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2^it|) ^illustrations. 







Entered, according to Act cf Congress, in the year one thousand eight 
hundred and sixty-three, hy 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of 
New York. 


Introduction 9 

The Connecticut Observer 13 

Correspondence, 1824-5 17 

Correspondence, 1825 22 

Six Sermons on Intemperance 34 

Request for Dismission, read before the Congregation 39 

Boston..' 49 

Correspondence, 1826 57 

The Revival 72 

The Groton Case 79 

Correspondence, 1826-7 85 



CoRRESI*ONDENCE, 1836-7 371 

Perils 374 

Family History 410 



Revolution : 422 

Consequences 432 

Correspondence, 1840-42 444 

Western Colleges 453 

The Broken Link , 457 

The Lost Found 461 

Recollections of Nettleton 482 

Correspondence, 1845 486 

Autumn Leaves 504 


Visit to England 510 



Quo Warranto 524 

Fraternal Reminiscences 529 

Correspondence, 1847-5 1 536 

Return to Boston 543 

The Last of Earth -. 551 

Miscellanea. 560 

Conclusion 576 





It has already been made apparent that the one idea of 
Dr. Beecher's life was the promotion of revivals of religion, 
not merely in his own congregation, but as a prominent 
instrumentality for the conversion of the world, and the 
speedy introduction of the millennial reign of our Lord 
Jesus Christ. 

As we are moving on in the present volume toward more 
controversial eras, it is our desire still to keep this great 
idea uppermost, as the real ground of all his interest and 
concern in those discussions in which it was his destiny to 
bear a part. It is not strange that the attempt to carry 
forward revival work should lead to controversy, and even 
to divisions among good men. Our Savior distinctly de- 
clared that he had not come to send peace, but division. 

The work of conviction and conversion of sinners, in a 
world like this — the work of building up a Church on prin- 
ciples entirely superior, and even opposed to those of self- 
ish society, can not be carried on without resistance on 
the one side and mistake on the other. It was natural that 
the primitive churches should make mistakes, and incorpo- 
rate errors into their teaching. It was natural that the ad- 
versary should take advantage of those mistakes as one im- 

A 2 


portant meaus of prolonging the conflict. So it was natu- 
ral that the Reformation from popery should not be abso- 
lutely perfect, and that even in Puritan theology errors 
should lurk which the adversary should employ, together 
with other means, to cause that theology to be undermined, 
even in the strong-hold of its power, as the world has seen 
at Geneva, and in the city of the pilgrims. 

It was inevitable, then, that any one of Dr. Beecher's ar- 
dent and uncompromising character, who should attempt, 
under the circumstances in which nominal Christendom 
was placed, to carry on revivals, on a broad and compre- 
hensive scale, would sooner or later be involved in contro- 
versy. "With sinners, of course, he would be in controver- 
sy from the beginning, endeavoring to convince them that 
they are rebels against God, whose instant duty is submis- 
sion, and that all their objections are unreasonable. 

With all sects, of whatever name, who, as the necessary 
and consistent result of their having discarded the theology 
of the Reformation, might avowedly condemn and oppose 
revivals, he would be at earnest war, that, if they could not 
be converted themselves, they might be disabled from pre- 
venting the conversion of others. With churches organ- 
ized on the Episcopal plan he would come in collision, be- 
cause they assail the fundamental principle of Apostolic 
church organization as understood by the Puritan found- 
ers, viz., that only those giving evidence of saving faith 
should be admitted to the communion. 

And, lastly, he might be involved in earnest controversy 
with brethren of his own denomination, who might, on some 
important points, differ as to the best method of awakening 
sinners, answering their objections to the doctrines of grace, 
and bringing them to Christ. 

One thing, however, a calm and comprehensive estimate 


of all his sermons, letters, and actions must convince a can- 
did mind is true, namely, that if he went into controversy, 
he went into it because he felt that his business of saving 
souls w&s in some Avay obstructed, and he must remove the 
obstruction. If he attacked either systems, or institutions, 
or men with severity, it was because he felt that the eternal 
interests of immortal souls were at stake. 

In the colloquial language of famiUar conversation he was 
sometimes truculent in his modes of expression to a degree. 
Hundreds of times have we heard him " hew down" an- 
tagonists, " wring their necks oflf," " hang them on their 
own gallows," and do other sanguinary things too dreadful 
to mention. But there was always something in his eye 
and manner which told that he was speaking in a highly 
fiojurative sense of the losrical demolition of error. His 
familiar correspondence, not designed for immediate pub- 
lication, may be found to contain some such expressions, 
which have not been expunged, because it was hoped the 
reader would prefer to see the man as he was in unrestrict- 
ed intercourse with trusted friends, and would be able to 
make all needful allowance. 

In preparing this second volume for the press, under all 
the difficulties — truly appalling — that must attend the un- 
dertaking, we have endeavored to work by a very simple 
plan. "We have endeavored to be in that frame of mind, 
and see all things from that point of view which to Dr. 
Beecher himself were most habitual. Without proposing 
to paint an elaborate portrait, without aspiring to be the 
historian oT his life and times, restricted by the plan of our 
work mainly to his autobiography and correspondence, we 
have humbly tried, with earnest prayers for divine aid, to 
permit a faithful soldier of the Cross, toil-worn and scarred 
in a life of service, to tell, as far as possible in his own 


words, tlie story of his campaigns, and live his Hfe over 
again before the reader. 

A life based on an idea such as we have indicated is not 
easily comprehended, as it is not easily lived. HoW many, 
even in this land of revivals, have never breathed, or have 
breathed bitt for a moment, the inspiring atmosphere of a 
genuine work of grace, and, therefore, realize faintly, if at 
all, what it is ! Something the dwellers in the arctic zone 
may know of summer, but they can form no adequate con- 
ception of the incense-laden breath of tropical climes. As 
little can a denizen of the world's bleak arctic — the ice- 
bound zone of unbelief — imagine the fresh, sweet, vital, 
tender, loving, joyous feeling diffused through a whole com- 
munity bathed and baptized by the special influences of the 
heavenly, Comforter. In that atmosphere of heaven, redo- 
lent of a Savior's genial presence. Dr. Beecher habitually 
lived ; out of it, he languished and pined like the exile in 
Siberian deserts. Against whatever threatened the contin- 
uance and spread of this — to become the spring, the sum- 
mer of the world — he fought with all the energy of his 

May the sovereign Spirit on whom alone he relied for 
success in his warfare deign to accept this imperfect me- 
morial, and seal it with a blessing, so that thereby it may 
be said in Zion, " He being dead, yet speaketh." 




The state of the Congregational churches in Connecticut 
in the opening of the year 1824 was, on the whole, prosper- 
ous. The storm which overthrew the standing order had 
cleared away. The churches had easily adapted them- 
selves to circumstances, and were thriving on the voluntary 
plan. Considerable alarm, however, was excited by the 
movements of other denominations, whose rising influence 
might prove injurious to the interests of Puritan institu- 
tions unless some organ could be provided for their defense. 
This led to the establishment of the Connecticut Observer, 
as follows. 


The Episcopalians were driving ahead with a popular 
rush. They had got such control of the Hartford paper 
that the editor would not admit our articles. I wrote to 
Hawes that they must be headed. Went to Hartford, and 
had a meeting at Hawes's of about a dozen ministers. 
What was to be done ? We talked the matter over, and 
resolved to have a paper of our own. We subscribed forty 
dollars each on the spot. Then I went to Middletown, and 
talked with ministers there ; spent the Sabbath ; got a cau- 
cus Sabbath eve, and kindled fire in their bosoms. 

Then I went to New Haven, to the editor of our paper, 
and talked to him. " Oh," said he, " they have got ahead 
of us. It is of no use to do any thing." " Well," said I, 


" you may do what you please, but I tell you before God 
and high heaven we will have a paper in which the children 
of the Pilgrims can speak." At that he began to yield. 
" Oh, well, I'll publish any thing you please !" I went to 
Goodrich, and told him to send a piece. He did, and that 
paper was saved. 

The General Association was to meet in about a week or 
ten days at Goshen, I believe. It was a large meeting, and 
I rose and expounded the whole business, and what we were 
doing, and the effect on our churches, and all their interests, 
to have our hands tied and our mouths stopped. 

I let off as I never did before, for I felt indignant. They 
appointed me and one other on committee. Committee met, 

and what should do but talk just as that editor had. 

I turned in and gave him such a thrashing as I never did 
any body, up hand and down, hip and thigh, till at last he 
knocked under and said, "You go back and talk to them 
just as you have to me, and I'll agree." "Well," said I, 
" you go in and talk so like a fool as you did to me, for 
nothing else would make me say what I have been saying 
to you." 

We reported what had been done at Hartford, Middle- 
town, and New Haven, and w^hat Litchfield county ought to 
do. Some flinched ; but I told them, " If you don't take 
hold now, you'll find emissaries before long in your own 
congregations. You've got to fight, and to fight you must 
have money." So they subscribed on the spot enough to 
begin with and carry on. We sent out agents to get sub- 
scriptions in every county in the state, and it was carried. 

Then I went down to Watertown, where a friend, Mr. 
Hooker, had been settled not long after I came to Litch- 
field. I loved him very much, and he me. He was of first- 
rate abilities, and had been tutor in college. I talked with 


^ .^ a^jvjuu tne paper, and asked him to be editor ; he fell in 
and took it. Our paper then began to travel and thunder. 
In Litchfield I spent two days and more, aud got sixty 
subscribers. I went clear out to Mount Tom. Many of 
them never took a paper before or after. That, for that 
time o' day, was about equal to things going on now in our 

Catharine to Edward. 

"July 18, 1824. 

" I have not enjoyed coming home as much in many years 
as now, for we are all in health, cheerful, and happy. I hope 
this summer we shall be able to fix up the old house, and 
make it look rather more neat and comfortable. It needs 
paper within and paint outside very much. 

" Yesterday I heard two of father's very best sermons. 
The afternoon sermon perfectly electrified me. I wish it 
could be heard by all young men in the country. Among 
other things, he exhibited the ways in which they might do 
good, and the blessedness of it. "We saw a small specimen 
of its efiect this afternoon, when, in playful obedience to 
some exhortations to a laudable public spirit, a party of our 
young townsmen turned out to transplant forest trees w^her- 
ever they are needed through our streets. Father hopes a 
young men's library will also grow out of it. 

" The fact is, I never hear any body preach that makes me 
feel as father does ; perhaps it may be because he is father. 
But I can not hear him w^ithout its making my face burn 
and my heart beat." 


Dr.Beecher to Edward. 

''August 10, 1824. 

"I am glad you go to Boston. William is engaged in 
Boston in a good j^lace. Harriet will come to Hartford next 
quarter. George goes to New Haven. I expect to get him 
through college, though not without difficulty. 

" I have labored hard and preached well this summer, I 
believe. My Bible-class numbers two hundred and upward, 
and prospers. The week after Commencement I am to be 
in Hartford, and make a speech before the Foreign Mission 

The Same to William. 

" 1824. 

" I am gratified to perceive by your letter to Mary that 
you are pleased with your place, and have a j^rospect of em- 
ployment. So God takes care of the children of his minis- 
ters who serve and trust in him. Silver and gold have they 
for their children none, but, if they are faithful, their children 
are beloved for the father's sake. God raises up friends 
who answer instead of capital. I hope you will always eye 
the hand of God both in affliction and in prosperity. 

" I have just returned from Guilford. Left all well. Could 
not find any trout where we caught so many. 

" I preached yesterday my sermons on Depravity, written 
last winter. They are point-blank shot. I w^ork and study 
hard, but carefully. My reply to the review of my sermon 
will be done soon. I think I shall like it, which is common- 
ly a good recommendation, and that Unitarians will not be 
over-much pleased, which is another recommendation." 




Dr. Beecher to Dr. Cornelius. 

"August 31, 1824. 

" Your letter was received, and, amid the pressure of very 
urgent and incessant application of mind, was laid down and 
forgotten, until I concluded that my silence would be as a 
negative answer to your request. I long to come — feel the 
importance of the moment, and am inclined to believe that 
as much good might be done to souls by my labor at such a 
time with you, as in a year or more in Litchfield. But if it 
is the will of God that I should be a stated pastor, I can not 
be an evangelist, though I sometimes think I would, if a reg- 
ular and permanent support could be secured. And if it is 
the will of God that I should be an author, I must stay at 
home and write. Besides, we have enough to do, just now, 
to defend ourselves, and can not well go abroad to fight. I 
am committed for this and the next week in urgent public 
business, and, when that is ended, must hasten home to pre- 
pare sermons for the press. 

*'So the case stands. You have all my heart and soul, 
but you can not have my hand and tongue." 

Catharine to Edward. 

''January 8, 1825. 
"The paper goes on finely. Father has j^repared some 
rare pieces for it. He is much animated with the success of 
the paper. There is nothing makes me feel so ha2)py as to 


be with him, and nothing so stimulates my intellect as his 

Dr. Beecher to Edward at Andover. 

" Middletown, January, 1825. 

" Dear Son, — I have been so pressed by public concerns 
at Danbury, at home, at Hartford, and here, that I have been 
literally unable to write to you. ^^^ * * The Observer be- 
gins with about 1400 subscribers. The first number strikes 
well, and the second, third, and fourth will be still better. 
It is, in my judgment, one of the grandest strokes of holy 
policy we have ever attempted for the Church of God. It 
will compel other papers to rise to our standard if they 
can, and thus control extensively that irresponsible organ of 
good and evil, the press. I wonder holiness has not been 
stamped on it before. It belongs to God, and must be con- 
secrated. Our example will, I have no doubt, as in the Do- 
mestic Missionary Society, be followed, and our best and 
ablest men be placed at the head of the press in different 
districts of our land. There is so much of your father in the 
paper after the first ISTo., and will be for some time, that I 
have directed the paper to be sent on. * * * Tell me 
all about your health and your studies, and w'hether they 
are making such strides to German infidelity as some good 
women in the world do tremble about. Say to me confiden- 
tially whether you observe in Brother Stuart, or any of the 
students, a leaning to rash criticism, calculated in its tenden- 
cies to make coxcombs in divinity, and break up founda- 
tions. Be honest and faithful in your reply. * * * 

c; ♦ * * J ajj2^ fQj. the first time for six or seven years, 
at ease in respect to the general course of events which con- 
cern the Church in Connecticut. The tide of toleration is 
ebbing, and Congregationalism is emerging from the floods 


of ungodliness which have rolled over it with waves and 
foam. They have broken themselves and recoil, but the 
rock remains, not a fragment broken off nor its base shaken. 
' Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain 

Dr. Beecher to Dr. Wis7ier. 


" It is so long a time since I have spoken to you or been 
spoken to by you, either orally or by pen, that I feel some- 
what impatient to intrude a claim upon your time. 

"The first number of my reply to the. review of my ser- 
mon has gone to press, and will be out in the Christian 
Spectator of next month, as I suppose. The second will fol- 
low in due order. I could not send them to Boston first, 
but they have been read by Stuart and Taylor, and will again 
be revised by the brethren at New Haven, if need be. 

" I want you to ascertain whether Rev. Mr. Walker, of 
Charlestown, is, or is reported to be, the author of pieces 
entitled " Notes upon the Bible," in the first three numbers 
of the Examiner for 1824, especially the third, as, if he is, I 
shall be able to slay him with his own sword on the subject 
of obvious meaning. I have read the controversy about 
Cambridge College, and think that the abominations of her 
secret history are coming to hght, and that she who sat 
a queen, and felt that she should see no sorrow, is destined 
to feel the calamities of a long-delayed retribution. 

"I rejoice to perceive unequivocal evidence that ortho- 
doxy in Massachusetts is becoming a phalanx terrible as an 
army with banners, and that our adversaries shall no more 
be able to frame iniquity by law, and draw sin as with a 


Dr. Beecher to Bev. E. Cornelius, 

"February 10, 1825. 

" I never subscribe for books, nor recommend them, un- 
less I really like them, as among the very best, and I go by 
the same rule in giving commendation to writers, and even 
to my best friends. I give no commendations on the score 
of courtesy, none on the score of private friendship, none 
only because I like what I commend. And I am somewhat 
difficult to please. It never satisfies me that a writer has 
written tolerably well, or pretty well. The Avorld is full of 
such writing, and w^ould experience no great loss if it were 
emptied of it all. There are a few minds that see clearly, 
and speak directly and energetically to the point. These 
are the w^riters I love to read, and whom I can never too 
much admire or commend. They create no envy, and afford 
me unmingled pleasure. But I must acknowledge that my 
pleasure in reading such a work has been greatly heighten- 
ed lately by the consideration that it came from your hand. 
Possibly you may have felt as if I did not pay to what you 
have published before the tribute of parental regard which 
you might justly have expected. I have now explained the 
reason. They were good, but not good enough for one of 
your capacity to write, or, rather, not good enough to ac- 
quiesce in as having attained. 

" You have now given a specimen of vigorous writing, 
which, in the pending polemics, enrolls your name among 
the threes, and leaves the way open to find a place among 
the first threa 

" I have read the sermon, which is the prating of a young 
religious coxcomb, knowing not what he says nor whereof 
he affirms, and you have done him ample justice. * * * 

" Allow me to inquire about myself, and the first part of 
my reply to Walker. 


" Am I a Calvinist, do you think, and will my claim be ad- 
mitted as proved, and will Walker and his friends feel as if 
my gun was loaded deep enough for the first shot, and will 
the orthodox think I have done so far sufficient execution ? 
I ask not this as food to my vanity, for I should abide by 
my own judgment, let the world think what they will. Still, 
as the game is out of sight, I must depend on those who are 
njear to tell me what are the effects of the first fire. I hope 
the man is not dead, for I have some terrible things in re- 
serve that I should not like to hurl at a dead man. I can 
not but think myself that, since the controversy opened be- 
tween us, it has moved on with singular power and suc- 
cess on our part, and that, though Unitarianism, intrenched 
in Cambridge, and Boston, and Salem, w4th little redoubts 
all around, has had a better chance, on the score of talents, 
learning, wealth, and popular favor, than ever in the world 
before, these all will be of no avail in this enlightened com- 
munity, but that gradually and at no distant day the victory 
will be achieved, and Unitarianism c^ase to darken and pol- 
lute the land," 




On the following letter was endorsed by Dr. Beecher, un- 
der date September, 1856, the followmg explanatory state- 
ment : " This letter was written to arrest, and get time to 
quench, the first spark which was struck in the controversy 
between Goodrich and Taylor, of New Haven, and Nettle- 
ton, Tyler, and Dr. Woods; but, before I had time to write 
and send the letter, the fire w^as in the leaves, and outran all 
efforts to quench it. The parties on both sides were my 
special friends, and my labors were unceasing to explain and 
mitigate, and prevent explosions in the churches of Connec- 
ticut and Massachusetts." 

• Dr. Beecher to Rev. A. Hooker. 

"Litchfield, March 13, 1825. 

"Dear Brother, — I have understood in several ways 
that some of the brethren were alarmed and dissatisfied in 
some points in the examination of Leavet ; that the dele- 
gates, also, were alarmed ; and that fears have been express- 
ed that Brother Taylor is Leavetical. 

" Will you have the goodness to state to me what were 
the points in the examination of the candidate which create 
uneasiness, and will you allow me to express my earnest 
hope that nothing will be said or done which shall have a 
tendency to exasperate brethren, or to alarm the communi- 
ty, or to commit us, at this time, with the insupportable ca- 
lamity of a theological controversy among ourselves? The 


reasons for avoiding a public controversial schism in Con- 
necticut are obvious and powerful. 'We are watched by en- 
emies within and without, and our condition is critical. Sec- 
tarians without and heretics within would gladly see us fall 
out by the way, and avail themselves of our confusion to 
put down our Theological Seminary, our College, and our 
churches; and I really fear that our triangular brethren at 
the South would not put on sackcloth should we come into 
troubled water. The strength and glory of our Church has 
been and now is the cordial and efficient co-operation of the 
clergy, and our 2)lans for self-defense and the augmentation 
of strength which are in operation and in a course of prep- 
aration are noble, powerful, and certain, if we fall not out by 
the way. The Spectator^ the Observer^ the Domestic Mis- 
sionary Society, with a system for evangelists, for tracts, and 
for the improvement of our common schools, can not, with 
our revivals, fail of glorious results. But a controversial 
sj)irit, corroding the hearts and diverting the minds of min- 
isters and churches, would, I have no doubt, put an end to 
our revivals, and leave us without strength in the presence 
of an insolent enemy. They have tried in vain to bind us 
with cords and withes ; but still we have waxed valiant in 
fight, putting to flight the armies of the aliens. Evangelical 
doctrine, and peace, and love are the secrets of our Kazerite- 
ship, and it is only a controversial spirit, with its alienating 
and diverting influence, which can cause our glory to depart, 
and make us weak as other men. The reformation was 
stopped by the sacramental controversy ; and the orthodox 
in the eastern parts of Massachusetts begin to have revivals 
only as they begin to dismount their hobby-horses, and to 
love one another and act in concert. 

"I have said our churches are in a critical situation. We 
have just passed, or are, rather, now passing through a rev- 


olution, the object of which was, by withdrawing the sup- 
port of law, and creating facilities and temptations to with- 
draw from om* societies, to scatter and destroy us. And a 
great effort has been made to shake the confidence of the 
community in the clergy, and, if this could be done, I know 
not what would save us. But a controversy^ which would 
produce so much feeling, and such action and reaction as 
must attend the attack and the defense of such a man in 
such a station as Brother Taylor, could not be carried on 
without impairing the confidence of the public in the minis- 
try. Inevitably w^e should first or last walk naked, and they 
would see our shame. 

"If there are exceptionable points in Brother Taylor's sys- 
tem which need to be modified and guarded, that at pres- 
ent is, I have no doubt, entirely practicable. But we know 
what human nature is, even when partly sanctified, and how 
easy it is to confirm a man in his opinion by a course of 
treatment which to him shall appear precipitate or unkind. 

" If I had the confidence of my good brethren sufiiciently 
to render the pledge of any avail, I should not hesitate to 
pledge myself to produce statements and explanations from 
Brother Taylor on every point entirely satisfactory. I do 
not mean statements in which every brother would concur, 
for perhaps no two of us would explain ourselves entirely 
alike ; but I mean statements which would release the mind 
of every brother from the apprehension of any dangerous 

"I have heard that a brother has said that Brother Tay- 
lor ' is a Socinian, and would avow himself to be so in a 
year,' and that the charge of heresy had been either made 
or insinuated by others. I presume such things, if they have 
been said, have been said inconsiderately, and perhaps under 
the influence of momentarv excitement, as it would be an 


obvious violation of Gospel rule to make or to insinuate such 
charges before any steps had been taken to convince and re- 
claim, and as such liberties taken by ministers who differ 
with each other's character would tear us all to pieces. 

" I have understood, also, that it is supposed by some that 
I am opposed earnestly to Brother Taylor on the subject of 
original sin. I have known his opinions perhaps for ten 
years, and have agreed in part, and in part differed with him, 
without supposing for a moment that his views or mine set 
aside the doctrine of original sin. The point on which I 
have differed with the most earnestness has respected two 
or three terms, with the view of preventing just such mis- 
apprehensions and alarms as have now probably happened. 
If any one supposes that I have regarded Brother Taylor as 
fundamentally erroneous on the subject of original sin, their 
impression is without foundation. I have regarded liim as 
adopting one of the half a dozen icays in ichich orthodox 
men explain and defend that difficidt doctrine^ and I have 
censured him only as changing phraseology needlessly in a 
few particulars. 

" But, in respect to the entire doctrine of original sin, 
though I believe it ex animo^ I have long been of opinion 
that the policy is unwise of making that doctrine the hinge 
of controversy between the orthodox and Arminians, be- 
cause, as it respects the character and destiny of infants, it 
gives to the enemy the advantage of the popular side ; be- 
cause the discussion carries us unavoidably into darkness 
and depths where the enemy have as good a chance as our- 
selves, and where both must return to terra fr ma or be 

" Original sin, in respect to infants, is to be held so far as 
respects the existence in them of a nature which makes it 
certain that whenever they act accountably they sin. But 

Vol. IT.~B 


the doctrine of man's entire depravity from the commence- 
ment of his accountable agency, leaving it for God to de- 
cide "^hen, that is the battle-ground. On this foundation 
the superstructure of Calvinism stands unshaken by any 
diversity of speculations. That nature in infants v^^hich is 
the ground of the certainty that they will be totally, actual- 
ly depraved as soon as they are capable of accountable 
action — which renders actual sin certain, I call a depraved 
nature ; and yet I do not mean by ' depraved nature' the 
same exactly which I mean by the term as applied to the ac- 
countable sinful exercises of the hearts of adult men. ^or 
does Edwards or Bellamy. Edwards calls it ' a prevailing 
effectual tendency in their nature' to that sin which brings 
wrath and eternal undoing ; but he does not consider it as 
being sin in itself considered, in such a sense as to deserve 
punishment, for he says, ' Infants would be sinners in no oth- 
er way than in virtue of Adam's transgression.' " 

Dr. Beecher to Edicard. 

"March 16,1825. 

"I am gratified that my review is satisfactory. There 
will be two numbers more, and, if I do not misunderstand 
their effect, they will make for Unitarians work for repent- 
ance, and, I hope, for reformation. 

" I was much comforted by William while at home. He 
affords, as I conceive, great evidence of a change of heart, 
and yet something is not right with him. He does not see 
his evidence, nor rely on what he does see — is forever hunt- 
ing after feeling, feeling, feeling, when he has had so much 
of it already as to shatter his nerves. I did something to 
correct his views on that subject, but he is not wholly recov- 
ered from worrying himself about want of feeling produced 
by feeling." 


Catharine to Edward, 

" April 20, 1825. 
"You can not imagine how much I enjoy this visit at 
home. You know how happy it makes us to be with father. 
His society seems always to give a new impulse to the affec- 
tion of the heart, and to every intellectual power. He is 
now very much engaged in finishing off his answer to the 
review, and I think his last will make all smoke again." 

Mrs.JBeecher to JEdioard. 

"July 19,1825. 
" " I thought last evening our street presented the most sol- 
emn scene I had ever witnessed. I left the house of the dy- 
ing saint (Mrs. S ) about nine o'clock. Many persons 

were hanging about the doors and yard in perfect stillness. 
I crossed the street, and stepped softly into the anxious 
meeting, where a hundred poor sinners were all on their 
knees before God, and your father was in the midst, plead- 
ing with strong cries and tears for the mercy of God upon 
them. Around the doors were a number of people, solemn 
as death. I could not but say, ' How awful is this place ! 
This is none other than the house of God and gate of 
heaven !' 

"We thought the revival assumed a deeper aj^pearance 
than at any former period." 

to Edioard. 

"August 28, 1825. 

" How different will Litchfield be ! We hoj^e , 

and , and , and are born again. ' It is 

the Lord's doing, and is marvelous in our eyes.' The atten- 
tion is spreading to Bradley ville and Goshen. Father's 


health is tolerably good. Few ministers exert theuiselves 
so much for the salvation of their people as he does. I fear 
after the call for effort is over he will sink." 

William to Edward. 

"August 31, 1825. 
"The revival goes on steadily. Father works as hard 
and harder than ever. His health is just so that he can keep 
about. He is going to Danbury for the Church." 

Dr.Beecher to William. 

"October 26, 1825. 

" The pressure of business has rendered it extremely dif- 
ficult for me to write. 

" Catharine recovered so as to be in her school examina- 
tion, which surpassed in the number, respectability, and in- 
terest of those present any preceding one. The prospects 
of a winter school are good. 

" Edward has been a great help to me and a great com- 
fort. His piety and talents demand our united thanksgiv- 
ings to God. His labors have been well received by our 
people, as also were yours. 

" But for his and your aid much must have been omitted 
which I have been able to accomplish. 

" George returns this week on Monday. He is impressed 
considerably, but has no hope. The revival continues, and is 
becoming now for six weeks more and more prosperous. 
The subject is pressing hard upon a number of young men, 
of whose ultimate conversion we entertain some hope. The 
Church is more extensively acquainted with the revival by 
inspection, and feeling, and prayer. Six were admitted to 
the Church last sacrament ; twenty-four now stand pro- 
pounded, among whom are Mary and Harriet. * * * * 


May Jesus watch over yon, and all of us, and give us favor 
and usefulness before man and God." 

The Same. 

"November 1,1825. 
" This has been a good day ; twenty-five have been added 
to the Church, and the work of awakening and conversion 
moves on and increases, on the whole, both here and in Mil- 
ton. We have been this three weeks in a state of deep 
sympathy for George, whose distress precluded sleep, al- 
most, for many nights, and his voice of supplication could be 
heard night and day. But to-day, and especially this even- 
ing, he seems to be very happy, and, so far as I can judge 
by conversation, on good grounds. He is now with the 
girls, singing louder than he prayed. What shall we render 
to the Lord ! Mary and Harriet communed to-day for the 
first time, and it has been a powerful and delightful day." 

The Same. 

"November 6,1825. 
ci * * * George seems to be one of the happiest crea- 
tures ever I saw. All his quickness and characteristic ardor 
seems now to be heightened by the contrast of joy with re- 
cent distress. He talks rapidly, and with much and imaf- 
fected simplicity, and is exceedingly interested now in the 
meetings, and begs he may stay a little longer to enjoy them. 
* * * God has done for me exceeding abundantly in giv- 
ing me such children as he has, and in giving me their hearts, 
as well as taking them himself." 

The Same. 

"November 0, 1825. 
" Our family concert of prayer was held in the study, on 


Thanksgiving day — your mother, Aunt Esther, Henry, and 
Charles. It was a most deeply solemn, tender, and interest- 
ing time. The prayer which your mother made exceeded 
almost any thing which I hear of supplication from the lips 
of any one. She is a holy woman, and eminently gifted in 
prayer. I trust the results of the concert will not be tran- 
sient, but will be seen in time and in eternity. 

"Henry and Charles have both been awakened, and are 
easily affected and seriously disposed now. But as yet it is 
like the wind upon the willow, which rises as soon as it is 
passed over. It does not grapple, but the effect is good in 
giving poAver to conscience and moral principle, producing 
amendment m conduct." 

Dr.JBeecher to Dr. Taylor {after the Danhury Cowicil). 

"Litchfield, December, 1825. 

"Dear Brother, — I have been at home only just long 
enough for my brain to get still after the whirl it was in 
while we were together, and for my intellectual eye to see 
clearly after the smoke passed away which filled the atmos- 

" As it seems not improbable that we both may be called 
again to act as counsel in this wicked world — though I hope 
not on opposite sides — I have concluded to volunteer for 
your consideration several of the maxims which have regu- 
lated, and I believe, in time to come, will continue to regu- 
late my conduct. 

" I will never undertake the defense of a cause which I do 
not believe to be founded in truth and equity. 

" As a general rule, I will confine my advocacy to the de- 
fense of ministerial innocence, and the assistance of the 
churches in the administration of discipline. 

"As a general rule, I will not imdertake for individuals 


against the pastor and the Church. The presumption is that 
the pastor and the Church are right, and, if not, the injured 
may obtain lay counsels ; and it is better for the unity of 
the cause that ministerial counsel be for the Church, and not 
against her. 

- " I have never felt myself at liberty to go into another 
man's parish, and interfere directly or indirectly with a case 
of unfinished discipline, or to break up a settlement already 
made. This would lead to much evil, and call forth a gen- 
eral disapprobation justly unfavorable to my influence in the 
churches. Though we got along marvelously well in our 
treatment of each other, and in our temper as advocates, it 
is my firm resolution to get along still better, if ever called 
to manage a cause again. 

" I am resolved to avoid all indication of impatience, and 
all tokens of my light estimation of an argument, and to use 
always only the language of candor and dispassionate cour- 
tesy, and to maintain and express only kind and Christian 
feeling. Doubtless I shall come short, but certainly less 
than if I had not a high rule, and strong resolution to con- 
form to it." 

A very pretty anecdote has been sent to the editor con- 
cerning the mutual relations of Dr. Beecher and Dr. Taylor 
when engaged on opposite sides in a certain famous eccle- 
siastical council. The feeling waxed so high m the place 
that the opposing parties would not speak to each other, 
and it was supposed their respective advocates would share 
the same feeling. They were lodged each respectively with 
tlie leading family of the party they represented. When 
dinner-time came the first day neither of the doctors were 
to be found, and search was made far and near, till a little 


girl found them quietly sitting in an orchard, with their arras 
thrown over each other's necks, concocting their plan of o]i- 
erations together. Such a beginning ended in peace in the 
parish. Our informant is the little girl who found them. 

Dr. Beecher to Edward. 

"December 30, 1825. 

"Henry and Charles have both had slight awakenings, 
which have increased the power of conscience, but j^romise 

no immediate saving results. Mr. L has been faithful 

with Henry, and, I trust, successful. He says in a letter, 
' His observance of my regulations relating to study has be- 
come exact and punctual. His diligence has all along grad- 
ually increased, and I think he has arrived at that full pur- 
pose which will insure his making a scholar. My method 
of instruction for beginners is a system of extended, minute, 
and reiterated drilling, and the make of his mind is such as 
fits him to receive benefits from the operation.' 

" I have given all my time to the Connecticut Observer^ 
and, including my pastoral labors, have never labored more 
entirely up to the line of possibility in my life, minding al- 
ways not to step over. Do you read the Observer? It 
would take away part of my pleasure in writing if you do 

" The revival — I have never said it, or allowed myself to 
think it or feel it — is probably, for the time, nearly concluded. 
There are one or two districts where I shall make an eflbrt, 
and then the whole ground will have been gone over, and 
will probably yield no more fruit at present ; so I shall soon 
organize the Bible-class, and endeavor to make the most of 
what we have gained, and to prepare the way for another 
onset as soon as new materials shall rise up, which will not 


be long. It is never worth Avhile to chase a revival after 
it is gone by. The laws of mind and of divine sovereignty 
are in unison, and after the greater stimulus has been ap- 
plied and failed, it will do no good to apply the less. After 
one battle and victory, it remains to clear the decks and -pve- 
pare for another. This I shall attempt to do. As to my 
prospects here I shall say but little. If the society here 
would not hinder, but would co-operate with me, I should 
desire no better situation ; but, for a year past, they have oc- 
casioned me much trial and discouragement, and raised in 
my mind doubts about my duty which I never expected to 
feel. At such a crisis in my own mind, rumors are floating 
here from Boston of the purpose of the Hanover Society 
to give me a call ; and it has been said they would do it if 
they knew I would accept. On that point I can not speak 
to any one, can not even decide for myself; and yet, if I am 
to see it my duty to go hence, that, perhaps, is the ^^lace to 
which, above all others, I should prefer to go. But I dare 
not stir ; so I have made up my mind to do my duty here, 
and leave the event to God, believing that, if he has any 
thing for me to do here, he will make my way prosperous, 
or, if elsewhere, he will open the door himself, and not leave 
me to push it open. My people, with the exception of two 
or three, are, I doubt not, cordial, and whether they would 
unship me if they could, I can not tell ; some things lately 
have looked that way." 





The occasion which called forth these sermons is thus de- 
scribed by Dr. Beecher : 

" There was a neighborhood abont four miles out, called 
Bradleysville, where I used to preach on Sabbath afternoon, 
and have a lecture in the week. The first time I went it 

was connected with a revival of religion, and 

and his wife became pious. *Re was nearly the first male 
convert I had after I went to Litchfield, and was always 
most affectionate and kind. 'Twas my home there when I 
went out to preach and spend the night. He gave me more 
presents than any two or three, and was one of my most 
useful and excellent young men. The meetings, about this 
time, had been discontinued for some cause for a time. On 
setting them up again, I preached at his house as usual, but 
it did not go as it used to, and the second time the same. 
After lecture I went out doors a few moments, and when I 
came in, found he was abed, and his wife .was weejDing. I 
felt a shock of presentiment. I drew u]^ my chair by her 
side and said, ' What is the matter ?' ' Oh, matter enough,' 
said she. ' Who is it ? Is it your father ?' I knew he had 
some liabilities that way. She told me it was her hus- 
band too. ' Is it possible ? is it possible ?' ' Yes, it is pos- 

" I thought to myself as I rode home, ' It is now or never. 
I must go about it immediately, or there is no chance of 
their salvation.' These sermons I had projected early. I 

SIX SEKMONS ON inte:\ipee,ance. 35 

rather think it was at East Hampton that I struck out a con- 
siderable skeleton. They were laid by to be finished when 
I could get time. I knew where they were ; I had laid 
them up ; so I began the next Sabbath, and continued as 
fast as I could write them — one every Sabbath, I think. I 
wrote under such a power of feeling as never before or since. 
Never could have written it under other circumstances. 
They took hold of the whole congregation. Sabbath after 
Sabbath the interest grew, and became the most absorbing 
thing ever heard of before. A wonder — of weekly conver- 
sation and interest, and, when I got through, of eulogy. All 
the old farmers that brought in wood to sell, and used to 
set up their cart- whips at the groggery, talked about it, and 
said, many of them, they would never drink again. 

" The father was rescued, but the son was carried away. 
But when he died he was in possession of his mind, and 
seemed to have Christian feeling. And there is this hope 
about it : his mother was an habitual drinker, and he was 
nursed on milk punch, and the thirst was in his constitution. 
He was a retailer, and so became bound hand and foot. He 
reformed for a season, but went back. I indulge the hope 
that God saw it was a constitutional infirmity, like any oth- 
er disease." 

Extracts from Sermons. 

" Wiiat, then, is this universal, natural, and national rem- 
edy for intemperance ? 

"It is the banishment of aedent spieits from the 
list of lawful articles of commeece by a coeeect and 
efficient public sentiment, such as has tuened slave- 
ry out of half of oue land, and will yet expel it 
from the world. 


" Nothing should now be said by way of criminatron for 
the past ; for verily we have all been guilty in this thing, so 
that there are few in the land whose brother's blood may 
not cry out against them from the ground on account of 
the bad influence which has been lent in some way to the 
work of destruction. 

" We are not, therefore, to come down in wrath upon the 
distillers, and importers, and vendors of ardent spirits. ISTone 
of us are enough without sin to cast the first stone ; for who 
would have imported, or distilled, or vended, if all the nom- 
inally temperate in the land had refused to drink ? It is the 
buyers who have created the demand for ardent spirits, and 
made distillation and importation a gainful traffic ; and it is 
the custom of the temperate, too, which inundates the land 
with the occasion of so much and such unmanageable temp- 
tation. Let the temperate cease to buy, and the demand 
for ardent spirits will fall in the market three fourths, and 
ultimately will fail wholly, as the generation of drunkards 
shall hasten out of time. 

" To insist that men whose capital is embarked in the i^ro- 
duction or vending of ardent spirits shall manifest the entire 
magnanimity and self-denial which is needful to save the 
land, though the example would be glorious to them, is more 
than we have a right to expect or demand. Let the con- 
sumer do his duty, and the capitalist, finding his employ- 
ment unproductive, will quickly discover other channels of 
useful enterprise. All language of impatient censure 'against 
those who embarked in the traffic of ardent spirits while it 
was deemed a lawful calling should therefore be forborne. 
It would only serve to irritate, and arouse prejudice, and 
prevent investigation, and concentrate a deaf and deadly op- 
position against the work of reformation. 'No ex post facto 
laws. Let us all rather confess the sins which are past, and 


leave the things which are behind, and press forward in one 
harmonious attempt to reform the land, and perpetuate our 
invaluable blessings. 

" This, however, can not be done effectually so long as 
the traffic in ardent spirits is regarded as lawful, and is pa- 
tronized by men of reputation and moral worth in every part 
of the land. Like slavery, it must be regarded as sinful, im- 
politic, and dishonorable. That no measures will avail short 
of rendering ardent spirits a contraband of trade is nearly 
self-evident. * * * 

" Could all the forms of evil produced in the land by in- 
temperance come upon us in one horrid array, it would ap- 
pal the nation, and put an end to the traffic in ardent spirit. 
If, in every dwelling built by blood, the stone from the wall 
should utter all the cries which the bloody traffic extorts, 
and the beam out of the timber should echo them back, who 
would build such a house, and who would dwell in it ? 
What if in every part of the dwelling, from the cellar up- 
ward, through all the halls and chambers, babblings, and con- 
tentions, and voices, and groans, and shrieks, and wailings, 
were heard day and night ! What if the cold blood oozed 
out, and stood in drops upon the walls, and, by preternatural 
art, all the ghastly sKulls and bones of the victims destroy- 
ed by intemperance should stand upon the walls, in horrid 
sculpture, within and without the building ! Who would 
rear such a building ? What if at eventide and at midnight 
the airy forms of men destroyed by intemperance were dim- 
ly seen haunting the distilleries and stores where they re- 
ceived their bane, or following the track of the ship engaged 
in the commerce — walking upon the waves, flitting athwart 
the deck, sitting upon the rigging, and sending up, from the 
hold within and from the waves without, groans, and loud 
laments, and wailings? Who would attend such stores? 


Who would labor in such distilleries ? Who would navi- 
gate such ships ? 

" Oh ! were the sky over our heads one great whispering- 
gallery, bringing down about us all the lamentation and woe 
which intemperance creates, and the firm earth one sonorous 
medium of sound, bringing up around us from beneath the 
wailings of the damned, whom the commerce in ardent spirit 
had sent thither — these tremendous realities, assailing our 
senses, would invigorate our conscience, and give decision to 
the purpose of reformation. But these evils are as real as 
if the stone did cry out of the wall, and the beam answered 
it ; as real as if, day and night, wailings were heard in every 
part of the dwelling, and blood and skeletons were seen 
upon every wall ; as real as if the ghostly forms of departed 
victims flitted about the ship as she passed over the billows, 
and showed themselves nightly about stores and distilleries, 
and with unearthly voices screamed in our ears their loud 
lament. They are as real as if the sky over our heads col- 
lected and brought down about us all the notes of sorrow in 
the land, and the firm earth should open a passage for the 
wailings of despair to come up from beneath." 




When I gave myself to God in the Gospel of his Son, it 
was done with the following views : 

That all expectation of accumulating property for myself 
and family be relinquished, leaving it to God in his own way 
to take care of me when sickness or age should supersede 
active labor. That it would be my duty to live in family 
state, and to obey the injunction of providing for my own 
household, and of training my children in the nurture and 
admonition of the Lord with reference to their piety and 
usefulness. I never expected or desired to give them any 
thing but their own minds and faculties, properly cultivated 
and prepared for active usefulness. 

That for my support I must rely wholly upon the cultiva- 
tion of my own intellectual and moral powers, and my fidel- 
ity in the pastoral office and in the Church of God, and on 
his promised blessing to render these means effectual, leav- 
ing it entirely to his providence to indicate where I should 
serve him, and in what manner I should be supported. 

With these views I gave myself to the ministry, first at 
East Hampton, on Long Island, with a salary of 8300 and 
my fire -wood, which, after five years, was raised to 8400; 
and then, as my family increased, proving incompetent, at 
the end of another five years I obtained a dismission, and 
settled in this place May 29, 1810, upon a salary of 8800, 
with an understanding that I might calculate upon a volun- 
tary supply of wood. Early after my settlement my wife 


(of beloved memory) informed me, from year to year, that 
my income did not meet the unavoidable expenses of the 
family, and advised me to communicate the fact to the soci- 
ety. I replied that I had come hither with the determina- 
tion of removing no more, and that, in my judgment, the con- 
dition of the society forbade a request for the increase of 
my salary. She suggested the expedient of my keeping 
school, to which I replied that my views of pastoral duty did 
not allow me. Her reply was, " Something must be done, 
and, with your permission, I will appropriate my own in- 
come to enlarge our dwelling, and rent the rooms, and keep 
boarders." To this, with some reluctance, I consented. At 
this time our arrears amounted to about $600. She made 
the attempt, lost her property, and by undue exertion, as I 
suppose, her life, and brought me into a condition of inex- 
tricable embarrassment, from which, ten years since, you re- 
lieved me with a generosity unparalleled. 

From this time until the public education of my sons 
commenced, my income just yielded me a support. The ex- 
tra expense of educating my sons I expected to meet by 
keeping boarders, and the disposal of a little property left 
me at Guilford, which, as yet, is not at my control. In the 
past instance I succeeded without any alarming accumula- 
tion of debt, on receiving from my son Edward $225, and 
from another child, Catharine, $160. About this time my 
health failed, which made a difference of at least |200 in my 
expenses in the course of two years. The state of my health 
demanding diversion of mind and manual labor, I made a 
purchase of land, by which my health has been regained, 
and which now may be disposed of, I trust, without loss. 
In my attempt to educate a second son I am brought to a 
stand. For three years I have perceived, each year, an ar- 
rearage, which it was my hope, by special exertions, to re- 


trieve the next year. That expectation exists no more. My 
late investigation of my concerns has convinced me that 
there is an annual deficiency in my salary of $200, wholly ir- 
remediable by any possible efforts of my own, or by any 
authorized reliance upon Providence in my j^resent condi- 
tion ; that I can not possibly, with my present income, can- 
cel the past arrears of deficient support, nor continue the ed- 
ucation of my children, nor maintain my credit for punctu- 
ality, nor my ministerial influence, nor my health nor spirits . 
to prosecute the duties of my ministry ; and, on looking at 
the condition of the society, it was my deliberate oj^inion 
that it could not be expected that they would meet these 
exigencies of my condition with any such degree of unanim- 
ity and cordiality as would not render the attempt useless 
to me and injurious to the society. The abandonment of 
the public education of my sons, painful in itself, seemed to 
furnish no prospect of relief; the expense of their support 
still resting upon me for no inconsiderable period, and being 
as really^ if not as much beyond my ability, in my present 
circumstances as their public education. For several days 
and nights, while agitated by this subject, I endured what I 
shall not attempt to describe only by saying that a few 
days more of such suspense and mental agitation must for 
the time have prostrated me entirely. I came, however, at 
length to the conclusion that I must ask for a dismission, 
sell my property, pay my debts, and cast myself upon the 
protection and guidance of heaven. Twelve hours after this 
determination was made, and without any agency, directly 
or indirectly, of mine, I received a communication, of which 
the following is an extract : 

"Boston, January 2, 182G. 
" Rev. and dear Sir, — The committee appointed to rec- 
ommend to the Hanover Clnirch a suitable person to take 


the pastoral charge of them, have determined to report your 
name, provided there is a reasonable prospect that a call 
from the Church will be successful, and they have no doubt 
but that such a report would meet the cordial approbation 
of their constituents. But we have not the means, dear sir, 
of knowing the prospect of your accepting our invitation 
without writing you confidentially on the subject, which I 
now do by the order of the Church committee, of which I 
am a member. You will not think the question we put to 
be indelicate or disrespectful, since in our circumstances it 
seems expedient and necessary. A call, properly speaking, 
can not be given confidentially. It will, as a thing of course, 
be soon known abroad. In the present case it would excite 
much notice, and be the topic of much remark, and, if not 
successful, would greatly injure us; hence our cautionary 

" Permit me, then, resj^ectfully to ask you, dear sir, wheth- 
er, should our Church invite you to become their pastor, 
you would be able and willing to express an opinion before 
your Consociation that the Head of Zion called you to this 
city ? I only remark that we have come to our present de- 
cision after looking a long time and very attentively, with 
many prayers, at the indications of Providence, and we cry 
to you with the utmost earnestness to come over and help 
us. We shall wait with some anxiety for your answer, 
which we hope you will send as soon as your convenience 
will permit it." 

On the subject of this communication I would not consult 
my friends, nor ascertain the feelings of my people. It be- 
came indispensable to return an answer yea or nay upon 
niy own responsibility. Therefore, making it a subject of 
prayer, and bringing to the consideration of it all the means 


of forming a correct decision in my power, I returned the 
following answer : 

" Dear Sir, — In reply to yours, I have to say that, when 
I came to Litchfield, it was both for the purpose of spending 
my days with the people, should it i^lease God in his provi- 
dence to enable me to provide for my household, and serve 
him without distraction in the Gospel of his Son. Experi- 
ence has proved, however, that I accepted of a salary, as I 
did in my first settlement, which can not by me be made to 
cover the unavoidable expense of rearing up my family for 
usefulness. I do not regret either settlement, believing that 
I have had the approbation of my God, as I have had of my 
conscience and heart, and that, if I am saved, I shall meet 
many from both my pastoral charges whom I may present 
to Jesus Christ as the children he has given me. 

*' It is, however, more than a year since I have become 
alarmed at the disproportion between my expenses and my 
income, and have regarded my continuance here as doubt- 
ful. It was not, however, more than twelve hours before 
your communication arrived that I had come to Xh^fuU eoiir 
elusion that it would be my duty to remove, should G6d in 
his providence open my way to some place where I might 
be useful and unembarrassed with secular perplexities. I 
regard your letter, therefore, as a providential indication of 
the divine will concerning my duty." 

I have not come to this conclusion from motives of ambi- 
tion, or a desire or expectation of secular gain, nor hastily, 
under the influence of dissatisfaction with my people. You 
have done for me what you promised, and more. Nor with 
the expectation of escaping from trials here to live without 
them elsewhere. Nor with the expectation of stronger at- 


tachments than bind me to you. ISTor have I looked only 
at my own interest, regardless of yours, but have weighed 
with as much solicitude the effect of my removal on you 
as on myself. Nor is it the j^lea of greater usefulness alone 
which has brought me to this conclusion ; for, though it may 
be a sufficient reason in some cases, still the difference in 
this case might not have been sufficient, by a23parent and 
certain things, to have satisfied my mind, and therefore I 
have not heretofore encouraged overtures for a removal 
which I might have encouraged, and have sometimes pre- 
vented their being made, and always chose to have it under- 
stood that my removal was not to be exj)ected. Whatever 
suspicions any of you may have had on this subject, they 
have been without foundation. I have always dealt fairly 
and truly with you in this respect, and I can say with the 
utmost sincerity that, had my support here been such as that 
I could have been exempt from solicitude which I could not 
endure, and have fulfilled, as I understand it, my duty to my 
family, I would not have consented to receive a call from 
any Church or people on earth. I am aware of the unfavor- 
able impression which my repeated embarrassments are like- 
ly to have on myself in respect to prudence and economy, 
and it is probable that some men might have lived and per- 
haps even thriven upon my income ; though I can not per- 
ceive how any man, with the family I have had, could give 
himself as exclusively to study, to pastoral labor, and to the 
public concerns of the Church as I have done, and rendered 
his income more available than mine has been. I have 
known a few ministers who have been wealthy farmers and 
money-lenders, but their people in spiritual things were as 
poor as their pastors were rich in the things of this life; and 
I am sure I would not exchange the souls which God has 
given me, and the blessedness of bringing them to Christ, 


and the hope of meeting them in heaven, for all the farms 
and money in creation. 

In respect to the education of my sons, I have no aversion 
to their being farmers or mechanics, if this was the way in 
which Providence seemed to indicate that they should serve 
their generation ; nor do I feel as if I had any claim on 
you to furnish for me the means of giving a public education 
to them all. But the fact is, I have not the means of mak- 
ing them agriculturalists, and their turn of mind does not 
seem to lead them to be artisans. It has pleased God to 
bless them with intellect, and most of them, I hope, with 
piety, and all of them with the love of study. They have 
been dedicated to God with many prayers that they might 
become ministers of Christ, and I do feel as if in these cir- 
cumstances it is my duty to make every effort in my power 
to give them an "education, and to give them to Jesus as 
ministers in the Church which he has purchased with his 
blood. For this end I have practiced as rigid an economy 
as I was able to do ; have denied myself in equipage and 
dress more than otherwise I should have deemed it my duty 
to do ; and, besides the accumulating arrears of debt, have 
permitted my buildings and fences to fall into decay for 
want of repairs. All this, however, will now no longer 
avail ; and, as it has appeared to me, I must abandon their 
education and run the risk of their ruin, or remove, to con- 
tinue the eftbrt to educate them under more favorable au- 
spices. , 

Placed, then, in a situation in which I could no longer 
move onward with my family establishment, and subjected, 
as I believed, to the necessity of a removal, I received the 
inquiry whether I would accept a call, and in the fear of 
God, and, as I suppose, in accordance with all just rules of 
interpreting the indications of his providence, I answered in 


the affirmative. I hope you will do me the justice to believe 
that I have endeavored to conduct uprightly and in the fear 
of God, and that the friendship between us, Avhich has been 
confirmed by the joys and the sorrows of fifteen years, may 
not all in a moment be sacrificed, but that you will extend 
to me, in this heart-breaking moment, the consolation of be- 
lieving that I have not forfeited your confidence, your afiec- 
tion, and an interest in your prayers. And it is my earnest 
prayer to God that we may, in the season of peculiar tempt- 
ation and trial, escape those exhibitions of human frailty, 
folly, and Avickedness which sometimes attend the separa- 
tion of a pastor from his people, and afford to the world one 
cheering illustration of the fact that a minister and his peo- 
ple can be separated without exasperation and evil speaking, 
and under the influence of meekness, and resignation, and 
Christian love. For you, my dear people, if I should be 
dismissed, I shall cherish an unwavering affection to my 
dying day ; shall always speak of you with affection, and 
commendation, and always rejoice in your j^rosperity, and 
rejoice to contribute to it in any way which shall be in my 

Dr. Beecher to Edward. 

"Januaiy 8,1826. 

" It is probable I shall myself and family be in Boston in 
two months or less. In looking into my concerns a short 
time since, I found it impossible to support my family and 
educate my children on 1 8 00, and that I must remove, or 
take George out of college immediately. 

" I determined on the former with my heart, and con- 
science, and judgment, and without a moment's wavering, 
taking in, at the same time, the state of things here. 

" In twenty-four hours after I had come to the determin- 


ation, letters arrived from the committee of the Hanover 
Church, Boston, asking if I would accept a call. 

" Mr. Evarts also wrote, as did the committee, with great 
urgency. My letters have reached Boston to-day, saying I 
will accept a call. 

" Aunt E will go with us, and is, after the first shock, 

I believe, not displeased. When I went to Sag Harbor to 
send a letter to Dr. D wight that I must leave East Hampton, 
I found a letter in the office inquiring if I would receive a 
call from Litchfield. And while your mother was writing 
to Boston that I should now move somewhere, I found in 
the post-office the above letters — a remarkable coincidence. 
God has been exceedingly gracious in saving me from a call 
before I could have decided, and in sending me one twenty- 
four hours after I had decided." 

to Edward. 

"Hartford, February, 1826. 

" It is pretty much decided that father will go the second 
week in March. The prospect of usefulness is very flatter- 
ing, but still the idea of leaving Litchfield makes me sad. 
* * * Litchfield walks, and hills, and woods, the old house, 
and orchard, and mowing-lot, and many other things, will 
be painful to leave forever, and feel they are no more ours. 
The scenes where we have passed our earliest years are full 
of the feehugs of youth. The beautiful lakes and woods, 
Bantam, Benvenue, the delightful walks and prospects, are 
all dear to me. I never knew before how strong was my 
love for inanimate nature, though to me it is not entirely 
inanimate, for I have conversed more with it in Litchfield 
than with living beings." 


Dr. Beecher to Dr. Taylor. 

"Marcli 1,1826. 

"I wish to secure your presence and influence with my 
late charge Saturday after next, and as many Sabbaths as 
may be agreeable to you and to them. * * * j^ ^jjj 
comfort my people much, and bring them around you for 
advice, and give you a commanding power to aid them in 
the settlement of a minister. * * * 

"Don't fail to go and do good a few times. I w^ant to 
see you much. Want a man of your formation for Litch- 
field. Do you know^ of any one ? I set out for Boston on 
Monday. * * * I should not have left Connecticut Avith- 
out consulting you but that Providence made the necessity 
of a removal too plain and indispensable to require consult- 
ation or leave any doubt. 

" But in Massachusetts I shall not forget Connecticut, and 
may do something still to help. How comes on Brother 
H 's cry of heresy? "What was the result of your con- 
ference ? Is he acting badly still ? Is he gaining strength, 
or going down ? Don't fail to write soon." 






In some respects the Boston of to-day is a different city 
from the Boston of 1826. At that time it was a much 
smaller city, with a more nearly homogeneous jDOiDulation, 
and, therefore, far more susceptible of being influenced per- 
ceptibly by a single mind. 

Boys then skated in winter where now rise some of the 
finest public buildings and most sumptuous private resi- 
dences in the country. It is estimated that the Back Bay 

Vol. II— 


lands alone will have added in 1870 two hundred acres to 
the city area. 

East Boston, now a beautiful part of the city, was then a 
thinly settled pasture on what was called ISToddle's Island. 
The Worcester Depot, that vomitory of the travel and the 
trade of the Great West and South, with its spacious freight - 
and passenger accommodations, and numerous blocks of 
buildings adjoining, stand on ground obtained by filling up 
what was then known as South Cove. 

While the area of the city has been greatly enlarged by 
these and other additions, the population has advanced 
from fifty to not far from two hundred thousand. 

The character of the population has, at the same time, 
been materially affected by the introduction of the railroad 
system. Stages then were in their glory, and a visit to 
Andover or Groton, or some such suburban town, occupied 
a good half day or more. One can almost hear even yet 
the rattle of hoofs, crash of Avheels, and impatient thunder- 
ing at the front door at two o'clock in the morning, when 
such a journey was to be imdertaken. 

Now stages, with all their poetical associations, are gone, 
and seven principal lines of railway converge in Boston. 
Space is partially annihilated. Practically, the city suburbs 
are extended an hour's ride by rail in all directions. 

The consequences are incalculable. The wealthier classes, 
once inhabiting the older-built portions of the city, w^here 
streets are narrow and crooked, and houses dingy, have 
moved to the newly-built portions of the city, or are dis- 
tributed in the surrounding towns, leaving the ground to 
business and immigration. Thus the material on which 
the mind of Dr. Beecher energized is largely deposited as 
a fertilizing alluvium over all the surrounding district, while 
the scenes of his activity are silted up, as it were, with bar- 

BOSTON. 5 1 

ren detritus of Old- World formations, giving to Boston in 
some quarters almost the air of a foreign city. 

But Boston was already in 1826, in some respects, a 
changed city as compared with its former self. A single 
century had sufficed for a total revolution in religious belief 

"It is now," said Increase Mather in 1722, '-the dying 
wish of one that has been about threescore and six years 
* * * serving the best of masters in the blessed work of the 
Gospel, that the churches may stand fast in the faith and 
order of the Gospel, and hold fast what they have received, 
that no man take away their crown. * * * And, considering 
the relation Avhich I have heretofore sustained as a presi- 
dent for twenty years, * * * it is my more particular desire 
that the tutors in our colleges, from whence the churches 
expect their supplies, would see to have the students well 
informed in the points which they must know and serve, 
that so the work of God among us may not be marred by 
falling into unskillful and unfaithful hands. * '^ * 

"And, therefore, from the suburbs of that glorious world 
into which I am now entering, I earnestly testify unto the 
rising generation that if they sinfully forsake the God, and 
the hope, and the religious ways of their pious ancestors, 
the glorious Lord will severely punish their apostasy, and 
be terrible from his holy places upon them." 

With what emotions would this dying saint have seen, at 
the distance of a single century, that university over which 
he had presided, to use the language of a recent writer, 
"from turret to foundation stone illuminated by the calm 
blaze of that rational religion in whose light all distinctions 
of Christian doctrine fade away like phosphorescent ob- 
jects in the sunshine?" With what emotions would he 
have seen her sending forth the flower of her classes " to 
oppose in the pulpits of Massachusetts their philosophy of 


religion, their rhetorical grace, their soothing or animated 
elocution, and the flowers which they had culled from the 
field of nature or the Scriptures, to the honest interpreta- 
tion, the downright argument, the urgent zeal, and the rigid 
sternness, now, indeed, learning to be less rigid and less 
stern, of ancient orthodoxy ?" What if he had witnessed 
the "mightier aid given to the principle in which Unita- 
rianism had its origin by the army of educated men who 
passed from Cambridge to the highest seats of life, almost 
sure, whether they believed or not with their academic 
teachers, at least with them to disbelieve I'"^ 

What if he could have foreseen the hour when " all the 
old churches in the metropolis of New England, with one 
exception, which might cease to be an exception, had pass- 
ed through the old Arminianism of 1750 into Unitarianism, 
some of them to the extreme of that empty and Christless 
theory of which Belsham and Priestley were the apos- 
tles !"t 

The feelings with which Dr. Beecher entered upon the 
metropolitan arena, after having witnessed afar the suc- 
cessive steps of portentous change, were as though in him 
one of the old Puritans had risen from the dead. When he 
came sometimes into his Tuesday-evening lecture, after a 
visit to the burial-ground on Copp's Hill, there was that in 
the prayer and in the sermon that seemed like the rolling 
in of the Atlantic upon the beach. 

Every step of the controversy — the election of Ware to 
the HoUis professorship in 1805; the establishment of the 
Panoplist ; the founding of Amherst College and the Theo- 
logical Seminary at Andover ; the opening of Park Street ; 

* Pages from the Ecclesiastical History of New England. J. B. Dow, 
Boston, 1847. 

t Dr. Bacon's Commemorative Discourse, Andover Memorial, p. 88. 


the thunder of Griffin's eloquence, startling the death-slum- 
ber of the children of the Pilgrims like an archangel's trump ; 
the dark day of discouragement when he retired dishearten- 
ed, and the whole enterprise seemed to have well-nigh fail- 
ed f the ordination in his place of a son of the beloved in- 
structor, Dr. D wight ; the mask torn off in 1815 from Unita- 
rian concealment by the pamphlet entitled " American Uni- 
tarianism ;" the letters of Channing and Worcester, Stuart, 
Woods, and Ware ; the decision of Chief Justice Parker, an- 
nihilating at a blow the legal tenure of the Puritan church- 
es; the letters of Miller, Sparks, and Stuart — he had watch- 
ed with intense and ever-increasing emotion. "It was as 
fire in my bones," he said ; " my mind was all the time heat- 
ing — heating — heating." 

Thrice already, in 1817, 1819, and in 1823, had he been 
permitted to lift his voice in Eastern Massachusetts. ISTow 
the sacred city of the Pilgrims became the appointed scene 
of his labors. The posture of affairs is thus sketched by a 
pen not over-partial to Puritan peculiarities, however loyal 
to the Trinitarian faith : 

" The Christian Examiner became the chief and the able 
organ of those doctrines for whose promulgation it was 
destined and designed to labor with the spirit that beseem- 
ed its title. It leaned upon the Baltimore sermon of Chan- 
ning, and reproached the orthodox for the separation which 
eight years had now decided. But its first volume contain- 
ed a report of the ' Massachusetts Evangelical Society,' a 
Unitarian body — a report which was plainly intended to be 
a landmark which might either bound encroachment, or 
demonstrate the falsehood of the charge of encroachment. 
It thus protested against the progress of that mode of 
thinking which delights to represent ' a God all mercy.' 
* Andovcr Memorial, p. 21 G. 


" ' The prevalence,' it said, ' of the modem sect of Uni- 
versalists, who deny the doctrine of a future retribution, 
and who do not consider a pious and holy life essential to 
happiness hereafter, is particularly alarming, and calls for 
the special notice of all serious Christians. We think this 
system to be most injurious to the interests of good morals, 
and to the welfare of civil society, as Avell as fatally danger- 
ous to the souls of men, and we believe it directly contrary 
to the plainest declarations of the holy Gospel.' The cleri- 
cal trustees whose signatures were affixed to this docu- 
ment Avere Bancroft, Thayer, Foster, Lowell, Pierce, Ken- 
dall, Parkraan, Ripley, and Ware. It had the fate of many 
other landmarks, and remains to denote the period and the 

"In 1825 the American Unitarian Association was form- 
ed, for the concentration of Unitarian efforts and the prop- 
agation of Unitarian sentiments through books, and tracts, 
and missionaries. There were, indeed, grave questions 
which might have been expected to divide those efforts, as 
they certainly se^Darated those sentiments. There was a 
higher and a lower class of Unitarians, and still beyond 
these a highest and a lowest. But it was calmly announced 
that, concerning these lowest doctrines, ' those who agreed 
in the great point of the simple unity of God differed, and 
should differ in peace.' Only the phrase ' the eternal Son 
of God' was unscriptural and absurd ; every thing else 
might claim an undisturbed tolerance. In its first year the 
Christian Examiner announced to the world that he be- 
lieved enough who believed no more than the humanity of 
Jesus Christ, who denied the existence of the devil, and 
who deemed the allusions of the ISlew Testament to evil 
spirits to be a mere indulgence of the language of popular 


"The Christian Examiner of 1827 was content to ac- 
knowledge that its editors 'thought they should prefer to 
the speculations of the infidel theologians of Germany even 
Calvinism itself, in a mitigated state, though they might 
hesitate about some of the more odious and mischievous 
forms in which it had lately appeared.' It acquiesced in 
the reasoning that ' to worship Christ as God was to deny 
him,' one of the shameless absurdities of Whitman of Wal- 
tham ; and in the statement which the life of ISTorton was 
given to sustain, that the ISTew Testament was not a reve- 
lation, but the history of a revelation. The most powerful 
and popular arguments, however, were still aimed at dis- 
torted pictures of Calvinism, for which the most grim of 
ancient Calvinists hardly furnished an outline. If the re- 
semblance was denied, it was said that orthodoxy had 
changed its features, and was j^rej^aring to attach itself to 
the triumph of rational religion. But not the less was the 
picture assailed with triumphant indignation. 

" Channing, in the noonday of his renown, Pierpont, with 
his air of undaunted frankness, and Dewey, with that elo- 
quence which could invest with ' a glory and a glow' senti- 
ments the most earthly and frivolous, all denounced the 
Calvinistic system as ascribing to the Maker of mankind 
acts which would dishonor the throne of a human tyrant. 
It was no preference for abstract Unitarianism that recon- 
ciled men to the surrender of all which it denied. But one 
writer thus clothed the opposite doctrine with the most re- 
volting and terrific aspect. Another sj^read out a charm- 
ing landscape in contrast, embracing all which is lovely and 
of good report, without one stern passage of the pilgrim- 
age. Another hastened to allow the claims of all worldly 
business, and the innocence of all worldly pleasures within 
the limits imposed by a moderate temper and a wise regard 


to personal interest. Another had not a severe word for 
any opinion, and owned that he might himself be in error 
on any topic, however momentous might seem the necessi- 
ty of truth. It would have been wonderful if the unde- 
cided, the indifferent, the inexperienced, the prosperous, the 
light-hearted, all who were as far as possible from being 
weary and heavy laden, had not been swayed like the trees 
in the wind. To such, and to those who honestly abhorred 
the Calvinistic creed and knew no other, were now added 
a company of speculative minds, that went forth, like the 
raven from the ark, over the ocean of free inquiry, and too 
often, like the raven, returned no more."* 

It is scarcely necessary to add that the system of Unita- 
rianism, in all its forms, Dr. Beecher regarded as the deadly 
foe of human happiness, whose direct tendency was to pre- 
vent true conviction and conversion, stop revivals of reli- 
gion, and leave men bound hand and foot under the power 
of the adversary. 

He could not be loyal to Christ, benevolent to man, or 
true to his own convictions without making war on such a 
system by every means consistent with the injunction, "Be 
wise as serpents, harmless as doves." 

Subsequent developments, and the meteoric descent of 
star after star toward the vapors of Pantheism and infideli- 
ty, have more than justified the course he pursued and the 
sentiments he expressed. 

* Pages from the Ecclesiastical History of New England, p. 87-93. 




William to Mltoarcl. 

"April 11,1826. 

" * * * I spent a week in Boston at the installation. 
Father was quite unwell with dyspepsia ; he suffered much 
from fear, and does still. I never knew him more cast down. 
He felt as though his course was finished. He had serious 
thoughts of sending for you, and had even written the let- 
ter, but concluded to wait and see how he got over the Sab- 
bath. This was Friday. He took a chair, and turned it 
down before the fire and laid down. ' Ah ! William,' said 
he, ' I'm done over ! I'm done over !' Mother told him he 
had often thought so before, and yet in two days had been 
nearly well again. ' Yes ; but I never was so low before. 
It's all over with me ! I only want to get my mind com- 
posed in God — but it is hard to see such a door of useful- 
ness set open and not be able to enter.' You may be sure 
I felt this deeply. He seemed so sure that I almost feared 
it was so. I never saw him so low before. 

"But we at length succeeded in cheering him some, and 
on Saturday I rode with him to Marblehead, and he was very 
much better, and preached on the Sabbath quite well, with- 
out much fatigue ; on Monday I left, and he has continued, 
with much fear and trembling, to j^reach since. * * * 
The house where he preaches is crowded, and the vestry 
meetings also. He has twenty or twenty-five inquirers ; and 
there seems to be a revival spirit in the churches. They 
board at Deacon Lambert's, in Pitt Street." 



Dr. Beecher to William. 

"Boston, March 31, 1826. 

c; * * ♦ rphe pews sold, it is said, well — eighty-five, I 
believe, which covered about two thirds the expense of the 
house. The premium given on choice of pews was |1200 to 
$1300. All seem gratified and encouraged. * * * 

" I hope that by still closer attention to regimen I shall 
relieve the acid which eating generates, and which so an- 
noys me with restlessness and pain, all of which I could en- 
dure and submit to but for the dispossessing, agitating na- 
ture of the disease. I make no disclosure of my situation as 
yet, and wish you not to, hoping to grapple through once 
more, as I have often dou6. Should necessity, however, re- 
quire, I shall hire a horse and chaise and depart for Connec- 
ticut, hoping to stave ofi'the present turn, and take care and 
not get another ; for the door here is wide, and I need only 
health to enter into an abundant harvest. There were twen- 
ty in the inquiry meeting this evening after you left. This 
eve the vestry was as full and solemn as on Sabbath. But 
how I shall stand it I know not, being held from day to day 
in suspense and fear. 

^^ Saturday morning. We had a good Church meeting last 
evening. There is, I trust, a revival spirit rising among 
them. Pilsbury, one of my old acquaintances and friends, 
and a N'ettletonian, was with me, and is stationed within my 
diocese as a missionary, and hereafter we shall plan and act 
in concert." 

The Same. 

*' Boston, AprillO, 1826. 
" It is with a deep sense of the divine goodness that I am 
able to say that my most distressing malady is yielding to 


prayer and regimen, and, I hope, passing away. Tliroiigh 
the last week my convalescence was so slow that I could 
scarcely perceive it, only in its results of labor which I was 
able to perform. But I preached on fast-day two long ser- 
mons on Intemperance, attended several other meetings in 
the Aveek, and at the close found myself evidently gaining 

" The sermons on Intemperance struck well, and it is the 
wish of many that I should preach them all, which I have 
concluded to do. 

" Yesterday was a good day, though full of care and la- 
bor. Three baptisms in the morning, and the admission to 
the Church of five members from the world. In the after- 
noon the ordination of deacons before the congregation, and 
subsequently the administration of the sacrament. There 
were, besides our own, nearly a hundred communicants upon 
invitation, and not many of them from the three orthodox 
churches ; persons probably who, since they came to the 
city, have formed as yet no connection with any church, 
though some of them were known to belong to Unitarian 
churches. But if they will commune with us, under such 
instruction as I gave in the sermon, it will be an omen for 

"I was weary, but became refreshed after tea, and at- 
tended vestry meeting, and exhorted with more strength 
and pleasure than at any time before. The meeting crowd- 
ed and solemn, though Dr. M'Auley i^reached in Park Street. 
Most who attend are strangers to all our people, which shows 
that the light is beginning to shine into darkness, and creates 
the hope that the darkness will comprehend it. 

" To-day I feel as well as on any Monday since I came to 
the city, and better. The pain and tenderness of my bow- 
els have not ceased, but I am able to take more food, and di- 


gest and sleep better, and exercise more. My face is recov- 
ering its color, and my eye its firmness, and my heart cour- 
age, hope, and pm-pose of action. 

"Joz^, who alone, except yom' mother, know through 
what extreme debility, and distress, and depression, and fear 
I have passed, will know how, with me, to render praise to 
God for his goodness in turning my fears into hope, my de- 
bility into strength, and the region of the shadow of death 
into the light of life. 

" If I ever felt my own emptiness, and unworthiness, and 
insufiiciency, or any earnestness of desire to consecrate all 
my powers to the service of God, it seems to me that I feel 
all these things eminently now. The field here is truly am- 
ple and white to the harvest, and my past preparations and 
experience seem to render it hoj^eful that I may yet be per- 
mitted to reap an abundant harvest. 

" But, though my ministry call out Unitarians of distinc- 
tion, it is not on this kind of celebrity that I chiefly rely. It 
is, indeed, desirable to be able to create a curiosity among 
intelligent men to come and hear the truth, because it ena- 
bles us to become the expounders of our own doctrines, and 
to wipe away aspersion and prejudice, and some arrows may 
hit and stick, even in high places. But, after all, the king- 
dom of God Cometh not with observation ; and I rely more 
on my vestry meetings on Sabbath and Tuesday eve, and 
on my chapel meetings on Friday eve at the N'orth, and 
on my visits and labors among the middle class and the 
poor, than upon all the eclat of reputed talents and elo- 
quence, and all the running to hear, and all the movements 
and talk from that source among the mighty and the noble. 
My plan is to retire and go to work silently, until the results 
shall tell in * souls renewed and sins forgiven.' You will 
not fail to pray for me, that my health and faith fail not, as 

1826. 61 

I shall not cease to give thanks that I have so many and so 
dear children to care for and co-operate with me in promot- 
ing the religion of Jesus Christ," 

Dr. Beecher to William. 

" Boston, April 13, 1826. 

" Catharine arrived Friday, and left all well at Hartford. 
She has been and is a comfort to me. Her examination 
was royal, and all her prospects of a school and of great 
usefulness are exceeding good. * * * For all these 
mercies let the Lord be praised. 

" We shall set out for Litchfield on Monday of next week. 
I can not pay your stage fare, but, if you are willing to walk, 
which I think will be much for your health, I will pay your 
traveling expenses. I hope you will accept this ofler, as I 
shall go first to Guilford and ^ew Haven, and shall need 
your assistance with your mother at Litchfield both before 
and after my arrival. * * * ^e have taken the house 
at North End — new, airy, and delightful within (ISTo. 18 
Sheafe Street), though surrounded by dreary roads to get 
to it. Can not have every thing in one place." 

D7\ Beecher to Edward. 

''Boston, April 19, 1826. 
" There is, I find, an earnest desire at Park Street to have 
you supply them. As things now stand there is no imped- 
iment, but a manifest ^providential indication that you should 
come. And my advice and my request- now is that you 
will do it without fail ; first, because your presence will be 
a great consolation to me just at this time, and, secondly, as 
to ulterior consequences, it is only following the leadings of 
Providence. And as we are not to push open doors before 
Providence opens them, so neither are we to refuse to enter 


when they are opened, but simply take ground as fast as 
Providence indicates, as the means by which the further 
purposes of Heaven concerning us may be disclosed. 

"Another reason is that there are the little clouds of a 
revival in every orthodox Church, which four weeks of exer- 
tion such as you, with myself and others, may make, might 
produce an overpowering shower. And the public feeling 
here now is such that another revival would tell w^onder- 

Dr. Beecher to Edward. 

"June 11, 1826. 

"The work here progresses, I believe, though the last in- 
quiry meeting it rained hard, and yet there w^ere twenty- 
five. The two last Tuesday evenings have been most deep- 
ly solemn, as was the last Sabbath, though the election week 
preceded. Brother Wisner has got home, and I hope, in 
concert with him and Brother Green, soon to get under 
way in some general movement. 

" Miss V and E called yesterday. I talked and 

prayed with E alone. She wept, but I fear the work 

does not grapple. Sometimes it seems as if persons had 
too much, and sometimes too little intellect to be converted 
easily. But all things are possible with God." 

Mrs. Beecher to . 

"June 25, 1826. 
" * '^ * I am happy to say we are beginning to be 
really comfortable. * * * I know not how a minister 
can desire any thing better than to preach the Gospel in 
Boston. '^' "^ "^ The four youngest children are with us. 
The girls are at Hartford, established as a family, with Aunt 
Esther at their head. Edward and George are at New 


Haven, William at Andover. My husband's health is pretty 
good. He has some dyspepsia at times, but it always leaves 
him on the Sabbath. He preaches a good deal, and with 
much encouragement. 

" There is a secret history of Boston which is very inter- 
esting — the history of minds and moral influence. Of this 
we have learned some already, and shall, probably, much 
more. We are at the North End, to which at first I felt 
reluctant. Mr. Beecher is enthusiastic in regard to this sit- 
uation. This soil was pressed by the feet of the Pilgrims, 
and watered by their tears, and consecrated by their pray- 
ers. Here are their tombs, and here are their children who 
are to be brought back to the fold of Christ. Their wan- 
derings and dispersions are lamentable, their captivity long 
and dark, but God will turn it, we hope, and reclaim these 
churches ; this dust and ruin shall live again." 

Dr. Beecher to Catharine. 

"June 30, 1826. 

"Your last letters, giving an account of the state of 
things in your school, have been read with deep interest and 
much thanksgiving, though not w^ithout some sohcitude. 

" The very high state of excited feeling, though extreme- 
ly natural among young Christians, and powerful in its ef- 
fects while it lasts, is too hazardous to health to be indulged, 
and necessarily too short-lived to answer in the best manner 
the purpose of advancing a- revival. In my early efforts I 
gave myself up to strong feeling, which I have since learned 
to economize, or I should long since have been in my grave 
or been useless. 

"You must, therefore, all of you, instantly put yourselves 
upon a different system, which I will describe and hasten 
to send you, or you will all be prostrate, T have no doubt. 


" The state of feeling to be cultivated in those who su- 
perintend a revival is a mild, but constant and intense de- 
sire of heart for the awakening and conversion of sinners. 

" When I say intense, I do not mean agitating, but strong 
and steady. A fullness and strength of desire, which does 
not ruffle the passions, and is compatible with the most cool 
and collected state of mind, both for planning and for ac- 
tion, and, at the same time, predisposes for earnest prayer, 
and for speaking to stupid and awakened sinners a word in 

"It is a genial warmth of heart, of steady benevolent tem- 
perature, compared with the more intense heat and flashings 
of holy and animal affections and j^assions, all boiling at once 
in the heart. 

" It is calm and tranquilhzing, for it is full of hope and 
confidence, and deliberate, unagitating, and unexhausting 
action. It is more like the cool, determined, comprehensive 
zeal, and courage, and determination of a general in the day 
of battle. It is a state of feeling in which the mind and 
body can both endure for any length of time, for it is be- 
nevolence in such quantity as does not demand effort to get 
it up to the point of intense desire. It is there when at 
rest on its own level, and does not require all the rivulets 
of feeling in the soul to pour their contributions in to create 
power enough to move the wheels of the soul. Animal 
affection may be comparatively quiet, and yet a mighty, 
steady energy will keep the wheels of the soul in motion 
without effort, and without nervous friction. 

" This is the state of heart which has carried me through 
all the revivals I have been in but the first, and that broke 
me down, and induced nervous habits which I shall never 
wholly retrieve. It is this self-possession of benevolence, 
burning mildly and constantly, but with undeclining heat, 


in the middle of the heart, which has enabled me to go 
through labors in revivals before which a man of my ardent 
temperament must otherwise have been 2:)rostrated ; and it 
is the letting in to mingle with this the excitement and 
agitation of too much emotion which has rendered revivals 
so often fatal to the health of ministers and others. 

*' Another thing, also, is to be carefully shut out of your 
souls — I mean an overpowering weight of responsibility and 
care. We can neither carry the world on our shoulders 
nor govern it, nor even govern the w^ants of a very small 
part of it, which are most immediately under our own eye. 
Settle it in your heart, therefore, that you are to exercise 
your best judgment, and j^erform in the best manner you 
can your duty, and leave the whole in the hands of God. 
You can not be accountable for consequences. 

" Again, beware that you do not borrow trouble, and cre- 
ate solicitude, and wear and tear, by events in anticipation, 
one in ten of which may never haj^pen. Sufficient to the 
day is the evil thereof, as well as the good, pre-eminently in 
the period of a revival, and especially to those who superin- 
tend it. Be therefore quiet. Let not your heart be troub- 
led. Give thanks greatly for the good ; and, at whatso- 
ever time you are afraid, trust in the Lord. 

u * * * Y^Q are all getting better health. Our pros- 
pects, I think, are daily more hopeful. The door of useful- 
ness is wide, and, if I may have health to enter in, I have 
no more for this world to ask. There are glorious things 
ahead, and, as it seems to me, within reaching distance if 
I live and have health. But this will be as God sees best, 
in whom it is ever good to trust." 


JDr.Beecher to Edward. 

"July, 1826. 

" I have kept up the same strain of revival preaching, 
with the same results, as when you were here. Fifty and 
sixty attend the inquiry meeting, and from tv/o to five new 
cases and new hopes each week. There are probably be- 
tween tliirty and forty who have hope. The congregation 
is ftdl and solemn, and seems to be amalgamated into a ho- 
mogeneous mass of belief and solemnity by the power of 

" As I become more acquainted with the state of Unita- 
rian congregations, I find that there is in them a precious 
remnant who have not bowed the knee to Baal, and who 
long to hear the voice of the prophet of God. Events are 
ripening fast for some result. The light can not be ex- 
cluded ; the stream can not be stopped, and moves as fast, 
perhaps, as is safe and desirable. The more I become ac- 
quainted with my work and 023portuuity, the more I am 
satisfied that my opportunity to do good is increased ten- 
fold. For example : at these united prayer meetings I can 
instruct and influence all the orthodox churches in Boston 
on the subject of revivals with more ease and as much efiect 
as my own single church in Litchfield. I am now occupied 
in preparing a result of council for advice at Groton, which 
leads me to review all the perverse Unitarian judgments 
against orthodox churches, and to set forth the nature and 
rights of the churches of Massachusetts, one of the most 
interesting and important labors I have ever been engaged 
in, and I expect from it great and good results. 

" To conclude, every circumstance in my present condi- 
tion is agreeable, prosperous, and cheering, and, I have no 
doubt, operating favorably on my health. Let us be grate- 
ful, and do what we can/' 


Dr,Beecher to Edicard. 

"August 3, 1826. 

" I have again just read your letter at the Missionary 
Rooms,* and, as it laid me under the necessity of giving 
definite advice, and on short notice, I considered it proper 
to consult confidentially Mr. Evarts and Brother Anderson, 
who is my Judge Reeve, both as counselor and as an af- 
fectionate friend. 

" They together counsel as I could find if I might have 
my choice on earth. I read your letter, and the following 
is their opinion : By no means accept or consent to be in- 
vited to the professorship at Dartmouth. * * ^ 

" Last evening a young man of intelligence from a Uni- 
tarian society called on me confidentially. He is anxious : 
has been vehemently prejudiced against orthodoxy : sees 
that he is coming to it, and revolts ; yet feels his depravity, 
and the need of a change of heart. He calls again on Sat- 
urday evening. I think the Lord intends to call him, and 
make him the harbinger of many more." 

William to Edicard. 

"August 27, 1820. 
" I hope to begin to preach in about five years, and so 
our dear mother's prayers will be answered. I found a 
paper the other day written by her, in which I find she 
used to rise before day to pray, and that she used to dedi- 
cate her sons to God, to be his servants in his cause. 

"Father works hard, and is quite popular, and is doing 
great good ; his meetings are crowded to overflowing." 
* Basement of Hanover Church. 


Dr. Beecher to Edward. 

'' September 4, 1826. 

" The work in Hanover Society is becoming of a more 
decided cast. The number of inquirers last evening doubled, 
and things look more like the letting out of waters. About 
sixty have hope, and appear well — such as we have exam- 
ined for admission, better than I expected. My heart melt- 
ed to hear their discreet and satisfying answers before the 
committee. I have had one young converts' meeting, much 
to the joy of my heart, and of all present. The shaking 
among Unitarian societies has, as I judge, but just begun. 
But it is going on. Two accomplished young ladies called 
on me to-day for advice. They belong to Unitarian socie- 
ties, and can not live under the preaching, and wish to join 
our Church. One is a late convert. I know of five others 
who are about to leave, persons of high standing, to unite 
with Hanover Church, and of some others who are coming, 
to consult me on the subject. 

" An intelligent young man of Mr. Ware's society has 
called on me privately three times, and last evening attend- 
ed the meeting of inquiry, almost, if not quite, in a state of 

"This is only a sketch. A wide and effectual door is 
open, and Unitarians are evidently alarmed, and know not 
what to do. It would be easy to kindle a fire in all their 
congregations around Boston and through the state like 
that which Whitfield kindled in old Arminian congrega- 

Tlie Same. 

"September 5,1826. 

" Just as I was about to send a letter last evening, Mr. 

Evarts called on me to say that the deacons of Park Street, 


by agreement of the committee, have written to request you 
to supply four Sabbaths, with a prospect, as he thinks, of 
their being united to give you a call. 

" As to the importance of the stand in Boston, as the 
centre of extended and powerful action, I have never stood 
in such a place before, and do not believe that there is, all 
things considered, such another, perhaps, on earth. It is 
here that New England is to be regenerated, the enemy 
driven out of the temple they have usurped and polluted, 
the college to be rescued, the jDublic sentiment to be revo- 
lutionized and restored to evangelical tone. And all this 
with reference to the resurrection of IsTew England to an 
undivided and renovated effort for the extension of relig- 
ious and moral influence throughout the land and through 
the world. 

"All this, under God, is to be accomplished here by in- 
tellectual power upon an intellectual people, who are cap- 
tivated with vigorous intellect and powerful argument, and 
will come to hear it, and will be influenced by it. 

"And when I consider the similarity of our minds, and 
views, and systems of action, I can not but feel as if the 
concentration of our resources in a system of preaching and 
action would give additional momentum to our individual 
power. * * * You were pleased to say once that noth- 
ing brought out your mental vigor and energized your soul 
like my society. The effect of your society, for obvious 
reasons, is the same on my mind ; and if it please God to 
place us where the action and reaction of intellectual power 
may be habitually experienced by us both, the public re- 
sults may be great and good. 

"I write as disinterestedly on this subject as if the social 
enjoyment of your society would be no greater than that 
of another. I have not, and shall not allow that to come in 


as a motive at all ; it shall be a consequence, if God please, 
of my having sought first and only the kingdom of God 
and his righteousness. 

" But, with all these considerations in view, if God moves 
in a manner which indicates it may be his will to call and 
fix you here, I should not dare to resist. * -i^ * 

" But it is my hope that you will not fail to take hold of 
the end of the rope that is put into your hand, and pull it, 
till we see what is on the other end." 

J)r. Beeclier to CatJiarine. 

"September 8, 1826. 

" Yours of the 6th came duly, and awakened many rec- 
ollections. I was not, however, sick when you was laid in 
my arms, but young, and fresh, and Avell. It was a year 
from that time that I was invaded by sickness. Since then, 
with a constitution part of iron and part of miry clay, I 
have been permitted, for the most part, to preach and labor 
in my vocation, and to see a family of beloved and affec- 
tionate children rise up around me, some of whom, with my 
most beloved Roxana, are not, while most of them remain 
to be my crown and my comfort to this day. I am a man 
of many obligations daily multiplying. 

" I can neither speak of them nor feel them to their ex- 
tent. In your life and prosperity I rejoice, being, after 
Aunt Esther, my nearest contemporary among the ancients 
of the early days. William, Edward, Mary, George, and 
Harriet, all in their time and place, have come to be my 
most affectionate companions and fellow-helpers. 

" If earthly good could fill the souF, mine might be run- 
ning over ; and as it is, my consolations are neither few 
nor small. 

" Your request some time ago that I would come on to 


Hartford I could not find time to answer, and nothing but 
the urgency and goodness of your motive saved you from 
the reaction of vexation and rebuke that you should think 
of such a thing. 

" Events have proved it to be needless, as here they have 
proved it would have been a wanton dereliction of a most 
interesting and pre-eminently important post of duty. 
Every Sabbath many persons come on purpose to hear me, 
brought by curiosity or the invitation or influence of friends, 
who, so far as I have experience, for the most part feel an 
abatement of prejudice, and not unfrequently surprise, ap- 
probation, solicitude, and ultimately conversion. 

"The course I have taken of declining exchanges, and 
being always at home, favors this method of disseminating 
truth and removing false impressions, and is producing, if I 
may judge from all I hear incidentally one way and another, 
* no small stir' among Unitarians, with some doubts where- 
unto the thing may grow ; which doubts the Lord will 
solve, I fully believe, before many years, if I am permitted 
to live and enjoy health, together with my fellow-workers 
here and around. The revival has added about sixty to 
the number for whom we hope, and is now putting on a 
more interesting appearance than ever. Our last inquiry 
meeting was nearly double in numbers to any preceding 





When I commenced in Hanover Street, the first three 
Sabbaths the seats were free to all, and thronged above and 
below. Then they sold the pews, and the fourth Sabbath 
I preached to the Church and congregation specifically. 
The house was not thinned. There was a flood of young 
people of the middle classes that kept the congregation 

The Church numbered only thirty-seven ; but there were 
many excellent young men in it, such as Lambert, Noyes, 
Palmer, Stone, Anderson, and others. Lambert was quick 
to take care of any thing in the house — quick as a cat to see. 
Noyes was a deliberate, deep, correct thinker. Then there 
was a fine set of women. There came in speedily a steady 
stream by letter, so that the house kept full. 

The Church had had charge of their own afiairs, j^rop- 
erty, etc., a year before I came, so that they were used to 
business ; and, for fear it might fall into the hands of Uni- 
tarians, as other Church property had done, they had a 
trust deed, giving it entirely and forever to the Church. It 
was as finely organized a Church as ever trod shoe-leather. 
Extremely wise they were ; I never knew them make a 

When I began among them they were pleased, and more 
than pleased. I remember, one Sabbath, Anderson came 
smiling after sermon, and said with emotion, "You will 
overset us if you are going to preach at this rate !" I never 


shall forget that. I knew nobody then. I took those sub- 
jects that were unquestionable, but solemn, to make them 
tell on the conscience. I began with prudence, because a 
minister, however well known at home, and however wise 
and successful he has been, has to make himself a character 
anew, and find out what material is around him. 

They had a Church prayer meeting, which they conducted 
themselves. I told them they had been able to go alone, 
and take care of Church business, and I had tried every 
where to make the Church do something in the prayer 
meeting, and it was the hardest thing I ever tried ; if I went 
others would . go, and if not, not ; never could make the 
weekly prayer meeting succeed. Hence I told them they 
must take it and sustain it. That went through. Oh, how 
well it went ! 'Twas the best Church I ever saw. 

From the beginning my preaching was attended with 
interest. I could take hold. There was very earnest hear- 
ing in the congregation. I saw it was taking hold. Deep 
solemnity, not mere novelty. I felt in my own soul that 
the word went forth with power. It was a happy season, 
hopeful and auspicious. Not long after Dr. Chaplin began 
to attend. He had been in the habit of listening to a dead, 
feeble fellow on the wrong side, but who didn't do much on 
any side. Shall never forget how Chaplin heard. He was 
of quick, strong feeling, and was wide awake to hearken. 
He made me think of a partridge on a dead limb, watching 
me when I was trying to get a shot at him. He began to 
bring over his family and his patients from Cambridgeport; 
and, as the seriousness increased, he came in with three or 
four carriages — some thirty persons — every Sabbath. 

I kept watch from the first among my hearers. They 
told me of a young lady who had been awakened. I found 
her out, conversed with her, and she was converted. The 

Vol. H.— D 


next was Dea. P 's daughter, and they kept dropping 

in. I tell this that you may know how to begin a revival. 
I always took it by word of mouth first, talking with single 
cases, and praying with them. Went on so till I found 
twelve, by watching and picking them out. I visited them, 
and explained what an inquiry meeting was, and engaged 
them, if one was appointed, to agree to come. I never 
would risk a blank attempt. 

I began, early in this course, to intimate to the Church 
the probability of more interest. I grew in importunity, 
and roused the Church to take hold. At that time many 
ministers did not understand about this. I began to say to 
the Church, " I think there is a work begun. Fire in the 
leaves — not only among us, but in the community." I 
made no attack on Unitarians. I carried the state of warm 
revival feeling I had had in Litchfield for years. I carried 
it in my heart still with great success. They came to hear ; 
there was a great deal of talk about me — great curiosity. 
They would hear, and then run me down — they would 
never go again. But they did come again, till they were 
snared and taken. Many that came to scoff remained to 

Finally, my soul rose to it, and I preached to the Church 
one afternoon, explained to them the state of interest and 
opposition, and what an inquiry meeting was, and that they 
must be ready, and gave out an invitation tq_a long list of 
persons, whom I described. There were fifteen the first 
week, twenty the second, thirty-five the third, and the fourth 
time three hundred. The vestry was filled. Lambert met 
me at the door, when I came to meeting, with his eyes star- 

" It's a mistake ; they've misunderstood, and think it's a 
lecture. You must explain." 


" No," said I, " it's not a mistake ; it's the finger of God !" 

But I made an explanation, and only one person left. 

I parceled out the room to ten individuals, to see every 
person, and make inquiries of their state, and bring back to 
me the report. (Oh, that was glorious ! It lasted all that 
winter.) They brought back reports of awakenings and 
conversions. I talked with forty or fifty myself; and if 
there were special cases, I went and visited. I said just a 
word, or a few — not many. I struck ]\xst according to char- 
acter and state. 

It was really almost amusing to see the rapid changes in 
language and manner I underwent as I passed from one 
class to another. A large portion, on being questioned, 
would reveal their state of mind easily, and, being plain 
cases, would need only plain instruction. They believed 
the Bible, and they believed what I told them as if it w^as 
the Bible — as it was ; and therefore the truth was made 
efiectual by the Holy Spirit as well as if more conversation 
was had. 

Another class would have difficulties. Could not see, re- 
alize, feel any thing. Did not know how to begin. To 
such a course of careful instruction was given. 

Another class would plead inability — can not do any 
thing. Many of these told me their ministers told them so. 
Now I rose into the field of metaphysics, and, instead of be- 
ing simple, I became the philosopher, and began to form my 
language for purposes of discrimination and power. 

Next came the infidel and skeptical class, whom I received 
with courtesy and kindness ; but, after a few suggestions 
calculated to concihate, I told them the subject was one that 
could not be discussed among so many, but that I should be 
happy to see them at my house, and succeeded in that way 
many times. They had the idea that ministers scorned 


them, and that ministers were this, that, and the other. 
But it was necessary to go over with them, and trip up their 
arguments; for, until they were tripped up and crippled, 
logic was of little avail. So I put myself on the highest key 
with them, used the highest language and strongest argu- 
ments, and made them feel that somebody else knew some- 
thing besides themselves ; and then they came, meek as 
lambs, and were easily gained. Sometimes I had all these 
in a string. There were some pretty hard cases occasion- 
ally. There was , a vile fellow, who came. They 

used to have balls, and swap wives, and that sort of thing. 
I treated them politely, and they me, but I never made out 
any thing with them. 

While I was in the inquiry meeting the Church held 
prayer meeting in a room near by, and, as conversions hap- 
pened every night — ten, twenty, thirty — I went in and re- 
ported to them. That was blessed. They were waiting in 
hope and prayer, and I went in to carry glad tidings. 

The Baptists came in to see what was going on, and pret- 
ty soon they began to revive. When I first set up evening 
meetings not a bell tingled ; but, after a few weeks, not a 
bell that didn't tingle. The Unitarians at first scouted 
evening meetings ; but Ware found his people going, and 
set up a meeting. I used to laugh to hear the bells going 
all round. 

In this thing of revivals, you would find all these things 
came by shoicers. Each shower would increase, increase, 
increase ; and when I saw it was about used up by conver- 
sion, I would preach so as to make a new attack on mind 
and conscience, varying with circumstances, and calculated 
to strike home with reference to other classes, and bring a 
new shower. The work never stopped for five years. 

I was once with Dr. Jackson at the Hospital, and went 


the rounds with him. His secretary read from a book in 
which he kept short notes about the patient. After we got 
through he said, " Well, Dr. Beecher, how do you like it ?" 
" Why," said I, " it's almost an exact image of my inquiry 
meeting. I have my book, where I note down my cases 
and their symptoms, just as you do." 

" Well," said he, " you have more fanaticism there." 

" No, sir, not an atom ; but we have God, and the influ- 
ence of his Spirit. But there is no more fanaticism there 
than you have here." 

You see, in the revival, the numbers increased so fast it 
was overwhelming, so I kept a record. 

When the time came for admission of converts to the 
communion, some seventy at once, it produced no small ex- 
citement. Till then all had been the butt of ridicule. The 
enemy had kept whist, except a few outlaws, at first, al- 
though the higher classes — the Cambridge College folks — 
had their spies abroad to see what was going on. 

But, as the work deepened, I told my Church one of two 
things w^ould come : either the revival would burst out 
through all these churches, or else there would be an out- 
break of assault upon us such as could not be conceived. 
It was the latter. In one day after the seventy joined, the 
press belched and bellowed, and all the mud in the streets 
was flying at us. The upper class put mouth to ear, and 
hand to pocket, and said St-hoy ! There was an intense, 
malignant enragement for a time. Showers of lies were 
rained about us every day. The Unitarians, with all their 
principles of toleration, were as really a persecuting power 
while they had the ascendency as ever existed. Wives and 
daughters were forbidden to attend our meetings ; and the 
whole weight of political, literary, and social influence was 
turned against us, and the lash of ridicule laid on without 


" Well," said I to the Church, " I have only one thing to 
say — Don't you let your fears be excited about 7nG. God 
helping, I shall take care of myself But watch your own 
hearts and pray ; watch for the serious, and keep up a sys- 
tem of fervent, eifectual prayer." And they did. 

As for me, I cared for it all no more than for the wind. 
I knew where I was, and what I was doing, and knew that 
I was right. I used to think as I walked the street, " If 
you could know any thing that was vile about me you 
would scream for joy; but you don't." All sorts of vile 
letters were written to me by abandoned people. But all 
this malignity did us no harm. They only rung the bell for 
me. It was two years before the leaders of the Unitarians 
began to change their tactics and treat me gentlemanly. 

My first series of sermons in my own vestry was doctri- 
nal and explanatory. The effect was that many minds were 
satisfied. They cut their way. They were sermons made 
for the purpose, new every one of them, as if I had been 
running bullets in a mould. 

When I revised and preached my six sermons on Intem- 
perance, they took strong hold, and made my audience even 
fuller. My young men were for having them printed. 
Marvin did it well, and a number of editions were sold. 
Then the Tract Society bought the copyright. They offer- 
ed fifty dollars ; but I said they ought to give a hundred, 
and they did. These sermons made a racket all around, 
more than I had any idea they would. They stirred up the 
drinkers and venders all over the city. There was a great 
ebullition of rage among a certain class. And from that 
commenced a series of efforts among my people and others 
in Boston to promote this reform. 




Among the first acquaintances I made in Boston was old 
Dr. ChajDlin, of Groton, father of Dr. Chaplin, of Cambridge- 
port. He hap23ened to be in at Deacon Proctor's soon after 
I came, consulting on the state of matters in his parish. He 
had asked a colleague, and the Church had voted to call 
John Todd ; but the society refused, and employed Unitarian 
ministers from Boston. In fact, the society, with a minority 
of the Church, turned the Church out of doors, and took 
the property. They were backed up by recent legal deci- 
sions, which declared that the parish was the Church.* 

By means of those decisions the Unitarians had been 
playing the mischief with our churches, and I was as eager- 
to get at them as a hound on a fox's track. I advised a 
council. When the council was called a committee was 
appointed, of which I was chairman, to draw up a report. 
This gave me a chance to overhaul the courts. 

Bev. John Todd to Dr. Beecher. 

" Groton, September 22, 182G. 
" "We are dying with impatience to see your report. We 
are sitting on the banks of the rivers of Babylon, harps still 
on the willows, our enemies requiring of us a song, and yet 
we are too heavy to sing. I want to have your report out, 
and that prodigiously, for you must know that all the or- 
thodoxy in this town has been raked out of the ashes ; no 
breath of heaven has yet breathed on them. 

* Mass. Reports, vol. ix., p. 299, and vol. xvi., p. 479, .500. 


"My congregation increases — it is now a great congre- 
gation ; some few are anxious, one or two rejoicing in hope. 
Meeting-house goes forward well. The Unitarians are go- 
ing to have a splendid installation ; a ball in the evening, 

and probably R one of its gayest. They have not a 

single individual who prays in his family, and probably not 
one who prays in his closet. A few of them used to pray 
in the family once a week, but since they have become more 
enlightened they have left that off. We have excommuni- 
cated wz'ne, all the Unitarian members. They howl about 
persecution, and cry John Calvin and Servetus, popery, and 
what not. You would have been amused to see our Church 
meeting on the door-steps by the meeting-house.* It was 
a bright day, and a glorious sight for the sun to look upon. 
Once more, in behalf of this people, and, as I believe, in be- 
half of the churches of this state, c7o. Dr. Beecher, do let us 
have the report immediately." 

Extract from Result — Tlie Rights of Congregational 

"Much has been said about the rights of towns and par- 
ishes, and the effect of ' restoring to the churches the pow- 
er they once enjoyed of electing the minister without the 
concurrence of the people or congregation, or by the aid of 
a council which they might select to sanction their choice ; 
and it is said the people never would consent to be taxed 
for the support of men in whose election they had no voice ;' 
as if the churches now claimed the sole power of electing 
the minister, and there were no alternative but to take it 
from the churches, and give it to towns and parishes. But 
the fact is that the law of 1692, giving equal powers to 
* The doors being locked against them. 


churches, and towns, and parishes in the settlement of a 
minister, had been for eighty-five years the practical rule. 
And the law of 1695, enabling churches to settle a minister, 
in opposition to a vote of the town, had, during all this en- 
tire period, remained a dead letter, and might have been 
unanimously repealed at the time the Constitution was form- 
ed, instead of making it the occasion of taking away wholly 
the rights of the churches, and giving them to towns and 

" We shall never understand the merits of this question, 
or do justice to the memory of our fathers, without going- 
back to the age in which they lived, and considering the 
circumstances in which they were placed. Then doctrinal 
controversies had no being, and the papal Church was the 
mighty power which shook the earth. And this tremen- 
dous usurpation of the rights of God and man had come 
upon the world, as all history testified, by means of a cor- 
rupt priesthood, introduced into the churches by secular 
and ecclesiastical despotisms, established by the usurpation 
of the rights of the churches in the election of their pastors. 
Beholding then, as they did, the anti-Christian apostasy, de- 
riving the nucleus of its terrific power from the usurpation 
of the rights of the churches in the election of their pas- 
tors ; and smarting, as they did, in their recent escape from 
Episcopal despotism ; and coming hither, as they did, to re- 
store the Church of God to her primitive purity and liber- 
ty ; and threatened, as the Reformation still was, by the gi- 
gantic power of Popery, and as even 'New England itself 
was, bounded by French colonies on the north, and south, 
and west — is it wonderful that our fathers should guard the 
door of the Church, and the spiritual rights of the Church, 
from secular intrusion, with great decision ? They regard- 
ed the independence and purity of the Church of God, and 

D 2 


justly, as the only means of restoring civil and religious 
liberty to the world. The question of Church organization, 
rights, and duties was therefore the great question between 
Protestants and Papists, and one of greater moment never 
agitated the world. 

"When, therefore, an event, as unexpected as it was 
alarming, came on our fathers toward the close of the first 
and the beginning of the second generation, viz., a susj^en- 
sion of renewing grace, and the multii^lication of men who, 
though respectable for character, could not join the Church, 
and were impatient of taxation without a voice in the elec- 
tion of their minister, they knew not what to do. To ad- 
mit unrenewed men to the Church they could not ; and at 
that day they would not come in if they might ; and to give 
to secular communities the power of electing church offi- 
cers, especially the pastors of the churches, by a joint vote 
with the Church, would soon subject the Church to the will 
of a secular community, and throw her back into the same 
state from which she had just been delivered by her exile. 
It was the apparent inconsistency and impossibility of per- 
mitting a civil body to vote in the election of a church offi- 
cer which made the resistance of the churches for a long 
time so determined, and held back the churches in Boston 
long after those of the country had compromised in 1692. 
This difficulty was created by insisting upon universal tax- 
ation for the support of ministers, which they did not dare 
to give up, and their refusal of a voice in their election, 
which they did not dare to grant. But as soon as the com- 
promise of 1692 had time to disclose its results, the fears 
of the churches, and the discontents of towns and parishes 
subsided, and a happier state of society never existed imtil 
the late exposition of the Constitution swept away the con- 
ditions of concord, and let out again upon churches and so- 


cieties the occasions of strife and alienation. But even 
now there is no need that churches, and towns, and par- 
ishes should fall out by the way. There is, in fact, no con- 
trariety of rights' or interests between them, and no occa- 
sion for jealousy or strife. The churches have no desire to 
possess the sole power of electing a pastor, nor do they de- 
sire the right given by the law of 1695 of overruling the 
voice of the congregation by the advice of a council. They 
are content with what the law of 1692 gave them — the right 
of a concurrent vote in the election of their pastors; a right 
which the law of 1754 confirmed to them, when it made 
them, by express enactment, what they had been from the 
beginning in fact, corporations known in law, with rights 
of property and of j)astoral election. So much power in 
the churches is indispensable to their existence as religious 
associations ; and towns and societies are as really interest- 
ed in the preservation of the churches as purely religious 
communities, as the churches themselves are. All the great 
interests of society are best promoted by falling into hands 
which are most deeply interested in them, and best ac- 
quainted with them. Physicians should doubtless superin- 
tend the interests of the medical profession, while agricul- 
ture, commerce, and manufactures may be expected to thrive 
best under the auspices of farmers, and merchants, and arti- 
sans. And can any reason be assigned why the dictates 
of common sense should nqt prevail in assigning to men 
professedly pious a precedence, at least, in the concerns of 
religion ? 

" No calamity is greater to a town than the existence of 
a Church in a low state of religious feeling, lax in discipline, 
lax in morals, few in numbers, and inefficient in religious 
enterprise. In such a state, every thing that is good runs 
down, and every thing that is wicked rises. The light in 


such a Church is darkness, and it is great darkness. And 
yet the tendency of giving to secular communities the sole 
power of electing the minister is to multiply such churches, 
as the tendency of the concurrent vote of the churches is to 
maintain their purity and moral vigor for the benefit of 
themselves and of society around them. 

'' It has been objected that the town is bound by law, un- 
der a penalty, to settle a minister, which the Church, if al- 
lowed a concurrent vote, may prevent. But who does not 
know that in eighty-five years' experience such an event 
never haj^pened ; that the law now is nearly, if not quite, 
obsolete ; and, if it were not, that it would only assimilate 
our religious to our civil polity, which is by design not a 
democracy, but a system of checks and balances. The Pres- 
ident of the United States may arrest the passage of a law ; 
so may the Senate or the House of Representatives ; and 
when it is passed the Supreme Court may declare it uncon- 
stitutional. Why, then, should the pure and holy interests 
of religion be thrown into the hands of the unmingled de- 
mocracy of town and parish meetings, without a single check 
or balance to stay the fury of passion or defeat the purposes 
of intrigue, by giving time for piety, atid deliberative wis- 
dom, and cool reflection to operate ? Towns are as really 
benefited by the senatorial influence of the churches in the 
election of pastors, as the churches are by civil aid in the 
support of the Gospel ; and in all cases of collision which 
have come to pass between the towns and the churches, a 
way out has been indicated by the resolution of moral 
forces. Necessity has dictated a compromise which has 
ended in peace." 




Dr, Beecher to Edward. 

"November 21, 1826. 

*' In reference to the main question of your accepting the 
call to Park Street, my mind has come to the same conclu- 
sion with yours. We have waited for Providence to speak, 
and it has spoken. * * * In respect to the other sub- 
ject, of an authorized ministry, baptism, etc., what you do 
know from the Bible on those subjects is enough, without 
ecclesiastical history and combats with windmills in the fog 
of distant ages. 

" No doctrine, and no institution which can not be found 
in the Bible without the aid of ecclesiastical history, can be 
recognized as of divine appointment. And in the Bible no 
diocesan bishop crosses your track, and no instance in which 
it is certain that baptism was performed by immersion, and 
no evidence, if it was, that immersion was the exclusive 
mode. And as to infants, it may suffice that once, by di- 
vine appointment, the seal of His covenant was to be ap- 
plied to them, and that, though the seal has been changed 
under the new dispensation, the application of it to infants 
has not been revoked. 

" I say this, not to confirm your opinion, which does not 
waver, but to express the ground of my own. * * * 
The revival progresses in my congregation, and in all the 
churches. The Church in Park Street is in a fine state ; 
I believe the field before you is white to the harvest. God 
send you soon to reap." 


' Edward to Dr. Beecher. 

"December 4, 1826. 

" I hope that you will be able to preach my ordination 
sermon. As there is no one whom I love better, so there 
is no one I should more desire to have preach for me on so 
interesting an occasion. * * * The committee speak 
of the third Wednesday of December. Were it not for 
one reason I should Avillingly accord. My mind has been 
troubled as to the mode of baptism. * * * j can not 
administer this ordinance until I am satisfied that I can 
conscientiously adhere to the present mode. * * * 

"I have read or heard all the arguments which can sat- 
isfy Dr. Dwight and such men, and I know the common ar- 
guments of our denomination ; but my mind refuses to act, 
and my conscience is unsatisfied until I can survey the field 
so as to satisfy myself" 

Dr. Beecher to Edioard. 

"December 7, 1826. 

" I will take care of the business of the delay of time, if 
need be. I shall not mention to any one the occasion of 
delay — it is unnecessary; and, as publicity could do no 
good and might do harm, I should advise you not to com- 
municate unless quite confidentially. 

" There is no cause for alarm or solicitude. Your pres- 
ent state of mind is occasioned not by any perceived cause 
for change of views, but from a tender conscience, and the 
necessity imposed upon you of grasping, condensing, and 
weighing circumstantial evidence, scattered over a vast field, 
in so short a time and under such serious responsibilities. 
If you were leisurely pursuing the subject it would open 
upon you, and progress to its conclusion without solicitude. 
There is only one thing which you will have occasion to 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1826-7. ' 87 

watch and pray against, and that is the morbid sensibility 
of what may be termed nervous conscience^ by which I 
mean a conscience made preternaturally sensitive and fear- 
ful. This I have reason to believe has w^orried many a man 
till he became a Baptist through excess of conscience. 

"I have no doubt of what is true on the subject, and do 
not expect that you will have any when you shall have had 
time calmly to examine it. But to me it seems as if you 
had better come home and be with me, and supply by ex- 
changes, and attend the inquiry meeting, and a few such 
things, and be ordained w^hen you are ready, especially if 
your mind should be veering to the Baptist side of the 
question. I should be sorry to have it acquire any consid- 
erable momentum that way till I see you. * * * 

" I think you had better meet me at Providence on Tues- 
day of next week, where I shall be on an ordaining council, 
to preach next day the sermon for Waterman — your class- 
mate, I believe. I shall return on Thursday." 

Dr.Beecher to Catharine. 

"February 3,1827 

" * * * I preach every Thursday evening at Cam- 
bridgeport, a mile only this side of the college, in the Bap- 
tist meeting-house. The house is full, and exceedingly si- 
lent and solemn, and there is a revival begun — about a 
dozen inquirers, and five cases of recent and joyful hope. 
* * * Many come down from Cambridge, and some 
from Brighton, Newtown, and Roxbury. 

" In Newtown is a revival begun, and in the region round 
there is a shaking among the dry bones. My eye and heart 
are on Cambridge, where the Congregational Church is low, 
and the college is as you know. But the revival of evan- 
gelical sentiments in the community around the college can 
not be without eifect, and possibly yet the fire may break 


out in the institution itself; for this we wait and pray, and, 
as far as we may, use the means. 

" Channing's sermon* is doing good among the more 
sober -pvLvt of Unitarians. It is quite too much for them. 
They are alarmed ; and when they see what sort of folks it 
is who chuckle and swallow it, it scares them still more, ' for 
these fellows,' they say, 'we know have no religion.' It 
will be reviewed in due time, and in a manner, I trust, which 
will make him wish he had spoken more truth concerning 
the sentiments of others and less concerning his own." 

Mi's. Beeclier to . 

"February 26, '27. 

"The religious interest has been gaining and unwaver- 
ing. Every week brings evidence of the presence of God's 
Spirit, giving efficacy to truth. I say every day to myself, 
' Oh, the glorious Gosjoel of the ever-blessed God ! What 
results are these, and all by means of,this simple, blessed 

*' It has been a season of many tears, and we have wept 
with those that weep, and rejoiced with those that do re- 
joice. It has been a season of wonderful talking. We 
have been obliged to stop our ears and go straight forward, 
lest our minds should be drawn away. And it has been a 
remarkable season for fabricating and Amending lies. The 
revival went on perfectly still till we received seventy-five 
into our Church, and the lecture at Cambridgeport began 
to tell ; since that the commotion has been very great. Al- 
most every minister of every denomination has set uj) even- 
ing meetings, and preach against us without mercy. The 
enemy is helping us wonderfully, particularly Dr. Channing's 
late sermon." 

* At the dedication of the Second Unitfirian Church, New York. — 
Works^ vol. iii., p. 163. 




The year of Dr. Beecher's removal to Boston (1826) was 
signalized by powerful revivals in different parts of the 
land. Among these, none were more remarkable than those 
in central New York, particularly within the bounds of the 
Presbytery of Oneida. From week to week the columns of 
the Boston Recorder and other religious journals contained 
glowing accounts of the wonderful outpourings of the Holy 

Whole towns, in some instances, were said to be convert- 
ed. In other cases, all the professional and leading men 
were gathered in. The mightiest opposers and unbelievers 
were in some places changed to friends, or stirred up to 
wrath. "It does seem," says one (Feb. 21), "that there 
never was a time like the present since Pentecost — such 
wonderful displays of divine grace, such multitudes flocking 
to Christ." 

The Presbytery of Oneida speak of it as " a work of di- 
vine power, of which we have witnessed no parallel in this 
country, and such as we have seldom discovered in the his- 
tory of the Church." 

" In these revivals," they say, " we have discovered no 
instance of the use of artifice to excite mere human feeling 
or to influence the passions. In most cases convictions were 
very pungent and deep. These were the effects of the sim- 
ple word of God, the sword of the Spirit piercing the con- 
science and the heart. The Word has generally been pre- 


sented in plain and pointed language. Boisterous speaking 
and loud declamation have been studiously avoided. Pri- 
vate visiting, faithful discipline, and setting apart days of 
fasting and prayer, have been eminently blessed. The ef- 
fectual, fervent, agonizing prayer of faith has been found the 
immediate forerunner of the operation of divine power." 

The Synod of Albany say that, " in consequence of this 
display of divine power, the theatre has been deserted, the 
tavern sanctified ; blasphemy has been silenced, and infidel- 
ity confounded." Twenty-five congregations had shared in 
the work. Not a town in Oneida county had been passed 
by. N^ot less than twenty-five hundred were subjects of 
hopeful conversion. 

A correspondent from Rome, New York, remarks, " The 
revival commenced here in such a powerful manner that 
our good pastor almost sunk under the labors it called for. 
But God sent us a Mr. Finney to help gather in this pre- 
cious harvest of souls." 

This, perhaps, was the first introduction of a name, since 
so distinguished, to the Eastern public. Rev. C. G. Finney, 
then at the outset of his career, was the most prominent in- 
strument in promoting these revivals. "After he came 
here," says the writer last quoted, " the Spirit of God was 
shed down with a power that nothing seemed able to resist." 

Soon after (Sept. 22), the Recorder states that " the Chris- 
tian Register has employed such strong assertions respect- 
ing Mr, PMnney^^ that the following statement is quoted 
from " a highly respectable paper of Utica :" " The gentle- 
man in question has been in this part of the country ever 
since the days of his childhood; his character has been inti- 
mately known= among us; and the Oneida Presbytery re- 
ceived him a few days since by a unanimous vote." 

Rarely, it is believed, has the Holy Spirit raised up an in- 


strument more formidable than Mr. Finney to the repose 
of the careless in Zion. But no human instrument is with- 
out defect. His boldness and severity appeared to some to 
verge upon rashness and denunciation; pungency assumed 
at times the guise of personality ; agonizing earnestness in 
prayer was scarcely distinguishable in some instances from 
irreverent familiarity. 

" When I first became acquainted with him," writes Rev. 
S. C. Aikin to Dr. Beecher, April 20, 1827, " I think he used 
too frequently the word 'devil,' and harsh expressions; but 
he is greatly reformed, and I apprehend that reading those 
very quotations which you make from Edwards on Revivals 
was the means of his reformation. Until he came to my 
house (at Utica) he had never read the book, and here it was 
frequently in his hands during the revival; also other vol- 
umes of that great writer; and he often spoke of them with 
rapture. Indeed, next to the Bible, no book was read so 
much in my family as Edwards on Revivals and on the Af- 

It was said, also, that certain measures were introduced 
not hitherto of good repute among Presbyterians and Con- 
gregationalists, such as women praying in public, the intru- 
sion of evangelists upon the parishes of settled ministers, and 
other fanatical practices. 

How much truth there may have been at the bottom of 
these charges we shall not undertake to determine. That 
there was some foundation for them seems probable. That 
they were greatly exaggerated seems no less probable. 

As the revival spread, and many laborers entered into the 
field, it is natural to suppose that Mr. Finney would have 
imitators, who, as usual in such cases, would find it easier to 
exaggerate his defects than equal his excellencies. And as 
no one mind could know all that was transpiring in different 


places, so many exceptionable things may have occurred of 
which the principal leaders could have no knowledge, and 
which, when reported in an exaggerated form, they might 
with perfect sincerity deny to have hajopened. 

Perhaps the waters of the river of life, discolored at first 
and made turbid, might, had circumstances been auspicious, 
presently have worked themselves free from sediment with- 
out being checked in their exuberant flow. But no such 
movement is allowed to take its natural course in a world 
hke this. A sleepless adversary not only stirs up the ene- 
mies, but divides the friends of truth, as he can easily do, 
since some are naturally more struck by the faults and oth- 
ers by the excellencies of any measures whatever. 

Few men have been more blessed in revivals than JMr. ISTet- 
tleton. Tet he it was who stood foremost in opposition to 
the movements of Mr. Finney and his colaborers. Mr. Xet- 
tleton was at that time laboring at Jamaica, L. I. In his early 
ministry he had been called to move in the track of Daven- 
port's wild-fire a century previous, and had conceived an al- 
most morbid horror of any thing approaching to fanaticism. 
Tet now he heard that his own name was used at the West 
as sanctioning irregularities he had always disapproved. 

At an earlier period he might have been able to bear the 
inexpressible pain this gave him with comparative equanim- 
ity; but his illness in 1822, as his biographer informs us, 
"gave a shock to his constitution from which it never re- 
covered. For a considerable part of the time during the 
remainder of his life he was exceedingly feeble, and at no 
time was he able to engage in arduous labor."* 

He had himself labored with happy results in the vicinity 
of Saratoga and Albany a few years before, and felt, of 
course, a livelier interest in what was now transpiring. 
* Memoir of Dr. Nettleton, p. 302. 


At length, being fuUy convinced " that irregularities were 
prevalent to such an alarming extent that the character of 
revivals had gone back half a century,"* and, as it would 
seem, unconsciously impelled to a method kindred to that 
employed on the prairies to arrest conflagrations by setting 
a back fire, he accepted an invitation to visit Albany, where, 
in the opening of 1827, he writes to Dr. Beecher, "from two 
to three thousand souls assemble every Sabbath evening to 
hear a feeble, dying man preach." 

When Mr. Finney heard of his presence at Albany, we are 
told, he " set out immediately to go and sit at his feet and 
receive instruction. On arriving there he was disappoint- 
ed and grieved to find Mr. Xettleton very reserved and dis- 
tant, so much so that he was unable to approach him, or to 
enter much into conversation."! 

The disappointment ajDpears to have been mutual. Mr. 
Xettleton's biographer states, " He had two interviews with 
Mr. Finney, hoping that by a free consultation their views 
might be brought to harmonize so far, at least, that they 
might co-operate in promoting the interests of Christ's king- 
dom. But in this he was painfully disappointed. He found 
that Mr. Finney was unwilling to abandon certain measures 
which he had ever resrarded as exceedins^lv calamitous to 
the cause of revivals."^ 

Mr. Xettleton thus refers to this interview in a letter to 
Dr. Beecher of May 10, 1827: "You may think it strange 
that I did not receive him and run the risk of moulding him. 
But I could not do it without sanctioning all that he had 
done, and joining with disorganizers all over the world ; for 
my name was already in their service at the West ; and be- 
sides, if I should not succeed, it would ruin us both, and if I 

* Memoir, p. 260. + Rev. S. C. Aikin to Dr. Beecher, April 20,1827. 

:}: Memoir, p. 238. 


should have succeeded, the disorganizers would say I ha 
spoiled him." 

The truth seems to be that Mr. ISTettleton's mind wa 
made up before he visited Albany. Xor, considering thi 
dissimilarity of the two individuals, is it likely he woulc 
have succeeded, or strange he did not feel inclined to try. 

He himself was old and broken, Mr. Finney 3'ouug and 
robust. The one was reverential, timid, secretive ; the other 
bold, striking, demonstrative. The style of the one was sub- 
dued, that of the other full of eclat. The atTPOsphere most 
congenial to Mr. Xcttlcton was one of hushed, mysterious 
stillness. "I love to talk to you," he would say, "you are 
so stilV Often, in dismissing an assembly, he would say, 
" Go away as still as possible." Mr. Finney is dcsci-ibed by 
an -admirer as " frank, open, giving his opinion without so- 
licitation in a strong style, somewhat dictatorial. lie keeps 
nothing to himself. In this respect he is perfectly at an- 
tipodes with Mr. Xettleton."* 

Mr. Nettleton himself thus forcibly contrasts the two styles 
of operation : " Seven years ago about two thousand souls 
were hopefully born into the kingdom, in this vicinity, with 
comparative stillness. But the times have altered. The 
kingdom of God now cometh with great observation." 

It is not probable that any course of measures Mr. Finney 
could have adopted would have failed to jar more or less 
painfully on Mr. ISTettleton's susceptibilities. Both were 
originals, both had their eccentricities, but their eccentrici- 
ties were of opposite kinds. 

Mr. Xettleton's secrecy and love of stillness, with other 
peculiarities, in his palmier days, were doubtless an excel- 
lence. He resembled, in the conduct of a revival, a skillful 
performer playing with exquisite touch upon some delicate 
* Letter of Kev. S. C. Aikin to Dr. Beecher, April 20, 1827. 


instrument. After his health was broken, however, there 
was a heightening of these tendencies to a species of fastid- 
iousness peculiarly quaint and remarkable. 

If we might presume to illustrate the difference of the two 
men in their styles of labor by a comparison, we should say 
that the latter set snares for sinners, the former rode them 
down in a cavalry charge. The one, being crafty, took them 
with guile ; the other, being violent, took them by force. 

Yielding to this powerful antagonism, and flying apart 
from his younger brother evangelist like an electric pith 
ball, forming his judgment mostly on the testimony of oth- 
ers, and usually those unfavorable to the movement, it is not 
strange Mr. Nettleton should come to regard him as sustain- 
ing to himself the relation of a Davenport to a Whitefield, 
and exclaim, " Whoever has made himself acquainted with 
the state of things in New England near the close of the re- 
vival in the days of Whitefield can not but weep over its 
likeness to the present." 

It was in this state of mind that, January 2, 1827, he com- 
posed a long and elaborate letter to Dr. Beecher, afterward 
revised and enlarged, and addressed to Rev. Mr. Aikin. In 
this very able composition, which our limits forbid us to 
pubhsh,* he weaves together with surprising skill the mass 
of rumors and reports he had accumulated from various 
sources, in a texture so fine that omniscience only could 
draw the line between exactness and exaggeration, and 
winds up with the irresistible appeal, " Dr. Beecher must 
write to these men. Somebody must speak, and igIio^ who, 
I ask, shall do it, if not some one from New England ?" 

Now it is by no means strange that the effect of such an 
appeal upon Dr. Beecher's mind should be deep. It was 

* The reader will find the chief portions in the Memoir of Mr. Nettle- 
ton, p. 238-249. 


just the view of the subject calculated to strike his mind as 
both probable and alarming. As the adversary had done 
such things in other days, so he might be expected to at- 
tempt them now. With Mr. Finney he was personally un- 
acquainted; with Mr. Nettleton he had been intimate for 
years, and cherished an exalted opinion of his wisdom. If 
but a moiety of that resume of reports was true, too well he 
could anticipate the comments of the Unitarian press,"* and 
the bearing of the whole on that revival in which all his en- 
ergies were absorbed. 

So averse, however, was he to any thing that threatened 
controversy among the friends of revivals, that it was not 
till after careful inquiry and consultation with Dr. Porter, 
Dr. Woods, Professor Stuart, and others, that at last he com- 
posed his well-known letter to Messrs. Beman and Finney.f 

" My object in that letter," he writes soon after to Kev. 
J. Frost, " was to justify them against the opposition of 
formalists and the haters of revivals of religion, and to sug- 
gest emendations where to me it seemed they might be 
needed, and yet without checking the ardor, and boldness, 
and moral momentum with which I did not doubt Brother 
Finney was moving on." 

A single sentence at the close of the same letter shows 
his conviction of what was indispensable to a mutual under- 
standing : " Tliis^ hoviever^ makes it necessary that Brother 
Finney should come upon groimd on which we can sustain 

* The Examiner for May and June, 1827, considers it profane to call 
the New York revival a work of God; describes Mr. Finney as " the prin- 
cipal instigator of these disturbances," "distinguished for an inflamma- 
tory or rather ferocious style of preaching ;" speaks of "Beman, another 
of these incendiaries," and represents them as shaking their fists in peo- 
ple's faces, and saying, "You lie ! You are going to hell!" etc., etc. 

t See Appendix A. 


him^ for ice can not justify his faults for the sake of his 

A coj^y of the letter to Messrs. Beman and Finney was 
sent to Mr. Nettleton, accompanied by a short letter, in 
which, says Dr. Beecher, "I poured out my feelings, and 
thoughts, and fears in respect to principles and prospective 
evils in such language as the occasion inspired and my hab- 
its of confidential intercourse with Brother Nettleton justi- 

It seems that Mr. Nettleton furnished an extract of this 
latter epistle to the moderator of the Presbytery of Troy, 
who loaned it to a gentleman to read and show to others, 
and in this manner it soon found its way to the press in the 
form of a hand-bill. 

It is remarkable that so shrewd a judge of human nature 
as Mr. Nettleton should not have foreseen the probability 
of some such result. We will not assert that, with Dr. 
Beecher's elaborate effort at conciliation before him, he de- 
liberately planned to defeat it ; but, if such had been his 
design, he could scarce have accomplished it more effectual- 
ly. " I regret," he writes, " the surreptitious publication 
of that letter of yours to me. * * * Yet I am not sure 
but we should all have kept silence unless you had been 
made to speak, contrary to your own and the wishes of your 

The effect of the letter, observes Dr. Beecher shortly aft- 
er, " is as if a man should throw a firebrand on a train of 
powder which another was attempting to guard against ig- 
nition." The letter to Messrs. Beman and Finney remained 
unanswered, but from the published extract he heard in ev- 
ery direction. In vain he protested against its publication 
as " an outrageous violation of authorized confidence for 
which neither Brother Ncttleton nor myself are accounta- 

VoL. II.— E 


ble." The " fire was in the leaves," and a public contro- 
versy seemed inevitable. 

" Had it come," wrote Mr. Gillet, of Rome, " from an ob- 
scure minister, I should have set him down as an enemy of 
revivals. * * * What I lament is that it strengthens 
the hands of opjDOsers ; — published in the first number of 
a Universalist paper at Utica !" 

"There is one admonition contained in his letter," said 
the Christian Examiner, " which we can adopt, though it is 
expressed too strongly, and betrays something too much like 
a panic, viz., 'We are on the confines of universal misrule 
and moral desolation, and no time is to be lost in forestall- 
ing and holding public sentiment correctly, before the mass 
shall be put in motion by fierce winds before which nothing 
can stand, and behind which, when they have swept over 
the land, nothing will remain.' " 

In his reply to Mr. Gillet, Dr. Beecher says, " I am not 
surprised that the letter should have pained you or given 
the enemy a momentary exultation ; for though it contains 
nothing to which I do not believe the earnest attention of 
ministers should be called, it by no means contains all that 
ought to have been said on that subject by a friend of revi- 
vals, who first spoke out and called the attention of the 
public to the subject ; nor is the language such as I should 
have selected in any other than an unrestrained confidential 
communication with one with whom, on such subjects, I 
have been long in habits of the most unreserved intimacy. 

" These circumstances ought to be known, though it is 
nearly impossible they should be, to all who have read my 
letter ; for, though it contains the truth in reference to my 
apprehensions concerning certain revivals, it by no means 
contains the whole truth, and may, therefore, make an erro- 
neous impression. But the thing I most deprecate is its 


tendency to get up a controversy on the subject, and pro- 
duce a needless collision, which I believe may be superseded 
by correspondence and Christian conference." 

But these hopes of conciliation gradually faded. The 
Western brethren, Dr. Beecher felt, had not met his over- 
tures in the spirit in which he had offered them. Particu- 
larly the absence of any reply from Messrs. Beman and Fin- 
ney operated unfavorably upon his feelings in regard to 
them. " I did expect," he wrote at the time, " that Broth- 
er Beman or Brother Finney would have written to me, and 
that the correspondence would have softened down into mu- 
tual explanation," etc. 

In another letter, a little later, he says, " I am certain, for 
I have tried it for more than one whole year thoroughly, as 
my correspondence v/ill show, if called for, that no kindness 
and magnanimity on our part will be appreciated." 

How this silence was probably occasioned we have seen, 
Natural enough, and excusable under the circumstances, it 
was unfortunate, since it left Mr. Nettleton to be the chan- 
nel through which impressions respecting them and their 
measures should mainly be communicated to Dr. Beecher's 
mind, tinged in their passage by the j)Owerful idiosyncrasy 
of the medium. 

And when, in addition to this, they seemed to attack Mr. 
l!^ettleton, and were understood to be 'combining "to de- 
stroy or neutralize his influence," nothing farther was neces- 
sary to commit Dr. Beecher unreservedly in his defense, and 
in the support of his views. 

In short, Mr. Xettleton was clearly master of the position, 
and, for the space of a year, all that mortal man could do to 
create and intensify a panic, his letters show was done by 
one so weak and faint as to be continually on the point of 
retirinof from the field. 


" Take all possible care of your health," writes Dr. Beech- 
er (March 14, 1827), "and also of your own spirit, that no 
j)rovocation shall produce in word or look an asperity w^hich 
we so much deplore in some. You will need to watch and 
pray. Especially be careful about letting the war get up as 
between young men and old ministers ; for, brother, it will 
sound invidiously to young ears, and the young have the ad- 
vantage of the old in respect to action and long life. We 
must save young men and not smite them. I mean, we must 
take care not to throw young men into the opposite scale." 

" Every word of your excellent letter," replies Mr. Nettle- 
ton, " met my views and feelings. It certainly requires great 
patience to manage a denouncing spirit. But, if you will 
pardon the expression, I have found that the devil's back- 
bone is prodigiously stiif ever since I have been in the min- 
istry, so far as the introduction of similar measures is con- 
cerned, and I never have felt so strong a desire to write a 
history of my own experience on the subject as of late. 
But there is no one subject on which mankind have so little 
wit, and which it would be so difficult to make them under- 
stand, most ministers themselves not excepted." 

Thus matters went on until, at length, said Dr. Beecher, 
in conversation on the subject, "the tide of public senti- 
ment we raised against their measures began to make them 
feel. Beman came on to Boston to proj)ose a convention 
for purposes of explanation. I fell in with it ; sat down and 
wrote to ten or a dozen others to go by all means. We 
met at New Lebanon,* and discussed nine days. It was a 

* The following members composed the Convention, which convened 
July 18, 1827 : A. S. Norton, D.D., Clinton, N. Y. ; Rev. Moses Gillet, 
Rome, N. Y. ; Rev. N. S. S. Beman, Troy, N. Y. ; D. C. Lansing, D.D., 
Auburn, N.Y. ; Rev. J. Frost, Whitesboro', N. Y. ; Rev. W. R. Weeks, 
Paris, N. Y, ; Rev. H. Smith, Camden, N. Y. ; Rev. C. G. Finney, Onci- 


battle royal, though there was no venom, no breaking friend- 
ship. It was not a question of orthodoxy, nor of the reality 
of the revivals, but of wrong measures. They sought to ex- 
plain, or deny what we had heard on credible testimony. 
We were not convinced. We stood out against them as 
having: been disturbers of the churches. 

I recollect that Hawes at one time was quite carried away 
with some of their statements. " Well," said he, " I pro- 
fess I am satisfied." " Stop," said I, " Brother Hawes, don't 
be in a hurry and decide too quickly. Gentlemen," said I, 
" you need not think to catch old birds with chaff; it may 
be true that you don't go personally into ministers' parishes ; 
but, in the noise and excitement, one and another of the peo- 
ple in the towns want you to come and preach, and you are 
mighty reserved, and say, ' Ah no, we can not come unless 
ministers invite us,' and so you send them back like hounds 
to compel them to call you." 

Said I, " Finney, I know your plan, and you know I do ; 
you mean to come into Connecticut and carry a streak of 
fire to Boston. But if you attempt it, as the Lord liveth, 
I'll meet you at the State line, and call out all the artillery- 
men, and fight every inch of the way to Boston, and then 
I'll fight you there." 

So far as the prevention of controversy was concerned, 

da Co., N. Y. ; L. Beecher, D.D., Boston, Mass. ; H. Humphrey, D.D., 
Amherst College, Mass. ; Rev, A. Nettleton, Connecticut ; Rev. J. Ed- 
wards, Andover, Mass. ; Rev. J. Hawes, Hartford, Conn. ; Rev. C. Ten- 
ney, Wethersfield, Conn. ; Rev, G. W. Gale, Oneida, N. Y. ; Rev. S. 
Churchill, Oneida, N. Y. 

A careful perusal of the minutes of this Convention has satisfied us that 
there was no radical difference of views between the Western brethren and 
those from New England ; and that, but for the influence of one individ- 
ual, the same settlement might have been made then and there which was 
afterward effected at Philadelphia. 


this Convention was a failure. The Western brethren were 
indignant at the course pursued by Mr. Nettleton. Their 
statements on the subject were construed by him into a 
personal attack. He became increasingly urgent with Dr. 
Beecher to come out openly in his support. " We think," 
he writes, October 29, 1827, "to forestall public opinion by 
silent measures, but this is giving them all the advantage 
they want. We can correspond with our friends who are 
already firm and need no correction, but this does not touch 
the evil. It is the irregulars themselves, and the ignoMle 
vulgus^ and the whole host of insurgents, that need to know 
our opinion and our determination to make a firm and de- 
cided stand against these measures. A few letters like that 
of Dr. Porter would soon turn to flight the armies of the 
aliens. It is not mere argument, but names, that will turn 
the current against the ragamuftins." * * * 

" I do think that you and Brother Edwards ought to pub- 
lish something in the jDapers — your views of Mr. Finney's 
sermon and of my ' Remarks' thereon, and of my efforts. 
To prevent the effect of my ' Remarks,' and to hold public 
sentiment, and to turn it back, the old story is stirring 
harder than ever at the West, that ' Mr. Nettleton has re- 
canted ;' that he ' has made a humble and Christian confes.- 
sion.' I have received a number of letters from clergymen 
on the subject. * * * But I intend to remain silent un- 
til somebody speaks to divert public attention from me to 
the subject itself." * * * 

*' Letters have been circulated in Philadelphia and at the 
South saying that all the ministers of this region agree with 
Mr. Finney, and that Mr. Nettleton's Remarks have done 
himself more harm than they have Mr. Finney. Unless 
something is published, thousands will believe it." 

Under date of December 29th he writes: "J never was 


attacked on so many aicJcward points. Silence is construed 
into sullenness, unwillingness to be corrected, envy, etc. ; 
and so many good people are made to believe." * * * 

" Your letters are a great comfort to me, but I do not de- 
serve a hundredth part of what you say. I understand it 
as a defense of the cause of revivals^ and I wish nothing 

By these and similar appeals Dr. Beecher was prevailed 
on to publish his letter, composed a year before, to Messrs. 
Beman and Finney.* Events took place, however, soon after 
this, which led to an auspicious settlement. 

" In the spring of 1828," said Dr. Beecher, in conversation 
on the subject, " I found out that Mr. Finney's friends were 
laying their plans to make an impression on the General 
Assembly, that held its session in Philadelphia, and to get 
one of their men in Mr. Skinner's place. Skinner's Church 
had just asked me to preach for them, and I wrote back that 
I would supply, if they wished, while the Assembly was in 
session. That blocked somebody's wheels; it blocked a 
good many wheels. I staid till the close, when Beman 
preached half a day. That defeated their plans. They 

" But, while I was there, I prepared the way for a settle- 
ment. I consulted leading men on all hands whether the 
controversy might not be suspended where it was. I saw 
that if the war could only stop they would grow cool. I 
proposed it to Beman and others, and they aj^proved, and 
so it was settled. 

" We drew up and published the following statement : 

* By a singular coincidence, it happened tliat a private letter of the 
same date, to the editor of the Christian Spectator, was subsequently, in 
a surreptitious manner, given to the world, in the form of an ''Address 
to the Ministers and Churches of Connecticut." 


" The subscribers, having had opportunity for free conver- 
sation on certain subjects pertaining to revivals of religion, 
concerning which we have differed, are of opinion that the 
general interests of religion would not be promoted by any 
farther publications on those subjects, or personal discus- 
sions, and we do hereby engage to cease from all pubHca- 
tions, correspondences, conversations, and conduct design- 
ed or calculated to keep those subjects before the public 
mind, and that, so far as our influence may avail, we will 
exert it to induce our friends on either side to do the 

" The eifect of this," continued Dr. Beecher, " was good. 
The excesses we had complained of, though real, were effer- 
vescent and evanescent. The men were beginning to be 
ashamed of them themselves. They soon sobered down. I 
wrote the same day to Nettleton, and explained the whole 
matter to him." 

Dr. Beecher to Mr. JVettleton, 

"Philadelphia, May 28, 1828. 

" I could not answer your expectations in replying to the 
late publications, for want both of time and of documents, 
such as your letter just received contains. Besides, I could 
not feel so certain that it was best, as I wish always to do in 
any measure which is to affect deeply the Church of God. 
I concluded, at length, to come on to N'ew York and to this 
place, and to confer with our friends, and with brethren on 
the other side, to see if we could find a stopping-place, and 
if not, to make all due preparation for publication. 

" I have conferred with Dr. Porter, of Andover, our breth- 
ren Wisner, Greene, Skinner, and my son, with Brother 
Hawes, Mr. Holmes, of ISTew Bedford, Dr. Richards, Mr. 
Eddy, of Canandaigua, with Mr. Peters, Dr. Rice, and many 


others, and the opinion of every one is to forbear farther 
publication, if possible. 

" 1. Because, in respect to yourself, there is no need of it, 
no impression injurious to you having been made in New 
England, or to the west of Oneida county, and none in the 
Middle and Southern or Western States — none but among 
partisans on the other side. 

" 2. An attempt to rectify all their mistakes in your defense 
would iujure you by keeping you before the public eye in a 
personal collision with Mr. Finney. We thought that your 
character and high standing in the Church is too important 
to be brought down into a protracted controversy of this 

" 3. That controversy so much personal, and hinging so 
much on an individual, would help the wrong by giving no- 
toriety, and enlisting public curiosity, and, if we press the 
subject beyond a certain time and point, public sympathy. 

" 4. It would tend to keep up a party in the Church, who, 
identified with their leader, might in self-defense be embod- 
ied to defend him, and might introduce a controversy into 
the Presbyterian Church, and by dividing ecclesiastical ju- 
dicatures, involve and keep the whole Church in a blaze. 
We thought the best way to disarm our brethren of a dan- 
gerous power in the Church is to let them alone, and that 
every tub should be left to stand on its own bottom. 

" 5. We did deprecate the publication to the world of so 
many and such extravagant things as must come out should 
we enter on the work of proof; and there is no medium be- 
tween immediate and entire silence and a thorough develop- 
ment, which, though it would justify us in our opposition, 
would, as much as it injured them, subtract from the cause, 
provided they will now stop. We wished to save them 
^iheir character for the Church as well as ours. 



" 6. "We could not but feel, from all that is past, that there 
can be no telling what sort of contrary testimony might on 
the other side be adduced to blast our own or their own 
character, to distract public sentiment, and to enable enemies 
to say that we are all liars. We thought that the general 
cause could not but be injured by such a contest. I do not 
say we anticipated willful falsehood, but we could not fail to 
apprehend that which would in reality be falsehood. 

" 7. We were inclined to believe that those brethren are 
tired of the controversy, and are now willing to get out of 
it if they can have a fair opportunity, and that not a few 
neutrals are urging them. 

" 8. We know that the jDublic are becoming tired of the 
•controversy, and that public sentiment is against publication. 

" 9. We considered it utterly impossible ever to come to 
a settlement by public discussion or private explanation, and 
that our own views on both sides being before the public, it 
was best to stop, and let the truth have its weight. 

" 10. They have denied so much in theory, and denied so 
many facts as being wrong and slanderous, that they stand 
bound before the public to good behavior in time to come, 
which must operate so far to restrain as to prevent the rep- 
etition, we hoj^e, of any such excesses as will be as alarming 
as the past. 

"11. There is such an amount of truth and j^ower in the 
preaching of Mr. Finney, and so great an amount of good 
hopefully done, that if he can be so far restrained as that he 
shall do more good than evil, then it would be dangerous to 
oppose him, lest at length we might be found to fight against 
God ; for, though some revivals may be so badly managed 
as to be worse than none, there may, to a certain extent, be 
great imperfections in them, and yet they be, on the whole, 
blessingjs to the Church. 


"12. "We thought that the publication of Dr. Richards 
and others, though it does not include your name, is, on the 
whole, about a fair offset to their late publications, and that 
this is the best time we can ever expect to have in which to 
stop. We therefore, who were present in the city, have, in 
accordance with the general opinion of our friends above 
named that farther publication should cease, signed with 
the brethren on the other side the document which you will 
see in the Philadelphian. 

" You probably will feel as if they will take advantage of 
it ; but I am fearless on that point, believing that the course 
is right in the sight of God, best for your own peace and 
health, and altogether better than to have yon and Finney 
coupled together, as you would be by a public discussion. 

*' Rest assured that your reputation does not and will not 
suffer. I wish to suggest to you the propriety, since your 
health seems to deny much revival enterprise, that you 
should move round among the theological seminaries, spend- 
ing time enough near one and another in succession to im- 
bue the young men with correct views. Such a course 
would be invaluable in its influence, and enable you yet to 
do more good by imparting the result of your observations 
and experience, than you did in the revivals where you ob- 
tained them. 

" I commend this thought earnestly to your attention ; it 
will do more than ten years of controversy, without the pos- 
sibility of an answer. Dear Brother, be of good cheer ; take 
care of your precious life, and live as long as you can, to 
bless, as you have done eminently, the Church and the 

" This letter, however," continued Dr. Beecher, " did not 
satisfy Nettleton. He wanted the battle to go on. He was 


one of those that never can give up their own will. He got 
the notion that the New Haven brethren were currying fa- 
vor with Finney and Beman, and their followers, to secure 
patronage for the Christian Spectator. He felt as though 
he had fought a battle, and we had not duly apj^reciated it. 
That was the real origin of all his bitterness against Taylor. 

"But the settlement worked well on the whole. The 
fact that after so much feeling and such deep excitement so 
haj^py an arrangement was made, shows real Christian j^rin- 
ciple in all concerned. It might, in former times, have led to 
martyrdom. There was real evil — there was real good on 
both sides. Nobody was finally injured. The evil was cor- 
rected ; the good was saved. 

" In about two years after that we had Mr. Finney in 
Boston. Some of our deacons wanted him to come, and 
Wisner had heard him preach somewhere. He did his best, 
and Wisner was much pleased. Somebody had written to 
him on the subject, and about the same time Catharine saw 
him, and he said to her, ' Your father vowed solemnly at the 
New Lebanon Convention he would fight me if I came to 
Boston, and I shall never go there till he asks me.' So we 
wrote and invited him, and he came (August, 1831) and did 
very well." 




Mo7n Mrs. H. B. Stoive. 

" My deae Brothee, — The looking over of father's let- 
ters in the period of his Boston life brings forcibly to my 
mind many recollections. At this time I was more with him, 
and associated in companionship of thought and feeling for 
a longer period, than any other of my experience, and it was 
the most active, glowing, and successful period of his life. 
It was the high noon of his manhood, the flood-tide of his 
powers ; and a combination of circumstances in the history 
of Massachusetts brought him in to labor there just as a 
whole generation were on the return-wave of a great moral 
reaction. The strict theocracy founded by the Puritans in 
the State of Massachusetts had striven by all the ingenuity 
of legislation and institution to impress the Calvinistic seal 
indelibly on all the future generations of Massachusetts, so 
that no man of other opinions should minister in the Church 
or bear office in the state. As in Connecticut, so in Massa- 
chusetts, a reaction had come in and forced open the doors 
of the state, and rent the sole power from the clergy ; but 
the revolution had gone deeper and farther, and extended 
to ideas and theologies. 

" A system of protest and denial arose, which owed its vi- 
tality less to the assertion of new propositions than to the 
denial of old ones. Its life consisted more in demolition 
than in construction, and its followers were more certain as 
to what they did not than what they did believe. 


" This party, called for convenience Unitarian, was, in fact, 
a whole generation in the process of reaction, and consisted 
of persons of the most diverse and oj^posite shades of opin- 
ion, united only in the profession of not believing Calvinism 
as taught by the original founders of Massachusetts. 

" When Dr. Beecher came to Boston, Calvinism or ortho- 
doxy was the despised and persecuted form of faith. It was 
the dethroned royal family wandering like a permitted men- 
dicant in the city where once it had held court, and Unita- 
rianism reigned in its stead. 

" All the literary men of Massachusetts were Unitarian. 
All the trustees and professors of Harvard College were 
Unitarians. All the elite of wealth and fashion crowded 
Unitarian churches. The judges on the bench were Unita- 
rian, giving decisions by which the peculiar features of 
church organization, so carefully ordained by the Pilgrim 
fathers, had been nullified. The Church, as consisting, ac- 
cording to their belief, in regenerate people, had been ig- 
nored, and all the power had j^assed into the hands of the 
congregation. This power had been used by the majorities 
to settle ministers of the fashionable and reigning type in 
many of the towns of Eastern Massachusetts. The domi- 
nant majority entered at once into possession of churches 
and church property, leaving the orthodox minority to go 
out into school-houses or town halls, and build their churches 
as best they could. Old foundations, established by the Pil- 
grim fathers for the perpetuation and teaching of their own 
views in theology, were seized upon and appropriated to the 
support of opposing views. A fund given for preaching an 
annual lecture on the Trinity was employed for preaching 
an annual attack upon it, and the Ilollis professorship of di- 
vinity at Cambridge was employed for the furnishing of a 
class of ministers whose sole distinctive idea was declared 
warfare with the ideas and intentions of the donor. 


" So bitter and so strong had been the reaction of a whole 
generation against the bands too stringent of their fathers — 
such the impulse with which they broke from the cords with 
which their ancestors sought to bind them forever. But 
in every such surge of society, however confident and over- 
bearing, there lies the element of a counter reaction, and 
when Dr. Beecher came to Boston this element had already 
begun to assert itself. 

" The human mind can not long subsist merely on protest 
and denial. Enthusiasm can not long be kept up simply by 
not believing. By a power as inevitable as gravitation, the 
human soul is always tending, after every such era of revo- 
lutionary free inquiry, to fall back exhausted into the kindly 
arms of a positive belief. He who teaches a positive and 
definite faith, which he believes with undoubting certainty 
in every part, has therefore an infinite advantage in any 
such crisis of opinions as that which Dr. Beecher found in 

" He had not been there many weeks before every leisure 
hour was beset by people who came with earnest intention 
to express to him those various phases of weary, restless, 
wandering desire and aspiration projDer to an earnest peo- 
ple whose traditional faith has been broken up, but who 
have not outlived the necessity of definite and settled be- 
lief. From minds of every class, in every circle of society, 
the most fashionable and the most obscure, these inquirers 
were constantly coming with every imaginable theological 
problem, from the inspiration of the Bible out through all 
the minutest ramifications of doctrinal opinion or personal 
religious experience. There seemed to be an incessant ring- 
ing of the door-bell from morning till night. Inquirers and 
deputations came from many of the neighboring towns, 
spreading before him the cares and wants of feeble church- 


es, exiled from their places of worship and deprived of their 
church property by the triumphant majority, who despised 
the faith of their fathers. 

" The effect of all this on my father's mind was to keep 
him at a white heat of enthusiasm. Within a stone's throw 
of our door was the old Copp's Hill burying-ground, where 
rested the bones of the Puritan founders ; and, though not 
a man ordinarily given to sentiment or to visiting of graves, 
we were never left to forget in any prayer of his that the 
bones of our fathers were before our door. 

"His family prayers at this period, departing from the 
customary forms of unexcited hours, became often upheav- 
ings of passionate emotion such as I shall never forget. 
' Come, Lord Jesus,' he would say, ' here where the bones 
of the fathers rest, here where the crown has been torn from 
thy brow, come and recall thy wandering children. Behold 
thy flock scattered on the mountain — "these sheep, what 
have they done ?" Gather them, gather them, O good Shep- 
herd, for their feet stumble upon the dark mountains.' 

" My father's prayers in ordinary moods and those under 
excitement were as different as can be conceived, and there 
was a power sometimes in these daily supplications which 
seemed to shake our very souls. What was to be remarked 
of them was those direct and earnest addresses to the Savior 
and to the Holy Spirit, which, notwithstanding the orthodox 
belief of Congregationalists, are seldom heard except in the 
worship of the old liturgic churches. In hours of earnest 
excitement his petitions to the different persons of the 
Trinity would remind one of those antique, fervid invoca- 
tions of the earlier Church. It must not be inferred from 
this that his air and manner was continually solemn. On 
the contrary, that hilarious cheerfulness which was charac- 
teristic of him was never more manifest ; and it seemed per- 


fectly wonderful, with bis public labors, with what unfailing 
spring and vivacity, and with what a flow of ready sympa- 
thy he would converse with every one who came near him 
at any hour of day or night. 

" He kept a load of sand in his cellar, to which he would 
run at odd intervals and shovel vigorously, throwing it 
from one side the cellar to the other, on his favorite theory 
of working off nervous excitement through the muscles, and 
his wood-pile and wood-saw were inestimable means to the 
same end. He had also, in the back yard, parallel bars, a 
single bar, ladder, and other simple gymnastic apparatus, 
where he would sometimes astonish his ministerial visitors 
by climbmg ropes hand over hand, whirling over on the sin- 
gle bar, lifting weights, and performing other athletic feats, 
in which he took for the time as much apparent delight and 
pride as in any of his intellectual exertions. 

" His care of what he called regimen, diet, sleep, exercise, 
etc., went on with all his other cares without seeming to in- 
terrupt them. He seemed to navigate his body, as an acute 
mariner would work his shij) through a difficult channel, 
with his eye intent on every spar and rope, each sail kept 
trimmed with the nicest adjustment. The harsh climate of 
Boston, with its east winds, had long been famous for mak- 
ing all its literary workers dyspeptics ; yet it was in this 
climate that his work lay ; here he must conquer, notwith- 
standing he brought with him his life's disease. So careful 
was he of atmospheric influences upon the sensitive surface 
of the body, that he would often undress and dress again 
completely three or four times a day, to meet various 
changes of the mutable Boston weather. 

" He had a difierent relay of garments for every turn of 
the weather-cock, till it stood at that harsh, dire east, which 
necessitated both flannels and a leathern jacket to keep out 
the chill and keep in the vital warmth. 


" His theological and pastoral discussions with ministers 
and inquirers who thronged upon him were always mingled 
with abundant cautions and prescriptions in regard to the 
care of health, with minute directions drawn from his own 
personal experience. 

" The time that he spent in actual preparation for a pub- 
lic effort was generally not long. If he was to preach in the 
evening he was to be seen all day talking with whoever 
would talk, accessible to all, full of every body's affairs, 
business, and burdens, till an hour or two before the time, 
when he would rush up into his study (which he always 
preferred should be the topmost room of the house), and, 
throwing off his coat, after a swing or two with the dumb- 
bells to settle the balance of his muscles, he would sit down 
and dash ahead, making quantities of hieroglyphic notes on 
small, stubbed bits of paper, about as big as the palm of his 
hand. The bells would begin to ring, and still he would 
write. They would toll loud and long, and his wife would 
say ' he will certainly be late,' and then would be running 
up and down stairs of messengers to see that he was finish- 
ed, till, just as the last stroke of the bell was dying away, 
he would emerge from the study with his coat very much 
awry, come down the stairs like a hurricane, stand impa- 
tiently protesting while female hands that ever lay in wait 
adjusted his cravat and settled his coat collar, calling loudly 
the while for a pin to fasten together the stubbed little bits 
of paper aforesaid, which being duly dropped into the crown 
of his hat, and hooking wife or daughter like a satchel on 
his arm, away he would start on such a race through the 
streets as left neither brain nor breath till the church was 
gained. Then came the process of getting in through 
crowded aisles, wedged up with fieads, the bustle, and stir, 
and hush to look at him, as, with a matter-of-fact, business- 


like push; he elbowed his way through them and up the pul- 
pit stairs. 

" As to his preaching, it consisted invariably of two parts : 
first, careful statement and argument addressed purely to 
the understanding, and, second, a passionate and direct ap- 
peal, designed to urge his audience to some immediate prac- 
tical result. The first part was often as dry, condensed, and 
clear as a series of mathematical axioms. If preaching upon 
a doctrine, he commenced by the most clear and carefnlly- 
worded statement of what it was not and what it was, be- 
fore attempting to prove or disprove. It very often hap- 
pened that these simple statements disarmed prejudice and 
removed antipathy, and, to a people somewhat predisposed 
to return to the faith of their fathers if they could see their 
way, rendered the succeeding argument almost needless. I 
remember the introductory statement of a sermon on the 
doctrine of total depravity, in which, after telling much that 
it did not include, he reduced it simply to this proposition : 
That men by nature do not love God supremely^ and their 
neighbor as themselves. 

" ' All that is cultivated in intellect and refined in taste, 
much that is honorable in feeling and amiable in social rela- 
tions,' he said, ' we concede. The temple is beautiful, but 
it is a temple in ruins ; the divinity has departed, and the 
fire on the altar is extinct.' 

" After this followed the scriptural argument, on which 
he always and unhesitatingly relied, without the shadow of 
a doubt that we do have, in our English translation, the au- 
thoritative, inspired declarations of God. Then came the 
answering of objections. Here he was conversational, 
sprightly, acute, and often drew the laugh by the involun- 
tary suddenness and aptness of his replies and illustrations. 
Easv and colloquial in his dialect, he carried liis audience 


with bim through this part. They were stirred up and en- 
livened, and, as a plain countryman once said, ' he says it so 
that you feel you could have said it all yourself.' Last of 
all came what he considered the heart of his discourse — the 
application. A sermon that did not induce any body to do 
any thing he considered a sermon thrown away. The ob- 
ject of preaching, in his view, was not merely to enlighten 
the understanding, or even to induce pleasing and devout 
contemplation, but to make people set about a thorough 
change of heart and life. These closing portions of his ser- 
mons were the peculiarity of his preaching. He warned, he 
entreated, he pleaded, urging now this motive and now that, 
talking as if his audience were one individual, whom he 
'niust^ before he left the pulpit, persuade to take a certain 
step. 'If these things are so,' he would say, 'you, my friend, 
have neglected this matter too long. Are you not con- 
vinced that you ought to do something now, to-night, this 
moment ? Do you say, " What shall I do ?" One thing I 
will tell you, that if you do not do something more than you 
have, you will be lost. TJiat you acknowledge, do you not ?' 
Then, changing the tone of his voice to the lowest key of 
personal conversation, he would say, 'Now there is one 
thing you can do : you can resolve before God, from this 
moment, that the salvation of your soul shall be your first 
object, and that, whatever it may mean to be a Christian, 
you will not rest till you are one. You can do that. Are 
you not conscious that you can ? I put it to you — will you 
do it? You can not refuse without periling your salvation. 
When you leave this place to-night you can avoid distract- 
ing conversation. You can preserve this resolve as care- 
fully as you would shade a lamp which the winds of heaven 
are seeking to extinguish. Will you do it? Will you go to 
some solitary place to-night, and there kneel down and pray? 


You are conscious you can do it. Will you do it? Will 
you open your Bible and read a chapter ? and, lest you 
should not know where to look, I will tell you. Read the 
first chapter of Proverbs, and then kneel, confess your sins, 
and try to give yourself up to God for the rest of your life. 
Then seek the instruction of your minister or Christian 
friends ; break off all outward and known sins ; put your- 
self m the way of all religious influences, and I will venture 
to say you can not pursue this course a fortnight, a week, 
without finding a new and blessed life dawning within you.' 

" I recollect one sermon that he preached in Boston ad- 
dressed to business men — those who were so engrossed and 
hardened with cares that they were tempted to feel that 
they could not give the time necessary to become Chris- 
tians. The practical point for which he pleaded was, that 
they would come to a resolution to give half an hour a day 
to religious readmg and prayer. He plead with all his elo- 
quence for this one thing. ' You can not give half an hour 
this week without giving an hour the next; your eternal 
life or death may turn on your granting or refusing this one 
thing.' The many business men who became members of 
his Church attest the practical value of this style of appeal. 

"As he preached he watched the faces of his hearers, and 

when he saw that one was moved he followed him. 'A 

B has seemed to feel a good deal,' he would say, ' these 

several Sundays. I must go after him. Something seems 
to block his wheels.' Often he used to say to me, speaking 
of one and another with whom he had been talking, ' I've 
been feeling round to find ichere the hloch is. I put my fin- 
ger on this and that, and it don't move ; but sometimes the 

-)rd helps me, and I touch the riglit thing, and all goes 

"After his evening services it was his custom to come di- 


rectly home and spend an hour or two with his children, as 
he phrased it, letting himself 'run down.' This w^as our 
best season for being with him. He was lively, sparkhng, 
jocose, full of anecdote and incident, and loved to have us 
all about him, and to indulge in a good laugh. 

" Often his old faithful friend the violin was called in re- 
quisition, and he would play a few antiquated contra dances 
and Scotch airs out of a venerable yellow music-book which 
had come down the vale of years with him from East Hamp- 
ton. Auld Lang Syne, Bonnie Doon, and Mary's Dream 
were among the inevitables ; and a contra dance which bore 
the unclerical title of ' Go to the devil and shake yourself 
was a great favorite with the youngsters. He aspired with 
ardent longings to Money Musk, College Hornpii^e, and sun- 
dry other tunes arranged in unfavorable keys, although -he 
invariably broke down, and ended the performance with a 
pshaw ! In after years, after his mind began to fail, nothing 
would so thoroughly electrify him as to hear one of his sons, 
who was a proficient on the violin, performing those old 
tunes he had tried so many times to conquer. 

"These musical performances sometimes insj^irited him 
and his young audience to the verge of indiscretion. When 
mother was gone to bed before him, he could be wrought 
upon by the petitions of the children to exhibit for their as- 
tonishment and delight the wonders of the double shuffle, 
which he said he used to dance on the barn floor at corn 
huskings when he was a young man. But the ravages of 
these saltatory exercises on the feet of his stockings caused 
them to be frowned upon by the fernale authorities to such 
a degree that the exhibition was a very rare treat. These 
innocent evening gala hours, like every thing else, were a 
part of his system of regimen. ' If I were to go to bed,' he 
would say, ' at the key at which I leave off preaching, I 


should toss and tumble all night. I must let off steam grad- 
ually, and then I can sleep like a child.' 

" In fact, he was an excellent sleeper, and usually knew 
of but one nap, which lasted from the time his head touched 
the pillow till the youngest child was sent to wake him up 
in the morning. This was invariably the department of the 
reigning baby, who was solemnly instructed by him that it 
was necessary to take him by the nose, and kiss him many 
times before the heaviness in his head would go off so that 
he could lift it. Oftentimes he would lie in bed after his 
little monitor had called him, professing fears that there was 
a lion under the bed who would catch his foot if he put it 
out, and requiring repeated and earnest assurances from the 
curly head that he should be defended from being eaten up 
if he rose ; and often and earnestly the breakfast-bell would 
ring before he could be induced to launch forth. Great 
would be the pride of the little monitor, who led him at last 
gravely into the breakfast-room, and related in baby phrase 
the labors of getting him up. 

" Of the ardent love and admiration which my father felt 
for the ministerial brethren with whom he was associated 
in this period of his labors I have a j)leasant memory. His 
heart seemed able to take them all in with the fresh vivacity 
of early days, and he gave to the good parts of each the 
tribute of most sincere and enthusiastic admiration. He 
was constantly acting in counsel and concert ; he relied on 
them for advice ; he listened to their opinions, and never 
imposed his own upon them ; and the great influence he ex- 
erted among them was always that of a brother and com- 
panion, and never that of a master. 

"The weekly reunion of the Boston ministers was always 
full of social life, and often presented amusing scenes. The 
stranger who should have been called on to point out the 


great orthodox leader would hardly have picked out the 
short, square man in negligent undress, who sat among 
them apparently the favorite and boon companion of all, 
but the mark for all sorts of jokes and sly witticisms, which 
his little personal peculiarities would call forth, and which 
he always sent back with interest in sallies which carried 
the laugh through the circle. Occasionally, while sermons, 
or letters, or other communications were being read, he 
would be seized with sudden whiffs of inspiration, and after 
fumbling in his pocket for the pencil which was never there, 
would borrow his next neighbor's, dash off hasty notes, and 
pocket it. This process would sometimes occur till half the 
pencils of the company were lodged in one or other of his 
pockets, when one of the party would remark dryly, ' Well, 
doctor, how many pencils have you got in your pocket by 
this time ?' when, suddenly recollecting himself, he would 
bring them out and begin a humorous distribution of them 
to their owners. 

" The doctor's watch was a standard joke. He always 
wore one which never was going, and he, for his own part, 
had no more sense of time than the angel in the Revela- 
tions who declared that it should be no longer. Wherever 
it was good to be, there he staid till some one else woke 
him and reminded him that his hour Avas come. His watch 
was only wound up at such intervals when it would sud- 
denly occur to him to inquire what time it was. Then he 
would pull out his old friend, hold it up, shake it, inquire 
the time of his next neighbor, wind it up and set it with an 
air of grave attention, and go on his way rejoicing. 

"He was accustomed to carry about him two or three 
pairs of spectacles, to guard against the accidents to which 
his absent habits exposed him. At one time, in ministers' 
meeting, he was reading with great energy and commenting 


on a certain document, and, as his wont, was throwing his 
spectacles up on his head at intervals when making his own 
comments on what he read. Inflamed with zeal, he per- 
formed this customary motion with such ardor that the 
spectacles slij^ped over on to the back of his head, and when 
he would return to his manuscrij)t, feeling for them in vain, 
he mechanically took another pair from his pocket, which he 
put on in front. ' Now, brethren,' said Dr. Wisner, ' we 
must look about us. The doctor has got on his spectacles 
behind and before ; he means to look into the matter all 
round.' . 

" These pleasant days of ministerial fellowship in Boston 
were never forgotten by him. These friendships seemed to 
have all the ardor of those of his early days. In speaking 
of his friends, he would often break into expressions of en- 
thusiasm — 'So and so is a wonderful creature!' And in- 
dorsed on their letters are often found little records, such as 
'the man I loved best of all,' 'the best man God ever made,' 
and the like. His friendships were constant and imperish- 
able, passing the love of woman." 

YoL. II.— F 




TowAED the close of the year 1827, arrangements were 
made for the estabhshment of the monthly periodical named 
at the head of the chapter. " You are aware," writes Dr. 
Beecher to the editor of the Christian Spectator (Dec. 18), 
"that this thing has been agitated before, and since my 
coming I have probably had some influence to keep it 
back. But we have advanced now to a point in which I 
am well convinced that we must have the aid of a local 
magazine. The mass of mind which is now awake to in- 
vestigate and feel, and to receive impressions such as those 
will make who most frequently approach it, renders the 
pulpit unequal, and a new means of enlightening and form- 
ing public sentiment indispensable. Indeed, considering the 
growing reaction of virulence which our success creates, we 
can not, with only past means, maintain our own ground. 

"These considerations produced a meeting for consulta- 
tion last evening of ministers and laymen, to whom seem in 
providence to be committed the responsibility of delibera- 
tion and efficient action in the emergency here, in which 
the opinion was unanimous that the existing and prospect- 
ive state of things demand a periodical magazine sui gene- 
ris in the city ; and a vote was passed that the thing be 
done as soon as may be, and the whole subject committed 
to a committee of nine to take all the requisite measures. 

"It is in behalf of this committee that I write to give 
you and the associated minds of the Christian Spectator this 


information, and the assurance of our cordial estimation of 
that work, and of our purpose still, as far as it can be done, 
to secure the continuance of its subscribers. You will be 
assured that no ahenation of feeling and no sinister motive 
operate with us in this thing, and that whatever can be 
done will be to give free course with us to your work." 

The following are some of the reasons assigned, and the 
principles advanced by the new periodical in unfurling its 
banner to the breeze and clearing the decks for action. 
We give them as a fair exhibition of the then prevailing- 
type of orthodoxy, in which such men as Porter, Woods, 
Stuart, Beecher, Taylor, Tyler, Fitch, Nettleton, Hewitt, 
Harvey, and the New England ministry generally, sympa- 
thized fully with Dr. Beecher. 

" There has been for several years past, and especially of 
late, a great increase of attention to religion in this city and 
the vicinity. * * * A spirit of investigation has gone 
forth — a spirit of free inquiry — a spirit that determines to 
examine for itself, to hear for itself, to think for itself, and 
not implicitly to confide in the representations of partisans ; 
and this spirit is all the while adding to the number of 
those who hear orthodox preaching, who converse with or- 
thodox ministers, who associate with the members of ortho- 
dox churches, who read the Bible with seriousness and with 
an anxious desire to ascertain its real meaning, and who ad- 
mit the reasonableness of making religion the first, the con- 
stant, and the greatest object of attention. This spirit of 
investigation is a noble spirit, and it should be cherished, 
and cultivated, and satisfied. * * * 

" It is undeniable that a large portion of the community 
has been totally deceived in regard to the doctrines and 
preaching of the orthodox. * * * The cause of truth 
has already suffered greatly in this way. Misrepresenta- 


tions the most palpable and injurious, of the doctrines, 
preaching, and motives of the orthodox, have been common 
for many years, and the continual repetition of them has by 
no means ceased. The apparent object has been to keep 
the members of Unitarian congregations from entering the 
doors of an orthodox church, and this, to a very unhappy 
extent, has been the effect hitherto. There are not a few 
proofs, however, that these misrepresentations are soon to 
recoil upon their authors with unexpected violence. When 
those who have been misled determine to hear and examine 
for themselves, they find every thing different from what 
they had been taught to anticipate. They exclaim at once, 
'This can not be orthodoxy. For aught that we can see, 
this is reasonable, scriptural, and in agreement with all that 
we observe within our breasts, or in the Avorld around us. 
Tliere is nothing here that violates commoji sense or the ex- 
perience of manldnd. Either this is not orthodoxy, or we 
have been grossly imposed upon respecting it.' * * * 

" The Unitarian controversy, as it is now conducted in 
Great Britain, Germany, and the United States, embraces 
nearly all the great points of fundamental error. It is, as 
we firmly believe, one of the last great controversies which 
is to afflict the Church; and although we would by no 
means advise to have it introduced where it is unknown, 
still there is little doubt that it must, for a time, attract the 
attention of many individuals, in almost every part of our 
country. The history of this controversy, so far as it has 
already proceeded, does not furnish any ground of alarm 
for the future ; but, in order to make a proper use of ad- 
vantages, as well as to corect misrepresentations, it is neces- 
sary that the orthodox should have some regular channel 
of communicating with the public. * * * 

"If it be asked, W!i:xt do the orthodox believe, and how 


is the term now to be understood ? we answer, that from 
the Reformation (and there is no need that we should go 
back farther) a certain system of doctrines has been called 
orthodox. These doctrines contain, as we believe, the great 
principles of revealed truth. Among them are the follow- 
ing, viz: 

" That, since the fall of Adam, men are, in their natural 
state, altogether destitute of true holiness, and entirely de- 
praved ; 

"That men, though thus depraved, are justly required to 
love God with all the heart, and justly punishable for dis- 
obedience; or, in other words, they are complete moral 
agents, proper subjects of moral government, and truly ac- 
countable to God for their actions ; 

" That in the unspeakable wisdom and love of God was 
disclosed a plan of redemption for sinful men ; 

" That in the development of this plan God saw fit to re- 
veal so much concerning the nature and the mode of the 
divine existence as that he is manifested to his creatures as 
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; and that these 
Three, each partaking of all the attributes of the Deity, and 
being entitled to receive divine worship and adoration, are 
the one living and true God ; 

"That the Son of God, laying aside the glory which he 
had with the Father from everlasting, came down from 
heaven, took upon himself man's nature, and by his humil- 
iation, sufferings, and death, made an atonement for the sins 
of the world ; 

"That, in consequence of this atonement, the offer of par- 
don and eternal life was freely made to all, so that those 
who truly repent of sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ 
will be saved ; 

"That men are naturally so averse to God and holiness 


that, if left to themselves, they reject the offers of salvation, 
and neither repent of sin nor truly believe in a Savior ; 

" That God, being moved with infinite love and compas- 
sion, sends forth the Holy Spirit according to his sovereign 
pleasure, by whose beneficent energy an innunierable multi- 
tude of the human family are renewed, sanctified, and pre- 
pared for heaven ; while others are suffered to pursue the 
course which they have freely chosen, and in which they 
obstinately persevere till the day of salvation is past ; 

"That God, in his providential dispensations, in the be- 
stowment of his saving mercy, and in his universal govern- 
ment, exhibits his adorable perfections in such a manner as 
will call forth the admiration and love of all holy beings 
forever ; 

" That believers are justified by faith, through the efiicacy 
of the atonement, so that all claims of human merit, and all 
grounds of boasting, are forever excluded; 

"That the law of God is perpetually binding upon all 
moral beings, and upon believers not less than other men, 
as a rule of life ; and that no repentance is genuine unless 
it bring forth fruits meet for repentance, and no faith is sav- 
ing unless it produce good works ; 

"That those who have been renewed by the Spirit will 
be preserved by the power of God, and advanced in holiness 
unto final salvation ; and 

"That Christ, as the Great King of the Universe, the Lord 
and Proprietor of created beings, will judge the world at 
the last day, when the righteous will be received to life 
eternal, and the wicked will be consigned to endless punish- 

"The foregoing propositions have been drawn up in haste, 
neither in the words of Scripture nor of any human creed, 
nor with any design of exhibiting exact theological precis- 


ion. We much prefer, on ordinary occasions, to express 
our views of religious truth in an unrestrained, popular 
manner. In this way the Scriptures announce religious 
doctrines, and in this. way the same great truths may be 
communicated by different writers and speakers, Avho will 
naturally fall into an almost infinite variety of expression. 
We do not insist that others should. adopt our form of 
words, but we have no doubt that the obvious meaning of 
these words is in accordance with the Bible, and can be 
sustained by an appeal to that infallible test. It is unneces- 
sary to add that we have not attempted to present the 
reader with a summary which should comprise all the im- 
portant truths of revealed religion. 

" These doctrines, and all others necessarily connected 
with them and forming a part of the same system, have 
been received in all churches and by all individuals who 
have been nnderstandingly called orthodox. These doc- 
trines we believe, and in them we rejoice. We believe 
them because we think them to be clearly revealed in the 
Word of God, and not because they have been held and 
defended by such men as Luther and Calvin, Hooker and 
Owen, Baxter and Edwards, however pious and eminent 
these individuals may have been. We call no man master. 
We submit to no man's authority. We hold ourselves 
bound by the law and the testimony ; and if any man's ar- 
guments or theories will not abide this ordeal, they are to 
be rejected. Our motto is. Let God he true, but every man 
a liarP 

It is apparent, from these extracts, that the men engaged 
in this enterprise really believed the religion of the Re- 
deemer to be a reasonable religion, whose fundamental doc- 
trines would stand the test of the most free and thorough 


As against the Unitarians, probably not an orthodox min- 
ister could be found but would have agreed with Dr. Dana 
" that the doctrines of the Gospel, while they are incontesta- 
bly true, are likewise in perfect accordance with the dic- 
tates o^ sober reason; though by some reason and revela- 
tion are artfully set at variance, and unwearied efforts em- 
ployed to ]3ersuade-us that doctrines undeniably found in 
the Scriptures are at war with common sense."* 

But while the New England divines at that day were 
imanimously convinced that no doctrine found in the Scrip- 
tures could be at variance with common sense, it is mani- 
fest, from the extracts above given, that they did not hold 
themselves responsible to the letter for those doctrines as 
stated in the creeds of the Reformation, but only for the 
substance of them, as surviving the discussion of two hund- 
red years. 

When the " Unitarians understood and avowed," as they 
claim to have done, " that they were assailing, not the un- 
defined and modified substance now called orthodoxy, but 
Calvinism^ which had expressed itself in positive formulas, 
and to which the orthodox party professed an unqualified 
and unequivocal allegiance,"f the defenders of orthodoxy 
very properly pronounced it a " misrepresentation most pal- 
pable and injurious." 

Never did the free churches and pastors of New England 
" profess an tinqualijied and unequivocal allegiance" to 
those "positive formulas." From the beginning they pro- 
tested against such "unqualified" use of creeds as unlawful. 
From the beginning they avowed the expectation of " far- 

* Sermon entitled "Evangelical Preaching is Rational Preaching," 
delivered at the ordination of Rev. W. K. Talbot as pastor of the Pres- 
byterian Church and Society in Nottingham West, N. H., by Rev. Daniel 
Dana, D.D. f Half Century of Unitarian Controversy, p. 55. 


ther light" as the glorious privilege of the New England 

Whether or not they had really given np any part of the 
substance of doctrine in giving up imputation, inability, etc., 
as Dr. Hodge and Dr. Ellis so cordially unite in asserting, 
one thing is certain, they strenuously maintained that they 
had not, and that, so long as they held that man from the 
very womb was lost except through the blood of Christ, 
they held all that was essential. In so doing they acted in 
strict accordance with the doctrine of " farther light," and 
treated the creeds of the Reformation in the only legitimate 
manner known to pure Protestantism ; and for the Unita- 
rians, or any others, to attempt to rein them up sharply, 
and hold them accountable to the very letter of Calvin and 
of the Assembly, was not only an infringement of their an- 
cient liberties, but a palpable misrepresentation, justly re- 
sented and protested against by the Spirit of the Pilgrims. 
As Dr. Nettleton well remarks,* " "Why not take this ground 
with Unitarians ? We feel no concern for old Calvinism. 
Let them dispute it as much as they please ; we feel bound 
to make no defense. Come home to the evangelical sys- 
tem now taught in New England. Meet us, if at all, on our 
own avowed principles, or we shall have nothing to say to 

The feelings and aspirations with which Dr. Beecher co- 
operated in the establishment of the new magazine are viv- 
idly expressed in the following lines extracted from a letter 
dated March 1, 1828, addressed to Dr. Griffin : 

" The time has come when the Lord Jesus Christ 'expects 

every man to do his duty,' and when nothing is required to 

give to error a final discomfiture, and to truth a permanent 

victory, but a united and simultaneous eifort to rescue from 

* See vol. i., p. 491, Letter to Dr. Beecher. 



perversion the doctrines and institutions of our fathers, the 
fairest inheritance ever bestowed by Heaven upon men, and 
holding out to this nation and this world more prospective 
good than was ever committed to a merely human instru- 

" For a century or more there has been, as you know, a 
decline in evangelical doctrine and vital piety in this region ; 
and so low did the pulse of life sink in this once holy city, 
that the enemy thought verily that the witnesses were slain, 
and began to exult over their dead bodies and fearlessly to 
divide the spoil. The college was given to Socinus, that 
he, by its perverted funds and powerful influence, might cor- 
rupt the literature of the commonwealth and discij^le all the 
cultivated intellect of the state, especially that which should 
be concerned in the formation and administration of law. 

" Care also was taken that the initiated should be well 
provided with the loaves and fishes by governmental favor 
and a 2:>erverted political confidence, and that our aspiring 
youth whom the college had not perverted should be bribed 
to drink of the cup of sorcery as the only probable condition 
of political elevation. And while the servants slept the en- 
emy sowed tares, till a large portion of the Eastern church- 
es, with their funds, were subverted ; and when the servants 
awoke, it was only to discover that what perverted majori- 
ties could not do fast enough in plundering and blotting out 
the churches of the Pilgrims, the law, by its kind accommo- 
dations, was enabling minorities of the churches, by the aid 
of secular societies of Unitarian fraternity, to accomj^lish. 

" A single hand might unbar the gates of Zion, and let in 
her foes and give up her funds and records, and the law 
called it just and honest. Thus for a time 'judgment was 
turned away backward, and justice stood afar oflf, and truth 
was fallen in the streets, and equity could not enter.^ And 


all the while at the corners of the streets they were sound- 
ing the praise of our fathers and their institutions, to keep 
off the public eye from the degenerations which were going 
on in secret, while the finger of scorn was every where 
pointed at their dejected children, and notes of exultation 
and contumely ascended on every side. ' And the Lord saw 
it, and it displeased him that there w^as no judgment, and he 
saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was 
no intercessor, therefore his arm brought salvation ; when 
the enemy came in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord lifted 
a standard against him.' 

" Under the influence of truth and of the Holy Ghost a 
great attention is awakened to the subject of religion, and a 
public sentiment is formed and forming eminently favorable 
to free and fair discussion. We can now explain and assert 
our rights before a public that will hear and do us justice. 
We can uncover the deeds of darkness of past years to the 
wondering eye and the indignant heart of an honest com- 
munity, whose confidence has been abused, and who can feel 
for our wrongs and indignities, and will not be partakers in 
other men's sins. The day of retribution now for a long 
time slumbereth not. 

" All which is now needed is that the friends of the re- 
ligion and institutions of our fathers read, and understand, 
and feel, and act in unison for the defense of those liberties, 
civil and religious, which had well-nigh been taken away 
forever. All the great designs which God has to answer by 
planting our fathers here in this nation and world depend, 
as I believe, on the efibrts of this generation to rescue their 
institutions from perversion, and restore them to their na- 
tive purity and glory. We have no sectarian views. We 
love all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and 


" Consultation has been had as extensively as time and 
circumstances would allow, and but one sentiment and feel- 
ing prevails. We all seem to hear the voice from heaven 
saying, ' Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of 
the Lord is risen upon thee.' We dare not be disobedient. 
We only wish our brethren, and the churches, and friends 
of the institutions which are threatened by Unitarians, to 
respond to the call which we make upon them for their 
counsels, and prayers, and co-operation. The great point is 
to obtain readers, and for this we are determined to send 
out approved agents who can well explain our views and 
aid our union of efforts. 

" Such a one is the bearer of this letter. We wish to 
obtain in every town in this commonwealth the reading of 
the Spirit of the Pilgrims by a considerable number, so that 
its light may shine and its influence be felt. More I need 
not say, nor even this, for your information, whom God em- 
ployed to open this conflict which is now moving on to cer- 
tain victory with such glorious rapidity and power." 




About this time Dr. Beecher received a call from the 
.Fifth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, recently left va- 
cant by Dr. Skinner's removal. " I got Skinner a call to 
Boston," observed Dr. Beecher, " and he came. His con- 
gregation, to be up with me, gave me a call to his j^lace, and 
got several persons to write urgently. Among others. Dr. 
Miller, of Princeton, wrote an argument, very strong ; and 
when it was read in my trial at Cincinnati it made a sensa- 

" Before this letter reaches your hands you will have been 
apprised that the church of which our friend Dr. Skinner 
was lately the pastor has given you a unanimous call to be- 
come their minister. 

" Some are disposed to smile at this measure as a sort of 
desperate effort at retaliation for robbing Philadelphia of 
Dr. Skinner. Others view it as a plan by no means hope- 
less. But ALL, so far as I know, in this region, would most 
cordially rejoice in the success of the application, and hail 
your arrival in Philadelphia as an event most devoutly to be 
wished by all the friends of Zion within the bounds of the 
Presbyterian Church. 

" My dear brother, I beg, with all the earnestness which 
I am capable of feeling or uttering, that you will not either 
lightly consider or hastily reject this call. I do seriously 
believe that, however painful the step of removal to Phila- 


delj)hia might be, both to the friends of religion in Massa- 
chusetts and to yourself, the residue of your days could not 
possibly be disposed of (so far as human views can go) in a 
manner so much calculated to unite the friends of Christ in 
the South and West with those in the East, and to introduce 
a new era of harmony, love, and co-operation in the Ameri- 
can churches. 

" It is not only a matter of immense importance that the 
individual church in Philadelphia which gives you this call, 
should be supplied with a pastor wise, j)ious, peaceful, pru- 
dent, and acceptable, as far as possible, to all parties ; but, 
liyou will come to that place, I am most deej^ly persuaded 
that you will have an opportunity of diffusing a most happy 
and reviving influence all around you to a degree w^hich 
very few men in our country have ever had ; that you will 
be likely, humanly speaking, to bring together feelings and 
efforts which are now widely separated, and, in fact, to give 
a new impulse to all those great j)lans which I know to be 
near your heart. 

" By removing to Philadelphia, unless I utterly miscalcu- 
late, you would not be likely to subtract very essentially 
from your usefulness in Massachusetts. You might still, by 
means of writing and occasional visits, continue to do there 
a large portion of what you now do, while your usefulness 
and influence in the Presbyterian Church, from ISTew Eng- 
land to [N'ew Orleans, might, and probably w^ould, be in- 
creased tenfold. I have no doubt that, by the acceptance 
of the station to which you are called, your opportunity for 
doing good in the American churches would be doubled, if 
not quadrujDled at a stroke. 

" Say not that these things are mere matter of human cal- 
culation. They are so ; and yet, I think, the book of God 
and human experience furnish an abundant foundation for 


them to rest upon. The truth is, we want nothing for the 
benefit of our eighteen hundred churches, next to the sanc- 
tifying Spirit of God, so much as an individual in Philadel- 
phia (our ecclesiastial metropolis) who should be active, en- 
ergetic, untiring, comprehensive in his ^lans, and firm and 
unmoved in his purposes and efforts. 

" Will you not cast yourself on the Lord's strength and 
faithfulness, and come and help us to unite all our forces in 
one mighty effort, in the name of our heavenly King, to pro- 
mote his cause at home and abroad ? 

" With the cordiality of a brother, and the freedom of an 
old friend, I conjure you, when such an open door is set be- 
fore you, not to refuse to enter it. As to your reception 
among us, I hope I need not say that it would be U7iiversal- 
ly^ with glad, hearts and ojyen arms. May the Lord direct 
and bless you." 

The Church also sent on a committee to urge upon Dr. 
Beecher the acceptance of their invitation. Speaking of 
their visit. Dr. Beecher remarked : 

" When the two gentlemen came on to see me about the 
call, I took them into my inquiry meeting. There was great 
variety of cases. Language of simplicity came along, and 
they'd see me talking 'way down in language fit for chil- 
dren, and then, the next moment, rise up into clear, strong, 
philosophical language. And then the language of free 
agency and ability came along, and then, they told me after- 
ward, they thought I was going to be a — what d'ye call it ? 
— Arminian, and they'd stick up their ears. I made some- 
tldng of free agency — more than a Calvinist would do usual- 
ly — and brought folks up to do what they were able to. 
But next minute came along the plea of morality and self- 
dependence, and I took them by the nape of the neck and 


twisted their Deck off. So they saw that I had my replies 
according to the subject, and in the "course of the evening 
heard me touch on seven or eight or more different states 
of mind." 

This invitation led to that visit to Philadelphia during 
the session of the General Assembly already referred to. 
During that visit he writes to Dr. Wisner : 

" The mandamus by Brother Fay arrived, but I can not 
obey it. I left home with the determination to be gone four 
weeks, and gave up the expectation of being in Boston at 
the anniversaries, and have made and can make no prepara- 
tion. Besides, if there was reason for my coming here, which 
I can not doubt, there is more reason for staying as long as 
the Assembly stays than there was for coming; for the whole 
troop of New -Measure men are here, and are kept at bay, 
as yet, by a watchful Providence, but would doubtless clap 
hands and go pell-mell to work if the means were removed 
which Providence employs. * * * * Another reason 
for staying here is that the Sabbath cause needs touching in 
the General Assembly, and will, as I expect, be moved in a 
general meeting in the city, to be gotten up next week, at 
which I wish to be present. I learn from Lewis Tappan 
that they have sent to you in Boston to move on the same 
subject, which I hope you will do, for much depends on the 
promptitude with which the annunciation of the general 
union and address is followed up in different parts, and es- 
pecially in the cities of our laud." 

It is hardly necessary to inform the reader that the call 
to Philadelphia was declined, for reasons which need not be 
stated. As he afterward remarked when called to the West, 
" Aside from the seminary, there was not a place besides 
Boston I would have looked at for a moment." 




It is already sufficiently apparent that Dr. Beecher's one 
idea was to do good by leading men to repentance. The 
statement of the apostle, "After that in the wisdom of God 
tlie world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the 
foolishness of preaching to save them that believe," he ac- 
cepted as a bona fide disclosm-e of the best method of saving 
and blessing mankind. It was his business, by preaching, to 
awaken men, answer all their objections, convince them that 
the doctrines of the Gospel were not at variance with com- 
mon sense, and lead them to intelligent and honorable re- 

His hostility to Unitarianism arose wholly from the ob- 
stacles cast by that icy system in his path. It took away 
the key of knowledge. It would not enter in itself, and 
those who were entering in it hindered. Among the means 
employed to check the progress of rehgious awakening to 
which Unitarians resorted were repulsive and distorted ex- 
hibitions of Calvinism, which, if even true to the letter, were 
certainly false to the spirit of the system by being taken out 
of their proper connection, and without due regard to the 
law of progress both at the time of the Reformation and 
since. Compared with Romanism, the doctrines of the Ref- 
ormation were a wonderful step of progress. Compared 
with New England divinity as embodied, e. //., in the lec- 
tures of Dr. D wight, those same formulas, if rigidly imposed 
to the letter, would be a yoke of bondage and a turning 


back the wheels of lawful and necessary progress. We have 
already justified the Sph'it of the Pilgrims in pronouncing 
such representations of orthodoxy to be misrepresentations. 
Among these, none, perhaps, was more common or more 
mischievous than the charge of believing in the damnation 
of infants. 

The origin of the controversy on this point is thus stated 
by Dr. Beecher himself: "As evangelical religion increased 
in this city and the country around, I became satisfied that 
the people who were under Unitarian influence, and had not 
the means of knowing otherwise, were led to believe that 
the orthodox around them did hold to the doctrine that 
infants are lost, as a part of their system ; and that, instead 
of relying on truth and argument, attempts were made to 
prejudice an honest and well-meaning community against 
their brethren, the children of the Pilgrims, by the circula- 
tion of such unfounded reports. 

" In these circumstances, being requested to rej^ublish a 
sermon which had some reference to the number of the 
saved, I supposed it a duty indicated by the prevailing mis- 
apprehensions around me to disclaim, in behalf of myself 
and of the orthodox generally in this city and vicinity, and 
in New England, and in behalf of the great body of the 
Congregational and Presbyterian ministers in the United 
States, the believing or teaching any such doctrine. 

" In the execution of this purpose I wrote and published 
the following note : 

" I am aware that Calvinists are represented as believing 
and teaching the monstrous doctrine that infants are damned, 
and that hell is doubtless paved with their bones. But, hav- 
ing passed the age of fifty, and been conversant for thirty 
years with the most approved Calvinistic writers, and per- 
sonally acquainted with many of the most distinguished Cal- 


vinistic divines in N'ew England, and in tbe Middle, and 
Southern, and Western States, I must say that I have never 
seen or heard of any book which contained such a senti- 
ment, nor a man, minister or layman, who believed or taught 
it. And I feel authorized to say that Calvinists, as a body, 
are as far from teaching the doctrine of infant damnation as 
any of those who falsely accuse them. And I would earn- 
estly and affectionately recommend to all persons who have 
been accustomed to propagate this slander, that they com- 
mit to memory, without delay, the ninth commandment, 
which is, 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy 
neighbor.' " 

In the controversy which ensued it has been recently 
claimed "that Dr. Beecher was utterly and most inglorious- 
ly vanquished, and that his opponent gained a complete and 
unquestionable victory."* 

We submit, however, that the utmost the reviewer could 
claim to have proved was, that Dr. Beecher had rashly as- 
serted more in respect to Calvinistic writers than he could 
maintain. How far even here such claim is valid we prefer 
to leave every one acquainted with the case to judge for 
himself. At best it was but a side issue, not the main point 
in controversy. In respect to the question which w^as of 
instant practical concern, and which caused the challenge to 
be thrown out in the original note, we are far from thinking 
the reviewer and his allies had any cause for self-felicitation. 

" The reviewer," observes Dr. Beecher, " understood my 
denial to respect the whole Calvinistic party of present 
times, and my charge of bearing false witness to respect all 
who accused them of holding to infant damnation ; admits 
that he is implicated in the charge of falsehood and slander, 
and bound to defend himself, and comes out for that pnr- 
* Ellis's Half Century, p. 83, 84. 


pose. By quotiug the charge from the Christian Disciple* 
he repeats it, and there leaves it as he found it ; says not a 
word to prove it true ; comes and looks upon it, like Levite 
upon Jew, and passes by on the other side. But, in the 
mean time, he gathers up all his resources and puts forth all 
his energies to repel the charge of slandering his neighbor, 
'the Calvinistic system,' whom no one ever suspected of 
being his neighbor, or had charged him with slandering; 
and feels indignant at being charged with bearing false wit- 
ness against his neighbors, the Calvinistic writers, and com- 
passes sea and land for evidence to clear himself. 

" But, under the charge of bearing false witness against 
'living Calvinistic men,' the whole Calvinistic party of mod- 
ern times, in the sight of the nation, he meekly lies down — 
lies down deliberately under the acknowledged charge of 
falsehood and slander — lays his hand on his mouth, and his 
mouth in the dust, and pleads guilty — says he knew from 
the beginning that the charge against the living Calvinistic 
party could not be proved."f 

Was it indeed a "complete and unequivocal victory," 
while convicting an antagonist of a mistake in a mattev of 
book-learning, to be thus publicly impaled as a willful slan- 
derer ? 

The reviewer failed utterly to show that the perdition of 
infants was either a doctrine of the creeds of the Reforma- 
tion, or a necessary logical inference from them, even in 
their original strictness, much less from the system as mod- 
ified by centuries of investigation and " farther light." 

* * * * " A doctrine, moreover, which follows necessarily from the 
Calvinistic system, and which would now be insisted on by all real and 
consistent Calvinists if they thought their people would bear it." — Chris. 
Discip., May and June, 1823, p. 220. 

t Spirit of the Pilgrims, vol. iii., p. 23. 


On the other hand, Dr. Beecher showed that, his enemies 
themselves being judges^ the doctrine was of Unitarian ori- 
gin, and received its death-blow at the hands of Calvin and 
the iSTew England divines. 

" The early Calvinists, as a body, did not, in any form, re- 
ceive the doctrine of infant damnation. The reviewer him- 
self has fm-nished conclusive evidence of this fact. The Lu- 
therans, ' not content with condemning the Anabaptists, set 
down the position that salvation does not depend on bap- 
tism among the false and erroneous doctrines of the Calvin- 
ists.' That baptism is essential to salvation had, it appears, 
by a misinterpretation of John, iii., 5, come down from the 
early fathers (those undoubted Unitarians, as the Examiner 
would have them), and was the principal argument which 
went to compel the belief of infant damnation ; and Calvin, 
it seems, was the first to explode the false Unitarian inter- 
pretation, which shut the kingdom of heaven against infants, 
and to give the interpretation adopted by his followers, 
which opens to them wide the kingdom of glory. I do not 
believe that the Christian fathers were Unitarians ; but if 
they were, as the Examiner contends, why then the Unita- 
rians introduced the doctrine into the Church, and Calvinists 
were the pioneers raised up by Providence to expel it."* 

The work begun by Calvin, Dr. Beecher showed, was 
completed by the Edwardean divines in the rejection of the 
doctrine of imputation. 

" Our Puritan fathers held to the doctrine of original sin 
as consisting in the imputation of Adam's sin and in a 
hereditary depravity, and this continued to be the doctrine 
of the churches of New England until after the time of Ed- 
wards. He adopted the views of the Reformers on the sub- 
ject of original sin as consisting in the imputation of Ad- 
* Spirit of the Pilgrims, vol. iii., p. 187. 


am's siu and a depraved nature transmitted by descent. 
But, after him, this mode of stating the subject was gradu- 
ally changed, until, long since, the prevailing doctrine has 
been that men are not guilty of Adam's sin, and that de- 
pravity is not of the substance of the soul, nor an inherent 
physical quality, but is wholly voluntary, and consists in the 
transgression of law in such circumstances as constitutes ac- 
countability and desert of punishment. This change was 
not accomplished without discussion. It was resisted by 
those who chose to be denominated Old Calvinists, and ad- 
vocated by those who were called Hopkinsians and New 
Divinity men, until for years these views of original sin 
have been the predominant doctrine of the ministers and 
churches now denominated evangelical." 

This he then shows to have been well known to the Uni- 
tarians, and adds: "And yet, with all this knowledge that 
the phraseology and faith of New England Calvinists is 
changed on the article of original sin, all those exj^ressions 
which the Reformers adopted on that subject are quoted in 
evidence that the Calvinists of New England hold to the 
damnation of infants !"* 

This discussion marks an era in theological advancement. 
Never before had the doctrine of infant damnation been so 
publicly and earnestly denied, and the salvation of infants, by 
implication, so distinctly maintained as the faith and hope 
of the churches. The charge so indignantly repelled as odi- 
ous and slanderous fell into desuetude ; or if occasionally 
renewed by some tyro in theology, in these numbers was 
laid a basis for its final and most inglorious discomfiture. 

An illustration of these remarks will be found in an arti- 
cle in a religious journal, in which the following propositions 
are ably sustained : 

* Spirit of the Pilgrims, vol. i., p. 158-161. 


" 1. The dogma of the perdition of infants first arose from 
the reception, by a corrupt (patristic) Church, of the doc- 
trine of baptismal regeneration. 

" 2. John Calvin was the first man who dealt a death-blow 
to the power of this dogma by refuting and repudiating the 
doctrine of baptismal regeneration. 

" 3. Ever after Calvin's time, and in consequence of his in- 
fluence, this dogma retained but partial and feeble hold of 
the Reformed churches. 

" 4. The New England divines destroyed the last remnant 
of life lingering in this ancient dogma [by repudiating the 
doctrine of imputation], and now, for many years, the cur- 
rent orthodox faith has utterly and indignantly repudiated 

* Congregationalist, February 19, 1858. 



T O IJ N G ME X. — il U S I C. 

Dr. Beechee was remarkable through life for his yoiith- 
fiUiiess of feeling, and his consequent power to sympathize 
with the young, and stimulate them to active iisefukiess. 

""When I came to Boston," he observed, "evangelical 
people had no political influence there, and in civil alFairs 
those who joined them had but little chance. All offices 
were in the hands of Unitarians — perhaps a Baptist occa- 
sionally ; hence, as young men came in from the town, there 
was a constant stream of proselytes to them. But, as the 
revival went on, I had a large number of young men that 
joined the Church — Anderson, Stone, George E. Head, Am- 
asa Walker, Palmer, and such — the finest set you ever laid 
eyes on. 

" I invited Marvin to come to see me in Sheafe Street. 
Explained to him the operation of political patronage. The 
whole influence of Unitarianism a poisonous bribery. I 
said, ' What do you think of that ?' ' I think it must be 
stopped, or we shall be stopped.' ' My opinion is, we can 
stop it. There are ten men in our Church — you one — that 
can assemble in a confidential meeting, and make such ar- 
rangements as will do it.' I named twelve to bring to me. 
He did. I explained to them, and said, ' You may exert a 
power that shall be felt through the United States. There 
is a set of smoking loafers who have been in the habit of at- 
tending primary meetings, and having it all their own way. 
Our people don't go. The cause of God is abandoned just 
here — the cause of souls. They come streaming in to this 


city from all directions to be perverted. Xow organize a 
society. Go to the primary meetings ; go to this and that 
man, and persuade them to go and do up the business.' 

" They did so. First meeting they got an old Democrat 
as captain. On hand when the clock struck. Went to 
work. When the loafers came in, they stared : ' What — 
what — what's going on here ?' and, seeing what was going 
on, moved to adjourn. Lost. Young men went on quietly 
and put on some of other denominations, and adjourned. 
The nominations were carried to the polls and elected, and 
that was the last time they ever had to take care to put in 
orthodox men. From that time the orthodox have had an 
equal chance. 

" These young men met monthly (the ' Hanover Associa- 
tion of Young Men' they called it), and had committees on 
various important matters relating to state of city and things 
needing to be done. 

" One of their reports was on lotteries, and it was so well 
drawn that afterward, when it came into the Legislature, it 
was embodied in the law that was passed. Xobody ever 
knew where that movement came from. They never knew 
what hurt 'em. 

" They got up a petition to sweep ofi" the booths for ar- 
dent spirits on the Common on public days. They got Chan- 
ning's name, and the deputy governor, and .iupreme judges, 
and lower judges, merchants, and carried into the city coun- 
cil the largest number of signatures ever known before that 
time to any such document. It failed the first year, but car- 
ried the year following. The next public day there was not 
one of the booths, and they have never been put back since. 
But they never knew where that came from either. 

" They examined the number attending Unitarian congre- 
gations compared with ours, and found that we outnum- 

VoL. IL— G 


bered them. They appointed committees to watch for 
young men who came to the city, and bring them under 
good influence. They wrote short paragraphs, and got them 
inserted in the papers, about any object they wanted to ac- 
complish. The violation of the Sabbath by steam-boat ex- 
cursions to Nahant Avas discussed and checked in this way. 
They had a committee on the colored population, and anoth- 
er on the Irish, and another on sailors. 

"The Association was organized in January, 1827, and 
before the year was out there were four other Associations 
of the same kind formed in the city. One of the last things 
I did before going West was to address the young men of 
these Associations, some twelve hundred of them, in Tre- 
mont Theatre. The house was full, and a more interesting 
audience I never looked on." 

We have been favored with a communication from a 
prominent member of the Association, Hon. Amasa Walk- 
er, of Xorth Brookfield, Mass., of which the following is an 
extract : 

" The first movement made in behalf of Lyceums in Mas- 
sachusetts was by this Association.* The subject was in- 
troduced by the writer on the 3d of December, 1828. Prior 
to that time there had b^^'no such thing as poptdar lec- 
tures or Lyceiyw;- When courses of lectures were given, 
as they-ng^g^ijjjgg^ l^^t not very frequently were, they were 
attended only by the male sex. Ladies were not supposed 
to be interested in such things. The single or married man 
who attended went alone, and left his female friends at 

* It is stated, however, in the Appendix to Judge White's Ipswich Ad- 
dress, 1830, p. 50, that Lyceums were formed in the south part of Worces- 
ter county in the autumn of 1826. 


" The idea of popular lectures for the mutual improve- 
ment of both sexes had just been started by Josiah Hol- 
brook, of New Haven, and he had come on to Boston to en- 
deavor to bring his ideas before the public. 

" The subject, as just stated, was presented before the 
Hanover Association, and a committee appointed, which 
reported strongly in favor of the measure, and within a 
short time the Boston Lyceum was formed, consisting at 
first of less than a hundred members, but which continued 
to increase, from time to time, for sixteen years, until the 
audience attending its meetings filled the largest hall in the 
city. This was the practical introduction of the important 
idea of combining popular improvement and amusement for 
both sexes — of furnishing someplace of rational resort which 
the people might visit more beneficially than the theatre. 

"The experiment was entirely successful; and, as your 
father witnessed its progress, he predicted ' that the time 
would come when he should preach in the Tremont Thea- 
tre ;' a prediction w^hich, as you know, was fully verified. 

" It is quite difficult now to realize the great importance 
of this Lyceum eflfort in changing the public taste, and in 
giving a higher and better tone to the public mind. Indi- 
vidual volunta^*y associations pass away, but ideas become 
impressed upon society never to be obliterated. Lyceums, 
however transient as organizations, have pi\;duced a social 
revolution in a most essential particular, and the sevemllec- 
turers who now traverse the broad territory of the L^nited 
States, entertaining thousands with their eloquence, have 
been created by the new tastes generated by the Lyceum 

" I shall not attempt to say any thing of the strictly re- 
ligious movements of which your father was the soul and 
centre while in Boston — of his great controversy with the 


learned and talented Unitarians, carried on with so much 
ability and success. Of that you have better authority than 
my own. I wish to confine myself wholly to the particu- 
lar topic to which I have referred, because I feel that the 
vast influence which Dr. Beecher exerted while in Boston, 
through the various agencies he set in motion, is but little 
ai^preciated by the j^resent generation. A great part of 
those who, while in middle life, were associated with him in 
Boston, have passed away ; and only those who were then 
the young men by whom he was surrounded, and who par- 
ticipated in his labors, can fully realize the immense services 
he rendered to society, not only in Boston, but through the 
commonwealth. I speak not now of his denojninational 
services, but of that great moral and social influence which 
he exerted. 

" I have already intimated that other young men's asso- 
ciations had been formed in the difierent religious societies. 
These had given such an impetus to the public mind that 
societies of young men were formed for a great variety of 
kindred objects. A grand display of these was made on the 
4th of July, 1833, when they joined together in celebrating 
the national anniversary. 

"A large procession was formed, and m^irched through 
various streets to Chan.n-Gey Place Church, where an oration 
was deliveref^. ^ry the president of the Boston Lyceum, w^ho 
J^^Z ^"member of the Hanover Association. Never, per- 
haps, did any man look down upon a nobler and more in- 
spiring audience. The floor of the house was entirely filled 
with young men, mostly between the ages of eighteen and 
twenty-five— the galleries with ladies. It was a union cele- 
bration, without any reference to denominational dififerences. 
Dr. Frothingham implored the divine blessing. It seemed 
to the writer then, as it does now, a kind of culmination of 


your father's efforts in behalf of young men ; for although 
there were societies present at that time in whose formation 
he had no direct agency, yet, knowing as I did the various 
influences he had put in motion in the city, I felt that the 
demonstration was to be credited to his efforts. 

" The societies present on the occasion were : 

" The Boston Lyceum. 

" The Franklin Debating Society. 

" The Boston Young Men's Society. 

" The Boston Young Men's Marine Bible Society. 

" Young Men's Society for the promotion of Literature 
and Science. 

" Boston Laboring Young Men's Temperance Society. 

" Lyceum Elocution and Debating Society. 

" Mercantile Library Association. 

" Mechanics' Apprentices Library Association. 

*' Young Men's Temperance Society. 

" Mechanics' Lyceum. 

" The results of all these great efforts to improve the mor- 
al and intellectual condition of the city, and furnish the peo- 
ple with rational and elevating entertainments, were, that in 
a few years the theatre was in a great degree superseded. 
So many courses of lectures, so many interesting discus- 
sions were furnished by these various associations, that 
there was neither time nor taste for the entertainment of 
the drama. It fell, therefore, into desuetude, so that for 
some lew years it nearly ceased to exist. 

In this connection we insert a few of Dr. Beecher's remi- 
niscences of Dr. Lowell Mason, the distinguished composer, 
who presided over the choir of the Hanover and Bowdoin 
Street churches, and whose musical career may be said in 
some measure to have commenced in connection with the 

/• I 


"Lowell Mason was not with me at first, but came early, 
and staid while I was in Boston. He came to us from Sa- 
vannah. Deacon Noyes, a far-reaching man, knew about 
him, and corresponded with him, and got him to come and 
take choir and classes. He did good. He took young con- 
verts and trained them to sing. They drew in the uncon- 
verted, and were instrumental in their conversion. His in- 
fluence was not secular, but as efficacious as preaching. Al- 
most all who went to his classes, instead of being decoyed 
by it and made frivolous, were converted." 

Dr. Beecher's mention of Lowell Mason suggests a re- 
mark or two on some of the indirect results of the founding 
of Hanover Street Church on psalmody and sacred music in 
America. It was here that Mr. Mason introduced that meth- 
od of teaching classes upon the Pestalozzian system which 
has revolutionized the profession and created a new era in 
public worship). 

Here, or in Bowdoin Street it was, that the Church Psalm- 
ody was first substituted for the cumbrous Worcester's 
Watts' and Select, which still weighs down the psalmody 
of some antediluvian districts like a nightmare. Here, too, 
the Handel and Haydn Collection was introduced, in some 
respects unsurpassed by any of the numerous subsequent 
collections by the same author. In Hanover and Bowdoin 
Churches also, it is believed, were first heard many of those 
melodies and harmonies which have since acquired a world- 
wide renown, and are familiar, wherever Christianity is 
known, as household words. 

An ardent lover of music himself. Dr. Beocher infused 
into that department, as he did into every other with which 
he had any thing to do, a portion of his own singularly pro- 
gressive and buoyant enthusiasm. His full belief that the 
millennium was coming, that it was at hand, that the Church 


was just about to march with waving banners to final and 
universal dominion, imparted to music, as it had to theology, 
an entirely new sj^irit. 

The music of New England had originally been plaintive 
and mournful to a remarkable degree. It was the natural 
tendency of persecution and exile to tune the harp of the 
daughter of Zion in the minor key ; but, under the exhila- 
ration of anticipated conquest, minor airs became distaste- 
ful and went out of date, and music assumed a bolder, live- 
lier, more triumphant character. 

It is believed that no single mind, not professionally con- 
nected with musical education, exerted so distinct and wide- 
spread an influence in this direction as that of the pastor of 
Hanover Church. 

We insert here a few reminiscences kindly furnished us 
by Dr. Lowell Mason : 

" Rev. C. Beechee : Dear Sir, 

" I am ashamed to send you these blotted papers. When 
I wrote to you the other day I had already made the first 
drafts, but I thought I could, before this, find time to re-write. 

" I thank you fiDr causing me to think, and thus to bring 
up these things, and others more personal, relating to your 
beloved and honored parent, to my remembrance. I re- 
member with much satisfaction his visit to me a year or so 

before he died. Mrs. M and myself happened to be all 

alone. We had nothing to do but to devote ourselves to 
him, and all talked over old times in high glee." 

" I was accustomed to go to Dr. Beecher before the time 
for the commencement of the public worship on Sunday 
morning. Such calls are often annoying to the minister, en- 
gaged, perhaps, in preparation for the services of the day. I 


often found him thus engaged. He would be always short 
and to the point with me, but I do not remember that he 
ever met me in an impatient or discourteous manner. One 
day I went as usual ; it was very near the time for the com- 
mencement of the service, and just as I entered the room 
the bell began its call. He looked up, and, with a smile, 
said, ' I can't give you the hymns now ; I don't know what 
I shall preach about yet, so I wish you to select any you 
think proper.' I left him to choose his subject and prepare 
his sermon while I went to select the hymns ; probably in 
ten minutes afterward he came into the church. The hymns 
being of a general character, and adapted to direct worship, 
answered the purpose well, as such hymns always will. Aft-, 
er this he requested me always to make the selection, and 
to send the numbers to him. This course was afterward 
followed ; and, after much experience, the following seemed 
to be the result : It is better that the first and second hymns 
be those of direct worship, and that the subject of the ser- 
mon be not distinctly alluded to in either of them ; but that 
the last hymn sung after the sermon shall always be closely 
connected with the sermon, following exactly in its wake — 
following out and deepening, if possible, the state of mind 
or emotions awakened by the preacher. 

" Very often, for years afterward, did Dr. Beecher allude 
to the admirable effect produced in the carrying out of this 
principle. *You seemed to take up,' he would say, 'the 
subject where I left it, and to carry it on beyond where I 
had the power to do.' Yes, blessed old man ; but this can 
not be done unless the preacher has done his work some- 
what as you used to do it. Unless the preacher awakens 
emotion, it can not be intensified by any hymn power. I 
used to tell the doctor, in reply to such remarks as the 
above, ' Sir, you laid the train, and there was nothing left for 
me to do but to apply the fuse.' 


"He was one day preaching a most deeply interesting 
sermon to a house full of people, and while all were listen- 
ing with the closest attention he suddenly paused. Lifting 
his spectacles, he looked forward to the organ gallery, and 
said, in a loud voice, 'Mr. Mason, sing* Old Hundred.' The 
contrast was striking. The mandate was quickly obeyed, 
and the choir, rising, sang to the tune the doctor had named 
that stanza, than which there is not a better or more com- 
prehensive in the language : 

" ' Be thou, O God, exalted high, 
And as thy glory fills the sky, 
So let it be on earth displayed. 
Till thou art here, as there, obeyed.' 

"As soon as this was over the sermon was resumed. He 
had felt that he needed a moment's rest and cheer, and 
therefore called for the song. 

" One Sabbath evening, when there was a meeting of such 
persons as desired personal conversation on the subject of 
religion, many persons being present, and while quite a num- 
ber of those who used to come to his aid on such occasions 
were engaged in conversation with such persons as had 
come up for religious instruction and guidance, he came to 
me and said, 'I want you to sing now. We'll sing "Tlie 
voice of free grace." ' He then called for the attention of all 
to the hymn, which was sung by all who were disposed to 
take a part. At its close he made a few remarks, and the 
conversations were resumed. 

"The next day, or soon after, I met him, when he said to 
me, ' Well, one person gave up his heart during the singing 
of the hymn, as he told me afterward, and probably there 
were others of whom I have not heard.' He was fond of 
the song when judiciously introduced under such circum- 



" Dr. Beecher, like Dr. Watts, desh'ed a quicker move- 
ment in singing than was customary. He liked the tune of 
Old Hundred, even the slow movement then prevalent ; but 
he would say sometimes to me, ' I wish you would sing fast- 
er.' He would have rejoiced to have heard the old tunes 
moving in equal tones, as The Old Hundredth, Dundee, etc., 
restored to their original time as now extensively sung. 

" When a large organ was needed in the Bowdoin Street 
Church, it contained what no other organ before in the 
city had contained — a double diapason, a thirty-two feet 
stop, running down as low as the twice-marked capital G. 
When the doctor first heard its deep and majestic tone, as 
he afterward told me, not only was a new form of emotion- 
al expression opened to him, but his whole being seemed to 
be enlarged ; a power of feeling was awakened within which 
before had always slumbered. His was a truly poetical and 
musical soul, and now, when the new organ poured forth its 
lofty tones, 

" 'Some chord in unison with what he heard 

Was touched within him, and the heart replied.' 

" Dr. Beecher was in an uncommon degree free from such 
chains as early habits, custom, or prejudice often bind the 
spirit, and check investigation and progress. He could even 
tolerate alterations in hymns, if in them he could see im- 
provement, and was ever ready to sacrifice early and long- 
cherished associations to truth and beauty. The following 
incident illustrates this fact. The 102d Psalm, by Watts, 
5th stanza, reads thus : 

" ' He frees the souls condemned to death ; 
And, when his saints complain, 
It sha'n't be said that praying breath 
Was ever spent in vain.' 

To this Dr. Beecher had been accustomed from his youth, 
and it was a favorite hymn and stanza ; but in the ' Church 


Psalmody,' the book used in the Bowdoin Street Church, 
this stanza is thus altered, by which it is relieved of the too 
colloquial and unpleasant elision in the third line : 

" ' He frees the souls condemned to death ; 
Nor, when his saints complain, 
Shall it be said that praying breath 
Was ever spent in vain,' 

The hymn in the original was very familiai* to Dr. Beecher. 
One Sabbath it was given out, and was read by him. When 
he came to this stanza he read somewhat as follows : 

" ' He frees the souls condemned to death ; 
And, when his saints complain, 
It sha'n't (looking at his book more carefully) — shall it — 
It sha'n't— shall it—' 

I believe he tried the third time without success, when, turn- 
ing to the light and looking closely at the stanza, he braced 
himself up, and, elevating his voice, made a final attack and 
won the victory, as he was wont to do in other things. 
After the service I walked up Bowdoin Street with him. I 
said, ' Doctor, the hymn seemed to give you some trouble in 
the reading.' ' Yes, it did, indeed ; I began to fear I should 
not make out to read it.' *And pray, sir, which do you 
think the better of the two, the original or the altered 
copy ?' ' Oh, the altered copy is the best, but it bothered 
me much to read it.' How many are there with whom, 
putting intrinsic merit out of view, this inconvenience of 
reading would have been a sufiicient reason for rejecting 
the hymn altogether. Not so the doctor, who was always 
on the look-out for the better — always ready to look at in- 
trinsic worth, and to sacrifice his previous preferences when 
they came into competition with the right. Dr. Beecher 
was one of the few who, leaving the things which are be- 
hind, press forward toward the mark of perfection in the 
smaller as well as in the greater things." 




While the campaign against Unitarianism was being 
prosecuted with full vigor and promising auguries, sudden- 
ly there were symptoms of discord among the champions 
of orthodoxy, unaccountable and perplexing to themselves, 
and matter of rejoicing and ridicule to their enemies. To 
use their opponents' own language, " The Spirit of the Pil- 
grims was established to do battle with Unitarians ; but just 
midway in its series of volumes it allowed us a breathing- 
spell, while it occupied its pages with the doctrinal conten- 
tions in its own household."* 

This controversy w^as the more remarkable because so 
many of those prominently concerned in it had formerly 
been grouped together as intimate friends in Connecticut, 
of one heart and one mind in the development of the the- 
ology of revivals. Time was when Taylor, and Stuart, and 
Beecher, and Nettleton, and Tyler, and Porter, and Hewitt, 
and Harvey were all together, not only in local proximity, 
but in the warmest unity of belief and feeling. Let the 
reader turn to the letters. of Dr. Hewitt f or Dr. Nettleton,]; 
already given, as an illustration of the perfect accord then 

The causes of their subsequent controversy are partly 
speculative and partly personal ; for, good as they were, they 
were but men, and not wholly exempt from the bias of earth- 
ly motives. 

" Our doctrine was," said Dr. Beecher, when questioned 

* Ellis's Half Century, p. 64. + Vol. i.. eh. 1. t Vol. I, ch. Ixxi. 


on this point, "that God governs mind by motive and 


" Edwards did not come up to that fair and square, Bella- 
ray did not, and, in fact, nobody did until Taylor and I did, 
and the fact was, Taylor did it indiscreetly. We had got 
through with the slang of Old Side and New Side. The 
opposition to Hopkinsianisra was all still, asleep, gone by. 
That was closed up until this thing about Taylor. Good- 
rich, in one of his lectures to the students, came out in a 
form that seemed to imply the denial of original sin — noth- 
ing sinful in infants. The minute I heard of that I saw the 
end. I never felt so bad. I wrote a long letter to him and 
Taylor, telling them they must take that back, or they would 
have the old fight over under new names. 

" Harvey attacked them, but they knocked him over eas- 
ily.* He afterward assailed me in a book, and finally turn- 
ed against Tyler. He w'as a shark in the net. They had to 
throw him oii'. 

"Then there was Hewitt. He w\as at first friendly to 
Taylor, and intimate with him. For some reasons of a i>vi- 
vate nature, however, he w^as alienated, and predisposed to 
come into antagonism with Taylor's opinions. What Good- 
rich said about original sin gave him a handle, and he began 
to canvass against New Haven. 

" I remember one day in Litchfield he called on me and 
told me where he had been, calling on this man and on that 
— some thirty or forty. I got up and looked him right in 
the face — 

" ' Hewitt,' said I, ' do you know what you are about ? 

* " Mr. Harvey at first maintained," says Crocker, " that there is a sin 
which does not consist in the transgression of known law, but in the na- 
ture which the race derives from Adam." After being reviewed by the 
Christian Spectator, he "virtually yielded the point, and entered upon 
the new inquiry whether men are sinners from their birth." 


Have you said any thing to Taylor about wliat you are do- 

" * N'o,' he said, ' I have not.' 

" ' And why do you not ? How dare you attempt to di- 
vide the churches in this peaceful state without an effort to 
obtain satisfaction?' 

" ' Oh, it would be of no use. Dr. Taylor would not con- 
descend to take notice of me. I am not big enough. But 
we wdll let him know that what we may lack in talents we 
will make up in numbers.' 

" I had no sympathy with such feelings, and rebuked him 
severely, though without forfeiting his friendship). I never 
could approve of this mode of assailing character, and un- 
dermining confidence, and spreading alarms, and organizing 
honest men into a party, but always reproved it earnestly. 

" But Hewitt went on, and was the chief agent in inflam- 
ing the opposition. Then, when Nettleton wanted us to 
break fellowship with the New-Measure men, and we would 
not, he became dissatisfied, and availed himself of what Hew- 
itt had begun, and they began to work on Porter of Ando- 
ver, and Tyler of Portland, and others. N'ettleton never 
did much good after he got crazy on that subject. 

"As for me. Old and New School folks had never quar- 
reled with me. All had gone smooth. The revivals in which 
I was engaged were so powerful that nobody dared, nobody 
wanted to oppose. I struck hard against Emmons* on one 
hand, and Dr. Burtonf on the other. I stood between. But 
when my church blazed out so, they all praised God and co- 
operated. The fact is, when I preached free agency, and the 
Holy Spirit set it home and produced conviction, every body 
rejoiced, and there was no trouble until I would not de- 
nounce Taylor. 

" There was some little jealousy just then between An- 
* The Exercise Scheme. t The Taste Scheme. 


dover and New Haven because Taylor was drawing away 
students, and this made Porter, without his being aware of 
it, more susceptible to their influence. After a while he sent 
me a letter* expressing alarm at a change in my doctrinal 
views and preaching, for which there was no foundation." 

Dr. Porter'' s Letter. 

" You are already aware," he said, " that I have felt some 
serious apprehensions resj)ecting certain changes in your 
theological opinions which you profess to have made of late 
years — that is, as some of your remarks imply, changes grad- 
ually made during many years ; others, that they are chiefly 
quite recent. 

" I can not and need not spend time ^professions. You 
are my old friend.^ and know that I have as much confidence 
in your integrity as a man and a minister as you could de- 
mand. I need not stipulate that you shall not misconstrue 
my motives. I know you will not, and whatever is amiss 
in my manner you will excuse. 'I claim no right to dictate 
how you shall think or preach, but I claim the right to tell 
you all my heart on any subject, as a man talks to his 
friend. It is several years since occasional remarks from 
Connecticut ministers, and one transient conversation with 
you, gave me some apprehension as to your views; but 
nothing serious existed in my mind till I heard and read 
some speculations of your son, in which I understood you 
to coincide, and heard the echo of your own sermons in 
Boston, and had from you in conversation some disclosure 
of your views, and what I understood as an acknowledg- 
ment of general coincidence with the published views of 
Dr. Taylor. 

"If you ask me here to specify what I think wrong in your 
* May 22, 1829. 


or Dr. Taylor's views, one of the worst faults I find is the 
indefinite and obscure character of those views. In all the 
annals of theological discussion, I have seen no match for 
Dr. Taylor's obscurity. I mean, when a man has good sense 
as he has, and can preach with perspicuity. And as for 
you, who certainly can speak and write as clearly as any 
man on common subjects, I understand that you, as well as 
Dr. Taylor, are beginning to complain (as system makers 
have been wont to do) that you are misunderstood. 

*' So far as I have any distinct conceptions of the new 
views embraced by you or ascribed to you, the faults I find 
are chiefly these, viz., that these views are not built on the 
Bible, but on philosophical theories as to man's mind and 
powers of agency ; that your preaching does not draw its 
proof from the Scriptures, and therefore does not lead men 
to ' search the Scriptures,'' as much as the plain, serious 
preaching common in New England pulpits ; that you ex- 
alt one part of Calvinism, viz., human agency, so as virtual- 
ly to lose sight of its correlate, human dependence, and thus 
make regeneration a result of means and instrumentality, so 
that the sinner is born rather ' of blood, or of the will of 
man, than of God ;' and, finally, that your views would cher- 
ish presumptuous reliance on means in ministers and im- 
penitent sinners, so as (in direct contravention of your own 
meaning) to frustrate revivals of religion. 

" It is certainly more consistent with the Bible to repre- 
sent a well instructed, anxious, inquiring sinner as more 
likely to be saved than one who is ignorant and careless, or 
else means would be useless. And though I presume your 
meaning goes no farther than this, I apprehend your system 
goes much farther in efiect, as you are understood ; for you 
are understood to propose that you will take a sinner, care- 
less though he be, and in a certain process of means, attend- 


ed on with an unholy heart, you will, in a moderate period, 
return him a converted man. In other words, you are sup- 
posed to be thus unwittingly reviving the Arminian notion 
of gradual regeneration by light, or what has been some- 
times termed reliance on unregenerate doings. 

" Much of this, you will say, is mistake ; this presents 
another aspect of the case. Whether you suppose your 
new views to respect the substance of Calvinism^ or the 
modes of exhibition, is, perhaps, not very imjDortant, while 
you do make the impression on Calvinists and auti-Calvin- 
ists that you are modifying the system in its essential parts, 
and that, unconsciously to yourself, with an improper confi- 
dence that the Gospel, as you j)reach it, will awaken no ob- 
jections in ungodly men. Your remarks to me implied 
that, in the general current of Calvinistic preaching in New 
England, there is a great and radical fault in making the 
Gospel offensive by the manner of exhibition. Now there 
always will be some rash and unskillful preachers, and I 
have no doubt that our venerable fathers. Mills and Hallock, 
sometimes strained points ; but, as a general thing, it never 
was so, and never will l)e in our pulpits, that an indiscreet 
fidelity is the leading defect of preachers. A thousand 
causes will prevent it. 

"I lament that you are making the impression to which 
I have alluded for several reasons : 

" 1. The real Gospel, however skillfully preached, if preach- 
ed clearly, will be opposed. Experience has decided this. 
If you say this has resulted from the wrong mode of preach- 
ing, I add, God has decided in his Word that ' the carnal 
mind is enmity against himself.' Christ preached wisely, 
no doubt, yet to his hearers he said (not, you would have 
loved me and my Father if you had seen our character tru- 
ly, but) 'you have seen and hated both me and my Father.' 


You alarmed me, Brother Beecher, when you explained, as 
Unitarians do, the oj^position of Christ's hearers into their 
national prejudices as Jews, implying that Christ's preach- 
ing would not be opposed now. If this is so, then Paul 
made a great mistake when he classed Jews and Gentiles 
together as enemies to God. 

" 2. I regret the impression you have been making, be- 
cause the grand danger of the ministry always has been a 
tendency to modify the Gospel to appease opposition. 
There is a large number of orthodox ministers in New En- 
gland, who, from family alliances, from constitutional deli- 
cacy of temper, etc., etc., as I hinted above, will temporize 
and make smooth work, from an honest conviction that a 
full disclosure of the truth would alienate their hearers. 
The bitter revilings of base men have been gradually and 
insensibly leading Calvinistic ministers to hide their colors 
and recede from their ground. Dr. Spring's Church at 
Newburyport, Park Street, especially in Dr. Griffin's day, 
and a few others, have stood like the Macedonian phalanx. 
But others have gone backward. Caution^ caution has 
been the watchword of ministers. 'When they do preach 
the old standard doctrines, it is in so guarded a phraseolo- 
gy that they are not understood to be the same. 

"You know as well as I, but, if I am not mistaken, thirty 
years ago, ten sermons were preached in New England on 
total depramty and election to one that is preached on those 
subjects now. I know well that fear and interest are not 
your motives as a preacher ; but I suppose you have hon- 
estly adopted a philosophical theory, which will lead you 
(and that with a view to man's salvation) to lean toward a 
modification of the truth by undue efforts of policy — (I can 
not get a better word) — to render it palatable to men. But 
to bring men's hearts to the Gospel is quite another thing 
from bringing the Gospel to their hearts. 


"3. I lament the impression above stated, because, if it is 
a fact that your mode of preaching has led anti-Calvinists, 
whether Arminian or Unitarian, to say that you are not a 
Calvinist, it becomes you as a man of sense and piety to ex- 
plain the fact to yourself. And the case becomes still more 
imperative if your most substantial and intelligent brethren 
are aj^prehensive too. These brethren, if I understand the 
case, are among the most discriminating and excellent min- 
isters in the land. "When I told you how one of them felt 
on. hearing you preach at Haverhill, you said that probably 
three fourths of your brethren would have the same feelings 
in the same circumstances. Really, brother, you surprised 
me by that declaration, accompanied by another, that these 
good brethren must be brought to light by gradual, not 
by violent transition. 

" But why should these good brethren be alarmed, should 
they hear your system preached out ? Because they would 
misunderstand it? Then take care that its basis is not 
darkness. If you can not make clear heads combined with 
honest hearts comprehend your meaning, what sort of sys- 
tem must this be to enlighten and save the world ! Why, 
then, would these brethren be alarmed ? Because they un- 
derstand your system and solemnly dissent from it ? Take 
care, then, that its basis is not error. 

" Three fourths of your brethren may dissent from you, 
and yet they be wrong and you right. But that dissent 
imposes a solemn claim on you to lay your foundation with 
care. Who are these brethren ? Men whom God has 
blessed above all others since the apostles' days as his own 
chosen ministers. Men of capacity, and some of them not 
inferior to yourself in theological knowledge and power of 
discrimination. In New England there are three hundred 
ministers, who are men of thought, and some of them of 


extensive reading. I should not dare to say or think of 
such men that they would, on any important points of dif- 
ference between them and me, renounce their own opinions 
and embrace mine, when mine should be disclosed to them. 

" Brace up now. Brother Beecher, and bear a while with 
my jDlainness like a man as you are. Once in a century or 
two the Church needs a Great Reformer to arise. Some 
of your remarks have seemed to mean (what Brother Beech- 
er ten or twenty years ago would not have dreamed of) 
that you were born for that end, and that the theology .of 
New England is the theatre for operation. I do not tax 
you with ambition or vanity. I have thought you uncom- 
monly free from both, considering the high estimation you 
have honorably attained. Of the powers of your tongue 
and pen for popular impression no one has a higher estima- 
tion than I, and you must long have been conscious of these 
powers yourself. I have gloried and do glory in your use- 
fulness as a champion of the Sabbath and other great and 
good objects. 

"But then I do not think you a metaj^hysician born to 
tear up the foundations laid by Edwards. You are a rhet- 
orician and a popular reason er. Your forte is impression 
by vivid argumentation, and appeal from common sense and 
boundless stores of illustration. I praise God that he has 
given these talents to a man whom I so much love and re- 
spect. But I would much sooner trust Dr. Hyde, for ex- 
ample, to search out the flaws in a system of metaphysics 
than Brother Beecher. 

" 4. I lament the above impressions, because conflicting 
speculations among the orthodox are peculiarly unseasona- 
ble at the present time. Arminianism received from the 
hand of Edwards its mortal blow, of which it lingered more 
than half a century in New England and died. You and I 


can remember its last moments in Connecticut till the race 
of wig men for the corporation of Yale was run out. Hop- 
kins, with some hyper notions, helped to settle the work 
begun by Edwards on a firm footing, so that, except Cam- 
bridge folks, not an Arminian candidate has been to be 
found, or has been wanted in New England for many a 
year. Our orthodoxy has settled into a solid, tranquil, 
scriptural state, and perhaps no body of ministers since the 
world began have been so united, and so manifestly blessed 
of God, as the ministers of New England for the last thirty- 
five years. 

" Massachusetts, indeed, has been an exception for a part 
of that time. Twenty-four years ago Dr. Azel Backus and 
I visited Boston, and found Old Calvinists (Arminians), 
Calvinists, and Hopkinsians all pulling different ways, while 
Connecticut was quiet as a clock. This state (Massachu- 
setts) was then the region of original geniuses^ every man 
having his '■j^scdni' and his ' doctrine^ every man putting 
forth his 'Bible news^ or his book in some form, to show 
that he was an independent thinker. As the battle has 
waxed warm with the Unitarians, all these parties have 
ranged under two banners, and for several years I have re- 
joiced to see Trinitarians and Calvinists in Massachusetts 
merging their common difterences, and uniting in one pha- 
lanx against a common enemy. 

" Judge, then, what must be my anxiety, when, just at 
this conjuncture of solemn interest to the Church, a battery 
is opened in Connecticut, and a standard raised, and a cam- 
paign begun that threatens to divide our forces ; and judge 
what must be my regret when my most intimate associate 
(but one) in the Connecticut fraternity, called to Boston as 
a captain of the Lord's host against the enemies of our 
faith, gives me to understand that he feels bound to preach 


such a modification of his former sentiments as will serious- 
ly alarm his best brethren. 

" It were vain to hope that all this alarm will subside in 
a few months, and that Unitarians will never learn the se- 
cret that we are divided. It were vain to hope that any 
change touching the vital points of New England ortho- 
doxy can be accomplished silently, or can be accomplished 
at all, without public discussion. The thing has gone thus 
to its ' 7ieplu^ from a dread of division; but push it farther, 
and a battle royal is inevitable. Our hills will ring with 
the noise of conflict, our brethren of the South and "West will 
turn away with sighing from this land of the Pilgrims as 
the region of theological speculation. The Spirit of God 
will forsake our churches, and Unitarians^^ay,UisnTAEiANS ! 
— what will they say ? 

"Dear brothoi', if necessity is not upon you, if you are 
not impelled by a constraining, overwhelming sense of duty 
to open this campaign, I beg you to pause, and think, and 
pray, and search the Bible still a few months longer before 
this Rubicon is passed. To these crude and hasty thoughts 
(which I should not dare to hazard in this rough manner 
except to you) I have but one more to add. If necessity is 
upon you, and you must go on without regard to the opin- 
ions of your brethren, in good conscience you can not use 
the plural pronoun in debate with Unitarians. You should 
speak for yourself only. 

" You must be aware that on the subject of infant dam- 
nation, for example, your Calvinistic brethren would not 
have chosen you as an organ to express their views in many 
respects as you have done. Now, my dear brother, I must 
stop, as I have not another moment to spare. If all my ap- 
prehensions are needless, I hope they are also harmless, ex- 
cept as they may give pain to your heart, which I would 


gladly avoid. Your age and standing render you inacces- 
sible to such remarks as I have made from brethren youn- 
ger than yourself. From me, your old friend, you will take 
nothing amiss, and whatever is wrong in this letter you will 

Dr. Beecher's Reply . 

"Boston, June, 1829. 

"Deae Beothee, — Yours of the 22d Avas received w^ith 
feelings such as you anticipated, and with no regret, only 
that, instead of holding in to the ne x^lus^ you had not used 
the same plainness earlier. The state of apprehension to 
which your mind has come, and the just cause for it, pro- 
vided your apprehensions are well founded, is to me the oc- 
casion of as much surprise as it is of regret ; for had I gone 
to sleep in Boston and w^aked up in Calcutta, I should not 
have found myself surrounded by more strange and unex- 
pected associations than I w^as in being called upon by you, 
in such a tone, for explanations on such topics, to remove 
from your mind such apprehensions as you express. 

"It is, however, due to friendship and to the cause of 
Christ, which is to some extent associated wuth our well or 
ill doing, that I should attend to your suggestions with great 
seriousness and candor. Be assured, also, that I not only 
admit your right to interrogate and admonish me, but ap- 
preciate your motive in doing so, and regard what you 
have said and done as high evidence of the reality and mag- 
nanimity of your friendship, while it affords to me no un- 
flattering evidence of your confidence in mine. 

" Instead, also, of being vexed at the fears of my anony- 
mous brethren, I regard them as is just, with satisfaction, 
as an evidence of that zeal for the truth, for the want of 
which, in past generations, it has been in this region so vile- 


ly betrayed and bartered away. You can not, however, be 
insensible that close upon the confines of honest zeal lie the 
territories of twilight, and suspicion, and fear, and imagina- 
tion, and amplification, and whisperings, and rumors, where, 
through our own imperfections, the enemy employs the in- 
fluential friends of Christ to wound one another, and to 
propagate distrust, and alienation, and acrimony, almost as 
injurious to the cause of Christ as heresy itself. 

" The strength of the Church depends upon our concen- 
trated action, and this (like credit in the mercantile world) 
depends on confidence; whatever, therefore, propagates sus- 
picion and distrust among brethren who have long acted 
together, paralyzes their power, as the failure of great cap- 
italists undermines public confidence and propagates alarm 
in cities. Of this the great enemy of the Church is perfect- 
ly aware, and has never failed, when the concentration of 
forces against him had become too formidable for direct 
resistance, to ease himself of his adversaries by dividing 

" Thus the sacramental controversy alienated the Reform- 
ers. The divisions of Presbyterians and Independents lost 
the vantage ground, and brought back the Stuarts, and 
High-Churchmanshii3, and dissoluteness, and infidelity in 
England, and the divisions occasioned in New England by 
getting in and getting out of ' the half- way covenant' par- 
alyzed for seventy years the power of the Church, and ex- 
iled almost the special influences of the Holy Spirit. 

" It would seem at present as if the Church had acquired 
in this country a moral influence no longer to be resisted 
by the Prince of Darkness but by dividing the leaders in 
the sacramental host, and that the ministers in New En- 
gland who have seen eye to eye in all the essentials, and 
have moved shoulder to shoulder in the battle, are now se- 


lected as the objects of his malicious experiment. But in 
vain, I trust, is the net spread ; it is, however, well set, and 
has nearly inclosed us, and will not probably be escaped 
without a due sense of danger, self-possession, prayer, and 
the wisdom which is both pure and peaceable. 

"The Reformed churches made vigorous efforts to heal 
their divisions, and, as they say, but for a few restless and 
rash spirits the work of peace would have been accomplish- 
ed. A little rashness now, or petulance of pride, or obsti- 
nacy of self-will, may do us corresponding injury. God 
grant we may be kept, and not throw away the victories of 
the past and the prosperity of coming generations by any 
indiscreet precipitation. The chief occasion of needless di- 
visions in the Church of God has been the undue stress 
which good men have laid upon the circumstantiaU of re- 
ligion, who were agreed in the fundamentals. I mean by 
circumstantials either the discipline and ceremonies, or the 
philosophy of religion. The first divided the Church of 
England, the second threatens to divide us. 

V By the philosophy of religion I mean the different the- 
ories by which men illustrate and defend those doctrines in 
which they are agreed. This, you know, always has been, 
and, till men have more grace and knowledge, probably al- 
ways will be, the debatable ground^ the religion of hobby- 
horses, no two of which can be hitched together. On this 
ground the only condition of peace would seem to be, to let 
every man ride his own hobby without molestation or 
alarm, leaving it to experience and public sentiment to ad- 
just the relative merits of the favorite animals. Unless we 
renounce wholly the teachings of experience, and give our- 
selves up to absolute infatuation, we shall avoid the substi- 
tution of our different explanatory theories of the doctrines 
for the doctrines themselves, and shall not fear nor suspect 

Vol. it.— H 


heresy, nor propagate alarm concerning any speciilatioi?s, 
the authors of which hold fully and correctly all the funda- 
mental doctrines. 

" It is the opinion of Wilson, the evangelical Episcopa- 
lian, who has recently written an invaluable essay, intro- 
ductory to ' Baxter's Reformed Pastor,' that uniformity in 
opinion, even in a single nation, is hopeless, considering the 
infirmity of man ; but unity of heart on all essential points, 
with liberality and charity as to non-essentials, produces all 
the good consequences of such uniformity, besides many 
others peculiar to itself. 

"The argumeiition ad invidiam and the argumentum 
ad terrorem w^ill do no good, but evil only ; and the at- 
tempts to repress free inquiry and original investigation 
wnthin the limits and cordial belief of the fundamental doc- 
trines by combinations and practical resistance would pro- 
duce something more than a conflict, w^hich w^ould make 
the hills and valleys of New England ring ; it would be a 
volcano to rend the very bowels of the Church ; for there 
always have been in the Church, and always will be, and al- 
ways ought to be, men who will not be deterred by such 
influence. Uniformity in our theoretical expositions of the 
fundamental doctrines can be attempted successfully only 
by conversation and discussion in its kindest and most con- 
ciliating forms ; for the more entire our agreement in fun- 
damentals, the greater will be the sense of injury in being 
treated as if we were heretics. 

"All these remarks, however, are irrelevant, provided your 
apprehensions concerning my designs, views, and preaching 
are w^ell founded. If it be true that I have become a ' sys- 
tem maker ;' that my views ' are not built on the Bible, but 
on certain philosophical theories as to man's mind, and powd- 
ers, and agency;' that my * preaching does not draw its 



proofs from the Bible,' and ' does not lead men to search 
the Scriptures ;' ' exalts human agency so much as virtually 
to lose sight of human dependence; makes regeneration the 
result of means, to the exclusion of the Spirit's special influ- 
ence; cherishes presum^^tuous reliance in ministers and in 
sinners so as to frustrate revivals ;' that I propose to ' take 
a sinner through a course of means, and return him a saint 
without the Holy Spirit ;' that I am ' reviving the Arminian 
notion of gradual regeneration ; modifying the Calvinistic 
system in its essential parts ; hold that the Gospel can be 
so preached as to render it palatable to the carnal heart ;' 
that I regard myself as a ' reformer, raised up to modify 
the New England theology on points which concern its 
vital interests ;' and that in the propagation of these views 
I am about to ' open a campaign and pass the Rubicon,' 
draw the sword and throw away the scabbard — if I am do- 
ing all this, there is foundation for your fears. 

" But never, as in reading your letter, have the emotions 
of surprise, mirthfulness, and grief held such strange conflict 
in my mind. To refrain from laughing was impossible, and 
to refrain from tears equally so ; nor has it been without con- 
stant vigilance that I have kept those feelings from rising 
which a sense of unmerited loss of confidence and distrust is 
calculated to wake up in our sinful hearts, but which I never 
have indulged, and trust I never shall indulge toward you ; 
for, as you wrote evidently in haste, and as evidently under 
excitement of solicitude, I can not suppose you saw all your 
implications at one view as I have placed them. 

" If you had employed your importunity to dissuade me 
from going on a crusade to recover Jerusalem from the 
Turks, I should not have been more astounded by its irrele- 
vancy to any thought of my mind or feeling of my heart. 
Assuredly I have no campaign to open nor Rubicon to pass ; 


and unless my friends thrust me forward, and come after me 
in battle, there will be no battle ; for with me it is a funda- 
mental maxim not to expend my strength in contending 
with the friends of Christ, when so much eflbrt is needed to 
turn back his enemies. Should I find myself in the Helles- 
pont, vexed with storms, doubtless, as I am able and as I am 
aided, I shall breast the waves with heart of oak and arms 
of controversy ; for if I was not born to be a reformer (of 
which I never dreamed), it has always been my opinion that 
I was not born to be a coward. 

"Before I attempt a particular explanation of your speci- 
fications, you must allow me to say that your apparent confi- 
dence in their truth seems to me disproportioned to your 
evidence; for certainly your letter contains specifications 
which go to the shipwreck of orthodoxy, and it states, also, 
the evidence, and brings in the verdict, and applies the ad- 
monition, and threatens the execution, in no equivocal terms, 
if I persist in my present course. 

" Now, that these specifications are unfounded, I know, 
and that there is no evidence to sustain them which can jus- 
tify their credence to the extent implied in your letter is my 
full belief. I can not, therefore, resist the conclusion that 
you have done me great injustice, and that, if the confidence 
of conspicuous men in the Church in each other is so easily 
to be given up, the adversary will make an easy defense, and 
Zion will, for a long time to come, sit in sackcloth. 

" It is this panic which I witness, this suspicion among 
former friends, that alarms me more than all besides ; for 
to all purposes of cordial co-operation, the suspicion of her- 
esy is as fatal as open denunciation. I have said there is 
no foundation for your apprehensions on any of the points 
named. The elementary principles of my theology on all 
the topics concerning which any diflTerence can be supposed 


between me and yourself have for a long time been publish- 
ed in my sermons on the Government of God, The Bible a 
Code of Laws, and The Faith once delivered to the Saints, 
my two sermons on Depravity, in the National Preacher, 
and the Gospel according to Paul. They have not, to my 
knowledge, been misunderstood or created alarm, and in 
their amplification and application in the pulpit and in the 
vestry I utter no sentiments at variance with them. 

"To me, therefore, it appears both unjust and of danger- 
ous tendency that you should permit parole testimony, ' the 
echo' of my sermons, to set aside my deliberate, guarded, 
published statements. The conversation I held with you 
was desultory and short, because, from indisposition, I could 
not enter the field of explanation. I therefore made a few 
detached remarks, some of which you misunderstood, and 
others, designed to qualify them, have forgotten. I per- 
ceived that farther explanation would be necessary, but, not 
fully apprised of the strength of your feelings, resolved to 
defer it to another opportunity. Had I understood your 
state of apprehension to be as it since appears, I should have 
said nothing, or said more, for I know not but that this is 
the first time I have ever had occasion to complain of being 

*' The direct remarks I have to make on the several topics 
contained in your letter must be laconic, and, to save time, 
I shall simply give a word or two as the index to the sub- 

" ''System Mcikers? It has always been a predominant 
object of my heart to escape the sin and folly of such a 
charge in its invidious sense, and to apply rather to practi- 
cable purposes the great truths of the Bible ; to make the 
weapons of our warfare bright by use, instead of spending 
my time in pointing and polishing them to be hung up in 


the armory of God for admiration; and I do not believe 
that I have been, or am likely to be, a system maker in any 
dangerous or undesirable sense of that term. 

" ' Views built not on the Bible^ hut on x>hiloso]yhical views 
of manh free agency^ etc? On this subject there are ex- 
tremes on both sides, and not a little loose and inconsider- 
ate speech. It is easy, for example, to idolize philosophy 
and set it above the Bible, and it is as easy, and almost as 
common, to slam it down by wholesale, as if it were mere 
moonshine. But philosojDhy is the nature which God has 
given to things, to mind, and to matter, with the laws of 
their operation ; and so far as the attributes of things lie 
within the cognizance of our faculties, they constitute the 
basis of all knowledge and of all experience. The Bible it- 
self assumes this philosophy and our knowledge of it, and 
can not be explained without it, nor lawfully explained 
against it. 'Tis only when philosophical theories are formed 
independently of facts, or when they respect subjects which 
lie beyond the ken of our faculties, that philosophy becomes 
contemptible and dangerous. 

" Do you say. Why not let philosophy alone, and preach 
the plain doctrines of the Bible ? My answer is, it can not 
be let alone, nor can the plain doctrines be preached with- 
out it ; they never have been, and never will be. Can we 
teach the nature of God as a Spirit without philosophy ? or 
of man as a free agent without any conception of the nature 
of law, and free agency and accountability ? And if there 
be many things on these subjects which are hid, are there 
none which lie open and naked within the sphere of our 
knowledge? It is because we can and do understand the 
nature of things that the Bible does not teach them direct- 
ly, but assumes them as knowm. 

" Do we not understand, both from philoso2')hy and the 


Bible, the difterence between natural and moral government 
— natural and moral inability — and what is requisite to con- 
stitute accountability, and what may excuse from obligation 
and blame? And shall our ignorance on subjects that we 
do not understand set aside our knowledge on subjects that 
are comprehensible ? Or shall the folly of theorizing in terra 
incognita beget the affectation of humble ignorance concern- 
ing those things which we were made to understand, and 
are bound to, and able to, and do understand ? 

"It was by discussion, deeply imbued with intellectual 
philosophy, that Edwards, and Bellamy, and Hopkins, and 
others, brought many truths out of relative obscurity, and 
gave us the quiet in New England of which you speak ; a 
peace, however, neither then nor since based on exactly co- 
incident philosophical expositions, but upon the Catholicism 
which, within the fundamentals, would agree to differ. 
"What now has come to pass, that the advocates of the ex- 
ercise and taste schemes, so long tranquil and brotherly, 
must buckle on the harness and lift the bristling spear? 
a war in which the vanquished and the victors must stop 
where they begun, and sit down and weep together over the 
needless desolation they have made. If I understand my 
own mode of philosophizing, it is the Baconian. Facts and 
the Bible are the extent of my philosophy. 

"' That my preaching does not draio its proof s from the 
Bible^ I appeal to my Portland sermon, my two on De- 
pravity, and to every one of my manuscript sermons on doc- 
trinal subjects. No charge could be more unfounded. The 
uniform shape of all my sermons is to show what God says, 
and that it is true in fact ; corresponds with the nature and 
character of men, with the principles of moral government 
and the moral condition of the world, and with the actual 
experience of saint and sinner ; sometimes by showing the 


facts in the case first, and that the Bible confirms the state- 
ment, and sometimes what the Bible says, and that facts 
confirm it. This is the heart and back-bone of my preach- 

'^^JEkcdts hitman agency so as mrtxiaUy to lose sight 
of human dependence? You can not exalt human agency 
higher than free agency, and ability commensurable with di- 
vine requirements, as stated by Edwards and the New En- 
gland divines, nor can you introduce a dependence consistent 
with accountability more absolute than that which results 
from the certainty of voluntary unbelief, without the special 
influence of the Holy Ghost. Both these I inculcate intelli- 
gibly, and often, and if not equally, it is because the circum- 
stances in which I have been placed did not demand it. 
The preaching of dependence by hyper-Calvinists had been 
so disproportioned as required the reiterated inculcation of 
free agency and ability to obviate prejudice, gain a hearing, 
and give the relative proportions of truth to minds accus- 
tomed to disj^roportionate and distorted views. 

" ' Makes regeneration the result of means to the exclu- 
sion of the special influence of the Holy Spirit? As un- 
founded as possible. I never thought so, said so, nor has 
ever a paragraph or sentence come from me, from which, 
by any fair construction, such an inference could be drawn ; 
nor could such an apjDrehension be entertained by any one 
who heard attentively, for any length of time, my prayers, 
exhortations, and sermons. 

" All of these not only imply no such thing, but exclude 
the possibility of any such supposition. If there be one 
point which my own experience, observation, and study of 
the Bible have taught me, it is the absolute dependence of 
saint, sinner, and minister upon the special influence of the 
Holy Spirit. The sermon which contains an epitome of my 


views on this subject is written out, and, so far as I know, 
has been ai^proved. Since the reception of your letter, it 
has been read to Brother Nettleton and received his appro- 
bation. It does not encourage in ministers a presumptuous 
reliance on means, nor has it been the effect of my preaching 
to create any such rehance on means in sinners who have 
come under my inspection and care. 

'''-''Does not lead men to search the Scriptures.'' How 
can this be, if my preaching occasions a ^presumptuous reli- 
ance on means ? But with some, the very head and front 
of my offending is that I do inculcate reading the Bible too 
much. It is four years since I have, in dealing with awaken- 
ed sinners, recommended scarce a single book except the 
Bible, and all the while my confidence in its sufiiciency and 
efiicacy has been steadily increasing, as has also the urgency 
with which I enforce the reading and study of it. My Church 
have gone over the Confession of Faith twice, reading and 
expounding a chapter in the Bible which contains the sub- 
ject of consideration in the Confession ; and I have also a 
Bible-class, taught by influential members of my Church, 
besides Bible-classes in the Sabbath-school. On the whole, 
I think it must be admitted that my Church and congrega- 
tion make considerable use of the Bible. 

'-'-'' Propose to taJce a sinner through a course of means 
and return him a saint!' If by this it is meant that I pro- 
pose to make him a saint, I deny ever having made such a 
proposal ; if it means that I undertook to guarantee the con- 
version of every one who will follow my directions, I say I 
have never offered any such guarantee ; if it mean that 
many who have followed my directions have in a short time 
afforded credible evidence of piety, this is what is common 
in a successful ministry ; if it mean that in some respects I 
succeed better with particular classes of persons, and that I 



am more encouraged to attempt the conversion of sinners 
from the success which it has pleased God should attend my 
instructions, this is true ; and if it mean that the more seri- 
ously and implicitly persons follow my advice, the stronger 
is my expectation of a favorable result, this also is true. 

" ' Receiving gradual regeneration^ By moral suasion I 
suppose is intended. I am doing no such thing, and no 
one would say this who ever heard me preach with his ears 
instead of his elbows. All my discourses are marked and 
explicit on the subject of instantaneous regeneration; and I 
have never preached or stated the subject so carelessly as 
to justify mistake, having been aware of the liability of be- 
ing misunderstood, and spoken always with caution. 

"And as the prevalent errors around us on the subject 
of regeneration admit the necessity of a change, only insist- 
ing that it is gradual, the doctrine of instantaneous regener- 
ation has been, ever since my residence here, the Thermop- 
ylae of the battle, and I have dwelt more on this than on 
any other topic in theology. As to moral suasion, I hold to 
none, and never have held to anj'^ of which revealed truth is 
not the means, and the special influence of the Holy Spirit 
the efiicient cause. On this subject, also, I have always 
spoken with guarded precision, knowing the liability to mis- 
conception amid sagacious opponents. 

" ' Modify the Calvinistic system ioi its essential parts 
and in its vital interests!* If I am possessed of the powers 
you ascribe to me, it must be admitted that I understand 
what are the essential parts and vital interests of Calvinism, 
and of course have a better opportunity to judge of my own 
opinions and joreaching than those Avho hear me transiently ; 
and I deny that I am modifying or changing the essential 
doctrines, or affecting the vital interest of Calvinism. In 
respect to 'new views,' thev had reference to ray mode of 


stating, proving, and answering objections to those very 
doctrines. I appreciate, however, my folly in using such a 
term without more definite explanation of what I meant by 
it. But I never thought or said I had discovered any new 
fundamental doctrines, or given up any old ones, or so mod- 
ified the Calvinistic doctrines as to affect the system vitally. 
"I had in my mind, at the time, those fathers in the 
Church to whose mode of preaching on decrees and election 
you alluded as in some respects exceptionable, and to the 
very things which you admit to be defects. But on this 
subject I can not now express my meaning better than in a 
note to my review of the Christian Examiner, in which I re- 
ply to a similar accusation brought against modern Calvin- 

* "The reviewer had pronounced the statement of doctrines in my ser- 
mon entitled 'The Faith once delivered to the Saints' decidedly anti- 
Calvinistic. Dr. Channing had said, 'It is a plain matter of fact that 
the hard features of that religious system which has been ' ' received by 
tradition from our fathers" are greatly softened, and that a necessity is 
felt by those who hold it of accommodating their representations of it 
more and more to the improved philosophy of the human mind, and to 
the undeniable principles of natural and revealed religion. Uncondition- 
al election is seldom heard of among us. The imputation of Adam's sin 
to his posterity is hastening to join the exploded doctrine of transubstan- 
tiation. The more revolting representations of man's state by nature are 
judiciously kept out of sight, and, what is of still greater importance, 
preaching is incomparably more practical than formerly.' 

"In reply to this statement of Dr. C I say: 'If the meaning of 

Mr. Channing be that the doctrines which, as mere abstract positions, wear 
a repelling aspect, as now explained seem to be the regular parts of a 
great system of moral government, in the administration of which justice 
and mercy are reconciled, and that mental philosophy has lent her aid in 
this exposition ; that the doctrine of election is now so stated as admits 
of accountability and punishment, and stops the mouths of gainsayers ; 
that the imputation of Adam's sin and Christ's righteousness are so stated 


" My remark that three fourths of my brethren might be 
alarmed, etc., was, in the first place, a conversational hyper- 
bole ; and, in the next place, I merely meant that many, on 
hearing my expositions, would feel that my strokes fell upon 
their philosophy, which, having identified with their doc- 
trines, they would be alarmed. But I did not say or think 
that three fourths of my brethren, or any portion of them, 
on understanding my views, would be alarmed at them as 
affecting the vital interests of Calvinism. 

"And as to ' hringing iny brethren right hy gradual and 
not hy violent ^ra7iS2Y2o;i,' really, my good brother, your im- 
agination runs riot ;' all I meant was, that the discrepancies 

as to appear both practicable and rational ; and that the doctrine of total 
depravity is now explained in a manner which shows both the falsehood 
and absurdity of the statements and objections made concerning it by its 
opponents, or that, as the doctrines of the Bible are better understood, 
they produce an increase of practical preaching — it might all be admitted 
as a concise account of what we believe to be true. 

" 'But if Dr. C intends to insinuate or to say any one doctrine of 

the Reformation has been given up, or the principle abandoned on which 
it has always rested, we request him to review this position, and to fortify 
it by evidence, or abandon it. Not one of the first principles of the doc- 
trinal reformers has been abandoned, while eveiy one of them has been 
corroborated by a more accurate knowledge of mental philosophy and of 
scriptural interpretation. The entire system never stood so impregnable 
as now, and never appeared so intelligible, so reasonable, so amiable, and, 
at the same time, so terrible to guilty consciences as now. 

" 'And if Dr. C supposes that the doctrine of man's depravity, or 

the doctrine of election, is not preached as often as they were, and that 
Calvinists are holding their peace 5n these points, he follows his own im- 
agination instead of historical verity. AU the great doctrines of the Ref- 
ormation are preached more frequently, and more plainly and powerfully, 
by the orthodox in New England, than they were fifty or even thirty years 
ago, and their faithful exhibition is attended by the power of God in 
those increasing revivals of religion which are carrying salvation through 
our land.' " 

C0REESP02n)ENCE, 1829. 181 

of our philosophy were not of such consequence as to justi- 
fy the agitation of our churches by a public and perhaps an 
alienating controversy, and still less were it worthy of good 
men, at such a day, to obtrude their own peculiarities, and 
run a race of hobby-horses ; but that whatever changes were 
needed, or assimilation of views, should, without sounding 
a trumpet before us, be left to work their way gradually, as 
the result of time, experience, and free inquii-y, and the calm 
interchange of 023inions among ministerial brethren. 

" But, after ail, I can not admit the existence of ' new 
views^ or even explain my meaning without implying more 
in impression than is true in fact. The physician may by 
experience improve in the application of the general princi- 
ples of his art, without changing them, or affecting serious- 
ly their vital interests, and the observing husbandman may 
through life be acquiring valuable information, and making 
improvement in his aj^plication of the general laws of na- 
ture ; but should they say to a friend they had made some 
improvement in medicine or husbandry, would they be de- 
nounced as innovators or ridiculed as reformers, even though 
they should think it best to make no noise about the mat- 
ter, but let their works sj^eak for themselves ? On this sub- 
ject, brother, allow me to say that your irony is as unmerit- 
ed as it is severe; and I find no occasion to 'brace up,' inas- 
much as it has no sort of application to me. 

" ' Gosjjel can he so preached as to malce it palatable to 
the carnal heart."* An entire mistake. I said the doctrines 
of the Bible are reasonable in fact, and can be so explained 
and vindicated as to be made to commend themselves to 
every man's understanding and conscience, and stop ever;^_ 
mouth ; but I did not say, nor have I ever said or thoug'^^,^ 
that the doctrines can be made palatable to the ^^ ^^.^^ 
heart. To see intellectually, and approve the ^'^t^^of beino- 


and pursue the worse, is a common phenomenon of sinful 
mind. Still, though the heart is carnal, it is possible to ex- 
asperate it with irritating ^nd unreasonable expositions of 
the doctrines. And it is possible, by correct and judicious 
exhibitions in subject and manner, to allay the irritation 
which arises from misapprehension, and to bring the heart 
under such restraint by the convictions of the understand- 
ing, that its more sensible and outrageous enmity will not 
be apt to rise, while yet it is not reconciled, nor is the truth 

"You do not surely mean to deny the influence of tempt- 
ation from circumstances to create prejudice, and obstinacy, 
and opposition to the truth. This was the extent of my re- 
mark concerning the Jews. If their ignorance, and preju- 
dice, and worldly sacrifices in giving up the Mosaic econo- 
my had no special influence on the rulers of the nation, over 
and above the natural opposition of the heart to the truth, 
how came it to pass that priests and rulers should be so 
virulent and obstinate, while the common people, influenced 
by no such temptation, heard our Savior gladly ? And why 
is it that the Gospel does not in fact meet with the same 
opposition in orthodox congregations now that it met with 
from the Jews ? The absence of powerful temptation does 
not reconcile, but the presence of it greatly invigorates and 
inflames its enmity. 

'''•^ Tends to frustrate revivals.'' I can not but think that 

these tendencies of my views to frustrate revivals are of the 

same kind with those tendencies of the Unitarian system to 

produce eflfects that it never does produce, while it is at- 

■^nded with other effects in direct opposition to these. On 

*'^ subject you must forgive me this boasting, for I speak 

'''!pol ; but the fact is even so, that for four years it has 

*Tod I should be constantly employed in revivals of 


religion, in which I can not but hope that upward of four 
hundred souls have been inclined and enabled to embrace 
Jesus Christ as he is offered to them in the Gospel ; a num- 
ber more than double the results of my ministry, during the 
same time, in any other period of my life. 

"I only inquire how it would seem to you had you for 
the last four years been blessed to turn out an uncommon 
number of good speakers, to receive from me a solemn 
warning concerning your principles of elocution as tending 
to make bad speakers ! 

" In saying that I agreed with Dr. Taylor, I had reference 
to his views of actual sin as in all cases voluntary, and not 
the result of a natural necessity. Is this a novelty ? is it a 
heresy ? or a doctrine which is to tear up old foundations ? 
Until recently, in saying this, I supposed I agreed with you 
and Dr. Woods, and the great body of N"ew England di- 
vines, who hold to the doctrine of natural ability and moral 

"Am I to understand from your alarm that you think 
there are two sorts of actual sin, one voluntary, the other 
involuntary? and two sorts of qualifications for personal 
accountability, one including knowledge of law and natural 
ability, and the other utterly excluding it, so that one class 
of subjects may be sent to hell justly, in circumstances 
which would exonerate another class entirely from all 
blame ? I am not an alarmist, but is it true, brother, that 
in the most important theological seminary in our land, the 
philosophy of free agency and the nature of sin are so ex- 
plained as by implication to deny the distinction between 
natural and moral inability, and render it naturally impossi- 
ble for a sinner to make to himself a new heart? And are 
we, who hold to different views of the nature of sin and free 
agency, already called upon for explanation on peril of being 
suspected of heresy ? 


" In uniting my friends at Andover in an argument with 
myself in discussing the subject of infant character and con- 
dition, I have certainly sinned ignorantly and in unbelief; 
but, as at present advised, your request will be sacredly re- 
garded, and in time to come I shall speak for myself only, 
and such as may agree with me. 

" You perceive, then, that I do say, as you anticipated I 
might, not only that much of your aj^prehension is ground- 
less, but that all of it is the result of misapprehension and 
mistake. I admit, however, that if my preaching produces 
misapprehension in the minds of others, without any thing 
to account for it on their part, I ought to regard it as the 
result of some defect in my mode of exhibition. I am sur- 
prised, however, that you should think that the charge of 
Arminianism by hyper-Calvinists, or anti-Calvinists, should 
need an explanation. 

"The latter have for a long time charged me w^ith Ar- 
minianism because I preached free agency, which they in- 
sisted Calvinism denied, and so explained the doctrine of 
free agency and dependence as stopped their mouths and 
superseded their power of misrepresentation and proselyt- 
ism ; and this has been my sin against some of this class in 
this city. Others have claimed me for the same reason that 
they have claimed Brother Stuart, because it is hard to kick 
against the pricks, and much easier to claim an oj^ponent 
than to answer him. Others have claimed me, also, because 
they have so long caricatured Calvinism, that w^hen they 
hear it truly stated they have no way to shield themselves 
against the reaction of an abused public confidence but to 
cry out, Oh, that is not Calvinism, it is good Arminianism ! 
This is the game which has been playing in this city, and I 
know of nothing but the interposition of such fears as you 
express that can avert the day of retribution, followed by a 


glorious reaction of public sentiment in favor of unpervert- 
ed evangelical doctrine. 

"But you will say, Why should Calvinists be alarmed? 
Hyper-Calvinists are alarmed for the same reason that some 
of them were alarmed in the beginning at Andover divini- 
ty as not uj) to the mark — as mere milk and water — as run- 
ning down orthodoxy, and verging to Arminianism; and 
for the same reason that some of them are alarmed now at 
the alleged apostasy of Dr. Woods on certain points from 
"New Divinity to Old Calvinism. 

" Others, some ministers and more church members, who 
had been sitting for years in the quietude of Arminian in- 
action, waiting ' God's time' to come and move them, and 
liking God's time best of all, because it came so slowly and 
ended so soon, and gave such long and glorious intervals 
for covetousness and sloth, have been alarmed lest I should 
put men up to action before God's time, and have been 
pained at my reproof of their sloth and perversion of the 
doctrine of divine sovereignty and dependence, as well as 
by the earnest importunity with which I inculcated the duty 
and the motives to immediate action. 

" They called it Arminianism, and went to sleep in their 
doctrinal sloth and profound self-complacency. It may be 
that it is the ' echo' of some such sermons which has reach- 
ed your ears as being of Arminian tendency; for with some 
men all is Arminian which is not Antinomian. But my 
brethren who are not hyper - Calvinists, and who are my 
friends, why should any of them be alarmed ? That is the 
question I wish them to answer, and I am all meekness to 
receive reproof or admonition, and all alacrity to reform, 
when my brethren, by whose confidence in me I have, un- 
der God, been sustained and carried through certainly the 
most arduous and difficult, and I hope it may yet prove to 


be the most useful part of my life, shall point out the well- 
founded, well-authenticated cause of their solicitude. 

" I may here say that those of my brethren who have 
heard me most, and best understood my mode of expound- 
ing and vindicating the doctrines of the Bible, are not 

alarmed ; and until the single exception of Dr. C was 

stated to me, I had no apprehension that any one in whose 
confidence I had a right to rely had any such fears as your 
letter indicates, or even any serious apprehensions at all; 
for the alarm of some of my brethren, those with whom for 
so long a time I had buckled on the harness, and with whom 
I took it for granted that my orthodoxy stood justly above 
suspicion, I can not account, except by the unusual concur- 
rence of circumstances, and the facility with which fear and 
suspicion, once awakened, are projDagated even among good 

" It is true that in assailing error I have not, in animated 
argument, measured out my language with the accuracy of 
metaphysical definition, and it is very probable that meta- 
physical ears have been startled, and heard heresy in my 
hyperboles and metaphors ; still, the common people have 
heard me gladly, and have smelt no heresy in my doctrine 
that I can learn, and my Kev. friend and brother, the Bart- 
lett Professor of Sacred Rhetoric at Andover, will not, I am 
sure, hang or burn me for any sins of that sort. 

" There may be another cause or occasion of misappre- 
hension in those who hear me transiently, in the fact that 
my preaching, until recently, has been wholly adapted to 
the exigencies of a revival ; consequently, knowing the state 
of the congregation, I have gone to the Bible for remedies, 
as the physician would go to the store of the apothecary, 
to be applied, not in contempt of system, but in the accom- 
modation of elementary scriptural truth to personal exigen- 


cies, under the guidance of experience and common sense, 
rightly dividing the word of truth, and giving to every one 
his portion in due season. 

" But, incidental to such preaching, and heard every Sab- 
bath by from fifty to one hundred strangers, from all parts 
of Kew England, of all sorts of philosophy, orthodoxy, be- 
lief and unbelief, and unacquainted with my particular ob- 
ject and entire system of doctrine, and unacquainted with 
what I had jDreached and explained to prepare the way for 
what they then heard, or with what I might next preach to 
guard and balance it, it would hardly fail that some should 
misunderstand. From this cause, I can not doubt that ru- 
mors have gone abroad, occasioned, not by the faults of my 
preaching, but by its correct adaptation to the condition of 
my stated hearers. 

" The state of the community in which my labors com- 
menced and have been continued affords another occasion 
of misapprehension and alarm to some. I found it to be 
the fact that, between hyper -Calvinistic and philosophical 
necessitarian tendencies, the doctrine of dependence had 
been reiterated and overstated, till it had produced exten- 
sively in the community the results of fatalism with multi- 
tudes. If free agency was admitted at all, it was so out of 
sight or so dimly seen in the background that tl large por- 
tion of the community had ceased to feel the practical influ- 
ence of the doctrine of accountability, while many were in 
theory, and more in feeling, fatalists. 

"In this condition the people did not need high-toned 
Calvinism on the point of dependence ; they had been cram- 
med with it, and were dying with excessive aliment, and 
needed a long and vigorous prescription of free agency to 
produce an alterative, and render the truth salutary by ad- 
ministering the proper portions in due season. Nor was 


there for a long time any danger of overaction on the sub- 
ject of free agency and natural ability. The Antinomian- 
ism of perverted Calvinism, and the fatality of philosophical 
necessity, made it an obvious policy and an imperious duty 
to indoctrinate the community thoroughly in the true prin- 
ciples of God's moral government, and in the nature, reality, 
and responsibilities of free agency ; it had been any thing 
rather than wisdom, it had been infatuation, to have swung 
out with such preaching as you commend. If it would have 
done good to some, of which I have no doubt it would, I am 
confident it would have done great evil to very many more. 
Anti-Calvinists would have been needlessly but certainly 
confirmed in their prejudices, and would have girded more 
closely their cloak of error, which now the balanced exhibi- 
tions of truth are inclining many to hold loosely, and not a 
few to cast away. 

" I did not doubt, when my labors commenced here, that 
the time would come Avhen the whole system in its just 
proportions might be exhibited without repellancy and with 
increased efiect ; and before I received your letter, I had felt 
the propriety of beginning to balance the overactings of free 
agency by giving more prominence, and frequency, and 
power to the doctrine of absolute dependence on the Holy 

"That I have made no mistake in judgment I will not 
say, but of this I am confident, that no man can be qualified 
to fill the station to which God has called me, and to meet 
the responsibilities that have rested on me, without acting 
for himself upon some general plan which he alone can fully 
comprehend, and can not stop at every step to vindicate and 
explain ; and if I possess the capacity which you ascribe to 
me, I think my expectations were not unreasonable that my 
brethren would rej)ose in me the confidence which is indis- 


pensable to success on the part of every man whom God 
calls to a high station and high duties in this eventful day. 

"The equity of this principle you will not deny. The vio- 
lation of it in respect to some of the faculty of your semi- 
nary you, I know, felt keenly ; whether I have any cause to 
complain in this respect, I may be too much interested to 
decide. But I have too long delayed to mention what I re- 
gard as the ' sine qua non^ All your fears concerning all 
the preceding were only concurring and amplificatory causes, 
which had never waked up and run together but for the at- 
traction of this one. I allude to that ' battery,' as you call 
it, which 'just in this solemn conjunction is opened at New 
Haven,' and one of the great guns of which you seem to 
think I have engaged to man at Boston. 

"Now against this assumed coalition between me and 
Brother Taylor I protest ; for no man's opinions will I con- 
sent to be made answerable, by common fame or suspicion, 
and only as I specifically adopt and profess them. I love 
Brother Taylor and New Haven, and I love Brother Woods 
and Andover ; with both I agree, as I suppose, in all the fun- 
damental doctrines, and with both on some points of specu- 
lation I differ, as they do from one another. 

" You conjure me, unless constrained by an overwhelming 
sense of duty, to pause, re-examine, read, and pray, before I 
pass the Rubicon. I have already told you I have no Ru- 
bicon to pass ; and as to reading, and re-examination, and 
prayer, it is what I have been about, especially the three 
past years : it has been my chief employment to revise my 
sermons, and collect the cream of the last thirty years' la- 
bor; and if I have ever preached with truth and discretion, 
it is since I have been in Boston. 

" On reviewing the whole of my course under the urgen- 
cy of your expostulation, which avails with my heart and 


head more than that of ahnost any other man, I perceive but 
two things which demand my attention ; the first is, to go 
on, as the state of this community admits, in adjusting the 
symmetrical proportions of the systems of free agency and 
dependence ; the other is, since I am apprised of the need of 
it, to be as careful to explain and guard against misconception 
on the subject of dependence on the Holy Spirit as I have 
been in establishing the doctrine of free agency in opposition 
to fatalism ; but as to my hyperboles and metaphors, alas ! I 
shall despair of ever reducing them to logical precision, but 
shall probably go on sinning as I have done. 

"It is my hope and expectation that the preceding ex- 
planations will be satisfactory ; a work which for few men 
in this world, worn down and exhausted as I have been by 
other cares and labors, would I have attempted, almost, my 
good brother, for no one but yourself, whom certainly above 
most this side heaven I love and confide in. 

" Should any point remain unexplained about which your 
fears still cluster, you will have the goodness to tell me in 
short metre, definitely, wherein you think me in error, and 
what you take to be the truth in the case. But should the 
account which I have given of myself and my stewardship 
be satisfactory, I need not ask you to take the responsibility 
of extending the satisfaction to all Avho have seen your let- 
ter to me, or whose fears your own fear and conversatioi* 
may have excited." 

Of this correspondence Dr. Beecher, in later years, wrote 
as follows : 

" Dr. Porter's letter, falling in with other concurring cir- 
cumstances, made it necessary for me to undertake a serious 
exposition of my views and vindication of my mode of 
preaching, and has served to call forth and embody in a 


permanent form thoughts, plans, views of doctrine, and a 
policy of ministerial action and of ministerial wisdom which 
otherwise must, by the stream of care, have been soon ob- 
literated from my own recollection, and have remained dis- 
tinctly only in the book of God. 

" It was one of the greatest trials of my life to find the 
confidence of a tried friend failing me at a time when the 
clouds were dark, the waves of an angry controversy roll- 
ing on, the enemy exulting, and my own health failing un- 
der public and domestic troubles. But these and the death 
of Dr. Chaplin brought me low in health, and occasioned a 
year of darkness, bodily debility, and mental distress such 
as I shall not soon forget. The Lord delivered me, but the 
wormwood and the gall I have still in remembrance. 

" This letter was carried by myself to Andover and read 
to Dr. Porter, in the presence of Dr. Woods, Prof Stuart, 
Dr. Justin Edwards, Mr. Cornelius, and several others. Dr. 
Porter professed himself relieved and satisfied. He said 
there was one point, though not material, on which his mind 
was in suspense, and which he should like to look at again. 
A large portion of the next day was devoted to familiar, 
friendly conversation on the subject of the letter, in which 
he expressed the most cordial and entire satisfaction in re- 
spect to my soundness. 

" I left the letter in his hands for perusal, with the under- 
standing that it would be returned, as soon after it was, 
with a written note, reiterating, and in stronger terms than 
in conversation, his satisfaction with the sentiments I had 
expressed, and the explanations I had given in the letter. 

*' It was perhaps a year after that he signified his desire 
to read the letter again ; and after a short time he returned 
it, with another note, increasing in the intensity and cordial- 
ity of the terms in which he expressed his unqualified appro- 


bation of my views and expositions contained in the letter, 
and his pleasure and gratitude at what he was pleased to 
call the very Christian manner in which I had borne and re- 
plied to the trying implications of his letter. 

" I have only to add that these reiterated declarations of 
satisfaction and confidence of my brother, Dr. Porter, were 
never to me reversed, but were, on my consultation with him 
concerning my duty in accepting the call to Lane Seminary, 
renewed. I stated expressly that I would not go to the 
West without the confidence and support of those friends 
on whom I had been accustomed to rely, and he not only 
repeated his assurances of confidence as aforetime, but, on 
the conditions I had stated, advised me to accept the call." 

The reader will bear in mind that this correspondence 
was unknown to the public at the time, a few individuals 
only being made acquainted with the facts, and that it was 
not until eight or nine years after that the letters were pub- 
lished, in a manner hereafter to be considered. 




In April, 1829, Dr. Tyler was installed in Portland, Maine, 
over the church left vacant by the death of the lamented 
Payson. Dr. Beecher was invited to preach on the occa- 
sion. Many circumstances combined to make the occasion 
one of unusual interest — his long and intimate friendship 
with the candidate; the associations connected with Dr. 
Payson, under whose ministry Mrs. Beecher had been con- 
verted ; and the present posture of the Unitarian controver- 
sy. The subject chosen, as the title of the sermon indicates, 
was one well suited to develop the peculiar characteristics 
of the speaker, and meet the demands of the moment. It 
was an elaborate argument to show that the evangelical sys- 
tem, as rejected by Unitarians, is the very substance of 
the Gospel. A few extracts from the discourse are here 
presented : 

" I am now to show that the Gospel which Paul preached 
is the true Gospel. It is a strong presumptive argument of 
its truth that it is eminently a rational system. In natural 
philosophy, that is rational which accords with the laws of 
the material world, and in the divine moral government 
that is rational which corresponds with the principles of 
mind and the nature of law ; and such, eminently, is the 
Gospel which Paul preached. It recognizes every where 
God as a lawgiver, and man as a free agent, perverted and 
ruined by sin ; the law as unable to sustain its own moral 
power, and forgive and reclaim, while a substitute for the 

Vol. II.— I 


execution of the penalty is announced, originating in the 
wisdom and emanating from the love of God ; oflered on 
terms, and attended by aid, and guarded from perversion 
by moral checks, which, taken together, bring upon our de- 
praved nature j)owerful restraints from sin, and concentrate 
upon the mind an amount of motive in favor of a return to 
loyalty as great as can be conceived to be possible, and 
such as must have at least a powerful tendency to do what 
the apostle declares the law could not do. 

" The more the elements of this Gospel accordiug to Paul 
are scrutinized, the more undenrable will their rationality 
appear. Is it not rational that God should create intelligent, 
voluntary, accountable beings? Why should his benevo- 
lence be satisfied with multiplying worlds and brute ani- 
mals ? Why not surround himself with moral beings, who 
can behold his glory, feel his goodness, obey his will, and 
celebrate his praise ? And if it be wise and good to give 
being to an intelligent universe, why should it be abandoned 
to anarchy and misrule ? How could intelligent beings, free 
agents, be governed but by the moral influence of law ? and 
who could legislate for the universe but God? and what 
better rule of obligation than the moral law, adapted to all 
minds, and all worlds, and all periods of duration — a law 
which discloses the relations and duties of all rational be- 
ings to the Creator and to one another, and binds them in 
sweet fellowship, and moves them to a delightful, benevo- 
lent activity ? 

" And if this law, as the apostle declares, is holy, just, and 
good, and the bond of perfectness, is it not rational that its 
influence over moral beings should be sustained by rewards 
and punishments according to deeds ? In what other way 
can free agents be governed, and the rational and social en- 
joyment of the universe sustained ? Is it not rational that 


moral, accountable beings should be able to sin ? Is it pos- 
sible by force to prevent transgression and not destroy ac- 
countability ? Does not the ability tO obey include, neces- 
sarily, the ability to transgress ? Is it possible to form free 
agents, and set up a moral government, without bestowing 
on creatures the terrific capacity of transgression and desert 
of punishment ? And have not facts evinced, though Paul 
had not taught it, that all men have sinned, and come under 
the high penalty of the violated law ? 

"But, in such a case, is not the doctrine of the apostle ra- 
tional, that by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified ? 
Would not the abolition of the rewards of law destroy ut- 
terly their influence ? and would not the remission of the 
penalty, upon conditions which every subject believes he 
certainly shall comply with and escape punishment, equally 
abohsh the penalty and destroy its power ? Could God an- 
nihilate the attraction of gravity, and still govern the nat- 
ural world by its agency ? Could he at all more annihilate 
rewards and punishments, and yet maintain the moral gov- 
ernment of the universe by his law ? * * * 

" Our first conclusion, in view of the past discussion, is, 
that we know with moral certainty what is the true Gos- 
pel. By moral certainty I mean that certainty which is the 
result of evidence, and can not be fallacious without throw- 
ing discredit on all our powers of reasoning, and establish- 
ing the dominion of universal skepticism. The secular con- 
cerns of the world move on by the guidance of such knowl- 
edge, which, if it be not as certain as demonstration, does 
nevertheless create and justify, for all practical purposes, a 
confidence as safe and unwavering. 

" I am aware that pretensions to knowledge on the sub- 
ject of religion are treated with derision when they go to 
set aside favorite opinions, and to disturb the conscience by 


the implication of criminal and destructive error.' That, in 
the track of ' gifted minds,' who have examined and reason- 
ed only to discover their past mistakes and present igno- 
rance, any one should pretend to knowledge, is deemed the 
height of arrogance. 

" What, then, is the meaning of these high pretensions to 
ignorance and uncertainty ? Is it meant that man, half di- 
vine, almost infinite, can not reason ? That reason itself, 
godlike reason, is but a meteor of the night, that 'guides to 
bewilder, and dazzles to blind ?' Or is it meant that her eye 
is keen and comprehensive, and her decisions the basis of 
knowledge on all subjects of temporal interest, while sad 
eclipse and disastrous twihght have dimmed her vision and 
mocked her efibrts to obtain knowledge on all the more im- 
portant interests of eternity? On which horn of the dilem- 
ma will the advocates of uncertainty choose to hang? Will 
it be pretended that man is not capable of knowledge, and 
that there is no difierence between the confidence inspired 
by sophistry, and that which is the result of valid evidence 
and sound reasoning ? Of what use, then, is reason ? and 
of what avail is evidence, as the means of knowledge ? and 
what advantage has the truth above error ? and what, after 
all, is the boasted illumination of the nineteenth century but 
an accumulation of doubtful doubts ? 

" If the subject of religion is made an exception, and rea- 
son, keen-sighted every where beside, is blind here, then by 
what fallacy has it come to pass that her vision should fail 
just where it is most needed, and that darkness and doubt 
should settle down upon those subjects which respect our 
eternal well-being ? nay, should gather about the Bible, sent 
from heaven to shine as a light in a dark place ; not on the 
law, whose precept is as plain as the fact is of its transgres- 
sion, but upon the Gospel, which alone can answer the 



question, ' How shall man be just with God V — a question 
which Socrates could not answer, and to which the heavens, 
with all their hosts of suns and stars, have sent down no 
reply ; which no breeze has wafted to the listening ear, no 
breath of morning whispered, no grateful incense of rose or 
violet indicated, no ' smile of beauty told ?' Yes, why has 
this darkness fallen upon the Gospel, without which we could 
liave known our guilt and wretchedness, but loith which, it 
seems, no man can discover the certain means of escape ? 

" Why, again would we ask, can we not Tinoio what is the 
Gospel with moral certainty? Can there be a subject on 
which certainty is more urgently needed ? Did God make 
the Gospel obscure on purpose, or was he unable to make 
it plain ? Does he not speak of it as if it were plain, and 
treat his subjects as if it were so, commanding his minis- 
ters to preach it, and their hearers to receive it, as the con- 
dition of eternal life ? And yet is the whole to which it is 
possible to attain some modest conjectures about Avhat may 
be the Gospel, which shall subject to the laugh of scorn all 
pretensions to knowledge on the subject? * h; * 

" That all do in reality reject the Gospel atonement who, 
through inattention, or want of information, or manifold 
temptations, can not be said positively to believe it, we do 
not say. Theirs, possibly, may be the sin of ignorance, or 
of wavering and doubt. Much less do we say that ail re- 
nounce Christianity who attend the ministrations of those 
who deny the atonement and justification by faith. For 
these doctrines have been eradicated from the churches of 
the Pilgrims, not at first by opposing them, but by omitting 
to preach them ; and the New Gospel has been introduced, 
not by the pulpit first, but by the press and at the fireside. 
A cautious silence was maintained on the subject until the 
more aged and evangelical portion of the congregation vf ere 


gathered to their fathers, while the rising generation, nnin- 
structed in the truth, and, by misrepresentation, prejudiced 
against it, were gradually initiated into the new faith. 

"And even now there is remaining too much recollection 
and belief of early Biblical instruction to render, the une- 
quivocal denial of the atonement safe. To this hour there 
are not a few who can not be persuaded that their ministers 
reject the atonement in the evangelical sense ; for their min- 
isters have learned to use terms which the initiated under- 
stand in the anti-evangelical sense, and which persons evan- 
gelically inclined misunderstand in the evangelical sense — 
terms which by one class of the audience are understood 
to deny the atonement, and by another to teach it. If, at 
times, from the pulpit or the press, the atonement is denied 
and ridiculed with an explicitness which creates alarm, and 
these people apply to their ministers for explanation what 
was said and meant, and is still believed, is taken back, and 
modified, and explained away as no honest man — no Chris- 
tian would dare to do. Our meaning is, that those who 
possess the means of knowledge, and who do, understand- 
ingly, reject the atonement, do reject the Gospel and re- 
nounce Christianity ; and when we consider that some in 
this country have been understood to avow their unquali- 
fied disbelief in the inspiration of the Bible, and that, in the 
community which receives the instruction and illustrates 
the tendency of the New Gospel, much of the ancient im- 
plicit confidence in the Bible as the rule of faith is gone, 
and supplanted by irreverence and doubt, and to a fearful ex- 
tent by absolute infidelity — when we consider these things, 
we are prepared to meet the reaction of invidious feelings 
which may be provoked by the avowal that the renuncia- 
tion of the atonement is the renunciation of Christianity. 
We are not of the number who will stand idle and mute, 


while, in the name of Christ and by his nominal ministers, 
the fabric of Christianity is taken down piecemeal from the 
topstone to the foundation, and removed from the commu- 
nity, leaving behind a cheerless infidelity. 

" It ought to be understood by the people — it will be un- 
derstood, that the controversy which agitates ISTew^ En- 
gland respects not merely the doctrines of the Bible, but the 
Bible itself. To this length the same controversy has gone 
in Germany w^ith a tremendous reaction ; and to the same 
result it is fast hastening in this country, with a reaction 
still more glorious to the cause of truth and the Church of 
God ; for, though some indications of alarm, and the return 
of a more cautious policy appear, it is too late to stop the 
causes which have been put in operation. The dark waters 
of infidelity wdll scorn and defy restraint, and will roll on, 
sweeping away, one after another, all forms of Christianity 
wdiich are not built on the rock, and leaving only two par- 
ties, those w^ho believe in the atonement and in the Bible, 
and ojDcn infidels.^' 

While thus carrying on war in earnest against a real ene- 
my. Dr. Beecher was extremely reluctant to be called off to 
engage in conflict with brethren who held the fundamentals 
of religion as firmly as himself. Yet it was in this same 
year (1829) that Dr. Tyler published his "strictures" on the 
views of Dr. Taylor, of New Haven. Already, in 1828, the 
latter had been openly charged by Messrs. Hewitt, and Har- 
vey, and others with Arminian and Pelagian heresy, and in 
the celebrated Concio ad Clerum had fairly thrown down the 
gauntlet to his assailants. Already the w-ar of pamphlets 
and periodicals had passed through its earlier stages, when 
the Portland divine entered the lists, and smote with lance's 
point the shield of the Kew Haven professor, declaring, 


"He has adopted principles in his explanations and state- 
ments which will lead, by inevitable consequence, to the de- 
nial of important doctrines ; and that his speculations will 
pave the way for the gradual influx of error upon the Amer- 
ican churches." 

At the same time he wrote to Dr. Beecher, saying that he 
hoped that what he had done would not exclude him from 
the pale of friendship. To this Dr. Beecher replied as fol- 

"Boston, March, 1830. 

" Nothing is farther from the reality than the forfeiture 
of my friendship by the course you have taken. You have 
only exercised the right of conscience and free inquiry, which 
we all must do unless we would sink down into nerveless, 
indiscriminating theology, or come under the power of a 
theological despotism as arbitrary as the power of caste or 
of popeiy. I know, too, you have acted conscientiously and 
with deliberation, and not without pain; and though on 
both sides, and from the beginning, I have exerted every 
atom of my influence to avert a rupture and a public con- 
tix)versy, yet, when I became convinced that it must come, 
there is no one on your side to whom I should have com- 
mitted the responsibility of writing with as much cheerful- 
ness as to yourself. 

"My reason for not replying to your letter sooner was 
the utter impossibility of doing it. The solicitude I had felt, 
and the efibrts I had made with Nettleton and at Andover, 
had brought me to the oie pliis^ and left me only to choose 
between letting the subject alone or absolute prostration. 
I did think that you misunderstood Dr. Taylor, and that it 
was a pity for two such men to come before the public to 
settle points some of which could not fail to be adjusted by 
correspondence or conversation. I think so still ; for if a 


man is obscure, or may be understood differently from what 
he means, that does not authorize the charge or the suspicion 
of heresy until it be well ascertained that he does adopt the 
construction which is given to his words; and in this re- 
spect, however severely he may deserve to be censured as a 
philologist, as a theologian he has been not only misappre- 
hended, but misrepresented in circumstances in which the 
means existed and the obligation of ascertaining his meaning 
correctly, and of preventing logomachy and vain jangling; 
and if I could have written to you, I should have urged you 
not to j^ublish till you had submitted your remarks to Tay- 
lor and received his reply, and I believe that such was the 
verbal advice which I sent by Brother Pond. 

" I disapproved and regretted that you began with notes 
of alarm, which in a controversy is begging the question in 
the outset, and, by exciting on the one part fear and feeling, 
and on the other a sense of unmerited distrust and injury, 
tends only to disqualify writers and readers on both sides 
for a fair and calm logical discussion. I therefore should 
have been better pleased witlrthe tocsin at the close of this 
discussion, when you should have shown that you correctly 
understood Taylor, and that what he holds is wrong, and as 
wrong and dangerous as you supposed. 

"I could have appreciated the extract from Connecticut 
better if you had given me the name of the Litchfield broth- 
er ; but I have received representations even from Brother 
Nettleton which demanded afterward, as facts disclosed in 
his presence evinced, so much abatement and modification 
as convinced me that more has been and is still to be feared 
from excess of feeling, and prejudice, and precipitancy, than 
from all other causes. There has from the beginning been 
in the community a feverish state of feeling which has great- 
ly pained and alarmed me, and which made me the more 



deprecate the introductory alarms of your letter. We may 
in this way make a fire which we can not put out, but, in 
my behef, shall never in this way make peace. 

" I do not anticipate that the Christian Spectator is on its 
' last legs,' or will be while efforts are made to arrest dis- 
cussion and free inquiry by putting it down. And while I 
have never made myself responsible for all the opinions of 
Brother Taylor, or regarded his expositions as the most fe- 
licitous, and have regretted that the subject should have been 
brought up in the form of controversy, and have felt as if all 
which is material in his opinions might have been taught 
without alarm, I can not sympathize with you in the fears 
that his talents are employed in ' giving currency to danger- 
ous errors.' 

"The account of the conduct of his students in Litchfield 
county betrays, I should think, some excitement of feeling, 
and does not correspond with any thing which I have seen 
in any of them with whom I have been conversant, and is a 
loose, and, I should think, unfair way of testing the merits of 
doctrinal opinions in theology. If they are impertinent, and 
do declaim against old members, and boast of new light, etc., 
they have their reward for their folly in just public disap- 
probation, which probably will not fail to teach them better 

" But, brother, there are those whose conduct and con- 
versation becometh the Gospel — very precious young men, 
whom God delights to honor, and who meekly delight to 
honor God; and my full belief is that no seminary has sent 
out more young men of piety and promise, according to 
numbers, than the seminary at New Haven ; and, according 
to the best information I can obtain, they have been distin- 
guished as revival men rather than otherwise ; and if they 
have a few is77is, they soon rub off in action, and they be- 


come most excellent ministers ; and it grieves me to see you 
feel and hear you speak of such blessings to the Church, and 
so much needed, in such terms of alarm and depreciation. 
Your correspondent thinks the New Haven system radical- 
ly Arminian. He is doubtless honest, and just as certain- 
ly mistaken, if I am competent to understand principles and 

" I have examined the passages commented on by Brother 
ISTettleton, and am grieved, and amazed, and alarmed that so 
good a man should be able to put upon them the construc- 
tion which he does, and that in the teeth of the passages 
which he quotes, and, as it seems to me, in disregard of all 
the equitable rules of exposition — for a writer is not to be 
compelled to mean what, through inadvertence or obscurity, 
his language may be made to mean, but what, upon a fair 
comparison with his object and argument, and of his ex- 
pressions one with another, he actually does mean ; and I 
have never met with an instance, as it appears to me, of more 
flagrant injustice than the sentiment ascribed to Taylor by 
Brother Nettleton. Whether his sentiments are true or 
not, as I understand him they are precisely those which 
Nettleton himself has so triumphantly urged in favor of 
immediate submission against those who plead for waiting 
God's time. 

" It is his object to reconcile exhortations to immediate 
duty with dependence, and the order of his thoughts, as I 
understand them, is as follows: 1. The sinner is authorized 
to regard actual obedience to divine requirement as an event 
which may attend an immediate attempt to do the duty. 
Not as a result, however, of unaided free agency and ability, 
and not as the result of common grace yielded to or used by 
the sinner without God's doing more at one time than an- 
other, but as the result of special grace, rendering present 



endeavor effectual; that no sinner has any evidence that 
this concurrence of special grace will not attend his imme- 
diate effort to obey, and that no minister has a right to as- 
sure him, or can prove that God may not attend an imme- 
diate effort with special grace ; and that to tell the sinner 
that he will not submit of himself, and that God at any defi- 
nite moment will not concur to make him willing, will un- 
avoidably, for the time, preclude all effort to submit ; for if 
it be certain that the sinner will not and that God will not 
subdue his will, what possible motive can there be to effort, 
and what possible alternative but waiting God's time ? 

" Brother Taylor says, then, that the possibility of divine 
special concurrence must be admitted as a rational ground 
of present effort ; that the call, and special grace, and the 
sinner's own effort may be coincident ; and Brother Nettle- 
ton represents him as saying that the sinner is authorized to 
believe that he shall repent, etc., without special grace. 
Not only that he is able, as a free agent, to make himself a 
new heart, but that he will do it without any thing special 
on the part of God. Now there is certainly a broad chasm 
between a sinner's having no evidence that special grace 
will act without an immediate effort to repent, and he being 
authorized to believe that he certainly shall succeed, and 
that, too, without special grace. 

" If any thing Taylor has said can be made to mean this, 
the express contradiction of it in immediate connection, and 
his known opinions to the contrary, should have deterred 
Brother Nettleton from giving to his words such a construc- 
tion. If he has sinned as a philologist, let him be punished 
by the critics, but let him not be charged by his theological 
brethren with holding what we know he does not hold, and 
what Zcan not perceive him to teach while he seems also to 
teach directly the contrary. 


" Brother Taylor no more places the Holy Spirit in the 
background than you, or I, or Brother Nettleton, and I am 
grieved and alarmed that he should be so misapprehended 
and misrepresented. 

"That Stuart and Emerson do not agree on all points 
with Taylor I should think to be true. It is true of myself. 
But that they regard his sentiments, in which he differs from 
them as you do, as fundamentally erroneous, and a ground 
of great and just alarm, though you have evidence of it 
which satisfies you, there has none of it ever come to my 
knowledge, and I do not believe it to be so. 

" As to the difficulties at the South and West, and New 
England's coming out, and Taylor's inability to stand or go- 
ing down stream — as all these are events in futurity, and I 
must say at one sitting all I have to say for the present, I 
can, of course, say but little. That he can be stopped by me 
or any one, as things now are, is beyond hope. If he is rad- 
ically wrong, the course which has been taken toward him 
from the time that Hewitt began to make the outcry until 
now, has, in my judgment, been calculated to do any thing 
rather than to arrest him or to check the prevalence of his 
sentiments ; and much as I shall deplore the event if your 
views of his sentiments and their tendency are correct, it is 
my most full and deliberate belief that they will prevail and 
predominate, both in Kew England and elsewhere, if he con- 
tinue to be treated as he has been. 

" That I am wholly without apprehension when so many 
are alarmed, it would be the affectation of confidence to say. 
That the fears of evil are, however, greatly exaggerated, I 
have no doubt ; and that Brother Taylor and his school will 
be eminently and permanently useful, is my hope and ex- 
pectation. I wish I could say that I had, or could see that 
I had, no reason to fear that the theology of New England 


is running down again to natural inability, and old Oalvin- 
ism, and waiting God's time, and formality, and triangular- 

" But I do not permit myself to be agitated in this re- 
spect. I believe that God has seen reasons for having the 
system of Calvinism re-examined and discussed by a new 
and original investigation of all the points, and that the re- 
sult will be the purging out of all the false philosophy which 
may have been mixed in with it, and leaving the mass like 
gold seven times purified. Who of us are to suffer the loss 
of the most wood and hay by the process I can not tell ; but 
all mine is at the Lord's service at any time ; and if all which 
is in New England should be brought out and laid in one 
pile, I think it would make a great bonfire." 

* As some readers may not be familiar with this term, we insert a brief 
extract from Whelpley's Triangle, written in 1816 : 

"There are a few points which go perpetually into the strain of preach- 
ing of certain gentlemen, and their scheme may be compared to a trian- 
gle, from which they never depart, and in which, if they step out of one 
angle, their next step is into another, the succeeding one into the one 
from which they started." 

Having enumerated the three points, viz.. Imputation, Inability, and 
Limited Atonement, he observes : 

"The whole of their doctrine, then, amounts to this, that a man is, in 
the first place, condemned, incapacitated, and eternally reprobated for 
the sin of Adam ; in the next place, that he is condemned over again for 
not doing what he is totally, in all respects, unable to do ; and, in the 
third place, that he is condemned, and doubly and trebly condemned, for 
not believing in a Savior who never died for him, and with whom he has 
no more to do than a fallen angel." 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1828-9. 207 



Edioard to Dr. Beecher. 

"October 15,1828. 

t; * * * jyjy mind is and has been uncommonly tran- 
quil. God has been and is very gracious to me, though I 
do not deserve the smallest favor, and is conducting me to 
a result which I have long expected from his mercy, while I 
have been daily becoming more conscious that from his jus- 
tice I deserve nothing but disappointment, and mourning, 
and lamentation, and woe. I think I see the hand of God in 
all the events which have befallen me, and I find daily rea- 
son to believe that at no time has he left me or forsaken me. 
The promises of his covenant of love are sure, and stand 
fast forever and ever. * * * 

" I trust that you will pray for me, and have faith in God 
that he will remember and answer all your prayers, and 
make me even more useful than you had ever hoped ; and 
that I may live and die humble and holy, depending alone 
on Christ, and doing all his will, and giving him all the 

Catharine to Edioard. 

"March 12,1829. 

" What you suggested on the character of God has been 

of essential service to us, and we have read the Bible with 

more pleasure and comfort since. And now, in reference to 

another subject on your theory of a former state, what do 


you say of Adam ? What is the reason that half the human 
race die in infancy, without any chance of being* aflected by 
a system of means, and what becomes of infants ? Just an- 
swer these questions simply, and let us think it out ; you 
do not know how much we speculate on these points. 

" One more question : What do you do with that famous 
fifth chapter of Romans ? How I wish you could help us in 
some of our speculations ! For instance, how strange it 
would seem to us to be told in any other case. Here is a be- 
ing you must love this very moment. If we found we did 
not love a person that we ought to love, we should consider 
it rational to take some time for it ; but here is an invisible 
being whom we are persuading minds to love on the in- 
stant. We have some speculations about this strange ina- 

" Oh how I wish you could sit by our fire, evenings, and 
help us out of our conjectures. One of our scholars, when 
pressed to love God immediately, said to Harriet, ' I don't 
see how people can love right off so as they do.' " 

Dr.Beecher to Catharine, 

" March, 1829. 
"A sinner never extinguishes obligation to love God, but 
he may so disqualify himself by ignorance or stupidity as 
that instruction and time shall be the only means by which, 
according to the laws of depraved mind, he can be brought 
back. And though it is proper to set up immediately the 
demand of the law to convince of sin, yet I do not suppose 
that we are bound, or that it is best to rely chiefly on per- 
emptory demands of immediate submission, for it is by truth 
seen and felt that the event is to be secured as really as if 
God did nothing. And God acts also by your means in 
proportion as they are wisely adapted ; and you will bring 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1828-9. 209 

the sinner to submit by pressing him with the reasons, and 
shedding light, lights light, sooner than if you merely reit- 
erate submit, submit^ suBiiix." 

Dr. BeecJier to Dr. Wisiier. 

"Boston, July 3, 1829. 

"iSTot a word was said by any one at Andover, except 

Mrs. C inquired, in a manner which I understood, but 

should not if I had not known something, whether Dr. Wis- 
ner would accept.* 

"In respect to your people, so far as I have heard, I 
should think there was a kind of taking for granted they 
have got to lose their minister. 

"As to the reasons /b?', those which have occurred to me 

"1. The great importance of such a department as pas- 
toral theology, and your qualifications, in many respects, be- 
yond any other man whom I know. 

" 2. The necessity of placing there immediately a man of 
weight, of character, discretion, and a business man. 

" 3. It is important that Andover and Boston should draw 
well together in time to come as in times past, and no one 
could exert a happier influence in that respect than yourself 

" 4. You have gone through with what may be called the 
first course of sermons on nearly all the subjects that occur 
in preaching to a congregation, and must preach old ser- 
mons, which will unharness your mind, or you must go over 
them by original study a second time, which, as the pleas- 
ure and excitement of discovery is superseded, will render 
the work, on some accounts, more irksome and difficult. The 
same discourse could much better, be revised for another 

* An effort was made to obtain Dr. Wisner as professor of Pastoral 


charge than be re-preached to the same people, who liave 
gotten about all your ideas on particular subjects. I could 
preach very little which would be new to my people at 
Litchfield on any subject ; they had got used to my thoughts. 

" 5. The admonitions in respect to your health. * * 

" 6. If, on account of health, or a call to some institution, it 
should be probable that you would remove soon, if not now, 
there would be strong reasons in favor of a present removal. 

"V. So far as the interests of Old South are concerned, I 
believe they are, in the first place, safe, and, secondly, may 
be so well provided for as that, on the whole, your useful- 
ness at Andover would be much greater than in your own 

" 8. I do not know who can go any better, if you do not, 
who is as well qualified, and I have some fears as to the next 
choice, if you do not accept. A bird in hand is worth two 
in the bush. You know I have great confidence in you. 

"By this time you will begin to think I am for getting 
you off; but there is the other side to come. 

"Brother Edwards is to be dismissed in a few weeks. 
We were constrained to give this advice in a confidential 
consultation last evening. Brother Green is laid by for the 
i:)resent by an affection of the throat or lungs — not sick, but 
hoarse, and is in a state of suspense, though w^e hope much, 
and yet not without fear. Edward will, I trust, get along, 
but his health is not perfect ; his nervous system falters con- 
siderably. Dr. Jenks I need not describe. Dr. Brown is 
judicious and good, but, I fear, not so efiicient and popular 
as to make Pine Street go up fast in these hard times. Dr. 
Fay has a call to New Connecticut. 

" Dr. Beecher, you kfiow, loves you as a son, and has 
leaned on you more than on any one else beside, and he can 
not but feel that, while new weights and responsibilities are 

COERESPONDENCE, 1828-9. 211 

coming on him, a main j^rop will be taken away ; and if he 
consulted his heart only, or the peculiar condition of our 
churches just now, he would say you can not be spared, and 
you must not go. But, between this and the time of your 
final decision, Providence may throw farther light on the 
subject, and we may have more time and better means of 
forming a correct decision. It is immaterial where we live 
if it be where duty calls, and I doubt not that God will di- 
rect you to a correct decision, and continue, I trust, your life 
and usefulness many years." 

Dr. BeecJier to Catharine. 

"Boston, December 1, 1829. 

" I have been up and down about Edward since you left, 
but more down than up, though now I think I am more up 
than down. * h« * That Edward is not to have the sup- 
port of his principal men I am confident. That he will have 
their real and secret, but most efiicient opposition, is my full 
belief. I am not prepared to doubt the intentional rectitude 
of one of them ; but I can not resist the evidence that de- 
fective preaching, etc., is only the ostensible, while personal 
dislike, and a fixed, determined purpose to get him dismissed, 
is the real cause. They are not willing he should succeed. 
They have no pleasure in his manifest improvement. They 
are afraid he will succeed, and, but for my letter, matters 
Avould have been brought to a crisis, in my judgment, in a 
few weeks. 

" It is important, however, to his reputation, and to his 
usefulness to the Church, and to his safety and health, and 
to Park Street, and the general cause here, that, if possible, 
he stand it through; and, unless something new occurs, I 
think he has got by the pinch and will rise ; and if he may 
have health, and write as I can advise and he execute, they 
mav do what thev please then." 




The commencement of these lectures is thus mentioned 
in a letter to Catharine : 

'-'■N'ovemher 27, 1829. Yesterday, Thanksgiving, I preach- 
ed upon Atheism — the causes, the kinds, the doctrines, the 
absurdities, the evil tendencies. The whole was, if I may 
say so, as good as I ever do such things. On the absurdi- 
ties, for once, I opened the ground tier, and let out, with- i 
out let or hinderance, all the caustics in the locker. In the 
evening preached in Park Street on the dangers which 
threaten the Church, and am to finish on the sources of safe- 
ty next week." 

The discourses referred to in the above letter were re- 
peated in Cincinnati, and subsequently published, with the 
title, Lectures on Political Atheism, dedicated to the work- 
ing men of America. 

A single extract will be given from Lecture IL, on the 
Causes of Skepticism. After considering some of the more 
prominent causes, he continues : 

" With these remarks in view, I proceed to observe that 
the creeds of the Reformation are often made the occasion 
of perplexity and doubt to inexperienced minds. 

"They contain, unquestionably, the system of doctrine 
taught in the Holy Scriptures ; and they have stood through 
ages, against the encroachments of error, as the iron-bound 
shores to the ocean. But they were constructed amid the 


most arduous controversy that ever taxed the energies of 
man, and with the eye fixed upon the errors of the day, and 
on the points around which the battle chiefly raged. On 
some topics they are more full than the proportion of the 
faith now demands ; some of their phraseology also, once 
familiar, would now, without explanation, inculcate senti- 
ments which are not scriptural, which the framers did not 
believe, and the creeds were never intended to teach. They 
present, also, the results of investigations, without giving to 
the reader the intervening steps, without which minds not 
favored with leisure and undisciplined by study could not 
easily arrive at the conclusions. 

" Of course they appear rather as insulated, independent 
abstract propositions than as the symmetrical parts and 
proportions of a beautiful and glorious system of divine leg- 
islation for maintaining the laws and protecting the rights 
of the universe, while the alienated are reconciled and the 
guilty are pardoned ; and though, as abstract truths correct- 
ly expounded according to the intention of the framers, 
they unquestionably inculcate the system of doctrines con- 
tained in the Holy Scriptures; and though, as landmarks 
and boundaries between truth and error, they are truly im- 
portant, yet, as the means for the popular exposition and 
the saving application of truth, they are far short of the ex- 
igencies of the day in which we live — mere skeletons of 
truth compared with the system clothed, and beautified, 
and inspired with life, as it exists and operates in the Word 
of God. 

"Unhappily, also, some of the most important truths they 
inculcate are in their exposition so twisted in with the reign- 
ing philosophy of the day as to be, in the popular appre- 
hension, identified with it, and are made odious and repel- 
lant by its errors, as if these philosophical theories were the 


fundamental doctrines of the Bible. There is no end to the 
mischief which false philosophy, employed in the exposition 
and defense of the doctrines of the Reformation, has in this 
manner accomplished. Good men have contended for the- 
ories as if they were vital to the system, and regarded as 
heretical those who received the doctrine of the Bible, and 
only rejected their philosophy. They have cried out against 
and renounced philosophizing, when it was their own phi- 
losophizing which divided and agitated the Church. 

" In this manner the Church has been filled with contro- 
versies, and feuds, and jealousies ; and intelligent men, of- 
fended alike by absurd philosophy and unchristian contro- 
versies about it, have, in the conflict of opinion, become dis- 
couraged and disgusted, and have either adopted heretical 
opinions or become skeptical. It is my deliberate opinion 
that the false philosophy which has been employed for the 
exposition of the Calvinistic system has done more to ob- 
struct the march of Christianity, and to paralyze the saving 
power of the Gospel, and to raise up and organize around 
the Church the unnumbered multitude to behold, and won- 
der, and despise, and perish, than all other causes beside. 
There is no subject which so moves my compassion or fills 
my soul with regret, or my heart with the feeling, ' Oh that 
my head w^ere waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, 
that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daugh- 
ter of my people!' 

"Xor is it to be expected that the Gospel will ever be 
attended with its primitive power in sudden and number- 
less conversions till it is again, as it was then, preached 
in demonstration of the spirit and with powder, unobstruct- 
ed by the clouds and darkness of a false philosophy. The 
points especially aflfected by this philosophy are vital to the 
principles of moral government, and involve the constitu- 


tional perceptions of truth, the universal dictates of com- 
mon sense, and the unequivocal elements of accountability, 
as recognized in human government, as sanctioned in the 
Bible, and as employed by the Holy Spirit in convincing 
men of sin, and of God's justice in their condemnation. If 
the theories of this philosophy are not absurd, nothing is 
absurd ; and if they are not false, nothing is false ; and if, 
according to them, the conduct of God is not indefensible 
and unjust, it is only because what God does is right, sim- 
ply and only because he does it, and therefore nothing 
which he does can be unjust. 

" The points to which I allude as violated by a false phi- 
losophy are the principles of personal identity, by which the 
posterity of Adam are distinct from, and not to be con- 
founded with their ancestor ; the principles of personal ac- 
countability and desert of punishment ; that men are not 
made accountable and punishable for the conduct of Adam, 
though liable to sin and misery as its universal conse- 
quence ; the nature of sin and of holiness, considered not as 
material qualities, or the substance of the soul, or as in- 
stincts, but as the spontaneous action of mind under moral 
government, in the full possession of all the elements of ac- 
countability ; and, above all, the doctrine of the decrees of 
God, and the universal certainty of all events to his fore- 
knowledge ; to which may be added, the nature of the 
atonement and its extent, and the doctrines of election and 
reprobation as they shine in the Bible, and not through the 
medium of a perverting philosophy. 

"Whatever of these philosophical theories appertained 
to the system during the arduous conflict for civil and re- 
ligious liberty against the papal despotism of modern Eu- 
rope, men endured — even swallowed them unhesitatingly, 
almost unthinkingly, in the presence of a greater evil ; but, 


since the conflict has passed away, and the nature of mind 
and moral government is better understood, and the num- 
bers who think and will think for themselves multiply, the 
repugnance to this false philosophy has steadily increased, 
and will increase, till that which is adventitious and false is 
relinquished, and the truth is preached in its purity and un- 
broken power." 

" These evils of philosophy have, however, been greatly 
aggravated by the caricatures of Calvinism which on all sides 
have been multiplied. I have never seen or heard a correct 
statement of the Calvinistic system from an opponent. Con- 
sult almost any oracle of opposition as to what is Calvinism, 
and the response will be, Calvinism is that horrible system 
which teaches that God has foreordained and fixed by phys- 
ical omnipotence whatsoever comes to pass; that he has 
made a very small number of mankind on purpose to be 
saved, and all the rest on purpose to damn them ; that an 
atonement by weight and measure has been made for the 
elect only, but which is oflered to the non-elect on condi-. 
tions impossible to be complied with, and they are damned 
for not accepting what did not belong to them, and could 
not have saved them if they had received it ; and that in- 
fants as well as adults are included in the decree of repro- 
bation, and that hell, no doubt, is paved with their bones. 
It is needless to say that falsehoods more absolute and en- 
tire were never stereotyped in the foundery of the Father of 
Lies, or with greater industry worked off for gratuitous dis- 
tribution from age to age." 




Br, Beecher to William. 

"Boston, Februaiy 10, 1830. 

u * ♦ * Theburningof our church will be coHfirmed 
to you long before this arrives ; set on fire, probably, by the 
burning of the chimney that day, through some flaw or crack 
produced by the intense heat and the contact of some wood 
somewhere ; but it is all conjecture. The feeling of the 
church and congregation is good — very good. They feel 
it, but are not cast down, and will soon rebuild. The in- 
surance — $14,000 — will probably nearly cover the expense. 

" We worship, in the mean time, at the Salem Church. 
They hire me for a stated supply, till our church is rebuilt, 
at fifteen dollars per Sabbath, and our Church make up the 
rest. They provide free 115 pews beside. Last Sabbath we 
met there for the first time. I preached from ' Our holy 
and our beautiful house is burned with fire, and all our pleas- 
ant things are laid w^aste.' 

" It was a solemn and good day. There were over sixty 
inquirers in the evening, and four cases of hope the preceding- 
week, and every indication of a real revival begun. My 
prospect of usefulness is, in my apprehension, greatly in- 
creased by this event." 

It may be stated here that Salem Church at the North 
End, and Pine Street Church at the South End (subsequent- 
ly removed to Berkeley Street), were formed as colonies 

Vol. IT.— K 


from the Hanover Church in August, 1827. Seventy-nine 
members were dismissed to the former, five to the latter, 
making, together with twenty-five set ofi* to form a church 
in Cambridgeport, a hundred and nine members colonized 
within the period of eighteen months. 

Dr. Skimier to Br. Beecher. 

"March IG, 1830. 

" I am looking with greater concern than I can express at 
the present unprecedented state of things in the Presbyte- 
rian Church. The strange divisions and combinations which 
are now taking place among us are not unknown to you, 
and have probably a more definite meaning and issue in your 
apprehension than in mine. 

"One thing, however, is becoming daily more evident, 
that the grand influence by which the Church has been ad- 
vancing with matchless success and triumph the last forty 
years, namely, that of voluntary associations of Christians, 
is the secret of the marvelous doings of certain men, wlio 
have discovered the destructive bearing of that influence on 
all the interests of party zeal and j^rivate ambition. You 
will find the next Assembly, which I have heard with great 
joy you are to attend, such a one as no year has witnessed 
since that body was first formed. 

" Brother Peters, lately returned from a long journey in 
the West, can tell you some things which would fill you 
with concern for the cause of Christ in that region ; and, 
if I had time, I would surprise you with a recital of move- 
ments now in progress in the two great cities and elsewhere. 

"But something else must engage the few moments I 
have left. Many of us have been longing for your presence 
among us, believing that God has given you the qualifica- 
tions for the peculiar task that some one must perform, of 


directing men's minds aright at this interesting crisis, when 
something of most disastrous or happy influence must speed- 
ily take place. You are wanted in Boston, I know, and 
where are you not wanted ? But it is our full belief that 
you can do incomparably more for the general cause in New 
York at the present time than in any other spot in this 
world. And Providence will soon, it is probable, open a 
door for your entrance in among us. The Bleecker Street 
Church will send you a call next week. 

u * * * J want to be near you, to tell you some 
things which I am afraid to write. If I had your ear for 
half an hour, I should pour arguments into it which would 
command no common degree of conviction and interest. 
The Bible Society, the Tract Society, the Education Society, 
and, above all, the Home Missionary Society, all want you. 
You may do great good in Boston, but could you do as 
much good the next four years of your life any where on 
earth as in New York ? You ought to remove at least once 
more, and when or where if not now ?" * * * 

Dt. JBeecher to William. 

" Within Point Judith, June 5, 1830. 
" As I shall not be able to stop, and may not see you at 
the wharf, and could say but little if I did, I will just give 
you a little sketch of matters and things which you may 
wish to know. Generally the session of this Assembly has 
been auspicious, although more apprehension was enter- 
tained concerning it than any perhaps which was ever con- 
vened. But the very strength of apprehension created safe- 
ty, all praying and striving for peace for fear of controver- 
sy, until it became one of the most devout and peaceable, 
good-tempered sessions I have ever known, a few instances 


"The two points of chief interest were to adjust mat- 
ters between the American Education and Assembly's Edu- 
cation Societies, and between the Home Missionary Society 
and the Assembly's board. The Triangulars wished to car- 
ry, in each case, a general recommendation for all their 
churches to patronize the exclusive Presbyterian boards. 
They w^ere, however, defeated in both attempts, and a rec- 
ommendation given for the churches to choose for them- 
selves which should be the channel of their charities. 

" They pretend that voluntary associations have no guar- 
antee of orthodoxy, and that all charitable institutions ought 
to be accountable to the Church. But the real difficulty is 
the fear of the prevalence of our doctrines. 

" Another measure, more exciting than any other, was a 
proposition for appointing an agency for the West, through 
which both Home Mission and Assembly's Mission should 
pass, to prevent collisions of the two boards in the West. 
This the Triangulars opposed bitterly, and finally threw it 
out of the house without discussion, to the great offense of 
many, and some of their own people at the^ West. A pro- 
test was signed by Dr. Rice and many others, which scared 
them, and may have produced a compromise since I left, as 
they were in a great stew. 

" My health has been and is good, and I have been con- 
stantly, and, I trust, not unprofitably occupied in preaching 
four sermons on the Dangers of the Church, and the Rem- 

" I preached for the Methodist Society of colored people 
last Sabbath afternoon, at the invitation of their bishop. 
They had a Conference, with fifty preachers present from 
different parts of the Union, and four from Hayti. Two 
thousand blacks present. All a surface of black heads, 
wedged in — a solid mass almost. I came down to them and 


upon them in a way which made them cry 'Amen! amen!' 
'True! true!' 'That's good! that's good!' ' That's preach- 
ing!' and clap hands, and jump up, etc. 

" Two hundred came forward and subscribed a pledge of 
^ntire abstinence Avhich I wrote for them — the largest Tem- 
perance Society, I believe, ever organized at once, and prom- 
ising to carry it through all the colored families of the land. 
About as much good, I guess^ as ever I did in so short a 

" The sight of a black audience brought up afresh East 
Hampton and Freetown, where I used to preach to just 
such folks from 1800 to 1810. 

" I gave an address for Sabbath Union in support of the 
motion to supply the Valley w^th Sabbath-schools in two 
years. Arthur Tappan had promised $4000 in two years, 
and two individuals have guaranteed $5000 apiece. Nearly 
twenty thousand have been raised already in money, and 
agencies, and the right spirit is wide awake, and strong to 
preoccupy the Valley before his Holiness. So much good 
is to come out of popery, though it meant not so. 

" I spoke also on the subject of Temperance, and the thing 
goes finely. Philadelphia henceforth, in doctrine and chari- 
ty, will be predominantly with us. It is man's wickedness 
and the Lord's goodness which has hastened it. But the 
time has come when opposition seems to be as useful, if not 
more useful than direct patronage. The wrath of man 
praises him. 

" We have had consultations about the Sabbath, and it is 
the prevailing opinion that we petition again, though not 
till fall, and with less noise, in the mean time pushing the 
thing in the papers by able writing. The Indian Bill is 
gone wrong, yet there is much hope we can delay its exe- 
cution till another Congress, and then block it. It passed 


against a real majority on account of peculiar circum- 
stances, and the next day only after, when Jackson return- 
ed the Navy Bill and Road Bill, it would have been reject- 
ed by a large majority. But God will bring good out of 

" I shall be glad to hear from you next week, and know 
how you get along — whether you have got settled, and be- 
gin to get under way about study. I think you had better 
pursue my plan rigidly — i. e., to confine your study to the 
forenoon ; afternoon relax, attend to business and pastoral 
visits ; evening, preach lectures, and read. In another 
thing you had also better follow my example for the first 
ten years of my life, in which I never planned and wrote a 
sermon scarcely which I did not read to your mother, and 
talk over with her. It was a great help to me, as often, in 
talking, my own mind was invigorated, and my heart warm- 
ed, and my thoughts made clear. 

" You will not forget every week to make your sermons 
as good as you can, not depending on extempore readiness 
without careful and discriminating thought. Have one ser- 
mon every week that will tax your intellect and the intellect 
of your hearers." 

Dr. Beecher to Dr. Taylor. 

"June 16,1830. 

" I was disappointed in not finding you here. You were 
doing great good, and were much needed and much ap- 
proved, and your going let the whole run back, so that I 
found things in a bad state when I got back. Hardly re- 
covered yet, though I think rising. Thank you, however, 
for what you did do. The efi:ect in other respects will be 

" We have had a discussion in our Association to-day on 


the question proposed by myself, 'What is the difference 
between a free agent who, being assisted by God, is able to 
act in and of himself, and the self-determining j^ower ?' It 
occupied three hours, and rambled over all the metaphysics 
of theology ; and on all the points that came up no two 
agreed, though the result with Dr. Pond and others was to 
allay fear and diminish distance between them and us, and 
prevent squabble, and jealousy, and alienation, and prepare 
them to allay suspicions and outcries around them. 

" Brother Fay stated, in a manner w^hich imj^lied that he 
had information on the point, that Dr. Woods would not 
publish his Pastoral Association sermon (which was a warn- 
ing against philosophizing, and a prophesying of evil com- 
ing on the churches until maybe the Hindoos will have to 
send the Gospel to New England), and, which is more, that 
he has concluded not to publish his letter, or treatise, or 
what not (to prove that sin, wherever it is, is better than 
holiness would be in its stead). 

*' He said, also, that there was considerable dissatisfaction 
at Andover among the young men about Dr. Woods, and 
that ten were about to leave for New Haven. Whether 
all this will be so, I know not. But I write, my dear son 
and brother, to say, 'Fret not thyself, and be not cast down.' 
You are now, perhaps, in the most critical state which you 
are to pass through — the last runnings of odium and vexa- 
tious opposition, and the risings of a tide still more danger- 
ous. * * * 

" For my sake, and your own, and the Lord Jesus Christ's 
sake, take care of your health, and when the fiery trial is 
past, and the flood of success begins to come in, take care 
of your heart. 

" You must remember that Dr. Woods, as well as myself, 
is approaching old age; and if the tide should turn against 


him, a little asperity on your part would create sympathy 
for him and reaction on you." 

Dr. Beecher to Catharine. 

"Boston, July 8,1830. 

u sH :j« ^.- Wiiile at Philaclelphia and since, my inter- 
est in the majestic West has been greatly excited and in- 
creased, and my efforts have not been without effect to cre- 
ate a love and a waking up both there and here. The mor- 
al destiny of our nation, and all our institutions and hopes, 
and the world's hopes, turns on the character of the West, 
and the competition now is for that of preoccupancy in the 
education of the rising generation, in which Catholics and 
infidels have got the start of us. 

" I have thought seriously of going over to Cincinnati, 
the London of the West, to spend the remnant of my days 
in that great conflict, and in consecrating all my children 
to God in that region who are willing to go. If we gain 
the West, all is safe ; if we lose it, all is lost. 

a :H * * Write your thoughts to me as soon as you 
have time, and I will find time to write back to you ; for 
this is not with me a transient flash of feeling, but a feeling 
as if the great battle is to be fought in the Yalley of the 
Mississippi, and as if it may be the will of God that I shall 
be employed to arouse and help to marshal the host for the 
conflict ; and if duty can be made plain, I am ready. But 
if I go, it will be part of my plan that you go, and another 
that Edward, aiM probably all my sons and all my daugh- 
ters who are willing to go. This you must not show to any 
one. They are only my thoughts ; but they are deep, and 
yet, withal, my ways are committed to God. 

" In respect to the Indians the prospect brightens. The 
tide of the West is turning, and running strong against the 


Jackson administration. A great meeting has been held in 
Cincinnati, and one in another place, disapproving the meas- 
ures of the present administration, and among the rest the 
Indian Bill, as Mr. Evarts says, exactly right, and projDOsing 
that their members of the Senate be requested not to ratify 
any treaty made in pursuance of it, and that their members 
in the House be instructed to make no appropriations. It 
is in contemplation to get up similar meetings in Philadel- 
phia and New York, and Hartford, Northampton, and Bos- 
ton, and through New England and the land. We shall 
succeed ; the Indians will be saved ! 

" In respect to your mother, I perceive that you do not 
know that the whole family- — Aunt Esther, children, mother, 
and all, have migrated for the summer to Wiscasset, Maine, 
three weeks ago to-morrow ; and that I, with four or five 
young men, candidates for the ministry, keep bachelor's hall, 
but for which I should have talked about loneliness as em- 
phatically as you ; and as it is, I don't like it very much, and 
have not known time roll so slow since the sad year of soli- 
tude which i^assed over me once in other days. But, as I 
have so much to think about and do, time gets along some- 
how, and is gone as usual. 

" Edward is well, though rather worn down by his long 
effort to rise in the face of opposition, which, however, he 
has achieved, and now writes, and has long since, so that 
if any grumble, it is manifest that they are unreasonable, and 
unwilling to be pleased. 

" George goes to New Haven this fall to study with Dr. 
Taylor. How do you think Andover will like that ? But 
it can not be helped. It will be the fault of Andover if I 
like her any less than I have always done. I trust I shall 
not be compelled to. * * * 

"I believe I have now touched on all vour topics and 


some more. There is much more that I might say, but can 
not now. There is an ocean of things which it would kill 
me to write down, both of what I am called to think, and 
say, and do, it being as much as I can bear to think, and 
say, and do so many things once over, and that is one rea- 
son why I am become so taciturn. I have to keep all the 
feeling I have for use, and that is why I write so little to my 
children or any body else. However, I am resolved to get 
out of the vortex a little, and to become my own self again, 
and to wrap around me the warm garment of natural afiec- 
tion instead of the cold one of public cares, though I must 
wear the latter no small part of the time, probably as long 
as I live ; for when I stop I expect to stop in heaven, and 
not to linger long on earth after my active usefulness is 
ended." * * * 

Dr. Beecher to William. 

"Boston, Sept. 3, 1830, 
"My journey East was pleasant, and my health was re- 
stored a little, though for a few days I am down with a 
fall cold. Harriet is better ; Edward has a call to the pres- 
idency of Illinois College, and goes to Commencement at 
^ew Haven to confer and see about it. What result he 
will come to I can not tell. But there are many and great 
things in favor of his going, and nothing very inviting in 
his remaining where he is. I send you a number of news- 
papers. I would not preach nor talk much openly about 
Masonry, though I have no doubt it wdll and ought to come 
down. * * * 

Some time in the course of this year (1830) an incident 
occurred which may well be inserted here. It is narrated 
by Mrs. Homes, or, as always known in the family, "Aunt 


" While Henry and Charles were in college, your father 
and Harriet* felt very much straitened for money. One 
evening particularly they were talking about it, and did not 
know what they should do to keep the boys along. At last 
your father said, ' Well, the Lord always has taken care of 
me, and I am surejie always will,' and retired to rest and 
was soon fast asleep. Harriet laid awake, she told me aft- 
erward, and cried. She cried because she did not see how 
they should get along ; but what most troubled her was that 
her husband had so much faith and she had not any. 

" The next morning was Sabbath morning. Some one 
rung at the door, and a letter was handed in containing a 
$100 bill, and no name. They came up to tell me, as they 
always did, but they did not know, nor I then, who gave it. 
I found out afterward it was Mr. Homes, a thank-offering 
at the conversion of one of his children." 

Mr. Homes was always doing kind deeds. When the 
aforesaid Henry and Charles came home to spend their va- 
cations, they always received some token of regard in the 
shape of a knife, or some other article from the hardware 
store on Dock Square. The first salutation they always 
met was, " Well, well ! and which is Amherst, and which is 
Bow^doin ?" 

The following incident is also credibly related as having 
occurred about this time : 

A certain Josiah Bissell attempted to establish a line of 
Sabbath-keeping stages through Central New York to Al- 
bany. He called to seeDr.Beecher about it. He was then 
living in Greene Street. The ladies had raised seventy-five 
dollars to purchase a carpet for the parlor, which was un- 

* Mrs. Beeoher and Mrs. Homes were sisters.,* 


usually large. The money had just been presented to Mrs. 
Beecher. Dr. Beecher was so enthusiastic about the plan, 
he ran up stairs to look for some money. He opened the 
bureau drawer where Mrs. Beecher had put the money, took 
out the roll without counting, and gave it to Bissell. By- 
and-by the ladies called to go and buy^the carpet, and lo ! 
the money was gone ! The consequence was, the floor of 
the great parlor went bare. 

In the opening of the chapter, allusion is made to the 
burning of Hanover Church, an event closely bearing upon 
Dr. Beecher's subsequent history. The circumstances at- 
tending the conflagration, as reported by tradition, were 
somewhat striking, and illustrative of the state of popular 
feeling in those days. It was said that the firemen sat idly 
by, refusing to work the engines, and singing, 

" While Beecher's church holds out to burn, 
The vilest sinner may return." 

It was also told how the organ was seen through the blaze, 
when the gallery gave way, to spring forward, as it were, 
bodily, and fall into the flames. One of the basement rooms 
had been hired by a merchant, who, it seems, had stored 
there a quantity of spirits, unknown to any body but him- 
self The sudden flaming up of this excited no small merri- 
ment among the firemen, who hurraed for Beecher's broken 
"oil jug," referring to a well-known story then current. 
In the rear of the basement were the " Missionary Rooms," 
where a quantity of tracts were deposited. Numbers of 
these tracts, it is said, were carried by the firemen and oth- 
ers all over the city, and scattered on door-steps and side- 
walks in a most efficient style of "home evangelization." 




In 1830 Dr. Woods addressed a series of letters to Dr. 
Taylor on the question of the origin of evil and kindred top- 
ics involved in the New Haven controversy. Dr. Taylor, in 
his " Concio ad Clerum," had characterized the notion that 
sin is the necessary means of the greatest good, and that 
God could have prevented it, as a groundless assumption. 
Dr. Woods interprets him as affirming that sin is not the 
necessary means of the greatest good, and that God could 
not have prevented it. In the closing letter it is intimated 
that in some respects Dr. Taylor agrees with Arminians and 
Pelagians, in others with Unitarians, and even with French 
infidels. At the same time, he is exhorted to be calm and 
not lose his temper, to avow his real sentiments with per- 
spicuity and clearness. 

On reading these letters, Dr. Beecher wrote to Dr. Taylor 
(September 6) as follows : 

" For six weeks I have been obliged to forego study and 
care. Dr. Woods's letters came out when I could neither 
endure nor let them alone. I think of them as Skinner 
does, and also as you do as to their temporary ad captan- 
dum effect. I hope, however, that while you have been 
suaviter as the case admits, you have heen fortiter ; for, 
brother, we are not to be browbeaten and driven off the 
ground of New England divinity — Bible divinity — by a fee- 
ble and ignorant philosophy into the three corners of the tri- 
angle. In respect to myself, I need no urging to commit my- 
self, and nothing^ but time and strength to do it in the best 


manner ; which, after Blagden's settlement, and till my 
house* is finished, a period of three or four months, I hope 
to have, and mean to consecrate in the best manner I am 
able, which, in my opinion, will be the revision and publi- 
cation of my lectures on ' Elements of Theology.' 

" To dash in on any one point would answer little pur- 
pose and forfeit much influence. The thing needed is an 
elementary exposition, such as shall show the nature, and 
relation, and dependences of the system, remove difficulties, 
and allay fears, by showing at every ste]) not a dark hole 
full of mysteries, but terra firma covered with light ; and 
not mere speculation and vain philosophy, but the main- 
spring, back-bone, sinews, and muscle of revival preaching. 

" This done, then, my particular sermons making a direct 
onset on the conscience would be understood, and not cre- 
ate starting and alarm. If it will please God to jDcrmit me 
to illustrate in this way our common views of theology, the- 
oretical, experimental, and practical, as it has been done in 
my ministry for twenty years, and especially for the last 
four years here, I shall be satisfied, and I do intend that 
nothing shall delay or come in competition with the com- 
mencement and continuance of this eflbrt; but if, as the 
case may be, the waves should beat on me here, and suspi- 
cion and odium make it needful, why, then, it is my fixed 
purpose not to stand on the defensive merely, but to attack, 
to exhibit the fallacy, the tendency, and the actual past and 
present effects of Dr. Woods's system. I am glad you are 
prepared for so prompt reply in Hart's review and its cod- 

* The Bowdoin Street Church. 

f Dr. Woods's Letters were reviewed by Dr, Taylor in the Christian 
Spectator for September, 1 830, in an article appended to a review of Bel- 
lamy on the Divine Permission of Sin. 


" It is my opinioD, also, that some one among you should 
attack Dr. Woods in the style in which Dr. Alexander was 
put down, never to peep again or mutter. You, if you must 
reply, must in your own w^ay ; but it is my wish and advice 
that Fitch make the main attack, and in a style which might 
not be so well for you. I Imve not read his review on Sin 
lately, but perhaps his attack on Woods might be softened 
a little as to courtesy ; but I would have him exjDOsed and 
pushed with great directness and j)ower, and unsparingly, 
leaving of his temple not one stone upon another." 

"Boston, September 23, 1830. 

" My dear Beothee, — At my request, we have had a con- 
sultation to-day in Dr. Porter's study ; and as the result, 
also, was in no small degree owing to my instrumentality, 
and is so different from the tenor of my last letter, it will be 
necessary, to enable you to appreciate my reasons, to put 
you in possession, historically, of the circumstances which 
led to a change of opinion, and of the reasons which sustain 
it, lest I should seem to have acted capriciously. 

■ ' The advice in my last resulted from the conviction that 
no alternative remained but controversy, and that, however 
great the evil, it was forced upon us as the least of two. 

" With the same opinion I went to Andover on Tuesday. 
On Wednesday morning I was notified by Brother Porter 
that an effort would be made to open the Spirit of the Pil- 
grims to controversy. I said, 'Very well, if opened for both 
sides, but there ought to be first a consultation.' To this he 
acceded, and commissioned me to get it up. It was accord- 
ingly put in motion. Toward evening Dr. Woods had a long 
talk on the subject with Brother Pond, which resulted in 
offering to confide to him the entire direction of managing 
the controversy, i. e., deciding how much space to give to 


it, and regulating the whole as to Christian spirit. To this, 
having full confidence in Brother Pond, I conceded. 

" When the conference opened at eight o'clock this morn- 
ing, we had prepared a resolution recommending to the con- 
ductors of the Pilgrims to open their pages as above, which 
was put round to say yea or nay. It was going unanimous- 
ly till it came to Brother Greene, of Boston, who said he 
couldn't vote to continue the controversy ; that in his opin- 
ion it was needless. He had no such fears as some had, and 
wished the whole controversy might stop on both sides; 
that the mischiefs of going on had not yet begun, but would 
be great ; that the churches, to his knowledge, in Boston 
were alarmed at the prospect, and were saying, ' What do 
our doctors mean ?' He was followed by Mr. Walker, of 
Vermont, who said that he knew what Mr. Greene had said 
to be true of the ministry in Vermont, some of whom were 
on one side and some on the other ; but that they made noth- 
ing of it, and it gave them no trouble ; and if it were need- 
ful, he would go on his knees to New Haven to present our 
advice, if we would give it, to prevent controversy. Mr. 
Jackson, from Vermont, confirmed Mr. Walker's statement, 
and spoke with great decision against controversy as need- 
less and injurious. 

"These were the last who were called on, and the vote 
was carried ; and we were on our feet to come away, when, 
seeing this favorable time, I said, ' I have acceded to a reg- 
ulated controversy as the least of two evils. If we can get 
along without, so much the better ; for the least of the evils 
will, in my opinion, be great. Let us look at the question, 
' Can all farther discussion on both sides be stayed ?' Broth- 
er Hitchcock, of Randolph, a fine man, said, ' We have Uni- 
tarians in all our societies ; the moment we open on one 
another they will clap their hands for joy, and we shall be 


fainthearted and sick.' He begged the controversy might 
go no farther. Mr. Mitchell, of Maine, said that the state- 
ments from Vermont represented the feelings of the minis- 
ters generally in Maine. They were generally on one side 
(Andover), but they to a man, he believed, were opposed to 
controversy on the subject. Mr. Beckwith said he had trav- 
eled seven thousand miles, and could testify that the gen- 
eral feeling of ministers was regret at the controversy, and 
a wish that it might stop. Brother Peters made a similar 
statement. Emerson and Stewart were both opposed to 
continuing the controversy. By this time an article was 
drawn recommending the discontinuance of the controversy 
from this time. 

" Dr. Porter came in about this time, and was rather in 
favor of the motion, and quite satisfied after it was passed. 
Dr. Woods seemed in favor, but started difficulties, which 
being obviated, he said that, having called on you to write, 
it would be indecorous now for him to advise to droj) the 
controversy. He therefore should retire and not vote, but 
would pledge himself to pay all proper deference to pacific 
counsel if given. 

" Dr. Church thought discussion necessary ; there had 
been too little. I accorded, but said, ' There is now a feeling 
up that had better subside before we begin,' to which he 
acceded ; and a number of others spoke in favor of ' drop- 
ping the subject,' as friend Nettleton says to sinners. 

" On the whole, the question was taken on a written mo- 
tion, and each man's name written down, and passed unani- 
mously in favor of ceasing from controversy. The temper 
which characterized the meeting was excellent. I have giv- 
en you but an outline. * * * 

"The reasons which swayed my mind were, 

"1. It is perfectly manifest to my mind that the public 


sentiment does not demand the controversy, but is opposed 
to having it, including the great majority of ministers and 
churches. Now this is a pubhc concession that the New 
Haven theology is not a heresy, nor tending to heresy, and 
ought not to be assailed or made a breaking point, but left 
alone, to stand or fall by its own merits. What do you 
need more ? What better could be hoped at the end of a 
controversy ? 

*' 2. I think there is on both sides, among those of us 
most deeply interested, a state of feeling which is too strong 
to be managed safely in a controversy. I think this soberly 
of myself, and of you, and of numbers on the other side ; 
and if we do push the controversy now, as we shall if we let 
all loose, it wdll work up into a practical schism, w^hich will 
refuse to license each other's candidates, set the churches 
all on fire, break up our charitable co-operation, and pull 
down on our heads the ruins of a glorious edifice now going 
up. I think also that our heat, and sense of injury, and of 
the importance of the point in dispute, will so far surpass 
that of the mass of the community that they will not sym- 
pathize with us, and that on both sides we shall, in their 
eyes, walk naked and expose our shame. 

3. "If the controversy goes on, nearly all the public senti- 
ment which is opposed to it will be apt, without much dis- 
crimination, to vent itself upon New Haven theology as be- 
ing at least the needless occasion of existing troubles. 

*' 4. There is also so much ignorance, and alarm, and fever 
up now, and so much temptation to keep it up, that I do not 
think w^e should stand a fair chance; i. e., points would be 
started and resisted which in a calm state of things would 
pass unquestioned. 

"5. It is my deliberate opinion that you may now go on 
and instruct your students in your own way, and let Dr. 


Woods do the same, and all the sentiments we hold in com- 
mon and regard as important be extended mnch faster than 
they can be by a controversy attended by such party spirit 
as will attend a keen and thorough discussion ; for we must 
not calculate that such men as have and will commit them- 
selves, with such power as they possess of organizing a par- 
ty, will be driven from the field, or fail to set up a powerful 
barrier to the progress of what we believe to be truth. 
You have not appreciated, probably, the power that can and 
will be organized against you. 

"6. In addition to this, if I thought there were no danger 
that they could push us into error, I am seriously apprehen- 
sive that we should, if we have not, push them back into er- 
rors which it may take fifty years to eradicate. Unpushed, 
they will not deny ability, though taste and exercise both 
virtually do it ; but, hard pressed, I believe they would do it 
before they would yield to our arguments. I have seen 
symptoms of it which alarm me. But if we let things move 
more slowly, they will not and can not do it. 

" 7. Another reason which weighs greatly with me is, 
that we can not j^revent it from becoming a war of theolog- 
ical seminaries, and, if virulence arises, can not prevent it 
from afiecting Yale. 

" 8. In addition to all these, there is another reason for 
discontinuing controversy, which, more than all, commends 
itself to my sympathies. It is the very great and trying, 
and, had I been in your case, I might say insupportable re- 
sponsibilities which have rested on you since the noise be- 
gan about New Haven, and especially since you began to 
write. My dear brother, you need and ought to have rest ; 
and if, while all other pens stop, you will stop, we can take 
care of you, and of your school, and of this truth, better, in 
my opinion, than it can be done by any thing you can do. 


" There is another reason. Brethren in this city do not 
participate in the alarm about New Haven. Brother Pond, 
and all, if they do not adopt, do not denounce. Such a me- 
diation is not lightly to be forfeited. But if, in opposition 
to the feeling and wishes of your friends here, the contro- 
versy should be persisted in, and its evils pushed upon us, 
you know how it would afiect their minds. Stuart is gone 
over ; and, if much more is done, Emerson will go, who is 
still our sincere friend, and need not be alienated and lost. 

"I have drawn out these reasons at large, as if they 
might be necessary to persuade you to do reluctantly what, 
however, I trust you are ready and willing to do, and will 
be even glad to do ; for, in my opinion, it is not safe for 
your health, nor safe to the proportions of the system of 
sound words, that so long and such intense interest should 
be concentrated with so much care, and solicitude, and feel- 
ing on one set of subjects. There is no possible danger in 
ceasing now. Your reply is sufficient. Dr. Woods's letter 
will be better understood as men cool, and we shall do well 

Dr.Beecher to William. 

" Boston, November 1,1830. 

"I can not now write a long letter. Edward was dis- 
missed on Thursday — all things pleasant; many presents 
from individuals — five hundred dollars by the Church ; and 
yesterday, under his farewell sermon, a great many tears 
were shed. He prea,ched at Cambridgeport a farewell last 
week, and at Old Cambridge last night. He comes to our 
house to-night, and leaves for the West on Wednesday or 

"Public sentiment is doing justice to him and to his 
friends, and to others. But all thinors in Park Street are 


quiet, and they want me to supply tbem for three months 
to come, which probably I shall do. 

"I am entirely quiet in respect to Edward's removal. I 
believe it, on the whole, an ample field for all his powers to 
operate in to the best advantage for his country, and the 
Church, and the world, and, instead of feeling depressed by 
his removal, I feel an indescribable relief, and an ardent 
gratitude at the present state of his health, and spirits, and 
prospects, compared with Avhat they were a year ago. 

"I rejoice in your success and estimation. It is a most 
blessed remuneration. May God still preserve, and give 
you wisdom, and holiness, and success." 

Dr. Beecher to George (cit Yale Theological Serainary). 

" November 5, 1830. 

"I was glad to receive your letter, and hear of your 
pleasant accommodations, both for exercise, for piety, and 
for study — especially that you are aware of the temptation 
of intellectual pursuits to leave the affections to languish 
without constant care. It is our shame, and a deep evi- 
dence of the depravity of our hearts, that, during mental oc- 
cupancy about God and divine things, the affections should 
run down. It is not so in heaven. There, while angels 
look into the system of redemption which we study, they 
veil their faces, and adore, and burn with admiration and 
with love, while we, the interested party, the subjects of 
so much compassion, and mercy, and glory to be revealed, 
lose our emotions by the intellectual contemplation of its 

" It need not, however, be so on earth to the extent which 
it is, as appears in the life and writings of Edwards, Avhose 
vigor of intellect, compass of thought, patience of investiga- 
tion, accuracy of discrimination, power of argument, knowl- 


edge of the Bible, and strength of holiness, stand unrivaled. 
But for his piety, he might have been a skeptic more dan- 
gerous than Hume or Voltaire ; and but for the command 
of his religion over all his powers, he might have been one 
of the most dangerous, as he certainly was one of the most 
original and fearless of speculators. But the attractions of 
his heart to God kept him in his orbit, and enabled him to 
go forth, and survey, and adjust the relations of the moral 
universe without becorainsj a wanderino^ star ; whose origr- 
inal investigation and deep piety, my son, follow. Next 
after the Bible, read and study Edwards, whom to under- 
stand in theology, accommodated to use, Avill be as high 
praise in theological science as to understand Newton's 
works in accommodation to modern uses of natural philos- 

"Edwards and Fuller are the two best theological writ- 
ers for a young man to study. But while Fuller, availing 
himself of his own powerful mind acting on Edwards's ma- 
terials, has ^vritten with more conciseness and perspicuity 
than Edwards, he falls far below him in the ardor of his 
piety, and in liis power of applying truth to the conscience. 
In this respect Edwards stands unrivaled. There is in his 
revival sermons more discrimination, power of argument, 
and pungency of application than are contained in all the 
sermons beside which were ever written. Study as models 
Edwards's applications. They are original, multiform, and 
powerful beyond measure." 

LANE. 241 

little confidence, however, was felt by the members gener- 
ally in obtaining aid from the West as the chairman had 
expressed in relation to the East. A member of the board 
said, ' I am an Eastern man ; I know the hearts of Eastern 
Christians ; I know they will give ns money if we make a 
special appeal to them. We must have Dr. Beecher or Dr. 
M'Auley, and the means for his support will not be want- 
ing.' The committee said, 'If the brother who has so much 
confidence in the East will go, we will send him, and make 
one more efifort.' Dr. Wilson said ' Amen.' "* 

That brother, the Rev. F. Y. Vail, having accepted the 
mission, hastened to the East, from whence he wrote back 
to the board, October 14, as follows : 

" * * * In visiting Philadelphia, New York, and 
Boston, it has been my first object to present, as fully as 
possible, the claims of our institution before a number of 
their leading men, in order to ascertain what ought and 
could be done now for our object. As the American Board 
was in session in Boston, I had the happiness to meet with 
many distinguished clergymen and laymen, among whom 
were Dr. Proudfit, of Salem, New York, Drs. Alexander and 
Miller, and Professor Hodge, of Princeton. I was happy to 
find that there was but one deep and all-absorbing feeling 
among them respecting our great undertaking, and that was 
in accordance with our own ; that Cincinnati, now at the 
heart of four millions, and in twenty years to be at the 
heart of twelve millions, is the most important point in our 
nation for a great central theological institution of the first 
character. * * * 

" That one of the very first men in our nation ought to be 
called to the head of our seminary, and that he ought and 
* Commemorative Discourse, by Dr. Allen, p. 4, 5. 

Vol. II.— L 


must be willing to go, and his people to give him up. Aft- 
er much consultation, it aj^peared to be the common impres- 
sion of those consulted that Dr. Beecher, of Boston, if he 
could be obtained, would be the best man. That, as he is 
the most prominent, popular, and powerful preacher in our 
nation, he would immediately give character, elevation, and 
success to our seminary, draw together young men from 
every part of our country, secure the confidence and co-op- 
eration of the ministers and churches both east and west of 
the Alleghany Mountains, and awaken a general interest in 
the old states in behalf of the West. 

" Having previously consulted with those men who would 
be likely to be called in as advisers respecting his dismission 
if Dr. Beecher should be elected, we had a meeting at his 
house on Saturday last. I opened the subject for the first 
time to Dr. Beecher ; each brother there expressed his opin- 
ion; all felt that it was one of the greatest subjects ever 
brought before them ; that Boston and the East generally 
would sustain an irreparable loss in giving up Dr. Beecher, 
and yet that the good of the Church, the awakening of the 
East in behalf of the West, loudly demanded that one of 
their best generals should occupy the very seat of Western 
warfare while the enemy is coming in like a flood ; and that, 
if his people would give him up, he ought to go where Prov- 
idence so obviously leads. Dr. Beecher could not but ac- 
cord with these views of his duty in the case, seeing, as he 
thought he did, the hand of God in the whole matter ; and 
he expressed the confident conviction that his people — ^their 
strong feelings to the contrary notwithstanding — would 
cheerfully give him up for such an object. 

" The result is, that scarcely any doubt remains that the 
Lord and the Church have given us and the West Dr. 
Beecher, if he is now called. To secure an object so desira- 

• LANE. 243 

ble, our dear Brother Tappan, of New York, will give us 
$20,000, to be connected with Dr. Beecher's appointment, 
and on the farther condition that two other professorships be 
obtained at the East, and from 810,000 to $20,000 more at 
^the West, for buildings. I have preferred these conditions, 
as well as himself, that the great work should be done speed- 
ily, ^and the institution be placed on a permanent basis for 
future ages. I have pledged myself to raise the two other 
professorships as soon as practicable, and will now pledge 
myself to raise the sum requisite at the West, with the di- 
vine blessing, if there be no other one to do it. I have a 
prospect of the second professorship in a few days, and trust 
that the third will be obtained without much delay. Broth- 
er Tappan's plan is to pay the interest of $20,000, and give 
us his obligation for the principal. His documents I will 
either bring myself soon, or send them." 

"On the receipt of this intelligence," remarks Dr. Allen, 
"the board assembled October 22d, 1830, and unanimously 
elected Dr. Beecher President and Professor of Theology. 
The following extract from the letter of the corresponding 
secretary, Dr. James Warren, in which he communicated to 
the agent the action of the board, will show the state of 
feeling at that time : ' Your success was entirely unexpect- 
ed, and it gave a thrill to the soul of every member of the 
board, and others whom I have seen are rejoicing with tears 
in their eyes. Is it possible, say they, that this Western 
world is to be blessed with the presence of Dr. Beecher ? 
And we give thanks to the Lord that he has made you the 
honored instrument of conferring so great a blessing upon 
us. The resolution was passed with reverential silence; not 
a word was spoken but ' Ay.' "* 

* Commemorative Discourse, p. 8. 


" Early in 1831," remarks Dr. Allen, " solicitude began to 
be felt lest Dr. Beecher might not obtain the consent of his 
people to his leaving them, and Dr. Wilson, Rev. Messrs. 
Vail and Gallaher, were appointed a committee to corre- 
spond with them on the subject." 

From this letter, addressed " To the Hanover Church and 
Congregation of Boston," we present the following extract: 

tc * * * Having presented this general view of the 
character, claims, and prospects of our seminary, permit us, 
dear brethren and friends, to specify a few of the particular 
reasons why we believe Dr. Beecher is called by divine Prov- 
idence to this institution. 

"The strong conviction of many of our wisest and best men 
east and west of the mountains is, that the great interests 
of the Church, and especially of the West, require Dr.Beech- 
er's labors at the head of our seminary. A large number 
of our ministerial and lay brethren have expressed their de- 
liberate conviction that the enterprise of building up a great 
central theological serniinary at Cincinnati, soon to become 
the great Andover or Princeton of the West, and to give 
character to hundreds and thousands of ministers which 
may issue from it, is one of the most important and respon- 
sible in Avhich the Church is ever called to engage ; and that 
no man in our country, in many important respects, is so 
well fitted to give character, energy, and success to such an 
institution as Dr. Beecher. 

" I^ever has the presentation of a similar subject excited 
more deep and lively interest, and called forth a more gen- 
eral and cordial approbation among the friends of religion 
at the East and the West, than the announcement of Dr. 
Beecher's appointment as our President and Theological 
Professor, and the consequent prospect of our securing am- 
ple funds for the endowment of the institution. This voice 

LANE. ^ 245 

of public opinion and of the ministers and Church of Christ, 
we think, is to be regarded as no unimportant indication of 
the will of Providence in this matter. * * * 

" The last reason we shall mention for Dr. Beecher's con- 
nection with our institution is, that the securing of funds 
pledged on this condition, and the consequent existence and 
prosperity of the seminary, depend upon it. We need not 
inform you that the strong convictions of the importance of 
our institution among our brethren at the East have led 
them to undertake its endowment. Three professorships, 
amounting in all to $50,000, are nearly secured on condition 
that Dr. Beecher becomes our professor, and that we at the 
West raise from $10,000 to 820,000 more for buildings, etc. 
These funds, thus liberally offered to us, are to be given on 
account of the special confidence which the donors place in 
Dr. Beecher to preside over and give character and success 
to our seminary. Shall it be, then, the painful calamity of 
the West, and of the Church generally, that some 860,000 
or 870,000, which would place our institution on a high and 
permanent basis for ages, and bless our increasing and per- 
ishing millions, must be lost, and our now brightening pros- 
pects be blasted for want of the man with whom the friends 
of Zion and the West have identified their benefactions ? 
Should we fail of securing Dr. Beecher and the funds con- 
nected with him, we see not how our institution can be sus- 
tained, as extensive funds are indispensable, and can not pos- 
sibly be obtained here among our infant churches. Dear 
brethren and friends, permit us to appeal to your piety and 
philanthropy in behalf of the perishing multitudes around 
us, and the future millions which are quickly to rise up here 
and decide the destiny of our nation. When you consider 
the deplorable evils of a failure of this institution, and con- 
trast them with the infinite benefits to our country and to. 


the world likely to result from its success, we will confi- 
dently hope that your convictions on this subject will agree 
with our own, and that Dr. Beecher will find his people ready 
to make the sacrifice required, if he shall regard it his duty 
to accept our call." 

Dr. Beecher thus describes his first emotions on being 
made acquainted with the plan in view : 

" One day, after the building of the Bowdoin Street 
Church was commenced, I saw Vail and Cornelius coming 
along in the street toward me, talking earnestly about some- 
thing. I knew a theological seminary had been talked of, 
and that Vail was the agent, and the thought struck me, 
* Now they are going to pitch upon me I' 

"They let some things drop that showed me it Avas so. 
There was not on earth a place hut that I would have open- 
ed my ears to for a moment. But I had felt, and thought, 
and labored a great deal about raising up ministers, and the 
idea that I might be called to teach the best mode of preach- 
ing to the young ministry of the broad West flashed 
through my mind like lightning. I went home and ran in, 
and found Esther alone in the sitting-room. I was in such 
a state of emotion and excitement I could not speak, and she 
was frightened. At last I told her. It was the greatest 
thought that ever entered my soul ; it filled it, and displaced 
every thing else. 

" One thing that indirectly occasioned my being thought 
of, I have no doubt, was a little circumstance that had hap- 
pened not long before on one of the ISJ'orth River boats. I 
was coming down the river, when I saw a crowd where a 
pert fellow, a skeptic, was talking. I drew near the ring to 
hear and see what he was doing. I soon saw that his an- 
tagonist was not his match, and needed help. He was 

LANE. 24^ 

showing up the contradictions of the Bible ; among others, 
that Judas hanged himself, and in another place fell head- 
long, etc. 

" ' And how do you reconcile that T said he. 

" ' Why, sir,' said I, ' the rope broke, I suppose.' 

" ' How d'ye know ?' said he. 

" ' How d'ye know it didn't ?' said I, and that dashed him. 
People began to laugh. Then I stepped up close to his side 
and kindly said, ' I venture to say you are a child of pious 
parents, and are fighting against your conscience. That is 
a dangerous thing, and you had better give it up.' I told 
him if he ever came to Boston to call on me. * Why,' said 
he, 'I don't know who you be,' and half a dozen voices 
cried ' Dr. Beecher — Dr. Beecher.' 

" I told this to Taylor ;. Taylor told Arthur Tappan eulo- 
gistically ; and so, when Vail came on to New York, he 
found Tappan so well affected to me that he offered to give 
120,000 on condition I would go. That, with what he had 
known of me before, I always thought settlec^ it. So great 
things often grow out of little. I had had my interest ex- 
cited toward the West already, and had said, in a meeting 
of the General Association at Groton, ' We must not only 
send money, but go ourselves — fathers, mothers, sons. But 
perhaps you will say, ' Physician, heal thyself;' why do not 
you go ? I answer, When the Lord calls I will go, and I 
will send my children.' 

" Now, in less than a year, Edward was gone, and here 
came Yail and Cornelius quoting my own words to me. 
But the difficulty was that Hanover Church had been laid 
in ashes only a short time before, and my congregation, 
though united and harmonious, was much scattered ; but, 
in concurrence with my advice, and relying on my promise 
to stand by them while rebuilding, they had paid out sev- 


eral thousand dollars already, and incurred a debt of be- 
tween eighteen and twenty thousand more. Moreover, they 
had thrown up their trust deed by my advice, and organ- 
ized by a simple act of incorporation, giving the Church and 
society a concurrent vote. My promise, therefore, was not 
to the Church alone, but to the society, who would not be 
likely to be convinced it was my duty to go. 

" I called together a few of my best friends — Evarts, Wis- 
ner, Greene, and Cornelius — and they came to the conclusion 
that I was bound in honor to remain ; and that, even if I 
were not, it would not be for the public good for me to re- 
move at that time. So I Avas constrained to decline the 
invitation, and had all the care and anxiety of going forward 
with the church until the dedication. But the doubt and 
perplexity of my mind in deciding this question was such 
that, with all the other things pressing upon me, it aftected 
my nerves and health, and was a very, very severe thing." 

The following letter from Dr. Taylor will be read with 
interest in this connection : 

" Yale College, November 8, 1830. 

" Tour secret at Sherburne caused me almost a sleepless 
night. I can not think that the cause of Christ calls you 
to Cincinnati ; nor, if I may interpose in this case, on the 
ground conceded before you left Litchfield, can I give my 
consent. Suppose, now, that the man in New York could 
be induced to give his 820,000 to found a professorship for 
you at Yale, would it not be better ? * * * 

" The cause of truth and the interests of religion require 
that you come here. You have tried to qualify yourself to 
do what must be done in this part of the country. Your in- 
fluence and power on the heresy, the atheism, and the infi- 
delity of the land ; on the cause of revivals, the charitable 

LANE. 249 

enterprises of the age, can not, I think, be withdrawn from 
this part of the country without great loss on the whole. 

Hs * * 

" Now, if you say it would be better for you to come 
here, Goodrich and I will go and see Tappan, to persuade 
him if we can. It would be better still if you went with 
us. I know how the interests of the West fall on the heart 
of that good man ; but ice tJiree^ I think, could satisfy him 
that more would be done in this way than in that proposed. 
Now why will not you think so too, and come right on to 
New Haven, and we will go with you to New York ? * * 
Besides all this, we feel as if we had a prior claim ; and we 
have, in fact, a plan under way, which was to furnish a fund 
as soon as you would be ready to leave Boston. Now, 
brother, don't come to any final conclusion without farther 
conferring with us." 

While deliberating on this great question Dr. Beecher 
was by no means idle. In January, 1831, he commenced a 
series of lectures on Catholicism, in which he sounded an 
alarm in respect to the designs of Rome upon our country. 
About that time Professor Stowe succee'ded Asa Rand as 
associate editor of the Boston Recorder, in which capacity 
he made his mark upon the thinking of the day. In April 
Dr. Taylor visited Boston, to assist in a protracted meeting. 
In June the Bowdoin Street Church was dedicated ; ser- 
mon by Dr. Beecher on the text 1 Kings, viii., 27: "But 
will God indeed dwell on the earth ? Behold, the heaven 
of heavens can not contain thee, how much less this house 
that I have builded ?" 

In August Mr. Finney commenced preaching in Park 
Street and other churches in Boston with success. Through- 
out this whole interval the relisjious interest in Dr. Beech- 


er's congregation never entirely ceased. It may be said 
that from the time of his settlement to the time of his re- 
moval to the West there was one continuous, unbroken re- 
vival — less powerful, indeed, at some times, but never whol- 
ly intermitted. 

The following is an extract from a letter to a young min- 
ister discouraged in a hard field. It is a specimen of num- 
bers of the same kind which he was continually called to 
write in various directions : 

October 18, 1831. "You say, ' It is necessary a young man 
should succeed when he begins, and be where he can.' An- 
swer : There is no place where, if faithful, he can not suc- 
ceed, for there are two ways of succeeding ; one is success 
in building up, the other is such mental discipline and pas- 
toral fidelity as will raise liim^ though Israel be not gath- 

" But you say, ' The grand difficulty is, the churches do 
nothing — only willing to be boosted.' 

" This may be, but it is a fault very common in most 
churches. What did I do at Litchfield but to 'boost?' 
They all lay on me, and moved very little except as myself 
and God moved them. I spent sixteen of the best years of 
my life at a dead lift in boosting. I could not get my sala- 
ry paid quarterly or half yearly. I could not and did not 
get a vestry, but held conferences in that old West school- 
house, dark and dirty, lighted with candles begged or con- 
tributed among the neighbors, and stuck up on the side 
walls with old forks ; and at last we grew so liberal and ex- 
travagant as to buy half a dozen tin things to hang on the 
wall and put candles in. I can not revert to the scene with- 
out shuddering. My soul hath it in remembrance, and is 
humbled within me. 

" On the whole, I remark, it is a common thing^ almost 

LANE. 251 

universal^ for a person newly settled to get discouraged and 
run low somewhere about the close of the second year. 
Some break down. Others work up all their ideas, and grow 
discouraged and lazy, preach hasty, extempore sermons, neg- 
lect study, and are either dismissed, or, living through and 
seeing the danger, begin to rise and grow. And this has 
been the turning-point with many a man." 




Aftee a year's delay the call was renewed, and urged 
upon Dr. Beecher's acceptance. The following is an ex- 
tract from the letter of the secretary of the board : 

January 23, 1832. "A desperate effort is making to ruin 
the seminary and the board in the estimation of the public. 
Your own character, too, has been assailed in the public pa- 
pers of this city. Your theological opinions have been pro- 
nounced contrary to our Confession of Faith, and dangerous 
to the purity and peace of the Presbyterian Church. The 
idea is now busily inculcated that you can not renew your 
connection with our Church without the basest hypocrisy. 
This is working like leaven on the minds of a part of West- 
ern Christians, and if you do not now come on to the ground, 
you will have, at a subsequent period, a host of prejudices to 
encounter of the most formidable kind. 

" Besides, the cause of Christ is suffering by this delay. 
The minds of many Western Christians are becoming alien- 
ated from their brethren at the East by the fierce and bitter 
controversies which now agitate the public mind. Mission- 
aries who come out from New England are held up as her- 
etics, and every obstacle is thrown in the way of their effi- 
ciency and success. In the mean time the cause of Christ 
languishes, the Spirit's influences have been withdrawn, in- 
fidelity, popery, and every hurtful error are striking their 
roots deep in this fruitful soil, the wave of population rolls 
on, iniquity and vice are becoming loud and turbulent, and 


moral desolations are spreading out in wide and dreary pros- 
pect around us. A large portion of our ministers neglect 
their pastoral duties, and are busily engaged in hunting her- 
esy, in defaming the character of their brethren, and in blow- 
ing the coals of strife and division. Will you not, under 
these circumstances, come over and help us? Will you not 
come immediately ? The case is pressing and urgent. The 
armies of Israel need a leader. The land is before us in the 
length and the breadth of it, but the Amalekite and the Ca- 
naanite dwell there, together with the sons of Anak, and the 
people's heart is discouraged because we have no Joshua to 
say, ' Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into our hand.' " 

Among the influences brought to bear upon Dr. Beech- 
er's mind in the decision of this question was the following- 
letter from Dr. Skinner : 

"Philadelphia, February 16th, 1832. 

" You doubtless know that your appointment to the Pro- 
fessorship of Theology in the Lane Seminary is regarded 
throughout our country with deep interest. Many fear 
you will accept it, more that you will not. For my own 
part, I can not imagine any reasons so powerful against, as 
those which are palpably obvious for your accepting it. 
We can not see with God's eye ; peradventure it may not 
be best for you to leave Boston ; but you will act against 
the conviction of all the friends of anti-sectarian theology 
and religion in this and (as far as I know) every other part 
of the land if you decline this call to the West. 

"Om* eyes are fixed upon you as God's chosen vessel, 
eminently fitted and furnished for the great work which is 
to be done by some one in the place to which you have 
been invited ; and we are perfectly confident that you can 
not, in the remaining days of your life, do lialf tlie amount 


of good any where else. The efficient piety of the Church 
is Calvinistic; by Calviuistic Christians the world is to be 
converted ; they know this, and they have undertaken the 
work ; but you^ at leasts have eyes to see that the philoso- 
pJiy of Old Calvinism is a great mountain which impedes 
these Christians, and will impede them forever if it be not 
removed. All things in the universe beside do not hinder 
the progress of the Gospel so much as this one obstacle. 

"Arm the spirit which now reigns in the evangelical 
churches with just views of moral government and agency, 
and you bring the Millennium to the very doors. Now 
where in all the world can you do half as much to impart 
and disseminate such views as in the great Western Valley 
— the Valley of Decision in respect to this, and probably all 
other nations ? 

"How wonderfully, too, do all things seem to be con- 
spiring in favor of this movement ! Hear the doleful com- 
plaints, the long-drawn sighs of fatalism. Behold what 
transformations in the very heart of the old system ! How 
does public sentiment gain strength as revivals give their 
divine sanction to the simple and consistent preaching of 
our brethren ! What dementations are taking place among 
prelatical and Diotrephesian Presbyterians ! Oh, for such a 
mind and heart as yours, to lay hold of the opportunity 
now affi)rded you for making an impression on the Church 
in this land ! Do not, my most estimable friend, suffer this 
opportunity to pass away unimproved. ISTo local Church 
ought to think of raising an objection. The people would 
deserve a distinguished curse who should refuse to give 
you up. 

"I have never seen so much of your excellent son Ed- 
ward as I have done during his late visit to this place. 
Providence sent him to us just at the time when we most 


needed him, and when he could do most for his object. He 
preached like an apostle, and we shall never forget him. 
If he could stay here we should instantly build a church 
for him ; but we must let the West have him. Our revival 
is still advancing." 

A very elaborate letter was also received from Messrs. 
Mahan, Vail, and Blanchard, urging, on behalf of the board, 
an immediate acceptance of the call. To this Dr. Beecher 
replied as follows : 

"Boston, March 17, 1832. 

" The scenes of a four days' meeting and a subsequent re- 
vival, and the conflict between two such great demands, ren- 
dered it impossible for me, until now, to bring my mind to 
any, settled conclusion ; but in what I now say I am fixed, 
and move on solid ground. 

" My views and feelings concerning the importance of the 
Lane Seminary remain unchanged, and I am willing to re- 
linquish any thing and to do any thing during the remain- 
der of my days to raise up the institutions of the West 
which God shall indicate to be my duty. 

"The question of comparative usefulness has, however, 
considerably changed since my former call. Then I thought 
my special work here nearly done ; now it seems to be but 
beginning, as it respects a favorable access to the public 
mind. Then it was the condition of my own people which 
hindered ; now it is the condition of the city which remon- 
strates, almost emptied of ministers. These, however, as I 
hope, are only temporary exigencies, and probably not to be 
laid in the balance against those of the West. It will not, 
however, be prudent, as I think, to decide until I shall have 
surveyed the premises, and seen those with whom I am to act 
face to face, and by consultation have attained to a thorough 


and mutual understanding; for if I come, I can not come to 
change or to cojiceal my theological opinions, or to teach and 
preach them without a cordial co-operation. 

"I have therefore concluded to come on and see you as 
soon as possible, setting out probably by the first of April. 
The removal of my family will not be prudent or practica- 
ble till fall ; but, should I conclude to return to Cincinnati, 
I might prolong my stay, if needed to assist in consultations 
and preliminary arrangements, so as to answer nearly the 
same purpose as if I had made a permanent removal. In 
the mean time I have some thoughts, of which it may not 
be improper to put you in possession, whether myself or an- 
other shall be employed by heaven to rear up the institution. 

" I should exceedingly deprecate the annual drilling of a 
class one year in Biblical literature, the next in theology, and 
lastly in composition and eloquence — one stratum of knowl- 
edge piled on another, without any cement between ; about 
as wise as if a man should eat his meat one day, and his veg- 
etables the next, and his pies and cake on the third. My de- 
sire Avould be to blend the united services of all the profess- 
ors in raising up the student to a perfect man, that ' all the 
body fitly framed, having nourishment ministered and knit 
together, might increase with the increase of God.' 

" I think it highly important that the theological instruct- 
or should, if possible, sustain the pastoral relation, and the 
students worship with him in a popular assembly — that while 
in the acquisition of doctrine they might witness its applica- 
tion, and feel its power, and observe its effect. How can 
the full and warm tide of piety be maintained in the hearts 
of students shut up to be preached to, and to preach to one 
another, without the variety of instruction and social influ- 
ence which appertains to a popular assembly ? The soul of 
eloquence \^ feeling ^m^^ in the ministry holy feeling; but 


feeling without social excitement is impossible, and all elo- 
quence unpromj^ted by it is but parrot eloquence, alike of- 
fensive to God and man. Of all the mistakes made by great 
and good 'men, that of shutting up theological students on 
the Sabbath in a chapel, to be edified by classical accuracy 
at the exj)ense of feeling and untrammeled eloquence, is one 
of the greatest — a kind of preaching having no more rela- 
tion to that for which they should be preparing, than a sham 
fight with friends bears to a real battle. 

"It is no less important that he who preaches to theo- 
logical students should himself feel the inspiration which the 
pastoral relation alone aflTords, and bring forth the treasures 
new and old which the ever-varying exigencies of a church 
and congregation can alone suggest. And how, without 
some such living stimulus, is his heart to be kept on fire 
and his lips made apt to teach ? Of all the men of talents 
and piety who have ceased from the pastoral relation, I have 
never known one who made any advance, or held his own, 
or did not manifestly retrograde as a preacher — who, like 
Samson, was not, to some extent, shorn of his locks, or, like 
the channel of a summer brook, comparatively emptied. 

"Nor is the reason obscure. By the pastoral relation a 
wakeful interest is created for which there is no substitute. 
Habits of mental discipline, also, are preserved by the de- 
mands of the Sabbath constantly occurring, and a variety of 
subjects, and freshness and vivacity of illustration, and argu- 
ment, and application, in no other way to be obtained. No 
artificial stimulus can so speak in eye, and action, and into- 
nation as benevolence travailing in birth for souls, and ex- 
ulting in the midst of renovated, rejoicing minds. My esti- 
mation of the wisdom of God in the foolishness of preach- 
ing, as putting in requisition to the highest point both the 
energies of mind and heart, has been continually increasing 


with time and observation ; and after what I have witness- 
ed of retrograde movement, as preachers, in those who have 
rehnquished the pastoral relation, it would not be without 
fear that I should place myself in such circumstances. 

" Indeed, so long have I lived, and moved, and had my be- 
ing as the soul of an affectionate people, that to be unclothed 
at my time of life would seem almost like attempting to act 
on men in a disembodied state. Whether the pastoral care 
and theological instruction can be united in the same person 
I can not tell ; but if it can be, nothing, in my opinion, can 
be more desirable ; for, as I judge, the bold character of the 
West, midway between the fiery ardor of the South and the 
more phlegmatic ]!^orth, provides the noblest possible mate- 
rial for the formation of a class of preachers who shall com- 
bine a power of intellect, an ardor of piety, a power of elo- 
quence, and energy of action such as the world has not seen, 
and which not only the West, but the world itself, can not 
fail to feel. 

" In respect to the probability of my removal, I have only 
to say that the chief uncertainty, in my opinion, will have 
reference to the state of my health. For the present routine 
of duties I am competent, but how much the excitements 
and perplexities of a removal may occasion disease beyond 
the power of the will to avert, I can not tell. I can only say 
that if, after a full view of the subject, there shall appear to 
be a rational prospect of success in the establishment of such 
a seminary as we desire, it is my purpose, as at present ad- 
vised, to accept the call and come on with my family in the 
fall, provided the condition of my health shall render it prac- 
ticable and prudent. May the Lord preserve and guide us 
all to do his will and trust his promises !" 




In the early part of 1832 the pages of the Spirit of the 
Pilgrims were opened to a discussion between Dr. Tyler and 
Dr. Taylor, forming the fourth stage of the Kew Haven 
controversy. About the same time a correspondence com- 
menced between Dr. Beecher and Dr. Woods in the same 
periodical, preceded and accompanied by an active inter- 
change of letters in private, the object of which was, if pos- 
sible, to allay excitement and dissuade from controversy. 
From the unpublished correspondence a few extracts are 
here given : 

June 6, 1832, Dr. Woods writes ; " Thanks for your letter, 
in which you utter your whole heart so frankly. What you 
write has touched my heart. I know well what it is to be 
full of anxiety, and distress, and fear, and I can sympathize 
with you most sincerely and tenderly as far as my heart 
goes. Your heart, I believe, is much more enlarged, and 
disinterested, and holy than mine ; so I have thought and 
felt uniformly. I never converse with you or hear you 
without having my love toward you kindled. Though I 
have sometimes doubted the propriety of what you have 
said or done, I have always esteemed and loved you ; and I 
trust I always shall, if I gain a place among the inhabitants 
of heaven ; and it seems to me it Avill be what I shall be 
greatly pleased with, to sit down there and talk over with 
you the things which are now taking place, and particularly 
those things in which we are jointly concerned. Oh, how 


high will be our emotions of gratitude toward God for car- 
rying us through these scenes of labor, and fear, and anxie- 
ty, and grief! * * * 

August 8. " I have been reading your letter again to-day, 
and find my heart drawn out toward you in love and confi- 
dence. Your sincerity, and kindness, and generosity com- 
mand my strongest aflections. I am ready to weep when I 
think how much happiness we might have enjoyed, and how 
much good we might have done, had we been united in our 
efforts for these few years past. But I bless God the time 
for co-operation has come, and I hope we shall do much in 
a little time. 

" On my part there are many and stubborn difficulties. I 
shall be obliged to go against the feelings of many of my 
dearest friends. I have already done this in engaging in a 
correspondence with you in this way. I have many cau- 
tions given me, hear of many fears, and expect to see signs 
of decided disapprobation, and of the withdrawment of con- 
fidence. These things make my heart ache ; but they don't 
move me in the least. Firm as a rock I feel this heart of 
mine to be, being fully persuaded that we are doing what 
God approves. I have counted the cost. I suppose you 
have. I mean to be perfectly honest and fair ; I know you 
do. I suspect myself more than I do you. But you will 
have some severe trials with your particular friends. 

" I heard a man who loves and esteems you highly say 
lately, ' Depend on it, Dr. Beecher will neither say nor do 
any thing which will make against Dr. Taylor, or in any 
way displease him.' I told him you did not agree with Dr. 
Taylor in all his points, and never had. He replied, * Well, 
you won't get him to say so.' I told him that he was mis- 
taken ; that I believed you would say out honestly and un- 
reservedly just what you believed on any subject, whether 


you agreed with Dr. Taylor or not. He said you would not 
do it. I told him I could not believe you capable of any 
servility ; that I believed you had true, manly independence. 
" I have started with the determination not to cover over 
or spare what is wrong in myself or in my party. My dear 
brother, I have made up my mind to act for Christ, and for 
the judgment day. As for any respect of persons, love of 
man's favor, fear of his displeasure, or reluctance to deny 
myself and suffer, I tell these things, ' Stand by, and hinder 
me not in what I have undertaken, with my dear brother, 
for the cause of truth and love.' " 

About this time Dr. Beecher published his sermon on De- 
pendence and Free Agency, the proofs of which were sent 
to Dr. Woods for his suggestions, and subsequently for- 
warded to Dr. Beecher at Xew York by Dr. Wisner, who 
had kindly assumed the final revision, to whom Dr. Beecher 
writes as follows : 

Octoher^ 1832. "Yours was received in New York, and 
read with an entire reciprocation of affection and interesting 
recollection, and had I not for some time sealed up the 
fountain of feeling and tears as things for the present too 
expensive to be indulged, I should have shaken with emo- 
tion and poured out a flood. As it is, I read it with great 
delight, and warmth of heart, and sweet comfort, and grati- 
tude to God that we had been given to one another for so 
long a time in so many, and such difficult and grievous en- 
terprises, whose results yet to come will be, I doubt not, as 
the bounteous harvest exceeds the penurious seed which is 
sown. And amid the temporary shipwrecks of many hopes 
by the frosts of this untimely controversy, it is cheering to 
reflect that no shade has passed over our minds creating 
suspicion, and no wave dashed upon and sunken the imraov- 


able foundation of our friendship, which, I doubt not, will 
be perpetual. It would be easy to fill many pages with the 
overflowings of my heart in delightful yet painful reminis- 
cences which must not be indulged on earth, but for which 
there will be time and strength in heaven. Till then we 
shall be constrained to think much of each other and the 
past, and say but little. 

"I send back by Eastman the proof-sheets of my sermon, 
with Dr. Woods's letter. There is some foundation for his 
remarks about the unfinished state of the manuscript, but 
not in sentiment, of whiph in no respect would I authorize 
any alteration, for it is mature, and for good cause that I 
have written, as I judge. A sentence obscure you may make 
plain, or too long break into two, and you may substitute 
any word more acceptable to my good brother, Dr. Woods, 
which does not affect the sense in perspicacity, precision, 
and force or point. I perceive that in looking the proof over 
he has penciled the places where I speak expressly against 
moral taste or instinct, etc., and where I put in volunta- 
ry to qualify sin, etc., and in one place proposes wickedness, 
I believe. Now I can not consent to be silent or equivocal 
on those points. I might as well not write as not to speak 

"I must add that, while I confide in the general friend- 
ship and candor of my good brother, I am fully persuaded 
that he, and Porter, and Stewart had rather pay for the 
whole expense of setting the types than to have it printed 
just now. I read the sermon at ISTew Haven, and they ad- 
vised its publication with sufiicient commendation. If you 
think it will dishonor me, after all that Dr. Woods and you 
can do, I shall begin to demur ; but, till then, I say. Revise 
and publish." 

To this Dr. Wisner replies, December 1, 1 838 : " The next 


day after I got home from New York I saw Dr. Woods, and 
he talked to me about yom' sermon in a way which some- 
what alarmed me, indicating that he had no idea of yom- 
having given to me the right of umpireship in regard to 
suggesting alterations from him and others. I said noth- 
ing about it, however. And when Eastman brought me 
the proofs from Philadelphia, I sent them up at once to 
Dr. Woods. =^ * * I gave him some extracts from your 
letter, * * * because I foresaw that I could not assent 
to certain alterations he would propose, and I wished him 
to know that my dissent was in conformity to your views. 

" He sent back the sheet with his suggestions, with a 
note in which he said : ' The principle on which I have act- 
ed in all my attentions to Dr. Beecher's manuscripts, and 
this proof as much as any, is this, to do what I can to make 
what he writes as excellent and unexceptionable as possible, 
considered as his, not as mine. I have not meant to sug- 
gest the addition of a phrase or a word, or any alteration 
whatever, which would distort, or conceal, or in any way 
change any thing which he believed and wished to publish 
as truth. It would be wholly contrary to our plan of inter- 
course. My whole labor has been, as he well knows, to 
make him^ Dr. Beecher^ appear as well as possible in his 
own dress and with his own characteristics. And when he 
wrote to you as though you must take care lest I should 
leave in something or leave out something contrary to his 
sober convictions, he forgot the terms of our friendship. 
Accordingly, I consider him perfectly ansicerable for every 
thing in his sermon (as in his letters), and myself not an- 
swerable for any thing ; and I shall feel just as free to re- 
mark on any thing in the sermon as though I had never 
seen it. My object will be secured if there is nothing in it 
which will unnecessarily occasion animadversion. Our aim 


has been to have as little objection to each other as possi- 
ble. You will proceed with the sermon as you judge best.' 

" I wrote back that the principle by which he stated he 
had governed himself in making suggestions was precise- 
ly the one on which I should proceed in revising the ser- 
mon, * * * and that I was happy to find that I could 
adopt most of his suggestions ; but some of them, and they 
among those, probably, which he would consider most im- 
portant, I must, on the same principle, reject. * * * And 
now I hope you will like this, and all that I have done. It 
cost me an immense deal of trouble especially to find and 
verify your quotations, to which you had left no manner of 
clew. Had I had the same to do for any body I loved less 
than my dearly beloved brother Dr. Beecher, my patience 
would have been exhausted." 

In commenting on the above sermon in his third letter to 
Dr. Beecher in the Spirit of the Pilgrims for January, 1833, 
Dr. Woods observes at the outset, " Between your views 
and mine on the subject of man's cd>ility and inability there 
is not, so far as I can judge, any real disagreement. You 
do, indeed, sometimes use language difierent from that which 
I am accustomed to use; but w^hen you come to explain 
your language, * * you show that you have a meaning 
which I can fully adopt." 

" It is not my design," he adds, " to controvert any of the 
positions which you lay down on the subject oi ability and 
inability. Putting a candid and fair construction on your 
language, and considering you as agreeing with those ex- 
cellent authors to whom you refer with approbation, I am 
satisfied, as I have before said, that there is no material dif- 
ference between your opinions and mine on this subject. 
My remarks, therefore, will relate chiefly, if not wholly, to 
modes of expression P 


Accordingly, toward the close of the article he observes, 
" The free remarks which I have been making" (about twen- 
ty pages) " have, as you have seen, related to the use of terms 
where, according to the supposition, there is no real differ- 
ence of opinion."* 

* The sermon whose history is here given is one of those on which Dr. 
Wilson subsequently founded the charge of heresy. 

Vol. II.— M 




Cincinnati was laid out when Dr. Beecher was a school- 
boy of fourteen. At his settlement at East Hampton, the 
Queen City contained about five hundred inhabitants, which, 
on his removal to Litchfield, had increased to twenty -five 
hundred. Ohio was then, to the New England imagination, 
at a vast distance, and the sight of an occasional emigrant's 
Avagon excited a feeling as for those going out of the world. 
How impressive the thought of a mighty city, and mightier 
state, growing up in a man's lifetime, to become the scene 
of his most arduous exertions ! When Dr. Beecher first vis- 
ited the city, previous to moving his family, there were two 
colleges, twenty-three churches, and some fifty-three com- 
mon schools, besides various other public institutions. Al- 
ready pioneer life w^as forgotten, or remembered only as a 
dream. The following letter describes some of the first im- 
pressions received during the visit above mentioned : 

Catharine to Harriet. 

"Cincinnati, April 17, 1832. 
"Here we are at last at our journey's end, alive and well. 

We are staying with Uncle S , whose establishment I 

shall try to sketch for you. It is on a height in the upper 
part of the city,* and commands a fine view of the whole of 
the lower town, the river, and the towns and hills on the 
opposite bank. There is a main building, occupied by Un- 

* The city stands partly on the first and partly on the second bank of 
^'•^^e river, the upper part being fifty feet above the lower. 


cle S , and two wings, by two intimate friends, one of 

whom is an old Litchfield acquaintance of mine, and his wife 
one of my early playmates. Uncle John lives two squares 
off, in a pleasant situation. 

" The city does not impress you as being so very new. It 
is true every thing looks neat and clean, but it is compact, 
and a great number of the houses are of brick, and very 
handsomely built. The streets run at right angles to each 
other, and are quite wide and well paved. 

"We reached here in three days from Wheeling, and 
soon felt ourselves at home. The next day father and I, 
with three gentlemen, walked out to Walnut Hills. The 
country around the city consists of a constant succession 
and variety of hills of all shapes and sizes, forming an exten- 
sive amphitheatre. The site of the seminary is very beauti- 
ful and picturesque, though I was disappointed to find that 
both river and city are hidden by intervening hills. I nev- 
er saw a place so- capable of being rendered a Paradise by 
the improvements of taste as the environs of this city. Wal- 
nut Hills are so elevated and cool that people have to come 
away to be sick and die, it is said. The seminary is located 
on a farm of one hundred and twenty acres of fine land, 
with fine groves of trees around it, about two miles from 
the city. 

" It seems to me that every body I used to know is here, 
or coming here. Besides my two uncles, there is Ned. 
King, an old Litchfield beau, and mother's own cousin, now 
General King ; Cousin E. Tuthill ; Abraham Chittenden's 
family, from Guilford ; Mrs. James Butler, from Litchfield ; 
Mr. and Mrs. Brigham, with whom we used to board at Dr. 
Strong's, and divers others, whom I recognize as old ac- 

" I think a very pleasant society can be selected from the 


variety which is assembled here. Yesterday father preach- 
ed in the morning and in the evening to crowded houses, and 
to great acceptance, as I should judge. * * * In regard 
to father's removal, I feel, as I have long done, that it will 
take place, and, so far as I can judge, he feels much more 
settled in his own mind than he did w^hen he left. The 
healthiness of the location has removed the greatest cause 
of apprehension from his mind." 

May 2. " Father, and Mary F , and I have made di- 
vers peregrinations on horseback and on foot, and I am de- 
lighted daily with the beautiful country that environs this 
place. We have finally decided on the spot where our 
house shall stand in case we decide to come, and you can 
not (where running water or the sea-shore is wanting) find 
another more delightful spot for a residence. It is on an 
eminence, with a grove running up from the back to the 
very doors, and another grove across the street in front, and 
fine openings through which distant hills and the richest 
landscape appears. * * * 

" I have become somewhat acquainted with those ladies 
we shall have the most to do with, and find them intelligent, 
New England sort of folks. Indeed, this is a New England 
city in all its habits, and its inhabitants are more than half 
from New England. The Second Church, which is the best 
in the city, will give father a unanimous call to be their 
minister, with the understanding that he is to give them 
what time he can spare from the theological seminary. 

" I know of no place in the world where there is so fair 
a prospect of finding every thing that makes social and do- 
mestic life pleasant. Uncle John and Samuel are just the 
intelligent, sociable, free, and hospitable sort of folk that ev- 
ery body likes and every body feels at home with. 

" The folks here are very anxious to have a school on our 


plan set on foot here. * * * They have fine rooms in 
the city college building, which is now unoccupied, and ev- 
ery body ready to lend a helping hand. * * * 

" As to father, I never saw such a field of usefulness and 
influence as is offered to him here. I see no difficulties or 
objections ; every thing is ready, and every body gives a 
welcome except Dr. Wilson's folks, and they are finding that 
it is wisest and best to be still, and we hope that before a 
great while they will he friendly. Father is determined to 
get acquainted with Dr. Wilson, and to he friendly with him, 
and I think he will succeed." 




De. Beecher, as has already been seen, never left a Church 
without arguing the case thoroughly. In the present in- 
stance his argument to his people was unusually elaborate, 
from the magnitude of the interests involved. Before, how- 
ever, addressing the Church and society, there was a higher 
and more solemn appeal to be made, which, we are thankful 
to find, has been preserved, and is as follows : 

"And now, O Lord my God, whom I have served from 
my youth in the ministry of Thy Son, and whose favor, given 
to me in ihe eyes of men, with opportunities to do good, and 
success in the attempt, has been as undeserved as it was un- 
expected ; since Thou who didst give me being, and call me 
to the ministry, and hast in times past summoned me from 
one station to another of increasing responsibility, through 
all of which Thou hast sustained me, and granted me the 
desire of my heart beyond what I asked or thought, dost 
now call me to undertake duties still more responsible and 
difficult, what am I that I should distrust Thy sufficiency, or 
fear to confide in Thy protection and support, or withhold 
from Thy cause whatever may remain of my more experi- 
enced and matured powers? I give them all, O my glori- 
ous God and Savior, unto Thee in this great work, for which 
Thou, and only Thou, canst strengthen me. 

" Thou knowest the burning desire of my heart for the 
West long before Thy voice said to me. Go and fulfill thy 
desires, and the burden of my soul for the millions of my 


perishing countrymen are not hid from Thee. To my tears 
Thou hast been a witness; and my great heaviness and con- 
tinual sorrow, which can not be uttered, for my country and 
for this whole most miserable world, Thou^Lord, knowest. 

" And now, if there be any thing which by living I can 
do, or by dying I can do, to mitigate on earth the miseries 
of sin, and to save my country, and to save the world, then 
speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth. 

" I do, therefore, now consecrate myself to Thee, O Lord, 
my Savior and my God, in the service to which Thou hast 
called me, to assist in raising up the foundations of Thy king- 
dom in the West. I accept in Thy sight, and for Thy sake 
and Thy kingdom, the call to the Lane Seminary and the call 
to the Church in Cincinnati, which Thou hast purchased by 
Thy blood ; and I resign to Thee the Church and people 
which Thou hast given me, who are ineffably dear to me ; 
and this city, the scene of arduous conflicts in high places, 
where Thou hast guided, sustained, and defended me ; and 
this vicinity, more and more distant, to which it has been 
Thy good pleasure that my influence should extend; all these 
churches, the care of which I have felt, and some of which 
have arisen by my instrumentality ; and all those ministers 
whom I have loved, and who have loved and aided me ; and 
especially my most dearly beloved brethren in the ministry 
with whom I have seen eye to eye, and with whom so often 
in such perils, and difiiculties, and conflicts, and labors, I have 
been engaged ; and all the great interests of Thy kingdom 
which Thou hast committed to us, and for the time main- 
tamed by us — Lord, at Thy bidding, I resign them all to 
Thy care and keeping. 

" Thou knowest that I would willingly stay and finish here 
the work Thou gavest me to do, and Thou knowest I am 
willing to leave all and serve thee at the West, if it be Thy 


will. If I have misunderstood Thy voice and my duty, Thou 
seest my honest, earnest desire to know and willingness to 
do Thy will, and wilt, I can not doubt, forgive my mistake. 
And if Thou hast called me to resign a field of such deep 
interest and high promise, Thou, Savior, Thou wilt not per- 
mit Thy cause to be injured here by my removal, and wilt 
not send me unaided and unblessed to my new field of labor. 
"And now, most dear of all, I resign up to Thee, and com- 
mit to Thee, from the fullness of a heart overflowing with 
love, one of the most affectionate and desirable churches and 
congregations with which it has pleased Thee to bless an un- 
worthy servant of Thine, who have been to me, and are, next 
to Thyself, and Thy great, dear cause, and my own family, 
dearer than all which I possess on the earth. O save them, 
build them up, prosper them, and magnify still in them and 
by them the riches of Thy grace ! Amen." 

Extract from an Address to the Bowdoin Street Church 
and Society^ July 5, 1832. 

" * * * I regard my acceptance as securing the es- 
tablishment and endowment of a theological seminary bear- 
ing the same relation of priority and eminence at the West 
which Andover holds at the East. Its location on the 
skirts of the central city of the West will better unite the 
city and seminary influence than the location of Andover 
has enabled it to do, though the mutual action here of the 
city and seminary has been great and glorious. It is a lo- 
cation sufficiently central and accessible for the States and 
four millions of population, and is connected with forty 
thousand miles of steam-boat navigation on the various riv- 
ers of the West. 

"Though the doctrines of the Reformation and the creeds 
of the evangelical churches embrace, I have no doubt, all 



the great elementary principles of the Word of God, experi- 
ence abroad and at home shows that they may be inculcated 
in such a manner as to be attended by no revivals and few 
conversions, with cold and feeble churches of Antinomian 
tendencies, and throwing out among them, by their repul- 
sion, Arminianism, and heresy, and infidelity — causing error 
to flourish and truth to decline. 

" The exigencies of our country demand seminaries, and 
exposition of doctrine, and preachers of such zeal and activ- 
ity as guarantee, by the grace of God, the increasing effu- 
sion of his Spirit. And the question whether the first and 
leading seminary of the West shall be one which inculcates 
orthodoxy with or without revivals, is a question, in my 
view, of as great importance as was ever permitted a single 
human mind to decide. If I accept I consider the question 
settled that a revival seminary takes the lead, and so much 
and so powerfully as inevitably to give a complexion prob- 
ably forever to the doctrine and revivals of that great 

" If I look at the leadings of Providence in the direction 
and discipline of my own mind, I can not but perceive what 
seems to be some providential preparation and action for 
such a work. It is true that preaching has been almost my 
sole employment, but it has been preaching in circumstances 
somewhat peculiar: for the first ten years to a congrega- 
tion of implicit believers in the doctrines and in revivals 
with which they had been greatly blessed, but in the pres- 
ence of a crafty, caviling infidelity, which had led away 
nearly the whole youthful generation of young men, the 
greater portion of whom I left members of the Church, and 
nearly every one rescued from infidelity and settled in the 
doctrines of the Gospel ; the next sixteen years in a field 
where my predecessor had pushed the points of unexplained 



hyper-Calvinism to the confines of Antinomianism, and had 
thrown off some to Armiuianism, and embodied others in a 
baud of half doubting, half believing chafed murmm-ers and 
complainers, all of whom became convinced of the truth — 
most of whom, during my ministry or since, have become 
members of the Church ; and the last six in explaining and 
vindicating the same system, where, to a fearful extent, all 
definite belief in the Bible and its doctrines had ceased, and 
where all the great elements of moral government and all 
efficient sense of accountability had passed away, and, if I 
may trust my own observation or the testimony of others, 
not without some marked indications of a public sentiment 
formed and forming, and returning, with a decided move- 
ment, to the Bible, and its doctrines and institutions. 

" The result has been that although I have never been 
immured with books in my study, or occupied as a disputant 
in theological controversy, my mind has been constantly 
employed and disciplined in the exposition, for popular ap- 
prehension, vindication, and application for saving purposes, 
of the great doctrines of the Reformation ; and when I look 
back and perceive that one third of my public ministry has 
been occupied in the labors of revivals among my own peo- 
ple, I have dared to hope that in my mode of explaining 
and applying the doctrines of the Bible I have not been 
unguided by the Spirit, and so confess that the call now 
made upon me in providence to attempt to write upon the 
mind and heart of a generation of ministers the results of 
my somewhat extended experience, which in no other form 
can be embodied and left for use, leads me to inquire seri- 
ously whether He who sees the end from the beginning may 
not have been preparing me for the self-same thing by the 
unusual vicissitudes of my ministry. 

"Whether I am qualified to do it or not, I am well con- 


vinced that the peace and power of the Church demands 
nothing so imperiously as a ministry inspired with ^al^ en- 
larged by comprehensive views, blessed with a discrimina- 
ting intellect, and an acute but animated and popular ar- 
gumentation, imtrammeled by reading written polished ser- 
mons, and able, with a clear mind and full heart, to look 
saint and sinner in the face with an eye that speaks, and a 
hand that energizes, and a heart that overflows, and words 
that burn ; competent and disposed, under the guidance of 
the wisdom which is from above, to convince gainsayers, 
allay fears, soothe prejudice, inspire confidence and co-op- 
eration in revivals and public charities, and all good things 
on the part of all, of every name, who substantially hold fast 
the truth, and love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. * * 

" You are not to suppose that I have come to a conclusion 
without a minute, extensive, and careful examination of the 
arguments against a removal, pursued with a deep sense of 
their importance, and with great anxiety, and uncertainty, 
and suspense, and distress of mind in respect to the path of 
duty, as being undiscernible and shut up. * * * 

"The appearance of a controversial division which threat- 
ens Xew England has not escaped my observation or failed 
to alarm my fears, and there have been times when it has 
almost decided my mind that I must stay, and here contend 
earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. But I 
have come to the conclusion fully that, though there are 
shades of difference among ministers, they respect circum- 
stantials and not fundamentals, are amplified by misap- 
prehension and alarm, are not inconsistent with the bless- 
ing of God in revivals on either side, respect rather the or- 
der and proportion of truth than any material difference 
in practice, which time, and patience, and public sentiment, 
and, if need be, the Associations, by careful examinations in 


individual cases, will rectify ; while a petulant, exasperating 
controversy would serve only to drive excess to greater 
excess, and disproportions to more hurtful extremes. 

" And when I see the cause of temperance, and missions, 
and revivals all moving the right way, and such dark clouds 
dispelled as just now threatened earthquake, fire, and storm 
over a large portion of the Church, and see the tears flow, 
and hear the song, ' Blest be the tie that binds,' sung at the 
close of the most stormy session of a great ecclesiastical 
body ever experienced, I can not beheve that God intends 
to give the ministers of ISTew England up to the infatuated 
madness and folly of rushing into an angry controversy; and 
if they should do it, I could not perceive it to be my duty to 
remain and wear out my strength and spirit in contending 
with good men after the Holy Spirit had left us, and the 
voice from the West still rose above the din of battle crying 
Come over and help us. 

" Against the enemies of the Lord I can lift up the spear 
with good will, but with the friends of Jesus Christ I can 
not find it in my heart to enter into controversy. No, I 
can not, I can not do it !" 




Harriet to Mrs. P 

''October 6, 1832. 

" Well, my dear, the great sheet is out and the letter is 
begun. All our family are here (in New York), and in good 
health. The only noticeable event to-day was a call from 
Zillah (of East Hampton memory). She looks quite as usu- 
al ; voice soft as ever ; is keeping house with Violet, in very 
comfortable circumstances. I should be very glad if I were 
quite sure that I filled up my chink in this mortal life as 
well as she does. 

" I forgot to tell you that we are staying at Mr. Henry 
Tallmadge's, son of our good colonel. Mother and her 

tribe are at Mr. T 's. Father is to perform to-night in 

the Chatham Theatre, ' positively for the last time this sea- 
son.' I don't know, I'm sure, as we shall ever get to Pitts- 
burg. Father is staying here begging money for the Bibli- 
cal Literature professorship ; the incumbent is to be C. 
Stowe. He called yesterday on S. Van Rensselaer, and 
made such representations as induced him to subscribe a 
thousand dollars on the spot. They had really quite an af- 
fecting time, by all accounts ; but, as I can not tell you as 
father told us, you must lose it. How long we are to stay 
here nobody knows. Father says we are in the hands of 
Providence ; but mother and Aunt Esther seem to demur, 
and think they should rather trust Providence by the way. 

'•''Monday morning. Last night we had a call from Ax'- 


thur Tappan and Mr. Eastman. Father begged 82000 yes- 
terday, and now the good people are praying him to abide 
certain days, as he succeeds so well. They are talking of 
sending ns off and keeping him here. I really dare not go 
and see Aunt Esther and mother now; they were in the 
depths of tribulation before at staying so long, and now 

"In the lowest depth, another deep ! 

Father has been this morning in high spirits. He is all in 
his own element — dipping into books — consulting authori- 
ties for his oration — going around here, there, and every 
where — begging, borrowing, and spoiling the Egyptians — 
delighted with past success, and confident for the future." 

'•''Philadelphia^ October 18. Well, we did get away from 
N'ew York at last, but it was through much tribulation. 
The truckman carried all the family baggage to the wrong 
wharf, and, after waiting and waiting on board the boat, we 
were obliged to start without it, George remaining to look 
it lip. Arrived here late Saturday evening — dull, drizzling 
weather — poor Aunt Esther in dismay — not a clean cap to 
put on — mother in like state — all of us destitute. We went 
half to Dr. Skinner's and half to Mrs. Elmes's — mother, Aunt 
Esther, father, and James to the former ; Kate, Bella, and 
myself to Mr. Elmes's. They are rich, hospitable folks, and 
act the part of Gains in apostolic times. 

" Our trunks came this morning. Father stood and saw 
them all brought into Dr. Skinner's entry, and then he swung 
his hat and gave a ' hurrah,' as any man would whose wife 
had not had a clean cap or ruffle for a week. Father does 
not succeed very well in opening purses here. Mr. Eastman 
says, however, that this is not of much consequence. I saw 
to-day a notice in the Philadelphian about father, setting 
forth how Hhis distinguished brother, with his large family, 


having torn themselves from the endearing scenes of their 
home,' etc., etc., ' were going, like Jacob,' etc. — a very scrip- 
tural and appropriate flourish. I do hate this way of speak- 
ing of Christian people. It is too much after the manner 
of men, or, as Paul says, speaking ' as a fool.' A number of 
the pious people of this city are coming here this evening to 
hold a prayer-meeting with reference to the journey and its 
object — for this I thank them." 

'-'' Dovmingtoicn^ Pa.^ October 19. Here we all are — ISToah, 
and his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, with the cat- 
tle and creeping things, all dropped down in the front par- 
lor of this tavern, about thirty miles from Philadelphia. If 
to-day is a fair specimen of our journey, it will be very 
pleasant — obliging driver, good roads, good spirits, good 
dinner, fine scenery, and now and then some 'psalms, and 
hymns, and spiritual songs,' for with George on board you 
may be sure of music of some kind. Moreover, George has 
provided himself with a quantity of tracts, and he and the 
children have kept up a regular discharge at all the way- 
faring people we encountered. 'I tell him he is peppering 
the land with moral influence." 

" Harrishurg^ Sunday evening. Mother, Aunt Esther, 
George, and the little folks have just gathered into Kate's 
room, and we have just been singing. Father has gone to 
preach for Mr. De Witt. To-morrow we expect to travel 
sixty-two miles, and in two more days shall reach Wheel- 
ing ; there we shall take the steam-boat to Cincinnati." 

{From a letter by George.) " We had poor horses in cross- 
ing the mountains. Our average rate for the last four days 
to Wheeling was forty-four miles. The journey which takes 
the mail-stage forty-eight hours, took us eight days. At 
Wheeling we deliberated long whether to go on board a 
boat for Cincinnati, but the prevalence of the cholera there 


at last decided us to remain. While at Wheeling father' 
preached eleven times — nearly every evening — and gave 
them the Taylorite heresy on sin and decrees to the highest 
notch; and what ^mused me most was to hear him estab- 
lish it from the Confession of Faith. It went high and dry, 
however, above all objections, and they were delighted with 
it, even the strong Old School men, since it had not been 
christened heresy in their hearing. After remaining in 
Wheeling eight days, we chartered a stage for Cincinnati, 
and started next morning. At Granville, Ohio, we were in- 
vited to stop and attend a protracted meeting. Being in 
no great hurry to enter Cincinnati till the cholera had left, 
we consented. We spent the remainder of the week there, 
and I preached five times and father four. The interest was 
increasingly deep and solemn each day, and when we left 
there were forty-five cases of conversion in the town, be- 
sides those from the surrounding towns. The people were 
astonished at the doctrine ; said they never saw the truth 
so plain in their lives. 

" One young man, an Andover student, preached on the 
Sabbath, and his sermon was all confusion — sometimes di- 
recting to repent, and sometimes to read and pray, in order 
to prepare for repentance. After meeting father undertook 
to set him right, and show him how God could be sincere 
in his ofiTers, and desire men all to comply with them. He 
said he had noticed that I spoke with a degree of strength 
and confidence of God's sincerity which he could not use, 
though he desired to do so. When he had the way pointed 
out it seemed like letting in light on a blind eye. He took 
the fundamental principles of moral government and free 
agency, and will, I trust, work his way out. Father said it 
was a shame that Dr. Woods should send out a young man 


with his mind bewildered and dark, and that he should have 
to come out into the midst of Ohio to set him right. 

"From Granville we went to Columbus over corduroy 
roads, made of logs laid crosswise, for the benefit of dyspep- 

"We arrived safely at Cincinnati November 14th, and 
found our furniture had arrived the day before, so we were 
soon settled in our new habitation." 




Aiitohiograi:>hy . 

When Vail went back to Cincinnati after seeing me the 
first time, he gave a favorable rej^ort, that I would probably 
come after the Bowdoin Street Church was finished. He 
was sanguine, and kncAV how to elaborate a thing and make 
it look grand. There happened to be a camp-meeting some- 
where in the neighborhood, and Dr. Wilson was attending 
it. Wilson had been a good camp-meeting man, and was 
to all intents a good New School man enough ; had revivals, 
in which many were brought in. He looked at the semi- 
nary at first as a local matter ; he did not think or care 
about its relations to the great ecclesiastical campaign. If I 
could have got there a little sooner I should have got hold 
of him, I have no doubt, and they could not have influenced 

Well, when Vail got home, he went out to camp-meeting, 
and told Wilson, in his way, that I should probably come. 
Wilson clapped his hands and shouted " Glory to God in the 
highest !" 

But before I left Boston I found he had veered about. 
There had been some talk in the General Assembly some 
years before about a theological seminary at the West. 
Some wanted it at Cincinnati, and some up river near Pitts- 
burg. The Assembly favored the latter site, and disappoint- 
ed Cincinnati, and they had not swallowed it comfortably. 
The Pittsburg concern was a small affair, and a little too 


near Princeton ; they had rather kept it down. I suppose 
the Princeton men had always tnea^it to have one at Cincin- 
nati when they got ready; but now, when they found it 
was going to be a New School affair, they vowed it should 
never be. All their plans would be blown up, and a mighty 
power exerted against them. I heard what they said. Dr. 
Alexander, a noble good man, saw at once that their chance 
was lost as to taking the ground they had supposed reserved 
for them, and that it would be bringing forward a system 
different from theirs, viz., a Congregationalized Presbyteri- 

So they wrote to Wilson a flattering letter, explaining the 
whole campaign, and predicting what the results would be, 
and attacking us as New England men, and sent a man out 
on purpose. I had it from Wilson's own mouth in the Gen- 
eral Assembly that he had been accustomed to consult his 
particular friends at Princeton and in the Pittsburg Synod, 
and as it was their wish he should take back his invitation 
to me, he did so. (By the way, they made him next mod- 
erator after he was beat. That was a scampy concern, that 
Old School General Assembly, and is still ; they always pay 
their folks when they do their business for them.) 

Well, Wilson turned square round. He was the leading 
man in the region, and had some influence in the Second 
Church. It was understood I was to be called there, though 
the call was not formally made out till I arrived there. 
Through Wilson's influence, two of the elders wrote me a 
letter, saying that if I came there would be " a considera- 
ble secession from thp Church."* Wilson thought it would 

* The letter is dated June 16, 1832. The writers say, "Your opinions 
respecting many of the radical things of Jesus Christ, and your modes of 
philosophizing about these things, are so variant from our solemn convic- 
tions of what the trxith as it is in Jesus is, that we must, in all good con- 


scare me and break up the plan ; but I sent a copy of the 
letter to the Session, and they wrote back that it was all 
moonshine, and I took no notice of it. 

Besides that, Wilson fired off a forty-four pounder in the 
'New York papers, warning brethren to take heed ; had it 
read on trial. I replied by publishing parts of his own let- 
ters to me. After I reached Cincinnati and presented my 
credentials to the Presbytery, Wilson objected to my recep- 
tion, and said he had no confidence in my doctrines. I rose 
and said that I was sure Dr. Wilson did not understand, and 
was laboring under a mistake ; that I had not altered my 
views since he saw me years ago ; and that if Presbytery 
would take recess and have a free conversation in the ves- 
try, I could explain. 

We all went into the vestry, and I began to speak kindly 
(I felt kindly) and solemnly. I saw Wilson felt. Something 
was said about prayer, w^hen he said, with a gentle face, 
waving his hand to me, " You pray ;" and I did so, and we 
had a good season. Just then the devil in a good man 
jumped up and said that there had never been a man of suf- 
ficient calibre to excite Dr. Wilson's jealousy but that he 
opposed and drove him away. Then the fat was in the fire. 
I was sure I should win him. I never was more chagrined. 
We went up, and it was pitched battle after that. 

The following extract of a letter to Dr. Wisner, dated 
January 8, 1833, takes up the narrative at this point ; 

" Dr. Wilson has met me with gauntlet and glaive in li7n- 
ine. Dr. Spring, you know, obtained a censure by Synod of 
the Third Presbytery for receiving me by letter. Of this 
Dr. Wilson had been apprised, but not in authenticated ec- 

science before God, enter our deliberate and prayerful dissent to your min- 
istry among us." 


clesiastical form. He was moderator, and therefore could 
not speak ; and there was no minority, and therefore there 
was no one to protest and to complain of my irregular re- 
ception. Last week, at another meeting of Presbytery, he 
brought forward a resolution to appoint a committee to in- 
vestigate the reports of my unsoundness in the faith, which, 
as he said, were long, and loud, and uncontradicted. 

" This was on Friday evening, when his preparatory lec- 
ture was appointed; but just as we were about to adjourn, so 
eager was he in the chase of the heretic that he gave up the 
lecture, and yet too late to prevent the assembling of his 
congregation and many others who had heard the rumor of 
Avhat was going on. Several of my friends did me ample 
justice, to whom at length Dr. Wilson replied, on a motion 
for indefinite postponement. 

" Peaceable as you know me to be, and reluctant to con- 
tend, yet, finding myself taken by the horns, I began to think 
it time to take care of myself, and of the cause as assailed 
through me ; and, though with short notice, was able to ar- 
range my defense and argument to my mind. I denied that 
there w^as any evidence of common fame against me, and 
insisted that there was just the contrary. I showed that 
common fame did not mean the representations of theolog- 
ical parties and partisan editors ; if it did, the whole Church 
was liable to a process of inquiry. As to public sentiment 
in my favor, I referred to my credentials from Suffolk North, 
from the Third Presbytery of New York, Dr. Woods's ap- 
probation of my creed. Dr. Miller's letter. Dr. Green, who 
said that doubtless I belonged to one department of the Cal- 
vinistic denomination ; the Second Church here, who were 
competent judges ; and last, not least, I referred to Dr. Wil- 
son himself, who united in giving me a call, and an argu- 
ment and urgent entreaty that I would accept. 


" By this I cut him down to the evidence he had since dis- 
covered. I insisted, however, that the entire course of ap- 
pealing to fame^ through partisan papers, w^as uncourtly, 
unauthorized, and unchristian, when I was myself on the 
ground, and had offered and sought opportunities more than 
once for explanation. I again offered to answer him any 
question he wished to ask ; gave him and any member of 
Presbytery liberty to catechise me as much as they pleased ; 
told them my heresy was of more than thirty years stand- 
ing, and of common use in all the revivals I had witnessed, 
and of constant Sabbath-day occurrence ; let those who are 
jealous come and hear. I am preaching heresy, if I am a 
heretic, three times a day every Sabbath, and two or three 
times a week, and teaching it twice a week at the seminary. 
Why appoint a committee of inquiry ? You might as well 
appoint a committee to ladle up water from the Ohio to wa- 
ter the earth when showers are falling in torrents. 

" I was able to keep down all improper feeUng ; treated 
him politely and kindly ; gave him credit for honesty ; but 
every concession contrasted with his treatment of me burnt 
like coals of juniper. In closing I expostulated with Dr. 
Wilson affectionately ; stated the rising prospects of a re- 
vival in the churches, and conjured him to desist till I had 
furnished some better evidence of heresy than rumor, or af- 
forded him conclusive evidence of my orthodoxy, which I 
had not a single doubt I should ere long be able to do. 

" I spoke an hour about as well as I could desire, and the 
verdict of public sentiment is as adverse to him and favora- 
ble to me as I could wish. He has appealed to Synod, in- 
cluding items, thus giving me a more extended opportunity 
to defend myself and put down rumor and slang." 

The result of the appeal is thus described by Dr. Beecher 
in conversation : 


"As it happened, Synod met at Cincinnati the very day 
my society had appointed to visit me in expression of wel- 
come. I, of course, was occupied, and did not think of Syn- 
od, till suddenly I was sent for by a messenger. I had no 
time to prepare. Wilson was speaking when I got there, 
and I heard the main part of his argument. I rose and 
made an offhand reply, as keen as ever I did, as good as I 
wanted. Synod decided in my favor by a large majority. 

" From Synod Wilson appealed to General Assembly ; 
but they sent him back with a flea in his ear ; told him if 
he had any case to take it up himself. He had tried to 
make Presbytery take it up first on common fame, and next 
to appoint a committee to examine my printed sermons and 
report. He wanted them to prosecute. He did not want 
to assume the responsibility of tabling charges himself. 
But that Assembly (1834) happened to be very strong New 
School, and they would have nothing to do with him."* 

The following account of the examination of a son of Dr. 
Beecher before Presbytery about this time was vvritten by 
Miss Harriet E. Beecher : 

" Well, you see; there has been a Presbytery holden in our 
good city, and all ministerial nature in 'ordinary genera- 
tion,' Ji's the Confession of Faith says, have been coming to 
o^u'r* 'house ; therefore we are in a state of — of — what shall I 
say ? Not fighting, because loe don't fight ; but the Old 
School, headed by Dr. Wilson, have made a dead set this 
Presbytery, and are defeated — entirely so. I am glad to say, 
too, that, so far as I have seen, there has been very little ex- 
hibition of any unchristian or ungentlemanly conduct, at 
least on the New School side. 

* The judicial committee cast out the appeal because Dr. Wilson was 
not one of the original parties. 


" You never went to a Presbytery ? Well, put on your 
bonnet, and go with me and Mrs. Stowe* this afternoon. 
First, though, let me introduce you to Mrs. Stowe — a deli- 
cate, pretty little woman, with hazle eyes, auburn hair, fair 
complexion, fine color, a pretty little mouth, fine teeth, and 
a most interesting simplicity and timidity of manner ; I fell 
in love with her directly. However, let us walk on to the 
Second Church. 

" We will go into the side aisle ; all the body pews are 
engaged by the Presbytery. Do you see them all seated e7i 
77iasse, each one with the ' Confession of Faith' by him, to 
turn to at a moment's warning ? 

" That handsome, modest, amiable-looking young man in 
the chair in front of the pulpit is ' Brother Rankin,' the mod- 
erator. He was an Old School man once ; for a long time 
lately he has been wavering ; this Presbytery he was nom- 
inated and appointed by the New School party, and this, to- 
gether with the abuse received from the other side, has fixed 
him, and he is now counted on as a vote. At a table sits 
and ink. GL\:a.ves, the recording secretary, with paper, pen, 
about, some talking, some reaam*^-,fun. Some are walking 

" At last the moderator calls the meetu.j,-c. 
proceed to business. They are to examine a ca^ order. They 
candidate is Mr. George Beecher, a JSTew School m..,. r^^^ 
that is not the worst— a Taylorite! ! ^-it 

"Do you see, in the front pew, a tall, grave-looking man, 
of strong and rather harsh features, very pale, with a severe 
seriousness of face, and with great formality and precision 
in every turn and motion ? Well, if you see him, that man 

. * Professor Stowe first married a daughter of Dr. Tyler, whose untime- 
ly death, soon after, saddened the whole Waluut Hills circle, to which she 
was greatly endeared. 


is Dr. Wilson. His great ivory-headed cane leans on the side 
of the pew by him, and in his hand he holds the Confession 
of Faith. 

" The candidate sits on the pulpit stairs, so that he may 
face the Presbytery, and the examining committee are called 
on : ' Dr. Wilson, in Philosophy.' Here follows, ' Mr. Beech- 
er, what is matter and what is mind, and what is the differ- 
ence 'twixt and 'tween, and what is Mechanics, and Optics, 
and Hydrostatics, and what is Mental Philosophy, and what 
is Moral Philosophy, and what is right and wrong, and what 
is truth, and what is virtue, and what are the powers of the 
mind, and what is intellect, susceptibilities, and will, and 
conscience' — and every thing else, world without end, amen ! 
After this the doctor's grave face gradually relaxes into a 
smile, which seems like the melting of a snow-drift as he 
says that ' he has pursued this branch of the examination a& 
far as might be deemed expedient.' 

" ' Mr. Moderator,' says one, ' I move that the examination 
be sustained.' ' I second it,' says another. 

" The moderator then says, ' Those who sustain this ex- 
amination say Ay.' 

" Now hark — ' Ay ! ay ! ay !' 

" 'Those of contrary mind, No.' No answer. So this is 

" Next topic is now announced : ' Theology !' Now you 
may see the brethren bending forward, and shuffling, and 
looking wise. Over in the pew opposite to us are the stu- 
dents of the Lane Seminary, with attentive eyes. There is 
Theodore Weld, all awake, nodding from side to side, and 
scarce keeping still a minute together. 

" ' The examiner in Theology, Brother Gallagher.' This is 
the tall son of Anak whom I have written of aforetime — the 
great Goliath, whose awful brows and camp-meeting hymns 

Vol. II.— N 


used so to awe and edify me. He rises very leisurely, and 
gives a lunge forward, precipitating his unwieldy size into a 
chair without much regard to graceful disposition, and with 
a deep, deliberate voice begins. 

" The beauty of it all is that Gallagher is a warm friend 
to George, and of similar sentiments. The appointing him 
to examine was a friendly motion of the moderator. I wish 
I could give you an idea of the mingled coarseness, shrewd- 
ness, humor, and the occasional real poetic and enthusiastic 
feeling which are all combined in this man. When he rises 
to speak we all fix our mouths to laugh, as a matter of 
course ; yet he always speaks to the purpose, though you 
would not think he was going to when he begins. It amused 
me to hear his leisurely questions on a subject where the 
whole house was awake. He confined his examination mere- 
ly to the broad and obvious truths of Christianity, and then 
sat down. 

"But now comes the fiery trial. The moderator an- 
nounces, ' Any of the brethren have a right to question the 
candidate.' You must have seen before now some of them 
fidgeting on their seats, and waiting their turn. Then such 
a storm of questions rains in : 

" ' Mr. Beecher, do you believe in the doctrine of election ? 
Will you please to state your views on that subject V ' Mr. 
Beecher, do you believe in the imputation of Adam's sin ?' 
' Mr. Beecher, do you believe infants are sinners as soon as 
they are born ?' ' Do you believe that infants have unholy 
natures ?' ' Do you believe that men are able of themselves 
to obey the commandments of God ?' ' Mr. Beecher, do you 
believe men are active or passive in regeneration?' 'Mr. 
Beecher, do you make any distinction between regeneration 
and conversion ?' ' Mr. Beecher, do you think that men are 
punished for the guilt of Adam's first sin ?' ' Do you be- 
lieve in imputed righteousness ?' 


" There was George — eyes flashing and hands going, turn- 
ing first to right and then to left — ' If I understand your 
question, sir — ' *I do not understand your terms, sir.' ' Do 
you mean by nature thus and so ? or so T ' In what sense 
do you use the word imputation ?' ' I don't exactly under- 
stand you, sir,' ' Yes, sir' (to right). ' No, sir' (to left). 
'I should think so, sir' (in front). 

" So far I wrote when I heard George, and father, and 
Edward coming in from meeting ; for Edward is with us — 
poked in like a ghost upon us one day just after George's 
examination. The first that father knew of the matter was 
seeing him go by the window, and exclaiming, 'There's a 
man looks like Edward !' and the next minute we were all 
electrified by seeing him standing among us. To-night, Ed- 
ward, and Professor Sturtevant, father, and George, have 
been holding a long chat. At last father and Edward went 
down cellar to saw wood. Don't that seem natural! I 
heard the word ' foreordination' through the parlor floor, so 
I knew what they were talking about. I have come up and 
left them. Our hearts are warmed and comforted to see 
dear Edward again, seeming so well and happy too. Oh, it 
seems like old times, and I am really happy — only a little 
tired. But, oh dear ! he is going away. I wish he could 
stay a month. I'll tell you more about all to-morrow. 

" Now to finish the account of Presbytery. The exam- 
ination lasted nearly two hours and a half, after which the 
farther consideration of that subject was postponed till ex- 
amination had taken place in other branches. The next day 
the Presbytery were called upon to see if they had any re- 
marks to make upon the examination thus far. Then such 
a war of words ! 

" The way of proceeding is to call over the names of the 
whole Presbytery in order, and each one, when his name is 


called, has the liberty of rising and speaking as long as he 
will. The whole day was taken up in this way. I went 
only in the afternoon, and what I heard was (apart from 
moral considerations) sufficiently diverting. 

" There are men — one or two, I mean — whose minds have 
been brought up in a catechetical tread-mill — who never say 
' Confession of Faith' without taking off their hats, and who 
have altogether the appearance of thinking that the Bible is 
the neoit best hook to the Catechism. These men are, of 
course, mortally afraid of heresy — or ' hear say^"" as an old 
woman very pertinently pronounced it — and their remarks 
on this subject were truly lucid. 

" One of them got up, and, in the course of his objections, 
said, with a peculiar solemnity of manner, that ' he did not 
wish to prejudice any one against the candidate, but, sir, if 
I understand him, he holds that God has no right to require 
men to do what they are not able to do. Now, sir, this is 
an awful error. If God had not a right to require things of 
men which they have no ability whatever to perform, what 
dreadful consequences would ensue ! Oh,' said he, rolling 
up his eyes, ' they are awful ! I will not even name them !' 

" Here I met Aunt Esther's eye, and we, I am afraid, in- 
dulged in a very unsuitable degree of merriment. This gen- 
tleman spoke an hour in a style of remark equally edifying. 
Foe my part, as I am philosophical in my taste, and like to 
see every kind of mental development, I was not sorry to 
hear and see personally so strange a phenomenon. But my 
Beecher blood boiled when I was told that he and one or 
two others in the Presbytery had actually been preaching 
such broad nonsense for many years. I really did not think 
that any human mind could be so ground down — at least I 
never realized it before. 

"The discussion, as I have said, lasted all day. In the 


evening we came, and they went at it again. There was 
quite an audience in the house, as preaching had been ex- 
pected. All the Presbytery had finished their remarks ex- 
cept father and Dr. Wilson, who, as the oldest, came last on 
the list. Father, as first called on, rose, and went through 
a regular statement of what he conceived to be the views 
expressed by the candidate, and a regular argument to show 
that they were in agreement with the Confession of Faith. 
He spoke well, clearly, and persuasively, and was occasion- 
ally a little humorous. He began by saying that it was his 
belief that, however they might differ in points of opinion, 
they were all honest, well-intentioned men. 'We are hon- 
est !' (bringing down his fist.) But then he said that there 
were some dangers in this meeting together in Presbytery ; 
that ministers were so much accustomed to command the 
lohole ship at home that they did not always feel exactly 
tractable in a Presbytery ; ' and I hope,' said he, ' that, for 
the future, our elders will take better care of us' (here a 
general smile went round among the elders). 

" Toward the close of the speech he said that, if the case 
should be carried up to the Synod, he should be j)i'epared to 
prove even more fully many points ; 'and in that case,' said 
he, bringing down his forefinger, 'I shall think myself /i<:(/> 
2)y^ King Agrippa, to speak more fully of this matter.' He 
also insinuated that if Presbyteries, and Synods, and all the 
legislative bodies should turn out and reject all who held 
those sentiments, that they could not stop their progress. 
' No,' said he, ' we shall still live ; we shall stand on God's 
earth, and breathe his air, and preach his Gospel as ice be- 
lieve it.' 

" When father sat down Dr. Wilson rose up, and made a 
speech of about half an hour, in which he stated that he be- 
lieved that the candidate was not a Christian, and knew 


nothing experimentally about Christianity, and that he firm- 
ly believed that he, and all those who held the same senti- 
ments with him, ' would never see the gates of eternal 

" This was abundantly courteous for Dr. Wilson, since he 
merely shut us out of heaven this time without pronouncing 
sentence any more definitely. Many people say that it is 
altogether the mildest and most temperate speech they ever 
heard him make. After this speech the question was taken, 
though with much difiiculty and opposition ; and on calling 
the roll, the examination was sustained by a majority of 
twenty-three. About twelve o'clock at night we found our- 
selves once more at home and in a state of high excitement, 
and sat up about half an hour longer to fight over the battle 
to Catharine, who hnd not been able to go out." 




Dr.Beecher was inducted into office as Professor of The- 
ology, December 26, 1832. At first be resided in tbe city, 
the house designed for him not having been yet built. He 
was thus obliged to ride otit from time to time, to deliver 
lectures in the seminary. His installation as pastor of the 
Second Church took place in the spring of 1833. 

Of this earlier phase of his "Western life our best impres- 
sions are derived from his correspondence. To Dr.Wisner, 
January 8, 1833, he writes as follows: "It would require a 
volume to describe all the points which I have been called 
to reconnoitre and secure, one after another, in that process 
of taking possession of the public mind by the right handle 
which every man, with whatever age and acquired charac- 
ter, must study and regard. 

t; * * Ji^ gy jj^j people of the Second Church my re- 
ception has been, in the way of cordiality and kindness, all I 
could desire, not excepting those two elders, who wrote to 
me in Boston, threatening that they and some sixty mem- 
bers would leave the Church if I should come. These are 
now my right-hand men, and are going round with me to 
introduce me to the families of the congregation. Both good 
men, contented and cordial. They concluded to hear for 
themselves before they went, and, ' ere they were aware of 
it,' as Dr. Spring wrote to Dr. Greene, ' the artful man had 
brought them over.' The congregation is also filling up, 
like the Bowdoiu Street Church, with young men, and the 


iDtellectiial class of persons, who, disgusted alike with Old 
Calvinism and Methodism, were going to the Unitarian 
Church or nowhere. * * * 

"Every thing here confirms the justice of my opinion as 
to the necessity of some one to lay foundations and organize. 
Good materials are plenty, but no efficiency, from utter un- 
acquaintance with systematic action. It is but two weeks 
since I got a pastoral meeting, in which we accomi3lished, 
I doubt not, results which years had not reached without, 
and the second was like unto it. One thing we resolved on 
was a united monthly concert of the three churches, Second, 
Third, and Sixth. 

" There have been good appearances in my Church, and 
Gallaher's, and Mahan's for some time, but yesterday was 
among the most precious. The feeling commenced auspi- 
ciously, and rose all day. The monthly concert, the first 
public united concert ever held in Cincinnati, was full, sol- 
emn, and deeply interesting. I gave a history of the origin, 
progress, character, and success of the society, and wound 
the thing up to as high a point of interest as I have ever 
been able to do. The ministers, I rejoiced to perceive, were 
all electrified with double zeal, and predicted the happiest 
results, saying with astonishment, as they looked over the 
house well filled, ' We never saw it thus in Cincinnati.' Un- 
til now I have been tugging hard to get the wave in motion. 
Now I am just beginning to feel its power and be helped 
by it. 

" Things in my society could not be more pleasant and 
promising than they are. They have given up a little ves- 
try which did not use to be half full, and are finishing ofi", in 
good style, a spacious one, which will hold five hundred per- 
sons. Every Thursday night it has been filling up, and is 
now nearly full, and the preaching of the closest revival 


cast, and the meetings, in appearance, are revival meetings, 
though no results have broken out as yet. * * * 

" I rejoice in your returning health and establishment, in 
the settlement of Linsley, and in what I hear of Pine Street 
and my own dear people as being prosperous, there being 
nothing in the wide world 1 could not better endure than 
their calamity, and decline, and imbecility. Were it neces- 
sary to avert that^ it seems to me I should tear myself up by 
the roots once more and fly back to save them." 

Among his reminiscences of this period are the following : 
"I considered that to take a man out of the ministry to 
make him a professor, without a congregation to keep him 
up by revival work he would run down spiritually, as they 
do here* and every where else. It would have been so with 
me if I had had nothing to do but to con over my lectures, 
so I took up the full responsibility of pastoral duty, as if I 
had had nothing else to do. But, living three miles out, it 
was a natural impossibility to have those close and intimate 
relations that exist when a pastor lives among his flock. A 
number of the members of my congregation were men of 
wealth and capacity. Judge Burnet was one of the promi- 
nent actors in the early history of the West. Then there 
was N.Wright, Henry Starr, Timothy Goodman, Mr. Groes- 
beck. Dr. Mussey — able men in all respects, property, intel- 
ligence, and influence. 

"I began to preach as I would in any other place that 
was new. Never preached more carefully and thoroughly. 
Did all a man could, and not in vain. The house filled up 
rapidly. I preached for a revival. Fifteen were converted 
early. There were signs of a work ; I expected a great re- 
vival ; but, after a few conversions, it faltered and stopped. 
I did not know what was the matter. The fact was, there 
* These reminiscences were collected at Andover, 



were none in the Church who knew how to lead out, and 
watch, and follow up the work ; and, as I was living so far 
out, the work languished." 

In a letter dated June, 1834, allusion is made to this fact, 
as follows : " This has been the most difficult and slowest 
point of attainment. But God, blessed be his name ! has 
granted it to me. About sixty, and among them the most 
influential of the congregation or in the city, and including 
among them a band of invaluable young men and females, 
have been added to the Church ; and, since the revivJil, the 
Avhole Church are baptized with a revival spirit, and united 
happily in revival enterprises', so that now, as in Boston, 
I am beginning to be surrounded by a host of discreet and 
able auxiliaries in bringing souls to Christ. The congrega- 
tion have also felt the power and are now under a strong 
pressure of evangelical influence which promises most hope- 
ful results ; so that in the Second Church, both for revivals 
and missions, I count that from this time to the millennium 
the point is gained — a citadel established and manned to 
last through all time." 

Under date of January 28, 1833, Dr. Beecher writes to 
Dr. Wisner as follows : " Last evening I received my long- 
expected sermon.* It is all I could wish. After a long ab- 
sence from my mind, I feared there might be some words 
or phrases which, in reference to the West, I might have 
preferred to alter, but I find not one. Not a word have I 
to add or to subtract. I am ready, as it stands, both to de- 
fend it before men and to give account of it to God. 

" I know it is true and all-important, and I call upon, and 
exhort, and entreat you all there in Boston and New En- 
gland not to wrap the Sun of righteousness again in sack- 
cloth, and bring on a suspension of divine influence, and de- 
* On Dependence and Free Agency. 


clension of religion, and irruption of error, for some other 
Edwards, and Whitfield, and Tennant to turn back, by yield- 
ing tamely, basely to the attempt to make the Taste scheme 
dominant and Old Calvinism triumphant. 

"If every where in and out of New England the friends 
of free agency and moral government stand firm, and act 
with meekness, patience, and firmness, the present onset 
will soon be over, and probably will be the last which the 
devil wiU ever be able to make by the instrumentality of 
pious and orthodox ministers of Christ. I have had some 
fear that in Connecticut, some of the more prudent, wearied 
with noise, and tempted by the delusive hopes of peace, 
might consent to the removal of Taylor for some one less 
oflTensive, but that must not be done. Whether perfect or 
not in all his speculations, or most wise and prudent or not, 
he has done too much for the cause of truth and suflTered too 
much to be abandoned, and is too deeply identified with 
truth and revivals to be given up as an instructor. It would 
be a victory of Old Schoolism, even though a moderate 
New School man should succeed, and Connecticut had bet- 
ter contend half a century than to strike in resj^ect to the 
point in controversy and flinch. It would be the signal of 
new demands, and innovations, and contentions, and defeats. 

" You may show these thoughts to any to whom it is safe, 
and to none other. But you must keep your eye and ear 
open ; and though openly you need not act, yet you must 
not cease to feel the responsibility of consultation with Skin- 
ner and others, and keeping the right plans of action in 
train and efiicient execution. You must, as I did, keep a 
general eye open, and act upon all movements, and touch 
the springs requisite to produce consultation and action. 

" We are all better except George, who is gaining, after 
a temporary indisposition. My own health, which only fal- 


terecl, is becoming good. For four Sabbaths in succession 
I have preached three times a day, and things here are all 
apparently moving the right way. If you see the Standard, 
it is needless to say that I did not say, as there represented, 
that every man has a right to his own explanation of the 
Confession of Faith. I said, We do not swallow the Con- 
fession without any knowledge of its contents, or hang it 
about our neck as a charm. Every man attaches to it, and 
must, his own understanding, and no other man is a pope 
authorized to pronounce the exposition of his neighbor he- 
retical. That belongs to the higher judicatories. It belongs 
to the General Assembly, as the ultimate resort, to expound 
the Confession." 

From Dr. Hawes, of Hartford, Dr. Beecher was advised 
(September 26) of the establishment of a new seminary at 
East Windsor. 

" Oh these angry times, these angry times ! The days 
of peace for the Connecticut churches I fear are over. * * 
Week before last a meeting of ministers was held at East 
Windsor for the purpose of forming what is called the Pas- 
toral Union, to be composed of those ministers in the state 
who will subscribe to a particular creed which is thought 
to be orthodox — in other words, opposed to New Haven di- 

" At that meeting, as I understand, about sixty ministers 
were expected to be present, and thirty-six or seven actual- 
ly attended. Among other things, it was determined to es- 
tablish a new theological school. Trustees were appointed, 
and committees to carry the plan into effect. Thirteen 
hundred dollars were subscribed by the ministers present, 
five hundred of which, I am sorry to say, were subscribed 
by Mr. Nettleton. What this will come to I can not tell. 
I have been disappointed that so large a number of minis- 


ters could be found in the state who were prepared to favor 
such a measure. 

" But, whether it succeeds or fails, the consequences will 
be nearly the same. A blow has been struck ; a line has 
been drawn. By public acts it is declared by these breth- 
ren that the house is so infested with heresy that they must 
flee out of it. * * * I have, as you know, been anxious 
from the first to maintain peace with both parties ; but 
there is no peace, and every man, for aught I see, has got to 
take sides." 

The following extracts are from a letter of Dr. S. H. Cox, 
April 7,1834: 

*' Slavery is one of the quoestiones vexatce et vexcmtes of 
the day with us — much more furiously with the people of 
British Europe. I am glad you are taking hold of it in 
your seminary, and with such light and zeal. My foreign 
tutoring and observation have much influenced me in all my 
estimates of the subject at present. I consider, since my 
return, the nolition of the free colored people, almost uni- 
versal, to be a virtual nullification of the colonization sys- 
tem, if there were no other mighty objections to it. I be- 
lieve that God is leading the minds of millions to change ^?^ 
melius on this absorbing topic of human interests. 

" Our heresy-phobia in this region is, I think, exhausting 
ijself Morbid in its original elements, it grows not to in- 
creasing strength, as healthy parts improve, but wanes to- 
ward extinction ; or, like smouldering fire, is seen only in 
the smoke it sends toward heaven. I view it as little bet- 
ter than wickedness in its painstaking and its malignity. 
' They make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare 
for him Ihat reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just 
for a thing of naught.' But the time is coming, I think, 
when Ave may say, ' The terrible one is brought to naught, 


and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity 
are cut off;' but how near, I know not, in our Church ! We 
expect the next General Assembly to be an arena of fire ; 
but I hope God will frustrate the purposes of the fiery, and 
order things obviously for the fitting peace of our Zion." 

During the prevalence of cholera, Dr. Beecher writes 
(July 22) to Dr. Wisner : "Have rewritten and revised eight 
of my lectures on Political Atheism, and got six of them 
stereotyped. There will be some defects, I can not doubt, 
which your friendly aid would obviate; but standing, as 
I feel myself to do, on the confines of eternity, and amid 
the shafts of death, I thought it better to do what I could 
immediately than risk doing nothing by waiting to do it 
better. * * * 

"I see Brother Rand has gathered up and poured out 
after me in one stream, like the water from the mouth of 
the dragon, all the gall and bile which he so ceaselessly 
spread out around me while I was in Boston. It is best to 
let it roll unimpeded till it enters the Styx and mingles with 
congenial dark waters. Brother Thatcher will get, I con- 
clude, a streak of fat therefrom, and some dozen or more 
hyper-tasters and exercisers. If there is any necessity of 
touching it, you will let me know. 

"The statement in the Standard of my disavowal of ISTew 
Haven and Finney, though it contains some things I sai^, 
omits others, and is colored and distorted, and in its impres- 
sion false. * * * J need not say how much my head and 
heart feel here the want of such a one as you to confide in 
and lean upon, and commune with ; but most of our com- 
munion, dear brother, must be reserved for heaven." 

Dr. Wisner replies : " I have seen and read Mr. Rand's 
letter to you, ending off his volunteer by pouring out a flood 
of venom after you when a thousand miles away ! I don't 


think it will reach the mountains and rise till it pours over 
them and overwhelms you. I have heard many speak of it 
as a contemptible ebullition of spleen. It needs no answer. 
"As to your statement in Presbytery about not being re- 
sponsible for all Taylor has said and Finney has done, of 
which Mr. Rand and others have loickedly made so much (I 
say wickedly, because they must have known, as well as I 
did, what it amounted to), I never supposed that you said 
any thing more than that you were not to be held responsi- 
ble for every thing they said and did ; that in some things 
you differed from Taylor, and some things you disapproved 
in Finney, though in the main you agreed with the former, 
and thought the latter a good and useful man ; and so most 
persons whom I have heard speak on the subject have inter- 
preted the remark as reported by Dr. Wilson and published 
by his copyists. Yet some have attempted and still at- 
tempt to make a great deal of it ; perhaps it may be best to 
deprive them of the pleasure." 






De. Beechee's residence on Walnut Hills was in many 
respects peculiarly pleasant. It was a two-story brick edi- 
fice of moderate dimensions, fronting the west, with a long 
L running back into the primeval forest, or grove, as it was 


familiarly called, which here came up to the very door. 
Immense trees — beech, black oak, and others — spread their 
broad arms over the back yard, affording in summer an al- 
most impenetrable shade. 

An airy veranda was built in the angle formed by the L 
along the entire inner surface of the house, from which, 
during the fierce gales of autumn and winter, we used to 
watch the tossing of the spectral branches, and listen to the 
roaring of the wind through the forest. Two or three large 
beeches and elms had been with difficulty saved from the 
inexorable woodman's axe by the intercessions of the doc- 
tor's daughter Catharine, on the visit already described, and, 
though often menaced as endangering the safety of the 
house from their great height, they still flourish in beauty. 

Through that beautiful grove the doctor and two of his 
sons, during the three years 1834-'7, passed daily to and 
from the seminary buildings. A rustic gate was hung be- 
tween the back yard and the grove, and the path crossed a 
run or gulley, where, for a season, an old carpenter's bench 
supplied the place of bridge. 

In this old grove were some immense tulip-trees, so large, 
in some instances, that two men could scarce clasp hands 
around the trunk. How often has that grove echoed to the 
morning and evening song of the children or the students ! 
We can hear yet, in imagination, the fine soprano of James, 
then a boy, executing with the precision of an instrument 
solfeggios and favorite melodies till the forest rang again. 

In that grove, too, was a delightful resort of the young 
people from the city of Dr. Beecher's flock, who often came 
out to spend a social hour or enjoy a picnic in the woods. 

The doctor's study, whose door appears in the vignette, 
was decidedly the best room in the house. No longer, as 
at Litchfield, in the attic, but on the ground floor, and the 


first entrance to which you came on arriving from the city. 
Here, from its cheerful outlook, its convenience of access, 
and other inviting properties, soon was established the gen- 
eral rendezvous. Here came the students for consultation 
with the president, here faculty meetings were held, and 
here friends from the city spent many a social hour. 

On one side of the room the windows looked westward 
on an extensive landscape ; on the opposite side, a double 
window, coming down to the floor, opened upon the veran- 
da, serving in summer the double purpose of window and 
door ; between these, on the back side, were the bookcases 
and sundry boxes and receptacles of MSS. ; while opposite 
was the fireplace, with the door on the left, and a window 
on the right. 

From said door you looked forth across the carriage-drive 
into a garden situated between the road and the grove, 
where the doctor extracted stumps and solved knotty prob- 
lems in divinity at the same time, and whence the table was 
supplied with excellent vegetables. 

A little barn was ensconced in the back part of the yard, 
just beyond the end of the L, under the shade of the big 
beech-trees, in which Charley (a most imjDortant member of 
the doctor's establishment) had his stable. This Charley 
was a white horse with chocolate-colored spots, strong, high- 
spirited, quick, yet gentle, kind, and intelligent, able to ap- 
preciate his master's moods, and make all due allowances for 
sudden jerks of the reins when the doctor was jerking an 
imaginary opponent, and cuts of the lash evidently bestow- 
ed on some form of error or wrong. 

Like his master, too, Charley was decidedly progressive, 
and believed in going ahead, whether up hill or down hill, 
over smooth roads, or over rough pavements and through 
mud-holes. He thought nothing of cantering down the long 


liill, and, after thundering through the streets of Cincinnati 
on various errands, cantering gayly up again, with the old 
carryall swinging, and rocking, and cracking behind him. 

Joint occupant with him of the little barn was a cow, of 
whom a little anecdote is worth relating. She had been 
purchased of a farmer residing two or three miles distant, 
and being rather wild, had led the doctor, mounted on Char- 
ley, quite a steeple-chase, twice swimming the Ohio and back 
again, and performing sundry other exploits of an exaspera- 
ting nature. But, by infinite perseverance, the doctor had 
succeeded in getting her home and safely fastened in the 
stable, and was reposing victorious in the house. Just at 
this time, Henry Ward, who had been absent, and knew 
nothing of the new acquisition, chanced to visit the barn for 
some purpose, and finding, as he supposed, a strange cow, 
was seized with indignation. 

" Why here," said he, " here's a strange cow in our barn ! 
Get out ! go along ! whey !" and, suiting actions to words, 
he seized a whip and drove the astonished brute out into the 
street. " There !" said he, coming in, panting, where the doc- 
tor was lying stretched upon the sofa, " there ! I guess that 
cow will not get in our barn again in a hurry !" 

" What cow ?" says the doctor. " What do you mean ?" 

"Why, I found an old cow out in our barn, and drove her 
out in the street, and chased her till I was tired out, and 
gave her a good beating." 

" Well, there /" exclaimed the doctor, in despair ; " you 
have done it I Here I have been chasing half the day to get 
that cow in, and you have gone and chased her out again !" 

Other occupants of the back-yard were the poultry, who 
used frequently to roost in the trees, where they were occa- 
sionally subjected to nocturnal alarms, being thrown into 
consternation by the visit of weasel or pole-cat. 


But the choir of birds, which made the grove resound, 
were the most favorite tenants of its leafy shelter. The 
richness, variety, and beauty of their song was, to a New 
England ear, a constant source of wonder and delight. Aunt 
Esther, especially, who was always fond of pets of every 
kind, whether furred or feathered, was never weary with 
listening to their concert. 

The square formed by the veranda and the door-yard 
fence was devoted to flowers and shrubs. Koses and hon- 
eysuckles were trained up toward the upper portico, and a 
tall ailanthus shot up at the corner of the wing. 

Of the subordinate members of the household, the depart- 
ment of hired help, we can not speak except to pass a mo- 
mentary tribute to the mirth-provoking qualities of Dutch 
Charley — Charley man, who had the charge of Charley 
horse, and the Dutch boy John, whose jargon, mixed with 
that of the hired girls, one Welsh, the other Irish, afforded 
daily food for merriment. 

During the first year of Dr. Beecher's Walnut Hills life, 
the care of the family was shared between Mrs. Beecher and 
Aunt Esther, though, as the health of the former declined, 
the burden of responsibility fell more and more upon the 
latter. The family was large, comprising, including serv- 
ants, thirteen in all, besides occasional visitors. 

The house was full. There was a constant high-tide of 
life and animation. The old carryall was perpetually vi- 
brating between home and the city, and the excitement of 
going and coming rendered any thing like stagnation an 
impossibility. And if we take into account the constant oc- 
currence of matters for consultation respecting the seminary 
and the students, or respecting the Church and congrega- 
tion in the city, or respecting Presbytery, Synod, and Gen- 
eral Assembly, as well as the numberless details of shoppnig, 


marketing, and mending which must be done in the city, it 
will be seen that at no period of his life was Dr. Beecher's 
mind more constantly on the stretch, exerted to the utmost 
tension of every fibre, and never, to use an expressive figure 
of Professor Stowe, did he wheel a greater number of heav- 
ily-laden wheel-barrows all at one and the same time. Had 
he husbanded his energies and turned them in a single chan- 
nel, the mental fire might have burned steadily on till long 
after threescore years and ten. But this was an impossibil- 
ity. Circumstances and his own constitutional temperament 
united to spur him on, and for more than twenty of his best 
years he worked under a high pressure, to use his favorite 
expression, to the 7ie 2^lus — that is, to the utmost limit of 
physical and moral endurance. 

It was an exuberant and glorious life while it lasted. The 
atmosphere of his household was replete with moral oxygen 
— full charged with intellectual electricity. Nowhere else 
have we felt any thing resembling or equaling it. It was a 
kind of moral heaven, the purity, vivacity, inspiration, and 
enthusiasm of which those only can appreciate who have 
lost it, and feel that in this world there is, there can be " no 
place like home." 




We have seen how Lane Seminary obtained its president 
and professors. It remains to see how it obtained its stu- 
dents, and what manner of men, or "boys," as the doctor 
affectionately called them, they were. The following is a 
very imperfect and meagre outline of the narrative of one 
of them (Theodore D.Weld), written down soon after hear- 
ing it from his own lips : 

" When I was seventeen years old, being at Phillips 
Academy, I endeavored to overtake the class ahead of me, 
which I liked better than my own, and studied so intensely 
that I lost the use of my eyes, and was threatened with 
blindness. After many weeks and months of suffering, bod- 
ily and mental, my hopes all cut off, I recollected some lec- 
tures I had heard on the science of Mnemonics, and determ- 
ined to try to support myself by lecturing on that subject. 
I traveled through Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Vir- 
ginia, and North Carolina, in this work, during the years 
1822, 1823, and 1824. 

" On this tour I saw slavery at home, and became a radi- 
cal abolitionist. On ray return, my eyes remaining almost 
useless, I fell in with Kirkland, of Hamilton College, New 
York, near Utica, where I had an uncle residing. Kirkland 
had suffered much himself from weak eyes, and told me he 
could tell me how I could manage to study some, and in- 
vited me to come and room in the college. 

"Some time in the spring of 1826 my uncle died, and I 


went to Utica to see my aunt. Mr. Finney was at that time 
preaching in Utica, and I had heard of his ' frightening' my 
cousin Sophia, to whom I was much attached, by his terrific 
Jupiter Tonans sort of style, and was enraged at him. 

" * My father,' I said, ' was a real minister of the Gospel, 
grave and courteous, and an honor to the profession. This 
man is not a minister, and I will never acknowledge him as 

"Accordingly, I talked against him in the college, and 
opposed the revival with all my might. Well, when I went 
to see Aunt Clark (she was a great friend of Finney, and 
lived next door to Aikin's, where he stopped), she tried to 
get me to go and hear him. No, I would not. At last she 
said, ' Mr. Finney never preaches in the morning ; go with 
me in the forenoon.' So I consented. What does she do 
but slip over and tell Mr. Aikin. I mistrusted nothing, and 
went. When we came to the pew door she motioned me 
to go in, and followed with several ladies, and shut me in. 

"Aikin took the introductory services. But by-and-by 
Mr. Finney rose, with those great staring eyes of his (nev- 
er was a man whose soul looked out through his face as his 
did), and took for his text, ' One sinner destroy eth much 
good.' I stooped down and took hold of my hat; but just 
as I rose, Aunt Clark put her mouth close to my ear and 
whispered, ' Theodore, yoiCll break my heart if you go !' I 
gave it up, and resigned myself to my fate ; and then, for 
an hour, he just held me up on his toasting-fork before that 

"You see, they all knew ; they had heard about me. And 
finally he wound up, ' And yes ! you'll go to college, and use 
all your influence against the Lord's work,' and described 
all the difierent methods of destroying good. 

" I went home, and on the way aunt said, ' Why, Mr. Fin- 



ney never preached in the forenoon before, but always in 
the afternoon. So I suspected nothing, Next day I was 
sitting in a store. One of the partners was in the revival, 
and he slipped out and told Finney. In he came, and began 
to talk. I was greatly exasperated, and all the vocabulary 
of abuse the language afforded I used pretty thoroughly 
upon him. The store was crowded, and out in the street 
about the door. He took it all meekly ; not a word of an- 
ger or of harshness ; only he would every now and then just 
take my feeling and show it to me — take it and show it to 

" At last I saw I was acting meanly, and quit and went 
home. I was so ashamed I could not live. Finally, I made 
up my mind I'd go and ask his pardon. I went, and rung 
at Aikin's door. A girl came. I stood in the entry, and 
she called Mr. Finney. He came down stairs. It was rath- 
er dim light, so he put his hand up over his eyes to see. 
Did not recognize me till just as he reached the bottom of 
the stairs. 'Ah!' said he, 'is it not enough? Have you 
followed a minister of the Lord Jesus to his own door to 
abuse him ?' 

" ' Mr. Finney,' said I, ' I have come for a very differ- 
ent purpose. I — ' 

" But I hadn't time to finish my sentence. He saw in an 
instant what it was, and opened his arms, threw them round 
my neck, and dragged me into the parlor, and down on his 
knees, sobbing and praying, and sobbing and praying. 

"That put an end to my studying. I was with him in 
his meetings, speaking and laboring, all that summer. 

" In the winter I went to Labrador with my brother, who 
was out of health, and, on my return, spent two or three 
weeks in Boston. I had several conversations with your 
father, and remember going with him to sec the raissiona 


ries Jucld and others sail, and coming back in the pilot- 

" After this I went out to the Oneida Institute, New York, 
partly in the capacity of agent and partly as student. It 
was a Manual Labor institution, but not well endowed, and 
I spent about half my time soliciting funds. When at the 
Institute I was monitor of the milking class, for we milked 
some thirty cows, and had to get up in the morning in time 
to get the milk off in wagons to Utica by daybreak. I re- 
member we wanted a barn for our stock, and did not know 
how to get one. A farmer in the neighborhood, who did 
not think much of students' work, told me he would give us 
all the timber we would cut with our own hands, and, what 
was more, he would haul it to the canal. I went and organ- 
ized the boys with axes, and we cut down the timber, made 
a raft, and built a large barn, with sheds. 

"In July, 1831, a National Manual Labor Society was 
formed, and I became general agent, and traveled and lec- 
tured, visiting most of the Manual Labor institutions in 
Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and 
Alabama. I also lectured from time to time on Temperance, 
and conversed freely, wherever I had a chance, with young- 
men on the subject of slavery. The Liberator had just been 
established then, and had not become known, and there was 
entire freedom to converse on the subject every where, pro- 
vided we kept out of hearing of the slaves. 

" At Huntsville, Alabama, I became acquainted with Dr. 
Allen, the leading Presbyterian minister of the state, a slave- 
holder, and with his son, who had recently graduated. J. G. 
Birney was one of his elders, and it was owing to my dis- 
cussion with Dr. Allen that he was led to think on the sub- 
ject and became an abolitionist. During this tour I found 
several young men who resolved to come to Lane — among 

Vol. II.— O 


Others, the son of Dr. Allen. By-the-by, on my way down 
South I lectured in Cincinnati ten evenings in succession on 
Temperance, and several evenings on Manual Labor — part of 
the time in the Second Church, part in Dr. Wilson's Church, 
and then, the crowd was so great, in the Methodist Episco- 
pal Chapel. 

" At that time the seminary Avas not in operation. On 
my return from the South, in the fall, I lectured at the sem- 
inary on Manual Labor. Yail was there, and Mr. Lane, from 
whom the institution was named, though he only gave about 
14000. Your father was not there at that time. 

" I went on to ISTew York, and made my report in Janu- 
ary, 1833, andj^while in New York, had several conversa- 
tions with the TajDpans and others interested in anti-slavery. 
I made a statement of the results of my observation. I re- 
member telliug them I knew of a number who were coming 
from the Southern States to Lane, besides many of the Onei- 
da Institute boys ; for we had heard of your father's ap- 
pointment, and had spoken some of going to Lane. At that 
time I was planning to establish a great Manual Labor insti- 
tution somewhere, and liberal offers had been made by gen- 
tlemen at Rochester. I had been on the ground, and spent 
some days looking at sites in the vicinity. Beman and Kirk 
were talked of as professors. 

" But when I went through the West and South, and saw 
the situation of Lane Seminary, I was satisfied that was the 
place for us. I developed, in conversation with the Tappans, 
my views on slavery, and my intention to improve the ex- 
cellent opportunity to introduce anti-slavery sentiments, and 
have the whole subject thoroughly discussed. 

" After a brief visit to my father, who then resided near 
Oneida, some time in May, '34, H. B. Stanton, Samuel Wells, 
Ezra A. Poole, and I, bought a boat for six dollars, and went 


down French Creek and the Alleghany River to Pittsburg. 
We had good times, discussing anti-slavery, and stopping oc- 
casionally to get supplies, hold prayer -meetings, or find a 
place to sleep ; if we could not, we got along in our boat. 
At Pittsburg we took deck passage to Cincinnati. You 
know deck passengers pay nothing, find themselves, sleep 
on the deck, and help ' wood.' I believe there were some 
other of the Oneida boys that hired on board of flat-boats, 
and earned some money to begin their studies." 

It was not long after their arrival that the cholera broke 
out in the seminary. A letter w^'itten by Mr. Weld at the 
time gives so vivid a picture of the scene, and illustrates so 
forcibly the character of the writer, and of the first class of 
students, that we insert it here. 

" The first case occurred in the room next my own. The 
student was taken in the morning, about daybreak, and, in 
spite of the most eflicient means, was in a state of collapse 
by eleven o'clock", but, by the most incessant efibrts, was 
brought out of it and lived. I was with him from the time 
he was taken until midnight, when the disease yielded. 

"•The next case occurred the next morning at eight 
o'clock — Brother Burr, of Virginia ; one of the first stu- 
dents for mind, scholarship, and piety. I had the great 
privilege of being with him from the first moment of his at- 
tack until his death, which occurred in just twenty hours. 
His last words were, addressing me as I was bending over 
him, ' Brother, I feel as if I was beginning to die. Don't 
you think I am ?' 

" ' Yes, my dear brother. Your Father calls you.' 

" ' Yes, he calls me — yes, I am beginning to die. Oh, 
blessed be God through Jesus Christ, I am beginning to 


" From the first he expected to die, and, while we were 
plying him with various external applications to aid the 
operation of medicine, he was continually exhorting us to 
prayer, great personal holiness, and ceaseless efforts to save 
sinners. The Cross — the Gross was his theme, even when 
racked with bodily agony. 

"In the brief intervals between the dreadful spasms, 
which for the last four hours contorted his frame, he would 
speak to us in language of the utmost tenderness. ''My 
dear brethren^ pi'ay that this may be sanctified to the semi- 
nary ; my dear brethren, you must be exhausted.' * * * 
I could fill this sheet with the heavenly breathings of this 
dying saint, but must pause. When I closed his eyes I 
could not refrain from crying aloud, ' Blessed— blessed ! oh, 
blessed are the dead that die in the Lord !' 

" Five or six of the students were taken with the disease 
on the morning of the day Brother Burr died, one of whom 
died the same afternoon, exclaiming, with a look of trans- 
port, ' The face of the Lord ! the face of the Lord !' 

" Within a few hours another young man died, after an 
illness of only eight hours. His spasms were almost with- 
out intermission, and the spectacle of his last hours was 
fearful and appalling. His mind wandered so much that 
we could not ascertain his feelings for some hours before he 
died. His hope cUd not sustain him when first taken. 

" By the close of the third day there were about thirty 
of the students confined to their rooms, mostly with pre- 
monitory symptoms, but some six or eight cases of malig- 
nant cholera, with all its peculiar horrors. Ten or fifteen, 
though able to be about, were rather indisposed, and could 
not assist in taking care of the sick and dying ; some twen- 
ty others could not aid much on account of utter inexperi- 
ence ; add to this, the steward's family were seized, help 


could not be procured, and a number of students were called 
into the kitchen to provide food, heat water, prepare poul- 
tices, etc., so that the burden of the toil, watching, responsi- 
bility of dealing out medicine, etc., etc., devolved upon about 
twenty of the students. 

"For ten days I did not go to my room but once to 
change my clothes, but can not particularize. The Lord 
sustained me throughout. I never seemed to myself to 
possess more energy of body or mind. I had not, during 
the whole time, scarcely a single sensation of fatigue, or the 
least disposition to sleep, though in more than one instance 
I was without sleep forty-eight hours in succession. Per- 
haj)s you will say this was presumption. Extraordinary 
providences demand extraordinary labors, and the God of 
providence provides extraordinary supplies always adequate 
to the demand, 

"There was another death among us two days after the 
last mentioned, which made upon us all an impression which 

can never be effaced. The individual was George , 

the youngest brother of my dear friend . He came 

on with his brother and myself when we came down the 
river in the spring. George was one of the youngest mem- 
bers of the seminary, about eighteen years old, a young man 
of most extraordinary powers. I have never seen his supe- 
rior. He had been religiously educated, had passed through 
three or four powerful revivals, had been convicted deeply 
and often, asked prayers, attended meetings of inquiry, etc., 
but still resisted the Spirit, caviled, criticised, and started 
skeptical queries, until the last revival passed away with 
such a flood of light upon his understanding that he could 
paralyze his conscience only by a desperate rush into infi- 

" He devoured infidel books, and thought, wrote, and dis- 


cussed, and hardened his heart with fearful rapidity and to 
an appalling extent. His principles were known to but few 
of us. I had frequently talked with him, and in our last 
conversation, only a day before he was taken, he acknowl- 
edged himself in a difficulty from which he could not then 
extricate himself, but said, ' I'll think of it, and, rely on it, 
I'll give you a satisfactory answer, and sustain all my posi- 
tions in a day or two.' 

" The next day he tested the strength of his principles in 
conflict with Death. He was taken in the afternoon, and 
died the same night, or rather at three o'clock in the morn- 
ing. I was with him all the time, and such a scene! After 
all had been done that could be done by the medical facul- 
ty, and we saw him beyond recovery, we looked in each 
other's faces in speechless agony — he was an infidel! But 
we knew God could save to the uttermost. We consulted 
with the physician. He said he had never in all his life seen 
a case of disease so desperate ; it was impossible — impossi- 
ble to save him ; he probably would live two hours. After 
mutual consultation, it was agreed I should tell him that it 
was certain he must die soon., and urge on his soul the great 
salvation provided for the chief of sinners. 

" From the commencement he had possessed j)erfectly all 
the powers of his rare mind. I told him we had done aU 
we could for him ; he must die; and pressed on his soul 
rej)entance and faith in Christ. 

" 'My mind is made up on that subject,' said he; 'let me 
alone. Infidelity is right, after all ; let me alone, I say. I 
am determined to try my experiment.' 

" He was in a rage — thrust me from him with violence : 
' Let me die in peace,' said he. 

"I endeavored, with the utmost gentleness and tender- 
ness, to- press the subject at intervals for an hour and a half. 


but, the more affectionate the approach, the fiercer did he 
repel it, till at last he screamed to drown my voice. 

" His brother threw himself in tears upon his neck, and, 
with a bursting heart, cried, ' Oh, George ! dear George, 
won't you listen to your brother ?' 

" ' No — no,' said he ; ' let me alone.' 

" ' What shall I tell your poor mother, George ?' 

" ' Let me alone,' he repeated. 

"I stepped out to call a brother in the fourth story. 
While going, I heard George calling my name with fright- 
ful energy. I hastened down. When he saw me approach- 
ing his bed he reached out both hands, grasped me convul- 
sively, and cried out, ' Dear — dear Mr. Weld, noio Fll hear 
you ! now TU hear you ! Oh, tell me, is there an eternal 
hell ? Convince me by sure arguments. Oh, to be damned ! 
to be damned ! Oh, for a light ! for a light ! Bring me a 
light — the light of my salvation ! No, never, never, never !' 

"This word he repeated as many as twelve or fifte-^n 
times, all the while tossing his body from side to side with 
an energy which nothing could inspire but the death-strug- 
gle. He stopped, and, with a phrensied look of horror, 
died! * * * 

"I have been afflicted with sore eyes; was obliged to get 
my lessons through my ears entirely for about three days, 
but can now use my eyes about three hours a day. Semi- 
nary going on well. I have a fine class, and have never 
been placed in circumstances by any means so imposing. 
When I came here matters were getting at loose ends. 
The Lord has ordered every thing in great mercy. System 
and efficacy are the stability of our times." 




There are some expressions toward the close of the let- 
ter given in the last chapter that have a singular appearance, 
coming from a student in a seminary class. One would nat- 
urally suppose them to have been written by one of the fac- 
ulty. This, however, is not entirely unaccountable, in view 
of the previous career of the writer, his executive talents, 
habits of control, experience as public lecturer and teacher, 
and the encouragements held out to him by the agent of the 

At the time when, as already mentioned, he was planning 
t^e est^A^lishment of a grand national Manual Labor institu- 
tion, Mr. F. Y. Vail writes to him (November, 1831) as fol- 
lows : " Brethren W and T , finding I possessed a 

spirit congenial with yours and their own on the subject of 
a great model Manual Labor institution for the nation, have 
confidentially and fully made me acquainted with your plans 
and prospects in reference to such a seminary. Brother 

W will write you fully on this subject, and express his 

full conviction that you ought not to fix upon your location 
for this institution until you have paid a visit to this great 
valley, and have conferred with some brethren who have 
been looking over the rising millions of the West with a 
view of raising up just such an institution as you wish. * * 

Now, as we already have New England identified with 
this enterprise, we only need to have your plan and efibrts 
identified with our own, in order to secure the influence of 


New York, and make it strictly a national, model institu- 
tion. * * * We want now, my dear brother, just such a 
man as you are (I do not flatter you) to be the mainspring 
in the whole concern. We want the funds promised you 
exceedingly for buildings for 500 or 600 students, for more 
land if necessary, for workshops, tools," etc., etc. 

Again, in August, 1832, he writes: "I wish, my dear 
brother, you could join us this fall, and aid us in getting 
this great seminary of the West into successful operation ; 
* * * and remember that, by God's blessing, you are yet 
perhaps to bear one of the four corners of our institution by 
occupying the chair of Sacred Rhetoric and Oratory." 

The sentiments of the students toward their gifted com- 
panion and leader may be gathered fiwm the following tes- 
timony by Professor Fairchild, in his Address to the Alumni 
of Oberlin : "Among these students was Theodore D. Weld, 
a young man of surpassing eloquence and logical powers, 
and of a personal influence even more fascinating than his 
eloquence. I state the impression which I had of him as a 
boy, and it may seem extravagant, but I have seen crowds 
of bearded men held spell-bound by his power for hours to- 
gether, and for twenty evenings in succession." 

In his reminiscences of that period Dr. Beecher observed : 
" Weld was a genius. First-rate natural capacity, but un- 
educated. Would have made a first-rate man in the Church 
of God if his education had been thorough. In the estima- 
tion of the class, he was president. He took the lead of the 
whole institution. The young men had, many of them, been 
under his care, and they thought he was a god. We never 
quarreled, however." 

It was a noble class of young men, uncommonly strong, 
a little uncivilized, entirely radical, and terribly in earnest. 
Penetrated as they were with admiration and love for their 

-.O 2 


brilliant leader, they constituted a kind of impt, T''^^^^^ ^'^ i'^n- 
perio^ to govern which by ordinary college law might \. "*'ove 

An illustration was soon found. At first they recited 
daily to the professor of Ecclesiastical History, a most ami- 
able and excellent man, but not possessed of all the elements 
of character necessary to bridle these fiery and unbroken 
steeds, or to inspire them with sufficient interest in the lec- 
tures of his department. At length there was a species of 
emeute. The class informed Dr. Beecher that they could 
not and would not attend the obnoxious lectures any lon- 
ger, and implored relief 

After consultation, the doctor replied, in his vivacious 
way, *' Boys, I'll tell you the best we can do for you. You 

must attend Professor -'s lectures once a week, and 

behave^ and Stowe and I will take care of you the rest of the 
time." This was before the regular course of study had 
been matured. With this arrangement the young malcon- 
tents were, of course, highly delighted, and all things moved 
on smoothly and pleasantly. 

All this time, however, the great subject of emancipation 
was not forgotten. " A great work," observes Mr. Weld^ 
" was to be done in preparing the way for an open discus- 
sion. We early began to inculcate our views, by conversa- 
tion, upon our fellow -students. Those of us who sympa- 
thized together in our abhorrence of slavery selected each 
his man to instruct, convince, and enlist in the cause. Thus 
we carried one after another, and, before ever we came to 
public debate, knew pretty well where we stood." 

Dr. Beecher's position on the slavery question, before the 
discussion was held, is sufficiently clear from the following 
reply to Arthur Tappan, who had written to inquire wheth- 
er the trustees had taken any action in reference to admit- 


ting students of color to the institution. " We have taken," 
he says, April 23, 1833, " no order on the subject, as none is 
needed, and I trust never will be. Our only qualifications 
for admission to the seminary are qualifications intellectual, 
moral, and religious, without reference to color, which I 
have no reason to think would have any influence here, cer- 
tainly never with my consent. 

" I am not apprised of the ground of controversy between 
the Colonizationists and the Abolitionists. I am myself 
both, without perceiving in myself any inconsistency. Were 
it in my power to put an end to slavery immediately, I would 
do it ; but it is not. I can only pursue the measures best 
calculated, in my judgment, to get the slaves out of bond- 
age in the shortest time and best manner; and this, as I 
view the subject, is to make emancipation easy instead of 
difficult ; to make use of the current of human fears, and 
passions, and interests, when they may be made to set in our 
favor, instead of attempting to row up stream against them. 

" I would press the consciences, so far as they have any, 
of the Southerners, and shake their fears, and press their 
interests, as the Abolitionists are doing ; but then, that the 
pressure might avail, I would not hermetically seal their 
hearts by cutting off the facilities of emancipation, and. tempt 
them to delay it till insurrection might do the work, but of- 
fer them an easy, practicable way of doing their duty, as the 
Colonizationists are doing ; and I can perceive no need that 
the two classes of philanthropists should fall out by the 
way, though, if they do, perhaps they may provoke one an- 
other to do more than they might otherwise accomplish. I 
trust God has begun, by the instrumentality of both, a great 
work, which will not stop until not only the oppressed here 
are free, but Africa herself shall have rest in the Lord along 
her extended coast and deep interior." 


A 2)ractical answer to the question of admitting colored 
students was given by the presence in the first class of 
James Bradley, once a slave, and his cordial welcome to go 
wherever his classmates went. On one occasion, the class 
having been invited to a levee at the president's, James was 
absent through timidity. When the doctor discovered the 
fact, he expressed to Mr. Weld and others his great regret ; 
" if he had thought of his feeling so, he would have gone to 
him personally, and told him he must come." 

When the idea of a debate was first mentioned to Dr. 
Beecher in conversation, so far was he from deprecating 
free discussion, that he ofiered to attend and take part in 
the argument. It was the result of more cautious counsels 
from some of the trustees that led him and the other mem- 
bers of the faculty to advise postponement. The reasons 
assigned were the absorbing nature of the discussion, its 
divisive tendency, the risk of exciting popular prejudice, 
and the probability that at a later period discussion might 
be either needless or safe. 

As the students, however, insisted on being allowed to go 
on, the faculty would not refuse them. The result was a 
nine evenings' annihilative onset upon slavery, followed by 
a unanimous vote in favor of immediate emancipation. Nine 
evenings more devoted to the colonization scheme resulted 
in its rejection, with but a single solitary vote in its favor. 
Anti-slavery and colonization societies were immediately 
organized, and active efibrts commenced to elevate the col- 
ored population of the city. 

" We have formed," writes Mr. Weld to Arthur Tappan, 
April 12, "a large and efficient organization for elevating 
the colored people in Cincinnati ; have established a Lyceum 
among them, and lecture three or four evenings a week on 
Grammar, Geography, Arithmetic, Natural Philosophy, etc. 


Besides this, an evening free school, for teaching them to 
read, is in operation every week-day evening, and we are 
about estabHshing one or two more. * * * "VVe have 
three large Sabbath-schools and Bible-classes. By sections 
in rotation, and teaching the evening reading-schools in the 
same way, we can perform an immense amount of labor 
among them without interruption to our studies. * * * 

" I visited this week about thirty families, and found that 
some members of more than half these families were in 
bondage. May God make us more humble, fearless, un- 
flinching, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, full of sym- 
pathy for suffering humanity, and rejoicing that we are 
counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." 

Perceiving the momentum of their motion, and well aware 
how easy it was in those days to rouse the slumbering de- 
mon of pro-slavery fanaticism. Dr. Beecher endeavored to 
caution them, particularly with reference to putting in prac- 
tice their principle of " social intercourse according to char- 
acter, irrespective of color" — a principle as dangerous as it 
is just. 

" When they founded colored schools," said Dr. Beecher, 
" I conversed with Weld repeatedly, and pointed out these 
things. Said I, you are taking just the course to defeat 
your own object, and prevent yourself from doing good. 
If you want to teach colored schools, I can fill your jDockets 
with money ; but if you will visit in colored families, and 
walk with them in the streets, you will be overwhelmed." 

The young men, however, thought they saw the danger, 
and really tried to guard against it. Their opinion was, 
and probably still is, that no amount of prudence, nothing 
short of surrender of the enterprise altogether, would have 

Dr. Beecher thought differently. He felt decidedly that 


the students had not, in all respects, shown a proper spirit 
in their treatment of their instructors. Still, his letters show 
that, before leaving for the East during the summer vaca- 
tion, he anticipated no such serious results as actually en- 

As late as June, 1834, he writes : " Our first class is forty, 
and the large majority of it composed of men of matured 
age, powerful mind, and ardent and devoted piety. I have 
never known such power for intelhgent and strong action 
condensed in a single class. Their progress in study is high- 
ly satisfactory to the faculty, and we are quite willing that 
their attainments should be the first specimens to represent 
the seminary. 

" The only inconvenience we encounter as the ofiset to so 
much good is from the independence inseparable from such 
mature age and power of mind, unaccustomed to the disci- 
pline and restraints of college life. But this has not occa- 
sioned the slightest trouble except in one instance : we al- 
lude to a few particulars in respect to the Abolition Society, 
in which, as a matter of conscience, mistaken we suppose, 
but real, they have not regarded our advice as we hoped 
they would, and think they ought to have done. 

" But, after having said and done all which we consider 
proper, and waited for the teachings of experience and wis- 
dom from above, we are united in the conclusion that, if ^oe 
and our friends do not amplify the evil by too much alarm, 
impatience, and attempt at regulation, the evil will subside 
and pass away." 

Some time previously a committee had been appointed by 
the trustees on this subject, but the recommendation of 
strenuous measures was resisted by the faculty. After the 
departure of Dr. Beecher, Professor Stowe, and Professor 
Morgan, however, this committee, in connection with the 


Professor of Ecclesiastical History, proceeded to consider 
the subject. 

The result was, Dr. Beecher was informed by letter that 
on the 20th of August the executive committee adopted a 
resolution " declaring that rules ought to be adopted prohib- 
iting any societies or associations in the seminary, any pub- 
lic meetings or discussions among the students, any public 
addresses by the students in the seminary or elsewhere, or 
appeals or communications to the students at their meals or 
when assembled on other ordinary occasions, without the 
approbation of the faculty ; and requiring that the Anti-sla- 
very Society and Colonization Society of the seminary should 
be abolished ; and providing that students not complying 
with these, as with other rules, should be dismissed. * * * 

"It was decided to postpone the enactment of these rules 
until the faculty should be reassembled ; and in the mean 
time, in order that the students might not remain in igno- 
rance of the contemplated regulations, and that the public 
impressions on the subject might be rectified, it was order- 
ed that the proceedings should be published, which will be 
done in a week or two." 

A few days later the following letter was received from 
the same writer (September 13, 1834), still farther unfolding 
the state of affairs : " We have acted with great delibera- 
tion, and great reluctance in the absence of the faculty. If 
we could have felt any reasonable confidence that even the 
existence of the seminary could have been preserved, wje 
should have postponed every thing till the faculty were re- 
assembled. Many of our best citizens were looking upon 
the seminary as a nuisance, more to be dreaded than cholera 
or plague. 

*' The spirit of insubordination, resistance to law, and of 
civil commotion, which they regarded it as fostering, was 


deprecated iu a tone to make one shudder. The scenes of 
France and of Hayti recur to their imaginations, and it is 
impossible to make them calm or even reasonable. It is im- 
possible for persons not well conversant in the slave states, 
and the part of the country on their borders, to realize the 
state of the public mind on these subjects. If once excited, 
we may as well tamper with the whirlwinds and the light- 

These resolutions of the trustees, having been published, 
were denounced by the anti-slavery press as an attack on 
freedom of speech. " In what age do we live ?" asks the 
l!^ew York Evangelist, " and in what country ? and who are 
the persons thus restrained? and with whose endowments 
was the seminary founded ? and who is its president ? * * 
Nor do we see how such men as Dr. Beecher, and Profess- 
or Stowe, and Professor Morgan could consistently remain, 
nor how those subscribers to the funds of the seminary 
who expected to make it an institution of elevated char- 
acter, could make any farther payments to trustees so in- 
competent to appreciate the wants of the age. But let us 
hope the trustees will pause before they take the final 

Unquestionably, but for this hope. Dr. Beecher might have 
been justified in resigning. But the laws were not yet pass- 
ed, nor did the absent professors consider themselves com- 
promised by what the trustees had done. " We, of course," 
writes Professor Stowe, September 20, to Dr. Beecher, *' are 
not responsible for the, doings of the committee, especially 
as we tried with all our might to prevent the passage and 
publication of the resolutions referred to." Nor would Dr. 
Beecher's sanguine temperament permit him to leave his 
post without an eflfort to avert the threatened rupture. 

In this, however, he was destined to be disappointed. 


The hope had been cherished by some of the students — so it 
was stated publicly at the time in the Emancipator, of New 
York — that Dr. Beecher, on his return, would be able to 
arrest the execution of these laws. This hope, however, 
proved vain. The trustees declined to await Dr. Beecher's 
return ; the laws were formally promulgated ; and as things 
had gone too far to afford much prosj)ect of a change, the 
students, with one consent almost, resolved on retiring from 
the institution. 

" When I got back," said Dr. Beecher, " I found all in a 
flurry. If I had arrived a little sooner I should have saved 
them ; but it was too late." An attemj^t was made, indeed, 
to expound the obnoxious resolutions and orders as contain- 
ing " nothing which is not common law in all well-regulated 
institutions, since they merely commit the whole manage- 
ment of the internal concerns of the seminary to the discre- 
tion of the faculty," but this the students regarded as in- 
dorsing the despotic enactments in all their extent. 

After the departure of the students, and during their res- 
idence at Cummingsville, a final attempt was made at an 
agreement. " I determined," said Dr. Beecher, " to make 
one more effort. I went to the trustees, and told them that 
the manner of reformation in my absence was untimely, and 
the phraseology of the resolutions and orders not the most 
felicitous, and that they must let us offer terms. They con- 
sented. The laws were revised, and the objectionable feat- 
ures struck out.* We then called a meeting of a number 
of the most discreet and sober among them, telling them I 
had a confidential communication to make to them. 

" ' The fact is,' said I, ' there are some things you don't 
know, and you have ignorantly done just what others meant 
you should. Professor , though an excellent man, 

* By this revision the laws were restored nearly to the same form in 


has not been popular with yon, nor you with him, and, in 
fact, it was either you or he must leave. So, when he saw 
the tide of public excitement rising against you, and a mob 
threatening, he felt his time had come, and used all his in- 
fluence with the trustees to do what they did, hoping you 
would bolt, and he has succeeded. He has ousted you, and 
you have helped him. If we had been here it would not 
have been done. We can not say it oj^enly, but he has led 
the trustees, who know nothing about such matters.' 

" ' Well,' said they, ' what can be done ?' 

" I said, ' That is for you to determine. It is sad for us ; 
it will be apt to be sad for you. You are excellent men, but 
I am afraid it will wreck you, some of you. You may tell 
the rest what I have told you, on condition that you do not 
divulge it publicly.' They worked like beavers to form a 
reaction, but said they could not do it." 

Our limits do not allow us to insert extracts from the 
statements published by the students and faculty resj^ect- 
ively, setting forth the reasons of their course. 

Viewed at this distance of time, we find much to com- 

which they were before the discussion, the only difference bearing upon 
this subject being the following : 

Original Laws (before the discussion). 

No student shall be absent from the premises of the institution during 
study hours without permission from the instructor of his class for the 
time, or from the president. 

Kevised Laws (November, 1834:.) 

"No student shall be absent in term time without permission from the 
instructor of his class, or from the president. General meetings of the 
students, and public addresses or lectures by them, and societies formed 
among them in the seminary, shall be with the consent and subject to the 
direction of the faculty." 

Rather a slender foundation, one would think, for so painful a measure 
as rending away a whole class, and threatening to wreck the institution. 


mend and something to condemn on either side in this most 
painful affair. That the rules as passed by the trustees 
are indefensible, we do not deny ; that the first " declara- 
tion" of the faculty was equally so, we frankly concede ; 
but that the final revision of the laws was perfectly unobjec- 
tionable, and such as ought to have been accepted by the 
students as a ground of reconciliation, we see not how any 
candid mind can question. As to the statement of the Lib- 
erator that "Lane Seminary was now to be regarded as 
strictly a Bastile of oppression — a spiritual Inquisition," 
time has shown how to estimate its real value. Certainly 
the two sons of the president, who entered in the very next 
class, found no shackles imposed on their minds, and have 
not been generally regarded as graduates of a school of tyr- 
anny, nor have the professors and their families impressed 
the world as keepers of a spiritual Bastile. 

In our judgment, nay, to our certain knowledge, those 
young men might have kept their place and their principles, 
and accomplished all their noble aims, if they had consented 
to adopt Dr. Beecher for their leader. They made the mis- 
take, common to ardent minds, that to submit to an unjust 
law is as sinful as to enforce it. They forgot that men may 
waive their rights voluntarily, even to the laying down of 
life. They abandoned too easily their noble design of stamp- 
ing an anti-slavery character upon this central seminary of 
the West. Without the least concession of principle, they 
might have calmly and quietly gone on with their studies, 
trusting to time and to Dr. Beecher, whose heart they knew 
beat for liberty with a pulse as high as their own, to bring 
things right again. 

But it was overruled for good. The seminary sufifered, 
being "obliged to bear up under a load of prejudice as a 
pro-slavery institution ;" but it was not a pro-slavery insti- 
tution, and God would not permit it to go down. 


At the same time, the students were taken care of. Prov- 
idence stirred uj) friends to their supj^ort. Arthur Tappan 
exhibited a princely liberahty in their behalf A theological 
department was projected and endowed at Oberlin ; and al- 
though the welcome to students "irrespective of color" was 
ungracious in appearance, it proved cordial in effect.* 

Thus, though by a way he knew not, was Dr. Beecher's 
removal to the West directly or indirectly instrumental in 
the establishment of two theological schools instead of one ; 
and we can almost imagine we hear the seminary on Wal- 
nut Hills exclaiming, as she gazes on the numerous alumni 
of Oberlin, " Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have 
lost my children and been desolate? Who hath brought 
up these ? Behold, I was left alone ; these, where have they 

* It was with great difficulty, and only in the prospect of rich endow- 
ments and of securing a large class of students, that the principle of ad- 
mission irrespective of color, already in practice at Lane, received from 
the trustees of Oberlin a cold and ambiguous sanction. 




During the summer in which these unpropitious events 
were taking place at the West, Dr. Beecher was successfully- 
pleading the cause of the seminary at the East. In so do- 
ing, he was led to speak of the character, wants, and dan- 
gers of the great valley as they appeared to the eye of 
comjDrehensive benevolence, and as would be adapted to 
kindle the interest of the churches and draw forth their 

Invidious misrepresentations of his statements having 
been reported at the West, and the " reporter's mouth be- 
ing sharp," as Dr. Beecher expressed it, he was led to re- 
vise and publish his address under the title at the head of 
our chapter. 

In stating the wants of the seminary, he had said, "What 
we now need is a chapel for the accommodation of students 
and fast-increasing community, with a place of worship, the 
endowment of a professorship of Rhetoric, and a library. 
For the first we have dared to rely on our friends in Boston 
and its vicinity; the library we hope to receive from our 
friends in New York ; and for the professorship of Sacred 
Rhetoric ice loolc up^ hoping and believing that God will put 
into the hearts of one or more individuals to endow it." 

On the margin of the copy in our possession is written in 
pencil, "All these were secured in an agency of six or seven 
weeks ; and the one for which I looked up^ 17000 in Boston 


by one individual, an equal sum in Worcester by four, and 
the remainder in Hartford."* 

In a letter written shortly after his return, he says, " My 
reception by my people (in Boston) was all that affection 
could desire. I met the Church first in their vestry prayer- 
meeting,- Avas expected, and the room was full. As I en- 
tered the gas-lights were dim, but as I passed up I could 
note well-known faces, and see the expression pass across 
them as the light moves over the standing corn. As I en- 
tered the stand, and turned round to face the audience, the 
light flashed into vivid illumination, and presented as sud- 
denly every countenance brightened into a smile. It was a 
touching moment." 

The Bowdoin Street people subscribed about $4000, show- 
ing that, in pleading the cause of the West, there were cords 
that would vibrate, and that whatever was really needed 
could be obtained. 

It was during this visit that the Catholic nunnery at 
Charlestown was destroyed by a mob, and the city of Bos- 
ton thrown into a state of great excitement. This circum- 
stance, in connection with the fact that, in his Plea for the 
West, he laid bare the despotic character and hostile de- 
signs of popery upon our country, led to the charge of hav- 
ing incited the mob to that act of violence. 

Referring to this, he says, " The late violence done to 
Catholic property at Charlestown is regarded with regret 
and abhorrence by Protestants and patriots throughout the 
land, though the excitement which produced it had no rela- 
tion whatever to religious opinions, and no connection with 
any denomination of Christians." 

* It may be comprehensively stated here that, in the three years follow- 
ing the spring of 1833, Mr. Vail, aided by Dr. Beecher, raised at the East 
subscriptions to the amount of about $40,000 for a fourth professorship, 
and for the erection of a chapel and professor's house. 


On the margin is penciled, in the doctor's handwriting, 
the following words : " The sermon of mine to which the 
mob was ascribed was preached before my presence in the 
city of Boston was generally known, and on the very even- 
ing in which the riot took place, two or three miles distant 
from the scene, and not an individual of the mob, probably, 
heard the sermon or knew of its delivery." 

The following paragraph illustrates the condition of things 
at the time : 

" For what was the city of Boston for five nights under 
arms — her military upon the alert — her citizens enrolled, 
and a body of five hundred men constantly patroling the 
streets? Why were the accustomed lectures for public 
worship, and other public secular meetings, suspended? 
Why were the citizens, at sound of bell, convened at mid- 
day in Faneuil Hall ? — to hear CathoHcism eulogized, and 
thanksgivings ofiered to his reverence the bishop for his 
merciful protection of the children of the Pilgrims ! And 
why by the fcradle of liberty, and under the shadow of 
Bunker's Hill, did men turn pale, and whisper, and look 
over their shoulders and around to ascertain whether it 
were safe to speak aloud, or meet to worship God ? Has 
it come to this, that the capital of New England has been 
thrown into consternation by the threats of a Catholic mob, 
and that her temples and mansions stand only through the 
forbearance of a CathoUc bishop ? There can be no liberty 
in the presence of such masses of dark mind, and of such 
despotic power over it in a single man. Safety on such 
terms is not the protection of law, but of single-handed des- 
potism. Will our great cities consent to receive protection 
from the Catholic priesthood, dependent on the Catholic 
powers of Europe, and favored by his Holiness, who is him- 
self governed by the bayonets of Austria ?" 


In the letter already quoted he says, " The Catliolic effer- 
vescence, though it obstructed for the moment, aided us on 
the whole. It was a favorable providence, which called me 
back to speak in undaunted tones, when, without some one 
to explain, and take correct ground, and inspire courage, all 
were hkely to quail and be carried away. Before I left the 
tide turned, and Catholicism forever in N'ew England must 
row up stream, carefully watched, and increasingly under- 
stood and obstructed by public sentiment." 

We well remember the time when Dr. Beecher was get- 
ting this Plea through the press. One or two very influen- 
tial men had rather taken a hostile attitude, under the influ- 
ence of distorted rumors and reports; but, after the publica- 
tion of the Plea, which quickly passed through several edi- 
tions, the opposition died away. The influence of this little 
volume in deciding the character of the West is believed to 
have been extensive and salutary to a degree at present not 
easily to be estimated, when institutions are firmly rooted, 
and social character established and mature. * " I have just 
read," writes Dr. Blagden, " your lectures on Skepticism 
and Plea for the West, and I have risen from both with a 
deeper conviction than ever before that you are a good man, 
and that the motto of your heart is ' All for "God.' * * * 
Oh, my dear friend, keep humble ! I never feared any thing 
so much in relation to you as that, in the consciousness of 
power, you might become vain." 

Dr. N. Adams, also, who was preparing to review the 
volume, writes, " If I could only throw into the review but 

a small portion of my feelings toward you, Judge • 

would not wish for, nor you demand another for some 

We believe that it was in getting this Plea through the 
press that the little incident occurred narrated by Professor 


Stowe, with which we close the chapter. '' One day, after 
the printers had been on tenter-hooks forty-eight hours for 
some copy, he hastily finished his manuscript in his study, 
crushed it into the crown of the hat that lay nearest him, 
clapped another hat on his head, drove down to the city, 
rushed up to the printing-ofiice, and snatched off his hat. 

" ' Here's your copy — h'm — h'm. Well, if it isn't here it 
is somewhere else !' 

"The copy was still in the hat that w^as left at home. 
But who could be angry with so much good-nature, even if 
it were a plague ?" 

YOL. II.— P 




Professor C. A. Goodrich to Dr. Beecher. 

"New Haven, August 3, 1834. 

*' Could we have known that you were to pass through 
town, we should have waited on the wharf for an opportu- 
nity to welcome your return to Connecticut, and to have 
seen you for a single moment. As it is, let me say, the af- 
fections of past days are cherished with increasing strength 
as years pass over us. I hope you will give us a number 
of days before you leave New England. Brother Taylor, I 
suppose, will feel that he has the prior claim, but none 
would welcome you more cordially to his home and heart 
than myself. 

" I am particularly desirous, however, that Brother Tay- 
lor should enjoy as much as possible of your society, be- 
cause he is unwell, and cast down in mind from the influ- 
ence of disease. Still, he goes on lecturing with his accus- 
tomed power and clearness. But the unkind treatment and 
gross misrepresentations which he has to encounter have 
perhaps a greater effect on his feelings now than at any for- 
mer period, and demand from his friends peculiar exhibi- 
tions of attention and sympathy. I do believe, with Broth- 
er Skinner, that ' there is not in this country a man who has 
been so shamefully ill-treated.' I only wonder that he is 
alive under the continual pressure of care and responsibility. 

"There is one subject on which I could have wished to 
say a word on your coming back to Connecticut j I mean, 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1834-5. 339 

the use which has been, and will, perhaps, again be made 
of your name and influence in our theological concerns. 
Last Avinter Brother Hawes said to me, ' There is a great 
deal of Jesuitism at work to procure subscriptions for the 
East Windsor scheme. They say, among other things, Gov- 
ernor Smith tells us go on ; Dr. Beecher tells us go on? 

" Governor Smith soon after took pains to inform Judge 
Daggett that, so far from this, 'he had given formal notice 
to the secretary of his rejection of his appointment as a 
member of the board at East Windsor, stating his reasons 
at length, and saying that he considered the new institution 
as hazardous to the peace of the churches, deeply injurious 
to Yale College, totally uncalled for, and on every view to 
be deplored.' Still, his name was, after all this, given to the 
public as one of the trustees, and used as Brother Hawes 

" Your own was used in the same way ; and we now see, 
from Brother Nettleton's extracts from letters sent down 
to Virginia, how a mere remark of yours, that good would 
come out of the new scheme, connected as it was with mat- 
ters hostile to Brother Taylor, was made to leave the im- 
pression that you sympathized with the friends of the new 
school in their feelings, and entered into their designs. It 
is highly probable that any thing you may say on this visit 
which can be turned to the same purpose will be. You can 
hardly be aware how every thing is now changing from ar- 
gument into the array oi names and influence to consolidate 
a party. 

"All I wish is that you may know how things stand. 
Had you remained in the state, our ecclesiastical concerns, 
I am persuaded, would have been totally different ; but it is 
the will of God. A new institution I care nothing about, 
but the principle on which it is founded — charges again? 


brethren which are utterly unfounded — charges which ap- 
ply to Brothers Skinner, and Hawes, and Porter, and your- 
self, just as truly, in their full extent, as to Brother Taylor. 
While this is the foundation of the scheme, can it do good ? 

" My earnest prayer is, dear brother, that you may act as 
a peacemaker. There are many brethren who have been 
brought by misrepresentation into a state of alarm, which 
needs only the restoration of confidence to dissipate. One 
thing is particularly to be considered. The whole attack is 
now turned into this : ' There is a tendency to a fatal error 
in the New Haven views.^ This is the most delusive of all 
modes oi'- agitating^ Every error, however small, if really 
folloiced oict^ would lead to heresy, for truth is one. Dr. 
Dwight thought the tendency of Arminianism was to Pan- 
theism. Dr. Mason expelled Loring Dewey from his school 
for maintaining general atonement, because this tended to 
Universalism ; and it did, in Mason's scheme of theology. 
Tendency is always controlled by other and counteracting 
principles. If, on Brother Tyler's scheme, our views lead 
to heresy, they do not on ours ; and the proof is, they have 
had a trial of twenty years, and nothing of the kind has oc- 
curred. It is lorong^ therefore, against such evidence, to re- 
iterate such charges. 

" You are out of the way of this contest, and you may 
therefore do something, on returning, to promote peace. 
But your words will be watched closely, for the sake of 
turning them against your old and tried friends." 

Rev. Albert Barnes to Dr. Beecher. 

"Philadelpliia, March 20, 1835. 
"I yesterday received a communication from the Rev. 
Dr. Junkin, of Easton, informing me that he felt it to be his 
ScOlemn duty to prefer charges against me before ray Pros- 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1834-5. 341 

bytery for my Notes on the Romans. He asked me to 
' waive my constitutional right of ten days, etc., in order 
that the trial might proceed with as little delay as possible.' 
It has been known to us here that a caucus was held in 
Philadelphia more than a month ago on the subject, but the 
exact plan w^hich it was intended to pursue was not devel- 
oped until Dr. Junkin informed me of it yesterday. It is 
evident now that the design is to bring this matter before 
the next General Assembly. They can have no doubt about 
the result of a trial before my Presbytery ; and the inten- 
tion is, I doubt not, to make this a pre-eminent matter in the 
* Convention' and in the next Assembly. 

" The matter concerning which 1 need the advice of my 
friends is whether it is best that this case should come be- 
fore the next General Assembly. It is in my power, un- 
doubtedly, to keep off the trial and the decision in Presby- 
tery until after the Assembly, and thus to prevent the agi- 
tating of the subject at Pittsburg this year ; or it can be 
hastened through the Presbytery here, and brought up 
there. I should add that Dr. Junkin informs me that it is 
the design to have the doctnnes in my book, and which 
have been so long agitated, brought up unconnected with 
ecclesiastical questions, etc., for a fair and full decision. 
Will the cause of truth, and peace, and love be promoted 
by suffering this matter this year to come before the As- 
sembly ? 

"You feel an interest in me, and in the cause, and in my 
perplexity. I have felt it to be a privilege to ask your ad- 
vice. May I ask the favor of you to drop me a line on the 
subject as soon as convenient, expressing your views, and 
giving me the advice which I need ? If you will, you will 
relieve my embarrassment, and do me a kindness which I 
know you will love to render." 


Dr. Beecher's Reply. 

"Cincinnati, March 31, 1835. 

" Youvs of March 20 was duly received. I supposed that 
you had passed the ordeal, and that the charges brought 
against me by Dr. Wilson were only the violence of his indi- 
vidual obstinacy, but I now perceive it to be a part of a sys- 
tematic plan to press into the next Assembly as many causes 
as possible of inflammatory action. I had made up my mind 
i7istanter^ on his presentation of the charges at the last Pres- 
bytery, to have them laid over, without being put into my 
hands, till the next Presbytery, which is next week, that I 
might have time for consultation. I have conferred with all 
my brethren here — with Brother Wisner, of Boston, now in 
heaven, and many others ; the unvarying advice has been, 
defer, and keep it out of the General Assembly. 

"I read your letter to our pastoral meeting. They are 
all true men, and the advice in respect to your course was 
the same. Several thought that the whole Old School act 
and testimony insurrection would be so crushed and put 
down that it might be best for us both to have our heresies 
wiped away and the whole business done up ; but a decided 
majority of the meeting regarded the result at Pittsburg as 
an experiment, not so certain in its results as needlessly to 
commit hastily an important interest ; that time to you^ 
whose book is popular, and whose character is rising and 
extending in the Church and at the West, and to me also, 
and to the cause generally, is gain. 

" Every year of our action is teUing powerfully in con- 
trast with their accusations and growling. We wish also 
to avoid, if possible, what they so much desire, any doctrinal 
authoritative exposition of the Confession, either Old School 
or New, and should therefore keep ourselves out of the As- 
sembly as long as we can. But, 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1834-5. 343 

" Finally, though I have never intended to meddle with 
the Presbyterian squabble, yet if I must, and you also are 
compelled to do it, it may not be amiss that we should both 
stand for the truth at the same time. I shall be tried about 
the 1st of August probably, and I intend to make an expla- 
nation and defense which, while it maintains every principle 
I hold, shall aiFord as Uttle occasion of alarm and offense as 
may be to candid Old School men. The ultras nothing will 
satisfy but drumming their ears with a certain set of words 
which they don't understand, and for one good reason, that 
they are words without sense or reason, but under which 
their fears subside and their people go to sleep. The Lord 
have mercy on them ! 

" I trust we shall get through without difficulty to our- 
selves or schism to the, Church, unless there is so much of 
popery in the Presbyterian system of settling doctrines — by 
majorities — that God intends to let loose the principles of 
free inquiry by taking out of the way, by convulsion and 
revolution, whatever ' letteth,' whether pope, or Presbytery, 
or Assembly. We can spare any fragments w^hich will fly 
off, because our doctrines are not condemned ; but any de- 
cision which should go to condemn us, and exclude all who 
believe as we do, would make the Church a wreck. 

" Such a result I do not anticipate ; but, to avert it, it is of 
immense importance that the South, and the East, and New 
York send a copious delegation of faithful men, and espe- 
cially that a great effort be made to send elders. They hope 
to regain a majority at Pittsburg by crowding in an uncom- 
mon number of elders, which, if the East should not take 
care to balance with the same material, may produce mis- 
chief. We shall look to it here as far as able, and trust our 
friends will do the same every where on the other side the 
mountains. The best way to settle the Church is to pro- 
duce at Pittsburg a decided and powerful majority of calm^ 


decided men. The subject has given me no anxiety, and I 
do not intend it shall. I mean to press on in duty, defend 
myself when I must, and commit the event to God, and I 
hope you will do the same." 

Dr. Beecher to Dr. Taylor, 

"Cincinnati, April 25, 1835. 

" I have long wished to sit down and pour out my heart 
in a long train of reminiscences and miscellaneous remarks 
on all the way in which God has led us — our early Episco- 
pal controversy; the rehgious tracts; Nettleton's revivals 
and inquiry meetings ; the Christian Spectator, which broke 
my back and almost broke yours ; the beginning of the 
schism ; Hewitt, Harvey, Pinneo, Hooker, Nettleton, Woods, 
Tyler ; with the controversy through which you have pass- 
ed, not without great provocation, abuse, and trial — through 
which the Lord has sustained you, and by which he has, I 
trust, purified both yourself and the truth. 

" I did not think the controversy necessary, and should 
have preferred the purification of the truth by an unrepul- 
sive peaceable process. But God saw that the error which 
lay at the bottom of the New England philosophy of free 
agency, depravity, and regeneration, both the Taste and the 
Exercise schemes, demanded a convulsion to root them up, 
and cast them out of the vineyard as plants not of his own 

" It was the doctrine of a physical execution of God's de- 
crees and of physical regeneration — in short, of moral gov- 
ernment by direct omnipotence, which lay at the foundation 
of revolt in Woods, and Tyler, and Nettleton. This philoso- 
phy I suppose they hold and teach still, and are probably in 
danger of giving up New England divinity, and going back 
to the natural inabihty of Old Calvinism in the Emmons and 
Burton form. 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1834-5. 345 

" This must not be permitted. You must, all of you, on 
this point, watch and be strong, and quit yourselves like 
men ; for when it is made prominent and preached clearly, 
it produces Antinomian formality and spiritual pride in the 
Church, and Methodism, Unitarianism, Universalism, and in- 
fidelity out of it. But in doing this you must watch the op- 
posite extreme of a free agency which avails to save by its 
own actual sufficiency without the Holy Ghost — which will 
run headlong into Arminianism in the opposite direction, 
and meet Old School error on the common ground of infi- 
delity. You know with what intense afiection I have loved 
you, and the steadfastness with which I have rejected the 
charge of heresy or dangerous error preferred against you, 
and the indefatigable efibrts I made to prevent a rupture 
and then to restore peace. I love Tyler and Nettleton, but 
I have disapproved of and deeply regretted many things 
they have done, especially Nettleton." 

Dr. Beecher to William. 

"Seminary, July 15, 1835, 
" As to abolition, I am still of opinion that you ought not, 
and need not, and will not commit yourself as a partisan on 
either side. The cause is moving on in Providence, and by 
the American Union, and by colonization, and by Lundy in 
Texas, which is a grand thing, and will succeed, as I believe; 
and I hope and believe that the Abolitionists as a body will 
become more calm and less denunciatory, with the exception 
of the few he-goat men, who think they do God service by 
butting every thing in the line of their march which does 
not fall in or get out of the way. They are the offsj^ring of 
the Oneida denunciatory revivals, and are made up of vine- 
gar, aqua fortis, and oil of vitriol, with brimstone, saltpetre, 
and charcoal, to explode and scatter the corrosive matter." 





It is difficult to state in few words the precise difference 
between the Old School and New School churches, in whose 
conflicts Dr. Beecher was so prominently involved. It is our 
impression, which his history tends to confirm, that one prin- 
cipal cause of the controversy was the want of comprehen- 
siveness in the views of both the great contending parties. 

Two great truths underlfe the Christian system — original 
sin and the freedom of the will — the fact of native ill de- 
sert, and the principle that ill desert is impossible without 
voluntary transgression of known law. These great truths, 
though often supposed to contradict each other, are evenly 
blended in the Bible, and in the experimental and devotion- 
al language of God's people. 

In the Confession of Faith they are blended, though less 
evenly. " God hath endued the will of man," we read, " with 
that natural liberty that it is neither forced, nor by any ab- 
solute necessity of nature determined to good or evil." 
Nothing can be more satisfactory than this. But "man, 
by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of 
will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation ; so as 
a natural man, being altogether averse from that which is 
good and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to 
convert himself or prepare himself thereunto." 

Here the freedom of the will is at least shaded with doubt. 
Here there is room for a party to rise and say that, though 
the will was free by creation, its freedom has been annihi- 


lated by the fall. True, there is also room for another par- 
ty to contend that the only inability here asserted as the 
consequence of the fall is morale consisting in aversion only, 
" so AS a natural man, being altogether aveese," etc. 

But the other interpretation can never be deprived of the 
power of making a formidable stand, so that we say the 
grand truth of the freedom of the will is at least shaded. 
But the grand co-ordinate truth of inborn blameworthiness 
is so clearly stated as much less easily to admit of two opin- 
ions. It is far easier to justify the fact of inborn blame- 
worthiness by the Confession than the freedom of the will. 
Therefore, though these two foundation-truths are blended 
in the Confession, they are not evenly blended. The truth 
of man's innate and just exposure to divine wrath is far more 
prominent than the truth that a righteous God can really 
censure nothing but the free transgression of known law. 

This unbalanced statement by the Confession of truths so 
eminently harmonious is itself the effect, not the cause, of a 
tendency in the minds of Christians to give undue promi- 
nence to one or the other of these great truths. Either be- 
cause the human mind had not room enough to receive them 
both in their utmost latitude, or for some other reason, there 
has been in every age a tendency to exaggerate one at the 
expense of the other. The first three centuries exhibit a 
tendency to enhance free will at the expense of deep views 
of native depravity, resulting at length in Pelagianism. The 
age of Augustine reacted to an opposite extreme, asserting 
original sin at the sacrifice of free agency. The Tridentine 
theologians swung back toward the former extreme, the Re- 
formers reacted again toward the latter. 

Yet the germs of a more salutary reaction in the direction 
of human freedom were not wanting in the systems of the 
Reformers themselves. The Westminster Confession was 


to some extent a compromise between the two opposite ten- 
dencies of absolutism and moral government. We use the 
term absolutism in no invidious sense, to denote a system 
where the freedom of the will is practically annihilated, and 
the divine agency virtually absolute. By moral government 
we mean a system where the divine agency is related to, and 
limited by, the freedom of the creature will. 

That there is a compromise between absolutism thus de- 
fined, and moral government in the Confession, is plain from 
such passages as the following : 

" God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy 
counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain 
whatsoever comes to pass, yet so as thereby neither is God 
the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the 
creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes 
taken away, but rather established." 

In that " YET so" the absolutism of the former sentence 
is forever tamed down and chained to the governmentalism 
(if we may coin a word) of the second. 

A union of opposite tendencies appears in the earliest his- 
tory of the Presbyterian Church in this country, during the 
quarter of a century previous to the adoption of the Con- 
fession in 1729. The Scotch and Irish Presbyterians united 
with the Congregationalists of New England on the Bible 
as their only creed. When the Confession was adopted, it 
Avas avowedly in a spirit of concession, and for substance of 

The great awakening under Whitefield and Edwards 
quickened the nascent reaction from absolutism, until, in the 
struggle between Old Side and New Side, the Church was 
rent asunder. In 1740 the compromise was renewed, and 
the two tendencies, modified but essentially unchanged, were 
transmitted under the ausi^ices of the General Assembly. 


As the vast regions of the West were thrown open, and em- 
igration began to pour onward, missionary enterprise was 
developed as a matter of course. 

But nowhere is the genius of the two tendencies more 
strikingly exemplified than in relation to the organized 
forms of benevolent efibrt. Absolutism naturally tends to 
hierarchal authority, free agency to voluntary associations. 
The one predisposes to operate by Assembly's boards and 
ecclesiastical machinery, the other by popular societies and 
revivals. In the plan of union of 1801 we see a sort of com- 
promise between the two, under the practical operation of 
which the great reaction from absolutism reached its height, 
and a counter reaction set in. 

"Three fourths of the churches formed under this plan," 
said Dr. Beecher, "became Presbyterian. New England 
ministers looked on and approved. Dr. D wight did, and I 
did. But it was in this way that the New School element 
increased in the Presbyterian Church. Wholly, wholly. 
Now, as long as the Old School had the sails and tiller to 
manage, they never grumbled, but were hugely tickled ; for 
Presbyterianism grew so fast that the Methodists used to 
complain of a combination to run them down. But when, 
without any previous manoeuvring (for we never had any 
of that foolish feeling about it), we chose the moderator in 
General Assembly five years out of seven, there began to be 

The truth was, that when Dr. Beecher went to Lane Sem- 
inary there was in the New School mind of the country a 
buoyant and jubilant anticipation that their theology, which 
asserted free agency at the expense of profound views of 
innate ill desert, was moving on to take possession of the 
country. The Old School theology — that which asserted 
innate ill-desert at the expense of the eternal principles of 


accountability and moral government — took the alarm, and 
rose up to battle. Then, for a time, the compromise became 
as tow, and the makers thereof as a spark, and none could 
quench them. 

Now, inasmuch as the denial of either of these co-ordi- 
nate truths — innate ill desert and accountable free agency — 
subverts Christianity and ends in infidelity — in the one case 
by the door of naturalism, in the other by that of fatalism 
— it was inevitable that the two parties should, with nearly 
equal justice, charge each other with tendencies to under- 
mine the Gospel, and bring in a flood of error upon the 
churches, and should conscientiously put forth the greatest 
eflbrts to destroy each other's power. 

While doing this, however, they would be, with nearly 
equal justice, grieved and oifended at the accusations brought 
against them as uncharitable, unkind, and unchristian. In 
this state of mind, other motives incidental to partially- 
sanctified humanity would come in to embitter the strife — 
personal pique, resentment, rivalry, ambition, and the like. 
Thus, though neither party could succeed in destroying 
the other — both being right in what they afiirmed, wrong 
in what they denied — they would exhaust each other's 
strength, quench each other's piety, grieve away the Spirit, 
and convulse the Church at last as by an earthquake. 

That the baser motives alone, without the nobler, could 
have led to the mournful catastrophe, is incredible. The no- 
bler motives were undoubtedly in many minds, if not in 
most, decidedly predominant. Alas! that they should have 
been stained and defiled, as they were, by admixtures of the 
baser. But men are not angels, and it is impossible that the 
shock of battle between two grand schemes of thought con- 
testing the dominion of a continent should occur without 
lamentable exhibitions of human frailty, even in the best of 


The trial of Dr. Beecher, together with those of Drs. Barnes 
and Duffield, constituted the first shock of absolutistic theol- 
ogy thoroughly aroused and reacting against the theology 
of moral government. We can not, in this connection, go 
into the details of the trial, nor is it necessary. We shall 
content ourselves with such side glimpses as may be afford- 
ed by Dr. Beecher's recollections or correspondence. 

" About a year after Dr. Wilson tried and failed to have 
a committee appointed to examine my writings," said Dr. 
Beecher, " toward the close of a session of Presbytery (No- 
vember, 1834), he rose and preferred charges against me. 
My elder had gone, and there were two or three who had 
leave of absence and were just going. I laughed in my 
sleeve, and said to myself, ' You think you know more of 
Presbyterian management than I do ; but I have as much 
common sense as you have, and have attended several eccle- 
siastical trials in my day, and all those councils and conso- 
ciations in Connecticut were not for nothing.' I went to 
those that had leave, and told them to stay, and sent mes- 
sengers after those that had left, and thus secured a major- 
ity to postpone the trial till after General Assembly, so that 
I should have time to prepare. 

" When the trial came on (June, 1835), I took all my books 
and references, and sat down on the second stair of the pul- 
pit. It was in my church. I looked so quiet and meek, my 
students were almost afraid I shouldn't come up to the mark. 
I had every thing just then to weigh me down. My wife 
was lying at home on her dying bed. She did not live a 
fortnight after that. Then there was all the wear and tear 
of the seminary and of my congregation. But when I had 
all my references, and had nothing to do but extemporize, I 
felt easy. I had as much lawyer about me as Wilson, and 
more. I never got into a corner, and lie never got out ; 


thougli the fact is he made as good a case as could be made 
on the wrong side. 

" Morse, who was fond of me, hearing T was on trial, sent 
Stansbury, his best rej^orter, from Pittsburg, to take report. 
So we got it, every word of it. We had a good working- 
majority, and the atmosphere was congenial and cordial, ev- 
ery thing safe and smiling. In those days we had to count 
noses every time there was a meeting of Presbytery or Syn- 
od, and keep a sharp look-out about absentees- 

" Wilson attacked me for abandoning the standards. I 
said no, and gave what I deemed the right exposition, sub- 
ject to the revision of General Assembly, which must be the 
final interpreter. Soon after, in his speech, he said I claim- 
ed a right to adopt the Creeds, and put my own construc- 
tion on them. I corrected him, putting in the statement re- 
specting General Assembly. Five minutes after he repeat- 
ed it again, and I corrected him again. A third time the 
same thing over, and I corrected him as before. At this he 
scolded, and said he did not wish to be interrupted so, as it 
hindered him. 

" ' Dr. Wilson,' said I, ' this is tl^e third time you have mis- 
represented me, and I shall correct you until you put it 
right. You shall not go ahead from this point till you do 
it ;' and he quailed, notwithstanding his hardihood. 

" He did not know what he undertook. I knew to a hair's 
breadth every point between Old School and New School, 
and knew all their difficulties,, and how to puzzle them with 
them. In Presbytery he had only inferior men on his side. 
He knew they were fools. Two of them had been sitting 
all their lives on goose-eggs* till they rotted under them. 
There was not another man equal to Wilson on his side, nor 

* That is, preaching imputation, inability, and limited atonement to the 
full extent. 

THE TRIAL. , 353 

any where near it. On our side the trial was as strong as 
possible, and every body exulted with great exultation. So 
they laughed at him, even some Old Schoohsh folks, and 
called him a dead man. Presbytery acquitted rae, and he 
appealed to Synod." 

In a letter dated July 15, 1835, Dr. Beecher thus writes : 
" My trial was the greatest blessing I have had happen to 
me this many a day, and the prospect is fine of two more 
opportunities of expounding the Confession, and defending 
and propagating all I believe and teach under its auspices, 
which I believe will, by the blessing of God, do much to 
tranquillize both the East and the West, and is a manner of 
defense much better than in the way of assault. You will 
see my defense. It was done mstanter, most of it, and yet, 
under the momentum of the occasion, better than I could 
have prepared it in my study. The effect on the communi- 
ty here was good, and almost universally satisfactory. You 
will see what ground I take, and what you can take and 
maintain under the banner of the Confession, and it is best 
to study and rally round the Confession, for it contains the 
elements of all we need." 

The following humorous account of Dr. Beecher's setting 
forth to attend Synod was written by his son Henry Ward, 
who accompanied him, and is dated Canal-boat, Wednesday 
morning, October 14, 1835. 

"You who live remote from Walnut Hills have, not- 
withstanding, heard something of one of our stars, Lyman 
Beecher, But, though of note as a public character, he is 
not less famous and interesting in private life. Indeed, we, 
who see him daily, imagine that he exhibits more unequivo- 
cal marks of genius in the domestic than in a wider sphere; 
for in the pulpit (thanks to the attention of Aiuit Esther) 
he wears whole stockings, has decent handkerchiefs and era- 


vats, a tidy coat, and never wears one boot and one shoe to- 
gether; and in his published works, who can see, through 
the type, either the manuscript or the writer ? 

" But in his family, and unmolested by feminine pertinac- 
ity of neatness, his genius peeps forth in various negligen- 
ces of apparel, particularly his shirt sleeves, open bosom, 
and ample display of flannel. As if to put the broadest seal 
upon his genius. Nature seems to have ordained that he shall 
study half undressed. 

" But if we admire these marks of innate abiHties which 
appear on the exterior, no less are we surprised at those 
which he exhibits as a business man. Let me give you a 
sketch of our departure for Dayton. 

" Having several weeks for preparation, he felt secure, 
and made no attempt at a beginning until the day before. 
Then, while cutting up stumps in the garden, he fell upon a 
plan for his defense, which was indicated to us by his pre- 
cipitate retreat from his stump to his study. In the after- 
noon he dragged me away six miles, in an excess of patriot- 
ism, to deposit his vote. Before going to bed, he charged 
me to be up early, for he must get ready, and the boat was 
to start at nine. 

" The morning opened on a striking scene. As I emerged 
from my room, the doctor was standing in his study door- 
Avay, a book under each arm, with a third in his hands, in 
which he was searching for quotations. In an hour and a 
half all his papers were to be collected (and from whence!), 
books assorted, breakfast eaten, clothes packed, and horse 

" After a hasty meal, whew ! he goes up stairs, opens ev- 
ery drawer, and paws over all the papers, leaving them in 
confusion, and down stairs again to the drawers in his study, 
which are treated in like manner. He fills his arms with 


books, and papers, and sermons, and straightway seems to 
forget what he wanted them for, for he falls to assorting 
them vigorously de novo. 

" Eight o'clock, and not half ready. Boat starts at nine. 

" ' Where's my Burton V 

" ' Father, I have found the Spirit of the Pilgrims.' 

" ' Don't want it. Where did I put that paper of ex- 
tracts ? Can't you make out another ? Where did I lay 
my opening notes ? Here, Henry, put this book in the car- 
riage. Stop ! give it to me. Let's see — run up stairs for 
my Register. No, no ! I've brought it down.' 

" Half past eight. Not ready. Three miles to go. Horse 
not up. 

" At length the doctor completes his assortment of books 
and papers, packs, or rather stuffs his clothes into a carpet 
bag — no key to lock it — ties the handles, and leaves it gap- 

" At length we are ready to start. A trunk tumbles out 
of one side as Thomas tumbles in the other. I reverse the 
order — tumble Tom out, the trunk in. At length all are 
aboard, and father drives out of the yard, holding the reins 
in one hand, shaking hands with a student with the other, 
giving Charles directions with his mouth — at least that part 
not occupied with an aj^ple ; for, since apples were plenty, 
lie has made it a practice to drive with one rein in the right 
hand and the other in the left, with an apple in each, biting 
them alternately, thus raising and lowering the reins like 
threads on a loom. Away we go, Charley horse on the 
full canter down the long hill, the carriage bouncing and 
bounding over the stones, father alternately telling Tom 
how to get the harness mended, and showing me the true 
doctrine of original sin. Hurra! We thunder alongside 
the boat just in time." 


Dayton^ Friday 'morning^ October 16. "Yesterday the 
Synod was ' constituted.' Old School moderator by a ma- 
jority of seven. Under his administration the system is 
beginning to receive form, and becomes apparent. All the 
committees are one way, and the whole aspect of affairs 
shows you that there is a deep laid, regular plan, and the 
elders are all drilled in. The committee on leave of absence 
grant leave to all New School men, and refuse all others, so 
that they may increase, and we decrease. 

"It is Friday morning, and every body is talking, plan- 
ning, plotting — all bustle — heads together — knots at every 
corner — hands going up and down, and faces approaching 
earnestly or drawing back in doubt — one taking hold of 
the other's coat, leading off into one corner for a particular 
argument — elders receiving drill, some bolting the collar. 
Here, in my room, is father, George, and Mr. Rankin. They 
are looking over the ground, prognosticating, arranging for 
the onset, or for the reception of an onset. Abolitionists 
are standing on one foot, doubtful where to put the other 
down ; with Dr. Wilson as a new-fledged Abolitionist, or 
with father as a New School man. 

"Nothing can give you such an idea of matters during 
this morning before nine o'clock as to imagine the prepa- 
ration for a military battle — overhauling knapsacks, fixing 
flints, picking locks, fixing ammunition, cleaning muskets, 
arranging regimentals ; then aids-de-camp riding to captain 
and corporal, from tent to tent, from man to man. It's all 
fever, all expectation — a bracing up the mind to meet all 
things — a determination to do all things — an expectation of 
all things. 

" You know that the members of Synod are distributed 
among the families. Peter Kemper was sent to Judge 
Holt's, where father had been invited. When, yesterday 

THE TRIAL. 3 5 7 

noon, we returned to dinner, there sat Sir Peter, with his 
huge roun<^ spectacles mounted on his nose, behind which 
his whole face seemed striving to come to a focus and peep 
through the glasses. Father came in to him laughing. 
'Well, Mr. Kemper, we come together, I suppose, by the 
principle of elective affinity^ do we not?' Mr. Kemper 
sprawled his legs, wriggled his hands, and drew down his 
mouth to the proper pitch of gravity and discretion, and 
then, with a most ominous monotony, he says, 'No — no — I 
suppose — it was what we — call — in common conversation — 
a cas — cas-ual-i-ty.' 

" I never saw so many faces of clergymen and so few of 
them intellectual faces. The predominant expression is that 
of firmness (in many cases deepening into obstinacy), kind- 
heartedness, and honesty. As for deep thought seen in the 
eye or lineaments — for lofty expression — for the enthusiasm 
of genius — for that expression which comes from commun- 
ion with great thoughts, with the higher feelings of poetry 
and religion, and even of speculation, there is an utter want 
of it. There is very little dignity of expression : it is home- 
spun, sensible integrity which characterizes them ; and the 
elders are just what forty or fifty common farmers would be 
supposed to be, except that /or eldefsliip the soberest 7nen 
are chosen^ and as stupidity is usually graced- with more 
gravity than great good sense, the body of elders are not 
quite so acute in look as the higher class of working men." 

"When I got there," said Dr. Beecher, "and looked 
around, I thought the vote would run very close. My Pres- 
bytery, being appealed from, could not vote. The Old 
School had raked and scraped all the old dead churches 
where they could get an elder, and thought they might car- 
ry the day. It looked squally. 


" When Wilson got up and made his speech — the best he 
ever did make, as he misrepresented things — it made the 
issue look dubious. The house grew dark; it didn't look 
dark to me ; I knew what artillery I had got ; I had some 
letters of his as a kind of masked battery. But there was 
an Old School majority, and his speech made a se^isation, 

" There was one time, though, he came near getting over- 
set ; it came near terminating the trials. In his argument 
before Presbytery he had said that man has no ahility of 
any hind to obey God's commands. I told him then he 
was the first man I ever knew to march boldly up to that 
without flinching, and I praised him for his courage. 

" But the fact was, that did not set well on Princeton. 
They wrote to him. Dr. Miller wrote — tutored him — hints, 
you know. He found he had gone too far ; it was too 
rank. He undertook to change front. He went on, and 
changed his phraseology, and stated what he did hold. I 
jumped up and said, ' Dr. Wilson, that is precisely what I 
believe ; let's have no more trials ; give me your hand !' He 
was astounded — hung back. We adjourned till afternoon, 
and it lacked but a hair's breadth of his giving up the case. 

" When my turn came, I went on from one point to an- 
other, and by-and-by the tide turned ; and when the time 
came to vote, there was a majority against him of ten to 

* Extract from the Minutes of Synod. 

''After recess the roll was called, that the members might express their 
opinions on the appeal of Dr, Wilson ; after which it was, on motion, re- 
solved that the appeal be sustained : 

*' 1st. Because the Synod see nothing in the conduct of J. L. Wilson, in 
preferring and prosecuting charges against Lyman Beecher, which ought 
to infer censure. 

"2d. Because, although the charges of slander and hypocrisy are not 
proved, and although Synod see nothing in his views, as explained by 


" They came round me like bees, some that had been on 
his side, as cordial as could be. The next day, when Wil- 
son came in in the morning, he was as pale as a ghost — first 
time I ever saw him look down. Dr. Bishop told him that 
they had been merciful to him, but that, if he ever put him- 
self in such circumstances again, he must look out. 

" He said he did not know what course he should take — 
whether to appeal to General Assembly or not ; but finally 
he grew stronger, and appealed. 

" Well, just before the appeal came on at Pittsburg (May, 

himself, to justify any suspicion of unsoundness in the faith, yet, on the 
subject of the depraved nature of man, and of total depravity, and the 
work of the Holy Spirit in effectual calling, and the subject of ability, 
they are of the opinion that Dr. Beecher has indulged a disposition to 
philosophize, instead of exhibiting in simplicity and plainness these doc- 
trines as taught in the Scriptures ; and has employed terms and phrases, 
and modes of illustration calculated to convey ideas inconsistent with the 
Word of God and our Confession of Faith, and that he ought to be, and 
he is hereby admonished to be more guarded in future. 

'■^Friday morning. The parties in the case of J. L. Wilson's appeal be- 
ing called in, L. Beecher declared his ready acquiescence in the decision 
of the Synod, and his determination to act conformably to their admoni- 
tion. Whereupon it was resolved, 

" 1st. That the Synod express their satisfaction with the aforementioned 
acquiescence and determination of Dr. Beecher, and are happy in believ- 
ing that nothing insuperable remains to prevent his usefulness or impair 
our confidence in him as a minister of the Gospel in the Presbyterian 

" 2d. That Lyman Beecher be, as he hereby is, requested to have pub- 
lished, at as early a day as possible, in pamphlet form, a concise state- 
ment of the argument and design of his sermon. Native Character, and 
of his views of Total Depravity, Original Sin, Regeneration, and Natural 
and Moral Ability, agreeably to his declarations and explanations made 
before Synod. 

"J.L.Wilson gave notice that he would appeal from the decision of 
Synod to the next General Assembly." 


1836), I sent two or three dozens of the report of my trial 
up to be distributed in the Pittsburg Synod. When I got 
there they flocked round me. ' Why, your doctrine is just 

that of our great favorite, Dr. , and we are not going 

to see you hung.' Xhe third day of the session, Dr. Wilson 
rose and said he was prepared to prosecute the appeal, but 
that his friends had told him they could not sustain him, and 
he was willing to withdraw. 

" That, however, depended on my consent. He could not 
give it up unless I chose. Dr. Miller, in high glee, hoped I 
would not object. 

" I rose and said meekly that I was ready for trial, but 
that if Dr. Wilson wanted to cease, I supposed that, accord- 
ing to the Book, after being dragged through all the Church 
courts, I had a right to claim that my prosecutor ought to 
be treated as I should have been if condemned.* 

" Dr. Wilson bounded from his seat and blazed out — he 
had no concessions or confessions to make. Others begged 
of me not to make difficulty ; and such a great flustration as 
they were in I never saw. I did not know the reason then, 
but I know it now. You see, in my trial, I had taken the 
New School doctrines, and expounded and proved them un- 
der the Confession, and now, if the trial went on, those doc- 
trines would be sustained by the General Assembly. The 
fact was, that in the discussion between New Haven and 
Princeton, conducted in the Christian Spectator and the Re- 
pertory, ISTew Haven had pushed them so, and they had made' 
such concessions and distinctions, that some of my strongest 
testimonies were drawn from their own documents. 

* The prosecutor of a minister shall be previously warned that if he 
fail to prove the charge, he must himself be censured as a slanderer of 
the Gospel ministry, in proportion to the malignancy or rashness that shall 
appear in the prosecution. — BooTc of Discipline, ch. v., § vii. 


" Now this would make trouble amoDg themselves. Many 
of the Old School would be scandalized to find Princeton had 
been on New School ground, and to have New School doc- 
trine sustained by General Assembly through their aid. 
Well, I never knew how much they were troubled about 
that till afterward. So, after enjoying their consternation 
for a moment or two, I said I should make no objection, 
and the thing was dropped." 

Vol. II.— Q 




In the same class with the doctor's two sons, Henry 
Ward and Charles, and very intimate with them, was a 
young man named George Hastings, a graduate of Har- 
vard, of fine qualities, sparkling wit, full of fun, and rather 
distinguished for literary and linguistic acquirements. He 
gradually came to be regarded almost as one of the family, 
and when the following scene occurred, was present during 
much of the time. Being in habits of constant correspond- 
ence with a friend in Boston, he sent the following descrip- 
tion, with no thought of its publication. His friend, how- 
ever, thinking it would prove interesting to the doctor's nu- 
merous friends, inserted it in one of the papers of the day. 
As a vivid reproduction of a striking scene in the doctor's 
life, Ave insert it here. 

" Long before Edward came out here the doctor tried to 
have a family meeting, but did not succeed. The children 
were too scattered. Two were in Connecticut, some in 
Massachusetts, and one in Rhode Island. That, I believe, 
was five years ago. But — now just think of it ! — there has 
been a family meeting in Ohio ! When Edward returned, 
he brought on Mary from Hartford ; William came down 
from Putnam, Ohio ; George from Batavia, Ohio ; Catha- 
rine and Harriet were here already ; Henry and Charles at 
home too, besides Isabella, Thomas, and James. These 
eleven ! The first time they all ever met together ! Mary 
had never seen James, and she had seen Thomas but once. 


" Such a time as they had ! The old doctor was almost 
transported with joy. The affair had been under negotia- 
tion for some time. He returned from Dayton late one 
Saturday evening. The next morning they, for the first 
time, assembled in the parlor. There were more tears than 
words. The doctor attempted to pray, but could scarcely 
speak. His full heart poured itself out in a flood of weep- 
ing. He could not go on. Edward continued, and each 
one, in his turn, uttered some sentences of thanksgiving. 
They then began at the head and related their fortunes. 
After special prayer, all joined hands, and sang Old Hund- 
red in these words : 

" 'From all who dwell below the skies.' 

Edward preached in his father's pulpit in the morning, 
William in the afternoon, and George in the evening. The 
family occupied the three front pews on the broad aisle. 
Monday morning they assembled, and, after reading and 
prayers, in which all joined, they formed a circle. The doc- 
tor stood in the middle, and gave them a thrilling speech. 
He then went round, and gave them each a kiss. They had 
a happy dinner. 

" Presents flowed in from all quarters. During the after- 
noon the house was filled with company, each bringing an 
offering. When left alone at evening they had a general 
examination of all their characters. The shafts of wit flew 
amain, the doctor being struck in several places ; he was, 
however, expert enough to hit most of them in turn. From 
the uproar of the general battle, all must have been wound- 
ed. Tuesday morning saw them together again, drawn up 
in a straight line for the inspection of the king of happy 
men. After receiving particular instructions, they formed 
into a circle. The doctor made a long and affecting speech. 


He felt that he stood for the last time in the midst of all 
his children, and each word fell with the weight of a patri- 
arch's. He embraced them once more in all the tenderness 
of his big heart. Each took of all a farewell kiss. With 
joined hands they joined in a hymn. A prayer was offer- 
ed ; and, finally, the parting blessing was spoken. Thus 
ended a meeting which can only be rivaled in that blessed 
home where the ransomed of the Lord, after weary pilgrim- 
age, shall join in the praise of the Lamb. May they all be 
there ! 

" Truly the crown of old men is their children." 




While pursuing the thread of ecclesiastical narrative in 
a former chapter, a passing allusion was made to scenes of 
deep interest transpiring in Dr. Beecher's household. For 
several years the health of Mrs. Beecher had been gradually 
failing, and now, under the combined influences of change 
of climate, the fatigues of removal, increased responsibility, 
and anxiety, her constitution sunk under the power of dis- 
ease, and while Dr. Beecher was defending himself before 
Presbytery, she was slowly passing away from life. 

Constitutionally less inclined than some to look on the 
bright side of things, her mind had been gradually losing 
that elasticity^ and brilliancy which was the charm of her 
early youth, and faith and hope were for a season dimmed 
by a melancholy depression of spirit. She had witnessed 
the awful ravages of cholera in the city and in the institu- 
tion, and had felt its strange, depressing effect upon her own 
nervous and physical system — an ordeal, to those in the most 
robust health, never encountered without horror nor remem- 
bered without awe. She had watched by the bedside of a 
young and lovely friend, whose untimely death spread a veil 
of sadness over all the families connected with the institu- 

* The following is an extract from one of her letters describing the 
death-bed scene: "Esther was with her that day constantly. The next 
morning we found no hope of recovery left. She was struggling with 
death when I entered : her brows were knit, and a deadly paleness was 


With morbid facility, her mind had received and retained 
the sombre hues of grief, and she shivered as she entered 
amid' the clouds of the dark valley of the shadow of death; 
nor could she at first find her Savior there. Yet, as her end 
drew nigh, amid acute and protracted sufierings, she was 
enabled to say, "Thou art with me ; Thy rod and Thy stafi*, 
they comfort me." In her last moments the veil was lifted, 
and the glories of the celestial city seemed to meet her view, 
and the sounds of celestial minstrelsy to strike her ear. 

" Music !" she exclaimed, " music ! Can you not hear it ? 
Beautiful music ! Oh sing ! sing !" 

Thus the darkest hour was just before dawn ; and though 
her weeping endured for a night, joy came in the morning. 
She fell asleep in Jesus. And now her dust rests in the 
beautiful cemetery on Walnut Hills, with the dust of many 
another loved form deposited there in tears till the archan- 
gel trump. The bright, the beautiful, the accomplished of 
Eastern circles of refinement slumbers on the banks of the 
far Ohio, to wake on the banks of the river of life, that pro- 
ceedeth out of the throne of God. 

The Christian character of Mrs. Beecher was unusually 
deep, earnest, and solemn. Her prayers for her children 
were agonizing, her solicitude for their spiritual welfare 
overwhelming, and her instructions all that such maternal 

gathering fast, with distressing movements and convulsive throes. I 
thought, * O Lord God ! can we go through this ?' Mr. Stowe said, ' Oh, 
my love, remember, remember, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not 
want ; he leads me in green pastures, beside the still waters : these com- 
forts have delighted my soul." ' She broke out, ' Oh how delightful !' Her 
whole countenance brightened and gleamed. She waved her hands with 
joy, saying, ' Oh how delightful ! Did you ever see any thing like it ? 
Joy unspeakable and full of glory ! There is not room enough to receive 
it !' She continued in this state until she sunk into a sleep-like state, 
from which I suppose she had no more consciousness." 


emotions and a naturally fine intellect could prompt. In 
the holy yearnings of this truly devoted mother the whole 
family were included, nor could the older children perceive 
any less fervency in her desires for their true welfare than 
for that of her own flesh and blood. To her superior char- 
acter in this respect is undoubtedly owing, in large measure, 
that unbroken unity that continued to characterize so large 
a band of brothers and sisters — a unity of perfect love, that 
could admit no distinctions. 

From the correspondence of that period a few extracts 
are here presented, in which affectionate reference is made 
to her departed worth. August 30, 1835, Edward writes 
as follows : 

" My deae Father, — Since I heard of the death of moth- 
er, I have been waiting to obtain some particulars concern- 
ing her last hours before writing to you ; but as I was not 
in New York after the news of her death arrived, I could 
not expect to hear directly from you. It is not until now 
that I have been able to ascertain any of the facts of the 
case. I am glad to find, from your note to Mary, and from 
what is said by Catharine and Henry, that God was with 
her in her closing days, and that the light of his counte- 
nance cheered her passage to the tomb so long as reason re- 
mained. * * * 

" God so ordered, in his mercy, that nothing should re- 
main to prevent, in the minds of any of her children and 
friends, unmingled emotions of love, respect for her charac- 
ter, a full sense of her worth, and sincere sorrow for her 
loss. As far as I am concerned, though I never was with 
her as with my own mother, and though I could never feel 
for her that peculiar attachment for a mother which can, as 
I suppose, be felt but once, yet my feelings toward her were 
ever those of unmingled respect and affection, and not one 


thing now occurs to my memory of an unpleasant kind that 
ever took place between us, and with deep and filial sorrow 
I mourn her loss. I only regret that it never was in my 
power to do more than I did to manifest my love for her, 
and to promote her happiness. But her scenes of trial are 
over ; her hours of depression and gloom shall never more 
return ; but her tears God has forever wiped away, and I 
look forward with joyful anticipations to the time when I 
shall join her and my own dear mother in heaven. 

"I have just been to Guilford and Litchfield, and have 
been endeavoring to recall the recollections of other days. 
Never have I felt more vividly the shortness of life, and the 
rapidity with which all whom we have known and loved 
are passing into eternity; and the thought is not depress- 
ing. Soon our work will be done, and we shall be there. 

" I can assure you, my dear father, that I have felt the 
deepest sympathy for you in all your cares and trials. It 
Tvould have been but a painful sympathy had I not felt an 
assurance that you are engaged for God in a great work, 
and that he will sustain you in all your trials. So far as 
your public cares are concerned, I feel confident that you 
were never laboring to greater eflect than now." 

"Your mother's death," writes Dr. Beecher to Edward, 
in December, 1835, "sits heavily on my spirits. I feel her 
absence and am solitary. My aflection for her was sincere 
and unfailing. But her mental sufierings, the result of con- 
stitution, habit, and disease, during her decline, which I 
could not possibly alleviate, connect sadness with every 
reminiscence. She, I am satisfied, is at rest ; but I can not 
stay my sorrow at the remembrance of her great sufferings. 
I do not yield to it, nor permit the subject to prey upon my 
health or spirits ; but I disclose to you my secret sorrows. 


that you may know how to sympathize with me and pray 
for me. 

" Write a letter to me for my own particular satisfaction, 
as, having lived in and with you so many years, I do not 
like our growing non-intercourse and non-communion. So, 
if you have no time or strength, please do as I have done, 
and dash off a letter instanter without any. * * * j 
send you my Oxford address, called ' Plea for Colleges.' I 
trust it may do good in these ultra days of flippant genius 
and insubordination. I am now preparing my Views on 
Theology by request of Synod, in which I have got on so 
far as to feel persuaded that I shall satisfy myself, which is 
the most difficult thing, and most laborious, you know, for 
me. All the signs of the times indicate that our Church 
will not go the Philadel^Dhia gate, but will bolt from the 
central leading-strings." 

From the many expressions of sympathy at this time re- 
ceived by Dr. Beecher, the following will be read with in- 
terest. Dr. Skinner writes, Sept. 17, 1835 : 

" If the face of things, as far as they are publicly known 
respecting you, is not deceptive, you must be in a frame of 
spirit, in the midst of your deep and various afflictions, too 
calm and triumphant to be dependent on human sympathy 
for comfort; yet your brethren would not deserve your af- 
fection or respect if they could refrain from feelings of con- 
dolence, or from praising God for the grace whereby he has 
enabled you to endure and quench the violence of the fire 
which has been kindled by the adversary for your destruc- 
tion. *I can not tell you how great joy I have had in con- 
templating the power of the Gospel as lately illustrated in 
your history. 

" When I remember that God's hand was heavv upon vou 


in your family at the very time that his providence called 
you to exercise a strength and a patience in defense of the 
truth to which there has been no parallel in our land, I can 
not avoid exclaiming, in view of the result. What hath God 
wrought? The saints, dear brother, are refreshed by the 
exhibitions which you have made of your mind and heart in 
the conflict through which you are passing, and I doubt not 
that when you are dead they will continue to be edified and 
blessed by the same exhibitions. God meant your trial for 
greater good than could have been anticipated by yourself 
or any creature. The happy consequences of it begin to de- 
velop themselves, but will not end, until the Valley of the 
Mississippi, and the American continent, and the world, are 
full of the glory of God as the waters cover the seas. The 
press will give perpetuity to your defense of the Gospel, and 
God, I can not doubt, will follow it with an abundant bless- 
ing in coming ages. 

" Why talk we of hoping to be in heaven ? Are we not 
in heaven already while thus surrounded by the unequivocal 
marks of the divine presence and smiles? What is this joy 
but the beginning of that which will exhaust the promise ? 
Let us retain our confidence, and we shall assuredly continue 
to advance in blessedness until we join the company of the 
saints and angels above. I suppose that nothing is now to 
be watched against more than vain elation and pride. 
Ought we not to have a concert of prayer, that we may be 
delivered perfectly from that spirit which has caused all our 
ecclesiastical strife, and be robed in humility ?" 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1836-7. 371 



In the present chapter a few extracts will be presented 
from the correspondence of 1836-7, part of which period 
has been already gone over. 

February 19, 1836, Rev.W. A. Stearns, of Cambridgeport, 
Massachusetts, writes as follows : " Inclosed is a bank-note 
of one hundred dollars, which you will please accept, for 
your own use, from your friends in Cambridgeport. It is a 
feeble expression of gratitude for favors which we can nev- 
er repay — an acknowledgment of obligations which we can 
never cancel. N'ot more than seven or eight years ago you 
went to war in this place at your own charges. You fought 
a hard battle, and, through the blessing of God, gained a 
great victory. We enjoy, in consequence, peace and plenty." 

April9, 1836, Dr. Pond, of Bangor, writes : " * * * In 
Maine we do not sympathize very deeply in your Presbyte- 
rian squabbles, except to look on, and laugh at you all. The 
silencing of Barnes, however, was a pretty serious matter, 
about which but one opinion is entertained in this quarter. 
We all regard it as a stretch of power which must, and 
ought to be, followed by a reaction and retribution. The 
theology of Maine is almost entirely the old New England 
theology. We have a few Tasters^ but a great majority 
hold the doctrines of depravity and regeneration as taught 
by yourself. 

" Our ministers are serious, able, godly men, and the Lord 
blesses their labors. Many precious revivals of religion are 
in progress at the present time. Some twenty or twenty- 


five of our ministers are anti-slavery^ but not boisterous nor 
overbearing. My views on that subject remain much as 
they were, and very much, I have reason to beheve, in har- 
mony with your own. The business of instructing in the- 
ology is very much to my taste. I have one difficulty, how- 
ever, which I will state. I early wa'ote out a course of the- 
ological lectures, hoping that they would stand by me from 
year to year ; but I find, on recurring to them, that they do 
not heep xoell. They need rewriting almost every year. If 
you can suggest a remedy for so great an evil, I shall be 
very much obliged." 

At this time Professor Stowe was authorized by the trus- 
tees of the institution to j^roceed to Europe for the purchase 
of books, to lay the foundation of a library. From New 
York he writes, May 30, to Dr. Beecher, then attending the 
session of General Assembly at Pittsburg, as follows : 

" We have just heard of poor old Dr. Wilson's misfortune 
and retreat. I suppose you will stay to see the Assembly 
through, and on that supposition I direct to you at Pitts- 
burg. I have engaged passage in the ship Montreal, which 
will sail day after to-morrow. Mr. Stevenson, our embassa- 
dor to London, to whom I have a letter from Mr. Rives, of 
Virginia, goes out in the same vessel. 

" We have had no success in attempting to raise money, 
and have not been able to collect all the subscriptions al- 
ready due, such is the pressure ; but people hope it will be 
better in a few weeks. I am obliged to set out with less 
than 85000, trusting to you and Brother Vail to raise more 
in the summer, and send it on to me. You can get the 
money. Brother Adams said the Boston people would give 
to you liberally if you w^ould ask them, and I am sure the 
New York people w^ill also. The money market will be eas- 
ier then, and if you do not take^hold our w^hole library ef- 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1836-7. 3*73 

fort will be a failure. I shall employ the money I take out 
in purchasing complete sets of the fathers and reformers, for 
these must be the corner-stone of a theological library, and 
I do hope that 85000 at least will be added. ^' * * 

'' I think, also, you can do much in New England toward 
allaying the theological disputes. Every body appears to 
feel kindly toward you, and to have confidence that you are 
not far from right. Do, by all means, go to East Windsor 
and see Father Tyler. He is longing for you to come." 

October 16, Professor Stowe writes from London : " * * 
I am grieved, but not surprised, at the wrong-headedness 
of the old party in our Church. It is all in vain. Their day 
has gone by, never to return. Their philosophy is exploded 
— blown sky-high ; and their theology is a dead letter, for 
which there is no resuscitation. Keep good order at the 
seminary ; let things go on like clock-work, and you have 
nothing to fear. I shall endeavor to lay out the additional 
£700 to the best possible advantage. 

*' There is so much that I wish to say to you about mat- 
ters here in Europe that I hardly know where to begin. Dr. 
J. P. Smith, by many degrees the best theologian in England, 
is much pleased with your book, and indorses cordially its 
principal sentiments. The evangelical men in Germany to 
whom I have shown it concur with great pleasure in your 
statements of the doctrines, but express their regret that, 
with y oviv fiiie mind and stirring logic^ you should still be 
in bondage to the empiric^ utilitarian philosophy ; and I 
can not deny that I think them more than three quarters in 
the right. They appreciate your powers a great deal better 
than I thought they would, and think very highly of your 
theology separated from y owe philosophy^ of which they can 
not speak with the least patience, any more than you can 
of theirs." 




The failure of Absolutism to crush Moral Government by 
ecclesiastical trials led to the adoption of more strenuous 
measures. A combination was formed between certain New 
England theologians and the Old School Presbyterian lead- 
ers for the summary ejection not only of the New Haven 
theology, but of all those who refused to pronounce it he- 

In the course of conversation on the subject, Dr. Beecher 
was asked, " Father, is it a fact that Taylor's opponents in 
New England were co-operating with the Old School lead- 
ers in the Presbyterian Church ?" 

"Exj^ressly and entirely," he replied; "and because I 
would not denounce Taylor, they did every thing they could 
to heljD my assailants. At first they tried to bring me over. 
They wrote letters, which were shown to me, designed to 
exert an urgent influence in that direction. They held on 
with tenacity ; they wanted to draw me in ; they hated to 
give me up. They said, ' We have got to fight this great 
battle with Taylorism, and Dr. Beecher refuses to help us ; 
he stands in our way; we must either win him over or 
put him down.' Their whole strength was put forth, first 
in one and then in the other attempt. I must either de- 
nounce Taylor or share his fate." 

The voluminous correspondence in our possession enables 
us to verify and illustrate the above statement. Immediately 
after Dr. Beecher's trial before Presbytery, Dr. Tyler writes 
to his son-in-law. Professor Stowe, now also Dr. Beecher's 

PERILS. 375 

son-in-law, and thus admirably situated to mediate between 
the two, a letter seriously yet kindly reflecting on Dr. Beech- 
er's course. 

He deeply regrets that Dr. Beecher should have fallen into 
trouble, the more that there was no necessity for it. If 
he " had pursued a perfectly straight course the Old School 
men would never have thought of prosecuting him." Dr. 
Wilson has risen in the writer's good opinion both as to tal- 
ents and piety. Dr. Beecher " has given too much occasion 
for the charge which Dr. Wilson brings against him in his 
closing plea of aiming at popular effect." His defense " is 
ingenious and able, and his reasoning, for the most part, con- 
clusive, ^x«'^^c^^^«r^y on the subject ofahilityP His views of 
the Spirit's agency in regeneration the writer does not en- 
tirely approve. 

He is surprised at Dr. Beecher's indorsement of the Con- 
fession, especially after Mrs. , of Andover, heard him 

say, in a stage-coach, that Old Calvinism, as taught by 
D wight, Bellamy, and Edwards, must go down.* He thinks 
" what Dr. Beecher has said about Dr. Taylor will be to his 
discredit among all those who are dissatisfied with ISTew Ha- 
ven theology," both in New England and in the Presbyte- 
rian Church ; also, that " it would have been better for him 
not to have said any thing about Mr. Finney." 

His course in reference to these two men "has lowered 
him in the esteem of many of the best men in New England. 
The feelings of Dr. Porter were very much hurt, and very 
many sympathized with him." Mr. Rand's letter is disap- 
proved, yet " the facts stated are generally true." The state- 
ments of " Edwardean" are unquestioned.f On the whole, 

* Here Dr. Beecher interlines: "Mrs. 's representation is utter- 
ly false ; I said no such thing. " 

t Reference is made to an anonymous pamphlet published in 1832 by 


those who are opposed to the New Haven theology feel that 
Dr. Beecher " has needlessly plunged hhnself mto the fire." 
In December (24th) Dr. Tyler writes again : 
" When I said in my former letter that Dr. Beecher had 
needlessly plunged himself into this difiiculty, I referred en- 
tirely to his course in ISTew England before he went to the 
West. The time was ^vhen he had the confidence of the 
Old School Presbyterians, as is evident from letters which 
he exhibited on his trial, and from other facts which might 
be mentioned. And yet he was then supposed to entertain 
the views of doctrine which prevail in New England. And 
what is it which impaired that confidence ? It was the coun- 
tenance which he gave Dr. Taylor and Mr. Finney. Had it 
not been for his connection with these men, and the fact that 
he was supposed to sympathize with them in their theologi- 
cal views, he never would have been the object of such jeal- 
ousy and suspicion. Had he been understood to sympathize 
with such men as Dr. Porter, Dr. Woods, Dr. Humphrey, 
etc., in relation to the New Haven speculations, he might 
have gone to the West and taught the New England divin- 
ity, as it was taught by our standard divines, without mo- 
lestation. =J= * * 

"One thing, however, is certain — the New Haven men 
and their satellites do consider Dr. Beecher as on their side. 

Dr. Harvey, of which Crocker remarks: " This pamphlet, with all its mis- 
representations of the views of Dr. Taylor and his friends, and with all its 
bitterness and denunciation, was not without its effect. It increased jeal- 
ousies and suspicions at home, and gave currency abroad to the widely- 
circulated rumors of heresy, and an extensive and lamentable defection 
among the ministry and churches of Connecticut. Though it was with- 
out any responsible name, and none except those in the secret could tell 
whence it issued (the letter wanting even the name of the printer or place 
of publication), yet it was adduced in a far distant Church judicatory as 
evidence against a distinguished minister, whose character it aspersed." 

PERILS. 377 

They proclaim it upon the house-top that he has assured 
them that he agrees with them in sentiment. His name is 
made use of from Dan to Beersheba to give currency to 
their views, and they rely on him to sustain their cause 
more than any other man. If he does not intend that his 
influence shall be thrown into that scale, he ought not to 
sufier his name to be thus used, and I do hope that when 
he shall publish his views he will set the matter right. 

"I can assure you that many in N'ew England are wait- 
ing with anxiety to see what course he will take. A good 
opportunity is now afforded him to wipe off the suspicions 
which he has excited: such another opportunity he will 
probably never have while he lives. I do hope he will come 
out fully and frankly, and speak with such plainness that it 
can be seen by every body on what ground he intends to 
stand. * * * 

"I wish you to understand that I was highly gratified 
with the decision of your Synod. So also was Brother I^et- 
tleton, and all whom I tave heard speak of it. If you sup- 
pose that I, or any who sympathize with me, should have 
been glad to see Dr. Beecher condemned as a heretic, you 
are greatly mistaken. I have ever felt that he ought to be 
acquitted. And yet I think the admonition of Synods was 
merited, and I was happy to witness the spirit with which 
it was received. I love the man. I have confidence in his 
piety. I shall ever cherish with warm affection my long and 
intimate acquaintance with him. 

" But much as I love and venerate him, and painful as it 
would be to do aught to circumscribe his influence, yet, if he 
lends his influence to promote what I believe to be danger- 
ous error, I shall feel it to be my duty to oppose him. * * 

"Now for your question, 'Do you, or those who think 
with you in Kew England, intend or desire, for the sake of 


"putting down New Haven, to make common cause with the 
Old School Presbyterians against your own brothers and 
sons in the Gospel at the South and West ?' I can answer, 
for myself, that such a thought never entered my mind, nor 
did I ever hear any such desire or intention expressed by 
others. * * =5« jf there is any plan in New England to 
form such an alliance as you speak of, it has not yet come to 
my knowledge. 

" But your letter has suggested to me the inquiry wheth- 
er there ought not to be a better understanding between 
those who mean to stand' on old New England ground in 
the Presbyterian Church and their brethren here, that they 
may act in council, and not seem to 023j)ose one another. 
We have one ism to contend with, you another. If you 
wish us to sympathize with you, you must sympathize with 
us. If you wish us not to enter into an alliance with your 
opponents, you must not enter into an alliance with ours. 
If Dr. Beecher wishes for our influence to hold him up at 
the West, he must not lend his influence to put us down at 
the East. Let those who think alike understand one anoth- 
er and act in concert. 

" It is my decided opinion that if the New School men in 
the Presbyterian Church will take decided ground, and let 
it be known that they disapprove the new zsms, the moder- 
ate Old School men will co-oj^erate with them in opposition 
to the measures of the ultras, and thus keep the Presbyteri- 
an Church straight. But if they temporize, and attemj)t to 
stand on the fence, and sufier their influence to be thrown 
into the scale of the new isms, not only the Old School men, 
but their more decided brethren of the New School, will be 
suspicious of them, and every thing will go wrong. 

"I see not why your seminary should not have a good 
understanding with Princeton. Dr. Beecher held the confi- 

PERILS. 379 

dence of the Princeton professors till he was siqyposed to 
favor the New Haven theology ; but now, I am told, they 
really believe that not only he, but even you, intend to give 
all your influence to countenance the ISTew Haven errors. 
Let this suspicion be wiped away, and confidence will be 
again restored, and the two seminaries may co-operate in 
promoting the common interests of the Church." 

" Meanwhile," says Dr. Beecher, " Nettleton was down 
at Richmond, Virginia, staying with Dr. Plummer, a leading 
Old School Presbyterian, and suggesting to him all that the 
party in New England could furnish to push me deeper into 

From Petersburg Dr. Nettleton writes to Dr. Tyler, Jan- 
uary 21, 1836 : "When I was at Richmond the other day. 
Dr. Plummer put the question to me seriously, ' Did Dr. 
Beecher say to you, at such a time and place, " Taylor and 
I have made you what you are, and if you do not behave 
yourself we will hew you down ?" ' I did not know what 
answer to make but ' Who told you ?' ' Dr. Taylor himself, 
when I was at his house last summer.' " 

On this Dr. Tyler immediately writes to Professor Stowe, 
January 26, 1836; " * ♦ * This fact Brother Nettle- 
ton never mentioned to me before, and he assures me that 
he has never before mentioned it to any one. You can 
judge of his surprise, therefore, when this question was 
put to him by Mr. Plummer. The threat I understand 
was made by Dr. Beecher at his own house in Boston in 
1829. It would never have been known to any one but 
himself and Brother Nettleton had he not communicated 
it to Dr. Taylor, but would have suffered it to pass like 
many other improper things which are said in secret. But 
it has come to light through Dr. Beecher's own agency, and, 
it would seem, was regarded by him as a ho7idJlde threat. 


" And is it so ? Is there a league between Dr. Beecher 
and Dr. Taylor to ' hew down' Brother Nettleton ? the man 
of whom Dr. Beecher said in 1827, 'Mr. Nettleton has 
served God and his generation with more self-denial, and 
constancy, and wisdom, and success, than any man living ?' 
* * * And what is the misbehavior of Mr. ISTettleton for 
which he is to be '•hewn doionf The occasion on which 
the threat was uttered I understand to be the following : 

"In October, 1829, Brother Nettleton met several of the 
orthodox ministers of Boston in Dr. Beecher's study ; and 
being about to leave New England for the South, in com- 
pany with Dr. Porter, he said to them that * * * he 
was opposed to the New Haven speculations, and should 
feel it his duty, wherever he went, to bear his testimony 
against them. It was this which called forth the threat 
from Dr. Beecher after the ministers had retired. * * * 
This is the crime for which he is to be heiGn down ; and 
Dr. Taylor and his friends have begun in earnest to hew him 
down. * * * Now I feel constrained to ask. Do Dr. 
Beecher, and those who act with him, for the sake of jDut- 
ting down ' Old Calvinism,' intend to make common cause 
with the Taylorites, and hew down their own flesh and blood 
in New England ? The facts which I have named demand 
an explanation, and they must be ex^^lained before we can 
believe that Dr. Beecher does not intend to throw the whole 
weight of his influence into the scale of the New Haven 
school. I will thank you to show this letter to Dr. Beech- 
er, and inform him that there is yet ' one man in New En- 
gland who will consider that in defending Mr. Nettleton 
he defends the cause (of Christ) in one of its most vital 
points.' " 

On this letter is endorsed, in Dr. Beecher's handwriting, 
as follows, March, 1837: "The transaction called a threat 

PERILS. ' 381 

was a mere playful act of humor, and was so understood by 
Nettleton. In cutting wood, with a look and tone he un- 
derstood, I shook my axe at him, and said playfully some- 
thing of the kind repeated, at which we both laughed, and 
it passed away in that form. That same evening I read him 
my sermon on Infant Character, which I supposed crossed 
Taylor's track, and with which he was pleased. I mention- 
ed it to Taylor as a piece of playfulness, and so he under- 
stood it and stated it to Plummer. Nettleton's affecting to 
have taken it seriously, and kept it secret, and permitting 
this impression to be made on Plummer and Tyler, is one 
of the inexplicables of one who was then a friend and broth- 
er, and who has no right to pretend now that he thought 
the threat real at the time." 

Next came a letter from Dr. Plummer, of Richmond,yir- 
ginia, dated January 30, 1836, informing Dr. Beecher that 
"for some two or three years there have been things said 
respecting you in all the line of our Atlantic States where I 
have traveled, which were of a distressing nature, * * * 
and they are gaining rather than losing strength." If Dr. 
Beecher will answer a few questions. Dr. Plummer will take 
great pleasure in publishing his reply in Richmond. The 
questions were such as the following : 

Did Dr. Beecher ever say that the attempt to invigorate 
the Assembly's Board of Missions was the dying kick of 
Presbyterianism ? Does Dr. Beecher hold the same senti- 
ments about creeds as he expressed in New York in 1829 ? 
Did Dr. Porter ever have any correspondence with Dr. 
Beecher to try and change his theological views ? Did Dr. 
Beecher ever say in a public stage that Old Calvinism must 
go down ? What did Dr. Beecher mean by what he said 
of Dr. Taylor and Mr. Finney in his recent trial ? Is Lane 
Seminary to be an engine for opposing Old Calvinism and 


sound Presbyterianism ? etc., etc. "A frank avowal on 
these points," it is stated in conclusion, " would make many 
friends to Lane Seminary." 

On this letter Dr. Beecher remarks at the time in a letter 
to one of his sons : " The war in Connecticut between New 
Haven and East Windsor is becoming more intense in feel- 
ing, and is working up to an eruption. ISTettleton is in Vir- 
ginia operating, and the plan is to form an alliance, offensive 
and defensive, against New Haven, permitting all other her- 
etics to live who will consent to abjure that school. I have 
received a letter from Plummer, raking up all old things and 
new ever reported by Old School or others about me ? It 
gives me an opportunity to kill a brood of vipers at once. 
There are Old School men who have made deliberate and 
indefatigable efforts to undermine confidence in me in the 
South, and in this way to choke the seminary," 

Shortly after, February 20, 1836, Dr. Tyler writes to Pro- 
fessor Stowe a very long and elaborate letter, of which the 
following is a condensed outline. The writer is glad that 
Professor Stowe is perfectly aware "that the New Haven 
speculations are the real cause of the convulsions in the 
Presbyterian Church." He is pleased with the course mark- 
ed out for Lane Seminary to pursue, and has " no wish that 
it should assume a belligerent attitude against New Haven 
men or any body else." But he adds, " Some things in Dr. 
Beecher's course have awakened suspicions which ought in 
some prudent way to be removed. I sent a copy of my let- 
ter of December 24 to Brother Nettleton, which, he informs 
me, he sent to Dr. Miller (of Princeton). The following is 
an extract of Dr. Miller's letter in reply." 

Dr. Miller to Br. Nettleton. 
" I feel particularly indebted to your kindness in commu- 

PERILS. 383 

nicating a copy of Dr. Tyler's letter. Every word of it is 
weighty, and worthy of the most serious consideration. I 
rejoice that he takes such clear and just views of almost all 
the subjects which he undertakes to discuss, and that the es- 
timates which he forms of the real state of things, both in 
our Church and in New England, are so correct. I can not 
but hope that such a letter, being shown to Dr. Beecher, as 
it doubtless was, may have been useful to him. 

" Yet, to say the truth, I was much discouraged with one 
thing in Dr. Beecher's trial ; I mean, that he should, after 
making such explanations and declarations as really placed 
him upon pretty thorough Old School ground, have spoken 
as he did of Dr. Taylor and Mr. Finney. Is it possible to 
reconcile that man's whole course with a sound, honest, 
straightforward purpose ? It would give me more pleasure 
than I can express to see him come out bright^ and entirely 
consistent. But I fear there has been somewhere such a 
tampering with conscience as will be found to eat like a can- 
ker both into character and usefulness. 

"I was struck with your (Mr. Nettleton's) just remark 
that ' attempts are now made to account for all the opposi- 
tion to Dr. Beecher and Dr. Taylor on the ground of sheer 
prejudice against the New England divines as a body.' I 
am aware of this fact. Those who wish to make this im- 
pression, after presenting a dishonest caricature of Old Cal- 
vinism, in real verity dressing it up ' in bears' skins,' try to 
persuade their disciples that none but such as adopt this 
ultra orthodoxy have any objection to the New Haven opin- 
ions. There can not be a more unjust statement ; nor can 
any one who is acquainted with facts believe it. 

" For, on the one hand, it is well known that a large 
number of divines resident in New England, most eminent 
for talents, learning, and piety, are as thoroughly opposed 


to the New Haven opinions as any of us, and these vener- 
ated brethren enjoy the affectionate confidence of the min- 
isters of the Presbyterian Church. 

" On the other hand, it is equally well known that a num- 
ber of revered and beloved ministers of our own Church, 
originally from New England, and still possessing no small 
share of New England feeling, such as Dr. Richards, Dr. 
Spring, Dr. J. Woodbridge, Dr. Fisher, Dr. Hillier, and a 
number more like them, v/hile they enjoy the intimate con- 
fidence of the brethren, think as unfavorably of the New 
Haven speculations as any of our number." 

" I trust," continues Dr. Tyler, " you will not impute it to 
vanity that I have copied this extract. My sole object is 
to let you know the views of Dr. Miller." 

Dr. Tyler then quotes from a letter of Mr. Nettleton, 
dated Petersburg, Virginia, February 4, 1836, in which he 
attempts to fasten the charge of inconsistency on Dr. Beech- 
er in his treatment of Dr. Taylor, and closing, " From that 
day (1830) to this I have not felt at liberty to say yes or no 
to the question which has hundreds of times been asked by 
ministers, 'Where does Dr. Beecher stand?' My ^answer 
is, ' You must ask him.' " 

" We have certainly no disposition," continues Dr. Tyler, 
" to molest Dr. Beecher, unless we are compelled to do it in 
self-defense. But we do not like to have his influence made 
to bear against us. Those who are doing their utmost to 
put us down do insist upon it that he is with them, and he 
is not willing, as appears from what he said to Mr. Nettle- 
ton in 1830, that we should contradict them. Besides, in 
his eulogy of Dr. Taylor and Mr. Finney, he did not take 
any exceptions to their doctrinal views ; consequently, the 
impression was made that he did intend to defend them in 
r^e gross, and to lend his influence to sustain them. If such 

PEKILS. 386 

is his intention, so be it; let us understand it. If such is 
not his intention, he must do something to remove this im- 
pression. Just look at it. The testimony of Dr. Woods 
and myself is made use of to sustain him at the "West, and 
yet his influence is made use of to strengthen the hands 
of those who accuse us of maintaining sentiments which in- 
volve the most blasphemous errors. Now I appeal to you 
whether this is as it should be." 

Dr. Tyler then enters into a warm and lengthy defense 
of Mr. Nettleton from certain reflections that had been 
made upon his course. "It may be," he says, "that he 
he talks more than is expedient, but I am persuaded that an 
impression has gone abroad in regard to him that is entire- 
ly erroneous. I am equally sure that he is most egregious- 
ly slandered and persecuted. * * * He does honestly 
believe that the l^ew Haven speculations do tend to sap the 
foundations of evangelical truth, and to destroy the charac- 
ter of revivals of religion ; and he has seen more of their in- 
fluence, probably, than any other man. Such being his con- 
victions, how can he be silent? and has he not a right to 
express his opinion of writings which have been published 
* * * for the purpose of * * * changing the faith 
of the churches ? 

" He set his face from the first against the new divinity 
and the new measures, and he has maintained his ground 
against flatteries and frowns, in the midst of obloquy and 
reproach. He has never shufiied nor fallen in with what his 
conscience condemns, for the sake of gratifying friends or 
foes, and it is for this that he is now the object of unre- 
lenting persecution. When you speak of him as ' origina- 
ting and propagating mere religious gossip,' I know not 
how to understand you. * * * j i-ggard it as an unfor- 
tunate thing that his letter to P , of Georgia, got into 

Vol. IT.— R 


the papers, but for this he is not responsible ; he had no 
idea of its being published, nor does he know to this day 
how P 's letter to him got into the papers. It was pub- 
lished by somebody without his knowledge or consent. 

"He committed an error in suffering that extract from 
your letter and some others to be published two years ago, 
but it is the only error of the kind which I have known him 
to commit. * * * 

" I hope you will not infer that I have lost any of my af- 
fection for Dr. Beecher. I think in some things he has 
erred. But I can not cease to love him. Wherein he has 
erred I hope he will see his error, and do what he can to 
correct any wrong impressions which he may have been in- 
strumental in making." 

This letter was before the publication of Dr. Beecher's 
Views in Theology, and, of course, before the session of the 
General Assembly at which Dr. Miller and the Princeton 
leaders so cordially urged him not to make objection to Dr. 
Wilson's retreat. Between the time of his correspondence 
with Mr. Nettleton, therefore, and that session of the Assem- 
bly, it would appear that Dr. Miller had discovered that it 
was " possible to reconcile that man's course with a sound, 
honest, straightforward purpose, " and had enjoyed the inex- 
pressible pleasure of seeing him " come out bright and e7i- 
tirely consistent.'''^ 

We now proceed to notice the progress and results of 
the Plummer correspondence. Among Dr. Beecher's MSS. 
was found the following paper, entitled. 

Prayer before signing^ sealing^ and sending the Letter to 
" O Lord, my Savior and my God, Thou seest the en- 
tire course of my ministry, and all the reasons and motives 

PERILS. 381 

which have dictated my conduct in all my public life, and in 
all the trials and difficulties I have been called to encounter ; 
and though in respect to the relations of my heart to Thee, 
compared with Thy holy law, or with Thy glorious Gospel, 
I have only to make confession of shortcomings, and in 
many things offending altogether, yet, relying only on Thy 
blood, and righteousness, and intercession for pardon, and 
Thy free rich grace for my sanctification and meetness for 
heaven, I may humbly appeal to Thy searching eye for the 
general rectitude of my purpose, and the integrity and hon- 
esty of my motives in all my public actions. 

" Thou seest, as I can not but hoj3e and believe, that my 
great and all-absorbing desire has b^n to promote Thy 
cause and kingdom in this world, and that in all the circum- 
stances in which I have been misunderstood, I have acted in 
Thy fear, and in good faith with my friends and Thy friends, 
and my fellow-men. 

" And till now I have supposed that I have followed the 
guidance of Thy wisdom from above in waiving, for the 
most part, all public explanations of my course and conduct, 
which, having been determined by local circumstances and 
existing reasons which could not be explained to the world 
or appreciated,! have committed to Thy faithful, providen- 
tial care, confiding in my own rectitude of life, and Thy pres- 
ervation of me, to obviate the evil. 

" But, in the present case, though I have hesitated at de- 
parting from my general course by a public reply to rumors 
and mistakes, I have supposed that the condition of Thy 
Church is now such as affords me not sufficient time for pri- 
vate explanations, and that evils may come upon it from a 
misdirection of public sentiment in respect to me. I have 
come to the conclusion, therefore, that it is Thy will that I 
should forego my personal reluctance, and give to Thy min- 


isters and friends these explanations which may prevent the 
mischief to Thy cause of their misdirection by mistake. But 
I do it humbly confiding in Thy approbation, and I do now 
most afiectionately commit to Thy providential care this let- 
ter and all its consequences." 

The following is an outline of Dr. Beecher's letter to Dr. 
Plummer ; 

" You are not insensible of the difficult task your inter- 
rogatory letter imposes on me, extending over some six or 
eight years, and demanding ay or no concerning words 
which may easily be forgotten or misunderstood — words 
which, interpreted Ify the occasion, and attendant circum- 
stances of intonation, look, or gesture, may mean one thing, 
and, stripped of these aids of exposition, quite another. Met- 
aphors or hyperboles, for example, put down as literal mat- 
ter, or a burst of emphatic displacency, as Edwards would 
call it, transient as lightning, set down as a solemn, settled 
purpose of evil, would make sad havoc both of truth and 

"Such habits of frank, earnest, and unpremeditated ex- 
pression in times of peace, or while the enemies of truth as- 
sailed and my friends defended me, have occasioned me very 
little inconvenience ; but, since confidential friends have fall- 
en out by the way, and I, in my unavailing efforts to pre- 
vent division, have tried their patience on both sides, and 
the whole Church is shaking with fear, though I have learn- 
ed henceforth to measure my words or bridle my tongue, I 
can not tell exactly how I may succeed in reducing to intel- 
ligible order those vagrant words, the offspring of unsuspect- 
ing confidence in days of peace whicli*have passed away." 

He then proceeds to answer the questions in detail, in ev- 
ery instance entirely refuting the injurious construction 

PEEILS. 389 

placed upon his words aud actions, or denying the allega- 
tions altogether. As to the charge of having said that Old 
Calvinism, as taught by D wight, Bellamy, and Edwards, 
must be put down, he says : 

"Dwight was my theological instructor and father, most 
beloved and revered of all the men to whom this heart of 
mine was ever drawn, and I am not aware that there is now, 
or ever was, any discrepancy between his doctrinal opinions 
and mine. The last interview I ever had with him I recol- 
lect explaining my views on a point where he had appre- 
hended there might be some difference, to which, as I moved 
on, he said, with his j)eculiar smile of heavenly benignity, 
'Very well, very well, very well.' While Edwards, and 
Bellamy, and Fuller, and Witherspoon have constituted the 
bone and sinew, and heart and life of my theology, I have 
been steeped, as Brother Stuart once said of me, in Jona- 
than Edwards for more than forty years; and when the 
theology of Edwards, and Bellamy, and Witherspoon, and 
Dwight goes down, I expect that the Bible itself and Chris- 
tianity will go down." 

As to Dr. Taylor and Mr. Finney, he says : " I intended 
the public to understand that in a trial of such serious mo- 
ment to my character and usefulness I would not be identi- 
fied with any man — that I would be answerable for no ojDin- 
ions but my own, and would make no declarations of con- 
currence or disavowal." 

The following is a brief extract from the closing portion 
of the letter : 

« * * * Yox more than three years, various injurious 
and unfounded rumors concerning me have been put in cir- 
culation, and I have held my peace, as the only alternative 
of avoiding a newspaper controversy, which would have in- 
flamed inflammation itself My trial before Presbytery and 


Synod, and your letter, have given me favorable opportuni- 
ties of vindicating myself and disabusing the community ; 
the result of which, I hope, will be the dissipation of the 
mists which have gathered about our institution, and com- 
mending it, with its resources, to the confidence of the Pres- 
byterian Church, for whom it has been endowed, and to 
whom, in all its united and unperverted influence, it is offer- 
ed and will be faithfully devoted. * * * 

"But there never has been so solemn a crisis in all the 
Church's history. If her ministers and members can check 
their jealousies, and drop their bickerings, and bury their 
animosities, and all cultivate the meekness and gentleness 
of Christ, a glorious destiny is before her. But let dissen- 
sion prevail, and actual division and subdivision ensue, and 
it will be a wu'eck over which angels might weep. Every 
valuable interest throughout the land, throughout the world, 
and perhaps for generations to come, must sympathize in the 
sad catastrophe." 

In speaking of the effect of this letter, Dr. Beecher re- 
marked : " I sent him my answer, requesting him to pub- 
lish it ; but he wrote back, asking another string of ques- 
tions; whereupon I wrote back, answering his questions 
briefly, and referring him to my Views in Theology." The 
following is an extract of the second reply : 

" * * * I have endeavored to render myself intelli- 
gible in my Views of Theology. I have read the extracts 
from the Spectator (to which you refer), and regret that I 
can not meet your desire by an unqualified yes or no, and 
that I have neither time nor strength to perform the work 
of a critical discrimination. * * * That I may not, how- 
ever, even seem to avoid the frank exposition of my own 
opinions, I shall not hesitate to answer your questions in my 
own language, and without any particular reference to the 

PERILS. ' 391 

^^ Quest. 1. Do you believe that all sin consists in the vol- 
untary transgression of known law ? Ans. I believe in orig- 
inal sin as existing anterior to actual sin or any knowledge 
of law. 

" Quest. 2. Is there any sense in which infants are de- 
praved and sinful besides the fact of a constitutional bias 
to evil, an effectual tendency to sin ? (I give the substance.) 
Ans. Yes ; yet not in the substance of the material body — 
it would be Gnosticism ; not in the created substance of the 
mind — it would be Manicheism ; nothing, either, that forces 
the will to actual sin by an absolute necessity of nature — it 
is contrary to the Confession. And yet it is something more 
than the Pelagian bias or tendency, by the premature ascend- 
ency of appetite and passion over reason and conscience; 
and something more than a constitutional tendency, which 
renders actual sin certain. Before the era ofknown km and 
actual sin., infants manifest a dej^raved action of mind., vol- 
untary and sinful in its character or qualities. Selfishness^ 
selficill, malignant anger., envy., and revenge indicate clear- 
ly their existence and action in infant minds anterior to the 
knowledge of God^s law. Apparently^ all the prominent 
embryo outlines of sinful character which are developed in 
adults are clearly manifest in infants — developments incon- 
sistent with innocency., that is, exemption from evil tenden- 
cy or meetness for heaven, and such as unfallen beings can 
not be supposed to inherit. They are actions of mind, and 
feeling, and will, in their nature unbenevolent and malignant ; 
and, compared with those benevolent movements of mind 
which the law requires, they are, in themselves considered, 
avo\ii<x ; not subject to the law, and contrary to the law and 
the elementary principles of the carnal mind, which, as ca- 
pacity and knowledge are developed, become in the adult 
enmity against God, and that total depravity which makes 


regeneration by the Holy Spirit indispensable. For these 
reasons infants can not properly be denominated innocent, 
or be saved without an atonement and regeneration, and are 
correctly and in an eminent sense denominated sinners and 
cMldren ofiorath. 

"All this, however, which is anterior tO' knowledge, and 
personal accountability, and actual sin^ comes upon them in 
consequence of their federal alliance with Adam, and as the 
curse of the law brought on them by his sin imputed to 

On this letter, at a later period. Dr. Beecher indorsed the 
following : 

"The sentiments contained in the answer to Question 2, 
though never published, are known by not a few to have 
been my opinions from the very outbreak of the modern 
controversy about original sin." 

Copieb of these letters were carried to the East by Pro- 
fessor Stowe, in the earnest hope, to which Dr. Beecher clung 
so steadfastly to the very last, of assuaging or averting open 
rupture between brethren once tenderly united, to be sub- 
mitted, if opportunity offered, to the brethren at Andover, 
East Windsor, and Princeton. In reference to the latter. 
Professor Stowe writes. May 2, 1836 : "I have been provi- 
dentially prevented from going to Princeton. Mr. Barnes 
said, if it was his case, he would not have me go on any ac- 
count. He said it was of no use to pay court to Princeton ; 
matters had come to such a pass that Princeton must be re- 
sisted and humbled rather than conciliated. I shall be at 
New York during the anniversaries. In all probability the 
Princeton professors will be there. I shall take advice of 
Peters, Skinner, and others, and, if they think best, I will 
there read the letters to such a circle as they shall advise 
me to call together for the purpose. It will look less like 

PERILS. 393 

* courting Princeton,' as Barnes says. I shall read it to Dr. 
Tyler while I am at East Windsor. 

'•''May V. I laid the correspondence before Dr. Woods, and 
his feelings are freely expressed in his letter, a copy of which 
I send you. I have also read it to Dr. Tracy, of the Record- 
er. He feels as Dr. Woods does. * * * A copy of Dr. 
Porter's suspicion letter to you was found after his death. 
It was taken in two or three transcripts, and repeated at- 
tempts were made to get it into the newspapers. It was 
prevented by Dr. Woods's earnest interference, and now all 
the copies are called in and in Mrs. Porter's possession, and 
all is safe in this quarter." 

The following is an extract from the letter of Dr. Woods 
above mentioned : 

"May 6th, 1836. 

"I have read the letters with great satisfaction. Dr. 
Beecher's frankness and honesty, and the piety and ortho- 
doxy which he brings out more and more clearly, must se- 
cure to him the confidence as well as love of all sober, en- 
lightened, candid men. The farther I proceed with his 

* Views in Theology,' the better I am pleased. The Lord be 
praised for raising up such a man, and keeping him right 
while so many are going wrong. It is really well for min- 
isters and churches to be pretty jealous over us, and I would 
thank God for the degree of wakefulness which shows itself 
in regard to the doctrines we hold, for there is no end to 
the erratic speculations of the times ; the very atmosphere 
we breathe is tainted with them. I am quite desirous of 
having a copy of these papers, and my object is to use them 
in particular cases, in a private, confidential w^ay, to remove 
suspicions, and bring about a happy state of feeling toward 
Dr. Beecher." 



In his letter to Dr. Plummer, as well as in his "Views in 
Theology," Dr. Beecher had gone as far as was possible to 
him in avowing his belief of the great truth of innate ill-de- 
sert. Few men then living could have gone farther ; cer- 
tainly not either Drs. Woods, Tyler, or Hodge. The Gen- 
eral Assembly indorsed his position as entirely satisfactory. 
Dr. Wilson retired baffled and disconcerted, with the assur- 
ance that his Princeton brethren could not sustain his ap- 
peal. Dr. Woods was delighted, as his letter shows, and 
thankful to God for "raising up such a man, and keeping 
him right, when so many were going wrong." 

One thing, however, Dr. Beecher yet lacked. He must 
not only assert native ill-desert, but deny that ill-desert is 
conditioned upon voluntary transgression of known law. 
He must not only deny this, but denounce it as heretical. 
In short, he must not only be orthodox, but he must de- 
nounce Dr. Taylor. 

Two impossibilities stood in the way of this : first, his 
love of Taylor, and, second, his love of truth. This his Old 
School brethren could not understand. They really thought 
that, to be sincere, he must do what they desired ; for how 
could he, or any other man in his senses, hold two great 
fundamental propositions which they were accustomed to 
consider contradictory ? The idea that both were true, that 
both could be held in equal ^^rominence by the same mind, 
had never occurred to them. They would have scouted the 
notion as a self-evident absurdity. 

Hence, finding Dr. Beecher refusing to abandon Taylor 
and the principles of Moral Government, they began to doubt 
him. They fell back upon the same kind of suspicions Dr. 
Miller had expressed before, in his letter to Dr. Nettleton. 
There must have been somewhere a fatal " tampering with 
conscience" — some latent, inexplicable obliquity, rendering 

PERILS. 395 

it impossible to reconcile " that man's whole course with a 
sound, honest, straightforward purpose." 

Those doubts had been somewhat allayed in course of 
the correspondence of which an outline has been given. 
He had been unexpectedly full in his assertion of innate de- 
pravity ; so much the more necessary for him to go farther-, 
and become a thorough-going, zealous, one-sided partisan, 
or they would be compelled to doubt his sincerity or his 
sanity ; and, in either case, he must be sacrificed on the al- 
tar of truth. 

The tendency of the doctrine that ill-desert results only 
from voluntary transgression of known law they honestly 
believed to be subversive of the Gospel. And, indeed, if 
this doctrine be held, without being counterbalanced by the 
doctrine of native ill-desert, they were right. It is impossi- 
ble to deny native ill-desert without logically tending to un- 
dermine the Gospel. But they conscientiously denied the 
possibility of thus counterbalancing the one great doctrine 
by the other. Hence their unwavering conviction that to 
encourage New Haven speculations was to become respon- 
sible for heresy; hence the painful necessity of sacrificing 
Dr. Beecher, if he would not denounce Dr. Taylor. 

It was a painful sacrifice. They really loved Dr. Beech- 
er. Dr. Tyler w^as an old friend, and in the old Litchfield 
days their love had been that of brethren indeed. Dr. Mil- 
ler and the Princeton professors really liked him. Notwith- 
standing his want of that " cold prudence" of metaphysical 
subtlety in which they especially gloried, " there was no 
one whose white plume they would more w^illingly see lead- 
ing the van" of God's embattled hosts. Dr. Woods really 
loved him. His farewell note, written just as Dr. Beecher 
was leaving for the "West, breathes a tenderness that must 
be genuine. "My dear brother," he exclaims, "my heart 


melts to think of parting with you ! The blessing of the 
God of Jacob be u23on you and upon your dear family." 

But what are personal preferences or natural affections, 
however pure and deep, in comparison with the great inter- 
ests of the Redeemer's kingdom ? Convinced, as these ex- 
cellent brethren were, that their moiety of truth was the 
Gospel, and Dr. Taylor's moiety another Gospel, they had 
no option ; they must not confer with flesh and blood. Dr. 
Beecher must be plucked as a brand from the New Haven 
fire, or be overwhelmed w^th the devoted city ; and the 
crisis was now come Avhen forbearance must cease, and he 
himself accept the alternative of peace or war. 

This may seem a trivial alternative to those uninitiated 
in the secrets of ecclesiastical administration, and unaware 
of the tremendous pressure that can be brought to bear on 
a given point when once the vast system of ecclesiastical 
machinery, with all its countless concealed springs, and 
bands, and wheels, is set in motion with full momentum, 
with the public sentiment of a continent to turn the dark 

But let them remember that nothing so terrifies men who 
can be terrified as the loss of professional reputation, espe- 
cially when that reputation is bright, and felt to be, in the 
evening of life, on the point of being swept away ; let them 
remember how bitterer than gall and wormwood is defeat, 
the failure of an enterprise like that in which Dr. Beecher 
was embarked, the crushing out of a theological institu- 
tion, the disappointment of hopes so high raised, benevo- 
lent plans so comprehensive — let them reflect that such a 
wreck would involve both reputation and support, and then 
let them try to judge whether it was a slight and trivial 
thing for Dr. Beecher to resist the pressure, velvet in touch, 
Alpine in weight, that came to hurl him in, like a rock from 

PERILS. 397 

a catapult, against ISTew Haven. The velvet touch was that 
of Dr. Woods ; the Alpine weight was that of Andover, 
East Windsor, and Princeton combined, by private corre- 
spondence, in full co-operation and concert. 

It was immediately after his triumphant acquittal by the 
General Assembly at Pittsburg in 1836, and the letter of 
Dr. Woods on the Plummer correspondence, that the final 
attempt to bring Dr. Beecher over was made, and made in 

" While I was at the East," says Dr. Beecher, " the sum- 
mer after my trial, Dr. Woods called on me and asked me 
to walk with him. He said, hesitatingly, that the brethren 
were satisfied in the main, and yet there were some things 
not quite so clear. They loanted to be satisfied, and have 
things as they used to be between them and me ; and final- 
ly he wanted to know if it might not be in my power to 
make such concessions in regard to Dr. Taylor as would be 
satisfactory. I turned round and said, ' Dr. Woods, I know 
what these gentlemen and you want. They want me to say 
what will go to implicate Taylor as heretical, and I never 
will do it ; and you may tell them so.' '* 

This was a thunder-clap. Dr. Beecher's household inmates 
in those days can well imagine the look and tone with which 
these decisive words were spoken. Often, in the long course 
of efibrts to involve him in the crusade against New Haven, 
had they heard him exclaim, "I'll never denounce Taylor. 
To reach Taylor they must pass over my dead body. My 
bones shall whiten on the battle-field beside Taylor's." 

The consequence was immediate. The same attack that 
had been hitherto made on Dr. Taylor now burst in all its 
fury on Dr. Beecher. 

The confidential letter of Dr. Porter was published in t^ 
Hartford Watchman. A volume was published by Dr. "id 


vey, containing, in the language of the Princeton Review, " a 
detailed refutation of the errors of" Dr. Beecher's Views in 
Theology. It also contained the above-mentioned letter, to- 
gether with portions of one of Dr. Beecher's private letters 
to the editor of the Christian Spectator in regard to New 
Measures, written just before the truce signed with Mr. 
Finney's friends at Philadelphia, as already mentioned. 

In that transaction Dr. Beecher was declared to have 
manifested an "utter incompetency for the station of leader 
and guide." He was " either outwitted by his crafty antag- 
onists, and made to believe that the general interests of re- 
ligion w^ould be promoted by tying his own hands and seal- 
ing his own lips, or he betrayed the cause which he had 
professed to defend through cowardice or something worse, 
and without assigning a reason." 

Dr. Beecher's reply to Dr. Porter was persistently ig- 
nored, and the evidence, furnished in abundance, of Dr. Por- 
ter's entire satisfaction, was suppressed. Diligent efforts 
were made in various ways to array against Dr. Beecher 
the names of his dearest departed friends, such as Evarts, 
Cornelius, and others, as having sympathized in the suspi- 
cions of Dr. Porter. 

A series of letters was addressed by Dr. Tyler to Dr. 
Witherspoon, of South Carolina, and published by him anon- 
ymously in the Southern Christian Herald, from which they 
were copied into all the Old School papers in the country 
and in the Hartford Watchman. They profess to give an 
impartial account of the New Haven controversy. They 
were indorsed by Dr. Woods as " written ably and justly." 
The impression they were adapted to produce, however, on 
the minds of readers at a distance of five hundred or a thou- 
^Qpd miles was, that Dr. Taylor and his friends were Armin- 
ji^lpj Pelagians, and Unitarians. 

PERILS. 399 

" I have just received," writes Dr. Beeclier, " the tenth 
letter of the anonymous history of the origin and progress 
of Arminianism in New England, from near East Windsor, 
as I suppose, via South Carolina. The letter can hardly 
have been delayed by bad roads and negligent jDOstmasters 
so as to fall in by accident just at the climax of the concen- 
trated assault on me, to have its influence on the Conven- 
tion and Assembly. It is Avritten, apparently, in answer to 
Dr. Hoge's request for the publication of more confidential 
letters and ex parte anonymous testimony to do good with, 
and to give information what has been Dr. Beecher's course 
in relation to the recent controversies in New England. 
The letter seems to be a regular manifesto attendant upon 
the open declaration of war against me which for years had 
been carried on secretly. 

" It affirms that my published Views in Theology certain- 
ly do not agree with New Haven theology. That I have 
spoken freely to those opposed to Dr. Taylor in terms of 
strong disapprobation of Dr. Taylor's writings, and yet that 
I am responsible for the spread of Dr. Taylor's opinions 
more than any other man ; have not sympathized with those 
who were distressed about them; have frowned on every 
expression of alarm; have said they must prevail every 
where ; that Old Calvinism must go down, etc., etc. 

" This is anonymous evidence volunteered by persons of 
another communion to affect, contrary to the recognized 
laws of Church discipline,, an individual, and, through him, 
half the Church. The obvious design is to produce on me, 
and on all associated interests, the effect of a trial with- 
out A TiiiAL, and by such evidence as would not for a mo- 
ment be tolerated in an ecclesiastical court. The justifica- 
tion of this course by influential men on the plea of neces- 
sity — the plea of despotism — is to tear up foundations and 


let in the tide of anarchy and revolution. The end sancti- 
fies the means. The consequence is, that laws disa^jpear be- 
fore lawless combinations. 

" The publication of a history made up of confidential con- 
versations of friends, to bear on subsequent party conten- 
tions, is a violation of the sanctities of friendship, compelling 
a man always to treat his friends as possible future enemies, 
or risk the assassination of character by their volunteer tes- 
timony. It is, in efiect, a system of desolating falsehood un- 
der the guise and semblance of truth. Ex, parte memoriter 
statements of insulated words which, interpreted by accom- 
panying look, tone, and gesture, may be harmless, but, strij^- 
ped of these, are treason and heresy, is false witness. One 
wholesale manufactory of published private letters and pri- 
vate conversations for the nation is enough to blast inno- 
cence in the minds of thousands, and is as perilous to char- 
acter as brigands are to life and property. 

" It is the testimony of parties interested in sustaining an 
institution in rivalry with New Haven, brought into being 
in opposition to the advice of Andover professors and oth- 
ers, their annual income depending on sustaining the panic 
which gave it birth. My reputation for orthodoxy, freshly 
vindicated by Presbyterian courts and uncommitted against 
New Haven, might be too powerful a neutralizer of fear to 
be permitted to stand in unbroken power. 

" To this I am pained to be obliged to add the indication 
of such a state of feeling in some who manage affairs as 
must abate the force of their testimony. I allude to those 
who published Dr. Humphreys's letter, expressing his views 
of New Haven, contrary to his expectation and without his 
consent ; who pubHshed Professor Stowe's most confidential 
letter to Dr. Tyler, his father-in-law, without the permission 
of either, and to the regret of the latter, who is yet, I be- 

PERILS. 401 

lieve, an honorable man ; to those who counseled and pro- 
cured the publication of Dr. Porter's letter, and attempted 
to defend it as done with his permission, and refused to 
publish the testimony to the contrary ; and, above all, the 
publication, in this tenth letter to Dr. Witherspoon, of ex- 
tracts from a private friendly letter to Dr. Tyler, taking out 
of their connection such expressions as go against me, while 
in their connection they convey no such implication. 

" I do not accuse these brethren of intentional violation 
of truth ; but history has abundantly shown that the high, 
continuous fanaticism of party spirit can not absorb the 
feeling and engross the attention on one theme day and 
night for years, and not destroy the finer sensibilities of the 
soul to the claims of propriety and honor, and render the 
memory unfaithful, and the moral sense obtuse in its dis- 
criminations between right and wrong. 

" The testimony itself can not bear the ordeal of a careful 
analysis. Either the facts are not as stated, or they are col- 
ored by the omission of explanatory circumstances. This is 
painful, because the chief materials of the principal accuser 
are such as his position as a very confidential friend and fre- 
quent inmate in my family for years gave him access to, and 
which now he has volunteered to throw over into the Pres- 
byterian Church; and the pungency of my sorrow is in- 
creased by the recollection that twice, when his character 
was assailed, I hastened to his defense, and received thickly 
in my own bosom the shafts which were aimed at him. 

" When Mr. Evarts expressed to me his fears that I was 
not preaching as I used to do, though not on account of 
any thing he had heard himself, but through impressions re- 
ceived from sources which I well understood, I wrote the 
sermon on Dependence and Free Agency, in fulfillment of 
what is called my promise to Dr. Porter, and also for the 


satisfaction of my friends who for many of the last months 
of the controversy in Boston sat under my ministry. 

" The morning after hearing it, Evarts met me with a 
smile, and said, ' That will do ; that is the genuine old-fash- 
ioned New England divinity ;' and though he heard me ev- 
ery Sabbath for months, and I saw him in the most familiar 
and open-hearted communion daily till he left, never to re- 
turn, he never breathed a whisper of disapproval of my doc- 
trines, and our friendship was never more perfect than dur- 
ing this period." 

In conversation on this subject, looking back from the 
close of life upon the whole campaign. Dr. Beecher exclaim- 
ed, with profound emotion, " They took burning arrows 
dipped in gall, and shot them over into the Presbyterian 
camp. They rifled the graves of my dead friends, out of 
their ashes to evoke spectral accusations against me." 
Those "burning arrows" were caught uj) by the Princeton 
Review — the most powerful organ in the land — and hurled, 
with deadly aim and increased momentum, at their mark.* 

His Views in Theology were reviewed in the remorseless 
style of partisan criticism, and the resources of rhetoric ex- 
hausted in sustaining the charge of contradiction between 
his earlier and later writings. The animus of the reviewer 
is manifest in every line. His purpose is to make an end 
of Dr. Beecher once and forever. 

" There are statements in these writings," he says, " which 
no ingenuity of explanation can reconcile — discrepancies 
which no sophistry can bridge over. * * * 

" Here he teaches that infants are guilty before they rise 
to personal accountability, and deserving God's wrath and 
curse ; in his letter he tells us that there is no depravity or 
guilt but that which arises from the transgression of the law 

* Repertory for April and July, 1837, art. Beecher's Views in Theology. 

PERILS. 403 

under such circumstances as constitute accountability and 
desert of punishment. 

"Here is contradiction palpable and broad. The two 
views presented by Dr. Beecher in his earlier and his later 
publications belong to two entirely different — two opposite 
systems. They have no common points of resemblance, 
and the same man can no more hold the two simultaneous- 
ly than he can believe both in the Ptolemaic and the Coper- 
nican systems of the universe." 

Happily for Dr. Beecher, the reviewer was entirely de- 
ceived, and his assertion destitute of the least foundation in 
truth. The two propositions which he declares to be con- 
tradictory are not contradictory; the two systems which 
he denies to have aught in common are the twin hemi- 
spheres of rounded and completed divinity. The impossi- 
bility of both being held simultaneously by the same mind 
is purely imaginary, the hallucination of his own unsuspect- 
ed but habitual one-sidedness. 

Thus absurd to minds dwarfed by narrow, partisan con- 
templations must needs appear that truly catholic compre- 
hensiveness which can accept apparently conflicting truths, 
each on its own independent evidence, and patiently wait 
for the reconciliation. 

With no misgivings, however, confident of having anni- 
hilated his victim, the reviewer moves on, his face alternate- 
ly wreathed with smiles and bedewed with tears. "We 
have heard it said," he remarks, " that after the publication 
of his Views in Theology, Dr. Beecher, as if doubtful of his 
own identity, sought to assure himself by going on to New 
Haven and ascertaining whether Dr. Taylor would recog- 
nize him. It is added that the result of the experiment was 
entirely satisfactory. But this story must be apocryphal. 
We can readily conceive that Dr. Beecher might feel him- 


self in the predicament of Amj^hitryon when he exclaim- 

" ' Num formam perdidi ? Mirum qiiin me norit Sosia 

Scrutabor: eho die mihi, quis viieor ? Nnm satis Amphitruo?' 

But the incredible part of the story is that Sosia recognized 

A page or two farther he weeps : " "We regret most sin- 
cerely and deeply the result of our examination into Dr. 
Beecher's opinions." 

Still farther on he smiles again : "A German author has 
recently obtained two prizes, one for an essay in defense of 
the medical theory of homoeopathy, the other for an essay 
against the same theory. This exploit, however, is by no 
means equal to that which Dr. Beecher aims to accomplish. 
The German did not aspire to obtain a favorable verdict 
upon both his essays from the same body of men." The re- 
viewer ought to have enhanced the superiority of Dr. Beech- 
er by stating that he actually succeeded in his aspiring aim, 
the General Assembly, including the Princeton professors, 
having unanimously awarded him full permission to believe 
in the alleged contradictory propositions. 

The tendency of these and kindred measures to precipi- 
tate the catastrophe of the Presbyterian Church is manifest. 
No man, after the event, could be more fully aware than Dr. 
Tyler was beforehand that " the New Haven speculations 
are the real cause of the convulsions in the Presbyterian 
Church." It is not our object, however, to trace those re- 
sults any farther than necessarily connected with the for- 
tunes of Lane Seminary and its j^resident. 

In themselves considered, it seems incredible that such 
charges could seriously affect the character of a man so long 
successfully engaged in revival labors, and the instrument 
of leading so many lost sinners to Christ. But the power 

PERILS. 405 

of a theological panic surpasses calculation. When once 
the storm bursts in full violence across the ocean, the fair- 
est reputations, the stanchest characters go down in a mo- 

When Dr. Wilson brought the charge of hypocrisy against 
Dr. Beecher, every body smiled at it as the mere extrava- 
gance of partisan prejudice ; but when the charge was taken 
up by New England men. Dr. Beecher's own former associ- 
ates, and in some instances his intimate friends and associ- 
ates, and systematically blazed abroad with ostentatious dis- 
play of circumstantial evidence, it is not strange that the 
minds of some excellent persons should be distressed, and 
that letters should be received making serious inquiries in 
respect to these things. 

To some of these letters his children claimed the privilege 
of replying. An extract from one of their epistles may suf- 
fice to indicate the aspect of the onset from their point of 
vision : 

" I need not say that I feel deeply the baseness and ma- 
lignity of an attack upon my father's honesty and Christian 
character, because his opponents find it impossible to refute 
or answer his published statements ; or that I regard it as 
deeply humiliating for a man like him, so long engaged with 
great simplicity of purpose in the great work of saving souls, 
and so often honored by God by signal aid in the work, to 
be called on to prove his own honesty, or for his son to at- 
tempt to do the same. 

" Were I writing to any but a friend I would not do it ; 
for of what use are declarations of truth in reply to assaults 
on veracity ? But, assuming what I have no doubt is true, 
that your confidence in my father remains unshaken, and 
that you will believe concerning me, at least until you have 
proof to the contrary, that I abhor a lie as I do the devil its 


father, though I am ready both to pity and forgive the liav, 
I will proceed to say, 

" That, to my certain knowledge, the theological opinions 
of my father for at least the last twenty years have, in all 
the great fundamentals of truth, remained identical and un- 
changed. I have no doubt that the same is true of the 
whole course of his ministry, but I speak particularly of the 
last twenty years, because during that time I have thought 
intelligently and w4th deep interest on the subject, and have 
had every possible opportmiity of knowing his views. I 
have heard him preach, studied with, him, been with him in 
revivals, corresponded with him, argued with him on every 
point, and known the inmost recesses of his soul, and I need 
not say that I know him to be incapable of deceit, and that 
his published writings are a fair exposition of his most ma- 
ture and deliberate convictions, and accord with his constant 
strain of preaching at all times, and with his most private 
thoughts. The controversy that now rages began when I 
was in college, and from the outset I have studied it and 
the course of all engaged in it with the deepest interest, and 
as it regards some I must say that the measures they have 
adopted have filled me with the most unmingled sur2:»rise 
and abhorrence. I have no disposition to speak in anger ; 
but there are emotions of holy abhorrence at what is pol- 
luted and vile that are essential to the maintenance of the 
moral purity and soundness of our own minds, and to the 
enjoyment of communion with Him who hateth iniquity in 
all its forms. 

" And though I freely forgive and pray for the authors 
of the wrong, yet I must say that, for a combination of mean- 
ness, and guilt, and demoralizing power in equal degrees of 
intensity, I have never known any thing to exceed the con- 
spiracy in New England and in the Presbyterian Church to 

PERILS. 407 

crush, by open falsehood and secret whisperings, my father 
and others whom they have in vain tried to silence by argu- 
ment or to condemn in the courts of the Church. 

" But I doubt not that a day of reckoning will come, and 
God himself will vindicate all who trust in him. Therefore 
let us not be disquieted, or return evil for evil, but commit 
our cause to Him who judgeth righteously, and all will be 

If such were the effects on minds friendly to Dr. Beecher — 
if the question of his honesty was forced upon those desirous 
to view every thing in the most favorable light until they 
were compelled to write and ask relief, what must have been 
the effect on minds predisposed in precisely the opposite 
direction, and how formidable the blow thus aimed at the 
prosperity of the seminary and the usefulness of its presi- 
dent ! If there had been no other cause, this alone was 
enough to stagger the just commencing enterprise. But 
there were other causes. The anti-slavery excitement, re- 
sulting in the loss of a large class and the alienation of Abo- 
litionists throughout the country, had weakened the institu- 
tion. The failure of Mr. Taj^pan in 1837, and the loss of 
the endowment of the theological professorship weakened it 
still more. Added to these, this onset on personal charac- 
ter shed blasting and mildew on every prospect. All these 
causes together proved well-nigh fatal. 

The classes from 1836 to. 1840 averaged only five. The 
professors were discouraged. The only man who did not 
for an instant lose hope, and admit the conviction that the 
enterprise must be abandoned, was Dr. Beecher himself. 

" He worked," says Professor Stowe, " during all these 
difficulties like a Hercules, and never lost courage or hope. 
Disappointment followed disappointment, and obstacle was 
heaped on obstacle. Ossa was piled on Pelion, and then 


Olympus on Ossa ; friends fell off and foes multiplied ; en- 
dowments diminished and salaries ceased ; prejudices were 
inflamed and students were kept away. Still he was hope- 
ful and jovial, always good-natured, and never irritated. If 
students would not offer,themselves, he would go after them 
even to the highways and hedges, and compel them to come 
in ; if the regular income failed, he would beg ; if he could 
not clamber over an obstacle, he would go round it or dig 
through it ; if he was disappointed in one thing, he would 
hope for another that would be surely better when he got 
it. Nothing ever really hurt him but the supposed treach- 
ery of trusted friends ; this would go to his heart and make 
him sigh. 

" In every tight place he would say, ' Come, let us get by 
this jDinch, and then we'll have plain sailing.' I never be- 
lieved him, and sometimes expressed my dissent in terms 
rather emphatic than befitting. I was so often right in my 
apprehensions that after a few years he changed his mode 
of address to me, and would say, ' Come, Stowe, let us get 
by this pinch, and then we'll get ready for the next,' but al- 
ways with the same good-humored hojDefulness." 

" There was one time," said Dr. Beecher — " (it was the 
year of the dry time : they waded across the Ohio River) — 
there were no students offering for our next class. Stowe 
was discouraged ; Dickinson had a call at Auburn ; Biggs 
had a chance at Woodward College. I went up to Marietta 
College, born after us, and saw the faculty and students. 
There I secured four or five. Had an invitation to lecture 
at Jacksonville. Went down to Louisville on my way, and 
spent a Sabbath. Got one student there. He w^as a mem- 
ber of my Church in Boston ; he was in business. I told 
him to study, and he did. Then I went to Jacksonville, and 
there I found six. One of them was expecting to be a teach- 

PEEILS. 409 

er. I got hold of him — excited his interest. I told him, 
* Come on, and bring these young men, and I'll support ye ;' 
and I saw it done. 

" Well, when I got back to the seminary I found Stowe 
sick abed, and all discouraged. Said 'twas all over — of no 
use — might just as well leave, and go back East first as last. 
'Stowe,' said I, 'I've brought ye twelve students. You've 
got no faith, and I've got nothing but faith. Get up and 
wash, and eat bread, and prepare to have a good class.' 
The consequence was a class of thirteen, and the next year 

Having thus exhibited at one glance the main features of 
this crisis in his life, we shall return upon our track to intro- 
duce the correspondence of the period, with some additional 
details of his personal history. 

Vol. II.— S 




During the summer of 1836 Dr. Beecher married Mrs. 
Lydia Jackson, of Boston, a widow with several daughters, 
two of whom were married, and one son, nearly of the same 
age with the doctor's youngest son, James. In the support 
of her family, as well as in the various benevolent move- 
ments in which the ladies of the orthodox churches of Bos- 
ton were organized, Mrs. Jackson had shown that energy 
and executive talent which fitted her for the wider sphere 
of active usefulness into which she was introduced at the 

Her two younger children, Joseph and Margaret, accom- 
panied her, and formed thenceforward a part of the house- 
hold, somewhat reduced by the departure of the older chil- 
dren to various fields of labor. In the care of the family, 
in visiting among the families of the congregation, and in 
promoting good enterjDrises, she displayed untiring zeal, sup- 
plying in part the lack of pastoral labors necessarily incident 
to Dr. Beecher's jDosition as head of the seminary, proving, 
in these respects, an invaluable auxiliary. 

Between the widely-scattered children and their home a 
constant intercourse was maintained by means of corre- 
spondence ; and, to insure a greater regularity, a system of 
" circulars" was devised. A large folio sheet was taken at 
the eastern end of the line and sent to the next westward, 
each one adding something, till the full sheet reached the 
western extreme, and was returned to its starting-point, 



and vice versa. We have before us one of these interest- 
ing letters missive, with the following jDostmarks and direc- 
tions upon it : I^ew Orleans, La. ; Jacksonville, 111. ; Walnut 
Hills, Ohio; Indianapolis, Ind.; Chilicothe, Ohio; Zanes- 
ville, Ohio ; Batavia, IsT. Y. ; Hartford, Ct. One direction. 
Rev. Mr. Beecher, served for all except the two extremes. 
Merely as a specimen of the method, we insert a paragraph 
or two from each locality. 

" Brother George's perfectionism is a curious matter, and 
lies in a nut-shell. That a Christian can be perfect is evi- 
dent, else God commands impossibilities. Whether they 
ever are or not, who can decide ? Does a man think him- 
self perfect ? Amen. I hope he is not mistaken. So long- 
as he behaves well, let him pass for immaculate. If he does 
not behave properly, he deceives himself. If you ask, 'Have 
I attained?' I say. Ask God. The more you try to decide, 
and the nearer you come to an affirmative, the more proba- 
ble is it you are deceived. The heart is deceitful : who can 
know it ?" 

Mrs. Edicard Beecher. 
" We received this yesterday, and I hasten to add my say 
and pass it along. I suppose that we are to pour our sor- 
rows as well as our joys into each other's bosoms through 
the medium of these circulars, for we should sympathize 
with each other in affliction as well as in blessings. Our lit- 
tle daughter (you know she is the only daughter that we 
have ever had, and therefore very dear to us) we have had 
much anxiety about, because she was a crying child ; but 
she had improved so much in this respect, and appeared gen- 
erally so well, that we had dismissed most of our fears till 


a few weeks ago, when she was a little over seven months. 
I was dressing her in the morning, when I perceived all at 
once that she was in a convulsion fit. The pang that shot 
through my heart I can not describe to yon. No one can 
understand it who has not watched for days, and weeks, 
and months, day and night, the writhings, distortions, and 
agonies of a beloved object, hoping all the time that death 
would terminate its suflerings, and fearing that something 
worse than death would be the result ; and then, by degrees, 
to have every hope extinguished, and that being, which 
promised so fair to be a comfort and a blessing, prove a 
constant source of trouble, care, and perplexity. We have 
lost, or more than lost, three of our six children, and what 
the Lord means to do with this fourth we know not." 

Henry Ward. 

" There are some signs of better things among my peo- 
ple; more feeling in Church and congregation, and more 
solemn meetings, and some cases of incipient anxiety — just 
that state of things that encourages, yet makes me feel most 

" I wish, George, you could be here a while and help me. 
I would, if you were here, have continuous preaching, and 
believe immense good could be done. I thought it possi- 
ble you might be able to come. Besides, we have grown 
almost strangers to each other since you groped off to 
Rochester, and I would fain have some of our long talks 
again. As to perfectionism, I am not greatly troubled with 
the fact of it in myself, or the doctrine of it in you ; for I 
feel sure that if you give yourself time and prayer you will 
settle down right, whatever the right may be ; and I re- 
joice, on this account, that your judgment has led you to for- 
bear publishing, because, after we have published^ if we do 


not hit exactly right, there is a vehement temptation not to 
advance, but rather to nurse and defend our published views. 
The treatises which have had influence in this world from 
generation to generation are those which have been ma- 
tured, re-thought, re-cast, delayed. Apples that ripen early 
are apt to be worm-eaten, and decay early, at any rate ; late 
fruit always keeps best. * * * I have seen men by an 
injudicious effort run so high up aground that there never 
was a tide high enough to float them again. They dried, 
shrunk, and rattled. May God never let you run ashore un- 
til it is upon the shores of that land of peace where perplex- 
ities shall cease their tormenting flight, and all be joy !" 

Mrs. jStoioe. 
" Well, George, it seems to be the fashion of the day to 
address you firstly and prime ; and I, setting apart meta- 
physics, will enter only that interesting department of phys- 
ics which your gift of flower-seeds brings to mind. Many 

thanks for them, hoping that you and S will be here to 

see them in all their glory. I have a fine place laid out for 
them, and shall proceed with them secimdum artem. What 
is your experience about dahlias ? for I was never more puz- 
zled in my life than with the contradictory directions I hear 
about soil, etc. Some say the richest you can find — can't 
be too rich; and the other day a celebrated gardener of 
New York advocated dry gravel. What do you think ? If 
you don't write pretty soon it will be too late. I have soine 
roots which might be handsome if they only would be ; but 
last year they brought forth little besides stalks and buds, 
and some of them run out into single flowers." 

"Where is the eastern circular that started from Hart- 


ford, or ought to have started, two months since ? I shall 
recommend that any one that delays a circular over a week 
shall lose the reading of the return one, as a penalty to make 
them remember. I shall flit about here this summer till I 
find where it is best to settle next. Love to you all." 

Dr. Beecher. 

" William, why do you not write to your father ? Are 
you not my first-born son ? Did I not carry you over bogs 
a-fishing, a-straddle of my neck, on my shoulders, and, be- 
sides clothing and feeding, whip you often to make a man 
of you as you are, and would not have been without? and 
have I not always loved you, and borne you on my heart, 
as the claims and trials of a first-born demand? Don't you 
remember studying theology with your father while sawing 
and splitting wood in that wood-house in Green Street, Bos- 
ton, near by where you found your wife ? 

"Little do those know who have rented that tenement 
since how much orthodoxy was developed and imbodied 
there ; and now why should all this fruit of my labors be 
kept to yourself? Nothing would give me more pleasure, 
so long have your interests and mine been identified, than 
to hear often what and how you are, and how things go 
on all around you. Our prospects at the seminary are good. 
I am obliged to work too hard ; still, my health is good, and 
we shall certainly get along now, as I fully believe. Let me 
hear from you soon — a letter to me in particular, which shall 
soon be repaid in kind." 

Professor Stowe. 
"Dear brother George, — As to perfectionism, Broth- 
er Charles ' 'spresses my mind 'xactly,' and I trust you will 
duly appreciate the patriarchal, paternal, grandfatherly, and 


most judicious counsel of Brother Henry. Brother Charles's 
advice as to faith^ and Brother Henry's as to worJcs, on this 
perfection matter, are just the thing, according to the best 
judgment of your dutiful brother." 


" I am quite amused with the sympathy of all my broth- 
ers, and their fatherly advice touching perfectionism, as if 
I were on the verge of a great precipice ; but I trust in Him 
that is able to kee^^ me from falling." 

" We received the circular, and forward it to-day. The 
Lord has been with us, and there is now a great amount of 
labor to be done, and great difficulties yet to be overcome. 
We expect to build a vestry and repair to the amount of 

Perhaps these extracts may fail to interest a general read- 
er ; and, it must be confessed, they convey a very inadequate 
conception of the variety of subjects, interests, emotions, 
shades of thought, and flashes of wit and humor which 
make these circulars a kind of moral kaleidoscope — ever 
changing, ever beautiful. By them, many families, wide 
asunder in locality, of independent and often antagonistic 
views, were bound together, year after year, iu a more than 
patriarchal unity. 




Maech 3, 1837, Dr. Taylor writes to Dr. Beecher : 
u * * * J have been glad to see your reply to Dr. 
Porter's letter. It will fully answer its purpose in respect 
to all except the willful and perverse. The Watchman* is 
determined to put you in the wrong; misrepresents the mat- 
ter grievously ; pretends to believe, and to be able to prove 
that Dr. Porter never expressed himself satisfied in regard 
to your soundness in the faith. I suppose you see that 
paper. The controversy is no longer one of truth and evi- 
dence, but an attempt to put down by odium, and by au- 
thority which is no authority. 

" What if Dr. Porter was alarmed ; so do many living 
doctors profess to be ; and why is the opinion or forebod- 
ings of a dead doctor of so much infallibihty ? * * * 


****** And then, what was the 
ground of his alarm, according to his own showing ? Why, 
if all he says in his letter be true, it is the merest nothing ; 
it is rather a criticism on your supposed mode of preaching, 
as that by which certain impressions, as he thought, would 
be made, 'm direct contraveiition of your own meaning P 
Now away with Dr. Beecher ! Burn him ! at least, let ev- 
ery theological dog in the land bark at him, for the Profess- 
* Of Hartford, Conn., edited by Dr. Harvey. 


or of Rhetoric has found a blemish in Dr. Beecher's preach- 
ing ! I do think such ridiculous attempts at the odium the- 
ologicmn should be exposed. 

" The fact, however, is, that all that is now doing by these 
men is helj)ing onward the cause of truth with more effi- 
cient influence than any we could use in the way of argu- 
ment. All discerning men and women see what the matter 
is. Who does not know who is wrong when abuse and re- 
proach are the only weapons of assault ? I am as patient 
under it all as the love of truth and of its progress can be 
well supposed to make me. Theirs is the trouble and the 
expense of this work, and no doubt they belong to them. 
We here have, I think, only to go on, without contending in 
this unholy warfare of personal abuse, imparting light and 
truth to the people from the pulpit, and other forms of up- 
right and clear argumentation. God blesses us at every 
step. Revivals are now all around us in this county. In 
Kew Haven the work is now powerful. It began in the 
Free Church, where I have been preaching since Novem- 
ber. It has extended to other churches, and is most auspi- 
ciously beginning in the college. In its form and type just 
such a revival as I love and desire. In the city, I suppose, 
eighty or one hundred conversions, with crowded meetings 
of inquirers ; in college, twelve or fifteen conversions with- 
in a few days, and several inquiring. I expect to begin to 
preach in the college on Saturday evening. 

"And now what I long to see in the Presbyterian Church 
is a thorough separation of Old School and New School, 
brought about in the right way. I am fully convinced that 
the errors of Old School are calamitous, and too much so to 
seem to be countenanced by New School in that manner 
and degree in which they have been by union. The Old 
School men will never rest ; and the question is. How much 



time and strength shall be exiDended in conflict ? God 
means to efiect a division ultimately — on the ground of es- 
sentials I do not say, but on the ground of expediency ; 
and if I were king, I should say to the next General Assem- 
bly, Divide — not on the ground of heresy, and with mutual 
hate and denunciation, but divide for peace's sake, with mu- 
tual toleration, as sects difiering so much, and with such 
conscience of the speculative importance of the differences 
that the cause of God will be better promoted. To the 
New School I should say, show your magnanimity by giv- 
ing up Princeton Seminary and all Old School funds to the 
Old School party, and begin anew for yourselves. In five 
years and less you will have more funds, more seminaries, 
more power for God and his cause than the whole Presby- 
terian Church now possesses, and have it unclogged and un- 
encumbered by that incubus w^hich has so long made her 
strength weakness. I wish you could think as I do on this 

May 25, Professor Dickinson writes from the General As- 
sembly : " The Old School has a majority of about fifteen or 
twenty ; but we are embarrassing them amazingly in their 
action on the Memorial. You can hardly conceive of the 
headlong spirit that reigns among them, and of the intense 
interest and sometimes excitement in the house. They have 
obtained one vote, which is, to abrogate the plan of union 
with the Congregational churches adopted in 1801. This 
division, however, can not affect the representation in the 
next General Assembly. Such as are Presbyterian will, of 
course, continue to be so. They next took up the doctrinal 
errors, as reported in the paper I send you. One of our men 
moved an amendment, adding to the list four others; the first 
of which is, ' That man has no ability of any kind to obey 
God or do his duty.' The others are closely allied to this. 

COREESPONDENCE, 183 7-8. 419 

" It has troubled them amazingly for one whole day, and 
we have done nothing but talk on a motion indefinitely to 
postpone the amendment. Last night we adjourned on this 
motion. To meet the emergency, and get rid of discussion 
on the amendment, they brought in this morning a resolu- 
tion to amend the rule relating to the previous question — 
which, as it stood, admitted of one speech — so as to cut off 
all debate when a majority call for the previous question. 
We have been all the forenoon debating that. They have 
carried the alteration, so that hereafter we are to have ' gag- 
law' in abundance. 

"Next followed a motion and vote to let the doctrinal 
report, with the amendment, lie on the table, to take up 
another high-handed measure that will make the public 
stare. They seem really afraid to meet the doctrinal discus- 
sion. But the meastlre — to cite such Synods and Presby- 
teries ! as are suspected of heresy, and appoint a committee 
to report what bodies they are ; also to decide that the min- 
isters and elders of all such Synods and Presbyteries as may 
be cited shall be excluded from a seat in the next General 
Assembly ! We are now just starting with this monstrous 
proposal. We have good men on our side. We are united 
and firm, and determined to contest the ground inch by inch ; 
but they will probably carry about all their plans except the 
favorite one relating to the Home Missionary and American 
Education Societies, which I think the committee on the 
Memorial are afraid to report to the house, and will not do. 

" We think we shall have, before we get through, abun- 
dant materials for protests, and, if I am not mistaken, we 
shall speak out in a manner to be heard and felt through 
the Church, and rouse a spirit that will bring up to the next 
Assembly a phalanx of the friends of liberty, and good Pres- 
byterian order. 


July, 1837, Doctor Beeclier entered the following memo- 
randum in one of his commonplace books : 

" I have this morning received a letter from New York, 
informing me that my draft on Mr. Tappan has been dishon- 
ored, on account of his suspension of payments. 

" Thus has the ground of my support failed, and the con- 
siderations which brought on me a sense of duty to leave 
Boston and my people have, in a degree, failed also. But 
my confidence that it was the will of God that I should 
come, so signified in his providence as to make it my duty, 
has not failed ; and my confidence that the end of my com- 
ing would be the establishment of Lane Seminary has not 
failed ; and my confidence that God was well pleased with 
my coming, approved of my motives, and will sustain me as 
through my life of dependence on him he has done, has not 
failed. And though one half of a needed income has sud- 
denly stopped, and I know not precisely in what manner 
my wants are to be supplied, I desire to praise Him who has 
clothed and fed me and mine to this day that I do not dis- 
trust him, and am not anxious, but cheerful and happy in 
my confidence in Him whose I am and w^hom I serve. I 
shall reduce my family expenses to the lowest practicable 
amount, and, taking counsel of God, and my friends and 
family, take such measures as may seem advisable." 

In a tremulous hand, under date of December 4, 1852, the 
following lines are added: "This morning I fell accidental- 
ly upon the above record in my waste day-book. The fol- 
lowing narrative records the result. My first movement 
was to request by letter from George, my son, and Sarah, 
his wife, for my immediate necessity, $200, w^hich they im- 
mediately advanced. My people, then, of the Second Church, 
added, unasked, |200 to my salary annually, and the rest 
was raised among my friends in Cincinnati, in contributions 

COERESPONDENCE, 1837-8. 421 

to Lane Seminary for my special supi^ort. When at the 
East I made solicitations myself for funds for this object 
with success. For several years Mr. Tappan's payments 
were resumed, but soon stopped permanently. 

"I then was sustained by contributions in Cincinnati, 
Boston, and New York, as before, nintil the organization of 
the Society for Western Colleges was established, and then 
by that, until the funds of the institution superseded the ne- 
cessity. I felt no delicacy in making the above-mentioned 
solicitations, having secured the primary endowments by 
my acceptance of the presidency, and having, by personal 
labors as an agent with Mr. Vail, erected the buildings, 
founded the library, and endowed two professorships ; yet 
such was the condition of the seminary, that the failure of 
my support would have disheartened the trustees, disband- 
ed the faculty, and for a long time paralyzed, if not finally 
suspended the institution." 




The Presbyterian Church in the United States at the 
time of which we are now writing presents to the mind a 
truly imposing subject of contemplation. Its form of gov- 
ernment is that which was fashioned by the Westminster 
Assembly (A.D. 1643-9) to replace the Episcopal hierarchy, 
which- had just been swept away. Parliament, which had 
abolished that form of Church government, desired to set 
up another. The Assembly was convened for the purpose. 

The Independents, by the genius of their system, could 
furnish nothing of the kind desired by Parliament. They 
were only in the way of the Presbyterians, who had no such 
scruples, and wanted nothing better than to set up a frame- 
w^ork less gorgeous and expensive, though no less powerful 
than that which had vanished, they thought, forever. 

To this great work of ecclesiastical architecture, during 
their five years' session, their chief energies were directed. 
The Confession of Faith was a secondary consideration, the 
marked antagonisms of subsequent schools being as yet la- 
tent and undeveloped. It was on questions of hierarchal law 
and the machinery of Church courts that the antagonism 
between Presbyterian, Independent, and Erastian came out. 
Half a dozen Independents held the whole Assembly at bay, 
hampered all its movements, and proved ultimately, as Heth- 
erington complains, " the main cause wh}^ it failed to accom- 
plish all the good which had been expected from its import- 
ant deliberations," i. e., the nationalization of Presbytery. 


But, though a handful of Congregationalists prevented the 
nationalization of the Presbyterian system, it did not pre- 
vent its subsequent voluntary adoption over the broad plains 
of America, and the erection there of a more imposing struc- 
ture than ever could have been realized in Great Britain by 
act of Parliament. 

According to the radical principle of the system that "the 
several different congregations of believers, taken collective- 
ly, constitute one Church of Christ, called emphatically the 
Church — that a larger part of the Church should govern a 
smaller, and that appeals may be carried from lower to high- 
er judicatories, till finally decided by the collective wisdom 
and united voice of the whole Chuech," the General As- 
sembly was one of the most impressive as well as powerful 
bodies in the world. On its floor were some of the ablest, 
wisest, most enterprising, and influential men from almost 
every state in the Union. 

In its relation to educational, charitable, and missionary 
enterprises, in the appellate jurisdiction of hundreds of local 
churches, it swayed a jDower rivaling, if not really surpass- 
ing, that of Congress, and affecting not merely the religious, 
but the civil interests of the nation ; opening an arena on 
which discussions of the most momentous questions were 
debated by practiced speakers, animated by the highest mo- 
tives, temporal and spiritual, that can lend fire to oratory 
or enthusiasm to controversy. 

In the eyes of multitudes of Christians, its symmetrical 
structure from Session to Presbytery, Presbytery to Synod, 
Synod to General Assembly, was the ideal of representative 
government, perfect in every detail, free from the defects of 
civil organizations, scriptural, spiritual, a kingdom of Clirist, 
"clear as the sun, fair as the moon, and terrible as an army 
with banners." 


What power should suffice, then, to shatter the mighty 
edifice from turret to foundation, oj^ening in the midst a 
chasm as by earthquake? Could a handful of Congrega- 
tionalists wield that power, greater beyond comparison than 
that of their prototypes in the parent Assembly? Could 
a half dozen plain New Englanders with a puff of their 
lips wreck the stanch vessel as if smitten by a sudden tor- 

So it seems, if Dr. Tyler is admitted to be qualified to 
judge. "The N"ew Haven speculations are the real cause 
of the convulsions in the Presbyterian Church." Undoubt- 
edly Dr. Tyler is right in part. The full development of 
those grand principles which eternally underlie God's moral 
government, and are the natural antagonists of absolutism 
in every form (a development unbalanced, to some extent, 
and not sufficiently conservative of the grand truth of na- 
tive ill-desert), was probably the most effective cause of the 
disruption. The statement of errors by the Philadelphia 
Convention, on which the abrogation of the plan of union 
and exscinding acts of 1837 were predicated, reads as much 
like an indictment of New Haven as if it had been drawn up 
at East Windsor. 

Mr. Crocker, speaking of the letters of Tyler to Wither- 
spoon, says : " For whatever purpose they were written, 
there can be no doubt that they exerted a considerable in- 
fluence in causing the violent proceedings of the Assembly 
which immediately followed their publication. They assist- 
ed the members of the Philadelphia Convention to make out 
so accurate a list of errors as to need, perhaps, no correction 
from their friends in New England. They emboldened the 
Assembly to adopt measures which could never have been 
carried but for their belief in the existence of wide-spread 
and prevailing heresy in the Congregational churches." 


The abrogation of the plan of union was shutting the gate 
against streams of New Haven influence in future. The ex- 
cision of four Synods was a summary ejection of the mass 
of churches formed under that influence in the past.* 

But there was another cause of the great catastrophe — 
we refer to the slavery question, which yet is not another. 
The first number of the Liberator was issued January, 1831, 
a few months after Dr. Beecher received his call to Lane 
Seminary. Confessing himself to have been till September, 
1829, the advocate of gradual emancipation, the editor de- 
fines his present and future position by the emphatic men- 
ace, " Let Southern oppressors tremble ! Let their secret 
abettors tremble ! Let all the enemies of the persecuted 
blacks tremble !" 

The interval between this challenge and 1837, while grad- 
ually destroying Mr. Garrison's original sympathy with the 
theology of revivals and its kindred developments, added 
constantly to the intensity and power of his appeals. Yet 
the fact of this divergence of the Liberator from the theolo- 
gy of the Puritans does not nullify the fact that it was itself 
the child of that theology, albeit a wayward child. Its first 
numbers speak the dialect of Canaan — the dialect of faith, 
and prayer, and evangelical sympathy. "Take away the 
Bible," it exclaims (April 2, 1831), "and our warfare with 
oppression, and infidelity, and intemperance, and impurity, 
and crime is at an end ; our weaj^ons are wrested away, our 

* The nature of these celebrated exscinding acts will be understood by 
the common people if we say that of two nearly equal parties in The 
Church, one put a large part of the other under discipline, and, on the 
ground that parties under discipline can not vote, proceeded to expel 
them. By this method, four Synods, covering two thirds of New York 
and part of Ohio, were disfranchised, and 599 churches, with 57,000 
members, excommunicated at a stroke. 


foundation is removed ; we have no authority to speak, and 
no courage to act." 

Religious revivals, it says, " are scriptural occurrences ; 
without them the promises of God would fail, and the earth 
be flooded with iniquity. If the kingdoms of this world are 
to become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, the 
event can never come to pass independent of great revivals." 

The jargon of Ashdod was later learned, taught by im- 
patience under tribulation, and exasperation at the sins of 
good men. 

It was really the power of the Puritan theology, whose 
impetus remained long after its distinctive sj^irit was lost, 
beneath which the guilty nation was heaving and surging 
like the ocean before the impending tempest of divine judg- 
ment. "I regard," writes Dr. Beecher, March, 1838, "the 
whole abolition movement, under its most influential leaders, 
wdth its distinctive maxims and modes of feeling, and also 
the whole temper, principles, and action of the South in 
the justification of slavery, as signal instances of infatuation 
permitted by Heaven for purposes of national retribution. 
God never raised up such men as Garrison, and others like 
him, as the ministers of his mercy for purposes of peaceful 
reform, but only as the fit and fearful ministers of his venge- 
ance upon a people incorrigibly wicked." 

Instinctively the guilty region now expiating its crimes 
in terrible fulfillment of this augury betrays its conscious- 
ness of the source of its punishment by desjDcrate reaction 
against New England Puritanism. It is against Puritan 
ideas that the rebellion proclaims itself to be waging inter- 
necine war. In so doing it does not mean that conservative 
Puritanism, so called, which is absolutistic and in sympathy 
with traitors, nor that destructive Puritanism which is nat- 
uralistic and in sympathy with infidelity ; but it means that 


Puritanism which coincides with the progressive theology 
of common sense, accountability, and moral government — 
the natural foe of despotism in every form. 

Accordingly, it was the Synods most imbued with this 
theology — Utica, Genesee, Western Reserve, Cincinnati, and 
others, which were foremost in urging the General Assem- 
bly to disfellowship slaveholders, while the president of the 
Old School Convention which indicted the New Haven the- 
ology was an infatuated defender of slavery as a Bible in- 

The discussion of the slavery question in the Assembly of 
1836, at which Dr. Beecher was acquitted, as also of preced- 
ing Assemblies, was exciting. Dr. Witherspoon, of South 
Carolina, subsequently writes to Dr. Beecher : 

^^ Division I do most sincerely and deeply deplore; and 
if it must, as a dernier resort, come to this, I am strongly 
inclined to the opinion that Mason and Dixon's line must 
be the ridge. It needs but the lifting a finger to hring this 
to 2)C(ss; and if it will promote the peace of the Church, it 
shall be done as speedily as the most violent Abolitionist 
could desire. And what will be the effect of this ? South- 
ern ministers will be utterly excluded from Northern pul- 
pits and churches — Northern ministers driven from the 
South, or conducted to the ' lamj^-post d la 7node de Paris'' 
— a pretty state of things in Christian America, the nest of 
the eagle, home of the stranger, asylum of the oj^pressed. 

"Yet so it icill he if the Abolitionists rule. Our land 
must be deluged in blood by a contest fiercer and more 
bloody and unrelenting than even Tory warfare during the 
revolutionary struggle. When men contend for liherty — an 
opinion — they will^^A^ liJce men ; but when they contend 
iox property., they will fight lihe devils. This cause will arm 
son against father, daughter against mother, and prostrate 


the strongest and most tender ties of life. I have been a 
slaveholder from my youtli, and yet I detest it as the polit- 
ical and domestic curse of our Southern country ; and yet I 
icould contend to the death against Northern interference 
with Southern rights^ and would follow Dr. JBemaoi to the 
scaffold on Charleston Nech if he continued to hold the sen- 
timents he expressed at Pittsburg in 1835. I give you, 
Brother Beecher, my honest, undisguised sentiments. They 
may be icrong^ but I think them right. 

"Abolitionism leads to murder., rarpine., and every vile 
crime that an enthusiastic ignorant slave could commit, 
and therefore I abhor abolitionism and detest the Abolition- 
ist. It was loell that I was not on \X\^ floor of the last As- 
sembly j but, if God spare me, I shall be on the floor of the 
next ^ and let Lovejoy, or Patterson., or Dickey, or any like 
them, dare to advance the opinions I have heard expressed, 
and — the consequences be theirs.'''' 

Southern Presbyteries and Synods were expressing them- 
selves emphatically in the same direction. The Princeton Re- 
view had already, as early as 1832, recommended a plan of 
reorganization, by which " the churches in the slaveholding 
states will be separated from those in the Northern States." 

"The South," said Dr. Beecher, conversing on the sub- 
ject, " had generally stood neutral. They had opposed go- 
ing to extremes in theology either way. Rice, of Virginia, 
was a noble fellow, and held all steady. It was Rice who 
said, after my trial, that I ought to be tried once in five 
years, to keep up the orthodoxy of the Church. He was 
full of good humor, and did so much good. But they got 
scared about abolition. Rice got his head full of that thing, 
and others. John C. Calhoun was at the bottom of it. I 
know of his doing things — writing to ministers, and telling 
them to do this and do that. The South finally took the 


Old School side. It was a cruel thing — it was a cursed 
thing, and 'twas slavery that did it." 

So the great and imposing fabric was shattered in frag- 
ments, and the rebellion now raging was a not distant con- 
sequence. And it was ideas that did it. It was ideas con- 
cerning God and man — ideas concerning the divine adminis- 
tration, the government of the universe, the origin of evil — 
that convulsed the Church and convulsed the nation; and 
why should they not ? Theology and politics are next of 
kin. Their study is but the study, in different relations and 
connections, of the fundamental principles, and historical 
facts, and moving powers of the universal government of 

We know of no more striking and even awful picture than 
that casually thrown off in a private letter of a Lane Sem- 
inary student, writing from Philadelphia at the time of the 
great ecclesiastical earthquake : 

^^ Philadelphia^ May 17, 1838. The Assembly convened 
this morning at 11 o'clock. After the sermon Dr. Elliot 
proceeded to organize. Before the calling of the roll. Dr. 
Patton attempted to introduce a resolution with reference 
to the exscinded Synods. The moderator pronounced him 
out of order, and told the clerk to proceed. The roll was 
called, and the names of the four Synods and third Presby- 
tery omitted. 

*' One of the proscribed offered his commission and de- 
manded an explanation. ' It is out of order,' was the reply ; 
' proceed to business.' Mr. Cleaveland, of Detroit, then re- 
quested permission to read a paper. ' It can not be heard,' 
says the moderator. Cleaveland commenced reading. Mod- 
erator turns pale ; pounds the desk, crying ' Order !' Cleave- 
land reads on, amid cries of order, and hissing less and less 
vociferous, as they see him determined to read : ' Whereas 


these Synods, contrary to law, are denied a seat, we proceed 
forthwith to organize the General Assembly of the Presby- 
terian Church of the United States of America, with as lit- 
tle disturbance as possible, at the opposite end of the house.' 

"Dr. Beman was elected moderator. The Old School 
looked aghast. Mason and Gilbert elected clerks. Tlie 
N'ew School then proclaimed at the doors of the Seventh 
Church, crowded to excess, that the General Assembly of 
the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America 
Avould proceed forthwith to the First Presbyterian Church. 
The Xew School marched down the aisle, the greater part 
of the throng following them. 

" Both parties have been in secret conclave for two days. 
The ISTew School anticipated the course of the other side, 
kept a lawyer at their side, and, when the time for action 
came, were prompt and self-possessed, for they had looked 
ahead, and correct too, to the letter of laio^ for their counsel 
was at their ear. 

'•'• Afternoon. The General Assembly directed their clerk, 
Mr. Mason, to obtain their books, papers, etc., from Mr. 
Krebs, clerk of the other body. Mason had not returned 
when the Assembly adjourned. The remaining time was 
occupied in reading the minutes of the last year. Your 
father and brother distinguished themselves in the Conven- 
tion on Monday and Tuesday. I did not hear them — did 
not reach Philadelphia till yesterday evening. 

" The Assembly is by no means, however, the most ex- 
citing matter at present to the citizens. The heavens at this 
moment are lighted up by the flames of the Abolition or 
Liberty Hall in Sixth Street. The mob have set it on fire. 
It was dedicated two weeks ago : cost 140,000. The Anti- 
slavery Society are holding a Convention in it. Miss Grimke, 
or rather Mrs. Weld (she was married on Tuesday), spoke 


there last night. The mob broke the windows. Dr. Parish 
told them not to hold night-meetings, but they would. The 
ladies walk arm-in-arm with the blacks. I was there this 
afternoon : the women were holding a Convention. The 
streets were thronged by the mob watching the door. So 
long as the Abolitionists kept off from the negroes, the street 
was still as the grave — the mob looked only; but when they 
saw a huge negro darken the door arm-in-arm with a fair 
Quaker girl, they screamed and swore vengeance. The may- 
or and sheriff were on the ground. The fire raged with great 
violence. The engines refused to play upon the building. 

"18?A. The Assembly met at 11 o'clock this morning 
again. Rescinded the resolutions of the last Assembly 
against the Boards of Education and Missions, and passed 
others commendatory. 

" The bell of the State House is tolling again — there are 
cries of fire ! The mob w^ere seen this afternoon e?i masse 
parading the streets, rioting over the ruins of the last night's 
conflagration, and threatening another. 

" The heavens are lighted up. The African Hall, in Thir- 
teenth Street, is on fire. The mob is cutting the hose, that 
no water may reach it. Such is the state of things in the 
city at present. The police are on the ground, but do noth- 
ing but talk ; in fact, they are not able ; in heart, they do 
not wish to restrain the rioters. 

"That the Convention have been imprudent there is no 
doubt, but that the rabble in the midst of an enlightened 
and powerful community should be permitted to trample on 
all law is shameful." 




The first consequence of the organization of the Consti- 
tutional Assembly was the adoption by the revolutionary 
body of measures to carry with them, or to divide, all infe- 
rior judicatories. The next consequence was the adoption, 
by the constitutional body and its leading members, of coun- 
ter measures in self-defense. 

The interest felt by Dr. Beecher in these painful scenes, 
and the active part he took therein, will appear from the fol- 
lowing extracts of letters written during the years 1838-9 : 

May 18, 1838 : "The organization of the General Assem- 
bly was accomj^lished yesterday without violence, and in ac- 
cordance with the directions of the ablest jurists, so that, 
unless legal science err, we are The General Assembly, and 
once more enjoy the protection of our civil and religious 
rites. It is the Lord's doing, and we give him the praise. 
Great efforts had been made the past year to divide our 
counsels, and we knew, as the result of different locality and 
independent thought, discrepant opinions had been formed, 
and were not without fear that God might give us up to di- 
vided counsels ; but his presence was signally manifest with 
us from the beginning in a spirit of deep solemnity, of hum- 
ble reliance on God and meek submission to his will, and of 
brotherly love. 

" In this frame, all our conferences and discussions result- 
ed in the progressive disappearance of diverse opinion until 
yesterday, when we passed, with but two dissenting votes, 
the resolution to organize as The General Assembly. 


" lu accordance with this vote, arrangements were made 
for the reading of three j^apers by three persons appointed 
for the purpose at the proper moment. The other body had 
made arrangements to defeat us, but were wholly taken by 
surprise in respect to the time and nature of our movement, 
and, in a state of utter paralysis, sat the amazed spectators 
of the event." 

A few days later he writes : " Our own Assembly goes on 
decently and in order ; the other, like Jehu, full drive and fu- 
riously. But perhaps the worse the better, though no one 
can tell what will come from the cool, deliberate determina- 
tion of one half the Presbyterian Church to inflict upon the 
other half all the injury possible. But enough. The Lord 
will take care of them and of us." 

From New York he writes again still later : " The Rubi- 
con is passed, never to be repassed. Twice, now, the amal- 
gamation of American and foreign Presbyterianism and Con- 
gregationalism has produced a violent expulsion. We are 
now divided, I hope forever, till grace shall put an end to 
ambition, selfishness, envy, and the lust of dominion.. Our 
organization, guided by the best legal counsel, was determ- 
ined on with wonderful unanimity and good feeling, and ex- 
ecuted with wonderful alacrity according to the legal pat- 
tern. Our meetings were spiritual, devout, kind, and har- 
monious — almost all our votes unanimous. If our Presby- 
teries sustain what we have done, it is a noble band charged 
with the liberties of untold millions. The others are adopt- 
ing acts to drive the plowshare of desolation through every 
Synod, Presbytery, Church, and family, excluding all who 
will not sustain the doings of the Old School Assembly of 
1837, and declaring minorities who do the true Presbyteries. 

" We advise that, in respect to the plan of union, it have 
no retrospective action, and that in time to come Presbyter- 

VoL. II.— T 


ies and Synods, in the exercise of their own evangelical lib- 
erty, pursue the things that make for peace and general edi- 
fication. In respect to minorities, you will have to stand 
for your rights, and, if unconstitutionally exscinded, organ- 
ize, and send commissioners to the next Assembly ; ^. e., I 
suppose it w^ill come to this, for they are driving so over the 
Constitution that no force will appertain to their doings." 

Still later in May he writes : " They have consolidated 
their General Assembly into an irresponsible despotism, and 
intend to compel in or force out every Synod, Presbytery, 
and Church who will not succumb." 

The following lette^ from Dr. Bishop, President of Oxford 
College, Ohio, to Henry Ward Beecher, then preaching as a 
licentiate at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, was transmitted to Dr. 
Beecher in October, 1838 : 

"It is no inconsiderable matter in these days that Dr. 
Beecher has at least one son, who, after a full and free ex- 
amination before the Oxford Presbytery, has been pro- 
nounced to be orthodox and sound in the faith ; and that, in 
order to exclude the son of the arch-heretic^ a new term of 
ministerial communion had to be introduced. 

" I hope you will, as I do this morning, thank God and 
take courage. The Presbyterian Church, if it is to be saved, 
is to be saved by those who have not yet taken their stand 
with either Assembly, but have taken neio and independent 
ground, anathematizing neither. 

" I hope you will not think of applying for ordination to 
any other Presbytery, but continue your application to Ox- 
ford. A change, I am confident, will be produced before 
the next meeting." 


The following letter was written by Dr. Beecher about 
this time to a young convert on difficulties of an experi- 
mental nature : 

*' You complain that you are not perfect, and do not feel 
satisfied at making no approximation. This describes ex- 
actly the experience of every living spiritual Christian. ' I 
count not myself to have attained, but this one thing I do : 
forgetting the things that are behind, I press forward to the 
mark ;' and ' when I would do good, evil is present with 
me.' ' The good that I would I do not.' ' Oh wretched 
man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this 

" The law is the rule of duty, but perfect conformity nev- 
er the ground of justification or the required evidence of 
pardon. The law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. 
The effect of sanctification is never to make us seem to 
ourselves to be growing better. The increase of light 
and of moral sensibility to evil serves to make what re- 
mains of sin the occasion of humiliation, strife, and prayer. 
But it is in this view the text applies : 'If any man sin, we 
have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the right- 

" It is no uncommon thing for Christians to have a mark- 
ed variety in respect to the prominent outlines of Christian 
character. Some admire especially the law of God ; some 
his decrees and sovereignty ; some think much of God the 
Father, while others are absorbed in affectionate thoughts 
o.' Christ. But, though comprehensive and well-proportion- 
ed views of the great revealed system are desirable, they 
are not indispensable to evidence, or comfort, or acceptable- 
ness with God. * He will not break the bruised reed.' Nor 
is this attainment to be expected immediately as the result 
of conversion. It is ' first the blade, then the ear, then the 


ripe corn in the ear.' Cultivate an acquaintance with Christ. 
It will constitute the best and happiest form of Christian 
character ; but, if you can love, and obey, and worship the 
Father, you do approach him in the name of Christ so long 
as you regard what he has done, and the place he occupies 
as the ground of your acceptance. You may pray, there- 
fore, as you find most easy and edifying, though I would, if 
practicable, pray to Christ as God, for he is God as truly as 
the Father, as is also the Holy Spirit — three persons pos- 
sessing the same voluntary, intelligent social powers, one in 
nature, one in sameness of personal attributes, plan, affec- 
tion, and concordant action, so that whoever loves one loves 
all ; so be quiet, and pray to either person as you can." 

In February, 1839, we find Dr. Beecher at Columbus : "I 
arrived here Thursday. Called, with others, to advise and 
assist in organizing a Church of forty members, who have 
come out from Dr. Hoge's. 

"They had invited three other ministers, but all failed to 
come. I immediately sent eight letters to different minis- 
ters in my own name, but in behalf of the Church, urging 
them to come by some very cogent motives, which, if they 
have the breath of life in them, will bring some of them on." 
Among these " letters missive," one was addressed to his 
son William, then settled at Putnam, Ohio. 

" No event at this moment can be more important to the 
Church in Ohio than the formation in her capital of an efii- 
cient Presbyterian Church. But I can not do it alone, and 
must have help ; and am requested, therefore, by the breth- 
ren, to request you to come immediately, without fail. I 
have left the seminary and a pleasant incipient revival, and 
it is outrageous that those so much nearer should not be 
here. It is too bad that this little Church, with all her for- 


titude and decision in coming out, should be subjected to 
disappointment. I have preached every evening since I 
came (Thursday), and thrice yesterday, and expect to preach 
every night till help. 

*' So, dear son, make haste, and come on as fast as your 
horse can bring you, to help your father and do good, be- 
sides all the comfort it will give me to see you. I know 
you so well that I have confidence that you will come if 
possible — a true chip of the old block — to do the Lord's 
work, at all events." 

The results of these vigorous measures were auspicious, 
and the new Church duly launched. 

In March he receives intelligence from Professor Dickin- 
son respecting the progress of the lawsuit in the Supreme 
Court of Pennsylvania, in which the trustees of the New 
School General Assembly were plaintiffs and those of the 
Old School defendants. 

"The judge (Rogers) has repeatedly to-day given evi- 
dence of a determination to allow a fair trial. The oppo- 
site counsel have two or three times objected to evidence 
offered, and in every instance been overruled by the court. 
They made a desperate eftbrt to keep out the exscinding 
acts of 1837. This was their strong fort. They do not, I 
judge, pretend to justify those acts — they can not to any 
purpose. They were willing almost to admit that they were 

"After hearing their objections, however, and without 
time for argument from our counsel, the court just told 
them he did not see how we could understand the proceed- 
ings of 1838 without a view of those of 1837. Their coun- 
sel have evidently injured their cause materially by the ef- 
fort to suppress light, and every thing now will have to be 
exposed in all its deformity. Thus far every thing is en- 


couraging. It seems hardly possible for us to lose the 

In May, 1839, Dr.Beecher visited Oxford, Ohio, and, while 
there, was blessed with a revival. " I accompanied your 
father," writes Mrs. Beecher, " to Oxford on the occasion 
alluded to in his letter. He went, at the earnest solicitation 
of Dr. Bishop, to spend a single Sabbath. The evening we 
arrived it was proposed that your father lecture in the col- 
lege chapel. The students and others used their best en- 
deavors to break up the meeting. Sunday, Mr. Thomas and 
your father preached, the latter the second service, at the 
close of which a young man went up to the pulpit request- 
ing your father to invite to remain any present who would 
like to converse upon the interests of their souls. Seven or 
eight remained. 

" It being late, your father requested as many as would 
like to see him again to call the next morning at Dr. Bish- 
op's. By eight o'clock the next morning they commenced 
to come, and continued through the day. So great was the 
interest, that instead of leaving that day, as he expected, his 
stay was prolonged a fortnight, and I left him there the fol- 
lowing Wednesday. It was estimated that there were over 
one hundred conversions — eighty from the college." 

The following letter was written to Mrs. Beecher after 
her return, as above-mentioned : 

'-'- May 26, 1839. I snatch a moment immediately after 
breakfast to write, before the young men begin to call upon 
me for personal conversation, which for two or three days 
past has occupied all my forenoons, and yesterday nearly all 
day. It is a delightful employment, and generally they are 
young men of excellent minds, gentlemanly manners, skep- 
tical feelings, not well informed, but yet, for the most part, 
candid, and in some degree startled and uneasy. 


" Some, who began early to call, have got through their 
doubts and are rejoicing in hope. A number of them are 
from the South, five or six from Mississippi, others from 
Kentucky, and some from Ohio. A dozen or more are in 
the different stages of inquiry — some just begun, others al- 
most through. 

"I have never been placed in more interesting circum- 
stances — so accordant with my desires — so calculated to task 
my powers, and in the best manner to bring out all the re- 
sources of my mind, and all my knowledge of human nature, 
and all my exj^erience aad wisdom in removing objections, 
conciliating confidence, inspiring candor, and reaching at 
length the conscience through hosts of difficulties. It is de- 
lightful. My intellect is invigorated by heaven and by use, 
and my heart rejoices, and my health rises, while I preach 
every night, and thrice on the Sabbath, attend morning 
prayer-meeting at five and talk, and four o'clock prayer- 
meeting and talk, and inquiry meeting after preaching ev- 
ery night, and converse with forty or more, and talk with 
young men from eight till twelve A.]V^ bedsides. 

" With good appetite, unej,V-s«rausted spiritsrailo^^^^^^ 
sleep and firm health as^|^^ -»■ ever have — so you see the prom- 
ise is fulfilled, 'As tf^"/ ^^J^ so shall thy strength be.' Per- 
haps the secret qp-^ ^J faltering health for some time past 
may be the wa^^g^t of employment, or rather want of concen- 
tration in onft'' channel, with a single object, and that the no- 
blest and r^-'^^^t delightful in which men or angels can en- 
gage— tV-^^® restoration of disordered minds. 

- The Lord has permitted the accumulation upon me for 
the last two years, in domestic and public cares, and anxie- 
ties, and labors, a greater p^-^essure of responsibility and sus- 
pense, and baffled plans ana '^lopes, than ever before in my 
life ; and, withal, in a state fa.^ij^gnt, among strangers, and 


remote from the cheering sympathy and affectionate confi- 
dence of that host of friends who in one part of the Church 
had grown up around me, and on whom the slanders and 
misrepresentations of alienated friends and the conspiracy 
of religious party spirit could have no influence to embar- 
rass my success. In the mean time, my mind and body were 
taxed and tasked by responsibilities sufiicient for the time 
and resources of two men; and yet, with such providential 
hinderances and discouragements as, while they did not pre- 
clude success which cheered my heart and demanded grati- 
tude, yet did press upon a heart sickened by hope deferred, 
and a body so sympathetic with the mind's anxieties and 
sorrows that no strength of will could hold firm its muscu- 
lar powers against the tremulous action of the nervous sys- 
tem under the heavy hand of unceasing anxiety, suspense, 
and sorrow. 

" If He had not, through a long life of relative infirmity, 
taught me the habit of mental abstraction, and silent, and 
sometimes, when nature is exhausted, unfeeling endurance ; 
if, with unerring* wislom. He had not seen how much my 
^.,^^, - - - ^iidure, anu'..:.,T ,^30^ ^q j^st as much, but no 
more than h could sustain; ina..,^if ^^ ^^seen hand had 
not held up a mind and body of strong, .^^uring powers, and 
elastic, self-restoring energies, I should lo.^ since have been 
a wreck or in the grave. 

" Often has been the time when I thought that the cord 
was broken and that my last work on earth was done ; and 
now, if any man can say it I can, 'Having obtained he'lp of 
God, I continue to this day.' My brain, pressed almost ta 
paralysis, returns to its cheerful elastic action under the re- 
moval of the pressure of His hand ; my stomach, the seat of 
torture, and cause of dark forebodings and heart -sickness 
when the mind suffers, is j.^^' ^^ed by the alleviations of the 


heart, and sends out through my soul the elastic and buoy- 
ant feelings once more of my light and prosperous days, the 
return of joys departed which I did sometimes fear might 
never come back. 

" But the tidings from Philadelphia of a holy and meek 
decision, and regular and harmonious organization of the 
Constitutional General Assembly, with so large a represent- 
ation, and such determined courage and reliance on God ; 
the movement of such a needed public sentiment against 
the exscinding acts ; the confidence of life to our seminaries 
and Church property, both in and out of Pennsylvania; the 
movement at Indianapolis to give Henry a call ; the noble 
promise, and Christian decision, and better prospects of the 
students in the seminary ; the obliteration of so much prej- 
udice in this college, and establishment of so much influence, 
all tend to inspire the cheering hope that in me God may 
be fulfilling his promise that no temptations or trials shall 
be permitted but what his grace will enable me to bear, 
and withal make a way of escape. Psalms cxliv., cxxv., 
and cxxvi., may be beginning to find their fulfillment in me, 
and all the concerns of the Church of God, which compre- 
hend all my heart and all my desire. 

" That ' the rod of the wicked shall not be upon the lot 
of the righteous, lest he put forth his hand unto iniquity ;' 
that ' the Lord has turned again our own, and the captivity 
of Zion ;' and that ' they that go forth weeping, bearing pre- 
cious seed, shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing 
their sheaves with them.' So, indeed, it seems now ; con- 
versions are coming to pass every day, and new cases of 
committed seriousness and inquiry. Since I commenced 
this letter, Mr. L , a man of business, who has accumu- 
lated great wealth, has come in to converse with me; he 
had attended two inquiry meetings before, and is now 



'clothed and in his right mind' — a clear, strong mind, 
brought under the power of the love of Christ, and convert- 
ed as a little child. 

"I wish my conversations with the young men who call 
on me could fall on paper ; the dialogue would be immense- 
ly interesting, I am sure, and I believe more efficacious, as 
produced by the constantly recurring exigencies, argu- 
ments, and necessities of a diseased mind, than any thing 
that can be written beforehand for use. 

" But the wish is vain, and I am comforted that if it can 
not be written with pen and ink, it is written, I trust, indel- 
ibly and savingly on the fleshly tables of many hearts. It 

was the sermon last night which brought Mr. L , by the 

grace of God, to a state of happy, aflectionate reconcihation 
to God. It was upon ' the sincerity of God in his invita- 
tions and expostulations with sinners.' 

" Mr. T has not arrived, nor Henry, and there are be- 
tween thirty and forty who now have hope, and as many 
more in a critical and interesting state, and a larger number 
to whom we are beginning to have access as the tide of 
mercy rolls on. Until help arrives I dare not leave. If you 
have any reason to think Henry may not come, send this 
letter to him, and tell him to let nothing but two or three 
impossibilities prevent him from coming right up. Much 
can be done now in a week to secure this college to Christ 
by those whom Christ has owned in the extension of free in- 
quiry, and Christian liberty, and revivals, and missions, and 
the movements immediately preparatory to the latter day. 
But I know he will come if he can, who feels so deeply that 
we have got to work for our lives, and is so willing to work, 
and so like-minded with his father. 

"I believe now I have opened my heart and let out 
thoughts and feelings which have never escaped before, and 


to Utter which while the pressure was od, and the darkness 
visible, would only have added to their weight and gloom, 
without increasing strength to bear. I trust God is pre- 
paring for me at the West a more open door, with less dis- 
traction from adversaries, and preparing my mind for an 
atmosphere where my character needs no establishment, 
and where the co-operation of cordial friends will afford me 
opportunities of cheerful and efficient action. But, at any 
rate, so sudden and signal a change as now every day greets 
my eyes and cheers my heart is not for nothing, and is to 
be received by us, as it is, with unutterable gratitude, deep 
humility, and vehement desire to make returns according to 
benefits received." 




The most perilous part of the Seminary's history was 
DOW well-nigh passed by ; still, Dr. Beecher was destined 
for some time to struggle with embarrassments arising from 
the loss of the endowment of his professorship, and those 
resulting from the agitation in the New School Church of 
the slavery question. Some idea of his situation in these 
respects may be gained from the following letter, January 
6,1840, to his son George, then settled at Rochester, New 

" I am at length so entirely and distantly separated from 
my sons as I have never before been since the birth of my 
first-born, having always had one or more with me, and oth- 
ers so near as to secure frequent intercourse and aid in pub- 
lic action, but having now not one within two, four, and 
eight hundred miles. I am lonesome, and am stirred in 
spirit to bring my dear sons around me by correspondence, 
by which our sympathy and co-operation may be sustained, 
otherwise my quiver full of them may not avail me to speak 
with the enemy in the gate. 

"The seminary is in more favorable circumstances, on 
many accounts, than it has been at any time, though there 
are yet some adversaries and difficulties to be encountered. 
Our students between thirty and forty, and a better class 
of young men in talent^ study ^ attainment^ and contented^ 
kind feeling than we have ever had, and they come to us, 
th'\> through two ranks of opposition — Old School and ultra 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1840-42. 445 

Abolitionists, though the conservatives among the latter 
confide in and patronize us, and most of our students are 
conservative Abolitionists. 

" The lines, too, are drawn between Old School and Xew, 
and the conflict which absorbed so much time and feeling 
is gone by, and the churches begin to have rest, and the 
Presbyteries and Synods to assume consistency, and are in- 
creasing in numbers and spirituality ; and, through the pow- 
er of the Holy Spirit, revivals attend their sessions, and are 
spreading once more in our churches. 

" The importance of Lane Seminary is now also more 
clearly seen and deeply felt by the entire constitutional body, 
and we are beginning to enjoy what we have lacked through 
manifold conflicts, an all-pervading sympathy and efiicient 
co-operation by the whole Church. The young colleges of 
the West, also, are with us — Jacksonville, Marietta, Craw- 
fordsville, and Oxford — and are beginning to yield a yearly 
augmenting patronage, so that our prosj^ects East and West 
are brightening. 

" Henry, though so recently established at Indianapolis, 
is beginning to be felt not only at home in the power of the 
Holy Spirit Avhich attends his labors, but abroad as a man 
of piety, talents, and power, in the churches and in the caj)i- 
tal of his state. 

*' Of our difficulties I may say, the resignation of Profess- 
or Dickinson, in some respects to be deprecated, may be, in 
the end, a benefit, without any disparagement to him. 

" has resigned, but is malignant ; will join the Old 

School ; and he and are planning to break down the 

seminary and deliver it over into the hands of the Old 

School. says that Stowe shall go at any rate, and 

if he refuses we both shall go. They have, h{ .v-^ ^ ^n the 
board but six to twelve, and we intend to elr^,.-'?^^, ti*^-"' so 


many additional trustees as shall give them a stern chase 
without hope forever. 

"But, in the midst of our joy in tribulation, Tappan has 
again stopped payment. My people are kind, but, as I give 
them but half my time, I can not rely on them to meet my 
exigencies, and shall need, imperiously, temporary aid till 
Tappan resumes or the times change. If I stop now and 
leave the seminary, it would go into the hands of the Old 
School infallibly and immediately. Dr. Bishop writes that 
he knows they intend to leave no stone unturned to get it 
into their own hands, and that they are sanguine, and no 

doubt in correspondence with and , and are 

talking of Breckinridge as my successor. 

"Now the seminary, though thus pressed just now, pos- 
sesses a more ample endowment than any other in the land 
but Andover, valued at $130,000, and needing only $5000 
as a lien to make us easy. And if I am sustained through 
the present panic, it will go down auspiciously through all 
time ; but I can not stand without my salary. Poverty and 
debt, added to all that is on me, will break me down and 
end my life. 

" I hoped and intended to get through life without being 
obliged to call on any of my children for help, even tempo- 
rary ; though, if need be, none are more naturally to be look- 
ed to, and I fully believe none are more willing to come to 
my aid than my children, and of these none more than you. 
But at present I need $200 to save me from distressing per- 
plexities. You may loan it to me if you prefer to do so, 
though I wish you to do it /or me^ and also as a gift to the 
Lord if any thing should prevent a return. * * * My 
health is good, never better, under accumulating cares and 
responsibilities. The old ship, you know, has always seem- 
^^ Khrougfi'^i'*,''^^^^ ample ballast and a stiff gale ; so may it 
be nV -lie has enough just at present of both." 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1840-42. 447 

February 28, he writes to the same as follows : " The very 
prompt and filial manner in which you responded to my re- 
quest rendered me so happy as almost to compensate for the 

deprivation which occasioned it ; and to know that S 's 

heart moved with such affection in unison with yours, and 
that it is with her the free-will offering of love, doubles the 

" The revivals in our city are great and powerful, and the 
Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians share 
in them. Soon after the receipt of your letter, I had com- 
menced a course of sermons every evening, with morning 
prayer-meetings and favorable prospects ; but on Thursday 
evening, as I was going down with wife, Catharine, and Miss 
M— — in the dusk of evening, I was met by a train of six 
or eight wagons in the worst part of the long hill, and 
crowded off, and rolled over and over down a steep decliv- 
ity of some thirty feet to the bottom, without a bone broken, 
or any deep vital injury. * * * 

"Myself was handled the worst, though, in great mercy, 
only a rib slightly cracked on the right side, and left arm 
deeply and badly bruised. I laid by two Sabbaths as a mat- 
ter of prudence ; on the third preached once, on the next 
expect to preach twice." 

It was on this occasion that an amusing instance of his 
quaint dry humor took place. The stupid teamsters who 
had crowded him off, on hearing his cries for help, came to 
the edge of the road, and, peering over into the darkness, in- 
quired, " How shall we get down there ?" " Easy enough," 
was the reply ; " come as I did." 

Early in March he received from Professor Goodrich the 
cheering intelHgence of revivals in Yale College, Hartford, 
and other places. "The whole length of the Connecticut 
River," said the letter, " on one side or the other, from its 


mouth to the borders of Massachusetts, is Imed with re- 
vivals. Saybrook, Westbrook, Essex, Chester, Deep River, 
Haddam, Wethersfield, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury, East Hart- 
ford, Windsor, Ellington, and, I believe, Suffield, together 
with New Britain, Worthington, and part of Woodbridge, 
are at this moment visited. * * * You will not misun- 
derstand my feelings when I remind, you that in all the 
places above-mentioned, except one or two, the pastors and 
laborers in the work are New School men, or at least men 
who have no hostility to New Haven sentiments. We can 
not be too thankful that God, notwithstanding our weak- 
ness and deficiency, does not leave us without witnesses. 
* * * And now, dear brother," the letter concludes, 
"farewell. My heart cleaves to you and Brother Taylor 
more and more as I advance in years. We are associated 
in the best of causes, and have been called to suffer what we 
little expected when we entered life. But ours is a blessed 
service. Thanks be to God for permission to suffer for him. 
Oh, dear brother, let our hearts be much in heaven, where 
we shall meet when the labors of life are over, to be together 
forever in the Lord." 

In the latter part of 1841, appeals were made by letter at 
the East to meet the wants of the seminary and of the ben- 
eficiaries among the students. In one of these, December 
23, he says, " Our seminary has helped already into the min- 
istry between eighty and ninety young men. With few 
exceptions, they settle at the West, in feeble churches, on 
small salaries, work hard, and have revivals, and are soon 
surrounded by large churches, and blessed with a compe- 
tent support, and act as missionaries to organize and multi- 
ply new churches around them." 

In helping these students in the seminary, Mrs. Beecher, 
with the ladies of the Second Church, rendered constant and 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1840-42. 449 

invaluable aid, thus effectually helping Dr. Beecher in the 
great work of " laying the foundations of many genera- 

Among the many encouraging responses from Eastern 
friends was one from Dr. Brainerd, of Philadelphia, March 
29, 1842, from which we extract the following: " You have 
stood at your post through the hardest-fought ecclesiastical 
conflict ever waged in this land, and though something has 
been lost by the timidity or desertion of old friends, I think 
we all have reason to bless God that it is no worse. But 
for your timely translation to Cincinnati, New England prin- 
ciples would by this time have had no lodgment in Southern 
Ohio, Indiana, and Old Kentucky. Such a combination of 
local prejudice and personal jealousy, with ecclesiastical and 
abolition denunciation, no other man could have sustained 
without discomfiture. I believe with you that the crisis has 
come and gone — that the question is decided that Lane 
Seminary shall be the ecclesiastical helm of the Great Val- 

At this point in the letter the following comment is thrown 
in by Dr. Beecher : " This is true. In revivals, before I left 
the West, in the Old School churches they did not dare 
preach limited atonement, but preached the Gospel^ as we 

Dr. Brainerd closes as follows : " I may be permitted to 
say that I have found here no substitute for your friendship 
and countenance. In all my acquaintance with men, I have 
known but one to whom I could be subordinate with pride, 
and with and for whom I could cheerfully suffer persecution. 
Doctor, you have had many bitter assailants ; it will do you 
no harm to receive these assurances of love and veneration 
from one who knows your private character as well as your 
public services." 


The followino' letter to Dr. Pond will be read with in- 
terest : 

'•^ Lane, April 14, 1842. I have just read your review of 
the History of Harvard College, and what a flood of re- 
membrances rolled in of conflicts and successes achieved to- 
gether, and of joys departed, in w^hicli we alike sympathize, 
and mutual friends now gone — Evarts, Wisner, Greene, 
Cornelius! Through what toils and cares we have been 
called to pass in kindred employments in such distant parts 
of the Church ! You, for the most part, cheered and sus- 
tained by friends, I environed by adversaries, once my spe- 
cial friends, whose lowest aim was to obstruct my success 
and ruin my character. But the Lord has delivered and 
prospered, so that I look back on all as the ship looks back 
on squalls and head winds passed, when favoring gales give 
her a prosperous course, regretting no suffering for the great 
enterprise, and giving thus early and thus needed a well-en- 
dowed evangelical theological seminary so near in influence 
to the mart of the "West. Though the times are hard, our 
prospects, on the whole, are good, for which we give to God 
fervent praise. 

. " In your review you have made a new development of 
what the much-boasted Unitarian liberality is, viz., to sub- 
vert and monopolize the institutions and funds of orthodox 
generations, and to libel their illustrious dead with a malig- 
nity unknown to living hate, and augmented by the lapse of 
time and the supposed impunity of misrepresentation. God 
bless you for your victorious defense of the dead, and for 
the disciplinary justice administered to their living calumni- 
ator, as also for a new edition, revised and enlarged, of the 
shameless perversions of a noble state institution by a 'little 
sect which thirty years ago had not courage or honesty 
enough to admit they had a living.' Your account of what 

COEEESPONDENCE, 1840-42. 451 

the state has done, and the evidence of their sectarian big- 
otry and meanness in the exckision of Dr. Griffin, etc., will 
be one of the links of the chain of causes which will draw 
on a mighty change in public sentiment, as will also now 
the revivals in Boston and the shameless infidel fanaticism 
of the transcendental party. 

"My chief object, however, in writing at this time is to 
suggest to you the importance of a well-written ecclesias- 
tical history of Xew England by one so well qualified as 
yourself, and so w^ell situated for collecting and arranging 
the necessary information — one, too, who comprehends the 
grand design of Providence in the establishment of the Pil- 
grims in New England, and so well understands their prin- 
ciples, policy, and deeds as to be able to do justice to them 
and to the doctrine of Church policy which they introduced. 

" There is no chapter in English history so important as 
that which preceded and led to the exile of the Pilgrims, 
including the Commonwealth, the Restoration, and the rev- 
olutions which followed. It was the struggle for evangel- 
ical truth and for civil and religious liberty which eventu- 
ated in the planting of the institutions of liberty in the Xew 
World, to throw back an influence upon the Old World till 
the earthquake of revolution shall prepare the way every 
where for Him to reio^n whose right it is. It is not too 
early, and it wiU soon be too late, to write to the best ad- 
vantage a complete history of the grand experiment of 
primitive orthodoxy and strict conditions of Church mem- 
bership, contrasted with the Half-way Covenant and Stod- 
dardean communion as a converting ordinance, followed by 
declension and suspension of revivals, till the tide was turned 
by Edwards. 

"This is a chapter of history that should be soon record- 
ed for the instruction of all coming time. It was my inten- 


tion that Wisner should do it ; but God has called him to 
other employments, and I know of no one who in interest, 
and preparation, and capacity is so well qualified to execute 
such a work as yourself. 

" Let me hear from you soon ; and do not say you can 
not command time, for nobody ever did or will do any thing 
Avho is not pressed for time. We who have time enough 
are always lazy ; for men who are willing to work and do 
work will always have their hands full. I am satisfied that 
my judgment of your fitness will be corroborated by your 
clerical brethren in New England. My greatest depriva- 
tion here is coming away from the scenes, and minds, and 
interests of New England, with which I can never cease to 




At this time, the efforts made to obtain aid for the semi- 
nary and its beneficiaries at the East culminated in the or- 
ganization of a distinct society, whose object should be to 
foster this and other rising institutions of the West. Dr. 
Beecher addressed, July 11, 1842, a long and eloquent ap- 
peal to Dr. Albert Barnes, commencing as follows : 

" The time has come in which we must unite our counsels 
and our forces for the West, as all we have done will be 
impotent to exert the controlling influence of Christian sci- 
ence, civilization, and holiness over the infinitude of de- 
praved mind here bursting forth, and rolling in from abroad 
upon us like a flood." 

After a masterly argument in support of this proposition, 
he concludes : " No human means can so certainly meet and 
repel this invasion of Catholic Europe as a competent evan- 
gelical ministry and revivals of religion. These speedily 
will throw all mischief into the distance, and render our sal- 
vation like the waves of the sea, and our glory like the 
unsetting sun. Oh, my brother, could the ministers and 
churches of the East see and feel the unutterable demand 
for ministers as I see and feel it, and the cheapness with 
which we could fit young men for the ministry by their aid, 
and the ease with which we could settle them, whatever 
they might think of the Education Society having fulfilled 
its destiny at the East, they would see that never was the 
call for its aid for the destitute millions here so imperious 
as now, and the consequences of neglect so certain and so 
dreadful ; therefore the streams of Christian emigration 


from the East must flow again, the prayers of Christians for 
the West must go up day and night, and the hand of benev- 
olence must open wide. 

" Though approaching the confines of threescore and ten, 
ray heart burns anew with the fire that glowed in it when I 
left ISTew England and came here ; and when I see what one 
seminary has done and may yet do, by Eastern and West- 
ern munificence, to fill the West with a holy ministry, and 
revivals of religion, and millennial liberty, I exult in the 
sacrifices I have made, in the conflicts and buffetings I have 
passed through, and in the far-reaching providence of God 
that hath lifted up a standard here, where the enemy com- 
eth in like a flood. May God, my brother, guide your un- 
derstanding and fire your heart to act immediately and eflS- 
caciously in behalf of the West ; to blow the trumpet around 
you, and rally the sacramental host for the onset that is 
coming on here ; for if we fail to hold our own in our own 
land, how shall we lead in the aggressive movement for the 
conversion of the world ? I am on the field. The battle is 
begun. We give notice of it to our fathers, and mothers, 
and brothers, and sisters, and children at the East, and call 
for help. Who is on the Lord's side — who ?" 

The results of this letter will be alluded to farther on in 
this chapter. Meanwhile we find him at Crawfordsville, 
Indiana, delivering a Commencement address " on the ele- 
ments of the power of the Catholic system, and the means 
of subverting it over our country." 

Owing to the combined effects of traveling over corduroy 
railroads, coffee, green tea, and Western fare generally, fol- 
lowed by insurrectionary stomach and blue pill, he says, 
" I was very much incapacitated, and felt, when I rose to 
speak, as if the chances were that I should fail ; but, though 
I did not satisfy myself, I escaped breaking my neck, and 
made a safe, and salutary, and pretty strong impression." 


Next we find him assistiag Henry Ward in a revival at 
Terre Haute, Indiana. "The revival here under Henry's 
administration and preaching was, in the adaptation of 
means and happy results, one of the most perfectly conduct- 
ed and delightful that I have ever known." 

In May, 1843, we find him at the East, engaged in organ- 
izing the society before alluded to. From Philadelphia he 
writes, May 19 : " Our prospect of success in organizing an 
efficient society to superintend and co-operate with us in the 
support of Lane and our colleges is cheering, and, ray belief 
is, will go into permanent operation. * * ♦ ^^ gj^^jl 
secure Philadelphia for the organization, which after this 
year will be the main thing, and Avithout so much personal 
eflfort of our own." 

August 14 he writes from Williamstown, Massachusetts: 
" Our cause commends itself to favor and patronage wher- 
ever we go. If Edward and myself could spend a year to- 
gether in the field we could do up the business." 

Under date of July 7 he writes from Boston : " This is 
the first move I have made to solicit funds in old-fashioned 
style. It was, as to all interest in us at the West, gone al- 
most out of mind. Edward's year of conversing with min- 
isters, and preaching and taking up collections, had got the 
thing ready to be pushed. By consultations in Xew York, 
Philadelphia, New Haven, Hartford, and Boston, we had se- 
cured the full conviction of the ministers and influential lay- 
men that the Western institutions must be sustained, and 
that to this end a society is indispensable. 

"Though there was so much cold water thrown in Bos- 
ton from the Puritan newspaper folks and a few others that 
it took us three weeks and eight or ten discussions to carry 
the point, yet it was all so much the better, for we got out 
all their objections to be answered, which threw all possible 
lights on the subject, and produced silence on the one side 


and augmented decision on the other. With this exception 
here from a quarter to be expected, all every where was cor- 
dial and even joyful that a practicable way was discovered 
to help the West." 

August 24 he writes from Boston an account of his jour- 
ney to Lowell, and thence to Xashua, to meet the General 
Association of ISTew Hampshire : " Edward beat himself; I 
did the same, as near as I could. * * * Am quite well 
and in good spirits to-day. Have seen Palmer, Stone, Noyes, 
Crocket, and White, and shall see Deacon Proctor where I 
am writing. My friends here mean to make up my salary 
out of the first part of the subscriptions, being given and 
designated for that purpose. That will make it sure, and I 
feel at rest about it. I start with William and Edward at 
four for Norwich, to take the boat for East Hampton, which 
if I do not now, I may never see again. This excursion to 
Long Island is the first hour of recreation I have had, and I 
hope it will be pleasant and salutary." 

" I had a blessed time," he writes afterward, " at East 
Hampton, where all old and middle-aged persons that I left 
thirty-three years ago were gone, and those I left youth of 
twenty, found up to fifty-three ; about half a dozen at ninety- 
three, and the rest all the way back to fifty. We preached 
and prayed, exhorted and wept. It was a solemn and joy- 
ful time. I never had a visit of such thrilling interest." 

On surveying the summer's operations after his return to 
the West, he writes : " Nothing could have been more auspi- 
cious than the results, both in respect to public sentiment, 
propitious organization, and getting Baldwin for our agent 
and secretary. I hear from Edward and from Baldwin that 
things are going well. But for this aid just now we should 
have all been blown up." 




"While at the East, as already mentioned, during the sum- 
mer of 1843, Dr. Beecher was suddenly informed of the death 
of his son George. He thus sj^eaks of the eifect of the sad 
news in a letter to the afflicted widow : 

"I have almost this moment received the news of the 
death of our dear George, now no more on earth, but with 
his mother, the glorified in heaven. A friend met me at a 
corner of the street, and said, ' Have you heard the dreadful 
news which has come into the city this morning?' I said 
' ISTo.' He said, ' Your son George is dead,' and handed me 
the paper containing the account. The shock was like that 
of a blow across my breast which almost suspended respi- 
ration, and left to me only the power of articulating at in- 
tervals. Oh ! oh ! oh ! Tears soon came to my relief, but 
they were not the tears of the father w^hich flowed first, but 
the tears of disappointed hope for so much and so needed 
usefulness in the cause of Christ cut ofi". But soon busy 
memory flashed upon me its thousand tender recollections 
of feature, and person, and aflection, and co-operation, and 
his life's history in rapid succession, and then a father's 
heart paid the debt of nature in a flood of tears. I went to 
my place of letters immediately, and met Catharine's letter, 
which opened deeper the sluices of sorrow as I sympathized 
with you and yours in that overwhelming scene. I return- 
ed to my room through the streets of the city sighing anii 
bathed in tears, subsiding and anon bursting out again. 

" I have just reached my room and am alone, and becoLi 

Vol. II.— U 


ing more composed. I do not murmur-^^j^ this exception 
am grateful and joyful that God gave me su«;];^gj,g ^^^^ ^^^^ 
secrate to his service. I thank him for his t ^^g^^^yg^.g^^ 
sion ; his consistent, Christian life ; his great attt 
me, and co-operation with me during my conflicts and triais 
at the West ; for the great amount of good he has done — 
some of it in sermons which, I think, Avill not perish, and 
much more written on the fleshly tables of sanctified hearts, 
to be known and read in heaven. And yet, while Faith 
submits, Nature feels the chasm of disappointed hopes. I 
have long seen that George was ripening fast in holiness, 
which I thought was to qualify him for more esteemed use- 
fulness on earth. 

" The event shows that God was preparing him for more 
esteemed usefulness in a higher, nobler sptfere ; and, though 
we see not exactly what it is, we may confide in him who 
reigns above that there is no mistake, and that God will not 
jDromote his cause above by injuring his cause on earth, but 
that our usefulness in eternity shall be as much greater than 
on earth as our blessedness is greater ; for there is the vis- 
ion of our God, of Jesus who died for us, and the Spirit who 
sanctified, and the general assembly of the first-born. The 
reunion of friends and families, so dear on earth and unfor- 
gotten in heaven, and then the rapid flight of time, and the 
nearness of the glory to be revealed in us, are all themes of 
thought so full of consolation, that while we look at these 
glorious, unseen, eternal things, our light and momentary 
afiiiction shall work out for us a far more exceeding and 
eternal weight of glory." 

The circumstances attending this afflictive event were de- 
scribed in the " family circular," in which the deceased had 
just written the following, which proved his last greeting to 
earthly friends : 


" Dear Brothers and Sisters, all hail ! — I only wish I 
had you all here, and every room in my house stowed full. 
When, think you, Henry and Charles, shall I see your faces 
here ? Can you not come, one or both, this summer ? Our 
house is completed, except a little painting, and will be ready 
for every body that will come in two weeks, so do make 
haste !" 

Then followed an enumeration of his fruits and flowers, in 
great variety and abundance, which he had just set out, and 
in which he took great delight. 

Immediately after this, on the same page, followed the ac- 
count of his death, written by his sister Catharine, then vis- 
iting there. He was found in his garden lifeless, with the 
gun, by whose accidental discharge he had fallen, lying at 
his side. 

" And so it is at last," writes Mrs. Stowe, in the same let- 
ter ; " there must come a time when all that the most heart- 
broken, idolizing love can give us is a coffin and a grave ! 
All that could be done for our brother, with all his means, 
and all the affection of his people and friends, was just this 
— no more ! After all, the deepest and most powerful argu- 
ment for the religion of Christ is its power in times like 
this. Take from us Christ and what he taught, and what 
have we here ? What confusion, what agony, what dismay, 
what wreck and waste ! But give Him to us, and even the 
most stricken heart can rise under the blow, yea, even tri- 
umph. ' Thy brother shall rise again,' saith Jesus ; and to 
us who weep he speaks, 'Kejoice, inasmuch as ye are made 
partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory shall be 
revealed, ye also may be glad with exceeding joy !' Deeper 
than all sophisms, and all mazes of crooked reasonings, is 
the heart's triumphant hnoicledge^ when in its utmost strait 
and agony it casts itself on Christ, and finds ' He is here !' 


" Oh my brothers all, let this first blood shed ba23tize you 
as soldiers of Christ, to fight manfully in the steps of him 
who has fallen, but who also has triumphed. Then at last 

" ' We all shall meet at Jesus's feet ; 
Shall meet to part no more !' " 




AccOEDiNG to the apostolic injunction, '' Count it all joy 
when ye fall into divers tribulations," Dr. Beecher, during 
the earlier half of his Western life, ought to have been a 
very joyful man, for seldom does hero of romance encoun- 
ter troubles more numerous or severe than seemed to com- 
bine from every quarter against his peace. In addition to 
the suffering attendant upon the anti-slavery imbroglio, the 
assault upon his orthodoxy, the death of his wife, and sud- 
den failure of his support, he was obliged to witness the de- 
scent of one of his sons and pupils into the midnight of fa- 
talism, and to find his favorite author, President Edwards, 
the occasion of the disastrous change. 

In his senior year in college this son read the " Inquiry 
respecting the Freedom of the Will," in the first part of 
which the author apparently annihilates free agency, while 
in the second part he proves from Scripture that men are 
subjects of moral obligation notwithstanding. 

Now, as Isaac Taylor well observes, "just as these con- 
clusions (of the second part) may be, they commanded no 
respect beyond the Christian community ; nay, they excited 
the scorn of those who naturally said, ' If these principles 
of piety could have been established by abstract argument, 
a thinker so profound as Edwards, and so fond of this meth- 
od, would not have gone about to prove them by the Bible.' 
Deistical and atheistical writers, availing themselves eager- 
ly of the abstract portions of the ' Inquiry,' and contemning 


its Biblical conclusions, carried on the unfinished reasoning 
in their own manner."'"^ 

This describes precisely' the course pursued by this son 
of Dr. Beecher. A more patient study of the treatise, es- 
pecially taken in connection with that on the Nature of 
True Virtue, might have shown him that in the definition 
of holiness as love to being in general, Edwards had laid 
the foundation for a system of perfect accountability. Tak- 
ing this premiss, his disciples deduced w^hat Dr. Alexander 
characterized as " a system of false theology, which, under 
its first phase as Hopkinsianism, and under its second as 
Taylorism, has been to our Church the ^fons et ovigo malo- 
rum? " It is true that in his earlier treatise on the Affec- 
tions, President Edwards gives a different definition of true 
virtue as a love or relish for holiness, and that thus he is 
the father of " the Taste scheme," so called, as well as of 
" the Exercise scheme." 

But, though his Avritiugs really contain the germs of two 
different and often antagonistic schools, it is his latest and 
maturest works in which the germs of a system of moral 
government are found, a careful study of which might have 
proved the antidote of fatalism. But young Beecher was 
neither a patient nor thorough student of Edwards at that 

" Availing himself eagerly," as Isaac Taylor says, " of the 
abstract portions of the ' Inquiry,' and contemning its Bib- 
lical conclusions," he pushed the logic of causation out to 
its most consistent and disastrous extremes of fatalism ; 
and yet, in doing this, his arguments were strikingly simi- 
lar to those employed by standard Old School theologians 
against their New School brethren. " No one," it is said, 
" has ever given an intelligible account of any active power 
* Logic in Theology, p. 13. 


that man can exert save to move the muscles of his body or 
to direct the attention of his mind, and that only within cer- 
tain limits. This beggarly power is strangely glorified when 
clothed in the princely habiliments of semi-omnipotence." 

The power to choose in given circumstances, otherwise 
than a man does in fact choose, is represented as "the most 
disastrous power that can well be conceived of, and, if any 
man possesses it, he ought to make it his daily prayer to be 
delivered from it. 'No man, while cursed with such a self- 
determining power as this, could be safe for a moment. 
With his whole soul bent in one direction, he might be 
borne, and that, too, by his own will, in another. With the 
most anxious desire to escape from danger, he might be car- 
ried immediately into it. He could form no plans for his 
own conduct, nor would others be able to anticipate, in the 
least degree, what they might expect from him.'"*' 

These reasonings are specious, but, unless there is some 
flaw in them, they conduct to fatalism. The will is but " a 
beggarly power," limited to the control of the muscles and 
of the attention ; and when " the whole soul is bent," by 
overmastering temptation, from inflamed desire, in a given 
direction, however unlawful, the power to will in the con- 
trary direction " is the most disastrous power that can well 
be conceived of." 

It was by just such reasonings, consistently carried out, 
that Dr. Beecher's son made shipwreck of the faith, and be- 
came, for a season, a confirmed fatalist. Dr. Beecher did 
all that could be done under the circumstances, but his in- 
fluence over his son's mind was from the first impaired by 
the fact of his well-known admiration of President Edwards. 
Timd only, and experience, could work a cure, and reveal 
the error of such reasoners, namely, as Isaac Taylor ex- 
* Princeton Review, July, 1837, p. 392. 


presses it, " that of mingling what is 23uvely abstract with 
facts belonging to the physiology of the human mind." 
This, he observes, produces " a vague dissatisfaction or la- 
tent suspicion that some fallacy has passed into the train 
of reasoning, although the linking of propositions seems per- 
fect. This suspicion increases in strength, and at length 
condenses itself in the form of a protest against certain con- 
clusions, notwithstanding their necessary connection with 
the premises." This suspicion, this protest, was j^roduced 
in time, partly by suffering, and partly by the power of God 
in answer to a father's prayers. 

No one can know Dr. Beecher's mind and heart, in some 
of their deepest, richest beauties, so well as does that son, as 
he recalls the amazing developments of wisdom, patience, 
logical power, and love then made, and made apparently in 
vain. Never can he forget the impression of those encoun- 
ters, in w iiich all a father's influences were thrown back like 
waves from a rock. Never will memory cease to recall the 
look, the tone, the attitude with which that father bade him 
farewell on his departure to New Orleans. 

" My son," he said, v/ith quivering lip, " eternity is long !" 
and, with a glance of anguish and a grasp of the hand, he 
turned away. 

But even then he did not abandon hope. Well he knew 
that time, and the inevitable unhappiness produced by fatal- 
ism on any mind of Christian nurture, were stern teachers. 
He fell back on Providence and prayer. The whole family 
were combined in a weekly concert of supplication for the 
wanderer ; and, amid all his multiplied cares, through a pe- 
riod stretching from 1834 to 18^0, Dr. Beecher's own sup- 
plications were incessant and importunate. 

For the purpose of introducing a letter in which his feel- 
■^gs on this subject are expressed, the following stanzas, 


composed and published in New Orleans, though of little 
intrinsic merit, are inserted here : 

' ' Oh, must I live a lonely one, 

Unloved upon the thronged earth, 
Without a home beneath the sun, 
Far from the land that gave me birth ? 

"Alone — alone I wander on. 
An exile in a dreary land ; 
The friends that knew me once are gone ; 
Not one is kft of all their band. 

" I look upon the boiling tide 

Of traflSc fierce, that ebbs and flows, 
With chill disgust and shrinking pride, 
That heartfelt misery only knows. 

"Where is the buoyancy of youth, 
The high, indomitable will. 
The vision keen, the thirst for truth. 
The passions wild, unearthly thrill ? 

"Oh, where are all the bounding hopes 
And visions bright, that were my own 
When Fancy at her will could ope 
The golden doors to Beauty's throne ? 

"My mother! whither art thou fled? 

Seest thou these tears that for thee flow ? 
Or, in the realms of shadowy dead, 
Knowest thou no more of mortal woe ? 

"In that still realm of twilight gloom 
Hast thou reserved no place for me ? 
Haste — haste, oh mother, give me room ; 
I come — I come at length to thee !" 

On reading these lines, Dr. Beecher addressed his son as 
follows : 

"Dear Charles, you will perceive by my last letter, if re- 
V 2 


ceived, the trembling solicitude of a father's love, which the 
slightest danger alarms. Since writing it, I have seen the 
report of yellow fever contradicted in the papers, and have 
also conversed with Mr. Findley ; so that, though I should 
prefer your returning home, yet, so long as New Orleans re- 
mains healthy, and your friends think it safe, I would not in- 
terpose my fears. I only desire you t^o maintain the living 
recollection of my inextinguishable interest in you, and my 
love and tender solicitude for- your life, health, and happi- 
ness, and that, though our opinions may differ, this circum- 
stance produces, instead of alienation, only a more intense 
interest, solicitude, and sympathy, which makes your suffer- 
ings mine, and my joys, if you may but return, more than 
for the ' ninety and nine that went not astray.' 

" Oh, my dear Charles — the last child of my angel wife, 
your blessed mother — you can never know the place you fill 
in your father's heart, and the daily solicitude and prayers 
of his soul for your protection and restoration to equanimity, 
satisfaction, and joy of heart in communion with God. 

" Since dinner to-day Henry has put into my hands the 
stanzas in the New Orleans paper, which have distressed 
and alarmed me not a little, especially the lines beginning 

" 'The friends that knew me once are gone.' 

Now I can perceive, in your passing out of the circle of fam- 
ily sympathy in respect to opinions, how you may feel a con- 
scious loneliness ; but that it should distress you that we 
are not associated with you in a change of opinions which 
has brought to your bosom so little that is cheering and 
sound — which has brought you into such close communion 
with suffering, I can not believe, though I may comprehend, 
perhaps, how the loneliness of your departure from us should 
create the deceptive and unfounded feeling that we have 


placed you beyond the pale of our warm affections and ten- 
derness. 1 hope the retrospect of our unwavermg and con- 
stant love, and tender interests, and efforts to hold and re- 
store you, and to mitigate your sorrows, and to minister 
consolation and aid in your embarrassments, will chase from 
your candid and affectionate mind apprehensions so unlike 
yourself, and so unjust and painful to us. 

" I have never known a case of aberration in sentiment 
from parental instruction and family belief, environed by 
such constancy of unwavering affection, such perseverance 
of hope, and such importunity of fervent, and, I trust, effect- 
ual prayer ; so that, amid your melancholy complainings and 
despondencies, and my own tremulous susceptibilities, I seem 
to hear the reply of the Bishop of Hippo to the mother of 
Augustine, who came beseeching him to pray for her skep- 
tical son — ' Depart, good woman,' s^id he, ' the child of so 
many prayers can no# be lost !' And when I know and re- 
member how by your sainted mother you were borne and 
nurtured, while she lived, amid supplications and most en- 
tire consecration of you to God, sealed by both our vows at 
your baptism, I can not, will not despair of your passing 
from this dark cloud into the glorious light and liberty of 
the Gospel. 

" Whenever the temptation comes over you to feel that 
you are friendless, remember, I pray you, that your father 
lives, that Aunt Esther lives almost only to suffer and pray 
for you, and that every one of your brothers and sisters are 
imited in a weekly concert of prayer for your preservation 
and restoration to joy and peace in believing. 

" Your address to your mother is overwhelming to me. 
That you should address her iii doubt whether she now 
adores as an angel amid the resplendent joys and glories of 
heaven, or is bereft of consciousness amid the shadowy dead 


by annihilation, and that you should implore her personitied 
dust to give you quickly a place in her realms of twilight 
gloom, as if resolved to follow her — did I not regard it as a 
poetical amplification, I should be terrified — petrified. Oh, 
my dear Charles, would to God that this blessed mother 
could look upon you as in life, and in my dreams since her 
death, she has looked and smiled on me in my desponden- 
cies and sorrows — that she might speak to your troubled 
soul as she was wont to speak to mine, in the language of 
wisdom, and meek submission, and unutterable kindness — 
it would stay your maladies, revive your spirit, fill up your 
dreary void of desolation, and make your life, as she did mine, 
as full of enjoyment as can aj^pertain to the lot of mortals. 

"But, though she can not smile on you, her suffering son, 
and can not speak alleviation to your wounded spirit, there 
is One who can do it, more kind and gentle, more compas- 
sionate and even more sympathizing than even she ever was 
— who every day beholds your solicitude, and is every day 
saying, ' Come unto me, thou weary and heavy laden, and I 
will give thee rest.' And I trust that He who never reject- 
ed an applicant for bodily alleviation, or the petition of 
friend or parent for help, will hear our supplications for you, 
and make us the partakers of your common joy on earth 
and a peaceful heaven at last." 

To this same son, restored through the mercy of a cove- 
nant-keeping God, after a thorough experience of the deso- 
lating efiects of fatalism, and engaged as a licentiate in pro- 
claiming the unsearchable riches of Christ, yet still to some 
extent perplexed by the deeper problems of redemption, he 
writes, July 16,1844: 

"Your letter to Harriet has come under my eye, and 
that extract from your sermon required two pocket-hand- 


kerchiefs to keep my eyes and face dry. It is now three or 
four days since, and I have read it three or four times, else 
my enthusiastic admiration might have broken out in terms 
unsafe for one so young in preaching as yourself. It is the 
evidence of resources in powerful writing evangelized, which 
may make sermons of the first class of literary merit, and 
yet be read with the interest of wicked novels, preserving 
the unbroken power of revival sermons. 

" Let me say, by the way, that too long, quite too long 
has the devil held in his exclusive possession the fine arts, 
and what is called fine writing, classical writing, etc., quench- 
ing in sermons the power of the imagination and taste, and 
condemning the most sublime and soul-stirring truths in the 
universe, which are the themes of saints and angels, to the 
dry technicalities and endless formal divisions of leaden 
prose sermons, ofiering no chance for the soul of the minis- 
try untrammeled to take fire and cry like the Tyrolese, ' In 
the name of the Holy Trinity of heaven, let all loose.' 

"Your 'jaded, overwearied sense of inability' reminds 
me of my own experience after a bilious fever, September, 
1801, with suspended labor until September, 1802, a dozen 
Sabbaths excepted, with protracted debility through 1803, 
only just able to revise and bring out of my treasury things 
new and old. But I did not think it was best to die, and I 
was as hungry to live and labor as a fish out of water is to 
get into his own element again. And I do not believe that 
I should have done more good ' in a tight bark, sailing with 
propitious breezes over the peaceful ocean of heaven,' than 
God has been pleased to secure by my labors here. My 
early days were very much checkered with despondency, 
and shamefacedness, and jealous feeling, as if every body 
saw my emptiness and vanity ; but I resisted it as a physic- 
al, lying disease, representing things that are not as though 


they were ; and I said to such feehngs, ' Get thee behind 
me, Satan, for thou savorest not the things that be of God.' 

" * * * In respect to your objections to systematic 
divinity, why should a topic in theology be exceedingly dis- 
trusted the more it becomes systematic ? Are not all the 
works of God in the natural world systematic — the orrery 
of the universe, the anatomy of bodies, planets, and trees, 
and the chemical laws of matter ? and is matter method- 
ized, the mere footstool of immortal mind, while law, and 
motive, and moral government, and the remedial influence 
of the atonement, and redemption, are thrown heap upon 
heap in immethodical masses ? and is all approximation to 
system in subjects which angels desire to look into, and 
which, in their eternal unfoldings, are destined to make for- 
ever, by the Church, to principalities and powers, the bright- 
est manifestation of the wisdom and the riches of the good- 
ness of God, without foundation, revealing only immethod- 
ical indiscrimination ? 

"Because some men adoi^t false theories in natural sci- 
ence, is there then no true system of natural science ? and 
because some men blunder in their expositions of the light 
of nature and the science of God's revealed remedial gov- 
ernment, is there no correct system of mental philosophy 
and doctrinal revelation? I admit that we ought to sys- 
tematize with great carefulness, and include no d2J7'iori the- 
ories, and build only with the unquestioned principles of 
the moral divine government and matters of fact. Perhaps, 
however, all you mean may be only that, while the great re- 
vealed system of God discloses the general and obvious 
skeleton of systematized relations, it is dangerous to give 
way to the lust of systemization throughout all the ramifi- 
cations, and to make the hair veins as fundamental as the 
jugular, and the heart, and the arteries. 


" ISTo doubt the desire of systematizing the minutiae of 
things appertains more or less to our creeds and theologiz- 
ing, which ought not to be imitated ; and yet original inves- 
tigation, by the tracing of relations, and dependencies, and 
symmetrical analogies, and nature of things, with the desire 
of progi-ess, is not to be inhibited. It maintains the vigor, 
and acumen, and wakeful interest of mind, and probably 
will constitute no small part of its exhilaration and untiring 
occupancy through eternity; for God is manifested as de- 
lightfully and wonderfully in the minute beauties and deli- 
cacies of his works — in the endless kaleidoscopic tints of 
beauty in flowers and shrubs, etc., as, in the sublime maj- 
esty of the conformation of suns and worlds. 

" The following are the rules which I have prescribed for 
rayself upon this subject, and rigidly adhered to from early 
life ! 

" 1. I will not push my own theories and reasonings 
against the just interpretation of revelation on subjects that 
lie beyond the range of the senses, or of intuition and rea- 
son; nor, 

" 2. Will I urge the minutiae of a system against its 
obvious skeleton truths, nor set aside that which I know 
certainly for that which is less certain, substituting igno- 
rance or uncertainty as my guide instead of knowledge and 

" 3. If I find myself going off the track of the general 
philosophizings and Biblical expositions of the generations 
of the great, and learned, and good who have gone before 
me, I assume that there is such presumptive evidence that 
I may be wrong as demands great circumspection in coming 
to an opposite conclusion ; still, I do not abandon immedi- 
ately what seems to me to be true, but examine all its per- 
ceptible relations to what are admitted to be the laws of 


mind and moral government, and God's revealed system; 
and if it repels no acknowledged revealed truth, and de- 
mands no unnatural violence to come into its place in the 
system, as if it were made for it, I begin to believe it to be 
true, but suspend my full assent till long-continued time, and 
thought, and revision confirm my judgment ; and now there 
are many important truths which I believe and preach which 
I held for many years suhjucUce. 

"4. And even when convinced myself, before I publish any 
thing contrary to received oj^inion, I inquire whether it is a 
truth of such fundamental importance that I am bound in 
conscience to preach it immediately, or whether, as Christ 
did with his disciples in respect to some truths, I may re- 
gard time and circumstances in respect to the preparation 
of the Church toreceive it. When convinced of the truth 
and the propriety of its communication, I present it in its 
own light and relations, without sounding the trumpet of a 
discovery, or that I am preaching in opposition to received 

" If I anticipate that it will be regarded as new, I say 
that 'I am aware that others, whose judgment is deserving 
of great deference, have thought differently, but, after long 
and careful investigation, I have not been able to come to 
any other conclusion.' Here I stop in the early develop- 
ment; never attack the opposite opinion, or amplify its ab- 
surdity or mischief, or stigmatize it by hard names. I gen- 
erally prefer to present it first in the way of answering ob- 
jections, in which, if it be seen to work well, by relieving 
the difiSculty which error always makes somewhere, and 
truth always relieves, many that might contend against it 
may silently acquiesce when they see how well it works in 
stopping the mouths of gainsayers. But then even I avoid 
the too frequent repetition of it, lest it should attract need- 


less notice, or produce in my own mind a paternal favorit- 
ism, and become a cosset or a hobby-horse, or create a fever 
of nervous affection, or exalt my pride as the discoverer of 
some new thing. It is enough if we may be allowed to think 
and speak freely, and to push noiselessly, and with unpro- 
voking, meek modesty, a new truth amid the prescriptive 
rights of error. It is difficult enough to push our little 
steam-boat up to the landing, amid swamps of other preoc- 
cupants, if we treat them with all possible courtesy ; but if 
we jostle for a place with invidious epithets and harsh de- 
nunciation, or offensive caricature, we shall hardly gain or 
keep it without many hard blows and great damage. I en- 
deavor, therefore, to find out intelligible and acceptable 
words, which shall afford the least possible occasion of mis- 
take or offense, and the least tangible surface to any return 

" In respect to the atonement, I remark that it is made 
up of facts more or less systematic, and may be pushed to 
extremities of minute theorizings, which, the farther it pro- 
gresses, the less may be our ground of confidence of perfect 
accuracy ; and yet, so far as our positions are symmetrical 
and analogical with the facts already known, we are not like- 
ly to be wrong, and only so when we substitute feelings or 
theories of our own, which either are not implied in the fun- 
damental elements, or are assumed without evidence against 
them — recusant theories which will not go with the stream. 

" It is true that the evangelical system, including the 
atonement, is pervaded more or less by the doctrines of ne- 
cessity and free agency, if by necessity be meant the certain- 
ty of human sinful character and action, without the interpo- 
sition and reforming influence of the Spirit, and the certain- 
ty of perseverance with it ; but if by necessity be meant 
that the volitions and actions of sinful mind are produced 


by a necessity as irresistible as that which controls the plan- 
ets and unites physical effects to their causes, then hoth can 
not pervade God's system, for they are intuitive contradic- 
tions — not a mystery, but a known, certain impossibility. 

" It is true, then, that the doctrine of the atonement as- 
sumes a class of facts without explaining minutely their mo- 
dus operandi; and yet these facts are symmetrical, and do 
indicate a powerful adaptation to their designed results. 
The facts assumed, and the principles implied or expressly 
taught in the atonement, constitute an encyclopedia of 
knowledge, of which that doctrine is the radiating, central 
point touching them all. 

" One of these implications goes back to God's eternal 
purpose to create a universe of mind voluntary, intelligent, 
social, immortal ; to gratify and manifest his benevolence 
in the production of the greatest amount of created good. 
Another, to the moral law as the guiding and conservatory 
power of mind — the permanent mode of maintaining the 
happiness of the universe ; it touches the entrance and con- 
sequences of transgression, eventuating in permanent, incor- 
rigible alienation from God and his government ; the impos- 
sibility of reformation and pardon on principles of law whose 
rewards are suspended by disobedience, and whose penal- 
ties, self-inflicted and accumulating, chafe and exasperate 
selfish mind ; and the impossibility of giving up the law to 
save the guilty. 

" It would not save them were it given up ; for sin would 
still be what it is, and to be carnally minded would be death, 
and the anarchy of ungoverned mind would be a hell. To 
interpose by omnipotence to make sinners hapjDy, and main- 
tain the efiicacy of law in the neglect of its principles, would 
be to give up moral government, and change the perfect sys- 
tem for one without moral excellence — a mere physical re- 


suit of animal enjoyment. But to do this would be unjust 
to himself — unjust to the loyal subjects of his government, 
destroying in their behalf the conservatory power of law, 
and their own character and immortal happiness as rational, 
accountable subjects of the government of God. 

" If it should be said that the universe of mind is not af- 
fected by what God does in our little world, the answer is, 
that all the capabilities of disembodied mind indicate ample 
adaptations for a universal communion with God and his in- 
telligent government as the common property of the uni- 
verse, and all the implications of the Bible carry us strongly 
to that result." 

In October this same son writes, proposing some inquiries 
in respect to the import of the adopting act in presbyterial 
ordination, whether it implied an unqualified acceptance of 
every article of the Confession, or whether the Confession 
was to be taken for substance. " I can accept it," he said, 
" yet so that my liberty of differing therewith, in all cases 
where there is question of agreement with Scripture, be not 
diminished, but rather established." 

He also stated that while, to his mind, in some respects 
the Confession, according to the present popular understand- 
ing of its language, failed to give an entirely just expression 
of the spirit of the Bible, nevertheless he admitted that it 
plainly recognized all the fundamental facts necessary to sal- 

To this Dr. Beecher replies, October 25, 1844: "Your 
qualification in your first answer you need not make and 
will not feel the need of, when you see that the Confession 
itself makes the same condition, chap, i., § x : ' The supreme 
judge, by whom all controversies of religion are to be de- 
termined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient 


writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits are to be ex- 
amined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no 
other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scriptm-e.' 

"This provision was intended to meet just such difficul- 
ties as you feel about some things. As to your other re- 
mark, I understand you to mean that the language of the 
Confession, read continuously, does not make the same im- 
pression on the popular mind that reading the Bible does. 
This I have always supposed and said, and still say so to my 
classes, though you might easily state it in the presence of 
uncandid and hostile minds so as to be misunderstood. In 
accepting the Confession, you do not profess to believe that 
it contains all that the Bible contains, or that it is as uner- 
ring as the Bible is, but that it does comprehend the system 
of fundamental doctrines taught in the Bible. 

"There have always been two different expositions of the 
meaning of the Confession on some doctrinal points from 
the beginning, in respect to which both parties appeal to 
the Bible and have been allowed to differ, as holding sub- 
stantially the fundamental doctrines of the system taught in 
the Holy Scriptures. But do not worry. If I come, you 
are sound enough to make all safe. Nothing will prevent 
me but dangerous sickness from setting out on Monday 
next. Be of good cheer, and leave off pulhng up the roots 
of things all at once just now; provide no mark for the en- 
emy to fire at, and all, with diligence and spirituality, will 
go well." 

To this excellent advice Henry Ward adds the following : 
"Preach little doctrine except what is of mouldy orthodoxy; 
keep all your improved breeds, your short-horned Durhams, 
your Berkshires, etc., away off to pasture. They will get 
fatter, and nobody will be scared. Take hold of the most 
practical subjects ; popularize your sermons. I do not ask 


you to change yourself; but, for a time, while captious crit- 
ics are hirking, adapt your mode so as to insure that you 
shall be rightly understood," 

These letters indicate the occasion of that horseback jour- 
ney of seventy miles through " the black swamp," from St. 
Mary's, Ohio, to Fort Wayne, Indiana, an account of which, 
at the time, went the rounds of the papers. One well re- 
members the doctor's appearance as, besplashed and bespat- 
tered, with smoking steed and saddle-bags crusted with 
mud, he rode, in the dusk of evening, up to the back gate 
of Judge M'Culloch's residence, and alighted, weary and 
stiff, but still hale and hearty, as though horseback rides 
of seventy miles were every-day occurrences. A hearty 
welcome, a heartier supper, and a thorough washing, before 
going to bed, of the whole body in cold water, brought him 
out the next morning sound as a nut, and with a step as 
light and springy as a young man. 

When the Presbytery of Fort Wayne was constituted, 
with the doctor and his son Henry Ward present as mem- 
bers of a sister Presbytery, the examination of the candidate 
began. As the conversation proceeded, and especially while 
the candidate rehearsed his experimental history and read 
his trial sermon (on Faith), the doctor was repeatedly de- 
tected in the act of wiping his eyes. When the time came 
for the services of ordination, after the sermon by Henry 
Ward, the doctor, whose duty it was to deliver the charge, 
spoke as follows : 

" My son, this day, much longed for and waited for, has 
come. The consummation of many prayers is realized this 
day. You are now a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, and 
the pastor of a Church of Christ. 

" Scriptural example and the designation of my brethren 


call me to give intensity to exhortation in the form of a sol- 
emn charge that you fulfill the duties of your high calling. 
Remember, then, the gift that is in thee, as an ambassador 
of Jesus Christ to negotiate peace between God and men — 
the mightiest power God delegates to mortals. 

" Remember that this power is to be used in a period of 
high conflict and glorious history, and yet of persecution 
and blood. The stress of the conflict and the intensity of 
efibrt will be great. In view of the coming struggle, I 
charge thee, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ — 

"1. Be strong in thy determined purpose, for no ordinary 
decision will avail. 

"2. Count the cost, and give thyself wAo% to thy work. 
One calling is enough in such a war, and half a minister is 
almost worse than none, for the devoted half is 7iever but 
little better than a quarter. 

*' 3. Preach the Gospel. Not human philosophy, not your 
own imaginings, but the Gospel — the law violated, man 
depraved, the atonement made, the law honored, the rebel 
reconciled. Reprove, where reproof is needed, with benev- 
olence, meekness, and power. Rebuke presumptuous wick- 
edness with all long-suflering and doctrine. 

4. " Take heed to thyself — to thy body, in which thy spirit 
dwells, and whose abuse will cripple and eclipse thy soul ; 
give it food without excess, and exercise sufficient for di- 
gestion — to thy mind, to have it exercised by reason of use. 
The mind without discipline will not maintain its power, 
but decline to premature impotency. 

" Take heed to thy heart ; keep it with all diligence, by 
meditation, by prayer, and by habitual communion with 
God. The power of the heart set on fire by love is the 
greatest created power in the universe — more powerful than 
electricity, for that can only rend and melt matter; but 


LOVE can, by God's appointment, carry the truth quick and 
powerful through the soul, and will, in a few generations, 
subdue and tranquillize the world. 

" Take heed to thy doctrine ; understand it clearly ; be- 
lieve it cordially, and preach in demonstration of the Spirit 
and with power. I do not mean an everlasting thrumming 
over of a few cut and dried truths ; but let your congrega- 
tion be fully indoctrinated, and then, like food or ammuni- 
tion, you can keep the system for use, rightly dividing to 
every man his portion in due season, with an application. 

" But, while much must be done for your Church and con- 
gregation, much must be done for the general cause. To 
plant Christianity in the West is as grand an undertaking 
as to plant it in the Roman empire, with unspeakably great- 
er permanence and power." 

The following letter from Mrs. Stowe, immediately after 
the ordination, will be read with interest : 

"Dear Charley, — I have thought of you all much dur- 
ing father's visit to Fort Wayne, and how you, and Henry, 
and He must be enjoying yourselves together, and have 
prayed that Christ would strengthen your heart and en- 
courage your hands by it. In truth, such family visits are 
small specimens of Eden yet unwithered. Father has come 
home well and refreshed by his journey. 

" Charley, you must not be discouraged if no immediate 
and powerful results follow your preaching, since Pie who 
spake as never man spake often preached in vain as to im- 
mediate results. * How long shall I be with you ? how long 
shall I suffer you ?' he once exclaimed, when he perceived 
how little effect instructions most earnestly reiterated had 
upon his disciples. How, in his hours of midnight prayer, 
must he have longed to finish his work, as he says, ' I have 


a baptism to be baptized Avith, and how am I straitened till 
it be accomplished !' 

"I have been considering lately the subject of Christ's 
pre-appearances in the Old Testament, and if you see the 
Evangelist, you will perhaj)S see some remarks I have writ- 
ten on one of them in your style of descriptive filling out. 
Also, I have sent to the same paper a piece of poetry on the 
words, ' Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother^ 
many of the ideas of which were suggested by your lec- 
tures, or by the state of feeling consequent on them. I wish 
you could see them both, because I think you would enter 
into the strain of feeling in them. 

" It is exceedingly interesting to my mind, and produces 
a wild poetic thrill to look far back into the Old Testament, 
and read of those interviews of the yet veiled Word with 
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and onward. How gently 
he led them ! how he condescended to each peculiarity of 
character, and made physical and outward blessings the 
means of attaching them to himself, and thus creating a tie 
which should result in spiritual elevation. The skeptic may 
smile at the idea of God entering into all the little plans of 
a shepherd's life, as he did with Jacob, but God no more 
feels it a little thing to attend to the undignified mortal 
wants of his child than the mother to attend to those of her 
infant or the father to plan toys for his child. 

" Jacob's history especially encourages me. He was es- 
sentially a desponding, timid man, though, as we see by full 
proofs, just such a man as is always beloved in a family. 
Now to this timid, desponding, yet affectionate man, how 
admirably did the divine "Word adapt himself; how he up- 
held him at every step with dreams and visions, and whis- 
pers of presence and comfort, and thus, in the absence of 
any written word — any previous history, or sacraments, or 


outward means, he won the heart of Jacob just as a mother 
wins the heart of her child. ' The God who fed me all my 
life long — the angel that redeemed me from all evil' — so Ja- 
cob calls him in dying. 

"And this Woed, thus walking and communing with 
man, guides the Jewish nation like a flock, and in all their 
afflictions till the fullness of time, and then 'The Lord 
whom they seek comes suddenly to his temple, even the 
messenger of the cove7iant whom they delight in.' How 
sublimely mournful now sounds the passage in John, 'He 
came unto his owji^ and his own received him not !' " 

Vol. II.— X 




The memoir of Dr. Nettleton was published in 1 844. On 
reading it, Dr. Beecher's heart was stirred and the memories 
of former days revived. He went back to the time when 
they labored together in revivals, preaching the same doc^ 
trines and aiming at the same glorious results. 

Calling up before his mind the Nettleton that was, before 
sickness had shattered his constitution and party spirit sup- 
planted brotherly love, he threw off the following hasty 
notes, so singularly free from the least traces of resentment 
that from them no one would ever suspect that any aliena- 
ation had ever existed. 

" Nettleton's personal attention to the critical state of in- 
dividuals in the progress of a revival was wonderful. This 
is a field in which the greatness of his vigilance, and wis- 
dom, and promptness, and efiicacy lay, the wonders of which, 
though much may be told, can never be recorded. His eye 
was open on every side so far as to see if any danger betided, 
and his solicitude was intense and his adaptations wonder- 
ful and efiicacious. He no doubt, by timely special inter- 
positions to avert danger and continue the unbroken associ- 
ations of seriousness, has been the means of plucking thou- 
sands as brands from the burning and^ bringing them into 
the kingdom of God. 

" When cases of this kind multiplied beyond the power 
of personal attention, he selected and associated with him- 
self instrumental agents with great sagacity and precision 


of judgment in sending the person adapted to do the spe- 
cific thing to be done. 

" While I was once laboring with him in New Haven in 
a revival, there occurred a wedding ball, of which the par- 
ties availed themselves to draw in by invitation three young- 
ladies whose minds had been tenderly impressed. The ef- 
fort to enlist the judicious parents, and to call the attention 
of the young ladies personally to the danger which threat- 
ened them, filled his soul. On the morning of the day pre- 
ceding the ball he went himself to one of the three, to an- 
other he deputed some one else, and the third he gave to 
me, and in the evening preached one of his most powerful 
sermons from 'To whom I now send thee, to turn them 
from darkness to light, and from the j)Ower of Satan unto 

" It was an eloquent and successful assault, as if he had 
rushed into a circle of enemies to liberate captives destined 
to a hopeless bondage, where the w^hole energy of his soul 
and strength were bestowed in the desperate onset. He 
fought it out as if the devil had come to take them and he 
stood there to defend them. 

" The power of his preaching included many things. It 
was highly intellectual as opposed to declamation, or orator- 
ical, pathetic appeals to imagination or the emotions. It 
was discriminatingly doctrinal, giving a clear and strong ex- 
hibition of doctrines denominated Calvinistic, explained, de- 
fined, proved, and aj^plied, and objections stated and an- 
swered. It was deeply experimental in the graphic devel- 
opment of the experience of saint and sinner. It was pow- 
erful beyond measure in stating and demolishing objections, 
and at times terrible and overwhelming in close, pungent, 
and direct application to the particular circumstances of 


" But, with all this intellectualizalion and discriminating 
argument, there was in some of his sermons unsurpassed 
power of description, which made the subject a matter of 
present reality. Such was his sermon on the Deluge one 
evening, in a village a few miles north of Albany. It was 
in a very large and crowded hall, and the house was filled 
with consternation, as if they heard the falling of the rain, 
the roaring of the waves, the cries of the drowning, the bel- 
lowing of cattle, and neighing of horses, amid the darkness 
and desolation. The emotion rose to such a pitch that the 
floor seemed to tremble under the tones of his deep voice. 
He would say, pointing with his finger, ' Will you take up 
the subject immediately ?' and each would reply, 'Yes, sir !' 
'Yes, sir!' as if Christ was speaking and the day of judg- 
ment had come. 

" But there was another thing which gave accumulating 
power to his sermons. They were adapted to every state 
and stage of a revival, and condition of individual experi- 
ence. His revivals usually commenced with the Church in 
confessions of sin and reformation. He introduced the doc- 
trine of depravity, and made direct assaults on the con- 
science of sinners, explained regeneration, and cut ofi* self- 
righteousness, and enforced immediate repentance and faith, 
and pressed to immediate submission in the earlier stages. 
Toward the close he had a set of sermons to guard sinners 
against dropping the subject, such as ' Putting the Hand to 
the Plow,' ' Quenching the Spirit,' ' When the unclean spir- 
it is gone out of a man,' etc. To this was added whatever 
was necessary on the signs of self-deception and the evi- 
dences of true religion, with sermons to young converts. 

" But these all would have been comparatively feeble but 
for the ubiquity and power of his personal attention where 
exigencies called for it, and the little circles which he met 


daily, when many were interested, to instruct and guide, 
and often to press submission with a success unsurpassed 
any where. 

" To these were added a meeting of inquiry for all who 
were willing to attend and receive exhortation and personal 
instruction, and of young converts to tell their experience, 
sing and pray, and a circle initiated in the singing of hymns 
and spiritual songs. 

" On the whole, taken together, it was one great move- 
ment upon the intellect, conscience, and heart, guarding 
against obstructions, and augmented in power by continu- 
ity of attention, and impressions, and all sorts of co-opera- 
ting auxiliary influences, with less of defect and more of 
moral power than I have ever known or ever expect to see 

" He commenced when the fear of revivals, from past mis- 
takes, had not wholly subsided, and when infidelity and op- 
position made carefulness necessary ; and he fairly intro- 
duced a series of revivals conducted in a manner so unex- 
ceptionable, and with such power of argument, and attend- 
ed with such glorious results, as put an end to opposition to 
revivals, and gave them an honored and unquestioned place 
in the Church of God, and generally in respectable society." 




The following extract of a letter, March 27, 1845, to his 
son Henry Ward, illustrates the tenacity of Dr. Beecher's 
purpose that all his sons should become preachers of the 
Gospel : 

" Ever since your letter to Thomas, speaking of your 
preaching and the prospect of a revival, he began to speak 
about going to Indianapolis. Harriet thinks, and the same 
occurred to me, that he was moved to do so with the hope 
of becoming a true Christian ; and, though I could employ 
him just now in assisting me,I have preferred that he should 
be with you. He said, when he first read your letter, ' Well, 
I think I had better go and help Henry.' 

" His bent of mind is so strong for the natural sciences, 
and his originality, and power of mind, and mechanical exe- 
cution, and his attained qualifications are so distinguished 
for a professor of chemistry, and natural philosophy, that 
my heart had let go of its favorite purpose that he should 
preach ; and yet I feel reproved almost in giving it up, as if 
my faith had failed, though, as in the case of Charles, I do 
not give it up, and only yield to an irresistible I "ovidence, 
still hoping and desiring yet he may be a ministe . 

" But, w^hether he preach or not, I can not think without 
pain and fear of his character being formed as a man of tal- 
ents and celebrity without religion, every year adding to 
the chances that he may spend his life and die without holi- 
ness. His usefulness in a professional college life will be 
greatly augmented by religion. * * * 


" He has earned a high reputation in his year's labor and 
study with Dr. Lock, of the Medical College of Ohio, whose 
reputation you know, and who says : 

" ' My laboratory is peculiarly arranged, having a com- 
plete work-shop for the manufacture and repair of instru- 
ments appended to it. In this shop, myself, Mr. Beecher, 
and my son have labored as much as circumstances would 
permit, and I am now surrounded by beautiful and efficient 
instruments, the result of our labors, some of which have 
been made solely by Mr. Beecher. He has become familiar 
with the general circle of instructions and experiments in 
the public course of lectures in this institution, embracing 
much that is original and peculiar.' 

" Dr. Lock said to me lately that there were few profess- 
ors in the United States that understood chemistry better, 
or could excel him in dexterity of experimentation ; and 
that, give to some men a well-furnished apparatus, and in 
five years it will be run down, whereas in that time Thomas 
would create one around him." 

The following letter was at this time written by Mrs. 
Stowe to her brother Thomas, and is inserted here as hav- 
ing an indirect but powerful bearing on the happiness of 
Dr. Beecher in this period of his life. 

^^ June 2, 1845. Your letter satisfied me that yours is not 
a mind unperceptive of its own moral wants — so far I have 
hopes. The most hopeless class of minds to me are those 
self-satisfied ones whom a few favorite ideas and theories 
of their own seem capable of contenting, and who have no 
conception of the deep, immortal longing which pursues 
spirits of another order — a longing which, whether devel- 
oped in diseased action, as in superstition and fanaticism, or 
in intense, never-satisfied worldly fore-reaching, or haunt- 


ing the mind amid floods of accomj)lished wish and success- 
ful effort like an unlaid ghost, is yet, in all these forms, a 
high and sacred relic of a better nature. 

" But some minds, from a natural overestimate of them- 
selves, and a certain shallowness of their emotions, a want 
of deep feeling, never know this except by the presence of 
some crushing outward agony; others, of more sensitive 
construction, more earnest and craving desire, find it mo- 
mently in the discrepancy of the outward with the exigent 
demands of the inward — the burning inicard of a deep, un- 
said dissatisfaction. True, what is called common sense, 
worldly wisdom, lays its stern hand upon it, hushes its 
mouth, as some vagrant gipsy who would degrade a high- 
born child to unwonted and disgusting servitude, repress- 
ing its cries for father and mother, and grinding it down to 
outward service by stern assurances that such, and such 
only, are its portion ; and yet, though the child learns to be 
still, and to labor in uncomplaining desi3air in its bondage — 
nay, though it becomes so habituated to it that it can scarce 
conceive of living any other way, and though all its physical 
habits may have become so reversed and unadapted that a 
return to that home and father may neither be desired nor 
attempted, still, deep within, the perverse longing groans, 
and sighs, and bleeds, and murmurs — all in vain. 

" But that repressed and crushed longing, useless, unrea- 
sonable, without end or purpose, is all that remains to the 
captive of a noble lineage and high inheritance ; and even 
though it become mania or moroseness, or though it unfit 
him for the office of a patient drudge w^ithout fitting him 
for any thing else, 'tis all one, there it is, a mournful frag- 
ment of something divine. 

" Now here is my creed. God made man to be happy — 
not by himself, but happy only in a deep, absorbing, sympa- 


thizing union with his Maker ; such a union as makes His 
will the soul's will, His joy the soul's joy, His aversion the 
soul's aversion. Now, if He made the soul expressly to exist 
in this way, and no other^ so far as the soul tries to live in 
any other it is going against the laws of its being — against 
the inexorable and inevitable limits of things that are, and 
can not be otherwise. Man — you — I — we all have a despe- 
rate determination to live an independent life, by our own 
will, impulse, and choice, apart from God ; hence the eter- 
nal wound, forever bleeding, over which we only draw the 
robe of outward things ; hence involuntary fear, perplexity, 
doubt, remorse, uncertainty, and endless conflict, flashes of 
truth, fragments of eflbrt, yearnings of desire unutterable, 

'^Now this, to my apprehension, is perceived by Satan 
more distinctly than by us. "Were he to come into our pul- 
pits and lecture on the mind's need of God — its agonies 
without him, and the utter uselessness of all the treasures 
of eternity to satisfy its hunger, who could, with such splen- 
did, heart-burning eloquence, unfold ? Good heavens ! what 
a jDreacher ! with what outcry and agony of reality, what 
fearful, bitter intensity, could he wring, and rive, and wither 
his audience ! He, too, could beautifully portray the reme- 
dy. Yes, he could say, ' Keturn, ye children of men ; noth- 
ing is easier. Love the All-Lovely till ye have no will nor 
desire apart from his, and then ye will never have a wdll or 
desire that meets not its full result. All God's power will 
then move as certainly in the direction of your wishes as of 
his own ; all God's wishes will be yours — his knowledge 
yours ; and as he is infinite, so shall be your joy. Put 
away, then, mortals,' he would say, ' put aw^ay this sin ; 
turn your will instantly and thoroughly into the will of 
God ; have not a thought, a feeling, a hope, or wish, or pub 



sation except in sweet accord with him, and ye shall have 
peace, deep, strong, broad as God's eternal being.' And as 
he thus exhorts, you may see the fierce, derisive smile of 
bitter irony. ' Try it ! only try it !' he pleads ; ' see what a 
simple and beautiful contrivance to secure your happiness ! 
IsTothing but this : become exact in your natures like God., 
and what you want in physical and mental power shall be- 
come yours by the common property of love !' 

" Ah ! vain mockery ! How well he knows it ! Well does 
he know the strength of rebellious w^ill — the loud uproar 
of passion which such an effort for liberty will awaken in the 
soul. Does he not know that Omnipotence has no power 
that could possibly pain him, were his will indissolubly one 
with God's ? He knows, as well as St. John, that '-perfect 
love casteth out fear' by an inevitable necessity, and that 
he has only to turn, repent, perfectly love, and perfectly har- 
monize with God, to come within limits where happiness is 

" You must see yourself that if the whole universe were 
in every part inevitably governed by a will which was ex- 
actly your own, that, of necessity, you could have no ungrat- 
ified wish in any portion of your being. Now that will in 
many points conflicts with yours ; for yours, if not a diamet- 
rically opposite, is at least a separate and unconsulting will, 
exposed, therefore, continually to cross the divine one. In 
those places where it happens accidentally to harmonize, 
and you stumble for a short time into the orbit for which 
you were made, you have happiness — for example, when 
you indulge your social feelings, love of knowledge, sense 
of honor, probity, etc; but when you carry any of these, or 
others, beyond that orbit, as when you place your friend 
or your knowledge in God's stead, you then conflict with 
his will, and sufler as necessarily as a man who puts his 


hand into the fire, or otherwise acts out of the Hne of his 

"Now the problem of happiness is this : There is a fixed, 
inflexible Will, armed with almighty powder, that, say, or 
do, or feel what we can, still governs, and will govern. 
We see it in natm^e, moving with iron, inflexible certainty 
through all the vain struggles, resistance, and agony of 
those who stand in its way. It is hopeless to contend with 
it ; we can only hope by falling in with it. So much natu- 
ral religion teaches us ; but it only shows us the necessity 
of submission, without a word of conciliation. Before a fix- 
ed, marble, inflexible will, she commands us to bow or break 
— no matter w^hich. The wave must bear us on, or sweep 
above us, and all our outcry and despair are but the futile 
curses and struggles of the drowning man. Old ocean lifts 
one scornful, hissing wave, stops every sense, strangles, 
bears him off", and dashes him like a weed uj^on the strand. 

" But the Bible draws aside the veil, and shows ns in the 
mighty central power a Father, who says to each individu- 
al, ' Even the hairs of your head are all numbered.' ' Fear 
not! the great inevitable movement beats with a Father's 
heart, and the happiness of each individual is as minutely 
cared for as that of the sublime whole.' ' Love me, and I 
will love thee ; choose with me, sympathize with me, and 
all my power, and all my wealth, and my glory, are thine !' 
Hence, through the whole Bible, the full nnion of the soul to 
God is called marriage ; the whole of two minds becomes 
one, and all the riches of the superior mind becomes that of 
the inferior. God is generous as rich. He lives not to ad- 
mire himself — not to pursue a cold, show^, glittering scheme, 
that has no heart in it ; but He makes a whole gift of Him- 
self, and all that He has, to each individual, as far as they 
can comprehend or use it. 


" Now, then, we are — we exist. The laws and necessities 
of our being are inflexible, and nothing but a perfect coinci- 
dence of our will with His brings us into the orbit of things 
as they are and must be. Our will must be identical with 
his. Well, then, can you make it so ? Try it. Gaze up 
those hopeless heights of unattainable excellence. See Him, 
dazzling in spotless loveliness, the fair Ideal beyond all art- 
ist's dream — true, tender, sweet, self-forgetting, yet immov- 
ably right and just; willing to suffer in his own bosom, to 
any extent, for the wandering, yet inflexibly maintaining 
against their aggressions the rights and happiness of all 
who trust him ; burning — living — dazzling with intense in- 
telligence and life, yet stooping to the prayer of the little 
child, the poor slave, and ' him whom man abhorreth.' Such 
he stands above us, and says, ' Become one with me in 
thought and wish, and thou shalt be as I am, blessed for- 

"Would not this perfect union make you blessed? Ef- 
fect it, then. Love with perfect love ; trust with j)erfect 
trust ; become in heart yourself pure, tender, sweet, and 
self-forgetting, just and true, and that not by ' force and mil- 
itary subjection,' but by ' involuntary harmony.' Does say- 
ing, knowing, admitting all this restore us to God ? When 
you have demonstrated that it is a deranged and unsubdued 
vnll that is the disease, are you any nearer the remedy? 
Methinks I see Satan mocking lost souls on the sweetness 
of this divine concord which he spreads before them, in con- 
trast to their eternal unrest, fair as Elysium, sweet as the 
distant paradise seen through the eternal fire of rebellious 
passion ; and pointing, he says, ' Behold how blessed ! each 
loving, each beloved ! each will the will of God, God's will 
the blessedness of all ! And what hinders you, ye burning, 
self - consumed, withering spirits? Once join heartily in 


God's will, and I have no power — nothing has power. The 
great gulf is passed, and ye are in his bosom. Oh ye fools ! 
know ye not the blessed doctrine of free-will ? Choose life 
and live !' With what burning, cursing despair do they 
know this, and yet dare eternal anguish rather than yield ! 

" Ah ! my dear brother, there is a deep meaning in the 
word eternal death — living, perpetual death, and God has 
shown me lately that I had it in me. I also know what 
eternal life is ; it is begun in me. The deep unrest of this 
life is eternal death begun ; and the deep, immovable peace 
of a perfect submission, perfect trust, and love, is eternal 
life — begun here, going on forever.. 

" Now, my dear brother, I freely admit that I may have 
been mistaken as to your past religious exercises, and that 
you may have more deeply and truly felt the powers of the 
world to come than I had supposed ; and, to repay confi- 
dence with confidence, I will tell you also of my religious 

" For some three or four years past there has been in my 
mind a subdued under-current of perplexity and unhappiness 
in regard to myself in my religious experience. I have often 
thought, when sifting myself, why am I thus restless ? why 
not at peace? I love God and Jesus Christ with a deep 
and real devotion ; nay, at times I am overwhelmed, pierced 
to the very soul with the perfect beauty and sweetness of 
the Divine One, and in general I trust in him, in general I 
mean to conform my life to him. I am as consistent as many 
Christians, more so than some ; then why not satisfied ? Ah ! 
I thought to myself, still I am not satisfied. Though I live, 
perhaps, what might be in Christian courtesy called a relig- 
ious life, still there is something wrong. I can conceive 
of a style of Christian devotion as much higher than my 
present point as my present position is above that of the 


world. The sudden death of George shook my whole soul 
like an earthquake ; and as in an earthquake we know not 
where the ground may open next, so I felt an indistinct ter- 
ror as if fjxther, brothers, husband, any or all, might be just 
about to sink. Such unexpected, stunning agonies show us 
heart secrets before undreamed of. I had written and spo- 
ken of Christ, the immovable and ever-present portion, and 
while I was writing my heart exulted ; yet when I had 
done writing all went down, as a fire burns itself out, and 
I returned to grief and tears. Ah ! said I to myself, is my 
soul fully on God, to be so shaken ? I saw that my trust 
was partial, superficial, and that was one more element of 

" The winter after, care and anxiety came uj^on me, and I 
often, day and night, was haunted and pursued by care that 
seemed to drink my life-blood. A feeble, sickly child — a pas- 
sionate, irritable nurse, with whom I feared to leave it, from 
whom I feared to withdraw it — slowly withering in my arms, 
and yet I exerting my utmost care for it in vain — harassed, 
anxious, I often wondered why God would press my soul, 
longing for reunion, with a weight of cares that seemed to 
hold it prostrate on the earth. I felt alone, unsupported, 
and He whom in former times I had found very present, 
seemed to leave me entirely. Often thoughts like this would 
flash upon me : ' How much of your anxieties are caused by 
apprehensive fears of what this, that, and the other will think 
and say of you? how much by having separate purposes 
and plans which have no reference to Christ's will, and here 
and there cross it ?' In short, I often saw, as by a dart of 
sunlight, that an entire identity of my will with God's 
would remove all disquiet, and give joy even to suSering, as 
^ays Paul, ' Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.' 

" Oil how I have groaned in spirit, and longed and j^rayed 


for it; but the more I strove and prayed, the more invet- 
erate, and determined, and unsubdued seemed every O2:)po- 
sing desire. The sensitive fear of blame, the ever -living, 
self-conscious desire of proving to myself and others that I 
was right, I perceived to be stronger and more efficient in 
me than the love of Christ, the fear of his opinion, and the 
desire to do his will. 

" Am I then a Christian ? thought I. Since I have al- 
ways heard that the balance or preponderance of the soul 
decides the character, certainly I have more thoughts of my- 
self separate from Christ and his will, more anxieties that 
relate not to his plans, more agitations and distresses, in 
short, that are the fruit of my own separate will, than all 
that I feel for him, his will, his cause altogether. Then it 
must be that I am not a Christian. But, then, why do I — 
why have I loved Christ — loved him so deeply as I know I 
have, nay, as I know I do ? I can not tell. I think I love 
him above all, yet certainly my will is, at best, only in a 
small degree subjected to his. 

" Well, then, I thought, if you see that entire union and 
identity of your will with Christ is the thing, why don't 
you have it? Just submit — give up all these separate in- 
terests — unite your soul to him in a common interest — why 
not? Why not? ah! why not? Words of deep mean- 
ing to any one who tries that vain experiment ! Every ef- 
fort breaks like a wave upon a rock. We reason, reflect, 
resolve, and pray — weep, strive, love — love to despair, and 
all in vain. In vain I adjured my soul. Do you not love 
Christ? Why not, then, cut wholly loose from all these 
loves, and take his will alone ? Is it not reasonable, since 
you can be blessed in no other way ? What else can you 
do ? Yet, for the same reason that the lost cling to a bit- 
terer, more unmitigated anguish, when they know what 


might make them at j^eace, so did I. I reasoned with my- 
self, Circumstances are against me; this pressure of out- 
ward care stands in my way : God must remove this. 

" Well, the summer after, I spent some months with Hen- 
ry, and was, of course, free from all pressure, and I thought 
710W is the time ; but now my soul seemed all to collapse ; 
the imperious sense of loant receded, and only a complain- 
ing, dissatisfied undertone remained. On my return this 
winter, again the wave of dissatisfaction rose. ' Still there ! 
oh, dissatisfied heart,' said I to myself, ' why wilt thou nev- 
er rest ?' Something said to me, ' You are a Christian, per- 
haps, but not a full one.' ' Learn of me,' said Christ, ' and 
ye shall find rest.' I do not find rest, consequently I do not 
learn of him. I perceive that the Kew Testament ideal of 
a Christian was difierent from and higher than what I even 
tried or purposed to be; that I was only trying at parts, 
and allowedly in some things living below. Nor did it com- 
fort me at all to think that other Christians did so, and even 
good ones too, for I remembered, * He that shall break one 
of these least commandments,' etc. 

" The question was distinctly proposed to me, ' Will you 
undertake, and make a solemn and earnest efi'ort to realize, 
the full IDEAL of Christ's plan, though not one other Chris- 
tian should ?' The obstacles were many. 'Twill do no good 
to try. With a lower standard Imve I striven, wept, prayed, 
despaired, in vain, and shall I undertake this ? I shall nev- 
er do it. iJut how I prayed that by some vision, some sud- 
den and mighty influence, God would bring me up to this 
conceived but not ever felt state ! I felt just in your words, 
' If there is a fact I know not, a truth I n^v^er saw — if there 
is an emotion that the Holy Spirit has never breathed into 
action in my soul — if there is a motive unfelt that should 
bring me to Chi'ist, oh let me know it !' This was the bur- 


deu of my prayers ; and my discouragement was, ' How can 
I see God clearer than I have seen him ? Can I ever be 
searched, and penetrated, and bowed by a deeper love than 
I have been, and which yet has been transient — has never 
wholly subdued me? Can I make deeper, sincerer resolu- 
tions ? No. Can I have more vivid views ? No. What 

" I thought of this passage : ' I will love him, and my 
Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make 
our abode with him^ This is it, I thought ; Christ has been 
with me by visits and intervals : this permanent abode is 
what I have not known. Again : ' Abide in me, and I in 
you' — a steady, ever-present Christ within, who should exert 
an influence steady as the pulse of my soul ; this I 7ieeded. 
I copied that class of texts — I prayed with prayer unceas- 
ing that Christ would realize them — I despaired of bending 
my will — I despaired of all former and all present efibrts ; 
but at His word I resolved to begin and go for the whole. 
As James and John : ' He said unto them, Launch out now 
and let down the net. They say unto him. Master, toe have 
toiled all night and have taken nothing y nevertheless, at 
thy. icord we will let down the net ; and lo ! the net brake 
with the multitude of fishes.' 

" What was the result ? When self-despair was final, and 
I merely undertook at the word of Christ, then ca7ne the 
long-expected and wished help. All changed. Whereas 
once my heart ran with a strong current to the world, now 
it runs with a current the other way. What once it cost an 
efibrt to remember, now it costs an effort to forget. The 
will of Christ seems to me the steady pulse of my being, and 
I go because I can not help it. Skeptical doubt can not 
exist. I seem to see the full blaze of the Shekinah every 
where. I am calm, but full — every where and in all things 


instructed, and find I can do all things through Christ, 
Now if this is, as you say, a dream, so is certainly every 
form of worldly good ; but this, if it be a dream, answers 
the purpose entirely, and I shall never wake till I awake ' in 
His likeness.' " 

In June, 1845, Dr. Beecher attended a convention at Chi- 
cago of Congregational and Presbyterian churches. He 
says : " The Convention was a great and good one, whose 
influence will be felt powerfully for good through all com- 
ing time. It will, I trust, avert a schism between Congre- 
gational and Presbyterian churches, and consummate and 
perpetuate their union. It was impossible not to feel the 
difference in affectionate estimation and influence among 
ministers chiefly from New England, Western New York, 
Northern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and that which I en- 
countered in Southern Ohio, in the form of Old School op- 

"The affectionate eagerness of the younger class to hear, 
and the reverential respect and deference paid was new, 
compared with the rongh-and-tumble and don't care that I 
have been through ; and yet for the world I would not re- 
verse the course I have taken here and its results for all the 
social estimation and pleasurable co-operation I left behind. 
I preached for the Methodists on the Sabbath on justifica- 
tion by faith, with great delight, and multiplied 'Am ens,' and 
other tokens of emotion and approbation ; and though my 
theories often swept across their track, the stream of feeling 
swept them along, and they still cried ' Amen !' It was a 
delightful time of boundless liberty, and heart-melting, and 
flowing onward of the copious stream of truth." 

Dr. Beecher's views of the comparative merits of the Pres- 
byterian and Congregational systems were thus set forth by 
himself in conversation : 


" The late enmity between New School Presbyterians and 
Congregationalists is most unhapj^y. I always had the con- 
fidence of both. I went to Boston to defend the founda- 
tions of Congregationalism, and resuscitate those that had 
declined. In collecting funds for the seminary I collected 
of both. The seminary Avas at first named Presbyterian 
and Congregational, but Wilson got it changed. It ought 
to have been so, for the Congregationalists contributed as 
liberally as the Presbyterians. But there were those who 
said then, and have said since, that I was a Congregational- 
ist, unfaithful to my trust, and that I used my position in 
the Presbyterian Church to undermine it. There never was 
any thing more false than that. In fact, the Congregation- 
alists, some of them, attacked me as not faithful to them. 

" But I brought all the influence of my previous extensive 
connections to build up the institution, and Presbyterians 
were very glad till the jars began, and New England was 
called all at once ' a suspected quarter.' But the fact is, the 
Presbyterian Church in this country had its beginning by 
sending to Boston. It was in their records, but they made 
away with it. Dr. Greene knows what has become of it. 
They wouldn't have it on record that they had been cradled 
in Congregationalism. 

" The fact is, I was true as steel to build up the Presby- 
terian Church as the stream of Providence had set; and as 
to working to produce Congregationalism, or make Presby- 
terianism lax, there was no man stood stronger than I. 
While I was a Presbyterian I worked Presbyterianism, as 
every body that knows me knows. 

"In Litchfield I was just as Congregational in adminis- 
tration as I had been Presbyterian before. I came in to Con- 
sociation by the door. I was examined, and held fellow- 
ship, and worked on that model. So in Boston I worked 


the independent Congregational system. I was faithful to 
the maintenance of their order, I've tried both ways, and 
I wouldn't give a snap between them, though, on the whole, 
where community is established and intelligent, I think Con- 
gregationalism is rather better. 

" Never had a particle of sectarian j^artisanship for either. 
I can say with Pope, ' Whatever is best administered is best.' 
I may have erred. I see not in what respect I should have 
conducted differently in existing circumstances. 

" I remember a time before the division of the Assembly 
when they began to grumble about admitting Congregation- 
al committee-men to vote according to the plan of union, 
and do various things to vex them and make them with- 
draw. I went up to Western Reserve College at Com- 
mencement on purpose to head off the Old School in that 
thing. I took a dozen men there with whom I was acquaint- 
ed, and explained the matter, and how the Old School were 
operating. The thing was understood. It was all safe. 
They stood by in all our troubles, and are there now. 

" The fact is, I was as impartial in administering the sys- 
tem in which I was as a pair of scales. I served each and 
loved each ; and, while I was in the same Assembly with 
the Old School, I loved them, and there was more than half 
— there were two thirds of them who would have given me 
heart and hand.'* 

August 9, 1845, Dr. Beecher writes as follows to Mrs. 
Beecher, then absent on a visit at the East : 

" How little of the history of the heart can ever be writ- 
ten, and, if it were, could ever be reached by language ; 
and, if it could, the world itself could not contain the books 
which should be written, and one generation would have no 
more than time to read the history of another. 


"Kow what a scene was that sickness, and all but sud- 
den death of Harriet ! It was a violent attack of cholera, 
running for three hours without medical aid into a regular 
collapse, with spasms, burning, and cramps, and the stamp 
of death on her face. When the doctor came he was thun- 
derstruck, and made prescriptions without any hope she 
would live. I did not get back till he was gone, and came 
into her room, and, coming to the bedside, realized her state. 
She was sinking. The universal languor and distress of 
death was upon her. I immediately took her hands in mine 
and began to rub them with perseverance and vigor, while 
the most powerful remedies were applied for an hour with- 
out any perceptible effect. 

" The first indication of the reversed and healthful action 
of the system was the excitement produced by the stimula- 
tion of the brandy, which at first I mistook for delirium. It 
was terrible for a moment. Dying, as I feared, she began 
to sing, and called on Mary, in a wandering way, to sing. 
But it was soon apparent that the ebbing tide was rising, 
and then my heart sang also and gave thanks ; yet through 
the night she was so low that if a relapse should take place 
she would not live an hour. 

" Mary stood by her all the while with a mother's solici- 
tude and care. I could not leave her, and slept on the set- 
tee in the dining-room, hot as an oven and thronged with 
musquitoes, sleepless from their annoyance, and conscious 
of every noise and movement. The night of susj^ense pass- 
ed safely, and she was better in the morning. 

" I am not sick — never was better in my life, though last 
week I had to diet and abstain from corn and succotash ; 
but this week I have studied and Avorked like Jehu every 
day, trimming up the trees, hoeing in the garden till my 
face was bathed and my shirt soaked, and yet I have not 


felt so well for a year past — so much like being voimg 

"I see by your letter to Joseph that you begin to talk 
of coming home in September. I begin to count the days. 
and hold on, so yon will finish your visit and tiy home as 
swift as possible, for two pairs of pantaloons have given 
out, and a new pair (of summer cloth) I bought the other 
day were spoiled on my late journey by reading with a 
mutton-tallow candle, and must wait your disposal. I have 
not shaved for four days till to-night, but, as a penance, have- 
done it so roughly that you never saw the like. 

" Our buggy, also, has not been oiled for some weeks, nor 
washed top nor bottom, and looked very shabby till I my- 
self ' slicked it up.' But, though a good overseer and execu- 
tor when I get at it, I must confess that I need taking ca. 
of some / but don't be uneasy, for I have lectured at Moul 
Pleasant on Temperance with such bursts of elocjuence am 
wit as astonished the natives and endangered their sides. 

*'I saw yesterday a letter from Mr. A to Mr. S , 

saying you wotild be glad to hear from one L. Beecher. It 
was very good news, since my letters, four or five, flying 
about like bullets without hitting, you will have a consider- 
able account of him in this." 

The following letter to Dr. Taylor, March 17, 1S46, will 
be read with pleasure : 

"Peak Tatloe, — I wish I had a son going to Xew Ha- 
ven every month, and then I should write to you as often, 
and possibly get half as many letters from you, and make a 
beginning of talking over things old and new. You and I 
are the same as when we projected the Christian Spectator, 
and battled about the means of grace and episcopacy, and 
Hartford College, and Xettleton, and Tyler, and "Woods, 
and HciTvey^ if you remember such a one. But now, like 


Bonaparte's battles and marshals, have all these gone 
thorugh the little end of Time's telescope into the dim but 
not uninteresting distance ; and how has oar generation fall- 
en off, and another and another pushed up behind us, and 
what things have come to pass which, had we lived in Con- 
necticut, we should have written letters about, and held 
consultations and talked over so much, but have not talked 
about at all, and never shall till we have more time in an- 
other world. 

" Well, our personal identity remains, and our friendships 
and our children, one of whom, my son Thomas, will hand 
you this, whom, I doubt not, you will receive gladly for my 
sake and his own. He is a graduate of Illinois College, and 
raised under the ministration of Edward. He possesses, I 
think, a mind not inferior to any of my sons, and quickness, 
dej)th, and comprehension of discrimination surpassing al- 
most any mind I have come in contact with. 

" Think not I am vain ; I only give you the outline, to 
say that he would like to spend a little time in Xew Haven, 
and see and hold communion with your literati as one who 
will appreciate the society of literary men, and all your lit- 
erary treasure accumulated there since the time I entered 
in 1792, when there was one rusty telescope, one air-pump, 
a prism, and one band and wheel to make the figure of the 
oblate spheroid, or the earth flattened at the jDoles. 

" Our students have been greatly quickened and strength- 
ened in faith and holiness again this winter, and we are now 
in the midst of a revival progressing and extending around 
us. I preach once on the Sabbath with great pleasure, and 
lecture every day with increasing satisfaction." 




From Mev. Thomas K. Beecher. 

" Dear Chaeley,= — You are editor, I am but contributor ; 
therefore use the pen, the scissors, or the stove for the im- 
provement of what I write concerning my father, Lyman 
Beecher, now with God. 

" I remember an earnestness which used to betray father 
into a curious repetition whenever he would bend his ener- 
gy to a profitable exhortation anent my waywardness : 'This 
is the most important year of your life, my son ; you have 
come to the turning-point of your history.' The first time 
he told me so I was a lad just turned eleven years ; and by 
many letters and words I was certified four times a year 
or oftener that I was at an 'important,' 'critical,' 'decisive' 
turning-point in my career, until I became a teacher at Phil- 
adelphia. In 1846-7 father was sorely exercised by the se- 
verity of my work in Philadelphia. He feared a sudden 
break-down. His urgency could not abide the slowness of 
the mail ; he must save me by telegraph — I suspect, his very 
first telegram. Aided by a daughter, he undertook his cost- 
ly ten words to save a son thus : 

" ' My very dear Son, — I have worked more — ' 

" Daughter. ' Father, father, you can't write so much ; 
don't say My very dear son.' 

'"Dear Son, — Trust a father's experience, and let me 
tell you — ' 

'-^Daughter. ' No, no, father, skip all that. You can't make 
love by telegraph. Tom knows your love.' 


"An hour was spent learning how to suppress his exu- 
berant affection, till at last the message came into shape 
►thus : 

'■''''Ease up. Rest — she}:) — exercise. Cold loater — ruh. 
JVo tobacco. — Fathek.' 

"Some books of health contain less than this telescram." 

" For various reasons, I used to worship in Christ Church 
(Episcopal) while in Philadelphia. As a member of the 
choir there, I was invited to unite with the Church. Father 
happened to visit me just then, and as those months were 
truly the turning period of my religious life, we spoke often 
and earnestly together. ' Tom,' said he, ' your mother loved 
the Episcopal Church (he often counted me a son of your 
mother, Charley). She was a good woman. The Episco- 
pal Church is as good as any. Go there, if you can do any 
good by going ; I have no objection at all ; only, whatever 
Church you go to, be a Christian and work.' " 

"Visiting home during one of my school vacations (1847), 
I found father at last without a child to love or govern, and 
it seemed to me that his long-trained faculty was keeping 
itself fresh in training a very stubborn and active terrier 
called Trip. Trip had taken my place in the study and by 
the table. At every interval of rest from writing, father 
would talk a word or two to Trip. On the mantle-piece 
lay a short switch, and Trip knew where it lay. Ordinari- 
ly Trip would receive rebuke and exhortation with becom- 
ing quietness ; but it was quite impossible to follow up the 
counsel with chastisement, for Trip had an eye ever to the 
mantle-piece. If father's hand tended thither, Trij) tended 
toward the door or table, and no soothing blandishment 
would restore his filial confidence until father, showing both 

Vol. it.— Y 


palms, would say, ' There, Trip-pee, Trip-pee, I forgive you 
this time, but you mustn't do so any more.' For myself, I 
protest that Trip, if he lives, has memories of escape and for- 
giveness more gratifying than I." 

" Do you remember, Charley, how father in those days 
used to carry a comb in his pocket for Trip, much to moth- 
er's annoyance ? and those frequent excursions down to the 
bridge in the woods which father and Trip would make, 
father talking to the little dog, and promising cleanliness 
and relief in soothing tones such as New England boys used 
to hear o' Saturday nights ? Trip was always grateful. 

" In all soberness, I declare that father, in those days, 
found comfort in venting upon Trip those tender emotions 
which he could not suj^press nor his own children longer 

" Farther back — for I follow no chronologic order, but 
write as my heart incites my memory — farther back 
(1843-4), I remember that father's income had ceased. 
He was living by gifts literally. Every morning at prayer 
he would pray for the needed supj^lies, and in phrases of va- 
ried simplicity speak forth our Lord's suggestion, ' Give us 
this day our daily bread.' One morning, after I had brought 
him the mail, I came J)ack to the study and found him tear- 
blind, and trying to explain a letter in his hand. 'Tom, 
you can get some boots now — here's some money ; and your 

mother can get you a vest from (whose slightly-worn 

wardrobe had kept me clothed at second-hand for years) ; 
and now you'll stay with me.' 

" He had prayed for means that morning, and he looked 
upon all such unexpected gifts as true and proper an- 


<'This ' staying with him' was, in the time of it, trying to 
me, yet it enriched me with my only deep knowledge of 
father's loving heart. 

" I was a man — graduated, and competent to work and 
support him ; yet he insisted on my staying with him to be 
supported. He felt that I was unsettled in religion, and was 
set in his determination to keep me near him and lead me to 
safety. Of course, irritated by frequent reproaches from the 
thoughtless for ' living on my father,' I was impatient to be 
gone, and many a passionate discussion came up between us 
about the matter. I never gave up entirely until one morn- 
ing, as I stood impatient on the south step of the study, in 
the sun. He came out suddenly, not knowing I was there. 
He sniffed the air, looked up into the maples, down upon 
me, put both hands upon my shoulders, looked me full in 
the face, and said, with broken utterance, 

" ' Tom, I love you ; you mustn't go 'way and leave me. 
They're all gone — Jim's at college. I want one chicken un- 
der my wing.' 

" Of course I staid by until I left with a blessing." 

" For more than a year I sat writing in the study with 
him every morning, usually copying his MSS. or reducing 
notes of his last sermon or lecture. He rarely wrote more 
than half an hour continuously. His lips moved as he 
wrote, and his left hand gestured, and now and then an in- 
articulate tone indicated doubt ; another, hesitation ; but, 
when the words and pen raced through to a satisfactory pe- 
riod, up went the spectacles, round came the writer, with a 
yThere^ Tom !' and he would read aloud his last written par- 
agraph—' that'll DO ?' 

One day in 1841 father rushed up stairs in a great hur- 


ry, and said, ' Wife, give me five dollars' (one of the stu- 
dents was needing helj)). 

" ' Why, husband,' was the reply, ' that is every cent we 

" ' I can not help it,' said he ; ' the Lord will provide ;' and 
away he went with the five dollars. 

" The next day, about the same hour, he came in, holding 
out a wedding fee of fifty dollars before mother's face, say- 
ing, ' Didn't I tell you the Lord would provide ?' 

" At another time, a friend in Boston received from him 
the following laconic epistle : ' Dear brother, the meal in the 
barrel is low, the oil in the cruise has failed. Send me a 
hundred dollars.' — This and no more." 

"One day in 1844 a family circular was received from the 
East, in which was a copy of a letter written at the time of 
Roxana Beecher's death by Mrs. Judge Reeve, of Litchfield. 
Father read it. When he had read a line or two the tears 
stood in his eyes, his lips were compressed. ' What a mul- 
titude ... of reminiscences . . . this calls up ;' and he read 
on with most violent emotion. ' Well,' he said at the close, 
' her prayer for me and her children has been answered ; 
her sons are all preaching, and God has blessed my labors. 
She consecrated them all to God, and 'tis wonderful to see 
how they have all been guided by strange paths until now.' 
He could not study for some time, and left the room." 

"About the same time he had written a letter to Dr. 
Blanchard on the subject of prayer, which he submitted to 
Sister Catharine for her jDerusal. This led to a conversation 
at the dinner-table as follows : 

" (7. 'I wish you would mention one view of prayer 
which I have never yet seen offered by any writer, viz., that 


all the prayers of Christ and his apostles of which we have 
any record are short, calm, and utterly want all the fury 
which many think constitutes zeal and earnestness.' 

'-'-Father. '• These prayers were meant to be short ; they 
are long enough to answer their purjoose ; but I don't think 
that they should be so considered as models as to bind us 
as to time, manner, or any thing else. The fact is, if any 
one should find fault with me because my prayers are short- 
er and less violent than those of some others who appear 
more fervent and in earnest, 'twould be just for me, in my 
own defense^ to point to the Lord's Prayer ; but I should not 
be right in quoting it as my text in reproving others be- 
cause they don't pray just as I do.' 

" C. ' But I have been accustomed to think that the deep- 
est rivers make the least noise, and that real emotion always 
exhibits itself in low, firm, and calm intonations, and not in 
violent gesturings.' 

'•''Father {laughing). 'I never saw the difference between 

real and artificial feeling better than in . 'Twas just 

after he was converted, and was on his high heels, and he 
had to mouth, and swing his arms when he prayed, and he 
always thought he couldn't pray unless he had a room big 
enough to swing a cat in by the tail. Well, he came.through 
Boston just as there was beginning to be some suspicion 
and distrust felt about Finney and his measures, and so I 
thought I would disarm violent feeling by kindness, and 
when came to see me I treated him kindly, and talk- 
ed, and we chatted along smoothly enough, and he was 
touched by my treatment of him. I saw it, and I asked him 
to stay over night ; he did ; and after breakfast we had pray- 
ers, and I asked him to pray. Well, 'twas lucky our room 
was large, for he got right down on his knees, and began to 
pray as though he would bring the ceiling down ; and he 


kept on, and on, and swung his arms round, and clapped his 
hands, until he came to pray for me and my family' (here 
father stopped through emotion), ' and then his hands fold- 
ed, and his voice sunk, and his intonations became changed, 
and . . . I . , . knew he was in earnest then.' " 

" One evening of the same year he was preaching in the 
chapel, and, in conclusion, was with much power inculcating 
the necessity of Christian effort and attention when sinners 
were in particularly critical situations. 

" ' Oh how I remember,' he said, ' that day when God first 
flashed deep conviction uj)on my soul, and tore away the 
veil from my heart, and set my sins in order before me ! I 
was overpowered, and broken down with grief and confu- 
sion; and when I went out of my room, whom should I 
meet but Edward Herrick, of Southampton, Long Island, 
who was a student with me at Yale College. How he hap- 
pened to know of ray feelings I can't tell, unless he saw it 
in my face, but he came up to me, and, kindly taking my 
hand, began to talk with me upon the subject of religion. 
Oh, he was an angel sent from heaven to my soul ! You 
ought all to be ministering spirits too.' " 

" Speaking of his sermons, he once said, ' I have tried two 
or three times to write a sermon upon the tears that Mary 
shed upon the feet of Jesus, but I never could, for the text 
was so much more forcible than any thing that I could say 
that I couldn't do any thing until I tried it in dramatic-nar- 
rative style. I preached it at East Hampton, and it melted 
the whole congregation to tears, and me too. 

" ' I have got another sermon, unlike any thing that was 
ever written before (though I never aim to be j^eculiar or 
enigmatical in my sermons), in which I labor to answer the 


difficulty which is often felt by Gospel-hardened sinners when 
they are tired of the old story about repentance and faith, 
repentance and faith all the time, and they want some oth- 
er way of salvation ; and so I wrote this sermon to give 
them another way — not suj)erseding the necessity of an 
atonement, and repentance, and faith, but a new way of se- 
curing the attainment of the old conditions.' I suppose he 
referred to a sermon which he had just preached, in which 
the point established was that the performance of one Chris- 
tian duty, and the possession of one Christian grace, will 
necessarily induce the whole train, by the bond of affinity 
that unites them all." 

" One morning I was speaking of the value of the night 
time to me as a time of study and thought. ' Yes,' he re- 
plied, ' there is something in the entire silence of the night, 
particularly in places where you are accustomed to noise, 
that is wonderfully tranquillizing in its effect upon my mind, 
but I can't bear the fatigue of sitting up late. * * * 
But I shall never forget one scene that I once saw of this 
kind. 'Twas when I was settled upon Long Island. I 
thought I would get up early and go down to the bay, 
where the brook-ducks used to come up every night, hund- 
reds of them, and I thought I would go down and get a 
shot into half an acre of them at once. So I got a great 
big double-barreled gun, and, when I had slept a while, I 
got up and started down. 'Twas a great deal earlier than 
I had supposed ; but I kept on, and came down the east 
shore, where the surf is always foaming up on the beach, 
and it comes in wave after wave, rolling and roaring, as 
high as your head ; but now, I don't know why or how, 
for once it was still; you couldn't hear a sound except a 
little softly-murmuring noise as the ripples came creeping 


u^ the beach ; 'twas as still as stillness itself; I didn't want 
to shoot, I tell you. I laid my gun down, and sat down to 
bear such a silence as I never did before. I forgot the 
ducks.' " 

" I was once speaking of times of high excitement and 
elation caused by little things, and instanced a successful 
shot at a match near Jacksonville. ' I guess you felt about 
as I did when I caught a trout as big as a shad in my 
hands. 'Twas when I was going w^ith 7/our ^mother — my 
first wife, I mean — down to New Haven, and we stopped at 
Baldwin's as we went down. I had my tackle w^ith me, 
and I w^ent out to the trout-brook, and soon came in with 
enough for supper ; and w^e went on, and came back the 
same w^ay. We got in just before dark, and I thought I 
would go and try my luck again ; so I got out my tackle, 
and went and dug some bait, and started out for the brook. 
'Twas a little one, and I fished for some time all along 
down, but didn't catch any thing, and it began to grow 
dusk. At last I came to where the brook ran into a dark 
ravine, and it was dark enough, I tell you, and pokerish too, 
but I thought I would go in and try a little longer. 

" ' The brook ran on eight or ten rods, and then widened 
out into quite a little lake, and at the lower end there was 
a shallow, rocky place, where the water ran out. Well, I 
was standing fishing, and I saw a big wave coming along 
toward the rapids. Thinks I, that's a big one, and if you 
try to go down those stones I'll give you a box on the ears, 
if you are not pretty spry. So I broke off a stick and crossed 
over, and I saw that the trout had stopped under a log that 
was lying there, and at first I thought I would start him 
out and catch him as he went down the rapids ; but I had 
heard — I didn't know whether it was so or not — that trout 


will let you put your hand under them without being scared, 
because they are accustomed to being touched by sticks 
and stones as they go in shallow water. Well, I thought I 
would try ; so I took off my coat, and rolled uj) my sleeves, 
and got down on the log, and put my hand cautiously down 
till I could just feel the water from his fins. I slid my hand 
up softly along his side, up, up, till my fingers came just be- 
hind his gills, and then I clinched him and sprang to my 
feet, swinging him in the air, and shouting as if I was crazy. 
We had him for supper.' '^ 

"Nothing used to fascinate father so much as tales of 
fishing and hunting. One of his most frequent wishes as to 
self-indulgence was, ' Oh, Tom, now if we only had a lake 
about forty rods long, right out the porch, and a little snug 
boat, just to row out into the middle, and drop your line, 
and pull in the fish, and come back quietly, and come in, 
and nobody see you, I believe I would go right off now.' 
From the time I was big enough to hunt, father had this 
standing plan, though ever unfulfilled : ' Some of these days, 
when I have more time, I mean to take Charley and the 
wagon, and go off ten or twelve miles, and have a hunt and 
fish. I'll give up a whole day to it.' " 

" One of the seminary exercises was declamation by the 
students. At one of these an argument was delivered by 
one of the class, ably written, advocating the organization 
of a Western anti-slavery General Assembly : 

"Father listened to it attentively and said, 'A very clear 
argument. I can say amen to every word of it. A whole- 
some exhibition of facts. Truth with good temper we need 
never beware of; it is always safe. True, it is vexatious to 
those it hits, and the stronger 'tis, the more it hurts. As 


to the caucus in the Assembly of 1835 and 1836 to j^revent 
anti-slavery action, it is a case where the wisdom of man is 
foolishness with God. If we had split then, we could have 
thrown slavery all overboard, for the division would have 
been between the North and the South, and we should have 
kept the North together. They could never have done as 
they have if we had divided then and kept clear of slavery. 

" ' But I am fast coming to the opinion — I am not quite 
made up yet about it, but I begin to feel that this business 
of a great united Church is nothing but popery, after all. 
There never can be strict discipline and purity of doctrine 
in a body that covers so much ground as we once did. I 
don't believe in it. For, if we had now one Church district 
in Ohio, as they have in New England, dependent upon no 
other body, but corresponding merely, just as the Associa- 
tions of the East do — if we had such in Ohio, I think there 
^ould be homogeneity enough of character and community 
of interest to keep us quiet and unanimous. They never 
spHt in New England, nor ever came near it but once, and 
that was upon the doctrine of decrees, and election, and free 
will, just Old School and New School theology; and the 
reason why they did not split, at least in the single state of 
Connecticut, was because they had no judicial courts, and 
their leading men could not be brought to disunion so long 
as their rights were uninvaded. 

" ' I never believed in the Methodist organization for this 
same reason : they cover so much ground that they must 
govern with a loose rein, and corruption must sooner or 
later come in. And this will prove to be the case with the 
Presbyterian Church too ; there is too much popery in the 
whole plan.' "* 

* Lest these remarks should appear somewhat radical and revolution- 
ary, we append the following from the Princeton Quarterly for July, 1864 : 


" One day he was talking about his East Hampton life. 
' Sometimes,' he said, * when Roxana would go home to 
Guilford on a visit, I used to get all the children round me 
and write to her about them seriatim^ and then when she 
returned I would write to Grandma Foote. I wrote the im- 
age and superscription of them all as they came up along. 
I should like to see those letters now. I wonder who has 
them. Dear me ! if I should sit down now and try to write 
out all their history, what a volume it would make ! I have 
often thought of it, and if I did it at all, I should have to put 
it in the form of letters to my wife in heaven — a narrative 
of all that has gone on since she left us.' " 

" A sermon of his — I can not now recall any of it — had 
been ' reported' by me with more than usual accuracy. He 
had criticised, interlined, and carefully perfected it. I had 
finally engrossed it, and tied it up neatly as a finished ser- 
mon. Going to Oxford, Ohio, he took this sermon, among 
others, with him. When he returned I asked him, 'Did you 
preach that sermon ?' 

" ' No ; that sermon's spoilt ; never shall preach it again.' 

"Our present book of discipline is confused, contradictory, impossible. 
It can not be acted upon without a consumption of time that is intolera- 
ble. In every Assembly where judicial business is to be transacted there 
are confusion and disorder — decisions which shock and offend first one 
party and then another, all because the book itself is what it is. It is no 
answer to this to say that our book was framed by great and good men ; 
so was the Constitution of England the work of great men, but it must 
be altered or overthrown to suit the changes in men and things ; and our 
old book, we are persuaded, must be altered, or our whole system must 
break down. That a Church of three thousand ministers shall be occu- 
pied, as it may be for days or even weeks, in its General Assembly in de- 
termining the merits of a petty slander case in any village of the Union, 
is a solecism not longer to be endured." — Page 515. 


" ' SjDoiled ?' asked I, feeling a little annoyed that I should 
have spoiled a good sermon. 

" ' Yes ; it's all fixed and tight, like a new coat ; I can't 
work in it,' said he. 

" All earnest preachers can understand this, I fancy." 

"But how unlike a student's his room always was, and 
what singular ways of studying ! Do you remember the gun 
he used to keep loaded by the door ready for the pigeons 
that in those days came over by millions? (1833-5.) Fa- 
ther would sit in his study chair deeply occupied, and set 
me by the cocked gun to watch for game. But he would 
hear the roar of wings as soon as I, and, with remarkable 
jumps for a divinity doctor, would get out the door, have 
his shot at the birds, and then go back to his pen. 

" His spectacles used to delay him, and I well remember 
his delight with a new ]3air which he brought home, each 
glass composed, of a plane half and a convex half. Looking 
through the convex lower section, he wrote metaphysics ; 
through the upper, he shot pigeons. 

"Have you ever seen father when a fit of order and ar- 
rangement came over him ? I remember five green boxes, 
say twenty inches square, in which the dear man again and 
again determined to put his disordered MSS., arranged and 
classified. 'There, Tom, keep my lectures all in this box, 
No. 1 ; put my revival sermons in this ; and then — let's see,' 
and he would begin to look over his piles, and to devise a 
third class. He would pile them up on the floor method- 
ically. ' Now don't let any one touch 'em, and to-morrow 
we'll finish up.' 

" Alas ! what with Trip, and father himself, in a hurry to 
find some dimly-remembered fragment, the piles soon be- 
came remedilessly confused, then scattered, until a distant 


to-morrow came to rebegin and never finish the ordering of 
his MSS. At one of my last visits to him in Boston he^ 
fondly embraced me, saying, ' Oh, Tom ! I wish you could 
live with me and help me arrange my papers.' " 

*' One Sunday afternoon he listened to a sermon from Mr. 

C , from the text ' I would not live alway,' showing the 

reasons of this strano'e feelinc? in all true saints. Father was 
deeply moved, and made a prayer beyond any thing I ever 
heard, as he pictured out the happiness beyond the grave. 
Verily he appeared to taste it already, and seemed ready 
to go. There was not a dry eye in the house ; even Judge 

and Mr. — were moved. When the people 

rose to the benediction, father gave two or three words of 
most moving exhortation : ' I believe without a clouht that I 
shall see many of you soon in heaven. But there are some 
whom I scarcely expect to see there, * * * and those I 
charge — now, as my last w^ord — I charge you to prepare to 
meet me in heaven, before the throne of God and the Lamb.' 

"Father's blessing at the supper-table was longer than 
usual, showing the unw^onted movings of his heart : ' Al- 
mighty God ! in Thee we live, and move, and have our be- 
ing. "We thank Thee for life, and for all Thy mercies and 
great goodness toward us. Grant us Thy blessing upon all 
our labors, that, though we shall " not live always" together 
in the loved fellowships and communion of earth, we may 
soon meet in heaven. Amen.' " 

"One day (1843-4), as we sat w^riting in his study, he 
suddenly broke out, without any warning or introduction, 
' Tom, I wish I could have heard Pag-(^ soft)-a-ni-ni !' Get- 
ting up at once, and walking to his rusty, three-stringed fid- 
dle, he took it up, thrummed the strings, tuned, sounded a 


tone or two unsatisfied, and said, ' If I could only play what 
^I hear inside of me, I'd beat Pag-a-ni-ni.' He felt disquieted 
— unsatisfied, but gradually contented himself with ' Merri- 
ly O!'" 

" Have you ever seen him, Charley, persevering in the 
hymn at family prayers during those years after his sing- 
ing boys and girls were all gone away, leaving him and 
mother as boarders in their own house ? I was verily moved 
to tears when I was present (1847 or 1848), for I remember- 
ed a choir of us at prayers. And when I saw the same old 
' village hymn'-books, and sat in the same room, and saw 
father go to the study, and fetch his fiddle, and tune it, to 
sing ' Joy to the World' — his voice serving him only occa- 
sionally, and mother's more persevering than strong — yet 
somehow the fiddle reminded me of father's old time style 
and expression. Yes, we went through all the verses, and 
when father's voice failed from the pitch, his lips kept the 
time and the words till his voice could master the easier 
tone ; and so they sang with the spirit and understanding, 
while I dreamed and dried my eyes. Since then I've heard 
the fiddle bearing up the music all alone at family prayer 
in Boston ; not a voice to join in, yet at least three of us 
following the words, while dear old father persevered in the 
music to the end. Oh, Charley, we must have a family meet- 
ing in heaven, and sing and have prayers again !" 




In June, 1846, Dr. Beecher writes, "My physicians and 
friends have urged me vehemently to go to England, and 
attend the Temperance and World's Conventions, assuring 
me that probably it would add five years to my life and use- 
fulness. Until now I have never felt any desire to cross the 
Atlantic ; but these Conventions have roused up a pretty 
strong desire, and if it will add to my life, there are some 
things undone which I should hope to accomplish." 

" Early in the spring of '46," writes Mrs. Beecher, " your 
father, on the receipt of his newspapers one day, as he read, 
turned to me suddenly, and with emphasis said, ' I will go !' 
' Go where?' I said. He repeated, '•lioillgo ! I thank God 
for such a movement.' Then he read to me of the move- 
ment of a Christian Alliance proposed to be held at London 
the following summer, where Christians of all denomina- 
tions should be invited to attend. 

"He added, 'I have never had the slightest wish to cross 
the ocean or visit other countries before, but now I must 
say I should be glad to go, if it is possible.' His interest 
increased continually in the subject, but the carrying out of 
his wishes seemed not to be in reach. I wrote to Dr. Pat- 
ten, of New York, to inquire if there were any arrangements 
to send such as would go as representatives. In answer. 
Dr. Patten said he ' knew of no such arrangement.' I con- 
sidered $700 as requisite for the emergency, at least. A 
few weeks afterward a gentleman called, whom your father 


introduced as Mr. Wilcox, of Ohio. Mr. Wilcox remarked : 
' Some three years since you called on me, stating that in con- 
sequence of the failure of your professorship you had to act 
as agent for the seminary. At that time I did not feel pre- 
pared to do any thing of that kind, but must say it was a 
matter of regret to me that I refused you such aid, and have 
now called on you to relieve myself of that regret.' 

" He then placed in your father's hands the sum of S300 
and went his way. As soon as he left, your father said, 
' Now, wife, we will go. God has provided the means in 
twenty minutes.' 

" We took passage from Boston, July 1, in the Caledonia. 
Edward, accompanying us to the steamer, handed his father 
875 as a present from W. W. Stone, and soon we were out 
on the Atlantic." 

The following incident is mentioned by Dr. Beecher in a 
letter written on board ship to the children at Hartford : 
" On the Sabbath it was expected Episcopal service would 
be celebrated, and all assembled in the cabin — about two 
hundred. The audience was seated as Nettleton could have 
desired, and I longed to preach, but had made no prep- 
aration ; when lo ! just as service was to begin, the captain, 
stimulated, I suppose, by the curiosity of the passengers, 
came to say he was not till recently apprised that I was a 

clergyman ; but, as Mr. would read the service, he 

would be obliged to me to deliver a short address. 

" I took for my text, ' God so loved the world that he 
gave his only begotten Son to die, that whosoever believeth 
in him might not perish, but have everlasting life,' and spoke 
in such a free, untrammeled, earnest, affectionate, extempore, 
and applicatory manner for thirty or forty minutes, that they 
all heard too earnestly to be accurate judges of the time; 
for, as old Deacon Tallmadge used to say, 'I spoke to be re- 


freshed from the fullness of a clear head and a warm heart, 
and felt the better for it.' " 

The letter is filled with the ordinary details of a sea 
voyage and a brief description of Liverpool — " a great city 
of brick and mortar strung along on the banks of the Mer- 
sey, bordered with 120,000 acres of docks, and a swamp of 
masts, and great high, clumsy warehouses, the streets, like 
Boston, of all widths, and angles, and wedges." 

In conclusion he adds, " Please note that this is my first 
letter. I have crossed the t's and dotted the i's." 

*' We spent two days in Liverpool," continues Mrs. Beech- 
er, " then went to Glasgow and Edinburg, visiting several 
distinguished clergymen, and, above all. Dr. Chalmers, with 
whom we breakfasted, and whom we heard preach at a mis- 
sion station which he had established in the midst of a des- 
titute population. 

" Your father preached, in the afternoon of the Sabbath 
we spent there, at a place called ' Cannon Mills,' where the 
'Free Church' resorted at the time of the separation. We 
visited schools and other public institutions of Edinburg by 
invitation. The evening before we left he delivered a Tem- 
perance address before the ' Scottish Temperance League.' 
On the morning of July 30th we left for London, stopping 
at York a few hours, where we visited the ' Minster,' the 
oldest cathedral in the kingdom. Arrived at London in 
the evening. Found several American friends at Fitz Roy 
Square, where we put up. 

" While there we called at Baring Brothers, and visited 
St. Paul's. After seeing all of interest below, we ascended 
the tower 260 feet. Your father, not satisfied with that 
height, insisted upon going to the top, 404 feet, and then 
crept into the ball on the summit, much to the astonish- 
ment of the guide. 


" The next day we -went to St. John's Church to hear 
Baptist ]!^oel preach, and the day following took up our 
abode with a friend at Regent's Park. 

" July Yth father prepared a speech on Temperance, to 
be deUvered at ' Covent Garden Theatre,' where an immense 
crowd was gathered. August 8th he prepared ' a letter for 
all Christendom' upon the subject of Temperance. On the 
9th he preached in the Tabernacle to a vast audience. In 
the evening he delivered a Temperance lecture in ' Portland 
Chapel.' It was said the chapel was never before so well 

"The 10th of August he met a committee to confer upon 
arrangements for the '- AUicmce.'' In the afternoon he met 
friends at Alexander's to confer upon Abolitionism in Amer- 
ica. He gave an account of slavery from the time that we 
were a colony. By cordial invitation, we made it our stay 
at Mr. Alexander's the remainder of the time we spent in 

"Your father preached and lectured on Temperance re- 
peatedly after this, and was also very much absorbed in 
matters pertaining to the Alliance. I remember, after he 
had closed his sermon at Crown Chapel, a brother of the 
pastor, Rev. Mr. Leifchild, said to me, ' My dear madam, go 
home and take care of that blessed man, for his like is not 
to be found.' 

"On the 12th we took passage from Liverpool on the 
Great Western for home. Had preaching in the morning 
next day by Mr. Balch, of New York, and husband in the 
evening. On Saturday night, the 19th, a violent hurricane 
came on, which continued iintil Monday. The fierceness of 
the storm was beyond description. We had no expectation 
of being saved. Sunday noon, as many as could assembled 
in the saloon for religious services. I am told by our friend 


(Dr. Marsh) that after the services your father addressed 
himself thus to those present : ' I have seen Christ, and have 
the assurance that not one of us will be lost. Be of good 
cheer.' After this meeting it is worthy of record that the 
' lorecking^ ceased, though the wind increased. We arrived 
in New York on the 27th. The remainder of the voyage 
after the storm, as you would suppose, was comfortless." 




In December, 1847, a case was argued in the Supreme 
Court of Ohio in bank, entitled " Lyman Beecher adv. The 
State of Ohio, Quo Warranto. On the Itelation of David 
Kemper ^"^ The writ was served at Dr. Beecher's residence 
in October, 1845. He retained as counsel S. P. Chase, H. 
Starr, and Charles L. Telford. The following extracts from 
the argument in Dr. Beecher's defense may be of interest : 

" In the case at bar, if we may follow the general inter- 
pretation of the act already given by this court, the com- 
plaint must have been made within three years after the 
cause for the ouster of Dr. Beecher arose. 

" The cause of ouster, in this case, must be contemporane- 
ous with the inauguration of Dr. Beecher into his office, or 
else it must have arisen at some time subsequent to that. 
Either his entry into office was an intrusion, and that intru- 
sion is the cause of ouster ; or, his entry into office being 
lawful, something has been done or suffered whereby his 
farther continuance in office became illegal and intrusive, 
and such act or omission is the cause of ouster. 

" The documentary evidence fixes all dates in respect to 
the appointment and installation of Dr. Beecher into his 
present office as Professor of Theology, etc., and shows also 
the period when he became de facto the Professor, etc. 

" He was appointed January 23d, 1832. His appointment 
was ratified by the board in October, 1832, and upon the 
26th of December, in the same year, he actually entered 
upon the performance of the duties, and into the enjoyment 

' QUO WAKEANTO. • 525 

of the rights, profits, and privileges of his professorship. 
He has been professor de facto ever since. 

" Now, upon the hypothesis that his appointment was ir- 
regular, and that he was ineligible and unqualified at the 
date of it, and at the date of his actual entry into office, the 
statute must have commenced running, at the latest, on the 
26th of December, 1832, for on that day he consummated his 
usurpation and investment of office. From that day there 
"was cause of ouster ; and from that until the commence- 
ment of proceedings in this case, more than twelve years 

"But the only serious claim on the part of the relation in 
this case is, that a cause of ouster intervened subsequent to 
the appointment. In one word, that Dr. Beecher, at some 
period subsequent to his installation, ceased to be ' a mem- 
ber of the Presbyterian Church in good standing, under the 
care of the General Assembly of that Church in the United 
States,^ and thereby became disqualified to hold his profess- 
orship, and that the cause of ouster arose when that dis- 
qualification supervened. 

"The only matter of forfeiture or disqualification suggest- 
ed is not personal to the defendant. It embraces and un- 
churches one half of those who esteem themselves, even yet, 
members of the Presbyterian Church, under the care of the 
General Assembly of that Church in the United States. 
The matter of disqualification out of which the forfeiture of 
defendant's right of office accrued is that convulsion which, 
in the language of Gibson^ Ch. J.^ 1 Sergeant S Watts, 9, 
' dismembered the Presbyterian body.' 

" In that great division of the Presbyterian body into two 
masses of nearly equal magnitude, it was the fortune or the 
choice of the defendant to tabernacle with the heretics, him- 
self an arch heresiarch. 


*' It is not a lack of learning, or a want of diligence and 
fervor in the service of his Master, that works the forfeiture. 
These are disqualifications which might have crept upon 
him so gradually that no mortal eye could discern the point 
of decline, or coldness or imbecility which unfitted him for 
his duties, and at which the forfeiture of his rights became 

" We have no such vague, dubious, and conjectural ele- 
ments to deal with here. The point of time at which the 
connection of Dr. Beecher with the Old School General As- 
sembly was sundered is fixed and distinct, and that is the 
time when the cause of ouster arose. Dr. Beecher was a 
commissioner to the General Assembly which met at Phila- 
delphia on the 17th day of May, 1838. He took part in 
those scenes in the church at Ranstead Court which form 
the crisis of the controversy and dissolution of the Presby- 
terian Church. See M^Elroifa Bejjort^ pages 242 and 246, 
apud the testimony of Charles F. Worrall and of Dr. Hill. 

*' According to the recollection of Mr. Worrall, Dr. Beech- 
er was a most prominent actor and most emphatic voter on 
that occasion. Speaking of the motion made by Mr. Cleave- 
land, nominating Dr. Beman to the chair, Mr. Worrall states : 
'Some were standing on the seats, some on the tops of the 
pews. Immediately I heard a general yell of " ay," and 
there was one "ay" louder than the rest. It was Dr. 
Beecher, of Cincinnati, who made the loud yell." It is true 
that the testimony of the venerable Dr. Hill, who sat in the 
pew immediately behind Dr. Beecher, contradicts this wit- 
ness in the matters of indecorum which are imputed to the 
defendant, but establishes the fact of his presence, of his 
calm, deliberate vote upon the motion referred to, and that 
he took the side, on that day, of those who have since been 
designated as the New School Presbyterians. 


" On that day, when Dr. Beecher and his associates ad- 
journed in a body, with their moderator at their head, from 
the church in Ranstead Court to the church in Washington 
Square, he ceased to be a member of that body which the 
relator esteems and claims to be the General Assembly of 
the Presbyterian Church of the United States. That was 
the day on which he forfeited his rights to the professor- 
ship in the seminary, and on that day the Statute of Limita- 
tions began to run against the relators of his heresy and at- 
tainder. * * =5« 

"And surely, if ever there was a defendant in whose be- 
half this statute of peace might well be pleaded, he is now 
before the court in the person of this venerable servant of 
God and man. 

"He was the pioneer professor of the seminary from 
which this court is invoked to remove him. It was the 
prestige of his name which secured the foundation and en- 
dowment of its professorships ; and his personal and zeal- 
ous devotion of fifteen years of labor, in every useful capaci- 
ty of instruction, of government, of farther endowment, of 
nursing, economizing, and consolidating the scanty and mis- 
cellaneous resources of the institution, would be most un- 
gratefully requited by a judgment of this court expelling 
him from his seat as an intruder and a heretic. "We make 
no appeal, however, to these considerations, except to justi- 
fy before the court our desire to avoid the discussion of the 
old and envenomed topics of controversy which are involved 
in some of the issues submitted." 

We do not propose a very minute examination of the 
case, which properly pertains to the history of the institu- 
tion. The following is the only allusion to the subject we 
ever recollect to have heard from Dr. Beecher's lips. It 
occurred in the course of a conversation on his success 


in building up the Second Church and the seminary to- 
gether : 

" That was an interesting era in my life. I did more good 
by corning there and having a pastoral charge, for my suc- 
cess in that was equal to ordinary, and the congregation 
was built up, besides establishing a first-rate theological sem- 
inary. I preached to my congregation as well as if I had 
been altogether with them, and lectured in the seminary 
much better than if I had had no congregation. 

" But one of the chief things, I consider, in building up 
Lane Seminary was the power of mind and the wealth that 
was in the Second Church. There was Judge Burnet, and 
Mr. Groesbeck, and Wright, and Starr, and others, who came 
forward and subscribed largely, or we should not have got 
half through, especially during the time of those trials. The 
trustees wanted me to draw out a regular history of that 

"It was a vexatious suit, and vexatious enough they found 
it. A very large sum of money was spent in trying to turn 
the faculty out of office ; but the fact is, we outwinded them. 
We served them just as they ought to be served." 




The following letter was written by Rev. Thomas Brain- 
erd, D.D., of Philadelphia, and published in the Xew York 
Evangelist. "We offer no apology for its preservation here. 

" When Dr. Beecher reached Cincinnati in 1832, he found 
me there a young man of twenty-eight years of age, engaged 
in pastoral labor in the Fourth Presbyterian Church. In 
about one year I left the Church to become editor of the 
Cincinnati Journal, then the leading religious newspaper of 
the Great Valley. As Dr. Beecher resided two miles from 
the city, and held a professorship in Lane Seminary, he and 
his session desired me, as I had no pastoral care, to aid 
him in his pastoral supervision of the Second Presbyterian 

" To this I consented, and this brought me into intimate 
and almost daily intercourse with him for two years. I gen- 
erally worshiped in his Church on the Sabbath, and attend- 
ed with him upon his lectures, prayer-meetings, funerals, 
and many of his pastoral visitations. This continued about 
two years, so that I had ample opportunities to know Dr. 
Beecher and to estimate his character. Besides this, he has 
been at my house half a score of times, and spent weeks with 
us. I have now lived over fifty years, with all of my pro- 
fessional life in the crowd of cities, and must say that no 
man except Dr. Beecher ever waked in my mind the rever- 
ence, admiration, confidence, and affection which for the 
time absorbed heart and will, and led me captive, a willing 

Vol. IJ.— Z 


devotee. Toward him alone have I had the enthusiasm by 
which I could cheerfully suffer /or him and with him, both 
of which I have repeatedly done. I believe Dr. Beecher had 
kindled the same sentiments in many others East and West. 

" How he did this it may be difficult to explain, but I can 
give my own experience. He brought with him to the West 
a great reputation. We all regarded him as the first minis- 
ter of New England ; and while this reputation invested 
him with power, the perfect absence of magisterial dignity 
and pretense allowed us easy approach, and a familiarity 
that flattered us all. He was a mount that burned with fire 
'that might be touched.' We soon saw and felt that he 
came among us for no selfish ends. He held his whole be- 
ing subject to the promotion of Christ's kingdom, and he 
rejoiced in all the genius, learning, eloquence, and influence 
of all or any of his brethren, regarding their gifts as his cap- 
ital with which the good cause might be advanced. If any 
other one rejoiced in his own abilities or good work, ' he 

" Her had no small ambitions. He left to his brethren, un- 
challenged, all the influence they could gain by person, dress, 
and address, social assiduities, minute learning, and niceties 
of style ; he left to his brethren, if they desired it, all eccle- 
siastical offices and preaching prominence, if the people 
would consent, at ordinations ^nd installations ; he left to 
his brethren so much that he hardly seemed to be in the 
way of any, while all felt his deference to their persons and 
claims, and, therefore, they all rose to aid and bless him in 
the great field of thought and enterprise which he occupied ; 
and he was so willing to invite the sympathy and aid of oth- 
ers in all his great eflbrts, that they seemed to share with 
him in all the good efiected. If good was done, he cared 
little by whom, or who had the credit for it. He made all 


around him feel that they were necessary to him. If he had 
a grand thought or splendid scheme, he shared it with them, 
and took their suggestions, so that, when the matter was ac- 
complished, all said ' we did it.' 

" His hopefulness gave cheerfulness, and his wit frequent 
merriment to every circle he met ; and while all felt the 
majesty of his great genius, there was in him enough of 
plainness, naivete, and peculiarity to disarm envy or jeal- 
ousy. So far from his general bearing indicating hauteur 
and self-satisfaction, there seemed to be exactly the oppo- 
site — a self-forgetfulness and humility that allowed and in- 
vited the sympathy and sustaining efforts of his friends. 
He had naturally great confidence in others, and was not 
so satisfied with himself, his opinions, or his plans as to be 
indifferent to the judgment of his friends. Like a great 
ship turned by a very small helm, he let his friends have 
the satisfaction of feeling that he was not insensible to their 

" But all these would have failed in creating his surpris- 
ing influence with his friends, had they been separated from 
an admiration of his great genius, and a love for his great 
purity and goodness of heart. He united a wonderful orig- 
inality of thought, a fertile imagination, with a power of lan- 
guage by which he could originate a maxim of wisdom, con- 
dense it in the smallest compass, incase it in a striking and 
beautiful illustration, and then throw it out with a force of 
manner almost to keep it moving forever. Thus in regard 
to the Shepherd Church of Cambridge. Some one said it 
would die in the shade of Harvard College. ' No,' said Dr. 
Beecher, ' 'twill live ; the blood of atonement beats ip its 
veins.' In a lecture on education, he said, ^ Uneducated 
mind is educated vice.' On the effect of a state relio-ion he 
says, 'They brought the world into the temple and "^turned 


the Church out.' He thus put in the minds of hearers max- 
ims of wisdom which they used and circulated as proverbs, 
and they are circulating them yet. 

" His sayings have been more frequently quoted in pub- 
lic and private life than those of any other American, Ben- 
jamin FrankUn alone excepted. He thus had an influence 
denied to those who seemed his equals or superiors in gen- 
ius. Men quoted his sayings not alone as oddities, or wit- 
ticisms, or coruscations, not for their shining originality, but 
for their profound wisdom. He w^as regarded as a deep, 
broad, comprehensive, and safe man, whom it was wise to 
trust. His congregations left his preaching presence not in 
giddy admiration of his genius, originality, and dramatic 
power, but penetrated by the great truths he had lodged in 
their memories. Others have shared richly in his genius, 
but, as they have failed to inspire confidence in their wis- 
dom, they will never reach his world-wide influence. Their 
sayings are quoted for amusement, for admiration of their 
wit and originality, but seldom as maxims of truth or rules 
for thought and life. Hence they sustain to Dr. Lyman 
Beecher the relation of comets to a fixed star. One is of 
the month, the other of ages upon ages. 

" And here I may allude to B fact which I have not seen 
noticed. There was about Dr. Beecher great 'hidings of 
power.' He threw around him an atmosphere which his 
brethren felt to be peculiar. You are at an anniversary in 
Boston. One hundred clergymen of the first class are on 
the platform. You know them, respect them, and perhaps 
admire them. But when Lyman Beecher enters you have 
a new sensation. There is mystery and majesty about that 
plain, ruddy, nervous old man, which begets awe and rev- 
erence. Have we not all felt this in his best days, and had 
a shading of it on us even to the close of his life ? We 


have felt that, like a great sea or a great mountain, Lyman 
Beecher had heights and depths of greatness which we had 
never exhausted. He was most ready and frank in commu- 
nication, but the depth, and force, and fertility of the stream 
only led us to a higher e'fetimate of the resources of the hid- 
den, exhaustless fountain. I mean no disrespect to any body 
when I express the opinion that in massive talent Lyman 
Beecher stood among his brethren like Daniel Webster in 
the Senate — alone. 

" I have no space here to trace any proper delineation of 
Dr. Beecher. I owe to the memory of his love, confidence, 
and steady friendship a debt which I shall not attempt to 
discharge. In what remains of this communication I desire 
to recall him to his friends and to his ministerial brethren 
in some of his marked i^eculiarities. Dr. Beecher's wit was 
perennial, and it derived an attraction from his blunt, quaint 
mode of expression. I close with a few specimens, which 
I heard from his own lips. I could furnish a great store of 
similar ones. 

"I was dining with him in Cincinnati in 1833. His daugh- 
ter, coming in from a ride, told how a little dog had started 
from a door-step as she passed, rushed through the door- 
yard, around through the fence, came to her horse, opened 
his mouth, and was — silent. * Don't you know the cause of 
that ?' said the doctor. ' No,' said Catharine. * Why, it was 
a case of vox hcesit faiicihus^ said the doctor. 

"A brother minister was making a lame argument in 
Presbytery. ' Brainerd,' said the doctor, ' I had rather be 
before that gun than behind it.' 

"Another minister of the Presbytery, who, by-the-by, was 
a New England man, but greatly alarmed for the orthodoxy 
of the Church, had a habit of looking up and swinging his 
head to and fro while he belabored the New School. In the 


midst of one of his prosy speeches the doctor grew impa- 
tient. ' Brainerd,' said he, ' did you ever know a man who 
looked to heaven so much for light and got so little ?' 

" A newspaper at Oberlin had said that other seminaries 
only sent out great theological babies. 'Better send out 
great babies than little ones,' he remarked. 

" Rev. Dr. Wilson wished us to try Dr. Beecher on com- 
mon fame of heresy in the West. Dr. Beecher replied that 
this common fame was made' by Wilson himself. 'One 
wolf,' said he, ' will howl on the mountains in so many tones 
you'd think there were a dozen.' 

" In traveling with him in the deep mud of Kentucky, in 
1834, our stage stuck. The doctor started across the ditch 
for a rail. ' Stop,' said I, ' doctor, let me go. I have boots 
on, and you shoes.' 'No,' says he, 'I haven't shoes on ; they 
are both there sticking in the ditch.' On the same journey 
we were twice upset. Some were timid, but the doctor was 
entirely unmoved. 'My passage,' said he, 'is paid.' He 
seemed incapable of fear. 

" I once asked him if he found any difficulty in sustaining 
himself amid the pulpit competitions of great cities. ' !N"o,' 
said he ; ' I have had the hardest race with myself.' 

"The question was up in the Presbytery of Cincinnati 
whether we should divide a village church ? ' Make two,' 
says Dr. Beecher ; ' Adam and grace will do twice as much 
as grace alone.' 

" He was urging meekness on his Church in Cincinnati. 
He told them 'that in the entire constellation of their Chris- 
tian virtues it would require a telescope of unusual power 
to discern the grace of meekness.' While he said this he 
suited the action to the word, as if peering into the heavens. 

" In discussing before his class whether the planets were 
peopled, he said : ' If any body was there and saw our earth, 


and inferred it was inhabited, they would be right, for we 
are here. Now,' says he, ' we'll put the bullet into the oth- 
er end of the gun and fire it back again.' 

" I have written enough for the present. I shall be satis- 
fied if this crude sketch shall avail to recall the blessed mem- 
ory of the dear old doctor to his friends." 




As early as 1843 Dr. Beecher had resigned his pastoral 
relation to the Second Church. In his letter to the Session 
he had said, 

" This can not be done, I find, without an emotion such 
as I have never experienced before in resigning a pastoral 
charge. Each of my three resignations hitherto has been 
with reference to the anticipated formation of another in 
the bosom of an affectionate people, while this closes prob- 
ably my pastoral relations and labors, and consigns me 
wholly to another sphere of employment, that I may be 
permitted to consecrate my energies wholly to the rear- 
ing uj) a ministry for the West. In this, though my heart 
must make sacrifices, my judgment and conscience are sat- 

He still continued, however, to preach on the Sabbath as 
occasion offered, either at the seminary chapel or in some 
of the newly-organized churches of the city. 

In 1847 (March 22) he writes, " I have been preaching for 
two months in the Seventh Street Church. Numbers at 
first small ; all Church-members nearly ; almost no congre- 
gation. I began, six weeks ago, to preach strong revival 
sermons to the Church and also to sinners, with as strong 
revival fullness as I ever had, and as great power in preach- 
ing. By God's mercy, it has raised up the Church to pray- 
er and effort, in as favorable a state as I ever knew a Church. 
The congregation is increasing, and sinners begin to be 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1847-51, 537 

awakened. I attended an inquiry meeting yesterday, and 
expect to once or twice a week. 

" As I have not been able to get my whole salary at the 
seminary for a number of years past, and as they are now 
getting out of debt by the rise of land and property, so that 
they will soon be endowed and able to pay me, I have be- 
come quite unexpectedly rich in my old age; so that, if I 
should be incapable of self-support for a season before being 
called home, I may perhaps piece out life without calling on 
children or others for aid." 

April 30 of the same year he writes to Esther, then visit- 
ing at Fort Wayne: "A letter from you is the greatest of 
novelties, and of all most welcome. This winter, for the first 
time since I had children, I have been without one at home 
or near me, and really good as my wife is, it will seem lone- 
ly, and makes time often hang heavy on my spirits. At 
length I made up my mind firmly to write and tell you it 
did not signify, you must come on and help to fill the aching 
void, when lo ! your letter came, the more welcome because 
spontaneous, and evidently the result of vacancies and long- 
ings somewhat like my own, and especially as you seemed 
to have such a kind of longing for me as was prompting me 
to write to you. 

" Our arrangements for the summer are to stay at home 
and keep house, so come quick and see if we can not allevi- 
ate the leaden weight of time by communing of the present 
and of the unforgotten past, which at length begins to loom 
up, and seem bigger and brighter in the distance. So pleas- 
ant is retrospection, I wonder we did not enjoy it more 
when we had it in possession. 

"As for Scotland, about which you ask, they are all 
Scotch Yankees ; and as for London, they — the middle 
classes — are well-bred Americans, and London itself is as 

Z 2 


pretty a city as any in America except New Haven, which 
is the prettiest in the world, seen or unseen." 

Then, after mentioning the conversion of Thomas and the 
encouraging condition of James, he continues : " Oh what 
mercies of our God and Savior, in giving us heart and wis- 
dom to guide and guard so large a family, of so much mind 
and impetus, through such a world as this to himself and to 
heaven ! And how precious to you must be the thought 
that your presence, and that of your mother in and around 
my family, with your care, counsel, example, and prayers, 
will no doubt be found in the last day to have had a deep 
and decisive influence in their conversion and usefulness, and 
jDreparation for heaven. So I, and so all of us think, and in 
thinking so, I can not open my mouth to thank you, because 
words are inadequate to express my constant and unsleep- 
ing gratitude for your love and care of me and mine in those 
vicissitudes of sorrow when none but you could have filled 
a mother's place. 

"But pen and ink are cold. Come and let us pray to- 
gether, and give thanks together for what the Lord has 
done for us, and, if the Lord will, come to be no more sepa- 
rated from me till he shall call us home to be reunited to 
those happy spirits, Roxana, Mary Hubbard, Harriet Porter, 
George Beecher, and the multitude with whom we have 
taken sweet counsel in joy and sorrow, and Sabbath wor- 
ship, and missions, and revivals, which have filled up so 
many of our days. 

" Love to all at Fort Wayne. Ask Charles why he don't 
write to me in my lonely, childless state — that old gentle- 
man that rode seventy miles in twenty hours to see him safe- 
ly launched in the ministry." 

May 6, 1847, he writes to his son William: "I have re- 
ceived a letter from the moderator of Erie Presbytery, say- 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1847-51. 539 

ing they have declmed to send commissioners to the ap- 
proaching Assembly at Cincinnati, from disbelief in some, 
and doubt in others, of the constitutionality of the Assem- 
bly, and we hear of some others doing the same ; while all 
accounts agree that the slaveholding portion will send every 
man, so as to rule Graham's case against us,* which, if they 
should do it, would split off half our "Western Church and 
more too, and, between vexation and discouragement, send 
many to Congregationalism, and some to Old School and 
some to Independent Presbyterianism, and, on the whole, 
leave us but a remnant to be saved. 

" It is not safe to risk it. Analogy shows that the South 
and West slaveholders in civil matters are mad, and will do 
what they can. Constitution or no Constitution, and the cler- 
gy are bound hand and foot to their chariot-wheels, drive 
they never so furiously. I hope, therefore, you will be able 
to make arrangements to come." 

July 3, 1847, to his son at Fort Wayne he writes, "Your 
account of your two children, in their developments, seems 
as if you had got some of my old letters to Grandmother 
Foote, from 1808 to 1817, when a succession of young peo- 
ple began to give premonition of an order of mind such as 
Roxana and I had not seen. Their elements of language 
are doubtless innate knowledge, or else the dim reminiscen- 
ces of their pre-existent state, fast vanishing away by the 
diversions and exigencies of this world. God speed them to 
good scholarship, and a copious assortment of good thoughts 
and powerful and burning words, till they shall pass from the 
dialect of earth to that of heaven — the old forgotten lan- 
guage, I suppose. Don't you think, if we could any how 
get a peep at the libraries above, we could make some splen- 

* Mr. Graham had written a book in defense of slaveholding, which 
the Cincinnati Presbytery had condemned. 


did discoveries, Tvhich exist, spite of our telescopic minds, 
very much not ' /n,' but ' ultra niibihus?^ " 

N^ovemher 2, 1847. The following is from a letter to Henrv 
Ward : " Here I am in my study all alone, not a child at 
home, and having now until bedtime nothing in particular 
to do, I have concluded to write a letter to every one of my 
children as fast as I can write them, so as to get an answer 
at least once a month or six weeks — a swamp of letters 
around me, the best compensation for their presence ; and 
having now your bright, loving, witty countenance beaming- 
down upon me, I begin to write to you, because, also, you 
have so recently passed away to other interesting scenes 
in Brooklyn, about which I wish you to tell me, as historic- 
ally and chronologically as you can — a letter full, and quicl\ 
or I shall soon have another letter after you. I know yon 
have many cares, but I have never given a quit-claim to all 
your time, and I beheve your conscience and heart will both 
say you ought to give me the run of your doings, and con- 
tribute your portion to keep me somewhat filled with the 
conversation of my children. 

"For the first time in my public hfe I have now no pas- 
toral responsibihties and stated preaching on the Sabbath, 
when my month shall be out at the seminary chapel. What 
shall I do — a soul without a body ? But the Lord will pro- 
vide, for preach I must, so long as flesh and heart fail not." 

January 2, 1848. To the same he writes, "You are a 
good boy for writing me that long, comforting letter. It 
cheered us all. I thank you for your Thanksgiving sermon ; 
and though I could not write as you do, it is a pleasure to 
think that perhaps you have breathed an atmosphere with 
me without which you might not have been able to do it. 
Tou can not conceive how much joy your successful revi- 
val labors afford me, and that efficient influence you are be- 

CORRESPONDENCE, 1847-51. 541 

ginniDg to exert on the public mind, somewhat in the way 
God has helped me to do ; and that so near the close of my 
day I see the wisdom of God and the power of God in 
younger hands, to send on the glorious, growing work down 
through another generation. God preserve and bless you I" 

In the summer of 1S50 Dr. Beecher resigned the Theolog- 
ical Professorship in Lane Seminary. His views and feel- 
ings in so doing are expressed in the following extract of a 
letter written some months previously : 

" I approach this change, not with the regrets of mortified 
ambition, but with the concurrence of my sober judgment 
in respect to its expediency at my time of life, and from a 
long-cherished purpose and earnest desire to withdraw from 
any considerable responsibility as soon as the finances of the 
seminary would permit, that I may give undivided attention 
to some of my own writings, which without my revision 
must be useless, and which, if it pleases God to spare me 
with health a little longer, I think may be useful to the 
Church of God, in which I am sustained by the opinions and 
wishes of many." 

Appropriate resolutions were adopted by the trustees, in 
which, after expressing their high esteem and afiection, they 
declare " that without his generous co-operation they do not 
believe this school of the Prophets could have been estab- 
lished on its present broad and liberal basis, and appoint him 
'Emeritus Professor of Theology,' requesting him, at the 
same time, to retain the presidency of the institution." 

In December, 1850, he writes to Dr. Taylor, expressing 
his views and feelings in relation to a recent attack on Tale 
College, with which he had been represented as sympathiz- 
ing. " * * * ^g £qj. Yale, she is my mother, the au- 
thor of my literary and theological being, and of all my la- 


bors for the Church of God, and if I do not defend her when 
assailed, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. 

" And as to you, my brother, with whom for forty years 
I have been associated in affection, and confidence, and coun- 
sels, and prayers, and revivals, and missions, and reforma- 
tions, and joys, and sorrows, till the shades of evening be- 
gin to fall upon us, and the light of other suns through faith 
begin to brighten upon our upward vision, what shall I say ? 
Had others seen and known what I have seen and known 
of the integrity of your heart and the grief of your soul from 
the commencement of these trials, you would need no other 
exposition or advocate ; and all that now I have to say or 
need to say is, very precious hast thou been unto me, my 
brother, and precious art thou still, and precious forever 
wilt thou be, I doubt not, in the presence and glory of our 
common Lord." 




In May, 1851, Dr. Beecher left the West and returned to 
New England. His son-in-law, Professor Stowe, had pre- 
ceded him, and was now residing in Brunswick, Maine. 
Thither the doctor at first turned his steps, and spent the 
summer in preparing his writings for the press, with the as- 
sistance of his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Louisa Dickinson. In 
the fall he returned to Boston, where his son. Dr. Edward 
Beecher, was residing as pastor of Salem Church, having, 
since 1844, resigned the presidency of Illinois College. 

Here, " in his own hired house," at No. 18 Hay ward Place, 
Dr. Beecher pursued his literary labors, issuing the first vol- 
ume of his works in 1852, and the third in 1853, comj)rising 
his Lectures on Political Atheism, his Sermons on Intemper- 
ance, his Occasional Sermons, and his Views in Theology. 

These volumes were brought out by John P. Jewett & 
Co., just after the publication, by the same firm, of Uncle 
Tom's Cabin, and just before the appearance of The Con- 
flict of Ages, formidable competitors, both, for the public at- 
tention. The series of volumes, however, was not destined 
to be completed. The Autobiography was still to be writ- 
ten. Considerable progress was made, however, in the prep- 
aration of materials for the same. Assisted by his daughter- 
in-law, he collated, endorsed, and arranged a vast mass of 
papers, and it is truly surprising, considering his apparently 
careless habits, how careful in some things he was found act- 
ually to have been. Of the numerous long and important 


letters written at different times in his life, he had rarely 
failed to preserve copies. His papers and MSS, might be, 
as has been described in a previous chapter, in admirable 
confusion, but, in spite of the chaos, he held on upon all doc- 
uments of real value with a tenacity and vigilance nothing 
could elude. Moreover, although he might generally neg- 
lect to cross his t's and dot his i's, it is worthy of special 
notice that he never failed to date his letters^ giving both 
the year, the month, and the day of the month, which is 
more than can be said of some of his posterity. Hence, 
when he came to collect and file the correspondence of his 
life, there was found, together with what came from col- 
lateral sources, enough for two biograj^hies. The whole pe- 
riod of his Western life might almost be written anew, with 
equal fullness, without using any of the material already 

During this period of his second residence in Boston, al- 
though his memory of names and places, and the copious- 
ness of language necessary for public speaking were failing, 
his inward trains of thought seemed as strong and as vivid 
as ever. It was in the course of 1853 and onward that, 
during successive visits at Mrs. Stowe's, in Andover, he re- 
lated the reminiscences which have been incorporated with 
these pages. That his memory was at this time entirely re- 
liable, except in relation to proper names and the chrono- 
logical order of events, is certain, his statements being in 
every instance fully corroborated, at a subsequent period, 
by his correspondence and other infallible data. In some 
cases we have found incidents better told in contemporary 
documents, but never contradicted or falsified in any mate- 
rial particular, while in repeated instances the oral narrative 
was most comprehensive, vivacious, and exact. 

Nor was he at this time at all indifferent to the theolog- 


ical controversies of the hour. On the contrary, he felt m 
them a peculiar interest, as being the logical sequel of those 
in which he had borne so prominent a part. The same 
great battle was still raging between Absolutism and Moral 
Government, although the leading champions and the field 
of conflict were singularly changed. Around Andover now 
was concentrating the fire that a while before had blazed 
against Xew Haven, and upon the successor of Dr. Woods 
was beating the storm of accusation which had formerly 
burst upon Dr. Taylor. 

The Panoplist, a thin and airy shadow of the ancient 
magazine of that name, had recently arisen to proclaim a 
new crisis like that which had aroused the zeal of a Morse 
and of an Evarts, and to assert the existence of a wide- 
spread and fatal apostasy begun in the nominally orthodox 
churches of Xew England. In defense of the great body of 
New England churches and ministers, an important part 
was performed by the Congregationalist, a weekly newspa- 
per established in 1850 for that purpose. In a masterly 
series of articles, through a period of several years, the real 
character and history of New England theology was set 
forth with comprehensiveness of survey, fullness of reading, 
and accuracy of discrimination. 

Among other articles was one on the philosophy of self- 
contradiction. Several of the most distinguished New En- 
gland divines, ancient and modern, were shown to have writ- 
ten on two, and some on three sides of the same question. 
The causes of the phenomenon were pointed out. One aft- 
er another of the former assailants of New Haven, now 
leagued against Andover, was stretched upon the rack by 
the imperturbable Congregationalist, with the utmost sang 
froid. Not a syllable of all this was lost on Dr.Beecher, 
who, while in his third volume successfully retorting a sim- 


ilar charge upon his Princeton accusers, saw more than po- 
etical justice meted out to their New England allies. The 
closing portion of his third volume, to which we have just 
referred, entitled " Remarks on the Princeton Review," was 
the last effort at composition in which the mind of Dr. 
Beecher was efficiently engaged. Traces of the same hand 
that indited the leaders of the Congregationalist are through- 
out that article apparent. It was a joint production, in 
which is fulfilled the saying of the Psalmist, "As arrows 
in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth ; 
happy is he that hath his quiver full of them ; they shall not 
be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the 

For several years after his return to Boston, Dr. Beecher 
continued to preach occasionally wherever his services were 
required ; attending divine worship, when not thus engaged, 
at Park Street, under the highly-appreciated ministrations 
of Rev. A. L. Stone, D.D. Nor were his labors at this time 
barren nor unfruitful in the Lord. Several churches in the 
vicinity were materially strengthened by his instrumentality. 
To have a revival was still his beau ideal of earthly felicity, 
and not a few gems, it is believed, were added to his crown 
in these autumn gleanings. 

The following incident is mentioned by Mrs. Beecher : 
" Before your father went to the West, at the time when he 
was laying the foundations of churches all around Boston, 
he and Dr. Chaplin, of Cambridgeport, had their eye on Wa- 
tertown, about three miles and a half from J;he college. 
There was but one Congregational Church in the place, and 
that was Unitarian, and as all the influential men belonged 
to that Church, it was difficult to gain a foothold there. 
They, however, rode out there one day to see if a location 
could be found on which to build a church, and see what 


could be done. They found a desirable lot, but somehow it 
become known that they had been there, and what their ob- 
ject was, and the ground was at once bought by one of the 
existing society. Dr. Chaplin died soon after, and your fa- 
ther finally left for the West without seeing his intentions 

*' On our return from the West, after an interval of twen- 
ty-five years, a gentleman called on your father to ask him 
if he would go to Watertown and preach in the Town Hall 
to a few persons who felt they must have the Gospel estab- 
lished there, and they had confidence, if he would come and 
preach for them, their number would soon be increased. 
* Yes,' he exclaimed, ' that I will ; I know of no place where 
I will so gladly bestow my labors ;' and then related to the 
young men what I have written above. 

"After a few weeks a Church was formed at a private 
house. They immediately, by your father's advice, settled 
a minister, and commenced and completed one of the most 
beautiful church buildings in the vicinity of Boston. It was, 
however, destroyed by fire about five years after it was 
built, but they have erected another on the site, commodi- 
ous and ornamental, and are in prosperous condition." 

Another scene of successful efibrt was at Andover, during 
a revival in Phillips Academy, a year or two after his return 
from the West. His preaching and private conversations 
were very much blessed, several of the young men dating 
their first religious impressions at that time. 

As time wore on, and his command of language contin- 
ued to decrease, he was obliged at length to give up preach- 
ing entirely. At the same time, the efibrt to compose his 
autobiography was reluctantly abandoned, and all his ser- 
mons, letters, and other MSS. confided to the charge of his 


After the papers had all been given up, he spent several 
days in going over them, and giving his last directions and 
any incidents suggested. Every sermon seemed to have a 
history. There were discourses dating back to East Hamp- 
ton ; others composed in Litchfield ; others still in Boston 
or Cincinnati ; and not a few consisting of a composite of 
all the difierent eras, showing how the sermon had been 
revised and rewritten. Here was a page in the old East 
Hampton handwriting, here another of the Litchfield stamp, 
and here others of still later appearance. 

As he handled them over for the last time his heart was 
filled with regret. It was the warrior bidding farewell to 
trusty sword and spear. He gazed upon them with tears. 
" Oh," he exclaimed, " if I might have but just ten years 
more, I could preach so much better !" But the necessity 
was inexorable ; the sacrifice must be completed ; and after 
all of reminiscence had been caught and preserved that 
could be, he went his way, sermonless and sorrowful. 

After this, the Old South morning prayer-meeting became, 
while he continued to reside in Boston, his main depend- 
ence — a kind of citadel on which he fell back to fight against 
decay to the last, and many were the brilliant flashes and bold 
sallies which reminded his brethren of what he had been. 

Yet, while his mind was gradually retreating and hiding 
itself as in some deep mysterious cave, he was still, as to his 
bodily powers, muscular, healthful, and vigorous. " The day 
he was eighty-one," remarks Professor Stowe, "he was with 
me in Andover, and wished to attend my lecture in the sem- 
inary. He was not quite ready when the bell rang, and I 
walked on in the usual path without him. Presently he 
came skipping along across lots, laid his hand on top of the 
five-barred fence, which he cleared at a bound, and was in 
the lecture-room before me." 


After leaving the West, all coiTespondence for the most 
part ceased. One of the last attempts at letter writing was 
in October, 1855, on the occasion of a birthday visit from 
one of his granddaughters named Roxana, to whose mother 
he wrote, 

" You have well done to send the ' well-beloved name,' 
never forgotten, and more and more appreciated as time 
brings our long-delayed communion near, w^ith one not sep- 
arated by a thin partition, but standing at the door." 

The last letter, so far as is known, he ever wrote, was 
addressed to Professor Allen, of Lane Seminary, in Septem- 
ber, 1857. "It has," says Dr. Allen, "at once the move- 
ment of his magnificent style of thought and expression, 
and of an intellect struggling to break through the cloud 
that was steadily gathering over it. It was the result of 
the sixth distinct effort to reply to a letter inclosing a draft 
of about $1000, in part payment of his claims against the 
seminary for unpaid salary. It was as follows : 

" ' Dear Friend, — There are moments of hope and fear, 
and apprehension and relief, that may fill the soul. We 
knew that you would be pressed to advance the successive 
portions of our needed income, and of course our hopes left 
us in not a little doubt. 

"'But when increasing earthquakes swept over you in 
ceaseless continuousness, our hearts died within us, or waked 
only to hear that all was lost. When, therefore, on yester- 
day morning, on our first arrival home, your opened letter 
told me that all was well, with all the testimonials, it re- 
quired time and an effort for our astonishment to get up, 
and to wake up our realizations, and to clothe our thoughts 
with wonder, gratitude, and praise. As soon as tears and 
emotion would permit, we bowed to God together, and, as 


the pious Montauk woman said to her benefactor, " I think, 
Colonel Gardiner, God inclined you to give me this meat. 
I thank you, also. Colonel Gardiner" — and in our condition, 
we think God inclined you to do these things, and we thank 
you too, brother, for all your care of us.' " 

It may be stated here that, on his resignation of his pro- 
fessorship at Lane Seminary, the trustees of the institution 
gave Dr. Beecher their note of $3800 for arrears of salary, 
on which interest was regularly paid during his residence in 
Boston. In 1852 a number of gentlemen in Boston, of Dr. 
Beecher's old friends, presented him with a life annuity of 
$500, to which several of his children pledged an additional 
sum of 1400 per annum, so that ample provision might not 
be wanting for the comfort and respectability of his declin- 
ing years. On his removal to Brooklyn, the note of the 
trustees of Lane Seminary was paid, and the money appro- 
priated as part of the price of a commodious residence on 
Willow Street, not far from the spot where he stopped two 
nights in 1 802, with Uncle Justin Foote, when, as already 
stated, " there was no town there but only his house," and 
when he sent home his horse by the stage-driver, and re- 
turned to East Hampton on board a sloop. 






In ISSe-Y Dr.Beecher removed to Brooklyn, L. I., where, 
after a few months' residence with his son Henry Ward, he 
removed to his own honse on Willow Street, an engraving 
of which appears in the vignette. From the first he be- 
came a constant attendant on divine worship at Plymouth 
Church, both on the Lord's Day, and at all prayer and con- 


ference meetings during the week. No longer able to con- 
trol his own organs, his soul seemed, as it were, to transfuse 
itself into the person of his son, and enjoy at second-hand 
that exhilaration of eloquent effort which had been to him 
as the very breath of his nostrils. Often during these days 
might he have been seen sitting, during the Sabbath serv- 
ices, with a kind of halo of half-glorified brightness upon 
his countenance, as one on the very borders of heaven. 

Among the last times he ever spoke in the lecture-room 
of Plymouth Church, he said feebly, " If God should tell me 
that I onight choose" (and then hesitating, as if it might 
seem like unsubmissiveness to the divine will) — " that is, if 
God said that it was his will that I should choose whether 
to die and go to heaven, or to begin my life over again and 
work once more" (straightening himself up, and his eye 
kindling, with his finger lifted uj?), ^'- 1 loould enlist again 
in a nihxute P 

Of all these years, after public effort ceased, and the veil 
was being drawn continually closer over his faculties, we 
have comparatively few memorials. He was always patient 
and uncomplaining, though evidently restless and suffering 
for want of mental stimulus and occupation. It devolved 
upon his daughter-in-law, Mrs. White, in connection with 
Mrs. Beecher, by reading and conversation to furnish the 
needed amusement. 

Among the most successful expedients resorted to for 
this end was mentioning the names of former friends — Cor- 
nelius, Evarts, Taylor, in connection with their portraits. 
On one occasion (1859), while looking at Dr. Taylor's like- 
ness, he exclaimed, " O Lord God, bring my soul to see the 
man with whom I walked in sweet counsel in this world !" 

Sometimes, however, even this resource was vain. Thus, 
one day in 1862, being quite low-spirited, his daughter al- 


ludecl to several topics, but nothing seemed to cheer him. 
At length the following dialogue ensued : 

" Father, you remember Dr. Taylor ?" 

" Don't tell me of him now. I can not always bear it to 
know that my powers are so far below." 

" But you will soon be with him, and his equal." 

"There is that to go through first that I can not contem- 

In 1862 he said, while looking at his sister Esther's por- 
trait, " She came very close to me. She was surpassingly 
lovely in spirit." 

In 1859, in speakiug of his first wife, he narrated the fol- 
lowing incident, already alluded to in a former part of this 
work : 

" I never in any instance had but one trouble with her, 
and then it was but a word, quickly repented of and as 
quickly forgiven. I went out one morning in East Hamp- 
ton to feed the hogs, and somehow they vexed me. I caught 
up the handiest thing, and was thrashing them, when she 
came to the door and said, * Lyman, don't ! don't !' I said 
something sharply, and she turned to go in. But oh, I 
had not time enough to get to the door, and to say 'I am 
ashamed, I am sorry,' when one of the sweetest smiles shone 
out on her face, and that smile has never died and never 
will. I was forgiven, you may guess. There was anott|^r 
smile I have never lost. It was when she was leaving me. 
We supposed she was gone, and I had left the bedside, when 
a friend said, 'Lyman, she is reviving.' She opened her 
eyes and smiled, and passed away." 

" One day in July, 1862," says Mrs. White, " he was quite 
delighted to see my Henry, and was quite talkative with 
him, and asked him to accompany him up stairs. When 
there he knelt and commenced to pray with great earnest- 



Dess. One expression was this: 'I am sick because I can 
not reveal the feelings of my heart. Yet we will look up to 
Thee. We give up all, all, all to Thee. We give up the 
power. We have seen Thee, heard Thee, felt Thee. God, 
thou art God !' " 

One day his daughter remarked, " Father, I always had 
a feeling that your prayers prevailed." "Did you?" he re- 
plied ; " I am glad of it ; but if they did, they met heavy 
clouds between sometimes. I have been in the pulpit some- 
times when all power even to pray has been taken away. 
Oh, I remember such times ! and I remember, too, when the 
light broke in again." 

In March, 1860, little Etta White, who was quite a pet 
with the doctor, was at the point of death when he left to 
attend church. On his return he said, " I wept after I got 
there, but the thought came over me, Why, she's gone across 
lots, and here I am going all around this long distance ; and 
I wiped my eyes and was glad for herP 

For the last year of his life all the organs of communica- 
tion and expression with the outer world seemed to fail. 
His utterance was, much of the time, unintelligible sounds, 
with only short snatches and j^hrases from which could be 
gathered that the internal current still flowed. Still his eye 
remained luminous, and the expression of his face, when calm, 
was marked both by strength and sweetness. Occasional- 
ly a flash of his old quick humor would light up his face, 
and a quick reply would break out in the most unexpected 
manner. One day, as he lay on the sofa, his daughter, Mrs. 
Stowe, stood by him brushing his long white hair ; his eyes 
were fixed on the window, and the whole expression of his 
face was peculiarly serene and humorous. " Do you know," 
she said, stroking his hair, " that you are a very handsome 
old gentleman?" Instantly his eyes twinkled with a rogu- 


ish light, and he answered qiiickly, " Tell me something 

In another mood, as he sat gazing apparently into vacan- 
cy, a friend drew near and began reading to him a little ar- 
ticle cut from the papers, called " The Working and the 
Waiting Servant." He drew nearer and nearer, listened 
with fixed attention, and finally covered his eyes with his 
fingers, and the tears silently coursed down his cheeks. 
" How could you know that was what I needed ?" he said. 
" Keep that and read to me often." 

" His ruling purpose," writes one, " never left him. Since 
his mental faculties have been clouded, a minister, to try his 
condition, said to him in the presence of several friends, 
' Dr. Beecher, you know a great deal — tell us what is the 
greatest of all things.' For an instant the cloud was rent, 
and a gleam of light shot forth in the reply, ' It is not the- 
ology, it is not controversy, but it is to save souls ;' and 
then the deep shadow came over him again." 

Only three or four weeks before his death, one who had 
the privilege of seeing him tried to make him remember a 
distinguished pastor in Connecticut who had died twelve 
years previously, but with whom he had not been particu- 
larly intimate. The name, once familiar, recalled no image 
to his mind. He could not remember the man. Then the 
question was put, "Do you remember Dr. Taylor?" He 
answered suddenly, placing his hand on his heart, " Part of 
me — part of ??ie." Three or four years before this, though 
his memory of names and words was almost gone, he request- 
ed that he might be buried by the side of that old friend. 
He wanted to be buried, as he said, " where it w^ould do the 
most good," and he thought that there was the place ; "for," 
said he, " the young men [the students] will come and see 
where Brother Taylor and I are buried, and it will do them 


" It may be interesting to Christians to know," observes 
one of his sons, " that with all his hopefulness for others 
during his active ministry, he was not himself exempt from 
doubts and fears. He was so hungry to do the work of Him 
that sent him, that he really seemed sometimes to have little 
appetite for heaven. Thus, after he was seventy years old, 
one of his children congratulated him that his labors were 
nearly over, and that he would soon be at rest. To his 
son's surprise, the old man replied quickly, * I don't thank 
my children for sending me to heaven till God does !' 

" That he believed himself truly converted ; that he had 
consecrated every power to God; that he loved the Re- 
deemer's kingdom more than every other interest on earth ; 
that he was willing to sjDend and be spent for it, he never 
doubted for a moment. That he had a prevailing confi- 
dence that it would be well with him at death, is also true. 
Yet such was his sense of his imperfectness before the di- 
vine law, and such his profound humility before God, and 
such his sense of the solemnity of that great change that 
settles all forever, that he seldom or never spoke of his own 
condition with assurance, but only of prevailing hope on the 
whole. After he had been laid aside from preaching, and 
began to feel that he was breaking, he one day said, with 
great solemnity and simplicity, ' I have all my life had my 
doubts and fears ; but I have lately been making an exam- 
ination of my evidences, and I have come to the conclusion 
that, in view of every thing, I have a good and reasonable 
ground of hope.' This tenderness of conscience and timid- 
ity in his own case was in marked contrast with his great 
hopefulness for others, and his power of inspiring hope." 

"Twice, however, before his departure," writes Mrs. 
Stowe, " his spirit seemed for a moment to throw ofi* the 
torpor that was upon it with premonitions of approaching 


triumph. The first was when he quoted those words of 
Paul, ' " I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, 
I have kept the faith ; henceforth there is laid up for me a 
crown, which God, the righteous Judge, will give me in that 
day ;" ' and added, ' that is my testimony ; write it down ; 
that is my testimony.' 

" The other was still more impressive, when the vail was 
rent for a few hours, and a vision of transfiguration was 
vouchsafed. He called to his daughter, thinking it was his 
wife, ' Mother, mother, come sit beside me ; I have had a 
glorious vision of heaven.' His countenance was luminous, 
his utterance full and strong, as in his best days. He con- 
tinued, 'I think I have begun to go. Oh, such scenes as I 
have been permitted to behold ! I have seen the King of 
Glory himself. Blessed God for revealing thyself! I did 
not think I could behold such glory while in the flesh.' He 
prayed in an inspired manner for some time, and then solilo- 
quized, ' Until this evening my hope was a conditional one ; 
now it is full, free, entire. Oh, glory to God !' 

" ' Had you any fear T she asked. 

" ' No, none at all ; and, what is wonderful, I have no pain 
either,' passing his hand over his head. 

" She then repeated the words, ' I shall be satisfied when 
I awake in thy likeness.' 

" * How wonderful,' he answered, ' that a creature can ap- 
proach the Creator so as to awake in his likeness ! Oh glo- 
rious, glorious God !' 

" ' I rejoice with you, father.' 

" ' I know you rejoice as a pious woman, but you can not 
enter into my experience now.' 

" ' Father, did you see Jesus ?' 

" ' All was swallowed up in God himself 

" For an hour he was in this state, talking and praying. 


The next day he remarked that he had an indistinct remem- 
brance of some great joy. The last indication of Hfe, on the 
day of his death,* was a mute response to his wife, repeatino-, 
" 'Jesus, lover of my soul, 

Let me to thy bosom fly.' 

"The last hours of his earthly sleep his face was illum- 
inated with a solemn and divine radiance, and softly and 
tenderly, without even a sigh, he passed to the everlasting 

The following is an extract from a letter of one of the chil- 
dren when assembled to pay the last tokens of filial rever- 
ence to his remains ; 

" We are having a blessed time. All are here except Ed- 
ward and James. Last evening, and this morning at break- 
fast, the reminiscences and tone of feeling were inexpressi- 
bly rich ; lively and not light, brilliant and diversified, and 
yet full of feeling. This morning at table, and afterward at 
family prayer, which was fsLUiilj 2^raise, singing being our 
chief occupation, there was an unpremeditated outburst of 
memories of the most beautiful and touching character. 
We feel that our dear father is not taken from us, but given 
back to us again. The feeling in all our hearts is more of 
desire for consecration to Christ's work than I ever knew 
it to be — more as of old when Father was himself among us 
in the fullness of the Spirit. 

"May the Holy Spirit enable us to carry away the new 
fire in our souls, and kindle others." 

The funeral services in Plymouth Church, attended by 
the clergy of the vicinity in a body, and by a dense throng, 
were impressive and appropriate. 

* January 10, 1863, in his eighty-eighth year. 


" It is not in sorrow," said the speaker,* in the peculiarly 
felicitous introduction to his eloquent discourse, "that we 
are assembled for these obsequies. Why should we mourn 
that he who had more than measured the appointed span of 
human life, and had entered on the eighth year beyond his 
fourscore years — who had outlived his activity, and even his 
cognizance of passing events in the great world, and then 
had outlived almost entirely his own dear remembrance of 
those that were dearest to him, both the dead and the living 
— who had waited for death through a long twilight deep- 
ening into darkness — has been at length released from the 
burden, from the prison, from the body of this death ? Shall 
we mourn that, when ' by reason of strength' he had so far 
survived himself, that lingering strength is at last cut off, 
and he has flown away ? Shall we mourn that the assiduity 
which, with unwearying tenderness, waited on his helpless- 
ness, and which he recognized with responsive affection till 
consciousness itself had failed, is now at last relieved ? N"o ; 
let us rather give thanks that the mortal has put on immor- 
tality, and that it remains for us only to bury in the bosom 
of its kindred earth this lifeless clay, from which the freed 
soul has gone to be with Christ. In such a death there is 
no extinction of hope, no interruption of activity, no an- 
guish of bereaved affection, and (more than all the rest) no 
awful questioning whether the departed was ready. What 
tears we shed to-day are tears of love, of gratitude, of hom- 
age to a blessed memory, but not of grief ' Thanks be to 
God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus 
Christ !' " 

* Dr. Bacon, of New Haven, Connecticut. 




A VOLUME might be filled with authentic, and another 
with apocryphal anecdotes of Dr. Beecher. Of these, some 
of the latter are the best. 

At a public meeting of one of our great benevolent soci- 
eties, a speaker told with effect the story of a minister who 
exchanged pulpits with a brother minister on a very stormy 
Sabbath, and preached a rousing sermon to an audience of 
one. Afterward he met that hearer in the ministry, and 
found he had been converted under that sermon. The speak- 
er elaborated the incident with vivid minuteness, and at the 
close exclaimed, with a flourish, turning to Dr. Beecher, who 
was present, " And here is the man himself. Dr. Beecher, 
am I right V 

" The only fault with that story," said the doctor, " and 
it's a pity to spoil it, is, that it never happened." The dis- 
comfiture of the speaker can easily be imagined. 

Of the same description is the anecdote recently circula- 
ted in the newspapers, to the effect that, on arriving in his 
lecture-room at the seminary one morning, long after the 
bell had done ringing, he turned to the class and said, 
" Young gentlemen, this seminary bell is no better than a 
fur cap with a sheep's tail in it." We have heard that say- 
ing ascribed to Dr. Bellamy. Dr. Beecher possibly told the 
story with an immediate application. 

But, not to dwell on things that did not happen, let us 
mention a few that did; though here we observe, in pass- 


iug, that it has been nearly impossible to arrest and fix in 
tangible form those fugitive utterances and incidents so viv- 
id at the moment, so evanescent in the retrospect. Individ- 
uals have said to us, " Oh, I could tell you a hundred keen 
things of his," and yet in no one instance has the possibility 
become fact. So much depended on look, and manner, and 
magnetic rapport^ and delicate hues of sentiment, that when 
they attempted to put their hand on the "keen thing," it 
was gone. 

We have been told that a lady in Litchfield, of literary ac- 
quirements, was for some years in the habit of noting down 
pithy and pungent expressions in Dr.Beecher's sermons and 
conversation, and that in this way quite a manuscript vol- 
ume of "life thoughts" was accumulated. But a brother 
minister, having borrowed the said manuscript, hid its leav- 
en in the three measures of his own dullness, which never- 
theless remained unleavened, while the manuscript itself was 
irrecoverably lost. 

The following incident of his East Hampton life is related 
by Professor Stowe : 

" He had some pleasant rencounters on account of his 
Episcopal connections. Though the old clergyman of Guil- 
ford, where they attended church, was rather of the dullest, 
this in no wise abated their ecclesiastical pretensions. Just 
after his marriage, passing a field where the quizzical old 
uncle who had brought him up was mowing, he heard him 
calling out, 

" ' Halloo, youngster ! they say you have no right to 
preach ; you have never been ordained.' 

" ' Got a good scythe there, Uncle Lot V 

" ' First rate.' 

"'Who made it?' 

" 'Dun'no; bought it over to the store.' 
A A 2 


" ' And if you had another that was made by a black- 
smith who you supposed could trace his authority for mak- 
ing scythes all the way up to St. Peter, and yet the scythe 
wouldn't cut any more than a sheet of lead, which would 
you take to mow with ?' 

" ' Go 'long, you rogue ; ho, ho, ho !' " 

Another incident of his East Hampton life is the fol- 

Biding on horseback from Southampton homeward one 
evening, with a heavy folio, which he had just borrowed, 
under his arm, he saw what he supposed to be a rabbit run 
across the path and stop by the roadside. It was moon- 
light, and he could not see very distinctly, but thought to 
himself, " I'll have a shot at you, any how." So, when he 
came alongside the supposed rabbit, he poised the ponder- 
ous folio and hurled it at the mark, receiving in return a 
point-blank shot of an unmistakable character, which re- 
quired him to bury his clothes, folio, and every thing about 
him in the earth in order to become presentable. In after 
life, being asked why he did not reply to a certain Mr. 

, who was abusing him through the press, he replied, 

" I threw a book at a skunk once and he had the best of it. 
I made up my mind never to try it again." 

Professor Stowe gives the following anecdotes of his Bos- 
ton life : 

" The mornins: after his church on Hanover Street had 
been burned, and the firemen and the mob had been amus- 
ing themselves all night with their noisy jokes about ' old 
Beecher' and his 'hell-fire,' several of us were assembled in 
Pierce's book-store in rather a lugubrious state of mind. 
Presently the doctor, who had been to view the ruins, and 


saw his proud, substantial stone tower split from top to bot- 
tom with the intense heat, came skipping in gay as a lark. 
' Well,' said he, ' my jug's broke ; just been to see it.' As 
there was no affectation in this — as it was all simple and 
hearty as the utterance of a school-boy just let loose from 
the school-room, what could we do but join in the laugh and 
partake of the hopefulness ? Those who are acquainted 
with the facts will remember that there were circumstances 
which made the conflagration rather mortifying, and the 
doctor's joke peculiarly appropriate. 

" The same simplicity, buoyancy, and imperturbable good 
humor disarmed opposition when he came in personal con- 
tact with an opponent. An old wood-sawyer, whom we will 

call W , a rough, strong, shrewd man, who belonged to 

a rival sect, was violently prejudiced against the doctor, es- 
pecially on account of his total abstinence principles. He 
had never seen him, and would not hear him preach. This 
man had a large lot of wood to saw opposite to the doctor's 

" The doctor depended upon constant manual labor for 
keeping up his own health ; and in Boston, where he could 
not enjoy the luxury of a garden to dig in, he was often puz- 
zled to find means to keep himself in good working order. 
The consequence was that he sawed all the wood for his own 
large family, and, often finding that too little, would beg the 
privilege of sawing at the wood-pile of a neighbor. 

" He was as fastidious in the care of his wood-saw as a 
musician in the care of his Cremona. In fact, there was an 
analogy between the two instruments. In moods of ab- 
straction deeper than ordinary, it was sometimes doubtful 
which the doctor imagined himself to be doing — filing his 
saw or sawing his fiddle. That the old saw was musical un- 
der bis hand, none could deny ; and that he enjoyed its bril- 


liant notes was clear from the manner in which he kept the 
instrument always at hand in his study, half concealed among 
results of councils, reviews, reports, and sermons, ready to 
be filed and set at any time while he pondered, or even 
while settling nice points of theology with his boys, or tak- 
ing counsel with brother ministers. 

" Looking out of his study window one day, when his own 
wood-pile was reduced to a discouraging state of order, ev- 
ery stick sawed and split, he saw with envy the pile of old 

W in the street. Forthwith he seized his saw, and soon 

the old sawyer of the street beheld a man, without cravat 
and in shirt sleeves, issuing from Dr. Beecher's house, who 
came briskly up, and asked if he wanted a hand at his pile ; 
and forthwith fell to work with a right good will, and soon 
proved to his brother sawyer that he was no mean hand at 
the craft. 

"Nodding his head significantly at the opposite house, 
W said, 

"'You live there?' 

"B. 'Yes.' 

" W. ' Work for the old man ?' 

"B. 'Yes.' 

" W. ' What sort of an old fellow is he ?' 

" B. ' Oh, pretty much like the rest of us. Good man 
enough to work for.' 

" W. 'Tough old chap, ain't he?' 

" B. ' Guess so, to them that try to chaio him up.'' 

" So the conversation went on, till the wood went so fast 
with the new-comer that W exclaimed, 

" ' First-rate saw that of yourn !' 

" This touched the doctor in a tender point. He had set 
that saw as carefully as the articles of his creed ; every tooth 
was critically adjusted, and so he gave a smile of triumph. 


" ' I say,' said W , ' where can I get a saw like that ?' 

" B. 'I don't know, unless you buy mine.' 

" W. ' Will you trade ? What do you ask ?' 

" B. 'I don't know ; I'll think about it. Call at the house 
to-moiTow^ and I'll tell you.' 

" The next day the old man knocked, and met the doctor 
at the door, fresh from the hands of his wife, with his coat 
brushed and cravat tied, going out to pastoral duty. 

" W gave a start of surprise. 

" ' Oh,' said the doctor, ' you're the man that wanted to 
buy my saw. Well, you shall have it for nothing; only let 
me have some of your wood to saw when you work on my 

" ' Be hanged,' said old W , when he used afterward 

to tell the story, ' if I didn't want to crawl into an auger- 
hole when I found it was old Beecher himself I had been 
talking wdth so crank the day before.' 

*' It scarcely need be said that from that time W was 

one of the doctor's stoutest and most enthusiastic advo- 
cates; not a w^ord would he hear said against him. He 
affirmed that 'old Beecher is a right glorious old fellow, 
and the only man in these parts that can saw wood faster 
than I can.' ^ 

" The doctor's unconscious, rustic simplicity led to many 
amusing scenes. I was walking one morning with the sen- 
ior R. H. Dana in one of the narrow streets which lead to 
the Quincy Market. We soon saw the doctor rushing up 
on the other side of the street Avith a bundle of what seemed 
to be oysters tied up in a silk handkerchief in one hand, and 
in the other a lobster, Avhich he was holding by the back, 
with all the claws sprawling outward. Something had hap- 
pened the night before which had pleased him very much, 
and, seeing us, he stopped and began to harangue us across 


the street with great animation, vehemently gesturing with 
his bundle of oysters and -with his lobster alternately. Per- 
ceiving that he was becoming rather more conspicuous than 
was desirable (for there was soon a crowd in the street look- 
ing very much amused), he desisted and walked on. 'Well,' 
said Dana, with a laugh, ' I never before heard the doctor 
speak with such eclat {a dani)? " 

A ludicrous incident occurred one night during the doc- 
tor's residence in Boston. The upper back windows of his 
house in Sheafe Street commanded an extensive view of the 
city. The scuttle in the attic, particularly, w^as always re- 
sorted to by the young folks in case of an alarm of fire. 

One night the bells gave the alarm all over the wdde j^an- 
orama, and the startled sleepers rushed to their outlook. 
The jangling din continued for a few minutes and died away. 
One by one the gazers stole back to bed. The house grew 
silent. Bell after bell ceased clanging, until at length one 
lonely tower alone gave tongue. Just then one of the older 
boys awoke from sound repose, heard the faint strokes of 
the solitary bell, and sprung to the scuttle. 

" There's a fire," he exclaimed, " and nobody is awake ! 
Why don't they cry fire ?" and, stretching his neck out of 
the scuttle, he began to shout in stentorian tones, "Fire! 
fire! fire!" 

The doctor heard the outcry and came to the banisters 
below, when the following interchange of salutations took 
place : 

" Fire !" {from above). 

"Booby!" {fromleloio). 

"Fire!" {from above). 

" Booby !" {from beloio). 

At length the truth began to dawn on the obstreperous 

MISCELL A>f EA. 567 

somnambulist, and he crept meekly to bed. The last bell 
stopped — the lights ceased glancing — all was still. 

Dr. Beecher was no ascetic. He was fond of good cheer, 
though obliged to limit himself to plain and substantial fare. 
Within due limits, however, he enjoyed the pleasures of the 
table as thoroughly as any hon vivcmt. ]^o man relished a 
hearty laugh more than he, or appreciated more readily a 
good story well told, a metry witticism, or crisp repartee. 

The law of his family was that, if any one had a good 
thing, he must not keep it to himself; if he could say a fun- 
ny thing, he was bound to say it ; if a severe thing, no mat- 
ter — the severer the better, if well^:)z^^y every one must be 
ready to take as well as give. The doctor never asked any 
favors of his children, nor stood upon his dignity in encoun- 
ters of wit or logic. "When they grappled him, he taught 
them to grapple in earnest, and they well knew what they 
had to expect in return. 

It reminds us of a scene in *^ The Betrothed," where young 
Damian de Lacy attempts to hurl to the earth his uncle, the 
Constable of Chester, disguised as a palmer. 

" ' And now for the trial,' said Damian, and at the same 
moment he sprang on the palmer, caught him by the waist, 
and made three distinct and desperate attempts to lift him 
up and dash him headlong to the earth — 'this, for malign- 
ing a nobleman ; this, for doubting the honor of a knight ; 
and this (with a yet more violent exertion), for belying a 
lady !' Each effort of Damian seemed equal to have root- 
ed up a tree, yet, though they staggered the old man, they 
overthrew him not ; and while Damian panted with his last 
exertion, he replied, ' And take thou this for so roughly en- 
treating thy father's brother !' and as he spoke, Damian de 
Lacy received no soft fall on the floor of his dungeon." 


And if, in the process of flooring his boys, they "left the 
impression of their knuckles on his ribs," he said, like the 
Constable, " There is nothing to excuse. Have we not wres- 
tled a turn before now ?" 

The doctor would have disowned his children had they 
refrained, in fair argument, from putting forth every atom 
of logical strength they possessed. Moreover, in his house, 
argument was always argument, and fair argument. Opin- 
ions were canvassed without ceremony; but there must be 
no sophistry, no unfairness. He expected originality; he 
encouraged independence ; he inspired boldness ; he trained 
to mental toughness, tenacity, and endurance. The only law 
of thought in his household was to keep to the point. Noth- 
ing really roused his wrath like an illogical or soj^histical 
course of reasoning. 

Against a refusal to argue, or a resort to evasion or trick, 
his anger burned like fire. Nothing of the kind was possi- 
ble in his household. All propositions must be discussed. 
All argument must be free, open, and above board. Every 
mind must be expected, in supporting its opinions, to exert 
itself to the utmost. Nobody must find fault if their argu- 
ments were roughly handled. No child of his must grum- 
ble and get angry at being bruised and floored in fair de- 
bate. To look in upon some hotly-contested theological dis- 
cussion, a stranger might have said the doctor and his chil- 
dren were angry with each other. Never ; they were only 
in earnest. 

So, as far as in him lay, the doctor trained his seminary 
classes. He could not, indeed, bring around him the omni- 
present influence of a household training, incessant, perpet- 
ual, by day and by night, year in and year out ; but, so far 
as practicable, the atmosphere of the class-room was the at- 
mosphere of the family. He was father ; the students were 


all sons. He was at home with them, and they with him. 
Never was a student put down for asking hard questions on 
ticklish points of theology. The trouble was, he could not 
get them quite unceremonious enough. He wanted them 
to come in and grapple with him as his own flesh and blood 
were wont to do. It cost him no small pains to divest them 
of their too scrupulous reverence. It was this habit of free 
and fair argument that, next to their practical revival aim, 
formed the most valuable characteristic of his theological 

" Besides the Bible," says Dr. Allen, " I apprehend there 
was no book with which he was so familiar as Butler's Anal- 
ogy, and no portion of his lectures is more worthy of being- 
given to the world than his lectures on Butler. They were 
generally given at the beginning of his course, and impress- 
ed the student at the outset with the idea that he was in 
safe and strong hands." 

Perhaps no happier illustration of the lifelong unconscious 
drift of Dr. Beecher's mind can be found than in the follow- 
ing extract from this favorite author : 

"As it is owned the whole scheme of Scripture is not un- 
derstood, so, if it ever comes to be understood before the 
restitution of all things, and without miraculous interposi- 
tions, it must be in the same way as natural knowledge is 
come at, by the continuance and progress of learning and 
liberty, and by particular persons attending to, comparing, 
and pursuing intimations scattered uj) and down it, which 
are overlooked and discarded by the generality of the 
world ; for this is the way in which all improvements are 
made — by thoughtful men's tracing on obscure hints, as 
it were, dropped us by Nature accidentally, or which seem 
to come into our minds by chance. Nor is it at all incred- 
ible that a book which has been so long in the posses- 


sion of mankind should contain many truths as yet undis- 

To hear Dr. Beecher read the Bible at family prayer in 
such an eager, earnest tone of admiring delight, with such 
an indescribable air of intentness and expectancy, as if the 
book had just been handed him out of heaven, or as if a seal 
therein was just about to be loosed, was enough to impress 
one with the feeling that he was thus ever on the search into 
the deep things of God's Word, " attending to, comparing, 
and pursuing intimations scattered up and down therein." 

A new thought suddenly flashed out, a new illustration 
of his grand theme, Moral Government, appropriately ex- 
pressed, would at any time moisten his eyes with tears. The 
joy of his soul in a new idea, a new ray of heaven's glory, 
a new and more striking embodiment of some old truth, was 
most intense. It was a ruling passion of his intellectual be- 
ing. He hungered and thirsted after the knowledge of God 
and of his glorious government, and of the sublime plan of 
redemption, with insatiable appetite. 

A few characteristic utterances have been preserved by 
his associate and successor. Dr. Allen, some of which are 
here given : 

" I was present at one of his lectures, in which, as nearly 
as I now recollect, he was examining the objections against 
the doctrine of free agency. He had compared the tremen- 
dous perils and fearful responsibilities of such an endow- 
ment on the one hand, with the glorious privileges and pos- 
sibilities which it involved on the other, when, suddenly 
snatching oif his spectacles, he drew a picture of an assem- 
bly of all God's intelligent universe summoned into a quasi 
state of existence, in which they should be capable of under- 
standing the reasons for and against being created, clothed 
* Butler's Analogy, p. ii., c. iii. 


with the responsibility of free agency, and permitted to de- 
cide the question for themselves. Then, leaping from his 
chair, and walking back and forth upon the platform, he 
poured out, in a few short, pithy sentences, the peril of fall- 
ing and the damnation of hell on the one side, and the bless- 
edness of standing, and the possibility of restoration by di- 
vine love, and the heights of immortal glory to be gained 
on the other, and then, as if standing in the place of the 
Creator himself, and putting the question to vote, Shall I 
create or not create ? he made the shout go up as the voice 
often thousand times ten thousand, Create! Create P"* 

"On a visit to the Northwest about the year 1845, he 
was called to attend a missionary meeting, in which a mis- 
sionary from among the Xorth American Indians gave an 
account of his labors. It was a very prosy, dull narrative. 
The speaker seemed to have forgotten, if he had ever known, 
how to use the English language. Dr. Beecher followed, 
and, beginning with Henry Obookiah, he traced the history 
of Foreign Missions, and unfolded its destined results, in a 
way that held the audience spell-bound for an hour or more. 
'Thank God,' said a professor in one of the Western col- 
leges, ' our mother tongue is not yet a dead language.' " 

"I recollect a discussion in Presbytery on the profound 
question whether slaveholding is a sin per se, the whole 
tone of which showed plainly enough that none on either 
side had been accustomed to bring the question to the test 
oi 2iXi^ prhiciple^ metaphysical or practical. 

"Dr. Beecher rose, and, taking for his starting-point the 
principle that whatever tends necessarily to undermine 
God's institutions is in itself wrong, in a speech of about 
half an hour laid bare the tendencies of slavery, as antago- 


nistic to all the princiiDles of the divine government, with a 
clearness and force that left nothing more to be said on the 

Dr. Allen also mentions, as one source of his power over 
young men, " the pithy, sententious remarks which flashed 
out from his living exj^erience, and, fastening themselves in 
the memory, became like familiar proverbs — practical princi- 
l^les of life. The weekly conferences of the faculty with the 
students furnished the best opportunities for these, but they 
Avere not unfrequent in the lecture-room. 

" * You will have troubles, young gentlemen,' he would 
say, ' go where you will ; but when they come, donH dam 
them up^ hut let them go doion stream^ and you will soon be 
rid of them.' 

" A young man said to him, ' What can I do if I am not 
elected?' 'When you begin to care about being saved, 
come to me and I will tell you ; but while you don't care 
a snap about it, very likely God doesn't.' 

" ' Take care that you don't let down the doctrine of fu- 
ture punishment. Nothing holds the mind so.' 

" ' Eloquence is logic set a-fire.' 

" ' Walking is not the best exercise for students : you don't 
thi7i7c with your legs? '■* 

" ' I was in his study,' says a pupil, ' the morning he re- 
ceived a letter from H. W. Beecher, at Indianapolis, announ- 
cing the reconversion of Charles. With choking utterance 
he exclaimed, " His mother has been long in heaven, but she 
bound cords about her child's heart before she left which 
have drawn him back. He has never been able to break 
them." ' 

" Speaking of the happiness which flows from moral free- 
dom, he said, ' God never meant to fill this world with ma- 


chines, and then create another order of beings to wait upon 

" ' Suppose a skillful workman makes a chronometer so 
perfect that it never varies, no matter how long the voyage; 
but some intermeddling scoundrel thrusts his hand in and 
deranges the machinery. As a consequence, the ship is 
wrecked. Is the maker of the chronometer to be blamed ? 
God made man in his own image, so that his soul contained 
all the elements of haj^piness. He was not made to be mis- 
erable. But the tempter placed his hand on the beautiful 
instrument, and death ensued. Was God to be blamed ?' 

" ' What a ^preponderance of motives in favor of doing 
right ! how small the inducement to do wrong ! The first 
is to the second as a million to one.' 

" In commenting on the sentiment or opinion which seeks 
to account for the fact that every one sins, not by alleging 
natural depravity, but by saying that ' the appetites and pas- 
sions are developed faster than reason ; that is, in the nature 
of things which God has constituted, the appetites and pas- 
sions necessarily obtain the ascendency over reason,' Dr. 
Beecher said, ' It is by this theory as if God had placed a 
man in a boat with a crowbar for an oar, and then sent a 
storm on him ! Is the man to be blamed if in such a case 
he is drowned ?' 

" ' Indolent habits derange the nervous system, and stir 
up a tyrant capable of making hell on earth. Thus with 
dyspepsia; and it is most remarkable that Xature, before she 
surrenders, stoutly resists, and hangs out flags of distress.' 

" ' Dr. Ware, Dr. Channing, and others of their school, 
who are sound reasoners on other subjects, can not con- 
struct a logical argument on Christ's divinity.' 

" ' Reverie is a delightful intoxication into which the mind 
is thrown. It is extempore novel-making. I knew a person 


who was wont to retire into this garden of reverie whenever 
he wished to break the force of unwelcome truth. I told 
him he must break up the habit or be damned.' 

"'Multitudes never learn to study a subject and unlock 
it so as to be able to enter it.' 

" ' Great readers are in danger of filling their minds with 
undigested facts, which they have not force enough to re- 
duce to general princiiDles.' 

" ' All the sciences which, amplified, occupy so much space, 
might be reduced to their elements so as to be contained in 
a few pocket volumes.' 

" ' Take care, in your contest with intellectual sharpers, 
how you attempt to prove that mind is not matter. The 
onus probandi^ in such a case, is on the skeptic. The inabil- 
ity to prove a negative does not falsify an afiirmation. Sup- 
pose I assert that the spots on the sun are immense rat-holes 
made by rats a thousand times larger than our rats.' 

" ' The soul in the body is inclosed " within mud walls," 
through the chinks of which the brilliant light of the soul 

" ' Conscience for the obedient has sounds more pleasant 
than music, but for the transgressor peals more terrific than 

" ' Death tears off the mask. Then slumbering convic- 
tions awake and rage. The soul is then a volcano in its 

" ' Conscience is the executioner of the sentence — the sher- 
iff who unlocks the dungeon, leads forth the criminal, draws 
the cap, and swings off the culprit.' 

" ' Sincerity will never cause tares to j^roduce wheat, nor 
sowing to the flesh life everlasting.' 

" ' Some cry out, "Mysterious! mysterious!" because God 
has not so created us that we can not make mistakes. There 


is no mystery about it. As well ask why God has not cre- 
ated tallow candles to light up the universe. He intended 
man to be happy in the exercise of mental activity in view 
of motives. How much happiness could be placed in a 
snail's shell ? God did not make man after such a pattern, 
but according to a law which is common to all intelligences, 
from man to the highest angels who burn before the throne 
of God.' " 




We dare uot attempt to paint the portrait of Dr. Beech- 
er. Our plan has been to show him in his acts, and in the 
authentic utterances of his mind and heart, so that the read- 
er should receive in some degree the impression of having 
lived with him — the impression made by the whole man as 
he was, and by his course as it unfolded, and not by any 
analysis of the elements of his being, however skillful. In 
what remains to be said, we shall rely more on others than 
on our own too partial judgment. 

The reason why Dr. Beecher's influence was so wide and 
so beneficial was, in the language of Professor Stowe, " be- 
cause he was a man always most thoroughly in earnest, of 
strong powers of observation, a marvelous fertility and fe- 
licity of illustration, and living every moment under the im- 
pression that he had a great work to do for God and man, 
which must be done at once — not a minute to be lost." We 
may add, because he lived under the constant impression 
that the millennium was close at hand. It has been said 
that " he had no patience with the millenarian notion of 
the personal reign of Christ on earth;" yet never did he 
treat with disrespect that belief as entertained by Professor 
Stowe, or by members of his family or others. He firmly 
believed in the national restoration of the Jews ; but the 
connected doctrine of Messiah's premillennial advent he had 
not found in the Scriptures. To his mind it seemed to in- 
volve some disparagement to Gospel instrumentalities and 


the dispensation of the Spirit, in regard to which he was fond 
of quoting the question of Father Mills : " Do you suppose 
God will stretch his teams, as he has done, all the way from 
Dan to Beersheba, and then back out ?" 

But, while rejecting the idea in the shape in which it was 
presented to his mind, he was equally far from entertaining 
the conception of a slow and gradual introduction of the 
millennial era. He believed there would be great tribula- 
tions, great judgments, great interpositions of Providence, 
and great outpourings of the Holy Spirit. The crisis, as he 
anticipated it, was as impressive and sublime as that pre- 
sented to the imagination of a moderate millenarian, prob- 
ably he would have said far more so. The influence on Dr. 
Beecher's life of such an anticipation of a near impending 
manifestation of God can hardly be over-estimated. 

Of his intellectual character and traits of style Dr. Bacon 
speaks as follows : 

" His intellectual character was altogether peculiar. I am 
at a loss how to speak of it. His thinking faculty — his pow- 
er of discerning truth — was keen, ready, logical, discriminat- 
ing. He delighted in an argument. Thought was a pleas- 
ure, sometimes a rapture, to his mind. With a ready com- 
mand of nervous, idiomatic English, his expression of his 
thought was clear and powerful. He had not a jDoetic im- 
agination ; yet he had just that kind, and degree, and style 
of imagination which makes a man eloquent. In the play 
of his faculties, grappling with truth and striving to hold it 
up for men to see it, imagination was always active, and 
there would be frequent flashes of wit and humor ; and yet, 
in the relative proportion and the combination of his pow- 
ers, and in his style of thought and utterance, he was ex- 
ceedingly unlike even those who have the best right to re- 
semble him. 

Vol. H.— B b 


" If I were to sum up the character of his eloquence in 
one word, that word would be electricity. Even now, if 
you read attentively one of those great sermons in which 
his soul still speaks, you see this quality. The whole se- 
quence of thought, from paragraph to paragraph, is charged 
alike with meaning and with feeling, and each link of the 
chain sparkles with electric fire. As you think what the 
effect of such words would be when uttered in his simple 
but intensely earnest manner, you will realize that, in a con- 
gregation, or in a free consultation among ministers and 
friends on great interests of religion or the commonwealth, 
he was like a powerful magnetic battery. I remember the 
remark that was whispered into my ear by one of the most 
gifted men in New England, as we sat listening to him in 
such a consultation many years ago : ' That man has done a 
great deal of magnetizing in his day.' " 

In respect to Dr. Beecher's position as a theologian, in ad- 
dition to what has been already stated of his comprehensive- 
ness, may be noticed his propensity and his power to bring 
the great doctrines of religion down to the level of the pop-