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could be. This, at least, was the impression which his looks, and conversation, and behaviour, made on my mind. He not only commanded my respect, but called forth my veneration; and he made me love him, as I never did love more than two or three good men in all my life.
A TRULY CHRISTIAN OPPONENT.
Well, an arrangement was made for a public discussion on the divine authority of the Bible between this good and godly man and me.
The discussion took place in the City Hall, Glasgow. The Colonel was so kind and gentlemanly, that I found my task exceedingly difficult. It was very unpleasant to speak lightly of the faith of so good and true a man; or to say anything calculated to hurt the feelings of one so guileless and so affectionate. And many a time I wished myself employed about some other business, or engaged in a contest with some other man. At the end of the second night's debate we were to rest two days, and the Colonel was so kind as to invite me, and even to press me, to spend those days with him at his residence near Ayr. The Colonel had given his good lady so favorable an account of my behaviour in the debate, that she wrote to me enforcing her good husband's invitation. I went. I could do no other. The Colonel and his venerable father met me at the station with a carriage, and I was soon in the midst of the Colonel's truly Christian and happy family. Neither the Colonel nor any of his household attempted to draw me into controversy. Not a word was spoken that was calculated to make me feel uneasy. There seemed no effort on the part of any one, yet every thing was said and done in such a way as to make me feel myself perfectly at home. Love, true Christian love, under the guidance of the highest culture, was the moving spirit in the Colonel's family circle. A visit to the birthplace of Burns, and to the banks of Bonny Doon, was proposed, and a most delightful stroll we had, made all the more pleasant by the Colonel's remarks on the various objects of interest that came in view, and his apt quotation of passages from the works of the poet, referring to the scenery amidst which we were moving.
On our return home I was made to feel at ease again with regard to every thing but myself. I felt sorry that I
should be at variance with my kind and accomplished host on a subject of so much interest and importance as religion and the Bible. The thought that on the evening of the coming day I should have to appear on the platform again as his opponent, was really annoying. To talk with such a man privately, in a free and friendly way, seemed proper enough; but to appear in public as his antagonist seemed too bad. When we started from Ayr to Glasgow in the same train, and in the same carriage, I felt as if I would much rather have travelled in some other direction, or on a different errand. But an agreement had been made, and it must be kept; so two more nights were spent in discussion. But it was discussion,-fair and friendly discussion,-and not quarrelling. Neither he nor I gave utterance to an unkind or reproachful word. When the discussion was over, the Colonel shook me by the hand in a most hearty manner in the presence of an excited audience, and presented me with a book as an expression of his respect and good feeling. I made the best returns I could, unwilling to be too much outdone by my gallant and Christian friend. The audience, divided as they were on matters of religion, after gazing some time on the spectacle presented on the platform, as if at loss what to do, or which of the disputants they should applaud, dropped their differences, and all united in applauding both, and the disputants and the audience separated with the heartiest demonstrations of satisfaction and mutual good-will. The events of those days, and the impression I received of my opponent's exalted character, never faded from my memory. And though they had not all the effect they ought to have had, their influence on my mind was truly salutary. I have never thought of Colonel Shaw and his good, kind, Christian family, without affection, gratitude, and delight. He wrote to me repeatedly after my return to America, and his letters, which reached us when we were living among the wilds of Nebraska, were among our pleasantest visitants, and must be reckoned among the means of my recovery from the horrors of unbelief.
HIS WINNING WAYS.
I cannot doubt but that my encounter with this blessed man did much towards winning back my soul to God, and Christ, and the Church. This gracious man, this child
of light and love,-is still living, and he continues, when I give him the opportunity, to testify his love for me, and his good wishes for my health and welfare. God bless his soul; and bless his household; and, after having given them a long and happy life on earth, receive them to His kingdom, to share together the riches of His love for ever and ever.
CONTINUATION OF MY STORY. FRESH TROUBLES. CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. HOW BROUGHT ABOUT. INCIDENTS. THE CHANGE COMPLETE AT LENGTH. ITS RESULTS.
In compliance with the request of some skeptical neighbours, I lectured against the Divine authority of the Bible in my first settlement in Ohio. Mr. Spofforth, a Methodist minister was induced to hold a public discussion with me on the subject, and as he was not well acquainted either with his own side of the question or the other, he was soon embarrassed and confounded, and obliged to retire from the contest. Not content with the retirement of my opponent, I announced another course of lectures on the Bible, resolved not to relinquish my hold of the people's attention, till I had laid before them my thoughts on the exciting subject at greater length. The company listened to me for a time with great patience, but while I was giving my last lecture, some young men set to work outside to pull down the log school-house in which I was speaking, and I and my friends had to make haste out before the lecture was over, to avoid being buried before we were dead.
The young men had provided themselves plentifully with rotten eggs, thinking to pelt me on my way home; but the night was very dark, and the way led through a tall, dense, shadowy forest, and somehow they mistook their own father for and gave him the him the eggs. When he got home he was as slimy and odoriferous as a man need to be; while I was perfectly clean and sweet.
But I was not to be permitted to escape in this way. During the night they pulled down the fences of my farm, and gave me other hints, that I must leave, or do worse. So I sold my farm for what I could get, and bought another some seventy miles away, near Salem, Columbiana County, a region occupied chiefly by what, in America, were called "Come-outers,"-people who had left the churches and the ministry, and even separated themselves from civil organizations, resolved to be subject to no authority but their own wills or their own whims. Among people so free as those, I thought I should have liberty plenty; but I soon found that they were so fond of freedom, that they wanted my share as well as their own, and I got into trouble once more. And then I saw that the greatest brawlers about liberty, when they come to be tried, are often the most arrant despots and tyrants on the face of the earth.
Then the people in the district were not all Come-outers. Some were Christians. And these I provoked by my disregard of the Sabbath, and by my advocacy of views unfriendly to religion and the divine authority of the Bible. I worked in my garden or on my farm on a Sunday, in sight of my neighbors as they went to church. I had previously called a Bible convention in the place, and taken the leading part in its proceedings. I took the skeptical side in a public discussion on Christianity in the town, and gave utterance to sentiments which pained the hearts of the religious portion of my neighbors beyond endurance. The consequence was, I got into trouble again, and had to move once more, or be undone.
So I moved once more. This time I resolved to make sure of a quiet home, so I went right away beyond the limits of the States, into the unpeopled territory of Nebraska, a country at that period ten or twelve times as large as Pennsylvania or England, and containing less than five thousand white inhabitants-an immense wilderness, occupied chiefly by tribes of red Indians, herds of buffalo and deer, countless multitudes of wolves, with here and there a bear, a panther, or a catamount, and heaps of rattlesnakes. And here I thought I should be safe. And so I was. The Indians gave me no trouble.
I always treated them kindly, and they were kind to me in return. As for the wild beasts, God has "put the fear and dread of man upon every beast of the earth;" and as he approaches, they retire. As a rule, the fiercest beasts of the forest will turn aside to make way for man. I have lived in the midst of multitudes of wolves, and taken no harm. I have slept on the open prairie in regions swarming with wolves, and never been disturbed. I have travelled by night in other parts of the country, over the wildest mountains, the homes of panthers, bears, and catamounts, and never been molested. The rattlesnakes were the most dangerous creatures. Yet even from them I took no harm. I have walked among them time after time in slippers or low shoes, yet I never was bitten. I slept once for three nights with a rattlesnake within two or three inches of my breast, yet escaped unhurt. God took care of me, when I neither took due care of myself, nor cared as I ought for Him.
The parties I feared the most were the white people. They had heard of me, and as they passed me in the street, they looked at me askance, regarding me apparently as a mystery or a monster. But I never shocked them by skeptical lectures, or by any other act of hostility to religion, so they bore with me, and came at length to treat me with respect and confidence. My wife and family were regarded with favor from the first. And I shall never forget the kindness of one of our Christian neighbors to my wife, in a time of affliction and sorrow.
And it is from my settlement in this desolate and faroff region, that I date the commencement of a change for the better in the state of my mind. I do not say that my opinions began to change, but the state of my feelings got better, which rendered possible a change for the better in my sentiments.
But I had reached a sad extreme. I had lost all trust in a Fatherly God, and all good hope of a better life. I had come near to the horrors of utter Atheism. And the universe had become an appalling and inexplicable mystery. And the world had come to be a dreary habitation; and life a weary affair; and many a time I wished I had never been born. And there were occasions when the dark