The Sequel by T. S. Arthur
JUST one year has elapsed, since Mr. Carroll accepted the call from
Y—. It has been a year of trouble, ending in deep affliction. When
the health of Mrs. Carroll yielded under her too heavy burdens, it did
not come back again. Steadily she continued to sink, after the first
brief rallying of her system, until it became hopelessly apparent that
the time of her departure was near at hand. She was too fragile a
creature to be thrown into the position she occupied. Inheriting a
delicate constitution, and raised with even an unwise tenderness, she
was no more fitted to be a pastor's wife, with only three hundred a
year to live upon, than a summer flower is to take the place of a
hardy autumn plant. This her husband should have known and taken into
the account, before he decided to accept the call from Y—.
When it was found that Mrs. Carroll, after partially recovering
from her first severe attack, began, gradually to sink; a strong
interest in her favor was awakened among the ladies of the
congregation, and they showed her many kind attentions. But all these
attentions, and all this kindness, did not touch the radical
disability under which she was suffering. They did not remove her too
heavy weight of care and labor. All the help in her family that she
felt justified in employing, was a girl between fourteen and fifteen
years of age, and this left so much for her to do in the care of her
children, and in necessary household duties that she suffered all the
time from extreme physical exhaustion.
In the just conviction of the error he had committed, and while he
felt the hopelessness of his condition, Mr. Carroll, as has been
seen, resolved to leave Y—immediately. This design he hinted to one
of the members of his church.
"You engaged with us for a year, did you not?" enquired the member.
That settled the question in the mind of the unhappy minister. He
said no more to any one on the subject of his income, or about
leaving the parish. But his mind was made up not to remain a single
day, after his contract had expired. If in debt at the time, as he
knew he must be, he would free himself from the incumbrances by
selling a part of his household furniture. Meantime his liveliest
fears were aroused for his wife, as symptom after symptom of a rapid
decline, showed themselves. That he did not preach as good sermons,
nor visit as freely among his parishioners during the last three
months of the time he remained at Y—, is no matter of surprise.
Some, more considerate than the rest, excused him; but others
complained, even to the minister himself. No matter. Mr. Carroll had
too much at home to fill his heart to leave room for a troubled
pulsation on this account. He was conscience-clear on the score of
obligation to his parishioners.
At last, and this before the year had come to its close, the
drooping wife and mother took to her bed, never again to leave it
until carried forth by the mourners. We will not pain the reader by
any details of the affecting scenes attendant upon the last few weeks
of her mortal life; nor take him to the bed-side of the dying one, in
the hour that she passed away. To state the fact that she died, is
enough—and painful enough.
For all this, it did not occur to the people of Y—that, in
anything they had been lacking. They had never given but three
hundred a year to a minister, and, as a matter of course, considered
the sum as much as a reasonable man could expect. As for keeping a
clergyman in luxury, and permitting him to get rich; they did not
think it consistent with the office he held, which required
self-denial and a renouncing of the world. As to how he could live on
so small a sum, that was a question rarely asked; and when presented,
was put to rest by some backhanded kind of an answer, that left the
matter as much in the dark as ever.
Notwithstanding the deep waters of affliction through which Mr.
Carroll was required to pass, his Sabbath duties were but once
omitted, and that on the day after he had looked for the last time
upon the face of his lost one. Four Sabbaths more he preached, and
then, in accordance with notice a short time previously given,
resigned his pastoral charge. There were many to urge him with great
earnestness not to leave them; but a year's experience enabled him to
see clearer than he did before, and to act with greater decision. In
the hope of retaining him, the vestry strained a point, and offered to
make the salary three hundred and fifty dollars. But much to their
surprise, the liberal offer was refused.
It happened that the Bishop of the Diocese came to visit Y—a week
before Mr. Carroll intended taking his departure with his motherless
children, for his old home, where a church had been offered him in
connexion with a school. To him, three or four prominent members of
the church complained that the minister was mercenary, and looked
more to the loaves and fishes than to the duty of saving souls.
"Mercenary!" said the Bishop, with a strong expression of surprise.
"Yes, mercenary," repeated his accusers.
"So far from it," said the Bishop, warmly, "he has paid more during
the year, for supporting the Gospel in Y—, than any five men in the
parish put together."
"Mr. Carroll has!"
"How much do you give?" addressing one.
"I pay ten dollars pew rent, and give ten extra, besides," was the
"And you," speaking to another.
"Thirty dollars, in all."
"While," said the Bishop, speaking with increased warmth, "your
minister gave two hundred dollars."
This, of course, took them greatly by surprise, and they asked for
an explanation. "It is given in a few words," returned the Bishop.
"It cost him, though living in the most frugal manner, five hundred
dollars for the year. Of this, you paid three hundred, and he two
"I don't understand you, Bishop," said one.
"Plainly, then; he was in debt at the end of the year, two hundred
dollars, for articles necessary for the health and comfort of his
family, to pay which he has sold a large part of his furniture. He
was not working for himself, but for you, and, therefore, actually
paid two hundred dollars for the support of the Gospel in Y—, while
you paid but twenty or thirty dollars apiece. Under these
circumstances, my friends, be assured that the charge of being
mercenary, comes with an exceeding bad grace. Nor is this all that he
has sacrificed. An insufficient income threw upon his wife, duties
beyond her strength to bear; and she sunk under them. Had you stepped
forward in time, and lightened these duties by a simple act of
justice, she night still be living to bless her husband and
children!—Three hundred a year for a man with a wife and three
children, is not enough; and you know it, my brethren! Not one of you
could live on less than double the sum."
This rebuke came with a stunning force upon the ears of men who had
expected the Bishop to agree with them in their complaint, and had
its effect. On the day Mr. Carroll left the village, he received a
kind and sympathetic letter from the official members of the church
enclosing the sum of two hundred dollars. The first impulse of his
natural feelings was to return the enclosure, but reflection showed
him that such an act would be wrong; and so he retained it, after
such acknowledgments as he deemed the occasion required.
Back to his old home the minister went, but with feelings, how
different, alas! from those he had experienced on leaving for Y—.
The people among whom he had labored for a year, felt as if they had
amply paid him for all the service he had rendered; in fact had
overpaid him, as if money, doled out grudgingly, could compensate for
all he had sacrificed and suffered, in his effort to break for them
the Bread of Life.
Here is one of the phases of ministerial life, presented with
little ornament or attractiveness. There are many other phases, more
pleasant to look upon, and far more flattering to the good opinion we
are all inclined to entertain of ourselves. But it is not always best
to look upon the fairest side. The cold reality of things, it is
needful that we should sometimes see. The parish of Y—, does not, by
any means, stand alone. And Mr. Carroll is not, the only man who has
suffered wrong from the hands of those who called him to minister in
spiritual things, yet neglected duly to provide for the natural and
necessary wants of the body.