Defamed and exiled, Silas Marner loses his native faith. Now he’s got nothing to prop up his soul.
Unpropped, he fashions an idol.
The light of his faith quite put out, and his affections made desolate, he had clung with all the force of his nature to his work and his money; and like all objects to which a man devotes himself, they had fashioned him into correspondence with themselves. (40/190)
The idol, of course, reshapes him even as he busily fashions it. The law of correspondence holds.
His work and money don’t point his life in the right direction, but at least they give it a semblance of direction. His days, while empty, are eager. His idolatrous days gave him a sense of
immediate purpose which fenced him in from the wide, cheerless unknown. It had been a clinging life; and though the object round which its fibres had clung was a dead disrupted thing, it satisfied the need for clinging. (80/190)
Silas limps along under the weight of this idol until his piles of gold are stolen by the scoundrel, Dunstan Cass.
Silas is crushed. He despairs at the sight of his own salvation. But soon he will see. God has freed him for life by stealing the life he made for himself.
Formerly, his heart had been as a locked casket with its treasure inside; but now the casket was empty, and the lock was broken. Left groping in darkness, with his prop utterly gone, Silas had inevitably a sense, though a dull and half-despairing one, that if any help came to him it must come from without; and there was a slight stirring of expectation at his fellow-men, a faint consciousness of dependence on their goodwill. (85/190)
Some grace, though vaguely seen, now comes this way.
But what’s in your locked casket? What dead thing satisfies your need for clinging? What idol props up your soul?
What must God, like a thief in the night, break in and steal to save you from yourself?
At the sight of what salvation do you despair?