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b. Spiritual and Intellectual Limitations.-In my relations with fellow students during the time of this exalted and abnormal mood, inevitably I became known as "a Christian." But I observe, in reading the many letters of College mates which are preserved in my Class "autograph books," that this religious reputation did not carry with it any offensive "sanctimoniousness." I did not lose my characteristic cheeriness outwardly, or sacrifice my love of comradeship. I maintained a good reputation in Whig Hall, in the gymnasium, and in various of the outof-door athletics, and country sports. But in private, I remember, I read daily and widely in books of devotion, of religious biography, of Biblical commentary, and of doctrinal exposition.
I became interested in philosophic writings which bore upon the profounder problems of mind and soul, as means co-operating with my distinctively religious books; of course, however, in speculations which came from the pens of Orthodox thinkers.
I was instinctively attracted to natural science, too; but my ventures in its departments were made under the guidance of a favorite teacher and friend, Professor Arnold Guyot, whose exposition of "the harmony of the Book of Genesis with the discoveries of Geological Science charmed me. He made me feel intellectually bold. In a measure, I was affected in like manner by our college astronomer, Professor Stephen Alexander, whose lectures on the "Nebular Hypothesis" gave me, yet farther, assurance that I had been put en rapport with Science, as a real helper and strong support of Revelation.
Above all, however, I thought that in some writings of Dr. Archibald Alexander, and of Dr. Charles Hodge, which
I read into now and then, I was prospectively in possession of inexpugnable expositions of my ancestral "creed " as the divinely revealed truth. I felt confident that in them I was the recipient of statements of the great doctrine of "Divine Sovereignty," and of its stupendous consequences as set forth in the Westminster "Confession of Faith," which would confirm the doctrine without any questionings that would seemingly endanger my future allegiance to it
Recalling further that memorable winter, I am obliged to conclude that if there ever was a time when my religious experience, considered as a reflex of thought and feeling, became unwholesome and carried me to the verge of, if not into, spiritual morbidity, it was then. Self-consciousness, and a sensitive, questioning introspection were continuous and acute. I thought of myself as being within an arena witnessing a constant conflict of my good with my evil thinking and desire. I suffered from much self-condemnation, often without real reason, I now am sure. I constantly sought relief in prayer, in penitence, and in penance; frequently rejoicing over "answers to prayer," or lamenting over a sense of "divine forgiveness" delayed.
About that time, I think it was, I came across the "Memoirs of Robert Murray McCheyne," the life-record of a highly cultivated, most spiritually minded young Scottish clergyman, whose vivid religious sensitiveness, aspiring longings, tender and gracious interpretations of the awful and terrible Creed of our common ancestral Church, won me to a daily reading of his letters and other writings. For years these "Memoirs" were my most prized vade mecum.
With the coming of the summer vacation in 1862, the question of how to occupy my time through it became of
considerable importance. I could not content myself with an idle summer at home, restless as I was about my duty to our distressed country.
c. Attempt to be a Colporteur.-My Presbyterian minister-uncle had urged me to come for the vacation to his parish on Long Island, New York, and begin practical training for the ministry by circulating religious literature among his people.
I hesitated, under a strong desire to do something for the soldiers "at the front." But when, at length, the wish to do army work, or to enter the army, seemed to be finally refused by my parents, I consented to take up with my uncle's project. I received from the Presbyterian Board of Publication a commission as colporteur; my "field of labor to be Long Island, New York." What happened thereafter is best told in a hurried, impulsive letter written to my parents early in July from my uncle's home :
"I have an object in writing this to you which will no doubt be a surprise. When Uncle- wrote to me to take a position as colporteur, I consented to do so, feeling that, perhaps, that was the best way in which I could glorify my Maker. Yet, my desires often ran in a far different channel.
I came here, and on Monday entered upon my work. I was at it but two hours and grew tired of it. I was not discouraged, but I felt as if I were not in my right sphere. However, I determined to go ahead.
Tuesday morning I started out with a brave heart and a huge basket of new books on one arm. I first went into a doctor's house. "Oh! yes." "Pleased" that I had "called." But "didn't want any just then," and so on. I went on, and sold a little ten or fifteen cent book here and there. Most of the people I met felt above the poor "pedlar." Well, I went on with a humiliated heart, and, soon after, I came to a place where
a dog got at me rather violently, yet not dangerously. A woman came to the door and chased him away, and said "That dog always barks at pedlars."
But I went on. People who would have paid me extreme deference at any other time now treated me as far below them. I went to a rich man's house,' and he almost drove me away.
Many other things, which I will not describe, happened to me. By evening my foot was rubbed sore, and I was physically nearly done for. My basket must have weighed nearly forty pounds. But these things are what I deserve for my proud heart. I need humbling. Well, next day I was laid up. To-day I am all right again,
except for my foot.
So, you have your son's first experience at colportage. It has done me good. I have learned that human nature is unjust, and that I am proud. My experience is somewhat laughable, but true. However, the servant is not above his Lord, and my position is not worse than I deserve.
I have every comfort with Uncle, and my trials are only in this contact with people. From what I have seen, I think I am not fitted to do this work. Besides, nobody wants to buy. "Times is too hard," and, "We have plenty of books," are the excuses everywhere. The war has stopped everything else. But to come to the point."
I can remember even now, somewhat, my state of mind during that experience. The hardships of that primary lesson, which I had undertaken to learn by way of preparation for my life's vocation, were made far more severe, I am confident, by my special mental condition at the time. It was not my way, when meeting difficulties, to run away from them. Other influences made me wish "to quit" that home-mission work. For this reason it was that the letter, from which I have been quoting continued,
"I said my mind is not at rest. Well, it is not; and I am going to be frank and tell you why. I wish you to receive it frankly, and know that I am in earnest, and mean what I say. Since I have been kept-justly-from entering the army, it has been a ruling desire with me, always, to do some good to the brave men who have gone to fight for the preservation of your home and my rights. God's voice calls me to assist them in what way I can. I have given myself, I trust, to God; and no matter what I may do for Him He will take care of me. When called to colportage I went reluctantly, because I felt some duty more prominent than it pressing upon me. But I pushed it away, and went to my appointed work.
"This morning, while reading of the terrific battles which occurred lately, and of the sufferings of the wounded, and noticing appeals for help, I expressed the feelings of my heart in a slight way. Uncle immediately told me that if all my energies were not in colportage, and I liked anything else better, I had better stop it at once, and get to work where my soul,-heart as well as body,-were engaged. I spoke of going to the hospitals as a nurse. He said, if that was my true feeling, to go by all means. Aunt thinks I am not fit.
"But this is what I think; and I feel to be my imperative duty, immediately, when every man must forget everything else and work for the beloved Union.
Almost all the hospitals are filled with the dying and wounded of our battles. The nurses, though there are many noble exceptions, have taken their positions as a matter of mere business, to be paid for it. Many a poor fellow is disregarded and passed by, out of neglect. This must not be. Christ-like love should guide the nurses; and every Christian young man in this country who cannot enter the ranks is called upon to minister his mite to his wounded brethren. Let the rough nurses shoulder the musket, and their places be filled with those who love to do good for its own sake, and who love the souls of dying men. Men are entering the hospitals who are fast closing the scenes of life. Perhaps some kind hand is there to ease their pain. But where is the voice to