Ernest grew more and more interested, but in the meekness of his soul said nothing.

`I do not desire this martyrdom for myself,' continued the other; `on the contrary, I will avoid it to the very utmost of my power, but if it be God's will that I should fall while studying what I believe most calculated to advance His glory - then, I say, not my will, O Lord, but thine be done.'

This was too much even for Ernest. `I heard of an Irish woman once,' he said, with a smile, `who said she was a martyr to the drink.'

`And so she was,' rejoined Pryer with warmth; and he went on to show that this good woman was an experementalist whose experiment, though disastrous in its effects upon herself, was pregnant with instruction to other people. She was thus a true martyr or witness to the frightful consequences of intemperance, to the saving, doubtless, of many who but for her martyrdom would have taken to drinking. She was one of a forlorn hope whose failure to take a certain position went to the proving it to be impregnable and therefore to the abandonment of all attempt to take it. This was almost as great a gain to mankind as the actual taking of the position would have been.

`Besides,' he added more hurriedly, `the limits of vice and virtue are wretchedly ill-defined. Half the vices which the world condemns most loudly have seeds of good in them and require moderate use rather than total abstinence.'

Ernest asked timidly for an instance.

`No, no,' said Pryer, `I will give you no instance, but I will give you a formula that shall embrace all instances. It is this, that no practice is entirely vicious which has not been extinguished among the comeliest, most vigorous, and most cultivated races of mankind in spite of centuries of endeavour to extirpate it. If a vice in spite of such efforts can still hold its own among the most polished nations, it must be founded on some immutable truth or fact in human nature, and must have some compensatory advantage which we cannot afford altogether to dispense with.'

`But,' said Ernest timidly, `is not this virtually doing away with all distinction between right and wrong, and leaving people without any moral guide whatever?'

`Not the people,' was the answer: `it must be our care to be guides to these, for they are and always will be incapable of guiding themselves sufficiently. We should tell them what they must do, and in an ideal state of things should be able to enforce their doing it: perhaps when we are better instructed the ideal state may come about; nothing will so advance it as greater knowledge of spiritual pathology on our own part. For this, three things are necessary; firstly, absolute freedom in experiment for us the clergy; secondly, absolute knowledge of what the laity think and do, and of what thoughts and actions result in what spiritual conditions; and thirdly, a compacter organization among ourselves.

`If we are to do any good we must be a closely united body and must be sharply divided from the laity. Also we must be free from those ties which a wife and children involve. I can hardly express the horror with which I am filled by seeing English priests living in what I can only designate as "open matrimony." It is deplorable. The priest must be absolutely sexless - if not in practice, yet at any rate in theory, absolutely - and that too, by a theory so universally accepted that none shall venture to dispute it.'

`But,' said Ernest, `has not the Bible already told people what they ought and ought not to do, and is it not enough for us to insist on what can be found here, and let the rest alone?'

`If you begin with the Bible,' was the rejoinder, `you are three parts gone on the road to infidelity, and will go the other part before you know where you are. The Bible is not without its value to us the clergy, but for the laity it is a stumbling-block which cannot be taken out of their way too soon or too completely. Of course, I mean on the supposition that they read it, which, happily, they seldom do. If people read the

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