« ForrigeFortsett »
Introduction. My early life.-Enter the Church.-The Ministry.-Happy days.-
Causes of unbelief.-Vice.-Other causes.-Constitutional tendencies to doubt.
-Disappointed expectations about Christianity.-Mysteries of Providence.-
Misrepresentations of Christ and Christianity in human creeds.--Church divi-
sions.-Ignorant advocates of Christianity.-Wrong principles of reasoning.—
Another cause of unbelief.-Bad feeling between ministers or among church
members.-Alienates them from each other. Then separates them from
the Church. Then from Christ.-How it works.-My case.......
Origin of the unhappy feeling between me and some of my brother ministers.
Modification of my early creed.-Unscriptural doctrines relinquished.-Scrip-
tural ones adopted.-Some doctrines modified.-Theological fictions dropped.
-Eager for the pure, simple truth as taught by Jesus.-Doctrine of types
given up.-Other notions relinquished.-Alarm of some of my brethren at
How preachers and theologians indulge their fancies on religion.-John Wes-
ley. His resolution to be a man of one book.-What came of his resolution.
-His sermon on God's approbation of His works,-unscriptural and unphilo-
sophical throughout.-Illustrations and proofs.-And Wesley was one of the
best and wisest, one of the most honest and single-minded of our theologians.
-What then may we expect of others?-Evils of theological trifling.-Mischie-
vous effects of mixing human fictions with Divine revelations,............... 55
Further theological investigations.-Unwarranted statements by preachers.-
John Foster's Essay on Some of the Causes by which Evangelical Religion is
Rendered Distasteful to Persons of Cultivated Minds.-Introduction of similar
views to the notice of my ministerial brethren.-The reception they met
with.-No Church has got all the truth.-Most Churches, perhaps all, have got
portions of it, which others have not.-My attempts to gather up the frag-
ments from all.-Freedom from bigotry.-Love to all Christians.-Judging
trees by their fruit.-Reading the books of various denominations, like
foreign travel, liberalizes the mind.-I found truth and goodness in all de-
nominations.-Appropriated all as part of my patrimony.-Results.-Suspi-
cions and fears among my brethren.-Mutterings: Backbitings: Controversy.
My style of preaching.-Decidedly practical.-Using Christianity as a means for
Extracts from my Diary.-A strange preacher.-Horrible sermons.-Lights of the
world that give no light.-Theological mist and smoke.-Narrow-mindedness.—
Intolerance.-T. Allin,-Great preaching great folly.-A. Scott,-A good preach-
er.-Sanctification.-Keep to Scripture.-R. Watson: theological madness.-Big
Books on the way of salvation; puzzling folks.-Antinomian utterances about
Christ's work and man's salvation.-Preachers taking the devil's side; and
doing his work.-Scarcity of common sense in priesthoods, and of uncommon
sense. The great abundance of nonsense and bad sense.-Common religious
expressions that are false.-Favorite Hymns that are not Scriptural.-Baxter's
Reforming tendencies.-Corruptions in the Church.-Bad trades.-Faults in the
ministry.-Toleration of vice.-Drinking habits.-Intemperance.-The Con-
nexion.-Faulty rules.-Bad customs.-Defective institutions.-All encouraged
to suggest reforms and punished for doing so.-Original principles of the Con-
nexion set aside, and persecution substituted for freedom.-My simplicity.-
My reward. The Ministry.-Drunkenness.-Teetotalism.-Advocacy of Tem-
perance. Outcry of preachers.-My Evangelical Reformer.-Articles on the
prevailing vices of the Church: On Toleration and Human Creeds;-On Chan-
ning's Works; On Anti-Christian trading, &c., get me into trouble:-Conference
interference.-Conference trials.-The state of things critical.-No remedy.—
Matters get worse and worse.-Exciting events: too many to be named here.-
Envy, jealousy, rage, strife, confusion, and many evil works.-Conspiracies:
Explanations about the different Methodist Bodies.-Grounds of my reformatory
proceedings.-About immoralities.-Christianity not to blame for the faults
of professors and preachers.-My own defects,........
Story of my life continued.-Results of my expulsion.-Fierce fighting.-Des-
rences; seemed Providential.-A lying opponent unexpectedly confronted and
confounded.-New Body,-Christian Brethren. My church at Newcastle.—
Change in my views, and fresh troubles.-Losses.-Poverty.-Learn the Print-
ing business.-Follow it under difficulties.-Want of funds.-Generous friends.
Family on the verge of want.-Pray.-An unlooked-for cart-load of provisions.
-Trust in Providence.-False friends.-True ones.-A mad utterance.-A worse
deed.-Theological Conventions.-Free investigations and public discussions.—
Approach to Unitarianism.-Kindness of Unitarians.-Preaching and lecturing in
The Bible. My earliest views of its origin and authority.-Changed as I grew up.
-Further changes.-Important facts about the Bible.-False theories of its
Divine inspiration.-The true-the Bible's own,-doctrine on the subject.-
Needful to keep inside of this.-No defence outside either for the Bible or for
Bible men.-Explanations: illustrations: testimonies of celebrated writers.--
The PERFECTION of the Bible-in what does it consist.-Foolish and impossible
notions of perfection.-No absolute perfection in any thing.-No need for it.—
Foolish talk about infallibility.-Other important testimonies,..................... 202
Enters politics.-Advocates extreme political views.-Republicanism.-Foretells
the French Revolution of 1848.-Great political excitement in England.-Go-
vernment alarmed.-Get arrested.-Lodged in prison.-Trial.-Triumph over
Government.-Great rejoicings.-Elected member of Parliament for Bolton, and
Town Councillor for Leeds.-Exhaustion from excess of labor.-Health fails.-
Terrible Pains.-Voyage to America and back.-Removes to America.-Objects
in doing so.-Settles on a farm.-Gets into fresh excitement.-The Abolition-
ists.-Women's Rights.-All kinds of wild revolutionary theories.-Go farther
into unbelief instead of getting back to Christ.-A mad world, with strange un-
written histories, and awful, nameless mysteries,.........
Story of my descent from the faith of my childhood, to doubt and unbelief.-Bad
theological teaching in my early days.-Dreadful results.-Perplexity.-Mad-
ness. Survive all, and get over it.-The first arguments I heard for the Bible.
-True basis of religious belief.-Reading on the evidences.-Effects.-Unsound
arguments.-Their effect.-Internal evidences best.-Negative criticism, long
continued, ruinous both to faith and virtue.Moving ever downwards.-The
devil as a theologian, a poet and a philosopher.-Bible Conventions.-W. L.
Garrison, A. J. Davis.-Public discussions in Philadelphia with Dr. McCalla.
The Doctor's disgraceful failure.-Great,-mad,-excitement.-Narrow escape
from murder.-Eight nights' debate with Dr. Berg.-The good cause suffered
through bad management.-The Doctor took an untenable position.-Under-
took to prove too much and failed.-Substantially right, but logically wrong.-
Other debates in Ohio, Indiana, England and Scotland.-Mean and mischievous
opponents.-Honorable and useful ones.-Bad advocates of a good cause, its
Continuation of my Story.-Lectures on the Bible in Ohio.-Trouble.-Riot.-Rot-
ten eggs.-Midnight mischief.-Had to move.-Settlement among Liberals,
Comeouters.-Too fond of liberty.-Would have my share as well as their own.-
Fresh trouble.--Another forced move.-Settlement in the wilds of Nebraska,
among Indians, wolves, and rattlesnakes.-Experience there.-A change for the
better.-How brought about.-Quiet of mind.-Reflection.-Horrors of Atheism.
—Destroys the value of life.-Deceives you; mocks you; makes you intolera-
bly miserable.-Suggests suicide.-Prosperity not good for much without reli-
gion : adversity, sickness, pain, loss, bereavement intolerable.-Strange adven-
tures in the wilderness; terrible dangers; wonderful deliverances.-Solemn
thoughts and feelings in the boundless desert.-Solitude and silence preach.—
Religious feelings revive.-Recourse to old religious books.-Demoralizing ten-
dency of unbelief.-Lecture in Philadelphia.-Cases of infidel depravity.-You
can't make people good, nor even decent, without religion.-Infidelity means
utter debasement.-A good, a loving, and a faithful wife, who never ceases to
pray.-Return to England.-Experience there.-Unbounded licentiousness of
Secularism. Total separation from the infidel party.-My new Periodical.-Re-`
solution to re-read the Bible, to do justice to Christianity, &c.-A sight of Jesus.
-Happy results.-Change both of head and heart.-Happy transformation of
character.-A new life.-New work.-New lot. From darkness to light,—From
death to life, from purgatory to paradise,-from hell to heaven,.......
Parties whose Christian sympathy, and wise words, and generous deeds, helped
The steps by which I gradually returned to Christ.-Lectures and sermons on
the road.—Answers to objections against the Bible and Christianity.-Spiritual-
ism.-Strange phenomena.-Answers to objections advanced by myself in the
Berg debate. The position to be taken by advocates of the Bible and Christi-
anity. Additional remarks on Divine inspiration.-What it implies, and what it
does not imply.-Overdoing is undoing.-Genesis and Geology.-The Bible and
Science. Public discussions,-explanation.-At Home in the Church.-Sorrow-
ful, yet always rejoicing.-Joy unspeakable,.........................................
Lessons I have learned.-1. Men slow to learn wisdom by the experience of
others.-2. Danger of bad feeling.-3. Of a controversial spirit.-4. Old ministers
should deal tenderly with their younger brethren.-5. Young thinkers should
be prayerful, humble, watchful; yet faithful to conscience and to truth, trust-
ing in God.-6. With Christian faith goes Christian virtue.-The tendency of
unbelief is ever downwards.-7. Unbelievers are not irreclaimable.--We should
not pass them by unpitied or unhelped.-8. Converts from infidelity must look
for trials. They must not expect too much from churches and ministers.
Paul's case.-9. They must risk all for Christ, and bear their losses and troubles
patiently.-10. They should join the Church, right away.—Not look for a perfect
Church.--Keep inside.-Bear unpleasantnesses meekly.-Stones made smooth
and round in the stream, by the rubbing they get from other stones.-Reformers
should move gently, and have long patience. The more haste the worst speed.
-Killing rats.-12. Unbelief, when not a sin, is a terrible calamity: a world of
calamities in one,................................
THE object of this Book is, First, to explain a portion of my own history, and, Secondly, to check the spread of infidelity, and promote the interests of Christianity. How far it is calculated to answer these ends I do not pretend to know. I have no very high opinion of the work myself. I fear it has great defects. On some points I may have said too much, and on others too little. I cannot tell. I have however done my best, and I would fain hope, that my labors will not prove to have been altogether in vain.
I have spent considerable time with a view to bring my readers to distinguish between the doctrines of Christ, and the theological fictions which are so extensively propagated in His name. It is exceedingly desirable that nothing should pass for Christianity, but Christianity itself. And it is equally desirable that Christianity should be seen in its true light, as presented in the teachings and character, in the life and death of its great Author. A correct exposition of Christianity is its best defence. A true, a plain, a faithful and just exhibition of its spirit and teachings, and of its adaptation to the wants of man, and of its tendency to promote his highest welfare, is the best answer to all objections, and the most convincing proof of its truth and divinity. And the truth, the reasonableness, the consistency, the purifying and ennobling tendency, and the unequalled consoling power of Christianity, can be proved, and proved with comparative ease; but to defend the nonsense, the contradictions, the antinomianism and the blasphemies of theology is impossible.
I have taken special pains to explain my views on the 7