Page:Essays and phantasies by James Thomson.djvu/214

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202
OPEN SECRET SOCIETIES

priests and the presbyters, scarcely any of them in the most devout circles of the "religious world." Sometimes when one, being full of scorn and indignation, seeks relief in riant mockery of this Established State Church of ours, this clever church which manages so well to serve at once both God and Mammon, this spiritual church whose real Trinity is an abstract God the Creator, and a fictitious Christ the Redeemer, and a very substantial Holy Ghost of Bumbleism the Conservator; sometimes then a keen pang pierces one's breast, and the gloom of past time is filled with reproachful eyes as the gloom of night with pale stars. Full of sad reproach, and of love whose sweetness is the worst gall and wormwood of reproach, they gaze down upon him, these eyes of holy bliss and sorrow, these faces worn with suffering and fasting and self-renunciation, yet shining with ineffable beatitude; the eyes and the lineaments of true brothers and sisters of this Sacred Order, who being Christians were yet also indeed Saints. And in every pale regard one reads the sad question: Did I, O my friend, live and die thus and thus that you should laugh and fleer? And at first one is smitten with shame and remorse, but when he has reflected a little he replies humbly: Belovèd and pure and beautiful souls, these whom I was mocking are not of you, though indeed they assume your name; they are of the fraternities of those who in your lifetimes mocked and hated and persecuted and killed you; they have caught up your solemn passwords because these are now passwords to wealth and worldly honour, which for you were passwords to the prison and the scaffold and the stake; they have clothed themselves with your sheep's clothing because wolves have long been extinct in our England, and sheep browse securely in the fattest pastures by the sweetest rivers; but they hate with a bitter hatred and fear all who are possessed by the spirit which possessed you; they are behind their age as you