Saturday, August 08, 2009

God forbid that we should bequeath such Sabbaths to our children.

There was the dreary Sunday of his childhood, when he sat with his hands before him, scared out of his senses by a horrible tract which commenced business with the poor child by asking him in its title, why he was going to Perdition? A piece of curiosity that he really in a frock and drawers was not in a condition to satisfy--and which, for the further attraction of his infant mind, had a parenthesis in every other line with some such hiccupping reference as 2 Ep. Thess. c. iii. v. 6 & 7. There was the sleepy Sunday of his boyhood, when, like a military deserter, he was marched to chapel by a picquet of teachers three times a day, morally handcuffed to another boy; and when he would willingly have bartered two meals of indigestible sermon for another ounce or two of inferior mutton at his scanty dinner in the flesh. There was the interminable Sunday of his nonage; when his mother, stern of face and unrelenting of heart, would sit all day behind a Bible--bound, like her own construction of it, in the hardest, barest, and straitest boards, with one dinted ornament on the cover like the drag of a chain, and a wrathful sprinkling of red upon the edges of the leaves--as if it, of all books? Were a fortification against sweetness of temper, natural affection, and gentle intercourse. There was the resentful Sunday of a little later, when he sat glowering and glooming through the tardy length of the day, with a sullen sense of injury in his heart, and no more real knowledge of the beneficent history of the New Testament, than if he had been bred among idolaters. There was a legion of Sundays, all days of unserviceable bitterness and mortification, slowly passing before him.

Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, Book One, Chapter 3

4 comments:

K. Hugh Acton said...

Amen, but it is so hard to walk that via media between a goof off sabbath and an oppressive sabbath. We try, but I'm afraid I muck it up every time, but I'll believe more boldly still (as Luther would say).

pipeandpint said...

A great quote, Dr. Shaw.

GAR said...

this was my stepfather's story exactly; he remained bitter against Christianity till he died.

John Foxe said...

Saturday was a late night for my 2 year old due to fireworks waking her up. We had a late start on Sunday and missed our usual slot for Sunday school. How encouraging my daughter was to me as a Dad to persevere in teaching her as all day she kept asking for 'Sunday School' until we finally got there just before tea.

We always need to work at our own hearts and for those of our families to truly call the Sabbath a delight.