« ForrigeFortsett »
children and mother were afraid there was some mistake, but the man went on unloading, and stocked the house with food for weeks to come.
A day or two before, my wife and children had been talking to each other, and expressing their apprehensions, as I had not been able to send them any money, that they would soon be without anything to eat. One of the children said, 'Let us pray, mother: perhaps God will send us something.' They all knelt down, and both mother and children prayed: and when they saw the abundant supplies with which the cart had stocked the house, they believed that God had sent them in answer to their prayers.
I refused to buy paper, or type, or anything, on credit, and I was often at a loss, when my stock of paper was almost out, to know where the money was to come from to get a fresh supply. And I had not so much faith as G. Müller of Bristol; at any rate, my faith did not give me the same pleasant assurances that I should receive what I desired, that Müller's faith gave him. I am inclined however to think that I had not so much trust in Providence, as I ought to have had. I certainly had not so much as I have now. But then, I am better off now than I was then. But I was lacking, to some extent, in Christian trust in God, as well as in resignation to His will, and hence my uneasiness. Many a time when I laid myself down on my bed at night, instead of going to sleep, I spent long hours in thought about my business, looking in every direction for a prospect of supplies to enable me to pay the wages of my men, and purchase paper. The first thing was to think of all the men that owed me money,-to consider which of all the number would be likely to send me remittances in time, and to reckon up the sums, to see if they would enable me to meet the demands upon me. The next thing was to do the same thing over again; and the next, to do it over again a third time. All this was accompanied with long and deep-drawn sighs, which were listened to by a fond and wakeful bedfellow, who silently sympathized with me in all my trials, and who was as restless and anxious as myself. Sometimes I moaned, and sometimes I prayed; and when I was wearied out with my fruitless labors, I fell asleep. It would have been better, if I could have done it,
FRESH RELIEF. MY WIFE DANGEROUSLY ILL. 189
to have "given to the winds my fears," and lost myself in peaceful and refreshing slumbers; for generally, on the following morning, the needful supplies arrived. They seldom came from the parties from whom I expected them, but they came notwithstanding.
One day, towards the close of the year, my stock of paper was very low, and I had nothing with which to purchase a fresh supply. Next morning a letter came, enclosing thirty-five pounds, a Christmas gift from friends in Ireland.
On one occasion, when I was unwell, a gentleman whom I had never seen, and whom I have not seen yet in fact, sent me forty pounds, to enable me to spend a month at some hydropathic establishment. He had read a number of my publications, and had been pleased with them, and having learned in some way that I was not well, had sent this proof of his kind regard.
There was one man in Newcastle, a wealthy man, who said to me, “Come to me whenever you are in difficulty, and you shall have whatever you need." I was often in difficulties, but hesitated to ask his help. One day, however, after having waited for supplies from other quarters as long as I durst, I went to him, and stated my case. He kept me waiting an hour or more, and then said, "No." I turned away ashamed and sad. A friend whom I encountered on my way home, said, "What is the matter with you? Are you ill? You look bad." I was obliged to tell him my story. "Is that all?" said he. "We can soon put that right." And he gave me, unasked, as much as I needed.
While we were struggling with our other difficulties, my wife was taken ill. The house in which we lived was badly drained, or rather, the drains being out of order, the offensive materials from other houses lodged under the floor of our cellar kitchen, and sent forth, through the floor, deadly effluvia. In this cellar kitchen we were obliged to live. I was so much from home, and when at home was so much in the open air, travelling to my appointments, and even when in the house, I spent so much of my time in an upper room writing, that I took no harm. It was otherwise with my poor wife. She had to be in this room almost all day long, and often till late at night. The result was a
deadly attack of fever. She had felt unwell for some days, but had still gone on with her work, and sought no medical advice or help. At length, as she was going to bed one night, she fainted on the stairs. The stairs were very steep, and the point at which she lost her consciousness was a most dangerous one, and it seemed a miracle that she had not fallen back to the bottom and been killed. But somehow she fell only a step or two. My eldest son heard there was something the matter, and ran to see what it was. There he found his poor, darling mother apparently dead, in the middle of the steep and winding staircase. How he did it, I do not know, nor does he, but though he was only a child of about thirteen years of age, he took his mother, and by some mysterious means, carried her up the remainder of the stairs, placed her on her bed, and then stood sorrowing and trembling till she came to herself. She was ill thirteen weeks. For two or three weeks she seemed on the point of death. On my return, late one night, from one of my engagements, ten miles away in the country, I found her strangely changed for the worse. She looked at me with a look I can never forget. She thought she was dying. I thought so too. Her eye said, Death; her whole expression said, Death. I burst into tears, and gave what I thought was my last fond embrace. She had power to utter just one sentence: it was an expression of tenderness and kindness, more kind and tender than I deserved; and then fell back on her pillow, as if giving up the ghost. But she lived through the night, and she lived through the following day, helpless and speechless, yet still breathing. She recovered, and remained with us to comfort and guide and bless us for nearly thirty years, and then, alas, all too soon apparently, for those who loved and all but adored her, she passed in peace to the worlds of light.
I believed myself all this time engaged in the service of my Maker, and I regarded the arrival of seasonable help from time to time, as a proof that I was an object of His tender care, and that my labors had His smile and blessing. Why did I not trust Him more fully ?
By the time I had carried on my printing business for four or five years, the outlay for type, and presses, and other kinds of printing apparatus, became much less, while my
MONEY PLENTY. CONTACT WITH UNITARIANS. 191
income from the sale of books became much greater, and I found myself able, at length, to purchase whatever I needed as soon as I wanted it. By-and-bye I had money always on hand. The relief I felt, when I found myself fairly above want and difficulty, was delightful beyond
CONTACT WITH UNITARIANS, AND DOWNWARD TENDENCY TO DEISM.
I had now for some time been gradually approaching the views of the more moderate class of Unitarians. Some of my friends, when they saw this, became alarmed, and returned to their old associates in the orthodox communities; others got out of patience with me for moving so slowly, and ran headlong into unbelief; while the great majority still chose to follow my guidance.
Two of my Quaker friends, who had aided me in my peace lectures, waited upon me and said, that it would be necessary for me, if I meant to continue to lecture in connection with the Peace Society, not to allow myself to be known as holding heterodox views. I answered that I would not submit to one hair's breadth of restraint, nor to a feather's weight of pressure; and the consequence was, the withdrawal of all assistance and countenance from the orthodox portion of the Quakers in every part of the country.
The Unitarians had long been observing our movements, and when they found us coming so near to their views, they began to attend our meetings, and to court our company. At first we were very uneasy at their advances, and shrank from them with real horror; but our dislike and dread of them gradually gave way. They were very kind. They lent us books, and assisted us with the loan of schools and chapels. They showed themselves gracious in many ways. And after the cruelty we had experienced from other parties, their kindness and sympathy proved very agreeable. I read their works with great eagerness, and was often de
lighted to find in them so many sentiments so like my own. I had read some of Channing's works before, and now I read them all, and many of them with the greatest delight. I read the work of Worcester on the Atonement, of Norton on the Trinity, and of Ware on a variety of subjects. I also read several of the works of Carpenter, Belsham, Priestley, and Martineau. Some of those works I published. I also published a work by W. Penn, " The Sandy Foundation Shaken," which some thought Unitarian. I came at length to be regarded by the Unitarians as one of their party. They invited me to preach in their chapels, and aided me in the circulation of some of my publications. I preached for them in various parts of the country. I was invited to visit the Unitarians in London, and I preached in most of their chapels there, and was welcomed by many of the ministers and leading laymen of the Metropolis at a public meeting. When my friends raised a fund to purchase me a steam printing press, many Unitarians gave liberal subscriptions. Several of their leading men attended the meeting at which the press was presented, and took a leading part in the proceedings.
I had not mingled long with the Unitarians before I found that they differed from one another very much in their views. Some few were Arian, some were Socinian, and some quite Latitudinarian. Some admired Priestley, some Carpenter, some Channing, and some Parker. Some looked on Channing as an old fogy, and said there was not an advanced or progressive idea in his writings; while others thought that everything beyond Channing bordered on the regions of darkness and death. Some looked on the Scriptures as of divine authority, and declared their readiness to believe whatever they could be proved to teach: others regarded the Scriptures as of no authority whatever, and declared their determination to accept no views but such as could be proved to be true independent of the Bible. Some believed Jesus to be a supernatural person, commissioned by God to give a supernatural revelation of truth and duty, and empowered to prove the divinity of His mission and doctrine by supernatural works. Others looked on Christ as the natural result of the moral development of our race, like Bacon, Shakespeare, or Baxter. They looked on miracles as impossible, and regarded all the Bible ac