Orphan Train - Wisconsin


The Life of Charles Loring Brace
Copyright, 1894, by Charles Scribner's Sons


Decision to enter the Ministry--- Teaching at Ellington and Winchendon --- Letters on his Reading --- Earnest Resolves --- Visit in New Milford --- Theological Year in New Haven --- Letters --- Period of Speculation --- Theological Letters --- Miscellaneous Letters --- Letter on Friendships 29

There seems to be no record of when Charles made his decision to go into the ministry, but it was probably at this time, as we find under the date Dec. 30, 1845, a letter from his friend, William Colt, answering what appears to be a statement on Charles's part that he dreads the intimate knowledge of the misery and wickedness of the world which a reformer and clergyman must have. William Colt says: "I can only say, that I think the repugnance you feel to plunging into a world of vice and sin, to rescue the degraded and the vile, the ignorant and filthy, will wear away with more familiarity with this very class of humanity." This glimpse of the first repugnance to suffering, on the part of the high-strung, nervous young man, presents a side of his character which might too easily be lost sight of, in the contemplation of a life of such active and practical beneficence as his.

But whenever the decision of studying theology was made, we know that immediately after graduation he began to teach in order to gain money for this object. His first school was at Ellington, a small village in Connecticut, and his experience there was made happy by the companionship of his merry young friend William Colt, who, in alluding to him laughingly as the vice-principal, used to say, "Charley, you know you are my only vice."

There were more than thirty scholars, of whom some twenty were older than their teacher; but as they were none of them "very old in knowledge," as he says, he did not seem to be alarmed. Teaching in itself does not appear to have especially appealed to him, and his interest in the work was largely owing to the faith that he found it possible to exert some religious influence. He was grateful for this; but it was a narrow life with few outlets for energies and enthusiasms like his, and at one time he writes that he feels stifled, at another, that he is leading a life to make a man of a youth rather soon, and longs for "some real youthful excitement, -a dashing game of football or a college whoop! " Of the companionship of his friend, he says: "It is a far different chumming from one in college. Romance goes to the winds, and all you have at the end of each day are two tired, cross young men who don't agree on any two subjects, and who are shocked with all human nature's selfishness."

Of Winchendon, where be went after a few months spent at Ellington, he writes in December, 1846:-

" . . . Winchendon itself is an active little bit of a country place - thrifty, industrious, and desperately moral. It's built on a dashing stream, which gives the power for its manufactories, and is just like any other neat village, with glaring white houses, a large tavern, two churches, and the schoolhouse, built after the Grecian order, with exceedingly lean pillars. This stream I spoke of winds off away from the town, the hills reaching down to it on either side, skirted with trees, and 'through the gorge you catch glimpses of the blue mountains beyond, - so that I think in summer it must be a very romantic scene. On the northwest of the place, the blue peak of a very high mountain rises, some dozen miles from the village."

His life here may be gathered from these extracts from letters written at the time.

To F. J. Kingsbury.

Winchendon, Feb. 11, 1847.

Dear Fred: I am the same busy individual I always have been, this winter, only rather more Dipping into Theology some, and writing and reading, with some German. Have you read-I know you haven't - "Cromwell's Letters," etc., by Carlyle? I have been very much interested indeed in that myself. I always wanted to believe Cromwell an honest man, but somehow one is not apt to think a highly religious man would be beheading kings and making himself emperor, etc. I have only read the first volume, but those letters of his bear the very face of sincerity. A continent, deeply religious, plain farmer, is all he appears to have been for some forty years. Don't you think one is apt to think Great Men always know they are going to be great all along? When I suppose they have no more idea of it than you that you are going to fill Judge Story's seat in time. I like these letters because one can realize better what was going on in those times. . . . I have been more and more interested in "Cromwell's Letters," as I have read them along this winter. I have acquired more and more respect for his talents, though . I had always a very high opinion that way. He's so modest, so silent al-most, yet so tremendously energetic, and I should think, judicious. I stumble a little at his language in his letters. It isn't cant, for people don't play the hypocrite from the - very earliest life all along in just the same way. And yet one would think a man with such a solemn sense of God and of the unseen world, wouldn't be apt to be telling of it so much. We wouldn't, would we? . . . I suppose you, like us all, have joined in the laugh some-times against the talk about the "Infinite Soul." And I dare hardly express my own vague thoughts about it now, for it is so easy to make a hit upon it, and it may be a young man's "conceitedness," after all. But must not we confess that there are times when one's mind turns away with dissatisfaction from everything man has done. We do not profess we could do better. But we see how poor it all is to that infinite ideal within' us. I am perfectly conscious that I would not accept Shakespeare's or Scott's; genius, on the condition I should do no more for men. We never meet the most perfect character but we leave it with a sad feeling of human imperfection. Isn't it so? No work of art or genius ever satisfies us. But why should I talk about this? We have both felt it enough probably, and with me there will be new lessons in it every day of life. I wonder, by the way, whether the sadness which with me always comes with my most perfect happiness, isn't the result of that feeling? Perhaps the moments of sympathy shadow out the bounded Love we might enjoy, and we are sad our imperfect joys. Yet when I think of God, s sense of the grandeur of the soul seems to pass. Perhaps my sense of its capability to sympathize and love, does not. But I realize its powerlessness. I was walking out the other night, and looking at the stars. The first time for months I really saw them. There came over me then, partly from will and partly unconsciously, a t awing sense of Infinite Power, and I comprehended my perfect helplessness, as I should go out that Eternity. The idea would have been overwhelming almost, if it had not been for the remembrance of Christ. And I saw again that this same Being, whose awful Power would be before me, as I stepped from Life, was Christ, and I had a faint conception of a Heart Infinite, as well as Power; -- you know what such moments are. And you know how mean language is to show them.

With the close of the school year, Charles ended his school-teaching, and before settling in New Haven to follow his studies in theology there, he joined the home circle at New Milford, where his father was living, teaching a small school. From there he writes to his friend, Kingsbury: -

"Your short summary has expressed all that I did in Hartford, without my going into details, and since then that same vivid imagination may carry you on with me in my trouting, my ramblings over mountains and by willow-fringed brooks, all my ecstasies over the fresh green meadows and waving woods and bright flowers and trout streams, which would make the heart of old 'Isaac' leap within him.

". . . Well, my boy, here I am in New Milford, and find the folks well and happy as clams. I am regularly settled for the summer, at least till the fellows come on. I read and. study and walk, etc., besides teaching the classics an hour or two for father each day, thereby assisting him very considerably.

In the autumn of 1847, Charles returned to New Haven to take up his theological course, and began a life of study which was full of interest and enjoyment, while his social experiences became more satisfactory than they had ever been. There was a delightful evening of young people whom he met constantly in quiet, informal evening entertainments.

To F. J.Kingsbury.

New HAVEN, Nov. 2,1847.

As for myself, I am flying around somewhat as in college days (nunquam redituri!), talking metaphysics with Miss Blake, arguing on aristocracy with Miss Baldwin, or going to scientific lectures with her, where she has headaches and gapes. And if you could see us when we've all assembled in the parlor after some lecture, with Mrs. Baldwin to ask questions about the discourse, and the horror of Dwight Foster, who generally sleeps through the part Mrs. B. is most interested in, and is not perhaps the best qualified to make intelligent replies.

I am pitching into the metaphysics, and, by the way Fred, what I send you in that line is always written off, of course, at the moment, and is not perhaps always of the clearest. For exercise, I occasionally kick football with the laity, and walk to East Rock, and such places... . I find myself, with somewhat different views of things from here. I do not believe the most profitable conversations are always those on the most argumentative subjects or the most solemn topics. I enjoy this light, pleasant conversation, where you apparently just touch on the surface of things, while there is an undercurrent of deep feeling. There is more real philosophy in such, half the time, than in all your metaphysics. Yet I feel my own deficiency strongly in that. My mind don't seem to work much on those light, pleasant analogies of things. I am more apt to take serious views. I am, I fully believe, a solemn body.

To the Same.

Fred, I do want expression amazingly. I am half inclined to think my mind is changing somewhat, for my own company never rewarded me as it does now, and I have conceptions now and then, such as for a moment make me fear I am crazy, until the dinner hour re-establishes my terrestrial sanity again. I am almost afraid now to speak of this, lest the dreams should never come again. Though, on the whole, I think I am at last beginning to reap the fruits of education. But what troubles me is, that I have no power within me in the least to express such imaginings. The words in which I should shape them totally disfigure, almost hide them. The airy, unearthly shapes become mere everyday forms in dress-coats and boots like all others, as soon as I use language. I wish you would tell me, whether you find any such difficulties. Of course, though, you do. Perhaps my study of language is now to begin, and I am just a freshman in the great course of learning to clothe thoughts so that they shall appear to others as they do to myself. That's it, isn't it? That is real expression. I know I must unlearn much for it, and it will be a hard work. To refuse commonplace, general words, to get just the terms which you know express the freshness of your thoughts. And yet this language is a queer thing. Here's an intelligent, moderately educated girl, but with real imagination, and her thoughts will come forth in words, such as years of study could not give the students Words and thoughts lie very close to one another, somewhere. It's queer that a half-brute of an Irishman in a passion is really eloquent. And now I am opening my budget of meditations, I may as well remark that after a great deal of most delightful study of the classics, I am getting a little dubious as to the use, -at least of carrying it to a great extent. Of course it is almost indispensable during a part of our education. But I am not sure that the best mastering of English is gained by it and I rather incline to believe pointed English (Syd. Smith's, etc.) is injured by it. Take Prex. Woolsey's "classic style." Pure as it is, it does not he force and richness the English is capable of it is not the style I should want. There are no treasures in Greek like Shakespeare, and I don't think Demosthenes goes much ahead of Webster. What do you think? There are some great things to be got of English, yet - shall we be thar?

The period of deepest speculation on doctrinal and religious subjects, the outcome of Bushnell’s influence, had now come to Charles. With reverence, had now come to Charles. With reverence, with an occasional dread -- for in spite of his advanced views he was always conservative in tendency -- that a stern God would punish the freedom of thought and argument in which he indulged, but with a passion to find God by getting nearer truth, he sought, by stating his views in his letters to friends , to clear his own opinions and gain their help and sympathy. The letters indicate that his views were considered dangerous by his correspondents. To one he says: -

" Now mind I don't say that we may not be dangerous. We may reason wrong; we may be prejudiced or foolish or weak, or, to express it all in result, we may reason wrong. But that there can be anything wrong in searching for truth freely, or in uprooting the dearest opinion to see what lies under it, or in applying our individual judgment to any truth (be it even God's existence), I do not see. . . . I am dipping into history considerably, and one fact looms up on every page. How much men are influenced by circumstances to overlooked truth! Here in one place, some poor vulgar men are telling everywhere of a strange belief of theirs. The philosophers think nothing so mean could teach mankind anything, so they won't look at it. The religious, benevolent men look around on a religion sanctioned by the belief of ages, connected with every kind and pure feeling they have, and they dread innovation, and they fear the 'danger' from this new Creed, and they let it go. And so with many and many a man, more philosophical and candid on other subjects than you or I: he utterly loses sight of the truth in this, and rejects it. But after a while the vulgar Creed became Christianity, and then the wise wondered that those pure, benevolent, heathen philosophers could have so overlooked it, when apparently in everything else they so wanted truth. And right in the midst of their wonderment, you hear them damnation those 'heretics,' who want to overturn cherished beliefs, or add new ones to those which bad fed mankind so long! I find these lessons on almost every page, and for my part I am determined never for a moment to refuse hearing a truth because it is new, and never to be afraid to dig under a belief because it is old and dearly loved. God help me in it. I have no more fear of Free-thinking than I have of Charity."

The following set of undated letters belong probably to this period.

To P. J. Kingsbury.

My dear Fred: It is Saturday night, and as I have been wishing some time to have one of our old 'theological chats, I think I'll commence one to-night. I should like your opinion on all these points, so the next time you are theologically disposed just write off your thoughts on these or like subjects.

I have had, one way or another, brought up before my mind, for some time, the influence of the Holy Spirit. It is given, we know, in answer to prayer. The question in my mind is, Does this portion of the Deity influence the mind miraculously or not? That is, Is some mysterious influence exerted on the mind, contrary to the usual methods in which it is influenced? Is the soul of man convinced and his motives changed by some operation, in which the reason has no share? This, I think, is the common belief. It is asked if we ever know the first origin of some train of thoughts, and can we deny that the Holy Spirit may have suggested the first thought in that train which induced a man to become a Christian. If it is meant that the mind is affected in some way, contrary to the usual method in which that organ is influenced, there is a grand objection in the fact that we assume a miracle at once, and of course need overwhelming evidence to support it. If it is meant that the mind is worked upon naturally and yet in answer to prayer, do we assert that God changed any of the laws by which now everything in the world goes on? And how do we make conversion anything but a natural intellectual and moral change, for which have no more right to claim Divine Influence, than for the reformation of the drunkard?

My own belief inclines to this, that the change itself is not miraculous in any way, but that the Divine Influence is shown in presenting such inducements as to effect a complete change in all a man's motives. How these inducements are presented, I cannot explain, any more than I can any of God's complicated government. But I cannot think the mind is influenced in any way which implies it is not a free agent. Yet this belief does not satisfy me. It does not meet the Bible account entirely. It implies that a completely depraved creature, without one spark of love for God, can by himself attain to such a state as to love Him. And here I should like to say that very many of the arguments for conversion can never be used to an unbeliever. For my own part, I have searched very closely the workings of my religious feelings, and 1 have never yet seen anything which could not be explained if no God existed. To this I might except one thing, my own moral reformation at different periods of my life. It has seemed to me that I could not have succeeded in this without God's help. And yet, bow am I sure of this ? If there were no God, would not the feeling that there was a Being above who saw every thought and action and who required them to be of such a nature, aid me in making them thus? Would not the penitence, which my prayers at once express and produce, have a good effect for the future on my mind, even if no Being ever heard them? I believe that God answers prayer, for the Bible tells us that. But I want some other reason, some satisfying evidence in my own experience.

To the Same.

My dear Fred: You wrote me in one of your letters something about a book on the sufferings of Christ, with some thoughts of your own. There's nothing in our Creed ever puzzled me more than the " Trinity, " but the " Atonement " comes in with a, natural recommendation, so to speak, to me. I can sometimes that "mine iniquities are infinite," and that mere repentance and reformation could give me no claim on the mercy of the "Law Giver." I can see that a moral government must all go to pieces, if every man could sin and then escape punishment by repenting. How it would work in an army to have such a system in regard to deserting! Well, then, I find that God in His "perfect love," has met that difficulty by taking on Himself the punishment which was due to us, that He has in some mysterious way made a man the representation of Divinity, so that all the sufferings, the sorrows, the degradation of Christ, were A many indignities heaped on Himself, and that then He has offered forgiveness to all on some conditions, which conditions were partly designed to change the sinner's moral state, and partly to make him acknowledge that Another had taken the punishment which he deserved and still deserves, and perhaps from all to lead the man to love and serve that good Being who had done so much for him.

This may all be old and dull to you, but it is the way I have at length worked it out. I do not believe the Infinite One "suffered." Still the indignity was all heaped upon Him. I cannot explain how the Almighty could be present in a man, nor how the human soul lived with the Divine. Who can? Nor what became of the human soul when Christ arose. I suppose, as you say here, we get on to things our faculties cannot grasp. But I can understand that there is need of an atonement. I can feel that it would have been difficult to keep up the government of God over moral beings, without something to show His hatred of sin, and that something was contrived in Infinite Love. Still it sometimes occurs to me why God could not have made a parental government over men, and appointed that genuine repentance should be a pledge always of forgiveness. His punishment for the unrepentant would show them His hatred of sin. Pardon would then be a free gift of the Love of God, for the repentance gave the sinner no claim. Men would not sin in the hope of repenting then, any more than now. Tell me what you think. Is there anything in the nature of things to prevent there being such a government?

I should like to have you tell me what you think becomes of the heathen. But it is growing late, and I must close the Croton Fountains.

It is evident that the metaphysical discussion with the young people of New Haven, of which Charles speaks in a letter above, did not satisfy him, and we find him writing to one of his circle a long letter on his position in theological matters.

To Miss Blake.

Perhaps Miss Blake may remember a conversation we had a few weeks ago on some theological questions. I have thought of the conversation often, and have wished much to express my views more fully. It is not pleasant to have an old friend declare one's opinions "dangerous," so perhaps you will forgive the intrusion, if I give you my reasons for holding them, at some length, and possibly I may show you they are not so very "dangerous," oven if they are false. But I have no right to speak of holding certain opinions. I feel no sure grasp of any of them. I feel, as we all must, uncertain on many points, and anxious to reach the Truth. There have been times, indeed, in which my faith on much more important questions than we were speaking of, was all unsettled. But that - I am thankful -- is all past, and I do not fear now the result of my investigations. Perhaps my views may out me off from the sympathy of those I love and respect most. Sometimes a shadow comes over me of something more terrible. But I cannot believe it; if I know my own heart, I am seeking for Truth, and surely to such errors Be must be merciful. And does not my very writing this, Miss Blake, show that I know you will appreciate my motives, and that I shall certainly have your agreement, that Truth is our first object even before Orthodoxy or safety?

I have felt for many years dissatisfied with the orthodox theory of the Atonement. There are phrases in constant use, in connection with it, which convey but little idea to my mind. I hear of the " Majesty of Law," the " Dignity of Law being preserved," the "Throne of Law, upholding its authority by the suffering of the Lawgiver," " Justice which is satisfied, " etc., etc. For my part, I know of no abstract justice to be satisfied or law to be upheld under God. I conceive of God as a Being seeking the happiness of His creation, and that there is no justice or rule of law except as tending to that. I know of no formal code and penalties annexed He has given to mankind. He has made us with a certain nature, in which are fixed principles. Holiness of heart brings us happiness, sin, misery. We may call these principles laws if we choose; though I, for my part, think it a word derived from the analogy of human governments, and therefore inappropriate.

It isn't a Lawgiver which we find presented in the New Testament, but a Father seeking our happiness. The only abstract justice I can see, which He must uphold, is whatever will tend to the most happiness.

Then comes the great question, " Is it necessary for the happiness of the universe God should suffer the penalty of the guilty, or suffer in any sense in which He is a Substitution 9 " I do not intend to discuss this question formally, for you must have beard the usual arguments, pro and con, quite enough. But I wish to state so I me of the most important objections which have occurred to my own mind against the orthodox theory. In truth, I never could see why God should not forgive freely land fully on sincere repentance. And I venture to suggest whether the orthodox view may not have been derived too much from the analogy of human governments. It does seem to me the government of a State does not present the best type of God's.government (if we may call His influence a government). We have no feeling of love, of personal affection towards a magistrate or a legislature, and that at once brings in a wide difference between the two governments. Then again, no human government can know of the sincerity of repentance, and ides (as I think) human law has concern with nothing but overt actions. But the great distinction is, that love is not the spirit of man's government. Its hold on its subjects is not through personal love. Its operations must be imperfect. It has to execute to the letter arbitrary rules; for it knows not the heart, and governs not by affection. I acknowledge no human government could pardon an offender on mere repentance, and for the reason stated above. Its very imperfection compels it to adhere to the letter of the law. But there is a government on earth which much more nearly, in my opinion, corresponds to God's, - though even here the analogy fails, but fails rather in favor of, than against my view, -- I mean Family Government. A father governs by love. His will may be all, for a time, the children know of right. He does, to a degree, know the hearts of his subjects, and can almost determine when repentance is sincere. He tries to govern the motives and disposition, as well as overt action. Now I do not believe there is a kind, judicious father anywhere but would forgive a child who had done wrong if he were only sure of his repentance. Sometimes a good father may not forgive, because he fears for the sincerity of the repentance. But just imagine a child, who had disobeyed most wickedly a positive command of his father to carry help to a poor man. Imagine him, merely from his agony of sorrow, going out of his own accord through a stormy night, over miles of a weary way, to give help now, and finding it too late. The evil is done; the command had been broken; punishment had been threatened. Now do you know a Christian man with any vestige of a human heart in him, who would have punished his child then?

Why may not God's government be thus? I know it is objected that such forgiveness would make the threatening untrue, which had said " the sinner shall die." But the same objection can be made to the orthodox theory. For nothing is said in the threats of the law about a substitution. However, if there is any part of the Bible which appears to present the law and its penalties, it is the New Testament. The most terrible denunciations of punishment are in Christ's language; yet He always couples with them the words of mercy, "Repentance ad Faith shall save! " It is objected, too, that men would consider it a very light thing to sin, if escape were so easy through repentance. But is escape any more difficult by the orthodox method? All which the wrong-doer (according to that) is obliged to do, is to believe in Christ and repent; that is, to trust in God's mercy as manifested in the Atonement, and repent. Why is that any more hard than to trust in God's mercy as manifested in Christ, and repent? I cannot see the great difference as far as difficulty is concerned. And why should men look sin, even then, as a light matter? Would they see God bad threatened wrath for ever and ever the unrepentant, and to make them better, had n descended to the humiliation and suffering of earthly life? There is no appearance in that, certainly, of "thinking lightly" of sin. And, after can any escape be more difficult, than through ere repentance? Is there any harder thing for a human being to do, than to become pure and changed in all his motives? To be sure, a man say, " I will sin and then repent." But he could say so under the other theory, and any one had even the faintest idea o true repentance, would see that the probabilities he ever could repent with such principles, were slight indeed. Then again, if a man is truly sorry for the past and desirous of doing right in the future, how can God punish him? This argument seems to me very difficult to answer.

Punishment under God's government (as is generally admitted now) is the natural consequences of Sin working out in the soul, --remorse, the "gnawings-back" of passions indulged, the pain, the agony from a mind diseased, perverted, out of harmony with itself. Outward torments may be added, but these must be the main sufferings. Now tell me how a man who truly sorrows for the past, and has firmly in him the principle, the desire of doing right, how can he suffer any such punishment as I have mentioned above? He may indeed regret the widespread evils of his life. But so must every Christian who ever entered heaven. He may feel unworthy of God's presence. But so should every being who has ever sinned. He may feel this, but remorse he cannot feel. The pain of a nature, all perverted to sin, he cannot feel. He may indeed have misused the beautiful instrument God has given him for happiness, it may yield him but feebly the pleasure it was intended to yield, yet it is not now an instrument of torture. Passion and selfishness are restrained, though they may struggle yet. It may be possible to torment him, but the worst of all torments is not there, -a bad conscience. I see but one answer to this, which you surely will not agree to: that no one who does not hold to the precise orthodox theoretical view of the atonement can possibly repent,- an argument I think but few will maintain at this day. Many more objections occur to me, to the orthodox theory of the atonement, but I fear to weary you by this abstract discussion, and these are enough to show how my thoughts were set working towards the other view.

I would hasten, too, to what must be the guide and rule for all our theorizing ,-the Bible. And here, the more I investigate, the more I am surprised how much the moral view (if I may so call it) of Christ's sufferings is dwelt upon, and bow little, even apparently, the penal view. We - at any rate

I -- have been so accustomed to read the Bible under the influence of our theology, that I scarcely dreamt a different meaning could be attached to certain passages, than was by our sect. I need not say that to understand the Bible we must know of the origin and formation of the language used. We are to remember, for instance, that the New Testament writers thought in Hebrew and spoke in Greek. Of course, the meaning of much of the language is to be determined from the old Hebrew usage. When Christ is said to bear our sins," "to be our Atonement," "our Sacrifice," these, of course, are to be explained from the Old Testament use of the language. I suppose most interpreters would agree in this thus far.

The main question now comes up, " How those expressions were used among the Jews in the early periods of their history." I maintain that it cannot be shown that the rites, from which those expressions were formed, did strictly convey the sense now attached. In the ceremonies of sacrifice I can see no appearance of substitution of penalty. Nothing is made of the pain of the animal, which there would be if substituted suffering were the meaning in-tended. The goat, in one of the most important sacrifices, is sent away into the wilderness,- most plainly merely as an expressive figure, -and yet there "atonement" is said to have been made. In other places atonements are made by killing pig-eons, where no one can suppose any substitution intended. The word (atonement) itself in the Hebrew conveys no necessary idea of substitution, for a polluted place was frequently 11 atoned for " (i.e. purified) by a sacrifice, and a disqualified Jewish citizen could be admitted to his rights by an " atonement." All agree that, on condition of the sacrifices, forgiveness was granted. Now what more natural,, in, a language remarkable for its boldness and personifications, than to speak of the sacrifice as “taking away " their sin, or " bearing it " ? And I can produce an exact analogy which is of great weight on my side. The " blood " shed in the sacrifice of purification was said to "purify" or "cleanse" the worshipper. Of course the blood did not; it was merely the ceremony on condition of which the impure was considered pure. Now, why not apply the same reasoning precisely to this? The animal's sacrifice is merely the condition on which the unrighteous were considered righteous, and not that it "bears," in any exact sense, the penalty of sin. It may be asked what the objects of having a sacrifice were. I certainly can think of many on a rude, animal people. But if it is shown that substitution was not intended among them, the others need not come under this argument.

I leave the argument here, feeling I have sent quite enough for one reading. I see I have reached nothing of my own views, by which I hoped to justify myself with you., I know not that I could express them in any degree in language. But to me, they have seemed to bring Him who is not only the Eternal, but the "Manifest in flesh," nearer to my heart than ever before. And I should be very sorry if any one whose opinion I really value should think I was injuring His cause on earth, when I am but abandoning a philosophical theory which to me obscures Him. I might apologize, Miss Blake, for writing such a letter to a lady, but I cannot but think you will not expect it. Indeed, it would not be honest in me to do so, and you know my theory. If you will allow me, I will trouble you with the conclusion of this "argument " at some time.


You will naturally, if you ever get through such a long, dry argument, ask what my precise view of the atonement is. I acknowledge that I do not feel at all confident of my conclusions. I know there must be depths of mysteries about such an act we can never reach. What I reject, I reject with trembling, as held by so many I respect; not knowing but God May call me to account for errors of the intellect, as well as of the heart. Still I do feel -and it seems to me I could meet that Being with the assurance -I have searched honestly for the truth. To me the idea of vicarious sufferings obscures the beauty of Christ's life, inasmuch as I can see no reason for them, while the view I take, though not probably covering the whole truth (and what view could?), yet casts a glory about Him and His sufferings which no other aspect can. I view Him as the " God manifest in flesh"; fulfilling no penal satisfaction, honoring no abstract law by obedience, but simply showing forth God to men, His love, compassion, sympathy, bringing Himself before them to win their hearts, "reconciling men to Himself." I wish I could express in language, in the slightest degree, the value, of this Truth to me. I freely confess that the God of the Old Testament or of Nature I should never love. That was my God once. An awful mysterious Being, the very thought of whom was crushing to the soul. I could bow before His Eternity and Power. I lived in awe under His shadow, but my heart never went out towards Him. But here I find Him showing Himself through humanity, presenting to us feelings as kind and delicate and-sympathizing as we have ever seen in the loveliest of human characters. Yes, how much more! No imagination of philosophers has ever framed a character so imbued with kindly, tender sympathies, so filled with what we call "Human Love " as this simple manifestation of " Him who filleth Eternity. "

Infinite, yet the same who said, " Henceforth ye are my friends!" What can add to this? How can an obscure theory of substitution increase the moral influence of such a Manifestation as this? At least allow that this aspect of Christ's life can do no "injury," even if it does not embrace all the truth. And may we not suppose, as we peer into the mysteries of this subject, that such a manifestation of Deity could not be made without humiliation, and thus suffering?' The very" taking on Himself the form of a servant" may have been necessarily pain, and perhaps the highest reach of His love was seen in His consenting to undergo this agony to bring men to Himself, and the highest expression of this agony perhaps in the Cross. Still these pains - and those of the Garden more so - are mysteries not entirely explainable under any theory. And, after all, may we not all, with whatever philosophy of Christ's life and sufferings, clasp hands on one great truth, that the moral influence of that life is in what it expresses of the mercy of God? One may consider that mercy best expressed in dreadful sufferings to uphold a mysterious justice. Another, simply in the revelation given of the character of God. Which one in his narrow view has taken in the most of truth, God only knows. May He help us to reach all truth!

The correspondence on more general topics is taken up again in the following extracts from letters to Mr. Kingsbury written from New Haven during this winter and spring:

What do you think of the news from Europe? Doesn't it look as if some great convulsion was near? Perhaps Europe splitting into the Liberal and the Despotic? May it be in my day! Hurrah for reform! Free Trade almost established in every article in English ports-an approach towards it in ours I Mutual commerce uniting nations more than a hundred treaties! Human selfishness at length doing what benevolence has never done, 'making wars to cease on the face of the earth! "'

On the whole I am satisfied I know but precious little on political economy subjects, though I think I have studied them more than the majority of young men. I mean some day to give a good deal of attention to it, when I have got a good stock of sermons on band and the young Braces are well disposed of. I think the 'Edinburgh Review' contains more on that subject - at least more in advance -than almost anything I have seen.

" But in the study line, I become more and more interested every year in historical studies. I find myself no longer so much pleased with the imaginary pictures of certain periods, nor even the ideas Of historians, but I want to look right into them myself. I gained that privilege particularly in, 'Cromwell's Letters,' etc., and I know of no period in English history on which I was more glad to be enlightened. I fear all the while that my views of certain periods are too much colored by Scott's (for instance) imagination. It seems as if I wanted the naked truth more and more. There certainly is nothing to give one such a vivid picture. of any times as the way the characters of those periods think and talk about them. I am commencing on the political history of this country, in which I am particularly deficient, and I have begun it in the same way, in reading memoirs and biographies.

"Do you read news much 9 And if you do, don't you think poor Ireland is a-catching it? It seems to me the hardest problem going on just now in this world is how that country is to be saved. Isn't it one of the queerest things an angelic philosopher could look upon, a human being starving in the midst of plenty, nothing to keep him from death but the shadowy protection of law. A human soul shoved into eternity, all for want of a mouthful of grain, when there's many a waving field of it open to all. It doesn't seem as if we could be brethren."

"April 7, 1848. New Haven.... It's beginning on spring, you know, and with the sunlight and grass and those buds on the elms which excite Miss Livy so, it is very hard to stay indoors. I think of you in our walks and in our contemplated East Rock trips and Pavilion bowling with the 'dames'! Would not you enjoy it, and wouldn't it melt out a little of the legal stiffness, which, alas I is beginning to settle over our once social friend.

"I have never passed through such a quantity of oratory in my life as during the last month. Quite 'luckily the Whigs took it into their heads to be alarmed about our little State. So we had Tom Corwin with his irresistible face, and a speech which of us thought we bad never heard equalled on such topics. Then came another great stump speaker, Thompson of Iowa, and Greeley and Cassius Clay and Sam Houston. Since then Gough has been holding forth in the chapel and in the city. And still more, in our churches we have had some most eloquent preaching from Mr. Storrs and H. W. Beecher of Brooklyn; quite a crowd of those men, you see, who can use that strange power of eloquence. You may imagine we and the ladies have cultivated our opportunities."

"June 23, 1848. New Haven. . . . There's one thing I observe in all the fiction I have ever read: how much the writers exalt the spirit of generosity or self-sacrifice. I suppose that's a trait of romance from Charlemagne downwards. Isn't it one of the highest tributes which men give spontaneously, to the beauty of the character religion would form, to self-denial? There's nothing, in my view, that shows man's fitness for immortality like his models, his wants.

"I have just been reading a beautiful article in the (April) 'Edinburgh Review,' on Plato. Do get it if possible, and if you don't want to sit down and study that glorious mind, and, if you don't almost swear at being such a blockhead, when the treasures were around you, then you are not like me. It comes over me most gratefully, now and then, how every clodhopper now has before him, in living form, that 'perfect loveliness of virtue,' after whose mere ideal Plato bent with such longing all his splendid imagination. Doesn't it seem almost impossible such a noble, pure mind as Plato's, should be tortured through Eternity with some we know of?

“... As I understand your position in politics, I like it. But, Fred, why won't you follow your reason in the Negro Suffrage question? You must have felt the weakness of your arguments, even as shown by your humble opponent last vacation. Still you are one of those that 'wouldn't serve God if the devil bade you! ' I do most devoutly hope for a knocking to pieces of the old parties, and as Bushnell says, 'I'll swing my hat over the ruins. But if once a grand free-state party can be formed, I shall feel like being a politician. I could fight then. If I can do something to lessen on American soil that curse of slavery, I shall be satisfied. I feel the inconsistency, the injustice of it, the longer I live.... I think God is helping me, and if I am once in some post of active usefulness, I shall be happy. In fact, I am not unhappy now, for the world of intellect is a great one, though it don't compare with the snug garden of feeling. . . . We have all stood by one another in the Play of Life, in the little annoyances and weaknesses of youth; perhaps we shall not desert each other when we stand in the front rank of labor, with our characters more worthy of hearty love than ever before. I feel very grateful sometimes when I think of your influence over me in former years. You started me almost in thought, and strange as it may seem, even in senior year smokes, your religious influence over me was capital. A sincere man always does much, one way or the other. I feel often that you and Dr. Bushnell, and even Stewart's despised 'Mental Philosophy' were my teachers,- more than all the profs. and pedagogues I ever saw . . . ."

to be continued


transcribed by Tina Vickery from the original


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