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secured me this privilege was, probably, the organization in Chambersburg of a regiment in which scores of my childhood playmates had been enrolled. I insisted that I should be "disgraced forever" should I not go with them.
Thereby it came to pass that, for the next year, beginning with the Second Battle of Manassas I had part in the vicissitudes of the Army of the Potomac, until the disastrous Battle of Chancellorsville, where I closed my career as an enlisted soldier, by becoming a prisoner of war, confined in Libby Prison, at Richmond, Virginia.
Farther on in this book, in the section "Memorials of the Civil War," I shall recall much, in detail, of that year ever memorable to me; together with personal experiences passed through in other years of the great conflict.
My religious life, throughout the year in which I was an enlisted soldier, continued with but little change in either fervor, or expression. In after times, however, I realized that some happenings, then, did much towards opening to me a wider human world; and towards making me see that real religion could exist and bear rich fruit under creeds which differed considerably from that which had been my inheritance. For the first time I met, among the regiments with which I became most nearly associated, many New England men.
Soon after enlistment, I was detached from my company to become the Ordance Sergeant of the Second Division of the Ninth Army Corps. In this service I became rather closely related to some of the officers of the Division. Several of the Division's regiments were from New England. Among these officers I found a number of professedly religious men, most of whom I learned to respect intellectually as well as religiously. I learned also, ere long,
that some of these men were habituated to a theological liberalism much larger than that exercised by the Church people I had known. I did not meet any among these new acquaintances who were avowedly "unorthodox," or "infidel "; but several of them had doctrinal views with which I had either no familiarity, or which I had heard of chiefly that I might distrust and avoid them.
Without any conscious weakening in my allegiance to the Old School Presbyterian "Confession," I came to have an inspiring fellowship with some of these New School New England Congregationalists. I think that I can refer to some aquaintanceships made then, a considerable expansion of my intellectual horizon, and an increased indulgence towards sincere men who held other beliefs than those which I had been reared to think of as "Gospel truth."
I was not yet capable of perceiving that my professed beliefs were not, in any real sense of the word, my personal Faith. I held, and I was ready to defend, a series of doctrines as the embodiment of my faith, but I did not know that they were, in fact, only the doctrines of the Creed into whose possession I had been born, and which had been interpreted for me by my parents and instructors. These beliefs were treasured heritages, receiving a loyal allegiance; they were not personal acquisitions, won by study,-by a purposed research; they were not my own convictions, instinctive or reasoned. Like all other children, I was growing to maturity with my religious thinking dominated by the special traditions which had been carried onward from past time and brought to me by my family and teachers. I was being led towards my adult intellectual age without having had any personal choice concerning the way over which I was going.
Of course, an inherited creed is not to be considered untenable, or baseless, because it is an inheritance. Nevertheless, the fact must be acknowledged that my Creed was composed of beliefs which others, in the far or near past, had won for themselves, and which by bequest had been perpetuated for me and for multitudes of mankind in the institutions which they had founded, or supported. This momentous, fundamental fact I could not know, or understand, in my childhood and youth. And I could not, as all others can not, until well towards mature years, do any thing towards making it serviceable as a part of personal intellectual development.
So then, at the time of which I write, I was following the way laid for me by my ancestors and the instructors chosen for me. I was affected by my own experiences only so far as changing circumstances were beginning to disclose a life in the world larger than, and differing from, that which I had known, and were inducing a kindly indulgence towards those in whom, with differing doctrinal beliefs, I saw much that was also true and very good.
d. Return to Princeton.-In the autumn of 1863 I was again at Princeton, having returned that I might finish the Collegiate course. This year, as a Senior, I passed without undergoing any special change in my religious experiences. My personal religious habits, Sunday School, Church, and Philadelphian Society work, were resumed. I think I was somewhat conscious of having had a real expansion in scope of thought, and of an increase in sympathetic regard for my fellow men as Christians, though there might be much difference of belief between them and me. I did not, however, question the value of the Presbyterian "Confession of Faith" as the highest
and most complete interpretation of the "Divine Revelation" and of the "Way of God with Man."
ORATION AT GRADUATION.
In 1864, I was graduated from College. The theme I chose for the part assigned me at the "Commencement exercises was quite characteristic of my mood then.
"A GOOD CAUSE MAKETH A STOUT HEART."
This oration was only a crudely phrased proclamation of the convictions of a very immature youth. It is not worth reproduction as a whole, now. But, as it indicates well the dominant motive force of my youth; and may, moreover, be regarded as a way-mark for my conduct in the most important movements that have occurred in an unusually eventful mental and spiritual career, I will quote somewhat from it.
At the outset, I personified Truth and Error as "two elementary, antagonistic Powers, pervading the entire moral creation."
"Their great field of contention," I declared, "lies in the reason and free-will of man." To-day the conflict wages fiercely. - Truth and Error, each mustering mighty armed hosts, are in deadly grapple."
"The cause of Truth is the cause of Good. A good cause makes the weak and fainting human heart strong and invincible. A good cause will make a stout heart." Then I sought to show why this claim is tenable :1. "A good cause will banish fear," I asserted. long roll of heroes and hero-martyrs who have braved even death for Truth's sake shows this."
2. Moreover," a good cause inspires perfect frankness. Error dwells in the clouds of deceit. Truth presents a
bold front in the clear light of frankness. In fearlessness there is frankness; in frankness there is strength." 3. Again, "a good cause arouses earnestness." "The slave of Error may contend with diabolic desperation for his cause, but heroic earnestness is his alone who defends the holy Cause of Truth."
4. Then, " from fearlessness, frankness, and earnestness, springs consistency." "Let a man be absorbed by a desire to promote a good cause, and his life will be ever onward and unswerving."
5. "Thereby he will be firm." "No gleam of better things may penetrate the gathering gloom of the contest, yet his trust never wavers.'
6. And "finally, a good cause makes a stout heart, because it renders its advocate happy. Happiness is an element of strength. Happiness is his only who is conscious of the justice of his cause, and is confident of final success. He looks forward with a joyful heart to the certain time when the victory shall be Truth's."
I add to these fragmentary excerpts the peroration in full.———
"Let us, then, give our powers to some Good Cause. Let us enlist heartily, strike fearlessly, openly, earnestly, consistently and firmly; battling with happy, hopeful hearts. Error will soon lose its vigor. The fearful looking forward to judgment, the deceit, desperation, wavering and misery of its advocates will lead to its complete overthrow. We may not live till this is accomplished: but we can cheerfully, give our weapons to those who follow us, and leave the field with the assurance that all will yet be well. A good cause is the cause of Truth. Truth is omnipotent. It is the very essence of God. Then, let us live and die with perfect confidence that victorious garlands will one day be wreathed around the calm, white brow of Godlike Truth and in a higher and better life we shall share in the rewards of her victories."
With this aspiring declaration of an Ideal, as indicative of personal purpose, my career as a College student was closed.