Mr. Collins, moreover, adds: “I am truly rejoiced that my cousin Lydia’s sad business has been so well hushed up, and am only concerned that their living together before the marriage took place, should be so generally known. I must not, however, neglect the duties of my station, or refrain from declaring my amazement, at hearing that you received the young couple into your house as soon as they were married. It was an encouragement of vice; and had I been the rector of Longbourn, I should very strenuously have opposed it. You ought certainly to forgive them as a christian, but never to admit them in your sight, or allow their names to be mentioned in your hearing.”
I have finally purchased a copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and with my thesis complete I have read it; well more like devoured it. Its been a while since I’ve read anything that so engrossed my attention, despite having seen both Bride and Prejudice, and A&E’s wonderful television adaptation. I have to say I love it. I simply love the way Jane Austen brings drama into the day-to-day life of the people of her time.
As to the above quote, I find it unbelievably fascinating. It reflects so much the dichotomy of perspectives in faith right now. I cannot fathom how any part of this little sermon he includes in his letter to the Bennet family actually reflects any sense of christian morality. It is my opinion that sin should never be “hushed up”. After all, Ecclesiastes 12:14 says “For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” While I’m not saying we should be proud of our mistakes, we should be able to openly acknowledge them, especially as we repent from them. I don’t know that Lydia’s character would ever openly repent of her elopement with Wickham, it doesn’t seem likely, so what does the family do then? They were married, which should have been done first. I personally don’t understand the encouragement of vice quote. I believe that Mr. Collins refers to the idea family members who show immoral behaviour should be cut off from their friends and family so their reputations are not also tarnished. And yet… why should we not encourage people to do the right thing, even after they’ve made a mistake? I don’t believe God would ever give up on us, even when we choose ourselves over Him, and reaped the consequences of our choices. I believe He is ever waiting for our repentance and would openly scoop us up into His arms of love. I’m not saying we won’t be held accountable for our choices, but He will still take us in. I suppose it boils down to whether or not one sin can tear us away from Him forever. And if you are like me, in believing that to be impossible, shouldn’t we act as Christ would, and welcome the repentant sinner back into our arms?
I don’t know if this makes sense, its just been plaguing my mind lately because of oddly similar personal issues. A christian I know is marrying a non-Christian, and suffering for it. I’ve made my choice in the matter, and I know several others who have made the opposite choice based on their own faith. I guess I just can’t help but wonder, as we model Christ in our lives personally, when does our love for others, overcome our sense of right and wrong? Because, though God cannot be with Sin, His love for us led Him to take that on for himself. So, where do we draw the line?
2 thoughts on “Book Review: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen”
I was thinking about this point you made and a comment you made about Austin’s statements on clergy. And while, Mr Collins character is an affront to what a true Christian should be; he shows favouritism to the very rich Lady Catharine as we are told not to in James and he seems to triumph over the mistakes of others congratulating himself on his own happy situation. I am reminded of Fanny Prince’s choice of husband in Mansfield Park as well as Elena Dashwood’s in Sense and Sensibility, and while these men were not perfect, they did show a love, strength and desire to do right that I think we all as “little Christs” should aim for. My point, to clearly state it, is that I don’t think Mr. Collins should be the only point of reference when we seek to sketch out what Austin thought of the clergy of the day, nor should his equals in our day be the example of Christian we hold to.
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