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knowing whether to go backward or forward. I was becoming utterly sick, however, of Unitarianism. I viewed it as an inefficient 6 milk and water” system. Besides, I was confident no rational, consistent, and inquiring mind, that had once adopted “liberal” principles, could fail of coming to the ground I then occupied—that there was no defensible middle ground between orthodoxy and downright skepticism. To one of them I felt I must go ultimately-yea soon—but, to which? This I could not determine. Orthodoxy, I could not believe, nor even the Christian religion ;Skepticism I was a little afraid of.
At length I determined to make a tour of discovery among the “free inquirers,” and ascertain what my propects of usefulness would be among them; and who, if I joined them, were likely to be my associates. I found they had greatly overrated their numbers, talents, and respectability ; though not their zeal or disposition to make proselytes. Indeed, I was confirmed in the opinion that no class of citizens were laboring harder or making greater sacrifices to accomplish their purposes, than they
Still I did not quite like their appearance. It was not very gratifying, after hearing a lecture on chemistry on the Sabbath, to witness at the close
a scene of amusement with the nitrous oxyd or exhilarating gas. I returned to my home, and for some time continued in a state of painful suspense.
About this period, a work of Dr. Chalmers, of Scotland, was handed me. As I knew something of the Doctor's history, and that he had been, during his early life, for many years a Socinian, I took hold of the work, and read it with much interest. This was followed by a re-examination of Paley's Evidences of Christianity. These works—especially that of Chalmers ;-made some impression; and I began to think that religion, after all, might be true.
As to the argument which is sometimes urged, that it is safer to believe, than to disbelieve, because if religion should prove true, we are then safe, but if untrue, we are yet as safe as others ; I most heartily despised it, and still do.
The same train of argunent is sometimes urged in behalf of the doctrine of eternal punishment; but it does appear to me, we ought to be ashamed of it. I am wholly opposed to such arguments in any case; but in religion above all, they are abominable. If religion is true, let it be received if not, reject it. So of the doctrine of future punishment, or any other doctrine. Heaven is, or
should be, something more than a place of mere escape from hell, or a receptacle of hypocrites ;—it is a positive state, or it does not and ought not to exist.
The arguments of Dr. Chalmers at length appeared so convincing, that I found it more difficult to resist the weight of evidence in favor of christianity, than to receive it. On any other subject, when the arguments in favor of the thing were, for example, as twenty, and those against it only nineteen, if I thought I had made a thorough investigation of the whole subject, and the time had arrived when it was my duty to act, I knew I should yield at once to the preponderating evidence. Why then should I not yield in the present case ? I found, at length, that I must do so, or give up all claim to common sense. As a choice of difficulties, then, Revelation was received.
Revelation being admitted, new difficulties arise about some
of its doctrines.—The divine nature.—My inquiries.—Dr. Channing's notions of the dignity of human nature.—The views of evangelical sects on this subject.
But I now found difficulties thickening upon me on every side. If a revelation had been made by God, I was bound to ascertain what it taught. Hitherto, I had supposed that the question lay between skepticism and orthodox or evangelical sentiments ; and that in rejecting the one, I could not avoid going at once with my whole heart to the other. How was I disappointed! Though compelled to admit a divine revelation, my heart rose against every leading orthodox doctrine ; and I seemed further from peace of mind and selfsatisfaction than before. Though I had been disgusted with Unitarianism in practice, the whole array of what I had been accustomed at one period to regard as scriptural argument in its favor
now presented itself before me. In short, I found myself obliged to return by the way I came; and to retrace almost every step of my wanderings.
My first conflict was with the doctrine of the Trinity. This was a great mystery. Must I admit, as a fact, a mode of existence so mysterious ? Mysteries, at this time, were terrible things to me. Philosopher, as I wished to be, I seemed to forget that ten thousand things existed in the world around me, the manner of whose existence was as really a mystery, as the manner of existence of three persons in one God.
A friend, in a walk with me one day, put me upon a new train of thought. Said he, "you are fond of making man a kind of triune, composed of body, mind, and heart ; but do you comprehend the nature of this triple union ? If you do not, why should you speak of them so frequently, as if they were in some measure independent of each other, when they really constitute but one individual ?” I could not answer him.
My friend's remark was just; for I was then, and am still, exceedingly partial to this view of the nature of man. It appears to me to accord entirely with every known fact in regard to our wonderful and wonderfully complicated character ; as well as with the declaration of revela