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is improbable, however, that if repentance were necessary, there was vigor enough of body and mind, when the course of concealment first commenced, for the purpose. In similar circumstances, I should now advise, rather than endeavor to prevent religious conversation, in the early part of the disease. I mean I should do so with the permission of the physician.
But no ordinary circumstances should induce me to encourage a thing of this kind, unless the physician thought it best. When he is called, every thing which pertains to the social and moral, no less than the physical treatment of the individual, should be wholly left to him. He may be requested and even urged, but never opposed. If our confi
according to the construction which the inquirer puts upon it, he does not believe in a Savior.
Thus a person is, not unaptly, led into the habit of stating his own views in langauge, which he knows will be construed quite differently from the manner in which he himself construes it;—and thus he is led, gradually, to misrepresentation and duplicity. A man, in this way, may belong to any and every sect he meets with; for he has only to quote scripture, in their own order and arrangement, and say that he believes it, without giving his own definition. This was the habit into which I was insensibly led, notwithstanding my early rectitude.
dence is misplaced, we should withdraw it at once. There are more physicians than one in the world.
There are undoubtedly periods, during the progress of chronic disease—and sometimes of diseases which are acute—in which the presence of a minister or any prudent christian friend would be salutary to the body as well as the soul. Great caution, however, ought to be used on this subject; and if it were wholly left to the good sense of the physician to prescribe, I am quite confident society would, in the end, reap a rich reward, and at the same time remove one prominent cause of that medical skepticism which, after all, it cannot be denied, does too frequently exist, and which may possibly be increasing.
External attention to religion.—Specimen of my opinions and
mode of reasoning.–Their fallacy shown.
All this while, events were transpiring which could not do less than confirm the popular suspicions in regard to my orthodoxy. Still, however, I did not leave the place of my supposed concealment, but continued to shelter myself behind the language of compromise, evasion, and sometimes, I fear, of duplicity. My zeal in the cause of improvement—so far as the eye of external observation could judge—was even increasing. My occupation presented more difficulties than that of most men, and yet there were few, if
any individuals in the community who paid greater attention to all the outward means of grace (the sacraments excepted) than I did. I was almost always at church seasonably, and at my post in the Sabbath school. Partly from conviction of
its importance, I used for a year or two to kneel in the church during prayer, and stand during singing, although in these two respects, I was alone. In the family where I was a boarder, I obtained permission to attend family worship night and morning, and to attend to other religious duties. And although I was in part convinced of the importance of these duties, as duties, yet I was probably influenced in no small degree by a desire to repel, by my life and conduct, the growing public suspicions. The more these gained strength, the more persevering I was in the performance of these outward duties.
But while all this was going on in the external world, it may not be uninteresting to the reader to see what was within, and what title I had to the character which I claimed. The following paragraphs are extracted from a manuscript which was dated about the time to which the remarks I have just made, apply.
" Whether the practice of depending on external objects to excite the spirit of devotion, does not in the end, produce much more evil than good, is with me a question. I have sometimes thought that by using these artificial helps, we come into a habit of depending on them, and ultimately lose that portion of the real spirit of prayer which we
previously possessed ; and that if prayer ever appears in language it should be a spontaneous thing, excited by the circumstances in which the supplicant is placed.
“We are, indeed, to pray without ceasing. This I understand to imply that we are constantly to live in the spirit of prayer ;—that in all our thoughts and feelings we are to wish and desire good to mankind, our enemies not excepted; and in all our ways, words, and actions, endeavor to promote that general good. To do this, would be to pray without ceasing. Now whether times and seasons for prayer do not on the whole diminish our power as well as our disposition to pray without cessation, demands a doubt. That our feelings, and wishes should rise to such a pitch as to produce emotion, and even ejaculatory prayer, is perfectly natural ; and if emotions of any kind are desirable, they are desirable here. But there is a wide difference between that kind of prayer which is spontaneous, and that which is forcedcompelled. And if compulsion has an unfavorable tendency, generally, how know we but its tendency is unhappy here? How do we know but that while we force ourselves to attend prayer, statedly, as a duty, instead of having it excited by spontaneous feeling, we are fostering a spirit