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the attractions Christ-ward, and made it easier for my soul to return at last to its home of peace and rest.
13. Between thirteen and fourteen years ago, while living in London, I became acquainted with Mr. W. White. He had been reared a Quaker, but, like most hard thinkers, had had experience of doubt, and was, in consequence, after his faith was re-established, able to strengthen his doubting brethren. He contributed to my conversion, first by his enlightened conversation, and then by a long, kind, Christian letter on the Bible, by which he helped me over a number of difficulties which stood in the way of my faith.
MR. WM. WHITE. REV. DR. COOKE.
14. But perhaps none of the parties I have named, had a more powerful and beneficial effect on my mind than one whom I have not yet mentioned. If I had been asked thirteen years ago, whether I supposed there was any minister in the Methodist New Connexion who regarded me with affectionate solicitude, and who was wishful for an opportunity to speak to me words of love and tenderness, I should have answered, "No." If any one had told me that there really was one of my old associates, with whom I had formerly had warm controversy, not only on matters theological, but on matters personal, who had been watching my career for years with the deepest interest, and who for months and years had been earnestly praying for me every day, he would have seemed to me as one amusing himself with fables. Yet such was really the
With no one had I come in closer contact perhaps, or in more frequent and violent collision, than with the Rev. W. Cooke, now Dr. Cooke. He had taken the lead in the proceedings against me in the Ashton Conference, on account of my article on Toleration, Human Creeds, &c., proceedings which had a most unhappy effect on my mind, and which led, at length, to my separation from the Church, and to my alienation from Christ. He had taken an active part in the violent controversies which followed my expulsion from the ministry. We had, at a later period, spent ten nights in public discussion on the leading doctrines of Christianity. He had, in the performance of what he considered his duty I suppose in my case, said
things which had tried me terribly; and I, with ideas of duty differing from his, had made him very liberal returns, in a way not calculated to leave the most favorable or comfortable impressions on his mind towards me. I had never seen him since our long discussion but once, and then he seemed, to my fancy, to be struggling with an inward tempest of very unhappy feeling towards me, which he was hardly able to keep from exploding. I afterwards found though, that I had not interpreted his looks on this occasion correctly. At the time when I took my leave of the Secularists, my unpleasant feelings towards my old opponent had about subsided; but I had no idea that his unpleasant feelings towards me had passed away. Yet such was the case. He had been reading my periodical for some time, and had been pleased to find that both on religion and politics, I was returning, though slowly, to the views of my happier days. Some time in August, 1862, he called at my office in London, with a parcel of books under his arm. He had been praying for me daily for twelve months, when something seemed to say to him, "You should do something more than pray." And now he had come to try what he could do by a personal interview to aid the wanderer's return to Christ. I was from home at the time, but my eldest son was in the office, and he and the Doctor were at once engaged in friendly conversation. "How like you are to what your father was four and thirty years ago, when I first knew him," said the Doctor. "Your father and I were great friends. It was your father that first directed me to the study of Latin and Greek, which have been of great service to me; and I feel indebted to him on that account. We were afterwards separated. But I have observed, as I think, symptoms that your father is returning towards his former views." And many other kind remarks he made. At length he said, "Do you think your father would accept a copy of my works?" My son, who knew the state of his father's mind, answered; "I am sure he would, with great pleasure." The Doctor left copies of his works, kindly inscribed to me with his own hand; and with the books, he left for me a kind and Christian letter. My son lost no time in forwarding me the letter, together with an account
of the pleasant and unlooked-for interview which he had had with the writer. I received the letter, and the interesting story with which it was accompanied, with the greatest astonishment and pleasure. I wrote to the Doctor, reciprocating his expressions of kindness, and making the best returns I could for the valuable present of his works. The result was a correspondence, which has continued to the present time. The correspondence led to interviews, in which the Doctor exhibited, in a very striking manner, the graces and virtues that adorn the Christian character. We talked, we read, we sang, we prayed together, and gave God thanks, with tears of gratitude, for all the blessings of His boundless love.
BY WHAT STEPS I CAME TO CHRIST.
The effect of this kindness on the part of Dr. Cooke was, not only to free my mind from any remains of hurtful feelings towards him, but to dispose me, and enable me, to review the claims of Christianity and the Bible in a spirit of greater fairness and candor, and so to make it possible for me to become, what I had long believed I never could become, a hearty believer in the religion of Christ.
SOME OF THE STEPS BY WHICH I CAME TO FAITH IN CHRIST.
I am not certain that I can state the exact process by which I passed from doubt and unbelief to faith in Christ, but the following, I believe, is very near the truth.
1. There was, first, a sense of the cheerlessness of unbelief the sadness and the sorrow resulting from the loss of trust in God and hope of immortality, and from the wretched prospect of a return to utter nothingness.
2. Then came the distressing feeling of inability to comfort my afflicted or dying friends-my utter helplessness in the presence of sorrow, grief and agony.
3. And then I found myself unable to account for the wonderful marks of design appearing in nature, and especially in my own body, without the acknowledgment of an
intelligent Deity. The wonderful perfection and beauty of a flower or a feather would confound me; while mysterious adaptations in my own frame would fill me with amazement. Darwin's theory of development relieved me for a time; but I soon came to see that some of his explanations of natural phenomena were erroneous, and that none of his facts proved the truth of his theory. Still later I found that Darwin himself acknowledged that the evidences of design in the methods by which certain species of plants were fertilized, were not only overpowering, but startling.
4. Then came dissatisfaction with the theories by which unbelievers sought to account for the existence and order of the universe. They supposed the universe to be eternal, and attributed the production of plants, and animals, and man to the blind unconscious working of lifeless matter. They attributed to dead matter the powers which believers attributed to a living God. They were obliged to believe that senseless atoms could produce works transcending the powers of the mightiest minds on earth. To reconcile their belief in the eternity of the universe, and in the unchanging properties of matter, with the phenomena of change and progress, they supposed an infinite succession of worlds, or of beginnings and endings of the same world, and imagined the earth running exactly the same course, and having exactly the same history, every time it came into existence. Hence it became with them an article of faith, that we had ourselves lived an infinite number of times, and should live an infinite number of times more in the future, repeating always exactly the same life, with exactly the same results. It was also an article of faith that we were mere machines, governed by powers over which we had no control; that our ideas of liberty, and our feelings of responsibility, or of good and ill desert, were all delusions; that all the errors, and crimes, and miseries of our race were inevitable, and were to be eternally repeated; and that a change for the better was eternally impossible. But time would fail me to mention all their theories. It is enough to say that the wild and unsatisfactory nature of these dreams helped to drive me back to Christianity.
5. There was, of course, no tendency in unbelief to promote virtue, or to check vice. Its natural tendency was to utter depravity. And Christianity retained such an influence over me, even to the last, that I could never reconcile myself to a vicious life.
MISERIES OF ATHEISM.
6. Then came another trouble. Infidelity could give no guarantee that wrong should not finally triumph, and right be finally crushed. It is belief in God alone that can give assurance that virtue shall be ultimately rewarded, and vice ultimately punished. The Christian can believe past doubt, that "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap;" that "with what judgment we judge, we shall be judged; and with what measure we mete, it shall be measured to us again." But the infidel has no foundation for such a faith. For anything he knows, a man may sow villany, and reap honor and blessedness. He may live by injustice and cruelty, and meet with no punishment, either here or hereafter; while another may spend his days in doing good, and give his life for the salvation of his fellows, and receive only torture, reproach, and death.
Nor is there any security for the triumph of truth on the infidel principle. For anything infidelity knows, truth may be always in the mire, and its friends be forever reproached and shunned; while error may always be in the ascendant, and its propagators honored and rewarded. Indeed this is the case at present, if infidelity be true. For infidelity is in the dust, while faith in God and Christ is in high repute. And infidels are suspected and dreaded, while consistent believers are loved and trusted. Faith smoothes man's way through life, and in some cases raises him to honor and power; while Atheism makes a man's pathway rugged, and prevents his elevation. This state of things is exceedingly unsatisfactory to unbelievers. They ought, if they are the wisest of men, as they suppose, to be everywhere received with honor. They ought to be placed in power. The world should ring with their praise. The universe should enrich them with its treasures. The names of their predecessors in unbelief should be had in the greatest honor. They should stand first on the roll of fame. Their monuments should fill