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career, remembering it as correctly as I now can, apparently the chief positive effect of my experiences then, was the protection it provided me at a very sensitive age against a possible morbidity of religious emotion; so far, at least, as a spontaneously liberty-loving, intellectually generous and inquisitive nature could be endangered. Also, I think, the stay at Dickinson enlarged my mental horizon enough to disclose a somewhat wider intellectual domain than that of which I had perception in the closing years of my childhood.
EARLY RECORD OF NATURAL LIBERALISM.
As a good evidence of this mental widening, I recall a Class composition which I prepared in the second Dickinson year. Its theme was "Reverence for the Religious Principle in all its Developments." Among the judgments given in this boy production were these:
Bigotry in any form must be contemplated with pity and disdain. I have no sympathy with a spirit which would scorn man's weakest efforts for spiritual improvement. The religious principle, existing as it does in every human heart, the mark of its high origin, the connecting link binding man to God,-should command the most profound respect.
Whether beheld in the Christian philosopher whose powerful intellect pierces far into the boundless domain of knowledge, or in the ignorant slave who cannot even read the Divine message which assures him of immortality; whether in the poet who consecrates genius to the cause of virtue, or in the rough seaman whose only music is the tempest's roar; whether in the zealous Puritan or in the calm spirit of the enlightened Christian, it is still the proof of man's higher destiny, the manifestation of his nobler being.
However marred by credulity and fanaticism, it is
too sacred to be torn from its deep resting place in the soul and rudely trampled under the foot of the scorner. Far better to be the sincere, though ignorant, worshipper, than, like the Prophet of Khorassan, to conceal under a glittering veil, the features of a demon. Let us reverence the heavenborn fire on the heart's altar, whether burning with a clear, strong radiance, or dimmed and blackened by the smoke of superstition."
While I was at Carlisle, however intermittent or feeble my zeal as a professed Christian may have been, I was never so weakened that regular attendance at Church and observance of other duties as a Church member were interrupted. But there were long periods when I was not very devotional, and not very studious of the books of spiritual culture which I had set apart for daily reading. I thought but little of the doctrines of my inherited "Confession of Faith." But also, neither " rationalism" so called, nor, certainly, skepticism had any part in my mental occupations, one way or another. Whatever
I thought of theological problems, when I thought of them at all, did not take me outside the Creed I had been taught. Moreover, all the time I bore with me, more or less consciously, the fact that I had been set apart for the Christian ministry. This consciousness had become involved in my personal "make-up," and, in good time, I was confident, it would be given full way.
But, allowing for this fact, I look back upon those initial College days, as being in the main the time when, as a normally developing boy, I was happily a participant in the ordinary work and play of other boys who were much like me; and when, without being a leader, I held an honorable place among my fellow-students in the College curriculum.
At Princeton College.
I passed the exciting summer of 1861 in Chambersburg. The days were filled with news of the events of the opened war of the "Southern Confederacy" against the National Union. I fretted constantly over my inability to "go to the defense" of Washington, our Nation's capital, imperilled by the nearer advance of the Confederate army after the disaster at Bull Run.
I found some relief, however, in renewal of activity as a member of the home-church. I was re-awakened to my religious obligations, and I was much stimulated afresh by the prospect then opened to me of continuing, at Princeton, my education for the ministry.
In the autumn, to my great satisfaction, I was admitted to the Junior Class of Princeton College. Then, with some realizing sense of what I was doing, I began definite preparation for my accepted life-work. A season of "revival" befel the College that autumn and winter; and, with many College mates, my religious emotions were vividly aroused. Religious thinking and practice, as I understood it then, became the most prominent factor in my daily living. I took a leading part in local mission Sunday School work, and was prominent in the conduct of the Philadelphian Society, the special organization in the College supported for the culture of the religious life of the students.
It happened that I spent the winter vacation of 1861-62, in Washington City. With that opportunity I visited many of the camps and some of the field hospitals, doing a little here and there to help the sick and wounded.
a. Religious Experiences at Princeton.-Upon my return to College I became thoroughly aroused, religiously. I think that I shall not be misunderstood by the friends who read these pages, in repeating here some sentences written to my parents then. They have more than a merely personal significance. Soon after "the New Year," 1862, I wrote,
"I hope and believe that I am now a far different person. God has graciously poured his Holy Spirit into my soul, and I feel free indeed in Christ Jesus, my Redeemer. This may appear strange; but I left home with the firm resolve that if He would spare me to reach Princeton, I would seek Him until I found Him, surely. I have reached that glorious result, I do believe. Oh! would I could have felt in Washington what I feel here. Then, perhaps, there would be many a poor, sick soldier to bless me, We have great promise for a good work in the College. Pray for us."
In March, in one of my letters, I pathetically lamented to" My dear Parents" that;
"I have such a dreadful, sinful nature." "I must become a true, earnest, working Christian. I must feel that I am engaged in a warfare. I must war against every sin, such as Pride and Ambition. The former I cught never have, and the latter with me is not sanctified. I never will rest until I am altogether the Lord's. not be idle when there is a Heaven to gain. I cannot see others going to ruin unwarned."
A month later, I wrote in answer to some advice that my father had given me," not to study too hard, and not to bother about foreign missions; "—
"As to the former advice," I answered "I do not think I will hurt myself studying, although I am determined to become a good Greek scholar, if the Lord gives me strength and life, no matter how much labor it may require." (My desire then to understand the original text of the New Testa
ment was very great). "As to the latter, I have come to the determination to do no planning myself, but to let the Lord take care of me and place me where he will. I will be willing to go as a missionary, if the Lord choose to call me to that work. I am willing to stay here, if He places me here. I want to feel my will so entirely swallowed up in His that I shall be perfectly willing to go or stay, as He appoints.
I am often led to think that the motives which would make me a missionary are not right; that they are of my own choosing and not of God's. But woe! is me, if I am called to go to the Heathen and refuse. I am sealed as the Lord's. I am bought with a price. My will is not my own. You have no longer any claim on me. You gave me to God long ago,-to be His, I hope, for eternity -body and soul, time, influence, all interest in my earthly relations, in fact my all He tells me to leave all and follow Him. It is, in one view, hard. But so it is. And if He tells me to go into every land and preach His glad tidings' I must do it. If the cry comes from stricken China, India, Africa or elsewhere, I must go. You must pray that the Lord will enable all of us to be resigned to His will We must not look at time, but eternity. We do not live for time but for eternity."
Much more kindred sentiment, prompted by the same exalted mood, appears in this letter, but it is not relevant to the present story. The whole of my home correspondence that year should be read as an instructive illustration of the enormous power exercised among the followers of the popular "Orthodoxy" of Christianity, by the unnatural, or anti-natural, other-worldly beliefs they have received concerning Human Nature, and about the Divine Being and Government. It is perfectly true that, even at the present day, kindred abnormal, irrational misdirections of man's spiritual nature hold in distressing subjection many otherwise wholesome-souled men and women.