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intimated that I had a creed at this time, and that I could so interpret Scripture as to appear to believe with any, all, or none of my fellow menjust as suited my humor or convenience—it may be best, before proceeding to relate the circumstances that led me out of the path of error, to state as briefly as possible what the leading articles of my
creed were. I believed that there was a Great First Cause of the Universe and its inhabitants, and that this First Cause was good as well as great. I believed that man, whether he originated from an oyster or not, was destined to a glorious immortality ; that is, such is the destination of the species, taken as a whole. But whether we were to live again in Jupiter, Herschel, the Sun, or in some remoter part of the universe, to go on forever in the career of perfectibility and immortality, or whether the only immortality to which we were destined, was that of the species collectively considered, and obtainable alone on this earth, I was not quite certain.
This earth I conceived to be a great temple for the worship of Jehovah; the facts contained in the book of nature, the principal revelation ; and all those employments which had a tendency to promote the happiness of mankind, religious
worship. Every day I regarded as the Sabbath; every hour, holy time. Those who ate and drank as they ought, daily held communion with Christ, and with God. · Those who lived and moved and breathed only to promote the happiness of mankind, prayed without ceasing.
I believed in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament so far as to believe that they contained many important facts; and whenever I found doctrines there which corresponded with our experience, I admitted them to be the word of God. Wherever in the universe, there was good, there, I believed was God, whether in this world or elsewhere; and wherever evil was found, there was the grand adversary. I believed that in proportion as we were perfect, morally and religiously, we were adjudged to everlasting life (and this daily and hourly; conscience being the judge on the throne, with the books opened, &c.); and in proportion as our characters were the contrary of all this, we were sentenced to everlasting or spiritual (mental) punishment.
I may also add, in this place, before proceeding further, that I thought my faith, in some measure, tested, about this time, by the following circumstance. An epidemic disease prevailed, which was very fatal, and I was seized
The circumstances and symptoms were such as to threaten danger. But my skeptical faith was strong. Before I became much weakened by disease, I called for pen and paper, and had them placed by my bedside. Then, with considerable effort, I wrote a few lines respecting the disposal of my wordly concerns, together with a few general remarks tending to show, or at least to make others believe that I was at peace with myself, and not only satisfied with my past course but desirous of going on with my efforts to do good, as I called them, in the next world; after which I submitted pretty cheerfully to my fate. * I will not
* The following are the closing paragraphs of this singular document, which has been preserved, as a curiosity, 10 this time. Observe, if you please, how I had religion and religious truths on my tongue, while hanging over the very verge as it were of eternity; and observe too, the curious mixture of truth and error.
“I write this under the impression that I shall not recover; but of this I cannot be certain, of course. If I get well, I shall be glad of it, and shall try to pursue the plan of life I have for some time had marked out. If I die, why perhaps I may have an opportunity to carry on my benevolent plans in some other world.
“ Remember it is my anxious request that no formal prayers, sermons, hymns, or any other religious services be permitted near me, during my last days or hours—at house, church, or grave yard. When you have kept my body as
say that there were no misgivings; for there
But I knew that any anxiety in regard to the future would diminish my chance of recovery,—and I also believed that I could not, at the worst, be very miserable in any future world. Besides, it was my duty* to die—if die I mustlike a man and a philosopher.
Contrary to my expectations, however, I finally recovered. This experiment has strengthened the conviction in my own mind, that people generally die much as they live; and that the manner of our exit is a miserable test of our religious character ;—the public sentiment to the contrary notwithstanding
long as you think proper, commit it to the grave, in a plain manner, and with as little ceremony as possible.-I am sure you will comply with my request when you know my reasons; one of which is a belief that the cause of truth has always suffered, and always will suffer from connecting ideas of sickness, death, &c., with so many of our religious services. I am determined, with your permission, to set the world a rational example."
* This word duty, in everybody's mouth who wishes to sustain a good character in society, is particularly so in the mouths of hypocrites and double dealers.
MY FURTHER PROGRESS.
The secret getting out.-How I was treated.—Charges
against me.-An injudicious minister.—Word of caution.Publicly reported that I was a Unitarian.-The consequences.
It was now pretty well understood that I had adopted sentiments which were hostile to evangelical truth. Some thought I was simply a Universalist; some a Unitarian; some who knew that I read the writings of skeptics had strong suspicions of a tendency to infidelity. But instead of coming to me and endeavoring to set me right, they generally took a course which, though meant to put the unwary on their guard, only had the effect to drive me farther and farther from the truth. This was by shrugging the shoulders, shaking the head, sighing, &c., when I happened to be the subject of conversation ; adding strong expressions of regret.
One man in particular, who was one of the