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Title: Modern Skepticism: A Journey Through the Land of Doubt and Back Again - A Life Story
Author: Barker, Joseph, 1806-1875
Language: English
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THROUGH THE LAND OF DOUBT AND BACK AGAIN***


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MODERN SKEPTICISM: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE LAND OF DOUBT AND BACK AGAIN.

A Life Story

by

JOSEPH BARKER.



Philadelphia:
Smith, English & Co.
1874.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874, by
Rev. Joseph Barker,
In the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
Jas. B. Rodgers Co.,
Printers and Stereotypers,
Philadelphia.



CONTENTS.


PREFACE, 7

CHAPTER I.

Introduction.--My early life.--Enter the Church.--The Ministry.--Happy
days.--Sad change.--How happened it? 17

CHAPTER II.

Causes of unbelief.--Vice.--Other causes.--Constitutional tendencies to
doubt.--Disappointed expectations about Christianity.--Mysteries of
Providence.--Misrepresentations of Christ and Christianity in human
creeds.--Church divisions.--Ignorant advocates of Christianity.--Wrong
principles of reasoning.--False science, 19

CHAPTER III.

Another cause of unbelief.--Bad feeling between ministers or among
church members.--Alienates them from each other.--Then separates them
from the Church.--Then from Christ.--How it works.--My case, 26

CHAPTER IV.

Origin of the unhappy feeling between me and some of my brother
ministers.--Tendencies of my mind.--Rationalizing tendency.--Its
effects.--Reading.--Investigations.--Discoveries, 30

CHAPTER V.

Modification of my early creed.--Unscriptural doctrines
relinquished.--Scriptural ones adopted.--Some doctrines
modified.--Theological fictions dropped.--Eager for the pure, simple
truth as taught by Jesus.--Doctrine of types given up.--Other notions
relinquished.--Alarm of some of my brethren at these changes, 44

CHAPTER VI.

How preachers and theologians indulge their fancies on religion.--John
Wesley.--His resolution to be a man of one book.--What came of his
resolution.--His sermon on God's approbation of His works,--unscriptural
and unphilosophical throughout.--Illustrations and proofs.--And Wesley
was one of the best and wisest, one of the most honest and single-minded
of our theologians.--What then may we expect of others?--Evils of
theological trifling.--Mischievous effects of mixing human fictions with
Divine revelations, 55

CHAPTER VII.

Further theological investigations.--Unwarranted statements by
preachers.--John Foster's Essay on Some of the Causes by which
Evangelical Religion is Rendered Distasteful to Persons of Cultivated
Minds.--Introduction of similar views to the notice of my ministerial
brethren.--The reception they met with.--No Church has got all the
truth.--Most Churches, perhaps all, have got portions of it, which
others have not.--My attempts to gather up the fragments from
all.--Freedom from bigotry.--Love to all Christians.--Judging trees
by their fruit.--Reading the books of various denominations,
like foreign travel, liberalizes the mind.--I found truth
and goodness in all denominations.--Appropriated all as part
of my patrimony.--Results.--Suspicions and fears among my
brethren.--Mutterings: Backbitings: Controversy. Bad feeling, 65

CHAPTER VIII.

My style of preaching.--Decidedly practical.--Using Christianity as a
means for making bad people into good ones, and good ones always
better.--Reasons for this method.--A family trait.--Hereditary.--Great
need of practical preaching.--Folly of other kinds of
Preaching.--Littleness of great Preachers.--Worthlessness of great
sermons.--The Truly Great are the Greatly Good and Greatly Useful.--My
Models.--The Bible.--Jesus.--My Favorite Preachers.--Billy Dawson, David
Stoner, James Parsons.--My Favorite Books.--The Bible--Nature.--Simple
Common Sense, instructive, earnest, moving books.--How my preaching was
received by the people.--Its effects on churches and
congregations.--Uneasiness of my colleagues.--Fresh mutterings; tale
bearings; controversies; and more bad feeling, 82

CHAPTER IX.

Extracts from my Diary.--A strange preacher.--Horrible sermons.--Lights
of the world that give no light.--Theological mist and
smoke.--Narrow-mindedness.--Intolerance.--T. Allin,--Great preaching
great folly.--A. Scott,--A good preacher.--Sanctification.--Keep to
Scripture.--R. Watson: theological madness.--Big Books on the way of
salvation; puzzling folks.--Antinomian utterances about Christ's work
and man's salvation.--Preachers taking the devil's side; and doing his
work.--Scarcity of common sense in priesthoods, and of uncommon
sense.--The great abundance of nonsense and bad sense.--Common religious
expressions that are false.--Favorite Hymns that are not
Scriptural--Baxter's good sense, 98

CHAPTER X.

Reforming tendencies.--Corruptions in the Church.--Bad trades.--Faults
in the ministry.--Toleration of vice.--Drinking
habits.--Intemperance.--The Connexion.--Faulty rules.--Bad
customs.--Defective institutions.--All encouraged to suggest reforms and
punished for doing so.--Original principles of the Connexion set aside,
and persecution substituted for freedom.--My simplicity.--My
reward.--The Ministry.--Drunkenness.--Teetotalism.--Advocacy of
Temperance.--Outcry of preachers.--My Evangelical Reformer.--Articles on
the prevailing vices of the Church; On Toleration and Human Creeds;--On
Channing's Works; On Anti-Christian trading, &c., get me into
trouble.--Conference interference.--Conference trials.--The state of
things critical.--No remedy.--Matters get worse and worse.--Exciting
events: too many to be named here.--Envy, jealousy, rage, strife,
confusion, and many evil works.--Conspiracies: Fierce
conflicts.--Expulsion, 117

CHAPTER XI.

Explanations about the different Methodist Bodies.--Grounds of my
reformatory proceedings.--About immoralities.--Christianity not to blame
for the faults of professors and preachers.--My own defects, 153

CHAPTER XII.

Story of my life continued.--Results of my expulsion.--Fierce
fighting.--Desperation of my persecutors.--Great excitement on my
part.--Rank crop of slanders.--Monstrous ones.--And silly ones.--Bad
deeds as well as wicked words.--Hard
work.--Exhaustion.--Powerlessness.--Three days' rest.--Long
sleep.--Wonderful,--delightful,--result.--Public debates.--Remarkable
occurrences; seemed Providential.--A lying opponent unexpectedly
confronted and confounded.--New Body,--Christian Brethren.--My church at
Newcastle.--Change in my views, and fresh
troubles.--Losses.--Poverty.--Learn the Printing business.--Follow it
under difficulties.--Want of funds.--Generous friends. Family on the
verge of want.--Pray.--An unlooked-for cart-load of provisions.--Trust
in Providence.--False friends.--True ones.--A mad utterance.--A worse
deed.--Theological Conventions.--Free investigations and public
discussions.--Change of views, 103

CHAPTER XIII.

Approach to Unitarianism.--Kindness of Unitarians.--Preaching and
lecturing in their pulpits.--Ten nights' public discussion with Rev. W.
Cooke.--Subjects.--Results.--Publications.--Now periodicals.--Unitarian
invitation to London.--Public reception.--Liberal contributions to Steam
Press Fund.--Press presentation.--Dr. Bateman; Dr.-Sir-John
Bowring.--Pleasurable change from intolerance and persecution to
friendship and favor.--Discoveries.--Unitarianism has many
phases.--Channingism.--Anti-supernaturalism.--Deism.--Atheism.--Gradually
slid down to the lower, 191

CHAPTER XIV.

The Bible.--My earliest views of its origin and authority.--Changed as I
grew up.--Further changes.--Important facts about the Bible.--False
theories of its Divine inspiration.--The true--the Bible's
own,--doctrine on the subject.--Needful to keep inside of this.--No
defence outside either for the Bible or for Bible men.--Explanations:
illustrations: testimonies of celebrated writers.--The PERFECTION of the
Bible--in what does it consist.--Foolish and impossible notions of
perfection.--No absolute perfection in any thing.--No need for
it.--Foolish talk about infallibility.--Other important testimonies, 202

CHAPTER XV.

Enters politics.--Advocates extreme political
views.--Republicanism.--Foretells the French Revolution of 1848.--Great
political excitement in England.--Government alarmed.--Get
arrested.--Lodged in prison.--Trial.--Triumph over Government.--Great
rejoicings.--Elected member of Parliament for Bolton, and Town
Councillor for Leeds.--Exhaustion from excess of labor.--Health
fails.--Terrible Pains.--Voyage to America and back.--Removes to
America.--Objects in doing so.--Settles on a farm.--Gets into fresh
excitement.--The Abolitionists.--Women's Rights.--All kinds of wild
revolutionary theories.--Go farther into unbelief instead of getting
back to Christ.--A mad world, with strange unwritten histories, and
awful, nameless mysteries, 241

CHAPTER XVI.

Story of my descent from the faith of my childhood, to doubt and
unbelief.--Bad theological teaching in my early days.--Dreadful
results.--Perplexity.--Madness.--Survive all, and get over it.--The
first arguments I heard for the Bible.--True basis of religious
belief.--Reading on the evidences.--Effects.--Unsound
arguments.--_Their_ effect.--_Internal_ evidences best.--Negative
criticism, long continued, ruinous both to faith and virtue.--Moving
ever downwards.--The devil as a theologian, a poet and a
philosopher.--Bible Conventions.--W. L. Garrison, A. J. Davis.--Public
discussions in Philadelphia with Dr. McCalla.--The Doctor's disgraceful
failure.--Great,--mad,--excitement.--Narrow escape from murder.--Eight
nights' debate with Dr. Berg.--The good cause suffered through bad
management.--The Doctor took an untenable position.--Undertook to prove
too much and failed.--Substantially right, but logically wrong.--Other
debates in Ohio, Indiana, England and Scotland.--Mean and mischievous
opponents.--Honorable and useful ones.--Bad advocates of a good cause,
its worst enemies, 269

CHAPTER XVII.

Continuation of my Story.--Lectures on the Bible in
Ohio.--Trouble.--Riot.--Rotten eggs.--Midnight mischief.--Had to
move.--Settlement among Liberals, Comeouters.--_Too_ fond of
liberty.--Would have my share as well as their own.--Fresh
trouble.--Another forced move.--Settlement in the wilds of Nebraska,
among Indians, wolves, and rattlesnakes.--Experience there.--A change
for the better.--How brought about.--Quiet of
mind.--Reflection.--Horrors of Atheism.--Destroys the value of
life.--Deceives you; mocks you; makes you intolerably
miserable.--Suggests suicide.--Prosperity not good for much without
religion: adversity, sickness, pain, loss, bereavement
intolerable.--Strange adventures in the wilderness; terrible dangers;
wonderful deliverances.--Solemn thoughts and feelings in the boundless
desert.--Solitude and silence preach.--Religious feelings
revive.--Recourse to old religious books.--Demoralizing tendency of
unbelief.--Lecture in Philadelphia.--Cases of infidel depravity.--You
can't make people good, nor even decent, without religion.--Infidelity
means utter debasement.--A good, a loving, and a faithful wife, who
never ceases to pray.--Return to England.--Experience there.--Unbounded
licentiousness of Secularism.--Total separation from the infidel
party.--My new Periodical.--Resolution to re-read the Bible, to do
justice to Christianity, &c.--A sight of Jesus.--Happy results.--Change
both of head and heart.--Happy transformation of character.--A new
life.--New work.--New lot.--From darkness to light,--From death to
life,--from purgatory to paradise,--from hell to heaven, 310

CHAPTER XVIII.

Parties whose Christian sympathy, and wise words, and generous deeds,
helped me back to Christ, 345

CHAPTER XIX.

The steps by which I gradually returned to Christ.--Lectures and sermons
on the road.--Answers to objections against the Bible and
Christianity.--Spiritualism.--Strange phenomena.--Answers to objections
advanced by myself in the Berg debate.--The position to be taken by
advocates of the Bible and Christianity.--Additional remarks on Divine
inspiration.--What it implies, and what it does not imply.--Overdoing is
undoing.--Genesis and Geology.--The Bible and Science.--Public
discussions,--explanation.--At Home in the Church.--Sorrowful, yet
always rejoicing.--Joy unspeakable, 355

CHAPTER XX.

Lessons I have learned.--1. Men slow to learn wisdom by the experience
of others.--2. Danger of bad feeling.--3. Of a controversial spirit.--4.
Old ministers should deal tenderly with their younger brethren.--5.
Young thinkers should be prayerful, humble, watchful; yet faithful to
conscience and to truth, trusting in God.--6. With Christian faith goes
Christian virtue.--The tendency of unbelief is ever downwards.--7.
Unbelievers are not irreclaimable.--We should not pass them by unpitied
or unhelped.--8. Converts from infidelity must look for trials.--They
must not expect too much from churches and ministers. Paul's case.--9.
They must risk all for Christ, and bear their losses and troubles
patiently.--10. They should join the Church, right away.--Not look for a
perfect Church.--Keep inside.--Bear unpleasantnesses meekly.--Stones
made smooth and round in the stream, by the rubbing they get from other
stones.--Reformers should move gently, and have long patience.--The more
haste the worst speed.--Killing rats.--12. Unbelief, when not a sin, is
a terrible calamity: a world of calamities in one, 406

CONCLUDING REMARKS, 437



PREFACE.


The object of this Book is, First, to explain a portion of my own
history, and, Secondly, to check the spread of infidelity, and promote
the interests of Christianity. How far it is calculated to answer these
ends I do not pretend to know. I have no very high opinion of the work
myself. I fear it has great defects. On some points I may have said too
much, and on others too little. I cannot tell. I have however done my
best, and I would fain hope, that my labors will not prove to have been
altogether in vain.

I have spent considerable time with a view to bring my readers to
distinguish between the doctrines of Christ, and the theological
fictions which are so extensively propagated in His name. It is
exceedingly desirable that nothing should pass for Christianity, but
Christianity itself. And it is equally desirable that Christianity
should be seen in its true light, as presented in the teachings and
character, in the life and death of its great Author. A correct
exposition of Christianity is its best defence. A true, a plain, a
faithful and just exhibition of its spirit and teachings, and of its
adaptation to the wants of man, and of its tendency to promote his
highest welfare, is the best answer to all objections, and the most
convincing proof of its truth and divinity. And the truth, the
reasonableness, the consistency, the purifying and ennobling tendency,
and the unequalled consoling power of Christianity, _can_ be proved, and
proved with comparative ease; but to defend the nonsense, the
contradictions, the antinomianism and the blasphemies of theology is
impossible.

I have taken special pains to explain my views on the Divine
Inspiration of the Scriptures. I am satisfied that no attempts to answer
the objections of infidels against the Bible will prove satisfactory, so
long as men's views on this subject go beyond the teachings of the
Scriptures themselves. To the fanciful theories of a large number of
Theologians the sacred writings do not answer, and you must therefore,
either set aside those theories, and put a more moderate one in their
place, or give up the defence of the Bible in despair. I therefore leave
the extravagant theories to their fate, and content myself with what the
Scriptures themselves say; and I feel at rest and secure.

The views I have given on the subject in this work, and in my pamphlet
on the Bible, are not new. You may find them in the works of quite a
number of Evangelical Authors. The only credit to which I am entitled
is, that I state them with great plainness, and without reserve, and
that I do not, after having given them on one page, take them back again
on the next.

How far my friends will be able to receive or tolerate my views on these
points, I do not know. I hope they will ponder them with all the candor
and charity they can. I have kept as near to orthodox standards as I
could, without doing violence to my conscience, and injustice to the
truth. I would never be singular, if I could honestly help it. It is
nothing but a regard to God, and duty, and the interests of humanity,
that prevents me going with the multitude. It would be gratifying in the
extreme to see truth and the majority on one side, and to be permitted
to take my place with them: but if the majority take sides with error, I
must take my place with the minority, and look for my comfort in a good
conscience, and in the sweet assurance of God's love and favor.


_A Dream._

In looking over some manuscripts some time ago, belonging to a relation
of my wife's father-in-law, I found the following story of a dream. Some
have no regard for dreams, but I have. I have both read of dreams, and
had dreams myself, that answered marvellously to great realities; and
this may be one of that kind. In any case, as the Preface does not take
up all the space set apart for it, I am disposed to give it a few of the
vacant pages.

The dreamer's account of his dream is as follows.

'After tiring my brain one day with reading a long debate between a
Catholic and a Protestant about the Infallibility of the Church and the
Bible, I took a walk along a quiet field-path near the river, full of
thought on the subject on which I had been reading. The fresh air, the
pleasant scene, and the ripple of the stream, had such a soothing effect
on me, that I lost myself, and passed unconsciously from the World of
realities, into the Land of dreams. I found myself in a large Hall,
filled with an eager crowd, listening to a number of men who had
assembled, as I was told, to discuss the affairs of the Universe, and
put an end to controversy. The subject under discussion just then was
the Sun. I found that after the world had lived in its light for
thousands of years, and been happy in the abundance of the fruit, and
grain, and numberless blessings produced by his wondrous influences,
some one, who had looked at the Great Light through a powerful
telescope, had discovered that there were several dark spots on his disk
or face, and that some of them were of a very considerable size. He
named the matter to a number of his friends who, looking through the
telescope for themselves, saw that such was really the case.

'Now there happened to be an order of persons in the Land of dreams
whose business it was to praise the Sun, and extol its Light. And they
had a theory to the effect, that the Light of the Sun was unmixed, and
that the Sun itself was one uniform mass of brightness and brilliancy,
without speck, or spot, or any such thing. They held that the Head of
their order was the Maker of the Sun,--that He Himself was Light, and
that in Him was no darkness at all; and that the Sun was exactly like
Him, intense, unmingled, and unvarying Light. When these people heard of
the alleged discovery of the spots, they raised a tremendous cry, and
some howled, and some shrieked, and all united in pronouncing the
statement a fiction, and in denouncing in severe terms, both its author,
and all who took his part, as deceivers; as the enemies of the Sun, as
blasphemers of its Author, and as the enemies of the human race.

'This was one of the great controversies which this world-wide
convention had met to bring to an end.

'As I took my place in the Hall, one of the Professors of the Solar
University was speaking. He said the story about the spots was a wicked
calumny; and he went into a lengthy and labored argument to show, that
the thing was absurd and impossible. 'The Sun,' said he, 'was made by an
All-perfect Artificer,--made on purpose to be a Light, the Great Light
of the world, and a Light it must be, and nothing else but a Light; a
pure unsullied Light all round, without either spot, or speck of any
kind, or any varying shade of brilliancy in any part.' He added, 'To say
the contrary, is to do the Sun injustice, to dishonor its All-glorious
Author, to alienate the minds of men from the Heavenly Luminary, to
destroy their faith in his Light and warmth, to plunge the world into
darkness, and reduce it to a state of utter desolation. If the Sun is
not _all_ light, he is _no_ Light at all. If there be dark spots on one
part of his face, there may be dark spots on every part. _All_ may be
dark, and what seems Light may be an illusion; a false Light, 'that
leads to bewilder, and dazzles to blind.' He is not to be trusted. Every
thing is uncertain.' And he called the man who said he had seen the
spots, an impostor, a blasphemer, a _scavenger_, an ass, a foreigner,
and a number of other strange names.

'The man he was abusing so unmercifully, stepped forward, and in a meek
and quiet spirit said, 'I saw the spots with my own eyes. I have seen
them scores of times. I can show them to you, if you will look through
this glass.' 'Your glass is a cheat, a lie,' said the Professor. 'But
others have seen them,' said the man, 'as well as I, and seen them
through a number of other glasses.'

''It is impossible,' answered the Professor. 'A Sun made by an
All-perfect God, and made on purpose to be a Light, cannot possibly be
defaced with dark spots; and whoever says any thing to the contrary is
a ----.'

'Here the Professor rested his case;--'A Sun without spots, or no Sun.
Light without variation of shade, or no Light. Prove that the Sun has
spots, and you reduce him to a level with an old extinguished lamp, that
is fit for nothing but to be cast away as an unclean and worthless
thing. The honor of God, and the welfare of the universe all hang on
this one question,--Spots, or no spots!'

'His fellow professors took his part, and many spoke in the same strain.
But the belief in the spots made its way, and spread further every day,
and the consequence was, the obstinate Professors were confounded and
put to shame. Facts were too strong for them, and their credit and
influence were damaged beyond remedy.

'After the Professors of the Sun were silenced, the Man in the Moon
arose and spoke. He contended that both Sun and Moon were free from
spots, but said, that no one could see the Sun as it really was, unless
he _lived_ in the Moon, and looked at it from his standpoint. 'The
Moon,' said he, 'like the Sun, is the work of the All-perfect Creator;
and its face is one unchanging blaze of absolute and unvaried
brightness.'

'Now all who had ever looked at the Moon, had noticed, that no part of
her face was as bright as the Sun, and that some portions were of a
shade considerably darker than the rest. And I noticed that even the
Professors who had spoken extravagantly about the Sun, looked at each
other and smiled, when they heard the statements of the Man in the Moon.
Indeed there was such a tittering and a giggling through the Hall, that
the meeting was broken up.

'I hastened out, and found there were a hundred discussions going on in
the street. Many of the disputants seemed greatly excited. I felt
melancholy. A quiet-looking man, with a very gentle expression of
countenance, came up to me, and in tones of remarkable sweetness, said,
'You seem moved.' 'I feel troubled,' said I. 'I don't know what to
think; and I don't know what to do.' He smiled, and said, 'None of these
things move me.' Then lifting up his eyes towards Heaven he said,--'The
Sun still shines; and I feel his blessed warmth as sensibly as ever. And
the millions of our race still live and rejoice in his beams.' 'Thank
God,' said I: 'Yes, I see, he still shines; and I will rest contented
with his light and warmth.' 'The spots are there,' said he, 'past doubt;
but experience, the strongest evidence of all, proves that they do not
interfere with the beneficent influences of the Great and Glorious Orb,
or lessen his claims to our respect and veneration, or diminish one jot
our obligations to his great Author. They have their use, no doubt. The
Sun might be too brilliant without them, and destroy our eyes, instead
of giving us light. Too much light might prove as bad as too little. All
is well. I accept plain facts. To deny them is to fight against God. To
admit them and trust in God is the true faith, and the germ of all true
virtue and piety.

''I have no faith in the kind of absolute perfection those professors
contend for, either in Sun or Moon, Bible or Church; but I believe in
the SUFFICIENCY, or _practical_ perfection of all, and am as
happy, and only wish I were as good and useful, as ----'

'Just as he spoke those words, I awoke. He seemed as if he had much to
say, and I would fain have heard him talk his sweet talk till now; but
perhaps I had heard enough, and ought now to set myself heartily to
work, to get through with the business of my life.'

So ends the Dream-story.

Some writers seem to think that their readers should understand and
receive their views, however new and strange they may be, the moment
they place them before their minds. They cannot understand how that
which is clear to them, should not be plain to everybody else. And there
are some readers who seem to think, that every thing they meet with in
the books they read, however much it may be out of the way of their
ordinary thought, or however contrary to their long-cherished belief,
should, if it be really intelligible and true, appear so to them at
first glance. How can anything seem mysterious or untrue to them, that
is not mysterious or untrue in its very nature?

It so happened, that along with the dream-story, I found the following
fragment. It is not an interpretation of the dream, but it seems as if
it might teach a useful lesson, both to writers and readers.

'Something more than light, and eyes, and surrounding objects, is
necessary to seeing. A new-born child may have light, and eyes, and
surrounding objects, and yet not see anything distinctly. And a man born
blind may have the film removed from his eyes, and be placed, at
noontide, in the midst of a world of interesting objects, and yet,
instead of seeing things, as _we_ see them, have nothing but a
confounding and distressing sensation. Seeing, as _we_ see, is the
result of habit, acquired by long-continued use. The new-born babe must
have time to exercise its eyes, and exercise its little mind as well,
before it can distinguish face from face, and form from form. The man
who has just received his sight must have time for similar exercise,
before he can enjoy the rich pleasures and advantages of sight to
perfection. Even we who have had our sight for fifty years do not see as
many things in a picture, a landscape, or a bed of flowers, when we see
them for the first time, as those who have been accustomed to inspect
and examine such objects for years.

'And so it is with mental and moral vision. Something more than a mind,
and instruction, and mental objects are necessary to enable a man to
understand religion and duty. Attention, study, comparison, continued
with calmness, and candor, and patience, for days, for months, or for
years, may be necessary to enable a skeptic to understand, to believe,
and to feel like those who have long been disciples of Christ.

'And a change of habits, continued till it produces a change of tastes
and desires, is necessary to prepare the sensualist to judge correctly
with regard to things moral and religious. We must not therefore expect
a good lecture, or an able book, to cure a skeptic of his doubts at
once. It may produce an effect which, in time, if the party be faithful
to duty, will _end_ in his conversion at a future day. The seed
committed to the soil does not produce rich harvests in a day. A change
of air and habits does not at once regenerate the invalid. The
husbandman has to wait long for his crop: and the physician has to wait
long for the recovery of his patient. And the skeptic has to wait long,
till the seed of truth, deposited in his soul, unfolds its germs, and
produces the rich ripe harvest of faith, and holiness, and joy.

'And preachers and teachers must not think it strange, if their hearers
and readers are slow to change. Nor must they despond even though no
signs of improvement appear for months or years. A change for the better
in a student may not be manifest till it has been in progress for years.
It may not be perfected for many years. You cannot force a change of
mind, as you can force the growth of a plant in a hot-house. An attempt
to do so might stop it altogether. Baxter said, two hundred years ago,
'Nothing so much hindereth the reception of the truth, as urging it on
men with too much importunity, and falling too heavily on their errors.'

'Have patience, then. Teach, as your pupil may be prepared to learn, but
respect the laws of the Eternal, which have fixed long intervals for
slow and silent processes, between the seed-time and the harvest-home.'

While I am in doubt as to whether I have put into my book too much on
some subjects, I am thoroughly convinced that I have put into it too
little on others. I have not said enough, nor half enough, on Atheism. I
ought to have exposed its groundlessness, its folly, and its mischievous
and miserable tendency at considerable length.

This defect I shall try to remedy as soon as possible, and in the best
way I can.

Some weeks ago I read a paper before the M. E. Preachers' Meeting of
Philadelphia, on ATHEISM,--what can it say for itself? The
paper was received with great favor, and many asked for its publication.
It will form the first article in my next volume.

I expect, in fact, to give the subject of Atheism a pretty thorough
examination in that volume, and to show that it is irrational and
demoralizing from beginning to end, and to the last extreme.

John Stuart Mill, the head and representative of English Literary and
Philosophical Atheists, has left us a history of his life, and of his
father's life. In this work he presents us with full length portraits of
himself and his father, and both gives us their reasons for being
Atheists, and reveals to us the influence of their Atheism on their
hearts and characters, as well as on their views on morality, politics,
and other important subjects.

And though the painter, as we might expect, flatters to some extent both
himself and his father, yet he gives us the more important features of
both so truthfully, that we have no difficulty in learning from them,
what kind of creatures great Philosophical Atheists are, or in gathering
from their works a great amount of information about infidelity, of the
most melancholy, but of the most interesting and important character.

This Autobiography of Mr. Mill I propose to review. I meant to review it
in this volume, but I had not room. I intend therefore to give it a
place in my next volume, which may be looked for in the course of the
year.

Another work has just been published, called _The Old Faith and the
New_. It is the last and most important work of D. F. Strauss, the
greatest and ablest advocate of antichristian and atheistic views that
the ages have produced,--the Colossus or Goliath of all the infidel
hosts of Christendom. In this work, which he calls his CONFESSION,
Strauss, like Mill, gives us a portrait of himself, exhibiting not only
his views, and the arguments by which he labors to sustain them, but the
influence of those views on the hearts, the lives, the characters, and
the enjoyments of men. If this Book can be answered,--if the arguments
of Strauss can be fairly met, and his views effectually refuted,
infidelity must suffer serious damage, and the cause of Christianity be
greatly benefited. I have gone through the Book with great care. I have
measured and weighed its arguments. And my conviction is, that the work
admits of a thorough and satisfactory refutation. If I had had space, I
should have made some remarks on it in this volume: but I had not. I
propose therefore to review it at considerable length in my next.

Some time ago Robert Owen was a prominent man in the infidel world. He
was extolled by his friends as a great Philanthropist. He too left us a
history of his life, and his son, Robert Dale Owen, has just been
repeating portions of that history in the Atlantic Monthly. It may be
interesting to my readers to know what Atheism can do in the way of
Philanthropy. We propose therefore to add a review of the Life of Robert
Owen to those of Strauss and Mill.

Robert Dale Owen himself was an Atheist formerly, and a very zealous and
able advocate of Atheistical views. He gives his articles in the
Atlantic Monthly as an autobiography, and seeks to make the impression
that he has revealed to his readers all the important facts of his
history without reserve. And he has certainly revealed some strange
things. But there are certain facts which he has _not_ revealed, facts
of great importance too, calculated to show the demoralizing tendency of
infidelity. We propose to render the autobiography of Mr. Dale Owen more
complete, more interesting, and more instructive, by the addition of
some of those facts.

Frances or Fanny Wright was a friend of Mr. Dale Owen's. She was the
great representative female Atheist of her time. Like Mr. Dale Owen's
father, she was rich, and like him, seemed desirous to do something in
the way of philanthropy. Mr. Dale Owen, who was her agent for some time,
gives us some interesting facts with regard to her history, which may
prove of service to our readers.

In Buckle we have an Atheistical Historian, who endeavors to prove that
we are indebted for all the advantages of our superior civilization, not
to Christianity, but to natural science and skepticism alone. He
represents Christianity as the enemy of science, and as the great
impediment to the advance of civilization. These views of Buckle we
regard as false and foolish to the last extreme, and we expect to be
able to show that Europe and America are indebted for their superior
civilization, and even for their rich treasures of natural science,
_not_ to infidelity, but to the influence of Christianity.

Matthew Arnold has just published an interesting book entitled
LITERATURE AND DOGMA. It is however a mixed work; and we
propose, while noticing a number of its beautiful utterances, to make a
few remarks on some of its objectionable sentiments.

There is a great multitude of important facts with regard to
Christianity,--facts which can be understood and appreciated by persons
of ordinary capacity, and which no man of intelligence and candor will
be disposed to call in question; yet facts of such a character as cannot
fail, when duly considered, to leave the impression on men's minds, that
Christianity is the perfection of all wisdom and goodness, and worthy of
acceptance as a revelation from an all-perfect God, and as the mightiest
and most beneficent friend of mankind. A number of those facts we
propose to give in our next volume.



MODERN SKEPTICISM.



CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION.


When a man has travelled far, and seen strange lands, and dwelt among
strange peoples, and encountered unusual dangers, it is natural, on his
return home, that he should feel disposed to communicate to his family
and friends some of the incidents of his travels, and some of the
discoveries which he may have made on his way.

So when a man has travelled far along the way of life, especially if he
has ventured on strange paths, and come in contact with strange
characters, and had altogether a large and varied experience, it is
natural, as he draws near to the end of his journey, or when he reaches
one of its more important stages, that he should feel disposed to
communicate to his friends and kindred some of the incidents of his
life's pilgrimage, and some of the lessons which his experience may have
engraven on his heart. He will especially be anxious to guard those who
have life's journey yet before them, against the errors into which he
may have fallen, and so preserve them from the sorrows that he may have
had to endure.

And so it is with me. I have travelled far along the way of life. I may
now be near its close. I have certainly of late passed one of its most
important stages. I have had a somewhat eventful journey. There are but
few perhaps who have had a larger or more varied experience. I have
committed great errors, and I have in consequence passed through
grievous sorrows; and I would fain do something towards saving those who
come after me from similar errors and from similar sorrows: and this is
the object of the work before you.

At an early period, when I was little more than sixteen years of age, I
became a member of the Methodist society. Before I was twenty I became a
local preacher. Before I was twenty-three I became a travelling
preacher; and after I had got over the first great difficulties of my
calling, I was happy in my work; as happy as a mortal man need wish to
be. It was my delight to read good books, to study God's Word and works,
and to store my mind with useful knowledge. To preach the Gospel, to
turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, and
to promote the instruction and improvement of God's people were the joy
and rejoicing of my soul. There were times, and those not a few, when I
could sing with Wesley--

     "In a rapture of joy my life I employ,
       The God of my life to proclaim:
     'Tis worth living for this, to administer bliss
       And salvation in Jesus's name."

And I was very successful in my work. I never travelled in a circuit in
which there was not a considerable increase of members, and in one place
where I was stationed, the numbers in church-fellowship were more than
doubled in less than eighteen months.

In those days it never once entered my mind that I could ever be
anything else but a Christian minister: yet in course of time I ceased
to be one; ceased to be even a Christian. I was severed first from the
Church, and then from Christ, and I wandered at length far away into the
regions of doubt and unbelief, and came near to the outermost confines
of eternal night. And the question arises,

How happened this? And how happened it that, after having wandered so
far away, I was permitted to return to my present happy position?

These two questions I shall endeavor, to the best of my ability, to
answer.



CHAPTER II.

CAUSES OF UNBELIEF.


How came I to wander into doubt and unbelief?

1. There are several causes of skepticism and infidelity. One is vice.
When a man is bent on forbidden pleasures, he finds it hard to believe
in the truth and divinity of a religion that condemns his vicious
indulgences. And the longer he persists in his evil course, the darker
becomes his understanding, the more corrupt his tastes, and the more
perverse his judgment; until at length he "puts darkness for light, and
light for darkness; calls evil good and good evil, and mistakes bitter
for sweet, and sweet for bitter." He becomes an infidel. It is the
decree of Heaven that men who persist in seeking pleasure in
unrighteousness, shall be given up to strong delusions of the devil to
believe a lie.

2. But there are other causes of skepticism and unbelief besides vice.
Thomas was an unbeliever for a time,--a very resolute one,--yet the
Gospel gives no intimation that he was chargeable with any form of vice.
And John the Baptist, one of the noblest characters in sacred history,
after having proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah to others, came himself to
doubt, whether He was really "the one that should come, or they should
look for another." Like the early disciples of the Saviour, and the
Jewish people generally, John expected the Messiah to take the throne of
David by force, and to rule as a temporal prince; and when Jesus took a
course so very different, his confidence in his Messiahship was shaken.
And one of the sweetest Psalmists tells us that, as for him, his feet
were almost gone; his steps had well-nigh slipped: and that, not because
he was eager for sinful pleasures, but because he saw darkness and
clouds around the Providence of God: he could not understand or "justify
the ways of God to man."

And there are thoughtful and good men still who fall into doubt and
unbelief from similar causes. The kind of people who, like Thomas, are
constitutionally inclined to doubt, are not all dead. Baxter mentions a
class of men who lived in his day, that were always craving for sensible
demonstrations. Like Thomas, they wanted to _see_ and _feel_ before they
believed. In other words, they were not content with faith; they wanted
_knowledge_. And there are men of that kind still in the world.

And the darkness and clouds which the Psalmist saw around the providence
of God are not all gone. There are many things in connection with the
government of the world that are hard to be understood,--hard to be
reconciled by many with their ideas of what is right. There are
mysteries both in nature and in history, which baffle the minds and try
the faith of the best and wisest of our race.

3. And there are matters in connection with Christianity to try the
faith of men. Like its great Author, when it first made its appearance,
it had "neither form nor comeliness" in the eyes of many. It neither met
the expectations of the selfish, proud, ambitious Jew, nor of the
disputatious, philosophic Greek. To the one "it was a stumbling-block,"
and to the other "foolishness." And there have been men in every age,
who have been unable to find in Christianity all that their preconceived
notions had led them to expect in a religion from Heaven. There are men
still, even among the sincerest and devoutest friends of Christianity,
who are puzzled and staggered at times by the mysterious aspects of some
of its doctrines, or by some of the facts connected with its history.
They cannot understand, for instance, how it is that it has not spread
more rapidly, and become, before this, the religion of the whole world.
You tell them the fault is in its disciples and ministers, and not in
Christianity itself. But they cannot understand why God should allow the
success of a system so important to depend on faithless or fallible men.
Nor can they understand how it is that in the nations in which the
Gospel has been received, it has not worked a greater transformation of
character, and produced a happier change in their condition. How is it,
they ask, that it has not extinguished the spirit of war, destroyed the
sordid lust for gain, developed more fully the spirit of
self-sacrificing generosity, and converted society into one great
brotherhood of love? How is it that the Church is not more holy, more
united, and more prosperous,--that professors and teachers of
Christianity do not exhibit more of the Christian character, and follow
more closely the example of the meek and lowly, the loving and
laborious, the condescending and self-sacrificing Saviour whose name
they bear? They are amazed that so little is done by professing
Christians to save the perishing classes; that so many of the churches,
instead of grappling with the vice and wretchedness of our large towns,
turn their backs on them, build their churches in aristocratic
neighborhoods mostly, and compete with one another for the favor of the
rich and powerful. They cannot understand how it is, that churches and
ministers do not exert themselves more for the extinction of
drunkenness, gambling, and licentiousness, and for the suppression of
all trades and customs that minister to sin. It startles them to see to
what a fearful extent the churches have allowed the power of the press,
which once was all their own, to pass out of their hands, into the hands
of selfish, worldly, and godless adventurers. These matters admit of
explanation, but there are many to whose minds the explanation is never
presented, and there are some whom nothing will relieve from perplexity
and doubt but a grander display of Christian zeal and philanthropic
effort, on the part of the churches, for the regeneration of society.

4. Then the religion of Christ is not, as a rule, presented to men in
its loveliest and most winning, or in its grandest and most overpowering
form. As presented in the teachings and character of Christ,
Christianity is the perfection of wisdom and goodness, the most glorious
revelation of God and duty the mind of man can conceive: but as
presented in the creeds, and characters, and writings of many of its
teachers and advocates, it has neither beauty, nor worth, nor
credibility. Some teach only a very small portion of Christianity, and
the portion they teach they often teach amiss. Some doctrines they
exaggerate, and others they maim. Some they caricature, distort, or
pervert. And many add to the Gospel inventions of their own, or foolish
traditions received from their fathers; and the truth is hid under a
mass of error. Many conceal and disfigure the truth by putting it in an
antiquated and outlandish dress. The language of many theologians, like
the Latin of the Romish Church, is, to vast numbers, a dead
language,--an unknown tongue. There are hundreds of words and phrases
used by preachers and religious writers which neither they nor their
hearers or readers understand. In some of them there is nothing to be
understood. They are mere words; meaningless sounds. Some of them have
meanings, but they are hard to come at, and when you have got at them
you find them to be worse than none. They are falsehoods that lurk
within the dark and antiquated words. I have heard and even read whole
sermons in which nine sentences out of ten had no more meaning in them
than the chatter of an ape. Perhaps not so much. I have gone through
large volumes and found hardly a respectable, plain-meaning sentence
from beginning to end. And wagon loads of so-called religious books may
still be found, in which, as in the talk of one of Shakespeare's
characters, the ideas are to the words as three grains of wheat to a
bushel of chaff; you may search for them all day before you find them;
and when you find them they are good for nothing. When I first came
across such books I supposed it was my ignorance or want of capacity
that made it impossible for me to understand them; but I found, at
length, that there was nothing in them to understand. There are other
books which have a meaning, a good meaning, but it is wrapped up in such
out-of-the-way words and phrases, that it is difficult to get at it. Men
of science have not only discarded the foolish fictions of darker ages,
but have begun to simplify their language; to cast aside the unspeakable
and unintelligible jargon of the past, and to use plain, good, common
English, thus rendering the study of nature pleasant even to children;
while many divines, by clinging to the unmeaning and mischievous
phraseology of ancient dreamers, render the study of religion repulsive,
and the attainment of sound Christian knowledge almost impossible to the
masses of mankind. And all these things become occasions of unbelief.
"So long as Christian preachers and writers are limited so much to human
creeds and systems, or to stereotyped phrases of any kind, and avail
themselves so little of the popular diction of literature and of common
life, so long must they repel many whom they might convince and win."
Dr. Porter, _President of Yale College_.

5. Then again: the divisions of the Church, and the uncharitable spirit
in which points of difference between contending sects are discussed,
and the disposition sometimes shown by religious disputants to impugn
each other's motives, to call each other offensive names, and to consign
each other to perdition, are occasions of stumbling to some.

6. And again: many advocates of Christianity, more zealous than wise,
say more about the Bible and Christianity than is true, and attempt to
prove points which do not admit of proof; and by their unguarded
assertions, and their failures in argument, bring the truth itself into
discredit. Others use unsound arguments in support of the truth, and
when men discover the unsoundness of the arguments, they are led
sometimes to suspect the soundness of the doctrine in behalf of which
they are employed. The pious frauds of ancient and modern fanatics have
proved a stumbling-block to thousands.

Albert Barnes says, "There is no class of men that are so liable to rely
on weak and inconclusive reasonings as preachers of the Gospel. Many a
young man in a Theological Seminary is on the verge of infidelity from
the nature of the reasoning employed by his instructor in defence of
that which is true, and which might be well defended: and many a youth
in our congregations is almost or quite a skeptic, not because he wishes
to be so, but because that which is true is supported by such worthless
arguments."

7. Again; theological students sometimes adopt erroneous principles or
unwise methods of reasoning in their search after truth, and do not
discover their mistake till they are landed in doubt and unbelief. They
find certain principles laid down by men in high repute for science, and
adopt them without hesitation, not considering that men of science are
sometimes mad, fanatical infidels, and that they manufacture principles
without regard to truth, for the simple purpose of undermining men's
faith in God and religion. Writers on science of one school tell you,
that in your study of nature, you must be careful never to admit the
doctrine of final causes; or, in other words, that you must never
entertain the idea that anything in nature was meant to answer any
particular purpose. You must, say they, if you would be a true
philosopher, shut out from your mind all idea of design or contrivance
in the works of nature. You must just look at what is, and not ask what
it is for. You may find wonderful adaptations of things to each other,
all tending to happy results; but you must never suppose that any one
ever _designed_ or _planned_ those adaptations, with a _view_ to those
happy results. You must confine yourself entirely to what you see, and
never admit the thought of a Maker whom you do not see. You must limit
your observations to what is done, and not dream of a Doer. You may see
things tending to the diffusion of happiness, but must not suppose that
there is a great unseen Benefactor, who gives them this blessed
tendency. And if you feel in yourself a disposition to gratitude, you
must treat it as a foolish, childish fancy, and suppress it as
irrational.

A sillier or a more contemptible notion--a notion more opposed to true
philosophy and common sense,--can hardly be conceived. How any one could
ever have the ignorance or the impudence to propound such an unnatural
and monstrous absurdity as a great philosophical principle, would be a
mystery, if we did not know how infidelity perverts men's
understandings, and, while puffing them up with infinite conceit of
their own wisdom, transforms them into the most arrant and outrageous
fools.

Yet this monstrous folly has found its way into books, and papers, and
reviews, and, through them, into the minds of some Christian students;
and when the madness of the notion is not detected, it destroys their
faith, and makes them miserable infidels.

Some adopt the principle that reason is man's only guide,--that reason
alone is judge of what is true and good, and that to reason every thing
must be submitted, and received or rejected, done or left undone, as
reason may decide. This sounds very plausible to many, and there is a
sense in which it may be true; but there is a sense in which it is
fearfully false; and the youth that adopts it, and acts upon it, will be
likely to land himself in utter doubt, both with regard to religion and
morals. There are numbers of cases in which reason is no guide at
all,--in which instinct, natural affection, and consciousness are our
only guides. You can never prove by what is generally called reason
alone, that man is not a machine, governed entirely by forces over
which he has no control. You cannot therefore prove by what certain
philosophers call reason, that any man is worthy of reward or
punishment, of praise or blame, of gratitude or of resentment; or that
there is any such thing in men as virtue or vice, according to the
ordinary sense of the words. The ablest logicians on earth, when they
take reason alone as their guide, come to the conclusion that there is
no such thing as liberty or moral responsibility, in the ordinary
acceptation of the terms, but that all is fixed, that all is fate, from
eternity to eternity. They accordingly come to the further conclusion,
that there is no free, voluntary Ruler of the universe,--that there is
no Almighty Judge and Rewarder,--that there is neither reward nor
punishment, properly speaking, either in this world or in the world to
come. They become atheists.

You can never prove by reason that a woman ought to love her own child
better than the child of another woman. You cannot prove by reason that
she ought to love it at all. You may say no children would be reared if
mothers did not love their children, and even love them better than the
children of other mothers. But how will you prove that children _ought_
to be reared? Can you show that the mother will confer any advantage on
her child, or secure any advantage to herself, or any one else, by
rearing it? Can you prove that it will not be a torment to her,--that it
will not bring her to want, and shame, and an untimely death? The fact
is, a mother's love, a mother's partiality for her own child, is not a
matter of reason. The hen loves her chickens, the she bear loves its
cubs, the mother dog loves its whelps, and the ewe loves her lambs,
without any regard to reason. Their affections and preferences are
governed by something infinitely wiser than reason; infinitely higher,
at least, than any reason that _man_ can boast. And men love women, and
women love men, and men and women marry and form new families, not at
the bidding of reason, but under the influence of instincts or impulses
that come from a wisdom infinitely higher than the wisdom of the wisest
man on earth. And so it is with many of our beliefs. They are
instinctive; and reason, when it becomes reasonable enough to deserve
the name, will advise you to cherish those instinctive beliefs as your
life, in spite of all the infidel philosophy and reasoning on earth.

But even honest and well-disposed men of science sometimes form bad,
defective, or one-sided habits of thought and judgment unconsciously,
which render it impossible for them to do justice either to Nature or
Christianity as revelations of the character and government of God. And
these faulty habits of thought and judgment, and the anti-Christian
conclusions to which they lead, pass on from men of science to literary
men; and literature is vitiated, and books and periodicals which should
lead men to truth, cause them to err. Thus skeptical principles pervade
society. They find advocates at times even among men who call themselves
ministers of Christ. The consequence is, that well-disposed, and even
pious young men, are perplexed, bewildered, and some who, like John the
Baptist, were "burning and shining lights," become "wandering stars,"
and lose themselves, for a time at least, amidst the "blackness and
darkness" of doubt and despair.



CHAPTER III.

ANOTHER CAUSE OF UNBELIEF--BAD FEELING. THE AUTHOR'S CASE.


There are several other causes of doubt and unbelief which we might
name, if we had time; but we have not. There is one however which we
must notice, because it had considerable influence in our own case; we
refer to the bad feeling which sometimes takes possession of the minds
of Christians towards each other, or of the minds of ministers towards
their brother ministers.

You are aware, perhaps, that if you scratch the skin, and introduce a
little diseased animal matter to the blood, it will gradually spread
itself through the system, and in time poison the whole body. And if you
do not know this, you know, that if you take a little leaven, and place
it in a mass of meal, and leave it there to work unchecked, it will in
time leaven the whole lump. And as it is with things natural, so it is
with things spiritual. If you allow a little leaven of bad feeling to
get into your minds towards your fellow Christians or your brother
ministers, and permit it to remain there, it will in time infect your
whole soul, impair the action of all its faculties, and after alienating
you from individuals, separate you first from the Church, and then from
Christ and Christianity.

There is a passage in the Bible which says that judges are not to take
gifts; and the reason assigned is, not that if a judge accepts a present
he will, with his eyes open, wilfully condemn the innocent or acquit the
guilty; but that "a gift _blindeth the eyes_," even "of the wise," so
that he is no longer able to see clearly which is the guilty and which
the guiltless party. And there is another passage in the Bible which
says that "oppression driveth a wise man mad." The feeling a man has
that he has been wickedly, cruelly treated, excites his mind so
painfully and violently, that it is impossible for him to think well of
the character or views of his oppressor, or of any party, institution,
or system with which he may be connected.

As some friends of mine were canvassing for votes one day, previous to
an election, they came upon a man who could not, for a time, say for
which candidate he would vote. At length a thought struck him, and he
said, "Who is John Myers going to vote for?" "Oh," said my friends,
"he's going to vote for _our_ man." "Then I'll vote for the other man,"
said he, "for I'm sure Myers will vote wrong." Myers had swindled him in
a business transaction; and his feelings towards him were so strong, and
of so unpleasant a kind, that he could not think anything right that
Myers did, nor could he think anything wrong that he himself did, so
long as he took care to go contrary to Myers.

It is very natural to smile at such weakness when we see it in others,
and yet exhibit unconsciously the same weakness ourselves under another
form. There are some Christians who, when their minister pleases them
well, are quite delighted with his discourses. They are "marrow and
fatness" to their souls. And every sermon he preaches seems better than
the one that went before; and they feel as if they could sit under that
dear good man for ever. But a change comes over their feelings with
regard to him. While going his round of pastoral visits some day, he
passes their door, but calls at the house of a richer neighbor a little
lower down: or on visiting the Sunday-school, he pats someone's little
boy on the head, and speaks to him kind and pleasant words, while he
passes their little son unnoticed. He has no improper design in what he
does; but it happens so; that is all. The idea of partiality never
enters his mind. But they fancy he has got something wrong in his mind
towards them; and it is certain now that they have got something wrong
in their minds towards him. And now his sermons are quite changed. The
"marrow and fatness" are all gone, and there is nothing left but "the
husks which the swine should eat." And every sermon he preaches seems
worse than the one which went before, until at length they get quite
weary, and their only comfort is, if they be Methodists, that Conference
will come some day, and they will have a change. And all this time the
preacher is just the same good man he ever was, and his sermons are the
same; only _they_ are changed. They have misjudged him, and become the
subjects of unhappy feeling, and are no longer capable of doing either
him or his sermons justice.

And the longer the unhappy feeling is allowed to remain in their minds,
the stronger it will become, and the more mischievous will it prove.
After disabling or perverting their judgments with regard to their
pastor, it will be in danger of separating them from the Church; and
when once they get out of the Church into the outside world, no wonder
if they make shipwreck both of faith, and of a good conscience.

And so it is continually. Our views of men's characters, talents,
sentiments, are always more or less influenced by our feelings and
affections. If we like a man very much, we look on his views in the most
favorable light, and are glad to see anything like a reason for adopting
them ourselves. We give his words and deeds the most favorable
interpretation, and we rate his gifts and graces above their real value.
On the other hand, if we dislike a man,--if we are led to regard him as
an enemy, and to harbor feelings of resentment towards him, we look on
what he says and does with distrust; we suspect his motives; we
under-rate his talents, and are pleased to have an excuse for differing
from him in opinion.

We see proofs of this power of feeling and affection over the judgment
on every hand. The mother of that ordinary-looking and troublesome child
thinks it the most beautiful and engaging little creature under heaven;
while she wonders how people can have patience with her neighbor's
child, which, in truth, is quite a cherub or an angel compared with
her's. You know how it is with natural light. You sit inside an ancient
cathedral, and the light from the bright shining sun streams in through
the painted windows. Outside the cathedral the light is all pure white;
but inside, as it falls upon the pulpit, the pillars, the pews and the
people, it is purple, orange, violet, blue, red, or green, according to
the color of the glass through which it passes. It is the same with
moral or spiritual light; it takes the tint or hue of the painted
windows of our passions and prejudices, our likes and dislikes, through
which it enters our minds. The light that finds its way into men's
minds, says Bacon, is never pure, white light; but light colored by the
medium through which it passes. Look where we will, whether into books
or into the living world, we see differences of opinion on men and
things that can be accounted for on no other principle than that the
judgments of people are influenced by their passions and feelings, their
prejudices and interests. The Royalists looked on Cromwell through
spectacles of hate and vengeance, and saw a monster of hypocrisy and
blood. The Puritans looked at him through spectacles of revolutionary
fanaticism, and saw a glorious saint and hero. The clergy looked on
Nonconformists through conservative glasses, and saw a rabble of
fanatics and rebels. The Nonconformists looked on the clergy through
revolutionary glasses, and saw a host of superstitious formalists, and
blind, persecuting Pharisees. The man who looks through the unstained
glasses of impartiality, sees much that is good, and something that is
not good, in all.

Who, that knows much of human nature, expects Catholics to judge
righteously of Protestants, or Protestants to judge righteously of
Catholics? Who, that knows anything of the world, expects revolutionary
Radicals to do justice to the characters and motives of Conservatives,
or ejected Irishmen to see anything in Englishmen but robbers and
tyrants? I know that all this is great weakness, but where is the man
that is not weak? The man who thinks himself free from this weakness,
has probably a double share of it. The man who is really strong is some
one who is keenly sensible of his weakness, and who feels that his
sufficiency is of God. Weakness and humanity are one.

I dwell the longer on this point because, as I have already intimated, a
right understanding of it will go far towards explaining the disastrous
change which took place in my own mind with regard to Christianity. One
great cause of my separation from the Church, and then of my
estrangement from Christ, was the influence of bad feeling which took
possession of my mind towards a number of my brother ministers.



CHAPTER IV.

ORIGIN OF THE UNHAPPY FEELING--CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AUTHOR'S
MIND--RATIONALIZING TENDENCY.


How came I to be the subject of this bad feeling? I will tell you.

As a young minister I had two or three marked tendencies. One may be
called a rationalizing tendency. I was anxious, in the first place,
clearly to understand all my professed beliefs, and to be able, in the
second place, to make them plain to others. I never liked to travel in a
fog, wrapped round as with a blinding cloud, unable either to see my
way, or to get a view of the things with which I was surrounded. I liked
a clear, bright sky, with the sun shining full upon my path, and
gladdening my eyes with a view of a thousand interesting objects. And so
with regard to spiritual matters. I never liked to travel in theological
fogs. They pressed on me at the outset of my religious life, on every
side, hiding from my view the wonders and the glories of God's word and
works; but I never rested in the darkness. I longed and prayed for light
with all my soul, and sought for it with all my powers. Regarding the
Bible as God's Book, given to man for his instruction and salvation, I
resolved, by God's help, to find out both what it said and what it
meant, on every important point of truth and duty.

1. I became sensible, very early in life, that the doctrines I had
received from my teachers were, in some cases, inconsistent with each
other, and that they could not therefore all be true; and I was anxious
to get rid of this inconsistency, and to bring the whole of my beliefs
into harmony with each other.

2. I was also anxious to bring my views into agreement with the
teachings of Christ and His Apostles. I wished every article of my
belief to rest, not on the word of man, but on the word of God. I
believed it to be my duty to come as near to Christ as possible, both in
my views and character. And I wished my style of preaching and teaching
to be, like His, the perfection of plainness and simplicity. I felt that
my chief mission was to the masses,--that I was called especially to
preach and teach the Gospel to the poor; and it was my wish to be able
to make it plain to people of the most defective education, and of the
humblest capacity.

3. I was further wishful to see an agreement between the doctrines which
I gathered from the Sacred Scriptures, and the oracles which came to me
from the works of God in nature. If nature and Christianity were from
the same All-perfect God, as I believed, their voices must be one. Their
lessons of truth and duty must agree. They must have the same end and
tendency. Christian precepts must be in harmony with man's mental and
bodily constitution. They must be conducive to the development of all
man's powers; to the perfection and happiness of his whole being. They
must be friendly to the improvement of his condition. They must favor
every thing that is conducive to his personal and domestic happiness,
and to the social and national welfare of the whole human race. And the
doctrines of Christianity must be in harmony with the constitution, and
laws, and phenomena of the visible universe. If there be one Great,
All-perfect Creator and Governor of the world and of man, then man and
the universe, the universe and religion, science and revelation,
philosophy and Christianity, the laws of nature and the laws of Christ,
must all be one. I wanted to see this oneness, and to feel the sweet
sense of it in my soul.

4. I wanted further to see the foundations on which my belief in God and
Christ and in the Sacred Scriptures rested, that I might be able to
justify my belief both to myself and to others. I wished to have the
fullest evidence and assurance of the truth of Christianity I could get,
that I might both feel at rest and happy myself, and be able to give
rest and comfort to the souls of others.

5. With these objects in view I set to work. I prayed to God, the Great
Father of lights, and the Giver of every good and perfect gift, to lead
me into all truth, and to furnish me to every good work. I read the
Bible with the greatest care. I searched it through and through. I
studied it daily, desirous to learn the whole scope and substance of its
teachings, on every point both of truth and duty. I marked on the margin
of the pages all those passages that struck me by their peculiar
clearness, and their fulness of important meaning. These passages I read
over again and again, till I got great numbers of them off by heart. I
gave each passage a particular mark according to the subject on which it
treated. I then copied the whole of these passages into large Note
Books, placing all that spake on any particular subject together. I also
arranged the passages so far as I was able, in their natural order, that
they might throw light on one another, and present the subject on which
they treated, in as full and intelligible a light as possible. I divided
the pages of my Note Books into two columns, placing the passages which
favored one view of a subject in the first column, and those which
seemed to favor a different view in the second. I placed in those Note
Books passages on matters of duty, as well as on matters of truth. In
this way I got nearly all the plainer and more important portions of the
Bible arranged in something like systematic order. Having done this, I
went through my Books, and put down in writing all that the passages
plainly taught, and marked the bearing of their teachings on the various
articles of my creed, with a view to bringing my creed, and the
teachings of Scripture, into agreement with each other.

6. To help me in these my labors, and to secure myself as far as
possible from serious error, I read a multitude of other books, on
almost every subject of importance, by authors of almost all varieties
of creeds. I read commentaries, sermons, bodies of divinity, and a host
of treatises on various points. To the best of my ability I examined the
Scriptures in the original languages, as well as in a number of
translations, both ancient and modern, including several Latin and
French versions, four German ones, and all the English ones that came in
my way. I had a number of Lexicons, and of Theological and Bible
Dictionaries of which I made free use. I went through the Commentaries
of Baxter, Wesley and Adam Clarke with the greatest care, as well as
through a huge and somewhat heterodox, but able and excellent work,
published by Goadby, entitled, _Illustrations of the Sacred Scriptures_.
I do not think I missed a single sentence in these commentaries, or
passed unweighed a single word.

I read and studied the writings of Wesley generally, and the works of
Fletcher, Benson and Watson. I read Hooker and Taylor also, and Wilkins,
and Barrow, and Tillotson, and Butler, and Burnet, and Pearson, and
Hoadley. I read the writings of Baxter almost continually. I went
through, not only the whole of his voluminous practical works, but many
of his doctrinal and controversial ones, including his Catholic
Theology, his Aphorisms on Justification, his Confessions, and his most
elaborate, comprehensive and wonderful work of all, his _Methodus
Theologiæ_, in Latin. In Baxter alone I had a world of materials for
thought, on almost every religious and moral subject that can engage the
mind of man. And on almost every subject of importance his thoughts
seemed rich and wholesome, scriptural and rational in the highest
degree. His Christian spirit held me captive, and I never got tired of
his earnest, eloquent, and godly talk. Even the old and endless
controversies on which he spent so much time and strength, were often
rendered interesting by the honesty of his heart, by the abundance of
his charity, by the moderation of his views, and by the never-failing
good sound sense of his remarks. None of the works I read had such a
charm for me as those of Baxter, and no other religious writer exerted
so powerful and lasting an influence either on my head or heart. Taylor
was too flowery, and Barrow too wordy, and Tillotson was rather cold and
formal; yet I read them all with profit, and with a great amount of
pleasure. Hooker I found a wonder, both for excellency of style and
richness of sentiment; and his piety and wisdom, his candor and his
charity, have never been surpassed since the days of Christ and His
Apostles. And Hoadley too I liked, and Butler, and Thomas a Kempis, and
William Law. And then came Bolton and Howe, and Doddridge and Watts.
Then Penn, and Barclay, and Clarkson, and Sewell, and Hales, and Dell
caught my attention, giving me interesting revelations of Quaker thought
and feeling.

And I was edified by Lactantius and Chrysostom, the most eloquent,
rational and practical of the Christian Fathers. By and by came
Priestley and Price, and Dr. John Taylor, and W. E. Channing, and a host
of others of the modern school of heterodox writers. I also read a
number of celebrated French authors, including Bossuet and Bourdaloue,
Flechier and Massillon, Pascal and Fenelon, and the eloquent, Protestant
preacher and author, M. Saurin. I read the principal works both of
Catholics and Protestants, of the Fathers and Reformers, of Churchmen
and Dissenters, of Quakers and Mystics, of Methodists and Calvinists, of
Unitarians and Infidels.

I read several works on Law and Government, including Puffendorf's Law
of Nature, Grotius on the Laws of Peace and War, Bodin on Government,
Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws, Blackstone's Commentaries, and Jeremy
Taylor's Ductor Dubitantium. I had read works on Anatomy, Physiology and
Medicine, when I could get hold of them, from the time when I was only
twelve years old. I never went far into any other sciences, yet I
studied, to some extent, Astronomy, Geology, Physical Geography, Botany,
Natural History, and Anthropology. I read Wesley's publication on
Natural Philosophy, and I gave more or less attention to every work on
science and natural philosophy that came in my way. Works on natural
religion and natural theology, in which science was taught and used in
subservience to Christian truth and duty, I read whenever I could get
hold of them. They interested me exceedingly. For works on Painting,
Sculpture, Architecture, I had not the least regard. They seemed to
have no tendency to help me in the work in which I was engaged, and I
had no desire to talk respectable nonsense on such subjects. I was fond
of Ecclesiastical and Civil History, and read most greedily such works
as threw light on the progress of society in learning, science, and
useful arts; in freedom, morals, religion and government. I read many of
the works of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and the history of the
wonderful periods in which they flourished. I was especially fond of
Cicero, Seneca, and Epictetus. All subjects bearing on the great
interests of mankind, and all works revealing the workings of the human
mind and the laws of human nature, seemed to me to bear important
relations to religion and the Bible; and the writings of the great
philosophers, lawyers, and historians, appeared to be almost as much in
my line as Baxter's Christian Directory, or Wesley's Notes on the New
Testament.

Tales of wars and intrigues, and of royal and aristocratic vices and
follies I hated. Yet I was interested in accounts of religious
controversies, and read with eagerness, though with pain and horror, the
tragic and soul-harrowing stories of the deadly conflicts between
Christian piety and anti-Christian intolerance. Above all I loved
well-written books on the beneficial influence of Christianity on the
temporal interests and the general happiness of mankind. I liked good
biographies, especially of celebrated students, great philosophers, and
remarkable Christian philanthropists. Of works of fiction I read very
few, and evermore still fewer as I got older, until at length I came to
view them generally as a great nuisance. There are few, I suppose, that
can say they read the whole, not only of Wesley's works, but of his
Christian Library, in fifty volumes; yet I went through the whole,
though one of the books was so profound, or else so silly, that I could
not find one sentence in it that I could properly understand. I read the
greater part of the books of my friends. I went through nearly the whole
library of a village about two miles distant from my native place. My
native place itself could not boast a library in those days. I read
scores, if not hundreds of books that taught me nothing but the
ignorance and self-conceit of the writers, and the various forms of
literary and religious insanity to which poor weak humanity is liable.

There was a large old Free Library at Newcastle-on-Tyne, left to the
city by a celebrated clergyman, which contained all the Fathers, all the
Greek and Roman Classics, all the more celebrated of the old Infidels,
all the old leading skeptical and lawless writers of Italy, and France,
and Holland, all the great old Church of England writers, and all the
leading writers of the Nonconformists, Dissenters, and Heretics of all
kinds. To this library I used to go, day after day, and stay from
morning to night, reading some of the great authors through, and
examining almost all of them sufficiently to enable me to see what there
was _in_ each, that I had not met with in the rest. Here I read Hobbes
and Machiavel, Bolingbroke and Shaftesbury, Tindal and Chubb. Here I
first saw the works of Cudworth and Chillingworth, and here too I first
found the entire works of Bacon and Newton, of Locke and Boyle. Here
also I read the works of some of the older defenders of the faith.
Grotius on the truth of the Christian religion I had read much earlier.
I had used it as a school book, translating it both out of Latin into
English, and out of English back into Latin, imprinting it thereby
almost word for word upon my memory. I had also read the work of his
commentator on the causes of incredulity. Leland on the deistical
writers, and Paley's Evidences, and others, I read after. But in this
great old library I met with numbers of interesting and important works
that I have never met with since. And here, in the dimly lighted
antiquated rooms, I used to fill my mind with a world of facts, and
thoughts, and fancies, and then go away to meditate upon them while
travelling on my way, or sitting in my room, or lying on my bed. Day and
night, alone and in company, these were the things which filled my mind
and exercised my thoughts.

And having a rather retentive memory, and considerable powers of
imagination, I was able at times to bring almost all the things of
importance which I had met with in my reading, before my mind, and
compare them both with each other, and with all that was already in my
memory. And whatever appeared to me most rational, most scriptural, I
treasured for future use, allowing the rest to drift away into
forgetfulness.

No one can imagine the happiness I found in this my search after truth,
except those who have experienced the like. I seemed at times to live in
a region of the highest and divinest bliss. Every fresh discovery of
truth, every detection of old error, every enlargement of my views,
brought unspeakable rapture; and had it not been for the
narrow-mindedness of some of my friends, the restraints of established
creeds, and the thought of the trials which my mental revels might some
day bring on me and my family, my life would have been a heaven on
earth.

Perhaps I read too much, or too greedily and variously. Would it not in
any case have been better for me to have refrained from reading the
writings of such a host of heretics, infidels, and mere natural
philosophers? It is certain that what I attempted was too much for my
powers, and too vast for one man's life. But I was not sufficiently
conscious of the infinitude of truth, or of the narrow limits of my
powers, or of the infinite mysteries of which humanity and the universe
are full. And my desire for knowledge was infinite, and my appetite was
very keen, and I was so desirous to be right on every subject bearing on
the religion of Christ, and on the great interests of mankind, that
nothing that I could do seemed too much if it seemed likely to help me
in the attainment of my object.

Then I had no considerate and enlightened guide; no friend, no
colleague, with a father's heart, to direct me in my studies or my
choice of books. There was one minister in the Body to which I belonged
that might have given me good counsel, if he had been at hand, but he
and I were never stationed in the same neighborhood. And he had suffered
so much on account of his superior intelligence and liberal tendencies,
that he might have felt unwilling to advise me freely. The preachers
generally could not understand me, and they had no sympathy with my
eager longings for religious knowledge. They could not comprehend what
in the world I could want beyond their own old stereotyped notions and
phrases, and the comfortable provision made for the supply of my
temporal wants. Why could I not check my thinking, enjoy my popularity,
and rejoice in the success of my labors? And when I could not take their
flippant counsels, they had nothing left but hints at unpleasant
consequences. There was nothing for me therefore, but to follow the
promptings of my own insatiate soul, and travel on alone in the fear of
God, hoping that things would get better, and my prospects grow brighter
by and by.

So I moved on in my own track, still digging for truth as for silver,
and searching for it as for hidden treasure. And I worked unceasingly,
and with all my might. I lost no time. I hated pleasure parties, and all
kinds of amusements. My work was my amusement. I hated company, unless
the subject of conversation could be religion, or something pertaining
to it. When obliged to go out and take dinner, or tea, or supper, I
always took a book or two with me, and if the company were not inclined
to spend the time in useful conversation, I would slip away into some
quiet room, or take a walk, and spend my time in reading. I always read
on my walks and on my journeys, if the weather was fair, and on some
occasions when it was not fair. My mind was always on the stretch. I had
no idea that I needed rest or recreation. It never entered into my mind
that I could get to the end of my mental strength, and when I was
actually exhausted,--when I had wearied both body and mind to the
utmost, so that writing and even reading became irksome to me, I still
accused myself of idleness, instead of suspecting myself of weariness. I
wonder that I lived. If my constitution had not been sound and elastic
to the last degree, I should have worn myself out, and been silent in
the dust, more than thirty years ago.

7. All the time that I was laboring to correct and enlarge my views of
Christian truth and duty, I was endeavoring to improve my way of
speaking and writing. I wished, of course, to be able to speak and write
correctly and forcibly, but what I longed for most of all, was to be
able to speak with the greatest possible plainness and simplicity to the
poorer and less favored classes. If there were things in Christianity
that were inexplicable mysteries, I had no wish to meddle with them at
all; if there was nothing but what was explicable, I wished to be able
to speak in such a manner as to make the whole subject of religion plain
to them. My belief was that there were _not_ any inexplicable mysteries
in Christianity; that though there were doctrines in Christianity which
had been mysteries in earlier times, they were mysteries now no longer,
but revelations; that the things which were inexplicable mysteries,
belonged to God, and that none but things that were revealed belonged to
us. My impression was, that all things spiritual could be made as plain
to people of common sense and honest hearts, as things natural; that all
that was necessary to this end, was first to separate from Christianity
all that was _not_ Christianity, and secondly, to translate Christianity
out of Latin and Greek, Hebrew and Gibberish, into the language of the
common people.

To qualify myself for this work of translation was the next great object
of all my studies. Paul regarded the unnecessary use of unknown tongues
in the assemblies of the Church, as a great nuisance. He demanded that
everything said in those assemblies, should be spoken in a language that
all could understand. Whether men prayed, or sang, or preached, he
insisted that they should do it in such a manner as to make themselves
intelligible. His remarks on this subject are the perfection of wisdom,
and deserve more attention from religious teachers than they are
accustomed to receive. Paul's wish was, that Christians should not only
all speak the same things, but that they should speak them in the same
way, so that they might all be able to understand each other, and that
outsiders might be able to understand them all. "Above all gifts," says
he, "covet the gift of plain and intelligible speaking. Never use an
unknown tongue so long as you can use a known one. He that speaketh in
an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men but unto God: for no man
understandeth him. He may talk about very good things, but no one is the
better for his talk. But he that speaketh in a known tongue can be
understood by all; and all are instructed, and comforted, and
strengthened. And even God can understand a known tongue as well as an
unknown one. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue may edify himself
perhaps; but he that speaketh in a known one, edifieth the Church. I do
not grudge you your unknown tongues, but I had a great deal rather you
would use a known one; for greater is he that speaketh in a known one,
than he that speaketh in an unknown one. True greatness does not consist
in saying or doing things wonderful; but in saying and doing things
useful,--in talking and acting in a loving, condescending,
self-sacrificing spirit, with a view to the comfort and welfare of our
brethren. Suppose I were to come to you speaking in tongues that you did
not understand, what good should I do you, unless I should translate
what I said into a tongue you could understand? And why should I say a
thing twice over when saying it once would do as well, and even better?
Everything should be made as plain as possible from the first. When you
have made things as plain as you can, there will be some that will find
it as much as they can do to catch your meaning. If you talk in an
unknown tongue they cannot get at your meaning at all, but only sit, and
stare, and sigh. Some poor silly souls may admire and applaud you; for
there are always some who, when they hear a man that they cannot
understand, will cry out, What a great preacher! But what good or
sensible man would wish for the praise of such creatures as those? Talk
intelligibly. Talk so that folks can tell what you are talking about. If
you have nothing worth saying, hold your tongues. If you _have_
something worth saying, say it so that people can understand it. Make
everything as clear as possible. We might as well be without tongues as
talk unintelligibly. Even things without life, giving sound, whether
pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it
be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain
sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except
ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be
known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, no one
knows how many voices in the world; and none of them without
signification. The voices of birds and the voices of beasts are endless
in variety; yet each has its own distinct intelligible meaning. All
creatures, though destitute of language like that of man, make
themselves properly understood by their mates, their kindred, and their
associates. They even make themselves intelligible to men. Talk of great
preachers;--why the man that cannot or will not preach so as to make
himself understood, is smaller, lower, less in the esteem of God, and
of good, sensible, Christian men and women, than the lowest animal, or
the smallest insect, on the face of the earth. Every sheep that bleats,
every ox that lows, every ass that brays, every bird that sings, and
every goose that gabbles, is more of a sage, if not more of a saint,
than the great preachers! The things so-called by a certain class of
simpletons, are about the most pitiable, if not the most blameable
creatures, in all God's universe. What then is the upshot of what I am
saying? It is this. Whether I sing, or pray, or talk, I will make myself
understood. I thank my God, I can speak with tongues more than you all;
and I _do_ speak with them when it is necessary to do so in order to
make myself understood: but in the Church, I had rather speak five words
in a tongue and a style that my hearers can understand, that by my voice
I may teach others, than ten thousand in an unknown tongue."

And so the great, good, common-sense Apostle goes on.

My wish and purpose were to carry out his principles to the farthest
possible extent. If I had tried hard, I could have preached in Latin.
With a little more effort I could have preached in Greek. I could have
preached in the ordinary, high-sounding, Frenchified, Latinized, mongrel
style, without an effort. It required an effort to keep clear of the
abomination. And I made the effort. I wanted to feel when speaking, that
I had not only myself a proper understanding of what I was talking
about, but that I was conveying correct and clear ideas of it to the
minds of my hearers. To utter words which I did not understand, or words
which I could not make my hearers understand, was a thing I could not
endure; and to this day, the very idea of such a thing excites in me a
kind of horror. I had no ambition to preach what were called great
sermons, or to be what was called a great preacher. My great desire was
not to astonish or confound people, but to do them good; to convey
religious truth to their minds in such a way, and so to impress it on
their hearts, that they might be converted, edified, and saved.

When I first began to preach I had a cousin who was commencing his
career as a minister at the same time. _He_ was ambitious to shine, and
to astonish his hearers by a show of learning. He knew nothing of Latin
and Greek, but he was fond of great high-sounding words of Greek and
Latin origin. He carried about with him a pocket dictionary, which he
used for the purpose of turning little words into big ones, and common
ones into strange ones. My taste was just the contrary. My desire was to
be as simple as possible. Like my companion, I often carried about with
me a pocket dictionary, but the end for which _I_ used it was, to help
me to turn big words into little ones, and strange and hard ones into
common and easy ones. And whenever I had to consult a dictionary in
translating Latin, or Greek, or any other language, into English, I
always took the simplest and best known words I could find to give the
meaning of the original. My cousin's desire to shine betrayed him at
times into very ridiculous blunders. I once heard him say, after having
spent some time in explaining his text, "But that I may _devil-hope_ the
subject a little more fully, I would observe, that the words are
_mephitical_." He, of course, meant to say, _metaphorical_, figurative,
not _mephitical_ which means of a _bad smell_. My plan secured me
against such mistakes.

To assist me in gaining a knowledge of the true meaning, and of the
right use of words, and to correct and simplify my style as much as
possible, I read whatever came in my way on grammar and philology, on
rhetoric and logic. I also collected a number of the best English
dictionaries, including a beautiful copy of Johnson's great work in two
thick quarto volumes. I read and studied the works of nearly all our
great poets, from Spenser and Shakespeare, down to Cowper and Burns. I
read two or three later ones. I had already committed to memory the
whole, or nearly the whole, of the moral songs of Dr. Watts; and many of
them keep their places in my memory to the present day. And though it
may seem incredible to some, I actually committed to memory every hymn
in the Wesleyan Hymn Book. I never knew them all off at one time, but I
got them all off in succession. And I never forgot the better, truer,
simpler, sweeter ones. I can repeat hundreds of them still, with the
exception of here and there a stanza or two. And I committed to memory
all the better portion of the new hymns introduced into the hymn book
by the Methodist New Connection. And I committed to memory choice pieces
of poetry without number. I read Shakespeare till I could quote many of
his best passages, including nearly all his soliloquies, and a number of
long conversations, as readily as I could quote the sacred writings.

I read all Bunyan's works. I could tell the story of his Pilgrim from
beginning to end. I read Robinson Crusoe, and some of the other works of
Defoe. I read Addison and Johnson, Goldsmith and Swift. To get at the
origin and at the primitive meaning of words, I studied French and
German, as well as Latin and Greek. When I met with passages in English
authors that expressed great truths in a style that was not to my taste,
I used to translate them into my own style, just as I did fine passages
from Latin, Greek, or French authors. I also translated poetical
passages into prose. I tried sometimes to translate things into the
language of children, and in some cases I succeeded. I did my best to
keep in mind how I felt, and what I could understand, when I was a child
and a boy, and endeavored to keep my style as near as I could to the
level of my boyish understanding. My first superintendent did not
approve of my plan. "The proper way," said he, "is, not to go down to
the people; but to compel the people to come up to you." He was fond of
a swelling, high-sounding, long-winded style. How far he succeeded in
bringing people up to himself, I cannot say, but I recollect once
hearing a pupil of his talk a whole hour without uttering either a
thought or a feeling that was worth a straw. An old woman, with whom he
had once lived, and with whom he was a great favorite, said to me after
the service, 'Well, how did you like our young man?' 'He talked away,'
said I. 'I think he did,' she answered, 'he grows better and better. _I_
couldn't understand him.' His teacher, my superintendent, published a
volume of sermons; but I never met with anybody that had read them. I
read one or two of them myself, and was astonished;--perhaps not so much
astonished as something else,--to find, that at the end of one of his
tall-worded, long-winded, round-about sentences, he contradicted what he
had said at the beginning.



CHAPTER V.

CHANGES IN THE AUTHOR'S VIEWS.


My studies led me to make considerable changes both in my views and way
of speaking.

1. With regard to my views. I found that some of the doctrines which I
had been taught as Christian doctrines, were not so much as hinted at by
Christ and His Apostles,--that some doctrines which Christ and His
Apostles taught with great plainness, I never had been taught at all;
and that some of the doctrines of Christ and His Apostles which I had
been taught, I had been taught in very different forms from those in
which they were presented in the New Testament.

I found that some doctrines which I had been taught as doctrines of the
greatest importance, were never so much as alluded to in the whole
Bible, while in numbers of places quite contrary doctrines were taught.
While unscriptural doctrines were inculcated as fundamental doctrines of
the Gospel, some of the fundamental doctrines themselves were not only
neglected, but denounced as grievous heresies.

Many passages of Scripture which were perfectly plain when left to speak
out their own meaning, had been used so badly by theologians, that they
had become unintelligible to ordinary Christians. While professing to
give the passages needful explanations, they had heaped upon them
impenetrable obscurations. Words that, as they came from Jesus, were
spirit and life, had been so grievously perverted, that they had become
meaningless or mischievous.

I met with passages which had been used as proofs of doctrines to which
they had not the slightest reference. There were the words of Jeremiah
for instance: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his
spots?" The prophet is speaking of the impossibility of men, after long
continuance in wilful sin, breaking off their bad habits; as the closing
words of the passage show; "Then may ye who are _accustomed_ to do evil,
do well." But the theologians took the words and used them in support of
the doctrine that no man in his unconverted state can do anything
towards his salvation,--a doctrine which is neither Scriptural nor
rational. Again; Isaiah, referring to the calamitous condition of the
Jewish nation, in consequence of God's judgments, says: "The whole head
is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot to the
head, there is no soundness; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying
sores," &c. This, which the prophet said with regard to the _state_ of
the _Jews_, the theologians applied to the _character_, not of the Jews
only, but of _all mankind_. What Paul said about the law of Moses, and
the works or deeds required by that law, the theologians applied to the
law of Christ. And so with regard to multitudes of passages. I was
constantly coming across passages that the theologians systematically
perverted, taking them from their proper use and meaning, and forcing
them into the support of notions to which they had not the slightest
reference. The liberties taken with the words of Paul went far towards
turning the writings of that great advocate and example of holiness into
lessons of licentiousness.

It was plain that, on many points, theology was one thing, and
Christianity another; and that many and important changes would have to
be made in the creeds and confessions of Christendom, before they could
be brought into harmony with the truth as taught by Jesus.

Some theological doctrines I found rested on the authority of Milton's
Paradise Lost, or of the Church of England Prayer Book, or on the
authority of earlier works from which Milton or the authors of the
Prayer Book had borrowed.

One day, about forty-two years ago, I was travelling homewards from
Shields to Blyth on foot, when a man with a cart overtook me, and asked
me to get in and ride. I did so. The man and I were soon busy discussing
theology. We talked on saving faith, imputed righteousness,
predestination, divine foreknowledge, election, reprobation and
redemption. We differed on every point, and the man got very warm. He
then spake of a covenant made between God the Father and His Son before
the creation of the world, giving me all the particulars of the
engagement. I told him I had read something about a covenant of that
kind in Milton's Paradise Lost, but that I had never met with anything
on the subject in the sacred writings, and added that I doubted whether
any such transaction ever took place. He got more excited than ever, and
expressed some uneasiness at having such a blasphemous heretic in his
cart. Just then one of the cart wheels came off and down went the
vehicle on one side, spilling me and the driver on the road. I was
quickly on my feet, but he lay on his back sprawling in the sand.
"That's a judgment," said he, "on your blasphemies." "You seem to have
got the worst part of the judgment," said I. I asked him if I could help
him. He seemed to hint that I ought to pay for the damage done to the
cart; but as that was not in the covenant, I did not take the hint; and
as he was in a somewhat unamiable temper, I left him to himself, and
trudged on homeward. The carter and I had no more discussions on
covenants. But many a bit of theology has been built on Milton since
then.

Other doctrines I found to be new versions of old pagan imaginations.

Some seemed to have originated in the selfish and sensual principles of
human nature, which make men wishful to avoid self-denial and a life of
beneficence, and to find some easy way to heaven.

In some cases Protestants had run into extremes through a hatred and
horror of Popery, while in others orthodox teachers had run into
extremes through hatred and dread of Socinianism.

In other cases doctrines seemed to have been rested on no authority but
the facts, or supposed facts, of individual experiences.

Some great doctrines were rendered incomprehensible, repulsive, or
incredible, in consequence of not being accompanied with other
doctrines, which were necessary to explain their use, and make manifest
their reasonableness and worth. There was no lack of attention among
theologians to the doctrine that Christ was an incarnation of the Deity;
but little or no regard was paid to the kindred doctrine, its necessary
accompaniment, that Jesus was the 'image,' the 'likeness,' of God, the
revelation or manifestation of His character. Yet this is essential to a
right understanding and a due appreciation of the other. The revelation
or manifestation of God, and especially of His eternal and infinite
love, was the great design and end of the incarnation. Taken apart from
this doctrine the incarnation becomes a dry hard fact, without use or
meaning. It is when viewed as a means of revealing God,--of making
manifest His infinite goodness, and by that means melting and purifying
man's heart, and transforming his character, that it is seen to be full
of interest and power and glory.

The doctrine that Jesus is God's image, God manifest in the flesh, is
the one great doctrine of Christianity,--the sum, the substance of the
whole Gospel,--the Gospel itself,--the power of God to the salvation of
every one that truly believes and contemplates it. It is a world of
truth in one,--a whole encyclopædia of divine philosophy; the perfection
of all wisdom and of all power; the one great revelation needful to the
salvation of the world.

Yet I never met with this doctrine for the first thirty years of my
life, in any theological work. I have no recollection that I ever heard
it mentioned in a sermon. I certainly never heard it explained and
applied to the great purposes for which it was designed. I never was
told that to know the character of God, I had only to look at the
character of Christ,--that what Christ was during His life on earth in
the circle in which He moved, that God was throughout all worlds, and
towards all the creatures of His hands,--that the love which led Jesus
to suffer and die for the salvation of the world, lived and moved in the
heart of the infinite, invisible God, prompting Him to plan and labor
throughout immensity to promote the happiness of the whole creation. In
short, the Gospel was never preached to me in its simplicity and beauty,
in its glory and power, nor was it ever properly explained to me in
catechism, creed, confession, or body of divinity.

And generally, no sufficient stress was ever laid by theologians on the
value and necessity of personal virtue,--of religious and moral
goodness. It was believed that Christians would _have_ goodness of some
kind, in some degree,--that they would be, on the whole, in some
respects, better than the ungodly world; and there was a feeling that
they _ought_ to be so: but it was rare to meet with a preacher or a
book that put the subject in any thing like a Scriptural Christian
light. No one contended that goodness was everything, that it was the
one great all-glorious object for which the world was made, for which
the universe was upheld, for which prophets spake, for which the
Scriptures were written, for which God became incarnate, for which Jesus
lived and labored, for which He suffered and died, for which He founded
His Church and appointed and endowed its ministers, for which Providence
planned, and for which all things continued to exist. No one taught that
goodness was the only thing for which God cared, the only thing which He
esteemed and loved, and the only thing He would reward and bless. Books
and preachers did not use to tell us, that faith, and knowledge, and
feeling,--that repentance, conversion, and sanctification,--that reading
the Scriptures, and hearing sermons, and singing hymns, and offering
prayers,--that church fellowship, and religious ordinances, were all
nothing except so far as they tended to make people good, and then to
make them better, and at last to perfect them in all divine and human
excellence. No one taught us that goodness was beauty, that goodness was
greatness, that goodness was glory, that goodness was happiness, that
goodness was heaven. The truth was never pressed on us that the want of
goodness was deformity, dishonor and shame,--that it was pain, and
wretchedness, and torment, and death,--that goodness in full measure
would make earth heaven--that its decline and disappearance would make
earth hell. Yet a careful and long-continued perusal of the Scriptures
left the impression on my mind, that this was really the case. When I
compared the eternal talk about all our goodness being of no account in
the sight of God,--of all our righteousness being but as filthy
rags,--with the teachings of Scripture, I felt as if theologians were
anti-christ, and their theology the gospel of the wicked one. I have no
wish to do injustice to theology, or to theologians either; but the more
I knew of them, the less I thought of them. And even when the Christian
and theologian got blended, as they did, to some extent, in such men as
Baxter and Wesley, I pitied the theologian while I esteemed and loved
the Christian. Theological works are poor contemptible things. It would
have been no great loss to the world if nineteen-twentieths of them had
been burnt in the Chicago fire.

I was often grievously harassed with prevailing theories of Scripture
inspiration. All those theories seemed inconsistent with
facts,--inconsistent with what every man of any information, knew to be
true in reference to the Scriptures. They all lay open to infidel
objections,--unanswerable objections. They made it impossible for a man
to argue with the abler and better informed class of infidel assailants
with the success and satisfaction desirable. The theories did not
_admit_ of a successful defence. And when the theories were refuted, the
Bible and Christianity suffered. On searching the Scriptures I found
they gave no countenance to those theories. They taught the _doctrine_
of Scripture inspiration, but not the prevailing _theories_ of the
doctrine. The doctrine I could defend with ease: the defence of the
theories was impossible. I accordingly laid aside the theories.

Again; I heard and read continually about the influence and work of the
Holy Spirit; but I seldom heard and read of the influence of the truth.
Yet in Scripture we read as much and as often of the latter as of the
former.

I had been led, in some way, to believe that Adam was the federal head
of all mankind,--that God made a covenant with him that was binding on
all his posterity,--that the destinies of the whole human race were
placed in his hands,--that it was so arranged that if Adam did right,
his posterity were to be born in a state of perfection and blessedness,
incapable of sin and misery,--that if he did wrong they were to be born
depraved and miserable, under the curse of God, and liable to death and
damnation--that as Adam did do wrong, we all came into the world so
depraved that we were incapable of thinking a good thought, of feeling a
good desire, of speaking a right word, or of doing a right thing,--that
Jesus came into the world to redeem us from the guilt of Adam's sin, and
from the punishment due to us for that sin, and to put us on such a
footing with regard to God as to render possible our salvation. I had
been led to believe a hundred other things connected with these about
the plan of redemption, the way of salvation, imputed righteousness,
saving faith, &c. When I came to look for those doctrines in the Bible,
I could not find one of them from the beginning of the Book to the end.
I was in consequence led to regard them as the imaginations of
unthinking, trifling, or dreamy theologians.

There are few doctrines more generally received than the doctrine of
types,--the doctrine that persons and things under the older
dispensations were intended to direct the minds of those who saw them to
things corresponding to them under the Christian dispensation. In
McEwen's work on Types, which appears to have had an immense
circulation, is this sentence,--'That the grand doctrines of
Christianity concerning the mediation of Christ, &c., were typically
_manifested_ to the church by a variety of ceremonies, persons and
events, under the Old Testament dispensation, is past doubt.' And it is
very plainly intimated, that those who affect to call this notion in
question, and yet pretend to be friends of a divine revelation, are
hypocrites. It is added: 'The sacrifices were ordained to pre-figure
Christ,--and were professions of faith in His propitiation.'

There are but few preachers or religious books which do not go on the
supposition that this doctrine is taught in Scripture. And you may hear
sermon after sermon from some preachers, the chief object of which is to
point out correspondences between the paschal lamb, the scape-goat, and
other sacrifices under the Law, and Jesus and the sacrifice which He
offered. Some preachers and religious writers take almost all things
under the law to be types of Christ, or types of things pertaining to
Him. They make Noah, and Isaac, and Melchisedec, and Joseph, and Moses,
and Joshua, and David, and Samson, and Solomon, and the brazen serpent,
and the rod of Aaron, and the manna, types of Christ, and almost all the
sacrifices they make types of His great sacrifice of Himself.

I could see no warrant for this doctrine. I could find no proof that any
of the sacrifices under the law were intended to direct the minds of
those who offered them to the sacrifice of Jesus. There is nothing in
the law, and there is nothing in the prophets to that effect. There is
no passage of Scripture which says that any one ever _did_ look through
the old Levitical sacrifices to Christ. There is no passage which says
it was men's duty to do so; none which commends any one for doing so,
or which blames any one for not doing so. The prophets often rebuke the
Israelites for their injustice, intemperance, deceit and cruelty, but
they never rebuke them for not looking through their sacrifices to the
sacrifice of Jesus. They often exhort people to 'cease to do evil and
learn to do well;' but they never urge them to regard their sacrifices
as types or manifestations of the sacrifice of Christ. Christ nowhere
teaches the ordinary doctrine of types. He never refers to anything as a
type of His sacrifice, or of anything else connected with His work. Nor
do the Apostles say anything to countenance the prevailing notion. For
anything the Scriptures say to the contrary, the whole doctrine of
types, as set forth in such books as that of McEwen, is a human fiction.
Indeed, I see no hint in Scripture that any one had the least idea that
the Messiah would offer Himself a sacrifice for sin till after the
sacrifice had taken place. Isaiah and Daniel spake on the subject, and
'They inquired and searched diligently,' says Peter, 'what, or what
manner of time the spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when
it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that
should follow; unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but
unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by
them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent
down from Heaven.' And we know that Christ's own disciples did not
believe that Christ would die at all. So far were they from having any
thought of such a thing, that when Jesus told them, in the plainest
words imaginable, they did not understand Him. The fact had to reveal
itself. And even now the nature and end of Christ's sacrifice are but
very imperfectly understood.

And if the doctrine of types falls to the ground, some other doctrines,
which rest upon it, must go down. Certain notions about the faith of the
ancient saints must give way, and the views of saving faith presented in
the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews must take their
place.

Great numbers of religious teachers and writers attribute to Adam and
Eve, in their first state, an amount of knowledge, and a perfection of
righteousness, which the Scriptures nowhere ascribe to them, and which,
if they had possessed them, would have rendered it impossible, one
would think, that they should have yielded so readily to temptation.

They represent the first sin as having effects which are never
attributed to it in the Bible.

They give an unwarrantable meaning to the word death contained in the
first threatening.

They attribute to man's first sin inconveniences of the seasons, and of
the different climates of the globe, as well as a thousand things on the
earth's surface, and in the dispositions and habits of the lower
animals, which are not attributed _to_ that cause by the sacred writers.

They spend a vast amount of time and words in trying to prove that the
reason why Abel's sacrifice was more excellent than that of Cain, and
was accepted by God, was that Abel offered animals, and had an eye to
the sacrifice of Christ, while Cain offered only the fruits of the
ground, that did not typify or symbolize that sacrifice; a notion for
which there is no authority in Scripture. The story in Genesis seems to
intimate that the sacrifice of Cain was rejected because he was a
bad-living man, and that the sacrifice of Abel was accepted because he
was a good-living man. Hence the words of God in His address to Cain,
'Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest
well shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth
at the door.' And hence too the statement of John, that Cain slew his
brother because his own works were evil and his brother's righteous. And
the faith attributed to Abel, as well as to Enoch, Moses and others, in
the Epistle to the Hebrews, is not faith in the sacrifice of Christ, but
simply a belief in God; a belief that 'He _is_, and that He is a
rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, or lovingly serve Him.'

There were many definitions and descriptions of saving faith common in
religious books for which I could find no authority in Scripture.

I also met with a multitude of cold hard things about the Trinity and
the Atonement in works on Theology which I never was unhappy enough to
find in the Bible. All seemed pleasant and natural and of heavenly
tendency there. I read books which seemed to require me to believe in
three Gods; but I met with nothing of the kind in Scripture. I heard
prayers and forms of benediction worded in a way altogether different
from the prayers and benedictions found in the Bible. The Scriptures
allowed me to think of God, in the first place, as one, as I myself was
one. They did not tell me He was three in the same way as I was three;
but they left the doctrine of the Trinity in such a state or shape that
I found no more difficulty in receiving it, than I found in receiving
the fact of a Trinity in myself. I left accordingly the hard repulsive
representations of the theologians to their fate, and accepted and
contented myself with the living, rational and practical representations
of Scripture in their stead.

The work of Christ was generally represented by theologians as exerting
its influence directly on God. His death was generally spoken of as a
satisfaction to divine justice, or as an expedient for harmonizing the
divine attributes, or maintaining the principles of the divine
government. God was represented as being placed in a difficulty,--as
being unable to gratify His love in forgiving men on their repenting and
turning to Him, without violating His justice and His truth, and putting
in peril the principles of His government. There were several other
theological theories of the design or object of the death of Christ. All
these theories may be true in a certain sense. They may, perhaps, be so
explained as to make them harmonize with the teachings of Scripture. But
I found none of them in the Bible. I found multitudes of passages which
represented the death and sufferings of Christ as intended to influence
men, but not one that taught any of the theological theories,--hardly
one that even seemed to do so. Here again I took the Scripture
representations, and allowed the theological ones to slide.

There was a hymn which said of Christ, 'Our debt He has paid, and our
work He has done.' I could find nothing in Scripture about the Saviour
paying our debt, or doing our work. I could find passages which taught
that our debts or sins might be _forgiven_, on our return to God. So far
were the Scriptures from teaching that Christ had done our work, that
they represented Him as coming into the world to fit us to do it
ourselves,--as redeeming us and creating us anew that we might be
zealous of good works.

I could find nothing in Scripture to countenance the common notion about
the efficacy of the death-bed repentances of old, wilful, hardened
sinners. The Bible left on my mind the impression that 'whatsoever a man
soweth, that shall he also reap.'

Some preachers and writers spoke as if God the Father was sterner, less
tender and loving, than the Son. But as we have seen, the Bible taught
that Jesus was God's image, His likeness, the incarnation and revelation
of God,--God manifest in the flesh.

I read in books, and heard it said in sermons, that God did not answer
men's prayers, or grant them any blessing, or receive them at last to
heaven, on account of anything good in themselves, or of anything good
they did. Yet on looking through the Scriptures I found such passages as
these: 'Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, _then_ have we confidence
toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep
His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.'
In the parable of the talents I found God represented as saying, 'Well
done, thou good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful in
a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.' And in the Prophet
I read, 'Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness
that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he
shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth and turneth away from
all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he
shall not die.' I found the whole Bible going on the same principle. God
loves what is good for its own sake. It would be strange if He did not.
And how any one can think He is honoring God by teaching the contrary we
cannot understand.



CHAPTER VI.

JOHN WESLEY AND HIS VIEWS ON CERTAIN POINTS.


How easy it is for men to mix up their own fancies, or the vain conceits
of others, with divine truth,--or rather, how hard it is to _avoid_
doing so,--we may see by the case of John Wesley. Wesley was one of the
most devout, and conscientious, and, on the whole, one of the most
rational, Scriptural, practical and common-sense men the Christian
Church ever had. Compared with theologians generally, he was worthy of
the highest praise. He had the greatest reverence for the Scriptures. He
early in life declared it to be his determination to be _a man of one
Book_, and that one book the BIBLE; and he acted in accordance
with this determination to the best of his knowledge and ability. The
Bible was his sole authority. Its testimony decided all questions,
settled all controversies. Yet such was the influence of prevailing
custom in the theological world, operating on his mind unconsciously
from his earliest days, that he unintentionally acted inconsistently
with this good resolution in cases without number. Shakespeare makes one
of his characters say, "If to do, were as easy as to know what is
fittest to be done, beggars would ride on horses, and poor men's
cottages would be princes' palaces. I could more easily tell twenty men
what it was best to do, than be one of the twenty to carry out my own
instructions." And we need no better proof or illustration of the truth
of this wise saying, than the case of the good and great John Wesley.

We have seen what his resolution was. Look now at one or two of his
sermons. Take first the sermon on God's Approbation of His Works. In
that discourse, referring to the primeval earth, he speaks as follows:
"The _whole surface_ of it was beautiful in a high degree. The
_universal face_ was clothed with living green. And every part was
_fertile_ as well as beautiful. It was no where deformed by rough or
ragged rocks: it did not shock the view with horrid precipices, huge
chasms, or dreary caverns: with deep, impassable morasses, or deserts
of barren sands. We have not any authority to say, with some learned and
ingenious authors, that there were no _mountains_ on the original earth,
no unevennesses on its surface, yet it is highly probable that they rose
and fell, by almost insensible degrees.

"There were no agitations within the bowels of the globe: no violent
convulsions: no concussions of the earth: no earthquakes: but all was
unmoved as the pillars of heaven. There were then no such things as
eruptions of fire: there were no volcanoes, or burning mountains.
Neither Vesuvius, Etna, nor Hecla, if they had any being, then poured
out smoke and flame, but were covered with a verdant mantle, from the
top to the bottom.

"It is probable there was no external sea in the paradisiacal earth:
none, until the great deep burst the barriers which were originally
appointed for it; indeed there was not then that need of the ocean for
_navigation_ which there is now. For either every country produced
whatever was requisite either for the necessity or comfort of its
inhabitants; or man being then (as he will be again at the resurrection)
equal to the angels, was able to convey himself, at his pleasure, to any
given distance.

"There were no putrid lakes, no turbid or stagnating waters. The element
of _air_ was then always serene, and always friendly to man. It
contained no frightful meteors, no unwholesome vapors, no poisonous
exhalations. There were no tempests, but only cool and gentle breezes,
fanning both man and beast, and wafting the fragrant odors on their
silent wings.

"The sun, the fountain of _fire_, 'Of this great world both eye and
soul,' was situated at the most exact distance from the earth, so as to
yield a sufficient quantity of heat, (neither too little nor too much)
to _every part of it_. God had not yet 'Bid his angels turn askance this
oblique globe.' There was, therefore, then no country that groaned under
'The rage of Arctos, and eternal frost.' There was no violent winter, or
sultry summer; no extreme either of heat or cold. No soil was burned up
by the solar heat: none uninhabitable through the want of it.

"There were then no impetuous currents of air, no tempestuous winds, no
furious hail, no torrents of rain, no rolling thunders or forky
lightnings. _One perennial spring was perpetually smiling over the whole
surface of the earth._"

Speaking of vegetable productions, he says,

"There were no weeds, no plants that encumbered the ground. Much less
were there any _poisonous_ ones, tending to hurt any one creature."

Referring to the living creatures of the sea, he says,

"None of these then attempted to devour, or in any wise hurt one
another. All were peaceful and quiet, as were the watery fields wherein
they ranged at pleasure."

Referring to insects, he adds,

"The spider was then as harmless as the fly, and did not then lie in
wait for blood. The weakest of them crept securely over the earth, or
spread their gilded wings in the air, that wavered in the breeze and
glittered in the sun, without any to make them afraid. Meantime, the
reptiles of every kind were equally harmless, and more intelligent than
they."

Referring to birds and beasts, he says,

"Among all these there were no birds or beasts of prey: none that
destroyed or molested another."

All this may be very beautiful poetry, such as one might expect from the
"fine frenzy" of a loving, lawless genius, but it is not Scripture, nor
is it science or philosophy. We have not a doubt but that God made all
things _right_,--that all His works were very _good_; the Scriptures
tell us that very plainly: but they do _not_ tell us that the things
named by Wesley constituted their goodness. _He_ thinks that the earth
could not be good if it had on its surface rough or rugged rocks, horrid
precipices, huge chasms, or dreary caverns, with impassable morasses, or
deserts of barren sands. _We_ think _otherwise_. _We_ think the earth is
all the _better_, and even all the more _beautiful_ for rough and rugged
rocks, for horrid precipices, huge chasms, and dreary caverns. So far
from regarding the rough and rugged rocks as deformities, we look on
them as ornaments. So far from appearing to us as an evil, they appear a
good. Even the impassable morasses, and the deserts of barren sands may
have their use. If man had met with nothing in the state of the earth
that stood in the way of his will or pleasure; if he had met with
nothing in the shape of difficulty or inconvenience, it would have been
a terrible calamity. All man's powers are developed and perfected by
exertion; and without exertion,--without vigorous exertion--he would
not, as at present constituted, be capable of enjoying life. Man cannot
be happy without work. We therefore believe that it was wise and kind in
God, independent of Adam's sin, to make impassable morasses, and barren
deserts, &c., to exercise man's powers of mind and body in _draining_
the morasses, and _fertilizing_ the deserts. We believe that the earth
was very good; but we believe that the rough and rugged rocks, the
horrid precipices, huge chasms, dreary caverns, with the deep impassable
morasses, and the deserts of barren sands, were _parts_ of the earth's
goodness,--were manifestations both of the wisdom and goodness of God.

Wesley thinks there _were_ mountains on the earth before sin was
committed, but that their sides were not _abrupt_ or _difficult of
ascent_; that they rose and fell by almost _insensible degrees_. This
passage also goes on the false supposition, that whatever things would
be likely to render great exertion necessary on the part of man, would
be an evil; whereas such things are among man's greatest blessings.

Wesley farther tells us, that there were no agitations within the bowels
of the earth, no violent convulsions, no concussions of the earth, no
earthquakes, no eruptions of fire, no volcanoes, or burning mountains.
There is proof however, that there were _all_ these things, not only
_before sin was committed_, but _before man himself was created_.

Nor do we regard earthquakes and volcanoes as evils. They are calculated
even at the present to answer good ends. They tend to make men feel
their absolute dependence upon God, and thus lead them to obey His law.
They are sinking revelations of God's power, and perpetual lessons of
piety. And they have other uses.

He says, "If Vesuvius, Etna, or Hecla, existed before sin was committed,
they were covered with a verdant mantle from the top to the bottom." But
is a mountain either better or more beautiful for being covered with a
verdant mantle from the top to the bottom? Is it either better or more
beautiful for having no abrupt sides, difficult of ascent,--for rising
and falling by almost insensible degrees? We think the contrary. The
variety of scenery presented by mountains in their present state, is
most beautiful. The abruptness of the sides of mountains contributes
infinitely both to the beauty of the mountain, and to the beauty of the
earth in general; and the toil of climbing up the steep ascent of a
mountain is one of the blessings and pleasures of life. We should be
sorry if there were no hills so steep as to be difficult of ascent. We
should be sorry if the earth had no mountains with abrupt sides, and
black, and brown, and rugged faces. We should be very sorry if the face
of the earth were covered with one unvaried mantle of green. Green is
very pleasant, and it is well that the greater part of the earth is
covered with green; but variety also is pleasant; and green itself would
cease to be pleasant if there were nothing else but green.

Wesley adds, that there was probably no sea on the surface of the earth
in its paradisiacal state, none until the great deep burst the barriers
which were originally appointed for it; and he adds, that there was not
then that need of the ocean for navigation which there is now, as every
place yielded all that was necessary to man's welfare and pleasure. We
answer. The idea that the ocean was given to facilitate communication
between different nations, makes us smile. Suppose there had been no
ocean, should we have had a long way to go to get into the next country,
the country nearest to us? Just the contrary. If there had been no
ocean, there would have been land in its place, and we should neither
have had to cross water nor land to get to it. It would have come up
close to our own country. We have all the same travelling in order to
have communication with the inhabitants of other countries when we have
crossed the ocean, that we should have had, to obtain communication with
neighboring countries, if there had been no ocean at all. The ocean was
intended for _other_ purposes. The use of the ocean, one of its
_principal_ uses at least, is to temper the climates and seasons of the
earth. If the earth were one unbroken continent, the summers would be
intolerably hot, and the winters would be intolerably cold, and the
changes from winter to summer would be so violent, and work such fearful
havoc, as to render the earth uninhabitable. By means of the _ocean_,
those intolerable inconveniences are avoided. The sea, which is never
so cold in winter as the land, tempers the air as it blows over it, and
thus moderates the cold of the land. The sea also, which is never so
warm in summer as the land, tempers the air again, and breathes coolness
and freshness over the heated land. Neither heat nor cold affects the
sea so suddenly or so violently as it affects the land. A few days of
summer heat are sufficient to make the solid earth quite hot,--so hot,
in many cases, that you cannot bear your naked hand upon it long. Yet
this same amount of summer heat will make scarcely any perceptible
difference in the waters of the ocean. Then again, in winter, a few days
severe frost will make the solid earth, and especially the stones and
metals, so cold, that they would blister a delicate skin, if pressed
against them; while they make scarcely any perceptible difference upon
the waters of the ocean. The ocean sits on its low throne like the
monarch of this lower world, controlling the elements, tempering the
heat and the cold, and thus preserving the earth and its living
inhabitants from harm.

Wesley tells us farther, that before the sin of Adam, "The air was
always serene and always friendly to man." Now the air is still always
_friendly to man_. Even when it comes in the form of hurricanes and
tempests, it is so. It is doing work, even then, _good work_, which
gentle breezes are _unable_ to do. It is carrying away dangers which
gentler currents of air would not have the power to carry away. And even
when they cause destruction in their course, they are still performing
friendly offices to man. They are inspiring him with a livelier
consciousness of his absolute dependence upon God, and of the folly of
resisting His will. They are exercising his intellectual powers, by
leading him to devise means for his protection from their fury, and
obliging him also to exert his bodily powers in carrying out the devices
of his intellect. They are, in fact, contributing to make him a wiser, a
stronger, a better, a happier, and in all respects, a completer, and a
diviner being than he otherwise would be. We agree therefore with Wesley
that the air before Adam sinned was always _friendly to man_; but we do
not agree with him in his notions as to what _constituted_ its
friendliness; nor do we agree with him in the notion, that since the
sin of Adam the air has _ceased_ to be friendly, or even proved to be
_less_ friendly, to man. We believe that the air is as friendly to man
now as it ever was,--that it does him as little mischief, that it
contributes as much to his well-being and comfort, as it ever did.

Wesley further says, the sun was situated at the most exact distance
from the earth, so as to yield a sufficient quantity of heat, neither
too little nor too much, to every part of it. Ho further intimates that
there was at first no inclination of the earth's axis, and that the
seasons and the degree of heat and cold were, in consequence, the same
all the world over, and all the year round. All these statements seem
erroneous in the extreme. The supply of heat to the different parts of
the earth does not depend altogether on the distance of the sun from the
earth, as Wesley intimates, but on the motions of the earth around the
sun and upon its own axis. Wesley seems to imagine that if the axis of
the earth were not inclined, or elevated at one end, the earth would
receive from the sun the same quantity of heat through every part;
whereas nothing could be farther from the truth. If, as Wesley expresses
it, "This oblique globe had not been turned askance," some parts of the
earth would have received from the sun scarcely any heat at all; they
would have received neither light nor heat, except in such slight
measures as to be altogether useless. The arctic regions and the
antarctic regions must have been alike uninhabitable. That turning of
the oblique globe askance, which Wesley represents as the cause of
extreme heat and cold, was the very thing to _prevent_ those extremes,
or to reduce them to the lowest possible point, and to secure to every
part of the globe, as _far as possible_, an _equal_ amount of light and
warmth. I say _as far as possible_; for to secure to every part of the
earth exactly the same amount of light and heat from one sun, is
impossible. Place a little globe in what position you will with respect
to a neighboring candle, and fix the axis of that globe as you please,
and move that globe; give the globe a motion upon its own axis, and
another motion round the light near which it is placed, and you will
find it impossible to secure to every part of that globe exactly the
same amount of light and heat. By inclining the axis of the globe, or as
Wesley expresses it, turning it askance, as the axis of the earth is
inclined or turned askance, you may secure the _greatest possible
equality_ of light and heat to every part; but still that greatest
possible equality will be a considerable _inequality_. So far,
therefore, from the polar regions being made colder or darker by the
globe being turned askance, they are indebted to that very obliqueness
of the earth's axis, and that apparent irregularity of its motions, for
the chief portion of that light and heat which they receive. How Wesley
came to speak so erroneously on this subject, I am at a loss to know, as
he must, one would think, have understood the first elements of
geography and astronomy. Yet his words are at variance with the first
elements of those popular sciences.

But it would take up too much room to notice all the unauthorized
statements of Mr. Wesley on this subject. We have said enough to show
how the most conscientious and best-intentioned man may err on
theological subjects, and what need young Christians have to be somewhat
critical and careful in adopting and testing their religious opinions.
There are other sermons of Wesley which are as much at variance with
Scripture as the one we have had under notice. I have not his sermons at
hand just now, but if I remember right, his remarks on the righteousness
of the Scribes and Pharisees, in his sermon on that subject, are quite
at variance with the statements of Christ.

And Wesley was one of the best, one of the most honest and
conscientious, one of the most single-minded men on the face of the
earth. No man, I imagine, was ever more anxious to be right,--no one was
ever more desirous to know and teach God's truth in all its purity, and
in everything to do God's will and bless mankind. And he knew and chose
the right standard of truth and goodness, and honestly endeavored to
conform to it both in thought and deed and word. Yet he could err in
this strange and wholesale way. What then may we expect from other
theological writers? Many of the theologians whose writings influence
the Church were _not_ very good men; they were selfish, ambitious, proud
and worldly. Some were idle, dreamy, careless, godless. And others, who
were piously disposed, never deliberately adopted the Bible as their
rule of faith and practice. They never set themselves to conform to it,
as the standard of truth and goodness. They adopted or inherited the
faiths or traditions of their predecessors, never suspecting them of
error, and never inquiring whether they were true or not. The idea of
testing or correcting either their way of thinking or their way of
talking on religious subjects, by the teachings of Christ, never entered
their minds. They lived at ease, dreaming rather than thinking, and
talking in their sleep, and filling great folios with their idle
utterances. What kind of thoughts, and what kind of words were we likely
to find in the writings of men like these? Robert Hall is reported to
have described the works of the celebrated John Owen as "A CONTINENT OF
MUD." There are others whose writings might be justly described as
volumes of smoke. Mere wind they are not, but foul, black, blinding
smoke. And writings of this description are published or republished in
great quantities to the present day. And people read them, and fill
themselves with wind and filthy fumes, and wrap themselves in smoky,
pitchy clouds, and go through the world in a spiritual darkness thick
enough to be felt.

This smoke, this blackness and darkness, I could not endure. I was
anxious beyond measure to free myself from its bewildering and blinding
power, and to get into the clear fresh air, and the bright and cheerful
light, of simple Christian truth. And hence the freedom and eagerness of
my investigations, and the liberty I took in modifying my belief.

It may be said that many of the doctrines which I have set down as
unscriptural, are of little importance; and that is really the case. We
ought, therefore, to be the more ready to give them up. Why contend for
doctrines of no moment? But some of them _are_ important. They are
revolting and mischievous errors, and when they are regarded as parts of
Christianity, they tend to make men infidels. And in many cases they
stagger the faith, and lessen the comfort, and injure the souls of
Christians. And even the less important ones do harm when taken to be
parts of the religion of Christ. You cannot make thoughtful,
sharp-visioned men believe that Jesus came into the world, and lived and
died to propagate trifles. Trifles therefore are no longer trifles when
set forth as Christian doctrines. And we have enough to believe and
think about without occupying our minds with childish fancies. And we
have things enough of high importance to preach and write about, without
spending our time and strength on idle dreams.

And the apparently harmless fictions prop up the hurtful ones. And they
lessen the influence of great truths. And they make religion appear
suspicious or contemptible to men of sense. They disgust some. They give
occasion to the adversaries to speak reproachfully.

And if you tolerate fictions at all in Christianity, where will you
stop? And if you do not stop somewhere, Christianity will disappear, and
a mass of worthless and disgusting follies will take its place. The new
creation will vanish, and chaos come again.

And again. A large proportion of the controversies of the Church are
about men's inventions. Christ's own doctrines do not so often provoke
opposition as the traditions of the elders; nor do they, when assailed,
require so much defending. They defend themselves. "The devil's way of
undoing," says Baxter, "is by overdoing. To bring religious zeal into
disrepute, he makes some zealous to madness, to persecution, to blood.
To discredit freedom he urges its advocates into lawlessness. To
discredit Christian morality, he induces some to carry it to the extreme
of asceticism. To discredit needful authority, he makes rulers of the
State into despots, and persuades the rulers of the Church to claim
infallibility. To discredit Christianity, he adds to it human
inventions." Wesley has a similar sentiment. "If you place Christian
perfection too high, you drive it out of the world." And it is certain,
that an infinite amount of hostility to Christianity is owing to the
folly of divines in supplementing its simple and practical doctrines, by
speculative and unintelligible theories. "The one great evidence of the
divinity of Christianity," says one, "the master-evidence, the evidence
with which all other evidences will stand or fall, is Christ Himself
speaking by His own word." But if you add to His words foolish fancies,
or revolting absurdities, or immoral speculations of your own, you
destroy that evidence. You make men infidels.

There are multitudes at the present day to whom you must present
religion in an intelligible and rational, and in a grave and commanding
light, if you would induce them to give it their serious attention. You
can no more interest them in mysteries and nonsense, in speculative and
unpractical fictions, than you can change the course of nature. The time
for theological trifling is gone by. The time has gone by for any form
of religion to make its way which does not consist in solid goodness, or
which teaches doctrines, or uses forms, that do not tend to promote
solid goodness. If religion is to secure the attention of the world,--if
it is to command their respect, their reverence and their love,--if it
is to conquer their hearts, and govern their lives, and satisfy their
souls,--if it is to become the great absorbing subject of man's thought,
and the governing power of our race, it must be so presented, as to
prove itself in harmony with all that is highest and best in man's
nature, with all that is most beautiful and useful in life, and with all
that is beneficent and glorious in the universe.

In a word, old dreamy theologies with their barbarous dialects and silly
notions, must be dropped and left to die, and the Church and the
ministry must live, and act, and talk as men who are dealing with the
grandest and most interesting and important realities.



CHAPTER VII.

FURTHER INVESTIGATIONS AND THEIR RESULTS.


As my readers will have seen before this, the changes in my views were
rather numerous, if not always of great importance. And the cases I have
given are but samples of many other changes. The fact is, I pared away
from my creed everything that was not plainly Scriptural. I threw aside
all human theories, all mere guesses about religious matters. I also
dismissed all forced or fanciful interpretations of Scripture passages.
I endeavored to free Christian doctrines from all corruptions,
perversions, or exaggerations, retaining only the pure and simple
teachings of Christ and the sacred writings. I accepted only those
interpretations of Scripture, which were in accordance with the object
and drift of the writer, with common sense, and with the general tenor
of the sacred volume. I paid special regard to the plainest and most
practical portions of Scripture. I paid no regard to doctrines grounded
on solitary passages, or on texts of doubtful meaning, while numerous
texts, with their meaning on their very faces, taught opposite
doctrines. I would accept nothing that seemed irrational from any
quarter, unless required to do so by the plain unquestionable oracles of
God. I could see no propriety in Christians encumbering their minds and
clogging religion with notions bearing plain and palpable marks of
inconsistency or absurdity. And if a doctrine presented itself in
different religious writers in a variety of forms, I always took the
form which seemed most in harmony with reason and the plainest teachings
of Scripture. Some writers seemed to take pleasure in presenting such
doctrines as the Trinity, the Atonement, Salvation by Faith, Eternal
Punishment, &c., in the most incredible and repulsive forms, straining
and wresting the Scriptures to justify their mischievous extravagances.
Other writers would say no more on those subjects than the Scriptures
said, and would put what the Scriptures said in such a light as to
render it "worthy of all acceptation." As a matter of course, the latter
kind of writers became my favorites. Indeed the Scriptures seemed always
to favor what appeared most rational in the various creeds. The
Scriptures and common sense seemed always in remarkable harmony. The
doctrines which clashed with reason seemed also to clash with Scripture:
and I felt that in rejecting such doctrines I was promoting the honor of
God and of Christ, and rendering a service to the Church and
Christianity.

I was sometimes rather tried by the unwarranted and inconsiderate
statements of my brother ministers. Take an instance. A preacher one
night, in a sermon to which I was listening, said, "How great is the
love of God to fallen man! Angels sinned, and were doomed at once to
everlasting damnation. No Saviour interposed to bring them back to
holiness and heaven. No ambassador was sent with offers of pardon to
beseech them to be reconciled to God. Man sins, and the Deity Himself
becomes incarnate. All the machinery of nature and all the resources of
Heaven are employed to save him from destruction. One sin shuts up in
everlasting despair millions of spiritual beings, while a thousand
transgressions are forgiven to man."

Now this doctrine, instead of reflecting peculiar glory on God, seemed
to me to savor of blasphemy. It is no honor to be partial or capricious;
it is a reproach. A father that should be tenderly indulgent to one of
his children, and rigidly severe to the rest, would be regarded with
indignation. The doctrine of Divine partiality shocks both our reason
and our moral feelings. And it is not scriptural. The Bible says nothing
about God dooming the rebellious angels to perdition for one sin,
without any attempt to bring them back to obedience; but it does say
that God is good to all, and that His tender mercies are over all His
works. I accordingly rejected the doctrine. There was quite a multitude
of _doctrines_ which entered into the sermons of many of my brother
ministers, which never found their way into mine. And there were
doctrines which entered into my discourses, which never found their way
into theirs. And the doctrines which we held and preached in common, we
often presented in very different forms, and put into very different
words. They could say a multitude of things which I could not say;
things which I could find no kind of warrant for saying. When we met
together after hearing each other preach, we had at times long talks
about our different views and ways of preaching. I was free in
expressing my thoughts and feelings, especially in the earlier years of
my ministry, and our conversations were often very animated.

In some circuits, I induced my colleagues to join me in establishing
weekly meetings for mutual improvement in religious knowledge. At each
meeting an essay was read, on some subject agreed upon at a former
meeting, and after the essay had been read we discussed the merits both
of the sentiments it embodied, and of the style in which it was
written. When it was my turn to prepare an essay, I generally introduced
one or more of the points on which I and my colleagues differed, for the
purpose of having them discussed. I stated my views with the utmost
freedom, and gave every encouragement to my colleagues to state theirs
with equal freedom in return. When my colleagues read their productions,
I pointed out what I thought erroneous or defective with great plainness
and fidelity. I was anxious both to learn and to teach, and it was my
delight, as it was my duty and business, to endeavor to do both. I was
not, however, so anxious to change the views of my friends as I was to
excite in them a thirst for knowledge. And indeed I did not consider it
of so much importance that a man should accept a certain number of
truths, or particular doctrines, as that he should have a sincere
desire, and make suitable endeavors to understand all truth. It was
idleness, indifference, a state of mental stagnation, a readiness
carelessly to accept whatever might come in the way without once trying
to test it by Scripture or reason, that I particularly disliked; and to
cure or abate this evil, I exerted myself to the utmost.

When I was stationed in Newcastle in 1831, I met with Foster's Essays,
which I read with a great deal of eagerness and pleasure. One of these
Essays is "On some of the Causes by which Evangelical Religion has been
Rendered Unacceptable to Persons of Cultivated Taste?" Among his remarks
on this subject, he has some to the following effect:--

1. Christianity is the religion of many weak, uncultivated and
little-minded people, and they, by their unwise ways of talking about
it, and by their various defects of character, make religion look weak,
and poor, and unreasonable. And many receive their impression or ideas
of the character of Christianity more from the exhibitions given of it
by the religious people with whom they come in contact, than from the
exhibition given of it in the life and teachings of its great Author, or
from the characters and writings of His Apostles. An intelligent and
cultivated man, for instance, falls into the company of Christians
who know little either of the teachings of Christ, or of the
wonderful facts which go to prove their truth and their infinite
excellency--Christians who never trouble themselves about such matters,
and who look on it as no good sign when people show a disposition to
inquire seriously into such subjects. He hears those Christians talk
about religion, but can find nothing in their conversation but strange
and, to him, unintelligible expressions. The speakers give proof enough
of excited feelings, but show no sign of mental enlightenment. If he
asks them for information on the great principles and bearings of
Christianity, they tell him they have nothing to do with vain
philosophy.

2. The man of taste and culture hears other Christians harping eternally
on two or three points, adopted perhaps from some dreamy author, and
denouncing all who question the correctness of their version of the
Gospel, as heretics or infidels, while all the time their notions have
little or no resemblance either to the Gospel or to common sense; but
are at best, only perversions or distortions of Christian doctrines,
which have no more likeness to the religion of Christ than a few broken
bricks have to a beautiful and magnificent palace.

3. In many cases the Christians with whom he meets have not only no
general knowledge of religious subjects, but no desire for such
knowledge. The Bible is their book, they say, and they want no other.
And they make but a pitiful use of that. They do not go to the Bible as
to a fountain of infinite knowledge, whose streams of truth blend
naturally with all the truths in the universe, but merely to refresh
their minds with a few misinterpreted passages, which ignorance and
bigotry are accustomed to use to support their misconceptions of
Christian doctrine. They use the book not to make them wise, but to keep
them ignorant. They dwell for ever on the same irrational fancies, and
repeat them for ever in the same outlandish jargon.

4. He meets with other Christians who read a little in other books
besides the Bible; but it is just those books that help to keep them
from understanding the meaning of the Bible. And the portions of the
books which they admire most and quote oftenest, are the silliest and
most erroneous portions. They put darkness for light, and light for
darkness. The man of culture speaks to them, but they cannot understand
him. His thoughts and style are alike out of their line, or beyond their
capacity. If at any time they catch a glimpse of his meaning, they are
frightened on perceiving that his thoughts are not an exact repetition
of their own.

5. Another cause which has tended to render Christianity less acceptable
to men of taste and culture, is the peculiar language adopted in the
discourses and writings of its _Teachers_. The style of some religious
teachers is low, vulgar. The style of a still greater number is
barbarous. Men soon feel the language of the _Law_ to be barbarous. They
would feel the language of theology to be as barbarous, if they were not
accustomed to hear it or read it so constantly. The way in which the
greater number of evangelical divines express themselves is quite
different from that in which men generally express themselves. Their
whole cast of phraseology is peculiar. You cannot hear five sentences
without feeling that you are listening to a dead or foreign language. To
put it into good current English you have to translate it, and the task
of translation is as hard, and requires as much study and practice, as
that of translating Greek or Hebrew. The language of the pulpit and of
religious books is a dialect to itself, and cannot be used in common
life or common affairs. If you try to apply it to anything but religion,
it becomes ridiculous, and a common kind of wit consists in speaking of
common things in pulpit phraseology. A foreign heathen might master our
language in its common and classical forms, and be able to understand
both our ordinary talk and our ablest authors, yet find himself quite at
a loss to understand an evangelical preacher or writer.

Even if our heathen understood religion in its simpler and more natural
forms, he would still be unable to understand the common run of
religious talkers and writers. If he had religion to learn from such
teachers and writers, he would have a double task, first, to get the
ideas, and then to learn the uncouth and unnatural language. This
peculiar dialect is quite unnecessary. The style of a preacher or a
religious writer might be, and, allowing for a few terms, _ought_ to be,
the same as that of a man talking about ordinary affairs, and matters of
common interest and duty. The want of this is one great cause of the
little success, both of our preachers at home, and of our missionaries
abroad. They hide beneath an unseemly veil, a beauty that should strike
all eyes, and win all hearts. Their style is just the opposite of
everything that can instruct, attract, command. And it is vain to expect
much improvement in the present generation of religious teachers. They
could not get a good style without a long and careful study of good
authors, and for this many of them have neither the taste nor the
needful industry. They would have to begin life anew, to be converted
and become as little children, before they could master the task. They
cannot _think_ of religion but in common words. They cannot think there
can be divine truth but in the old phrases. To discontinue them,
therefore, and use others, would in their view, be to become heretics or
infidels. In truth, many of them seem to have no ideas. Their phrases
are not vehicles of ideas, but substitutes for them. If they hear the
ideas which their phrases did once signify, expressed ever so plainly in
other language, they do not recognise them, and instantly suspect the
man who utters them of unsoundness in the faith, and apply to him all
the abusive terms of ecclesiastical reproach. For such the common pulpit
jargon is the convenient refuge of ignorance, idleness and prejudice.

6. Speaking of certain kinds of religious books, Mr. Foster calls them
an accumulation of bad writing, under which the evangelical theology has
been buried, and which has contributed to bring its principles into
disfavor. He adds: A large proportion of religious books may be
sentenced as bad on more accounts than their peculiarity of dialect. One
has to regret that their authors did not revere the dignity of their
religion too much to surround it and choke it with their works. There is
quite a multitude of books which form the perfect vulgar of religious
authorship,--a vast exhibition of the most inferior materials that can
be called thought, in language too grovelling to be called style. In
these books you are mortified to see how low religious thought and
expression _can_ sink; and you almost wonder how the grand ideas of God
and Providence, of redemption and eternity, the noblest ideas known, can
shine on a human mind, without imparting some small occasional degree of
dignity to its train of thought. You can make allowances for the great
defects of private Christians, but when men obtrude their infinite
littleness and folly on the public in books, you can hardly help
regarding them as inexcusable. True, many of those worthless and
mischievous books are evermore disappearing, but others as bad, or but
little better, take their places. Look where you will you will meet with
them. What estimate can a man have of Christianity who receives his
first impressions of it from such books?

7. There are other religious books that are tolerable as to style, but
which display no power or prominence of thought, no living vigor of
expression; they are flat and dry as a plain of sand. They tease you
with the thousandth repetition of common-places, causing a feeling of
unspeakable weariness. Though the author is surrounded with rich
immeasurable fields of truth and beauty, he treads for ever the same
narrow track already trodden into dust.

8. There is a smaller class of religious writers that may be called
mock-eloquent writers. They try at a superior style, but forget that
true eloquence resides essentially in the thought, the feeling, the
character, and that no words can make genuine eloquence out of that
which is of no worth or interest. They mistake a gaudy verbosity for
eloquence.

9. The moral and theological _materials_ of many religious books are as
faulty as their style, and the injury they do the Gospel is
incalculable. Here is a systematic writer in whose hands all the riches
and magnificence of revelation shrink into a meagre list of doctrinal
points, and not a single verse in the Bible is allowed to tell its
meaning, or even allowed to have one, till it has been forced under
torture to maintain one of his points. You are next confronted with a
prater about the invisible world, that makes you shrink away into
darkness; and then you are met with a grim zealot for such a revolting
theory of the Divine attributes and government, that he seems to delight
in representing the Deity as a dreadful king of furies, whose dominion
is overshadowed with vengeance, whose music is the cries of victims, and
whose glory requires to be illustrated by the ruin of His creation. One
cannot help deploring that the great mass of religious books were not
consigned to the flames before they were permitted to reach the eyes of
the public. Books which exhibit Christianity and its claims with
insipid feebleness, or which cramp its majesty into an artificial form
at once distorted and mean, must grievously injure its influence. An
intelligent Christian cannot look into such works without feeling
thankful that they were not the books from which he got his conceptions
of the Gospel. Nothing would induce him to put them into the hands of an
inquiring youth, and he would be sorry to see them on the table of an
infidel, or in the library of his children, or of a student for the
ministry.--_Foster's Essays._

These sentiments answered so astonishingly to my own thoughts, that I
read them with the greatest delight. I laid them, in substance, before
my brethren. I explained them. I illustrated them by quotations from
books and sermons. I gave them instances of the various faults pointed
out by Foster, taken from their favorite authors, and in some cases from
the discourses of living preachers. I wrote several essays on the causes
of the slow progress made by Christianity, in which I embodied and
illustrated many of Foster's views. I wrote essays on "_Preaching
Christ_," in which I embodied and illustrated Wesley's views on the
subject, including his condemnation of what, in his days, was falsely
called "_Gospel Preaching_." I wrote quite a large volume on these
subjects, and read the contents, so far as opportunity offered, to my
colleagues at our weekly meetings. I was badly requited for my pains. In
some cases my colleagues listened to me and stared at me with amazement.
They thought I "brought strange things to their ears." One, who is now
dead, said I should be really an excellent fellow, he believed, if I
could only get the cobwebs swept out of my upper stories. Everything
beyond his own poor standing common-places was cobwebs to him, poor
fellow. The remarks on this subject in the LIFE of the preacher
referred to, show that my ideas and plans at that time are not yet
understood by all his brethren.

Travel, they say, frees men from their prejudices. The more they see of
the wonders of other countries, and of the manners of other nations, the
more moderate becomes their estimate of the marvels, and of some of the
views and customs of their native land. And it is certain that the more
a man travels through good books by men of different Churches from his
own, the less important will some of the peculiarities of his own
denomination appear. As ignorance of the world is favorable to blind
patriotism and home idolatry, so ignorance of Churches, and systems, and
literatures different from our own, is favorable to bigotry and
sectarianism. And as free and extended intercourse with foreign nations
tends to enlarge and liberalize the mind; so the more extensive a
Christian's acquaintance is with different branches of the Church, and
with their customs, and writings, and manners, the more likely will his
sectarian bigotry and intolerance be to give place to liberal views and
to Christian moderation and charity.

But just in proportion as he becomes the subject of this blessed
transformation, will he be regarded with suspicion and dread by those
who still remain the slaves of ignorance and bigotry.

It was so in my case. I travelled through extensive regions of religious
literature different from that of my own Church, and I did so with an
earnest desire to learn what was true and good in all. The consequence
was the loss of many prejudices, and the modification of many more. I
lost my prejudices against all kinds of Christians. I could believe in
the salvation both of Quakers and Catholics, and of all between, if they
were well disposed, God-fearing, good-living men. I could believe in the
salvation of all, not excepting Jews, Turks, and Pagans, who lived
according to the light they had, and honestly and faithfully sought for
further light. I believed that in every nation he that feared God and
worked righteousness was accepted of Him. I believed that honest,
faithful souls among the pagans of old would be found at last among the
saved. I regarded the moral and spiritual light of the ancient pagans as
light from heaven, as divine revelation. I looked on all mankind as
equally objects of God's care and love, as His children, under His
tuition, though placed for a time in different schools, with different
teachers, and with different lesson-books. I came to believe that God
was as good as a good man, as good as the kindest and best of fathers,
and even better, and I felt assured that He would not permit any
well-disposed soul on earth to perish. I believed that some who were
first in privileges, would be among the last in blessedness; and that
some that were last in privileges would be among the first in
blessedness.

Yet I believed in missions. I believed that it was the duty of all to
share their blessings with others; to give to others the light that God
had bestowed on them,--that though _pagans_ might be saved without
Christian light, if they lived according to the light they had,
_Christians_ could not be saved if they did not, as they had
opportunity, _impart_ their superior light to the pagans.

I respected the good moral principles, and the portions of religious
truth that I found in the ancient Greek and Roman authors, just as I
lamented and condemned the moral and religious errors that I found in
Christian books.

     "I seized on truth where'er 'twas found,
     On Christian or on Heathen ground,"

and made it part of my creed: and I warred with error though entrenched
in the strong-holds of the Church. I respected what was true and good in
all denominations of Christians; and even in all denominations that
_called_ themselves Christians, whether they came near enough to Christ
to entitle them to that name or not. If I saw anything good in the
creeds or the characters of other denominations I accepted it, and tried
to embody it in my own creed and character.

And I did, as I thought, see good in every one that I did not see in
others. I could see things in some Protestants, which I thought
Catholics would do well to imitate; and I could see things among
Catholics, which I thought Protestants would do well to imitate. I could
see things in Quakerism, which it would have been to the honor and
advantage of other Christians to imitate; and I could see good things in
other Churches which Quakers would have done well to copy. I could see
even among Unitarians of the older and better class, an attention to
matters practical, a naturalness of style, and a freedom from certain
anti-christian expressions and notions, which it would have been well
for orthodox Churches to have made their own; and I could see where
Unitarians had both gone too far through their dislike of orthodox
error, and fallen short of truth and duty through dread of orthodox
weaknesses or imperfections. And I had an idea, that it would be well
in all Churches, instead of avoiding, or scolding, or abusing one
another, to study each other lovingly, with a view to find how much of
truth and goodness they could find in each other, that they could not
find in themselves, and how much of error and imperfection they could
find in themselves, that they did not find in others. I saw that no
Church had got all the truth, or all the goodness, and that no Church
was free from anti-christian errors and defects. I saw that to make a
perfect Christian creed, we should have to take something out of every
creed, and leave other things in every creed behind; and that to secure
a perfect exhibition of Christian virtue, and a perfect system of
Christian operations, we should have to borrow from each other habits,
customs, rules and machinery in the same way, and leave parts of our own
to fall into disuse.

And I was willing to act on this principle. I saw that Christ and
Christianity were more and better than all the Churches and all the
creeds on earth put together, and that all the Churches had errors and
faults or failings which Christ and Christianity had not; and I had an
idea that one of the grandest sights conceivable would be to set all the
disciples of Christ to work striving to get rid of everything
anti-christian, and to come as near to Christ, and to each other, as
possible, both in truth and virtue.

But to proceed with my story.

I frequently spoke on religious subjects with my colleagues when we met,
along with the leading laymen, at the houses of our friends. Some new
book, some particular sermon, or some article in the magazine, or
perhaps the fulness of one's own mind with the subjects of one's
studies, would turn the conversation on the state of the Church and the
ministry, and the need of improvement in the theological systems and
dialects of the day, and the manner of handling religious subjects
generally, both in the pulpit and through the press. Whatever the
subject under consideration might be, I expressed myself with the utmost
freedom. I stated my beliefs and disbeliefs, my doubts and my
convictions, without the least reserve. And I as readily gave my reasons
for my views. I was generally prepared with the passages of Scripture
bearing on the subjects introduced, and gave them, with my impressions
of their meaning. And I did my best to draw my colleagues and friends
into a thorough investigation of every point, in hopes that we might all
come as near as possible in our views to a full conformity to the
teachings of Christ. The results of these conversations, and of my other
labors, were in some cases, very satisfactory. Some were led to exercise
their minds on religious subjects who had never troubled themselves
about such matters before. Some that had been accustomed to think and
read a little were led to think and read more, and to better purpose.
Some that had been helplessly and miserably perplexed had their minds
put right, and were delivered from their distresses. Some had their
minds directed more seriously to the practical requirements of
Christianity, and labored more, and made more sacrifices, for the
prosperity of the Church and the salvation of their fellow-men. In
considerable numbers the standard of Christian knowledge and piety was
raised, and the general tone of the churches improved.

In other cases the results were of a very different character. During
the early years of my religious life I supposed that all professing
Christians, and especially all ministers of the Gospel, were anxious to
be as wise and good as possible, and that they would be delighted, as I
was myself, to get any new, or larger, or clearer views of truth and
duty. I judged of others by myself, and gave them credit for the same
desires and longings that swelled my own soul. I gave them credit too
for unlimited capacities to take in and appreciate the truth, and for
any amount of ability to use it, when received, in doing good to others.
I had seldom any difficulty in understanding _them_; and it never
entered my mind that they would have much difficulty in understanding
me. And I never felt myself even tempted, much less disposed, to
misrepresent the words or sentiments of my friends, or to take advantage
of the freedom with which they spoke, to injure them in the estimation
of their friends. I had no intolerance myself, so far as I can
recollect, and I had no disposition to cause intolerance in others
towards my brethren. How it was with my brethren I will not undertake to
say, but, as a person with any knowledge of human nature would have
anticipated, I was greatly misunderstood and misrepresented. Some of my
colleagues and friends were in a maze with regard to my views and
intentions. Shut up within the narrow confines of some old stereotyped
form of faith or fancy into which they had been born, or into which they
had been brought they knew not how, and afraid to change or modify one
_iota_ of their blind belief, investigation, search after truth,
enlargement of thought, or change of sentiment, was with them out of the
question. The very idea of anything differing from their own
traditionary or haphazard belief was, in the estimation of some of them,
no less than heresy, treason, or infidelity. Others, who were not so
much benighted, were afraid to venture on a free examination of
religious matters, or a careful comparison of their views with the
teachings of Scripture. Some trusted in their elders, and feared no
error so long as they kept in the track of their predecessors. I am not
certain that I should go too far if I were to say, that some were under
the influence of worldly and selfish motives, and were resolved to take
the course which promised to be most conducive to a quiet, easy,
self-indulgent life. There were some whose conversations left this
impression on my mind. One young minister, when I was pointing out to
him some inconsistency between a statement he had made and the teachings
of Christ, put an end to the conversation by saying, "I don't want to
hear anything about such matters; I know what is expected of a minister
of the Methodist New Connexion, and I am resolved to be one; and I shall
just hold the doctrines necessary to keep me in the office, and nothing
else." And I suppose he did not stand alone.

Some lacked the power to think. They were all but mindless. Whatever
they might be able to do in reference to worldly matters, they were
unable to think, to compare doctrine with doctrine, or to reason in any
respect whatever on religious matters. One young man, a candidate for
the ministry, told me that he never had thought matters over in his own
mind, but taken what came in his way in books or sermons, never
troubling himself, or finding himself able, to do more than to remember
and to repeat what he heard or read. He had not the faculty to compare
the sayings of men with the sayings of God; or the sayings of one man
with the sayings of another. He was a mere dealer in words and phrases,
and he aspired to nothing higher than to live by the ignoble occupation.
How many of those with whom I came in contact, and in whose society I
poured forth so freely the thoughts of my mind, were of the same stamp,
I do not know. I never tested any other person so thoroughly as I tested
him. There _were_ others, however, that had been fashioned in a similar
mould.

Others with whom I conversed _had thought_, and had embraced certain
views believing them to be true; but they had fallen under the influence
of teachers and books of a different cast from those by which my own
mind had been chiefly influenced. And they had been led to fix their
thoughts almost exclusively on one particular class of Scripture
passages, and to neglect or overlook other portions of the sacred
volume, though much more numerous, and much more clear in their meaning.
They had also been led to adopt certain interpretations of the passages
on which their attention had been specially fixed, which a consideration
of other passages of Scripture had led me to reject. Thus our minds had
run into different moulds, and taken different forms. We differed not
only on certain points of doctrine, but in our tastes, and in our rules
of judging. The consequence was, that we could never talk long on
religious subjects without getting into a dispute, or coming to a dead
stand. To make matters worse, this class of people had been led to
believe that their peculiar notions were the essential doctrines of the
Gospel, and that those who did not believe them could not be Christians.
When therefore they found that I looked upon their theories as erroneous
and unscriptural, they pronounced me at once an erratic and dangerous
man. I imagined, at first, that I could bring these people to see things
in a different light. I had such faith in the power of plain Scripture
passages, and in the force of common sense, and was so ignorant of the
power of prejudice, and of peculiarities of mental constitution, that I
conversed and reasoned with them with the greatest freedom and the
utmost confidence. But I found at length that my expectations were vain.
I was conversing once with a colleague who belonged to this class, on
man's natural proneness to evil. He was one of the best and most
enlightened of that school of theologians, and he regarded me at the
time with very kindly feelings. And we were agreed as to the _fact_ of
man's natural tendency to evil, but he had been led to rest his belief
in the doctrine on somewhat different grounds from those on which my
belief rested. And this was enough. He quoted the passage from Isaiah,
"The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint: from the crown of
the head, to the sole of the foot, there is no soundness, but wounds and
bruises and putrefying sores." "Do you think that the Prophet refers in
that passage to man's natural proneness to evil?" said I. "What can he
refer to else?" said he. "I have been accustomed to regard the words as
a figurative description of the miserable state of the Israelites under
the terrible judgments of God," I replied. He instantly became red in
the face, and said, "Do you mean to deny the natural depravity of man?"
I said, "The question is not about the doctrine, but only about the
meaning of that particular passage." But all was in vain. I had roused
his suspicions and his anger, and the conversation came at once to an
end, and he never afterwards regarded me with the same degree of
confidence and friendliness as before.

On another occasion a brother minister quoted, as proof that men in
their unregenerate state cannot do anything towards their own salvation,
the words of Jeremiah, already once referred to, "Can the Ethiopian
change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" "Do you really think," said
I, "that the Prophet is speaking, in those words, of men generally?"
"What else is he speaking of?" was the answer. "He seems to me to be
speaking of a particular class of men, who have been so long accustomed
to do wrong, that they have lost the power to do right--having made
themselves the helpless slaves of their evil habits. He is not, I think,
speaking of the state into which they were _born_; but of the state to
which they had _reduced_ themselves by long persistence in sin. Hence he
says at the conclusion of the passage, 'Then may ye, who are accustomed
to do evil, do well.'" "Oh! I suppose you deny the doctrine of natural
depravity." "No, I do not," said I. "It is no use saying that," he
replied, "when you explain away the passages of Scripture in which the
doctrine is taught."

Such encounters between me and my brethren were at one time by no means
uncommon. They took place at almost every meeting. The result was often
unpleasant. My brethren generally did not like to be disturbed in their
notions, or in their way of talking. But few, if any of them, were
prepared or disposed to enter on the investigations necessary to enable
them to ascertain what was the truth on the points on which we were
accustomed to converse. Some had not the power to revise their creeds
and their way of talking and preaching, and bring them into harmony with
Scripture and common sense. And people of this class were sure to look
on all who did not see things in the same light as themselves, as
dangerous or damnable heretics. They, of course, concluded that I was
not sound in the faith. They felt that I was a troublesome, and feared
that I was a lost and ruined man. The remarks which I made to them, they
repeated to their friends; and as they seldom succeeded in understanding
me properly, their reports were generally incorrect. In some cases my
statements were reported with important additions, and in others with
serious alterations, and in some cases their meaning was entirely
changed. And the change was seldom to my advantage. A difference of
expression between me and my brethren was mistaken for a difference of
belief; and the disuse of an unscriptural word, was mistaken for a
renunciation of a Christian doctrine. A dispute about the "eternal
sonship" was mistaken for a dispute about the divinity of Christ, and a
difference of opinion about the meaning of a passage of Scripture, came
to be reported as the denial of Christ's authority. In one case I gave
it as my judgment that there were really righteous people on earth when
Christ came into the world, and that it was to such that Christ
referred, when He said, He "came not to call the righteous, but sinners
to repentance." This was made into an assertion that the coming of
Christ was unnecessary. Inability to accept unauthorized definitions and
unscriptural theories of Scriptural doctrines, was construed into a
denial of those doctrines. My endeavor to strip religious subjects of
needless mystery, was represented as an attempt to substitute a vain
philosophy for the Gospel of Christ. An expression of dissatisfaction
with a grandiloquent but foolish and mischievous sermon on the "Cross
of Christ," was set down as a proof that my views on the sacrifice of
Christ were not evangelical. My endeavors to show that Christianity was
in harmony with reason, were mistaken for an attempt to substitute
reason for faith, and became the occasion of a rumor that I was running
into Pelagianism or Socinianism. My own conviction was, that I was
coming nearer to the simplicity, the purity, and the fulness of the
Gospel; and that is my conviction still. And those of my brethren in the
ministry who were in advance of the rest in point of intelligence and
piety, and who were least infected with foolish fear and jealousy,
expressed to me their satisfaction with my views and proceedings. And
the people listened to my discourses with the greatest delight. They
flocked to hear me in crowds; and the crowds continually increased. And
many were benefited under my ministry. Sinners were converted, and
believers were comforted, and stimulated to greater efforts in the cause
of God.

To those, however, who had come to believe that I was drifting towards
heresy, all this was the occasion of greater alarm, and my great success
and growing popularity led them to make increasing efforts to lessen my
influence, or silence me altogether. Their conduct caused me great
uneasiness, and it was this that first awakened in me unhappy feeling
towards them.



CHAPTER VIII.

A SECOND TENDENCY. PRACTICAL PREACHING.


I had a second powerful tendency which helped to get me into trouble,
and so became an occasion of unhappy feeling, namely, a _practical_
tendency. This was bred in me. It was a family peculiarity; it ran in
the blood. My father had it. Religion with him was goodness of heart and
goodness of life; fearing God and working righteousness; loving God and
keeping His commandments. And his belief and life were one. I never knew
a more conscientious or godly man. And I never knew a man who could more
truly have uttered the words of the Psalmist: "Lord, my heart is not
haughty, nor mine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great
matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted
myself as a child that is weaned of its mother; my soul is even as a
weaned child." What God had left mysterious, he was willing should
remain so; he found sufficient to meet his wants and to occupy his
thoughts in what He had clearly revealed. He never troubled either
himself or his children with those incomprehensible subjects on which
many people are so prone to speculate and dogmatize. He read but few
books, and those which he read he carefully compared with the sacred
Scriptures. The Bible was his only authority, and by it he tested both
books and preachers, receiving nothing but what he saw and felt to be in
harmony with its spirit and teachings. He liked Bunyan, especially his
_Pilgrim's Progress_; and he liked Wesley; but he liked the Bible best.
There were no bounds to his love and reverence for the Scriptures. He
regarded them as the perfection of all wisdom, the true and perfect
unfolding of the mind and will of God. He read them every morning on his
knees, before the rest of the family were up. Whatever might be the
calls of business, he spent a full hour in this exercise. He read them
every noon to his family. He read them at night before retiring to rest.
He read them with a sincere desire to learn God's will, and with earnest
prayer for Divine help to enable him to do it. He read them till all the
plainer and more practical portions were safely lodged in his memory,
and deeply engraven on his heart. He read them till their teachings
became a part of his very nature, and shone forth in his character in
all the beauty of holiness. He was a thorough Christian. The oracles of
God were the rule both of his faith and conduct. They leavened his whole
soul. They mingled with all his conversation. They were his only
counsellors and his chief comforters. They were his law, his politics,
his philosophy, his morals. They were his treasure and his song. And he
received their teachings in their simple, obvious, common-sense meaning.
He had quite a distaste for commentaries, because they would not allow
the Scriptures to speak forth their own solemn meaning in their own
plain, artless way. He hated the notes to Bunyan's _Pilgrim's Progress_
for the same reason. He could understand the Bible, but he could not
understand the explanations of it given by theologians. He would not
study theology. He would study the Bible and Christ; he would study
precepts and promises, exhortations and warnings, examples and
historics; but not theology. And he never bothered us with theology.
There was no theology in his conversation. There was none in his
prayers. He never used theological terms. In all he said on religious
matters, whether to God or man, he used the simplest Bible terms. He
seldom talked much to his children about religion; he taught us more by
his deeds and spirit than by words; but when he did say anything to us
on the subject, it was the pure, unadulterated Word of God. The idea of
making us theologians, in the ordinary sense of the word, never entered
into his head. He wished us to think and feel and act like Christians,
and that was all; and the end of all his counsels and labors was to
furnish us unto every good word and work. If he had written a system of
divinity, he would have left out most of the things which many put into
such books, and put in many which most leave out. It would have been a
book to help people to live right and feel right, and not to dream, or
speculate, or wrangle. If he had been a preacher, he would have filled
his sermons with the living words of Moses and the Prophets, of Christ
and His Apostles, and pressed them on the consciences of his hearers
with all his might. He would often have "reasoned of righteousness,
temperance, and a judgment to come," but never troubled his hearers with
human theories of Christian doctrines. The drift and scope of his
sermons to the ungodly would have been, "Cease to do evil; learn to do
well." "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his
thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon
him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." "Repeat and be
converted, every one of you, that your sins may he blotted out." The
substance of his sermons to believers would have been, "I beseech you
therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies
a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable
service." "Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price; therefore
glorify God with your bodies and your spirits, which are His." "For ye
were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, from
your evil way of life received by tradition from your fathers; but with
the precious blood of Christ; who gave Himself for you, that He might
redeem you from all iniquity, and purify you unto Himself a peculiar
people, zealous of good works." "Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for
whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to
the flesh, shall of the flesh, reap corruption; but he that soweth to
the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be
weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,
especially to those who are of the household of faith." He would have
spoken of the love of God, and of the death of Christ, and of all the
great moving facts and doctrines of the Gospel; but, like the sacred
writers, he would have turned them all to practical account. His aim in
everything would have been to bring men into subjection to God's will,
and into full conformity with the teachings and character of Christ.

My eldest brother was a minister, and this was the character of his
preaching. His favorite books were Baxter's works and the Bible. His
favorite minister was William Dawson, one of the most practical,
earnest, and common-sense preachers that ever occupied a pulpit. Like
his father, he kept scrupulously to the simple teachings of the
Scriptures, and he was once charged with unsoundness in the faith,
because he would not be wise above what was revealed, nor preach more
than the Gospel committed to him by Christ.

It was the same with myself. I looked on Christianity, from the first,
as a means of enlightening and regenerating mankind, and changing them
into the likeness of Christ and of God. In other words, I regarded it as
a grand instrument appointed by God, for making bad men into good men,
and good men always better, thus fitting them for all the duties of
life, and all the blessedness they were created to enjoy. And I
considered that the great business of a Christian minister was to use it
for those great ends. And I think so still.

The Bible is the most practical book under heaven, and I cannot conceive
how any one can read it carefully, with a mind unbiased by prejudice or
evil feeling, without perceiving that its great object is to bring men
to fear and love God, and to make them perfect in every good work to do
His will. How any one can study Christianity without perceiving that its
design is to bring men into harmony with God, both in heart and action,
and to make them steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of
the Lord, is a mystery to me. Antinomianism is Antichrist. The preaching
which tends to lessen men's sense of duty, or to reconcile people to a
selfish, idle, or useless life, is contrary both to Christianity and
common sense. And all interpretations of Scripture which favor the
doctrine that men have nothing to do but to believe and trust in Christ,
are madness or impiety. The impression which God seeks to make on our
minds from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation is, that if
we would have His favor and blessing, we must do His will. The whole
Bible is one great lesson of piety and virtue, of love and beneficence.
Christ is "the Author of eternal salvation to those" only "who obey
Him." Those who obey Him not He will punish with everlasting
destruction. Christ and His Apostles agree that, if we would see God and
have eternal life, we must be "holy as God is holy," "merciful as our
Father in heaven is merciful," "righteous as Christ was
righteous;"--that God, who is love, and Christ, who is God, must dwell
in us, live in us, work in us;--that carnal, sinful self must die, and
"grace reign in us through righteousness unto eternal life."

I know what can be said about doctrines; but there are no doctrines in
the Scriptures at variance with the principle that "God will render to
every man according to his deeds,--that to them who by patient
continuance in well-doing seek for glory, honor, and immortality, He
will give eternal life; and that to them who are contentious, and do not
obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, He will recompense indignation
and wrath, tribulation and anguish." Nay, the doctrines of Scripture are
employed throughout as motives and inducements to righteousness. This is
their use. The truth is taught us that it may make us free from sin, and
sanctify both our hearts and lives to God. The Word of God, the
doctrine of Christ, is sown in our hearts as seed in the ground, that it
may bring forth in our lives "the fruits of righteousness." The office
of faith in Christ and His doctrine is, to "work by love," to make us
"new creatures," and so bring us to keep God's commandments. The
blindest man on earth is not more blind than the man who can read the
Scriptures without perceiving that their object is to make men "perfect,
thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

As I had never been placed for instruction under any Antinomian
theologian, and had never been taught at home, either by word or deed,
to wrest the Scriptures from their plain and simple meaning, I naturally
became a thoroughly practical preacher. I took practical texts: I
preached practical sermons. The first text from which I preached was,
"Say ye to the righteous, it shall be well with them, for they shall eat
the fruit of their doings. Wo unto the wicked, it shall be ill with him;
for the reward of his hands shall be given him." The second was,
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The third was,
"Ye are not your own; ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God
with your bodies and spirits, which are God's." And the fourth was,
"These shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into
life eternal." The following were among my principal texts and subjects
for many years: "Occupy till I come." "Let your light so shine before
men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is
in heaven." "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit."
"He that showeth mercy with cheerfulness." "Be ye therefore merciful, as
your Father which is in heaven is merciful." "He that winneth souls is
wise." "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he
will not depart from it." The Good Samaritan. The Prodigal Son. The
Barren Fig-tree. The Hatefulness and Wickedness of Lukewarmness. The
Woman that did what she could. The Christian's Race. The Good Steward.
The duty of Christians to strive with one heart and one mind for the
faith of the Gospel. The example of Christ. "Give no occasion to the
adversary to preach reproachfully." "And now abideth faith, hope,
charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always
abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor
is not in vain in the Lord." "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of
Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation: to every one that
believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." "I must work the
works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no
man can work." "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that,
though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through
His poverty might be rich." "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do
good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of
faith." "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth
that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the
flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the
Spirit reap life everlasting." "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a
fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one, in the spirit of
meekness; considering thyself lest thou also be tempted." "And let us
not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint
not." "Feed My sheep." "Feed My lambs." "Bear ye one another's burdens,
and so fulfil the law of Christ." "Remember the poor." "Freely ye have
received; freely give." "It is more blessed to give than to receive." I
had quite a multitude of such subjects.

I did not however confine myself to these. I did my best to declare the
whole counsel of God. I kept back nothing that seemed likely to be
useful to my hearers. I spoke on the love of God,--on the condescension
of Christ,--of His unparalleled love in giving Himself a sacrifice for
our salvation. I spoke of His sufferings and death,--of His resurrection
and mediation,--of His sympathy with our sorrows,--of His coming to
judgment. I spoke of the miseries of sin,--of the pleasures of
religion,--of the joys of heaven,--of the pains of hell,--of providence,
and of trust in God. In short, I preached on every great doctrine of
revelation as I had opportunity. I revered all God's truth, and I
preached on every part of it with fidelity. But I treated everything in
a practical way. I used every subject as a means or motive to holiness
and usefulness. And this, I believe, was right. The Apostles did
so,--Christ did so,--and they are the Christian minister's examples.

I had a partiality for practical books. As I have already said, among my
favorite English authors were Hooker, and Baxter, and Barrow, and Howe,
and Jeremy Taylor, and Penn, and Tillotson, and Law. Baxter stood first,
and my favorite books were his _Christian Directory_, his _Life of
Faith_, his _Crucifixion of the World by the Cross of Christ_, and his
_Directions for Settled Peace of Conscience_. But, in truth, it is hard
to say which of his works I did not regard as favorites. I liked his
_Catholic Theology_, his _Aphorisms on Justification_, his
_Confessions_, and even his Latin _Methodus Theologiæ_. I read him
everlastingly. I read Law and Barrow too, till I almost knew many of
their works by heart. I studied Penn from beginning to end. And I never
got tired of reading Hooker. I regarded his _Ecclesiastical Polity_ as
one of the richest, sweetest, wisest, saintliest books under heaven.

My favorite French authors were Massillon, Fenelon, Flechier, Bourdaloue
and Saurin, all practical preachers. Massillon moved me most. I have
read him now at intervals for more than forty years, and I read him
still with undiminished profit and delight. He is the greatest of all
preachers; the most eloquent, the most powerful; and his works abound
with the grandest, the profoundest, the most impressive and overpowering
views of truth and duty.

Among the Fathers I liked Lactantius and Chrysostom best, not only for
the superiority of their style, but for the common sense and practical
character of their sentiments.

My favorite Methodist author, when I first began my Christian career,
was Benson. His sermons were full of fervor and power. I felt less
interest in Wesley at first. I was incapable of duly appreciating his
works. As I grew older, and got more sense, my estimate both of his
character and writings rose, and now I like him better, and esteem him
more highly, than at any former period of my life. And I like his latest
writings best.

I liked Fletcher very much, partly on account of the good, kind
Christian feeling that pervaded his writings, and partly on account of
his able and unanswerable defence of the enlightened and scriptural
views of Wesley, as set forth in the Minutes of 1771.

Among the later Dissenting writers, Robert Hall was my favorite. I liked
many things in the writings of John Angell James; but there were other
things, especially in his _Anxious Inquirer_, that appeared to savor
more of mysticism than of Christianity, and that seemed better
calculated to perplex and embarrass young disciples of Christ, than to
afford them guidance and comfort.

There were many other good authors whom I read and prized, but most of
the above I read till their thoughts and feelings became, to a great
extent, my own; and the effect of all was to strengthen the already
strong practical tendency of my mind.

But no book did so much to make me a practical preacher as the Bible. It
is practical throughout--intensely practical, and nothing else but
practical. The moment it introduces man to our notice, it presents him
as subject to God's law, and represents his life and blessedness as
depending entirely on his obedience. God is presented from the first as
an avenger of sin, and as a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
In His address to Cain He sets forth the whole principle of His
government: 'If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? But if thou
doest not well, sin lieth at the door.' Enoch is translated because he
walked with God. The world is destroyed because of its wickedness, and
Noah is saved because of his righteousness. Abraham is blessed because
he observes the statutes and judgments of God, and because he is ready
to make the greatest sacrifices out of respect to His commands. The sum
of the whole revelation given to the Jews is, "Behold I set before you
life and death, a blessing and a curse. Obey, and all conceivable
blessings shall be your portion: disobey, and all imaginable curses
shall fall on you." The history of the Jews is an everlasting story of
obedience and prosperity, of disobedience and adversity. The history of
individuals is the same. The just live; the wicked die. The good are
honored; the bad are put to shame. The Psalms, the Proverbs, and the
Prophets are all lessons of righteousness. Righteousness exalteth
nations; sin brings them down to destruction. And Jesus and Paul, and
Peter and James, and Jude and John, have all one aim, to bless men by
turning them away from their iniquities, and by urging them to perpetual
advancement in holiness. All the histories, all the biographies, all the
prophecies, all the parables, all the preaching, all the praying, all
the writing, all the reasoning, all the things the Book contains, have
just one object, to make men good, and urge them to grow continually
better. All the doctrines are practical, and are used as motives to
purity, love and beneficence. All the promises are given to support and
cheer people in the faithful discharge of their duty. All the warnings
are to keep men from idleness, selfishness and sin. The Church and all
its ministries; the Scriptures and all their revelations; Providence and
all its dispensations; nature and all her operations, are all presented
as means and motives to a life of holy love and usefulness. The Bible
has nothing, is nothing, but laws and lessons, aiming at the
illumination, the sanctification, the moral and spiritual perfection of
mankind.

Idleness and selfishness are the greatest of all heresies, and love and
beneficence the perfection of all religion. No doctrine can be falser or
more anti-christian than the doctrine that a man may sow one thing and
reap another; that he may sow tares and reap wheat; or sow cockle and
reap barley--that he can grow thistles and reap figs, or plant thorns
and gather grapes. 'He that doeth good is of God;' 'he that committeth
sin is of the devil.' 'By this we know that we have passed from death
unto life, because we love the brethren.' 'By this shall all men know
that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.' 'Ye know that
every one that doeth righteousness, or lives to do good, is born of
God.' 'By their fruits ye shall know them.' Good trees will bring forth
good fruit, bad trees will bring forth bad fruit. 'Every tree that
bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the
fire.'

But to give all the practical passages the Bible contains you must quote
the substance, the soul, the bulk of the whole Book. It is all of a
piece. It has one aim and one tendency from beginning to end, to kill
sin and foster righteousness, to crush selfishness and develop
philanthropy. It consists of a multitude of parts, written in different
ages, by a great variety of authors, in a great variety of styles, but
it has one spirit, the spirit of truth and righteousness. And the last
oracles it contains are like the first: 'Blessed are the dead that die
in the Lord; they rest from their labors, and their works follow them.'
'Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have a right
to the tree of life, and enter in through the gates into the city.'

Under the influence of this most rational, common-sense, practical Book,
what could I do but become a thoroughly practical preacher? What could I
do but drink in its blessed, god-like lessons, and make it the great
business of my life to teach them and preach them to my hearers, and
urge them on their consciences as the governing principles of their
hearts and lives?

The book of nature preaches the same practical Gospel as the Bible.
There is not a creature on earth that is not required to work. Birds,
beasts and insects must all labor, or die. The birds must build their
nests, and gather supplies of food for themselves and their young, or
they would all perish. The cattle must graze, or browse, or burrow, or
dive, or lack their needed supplies of food. The beaver must build its
dam, and the wolf must dig its hole, and both must labor for their daily
food. The bee must gather her wax, and build her cell, and fetch home
her honey, or starve. The ant must build her palace and look out for
food both for herself and her family. The spider must spin her thread,
and weave her web, and watch all day for her prey. All seek their food
from God, and obtain it at his hands as the reward of their industry.

Every organ in man's body has to work, or the body, with all its organs,
would die. The lungs must be continually breathing, and the heart
incessantly beating, and the blood perpetually running its mysterious
round, or the whole frame would perish. And the hands must work, and the
feet must walk, and the eyes must look, and the ears must listen, and
the tongue must talk. And the jaws must grind our food, and the stomach
digest it, and the liver and the spleen, and the brain and the bowels,
and the nerves and the glands must all co-operate, or we hasten to the
dust.

And so it is through every department of nature. All things are full of
labor. The vegetable world serves the animal world, and the animal world
serves the vegetable world, and the mineral and meteorological worlds
serve them both. And the branches of the tree shed their leaves to feed
the roots, and the roots collect moisture and nutriment from the soil to
feed the branches and the leaves. And the clouds let fall their showers,
and the sun sheds down his warmth and light, and the more mysterious
powers of nature exert their secret influences, and all things are thus
kept right. And the winds keep ever in motion, bearing away the surplus
cold of one region to temper the excessive heat of another, and carrying
back the surplus heat of the warmer climes, to soften the rigors of the
colder ones. And so throughout the universe. There is not an idle orb in
the whole heavens, nor is there an idle atom on earth. The sun the moon
and the stars are in eternal motion, and are evermore exerting their
wondrous influences for the good of the whole universe. And the streams
are ever flowing, and the sea is ever toiling. The great things and the
small, the seen and the unseen, the conscious and the unconscious, are
all at work, helping themselves, and serving each other, and
contributing with one consent to the welfare of the great mysterious
whole. Nature's laws are so framed that idleness is everywhere punished,
and honest industry everywhere rewarded. Everywhere obedience is life,
and disobedience death. Salvation by works is the principle of the
Divine Government throughout the universe, among all the creatures of
God.

My favorite preachers were William Dawson, David Stoner and James
Parsons, all eloquent and earnest men, and all decidedly practical. I
never missed an opportunity of hearing them if they came within five or
six miles of the place where I lived. And many of their sermons which I
heard more than forty years ago are still fresh in my memory, and
continue to exert a happy influence on my heart.

William Dawson was a local preacher, a farmer. He was a large,
broad-chested, big-headed, strong built man,--one of the finest
specimens of a well-made, thoroughly developed Englishman I ever saw.
And he was full of life. There was not a sluggish atom in his whole
body, nor a slow-going faculty in his whole soul. He had eyes like fire;
and his face was the most expressive I ever looked upon. And his voice
was loud as the fall of mighty waters. And it was wonderfully flexible,
and full of music. And he always spoke in natural tones. There was
nothing like cant or monotony in his utterance. Yet he would raise his
voice to such a pitch at times that you could hear him half a mile away.
He was the most perfect actor I ever saw, because he was not an actor at
all, but awful, absolute reality. And he was a man of wonderful
intelligence and good sense. And he was well read. His mind was full to
overflowing of the soundest religious knowledge. And his good sound
sense had no perceptible admixture of nonsense. Every sentence answered
to your best ideas of the right, the true, the holy, the divine. His
grammar, his logic, and his rhetoric were perfect, and all nature seemed
to stand by to supply him with apt, and striking, and touching
illustrations. And his soul was full of feeling. He seemed to sympathize
with every form of humanity, from the helpless babe to tottering age,
and to be one with them in all their joys and sorrows, and in all their
hopes and fears. And now he would cry with the crying child, and then he
would wail with the afflicted mother. All that is great, all that is
tender, all that is terrible,--all nature, with all that is human, and
much that was divine, seemed incarnated in him. He was the most
wonderful embodiment of all that goes to make a great, a mighty, a
complete man, and a good, an able, and an all-powerful preacher, it ever
was my privilege to see. As a matter of course, his prayers, his
sermons, and his public speeches were irresistible. Sinners trembled,
and fell on their knees praying and howling. Saints shouted, and lost
themselves in transports. His congregations were always crowded, and the
dense, mixed masses of men and women, good and evil, old and young, all
were moved by him like the sea by a strong wind. All understood him: all
felt him; and all were awed and bowed as by the power of God. His
sermons were always practical. Whether he spake to the saint or the
sinner, he went directly to the conscience. And all that he said you
saw. Sin stared you full in the face and looked unspeakably sinful; it
rose and stood before you a monster group of all imaginable horrors and
abominations. The sinner shook, he shrank, he writhed at the sight, in
mortal agony. God, as Dawson pictured Him, was terrible in majesty and
infinite in glory. Jesus was the perfection of tenderness, of love, and
power, and almighty to save. Thousands were converted under him. His
influence pervaded the whole country, and was everywhere a check on
evil, and a power for good. The effect of his ministry on me, on my
imagination, my mind and my heart, was living and powerful to the last
degree, and I remember his sermons, and feel his power, to the present
day, and he will dwell in my memory, to be loved and honored, as long as
I live.

David Stoner was a travelling preacher. He lived in the same village as
William Dawson, and was a member of his class. He was a disciple of
Dawson in every respect, but in no respect a servile imitator. He was a
man and not a slave. And he had much of Dawson's sense, and much of
Dawson's power, though little or nothing of Dawson's natural dramatic
manner. He was a fountain pouring forth a perpetual stream of truth and
holy influence. The two were one in love, and light, and power, but in
manner they differed as much as any two powerful preachers I ever knew.
Both live in my soul, and speak with my voice, and write with my pen.
Both had an influence in determining both the method of my preaching and
the manner of my life in my early days.

James Parsons was a Congregationalist. His character, and the character
of his preaching, may be learned from his published sermons. But,
strange to say, the sermons published by himself, are not near so good,
nor do they convey half so good an idea of his power, as those reported
by short-hand writers and published by others. He was more, and better,
and mightier in the pulpit, before a large and living congregation, than
in his closet alone. My remembrance of these three great and godly men,
and powerful Christian ministers, is a rich and eternal treasure. I can
never come near them, but I may follow them, as I did in the days of my
youth, "Afar off."

Whether the strong practical tendency of my mind did not carry me too
far sometimes, and make my preaching somewhat one-sided, I cannot say. I
may not be considered qualified to judge. I have, however, an opinion on
the subject. My impression is, that my method of preaching was
thoroughly scriptural and evangelical. And it was, I believe, the kind
of preaching which the Church and the world particularly needed. It was,
too, the kind of preaching to which I believe I was specially called,
and for which I was specially fitted. It was the only kind in which I
felt myself perfectly at home. And the effects were good. Sinners were
converted. Unbelievers were convinced. And believers were improved and
comforted. They were led to read and study the Scriptures more, and to
read and study them with greater pleasure, and to greater profit. They
became more enamoured of Christianity, more zealous for its spread, and
more able in its defence.

And the societies among which I labored always prospered, and those
among which I labored most prospered most abundantly. My labors proved
especially useful to the young. My classes were crowded with thoughtful,
earnest, inquiring youths. And those who fell under my influence became,
as a rule, intelligent, devoted, and useful characters. Not a few of
them continue laborious and exemplary Christians, and able and
successful ministers, to the present day. I meet with good and useful
people almost everywhere, many of whom are in the ministry, who
acknowledge me as their spiritual father, and consider themselves
indebted to my former ministry, and to my early writings, both for their
standing and usefulness in the Church, and for their success and
happiness in life.

One would suppose that a method of preaching which was followed by such
happy results, should have been encouraged. And so it was by the great
mass of the people. They heard me gladly. They came in crowds wherever I
was announced to preach, and filled the largest chapels to their utmost
capacity. They drank in my words with eagerness, and made no secret of
the place I occupied in their affection and esteem. But many of my
brethren in the ministry regarded me with great disquietude. They
thought my preaching grievously defective. "It failed," they said, "to
give due prominence to the distinctive features of the gospel economy."
"It is good," they would say, "as far as it goes; but it does not go far
enough. It is too vague, too general. His sermons are beautiful and good
in their way, but they are not the Gospel. They are true; but they are
not the whole truth. There is not enough of Christ in them. We find
fault with them, not for what they _contain_, but for what they do _not_
contain. True, they make mention of the great facts and doctrines of
Christianity, but they do not make enough of them; they do not dwell on
them as their constant theme." They made many such complaints. They
charged me with winning from my hearers, for a partial and defective
view of the Gospel, the love and reverence which were due only to a very
different view. They called me a legalist, a work-monger, and other
offensive names. They charged me too with spoiling the people, with
giving them a distaste for ordinary kinds of preaching, and making it
hard for other preachers to follow me. The complaints they whispered in
the ears of their friends soon found their way to mine. I endeavored to
justify myself by appeals to Scripture, to Wesley, and to other
authorities. It would have been better perhaps if I had kept silent and
gone quietly on with my work. But some of my friends thought otherwise.
They wished to be furnished with answers to my traducers, and so
constrained me to speak. My defence only led to renewed and more violent
attacks. My opponents could not think well of my style of preaching,
without thinking ill of their own. They could not acknowledge my method
to be evangelical, without confessing their own to be grievously
defective, and to have expected them to do that would have been the
extreme of folly. They could do no other therefore than regard me as a
dangerous man, and do what they could to bring my preaching and
sentiments into suspicion, and prepare the way for my exclusion from the
ministry. This was the second cause of the unhappy feeling which took
possession of my mind.

A few quotations from a Journal written about this time may be of use
and interest here.



CHAPTER IX.

EXTRACTS FROM MY DIARY.


I heard T. Batty yesterday. His text was, "Come unto Me all ye that
labor, and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." He urged people
to come to Christ, but he never told them what it was to come to Him. We
cannot come to Him literally now, as people did when He was on earth;
but we can leave all other teachers and guides, and renounce the
dominion of our appetites and passions, and put ourselves under His
teaching and government. In other words, we can become Christians; we
can learn Christ's doctrine and obey it, and, thus obeying, trust in Him
for salvation. But Mr. Batty said not a word about this. He talked as if
all that people had to do, was to roll themselves on Christ, or cast
themselves on Him just as they were. He made all the passages about
bringing forth fruits meet for repentance,--hearing Christ's words and
doing them,--denying ourselves and taking up our cross,--using our
talents, working in His cause, &c., of no effect. He said, "Come just as
you are. If you tarry till you are better, you will never come at all;"
which seems to me, neither Scripture nor common sense. To come to
Christ, in the proper sense of the words, is to become better;--it is to
cease to live to ourselves and sin, and to live to God. Hence Christ, in
connection with Mr. Batty's text says, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn
of Me, for I am meek, and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto
your souls." The meaning of this is, give up the service of self and
sin, and serve me. Take me for your pattern, and be as I am, and live as
I live. But he never noticed the latter part of the passage.

--What a blessed thing it is to have so many good books! They are a
world of comfort to me, as well as a means of ever-increasing spiritual
good. And they are evermore startling and delighting me with striking
oracles of Christian truth. Here is one from Baxter. "Every truth of God
is appointed to be His instrument, to do some holy work upon your
heart! _Charity_ is the end of _truth_." Here is another: "The Gospel is
a seal, on which is engraven the portrait, the likeness of Christ. Our
hearts are the wax, on which the seal should be impressed, and to which
the likeness should be transferred. The duty of ministers and of all
religious teachers is to apply the seal to men's hearts, that all may be
brought to bear the image, the likeness of Christ."

--I always placed the moral element of religion above the doctrinal;
charity above faith; good living above any kind of opinions.

--This afternoon Mr. Burrows preached on Mary's choice, but he left the
matter in a mist. He talked about sitting at Christ's feet, but did not
say what it meant. We cannot do that literally now; but we can do what
amounts to the same thing. We can _read_ Christ's words in the
_Gospels_, as Mary _heard_ them from His _lips_; and we can do as He
bids us, and look to Him for all we need. And this, in truth, is the
"one thing needful." But he did not put the matter in this light. He
probably did not see it in this light. He would have been afraid perhaps
to receive or to give so simple an explanation of the matter.

I had a talk with Mr. Woodhouse last night, about man's natural state.
He preached on the subject on Tuesday night, and said things which, to
me, seemed unwarranted. He said men can do nothing good, till they are
regenerated.

Is that your idea? said I.

Of course. Are they not _dead_? And what can dead men do?

I suppose they can do as God bids them, "Arise from the dead." You spoke
of the result of Adam's sin, but you said nothing of the effect of the
second Adam's doings. Now I believe that we are put in as good a
position by Christ, for serving God and obtaining heaven, as we should
have been if Adam had not sinned. I believe men have good thoughts, good
feelings, and do good things, before they are regenerated; and that they
are regenerated in consequence of their good thoughts, good purposes,
and good deeds. "They consider their ways," and turn to God. They cease
to do evil, and learn to do well, and so get washed. They purify their
hearts in obeying the truth. They cleanse their hands and purify their
hearts. They come out from the ungodly, and leave their ungodly ways,
and then God receives them. They hear God's word or read it; and faith
comes by hearing and reading; and faith works by love, and makes them
new creatures.

Besides, you know we could not help what Adam did, and you talked as if
Adam's sin made it impossible for us to do anything else but sin, thus
throwing the blame of the sins of all the unregenerate on Adam; and that
is neither Scriptural nor wise. There are two tendencies in unregenerate
people, one to good, and one to evil, and it is their duty to resist the
one and obey the other, and thus to seek for regeneration. That is as I
understand the Bible. And I always try to make people believe and feel,
that if they do not get regenerated, and keep God's commandments, it is
their own fault, and neither Adam's nor God's.

We talked nearly an hour, but I fancy Mr. W. did not seem to understand
either me or the Bible. It is strange that people can't take God's word
as it stands, and content themselves with speaking as the oracles of God
speak. If we can't do anything but sin till we are regenerated, who is
to blame for our sin, but He who neglects to regenerate us? What
horrible notions are mistaken by some for Gospel? "Send out, O God, thy
light and truth; let them lead me and guide me."

--Poor Mr. Woodhouse is full of trouble. He thinks me wrong, but does
not see how to put me right.

--What a curious creature Mr. Batty is. How in the world did he come to
be a preacher? A stranger, sillier talker I think I never heard. I
cannot say he is childish exactly. Children talk nonsense plenty
sometimes, but no child could talk the kind of nonsense Mr. Batty talks.
Last night his text was, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and
with fire." But he forgot the Holy Ghost, and talked only about fire.
His object seemed to be to prove that fire would _burn_. He mentioned
several fires spoken of in the Bible that _did_ burn, such as the fire
that consumed Sodom and Gomorrah; the fire that formed one of the
plagues of Egypt; &c., but he came at length on the fire in the bush
that Moses saw, and, poor man, he was obliged to acknowledge that that
would not burn. The bush was unconsumed. He got away from that fire as
soon as he could, and found a number of other fires that _did_ burn. By
and by however he came upon the burning fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar.
This would burn _some_ that were thrown into it, but it would not burn
others. Then he talked about the fire of Moscow, and said, that _that_
fire gave as much light to the moon, as the moon gives to the earth, and
he added, that the flames of the burning city made such a blaze, that we
might have seen it in England, if it had not been for the hills. And
this is the talk that sensible people are expected to go and hear.

--Mr. W. preached one of Mr. Melville's sermons last night. It was a
good one though, and I had rather a man preached another man's good
sense, than his own nonsense. And I had rather hear a good sermon read,
than a bad one spoken. Let us have good sound sense, real Christian
doctrine, and fervent Christian love, in the first place, and then as
many other good things as we can get. But do let the children of God
have good wholesome bread, the bread of heaven, and pure living water
from the wells of salvation. Don't try to feed men's souls with chaff or
chopped straw, and don't give them mud or muddy water to drink.

--Heard Mr. Hulme last night on "The Cross of Christ." The sermon was an
attempt at fine preaching. It was not to my taste. The preacher did not
seem to understand his subject. What he said had nothing to do with the
conscience or the heart. It was talk,--tumid talk--high-swelling words,
nothing more.

--Heard Mr. Allen preach on the Flood. He talked a deal about
granite--labored hard to prove something; but whether he succeeded or
not, I cannot exactly tell. It was a "_great_ sermon" and had little
effect. I did not feel much interest in it.

--Heard him preach another great sermon on Isaiah's vision. It amounted
to nothing. I prefer a simpler and more practical kind of preaching.

--Heard him preach another sermon on death by Adam. It was not so great
nor so foolish as the others. The logic was wearisome, but the
application was tolerable.

--Heard Dr. Newton, on preaching Christ. His views on the subject are
very different from Wesley's, and as different from mine. I have heard
many silly sermons on the subject, but not one wise one. Many seem to be
afraid of being sensible on religious subjects. They are wise enough on
smaller matters; it is only on the greatest that their understandings
are at fault. But the silliest preachers repeat good words in their
sermons, such as Christ, God, love and heaven, and these words no doubt
call up good thoughts, and revive good feelings in the minds of people,
so that the most pitiful preachers may be of some use. But how much more
useful would good, sound, sensible and truly Christian preachers be, who
always talked plain Christian truth, and pressed it home in a loving,
Christ-like spirit.

--Heard Mr. Curtis last night. His text and introduction were good; but
the sermon was good for nothing.

--Heard Mr. Pea this afternoon. The chief use of many preachers is to
visit the members, and stand at the head of the societies as centres of
union. They do not do much good by preaching.

--God save me from error and sin. Lead me in the way of truth and
righteousness. I feel a dreadful contempt for some men's preaching. Save
me from going too far. But really, to hear how careful some are to warn
people against thinking too highly of good works, one might suppose that
the world and the Church were going to be sent to perdition for too much
piety and charity; for doing too much good, and making too many
sacrifices for God and the salvation of the world. O fools and blind,
not to see, that selfishness, idleness, luxury, pride, worldliness,
slavery to fashion, neglect of the Bible, ignorance and lukewarmness are
the things which disgrace and weaken the Church, and hinder the
salvation of mankind.

--Mr. Stoner preached powerfully last night. He said all true Christians
would "sigh and cry on account of the abominations that are done in the
land,--that they would accompany their sighing and crying with ceaseless
labors for the removal of those abominations,--that they would try to
bring the world into the Church, and lift up the Church to the standard
exhibited in the life and character of Christ,--that they would pray,
teach, live and give, and if needful, suffer for this great end." I
have not heard such a practical,--such a truly Christian Gospel sermon
for a long time.

--I notice, that in some men's mouths, evangelical sermons mean
theological sermons,--wood, hay, and stubble sermons,--sermons without
any Gospel in them; and that sermons which are evangelical indeed, they
talk of as legal, moral, dry.

--Mr. Lynn preached on the fall of Jericho yesterday. It was quite a
dramatic sermon, and it was plainly interesting to the congregation. I
expect it was useful too. There was not much Christian truth in it, but
it stirred the people's better feelings. It made them feel like doing
something for God. The nonsensical theology introduced would not be
understood I hope.

--Heard Mr. T. Parsons preach a beautiful Christian sermon on "Brethren,
if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a
one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be
tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of
Christ." It was full of useful instruction and needful caution, and it
was uttered in a truly Christian spirit. It did me good.

--Heard Mr. Scott on justification. He ventured to "speak as the oracles
of God." It was a thoroughly Gospel and Wesleyan sermon. He was plainer
than he is in his pamphlets on that subject. I can't say he _made_ the
subject plain, for it was plain already in the Bible--but he _left_ it
plain, and that is saying a great deal. He said that the simple way for
a man who believes in Christ, to obtain pardon and eternal life is, to
do God's will. I distinguish between faith and trust; faith is _belief_;
trust or hope is one of its fruits. People _believe_ in Christ, and turn
to God; then they _trust_ in Christ and find peace. He did not state
this point with sufficient clearness; and that was the only defect I saw
in the discourse. How rich and how apt he is in Scriptural quotations
and illustrations! I had rather hear one of his discourses, than ten of
Mr. Allin's. And I had rather hear ten of his, than one of Mr. Allin's.
I had rather hear one of Mr. Allin's, than ten; and I had rather hear
ten of Mr. Scott's than one. I could listen to Mr. Scott the whole year
round.

--I have just been reading a big book, nearly five hundred pages, on the
way of salvation. The Scriptures explain the way of salvation in less
than a thousandth part the space. "Repent and be converted, that your
sins may be blotted out;" that's the first thing: "Be ye steadfast,
unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord:" that's the second.
These two include the whole way of salvation. "Blessed is everyone that
hears the word of God and keeps it." This is both in one. Mystery makers
would be a proper name for some theologians. "In the multitude of words
there wanteth not sin;" and there's a fearful multitude of words,--idle
words, and mischievous ones too,--in that Book. "When will vain words
have an end?"

--Mr. Hatman preached on instantaneous sanctification last night. He was
very confused, and, as I think, inconsistent in his remarks; and his
arguing about the instantaneousness of sanctification seemed weak.
Sanctification, in Scripture language, means, 1. Separation of things
and persons from common uses, and consecration to sacred uses. 2.
Purification. A man is sanctified in the first sense when he ceases to
do evil, and begins to do well; and he is sanctified in the second sense
in proportion as he is freed from inward defilement, from bad passions,
bad tempers, bad dispositions, bad tendencies, and filled with love to
God, to Christ, to God's people, to mankind at large, and to all things
true and good. There is no mystery about sanctification. People are
sanctified by God's truth. Christ's doctrine enters the mind, and is the
means of changing both the disposition and the life. Men are sanctified
by the Spirit, using the truth as its instrument. They are sanctified by
afflictions, used by God as means to bring them to think on the truth,
and see its meaning, and feel its power. They are sanctified by faith,
which is a belief in the Truth. They are sanctified by their own
efforts, "Cleansing themselves from all filthiness, both of the flesh
and the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord." "For every
one that hath this hope,--the Christian hope of heaven,--in him,
purifieth himself even as God is pure." All this is perfectly plain. But
where does the Scripture say anything about people being wholly
sanctified, or perfected in goodness, instantaneously, by some
particular act of faith? "But God can do it in an instant," said Mr.
Hatman. But it is not all God's work. It is partly ours; and it is
partly the truth's. Can _man_ purify himself as God is pure, in an
instant? God could make a babe into a man in an instant, for anything I
know; but that is not His way. He allows it to grow gradually, first by
the use of milk and exercise, and then by the use of stronger meat, and
greater labors. And according to Scripture, this is His plan of bringing
up spiritual babes to spiritual manhood. God could make seed produce a
crop instantaneously, if He would, I suppose; but His plan is to let the
grain grow and ripen gradually. And it is His plan, according to
Scripture, to let the spiritual grain grow up and the spiritual harvest
ripen gradually. And it is better it should be so. Gradual growth in
knowledge and goodness is most conducive, I believe, to the happiness of
man. I would not make a child into a man all at once if I could. I would
let him have the pleasure and the privilege of passing, in the ordinary
way, through all the intermediate stages. Nor would I alter the
arrangement with regard to spiritual growth. It is best to learn a
lesson at a time. You might raise the dough quicker by gunpowder than by
leaven or yeast; but I prefer to see it raised in the ordinary way. I am
content to grow in grace and knowledge, as people grow in strength and
stature. It is God's plan, and I like it. If anybody can pass from the
gates of hell to the gates of heaven, from the bottom of the horrible
pit to the top of the delectable mountains at a jump, let him; I prefer
to trudge with ordinary pilgrims, and enjoy the pleasures of the
journey, and the beautiful scenery of the road, at my leisure. "The ways
are ways of pleasantness; the paths are paths of peace;" and I enjoy
them. And I would not for the world, make the impression on people's
minds, that they are in danger of perdition, if they cannot skip across
the universe from hell to heaven in no time. God likes spiritual
children as well as spiritual men, though He would not have them to
continue children. Why should preachers make things hard that God makes
easy, and require impossible tasks where God asks only a reasonable
service? Some folks have little minds, and some have crooked ones.
That's my view of the matter. I am charged with rejecting God's truth.
The fact however is, God's truth is the joy and rejoicing of my heart.
It is my pleasant food. But I do not like some people's manglement of
that truth, and I sometimes think the manglers belong to the class
of whom Christ said, "It were good for those men if they had never
been born." They lay stumbling-blocks in men's ways, and cause them
to fall into doubt, perplexity, and misery. I am a believer in
sanctification,--full sanctification,--but I won't go beyond the Bible
in what I say, either on this or any other point. I will go as far as
the Bible, but no farther.

--Christianity is love; and love prompts to diligence in all good works.
To be a Christian is to have the mind of Christ; but the mind of Christ
was a self-sacrificing mind. "He pleased not Himself," but lived and
labored, suffered and died, for the welfare of mankind.

How seldom one hears a sermon on living for the good of others,--on
loving our neighbors as ourselves,--on going about doing good. I have
read sermons on those subjects; but I have not heard one for years. I
have heard _charity_ sermons as they are called, and missionary sermons,
into which a remark or two on doing good were thrown; but a _sermon_ on
the subject I have not heard. Certain preachers talk about preaching
Christ, but they preach any thing rather than Christ.

--I have just been reading a labored and foolish attempt to prove that
Abel was accepted because he offered animals to God, and that Cain was
rejected because he offered the fruits of the ground. There is no end to
the nonsense that can be talked and written on religious subjects. Here
is a man from whom one expected instruction and guidance, wasting his
great powers in worse than idleness. It is a foolish and a dangerous
thing to hang the doctrine of reconciliation or redemption on a slender
hook, when there are strong ones plenty to hang it on. But it is not the
_Christian_ doctrine of redemption for which Mr. W. labors so zealously,
but a theory, a crotchet, an invention of the elders. The doctrine
itself requires no labored proof, no doubtful criticisms, no learned or
unlearned inquiry into Greek and Hebrew etymologies. It lies on the
surface of the sacred page. "The Son of man came not to be ministered
unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." "He died
the just for the unjust, to bring us to God." "He died for all, that
they who live should henceforth live not unto themselves, but unto Him
who died for them and rose again." These theorists make Christianity
disgusting by their metaphysical vanities, and their outlandish jargon.
The idea that it is necessary for me to believe that Abel understood the
Christian doctrine of redemption, is monstrous. There is no proof that
Abel know anything about it. The probabilities lean all the other way.
It is a pity those self-satisfied theorizers have not something else to
do, than to encumber religion and perplex good people by their miserable
speculations.

--There's another book, one thousand two hundred and fifty pages, by a
man that had real talent, and that could preach well when he took in
hand practical subjects, and who had the appearance of a good man, and
nine-tenths of this work of his is mischievous trifling. The clown at a
theatre, the mountebank on the stage, are not so badly employed as
theological triflers, who darken counsel by words without knowledge. It
is not in prayer only, but in preaching and writing, that men should be
in God's fear, and let their words be few.

Mr. Jones preached last night on Christ in you, the hope of glory. I can
understand, 1. How Christ, in the sense of _Christianity_, or the
_doctrine_ of Christ, can be in us. We sometimes hear from people such
expressions as: "He is full of Plato, or full of Seneca, or full of
Shakespeare," when speaking of a man who has got his mind full of the
sentiments of those writers. And I can understand well enough how
Christianity, which brings life and immortality to light, should beget
in men's minds a hope of glory. 2. I can understand how Christ, in the
sense of Christ's _spirit_, _temper_, _disposition_, _mind_, can be in
us. We sometimes say of a person who exhibits much of his father's
disposition, He has got a deal of his father in him. And I can
understand how Christ in us in this sense should be, or should kindle,
the hope of glory. For the mind of Christ is man's fitness for glory.
The mind of Christ, and the life to which it prompts, are the things to
which eternal glory is promised. But I couldn't understand Mr. Jones.
Either he had no ideas on the subject, or he failed to convey them to
me.

--I see no mystery in John's doctrine that God dwells in those in whom
love dwells, for God is love. And I see no mystery in what Peter says
about Christians being partakers of the divine nature; for the Divine
nature is purity, wisdom and love. We share the common human nature and
the common animal nature; that is, we have certain qualities or
properties in common with men generally, and with the inferior orders of
living things. So we share the divine nature, when we have the same
dispositions, affections, qualities as the divine Being. And the
properties of the divine being are purity, knowledge, love.

--I have just been listening to another antinomian sermon. The preacher
contended that we are justified and saved solely on account of what
Christ has done and suffered for us, and that the only thing we have to
do, is to believe this, or trust in the merits of Christ, and be at rest
as to our eternal destiny. But if we are saved _solely_ on account of
what Christ has done and suffered, why talk as if our _believing_ this,
or _trusting in Christ's_ merits, was necessary to salvation? Why not go
a step further and say, that neither believing nor trusting has anything
to do with our salvation? But the whole theory is as anti-scriptural and
false as it is foolish and mischievous. The preacher said, "We are not
under the law,--Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law." Very
true; but we are under the Gospel; and the Gospel requires a more
perfect life than the law required. The law of Christ is much stricter
than the law of Moses. He said, "By the works of the law no flesh living
can be justified." But we may still be justified by the works of the
Gospel. "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." "By thy words shalt thou be
justified, and by thy words shalt thou be condemned." "With what measure
ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." "Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy." "Because thou hast been faithful over a
few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into
the joy of thy Lord." "Repent and be converted, that your sins may be
blotted out." "We have confidence in the day of judgment, because as He
was so are we in this world."

He said circumcision availeth nothing; and it is true that "the
circumcision which is outward in the flesh" avails nothing under the
Christian dispensation: but that which is inward, namely, the putting
away of all filthiness, and living a holy life, availeth much.

Then followed a lot of unscriptural and unwise talk about our own
righteousness and Christ's righteousness. But the truth is, when we love
God and keep His commandments,--when we love Christ and do as He bids
us, and believe, in consequence, that we are approved of God, and in a
fair way for heaven, we trust in _God's_ righteousness, or _Christ's_
righteousness, and not in a righteousness of our own. The righteousness
of God means the righteousness which God _requires_; the righteousness
of _Christ_ means obedience to His precepts, and conformity to His mind
and character. True, if I obey the Gospel, my obedience is my own, but
the _law_, or the righteousness _prescribed_, is Christ's. It is when
men make a law of their own,--when they set aside God's law, and put
some other law in its place, and expect God's blessing in consequence of
obeying that, that they trust in their _own_ righteousness. And in all
such cases men's own righteousness, in God's sight, is "as filthy rags."
But hearty, loving obedience to God's _own_ law is never regarded by Him
"as filthy rags," but as a rich adorning. Real Christian goodness is, in
the sight of God, "of great price."

     "Than gold or pearls more precious far,
     And brighter than the morning star."

Christian obedience is a sacrifice with which God is well pleased: "To
do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is
well pleased." He alone trusts in the righteousness of Christ who hears
Christ's words and does them,--who cultivates Christ's mind, and lives
as Christ lived, and who, in doing so, expects, according to Christ's
promise, God's blessing and eternal life. The idea that God looks on any
persons as having lived like Christ when they have not done so; or that
He supposes any persons to be righteous, or treats them as righteous,
when they are not so, is foolish and anti-scriptural in the extreme. And
it is unmethodistical too. Yet here is a Methodist preacher so-called,
dealing out this mischievous and miserable folly. And alas he is not
alone. And these are the men who abuse others as heretics.

--The good done where preachers preach theology is not done by the
preaching, I fancy, but by stray truth from the Gospels, and by the
Christian lives and Christian labors of simple-minded, Bible-loving,
non-theological members of the church. God bless them!

--Wesley has thirty definitions of religion, and they all mean, in
substance, loving God and loving man, and living to do good. Wesley was
always sensible in proportion as he got away from under the influence of
the prevailing Theology.

--Some talk as if a religious education can never be the means of a
child's conversion,--that, do for your children what you will, they will
still, like others, require a distinct and full conversion when they
come of age. I cannot see why a good Christian mother talking to her
child from her old arm-chair, and praying with it as it kneels by her
side, or the good example and godly training of a pious father, may not
be made as effectual to the gradual conversion of a child as the
preaching of a pastor from the pulpit. Nor can I see why a gradual
elevation of a child to the higher spiritual life should not be as
possible and as probable as the sudden elevation of a hardened and
inveterate sinner. 'You cannot give your children grace,' it is said:
but it is easy to answer, 'GOD can give children grace through
the medium of Christian parents, as well as through public preachers and
teachers.' I encourage people to bring up their children in Christian
knowledge and goodness, by telling them that God may be expected to
bless their labors to the sanctification and salvation of their children
from their early days. Baxter used to thank God that he was led by his
good parents to love God so early that he could not recollect a time
when he did not love Him.

--Churches exist in this world to remind us of the eternal laws which we
are bound to obey. So far as they do this, they answer their end, and
are honored in doing so. It would have been better for all of us--it
would be better for us now, could churches keep this their peculiar
function steadily and singly before them. Unfortunately, they have
preferred in later times the speculative side of things to the
practical.

--There is a tendency in men to corrupt religion; to change it from an
aid and incentive to a holy life, into a contrivance to enable men to
sin without fear of punishment. Obedience to God's law is dispensed
with, if men will diligently profess certain opinions, or practically
take part in certain rites. However scandalous the moral life, the
profession of a particular belief, or attention to certain forms, at the
moment of death, is held to clear the soul.

--It would be easy to give a hundred instances of doctrines to be heard
in sermons and found in religious books, which are nowhere taught in
Scripture. And some of them exert a mighty influence for evil on the
church and the world. They check the spread of Christianity. They
strengthen the cause of infidelity. They keep people away from Christ.
They make an all but impassable gulf between the church and the mass of
humanity.

--Some think they would not have enough to talk about if they were to
give up all the doctrines or notions for which I say there is no
scriptural authority. One preacher told me I had already spoiled some of
his best sermons. He said he had never been able to preach them with
comfort since he began to listen to my conversation. The truth is,
preachers will never know what great, good things there are to be talked
about, till they get rid of their foolish fancies. Nor will they know
the true pleasure of talking till they come to feel that their
utterances are the words of eternal truth. And so far will they be from
not having enough to talk about, that if they give themselves in a
Christian spirit, to study the truth as it is in Jesus, they will never
have time to utter a tenth of the blessed things that will present
themselves to their minds.

A hundred years would not afford me time enough to say all that I get
glimpses of on religious subjects as presented in nature and in the
Scriptures. Every subject I take in hand requires ten times more time to
do it justice than is generally allowed for a sermon. And the subjects
are numberless. We live in an infinite universe of truth.

"I rejoice," says one, "that I have been led, in the course of God's
providence, to do so much as I have done, towards purging revelation
from those doctrines and practices which were discordant with its
teachings, and prevented its reception with many."

Shall I ever be able to do anything in this way? God help me. If I could
make the Church and the ministry more Christ-like, and more powerful for
good, what a blessing it would be. What a world of work wants doing,
both in the church and in the world. Save me from an impatient,
pugnacious, disagreeable spirit. Perhaps I see the needs of others more
than I feel my own. Perhaps I am in danger of being more eager for
reform in others, than for a thoroughly Christian spirit and behavior in
myself.

How many words and phrases one hears in sermons and in prayers, and what
heaps of expressions one meets with in religious works, that are not
warranted by Scripture or common sense!

--Some of the words and phrases that are more frequently used by
Christians than any other, are unscriptural ones. Some of them express
unscriptural ideas. Some of them are names of things that have no
existence. Both the words and the ideas for which they stand are
anti-christian. Many of the things said from the pulpit are
unintelligible. The people strain their minds to get at a meaning, but
to no purpose. It is Latin or Greek to them. They listen, but do not
learn. They hear sounds, but catch no sense. They reverence, they
worship, but they do not understand. They believe, they feel, that there
are great spiritual realities, but they are not made clear to their
minds. The devouter portion of the people still pray, and on the whole,
live sober, righteous and godly lives; but multitudes are discouraged,
and take themselves away.

     "The hungry sheep look up and are not fed."

They hear words, but get no ideas. Religion does not come to them from
the pulpit as a reality. It does not make itself felt as truth. Books
and lecturers on science treat of realities, and treat of them in words
that can be understood; but many books on religion, and many preachers,
seem to deal only in words. And the consequence is, many fancy religion
is a delusion, a fanaticism, a dream. Others believe there is something
in it, but they cannot conceive what it is. Yet teachers and preachers
appear not properly to understand why so many get weary of sermons and
religious books. Let them talk in plain good English, and say nothing
but what has some great Christian reality under it, and sermons and
religious books will be the most popular things on earth.

--I would never sacrifice Christian truth to conciliate the world; but I
would sacrifice everything at variance with Christian truth; and I would
present Christian truth itself in as intelligible and taking a form as
possible.

--The antinomian theology has had a terribly corrupting effect on many
members of churches. I meet proofs of it every day. God help me to do my
duty. Some of my hearers say to me, 'We come to church to be comforted,
and not to be continually told to do, do, do.' I do not wish people to
be comforted unless they will do their duty; and they will never _lack_
comfort if they _do_ do it. Comfort is for those who labor to comfort
and benefit others, and not for those who care only for themselves. I
try to make the easy-going, indolent and selfish professors miserable:
and in some cases I succeed. But I make others happy, thank God, by
inducing them to give themselves heartily to Christian work.

--Here are a few more good words from Baxter: 'Many proclaim the praise
of truth in general, but reject and persecute its various portions. The
_name_ of truth they honor, but the truth itself they despise.'

'Passion is a great seducer of the understanding, and strangely blindeth
and perverteth the judgment.'

'When passion hath done boiling and the heart is cooled, and leaveth the
judgment to do its work without clamor and disturbance, it is strange to
see how things will appear to you to be quite of another tendency than
in your frenzy you esteemed them.'

'Be more studious to hold and improve those common truths which all
profess, than to oppose the particular opinions of any, except so far as
those common truths require you to do so.'

'Be not borne down by the censoriousness of any, to outrun your own
understanding and the truth, and to comply with them in their errors and
extremes; but hold to the truth and keep your station. 'Let them return
unto thee, but return not thou unto them.' Jer. xv. 19.'

'Believe nothing that contradicteth the end of all religion. If its
tendency be against a holy life, it cannot be truth.'

'Plead not the darker texts of Scripture against those that are more
plain and clear, nor a few texts against many that are as plain. That
passage that is interpreted against the most plain and frequent
expressions of the Scriptures is certainly misinterpreted.'

I will carry out these principles to the best of my ability.

--I notice that Christ never tells people that they cannot repent and do
God's will without divine help. He did not think it necessary to supply
people with excuses for their neglect of duty. And He knew that divine
help is never withheld from any man. All _have_ the help needed to do
what God requires. There is no danger of any man trying to do anything
good before he receives power from God. God is always beforehand with
men.

--I have had a troubled night. I have not slept soundly for a week. I
have had odd hours of sleep, but never a quarter of a night's unbroken
rest. Parties will talk with me about religion, and I am foolish enough
to talk with them, yet we never quite agree. They insist on the
sacredness of every old notion and of every old word they have received
from their teachers, and I believe in the sacredness of nothing but
Scripture truth and common sense. They cannot understand me, and I
cannot accept their nonsense. And they have no idea of liberty or
toleration. They allow no excuse for not being sound in the faith, and
no one is sound in the faith according to their notions but those who
agree with them. They know nothing of the foundation on which the
Connexion was built. They know nothing of Wesley: nothing, at least, of
his liberal views. The fundamental principles of the Connexion justify
me in my freedom of investigation, and in the sentiments which I hold
and teach; but they do not know this. They know nothing but that every
one is to think as they think, and talk as they talk. Hence they keep me
on the rack.

I am tired. I feel sad. I could weep. I feel as if I could like to run
away, like Elijah, and hide myself in the wilds of some great mountain.
But no; I must stand my ground, and do my duty. Shall truth be timid,
and error bold? Shall folly rage and be confident, and wisdom be afraid
to whisper? Help me, O God, to do my duty as Thy servant, and as the
minister of Thy Gospel.

--There are some verses of hymns that are sung in almost all religious
assemblies that have nothing answering to them in Scripture. John Wesley
once said, that the hymns which were the greatest favorites among the
Methodists were the worst in the whole Hymn Book. It is the same still I
fear, to some extent. Let those who would like to know to what words and
hymns we refer, take themselves to task for a time, and demand
Scriptural authority for every word and expression they utter. We would
save them the trouble, were it not that we have learned that instruction
from others is of no use to people who do not endeavor to teach
themselves.

But take a sample or two. I cannot sing the following:

     "Forbid it Lord that I should boast
       Save in the death of Christ my God."

     "The immortal God hath died for me," &c.

Jesus died, and God dwelt in Jesus, but God did not die. Great
allowances are made to poets; but they should not be encouraged to write
impossibilities.

     "A heart that always feels Thy blood," &c.

I feel thankful for the love which led Jesus to die for me; but I cannot
say I feel the blood. I feel the happy effects of the death or
blood-shedding of Jesus; and perhaps that is what the poet means.

     "When from the dust of death I rise,
     To claim my mansion in the skies,
     Even then this shall be all my plea,
     Jesus hath lived and died for me."

This is not scriptural. The good servant in the parable of the talents
says: "Lord, Thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have
gained besides them five talents more." And so far was his Lord from
finding fault with his plea, that he answered, "Well done, good and
faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make
thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." And
why may not other faithful servants use the same plea?

John makes perfect love, or likeness to Jesus, the ground of confidence
or boldness in the day of judgment. How strange that Christian writers
should be so ignorant of the Bible, or so regardless of its teachings.
Some of them seem to think they are saying very fine things when they
are talking their anti-Christian nonsense. Help me, O God, to speak and
act in accordance with Thy word.

Fine writing may be a fine thing, but true writing is a finer.

I suppose it is as hard for theologians to give up their anti-Christian
words and notions as it is for drunkards to give up their drink. But it
would be well for them to consider, that self-denial may be as necessary
to _their_ salvation, as it is to the salvation of infidels and
profligates.

I would sacrifice a little poetry to truth. I would not be very
particular, but do let us have substantial truth. Do not let us encumber
and disfigure religion by absurdities, impossibilities, and antinomian
abominations.

Some one has said, "The world is very jealous of those who assail its
religious ignorance. Its old mistakes are great idols. No man has ever
carried a people one march nearer the promised land without being in
danger of being stoned. No man has ever purified the life of an age,
without substantially laying down his own."

I am anxious only for truth and righteousness. Truth and righteousness I
respect in all sects, from the Quakers to the Catholics; and I hate
nonsense, and lies, and sin, in professing Christians, as much as in
Turks and pagans.

So end the extracts from my Diary.

I have just been reading an article in the _Christian Advocate_, and I
can't resist the temptation to give a short extract or two.

"Not only is there an emasculated theology, but there is not a little
emasculated preaching.

"Nothing is emptier or feebler than cant--ringing the changes on what
may be called the stock phrases of one's sect. John Wesley once said,
'Let but a pert, self-sufficient animal, that has neither sense nor
grace, bawl out something about 'Christ,' or 'His blood,' or
'justification by faith,' and there are not wanting those who will cry
out, 'What a fine Gospel sermon!' For myself, I prefer a sermon on
either good tempers or good works to such 'Gospel sermons.'

"Take away from certain preachers their 'heavenly tone,' as the old lady
called it--their sing-song cadences, and their favorite pulpit
phrases--and you take away the principal part of their stock in trade.
Out upon such 'words without knowledge'--sound without sense!

"Quite as destitute of Gospel power is that preaching which consists
largely in the presentation of old worn-out theories, musty scholastic
philosophies about religion, usually paraded under the pretentious title
of 'doctrine.'

"The devil, it is said, once inspired a dead priest to preach an
orthodox sermon. On being questioned by his imps why he ventured on such
a deliverance, he replied very significantly, that nothing made infidels
more effectually than orthodoxy preached by dead men's lips."



CHAPTER X.

THE REFORMING TENDENCY.


I had a third tendency which helped to get me into trouble; namely, a
reforming tendency. Earnest and active-minded young men are generally
reformers. In me the reforming tendency was unusually strong. I wanted
to reform everybody and everything, and to do it thoroughly, and without
delay. And I commenced operations very early.

1. It was the custom of my class-leader to read over to his class once a
quarter the rules of society, and to request the members, if they were
aware of any breach of any of the rules by any of the members, to name
the matter as he proceeded. Now one of the rules forbade the putting on
of gold or costly apparel; yet several of the members of our class put
on both. So when he came to that rule, I asked why it was not enforced.
The leader seemed confused. One of the offenders was the wife of one of
the travelling preachers, and another was the wife of an influential
layman, and both were customers at his store, and he had never
entertained a thought, I imagine, of running the risk of offending them
by rebuking them for their offences; so he muttered something in the way
of excuse and then passed on. The truth was, that the rule, though
copied from the New Testament, and regarded by Mr. Wesley as of great
importance, was no longer considered binding either by the preachers or
the leading members. The reading of the rules in the class was merely a
form, and my remarks, instead of inducing my offending class-mates to
return to the old Methodist custom, only caused them and those who sided
with them, to look on me as a troubler of Israel.

2. I got myself into a little trouble on a later occasion at a local
preachers' meeting. It was the custom at those meetings for the
superintendent preacher to read over the names of the local preachers,
and to request any brother who knew of any breach of rule by any of his
brethren, to name the matter. When the name of Mr. H. was read over, I
stated that he had been guilty of evil speaking against one of his
brethren. I gave the particulars, and the offence was acknowledged, but
the offending brother was not without excuse, and the business of the
meeting proceeded. But there was a very strong feeling in the minds of
many that such attempts as I was making to press neglected rules on the
attention of the meeting, ought not to be encouraged; and my endeavors
to enforce consistency brought down upon me many sharp rebukes.

3. Among the books that I read in those early days was _Mason on
Self-knowledge_. I found some excellent remarks on temperance and
frugality in this work. I met with some similar remarks in translating
portions of the writings of Seneca and Cicero. In a conversation that I
had with one of the travelling preachers, and a person that was
supplying the place of another travelling preacher, I quoted the
beautiful sentiments which I had been reading and translating, and added
some remarks of my own, with a view to recommend attention to the
lessons they inculcated. The travelling preacher remained silent, but
his companion answered me with a scornful laugh, and said, there was no
need to urge such matters on them, for they had not the _means_ to be
anything else but frugal and temperate. This was neither true nor
courteous, and though I made no answer, it left an impression on my mind
by no means favorable to the wisdom and piety of those who, at that
time, were placed over me as my teachers and guides.

4. Though I met with such poor encouragement in my early efforts to
reform or check abuses among my brethren, I still persisted in my
course, even after I became a travelling preacher. It was the custom of
the richer members of society to have large parties, to which they
invited each other and the preachers and their families. At many of
these parties there was a good deal of drinking, and a serious waste of
money on many things that were not only useless but injurious. And each
family tried to outdo the rest in the costliness of their parties. I
regarded this custom as anti-Christian, and tried to get it changed for
something better. I thought the money wasted on drink and hurtful
luxuries would be better spent in doing good. In some cases I referred
to the words of Christ about making feasts, recorded in Luke xiv. 12-14;
but no one seemed to think Christ's rule to be binding on professing
Christians now. Even my brother ministers thought me needlessly
particular, and helped to render my efforts for reform both
unsuccessful, and productive of disagreeable results.

5. The custom of treating the rich who came to our chapels with more
respect than the poor, was as prevalent probably when I became a
minister, as it was in the days of James. I often saw the officials of
the church conducting gaily-dressed people to comfortable pews, while
they left such as were poorly clad to stand in the aisles, or to find
their way into seats themselves; and on some occasions I showed my
dissatisfaction with such proceedings.

6. It was customary to have society meetings in each place once a
quarter, and at these meetings I used to refer to what I thought amiss
in the conduct of professors, and to urge attention to such lessons of
Christ and His Apostles as seemed to be generally overlooked or
forgotten. On some occasions too on week nights, instead of preaching a
regular sermon, I used to give a kind of lecture or exhortation, in
which I presented a summary of neglected duties, and read over the
passages of Scripture in which they were enjoined, making remarks on
them. There were many matters pertaining to marriage, to the education
and government of children, and to domestic duties generally; and there
were matters pertaining to trade, to social intercourse, to mental
improvement, and the like, on which preachers, as a rule, were entirely
silent in their sermons, from the beginning of the year to the end. Yet
many of these matters were of the utmost importance, and for want of
information on them many religious people were neither so happy
themselves, nor so useful to others, as they ought to be. On these
matters I spoke in as plain and faithful a way as possible. I cautioned
the young against wasting their time, advised them to spend their
leisure hours in reading and writing, told them what books to read, and
how to read them, showed them the most profitable plan of reading the
Bible, warned them against bad company, and advised them not to spend
too much time even in good company. I urged them, if they thought of
being preachers, to endeavor to be preachers of the highest order,
workmen that needed not to be ashamed, rightly distributing the word of
truth. And whether they thought of being preachers or not, I urged them
to improve their talents, and to become as wise, as able and as useful
as possible. Many were delighted, and reduced my lessons to practice.
Others however took offence, and repaid my endeavors to do them good
with uncharitable censures.

7. It was the custom in the Body to which I belonged to keep the doors
of the annual conference closed against all but those who were sent as
delegates by the circuits. I and a few others thought this course led to
inconsiderate, and, in some cases, to unjust and oppressive measures,
and in 1835 I wrote a letter on the subject to the _Christian Advocate_.
My remarks were not agreeable to the leading members of conference, and
I was instantly called to account and severely censured, and threatened
with the heaviest punishment if ever I offended so grievously again. The
reason why my letter proved so offensive was probably its truthfulness,
for the change I recommended was afterwards adopted, though not till the
old objectionable system had produced most disastrous consequences.

8. One rule of the Connexion to which I belonged forbade the preachers
to marry till after they had been engaged in the ministry from four to
five years or upwards. This regulation seemed to me to be the cause of
serious evils. Some of these evils I had myself experienced, and others
I had seen in the conduct and mishaps of many of my brethren. The reason
assigned for the law seemed to me to be not only insufficient, but to be
a disgrace to a body of Christians situated as _we_ were. I urged an
alteration or a repeal of the law, recommending conference to take out
the best and ablest men as ministers, whether they were married or not,
and to allow such ministers as were single to marry whenever they
thought fit, and to urge the churches to provide for the additional
expense of married preachers by a little additional liberality. There
were members that wasted as much on one foolish and mischievous party,
as would have made up the difference between a single man's salary and a
married man's salary. There were members that spent as much in
intoxicating drinks as would have kept a married preacher or two out and
out. There were tradesmen that could have supported five or six
preachers out of their yearly profits, if they had been as liberal as
the old selfish Jews were required to be. If they had been as liberal as
_Christians_ are required to be,--if they had loved their neighbors, or
Jesus, or God, as they loved themselves, they could have supported
twenty preachers, and still retained enough to keep their families in
comfort and plenty, and to carry on and extend their businesses too. To
shut good men out of the ministry because they were married, and take in
doubtful men because they were single, was, in my view, disgraceful and
inexcusable. But in this also I was considered wrong by the rulers of
the Connexion, and was once more censured and admonished for what was
considered my presumptuous interference.

9. Fifty years ago, and for some years after, almost everybody used to
drink intoxicating drinks. Ale and beer, wine and spirits, were as
freely used as tea and coffee, and were taken in great quantities by
many even in the church and ministry. I remember once, while yet a local
preacher, going round with Mr. Etchells, a new minister in my native
town, on his first pastoral visits, to show him where the principal
members of the church lived. He was invited to drink at every house, and
never failed to comply with the invitations. I saw him drink sixteen
glasses of beer, wine and spirits, on that one round, occupying only two
or three hours. This same minister prosecuted Mr. Farrar, his
superintendent, for drunkenness, and got him suspended. Whether his
superintendent drank more than he or not, I do not know, but he did not
keep up appearances so well. He showed himself drunk in the pulpit,--so
drunk, on one or two occasions, that he was unable to speak plainly, or
even to stand steadily. He also fell down in the streets sometimes, and
had to be carried home. His colleague did not commit himself in such
ways, though he drank enough at times in one day to make half a dozen
sober people drunk.

The leading member in the Methodist church, Richard Wilson, opened the
first wine and spirit store at Bramley, and corrupted the whole country
round with his wares, doing far more for the devil and sin than the
preachers could do for God and holiness. Yet no one seemed to think
there was anything dishonorable or diabolical in the business.

At a social party to which I was invited at Leeds, consisting of
preachers and leading members of the church, one man, a preacher, got so
drunk, that he became a most distressing spectacle. I cannot describe
his mishaps. There were others who ought to have committed themselves in
the same sad way, for they drank as much, and even more, but they had
stronger constitutions, or were better seasoned.

At Liverpool, my first station, every one on whom the preachers called
in their pastoral rounds, asked them to drink. Even Dr. Raffles, the
popular Congregational minister, had wine and cakes brought out, when I
and my superintendent called on him one morning. Wine and cakes, or
cakes and spirits, were placed on the table by all who were not too poor
to buy such things, and even the poorer members contrived to supply
themselves with rum or whisky. And all expected the preachers to drink.
And the preachers did drink. Mr. Allin, my superintendent, was not by
far the greatest drinker in the Connexion, yet he seldom allowed the
poison placed before him to remain untasted. I was so organized, that I
never could drink a full glass of either wine or ale without feeling
more or less intoxicated, and for spirits I had quite a distaste; so
that I was obliged to take intoxicating drinks very sparingly. Yet I
conformed, to some extent, to the prevailing custom; and it was not, I
fear, through any great goodness of my own, that I did not become a
drunkard. Several of my fellow-ministers became drunkards. Mr. Allin
himself, after he fell under the influence of that bad rich man at
Sheffield became a drunkard, and brought on shocks of paralysis by his
excesses. My superintendent at Sheffield drank himself into _delirium
tremens_, and I fear he never got over his bad habits. Mr. Chapman was a
notorious sot. I knew him personally, and was compelled, at times, to
witness his disgusting habits. Yet he was never expelled, though he was
superannuated some forty years or more before his death. His
superannuation reduced his income some seventy-five per cent., and made
it impossible for him to drink so freely as he had been wont, and so,
very probably, helped to prolong his miserable life.

While stationed at Liverpool, I was called away to supply the place of
the superintendent preacher in the Chester circuit for a few weeks, who
had died very suddenly, under very peculiar circumstances. His name was
Dunkerley. I was told by persons likely to know the truth, that he was a
very drunken man. On one occasion, while he was over at Liverpool, he
fell down in the Theatre Square, and had to be taken up and carried into
a neighboring shop. At first it was supposed he had had a fit; but a
little further attention to the case revealed the secret that he was
drunk. On another occasion, on his return from Liverpool to Chester, he
was observed, when he got off the coach, to stagger backwards and fall
down. Some friends that were waiting for his arrival, ran and helped him
up, and took him to a member's house just by. He was found to be drunk
then also. The members spoke to him on the subject, and reproved him
sharply, and then put him to bed. The Tuesday night following, the
matter was mentioned at the leaders' meeting, when he was present. The
leaders told him that such conduct could not be tolerated, and that
unless a change took place for the better, the matter would have to be
laid before the Quarterly Meeting. The preacher acknowledged his fault,
and promised, if they would forgive him that once, that he would do so
no more. I believe that from that time he gave up the use of
intoxicating drinks for a week or two; but shortly after, having to go
to the Welsh side of the Circuit, he began to use them again. At one of
the places on that side of the Circuit, the leaders were accustomed to
have their meetings in a room in a public-house, near the Chapel, and to
lodge the preacher there. Perhaps poor Dunkerley thought it would hardly
look right for him to be accommodated at a public-house with a bed, and
yet take nothing to drink; so he got some gin. The relish for the gin
must have returned upon him with great power when he began to taste it,
for he drank very freely. He drank so much, that the publican himself
began to feel alarmed for him. A short time after he had gone up stairs
to bed, the people of the house heard a noise of an unusual character in
his room, and on going to see what was the matter, they found the
preacher on his knees, in an apoplectic fit, the blood gushing from his
nose and ears. He died the same evening. He died drunk.

It was this man's place that I went to supply. I do not wonder now that
Dunkerley and several other preachers in the New Connexion were
drunkards, when I take into consideration the customs and habits of the
people of the Connexion in those days. I never met with anything in any
society, that I recollect, more at variance with the principles of
Christian temperance, and more likely to lead both preachers and people
into drunkenness and profligacy, than the habits and customs of many of
the members of the New Connexion in the Chester circuit. In the first
place they were all users of intoxicating drinks, and all those that
were in tolerable circumstances regularly kept spirits as well as
milder, weaker kinds of intoxicating drinks in their houses. In the next
place a preacher could never call at the houses of those people,
whatever the time of day, without being urged to drink of either the
stronger or weaker kinds of intoxicating drinks. And he could hardly
refuse to drink without seeming to slight the kindness of the people,
and running the risk of giving offence. In the third place they were
very much addicted to extravagant social parties, pleasure jaunts, &c.
They were worse than the people of Leeds in this respect; unless they
were worse than usual while I was there. All the time that I was in
Chester, there was not a single week or day when they had not either
some dinner-party or tea-party, or both, or else some pleasure jaunt on
the water or on land. And those pleasure parties and feasts were always
occasions of extravagant eating and drinking. Besides abundance of flesh
and game, and other luxuries, there was always an overwhelming supply of
intoxicating drinks, and great quantities were consumed. I have seen men
on those occasions drink five, six, eight, or even ten glasses of wine
or spirits, besides drinking ale, or porter, or wine at meals. I
recollect very distinctly seeing a person, and that a preacher, drink,
in addition to what he consumed over his meal, ten glasses of Port wine
between dinner and tea, after which he went to preach.

Religious society was not quite so corrupt in the principal towns of the
Hanley circuit, where I was next stationed, as at Liverpool and Chester,
yet there was a fearful amount of respectable intemperance there. There
was no end to the feasting. And as I, though so young, was very popular,
I was always expected to be present. The luxuries in which I indulged
brought on indigestion. Indigestion, and close study, and hard work in
the pulpit, brought on a most wearisome languor and depression. To help
me, one rich friend sent me a bottle of Sherry wine. Another sent me
Elderberry wine. These made me worse. It was well this mistaken kindness
did not ruin me. But I was preserved, thank God, both from death and
drunkenness.

For two years more I was in the midst of these awful temptations to
intemperance, and a witness to their deadly effects on several of my
brethren. I felt that I was in danger. And I saw that the church was
suffering. I looked round for a remedy.

Just then there came rumors of a temperance society, and of attempts at
a temperance reformation. One of our young preachers had joined this
new society, and had labelled his whisky and brandy _medicine_. He left
his beer, and porter, and wine, unlabelled, and drank them as freely as
before. The people who told me of this, ridiculed the man, and ridiculed
the movement for temperance reform. I was rather pleased with the news,
though news of a more thorough movement might have pleased me better.
But the beginnings of things are small. The movement soon became radical
enough, and I kept pace with it.

In 1832 I gave up the use of ardent spirits, and became a member of the
old-fashioned temperance society. In 1833 I gave up the use of
intoxicating drinks of all kinds, and joined the teetotal society. In
1834 I gave up the use of tobacco. A few months later I gave up tea and
coffee, and took water as my usual drink.

These changes in my way of life gave great offence to many in the church
to which I belonged, and led them to speak of me, and act towards me, in
a way that was anything but kind and agreeable. This was especially the
case with regard to my disuse of intoxicating drinks, and my advocacy of
teetotalism. I might have been borne with perhaps if I had become a
drunkard; for drunkards were in some cases tolerated; but a teetotaler
was not to be endured. Some called me a fool, and some a madman, and one
man pronounced me no better than a suicide and a murderer. "You will be
dead," said he, "in twelve months, if you persist in your miserable
course, and what will become of your wife and children? And what account
can you give of the people you are leading to untimely death by your
example?" One person at Chester, at whose house I had visited some years
before, when supplying the place of the deceased minister, would neither
invite me to his house, nor speak to me in the street, except in the way
of insult, now that I had become a teetotaler. He said no one should
ever sit at his table who would not take a glass of wine. And I never
did sit at his table after. He invited my colleagues, and he invited the
old superannuated minister, whose character I cannot describe, but he
never invited me.

One object that I had in view in adopting my abstemious way of life was
to save a little money to buy books. I had become an author too, and
had thoughts of publishing a number of works, and I wanted to be able to
do so without having to go into debt. Then I wanted to do good in other
ways. I liked to be able to give a little to the distressed and needy
that I was called upon to visit. And I liked to subscribe occasionally
to funds for the erection of new schools and chapels in circuits where I
was stationed. Among my reasons for becoming a teetotaler was a desire
to induce others to do so, who seemed to me to be likely, if they
continued to use intoxicating drinks, to become drunkards. Then I had
seen the terrible effects of the drinking system, both in the Church and
among my relations. And I was anxious for the success of every kind of
measure that seemed likely to promote the reformation and salvation of
mankind.

10. I had not been a teetotaler long before I became anxious to see my
brethren in the ministry teetotalers. I wrote a letter to the
_Temperance Advocate_, giving an account of the experiment I had made,
and stating the happy results by which it had been followed, and urging
others, by all the considerations that had influenced my own mind, to
adopt and advocate the teetotal principle. Mr. Livesey sent a copy of
the _Advocate_ containing my letter to all the ministers of the Body to
which I belonged. There were but few of them however who seemed to be
able to enter into my views and feelings, or to understand and
appreciate the motives by which I was actuated. The generality looked on
the course I had taken as a proof of a restless and ill-regulated mind,
and instead of following my example, treated me and my teetotalism with
ridicule. Some were angry, and scolded me in right good earnest. They
supposed that it was _I_ that had sent them the Paper containing my
letter, and seemed to think themselves called upon to resent my
interference with their tastes and habits in a very decided manner.
Several of them sent me very offensive letters, and one of them
concluded a long outpouring of abuse and insolence with some very
cutting but just remarks on my inconsistency in pressing abstinence from
intoxicating drinks so earnestly on others, while I myself was guilty of
the unreasonable and offensive practice of smoking tobacco.

I had long had misgivings as to the propriety of smoking, and when I
read this cutting rebuke, I resolved to smoke no more. I said to my
wife, "They shall not be able to charge me with inconsistency again on
that score," and I there and then broke my pipe on the grate, and
emptied my tobacco cup into the fire, and I have never annoyed others,
or defiled myself, with the abomination of tobacco smoke or tobacco
spittle from that day to this. My angry correspondent had done me an
important service.

11. I met with some of the bitterest and most persistent enemies of
teetotalism in the circuit in which I was then travelling. There were
several members of society, class-leaders, and local preachers, in and
around Chester, who were slaves to intoxicating drinks. Some of them
were habitual drunkards, and others of them were not much better; and
they treated all who would not countenance their excesses as personal
enemies. Many of them were accustomed to go to public houses, and sit
there drinking and smoking for hours together, like ordinary drunkards.
This horrible habit they gave up shortly after my appointment to the
circuit, but several of them raged against me with tremendous fury, and
would have done anything to destroy my influence. At first they were
kept in check to some extent by the wisdom and goodness of my
superintendent, who, though he did not become a teetotaler himself,
showed great respect for those who did. When he left Chester, a man of a
very different character came in his place, who sided with the drinkers,
and took a savage delight in annoying the teetotalers, and exulted as if
he had achieved some wonder of benevolence and piety when he had induced
some poor reformed drunkard to break his pledge, though he plunged again
into the horrors of intemperance. I called one forenoon on Mr. Downs. He
was frantic, and his wife was wild with anxiety and terror. She seemed
as if she had been awake and weeping all the night. I soon saw the cause
of the dreadful spectacle. Downs had been a drunkard, but had, under my
influence, become a teetotaler, and joined the church. His wife had been
a member of the church for some years. She was overjoyed with the
reformation and conversion of her husband, and was promising for herself
and her husband, for the future, a very happy life. My superintendent
had got poor Downs into his company, and by reasoning, ridicule, and
coaxing, had induced him to take a glass of ale. His horrible appetite
for intoxicating drink returned with irresistible force, and he drank
himself drunk. He went home in a very deplorable condition. His wife,
distressed beyond measure, got him to bed, and he fell asleep, and she,
poor woman, sat watching him, and weeping, hoping he might wake to
lament his error and become again a sober man. He awoke in a fury, and
attempted to destroy himself. He was mad with shame and horror, and
declared he could not and would not live. When I entered, his wife had
been watching him and struggling with him for several hours, to keep him
from suicide. I just got in in time to save the man, and relieve his
exhausted wife, and I was enabled to reconcile the man to live a little
longer, and try teetotalism again. My misguided superintendent never
attempted to reason with me, but when he thought he had a chance of
punishing me for my teetotalism, he snatched at the apparent opportunity
with the greatest eagerness.

One week night, when appointed to preach in Chester Chapel, I gave the
people a sermon on temperance. Some days after, I was summoned to a
meeting of officials, to give an account of my doings. I attended. My
superintendent, the bitter enemy of teetotalism, was in the chair, and
on each side of him sat a number of men of similar feelings, and of
grosser habits. I was told there was a complaint against me, to the
effect that the last time I was at Chester I had preached teetotalism
instead of the Gospel. I said, "Is that all?" And they answered "Yes."
"Then you ought to be ashamed of yourselves," I said, and left the
meeting. What they did after my departure I was never told.

One man in that neighborhood circulated a report that I had asked my
mother-in-law, who had been staying some time at our house, to have a
glass of brandy and water, when she was leaving for home in the coach.
This slander was refuted by a deputation, who at once visited my
mother-in-law, and brought back from her a flat contradiction of the
statement.

I ought to say, that while I was in this circuit, hundreds of drunkards
were reformed, many of whom became happy, exemplary, and useful members
of the Church. I was the means of tens of thousands becoming teetotalers
in the country round about, and the happy effects of my labors in those
regions remain, to some extent, to the present day.

12. In 1837, while I was stationed in the Mossley Circuit, I began a
weekly periodical called the _Evangelical Reformer_. I had long wished
for a suitable means of laying my views before my friends, but had found
none. The editor of the magazine published by the Body to which I
belonged was a very disagreeable man, and to me he was more
unaccommodating and offensive than to others. He would have published
articles under my name, but not till he had altered them, and made them
conformable to his own ideas and tastes. And this was more than I could
endure. There was another periodical which I could use, and had used
occasionally, but it lent itself to ill-disposed people as a vehicle of
slander, and I had ceased to feel myself at liberty to give it my
countenance. With a small periodical of my own I could communicate with
my friends at pleasure, and I used my _Evangelical Reformer_ for this
purpose with great freedom. I published my views on temperance, on
marriage, on trade, on education, on dress, on diet, on religious
parties, on books and reading, on the use of money, on the duty of the
Church to support its poor members, on toleration and human creeds, and
on a multitude of other subjects, and urged on the churches a reform on
all these points. My freedom of expression soon brought me into fresh
trouble. An article which I published on "Toleration and Human Creeds,"
was considered by some of my brethren to be highly objectionable and
dangerous, and was brought before Conference. Conference was pressed by
many to condemn the article, and to show its disapprobation of it by
punishing the author. Others entreated that Conference should spare the
author, lest mischief should follow, and content itself with privately
expressing disapprobation of the article. The latter parties prevailed;
but their moderation was made of no effect by the editor of the magazine
who wickedly published the obnoxious resolution to the world, and so
rendered it necessary for me to write again on the subject, to defend
myself and my article. The result was a controversy between me and some
of my brethren, which led at length to the most serious consequences.

Another article was objected to by many of my brother ministers. A
draper, a leading member of the society at Ashton, published a circular,
announcing the winter fashions, and sent copies to members of my
congregation, pressing them to go and purchase his wares, many of which
were both costly and useless. I copied this circular into my periodical,
and advised my readers to disregard its counsels, and to spend their
money like Christians. I added some remarks on the inconsistency of
professing Christians urging people, even in the way of trade, to waste
their Master's money on things forbidden by His word. This article
created a great amount of excitement, and some would fain have had it
censured by Conference, along with the other article; but they were not
allowed to have their way.

Both my periodical and my other publications were favorably received,
and had a large circulation, and my opponents thought they gave me too
much power, and made me dangerous; and this became the occasion of
further unpleasantness. On the other hand the magazine had but a poor
circulation, and the Book-room, though it had a large amount of capital,
did but a very limited business; and I suggested reforms with a view to
render them more useful. I urged an improvement of the magazine, and the
publication of cheap books, with a view to supply useful reading to the
members of the churches, and to people generally. All these propositions
proved unpalatable to the easy-going officials, and brought on me fresh
trials.

13. Again; the standard of morality was low in many of our societies,
and I pleaded for the enforcement of Christian discipline. Some of our
members were brewers, some publicans, some spirit-merchants, some
beer-shop keepers. Old Mr. Thwaites was a publican. His son, who was
both class-leader and local preacher, was both a drink-seller and a
pawnbroker. And I am not certain that pawnbroking in England is not as
bad a business as drink-selling. The two are nearly related and are fast
friends. Drunkenness leads to pawnbroking, and pawnbroking helps
drunkenness. Timothy Bentley, one of the greatest brewers in England,
the poisoner-general both of the souls and bodies of the immense
population of my native county, was a Methodist class-leader at
Huddersfield. I once met in his class. He was a most venerable and
saintly-looking man, and stood in high repute. I regarded these
businesses as anti-christian, and contended that those who persisted in
them after due admonition, should be expelled.

The businesses named above were not the worst. Some members of society
were wholesale panders. Take the following facts. When I was sent to
Liverpool I had a young man, whose name I need not give, for a
bed-fellow. He was a draper, and his customers were unfortunate women.
He sold to them on trust, and went round weekly to collect his money.
His father, who was a leading man in the society, and his brothers, were
in the same way of business. Another man who was a leading member and an
official, followed the same dishonorable occupation. It was usual with
those people, when their wretched customers were turned out of their
houses by their landlords, to provide them with fresh houses, and even
to supply them with furniture. When fairs or races were at hand, they
supplied them with extra dresses and ornaments, to enable them to ply
their horrible trade to better advantage. These facts I had in part from
my bed-fellow, and in part from the people in whose house he kept his
shop, and with whom I lived. When I came to know these things I was very
uneasy; and on finding that it was unsafe to sleep with my bed-fellow, I
got fresh lodgings. This vexed my bed-fellow and all his family, and
made them my enemies. I spoke of these things to my superintendent, but
he advised me to be cautious what I did and said in reference to such
matters. And he told me a story that he had met with in a work on the
ministry by an American, which he had just been reading. This author
said, that out of fifty ministers whom he had known expelled from their
holy office, only one or two had been expelled for immoral conduct or
gross inconsistency: all the rest had been discarded on account of
imprudences. This was meant to deter me from interfering either by word
or deed with faulty members of society. And he backed his ungodly
counsel by as bad an example. For he not only left those wicked people
to pursue their evil courses undisturbed, but visited at their houses,
allowed his family to receive presents from them, and, when he was
leaving the circuit, did himself accept from their unclean hands a
portion of their filthy gains, in the shape of a testimonial of their
respect for his great abilities and distinguished virtues. This person,
whose general conduct was much in keeping with the facts I have given
above, though he was the foremost minister in the Connexion, proved my
most persistent adversary in after life, and never rested till he had
brought about my expulsion from the ministry.

14. I will mention another affair to show what notions certain members
of the church had of what was required of Christians in reference to
business matters. I bought some handkerchiefs of a man, a member of
society, in Chester, on his assurance that they would wash. When we
washed them they came to pieces. I asked the man afterwards if he was
aware when he sold the handkerchiefs that they were rotten. He said he
was. "Then why did you sell me them?" I asked. He said he had bought
them for good ones himself, and that he could not afford to lose what he
had given for them. I wanted such people to be dealt with according to
the rules of Christian discipline.

15. There were many other sad facts, far more than I have either time or
disposition to mention, which forced themselves on my notice, and
obliged me, in conscience, to plead and labor for reform. There seemed a
dreadful distance between the character of Christ and the character of
the Church; and I wished to make it less. How far I erred in my efforts
to bring about this desirable result, and how far I acted wisely, it is
not for me to say. I know that my object was good, and that the course I
took was the one that seemed best to me at the time; but it is probable
that some would have gone about the work in a wiser way. I never
excelled in certain forms of prudence. I was prone to speak forth my
thoughts and feelings without much consideration and with but little
reserve; and I often used the plainest and even the strongest words. I
was too open. My heart was too near my mouth. I thought aloud. And I was
not sufficiently tender of people's feelings. Nor did I make sufficient
allowance for their prejudices and imperfections. I probably expected
too much from men. And some of the reforms which I proposed might at
the time be impracticable. I was accustomed to muse very much on the
teachings of Christ and His Apostles, and to image to myself a state of
things in the Church which, though very desirable, was probably
unattainable, except through many slow preliminary changes. I wished for
a church "without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing,"--a church that
should set forth and carry out the highest principles of Christian
purity and charity--and that was a blessing to be looked for not in the
present, but in the future only.

16. Then I had but little knowledge of human nature, either in its
regenerate or unregenerate state. I over-rated men's virtues, and
under-rated their defects. I trusted them too much and feared them too
little. I took all who put on a fair appearance, for friends, and
imparted to them the innermost thoughts of my soul. And many proved
unworthy of my confidence. And I often over-rated men's talents or
capabilities. I was not aware of the infinite difference in men's
powers. I thought all my brethren in the ministry, and almost all my
brother Christians, were capable, under proper culture, of being made as
wise, as able, as eloquent, as the most distinguished in the Church. I
was not aware that some men were naturally palm-trees, and others only
brambles; that some were pearls, and others only pebbles; and that these
constitutional differences were unalterable. Hence I expected too much
of some, and was too impatient perhaps when disappointed. I erred with
regard both to men and institutions, and my colleagues were often
offended with what they deemed my unreasonable expectations and demands.

17. But in truth, it is not necessary for reformers to err, in order to
give offence. The best and wisest One that ever appeared on earth gave
offence to those who were wedded to error and abuses. A Christian
reformer can never please the "earthly, the sensual, and the devilish."
The history of Christ and of Paul has settled that. A Christian reformer
never does the right thing in the estimation of the idle, the selfish,
the corrupt: and if he does, he never does it at the right time, or in
the right way. He always meddles too early, or too late; and he always
goes too fast, or too slow; and he always does too much, or too little.
He interferes with their ease, their interests, and their pleasures,
and that is enough. They will, in return, endeavor to destroy his
influence, if not to take away his life. They will impute to him the
vilest motives. They will stick at no lie, no wrong, that seems likely
to damage his reputation. They will magnify his innocent weaknesses or
trifling inconsistencies, and represent them as gross and unpardonable
faults. If he is faithful they will call him rash; if he is prudent they
will call him hypocritical; and they will labor in every way to awaken
against him distrust and prejudice in the minds of the better-disposed
among their brethren.

And many of the better-disposed themselves often see what tries them
greatly in the character and doings of reformers. It is the natural
tendency of the reforming spirit to lead a man to look too much at what
is amiss in men and systems, and too little at what is right and
praiseworthy. It is what is amiss that _wants_ reforming, so he fixes
his mind on that, and makes it the constant subject of his conversation.
And so it was with myself no doubt to some extent. And this, to men of
conservative tendencies, who look more at the good and less at the evil
in the men and systems with which they are connected, seems a grievous
fault, an inexcusable piece of injustice, deserving the severest
censure. And they repay it with the sternest condemnation.

And conservatives can be as blind or one-sided as the most eager
reformers. They can shut their eyes to what is evil, or treat great
abuses as excusable trifles; while they magnify what is good beyond all
bounds. And when they get excited or vexed they can be as unjust towards
the reformer, as the most rabid reformer can be towards them or their
pet institutions. And there are few things fiercer than the fire of
bigotry, even in minds not destitute of piety. The truth is, when men
wax hot, either in favor of reform or against it, justice is forgotten,
and kindness and courtesy are out of the question.

And so it was in the controversies which arose out of my efforts at
reform. I was assailed both by the malignity of the corrupt, and by the
bigotry of the misguided. I was hated by the bad, and dreaded by some of
the good, and abused and persecuted by both. And some of my enemies had
neither mercy nor moderation. They pressed matters to the most terrible
extremes.

And I was not sufficiently on my guard. Instead of possessing my soul in
patience, and casting my care on God, I allowed their persecutions to
increase the bitterness of my unhappy feelings, and render my ultimate
separation from them inevitable.

18. There were several other matters which had something to do in
causing unpleasant feelings between me and a number of my brethren.

It fell to my lot to be unusually popular. I became so at a very early
period. I was, in consequence, often invited by other circuits to preach
their special sermons, and I frequently accepted those invitations. Some
of my superintendents were annoyed at this, and showed their displeasure
in very offensive ways. While I was in Hanley circuit my superintendent
called a meeting of a number of leading friends, before which I was
summoned to appear. There my acceptance of invitations to preach
occasional sermons was charged against me as an offence, and I was
ordered not to _go_ into other circuits any more, without the consent of
my superintendent. I offered no objection to this. My superintendent
next charged me with having a number of objectionable books in my
library. He had requested the woman at whose house I lodged to show him
into my room during my absence, and there he had found the works of
Shakespeare, Barrow, Tillotson, and Paley, and some volumes of poems by
Lord Byron. The meeting advised me to get rid of Shakespeare and Byron,
and to be careful how I used the works of Barrow, Tillotson, and Paley,
as they were not Methodistical, and my great concern, it was said,
should be to excel as a teacher and defender of Methodism. With this
recommendation I could not entirely comply. I retained my Shakespeare; I
have him yet. And I read the works of Tillotson, Barrow, and Paley as
freely as I had done before. But I lost all confidence in my
superintendent, and a portion of the respect I had felt for those who
took his part. Towards the close of the year my superintendent and his
friends endeavored to prevent me from receiving a perfect certificate,
on the pretence that I had expressed a doubt whether my health would
prove equal to the work of the ministry. Their objections proved of no
avail; but the spirit which my superintendent showed, increased the
unhappy feeling which his previous unkindness had awakened in my breast.

19. The wife of one of our ministers published a book, and the husband
sent it to me for review. It contained, mixed up with a great variety of
useful remarks, a number of anti-scriptural and antinomian passages.
While I did justice to the rest of the book, I exposed its errors with
great fidelity, and gave the husband great offence.

20. About the same time a gentleman at whose house I was billeted at
Bury, when lecturing there on temperance, made me a present of a volume
of Channing's discourses. I read this volume with the greatest delight,
and spoke of it highly in my periodical. Now Channing was a Unitarian,
and in one of the discourses contained in the volume which I had
commended, there were several Unitarian expressions. The husband of the
lady whose book I had reviewed brought the matter before Conference. He
also quoted from my periodical a number of passages which he contended
were not Methodistical. He was very violent in his remarks, and
concluded his address by demanding my expulsion. He had conferred with a
number of other preachers before Conference came on, and formed a
considerable party, and the clamor for my condemnation was both loud and
somewhat general. A gentleman, however, of great influence in
Conference,--the same who had pleaded for moderation at the Conference
previous,--rose and proposed a gentler course. The result was a
committee, explanations and a settlement. After the Conference, the
terms of the settlement were misrepresented by my opponents, and I felt
called upon to put them in their proper light. This revived the
controversy, and made matters worse than they had been before.

21. I have referred to the rule which required young preachers to remain
single for four or five years. When a person was received into the
ministry, he was required to give a pledge that he would keep this rule.
I declined to give this pledge, I said I had no _intention_ to marry
before the appointed time, and that if I _did_ so, I should be in the
hands of the Conference, and they could do with me what they thought
best. This was considered sufficient, and I was accepted. As it happened
I _did_ marry before the appointed time. I had had such unsuitable
lodgings found me where I had been stationed, and I had suffered so much
in consequence, that I felt justified in taking a wife and providing
accommodations for myself, I took for my wife a woman of exemplary
character, of amiable disposition, and engaging manners, and I put the
circuits in which I was stationed to no additional expense or trouble. I
took my own house, and provided my own furniture. And I neither begged
nor borrowed a penny, nor did I run one penny into debt. And I worked as
hard after marriage as before, and probably harder, and to better
purpose. The Conference however punished me by putting me a year back,
and transporting me to the most distant part of a very distant circuit.
Thither I had to remove my wife and furniture at great expense. And the
allowance for board there was the lowest that the laws allowed a society
to give. My whole yearly income was only forty pounds, or two hundred
dollars. I was required too to be often and long from home in distant
parts of the circuit. I went however to my appointment and set to work,
disposed, though sorrowful, to do my duty. I got a part of an old
uninhabited house, and my wife made it comfortable. We lived
economically, and kept out of debt, without the aid of either gifts or
loans, and I never had a happier year, and my labors were never better
received or more successful; and Blyth, the place of my banishment, will
be dear to me as long as I live.

22. Yet I had many trials while stationed there. My superintendent was
unkind, and tried from time to time to do me harm. But though he caused
me much trouble at times, a higher power overruled things for my good.
One of the societies over which he had great influence was really cruel.
It refused to postpone a service to allow me to go and see my child when
it was very ill, and thought to be in great danger. The circuit was
nearly thirty miles in length, and I had to spend nearly half my time
from fifteen to twenty-three miles away from home. Once when starting
for the most distant of my appointments, I had left my little child
very unwell, and apparently in danger of death. It was too bad that I
should have had to leave my little family under such circumstances; but
the feeling in many parts of the circuit was so unfriendly towards me,
in consequence of the unfavorable representations of my views and habits
of thought circulated by my superintendent and his friends, that I could
not have missed an appointment with safety. I had been away five days,
when I heard that my child was worse, and likely to die. I had still one
appointment to fulfil, but I resolved, if possible, to get it postponed,
and hasten home. I went to the place and requested the leaders to allow
me to put off the appointment to the following week. They refused my
request. I told them I had received word that my child was likely to
die, and that I was anxious to be with its afflicted mother; but they
would not give way. I was sadly tried, and I said, "I shall go home
notwithstanding. If I find my child alive and likely to recover, I will
return and preach; if I do not find it better, I shall not return. I
shall stay at home and take the consequences!" I had already walked
thirteen miles. It was ten or eleven more to Blyth. I walked the whole
distance. There was no conveyance. My superintendent was allowed horse
hire; but I was not: and I could not afford to pay for a horse myself
out of sixteen dollars or three pound five a month. I reached home, and
found my child a little better. After a little rest, I started back on
foot to my appointment. My wife looked out of the window after me,
weeping, afraid to ask me to remain with her. She knew the temper of my
superintendent, and the feeling of the people, so she wept in silence. I
walked over ten miles more, and then preached. I walked altogether
thirty-three miles that day. I was very much tired; but I had seen my
wife and child, so I went through my work without complaining, and was
up very early next morning, and walked ten miles more to breakfast with
my darling wife, and to comfort her sorrowful heart. My child got well,
and all things turned out happily in the end. Still, the unkindness of
the Conference in punishing me so undeservedly, and the cruelty of my
superintendent and the Westmoor leaders, made me feel very keenly, and I
could never think of those matters without something like indignation
and horror. And all these annoyances lessened my respect for many of my
brethren, and helped to prepare the way for future troubles.

My troubles did not all come from the preachers. There were several
laymen in and about Newcastle-on-Tyne, who seemed to think it a duty to
annoy their young minister. The worst, though in some respects the best,
of that class was Thomas Snowdon, an old local preacher, leader, and
trustee. The first interview that I had with this man he took occasion
to insult me respecting my marriage, and also gave me to understand that
he should expect me to be in perfect subjection to his will, if I wished
to enjoy much peace or comfort in the circuit. It fell to my lot to be
lodged and boarded for part of my time at his house, and to show his way
of proceeding I may give the following.

It was his custom to read a portion of the Scriptures to his family
every morning, and as he passed along he would make comments on what he
read. When I was there, he would frequently stop in his readings and
comments, to ask my opinion, and he seemed to expect that I must always
concur in what he said. At times however I was obliged to dissent from
his sayings, and then would follow a little controversy. Those
controversies were never very profitable, in consequence of his constant
desire to force his own opinions on me, and to extort from me assent to
his whimsical and foolish observations. Yet he still continued to force
those controversies.

He also took upon himself the office of perpetual censurer of my
discourses. And his censures were generally proportioned to the goodness
of the sermon. If I happened to be particularly at liberty in my
discourse, and preach better than usual, he would blame almost
everything. If I preached indifferently, he would censure less; and if I
preached poorly, if I was embarrassed in my discourse, and seemed
troubled or sad on that account, he would scarcely censure at all. Then
the things which he censured would be sure to be the best and truest
parts of my sermon. He appeared to think that he was out of his duty,
unless he was endeavoring to torture the mind of the young preacher, and
to force him, if possible, into subjection to his will.

On one occasion he and I had nearly quarrelled. He had tried me till I
could keep silence no longer, so I told him plainly what I thought about
his manner of proceeding. I spoke so plainly, that both he and his wife
were seriously put about. Soon after that, on my visiting the Newcastle
side of the circuit, I found that the people at whose house I was then
accustomed to sleep, had gone off, and closed the house, so that I was
obliged to look out for other lodgings. I went directly to Mr.
Snowdon's. He was the principal man in the circuit, and it was his place
to see that I was properly provided for. His wife seemed astonished when
I entered the house: but I told her how the matter stood; and I added,
that I did not feel disposed to go, at that time of the night, (for it
was getting rather late) to any other lodging; so that I hoped she would
give me a bed. I also said, that unless I could be accommodated with a
bed there, I would at once return to Blyth. She said, 'I should always
be glad to see you, and to give you either bed or anything else, if you
would not disagree and dispute so with our master.' I replied, 'It is
your master that will disagree and dispute with me. I should be quiet
enough, if he would let me alone. I never force my opinions on him; it
is only when he attempts to force his opinions on me that I ever speak.
You must yourself have seen that he will neither allow me to be silent,
nor allow me quietly to speak my mind; that he _will_ oblige me to
speak, and yet always finds fault if I say anything at variance with
what _he_ says.' She acknowledged that her husband was rather queer in
that respect, but still thought that I might manage a great deal better
with him if I would. I told her I had done my best, and that it was all
to no purpose. 'He will ask my opinion,' said I, 'on every subject that
comes into his head, and then begin to complain whenever my opinion
happens to differ from his.' I also added, that I thought he sometimes
disputed with me merely for the sake of disputing, and contradicted me,
not because he thought I was wrong, but because he thought that it would
be too much of a compliment to acknowledge that he agreed with me on any
subject. She thought I was too severe upon him. I said, 'Well, just wait
and see to-night, and if it is not as I have said, you shall blame me
as much as you like, and I will acknowledge myself in error.'

Almost immediately Mr. Snowdon came in. 'What are _you_ doing here
to-night?' said he. 'I have come to sleep here,' I replied, 'and more
than that, I _must_ sleep here, or else return to Blyth. Mr. G----'s
house is closed, and it is too late to seek a bed elsewhere.' He made no
objections, and things proceeded as usual. He soon took his Bible,
called the family around him, and began to read. The lesson was in
Isaiah. He had not read far before he began to explain a passage.
'This,' said he, 'refers to our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. It points out
the glory of His character and of His person as the supreme God and Lord
of all; exhibits Him as the _Maker_ as well as the _Saviour_ of the
world. Do you not think so, Mr. Barker?' said he. I remained silent. 'Is
not that your view of the subject, Mr. Barker?' he added. 'I have no
objections to offer,' I said. This did not seem exactly to satisfy him;
but he went on, and read again. 'And so it is,' said he; 'we are all by
nature as an unclean thing; there is no health in us. How deeply we are
fallen, Mr. Barker! Do you not think so, Mr. Barker?' I made no reply.
He wished to know why I was silent. I said I did not like to be always
talking on those matters,--that I would rather he would read on, and
allow us to think about the chapter at our leisure afterwards. All this
time his wife was dreadfully fidgetty. She wanted to speak to him, but
could not. She wished to catch his attention by her looks, but to no
purpose. The proof of the truth of what I had said was becoming too
strong for her, and she could scarcely sit still on her chair. He
proceeded: 'This,' said he, 'refers to the glory of the Church of Christ
in the latter days, when the Gentiles shall be converted, and the Jews
brought back to their own land. This will be a glorious time, Mr.
Barker. What are your views on this subject, Mr. Barker?' Then he added
some further remarks, concluding with the question, 'Do you not think
so, Mr. Barker?' I now began to laugh: I could hold no longer. 'And do
you laugh at God's holy word?' said he: and a terrible lecture he would
have read me, had not his wife broke out and said, 'Hinney, you are to
blame, you are to blame. You won't let Mr. Barker alone: he would be
silent if you would allow him: you are too bad.' He repeated his
terrible rebuke of my levity, and I began to explain. I told him what
had passed between his wife and me before he came in. I told him all
that I thought about his way of proceeding towards me in those matters,
and he, poor fellow, was completely confounded. I told him that it
seemed to me as if he really took pleasure in tormenting people; as if
he could not be happy unless he thought that he was making other people
miserable,--that he seemed to begrudge those that were around him the
least ease, or quietness, or pleasure, and to wish to keep them on a
perpetual rack. It was his time now to explain and apologize, and what
do you think was the reason he assigned for his proceedings? 'Hinney,'
said he, 'Mr. Barker is a young minister, and I wish to inure him to
hardness as a good soldier of our Lord Jesus Christ.' I told him there
were painful things enough in the world to inure men to hardness without
his making more, &c. After this he never annoyed me much in that way
again. He did not allow me to rest altogether; that would have been too
much; but he was a vast deal better; and if he ever after this began to
be queer, I always felt greater confidence in refusing to talk to him,
and in letting him know that I expected to be allowed to have a little
of my own way.

I never could persuade myself but that this man was, after all, a good
man. I believe he really feared God and loved his fellow-men. I think he
was conscientious and benevolent. Among other proofs of his benevolence
I may mention, that he took an orphan family under his care, and reared
them. He made them _work_, it is true; he made _every_ one work that was
under _him_; but he fed them, and clothed them, and taught them in his
way. He acted, in short, like a father to them.

Again, when my mother came over to see me at Newcastle, he invited her
to his house. He showed her every possible attention. He was as kind as
it was possible for a man to be. And when she had to leave for Leeds, he
was up by four or five o'clock in the morning, to provide her a
comfortable breakfast, and take her to the coach. But I observed that he
was always kinder to old people than to young people. I suppose he
thought that old people had had trouble enough, and that he had
therefore no need to give them more; but that young people were in
danger of being too happy, of having too little trouble, and that it was
necessary therefore that he should be their tormentor. But even to the
young he could be kind on occasions, very kind; and if the young showed
a disposition to meet his views, to receive his sayings as oracles, and
always to consult his will, he would even caress and commend them. But
he could receive no measured or limited subjection. They must neither
think, nor speak, nor smile, nor stir but in accordance with his will if
they wished to enjoy his favor. The least imaginable opposition to his
judgment or his pleasure, would draw forth his rebukes.

There were laymen in almost all places who took upon themselves to tell
you what you should believe and teach, and to condemn you as a heretic
if you did not attend to their suggestions.

24. In 1837, shortly after I was stationed in Mossley, I had a public
discussion with a clergyman on the propriety or lawfulness of teaching
the children of the poor to write in our Sunday-schools. The New
Connexion people in the Mossley circuit taught writing in their
Sunday-schools, and they had, in consequence, a very large attendance of
scholars, and very prosperous churches. Their scholars outnumbered those
of all the other schools put together. This seemed to annoy the
ministers of the other denominations, and it was no uncommon thing for
those ministers, when they came to preach the yearly sermons in behalf
of the funds of their Schools, to say strong things against the practice
of the New Connexion. Dr. Nunn, of the Established Church, contended
that it was Sabbath-breaking, and challenged the New Connexion officials
to a public discussion on the subject. They accepted the challenge, and
appointed me their champion. I contended, that in the circumstances in
which the children of the poor were placed at that time, it was an act
of mercy and Christian beneficence to teach them to write on Sundays.
The clergyman gave up the contest before the time allowed for the debate
came to a close, and I was proclaimed victor. I published my views on
the subject in a pamphlet, entitled MERCY TRIUMPHANT, which
had an extensive circulation, and produced a powerful effect on the
views of large numbers of people. Some of my brethren denounced the
pamphlet as heretical, and the editor of the _Magazine_ took occasion to
inform his readers, in an offensive way, that my views were not the
views of the body to which I belonged.

25. In the Sheffield circuit I had several unpleasant collisions with
one of my colleagues, and a couple of superannuated ministers, about a
rich but very unworthy member there. This man was anxious to control the
action of the whole circuit, and even of the whole Connexion, and one of
my colleagues, and the two superannuated ministers, one of which was Mr.
Allin, my old and persistent opponent, took his part. I had myself no
faith in the man. I knew him to be both an ignorant and unworthy person.
He was, in fact, a drunkard. Both he and Mr. Allin once, after having
spent the day at a public feast, came into an official meeting drunk in
the evening. I was present, and saw the horrible sight. It afterwards
came out that this rude, ambitious man was something worse than a
drunkard. I did what I could to avoid an open rupture with my colleagues
and this man's friends, and succeeded for a time, but they obliged me at
last, either to sanction what I felt to be wrong, or openly to protest
against their proceedings. I protested. And now the unsubstantial peace
which had existed between us for a time was followed by a very unhappy
rupture, which left deep and angry wounds in the hearts of all the
contending parties.

26. But to give all the incidents which proved the occasion of bitter
feeling and alienation between me and a number of my brethren would
require a book. They were happening almost continually. When once people
have ceased to regard each other with love and confidence, they can
neither speak nor stir without giving each other offence. And this was
the state to which I and several of my brethren had come. Indeed such
was the unhappy state of our feelings, that we had ceased to take
pleasure in pleasing, and had come almost to take delight in trying one
another. Instead of coming as near together as we could, we got as far
as possible apart. We came at length to feel a kind of gratification in
finding what appeared good reasons for differing from one another. The
consequence was, we came to differ from each other so much, that it
became impossible for us to work together to any advantage.

And there was no one with wisdom and piety sufficient to interpose and
heal the breach, or even to prevent it from getting continually wider.
The gentleman who had acted as mediator and moderator when my article on
_Toleration and Human Creeds_ was arraigned, and who had also brought
about the temporary settlement of a more serious dispute at the
Conference following, now found the case beyond his powers, and made no
further attempts at reconciliation. He saw it necessary, if he would
retain his influence in the Body, to become a partizan, instead of a
mediator, and he chose the side of my opponents. There were two other
men--two of the oldest and ablest of our ministers--and two of the most
exemplary Christians in the Body--who saw the danger of the tempest that
was raging against me, and who would have been glad to screen me from
its violence, but they were afraid to interpose. They loved me and
esteemed me, and sympathized with me in many of my views; but to have
attempted to save me from the fury of my opponents, would have been to
risk their own reputation and position. One of them had already suffered
in consequence of the freedom with which he had expressed his views on
certain anti-christian doctrines, though he had written with far more
caution, and acted with much more prudence, than I had done; and he no
doubt felt, that if he could not, without so much difficulty, save
himself, it would be vain to attempt to save another, who had spoken and
written with so much more freedom, and acted with so much more
independence. So the storm was left to rage and spend its fury on my own
head.

I cannot give an account of all that followed during the last two years
which I spent in connection with the Church; it would make my story too
long. But things got worse and worse as time passed on.

In 1840 I brought my _Evangelical Reformer_ to a close. In the last
number I declared my unchanged belief in the sentiments set forth in my
article on "_Toleration, Human Creeds, &c._" I also contradicted the
reports that had been spread abroad by my enemies, to the effect that I
had, at the preceding Conference, retracted certain expressions used in
my writings with regard to justification, the witness of the Spirit,
&c.; and censured the conduct of the ruling party in my case in very
plain terms. I said, "If any of my opponents imagine that I have
recanted a single sentence that I have published in this work, they are
under some misapprehension. There is not a doctrine that I have
inculcated in it that I do not still maintain. And I declare my full
conviction that the resolutions which were passed in reference to me by
the Ashton and Huddersfield Conferences were based in error, and that
the proceedings of my opponents in this matter were uncalled for and
unchristian."

My enemies at once decided on my expulsion. Their purpose was to cast me
out at the following Conference, and Mr. Allin published a small tract
in reply to my article on Human Creeds, to prepare the minds of the
people for the intended measure. He published it just before Conference,
when he supposed it would be impossible for me to prepare a reply before
the Body assembled. I never saw it till the evening of Thursday, the day
but one before that on which I was to leave home for the distant place
where the Conference was to meet. But I wrote a reply the same night,
and got it printed, and in less than twenty-four hours it was
circulating in every direction. I had been able to show that my
opponent's arguments proved just the contrary of what they were brought
forward to prove. I also showed that the views advocated in my article
were the views of Mr. Kilham, the founder of the Body to which we all
belonged, and were, in fact, the views of some of the best and ablest
men that the Church universal had ever produced. I gave quite a
multitude of quotations justifying my article to the very letter. The
effect was astounding. The people saw at once that I was right. My
enemies were confounded. They were paralyzed. And I was saved.

But it was only for a time. The contest had lasted so long, and had
produced such a fearful amount of unhappy feeling between me and my
opponents, that reconciliation and comfortable co-operation had become
impossible. It could not be expected that a powerful party would rest
content under a defeat; and it was not in me to give up my efforts to
bring about a better state of things in the Connexion. And hence a
renewal of the unhappy strife.

It is natural to suppose that my enemies would now be anxious to get rid
of me, and would watch for a suitable occasion to cast me out; and my
ideas of duty were such, that it was impossible for me long to refrain
from giving them the opportunity they desired. I did it as follows.

1. The early churches provided for their poor members. The Quakers, the
Moravians, and the early Methodists did the same. This exercise of
brotherly love is enjoined by Christ and His Apostles. I urged this duty
on the church to which I belonged. I preached and published a sermon on
the subject, and circulated a number of tracts on the same point,
published by others.

2. The travelling preachers had a Fund, called the Beneficent Fund, for
the support of superannuated preachers and preachers' widows. Some of
the rules of this fund seemed to me to be anti-christian, and I labored
to get them altered. I also recommended that there should be a fund for
worn-out and needy local preachers.

3. Members of the churches mingled with drunkards, profligates, and
infidels, in benefit societies, and many other associations. This seemed
to me to be very objectionable, and plainly unscriptural, and I
recommended that they should come out from such societies, and form
associations for good objects among themselves.

4. Wesley had provided cheap books and pamphlets for his societies, and
I urged the Conference to do the same for ours. I wrote letters to the
Annual Committee, the representatives of the Connexion, showing that
books published at eight or ten shillings a volume, could be supplied at
one or one and sixpence. I reminded them of the fact that the Book-room
had abundance of spare capital which might be profitably used in such a
work, and I pointed out the advantages likely to result from the
encouragement of thoughtful and studious habits among the people. I
published a pamphlet on the subject, entitled _The Church and the
Press_, showing that the churches might almost monopolize the supply of
books, and become the teachers and the rulers of the nations, I said,
"If the Church at large would do its duty, every dark place on earth
might be visited, and the seeds of truth and righteousness sown in every
part of the globe in a few years." With regard to our own Connexion I
said, "Our Magazine and Book-room, which ought to be promoting the
intellectual and religious improvement of the Connexion and the world,
are doing just nothing at all, or next to nothing. The leading articles
of the Magazine are among the dullest and most useless things ever
printed. The Book-room, which has capital enough to publish thirty or
forty new books a year, does not issue one. An institution which ought
to be filling the Connexion and the country generally with the light and
blessings of Christianity, and which is capable of being made a blessing
to the world at large, is allowed to 'stand there all the day idle.'"

I then proposed, as a means of stimulating the Book Committee and the
Editor of the Magazine to greater activity, that I and my friends should
be allowed to publish a periodical, and to establish a Book-room, at our
own expense. The proposal was not only rejected, but even treated as a
capital offence.

5. I had labored hard against the infidel socialists, lecturing against
them in almost all the large towns in the kingdom, and I was, to a great
extent, the means of breaking up their societies. But my contests with
those infidels made me more sensible of the necessity of abandoning all
human additions to Christ's doctrine, and of having nothing to defend
but the beautiful and beneficent principles of pure unadulterated
Christianity. Hence I became still less of a sectarian in my belief, and
more and more of a simple Christian, and I labored to promote a stricter
conformity to the teachings of Christ among ministers and Christians
generally.

6. I wrote against the waste of God's money by professing Christians in
luxurious living and vain show, and exhorted the rich to employ their
surplus wealth in doing good.

7. That it might not be said that I received pay from the church for
doing one kind of work while I employed a portion of my time in doing
others, I gave up my salary, and refused to receive anything from the
circuit in which I was stationed, except what was given me as a
free-will offering.

8. I withdrew from the preachers' benefit society, resolved, in case of
sickness or old age, to trust for a supply of my wants to the providence
of God.

9. I recommended the Connexion to pay off all the chapel debts, and
prepare itself for more vigorous and extensive aggressions on the
kingdom of darkness.

All these things increased the anxiety of my opponents to get me out of
the ministry; but they would probably have failed to give them the power
to accomplish their object, if I had gone no farther. But I believed it
my duty to take another step.

10. It was the custom in the Body to which I belonged, to baptize
children in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This
form of words was understood by me to imply that infant baptism was
commanded by God in Scripture. This, however, I doubted, and I declined
to use the words when naming or baptizing children. I had no objection
to name children, to pray for them, or even to sprinkle them; but I
could not use an expression in a sense in which I did not think it
strictly true. This emboldened my enemies to attempt my expulsion
without more ado, and this time they adopted measures calculated to
ensure success. They issued circulars on the subject to the ministers
and to the leading and influential laymen. They called secret meetings.
They employed a variety of means which seemed to me and my friends to
savor more of Popish tyranny than of Christian discipline. At length
Conference came, and I was called to account. The charges against me
were--

1. That I had denied the divine appointment of baptism, and refused to
administer the ordinance.

2. That I had denied the divine appointment and present obligation of
the Lord's supper.

3. That I had declared myself opposed to the beneficent fund.

4. That I had announced the formation of a book establishment, thereby
engaging in worldly pursuits, contrary to rule, and by this means
opposing the best interests of the Book-room.

None of those charges were true. 1. What I proposed to do with regard to
the supply of books, was no more worldly business than preaching was,
or selling the publications of the Connexion. The object was not profit,
but extended usefulness. 2. I had not declared myself opposed to the
Beneficent Fund, but had simply proposed the improvement of its rules,
and the extension of its operations. 3. I had not denied either the
divine appointment or present obligation of the Lord's supper. 4. Nor
had I denied the divine appointment of baptism, but only declared my
belief that _water baptism_, though a becoming rite under the Christian
dispensation, was the baptism of John, and absolutely binding only under
his intermediate dispensation.

The two latter charges were not pressed, and even the second was
speedily given up, the one on baptism only remaining. This was pressed,
and as my views on the subject were deemed intolerable, I was expelled.

There was a fearful display of bad feeling on the part of many of my
opponents. And no little pressure was brought to bear on those who were
opposed to extreme measures. It was a time of terrible trial to those
who showed themselves my friends. The height to which the excitement
against me rose can hardly be made intelligible to my readers of the
present day. I regarded the proceedings of my opponents from beginning
to end as dishonorable, unjust and cruel. "They have gone," said I, in
my account of the proceedings of the Conference, "they have gone in
opposition to every dictate both of equity and charity. The principles
on which they have acted are the low, the dark, and the tyrannical
principles of Popery. They have covered themselves with dishonor, and
earned for themselves a name for injustice, intolerance and cruelty,
beyond all the religious denominations in the land. Many a time, as I
sat in my place in Conference, hearing what was said, and observing what
was done, I asked myself, 'Is this like Christ? Can this be pleasing to
God? What must angels think to look upon a scene like this? Perpetual
talk about the authority of Conference and the majesty of the rules; but
not a word about the authority of Christ, or the majesty and supremacy
of the Gospel. And such overbearing, such harshness, such determined
unrelenting cruelty towards all who showed a determination to act
according to their own convictions of duty.' In the evenings, after the
sittings of Conference were adjourned, I and a friend frequently walked
out among the hills surrounding the town, conversing with each other,
and with our heavenly Father, and oh! what a contrast! What a boundless
contrast between the atmosphere of Conference, and the atmosphere of
those sweet hills! What an infinite relief to be placed beyond the sound
of angry strife, and jealous, persecuting rage; to walk at large over
the lofty hills, to breathe the fresh air of heaven, to converse with
God, to look upon His wondrous works, to hear the sweet music of the
birds, to trace the silent path of the shadowy woods, or to stand on the
exposed, uncovered peaks of the mountain tops, and cast one's eyes on
fruitful vales, and quiet homes, and all that earth can show of grand
and beautiful, and most of all, to see in every sight the hand of
God--to hear in every sound His voice,--to feel that the Great,
Almighty, Unseen Spirit of the Universe, that lived and worked through
all, was our Father and our love,--to feel that we were one with Him,
and that He was one with us. 'This is heaven,' I cried; and, pointing to
the scene of strife and hate that lurked below, I added, 'That is hell.'
Never before did we understand why Jesus, after having spent the day in
crowds, and being harassed with the captious, cruel, persecuting Scribes
and Pharisees, retired at night into the desert, or withdrew to the
mountains. Never before did the Gospel seem so true a story. Never
before were we brought into such living sympathy with the Saviour of
mankind. I can recollect nothing I ever met with so trying as to sit in
Conference; but in our walks upon the high places, God made up for all."
"Well," I added, "I thank God I am now free. My Conference trials are
ended. O never more may I be found shut up with men who set at nought
the authority of Christ, and who, by all the cruel acts of unrelenting
persecution, strive to bend the immortal godlike mind into unnatural
subjection to their ambitious will."



CHAPTER XI.

EXPLANATIONS.


A few explanations are required before we go further.

_Explanation First. The Different Methodist Bodies._

The Methodist Body to which my parents belonged, and to which I myself
belonged till I was twenty-one years of age, was the Old Connexion or
Wesleyan Body. I was a local preacher in that Body, and was expected and
requested to go out as a travelling preacher. But insurmountable
difficulties lay in the way. In the first place, none could be received
as travelling preachers, unless they were willing to go to whatever part
of the world the conference or the missionary committee might think fit
to send them, and unless they could _express_ their willingness to be so
disposed of before they went out. This I could not do. It was my
conviction that God had called me to labor in my own country, and to do
good amongst my own people. I did not believe myself called to go to any
foreign country to preach the gospel, and I did not therefore feel at
liberty to offer to go out on the terms required. I felt as if I should
do wrong to expose myself to unseen dangers and unknown trials and
difficulties in foreign lands, without a conviction that God required it
at my hands. And I could not think that I should be likely to succeed in
missionary labors, unless I could enter on them with a belief that those
were the labors for which God designed me.

There was another difficulty. Conference had made a new law,
establishing a new test of orthodoxy, and no one could be taken out as a
travelling preacher now, who could not subscribe to the doctrine of the
Eternal Sonship, as taught by Richard Watson and Jabez Bunting, in
opposition to Adam Clarke. This test I could not subscribe. I cannot say
that I altogether disbelieved the doctrine of the Eternal Sonship; but I
was not in a state of mind to justify me in subscribing the doctrine.
Whether the doctrine of the Eternal Sonship was right or not, I had not
a firm belief in it: and that was reason enough why I should refuse to
subscribe it.

About this time Conference passed laws forbidding the teaching of
writing in all the Sunday Schools. I disapproved of these laws, and was
unable to bind myself to enforce them. I was obliged therefore to give
up all thoughts of becoming a travelling preacher in the Old Connexion.

Not long after this, disturbances took place in the Methodist society in
Leeds, respecting the introduction of an organ into Brunswick Chapel.
Conference, through the importunities of some rich people, had broken
through its own laws, and given authority for the introduction of an
organ into Brunswick Chapel contrary to the wishes of a great part of
the members, trustees, local preachers, and leaders. I of coarse
disapproved of this proceeding on the part of Conference. I had heard
the Rev. Joseph Suttcliffe speak very seriously and with great and
sorrowful dissatisfaction of the proceedings of those who were then at
the head of Methodistical affairs, and though I did not, at the time,
rightly understand him, events that took place afterwards, both brought
his words to my mind, and showed me their meaning. In consequence of
what I saw, I began to be greatly dissatisfied with the manner in which
things were carried on in the society.

A division took place in Leeds, and in several other places, and the
seceders formed a new body, called the Protestant Methodists. I left the
old Body at the same time, but having heard favorable accounts of the
Methodist New Connexion, I joined that community. This Body had seceded
from the Old Connexion some thirty years before, under the Leadership of
Alexander Kilham. Kilham was a great reformer both in religion and
politics. He sympathized with the French revolutionists, and with the
English religious Latitudinarians. He was a great admirer of Robert
Robinson of Cambridge, and reprinted, in his periodical, _the Methodist
Monitor_, his writings on religious liberty. He denounced all human
creeds, and proclaimed the Bible the one sole authority in the church
both in matters of doctrine and matters of duty. The conference of the
Body was to consist of one-half preachers and the other half laymen. In
the circuit and society meetings the power was to be divided in the same
way. A list of doctrines generally held in the Body was afterwards drawn
up and published, but was not put forward as an authoritative creed. The
writings of Wesley and Fletcher were referred to, but not as
authorities, but only as works to be consulted. I found on looking
through the rules, that there was nothing to hinder me from becoming a
travelling preacher in this Body. I offered myself as a member, and was
received. I was then sent out as a travelling preacher; and it is to
this Body chiefly that I refer in this work.

I entered the ministry with the full understanding that I should have
perfect Christian liberty both of thought and speech,--that nothing was
required of any minister but a belief in the New Testament, a life in
accordance with its teachings, and the abilities necessary to fit him
for his work. The perfection of the Scriptures, both as a rule of faith
and a rule of life, was one of the first articles in the connexional
list of doctrines, and each preacher was left to interpret the
Scriptures for himself.

To show that the liberty I took in revising my creed was in full
agreement with the principles on which the Body to which I belonged was
founded, I will give a quotation or two from the Founder's works.

"Subscription to all human creeds implies two dispositions contrary to
true religion, love of dominion over conscience in the imposer, and
slavery in the subscribers. The first usurps the right of Christ; the
last implies allegiance to a pretender." Vol. I, page 77.

"The revelation itself is infallible, and the Author of it has given it
me to examine; but the establishment of a given meaning of it renders
examination needless, and perhaps dangerous." P. 78.

"I have no patience with those who cover their own stupidity, pride, or
laziness, with a pretended acquiescence in the unexamined opinions of
men who very probably never examined their own opinions themselves, but
professed those which lay nearest at hand, and which best suited their
base secular interest." Vol. II, p. 340.

"I am seriously of opinion, and I wish all my readers would seriously
consider it, _that real Christianity will never thoroughly prevail and
flourish in the world, till the professors of it are brought to be upon
better terms with one another; lay aside their mutual jealousies and
animosities, and live as brethren in sincere harmony and love; but which
will, I apprehend, never be, till conscience is left entirely free; and
the plain BIBLE become in FACT, as it is in PROFESSION, the ONLY rule of
their religious faith and practice_." P. 271.

Such were the sentiments which Alexander Kilham thought proper to
publish on the subject of creeds.

He adds, that he did so for the purpose of "giving to our people and
others _suitable views of religious liberty in general_, AND OF WHAT
OUGHT TO BE ESTABLISHED AMONG US IN PARTICULAR."

In all I did, then, both in endeavoring to bring my views into harmony
with the teachings of Christ, and in suggesting reforms in the laws and
institutions of the Body, I acted in perfect accordance with the
principles on which the Connexion was founded. Whether the principle was
a good one or not may be questioned: all I say is, it sanctioned my
course.

_Explanation Second. Immoralities._

What I say of immoralities in ministers and members of the Church refers
chiefly to ministers and members of the New Connexion. I must not
however be understood as saying that the ministers and members of the
Old Connexion were free from such vices. They were not. James Etchells,
the minister who drank sixteen glasses of intoxicating drinks on one
round of pastoral calls, and John Farrar, his superintendent, whom he
got suspended for drunkenness, and Richard Wilson, who opened the first
spirit shop in my native town, and corrupted the people all round the
country, and Timothy Bentley, the great Brewer and Poisoner-General of
the bodies and souls of the Yorkshire people, and John Falkener, of New
Castle-on-Tyne, the wholesale Beershop-Keeper, &c., were all members and
high officials in the Wesleyan Body. And I never heard of a man being
either kept out or put out of the Wesleyan Connexion either for being a
Brewer, a Distiller, a Spirit Merchant, a Ginshop Keeper, a Publican, a
Pawnbroker, or a Beershop-keeper. And I never heard of the Conference
doing anything to promote teetotalism, or the suppression of the liquor
trade. The rules and teachings of Wesley, and the principles of Christ
on this subject, were as little cared for in the Old as in the New
Connexion.

There were points though in which the Old Connexion seemed to me
superior to the New. There seemed more hearty religiousness in the Old
Connexion than in the New. The preachers in the Old Connexion seemed to
be a higher order of men, both in piety and intelligence. They seemed to
be kinder too to each other, less jealous, less envious, and less
disposed to annoy and persecute one another. And they worked harder.
They had more of the spirit of Wesley. They were less anxious to steal
sheep from other folds, and more disposed to go out into the wilderness
to bring in those which were astray. With many of the New Connexion
members religion was too much of a form and a name: with an immense
number in the Old Connexion it was a life and a power. Hence the Old
Connexion prospered, while the New Connexion languished and declined.
The New Connexion trusted to their democratic principles of church
government for additions, and were disappointed. The Old Connexion
trusted to honest, zealous, Christian work, and succeeded. The Old
Connexion, bred great and mighty men, the New Connexion bred weak and
little ones. The New Connexion was afraid of superior men, and if any
made their appearance, drove them away, as in the case of Richard Watson
and others; the Old Connexion welcomed such men, and used them, and
reaped from their labors rich harvests of blessing. I might myself
perhaps, if my way into its ministry had not been blocked up, have been
much more happy and useful in the Old Connexion than in the New, and
have had a very different story to tell in my old age, from that which I
am telling you now. I don't know.

No; I don't know. It is quite possible that I was so formed,--that
religious freedom was so essential to the soul God had given me,--that I
should have broken through the enclosures of any sect, and made for
myself a history like that which I am now writing. But speculations on
such subjects are all vain. A man can live but once, and in one way, and
all we can do now is to live well for the future,--as well as we can.
God help us.

God will help us. And we must not suppose that because we have not had
the lot which imagination pictures as most desirable, we have lived in
vain. Let us look on matters in a more cheerful light. The world, and
all our affairs, are in the hands of an all-perfect God, and always have
been, and I am inclined to believe, that with regard to myself, He has
done all things well. I meant to do right from the first. I never
wickedly departed from God. I erred unintentionally and unexpectedly. I
erred seeking for the truth. I erred praying to God to lead me right.
And I am inclined to believe that my course was not entirely of myself,
but was a discipline appointed me by a higher power, and meant to
further some desirable end. So I will go on hoping and rejoicing,
interpreting God's doings as favorably as I can, and believing, that
what I know not now, I shall know hereafter. And all the time I will
rejoice in God's love, and sing Glory, Hallelujah.


_Explanation Third. Christianity and Methodism not to Blame._

Do not let any one judge of Christianity or Methodism, nor even of the
whole body of the Methodist Church, from the cases of immorality which I
have found it necessary to name. Christianity and real Wesleyan
Methodism are as opposed to bad trades and bad deeds as light is to
darkness. And bad as things were in the churches to which I have
referred, a large portion, if not the great bulk of the members, were
sincere Christians, fearing God and working righteousness. Nor were all
the preachers bad-hearted or cruel men. It often happens that a few
control the many. And the ruling few are often worse than the many whom
they rule. The least worthy members of the church are often, like
Diotrephes, eager for the pre-eminence, while the best are modest and
retiring. It is not always the cream that comes to the top, either in
civil or religious society; it is sometimes the scum. And my readers
must take these things into account while reading my story. The early
Methodist churches were blessed organizations, bitterly as Wesley and
Fletcher lamented their shortcomings and backslidings. With all their
faults they were the lights of the world, and the salt of the earth.
They are so still. They were so in the days of which I write. And the
same may be said of other churches. They fall very far short of the
perfection of Christian knowledge and holiness, but they are as far in
advance of a godless world, as Christianity is in advance of them. I
think it no objection to Christians or to Christian churches that they
do not at once embody and exemplify Christian truth and virtue in all
their fullness, any more than I think it an objection to men of science
and scientific associations that they do not know and set forth all the
laws of the material universe. Men are finite, while Nature and
Christianity are infinite. Christianity will always be ahead of
churches, and nature will always be ahead of science, as God will always
be ahead of man. I would have churches and ministers improve, and I
would tell them of their faults and shortcomings that they may see where
improvement is wanted, but I would not on any account do them injustice,
or give countenance to the infidel slander that the church is worse than
the godless world, or a twentieth part as bad.

And though I would explain how unhappily I was influenced by the errors
and misdoings of my brethren, that I may make my apostacy from Christ
intelligible, I have no desire to make the impression that all with whom
I came in uncomfortable collision were great sinners, while I was a meek
and faultless saint. I know the contrary. There were errors and failings
on both sides. I may sometimes think 'I was more sinned against than
sinning,' but at other times I am ashamed and confounded at my great and
grievous errors. God forgive me. I was dreadfully tried at times by my
brethren; but my brethren were tried by me at other times past all
endurance. God only knows which was most to blame; but I was bad enough.
If either I or my brethren had been as wise and good as men should
strive to be, both they and I might have had a very different story to
tell; a story much more agreeable to our readers and much more
creditable to ourselves. But the past is past, and my brethren, most of
them, have gone to judgment, and I am hastening after; and it behooves
me to tell as fair a story, and to tell it in as meek and lowly and
loving a spirit as possible. And I here declare, that if any expression
of bitterness, or any statement savoring of harshness or injustice,
escapes my lips, I wish it softened, and brought into harmony with
perfect truth and charity.

It is very difficult, when a man is giving an account of his life, to be
strictly just and impartial. Perhaps it is impossible. It is very
difficult, when he is telling of his trials, to keep from all
expressions of strong and unpleasant feeling towards those whom he
regards as the causes of his trials. Perhaps this also is impossible. My
readers must consider this, and make allowances both for me and my
brethren.

And both my readers and I must try to bear in mind, that men are not the
sole actors in the pitiable blunders and melancholy tragedies of their
lives. God had to do with the descent of Joseph into Egypt. His brethren
were the visible actors, but a Great Invisible Actor directed and
controlled their doings. Our ignorance and our vices are our own, but
the form they take in action, and the effects they produce, are God's.
Shimei's wickedness was his own, but it was God that caused it to show
itself in throwing stones at David. All our trials are, in truth, from
God, and it would be well for us to regard them in that light. And we
ought no more to be malignantly resentful towards the men whom God makes
use of to try us, than we ought to murmur against God. We should try to
go through all with the meek and quiet spirit with which Jesus went
through the still greater trials that lay in His path. And in speaking
of our trials, we should try to exhibit the sweet forgiving temper that
shines out so gloriously in the life and death of the Redeemer. And if
we can go a step farther, and rejoice in tribulation, and smile in
peaceful tranquility at the erring but divinely guided actors in our
trials, so much the better. And if we can believe that all things work
together for good not only to them that love God, but even to those who
for a time are unwittingly separated from God, why should we not
'rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks?' My gracious God, I
know that there are expressions in this book that might have been
better,--that feelings sometimes show themselves that are not the
perfection of Christian love and meekness; and I ask Thee in Thy mercy
to forgive them all: And I pray Thee so to influence my soul for the
time to come, and to enable me so to use my tongue and pen, that all I
say and write may savor of Jesus, be in agreement with my Christian
profession, and tend to the instruction and spiritual improvement of my
hearers and readers.


_Explanation Fourth. My Own Defects._

My character was very defective in my early days. I have felt this a
hundred times while I have been writing and revising the foregoing
pages. I was wanting in humility. There were some kinds of pride from
which I was probably free; but there were others of which I had more
than my share. And I was lacking in meekness. I could control myself and
keep quite calm in a public debate; but could be angry and resentful in
other cases. I was not sufficiently forbearing. I was not sufficiently
forgiving.

And I was too critical, too pugnacious, too controversial. I was too
much in the habit of looking for defects in what I heard and read;
defects in style; errors in thought; mistakes in reasoning; faults in
arrangement; and improprieties in manner and spirit.

Considering that I was to a great extent self-taught, that much that I
learned I learned after I had become almost a man, this perhaps was
natural; but it was a disadvantage. It would have been better if I had
sought only for the true, the good, the beautiful in what I heard, and
read, and saw. I ought, perhaps, instead of exercising my critical
powers on others, to have contented myself with exercising them on my
own character and performances, and with endeavoring in all things to
set an example of what was worthy of imitation. It may be that I was
_naturally_, _constitutionally_ critical; but that does not make it
right or wise. I ought to have warred with my constitutional
propensities, and to have kept my critical tendencies within the bounds
of prudence and charity.

But this wisdom was too high for me in my early days, and I fear that
while I was pressing attention to practical matters on others, I was
myself too much busied in doctrinal matters. I was too zealous _against_
certain doctrines while rebuking others for being too zealous _for_
them. While they were too doctrinal and controversial positively, I was
too doctrinal and controversial negatively. They erred in going too far;
I was too zealous in pushing them back.

In many things my enemies were wrong: but there were other things in
which I was not right. They were very foolish; and I was far from wise.
I see it, I feel it all, and I lament it too. And still I feel the
remains of my old defects and vices clinging to me. I have still great
need of the mercy of God, and of the forbearance and kind consideration
of my brethren. God help me, if it be not too late, to improve both in
wisdom and in Christian virtue. My Gracious God, it is Thy wish that Thy
people 'should be conformed to the image of Thy Son, that He might be
the first-born among many brethren.' Oh, if I could but approach that
point, and be worthy to take some humble place as a brother of that
glorious embodiment of all moral and spiritual excellence, what would I
not give,--what would I not do! If it be possible,

     Make me, by thy transforming love,
       Dear Saviour, daily more like Thee.

And while the blessed process of transformation is going on, keep me, O
Thou Friend and Saviour of mankind, from every evil word and deed, and
from every great and grievous error.


_Explanation Fifth. Theology and Theologians._

If any think I have been too severe in my remarks on theology and
theologians, and on the preachers who mock their hearers with
theological vanities, and puzzle them with their senseless theological
dialect, let them read the remarks of the Rev. Joseph Parker, D. D., G.
Gilfillan, Albert Barnes, John Wesley, Richard Baxter, and others on
this subject. Quotations from their writings may be found farther on in
the volume. We would give a few of their remarks here, but we must now
hasten on with our story.



CHAPTER XII.

THE STORY CONTINUED. WHAT FOLLOWED EXPULSION. DESPERATE WORD FIGHTING.
ABUSE.


I was expelled on a Saturday afternoon. I was unable to stay till the
closing scene, as I had an engagement to preach anniversary sermons on
the Sunday, some thirty miles away. But the news soon reached me, and I
received it with strange and indescribable emotions. I felt that
something very important had happened,--that I was placed in a new and
serious position, and was entering on a new and untried way of life; but
I little dreamt what the results would be. I expected an eventful
future, but not the kind of future that was really waiting for me. I
anticipated trials, and sorrows, and great changes; but how strangely
different the realities have proved from what I anticipated in my
fevered dreams! But I had strong faith in God, and a firm trust in His
all-perfect Providence, and no one saw me tremble or turn pale.

I had not been expelled long when I found myself face to face with a
terrible host of trials. Some who had promised to stand by my side took
fright, and left me to my fate. Some found their interests were
endangered by their attachment to me, and fell away. Some were
influenced by the threats of their masters, and some by the tears and
entreaties of their kindred, and reluctantly joined the ranks of my
enemies. Some thought I should have yielded a point or two, and were
vexed at what they called my obstinacy. There were fearful and
melancholy changes. People who had always heretofore received me with
smiles of welcome, now looked cold and gloomy. Some raged, some wept,
and some embraced me with unspeakable tenderness; while some wished me
dead, and said it had been better for me if I had never been born.

One man, a person of considerable influence, who had encouraged me in my
movements, and joined me in lamenting the shortcomings of the Connexion,
and in condemning the conduct of my opponents, no sooner saw that I was
doomed, than he sent me a most unfeeling letter. I met the postman and
got the letter in the street, and read it as I walked along. It pained
me terribly, but it comforted me to think that it had not fallen into
the hands of my delicate and sensitive wife. That no other eye might see
it, and no other soul be afflicted with the treachery and cruelty of the
writer, I tore it in pieces, and threw it into the Tyne, and kept the
matter a secret from those whose souls it might have shocked too rudely
for endurance.

Another man, who had said to me a short time before my expulsion, that
whoever else might close their doors against me, his would always be
open, proved as faithless as the basest. I called one day at his shop.
As soon as he saw me, he turned away his eyes, and stood motionless and
speechless behind the counter, as if agitated with painful and
unutterable passion. I saw his family move hurriedly from the room
behind the shop to another room, as if afraid lest I should step forward
into their presence. The man kept his door open sure enough, his _shop_
door; but his heart was closed, and he never spoke to me more as long as
he lived.

One day I went with a brother of mine to the house of a tradesman near
Gateshead, a member and a leading man in the New Connexion, on a matter
of business. As soon as the person saw me, he began to abuse me in a
very extravagant manner. I had always had a favorable opinion of the
man, and I quietly answered, "I can excuse your severity; for you no
doubt are acting conscientiously." "That is more than I believe you are
doing," he answered, and turned away.

There was great excitement throughout the whole Connexion. And while
many were transported with rage, great numbers took my part. The feeling
in my favor was both strong and very general. One-third of the whole
Connexion probably separated from my opponents, and formed themselves
into a new society. Several ministers joined them, and had not the
chapels been secured to the Conference, it is probable that the greater
portion of the community would have seceded. As it was, the existence of
the Body seemed in peril, and the leaders found it necessary to strain
every nerve to save it from utter destruction.

And they were not particular as to the means they used. Before my
expulsion even my enemies had considered me a virtuous, godly man, and
acknowledged me to be a most laborious and successful minister. Now they
fabricated and circulated all manner of slanderous reports respecting
me. One day they gave it out that I had broken my teetotal pledge, and
had been taken up drunk out of the gutter, and wheeled home in a
wheelbarrow. Then it was discovered that I had not broken my pledge, but
I had been seen nibbling a little Spanish juice, so it was said I was
eating opium, and killing myself as fast as the poison could destroy me.

At another time it was said I had gone stark mad, and had been smothered
to death between two beds. A friend came, pale and dismally sorrowful,
to condole with my wife on the dreadful catastrophe, and was himself
almost mad with delight when he found that I was in the parlor writing,
as well and as sane as usual.

Then it was reported that I had applied for a place in the ministry
among the Calvinists, though I had up to that time professed views at
variance with Calvinism, and had even objected to be a hired minister.
When I called for the names of the parties to whom I had made the offer,
and engaged to give a large reward if my slanderers would produce them,
they found it was another Joseph that had applied for the place, and not
Joseph Barker. But the death of one slander seemed to be the birth of
two or three fresh ones. And sometimes opposite slanders sprang up
together. "If he had been a good man," said one, "he would have stopped
in the Connexion quietly, and waited for reform!" "If he had been an
honest man," said another, "he would have left the Connexion long ago,
and not remained in a community that he thought in error." I had been
"too hasty" for one, and "too slow" for another. One wrote to assure me
that I should die a violent death in less than eighteen months. Another
said he foresaw me lying on my death-bed, with Satan sitting on my
breast, ready to carry away my soul to eternal torments. One sent me a
number of my pamphlets blotted and torn, packed up with a piece of wood,
for the carriage of which I was charged from four to five shillings.
Another sent me a number of my publications defaced in another way,
with offensive enclosures that do not admit of description.

At one time it was reported that I had died suddenly at Leeds. "After
lecturing there one night," the story said, "a certain person got upon
the platform to oppose me, and I was so frightened, that I first turned
pale, then fainted, and in two hours breathed my last." I was preaching
at Penrith, in Cumberland, some seventy or eighty miles away, at the
time I was said to have died at Leeds.

Some weeks later it was rumored that I had destroyed myself at Otley.
The maker of the tale in this case had been very particular, and given
his story the appearance of great truthfulness. He said I had gone to
lecture at Otley, and on my arrival there, was found to be more than
usually thoughtful and depressed. I lectured with my usual freedom and
power, but seemed oppressed with some mysterious sorrow. After the
lecture, instead of going along with my host, I unaccountably
disappeared, and though my friends sought for me and inquired for me all
about the town, I was nowhere to be found. In the morning, as the son of
my host was seeking for some cows in a wood on the side of the Chevin,
he found me dead and cold, with my throat cut, and the razor in my hand
with which I had done the deadly deed. The news soon spread, and my body
was taken back to Otley, where an inquest was held. The verdict was that
I had died by my own hand, in a fit of temporary insanity.

These stories were printed and published, and circulated through the
whole country. They were shouted aloud in the street opposite my own
door, in the hearing of my wife and family, during my absence. At first
my wife and children were terribly alarmed when they heard men crying,
"The melancholy death of Mr. Joseph Barker." But they got so used to me
dying and destroying myself in time, that they took such matters more
calmly, especially as I always came again, and appeared no worse for the
terrible deaths through which I had been made to pass.

For a year or two my enemies published a periodical called _The Beacon_,
every page of which they filled with malignant slanders. The loss of
members exasperated them past measure. The danger which threatened the
Connexion drove them mad. They took up evil reports respecting me
without consideration. They looked on all I did with an evil eye, and
recklessly charged me with wicked devices which had no existence but in
their own disturbed imaginations. One charged me with having acted
inconsistently with my views with regard to the use of money, and
another with having acted inconsistently with my belief with regard to
baptism. Any tale to my discredit was welcome, and the supply of
slanderous tales seemed infinite. They wrested my words, they belied my
deeds, they misinterpreted my motives, they misrepresented the whole
course of my life, and the whole texture of my character.

One of the pitiful slanders circulated by my enemies was the following.
My custom was, when I went out to lecture, or to preach anniversary
sermons, to charge only my coach fares, rendering my services gratis.
For eighteen years I never charged a penny either for preaching or
lecturing. But the people of Berry Brow, near Huddersfield, said I had
charged them thirty shillings for preaching their anniversary sermons,
and the Conference party took the trouble to spread the contemptible
charge through the Connexion.

The facts of the case were these: I had an engagement to preach
anniversary sermons at Hanley, in the Staffordshire Potteries. The Berry
Brow people heard of this, and as I had to pass their place on my way to
Hanley, they requested me to spend a Sabbath with them, and preach
_their_ anniversary sermons. I did so, and charged them thirty
shillings, about one-third of the expenses of my journey, taking the
other two-thirds from the Hanley people. This was all.

Of course such matters would not be worth naming, if it were not to show
how much there was in the conduct of my persecutors to give me a dislike
to their character, and to prejudice me against their views.

That you may have an idea of my labors as a preacher, take the following
account of one week's work, when I was lecturing against the infidel
Socialists, previous to my expulsion. I had preached three times on the
Sunday, walked six miles, and attended to several other duties. At half
past ten at night I started by stage coach for Bolton, a hundred and
fifty miles away. I travelled all night, and all next day, outside the
coach. It was winter, and the weather was very cold. About six in the
evening I reached Bolton. At half past seven I began my lecture, in a
place crowded almost to suffocation. After the lecture, I had an hour
and a half's debate. Between eleven and twelve I went to bed. I spent
next day mostly in writing. At half past seven I began my second
lecture, with a congregation more closely packed than the night before.
The lecture was followed with a somewhat longer debate. This continued
five nights. On Friday night I got to bed about twelve. At half past two
I started in an open gig for Manchester, twelve miles off. The morning
was very cold. There was a severe frost and a thick fog. At Manchester I
took the coach for Newcastle, and I rode outside all day, until half
past ten at night. The Sunday following I preached three times again.
And in this way I labored for nearly two years. I paid all my own
expenses. I also engaged and paid a person to preach for me, and to
attend to my other duties in the circuit, during the week. If there was
a loss at my meetings I bore it myself; never asking any one for aid.
And at times I had heavy losses. At Manchester once, after giving five
lectures, I was eleven pounds out of pocket. At Birmingham I had a loss
of thirty-seven pounds on five lectures. That was about the hardest week
I ever had. My tongue got rather white. My food lost its relish. My
thoughts kept me awake after I lay down in bed sometimes, and sometimes
awoke me after I had gone to sleep. I caught myself drawing long breaths
at times. Money came into my head at prayer, though none came into my
pocket. I did not even ask for that. I met with Combe's work on
digestion and read it, but it did not help me much, either in digesting
my food, or my heavy loss. But I made no complaints. I did not even tell
my wife till long after, when I was prosperous and comfortable again.
And none of those who heard my lectures, saw in me any sign of
discouragement. I lectured to my small audience as earnestly as if the
vast amphitheatre had been crowded. And I paid the whole loss out of my
own pocket, asking help from neither stranger nor friend.

Just about this time Mr. Hulme, the son-in-law of my chief persecutor,
set afloat a story that I was getting immensely rich by my lectures, and
demanded that I should hand over my gains to the Connexional funds. I
could hardly help wishing that he had been compelled to take one-half of
my Manchester and Birmingham gains.

I never charged more than two-pence, I seldom charged more than a penny,
for admission to my lectures: but such were the crowds that attended,
and such was the readiness of my friends in different places to help me
without charge, that in nine cases out of ten I had a surplus. I had
forty pounds in hand with which to pay the loss of thirty-seven at
Birmingham. Besides, I sold large quantities of my pamphlets, and they
yielded me a profit, though I sold my works eighty or ninety per cent.
cheaper than my envious brethren sold theirs.

After my expulsion I worked harder than I had done before. The following
is only a part of one week's work. I preached three times on the Sunday;
twice to immense crowds in the open air. The time between the three
meetings I spent in talking, writing, and walking. I walked fifteen
miles. On Monday I wrote a lengthy article for my periodical, the
_Christian Investigator_. At night I lectured to a crowded audience, and
had a three hours' discussion after. About one I got to bed. At five I
was up to take the coach to Manchester. At Manchester I carried a heavy
pack two miles to the railway station. I went by train to Sandbach, then
walked about twenty-three miles to Longton, carrying my carpet bag, and
some thirty pounds weight of books, on my shoulder. It was a hot day in
June. At Longton I preached an hour and a quarter to about five thousand
people in the open air, and had a lengthy discussion after. How I slept,
I forget. I believe I was feverish through the night. In the morning my
nose bled freely, and I was better. I walked six, eight, or ten miles
daily, carrying my bag and books along with me, and preaching, or
lecturing and discussing, every night. I did this daily for weeks, and
months, and years. And I never charged a penny for my labors. And I had
no salary. I supported myself and my family by the sale of my cheap
publications.

Yet one of the slanders circulated by my enemies was, as I said, that I
acted inconsistently with my published views on the use of money. I
taught, as Wesley had taught, and as Jesus and Paul had taught, that a
man should not lay up _for himself_ treasures on earth,--that money was
a trust from God, to be used in His service, for the good of mankind.
And I acted on these principles. I did not lay up a penny for myself on
earth. I employed all I received in doing good, hardly spending enough
on myself and family to purchase the barest necessaries. But my enemies
found I had placed fifty pounds _on interest_, in the hands of Mr.
Townsend; and away went the charge of inconsistency, hypocrisy, and what
not, through the country. There was no inconsistency at all in what I
had done.

It was a principle with me, never to go into debt. And my plan was,
never to begin to print a book, till I had, in the first place, got the
money ready to pay the expense of printing, and, in the second place,
reconciled myself to lose the money in case the book did not sell. At
the time I placed the fifty pounds in the hands of Mr. T., I was
preparing to print a book that would cost me thrice that amount. I did
print it, and paid the expense in cash, according to my principles and
plan. I follow the same plan still: my printers like it; and so do I. I
owed a dollar and a half at the close of last year. The thought of it
troubled me, not much, but still a little, during the watch-night
services at Siloam church. I had only owed the sum ten hours, and I paid
it next morning, but still, the thought of the debt made the ending of
the old year, and the beginning of the new one, a trifle less happy than
they might have been, if I had been entirely straight with all the
world.

In some cases, when I went out to lecture, the leading ministers of the
Connexion would come to my meetings, and exciting discussions followed.
These injured the Connexion still more, for I invariably gained the
sympathy of the audience. On some occasions my enemies behaved in such a
manner as to provoke my audiences past endurance, and uproar followed;
and the greatest coolness on my part, and the employment of all my
influence, were necessary to keep the more excitable of my friends from
resorting to violence.

Very curious incidents took place sometimes, strangely confounding my
opponents, and making the impression on my friends, and on myself as
well, that God had specially interfered on my behalf. On more than one
occasion, when discreditable tales were told of me by my opponents, some
one in the audience who knew the facts, would rise and testify in my
behalf, and publicly convict my slanderers of falsehood. In one case, at
Dudley, Mr. Bakewell, who had always taken a leading part against me,
charged me before a crowded audience, with having baptized a child of
certain parents, at Hawarden in Wales, a hundred miles away, after I had
declared my belief that it was improper to baptize children. He adduced
some testimony in support of his statement, which seemed to satisfy many
in the audience that I had been guilty of inconsistency. What could I
do? I had nothing to oppose to his testimony and his pretended proofs,
but my solemn denial of the statement. Most happily for me, as soon as
my opponent took his seat, a lady rose, towards the farther end of the
room, with a baby in her arms. "I wish to speak," said the lady. The
people near her helped her to step upon a seat, that she might be seen
and heard to better advantage. "_I_ am the mother referred to by Mr.
Bakewell," said the lady, "and this is the child. Mr. Bakewell's
statement is untrue. Mr. Barker did not sprinkle my child. He only named
it, and asked God's blessing on it. Here is my husband, and he can
testify to the truth of this statement." The lady stepped down and the
husband rose. "I am the Richard Burrows mentioned by Mr. Bakewell. This
is my wife, and that is our child. Mr. Barker did not baptize it. Mr.
Bakewell's statement is false." That settled the question. The feeling
against my slanderer was tremendous. The people would not hear him speak
another word.

It had so happened that Mr. and Mrs. Burrows had been obliged to remove
from Wales to the neighborhood of Dudley, and had just arrived at their
new home. Hearing that I was lecturing at Dudley, they hastened to the
meeting, and got there just in time to hear my opponent mention their
names in support of his charge of inconsistency. What could be more
natural than that I and my friends should regard this remarkable and
happy incident as a gracious interposition of Providence in our behalf?

The conduct of my opponents had a most injurious effect not only on my
own mind, but on the minds of my wife and children. We came to look on
New Connexion Methodist preachers as some of the worst of men,--as the
very essence or embodiment of deceit and malignity; and our respect for
Methodist preachers generally, and even for Methodism itself, was
greatly abated. The consequence was, we were prepared to move in almost
any direction that would take us farther away from our old associates,
and we all became, to some extent, anti-Methodistical in our feelings
and sentiments.

Exciting meetings like the one at Dudley took place in almost every part
of the country. The numbers attending them were so great that no room
could hold them, so that I generally had to speak in the open air. And I
lectured almost every night, and often through the day as well; and
every lecture was followed with discussion. When opponents did not rise
to assail me, friends rose to consult me, and our evening meetings often
continued till nearly midnight. And I preached three times on a Sunday.
And after every meeting there was a crowd of friends anxious to talk
with me, or have my counsel about the formation or management of
societies. Some had heard strange stories about me, and wanted to know
whether they were true or not. Others had had discussions with
opponents, and wished to tell me how they had fared. Some had been
puzzled with passages of Scripture quoted by opponents, and they wished
to know my views of their meaning. Some were sick, and wanted my
prayers. Some wanted prescriptions as well as prayers, and I was obliged
to be a physician as well as a preacher and reformer. Reports of cures
wrought by my means led many to believe I had the gift of healing, and
sufferers sought my aid wherever I made my appearance.

While one-half of each day was taken up with talking, another half was
taken up with writing. I had hundreds of letters to write, and hundreds
upon hundreds of all kinds of letters to read. I had, besides, a new
periodical on hand, for which I was expected to provide the principal
part of the articles. And special attacks on me or on my views required
a constant succession of pamphlets.

In addition to my press of work, I had no small share of anxiety. My
wife was greatly tried, and saw no prospect of a speedy end to her
trials. When expelled I was living in the preacher's house, and had the
preacher's furniture, and many in the circuit considered that I had a
right to them, and advised me to keep them, and set the Conference
partly at defiance. I however refused to retain possession of property
with a doubtful title, and gave all up. And now I had not a chair on
which to sit, nor a bed on which to sleep. And the little money I had
was wanted for the printers. My friends provided for me in a way, but
not in the way to satisfy an anxious mother. One child was taken by one
family, and another by another, while I and my wife were accommodated by
a third. And one of the children was unkindly treated, and the rest were
not content; and no house could be a home to my wife which was not her
own; and no condition could make her content while deprived of the
company of her children. And I saw her heart was the seat of fearful
conflicts.

For several months I went through my arduous and ceaseless labors, and
my varied and exhausting trials, without apparent injury to my health.
At length, however, continual excitement, intense thought, ceaseless
anxiety, the foul air of close and crowded rooms, perpetual travelling,
loss of sleep, lack of domestic comforts, unhealthy food, and trials of
other kinds without end, so exhausted me, that I found it difficult to
rise from my chair, or to steady myself on my feet. To walk was quite a
task,--a really painful one. I had a difficulty in putting one foot
before the other. It was a labor to drag myself along. A walk of two or
three miles quite wearied me. And when I got to my journey's end, my
lungs lacked power to utter words; my brain lacked energy to supply
thoughts; and lecturing and preaching became a weariness. When I sat
down to write, my pen seemed reluctant to touch the paper. My mind
shrank back from its task. In my ignorance of the laws of life, I
charged myself with idleness, and tried to spur myself on to renewed
activity. The attempt was vain. One afternoon I ventured to lie down and
treat myself to an after-dinner nap. I slept three hours. I had no
engagement that night, and feeling still unaccountably sleepy, I
slipped off to bed about eight o'clock. I slept till nearly nine next
morning. I slept an hour or two more after dinner. At night I slept
about ten hours more. Next day I felt as if my strength was running
over. I could do anything. My pen seemed to point to the paper of
itself, as if anxious to be writing. Walking was a pleasure. I could
preach or lecture without effort. Words, thoughts, and feelings were all
at hand to do my bidding. What I had charged on myself as idleness, was
strengthlessness, the result of sheer exhaustion.

I had suffered so much from the intolerance of my old colleagues, that I
now resolved to be subject to no authority whatever but God and my own
conscience. And I kept my resolution. I would neither rule nor be ruled.
The extreme of priestly tyranny, from which I had suffered so
grievously, had begotten in me the extreme of religious license. I have
seen since, that a man may have too much liberty, as well as too little;
too little restraint as well as too much; and that a church without
authority and discipline must inevitably lose itself in confusion and
ruin. We are none of us fit for unlimited liberty: we all need the
supervision, and counsels, and admonitions, of our Christian brethren.

After my separation from the Methodist New Connexion I became the pastor
of a church in Newcastle, which had left the Connexion on account of my
expulsion. The trustees had legal and rightful possession of the large
and nice new chapel there, and they and the other officials of the
church were both dissatisfied with the doings of Conference, and
desirous to secure me as their minister. They were aware of my
admiration of the Quakers, and of my leaning towards some of their
peculiar views and customs. They were also acquainted with my way of
preaching, for I had travelled in that Circuit some years before, and I
had preached for them frequently while stationed at Gateshead. They knew
my character too, and were acquainted with all my conflicts with the
ruling party in the Connexion from which I had been expelled. And though
they did not think exactly as I thought on every point, they saw nothing
in my views but what they could freely tolerate. They were satisfied
that I was conscientious; and they considered my general deportment to
be highly exemplary. And they knew I was a hard-working and successful
minister. One of the leading members was a printer, and had been
consulted by the Annual Committee of the New Connexion in reference to
my communications to them about the publication of cheap books by the
Book-room. They thought my statements were extravagant; he told them
they were very near the truth, if not the truth itself. This gentleman
was one of the most eager now to arrange for my settlement as a minister
in Newcastle. The officers and members of the church generally were
disposed to consult my feelings and meet my views. They did not require
me to be a hired or salaried minister. They knew the wants of my family,
and they would provide for them. They would appoint a person to baptize
children. They were not particular about theological niceties. They had
read my writings; they were acquainted with the controversies that had
taken place between me and my opponents; and they were satisfied that I
was right on every point of importance; and that was enough. And they
liked my simple, earnest, practical style of preaching. So everything
was comfortably arranged.

We united on the principle laid down in my article on "_Toleration,
Human Creeds_," &c. The Bible was our creed: the Bible was our law-book;
though we were still, on the whole, methodistical, both in doctrine and
discipline. Numbers of other churches were organized on the same
principle, in various parts of the country; and several young preachers
left the body to which I had belonged, or were expelled on account of
their attachment to me, and became their ministers. And the churches
prospered. Numbers of people joined them, both from the world and from
other religious communities.

For nearly two years things went on very happily at Newcastle, and the
church was very prosperous. I labored to the utmost extent of my powers.
I preached twice every Sunday to my own congregation, and once to
another congregation at Gateshead, or in the country. I visited the
churches also in every part of the land, preaching and lecturing
continually.

All this time my old opponents continued their abuse. Though I
relinquished no Christian doctrine, and added to the truth no dreams or
speculations of my own, but employed myself continually in preaching the
great practical principles of the Gospel, and in urging my hearers to
love and good works, they assailed me with the bitterest hatred. And the
more the churches with which I was connected prospered, the more
furiously my enemies raged.

And when people left other denominations to unite with my friends,
ministers and members of those denominations joined my opponents in
their evil work. They preached abusive sermons and published abusive
pamphlets. There was eager, angry controversy on every hand. Hard words
were used on both sides. The feelings of both parties were heated to a
high pitch. And as is usual in such cases, both parties, under the
influence of their passions, came to the conclusion that their opponents
were neither sound in doctrine, nor good in character.

Towards the close of the second year I got into trouble at Newcastle. A
religious reformer of the name of George Bird came to the town. His
father was a clergyman in the Church of England, and he himself was
rector of Cumberworth. He was recommended to me by some of my friends
who lived near Cumberworth, and as he was wishful to spend some time in
Newcastle and the neighborhood, I took him into my house, and gave him a
home. He had published a book on the Reform of the Church of England,
urging the abolition of a number of abuses, and recommending the
restoration of what he considered true Christian discipline. His idea
was, that Christians should meet for religious _worship apart_ from
people of the world,--that though preachers might _preach_ to mixed
audiences, they should reserve their singing and praying, and all that
was strictly worship, for assemblies of Christians alone. He recommended
that the members of the church should meet first, in a place apart, or
in a part of the chapel marked off for themselves, and go through their
devotions all alone, and that the sermon, addressed both to believers
and unbelievers, should be quite a separate service. He had passages of
Scripture, and church tradition, and considerations of fitness and
propriety, by which he recommended his doctrine, and to some they proved
convincing. I began myself, after thinking the matter over for awhile,
to have a leaning towards his views. My friends could so far tolerate
the new views, that they allowed Mr. Bird to preach in their chapels,
letting some one else conduct the singing and praying parts of the
service. But when they found that their own minister began to look with
favor on the new plan, they became alarmed. They could tolerate
peculiarities in others, but they were not disposed to appear before the
world as reformers and innovators themselves. Nor would they allow their
minister to go any farther in the way of reform than he had gone before
they had accepted him as their pastor. They had reconciled themselves to
the changes of which he had been the subject previous to his special
connection with them, but they would have no new ones. He might go back
a little if he pleased, but not forwards.

Both my friends and I were placed in a trying position. I was bent on
compliance with whatever seemed to be the requirements of the Gospel,
and my friends, who had no misgivings on the subject of public worship,
were resolved not to tolerate a change. I kept the usual course as long
as I could do so without self-condemnation, but at length was
constrained to change. One Sunday night I preached from the concluding
words of the Sermon on the Mount,--"Therefore whosoever heareth these
sayings of Mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which
built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods
came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for
it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of
Mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which
built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods
came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and
great was the fall of it." I reviewed the sayings of Christ referred to
in the text. I dwelt at some length on the passage about praying in the
synagogues and in the corners of the streets. The congregation was very
large, and the sermon was unusually impressive. Some said they had never
heard me preach with so much power. As I drew towards a close, I
referred again to the words on public prayer, and gave what appeared to
me to be their meaning. I remarked, that I felt bound to comply with
what I believed to be the command of the Saviour, and that I must
therefore decline to conclude the service in the usual way, by a public
prayer, and request the disciples of Christ to retire to their homes and
secret places to pray.

The result was exceedingly painful. The confusion was dreadful. Some,
who had never thought on the subject before, and who had probably
listened to me that evening without comprehending properly my meaning,
were horrified. The officers of the church, who had accepted me as their
minister in the belief that I should never try them by anything new in
my views or proceedings, were grieved beyond measure. One of them said
to me at a meeting the following evening: "You have committed a crime,
compared with which the sin of him who betrayed his Lord for silver, was
honor and piety!" This, of course, was madness, if not blasphemy. But it
helps to show the fearful difficulties that lie in the way of the man
who feels himself called to be a religious reformer. And it tends to
show the tempest of excitement in which, for so long a period, it was my
lot to live.

The result of this last step in my reforming career was, that almost all
the richer and more influential members of the church deserted me, and
some even of the less influential followed their example. This however
did not change my determination to do what I believed to be the will of
God. Nor did it dispose me to hesitate longer before making changes when
they seemed to be called for by the teachings of Christ. On the
contrary, it led me to resolve, that I would hold myself more at liberty
to follow the revelations of truth and duty than ever. I blamed myself
for having accepted the situation of a regular minister, blamed myself
for having allowed myself to be influenced so much by a regard to the
judgments and feelings of others. I felt a kind of pleasure at length,
when I found the leading friends who had held me so much in check, were
gone. I attributed their departure to my fidelity to Christ, and to my
growing conformity to His likeness; and I resolved to labor more than
ever to come to the perfection of Christian manhood, "to the measure of
the stature of the fulness of Christ." I comforted myself with the
thought that Jesus had been deserted, betrayed, and persecuted, before
me; and felt happy in the assurance, that if I "suffered with Him, I
should also be glorified with Him."

I now resolved to speak and write and act more freely than ever. I would
no longer keep my thoughts to myself till I was thoroughly convinced of
their truth, but submit them to the consideration of my friends as soon
as they assumed the appearance of probability. I would think aloud. I
would search to the bottom of all things, and make known the result
without reserve. I would favor a free and fearless discussion of every
subject. And I would reduce to practice everything inculcated by Christ
and His Apostles, however much at variance it might be with the customs
of the Church. I would rid myself of prejudice. I would take nothing on
trust. Old things should now, at last, pass away, unless they were found
to form part of the doctrine of Christ; and all things should become
new. And what I purposed, I did, to the best of my ability. I arranged
for meetings of the church, at which we sang and prayed, and endeavored
to instruct and comfort one another, and provoke each other to love and
good works. When this church meeting was over, I ascended the pulpit,
and addressed the public congregation. We changed the manner of
conducting class-meetings, encouraging the members to read hymns, or
portions of Scripture, or extracts from any instructive book, or to
speak to each other for comfort or improvement. I would be no longer
_the_ teacher of the church, but only _one_ of its teachers.

That I might be able to support my family without the aid of the church,
and so feel myself thoroughly free and independent, I resolved to
commence business as a printer. I bought a press, and type, and all the
other requisites of a printing-office, and set to work. Elizabeth Pease,
a good kind Quakeress of Darlington, gave me thirty pounds to help me in
my undertaking, and others, nearer at hand, assisted me according to
their ability. I engaged a man to work for me, and teach me how to work
myself, for I was quite a stranger to the business. I soon was able both
to set up type and work the press, though the pressure of other work
prevented me from excelling in either of those lines. Before long I had
two men at work. But my workmen were not so faithful as they should
have been, and it cost me more to print my works myself, than it had
done to get them printed by others. I got a foreman, but he used my
office to carry on a business of his own, instead of doing what he could
for mine, and I was obliged to turn him off, and pay him a considerable
sum to keep him from troubling me with a law-suit. A short time after, a
very unpromising-looking young man came and asked me for a place in my
printing establishment. He was hardly a young man, in fact, but just a
half-taught random-looking kind of boy. I asked what he could do. To my
unspeakable astonishment he told me that the place he wanted was that of
foreman. I smiled, and looked on the poor creature as a simpleton. But
though he seemed a little disconcerted, he was not to be abashed. He
told me, that if I would give him a trial, he would let me see whether
he could manage the office or not. "But how can you manage the men?"
said I. Nothing however would satisfy the poor boy but a trial, and I,
under some kind of influence, agreed to give him one. What the men
thought when he took his place, I don't know; but they seemed to act on
the principle, that as I had made him foreman, they must obey his
orders; and obey him they did, and to my agreeable surprise, everything
went on in a satisfactory manner. The youthful foreman, who turned out
to be a sensible, modest, hard-working, honest young man, did well from
the first, and improved every year, and remained with me, giving
satisfaction both to me and to my men, so long as I continued in
business.

I had many fearful trials to pass through after I offended the leading
members of my congregation by giving up singing and prayer at public
meetings, and a heavy loss entailed on me by the dishonesty of one of
those leading members was not the least.

Ever since the time when I first became an author, I had acted as my own
publisher and bookseller, sending out parcels to my friends, keeping
accounts, and doing the whole work of a Book-room. When I engaged to be
minister of the church in Newcastle, and became servant of the
newly-formed churches all over the country, Mr. Blackwell, the printer
referred to on page 175, advised me to put the book-selling business
into the hands of Mr. Townsend, another leading official of the church.
"You have work enough," said he, "and too much, in preaching, lecturing,
writing, and travelling, and Mr. Townsend can do the book-selling better
than you. He is a business man; he understands book-keeping; and he will
conduct the business in an orderly and efficient manner." It had always
been a principle with me never to go into debt, and I said to Mr.
Blackwell, who was then my printer, "If you will give me a guarantee
that no debt shall be incurred,--that you will never print anything till
Mr. Townsend has paid you for all work previously printed, I will agree
to your proposal." He gave me his word that he would do exactly as I
requested. Mr. Townsend was accordingly made wholesale agent for my new
periodical, and for all my other publications, and all my stock of books
was placed in his hands. For fifteen or eighteen months I gave myself no
concern about matters of business, trusting to Mr. Blackwell to keep
things right, according to his pledge.

Mr. Townsend had another business besides my book concern, the china and
earthenware business, and about eighteen months after my business was
placed in his hands, he went into Scotland to dispose of a quantity of
his surplus stock. He had only been gone a few days before word came
that he was dead. It then came out that Mr. Blackwell had allowed him to
run up a debt of nearly seven hundred pounds for printing. It also came
out that Mr. Townsend was insolvent. He had been in difficulties for
years, and he had used the money he had received for my books to prevent
his creditors from making him a bankrupt. His journey to Scotland was
his last shift, and failing in that, he had taken opiates, it was said,
to such an extent, as to cause death. The dreadful revelations that were
laid before me shocked and troubled me beyond measure, and I knew not
what to do. Mr. Blackwell, through whose neglect or unfaithfulness the
debt had been incurred, exhorted me not to be alarmed, assuring me that
he should never trouble me for the money. So I set to work to gather up
the fragments of my property, and re-organize the business. I got in
what money I could from the agents, and gave it, along with all I could
earn, to Mr. Blackwell, to reduce the debt, though it was not in
reality a debt of mine. I gave him also a sum belonging to my wife,
which she had just received as a legacy. I gave him all that came into
my hands, except a trifle that I spent in procuring food for my family;
and in eight months I had reduced the debt to two hundred and thirty
pounds.

It was while I was exerting myself to pay off this debt that I offended
the leaders of my congregation by giving up public worship. The person
who said that in doing so, "I had been guilty of a crime, compared with
which that of Judas in selling his Master, was honor and piety," was
this same Mr. Blackwell. When I began to print for myself, he demanded
the instant payment of the remaining two hundred and thirty pounds, and
followed the demand by legal proceedings. A friend, Mr. John Hindhaugh,
who had heard how I was situated, and who had also heard that Mr.
Blackwell had said that he would soon put a stop to my printing, went
and paid the amount demanded, and brought me the receipt, and said, that
if ever I found myself able, I might repay him the amount, but that I
must by no means put myself to any inconvenience. In course of time I
repaid my friend, and was once more out of debt.

It was just while tried by this sad affair, that I formed the resolution
to throw off all restraints of prevailing creeds and customs, and enter
on a career of wholesale and untrammelled investigation and discussion.
I was not in the fittest state of mind to do justice to the forms of
Christianity in favor with the churches. On the contrary, the influences
to which I had been long subjected, and the peculiar state of excitement
in which I was still living, could hardly fail to carry me into
extremes. No matter, I set to work. I printed thousands upon thousands
of hand-bills, announcing a three months' convention and free discussion
in my chapel, and had them posted and distributed all round the country.
Free admission and freedom of speech were promised to all comers. Among
the subjects announced for discussion were, the Trinity, the Godhead of
Christ, the Atonement, Natural Depravity, Hereditary Guilt, Eternal
Torments, Everlasting Destruction, Justification by Faith alone, the
Nature of Saving Faith, What is a Christian? Trust in the Merits of
Christ, Instantaneous Regeneration, Christian Perfection, the direct
Witness of the Spirit, the Sabbath Question, Non-resistance, Peace, War,
and Human Governments, Law-Suits, the Credit System, Toleration and
Human Creeds, the Church, the Hired Ministry, Public Prayer, Public
Worship generally, Preaching, Sunday Schools, Freedom of Thought,
Freedom of Conscience, Class-Meetings, and the Duty of the Church to its
Poor Members.

The chapel was kept open every day, and every day, when not called out
of town, I delivered one or two lectures on one of those subjects,
stating my own views on the point, and my reasons for holding them, and
then calling on any one that might differ from me, to state his views in
reply. The chapel was generally crowded, and the discussions were often
very animated. Persons of various denominations took part in them, and
people came from almost every part of the country to witness the
proceedings. My principal opponent, for a portion of the time, was
George Bird, the rector of Cumberworth, who had inoculated me with his
views on public worship. He was very orthodox on many points, while I,
on some points, was leaning towards Latitudinarianism. We had, at times,
very exciting contests. Mr. Bird was exceedingly anxious to gain a
victory, both for himself and for his views. And he was not particular
as to the means he employed to accomplish his object. He was very
unfair. He could not, or he would not, refrain from personal abuse, nor
from misrepresentations of my views and statements. I was severe enough
in my criticisms, but I never was knowingly, and I do not think I was
often even unintentionally, unjust to an opponent. I never charged
people with saying what they did not say, and I never forced a meaning
on their words which they were not intended to express. And if at any
time an opponent charged me with misquoting his words, or with
misrepresenting his meaning, I always accepted his corrections or
explanations. Nor did I indulge in personal abuse. Nor did I lose my
temper. I did my utmost to be just to all, and when I could not exhibit
much esteem or love for an opponent, I tried to be respectful.

The records of those long-continued and strange debates are, I am sorry
to say, lost. But while they were proceeding I drifted further away, on
some points, from the views maintained by orthodox communities. I am not
aware however that I went much further than Wesley went during the
latter years of his life. I found, not only in Scripture, but in the
sermons of Wesley, and in the writings of Baxter, who was a favorite
with Wesley, what seemed to me fully to justify all that I had taught on
the great doctrines of Christianity up to this period.

I gave up the _Christian Investigator_ at the end of two years, and as
two of my friends were anxious to publish a periodical, I refrained for
a time from commencing another, to give them a better chance of success.
I also helped them by writing for them, at their request, a number of
articles for the earlier numbers of their work. Their attempt however
proved a failure. The work contained a heap of Antinomian and
Millenarian nonsense, and my readers had no taste for such stuff; and
the work was given up, and the Editors shortly after left me and my
friends, and joined the Plymouth Brethren, repaying me for my kindness
by treachery and abuse. One of them published a tract when he took
himself away, exhorting my friends to be on their guard lest they should
be led by me into anti-christian error. Their conduct towards me
altogether, as I thought, was unjust and dishonorable, and though they
are now both dead, I can think of no good excuse for the way in which
they acted. But God is judge.

I now laid aside the name of _Methodist_ and adopted that of
_Christian_, and I commenced a new periodical, bearing the same title. I
made it, as I had made my other periodicals, the organ of my own mind,
the vehicle of my own thoughts on every subject of importance that
engaged my attention. My writing was simply free and friendly talk with
my readers on matters in which we were all greatly interested. And the
work contains the history of the changes which took place in my views
during the period of its publication.

While publishing _The Christian_, I published a multitude of pamphlets.
In answer to a pamphlet by the Rev. W. Cooke, in which I was roughly and
unjustly handled, I published seven letters entitled _Truth and Reform
against the World_, signing myself _A Christian_. In these letters I
spoke with the greatest freedom both of myself and of my opponents, as
well as on a great variety of other subjects. I exposed a number of what
seemed extravagant or unguarded statements made by my assailant with
regard to the Scriptures. I also published a work on _The Hired
Ministry_. My tracts on _Saving Faith_ and _The Atonement_ came out
about the same time. My aim in these latter publications was to free the
subject of Saving Faith and the doctrine of the Atonement from needless
mystery, by separating from the teachings of Christ and the Apostles on
those points, the bewildering and mischievous additions of ignorant
theologians. I did not deny the doctrine of salvation by faith in
Christ, but only showed that the faith in Christ spoken of in the New
Testament was simply a belief in Him as the Messiah, leading us to
receive and obey His teachings, and to trust in Him for salvation. Nor
did I deny the doctrine of redemption or atonement; but simply
endeavored to put what the New Testament said on these subjects in its
true light. In most of those works, if not in all of them, there are
evidences of undue excitement, and in many of them there are passages
which, in one's calmer and more candid mood, one is obliged to condemn.

I extended my investigations to all religious subjects, endeavoring to
bring my views and proceedings on every point into perfect harmony with
the teachings of Christ and His Apostles. I also did my best, in
connection with my friends, to carry into practice in our church at
Newcastle what we regarded as the New Testament principles of discipline
and church government. The following were among our regulations:--We
would have no fixed payments. All must be given freely. There must be no
charge for admission to the church feasts. We would support our poor
members. We would deal with offenders according to the instructions of
Christ: first, tell them of their faults between them and us alone, &c.,
&c.

We encountered many difficulties in our attempts to carry out some of
our principles. Some, that were able to contribute, were too selfish to
do so, and left the expenses of the church to be met by the generous
few. They would eat like gluttons at the church feasts, but give nothing
towards paying for the provisions. Some seemed to enter the church to
get supported in idleness out of its funds. This seemed to be the case
especially with a blind beggar. He spared no pains in making known his
connection with the church, and its generosity in supporting him, to the
public. This brought in a number of others who were wishful to be
supported. But many of these people, after joining the church, refused
to work. It was plain that we must either give up the attempt to carry
out our generous principles, or else adopt some method of testing people
before admitting them as members, and some wise system of discipline and
government with regard to those already admitted. But we had said so
much about unlimited liberty, that we could do neither the one nor the
other without breaking up the church and building it up anew; and it
seemed too late to do that. So we dragged along as well as we could.
Some lost patience, and went to other churches. Some came to the
conclusion that Christianity as laid down in the New Testament was
impracticable, and so became skeptical. Some kept aloof from all the
churches, but still retained their faith in Christianity, and their
attachment to the principles to which we had given prominence.

At one period I lectured frequently on Peace. The Quakers aided me in
obtaining rooms for my lectures, and supplied me with money to pay my
travelling expenses; and the Backhouses and Peases of Darlington, and
the Richardsons and others of Newcastle, contributed to the support of
my family. I met with some of the best and most agreeable people I ever
knew, among the Quakers. Many of them were remarkably liberal and
enlightened in their views, not only on religion, but on many other
subjects. I was astonished at the extent of their reading, and at the
amount of knowledge they possessed. And they had a wonderful amount of
charity towards other religious denominations. They believed the
churches were doing much good, and rejoiced in their usefulness, though
they could not always join them in their labors. I also found that in
their dealings with each other, they were exceedingly conscientious. One
Friend had recommended another, a lady, to invest her money in some
mining speculation, which he believed was likely to prove profitable.
She did so, and lost her money, or received no interest from it. The
Friend who had counselled the investment, took the shares, and returned
the lady her money. This, I believe, was not a thing by itself, but a
sample of Quaker dealings with each other. I learned some useful lessons
from the Quakers, and I received from them many favors. I retain many
pleasant recollections of my intercourse with them, and expect to think
of them with pleasure to my dying day.

After I ceased to receive a salary for preaching, I and my family were
often in straits, and at times we seemed on the very verge of
starvation. My printing business did not pay its own expenses at first,
and for several years after it began to yield a profit, the profit was
required for new presses, new type, or had to lie dead in the shape of
increased stock of publications. And I had no income from property. Yet
in every case when we seemed to be reduced to extremities, supplies came
from some quarter or other. Sometimes I knew the hand by which
assistance was sent, but at other times my benefactors remained unknown.
There was one good Christian, John Donaldson, who was always ready with
his help. He not only aided me by many gifts, but busied himself to
induce his friends to send mo aid. He gave the first subscription
towards a steam press; and when the press was bought, he sent a sum to
purchase the first load of coals to get up the steam, to put the press
in motion.

On one occasion, while I was lecturing in the South, nearly two hundred
miles away from home, I failed to receive the supplies I expected from
the agents for my publications, and my family seemed likely to be out of
provisions before I could send them help. My wife and children had begun
to feel uneasy and afraid. That day a man came up to the door with a
cart-load of provisions. "Does Mr. Barker live here?" said the man to my
eldest son, who had answered the knock at the door. "Yes," answered my
son. "I have brought you some things," said the man, "some flour, and
potatoes, and things." "They are not for us," said the poor little
fellow, "my father is away." "But this is Mr. Barker's, is it not?" said
the man. "Yes," said my son, "Then it is all right," said the man, "I
was told to leave them here," and he began to unload. Both children and
mother were afraid there was some mistake, but the man went on
unloading, and stocked the house with food for weeks to come.

A day or two before, my wife and children had been talking to each
other, and expressing their apprehensions, as I had not been able to
send them any money, that they would soon be without anything to eat.
One of the children said, 'Let us pray, mother: perhaps God will send us
something.' They all knelt down, and both mother and children prayed:
and when they saw the abundant supplies with which the cart had stocked
the house, they believed that God had sent them in answer to their
prayers.

I refused to buy paper, or type, or anything, on credit, and I was often
at a loss, when my stock of paper was almost out, to know where the
money was to come from to get a fresh supply. And I had not so much
faith as G. Müller of Bristol; at any rate, my faith did not give me the
same pleasant assurances that I should receive what I desired, that
Müller's faith gave him. I am inclined however to think that I had not
so much trust in Providence, as I ought to have had. I certainly had not
so much as I have now. But then, I am better off now than I was then.
But I was lacking, to some extent, in Christian trust in God, as well as
in resignation to His will, and hence my uneasiness. Many a time when I
laid myself down on my bed at night, instead of going to sleep, I spent
long hours in thought about my business, looking in every direction for
a prospect of supplies to enable me to pay the wages of my men, and
purchase paper. The first thing was to think of all the men that owed me
money,--to consider which of all the number would be likely to send me
remittances in time, and to reckon up the sums, to see if they would
enable me to meet the demands upon me. The next thing was to do the same
thing over again; and the next, to do it over again a third time. All
this was accompanied with long and deep-drawn sighs, which were listened
to by a fond and wakeful bedfellow, who silently sympathized with me in
all my trials, and who was as restless and anxious as myself. Sometimes
I moaned, and sometimes I prayed; and when I was wearied out with my
fruitless labors, I fell asleep. It would have been better, if I could
have done it, to have "given to the winds my fears," and lost myself in
peaceful and refreshing slumbers; for generally, on the following
morning, the needful supplies arrived. They seldom came from the parties
from whom I expected them, but they came notwithstanding.

One day, towards the close of the year, my stock of paper was very low,
and I had nothing with which to purchase a fresh supply. Next morning a
letter came, enclosing thirty-five pounds, a Christmas gift from friends
in Ireland.

On one occasion, when I was unwell, a gentleman whom I had never seen,
and whom I have not seen yet in fact, sent me forty pounds, to enable me
to spend a month at some hydropathic establishment. He had read a number
of my publications, and had been pleased with them, and having learned
in some way that I was not well, had sent this proof of his kind regard.

There was one man in Newcastle, a wealthy man, who said to me, "Come to
me whenever you are in difficulty, and you shall have whatever you
need." I was often in difficulties, but hesitated to ask his help. One
day, however, after having waited for supplies from other quarters as
long as I durst, I went to him, and stated my case. He kept me waiting
an hour or more, and then said, "No." I turned away ashamed and sad. A
friend whom I encountered on my way home, said, "What is the matter with
you? Are you ill? You look bad." I was obliged to tell him my story. "Is
that all?" said he. "We can soon put that right." And he gave me,
unasked, as much as I needed.

While we were struggling with our other difficulties, my wife was taken
ill. The house in which we lived was badly drained, or rather, the
drains being out of order, the offensive materials from other houses
lodged under the floor of our cellar kitchen, and sent forth, through
the floor, deadly effluvia. In this cellar kitchen we were obliged to
live. I was so much from home, and when at home was so much in the open
air, travelling to my appointments, and even when in the house, I spent
so much of my time in an upper room writing, that I took no harm. It was
otherwise with my poor wife. She had to be in this room almost all day
long, and often till late at night. The result was a deadly attack of
fever. She had felt unwell for some days, but had still gone on with her
work, and sought no medical advice or help. At length, as she was going
to bed one night, she fainted on the stairs. The stairs were very steep,
and the point at which she lost her consciousness was a most dangerous
one, and it seemed a miracle that she had not fallen back to the bottom
and been killed. But somehow she fell only a step or two. My eldest son
heard there was something the matter, and ran to see what it was. There
he found his poor, darling mother apparently dead, in the middle of the
steep and winding staircase. How he did it, I do not know, nor does he,
but though he was only a child of about thirteen years of age, he took
his mother, and by some mysterious means, carried her up the remainder
of the stairs, placed her on her bed, and then stood sorrowing and
trembling till she came to herself. She was ill thirteen weeks. For two
or three weeks she seemed on the point of death. On my return, late one
night, from one of my engagements, ten miles away in the country, I
found her strangely changed for the worse. She looked at me with a look
I can never forget. She thought she was dying. I thought so too. Her eye
said, Death; her whole expression said, Death. I burst into tears, and
gave what I thought was my last fond embrace. She had power to utter
just one sentence: it was an expression of tenderness and kindness, more
kind and tender than I deserved; and then fell back on her pillow, as if
giving up the ghost. But she lived through the night, and she lived
through the following day, helpless and speechless, yet still breathing.
She recovered, and remained with us to comfort and guide and bless us
for nearly thirty years, and then, alas, all too soon apparently, for
those who loved and all but adored her, she passed in peace to the
worlds of light.

I believed myself all this time engaged in the service of my Maker, and
I regarded the arrival of seasonable help from time to time, as a proof
that I was an object of His tender care, and that my labors had His
smile and blessing. Why did I not trust Him more fully?

By the time I had carried on my printing business for four or five
years, the outlay for type, and presses, and other kinds of printing
apparatus, became much less, while my income from the sale of books
became much greater, and I found myself able, at length, to purchase
whatever I needed as soon as I wanted it. By-and-bye I had money always
on hand. The relief I felt, when I found myself fairly above want and
difficulty, was delightful beyond measure.



CHAPTER XIII.

CONTACT WITH UNITARIANS, AND DOWNWARD TENDENCY TO DEISM.


I had now for some time been gradually approaching the views of the more
moderate class of Unitarians. Some of my friends, when they saw this,
became alarmed, and returned to their old associates in the orthodox
communities; others got out of patience with me for moving so slowly,
and ran headlong into unbelief; while the great majority still chose to
follow my guidance.

Two of my Quaker friends, who had aided me in my peace lectures, waited
upon me and said, that it would be necessary for me, if I meant to
continue to lecture in connection with the Peace Society, not to allow
myself to be known as holding heterodox views. I answered that I would
not submit to one hair's breadth of restraint, nor to a feather's weight
of pressure; and the consequence was, the withdrawal of all assistance
and countenance from the orthodox portion of the Quakers in every part
of the country.

The Unitarians had long been observing our movements, and when they
found us coming so near to their views, they began to attend our
meetings, and to court our company. At first we were very uneasy at
their advances, and shrank from them with real horror; but our dislike
and dread of them gradually gave way. They were very kind. They lent us
books, and assisted us with the loan of schools and chapels. They showed
themselves gracious in many ways. And after the cruelty we had
experienced from other parties, their kindness and sympathy proved very
agreeable. I read their works with great eagerness, and was often
delighted to find in them so many sentiments so like my own. I had read
some of Channing's works before, and now I read them all, and many of
them with the greatest delight. I read the work of Worcester on the
Atonement, of Norton on the Trinity, and of Ware on a variety of
subjects. I also read several of the works of Carpenter, Belsham,
Priestley, and Martineau. Some of those works I published. I also
published a work by W. Penn, "The Sandy Foundation Shaken," which some
thought Unitarian. I came at length to be regarded by the Unitarians as
one of their party. They invited me to preach in their chapels, and
aided me in the circulation of some of my publications. I preached for
them in various parts of the country. I was invited to visit the
Unitarians in London, and I preached in most of their chapels there, and
was welcomed by many of the ministers and leading laymen of the
Metropolis at a public meeting. When my friends raised a fund to
purchase me a steam printing press, many Unitarians gave liberal
subscriptions. Several of their leading men attended the meeting at
which the press was presented, and took a leading part in the
proceedings.

I had not mingled long with the Unitarians before I found that they
differed from one another very much in their views. Some few were Arian,
some were Socinian, and some quite Latitudinarian. Some admired
Priestley, some Carpenter, some Channing, and some Parker. Some looked
on Channing as an old fogy, and said there was not an advanced or
progressive idea in his writings; while others thought that everything
beyond Channing bordered on the regions of darkness and death. Some
looked on the Scriptures as of divine authority, and declared their
readiness to believe whatever they could be proved to teach: others
regarded the Scriptures as of no authority whatever, and declared their
determination to accept no views but such as could be proved to be true
independent of the Bible. Some believed Jesus to be a supernatural
person, commissioned by God to give a supernatural revelation of truth
and duty, and empowered to prove the divinity of His mission and
doctrine by supernatural works. Others looked on Christ as the natural
result of the moral development of our race, like Bacon, Shakespeare, or
Baxter. They looked on miracles as impossible, and regarded all the
Bible accounts of supernatural events as fables. They were Deists. One
I found who declared his disbelief in a future life. There was a gradual
incline from the almost Christian doctrine of Carpenter and Channing,
down to the principles of Deism and Atheism.

While in London I became acquainted with Dr. Bowring, afterwards Sir
John Bowring. He was one of my hearers at Stamford Street Chapel, and
complimented me, after the sermon, by calling me the modern John Bunyan.
He had been pleased with the simplicity of my style, and the familiar
and striking character of my illustrations. He invited me to his house,
showed me a multitude of curiosities, which he had collected in his
travels round the world, made me a present of part of a skull which he
had taken from an Egyptian Pyramid--the skull of a prince, who, he said,
had lived in the days of Joseph,--he also made me a present of his
works, including five volumes of translations from the Poets of Russia,
Hungary, and other countries, and some works connected with his own
eventful history. Dr. Bowring was a member of Parliament, and he took me
to the House of Commons, introduced me to a number of the members, got
me into the House of Lords, and did all in his power to make my stay in
London as pleasant as possible.

Another London gentleman who was very kind was Dr. Bateman, the Queen's
Assistant Solicitor of Excise. He took me to several assemblies, at one
of which, besides a number of the great ones of the land, I was
introduced to a New Zealand chief, a strong-built, broad-set,
large-headed, lion-looking man. It was hinted that he knew the taste of
human flesh, and was probably thinking at that moment, what rich
contributions some of the youthful and well-fed parties who were paying
their respects to him, would make to a New Zealand feast. At one of
those assemblies there was a tremendous crowd, and I lost my hat, and
some body else must have lost his, for I got a magnificent and
strange-shaped head-cover, that might have distinguished, if not
adorned, the greatest magnate of the land.

Dr. Bateman and Dr. Bowring showed me kindness in other ways, obtaining
for me and my friends large grants of books, contributing to the fund
for the purchase of a steam press to be presented to me, and inducing a
number of their friends to contribute. I was also introduced to Dr.
Hutton, minister of Carter Lane Chapel, and preached and lectured in his
pulpit. And I visited the meeting-place of the Free-thinking Christians,
was introduced to the leading members of the society, and was presented
with their publications. I preached at Hackney Chapel, where I had
William and Mary Howitt as hearers, who were introduced to me after the
sermon, invited me to spend some time at their house, showed me the
greatest possible kindness, and did as much as good and kind people
could do to make my stay in London a pleasure never to be forgotten.

A meeting was called in the Assembly room of the Crown and Anchor, or
the city of London Tavern, to give me a public welcome to London, and a
great number, the principal part, I suppose, of the London Unitarians
met me there, to give me a demonstration of their respect and good
wishes. I spoke, and my remarks were very favorably received; and so
many and kind were the friends that gathered round me, and so strange
and gratifying the position in which I found myself, that I seemed in
another world. The contrast was so great between the treatment to which
I had so long been accustomed in the New Connexion, and the
long-continued and flattering ovation I was receiving from so large a
multitude of the most highly cultivated people in the country, that if I
had lost my senses amid the delightful excitement it could have been no
matter for wonder.

But it was more than I was able to enjoy. I longed for quiet. I wanted
to be at home with my wife and children, and in the society of my less
distinguished, but older and more devoted friends. I fear I hardly
showed myself thankful enough for the honor done me, or made the returns
to my new friends to which they were entitled. They must have thought me
rather cool in private; but they knew that I had been bred a Methodist,
a plain Methodist, and had lived and moved among Methodists of the
plainer kind, and never before been fairly outside the Methodist world.
And some of them knew that I had not much time for pleasure-taking,
sight-seeing, and the current kind of chat, or even the multiplication
of new friends and acquaintances. They knew too that I had a business
which required my attention, and a vast quantity of letters to answer,
and parties calling for my help in almost every part of the country.

I was happy at length to find myself at liberty to leave the metropolis,
and my many new, agreeable and generous friends and acquaintances there,
and return to quieter and calmer scenes, and more customary occupations,
in the country.

But I never was permitted to confine myself within my old circle of
acquaintances, and my old sphere of labor, after my visit to London.
Accounts of my London meetings were given in the Unitarian newspapers
and periodicals, and spread abroad through the whole country. The result
was, I received invitations to preach and lecture from almost every town
of importance throughout the kingdom, and from many places that were not
of so much importance; and many of those invitations I was induced to
accept. I visited Bristol, and had a welcome there as gratifying and
almost as flattering as my London one. I was introduced to all the
leading Unitarians there, and had a grand reception, and a course of
lectures in the largest and most splendid hall in the city. And the
place was crowded. I visited Bridgewater, Plymouth, Exeter, and
Tavistock, with like results. And then I had calls to Yarmouth, Lynn,
Bridport, Northampton, Taunton, Birmingham, Sheffield, Hull, Manchester,
Liverpool, Bolton, Stockton, and other places without number. And
everywhere I found myself in very agreeable society, and in every place
I met with real, hearty, and generous friends. It is true I met with
some who had little of religion but the name; but I met with others, and
that in considerable numbers, who really feared and loved God, and who
were heartily desirous to promote a living practical Christianity among
their neighbors. These were delighted to see and hear a man who, while
he held to a great extent their own religious views, was full of
Methodistical zeal and energy, and who had power to attract, and
interest, and move the masses of the people. They regarded me as an
Apostle of their faith. They believed the millennium of enlightened and
liberal Christianity was at hand. They hearkened to my counsels, and set
to work to distribute tracts, to improve their schools, to establish new
ones, to organize city missions, to employ local preachers, and to
circulate books of a popular and rousing character. And both they and I
believed that a great and lasting revival of pure unadulterated religion
was at hand. And it took some time to dissipate these pleasant hopes,
and throw the well disposed and more pious part of the Unitarians down
into the depths of despondency again. But the melancholy period arrived
at length.

You cannot kindle a fire and keep it burning in the depths of the sea.
And it is as hard to revive a dead or dying church, especially when its
ministers and schools are supported by old endowments, and when many of
its most influential members have caught the infection of infidelity,
and become mere selfish, flesh-pleasing worldlings.

And this was the case with Unitarians. Many of the trustees, and a
considerable portion of the wealthier members, cared nothing for
religion. Others had no regard for anything about Christianity but the
name and a little of the form. Some had such a hatred of what they
called Methodist fanaticism, that they shrank from any manifestation of
religious life or earnestness. And they had such a horror of cant, that
they canted on the other side. Their talk about religion was little else
but cant. Their talk about cant itself was cant. They had quite a
dislike of any thing like religious zeal, and had a dread of any one who
had been a Methodist, especially if he retained any of his Methodistical
earnestness. The word unction was a term of reproach, and the rich,
invaluable treasure for which it stood was an offence. They wished to
enjoy themselves in a quiet, easy, self-indulgent, fashionable way, and
have just so much of the form and appearance of religion as was
requisite to a first class worldly reputation. They had no desire to be
regarded as skeptics or unbelievers; that would have been as bad as to
have been reputed Methodists; but they would have nothing to do with any
schemes or efforts for the revival of religious feeling in their
churches, or with any interference with the customary habits or quiet
worldliness of their peaceable neighbors. Some, and in certain districts
many, even of the poorer members, were utterly indifferent, and in some
cases even opposed, to any religion. In some cases both rich and poor
had become grossly immoral. Their churches had degenerated into eating
and drinking clubs. The endowments were spent in periodical feasts.
There were also cases in which the chapel and school endowments had
fallen into the hands of individuals or families, who looked on them and
used them very much as private property. The schools and congregations
had disappeared, and even the chapels and school-houses were rapidly
hastening to ruin.

And there was everywhere a tendency downward from the Christian to the
infidel level. If churches do not labor for the conversion of the world,
and endeavor to become themselves more Christ-like and godly,
degeneracy, and utter degradation and ruin are inevitable. And the
tendency, at the time to which I refer, throughout the whole little
world of Unitarianism was downwards to utter unbelief. In many minds
there was as much impatience with old-fashioned moderate Unitarianism,
as with old-fashioned Christianity or Methodism. They wanted preachers
who would openly assail the doctrine of the divine or special
inspiration of the Bible, and the supernatural origin of Christianity,
and try to bring people down or up to the pagan or infidel level of mere
sense and reason.

The Unitarians required no profession of faith; so that deists and
atheists had the same title to membership as believers in Christ. They
administered the Lord's Supper, but they had no church discipline, so
that people defiled with the filthiest vices had the same right to
communicate as people of the rarest virtues. Even the ministers were not
required to make any profession of faith, so that deists and atheists
were admitted, not only into the churches, but into the pulpits.

I was not aware of these things when I first became identified with the
Body. It is possible that the Body was not so corrupt at that time as it
was after. Any way, at the time of my return from infidelity to
Christianity, both deists and atheists were among the ministers. If any
find it hard to believe these things, let them read my pamphlet on
Unitarianism, where they will find testimony from leading Unitarians
themselves, to the truth of these statements.

Whatever encouragement therefore certain portions of the Unitarian Body
might give to a man like me, the influence of the Body generally was
sure to render my labors of little or no avail. If the more religious
portion of the ministers and members had been willing to come out from
the Body, and leave their old-fashioned buildings and endowments behind
them, they might have done some good; but this they were not prepared to
do. Many even of the better class of Unitarian ministers were fond of a
quiet literary life. They were students, scholars, and gentlemen, rather
than preachers and apostles. They were too good to be where they were,
and yet not robust, and daring, and energetic enough to make their way
into more useful positions. And their style of preaching was not
popular. It never would have moved the masses. Indeed much of it would
have been unintelligible to the kind of people who crowded to my
meetings. They could not therefore have moved into my sphere without
exposing themselves to want. If some one could have gone and helped them
in their own work, in their own spheres, it might have answered for
them; but it would not have answered for them to come out and battle
with the rude, coarse, outside world. And even if good, earnest
ministers had gone to their aid, it would have caused a rupture and
division in the church.

My labors therefore could do little more than rouse the better portion
of the Body to a temporary zeal and activity, and transfer a number of
my friends to their communion.

And I and my friends were out of our place, and out of our element, in
their society. The earnest words we spoke were not 'like fire among dry
stubble;' but like sparks falling into the water. Instead of us kindling
them, they extinguished us. The 'strong man armed' who had got
possession of the Unitarian House, was _too_ strong to be overpowered
and cast out by anything short of a miracle of Omnipotence. And that was
out of the question. Christ can save individuals, but not churches. To
members of a dead or depraved church his words are, 'Come out of her, my
people.' And there was, and there is, no revival, no salvation, for
Unitarians, but by their abandonment of the Unitarian fellowship, and
their return to Christ as individuals. So you may guess what followed. I
had got where it was impossible for me to do others much good, even if I
had been better myself, and where it was impossible for me to prevent
others from doing me most serious harm. I was on an inclined plane,
tending ever downward, with all surrounding influences calculated to
render my descent every day more rapid.

Down this inclined plane I gradually slid, till I reached at length the
land of doubt and unbelief. My descent was very slow. It took me several
years to pass from the more moderate to the more extravagant forms of
Unitarianism.

When I first read the works of Dr. Channing, though I was delighted
beyond measure with many portions of his writings, I had a great dislike
for some of his remarks about Christ and the Atonement. And when I first
resolved to publish an edition of his works, I intended to add notes,
with a view to neutralize the tendency of his objectionable views; but
by the time I got his works into the press, those views appeared
objectionable no longer.

I still however regarded portions of Theodore Parker's works with
horror. His rejection of miracles, and of the supernatural origin of
Christianity, seemed inexcusable. And many a time was I shocked while
reading his "_Discourse on Matters pertaining to Religion_," by the
contemptuous manner in which he spoke of portions of the sacred
Scriptures. I was enchanted with many parts of the book; but how a man
of so much learning, and with such amazing powers, and with so much love
and admiration of Christ, and God, and goodness, could go to such
extremes seemed a mystery. And I resolved, that if ever I published an
edition of _his_ works, I would add a refutation of his revolting
extravagances. Yet time, and intercourse with the more advanced
Unitarians, brought me, in a few years, to look on Parker as my model
man.

When I first heard an Unitarian say, "Supernaturalism is superstition,"
I gave him to understand that I did not feel easy in his company. "You
are right," said Dr. Bateman, "Pay no regard to such extreme views:
preach your own old-fashioned practical doctrines." This made me feel
more at ease. Yet the gentleman who spoke to me thus, as I afterwards
found, was himself on anti-supernaturalist. But he saw that I had to be
dealt with carefully,--that I was not to be hurried or argued, but led
gently and unconsciously, into ultra views. This was the gentleman that
busied himself more than any other in obtaining subscriptions towards
the steam press. He professed to like my supernatural beliefs much
better than the anti-supernatural views of the extremer portion of his
brethren. And perhaps he _did_ like them better, though he had lost the
power to believe them himself. But whether he liked them or not, he won
my confidence, and gained an influence over me, which an honest avowal
of his opinions, and especially an open attempt to induce me to accept
them, would have rendered it impossible for him to gain.

Strange as it may seem, I still retained many of my old methodistical
habits, and tastes, and sensibilities. My mind was still imbued to a
considerable extent with true religious feeling. My head had changed
faster than my heart. And I still took delight in reading a number of my
old religious books. And I had no disposition to indulge myself in
worldly amusements. I could not be induced to go to a theatre, or even
to a concert. I would not play at draughts or chess. I hated cards. And
all this time I held myself prepared to defend, in public discussion,
what I considered to be the substance of Christianity. An arrangement
was actually made for a public debate on Christianity about this time,
between me and Mr. Holyoake. It was to take place at Halifax, and I
attended at the time, and stated my views in two lectures; but Mr.
Holyoake did not attend. He was prevented from doing so by illness, it
was said.

Some of the publications which I issued about this time, in reply to one
sent forth by the Rev. W. Cooke, led to a public discussion between me
and that gentleman, in the Lecture-room, Newcastle-on-Tyne. Mr. Cooke
was a minister--the ablest minister--in the Body to which I myself had
formerly belonged. The list of subjects for debate included the
following:--"What is a Christian? What is the Scripture doctrine with
regard to the Atonement? What is Saving Faith? What do the Scriptures
teach with regard to Original Sin, or Natural Depravity, The Trinity,
The Divinity of Christ, The Hired Ministry, and Future Punishment?"

The discussion lasted ten nights, and every night the room was crowded
to its utmost capacity. The excitement was intense. And it pervaded the
whole country. There were persons present from places nearly two
hundred miles distant. Hugh Miller, the Scotch geologist, was there one
night. As usual, both parties considered themselves victorious. And both
were right. Neither the truth nor the error was all on one side; nor was
the argument. Christianity was something different from the creed of
either party, and something more and better. It was more and better than
the creeds of both parties put together. My opponent, though something
of a Christian, was more of a theologian. He was committed to a system,
and could not see beyond it, or dared not accept any views at variance
with its doctrines. Hence he went in direct opposition to the plainest
teachings of the Scriptures, and the clearest dictates of common sense.
He found it necessary also, to spend a portion of his time in foolish
criticisms on Greek and Hebrew words, and in efforts to make the worse
appear the better reason. As for myself, I was committed to change. I
was travelling downwards at the time, at a rather rapid rate, and was
not to be turned back, or even made to slacken my pace. The ordinary
kind of theological vanities I regarded with the utmost contempt, and I
had come to look on some portions even of Christ's own teachings as
nothing more than doubtful human opinions. I held to the great
foundation truths of religion, and to the general principles of
Christian truth and duty, and, I will not say, defended them, for they
needed no defence beyond their own manifest reasonableness and
excellence,--but stated them both with sufficient clearness and fulness.
But neither party was in a state of mind to learn from the other. War,
whether it be a war of words, or a war of deadlier weapons, tends
generally to widen the differences and increase the antipathies of the
combatants. And so it was here. And one party certainly went further and
travelled faster in the way of error after this exciting contest than he
had done before.

And greater extremes produced more bitterness of feeling in my
opponents. One man wished me dead, and said to a near relation of mine,
"If there was a rope round his neck, and I had hold of it, I would hang
him myself." And this was a man remarkable, in general, for his meekness
and gentleness. Another said he "should like to _stick_ me:" but _he_
was a butcher. Another person, a woman, said, "Hanging would be too
good for him: hell is not bad enough for him." There was one even among
my relations that would not speak to me; a relation that before had
regarded me with pride. At some places where I was announced to lecture,
men organized and plotted to do me bodily injury, and in some cases they
threatened me with death. On more than one occasion I had narrow escapes
with my life. Once I was struck on the head with a brick, which almost
took away my consciousness, and came near putting an end to my life. On
another occasion I was hunted by a furious mob for hours, and had
repeated hair-breadth escapes from their violence. One man advocated my
assassination in a newspaper, and the editor inserted the article, and
quietly gave it his sanction.

All this was natural, but it was not Christian, nor was it wise. "The
wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." Hard bricks have no
tendency to soften a man's heart. These attempts to force me into
submission made me more rebellious. They roused my indignation to the
highest pitch, and fearfully increased my hatred of the churches and
their creeds, and made me feel as if I ought to wage against my
persecutors an unsparing and eternal war.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE BIBLE QUESTION. INSPIRATION, INFALLIBILITY. HISTORY OF MY VIEWS ON
THE SUBJECT.


A PRAYER.

Help me, O Thou Great Good Father of my spirit, in the work on which I
am now about to enter. Enable me, on the great and solemn subject on
which I am now to speak, to separate the true from the false, the
doubtful from the certain, the important from the unimportant. And may I
be enabled to make all plain. And save me, O my Father, from going too
far. Let me not run to any extreme. Yet enable me to go far enough. May
I not, through needless fear, or through any evil motive, be kept from
speaking anything that ought to be said. I am Thine, O my God; use me
according to Thy will, for the service of Thy Church, and for the
welfare of the world. I am every moment accountable to Thee; help me so
to speak that I may be at peace with my own soul, and have a sweet
assurance of Thy approbation. Fill my soul, O my Father, with the spirit
of love, of truth, of tenderness, and of all goodness. Guide Thou my
pen, and control my spirit. Grant that I may so write, that I may do
some good and no harm. May Thy people endeavor to do justice to what I
say. If any one, through error or evil disposition, should do me wrong,
help me to bear the trial with Christian meekness and patience. And may
the time at length come, when the religion of Christ, so full of truth
and love, shall be understood and embraced by all mankind, and when by
its blessed and transforming power the earth shall become the abode of
purity, and love, and bliss. AMEN.

       *       *       *       *       *

It may not be amiss to state now, how far I had gone at this time, with
regard to my views on the Bible.

1. I remember a time, when I believed that the Bible in which my father
read, came down direct from God out of heaven, just as it was. I looked
on it as simply and purely divine.

2. I afterwards learnt that the Bible was printed on earth, and that it
was a translation from other books which had been written in Greek and
Hebrew.

3. But I still supposed that the Greek and Hebrew Bible was wholly
divine, and that the translation was as perfect as the original.

4. I next learned that the translation was _not_ perfect,--that the
translators were sometimes in doubt as to the meaning of the original,
and put one meaning in the body of the page, and another in the
margin,--that in other cases they had misunderstood the original, and
given erroneous translations. I sometimes heard preachers correcting the
translation of passages, and when I came to read commentaries and other
theological works, I found the authors doing the same thing.

5. I then found that there were several translations of the Scriptures,
one by Wesley, one by Campbell, and others by other men, and that they
all differed from each other, and that none of them could be regarded as
wholly correct. When I read the Notes of Adam Clarke on the Bible, I
found that he often differed from all the translators, and that in some
cases he differed from them very widely.

6. I still supposed that the originals were perfect; that in them we had
the words of God just as they came from His own mind.

7. But I afterwards found that there were several originals,--or at
least several Greek and Hebrew Bibles,--and that they also differed from
each other to some extent, and that none of them could be said to be
entirely free from error.

8. I learnt from Adam Clarke and others that the printed Greek and
Hebrew Bibles had been compiled from _manuscripts_,--or from Bibles, or
portions of the Bible, written by the hand, before the art of printing
was known.

9. I also found that those manuscripts differed from each other, in a
great many places, and that in some cases they differed on points
supposed to be of considerable importance, and that it was impossible to
tell which of the manuscripts were most correct.

10. I also learnt, that all existing manuscripts were copies of other
manuscripts, and that the real original books, the books written by
Moses and the Prophets, and by the Evangelists and Apostles, were all
lost, so that it was impossible to tell, with absolute certainty,
whether any of the manuscripts were absolutely correct,--that when the
best and ablest men on earth had done their utmost, there would still be
room for doubt as to the true reading, as well as to the correct
meaning, of various portions of Scripture.

11. I next learned that there were differences of opinion among critics
and divines as to whether certain books ought to have a place in the
Bible or not. In my father's Bible there were several books called the
Apocrypha. Some of these were very interesting. I used to read them with
a great deal of pleasure. And large portions of others, especially those
called _The Wisdom of Solomon_, and _Ecclesiasticus_, seemed as good, as
true, and as beautiful as anything in the Book of Proverbs. My parents
however told me, that those books were not to be put on a level with
the other books of the Bible,--that there was some mystery about their
origin, and that there was some doubt whether they were really a part of
the word of God.

12. I afterwards learnt though, that they were regarded as part of God's
word by the Catholics, and I continued to read large portions of them
with much satisfaction and profit.

13. I also learnt from Adam Clarke and others, that there had been
doubts in the minds of some of the ancient Christians with regard to the
right of some of the Epistles and of the Book of Revelation to be
admitted as parts of the Bible. And I afterwards found that the Book of
Revelation was excluded from the Bible by the Greek Church, and by
Luther as well:--and that Luther had but little regard for the Epistle
of James, one of the finest portions of the whole Bible as I thought.

14. I further learnt that some had doubts as to the right of Solomon's
Song to a place in the Bible, and I found that even Adam Clarke did not
believe that it had any spiritual meaning.

All these were facts; and I learned them all from Christian authors of
the highest repute for learning and piety. And so long as things went on
smoothly, they had not, so far as I can remember, any injurious effect
on my mind. But when, after having been harassed for years by the
intolerance of my brethren, I was expelled from the ministry and the
church, and finally placed in a hostile position with regard to the
great body of Christians and Christian ministers, I began to see, that
those facts were incompatible with the views and theories of the divine
inspiration and absolute perfection of the Bible held by my opponents. I
came very slowly to see this, and after I saw it I was slow to speak on
the subject in my publications; but the time to see and to speak arrived
at length.

One of my New Connection opponents, by repeated charges of infidelity,
and by statements about the Scriptures which I knew he could not
maintain, got me into controversy on the subject. Then I uttered all
that was in my mind. I showed that many of the things which he had said
about the Bible were not true,--that they were inconsistent with plain
unquestionable facts,--with facts acknowledged by all the divines on
earth of any consequence, and known even to himself and his brethren.

While engaged in this controversy I made discoveries of other facts
inconsistent with the views of my persecutors, and pressed them upon my
opponent without mercy. And the violent and resentful feeling excited by
his unfairness, dishonesty and malignity in defending the Bible, led me
probably to be less concerned for its claims than I otherwise should
have been. Suffice it to say, I came out of the debate with my savage
opponent, not a disbeliever in the Bible or Christianity, but with views
farther removed from those which he contended for, and with feelings
much less hostile to heterodox extremes perhaps than those with which I
entered it.

Among the views I was led to entertain and promulgate with regard to the
Bible about this time, were the following.

1. We have no proof that the different portions of the Bible were
absolutely perfect as they came from the hands of the writers. The
probability is on the other side. For if an absolutely perfect book had
been necessary for man, it would have been as necessary to _keep_ it
perfect, as to _make_ it perfect. And as God has not seen fit to _keep_
it perfect, we have no reason to suppose that He made it so.

2. But in truth, to write an absolutely perfect book in an imperfect
language, is impossible. And all human languages are imperfect. The
Hebrew language, in which the greater part of the Bible was written, is
very imperfect. And it seems to have been much more imperfect in those
times when the Bible was written, than it is now. And the Greek
language, in which the remainder of the Bible was written, was
imperfect. And the Greek used in the New Testament is not the best
Greek;--it is not the Greek of the Classics.

3. And both Greek and Hebrew now are _dead_ languages, and have been so
for many ages. This renders them more imperfect in some respects: it
makes it harder in many cases to ascertain the sense in which words, and
particular forms of expression, are used by the writers. With regard to
the Hebrew, we have no other books in that language, written in those
early ages when the different parts of the Bible were written, to
assist us in ascertaining the sense in which words were used.

4. The writers of Scripture differ very much from one another both in
style and matter, and their works differ greatly in worth and
usefulness. Ezekiel is much more obscure than Jeremiah; and Jeremiah is
less plain than Isaiah. Many of the figures, and some of the visions of
Ezekiel, seem coarse, and some of them appear unintelligible. And the
matter of many parts of Ezekiel's prophecies seems inferior to that of
the prophecies of Jeremiah and Isaiah. Some portions of Ezekiel are very
valuable; they are good and useful to the last degree. But other
portions, whatever value they might have for persons of former times and
other lands, have none, that I can see, for us.

5. Some portions of Jeremiah, and even of Isaiah, appear to have little
that is calculated to be of use in the present day. Indeed some portions
seem unintelligible. But many portions of the writings of both those
prophets abound in the most touching, startling, and useful lessons.

6. And so with Daniel and the minor prophets. The darkness and the
light, and things more useful and things less useful, are mingled in
them all.

7. It is the same with the New Testament. Some portions of Paul's
writings are as plain as they well can be; others are very obscure,
perhaps quite unintelligible. Some passages in the controversial
portions of his Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians, and
considerable parts of the Epistle to the Hebrews, are dark as night to
many; and I fear that those who think they understand them, are under a
delusion. And as portions of these Epistles were wrested by the
unlearned and unconfirmed in Peter's time, so have they been mistaken
for lessons in moral laxity since. And still they are used by many as
props for immoral and blasphemous doctrines.

8. And what shall we say of the Book of Revelation? Adam Clarke thought
he understood it as well as any one, yet acknowledged that he did not
understand it at all. And though there are several passages that are
both plain and practical, and many that are most wondrously and
sublimely poetical, and some few that are rich both in truth and
tenderness, yet, as a whole, the Book is exceedingly, if not
impenetrably, dark.

9. Some portions of the Old Testament history are given twice over, as
in the Books of Kings and Chronicles, and the two accounts, in some
cases, seem to be irreconcilable with each other. The numbers often
differ, and some of them seem altogether too large. The accounts agree
well enough, and the statements are credible enough, as a rule, on
matters of great importance; but on smaller matters there are many plain
discrepancies.

Some other portions of the Bible, including two or three of the Psalms,
are given twice over.

10. Then who that reads the Proverbs attentively can help seeing, that
some of them are much plainer, and calculated to be much more useful,
than others. Many of them are rich in wisdom and goodness beyond
measure; but others appear to have neither much of beauty, nor much of
utility.

11. And the Psalms are not all of equal excellence. Some contain
terrible outpourings of hatred and vengeance. Many contain fierce and
resentful expressions. And though these things were excusable in early
times, and were, in fact, not wicked, but only a lower form of virtue,
we cannot but feel their great inferiority to the teachings and spirit
of Jesus. But taken as a whole, the Psalms are miracles of beauty and
sublimity, of tenderness and majesty, of purity and piety, of wisdom and
righteousness. They are a heaven of bright constellations; a world of
glory and blessedness.

12. The Book of Job too is a mixture, and to some extent a mystery, but
it would be a great loss to the world if it were to perish. The
twenty-ninth and thirty-first chapters are worth the whole literature of
infidel philosophy a hundred times over. And many other portions of the
book are 'gems of purest ray serene,' and treasures of incalculable
value.

13. And even the Book of Ecclesiastes, while it contains many things of
a strange, a dark, and a doubtful character, has many oracles of wisdom
and piety. It contains lessons of wonderful beauty, and of great
solemnity and power.

14. There is a vast amount of wisdom and goodness in the laws of Moses.
I say nothing of the laws that are merely ceremonial: but there are
lessons of great importance mixed up even with them at times. Take those
about the Nazarites. Most of them are beautiful, excellent; and well
would it be if people even in our days would accept them as rules for
their own conduct.

Then take the laws which forbid the use of wine and strong drink to the
ministering priests. They are wonderfully wise.

And even the laws about the different kinds of beasts, and birds, and
fishes, that were allowed or forbidden as food, are, on the whole,
remarkably philosophical. Considering the time when they were given, and
the people for whom they were intended, and the ends for which they were
designed, the laws of Moses generally, are worthy of the highest praise.

15. But Judaism is not Christianity. That which was the best for the
Jews three thousand years ago, was not the best for all mankind through
all the ages of time. Compared with the religions and laws of
surrounding nations, and of preceding ages, Judaism was glorious,--but
compared with Christianity it is no longer glorious. Judaism compared
with Paganism, was a wonder of wisdom, philosophy, and righteousness;
but compared with Christianity it is a mass of rudiments, first lessons,
beggarly elements.

Hence several things contained in the law of Moses are repealed or
forbidden by Christ; still more are quietly dropped and left behind;
while other portions are developed, expanded, and exalted.

All these things, and a multitude of other things, have to be taken into
account, if we would form a correct and proper estimate of the Bible.
All these, and quite a multitude of other matters, should be borne in
mind when we are considering in what terms to speak of the Book, and in
what way to qualify our commendations of its contents. I do not believe
it possible to praise the Bible too highly; but nothing is easier than
to praise it unwisely, untruly. You cannot love or prize the Bible too
much; but you may err as to what constitutes its worth. You cannot
over-estimate its beneficent power; but you may make mistakes as to the
parts or properties of the book in which its strength lies. A child can
hardly value gold or silver too highly, but he makes a great mistake
when he fancies their great excellency to consist in the brightness of
their colors. And so with regard to the Bible. Its best friends and its
ablest eulogists can never think or speak of it beyond its real worth;
but they may fancy its worth to consist in qualities of secondary
importance, or in a kind or form of perfection which it does not
possess.

The enemies of the Bible often speak evil of it ignorantly, from the
mere force of bad example, as parrots curse: and the friends of the
Bible often speak well of it ignorantly, as parrots pray. They know,
they feel, they are sure, that the Bible is good,--that it does them
good,--that it purifies their souls,--that it improves their
characters,--that it makes them cheerful, joyful, useful, happy. Yet all
the time they fancy, because they have been erroneously taught, that the
blessed volume owes its comforting, transforming, and glorious power to
some metaphysical nicety, or to some unreal or impossible kind of
perfection.

When Christians attribute the sanctifying, elevating, comforting power
of the Bible to the fact that it is divinely inspired, they are right.
But many do not stop there. They suppose that divine inspiration has
given the Book certain grammatical, rhetorical, logical, historical,
scientific and metaphysical qualities which it has _not_ given it, and
they even attribute its superior worth and saving power to those
imaginary qualities.

It was against the mistakes and mis-statements of my opponents that I
first wrote, and it was their ignorance, or their want of honesty and
candor, that gave me at times the advantage over them in our debates on
the subject. It was for want of seeing things in their proper light, and
putting them in their proper shape before their hearers and readers,
that made their efforts to keep people from doubt and unbelief
unavailing. They, in truth, made unbelief or infidelity to consist in
something in which it did not consist, and made people think they were
infidels when they were no such thing. If they had given up all that was
erroneous with regard to the Bible, and undertaken the defence of
nothing but what was true, they might both have convinced the honest
skeptic, and strengthened the faith of Christians. But they undertook to
defend the false, and to assail the true, and the consequence was, they
were beaten, and the cause which they sought to serve was injured.

John Wesley says, that the way to drive the doctrine of Christian
perfection, or 'true holiness,' out of the world, is to place it too
high,--to make it consist in something that is beyond man's power. And
the way to drive the doctrine of the divine inspiration of the
Scriptures out of the world, is to give the doctrine a form which the
Scriptures themselves do not give it,--to change it from a truth into an
error,--to teach that divine inspiration produces effects which it does
not produce,--that it imparts qualities which it does not impart, and
which the Scriptures themselves do not exhibit.

And this is what many defenders of the Bible do. And this is one great
cause both of the increase of infidelity, and of the confidence of its
disciples.

It is impossible to prove the doctrine of the divine inspiration of the
Bible, as that doctrine is defined by many religious writers. It is not
true. And those who attempt to prove that the Bible is such a book, as
these false theological theories of divine inspiration would require it
to be, must always be beaten, in a fair fight, with an able and
well-informed infidel opponent. The man who contends that the Bible is
all that certain old theories of inspiration require it to be, fights
against plain facts, and even his friends will often see and feel that
he has not succeeded. He may say a many fine things, a many good things,
a many great things, a many glorious things about the Bible, and they
may all be true: and he may say a many bad things, a many horrible
things against infidelity, and they too may be true. And his friends may
see and feel that, on the whole, he is substantially right, and that the
infidel is essentially wrong. They may see and feel that on the
Christian side is all that is good, and true, and holy; and that on the
infidel side is a world of darkness and depravity, of horror and
despair. Still, on the one definite point, 'Is the Bible divinely
inspired according to the theory of divine inspiration laid down by
certain theologians,' the Christian will be beaten out and out,--he will
not only be confuted, but confounded, dishonored, and utterly routed.
The Bible and Christianity will receive an undeserved wound, and
infidelity will have an undeserved triumph; and many a poor young man
whose leanings were towards the Bible, and who would have liked its
advocate to triumph, will be disheartened, distressed, embarrassed,
distracted, and perhaps undone.

The true doctrine of Scripture inspiration, or of Scripture authority,
is about as applicable to the common version, and to honest Christian
translations generally, and to all the manuscripts, and to all the
printed Greek and Hebrew Bibles, as it would be to the lost originals if
they could be recovered. There is divine inspiration enough in the
poorest translation of the Scriptures, and in the most imperfect Greek
and Hebrew transcript of them ever made, to place the Bible above all
the books on earth, as a means of enlightening, regenerating,
comforting, and saving mankind. But in none of its forms is the Bible so
inspired, as to make it what the unauthorized, fanciful, impossible
theories of certain dreamy, or proud, presumptuous, and overbearing
theologians require it to be.

I have seen twenty or thirty definitions of Scripture
INSPIRATION all of which betray the Bible into the hands of its
adversaries. And it is no use expecting to convert skeptics, till those
definitions are set aside, and better, truer ones put in their place. We
ourselves pay no regard to these definitions. They are merely human
fictions. They have no warrant from Scripture, and we cannot allow
ourselves to be hampered with them.

The passage in the New Testament which speaks of the Holy Scriptures of
the Old Testament as divinely inspired, gives us no definition of divine
inspiration. It says, 'All Scripture given by inspiration of God is
profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness, tending to make the man of God perfect, thoroughly
furnished unto all good works:' but it goes no further. It does not say
that all Scripture given by inspiration of God will be written in a
superhuman language, or in a superhuman style. Nor does it say that all
its allusions to natural things will be perfectly correct; that all the
stories which it tells will be told in a superhuman way. Nor does it say
that all the precepts, and all the institutions, and all the
revelations, and all the examples of the Book will be up to the level
of absolute perfection. What the passage _does_ say of such Scriptures
as are given by inspiration of God, is true of the Old Testament
writings as a whole, and still truer of the New Testament writings: they
_are_ profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for
instruction in righteousness; and they are adapted to make men perfect,
thoroughly furnished unto all good works. All this you can prove. But
you cannot prove that they answer to the definitions of divine
inspiration so often given in books of theology.

There is another passage in the New Testament which says that
'Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our
learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might
have hope.' This too is true of the Old Testament writings as a whole;
but it gives no countenance to the definitions of Scripture inspiration
given by dreamy theologians.

Peter says that 'holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy
Spirit;' but he does not say that everything spoken or written by holy
men, when moved by the Holy Spirit, would answer to some human dream of
absolute perfection. He does not say that the holy men, when moved to
speak by the Holy Spirit, would cease to be men, or even be free from
all the imperfections or misconceptions of their age and nation, and
speak as if they had become at once perfect in the knowledge of natural
philosophy, or of common history, or even on every point pertaining to
religion. They might speak as moved by the Holy Spirit, and yet utter
divine oracles in an imperfect human language, and in a defective human
style, and even use illustrations based on erroneous conceptions of
natural facts and historical events.

A man moved to speak by the Holy Spirit would not exhort people to be
idle or heedless; he would urge them to be industrious and prudent: but
in enforcing his exhortation to those virtues by a reference to the ANT,
he might give proof that his knowledge of the ANT was not perfect,--that
his ideas of its ways were not in every little point correct.

A man full of the Holy Spirit, and especially a man who had received of
its influences without measure, would be sure to exhort men to be very
wise and very harmless; but he might use a form of words in his
exhortation which had originated in the misconception that serpents were
wiser than any other animals, and that doves were more harmless than any
other birds. Yet the exhortation would be good in substance; and even
the form, being in accordance with the views prevailing in his times,
would be unobjectionable; and both would be consistent with the fullest
inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

A great, good man, speaking under divine impulse, urging his son in the
Gospel to resist false and immoral teachers, might say, 'Now as Jannes
and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth; but
their folly shall be made manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.'
Whether the men who withstood Moses were really called Jannes and
Jambres or not, I do not know. The Old Testament does not say they were.
The probability is, that Paul rested his illustration on a Jewish
tradition. But as the tradition was received as true by his people, his
lesson was just as good as if it had rested on some unquestionable fact
stated in authentic history.

And so with regard to illustrations and incidental statements and
allusions generally. Though they may rest on misconceptions, the moral
lessons and spiritual revelations into the service of which they are
pressed, may be God's own oracles, and the book in which they appear
may, as a whole, be given by divine inspiration, and be profitable for
teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in
righteousness, and conducive to all the great and desirable ends so dear
to God.

There is no such thing as absolute perfection with regard to books.
There is no authorized standard, no test, no measure of absolute
perfection for books; and if there were, no man could apply it. Of a
thousand different books each may be perfect in its way, yet none of
them be absolutely perfect. Each may have some great good end in view,
and be adapted to answer that end; and that is the only perfection of
which a book admits. And it is perfection enough.

And this perfection the Bible has. It has the best, the highest, the
most glorious objects in view, and it is adapted to accomplish those
objects; and that is sufficient. They that undertake to prove that it
has any other perfection, will fail, and both bring discredit on
themselves, and suspicion on the Bible. The Bible may be more grievously
wronged by unwise praise, than by unjust censure.

Absolutely perfect books and teachers are not necessary to our
instruction and welfare. We can learn all we need to know, and all we
need to do, from books and teachers that are _not_ perfect. We have no
absolutely perfect books on Grammar, Rhetoric, or Logic. Yet men learn
those sciences readily enough when they study them heartily and
diligently. We have no perfect systems of Arithmetic, Geometry, or
Algebra; of Geography, Astronomy, or Geology; of Anatomy, Physiology, or
Chemistry; of Botany, Natural History, or Physical Geography. Yet on all
those subjects men gather an immense amount of knowledge, make a
multitude of new discoveries, and arrive at a wonderful degree of
certainty.

And so with arts and trades. We have no absolutely perfect teachers or
books in music, or painting, or sculpture; in farming, or manufactures,
or trade. Yet what wonderful proficients men become in those arts! We
have no perfect teachers of languages: yet any man with a taste for the
study of them, may learn twenty or thirty of them in a life-time. Even
indifferent books and teachers will enable a man who is bent on
learning, to master the most difficult language on earth.

A man once asked me, 'Which is the best English Grammar?' My answer was,
'The first you come at. A poor one to-day is better than a good one
to-morrow. Begin your studies at once with the grammar you have; and you
will soon find out which is the best.' And so I say with regard to books
on other subjects. Make the best use you can of the books you have, and
you will soon come across better. And when you do come across them, you
will be all the better prepared to profit by them, than if you were to
waste your time in idleness till you can get hold of the best of all.
Besides; the book that is best for others, may not be the best for you.

And if a man should ask me, 'Which is the best translation of the
Bible?' I would say, 'The first you come at. Read any, till you meet
with others. Then read many, and, using your common sense, judge for
yourself which is best. That which does most to make you a good, a
strong, a useful and a happy man is the best.'

Some want books and teachers that will save them the trouble of study.
And there are none such. It would be a pity if there were. They would do
no good, but harm. Nothing strengthens and develops the mind like labor.
But if you had the best books possible they would not enable you to
acquire much useful knowledge, without close study, and vigorous mental
effort.

I learned Greek with the worst Greek Grammar I ever saw; but when I had
learned the language tolerably, I found one of the best Greek Grammars
in the world, and went rapidly through it, and found that it had little
to add to the information I had gained already from the poorer one.

And it is the same with regard to books on God, religion, and duty.
Books with numbers of defects,--with defects of style, defects of
arrangement, and even defects in matter, may teach you many useful
lessons, if you read and study them properly; and the best books on
earth will not teach you much if you read them carelessly.

A great deal, almost every thing, depends on the spirit or the object
with which a man reads a good book. You may read the best books to
little profit, and you may get great good from very inferior ones.

The Bible is the best religious and moral book on earth; it is, in its
most imperfect translations, able to make men wise, and good, and
useful, and happy to the last degree, if they will read and study it
properly. But there is not a better book on earth for making a man a
fool, if he comes to it with a vain mind, a proud spirit, a fulness of
self-conceit, or a wish to be a prophet. A desire to be a prater about
the millennium, the second coming of Christ, the personal reign, the
orders of angels, the ranks of devils, the secrets of God's counsels,
the hidden meaning of the badgers' skins, the shittim wood, the Urim and
Thummim, the Cherubim and Seraphim, the Teraphim and Anakim, and all the
imaginary meanings of imaginary types, and the place where Paradise was
situated, and the mountain peak on which the Ark rested, and Behemoth,
and Leviathan, and the spot at which the Israelites entered the Red Sea,
and the compass of Adam's knowledge before he named the animals, and the
fiery sword at the gate of Paradise, and the controversial parts of
Paul's epistles, and the mysteries of the Book of Revelation, and the
spiritual meaning of Solomon's Song, and the place where Satan had his
meeting with the sons of God in the days of Job, and the exact way in
which Job used the potsherd, when he scraped himself as he sat among the
ashes, &c., &c.,--I say if this is what a man desires, the Bible will
help him to his wish, and make him the laughing-stock, or the pity of
all sensible men.

And if he employs the one hundred and fifty rules of Hartwell Horne for
misinterpreting the plain portions of the Bible, and his one hundred and
forty other rules for darkening his mind, and confounding his soul, the
Bible will ruin him still quicker. A better book for trying a man, and
for rewarding his honesty, and piety, and charity, if he has those
virtues, and for making them ever more; or for punishing a man's vanity,
and pride, and selfishness, and perversity, if he be the slave of such
passions, God could hardly have given. And to try and to bless men are
the two great objects of all God's revelations.

My opponent was fond of saying that the Bible was an infallible guide.
The statement was not true in any strict and rigorous sense of the
words. And it was foolish for him to make it in an eager debate, for he
could never prove it. And he was not long in finding this out. A few
plain questions set him quite fast. The Bible is an infallible guide,
you say. We ask, Which Bible? The common version? No. John Wesley's
version? No. Dr. Conquest's? No. The Unitarian version? No. _Any_
version? No. Is it some particular Greek or Hebrew Bible then? No. Is it
the manuscripts? No. But these are all the Bibles we have.

The Bible is an infallible guide, you say. What to? Uniformity of
opinion? No. Uniformity of worship? No. Uniformity of life? No.
Uniformity of feeling, of affection, of effort? No. It does not even
require uniformity in those matters. It supposes diversity. It asks only
for sincerity, honesty, fidelity. But it is an infallible guide to all
truth and duty, you say. Has it guided you to all truth and duty? No.
Whom _has_ it guided to those blessed results? You cannot say.

But it is an infallible guide to all that truth which is necessary to a
man's salvation, you say. But there is no particular amount of truth
that _is_ necessary to a man's salvation. The amount of truth necessary
to a man's salvation differs according to his powers and privileges.
That which is necessary to my salvation may not be necessary to the
salvation of a Pagan. It is sincerity in the search of truth, and
fidelity in reducing it to practice, which is necessary to a man's
salvation, and not the acquisition of some particular quantity of truth.

The Bible is an infallible guide. To whom? To the Catholics? No. To the
Unitarians? No. To the Quakers? No. To the Church of England people? No.
To Methodists and Calvinists? No.

That the Bible is a trusty guide enough, I have no doubt, if we will
faithfully and prayerfully follow it; but to talk as if it would guide
every one infallibly to exactly the same views, or to the fulness of all
truth, is not wise. It is not warranted either by the Bible itself, or
by facts.

Besides, if a book is to guide a man infallibly, it must be made
perfectly plain; it must be infallibly interpreted. And where are the
infallible interpreters? We know of none that even profess to be such
outside the Church of Rome; and none but themselves and their own Church
members believe their professions. _You_ do not believe them. As a rule,
the claim of infallibility is taken as a proof that the man who makes it
is not only fallible, but something worse.

But if we had infallible interpreters, they would not be able to keep us
from error, unless we had infallible hearts and infallible
understandings. And we have no such things. If we had, we should neither
need infallible books nor infallible interpreters.

That the Bible is all that it _needs_ to be, and all that it _ought_ to
be, I am satisfied; but that it is all that some of its zealous
advocates _say_ it is, plain and unquestionable facts make it impossible
for any candid, unbiassed, and well-informed man to believe.

We have all an infallible guide within us, if we be true Christians. For
the Spirit of God dwells in the hearts of all true disciples of Christ.
But the infallible guide does not make us all infallible followers. The
infallible teacher does not make us all infallible learners. We are
blessed with divine inspiration, but we are not converted into machines.
Inspiration does not make us absolutely perfect either in knowledge or
virtue, still less does it make us perfect all at once. We shall learn
enough, and we shall learn fast enough, if we are faithful; but we shall
never be perfect or infallible in our knowledge in this world.

As the subject of Bible inspiration is one of great importance, and as
it is at present exciting the greatest interest, it may not be amiss
here to give a few quotations from writers who have been led to see the
doctrine in the same light as ourselves. I am unable to give the names
of some of the authors from whose works I quote, but they are all
connected with one or other of the great evangelical denominations of
the day.

The following is from "BASES OF BELIEF," by Edward Miall, one
of the best books on the truth and divinity of Christianity I have had
the happiness to read. Mr. Miall is a Congregational minister, editor of
the Nonconformist Newspaper, and Member of Parliament. As his remarks
are lengthy, we are obliged to abridge them in some cases.

'It is not needed, in order to show satisfactorily that there is a
divine revelation _in_ the record, to prove that the record is _itself_
divine. To disprove that revelation, a man must do something more than
point out marks of imperfection in the Book containing it, such marks as
would not be expected in a book written directly by the hand of God. If
it could be demonstrated that the penmen who have given us the life of
Christ, were indebted to no other aid than that supplied by the good
mental and moral qualifications which any others might possess, the main
strength of Christianity as a communication of God's mind and will,
would remain untouched.

'The discrepancies between the statements of the four Evangelists,--the
indications of individual or national peculiarities,--the modes of
describing occurrences, true because well understood in the locality of
the speaker, but not strictly true in other places,--all matters which
serve to show that the same objects have been seen by different persons,
but from different points of view, are to be allowed for as reconcilable
with a truthfulness that may be implicitly relied upon. One informant
may have blundered in geography, another may have been mistaken in an
historical reference, a third may have misquoted or misapplied some
prophetical allusion, and all may have given ample proof that they were
not free from the influence of the traditions generally received in the
places to which they belonged; but unless these peculiarities and
infirmities show a want of competency as witnesses, or a lack of
integrity, they may be dismissed, as having no bearing on the main
point.

'The question whether the Gospel records are free from blemishes found
to attach to every other record, has nothing to do with the main issue.
Our _theories_ may require them to be free from such harmless
imperfections; but our _reason_ makes no such demand.

'The memoir of a great man does not lose its use and virtue, because
written by a biographer open to some censure: nor can the life of Christ
fail of its transcendent purpose, because the writers were not in all
things infallible.

'Appearances of harmless human imperfections in the writers do not
invalidate the sacred records. For instance, if it should be found that
those faithful witnesses have given their testimony in exceptionable
Greek,--or that in some matters, not touching their main object, they
are not enlightened above the common standard of their times and
station,--or that they have habits of thought, or speech, or action,
which, though perfectly innocent in themselves, show that they are not
so far advanced in science as some,--if, in a word, it should appear
that the historic writers of the New Testament were really men of the
age in which they lived, and men of the country in which they were born
and educated, subject to the then limitations of general knowledge,--men
of individual tendencies, tastes, temperaments, passions, and even
prejudices,--wherein is the world worse for this, and in what respect
could our reason have wished it otherwise? We protest, we do not see.
On the contrary, we feel it to be an advantage, that the divine light
emanating from the life of Jesus Christ, should reach us through an
artless and thoroughly human medium. It is no misfortune, in our
judgment, but quite the opposite, that 'we have this treasure in earthen
vessels.' Such traces on the pages of evangelic history as mark the
writers for men,--honest, faithful, competent, but yet verily and indeed
men,--bring their narrative much more closely home to our sympathies,
and set us upon a more ardent search for the spirit in its several
portions, than if the story had been written by the faultless pen of
some superior being.'

Mr. Miall then refers to the errors and discrepancies in the genealogies
prefixed to two of the lives of Christ, and says, 'They are accounted
for, in our view, by the humanity of the writers. We are not bound to
regard the genealogies as infallibly accurate, any more than we are
bound to regard the dialect of the writers as pure Greek. No essential
truth is affected by either, and that is enough.'

Mr. Miall further argues that intellectual infallibility was not
necessary, and was not to be looked for, in Paul, the great expounder of
the Gospel. And he adds, 'Taking the New Testament as a whole, we are
not disposed to deny, that it bears upon the face of it, many
indications that its several writers were not entirely exempt from
mental imperfection,--but we contend that the mental imperfection which
their works exhibit, is perfectly compatible with the communication to
men of infallible knowledge respecting God, His moral relations to us,
His purposes with regard to us, and the religious duties which these
things enforce on all who would attain eternal life. And if this be
true, the record satisfies the spiritual need of man in its fullest
extent.'

We have given Mr. Miall's views at greater length, because he occupies
so high a position, not only in one of the largest religious
denominations in England, but in the country generally, and because we
have never seen any protest against his views from any writer of
influence, in any branch of the Church of Christ. Such protests may have
appeared, but we have never met with any. We may add, that while Mr.
Miall gives up the idea of infallibility, he holds that the writers of
the New Testament history were under divine _guidance_ in composing
their several memoirs of Christ.

Mr. Miall's views on the Old Testament writings we may have occasion to
notice further on.

The Rev. Dr. Parker, author of ECCE DEUS, has some remarks of a
character somewhat similar to those of Mr. Miall, but we have not his
works at hand.

Our next quotation is from a lecture on SCIENCE AND REVELATION,
by the very reverend R. Payne Smith, D. D., Dean of Canterbury. The
lecture was delivered at the request of the Christian Evidence Society,
London, and is published by that society, in their volume, entitled
MODERN SKEPTICISM.

'Revelation has nothing to do with our physical state. Reason is quite
sufficient to teach us all those sanitary laws by which our bodies will
be maintained in healthful vigor. Whatever we can attain by our mental
powers, we are to attain by them. Physical and metaphysical science
alike lie remote from the object matter of revelation. The Bible never
gives us any scientific knowledge in a scientific way. If it did, it
would be leaving its own proper domain. When it seems to give us any
such knowledge, as in the first chapter of Genesis, what it says has
always reference to man. The first chapter of Genesis does not tell us
how the earth was formed absolutely, but how it was prepared and fitted
for man. Look at the work of the fourth day. Does any man suppose that
the stars were set in the expanse of heaven absolutely that men might
know what time of the year it was? They _did_ render men this service,
but this was not their great use. As the Bible speaks to all people, at
all times, it must use popular language.'

This writer, like many others when they approach this subject, speaks
timidly, and in consequence somewhat vaguely and obscurely; but his
meaning is, that we must expect the Bible, on scientific subjects, to
speak, not according to science, but according to the prevailing ideas
of their times on scientific subjects; and that we are to regard the
Bible as our teacher, not on every subject to which it may allude, or on
which it may speak, but only on matters of religious truth and duty.

The following is from the Rev. H. W. Beecher.

'Matthew says, that Jesus dwelt in Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled
which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene. No such
line has ever been found in the prophets.

'Infinite ingenuity of learning has been brought to bear upon this
difficulty, without in the slightest degree solving it.

'What would happen if it should be said that Matthew recorded the
current impression of his time in attributing this declaration to the
Old Testament Prophets? Would a mere error of reference invalidate the
trustworthiness of the evangelist? We lean our whole weight [in other
matters] upon men who are fallible. Must a record be totally infallible
before it can be trusted at all? Navigators trust ship, cargo, and the
lives of all on board, to calculations based on tables of logarithms,
knowing that there never was a set [of logarithms] computed, without
machinery, that had not some error in it. The supposition, that to admit
that there are immaterial and incidental mistakes in Sacred Writ would
break the confidence of men in it, is contradicted by the uniform
experience of life, and by the whole procedure of society.

'On the contrary, the shifts and ingenuities to which critics are
obliged to resort, either blunt the sense of truth, or disgust men with
the special pleading of critics, and tend powerfully to general
unbelief.

'The theory of inspiration must be founded upon the grounds on which the
Scriptures themselves found it. "All Scripture is given by inspiration
of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for
instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect,
thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Tim. 3: 16, 17.)

'Under this declaration, no more can be claimed for the doctrine of
inspiration than that there shall have been such an influence exerted
upon the formation of the record, that it shall be the truth respecting
God, and no falsity; that it shall so expound the duty of man under
God's moral government, as to secure, in all who will, a true holiness;
that it shall contain no errors which can affect the essential truths
taught, or which shall cloud the reason or sully the moral sense.

'But it is not right or prudent to infer from the Biblical statement of
inspiration, that it makes provision for the very words and sentences;
that it shall raise the inspired penmen above the possibility of
literary inaccuracy, or minor or immaterial mistakes. It is enough if
the Bible be a sure and sufficient guide to spiritual morality and
rational piety. To erect for it a claim to absolute literary
infallibility, or to infallibility in things not directly pertaining to
faith, is to weaken its real authority, and to turn it aside from its
avowed purpose. The theory of verbal inspiration brings a strain upon
the Word of God which it cannot bear. If rigorously pressed, it tends
powerfully to bigotry on the one side, and to infallibility on the
other.

'The inspiration of holy men is to be construed, as we construe the
doctrine of an over-ruling and special Providence; of the divine
supervision and guidance of the church; of the faithfulness of God in
answering prayer. The truth of these doctrines is not inconsistent with
the existence of a thousand evils, mischiefs, and mistakes, and with the
occurrence of wanderings long and almost fatal. Yet the general
supervision of a Divine Providence is rational. We might expect that
there would be an analogy between God's care and education of the race,
and His care of the Bible in its formation.

'Around the central certainty of saving truth are wrapped the
swaddling-clothes of human language. Neither the condition of the human
understanding, nor the nature of human speech, which is the vehicle of
thought, admits of more than a fragmentary and partial presentation of
truth. "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part." (1 Cor. xiii. 9.)
Still less are we then to expect that there will be perfection in this
vehicle. And incidental errors, which do not reach the substance of
truth and duty, which touch only contingent and external elements, are
not to be regarded as inconsistent with the fact that the Scriptures
were _inspired of God_. Nor will our reverence for the Scriptures be
impaired if, in such cases, it be frankly said, '_There_ is an insoluble
difficulty.' Such a course is far less dangerous to the moral sense than
that pernicious ingenuity which, assuming that there can be no literal
errors in Scripture, resorts to subtle arts of criticism,
improbabilities of statement, and violence of construction, such as, if
made use of in the intercourse of men in daily life, would break up
society and destroy all faith of man in man.

'We dwell at length on this topic now, that we may not be obliged to
recur to it when, as will be the case, other instances arise in which
there is no solution of unimportant, though real, literary difficulties.

'There are a multitude of minute, and on the whole, as respects the
substance of truth, not important questions and topics, which, like a
fastened door, refuse to be opened by any key which learning has brought
to them. It is better to let them stand closed than, like impatient
mastiffs, after long barking in vain, to lie whining at the door, unable
to enter, and unwilling to go away. _Life of Jesus, pp. 77-81._

The Rev. G. Rawlinson, in an able lecture in defence of the Bible,
published by the CHRISTIAN EVIDENCE SOCIETY of London, acknowledges that
there are matters of uncertainty in some parts of the Old Testament
history, and says, 'The time allowed by the common version of the Bible
for all the events which took place from the days of Noah, to the birth
of Christ, and for all the changes by which the various races of men
were formed, by which civilization and the arts were developed, etc., is
less than 2,600 years. Now this is quite insufficient. How is this
difficulty to be met? We answer; a special uncertainty attaches to the
numbers in this case. They are given differently in the different
ancient versions. The Samaritan version extends the time 650 years. The
Septuagint extends it eight or nine hundred years. If more time still be
thought wanting for the development of government, art, science,
language, diversities of races, etc., I should not be afraid to grant
that the original record of Scripture on this point may have been lost,
and that the true chronology cannot now be ascertained. Nothing in
ancient manuscripts is so liable to corruption as the numbers. The
original mode of writing them was by signs not very different from one
another, and thus it happens that in almost all ancient works, the
numbers are found to be deserving of very little reliance.'

But the errors and uncertainty with regard to numbers amount to nothing.
They do not affect the Bible as the great religious instructor of the
world.

The sun has its spots, dark ones and large ones too; and the face of the
moon is not all of equal brightness; but are the sun and the moon less
useful on that account? Do they not answer the ends for which they were
made, and are not those ends the most important and desirable
imaginable? Cavillers might say, if the sun and moon were made to be
lights of the earth, why are they not _all_ light, and why is not their
light of the greatest brilliancy possible? But we too have a right to
ask, Do they not give us light enough? And is not their light as
brilliant as is desirable? Will the caviller prove that the sun and moon
would be greater blessings if their light wore more intense, or more
abundant? Men may have too much light as well as too little. If light
exceeds a certain degree of intensity, it dazzles and blinds instead of
enlightening. It is well to have a little warmth, but if the heat be
increased beyond a certain point, it burns and consumes, instead of
comforting and cheering.

The disposition of the caviller is anything but enviable, and if God
were to take him at his word, his lot would be anything but comfortable.
Happy are they who accept God's gifts as He presents them, with
thankfulness, and use them in His service faithfully, rejoicing and
trusting in His infinite wisdom and love.

What a man wants in a book are instruction, impulse, strength,
correction, regeneration, consolation, lessons fit to furnish him to
every good work, something to give pleasure, supply exercise for his
intellect, conscience, affections: and the Bible is all.

If God may employ an imperfect and fallible man to preach for him,
allowing a portion of his imperfections to mingle with his message, why
might He not employ an imperfect and fallible man to write for Him,
allowing a portion of his imperfections to mingle with his writing?

The following is from the BISHOP OF LONDON.

'The vindication of the supernatural and authoritative character of the
Bible has too often been embarrassed by speculative theories not
authorized by the statements of the Bible itself.'

'It is no reply to the essential claims of the Bible to be a
supernatural revelation from God, to show that certain speculative
theories concerning the manner and degree of its inspiration are
untenable.'

From whose works the following quotation is made, we do not remember.

'The watchword of the Reformation was, 'The sufficiency of the
Scriptures for salvation.'

'Definite theories of inspiration were seldom propounded till of late
years.

'The Bible is a revelation of spiritual truth communicated chiefly in
illustrations and figurative language, and making use of the history,
chronology, and other sciences of the age, as vehicles or helps. This
principle will explain those seeming contradictions [to science] which
result from the use of popular language, as when the sun and moon are
said to stand still, or when the sun is said to go from one end of the
heaven to the other, etc. It will also account for many actual errors in
science, chronology, and history, should such be found to exist. The
Scriptures were not intended to teach men these things, but to reveal
what relates to our connection with moral law, and the spiritual world,
and our salvation. In teaching these things, the writers availed
themselves of the _popular_ language, and the current science and
literature of the age in which they lived. As in the present day a man
may be well instructed in Christian doctrine, and have the unction from
the Holy One, while ignorant of the teachings of modern science, so
likewise it was possible to those who first received religious truth and
were commissioned to declare it. The presence of the Holy Spirit no more
preserved men from errors in science in the one case than in the other.
One may as well seek to study surveying in a biography of Washington, as
the details of geology or chronology in Genesis.

'The proper test to apply to the Gospels is, whether each gives us a
picture of the life and ministry of Jesus that is self-consistent and
consistent with the others; such as would be suitable to the use of
believers.

'Many of the apparent contradictions of the Bible may be explained by
the mistakes of transcribers, or in some other way equally natural; but,
as the Bishop of London has well remarked, 'When laborious ingenuity has
exerted itself to collect a whole store of such difficulties, supposing
them to be real, what on earth does it signify? They may be left quietly
to float away without our being able to solve them, if we bear in mind
the acknowledged fact, that there is a human element in the Bible.'

'What if many of the numbers given in Exodus should, as Bishop Colenso
asserts, be inaccurate? What is to be gained by assertions or denials
relative to matters which have for ever passed out of the reach of our
verification? And what if, here and there, a law should seem to us
strange and unaccountable; an event difficult to comprehend; a statement
to involve an apparent contradiction? What has all this to do with the
essential _value_ of the Book. Absolutely nothing, unless thereby its
[honesty] truthfulness can be set aside.

'If error were _cunningly interspersed_ with truth in the Bible, the
case would be different. But it is _not_ so. The Book, as a whole, and
as it stands, is wholesome and useful; each portion of it has its proper
place, and is adequate to fulfil its appointed end. But everything in
the Book does not take hold alike on the heart and conscience. It may be
very interesting, as indeed it is, to trace on the map the various
journeyings of St. Paul, or the wanderings of the children of Israel in
the wilderness; to note a hundred designed coincidences, etc. Yet all
this may be done without the slightest moral or spiritual benefit to the
man who does it. And, of course, all this may be left undone by others
without the slightest spiritual loss or disadvantage.'

The following may be our own.

The great thing is to use the Scriptures as a means of instruction in
religious truth and Christian duty, and as a means of improvement in all
moral excellence and Christian usefulness.

Set the doctrine of Scripture inspiration too high, and people, finding
that the Scriptures do not come up to it, will conclude that the
doctrine is false,--that the Scriptures are not inspired,--that they do
not differ from other books,--that divine revelation is a fiction,--that
religion is a delusion,--and that the true philosophy of life and of the
universe is infidelity. And the Scriptures do _not_ come up to the
doctrine of inspiration held by many. It is impossible they should. _No_
book written in human language _can_ come up to it. What they say an
inspired book _must_ be, no book on earth ever was, and no book ever
will be. And infidels see it, and are confirmed in their infidelity. And
others see it and become infidels. And Christians argue with them and
are overcome. And others are perplexed and bewildered, and obliged to
close their eyes to facts, and though they cling to their belief, they
are troubled with fears and misgivings as long as they live.

If men would be strong in the faith, and strong in its defence, they
should accept nothing as part of their creed but what is strictly true.

There are passages which speak of the sun smiting men by day, and there
is one at least which speaks of the moon smiting men by night, and both,
for any thing I know, may be literally true. But suppose it were proved
that neither the sun nor the moon ever smites men, would my faith in
Christianity, or in the divine inspiration of the Bible, be shaken
thereby? Not at all. Nor would it destroy or weaken the effect of the
passages on my mind in which those allusions to the sun and moon occur.
I should still believe in the substantial truth of the passages, namely,
that, day and night, the good man is secure under the protection of God.

A man says that he has lately been under 'disastrous influences.'
Literally, the words disastrous influences mean the influences of
unfriendly stars. But there are no unfriendly stars. Then why does he
use such an expression? Because, though it does not now in its current
meaning refer to the stars at all, it means calamitous, unfavorable,
influences. I do not believe that the sun like a strong man runs a race:
I believe its motion is only apparent,--that the _real_ motion is in the
earth. But do I therefore question the divine inspiration of the Bible
which uses that expression? Not at all; for the words are substantially
true. And so in a hundred other cases.

And so in passages of other kinds. It does not matter to me whether the
account of creation in Genesis answers literally to the real processes
revealed by Geology, or whether the account of the flood answers exactly
to past facts. Both accounts are perfect as lessons of divine truth and
duty, and that is enough.

Those who undertake to prove that every passage of the Bible is
literally true, must fail. If they _were_ all literally true, they would
never have done. There are more difficult passages, and more apparent
little contradictions, than any man could go through in a life-time. I
would no more undertake such a task than I would undertake to prove that
every leaf, and every flower, and every seed, of every plant on earth is
perfect, and that each is exactly like its fellows. God's honor and
man's welfare are as much concerned in the one as in the other. They are
concerned in neither. The leaves, the flowers, and the seeds of plants
are right enough,--they are as perfect as they need to be,--and I ask no
more. And the Bible is as perfect as it needs to be, and I am satisfied.

The following is abridged from a work entitled CHRISTIANITY AND OUR
ERA, by the Rev. G. Gilfillan of Scotland.

Mr. Gilfillan speaks of it as a 'Generally admitted fact, that there is
a human, as well as a divine element in Scripture,' and adds, 'that this
should modify our judgment in considering perplexing discrepancies and
minor objections. There are spots in the sun; there are bogs on the
earth; and why should the perplexities in a book, which is a
multifarious collection of poetico-theological and historical tracts,
written in various ages, and subject, in their history, to many human
vicissitudes, bewilder and appal us? The candid inquirer will be
satisfied if, from the unity of spirit, the truth and simplicity of
manner, the majesty of thought, the heavenliness of tone, and the
various collateral and external proofs, he gathers a _general_
inspiration in the Bible, and the general truth of Christianity. Logical
strictness, perfect historic accuracy, systematic arrangement, etc.,
could not be expected in a book of intuitions and bursts of inspiration;
the authors of which seemed often the child-like organs of the power
within. It seemed enough that there should be no wilful mis-statements,
and no errors but those arising from the inevitable conditions to which
all writings are liable. The skeptic who proceeds to peruse the Bible,
expecting it everywhere to be conformable to the highest ideal
standard--that there shall be nothing to perplex his understanding, to
try his belief, or to offend his taste, will be disappointed, and will
either give up his task, or go on in weariness and hesitation. On the
other hand, if he be told to prepare for historical discrepancies, for
staggering statements, for phrases more plain than elegant, and for
sentences of inscrutable darkness, he will be far more likely to come to
a satisfactory conclusion. And the apparent dark spots will only serve
to increase the surrounding splendor. We therefore cry to the skeptic
who purposes to explore the region of revelation; 'We promise you no
pavement of gold; you will find your path an Alpine road, steep, rugged,
with profound chasms below, and giddy precipices above, and thick mists
often closing in around, but rewarding you by prospects of ineffable
loveliness, by gleams of far-revealing light, and delighting you with a
thousand unearthly pleasures. _Try_ this pass, with a sincere desire to
come at truth, and with hope and courage in your hearts, and you will be
richly rewarded, and the toils of the ascent will seem to you afterwards
only a portion of your triumph.'

One writer gives the following definition of inspiration. 'A
supernatural, divine influence on the sacred writers, by which they were
qualified to communicate moral and religious truth with authority.'

This is tolerable.

Another writer says, 'It is a miraculous influence, by which men are
enabled to receive and communicate divine truth.'

This too is tolerable, notwithstanding the word miraculous.

Another writer says, 'There has been a great diversity of opinions among
the best men of all ages, as to the nature and extent of Bible
inspiration.'

He might have added, that these opinions have generally been nothing
more than opinions,--mere fancies, theories, framed without regard to
facts.

Another writer says, 'It should be remembered, that the inspiration
which breathes through the Book is not of a scientific, critical, or
historical character, but exclusively religious.'

He means, that while inspiration makes the Bible all that is desirable
as a teacher on religious matters, it does not, on other subjects, raise
it above the views of the ages and places in which it was written. For
he adds, 'The sacred record is not in every respect faultless. It is not
free from literary, typographical, and other defects. Nature herself,
where no one can deny the finger of God, has imperfections. The Book
presents the same characteristics as the best and highest of God's other
gifts, namely, not the outward symmetry of a finite and mechanical
perfection, but the inward, elastic, and reproductive power of a divine
life!'

The meaning of this latter vague and wordy sentence seems to be, that
the inspiration of the Bible is such as to make it a powerful means of
producing spiritual life,--real religion; but not such as to preserve it
from little ordinary human errors and imperfections.

This writer represents Dr. Stowe as saying, 'Inspiration, according to
the Bible, is just that measure of extraordinary Divine influence
afforded to the sacred speakers and writers, which was necessary to
secure the purpose intended, and no more.'

This too we can accept. It does not authorize us to expect of the Bible,
or require us to prove with regard to it, any thing more, than that it
is adapted to be the religious and moral instructor of mankind.

This same writer represents Dr. Robinson as saying, 'Whenever, and as
far as, divine assistance was necessary, it was always afforded.' This
too is tolerable.

One writer says, 'Divine inspiration cannot be claimed for the
transcribers or translators of the original Scriptures.'

We think it can. We see no reason to doubt, but that many of the
transcribers and translators of the Scriptures were as much under the
influence of the Holy Spirit,--the spirit of love, and truth, and all
goodness,--as the original writers. Our impression is, that the common
version is as truly the work of divine inspiration, as any book on
earth.

One writer says, 'The language of the whole Bible is that of
appearances. In drawing illustrations from nature, the writers could not
have been understood, unless they had used figures and forms of speech
based on nature as popularly understood. Hence the heavenly bodies are
spoken of as revolving round the earth, the ant as storing up food in
summer, and the earth as being immovable, all of which are now known to
be contrary to [strict] truth.'

This writer, like some others, feeling as if he had gone too far in
uttering words so true, contradicts them a few pages after, and makes a
number of statements which remind one of what the Apostle says, about
handling the word of God deceitfully. One would be tempted to charge him
with 'cunning craftiness,' only his craft is not very cunning. When
religious teachers act so unfaithfully, they have no right to complain
if people lose all confidence in their honesty.

We grant, however, that the temptation to keep back the truth on this
point is very strong, and we must not be hard on the timid ones. It is
not always a fear of personal loss or suffering that keeps men from
speaking freely on religious subjects, but a dread of lessening their
usefulness, of hurting the minds of good though mistaken people, or of
disturbing and injuring the Church.

But it is no use trying to cheat unbelievers. You cannot do it. They
will find you out, and be all the more suspicious and skeptical in
consequence. We must deal with them honestly; tell them nothing but what
is true, and use no arguments but what are sound and unanswerable.
Advocates of Christianity have made numberless unbelievers by teaching
erroneous doctrines, and by using weak and vicious arguments. The
Christian should so speak and act, that it shall be impossible for any
one ever to find him in the wrong.

The following is probably our own.

The historical difficulties of the Bible amount to little. They do not
affect its scope and tendency, as a moral and spiritual teacher. Nor are
they inconsistent with the doctrine that the Scriptures were given by
inspiration of God, as that doctrine is presented in the Scriptures
themselves. They may be inconsistent with the views of Scripture
inspiration taught by certain Theologians; but all we have to do is to
set the views of these Theologians aside, and content ourselves with the
simple teachings of Scripture.

Now the doctrine of Scripture inspiration as taught by the Scriptures
themselves, gives me no authority to expect the Scriptures to be free
from historical and scientific errors, or from any of those so-called
imperfections which are inseparable from human language or from human
nature. It authorizes me to expect that the Scriptures shall aim at my
moral and spiritual instruction and salvation, and that they shall be
adapted to answer that great end. It authorizes me to expect that the
body and substance of the Book shall be true and good, and that a spirit
of wisdom and purity and love shall pervade the Book, giving it a
rousing and a sanctifying power. It authorizes me to expect in it all
that is necessary to bring me into harmony and fellowship with Christ,
to fill me with His spirit, to change me into His likeness, to enable me
to live as He lived, and to labor as He labored. It authorizes me to
expect in the Bible all that is necessary to comfort me in affliction,
to give me patience, to sustain my hopes, and to support and cheer me in
the hour of death. And all this I find in infinite abundance. I find it
in a multitude of forms,--forms the most touching and impressive. I find
it presented in the plainest, simplest style. I find in the Bible an
infinite treasury of all that is holy, just and good,--of all that is
beautiful, sublime, and glorious,--of all that is quickening,
renovating, strengthening,--of all that is cheering, exhilarating,
transporting,--of all that I can wish for or enjoy,--of all that my
powers can comprehend,--of all that my soul can appropriate and use. I
find in it, in short, riches unsearchable, beyond all that I could ever
have asked, or thought. And what can I wish for more?

God has given us no perfect teachers, no perfect preachers, no perfect
churches; why should we suppose it necessary that He should give us a
perfect book? He has not given us any perfect books on medicine, on
diet, on trades, on politics, on farming, on gardening, on education, or
on poetry. Why should we expect Him to give us one on religion? As a
matter of fact, He has not done so. Our common Bible is a translation.
So are all the common Bibles in the world. And all translations are
imperfect. The translations are made from Greek and Hebrew Bibles, and
those are all imperfect. The Greek and Hebrew Bibles are compiled or
formed from Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. But these also are imperfect.
They all differ from each other. And no one can tell which is nearest to
the originals, for the originals are lost. So that whether there was an
absolutely perfect Bible at first or not, there is no such Bible now.
God Himself has so ordered things, that all the Bibles in the world,
like all the preachers, churches, and teachers, share the innocent
imperfections of our common humanity.

Suppose the original Bible to have been perfect, and to have been
preserved from destruction, only one person could have possessed it. The
rest would have had to be content with imperfect human copies. God might
Himself have written perfect Bibles for all mankind, but He did not
choose to do it. Or He might have made perfect copies of the original
Bible, but He did not choose to do even that. He might have employed a
few legions of angels in making copies of the Bible; but _that_ He did
not do. He left the work to be done by men, and men have done it, as
they do all their work, imperfectly.

Still, they have done it well enough. The poorest manuscript Bible in
the world is good enough. The most imperfect Greek and Hebrew Bible is
good enough. The poorest translation is good enough. It is so good, we
mean, that those who are able to read it, may learn from it all that is
necessary to make them good, and useful, and happy on earth, and to fit
them for the blessedness of eternal life in heaven.

There is a sense in which no translation of the Scriptures is good
enough, if we can make it better; and we have no desire to prevent men
from doing their best to improve the translations in all languages as
much as possible. But do not let them make the impression that a perfect
translation is necessary or even possible; for it is not. God has caused
the Bible to be written in such a way, He has put all important matters
of truth and duty in such a variety of forms, that any translation, made
with a reasonable amount of learning and honesty, is sure to make things
intelligible enough in some of the forms in which they are presented in
the Book.

The Bible, like the Church and the Ministry, is a great mixture of the
human and the divine. There is not a single book, nor a single passage
perhaps, in the whole volume, in which the weaknesses of man and the
perfections of God are not blended. Everywhere we have revelations of
the divine glory, and everywhere we have manifestations of human
imperfection. We have human errors side by side with divine truths. We
have neither a perfect teacher nor a perfect example in the whole Book,
but one; and of that one we have not a perfect record, either of His
teachings or His life. We have nothing but brief, imperfect, fragmentary
records of either. They are perfect enough; but they are very imperfect.
And Moses, and the Prophets, and the Apostles, are perfect enough; but
they are all imperfect. The Bible is perfect enough; but it is,
according to the ordinary meaning of the word, still imperfect.

We do not need perfection, we do not need infallibility, in anything;
and we have it not. Imperfection is better, and that we have in
everything.

And all this is in keeping with God's doings in other cases, 'The
inspiration of the Holy One giveth man understanding;' but does not make
his mind infallible. Christians 'have an unction, an inspiration, from
the Holy One, and know all things:' and yet they do not know all things;
but only those things which pertain to God and Christ: and even their
knowledge of these is acquired not all at once, or without the use of
means; but by degrees only, and by the faithful use of their natural
powers.

The Apostles were not machines. Their inspiration did not take away
their liberty, or suspend the use of their natural powers. Nor did it
teach them natural science, or history; or lift them above ordinary,
innocent errors. Nor did it cause them to learn all Christian truth at
once. They gained their knowledge by degrees. Some imagine, that the
moment the Apostles received the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they
were perfect and infallible; whereas it took them nearly ten years to
learn that they were to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. They had the
words of Christ, 'Go ye into _all the world_, and preach the Gospel to
_every creature_;' yet it required nearly ten years, and a special
vision, to make them understand that _every creature_ included the
Gentiles.

Nor have we any proof that the Spirit ever made the Apostles infallible
in every little matter. Paul says, when speaking of the resurrection,
'That which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die.' Now the truth
is, that the seed from which the harvest springs, does not die. It
simply expands and unfolds. His doctrine was right, but the notion on
which he grounded his illustration of it was an error. But it answered
his purpose. And there is a sense in which seed dies. It ceases to be a
seed in becoming a plant.

Bishop Watson says, 'a grain of wheat must become _rotten_ before it can
sprout;' but that is not the case. It ceases to be a mere grain to
become a plant; but it does not become rotten; it remains alive and
sound.

The Apostle is an able minister, a glorious interpreter of Christ and
His doctrine; and there is nothing seriously amiss in his illustrations;
but several of them are based on prevailing misconceptions.

Some say, 'If the Apostles were not infallible in everything, their
writings would be of no use to us. If they might err in one thing, they
might err in others, and we could have no certainty of the truth of
anything.' But that is not true. On one occasion, Paul says, 'I knew not
that it was God's high-priest.' And on another, he says, 'I baptized
none of you but Crispus and Gaius.' Afterwards he says 'I baptized also
the house of Stephanas:' and he finishes by saying, 'I know not whether
I baptized any other.' Will you say, 'If Paul could be ignorant or
mistaken about the high-priest, or the number of persons he had
baptized; he might be ignorant or mistaken on every subject?' The truth
is, a man who was so much taken up with great things, would be sure to
think but little of small things. His determination to know nothing but
Christ; would be sure to keep him from wasting his time or strength on
trifles. A man's ignorance on some points is often proportioned to his
knowledge on others. And Paul is all the more trustworthy on great
matters of Christian truth and duty, because of his indifference to
matters of little or no importance. And say what we will, the Apostles
were not infallible on every point, and they never professed to be so.
They professed to be inspired, and inspired they were, but they did not
profess to be wholly infallible, and it is certain they were not so.

And the admission of the truth on this point, will _not_ destroy our
confidence in them on others. We may believe that the Apostles were
fallible on matters of little moment, and have the fullest assurance
possible that they were right on matters of great importance.

The Apostles themselves were sufficiently assured of the truth of those
impressions which they had received about Christ through their eyes and
ears; yet neither the eyes nor the ears of man are always or absolutely
infallible. I have myself mistaken blue for green, and yellow for white;
and I recollect two occasions on which coal or jet, seemed, at a
distance, in the sunlight, as white as snow. And I have often thought
things to be moving, which were at rest; and things to be at rest, which
were moving. Yet I have the fullest confidence in my eyes. I have
sometimes been mistaken with regard to sounds. I have thought a sound to
be near, when it was far off; and I have thought a sound to be far off,
when it was near. And I have often mistaken one sound for another. Yet I
have all the confidence I need to have in my ears. Both eyes and ears
may need the help of the mind at times; but the mind is always at hand
with its help. In short, I know that all my senses are fallible; yet on
every point of moment I have all the assurance, with regard to things
sensible, that is needful to my welfare.

And so with regard to religious matters. There is nothing like
omniscience,--nothing like infinite or absolutely perfect knowledge or
infallibility in any man: yet every one may have all the information and
all the assurance on things moral and spiritual needful to his comfort
and salvation.

Our assurance of the truth and excellency of Christian doctrine rests on
something better, surer, than theological and metaphysical niceties. You
who fancy that your strong and heart-cheering faith rests on theological
theories, and that if those theories were exploded, it would perish,
are, happily, under a great mistake. Your faith, and hope, and joy,
rest on the harmony between Christianity and your souls. My faith and
trust in the outward world, and my infinite appreciation of its
arrangements, rest, not on any philosophical theory; but on the
wonderful, the perfect adaptation of every thing to my nature, to my
wants, to my comfort and welfare. Nature answers to me, fits into me, at
every point. I am just the kind of being nature was made for; and nature
is just the kind of world my being requires. They match. They answer to
each other exactly, all round, and make one glorious and blessed whole.
And this is the secret of my trust in nature.

And so it is with regard to Christianity and my soul. They are made for
each other. They fit each other. My soul just wants what Christianity
brings; and Christianity just brings what my soul requires. It answers
to my soul, as light and beauty answer to the eye, and as sound and
music answer to the ear, and the whole of nature to the whole of man.
There is neither want, nor superfluity, nor disagreement. Christianity
and my soul, like nature and my physical being, are a glorious match.
They are one: as I and my life are one. Christ is my life. Christ is my
all. And He is all that my soul requires or desires.

And this is the ground of the good Christian's faith. It is not external
or historical evidence; it is not metaphysical niceties or theories; it
is not the endless mass of jarring evidences of any kind which lie in
misty, musty, dusty volumes on the shelves of dreamy, doting divines,
that makes you feel at rest in Jesus; but Jesus Himself, whose fulness
just answers to your wants, and whose life and love just make your
heaven. It is just that, and nothing more.

There is a story of a judge who was celebrated for the wisdom and
justice of his judgments, but often censured for the weakness or folly
of the reasons which he gave for them. Many Christians resemble this
judge. They make a wise and worthy profession of faith; but when they
attempt to give reasons for their belief, they betray the most
lamentable ignorance. They _have_ good reasons, but they cannot put them
into words. They do not always know what their reasons for believing
are. The reasons they assign are not their real reasons. They believed,
and believed on good grounds, for sufficient reasons, years before they
heard of the reasons they give for their belief to those who question
them on the subject. The reasons they assign did not at first convince
them, and they are not the kind of reasons likely to convince others.
And it would be better if, instead of assigning them, they were to say:
'Well; I do not know that I can tell you the reasons why I believe the
Bible; but I have reasons. I am satisfied my belief is right. I am
satisfied the Bible is the right thing for me. I meet with things in it
that make me feel very happy. I meet with things in it that will not let
me do wrong; that will keep impelling me to do right, to do good. I meet
with things in it that support me in trouble; that make me thankful in
prosperity; that fill me with good thoughts, good feelings, good
purposes, good hopes, great peace, sweet rest, strong confidence, and a
blessed prospect of a better life. I like the Bible God: He is a great
protector, and a blessed comforter. I like the Bible story about Jesus,
and all the glorious things it says about His love and salvation. In
short, the Bible is a great part of my life, my soul, my joy, my
strength, my being, and I don't know what I could do without it. I
cannot argue. I don't know the reasons why I believe. But the Bible just
suits my soul, and I am inclined to believe that the world would be a
dark place, and life a poor affair, without its blessed revelations and
precious promises.'

Now in speaking thus, most men would really, without knowing it, be
giving the reasons or grounds of their faith. The great reason really
is, the perfect adaptation of the Bible to their nature and wants. They
believe unconsciously and unthinkingly in the divinity of nature, on
account of the wonderful adaptation of its provisions to their natural
wants. They believe in virtuous love, and honorable marriage, and family
life, and natural affections, and friendship, and society, and
government, and law, on similar grounds. The reasons of their faith are
real, and good, and strong; but like the roots of a tree, they are low
down, out of sight, under the ground. They do not reflect on them, dig
them up, bring them to the light, and give them a critical examination.

This internal evidence is gaining favor day by day. It is preferred by
the ablest modern writers to all others. It was the evidence that
vanquished the infidel socialists of five and thirty years ago. It is
the evidence that makes our modern infidel advocates wince and waver.
They hardly think it necessary to notice the historical evidences. They
know that they seldom get hold of men's hearts. But they cannot afford
to despise the internal evidences. They are a real power. Thousands are
touched by a sight of Jesus as presented in the Gospels, for one that is
moved by arguments from miracles or prophecies. Even the miracles of
Jesus owe their chief power to their benevolent character.

The ablest American writer on the Evidences of Christianity, Rev. Mark
Hopkins, makes the moral and internal evidence almost everything, and
the external ones next to nothing.

The Rev. F. C. Cooke, Canon of Exeter, in his lecture before the
Christian Evidence Society of London, says, 'The one great evidence, the
master evidence, the evidence with which all other evidences will stand
or fall, is Christ Himself speaking by His own word. It is the character
of Jesus that makes men feel that He and His religion are divine. It is
this that warms men's hearts, and wins their love, and produces a faith
full of life and power. Other evidences apart from this leave men cold,
and indifferent, or opposed to Christ.' But more on this point
hereafter.



CHAPTER XV.

GOES INTO POLITICS. ARRESTED. LODGED IN PRISON. ELECTED TOWN COUNCILLOR,
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, &C.


In 1846, I began to dabble in politics. And my views of political
subjects were as much out of the ordinary way as my views on matters
pertaining to religion. I was a republican. I would have no King, no
Queen, no House of Lords, and no State Church. I would abolish the laws
of entail and primogeniture, and reduce land to a level with other kinds
of property. The sale of land should be as untrammelled as that of
common merchandise, and it should be as liable to be taken for debt. I
broached startling views with regard to the right of property in land,
and urged that as it was naturally common property, it should be
considered as belonging, in part, to the nation, or Government, and made
to bear the principal burden of taxation. I recommended that the
property of the church should be used for the promotion of education. I
proposed to divide the country into equal electoral districts, and give
to every man who was not a criminal, a vote for members of Parliament.
As a rule, I held up America as an example in matters of government, but
objected to a Senate and a four years' President, preferring to place
all power in the hands of one Body, the direct representatives of the
people. A committee of that Body should be the _ministry_, and the
chairman of that committee the President.

I really believed that this would be the perfection of Government. And
if all men were naturally good, as Unitarianism taught, what could be
wiser or better calculated to secure the happiness of a nation, than to
give every one an equal share of the power? I believed with Paine, that
a pure and unqualified democracy would secure the strictest economy, the
greatest purity, the best laws, and the most perfect administration of
the laws. I also believed that a pure unmixed democracy would prevent
insurrections, rebellions, and civil war, and that it would promote
peace with all the world. True, I believed the people would require
education, but I also believed that an ultra democracy would see to it
that the people _were_ educated, and educated in the best possible way.
Were not the people educated in America? And were we not taught that the
educational system of America was the result of its democratic form of
Government? And were not Price and Priestley democrats? And were not
Channing and Parker, the two great lights of Unitarianism in America,
democrats? Democracy then was the remedy for the evils of the world; the
one thing needful to the salvation of our race.

More extravagant or groundless notions have seldom entered the mind of
man. Yet I accepted them as the true political gospel, and exerted
myself to the utmost to propagate them among the masses of my
countrymen. The Irish reformers demanded a repeal of the Union and the
right of self-government. I advocated both repeal for Ireland and
Republicanism for England. And in all my speeches and publications I
gave utterance to the bitterest reproaches against the aristocracy, and
against all who took their part. I had suffered grievously in my early
days. I had been subjected to all the hardships and miseries of extreme
poverty. I had spent three years on the verge of starvation, never
knowing, more than twice or thrice during the whole of that dreadful
period, what it was to have the gnawings of hunger appeased by a
plentiful meal. I had seen one near and dear to me perish for want of
food, and had escaped the same sad fate myself by a kind of miracle
only. And all these sufferings I believed to have been caused by the
corn and provision laws, enacted and maintained by the selfishness of
the aristocracy. I regarded the aristocracy therefore, and all who took
their part, as my personal enemies; as men who had robbed me of my daily
bread, and all but sent me to an untimely grave. I regarded them as the
greatest of criminals, as the enemies of the human race. I considered
them answerable for the horrors of the first great French Revolution,
and for the miseries of the Irish famine. I gave them credit for nothing
good. True, they had allowed the Reform Bill of 1831 to pass, but not
till they saw that a refusal would cause a revolution. They had accepted
free trade, but not till they saw that to reject it would be their ruin.
I had not then learnt that in legislating with an eye to their own
interests they had done no more than other classes are accustomed to do
when they get possession of power. I had not yet discovered that the
germs of selfish legislation and tyranny are sown in the hearts of all,
and that the faults of the higher classes prevail among all classes
under different forms. I saw the misdoings of the parties in power, and
looked no further, and I heaped on them the bitterest invectives. My
passionate hatred of the privileged classes, expressed in the plainest
English, and justified, apparently, by so much that was bad in the
history of their doings, roused the indignation of my hearers and
readers to the highest pitch. I commenced a periodical, which at once
became a favorite with the ultra democrats, and speedily gained an
extensive circulation.

In 1847, in my _Companion to the Almanacs_, I foretold the French
Revolution of 1848. How it happened I do not exactly know; but I have,
at times, made remarkable guesses, and this perhaps was one of them.
When the Revolution took place it caused a tremendous excitement in
every nation in Europe. Kings and emperors found it necessary to promise
their subjects constitutional governments. It turned the heads of many
people in England. Numbers who had never been politicians before, became
politicians then. And many politicians who had previously been moderate
in their views, became wild and revolutionary. The Chartists clamored
for "the Charter, the whole Charter, and nothing but the Charter."
Meetings were held in almost every part of the country, and speeches
were delivered, and publications were circulated, of a most inflammatory
character. Monster demonstrations were got up, and many who did not take
part in them encouraged them, in hopes that they would frighten the
Government into large concessions to the party of reform. A meeting of
the leading reformers was called in London, and I was present. Young
Stansfield, now member of Parliament, was there, and Sergeant Parry, and
Edward Miall, and Henry Vincent, and a number of others. The Chartists
arranged for a convention in London, and I was sent as a member. The
meeting cut but a pitiful figure. It soon got into unspeakable disorder.
The second day the question was, "What means should we recommend our
constituents to use in order to obtain the reforms they desired?" I,
extravagant as I had shown myself on many points, had always set myself
against resort to violence. My counsel therefore was for peaceful, legal
measures. Ernest Jones and several others clamored for organization,
with a view to an armed insurrection. By and by we got into confusion
again. Some one hinted that agents of the Government were present, and
that we were venturing on dangerous ground. Ernest Jones replied, "It is
not for us to be afraid of the Government, but for the Government to be
afraid of us." Confusion got worse confounded. I began to be ashamed of
my position. Mad as I was, I was not insane enough for the leaders of
the convention, so I started home.

On Good Friday there was an immense meeting on Skircoat Moor, near
Halifax, and I was one of the speakers. It was the largest assembly I
ever saw. The Speakers that preceded me talked about the uselessness of
talk, and called for action. I talked about the usefulness of talk, and
contended that resort to violence would be both folly and wickedness.
While I was speaking, a man in the crowd on my left fired a pistol, as
if to intimidate me, and encourage the party favorable to insurrection.
I at once denounced him as a traitor, who had come to hurry the people
into crime, or a madman, whom no one ought for a moment to think of
imitating. The physical force men were terribly vexed at my remarks, but
the mass of the meeting applauded my counsels, and the immense concourse
dispersed and went home, without either perpetrating a crime, or meeting
with an accident.

My advocacy of peace was duly appreciated by some even of those who
lamented the extravagance of my views on other subjects. Others looked
on me with unmitigated horror. And the feelings of the richer classes
generally against me rose to such a pitch at length, that it was hardly
safe for me to go abroad after dark. My religious and political
opponents joined their forces, and seemed bent on my destruction. They
believed I was undermining the foundations of society, and throwing all
things into confusion. They looked on me as little better than a madman,
scattering abroad firebrands, arrows, and death. And many treated me as
a kind of outlaw, as a man who had no rights that anybody was bound to
respect; and rude boys and reckless men took liberties with my property,
and even threatened me with death. Insurance companies would not insure
my property. Schoolmasters would not admit my sons into their schools,
lest others should take their children away. Mothers would not allow
their daughters to play with my little daughter, lest she should infect
them with her father's heresies.

After the Summer Assizes in 1848, the judge at Liverpool issued Bench
warrants for the arrest of a number of political agitators, and in the
list of the names of those parties, published in the newspapers, mine
was included. As I had always kept within the limits of the law, and as
I had received no visit from the police, I supposed that my name had
been inserted in the list by mistake. And as I was allowed to remain at
large for six weeks, I felt confident that it was either some other
Joseph Barker that was wanted, or that my name had been mentioned as one
of the parties to be arrested, in jest, or to frighten me into silence.

And the probability is, that if I had kept at home and remained quiet, I
should have been permitted to go on with my business undisturbed. But I
had an engagement at the end of six weeks, to give two political
lectures at Bolton. Just about that time a vacancy occurred in the
representation of that Borough, and my friends there, without consulting
me, put me forward as a candidate for the vacant seat, and announced my
lectures as a statement of my political views, urging the people to come
and hear me, and judge for themselves, whether I was not the fittest man
to represent them in the National Legislature.

I gave my first lecture on a Friday night, to a crowded and excited
audience in the Town Hall, and when I had done, the people passed a
resolution by acclamation, to the effect that I was just the man for
them, and that they would have no other.

On the Saturday I went on into Wales, to fulfil an engagement which I
had for the Sunday, and returned on Monday to give my second lecture.
When I got near to Bolton, some friends met me, and told me that the
police from Manchester were in the town looking for me, and that I had
better go right home. I said, "Nay, I never broke an engagement yet, and
I won't do so now;" so I went on. As soon as I had rested myself a
little I went direct to the head of the Manchester police, and asked him
if he would not allow me to deliver my lecture, promising, if he wished
it, to go with him quietly afterwards. He said, No, I could not be
allowed to deliver my lecture, and added, that I must consider myself
his prisoner. I, of course, offered no resistance, but at his request
went with him at once to the railway station. The people had already
collected in the streets as I passed along, and there was soon an
excited crowd at the station, but I and my friends urged them to be
peaceful, and peaceful they were. We were soon at Manchester, and I was
taken at once to the City Jail, where lodgings had been procured for me
at the public expense. I passed the night in an underground cell, of the
kind provided for criminals of the baser sort. It was anything but clean
and sweet, and the conduct of the authorities in placing me in such a
hole, when I was not even charged with any gross offence, was neither
wise nor just. There were some raised boards on one side, but no bed, no
sheets, no blankets.

It was not long before a number of friends who had heard of my arrest,
called to see me, and were admitted to my dungeon. They brought some
food, some candles, and as they had been informed that I had not been
permitted to wash myself before being locked up, one of them, a lady,
brought me a moistened towel with which to wipe my face. While these
kind friends were trying to make things comfortable for me in my prison,
others were running to and fro in search of bail, with a view to my
speedy release. One dear, good soul, Mr. Travers Madge, when he heard
that I was in jail, started at once for Mossley, a distance of ten or
eleven miles, to see Mr. Robinson, a faithful friend, to request him to
come to my help. It was two o'clock in the morning when, weary and full
of anxiety, he knocked at Mr. Robinson's door. Mr. Robinson rose as soon
as he heard his voice, and took him into the house, and requested him to
take something to eat, and go to rest till daylight, promising to start
with him back to Manchester by the earliest conveyance. But poor Mr.
Madge could neither eat nor sleep till his friend was out of prison.

Early in the morning I was brought into court. Bail was offered at once,
but the magistrates would not accept bail so early, though offered by
well-known and thoroughly respectable parties. The reason was, the
election was to take place at Bolton that day, and the magistrates were
afraid that if I were allowed to be present, there might be more
excitement than would be consistent with the peace and safety of the
Borough. So they kept me in prison till four o'clock, when they received
intelligence that the election was over, and that all was peaceful. They
then set me at liberty. I went at once to Bolton, and found, sure
enough, that I had been elected, and that by an immense majority, of
more than eight to one. And as no one else was elected at that time,
either by show of hands or a poll, I was, in truth, the only legal
representative, though I never sat in Parliament. Explanations after.

I was soon surrounded by a vast multitude of people, to whom I gave a
short address. As soon as I could get away from the excited crowd, I
hastened home. A friend had started for Wortley as soon as I was out of
prison, to inform my wife and children that I was safe and at liberty,
and he was there when I arrived. It fortunately happened that my family
heard of my imprisonment and of my liberation at the same time, and from
the same lips, so that the shock they received was not so severe as it
might have been. But they were terribly tried. It would be vain to
attempt to describe their feelings when they saw me enter the house. I
did my best to comfort them, and assured them that I should take no
hurt.

I was bound over to appear to take my trial at the Winter Assizes on a
charge of sedition and conspiracy, and I set to work to prepare for the
event. A good kind friend residing at Barnard Castle, George Brown,
Esq., who had helped me in my contests with my theological opponents,
helped me in this new trial. He had studied the law all his life, and
was a most faithful and trustworthy adviser. He directed me what steps
to take, and all his instructions proved wise and good.

My friends set on foot a subscription, to procure for me the ablest
defence, and raised, in the course of a few weeks, from two to three
hundred pounds. I am amazed when I look back to those days, at the
number and ardor of my friends, and at the eagerness with which they
hastened to my aid.

Some friends from Holbeck, in the Borough of Leeds, requested me to
allow myself to be put forward as a candidate for the Town Council at
the approaching election. Not thinking that I should have any chance of
being elected, I hesitated; but as they expressed a contrary opinion,
and seemed exceedingly anxious that I should place myself in their
hands, I complied with their request. They elected me by the largest
number of votes that had ever been given for a town councillor in any
borough in the kingdom up to that time. My neighbors chose this method
of testifying their regard for me, and of protesting against the conduct
of the Government in interfering with my liberty.

At length the Assizes came. I made my appearance in court at the time
appointed, with more than thirty voluntary witnesses by my side, all
prepared to testify, that in my lectures and public speeches I had
uniformly advocated peaceful measures, and denounced everything in the
shape of conspiracy, violence, or insurrection. I waited ten days for my
trial, attending in court all the time. I watched the trials of other
political prisoners, and was not a little discouraged to find that they
were all convicted, and sentenced, generally, to lengthy terms of
imprisonment. The charge against one of the prisoners was, that he had
sold and circulated seditious publications. Copies of the works which he
was charged with circulating were brought into court. What were my
feelings when I found that the publications were my own _Companion to
the Almanacs_, and my weekly periodical _The People_. These works were
handed about the court, and placed in the hands of the judge. The man
was convicted, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. What chance was
there now for me? My solicitor advised me to plead guilty, telling me I
should thus get off with a lighter punishment; but I refused. Some _did_
plead guilty, and _did_ get off with lighter punishments than those who
stood their trial; but I was determined to have a public trial, or else
be honorably discharged.

It was alarming enough to see a man convicted for selling my
publications: but something still more alarming happened the following
day. A most unprincipled and lying witness was brought forward by the
Attorney-General. During the trial of one of the Chartist leaders he
swore that he had himself formed one of a band of conspirators in
Manchester, who pledged themselves to burn the city, and who had
prepared the most destructive combustibles to secure the success of
their horrible plot. When asked to name the parties composing the
meeting at which he said he had been present, he named me as one. I was
horrified. I had never seen the man before in all my life, and the idea
that I should be a party to such a plot as he had described, was
monstrous; but what was to hinder a prejudiced or a frightened jury from
believing his testimony? Fortunately for me, the Judge asked him if he
saw in court, and could point out, any of the persons he had named as
parties to the conspiracy. I stood within two or three yards of him, and
looked him full in the face. It was plain from the way in which his
wandering eyes passed by me, that whatever other parties he might know,
he did not know me. At length he pointed out a person that he said was
present at the secret meeting. 'What is his name?' said the Judge. The
fellow gave a name. It was not the right one. He pointed out another.
'What is his name?' said the Judge again. The fellow gave a name. He was
wrong again. The court got out of patience with the villain, and the
Judge ordered him into custody to await his trial on a charge of
perjury. This was an unspeakable relief both to me and to my anxious
wife and friends, who had witnessed the dreadful affair with the most
intense anxiety and alarm.

Some time after this horrible exhibition of baseness, my solicitor came
to me and told me that he had had an interview with the
Attorney-General, and that he had authorized him to say, that if I would
enter into bonds and give securities to keep the peace, he would not ask
me to plead guilty, but set me at liberty without more to do. He even
offered, at last, to accept my own recognizances to the small amount of
fifty pounds, without any other security. I refused the offer. To give
bonds to keep the peace seemed like an acknowledgment that I had
attempted or threatened to break it; and I had done no such thing. My
solicitor said the offer was a very generous one, and pressed me very
earnestly to accept it: my counsel did the same; but without effect. A
number of friends came round me and tried to remove my objections to the
measure: but all was vain. I was sorry to go against their advice, but
my feeling was, that to agree to the compromise proposed would be a
sacrifice of principle, and would entail dishonor on me, and be followed
by self-reproach and shame. At last, to obtain a little respite, and to
get out of the way of my importunate friends for a time, I told my
solicitor that I would lay the matter before my wife, and that whatever
she might advise, I would do. He agreed to this. He was satisfied that
there was not a woman in the country that would not advise her husband
to make a concession like that required of me, rather than see him run
the risk of two or three years' imprisonment.

My wife was at Southport just then, some eighteen miles away, and it was
too late for me to get to her that evening, so I had to spend the night
alone in Liverpool. I went to bed, but found it impossible to sleep. My
anxious mind kept turning over and over the proposal of the
Attorney-General, and trying to find some good reason for accepting it;
but all in vain. I had promised to be guided by my wife; but suppose she
should counsel me to give the required security, could I do so and be
happy? It seemed impossible. It struck twelve,--it struck
one--two--three, and I was still unsettled. At last I said, 'I will
explain my misgivings to my wife,--I will tell her that I feel as if I
should never be happy to consent to the compromise,--that I cannot get
rid of the feeling that it would be dishonorable. And I know she will
never advise me to do anything that I regard as dishonorable.' As soon
as I had fairly decided what to do, I fell asleep.

I was at Southport in the morning by the earliest conveyance, and laid
the matter before my wife. 'Do nothing,' said she, 'that you regard as a
sacrifice of principle, or an act of dishonor. Whatever you believe to
be your duty, do it; I am willing to take the consequences.' I answered,
'I believe it my duty to insist on a trial, or on an honorable
discharge,' 'Then insist on it,' said she. That was enough. I returned
to Liverpool at once, and told my solicitor the result of my interview
with my wife, and he communicated the intelligence to the
Attorney-General. The Attorney-General was very much vexed, and, using
an expression which we cannot with propriety repeat, declared that he
would 'make me squeak.'

The result of my refusal was that the Attorney-General put off my case
to the very last. On the eleventh day of the Assizes I was placed in the
dock with a number of prisoners who had agreed to plead guilty, and
enter into bonds. My name was called at length, and I refused either to
plead guilty, or to be bound to keep the peace. 'Can there be any man
so foolish as not to accept the mercy of her Majesty?' said the Judge.
My answer was, that I had committed no crime, and that it was justice
that I wanted, and not mercy. 'I demand a trial,' said I, 'or an
honorable discharge. I have been arrested on a charge of sedition and
conspiracy, and held up before the world as a criminal, and I claim the
right of justifying myself before the public, unless I am honorably
discharged.' The Judge said I had no need to concern myself about the
public,--that the public did not concern itself about me. I answered
that the public _did_ concern itself about me; and that I was right in
concerning myself about the public. At this point my Counsel rose, and
spoke of my character and position, with a view to justify my demand for
a trial, or an honorable discharge. The Attorney-General then applied
for a postponement of my trial to the following Assizes, alleging that I
was the author of a seditious and blasphemous publication. I said the
statement was false, and that the Attorney-General had no right to make
such a charge against me, and added that to ask a postponement after I
and my witnesses had been waiting there eleven days, was most
unreasonable. The Judge then asked on what grounds a postponement was
desired. When the Attorney-General stated his grounds, the Judge
pronounced them insufficient. The Attorney-General then said he should
enter a _nolle prosequi_. Some of my friends, when they heard this, were
greatly alarmed. They supposed it to be a threat of something very
terrible, and expected to see me carried away at once to prison. And
some of the bystanders began to reproach me, and say I was rightly
served for not accepting the generous offer of the Attorney-General. I,
of course, knew that the Attorney-General's _nolle prosequi_ meant that
he would have nothing more to do with me, and that I was now free. While
therefore my friends were fearing and trembling, I stood calm and
comfortable. After a few moments the Judge said 'You are at liberty, and
may retire.'

When my friends found that I was free, they were wild with delight, and
flocked round me, eager to shake me by the hand, and give me their
congratulations. They were now satisfied that in rejecting the proposal
of the Attorney-General, I had done no more than my duty. One
gentleman, who had been bail for me, was extravagant enough to declare
that I occupied the proudest position of any man in the country. 'You
have withstood the tyranny of the Government,' said he, 'and have
triumphed.' I hurried home as fast as I could with my happy wife and my
exulting friends. When we got there the cannon were roaring and the
bands playing. My workmen and neighbors had heard of my triumph, and
were celebrating it in the noisiest way they could. Then followed
feasting and public congratulations, both at home and in distant parts
of the country, and for a time I was quite a hero.

The interference of the authorities with my liberty, and the needless
annoyances to which they had subjected me, had roused my indignation to
a high pitch, and after my liberation, I wrote and spoke more violently
against the Government than I had done before. At length the great
excitement in which I had so long lived, and the excessive labors in
which I had been so long engaged, exhausted my strength; my health began
to fail; I thought my constitution was giving way, so I resolved on some
change of position and occupation.

I had long suffered from dyspepsia. For twenty years I had spent so much
nervous energy in mental work, that I had not sufficient left to digest
my food. And I had suffered in consequence, not only from violent
heart-burn, but from a more distressing pain at the pit of my stomach. I
had continually, or almost continually, for months together, a feeling
as if a red-hot bullet lay burning in my stomach, or as if some living
creature was eating a hole through the bottom of it. I took medicine,
but it gave me no relief. The disuse of intoxicating drinks had once
cured me for a time,--cured me for some years in fact,--but the
torturing, depressing sensation came again at last, and seemed more
obstinate than ever.

In 1847, as I was leaving home one day in the train, I was seized with a
pain of a much more dreadful description. It seemed as if it would burst
my stomach, or tear it in pieces, and destroy my life at once. It
continued for nearly an hour. It returned repeatedly, and remained
sometimes for several hours. In some cases it tortured me all night.
Vomiting took it away, so I frequently took warm water to produce
vomiting. I was advised to take more exercise in the open air, so I
bought a gun and went out shooting. I purchased a horse and carriage
too, and went out riding. These did me good. But I found that when I
took certain kinds of food, such as rich cakes, rich pies, or rich
puddings, the pain returned. So I began to deny myself of those
luxuries. But even spare living seemed to lose its effect after a time,
and first the gnawing, and then the stretching, tearing, rending pain
returned.

In 1849, I took a voyage to America. Vast numbers of my readers wanted
to emigrate to America, and they looked to me for information respecting
the country. I had given them the best I could get, but they wanted more
and better. They wanted me to visit the country, and give them the
result of my observations and inquiries. I did so. To fit myself the
better for giving them counsel, I crossed the ocean in a common emigrant
sailing vessel, and saw how the poor creatures fared. We were nearly
eight weeks on the water. For much of the time the winds were idle. They
refused to blow. They might have struck for shorter hours or better pay.
When they did blow, they blew with all their might, but almost always in
the wrong direction; as if they regarded us as their enemies, and were
bent on giving us all the annoyance they could. Many were sick; more
were discontented; and all longed wearily for land. These eight weeks
were the longest ones I ever lived. They looked like years. At length we
got a sight of land, and rejoiced exceedingly. For myself, I had other
feelings as well as joy, when I first got sight of the great New World
of which I had heard, and read, and thought so much, and so long, and of
which I had dreamt so often. For America had lived in my thoughts from
my early days; and the first faint glimpse of her wooded shores thrilled
my whole soul with unspeakable emotions.

We landed. I examined the emigrant boarding houses. I sought information
about work and wages, and about means of transport to the West. I called
on Horace Greeley and others, to whom I had letters of recommendation,
who helped me to books about the West. I made my way through New York,
and across Lake Erie to Cleveland. I had three brothers who were
settled in different parts of Ohio, and a number of old friends. I
visited them. I explored Ohio. I went into Western Virginia, and
examined some lands there that had been advertised for sale in England.
I passed on to Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. I spent some
days in Chicago. The city was awfully dull. The people were despondent.
I almost think I could have bought the whole city for fifty thousand
pounds. I had a farm offered me for seven dollars and a half an acre, on
which now a great part of the city I suppose is built. I went to
Milwaukie. There the people seemed more hopeful; though several were
leaving for warmer climes. It was autumn, and I treated myself freely to
the peaches and other rich fruits of the country. About the end of
October I started for England, in one of the Cunard Steamers, crossing
the ocean in nine days, about one-sixth of the time I spent in the
voyage out.

I gave to my readers an account of all I had seen, and heard, and read,
and thousands of them left the land of their birth in search of homes in
the domains of the Great Republic. Some got home-sick, and cursed me.
Some got profitable work, or promising farms, and blessed me. And I
learned two lessons; first, that a man must not look to men for the
reward of his beneficent services, but to God and a good conscience;
and, second, that some will be miserable, and that some will be happy,
go where they may:--that it is not the land they live in, but the
dispositions they cherish, and the life they live, that makes their
heaven or hell.

I had already made up my mind to settle in America myself, and early in
1851 I disposed of my business, and prepared to transport myself and my
family to Central Ohio. I had suffered so long from pain, and weakness,
and depression, and I was so utterly wearied with continual over-work,
and so disgusted too with the government and institutions of the
country, and with some of its inhabitants, that I felt it an infinite
relief to be freed from all further care and concern about business, and
in the first rush of my new wild joy, I took my gun and blew off part of
the top of the chimney of my printing establishment. No child could be
wilder in his delight, when escaping from long confinement in a weary
school, and starting for the longed-for society and pleasures of his
home.

But preparing for a journey of four thousand miles, with wife and
children, was itself work enough for a time. There were a hundred things
to be bought, which you would need in your new and far off home. And
there were a thousand things which you already had, to be packed, and as
many more to be set aside, to be destroyed, or sold, or given away. And
there were a thousand letters and papers to be examined, and a judgment
formed, as to which should be preserved, and which should perish in the
flames. And there were visits to be paid and repaid, and there were
partings, and regrets, and tears. But all was over at length, and we
were on our way to the world beyond the flood.

It was pleasant to get away from one's religious and political
opponents, but painful to part with so many devoted friends, who had
proved their affection for me and for my family by so many sacrifices,
and their steadfastness in times of so much trial. But I had hopes of
keeping up my intercourse with them through the Press, and of
ministering to their gratification and improvement by sending them
accounts of all I saw or learnt of an interesting character in the land
to which I was going. I had also hopes that a quiet home, in a retired
and peaceful part of a new country, might prove conducive to my own
improvement and happiness.

One of the objects I had in view in going to America was to obtain a
little quiet for calm reflection on the course I had so long been
pursuing, and a sober consideration of the position which I had reached.
I was not satisfied that the changes which had taken place in my views
and way of life, since my separation from the Church and the ministry,
had all been changes for the better. I had had suspicions for some time,
that amidst the whirl of perpetual excitement in which I had lived, and
the continual succession of angry contests in which I had been engaged,
I had probably missed my way on some points, and I wished for a
favorable opportunity of ascertaining whether these suspicions were well
grounded or not.

But when I got to America I found myself in a condition less friendly to
calm reflection and to a just and impartial review of my past history,
than the one from which I had fled. The very day we landed in New York
we fell in with the Hutchinson family. I had become acquainted with them
in England, and had spent some time in their company, and had attended
some of their concerts at Leeds. They were to sing that night in New
York, and we attended the performance, and were delighted with their
sweet wild music, and with their wisdom and their wit. They were all
reformers of the radical school, and though their songs and conversation
were not immoral or profane, they were advanced beyond the bounds of
religion, into the neutral ground of Latitudinarianism.

When we got to Akron, Ohio, we found a Woman's Rights Convention in
session; and there we got introduced to a number of advanced spirits,
both male and female, and in their society became acquainted with quite
a multitude of strange and lawless speculations, of which, till then, we
had lived in happy or in woful ignorance. We reached at length the
region where we were to make our home, and now other matters engrossed
my mind. I had, in the first place, a farm to select, and then the
purchase to make. I had then my goods to look after, my house to
arrange, and my food to provide. Then work wanted doing on the farm--a
hundred kinds of work, all new, and many of them hard and very
perplexing. We wanted men to aid us; and men were not to be got; or,
when got, were difficult to manage, and hard to please. And horses, and
cows, and sheep, were wanted; and poultry, and pigs; and ploughs, and
harrows, and wagons, and harness. And stoves and fuel were required. And
the house had to be enlarged, and the barns rebuilt, and the gardens
cultivated, and the orchard replanted. And a hundred lessons on farming
had to be learnt, and a hundred more to be unlearnt. And we were always
making mistakes, and sustaining losses. And our neighbors were not all
that we could wish; and we were not all that they could wish. It was
impossible to avoid impositions, and difficult to take injustice
quietly; so we remonstrated, and resisted, and made things worse.

Before we had got ourselves fairly settled we began to be visited by a
number of friends. And many of those friends were wilder and more
extravagant, in their views on religion and politics, than myself; and
instead of helping me to quiet reflection, did much to render such a
thing impossible. They were mostly Garrisonian Abolitionists, with whom
I had become acquainted while in England, or through the medium of
anti-slavery publications. Many of them had had an experience a good
deal like my own. They had been members and ministers of churches, and
had got into trouble in consequence of their reforming tendencies, and
had at length been cast out, or obliged to withdraw. They had waged a
long and bitter war against the churches and ministers of their land,
and had become skeptics and unbelievers of a somewhat extravagant kind.
Henry C. Wright was an Atheist. So were some others of the party. My own
descent to skepticism was attributable in some measure to my intercourse
with them, and to a perusal of their works, while in England. The first
deadly blow was struck at my belief in the supernatural inspiration of
the Scriptures by Henry C. Wright. It was in conversation with him too
that my belief in the necessity of church organization was undermined,
and that the way was smoothed to that state of utter lawlessness which
so naturally tends to infidelity and all ungodliness. My respect for the
talents of the abolitionists, and the interest I felt in the cause to
which they had devoted their lives, and the sympathy arising from the
similar way in which we had all been treated by the churches and
priesthoods with which we had come in contact, disposed me, first, to
regard their skeptical views with favor, and then to accept them as
true.

And now they welcomed me to their native land, and embraced the earliest
opportunity of visiting me in my new home. And all that passed between
us tended to confirm us in our common unbelief. I afterwards found that
in some of the abolitionists, in nearly all, I fear, anti-christian
views had led to immoral habits, which rendered their antipathy to
Christianity all the more bitter. In almost all of them infidelity had
produced a lawlessness of speculation on moral matters, which could
hardly fail to produce in the end, if it had not already produced, great
licentiousness of life.

I had no sooner got things comfortably fixed at home, than I received
an invitation from the American Anti-slavery Society, to attend their
Annual Meeting, which was to be held in Rochester, New York. I went, and
there I met with S. S. Foster, Abby Kelly Foster, Parker Pillsbury, C.
L. Remond, Henry C. Wright, Wendell Phillips, W. L. Garrison, Lucy
Stone, Lucretia and Lydia Mott, and a number of other leading
Abolitionists. Here too I met with Frederick Douglas, the celebrated
fugitive slave, who had settled in Rochester, and was publishing his
paper there. Some of the Anti-Slavery Leaders I had seen before in
England, and had had the pleasure of having them as my guests, and of
enjoying their conversation. Henry C. Wright, W. L. Garrison, Frederick
Douglas, and C. L. Remond, were old acquaintances. The rest I knew only
by report: but I had read the story of their labors and sufferings in
behalf of the negro slave, and had longed for years to make their
acquaintance. They were, in my estimation, among the best and bravest of
their race. I had read of them a thousand times with the greatest
interest, and a thousand times I had wished for the honor of
co-operating with them in their generous labors. And now I was in their
midst, on American soil. And all seemed glad to make my acquaintance,
and eager to testify their regard for me, and to welcome me to a share
in their benevolent labors. I was soon at home with them all, for they
were a free and hearty people. I attended both their public and their
private meetings. The anniversary lasted several days, and the time was
one continued Festival. There were people from almost every part of the
country, and the house of every Anti-Slavery person in the city was
placed at the service of the visitors. They were as one family, and had
all things in common. The public meetings were largely attended, and the
audiences seemed favorably impressed. In the intervals I visited the
Falls on the Genesee River. More beautiful and enchanting scenes I never
beheld. In all but terrible grandeur they equal, if they do not surpass,
the Falls of Niagara.

And there was an infinite abundance of strange and exciting conversation
in many of the circles, not only on Slavery, but on the Bible and
Religion, on the Church and the Priesthood, and on Woman's Rights, and
the Bloomer Costume, and Marriage Laws, and Free-love, and Education,
and Solomon's Rod, and Non-resistance, and Human Government, and
Communism, and Individualism, and Unitarianism, and Theodore Parkerism,
and Spiritualism, and Vegetarianism, and Teetotalism, and Deism, and
Atheism, and Clairvoyance, and Andrew Jackson Davis, and the American
Congress, and Quakerism, and William Henry Channing, and his journey to
England, and Free-soil, and the Public Lands, and the Common Right to
the Soil, and Rent, and Interest, and Capital, and Labor, and
Fourierism, and Congeniality of Spirit, and Natural Affinities, and
Domestic Difficulties, and--the Good time Coming. All were full of
reform, and most were wild and fanatical. Some regarded marriage as
unnatural, and pleaded for Free-love as the law of life. Some were for
Communism, but differed as to the form which it ought to assume. One
contended that all should be perfectly free,--that each should be a law
unto himself, and should work, and rest, and eat, and drink, as his own
free spirit should prompt him. Another said that the principle had been
tried, and had failed,--that some were anxious to do all the eating, and
sleeping, and loving, and left others to do all the working. Joseph
Treat was there, advocating Atheism, and defending the right of men and
women, married or single, to give free play to native tendencies and
sexual affinities. But Treat was indifferently clad, and not well
washed, and he was evidently no great favorite. * * * Most were in favor
of non-resistance, and full individual freedom. To acknowledge the right
of human government and of human laws, was treason to humanity. Man is a
law to himself. He is his own governor. The Protestant principle of the
right of private judgment and liberty of conscience strikes at the root
of all the governments on earth. Each one's nature is his own sole law.
The one principle of duty is, for every one to do that which is right in
his own eyes. The principle of the Anti-Slavery Society means that, and
neither more nor less. And the Anti-Slavery Society will, after
emancipating the negro, destroy all the governments, remodel all the
laws and institutions, and emancipate all the nations of the earth. Of
course the laws of marriage will fall to the ground. Why not? They
originated only with men,--with men who lived in darker times, and who
were less developed, than we. It would be strange if children could make
laws fit to govern men. And with the laws of marriage will go the laws
of property in land. Land was common property at first, and what right
had any one to make it private? The first man who appropriated land was
a thief. And those who inherited it from him were receivers of stolen
goods. And the title that was vicious at first could never be made valid
by time. The continuance of a wrong can never make it right. Allow that
men have a right to the land in consequence of long possession and
inheritance, and you must allow that men may have a right to their
slaves. The right to land, and the right to slaves, are not so different
as some would suppose. What is man's right to his own body worth, if he
is deprived of his right to the land? Man lives from the land, and
unless he has a right to the land, he can have no right to life. A right
to life implies a right to the land. Men live _on_ the land as well as
_from_ it; and if they have not a right to the land, they can have no
right to live. And man has a right to perfect freedom. Life without
freedom is slavery; and slavery is the extinction of all rights, the
right to life included. And woman has equal rights with man. And
children have equal rights with either. The idea that human beings have
no rights till they are twenty-one, is monstrous. What mighty change is
it that takes place at the moment a person reaches the age of
twenty-one, that he should be a slave a moment before, and a free man a
moment after? No change at all takes place. The rights of a human being
are the gift of Nature, and not the gift of the law. Who authorized men
to make laws for one another? In making men different from each other,
Nature has made it impossible for one man to legislate wisely for
another. The majority have a right to rule themselves, but they have no
fight to rule the minority. All rights are the rights of individuals,
and the rights of individuals composing a minority, are the same as the
rights of individuals composing a majority. A man may elect a
representative; but he cannot be bound by a representative elected by
others. Children should be educated, not by force or authority, but by
attraction. The assumption of authority over a child by a parent is
usurpation; the use of authority over a child is tyranny. The
individuality of a child is its life, and life is sacred. To destroy
individuality is murder. We have no right to take Nature's place, and
make a human being something different from what she has formed him.
Solomon's rod and Paul's authority are alike immoral. All should be
governed by their attractions, like the orbs of heaven, and the
constituents of the earth. The law of Nature is one, both for living men
and dead matter. Our sympathies and affinities are our only rulers. They
are ourselves,--our best selves,--and to allow either law or ruler to
interfere with them, is self-destruction. We are no longer ourselves
when we allow ourselves to be controlled by the will or power of
another. Animals have equal rights with man. The poet was right when he
said,

     "Take not away the life thou canst not give,
     For all things have an equal right to live."

How _can_ man have a right to take away the life of an animal? The lower
animals occupied the world before man, and man, a later comer, could not
abrogate the prior rights of his predecessors. The use of animal food is
unnatural. It is unhealthy. In feeding on other living creatures man
degrades, corrupts, and then destroys himself. And vegetables, grains,
and fruits should be taken in their natural state. The art of cooking is
an unnatural innovation. The first of our race did not cook. Man is the
only cooking animal, and he is the only sickly one. He is the only one
that loses his teeth, or suffers from indigestion. Teetotalism is
binding on all. Alcohol is an unnatural product. Man is the only being
unnatural enough to drink it. Grapes are good, and so is grain; but
wine, and beer, and spirits, are a trinity of devils, which destroy the
bodies and torment the souls of unnatural men. "There is no God," said
one. "Gods and devils are alike fantastic creatures of the erring mind
of man." "But there _must_ be a God," said another. "All nature cries
aloud there is a God. Our own hearts' instincts--our highest
intuitions,--assure us there is. As well deny the universe, and the
primal intuitions of humanity, as the being of God. A God and a future
life are necessities of human nature. And there is, _without_ us, a
supply for every want _within_ us. As soon will you find a race of
beings with appetites for food, for whom no food is provided, as a race
with longings for God and desires for immortality, while no God and
immortality exist to meet those longings, to satisfy those desires."
"But if there be a God to answer to our longings, and a blessed
immortality to satisfy our desires, why not a devil to answer to our
fears, and a hell to answer to our guilty terrors? And would a God leave
us without a revelation of his will." "The instincts of our nature are
the revelation of God's will. To obey our instincts is to obey the law
of God." "Then is the law of God as various as men's natural tendencies?
Does the murderer, whose tendency is to kill, obey the law of God, as
well as the victim who struggles to escape his doom? And does the eagle
obey the law of God in pouncing on the dove, and the dove in seeking to
evade its talons? Is every tendency the law of God? If it be the will of
God that the powerful tendencies of some should neutralize the feebler
tendencies of others, is not might, right? And if might be right, why
murmur at anything that is? For everything that is, exists by virtue of
its might: and every thing that perishes, perishes in virtue of its
weakness. Are you not sanctioning the doctrine of the Optimist, and
saying with Pope,

     "In spite of sense, in erring reason's spite,
     One truth is clear--whatever _is_, is RIGHT."

"Whatever is, _is_ right," says another. "It is the result of eternal
wisdom, of almighty power, and infinite love. God is all perfect, and He
is all in all. A perfect God could have nothing short of a perfect
object in all His works, a perfect motive prompting Him, a perfect rule
to guide Him; and, as the author of all existence, a perfect material
out of which to make the creatures of His love. All is perfect. It is
men's own imperfection that makes them think otherwise." "All is
perfect," you say, "yet man is _imperfect_; and his imperfection makes
him think other things imperfect. All is perfect, yet something is
imperfect; and that something is the most perfect or the least imperfect
creature in existence." "Imperfection itself is a part of perfection,"
says the Optimist. "As discords are necessary to the highest musical
compositions; so imperfection is necessary to the highest perfection."

"The most difficult point of all," says a philosophical Unitarian, "is
that of necessity. Every thing must have a cause. Man's actions are the
result of physical causes; yet man is consciously free." "Man is no more
free than the planets," says an Atheist. "He _acts_ freely, as the
planets do,--that is, he acts in harmony with his tendencies,--in
harmony with the causes of his actions,--the causes of his actions cause
them by causing him to will them, by inclining him to do them; and the
causes of planetary action produce that action in the same way: but the
freedom and the necessity are the same in the one case as in the other.
All is free, and all is bound. The chain is infinite, eternal, and
almighty. The difference between man and a planet is, that man is
conscious of his acts, and the planet is not." "Then duty is a dream,"
said a third, "and conscience a delusion; and responsibility a fiction;
and virtue and vice are alike unworthy of either praise or blame, reward
or punishment." "A tree is not responsible," said the Necessitarian,
"yet we cut it down, if it bears no fruit; and we cut off the natural
branches, and insert new scions, if its fruit is not to our liking. A
musquito is irresponsible, yet we kill it when it gives us pain. A horse
is irresponsible, yet we caress it when it gives us pleasure." "So man
is no more than a tree, a musquito, or a horse! And selfishness is the
measure of our duty! We caress or kill as we are pleased or pained." And
so the conversation ran on in one party.

In another the Bible is the subject of conversation. But here all are
agreed on the principal point. No one regards it as of supernatural
origin, or of Divine authority. The question is, whether the
Anti-Slavery Society shall acknowledge that the clergy are right in
saying that the Bible sanctions Slavery. "That it does sanction Slavery
is certain," says one. "Abraham was a slave-holder, a slave-trader, and
a slave-breeder. Isaac inherited his slave property. Jacob had slaves,
and had offspring by two of them. Moses allows the Jews to buy up the
nations round about them, and to hold them as slaves, as a _possession_,
and to transmit them as an inheritance to their children for ever. The
Decalogue recognizes slaves as property. Jesus never condemns
slave-holding, and Paul returns a fugitive, to his master. Take the
clergy at their word. Acknowledge that their sacred book does sanction
Slavery. Acknowledge that it allows a master to flog his slave to death,
on the ground that the slave is his money. Acknowledge too that it
allows the slave-holder to make his female slaves his concubines.
Acknowledge every thing. Take the preachers' side in the matter, and you
will shock the preachers, and you will shock the public, and cause them
to give up the defence of Slavery." "The slave-holders are not governed
by the Bible," says another. "Their appeal to it is only a pretence,--an
_argumentum ad hominem_. They favor Slavery because it is profitable,
and because they like it. Make it unprofitable, and they will soon find
a different interpretation for the Bible." "Show that the Bible is no
authority,--that it is merely a human book,--and you take away their
argument for Slavery," said one. "Their argument is force," said
another, "and you will never abolish Slavery till you take up arms and
crush the tyrants." "But the Bible is the question," says a third. "Call
a Convention to discuss the Bible," said I, and the Convention was
accordingly called.

And thus the conversation ran in private circles, during the intervals
of the public meetings.

I had supposed, that as the people of America had got a Democratic form
of government, no further reforms were necessary, except the Abolition
of Slavery. I now found however that there were more Reformers, and a
greater variety of Reformers, in the circle into which I had fallen,
than in England. There was nothing right,--nothing as it ought to be.
The family, the church, the school, the government, religion, morals,
and even nature were all wrong. The world was full of prejudice. We were
heirs of all the mistakes of our forefathers for a thousand generations.
"Every thing wants destroying," said one, "that every thing may be
created anew." The oracle of the universe cries, "Behold, I make all
things new;" and that oracle we ought to echo; and on that oracle we
ought to act. "'When I was a child, I thought as a child, I spoke as a
child, I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away
childish things.' Such was the language of the great Reformer of
antiquity. The human race should adopt the same language, and follow the
great example. The race should say, 'When _I_ was a child, _I_ thought
as a child, _I_ spoke as a child, _I_ understood as a child; but now,
having become a man, _I_ will put away childish things.' I will put away
my childish thoughts on religion, on science, on morals, on government,
on education, on marriage, on slavery, on war, on every thing. The fact
that they are old, is a proof they are wrong. The clothes which fit a
child _cannot_ fit a man. The notions, the institutions, the laws, which
were good for the world's infancy, cannot be good for its manhood." "And
they _shall_ be put away, so far as I am concerned," said a lady. "And
they shall be put away, so far as I am concerned," answered another. "Ye
are born again," says a third. "That noble declaration proves you new
creatures. Old things are passed away; behold, all things _are_ become
new."

A thousand wild sentiments were uttered; a thousand extravagant things
were said; and many unwise things were done. It was plain that a license
of thought was preparing the way, had already prepared the way, for a
license of deed. This license produced a fearful amount of mischief
before long. It had produced no little then. Many a domestic
schism,--many a disgraceful alliance,--many a broken heart,--were the
result of those lawless, wanton speculations.

And some came to see their folly and repented in part. Lucy Stone
declared she would never marry according to law; but she married
according to law in the end, contenting herself with recording a vain
and foolish protest. Harriet K. Hunt would never pay any more taxes till
she was allowed to vote, and was eligible to the Presidency of the
United States. Whether she has paid her tax or not we do not know; but
she has not yet got a vote, and is certainly not yet the President of
the United States. Mrs. C. L. made a declaration, the publication of
which covered her hard-working and excellent husband with shame; but she
too has since seen her error, and endeavored to make all things right.

It was rather amusing, but somewhat startling,--it was very bewildering,
yet very instructive,--to listen to all the projects and theories of a
multitude of thoughtful people, suddenly emancipated from religion and
moral obligation, and from law and custom, and to speculate on what
might be the result of so much extravagance. It put humanity before one
in a new light. It was a new revelation. And all those people were
educated up to the American standard. And they were all in tolerable
circumstances. Some were rich, and most were owners of the lands on
which they lived. Several of them had been ministers of the Gospel. Many
of them were authors. And their appearance and manners were often equal
to those of the best. And some of them could hardly be excelled as
public speakers. Some of the lady speakers were the best I ever heard.
After mingling in such society, and witnessing such a strange breaking
up of "the fountains of the great deep" of thought, and fancy, and
animal passion, it is hard to say what might not take place in the
world, if the spirit of infidel reform which is pervading the nations
should become general.

I returned to my home neither a better nor a wiser man. But I was full
of thought. I had been afraid that in the excitement of controversy, and
under the smart of persecution, I had gone too far. But here were people
who had gone immeasurably farther. I was afraid I had been too rash. But
here were pleasant looking and educated people, compared with whom I was
the perfection of sobriety. And the sense of my comparative moderation
quieted my fears, prevented salutary investigation, and prepared me to
go still farther in the way of doubt. New books were placed in my hands,
all favorable to anti-christian views. I got new friends and
acquaintances, and all were of the doubting, unbelieving class. Several
of them were atheists, and insinuated doubts with regard to the
foundation of all religious belief. Till my settlement in America I had
continued to believe, not only in God, and providence, and prayer, but
in immortality; and to look on Atheism as the extreme of folly. But now
my faith in those doctrines began to be shaken. Instead of drawing back
from the gulf of utter unbelief, and retracing my steps toward Christ as
I had partly hoped, I got farther astray; and though I did not plunge
headlong into Atheism, I came near to the dreadful abyss, and was not a
little bewildered with the horrible mists that floated round its brink.

Thus my hopes of calm and quiet thought, and of a sober reconsideration
of the steps I had taken in the path of doubt and unbelief, were all,
alas! exploded, and the last state of my soul was worse than the first.

To make things worse, I got into trouble with my Christian neighbors. My
alienation from Christ had already produced in me a deterioration of
character. I was not exactly aware of it at the time, and if I had been
told of it, I might not have been able to believe it; but such was
really the case. The matter is clear to me now past doubt. I had become
less courteous, less conciliatory, less agreeable. I had discarded, to
some extent, the Christian doctrines of meekness and humility. My temper
had suffered. I was sooner provoked, and was less forgiving, I was more
prompt in asserting my rights, and more prone perhaps to regard as
rights what were no such things. And I made myself enemies in
consequence, and got into unhappy disputes and painful excitements.

I imagined, I suppose, while in England, that the disturbers of my peace
were all outside me, and that when I went to America I should leave them
all behind; but I see now that many of them were within me, and that I
carried them with me over the sea, to my far-off Western home. And they
gave me as much trouble in my new abode as they had given me in my old
one. It is the state of our minds that determines the measure of our
bliss. As Burns says,

     "If happiness have not her seat
       And centre in the breast,
     We may be wise, or rich, or great,
       But never can be blest.
     No treasures, nor pleasures.
       Can make us happy long;
     The _heart_ ay's the part ay
       That makes us right or wrong."

And my heart was out of tune, and tended to put everything around me out
of tune.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE STORY OF MY DESCENT FROM THE FAITH OF MY CHILDHOOD, TO DOUBT AND
UNBELIEF.


My parents were Methodists of the strictest kind, and they did their
utmost to make their children Methodists. And they were very successful.
They had eleven children, ten of which became members of the Methodist
Society before they were twenty years of age; and even the odd one did
not escape the influence of religion altogether.

I was a believer in God and Christ, in duty and immortality, from my
earliest days. And my faith was strong. Things spiritual were as real to
me as things natural. Things seen and things unseen, things temporal and
things eternal, formed one great whole,--one solemn and boundless
universe. I lived and breathed in a spiritual world.

My parents were rigorously consistent. They were true Christians. They
not only talked, but looked and lived as persons who felt themselves in
the presence of a great and holy God, and in the face of an awful
eternity; and the influence of their godly life, and daily prayers, and
solemn counsels fell on me with a power that was irresistible.

If the doctrine taught me in my early days had been the doctrine of
Christ, and the doctrine of Christ alone, in a form adapted to my
youthful mind, the probability is, that I should have grown up to
manhood, and passed through life a happy, useful and consistent
Christian. But I was taught other doctrines. Though my father and mother
taught me little but what was Christian, doctrines were taught me by
others that shocked both my reason and my sense of right. I was taught,
among other things, that in consequence of the sin of Adam, God had
caused me to come into the world utterly depraved, and incapable, till I
was made over again, of thinking one good thought, of speaking one good
word, or of doing one good deed. I felt that I did think good thoughts,
and that I had good feelings, and that I both said and did good things.
But this I was told was a great delusion:--that nothing was good, and
that nothing was pleasing to God, unless it came from faith in Christ.
But I _had_ faith in Christ. I believed in Him with all my heart. I had
believed in Him from the first. The answer was that I had believed with
a _common_ kind of faith, but that it was another kind of faith that was
necessary to salvation, and that whatsoever did not spring from this
other kind of faith, was sin. And I was given to understand, that if I
thought otherwise, it was because of the naughtiness of my heart, which,
I was told, was deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. What
this other kind of faith was, I did not know, and could not learn. I was
then told that the natural man could not understand the things of the
Spirit, and that before I could understand them, I must experience a
change from nature to grace; all of which was past my comprehension. I
was then informed that I must wait till God revealed those things unto
me by His Spirit. But this made the matter no plainer.

I was further taught, that I was, in some way, answerable for Adam's
sin,--that God made Adam the federal head of all mankind, and that all
were bound by what he did;--that if he had done right, all would have
come into the world pure, and good, and happy, and sure of eternal life;
but that through his sin, we wore all born, not only utterly depraved,
but guilty and liable to eternal damnation.

Then followed strange things about satisfaction to offended justice,
trust in Christ's merits and righteousness, justification, regeneration,
and sanctification, all mysteries as dark to me as night.

Sometime after, I found in my Catechism the doctrine of God's absolute
and infinite fore-knowledge,--the doctrine that from eternity God knew
who should be saved and who should be lost. This gave me the most
terrible shock of all. It was plain that my doom was fixed forever. For
if it was certainly foreknown, it must he unchangeably fixed.

These dreadful doctrines filled me with horror. They all but drove me
mad. For a time, when I was about eight or nine years old, they _did_
drive me mad. They were more than my nature could bear. I felt that if
things were as these doctrines represented them to be, the ways of God
were horribly unjust. And as I could do no other than believe the
doctrines, my whole soul rose in rebellion against God. I supposed, as a
matter of course, that I should be sent to hell for my rebelliousness;
still I rebelled. It seemed a dreadful thing that God should hang one's
eternal destiny on things that were not in one's own power. I thought
that if people could not do all that God required of them, He ought to
allow them to fall back into their original nothingness. My mind
especially revolted against the arrangement which God was said to have
made with Adam, and the terrible consequences entailed thereby on his
posterity. To bring men into being, and force them to live on forever,
and at the same time to hang their eternal destiny on another, or on
something beyond their power, seemed dreadfully unjust. I felt that
every man ought to be allowed a fair trial for himself, and to stand or
fall by his own doings. And nothing could make me feel that I was really
answerable for the sin of Adam, any more than that Adam was answerable
for my sins. And how God could impute one man's sin to another, was past
all comprehension. And I felt, that if matters were managed as they were
represented to be, the government of the universe was not right.

But supposing that God had a right to do as He pleased, and not knowing
that He was so good that it was impossible that He should ever please to
do wrong, I suffered in silence. But I often said to myself, 'God does
not deal fairly with mankind,' and my feelings towards Him were anything
but those of love and gratitude. So far was I from feeling any
obligation to Him, that I looked on my existence as a tremendous curse,
and I would gladly have consented to undergo any amount of torment, for
any length of time short of eternity, for the privilege of being allowed
to return to my original nothingness. The thought that even this was too
much to be hoped for,--that it was fixed unchangeably that I must live
on forever, and that there was but one dark path, which I might never be
able to find, by which I could escape the unbounded and unending
torments of hell, darkened all the days of my early youth, and made me
exceedingly miserable. Some kind of blind unbelief, or a partial
spiritual slumber at length came over me, and made it possible for me to
live. But even then my life was anything but a happy one.

I cannot give the story of my life at length; but I afterwards got over
the difficulties of my early creed, or exchanged the blasphemous horrors
of theology for the teachings of Christ, and became a cheerful, joyous
Christian, and a happy and successful Christian minister.

As I have said in Chapter fourteenth, I regarded the Bible as the Word
of God from my early childhood. I believed every word to be true, and
every command to be binding. My faith, at first, rested on the testimony
of my parents and teachers, and of those among whom I lived. Every one I
heard speak of the Book, spoke of it as divine, and the thought that it
might be otherwise did not, that I remember, ever enter my mind. This my
hereditary faith in the Bible was strengthened by the instinctive
tendencies of my mind to believe in God, and in all the great doctrines
which the book inculcated.

The first attempt to _prove_ the divinity of the Bible, of which I have
any recollection, was made by my mother, while I was yet a child. What
_led_ her to make the attempt I do not remember. It might be some
perplexing question that I had asked her; for I used to propose to her
puzzling questions sometimes. Her argument was,--'Bad men _could_ not
write such a book, and good men _would_ not. It must therefore, have
been written by God.' Another argument that I remember to have heard in
those days was,--'No man would write the Bible who did not know it to be
true; because it tells liars that their portion will be in the lake of
fire and brimstone.' There was also an impression among such people as
my parents, that the Bible was so good a book, and that it wrought with
such a blessed power upon their souls, that it was impossible it should
be written by any one but God. The last had probably the greatest effect
upon their minds. Then they found in the Bible so many things in harmony
with their best affections, their moral instincts, and their religious
feelings, that they felt as if they had proof of its heavenly origin in
their own souls. I came, at one period of my life, to look on these
arguments with contempt. And it is certain, that to give them much force
with men of logical habits, they would require qualification, and
considerable illustration. But they are none of them so foolish as I
once supposed. As for the last two, they are, when presented in a proper
way, unanswerable.

There was another argument that was sometimes used, namely,--that though
the different portions of the Bible were written by persons of widely
distant ages, of different occupations and ranks, and of very different
degrees of culture, they all aim at one end, all bear one way, and all
tend to make men good and happy to the last degree. This is a great
fact, and when properly considered, may well be accepted as a proof that
the Bible, as a whole, is from God.

What effect these arguments had on my mind in my early days, I do not
exactly remember, but the probability is, that they helped to strengthen
my instinctive and hereditary faith in the divine origin of the Bible.

This my instinctive and hereditary faith was a great and beneficent
power, and would have proved an inestimable blessing, if it had been
preserved unshaken through life. And I am sorry it was not. I have no
sympathy with those who speak of doubt as a blessing, and who recommend
people to demolish their first belief, that they may raise a better
structure in its place. We do not destroy our first and lower life, to
prepare the way for a higher spiritual life. Nor do we kill the body to
secure the development of the soul. Nor do we extinguish our natural
home affections, in order to kindle the fires of friendship, patriotism,
and philanthropy. The higher life grows out of the lower. The lower
nourishes and sustains the higher. At first we are little more than
vegetables: then we become animals: then men; and last of all, sages,
saints, and angels. But the vegetable nature lives through all, and is
the basis and strength of the animal; and the animal nature lives, and
is the basis and strength of the human; and the human lives, and is the
basis and strength of the spiritual and divine. And the higher forms of
life are all the more perfect, for the vigor and fulness of those by
which they are preceded.

And so with faith. Instinctive faith is the proper basis for the faith
that comes from testimony. And the faith which rests on testimony is the
proper basis for that which comes from reason, investigation,
experience, and knowledge. And in no case ought the first to be
demolished to make way for the second, or the second discarded to make
way for the third. To kill a tree in order to graft on it new scions,
would be madness; and to kill, or discard, or in any way to slight or
injure our first instinctive child-like faith, to graft on our souls a
higher one, would be equal madness.

Our instincts are infallible. The faith to which they constrain us is
always substantially right and true, and no testimony, no reasonings, no
philosophy, ought to be allowed to set it aside. Testimony, and science,
and experience, may be allowed to develop it, enlighten it, and modify
it, but not to displace or destroy it. It is a divine inspiration, and
is essential to the life and vigor of the soul, to the beauty and
perfection of the character, and to the fulness and enjoyment of life.
If you lose it, you will have to find it again, or be wretched. If you
kill it, you will have to bring it to life again, or perish. It is a
necessary support of all other faith, and a needful part of all
religion, of all virtue, and of all philosophy. Skeptics may call it
prejudice; but it is a kind of prejudice which, as Burke very truly
says, is wiser than all our reasonings.

I did not fall out with my instinctive belief, though I did not know its
value; but I was so formed, that I longed for proofs or corroborating of
its truth. I wanted to be able to do something more, when questioned by
doubters or unbelievers as to the grounds of my faith, than to say, 'I
_feel_ that it is true;' or to refer to the testimony of my parents and
teachers; and I did not rest till I could do so.

I had a dear, good friend, Mr. Hill, a schoolmaster, a local preacher,
and a scholar, who, believing that I had talents to fit me for a
travelling preacher, and desiring to prepare me for that high office,
kindly undertook to aid me in my studies. After he had taught me
something of English grammar, he began to teach me Latin. When he had
got me through the elementary books, and exercised me well in one of the
Roman historians, he lent me a copy of Grotius, on the truth of the
Christian religion, and recommended me to translate it into English, and
then to translate it back again into Latin. 'It contains the best
arguments,' said he, 'in favor of Christianity, and it is written in
pure and elegant Latin; and by the course I recommend, you will both
improve yourself greatly in Latin, and obtain a large amount of useful
religious knowledge.'

I did as I was bid, and the result was truly delightful. I found in the
book proofs both of the existence of God, and of the truth of
Christianity, which seemed to me most decisive. When I had got through
the book, I felt as if I could convince the whole infidel world. By
translating the work first into English and then back into Latin, and
repeating my translations to my teacher without manuscript, I got the
whole book, with all its train of reasoning, so fixed in mind, that I
was able to produce the arguments whenever I found it necessary. I
could, in fact, repeat almost the whole work from beginning to end.

I can hardly describe the pleasure I felt when I found that my faith had
a solid foundation to rest upon,--that after having believed
instinctively, and on the testimony of my parents and teachers, I could
both justify my faith to my own mind, and give sound reasons for it to
any who might question me on the subject.

I afterwards got Watson's Theological Institutes, which amplified some
of the arguments of Grotius, and added fresh ones. Here too I found
large quotations from Howe's LIVING TEMPLE, an argument for the
existence of God drawn from the wonderful structure of the human body,
and considerable portions of Paley's work on NATURAL THEOLOGY.
About the same time I read the Lectures of Doddridge, which gave me a
more comprehensive view than either Grotius or Watson, both of the
evidences of the existence of God, and those of the truth of
Christianity. I afterwards met with Dwight's Theology, in which I found
a number of things which interested me, though some of his reasonings
seemed mere metaphysical fallacies.

I next read Adam Clarke's Commentary, where I found, besides his
arguments for the existence of God, abundance of quotations from Paley,
Lardner, Michælis, and others, on the credibility of the New Testament
history, and the truth of Christianity. His _a priori_ argument for the
existence of God seemed only a play on words. His other arguments were
much the same as Watson's.

About this time I read Mosheim's History of the Church. This did me
harm. It is a bad book. It is, in truth, no real history of the Church
at all, but a miserable chronicle of the heresies, inconsistencies and
crimes of the worldly and priestly party in the Church, who perverted
the religion of Christ to worldly, selfish purposes. The whole tendency
of the book is to put the sweet image of Christ and the glories of His
religion, out of sight, and to present to you in their place, a
distressing picture of human weakness and human wickedness. It is a
great pity that this wretched pretence to a church history was not long
ago displaced by a work calculated to do some justice, and to render
some service, to the cause of Christ.

I afterwards read works in favor of Christianity and against infidelity,
by Robert Hall, Olinthus Gregory, Dr. Chalmers, Le Clerc, Hartwell
Horne, S. Thompson, Bishop Watson, Bishop Pearson, Bishop Porteus. I
also read Leland's View of Deistical Writers, Leslie's Short and Easy
Method with Deists, Faber's Difficulties of Infidelity, Fuller's Gospel
its Own Witness, Butler's Analogy, Baxter's Unreasonableness of
Infidelity, and his Evidences of Christianity, Simpson's Plea for
Religion and the Sacred Writings, Ryan on the Beneficial Effects of
Christianity, Cave on the Early Christians, the Debate between R. Owen
and A. Campbell, Scotch Lectures, G. Campbell on Miracles, Ray's Wisdom
of God in Creation, Constable's History of Converts from Infidelity,
Newton on the Prophecies, Locke on the Reasonableness of Christianity,
Nelson on the Cause and Cure of Infidelity, Priestley's Institutes of
Natural and Revealed Religion, Jews' Letters to Voltaire, and works by
Beattie, Soame Jenyns, West, Lyttleton, Ogilvie, Addison, Gilbert
Wakefield and others. I also read sermons on different branches of the
evidences, by Tillotson, Barrow, and others. One of the last and one of
the best works I read on the Evidences of Christianity, were some
sermons by Dr. Channing. These sermons presented the historical argument
in a simpler and more impressive form than any work I had ever read.

This reading of works on the evidences did not prove an unmixed
blessing. I am not certain that it did not prove a serious injury.

1. In the first place, the works I read weakened, in time, and then
destroyed, my instinctive and hereditary faith, and gave me nothing so
satisfactory in its place. They filled my mind with thoughts of things
outside me, and even outside Christianity itself, which did not take a
firm and lasting hold of my affections. They seemed to take me from
solid ground and living realities, into regions of cold, thin air, and
bewildering mists and clouds.

2. In the second place, the writers disagreed among themselves. They
differed as to the value of different kinds of evidence. Some were all
for external evidences, and some were all for internal evidences. Some
said there was no such thing as internal evidence. 'The very idea of
such a thing,' said they, 'supposes that man is able to judge what
doctrines are true, or rational, or worthy of God; and what precepts,
laws, institutions, and examples are right and good; and man has no such
power. Reason has no right to judge revelation. All that reason has a
right to do is to judge as to the matter of fact whether the Bible and
Christianity be really a revelation from God or not, and, if it be, what
is its purport. As to the reasonableness of the doctrines, and the
goodness of the precepts, reason has no right or power to judge at all.'

Others contended that miracles could never prove the truth or divinity
of any system of doctrines or morals that did not commend itself to the
judgments and consciences of enlightened, candid, and virtuous men.
These two parties, between them, condemned both kinds of evidence.

3. Then thirdly; some used unsound arguments. They used arguments
founded on mistakes with regard to matters of fact. Grotius, for
instance, based two of his arguments for the existence of God on
misconceptions of this kind. 'That there is a God,' said Grotius, 'is
evident from the fact, that water, which naturally runs downward to the
level of the sea, is made to run upwards through subterranean channels,
from the sea to the tops of the mountains, and thus supply springs and
streams to water the earth, and supply the wants of its inhabitants.'
But the waters are _not_ forced upwards from the sea to the mountains in
this way: they are carried to the hills in the form of vapors.

True, the evidence for the existence of God supplied by the conversion
of water into vapor, and by the many beneficent ends answered thereby,
is as real and as convincing a proof of God's existence as any evidence
that could have been furnished by such an arrangement as that imagined
by Grotius. But I did not see this at the time; hence the discovery that
the argument of Grotius was unsound, had an unfavorable effect on my
mind.

'Again,' says Grotius, 'it is plain that the world must have had a
beginning, from the existence of mountains. For if the earth had existed
from eternity, the mountains, which the rains and floods are always
reducing, washing down particles into the valleys and plains, would long
ago have disappeared, and every part of the earth would long before this
have been quite level.' Here was another error. Grotius was not aware,
it would seem, that there are forces continually at work in the interior
of the earth making _new_ mountains,--that some portions of the earth
are continually rising, and others gradually subsiding.

4. Several of the arguments which I met with in Doddridge's great work I
found to be unsound. And there were others which, if I did not discover
to be fallacious, I felt to be unsatisfactory. They were, in truth, as I
afterwards found, mere metaphysical puzzles.

5. Among the most honest and earnest works on the evidences that came in
my way, were those of Richard Baxter. But many of his arguments were
unsatisfactory. Among other things of doubtful value, he gave a number
of ghost stories, and accounts of witches and their doings, and of
persons possessed by evil spirits, and even of men and women who had
sold themselves to the devil, and who had been seized and carried away
by him bodily, in the presence of their neighbors and friends. Then
some of his arguments took for granted points of importance which I was
particularly anxious to have proved. Much of his reasoning seemed
conclusive enough, but when sound and unsound arguments are so blended
in the same book, the unsound ones seem to lessen the credit and the
force of the sound ones.

On the subject of the evidences, Baxter, like Grotius, was behind the
times. His works might be satisfactory enough to people of his own day,
but they were not adapted to the minds of people of the present day.

6. The works of Paley and Butler gave me the greatest satisfaction.
Paley, both in his Natural Theology and in his evidences of
Christianity, seemed to be almost all that I could desire, and I rested
in him for a length of time with great satisfaction. But I read him only
once, and I ought, for a time at least, to have made him my daily study,
and imprinted his work on my mind, as I did the work of Grotius.

7. Many writers on the Bible attempted to settle points which could not
be settled. They tried to make out the authors of all the books in the
Bible, and this was found impossible. Different writers ascribed books
to different authors. The Book of Job was ascribed by one writer to Job
himself, by another to Moses, and by a third to Elihu. The Book of
Ecclesiastes was ascribed by some to Solomon, by others to a writer of a
later age. Writers differed with regard to the authorship of many of the
Psalms and many of the Proverbs. They differed with regard to the author
of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the Book of Revelation, and even with
regard to some of the Gospels. They multiplied controversies instead of
ending them, and in some cases made matters seem doubtful that were not
so.

8. The writers on evidences often attempted to prove points which were
not true, and which, if they had been true, would have been no credit to
the Bible or Christianity. Some of them spent more time in laboring to
prove that Christianity taught doctrines which it did not teach, than in
proving that the doctrines which it did teach were 'worthy of all
acceptation.' Some left the impression that Christianity was a mass of
vain, improbable, and incomprehensible doctrines, calculated neither to
satisfy man's intellect nor his conscience, neither to renovate his
heart, nor improve his life, nor increase his happiness. Such writers
served the cause of infidelity rather than the cause of Christ.

9. Some, like Hartwell Horne, gave so many rules for interpreting the
Bible, and required such a multitude of rare qualifications to fit a man
for being a Bible student, that they left the impression on one's mind
that the Book must be utterly unintelligible to people at large. And
they directed the attention of their readers so much to matters of
little or no moment, that they lost sight of the matters which the Bible
was specially intended to teach and impress on men's minds and hearts.

10. Many dwelt so much on things doubtful, that they left the impression
on the minds of their readers, that there was little or nothing but what
_was_ doubtful. They busied themselves so much in answering objections,
that they left the impression that there was little or nothing but what
was open to objections. They had so little to say about what was true,
and good, and glorious beyond all question, that they left people in
doubt whether there was any thing past question or controversy in
Christianity or not.

11. And many treated the subject so coolly or carelessly, that they
abated rather than increased the interest of their readers in religious
matters.

12. And the great mass of writers followed one another so
servilely,--they wrote so much by rote, and so little from experience or
real knowledge, that all seemed cold and formal, uninteresting and
unprofitable. It was a rare thing to come across a writer that touched
the heart, or even satisfied the judgment.

13. And they often labored hard and long to prove points of little or no
importance, while points of greatest moment were left untouched, or
handled so unskillfully as to do harm rather than good.

14. And almost all had unauthorized and unscriptural theories of
Scripture inspiration, which it was impossible for them to prove, and
which they so manifestly failed to prove, that a critical reader could
not but see their failure. They tried to justify expressions and actions
which could not be justified, and to reconcile differences which did
not admit of reconciliation.

15. Even the historical arguments of Paley and Grotius consisted of so
many particulars, and carried one so far back into regions with which
one was so imperfectly acquainted, and into states of society which it
was so difficult for one to realize, that it was impossible they should
have much power over the heart; and the little they had was soon lost,
when their books were laid aside. Even when we remembered the facts, and
could run them over in our minds, we could not feel the force of the
argument based on them, or use it so as to make it felt by others.

The historical argument drawn from miracles never exerted much
satisfying power on my mind for any length of time. I could remember
that it _had_ satisfied me once, but that was not to feel its satisfying
power then. And you could not go back to your books continually, and
pore over the arguments forever. So that long before I became a doubter,
I felt that the historical argument could never be useful to people
generally, either in producing faith where it was not, or in
perpetuating it where it was. I was sure that if mankind at large were
to be brought to receive and cherish Christianity, it must be by proofs
of a simpler and more popular kind, which people could feel, and carry
along with them in their hearts as well as in their heads. And now I see
most clearly that I was right. Miracles had a use, and I may show what
it was by and by; but it was not the use to which they have been so
often and so vainly applied.

16. The writers on prophecy were as unsatisfactory as those on miracles.
They often handled the prophecies unfairly if not deceitfully. They
treated as absolute prophecies, prophecies which were expressly
conditional. And they lost sight of the fact, so plainly stated in
Jeremiah xviii, that all prophetic promises and threatenings are
conditional. Then they took one bit of a prophecy and left another: kept
out of sight predictions which had not been fulfilled, and dwelt
exclusively on phrases which had been fulfilled.

They dealt deceitfully with history as well as prophecy. They made or
modified facts. They gave fanciful interpretations to prophecies. And
they tried to make prophecy prove what it could not prove, however
unquestionable and miraculous the fulfilment might be. The manner in
which Nelson and Keith dealt with prophecy was often childish, and even
dishonest. A careful examination of their works left a most painful
impression on my mind.

What Albert Barnes says about much of the reasoning of preachers and
divines is applicable to this class of writers more than to some others.
'A great part of the reasoning founded upon prophecies is unsound. Much
of the reasoning employed by the early Christian Fathers, by the
Schoolmen, and by the Reformers had no intrinsic force: it was based on
ignorance and error. Yet theologians are prone to cling to it. They
forget the age in which they live. They linger, they live, among the
shades of the past. Their thoughts, their dialect, their way of
reasoning are all of other days.

'The quality of another kind of reasoning common among divines is, that
it is not understood by the mass of men, and that it does not seem to be
understood by those who use it.'

17. In the following paragraph he speaks important words about theology
as well as about theological reasoning.

'There is much theology,' says he, 'that a good man cannot preach. It
would shock his own feelings; it would contradict his prayers; it would
be fatal to all his efforts to do good; it would drive off the sinner to
a hopeless distance, though he had begun to return to God; it would be
at war with the elementary convictions which men have of what must be
true. Among the doctrines of this theology are those,--that Christ died
for the salvation of only a part of mankind,--that we are to blame for
Adam's sin,--condemned for an act done ages before we were born.

'The theology that should be preached to make the pulpit what it should
be, should be based on obvious and honest principles of Scripture
interpretation. The preacher is the interpreter of a book, and he should
be the voice, the organ, of its true and natural meaning. Nothing should
be misquoted; nothing should be perverted or misapplied. His
interpretation should be seen and felt to be in harmony with the scope,
the drift, the spirit, the aim of the Bible. The success of preaching
has been greatly hindered by false principles of Biblical
interpretation. In interpreting other books men have gone on rational
principles; but in interpreting the Bible they have gone on principles
quite irrational. They have sought for double senses, and mystical
meanings, and used texts as proofs of doctrines, that had no reference
to the doctrines whatever. Metaphors and symbols have had all possible
meanings forced on them. Infidels and men of the world are approached
with arguments that are little less than insults to their
understandings. They are disgusted, instead of being convinced. They are
led to look on the Bible with disdain. They are willing to remain
infidels, rather than become idiots. One is pained and sickened that
such a multitude of impertinent and inapplicable texts should be brought
as proofs of Christian doctrine;--texts applicable to anything else
rather than the points under consideration. Even Dr. Edwards misuses
texts of Scripture thus. The Bible is to be interpreted as other books
are. Men are not to hide themselves in the mist of a hidden meaning, and
shock the common sense of the world. Preachers should go on the
supposition, that in every congregation there are shrewd and sagacious
men, who can appreciate a good argument, and see the weakness of a bad
one; men who can appreciate a good sermon, if there be a good sermon to
be appreciated. For such, he may be assured, is the fact.'

All these unwise things had a tendency to shake my faith in writers on
the evidences, to lessen my interest in the subject, to abate my
confidence in the knowledge and integrity of the authors, and to
diminish my faith in the supernatural origin of the Bible and
Christianity.

18. The evidences that had most weight with me were the internal
evidences. But these were often handled in an unsatisfactory way. The
greater part of Soame Jenyns' little work was good, as far as it went;
but it went only a very short way. It took a step or two, in the most
difficult, doubtful, and uninviting part of the road, but it left the
vast paradise of internal evidences unexplored, and even unapproached.
His work was rather an apology for Christianity, proving that it was not
open to censure, than a demonstration of its incalculable worth and
power.

I did not myself see clearly at the time, that the adaptation of
Christianity to man's wants, to man's nature, and its tendency to
promote man's temporal as well as his spiritual welfare, was really a
proof of its divine origin. I saw that it was a valid answer to the
infidel objection that it was useless or mischievous; but not that it
was a decisive proof of its divinity. Hence though I employed it as a
refutation of infidel charges against Christianity, I never pressed it
further.

And though I got at length much larger views of the excellency of
Christianity than those presented by Soame Jenyns, I saw not half, I saw
not a tenth of its worth and glory. I saw not a tenth even of what I see
now. I now see there are no limits to the excellency of Christianity, or
to the power of the argument supplied by its glorious character, in
proof of its divinity.

And the worth and excellency of Christianity you can carry continually
in your mind. They present themselves whenever you open the Gospels, or
look at Jesus. They move you whenever you think of the happy effect
Christianity has had on your own hearts and lives. They come to your
minds whenever you look on the prevailing vices and miseries of society,
which result from a want of Christianity. They touch your heart, as well
as convince your judgment. But I neither saw them in their true light
nor in their full extent before I fell into doubt; so that they were
unable to make up for the deficiency in the external evidences, and to
check my growing tendency to unbelief.

19. There were other influences that helped me down to unbelief.
Negative criticism, pulling things to pieces with a view to find faults,
to which our modern philosophers give the fine name of _Analysis_, tends
to cause doubt about every thing. It eats out of one the very soul of
truth, of love, and of faith. It tends naturally to kill all our good
instincts and natural affections, and to render not only religion, but
philosophy, virtue and happiness impossible. The Cartesian system of
reasoning, which begins by calling in question every thing, and which
refuses to believe anything without formal proof, is essentially
vicious. The man who adopts it and carries it out thoroughly, must
necessarily become an infidel, not only in religion, but in morals and
philosophy. And he must become intolerably miserable, and destroy
himself, unless, like John S. Mill, he can find out some method of
deceiving himself.

And this is the system of reasoning now in vogue. This vicious system I
adopted, and it hastened my fall into unbelief as a matter of course.
Not one of all the most important things on earth admits of proof in
this formal way. You cannot prove your own existence in this way. You
cannot prove the existence of the universe. You cannot prove the
existence of God. You cannot prove that there are such things as vice
and virtue, good and evil. You cannot prove that men ought to marry,
rear families, form governments, live in society, tell the truth, be
honest, restrain their appetites and passions, or abstain from treachery
and murder. All reasonings in favor of religion, virtue, society,
philosophy, must rest on assumptions,--must take a number of things for
granted,--must take for granted the truth and goodness of those
instincts, sentiments, and natural affections which constrain us to be
religious, social, and moral, independent of argument. All reasoning, to
be of any use, must begin, not with doubt, but belief. The reasoning
that begins with doubting every thing, and accepting nothing till it is
proved by formal argument, will end in doubt of every thing that ought
to be believed. It will end, not only in Atheism, but in boundless
immorality, and in utter wretchedness and ruin. The man who would not be
undone by his logic, must pity Descartes instead of admiring him, and
instead of following him go just the contrary way. Descartes made a fool
of himself, or his method of reasoning made a fool of him, the very
first time he used it. His very first argument was a fallacy and a
folly. He pretended, first, to doubt, and then to prove, his own
existence. His argument was, 'I think; therefore I _exist_:' as if he
could be more sure that he _thought_, than he was that he existed. He
took his existence for granted when he said 'I think.'

20. Other things helped on the horrible change that was taking place in
my soul. I got a taste for reading a different kind of works from those
which I had been accustomed to read. I turned away from works on
religion and duty, and began to read the works of the critical,
destructive party. I turned away even from the best practical writers of
the orthodox school, such as Baxter, Tillotson and Barrow, and read
Theodore Parker, Martineau, W. F. Newman, W. J. Fox, and Froude. I also
read Carlyle, Emerson, and W. Mackay, the metaphysical bore, and C.
Mackay, the charming, fascinating, but not Christian poet. Theodore
Parker became my favorite among the prose writers. His beautiful style
and practical lessons had already reconciled me to his harsh expressions
about the Bible, and to his contemptuous treatment of miracles; and now
I had degenerated so far that I liked him for those very faults.

I read the writings of the American Abolitionists, all of which tended
to draw me from the Church and the Bible, and to bring me more fully
under skeptical influences. I began to look more freely and frequently
into works of science, and most of those waged covert war with
supernaturalism, and sought to bring down the Bible and Christianity to
the level of ordinary human thought. All ideas of authority in books and
religious systems, in ecclesiastical and social institutions, gradually
faded away. All ideas of superhuman authority, or divine obligation, in
marriage, in home, and in family life vanished. All things lost their
sacredness, and came down to the vulgar level of mere human opinion, or
of personal interest, convenience, or pleasure.

21. There was a change in my companions. Those who had high and holy
thoughts of all things, and whose meat and drink it was to do good,
withdrew from me; and men and women came around me who cared only for
earth and self; whose talk was of gain, and fashion, and
self-indulgence; and whose desire it was to silence conscience, and to
stifle thoughts of duty.

22. I ceased to pray. I had already given up family prayer. I now gave
up private prayer. I gave up prayer altogether. I had impulses to
prayer, but I resisted them. Prayer was irrational, according to the new
philosophy, and must be discarded.

23. And praise and thanksgiving went next. What reason could there be
for telling an all-wise God what you thought of Him, or how you felt
towards Him? And besides, it now began to appear that God had not been
so very bountiful as to deserve either high commendation, or
enthusiastic thanksgiving.

24. I had fresh work. Politics first got into partnership with my
religion, and then turned religion out of the concern. And politics,
severed from religion, soon become selfish, and even devilish. So long
as Christian philanthropy occupied my thoughts and feelings, it helped
religiousness; but when it gave way to polities, my religiousness
declined, languished, and died.

25. I began to indulge in amusements. Chess, drafts, cards, concerts,
theatres, and feasting asked for a portion of my time and money, and I
gave it to them. I began to think of pleasure more than of usefulness;
to live for myself rather than for others; and the higher virtues and
religion went down together.

26. My position improved. I passed from poverty to comparative wealth.
This helped my degeneracy. I had more abundant means of self-indulgence,
and I began, though slowly, timidly, and with misgivings, and
self-reproaches, and occasional fits of remorse, to use them for
selfish, worldly purposes. God had given me more, so I gave Him less.
Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked. Jesus knew what He was saying when He
warned people against the danger, the deceitfulness, of riches.

27. I was often uneasy during the decline of religion in my soul, but
philosophy had its anodynes, its soothing syrups, its dreamy, delusive,
spiritual drugs. It could flatter, it could cheat, in the most approved
fashion. It could bewitch, intoxicate, and take captive the whole
soul,--judgment, conscience, fancy, everything.

Satan can put on the appearance of an 'angel of light.' He can talk
religion. He can talk philanthropy. He can preach the most beautiful
doctrines. He can use the most charming words. At the very moment that
he is destroying religion and virtue, he can speak of them in the
highest terms, and even sing of them in the sweetest strains. He can
talk of liberty in the most swelling, high-sounding, and fascinating
style, while all the time he is making men the most degraded and
miserable slaves. He can lead people, singing and dancing, laughing and
shouting, through a philosopher's paradise, to a purgatory of guilt and
horror. And all the time he will preach to them the finest doctrines;
the most exalted sentiments. 'Religion!--everything is religion, that
is in accordance with the laws of our own nature, that is suitable to
our position and relations, that helps our brothers or our families. And
all truth is religious truth. All science is divine revelation. All laws
are God's laws, except the arbitrary laws of men. All work is divine
work, if it be according to nature. All useful work is religion.
Farming, trade, government, are all religion. So are waking and
sleeping. They are all divine ordinances; they are all divine service.
All good work is worship. Singing foolish hymns, reading foolish
lessons, preaching foolish sermons, offering foolish prayers, in
unhealthy churches, half stifled with foul air, are not religion.
Religion is the free and natural utterance of great, true thoughts, of
good and generous feelings, of nature's own rich sentiments and
inspirations. The flowery fields, the shadowy woods, the lofty mountains
are nobler places of worship than the dark and damp cathedral; and the
fresh air of heaven is a diviner inspiration than carbonic acid gas. And
the sun is a diviner light than waxen tapers, explosive lamps, or
oxygen-consuming gas. And the gorgeous sun-tinted clouds are grander and
more beautiful than painted windows! God's temple is all space; His
altar; earth, air, skies! His ministers are sun, moon, stars; birds,
beasts, and flowers. Nature is God's revelation; the true Bible; written
in an universal language; speaking to all eyes; needing no translation;
in danger of no interpolation, alteration, or mutilation. Man is the
true Shekinah,--the veritable image, the real glory, the true revelation
and manifestation of God. Man is the saviour of man: the teacher, the
guide, the comforter of man. Every one, male or female, is a servant, a
minister of God. All are priests. All are kings. The truth makes us
free: free from all authorities, but the authority of God,--God in the
soul. Christ is our brother, not our master. He is a helper, not a
ruler. And all are helpers of each other. All are saviours. All are
Christs. Inspiration is not a matter of time, or place, or person. It is
eternal and universal. It is in all, and it endures forever. Every good
book is a Bible. Every good hymn or song is a holy psalm. Purity of body
is holiness, as well as purity of mind. Every day is a sabbath, a holy
day. Every place is holy ground. The Church of God is the human race.
All are God's disciples, under training by nature's operations, and by
the events of daily life. The earth is God's great school-house; mankind
are one great school; God is our chief Master; the universe is our
lesson book, and all we are ushers and under teachers. All things are
our helpers, not masters;--our servants, not lords. They are made for
us, not we for them; and must be used so as to make them answer their
ends. The Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath. Bibles are
for men, not men for Bibles. Governments, churches, authorities, laws,
institutions, customs, events, suns, moons, stars, systems, atoms,
elements, all are made for man, and to man's interest and pleasure they
must be subordinated. All must be changed to meet man's changing wants.
Nothing is entitled to be permanent, but that which answers beneficently
to something permanent in man. Man is lord of the universe. Man is lord
of himself. Man is his own rightful governor. Man is his own law. His
nature is his law. Each individual man is his own law. Individualities
are divine, and must be respected; respected by laws and governments.
Law must yield to individuality; not individuality to law. Individuality
is sacred. The individuality of the individual is his life, and must be
fostered. It is a new manifestation of God. As to means of grace,--all
expressions and interchanges of kind feeling are means of grace. Shaking
hands is a means of grace. Free, friendly talk, a concert or a song, a
social ride, a family feast, a social gathering, a pleasant chat, a game
at whist, all are means of grace. All are holy to holy souls. All are
pure to pure minds. Eating, drinking, sleeping are all divine
ordinances. Religion, in its higher and more enlightened form, raises
our views of all things; makes all things beautiful; all things
glorious. It does not bring down the high and holy; but lifts up all
things to a divine level. It desecrates no temple; but consecrates the
universe. It breaks no Sabbath; but makes every day a Sabbath, and all
time one lengthened holy day. It degrades no priest; but makes all men
priests. It does not bring down the high, but raises the low. It denies
not heaven; but brings down heaven to earth. Everywhere is heaven.
God's kingdom is an universal kingdom. His presence, His throne, His
glory, are everywhere, and heaven is all around us and within us. The
universe is heaven.' Thus spake the devil.

And now came in his progressive poets to give those broad, those high,
those rational, those philosophical principles, this theology and
religion of advanced humanity, this Church and worship of the future,
the fascination of their ecstatic genius, and all the charms of numbers,
rhyme, and melody. 'My religion is love,' sings one, 'the richest and
fairest.' 'Abou Ben Adhem,' sings another. 'He loves not God; but loves
God's creature man. Give him a place,--the highest place,--in heaven.'
Another sings, 'The poor man's Sunday walk.' The advanced religionist,
addressing his wife, exclaims,

     The morning of our rest has come,
       The sun is shining clear;
     I see it on the steeple-top:
       Put on your shawl, my dear,
     And let us leave the smoky town,
       The dense and stagnant lane,
     And take our children by the hand
       To see the fields again.
     I've pined for air the livelong week;
       For the smell of new-mown hay;
     For a pleasant, quiet, country walk,
       On a sunny Sabbath day.

     Our parish church is cold and damp;
       I need the air and sun;
     We'll sit together on the grass,
       And see the children run.
     We'll watch them gather butter-cups,
       Or cowslips in the dell,
     Or listen to the cheerful sounds
       Of the far-off village bell;
     And thank our God with grateful hearts,
       Though in the fields we pray;
     And bless the healthful breeze of heaven,
       On a sunny Sabbath day.

     I'm weary of the stifling room,
       Where all the week we're pent;
     Of the alley fill'd with wretched life,
       And odors pestilent:
     And long once more to see the fields,
       And the grazing sheep and beeves;
     To hear the lark amid the clouds,
       And the wind among the leaves;
     And all the sounds that glad the air
       On green hills far away:--
     The sounds that breathe of Peace and Love,
       On a sunny Sabbath day.

     For somehow, though they call it wrong,
       In church I cannot kneel
     With half the natural thankfulness
       And piety I feel
     When out, on such a day as this,
       I lie upon the sod,
     And think that every leaf and flower
       Is grateful to its God;
     That I, who feel the blessing more,
       Should thank Him more than they,
     That I can elevate my soul
       On a sunny Sabbath day.

     Put on your shawl, and let us go;
       For one day let us think
     Of something else than daily care,
       Or toil, and meat, and drink:
     For one day let our children sport
       And feel their limbs their own:
     For one day let us quite forget
       The grief that we have known:--
     Let us forget that we are poor;
       And, basking in the ray,
     Thank God that we can still enjoy
       A sunny Sabbath day.

What can be more natural,--what more plausible,--what more
rational,--what more pious? Yet it means forgetfulness of God,
forgetfulness of Christ, forgetfulness of duty, forgetfulness of
immortality. It means self, and sin, and ruin. And so it is with a
multitude of other sweet poems. One of the sweetest singers that ever
received a poetic soul from God, ignores Christ and Christianity. His
works are full of truth, but it is truth turned into a lie, and made to
do the work of sin and death. It is Satan clad as an angel of light.

Every day a Sabbath, means no day a Sabbath. All places holy, means no
place holy. All things worship, means nothing worship. All honest labor
religious, means no labor religious. Freedom means license, contempt for
virtue, enslavement to vice. Progress means falling back. Elevation
means degradation. Liberality means leniency to error and evil, and
severity towards truth and goodness. In short, darkness means light, and
light means darkness; good means evil, and evil good; bitter means
sweet, and sweet bitter. Reform means revolution, and renovation means
degradation, and all these charming things mean wretchedness and ruin.

We must not be understood as condemning all the sentiments uttered by
the great deceiver. Many of them are true and good. They are Christian.
Satan is too wise to preach unmitigated falsehood. He understands too
well the art of using truth so as to serve the ends of falsehood. It is
enough for him if he can sever men's souls from Christ, and truth from
divine authority, and religion from Christianity, the Church, and the
Bible. Allow him to do this, and he will discourse and sing to you a
world of sweet words and lofty sentiments. Truth is the ladder by which
men climb to God, and goodness, and heaven. But Satan has found out that
there is a way _down_ the ladder as well as _up_, and that to praise the
ladder to the descending crowd is the surest way to draw them ever
further downward, till they lose themselves amid the blinding smoke of
the abyss beneath. We love, we cherish every sweet word of truth, but we
value nothing apart from God, and Christ, and Religion.

28. It is a bad thing when people are taught things in their youth that
are not true. They are sure, when they become students, if they are
honest and able, to find out the errors, and to lay them aside. And the
mere habit of detecting and laying aside errors, has a tendency to make
men skeptical. Now I had been taught a multitude of things in my youth
that were not true, both with regard to the doctrines and the evidences
of Christianity. These things I detected and set aside in riper years.
And I had so many things to set aside, that I came to look with
suspicion on almost all my creed. The skeptical tendency got too strong
for my habit of belief. I suspected where there was no good ground for
suspicion. I rejected truth as well as error. I held in doubt doctrines
that I ought to have cherished as my life. Change became too easy;
judgment too hasty; and error and unbelief were naturally the result.

It is especially a bad thing when an earnest young student sees signs of
carelessness in religious writers; a readiness to repeat what has been
said before; to support what is popular, without endeavoring to
ascertain whether it be true or not. It is still worse when a student
discovers in religious writers signs of dishonesty and fraud. I
discovered both. I saw cases in which false doctrines were passed on
from generation to generation, and from writer to writer, without the
least attempt to ascertain their true character. I saw other cases in
which dishonesty was manifest, in which fraud was used, in support of
doctrines. Old creeds were allowed to remain unaltered, long after
portions of them had been found to be unscriptural; and error was
subscribed as a matter of course. The result was, a distrust of
everything held by such parties, unless it was supported by the plainest
and most decisive proofs.

29. I was now in a state of mind to go down quietly and almost
unconsciously into utter unbelief. And I _went_ down. I did not _reject_
the doctrine of the divine origin of the Bible and Christianity, but
gradually _lost_ it. My faith died a natural death. I was in the world,
and became a worldly man. I mixed with unbelievers, and gradually came
down to their level. I had supposed that a man could be as religious
outside the Church as inside; but I found it otherwise. It was a sad, an
awful change I underwent; but I not only did not see it, at the time, in
its true light, but was actually unconscious for a long time that it was
taking place.

In November 1852, I attended a Bible convention at Salem, Columbiana
County, Ohio. It lasted three days. I spoke repeatedly, and at
considerable length, at its meetings. My remarks wore directed chiefly,
not against the Bible, but against what I regarded as unauthorized
theories of Scripture inspiration. I contended that those theories were
injurious to the interests of virtue and humanity.

I also spoke about the darkness in which the human authorship of
portions of the Bible was wrapt. My remarks were a mixture of truth and
error, but in their general tenor they were unjust, and could hardly
fail to be injurious.

Henry C. Wright spoke at this convention, contending that man had an
infallible rule of life engraven on his own nature, independent of
instruction from without. He was often severe and extravagant in his
remarks. He was fierce, and said things which he could not make good.

The Rev. Jonas Harzell and others spoke in defence of the Bible.

On the last evening the hall in which the convention was held was
densely crowded, and the audience was greatly excited. A Mr. Ambler
spoke at great length, and seemed desirous to excite the people to
violence against the assailants of the Bible. When he closed, a large
portion of the audience seemed bent on mischief. I rose to reply to Mr.
Ambler, and soon got the attention of the audience. Their rage quickly
subsided, and at the close of my address, the people separated in peace.

In June 1853, I attended another Bible convention at Hartford,
Connecticut. I was appointed President. A. J. Davis, the celebrated
spiritualist, gave the first address. It was on the propriety of free
discussion on religious subjects. Henry C. Wright spoke next, making
strong remarks on portions of the Old Testament. I followed, going over
much the same ground as at Salem, but speaking with more severity of
feeling. My heart was getting harder.

The Rev. George Storrs replied. He set himself especially to answer H.
C. Wright, and he spoke with much effect.

In the afternoon of the second day, W. L. Garrison proposed six
resolutions, bearing partly on the Bible, and partly on the church and
clergy. They were very strong. There was a considerable amount of truth
in them, but their spirit and tendency were bad. Parker Pillsbury
followed with a speech, in which he praised natural religion, but
condemned the religion of the church.

In the evening Mr. Garrison spoke. He spoke with much power. He dwelt
chiefly on what was called the doctrine of _plenary inspiration_. His
strength was in the extreme views of the orthodox theologians, and in
the inconsistencies of the church and the clergy.

Mr. Garrison made a second speech on the fourth evening, still dwelling
on the theory of _plenary inspiration_. Before he got through his speech
the meeting was disturbed by a number of theological students, from a
college in the city. They threatened mischief. One displayed a dagger.
Confusion followed. Some of the speakers fled, and others were alarmed.
I kept my place, but soon found I had the platform to myself. I expected
more courage from my skeptical friends. But they understood Judge Lynch
better than I did, and their discretion, under the circumstances, might
be the better part of valor. My rashness, however, ended in no mishap.
And the only bad effect which the violence of our opponents had on me
was, to increase my hatred, perhaps, of the church and its theology. It
is not wise in professing Christians to resort to carnal weapons in
defence of their views.

In December 1853, I gave a course of lectures in Philadelphia. I was
brought to the city by the Sunday Institute. The object of the lectures
was to show, that the Bible was of human origin, that its teachings were
not of divine authority, and that the doctrine of its absolute
perfection was injurious in its tendency. The room in which I lectured
was crowded, and the audience was much excited. I stated, in opening,
that I had nothing to say against anything that was true and good in the
Bible,--that virtue was essential to man's happiness, and that I had no
sympathy with those who rejected the Bible because it rebuked their
vices. I was sincere in these remarks; but my older infidel friends, I
found, regarded them as intended to deceive the unwary. Many of them
were grossly immoral, and hated the Bible for its hostility to their
evil ways.

After each lecture discussion followed. But the ability of my opponents
was not equal to their zeal. They were often ignorant of both sides of
the question, and injured the cause they sought to aid.

These lectures led to a public discussion between me and Dr. McCalla, a
Presbyterian clergyman. It was to continue five nights, but ended on the
fourth. We met first in the Chinese Assembly Room; but the place proving
too small for the crowds which were anxious to hear the debate, we
adjourned to the large hall.

Dr. McCalla was very abusive. He was so intent on calling me bad names,
and on saying savage and provoking things, that he forgot his argument.
I kept to the subject. I neither abused my opponent, nor spent my time
in answering his abuse of me. I reproved him once or twice, telling him
how unseemly it was in an old man, professing to be a disciple and a
minister of Jesus, to show such a spiteful disposition, and to utter
such offensive words; and then went on with my argument. The third night
my opponent seemed to be losing his reason. On the fourth night he was
literally mad. Loss of sleep, rage, and mortification, seemed to have
brought on fever of the brain, and he was really insane. His friends
were terribly put about. Many of them were furious, and were plainly
bent on violence. A policeman climbed up the back of the platform behind
where I was sitting and said in my ear: 'There's mischief brewing: you
had better come with me. Step down now while they are looking the other
way.' I looked for my overcoat and hat, but they were gone. Some one had
carried them off, to prevent me from escaping. A gentleman who had seen
a person take them away, and place them in a distant corner of the room,
seeing what was coming, went and brought them to me, and I at once
slipped over the back of the platform to the floor, and accompanied the
policeman. The crowd, intent on getting towards the front of the
platform, had left a vacant space near the wall, and I and the policeman
got nearly to the door of the hall before we were observed. But just as
we were passing out a cry arose, 'He's off! He's off!' and a maddened
crowd prepared for pursuit. When we got into the street the policeman
said hurriedly, 'Which is the way to your lodgings?' 'That,' said I,
pointing south. 'Then come this way,' said he, 'quick;' and he pulled me
north. This probably saved my life. The mob knew which way my lodgings
lay, and as soon as they got out of the hall, they hurried south, like a
pack of hounds, roaring and furious. I was soon half a mile away in the
other direction. 'Where shall I take you?' said the policeman. 'Do you
know any one hereabouts?' 'Take me to Mr. Mott's,' said I, 'in Arch
Street.' We were there in a few moments, and as the door opened to
receive me, the policeman received his gratuity, and hastened away. In
fifteen minutes there was a noise in the street. Mr. Mott opened the
door and looked out, when a brickbat passed just by his head, and broke
itself to pieces on the door-post, leaving its mark on the marble. He
had a narrow escape. He closed the door, and after awhile the mob
dispersed, and all was quiet. Thus ended the discussion with Dr.
McCalla.

One would have thought that after such an experience as this, I should
have taken care to keep out of debates on such an exciting subject. But
I was daring to madness. I was engaged again in discussion on the same
subject, in the same city, in less than a month.

The clergy of Philadelphia, unwilling to leave the cause of the Bible in
this plight, demanded that I should discuss the question with Dr. Berg,
a minister in whom they had great confidence. I yielded to the demand,
and the discussion took place in Concert Hall, in January, 1854.

The hall was crowded every night. One very wet and stormy night, the
number present was only 2000, but every other night it was from 2250 to
2400. A Philadelphia newspaper of that period says, "We cannot forbear
to notice the contrast in the manner and bearing of the two disputants.
Mr. Barker uniformly bore himself as a gentleman, courteously and
respectfully towards his opponent, and with the dignity becoming his
position, and the solemnity and importance of the question. We regret we
cannot say the same of Dr. Berg, who at times seemed to forget the
obligations of the gentleman, in his zeal as a controversialist. He is
an able and skilful debater, though less logical than Mr. Barker; but he
wasted his time and strength too often on personalities and irrelevant
matters. His personal inuendoes and offensive epithets, his coarse
witticisms and arrogant bearing, may have suited the vulgar and
intolerant among his party, but they won him no respect from the calm
and thinking portion of the audience; while we know that they grieved
and offended some intelligent and candid men who thoroughly agreed with
his views. It is time that Christians and clergymen had learned that men
whom they regard as heretics and infidels have not forfeited all claims
to the respect and courtesies of social life by their errors of opinion,
and that insolence and arrogance, contemptuous sneers and impeachment of
motives and character towards such men, are not effective means of grace
for their enlightenment and conversion.

"There was a large number of men among the audience who lost their
self-control in their dislike of Mr. Barker's views, and he was often
interrupted, and sometimes checked in his argument, by hisses, groans,
sneers, vulgar cries, and clamors, though through all these annoyances
and repeated provocations, he maintained his wonted composure of manner
and his clearness of thought. On the other hand, Dr. Berg was heard with
general quiet by his opponents, and greeted with clamorous applause by
his friends."

I am afraid the above remarks were true. Still, Dr. Berg was almost a
gentleman compared with Dr. McCalla, and he was vastly more of a scholar
and debater, far as he was from being a model disputant.

Dr. Berg had the right side; he stood for the defence of all that was
good, and true, and great, and glorious; but the way in which he went
about his work was by no means the best one. He took a wrong
position,--a position which it was impossible for him to maintain. His
doctrine was that the Bible was absolutely perfect,--that the
inspiration of the Book was such as not only to make it a fit and proper
instrument for the religious instruction, and the moral and spiritual
renovation, of mankind, but such as to preserve it from all the
innocent, harmless, and unimportant weaknesses, imperfections, and
errors of regenerate and sanctified humanity. He even contended for a
kind or a degree of perfection which many of the most highly esteemed
professors and theologians of orthodox churches had relinquished. He
held to views about the creation and the universality of the deluge,
which orthodox Christian Geologists like Professor Hitchcock of America,
as well as Dr. Pye Smith of England, had given up as untenable. He
contended for a perfection which, in fact, is physically impossible, and
which, in truth, was inconsistent with his own acknowledgments in other
parts of the discussion. I have no wish to disparage my opponent; I had
rather do the contrary; but he did not properly and adequately
understand the great question which he undertook to discuss. Hence he
got involved in inextricable difficulties, and, in spite of all he could
do, his attempted defence of the Bible was, to a great extent, a
failure.

He said a many good things about the Bible. He proved a many things in
its favor. He made the impression, at times, that there was something in
its teachings of a most powerful and blessed tendency; that it was a
book of infinite value,--that it was a wonderful teacher and a mighty
comforter,--that it had done a vast amount of good, and was calculated
to do a vast amount more,--that it was a friend and patron of all things
good and glorious,--that it was the nurse of individual and national
virtue, and the source of personal, domestic, and national happiness. He
said many good things about the excellency of Christ's precepts, and the
beauty and glory of His example. A hundred good things he said, both in
favor of the Bible, and in opposition to infidelity. But the one great
point which he had pledged himself to prove he did _not_ prove. It could
not be proved. It was not true. So that though he won a substantial
victory; he sustained a logical defeat. And if he had been twenty times
more learned, and twenty times more able than he was, he would have been
defeated. If a man attempts the impossible, failure is inevitable; and
if he has a skilful, wary, and able opponent, his failure will be seen
and felt, even by his most ardent friends, and greatest admirers. And so
it was in the case of Dr. Berg.

But the error was not his alone; it was the error of his friends; the
error of his patrons; the error of his times. What learning, and talent,
and zeal, and skill in debate, considerably above the average of his
profession, could do, he did; and that was a good deal: and his failure
was chargeable not on himself, so much as on the faulty theology of the
school in which he had been trained, and to which he still belonged.

So far as the general merits of the Bible were concerned, I was in the
wrong. But the fact was not made so plain, so palpable to the audience,
as it should have been, and as it might have been, if I had had a wiser,
a warier, and an abler opponent, and one who had no false theory of
Bible inspiration or abstract perfection to defend. A man thoroughly
furnished for the work, and free from foolish and unauthorized theories,
would have been able to give proof of the substantial truth and divinity
of the Scriptures, and of their transcendent moral and spiritual
excellence, absolutely overwhelming; and I do most heartily wish I had
had the happiness to encounter such an advocate in my discussions. It
might have proved an infinite advantage to me, and an incalculable
blessing to my friends. As it was, the debate only tended to strengthen
me in my unbelief, and to increase my confidence in future controversies
with the clergy.

How I answered my own arguments, and got over my own objections, when on
my way back to Christianity, I may state hereafter. All I need say here
is, that I took a _qualified_ view of the divine authority of the Bible,
and of the doctrine of its divine inspiration,--a view in accordance
with facts, and with the teachings of Scripture itself on the subject.
This view did not require me to demand in a book of divine origin the
kind of abstract or absolute perfection which Dr. Berg required, and
which he so rashly undertook to prove. On the contrary, it taught me to
look for a thousand innocent and unimportant errors and imperfections in
the Bible. A thousand things which would, if proved, have been regarded
by Dr. Berg as valid objections to the doctrine of its superhuman
authority and divine authority, were no objections at all to me. I could
acknowledge the truth of them all, and yet believe in the substantial
truth and divinity of the Book as a whole. The dust and mud of our
streets and roads, and the decaying timbers and rotting grasses of our
forests and farms do not make me question the divine origin and the
substantial perfection of the world: nor do the errors and imperfections
of ancient transcribers or modern translators, or the want of absolute
scientific, historical, chronological, literary, theological or moral
perfection even in the original authors of the Bible, make me doubt its
divine origin and inspiration, or its practical and substantial
perfection. You may show me ten thousand things in the earth which, to
multitudes, would seem inconsistent with the doctrine that it is the
work of an all-perfect Creator; but they would not be inconsistent with
that doctrine in _my_ view. They would probably seem, to my mind, proofs
of its truth. Things which, to men who had not properly studied them,
appeared serious defects, or results of Adam's sin, would be seen by me
to be important excellencies; masterpieces of infinite wisdom and
goodness. Many of the things I said about the Bible in my debate with
Dr. Berg were true; but they amounted to nothing. Dr. Berg thought they
were serious charges, and that if they were not refuted, they would
destroy the credit and power of the Book. He was mistaken. And he never
did refute them. If I were in the place of Dr. Berg, and an opponent
were to bring forward those things in proof that the Bible was not of
God, I should say, Your statements may be true, or they may be false,
and I do not care much which they are; but they are good for nothing as
disproofs of the divine origin and practical perfection of the Bible.
The Bible is all it professes to be, and it is more and better than its
greatest admirers suppose it to be, notwithstanding its numberless
traces of innocent human imperfections. The sun has spots, but they
neither disprove its value nor its divine origin. The probability is,
that the spots in the sun have their use, and would be seen, if properly
understood, to be proofs of the wisdom and goodness of the Creator. And
it is certainly plain to me, that what you regard us defects in the
Bible, are proofs both of its divine origin, and of its real perfection.

I said some things about the Bible in my debate with Dr. Berg, which, if
they had been true, would have proved that the Bible was _not_ of divine
origin. But they were not true. All these things should have been
refuted by Dr. Berg with great promptness, and refuted so thoroughly
and plainly, that every one should have been made to see and feel that
they were refuted. But they were not. Some of them were left unnoticed.
Others were handled unskilfully. The time and strength that should have
been given to them were wasted on trifles, or unwisely spent in
offensive personalities, unseasonable witticisms, or attempts at fine
speaking.

The objections of this class, which my opponent failed to answer, or
answered unsatisfactorily, we may notice further on.

In January, 1855, while over on business, I had a public debate at
Halifax, England, with Brewin Grant, a congregational minister. This, so
far as its impression on my own mind was concerned, was the most
unfortunate discussion I ever had. My opponent was the meanest and most
unprincipled or ill-principled man I ever met. In a pamphlet which he
had published, giving instructions to those who were called to defend
the Bible and Christianity against unbelievers, he had laid it down as a
rule, that their first object should be to destroy the influence of
their opponents, and that in order to do this, they should do their
utmost to damage their reputation, and make them odious. He acted on
this principle, in his debate with me, with the greatest fidelity. He
raked together, and gave forth in his speeches, all the foolish and
wicked stories which my old persecutors had fabricated and spread abroad
respecting me, except those about my having committed suicide, and being
smothered to death, and some others which were so notoriously false that
they could no longer be used to my disadvantage. Those stories he
improved by making them worse. He made a number of new ones also.

I had published a book, giving the story of my life up to the time of my
expulsion from the Methodist New Connexion. This work, like my other
works, was written in the clearest and simplest style, so that no man
with ordinary abilities could fail to understand it, and no man without
powers of perversion bordering on the miraculous, could give to any part
of it an objectionable meaning. This book he took, and read, and
misread, and interpreted, and misinterpreted, so as to make the
impression on persons unacquainted with it, that I had written and
published the most foolish, ridiculous, and in some cases, really
discreditable things of myself, and even false and unwarrantable
statements about others.

Before the discussion came on he gave a lecture on this book. I went to
hear it. He spoke about an hour, and every quotation from the work, and
every reference he made to it, was false. There was not a word of truth
in the whole lecture. There was not a sentence which was not as opposite
to truth and as full of falsehood as he could make it. And the ingenuity
he displayed in his task was marvellous. It was really devilish. He
enlarged my conception of the evil powers of wicked men, in the line of
turning good into evil, and truth into lies, beyond all that I could
otherwise have imagined. He did a hundred things, the least of which my
poor limited capacity would have deemed impossible.

He pursued the same course in the debate. He went as far beyond poor
McCalla, as McCalla had gone beyond ordinary sinners. If I had
undertaken to correct his misrepresentations, and expose his fictions, I
should not have had one moment to give to the subject we were met to
discuss. So I did as I did with McCalla, I rebuked the man with becoming
severity; I contradicted his statements in the plainest and strongest
way I could; I also offered to arrange for a discussion of personal
matters, if he wished it, after we had gone through our discussion of
principles, and engaged to prove every discreditable story he told of me
to be false, and then went on with the discussion. He accepted my
challenge to discuss personalities, but neither kept his engagement, nor
abated his efforts at misrepresentation during the remainder of the
debate.

He was not content with sober, sad, deliberate falsehood; he resorted to
ridicule. He pulled comical and ugly faces; put out his tongue; put his
thumb to his nose; threw orange peel at me; and said and did other
things which it is not lawful for me to utter.

He had thought, I suppose, to disgust me; to tire me out; to make me
withdraw from the debate, and give him the opportunity of saying he had
put me to flight. He was mistaken. I kept my ground. And I kept my
temper. And I kept my gravity. I rebuked him at times with becoming
sternness, and then went on with my task. It is probable that I spoke
more strongly against the Bible, and that I said harder things against
the church and the ministry, than I should have done, if he had
conducted himself with any regard to truth and decency; but I did not
raise my voice above its usual pitch, nor did I show any unusual signs
of indignation, disgust, or irritation. My feelings became more intense,
my language more cutting, and my style and logic more pointed and
forcible; but my manner was calm, and my behaviour guarded.

And I husbanded my strength. I let him explode, while I let off my steam
quietly, and in just measure only, making every particle do its proper
work. I wasted neither words, nor strength, nor time. In three or four
days my wicked opponent began to get weak and weary. He had tired
_himself_ instead of me. He had disgusted and put to shame many of his
friends. He had driven away several of his supporters. He had weakened
his party. He had strengthened his opponent. He had lost, he had
betrayed, his cause. He dragged on heavily. He was all but helpless. I
had every thing my own way. I had an easy fight, and a decisive victory.

I had the last speech; and when the battle was over, I felt free to deal
with my unprincipled opponent rather severely, and I said: "My opponent
has acted, from beginning to end of this debate, in anything but a noble
and manly way. I refer not merely to his personal abuse, his use of foul
names, his insolence of manner, his malignity of spirit; but to the way
in which he has misconducted the argument. He was pledged to prove the
Bible of Divine origin and authority. He was bound to bring out, as
early as possible, what he thought his strongest arguments, and afford
me an opportunity of meeting them. But he did not do this. To judge from
his proceedings, you would conclude that he had no faith in any of the
popular arguments, such as those employed by Paley, Horne, &c. He sat
watching, like an animal we need not name, for some stray thought to
pounce upon. He tried every device to draw me from the question, and
showed, not only the greatest reluctance, but a fixed determination, not
to come any nearer to it himself than he could possibly help. He has
shown nothing like courage, nothing like confidence in the goodness of
his cause, nothing like openness, candor, or generosity; nothing but
craft and cunning. He has never fought like a soldier, but dodged like
an assassin. Honorable men _give up_ a cause that can't be honorably
maintained. For myself, ye are witnesses, I came out openly, boldly, and
at once, and gave my opponent the best opportunity he could have of
grappling fairly with my arguments. But he would not meet them. He slunk
behind his mud-battery, and instead of firing shot and shell, spurted
forth filth. By-and-by he took my old deserted battery, and began to
play upon me with my worn-out guns and wooden shot, till his friends
compelled him to give up. He complained that I had taken up my position
on Mount Horeb, and pattered him with grapeshot from the old Jewish
armory, and besought and urged me to plant myself on Mount Tabor, or the
Mount of Olives, and try what I could do with Christian ammunition. I
did so; but even that did not please him. He stared and squalled, as if
it had been raining red-hot shot, as thick as it once poured hailstones
and fire in Egypt, killing every beast that was out in the fields. And
thus he has gone on. He never seems to have been satisfied, either with
his own position or mine. I might have pleased him, no doubt, by giving
in before the battle, and surrendering at discretion; but that is not my
custom. Well, now the battle draws near its close; and no one, I trust,
has lost anything, but what is better lost than found. I am satisfied
with my own position, and nearly so with my share of the fight. With a
manlier foe, I should have had a pleasanter fight; but soldiers cannot
always choose their antagonists, nor can they keep, in all cases, to
their own best mode of warfare. The hunter cannot always find the
noblest game; and perhaps it is better for his neighbour, if not so
pleasant to himself, that he should sometimes be obliged to employ his
dogs and rifles in destroying vermin.

"I feel that an apology is due from me to you and the public, for
entering the lists with my opponent. It is soon given. When I first
offered to meet him in discussion on the Bible, I supposed him to be a
well-informed and respectable man, and the representative of the
highest intellectual and moral culture, combined with superior talent
and experience as a debater, that the orthodox world could boast. I soon
found out my mistake, but I did not feel at liberty to withdraw my
challenge. When I learned the infamous character of his personal
lectures, I declined all further correspondence with him till he should
retract his slanders; but still I did not feel free to say I would not
debate with him, if his friends should bring him to reasonable terms.
His friends in Halifax succeeded in doing so, and out of regard to the
wishes of my friends, I submitted to the temporary degradation of being
placed on the same platform with my unprincipled calumniator, and the
calumniator of the best, the wisest, and the greatest men of every age
and nation. I do not regret having done so.

"He will leave this discussion a sadder and a wiser man. He has found
that the power of insolence, and falsehood, and of vulgar, brutal wit,
has its bounds; that there are those whom they cannot abash or cow; that
the _might_ in moral encounters is with the _right_.

"I part with my opponent without malice, though without regret. If he
has natural characteristics which others have not, and lacks some higher
qualities which others have, the fault is not entirely his. He did not
make himself. Nor did he nurse, or rear, or train himself. He is the
production, and his character may, to a great extent, be the production,
of influences over which he had no control. I shall not therefore state
all I have felt while listening to the false and fierce personalities
with which this discussion has been disgraced. I will rather acknowledge
my own errors, and lament that anything he has said or done should have
been permitted, in any case, to affect my own style of advocacy, and
render me less gentle or guarded in my utterances than I otherwise might
have been. I retract every expression of unkindness or resentment. I
apologize for everything harsh, offensive, or ungraceful in my manner;
and I am sorry I could not declare and advocate my views, without
shocking or distressing some of your minds. And now, with best and
heartiest wishes for your welfare, and for the welfare of mankind at
large, and in the fall and certain hope of the final, universal, and
eternal triumph of the truth, and in the ultimate regeneration and
salvation of our race, I bid you all farewell."

This man purchased the copyright of the debate, and pledged himself to
issue a correct edition, in accordance with the notes of the reporter.
Instead of doing so, besides making unlimited alterations in his own
speeches, he altered every speech of mine. Some things he left out. In
one case, to prevent an exposure of one of his more reckless
mis-statements, he left out two pages of one of my speeches. By a free
and artful use of _italics_, and an abuse of stops, he altered and
perverted the meaning of quite a multitude of my statements. And when,
after all, he found that the publication damaged him terribly in the
estimation of his friends, he suppressed it altogether.

The conduct of this opponent had a bad effect on my mind, and if
anything short of sound reason could have kept me in the ranks of
infidelity, it would have been the shameless, the outrageous conduct of
such pretenders to Christianity as this bad man. But I thank God, such
horrible and inexcusable inconsistency was not allowed to decide my
fate. Better powers, sweeter and happier influences, were brought into
play to counteract its deadly tendency. And even other opponents, of a
worthier character and of a higher order, came in my way, who, by their
Christian temper, and high culture, and by their regard for my feelings,
and their manifest desire for my welfare, obliterated the bad
impressions produced by the unscrupulous and malignant conduct of Brewin
Grant, and all but won me over to the cause of Christ.

It happened that while I was yet in England, an arrangement was made for
a public discussion between me and Colonel Michael Shaw, of Bourtree
Park, Ayr. Colonel Shaw was a kind of lay minister, who preached the
Gospel gratuitously, and spent his time and property in doing good. He
was a Christian and a gentleman out and out; a Christian and a gentleman
of the highest order. Five such men might have saved Sodom and Gomorrah,
and all the cities of the plain. He was as guileless as a little child,
and as honest as the light, and about as pure, and good, and kind as a
regenerated human soul could be. This, at least, was the impression
which his looks, and conversation, and behaviour, made on my mind. He
not only commanded my respect, but called forth my veneration; and he
made me love him, as I never did love more than two or three good men in
all my life.

Well, an arrangement was made for a public discussion on the divine
authority of the Bible between this good and godly man and me.

The discussion took place in the City Hall, Glasgow. The Colonel was so
kind and gentlemanly, that I found my task exceedingly difficult. It was
very unpleasant to speak lightly of the faith of so good and true a man;
or to say anything calculated to hurt the feelings of one so guileless
and so affectionate. And many a time I wished myself employed about some
other business, or engaged in a contest with some other man. At the end
of the second night's debate we were to rest two days, and the Colonel
was so kind as to invite me, and even to press me, to spend those days
with him at his residence near Ayr. The Colonel had given his good lady
so favorable an account of my behaviour in the debate, that she wrote to
me enforcing her good husband's invitation. I went. I could do no other.
The Colonel and his venerable father met me at the station with a
carriage, and I was soon in the midst of the Colonel's truly Christian
and happy family. Neither the Colonel nor any of his household attempted
to draw me into controversy. Not a word was spoken that was calculated
to make me feel uneasy. There seemed no effort on the part of any one,
yet every thing was said and done in such a way as to make me feel
myself perfectly at home. Love, true Christian love, under the guidance
of the highest culture, was the moving spirit in the Colonel's family
circle. A visit to the birthplace of Burns, and to the banks of Bonny
Doon, was proposed, and a most delightful stroll we had, made all the
more pleasant by the Colonel's remarks on the various objects of
interest that came in view, and his apt quotation of passages from the
works of the poet, referring to the scenery amidst which we were moving.

On our return home I was made to feel at ease again with regard to every
thing but myself. I felt sorry that I should be at variance with my
kind and accomplished host on a subject of so much interest and
importance as religion and the Bible. The thought that on the evening of
the coming day I should have to appear on the platform again as his
opponent, was really annoying. To talk with such a man privately, in a
free and friendly way, seemed proper enough; but to appear in public as
his antagonist seemed too bad. When we started from Ayr to Glasgow in
the same train, and in the same carriage, I felt as if I would much
rather have travelled in some other direction, or on a different errand.
But an agreement had been made, and it must be kept; so two more nights
were spent in discussion. But it _was_ discussion,--fair and friendly
discussion,--and not quarrelling. Neither he nor I gave utterance to an
unkind or reproachful word. When the discussion was over, the Colonel
shook me by the hand in a most hearty manner in the presence of an
excited audience, and presented me with a book as an expression of his
respect and good feeling. I made the best returns I could, unwilling to
be too much outdone by my gallant and Christian friend. The audience,
divided as they were on matters of religion, after gazing some time on
the spectacle presented on the platform, as if at loss what to do, or
which of the disputants they should applaud, dropped their differences,
and all united in applauding both, and the disputants and the audience
separated with the heartiest demonstrations of satisfaction and mutual
good-will. The events of those days, and the impression I received of my
opponent's exalted character, never faded from my memory. And though
they had not all the effect they ought to have had, their influence on
my mind was truly salutary. I have never thought of Colonel Shaw and his
good, kind, Christian family, without affection, gratitude, and delight.
He wrote to me repeatedly after my return to America, and his letters,
which reached us when we were living among the wilds of Nebraska, were
among our pleasantest visitants, and must be reckoned among the means of
my recovery from the horrors of unbelief.

I cannot doubt but that my encounter with this blessed man did much
towards winning back my soul to God, and Christ, and the Church. This
gracious man,--this child of light and love,--is still living, and he
continues, when I give him the opportunity, to testify his love for me,
and his good wishes for my health and welfare. God bless his soul; and
bless his household; and, after having given them a long and happy life
on earth, receive them to His kingdom, to share together the riches of
His love for ever and ever.



CHAPTER XVII.

CONTINUATION OF MY STORY. FRESH TROUBLES. A CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. HOW
BROUGHT ABOUT. INCIDENTS. THE CHANGE COMPLETE AT LENGTH. ITS RESULTS.


In compliance with the request of some skeptical neighbours, I lectured
against the Divine authority of the Bible in my first settlement in
Ohio. Mr. Spofforth, a Methodist minister was induced to hold a public
discussion with me on the subject, and as he was not well acquainted
either with his own side of the question or the other, he was soon
embarrassed and confounded, and obliged to retire from the contest. Not
content with the retirement of my opponent, I announced another course
of lectures on the Bible, resolved not to relinquish my hold of the
people's attention, till I had laid before them my thoughts on the
exciting subject at greater length. The company listened to me for a
time with great patience, but while I was giving my last lecture, some
young men set to work outside to pull down the log school-house in which
I was speaking, and I and my friends had to make haste out before the
lecture was over, to avoid being buried before we were dead.

The young men had provided themselves plentifully with rotten eggs,
thinking to pelt me on my way home; but the night was very dark, and the
way led through a tall, dense, shadowy forest, and somehow they mistook
their own father for me, and gave _him_ the eggs. When he got home he
was as slimy and odoriferous as a man need to be; while I was perfectly
clean and sweet.

But I was not to be permitted to escape in this way. During the night
they pulled down the fences of my farm, and gave me other hints, that I
must leave, or do worse. So I sold my farm for what I could get, and
bought another some seventy miles away, near Salem, Columbiana County, a
region occupied chiefly by what, in America, were called
"_Come-outers_"--people who had left the churches and the ministry, and
even separated themselves from civil organizations, resolved to be
subject to no authority but their own wills or their own whims. Among
people so free as those, I thought I should have liberty plenty; but I
soon found that they were so fond of freedom, that they wanted _my_
share as well as their own, and I got into trouble once more. And then I
saw that the greatest brawlers about liberty, when they come to be
tried, are often the most arrant despots and tyrants on the face of the
earth.

Then the people in the district were not _all_ Come-outers. Some were
Christians. And these I provoked by my disregard of the Sabbath, and by
my advocacy of views unfriendly to religion and the divine authority of
the Bible. I worked in my garden or on my farm on a Sunday, in sight of
my neighbors as they went to church. I had previously called a Bible
convention in the place, and taken the leading part in its proceedings.
I took the skeptical side in a public discussion on Christianity in the
town, and gave utterance to sentiments which pained the hearts of the
religious portion of my neighbors beyond endurance. The consequence was,
I got into trouble again, and had to move once more, or be undone.

So I moved once more. This time I resolved to make sure of a quiet home,
so I went right away beyond the limits of the States, into the unpeopled
territory of Nebraska, a country at that period ten or twelve times as
large as Pennsylvania or England, and containing less than five thousand
white inhabitants--an immense wilderness, occupied chiefly by tribes of
red Indians, herds of buffalo and deer, countless multitudes of wolves,
with here and there a bear, a panther, or a catamount, and heaps of
rattlesnakes. And here I thought I should be safe. And so I was. The
Indians gave me no trouble. I always treated them kindly, and they were
kind to me in return. As for the wild beasts, God has "put the fear and
dread of man upon every beast of the earth;" and as he approaches, they
retire. As a rule, the fiercest beasts of the forest will turn aside to
make way for man. I have lived in the midst of multitudes of wolves, and
taken no harm. I have slept on the open prairie in regions swarming with
wolves, and never been disturbed. I have travelled by night in other
parts of the country, over the wildest mountains, the homes of panthers,
bears, and catamounts, and never been molested. The rattlesnakes were
the most dangerous creatures. Yet even from them I took no harm, I have
walked among them time after time in slippers or low shoes, yet I never
was bitten. I slept once for three nights with a rattlesnake within two
or three inches of my breast, yet escaped unhurt. God took care of me,
when I neither took due care of myself, nor cared as I ought for Him.

The parties I feared the most were the white people. They had heard of
me, and as they passed me in the street, they looked at me askance,
regarding me apparently as a mystery or a monster. But I never shocked
them by skeptical lectures, or by any other act of hostility to
religion, so they bore with me, and came at length to treat me with
respect and confidence. My wife and family were regarded with favor from
the first. And I shall never forget the kindness of one of our Christian
neighbors to my wife, in a time of affliction and sorrow.

And it is from my settlement in this desolate and far-off region, that I
date the commencement of a change for the better in the state of my
mind. I do not say that my opinions began to change, but the state of my
_feelings_ got better, which rendered possible a change for the better
in my sentiments.

But I had reached a sad extreme. I had lost all trust in a Fatherly God,
and all good hope of a better life. I had come near to the horrors of
utter Atheism. And the universe had become an appalling and inexplicable
mystery. And the world had come to be a dreary habitation; and life a
weary affair; and many a time I wished I had never been born. And there
were occasions when the dark suggestion came, "Life is a burden; throw
it down." But I said; "Nay; there are my wife and children: I will live
for their sakes if for nothing else." And for their sakes I did live,
thank God, till I had something else to live for.

If I were asked what first gave a check to my skepticism, and led me to
turn my face once more towards Christ and Christianity, I should say,
"The answer is supplied by my story." As I have shown, it was the
troubled state of my mind,--the tempest of unhappy feeling, and the
whirlwind of excitement in which I had lived so long,--that had most to
do in carrying me away from Christ; and now my mind was allowed to be at
rest. The whirlwind of excitement had spent its fury. The tempest in my
soul had subsided, so that the principal hindrance to my return was
gone. There were other causes that had contributed to the destruction of
my faith in Christ and Christianity, but this was the first and chief
one, and the one which gave the principal part of their force to the
rest. As I have shown, I had been taught things about the Scriptures
that were not correct. I had found a number of the arguments used by
divines in support of the divinity of the Scriptures to be unsound. I
had detected pious frauds in the writings of some of the advocates of
the Bible and Christianity. I had met with untenable views on the
inspiration and infallibility of the Scriptures. I had, besides, adopted
a defective method of reasoning on religious matters, which exerted an
injurious influence on my mind. All these things, and many others which
I cannot at present mention, had proved occasions of doubt and unbelief.
But the probability is, that none of these things would have destroyed
my faith in Christ, if I had been in a proper state of mind. There was
nothing in them to justify unbelief to a mind unprejudiced,
undistempered, calm. There was attractiveness enough in Christ, if the
mists which passion had thrown around Him, to hide His worth and glory
from my view, could be cleared away. And there was truth and goodness
enough in Christianity, and there were evidences sufficient of its
divinity, if one could have the films removed from one's eyes, and be
permitted to behold it in its own sweet light. The great difficulty was
in the disordered state of my mind, and the trying nature of my
situation. What was wanted, therefore, to make it possible for me to
return to my former faith, was not so much an explanation of particular
difficulties, as a better, happier, calmer state of mind. Explanations
of difficulties _were_ desirable, but they were not the first or
principal things required. The great, the _one_ thing needful, at the
outset, was a fitting state of mind,--a mind sufficiently free from
irritation, painful excitement, and consequent unhappy bias, to enable
me to do justice to the religion of Christ. And the circumstances in
which I was placed in Nebraska were calculated to bring me to this
desirable state of mind; and many things which befel me there were
calculated to stimulate my return to Christ.

1. In the first place, I was in a region favorable to calm and serious
thought. True, we were infected for a time with the fever of speculation
so prevalent in new countries; and we shared the hardships and toils,
the cares and anxieties, of a border life: but there were seasons when
serious thought and salutary reflection were inevitable. I was often
alone amid the quiet and solemnity of a boundless wilderness. The busy
world of men was far away. There was no one near to foster doubt or
unbelief, or to reopen or irritate afresh the closing wounds inflicted
by bigotry and intolerance in days gone by. And the loneliness of my
condition seemed to bring me nearer to God. It allowed the revival of
those Godward-tending instincts implanted in man's heart by the hand of
the Creator. It favored the resurrection to life of the natural
religious affections, and the revival of those holy longings and
aspirations after a higher life and a grander destiny than earth can
give, which arise so spontaneously in the breasts of men. It allowed the
better self to rise and assert its power, while it shamed the evil self
into the shade. And often, when away beyond the sight of man or of human
habitation, amidst the eternal silence and the boundless solitude, I had
strange thoughts and strange feelings; and there were times when, if I
had yielded to the impulses from within, I should have cast myself down
upon the ground, and adored the Great Mysterious Infinite.

On one occasion I went, in company with my youngest son and a friend,
some distance into the interior of the country. At one point we came
upon a deserted and decaying Indian village, and then upon an Indian
track across the desert. A little further on we struck a Mormon track,
along which a company of the Latter-day saints had groped their way
towards their promised Paradise in the Salt Lake Valley. As we followed
the track we came upon a mound, and then upon another, marking the spots
where worn-out travellers had ended their weary pilgrimages, and been
consigned, amid the desolate wilds, to their final resting places. Into
one of these unprotected graves the wolves had made their way, to feed
upon the fallen victim of the new faith. When night came on it found us
in these dreary and desolate wilds, and there we had to prepare to pass
the night under the open sky, with multitudes of wolves around us. We
had hardly spread our blankets when the sky was covered with black and
heavy clouds, and lightnings flashed, and thunders roared, and
everything betokened a night of storm and rain. We protected ourselves
against the threatening elements as well as we could, and prepared
ourselves for cold and drenching showers, and for a sleepless and
troubled night, when, happily for us, the wind suddenly changed, and
dissipated the clouds. The stars came out in all their glory, and the
night was calm and bright, and all we had to try our patience was a
little frost. And there I slept; and there I often awoke; and in my
intervals of wakefulness I gazed on the magnificence of the outspread
skies, and mused on the dreariness of the surrounding wilderness, and
thought of the stirring scenes through which I had passed in days gone
by, and of the strange and death-like silent one in which I then was
placed. "And what will the future be?" said I. "And here is my son; in
the spring of life; on adventures so strange; in a universe so vast and
so mysterious; what will be his destiny? And what will be the destiny of
the dear ones we have left behind?" And then I lost myself in a world of
strange imaginings. When wearied with my restless musings, I sank to
rest again, and passed from waking into sleeping dreams.

Morning broke at length, and we arose, and started on our journey. The
deer were skipping gaily over the plains. The wolves were hiding in
their holes. We came at length to a stream. It was skirted by a grove,
into which we made our way, and there we kindled a fire, and prepared
our breakfast. We filled our coffee kettle from the brook. A hazel twig
served us for a toasting fork; and we were soon engaged in one of the
pleasantest parts of a hungry traveller's work. We relished our bread
and ham and coffee amazingly. The wolves might be snuffing the odor of
our viands, and coveting our repast; but they remained within their
hiding-places, and kept silent; and we finished our meal in peace.

We rested next on the outskirts of a grove on the banks of the Elkhorn
river. Here I was left to take care of the stuff, to prepare a bed, and
to gather wood for a fire to cook our supper, and to frighten away the
wolves, and keep us warm through the night, I gathered a quantity of dry
and withered grass, and spread it on the ground, and covered it with a
blanket, for a bed. I then looked around for wood. I saw some down in a
dark deep gully, and went to fetch it; when I found myself all alone and
unarmed in front of a hideous wolf-hole. I retreated with all the haste
I could, and was soon on the top of the bank again, panting and
trembling, and endeavoring to increase the distance between myself and
the horrible den as rapidly as I could. I next looked round for wood on
safer ground, and having collected a quantity, I waited with anxiety for
the return of my companions. We slept that night in a half-built and
deserted log cabin, without doors or windows, put up by some adventurous
border-man to secure a claim to a portion of the surrounding land. A
considerable part of the cabin was without roof. And there were large
spaces between the layers of logs through which the frosty winds had
free admission. For a time we deliberated whether we should be colder
inside the cabin or outside. At length we decided in favor of the
interior. We then took the wagon body off the frame and carried it into
the cabin, and raised it on one side to screen us from the wind which
came through the cabin walls. Against the wall at our head we fixed up
rugs. At our feet, between our bed and the open doorway, we had our
blazing fire. And there we slept. We had prickly sensations in our eyes
in the morning, but they soon passed away. We took no cold, or none that
proved serious at all. And the wolves seemed to keep at a respectable
distance.

As soon as we had got through our breakfast, and put our wagon and team
in order, we started homewards. At one point, as we passed along, a wolf
looked quietly down upon us from the side of a hill just by. A bigger
one had passed us as we stood in front of the half-built cabin in which
we had passed the night. The region abounded with them, on every side.

While crossing a tract of rich bottom land, where the dry and withered
grass of the previous summer lay thick, I struck a light, and for an
experiment, set the prairie on fire. The flames blazed forth at once
like gunpowder. They spread and roared. The wind rose, and blew the
flames in the direction of our wagon. It was all we could do to get to
the wagon and jump in and flee. We had no sooner started the horses than
we found that the traces of one of them were loose, and we had to jump
out again to fasten them; and before we could retake our places the
flames were almost at our ears. The horses fled, however, at a good
quick pace, and speedily carried us beyond the reach of danger, and we
got safe home.

2. There were many things in my new situation and in my strange way of
life, besides the silence and the solitude of a boundless desert, that
were calculated to awaken within me solemn feeling, and to rouse me to
serious thoughtfulness on things pertaining to God and religion. And
when once my mind had begun to awake to such matters, it was never
permitted to sink again, for any length of time, into its former
death-like slumber. And many things befel me that tended to make me
feel, and feel most painfully at times, the helplessness and
cheerlessness, the gloom and wretchedness, of the man who has lost his
trust in God, and his hope of a blessed immortality. There is nothing in
utter doubt and unbelief to satisfy a man with a heart. A man with a
heart wants a Father in whose bosom he can repose, a Saviour in whose
care and sympathy he can trust, and a better world to which he can look
forward as his final home and resting-place, and as the eternal home and
resting-place of those who are dear to him. And I _had_ a heart. I was
not made for infidelity. I never submitted to it willingly, and I never
sat easy under its power. I had affections, cravings, wants, which
nothing but religion could satisfy.

3. Then trouble came. Infidelity is a wretched affair even in
prosperity; but in adversity it is still worse. And adversity overtook
me. In the spring of 1857 we had a reasonable income, from property
which we supposed to be of considerable value. A few weeks later a panic
came, and our income fell to nothing; our property was valueless;
instead of a support it became a burden, and we had to set to work to
get a living by our labor, at a time when work was hard to be got, and
when wages were down at the lowest point. This was a time of great
distress and grievous trial, and I felt the want of consolation most
keenly. I could once have said, "Although the fig tree shall not
blossom, neither shall fruit be on the vines; the labor of the olive
shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut
off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet will I
rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." But now I
_had_ no God. The universe had no great Fatherly Ruler. The affairs of
man were governed by chance, or by a harsh and grinding necessity; and
all good ground of hope and cheerful trust had given place to doubt, and
gloom, and cruel uncertainty.

4. Trials of other kinds came. Sickness and pain entered our dwelling,
and seized upon one of my family. My youngest son was taken ill. He was
racked with excruciating pain. It seemed as if the agony would drive him
to distraction, or cut short his days. And there I stood, watching his
agony, and distracted with his cries, unable to utter a whisper about a
gracious Providence, or to offer up a prayer for help or deliverance.

5. Another dear one was afflicted; and again my heart was torn, and
again my lips were sealed. I could not even say to the suffering one,
"God bless you."

6. I was called to attend the funeral of a child. The parents were in
great distress, and I was anxious to speak to them a word of comfort;
but doubt and unbelief had left me no such word to speak. I remembered
the day when I could have said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven."

     "They rest in Jesus, and are blest,
     How sweet their slumbers are."

But the happy day was gone, and I was dumb in the presence of the
mourners.

7. I was called, on another occasion, to visit a friend, a brother
skeptic, who was sick and likely to die. I had often visited him when he
was well, and we had managed, on those occasions, to interest or amuse
each other; but now we were helpless. Both were in sorrow, and neither
could console his brother. And there we were, looking mournfully on each
other in the face of death, speechless and comfortless. I am horrified
when I think of the dreadful position in which I was placed on those
solemn occasions. It seemed to me as if I had been enchanted all those
dreary days by some malignant demon, and made the sport of his infernal
cruelty. My friend, like myself, had been a Christian in his earlier
days, and had rejoiced in the assurance of God's love and favor, and in
hopes of future and eternal blessedness; and now he was passing away in
utter cheerlessness and hopelessness. He died, and I followed his
remains to the grave. I spoke; but I had no great comforting truths with
which to cheer the sad hearts of his weeping kindred. I looked down,
with his disconsolate widow, and his sorrowing children, into the dark
cold vault, but could say not a single word of a better life. We
sorrowed as those who have no hope.

8. While I was in Nebraska my mother died. Like my father, who had died
some years before, she had been a Christian from her early days; a very
happy one; and she continued a Christian to the last. She was one of the
most affectionate and devoted mothers that ever lived. She had eleven
children. The eldest one died when he was twenty-one, after having spent
a number of years, young as he was, as an able and useful minister of
Christ. He died a happy death. The remaining ten were all permitted to
grow up to manhood and womanhood, and my mother had the happiness at one
time, an unspeakable happiness to her, to see them all, with one
exception, devoted to the service of God, and several of them engaged
as preachers of the Gospel. They were joyful days to her when she could
get them all together, as she sometimes did, to sing with her the sweet
hymns of praise and gratitude, of hope and rapture, which had cheered
her so often during the years of her pilgrimage. And now she was gone. I
had seen her some years before when on a visit to my native land. She
know of my skeptical tendencies, and though she had faith in my desire
to be right, she was afraid lest I should miss my way, and entreated me
with all the affectionate tenderness of an anxious mother, not to allow
myself to be carried away from the faith and hope of the Gospel. "Do
pray, my dear son," she said,--"Do pray that God may lead you in the
right path. I want to meet you all in heaven. It would be a dreadful
thing if any of you should be found wanting at last. Don't forsake God.
Don't leave Christ. Religion is a reality; a blessed reality. I know it,
I feel it, my dear son. It is the pearl of great price." These were the
last words I heard from her lips. I listened to them in silence. Though
I was too far gone to be able to sympathize with her remarks as much as
I ought, I was wishful that she should enjoy all the comfort that her
faith could give her. She wept; she prayed for me; she kissed me; and I
left her, to see her face no more on earth. I returned to my home in
America, and the next thing I heard of the dear good creature was, that
she had finished her course. I kept the sad intelligence to myself, for
my heart was too full to allow me to speak of my loss, even to those who
were nearest and dearest to me. I thought of all her love for me from my
earliest days; and of all her labors and sacrifices for my comfort and
welfare. I remembered her counsels and her warnings. I remembered her
last kind words, her kiss, her prayers, her tears. It seems dreadful;
but unbelief had so chilled my soul, that I could no longer indulge the
sweet thought of an immortal life even for the soul of my dear good
Christian mother. I had once had visions of a land of rest, a paradise
of bliss, and countless crowds of happy souls, and rapturous songs, and
shouts of praise, and joyous meetings of loving and long parted friends
in realms of endless life and boundless blessedness; but all were gone.
A sullen gloom, a deathlike stupor, a horrible and unnatural paralysis
of hope had come in place of those sweet visions of celestial glories.
My only comfort was, that though I had ceased to believe in the divinity
of Christianity myself, _she_ had retained her faith, and had lived and
died in the enjoyment of its consolations.

9. We had a young woman that had lived with us, with the exception of
two short intervals, all the time we had been in America. She had come
to regard us as her natural guardians, and we had come to look on her as
one of our family. The second time she left us she caught a fever, and
returned to us in hopes that in her old and quiet home she would soon be
well again. We procured her medical aid, but the fever got worse. The
doctor lost hopes, and it soon began to be evident, that she was doomed
to a speedy death. I attended her during the last sad night of her
sufferings. I heard her moanings as her life drew slowly towards a
close. I wanted to comfort her, but I had lost the power. I could once
have spoken to her of a Father in heaven, and of a better world; but I
could speak on those subjects no longer. I could once have kneeled by
her side and prayed; but I could pray no more. I could neither comfort
myself nor my dying charge. She passed away without a word of
consolation or a whisper of hope to cheer her as she trod the dark
valley of the shadow of death. I stood by, afflicted and comfortless,
when her lifeless form was committed to its final resting-place, unable
to speak a word of hope or consolation to the sorrowing minds that were
gathered around her grave. She was interred on the slope of the hill, on
the opposite side of the stream over against my farm, within view of the
field and the garden in which I often worked, and the lonely dwelling in
which I frequently slept. And there she lay, far from her kindred and
her native land, the wild winds moaning over her solitary grave, and no
sweet word about God, or Christ, or a better life, to mark the spot
where she slept. And there, on that quiet farm, and in that solitary
dwelling, with that one melancholy grave in view, I passed at times the
long sad days, and the still and solemn nights, in utter loneliness,
gazing on the desolate scenes around, or feeding on saddening thoughts
within, "without hope and without God in the world." I sought for
comfort in a Godless and Christless philosophy, but sought in vain. I
tried to extort from nature some word of consolation, but not a whisper
could I obtain. I tried to forge some theory of my own that might lessen
the gloom in which I was wrapt; but my efforts were fruitless. The light
of life was quenched; the joy, the bliss of being was no more. I had
"forsaken the fountain of living waters," and nothing remained but
broken cisterns that could hold no water. I was wretched; and, apart
from God, and Christ, and immortality, my wretchedness was incurable;
and the sense of my wretchedness prepared me, and ultimately constrained
me, to look once more in the direction of the religion that had cheered
me in my earlier days.

10. I had a great and grievous trial of another kind while in Nebraska.
When we removed to that far-off country, we left our eldest son in Ohio
to look after our interests there, and to send off to us what goods we
might require in our new home. The river Ohio, down which our goods had
to be sent, was low at the time, and the steamer on which they were
placed, while racing recklessly with another steamer, struck on a rock
and was wrecked. There were over a thousand volumes of my books on
board, the best and principal part of my library; nearly all my
manuscripts too were on board, and much other property, amounting in
value to twelve or thirteen hundred pounds; over $6,000; and nearly all
was lost, or irreparably damaged.

This however was but a light part of the trial. As soon as my eldest son
got news of the wreck, he hastened to the spot, to save what portions of
our property he could. The weather was hot by day, and cold by night.
Both the season and the place were unhealthy, and by his great anxiety,
and excessive labors, and continual exposure, he brought on a violent
fever. The first information we received about the matter was that he
was dying. When the dreadful tidings reached us we were more than a
thousand miles away. I started at once for Ohio, and made what haste I
could to reach my son; but go what way I would, I must be four or five
long days on the road, and four or five long nights. I took my way down
the river. For four long days and four long dreary nights I travelled,
in doubt all the time whether my child was dead or alive. And all that
time I was unable to offer up a prayer, either for my son, myself, or
the anxious and sorrowing ones I had left behind. Nor could I apply to
myself a single consolatory promise of Scripture. My mad antichristian
philosophy had robbed me of all. God and His Providence, Christ and His
sympathy, heaven and its blessedness, were all gone, and nothing was
left but the hard blank horrors of inexorable fate. My soul was shut up
as in a dungeon, unable to help itself. It was stretched on a rack, and
tortured with excruciating pain. Those four long dreary days and nights
were the darkest and most miserable I ever passed. But God was merciful.
I lived to reach the end of my dreadful journey, and He had spared my
son. We embraced,--we wept. We were spared--the whole of our family were
spared, thank God--for better days, and for a happier lot.

11. There were other events which befell me while I was in Nebraska,
that had a salutary influence on my mind. I was frequently in the
greatest danger, and was as frequently preserved from harm. As I have
said, I slept three nights with a rattlesnake within three inches of my
breast. My eldest son slept repeatedly in the same terrible position;
yet we both escaped unhurt. Once I was within an inch--within a hair's
breadth, I may say--of being killed by the kick of a horse. On another
occasion, when my eldest son was forking hay in the field, and I was
piling it on the wagon, he heard a rattlesnake, and looked all round
upon the ground to find it, with a view to kill it, but looked in vain.
At length, turning his eyes upwards, he saw it writhing and wriggling on
one of the prongs of his hayfork, which he was holding up in the air. He
had pierced the deadly creature while forking the hay, and I had taken
the hay from the fork with my naked hands, and escaped unbitten. I had
quite a multitude of escapes from deadly peril, some more remarkable
than those I have described. And there were times when the thoughts of
those wonderful deliverances made me feel, that there were far more
incredible doctrines than that of a watchful and gracious Providence.

12. Again. When I commenced my career of religious exploration, I
expected I should get rid of all difficulties, and that I should reach a
region at last where all would be light; where there would be no more
harassing or perplexing mysteries. For a time my hopes appeared to get
realized. The doctrines of Calvinism I threw away in mass, and thus got
rid of the difficulties connected with predestination, election and
reprobation. The difficulties connected with infinite and absolute
fore-knowledge I got rid of by modifying and limiting the doctrine. Many
theological difficulties appeared to arise, not from the doctrines of
Scripture, but from anti-christian fictions, and false theories of
Scripture doctrines. These I set aside without much ceremony. But when
one difficulty was disposed of, another made its appearance, and in some
cases several. And when I got outside the religion of Christ, more
difficulties than ever made their appearance, and difficulties often of
a more appalling character. The doctrine of predestination came back in
the shape of fate or necessity. All the great difficulties of theology
had ugly likenesses in infidel philosophy. Instead of reaching a region
of unsullied light, I got into one of clouds and darkness. And the
further I wandered, the blacker the clouds became, and the thicker the
darkness. The difficulties, the perplexities, on the side of unbelief,
were more distressing and embarrassing than those I had encountered on
the side of Christianity.

13. Again. I was frequently tried by the characters of unbelievers. I
had read and believed that many of the older unbelievers had been
immoral; but I supposed that modern unbelievers were a better class. I
had seen a number of statements to that effect in books and newspapers,
some of them proceeding from Christians, and even from Christian
ministers. I was disposed to believe that even the older infidels had
not been so bad as represented. I knew that _I_ had been belied, and I
considered it probable that all who had had quarrels or controversies
with members of the priesthood, had been belied in like manner. I
believed for a long time, that the loss of faith in the supernatural
origin of Christianity and the Bible, had made me better, in some
respects, instead of worse. I thought no changes had taken place in my
character, but what, on the whole, were improvements. For years after I
became an unbeliever, I endeavored to practise all the unquestionable
virtues inculcated in the Bible, and I was disposed to believe that
modern unbelievers generally did the same. And when I lectured against
the Divine authority of the Bible, I disclaimed, as I have already said,
all sympathy with those who rejected the Bible because it
discountenanced vice. And such was the violence of my anti-religious
fanaticism, that I had actually come at one time to believe that
infidelity, in connection with natural science, was more friendly to
virtue than Christianity.

But my faith in this view met with many rude shocks after I had been
some time in America. Often when I came to be acquainted with the men
who invited me to lecture, I was ashamed to be seen standing with them
in the streets; and I shrank from the touch of their hand as from
pollution. And many a time when I had associated with persons for a
length of time, thinking them above suspicion, I was amazed to find, at
length, that they looked on vicious indulgence as harmless, and were
astonished that any man who had lost his faith in Christianity, should
have scruples with regard to fornication or adultery. Though these
painful discoveries did not at once convince me that infidelity was
wrong, and Christianity right, they were not without effect. They
lessened my respect for the infidel philosophy, and prepared the way for
my return to Christ. In England, where I expected on my return, to find
unbelievers better, I found them worse. I supposed that the Secularists
thought as I did with regard to virtue. I thought their object was to
advance the temporal interests of mankind, and never dreamt but that
they regarded virtue as the greatest of those interests. And when I
found first one and then another to be dishonest, drunken, licentious, I
was disposed to regard them as exceptions to the general rule. To the
last; nay, for some time after my entire separation from the party, I
supposed the profligate, unprincipled, abandoned ones to be the few, and
the honest and virtuous ones to be the many. And when at length I was
convinced past doubt of my mistake, the effect was terribly painful. But
it was salutary. It went far towards convincing me, that whether
religion was founded in truth or not, it was necessary to the virtue and
happiness of mankind. It prepared me and inclined me still further to
return to Christ, and brought me a step or two nearer to His side.

14. Then again, the influences of my family were strongly in my favor. I
had a wife that always loved me, and that never ceased to pray. And I
had children that grew up believers, to a great extent, under the shadow
of my unbelief. They had suffered, as I have already said, from the
cruel treatment to which they had seen their father subjected: they had
been awfully prejudiced against certain classes of ministers, if not
against ministers generally; but now their prejudices were well nigh
gone. And they had never been embittered against Christianity. And now
they had come to feel strongly in its favor, and to look on skepticism
both as a great error, and a terrible calamity. My youngest son was
something of a genius. He was a clever mathematician, and an acute
logician. And he would say to me sometimes, when he heard me uttering
antichristian sentiments, "Father, I think you are wrong. I am sure you
are wrong on that point; and if you will listen to me I think I can
convince you that you are." And I did listen. I had long been accustomed
to regard my children more as friends and companions, than as inferiors,
and to encourage them to speak to me with all freedom. And they were
kind and considerate enough as a rule to use the liberty I gave them
without abusing it; so I hearkened to their remarks and remonstrances.
And there were occasions on which the logic of the child proved mightier
than the logic of the father--there were cases in which the father
learned lessons of truth, from those whom he ought to have instructed.
My eldest son, if not so powerful in logic, was surpassed by none in
goodness and tenderness; and if his brother excelled him in acuteness
and caution, no one could excel him in devout and passionate longings
for his father's return to Christ. And both these sons, and the whole of
my family, exerted an influence, which tended first to check the
extravagances of my skepticism, and then to help and hasten my return to
the truth as it is in Jesus.

My sons assisted me in more ways than one. They were more observant of
men than I was, and they were better judges of character. And they had
better opportunities than I had, of learning what the infidels with whom
they came in contact, really were, both in their principles and way of
life. And they were readier to receive the truth on the subject than I.
The consequence was, that both in America and in England, they gathered
up a multitude of facts that I should have passed unnoticed; and were
prepared to use them for my benefit, when the proper time should come.
And the proper time did come at length. I could believe nothing against
parties with whom I was connected, on any one's testimony, till I had
begun myself to detect their misdoings. My wife and children knew this,
so they never troubled me with _their_ discoveries, till I had myself
begun to make similar discoveries. As soon as they found I had seen
enough to shake my confidence in a number of the unbelievers--as soon as
they found that I had got rid of my mad prejudices in favor of the
parties, and had so far come to myself as to have obtained the use of my
eyes and understanding, they knew that the time for making known to me
_their_ discoveries had come. And they made them known. And they agreed
so perfectly with what I myself had seen and proved, that I could no
longer discredit their statements. And they explained a multitude of
other matters. Thus another blow was struck, both at my faith in
skeptics, and my faith in skepticism.

And both my wife and children had, on the whole, wonderful patience with
me in my tardy movements towards the truth. When I consider how much of
evil they saw in connexion with infidelity, and how strong their feeling
was of the truth and necessity of religion, I wonder at their
forbearance. At times their patience was well-nigh exhausted, but they
seldom betrayed the fact by their behavior. But my eldest son informed
me, after my return to Christ, that at one time, doubting whether I
should ever be cured of my insanity, he made up his mind to forswear all
other occupations, and give himself exclusively to the Christian
ministry, that he might spend his life and powers in a ceaseless warfare
against the horrible delusions to which I seemed so irretrievably
wedded.

15. In the year 1857, towards the close of the summer, I left my home in
Nebraska for a time, and went eastward on a lecturing tour. My first
appointment was at East Liverpool, in Ohio. There I met with my good,
old friend John Donaldson, of Byker, near Newcastle-on-Tyne, England. He
spoke of days long past, when we worked together in the cause of Christ.
He was kind, as he had always been; but it troubled him to find me so
changed--so far estranged from the views of former times. Though glad to
see my friend, the memories which his presence revived, of the days when
I was a happy and a useful minister of Christ, and the partial
re-awakening of old religious thoughts and feelings which it occasioned,
made me feel, for a moment, an indescribable sensation, as of one who
had got an unlooked-for glimpse of some fearful loss he had sustained,
or of some tremendous mistake he had committed. My infidel logic,
however, hastened to my aid, and assured me I was right; but the deep
and deathless instincts of my soul were not entirely at rest.

I reached Philadelphia at length. There I was engaged by Dr. W. Wright
for eight months. I lectured every Sunday, sometimes on theological,
sometimes on moral, and sometimes on scientific and general subjects. I
always urged on my hearers a virtuous life, and did what I could to
escape the society of persons of immoral habits. And I thought, for a
time, I had succeeded. But I was grievously mistaken. One of the acting
men in my congregation was a Plymouth man. He, as I afterwards found,
had deserted his wife and family, and was living with another woman.
Another, a more important member of my congregation, whom I supposed to
be an example of propriety, turned out to be an advocate of unlimited
license. And another, a man of great wealth, who had often invited me to
his house, and shown me kindness in other ways, I found, after his
death, had never been married to the person with whom he had lived as
his wife. I also found that he had another family in another part of the
city. I mention these unpleasant matters to show, that facts were not
wanting to shake my faith in the moral influence of infidel principles.
The gentleman by whom I was employed, treated me with great respect and
kindness, and some of my congregation did what they could to make me
comfortable; but the longer I remained in my position, the less
encouragement I saw to expect infidelity or skepticism to produce a
virtuous and honorable life.

The gentleman by whom I was employed had thought of expending some fifty
thousand dollars in building a hall, and endowing a lecture, &c., for
the propagation of infidel principles; but the conduct of the skeptics
that gathered round him, soon cured him of his anti-christian zeal.

16. Before my term was quite expired, I was engaged by another gentleman
for eight months. But I had seen so much to shake my faith in the
beneficent tendency of infidelity, that this time I left myself free,
both to lecture on what subjects I thought best, and to leave my
situation on two months' notice. As my new engagement did not commence
for three months or more, I had the happiness of spending some time in
the bosom of my family. As usual, the influences to which I was subject
there were all calculated to abate my faith in irreligious principles,
and to dispose me to look with less disfavor and prejudice on
Christianity. In August I started again for Philadelphia. I left my
family with sadness and tears, and I proceeded on my journey with a
feeling that it would not be long before my labors in Philadelphia would
come to an end. And the feeling grew stronger every week. The Hebrews
had a hard task when they were required to make bricks without straw;
but he who undertakes to make people good without religion, has to make
bricks without clay--and that is a vast deal harder. I felt my position
was not the right one, and I longed and sighed for something more in
accordance with my gradually changing views and better feelings; but
knew not exactly what it was I needed, or where it was to be found. I
frequently attended the ministry of Dr. Furness, the Unitarian minister;
and though his preaching was far from being all it should be, his
sermons had a salutary effect on my mind. His words about God and duty,
about Christ and immortality, fell on my soul at times like refreshing
dew. I also went to hear the Rev. Albert Barnes, and was both pleased
and surprised with the truth and excellence of many of his remarks. I
heard several other ministers; but the irrational and anti-christian
doctrines set forth by some of them, exerted an influence on my mind
which was the opposite of salutary.

At the end of two months I gave notice to my committee that I should
give up my situation as lecturer. I had come to the conclusion, that to
war with Christianity was not the way to promote the virtue and
happiness of mankind, and I told my congregation so. I added, that if we
were even sure that the sentiments entertained by Christians were
erroneous, it would be well to refrain from assailing them, till we had
something better to put in their place. And I also advised them, now
they were about to be left without a lecturer, to go to some place of
worship; and if they could not hear exactly what they could like, to
make the best of what they did hear, and by all means to live a
virtuous, honorable, and useful life. I gave similar advice to
congregations in other places, and by many it was well received.

When I gave up my situation in Philadelphia, my intention was to return
to England. I was anxious to free myself, as far as possible, from men
of extreme views, whether in religion or politics, and to place myself
in a position in which I should be perfectly free to pursue whatever
course a regard to truth and duty might require. I made up my mind,
therefore, that on my arrival in England, I would stand alone, apart
from all societies and public men, and have a paper of my own, and
publish from time to time whatever might commend itself to my judgment
as true and good. I knew I had changed during the last two years, though
I did not know how much; and I believed I was changing, though I could
not tell in what the change which was taking place would end. I had no
idea that I could ever become a Christian again, though the tendency of
the change which was taking place in me was in that direction.

Having taken leave of my friends, I hastened to Boston, and prepared for
my voyage across the deep. I was to sail by the Royal Mail Steamship
_Canada_, on the eleventh of January, 1860. Just as I was stepping on
board the packet, I received a letter from my youngest son. Among a
number of other kind things, it contained words like the following:
"Father, dear, when you get to England, don't dream that by any breath
of yours, or by any paper balls that you can fire, you can ever shatter
or shake the eternal foundations on which Christianity rests." Words
like those from a dear good son could not but have a powerful effect on
my mind.

And now I started on my voyage. I had never ventured on the sea before
without dread of shipwreck and drowning. This time I had no such fear.
On the contrary, as the vessel threaded her way among the rocks and
islands of Boston Harbor, I experienced a strange and unaccountable
elevation of soul. I had not felt so cheerful, so hopeful, so happy, for
many years. And this delightful joyousness of soul continued during the
whole of the voyage. Yet I had never gone to sea at so dangerous a
season. And I never encountered such fearful and long-continued storms.
Before we had fairly lost sight of the last point of land, the winds,
which were already raging with unusual violence, began to blow more
furiously. They fell on us in the most fearful blasts, and roared around
us in a deafening howl. The sea was thrown into the wildest uproar. The
vessel was tossed and tumbled about in the most merciless manner. One
moment she was plunging head foremost into the deep; the next she was
climbing the most stupendous waves. Now her right wheel was vainly
laboring deep in the water, while her left was spinning uselessly in the
air; then her right wheel was whirling in the air, while her left was
splurging in the deep. Sometimes the waves swept over the vessel, while
at other times they would strike her so rudely on the side, that she
staggered through all her timbers. After the storm had raged for two or
three days, there came what are called white squalls. A light grey cloud
appears in the distance, and as it approaches you, it sends forth
lightnings, accompanied with hurried bursts of thunder. A furious storm
of hail or snow immediately follows. The howl of the tempest rises to a
yell, and the squall, as it sweeps along in its fury, cuts off the tops
of the waves, and scatters them in foam over the surface of the deep
like a mantle of snow. The first of those squalls went right through our
large square sail, tearing it to shreds. Another sent a wave on board
which snapped in pieces stanchions of wrought iron thicker than my arms,
and carried away one of our best boats. And this unspeakable uproar of
the elements continued for several days. At times I crept on deck for a
few moments, and, holding by the rigging, gazed on the wild magnificence
of the appalling scene. And all this time my heart, instead of being
tortured with its customary fears, was full of a cheerful joyous
confidence. It was as if some spirit of heaven had taken possession of
my soul to give me sweet presentiments of the approach of better days.
And so perhaps it was. I was moving onwards, though I knew it not, to a
happier destiny, and the peace and joy I felt were as the dawn or
twilight of the coming day of my redemption.

We reached Liverpool at length, and I was soon at Betley, the native
place of my wife, which was to be my temporary home. And now, if I had
fallen into good hands, or if the better thoughts and tendencies of my
soul had been sufficiently strong, I might have entered at once on a
happier course. But I encountered an unlooked-for difficulty. As I have
said, my intention was, on landing in England, to begin a periodical,
and to keep apart from persons of extravagant views. I was not a
Christian, nor did I, at the time, suppose I should ever become one; but
I was an earnest moralist, and I had become more moderate in my ideas
both on religious and political subjects. And I was, to some extent,
prepared to receive fresh light. I had got an impression,--I had had it
for some time before I left America,--that my mind was not in a
thoroughly healthy state,--that it was not exactly itself,--that it was
so much biassed in favor of irreligion, that it was incapable of doing
justice to arguments for a God and Providence, for a spiritual world and
a future life. I partly believed, and now I know, that facts and
arguments in favor of the great fundamental doctrines of religion, did
not affect and influence me so much as they ought,--that my doubts and
disbeliefs were stronger than facts or the nature of things warranted. I
suspected, what now I regard as past doubt, that erroneous principles,
and a defective method of reasoning, and long practice in searching out
flaws in arguments, and detecting and exposing errors and pious frauds,
had disposed me too strongly to distrust and disbelief,--that I was in
fact a slave to bad habits of thought and reasoning, as really as the
inveterate drunkard is the slave to his irrational appetite for strong
drink. What I should believe in case the freedom of my mind and the just
and harmonious action of its powers were fully restored, I could not
tell; but I had a strong impression, amounting to something like an
assurance, that I should believe more than I did with respect to God and
a spiritual world. Had I, on arriving in England, found myself in
favorable circumstances, my mind might quickly have recovered its
freedom, and returned, in part at least, to the faith of its earlier
days. But this was not my lot. I was beset with new temptations, and was
doomed to further disappointments.

The Secularists had got out a prospectus of a new paper, and I was urged
to become one of the editors; and thinking that it would seem mean and
selfish to begin a paper of my own under such circumstances, I
reluctantly consented. I however stipulated for full control over one
half of the paper, and when I found that articles of a disgraceful and
mischievous tendency were published in the other half, I published a
special notice in mine, every week, that I was not answerable for those
articles.

In August 1860 my wife and children arrived in England. They were sorry
to find me in connection with that paper and with the party which it
represented; and they set themselves at once to work to bring about a
change; and it was not long before they succeeded. A book, written by a
leading Secularist, was sent to me for review. When I read it, I found
that its object was to undermine marriage and bring it into disrepute,
and to induce men and women to abandon honorable wedlock, and to
substitute for it unbounded sensual license. It was the filthiest, the
most horrible and revolting production I had ever read. This loathsome
book had already been advertised in the paper of which I was one of the
editors, and in the part of the paper over which I had no control, it
had been strongly recommended. I found, too, that it had been very
extensively circulated among the readers of the paper, and that the
Secularist leaders were adopting measures to promote its still more
extensive circulation. I at once exposed the villainous production in my
portion of the paper. As far as a respect for decency would permit, I
laid its loathsome and horrible abominations before my readers. This led
to an instant, a total, and final separation between me and the friends
of the licentious book.

I now commenced a Paper of my own, and I said to myself, and I said to
my children: "I will now re-read the Bible; I will examine Christianity;
I will review the history of the Church; I will examine the character
and workings of the various religious organizations of the day; and
whatever I find in them that is true or good, I will lay before my
readers. I am not a Christian," said I; "and I never expect to be one;
but I will do justice to the Christian cause to the best of my ability.
I have said and written enough on the skeptical side: I will see what
there is to be said on the Christian side."

I had no idea of the greatness of the task I was undertaking. I supposed
that ten or a dozen articles would be sufficient to set forth all that
was true and good in the Bible. But when I came to examine the Book,
with my somewhat altered views, and enlarged experience, and chastened
feelings, I found in it treasures of truth and goodness, of beauty and
blessedness, of which, even in my better days, I seemed to have had but
a very inadequate conception. I was touched with a hundred precepts of
mercy and tenderness in the laws of Moses. I was startled and delighted
with many Old Testament stories. The character of Job, as portrayed in
the twenty-ninth and thirty-first chapters of the book that goes under
his name, melted me to tears. I was delighted with the purity and
tenderness, the beauty and sublimity of the Psalms. I was amazed at the
depth and vastness of the wisdom of the Book of Proverbs. I was pleased
with the stern fidelity with which the prophets rebuked the vices and
the crimes, the selfishness and cruelty, of the sinners of their days,
and the tenderness and devotion with which they pleaded the cause of the
poor, the fatherless, and the widow. When I came to the Gospels, and
read again the wonderful story of the Man of Nazareth, my whole soul
gave way. The beauty, the tenderness, the glory of His character
overpowered me. I was ashamed, that I should ever have so fearfully
misconceived it, and done it such grievous injustice. The tears rolled
from my eyes, moistening the book in which I was reading, and the paper
on which I was writing. But I proceeded with my task. I pondered every
word He uttered, and was delighted with His glorious revelations of God,
and truth, and duty. I gazed on all His wondrous works. I marked, I
studied, every trait in his character. I read the sad story of His
trials. I traced him through all His sufferings. I saw the indignities
and cruelties to which He was subjected, and I saw the meekness, the
patience, and the fortitude with which He suffered. I saw Him on the
cross. I heard the prayer which He offered in the midst of His agonies
in behalf of His murderers, 'Father, forgive them; they know not what
they do.' And still I read, and still I gazed, and still I listened. I
was entranced. I had thought to stand at a distance; to look at Jesus
with the eye of a philosopher and moralist only, and calmly and coolly
to take His portrait; but I was overpowered. The strange, the touching
sight drew me nearer. The loving one got hold of me. His infinite
tenderness, His transcendent goodness, the glory of His whole character,
and life, and doctrine took me captive; and I was no way loth to be held
by such charms. He had won me entirely. I loved Him with all my heart
and soul. I was His,--His disciple, His servant, entirely, and forever.
And I wanted no other treasure but to share His love, and no other
employment but to share His work. I was, though but very imperfectly
enlightened on many things, and exceedingly weak and imperfect in many
respects, most blessedly and indissolubly wedded to Christ and His
cause.

I drew the portrait of the Saviour to the best of my ability, and sent
the articles to the press. It fell to the lot of my children, in
correcting the press, to read those articles. And when they read them,
they too wept, and one said to another, "Father is coming right; he will
be himself again by and by." And they were right in thinking so. I had
come in contact with the Great Healer. I had got a sight of One on whom
it is impossible to look steadfastly and long without experiencing a
thorough transformation of soul. And so it was with me. From my first
look I became less and less of a skeptic, and more and more of a
believer in Christianity, till my transformation was complete.

The more I read the Bible with my altered feelings and change of
purpose, the more was I impressed with its transcendent worth, and the
more was I influenced by its renovating power. I saw that whatever might
be said with regard to particular portions of the Book, it was, as a
whole, the grandest revelation of truth and duty that the mind of man
could conceive. I could no longer find in my heart to talk or write
about what appeared to be its imperfections. There were passages that
seemed dark or doubtful: there were some that seemed erroneous or
contradictory; but they amounted to nothing. They did not affect the
scope, the drift, the aim, the tendency of the Book as a whole. They
might not be consistent with certain erroneous theories of inspiration,
or with certain unguarded statements of extravagant theologians; but
they were consistent with the belief that the book, as a whole, was
worthy of the Great Good being from whom it was said to have come, and
adapted to the illumination and salvation of the race to which it had
been given. Christianity began to present itself to my mind as the
truest philosophy; as the perfection of all wisdom and goodness. While
it met man's spiritual wants, and cheered him with the promise of
eternal bliss, it was manifestly its tendency to promote his highest
interests even in the present world. As the clouds that had darkened my
mind passed away, it become plain as the light, that if mankind could be
brought to receive its teachings, and to live in accordance with its
principles, the world would become a paradise.

2. I reviewed Church History. While under the influence of
anti-Christian views and feelings, I had read the history of the Church
and Christianity with a view to justify my unbelief, rather than with a
desire to know the simple truth. I had looked more for facts which could
be used to damage the Church, than for fair full views of things. My
mind had dwelt particularly on the Church's quarrels, its divisions, its
intolerance, and its wars;--on the favor which the clergy had sometimes
shown to slavery and to despotism;--on their asceticisms, fanaticisms,
and follies; and on cases of fraud, and selfishness, and impurity. I had
read as an advocate retained to plead the cause of unbelief, rather than
as a candid judge, or an unbiassed student, anxious to know and teach
the whole truth. I was not conscious of my unfairness at the time, but I
now began to see that I had been influenced by my irreligious passions
and prejudices. I saw, on looking over my Guizot for instance, that I
had marked the passages which contained matters not creditable to the
clergy, and passed unnoticed those portions of the work which set forth
the services which the Church and Christianity had rendered to
civilization. I also remembered how eagerly I had swallowed the unfair
representations and fallacious reasonings of Buckle with regard to
Christianity and skepticism, and how impatiently I had hurried over what
reviewers friendly to Christianity said on the other side of the
subject. The balance of my mind was at length restored. I now saw that
Christianity had proved itself the friend of peace and freedom, of
learning and science, of trade and agriculture, of temperance and
purity, of justice and charity, of domestic comfort and national
prosperity. The history of Christianity was the history of our superior
laws, of our improved manners, of our beneficent institutions, of our
schools of learning, of our boundless wealth, of our constitutional
governments, of our unequalled literature, of our world-wide influence,
of our domestic happiness, and of all that goes to make up our highest
forms of civilization. Imperfectly as it had been understood, and
defectively as it had been reduced to practice, Christianity had placed
the nations of Europe at the head of the human race. Christian nations
were the most enlightened and virtuous, the most prosperous and
powerful, the most free and happy of all the nations of the earth. The
pious frauds, the intolerance and persecutions, the oppressions and
wrongs, the selfishness and sin, which were found in the history of the
Church, were not the effects of Christianity, but the effects of
passions and principles directly opposed to its spirit and teachings.

3. I looked at the Churches of the day. I found them all at work for the
education of the young, and for the instruction and salvation of the
world. I saw them building schools and chapels, and supplying them with
teachers and preachers. I saw them printing books, and tracts, and
Bibles, and spreading them abroad in all directions. I saw them founding
libraries and reading-rooms, and young men's Christian associations, and
ladies' sewing societies. I saw them sending out missionaries abroad,
and carrying on a multitude of beneficent operations at home. I asked
for the schools and libraries, the books and periodicals, the halls of
science and the missionary operations of the enemies of Christianity;
but they were nowhere to be found. They _talked_ about education, but
instructed no one. They talked about science, but did nothing for its
spread or its advancement. They abused Christians for neglecting men's
temporal interests, but did nothing to promote men's earthly happiness
themselves. They found fault with Sunday-schools, and talked of the
faults of Christians, but never corrected their own. They talked of
liberty, and practised tyranny. They complained of intolerance, yet
followed such as renounced their society, or questioned their views,
with the bitterest reproaches, and the most heartless persecution. They
talked of reform, but sowed the seeds of rebellion, anarchy, and
unbounded licentiousness.

The Christians had the advantage over their adversaries even in outward
appearance. They were cleaner and better clad, and were more orderly in
their deportment. There was quite a contrast between the crowds of
Christians that passed along the streets to their places of worship, and
the knots of Godless, Christless men who strolled along, or sat in their
doors, in their dirty clothes, with their unwashed faces, smoking their
pipes, or reading their filthy papers. There was a contrast between
Christian congregations and infidel meetings. One had the appearance of
purity and elevation; while the other had the stamp of pollution and
degradation. Irreligion seemed the nurse of coarseness and barbarism.
Some of the secularists actually argued against civilization, as
Rousseau had done before them. One of them reprinted Burke's ironical
work in favor of the savage state, and sent it to me for review, and was
greatly offended because I refused to recommend it as a sober, serious,
philosophical treatise to my readers.

It was plain that there was something wrong in infidelity; that its
tendency was to vice and depravity; while Christianity, whether it was
divine in its origin or not, was evidently the friend and benefactor of
our race.

In 1862, some friends of mine at Burnley, who had built a public hall
there, engaged me as their lecturer. The parties were unbelievers, but
they were opposed to the advocates of unbounded license. They were
favorable to morality, and wished to have an association that should
embody what they thought good in the Church, without being decidedly
religious. They wished to have music and singing at the Sunday meetings,
and to limit public discussion to the week-night meetings. They also
wished to have Sunday-schools, day-schools, reading-rooms, and
libraries. We had come to the conclusion that the Christians were right
on the whole in their way of conducting their public meetings, and we
were resolved to imitate them as far as we honestly could. And here I
lived and labored for more than a year. We did not succeed however so
well as we had expected. Our singers, and musicians, and Sunday-school
teachers had no high and powerful motive to keep them regularly at their
posts, so that whenever a strong temptation came to lure them away, they
ran from their tasks, and left me and another or two to toil alone. We
then formed a Church, and made laws, thinking to keep our associates to
their duty in that way. But this made matters worse. Their fancies and
pleasures were their laws, and they would obey no other. Most of our
teachers left, and I and a friend or two had to teach the school
ourselves. My friends established a day-school, and hired a teacher; but
he turned out to be an unbounded license man; he brought with him, in
fact, an unmarried woman instead of his wife, and they found it
necessary to get rid of him as soon as they could.

All the time I was at Burnley my heart first, and then my head, were
coming nearer and nearer to Christ and Christianity. I gradually gave up
my opposition both to religion and to the churches. The last lecture in
which I gave utterance to anything unfavorable to the Bible was one on
Noah's flood. I spoke on the subject by request, and against my
inclination, and before I had got half through I began to feel
unutterably dissatisfied with myself. I was really unhappy. From that
time forward I dwelt chiefly on moral subjects, and often took occasion
to speak favorably of the Bible and Christianity. I tried to explain
what was dark, and to set forth what was manifestly true and good in
their teachings.

I lectured on the wisdom of the Book of Proverbs, on the beauty of
Christ's character, and on the excellency of many of His doctrines, on
the advantages of faith in Christ, and on the follies and vices of
infidel secularism, and on quite a number of other Christian subjects.

My younger son came to reside at Burnley while I was there, and we had
frequent talks as we walked together along the fields and lanes, and
over the neighboring hills; and this also helped to bring me nearer to
Christ and His Church. I read the works of Epictetus at this time, and
my faith in God and immortality, and my love of virtue too, were
strengthened by his reasonings.

About the same time a person wrote to me to go and lecture at Goole. I
went. No subject had been named to me, and I resolved to speak in favor
of the leading practical principles of Christianity. When I got to
Goole, I found that the man who had invited me had put up a bill,
calling on his neighbors and fellow-townsmen to come and hear the
triumphant opponent of Christianity demolish their religion. I told him
he should not have put forth a bill like that,--that I was not an
opponent of Christianity,--that I was not an enemy of the
churches,--that I had no desire to demolish religion,--that I wished to
bring people to cherish and practise the leading principles of
Christianity. This rather puzzled and distressed him; but
notwithstanding his disappointment, he would have me lecture. The
meeting was out of doors. I soon had a large audience. I quickly
undeceived such as had come expecting to hear me vilify the Bible, the
churches, or religion. I spoke in the highest terms of Christ and His
teachings. I showed that many of them were the perfection of wisdom and
goodness. I spoke of the causes of human wretchedness, and showed that
obedience to the teachings of Christ and His Apostles would remove them
all. Many things that I said, and especially some remarks I made on
domestic duties and domestic happiness, went home to the hearts of my
hearers. Not a murmur was heard from any quarter. Men nudged each other,
and women looked in each others' faces, and all gave signs that they
felt the truth of my remarks, and the wisdom of my counsels, and the
meeting ended as satisfactorily as could be desired.

It was while I was living at Burnley that I began again to pray. A young
atheist died, and I was invited to his funeral, and requested to speak
at his grave. When we got to the cemetery the little chapel was occupied
by another company, and we had to wait some time for our turn. My mind
was in a sad and solemn mood, and I left my party and wandered to the
farther end of the cemetery. It was a bright and beautiful day in April.
The grass was springing fresh and green, and the hawthorn buds were
opening, and everything seemed full of life, and big with promise. The
sun was shining in all his glory. The thrushes and the blackbirds were
singing in the surrounding groves and thickets, and the larks were
pouring forth their melody in the air. Yet all was dark and sorrowful
within. I felt the misery of unbelief, yet felt myself unable to free
myself from its horrible and tormenting power. I had a growing
conviction that I was the slave of a vicious method of reasoning, and of
an inveterate habit of unreasonable or excessive doubt, and that I had
not the power to do God and Christianity justice. I felt as if I ought
to pray, but something whispered, "It is irrational." No matter, I could
refrain no longer: and lifting up my tearful eyes to heaven I exclaimed,
"God help me." He did help me. He strengthened my struggling soul from
that hour, and gave to the good within me a growing power over the evil.
I dried my tears and returned to my party. I spoke at the poor young
Atheist's grave, and concluded my address with the following prayer,
"May trust in God, and the hope of a better life, and the love of truth
and virtue, and delight in doing good, remain with all who have them,
and come to all who have them not. Amen."

The gentleman with whom I had lived at Burnley had said to me on the
morning of that very day, that if I prayed at the funeral he should
never think well of me more. He afterwards said, when he heard of the
prayer I had offered, he had no objection to a prayer like that. He was
not aware of the shorter prayer that I had offered when alone, or he
would have spoken probably in another strain. He was dreadfully opposed
to religion, and very uneasy when he saw me moving in the direction of
Christianity.

Among the friends who left the church on account of my expulsion, was
Samuel Methley, of Mirfield, near Huddersfield. He was rather eccentric
in some respects; but he was an honest, earnest, kind, and Christian
man. He had had little or no school instruction, and he had nothing that
could be called learning, or high intellectual culture; but he was a man
of great faith, of much love, and much prayer. His affection and
reverence for me were almost unbounded, and so long as I continued a
believer in Christ, he was ready to go with me any lengths in
Evangelical reform. When I ran into politics he was somewhat staggered,
but followed me as far as he durst. When I began to be skeptical he
stood still, afraid, and very unhappy. On one occasion he ventured to
rebuke me; but I knew that the rebuke was the offspring of affection,
and I took it quietly. When I went to America he was greatly distressed,
and prayed for me most anxiously and earnestly. When he found I had
become an unbeliever, he resolved never to go near a meeting of mine
again, and prayed to God to help him to keep his resolution. For many
years he tried to wean himself from me, to extinguish his passionate
regard for me; but whenever he found that I was to lecture in his
neighborhood, he lost his self-control, and came, though with
reluctance, and many misgivings, to my meetings. He generally rose after
my lectures, to protest against my extravagances, and to testify his
uncontrollable affection for me, and his anxious desire for my
salvation. To do otherwise than take his remarks in good part was
impossible. Poor, dear, good man! I little thought at the time how much
distress and pain I was causing him. When he found that I was coming
back to Christ, he was joyful beyond measure. When he heard me preach on
true religion, he was in transports. At a meeting that followed, he
spoke with so much feeling and fervor, that I was obliged to try to
check him a little, for fear the violence of his excitement should
injure his feeble and failing health. My conversion, though but partial
then, gave him the utmost delight.

At length his feeble frame gave way, and he sank into his bed to rise no
more. He sent me word that he was very desirous to see me, and I visited
him without delay. He was very ill. His voice was almost gone, and he
spoke with great difficulty. He told me he wished me, when he was gone,
to preach his funeral sermon, and write his epitaph, and take charge of
a manuscript containing the story of his life. I told him I would do so.
He then spoke of his trust in God, his love of Christ, and his hopes of
a blessed immortality, while tears of joy stood glistening in his eyes.
He then referred to some matters that had tried him sadly, but added: "I
have cast my care on God." He tried to speak of his feelings towards me,
but said: "Those papers (referring to the story of his life) will tell
you all." At last he said: "Pray with me, Joseph." I had not prayed with
any one for many years, but I said at once: "I will, Sammy;" and I fell
on my knees, and prayed by his side. He then, weak as he was, prayed
earnestly for me, and for my wife and family.

He died a few weeks after. I preached his funeral sermon on the
following Sunday, in May, 1863, in a field near the house in which he
had lived and died, from the text: "Let me die the death of the
righteous, and let my last end be like his." There was an immense
congregation, consisting of people of all denominations, both infidel
and Christian, from every part of the surrounding district. When
speaking of his conduct in clinging to the religion of Christ, instead
of following me into the regions of doubt and unbelief, I declared my
conviction that he had done right. "He had read little," said I, "and I
had read much: yet he was the wiser man of the two. His good religious
instincts and feelings kept him right, and kept him happy in the warmth
and sunlight of the religion of Christ; while my vain reasonings carried
me astray into the dark and chilling regions of eternal cold and utter
desolation. There is a seeming wisdom that is foolishness; and there is
a childlike, artless simplicity of faith, which, while it is regarded as
foolishness by many, is in truth the perfection of wisdom. There are
things which are hid from the wise and prudent, that are revealed to
babes. And Jesus was right, when, addressing the self-conceited
skeptical critics of His day, He said: 'Except ye be converted and
become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.' My
dear departed friend, when trusting in God as his Father, and in Christ
as his Saviour, and living a godly life, was right, while I, in
distrusting the promptings of my religious instincts and affections, and
committing myself to the reasonings of a cold and heartless logic, was
wrong. The new-born babe, that rests untroubled in its mother's arms,
and, without misgiving, sucks from her breast the milk so wonderfully
provided for it, does the best and wisest thing conceivable. In obeying
its instincts, it obeys the great good Author of its being, and lives.
If--to suppose what is happily an impossibility--if the child should
discard its instincts, and refuse to trust its mother, till it had
logical proof of her trustworthiness; and, distrusting its natural
cravings, should refuse to take the nutriment provided for it, till it
could ascertain by chemical analysis and physiological investigation,
that it was just the kind of food which it required, it would die. My
departed friend was the happy, confiding child, and saved his soul
alive; while I was the analytical and logical doubter, and all but
starved my miserable soul to death. Thank God, I have lived to see my
error. The loving, trusting Christian is right. The religion of Jesus is
substantially true and divine; and, thus far, I declare myself a
Christian."

It was a beautiful, summer-like day. The sun shone brightly, and the
winds were low, and the vast congregation was orderly and attentive, and
many were much affected. The report that I had declared myself a
Christian, without any qualification annexed, got into the papers, and
ran through the country. To many it gave the greatest satisfaction.
Good, kind Christians came round me wherever I went, testifying their
delight and gratitude. Some wept for joy. Unbelievers were greatly
annoyed at the tidings of my conversion, and some of them came and
entreated me to give the report a public contradiction. This I refused
to do. True, the papers said somewhat more than I had said; but the
statement they gave was true in substance, so I let it pass, and the
growing change for the better in my views and feelings soon made it true
in form.



CHAPTER XVIII.

PARTIES WHO CONTRIBUTED TOWARDS MY RETURN TO CHRIST.


After I fell into doubt and unbelief, the Church, and the ministry
generally, appeared to look on me as irretrievably lost. The great mass
of them made no attempt for my recovery. How much they cared for my soul
I do not know; but for nearly twenty years they left me to wander as a
sheep that had no shepherd. Many of them spoke against me, and wrote
against me, and some of them even met me in public discussion; but they
never approached me in the spirit of gentleness and love, to try to win
me back to Christ, and bring me once more into His Church. Some of them
treated me with grievous injustice. As I have said some pages back, one
minister made himself most odious to me and my friends, and did
something towards increasing our antipathy to the religion which he so
grossly dishonored, by his unjust and hateful doings. It is bad for
Christianity when men like these are put forward as its advocates. No
open enemies can do it so much injury as such unworthy friends.

There were others, however, who took a more Christian course, and if
they did not succeed in at once reclaiming me from my melancholy
delusions, they produced a happy effect on my mind, which helped to
bring about, in the end, my return to the Christian faith.

1. There was one man, a minister, who, though he wrote against some of
my views, always treated me with respect. He never gave me offensive
names, nor charged me with unworthy motives, nor treated me with
affected contempt. He regarded me simply as an erring brother, and
strove, with genuine Christian affection, to bring me back to what he
regarded as the truth. He died before my restoration to the Church, but
his labors on my behalf were not in vain.

2. A kind-hearted layman once sent me a book--"_The Philosophy of the
Plan of Salvation_,"--accompanied with a short, but affectionate letter.
The book did not convert me, but the kindness of the friend that sent it
had a happy effect. Though beyond the reach of logic, I was within the
reach of love.

3. The _Author_ of "_The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation_" was Mr.
Walker, a minister of Mansfield, Ohio. While in America I gave a course
of lectures in that town on the Bible. The friend at whose house I was
staying took me to see Mr. Walker, who received me with great kindness,
invited me to dine with him, and conversed with me in a truly Christian
manner. He even came to one of my lectures, in hopes of helping me over
the difficulties which blocked my way to the faith of Christ. I did not,
however, treat him with the kind and considerate tenderness with which
he had treated me. I was under unhappy influences, and I spoke on the
Bible in such a manner as to try him past endurance, and he left me that
night with very painful feelings, regarding me, probably, as lost past
hope. Should he read this work, it may give him satisfaction to know,
that his kindness, and his work on Christ as a revelation of the Eternal
Father, had a part in helping me back to the religion of Christ.

4. Five years ago last December, Mr. John Mawson, Sheriff of
Newcastle-on-Tyne, was killed on the Town Moor by a terrible explosion
of nitro-glycerine. I had been acquainted with him more than
five-and-twenty years. He joined the church at Newcastle, of which I was
a minister, and remained my friend to the last. He had his doubts on
certain points of theology, but he never lost his faith in the great
principles of Christianity. When I was over from America once, I spent
some time in his company, and we had frequent conversations on religion.
"It seems to me," said he, "that we ought to put some trust in our
_hearts_. My head has often tempted me to doubt; but my heart has always
clung to God and immortality. It does so still; and I believe it is
right. Indeed, I have no doubt of it." I remembered his words. They led
me to study the moral and spiritual instincts of my nature more
thoroughly than I had done before. They led me to study the subject of
instinct and natural affection generally. _My_ instincts, like the
instincts of my friend, had always clung to God and a future life, and
to the principles of religion and virtue, even when reason hesitated and
doubted most. I had never given up my belief in any of the great
doctrines of Christianity without a painful struggle. But I had been led
to think it my duty, when there was a conflict between my head and my
heart, to take part with my head. My heart, for instance, would say,
"Pray;" but reason, or something in the garb of reason, would say,
"Don't. If what you desire is good, God will give it you, whether you
pray for it or not; and if it be evil, He will withhold it, pray as you
may. Prayer may move a man like yourself; but it cannot move God." And I
hearkened to the seeming reason, and gave up prayer. My heart said,
"There is a personal, conscious, all-perfect God." My head, or my
infidel philosophy said, "There cannot be such a God. A God all-powerful
could prevent evil. A God all-good _would_ prevent it. God cannot
therefore be a conscious, personal, all-perfect being. He must be a
blind, unconscious power; the sum total of natural tendencies, working
according to the eternal properties of things, without the possibility
of change; and hence the existence of evil, and the prevalence of
eternal, unalterable law." And here again my head was permitted to
prevail, and my heart, in spite of all its remonstrances, was compelled
to give way. And with a personal, conscious, all-perfect God, went the
richest treasures of the human heart,--trust in a Fatherly Providence;
the hope of a blessed immortality, and faith in the ultimate triumph of
truth and justice, and all assurance of human progress and a good time
coming.

Yet I was obliged, in spite of the false philosophical principle I had
adopted, to accept the oracles of my heart on many points, and to reject
the logic of my head. My heart said, "Speak the truth; to lie is wrong."
But now that it had got rid of a personal God, logic said, "There can be
nothing wrong in a lie that hurts no one. There is something commendable
in a useful, serviceable lie. To lie to save a person from danger or
destruction is a virtue. The feeling which shrinks from such a lie is a
blind, irrational prejudice, and should be plucked up and cast out of
the soul. Truth may be proper enough in the _strong_: but _deceit_ is
the wisdom of the _weak_." But in this case my heart, my instinctive
love of truth, prevailed.

Again, my heart pleaded for justice and mercy; for _justice_ to all; and
for _mercy_ to the needy and helpless. But reason, or the heartless and
godless philosophy that usurped its name, said, "Utility is the supreme
law; the only law of man. Justice and mercy are right when they are
useful; but when they are hurtful they are right no longer. If by
destroying the helpless and the needy we can deliver them from their
misery, and increase the happiness of the rest of our race, their
destruction is a virtue, especially if we dispose of them in a quiet and
painless way, so as to spare them the fears and agonies of death!" But
here again my heart prevailed. My natural, unreasoning, instinctive
horror of injustice and murder rendered the specious pleadings of
Atheistic utilitarianism powerless. And so on moral matters generally.

As a rule, Atheists succeed, in course of time, in vanquishing and
destroying their moral as well as their religious instincts, and then
they embrace the most revolting doctrines, and reconcile themselves to
the most appalling deeds. They look on marriage as irrational, and
regard modesty and chastity as vices. Shame is a weakness in their eyes,
and natural affections are irrational prejudices. Scruples against
lying, theft and murder, when any great good is to be gained by those
practices, are insanity. Gratitude, even to parents, is an absurdity.
Free indulgence, unlimited license, is a virtue. The curse of our race
is religion. The one great social evil is a surplus population; and the
prevention or destruction of children is the sum of social science and
virtue. The extinction of the weaker races, and the destruction of those
of every race who cannot contribute their share of wealth and pleasure
to the common stock, is the perfection of philosophy. In short, all the
old-fashioned principles of virtue, honor, conscience, generosity,
self-restraint, self-sacrifice, and natural affection are exploded, and
in their place there comes a black and hideous chaos of all indecencies
and immoralities, a boundless and bottomless abyss of all imaginable
and unspeakable horrors. I shudder when I think how near I came to this
hell of atheistical philosophy. My inability entirely to extinguish my
better instincts and affections, prevented me from plunging headlong
into its frightful depths. It was more than I could do to carry out the
atheistical principles of mere theoretical reasoning to its last
results. I was, thank God, on some points, always inconsistent, and my
inconsistency was my salvation. My heart preserved me in spite of my
head.

But if I could not carry out my principle of trusting to mere reasoning
to its full extent, why did I act on it at all? When I found that it led
to utter degradation and ruin, why did I not renounce it, and trust once
more in my native instincts? When I found myself obliged to follow my
heart in so many matters, why not follow it in all? I answer, I had not
a sufficient understanding of the matter. I wanted more light. But the
course of study on which the remarks of my dear good friend Mr. Mawson
led me to enter, led to clearer and correcter views on the subject. It
led to the conviction that instinct and natural affection are divine
inspirations,--that the beliefs and practices to which they constrain us
are the perfection of wisdom and goodness,--that to set them aside is
inevitable ruin,--that whenever reason says one thing, and our religious
and moral affections and instincts say another, we ought to turn a deaf
ear to reason, and follow implicitly the dictates of our moral and
religious faculties. And to this conviction, resulting in a great
measure from the remarks of my faithful and devoted friend, I owe, in
part, my present unspeakable happiness as a believer in Christ.

5. I encountered two Christian men in public discussion who left a
favorable impression on my mind. One was the Rev. Andrew Loose, of
Winchester, Indiana. The subject of discussion between me and Mr. Loose
was the divine authority of the Bible. He went through the whole debate,
which lasted several days, without uttering one uncharitable, scornful,
or angry word, with the exception of a single phrase in his last speech;
and even that he meekly and generously recalled, after I had satisfied
him of its impropriety. I never forgot the conduct of that dear good
man, and his Christian meekness and forbearance had a good effect on my
heart.

6. The other gentleman whose conduct left the most favorable impression
of all on my mind, was Colonel Shaw, of Bourtree Park, Ayr, Scotland, of
whose gentlemanly behavior and great Christian kindness I have already
spoken.

7. There were some other persons who, without assailing me with
argument, did me considerable good. After lecturing at Burnley once, a
person rose to oppose me, and a great disturbance followed. I was thrown
from the platform, and fell backward on the floor, and a crowd of
persons fell upon me, and I had a narrow escape from death by violence
and suffocation. I was rescued however alive. In the tumult my overcoat,
my hat, and my watch disappeared, and my body was somewhat bruised. Next
day a gentleman who had heard of the way in which I had been treated,
came to my lodgings to see me. He seemed very much distressed on my
account, and anxious, if possible, to do something which might minister
comfort to my mind. His name was Philips. He was a Methodist, and the
son of a Methodist preacher. His kindness and sympathy were so genuine
and so earnest, that they made a deep impression on my mind, and they
naturally recur to my memory when I think of the friends whose influence
helped to reclaim me from the miseries of doubt and unbelief.

8. About thirteen years ago I lectured at Bacup. The Rev. T. Lawson,
Congregational minister of Bacup, attended my lectures, and came and
spoke to me afterwards, and invited me to call and see him, and dine
with him. I went, and we had a lengthened conversation on matters
pertaining to religion and the Church. My host exhibited a remarkable
amount of Christian charity and true liberality of sentiment. He had
been a reader of mine in his earlier days, when I was an advocate of
Evangelical reform, and he spoke of himself as my debtor; and he was
desirous, if possible, of repaying the debt, by smoothing the way for my
return to Christianity. Mrs. Lawson sat and listened to our conversation
in silence; but when I rose to take my leave, she bade me good-bye with
most unmistakable evidences of interest in my welfare, and said, as she
held me by the hand, "I hope we shall meet you in heaven." I had one or
two other interviews with Mr. Lawson at a somewhat later period, and all
are to be placed among the means by which I was brought to my present
happy position.

9. Some nineteen years ago I had a public discussion with the Rev.
Charles Williams, Baptist minister, of Accrington. It was a very
unpleasant affair. I was much exhausted at the time with over much work,
and with long-continued and painful excitement caused by a very
unpleasant piece of business which I had in hand; and I did what I
honorably could to avoid the discussion. My friends, however, would have
no nay, and I reluctantly, and in anything but an amiable temper, made
my appearance at the time appointed on the platform. How far the blame
was chargeable on me, or how far it was chargeable on others, I do not
know; but the first night's meeting was a very disagreeable one. I
thought myself in the right at the time, but I fancy my unhappy state of
mind must have rendered me very provoking, and at the same time blinded
me to the real character of my proceedings. On the following night the
discussion went on more smoothly, and it ended better than it began. I
was constrained to regard Mr. Williams as an able and good man. I met
him occasionally after my separation from the Secularists, and his
behaviour and spirit deepened the favorable impression of his character
already made on my mind. While I was at Burnley he delivered a lecture
in that town on Bishop Colenso's work on the Pentateuch. I was present.
When he had done, he invited me in the kindest way imaginable to speak.
I had heard next to nothing in the lecture to which I could object, but
much that I could heartily approve and applaud. To all that he had said
in praise of the Bible I could subscribe most heartily. Indeed I felt
that the Bible was worthy of more and higher praise than he had bestowed
on it, and I expressed myself to that effect. The meeting altogether was
a very pleasant one, except to a number of unbelievers, who were
dreadfully vexed at my remarks in commendation of the Bible. I saw Mr.
Williams repeatedly afterwards, and his kind and interesting
conversation, and his very gentlemanly and Christian demeanor, had
always a beneficial effect on my mind.

10. One of the first to express a conviction that I should become a
Christian was an American lady, whom I sometimes saw in London. She had
herself been an unbeliever, but had been cured of her skepticism by
spiritualism. She was then a Catholic. She gave me a medal of the Virgin
Mary, and entreated me to wear it round my neck. To please her I
promised to do so. But the medal disappeared before long, and what
became of it I never could tell; but my friend had the satisfaction to
see her prophecy fulfilled in my happy return to Christianity.

11. An acquaintance which I formed with the Rev. W. Newton, of
Newcastle-on-Tyne, must also be reckoned among the things which exerted
an influence on my mind favorable to Christianity. Mr. Newton had been a
Baptist in his earlier days, but getting into perplexity with regard to
certain doctrines, he became a Unitarian. He came to feel however, in
course of time, that something more than Unitarianism was necessary to
the satisfaction of his soul, and to the salvation of the world; and at
the time that I became acquainted with him, he had made up his mind to
leave the Unitarians. On my way to the far-off regions of unbelief, I
had passed through the Unitarian territory; and I passed through the
same territory, or near to its border, on my return to Christianity; and
had it not been for my interviews with Mr. Newton, and a somewhat
startling event or two that occurred about that period, I might have
lingered for a time in that cold and hungry land. Mr. Newton helped to
quicken my steps, and I moved onward, and rested not, till I found my
way back to the paradise, or a garden that very much resembled the
paradise, of my earlier days.

12. Mr. J. Potts, like Mr. J. Mawson, without following me into the
extremes of doubt, retained his friendship for me through all my
wanderings, and never neglected any opportunity he had of showing me
kindness. And others, whom I cannot take the liberty to name, evinced
the same unfailing constancy of esteem and love. And the unbroken
connexion that remained between my enduring friends and their amiable
families and myself, added to the attractions Christ-ward, and made it
easier for my soul to return at last to its home of peace and rest.

13. Between thirteen and fourteen years ago, while living in London, I
became acquainted with Mr. W. White. He had been reared a Quaker, but,
like most hard thinkers, had had experience of doubt, and was, in
consequence, after his faith was re-established, able to strengthen his
doubting brethren. He contributed to my conversion, first by his
enlightened conversation, and then by a long, kind, Christian letter on
the Bible, by which he helped me over a number of difficulties which
stood in the way of my faith.

14. But perhaps none of the parties I have named, had a more powerful
and beneficial effect on my mind than one whom I have not yet mentioned.
If I had been asked thirteen years ago, whether I supposed there was any
minister in the Methodist New Connexion who regarded me with
affectionate solicitude, and who was wishful for an opportunity to speak
to me words of love and tenderness, I should have answered, "No." If any
one had told me that there really was one of my old associates, with
whom I had formerly had warm controversy, not only on matters
theological, but on matters personal, who had been watching my career
for years, with the deepest interest, and who for months and years had
been earnestly praying for me every day, he would have seemed to me as
one amusing himself with fables. Yet such was really the case.

With no one had I come in closer contact perhaps, or in more frequent
and violent collision, than with the Rev. W. Cooke, now Dr. Cooke. He
had taken the lead in the proceedings against me in the Ashton
Conference, on account of my article on _Toleration, Human Creeds, &c._,
proceedings which had a most unhappy effect on my mind, and which led,
at length, to my separation from the Church, and to my alienation from
Christ. He had taken an active part in the violent controversies which
followed my expulsion from the ministry. We had, at a later period,
spent ten nights in public discussion on the leading doctrines of
Christianity. He had, in the performance of what he considered his duty
I suppose in my case, said things which had tried me terribly; and I,
with ideas of duty differing from his, had made him very liberal
returns, in a way not calculated to leave the most favorable or
comfortable impressions on his mind towards me. I had never seen him
since our long discussion but once, and then he seemed, to my fancy, to
be struggling with an inward tempest of very unhappy feeling towards me,
which he was hardly able to keep from exploding. I afterwards found
though, that I had not interpreted his looks on this occasion correctly.
At the time when I took my leave of the Secularists, my unpleasant
feelings towards my old opponent had about subsided; but I had no idea
that his unpleasant feelings towards me had passed away. Yet such was
the case. He had been reading my periodical for some time, and had been
pleased to find that both on religion and politics, I was returning,
though slowly, to the views of my happier days. Some time in August,
1862, he called at my office in London, with a parcel of books under his
arm. He had been praying for me daily for twelve months, when something
seemed to say to him, "You should do something more than pray." And now
he had come to try what he could do by a personal interview to aid the
wanderer's return to Christ. I was from home at the time, but my eldest
son was in the office, and he and the Doctor were at once engaged in
friendly conversation. "How like you are to what your father was four
and thirty years ago, when I first knew him," said the Doctor. "Your
father and I were great friends. It was your father that first directed
me to the study of Latin and Greek, which have been of great service to
me; and I feel indebted to him on that account. We were afterwards
separated. But I have observed, as I think, symptoms that your father is
returning towards his former views." And many other kind remarks he
made. At length he said, "Do you think your father would accept a copy
of my works?" My son, who knew the state of his father's mind, answered;
"I am sure he would, with great pleasure." The Doctor left copies of his
works, kindly inscribed to me with his own hand; and with the books, he
left for me a kind and Christian letter. My son lost no time in
forwarding me the letter, together with an account of the pleasant and
unlooked-for interview which he had had with the writer. I received the
letter, and the interesting story with which it was accompanied, with
the greatest astonishment and pleasure. I wrote to the Doctor,
reciprocating his expressions of kindness, and making the best returns I
could for the valuable present of his works. The result was a
correspondence, which has continued to the present time. The
correspondence led to interviews, in which the Doctor exhibited, in a
very striking manner, the graces and virtues that adorn the Christian
character. We talked, we read, we sang, we prayed together, and gave God
thanks, with tears of gratitude, for all the blessings of His boundless
love.

The effect of this kindness on the part of Dr. Cooke was, not only to
free my mind from any remains of hurtful feelings towards him, but to
dispose me, and enable me, to review the claims of Christianity and the
Bible in a spirit of greater fairness and candor, and so to make it
possible for me to become, what I had long believed I never could
become, a hearty believer in the religion of Christ.



CHAPTER XIX.

SOME OF THE STEPS BY WHICH I CAME TO FAITH IN CHRIST.


I am not certain that I can state the exact process by which I passed
from doubt and unbelief to faith in Christ, but the following, I
believe, is very near the truth.

1. There was, first, a sense of the cheerlessness of unbelief--the
sadness and the sorrow resulting from the loss of trust in God and hope
of immortality, and from the wretched prospect of a return to utter
nothingness.

2. Then came the distressing feeling of inability to comfort my
afflicted or dying friends--my utter helplessness in the presence of
sorrow, grief and agony.

3. And then I found myself unable to account for the wonderful marks of
design appearing in nature, and especially in my own body, without the
acknowledgment of an intelligent Deity. The wonderful perfection and
beauty of a flower or a feather would confound me; while mysterious
adaptations in my own frame would fill me with amazement. Darwin's
theory of development relieved me for a time; but I soon came to see
that some of his explanations of natural phenomena were erroneous, and
that none of his facts proved the truth of his theory. Still later I
found that Darwin himself acknowledged that the evidences of design in
the methods by which certain species of plants were fertilized, were not
only overpowering, but startling.

4. Then came dissatisfaction with the theories by which unbelievers
sought to account for the existence and order of the universe. They
supposed the universe to be eternal, and attributed the production of
plants, and animals, and man to the blind unconscious working of
lifeless matter. They attributed to dead matter the powers which
believers attributed to a living God. They were obliged to believe that
senseless atoms could produce works transcending the powers of the
mightiest minds on earth. To reconcile their belief in the eternity of
the universe, and in the unchanging properties of matter, with the
phenomena of change and progress, they supposed an infinite succession
of worlds, or of beginnings and endings of the same world, and imagined
the earth running exactly the same course, and having exactly the same
history, every time it came into existence. Hence it became with them an
article of faith, that we had ourselves lived an infinite number of
times, and should live an infinite number of times more in the future,
repeating always exactly the same life, with exactly the same results.
It was also an article of faith that we were mere machines, governed by
powers over which we had no control; that our ideas of liberty, and our
feelings of responsibility, or of good and ill desert, were all
delusions; that all the errors, and crimes, and miseries of our race
were inevitable, and were to be eternally repeated; and that a change
for the better was eternally impossible. But time would fail me to
mention all their theories. It is enough to say that the wild and
unsatisfactory nature of these dreams helped to drive me back to
Christianity.

5. There was, of course, no tendency in unbelief to promote virtue, or
to check vice. Its natural tendency was to utter depravity. And
Christianity retained such an influence over me, even to the last, that
I could never reconcile myself to a vicious life.

6. Then came another trouble. Infidelity could give no guarantee that
wrong should not finally triumph, and right be finally crushed. It is
belief in God alone that can give assurance that virtue shall be
ultimately rewarded, and vice ultimately punished. The Christian can
believe past doubt, that "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also
reap;" that "with what judgment we judge, we shall be judged; and with
what measure we mete, it shall be measured to us again." But the infidel
has no foundation for such a faith. For anything he knows, a man may sow
villany, and reap honor and blessedness. He may live by injustice and
cruelty, and meet with no punishment, either here or hereafter; while
another may spend his days in doing good, and give his life for the
salvation of his fellows, and receive only torture, reproach, and death.

Nor is there any security for the triumph of truth on the infidel
principle. For anything infidelity knows, truth may be always in the
mire, and its friends be forever reproached and shunned; while error may
always be in the ascendant, and its propagators honored and rewarded.
Indeed this is the case at present, if infidelity be true. For
infidelity is in the dust, while faith in God and Christ is in high
repute. And infidels are suspected and dreaded, while consistent
believers are loved and trusted. Faith smoothes man's way through life,
and in some cases raises him to honor and power; while Atheism makes a
man's pathway rugged, and prevents his elevation. This state of things
is exceedingly unsatisfactory to unbelievers. They ought, if they are
the wisest of men, as they suppose, to be everywhere received with
honor. They ought to be placed in power. The world should ring with
their praise. The universe should enrich them with its treasures. The
names of their predecessors in unbelief should be had in the greatest
honor. They should stand first on the roll of fame. Their monuments
should fill the earth. The sweetest poets should sing their praises;
the most eloquent orators should proclaim their greatness; and the
nations should delight to celebrate their worth. Their pictures and
statues should grace our courts, our temples, and our palaces. Their
deeds should form the staple of our pleasant histories, and their
writings crowd the shelves of our libraries. Children should be taught
to lisp their names with reverence, and the aged should bless them with
their parting breath.

On the other hand, if religion be false and foolish, if it be unnatural
and mischievous, its friends should be pitied or despised, if not
rebuked and punished. Its founders and propagators should be branded as
the weakest or the basest of men. Their names should be had in contempt
or abhorrence. Their writings should be everywhere decried. Their
pictures and statues should fill some chamber of horrors. Historians,
poets, and orators should hold them up to reprobation. Christians should
be kept from places of trust, and from posts of honor. They should be
wretched, and poor, and miserable, and the hearts of men, and the powers
of nature, should combine for their destruction, and for the utter
extinction of their cause.

Yet the state of things is just the contrary. Christianity triumphs, and
Christians are honored; while infidelity languishes, and its disciples
are covered with shame. On the Atheist's theory the human race has
existed for millions of years, yet it has never produced more than a few
individuals who have acknowledged the principle of his creed. The mass
of men, in all ages, have been believers in God. The civilized as well
as the savage, the learned as well as the ignorant, the high as well as
the low, alike have adored a Deity. Even the greatest of our race have
been believers. The sweetest poets, the profoundest philosophers, the
greatest statesmen, the wisest legislators, the most venerable judges,
the most devoted philanthropists, have all believed in God. Two or three
tribes have been found, it is said, without an idea of God; but they
were savages of the lowest grade; and it is not yet settled whether the
accounts that have been given of those wretched creatures be correct or
not.

And Atheism has always been regarded with horror. It is so still. It is
believed to be the nurse of vice and crime. Atheists are everywhere
looked upon with suspicion and dread. The prevailing impression is that
they are bad and dangerous men,--that no reliance is to be placed on
their word,--that they are naturally licentious, dishonest, deceitful,
cruel,--that they are prepared for any enormity,--that they are enemies
to domestic purity and civil order, and that no one is safe in their
power. If ever they were regarded by mankind with favor, the time is
forgotten. There is not a nation on earth in which they are popular now.
They are everywhere branded as infamous.

If Atheists have always been so bad as to _deserve_ this fate, their
principles must be bad. If they have deserved a better fate,--if they
have been pure, and just, and true,--if they have been remarkable for
generosity, patriotism, and philanthropy,--if they have distinguished
themselves as the friends of virtue, and the benefactors of mankind, how
sad to think that they have never received their due at the hands of
men.

The longer the Atheists look on their condition, the less satisfactory
it appears. They have no grand history, no glorious names, to reflect
honor on their cause. They have no noble army of martyrs. They have no
great monuments. And they can have no assurance of anything better in
days to come. The probability is that their memory will rot, and that
their principles will be an offence and loathing to mankind through all
succeeding generations.

But look on the other side? The highest name on earth is a religious
name; the name of Jesus. The names which stand next in honor are those
of His Apostles and followers. The mightiest nations on earth are
Christian nations. Christians rule the world. Christian ministers are
honored and revered. Christian churches rise to wealth and power. The
Church controls the state. It controls it most when it is least
ambitious, and most consistent. The Church has a glorious history. It
has the grandest array of honorable names. It has the noblest army of
martyrs. It has the richest literature. Its sacred books are read in all
the leading languages of the earth. The great geniuses are her's. The
richest poetry, the grandest eloquence, the divinest philosophy, the
noblest courage, the richest generosity, the most devoted philanthropy,
are all her's. She has the credit of being the parent and the nurse of
our highest civilization. She is the great educator. She builds our
schools. She rules our colleges. She controls the press. She plants new
nations. She spreads herself and exerts her influence in every land. You
cannot destroy the Church. It is immortal. You cannot limit its power.
It is irresistibly expansive and invincible. If at any time it suffers
loss, it is through its own unfaithfulness; and a return to duty is a
return to dominion.

Even in countries not Christian the religious element is supreme, and
the religious men alone are honored. The greatest names in the history
of India and China, of Persia and Turkey, are the names of their
prophets and religious leaders.

What follows from all this? That if infidelity be true and good, and
religion false and mischievous, the world and the human race are wholly
wrong. The best and wisest men are everywhere despised, and the weakest
and wickedest are everywhere honored. The originators of the greatest
delusions are deified; and the revealers of the greatest truths are
regarded as monsters. Truth no longer can be said to be mighty, and
error can no longer be said to be weak. The right is no longer sure of
triumph, nor the wrong of overthrow. Men love darkness and hate the
light; and it is not the few that do so, but the many. And there seems
no hope of a change for the better. Earth is no place for the great, the
good, the wise; but for the ignorant, the deluded, and the base alone.
It is the paradise of fools, and the purgatory of philosophers.

But I asked, "_Is_ infidelity true and good, and religion false and
mischievous? Am I not laboring under some monster delusion? Have I not
been imposed upon by a vicious logic? Are not mankind right in hating
and dreading infidelity, and in loving and honoring religion? There is a
tremendous mistake somewhere. Either infidelity is wrong, or mankind and
the universe are fearfully perverse."

7. And now I began a reconsideration of the claims of religion and
infidelity. As I have said, I re-read the Bible. I reviewed Church
history. I examined the character and workings of religious communities.
And I found the Bible a better and a wiser book than I had ever
imagined. And I found Christianity, as presented in the teachings and
life of Jesus, the fairest and loveliest, the most glorious and
beneficent of all systems. I found Jesus Himself to be the most
beautiful and exalted of all characters. I saw in Paul a dignity and a
glory second only to those of Christ. I found in the New Testament the
perfection of wisdom and beneficence. I found in the history of the
Church a record of the grandest movement, and of the most glorious and
beneficent reformation, the world had ever witnessed. I found in the
churches the mightiest agencies and the most manifold operations for the
salvation of mankind. "Christianity," said I, "whether supernatural or
not, is a wondrous power. It is good, if it is not true. It is glorious.
It _deserves_ to be Divine, whether it be so or not. What a world we
should have,--what a heaven on earth--if men could be brought to believe
its teachings, to imbibe its spirit, and to obey its precepts. What a
heaven of bliss it would be to one's soul if one could see it and feel
it to be really true."

It had conquered my heart. It had won my love. And I would gladly have
died, or would gladly have lived through ages of hardship and toil, to
be satisfied of its divinity. How glad I was when I found men heartily
believing it. How sad when I found them doubting, like myself. How
delighted I was when I found my objections to its truth slowly fading
away, and saw facts in its favor coming gradually into view.

But doubt had become a powerful tyrant, and I had become a slave; and
though I _wished_ I could be a Christian, I could indulge no hope of
ever experiencing so great a happiness. But I would do Christianity
justice, to the best of my ability. I would exhibit its excellencies. I
would defend it against false accusations. I would preach it so far as I
honestly could. I would practise its precepts so far as I was able. I
would cherish its spirit. "If it is not from God," said I, "it is the
best production of the mind of man. If I cannot hold it forth as a
divine revelation, I can extol it as the perfection of human wisdom. And
some of its teachings are evidently true, and others are easily proved
to be so. It is true throughout, so far as I can test it; and it may be
true--perhaps I shall some day find it to be true--on points on which I
am unable to test it at present. I will wait, and labor meanwhile to
promote its beneficent influence!"

I looked on the other side. I read the Secularists' Bible: I reviewed
the history of unbelief; I examined the character and working of infidel
communities. And what was the result! The Secularists' Bible I found to
be a huge and revolting mass of filth and loathsomeness; the most
shameless attack on virtue and happiness that ever came under my view. I
remembered that Carlisle and Robert Owen had published books of the same
immoral and dehumanizing tendency. The history of infidelity I found to
be a history of licentiousness, and of every abomination. The infidel
communities I found to be hot-beds of depravity. The leaders of the
party were teachers and examples of deceit, of dishonesty, of
intemperance, of gambling, and of unbounded licentiousness. They had no
virtue; they had no conscience; and it was only when they were in the
presence of men of other views, that they had any shame, or modesty, or
regard for decency. And they were fearfully intolerant and malignant
towards those who crossed them, or thwarted them, in their projects.
They were no great workers, but they would exert themselves to the
utmost to annoy or vilify the objects of their displeasure. The facts
that came to my knowledge with regard to the morals of the Secularists
contributed to my deliverance from the thraldom of unbelief.

The honor awarded to Christ, and the infamy attached to infidelity, are
no mistakes. Jesus has never been exalted beyond His merits, and
infidelity has never been hated or dreaded beyond its deserts.
Christianity is the sum and perfection of all that is good, and true,
and glorious; and atheism is the sum and aggravation of all that is
vile, and mischievous, and miserable. It would be sad for the world if
men should lose their instinctive dread of infidelity, and begin to
speak of it as an error of little moment. It is a monster
conglomeration of all evil, and it has no redeeming quality.

8. Among the lectures which I delivered in my transition state was one
in answer to the question; "What do you offer as a substitute for the
Bible? Can you give us anything better?" I said that I had no desire to
_do away_ with the Bible; that I wished them to read it, study it, and
reduce the better part of its precepts to practice. I said: "With those
who would destroy the Bible, or prevent its circulation, I have no
sympathy and no connexion. The Bible is a book of great interest and
value; to say the least, it presents us with the thoughts of the best
and wisest of men, on subjects of the greatest interest and importance;
it gives us the best picture of the life and manners of the nations and
institutions of the ancient world; it is a wonderful revelation of human
nature; it tells the most interesting stories; it contains the grandest
and most beautiful poetry, the wisest proverbs, the most faithful
denunciations of vice and crime, the most earnest exhortations to duty,
the best examples of virtue, the most instructive and touching
narratives of people of distinguished worth, the most rational and
practical definitions of religion, the worthiest representations of God
and the universe, the greatest encouragement to fidelity under reproach
and persecution, the richest consolations under afflictions and trials,
and the most cheering exhibitions of future blessedness. We know of
nothing good in any system which is not favored by some portion of the
Bible. We know of nothing evil which is not condemned by other portions.
All that is best and noblest and grandest in man's nature is there
embodied. We know of no good or generous feeling which is not there
expressed. We cannot imagine it possible for a book to be more earnest
in its exhortations to the performance of duty, or to the culture of
virtue. There is no book on earth that we should be more reluctant to
part with than the Bible. Its destruction would be a fearful loss to
mankind. It is a mine containing treasures of infinite value. The wisest
may learn more wisdom from its teachings, and the best be raised to
higher virtue by its influence. It has done much good; it is doing good
still; it is calculated to do still greater good in days to come. Old as
it is, it is a wiser book than the books of religion that are written
in the present day. It is wiser than the preachers; wiser than the great
divines. It is infinitely superior to the Bibles that have been made in
later times, such as the Bible of the Shakers, the Bible of Reason, and
the Book of Mormon.

"It is superior to the Koran, though the authors of the Koran, like
later makers of Bibles, had the older Bible to help them. The Koran is
the best of modern Bibles, because it borrows most freely from the Old
and New Testaments.

"The Bible is vastly better as a moral book, and as a persuasive and
help to duty, than the writings of the best of the ancient Greeks and
Romans. The Bible is consistent with itself as a moral teacher, though
the precepts of Judaism are inferior to those of Christianity. The Bible
treats man as a subject of law, as bound to obey God and do right, from
first to last; and though it begins with fewer and less perfect
precepts, suited to lower states of society, it goes steadily on to
perfection, till it gives us the highest law, and the most perfect
example, in the teachings and life of Christ. Read your Bibles; commit
the better portions of the Book to your memory; think of them, practise
them. Don't be ashamed to do so. The greatest philosophers, not
excepting such men as Newton, Locke, and Boyle; the most celebrated
monarchs, from Alfred to Victoria; the most venerable judges, with Sir
Matthew Hale as their representative; the sweetest poets, from Chaucer,
Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton, down to Dryden, Young, and Cowper; and
the most devoted philanthropists, from Penn, and Howard, and Wesley, to
Elizabeth Fry and Florence Nightingale, have been lovers and students of
the Bible. The men that hate the Bible and wish for its destruction, are
the base and bad. The men who love it and labor for its world-wide
circulation, are the good and the useful. You cannot have a better
companion than the Bible, if you will use it judiciously. There is no
danger that you should rate it too high. If you should regard it as
supernaturally inspired, it will do you no harm. Such ideas may make you
read it more carefully, and pay more respect to its teachings, and that
will be a blessing. Men are in no danger of prizing good books too
highly. As a rule, they esteem them far too lightly. A great good book
is one of the richest treasures on earth. There is still less danger
that you should think too much of the Bible. The man does not live that
has erred in that direction. The best friends the Bible has, the most
strenuous advocates of its divinity, do not estimate the Book above its
worth. They do not value it according to its worth. It is richer in its
contents, it is better and mightier in its influences, than its
devoutest friends are aware.

"There are men who prate about Bibliolatry, and labor to lower men's
estimate of the Bible. They may spare their breath. The people who
idolize the Bible too much are creatures of their own imagination only,
and not living men and women. People may love the Bible unwisely, but
not too well. To place it too high as a means of instructing,
regenerating and blessing mankind, is not in man's power.

"I esteem it myself more highly than I ever did. My ramblings in the
regions of doubt and unbelief; my larger acquaintance with the works of
infidel philosophers, atheistical reformers, fanatical dreamers,
re-organizers of society, makers of new moral worlds, skeptical
historians of civilization, Essays and Reviews, Elements of Social
Science, Phases of Faith, and Phases of no Faith, and a world of other
books; my enlarged acquaintance with men, my sense of spiritual want and
wretchedness when shut out from religious consolations, have led me to
value the Bible, skeptical as I yet am, as I never valued it before.

"I was born in a town on a hill, from which I had delightful views of a
rich and beautiful valley. I looked on those beautiful prospects spread
out before me, with their charming variety of scenery, from my earliest
days, to the time I left my native land, but I have no recollection that
I ever experienced in those early times any large amount of pleasure
from the sight. In course of time I left the place of my birth and the
home of my childhood, and visited other lands. I saw rivers and lakes,
and mountains and plains, and forests and prairies in great abundance,
and in almost endless variety. And I compared them one with another, and
marked their points of difference and resemblance. And then after my
many and long wanderings, I returned to the place of my birth, and
looked on the scenes of my childhood again; and I was lost in ecstacies.
I was amazed that I had seen so little of their beauty, and been so
little transported with their charms before.

"And so with regard to the Bible. I was born in a family in which the
Bible was read every day of the year. I heard its lessons from the lips
of a venerable father, and of a most affectionate mother. I read the
book myself. I studied it when I came of age, and treasured up many of
its teachings in my heart. I preached its truths to others. I defended
its teachings against infidel assailants, and was eloquent in its
praise.

"But a change took place; a strange, unlooked-for change. I was severed
from the Church. I became an unbeliever. I turned away my eyes from the
book, or looked chiefly on such portions of it as seemed to justify my
unbelief. I have been led of late to return to the book, and to study it
with a desire to do it justice; and the result is, I love it, I prize
it, as I never did in my life. I read it at times with unshakable
transports, and I am sorry I should ever have been so insensible to its
infinite excellences."

Such was my lecture. Those who had come to oppose, seemed puzzled what
to say. One man said I had been brought there to curse the Bible, and
lo! I had blessed it altogether. Another said that what I had uttered
could not be my real sentiments--that my praise of the Bible must be a
trap or a snare. My answer was, They are my real convictions, and the
sentiments that I publish in my weekly paper. Then how comes it that you
are brought here by the Secularists? I answered, My custom is to accept
invitations from any party, but to teach my own sentiments.

One young man came to me at Bristol, after hearing me deliver this
lecture, and said how glad he was at what I had said. "When my mother
was dying," said he, "she gave me a Bible, and pressed me to read it;
and I did so for a while. But when I became a skeptic, I lost my
interest in the book, and I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't
like to sell it, or destroy it, because it was the gift of my mother;
yet I seemed to have no use for it. I shall read it now with pleasure."

On the following evening I lectured on _True Religion_. The gentleman
who had come to oppose me said it was the best sermon, or about the
best, he had over heard. He seemed at a loss to know what right I had to
speak so earnestly in favor of all that was good, and appeared inclined
to abuse me for not saying something bad. I took all calmly, and the
meeting ended pleasantly.

9. And now, instead of trying to shake men's faith in religion, I
labored to strengthen it. I was satisfied that the faith of the
Christian was right in substance, if it was not quite right in form. And
I was satisfied there was something terribly wrong in unbelief, though I
could not yet free myself entirely from its horrible power.

10. The feeling grew stronger that my remaining doubts were
unreasonable; that my soul was a slave to an evil spell, the result of
long persistence in an evil method of reasoning; yet I lacked the power
to emancipate myself. At length, as I have said, I appealed to Heaven
and cried, "GOD HELP ME!" and my struggling soul was strengthened and
released.

11. I had looked at the Church when a Christian minister from the
highest ground, and it seemed too low. I had compared it with Christ and
His teachings, and it seemed full of shortcomings. I now looked at it
from low ground, and it seemed high. I compared it with what I had seen
in infidel society, and read in infidel books; and I was filled with
admiration of its order, and of its manifold labors of love. I tried to
imitate the order and beneficent operations of the Church in my Burnley
society, but failed. Faith in Christianity, and the spirit of its
glorious Author, were wanting. The body without the spirit is dead.

12. I was first convinced that Christianity was necessary to the
happiness of man, and to the regeneration of the world, but had doubts
as to its truth. I now saw that much of it was true. In course of time I
came to be satisfied that the religion of Christ was true as a _whole_;
that it was a revelation from God; that Christ Himself was a revelation
both of what God _is_, and of what man _ought_ to be; that He was God's
image and man's model: that He was God incarnate, God manifest in the
flesh, and the one great Saviour of mankind. My objections to miracles
gave way. They seemed groundless. I saw miracles in nature. They were
wrought on every emergency, even to secure the comfort of the lower
animals. What could be more rational than to expect them to be wrought
in aid of man's illumination and salvation? My moral and religious
feelings got stronger. My skeptical tendencies grew weaker. I continued
to look at Christ. I studied him more and more. My heart waxed warmer;
my love to God and Christ became a mighty flame. I got among the
followers of Christ; I gave free scope, I gave full play, to my better
affections, and heavenward tendencies. I read, I prayed, I wrote, I
lectured, I preached. I gave free utterance to what I believed, and
while doing so, came to believe still more, and to believe with fuller
assurance. I used no violence with myself, except my lower self. I went
no further in my preaching than I had gone in my belief, and I accepted
no doctrines or theories which did not present themselves to my soul as
true and right. But I came at length to see, not the perfection and
divinity of any particular system of theology, but the perfection and
divinity of Christianity, and the substantial perfection and divinity of
the Sacred Scriptures.

13. I examined the popular objections to Christianity and the Bible.
Some were exceedingly childish; some seemed wicked; some, it was plain,
originated in ignorance; some in error. Paine, Owen, Parker, and certain
students of nature, came to erroneous conclusions with regard to Christ
and the Bible, because they tried them by false standards. Jesus said
nothing on the value of representative and democratic forms of
government, so Paine considered Him ignorant of the conditions of human
happiness. It was Paine however that was ignorant, not Jesus. Jesus was
so wise, that Paine was not able to appreciate His views or do Him
justice. Owen believed that man was the creature of circumstances; that
his character was formed for him, not by him, and that he was not
responsible therefore for his actions. Christ taught a contrary
doctrine. Owen therefore considered Christ to be in error: but the error
was in himself. Parker did not believe in the possibility of miracles:
but the Bible contained accounts of miracles. The Bible therefore must
be pronounced, to a great extent, fabulous. But miracles _are_ possible;
miracles are actual, palpable realities, and Parker's objection falls to
the ground. Many smatterers in science object to the credibility of the
gospel history on the same ground, and are answered in the same way.

Some objections to the Bible and Christianity originate in
misinterpretations of portions of the Bible. The Scriptures are made
answerable for foolish doctrines which they do not teach. Some
objections seem based on a wilful misconstruction of passages of
Scripture. Many objections owe their force to wrong theories of Divine
inspiration, and to erroneous notions with regard to the design of the
Sacred Scriptures put forth by certain divines. These are obviated by
the rejection of those unwarrantable theories and erroneous ideas, and
the acceptance of better ones. Many get wrong notions about what
constitutes the _perfection_ of the Bible, and look in the Scriptures
for a _kind_ of perfection which is impossible in a book written in
human language, and meant for the instruction and education of imperfect
human beings. There is not a language on earth that is absolutely
perfect, nor is it likely that there ever was, or ever will be, such a
language. An absolutely perfect book therefore in any human language is
an impossibility. But no such thing as an absolutely perfect book is
necessary or desirable, any more than an absolutely perfect body or
soul, or an absolutely perfect church or ministry. There is a kind of
imperfection in God's works which constitutes their perfection. There is
a kind of perfection talked about by metaphysical divines, which would
be the extreme of imperfection. We have reason to be thankful that there
is no such perfection either in Nature or the Bible. Nature and the
Bible would be worthless if there were. But there is a practical
perfection, a perfection of _usefulness_, in both; a perfection of
adaptation to the accomplishment of the highest and most desirable
objects: and that is enough.

The principal objects for which the Bible was written were, 1. To make
men wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2. To furnish
God's people unto every good work. 3. To support them under their
trials, and to comfort them under their sorrows, on their way to heaven.
No higher or more desirable ends can be conceived. And it answers these
ends, whenever its teachings are received and obeyed. And this is true,
substantial perfection. This is the reasoning of the Psalmist. "The law
of the Lord is _perfect_," says he, and the proof he gives is this, "_it
converteth the soul_." "The testimony of the Lord is sure, _making wise
the simple_. The statutes of the Lord are right, _rejoicing the heart_.
Moreover by them is Thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is
great reward." This is all the perfection we need.

14. Spiritualism had something to do with my conversion. I know the
strong feeling prevailing among many Christians against spiritualism,
but I should feel as if I had not quite done my duty, if I did not, to
the best of my recollection, set down the part it had in the cure of my
unbelief. My friends must therefore bear with me while I give them the
following particulars:--

As I travelled to and fro in America, fulfilling my lecturing
engagements, I met with a number of persons who had been converted, by
means of spiritualism, from utter infidelity, to a belief in God and a
future life. Several of those converts told me their experience, and
pressed me to visit some medium myself, in hopes that I might witness
something that would lead to my conversion. I was, at the time, so
exceedingly skeptical, that the wonderful stories which they told me,
only caused me to suspect them of ignorance, insanity, or dishonesty;
and the repetition of such stories, to which I was compelled to listen
in almost every place I visited, had such an unhappy effect on my mind,
that I was strongly tempted to say, "All men are liars." I had so
completely forgotten, or explained away, my own previous experiences,
and I was so far gone in unbelief, that I had no confidence whatever in
anything that was told me about matters spiritual or supernatural. I
might have the fullest confidence imaginable in the witnesses when they
spoke on ordinary subjects, but I could not put the slightest faith in
their testimony when they told me their stories about spiritual matters.
And though fifty or a hundred persons, in fifty or a hundred different
places, without concert with each other, and without any temptation of
interest, told me similar stories, their words had not the least effect
on my mind. The most credible testimony in the world was utterly
powerless, so far as things spiritual were concerned. And when the
parties whose patience I tried by my measureless incredulity, entreated
me to visit some celebrated medium, that I might see and judge for
myself, I paid not the least regard to their entreaties. I was wiser in
my own conceit than all the believers on earth.

At length, to please a particular friend of mine in Philadelphia, I
visited a medium called Dr. Redman. It was said that the proofs given
through him of the existence and powers of departed spirits were such as
no one could resist. My friend and his family had visited this medium,
and had seen things which to them seemed utterly unaccountable, except
on the supposition that they were the work of disembodied spirits.

When I entered Dr. Redman's room, he gave me eight small pieces of
paper, about an inch wide and two inches long, and told me to take them
aside, where no one could see me, and write on them the names of such of
my departed friends as I might think fit, and then wrap them up like
pellets and bring them to him. I took the papers, and wrote on seven of
them the names of my father and mother, my eldest and my youngest
brothers, a sister, a sister-in-law, and an aunt, one name on each; and
one I left blank. I retired to a corner of the room to do the writing,
where there was neither glass nor window, and I was so careful not to
give any one a chance of knowing what I wrote, that I wrote with a short
pencil, so that even the motion of the top of my pencil could not be
seen. I was besides entirely alone in that part of the room, with my
face to the dark wall. The bits of paper which the medium had given me
were soft, so that I had no difficulty in rolling them into round
pellets, about the size of small peas. I rolled them up, and could no
more have told which was blank and which was written on, nor which,
among the seven I had written on, contained the name of any one of my
friends, and which the names of the rest, than I can tell at this moment
what is taking place in the remotest orbs of heaven. Having rolled up
the papers as described, I laid them on a round table, about three feet
broad. I laid on the table at the same time a letter, wrapped up, but
not sealed, written to my father, but with no address outside. I also
laid down a few loose leaves of note paper. The medium sat on one side
the table, and I sat on the other, and the pellets of paper and the
letter lay between us. We had not sat over a minute, I think, when there
came very lively raps on the table, and the medium seemed excited. He
seized a pencil, and wrote on the outside of my letter, wrong side up,
and from right to left, so that what he wrote lay right for me to read,
these words: "I CAME IN WITH YOU, BUT YOU NEITHER SAW ME NOR FELT
ME. WILLIAM BARKER." And immediately he seized me by the hand, and
shook hands with me.

This rather startled me. I felt very strange. For WILLIAM BARKER was the
name of my youngest brother, who had died in Ohio some two or three
years before. I had never named him, I believe, in Philadelphia, and I
have no reason to suppose that any one in the city was aware that I had
ever had such a brother, much less that he was dead. I did not tell the
medium that the name that he had written was the name of a brother of
mine; but I asked, "Is the name of this person among those written in
the paper pellets on the table?"

The answer was instantly given by three loudish raps, "Yes."

I asked, "Can he select the paper containing his name?"

The answer, given as before, was "Yes."

The medium then took up first one of the paper pellets and then another,
laying them down again, till he came to the fifth, which he handed to
me. I opened it out, and it contained my brother's name. I was startled
again, and felt very strange. I asked, "Will the person whose name is on
this paper answer me some questions?"

The answer was, "Yes."

I then took part of my note paper, and with my left hand on edge, and
the top of my short pencil concealed, I wrote, "_Where d----_,"
_intending_ to write, "_Where did you die?_" But as soon as I had
written "_Where d----_," the medium reached over my hand and wrote,
upside down, and backwards way, as before,--

"_Put down a number of places, and I will tell you._"

Thus answering my question before I had had time to ask it in writing.

I then wrote down a list of places, four in all, and pointed to each
separately with my pencil, expecting _raps_ when I touched the right
one; but no raps came.

The medium then said, "Write down a few more." I then discovered that I
had not, at first, written down the place where my brother died: so I
wrote down two more places, the first of the two being the place where
he died. The list then stood thus:--

SALEM,
LEEDS,
RAVENNA,
AKRON,
CUYAHOGA FALLS,
NEW YORK.

The medium then took his pencil, and moved it between the different
names, till he came to CUYAHOGA FALLS, which he scratched out.
That was the name of the place where he died.

I then wrote a number of other questions, in no case giving the medium
any chance of knowing by any ordinary means what I wrote, and in every
case he answered the questions in writing as he had done before; and in
every case but one the answers were such as to show, both that the
answerer knew what questions I had asked, and was acquainted with the
matters to which they referred.

When I had asked some ten or a dozen questions, the medium said, "There
is a female spirit wishes to communicate with you."

"Is her name among those on the table?" I asked.

The answer, in three raps, was, "Yes."

"Can she select the paper containing her name?" I asked.

The answer again was, "Yes."

The medium then took up one of the paper pellets, and put it down; then
took up and put down a second; and then took up a third and handed it to
me.

I was just preparing to undo it, to look for the name, when the medium
reached over as before, and wrote on a leaf of my note paper--

"IT IS MY NAME. ELIZABETH BARKER."

And the moment he had written it, he stretched out his hand, smiling,
and shook hands with me again. Whether it really was so or not, I will
not say, but his smile seemed the smile of my mother, and the expression
of his face was the old expression of my mother's face; and when he
shook hands with me, he drew his hand away in the manner in which my
mother had always drawn away her hand. The tears started into my eyes,
and my flesh seemed to creep on my bones. I felt stranger than ever. I
opened the paper, and it was my mother's name: ELIZABETH BARKER. I asked
a number of questions as before, and received appropriate answers.

But I had seen enough. I felt no desire to multiply experiments. So I
came away--sober, sad, and thoughtful.

I had a particular friend in Philadelphia, an old unbeliever, called
Thomas Illman. He was born at Thetford, England, and educated, I was
told, for the ministry in the Established Church. He was remarkably well
informed. I never met with a skeptic who had read more or knew more on
historical or religious subjects, or who was better acquainted with
things in general, except Theodore Parker. He was the leader of the
Philadelphia Freethinkers, and was many years president of the Sunday
Institute of that city. He told me, many months before I paid my visit
to Dr. Redman, that _he_ once paid him a visit, and that he had seen
what was utterly beyond his comprehension,--what seemed quite at
variance with the notion that there was no spiritual world,--and what
compelled him to regard with charity and forbearance the views of
Christians on that subject. At the time he told me of these things, I
had become rather uncharitable towards the Spiritualists, and very
distrustful of their statements, and the consequence was, that his
account of what he had witnessed, and of the effect it had had on his
mind, made but little impression on me. But when I saw things resembling
what my friend had seen, his statements came back to my mind with great
power, and helped to increase my astonishment. But my friend was now
dead, and I had no longer an opportunity of conversing with him about
what we had seen. This Mr. Illman was the gentleman mentioned on a
former page, whom I attended on his bed of death.

The result of my visit to Dr. Redman was, that I never afterwards felt
the same impatience with Spiritualists, or the same inclination to
pronounce them all foolish or dishonest, that I had felt before. It was
plain, that whether their theory of a spirit world was true or not, they
were excusable in thinking it true. It _looked_ like truth. I did not
myself conclude from what I had seen, that it was true, but I was
satisfied that there was more in this wonderful universe than could be
accounted for on the coarse materialistic principles of Atheism. My
skepticism was not destroyed, but it was shaken and confounded. And now,
when I look back on these things, it seems strange that it was not
entirely swept away. But believing and disbelieving are habits, and they
are subject to the same laws as other habits. You may exercise yourself
in doubting till you become the slave of doubt. And this was what I had
done. I had exercised myself in doubting, till my tendencies to doubt
had become irresistible. My faith, both in God and man, seemed entirely
gone. I had not, so far as I can see, so much as "a grain of mustard
seed" left. So far as religious matters were concerned, I was insane. It
makes me sad to think what a horrible extravagance of doubt had taken
possession of my mind. A thousand thanks to God for my deliverance from
that dreadful thraldom.

15. I have been asked how I meet my own old objections to the Divine
authority of the Bible. I answer, some of them originated in
misinterpretations of Scripture. Others originated in mistakes with
regard to the character of Christ. Some things which I regarded as
defects in Christ were, in truth, excellencies. Some were based on
mistakes with regard to the truth of certain doctrines, and the value of
certain precepts. I looked on certain doctrines as false, which I now am
satisfied are true; and I regarded certain precepts as bad, which I am
now persuaded are good. Some things which I said about the Bible were
true, but they proved nothing against its substantial perfection and
divinity. Much of what I said in my speech at Salem, Ohio, about the
imperfection of all translations of the Scriptures, the various readings
of Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, the defects of Greek and Hebrew
compilations, and the loss of the original manuscripts, was true; but it
amounted to nothing. It disproved the unguarded statements of certain
rash divines; but it proved nothing against the divine inspiration or
substantial perfection of the Bible as taught in the Bible itself, and
as held by divines of the more enlightened and sober class. That which
is untrue in what I wrote about the Scriptures is no longer an obstacle
to my faith, now that I see it to be untrue. And those remarks which are
true in my writings on the Bible give me no trouble, because my faith in
Bible inspiration is of such a form, that they do not affect it. They
might shake the faith of a man who believes in a kind of inspiration of
the Bible which is unscriptural, and in a kind of perfection of the Book
which is impossible; but they do not affect the faith of a man who keeps
his belief in Bible inspiration and Bible perfection within the bounds
of Scripture and reason.

And here I may say a few words about the objections I advanced in my
debate with Dr. Berg.

1. The great mass of those objections prove nothing against the Bible
itself, as the great and divinely appointed means of man's religious
instruction and improvement. They simply show that the theory held by
Dr. Berg about the inspiration and absolute perfection of the book was
erroneous. If Dr. Berg had modified his notions, and brought them within
Scriptural bounds, this class of objections would all have fallen to the
ground.

2. But some of my statements were untrue and unjust. For instance, in
one case I said, 'The man who forms his ideas of God from the Bible can
hardly fail to have blasphemous ideas of Him.' Now, from the account of
the Creation in Genesis, to the last chapter in Revelation, the one
grand idea presented of God is that He is good, and that His delight is
to do good,--that He is good to all, and that His tender mercies are
over all His works. Whatever may be said of a few passages of dark or
doubtful meaning, the whole drift of the Bible is in accordance with
that wonderful, that unparalleled oracle of the Apostle, 'GOD IS LOVE.'

3. Another statement that I made was, that the man who studies God in
Nature, without the Bible, is infinitely likelier to get worthier views
of God, than he who gets his ideas of God from the Bible without regard
to Nature. Now the truth is, no man _can_ get his ideas of God from the
Bible without regard to Nature; for the Bible constantly refers to
Nature as a revelation of God, and represents Nature as exhibiting the
grandest displays of God's boundless and eternal goodness. The Bible and
Nature are in harmony on the character of God. The only difference is,
that the revelations of God's love in the Bible, and especially in
Christ, are more striking, more overpowering and transforming than those
of Nature. And lastly, the notions of God entertained by those who have
the light of Nature alone, are not to be compared with the views
entertained by those who form their views of God from the Bible alone,
or from the Bible and Nature conjoined.

4. One of my strongest objections was based on the 109th Psalm. This
Psalm contains strong expressions of revenge and hatred towards the
enemy of the Psalmist. The answer to this objection is,

1. That the Psalmist is not set up as our great example, and that his
utterances are not given as the highest manifestation of goodness.

2. The Psalms are exceedingly instructive and interesting, and must have
been of immense value, both as a means of comfort and improvement, to
those to whom they were first given; but the perfection of divine
revelation was yet to come. The Psalms are of incalculable value still,
but they are not our standard of the highest virtue. John the Baptist
was greater, higher, better than the Psalmist; yet the least of the
followers of Jesus is higher than he.

3. But thirdly; we must not conclude that the feelings and expressions
of the Psalmist were wicked, merely because they fell short of the
highest Christian virtue. 'Revenge,' says one of our wisest men, 'is a
wild kind of justice;' but it _is_ justice notwithstanding, when called
forth by real and grievous wrong. It is goodness, though not goodness of
the highest kind. It is virtue, though not perfect Christian virtue. And
the revenge of the Psalmist was provoked by wrong of the most grievous
description. Read the account of the matter given in the Psalm itself.
'Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; for the mouth of the wicked and
the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken
against me with a lying tongue. They compassed me about also with words
of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. For my love they are
my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer. And they have rewarded me
evil for good, and hatred for my love.' This was injustice, ingratitude,
cruelty of the most grievous kind. And these wrongs had been continued
till his health and strength wore reduced to the lowest point. 'I am
gone,' says he, 'like the shadow when it declineth. My knees are weak;
my flesh faileth; so that when men look at me, they shake their heads.'

And a similar cause is assigned for the revengeful expressions in the
69th Psalm. There we find the persecuted Psalmist saying, "They that
hate me, and would destroy me, are my enemies wrongfully, and they are
many and mighty. Then I restored that which I took not away. For _thy
sake_ have I borne reproach: the reproaches of them that reproached thee
are fallen upon me. I was the song of the drunkards. Reproach hath
broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some one
to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but none
appeared." Thus the men that wronged and tormented the Psalmist were
enemies to God and goodness, as well as to himself.

We know that the virtue of the injured and tormented Psalmist was not
the virtue of the Gospel; but it _was_ virtue. It was the virtue of the
law. And the law was holy, just, and good, so far as it went. If the
resentment of the Psalmist had been cherished against some good or
innocent man, it would have been wicked; as it was, it was righteous.
True, if the Psalmist had lived under the better and brighter
dispensation of Christianity, he would neither have felt the reproaches
heaped on him so keenly, nor moaned under them so piteously, nor
resented them so warmly. He might then have learned

     "To hate the sin with all his heart,
     And still the sinner love."

He might have counted reproach and persecution matters for joy and
gladness. And instead of calling for vengeance on his enemies, he might
have cried, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." But
the Psalmist did _not_ live under the dispensation of the Gospel. He
lived under a system which, good as it was, made nothing perfect. And he
acted in accordance with that system. And the intelligent Christian, and
the enlightened lover of the Bible, will not be ashamed either of the
Psalmist, or of the Book which gives us the instructive and interesting
revelations of his experience.

5. Another of my objections to the Bible was grounded on the statement,
that God visits the iniquities of the fathers on the children. But it is
a fact, first, that children _do_ suffer through the sins of their
fathers. The children of drunkards, thieves, profligates, all suffer
through the misdoings of their parents. It is also a fact, that men
generally suffer through the misdoings of their fellow-men. We all
suffer through the vices of our neighbors and countrymen. The sins of
idlers, spendthrifts, misers, drunkards, gluttons, bigots, persecutors,
tyrants, thieves, murderers, corrupt politicians, and sinners of every
kind, are in this sense visited on us all. And we derive advantages on
the other hand from the virtues of the good. And it would be a strange
world, if no one could help or hurt another. It is better things are as
they are. The advantages we receive from the good, tend to draw us to
imitate their virtues. The sufferings entailed on us by the bad, tend to
deter us from their vices.

And so it is with parents and children. Children are specially prone to
imitate their parents. If they never suffered from the evil ways of
their parents, they would be in danger of walking in those ways
themselves for ever. When they suffer keenly from their parents'
misdoings, there is ground to hope that they will themselves do better.
I have known persons who were made teetotalers through the sufferings
brought on them by the drunkenness of their fathers. And on the other
hand; the blessings entailed on children by the virtue of their parents,
tend to draw them to goodness. And I have known fathers, who would
venture on evil deeds when they thought only of the suffering they might
bring on themselves, who have been staggered, and have shrunk from their
contemplated crimes, when they have thought of the ruin they might bring
on their children. And where is the good parent who is not more
powerfully stimulated to virtue and piety by thoughts of the blessings
which he may secure thereby to his offspring? The whole arrangement, by
which our conduct is made to entail good or evil on others, and by which
the conduct of others is made to entail good or evil on us, tends to
engage us all more earnestly in the war with evil, and to make us labor
more zealously for the promotion of knowledge and righteousness among
all mankind.

6. Another of my objections to the Bible was based on those passages
which represent God as causing men to do bad deeds. Joseph tells his
brethren, that it was not they, but God, who sent him into Egypt. David
says, 'Let Shimei curse; for God hath bidden him.' Of course, the words
of men like Joseph and David are not always the words of God. But Jesus
Himself speaks of Judas as appointed or destined to his deed of
treachery. What can we make of such passages? Does God make men wicked,
or cause them to sin? We answer, No. How is it then? We answer, What God
does is this: when men have made themselves wicked, He turns their
wickedness to good account, by causing it to show itself in some
particular way rather than in some other. God did not make the brethren
of Joseph envious and malicious; but he caused their envy and malice to
induce them to sell their brother into Egypt, rather than to kill him
and throw him into a pit. The wickedness was their own; the particular
turn given to it was of God. God did not make Shimei a base, bad man;
but Shimei having become base and bad, God chose that his villany should
spend itself on David, rather than on some other person. God did not
make Judas a thief and a traitor; but Judas having made himself so, God
so places him, that his avarice, his dishonesty and his treachery shall
minister to the accomplishment of a great beneficent design. God did not
teach the spirits that deceived Ahab to lie; but those spirits having
given themselves to lying, God chose that they should practise their
illusions on Ahab rather than on others. God did not make Pharaoh mean
or tyrannical; but Pharaoh having become so, God chooses to employ his
evil dispositions in bringing about remarkable displays of His power.
God does not make politicians corrupt; but politicians having become
corrupt, God chooses to place them in positions in which they can rob,
and torment, and dishonor us, and so incite us to labor more zealously
for the Christianization of our country. A man becomes a thief, and
says, I will rob John Brown to-night. And he places himself in the way
along which he expects John Brown to pass, and prepares himself for his
deed of plunder. But God does not wish to have John Brown robbed; so He
arranges that David Jones, a man whom he wishes to be relieved of his
money, shall pass that way, and the thief robs _him_. The dishonesty is
the thief's own, but it is God that determines the party on whom it
shall be practised.

I have a bull-dog that would worry a certain animal, if I would take it
where the animal is feeding. But I choose to bring it in view of another
animal which I wish to be destroyed, and he worries that. I do not make
the bull-dog savage; but I use his savagery for a good purpose, instead
of letting him gratify it for an evil one. This view of things explains
a multitude of difficult passages of Scripture, and enables us to see
wisdom and goodness in many of God's doings, in which we might otherwise
fancy we saw injustice and inconsistency.

I have not time to answer all my old objections to the Bible, advanced
in the Berg debate, nor have I time to answer any of them at full
length: but I have answered the principal ones; and the answers given
are a fair sample of what might be given to all the objections.

As for the objections grounded on little contradictions, on matters of
little or no moment, they require no answer. Whether the contradictions
are real or only apparent, and whether they originated with copyists,
translators, or the original human authors of the Books in which they
are found, it is not worth our while to inquire. They do not detract
from the worth of the Bible one particle, nor are they inconsistent with
its claims to a super-human origin.

And so with regard to the expressions scattered up and down the
Scriptures in reference to natural things, which are supposed to be
inconsistent with the teachings of modern science. They are, in our
view, of no moment whatever. Men writing or speaking under divine
impulse, with a view to the promotion of religion or righteousness,
would be sure, when they alluded to natural things, to speak of them
according to the ideas of their times. Their geography, their astronomy,
and even their historical traditions, would be those of the people among
whom they lived. Their spirit, their aim, would be holy and divine.

Nor have we any reason to wish it should be otherwise. Nor had our old
theologians ever any right, or Scriptural authority, for saying it was,
or that it ought to be, otherwise. To us it is a pleasure and an
advantage to have a record of the ideas, of the first rude guesses, of
our early ancestors, with regard to the wonders and mysteries of the
universe, and of the events of 'the far backward and abyss of time.' It
comforts us, and it makes us thankful, to see from what small and
blundering beginnings our numberless volumes of science have sprung. And
it comforts us, and makes us thankful, to see how the first faint
streaks of spiritual and moral light, that fell on our race, gradually
increased, till at length the day-spring and the morning dawned, and
then the full bright light of the Sun of Righteousness brought the
effulgence of the Perfect Day.

And here perhaps may be the place for a few additional remarks on Divine
inspiration.

We may observe, in the first place, that a man moved to speak by the
Holy Spirit, will, of course, speak for holiness. His aim will be the
promotion of true religiousness, and this will be seen in all he says.
He may not be a good scholar. He may not speak in a superhuman style.
His reasoning may not be in strict accordance with the logic of the
schools. His dialect may be unpolished. He may betray a lack of
acquaintance with modern science. He may not be perfect even in his
knowledge of religion and virtue. But he will show a godly spirit. The
aim and tendency of all he says will be to do good, to promote
righteousness and true holiness.

And so if a man be moved to _write_ by the Holy Spirit, there will be an
influence favorable to holiness in all he writes. His object will be
good. If he be a scholar, he will unconsciously show his learning; if he
be a man of science, he may show his science. If he be ignorant of
science, his ignorance may show itself. The Spirit of Holiness will
neither remove his ignorance nor conceal it: it will not make him talk
like a learned man or a philosopher; but it will make him talk like a
saint, like a servant of God, and a friend of man. His writings will
breathe the spirit and show the love of holiness, and a tendency to all
goodness.

And these are just the qualities we see in the Bible. It breathes a holy
spirit. It tends to promote holiness. The writers were not all equally
advanced in holiness; hence there is a difference in their writings.
They were not alike in their mental constitutions or their natural
endowments. They were not equal in learning, or in a knowledge of
nature, or in general culture. They differed almost endlessly. And their
writings differ in like manner. But they all tend to holiness. Some of
the writers were poets, and their writings are poetical. Others were not
poets, and their writings are prose. The poets were not all equal. Some
of them were very good poets, and their writings are full of beauty,
sublimity and power. Others of them were inferior poets, and their
compositions are more coarse, or more formal. Some of the writers were
shepherds or herdsmen, and their writings are rough and homely. Some of
them were princes and nobles, scholars and philosophers, and their
writings are richer and more polished. Some of them were mere clerks
and chroniclers, and their writings are dry and common-place; others
were fervid, powerful geniuses, and their works are full of fire and
originality. Their thoughts startle you. Their words warm you. They are
spirit and life. All the writers show their natural qualities and
tempers. All exhibit the defects of their learning and philosophy. All
write like men,--like men of the age, and of the rank, and of the
profession, and of the country, to which they belong. They write, in
many respects, like other men. The thing that distinguished them is, a
spirit of holiness; a regard, a zeal, for God and righteousness, and for
the instruction and welfare of mankind. In their devotion to God and
goodness they are all alike, though not all equal; but in other respects
they differ almost endlessly. In their devotion to God and goodness,
they are _unlike_ the mass of pagan worldly writers, but not so unlike
them in every other respect.

The divine inspiration of the sacred writers, or their wondrous zeal for
righteousness, is hardly a matter for dispute. It is a simple, plain,
palpable matter of fact. We see it on almost every page of their
writings. We feel it in almost every sentence.

Take the account of Creation in Genesis. No one could have written that
document under the influence of an ungodly or unholy spirit. It speaks
throughout with the utmost reverence of God. It represents Him as acting
from the best and noblest feeling. He works, not for His own interest or
honor, but solely for the purpose of diffusing happiness. He not only
does the greatest, the best, the noblest things, but He does them with a
hearty good will. Every now and then He stops to examine His works, and
is delighted to find that everything is good. It is plain He _meant_
them to be good. He creates countless multitudes of happy beings, and
does it all from impulses of His own generous nature. All living things
are made to be happy, and all nature is made and adapted to minister to
their happiness. And when at length He has completed His works, crowning
all with the creation of man, He looks on all again, and with evident
satisfaction and delight, declares them all very good.

Read the account of His creation of man. "And God said, Let us make man
in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the
fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and
over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the
earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created
he him, male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God
said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and
subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl
of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And
God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is
upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the
fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every
beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that
creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green
herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw everything that he had made,
and behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the
sixth day." There can be no mistake as to the spirit and disposition of
the Great Being whom we see working, and hear speaking, in this passage.
Everything savors of pure and boundless love.

1. He makes man male and female, that they may have the comfort and
advantages of society, and of love and friendship in their highest,
holiest, and most intimate form.

2. Then He makes them in His own image, which, whatever else it may
mean, means ungrudging and unbounded goodness on His part. There can be
nothing higher, greater, better, happier than God. To make man in His
own image, and to appoint him, so far as possible, to a like position,
and a like lot with Himself, was the grandest display of goodness
possible.

3. And He gives the man and woman dominion over every living
thing,--makes them, next to Himself, lords of the universe. And He
blesses them, speaks to them sweet good words; and His blessing maketh
rich and adds no sorrow. He encourages them to be fruitful; to multiply,
and replenish the earth, and to subdue it,--to turn it ever more to
their advantage. He in effect places all things at their disposal;
every green herb, bearing seed, and every tree yielding fruit, is given
to them for food; and they are at the same time given for food to every
beast of the field, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that
creepeth on the face of the earth. A richer, sweeter story,--a story of
more cheerful, generous liberality,--a picture more creditable or
honorable to God, one cannot imagine.

And the story is all of a piece. There is not a jar in it from first to
last. Its consistency is complete. Whatever else may be said of the
author of this account, it is certain that he was moved by a Holy
Spirit, that he had the loftiest and worthiest views of God, and that he
loved Him with all his heart and soul. He believed in a good and holy
God, and in a good and holy life.

I say nothing about the harmony or discord between this account of
Creation, and the facts of Geographical, Astronomical, or Geological
science. I do not trouble myself about such matters. To me it is a
question of no importance or concern whatever. And I have no trouble
about the interpretation of the story.

It wants no interpretation. It is as plain as the light. And I take it
in its simple, obvious, literal, natural sense. I keep to the
old-fashioned meaning--the meaning generally given to it before the
disputes about Geology and Astronomy seemed to render a new and
unnatural one necessary. The days of the story are natural days, and the
nights are natural nights. The length of each of the six days was the
same as that of the Sabbath day. The seven days made an ordinary week.
The first verse does not refer to a Creation previous to the week in
which man was made. It is a statement of the work of Creation in
general, of which the verses following give the particulars. All the
work that is spoken of was believed by the writer to have been begun and
ended in six ordinary natural days.

As to whether the story be literally or scientifically correct or not, I
do not care to inquire. I am satisfied that it is the result of divine
inspiration--that he who wrote it or spoke it was moved by the Holy
Spirit. The Spirit of truth, of love, of purity, of holiness pervades it
from beginning to end. It does justice to God; it bears benignly on
man; it favors all goodness. I see, I feel the blessed Spirit in every
line, and I want no more.

We are told that there are _two_ accounts of Creation, and that on some
points they differ from each other. For anything I know this may be the
case. But one thing is certain, they do not differ in the views they
give of God or of His objects. They both represent Him as a being not
only of almighty power and infinite wisdom, but of pure, unsullied,
boundless generosity. In truth, the only impulse to Creation that
presents itself is, the natural, spontaneous goodness of the Creator.
And on some points the manifestations of God's love and purity, of His
righteousness and holiness, are more full and striking in the second
account than in the first. God's desire for the social happiness of man
comes out more fully. Man, according to this second account, is made
previous to woman, and permitted for a time to experience the sense of
comparative loneliness. He is left to look through the orders of
inferior creatures, in search of a mate, and permitted to feel, for a
moment, the sense of disappointment. At length he is cast into a deep
and quiet sleep, and when he awakes, his mate, his counterpart, an exact
answer to his wants, his cravings, perfect in her loveliness, stands
before his eyes, and fills his soul with love and ecstacy. Marriage is
instituted in its purest and highest form. The law of marriage is
proclaimed, which is just, and good, and holy in the highest degree.
Provision is made for the comfort and welfare of the new-created pair.
Their home is a paradise, or garden of delights; their task is to dress
it and to keep it. Their life is love. The _general_ law under which
they are placed is made known to them, and they are graciously warned
against transgression. The law is the perfection of wisdom and
generosity. It allows them an all but unlimited liberty of indulgence.
They may eat of the fruit of every tree in the garden but one.
Indulgence must have its limits somewhere, or there could be no virtue,
and without virtue there could be no true happiness.

Law, trial, and temptation are all essential to virtue and
righteousness. Here they are all supplied; supplied so far as we can
see, in their best and most considerate forms. No law is given to the
lower animals. No self-denial is required of them. They are incapable
of virtue or righteousness, and are therefore left lawless. A _child_
left to himself would bring his mother to shame; a man left to himself
would rush headlong to destruction. But birds and beasts do best when
left to themselves, or when left to the law in their own natures. Their
instincts, or God's own impulses, urge them ever in the right direction,
and secure to them the kind and amount of happiness they are capable of
enjoying. They are incapable of virtue, so they are made incapable of
vice. They cannot share the highest pleasures; they shall not be exposed
therefore to the bitterest pains. Man is capable of both virtue and
vice, and he must either rise to the one or sink to the other. He cannot
stay midway with the lower animals. Man must be happy or miserable in a
way of his own; he cannot have the portion of the brute. He must either
be the happiest or the most miserable creature on earth. He must either
dwell in a paradise, or writhe in a purgatory. He must either live in
happy fellowship with God, or languish and die beneath his frown. And in
the nature of things, the possibility of one implies liability to the
other. This is man's greatness, and bliss, and glory, that he is capable
of righteousness; capable of fellowship, unity, with God; and capable of
progress, improvement, without limits, of life without end, and of
happiness without bounds.

All this, which is the perfection of true philosophy, the sum of all
true wisdom and knowledge, is presented in the most striking,
astounding, and intelligible form in this second, or supplementary
account of creation. Duty is defined in the clearest manner. It is
enjoined in the plainest terms. The results of transgression are
foretold with all fidelity. The great principle is revealed that
righteousness is life and happiness, and that sin is misery and death.
And man is left to his choice.

Here we have the substance, the elements, of all knowledge, of all law,
of all duty, of all retribution. We have the principles of the divine
government. We have the substance of all history. We have in substance,
the lessons, the warnings, the counsels, the encouragements, the
prophecies and revelations of all times and of all worlds. The tendency
of the whole story is to make us feel that righteousness is the one
great, unchanging and eternal good; and that sin, unchecked indulgence,
is the one great, eternal, and unchanging curse. The spirit of the
story, its drift, its aim, is _holiness_ from first to last. The writer
is moved throughout by the Holy Spirit--the Spirit of truth and
righteousness--the Spirit of God. We see it, we feel it, in every part.
We want no proof of the fact in the shape of miracle; the proof is in
the story itself. It is not a matter of dispute; it is a matter of plain
unquestionable fact. And that the story is essentially, morally, and
eternally true, is proved by all the events of history, by all the facts
of consciousness, and by the laws and constitution of universal nature.

And in the history of man's first sin as here given, and in the account
of its effects, and in the conduct of God to the sinning pair, I find,
not the monster fictions of an immoral and blasphemous theology, but the
most important elements of moral, religious, and physical science. And
instead of feeling tempted to ridicule the document, I am constrained to
gaze on it with the highest admiration and the profoundest reverence for
its amazing wisdom.

As to whether the account of the creation of the man and the woman, and
the story of the forbidden fruit, and of the serpent, and of the tree of
life, are to be taken literally or allegorically, I have no concern at
present. My sole concern with it is that of a Christian teacher and
moralist. The only question with me is: 'Is it divinely inspired? Does
the writer speak as a man moved by the Holy Spirit? Is it the tendency
of the story to make men lawless, recklessly self-indulgent, regardless
of God and duty; or is it the tendency of the story to make men fear God
and work righteousness?' And that is a question answered by the story
itself. On other matters the author writes as a man of his age and
country; on this, the only matter of importance, he writes as a man
moved by the Spirit of God.

And what I say of the accounts of Creation, I say of the history of Cain
and Abel, of Enoch and Job, of Noah and the Flood, of Abraham and Lot,
of Moses and his laws, and of the Hebrews and their history, of the
Psalms and Proverbs, of the Prophets and Apostles. All have one aim and
tendency; all make for righteousness. The writers are all moved by one
Spirit--the Spirit of holiness.

With the exception of the Book called Solomon's Song, and some other
unimportant portions of the Bible, the Scriptures all bear
unquestionable marks, are full from Genesis to Revelations, of proofs
indubitable, that they are the products of divine inspiration; that
their authors wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. Whatever
their rank or profession, whatever their position or education, whatever
their age or country, whatever their particular views on matters of
learning or science, the sacred writers all speak as men under holy,
heavenly influences, and their writings, however they may differ in
style, or size, or other respects, are all, "profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the
man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

16. I have been asked why I do not publish a refutation of my former
reasonings one by one, and a full explanation and defence of my present
views. I answer, my only reason for not doing this, so far as it is
really desirable, is a want of time. I did something in this line in my
_Review_. I have done a little more in my lectures on the Bible and on
Faith and Science, and I hope, in time, to do more.

17. I have been asked again, why I shun discussion on the subject. I
answer, I have never done so. When those who invite me to lecture wish
me to allow discussion, I comply with their wishes. I agreed to a public
discussion at Northampton; but the person who was to have met me drew
back. Again, if any one really wishes to discuss with me, he can do so
through the press. I published my views in my _Review_ thirteen or
fourteen years ago. I have published many of them since in a number of
pamphlets, giving all as good an opportunity of discussing them as they
can wish. And there is not the same necessity for a man who has
published his views through the press, to invite discussion on the
platform, as there is for a man who has _not_ given his views through
the press.

The following letter, written to a friend in Newcastle-on-Tyne, may
explain my views on this point a little more fully:--

MY DEAR SIR,--In answer to your question whether I will meet
the Representative of Secularism in debate, I would say, that I had
rather, for several reasons, spend what remains of my life and strength
in peaceful labors as a preacher, a lecturer, and an author. I seem to
have done enough in the way of public discussion. And I have not the
amount of physical or nervous energy, or the strength of voice and
lungs, which I once had. I am suffering, not only from the effects of
age, but from a terrible shock received in a collision on the railway,
causing serious paralysis of my right side, and greatly reducing the
force and action of my heart and brain.

Then I am not the representative of the Church, or of any section of it.
I can only stand forth as the advocate of my own views. Further; there
are many questions connected with the Bible, which appear to me more
fitted for quiet thought and friendly discussion among scholars and
critics, than for debate in a popular audience. On many of those points
Christian divines differ among themselves. They differ, for instance, to
some extent, in their views of Bible inspiration and the sacred canon;
they differ as to the worth of manuscripts, texts, and versions, the
validity of various readings, the origin and significance of
discrepancies in some of the historical and chronological portions of
the Bible, &c., &c. On none of these points do I consider myself called
upon to state or advocate any particular views.

There are however points of a broader and more important character, on
which a public popular discussion might be proper and useful; such as
the general drift and scope of the Bible, or its aim and tendency; the
character and tendency of Christianity as presented in the life and
teachings of its Author, and in the writings of the Apostles; the
comparative merits of Christianity, and of Atheistic Secularism as set
forth in the writings of Secularists.

I understand the leaders of the Secularists to teach, that Christianity
is exceedingly mischievous in its tendency,--that it is adverse to
civilization, and to the temporal interests of mankind generally,--that
the Bible is the curse of Europe, &c. These are subjects on which a
popular audience may be as well qualified to judge, as scholars and
critics. And if you particularly desire it, I will authorize you to
arrange for a discussion on them between me and such representative of
Secularism as you may think fit. I should not however like the
discussion to occupy more than three nights in any one week. And I
should wish effectual precautions to be taken to secure a peaceful and
orderly debate. It will be necessary also to have the subjects to be
discussed plainly and definitely stated.

Yours, most respectfully,
JOSEPH BARKER.

18. I may now add, that the evidences which had most to do in convincing
me of the truth and divinity of Christianity, were the internal ones. I
was influenced more by moral and spiritual, than by historical and
critical considerations. I do not think lightly of Paley's works on the
Evidences, or of Miall's _Bases of Belief_, or of Dr. Hopkins', or Dr.
Channing's, or Dr. Priestley's _Evidences of Christianity_; but the
Bible, and especially the story of Christ, was the principal instrument
of my conversion. I believed first with my heart rather than my head.
True, my head soon justified the belief of my heart: but my heart was
first in the business. I believe in miracles; I think them of great
importance. I believe especially in the miracles of Christ. But that
which melted my heart; that which won my infinite admiration; that which
filled me with unspeakable love and gratitude; that which made me a
Christian and a Christian believer, was Christ himself. Even His
miracles moved me more as expressions of His love, than as proofs of His
power. The great thing that overpowered me was the infinite excellency
of Christ, and the wonderful adaptation of Christianity to the spiritual
and moral, the social and physical, wants of mankind, Christ Himself is
His own best advocate. His life and character are His strongest claims
on our love and loyalty. And His religion, like the sun, is its own best
evidence of its divinity. The infinite worth of the sun--the astonishing
and infinitely varied adaptation of his light and warmth to the wants of
every living thing--his wonderful and beneficent effects on plants and
trees, on animals and man, are the strongest proofs of His Divine
original. And so with Christianity, the Sun of the moral and spiritual
world. It proves its heavenly origin by its amazing adaptation to man's
nature, and by its almighty tendency to promote his improvement and
perfection; by the light, the life, the blessedness it gives; by the
love it kindles; by the glorious transformations which it effects in
depraved individuals and degenerate communities; by the peace, the hope,
the joy it inspires; and by the courage and strength it imparts both in
life and in death.

19. The form in which Christianity presented itself to me, and the way
in which it operated on my soul, may be seen from the articles I wrote
on "Christ and His teachings," about the time of my conversion. They
refer to the doctrine of Christ with regard to a Fatherly God, and His
loving care of His creatures. The first thing that struck me in this
doctrine was its beauty and tenderness. It is just the kind of doctrine
which the hearts of the best of men would wish to be true. It answers to
the weaknesses and the wants of our nature; to the longings and
aspirations of our souls. It is full of consolation. It makes the
universe complete. It makes man's life worth living. It makes the
greatness, the vastness, the infinitude of our intellectual and
affectional nature a blessing. It gives peace--the peace that passes
understanding. It gives joy,--the joy that is unspeakable and full of
glory. It opens our lips in the sight of sorrow, and enables us to give
the sufferer consolation. It gives the universe a head. It gives it
unity. It gives to man a Ruler. It gives to law a commanding force. It
gives to conscience a controlling power. It makes virtue duty, while it
gives to it fresh grandeur and beauty. It exalts it in our eyes; and it
endears it to our hearts. And it furnishes the all-perfect example. And
it makes reasonable the inculcation of humility and charity, of
forbearance and forgiveness. And it dignifies the work of beneficence.
It makes us the allies and fellow-workers of the infinite. It makes us
one with Him. In teaching the ignorant, in bringing back the erring, in
strengthening the weak, in reforming the vicious, in cheering the sad,
in blessing the world, we are working as children in fellowship with
their infinite Father, and the pulses of our generous nature beat in
harmony with the living, loving, all-pervading Spirit of the universe.

And while it brightens the present, it gilds the future. It makes a
blessed immortality a natural certainty. If God our Father lives, then
we His children shall live also. Death is abolished. Day dawns at last
on the night of the grave. Earth is our birth-place and our nursery;
death is the gate-way to infinity, and there is our glorious and eternal
home. Our work for ever is the joyous work of doing good. Our future
life is an eternal unfolding, and a delightful exercise, of our highest
powers. The mysteries of universal nature open to our view, and in the
confluence of the delights of knowledge and the transports of
benevolence, our joy is full; our bliss complete.

This doctrine, in the form in which Jesus presents it, has hold of the
hearts of nearly the whole population of Christendom. It has the
strongest hold on the best. Even those who doubt it, doubt it with a
sigh; and those who give it up, surrender it with regret. And as they
make the sacrifice the earth grows dark. And life grows sad. And nature
wears the air of desolation. The music of the woods becomes less sweet.
The beauty of the flowers becomes less charming. There creeps a dreary
silence over land and sea. Existence loses more than half its charms.
The light of life burns dim. The past, the present, and the future all
are cheerless. The world is one vast orphan-house. Mankind are
fatherless. Our dearest ones are desolate. And language has no word to
comfort them. The lover sighs. The husband and the father weeps. The
bravest stand aghast. The charm of life, the unmixed bliss of being, is
no more.

But the question of questions is, Is the doctrine true? The _heart_ says
it is, and even the intellect acknowledges that there are ten thousand
appearances in nature which cannot be accounted for on any other
principle. We cannot at present dwell on the subject; but the doctrine
of Jesus with regard to God and immortality is the grandest and most
consoling, and is the most adapted to strengthen the soul to duty, and
to cheer and support it under suffering, that the mind of man can
conceive.

And then as to Jesus Himself, the love and the reverence with which He
is honored by so large a portion of the foremost nations of the earth,
are no mistake,--no accident. They are the natural result of His worth
and excellency. They are the natural response of the generous heart of
humanity, to its wisest Teacher, its loftiest Example, and its greatest
Benefactor. The devoutest love, the liveliest gratitude, the richest
honors, the costliest offerings are his,--He deserves them all. And His
name shall remain, and His fame shall spread, as long as the sun and
moon endure.

All nations love and adore the good. Men will even die for them. What
wonder then that Jesus should be so loved? What wonder that so many
tongues should praise Him, so many hearts adore Him, and so many nations
bow before Him, and accept Him as their Lord? For He devoted Himself to
the service, not of a class or a nation, but of the world. The sick, the
poor, the ignorant, the fallen; the little innocent children, the
wronged and outcast woman, the hated Samaritan, the despised Pagan, the
obnoxious publican, the youthful prodigal, the dying penitent, the cruel
persecutor, all shared His love, His pity, and His prayers. He lived, He
taught, He died for all.

20. The first Christians that invited me to preach were the Methodist
Reformers of Wolverhampton. The next were the Primitive Methodists of
Tunstall and Bilston. The Primitive Methodists at Tunstall invited me to
join their community, and as soon as I consistently could, I did so. I
was afterwards accepted as a local preacher. My labors as a preacher and
lecturer have been mostly in connection with that community. I was
specially struck with the zeal, the labors, and the usefulness of the
Primitive Methodists while on my way from the wilds of error; and my
intercourse with its ministers and members since I became a Christian,
has proved to me an unspeakable comfort and blessing. I have received
from them the greatest kindness: and I pray God that I may prove a
comfort and a blessing to them in return.

21. I had great sacrifices to make when I renounced my connection with
the unbelievers and became a Christian, and for some time I and my
family had experience of severe trials. We had to give up our old
business, and it seemed impossible to obtain a new one, and for a time
we were threatened with the bitterness of want. We were unwilling to
ask a favor of any Christian party, lest our motives for embracing
Christianity should be suspected; and at times I felt perplexed and sad.
One day my eldest son, seeing I was depressed, said, "Father, dear,
don't be troubled. We must trust in God now. I _do_ trust in Him; and I
am so happy to think that we are all Christians, that I can bear
anything." God bless his dear good soul. We did trust in God, and He
sustained us. He supplied our wants. He overruled all things for our
good. And we can now say, "The lines have fallen to us in pleasant
places; we have a goodly heritage."

22. I have met with some unpleasantnesses since my return to Christ; but
I am not sure that they are worth naming; and for the present they shall
remain unnamed. I have met with many things of a very pleasant
character. Thousands that followed me into doubt have come back with me
to Christianity. Thousands that were sinking, were saved by my
conversion. I believe I may say thousands of unbelievers that were not
led into doubt by me, have been redeemed from their wretchedness through
my example and labors. Some young ministers have been kept from rash and
ruinous steps by the story of my experience. Many believers have been
strengthened in their faith and encouraged in their Christian labors
under my sermons and lectures. Many have been benefited by my
publications. My family has been greatly comforted and blessed. The
power of the infidel class has been diminished. I have myself enjoyed a
kind and a degree of happiness that I never enjoyed while the slave of
doubt and unbelief. And it is a great consolation to think that I was
brought to God while in my health and strength, and that I have now been
permitted to spend from eleven to twelve years in the work of Christ.
Another great comfort is, that my circumstances are such as to enable me
to give some proof of my devotion to the cause of Christ; of my infinite
preference of the religion of Christ, both to the miserable philosophy
of unbelief, and to the wretched fictions of ignorant or anti-Christian
divines.

23. I read quite a multitude of books on my way back to Christ, and if I
had time, I would give some account of the influence which some of them
made on my mind. But I have not. It may seem strange, but I had sunk
below the level of ancient Paganism, and the books which I read on my
first awaking to a consciousness that I was wrong, were Pagan works. I
read much in Plato and Aristotle, Cicero and Seneca, for a time, and
then in Plutarch, M. A. Antonine, and Epictetus. The works of Epictetus,
with the comments of Simplicius, proved exceedingly profitable. I then
read the writings of Theodore Parker, Dr. Channing, and some of the
works of Dr. Priestley, and got good from all. They all helped to
inspire me with a horror of Atheism, and to strengthen my faith in God,
and in His boundless and eternal love. I next read a number of my own
works, beginning with those that were somewhat skeptical, and reading
backwards, to those which were Christian. I then read freely my old
companions and favorites, including Hooker, Baxter, and Howe; Jeremy
Taylor, William Law, and Bishop Butler. I read Shakespeare freely, and
Pope, and then Thomson, and Goldsmith, and Young, and Cowper, and
Tennyson, and several others of our poets. Then came the works of
Carlyle, Burke, Penn, and Wesley; of Robert Hall, and Dr. Cooke, and Mr.
Newton; and the writings of Paley and Grotius. I also read Guizot's
_History of Civilization_, and those portions of Dr. Henry's _History of
England_ that referred to the Church and Christianity. Still later I
read Augustine's _Confessions_, Montalembert's _Monks of the West_, and
everything I could find to illustrate the history of Christianity.

I was delighted, transported, with many of Wesley's hymns. I found in
them an amount of truth, and beauty, and richness of good feeling, I had
never found in them before. I read many of the hymns of Watts with great
pleasure, as well as several collections of hymns and poetry by Roundell
Palmer and others. I also read the writings of Chalmers, Whewell, and
Lord Brougham on natural theology, and the works of several other
authors on that subject.

At a later period I read something in Neander, Lange, and others on the
life of Christ. Still later I read Young's _Christ of History_, with
Renan and _Ecce Homo_. Renan tried me very much. He seemed to write in
the scoffing spirit of Voltaire, and I laid the book aside before I got
to the end. _Ecce Homo_ delighted me exceedingly. I read it a dozen
times. I studied it, and it did me a great deal of good. It both
strengthened my faith in Christ, and increased my love to Him. Still
later I read _Ecce Deus_ with pleasure and profit.

The book however that did me most good was the Bible. I came to it
continually, as to an overflowing fountain, and drank of its waters with
ever-increasing delight.

24. I began to preach before I was fit; but I never might have been fit,
if I had not begun. I became fit by working while unfit. And my
imperfect labors proved a blessing to many.

25. There was much prejudice against me at first; but not more than I
had reason to expect; and it gradually gave place to confidence and kind
feeling. Some said I ought to remain silent a few years; but as I did
not know what a few years or even a few days might bring forth, I
thought it best to speak at once. I had spoken freely enough on the
wrong side, and I saw no reason why I should not speak as freely and at
once on the right side. Nor do I regret the course I took. It was the
best. Some that thought otherwise at first, think as I do now. For
instance, when Mr. Everett first heard that some of his friends had
invited me to preach for them, he was very angry, and said I ought never
to speak or show my face again in public as long as I lived. In less
than four years he came to hear me, was much affected, shook me by the
hand, thanked me, invited me to his house, showed me his library, and
his museum of Methodist antiquities and curiosities, offered me a home
in his house, and was as kind to me as a father.

I never quarrelled with people for regarding me with distrust or fear,
though I often checked my over-zealous friends, who were disposed to
quarrel with all who did not regard me with the same amount of love and
confidence as themselves.

I have never defended myself against slanderers, either by word or
writing, except when justice to my friends has seemed to require it.

I have never complained of any disadvantages under which I have labored.
It is right that a man who has erred as I have, should have something
unpleasant in his lot to remind him of his error, and render him more
careful and prayerful for the time to come: and there is to me a
pleasure in doing penance for my faults.

26. I have never thrown the whole blame of my errors on others, nor have
I ever seen reason to take the whole to myself. God alone is able to
distribute praise and blame, rewards and punishments, according to men's
deserts, and to Him I leave the task. At first I was disposed to be very
severe towards myself: but two years' experience in the religious body
that I first joined, of a kind of treatment resembling that of my early
days, satisfied me that I ought to judge myself a little more leniently.
I would not however be unduly severe towards others. I cannot tell, when
a man does me wrong, how far he may be under the influence of
unavoidable error, and how far he may be under the influence of a wicked
will. I may be able to measure the injustice of the act, but not the
wickedness of the actor. God alone can do that. A man's treatment of me
may satisfy me that I ought not to place myself in his power; but cannot
justify me in saying of him that he deserves the damnation of hell. The
rule with regard to men's deserts is, "Judge not, that ye be not
judged."

27. But when I have made the most liberal allowance for myself, and even
while I feel satisfied that in my investigations my object was the
discovery of truth, and that my errors were wholly unintentional, I must
still feel ashamed and mortified at the thought that I was so weak as to
be capable of such grievous errors. Even when I take into account the
imperfection of my education, and the disadvantages of my situation, and
all the temptations by which I was assailed, I am still ashamed and
humbled, and feel that my place is in the dust. But if, while prostrate,
God says to me, "Arise!" shall I resist the call? If in the exercise of
His love He restores to me the joys of His salvation, and bids me speak
and labor in His cause, shall I not thankfully obey the heavenly voice?
Shall I carry my humility to the extreme of disobedience? Shall I not
rather arise, and, with a cheerful and joyous heart, do my Saviour what
service I can? I will not presume to usurp the prerogative of God, even
to judge and punish myself. I will leave myself to Him, the merciful and
all-knowing, and He shall do with me what He sees best. I will not
reject His mercy. I will not resist His will. Let Him do what seemeth to
Him good, whether it be in the way of tenderness or of severity. It has
pleased Him, thus far, to mingle much compassion with His chastisements,
and His goodness calls for gratitude and joy.

28. And as I act towards God, I will act towards His people. If they
frown on me, I will take it patiently; but if they welcome me with
demonstrations of affection, I will rejoice. If they close their pulpits
against me, I will say, "Your will be done." If they open them to me, I
will enter, and, to the best of my ability, declare the counsel of God.
A portion of God's people,--a large and most worthy portion--have
received me graciously; and my duty is, and my endeavor, I trust, will
be, to reciprocate their love and confidence. I say with the poet:--

     "People of the living God,
        I have sought the world around,
      Paths of doubt and sorrow trod,
        Peace and comfort nowhere found;
      Now to you my spirit turns,
        Turns, a fugitive unblest;
      Brethren, where your altar burns
        O receive me to your rest.

     "Lonely I no longer roam,
        Like the cloud, the wind, the wave;
      Where you dwell shall be my home,
        Where you die shall be my grave;
      Mine the God whom you adore,
        Your Redeemer shall be mine;
      Earth can fill my heart no more,
        All my joys shall be divine."

29. It seems strange that I should have been permitted to wander into
doubt and unbelief, and live so long under its darkness and horrors.
There is a mystery about it that I cannot understand. But what I know
not now, I may know hereafter. The mystery of Job's trial was explained
when his afflictions were at an end. The mystery of my strange trial is
still wrapt up in darkness. True, my strange experience has not been an
unmixed calamity. It has brought me advantages which I could not
otherwise have enjoyed. I know things which I never could have known, if
I had always remained within the enclosures of the Church, and under the
influence of Christianity. And my heart is more subdued to the will of
God. I am more at one with Him than I ever was before. I love Him more.
I love Jesus more. I love His religion more. I have a clearer view and a
fuller knowledge of its infinite worth. I have, of course, a fuller
knowledge of the horrors of infidelity. And my faith in God and
Christianity rests on a firmer foundation than it did in my early days.
Many things which I once only _believed_, I now _know_. Many things for
which I had formerly only the testimony of others, I now know to be true
by my own experience. There are quite a multitude of things on which I
have greater certainty, and on which I can, in consequence, speak with
more authority than in my early days. There are, too, cases of doubt
which I can meet, which formerly I could not have met. I can make more
allowances too, than formerly, for those who are troubled with doubt, or
ensnared by error. And my preaching, in some cases, is more powerful.
And I am more free from bigotry and intolerance. While I see more to
love and admire in the Church generally, I love _all_ hard-working
churches without partiality. I think less of the points on which they
differ, and more of the points on which they agree. They appear to me
more as one church. There are many points on which I might once have
engaged in controversy, which now appear of little or no moment. While I
have more zeal for God, I have more charity for men.

There are many things in Wesley's hymns, and many things in other hymns,
which formerly I did not understand or appreciate, or understood and
appreciated but very imperfectly, which now I understand more perfectly,
and prize more highly. And so with many things in the Bible.

30. And I have, at times, and have had for years, strange glimpses of
the magnificence and wondrousness of the universe; startling views of
the awful grandeur and movements of its huge orbs, and of the terrible
working of its great forces, and an overpowering sight and sense of the
presence and power of the living God in all, which I never had in my
earlier days. And I have often had, and still have, at times, strange
feelings of the fact and mystery of existence: of my own existence, and
of the existence of other beings, and of God.

31. And I have, at times, strange feelings with regard to the infinite
value of life and consciousness, and of my intellectual and moral
powers. And I have pleasant and wonderful thoughts and feelings with
regard to the lower animals, as the creatures of God, my Father; and as
manifestations of His goodness, and wisdom, and power; and as sharers
with me of an infinite Father's love. And I love them as I never loved
them in my earlier days. I feel happier in their company. I listen with
more pleasure to the songs of birds, and gaze with more delight on every
living thing. The earth and its inhabitants are new to me. The plants
and flowers are new. The universe is new. I am new to myself. All things
are new. It seems, at times, as if the new, enlarged, and higher life of
which I have become conscious through my strange experience, were worth
the fearful price which I have paid for it.

32. But then again I think of the time I spent in sin and folly,--of the
mischief I did in those dark days,--of the grief I caused to so many
good and godly souls,--of the sorrows I entailed on those most dear to
me, and of the terrible disadvantages under which I labor, and under
which I must always labor, in consequence of my unaccountable errors,
and I am confounded and dismayed. But then, on the other hand, I am
reminded that I did not sin wilfully,--that I did not err purposely or
wantonly,--that what I did amiss I did in ignorance,--that I verily
believed myself in the way of duty when I went astray,--that I was
influenced by a desire to know the truth,--that I believed myself, at
the outset, bound as a Christian, and as a creature of God, to use my
faculties to the utmost in searching the Scriptures, and exploring
Nature, in pursuit of truth,--that when I advocated infidel views, I
advocated them believing them to be true, and believing that truth must
be most conducive to the virtue and happiness of mankind. True,
appearances were against me; but I felt myself bound, even when an
unbeliever, to "walk by faith,"--by faith in principles which I supposed
myself to have found to be true. My life, even in my worst condition,
was a life of self-sacrifice for what I regarded as eternal truth. When
I gave up my belief in a Fatherly God, and my faith in a blessed
immortality, I believed myself to be making a sacrifice at the shrine of
truth. I thought I heard her voice from the infinite universe demanding
the surrender, and conscience compelled me to comply with the demand. I
felt the dreadful nature of the sacrifice, but what could I do?

I remember the words I uttered, and I remember the mingled emotions
which filled and agitated my soul, on that occasion. I was distressed at
the terrible necessity of giving up the cherished idols of my soul, yet
I was filled for a moment with a strange delight at the thought that I
was doing my duty in compliance with the stern demands of eternal law,
and the dread realities of universal being. And I hoped against hope
that the result would all be right.

I weep when I read the strange words which I uttered on that dark and
terrible occasion. I said to myself, "The last remains of my religious
faith are gone. The doctrines of a personal God, and of a future life, I
am compelled to regard as the offspring, not of the understanding, but
of the imagination and affections." It is no easy matter to wean
one's-self from flattering and long cherished illusions. It is no easy
matter to believe that doctrines which have been almost universally
received, and which have been so long and so generally regarded as
essential to the virtue and happiness of mankind--doctrines, too, which
have mingled their mighty influences with so much of the beautiful and
sublime in human history, and which still, to so many, form all the
poetry and romance, almost all the interest and grandeur and blessedness
of human life, have no foundation in truth. To persons who believe in a
Fatherly God, and in human immortality, pure naturalism is terribly
uninviting. It was always so to me. I well remember the mingled horror
and pity with which, when a Christian, I regarded the man who had no
personal God, and no hope of a future life. I remember too how I wrote
or spoke of such. I mourned over them as the most hapless and miserable
of all living beings. Yet I myself have come at length, by slow degrees,
after a thousand struggles, and with infinite reluctance, to the dread
conclusion, that a personal God and an immortal life are fictions of the
human mind. Yet existence has not quite lost its charms, nor life its
enjoyments. There is something infinitely grand, and unspeakably
exciting and elevating in the consciousness of having made a sacrifice
of the most popular and bewitching of all illusions, out of respect to
truth. It was an enviable state of mind which prompted, the grand and
thrilling exclamation, "Let justice be done, though the heavens should
fall." And that state of mind is no less enviable which can sustain a
man in the sacrifice of God and immortality at the shrine of truth. Such
a sacrifice, accompanied, as it must be in the present state of society,
with a thousand other sacrifices of reputation, friendships, popular
pleasures, and social favor, is an exercise of the highest virtue, a
demonstration of the greatest magnanimity, and is accompanied or
followed with an intensity of satisfaction which none but the
martyr-spirit of truth can conceive. It is often said by Christians,
that the reason why persons doubt the existence of God and a future life
is, that they have good cause to dread them; or, as Grotius expresses
it, that they live in such a way that it would be to their interest that
there should be no God or future life. This was not the case with me. My
unbelief came upon me while I was diligently striving in all things to
do God's will. My virtue outlived my faith.

"Born of Methodist parents, and reared under Christian influences, and a
Christian myself, and even a Christian minister for many years, I was
brought slowly and reluctantly, in spite of a world of prejudices, and
in spite of interests and associations and tastes all but almighty in
their influence, to the conclusion, that pure, unmixed Naturalism alone
accorded with what was known of the present state and the past history
of the universe. I say I was brought to these conclusions in spite of a
world of opposing influences. While a Christian, all that the world
could promise or bestow seemed to be within my reach. Friends,
popularity, wealth, power, fame; and visions of infinite usefulness to
others, and of unbounded happiness to myself in the future, were all
promised me as the reward of continued devotion to the cause of God and
Christianity. As the reward of heresy and unbelief, I had to encounter
suspicion, desertion, hatred, reproach, persecution, want, grief of
friends and kindred, anxious days and sleepless nights, and almost every
extreme of mental anguish. Still, inquiry forced me into heresy further
and further every year, and brought me at length to the extreme of doubt
and unbelief."

It was, then, in no light mood that I gave up my faith in God, and
Christ, and immortality. The change in my views was no headlong, hasty
freak. It was the result of long and serious thought--of misguided, but
honest, conscientious study. And hence I have sometimes thought, and am
still inclined to think, that God had a hand in the matter--that He led
me, or permitted me to wander, along that strange and sorrowful road,
and to pass through those dreary and dolorous scenes, and drink so
deeply of so dreadful a cup of sorrow, for some good end. "He maketh the
wrath of man to praise Him," and perhaps he may turn our errors also to
good account. I am not disposed to believe that my life has been a
failure. It may, for anything I know, prove to have been a great
success. "Men are educated largely by their mistakes," says one. It
hardly seems likely that God would suffer a well-intentioned, though
weak and erring child, to ruin either himself or others for ever. God is
good, and the future will justify His ways, and all His saints shall
praise Him.

My business meanwhile is, to do what I can to promote the interests of
truth, and the welfare of mankind. I must, so far as possible, redeem
lost time. I have a thousand causes for gratitude, and none for
complaint. I am very happy in general; as happy as I desire to be, and
as happy, I expect, as it is good for me to be. I sometimes feel as if
I were _too_ happy. And I certainly never ask God to make me _more_
happy. I ask Him to make me wiser, and better, and more useful, but not
more happy. At times my cup of joy runs over. It is strange it should be
so, yet so it is. But joy and sorrow are often found in company. Paul
says of himself, "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." The author of _Ecce
Deus_ says, "The good man's life is one unbroken repentance. Throughout
his life he suffers on account of his sins. What, then of joy?" he asks:
and he answers, "It is contemporaneous with sorrow. They are
inseparable. The joy that is born of sorrow is the only joy that is
enduring." It may seem strange, but it is true, the last year of my life
has been the happiest I ever experienced.



CHAPTER XX.

A FEW OF THE LESSONS I HAVE LEARNED ON MY WAY THROUGH LIFE.


And now for a few of the lessons which I have learned on my way through
life.

1. One, alas! is, that it is very difficult to bring young people to
benefit by the experience of their elders. It would be a happy thing if
we could put old men's heads on young men's shoulders; but no method of
performing the operation has, as yet, been hit upon. It might answer as
well, if old men could empty their heads into the heads of the young.
But this is a task almost as difficult as the former. The heads of the
young are generally full of foolish thoughts, and vain conceits, and
wild dreams of what they are to be, and do, and enjoy in the days to
come, with large admixtures at times of more objectionable materials; so
that there is no room for the counsels and admonitions of their elders.
Then there are some who do not _like_ to be counselled or admonished.
Having set their minds on the attainment of a certain object, they are
unwilling to listen to any but such as commend their course, and
encourage them with promises of success. There are others who think
they have no need of counsel or admonition. Counsel and admonition are
proper enough for some people, but they are not required in their case,
they imagine. They do not exactly think themselves beings of a superior
order, beyond the reach of ordinary dangers; but they _act_ as if they
thought so. In words they would acknowledge themselves to be but men,
liable to the common frailties of their race; but their conduct seems to
say, "It is impossible _we_ should ever err or sin as some men do; we
are better constructed, and are born to a happier lot." Their purpose is
to do right, and it never enters their minds that they can ever do
wrong. And if you tell them that they are in danger of becoming
intemperate, or skeptical, or of falling into any great error or sin,
they feel hurt, and say, "Do you suppose we are dogs that we should do
such things?" Dogs or not, when the time of trial comes, they do them.
And then they discover, that men are not always so wise, so good, or so
strong as they suppose themselves; that people may be the subjects of
weaknesses of which they are utterly unconscious, till assailed by some
unlooked for temptation; and they mourn at the last, and say, "How have
we hated instruction, and despised the counsel of the Holy One." And now
they see that the strongest need a stronger one than themselves to
shield them, and that the wisest need a wiser one than themselves to
guide them, if they are to be kept from harm.

We have no disposition to be severe with such persons, for we belonged
to the same unhappy class ourselves. It never once entered our minds in
our earlier days, that we could ever fall away from Christ. We saw that
others were in danger, but we never supposed we were in danger
ourselves. We preached from the text, "Let him that thinketh he
standeth, take heed lest he fall," and we pressed the solemn warning on
our hearers with the greatest earnestness; but we never applied it to
ourselves. We supposed ourselves secure. And if any one had told us that
we should one day cease to be a Christian, and above all, if any man had
said that we should fall into unbelief, and be ranked with the opponents
of Christianity, we should have thought him insolent or mad. Yet we know
what followed. We cannot therefore deal harshly with our too
self-confident brethren. But we must give them faithful warning. Be on
your guard, my dear young friends. You are not so free from defects, nor
so far from danger, as your conscious innocence, or the great deceiver,
may insinuate. There may be tendencies to evil within you, and
temptations in the mysterious world around you, of the character and
force of which you have no conception. It was as great and good a man as
you perhaps that said,

     "Weaker than a bruised reed,
     Help I every moment need."

And he was wise that said,--

     "Beware of Peter's words,
       Nor confidently say,
     'I never _will_ deny thee, Lord;'
       But, 'Grant I never may.'"

There are devices of the wicked one of which you are not yet aware;
"depths of Satan" which you have not yet fathomed; and terrible
possibilities of which, as yet, you have never dreamed. I say again, Be
on your guard. "Be not high-minded, but fear." "Blessed is the man that
feareth always." None are so weak as those who think themselves strong.
None are in such danger as those who think themselves secure.

Man, even at best, is not so great, so wise, so strong, as some are
prone to suppose: and when, cut off from Christ and His people, from the
Bible and prayer, he trusts in his own resources, he is poor, and weak,
and frail in the extreme. There are no errors, no extravagances, no
depths of degradation, into which the lawless self-reliant man may not
fall. When I had lost my faith in Christ, and had freed myself from all
restraints of Bible authority and Church discipline, I said to myself,
"I will be a MAN; all that a man acting freely, giving his soul
full scope, tends naturally to become; and I will be nothing else." I
had come to the conclusion that man was naturally good--that, when
freely and fully developed, apart from the authority of religion,
churches and books, he would become the perfection of wisdom, and
goodness, and happiness. I said to myself, "Christ was but a man; and
the reason why He so much excelled all other men was, that He acted
freely, without regard to the traditions of the elders, the law of
Moses, or any authority but that of His own untrammelled mind. I will
follow the same course. I will free myself from the prejudices of my
education, from the influence of my surroundings, and from the authority
of all existing laws and religions, and be my own sole ruler, my own
sole counsellor, my own sole guide. I will act with regard to the
religion of Christ, as Christ acted with regard to the religion of
Moses; obey it, abolish it, or modify it, as its different parts may
require. I will act with regard to the Church authorities of my time as
Jesus acted with regard to the Scribes and Pharisees of His day; I will
set them aside. I will be a man; a free, self-ruled, and self-developed
man."

Alas, I little knew the terrible possibilities of the nature of man when
left to itself. I had no conception of its infinite weakness with regard
to what is good, or its fearful capabilities with regard to what is bad.
I had no idea of the infinite amount of evil that lay concealed in the
human heart, ready, when unrepressed, to unfold itself, and take all
horrible forms of vice and folly. I indulged myself in my mad
experiments of unlimited freedom till appalled by the melancholy
results. I did not become _all_ that unchecked license could make me;
but I became so different a creature from what I had anticipated, that I
saw the madness of my resolution, and recoiled. I came to the verge of
all evil. God had mercy on me and held me back in spite of my impiety,
or I should have become a monster of iniquity. Man was not made for
unlimited liberty. He was made for subjection to the Divine will, and
for obedience to God's law. He was made for fellowship with the good
among his fellow-men, and for submission to Christian discipline. He can
become good and great and happy only by faith in God and Christ, by
self-denial, by good society, by careful moral and religious culture,
and by constant prayer and dependence on God. I now no longer say, "I
will be a _man_;" but, "Let me be a Christian." I no longer say, "I will
be all that my nature, working unchecked, will make me;" but, "Let me
be all that Christ and Christianity can make me. Let me check all
tempers at variance with the mind of Christ; and all tendencies at
variance with His precepts. Let the mouth of that fearful abyss which
lies deep down in my nature be closed, and let the infernal fires that
smoulder there be utterly smothered; and let the love of God and the
love of man reign in me, producing a life of Christ-like piety and
beneficence. Let all I have and all I am be a sacrifice to God in
Christ, and used in the cause of truth and righteousness for the welfare
of mankind."

The enemy of man has many devices. In my case, as in the case of so many
others, he transformed himself into "an angel of light." He did not say,
"Give up your work: forsake Christ; desert His Church; indulge your
appetites; give yourself to selfish, sensual pleasure; free yourself
from religious restraint, from moral control, from scruples of
conscience, and live for gain, or fame, or power." On the contrary; his
counsel was, "Perfect your creed; perfect your knowledge; reform the
Church; expose its corruptions; reform the ministry; expose its errors;
go back to the simplicity of Christ; return to the order of the ancient
Church; pay no regard to prevailing sentiments, or to established
customs; begin anew. Resolve on perfection; it is attainable; be content
with nothing less. Assert your rights. Be true. Prove all things; hold
fast to what is good, but cast away whatever you find to be evil. Call
no one master but Christ; and what Christ requires, ask no one but
yourself. Be true to your own conscience. God has called you to restore
the Church to its purity, to its simplicity, to its ancient power. Be
faithful, and fear no opposition. Free inquiry must lead to truth, and
truth is infinitely desirable. Assail error; assail men's inventions;
spare nothing but what is of God. It is God's own work you are doing; it
is the world's salvation for which you are laboring; and God's own
Spirit will guide you, and His power will keep you from harm." All this
was true; but it was truth without the needful accompaniment of pious
caution. It was true, but it was truth without the needful amount of
humility, of meekness, of gentleness, and of self-distrust. It was
truth, but it was truth put in such a form as to do the work of
falsehood. It was an appeal to pride, to self-conceit, to
self-sufficiency. It was truth presented in such a shape, as to abate
the sense of my dependence on God; as to make me forgetful of my own
imperfections; as to exclude from my mind all thoughts of danger, and so
prepare me for mistakes, mishaps, and ultimately ruin. It is not enough
to aim at good objects: we must be humble; we must be sensible that our
sufficiency is of God; we must be conscious of our own weakness, of our
own imperfections, and of our own danger, and move with care, and
watchfulness, and prayer. We must not please ourselves with thoughts of
the wonders we will achieve, of the services we will render to the
world, and of the honor we shall gain; but cherish the feeling that God
is all, and be content that He alone shall be glorified. We are but
earthen vessels; the excellency of the power is of God.

O my poor soul, how do I grieve when I think of thy early dreams, and of
thy sad awakening. Like Adam, I lived in a Paradise of bliss, suspecting
no evil, and dreading no change. I had been trained to piety from my
earliest years. The Bible was my delight. Christ and Christianity were
my glory and joy. The Church was my home. To preach the Gospel, to
defend God's cause, and to labor for the salvation of the world, were
the delight of my life. I was successful. I was popular. I had many
friends, and was passionately beloved. Wherever I went, men hailed me as
their spiritual father. The chapels in which I preached were crowded to
their utmost capacity, and men regarded me as the champion of
Christianity. They applauded my labors in its behalf, and testified
their esteem and admiration by unmistakable signs. At one time I might
have applied to myself the words of Job, "When the ear heard me, then it
blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me. The young
men saw me, and gave me reverence; and the aged arose and stood up. Unto
me men gave ear, and waited; and kept silence at my counsel. They waited
for my words as for the showers; and opened their mouths as for the
latter rain. I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king
in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners." And everything
seemed to foretell a continuance of my happy lot. My prejudices and my
convictions, my tastes and my affections, my habits and my inclinations,
my interests and my family, all joined to bind me to the cause of Christ
by the strongest bonds. And I seemed as secure to others as to myself.
Hence I looked forward to a life of ever-increasing usefulness,
reflecting credit on my family and friends, and conferring blessings on
mankind at large. I revelled in hopes of a reformed Church, and a
regenerated world; and, passing the bounds of time, my spirit exulted in
the prospect of a glorious immortality. Yet "when I looked for good then
evil came; and when I waited for light there came darkness." I fell
away. My happy thoughts, my joyous hopes, my delightful prospects, all
vanished. I underwent a most melancholy transformation. The eyes that
gazed on me with affectionate rapture, now stared at me with affright
and terror; and brave, stout men wept over me like children. The light
of my life was extinguished. My dwelling was in darkness. "I was a
brother to dragons, and a companion to owls." And there was nothing
before me but the dreary prospect of a return to nothingness. And can
you, my young friends, dream of safety with facts like these in view?
Again, I say, be on your guard. An easy, dreamy self-security is the
extreme of madness. Our only safety is in watchfulness and prayer. Our
only sufficiency is of God.

     "O, never suffer me to sleep
       Secure within the reach of hell;
     But still my watchful spirit keep
       In lowly awe and loving zeal:
     And bless me with a godly fear,
     And plant that guardian angel here."

2. The second lesson I would name is this: It is dangerous to allow bad
feeling to get into your hearts towards your Christian friends, or your
brother ministers. It is especially dangerous to allow it to remain
there. It works like the infection of the plague. Try therefore to keep
your minds in a calm and comfortable state towards all with whom you
have to do. Guard against rash judgments and groundless suspicions; or
you may take offence when no offence is meant. But even when people do
you harm on purpose, it is best to be forbearing. We never know the
force of temptation under which men act; or the misconceptions under
which they labor. We may ourselves have caused their misdoings by some
unconscious error of our own. It is well to suspect ourselves sometimes
of unknown faults, and to go on the supposition that what appears
unkindness in others towards us, may be the result of some unguarded
word or inconsiderate action on our part towards them. 2. Keep your
hearts as full as possible of Christian love. The more abundant your
love, the less will be your liability either to give or take offence. 3.
And do not overrate the importance of men's misconduct towards you. We
are not so much in the power of others as we are prone to imagine. The
world is governed by God, and no one can hurt us against His will. Do
that which is right, and you and your interests are secure. So take
things comfortably. And try to overcome evil with good. And if you find
the task a hard one, seek help from God.

3. Another lesson which I have learned on my way through life is, that
it is dangerous to indulge a spirit of controversy. There may be
occasions when controversy is a duty; but it is best, as a rule, just to
state what you believe to be the truth, and leave it to work its way in
silence. If people oppose it, misrepresent it, or ridicule it, then
state it again at the proper time, with becoming meekness and
gentleness, and then commit it to the care of its great Patron. It is
difficult to run into controversy without falling into sin. Men need to
be very wise and good to be able to go through a controversy honorably
and usefully; and by the time they are qualified for the dangerous work,
they prefer more peaceful employment. Controversy always tends to
produce excess of warmth, and warmth of a dangerous kind. It often
degenerates into a quarrel, and ends in shame. Men go from principles to
personalities; and instead of seeking each other's instruction, try only
to humble and mortify each other. They begin perhaps with a love of
truth, but they end with a struggle for victory. They try to deal fairly
at the outset, but become unscrupulous at last, and say or do anything
that seems likely to harass or injure their opponents. The beginning of
strife is like the letting out of water from a reservoir; there is first
a drop, then a trickle, then a headlong rushing torrent, bearing down
all before it, and sweeping away men and their works to destruction. It
is best, therefore, to take the advice of the proverb, and "leave off
contention before it be meddled with."

4. Another lesson that I have learnt on my way through life is, that
ministers should deal very tenderly with their younger brethren. They
should teach them, so far as they are able, and check them when they see
them doing anything really wrong; but they should never interfere
needlessly with their spiritual freedom. Young men of mind and
conscience _will_ think. They will test their creeds by the Sacred
Oracles, and endeavor to bring them into harmony with the teachings of
Christ and His Apostles. And it is right they should. It is their duty,
as they have opportunity, to "prove all things." And few young men, of
any considerable powers, can compare the creeds which they receive in
their childhood with the teachings of Sacred Scripture, without coming
to the conclusion, that on some points they are erroneous, and on others
defective; that on some subjects they contain too much, and on others
too little. And good young men will naturally feel disposed to lay aside
what they regard as erroneous, and to accept what presents itself to
their minds as true. In some cases they will make mistakes. The only men
that never think wrong, are those who never think at all. There never
was a child born into the world that learned to walk without stumbling
occasionally, and at times even falling outright. And there never was a
spiritual child that learned to travel in the paths of religious
investigation, without falling at times into error. But what is to be
done on such occasions? What does the mother do when her baby falls?
Does she run and kick the poor little creature, and say, "You naughty,
dirty tike, if ever you try to walk again, I will throw you into the
gutter?" On the contrary, she runs and catches up the dear little thing;
and if it has hurt itself, she kisses the place to make it well, and
says, "Try again, my darling; try again." And it _does_ try again: and
in course of time it learns to walk as steadily as its mother; and when
she begins to stagger under the infirmities of age, it takes her hand,
and steadies her goings.

And so it should be in spiritual matters. When a good young man falls
into error, we should treat him with the tenderness and affection of a
mother. "We were gentle among you," says Paul to the Thessalonians,
"even as a nurse cherisheth her children." And this is the example that
we should follow towards our younger brethren. Whether we would keep
them from erring, or bring them back when they go astray, we should
treat them tenderly.... We should try to win their love and confidence.
Men can often be led, when they cannot be driven. There are numbers who,
if you attempt to drive them, will run the contrary way; who, if you
treat them with respect, and show them that you love them, will follow
you where-ever you may go.

But you must give them time. They cannot always come right all at once.
When a fisherman angles for large fish, he provides himself with a
flexible, elastic rod, and a good long length of line; and when he has
hooked his prey, he gives it the line without stint, and allows it to
dart to and fro, and plunge and flounder at pleasure, till it has tired
itself well, and then he brings it to the bank with ease. If he were to
attempt to drag the fish to the shore at once, by main force, it would
snap his rod, or break his line, and get away into the deep; and he
would lose both his fish and his tackle. And so it is in the world of
mind. When we have to do with vigorous and active-minded young men, we
must allow their intellects a little play. We must wait till they begin
to feel their weakness. We must place a little confidence in them, and
give them a chance both of finding out their deficiencies, and of
developing their strength.

It would not be amiss if elder preachers could go on the supposition
that they are not quite perfect or infallible themselves,--that it is
possible that their brethren may discover some truth in Scripture, that
has not yet found its way into their creed; or detect some error in
their creed, that has lurked there unsuspected for ages. And they ought
to be willing to learn, as well as disposed to teach.

But in any case, if our studious young brethren miss their way
sometimes, we must be kind and gentle towards them, and in our endeavors
to save them, must proceed with care. Deal harshly with them, and you
drive them into heresy or unbelief. Deal gently and lovingly with them,
and you bring them back to the truth. How often the disciples of Jesus
erred with regard to the nature of His kingdom, and the means by which
it was to be established. Yet how patiently He bore with them. And in
this, as in other things, He has left us an example that we should tread
in His steps. The sun keeps the planets within their spheres, and even
brings back the comets from their far-off wanderings, by the gentle
power of attraction. And the Sun of Righteousness keeps His spiritual
planets in their orbits, and brings from the blackness of darkness the
stars that wander, by the same sweet power. And the secondary lights of
the world must keep their satellites in their orbits, and bring back to
their spheres the stars that fall or lose their way, by kindred
influences. The mightiest and divinest power in the universe is
LOVE.

5. And now comes a lesson to the young thinkers. Suppose your elder
brethren should treat you unkindly; suppose they should discourage your
search after truth, and require you to conform your creed to their own
ideas, and your way of speaking to their own old style of expression;
suppose that they should look with suspicion on your endeavors to come
nearer to the truth, and, whenever you give utterance to a thought or an
expression at variance with their own, should denounce you as heretics,
and threaten you with excommunication, what should you do?

We answer, go quietly on in the fear of the Lord. Make no complaint, but
prepare yourselves for expulsion. When expelled, go quietly to some
Church that can tolerate your freedom, and work there in peace as the
servants of God. Cherish no resentment. Commit your cause to God, and,
laboring to do His will, leave Him to choose your lot.

Even the trials that come from the ignorance or wickedness of men, are
of God's appointment. We are taught that it was by God's ordination
that Judas betrayed Christ; that God employed the wickedness of the
traitor for the accomplishment of His great designs. David said,
referring to Shimei, "Let him curse, for God hath commanded him." God
employed the wickedness of Shimei, to try and punish David. Wesley has
embodied the sentiment in one of his hymns, as follows:

     "Lord, I adore Thy gracious will;
     Through every instrument of ill
       My Father's goodness see:
     Accept the complicated wrong
     Of Shimei's hand, and Shimei's tongue,
       As kind rebukes from Thee."

Joseph said, God had sent him down to Egypt to save many souls alive.
His wicked brethren were only the instruments of his banishment. _They_
meant it for _evil_, _God_ turned it to _good_. And so in your case: God
may be using the ignorance or the wickedness of your persecutors to
separate you from a body for which you are not fitted, and to place you
in one where you will be more useful and more happy. When we do right,
God will make the errors, and even the sins of our enemies, work for our
good.

6. Another lesson which I have thoroughly learnt is, that though men may
become unbelievers through other causes than vice, they cannot continue
unbelievers without spiritual and moral loss. The inevitable tendency of
infidelity is to debase men's souls. And here I speak not on the
testimony of others merely, but from extensive observation and personal
experience. I have known numbers whom infidelity has degraded, but none
whom it has elevated. We do not say that every change in a Christian's
belief is demoralizing. Disbelief in error, resulting from increase of
knowledge, may improve his character; but the loss of faith in Christ,
and God, and immortality, can never do otherwise than strengthen a man's
tendencies to vice, and weaken his inclinations towards virtue. When
infidels say that their unbelief has made them more virtuous, they
attach different ideas to the word virtuous from those which Christians
attach to it. They call evil good, and good evil. The secularists call
fornication and adultery virtue. But this is fraud. That infidelity is
unfavorable to what men generally call virtue, and friendly to what men
generally call vice, infidels themselves know. Their passions and
prejudices may make them doubt the bad influence of their unbelief for a
time, but not long. I myself questioned the downward tendency of
infidelity in my own case for a time, but facts proved too strong for me
in the end. My friends could see a deterioration both in my temper and
conduct. And there was a falling off in my zeal and labors for the good
of mankind from the first. There was a falling off even in my talents.
There was a greater tendency to self-indulgence. It was owing to the
still lingering influence of my early faith, and of my early Christian
tastes and habits, that I was no worse. The virtue which I retained I
owed to the religion on which I had unhappily turned my back. When
unbelievers are moral, they are so, not in consequence, but in spite of
their unbelief. When Christian believers are bad, they are so, not in
consequence, but in spite of their religion. Infidelity tends to destroy
conscience. It annihilates the great motives to virtue. It strengthens
the selfish and weakens the benevolent affections and tendencies of our
nature, and smoothes the road to utter depravity. The farther men wander
from Christ, and the longer they remain away, the nearer they approach
to utter degeneracy.

It seldom happens that men who have lived long under the influence of
Christianity, become grossly immoral as soon as they lose their faith:
but they decline in virtue from the first, and utter depravation comes
in time. I have seen a tree growing prostrate on the ground, when many
of its roots had been torn up from the soil; but it grew very poorly;
and the growth it made was owing to the hold which the remainder of its
roots still had on the soil. The branch that is cut off from the tree
may retain a portion of its sap, and show some signs of languishing life
for weeks; but it dies at length. And so with the branches cut off from
the spiritual vine; they gradually wither and decay. The iron taken
white hot from the furnace, does not get cool at once; but it gradually
comes down to the temperature of the atmosphere with which it is
surrounded. The prodigal did not get through his share of his father's
property in a day, but he found himself perishing of hunger at length. A
man does not die the moment he ceases to eat, but he _will_ die if he
_persists_ in his abstinence. A man may live in an unhealthy district,
and breathe unwholesome air for some time, without apparent injury; but
disease will show itself in the end. It is not uncharitableness that
makes us speak thus, but charity itself. It is desirable, that both
believers and unbelievers should know the truth on this important
subject. Infidelity is the enemy of all virtue, and consequently of all
happiness; and it is necessary that this should be generally and
thoroughly known, and that the old-fashioned prejudice against it should
be allowed to keep its ground, and remain as strong as ever. And
Christians must show their charity towards unbelievers, not by abating
men's horror of infidelity, but by endeavoring to deliver them from its
deadly power.

7. And here comes another lesson. Do not suppose that unbelievers are
irreclaimable. There is always good ground to hope for the conversion of
those unbelievers who retain a respect for virtue, if they are properly
treated; and even those who are sunk in vice should not be abandoned in
despair. Several of those who have returned to Christ during the last
ten years, were men who had gone far in various forms of wickedness. And
many of those converts from infidelity of whom we read in old religious
books, were persons of immoral character. And though habits of vice are
not easily broken off, yet the miseries they entail on men may rouse
them to more vigorous efforts for their deliverance. And it sometimes
happens that those who are poor in promise, are rich in performance. You
remember the Saviour's parable of the two sons. The Father said to the
first, "Son, go work to-day in my vineyard." And he answered and said,
"I will not," but afterwards he repented and went. And the father said
to the second, "Go." And he answered and said, "I go, Sir," and went
not. And this, said Christ, is what takes place between Me and mankind.
I say to the fair-seeming people, "Give yourselves to God;" and they
answer, "We will, Lord," but still live on in selfishness and sin. I
say to abandoned profligates, "Give yourselves to God;" and they answer,
"We will not;" but on thinking the matter over, they repent and live to
God. Harlots and publicans enter the kingdom of God, while scribes and
pharisees remain without. The oyster, if you look at its outward
covering, is a "hard case;" yet within, it is soft and tender in the
extreme. The ugliest caterpillar is but an undeveloped butterfly, and in
time, if placed under favorable influences, may leave its crawling, and
mount aloft on wings of gold and silver. And it often happens that the
worst children make the best men. The fiercest persecutor of the early
Church became the chief of the Apostles. He was honest when dragging the
saints to prison; and all that was wanted to make him a preacher of the
faith which he labored so madly to destroy, was LIGHT.

And so it is still. Some of the most unhappy and unpromising of men and
women may require but a gentle word, a glimmer of light, or a
manifestation of your kind concern for their welfare, to win their
hearts to God. It does not appear that any of the early Christians
supposed that there was anything good in the heart of Saul the
persecutor, and nothing is said of any attempt on their part to convince
him of his error. And many, even when they heard he was converted, could
not believe the story. And even Ananias, when told by God Himself that
the converted persecutor was praying, could not get over his fears and
suspicions all at once. When God said, "Go, and help the poor man,"
Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil
he hath done to Thy saints at Jerusalem." But the Lord said unto him,
"Go thy way, haste to his help, for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to
bear My name before the Gentiles, and to kings, and to the children of
Israel." At last Ananias went his way, and visited the praying penitent.
But even after this, when Paul had been preaching for some time with
great success, and had made the greatest sacrifices, and braved even
death itself, in the cause of Christ, there were numbers who doubted his
sincerity. "When he went to Jerusalem, and attempted to join himself to
the disciples, they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he
_was_ a disciple." Barnabas however, good man, took him by the hand, and
succeeded at length in obtaining for him, to some extent, the advantages
of Church fellowship.

Here then we have a couple of lessons; the first is, to seek the
conversion of unbelievers; the second is, to guard against an excess of
skepticism in ourselves with regard to the sincerity of those who appear
to be converted. It would be well in forming our judgments of persons
professing religion, to follow the rule laid down by Christ, "By their
fruits ye shall know them. A good tree cannot bring forth bad fruit, nor
a bad tree good fruit." If men live soberly, righteously, and godly--if
they make great sacrifices, and incur reproach and persecution for
Christ, and labor zealously in His cause, it is no great stretch of
charity to go on the supposition, that their profession of faith in God
and Christ is sincere.

8. But suppose the churches should treat a convert from infidelity as
the church at Jerusalem treated Paul, what should he do? We would say,
Take all quietly, and go zealously on with your work. You are the
servant of God, and not of man; and you must not desert your Master,
because a number of His servants err in their judgment of you, or show,
in their conduct towards you, a lack of charity. Serve your Redeemer all
the more faithfully. This was the course which Paul took. He "increased
the more in strength;" and he abounded the more in labors. It would be a
poor excuse for the neglect of your duty to God and Christ, to
yourselves and your fellow creatures, to say, "The churches did not
treat us as kindly as they ought; they doubted our sincerity." Such
conduct would not only be exceedingly wicked, but extremely foolish. It
would be the surest way to confirm the doubts of the churches, and make
them feel, that in treating you coldly, they had acted wisely. The
surest way to gain the confidence of the Church, is not to care too much
about it. If you show that you are satisfied with the favor of God, and
with your own sweet consciousness of the happy change you have
experienced, everything else will come in its season. Goodness will draw
after it the reputation of goodness. The shadow will follow the
substance. And whether it does or not, your duty is to be resigned and
cheerful. A man that has really been converted from infidelity to
Christianity, will be so happy, and will feel so thankful for the
blessed change, if he appreciates it as he ought, that he will hardly
care whether he has the favor and confidence of his brethren or not.
There is no intimation that the returned Prodigal looked black at his
father, and threatened to go back again into the far country, because
his elder brother refused to join in his welcome home. The probability
is, that he felt so ashamed of his sin and folly, so overpowered with
the tenderness of his father, and so happy to find himself at home
again, that he never inquired whether other people were satisfied or
not. The father noticed the unhappiness of his elder son, and sought to
soothe and comfort him; but the younger son was occupied with other
thoughts; and having suffered long the grievous pangs of hunger, he
would, for a time at least, be busy at the table, speculating in
raptures, it may be, on the difference between the flesh of "the fatted
calf," and "the husks that the swine did eat."

It is, in one respect, an advantage to the converted unbeliever to be
treated by the Church with shyness. It affords him an opportunity of
proving his attachment to Christ and Christianity, in a way in which he
could not prove it, if every one welcomed him with demonstrations of
affection, and signs of joy. None are so slow to believe in the
sincerity of a converted infidel as infidels themselves; and to be able
to give to his old associates a proof so decisive of the genuineness of
his change, and of the value he puts on Christianity, will be regarded
by the convert as a privilege of no light value. And it is fit and
proper, as well as better for the convert, that he should be reminded of
his former weakness, and incited to watchfulness and humility, by the
pain of some kind of life-long disadvantage.

9. Let no one expect to get through the world without trouble. The thing
is not possible. Nor is it desirable. We _need_ a little trouble now and
then to keep us awake; and God will take care that we have it. We had
better therefore look for it, and when it comes, bear it patiently. It
is no use fretting or fuming; it only makes things worse. When we are
restless under little troubles, God sends us greater ones; and if our
impatience continues, he sends us greater still. And there is no remedy.
An eel may wriggle itself "out of the frying-pan, into the fire;" but it
cannot wriggle itself back again out of the fire, even into the
frying-pan. And so it is with us. We may wriggle ourselves out of one
little trouble, into two greater ones; but we cannot wriggle ourselves
back again out of the two greater ones, into the little one. The longer
we resist the will of God, the worse we shall fare. We had better
therefore bear the ills we have, than plunge into others that we know
not of. It is best to submit at once. If we were wise we should say with
the Redeemer, "The cup that My Father giveth me, shall I not drink it?"
God knows what is best for us, and He will never inflict on us a pang
which He does not see to be necessary to our usefulness and welfare. It
is not for His own pleasure that He afflicts us, but for our profit,
that we may be partakers of His holiness.

And sorrow is the seed of joy. And pain adds to the sweetness of our
pleasures. Hunger sweetens our food, and thirst our drink, and weariness
our moments of rest; and "our light afflictions, which are but for a
moment, work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of
glory."

We are quite mistaken when we look at our trials as unmixed evils. They
"are blessings in disguise." The dripping clouds which hide the sun,
enrich the earth. The difficulties with which we have to contend,
increase our strength. The tail of the kite, which seems to pull it
down, helps it to rise. And the afflictions, which seem to press us to
the ground, help to raise us to heaven.

Let us take our lot with meekness then, and learn in all things to say
to our Heavenly Father, "Thy will be done."

10. Join the Church. The Church is an institution of Heaven, and
connection with it is necessary to your spiritual safety. Some think
they can stand alone; but when they make the attempt, they fall. No one
can stand, who does not use the means which God has given him for his
support; and one of those means is fellowship with the Church. Without
civil society men gradually sink into barbarism; and without religious
society Christians sink into earthliness and impiety.

Some of the sweetest and most beautiful of our flowering shrubs, and
some of the richest of our fruit-bearing trees, are unable to raise
themselves from the ground without the assistance of their stronger
kindred. This is the case with the honeysuckle, the ivy, and the grape
vine. Left to themselves on the open plain, they sprawl upon the ground,
choked with the grass, and cropped and trampled on by beasts, until at
length they perish. But placed in woods or hedgerows, they clasp with
their living tendrils, or embrace with their whole bodies, their
vigorous neighbors, climb to the light and sunshine by their aid,
display their blossoms, and bear their rich delicious fruit in full
perfection. And we are like these trees. We must have support from
others, or perish.

This is not all. Even the stoutest and strongest trees, such as the oak,
the ash, and the sycamore, do best in company. Plant those trees in
groves, and guard them from the crushing steps and greedy maws of
cattle, and they grow up tall, and straight, and smooth. They shield
each other from the stormy winds, and they show a sort of silent
emulation, each raising its head as high as possible, to catch the
freshest air and the fullest streams of light. But plant one of those
trees alone in the open field, and leave it unfenced and unguarded, and
the probability is, it will perish. If it should escape destruction, its
growth will be retarded, and its form will be disfigured. It will have
neither size nor comeliness. It will be cropped by the cattle, and bent
and twisted by the winds; it will be stunted and dwarfed, crooked and
mis-shapen, knotted and gnarled, neither pleasant to the eye, nor good
for timber. Not one in a thousand would ever become a tall, a straight,
and a majestic tree.

Mr. Darwin says, that on some large tracts on which, while they were
unenclosed and unprotected, there was not a tree to be seen, there soon
appeared, after the land was enclosed by a fence, a countless multitude
of fine Scotch firs. The seeds of these trees had been sown by some
means, and they had germinated, and the embryo trees had sprung up; but
the cattle had cropped the tender shoots, or crushed and trampled them
down, and not one had been able to raise its head above the grass or
heather. On looking down and searching carefully among the heather, he
found in one square yard of ground, no fewer than thirty-two small
trees, one of which had been vainly trying to raise its head above the
heather for six and twenty years. After this tract of land had been
enclosed for awhile, it was covered thick with a countless multitude of
fine young trees. And so it is with Christians. Leave them in the open
common of the world, and they gradually come down to a level with the
tastes and manners of the world. Place them within the guarded
enclosures of the Church, and they rise to the dignity and glory of
saints. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of
fools shall be destroyed." Hence "the Lord added to the Church daily
such as should be saved."

When you get into the Church, stay there as long as you honestly can;
and honor it by a truly Christian life; and aid it by your labors; and
support it liberally with your money. The best spent money in the world
is that which is employed in promoting the spread of Christianity. And
try to live in peace both with your pastor and your fellow-members. Obey
the rules. Do not dream of unlimited liberty; you cannot have it; and it
would do you no good if you could, but harm. And unlimited liberty for
one, would be slavery or martyrdom for the rest. Judge the Church and
your pastors charitably, as you would like to be judged yourself. Expect
to find imperfections in them, and make as much allowance for them as
you can, that they may be led to make allowances for the imperfections
they find in you. Look more at the good that is in your brethren than at
the evil; it will cause you to love them the more, and make you feel
happier in their company. If any of them be overtaken in a fault, try to
restore them, in the spirit of meekness. And let the mishaps of your
brethren remind you that _you_ too are exposed to temptation.

Calculate on meeting with trials or unpleasantnesses in the Church
occasionally; for offences are sure to come. Churches are made up of
men, and men are full of imperfections, so that misunderstandings, and
even misdoings at times, are inevitable. You may be misjudged or
undervalued. There will be differences of tastes and opinions, and even
clashings of interest, between you and your brethren. And trials may
come from quarters from which you could never have expected them, and of
a kind that you could not possibly anticipate. But make up your minds,
by the help of God, to bear all patiently. Remember how God has borne
with you; and consider what Jesus suffered from the weaknesses, the
errors, and the sins of men; and how meekly and patiently He endured.

And understand that others may have to bear with as many
unpleasantnesses from you, as you have to bear with from them. You may
misunderstand or undervalue others, as much as they misunderstand or
undervalue you. And others may be as much disappointed in you, as you
are in them. And you may try their patience, as much as they try yours.
We know when we are hurt by others, but we do not always know when
others are hurt by us. And we can see the defects of others, when we
cannot see our own. And we should consider, that _they_ will know when
they are hurt by us, when they may not know that we are hurt by them;
and that _they_ will be able to see our imperfections, when they will be
quite unconscious of their own. And if we would not have them to make
too much of _our_ defects and blunders, we must not make too much of
_theirs_. If they can bear with _us_, we must learn to bear with _them_,
and think ourselves well off to have things settled so. If we could see
ourselves as God sees us, we might be more astonished that others should
be able to bear with us, than that we should be required to bear with
them.

And the trials we meet with in the Church will do us good, if we look at
them in a proper light, and receive them in a proper spirit. They will
reveal to us the defects of our brethren, and draw us to labor for their
improvement. And in laboring for the improvement of others, we shall
improve ourselves.

And the unpleasant friction which takes place between us and our
brethren, will only tend to smoothe the ruggedness of our temper, and
rub off the unevennesses of our character, provided we can keep
ourselves from impatience and resentment. In going along the course of a
brook or a river, you sometimes come upon a bend, where you find a heap
of smooth and nicely rounded pebble stones thrown up. Did you ever ask
yourselves how these pebbles came to be so round and smooth? When broken
off from their respective rocks, they were as irregular in form, they
had as sharp corners, and as rough, and ragged, and jagged edges, and
were altogether as ugly and unsightly things as any fragments of rocks
you ever looked upon. But they got into the water, and the stream rolled
them along, and rubbed them gently one against another, and this was the
way they came to be so round and smooth. There is no doubt, that if the
stones could have talked, and if they had had no more sense than we
have, whenever they found that their neighbor stones were rubbing them,
they would have screamed out, "Oh! how you scratch;" never dreaming that
they were scratching the other stones just as much at the same time. But
fortunately the stones could not talk; and though they had not so much
sense as we have, they had less nonsense, and that served them as
well--so they took their rubbing quietly; and hence the smoothness of
their surface, and the beauty of their shape. Now here we are, living
stones in the great stream of time, tumbled about and rubbed one against
another. Let us take our rubbing patiently, and give ourselves a chance
of getting rid of our unevennesses, and of being brought to a comely
shape. Have patience, my friends. The trouble will not continue long.
When we have got our proper shape, God will remove us to our proper
places in that living temple which He is building in the heavens, and
our rubbing will be at an end for ever.

When I was first invited by the Primitive Methodists of Tunstall to
preach in their chapel, one of the class-leaders and local preachers in
the circuit threw up his plan, and sent in his class-book, saying he
would not belong to a society that would allow Joseph Barker to preach
in their pulpits. He was under a wrong impression with regard to my
views. One of the Tunstall travelling preachers went to see him, and
told him that he was laboring under a mistake, and advised him to take
back his class-book and plan. "Come," said he, "and have a little talk
with Mr. Barker." He came, and found he had been mistaken. "Forgive
me," said he. "I cannot," said I; "you have committed no offence. I will
save my pardons till you do something really wicked." "Then let us
pray," said he; and we knelt down, and prayed for one another, and we
all felt better. He came that night to hear me lecture. The subject was
THE CHURCH. I spoke of the unpleasantnesses with which we
sometimes meet from our brethren, and while exhorting my hearers to take
their trials patiently, I used the illustration I have given here. The
old man sat on my left in the front of the gallery, and was much
excited. He wept. At length, unable any longer to restrain his feelings,
he cried aloud, "Glory; Hallelujah; I'll stop and be rubbed." He did
stop. But he had not much more rubbing to endure. In less than twelve
months, on retiring one night to rest, in his usual health, he passed
away suddenly, and peacefully, to his rest in heaven. Let us "stop and
be rubbed." Better be rubbed in the Church, than thrown out into the
broad highway of the world, and broken with the strong man's hammer.

11. And now with regard to reform. It is right that we should be
reformers. There are plenty of evils both in the Church and the State,
as well as in individuals, and it is our duty to do what we can to abate
or cure them. But there is a right and a wrong way of going about the
business, and if we would avoid doing mischief while we are trying to do
good, we must proceed with care.

Reformers must learn to wait as well as to work. You cannot make
churches, or states, or even individuals, all that you would like them
to be, in a moment. You cannot make yourselves what you would like to be
as quickly as you would wish. If you are like a man that I know, you
will find the improvement of your own habits, and tempers, and manners,
a task for life. And if the change for the better is so slow in
yourselves, whom you have in your hands continually, and with whom you
can take what liberties you please, what can you expect it to be in
others? It is the law of God that things shall pass from bad to good,
and from better to best, by slow and almost imperceptible gradations.

All the great and beneficent operations of Nature are silent and slow.
Nothing starts suddenly into being; nothing arrives instantly at
perfection; nothing falls instantly into decay. The germination of the
seed, the growth of the plant, the swelling of the bud, the opening of
the flower, the ripening of the fruit, are all the results of slow and
silent operations. Still slower is the growth of the majestic forest.
And the trees of greatest worth, which supply us with our choicest and
most durable timber, have the slowest growth of all. And so it is with
things that live and move. Their growth is silent as the grave. And man,
the highest of created beings, advances to maturity most tardily of all.
Our development is so gradual, that the changes we undergo from day to
day are imperceptible. And the development of our minds is as gradual as
the growth of our bodies. We gather our knowledge a thought, a fact, a
lesson at a time. We form our character, a line, a trace, a touch a day.

Society is subject to the same law. Churches and nations are collections
of individuals, each changing slowly, and must therefore themselves
change more slowly still. You cannot force the growth of a single plant
or animal at pleasure; still less can you force at will the advancement
or improvement of society. You may change a nation's laws and
institutions suddenly, but the change will be of no service, so long as
the minds of the people remain unchanged.

All the great beneficent changes of Nature are gradual. How slowly the
darkness of the night gives place to the morning dawn, and how slowly
the grey dawn of the morning brightens into noon! How slowly the cold of
winter gives place to the warmth of spring and summer. How slowly the
seed deposited in the ground springs up, putting forth first the blade,
then the ear, and then the full ripe corn in the ear. And how slowly we
grow up from babyhood to manhood, and how slowly we pass on from early
sprightly manhood, to the sobriety and wisdom of age. And how slowly the
nations advance in science, in arts, and in commerce; in religion, and
morals, and government. And so it is in all the works of God. Even the
startling phenomena presented by the earth's surface, which earlier
philosophers supposed to be the result of violent and sudden
convulsions, are now regarded as the result of the slow and ordinary
action of natural powers. Leisurely movement is the eternal and
universal law. And it is no use complaining; you cannot alter it. You
cannot make a hen hatch her eggs in less than three weeks, do what you
will. You may crack the shells, thinking to let the chickens out a
little earlier; but you let death in, and the chickens never do come out
at all. "The more haste the less speed." I have had proof of this more
than once in my own experience. I once lived in a house terribly
infested with rats, and I wanted to get rid of them as quick as I could,
for they were a great nuisance. But, I was in too big a hurry to
succeed. One night I heard a terrible splashing in the water-tub in the
cellar. "That's a rat," said I, "I'll dispatch that, anyhow:" and I took
the lighted candle and poker, and hastened into the cellar, thinking to
kill the creature at once. When the rat saw me with candle and poker, it
made an extra spring, completely cleared the edge of the tub, and got
safe away into its hole. I was in such a hurry to kill it, that I saved
its life. When I got to it, it was drowning itself as nicely as it could
do; and if I had had patience to wait, it would have been dead in ten
minutes. But because I would not wait, and let it die quietly, it would
not die at all. And it may be living now for anything I know, and may
have bred a hundred other rats since then, and all because I would not
give it time to die in peace. There are rats everywhere still. There are
rats in the Church, rats in the State; rats in palaces, and rats in
hovels. There are rats of despotism and tyranny, rats of slavery and
war, rats of rebellion and anarchy. There are rats of superstition and
idolatry, rats of heresy and infidelity, rats of intemperance and
licentiousness. And it is right to try to kill them off. But we had
better go to work carefully. We cannot put things right in an instant.
And when wicked laws, or vicious principles have received their death
blow, we had better give them time to die in quiet. Haste and impatience
may spoil all.

12. Though unbelief may not always be a sin, it is always a great
calamity. As we have said, its tendency is always to immorality, and
immorality always tends to misery and death. Byron perished in his
prime, and his short life and his untimely death were both unhappy.
Unbelievers are seldom happy in their domestic relations. And in cutting
themselves off from God, they reduce the noblest affections of their
souls to starvation. They have no suitable exercise or gratification for
their natural instinctive gratitude, their reverence, or their love.
They have nothing in which they can securely trust. Even their family
and social affections often decline and die.

Many unbelievers are poor, and infidel poverty is always envious. The
world is a very trying one to unbelievers: hardly anything pleases them;
and nothing pleases them long. Rulers do not please them: they are
despots and tyrants. Their fellow subjects do not please them: they are
cowardly slaves. Their masters do not please them: they are
extortioners. Their men do not please them: they are knaves. The rich do
not please them: they are leeches, caterpillars, cormorants. The poor do
not please them: they are mean, deceitful and dishonest. Religion does
not please them; it is superstition: and philosophy does not please
them; it is a bore and a sham. Priests do not please them; they are
cheats: and the people do not please them; they are dupes. The climates
do not suit them: they are too hot, or too cold; too damp, or too dry;
and the seasons do not please them--they are always uncertain, and
seldom right. The world at large disgusts them: it takes the part of
their enemies. It favors the religious classes, and mocks and tortures
the infidel philosopher. Their bodies are not right; they are always
ailing, and threatening to give way: and their minds are not right; they
are never contented and at rest. There is nothing right in the present;
and there is nothing promising in the future. They think themselves the
wisest people in the world, yet people in general regard them as fools;
and they themselves can see that their fancied wisdom does not prove
their friend.

They can give no explanation of the mysteries of the universe. They
cannot account for the facts which geology reveals with regard to the
natural history of the globe. They cannot account for the mechanism of
the heavens, or the chemistry of the earth. They cannot account for
life, organization, or intelligence. They cannot account for instinct.
They cannot account for the marks of design which are everywhere visible
in Nature, nor for the numberless wonders of special arrangement and
adaptation manifest in her works. They cannot account for the difference
between man and the lower animals. Animals can indulge themselves freely
and take no harm; man cannot indulge himself freely without misery and
ruin. Animals can be happy without self-denial; man cannot. Man excels
in the gift of reason, yet commits mistakes, and perpetrates crimes,
which we look for in vain among the beasts of the field. Man, with a
thousand times more power than the brutes, and with immensely greater
capacities and opportunities for happiness, is frequently the most
miserable being on earth. On the supposition that man was made for a
different end, and endowed with a different nature from the brutes--on
the supposition that man was made for virtue, for piety, for rational,
religious self-government, for voluntary obedience to God, for the joy
of a good conscience, for heaven--in a word, on the supposition that the
Scriptural and Christian doctrine about man is true, all this is
explained; but on the infidel theory all is a torturing, maddening
mystery.

And let infidels do what they will, and say what they please, the world
at large will hold to the religious theory. Mahometans, Pagans, and
Christians all insist that man is made for higher work, and meant for a
higher destiny, than the lower animals. The Christian theory is accepted
by the highest of our race. They regard it with the deepest reverence.
The books that unfold it they regard as divine. They read them in their
families. They read them in their temples. They teach them in their
schools. They publish them in every language; they send them round the
globe. In England and America, the first of the nations, you see them
everywhere. You meet with them in hotels, in boarding-houses, at railway
stations, and on steam packets; in asylums and infirmaries; in barracks
and in prisons; in poor-houses and in palaces; in the drawing-rooms of
the wealthy, and in the hovels of the poor. The greatest scholars and
rarest geniuses devote their lives to the diffusion of their doctrines;
and there is no probability of a change. If Christianity be false, the
world is mad: if it be true, the case of the infidel is deplorable in
the extreme.

And that many portions of the Christian system _are_ true, is past
doubt. They carry the evidence of their truth on their very face. And
other portions admit of easy proof. The truth of many Christian
doctrines can be proved by experience. And the rest are probable enough.
There is nothing absurd, nothing irrational in Christianity. The
teachings of Christ are the perfection of goodness. They are the
perfection of wisdom and beauty. Even Goethe could say, "The human
race can never attain to anything higher than Christianity, as presented
in the life and teachings of its Founder." And again he says, "How much
soever spiritual culture may advance, the natural sciences broaden and
deepen, and the human mind enlarge, the world will never get beyond the
loftiness and moral culture of Christianity as it shines and glistens in
the Gospels."--_Farhenlehre_, iii. 37.

And nothing can be more true.

Look for a few moments at Christ and Christianity.

And, first, what is Christ as presented in the Gospels?

1. He is, first, holy, harmless, undefiled; a lamb without blemish and
without spot. This is the lowest trait in His character. Yet it is a
great thing for any one to remain innocent in a world like this, with a
nature like ours.

2. But He was, second, an example of the highest moral and spiritual
excellence. He was devout, pious, resigned, towards His Heavenly Father.
He was full of benevolence towards men. He did good. The happiness of
mankind was the end, and doing good the business, of His life. He had no
other object. He paid no regard to wealth, to power, to pleasure, or to
fame. He was so fixed and single in His aim, that there is no room for
mistake. To do good, to bless mankind, was His meat and drink.

3. And He did good to men's bodies as well as to their souls. While He
taught the ignorant, and reformed the bad, and comforted the penitent,
He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, bread
to the hungry, and life to the dead.

4. He enjoined the same way of life on His disciples. "Freely ye have
received," said He, "freely give."

5. While He lived and labored for the good of all, He paid special
attention to the poor.

6. Yet He never flattered the poor, nor pandered to their prejudices or
passions. He never taught them to envy the rich, or revile the great, or
to throw the blame of their sorrows on others.

7. While kind to the poor, He was just and respectful to the rich. His
conduct to Nicodemus, to Zaccheus, to the young man that came to
question Him about the way to heaven, and to the Roman centurion, was
courteous and comely to the last degree. He was faithful, but not harsh.

8. He was good to all classes. He loved the Jews, yet He was just and
kind to the Samaritans, to the Syro-phenician woman, and to the Roman
soldier.

9. He was especially kind to women, even to the fallen ones. He showed
none of that indifference or disdain for woman that the proud barbarian
exhibits, or of that heartless contempt which the vicious sensualist
manifests. He rose alike above the selfish passions and the inveterate
prejudices of his age, and conferred on the injured sex the blessings of
freedom and dignity, of purity and blessedness.

10. He showed the tenderest regard to children. "He took them in His
arms and blessed them," and said, "Suffer little children to come unto
Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."

11. He was kind to the outcast. He was a friend of publicans and
sinners. He went among the lowest, the most neglected, the most
despised, the most hated and dreaded of mankind, and labored for their
salvation. The parables of the Lost Sheep, and of the Prodigal Son,
speak volumes in His praise.

12. He was always gentle, tolerant, and forgiving. He refused to bring
down fire from heaven on the villagers that had slighted Him, saying
"The Son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
He commended the virtue of Samaritan heretics. He has nothing harsh even
for the infidel Sadducee. He complies with the unreasonable wishes of
the skeptical Thomas. He pardons Peter. He is severe with the Scribes
and Pharisees only, who made void the law of righteousness by their
traditions, and took the key of knowledge, and used it, not to open, but
to keep shut the door of the kingdom of heaven.

13. As a reformer, He went to the root of social and political evils,
and sought the reform of laws, institutions, and governments, by
laboring for the instruction and renovation of individuals.

14. He was patient as well as disinterested. He was willing to sow, and
let others reap; to labor, and let others enjoy the fruits of his
labors.

15. He formed a Church, employing the social instincts and affections of
His followers as a means of perpetuating and extending His beneficent
influence in the world.

16. He checked the impertinence, and silenced the vanity of captious
cavillers.

17. He carried the truth into markets and sea-ports, as well as taught
it in the temple and in the synagogues.

18. He had the eloquence of silence as well as of speech.

19. He could suffer as well as labor. He bore reproach and insolence,
and at last laid down His life for mankind.

20. He could make allowances even for His murderers. When they mocked
Him in His dying agonies, He could say, "Father, forgive them; they know
not what they do."

He excelled as a teacher.

1. He was very practical; seeking always to bring men to be merciful, as
their Father in Heaven is merciful.

2. He was very plain; using the simplest forms of speech, and the most
natural and touching illustrations.

3. He presented truth and duty in His parables in the most impressive
forms.

4. His doctrines about God and providence, about duty and immortality,
about right worship and the proper employment of the Sabbath; about true
greatness, and the forgiveness of injuries; about gentleness and
toleration; about meekness and humility; about purity and sincerity, as
well as on a great variety of other subjects, were the perfection of
true philosophy. His parable of the talents, His remarks on the widow
and her two mites, and on the woman and the box of ointment, showing
that nothing is required of us beyond our powers and opportunities, are
striking, instructive, and impressive in the highest degree.

5. He made it the duty of all whom He taught to instruct others. His
words, "freely ye have received, freely give;" and the sentence, "It is
more blessed to give than to receive," are among the divinest oracles
ever heard on earth.

6. He illustrated and enforced all His lessons by a consistent example.
He practised what He taught.

7. And He commanded His disciples to do the same. "Let your light so
shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your
Father which is in heaven."

8. There can be nothing juster or kinder than His great rule, "All
things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so
unto them."

9. His doctrine that God will treat men as they treat each other, is
most striking and important. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall
obtain mercy." "With what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged; and with
what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." "If ye forgive
men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you your
trespasses; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will
your heavenly Father forgive you your trespasses."

10. His remarks on riches and poverty, on honor and reproach, on
suffering and glory, though regarded by some with shyness and distrust,
contain a world of important truth.

11. His lessons on spiritual or religious freedom, on self-denial, on
the true mark of discipleship, on the great judgment, on the future of
Christianity, and on the heavenly felicity, are all remarkable for their
wisdom, and for their purifying and ennobling tendency.

But it would require volumes to do Christ and His doctrine justice. And
I feel as if I were wronging the Saviour to speak of His worth and
doctrine, when I have neither time nor space duly to set forth their
transcendent excellency. Every peculiar trait in His character that I
have named, deserves a treatise to present it in all its importance and
glory; and I, alas, can give but a sentence or two to each.[A]

But Christ has our devoutest love and gratitude, and our profoundest
reverence. And the more we contemplate Him, the more constrained we feel
to regard Him, not only as the perfection of all human excellence, but
as the revelation and incarnation of the eternal God. And we feel it a
great honor and unspeakable privilege to be permitted to bear His name,
to belong to His party, and to labor in His cause. We are indebted to
Him for everything that gives value to our existence, and we give Him,
in return, with cheerfulness and gladness, our heart, our life, our all.

     Ah, why did I so late Thee know,
       Thee, lovelier than the sons of men?
     Ah, why did I no sooner go
       To Thee, the only ease in pain?
     Ashamed I sigh, and inly mourn
     That I so late to Thee did turn.

[A] Since the above was written we have published a book
entitled JESUS: A PORTRAIT. Look at it.


CONCLUDING REMARKS.

1. While the tendency of infidelity is to make men miserable, it is the
tendency of Christianity to make men happy. When I was living at
Burnley, an infidel came to me one morning and said, "Barker, we may say
what we will, but those Ranters, (meaning the Primitive Methodists) are
the happiest men alive. There is one lives next to me, and he sings all
the day long. He gets up singing and goes to bed singing." They _are_
the happiest men alive. And real Christians of all denominations are
happy.

2. Some time after my return to Christianity, I spent a few days in the
house of a Primitive Methodist, a farmer, on the Cheshire Hills. I
seemed in Paradise. The master and the mistress were cheerful and kind,
and the daughters and girls were almost continually singing delightful
Christian melodies while busy at their work. One moment they were
singing of a BEAUTIFUL STREAM, and then of a HAPPY LAND. One would
begin, "Jesus, Lover of my soul"--and when that was finished, another
would begin with, "When I can read my title clear, to mansions in the
skies,"--and the singing and the work went on together all the day. It
was heaven. And a thousand such facts might be given.

3. My own experience is in harmony with these facts. My return to Christ
made me happy beyond measure. It brought me enjoyments, transports, to
which, for years, I had been an utter stranger. The fact is, for a long
time the worth of my life was well-nigh gone. I lived, because I felt I
_ought_ to live, for the sake of those who were dear to me. But for
myself, the light and joy of my life seemed gone for ever. My existence
was a long dark struggle with crushing destiny. Though naturally
hopeful, I was made to feel the bitterness of blank despair. I had
moments of relief, but I had weeks of gloom and despondency. Now all is
changed. I have moments of sadness and depression; but weeks and months
of joy and gladness. I see the universe in an entirely different light.
And instead of murmuring at Nature as cruel, I adore a gracious and
merciful God. Of my errors and misdoings I must always feel ashamed, and
a consciousness of them must for ever tend to make me sad at times; yet
notwithstanding all drawbacks, I have enjoyed more satisfaction, more
real happiness, a hundred times over, during the last twelve months,
than I enjoyed during the whole period of my alienation from God. The
simple-hearted Christian knows what he says, when he tells you "There's
something in religion." It has a power and a blessedness altogether
different from anything else under heaven. Knowledge is sweet, and love
is sweet, and power and victory are sweet; but religion--the religion of
Christ--is sweeter, infinitely sweeter than all. It is the life and
blessedness of the soul. It is its greatness, its strength, its glory:
its joy, its paradise, its heaven.

4. If the churches abound with defects, the cause is in humanity, and
not in Christianity. Men are not imperfect because they are Christians,
but because they are not Christian enough. The worst men are the
farthest from Christianity, and the best are nearest to it. And the
worst creeds are the least Christian, and the best are the most
Christian. And Christianity is better than the best. There is not a
virtue on earth, nor a truth in the universe, which does not form a
part, or a consistent and fitting appendage, of the Christian system.
The best, the wisest, the noblest man on earth is no better, no wiser,
no nobler, than the teachings of Jesus tend to make the whole human
race.

5. The influence which Jesus exerted on the world, and the influence
which He is still exerting, is the mightiest and most beneficent ever
experienced by mankind; and the monument which He has raised for
Himself, the Christian Church, with all its institutions, its
literatures, its agencies and achievements is, beyond all comparison,
the grandest, the noblest, and in all respects the most magnificent and
glorious that the history of the world can boast. He has indeed gained
for Himself a name above every name; a glory and a power which have no
equal and no resemblance; and His followers may well adore Him as the
brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His love and
majesty.

6. And what can we do better than chime in with the anthem of His
worshippers? What can we do better than teach His beneficent doctrines,
and follow His glorious example? Talk as we will, the noblest and the
happiest life a man can live is a life of Christian love and
beneficence. And the best association on earth is that which is
organized on the principle of love to Christ, pledged to the
self-sacrificing labors of a wise philanthropy, the work of serving and
blessing mankind.

7. A belief in Christ gives one a power to do good to mankind which no
skeptic can have. It kindles love, and stimulates to activity, as
nothing else does. And it inspires courage, and produces patience, and
gives comfort under persecution. And it lays on us no unnecessary
restraints. It leaves us free to every good word and to every good work.
And it is friendly to science and to unlimited progress. It offers a
bond of union for all great minds, and for all good hearts. It increases
our power to reform both churches and states, without urging us to wild
and revolutionary measures, which might imperil the interests of both.
To accept this religion, to avow this faith, involves nothing of which
we need be ashamed, but everything in which we may reasonably glory. We
escape alike the follies of theological dreamers, and the gloom and
horrors of infidel philosophy. We live amidst the soft mild glories of
eternal light; we cheer ourselves with the richest and most glorious
hopes, and we spend our lives in the grandest contemplations and the
noblest occupations the heart of man can conceive.

8. The vainest of all vain things, the most unseemly and revolting of
all forms of pride, is the pride of disbelief in God and immortality.
And the maddest if not the wickedest of all occupations, is to labor to
destroy the faith and blight the hopes of others. What good, humane, or
merciful motive can a man have to impel him to such a horrible
undertaking?

9. How soothing the thought that your sufferings are marked by a loving
God, and will be overruled for your good! And how cheering the thought,
when life is in danger, or drawing to a close, that death is the gate of
a higher life! And how comforting the thought, when your loved ones are
leaving you, that they are going before you to a happier home, and that
by-and-by you will see their faces, hear their voices, and share their
presence and society again! And what a relief, when visiting the sick,
the sorrowing, or the dying, to be able to speak to them of an infinite
Father, of another life, and of brighter scenes, and of a happier lot,
in a better land!

10. We have spent time enough among the dead. And you can see with your
own eyes which are the living, loving, and laboring portions of the
Church. You can see which portions build the most schools, teach the
most children, reclaim the most drunkards and profligates, and do most
to develop and cultivate the religious and moral sentiments of the
masses. And one of the lessons we always pressed on you was, to judge a
tree by its fruits. We do not intend to swerve from our plan of avoiding
sectarian and theological controversy; but we may ask you to compare the
amount of good religious work done by the Methodists in fifty years,
with the good done by the so-called liberal Christians, and to draw
your own conclusion. The Primitive Methodists alone, with the smallest
amount of means, have done incalculably more good in fifty years, than
the Unitarians, with unlimited supplies of wealth, and all the
advantages of learning and position, have done in a hundred and fifty
years. We have cast in our lot with the living, working portion of the
Church. It is our home. We had rather be a doorkeeper of the humblest
living, hard-working church in the land, than dwell with the spiritually
dead and cold in the palaces of princes. We will help the men that are
doing the hard and needful work of humanity. If you can see such men as
the Primitive Methodists and the orthodox Churches generally, working as
they _do_ work, and succeeding as they _do_ succeed, and not respect
them and love them, and take part in helping them, you have not the
heart of tenderness and the spirit of Christian manliness for which we
have given you credit.

11. The influence of Christianity cannot be otherwise than beneficial;
nor is it possible that Christianity should become the ruling power on
earth without greatly abating, if not entirely curing the evils of
humanity, and making mankind as happy as their nature and capacities
admit.

Imagine Christianity to be received and reduced to practice by all the
people on earth, what would be the result? Disease would gradually
diminish. Nine-tenths of it would quickly disappear; and life would be
both happier and much longer.

Along with disease would go want, and the fear of want. All would be
well fed, well clad, well housed, and well supplied with all the
necessaries and comforts of life. The world is stored with abundance of
natural wealth. The surface of the earth is vast enough, and its soil is
rich enough, to supply homes and plenty to all its inhabitants, if they
were fifty times as numerous as they are.

Three or four hours a day would be the utmost length of time that men
would need to labor. The cessation of war would set the soldiers free
for productive employment. The peaceful disposition of the people at
home would allow the police forces to devote themselves to useful labor.
The idle classes would set to work, and the wasteful classes would
become economical. A limit would be fixed to the extravagances of
fashion. Things comely and useful would satisfy the desires of both men
and women. The powers of nature would be pressed more generally into our
service, and compelled to do our drudgery both in the mine and on the
farm. A sense of justice would dispose men to be content with their
share of the blessings of Providence, and Christian generosity would
prompt the rich to supply the wants of the helpless. The dangers of
useful toil would be diminished. The catalogue of mournful accidents in
flood and field, in mines and factories, would be abridged. Oppression
would cease. The wisest and best would be our legislators and rulers.
Patriots, philanthropists, and philosophers would take the place of
selfish politicians. Political trickery would give place to honorable
statesmanship. All cruel forms of servitude would cease. All wicked laws
would be abolished. All needless burdens would be removed from the backs
of the people. All would be well taught. All dreams of impossible
equality, and all thoughts of violent and bloody revolutions, would pass
away. Vice and crime would disappear, with all the tortures both of mind
and body which they occasion. Commerce would flourish. All nations would
freely and lovingly exchange their surplus products. All classes would
deal with each other honorably. Each one would do to others as he would
that others should do to him. No one would suffer from fraud, or from
the fear of fraud. Trade would be a mutual exchange of benefits.
Business would be a pleasant pastime, gainful to all, and ruinous to
none.

Marriage would be universal, and would prove in every case a comfort and
a blessing. The family circle would be the abode of love, and peace, and
joy. Each home would be a little heaven. Children would be wisely
trained and carefully nurtured in knowledge and piety. The virtues and
the graces would adorn their lives from youth to age. All talent and
skill, the powers of eloquence and of poetry, the influences of music
and of song, and all the powers of art would serve the cause of truth
and virtue, of religion and humanity.

Superstition would die. Unnatural conceptions of God, and cruel,
wasteful, and useless forms of worship, would give place to faith in a
God of light and love, of wisdom and of purity, and to a spiritual,
rational, and rapturous kind of devotion. All ignorant dread of natural
phenomena would give place to joyous and loving admiration, and to
devoutest adoration, of the great eternal Ruler of the world. If
calamities came they would be accepted as divine appointments, as
needful means of everlasting good. Death would lose its terrors. Belief
in a blessed immortality would enable us to pass from earth in peace and
joy. Bereavements would be less distressing. The departure of our
friends would be but a transition to a better state of being.

The world itself would change. Its beauties would become more beautiful;
its glories would become more glorious, and all its joys and pleasures
would be more transporting. The eye, the ear, the taste, the smell would
all become the inlets of more and richer enjoyments. Science and
literature in their divinest forms would become the common lot of our
race. The glory of God's character and the brightness of the eternal
future, would shed unwonted radiance over the present life, and make it
rapturous, glorious, and divine. The religion of Christ, while raising
men to heaven, would bring down heaven to earth.

On the other hand, the want of trust in God and of a hope of immortality
tends to darken earth, and to embitter life. When men are severed from
God and Christ, they suffer loss both in character and enjoyment. We can
speak from experience. We never ruined our health by vicious indulgence.
We never became the slave of intemperance or licentiousness. We never
dishonored our family, or lost the love and confidence of our wife and
children. But we lost our trust in God, and our hope of immortality. And
the heavens above grew dark, and the earth became a desolation. Life
lost its value, and sorrow its consolation; and many and many a time we
wished that we had never been born. For hours have we trod the earth
with heavy heart and downcast eyes, groaning beneath a weight of sadness
indescribable. Loss of faith in Christ, even with men of a naturally
cheerful and hopeful spirit, renders life a burden too heavy to be
borne. Hence for years before we fully regained our own faith in
Christianity, we encouraged others to cherish theirs. An infidel once
said, that the Christian's hope, if false, was worth all this world's
best truths; and we felt the truth of the remark, and shrank from
attempts to take from men the inestimable treasure. And now we would
rather die than shake or undermine the faith of any Christian soul on
earth. To the work of cherishing a belief in Christ in our own heart,
and nurturing it in the hearts of others, we consecrate our life, our
all. We would rather live on a crust, in a mud hut, with faith in God
and Christ, than feast on all the dainties of the earth, in the palace
of a king, with the hopelessness and gloom of the Atheist.

We have no disposition to exaggerate; but we are constrained to say,
that if all the wisdom and all the virtue on earth had dwelt in one man,
and if that one man had presented a revelation of God with a view to
supply the strongest, the mightiest, the most touching, the most tender,
the most varied, and the most irresistible inducements to renounce all
selfishness and sin, and to live a pure and godly, a holy and a useful,
a divine and glorious life, that revelation could have assumed no
better, no more perfect or effective form, than that which is presented
in the revelation of God by Jesus Christ. We feel, while we contemplate
it, that it can have no fitter or truer name than that bestowed on it by
the Apostles, 'The power of God to salvation to every one that
believeth.' And we are reminded of the words, 'We all, with open face
beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same
image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.'

Of course the destruction of this belief can operate no otherwise than
as an encouragement to evil, and a discouragement to good. The loss of
Christian belief in God can be to the virtues and the graces of the
heart and life, but as a blight to plants and flowers. The Christian
belief makes it summer to the soul, giving birth, and power, and full
development to all that is godlike and glorious in human character. The
loss of that belief is winter to the soul; killing with its frosts each
form of life and beauty, and making all a waste and desolation.

There have been three great disbelievers in God in our own country
during the present century, all of whom have written books denouncing
marriage, and counselling unbounded sensual license. If their counsels
were generally taken, the result would be a state of society as horrible
as that portrayed in the beginning of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, and
a return to faith in God alone could save the race of man from utter
extinction. But we will not dwell on this dreadful side of the subject.
We know the effects of the light and warmth of the sun; and we may
safely be left to infer the horror, the misery, the world-wide ruin, and
the utter dreariness and desolation that would follow if the orb of day
were extinguished, or for ever and utterly withdrawn. Religion is the
sun of the spiritual world; it is its light and life, its joy and
blessedness; and its extinction would be the death and destruction of
our race.

While belief in God is favorable to virtue generally, it tends also to
produce displays of superior excellence; of unusual courage,
perseverance, and endurance. The believer in God may brave the most
appalling dangers. His feeling is, that he who is for him is greater
than all that can be against him. It is no vain boast in him to say, 'I
fear God, and know no other fear.' It is natural that he should say,
when threatened by mistaken or malignant men, 'You may kill me, but you
cannot hurt me.' The Christian believer can afford to be a martyr. When
excited by ungodly or inhuman opposition, he naturally displays the
martyr's courage. He can bear too to suffer disrepute. He can trust his
reputation to his omniscient and almighty Friend. He can bear to look
with patience both on the adversity of the good, and the prosperity of
the bad. He knows the fate,--he sees the end,--of both. The Judge of all
the earth will do right. He knows no evil but sin. He knows no security
but righteousness.

And Christian faith is a fountain of all conceivable _comfort_. It is a
comfort to feel secure. It is a comfort to feel strong. It is a comfort
to feel assured that we are beloved of God. It is a comfort to feel that
we love Him in return. It is a comfort to believe that the universe has
a Head, a Lord, a Ruler. It is a comfort to believe that we are not
orphans, fatherless inhabitants of a Godless world. There is pleasure in
admiration and reverence. There is pleasure in feelings of gratitude.
There is a pleasure in tracing the wonders and beauties of creation to a
living, loving Creator. It adds to the pleasure of science to believe,
that behind the wonderful phenomena which we behold, there is a Great
Unseen from whose all-loving heart they all proceed. It is a pleasure to
believe that our ways are ordered by infinite wisdom. It is a pleasure
to believe that our sorrows are known to an almighty sympathizing
Friend. It is a pleasure to believe that our kindred and friends have a
helper greater than ourselves. It is a pleasure to believe that our lot
is appointed by an infinite Father; that we shall not be permitted to be
tried beyond our strength; that in every temptation, a way will be made
for our escape; that nothing can harm us, however painful; that nothing
can destroy us, however terrible; that all things work together for our
good. In short, there is no end to the strength which a Christian belief
in God is calculated to give to our virtue, or to the consolation which
it is calculated to impart to our souls.

But what can be sadder than to be without God, and without hope, in a
world like this? With all our science how little we know! How terrible
the thought that we have no unerring guide! With all our powers how
feeble we are! How terrible the thought that we have no almighty friend!
And vast and numberless as are the provisions that are made for our
happiness, how often we are thwarted, how prone we are, even in the
midst of plenty, to be dissatisfied; and how soon we may perish! And how
sad the thought that there is no restorer! Is it strange that, when
faith in God is lost, the value of life is felt to be gone?

We have no harsh word for the doubter or the disbeliever, but we raise
our warning voice against the dangers which beset the way of youth, and
counsel all to consider well their steps. 'There are ways which at times
seem right unto men, but the end thereof is death.' 'The fear of the
Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to depart from evil is
understanding.' Science has advanced; arts have multiplied; governments
have changed; and many are tempted to believe that the principles of
religion and virtue are exploded. But woe to the man that yields to the
temptation. His days shall be darkened with grief; and his heart
distracted with horror. But peace and purity and joy shall be the lot of
the faithful Christian. The light of life shall shine upon his path. The
wisdom of the Holy One shall be his guide; and, living and dying, he
shall be secure.

12. The Christian has the highest, the happiest employment. He works in
the spirit of eternal love. He works for the highest and the holiest
ends. And he works in hope. He sees the harvest in the ploughing of the
field, the coming crop in the scattered seed. The result of his labors
may come slowly, but he can afford to wait. The Lord reigneth; and the
plans of His eternal love can never fail.

And all things rich and beautiful are his. The earth and its fulness are
his. The heavens and their glories are his. All sights of beauty, all
sounds of melody, all emotions of wonder, all transports of delight are
his. There are no forms, no elements of bliss from which he is excluded.
All the innocent pleasures of sense, all that can delight the soul
through the eye, the ear, the taste, or the feelings; all that is rich
in art; all that is rapturous in song; all the pleasures of science and
literature, all are his.

And all earth's blessings, all pure and harmless pleasures, he can enjoy
more truly and more fully than other men. While his faith in God gives
greater beauty and glory to the universe, his hope of immortality gives
greater sweetness to his earthly life. The brightness of the eternal
world throws a celestial radiance over the present, and gives to earth a
portion of the blessedness of heaven.


A FEW TESTIMONIES OF GREAT MEN IN FAVOR OF CHRISTIANITY.

We live in the midst of blessings, till we are utterly insensible of
their greatness, and of the source from which they flow. We speak of our
civilization, our arts, our freedom, our laws, and forget entirely how
large a share of all is due to Christianity.--_Coleridge._

There never was found in any age of the world, either philosopher or
sect, or law or discipline, which did so highly exalt the public good as
the Christian faith.--_Bacon._

As the man of pleasure, by a vain attempt to be more happy than any man
can be, is often more miserable than most men are; so the skeptic, in a
vain attempt to be wise beyond what is permitted to man, plunges into a
darkness more deplorable than that of the common herd.--_Colton._

Since the introduction of Christianity, human nature has made great
progress; but it has not got in advance of Christianity. Men have
outgrown other institutions and systems, but they may grow for ever and
not outgrow Christianity.--_Channing._

I have lived long enough to know what I did not at one time
believe--that no society can be upheld in happiness and honor without
the sentiment of religion.--_La Place._

It is heaven on earth to have one's mind to move in charity, to rest on
Providence, and follow truth.--_Bacon._

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity,
religion and morality are most essential. In vain would that man claim
the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to destroy those great
pillars of human happiness; these firmest props of virtue. And let us
not suppose that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever
may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of
peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect
national morality to prevail in the absence of religious
principle.--_Washington._

I have carefully and regularly perused these Holy Scriptures, and am of
opinion, that the volume, independently of its divine origin, contains
more sublimity, purer morality, more important history, and finer
strains of eloquence, than can be collected from all other books, in
whatever language they may have been written.--_Sir William Jones._





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