WHETHER the Rev. Andrew Adkin had or had not a call to preach, is more than we can say. Enough, that he considered it his duty to “hold forth” occasionally on the Sabbath; and when “Brother Adkin” saw, in any possible line of action, his duty, he never took counsel of Jonah.
Brother Adkin kept a store in the town of Mayberry, and being a man of some force of character, and not, by any means, indifferent to this world’s goods, devoted himself to business during the six days of the week with commendable assiduity. It is not the easiest thing in the world to banish, on the Sabbath, all concern in regard to business. Most persons engaged in trade, no matter how religiously inclined, have experienced this difficulty. Brother Adkin’s case did, not prove an exception; and so intrusive, often, were these worldly thoughts and cares, that they desecrated, at times, the pulpit, making the good man’s voice falter and his hands tremble, as he endeavoured, “in his feeble way,” to break the bread of life.
He had his own trials and temptations–his own stern “exercises of mind,” going to the extent, not unfrequently, of startling doubts as to the reality of his call to preach.
“I don’t see much fruit of my labour,” he would sometimes say to himself, “and I often think I do more harm than good.”
Such thoughts, however, were usually disposed of, as suggestions of the “adversary.”
A week in the life of Brother Adkin will show the peculiar influences that acted upon him, and how far his secular pursuits interfered with and marred his usefulness as a preacher.
Monday morning had come round again. He had preached twice on the Sabbath–once to a strange congregation, and with apparent good effect, and once to a congregation in Mayberry. In the latter case, he was favoured with little freedom of utterance. The beginning of the secular week brought back to the mind of Mr. Adkin the old current of thought, and the old earnest desire to get gain in business. On the Sabbath he had taught the people that love was the fulfilment of the law,–now, he had regard only to his own interests; and, although he did not adopt the broad, unscrupulous maxim, that all is fair in trade, yet, in every act of buying and selling, the thought uppermost in his mind was, the amount of gain to be received in the transaction.
“What are you paying for corn to-day?” asked a man, a stranger to Mr. Adkin.
“Forty-eight cents,” was answered.
“Is this the highest market rate?” said the man.
“I bought fifty bushels at that price on Saturday,” replied Mr. Adkin.
Now, since Saturday, the price of corn had advanced four cents, and Mr. Adkin knew it. But he thought he would just try his new customer with the old price, and if he chose to sell at that, why there would be so much gained.
“I have forty bushels,” said the man.
“Very well, I’ll take it at forty-eight cents. Where is it?”
“My wagon is at the tavern.”
“You may bring it over at once. My man is now at leisure to attend to the delivery.”
The corn was delivered and paid for, and both parties, for the time being, were well satisfied with the transaction.
The day had nearly run to a close, and Mr. Adkin was in the act of estimating his gains, when the man from whom he had purchased the corn entered his store.
“Look here, my friend,” said the latter speaking rather sharply, “you paid me too little for that corn.”
“How so?” returned Mr. Adkin, in well-affected surprise.
“You was to pay the highest market price,” said the man.
“I offered you forty-eight cents.”
“And I asked you if that was the highest rate, didn’t I?”
“I told you that I had bought fifty bushels at that price on Saturday.”
“Oh, ho! Now I comprehend you,” said the man, with a sarcastic curl of his lip. “I was recommended to you as a preacher, and one who would deal fairly with me. I asked you a plain question, and you purposely misled me in your answer, to the end that you might get my corn at less than the market value. You have cheated me out of nearly two dollars. Much good may it do you!”