Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/263

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A Study in Temptations.

the infallible justice of the Almighty (with regard to fishing on Sundays and the like), his faith was so knit in his bones that it was more valuable as a ruling principle than any wider creed, based on the mere mental acceptance of doctrinal truths. The fear of God was before his eyes; the prospect, therefore, of becoming His minister put no strain on his sincerity. If it failed to stir his enthusiasm it was because his easy-going nature hung aloof from the self-denial and hard work which, oddly enough, he conceived to be a clergyman's portion.

Where his books had formerly been ordered aside for the most trivial domestic duty, he was now frowned at if he ventured to look up from them; if he showed the smallest disposition to levity, the farmer would remind him that it was time to put away childish things and reflect on the dignity of his calling: at his approach gossip was silenced, and Baptismal Regeneration, Predestination, and Justification by Faith became the lively topics of conversation; if he betrayed even the mildest interest in "new trouserings," references would be made to Demas, who loved the things of this world, and to the young man who had great possessions. He began to see that a reputation for virtue and wisdom (however gratifying to one's vanity), brings with it pains and penalties so various, so exquisite, and so incessant, that Job himself would seem a false type of persecuted excellence, since he lived longer than his plagues. De Boys's patience, at no time of remarkable endurance, would not have lasted under the petty but fretting annoyances which now formed his daily lot, and which promised to grow in severity as he advanced in grace, if his determination