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themselves, admissible. Not the inferences of the mass of mankind, to be sure; for theirs would be still more sottish and beastly; but those of the more elevated and intelligent.
Reader, are you nearly disgusted? Well, I do not wonder, for I am.
I would not weary your patience, but this account seems to me, one of those prophylactics, as physicians call them, which the present corruption of the moral atmosphere requires; and I cannot but hope it will be useful in saving you from that dreadful disease which had well nigh destroyed my own soul. May my example serve as an awful beacon to warn you to avoid the rocks on I split!
To the young especially, I hope my narrative will be salutary. Next to the treachery of your own deceitful hearts is that treachery which deludes
you into a spurious " free inquiry,” a spurious “ liberality,” “ rationality,” &c. I have seen an end of all this ; and in the language of the wise man can assure you that it is nothing but “vanity and vexation of spirit.” I must be permitted to say once more, however, lest I should be misunderstood, that I am not the enemy but the friend of free inquiry, reason and liberality ; though not of everything which claims these good
I am fully convinced that there is no
where less of either of these ihan among those who make the loudest and most exclusive pretensions to them. But not to inquire freely, reason carefully, and be liberal and charitable, in the true sense of these terms, is treason, almost, against Him who gave you your faculties. Let me especially urge you to use your common sense. For this, too, you are accountable. Let it go with you
in your inquiries on the subject of religion, as well as accompany you elsewhere--and do not suffer yourselves, by neglecting and despising so precious a boon, to sink in the blackness of darkness forever. *
To resume my subject. There seems to be a war against formal prayer, Sabbath keeping, &c., in the foregoing paragraphs ; but why? Do not words and the posture of the body influence the mind ? For my own part, I have no doubt that in any given instance, he will possess most of the spirit of prayer, other things being equal, who makes the most of language, posture, &c.-provided his course of conduct does not become theatrical. But
But suppose the supplicating posture, and the language of confession, thanksgiving, entreaty, &c., were universally excluded, how long
* See Appendix, note C.
would the spirit of these things remain ? Those persons who oppose all prayer but what they call praying in spirit, seem to forget a doctrine which is usually quite a favorite with them, viz. that " example is better than precept.” They even hold that religion is principally to be inculcated by example. But if prayer must always be purely mental, or rather must consist in a general feeling of benevolence; and if example is the only or principal mode of teaching others to pray, all prayer, whatever, would cease with the next generation. The same remarks are true—and strikingly so,—of the keeping of the Sabbath, of attention to Baptism, the Lord's Supper, &c.
We are inoreover directed to “ let our light shine.” But how can it shine, if it is never to be embodied into words or actions ? Our love to God, for example-how could our light shine, in this respect, if there was no evidence to the world around us, in our language or actions, that we ever thought of him?
CHAPTER I X.
PROGRESS IN ERROR.
My Rationalism.-Interview and discussion with a Minister.
When an individual has once set out in a course of error, there is no telling where he may end. All vices and error, as well as virtues, are relatives. Having embraced one error, you are more likely, other things being equal, to admit another, and sometimes a whole company of them at once. This tendency in our nature is highly useful when properly directed; otherwise its results are equally injurious.
Having lowered the scriptures and the Savior to suit my own convenience, it was now perfectly natural to take another step. I had robbed him of his darling attribute, mercy, by reducing the Son to the character of a mere creature ; and now I proceeded to strip him, one by one, of his other attributes. The following is a short article which I wrote on the Divine immutability.
Throughout the material world, all things are mutable. Even the mind of man, partaking as it does of a higher nature than that of other animals, is subject to change. We are not the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. When we review our past lives, how are we struck at the difference between our present views and feelings, and those of some former period! We can scarcely believe we are the same beings. We think ourselves right now, though formerly wrong. But why? If our sentiments have altered during the last ten years, who shall guarantee their immutability for ten years to come? Why are we so fond of considering ourselves as being already perfect ?' Simply, I think, because we have been taught, time immemorial, to worship an immutable Deity.
" The character of man has always borne some proportion to the character of the Deity he has contemplated. Or to place the subject in a clearer point of view, man, individually and collectively, rises higher in the scale of excellence, the higher the standard at which he aims. And to the greatest possible excellence—the greatest at least of which we can conceive—we give the name of Deity. Now immutability is said to be one of God's attributes. Hence is it not highly probable