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of little or no avail. If the more religious portion of the ministers and members had been willing to come out from the Body, and leave their old-fashioned buildings and endowments behind them, they might have done some good; but this they were not prepared to do. Many even of the better class of Unitarian ministers were fond of a quiet literary life. They were students, scholars, and gentlemen, rather than preachers and apostles. They were too good to be where they were, and yet not robust, and daring, and energetic enough to make their way into more useful positions. And their style of preaching was not popular. It never would have moved the masses. Indeed much of it would have been unintelligible to the kind of people who crowded to my meetings. They could not therefore have moved into my sphere without exposing themselves to want. If some one could have gone and helped them in their own work, in their own spheres, it might have answered for them; but it would not have answered for them to come out and battle with the rude, coarse, outside world. And even if good, earnest ministers had gone to their aid, it would have caused a rupture and division in the church.
My labors therefore could do little more than rouse the better portion of the Body to a temporary zeal and activity, and transfer a number of my friends to their communion.
And I and my friends were out of our place, and out of our element, in their society. The earnest words we spoke were not like fire among dry stubble;' but like sparks falling into the water. Instead of us kindling them, they extinguished us. The 'strong man armed' who had got possession of the Unitarian House, was too strong to be overpowered and cast out by anything short of a miracle of Omnipotence. And that was out of the question. Christ can save individuals, but not churches. To members of a dead or depraved church his words are, 'Come out of her, my people.' And there was, and there is, no revival, no salvation, for Unitarians, but by their abandonment of the Unitarian fellowship, and their return to Christ as individuals. So you may guess what followed. I had got where it was impossible for me to do others much good, even if I had been better myself, and where it was impossible for me to prevent others from doing me most serious
CHANNING'S AND THEODORE PARKER'S WORKS. 199
harm. I was on an inclined plane, tending ever downward, with all surrounding influences calculated to render my descent every day more rapid.
Down this inclined plane I gradually slid, till I reached at length the land of doubt and unbelief. My descent was very slow. It took me several years to pass from the more moderate to the more extravagant forms of Unitarianism.
When I first read the works of Dr. Channing, though I was delighted beyond measure with many portions of his writings, I had a great dislike for some of his remarks about Christ and the Atonement. And when I first resolved to publish an edition of his works, I intended to add notes, with a view to neutralize the tendency of his objectionable views; but by the time I got his works into the press, those views appeared objectionable no longer.
I still however regarded portions of Theodore Parker's works with horror. His rejection of miracles, and of the supernatural origin of Christianity, seemed inexcusable. And many a time was I shocked while reading his "Discourse on Matters pertaining to Religion," by the contemptuous manner in which he spoke of portions of the sacred Scriptures. I was enchanted with many parts of the book; but how a man of so much learning, and with such amazing powers, and with so much love and admiration of Christ, and God, and goodness, could go to such extremes seemed a mystery. And I resolved, that if ever I published an edition of his works, I would add a refutation of his revolting extravagances. Yet time, and intercourse with the more advanced Unitarians, brought me, in a few years, to look on Parker as my model man.
When I first heard an Unitarian say, "Supernaturalism is superstition," I gave him to understand that I did not feel easy in his company. "You are right," said Dr. Bateman, "Pay no regard to such extreme views: preach your own old-fashioned practical doctrines." This made me feel more at ease. Yet the gentleman who spoke to me thus, as I afterwards found, was himself an anti-supernaturalist. But he saw that I had to be dealt with carefully,-that I was not to be hurried or argued, but led gently and unconsciously, into ultra views. This was the gentleman that busied himself more than any other in obtaining subscrip
tions towards the steam press. He professed to like my supernatural beliefs much better than the anti-supernatural views of the extremer portion of his brethren. And perhaps he did like them better, though he had lost the power to believe them himself. But whether he liked them or not, he won my confidence, and gained an influence over me, which an honest avowal of his opinions, and especially an open attempt to induce me to accept them, would have rendered it impossible for him to gain.
Strange as it may seem, I still retained many of my old methodistical habits, and tastes, and sensibilities. My mind was still imbued to a considerable extent with true religious feeling. My head had changed faster than my heart. And I still took delight in reading a number of my old religious books. And I had no disposition to indulge myself in worldly amusements. I could not be induced to go to a theatre, or even to a concert. I would not play at draughts or chess. I hated cards. And all this time I held myself prepared to defend, in public discussion, what I considered to be the substance of Christianity. An arrangement was actually made for a public debate on Christianity about this time, between me and Mr. Holyoake. It was to take place at Halifax, and I attended at the time, and stated my views in two lectures; but Mr. Holyoake did not attend. He was prevented from doing so by illness, it was said.
Some of the publications which I issued about this time, in reply to one sent forth by the Rev. W. Cooke, led to a public discussion between me and that gentleman, in the Lecture-room, Newcastle-on-Tyne. Mr. Cooke was a minister-the ablest minister-in the Body to which I myself had formerly belonged. The list of subjects for debate included the following:-"What is a Christian? What is the Scripture doctrine with regard to the Atonement? What is Saving Faith? What do the Scriptures teach with regard to Original Sin, or Natural Depravity, The Trinity, The Divinity of Christ, The Hired Ministry, and Future Punishment?"
The discussion lasted ten nights, and every night the room was crowded to its utmost capacity. The excitement was intense. And it pervaded the whole country. There
were persons present from places nearly two hundred miles distant. Hugh Miller, the Scotch geologist, was there one night. As usual, both parties considered themselves victorious. And both were right. Neither the truth nor the error was all on one side; nor was the argument. Christianity was something different from the creed of either party, and something more and better. It was more and better than the creeds of both parties put together. My opponent, though something of a Christian, was more of a theologian. He was committed to a system, and could not see beyond it, or dared not accept any views at variance with its doctrines. Hence he went in direct opposition to the plainest teachings of the Scriptures, and the clearest dictates of common sense. He found it necessary also, to spend a portion of his time in foolish criticisms on Greek and Hebrew words, and in efforts to make the worse appear the better reason. As for myself, I was committed to change. I was travelling downwards at the time, at a rather rapid rate, and was not to be turned back, or even made to slacken my pace. The ordinary kind of theological vanities I regarded with the utmost contempt, and I had come to look on some portions even of Christ's own teachings as nothing more than doubtful human opinions. I held to the great foundation truths of religion, and to the general principles of Christian truth and duty, and, I will not say, defended them, for they needed no defence beyond their own manifest reasonableness and excellence, but stated them both with sufficient clearness and fulness. But neither party was in a state of mind to learn from the other. War, whether it be a war of words, or a war of deadlier weapons, tends generally to widen the differences and increase the antipathies of the combatants. And so it was here. And one party certainly went further and travelled faster in the way of error after this exciting contest than he had done before.
And greater extremes produced more bitterness of feeling in my opponents. One man wished me dead, and said to a near relation of mine, "If there was a rope round his neck, and I had hold of it, I would hang him myself." And this was a man remarkable, in general, for his meekness and gentleness. Another said he "should like to stick me:" but he was a butcher. Another person, a woman,
said, "Hanging would be too good for him: hell is not bad enough for him." There was one even among my relations that would not speak to me; a relation that before had regarded me with pride. At some places where I was announced to lecture, men organized and plotted to do me bodily injury, and in some cases they threatened me with death. On more than one occasion I had narrow escapes with my life. Once I was struck on the head with a brick, which almost took away my consciousness, and came near putting an end to my life. On another occasion I was hunted by a furious mob for hours, and had repeated hairbreadth escapes from their violence. One man advocated my assassination in a newspaper, and the editor inserted the article, and quietly gave it his sanction.
All this was natural, but it was not Christian, nor was it wise. "The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." Hard bricks have no tendency to soften a man's heart. These attempts to force me into submission made me more rebellious. They roused my indignation to the highest pitch, and fearfully increased my hatred of the churches and their creeds, and made me feel as if I ought to wage against my persecutors an unsparing and eternal
THE BIBLE QUESTION. INSPIRATION,
HISTORY OF MY VIEWS ON THE SUBJECT.
Help me, O Thou Great Good Father of my spirit, in the work on which I am now about to enter. Enable me, on the great and solemn subject on which I am now to speak, to separate the true from the false, the doubtful from the certain, the important from the unimportant. And may I be enabled to make all plain. And save me, O my Father, from going too far. Let me not run to any extreme. Yet enable me to go far enough. May I not, through needless fear, or through any evil motive, be kept from speaking anything that ought to be said. I am Thine,