Samuel Butler: The Way of All Flesh

52. CHAPTER LII (continued)

Ernest was very much impressed.

"As for men curing themselves," continued Pryer, "they can no more cure their own souls than they can cure their own bodies, or manage their own law affairs. In these two last cases they see the folly of meddling with their own cases clearly enough, and go to a professional adviser as a matter of course; surely a man's soul is at once a more difficult and intricate matter to treat, and at the same time it is more important to him that it should be treated rightly than that either his body or his money should be so. What are we to think of the practice of a Church which encourages people to rely on unprofessional advice in matters affecting their eternal welfare, when they would not think of jeopardising their worldly affairs by such insane conduct?"

Ernest could see no weak place in this. These ideas had crossed his own mind vaguely before now, but he had never laid hold of them or set them in an orderly manner before himself. Nor was he quick at detecting false analogies and the misuse of metaphors; in fact he was a mere child in the hands of his fellow curate.

"And what," resumed Pryer, "does all this point to? Firstly, to the duty of confession--the outcry against which is absurd as an outcry would be against dissection as part of the training of medical students. Granted these young men must see and do a great deal we do not ourselves like even to think of, but they should adopt some other profession unless they are prepared for this; they may even get inoculated with poison from a dead body and lose their lives, but they must stand their chance. So if we aspire to be priests in deed as well as name, we must familiarise ourselves with the minutest and most repulsive details of all kinds of sin, so that we may recognise it in all its stages. Some of us must doubtlessly perish spiritually in such investigations. We cannot help it; all science must have its martyrs, and none of these will deserve better of humanity than those who have fallen in the pursuit of spiritual pathology."

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

This is page 238 of 431. [Mark this Page]
Mark any page to add this title to Your Bookshelf. (0 / 10 books on shelf)
Customize text appearance:
Color: A A A A A   Font: Aa Aa   Size: 1 2 3 4 5   Defaults
(c) 2003-2012 and Michael Moncur. All rights reserved.
For information about public domain texts appearing here, read the copyright information and disclaimer.