,' intolerably conceited,' 'self-asserting'; that
you write about what you have no knowledge of (Politic. Econ.); and two or three have positively asserted, and tried to persuade me, that you are mad—really mad !! They make me so angry, I don't know what to do with myself.”
The first thing to be done with yourself, I should say, my dear, is to find out why you are angry. You would not be so, unless you clearly saw that all these sayings were malignant sayings, and come from people who would be very thankful if I were mad, or if they could find any other excuse for not doing as I bid, and as they are determined not to do. But suppose, instead of letting them make you angry, you serenely ask them what I have said
*[A discarded title was “What they knew as Beasts” (compare Jude 10): see below, $ 9.]
: (See Letter 80, 88 7, 8 (pp. 175–178).]
: [For the author's challenge to them, see Letter 49, $$ 11, 12 (Vol. XXVIII. Pp. 242-244).)
that is wrong; and make them, if they are persons with any pretence to education, specify any article of
teaching, on any subject, which they think false, and give you their reason for thinking it so. Then if you cannot answer their objection yourself, send it to me.
You will not, however, find many of the objectors able, and it may be long before you find one willing, to do anything of this kind. For indeed, my dear, it is precisely because I am not self-asserting, and because the message that I have brought is not mine, that they are thus malignant against me for bringing it. “For this is the message that ye have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”
Take your first epistle of St. John, and read on from that eleventh verse to the end of the third chapter: and do not wonder, or be angry any more, that “ if they have called the Master of the house, Baalzebub, they call also those of his household.”ı
2. I do not know what Christians generally make of that first epistle of John. As far as I notice, they usually read only from the eighth verse of the first chapter to the second of the second ; and remain convinced that they may do whatever they like all their lives long, and have everything made smooth by Christ. And even of the poor fragment they choose to read, they miss out always the first words of the second chapter, “My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not:" still less do they ever set against their favourite verse of absolution—“ If any man sin, he hath an Advocate,”—the tremendous eighth verse of the third chapter, “He that committeth sin is of the Devil, for the Devil sinneth from the beginning,” with its before and after context>“ Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous ;” and “whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother."
3. But whatever modern Christians and their clergy
1 (Matthew x. 25.)
choose to make of this epistle, there is no excuse for any rational person, who reads it carefully from beginning to end, and yet pretends to misunderstand its words. However originally confused, however afterwards interpolated or miscopied, the message of it remains clear in its three divisions: (1) That the Son of God is come in the flesh (chap. iv. 2, v. 20, and so throughout); (2) That He hath given us understanding that we may know Him that is true (iii. 19, iv. 13, v. 19, 20); and (3) that in this understanding we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren (iii. 14). All which teachings have so passed from deed and truth into mere monotony of unbelieved phrase, that no English now is literal enough to bring the force of them home to my readers' minds. “Are these, then, your sisters?” I asked of our fair Englishwomen concerning those two furnace-labourers. They do not answer,—or would answer, I suppose, “Our sisters in God, certainly,” meaning thereby that they were not at all sisters in Humanity; and denying wholly that Christ, and the Sisterhood of Christendom, had “come in the Flesh.”
Nay, the farthest advanced of the believers in Him are yet so misguided as to separate themselves into costumed “Sisterhoods," as if these were less their sisters who had forge-aprons only for costume, and no crosses hung round their necks.
But the fact is assuredly this,—that if any part or word of Christianity be true, the literal Brotherhood in Christ is true, in the Flesh as in the Spirit; and that we are bound, every one of us, by the same laws of kindness to every Christian man and woman, as to the immediate members of our own households.
4. And, therefore, we are bound to know who are Christians, and who are not,—and the test of such division having been made verbal, in defiance of Christ's plainest
1 [See Letter 80, $ 6 (p. 175).]
orders, the entire body of Christ has been corrupted into such disease, that there is no soundness in it, but only wounds and bruises and putrefying sores. Look back to Fors for January 1876. How is it that no human being has answered me a word to the charge closing $ 5?? “ You who never sowed a grain of corn, never spun a yard of thread, devour and waste to your fill, and think yourselves better creatures of God, doubtless, than this wretch.” No one has sent me answer; but see what terrific confirmation came to me, in that letter from a good, wise, and Christian man, which I printed in last Fors, who nevertheless is so deceived by the fiends concerning the whole method of division between his own class and the poor brethren, that he looks on all his rich brethren as seed of Abel, and on all his poor brethren as seed of Cain, and conceives nothing better of the labourer but that he is in his nature a murderer. “He will tear your pretty lady in pieces, and think he is doing God service.” When was there ever before, in the human world, such fearful Despising of the Poor ? 4*
5. These things are too hard for me;' but at least, as now the days shorten to the close of the seventh year, I will make this message, so far as I have yet been able to deliver it, clearly gatherable. Only, perhaps, to do so, I must deliver it again in other and gentler terms. It cannot be fully given but in the complete life and sifted writings of St. John, promised for the end of our code of foundational Scripture (Fors, January 1876, § 14, and
* Compare Fors 61, § 21: “Here, the sneer of those low shoemakers' is for ever on the lip," and the answer of the sweet lady at Furness, November, 1871, $ 3.7