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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
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 agaiust 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. I can 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
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, infuence, 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 erercised 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.
6. Spiritual and Intellectual Limitations.-In my relations with fellow students during the time of this exalted and abnormal mood, inevitably I became known as "& 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 bere and there.
Most of the people I met felo above the poor “ pedlar.”
Well, I went on with a humiliated heart, and, soon after, I came to a place where