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where I stand, and to what documents I have had access.
I have said that I made great efforts to procure converts. To one of my correspondents I had already announced the names of several whom I considered as certain ; one or two of whom had been subjects of the late “revival.” Several more I regarded as thinking. Any individual who would find fault with orthodoxy—or rather with its abuses, I regarded as more than half converted; for I always felt sure of gradually bringing him to the truth," as I called it, if I could bring him to censure the existing order of things. At that time I had not fully learned by dear bought experience, as I have since, that it is one thing to “pull down,” but quite another affair to “ build up.” Nor had I fully learned another lesson of at least equal importance, viz., that conviction is not always followed by conversion.
MY PROGRESS, CONTINUED.
Specimen of my manner of preaching.-Its effects on Mr.
H.-Its general effects. What is most discouraging about it.
How have I been the dupe of delusive appearances, especially with the middle aged! Many a man of forty-five or fifty years of age has, in the progress of several different conversations, seemed to assent to every thing I could wish ; and yet in a little time he would be precisely where he was before. As if his brain was elastic, the impressions made on the yielding mass, like those on India rubber, have in a short time entirely disappeared.
The topics I used generally to dwell upon, as an entering wedge to my system, were our public plans for religious and moral improvement. Missionary, Bible, and Temperance societies, and Sunday School Unions were especial objects of
my dislike, and against these I found it easy to excite prejudice. Indeed all “associations and combinations of men,” (churches, I suppose, were not excepted,) to say the least, were regarded as of doubtful tendency.
One interview in particular, I remember ; and this will serve as a specimen. 'I fell into conversation with Mr. H., a man about fifty, as he rested on the handle of his hoe a few moments to hear and approve my “ preaching.”
The mind of Mr. H. was filled with fears about what he called an aspiring priesthood ; consequently I knew what subject would be most likely to interest him. I said to him ; “A mighty effort is now making by the orthodox clergy in this country to secure to themselves an ascendancy in the minds of the community, and this under cover of a pretence to exert a moral influence. An enlightened moral influence, might, as a nation, save us ; but a moral influence which is unenlightened, would prove, as it ever has done, a curse to society. The genius of this government allows much civil freedom, and this strongly disposes men for religious freedom.
This our ecclesiastical leaders well know, and govern themselves accordingly. But how? Why, by arraying themselves against mental freedom; and estab
lishing a union between church and state ; or what is, to all intents and purposes, the same thing.
" I know they all deny that they wish for any such union, but of what use is it to deny a fact so palpable? There can be no doubt in the mind of any reasonable, thinking person, that the orthodox sects in this country are even now combined to obtain an ascendancy over other sects and individuals whom they deem heterodox. Orthodoxy is to be the order of the day—in other words, the established religion ;—and he who is not orthodox may get a civil appointment, or sustain himself in an occupation or profession, if he can. And what is this but a union of civil and ecclesiastical power, or a union of church and state ?
“ Take, for example, the Bible society. The avowed object of this society is to give the Bible to all the earth. First, its various members are to supply their own vicinity,—town, county, state, &c., then, when this is accomplished, they are to go further, and give it to all other nations in their own language. Now, this plan looks very fair. We will take it for granted that the object can be accomplished, and that, if accomplished, it will be beneficial. But it will certainly operate as a monopoly of the sale of books ; and monopolies, you and I both abhor.
Suppose the general depository for the state of New York to be in the city of New York. One depository and one agent,—with, perhaps a few sub-agents—will be sufficient for that great city ; but what are fifty or a hundred other booksellers to do? The Society will have such an extensive sale at their command that they can well afford to sell cheaper than other merchants; and this will operate as a complete monopoly, so far as Bibles and Testaments are concerned.
“Do you say that other booksellers will still have the sale of other books ?
To be sure they may ; but who can doubt that the Sunday School Union will soon make the same persons and places the agents and depositories for the sale of all Sabbath school books ? Next, all public libraries must be supplied from the same source ; then all other school books must come from this particular quarter; and thus the whole book trade will, by degrees, be turned into the same channel.
“You may say to me, Where is the harm of all this, since we have at present far too many men engaged in the business, and on your own supposition a smaller number of men will be employed, but they will be better men, and jockies will be discouraged; besides which, books of a