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Full text of "The life and labors of the late Rev. William Stevens Balch with an outline of his writings and discourses and biographical sketches and recollections of incidents, travels and correspondence, during a history of more than sixty years"



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Till- LIFE AND LABORS 



OF THE I. \TK 



Rev. William Stevens Balcb 



WITH AN iHTI.I N 1 I 'I 



HIS WRITINGS AND DISCOURSES 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES AND RECOLLECTIONS OF INCIDENTS, 

TRAVELS AND CORRESPONDENCE, DURING 

A HISTORY OF MORE THAN 

SIXTY YEARS. 



REV. H. SLADE. 



His youth was innocent, his riper age 

Marked with some act of goodness every day ; 

And watched with eyes that loved him, calm and sage, 

Faded his late declining years away. 

Meekly he gave his being up, and went 

To share the holy rest that waits a life well spent.'" 

— Brya nt. 



< UK !AG< 

[•KIN I ED A.M> BOUND BY 

DONOHUE & BENNEBEBRY 

L888. 






T'> ALL THOSE FOR WHOM CHRISTIANITY CAME [NTO THE 
WOULD TO DO ITS WORK OF HEALING AND BLESSING; 

FOB WHOM FAITH AND HOPE AUK HORN. AND PRAYEB IS HAD, 

AND PRAISES BUNG, AND SYMPATHY AND 

CHARITY EXPRESSED; 

TO THE SORROWING ONES OF EARTH, THE UNFORTUNATE AND 

REREAYED, THE SICK AND THE DYING: 

A N 1 1 

TO THE CATHOLIC UNITY OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH: 

THIS VOLUME IS 

RESPECTFULLY AND AFFFJ TIONATELY INSCRIBED 






BY T1IK1K SINCERE 

FRIEND AND BROTHER. 






PREFACE. 



In presenting the record of the personal history of the Rev. Will- 
iams. Raich, and selecting and arranging events and incidents for 
holding up the mirror of the deeds of him whom we seek to bring 
prominently to your notice, that others may be induced to follow his 
example and feel the influence of his many virtues, it will be the aim, 
as far as possible, to let the subject of this memoir speak for himself. 
We have found ourselves chiefly encouraged in these labors from 
the fact that his was a life uncommonly eventful, and from the great 
number of stirring incidents and occurrences calculated to enhance 
the intrinsic value of the volume. His friendly suggestions of wis- 
dom, strung like pearls through all his writings, calculated to arrest 
every class of minds and awaken them to the vast importance of vir- 
tuous living, is what must make this work dearer to the reader than 
aught else beside. We would not speak in any strain of studied 
eulogy, and may not claim for any person on earth that he is perfect, 
for perfection does not belong to this world. 

It is but justly due that I should, before passing, express my 
most sincere and unfeigned thanks for the varied assistance rendered 
me by many friends who have kindly aided me in my work. 

I much value the words of the one dearest to me (now passed to 
the spirit home), who in her absence writing me, says: " I am sure 
if you could gather the inspiration to do justice to so good a man, 
you have no need to go farther to write up one of the grandest lives 
the world has ever witnessed . You have almost worshiped him, 
and your fault is likely to be the coloring of the picture. Wliai you 
need to do is to write a candid memoir, that will throw his virtues 

iii 



IV PREFACE. 

uppermost; his strong mind, his strict integrity, his humility, his 
loving sympathy with the weak, the poor and the oppressed. He 
has always felt that truth was mighty and must prevail, and there- 
fore was tireless in maintaining what he deemed to be right. Aye, 
indeed, such a noble life can be written from material so truthful, 
so beautiful, so substantial, that even his enemies (if he had them) 
would be obliged to say, ' That is Brother Balch.'" 

Nothing is truer than the above. And I shall endeavor to be 
truthful in my utterances, and trust that the reader will be enabled 
to form some partially adequate conception of the character sought 
to be portrayed. And we tender our work to all who shall care to 
peruse it, in the hope that it will be valuable to many who are pur- 
suing the chart of life's voyage, in being a solace and comfort, as 
well as an inspiration to fortitude and courage and manliness of 
mien. We have no wish or desire more holy than that the gift we 
here bring you, in the thoughts evoked from our subject, shall fill 
your souls with all beneficent feelings and impulses, as they have 
glowed and burned in our own during these months in which we 
have pondered and written. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTEB I. 

PAGE. 

Passed on to the Higher Life: — Time of Death with No- 
tices by Elgin Pastors — Lines by Miss E. J. Stickney — 
Object of this Work — Biography and Auto-Biography Dis- 
tinguished — Materials Gathered from Fragmentary Mem- 
oranda 13 

CHAPTER II. 

Ancestry: — The General Aim in Tracing it — No Claim of 
High Ancestry, but Well Enough Descended — Every Per- 
son Ranked by Merit, and Held to Strict Responsibility 23 

CHAPTER III. 

Parentage: — His Father, Joel Balch, a Representative Man of 
Vermont — His Mother, Betsey Stevens, Daughter of William 
Stevens, Gave to Him His Name — Her Early Death and the 
Death of a Sister had a Marked Influence upon his Cbsrj c- 
ter 27 

CHAPTER IV. 

Burnt and Childhood: — Place of Birth — His Childhood 
Like Most Poor Farmers — Plain Living — Strict Discipline 
— A Great Lover of Nature Giving Him an Early Desire for 
Travel 31 

CHAPTER V. 

Boyhood and Youth: — His Early Days full of Work — Oppor- 
tunities for Learning Limited to Few Books — His Thoughts 
Enlarged from Reading Chalmers on Astronomy — His Dis- 
like of Cruelty, War And Bloodshed— The Bible His Chief 
Study — A Strong Desire to Understand About Religious 
Matters 33 



\ i CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER VI. 

PAGE. 

Years of Teaching While Maturing His Views op Relig- 
ion: — Left Home at Sixteen for Teaching — Shortly After 
Went to Teach in His Brother's School, in New York City — 
His Singular Passage — Disgusted With the City,he Left After 
Three Months — Started in to be a Butcher, but Immediately 
Abandoned it Returning to His Home, and to Teaching as 
Formerly — His Thoughts Have Been Given a Somewhat Dif- 
ferent Turn, and He Now Goes to Pursue His Studies in the 
Home of Rev. Mr. Somland, Universalist — Hears Other Vari- 
eties of Preaching — Would Like to be a Preacher, but Thinks 
it out of the Question — Goes Back to His Brother's School in 
New York — While There is Tried With What He Hears 
Preached 47 

CHAPTER VII. 

Conversion to Universalis!!: — Commences to Attend Different 
Churches — Hears New Views Which Seem Consonant With 
His Reason and Affections — Continues to Investigate till His 
Mind Becomes Settled — Joins a Universalist Church — Sells 
out His Position in School and Takes up a New System of 
Grammar — The Ministry Now Impressed Upon His Mind as 
The Plain Course for Him to Pursue 64 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Character As a Preacher: — The Ministry His Great Leading 
Purpose — His Were Sermons; not Essays — His Style Simple 
— A Great Preacher Because a Greater Teacher — A Self-made 
Man, Only God Made Him — His Sermons Intensely Practical 
— A Great Reformer — A Memorable Sermon Before the Gen- 
eral Convention in 1840 — His High Ground Upon the Reform 
Character of Our Religion, Placing Him in the Front Rank — 
Always a Universalist, but Never a Bigot — His the True View 
of Liberality — Holding to a few Fundamentals with Greatest 
Tenacity, He Was Still Opposed to too Much Creed-Theology 
— Thought by Some to be Belligerant — Always Open and 
Above Board — Honored by his Publications — His Spirit 
Missionary as Shown by all His Societies — His Preaching in 
Vermont and New Hampshire in 1827-8 — Taking Him a 



CONTENTS. VI 1 

CHAPTER VIII— Continued. 

i* \<;k. 
Wife and Going to Albany in 1829 — Watertown, Mass., in 
1830— Claremont, N. H., in 1832— Providence, R. L, in 
1836 — New York City in 1841 — Preaching Seventeen Years 
in Ne w York, He Thought to Retire to a Rural Plome in Lud- 
low, Vt. — Left Ludlow, Coming West in 1865 — His Ministry 
From that on, in Galesburg, Hinsdale, Elgin, 111., and 
Dubuque, Iowa — His Last Years Mostly Spent in Elgin in a 
Settlement of Some Six Years — His Pastorate in Dubuque 
from 1877 to 1880 — Testimonials of Friends — Lengthy Ser- 
mons — His Powers of Eloquence Which Made Him Sought 
After for Funeral and Other Occasions, and Brought Him 
Near to the Hearts of Many 78 

CHAPTER IX. 

Social and Sympathetic Qualities as a Pastor: — His Won- 
derful Social and Sympathetic Nature, in Which Christian- 
ity Found His Heart — His Religion in the Direction of 
Humanity, Seizing All Opportunities for Doing Good — 
His Relations Those of Love and Good Will — His Presence 
a Benediction in the Home of the Sorrowing — Mrs. Saule, 
" Tender, Reverent, Memory " 155 

CHAPTER X. 

Sermons and Extracts: — His Number of Published Sermons 
Not Great — Largely of a Monitory Character — Sermon 
Preached Before the Illinois State Convention — " The Puri- 
fying Nature, and Good of Universalism " — Its teaching — 
The Character of the Believer — "The Pastor's Duty" — 
" The future Life " a Progress and Growth — An Occasional 
Sermon on ' ' Working the Works of God " — Need of 
Organization, but Work More — A Work of Our Own 
Hearts — Personal and Denominational — Our Name an Excel 
lent One — "Creeds and Sects in Heaven " — " What Heaven 
is Like" — " Teachings of Jesus " — Written Articles and Ad 
dresses — " The Changed Condition of Thought and Feeling, 
Demanding a Change of Action " — Fraternal Feeling Among 
Brethren — His Views of Future Punishment — Refused to 
Speculate Concerning Such Matters — Many Articles "On 



Vill CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER X— Continued. 

PAGE. 

the Situation" — "Denominational Policy" — "The Profes- 
sion of Belief" — "Have to Advance the Church" — " The 
True Object of Religious Organization " — "Fifty Years Ago 
and Now" — "To Whom is Universalism Acceptable" — 
Incidents Showing this Last 164 

CHAPTER XI. 

Letters and Correspondence : — Wide Reputation as a 
Writer — Uncommon Power of Narration — His Enlarged 
Correspondence With Friends — To be Squared Up at the 
End of the Year — These, Occasions of Moralizing —Finds 
Much to do After Concluding His Pastorates — Just as 
Anxious for the Cause — Feels a Strangeness in Being 
What He Calls ' 'a Boarder i n His Own House" — Is More and 
More Convinced That the Plain Gospel is What Must Save 
the World 208 

CHAPTER XII. 

Journeys and Travels: — A' Great Admirer of Nature — 
Wanted to go Into the World to See It — A Strange Desire 
to Visit Where Jesus Had Stood and Taught — To Become 
More Familiar With Scenes and Events of Ancient History 
His After Delight in Lecturing Upon These Subjects — 
What persons Have Said of These Lectures — For What 
Purpose He Traveled at Home and Abroad — His " Ireland 
As I Saw It " — The Dreadful Condition of That People- 
Worse Than the American Slave System — The Responsi- 
ble Parties — His Sympathies Ever With the Common Peo- 
ple—His Politics — Never of a Partizan Character — Was 
the People's Man — Opposed to Aristocracy — Large Work 
to be Done Among the Rich — Town and Country Life — 
Wickedness of Cities — How Wealth is Produced — A 
Lesson from New York City— His Identification With What 
Was Termed the " Darr Rebellion " While Yet a Peace 
Man —He is Called In to Help Quell the Violent Spirit that 
had Been Evoked — His Second Visit Abroad — Makes His 
Way Hurriedly Along Over Countries Visited Previously— 
Speaks of the Beautiful but Bigoted Scotland — Germany 



CONTENTS. IX 

CHAPTER XII— Continued. 

PAGE. 

and Switzerland Cast in the Shade by the Holy Land — 
Bemoans the Condition of the People 'Till His Heart is 
Sad — Crosses the Adriatic Bound for the Orient — His Im- 
pressions of the Holy Land — The Sacred and Memorable 
Jerusalem — Sad Thoughts of the Desolation Which Only 
Christianity Can Cure — Sets Out On His Rtturn Home- 
ward — A Poetic Effusion on " Crossing the Desert " from 
Palestine to Egypt — Another on "Desert Life" — A 
Christmas Service and Hymn — Other Visits to California, 

Mexico and Florida 225 

CHAPTER XIII. 
Home Life and Varied Employments: — Thoughtful and Indul- 
, K gent as a Husband and Father — A Great Lover of Children — 
Always Glad at Their Gladness — Wrote the First Sunday- 
School Manual — Introduced the First Sunday-School Exhi- 
bition, as Then Called — And the First Picnic Excursion — A 
Man of Varied Employments — Great Versatility of Tal- 
ent — Knew How to do Almost Everything — How Regarded 
by Brother Read — What Another Says of Him — A Good 
Counselor — An Excellent Parishioner as Well as Preach- 
er — His Simplicity of Character That Allied Him to All 
Classes of People — His Aversion to All Titles of Honor — 
The D. D. not Accepted by Him — Brother Balch a Diffident 
Man — A Man of Large Service — Did not Abate His Activ- 
ity W T ith the Coming on of Age — His Great Woik the Es- 
tablishment of the Canton Theological School 268 

CHAPTER XIV. 

Disinterested Character: — His Sacrifice of Himself to 
Make Others Happier and the World Better — Wealth 
to be Valued Principally for its Beneficent Uses — In the 
Compensation of His Preaching Services as in Every- 
thing else — The Raising of Many a Secondary Matter in 
Promoting the Cause of Religion — He Believed in no 
Merely Fiscal or Monetary Organization — Xever Made it a 
Matter of Arrangement to be Paid a Particular Sum for His 
Services — On Large Salaries — Advice to Young Men En- 
tering the Ministry — The Worldly Minded not Qualified to 
be Preachers 292 



X CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XV. 

PAGE. 

Sickness, Death and Burial: — Naturally of a Hardy Constitu- 
tion — His Health Much Impaired in all His Early Years by 
Close Application to Study and Overtasking His Energies — 
His Later Years Much Improved — His Last Sickness not 
Protracted — His Sinking Hours Painless — A Grand End- 
ing of a Grand Life — He had no Fear of Death — It Only 
Dismissed Him to a Higher Life — It was a Step Forward 
in an Eudless Career — It was the Suggestion of His Moral 
Reason — To Strike off the Future Made it a Sadly Unfin- 
ished Thing — His Impressive Funeral Obsequies — His Life 
a Consecrated One Fulfilling Faithfully His Appointed 
Years — The Kind of Christian He Was — The many Hearts 
Moved by Him — The Many Persons to Speak of His 
Death — The Letters of Condolence to Mrs. Balch, And 
of Commendation to the Author — Resolutions From Min- 
isterial Circles and Societies — The Glowing Tribute Paid 
Him at the Reception and Banquet Given Upon the Oc- 
casion of His Eightieth Birthday — The Lesson to be 
Learned From the Good Man's Life — The Inscription to be 
Placed Upon His Tombstone 303 



THE LIFE AND LABORS 

OF THE LATE 

REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH 



CHAPTER I. 

PASSED ON TO THE HIGHER LIFE. 

On the 26th of December, 1887. there appeared in 
the local papers of Elgin, 111., worthy notices of the 
death of Rev. William S. Balch, occurring on the day 
previous, and the following tribute of deferential re- 
spect and esteem by the pastor of the Universalist 
church. Rev. A. X. Alcott : 

A NOBLE LIFE ENDED. 

" On Christmas day, not far from noontide, almost 
while the Christmas songs and services at our churches 
were in the air, Rev. W. S. Balch quietly and without 
suffering breathed his last. The morning hymns and 
prayers had gone before, as incense, as it wee, to 
prepare his way. He followed quickly these spiritual 
forerunners to the land of beauty. The day com- 
memorated as the birthday of the world's Redeemer, 
proved to be also, as we trust, the second birthday 
of our old and much esteemed friend and long-tried 
comrade in the battle for holiness in the earth — his 

13 



14 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

birthday into the realm of glory to wear the crown 
of righteousness for evermore. 

" Thus has closed a long and remarkable career. He 
has been known throughout the East and West, and 
everywhere had a host of acquaintances and friends. 
His spirit was large and generous, and his heart was 
very tender. His mind was accustomed to broad, com- 
prehensive views on all subjects. He sympathized with 
all ranks and conditions of men, and no one stood 
more clearly, consciously and heartily than he on that 
plane of intellectual hospitality which is as wide as 
the race. He was an ardent and practical lover of 
all that was noble and good in man, and an ardent 
and practical hater of selfishness, greed, hypocrisy 
and pretense. His influence has been great and wide. 
He has lived a consistent, noble, energetic, good life. 
We may all thank God for him. He has been an 
ornament to the Universalist denomination, an able 
and eloquent workman in it, and continued to feel as 
keen an interest in its well-being in his recent months 
and days of failing strength, as when he first con- 
secrated his young manhood and loyal heart to its 
service. Nothing in his life will ever cause regret 
or shame to any of us ; but rather his whole life and 
work will ever be a cause for gratitude and pride. 
His work has been true, open, devoted, self-sacrificing, 
grand. And those who now mourn his loss — and 
there will be many of them — may be partially com- 
forted by the reflection that though his bodily form 
and genial presence and words of cheer will be with 
us no more, yet his excellent example will remain to 
us as an indestructible inheritance, and worth more 
than rubies." 

Perhaps no one of our ministers had enjoyed a 
fuller or more intimate acquaintance with our excellent 
brother, in the later years of his life, than brother 
Brighain, who had been a recent pastor of the church 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 15 

at Elgin — and he is pleased to speak of him in the 
following manner : 

" In the death of Rev. W. S. Balch, D. D., the 
Universal ist church loses one of its oldest and most 
respected ministers, and the church universal one of its 
most devout and saintly characters. He was widely 
and favorably known in all parts of the country, and 
his name was a household word in all Universalist 
families. His eminent services to the church and 
cause of righteousness entitle him to be ranked as one 
of the foremost preachers of his generation. His active 
and able participation in the temperance cause, and all 
other moral questions brought oefore the American 
people for the past sixty years, clearly rank him as one 
of our most worthy and highly respected citizens. He 
was closely identified with the history of our church, 
and his life and labors did much to obtain for us a 
recognition and to lay the foundation for our prosper- 
ity as a Christian church. This generation cannot 
fully realize the difficulties under which he labored, 
nor overestimate the value of his services on behalf of 
our church. Dr. Balch was born in Xew England, and 
inherited the rare, intellectual and moral gifts which 
have distinguished his ancestry. His pronounced con- 
victions and firmness in maintaining them, with his 
bold and fearless hatred and denunciation of evil, are 
characteristics of the old Puritan stock. He was such 
a man as might be looked for in the case of such an 
ancestry. He was one of a company of remarkable 
preachers who gave new character to the Christian 
thought of the age and religious life of the country. 
His labors extended over a period of more than sixty 
years. During his ministry our church passed through 
a period of sharp controversy, with which Dr. Balch 
was closely identified and became an able defender of 
the faith. He was not merely polemic in his methods 
of work, but a preacher of the gospel of righteousness, 



16 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

and a valiant soldier of the cross, reflecting in his own 
life and character the beauty of holiness. My 
acquaintance with him, beginning under pleasant cir- 
cumstances some years ago, ripened into a lasting 
friendship. He always exercised a kindly judgment 
and a fatherly spirit that irresistibly drew me to him 
for counsel and sympathy, and never was I sent away 
empty. His wide and varied experience with men and 
affairs of life, combined with a wonderful memory and 
large amount of common sense, made him a wise coun- 
sellor. Dr. Balch was an eloquent speaker, and though 
somewhat diffusive, never failed to interest and hold 
his audience. Every word and attitude of the man 
expressed his devotion, sincerity and earnestness. 
Honest in thought, sincere in purpose, loyal to his 
friends, openhearted and plain spoken, he could tol- 
erate no hypocrisy or pretense. To him Christianity 
was more a life than creed, a character rather than pro- 
fession, and the preaching of righteousness more than 
organization. His life attested the sincerity of these 
convictions, having lived a consistent Christian, and 
passed to his rest crowned with glory and honor. Dr. 
Balch had a commanding presence, a strong and active 
mind, a lofty ideal and a tender heart. He maintained 
a pure heart and a spotless example. His life work 
remains as a priceless legacy in our church, and his 
successful career as a Christian minister becomes an 
inspiration to all who labor for the advancement of 
God's kingdom. 

" My more intimate association w^ith Father Balch 
was during my pastorate of the church in Elgin. His 
friendship was steadfast and bis support cordial and 
liberal. His spirit w T as gentle and his judgments char- 
itable. I learned to place implicit confidence in the 
man, and always found him unwavering in his faith, 
steadfast in his adherance to Christian principles, and 
every way worthy of confidence. He was, indeed, a 
model ex-pastor. My words and methods were never 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCII. IT 

subjects of adverse criticism before the public, but what- 
ever criticism or advice he had to offer was always given 
in private and in a kind and fatherly spirit. I dearly- 
loved the man and can not realize he has left us forever, 
and that I shall never again look upon his bodily form, 
feel his genial presence, and listen to his words of cheer. 
I recall now his last visit to the ministers' meeting when 
I was present. 

" The subject under consideration was the relation 
of the church to the Sunday-school, and Dr. Balch 
spoke feelingly regarding the little children, and the 
necessity of giving them good advantages and early re- 
ligious training, admonishing the brethren to care for 
the little ones. We mourn, but not as those without 
hope, for life is continuous, and there is a ' restitution 
of all things/ and we believe that this man, so richly 
endowed with native and acquired gifts, so faithful in 
his friendship, so illustrious in citizenship, so true and 
sincere in religion, and eminent in the Christian virtues, 
is not dead, and that we shall meet again. Farewell, 
my dear and venerable friend, having passed the stormy 
period of life, rest thou in peace! Thou hast passed to 
thy reward ripe in years and experience, respected by 
all men. and with the priceless gift of an untarnished 
name, bright as the stars. Thy life hath enriched the 
world, which will hold thee in loving remembrance/' 

Truly we may say a great and good man, full of 
noblest deeds, occupying largest places, and doing most 
faithful service for his denomination, and for every 
good cause, with a hold on the hearts of vast multi- 
tudes of people, as but few have ever held, has passed 
from earth to a better home than any of the homes of 
earth can afford. He has been called to a higher and 
wider sphere of honor and effort, being lifted up through 
this life to that which is ampler and better. He has 
been gathered to his fathers, having the testimony of 



18 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

a good conscience, in favor with God. and in perfect 
charity with the whole world. The pulpit and press 
throughout the country have been quick in vying with 
each other to bespeak his praises, and to lament his de- 
parture with tentlerest testimonials of their sorrow at 
the loss of one who has been so widely known, and so 
honored and loved in the hearts of so many. We may 
well say, as in the beautiful lines of Miss E. J. Stickney : 

Thy work on earth is done, 
The da}' has dawned for thee, 
A Christmas day unending, 
For God has called thee home. 

For thee no more earth's pain and care, 
But gain surpassing human thought. 
******* 

Thy efforts grand to raise and lead 
Mankind to better deeds, 
And broader thought of God's great love 
And mercy, and man's brotherhood, 
Remains a priceless gilt. 
******* 

Thy path of duty followed long, 
And purity of purpose gave 
A recompense of peace. 

Heaven's deepest joys be thine, 

My father's life long friend and mine, 

With reverence from childhood felt, 

As ooe of many who will say, 

"My life was blest by him.'' 

This tribute to thy faithfulness 

I lay upon thy grave. 

And now commences the endeavor to sketch as 
faithfully as may be the life and labors of the hero of 
this storv, which mav the good God direct to His own 
wise ends and purposes, as the prayer of so many will 
be. And in tracing here what he whose history these 
pages will disclose has to say of the object, of this 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 19 

work, as I gather it from manuscript placed at my 
disposal, and other sources to which I have applied, 
containing many interesting and teeming events, allow 
me to quote from what his own hand has recorded: 

'To-day I am just half way across my eightieth year, 
and I begin a work which has often been urged upon 
me by many friends. I doit hesitatingly, m part to 
gratify them, but chiefly to convince young people 
;hat an earnest and constant endeavor to do right in 
all things will surely secure for them fair success, 
prosperity and happiness, however humble their birth, 
strong their temptation, and great their difficulties 
which may seem to hedge their pathway before them." 

"The young need encouragement, example, faith 
and hope. Those in mid-age who have patience to 
read the record of a plain, humble, active life may 
find something to instruct and entertain. The aged, I 
am sure, will be reminded of conditions and events in 
the long past, and, by contrast with the present, be 
thankful for what they have seen and enjoyed." 

Then as he proceeds he speaks of the general char- 
acter and object of biography, and says : 

u Biography truly written is to be regarded as 
among the most interesting and profitable reading. It 
becomes a study to the thoughtful in the formation 
of character. The novels and romances so much read 
are little else than personal biographies, painted in 
gaudy colors, so intermingled as to excite and please; 
sometimes real; too often imaginary, extravagant and 
impossible. What is history bnt a narrative of personal 
and associated desires, purposes, plans, actions and re- 
sults, or successes and failures, for the good or injury 
of mankind I " 

He speaks of autobiography after this manner: 

"An error in biography, written by another, is. 
that • the author too often writes himself instead of 



20 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

his subject. At best he accounts for facts, and colors 
them by his own or others' impressions and feelings. 
He cannot know, except by inference, what were the 
serious thoughts, real principles, controlling motives 
and outside influences which led to the conduct and 
character he attempts to describe. He makes an ideal 
hero to adorn his book, or dresses in rags an honest 
man to gratify a grudge. Every man, the deeds and 
needs of whose life are worth recording, can best write 
his own Biography. To do so may by some be 
thought egotistic. There is the danger that he may 
magnify his virtues beyond their true measure, and be 
blind to his own faults. If honest he will do neither. 
Conscious of his race on the earth being nearly run, his 
work nearly finished, and his actual record made, it 
would be a shameful sin, and a deserved disgrace, to 
write his own hypocrisy, and leave it to witness against 
his memory. Better that he repent, and leave silence 
behind him.' " 

Then as he continues, his words are : 

" I have done no great or marvelous deeds whereof 
to boast. Born and bred in comparative obscurity, I 
have never coveted wealth, or obtained it. Nor have I 
preferred the honor that comes from men to that which 
comes from God. My chief battles have been fought 
witli myself. Though earnest and active in what was 
clear to me as beino- right and dutv. in the minutest as 

© © 

in the greatest, I have aspired to live an honest, a use- 
ful and honorable life, mingling my own o-ood with the 

© © i © 

good of my fellow men, my prosperity and happiness 
with theirs, as a common brother in a common human- 
ity. With these principles I have pursued the even 
tenor of my way as far as possible, as I have advanced 
from childhood to old age. and I have found favor and 
abundant reward all the way, far above my expecta- 
tions. Having been so prospered and blest in my hum- 
ble career, I now sit down to detail, briefly as I can, 
some of the fruits consequent upon such a course of 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 21 

action, honestly begun and steadily pursued for the 
benefit of those who are and those who are to be. I 
do it that they may be persuaded to shun the way of 
evil which inevitably leads to trials, disappointments 
and misery, and often to untimely death ; and to 
choose and follow the open path of sincerity, purity, 
honesty, fidelity, humility and duty, which certainly 
leads to honor,' peace, plenty, happiness and long life, 
Avith flowers freely scattered all the way from the 
cradle to the grave, and bright hopes of a brighter 
future always before them." 

It seems that he could not have always been careful 
to keep a diary or journal of his life, for in speaking 
of the difficulty of knowing what to write, and what 
to leave unwritten, we have the following from his 
pen : 

" It is from fragmentary memoranda, jotted down 
from time to time from the age of sixteen onward, and 
from the help of a strong and clear memory, that I 
gather material for what I write. I shall be compelled 
to condense much, and to erase more, lest the book be 
so large that but few will have the courage to read it." 

He states again the purpose for which he writes: 

"My first and leading thought will be to help edu- 
cate the young, and prepare them for the life before 
them, but also to give symmetry and strength of pur- 
pose to manhood. To do this for the higher attain- 
ments of a rational, reasonable and true life, however 
humble its origin, or great the obstacles which hinder 
it, is the object of this work. To this object the study 
and main purpose of my life has been devoted." 

His final remarks are, that: 

'•'Having lived in one of the most interesting peri- 
ods of the world's historv, from 1806 to 1886 (it was 



22 B1SV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 

in that year he was writing what he here pens), I must 
have been a dull observer indeed not to have noted 
some of the wonderful events which have transpired 
between these years worth describing for the benefit 
of those whose duty it should be to go forward in the 
highway of progress toward the perfect, in all that 
helps to broaden the views, deepen the convictions, and 
warm the soul into a clearer apprehension of the wise 
and benevolent purpose of Him who created man ' to 
glorify and enjoy Him forever.'" 

Mr. Balch, I am sure, ought to be able to speak out 
of a ripe experience, and we can not doubt that every- 
thing of the above is judiciously conceived. 



CHAPTER II. 

ANCESTRY. 

I continue to quote largely, and to give this account 
as much as possible in the language of Mr. Balch him- 
self ; and it will be perceived that he never fortified his 
claim to the popular regard by allusions to any illus- 
trious ancestry, but on the contrary avoided courting 
the favor of the worldly great. Much of what he says 
is calculated to remind one of what Nathaniel P. Pogers 
once told of himself: "That he was well enough de- 
scended, but had nothing of uppish blood in him ; that 
he believed one of his progenitors was hung, and back 
farther one was burned at the stake, so that he could 
not help seeing equal humanity in any living creatures, 
however neglected or despised." 

Mr. Balch opens on this subject by saying: 

" Biographies are usually introduced with a grand 
overture, detailing the good and wise and great trace- 
able in the lives of a long line of ancestors. The at- 
tempt is made to find some taint of genius or excellence 
which must have descended by force of natural hered- 
ity through many generations, and centered finally 
in the hero of the narrative. Success in this direction 
is thought to be the augury of continued greatness, and 
bespeaks a favorable reception boy careless readers. 
under the promise of an enticing book. It fell to my 
lot to come into the world with no such prestige to 
help me through it." 

"The knowledge and example of great and good 
23 



24 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

deeds, and eminent virtues in parents, may inspire a 
noble ambition and beget a feeling of responsibility in 
children, sufficient to lead them to untiring effort to 
live worthy of the name they bear. And so the influ- 
ence of good society may awaken in children, born in 
low and degraded conditions, a desire and a resolution 
to rise out of it, and become worthy to associate with 
the good in the truer walks of life. But it will never 
do, in this age and country of democratic feeling and 
public schools, to plead the purity and nobleness of an- 
cestral blood to exalt our virtues or cover our vices. 
Every person is self-dependent to form for himself a 
character to be respected ; to weave for his own brow a 
chaplet of honorable distinction or to sink into ob- 
scurit} 7 or deserved disgrace. 

" I never tried to learn much about my pedigree. I 
knew ray paternal grandfather, for I was often at his 
house when a boy. He used to tell me what he did and 
suffered during the war of the revolution; how on hear- 
ing' of the fights at Lexington and Concord he left his 
home with several of his neighbors; shouldered his 
musket and started for Bunker Hill, reached Charles- 
town Neck just in time to cover the retreat, while balls 
from the British ships went whistling over their heads ; 
how he was at the battle of Stillwater, and Saratoga, 
and was hurt by a limb falling on his head, cut from a 
tree by one of Rurgoyne's cannon balls; how he win- 
tered at Peekskill on the Hudson, and at Valley Forge, 
deprived of every comfort, at times almost starving, 
and continued to serve seven years, till that war was end- 
ed, and then returned home half clad, with some almost 
worthless bits of paper, called Continental money, in 
his pocket. Sometimes he would take down his old 
musket, which lay in two wooden hooks nailed to a 
beam overhead, and show us boys the drill of Baron 
Steuben. It was enough for me to start from such a 
grandsire, without going farther back to trace my 
genealogy." 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 25 

"I did once, however, ask him about his ancestors 
when grown to manhood, and he over ninety. It was 
one of his 'bright days,' as my aunt called them. He 
was in a very happy mood, talkative, and even merry. 
He had made many inquiries about my condition, mv 
family, how it fared with us, and what our prospects 
were. I finally ventured to tell him that I had some- 
times been curious to know something about the history 
of our family — where we had come from, and what we 
had done that was worth our while to know. 

"The old gentleman roused up, and said rather 
seriously, 'What is that to us? We have only our own 
conduct to answer for, and honors won by others might 
not set well on our shoulders.' k That is very true.' I 
replied, ' in a certain sense. I have no desire to share 
honors or emoluments which I do not deserve. Still 
it is some satisfaction to know something of one's fore- 
fathers.' ' I have good reason to desire no such thing, ' 
he said in a somewhat subdued and grave tone, 'for I 
have alwa} T s thought it a disgrace to accept property or 
honors not gained by ourselves but by others : ' to 
which I replied that property without industry and 
praise without merit do more harm than good. He told 
me I was right, and he would gratify me as far as he 
knew, and began, saying, 'I was born in the Old Bay State, 
town of Newbury, and I lived when a child with my 
mother in Boston. My father I never saw. I was told 
that he was a sea captain, and was lost with all his 
crew when on a voyage to the West Indies.' 

"After some explanations of my aunt, what she 
had learned, he added, 'yes, my mother left me when 
I was young. She was married to a British officer, 
and went to live in Halifax, the home of Tories in those 
days. I have been told she died there, and left me sev- 
eral hundred dollars, which I never received, and it is 
just as well. So you see that you have nothing to boast 
of or expect on that score." 



26 REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 

" I may say that there are now two diligent per- 
sons, working on different lines to search out the origin 
of the name. Both have followed one branch back as 
far as Scituate in the Plymouth colony, and mixed it 
with the early Pilgrims. One has traced it as far as the 
southwest of England, where the ancient Britons re- 
tained their last hold on English soil, and found it 
there. I have once or twice found the name in Eng- 
land, I think in Bath or Bristol. I saw the name with 
one letter changed in Wales. I have seen it also in 
Germany with the plural "en" added, Balchen. I have 
read of it in 'Prideaux' connections, as the name of 
an important city in Bactria. But all these are trifles, 
as the predicate of a renown that is ever to be sought 
after. Self-reliance on the eternal Good and Wise and 
Just and Holy, and obedience to His perfect and univer- 
sal law, is the basis of all true honor, prosperity and 
happiness. ' 

He would not acknowledge that blood counted for 
anything, or that ancestry was any help to a man, only 
so far as it inspired him with noble purposes. 



CHAPTEK III. 

PARENTAGE. 

Bro. Balch tells us that " a man has a riffht to 
speak of his parentage and childhood, and tell the 
truth, that others may know how he has come forth into 
life, what his outfit has been, and what the course has 
been that he has pursued. How else can an account of 
his experiences and character be complete and of use 
to others ? 

" My father, Joel Balch, was the oldest son of Hart 
Balch. His mother's maiden name was Priscilla Holt. 
Among the earliest things I remember of my childhood 
was the visit of her mother, my great grandmother, at 
my father's, when I was less than four years old. She 
had just been married at the age of eighty-four, and 
rode from Crown Point, X. Y., sixty-four miles on 
horseback for a wedding tour. My mother s maiden name 
was Betsey Stevens. Her mother's name was Greene, a 
relative of General Greene of Revolutionary fame. Her 
father's name was William Stevens, from which I took 
rny name. He was a soldier of the Revolution, and 
one of the first Justices of the Peace in Andover. My 
mother taught the first school in Andover. 

" So far as I have learned, my parents and grand- 
parents were esteemed as good neighbours, and honest 
and respectable citizens. There were no social classifi- 
cations in those days in that region ; but very little 
now, so far as personal merit may go. None were 
rich ; few were poor. One did not esteem himself 
above another. He was best who served most, and in- 

27 



28 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

terfered least in other people's matters, by industry and 
economy, obtaining an honest and comfortable living. 
To be an office-seeker was scarcely a grade lower than 
a sheep-steal er. My father was entrusted with a full 
share of public business. He served many years as one 
of the Selectmen, Justice of the Peace, Representative 
to the Legislature, and in other public positions. He 
was often consulted in the settlement of public and pri- 
vate affairs. He was a strict domestic disciplinarian, 
kind and generous, but always setting before his chil- 
dren the duty of obedience to parents, respect for su- 
periors, careful self-government, self-respect, and right 
behaviour toward companions. He inculcated the right 
of personal liberty, and a feeling of mutual responsi- 
bility." 

At a memorial service held in Dubuque, Iowa, on 
the occasion of the death of Bro. Balch, Judge Adams, 
who at an early da} T had his home in that section of the 
country where young Balch had been raised, says : 

" Dr. Batch's father was one of the representative 
men of Vermont. He was not a great man as the 
world counts greatness. He was a man of simple ways, 
strong common-sense, and rugged, sterling character. 
In property, like his neighbors, he was not rich. The 
town indeed never had a rich man, and probably never 
will have. And I think it is equally true that it never 
produced a beggar. Most of its inhabitants have 
trodden closely on the boundary line between comfort 
and want, generally enjoying the former. Their con- 
dition, at least, was not very attractive to the casual 
observer, but amid their humble surroundings, they 
never failed to cherish a blind discontent ; not that 
which would pull down, but that which would build up. 
They had in their minds a grand ideal, for which nothing 
in their outward circumstances seemed to afford very 
much warrant. " 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS EALCH. 29 

Bro. Balch recalls matters of his mother's death, 



occurring when he was very young. The following 
are his words : 

<; My mother died before I was four years old. and I 
remember two things distinctly of her. She was lying 
on her bed, sick and pale with consumption. My older 
brother and I had done some mischief, and we were 
taken to her for correction. In loving words, she told 
us that it was very wrong to do such things, and she 
hoped we would be good boys and do nothing that 
was improper, for it made her unhappy, and would 
make us so. When she was about to die they took me 
to her bedside, and said 'This is William.' She turned 
her eyes upon me with a look that I have never forgot- 
ten ; then laying her hand upon my head she looked 
up to Heaven, and moved her lips as if in prayer to 
God that He might be my protector and guide. 

"It was the winter before this that my parent took 
me to the funeral of an uncle, the earliest thing that I 
have treasured in my memory. It was the house of 
my grandfather, and the yard was full of teams, and 
the house full of people. My father lifted me up to 
the face in the coffin, and many were crying. Xot 
long after my mother's death my sister Susan, younger 
than myself, died, and two years later my oldest sis- 
ter, Priseilla, aged sixteen. This was to me a sad 
event, for she had loved and cared for me during my 
father's widowhood with every proof of a sister's love. 
These events cast a shadow over my young life which 
left a tinge of sadness that never quite faded from my 
memory.'' 

Having written thus far, the thought crowded on 
Bro. Baku's mind something after this fashion, that it 
was a great piece of vanity, and opinionated confi- 
dence, that his life had been worthy of any consider- 
able place in the annals of time. 



30 KEY. WILLIAM STEYEXS BALCH. 

If this work he was engaged in was ever to be done 
at all, some one else who should see him with other eyes 
than his, must paint him as he was, and the pen was 
thrown aside only to the taken up after six months had 
passed, when his eightieth birthday had transpired, in 
which many friends of his thought well to notice so 
memorable an event and gave him his reception in 
Chicago. 

It was now that his more partial sympathizers be- 
gan once more to importune him to leave to the world 
the memoranda, at least from which could be compiled 
important lessons of his history, for his life had been 
too valuable to be passed over in silence. He gives ex- 
pression to his thought, saying. 

u So far I had written, when the capital 'I' looked 
so prominent, suggesting self and egotism, that I hesi- 
tated, faltered and gave it up. Since then I have crossed 
the limit of active manhood into the realm of old age, 
and no longer have aught to hope or fear from the 
praise or censure of the world. The manifestation un- 
dreamed of by me, bestowed on my eightieth birthday 
by numerous friends and many strangers, has so stimu- 
lated, strengthened and cheered me, that I have taken 
courage and again given heed to the renewed advice of 
those who have known me best, and start to write in 
brief the story of my life and labors." 

He now sets out with seemingly a more steady pur- 
pose to do what he had been so reluctant to attempt. 
His first work is to give an account of his birth and 
childhood. 



CHAPTER IV. 

BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD. 

But very little need be said under this head, and 
that little we will let Mr. Balch furnish himself. 

" I was born," he says, " in the obscure town of An- 
dover. Yt., April 13, 1806, in a house of two rooms, 
partly of logs, and situated on a road that was after- 
ward given up. and the house allowed to go to ruins. 
It was when I was only a few months old that my 
father moved from this house to where he had charge 
of a grist and saw-mill, afterwards returning to An- 
dover, where he lived and died. My childhood was 
spent like the childhood of most poor farmer boys, in a 
comparatively new and sparsely settled town in those 
days of rural simplicity, not as they were and are in 
villages and cities at the present time, rather more 
strictly perhaps than many of my playmates. 

" The first lesson I learned was the First Command- 
ment with promise, a lesson I never forgot. It was 
well for me I did not ; and I think it would be well for 
every child and parent, and for the world at large, if it 
were strictly enforced in kindness in all cases, never 
in anger, always in love. 

"In the family we were never allowed to speak, 
but always taught to listen while others were talking. 
We never sat at table until we were able to work, but 
sat upon a low bench in the chimney corner, with our 
pewter basins of bread, or hasty pudding and milk. 
Our food was always plain, but sufficient, and served 
to nourish and build up strong constitutions. The fine 
art of spoiling food by cooking to tickle the palate 

31 



32 REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 

and create a false appetite was not much known in 
that region at that time. Our clothing was very plain, 
all home-spun. The tailoress came once a year to cut, 
baste and lit coats for the elders, and the cobbler to 
make and mend the shoes and boots ; but home talent 
cut and made dresses for the girls, and frocks and 
trousers for the boys, patching them when necessary. 
Truckle-beds were fashionable in those days, and the 
boys went bare-foot in the summer. 

' " While I was yet a child, wearing a frock, I went 
with my three sisters and older brother to school, a 
mile from home, by the abandoned road leading by the 
old house where I was born. I looked upon that 
rained shanty with a reverence scarcely exceeded while 
wandering among the ruins of Baalbec, Karnock and 
the temples, tombs and ruined cities of the East. AVe 
had few playthings with which to amuse ourselves. 
Broken bits of crockery we converted into dishes, and 
on two great bowlder stones not far apart, away up in 
the pasture, we used to play house-keeping, go visiting, 
keep school and hold meetings, and thus imitate the 
ways of our elders. It was a great joy afterwards to 
sit upon those rocks and gaze upon the bold romantic 
scenery spread all around save on the west, prevented 
there by the ridge of Mt. Terrible. Markhams and 
Globe Mountains. Wide over the hill country the view 
extended to the grand Monadnock in Xew Hampshire, 
"Wachuset in Massachusetts, and alono- the o-ranite 
ridges which were seen as far as the eye could reach. 
I was a great admirer of Nature, and loved the hills 
and valleys of my native State. And it was then that 
I drank in my uncontrollable fondness of natural 
scenery and the desire to travel over the earth's 
surface." A fondness that seemed to remain with 
him as Ions; as he lived. 



CHAPTER V. 

BOYHOOD AND YOUTH. 

" At the age of seYen. if not earlier, we were all 
taught that we had something to do in the way of 
work. This we understood was to be our lot when out 
of school : the girls to do housework, knitting, sewing, 
spinning, weaving, etc.; the boys to do chores, running 
of errands, picking up chips and stones, bringing in 
wood, riding on horseback to plow out the corn. and. 
indeed, doing many kinds of light work which we were 
capable of." 

At ten years old our boy began to use the axe and 
spade, and the scythe some, and to keep busy in what- 
ever was to be done. At fourteen he strove to do a 
man's work, and succeeded fairly. It is easy to per- 
ceive that he was occupied with work far beyond the 
great majority of boys of our own times. He tells us 
that he was never called lazy but once : that, when 
about ten years old. his father wanted something done. 
and he did not fly around Cjuite as quick as he desired, 
and he said : 

; * I thought you were going to be a good smart boy 
to work, but I am afraid you will be a lazy lout." " I 
have never," he says, " been accused of laziness since. 
I have heeded his lessons to do a thing- when it ought 
to be done, or not at all. and to do it well : not delay 
lest I should hinder others: never to ask another to do 
for me what I could do for myself ; and always to be 

33 



3 J. THE LIFE AND LAB0ES OF 

on time ; to put everything in its place, and never to 
go where I was not wanted. I learned these lessons 
early and never forgot them. They have been con- 
stantly impressed upon my mind in all the matters of 
my after-life. Looking upon life,''" he says, " as a seri- 
ous responsibility, presenting prospects of good or evil 
requiring much thought, and much self-denial, as Avell 
as constant care, and involving duties which must not 
be trifled with, it became a leading object with me to 
find out what I was in the world for ; what the pur- 
pose, possibilities and end of my being ; and the source 
and means of a useful, honest, honorable and happy 
life/' 

He speaks of his opportunity of learning from books 
as being very limited. " Never but a single book," he 
tells us, " Hale's History of the United States, was ever 
bouffht for him to studv, as the vounger of the family 
always used the books of the older." The school 
which he attended was always taught by a woman in 
the summer, and was twelve weeks in duration. That 
in the winter by a man was eight weeks. After he 
was eight years old he had no privileges of schooling, 
except three months in winter and on rainy days in 
summer. By the laws of Vermont only a few of the 
most common branches were taught, and these he had 
mastered when he was fourteen. As he had no means 
of advancing his studies beyond this number, he con- 
tinued to review them for two winters, and so became 
thoroughly familiar with them. There were but very 
few books to read in those times, among which he 
names " the Bible, the New England Primer. Watts' 
Psalms and Hymns and The Columbian Orator." 



REV. WILLIAM BTEVENS EALCII. 35 

There was a small Town Library, out of which he pro- 
cured The Scottish Chiefs and Chalmers on Astrono- 
my. The latter he read at fourteen with intense inter- 
est while making maple sugar in the woods. This 
opened to his young mind a vast region for thought of 
which he had never dreamed. He says : 

,; It lifted me out of the grooves of common think- 
ing, and set me on the edge of a new world for explor- 
ation, and I felt that I must not neglect my work, and 
so toiled the harder for time to read and meditate. 
On that high eminence, in the midst of the native for- 
est, while alone, with the broad heavens over me, and 
silence all around, was just the place for a mind like 
mine to read such discourses, and drink in the spirit that 
pervaded them. It was of immense service to me, in 
opening a broad field for mental and moral cultivation, 
and especially in enlightening me in regard to Chris- 
tianity." 

The other work he tells us he read evenings while 
his father Avas from home, which o-ave him a better 
chance to the light. This he read as a fiction, and won- 
dered how much of it was true. But his mothers Bi- 
ble furnished his chief reading, which was only Sun- 
davs. rainv da vs. short noonings and evenino-s, and as 
he had to work hard he was often too tired to read, put 
in his time to the best advantage. 

"I never liked to read," he says, " about bloody 
wars, and some of the wicked transactios recorded in 
the Old Testament. In fact I must say I have never 
in my life enjoyed hearing, or reading about the quar- 
relings. fightings, and bickerings which have made 
miserable, and disgraced men and nations in past ages. 
From my earliest thinking it has seemed strange that 
men should make a business of studying how to kill 



36 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

their fellow men: how to make widows and orphans, 
and fill the world with misery and mourning. As rea- 
sonable beings they should find better employment 
than studying the arts, the refinements, and heroisms 
and horrors of war. In this they are more ferocious 
than any of the lower animals. They are not brutish, 
they are more than brutish, for brutes never study 
the*" arts and contrivances to kill. In seeing cats, 
dogs and children fighting, I always want the weak- 
est to conquer. I never had any courage to fight. 
I never thought it brotherly or Christianly to do so, 
for men or for natious. I can not say that I ever 
admired Amazons." 

"In my earlier classical studies (what little I had) 
and in later years, even to this day my soul had revolt- 
ed at the vivid descriptions of the ancient historians 
and poets, who tell us of the jealousies and dark deeds 
of the gods and heroes they paint so glowingly; quar- 
rels in heaven, and sin and shame upon the earth, and 
vengeance and tortures, and disorders generally. It 
seemed to me a great waste of time and talent, to study 
dead languages to learn what evil thoughts and vain 
desires are leading men and women to pursue lives of 
sin and shame, which so sadly disgrace human nature, 
and make a polluted wreck of what the good and wise 
Creator must have intended for His rational offspring. 
Equally unpleasant and odious seemed the wranglings 
and divisions which worldly ambitions, selfishness and 
pride brought into the Christian church in the early 
centuries, which continued to increase down through 
the dark ages, and still linger in diverse forms, despite 
the light and freedom of the present day. The ante 
and post Nicene fathers never had much attraction for 
me. The glorious gospel of the blessed God. which 
told of one God the' Father, one Lord the Savior, one 
Humanity, a Brotherhood, and one final, holy, happy 
destiny, all of which was contained in my mother's 
Bible/and is fully sustained by my purest desires, my 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 37 

best reason and highest hopes, is much more to my 
mind; and I saw little good in trying to follow the 
savage trails through the vast wilderness of the dismal 
past. I was early impressed with theconviction that it 

was the duty, and should be the business, of every man 
and woman to live inlove, peace and good-will toward 
all men. and do all the good possible." 

"I may say that so vivid and strong were my im- 
pressions of the grand scenery, historic events, pure 
and lofty sentiments, and poetic descriptions found in 
the Bible, lifting the thoughts of people above the gross- 
er matters of common Life, that I was early inspired 
with a living desire which grew into a purpose, to visit 
those lands, and see where patriarchs and prophets, 
Jesus and His disciples lived and labored to bless and 
save the world from sin, sorrow and death, a thing 
which seemed almost impossible I ever should do in 
my humble condition, but still dreamed of by night 
and by day, and has since been accomplished to my 
great satisfaction and profit. 

•* When quite a small boy my father bid off, as the 
fashion j sometimes has been, one of the town paupers, 
an old lady called Aunt Polly, to take care of at 
ninety-two cents a week. She was a quiet body, but 
very pious after her kind, and wonderfully notional, 
even to being whimsical. She had the only plastered 
room in the house, with fire and furniture all to her- 
self. I used to bring in her wood and do little chores, for 
which she allowed me to read in her large New Testa- 
ment, much larger than our Bible. Sometimes I read 
to her aloud. One day she asked me if I understood 
what I was reading. I thought 1 did. and so answered 
her. But she then and afterward talked to me about 
different matters, as to how we were all po >r, depraved 
creatures. *odious in the sight of God until we were 
converted, and would be sent to hell when we died to 
suffer forever in a lake of fire and brimstone, unless we 
repented and believed in Jesus. It frightened me and I 



38 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

asked my father if it was so. He said indifferently, 'I 
hope not.' 

" I asked her one time what it meant to be con- 
verted. She said 1 was too young to understand it. I 
asked her how I could get converted. She didn't 
know; I must wait and learn. I asked her if I should 
die before being converted what would become of me. 
She feared I would go to hell. I afterward inquired 
if my mother and sisters were in hell. She was afraid 
they were, for she never heard they were converted. 

"I pondered over these things with much anxiety, 
and was very sad whenever I thought of them. I grew 
afraid of the dark, for I did not know what evil crea- 
tures there were lurking about to catch me. I was de- 
tained at a neighbor's one afternoon a little later than 
usual, till it was beginning to be dark, and was to re- 
turn by a way where the dense shade of the trees 
would lnake my path difficult to follow. Observing 
fire-flies darting here and there, I could imagine the 
eyes of imps watching me, to catch me as I crossed an 
old bridge close at hand. O, the horrors that seized 
me ! I think my hair must have stood on end. I looked 
neither to the right nor left, but walked straight on. 
When over the bridge, and past a dark spruce woods I 
ran with all speed into my chamber, jumped into bed, 
covered my head and felt safe. Xo language can de- 
scribe the misery I endured while trying to be good, 
but thinking I was all bad, and could do nothing to 
help myself in any way. Aunt Polly told mefcfce more 
I tried to be a good boy the worse I was off. for only 
God could convert anybody. I could not understand 
it, and the more I tried to, the worse it all seemed. I 
did not ask others about it, for I did not know any but 
her who were converted. My father was a dilligent 
reader of the Bible, but not a professor of religion. 
Often I used to go away by myself and think of these 
things, till, almost frio-htened out of mv senses. I would 
tremble all over. "When I thought of my mother and 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCBT. 3^ 

sisters, where they were, I wished I had never been 
born." 

"When Iwas nearly twelve years old Elder Mannings 
the only preacher in town, preached a sermon from 
the text, 'By grace are ye saved, and that not of 
yourselves.' In it he argued the sentiments of Aunt 
Folly very emphatically, making salvation depend upon 
the election of grace according to the foreknowledge 
and determinate council of God, and not on personal 
effort, for the creature could do nothing of himself but 
evil. A few months after it he gave another sermon 
from the text, 'AVhere is boasting then? It is ex- 
cluded. By what law? Of works? Nay; but by the law 
of faith/ During the sermon he drew a line, and said 
substantially that the sinners were all on one side and 
the saints on the other, and asked, 'How shall the 
former get over to the other side from where they are? 
They can do nothing to set themselves over, for if they 
could they could boast. Here I am over, and why 
won't you come? You cannot pray to get over. You 
cannot pray to pray to get over. It is faith that takes 
them up, and sets them over upon the other side.' 

"As we walked away from the church I asked a 
boy older than myself respecting the matters of the 
sermon. He could tell no more about it than I could. 
We concluded that it was all over with us. unless we 
were among the elect, and that we were or were not of 
that number was not for us to know. And still do 
what we would, do something or do nothing it was all 
the same for God was going to bring every thing about 
to please Himself, not us. The conclusion was not very 
satisfactory, but so it was. 

" In the afternoon it was quite a common custom 
with Mr. Manning to improve upon the morning serv- 
ice as it was called, and he preached a full hour and 
a half from the same text, rehearsing in part what had 
occupied an hour before, and closed the whole with a 
fervent exhortation, that, as ' he had that day set 
before his hearers the way of salvation, the way of life 



4'" 1 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

and of death, the way to heaven and the way to hell; 
it was now left with them to choose which road they 
were going to take. If God was God ' he told us, 
1 serve Him ; but if Baal then serve him. I have 
cleared the skirts of my garments from the blood of 
your souls. It is for you to decide what you will do — 
be saved or be damned, forever and ever/ 

" On our way home that afternoon we were sad 
and anxious. At the forks of the road, where we were 
to part, my young friend and I sat under a tree where 
we had often sat to discuss more important subjects. 
and talked over the sermon we had heard. All seemed 
more dark and incomprehensible than ever. We had 
often been told that we must not use our reason on 
religious subjects, and so concluded that there was no 
use in trying to do anything. We could only wait, 
take things as they came, and abide the consequences. 
We proposed to give it all up, and let it go; for turn 
whichever way we would nothing would be changed, 
and, of course, nothing would be gained by it. 

" Upon arriving home I found my father discussing 
the sermon with a neighbor. I listened to them, and 
discovered that their conclusions were much like ours. 
My father said with emphasis, 'Well, after all, it 
amounts to just this : You can and you can't ; You 
shall and you shan't ; You will and you won't ; and 
you will be d — d it yon don't/ I was horrified. My 
father doubt Elder Manning who is a converted man, 
and a student of the Bible? He is not a Christian. He 
is nothing but a natural man. and " the natural man 
receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are 
spiritually discerned' — a passage of Scripture which I 
had often heard the Elder quote till I had it by heart. 
and did not know why it was not as plain as anything 
of a mathematical character." 

The son makes the statement : 

"My father was called a Freethinker, as most in the 
town were, which the Elder said meant 'Infidelity of 



BEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 41 

the worst kind, for the moral and benevolent man who 
had never been converted was more dangerous to the 
souls of men than the must rebellious sinner, since he 
is looked upon and respected, and thus his influence is 
detrimental to religion.' He also tells us his own 
thought, that his father, like a great man} 7 others, mis- 
took in one thing, for he found as he grew older that 
he had always been a believer in Christianity, but with 
the least confidence in the forms, and pretensions, and 
special tenets of sectarians; for by the fruits of their 
conduct otherwise, in the realities and duties enjoined 
by the Gospel, they were really no better than those 
they condemned. His neglect was, that he did not 
explain these things to his children, and help them 
understand what was a more rational, truthful, and es- 
sentially practical explanation of Bible teaching. Had 
he done this I should have been saved much most anx- 
ious suffering. But he believed young minds should not 
be biased, but left free to examine and decide for 
themselves — not a very helpful manner of vouthful train- 
ing. 

" 1 ou can be assured that the things to which refer- 
ence is had in the above, were a great deal in my mind 
and I dwelt upon them fc long and anxiously. I won- 
dered if other boys were troubled about them as I was. 
They did not seem to be. and my young companion, I 
thought, treated them rather lightly. It is more than 
possible that they thought the same of me. for with 
them I was often gay and jolly like themselves. God 
has so made us that we cannot always be of one de- 
mure cast of mind. 

•• Xot far from this period it was that three young 
ladies professed to be converted, and were to join the 
Baptist church. This seemed a time for us boys to 
.learn something and we went. The Baptists required a 
public confession. After the sermon they were asked 
to stand up and relate their experience. I gave all at- 
tention, thinking now it would be told us how to get 



42 THE LIFE A^'D LABORS OF 

converted. Two were very bashful and said but little, 
but in answer to the leading questions asked them, such 
as : ' Did you feel that you were a sinner \ Would God 
be just in damning you? Is it through the grace of 
God and the sufferings and death of Jesus that you hope 
to be saved? Do you pray often in secret? Will you 
be faithful to our church?' To all of which they 
nodded affirmatively. The other was more bold and 
spoke up plainly. What I remembered was that she 
continued to sin till she saw herself on the brink of a 
burning hell when she resolved to turn about and get 
religion, and now she had found her Saviour and was 
happy. Many years after I saw that person fallen 
far from the character of a practical Christian be- 
liever. 

" My mind caught more particularly upon the burn- 
ing hell. I thought if I could see that, I might hope to 
be saved. Many a time I laid my head upon my pilloAv 
and tried to see it. I could see soldiers marching and 
fighting at Plattsburg, and various imaginary scenes, 
but caught no glimpse of what seemed necessary to my 
conversion, according to the scheme of the preacher. 
All was so dark and incomprehensible that I surren- 
dered to what seemed the inevitable, and resolved to 
avoid all thought upon the subject. I still continued to 
read my Bible as carefully as ever, and many things 
respecting the will and pleasure of God; the object of 
Christ's mission, and the requirements of duty seemed 
plain enough but for the creeds, and I resolved that I was 
going to trust in God, obey the commands, do my duty 
as I found it to be as far as possible, and abide the con- 
sequences. 

"With my mind in all this flurry, there came the 
Methodist to preach in the Union Meeting House, and 
Elder Manning attacked them with great severity, de- 
nouncing them as ' noisy brawlers, disturbers of the 
peace, misleading the people, and said they ought to be 
put down by law.' A quarterly meeting was ap- 



REV. WILLIAM STEVEN'S BALCH. 43 

pointed to be holden in a short time, and as my father 
was a member of the Legislature, and lie would be 
away, he told me to attend and invite persons home 
with me, as there would be but few persons to entertain 
them. I did so, and we had six come to our house, five 
of whom were women. They sung and prayed, and 
being in charge, I entered into conversation with them 
and tried to state to them some of my difficulties. 
They sought to enlighten me by explaining the doctrine 
of free will and personal responsibility, as opposed to 
the ideas of the Calvinists, that God had ordained what- 
soever comes to pass. 

" I listened attentively, and it seemed to me far more 
consistent to hold people responsible only for what thev 
can do, and that they should be so held after requiring 
them to avoid evil and do good. But the method and 
means of conversion, and the beginning and resultant 
of the divine government, as taught by them, remained 
as dark and mysterious as ever. Their singing de- 
lighted me, and their preaching and exhortations were 
very much more earnest and affectionate than those I 
had been accustomed to hear. But darkness was still 
over me and in me and all about me, and I found no 
deliverance. I still kept to the reading of the Bible, 
and thought as seriously of my reading^as I had done. 
The duty of right feeling and living was plain and 
reasonable, but the dogmatic teaching most strenuously 
insisted upon, as the most essential part of experimental 
religion, I could not understand. k In all my get tings' 
the wise man taught me to 'get understanding.' And 
as Aunt Polly questioned me I did not dare to shut my 
eyes, call it all plain, and leap in the dark. I preferred 
to use my reason and rise into the light, rather than to 
sink into deeper darkness of ignorance at the bidding 
of others. 

;> Our church structure was for all denominations, 
of which the Baptists and Universalists were the most 
numerous. The Universalists were the most pros- 



■±4 THE LIFE AND LABOKS OF 

cribed. They were always preached against, and de- 
nounced as infidel. I remember going to church one 
Sunday to hear one preach. It was Mr. Loveland 
He read from the Bible and Watts' hymns. When he 
came to pray I was astonished. What, Universalists 
pray \ This was not as I had been told. What had 
they to pray for? They don't believe in God in the 
Bible or religion, and yet pray as devoutly as Elder 
Manning or anybody else. There was always one sen- 
tence in Elder Manning's prayers that was forever 
troubling me. for it seemed to accuse the Almighty of 
injustice. It was this : ' O Lord, if thou hast been 
just to mark iniquity in us. we should long since been 
in the grave with the dead, and in hell with the 
damned.' The prayer of Mr. Loveland was more rev- 
erential and devout. I somehow came to the conclu- 
sion that it was all for effect, to make it appear that 
he was religious as well as others ; that it was put on 
and that it was studied and superficial. 

•'At home I ventured to ask my father about it, 
whether Mr. Loveland could be honest and sincere inhis 
prayers: and he asked me ' Why net? ' He said, *The 
difference between him and Elder Manning was that 
he prayed for the salvation of sinners according to 
God's will, and believed his prayers would be answered: 
while Elder Manning prayed for what he believed 
and preached never would be answered.' I then asked 
him if Universalists believed in God, and reverenced 
His laws? 'Most certainly' he said, 'and they believe 
that he is good and kind to all His children; that He sent 
Jesus to save the whole world, and that He is going to 
do it; that before He yields up His re$ign He will see of 
the travail of His soul and be satisfied.' This greatly 
surprised me, and I feared that my father was falling 
into dangerous heresv. and became anxious about 
him." 

It was at this juncture of affairs that one or two 
things transpired that shook Bro. Balch's faith in per- 



FwEV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 45 

sons of high standing in Church and State. First Elder 
Manning sued two members of his own church for def- 
amation of character, which brought a great deal of 
scandal along with it, as well as hatred and discord. 
And then after this he himself was prosecuted for per- 
jury ; and the State's attorney who was brought for- 
ward to defend him, who stood high in his profession, 
and appeared very much of a gentleman, met with a 
most fatal fall. And in losing confidence in two such 
persons it began to creep into his mind regarding the 
opinions these men stood for, that perhaps this might 
account for so much indifference to religion, and so 
much want of faith and character in the Christian 
church. And finally he comes to tell us in just so many 
words, ' k Careful observation, study and inquiry of a 
long life have convinced me that the difficulities en- 
countered in my youth, when earnestly seeking and 
praying to know the truth, and learn and do my duty 
in the exercise of my best faculties, is a leading cause 
of the indifference, irreligion and practical infidelity so 
prevalent at this day. What is irrational, contradic- 
tory and absurd, serious, thoughtful and honest minds 
can not accept as truth and duty in religion and morals 
more than in anything else." " Children ," he tells us 
"should be taught to use their reason, the distinguishing 
attribute of man, in what they see, hear, read and 
think, and employ it freely in the conduct of their lives. 
It is a great wrong, a sin and shame to attempt to re- 
strain or misdirect it. Conscience will bear witness, 
and experience will teach the value of such a course, 
and every day will they be blessed in pursuing it/' 
He tries to impress it, that along with the prevalent 



46 KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 

errors of the religious teaching of his early years came 
innumerable evils which made his young life unhappy, 
and prevented the expanding of his mind. 

I think there is one thing in all this that is quite 
clear, that he made uprightness of conduct a sort of 
governing principle, so that but few persons, even of 
saintly worth, are privileged to look back upon a boy- 
hood more singularly pure and well spent. I am told 
that when a boy he alwa}^s stood aloof from being en- 
gaged in bad scrapes, and counseled his associates to 
avoid all disreputable young people or places of resort. 
Once, however, we are informed that in marauding a 
neighbor's lemon -patch, he was sent by his father to 
work out the damages the next day. He attributed his 
success in life to the training of his will, his energies 
and his self-control b} r his parents at home, to whom he 
owed everything as it were. 



CHAPTER VI. 

YEARS OF TEACHING WHILE MATURING HIS VIEWS OF 
RELIGION. 

Brother Balch informs us that having gone through 
the lessons and mastered all the studies taught in the 
district school the fall after he was sixteen, his father 
told him that lie might go to Beading, twenty miles 
away, and study with the Bev. Mr. Lovel and. who was 
a Universalist minister, and who took a few private 
scholars on very favorable terms of board and tuition. 
Accordingly he set out with everything he had for an 
outfit tied up in a handkerchief. He thought it alto- 
gether in vain that he attempt to describe his thoughts 
as he went forth, but says that 

" If ever a stricken soul prayed devoutly, he did. in 
view of the responsibilities that would be resting upon 
him as he started out into the world alone. Xot in 
spoken words,but in prof oundest thoughts and most earn 
est desires I prayed," he says, " to be kept in the right 
way through my whole life, and to follow it, let it lead 
where it might. I had faith it would never lead me 
wrong, with God and the religion of Christ as my 
guide. Four miles from home," he tells us, " I dropped 
into a farm house to warm mvself, and though 
strangers we entered into a free conversation. The 
man knew my father, and said : ' He heard he had a son 
who was a teacher,' referring to my brother, Aaron, 
who had fully prepared himself for teaching. We 

47 



48 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

talked of the matter, and he persuaded me to go to a 
neighbor of his and take their school, which he was 
sure I could do. I went, finding the man in the woods 
chopping, and without asking me scarcely any ques- 
tions, he offered me $7.50 a month with board for eight 
weeks. I engaged the school and went on to Reading, 
staying two weeks, renewing my studies, when I re- 
turned home and received a severe reprimand for my 
rashness in not minding what I had been told." 

It was now time for his school to commence, and 
he entered it, all going well to the end. He tells us 
that he " made pleasant acquaintances, and gained 
much useful knowledge; and a few days before closing, 
a committee from an adjoining district came to engage 
him to finish out their school term, which had been 
broken up by the teacher being turned out," as they 
informed him. The price agreed upon this time was 
88 per month, for six weeks, and when the six weeks 
had expired he returned home with *27 in his pocket, 
the first money he had ever earned for himself, and 
feeling as proud as any young lad could. 

His brother was now twenty-one years of age, and 
was leaving home to engage as teacher in a private 
school in the city of New York, called St. John's 
Academy, being near St. John's Church. The money 
was all given to him, that he might be properly manned 
for the new undertaking, and William settled down 
again to doing the work that is always accumulating on 
a farm. The brother had not been at his post long be- 
fore he wrote for William to come and be an assistant 
in his school, which he was reluctant to do, dreading 
to appear in a great city like New York. 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 49 

But it was thought best, and " the 19th of August," 
he says, "was the day arranged forme to set forth on my 
journey. My father purchased for me such an outfit as 
he could, and gave me $8.00 in money, which, with the 
few dollars I had earned by working late and early, 
sometimes by moonlight. I took all I had in a bandana 
handkerchief and started. As I bid good-by to my 
home I noticed that my father's voice^ trembled, and 
tears glistened in his eyes as he said, " God be with 
you, my son.'' 

•• The first night I spent with my sister, three miles 
from home, and the next morning my brother-in-law 
took me to the top of the crossing of the Green Moun 
tains, where he left me to go on alone. I cut me a cane 
from a shrub, and looking east over the Connecticut 
Yalley to the Granite Hills, and the grand Monadnoc, I 
bowed reverently and turned westward, and journeyed 
forth into the great open world, a pilgrim and a 
stranger. I stopped for the night in Dorset, at the 
foot of the Eupert Mountains, where I met parties 
from Andover returning from a visit to Saratoga 
Springs. In the morning I climbed the mountain on 
foot, and the second day pursued my journey with 
blistered and bloody feet. After arriving at Greenbush 
and crossing the Hudson to Albany, I had gone but a 
mile or two when I was overtaken by a gentleman 
with whom I struck up a bargain to ride with him 
quite a distance on my way. he to receive four shillings; 
but one of the shillings to be in talk, AVe were chatty 
all the way. I found he was a lawyer and a member 
of the Legislature. He inquired of me. and finding I 
was a teacher, he offered me sloO a year and board, to 
teach the school in his village. I told him * I was a 
minor, and my father had engaged me in Xew York, 
where I was then going.' ' I see you are an honest 
young man,' he said, * and you are right in obeying 
vour father.' " 



50 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

Coming where the roads parted and their direc- 
tions would diverge, lie was told the road to take to 
reach the place to which he was going, and, having 
agreed to pay him a few shillings for his ride, he took 
out his wallet for that purpose, when it was answered by 
the stranger that he was well paid, and he should re- 
fuse anything in the way of money. 

At Albany he engaged passage on a sloop to the 
city for three dollars, arriving there on Sunday morn- 
ing, the third day, so ill-clad that the brother did not 
think it proper that he be seen upon the street till fur- 
nished with a suit that should better become him. 

It should be told that he remained in the city only 
three months at this time. The confinement in his 
close schoolroom was undermining his health, and he 
could not become reconciled to the artificial distinctions 
and extravagance of the city life. He tells us of being 
greatly dissatisfied, half sick, and homesick the whole 
time. The man for whom he worked was a broken- 
down merchant from Boston, who sought to make a 
living and keep up appearances in a way that did not 
meet his mind. The meals were in a dark, dingy base- 
ment kitchen ; the front a miserable, green painted 
grocery, kept by a haggard old woman, and the place 
for lodging in a garret no better than the rest. The 
schoolrooms were in the second story, onhy one of 
which, the parlors could be accounted decent. Outside 
appearances somewhat disguised the reality, a condition 
of things which he had never been taught to respect. 
But he says : " He bore it with patience, and with what 
fortitude he could, but in sadness all the while." 

He speaks of " seeing but very little of the city, but 
enough to make him despise its fashions and false- 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 51 

hoods.'' It appeared to him that life here "was 
a sham, a pretense, and a wretched wronging of 
humanity. The rich, the poor, the good, the bad, 
the gayly grand and miserable, were all brought con- 
spicuously together, and the widest extremes were 
jumbled in the most careless and reckless manner. 
Even in the churches there was a costly array of worldly 
pride that did not at all comport with the teachings 
and example of the humble Xazarene. And if all this 
was to be found in religion, where were they to look for 
plain, honest, sober realities in everyday life, or in 
character ? They did not instruct or edify, and every- 
thing was so unlike the meekness and simplicity of his 
rural home that he cared not to know or find out 
farther about it." 

I again quote his own Avords, in which he tells us: 

"I had fully resolved that I was going to leave the 
wickedness and worthlessness of so dismal a place to 
me, when as yet I had said nothing to my brother, or 
to my employer, of it all, and I only told them a week 
before leaving the city. Every persuasion was made 
use of to induce me to remain. It was Saturday even- 
ing when everything was in readiness for me to leave 
the next morning, and my brother said to me that he 
had persuaded father to let me come to the city that I 
might learn something of the world and be a man 
among men ; and now that I should return to be a no- 
body and a nothing, among the stones and stumps of 
Vermont, the rest of my days, he did not know how to 
be reconciled to it. My answer was brief, but plain. 
I shall never pretend to be what I am not, I will not 
play false with myself or with others. \Ve were both 
sad at parting. Xine years after this my brother came 
and studied with me in preparation for the ministry, 
which he entered and pursued till his death." 



52 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

While passing up the river there came a proposition 
from the Captain that he become a mate for his vessel 
the next season, which he was almost persuaded to ac- 
cept, and told the Captain that he would take the advice 
of his father on reaching home and allow him to decide 
the matter. But the company into which he was 
thrown, and an attempt to compel him by force and 
threats to settle up the voyage with them in a drinking 
frolic, put this all by, and made the dark world as it 
was to him seem even darker than ever, till he tells us 
he was " frightened at himself." It was a mere hap- 
pening, or cfiance event, that delivered him out of their 
hands only to confront him with still another proposi- 
tion to become a partner with his uncle in his meat- 
market, to which he had hesitatingly consented. But 
no sooner was he expected to assist in slaughtering an 
animal than his heart entirely failed him, and he pulled 
off his frock, retiring from the yard, leaving others to 
do the work which he could not do, and for which he 
was laughed at, and told that he was "sighing for an 
opportunity to be back in the mountains when it was 
right in hand for him to achieve a fortune.'' And in- 
deed it hardly seemed to him now that anything was 
left to him but to return to his home and devote him- 
self to the kind of work which he had so recently left 
in going to the city. 

On a most beautiful afternoon when he had ascended 
out of the valley of the Hudson, and from an eminence 
from which was presented to him a grand view of a 
wide region from the Green Mountains over all that 
vast intervening country to the Catskills and the Mo- 
hawk — the Xovember sun shining splendidly upon the 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 53 

beautiful scene — he waited, and wondered, and admired 
— almost worshiped: and forgetting himself in his 
reverie he was happy again. lie grew more and more 
calm, and as he reflected he said to himself: 

" Why all this uncertainty and unsatisfactoriness of 
life I Here is nature robed in splendor. The hills and 
dales, the mountains and rivers, the fields and forests, 
are here as I passed this way before, looking as smil- 
ingly as they can. Yonder is the sun. moving majes- 
tically in his glorious chariot of light, steadily pursuing 
his course from day to day, scattering beauties and 
blessings upon all the earth, and why should man be 
unhappy \ With all else fulfilling some benevolent 
mission, why should not mar,, the noblest and best of 
the Creator's work, have some high purpose as well \ 
There must be somewhere a place, a work, a duty, for 
every least creature of His." 

Then his thoughts rose to a higher realm : 

'• He who made all things made me. I am the work 
of His hands, and He loves me with all the ardor of an 
infinite affection; loves me as His child, with a bound- 
less, perfect, everlasting love, and this should reconcile 
me to the methods of His government. Xowhere 
could I look but I beheld the most convincing evidence 
of His impartial beneficence. Reflections of this char- 
acter brought me to the gate of a new world, and fixed 
a determination in me to do my duty as it was made 
plain to me. to love all men and work for their welfare 
as opportunity was afforded me: to make the best of 
everything, not being anxious about the future, but 
submitting myself to the will of God. 

"This was a crisis in my life. I rose in strength, 
full of faith and hope in God. and resolute to pursue the 
path marked out forme, lead where it might. A little 
way on I came to a rill making down from the moun- 
tains, beside which I ate of my last spare loaf and drank 



54 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

from the stream, and no meal ever relished better. My 
journey homeward, though wearying to the flesh, con- 
firmed in me the resolutions I had formed. Much did I 
reflect on the passage,' It is good for a man to bear the 
yoke in his youth.' Often carriages passed me with 
empty seats, but no one asked me to ride, and I asked 
nonef Xor did I ask for food, though suffering greatly 
from hunger. Frozen apples served for my breakfast 
on that last day. and then I resolved that never while 
riding, with means to carry him, would I pass a lone 
and weary traveler by the roadside. That resolution I 
have kept." 

He tells us of being lovingly received, with no cen- 
sure when he related his experience and gave the reason 
of his return. He remained at home but a few days, 
when he went to Ludlow and engaged to teach the 
same school he had taught the previous winter. 

"There were two Quaker families in the district, 
from whom I learned," he says, "the simple principles 
and habits of that people, and admired them : they 
seemed so consistent with the spirit of Christianity. I 
have profited by them ever since." 

Two days before that school closed a person came 
to him from an adjoining town and engaged him to 
teach a school where the teacher had been turned away. 
He was offered an advance of wages to commence the 
school at once, and he did not hesitate to accept of the 
terms made him. Returning home and relating to his 
father what he had done, it was thought that he should 
not enter it, as it was a large and bad school, always in 
trouble with its teacher, and if he had won a reputa- 
tion he was now sure to lose it. The son could only 
answer that " he had agreed to go, and if he did his 
best he could not be blamed, as he would be if he failed 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALGH. 55 

to keep his engagement " : when the fat her told him to 
u go and try it, but be careful." At the opening of the 
school the son explained to the scholars what had been 
told him of the school, and that •• he had hesitated to 
undertake to be their teacher, lest he should bring him- 
self into trouble and get a bad name : but if they would 
agree to do their best to change this opinion, he would 
help them, and he thought by working together they 
would succeed to the advantage of both. If they 
favored this idea would they take their seats and books, 
and they would begin. There was nothing that looked 
like trouble during the whole term/' 

Eeturning home, his father was given his wages,, 
and they talked over the matter of future prospects. 
The father thought it better that he fit himself for 
teaching, and perhaps go to Kentucky, where he had 
heard teachers were wanted at fair wages. If the 
son chose he could take what money he had earned 
and expend it in studies with Mr. Loveland, which 
was the same proposition made him before. And 
the son tells that such encouragement raised his am- 
bition, and he decided at once that he would do so. 
He borrowed of a schoolmate some Latin books he 
thought to study, and started in pursuit of an edu- 
cation. He was a whole day making the distance 
through snow and mud. and reached his destination 
at 9 p. m., tired and hungry. 

The next day. March 29, 1824, he began his studies 
of Greek, Latin and Mathematics. As a change from 
his books he resolved to read the Bible through in 
course, noting such passages as related plainly to the 
will, pleasure, purpose and plan of God, in the ere- 



56 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

■ation and government of the world ; and the rela- 
tions, duties and responsibilities of man to his Maker 
and fellow-men, and find if he could the ground of 
hope for a future life. 

We pass now to April 13, 1825. He is this day 
nineteen years old. It is the annual fast, and as 
there is no public services in the place, the day is 
spent in reading and thinking. He comes to the con- 
clusion that what he is doing is at least a dull business, 
and wonders what it is all for. It may have a mean- 
ing, and be useful ; but it looked to him not very 
needful to find out by such a round-about way of 
quirks and turns, what the ancients were desirous to 
express, seeing we had enough written in a much 
plainer way that could be made of practical use in 
this living age. Bat having begun to be learned he 
supposed he must go forward, believing that the dark- 
est time is always just before day. By request of Mr. 
Loveland, he went with him twenty miles on foot to 
hear him preach, he telling him that he wanted to 
teach him to walk, for the good of his body as well 
as his mind. 

He had been from home only a month, and now 
returned to help his father in some of his spring 
work. After another month worn and weary he re- 
commenced his studies, pursuing them as he could 
under greatest difficulties ; but considering that it was 
fortunate if there was any honest way for the poor to 
get an education. Sundays, as they came, he would 
try and hear somebody preach, though frequently by 
going quite a distance away. 

The month of July was spent in helping his father 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS LALCH. 57 

hay it. when he packed up his effects and returned to 
his books again. Soon after this he heard a sermon 
preached from the text u Satisfy us early with Thy 
mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days." 

" The preacher was not a person of much learning, 
but his soul seemed to overflow with the love of God, and 
kindred humanity. He applied religion to the young, 
as a guide and safe-guard of life, sure to bring a daily 
blessing. It was a great lesson to me. It was the first 
sermon I ever heard which took a deep hold on my 
feelings, and aroused in me the conviction of the obli- 
gation of obedience to God for his great mercy, as a 
fitting preparation for the life that was before me. I 
was now happy. 

;; As Mr. Loveland was to be absent during the fall, 
I now went to my home remaining but a single night, 
when I left for Chester Academy to fit for College. 
Three months were spent there in hard study. I had 
not been in the school long, before a fellow student, a 
charity scholar preparing for the ministry, came to my 
room to catechise me on religion,especially in the matter 
of faith. I told him I believed in God the Father; in 
Jesus the Savior ; and in the moral responsibility of all 
men, according to their ability to know their duty. He 
asked me if I believed in prayer i I told him I did — es- 
pecially in secret prayer. He asked me to pray, I did 
so — the first I had ever made in the presence of any 
person. It was in the words of Jesus. He then began 
to press upon me certain dogmatic tenets, as essential 
to salvation. I told him I had formed no doctrinal 
theory, but had nearly finished my first reading of the 
Bible in course ; had noted important passages, but had 
not arrived at any definite conclusion ; that I was not 
prepared to accept for doctrine the commandments of 
men, however ancient or popular. He was afraid I 
would be led astray, and become an heretic. I said I 
might be from the sects ; but I hoped not from God 



58 THE LIFE AND LAB0KS OF 

and truth and right and duty ; that I was not prepared 
to enter in controversy on matters of opinion ; nor 
willing to be dictated to by any one. He retired, per- 
haps not satisfied. During the term the students were 
required to declaim. I tried it with the rest, having com- 
mitted, as I thought correctly, a part of one of Adams' 
orations. Mounted on the rostrum, my knees trembled 
like Belshazzar's, and all was cloudy around me. I 
started out and stumbled, making a complete failure, 
bowing myself off of the stage, and resolving never to 
attempt anything of the kind again. But by the earn- 
est entreaty of the preceptor I consented to make a 
second trial. This time I took Cicero's oration against 
Oataline, and succeeded fairly with two or three pages. 
I mention these things to say- that I never had a faculty 
of committing language in a way to recite it. My mind 
has run more on facts than on words. 

" At the conclusion of the term my room-mate and 
self were assured that another year would fit us for 
college. But my brother, with a second person, 
had now bought St. John's academy, and desired me to 
be an assistant teacher. As I had no means to go 
through college, I consented to their proposition, pro- 
vided they could make arrangements with my father. 
He was too poor to help me, and I knew of no one of 
whom I could borrow the money, and besides I had no 
disposition to do so. "Owe no man anything, but to 
love one another," was my Bible motto. I would in- 
volve no man with a risk on my success. I had read in 
Poor Kichard's Almanac, " Let every tub stand on its 
own bottom," and the Book said, "Despise not the 
day of small things." Terms were agreed upon, and 
I was to be there soon after the termination of my 
school. 

" I attended a funeral at this time where Mr. Love- 
land officiated. When I witnessed the grief of the 
mourners, the thonght struck me that I ought to be a 
preacher, and help, teach and comfort my fellow-men. It 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 59 

soon vanished, however, when I thought of my unfit- 
ness for such a vocation. I had need to be taught and 
be more fully established in the principles of Christian- 
ity. No ! I could never think of being a preacher, 
lawyer or doctor. I would be a teacher, for all had 
need of being taught, and in that profession I could be 
of some service. 

" March 17th, in company with a particular friend, 
I started in a wagon for New York. This time I had 
$15 for expenses. The roads being bad. we were three 
days reaching Albany, as long as I had been in walk- 
ing it before. From there, by steamer, the passage 
was quickly made in twelve hours ; being a third of the 
time it took by a sail vessel, and by rail three hours at 
present. So hurries the world on its way." 

Mr. Balch commenced his school, he tells us, with 
feelings verv different and everything much improved 
from his former visit. All was cheerful and happy, 
and he started with a firm resolution never to com- 
plain, but to do his duty and hope for the best. On 
the 13th day of April he. could say, " I have closed my 
twentieth year." And here I condense from his jour- 
nal the following : 

" One year more to prepare for manhood. Calmly do 
I review my past life, and find many errors and mis- 
takes, chiefly the waste of time which might have been 
better employed. These I shall never be able to recall, 
but will try and make them lessons for future improve- 
ment. My opportunities have been limited for intel- 
lectual culture, but not for the more essential moral 
education which forms character in every condition and 
period of life, and tends directly to open the way to 
future happiness, and honorable success in life. I see 
now how much precious time is wasted, which with 
proper means might be profitably employed in gaining 
useful knowledge that would conduce to the highest 
interest of all. I have not had such means, except 



60 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

from the open volume of nature spread out before me, 
and from the Bible, which I have found in agreement 
with wdiat is more important to the welfare of man- 
kind. There is much in both I cannot comprehend, 
and it is about these I have heard preachers and peo- 
ple talk and contend most earnestly. I have thought 
it better to hold fast, and make improvement from, 
what is plain, practical and immediate, than to be ur- 
gently seeking to find out what is difficult, and vehe- 
mently striving to convince others of what is not clear 
in one's own mind. I am now resolved to devote all 
spare time to study; to continue to search the Scrip- 
tures with free and untrammelled thought, and to per- 
severe in the way of well-doing. God guide me and 
keep me in the path of duty, keep me from evil and 
make me useful while I live. 

"Soon after commencing my school I was induced 
to join a literary society in what was then Green- 
wich village, composed mostly of teachers, and re- 
turning late one night from this Society, the moon 
shining uncommonly bright, portions of Hudson street 
open to the river, vessels were silently drifting with the 
tide. The hills on the shore stood up in bold relief. 
The streets were quiet, save the tread of watchmen on 
their rounds, and an occasional passer. It was a grand 
silent, solemn hour for meditation. In. this great city, 
small in comparison then with what it has come to be, how 
different everything from what I had been accustomed to 
look upon in my own rural home. All was marked 
with change in the outward, and yet God and goodness, 
truth and duty, did not change. The inward, the real, 
is the same everywhere, and always, but, oh, the pit-falls 
that one has to shun. Wise is the man who is not 
overborne and caused to depart from the strait and 
narrow way by the glittering temptations that lie in 
wait to deceive the unwary. ' The Lord preserve me 
from evil' was my fervent prayer. Had I stood before 
the multitude then, it seemed as if I could proclaim 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 61 

aloud the greatness of Him who has made all things, 
made man what he is, and what he is capable of: and 
could warn convincingly my fellow-men to beware of 
the insidiousness of sin, which surely leads to misery 
and moral death. I almost resolved that I would 
attempt it at some future time.'' 

He found that his landlord was a Presbyterian, and 
started in with the family in attending that church. 
•'The pastor, Mr. Patton, " he tells us," was very loyal 
to the creed, and defended all the severer parts of it 
with the greatest alacrity possible ; election and repro- 
bation, effectual calling, final perseverence of the saints, 
once in grace always in grace, endless misery. &c. &c. 
On the latter especially he placed the greatest impor- 
tance, and described with vehement eloquence the 
tortures of the damned in the style of one-hundred 
years ago. On one occasion he described heaven, with 
God and Jesus seated on a great white throne with 
the chosen ones, the elect, kneeling before them, among 
whom doubtless would be some of his congregation, 
while the great majority of them would be weeping 
and wailing and gnashing their teeth, in the flames of 
a never-ending Avretchedness, fit only to be in the 
society of the damned." 

At home he was ashed by the family how he en- 
joyed the sermon, to which he made answer, " not at 
all, and if he believed the Bible taught the existence 
of such a God, he would never wish to read it more, 
for he could conceive of nothing worse of an almighty 
demon.*' He was told that his " remarks seemed very 
severe for a young man," and remarked that " young 
or old. it was all the same, for he could not love and 



62 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

worship such a being, which it seemed to him that 
neither the Bible, reason, nor the purest and noblest 
desires of the human heart taught." And he added 
that he " could not understand how a man could pray 
so fervently for the salvation of the whole human 
family, believing that his prayers had necessarily to 
go unanswered, since it was unalterably decreed that 
the greater portion of them all would be damned.' 
The very tame answer was, " God does not act to 
please us." Again he replied that he " was glad of it, 
that he acted to please himself, and we might always 
therefore put our trust in Him and not in human creeds." 

It is just about impossible to understand the horrid 
views that were preached from the pulpits of those 
days, and the dark pall that hung over the world upon 
these subjects ; and we little know how much it meant 
to stand for truth against the falsehoods of men when 
the fathers stood for it fifty and sixty years ago ; a vast 
deal more than now. Our people and ministers could 
not see why those views were not grossly immoral in 
their tendency ; especially when sinners were told that 
there was vastly more present happiness in sin than in 
righteousness, and the only motive for loving and 
serving God was the selfish fear of being punished for- 
ever. 

Bro. Balch tells us that much more was said, not 
the most edifying ; though he did not think that any per- 
sonal feeling grew out of the conversation. But as 
silence ensued for some little time, he was becoming 
frightened at what he had said, when it was remarked 
that he would see things differently when grown 
older. But he confesses that he never has ; that the 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 63 

world has greatly changed in the last halt century 
upon all these subjects, till we never hear the pleas- 
ures of sin talked of ; the rolling it as a sweet morsel 
under the tongue ; and the pursuing it with a zest so 
long as there are no evil consequences to be experi- 
enced in the world to'come. 



CHAPTER VII 

CONVERSION TO UNIVERSALISM. 

Our narrative has already anticipated, in the order 
of time, some things that are now to follow, in show- 
ing forth the leanings of Bro. Balch's mind at this 
early period ; and yet, it is quite likely that he is to 
pass through trying experiences, and most important 
changes, before he shall become perfectly established 
in views that shall bear the scrutiny of his most 
approved judgment. But it is now he is resolved that 
he will seek instruction and edification from some 
other altar ; and he tries several places, to see if he can 
not find some more consistent teaching to which his 
mind and heart can give credence. 

He first goes for a time to a Unitarian church, and 
is somewhat pleased; but is not instructed concerning 
those subjects which he had been taught as truth, but 
could not believe, and yet must accept, or he could not 
be saved. He next goes to hear a Kev. Mr. Mitchell, 
an eloquent preacher, but with a mystical way of treat- 
ing his subjects which he could not understand, more 
especially some ideas of a substitutional theoiw, and a 
crucified Savior, in which God is pleased with the sacri- 
fice of His own Son as an offset for the sins of the world. 
JSTo sinner was to suffer for his own sins. Sin was of 
the nature of a debt, which called for satisfaction or 
payment, and Jesus was to pay this debt, excusing the 

64 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 65 

sinner from all suffering on his own part. Young Balch 
could not see how there was any justice in such a trans- 
action. 

After this he tells us a patron of the school invited 
him to go and listen to still another preacher and says: 

"I went and the sermon was on the Atonment. The 
preacher defined the word as reconciliation; that God 
was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not 
Himself unto the world. It was, in effect, making the 
sinner at one with God, and placing him on terms of 
friendship with Him. It was this that opened to me a 
train of thought which made the matter plain, and 
harmonious with strict justice; the natural law of cause 
and effect; holding each and every man responsible for 
his own conduct, the same after as before the death of 
Christ. I saw that what the law demanded was obedi- 
ence, and employed punishment as a means, and not as 
an end, in the method of the Divine, as it should be in 
all human, governments. My thoughts of God hence- 
forth as the great and good Father, governing the 
world for the ultimate good of all his children, and his 
own glory, were of course immensely exalted; and it 
removed from my mind a burden of anxiety, and a cloud 
of doubt, and drew me into a closer unity and rever- 
ence, and a more filial trust and confidence, than I had 
ever felt before. My heart rejoiced, and I was exceed- 
ing glad at what I had heard. I continued to attend 
that church for many months, and was greatly com- 
forted. 

" One evening, sitting alone, and knowing no one 
present, the communion service was celebrated. The 
preacher explained it, much to my mind, as a memorial 
of the love of God and the self-sacrifice of Christ, as 
set forth in the gospel ; and when the emblems were 
offered me I partook, with the silent prayer that I 
might feed on the substance and spirit of the truth as 
made known to me, and that God would thus approve 



QQ THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

the act and bless it, to my lasting good. I went to my 
home that evening feeling that my conscience approved 
the act, and with firmer resolutions to do my duty in 
life as it should be open before me, and to shun what- 
ever might have a tendency to lead me into evil. I felt 
that I had more closely allied myself, and was identified 
with the Christian religion, and it was a step full of 
sacred emotions that I never saw cause for regretting. 

" The summer wore away, and in pursuing my my 
studies alone I went but little about the city, except for 
exercise. I spent much of my time, in cool evenings, 
on the roof of the house in meditating upon life, its 
lessons and duties. "With the end of July came the 
summer vacation, and I was for a time a good deal at 
a loss to know how to spend it. Country resorts and 
seashore recreations were not so common events as now, 
and I had no means to spend on such indulgencies. The 
passage out of the city over to the Jersey side was but 
a shilling, and being in search of cheap board I decided 
on my first journey among foreigners, as the Jersey 
folks were called. And as I inquired for board, and 
told who I was and what I wanted, the woman thought 
she could take me, but would go and see her man and 
let me know. Returning, she would take me at $2 a 
week, plain board. I found it a quiet, Jersey-Dutch 
family, myself much at home, the husband keeping a 
small meat market and two daughters helpful about the 
house. 

" Devoting much time to books, the old lady soon 
asked me if I was studying to be a dominie. I had not 
then learned the meaning of the word, but as I supposed 
that it was something about books, I told her I was, and 
immediately I was the object of a great deal of atten- 
tion. I found that they were all good Christians after 
the Reformed Dutch type, and regarded me as one of 
them. As names and titles were of but little value in 
religion, as I was disposed to think, I took no pains to 
correct my innocent blunder, and we mingled our ideas 
in perfect harmony. 



REV. MILIIAM STEVENS EALCH. 67 

" One evening the conversation of the good lady 
turned on her brother, who lived some mi Fes in the 
country, for whom she felt a great anxiety, for he had 
become a Universalis!;. 'Indeed,' said I, "what does 
that mean?' 'Why, he believes all men are going to 
be saved.' ; I suppose, then, he has become a very bad 
man, hasn't he^' ' Oh. no, he is one of the best men I 
ever saw ; always doing good, and trying to help every- 
body.' 'He never reads the Bible, does he?' 'Oh, 
yes, he reads it all the time when he can. I can't 
quote a passage but he tells me all about it. Well, 
I must confess that there are many passages which 
lead us to hope that doctrine may be true ; such as 
" God will have all men to be saved, and come to the 
knowledge of truth ;" and Jesus "gave Himself a ran- 
som for all to be testified in due time," and " As in 
Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.'' 
Yes. he quotes them, and it does say so. but it can't 
mean so.' 'Jesus tasted death for every man, and 
became the propitiation for the sins of the whole 
world.' 'Yes, that says so, but it can't mean so.' 'He 
will swallow up death in victory, and there shall be no 
more death.' 'God shall be all in all.' ' Yes, that 
says so, but it can't mean so.' Numerous passages I 
quoted, to ail of which she had the same answer. 
Finally, the old gentleman interrupted : ; What do 
you think such Scriptures do mean, Margaret, if they 
do not mean what they say?.' 'I don't know,' she 
answered, but I believe our Dominie knows more about 
them than Brother John does. What do you think, 
mister V ' I have not yet studied far enough to explain 
them differently from what you think they say. I am 
not caring any great deal about doctrines and command- 
ments of men which are not taught plainly in the 
Bible, and are not agreeable to reason and the best 
desire of the human sonl. Such passages, if there are 
those that cannot be understood, I leave them till we 
shall have some further revelation. It appears to me 



68 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

that it is more Christian to obey the plain commands 
of God, by doing the duties of to-day, and so being 
prepared for those of to-morrow and each day through 
life, which is the best approach to a more reasonable 
and hopeful future.' k That is my religion,' said the 
old gentleman. ' I think if we practice it, it will be 
well with us now and forever; much better than wor- 
rying ourselves and others in getting ready to enjoy 
the blessings of the Heavenly Father hereafter. Jesus 
taught us to pray for our daily bread and to be deliv- 
ered from evil. Is our Dominie better or wiser than 
He? ' This ended the matter of our conversation. 

" It was a short time after this, of a Sunday after- 
noon, my host invited me to go and hear a Methodist, 
and a real ranter he was. He labored very hard to 
frighten his hearers, describing hell as a place of literal 
fire and brimstone. He said If you could put your ears 
to the windows of hell you would hear sinners, and 
among them some of your dear friends, probably, 
screeching in infinite agonies, lamenting that they are 
not having the same opportunities you are privileged 
with, to repent and get religion; warning his hearers 
to do so, and to save their souls before it was everlast- 
ingly too late ; and much of the same sort. Going 
home, the good man said : ' He gave it to us pretty hot 
to-day. AVhen I hear such things I wonder why the 
good Lord keeps these souls alive, and these fires burn- 
ing for the mere sake of torturing them, as it can do 
Him nor no one else any good. I think pure religion 
has more to do with daily duties, love to God and love 
to men, even to our enemies, serving one another, 
and thus fulfilling the royal command of doing as we 
would be done by.' 

" At home he described the sermon, and discussed 
the matter with his wife, much to my satisfaction, if 
not to hers. He was a man of good, practical common 
sense, plain, honest and benevolent, in nothing vain or 
pretentious. My weeks there were full of practical 
instruction, by which I was greatly profited." 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 69 

Mr. Balch has told us that of the errors which per- 
plexed and darkened his young mind, the first and worst 
of which was the perversion of both the letter and spirit 
of the teaching of the Bible, and the bold contradiction 
of reason and experience by those who profess to ac- 
cept and defend the truths of religion, viz., that sin in 
the present brings more happiness than holiness ; or, in 
other words, the wicked are blessed beyond that of the 
righteous. He declares most emphatically that this 
was the sentiment taught as an essential truth of a 
saving faith, and that it was predicated on the neces- 
sity of a future judgment and retribution in the eternal 
world, where we are to look for the rectification of the 
mistakes of this world and the complete reversal of the 
plan of administering of the divine government as at 
present. He was reminded of many positive declara- 
tions of Scripture to the effect that u God will by no 
means clear the guilty," but " will render to every man 
according to his deeds;'' that "he that doeth wrong 
shall receive for the wrong which he hath done, and 
there is no respect of persons;" so that "though hand 
join in hand the wicked shall not be unpunished." He 
could recall passage after passage, such as " Verily he 
is a God that judgeth in the earth,'' that "His judg- 
ments are abroad in the earth,'' and that "the righteous 
shall be recompensed in the earth, much more the 
wicked and the sinner.*' He was coining to think that 
for all who obeyed there were rewards, and all who 
disobeyed there were punishments ; results which inev- 
itably followed as effect followed cause. It seemed to 
him that the order of God's government was this order 
of indissoluble, eternal and connected causes, and from 



70 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

the operation of it there could be no escape. In this 
was seen the essence of duty, making it consist in obe- 
dience to the natural, healthful and God-established 
relations and necessities of our being, in works of piety 
and benevolence, or in loving God and man. That 
which we were forbidden were actions and excesses 
which were wrong, and that which it was commanded 
us to do were actions which were right and proper, and 
not to be denied by us save to the wronging of our 
own souls. This was to place all duty on a natural 
basis, or to found it in nature and the fitness of things. 
It was to say that in the regulation of the world God 
had established certain laws — pure, perfect, and perma- 
nent rules — from which He never deviated ; laws which 
regarded the best happiness of His children, and in obe- 
dience to which we always find peace and prosperity, 
but when we violate or infringe them, disease and sor- 
row and wretchedness are our portion. But in all we 
mark the perfect righteousness of God's government, 
and on the permanency of this principle rests its whole 
structure. 

Bro. Balch never sought to be nice in any matters 
of this character, in a speculative way. It was enough 
for him that the good receive good, and the evil evil ; 
so that a man's character made his condition; made 
his heaven said his hell. We can not do wrong and 
feel right. Punishment always follows disobedience, 
and there never can be anything but wretchedness in a 
sinful course of conduct. The neglect of duty would 
as surely be punished as putting our hand in the fire is 
punished ; in finding ourselves just so much the worse 
off for it. Following- in this train of thought, and seat- 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 71 

ing himself to a careful study of the Scriptures without 
note or comment, seeking no other man's interpreta- 
tion, he was not long in coming to the conclusion that 
there was no disagreement between the laws of God 
written in the folds of nature and the leaves of the 
Bible as regarding this one subject of duty and inter- 
est. He soon found that nothing could be stated 
plainer than that u there is no peace to the wicked, 
that they are like the troubled sea when it cannot 
rest, whose waters continually cast up mire and dirt ; "" 
while " great peace have they that love God's law, and 
nothing shall offend them ; " that " the way of the 
transgressor is hard, " while " wisdom's ways are ways 
of pleasantness and all her paths are peace." It was 
from this that the appeal was made, that goodness was. 
happiness, and therefore we should do good; that 
nothing is ever gained by sinning ; that sin is the worst 
thing, the hell of the universe, and holiness the best 
thing, the heaven of God and eternity, even as it is. 
told us by the Preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes 
that " Though the sinner do evil an hundred times r 
and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it 
shall be well with them that fear God. But it shall 
not be well with the wicked ; neither shall he prolong 
his days, which are as a shadow, because he feareth not 
God/ 

According to this view punishment was the natural 
evil consequence of our wrong or sinful doing, which 
was a most bitter thing in the experience of it ; and the 
purpose of Christ's mission was to save us from sin by 
saving us from sinning. Salvation in this sense was not 
anything purchased for us by another ; nor was it an 



'72 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

■escaping from hell and going to heaven when we 
die. No ; it was character, Christain character ; man 
hood and womanhood perfected. Jesus does not 
save us in putting forward a substitute for our obedi- 
ence, but in leading us to obey the law of God. Men 
are saved just as far as they accept and act out the 
Christ spirit or principle and follow the teachings 
of this sublime life in their souls, and no farther. And 
grace does its work only by leading to voluntary obedi- 
ence. Of course this was a wholesome and salutary 
view, that sin involves punishment, and as long as it 
-continues punishment will necessarily follow ; and that 
whenever and wherever men become holy, reconciled 
to God and to duty, they will be happy, and not before. 
Believing this sincerely, we should no more rush into 
sin than we should rush into the fire. Brother Balch 
speaks of this as one of the strong incentives to virtue, 
and wishes that it may always be understood that we 
are required to live virtuously in order that we may 
live happily. His adorning of virtue was always in a 
light that made it a great blessing to be achieved for 
the individual welfare, and, viewing it from his stand- 
point, 

" It was as easj^ then for the heart to be true, 
As for grass to be green, or skies to be blue. 
It was the natural way ^f living." 

As yet Brother Balch had constructed no creed for 
himself, to which he had thought to surrender his con- 
victions to the exclusion of anything new that might 
seek to come in from without and to claim his hospi 
tality. But finding an organization entertaining views 



BEV. WILLIAM BTEVENS BAXCH. 73 

so much like his own, the question naturally arose in 
his mind, should he not join his interest with theirs 
and receive from them what assistance and sympathy, 
and fellowship they could give him ? 

It was here in Xew York in 1826, listening to dif- 
ferent preachers of our faith, and while occupied in 
teaching, that he received the right hand of fellowship 
from Eev. Abner Kneeland, and was admitted a mem- 
ber of the Universalist Church, of which he was pastor 
at the time. It was not till the next year that he received 
the rite of baptism by immers'.on, at the hands of Bro. 
Warren Skinner, pastor of the Universalist Church at 
Cavendish, Yt. It is no light thing for a young man 
to break away from the theological principles to 
which he has tacitly subscribed, and which he has 
learned to regard as sacred from his church association 
during his whole early life. Having a mind and char- 
acter of his own, marked by courage and decision, it 
was but natural, perhaps, that he should come to con- 
clusions very different from those that were entertained 
by many of his friends. We can be sure that he was 
one who took great pleasure in the investigation of 
truth, and, finding it, he embraced it with the full 
ardor of his nature. And being no slave to mistaken 
dogmas, he accepted like an honest man what his reason 
approved. The person who can thus think for himself, 
and has the courage to do it, who feels that necessity 
is laid upon him to go wherever truth shall lead, is 
greatly to be commended. 

He was now to return to school duties and engaged 
at twenty-one to continue teaching a year for $150. 
But in less than a month a schoolmate came to the 



74 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

city seeking a situation, and Bro. Balch offered him 
his place if he would lend him twenty -five dollars 
for three years, the first without interest and the 
remaining two with interest at six per cent., providing 
his employer would agree to it. The offer was accepted 
and was satisfactory all around. With that sum he pro- 
cured his first outfit and started out as a lecturer on 
laim*uao-e by the recommendation of Daniel EL Barnes, 
the founder of the high-school system, and W. S. Car- 
dell, the author of a new system of grammar. His 
first attempt was in Poughkeepsie, and very successful ; 
he realizing enough to take up his note and leave him 
with means to help himself on his way, besides a very 
flattering recommendation from the chief men 
of the place. In Hudson, Greenbush, Albany and Troy, 
he met with good success. In Troy he had a very large 
class engaged, and was giving private lessons to a Mrs. 
Willard, of the female academy, when sickness made 
him abandon this employment sooner than he would 
have otherwise done. 

In alluding to this afterward, he says: "It seemed 
to me an open door into manhood life. It overcame in 
part my natural bash fulness, and made me conscious of 
a responsibility resting upon me to pursue an honest 
and humble endeavor to deserve the confidence of those 
among whom my lot should be cast, and employ what 
talent I had in making myself useful to my fellow men. 
I have always had to regret my preparation being so 
small, and yet all I could afford. Except a fitting for 
college, which after all I had not the means to enter, 
my studies had been chiefly pursued alone, much the 
larger part before and after the hours of school from 



REV. WILLIAM 8TEVEN8 BALCH. JO 

four to eight a. m., and four to ten and a half p. it, and 
Saturdays, shut up in my little room." 

He stops to tell us how he had entered life "with- 
out so much as one cent of money, or a decent sun of 
clothing;" but as he left New York in this lecturing 
tour he was resolvod as soon as able to enter the minis- 
try: for his heart was on fire for the love of the Dni- 
versalist faith. He assures us that the wilderness before 
him had seemed ; ' dark and almost impenetrable." 
But he entered it now " with a stout heart and reliant 
upon God." He would not relate all his "trials and 
misgivings, sometimes almost yielding to despair." 
Xow the ministry was impressed upon his mind as the 
plainest and most direct course for him to follow. His 
experience had convinced him that there was •• 
of plain instruction in various departments of common 
life:" and he came to the conclusion that "religion 
practically presented was the most needful of them all. It 
laid the basis of all right living, and. properly understood 
and faithfully followed, led to the best success and truest 
happiness which God had designed for His children. " 
Under this conviction fully matured, he resolved to 
begin at once a more thorough preparation for the 
work. It seemed to him " the truest avenue in which 
he could be of service to his fellow men." And so 
after returning to his home, and remaining only a 
couple of weeks, he started on foot for Reading with 
the few books he had managed to collect, to prosecute 
his studies with the Rev. Mr. Loveland. 

I have but little doubt that the father thought of 
making a Universalist minister of his son long ere this, 
and before the son had conceived any such purpoe 



76 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

it will be recollected that he had sent him away from 
his home at the age of sixteen to go and pursue his 
studies with this same Mr. Loveland, a plan which was 
defeated by the son engaging himself as teacher in the 
public schools, and afterward of a new system of 
grammar, in which he became so deeply interested as 
to publish books of his own upon the subject. 

Bro. Balch tells of having pursued his studies in 
company with Otis A. Skinner at this time for the 
space of only three months, at which time his money 
had been exhausted, and at the advice of Bro. Warren 
Skinner, and his invitation, he took a seat m his 
wagon and they went on a preaching tour to Saratoga, 
Bro. Skinner doing the preaching, he tells us. It was 
here that Bro. Warren Skinner applied for fellowship 
in his behalf, and it was granted September 20, 1827. 
We have his description of this in the following lan- 
guage : " I was compelled to pass a rigid, and I 
thought a needlessly severe, examination, by a com- 
mittee of the convention, of which Kev. Paul Dean 
was chairman. A spirit of sectarianism was at work 
in the denomination at that time on matters of doc- 
trine, made more intense by another spirit, which had 
alienated some of the brethren. On the regular sub- 
jects I felt quite assured ; but when it came to Trinity, 
Pre-existence, Future Punishment, Divine Sovereignty,' 
Free-will, Bodily Kesurrection, and some other sub- 
jects, presented metaphysically, and with a manifest 
feeling that did not belong there, I stumbled, and 
deemed 1113^ case hopeless, till Bro. Sebastian Streeter 
came to my relief, declaring that it was wrong to pur- 
sue such a course in reference to matters that had 



REV. WILLIAM BTEVEN8 BALCH. 77 

always been in controversy, and never had been set- 

tledbythe wisest of heads. 'Why, 5 it was asked. -d<> 
you bother the young brother with questions thai you, 

nor I, nor anybody else can answer? It' he wants to 
preach why not let him try \ He seems to be as well 
qualified as we were. ' " lie was fellowshiped, and 
was glad to get through with such an ordeal. 

He tells us of having preached four sermons pre- 
vious to this time. Hisfirstwas in the study of Father 
Loveland to twelve of his associates from the text. 
"The Spirit made me go with them, nothing doubting." 
His first public sermon was given at Lempster, X. II.. 
the text. " Every valley shall be exalted, and every 
mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked 
shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth ; 
and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all 
flesh shall see it together." He, it seems, was for bring- 
ing everything to a level. Being once told that such 
was the case, that his was the leveling spirit, his reply 
was that he leveled up as well as down. He sought 
first for the elevation, and then for the equalization of 
sunken and sorrowful humanity. He had no higher 
purpose than to unite all men as brethren, and to league 
all in effort for the elevation of all. 

He walked on foot thirty-nine miles to preach this 
sermon. His pecuniary resources were so scanty at the 
time that he started off in September without any over- 
coat, and with but $5 in his pocket. Much of his 
preaching for the time was for $5 a Sunday, and he 
felt well paid, if he could only get an audience to hear 
him. 

6 



CHAPTEE VIII. 

CHARACTER AS A PREACHER. 

In speaking of Mr. Balch as a preacher, let me say 
as a first requisite that the work of the ministry con- 
stituted his chief delight, and was the leading purpose 
of his life, to which his whole soul was given. From 
the time he made the choice of it to the time of his 
death he became fully consecrated to its service, never 
allowing outside business or personal ambition to inter- 
fere with the main object to which he sought to devote 
himself. If other matters engaged a portion of his 
time, yet none inconsistent with this, or to be made 
secondary to it for a moment. Every high and worthy 
cause awakened his interest and received some share 
of his attention, but never to the forgetfulness of his 
calling or the neglect of one of its duties. Peace, tem- 
perance, freedom, education, he spoke and wrote and 
labored for them, but no one ever identified him with 
either of these, or supposed him to forget the character 
or office of the Christian ministry. In talking, in read- 
ing, in journeying, in health and sickness, in labor and 
rest, his heart seemed ever to turn to it, and he could 
say, as did an apostle, " This one thing I do, forgetting 
the things which are behind, and reaching forth to 
those which are before. I press toward the mark for 
the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." 
If this same apostle could say, " I am determined to 

78 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 79 

know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him 
crucified," so Brother Balch could say, I am deter- 
mined to know nothing among you save my preaching, 

and the application of it to the sins and sufferings of 
the world, and the promotion of truth and righteous- 
ness among men. 

He tells us himself that "from the time he entered 
the ministry he had given himself to it as to the first 
and chiefest of all duties. He had never neglected 
intentionally any obligation of the gospel in his power 
to perform, for secular business, or personal ease or 
gratification." Everything else he had made subsidiary 
to that one thought, " to serve the Lord by doing good 
to mankind." as his language is. After having preached 
fifty years we have these words from him: "I have 
ever felt that I was not my own, but the servant of 
Him who put me into the ministry. I have had many 
tempting offers, which gave almost certain promise of 
worldly wealth and positions which men call honorable, 
but I have preferred the motto of my life : 4 Shoemaker, 
stick to your last/ Hence I have kept to the work of 
the ministry, and in it outlived by several years, as a 
settled pastor, all who entered it with me, and many 
who came into it several years later. I love it still as 
ardently as ever, and see as much need of its active 
and energetic operation as in years gone by : even more 
urgent, as sectarian walls are crumbling fast away, and 
new and purer crystallizations are forming around 
grander truths, sublimer hopes, and broader charities." 

None will deny, who ever heard Mr. Balch preach, 
that his whole heart was in his preaching. If he has 
gone abroad, it has been to lit himself tor the 1 



80 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

duty of proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ, 
and for the sake of being more efficient in this, his one 
calling. If he has given lectures on his return, it has 
been with a view to the same end — of making it help- 
ful to him in his preaching. He has gone to gain val- 
uable lessons from the country and people and institu- 
tions where the feet of the Savior had trod, and not, as 
so many had gone, for the mere pleasure or name of 
having been abroad. He could hardly stand before an 
audience to speak upon the most common subject with- 
out doing more or less of preaching in some portions of 
it. He could not write you a letter or engage you in 
conversation for a half hour but you felt, before he 
reached the end of it, that he had preached you quite a 
sermon. Everything with him was made to bear upon 
the improvement of the people's morals or religion. 

And then again it is to be observed that Bro. Balch 
preached sermons — he did not preach essays. You 
never found him delivering mere philosophical disqui- 
sitions from the pulpit, as so many do. He may have 
written and delivered essays, sometimes, but this he 
did not consider was his calling or avocation. His were 
always sermons, for he preached the truth of God in 
such a way that it was made to sit in judgment upon 
men's sins. He did not deal with truth as alone, but 
with truth as it affected duty. 

Many persons have never learned to distinguish 
properly between what is a sermon and what a. lecture, 
a speech or essay. There is at least this difference : 
The one is concerned more with the exposition of the 
subject in hand ; the other with the treatment of it in 
reference to its application to conduct. A sermon has 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALOH. 81 

intimate relations with character. It does nol partake 

of the nature of a speech, or, if so, it is a religious speech, 
spoken by a religions man, who is seeking to promote 
religion in others. There may be such a thing as a 
decorous handling of the great subjects of religion 
which is no preaching at all, because more intellectual 
than religious or moral, and because engaged in for 
the entertainment of the hearer, much more than to 
persuade and influence to the doing of good. With 
Bro. Balch, however, there was always the faithful 
speaking, and reasoning, and entreating for the essen- 
tial rights and duties of humanity, in the application 
of Christian principles to the wrongs and evils and sins 
of the world. 

I risk the statement that he has done more earnest 
work in preaching in a direct, plain, simple, common- 
sense way that was calculated to reach men's hearts 
and homes, and purify and sweeten their daily lives, 
without being a dealer in men's endless distinctions and 
speculations; and that he has converted more persons 
to the great truths of Universalism, and worn off more 
prejudice against our blessed views than any other per- 
son living or dead in the Universalist ministry, if I 
may except, perhaps. Father Ballou. With no sys- 
tems of metaphysical theology, and no coldly elegant 
moral essays did he occupy the minds of his hearers; 
but with highest duties pressed urgently home upon 
all as rules of practices. He made everyone sec and 
feel that a genuine, upright, holy life was the one most 
needful thing. It will not be said thai he ever sought 
to imbue men's minds with particular views and senti- 
ments respecting this or that entanglement or perplex- 
ity; <>r to cause any number of speculative opinions. 



82 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

termed articles of faith to be received. Xo — good 
principles he insisted upon, and fundamental doctrines 
he preached ; but with the abstractness of theology as 
is at present, and has been for many centuries in con- 
troversy, he had very little if anything to do. To him 
the general duties of men were plain and palpable. 
They were such as result from what are the known de- 
pendence and wants of humanity, and a desire to ben- 
efit, and make the race of mankind loving and happy. 
And he felt that he was deserving of praise, and was 
laying others under obligation to him, so far as he pro- 
mulgated a true idea of life ; an idea of life as it ought 
to be, and was designed of God to be, and was instru- 
mental in the establishment of a practical goodness in all 
its purity and excellence in the earth. All his teaching 
was to the effect that God was to be loved and wor- 
shiped by us only in the exercise of affection, and in 
just and kindly offices performed out of regard to our 
fellowmen. 

He held that the great fundamental principles of 
Christianity, its essential teachings, were all of the 
simplest character, and not of any dogmatical import ; 
that they were those great regenerative principles of 
truth and love, and of a conservative power and influ- 
ence by which the world was to be saved and blessed, 
and mankind made Christians indeed. He esteemed 
all metaphysical questions as foreign to the purpose of 
the Gospel, and accordingly his preaching was level to 
the capacities, and met and satisfied the wants of the 
humble and unlettered. It was this that gave him 
such access to the commonest minds, which constitute 
the greatest share of our churches and congregations. 



REV. WILLIAM BTEVENfl BALCH. B3 

His was exactly the kind of religion which the people 
needed; not intricate, but within the easy comprehen- 
sion of every one, and consequently the people were 
enthusiastic in listening to him. Ee could preach 
great, grand, glorious truths in a way that the com- 
mon people, the uncultivated, heard him gladly, and 
wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of 
his mouth. His power lay, as much as in anything, in 
the full sympathy of the people to whom he preached, 
and they listened the more attentively because he was 
one of them in education and position, and never dis- 
owned his condition, or was ashamed of it, and be- 
cause at the same time he made every one feel that their 
fraternity was honored and exalted bv his beloncnno- to 
it. You find him always identifying himself with the 
lowly condition in which the masses of mankind are 
born. As he went among the people he went as a 
friend, and so was received as a friend. 

He himself tells us of having been charged by 
Father Ballou, standing in a pulpit at AYatertown, 
Mass., to be "simple in his preaching, preach so that 
children can understand you, and then the old folks 
can." And in his reflection upon what is here said, he 
remarks : " It is not the glitter of fine essays, rounded 
periods, and studied postulations that is needed. The 
church is cursed with too much of that stuff — chaff, in 
which occasional grains of wheat are found. The 
preacher of to day needs good, scpiare common sense, 
a knowledge of men and things, and experience in the 
real more than in the fashionable world ; a heart full 
of zeal for God, truth, purity and humanity : an apt- 
ness to teach plainly and practically what he knows ; to 



84 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

meet and mingle with the lowly, and help them to rise 
from their low estate ; and to show a humble, sincere, 
devoted demeanor, that 'his good be not evil spoken 
of.' He need not dogmatize when he preaches, nor 
need he fail to produce in the mind of the hearer a pro- 
found conviction that the chief object had in view is 
the advancement of the interests of humanity, and the 
people's welfare and happiness." 

And it was this that made him effective for doing 
the will of the Father in heaven, and commended him 
to so many of his brethren. He continues to tell us: 

" In prosecuting this work, the controlling thought 
and purpose of mj soul has been to present truth 
plainly and practically before the people ; to avoid all 
metaphysical, dogmatical and philosophical questions, 
the discussion of which would not convince and edify 
my hearers. I have never shunned to preach or 
to do what I thought practically important, nor al- 
lowed personal feeling or party attachments, the fear 
or favor of anybody to swerve me from my convictions 
of what was true and right and suitable to the minis- 
try of Jesus. In many things I have erred in judg- 
ment, as I afterward saw, and have come short in 
many more, but I never intended to flatter, fawn, sup- 
pliantly obey or purposely offend. In the rapidity of 
extemporaneous speaking I may have said many things 
and in many ways which a more calm and deliberate 
preparation would have avoided. But I have tried to 
keep my heart to meditate no evil, and therefore to 
risk less in such cases I have no doubt that a more 
studied and fastidious style would have won more ad- 
mirers, but I doubt if it would have reached more 
hearts. In a play-house where amusement is the chief 
aim it may be appropriate to ascribe prominently, 'We 
study to please,' but never in a Christian pulpit. To make 
plain the path of duty, to convince of sin and show 



REV. WILLIAM BTEA ENfi BALOH. 

how to shun it, to guide the young, counsel the erring, 
comfort the afflicted, and persuade to th< 
faith, hope and charily, are the higher aims to n 
I have aspired, and sought ( rod's help to achieve 

And most surely this has been 

And Mr. Balch was a great preacher, if to be i 
mated by the eminent services he has rendered in 
behalf of our Zion or the cause of righteousness 
among men. He was a great preacher, I 
great teacher. He not only occupied a high rank, 
but he stood in the foremost rank of Large num- 
bers which were acknowledged to be great. 1 do 
not know why he was not intellectually great. I am 
not meaning that he was so very learned a Bcholar, 
with a mind developed and disciplined by severe train- 
ing, enlarged and enriched by varied culture in all the 
multiplied departments of human thought and study. 
He never claimed to be learned in the technical - 
But his was no common order of talent, lie wras richly 
endowed by native and acquired gifts. 1 1 is mind was 
penetrating and comprehensive in its grasp and dis- 
criminating in its judgments, moving rapidly thn 
the processes of thought, and with a quick and clear 
perception, seeing readily the resemblances and differ- 
ences of things, which made him prominent in tin- 
walks of literary and professional life. There was 
never any distrust of his ability to gather up all the 
principles and bearings of his theme into one compre- 
hensive view, and bring the whole field of observation 
directly under the eye of his auditor. Be never made 
you feel that he was deficient in the breadth of dis- 
cussion of deepest questions; and you deemed him a 



86 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

master, fitted for the largeness of even philosophical 
criticism. 

He was a student by nature ; and if his sermons 
were not always the most orderly, they were rich in 
earnest thought and in originality of conception. There 
was thought written all over every one of his features. 
There are but few who will not allow that he had 
great strength of thought, largeness of desire, constant 
activity of mind, which enabled him to multiply the 
resources of his later years. He Avas a man of remark- 
able endowment of head and of heart, no more marked 
for energy of character than for vigor of intellect or 
power of expression. 

I recall the words of Dr. Sawyer, who in writing 
me says, "If I am to speak of him intellectually, I must 
accord him great abilities. His education was not 
obtained in any college, and I do not know whether 
a thorough college training would have improved him, 
or rather whether he would have submitted to it. His 
perceptive faculties were very large, and he gathered 
in through them a vast amount of knowledge. He 
had such stores of general information that he could 
not talk to an audience without saying many things of 
interest and profit. With wholly extemporaneous ser- 
mons he could not have maintained himself for seven- 
teen years in Xew York City, without having had a 
good deal of genuine preach in him." After stating 
this, with much more, he is pleased to add ; "This I am 
sure is a very imperfect sketch of my old friend. I 
know him well, but I have not done him justice, I 
fear." 

You were forever made conscious in listening to 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. v , 

him of greatest depths of research, that opened into 
vaster fields of knowledge and wisdom, and which car- 
ried your conceptions, if not your aims, far above your 
powers of execution. 

We are accustomed to speak of men who have 
acquired valuable information by dint of their own 
exertions as self-made men, and this was true of 
Brother Balch, only as God made him ; that is, He 
gave him the sacred instinct of thought, and the thirst 
for knowledge, that by a wise, faithful and constant 
use of his powers he should be successful, as much as 
he made the bee to extract the honey from the flowers 
of the field. If success was a thing which he had to 
work out for himself, yet it was God that " worked in 
him to will and to do of his good pleasure." 

A very marked peculiarity of his preaching was its 
intensely practical character. "With most men religion 
does not take form with them so as to find a lodgment 
in the heart, and so does not rise to the dignity and 
strength of what religion is designed to afford. It is a 
vague hope or fear, which is not without its influence ; 
but not fitted to guide, or too feeble to become con- 
trolling in human affairs, to rule the purposes of life, 
or shape its ends. The larger proportion of pulpit 
effort has had but little relation to the particular needs 
of the people, its chief aim being to give an expose of 
the preachers' system of divinity. But with the sub- 
ject of our narrative religion was instinct with a moral 
vitality in every feature of it. It was something to 
work in the individual bosom, and in society at large, 
and to improve and bless all those who were serviceable 
in the active duties of life. He preached his heart 



88 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

truths, and to the heart, till the people were obliged to 
accept them, in the love of them. He was an " able 
minister of the Xew Testament ; not of the letter 
which killeth ; but of the spirit which giveth life." 
If he preached doctrine, it was in its practical phases. 
Who ever heard him preach in any other manner I 
His idea was to preach and practice the Christian ethics 
with a minimum of doctrine andecclesiasticisms. The 
faith of the Christian as it seemed to him was a vital 
principle of action ; a living sentiment of the heart 
and affections, that always went hand in hand with 
good works. There might be professions which were 
a mere pretense, and any amount of hypocrisy might 
be practiced. There might be self-delusion ; but no 
true, Christian faith that did not prompt to good works ; 
that did not manifest itself in good works. 

Such a thing never entered Brother Balch's mind, 
as the separation of Christian doctrine from Christian 
practice. He sought rather to unite them in the closest 
bonds of attachment, making them parts of a complete 
whole, each essential to the other. A niairs principles 
were what he did : not what he said, and it seemed to 
him that he only believed in Christianity who lived it. 
A man must have Christian principles : and. Laving 
these enshrined in the heart and affections and in- 
wrought in the living soul, he would act upon them; 
and this was what, to his thought, made any man a 
Christian. Religion was precisely this active principle 
of love to God and man in the soul, to be made to act 
in the toil of life, for the glory of God and the salva- 
tion of his children. It was to be carried out and ex- 
emplified in the conduct, and in striving against the 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 89 

world's evils, and for the world's good. And for this 
did Mr. Balch prize it. lie was in all the tendencies of 
his nature and principles a reformer, a helper in every 
good cause, in every prominent charity, in every lead- 
ing interest of the community in which he lived. The 
service of humanity was his highest aspiration. 

Always a reformer, ]\Ir. Balch was in the front rank 
of every movement, tongue, pen and hand ready to 
relieve. His temperance work began with his public 
life ; and later he was one of the organizers of the 
\Yashingtonian movement, continuing persistently in 
his warfare against this great foe of intemperance till 
the time of his death. He was temperate in all things, 
even to abstemiousness. You could sit at his table, and 
while drinking your tea and coffee, he would be drink- 
ing nothing but water. He was a rank hater of every 
evil, and never failed to raise his powerful voice against 
public or private wrong, and especially upon the evil 
of intemperance, was he always ready to talk and be- 
stow active energy. Listen to his own words as we 
find him uttering them in 1878. " Into the temperance 
cause I entered fifty years ago, on the ground of strict 
total abstinence from all that intoxicates, including 
tobacco, and I have worked in it ever since. In the 
various humanities I have taken part ; such as moral 
reform, prison discipline, anti-gallows, and aid to the 
poor and oppressed of every name and clime." He 
showed a brotherly interest in every kind of work that 
needed the heart of true sympathy, and did not shrink 
from bearing solemn witness against the wrongs, the 
injustice, the heart-breaks and miseries of his fellow- 
men, and championing the cause of the weak and de- 



90 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

fenceless everywhere. An Abolitionist of the early 
time, he was a personal friend of Garrison, Phillips, 
Whittier, and their compeers ; and stood valiantly for 
the victimized sufferers of unutterable wrong. And 
thus did he proclaim abroad, and to the world, the 
divine method by which we are to win our battles 
against the strong and the mighty for the overthrow of 
all sin, wretchedness and misery. He tells us that he 
had but " one rule and purpose by which he was gov- 
erned in all the affairs of his life. It was to adopt 
all real improvements, and fearlessly maintain them ; 
to do all the good he could, and as little harm as possi- 
ble, and to teach that in purity there is peace, and in 
holiness there is happiness." 

And what could be grander than such a life, lived 
out in all the relations in which he was called to act 
toward his fellow men in his intercourse with the 
world ? What could be said more, or better, than that 
he was ready always to resist the wrong, and to main- 
tain the right at all hazards? His influence was al- 
wavs on the side of the right, and vou never found 
him advocating a wrong principle. And how should it 
be. but that such a life of itself alone, without any 
teaching of the uttered word, should speak powerfully, 
and should be a priceless legacy to the world \ 

But when, in 1S10, Brother Balch preached what I 
will call his great sermon, at the United States Con- 
vention of Universalists, holding its session in Auburn, 
X. Y.. from the text in John's Gospel, Chapter xiii, 
verse 35. " By this shall all men know that ye are 
my disciples," it seemed as if it went like an electric 
shock all over this broad land. Men were startled at 






REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 91 

such incisive utterances as awoke them from a sort of 
lethargy, in which they were reposing, and being held 
as spell-bound to a mere mode of faith. If I have 
heard this sermon referred to once, and indeed from 
the lips of the preacher himself, I have heard it twenty 
times from the lips of others. Persons have declared 
to me that it was the most memorable sermon that 
ever came before that honorable body. It was this 
that brought Mr. Balch more prominently before the 
world, and gave him that wide-spread popularity which 
he has fairly won for himself. It has been said that it 
secured for him his invitation a short time afterward 
to preach as a candidate to the Bleeker Street Church, 
in New York City. But along with that invitation 
came a difficulty. Mr. Balch had never preached as a 
candidate, and he did not believe in being placed in 
rivalry with others of his brethren to be promoted over 
them, to their great discomfort, and so he informed them 
that it would not be agreeable for him to visit them in 
the manner they proposed. And now what was to be 
done \ ^Yell, if he could not come in their manner, 
then he might come in the way that should be pleasur- 
able to himself, and they would engage to settle him 
without his being heard by the society at all. 

But what about the sermon that had obtained for 
him all this astonishing notoriety ? Understand , he 
was going to give them the test by which they might 
know Avhether they were the disciples or Christ or not; 
and he stopped to make some comments first on the 
word "know'' which was in the text. "By this shall 
all men know that ye are my disciples." It was not 
any matter of guess-work, or mere imagining; but of 



92 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

absolute knowledge ; when from a right experience the 
reality of it should be brought home to their hearts ; 
as when "the spirit of God bears witness with our 
spirits that we are the children of God." Then as he 
proceeded with his subject, it was to tell them in what 
manner they were to "know" it. And he was very 
sure that it was not by the adoption of any credulous 
theory that left the whole matter in a still deeper mys- 
tery, that no one was able to tell you anything about. 
Well if not this, was it from believing in any of the 
man-made creeds of the day ? A person might say that 
he believed in the Trinity, and you could not well 
doubt his doing so ; but did that make him a disciple of 
Christ — or a Christian ? Another might tell you per- 
haps that he believed in Election and Reprobation ; or 
in Total Depravity ; or in Endless Misery ; or in Uni- 
versal Salvation; and the query was again, did that 
make any man a Christian ? "VVe could know that it 
did not, for very bad men had not unfrequently be- 
lieved in every one of these doctrines. " By this shall 
all men know that ye are my disciples." By what? 
He here brought in the context, which he had kept 
back for a purpose until now, " that ye have love one 
to another ;" and asked his audience to take particular 
notice how plain and reasonable the whole matter was 
to the simplest understanding of even a child. 

A person listening to Mr. Balch's handling of this 
subject upon another occasion, at a subsequent time, 
informs me that he had so adroitly managed the devel- 
opment of the theme till he was ready to spring the 
answer upon his audience, that when he said, "Now, 
see how simple all this is, as Jesus taught it, they 



REV. WILLIAM 8TEVEN8 BALCH. ( J3 

were literally struck with amazement and delight, so 
that it became a matter of marvellous wonder and con- 
versation with all who heard it. The people almost 
rose from their seats at the grandeur of the annuncia- 
tion of so important a truth as that the loving- and 
serving of our fellow-men is to be the test of disciple- 
ship." That single sermon, giving such remarkable 
prominence to the practical side of our religion, and 
the work which Brother Balch has done through a long- 
life, making him such hosts of friends and such a favor- 
ite preacher with so many, have done more than we can 
tell to shape and mould the thought of the denomina- 
tion, and to put jewels in his crown that shall shine as 
lono: as there shall be any memory of the order to 
which we belong. The supreme interest of the life of 
Brother Balch has lain in the fact that it has been so 
much ethical, and of such practical utility to our peo- 
ple, and that his religion has been made to embrace 
every form of philanthrophy. 

It is truly lamentable how much of our time, and 
of every time, has had no very perceptible relation 
to human salvation and improvement ; to regeneration, 
or to any human interest whatever. There are those, 
the whole tendency of whose efforts is to make the 
world a painful desolation, whereon it would seem as 
if the sun might refuse to shine. Borne up by the 
faith of the gospel, he was always hopeful, if sometimes 
sadly so, keeping faith in the perfect goodness of God 
through all changes and vicissitudes. Most people are 
prone to grumble. They are pessimists in practice if 
not in principle ; but in the darkest and most trying 
circumstances he believed that God reigned, and that 

7 



94 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

the world moved on with regularity, for which we ought 
to be grateful. 

It is true, he chided himself sometimes with being 
sedate ; thought he was too much so for a man of the 
world, and that his profession had made him more so. 
To me he always seemed like a man that was subdued 
beyond all gay and passionate exuberance ; a man that 
didn't quite know how to laugh in a natural jolly way, 
without its being a little forced. He sometimes wished, 
he said, that he could " get out of such a habit, and 
talk and laugh at nonsense, seeing no evil, no wrong, 
no misery anywhere;" but then he tells us he "was 
never made so, and had never been converted to it." 

But while he was conscientious, seeing so many of 
the evils of the world, and taking them to heart to be 
burdened with them, yet he was moderately cheerful 
and playful, to be accounted for partly by what he 
tells us, that "experience had taught him to think 
kindly of his fellow men, and that the longer he lived the 
better he thought of their hearts, while he mght think 
less of their heads." You could know that there was 
something of humor about him, though not a humorist. 
It is told by Dr. Sawyer that "he was preaching one 
day, and repeating the remark of some merchants, 
that a man could not make a living and be rigidly honest; 
he stopped and said in the dry est kind of a wa} T : 
"I do not think people ought to say such a thing till 
they have tried it." It will be agreed that Brother 
Balch could tell a good story, but he was hardly at 
home with a story in the pulpit, and never with a witi- 
cism. If he may be said to have treasured a fund of 
anecdote from being blessed with a retentive memory, 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 95 

yet he always considered that it was to be used spar- 
ingingly. and barely for the sake of illustration, if 
needed : and he knew how to adapt his stories to that 
end. so that every one would say that there was an apt- 
ness about them, if nothing else. If not chosen with a 
studied refinement they were never of an exceptional 
character, and no one was ever left to feel that thev 
were privileged to indulge in his presence in any im- 
proprieties of speech. I recollect my telling a story at 
one time in a Sunday school where I had been given a 
class, and he came to sit in it. It was something trans- 
piring in my boyhood days. I was going by the canal 
through a part of the State of Xew York, and we came 
into a lock. There were seated out on one side of the 
lock two men, and one said " You stole my wool." 
The other did not deny it, but simply retorted, ;i I did 
not do it till I came to you. and went to others to get 
work ; and it was not given to me. And I did not do it 
then, till I went through the town to beg, to keep my 
family from starving; and some of the very persons 
who refused me work, called me a lazy lout, and told 
me to go to work. I then took your w^ool, and sold it 
to buy bread for my family/' Just then the noise of 
the water disturbed my hearing further ; and I was re- 
marking to the class that " it seemed to me at the 
time, so far as I heard, the man that stole the wool 
had the best of the argument "; when Brother Balch ex- 
claimed " Why, Brother Slade ! " I always deferred to 
him. and whatever else I might have said, I pursued 
the subject no farther. 

Xo one ever got ahead of Brother Balch. He was as 
quick to answer, and as ready at repartee as lie was to 



96 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

perceive the right and wrong of a matter. Professor 
Standish, of Lombard University, has contributed the 
following, as told by Brother Balch himself, that he 
was at one time desired to preach at a State Conven- 
tion in Vermont on the last afternoon, when the cars 
would take most of the people to their homes at an 
early hour ; and lie agreed that he would do so, if they 
would be present promptly at 1 o'clock, to commence 
the services. He did not fail to appear at the time ; 
but as yet there was no congregation or choir. 
Shortly, however, the choir presented themselves, and 
the congregation began to come in very scattering^. 
Brother Balch did not wait for congregation but gave 
out the hymn as soon as there was anybody to sing ; 
and as soon as the hymn was sung he offered a prayer. 
A last when the sermon was proceeding in a very sat- 
isfactory manner, and nearing its end, one of the cler- 
gymen, more tardy than the rest, came in and took his 
seat immediately in front of Brother Balch ; and lean- 
ing back in his chair, he took his watch from his 
pocket and held it in a manner that his attention might 
be attracted to it. As soon as it was brought to his 
notice, he stopped short and remarked, ' I would have 
the brethren understand, that I am not preaching for 
time, but for eternity.' " 

Dr. Sawyer writes me that he often told Brother 
Balch that if he wanted to get his best sermon, it 
would be on some very important public occasion when 
the person chosen to preach would fail to be present. 
He would go to him and say, " Balch, Smith has not 
come, and the people are all here waiting, and you must 
preach," and that put him upon his mettle, and he 



REV. WILLIAM BTEVEN8 BALCH. 97 

would do his best. But this confidence in his ability 
would sometimes betray him. and I have seen him. at 
some conference meeting perhaps it would be, talk 
against time, but he would go on until he caught a 
thread of discourse, ami then for ten or twenty min- 
utes rush forward like an orator with electric effect. 

It is told that at the United States Convention held 
at Boston in 1S45, Brother Chapin was to preach the 
occasional discourse at the School Street Church, Father 
Balloivs. and there were a great many more people 
than could get into the house; when Brother Otis 
A. Skinner arose and said that Brother Chapin would 
repeat his sermon from that same pulpit in the after- 
noon, and begged those that were present not to occupy 
the seats, that others might have a chance to hear it. 
Then he added that Brother Balch would preach at his 
church at that very hour, and those who were unable 
to gain an entrance there would repair immediately to 
the AVarren Street Church, for he knew that Brother 
Balch was always ready with a sermon prepared for 
any occasion. 

This recalls a circumstance which occurred at the 
time of my own ordination in 1S42, in Pawtucket, R. 
I. The occasion was one of more than usual interest, 
for it was the meeting of the State Convention, and 
their new church was to be dedicated ; and the charge 
and delivery of the Scriptures would be by Father Bal- 
lou. There had been a church before this, but Jacob 
Frieze was the preacher, and he turned infidel, the 
consequence of which was. that we lost our church, by 
its going out of our hands into the hands of the Bap- 
tists. The very great crowd of people that were 



98 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

brought together made it necessary to seek other 
quarters for preaching, and this Baptist Church of our 
own erection was procured for Brother Balch to preach 
in ; he taking for his text the words found in Haggai 
ii : 3. " Who is left among you that saw this house in 
its first glory % and how do ye see it now ? Is it not 
in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?" 

Brother Balch was always prompt in meeting all 
kinds of occasions, and sick or well he would go to fulfil 
all appointments. In those days he was sick a great deal. 
At one time he was to go to a place called Manville, 
fourteen miles north of Providence, to preach of an 
evening. In the morning he came down from his room 
with his terrible dyspepsia that destroyed much of the 
comfort of his life, regretting that his appointment was 
out. And now came a call that he go as far the other 
way and attend a funeral at 12 m., and his return 
would be not directly through Providence, but b}^ the 
way of Pawtucket, and I thought it would give pleas- 
ure to Brother Balch if I would go out to Pawtucket 
and go with him to his evening appointment, and ac- 
cordingly I went. Brother Balch was very glad to see 
me, and gave me to understand right away that I 
must drive his horse for him. As we jogged along, he 
remarked that he felt wretchedly, and that I would 
have to do the preaching. I had scarcely preached a 
sermon then, and gave him to understand that it would 
not do at all, remarking at the same time that I sup- 
posed they would think that " those that turned the 
world upside down had come there also," to which he 
made reply, "Why, that is a good text." We then 
turned to talk about different matters, and sure 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 99 

enough, when Brother Balch rose to take his text, that 
was it. And I recollect how he laid his subject out. 
He said he never learned but what Paul plead guilty 
to the charge. He was sure the world was wrong side 
up then, and it was wrong side up now, and he was 
ready to contribute his mite in trying to turn it over. 
And I thought before he got through he bad forgotten 
all about being sick, and I never saw such a turning 
over of the world in its theories and practices. 

I have said much as Dr. Sawyer says, "Wake Broth- 
er Balch up in the night, and ask him to preach a ser- 
mon upon any subject within the range of Bible teach- 
ing, and in two minutes he would have it all thought 
out and be ready to begin, and words filled with elo- 
quence would flow glibly from his tongue sufficiently 
thrilling to stir the hearts of any people. '' He was one 
of your minute men; and his mind was quick to see all 
the bearings of a subject, and he could be relied upon 
in an emergency. He had a rare faculty of seeing things 
at a glance. He could reach a conclusion by orderly 
processes, but if necessary could do it intuitively. 

Mr. Balch had taken high ground upon the reform 
character of our religion from the very first, and it is 
but just to his memory to state that when many of his 
brethren began to talk of "a new departure," he found 
that he had taken it along with his vows to preach 
Universalism, which was nothing different from 
Xew Testament Christianity; and long before many of 
them were born. Providence seems to have raised him 
up for the fulfilment of a special mission to our denom- 
ination; and he began immediately upon his entrance 
into the ministry to emphasize the all-vitalizing spirit 



100 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

of Universal ism; and to turn the thoughts of many 
minds into the more practical ways of thinking and 
doing. 

In April, 1832, he removed to Claremont, X. H. 
and in September, 1832, he commenced the publication 
of the new paper called the " Impartialist." I find the 
motto he employed as a heading to his sheet is com- 
posed of two texts of Scripture, "What is truth?" and 
" Speaking the truth in love." On the first of these he 
remarks, " We are willing to receive truth, let it come 
from what source it may, even though it shall termi- 
nate in the entire overthrow of our present faith." 
And then at the head of the editorial department he 
places Paul's words, " Doing nothing by partiality. " 
In addition to this we find him quoting the words of 
St. James which tells us, the wisdom which is from 
above is without partiality," and he hopes that 
he may be governed by this wisdom. He designs 
to make his paper what its name purports ; an 
"impartial paper, for the free discussion of all great 
subjects of a doctrinal and moral character." In set- 
ting forth the reason for publishing the "Impartialist," 
he assures us that " it is for advocating the simple unvar- 
nished truth of God ; humbling the pride and arro- 
gance of the self-righteous; teaching sinners the folly 
of sin, and persuading all to hope and wait and work 
for the salvation of men." 

We have a farther expression of the same sentiment 
from him in the following : " We are happy in the be- 
lief that a paper is now established in which all im- 
portant subjects shall be treated with candor. Our 
cause is the cause of truth. Our object the happiness 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 101 

of all men. And the means by which we hope to ac- 
complish it, the extension of light and knowledge by 
free investigation among the people. We have no 
creed to support from which we dare not depart. We 
have no forms, usages or traditions, too venerable or 
sacred not to be repudiated when shown to be wrong. 
Hence from us the public may ever expect fair and hon- 
orable treatment in relation to every subject that con- 
cerns the welfare of humanity." 

And from that time to this, counting the lon^ vears 
of his life, he has stood more than any other at the 
very front of all the great practical questions which 
we are found discussing in our own times ; and has 
done more in evening up our Universalism ; and mak- 
it, and keeping it, a thing of the life (not in the role of 
a sectarian, but as a teacher and helper in all good 
works), on the broad principle of universal love and 
good- will ; devoting himself to truth, right and hu- 
manity ; and never to creed, or sect, or party, as allow- 
ing them to conflict in any manner. 

Brother Balch was a Universalist, and preached it 
everywhere, in all so-called Evangelical churches as 
well as our own. He did not know how to preach 
without making it the basis of his sermon. It was the 
staple of everything he said and did. It was warp 
and woof and structure, and organization, and all, from 
foundation to capstone. But while preaching Univer- 
salism he did not preach it in a sectarian way. I find 
an article in his scrap-book taken from a paper pub- 
lished nearly fifty years ago, entitled " Universalism 
against Sectarianism. " It is almost a lament. He 
savs. " Universalists are often regarded as sectarists ; 



102 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

and they may sometimes be so in truth ; but when they 
are they depart from the principles of their profession. 
They acknowledge no particular mode of faith as 
indispensible to Christian character. They approve the 
good, the true, the useful in everything. Having no 
creed, which they regard as of binding authority, they 
have nothing with which their own, or other minds, 
should be checked in thought, unless it shall be a mere 
name. I am sorry to say that there is too much pride 
of name, and love of party in the world ; and every- 
thing of a partisan or selfish character should be kept 
away from us. We ought to take a high stand in these 
matters, and rise above the slime in which sectarians 
move. We ought to present the true principles of 
Universalism to the world ; not its abstract doctrines 
as they have been understood ; or as they are explained 
by this or that man, this or that sect. Let us main- 
tain the broad faith of our religion, and avoid partisan 
feeling, and we shall be measured by a new standard." 
He asks to know " What evil, sect or party has not 
wrought in the world ? What evil are they not work- 
ing all the while ? " 

It will not be said that there was anything narrow 
or sectarian about Mr. Balch. His sense of truth, his 
love of truth, his reverence for truth' all pointed in 
anther direction. Universalism he regarded as a com- 
prehensive name for good-will toward man. It was a 
spirit of benevolence, and kindness, and sympathy ; 
originating .with the Universal Father, and reaching 
out, and embracing all men, and laying them under its 
high, and everlasting obligations. Christianity to his 
mind was hospitable, inclusive rather than exclusive, 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 103 

and from sectarian and party strifes he always kept 
aloof. He was never a bigot to name, sect or party, 
and would have none of that belittling, partisan spirit 
which holds so much sway in all our churches. And 
only a short time previous to his death, when too weak 
to write it himself, he caused it to be penned by another, 
that he might leave it as one of his last messages that 
"Christianity will never triumph, until sectarianism, 
and dogmatism are excluded from it, and the fruits of 
the spirit are accepted as the proof of faith and fidelity. 
When these differences, and bigotries, dissolve away 
under the warm sunshine of divine and Christian 
love, and we begin to live like brethren — the true dis- 
ciples of Jesus — the world will be speedily converted, 
and never before. The true Universalist can be no 
bigot, no enemy of his brethren, can desire and do no 
wrong, oppress no man, reject no truth, refuse no 
good, neglect no duty. If men will stand fast in true 
liberty, and labor in love for the good of the whole 
race, in preference to building up a sect for sectarian 
and selfish ends, the Lord will bless them, and prosper 
their work." 

Brother Balch had the true view of liberality. It 
was not looseness, nor license, nor liberty to do wrong, 
in any manner. He was no anarchist, or non-govern- 
ment man ; for with him " every thought was to be 
brought in subjection to obedience to Christ." But he 
was large-minded in the support of everything good; 
everything his heart told him was right and true. He 
had a mind which dared to think for itself, and a tongue 
which knew how to speak. He applauded investiga- 
tion; not only tolerating, but encouraging free inquiry. 



104 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

He counseled original research, bidding every seeker 
after truth keep his eyes and ears open, that he might 
learn all God had to teach. He did not draw the lines 
about certain opinions and say, " Thus far shalt thou 
go, and no farther/' He was positive in his convictions 
with well-defined logical sentiments, being fitted by 
nature, rather than by education, to follow out a clear 
and well-sustained argument; to weigh conflicting tes- 
timony, and compare the results of actual experiment. 
With views thus clear, he ever thought to definitelv 
express them. He vindicated the right (as in duty 
bound) to reason without prejudice, to examine, think, 
judge and act for himself as unto God, and not answer- 
able to any who should usurp the privilege of dictating 
what the course of another should be. Xo man was to be 
the keeper of his conscience. Xeither the scorn of men, 
nor the petty rules of fashion, nor the bounds they set' 
to propriety or expediency, could deter him from 
searching out the mind of God, in his endeavor to know 
the truth that he might be made free; in the assurance 
that "if the truth should make him free he would be 
free indeed. " 

Thinking accurately he acquired a decision in his 
opinions, and was brought out of the darkness of other 
men's dim and guessing thoughts, into the fulness of 
persuasion, and with his emphatic utterance he may 
have seemed to some as being dictatorial in spirit. 
But nothing could be farther from his intention. He 
sought to apply good sense to theology, to reconcile 
knowledge with belief ; reason with revelation ; to 
humanize the church ; yet retaining therein all that was 
divine. In his hands religion was more humane, more 



HEX. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 105 

natural, more rational, more liberal. He had a few 
great fundamentals to which he held with the greatest 
tenacity ; but beyond that the largest liberty was 
accorded to everyone. He always wanted the kite- 
string well in hand, and then he cared not that the 
kite itself should float broadly to the breeze. If he 
entertained some views peculiar to himself, it was not 
that he sought to take away any liberty of others. He 
was as willing that everyone should entertain and defend 
what seemed to him right and good, as to do it for 
himself. It was not then that he was seeking to inveigh 
against any man's thoughts or opinions, but that he 
might better commend and encourage virtue and the 
right in all matters of well-being and well-doing. He 
acknowledged no responsibility to any body of men, 
or anv svstem of theologv, for his manner of thinking. 
or for the opinions he might entertain, and he could 
not for the sake of policy or to suit the circumstances 
of the occasion in which he found himself placed, fal- 
ter from strict duty from the principles of Christian 
uprightness, or the law of eternal and all-binding mor- 
ality, which encompassed him about. 

He was the friend and disciple of what was true, 
and he would have scorned himself had he shrunk in 
any presence from avowing and defending the thing* 
that seemed to him most right. He would be true at any 
price in making a manly defence of coveted sentiments, 
but he ever impressed you with entire ingenuousness 
and sincerity, and would stand so unabashed and nobly 
before you, that often he made you greatly ashamed. 
You could not meet him without feeling his earnest- 
ness of purpose, his loyalt} T to his convictions, and his 



106 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

determination to work hour by hour and clay by day 
to accomplish all the good he could. 

There are those who never do aught to merit the 
resentment of their brethren, or draw down the dis- 
pleasure of friend or foe upon their heads. But there 
are those as well who can not be made to swerve from 
their soul's integrity. They had rather die than turn 
back from a principle of right. They are fearless and 
independent in their thinking, and having once made 
up their minds for themselves, they know nothing but 
to go forward, and the prospect of favor if they remain 
silent can not beguile or entrap them. The agony of 
sharing in the battle that is to be waged to give tri- 
umph to justice and righteousness gives but a nobler 
daring, and consequently carves for them a nobler life. 

]^o\v there is honor in all this. We can be assured 
that manhood is a thing Avhich is much wanted in the 
world; and the minister needs to be wise, if may be, 
above the majority of men ; independent, but consider- 
ate ; fearless without rashness ; firm without obstinacy ; 
honest and faithful to assert his convictions when 
others may shrink from doing so ; not believing that 
he has the right to sacrifice the great boon of his reli- 
gion for worldly esteems. The fact is, that wordly 
honors — that worst of human evils — has forever played 
too great a part in men's religions. Wherein, let it be 
asked, consists the manhood of a man? Is it not in his 
interior thought, and not in anything merely outward ? 
A man's proper personality lies in the character of his 
thought ; and he is true and self-respecting only so far 
as he is true to his inward thought, scorning to com- 
promise it through outward conformity where any 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 10 T 

cardinal point is involved. In the common affairs of 
life manly men do not favor pretence, nor encourage 
an outward conformity that belies the inward convic- 
tion. 

The whole truth here, then, if it were told us, 
would be that Brother Batch sought to live faithful to 
his own convictions, and would never consent to sacri- 
fice a principle for the love of popularity, or for what 
the greater number might think to affirm as right. It is 
not too much to sav that he stood to his integrr'.tv as 
resolutely as ever martyr stood at the stake. He was 
one of your imperturbable souls; and nothing moved 
him from the stateliness of his tread. He believed 
that he had reverently to obey the divine voice that 
speaks to us from the heavens; that the thing for us 
first of all is to do right ; and if we cannot live by that, 
then we can die ; and the wise thing for us to do under 
such circumstances seemed to him that we should die. 

Now it is these things we have been saying that 
furnishes us a clear reason as to why Brother Balch 
was ever opposed to too much creed theology, and by 
his incessant opposition to the narrowing process was 
frequently brought into strife with his brethren. With 
his enlarged views of what Christianity meant to teach, 
and his breadth of humane sentiment, he could not 
brook the methods by which so many minds had been 
brought in subjection to the hierarchy of sects, and 
there seemed to be no other way for him, if he would 
be true to himself, or true to the truth, than to stand 
unyieldingly just where he did stand. He professed be- 
fore God, and in the sight of men everywhere, to accept 
with thankfulness all the great essential doctrines of 



108 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

the Christian religion, and trusted that he was a sin- 
cere lover of the precepts which Christ inculcated ; 
and yet as a brotherhood of believers we might not 
agree altogether as it respected many a non-essential, 
and each was to be his own judge in matters of this 
character, and no one had the right to say, " Why do 
ye so ? " He did not regard it as strange at all, that 
there should be all those differences of opinion respect- 
ing modes of faith and administration of church gov- 
ernment ; but, that such differences should be made a 
bar to Christian fellowship, and to prevent good men 
working together in a worthy cause was thought by 
him to be plainly anti-Christian and reprehensible. 

He was not presuming that we could ever frame a 
form of belief that would meet the exact thought of 
any great number of persons in its minute details, for 
no two persons could be found anywhere to think just 
alike — not if they thought at all. He deemed it more 
or less the fault of every system that writes its creed, 
that it fixes the limits of inquiry, and harnesses thought 
to a circle; and so puts the powers of the mind to sleep. 
It substituted the forms of truth for truth itself ; gave 
authority instead of reason, and sought to tempt or 
force the mind into subjection. In this way it appeared 
to him that creeds often became fetters and restraints, 
whereas the minds of men should be kept upon the 
alert, when new principles were being inculcated and 
new plans and institutions recommended, to explore in 
all fields of progress lying in advance of them. His 
rule was the one thought, that 

"We must upward still and onward, 
Who would keep abreast of truth." 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 109 

And a creed, of course, then, to meet the wants of 
any considerable number of reasonable minds, and to 
be a bond of union among them, had necessarily to be 
very general and comprehensive in its statements, in 
order that it might not become what other creeds hud 
been in other churches; something to bind the con- 
science, a yoke of oppression, a chain to fetter the soul's 
freedom. This was his main objection to creeds and con- 
fessions — the use they made of ecclesiasticisms to bind 
thought and restrain conscience, hindering the truth, 
and preventing the soul's progress in its upward aspi- 
rations for the absolute, the infinite, the eternal, the 
universal. He would have no mams intellectual beino- 
dwarfed by the claims of the church to provide and 
enforce a dogma. He had too much faith in reason, 
too much respect for the rights of individual judgment, 
too much confidence in our common humanity, too 
much tolerance for opinions. Protestantism, he held, 
begun in a protest against the rejection of reason; 
being a way of thinking and not a conclusion of 
thought ; a progressive work of investigating and grow- 
ing, rather than a dictum or a dogma. Give it up. and 
all that has been won in the religious progress of the 
past three and a half centuries, is gone. 

Brother Balch had none too high an opinion of the 
church, so but what he was always jealous of its 
encroachments upon individual liberty. Nothing with 
him had reflected so great disgrace upon humanity, and 
made integrity itself stand abashed, as the false assump- 
tions of some who were large in their professions and 
little in their deeds, and really stole the livery of heaven 
to serve the devil in. He had not to go far to find 



110 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

many sad examples of the backwardness, and even be- 
trayal of the clergy of too many of those good causes 
that stood posing most grandly before the world. He 
had a caustic tongue for all such as were forever hold- 
ing themselves in the back-ground, and no faith at all, 
and scarcely more of patience with them, in arraying 
themselves in opposition to everything but the old, 
the ancient, the venerable, regardless of its being right 
or wrong. He almost hated your cautious, timid, time- 
servers, as traitors to humanity; believing that they 
wrought more enduring damage to the race than all 
other enemies put together. He could not think that 
we were to parley with evil, or to temporize in any 
manner, sealing our lips, and stifling our thoughts. 
"We were not to become recreant to our honest convic- 
tions of duty, but to stand out boldly, speaking and 
acting in the defence of the right, the true, and the 
holy. This was his radicalism, to purge to the bottom 
of things; to make a clean sweep of all error, laving the 
ax at the root of the tree; leaving no one particle of 
diabolism to curse or cure any longer. 

]N"o severer strictures are anywhere found than those 
pronounced by the Prophets upon the shepherds of 
Israel; that they "did not feed the sheep, but fed 
themselves ; that they ate the fat, and clothed them- 
selves with the wool ; that they killed them that were 
fed, and did not keep them from becoming a prey to 
every beast of the field." And it is in this same strain 
that the Savior followed on. when he said, "I am the 
Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd giveth his life 
for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the 
Shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. Ill 

coming, and leaveth the sheep and fleeth ; and the wolf 
catcheth them and scattereth the sheep. The hireling 
fleeth because he is an hireling, and careth not for the 
sheep. " 

Permit me to quote in this connection the words of 
Brother Balch as touching this subject . He savs : 

" That the church has been backward and dilatory in 
its movements, often in the wrong, and opposed to 
progress, cannot be denied. This has been its great 
mistake, and a chief hindrance to its universal spread 
and triumph. Although directed and controlled bv 
those who claim to be of the elect, the converted souls, 
it has failed to demonstrate the spirit and power of 
truth committed to its charge. The frailties of human 
nature have found place in its counsels and conduct, 
and misguided its decisions and doings. Its manage- 
ment has not been unlike other public bodies, gotten 
up in the same manner, maneuvered by selfishness for 
personal interest and party gains. Indeed, how much 
like the rest of the world has been its methods of work- 
ing, and rarely has it shown more wisdom or less per- 
sonal ambition and worldliness. Its boastful pretensions 
have never been well sustained. Hence divisions and 
dissensions, oppositions and strifes, have come down to 
our day, and still exist among the professed followers 
of our Lord, the Master, the Teacher, the Saviour of 
the world. The diverse and numerous sects that began 
with Paul, and Peter, and Apollos have continued to 
multiply, each claiming to itself superiority over every 
other, in the measure and distinctness of the opinions 
defended, or in the perfection of its mode of govern- 
ment administered. Very small differences have often 
led to very bitter controversies, and lasting alienations. 
And thus the church militant has failed to become the 
church triumphant " 

His whole life was a protest in this smiie direction. 



112 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

He did not believe that it was for our church to be- 
come narrow, sectarian and dogmatic, like other sects, 
copying their plans, and adopting their methods, or in 
placing ourselves in rivalry with them ; but to try and 
manifest the spirit of Jesus as exhibited in the earlier 
days of Christianity, or even in our own earlier days. 
The church, with him, was the expression of the life 
of religion — or the working of brotherhood from the 
heart of humanity. He had seen too much of the 
illiberal and persecuting spirit of these older sects to 
make him in love with their policy — and when our 
own profession of belief came before the Illinois State 
Convention, met in Mendota, in 1S65, 1 think, for inter- 
pretation and handed down to the different State Con- 
ventions from the United States General Convention, 
he looked upon it as being a limit of faith, and as if 
truth was something to be determined by vote, and men 
must be left in nothing to think for themselves, but must 
have it dictated to them what they were to believe : and 
it met with his unqualified disfavor — and requiring the 
approval of two-thirds of the States to ratify it. the 
measure was defeated. In aiming to put somebody's 
else interpretation upon the creed, and making it 
authoritative with him, he could not see where it was 
going to stop, and his mind at once took the alarm, 
and revolted as if by instinct. He claimed that he had 
been charged in the most solemn manner, and accepted 
the charge at the hands of Father Ballon, " to search 
the Scriptures in the light of reason rather than of 
creeds: to not suffer himself to be misled by human 
and sectarian authority ; but to beware of all such ten- 
dencies." and he was sustained by conscious integrity 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 113 

when brethren found fault. Some had called our 
Profession of Belief a Confession of Faith ; reminding 
him of some kind of priestly, or Catholic confessional, 
which had for him no savory meaning that would pave 
its way to his acceptance, and he caught at it. It was 
too much, and he would have none of it. He was so 
stirred as to return to his pulpit in Galesburg and 
preach a sermon upon it, by which some declared that 
he took himself away from the denomination. But 
the sermon was in effect, saying that if Universalism 
was not Universalism, then he was not a Universalist. 
To say that Brother Balch was not a Universalist, was 
about equivalent to saving that there was not any Uni- 
versalism in the world, and never had been any. 
He was the very incarnation of the thing — Universal- 
ism made flesh amono* us. 

Brother Balch tells us that his objection was not to 
the interpretation per se, but to the assumption of 
power to give it authority by a body elected for no 
such purpose. He could not see how one man, or 
any set of men, had any right or business, to interpret 
authoritatively the evident intention of somebody else 
in drawing up a declaration of principles for the de- 
nomination. It would hardly seem that our allegiance 
to a prescribed faith could be greater than our allegi- 
ance to the Scriptures, for it did not exist only as it 
was believed to be a rescript of the essential doctrines 
of the Bible; and then of course as open to investiga- 
tion and interpretation as the Bible itself. " My ob- 
jection" he says to the Declaration, "was, that it in- 
troduced a new and wrong principle, and made a gen- 
eral to meet an exceptional case, which it did not meet 



114: THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

when applied ; that it attempted a precedent which un- 
rebuked must be fatal to religious liberty, and personal 
responsibility ; that it prescribed a new test, a mere 
submission to authority, where no new truth was given, 
no change was made, no new principle was pretended — 
a mere interpretation. To such a test I did not, do 
not, and God helping me will not, submit. I deny ut- 
terly, emphatically, and continually, the right of any 
man, or council of men, to exercise lordship over my 
faith or conscience, to decide by vote what I do. or 
may or shall believe. God never made, nor gave to 
councils, synods or conventicles, to popes, kings, priests 
or laymen, a mold in which to cast forms of truth for 
all time ; nor indicated a system of patchwork to re- 
pair and interpret old and obsolete doctrines of men, 
to keep them respectable, and preserve them from ob- 
livion. The true Christian rises above all this, and 
thankfully receives the light of truth, come whence it 
may, and where there is found an honest confession 
of the spirit of Jesus, and a sympathy of heart to do 
good to fellow man, there is a willing fellowship of 
hands to work in all good causes. 

Some have thought Brother Balch too beligerant and 
contentious, ready to enter the arena of controversy 
or join in the affray of polemics with a war of words 
that did not always conduce to harmony in the de- 
nomination, and they have attributed to pugnacity 
what had to be charged to his loyalty and fidelity. 
Firm in what he deemed the course of right and duty, 
he wished no occasion to pass without defending his 
honest convictions. Thinking for himself, he deemed 
it no less a duty to a^t for himself, and his wisdom and 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 115 

convictions did sometimes compel him into a heartfelt 
and honest opposition. But hear him, i; I do not like 
to find fault with brethren whom I love, and with 
whom I have worked so long and I think faithfully — 
I know honestly and religiously. But it does seem to 
me that Ave have made a wide departure, not only 
from the habits and usages of our fraternity, but from 
the principle, broad, generous and loving — embraced 
in the very name of what we profess — and are in the 
ruts of preceding sectarians. Especially have we de- 
parted from the simplicity, the zeal, the humility and 
patient working of a half-century ago. It were a great 
satisfaction to live in peace and good-will with all, but 
not at the sacrifice of truth. I can not yield the truth 
for any cause, nor shun to defend the right.'' It will be 
acknowledged that Brother Balch was not one of those, 
who thought it necessary to inquire how the rulers and 
Pharisees and chief priests believed, for fashion and 
custom, and tradition and pride went as little way 
with him as almost any man you ever meet. But he 
does not scruple to say of himself, " \Ye suppose we 
love popularity well enough — as well, perhaps, as any- 
body else — but we love honest principle and manly 
integrity better. Shall we refuse to tell the truth, and 
a truth which regards the public welfare, through fear 
of losing the good opinion of others, or the affection and 
esteem of brethren. How could we do such a thinar? 
If others esteem us the less because we have told 
them the truth, we are certainly sorry for it — not that 
we have said what we have — but that their esteem has 
not been founded on some better principles. We prefer 
the respect of our own conscience to the flatteries of 



116 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

all the people in the world." There are certainly enough 
that will natter you; but the numbers are too few that 
will tell }^ou the important things that it most concerns 
you to know. We must understand that it is a great 
thing to be a man of sturdy principle, and that Brother 
Balch always was. He felt that in standing in a relig- 
ious attitude before the world, it was as though he was 
standing in the presence of God, and he must not dis- 
simulate. It is, indeed, mortifying in the extreme, to 
see such weakness and pusalanimity in those who have 
education and influence, and who ought to be leaders 
in the cause of truth and the right. How many are 
incapable of any opinions of their own, and less capable 
of expressing them. They have no real reliance upon 
themselves, and no ambition except to be with those 
who are high in authority. If our brother was ambi- 
tious at all, it will not be said that it was in this direc- 
tion. And still, in not always agreeing with his brethren 
in regard to some measures of denominational manage- 
ment, we may be sure that it arose from his heroic 
fidelity to truth and honesty; and though his language 
may not always seem to some to be couched in the most 
respectful manner that could be, yet his purposes and 
motives, and the main drift of what he aimed to say 
and do, was never very far out of the way. I will vouch 
for it, that he has been nearer right, upon the whole, 
in all these years, than most of those who have sought 
to oppose him. 

It is a satisfaction to know that he was always 
aboveboard in everything he did. His nature was 
frank and open as the day, and there was that in his 
countenance and bearing that bespoke your confidence, 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BAXCH. 117 

and commanded your respect. His was never an in- 
triguing spirit, acting under a mask, and seeking sinister 
ends, but with a heart outspoken in words of unmis- 
takable import, he pursued with clear and steady aim, 
the course which seemed to him wise. He believed 
less in human contrivance than almost any man you 
might encounter. There was nothing to be carried by 
trickery, or by artifice and scheming with him. Too 
many are apt to place reliance upon management and 
maneuvering more than on principle and merit, but he 
scorned to resort to any extreme tactics, or any uncon- 
scionable methods to cany a point. He hated mean- 
ness and strategy, and could be fully relied upon never 
to do aught to gratify petty, personal ambition, or to 
advance his individual fortune, that was not straight 
forward as between man and man. His methods were 
all simple and plain, as in the advancement of the 
cause of truth, and the practical power of knowledge 
for the elevation of mankind in virtue and happiness, 
and his means gradual but sure as for the righting of 
every wrong, like Christianity, displayed in the moral 
teachings and pure life of Jesus, which is admitted to 
be the clearest demonstration of the power and value 
of truth in reference to the needs of man. It may be 
said that 

" His armor was bis honest thought, 
And simplest truth his highest skill." 

He had no other method than to compass right ends 
with right means, and wait patiently for the issues of 
his cause ; and so spoke the truth and left it to battle 
for itself. He had such confidence in its capacity to 
vindicate itself, and make its unobstructed wav to the 



118 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

hearts and consciences of all who prize and love it, 
that he would dare trust anything to it. All right and 
true principles were everlasting, and to his mind 
nothing could shake or destroy them. 

Mr. Balch has never written many books, but the 
bulk of what he has written has been of a character to 
do honor to his religion. Among the number, to which 
he always referred with more or less pride, were his 
"Lectures on Language," in 1838, and his "Grammar 
of the English Language, "in 1810. About the time of 
these publications he also published" A Manual for Sun- 
day Schools," and -some other smaller works. At a 
later date, after his first visit to the Old Country, he 
brought out " Ireland as I Saw It ", and then last of all 
his "Peculiar People". Several of these have already 
received notice in what seemed the more proper place 
for them. Of the last mentioned I give it here. It 
was mostly written in leisure hours after Brother 
Balch's last return from Europe and the Holy Land, 
though not published till a considerable later date, and 
was designed to illustrate in practical life certain great 
moral principles of Christianity. In a review of the 
book by Dr. Thayer, among other excellent things, he 
says of it, "The entire narrative is of that pure moral 
character that it cannot fail to open the well-spring of 
affection and love in the hearts of all who read it." 

The following is what we ourselves said of it at the 
time it was first brought under our eye : 

"It is one of the books that is not written to while 
away an idle hour, or make money without the consid- 
eration of doing the world a valuable service. It is 
crowded full to repletion of the noblest sentiments to 
which the heart responds as if by instinct, and it is 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 119 

impossible that a person should rise from the reading 
of it without being made better and more manly by it. 
Every page almost from beginning to end evinces what 
ought to be the spirit and workings of Christianity when 
carried out into real life, and yet it is of the story kind — 
fresh as any novel. The reader need not expect to rind 
any foolish sentimentality in it — for it is just such a 
book as Ave might suppose Brother Balch would write if 
he was going to try his hand at making something that 
should be both readable and instructive. From the 
moment you sit down to its persual you feel that you 
are taken possession of, and no other impulse is as 
strong as that of being hastened along toward the end. 
He who has read any of Brother Balch's narratives, or 
travels in the East, knows, without being told, that he 
could not write anything of an uninteresting character. 
I will acknowledge that I have never looked into such 
a storied mirror of the Christian religion, so fully dis- 
playing what Christ aimed to do for the world, were 
the world but willing to profit by his teachings and 
example. It gives one faith in the Millenium, to look 
at so genuine a people as he describes : a community of 
such simplicity of manners, modeled after the pure and 
loving spirit of Christianity, without anything of the 
world's vain distinctions and extravagances. In regard 
to the world's selfishness and oppression, it sets off in 
strangest contrast with the so-called Christian practices 
of to-day, in the midst of so much of parade and pre- 
tensions, andsham ceremonials, and sectarian ambitions 
and strifes, that have done so much to destroy the 
religion of the world." 

A donation was made of this work by Mr. Balch 
to the " Universalist Woman's Association," of Illinois, 
with the copyright and plates, of which honorable 
mention was made at the time of his death by the 
directors of the board, in a set of resolutions, the 
first and second of which were : 



120 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

"Resolved, That we will respect his memory for 
the good and useful life of four-score years just 
closed. 

" Resolved, That we honor his name for the gener- 
ous gift to the the Universalist Woman's Association 
for missionary purposes." 

Brother Balch always felt a great interest in mis- 
sions. It was his ruling passion, in accordance with 
the prayer of faith, " Thy kingdom come, and Thy 
will be done on earth as is done in heaven," and he 
was un wearied in his exertions, traveling far and near 
to visit the brethren, and attend associations and 
conventions as far as would consist with the discharge 
of his home duties. The spirit of missions is every- 
where the same, whether developed in the home or the 
foreign field, and he responded with high and grateful 
enthusiasm to every Macedonian call ; yet the moral 
desolations around him claimed his first effort. 

It will be acknowledged that his whole life was 
missionary in its spirit and labors, though he was of 
opinion, and sa\ r s : " We can rightfully claim a better 
gift to bestow on what we call heathen nations, than 
sects who have been engaged in foreign missions for 
many years. The true history of these missions would 
reveal facts and results little understood. It has been 
mine to visit many stations in Greece, Turkey, Syria, 
Palestine, Egypt and Mexico, and I know whereof I 
affirm." He thought we had heathen enough all about 
us, and should begin first to help them at our very 
doors. He asks to know, "Where are crimes more 
common, thefts, robberies, murders, drunkenness, gam- 
blings, everv degree of extravagance, follv and shame. 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 121 

more common, good and wholesome laws less regarded. 



justice more outraged, than in America I Talk of 
' heathen Chinee.' Are they not more industrious 
and less complaining and quarrelsome than other 
laborers ? Do their opium dens breed more mischief, 
or lead to more crime and misery than the thousand 
rum-holes in our large cities that we license to keep 
open?" 

He did not feel sure but the people of those coun- 
tries could be of service to us if sent from that way. 
He supposes a case, that a delegation "should come 
from some heathen center to our most cultured Chris- 
tian cities, with a Chunder Sen at their head, to inquire 
the way of salvation, and asks, ""Where would they 
learn the true, pure, plain principles which Jesus 
taught, or who were his disciples \ What evidence 
would be given them?" A London journal (quoting 
statistics to back it up) presents as a moral paradox 
the statement that the most poorly paid working girls 
in that metropolis are those engaged in the work of 
sewing and binding Bibles. It adds that for every 
heathen abroad who can be induced to use the sacred 
volume for anything else than gun wadding, a dozen 
of these girls are driven to peredition at home. 

There are great numbers to doubt if the teachings 
of these sects have any greater morality in practice 
among them than have the heathen allowing that 
their theories are better. An educated paganism pre- 
sents peculiar features in a daily paper which is being 
published in Japan, in which some rather free criti- 
cisms are offered on the Christian religion. It wants 
to know among other things, "Whether a Christianity 



122 THE LIFE AND LIBORS OF 

which allows liquors to be sold at every street corner 
and licenses gambling houses, is any better than a 
heathenism which simply tolerates these things, and 
asks no impertinent questions \ " 

We mistake in many respects about these peoples. 
A large share of the descriptions given of them are 
scarcely honest from the fact that, instead of relating 
things just as they are, we shuffle all the centuries 
together and present the old pictures of Grecian, 
Koman and Egyptian debaucheries, as though they 
were photographs of existing facts. The evidence, 
however, is constantly accumulating through the 
descriptions of competent and trustworthy travelers, 
that their moral condition is far better than is gener- 
ally represented, and that their average standard of 
morals is not so much lower than in many portions of 
Europe and America. 

I find the following among Brother Batch's preserved 
matters : 

Dr. Albert Leffin^well, a man of wide travel and 
fine culture, says, in The Laws of Life: 

'* Not only are the laws better obeyed in Europe than 
with us, but we are surpassed by the people whom we 
are accustomed to regard as only half civilized. 'Bet- 
ter not go down that street this time o' night,' said a 
London policeman to me one evening, within sight of 
AVestminster Abbey; ' it isn't safe for strangers.' Yet 
I have wandered on foot and alone throughout the by- 
ways of Tokio and Osako late at night, without the 
least apprehension of danger, though surrounded by a 
people who could hardly understand a single sentence, 
I might say. Even India, with a population the most 
poverty-stricken on the face of the globe over which a 
civilized flag floats, is one of the most law-abiding 



fiEV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 123 

countries in the world. In proportion to numbers com- 
prising the population, the criminals of India are far 
more often foreigners than natives, strange as they 
may seem. While in Bombay, I learned that the 
authorities had discovered the strange fact that increase 
in criminality was almost exactly in proportion to adop- 
tion of European ideas. In other words, the heathen 
were more law-abiding than the whites who governed 
them." 

Henry Ward Beecher once asked questions like 
these : 

Do you know that in China there are 2,000 colleges, 
and that their libraries outnumber ours ten to one \ 
Do you know that in that country there are more than 
2,000,000 highly educated men, and that out of that 
vast population of 100,000,000 there is scarcely one who 
cannot read and write t Do you know that in good 
manners, for which there is an ample market in this 
country, China leads the world? 

We go to these foreign countries, carrying our boast- 
ful pretentions and rivalry of sects ; puting ourselves in 
a kind of exceptional independence to them; mistaking 
and traducing their characters as though they were not 
combining in themselves any of the virtues of Chris- 
tianity, while in many things it were not strange if they 
were far our superiors, and better behaved than our- 
selves. The term heathen is always used in a way that 
implies condescension and contempt. Brother Balch 
believed in missions at home and abroad, but saw 
many things to modify our too urgent zeal in sending 
large sums of money away to the heathen just now, as our 
people are circumstanced ; our societies struggling for 
existence. And not the least of those was his objec- 
tion to importing the evils of Christian dissensions and 



121 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

sectarianisms, and historic quarrels into those countries. 
It isn't as though we were necessitated to go abroad, 
because we cannot spend all the money we have in 
educating heathen at home. 

If we are desirous to learn respecting Brother 
Balch's missionary spirit, we must follow him up in his 
different settlements over 'churches and parishes, and 
his rambling over State and Xation. He was ordained 
May 28, 1828, and the next day found him on his way 
to fulfill an appointment in a distant field, to which he 
was invited by a stranger whom he never saw before. 
He himself gives this account of it : 

" The morning following, I was standing on the 
piazza of the house where we had been entertained 
during the convention, with Brother T. J. Sawyer, then 
a student in college, waiting for the stage which was 
to take us to Troy, Avhere we had planned to start on 
a tour of lecturing, neither of us having money to pay 
our board for a week. A strange gentleman came up 
and addressed Brother Sawyer, as the elder and better- 
looking man, asking him if he were not a preacher. He 
answered him no, but that I was. ' Well,' said the 
man, 'I have but a moment to say that I am going to 
JNewfane, Yt., where there is a small society that wants 
preaching. I will take you over, and you can preach 
next Sunday, and if they do not want you I will bring 
you back.' ' Go,' said Brother Sawyer, ' and I will go 
to Troy and stay with Brother Willis till you come 
back.' 'But what if I do not comeback?' I asked. 
' Then I will go back to college, and you go to work.' 
Just then the stage drove up. He entered, bade me 
adieu, and I started off with a man I had never seen, 
and whose name I did not learn till two days after- 
ward. We, were till the third day at noon passing over 
the Green Mountains, and reached Xewfane on Sun- 
day. It was immediately noised about that Captain 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 125 

Carter had brought them a preacher, and a meeting 
would be held in the school-house that evening, on o-oino- 
to which when the time came, I found was crowded 
full. You can depend upon it that strange thoughts 
rushed into my mind as I entered there as a preacher. 
I shall not try to tell you my feelings. I was devout. 
I was humble and in earnest, and God helped me." 

It was here Brother Balch spent his first three 
months. preaching usually three times on Sunday, as was 
the custom then largely in all parishes, and three or 
four times during the week, for which he was paid less 
than 825 for his entire services. In the winter of 
1828-29 he went back to teaching school, preaching 
occasionally in different places, and continuing his 
studies with Father Loveland. As the spring returned, 
he returned to Newfane, engaging to preach half of 
the time at 85 a Sunday. The other portion of his 
time he preached in surrounding towns, and in Win- 
chester, X. H., traveling on foot twenty and forty 
miles to reach appointments, and received the same 
pay of 85 per Sunday. He remained in these places, 
preaching in nearly every town in that region, till he 
married his wife in August, 1829, and was. invited to 
his first real settlement in Albany. X. Y. 

He continued to work just as hard in Albany as he 
had done in his former field, and as he says ," not 
knowing how to take care of my health, I became 
worn down with over-exertion and was obliged to 
abandon my charge." He had formerly preached at 
"VTatertown, Mass., to which place he had been invited 
before going to Albany, and it so happened that Dr. 
Williamson was having under consideration the matter 
of settling in Watertown, when it was proposed by 



126 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

Brother Balch that his friend come to Albany, and let 
him go to Watertown, and it was thus arranged. 
Brother Balch would afterward refer to it as "A swap- 
ping of societies/' After going to Watertown his health 
somewhat improved for a time. But again it failed and 
after two years he was induced to remove to Clare- 
mont, IN". II.. in 1S32. Dr. Adams to whom I am in- 
debted for several of the above facts, says in his 
" Fifty Notable Years " that " he preached there hall 
the time, and supplied in Hartland and Springfield 
Vt.. and Newport, X. II.. until a new church in Clare- 
mont was finished, and that here he was very actively 
employed, not only as pastor, but as doing missionary 
work in every direction." 

Brother Balch never knew when he had done 
enough, or when to give himself rest from his labors. 
It was in the spring of 1S33 that Brother S. A. Davis. 
now of Hartford. Conn., became a student in the home 
of Brother Balch. and he tells us that he was "a vouno- 
man. only twenty-seven years old. but did a great work 
for our faith in that section of Xew Hampshire, and in 
the adjoining towns of Vermont, and did it at that early 
day when the prejudices of men ran very high.'' He is 
speaking after his death in the Gospel Banner, and is 
pleased to add, " No minister in our church had a larger 
share of my love and confidence." I find in Brother 
Balch's journal that he had " seventeen preaching sta- 
tions." and that he was the means of bringing " several 
ministers into the State, and no less than three or four 
into the ministry." A large portion of the time he 
established and edited the paper called the " Impart ial- 
ist." writing generously for it. He assisted in forming 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 127 

the New Hampshire State Convention of Universalists. 
A then present citizen of Claremont, and a member of 
his congregation, writes me that " the church which 
was dedicated by Brother Balch in 1832 was remod- 
eled and rededicated in 1883, and that Brother Balch 
was present to assist in the exercises, reading the 
original hymn which he composed for the first dedica- 
tion fifty-one years previous." 

It may not be amiss to reproduce the hymn in this 
place. 

To Thee, O God, who hearest prayer, 

This earthly temple here we raise; 
May we Thy choicest blessing share, 
And dedicate it to Thy praise. 

Here may Thy humble offspring bend, 

And worship Thee, Thou Great Unknown; 

And may Thy quenchless love descend, 
And seal, and fit us for Thine own. 

May we Thy ancient truths dispense, 
Thy sacred will and power proclaim 

The faith once given to the saints, 
The hope that's found in Jesus' name. 

May we Thy holy Sabbaths spend 

Within these consecrated walls; 
And round this altar lowly bend, 

While Thy good spirit on us falls. 

Here Lord we'll sing, and preach, and pray, 

While we Thy sanctuary throng; 
And when we're called from earth away, 

In heaven we'll raise a nobler song. 

In going from there to Providence, K. I., in 1836, 
his labors were scarcely lightened in any respect, for 
he still had a wide field in which he was constantly 
employed outside of his parish work. 



128 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

It was the same in all the years of his ministry. He 
was very popular, with hosts of friends, and was always 
going here and there and everywhere. He was most 
truly the people's friend, and therefore did they hear 
him gladly. It is told that he took the greatest inter- 
est in the progress of the cause, and was reaching out 
and building up the faith in every direction. In a short 
time the large church was crowded, and a second 
society was formed in the city, which, because of the 
troublous times on account of the Dorr movement, did 
not prosper very well at first, but having survived that 
terrible struggle has moved steadily along to the pres- 
ent time. A letter from Brother dishing says. " The 
period of Brother Balch's ministry seems to have been 
a period of great prosperity in the history of the old 
First Church and Society. It was marked by import- 
ant events in the history of our little commonwealth, 
and his eager spirit made him an important factor in 
the public concerns of the day. Leaving here nearly 
fifty years ago he left a deep impression upon the life 
of the parish, and the life of this whole people. He is 
pleasantly remembered by many of the oldest citizens, 
who when he was present to preach for me on a recent 
date, took the greatest pains to listen in large numbers 
to their friend and leader of long ago. I learn that 
during the years of his stay in this city no less than 
sixty persons united w r ith the church, and on its record 
to-day, there are the names of at least six who became 
Universalist ministers, and who, I presume, pursued 
their course of study for the ministry with him." [The 
preparer of this volume being one of the number.] He 
adds, "You can imagine that he kept something like 



REV. WILLIAM STEVEXS BALCH. 129 

a primitive theological school during his Providence 
pastorate." And this was so. His life has been to 
train men in the ways of religion and for the same 
useful and honorable work to which his own many 
years had been devoted. But little less than thirty 
have been in his family at one time or another, seeking 
his assistance in preparing themselves for the ministry. 
It was while in Providence that I became ac- 
quainted with BrotherBalch, in first hearing him preach 
at Fall River, Mass. I may be said, like many others, 
to have grown up with a terribly dark pall hanging 
over me, calculated to embitter my childhood and 
youth, and darken the whole future of my life. Just 
about everybody in those days shared these severer 
views, which had been a chief element in the religion 
that so generally prevailed. There was no such Heav- 
enly Father as now conceived of, who was an un- 
changeable Friend, by whom we were kept and blest ; 
who loved us, and loved all men, with a boundless, per- 
fect, everlasting love ; no tender, beneficent Provi- 
dence, the highest possible motive and purpose for in- 
finite welfare. I almost hated the very name of God, 
though not the God that ever lives and loves, but the 
stiff idol of men's creeds and worship. The very 
works and ways of God had all been perverted to me. 
I knew indeed that theology, as I had been taught it, 
was an ill-woven tissue of absurdities. I had heard a 
single Universalist sermon previous to this, which, 
though it produced something of an impression upon 
my mind at the time, had been nearly effaced from my 
memory. And it was left for Brother Balch in that first 
sermon of his to which I ever listened to give a turn 



130 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

to my life which has made me so much what I am, that 
I am claiming but very little responsibility for my re- 
ligious belief. I confess to have been taken out of a 
slough of despond, and m}^ feet placed upon that Rock 
of Ages that has been cleft for us all, and is so much 
higher than we are. And let me tell my readers that 
I would rather part with every grateful association I 
have ever formed, than to lose from my soul one feat- 
ure or lineament of that excellent faith connected with 
the name of Universalism, as I first learned it from 
this father and friend, with whom I have lived on such 
intimate terms from that time to this. 

Let me try and summerize the sermon if I can. 
The text was I Peter i. : 3-4, " Blessed be the God 
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which ac- 
cording to his abundant mercy hath begotten us 
again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus 
Christ from the dead, to an inheritance, incorruptible, 
and undefiled, and that fadeth not away." He said 
that his subject was the Christian's "hope," and that 
he should go to his text for all that he should attempt 
to prove that evening. 

He next declared that it was " a lively hope," an 
animating and rejoicing hope, and further, it was the 
hope of *' an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, 
and that fadeth not away," and that we were " begotten 
to it by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the 
dead," as the proof of our resurrection. Notice the 
four points which he makes: The Christian's hope; a 
lively hope; the hope of an inheritance, incorruptible, 
etc., and our being begotten to it by the establishment 
of the fact of the resurrection. He had read each of 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 131 

these right from his text, and under the head of each 
he had devoted more or less extended remarks. 

But now he turns to notice the first part of his text, 
which reads " Blessed be the God and Father of our 
Lord Jesus Christ, which, according" to His abundant 
mercy, hath begotten us to " this hope. Under the head 
of God he shows that He is the All Good, the infin- 
itely good Being. And then He is the Father, infin- 
itely more tender than any human parent can be. And 
besides all this He is abundant in mercy — which, of 
course, is no less than infinite — and the Christian's hope 
to which the God and Father of Christ has begotten 
us is according to this infinite mercy. He means to 
hold us to this statement. He tells us what a chord in 
music is — that it is where the notes all harmonize to- 
gether, or are at agreement with each other — and a 
discord is where there is no such agreement. He then 
. takes a pair of scales and makes use of them by which 
to illustrate his subject — putting the Christian's hope 
into the one, and the infinite mercy of God into the 
other, making them exactly balance, so that the first 
is " according to " the last. Not, mind you, according 
to anything that is in us, but according to God's in- 
finite mercy and fatherly care for his children. He 
now quotes his text once more : " Blessed be the God 
and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, which, according 
to His abundant mercv, hath begotten us a^ain unto a 
lively hope — by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from 
the dead — to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, 
and that fadeth not away," and declares, that if you 
ever find him preaching any other gospel than that of 



132 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

Universalism — set it down that he is either insane or 
dishonest. 

I saw no other way but to accept his conclusions, 
and from that moment it seemed to me that I was in 
a new world, with everything assuming a new aspect. 
There was nothing in my whole life but was entirely 
changed. I saw with new eyes, and understood with 
an enlightened mind. Heaven and earth, and sea and 
skies, were filled with evidences of the unbounded be- 
nevolence of the All-wise Creator. O, how my heart 
did bound. It was the happiest hour of my life. I 
rose on mv feet and shouted it to the great conoTe^a- 
tion, for it was impossible that I should keep from tell- 
ing of it. From that day to this it has been my joy 
and my hope, the inspiration and glory of my being. I 
consider that I owe it to Brother Batch that I am what 
I am to-day, and it is out of my everlasting gratitude 
that I am engaged in writing the life of the man who 
preached that sermon. I recollect once asking him, 
" Do you remember that evening?" "Remember it? 
"Why it was one of the most startling events of my early 
life, and I said to myself, if I never made a convert 
before, I have made one now." There are thousands I 
doubt not in this land, and in other lands, that are 
under like obligation to Brother Balch. I should not 
dare even attempt to estimate the immense amount of 
good he has been instrumental in accomplishing, in 
opening the blind eyes, and turning men from darkness 
to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. I 
deem that man most noble of all, and as having placed 
himself in the high role of honor, who is trying to set 
good examples, and do good, and who is leading men 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 133 

into the light of truth, and the love and practice of 
virtue. 

It was in November, 1811, that Brother Balch went 
from Providence to New York, and here again he was 
greatly respected, being acknowledged as one of the 
first preachers, and standing as high, and sought after 
as much, to assist in every good cause, as any minister 
in the city. He was a felt presence in all that great 
metropolis. Dr. Bolles, one of New York's most emi- 
nent preachers at present, writes me : "Mr. Balch was 
a power in this city, and the affection with which he is 
remembered by old friends finds no diminution to this 
day. His ministr} 1 - was a great success." One of his 
successors in the ministry, settled over his society after 
twenty odd years, says : " I followed him in the 
Bleeker Street Church, and found that he had done 
good service, made many true and lasting friends, and 
left an influence in favor of liberal Christianit} T which 
can never be exhausted." Still another, and a woman 
this time, wants to tell us, that i while in JSTew York 
he worked hard for the cause of religion, and was a 
friend of the poor, and held in greatest esteem by 
every one. He seemed like a father to us all." The 
Bleeker Street Church became at once very prosperous 
upon his going there. They were not only highly 
pleased with him as preacher, but as pastor as well, and 
his general popularity was such as to frequently fill 
their large church to overflowing. He may be 
said to have always drawn large and interested 
conoTeo-ations. Dr. Sawver gives us an illustra- 
tion of his popularity in the portion of New York 
where his church was located: 



134 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

" He was engaged to deliver a temperance address 
in one of the orthodox churches in the neighborhood, 
but had advised the person having charge of the meet- 
ing that he had a wedding to attend, and could not be 
present till late, and he must keep the audience patient. 
When he reached the church it was packed, and the 
manager was waiting at the door for him. The moment 
he discovered him he seized and pulled him through the 

crowd, remarking, with an oath, ' G , Balch, you 

draw like a blister.' " 

"If the parents of Brother Balch," as is told us by 
the before-mentioned Judge Adams, " were always kept 
in humble circumstances, yet what they despaired of 
for themselves they hoped for their children. And 
when the favored son packed his scanty wardrobe and 
went out from the old homestead to try his hand in the 
great world, neither the father nor mother thought that 
the world had anything too good for him, and they 
always believed that the world's best was entirely pos- 
sible to him. I imagine," he continues, " that when 
the report came to the old Balch homestead that young 
William was making his mark as a preacher in New 
York City, among the ablest divines of the country, the 
fond father and mother thought that it was a mere 
matter of course. Had ever a young man gone to New 
York with a truer purpose, a warmer zeal, or a grander 
conception of human destiny ? It is true he did not 
carry to the city any extensive learning of the schools. 
No Yale or Harvard had accredited him with its di- 
ploma. But it is not probable that either William the 
son or Joel the father wasted any regrets over that 
matter. The young preacher carried the learning of 
the heart, and those graces of speech which are born 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 135 

not of the schools of rhetoric, but of the heartfelt devo- 
tion to all that is noble and good." 

It was while here in New York that a great change 
came to him, in the death of the wife of his early choice, 
who. as a prudent housekeeper, and in the faithful dis- 
charge of her responsible family duties, filled a large 
place in his home. 

~ vr -K- vr •* X * 

In leaving New York it was to part with a great 
many friends, and a good strong society, in order that 
he might retire to a long desired quiet of a rural home 
near his native place. But here he worked harder if 
anything than ever before, for he was literally all over 
the State of Vermont preaching and lecturing. " For 
seven years," he tells us " calls were more frequent and 
numerous, labors more pressing, opportunities for rest 
and study far less." So far as work was concerned, it 
was as here stated in every place in which Brother 
Balch was ever settled. There was never any rest for 
him as long as he lived. 

Let an old friend from among his parishioners at 
this period speak of him, who says that " he knew him 
for thirty years. 

"And knew him but to love him, 
And named him but to praise." 

He tells us that during his residence in Ludlow he 
"took a great interest in temperance and all public 
improvements, especially the public schools, and that it 
was largely through his instrumentality that the graded 
school system was established there; that he represented 
the town in the Legislature two terms, and was a very 



136 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

efficient member, but was too honest in his own convic- 
tions of right and wrong to be very popular among 
that class of men who usually control such bodies. I 
thought of him as finding always the better and ten- 
derer side of human nature, and seeing something to 
admire in the rough, uncultivated man whom many 
would pass by unheeded. " Brother Balch," he contin- 
ues, " was greatly beloved by all classes of citizens, and 
sorely missed when he left us. His ministry was a 
benediction, and his memory will long be cherished by 
generations to come. I cannot find words to do jus- 
tice to the memory of such a man, and so gifted a 
preacher, who was such a true and sincere friend, and 
whose life has been such a worthy example for us all to 
follow." In the reception given to Brother Balch in 
honor of the eightieth anniversary of his birth, there 
came a communication that "In the esteem of the peo- 
ple of Ludlow parish, none has a warmer place in our 
hearts, and none a warmer welcome in our homes to- 
day, than Brother William S. Balch. Our best wishes 
are with him." 

* •* vr * vr ■& 

It was now,after leaving Ludlow in 1865,that Brother 
Balch came West. He had long entertained the idea 
of removing to this western country, and talked about 
it from quite an early period in his ministry, so that 
Dr. Thayer got off the following hit upon him : 

Man never is, but always to be blest, 
Balch never goes, but is always going West. 

Mr. Balch's most intimate companion, J. C. Have- 
meyer, of New York City, tells of his being very fond 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 137 

of travel, and that he accompanied him with others 
on a journey to Hennepin, 111., in 1842 or 1813, when 
thirteen constituted their party. He says. ; * When on 
our way through the lakes to Chicago, he preached on 
a Sunday morning to the first-class passengers on the 
upper deck of the steamer ; and in the afternoon to 
the second-class, or the emigrant passengers on the 
main deck, much to their delight, and showed himself 
to be one of them." He had a sister and family livino- 
in Galesburg, and here he spent five years of his min- 
istry, from 1S65 to IS TO, in full charge of a society, 
with much outside labor, during which time 124 per- 
sons connected themselves with the church. One per- 
son writing me from there, says, ''I do not think that 
any too much can be said of him as a model pastor for a 
society. As a neighbor and friend, as also a preacher, I 
am sure that I have never known his equal." He at- 
tached himself very closely to the students of Lom- 
bard, and gave them greatest pleasure by his inter- 
esting and instructive manner of lecturing and preach- 
ing. He was, moreover, of important service to any 
who were seeking the ministry as a profession. 

From here he again retired to a nice, quiet home, 
with good friends, in Hinsdale, near Chicago, preach- 
ing and working as before ; settled as he supposed per- 
manently and for life. But an urgent demand was 
laid upon him to remove to Elgin, where any amount 
of work needed to be done. It was here that his home 
was kept, and his last days mostly spent, prepared for 
quiet and comfort in his declining years. He succeeded 
the writer of this in IS 71. and for nearly six years re- 
mained pastor of the society, greatly beloved till the 



138 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

Eev. Mr. Boynton came, when he again thought to re- 
tire, with a visit planned for himself and wife to Cali- 
fornia. 

It was at this time that Dubuque. Iowa, had lost 
their preacher (he going out from among us) and they 
desired that Brother Balch might come and supply a 
Sunday for them, and he accordingly went. Out of 
this grew another three years' ministry, with no less 
good effects than in previous fields. He retired from 
his labors there with just as cordial friends as any one 
needed to have. He was able to count on many warm 
admirers in that church, who were ready to speak of 
him as one who was known only to be greatly loved 
and honored as a faithful friend and pastor. Indeed 
he always made friends wherever he went, for he was 
pre-eminently a friend of the people, and a friend of 
everybody. This was his last pastorate, from 1S77 to 
1880, at the expiration of which time he returned to 
Elgin to remain (with the exception of visits made from 
his home and travels abroad) till the time of his death. 
Here he preached more or less during a period in which 
they were without a regular pastor, and officiated at 
funerals and weddings up to the last. 

I will give but few words in this connection, of how 
his life was regarded in Elgin, reserving what farther I 
may say till I shall come to the chapter on " Home 
Life and Varied Employments." My first words 
are from the nearest neighbor Mr. Balch had during 
all the years he kept his home in that city. He says : 

" I have lived a near neighbor to Mr. Balch for the 
past fifteen years, and cannot speak too highly of my 
esteemed friend. He was a true man. His aim in life 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 139 

was to do good. He was an excellent neighbor, and 
as true and noble a friend as I care to have. He was 
especially a friend of the poor, an advocate of temper- 
ance in all things, and always interested in every 
good work tending toward benefiting mankind. Such 
in brief is the man I delight to honor, and when such 
a man is taken from us we deeply feel our loss." 

Another testimonial from a close neighbor (Judge 
Wilcox) is the following: 

" Brother Balch was endowed with great intellectual 
ability, yet he was plain and unpretending, free from 
ministerial airs, faithful to duty, honest, exemplary, un- 
selfish, and ready to aid in every good work. His clear 
exposition of Christ's teachings (with which he was 
wonderfully familiar; and kind words, have brought 
peace to many troubled souls. Measured by the benefi- 
cent and far-reaching effects of his labors and exam- 
ple as a preacher, he is justly entitled, I think, to rank 
as a good and great man, and by his death the TJniver- 
salist denomination looses one of its most successful, 
useful and noble ministers. He was certainly a manly 
man. for he had the heart of a true man in him." 

I cannot forego the chronicling of words so preg- 
nant with meaning as the following, by Judge Kan- 
stead, making a triplet of names, which might be much 
added to if space did not forbid. He says : 

" Mr. Balch was a neighbor, and intimate friend of 
mine for many years, and I knew him well. He im- 
pressed me as being one of the ablest and strongest men 
mentally I ever met. -. Yet he was very simple in his 
character, and adapted himself readily to all kinds of 
societv. and recognized men of all callings and creeds as 
brothers. He was a positive man, with strong convic- 
tions and expressed his sentiments fearlessly, and still 
was charitable, forgiving and kind. To those who 
knew him, it is needless to add that he was eminentlv 



140 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

a good man. He carried his religion into his daily in- 
tercourse with men, and lived up to the standard of" his 
preaching, which I always deemed first class. I think 
it may be said of him, as I have often heard him say of 
the Great Master, " He went about doing good." 



It has been objected sometimes that Mr. Balch 
preached long sermons of a rambling character, and 
that his labors in being spread out over a broad field 
did not tell effectually for organization. But I doubt 
if it will be claimed that he did not work heartily and 
untiringly with his brethern, in all general methods 
for promoting the cause of our Zion. He took the 
greatest interest in the progress of the faith always. 
His whole life was devoted to this one thing, he seeing 
his way clearly, and never running into any of the 
multiplied vagaries of his time. It should be told 
that he was very active in helping to organize the 
United States Convention of Universalists, and that 
while Father Ballou, Brother Streeter, Whittemore and 
others, uttered warnings against usurpations of power, 
the claiming of authority over others, and the clanger 
of becoming sectarian, he fully believed in an organ- 
ization that should be wisely adapted to the end of the 
denominational existence, and to a general statement 
of the leading and distinguishing features of our faith, 
looking to the law of growth, but not to an inflexible 
creed, answering to all time, and articles of belief so 
numerous and specific, that no variety of opinion could 
be tolerated. 

There is no depreciating the work Mr. Balch did 
for our cause, assisting to organize societies, and helping 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 1-Jrl 

to plan churches, and train ministers for the service, 
almost equal to any minister in the denomination. His 
was the freest form of religious organization, with 
nothing of ecclesiastical tyranny. He believed in an 
organization well equipped for doing all right things; 
just as he believed in the church, that we might give 
and receive assistance, and by combined effort better 
do the work which the Master requires at our hands. 
Of course there is wisdom in having some kind of work- 
ing plan for doing everything that is sought to be done. 
AVho does not see the reasonableness of what another 
has said, that, " Our work is to make Christians, and to 
make churches ; to multiply our ministry in numbers and 
effectiveness; to cany our glorious faith to multitudes 
who are losing faith all for the want of it; to mass and 
drill our forces, and to march boldly forward in all the 
socialities, moralities, reforms and philanthropies." 

It is to be understood, however, that the more spiritual 
religion may not reveal itself chiefly in conferences and 
conventicles, and corporations ; worshiping God neither 
at Jerusalem or Gerizim, but in spirit and in truth, and 
in the beauty of holiness. And its progress is not 
always to be determined by ceremonials, and statistical 
tables. It is a kingdom that cometh not so much 
by observation, and may be felt more in being seen less. 
It has been said truly that "It is to the dissemination 
of just ideas, and to the bringing of men into true life, 
that we are to look for the evidence of real service on 
the part of any form of religion that claims the atten- 
tion of the world." Great good is done in scattering 
the seed of the kingdom in numberless hearts, even 

though the instrument or means for propagating itself 
10 



142 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

is not seized hold of and prosecuted with vigor. It is 

so that the hymn runs: 

Sowing the seed by the wayside high, 
Sowing the seed on the rocks to die, 
Sowing the seed where the thorns will spoil, 
Sowing the seed in the fertile soil. 

It was the silent leavening that the great-souled 
Chapin wrought, as did the Master, in tempering the 
hearts and passions of men, and achieving unspeakable 
victories over individual sin and sorrow. It is 
Chapin himself who reminds us that " Jesus wrote no 
huge volumes, nor framed any specific laws; but love, 
mercy, compassion, tenderness, sympathy, good will to 
men: He kindly taught these to the world, sowed 
them, precious seed, in the few hearts that would re- 
ceive them, and calmly went His way — His way of 
healing and blessing." And in this he made a defense 
of his own course. Brother Balch's ministry was of a 
missionary character. He rambled in sermon, and 
travel, and went everywhere, over State and Nation, 
scattering the seed, and waiting patiently, but hope- 
fully, for the harvest to spring and grow. Nor did he 
deal in commonplace matters, and glittering general- 
ities, as if attempting to cover the whole sphere of duty 
in every sermon, and regenerate society at large, but 
always had some definite practical aim, as when a great 
many years ago " The Divine Bevelation of Nature " as 
it was called, was producing a good deal of a sensation 
in the community, and he was to give the charge at 
the ordination of Brother Biddle. He did it after this 
fashion : "I charge } T ou to preach Jesus Christ, and 
Him crucified, and not Andrew Jackson Davis, and 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 143 

him mesmerized.'' It is true that Dr. Sawyer writes 
me that he "used to compare him to a shot-gun which, 
as it scattered broadly, was, therefore, pretty sure to hit 
somewhere, while a rifle, unless very skillfully directed, 
was almost sure to fail." 

I once heard Brother Balch tell this same story (I 
think it must have been), though somewhat changed, up- 
on himself. As it has been written out by another hand, 
I may allow him to give it in his own manner of relating 
it: He said, a father and son once went out hunting and. 
came to tree in which was a squirrel ; whereupon the 
son said, " Give me the gun and I will bring him down." 
The young man took long and steady aim, but somehow 
the squirrel remained in the tree, and did not come 
down, when the father said to the son, "Here; you let 
me have that gun ; you are no good at a shot." So 
the father took the gun, but being afflicted with 
shaking palsy it was difficult to follow the weapon 
with the eye, so violent were its gyrations. However, 
the discharge was effected, and down came the uncon- 
scious rodent. " There," said the victorious parent, "when 
you want any shooting done you can call on me." " No 
wonder you killed the squirrel," replied the young man, 
"for when anybody takes aim at a whole tree at once, 
if there is anything there it has got to come down." 
And so concluded Brother Balch, whenever I preach or 
lecture, or do anything else, I take aim all over, and if 
there is any game anywhere about I expect to hit it. 
And the fact is he generally did hit it. Now this we 
may consider his own answer to his being diffusive and 
rambling, and not always connected in his ideas. His 
was not a fragmentary gospel, and he had preached it 



ltW: THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

till it became so important in his mind that he wished 
to get the whole of it into every sermon, for he did not 
like to do things by the halves, and this made his 
sermons frequently long. And then, too, he went upon 
the principal of " line upon line, precept upon precept, 
here a little, and there a good deal.'" 

Of course his sermons were oftentimes purposely 
long. But I wonder if he is the only man that ever 
did such a thing as preach long sermons, and if we 
who do this are sinners above all those who dwell at 
Jerusalem. Why, I never knew that there was any 
particular length for a sermon. I have listened to ser- 
mons that it seemed to me that they were very long at 
ten minutes, and then I have listened to sermons that 
were short at two hours. There is an old adage that 
says " Circumstances alter cases."' It is said of the 
apostle Paul, that on one occasion he continued his 
preaching till midnight, "and a certain young man 
seated in a window sank down in a deep sleep and fell 
from the third loft, and was taken up dead." It depends 
very much on the question how important the subject 
is that is beino- treated at the time, and who is treating 
it. In Brother Balch's generally interesting and rest- 
ful manner I have known him to preach well on to 
two hours, and his audience reluctant to have him 
stop at that. I saw him try it once, however, when 
but for three or four large persons having been crowded 
into one seat which was never meant to hold more than 
four common persons, he might have got along well 
enough, but he preached a whole hour that time, with 
the house very warm and closely packed ; and when 
I supposed that he was right at the point of saying 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 1^5 

amen, he struck off on to a new lead and talked half 
an hour (which to be sure was a fit illustration of what 
he had been saying before), but as he stepped down out 
of the pulpit into the main aisle a friend chanced to 
remark to him that his sermon was long, or he preached 
a good while. " Yes," he remarked, " he got upon the 
everlasting gospel," when a second remarked " I thought 
as much." This seemed to trouble him a little, for he 
hardly expected the first remark to be followed up 
with a second, which should drive the matter home so 
close upon him. So when he arrived at the house of 
this last lady with whom he was to remain over night, 
he had to tell a story to take off the point of her re- 
mark, which was a famous way he had of doing some- 
times. His story was of the preacher in earlier times, 
when the custom was to treat sermons under a great 
number of heads, and as he came to his eighteenthly, 
and chanced to use the expression, " \Vhat shall I say 
next \ " some one in the congregation cried out, ;; For 
God's sake say amen." 

Another story which he told, was of an intemperate 
man, who, coming home in the evening in a state of in- 
toxication, thought it necessary that they have prayers 
(as their custom was) before retiring, and standing up 
at the back of a chair to sustain himself, he notwith- 
standing fell upon the floor right in the midst of his 
prayer, and looking up very tenderly into the face of 
his wife, inquired of her % * If it hurt her," and she an- 
swering that it did not, and desiring to know if it hurt 
him, he replied : " Xo, but it was a terrible clap." 
Brother Balch said his sermon " was a terrible clap, 
but it did not hurt anybody." I once knew a minister 



146 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

to hurry up a funeral sermon beyond any decent pro- 
priety, because he was anxious to go a fishing with 
some young friends. I would think that too short a 
sermon. And it seems to me that a sermon is as often 
made long b}^ the fault of the hearer as by the preacher. 
There are a great many things in these days that take 
people's attention ; the dinner is waiting, or there is 
something else it is thought, needs to be done very 
much. I knew something like this once to change the 
location of a church from where it was first voted to 
have it. It so happened that there was a card party 
on hand the same evening the church was to be located, 
and two or three were in haste to get home to join in 
the a'ame. In their haste to leave as soon as the vote 
was declared, it was supposed that they were offended 
at what had been done ; that they wanted the church 
which had been burned down located on the old 
site, which was very much nearer the dwelling of these 
two or three, and thereupon the vote was reconsidered, 
and the house located where it was first decided not to 
locate it. The feelings of an audience is not always 
the standard forjudging the length of a sermon. 



No adequate conception of the character of Brother 
Balch as a preacher is had, without considering him in 
the sphere of a natural-born pulpit orator. He Avas 
possessed of most shining and brilliant qualities, and 
had the flash and sparkle of ideas, and a very superior 
quality of voice — clear, rich, mellow, musical — which, 
with his natural enthusiasm and earnestness of manner, 
not only gave a fine effect, but stirred and thrilled his 



KEV. WILLIAM BTEVEKB BALCH. 147 

auditors to the highest pitch of fervent feeling and 
rapturous delight. People delight to tell of the music 
of his voice, and how in the pulpit, while he plead for 
truth and goodness, he seemed transfigured with the 
soul of true eloquence. A great attractiveness of his 
manner as a speaker lay in his agreeable intonations, 
and in the deep, spiritual expression of his voice. And 
this, connected with the peculiar simplicity and beauty 
in which his thoughts rose and clothed themselves in 
words, established a perfect communion between him and 
his hearers. His ideas took graceful and engaging form, 
and there was nothing he wrote but possessed a peculiar 
charm which was certain to secure for it attention. It 
was because of this that the minds of the people were 
ever plastic under his hand, and he could mold them 
for the time being to almost any shape required. 
They would hang on his glowing speech for hours, 
and as he sat down there would be nothing but 
praises, and this not only in his palmiest days, for he 
was " The old man eloquent. r He was conspicuous in 
any gathering as soon as he rose to speak. You might 
announce him to address the people from any platform 
of our ministers, and each should have been heard for 
a score of times, and he would not suffer in the number 
that would flock to hear him. There was nothing more 
engaging and impressive than his reading of a favorite 
hymn, and he would do it with such rare felicity and 
power, that it would seem equal in pathos to many an 
unctious sermon preached from our pulpits. 

Perhaps I should make a distinction here between 
eloquence and oratory, for I recognize a difference. 
An orator, it has been said, is one who makes a some- 



lttS THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

what elaborate speech, and particularly an eloquent 
public speaker who stirs men by his bursts of utter- 
ance, whereas eloquence is the art of clothing thought 
in an earnest, fluent manner (it may be quiet and rest- 
ful), which makes it effective with the hearer. Some- 
body has described eloquence as " the utterance of great 
truths, so clearly discerned, so deeply felt, so bright and 
so burning, that they can not be withheld, and that 
they create for themselves a style and manner which 
carry them far into other souls." It is this same 
thought that the poet has expressed in the lines which 
follow : 

Eloquence is the deep, impassioned fervor 

Of a mind deep fraught with native energy, 

When soul and sense burst forth embodied 

In the burning thought; 

When look, emotion, tone, are all combined; 

When the whole man is eloquent with mind; 

A power that comes not at the call or 

Quest of vice, or of ignoble birth, 

But from the gifted soul, and the deep-feeling breast. 

The Saviour was most impressive and persuasive in 
address. He spoke with a commanding power of au- 
thority — "spake as never man spake" — and yet I do 
not know that ever any one thought to call Him an 
orator. A person might be eloquent in common con- 
versation, but it would never be said of such an one that 
he was an orator. The Christian Union seems to me 
to have rightly distinguished in what it has recently 
said, that " an art which rises by natural climax out of 
the conversational mood into lyric earnestness and 
beauty is superior to the more stately and ornate 
model which so often passes for eloquence." 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 149* 

And I will say that I have beard Mr. Balch when 
be would be speaking in the most natural, easy manner,, 
and he would commence to warm up, and would rise 
higher and higher in the pathos of his subject, till it 
seemed as if he was perfectly inspired, and his audience- 
would rise and cling to him, till thev were obliged to 
stop and catch their breaths. I claim nothing for him 
of studied oratory as in the schools, but for real, fervid,. 
pulpit eloquence, I can not think him excelled by any 
other person I ever listened to. Persons may smile at 
what I am saying, but I must be allowed my own opin- 
ion, and I speak as my heart prompts, and do not hesi- 
tate to say, that no one has ever moved me more than 
he, when in his best moods words of kindling energy 
have poured forth from his lips like a mountain torrent, 
swaying the hearts of his hearers like a mighty rushing 
wind. 

And I am not alone in what I am saying. People- 
tell me of having heard others speak who were called 
the world's greatest orators, but have never felt the 
power of eloquence as sometimes at the speaking of Mr. 
Balch. Dr. Emerson says: " I first heard him speak 
nearly fifty years ago, at the Akron United States- 
Convention, when my youthful ears got the secret of 
his success. He was in look, bearing and manner every 
inch the orator." A person hearing him in Chester, 
Vt., in 1870, on the occasion of his visiting that place, 
says, " I would be glad to give a synopsis of this brill- 
iant discourse, for I have never listened to anything- 
delivered from any pulpit in the town that would equal 
in eloquence, in lofty sentiment, pure logic, and scho- 
lastic ability, what I heard Sundav evening, and I be- 



150 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

lieve all who were so fortunate as to be present would 
fully endorse my statement. He is unquestionably one 
of the ripest and most gifted orators of modern days." 
Permit me to quote once more and this time from 
the Vermont Standard, published at Woodstock, that 
State. The editor is speaking, and he says : 

"Mr. Balch was a native of the adjoining town of An- 
dover, and always made it a point to visit his old acquain- 
tances, and what few distant relatives lived there, when- 
ever he came to Vermont. On such occasions he never 
failed to preach, and such preaching (as we venture to 
say) will never be heard again in that rock-bound town 
to the very end of time. As an extemporaneous speak- 
er, but few, if any, could excel him. He always 
appeared humble and wholly devoid of pride, and in 
the devotional part of pulpit exercises (if such are 
proper subjects of comment) we think no person on 
•earth could be happier. It was truly a benediction to 
listen to his soul-satisfying orisons. It was our privi- 
lege to be present on the occasion of one of these visits, 
not very long after he had buried his first companion, 
.and vividly recalling the fact that not a few of his 
former associates had also gone up higher, he was sen- 
sibly affected , but not to the extent of hindering the 
richest flow of subdued eloquence we ever listened to, 
•either before or since that time. This is saying very 
much, as Ave are well aware, for we have heard about 
as gifted, and eloquent pulpit orators as this country 
has produced, but we cannot alter our estimate not- 
withstanding all this.'' 

Brother Balch never could preach a written sermon 
in what we would call a half decent way, for he wanted 
to be allowed to go off in those flights occasionally 
that would raise you right off your feet, and he felt 
hampered, much as if you had him pinioned in a 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS LALCH. 151 

straight-jacket. And I think this accounts for the 
reason of his being sought after to go in every direc- 
tion, and preach and lecture, and attend funerals and 
weddings in greatest number. He may be said to have 
gone almost everywhere, preaching in school-houses, 
churches, hails and dwellings : in barns and groves and 
fields: on the sea and on the land; wherever people 
could be gathered to hear the word, and be benefited 
and blessed with the great salvation, ever " ready to give 
a reason for the hope that was in him, with meekness 
and fear." 

It fell to him to officiate at a great number of 
funerals, and his consoling words on all such occasions 
have done not a little in bringing him nearer to the 
hearts of many persons. It is worthy of mention his 
being called on one occasion where the husband had 
committed the dreadful deed of violently killing his wife 
and then taking his own life. He left his home with 
no knowledge of the circumstances being related to 
him. and proceeded on his way till. Hearing the place 
where the funeral was to be attended, the full particu- 
lars of the strange event were narrated. He had no 
time left for any careful preparation to meet the great 
responsibility that was so suddenly thrust upon him. 

As he reached the house a large concourse of horri- 
fied people, of all persuasions had gathered, watching, 
and wondering what disposition was to be made of a 
case like the one in hand. How was the minister to 
get along successfully this time without meeting with 
a terrible discomfiture of his creed ( The calmest one 
of them all was Mr. Baich. for he knew in whom was his 
trust. He selected for his text the tenth chapter of Jer- 



153 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

emiah, and the last c . the twenty-third verse. " It 

is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." We are 
left to imagine in part what the discourse was from what 
it naturally would be from such a text, and such a 
preacher as we have known him to be. Suffice it to 
say, lie told them what a weak and fallible creature 
man was. that there never had been but the one perfect- 
one, and how we often had to wonder why our lot has 
been, to 1 >e led in such ways as we are led: that the sins 
we all of us actually commit are of a character to de- 
mand the utmost of compassion from our fellow-men 
as well as from Him who is the God of infinite purity 
and perfection. He instanced Paul in his great sin of 
breathing out threatening and slaughter against the 
Christians, compelling them to blaspheme, and when 
they were put to death giving his voice against them, 
and how little lie had to do with the being arrested in 
his course. Were it not for the underlying providence 
of Him whose thoughts of kindness toward us are in- 
finite, we do not know into what dark paths we might 
wander. It is God's infinite mercy that is holding us, 
as it were, every one of us. in the hollow of His hand. 
and but for it what wretched creatures we all should 
be. It was true that many of the ways of Providence 
were dark and mysterious to us. and the heart grew 
weary at times over these vexed problems of life, but 
it would seem by reflecting upon the indulgence we de- 
sire for our own short-comings we might refrain from 
judging others of our brethren too severely: for was it 
not enough that all the innocence and peace of the vi- 
cious had fled, without their being obliged to endure the 
rough censure of those who shared a happier fate '( 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVEN- BAD II. 153 

Why should we not allow our own desires for ourselves 
to measure to others the debt of love that is due them. 
Could we not well afford, in our own short-sighted un- 
derstandings, to leave those who go from us, in the 
hands of God, in the assurance that He is competent to 
take care of them, that each going to his proper place, 
the place that heaven has designed for him, he goes 
to the best place there is for him '. And shall we not rest 
in the confidence, that 

Blind unbelief is sure to err, 

And scan his work in vain; 
God is His own interpreter, 

And He will make it plain. 

It was evident, that when that large audience re- 
turned to their homes they found nothing to cavil 
about. The preacher had won upon the hearts of all, 
and spoken words that every one felt to respond to. 

And so it was always with him. People were 
greatly interested in his matter and manner. They 
would go greatest distances to hear him preach one of 
his commonest sermons, and no one ever heard him 
once but they were anxious to hear him again and 
again. They have said to us, that he was the most in- 
structive preacher that ever they heard ; that he was 
always saying something that made it profitable to lis- 
ten to him, and they did it with the heartiest delight. 
They will tell you of having met him only once or 
twice in their lives, and how they were impressed with 
his wonderful gifts, and the almost exhaustless fount- 
ains from which he drew to instruct, and gladden and 
comfort his auditors. He came to be so widely known 
at last that he could scarcelv go anywhere but he was 



151 KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 

warmly greeted. It would be impossible to recall the 
number of times when traveling on cars, and mention- 
ing Elgin, the question would be asked me, "Do you 
know Brother Balch? He married me, or he attended 
the funeral of some member of my family, or my 
father's family." And when I would tell them my long 
acquaintance, and intimate relations with him, it would 
be to make answer, " Well, do please give him my best 
regards." Everywhere it has been our lot to go since 
entering the Universalist fellowship, eyes have bright- 
ened and countenances have lighted up at the mention 
of his name. Surely, a faithful, unselfish ministry has 
its compensations. 

Well, Brother Balch has gone, and has 'done his 
preaching here on the earth. His last sermon was 
preached in Galesburg, 111., on the 25th of September, 
1887, where he went to attend the wedding of his 
grand-niece the Thursday before. He was ever faith- 
ful as a minister, and could say, as he laid off the har- 
ness (only as he never did lay it off), " I have finished 
my course with joy, and the ministry I have received 
of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of 
God. I am now ready to be offered, and the time of 
my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight ; 
I have finished my course ; I have kept the faith ; hence- 
forth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness," 
conferring upon him the undying honors of the Chris- 
tian name; enabling him to live in the affections of all 
good people, with a halo of glory that shall encircle his 
fame as long as any memory of our cause shall exist or 
any wholesome, helpful thing shall be done. 



CHAPTER IX. 



SOCIAL AND SYMPATHETIC QUALITIES AS A PASTOR. 

MR. BALCH was of a wonderfully social nature, 
and always entertaining in conversation. He 
would in the shortest time attract attention, and gather 
around him those who were delighted with his instruc- 
tive communications and charming address. His ready 
talent made him conspicuous in any community, while his 
modest simple manner, so earnest and sincere, won our 
hearts at once, and we felt drawn to him with an unusual 
degree of affection and the kindest confidence. Beino- 
in his social relations without reproach, respected, 
beloved and honored by all who knew him, without 
the least effort on his part, or thought of becoming so, 
he could not help being the center of any circle in 
which he moved. Amiable in his intercourse with his 
fellow men; respectful of the rights and feelings of 
others, and attentive to all who had claims upon him, 
he stood high as neighbor, citizen, friend and brother; 
and no one shared in a larger happiness of friends and 
friendships than did he. None could boast a closer 
attachment to his kind, and yet he employed no arts 
for winning their friendship. He always made friends 
wherever he went, for he could be counted as anions 
the foremost helpers of the world's joys. There was 

155 



156 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

right-heartedness and kindliness of feeling, which served 
as links of affection and made him regardful of the 
necessities of friends and foes. He was large-minded, 
generous and liberal, and believed that pure spiritual 
friendship. Christian love, was the essential to make 
.society what it should be, as desirable and as happy. 
It did seem as though he was loving towards every one ; 
and sympathy was about the first and last thing in his 
character. 

There are those who love themselves so inordinately 
that they have but little regard for those about them ; 
but the whole lead of Brother Baleh's religion was in 
the direction of humanity, for he could not understand 
how he who "loveth not his brother whom he hath 
seen, could love God whom he hath not seen." There 
was thoughtfulness and kind consideration, which 
made him throw himself heart and soul into the work 
of instructing, consoling and relieving his fellow creat- 
ures of eveiy earthly woe, exerting his utmost effort 
to help them in all ways, socially, morally and spirit- 
ually. All duty with him implied a practical goodness 
on his part, the neglect of which could not be atoned 
for by any mere excess of feeling, or show of zeal, or 
strictness of formal observance, that did not tend to 
that result; that did not go to increase the sum of bless- 
ing, virtue and happiness in the world. It was to him 
a joy unspeakable to be found among his fellow men, 
making efforts to reclaim them from their vices ; to 
alleviate as much as possible their sufferings and their 
sorrows; to enlighten their ignorance, and to raise 
them up to a virtuous, a holy and happy condition. 
Whether it be strictly true or not (as some one has 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 157 

remarked) that to be saints we must live among saints, 
Brother Balch believed it to be true, that to .be men, 
fully developed, whole Christian men, we must live 
among men — and there was no good cause engaged in 
for the furtherance and promotion of truth and right- 
eousness and human happiness in the earth but met 
with his ready and hearty sympathy, and if anything 
was to be clone, his hearty co-operation. Oh, to have 
a heart full of love to kindred humanity; to feel for it 
in its lowest estate; to bend in sympathy with the op- 
pressed, the meanest and humblest child of sorrow; to 
have a mind eager always to think right concerning 
the unfortunate of our fellowmen; and a brothers hand 
to stretch out in mercy, ever ready and desirous to 
labor for the ignorant and degraded, the suffering and 
the lost; is a great thing. It constitutes the only true 
greatness of humanity, and the almost unexampled 
glory of Christianity. And Brother Balch had this 
heart in him to sympathize with all suffering ones ; to 
weep with those that weep, and to rejoice with those 
that rejoice. 

We too of cen narrow down our sympathies to a cer- 
tain small set of exclusive ideas, but he had a large con- 
geniality witheveiy class of minds,to enroll them within 
his Sympathies, as though born with him, under the 
same roof, and never thought he was losing an immacu- 
late reputation for character, by practicing the gospel 
of brotherhood. 

We do not think of it enough, that Christianity 

seeks to establish such a principle of goodness in every 

individual heart that it shall be ever ready, impelled 

from no motives from without, but only by the work- 

11 



15S THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

ings of a true, loving nature, to seize all the opportu- 
nities for doing good that offer themselves daily and 
hourly in the experience of every human being. You 
may think this not a very important matter, but 
human happiness is an aggregate of little satisfactions 
and enjoyments, and the good which we can do each 
other is the sum of numberless little attentions and 
kind offices, which for the very reason that they are 
small and common, and frequently called for in the 
familiar intercourse of life, are likely to be omitted. 
But let no one say that he cannot speak some kind word, 
or perform some kind act, which shall find an entrance 
into the comfortless heart, and bless him that gives, 
and him that takes. lie can, if he will, and he certainly 
will, if he shall reflect but for a moment on God's 
great purpose in sending him into the world. 

Being; of a warm social nature, Brother Balch took 
this practical view of things, regarding everything with 
reference to its uses; to the more sensible and whole- 
some purposes of life. And Christianity found his heart 
chiefly, as it gave energy and direction to those princi- 
ples and affections which render us useful men and 
women, sincere friends, earnestly devoted to each 
other's welfare. 

Many a man goes through the world giving scarcelv 
one bright, cheerful, encouraging word, taking no pains 
to lighten the burdens of any soul, but he sought to 
enter into relations of love and good-will with every 
one, and it gave him a cheerful welcome in all society. 
It was his constant wonder that there should be those 
to take so little interest in that which promises to be 
of service to the race, and neglect the calls of humanity 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 159 

in laboring for the good of their fellow-men. He could 
not see how they could behold all the terrible evils that 
bind down and destroy the souls and bodies of our kin- 
dred, and yet remain indifferent, their hearts unimpressed 
and they unconscious of the spirit by which they are 
made to feel it their dutv to strive for the blessing of 
their brethren and their kindred. "We think of him 
with sympaties so true and responsive, with helpfulness 
so great and charity so broad that we will not allow 
any other to hold a deeper place in our heart of hearts. 
His presence was a blessed benediction, and his wel- 
come tread was ever heard Avhere was darkest grief and 
ano-uish. Distress never failed to find an answering 
voice in his heart. AVoe enlisted all his feelings, and 
he ever delighted to assuage human grief. He hushed 
the sigh of despair in the bosoms of the sorrowful, and 
gave unto them " beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for 
mourning, and the garments of praise for the spirit of 
heaviness." He was ever sought after both far and 
near in that supremest moment when life had become 
extinct, or when it was found hanging by a slender 
thread, showing that the silver cord was to be loosed 
and golden bowl broken. It may be truly said of him 
as was said of that singularly upright personage, given 
us in that partly allegorical story of the life of Job, 
putting words into his own mouth for him to say them, 
" When the ear heard me then it blessed me ; and when 
the eye saw me it gave witness to me, because I deliv- 
ered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him 
that had none to help him. The blessing of him that 
was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the 
widow's heart to sing for joy. I was eyes to the blind, 



160 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the 
poor, and the cause I knew not I searched out." 

The heart of Brother Balch was full of pity be- 
cause he loved, and he loved because underneath all 
that was dark, and strange and dreadful, he saw that 
which was to be loved ; and notwithstanding the mys- 
teries and shadows, the misfortunes and struggles, the 
unrequited toils and bitter tears, that make up so much 
of human life ; there was that which was capable of 
being developed into everlasting good. 

And so it was that the orphan found in him a 
father; the widow and the aged a support, and the 
stranger a hospitable friend. And the afflicted — he 
could speak to them in those affectionate terms that 
temper the bitterness of tears. There are no sufferings 
which s} T mpathy will not soothe. All the sorrows of 
life are dissipated by the rays of fraternal love as the 
frosts of winter are melted by the rising sun of morn. 

We cannot better close this chapter than by intro- 
ducing the very beautiful and appropriate poem of Mrs. 
Caroline A. Soule, tendered on the occasion of the cel- 
ebration of the eightieth anniversary of his birthday ; 
and in which she tells how Mr. Balch came to her home 
shortly after her husband's death, when she knew him 
only by name, and when her heart was so near to break- 
ing that she could not shed a tear ; and what a God- 
send it was to her. The title of it was : 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 161 

A TENDER, REVERENT MEMORY. 



REV. WM. S. BALCH. 1S52 



My life was in its summer time, 

Blossoms over, fruitage rare, 
And all the bells did sweetly chime 

Upon the scented, golden air; 
Bells of bridal, bells of birth, 

Sweetest bells upon the earth, 
And my heart was keeping time, 

To the joy bells' chime ! 

My life was in its summer time, 

Ripest fruit within my hand, 
"When suddenly the bells did chime 

Saddest tones in all the land; 
Tones of sorrow, tones of death, 

Tones that hushed my joyous breath, 
And my heart kept dirge-like time 

To the sad bells' chime ! 

Then quickly came the winter time 

With its storms and snow; 
And all the bells did sadly chime, 

In tones of weary woe: 
Bells of dying, bells of biers, 

Saddest bells to loving ears, 
And my heart was keeping time 

To the death bells' chime ! 

Tears I could not shed, O no, 

All too sudden was the woe ! 
Like a frost in June it fell, 

The wild ringing of that bell ! 
All my life seemed gone and dead, 

Buried in that cold, white bed. 
All my summers seen ed now spent, 

"Why, O why, was death thus sent ? 

To my home a friend then came, 

One I only knew by name ; 
He had loved the one now sleeping, 

And for him was softly weeping ; 
Now he came and sat by me, 

Took my children on his knee, 
"Whispered words that seemed a prayer, 

As they thrilled the saddened air ! 



IQ2 THE LIFE AND LAB0KS 0F 

And from out the winter skies 

Something seemed to fall on me, 
Something touched my burning eyes 

Till the" tears flowed soft and free ; 
O those tears ! They washed away 

The stern sorrow of that day ! 
O those tears ! They made me whole, 

Healed my broken, widowed soul ! 

Still he to the children spoke, 

Words of praise and words of prayer, 
Till the mother in me woke 

And I took the cross of care ; 
Took it with a reverent hand, 

Saddest mother in the land, 
And I said, amidst my tears, 

" They will brighten future years." 

Still he held the children dear, 
Still he spoke in sweet, low tone; 

And from out my heart stole fear, 
And I felt no more alone, 

' ' These my comforts now will be ! 

my Father, I thank Thee 
That I have this cross of care ; 

All I ask is strength to bear; 
Strength to bear all thou dost send, 
Strength to bear unto the end ! " 

Years have come, and years have fled, 
Since I mourned the early dead, 

Since that friend came there to me, 
Took my children on his knee, 

And such words of comfort spoke 
That the mother in me woke, 

That the sorrow grew so still 

1 was strong to do God's will ! 

Precious friend ! In all this land 

Lives no dearer one to me, 
And I give you heart and hand 

In tender^ reverent memory ! 
In memory of the day you came, 

When I only knew your name; 
Came unto my house of woe, 

Came amidst the drifting snow, 
Took my children on your knee, 

Whispered words thatstrenghened me, 
Words of comfort, words of prayer, 

Words that thrilled like music rare ! 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 163 

I see you now. my friend so dear, 

See you 'midst a falling tear, 
Little children on your knee ! 

Sweet, O sweet this memory ! 
It will ever stay with me — 

A tender, reverent memory ! 

That Mrs. Soule could say this of him is no small 
praise. And who shall claim that it was not all mer- 
ited ? 






CHAPTER X. 

SERMONS AND EXTRACTS. 

For so easy and voluminous a writer as Mr. Balch 
it can not be claimed for him that the number of 
his published sermons was great. His thought was 
never to get himself noticed by parading himself or any 
effort of his, before the public, and preaching extempo- 
raneously, with fewer reporters in earlier days, his ser- 
mons were not made ready for the hands of the printer. 
He wrote more as duty seemed to impel, or admonish 
him to do so ; and hence what he wrote was generally 
of a somewhat grave and consequential character. 
Among the most notable of his sermons, are : " Univer- 
salism : Its Rise and Progress in this Country; What 
It Has Done, and Is Doing to Liberalize the World." 
"What Jesus Taught"; "What of the Future Life"; 
" Are there Creeds and Sects in Heaven?" " Forty 
Years in the Ministry"; " The Pastor's Duty"; "Broth- 
erly Admonition." "A Sermon for Professed Chris- 
tians." 

Most of the texts are quite suggestive. " Forty 
Years in the Ministry," the text is, " And thou shalt 
remember all the way which the Lord thy God led 
thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, 
and prove thee ; to know what is in thy heart, whether 
thou wouldst keep his commandments or no." 

164 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS EALCH. 165 

From three or four of them I am selecting the 
most important parts, which is nearly equivalent to 
giving the substance of them. 

The first of the above mentioned, preached before 
the Illinois State Convention in the last years of 70, 
has this text, "Everyone that hath this hope in him 
jwrifieth himself even as lie (Jesus) is pure" He starts 
out with a statement as to what Universalism is: 

"The most distinct and common idea of Universalism 
is a belief in the final salvation of all men. This def- 
inition is correct, if it be understood to include all the 
means by which that most desirable end is to be at- 
tained. 'JNone but those who would purposely mis- 
represent, would for a moment think any reasonable 
men would assert or entertain a thought that such a 
result could be attained without the adequate means 
and methods to produce it. Universalists accept and 
emphatically assert the fact that, " without holiness no 
man shall see the Lord." They know that sin involves 
punishment, and they believe that so long as sin exists 
punishment will, of necessity, be inflicted; that only 
where" sin is finished, transgression ended and ever- 
lasting righteousness brought in " will sin and sorrow 
cease and the world be saved. They believe God de- 
sired, purposed, planned, willed such a result, and sanc- 
tified and sent his Son into the world not to condemn 
it, but to save it; that he gave him all power in heaven 
and on earth adequate to finish that work and be for 
salvation to the ends of the earth; that he shall see of 
the travail of his soul and be satisfied; destroy death 
and him that had the power of death and deliver all 
who through fear of death were subject to bondage; 
will draw all men unto himself and deliver the king- 
dom to the Father, who subjected all things unto him, 
that God may be all in all. 

ik That a great change has taken place in the doc- 



166 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

trines, principles, feeling and practices in most churches 
within a century, every observer must admit. Doc- 
trines which were thought permanent, fundamental, 
essential to salvation, have been loosened, are tottering 
and fast crumbling away; and broader, better and 
more rational and consistent principles are being sub- 
stituted in their stead. As yet the fullness of these 
changes are not clearly manifest; but enough is known 
to sustain the position that I take in claiming for those 
called Universalists a large share, under God. in this 
great and glorious work. ^Ve have but to ask a con- 
trast of the opinions, feelings, and more Christian and 
fraternal conduct of the present, with the past of a 
hundred or fifty years ago, to make plain what I as- 
sume in our own behalf. 

"But the question I propose to discuss is: Has the 
advocacy of Universalism done any good in the world, 
or has it been an injury I 

"This question cannot be answered correctly without 
ascertaining what it has done, and what it proposes to 
do. This information I shall not be able to give you 
in its fullness, in a single discourse. But I may be able 
to indicate some facts which will help the thoughtful 
to a clearer apprehension of what is embraced as essen- 
tial principles in the formation of a true Christian char- 
acter, and obtainment of a good hope. 

"Although Universalism was hotly opposed and 
wickedly misrepresented, it advanced with astonishing 
rapidity and made many conquests. But its growth 
and extension can not be determined by its numbers 
and outside showing, as with the Methodists and other 
sects. Its chief work is in the mind, in the heart, 
warming and expanding the affections, liberalizing the 
views, inspiring confidence and hope in God, and, by 
gradual growth, enlarging the sphere of action, reconcil- 
ing differences, and making paramount the love of God 
and man over all minor considerations. This has been 
the field of its chief operations. The improved feeling 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCI1. 16T 

of the churches, the more fraternal greetings among 
professors; the more united efforts to reform and save 
the world from vices and miseries; the brighter hopes; 
the firmer faith; the kindlier feeling among all the people, 
testify, in part, the great value of the universal princi- 
ples we have preached, and to some extent practiced, 
in our day and generation. 

"The products of these labors have not ripened into- 
a full harvest. Prejudices still exist and selfishness- 
prevents the free extension of universal love in com- 
plete reconciliation to God. and peace and good will 
among men. It is impossible, therefore, to calculate 
what the harvest shall be in coming years — in quantity; 
it is plain what it must be in kind, for love works no 
ill, but seeks the good, the happiness, the salvation of alL 

"We confess our work is but begun, and so far very 
imperfectly done. We are in the world of human 
influences and aspirations, too much controlled by its 
forms and fashions, errors, and too ready to adopt the 
machinery invented by men to carry on the work of 
God. We do not appreciate enough our opportunities, 
feel our personal responsibilities, and employ the means 
at our command to enrich our souls in the love and 
knowledge of God. in studying his laws as unfolded to 
the thoughtful and devout in every department of his. 
government. "We do not learn of Jesus the lessons of 
true living and loving; how to possess our vessels in 
honor and secure the blessings promised to reward the 
well doers. The world and its fashions have a too 
powerful control over us, making slaves where there 
should be freemen, and keeping us back from the king- 
dom we seek and hope to find. Universalists must 
assert their freedom from such control, and walk in the 
light of their faith and hope, before they can demon- 
strate the great value of the principles they profess- 
and enter into the full enjoyment of the great salva- 
tion. 

" Some mav demand a more distinct statement of the 



16S THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

changes wrought by the ministry of Universalism, 
that a more correct estimate may be set upon the value 
of its labors. I will answer briefly as I can such 
demand : 

" 1. Universalism has taught, and pretty thoroughly 
■established the doctrine that God is the father of all 
men ; 

" 2. The acceptance of the Universal Fatherhood of 
•God necessarily compelled the admission that all men 
-are brethren and under mutual obligations to love one 
.another. 

" 3. The relation of God to man, as revealed through 
Jesus Christ, in the plan of salvation was clearly and 
rationally made to consist in repentance — a complete 
forsaking of sin, ceasing to do evil and learning to do 
well ; reconciliation to God ; purity of heart and life, 
and love and good-will to all men. 

" Universalists, who are true to their principles, must 
be among the best, the truest of men, and always strive 
to be better still, ever reaching forward, and aspiring 
towards the absolute and eternal good, and always 
studious to adorn the doctrines of God our Saviour by 
well ordered lives and a godly conversation, always 
confiding in God their heavenly Father, and ever pre- 
paring to meet and live with the pure, the good, the 
holy, and all kindred, in realms of light and love im- 
mortal. 

" What is grander, nobler, more worthy of God, more 
honorable to Jesus, or more desired by good men of all 
names than the salvation of all men from sin, ignorance 
;and error, their purity, holiness and happiness in the 
immortal life brought to light in the Gospel? " 

This doctrine of the impartial benevolence of God, 
is of all others the most favorable to the growth of 
charitable and benevolent feelings. And the heart 
that cherishes it sincerely, is a most fit and prolific soil 
whence all the noblest aspirations of the soul 
spring spontaneously and abundantly, for it directs us 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 16£> 

to copy the example of the merciful Father of man- 
kind, who " causes His sun to rise on the evil and the 
good, and sends his rain upon the just and the unjust." 
It bids us cherish kind and benevolent dispositions to- 
ward the unthankful and the evil, and to do good to 
all men as we are afforded the opportunity. 

The Universalist is the one who has the principle 
of universal love dwelling richly in him, so that he 
loves all men, deals justly with all, acts mercifully to- 
ward all, lives peaceably with all, and hates and injures 
none. In what a glorious condition would the world 
be. if all could accept these views, not professedly, but 
genuinely and practically. Strange that any rational 
being should fear to have such sentiments prevail far 
and wide till all shall embrace them, and obey their 
heavenly and benign influence, and be governed by 
universal and impartial love. If to believe that God is 
our friend; that he is ever watchful over our lives, and 
our happiness, making all the purposes of his moral 
government work together for our good; if this is cal- 
culated to weaken the ties of virtue, then is the religion 
of Jesus a failure. But how can this be, if "love is the 
fulfilling of the law." or the goodness of God is what 
leads to repentance I No — "He that hath this hope in 
him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." 

" THE PASTOR'S DUTY," 

is a plain lesson to Pastors of which I may give text, 
and somewhat liberal extracts: 

" Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, 
rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and doctrine. 

II. Tim. iv.: 2. 

"By the word which Timothy is charged to preach 
is signified, very evidently, the doctrine of the gospel. 
It is so used in numerous cases. ; Receive with meek- 
ness the ingrafted word, which is able to save your 
souls ■ (James i.: 21). 



170 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

" To you is the word of this salvation sent (Acts 
xiii.: 27). Hence the phrases word of life, the word of 
the gospel, &c. In its extended sense, it is applied to 
the whole revelation of God, including the scriptures 
of the Old and New Testaments. 

" The whole object of preaching is to make people 
better, more honest in their dealings, more virtuous 
in their conduct, more affectionate in their families, 
more peaceable in society, more humble and sincere 
in their devotions to God, and more engaged in the 
service and duties of religion. Particular doctrines are 
good for nothing, any further than they have a ten- 
dency to produce these effects. That doctrine is best 
which has the most wholesome influence upon the 
moral health and prosperity of the community. 

•' In preaching the word the minister of glad tidings, 
must take a bold and independent stand, and clearly 
state, and fearlessly defend those sentiments, which, in 
his opinion, derive support from the oracles of truth, 
.and, m their operations, are calculated to promote the 
happiness of all who receive them. 

" The natural tendency of the gospel is to produce 
great joy, peace and good-will among men. Hence it 
is evident that a doctrine which creates divisions in 
families, in churches, and in society, animosity among 
brethren, ill-will towards one another, cannot be the 
true doctrine. A pure fountain doth not send forth 
bitter water; neither doth a good tree bring forth 
evil fruit. 

" When called to sympathize with the afflicted, he 
must preach the word with all that energy necessary to 
produce reverence in the bereaved, by teaching them 
humility and submission to the wise providence of God. 
There is nothing more admirably adapted to its end than 
the Gospel to meet the wants of mankind. It reveals 
every dark mystery, in the order of divine govern- 
ment, and unfolds the reason of human suffering. It 
assures us, beyond a doubt, that good is the leading 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 171 

object in all the works of God. Its language is, " Though 
grief may endure for a night yet joy comet h in the morn- 
ing; that our light afflictions which are bat for a moment 
shall work out for us a far more exceeding and eter- 
nal weight of glory; that though no chastening- for the 
present seemeth joyous but grievous neverthe- 
less, afterwards, it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of 
righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby.'' 
Especially when the mind is distressed with the cares 
and perplexities of life, or is wearied with over-much 
sorrow, the Gospel imparts its benign influence, which 
entirely dissipates the gathering gloom which seemed 
to threaten an overthrow of all earthly felicity. It 
whispers peace to the returning penitent under the 
assurance of forgiven sins. It breathes comfort to the 
mourner under a hope in a resurrection from the dead, 
and a re-union of souls in a state of immortal beatitude. 
Though it denounces the sorest punishment against all 
transgressions, it does not force the sinner to despair, by 
annihilating all hope of acceptance with God ; but it 
proclaims the simple method of salvation — by ceasing to 
do evil and learning to do well; by dealing justly, lov- 
ing mercy and walking humbly with God ; by doing 
unto others as we wish others to do unto us. How 
simple are its requirements, and yet how rich its re- 
ward ! Strange that any should attempt to walk by the 
wisdom of this world, when that which is from above is 
far more simple. 

" Xot only is the faithful minister called to preach 
the word at stated times, but he is also commanded 
to be ' instant in season, and out of season.' On all 
fit occasions he should strive to convince sinners of 
the error of their ways, and instil into their minds 
those sublime sentiments which naturally inspire the 
soul with ardent love to God, and subdue the unhal- 
lowed affections of the heart. The awful consequences 
of sin — the loss of character, the bitterness of spirit, 
the anguish of mind, and all the ten-thousand miseries it 



172 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

brings upon its deluded votaries — should be portrayed 
in living colors before them. He should cause them 
to contrast the peaceable fruits of righteousness with 
the unavoidable consequences of transgression, and 
see how that by well-doing we shall be happy, and 
by a neglect of duty we must be miserable." 

" Let sinners know the advantages of a well-ordered 
life, and they will sin no more. Let mourners feel 
the comforts of the Gospel, and they will mourn no 
more. 

" These are duties, which, being productive of the 
happiest consequences, may be pleasurable to the 
preacher, and gratifying to the hearer, and increase 
a mutual attachment between both. But there are 
other duties inculcated in the text, which, though 
more unpleasant, are not less important. To them 
the faithful minister in the discharge of his holy call- 
ing, must also give attention. Paul not only charges 
Timothy to preach the word in season and out of 
season, "but also to reprove and rebuke. 

" These terms convey nearly the same ideas. Taken 
in connection they carry w r ith them a force not easily 
resisted. They refer not only to the moral conduct 
of the professor, but also to his belief. Paul so uses 
them in his letter to Titus. Speaking of the Cretians 
he says, ' Rebuke them sharply that they may be 
sound in the faith.' 

" The effectual preacher must at all times act for 
the good of them to whom he preaches. 

" He should adopt a course which to him appears 
most consistent and best calculated to gain the object 
in view, to wit : the glory of God in the salvation of 
sinners. Wherever he discovers vice with all its attend- 
ant enormities stalking abroad amongst men, he must 
declaim against it with all the eloquence he can com- 
mand. He must denounce iniquity of every kind, under 
every circumstance without fear or favor. 

" Sin is his antagonist, against which he must fear- 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. ITS 

lessly contend, and wherever he finds it encamped, 
among the high or the low, the rich or the poor, the 
honored or despised, there he must bring his whole ar- 
tillery to bear, nor cease the warfare, till he has demol 
ished its strongholds, completely routed this enemy 
of all happiness, and forced it to retreat in deep dis- 
grace to the abodes of dark oblivion whence it came.. 
He must know no distinctions save between virtue and 
vice. Like an ancient prophet he must ' cry aloud 
and spare not, but lift up his voice like a trumpet and 
show the people their transgressions, and the house of 
Jacob their sins.' 

" Xot only must he oppose sin as a common enemy, 
but in contending '• earnestly for the faith once deliv- 
ered to the saints,' he must reprove and rebuke those 
errors and false doctrines which reflect dishonor on 
God and promote misery among men. With them he- 
must have no fellowship. 

"All these reproofs, rebukes, and exortations should 
be made with all long mfferiTig and doctrine. Charity 
suffereth long and is kind. Therefore charity should 
be the reigning principle, and leading impulse to the 
fulfillment of all these duties, and when compelled 
to specify the errors, or correct the faults of others, it 
should be done in the spirit of mildness, meekness, 
charity, with a view to reform and bring about the 
greatest good of those concerned. Every thing should 
be done in a plain, simple and unostentious manner, so 
that all may comprehend the length and breadth, the 
height aiuf depth of all that is said. Mystery belongs 
not to the Gospel, nor dark sayings to the preacher of it." 



WHAT OF THE FUTURE LIFE ? 

A SERMON PREACHED IN ELGIN, ILL., DECEMBER 10, 1871, AOT> 
PUBLISHED IN THE UNIYEBSALIST BY SPECIAL REQUEST, 

Then shall I know even as also I am known. — I. Cob. xiii: 12. 
" From the connection we learn that St. Paul refers 
this language to a future life. He contrasts the highest 
12 



174 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

attainments here with the perfections of the blessed 
hereafter. In his best estate he confessed his imper- 
fectness; that he had not apprehended all truth, nor 
reached the perfection to which he aspired; that the 
best gifts should cease and knowledge vanish away; 
that we know in part, and prophesy in part, but when 
that which is perfect is come, then that which is in 
part shall be done away. He then compares the prog- 
ress of the soul to growth from childhood to manhood; 
for ' now we see through a glass darkly, but then face 
to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even 
as also I am known.' 

"Man's future and final destiny is a matter of deep 
and solemn concern to all of us. We are conscious of our 
mortality. Death's doings are all about us. Iso thought- 
ful person doubts, for a moment, the fact that earth is not 
his home. He confesses that he cannot long inhabit this 
tabernacle .made with hands. He knows that he must 
soon pass through the valley and shadow of death, and 
enter upon the realities of the great unknown; — if there 
be for him any realities beyond this present time, that 
if, he would have explained and removed if possible. 
It is that which perplexes and troubles him. His doubts 
congeal about it, his hopes are clouded and his heart is 
sad. 

Is there no light to shine on this darkness? Xo 
voice to speak to us and break the awful silence? 

What is revealed of that immortal life? What 
makes it an object of strong desire, of ardent hope ? 
What is seen, in the clear light of Jesus' resurrection 
from the dead, which a rational faith can accept and 
hope lay hold upon? What does the voice utter which 
speaks from the sullen darkness, from the silence and 
mystery of the Spirit Land, entrancing by its sweet- 
ness, and ravishing with its exquisite harmony, which 
vibrates with the purest and holiest and noblest desires 
of the human heart ? 

In sober earnest, what convictions what affections, 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCTI. 175 

what ideas, what hopes, what conditions do we associ- 
ate with a future life, as brought to light in the Gospel \ 
Is it the paradise of the heathen, where human passions 
still live, and hatred is not forgotten \ Where the odious 
distinctions of this life are magnified into infinite differ- 
ences \ Where ambition climbs, selfishness predomi- 
nates, pretention triumphs, and honesty and humanity 
aud virtue toil in vain \ Is it the Indian heaven, where 
indulgence comes to all earth desired, and the strifes of 
time are triumphs for eternity? Are our ideas, our 
hopes of the better land crudely formed, tinged with 
the remembrance of the ills, the wrongs and sorrows 
of the present life \ Or are they based upon a radical 
change in man's moral nature by a transition so sudden 
and complete that no recognition of the past, of which 
we have been, will remain \ 

Two doctrines have been preached as parts of 
Christianity which seem to me radically wrong. Both 
maintain that there will be a sudden and complete 
change at death, by the act of God, which will entirely 
disrupt and destroy the moral order and responsibility 
of the present life. One teaches that, for other con- 
siderations than moral goodness or even love of God, 
the souls of the elect and favored which have accepted 
certain dogmas, obeyed certain authorities, once per- 
formed prescribed duties which are not necessarily con- 
nected with moral feeling or right conduct, will never 
be punished for their sins, but will certainly obtain the 
reward of immortal blessedness ; while others, morally 
more honest, more sincere, more benevolent, more 
generous, more trustworthy — in everything better for 
the domestic, social, intellectual and political welfare 
of themselves and fellowmen, and even more sincere 
and devout in their thoughts and feelings towards the 
God and Father of all, and more in union, love and for- 
bearance towards mankind, shall never be rewarded 
for their good deeds, but are rejected, shut out of 
heaven, cast down to hell, and be made miserable for- 



176 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

ever. Read the history of the church in proof of this. 
What else divides the sects of to-day ? 

The other teaches that no memory of the present 
moral and social life and character will remain, but 
man will become a new creation in all the attributes 
of his being, retaining nothing of what he has been 
and done. To me this is virtual annihilation. What 
is a future life to me if no consciousness of myself re- 
mains ? The lamp of this life may as well be extin- 
guished at once and forever. There is for me no im- 
mortality. The particles of this body may molder, 
separate and mingle with their primordial dust and be 
absorbed into vegetables — a plant, a shrub, or tree, 
and be as much in my body, as that the mind, its prop- 
erties and principles, may be constructed into a being 
unconscious of what I have been and clone, no matter 
how ethereal, pure, and angelic ; it will be nothing to 
me, with the me left out. This at most is no more than 
transmigration, after the heathen notion. Does Chris- 
tianity present no surer hope, no sweeter comfort than 
this ? It is then of little worth as a comforter in sor- 
row, and illy sustains the spirit and promises of its 
Founder. 

Little is said, I admit, by Jesus or His apostles, about 
the precise conditions of a future life. But much may 
be learned from what is said, and inferred from what is 
not said, which accords with the purest desires, the 
soundest reason, and the best philosophy, viz. : that each 
person will exist in his own proper identity and "know 
as even also he is known." Jesus says, " In my Fath- 
er's house are many mansions ; if it were not so, I 
would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, 
that where I am there ye may be also." Much is to be 
learned from what is not said, to contradict what lives 
spontaneously in the heart and is essential to its exist- 
ence and happiness. It being* already there, it only 
needs proper culture to secure for it all that can be 
enjoyed. Jesus came into the world for that purpose, 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 177 

not to create, but to " bear witness to the truth," that 
we might have life, and have it more abundantly, and 
be comforted with the full assurance of hope, that 
where He is there we may be also. 

Every promise is made to man personally ', and every 
blessing is bestowed on individual ability to accept and 
enjoy. God deals with us morally, not in the aggre- 
gate, but as persons. To him we are held primarily, 
directly and personally responsible to answer for our- 
selves and not for others, except in our social capacity. 
And it seems to me a plain, necessary and most valu- 
able truth, that we shall all remain the same identical 
beings in the future life that we are in this. As much 
as the youth was the child, and the man the youth, we 
there shall advance upon what we werehere,"retaining 
the several links which connect our earliest conscious- 
ness with an endless chain of being. I can think of 
immortality in no other way. 

Life is a progress, a growth, a succession or accu- 
mulation of ideas, facts, feelings, enjoyments. These 
become real, what they should be, as we advance from 
the gross to the refined, from the material to the spir- 
itual, from the mortal to the immortal, from the hu- 
man to the divine. Through these preparatory steps we 
are, like children, growing into our real manhood, rising 
out of our low, imperfect state, and maturing for eter- 
nity, advancing towards the perfection and glory of 
the Infinite Father, where, " face to face, we shall 
know even as also we are known." 

This answers the objection which perplexes some 
minds, that if we retain our personal identitv and a 
consciousness of all we have been and done, Ave shall 
be made miserable by a review of our conduct and 
character in the light of God. Why so ( Xo more 
than manhood is troubled by the memories of youth, 
or childhood by the foibles of infancy. On the con- 
trary, the Gospel plan is founded upon the wisdom and 
goodness of God in saving from imperfection, sin and 



178 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

death. "The creature was made subject to vanity by 
reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope." 
Our sweetest joys are kindled by the love of God in 
the forgiveness of our sins and gift of eternal life. 
" The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eter- 
nal life." Did not the Prodigal love as never before 
when, freely and lovingly embraced by his Father? 
Remember Jesus' words, as He sat in the house of 
Simon, who disapproved the loving and grateful deed 
of one who had been wicked; but the odor of her pious 
offering filled all the house. I once witnessed a recog- 
nition of two old men who had parted in bitter anger 
many years before, 

" Nursing their wrath to keep it warm," 

for a long time. Long years had passed; better prin- 
ciples had prevailed. They met and embraced. They 
recounted many scenes and events, away back to their 
youthful days ; but neither alluded to difficulties which 
had parted them. The spirit of forgiveness was in both 
their hearts. Goodness had prevailed. The love of 
God had weaned them from sin and selfishness, and 
reconciled them to truth and right, and to God. They 
had repented, and they loved as sincerely as if never 
deceived by error or cheated by selfishness — as if they 
had never hated. An angel's presence was there; and 
there was joy in heaven. Immortal bliss is not made 
up of self gratulations, in boasting of what we have 
done. Jesus has some claim, and God deserves some 
praise. " Not unto us, but unto thy name be all the 
glory." " They sing the song of redeeming grace — of 
Moses and the Lamb," but give to God the glory. 
There we shall look upon the past, upon all life's 
thoughts, feelings and desires, not in the light of pride 
and self-interest as now. but in the light of God's love 
and truth, and grace; for we shall "know even as also 
we are known." 

One fact more seems properly connected with our 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 179 

subject, the recognition of friends in the future life. 
This follows of necessity from the premises accepted as 
true. It shall be no more difficult to recognize those 
we know in part and love, than to know ourselves in 
the spirit world. Wakened from the slumbers of 
degradation in ignorance and vice — a moral death — and 
transported to the home of purity, wisdom and elegant 
refinement, one would sooner recognize himself by the 
presence of friends than by a view of himself in condi- 
tions so changed, and so utterly unknown and un- 
thought of. And then what would heaven be without 
a friend? How dreary! how sad! how unbearable! 
We can scarcely endure the loneliness of short separa- 
tions in this life from those we love. What must 
heaven be with an eternal separation? What a sadness 
mingles with our joys in every scene of life when the 
heart is bereft of the affection of those we love to have 
near us. The finest views in nature, the grandest 
works of art, the most splendid representations of 
talent are doubly emhanced by their presence, and half 
the joy is lost when they are not with us to be happy 
also. 

We are sometimes told by stoic theorists that we 
must not think of earthly friendships, the ties of love 
w T hen contemplating the future state, the glories of 
heaven — everything will be so changed there — we must 
be willing to surrender our dearest kindred with uncon- 
cern for their welfare, when entered into the bliss of 
heaven, be willing to know they are lost — to be miser- 
able infinitely and forever. What a doctrine to be 
baptized in the name of Christ? Think of heaven and 
hope for it without friends! Immortal blessedness 
without love! Impossible! There is no heaven where 
they are not. There can be none. Souls that hate are 
miserable. Bereft of those we love we can not be 
happy. I knew a mother once who was so utterly 
miserable at the death of her little child, that she 
caused its cold body to be dug twice from its grave 



180 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

that she might embrace it and wail over it, for she be- 
lieved God had no mercy on it. She afterward became 
insane. Do you wonder ? 

How different the prospect to those who accept the 
testimony of God's love and truth as revealed in the 
leart and in the Word ; who believe in the fulfillment 
•of his promises, the execution of his plan of grace — 
salvation from sin, ignorance and death ; that death 
•.shall be swallowed up in victory, and there shall be no 
more death, sorrow, nor crying, nor an} r more pain ; 
but former things be passed away, and all things be 
made new — all things be of God, that God may be all 
in all ! 

■5f vr ■& vf 7T vr vS- 

I have failed to mention an 

OCCASIONAL SERMON, 

DELIVERED BEFORE THE ILLINOIS UNIVERSALIS!* STATE CONVENTION 
IN ELGIN, OCTOBER 20, 1868. 

What shall we do that we may work the works of God. — 
John vi: 28. 

There is an intimate connection between God and 
all good works. He reigns everywhere. His laws are 
permanent and universal. They are established in wis- 
dom for the good of all men. He is good — nothing- 
evil can come from Him. He is perfect — He can never 
change. He is almighty — none can escape His judg- 
ments. He rewards the righteous, the well-doers, 
sends blessings upon all who remember His command- 
ments to do them. He punishes the wicked, all evil- 
doers, who live not according to His laws in the con- 
ditions of their being. He renders to every man accord- 
ing to his works. In every nation, he that fears Him 
and works righteousness, is accepted of Him, while in 
the nature of things, the way of the transgressor is 
hard, and there is no peace to the wicked. Nothing is 
plainer in revelation, philosophy and fact, and nothing 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS IJALCII. 1S1 

is safer as a foundation of moral action in the social 
relations of life. 

Theories have been devised, altered, changed, recon- 
structed ; rules have been decreed; rewards have been 
offered ; punishments have been inflicted and severer 
ones threatened, yet the world has not worked the 
work of God, and has but slowly improved — some say ' 
not at all — in the great chief work of moral progress 
and personal perfection. 

There is little cause for marvel why so many seri- 
ous, thoughtful, honest, philanthropic, excellent peo- 
ple stray outside the pale of religious organizations, 
seeming to avoid the direct work of God, while they 
really love the principles of Christianity, and devoutly 
desire their universal prevalence. They do not see 
exemplified in the methods of sectarian work, the 
wisdom, spirit and moral excellence; the breadth and 
power and purity they have found in the Gospel, and 
felt to be, in some degree, in their own hearts. They 
do not find a witness to correspond with the narrow 
and selfish devices, the proud ambition, the bigoted 
adhesion to names, sects, and parties which have 
characterized the history of the church. They look 
into the humanities — the charities and benevolent 
workings outside the churches, and find moral reforms 
going on successfully, though neglected, and often 
frowned upon by professed Christians, and actually 
doing more good for the race, and approaching nearer 
to their convictions of what is the work of God. They 
ask, " Why are the churches so bound up in their own 
aggrandizement — building and adorning splendid 
structures for the rich and fashionable, sustaining arro- 
gant and exclusive ministries, gathering in large reve- 
nues for sectarian colleges, publications, and mission- 
aries ; remodeling, patching, repairing and inter- 
preting old. worn, torn, shattered, threadbare, rotten, 
dogmatic creeds, fit only for the moles and the bats 
while all around vice festers, dishonesty thrives, drunk- 



1S2 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

enness revels, crime increases, industry struggles, 
fashion flouts insult in the face of honesty; good men 
suffer; pure men are disowned; sin luxuriates, and the 
poor perish without the Gospel ? " 

Who will answer them? Who will tell the reason 
of this long delay, of this weary wandering to find a 
way to the high altar of true worship and the work of 
God ? Or, is it so, that Christianity is to remain an 
everlasting puzzle, and the work of God an involved 
problem for quacks to experiment on, philosophers to 
gaze at, sectarists to quarrel over, enthusiasts to talk 
about, and good men and honest to attempt in vain ? 
It cannot be. There must be some solution of the dif- 
ficulty — some way out of this wilderness — some high- 
way of holiness for the humble seeker after truth ; the 
follower after righteousness ; for the honest, the faith- 
ful and the good — the true light that is to enlighten 
every man, and guide to the open entrance into the 
kingdom of God. which Jesus came to establish on 
earth. Let us seek that way in the light of God. It 
may be His good Spirit will help our infirmities and 
guide us right, that we may walk in the way, know the 
truth, enjoy the life, and work the work of God. 

Jesus answers the question in our text by saying to 
those who put it : " This is the work of God, that ye 
believe on him whom he hath sent." 

Faith is the true basis of all right work. Without 
it no man can work the work of God. Men do not 
work earnestly, heartily, cheerfully, in anything where 
they feel no desire, expect no good, take no interest, 
see no success, and have no faith. They must not only 
desire to have, but they must believe, to possess and 
enjoy, and then they will work for it. The heart of 
the soldier is roused to deeds of noble daring, and his 
arm is made strong 1 in battle so long as victory is be- 
fore him. Destroy his faith and he is powerless. The 
farmer will not sow where he sees no harvest. The 
mechanic will not ply his tools where he expects no rec- 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS LALCII. 1S3 

ompense. The merchant carries on his traffic in kind 
when he believes it will be most remunerative. The 
fortune seeker hunts for gold in the mountains, and 
digs where he believes it may be found. The specula- 
tor invests in lands, stocks and rents, where he thinks 
to realize the largest profits. Fast men add excitement 
to risk and expect gain at the stakes of the race or the 
gaming table. The politician believes there is for him, 
or his friends or party, a place of honor, profit or 
power, and he buckles close his armor for the fray. 

X o man works without a motive, an object, an end. 
That is always before him — a thing of faith. Where 
he sees, or thinks he sees a way open, he pursues it. 
Sometimes his vision is dim, and it is very dark, and 
he stumbles and fails for lack of sight, which faith 
alone supplies. Often false lights are held out by the 
designing, who would decoy him into false channels 
and make him a wreck for their own gain. More fre- 
quently he is deceived by his own selfishness — drawn 
away of his own lust and enticed, and in making haste 
to be rich or to enjoy, he fails of the real good desired. 
Sometimes men become so fallen, so lost, so bereft of 
their manhood and reason, that they act not from any 
distinct motive; have no fixed purpose, no settled de- 
sire, but are propelled by forces and outside pressure ; 
driven by necessity, chased by a hated ki creature of 
circumstance." 

Xow as faith is the basis of all work, the work will be 
in kind and character like the faith which produces it ;. 
just as certainly as the effect will be like the cause, the 
stream like the fountain, or the fruit like the tree. 
There is a natural and inseparable unity between the 
two that makes both one, so that works can not exist 
without faith, and faith is dead without works. It 
can not live, being alone, any more than the body can 
survive the departure of the spirit. Both must live 
together, and dwell in harmony. Faith must precede 
work, and work must correspond with, or be the ex- 



184 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

pression of faith. Each plays, in turn, upon the other. 
Together they constitute the real man. 

There is no light, no life, no love, no soundness, no 
joy, where faith is not. The difficulty under which the 
world labors is the weakness, the imperfection or the 
error of faith. Of them it can not be said, in any final 
sense, that they worked the works of God. 

The people^ as in our day, were expecting a brighter 
light to arise, a clearer revelation to be made, a mightier 
wer to be given for the guide of life. Xone were 



Ql ,v>^ ™ „„« 



po 

satisfied with what they had, with what they knew, 
with what they believed, with what they enjoyed. All 
had higher ideals and nobler aspirations. They were 
looking, they were waiting, they were praying, as mil- 
lions of souls are praying to-day. all over the world, for 
God to bring a true witness, a living light, a full con- 
viction, a joyous hope, a great deliverance, a peaceful 
rest, " the desire of all nations." 

Jesus came. He began His work — the great refor- 
mation, the salvation of the world. Multitudes were 
•drawn to Him. They looked, they heard, they thought, 
but as yet they did not believe and feel. His first works 
done in humility, His first words spoken in simplicity, 
.all pertaining to daily life and duty, surprised, but did 
not satisfy them. They saw the blessings multipled 
for them ;. they ate, but did not believe. They had no 
olear conviction of the great purpose of His mission. 
They comprehended not the lessons He gave them. 
Their thoughts grasped not the idea of spiritual life, of 
moral power, the kingdom of heaven inearth, the reign 
of God in the affections, Christ formed in them the 
hope of glory and destined to universal dominion. 

They asked seriously, and earnestly, no doubt, "What 
shall we do to work the works of God." He answers 
promptly, and plainly, that the first great act, the 
preparation for all true work, is to believe on Him 
whom God had sent to teach and guide, and bless, and 
save the world. 



• REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 1S5 

This first act,the basis of all the rest in the Chris- 
tian life and work, is to believe in Jesus Christ as the 
appointed teacher of God, duly qualified and commis- 
sioned to save the world. On this depends everything 
else pertaining to the Gospel scheme of redemption; to 
deny this is to reject the whole. 

Had Christians always heeded the instructions, 
obeyed the precepts, imbibed the spirit, felt the humil- 
ity, followed the example of Jesus, as one in whom 
they believed, in whom they had full confidence as 
Teacher, Guide and Savior, the Way, the Truth, and 
the Life His church would not now be rent and wrang- 
ling in a thousand sects, in bitter enmity, in hostile 
array, selfish, proud, arrogant, covetous, domineering. 

The history of the church is a striking proof of lis 
want of faith in Jesus Christ. Almost every other 
means but that revealed by Him, have been employed 
to promote its prosperity and gain for it prominence 
and power. The wisdom of the world, the artifices of 
crafty and designing men, the abuse of confidence, 
privilege and powers have been preferred to the "wis- 
dom that is from above, which is pure, peaceable, gen- 
tle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits 
without partiality and without hypocrisy. 5 ' Honesty, 
justice, loving-kindness, good-will among men, personal 
holiness, universal love, justice and right do not stand 
prominent on its records meddling with the affairs 
of state, the rights of conscience, the liberties of the 
people, to control, oppress and alienate by keeping in 
ignorance the masses of men. 

Who that has read ecclesiastical history, or observed 
the proceedings of the churches, so narrow, exclusive, 
sectarian, can wonder that so many of the best men, 
profoundest thinkers, truest philosophers, wisest states- 
men, noblest philanthropists — real Christians — have 
hesitated and refused to be numbered with believers, 
though they have worked the work of God, loved and 
labored for the good of mankind ? 



1S6 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

" Jesus revealed a system of religion, true in its doc- 
trines, practical in its spirit, and every way adapted to 
the conditions and sufficient for the wants of all men, 
in all time. The human mind can conceive of none 
grander; logicians can prove none truer; the human heart 
can desire none better. It is sufficient to all things, 
having promise of the life that now is, and that which 
is to come. The wisdom of the world has contrived 
nothing to excel or equal it. The skill and learning of 
none have been able to improve or destroy it. It is 
now the same it was from the beginning — pure, truth- 
ful, sufficient, glorious. Like the diamond neglected, 
lost, buried beneath the accumulation of errors and 
wrongs of ages, when dug out and the rubbish is all 
oleared away, it is found to possess its primitive brill- 
iancy and value. It is beautiful in every setting. It 
is the adornment alike of kings on their thrones, pris- 
oners in their cells, beggars in the streets, statesmen in 
council, toilers in the fields of industry, humanity strug- 
gling everywhere. It is the brightest light of science, 
the profoundest axiom of philosophy, the sweetest 
charm of poetry, the truest friend, the safest counsellor, 
the crown of life, the hope, comfort and joy of the 
dying. It is truth, light, life, victory, immortality. It 
is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. Jesus 
taught it, lived it, embodied it. 

"They do not accept Christianity as an institution 
of God, established for the moral government of respon- 
sible beings. They tell us it has been tried and failed; 
forgetting to distinguish its true principles from the 
gross and monstrous corruptions and errors which have 
been surreptitiously fastened upon it by the pride and 
ambition of wicked and ignorant men. They judge it 
in the disguises of worldly wisdom and power, where 
it has been foisted into high places of authority and 
splendor, and not as it is in fact among the humble, in 
the homes of the lowly. " The pure in heart see God." 
Jesus rules his kingdom by the moral law. He accepts 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 1S7 

not the cunning strategy of ambitious managers, the 
formal ceremonies of pretentious priests, the revered 
superstitions of ignorant enthusiasts, in the place of 
honest, earnest and intelligent devotion to truth, to 
virtue and to God. He promised, and he sent the Holy 
Spirit to guide his followers into all truth. As many 
as are led by the Spirit of God, thev are the sons of 
God. 

" Ours, my brethren, is a special work, for we live 
in a wonderful age. 

"It is not ours to rebuild, patch, or prop the old ; 
but to use whatever is found sound and suitable in the 
construction of the new. 

" We need organization — thorough, compact, volun- 
tary. Xow work means more than organization, it 
means that and mere too. We include victory and the 
fruits of victory — the arts of peace. Others labored 
and we have entered into their labors. We are to 
carry forward the work and help finish what they so 
well began. We are to cultivate the fields their valor 
won. 

u Ours is the ministry of reconciliation. We are 
ambassadors for Christ. In his name — in the faith, 
spirit and power of his religion, we persuade men to be 
reconciled to God. We are called to work the work of 
God — not of man, nor by man — to seek and to save 
them that are lost; to restore them to the fold of God, 
in the faith and love of Jesus Christ, that there may be 
one fold and one shepherd. 

u Our first chief work is with our own hearts and 
lives, that our affections, our wills, our whole souls be 
deeply imbued with the Holy Spirit, that we be 
"lively stones — not dead weights— built up a spiritual 
house, an holy priesthood," — everyone of us — "to olfer 
up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus 
Christ." It is not the number, or the cunning of the 
craftsmen, so much as the fidelity, constancy and per- 
severance of those professedly engaged in his service, 



188 THE LIFE AKD LABORS OF 

that shall promote the cause of truth and make it 
triumphant. 

" The cause requires good men and true, pure men 
and humble, reverent of God and in love with mankind, 
whose daily prayer is, " Thy kingdom come ; Thy will 
be done on earth as it is in heaven ; " preachers, editors, 
writers ; men, women and children, who attach im- 
portance and a value to their religion, and make it 
second to nothing else ; who will swerve not, nor 
waver in the fiercest conflict with error and vice for 
the sake of personal ease, wealth, enjoyment or renown ; 
but who, every day, and everywhere, are true to their 
convictions, resolute in the defense of truth, never 
terrified by their adversaries, always hopeful, joyous, 
happy, forgiving and full of true and kind words, let- 
ting their "light so shine before men that others may 
glorify our Father in heaven." 

" As a denomination, with a great work before us, 
and full opportunity, we need more work and less legis- 
lation, more doing and less planning ; better workers 
and fewer managers. We need moral culture and 
spiritual growth ; personal piety and home religion ; 
love of God and faith in Jesus. Without such training 
any organization will be imperfect and incapable. 
It may count large numbers, make a fine show and 
attract much admiration, but for any practical work it 
will prove a splendid failure. It is not parade, but 
votes that will elect a President. 

" Keligion is personal ; its home is the heart. It 
must live there or it does not really live at all. It 
communicates with the world, but does not nourish in 
crowds, where the atmosphere becomes impure. It 
leads the soul apart, to commune with God in the 
closet, that it may grow strong, and then go out into 
the active world and receive its reward openly — "not 
yours, but you." 

" The great lack of the church in other days w T as a 
want of faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the 



REV. WILLIAM STEVEXS BALCH. 189 

world. They did not believe he would do what he had 
undertaken. They distrusted the means and method 
of his working. They believed and taught the defeat 
and disaster of his cause, the failure of his mission. 

"When was the world so ready for the truth, and so 
ripe for the sickle as to-day ? The harvest is plenty. 
The reapers are few. Let us pray the Lord of the har- 
vest to send more and better reapers into His field. 

" What we need most, brethren, as I view it, is more 
self-consecration — more faith in Jesus Christ, and less 
confidence in human wisdom ; more love of God and 
less self-esteem ; more love for mankind, and less desire 
of personal and party preferment ; pure hearts, holier- 
lives ; more of the attractive forces of truth and love 
to draw into a warm-hearted, devoted, zealous, work- 
ing brotherhood, that alone and together we may work 
the work of God. We believe in the universal love of 
God ; let us prove it by working after the pattern of 
Jesus — loving, and seeking, and suffering for the 
good of mankind. We believe in the salvation of all 
men — let us reject none from our tender sympathy 
and constant concern. We believe in the Universal 
Brotherhood ; let us love as brethren, even our enemies, 
and them that hate and persecute us. 

t; We do not believe in party schemes, private jeal- 
ousies and personal rivalries ; let us avoid them. We 
do not believe in endless sin, hate and misery ; let us 
overcome evil with good. We do not believe in popes, 
priests, bishops, immense ecclesiastical properties and 
church domination over personal freedom ; let us 
never sink into them. We do not believe in money to 
buy the gifts of the Holy Ghost ; let our hearts, and 
souls, and bodies be sanctified to God, with all our 
substance for His most glorious work. 

"Our name is a good one. It was wisely chosen at 
the baptism of our denomination. A better I cannot 
conceive. It has a common center — unity — and a 
positive declaration — one God and Father of all ; one 

13 



190 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

Lord, the Savior of all : one brotherhood, one fold. It 
has a boundless circumference, it accepts all truth, 
embraces all goodness, rewards all virtue, punishes 
all vice, saves and blesses all men. It overcomes all 
evil, corrects all error, removes all wrong, reconciles 
all hearts to God. It is universal. It cannot be con- 
fined or restrained to become narrow, selfish, sectarian, 
without perverting and destroying its meaning and 
intent. I love it : I admire it ; I praise it ; it is so like 
in all His works : so like Jesus in the Gospel : so 
like the spirit of truth. and power of love every where. I 
- rdained to preach it. to honor it. to defend it from 
srsonal pride, and party prejudice : working under it 
for the conversion of sinners, the joy of hearts, the salva- 
tion of men. To me it is the synonymn of all that is 
true, and pure, and good, and holy, and beautiful, and 
lovely, and noble, and glorious in God. in man. and in 
ail the world. It comprehends all perfection, is all 
light, life love and immortality. It banishes to eternal 
oblivion whatever is opposed to God and human happi- 
ness; all wrath, enmity, hatred, variance, everything 
impure, false, hateful, all sins, sorrows, suffering, death 
and corruption. It fills the soul with all love, peace, 
good-will, joy. and attunes the heart to the praise of 
God. It embraces the faith of Jesus, and works the 
work of God. Beautiful, harmonious, significant word 
— Uxiversalism ! May it always live in its spirit, be 
honored in its true meaning and never be disgraced by 
any who accept it. so long as names shall be needed to 
distinguish principles and ideas — the faith, hope and 
characters of mortal men." 

There are still other sermons from which we may 
make less generous extracts : among them ,% Creeds and 
Sects in Heaven ;-' ? and "What Jesus Taught." Of 
the former of these we find him saying, that ' ; Jesus 
bore witness to the truth in its highest and grandest 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 191 

revelation, for the purification, elevation, perfection, 
salvation of man. 

"He taught that by 'doing the will of God we 
should know of the doctrine,' that we should know 
the truth and that the truth should make us free. 

" His was not truth in the abstract, founded on state- 
ments, proposition, problems, and formed into theories 
and systems by curious contrivance. It was truth in 
the concrete, issuing from the Fountain of Life itself, 
and glowing in the warmth of purified affections, holy 
desires, in light and love, permeating the whole heart, 
elevating all thought, and consecrating eveiy power to 
personal holiness and universal good. As such the 
Gospel contains truth of the highest importance to all 
men; acceptable to all who love righteousness, rejected 
by none who seek the moral devotion, purity and 
happiness of mankind. 

" Who shall take up the letter of a creed or habit of 
a sect, and lay it as a stumbling block in his brother's 
way \ 

" The terms of Christian fellowship are plainly and 
explicitly stated by its Divine Author. Xoneneed mis- 
understand them, none should limit or misapply them. 
They are given in language intelligible to all. They 
accord precisely with the purest and holiest affections, 
and noblest aspirations of every soul. They need but 
be read without note or comment, to be intelligible to 
all. They interpret themselves, and waken an echo in 
every heart. The philosopher may be too busy with his 
speculations, the scientist with his theories/the artist 
with his imaginings, the sectarian dawdling with his 
creeds and forms and rules, the man of the world with 
the hum and bustle of business and love of gain, to listen 
and consider, but for all and to all who have ears 
to hear and hearts to feel, it speaks but one language 
— love, righteousness, truth, blessedness perfect, uni- 
versal, immortal. 

"Eight here comes in the mistake which does all the 



192 



THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 



mischief in the churches. Instead of ' speaking the 
truth in love ' — exhibiting such truth as we think we 
have in the loving spirit of the Lord, we -assert it dog- 
matically as the absolute and ultimate truth, and in 
language others may not understand precisely as we 
do, and make it the basis of fellowship in the church 
of God which is the fullness of Him who filleth all in 
all. Or rather we form what we regard as truth into 
a creed, and not able to explain it so that others may 
know it to be the truth, we demand their assent to it 
by faith, till they shall find it to be truth. In so 
doing we reverse" the order of things, and pervert the 
teaching of the word, by making faith the basis b} r dog- 
matic statement, preceding the reception of the spirit 
and practice of Christianity." 

" What scene is grander, more beautiful, more like 
heaven than an assembly differing in name, thought, 
creed, and character, gathering in that one Name which 
is above every name, before the throne of the common 
Father, there to invoke his blessing alike upon all men, 
and eat and drink in memory of his beloved son, our 
Lord and Savior, as brethren and sisters of a common 
household ! Forgetting all differences, all distinctions ; 
each humbly and devoutly seeking the influence of 
love, the guidance of the spirit of truth, that he may 
be an accepted follower of Jesus, and live in love and 
peace with all mankind ! 

"Precisely what shall be the condition, character, 
and employment of the heavenly state none can pre- 
tend to know. 'Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, 
neither hath entered into the heart of man the things 
which God has prepared for those that love him.' Our 
ideas of the future are colored, deeply shaded by our 
knowledge, opinions and desires in the present life. 
The two are connected by a continuous chain whose 
links are fastened so close and strong, that in thought 
it is difficult to separate them. 

" What we think of, hope for, call heaven, contains 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 193 

no element of evil, no shadow of imperfection, and af- 
fords no occasion for strife and contention. The very 
atmosphere is purity, light, life, love, bliss immortal. 
There is no night there — no darkness at all. Therefore 
there can be no desire nor deed of evil ; no rivalry, no 
pride, no hatred, no malice, no lust, no misery ; every 
one shall see as he is seen, and know, as he is known. 
They shall be like Jesus ; ' for they shall see him as he 
is,' — shall be changed into the same glory — from glory 
to glory by the spirit of the Lord ; and God shall be 
all in all. 

" There may be difference there ; but no dissensions. 
Some will be no more than babes in Christ, but an 
open field for endless progress in knowledge and good- 
ness will be for all. Comparatively all shall be reck- 
oned so; for between the finite and the infinite there 
is an eternity for growth in knowledge and perfection. 
Each with a cup full and running over shall be happy 
in his sphere, being good and doing good. Like a well- 
appointed school of pure-hearted, noble, earnest minded 
scholars, all anxious to learn, waiting to receive, ready 
to impart, loving, true and faithful ; no en\\\ no jeal- 
ousy, no rivalry, no hazing of new-comers, each devoted 
to the other, and all laboring together in love for the 
good of all. Such are our ideas of heaven and of what 
the church on earth should be. Jesus the great Teacher, 
the lover and Savior of the world is Head over all to 
the Church, which is his bodv, the fullness of him that 
filleth all in all. 

" Or, Heaven is like the happy home, where love 
flows freely from parent hearts and reaches and rules 
in the hearts of all the children. !No distinctions are 
felt between oldest and youngest, richest and poorest, 
wisest and simplest. One spirit pervades all hearts, 
one desire moves all hands, to do all the good they can, 
to make all pleasant and happy. Over all preside lov- 
ing father and mother, noting the difference which, 
like colors and forms in a landscape, give beauty by 



19i THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

variety, and watching with intense satisfaction, the 
order, harmony and happiness which reign in all the 
household." 

Of the teaching of Jesus we may say. that a few 
great central, simple faiths, or beliefs, truths which 
were lying at the heart of Christianity, constituted "all 
there was of his gospel. 

"WHAT DID JESUS TEACH? 

" The answer to this question would be easily found, 
plain, positive, direct and satisfactory, were it not for 
the obscurity cast over the teaching of Jesus by the in- 
numerable diverse and contradictory interpretations, 
commentaries, paraphrases and perversions of preachers, 
professors and writers, whose eyes are dimmed by pre- 
judice ; whose ears are dull or itching; whose judg- 
ments are biassed by a superstitious adhesion to creeds, 
names, forms and fashions ; whose souls are too sluggish, 
too worldly to think and examine carefully ; whose rea- 
son is too restricted by the decrees of councils and con- 
venticles, or who are shorn of their personal liberty and 
feeling of responsibility by a tcime and perhaps uncon- 
scious submission to usurped ecclesiastical authority 
over them by men no wiser, no more honest or rever- 
ent; no better than themselves. 

" Jesus did not teach his disciples that they must sub- 
mit blindly to old authorities because they were old, 
but to embrace truth, because it is truth ; and do right, 
because it is right. He reminded them of what had 
been taught by them in old time, by priests and poten- 
tates; but he did not teach them to obey their com- 
mands, right or wrong. He gave them a higher stand- 
ard, raised them above the traditions and authority of 
the elders. He brought them face to face with God, 
that in his light they might of themselves judge what is 
right. ' The pure in heart shall see God.' In his light, 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 195 

shining through their reason, and instructed by Jesus 
they could see more clearly and judge more wisely than 
the ancients. He did not teach them to prefer the wis- 
dom of men to 'the wisdom that is from above, which 
is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be en- 
treated full of mercy and good fruits, without par- 
tiality and without hypocrisy.' He did not teach them 
to follow the fashions of the world, or the church, to 
covet the high places of wealth, position, or power. 

" Jesus gave us lessons that are eminently fit and 
needful for all to learn. His advice is to attend to the 
duties of to-day and not be worried about the fate of 
to-morrow ; to seek first the kingdom of heaven — 
righteousness, peace and joy, in the holy spirit ; to 
obey the physical, moral and spiritual laws ; to do to 
others as they would be done by ; to be just and gener- 
ous; to let their good works testify the goodness of 
their hearts, the correctness of their principles, the 
reality of their religion; in short, to adopt 'and prac- 
tice the soundest, plainest, truest, most positive and 
most needed principles of true philosophy, moral 
science and sincere piety, all of which were taught in 
the lessons and exemplified in the conduct of Jesus. 

"What more or better could Jesus teach than he has 
taught \ What more does the world need to save it 
from sin and sorrow than to learn and obey what Jesus 
taught '. What could God do more to save and help 
his children \ What more is required of man than to 
love God and his neighbor as himself? On what surer 
foundation can we rest our hopes than the love of God 
shed abroad in our hearts, to prepare us for the duties 
and conditions of this life under all circumstances, for 
happiness here and hereafter, now and forever \ Is it 
not easy to see what such thought, feeling, action and 
purpose, such confidence in God, in Christ, in truth 
and love, would produce in the religious, moral, social, 
business and political world ? What a conquering 
power for good Christianity would have over the sins 



196 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

and errors, the crimes, the follies, the miseries, the 
meanness and littleness now so prevalent in the world, 
and not all outside the churches ! Who believes the 
world can be saved, the work of Jesus be complete and 
all men holy and happy in any other way i Why is it, 
then, that the professed followers of Jesus will not 
yield their prejudices, crucify their selfishness, cease 
their contentions, bury the creeds invented by men 
and supported by sects, and learn of the Great Teacher 
how they ought to live — how they must live, feel and 
act, like brethren, children of one father, redeemed by 
one Savior, and commanded to cherish the same spirit, 
and to love one another ? 

He forewarned men of the strong temptations that 
come f rum high places more than from low ; from 
secret insinuations, the love of money, and the influence 
of those who are the lovers of pleasure more than the 
lovers of God ; of those who seek honor without merit, 
happiness without virtue, and heaven by pretension. 
He indicated that it was easier to say Lord, Lord than it 
was to do the will of the Father in heaven. For some it 
seems easier to quarrel than it is to keep the peace. 

" While Jesus mingled with the humble and neglected, 
it was not to approve their conduct or condition, but to 
teach those who were willing to be taught by Him. 
The scribes and Pharisees, the rich, the great, the proud, 
the self-righteous would not listen to learn. Therefore 
his rebukes fell on them, and His labors were more es- 
pecially bestowed on such as were willing to be con- 
vinced and converted. 

"His work was to reform and save, not to destroy. 
Lie came to seek and to save what was lost, but worth 
saving. He taught not theory without practice, but 
to do the will of Gotl, and so know the doctrine 
whether of God or men. He did not formulate a creed, 
write a systematic body of divinity, nor establish a 
hierarchy to overrule the consciences of men. He 
taught tii em to break off their sins by righteousness, 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 107 

and sin no more ; to be humble and virtuous ; to lead 
quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty, 
that their sins might be blotted out, and a time of re- 
freshing come from the presenee of the Lord, such as 
was in the house of the father when the prodigal came 
home. He made the path of duty plainer, the motives 
to right living stronger, and the assurance of hope 
brighter than ever taught by priest, philosopher, poet 
or potentate who had preceded him. 

" The preaching of Jesus and His deeds of mercy, 
wrought without respect of social distinction, soon 
attracted much attention as He went about the cities 
of Galilee, and multitudes followed Him to hear His 
words and see His works. They had never heard of 
such wonderful things before. Doubtless curiosity first 
drew them about Him. The more thoughtful Jews were 
expecting some special manifestation in behalf of their 
nation about that time. Their prophets had foretold 
the coming of a Messiah who should redeem Israel 
from foreign servitude. They wondered if Jesus was 
not the promised Deliverer. Greeks and Romans and 
others, dwelling in that lovely region, became also 
interested and anxious to learn whereunto these things 
might come. 

" We must know the truth before we can enjoy 
its freedom. AVe must find the right way before 
Ave can walk in it. AVe must have faith in the ob- 
ject sought, or we shall never find it. We must ] "re- 
pare our hearts for the blessings we desire, or there 
will not be room to receive them. Error does not 
bring freedom. Sin inflicts misery. Doubt brings 
darkness and despair. Unbelief clouds the souls and 
shuts out light and truth and love; it withers affec- 
tion, blights hope and stretches on a bed of perpetual 
unrest. Ignorance is night. Indifference is procras- 
tination. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life — 
the light of the world. It is safe to follow Him.'' 



19S THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

It is not important that I refer to a large number 
of Mr. Balch's written articles and addresses, which 
his fertile pen has ever been furnishing the public. 
Thev are on a great variety of subjects, too numerous 
to more than barely mention a very few of them. 

u The changed condition of thought and feeling, 
demanding a change of action," was an address deliv- 
ered at the Elgin Ministerial Conference, designed to 
show that we were to cultivate, not creeds, differences 
of opinion, or pride of condition, but the seeds of 
humility, forbearance, fraternity, by " endeavoring to 
keep the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace." 
He was sure that if nominal Christians of every name 
would adopt and follow the standard of Jesus — "By 
this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye 
have love one to another " — it would be an easy task to 
convert the world. But u in biting and devouring one 
another there was no other alternative but to be con- 
sumed one of another." Sects and dogmas were and 
always had been hindrances, and not helps in the work 
of human redemption. Christians were to follow the 
counsels by which they were to "grow up into Him 
who was the head in all things, till they should all 
come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of 
the Son of God unto a perfect man, unto the measure 
of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Let them 
make the teaching and example of Jesus their model, 
and there would be no division among them. He 
thought it " one thing to help build a sect, and another 
to help save the world. It was ours to 'take up our 
cross and follow the Savior' among the lowly, the 
common people, into the by-ways and hedges; to teach 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 199 

comfort and inspire hope and assurance, of success in 
the way of well-doing, and to reprove, rebuke and 
exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine, to humility 
purity, meekness, good-will and good works towards 
all men.' 

We learn from him that it had "always been his.' 
aim in preaching and writing, and in all he did, to 'fol- 
low after the things that made for peace, and things 
whereby one might edify another,' and he hoped ever 
to keep clear of the spirit of division and contention, 
and labor in the broad field of impartial love and be- 
nevolence.'' It was not far from the period of Brother 
Balch's entrance into the ministry that the breaking off 
of the party known as the Bestorationists occurred, and 
as partisan feeling ran high, the attempt was made to 
draw him into the controversy that ensued, but he 
never could be induced to take sides. He deemed it a 
movement that was destined to soon spend itself, and 
it was because he refused to mix with it that he was 
called to be the successor at Providence, B. I., of David 
Pickering, who was one of the malcontents. He did 
not stop to speculate about any of these things. He 
believed "sin would be punished adequately, for it in- 
volved punishment as something inhering in it. In the 
event of a man's sinning he taught that he must suffer, 
or be punished, for he must take the consequences of 
his sins, and he should never flatter himself that he 
could do wrong and find peace in it, for 'there was no 
peace to the wicked.' Sin punished itself, as a man 
takes coals of fire in his bosom and is burned by them." 
He did not believe in any other punishment than the 
consciousness which is inseparable from a wrong intent, 



200 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

and thought it enough for us to believe that " so long 
as we are sinful we shall be miserable, and that the 
sure road to happiness is the road to virtue and holi- 
ness. Mankind were to suffer punishment until they 
ceased to do evil and learned to do well ; but no 
•longer, for there was ' no condemnation to them who 
were in Christ Jesus, who walked not after the flesh 
but after the spirit ; for the law of the spirit of life in 
Christ Jesus had made them free from the law of sin 
and death.' If a man sinned through eternity he 
would be punished through eternity." It was sin that 
was the worst thing ; it was the hell of the universe ; 
as holiness was the best thing ; the heaven of God and 
eternity. 

He tells us for what God punished the sinner, that 
it was " for the purpose of reclaiming and benefiting 
him ; never to gratify a malignant disposition ; and for 
this reason it made no great difference whether the 
punishment continued for a longer or shorter time, since 
it was to bring about the accomplishment of a glorious 
design." And in view of this he remarks : " We see 
no cause of controversy upon the subject of future pun- 
ishment viewed in this light. If we think all are pun- 
ished enough in this life, or if we think some ought to 
have more hereafter, we can see no good reason for 
quarreling about it. Better do our duty here and now. 
Labor and toil for the true honor and happiness of our- 
selves and fellow-men, and leave the event with the 
Judge of all the earth, for lie will do right.'''' 



%-:- 



In an article, " The Future of Humanity : An Open 
Letter to Brothers T. J. Sawyer and A. A. Miner," he 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCI1. 201 

treats of the origin of sin, and the change of this life to 
the life that is hereafter. " Sin originated in the earth" 
he says, "in the imperfection and weakness of human 
nature. The Bible everywhere treats it as belonging to, 
and inhering in the natural,animal,mortal,earthly nature 
of reasonable, responsible man. It keeps a plain distinc- 
tion between the corruptible and incorruptible, the dis- 
honorable and glorious, the weak and powerfubthe nat- 
ural and spiritual, the first Adam and the last Adam, 
the earthly and the heavenly ; and positively asserts 
the great change wrought by the resurrection from one 
condition to the other. Natural death was the end of 
man's earthly being — the house made with hands. 
The resurrection was into a spiritual state, a house not 
made with hands, eternal in the heavens.'' 

Of the change from this to the future, he believed 
that "all would enter that world as they left this, but 
not to continue in an unchanged state, but to be 
molded and fashioned into some higher order of beinsr 
and blessedness." He asks the question : 

"In what degree of spiritual or moral advancement 
does the soul enter the future state? We have no 
direct revelation by word to give in answer. But it 
would be a consistent and safe conclusion, that it enters 
that world in a degree of spiritual attainment, as it 
leaves this; that the future is to the 'inner man' a 
continuation of the present life in immortality. With 
the weaknesses, imperfectness, and infirmities of the 
fleshly earth-mind, left in earth, where sin originated 
and dwelt, the soul, disrobed of all that belonged to 
time and sense, like a slave set free, starts on a new 
career with light and love, purity and peace, joy and 
rejoicing, in all its surroundings. He sees himself as 
he is, and knows himself as God and the pure of 
heart know him. With his desires all pure, and 
mental faculties quickened, like the child entering 
a graded school, he humbly and cheerfully surrenders 



202" THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

his will, himself, his all, to the direction of the 
loved ones who recognize and gather about him in 
purest love and devotion, to help him on the upward, 
progressive course of endless growth in knowlege, love 
and worship, toward the absolute, the infinite, the im- 
partial, the all-perfect, the all-Father, whom to know is 
life immortal." 

He has many articles, such as " On the Situation," 
" Denominational Policy," "The Profession of Belief," 
" How to Advance the Church," " The True Object of 
Keligious Organization," etc., etc. He has one " Fifty 
Years Ago and Now," an address read at a session of 
the Illinois State Convention," and " To Whom is Uni- 
versalism Acceptable ? " I make brief quotations from 
each of these ; from the first : 

" We have, of late, followed too closely the wisdom 
of the world and the methods of other churches. We 
have departed from the simplicity, zeal, humility and 
patient working of fifty years ago. We do not live in 
the love of God, nor follow the example of Jesus. We 
do not dwell in love, and God does not dwell in us, nor 
is His love perfected in us. It is, therefore, not fitting 
that we should boast, or expect to prosper and triumph 
more than others. Xor should we pretend to be like 
them, seeing there is a radical difference in doctrine. 
In spirit and essentials we may agree; in doctrine there 
is a positive and eternal antagonism. Truth is still to 
be sought and its spirit to be cultivated by all believers. 
But we have reason to be thankful to God, and take 
courage from what has been accomplished by the feeble 
labors of the past; even that other men are entered into 
them and are reaping their fruits. When we look 
upon the changed condition of the churches and note 
the broadening and more liberal views and kindly 
feelings prevailing in them, and in the minds of the 
people generally, comparing fifty years ago with to-day, 



REV. WILLIAM BTEVENS BALCH". 203 

we do rejoice, and we will rejoice as Paul did, that the 
Gospel of love is preached, and is doing its work, by 
breaking down partition walls, letting in the light of 
God, and setting at liberty them that were bound. 
Were we to indulge a speck of pride, we might find 
mingled in the causes, if not prominent among them, 
the labors of the bold and earnest advocates of the uni- 
versal love of God and of the ultimate salvation of the 
race. We would claim no more than justice can grant. 
To God be the glory. All may not be aware of the 
secret permeating influences of the truths they de- 
fended, nor be willing to bestow honor where honor is 
due. not having traced the motions of the spirit: while 
many look with scorn upon those led by it, as Scribes 
and Pharisees did upon the lowly man of Nazareth and 
the fishermen. of Galilee. Such forget that God some- 
times 'chooses the foolish things of the world to con- 
found the wise, the weak things of the world to con- 
found the mighty, and things despised, and things that 
are not. to bring to nought the things that are." 

TO WHOM IS UNIVERSALIS}! ACCEPTABLE? 

" It is plain enough to all sober, thinking people that 
the doctrine of universal love, righteousness and salva- 
tion can be acceptable only to those of broad views and 
generous hearts, who wish well to their fellow-men. 
Narrow, prejudiced, bigoted minds cannot comprehend 
it. The simple statement of its principles, object and 
ultimate triumph, meet a ready and affirmative response 
in all free souls not blinded by selfishness and false edu- 
cation, by worldly wisdom and ecclesiastical authorities. 
The highest attainments of reason, and the purest affec- 
tions and holiest desires of humble and uncorrupted 
hearts, at once and gladly embrace it, and fondly cher- 
ish the bright hope it inspires. ' The common people 
heard Jesus and rejoiced.' 

" Allow me to quote briefly as I can three incidents 



201 TUE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

in my experience which serve to illustrate very clearly 
the great value of the principles Universalists are or- 
dained to advocate and exemplify, when presented to 
minds never prejudiced against them by false teaching 
and misrepresentation. 

" One beautiful Sunday morning in August, 1852, a 
young man came to my chamber, where I sat reading 
the bold prophecies and grand descriptions of Isaiah, 
glancing now and then at the clear white summit of 
Mount Blanc, and the sublime scenery spread out in 
front and on either hand. He said the landlord, a Ger- 
man, desired me to preach in the little chapel connected 
with his hotel. I answered I could not preach in Ger- 
man, French, Italian or the patois of Chamouny. Soon 
after he returned, saying it was not expected ; but as 
many English and Americans were in the village the 
service was desired for them, and as no other preacher 
was present, I consented, without any time for prepa- 
ration. 

" Some sixty or seventy were gathered in the chapel, 
all but a few entire strangers to me. A Bible and 
prayer-book lay on the desk. I did not know how to 
handle the latter. As I rose most of the audience rose 
also. Kecalling the form of Protestant worship in 
France, I offered a brief invocation, and then proceeded 
m our usual form. Fortunately I had just read Isaiah ii :- 
2, ' It shall come to pass in the last day that the mount- 
ain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top 
of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, 
and all nations shall flow T unto it.' I took it for a text. 
The illustrations were near at hand, clear and forcible. 
The leading thought was, Christianity, pure and simple, 
is above everything else, and, like the sun, gives light, 
heat and life, where nothing selfish and worldly inter- 
cepts its influence. All distinctions, like morning 
shadows disappear before the light and love of God. 
Then the last clause, ' all nations shall flow unto (into) 
it? Things flow downward, because the attraction is 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 205 

belaid. Place the magnet above the needle, it just as 
naturally flows to it. Jesus has a name above every 
name : He has gone before, is risen, ascended up on high, 
and when the Father's love penetrates the heart, the 
knee bends in deep humility, and the tongue confesses 
Jesus to be Lord to the glory of God the Father. And 
thus in the Divine plan Jesus shall reign until all things- 
are subdued, and all hearts are reconciled and drawn 
unto Him. All nations shall flow into the house — 
the church of the living God, the fullness of Him who 
fillet h all in all. 

*• On retiring a gentleman lingered at the door. As- 
I was about to pass he gave me his hand, saying, ' I 
want to thank you for your sermon ; it is what all 
men ought to hear ; it would level all distinctions but 
those of merit, end all wars and controversies, and 
cause peace, love, good-will and happiness to abound 
everywhere/ He continued, ' I give you my card 
and extend to you a most cordial invitation to come to 
my castle and make it your home while in England.' 
The next day we started for the circuit of Mt. Blanc. 
We met his lordship at some distance. He beckoned 
me to stop, descended from his carriage and came and 
desired me to dismount — from my mule — and be in- 
troduced to his lady ! She said she was happy to 
meet a man whose sermon yesterday had made so deep 
an impression on the mind of his lordship ; that he had 
not ceased to speak of it, and the need of such a doc- 
trine to convert the world. She heartily joined in his 
invitation to be at home in their castle. I need not 
add that I was glad the truth, simply presented, had 
made an impression on a nobleman ; but I was more 
pleased to know that its power is the same on all who 
receive it. 

"On the Arabian Desert one Christmas eve it was 
proposed by some of our pilgrims to have a religious 
service. Being the only preacher present I was urged 
to hold one. Quite a congregation coidd be gathered 

14 



206 THE LIFE AND LA.BORS OF 

from a camp near by — over fifty in all. I preached to 
them Jesus, the Saviour of the world, who came to show 
all men their Father, to teach all how to live in love, 
peace and good-will, to do no wrong, to restrain all evil 
thoughts and desires, to obey the Lord and hope and 
strive to become pure, holy and happy, and prepare for 
the kingdom the Good Father has prepared for all His 
children, where there shall be one fold and one shep- 
herd. I talked slowly, and the dragomen interpreted to 
those about them. The next day, and every day after, 
when I met them, the Moslems and others would drop 
one knee and hold out their right hand that I might 
lay my left in it and allow them to kiss the back of it 
in token of their deep reverence of me as a Santon 
(saint) of Allah. Those I met after my return from 
the Upper Nile showed the same respect. I admired 
their devotion to the few flashes of light that dawned 
on their darkness, but I pitied them, shut up in the 
confines of ignorance and superstition. 

" Six months after my return to New York, one who 
heard me, our cook, came to my house in his Syrian 
costume, and after kneeling and" kissing my hand, said, 
' I have come to America to learn more of that blessed 
doctrine you preached on the desert, that I may tell it 
to my people.' I embraced him, and bade him never, 
in this land, bend his knee to any but his God, and 
know that he was a man among men. 

" The last incident I will name, though many more 
might be, occurred last winter in Mexico. Our party 
who had ladies was invited to a dinner by the Nestor 
of the Mexican press, a man of liberal thought, clear 
understanding and eminent character. He had been 
twice banished and once imprisoned by the priestly 
party, when in power, in that oft-disturbed country, 
but is now esteemed as one of the most excellent men 
in the land. After dinner we were shown through his 
extensive establishment, his pleasant residence, one 
room in which is adorned with leading men of Europe 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 207 

and America, and finally into his editorial sanctum, 
where some time was spent in conversation. He gave 
cards to our party, and most of them went out upon the 
veranda to look at the flowers and birds. Turning to 
his son, who was learning French (our Spanish inter- 
preter had gone out), he told him to ask me if I was a 
merchant. I answered I was not, but a preacher (pas- 
tear), which the lad interpreted into padre. A deep 
scowl swept over his countenance, and he was about to 
turn away. Comprehending the cause, I said to the boy, 
* Tell your father I am not a priest, but a preacher of 
o-lad tidings for all men ; that I believe and teach there 
is one God the Father of all, one brotherhood of all 
men and all nations, and that I hope, in the Father's 
good time, and by means in His power, all will be 
guided onward through an endless life in continual 
progress, in ever increasing knowledge, purity, goodness 
and happiness towards the infinite and absolute good- 
ness and truth and love constituting immortal blessed- 
ness.' I said it slowly, and he translated so his fa- 
ther understood it, for his countenance changed and 
grew brighter, until all was aglow with joy. He 
grasped my hand, and told his son to say, 'Je sins ton 
jrere' — 'lam your brother.' We spent some time 
together, answering his questions as well as I could 
through his son. He gave me his portrait, engraved 
in Spain while in banishment, another card, on which 
he expressed his gratitude in knowing there were souls 
broad and free as his own, and desiring correspondence. 
He also asked for my photograph, and sent his son 
with me to our hotel to obtain it." 



CHAPTER XI. 

LETTERS AND CORRESPONDENCE. 

BEOTHEK Balch had a wide reputation as a writer, 
and there is found among his writings some of 
the finest gems of thought in our whole literature. 
There was such a manifest degree of ease, and a racy, 
flowing style or diction, together with the purest of 
sentiment, that one felt that he was taken possession 
of, and no other impulse was so strong, as to be has- 
tened on in the reading that he might gain the utmost 
of the thought that was being expressed. One of our 
ripest thinkers writes me, that he " always read what- 
ever he saw from his pen, not alone because his style 
was pleasing, but usually the substance was interesting. 
There were few persons who had equal observing pow- 
ers, joined with equal judgment, and still further, few 
have had equal facility of language to detail what they 
saw." The letters written on his journeys, and espe- 
cially during his tour in Europe, in the years 1852-53 
display an uncommon power of narration and descrip- 
tion, a talent which has earned for him distinguished 
reputation in a province of literary effort. Containing 
as they do many highly graphic sketches of eminent in- 
dividuals, and remarkable places of natural scenery and 
works of art, a high degree of interest attaches to them 
altogether distinct from their personal associations. Of 
themselves they must have been read, and with great- 

208 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 209 

est pleasure, by any intelligent person, however, indif- 
ferent to the name and character of the writer.' 

Brother "Weaver is the author of the following : 

"When a youth just converted to Universal ism, I 
read his letters from abroad, in a Universalist paper 
published in New York, and they interested me in- 
tensely. It was my first taste of anything of the kind. 
I could hardly wait from week to week for them. 
They were read in the family, and we all talked over 
them. I thought them over and over as I worked in 
the field. The reality of the great outside world came 
to me then, as it had not before. The name of W. S. 
Balch came to be a kind of hallowed thing with me. 
He was a Universalist minister; he was traveling in 
the old countries ; he was writing home weekly letters 
that had the charm of revelations to me. " Had I 
known that he was born and reared within fifteen 
miles of me, I should have felt even more stirred. And 
had I dreamed that I should ever know him person- 
ally, associate with him as a brother, eat at his table 
and join with him in public service, I should have 
thought that the dream related to heaven, and not to 
earth. I am certain that he was one of the men that 
waked me up in my youth. He seemed to me a won- 
derful man, and after his return home I read every- 
thing from his pen with greatest interest. When long 
years after I came to get acquainted with him. I was 
surprised to find him a common, humble man, just the 
equal associate of all of us, and particularly genial and 
sympathetic." 

Brother Balch/s letters and correspondence alone, 
would fill many books; but not many of these have fallen 
under my own eye. He held a large correspondence 
with a person in Providence, B. I., and for a large 
number of years, but I have not gained access to it. 



210 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

He always remembered friends with a great deal of 
cordiality, and warmth of attachment, and found him- 
self writing them often. He made a practice of finish- 
ing up his correspondence each } T ear as it drew near 
its close, and more than a single letter of his begins in 
the following manner : " My Dear Friend ; As the 
year draws to a close I continue my invariable custom 
and settle with myself, and pay all debts if I owe 
any, and try and commence the new year square with 
the world. No debt can be more sacred than that of 
friendship. That can never be all paid, more than the 
interest." 

I find another of these letters, "Dear Friends of 
Old and of Now," which starts off in this way : " I am 
(some think) too apt to moralize. It is near the end of 
the year, when all accounts should be settled truly and 
honestly before God, especially with ourselves. New 
Year's day has been for me an important day since I 
was sixteen, a day of personal settlement with myself, 
in which belongs both the material and spiritual, to find 
what the debt and credit should be in this critical time. 
In sight of eighty I am more than ever concerned about 
the balance sheet ; how it shall be when the year shall 
be gone.'' He keeps up this manner till within a month 
of his death, for November 27, 1887, he begins a letter, 
"Dear Friends; Sitting alone in the house this Sunday 
morning, Mrs. Balch and the girl gone to church, I be- 
gin thinking of old friends in Vermont, and thoughts 
center on vou and yours as amono- the best. So here I 
am communing." 

He begins one of his letters, " My Dear Bro. of Old 
and Aiwa vs;" calls it "An Old Clergyman's Moralizing 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 211 

to a Friend," and tells us that it is to an "Octogenarian 
Believer;" and another to a "Boy Friend," which I 

conclude is the same, and the form of address is, "My 
Dear Old Crony.-' I am tempted to transcribe extracts 
from both of these letters, as well from the character 
of them, as from the fact of having received a letter 
from this same octogenarian, of Andover, Yt., 
signed Geo. AY. Stickney, containing many reminis- 
cences, looking back over an acquaintance, and stead- 
fast friendship of almost eighty years. This letter I 
give here on account of its general interest, and be- 
cause it paves the way for the others to follow in a 
kind of joint relationship. It reads as follows : 

" Dear Brother : — Your request for contributions to 
the biography of Bev. Wm. S. Balch has recently come 
to my notice. From our earliest childhood William 
and I were playmates. He was born on the farm ad- 
joining on the west, and the family moved a year or so 
later to the farm on the northeast of that to which my 
father came from New Hampshire when I was a year 
and a half old, and on which I still reside. Through 
all our long lives we have been warm friends. He and 
I spent many hours at the forks of the roads leading 
to our homes, before separating after being out together 
from home. We were always interested in talking 
over and investigating the affairs of life, politics, mor- 
als, religion and trade. "\Ye spent a good deal of time 
in discussing John Calvin's doctrines and the false con- 
ceptions of God and religion which they involved. 
We boys thought them horrible, even while we re- 
garded them as taught in the Bible. I always thought 
we were about equal in our studies in school, but when 
we left our boyhood he left me far behind, as I plodded 
along in the beaten path of the fathers, while he 
started through the wilderness of life, and made his 



212 THE LIFE AND LABOKS OF 

way alone to fame, and his track is a beacon light, and 
a mariner's compass for all young- people to follow. 
Wm. S. Balcb, without a college diploma, early advan- 
tages of wealth, or an ancestry of great statesmen, 
divines, or noted jurists, has made for himself a name 
unaided, except by his genius, and determined will to 
do something for tbe good of mankind, and grandly 
has be succeeded. 

" He was always fond of finding out tbe source of 
everything for himself. When be was quite young, in 
making 1 sugar with bis brother on the hill, he climbed 
a tree so be could see as he thought the source of West 
River. This was the make of the man. He would as- 
certain the cause and origin if possible of everything 
that came under his observation. Though separated 
from each other, we were alike pioneers in the temper- 
ance, and anti-slavery cause. Afterwards in the Leg- 
islature together, I remember that he understood every 
measure that came up. Those which agreed with his 
views of right and expediency he supported with ar- 
gument and vote, and those which did not he opposed 
as strongly. No laws were enacted that escaped his 
notice. 

" Mr. Balch lectured in Montpeber on his travels, one 
evening, and a Judge Wilder and myself persuaded all 
the members of the Legislature that we could to hear 
him. There was a dramatic company from Boston in 
town the same night which drew many, but those who 
heard the lecture were delighted. A member from 
Norwich said ' I had no idea that we had such a man 
in Vermont.' 

"Iara more than pleased that the biography of my 
dear old friend is to be written. 

" Yours very truly, 

"Georg-e W. Stickxey." 

It was to this friend that the following letters 
were inscribed. The one written last, in July, 1SS7, I 
give first. It was addressed, 



BEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 213 

•• My Dear Old Friend of the long ago: — Sitting 
here alone, and wandering over the days of mv 
boyhood and since, I thought of that spruce tree 
at the forks of the roads, where we used to sit 
often, and talk over the affairs of the world, and our 
business in it. You were wiser than I, and older, and 
I deferred to you. We used to talk of Elder Man- 
ning's sermons about religion, conversion, and politi- 
cal matters as well, and things too numerous to men- 
tion. 

" Well, we are very nearly through with it ; having 
done our work, borne our crosses, enjoyed our rewards, 
received our honors, and must, not long hence, bid it 
farewell, and go to our long home, to continue our 
journey there, relieved of the burdens of the flesh, and 
with keener spiritual powers, in spiritual bodies, pro- 
gress forever in the higher, holier realm of light, purity 
and beauty, towards the Unseen and Unknown, but the 
Infinite, tiie Absolute, the Immortal. It is a consoling, 
joyous thought, a bright and glorious hope, that here- 
after * we shall know as we are known,' and forever 
rejoice in perfect happiness with a world redeemed and 
glorified. In such thoughts I have found relief in all 
troubles, strength in all weakness, and a light above all 
darkness. How then can we lament or fear to pass 
through the dark valley to the more shining shore, 
where is fulness of joy, and the life that is forever. We 
of course, cannot ; for so long as we hope in God, our 
souls are quieted within us, and darkness and fear fly 
away. ' Even now are we the children of God, and it 
doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but we know 
that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we 
shall see him as he is. And every one that hath this 
hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.' 
Blessed saying, joyous hope is this. I would all men 
had it. To it 1 have given the best thoughts and labors 
of my life, that they might have it. Although my 
labors have been feeble, there come echoes from the 



214 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

long past — from sixty years ago and sweet assurances 
all the way to the present from the souls who have 
listened and learned and hoped through my ministra- 
tions. It is a rich comfort in my afternoon medita- 
tions, worth more to me than the proudest honors and 
the greatest wealth the world could bestow. 

"Let us rejoice my brother, that our final salvation is 
nearer than when we first believed. The world is 
behind, heaven within and before us. Amen. 

"There, I have spun these thoughts as rapidly as 
our mothers and sisters spun their threads when we 
were boys. I hope you can read them and respond. 

" I suppose you are in the work-field as when we last 
met, and I wish I was able to be there with you. My 
health is fairly good, except my chronic complaint for 
which doctors know no cure. Were I comfortably 
well as last year I would now be in Vermont. I hope 
to hear from you soon. Regards to family and 
friends. 

"Fraternally, 

"W. S. Balch/' 

In another of these letters he follows up this strain 
somewhat. His mind is called to the death of a 
daughter many years before, and he writes: 

"It brought back memories of our long past, and 
stirred me so deeply that I catch up my pen to express 
the kindly feelings which have survived all changes of 
time and place for more than half a century, and live 
still, fresh and vital as ever. Is there not found in 
such a continuance of the purest, best and noblest 
affections, a ground of hope that they will continue and 
increase through all future changes — rising and aspir- 
ing and progressing, on and onward, forever toward 
the perfect, constituting personal, mutual and eternal 
happiness. 

ki Unlike the lower order of beings, man is never 
satisfied with what he he is, or what he has, or what 



EEV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 215 

he does. His desires reach for something more. Nei- 
ther is the individual, nor the race content to stop think- 
ing, desiring or progressing. If there is for him no 
future for progress and improvement, he is a failure in 
the works of creation — the greatest and saddest that 
can be conceived. Every other creature manifestly 
finishes his work, makes no improvement, unless taught 
by man. but dies satisfied, hoping for and preparing 
for nothing more for itself or those to come after. It 
is not so with man. AVhen a work is done he looks at 
it, and sees how it could be improved. Thus he im- 
proves, and thus he advances, but never finds an end. 
The generation coming after takes up the unfinished 
and carries it forward. Are these unceasing desires,, 
immortal capacities and unfinished works to fail when 
the body dies \ The instruments may be impaired or 
changed, through which the mind and heart communi- 
cate their hidden powers to mortal eyes and ears. The 
mind lives while the body sleeps. When the soul en- 
ters the 'house not made with hands,' w the spiritual 
body, such as God shall give it — to every seed his own 
body,' it shall be revived with superior powers and 
better opportunities, with no hindrances of the earthly 
body to prevent the spiritual faculties from running t he- 
race set before it. Bearing 'the image of the heaven- 
ly ' it shall seek after and enjoy heavenly things, en- 
tering anew upon a course of endless progress and im- 
mortal happiness. Can the soul of man be satisfied, or 
the will and work of God be complete, with anything 
short of such a destiny \ Such a hope can never be 
disappointed. Let us cherish it." 

The letter to which I referred, commencing " My* 

Dear Old Crony," reads as follows: 

"It has been a rule of my life, ever since I was a 
boy, to look over my little affairs at the close of each 
year and settle with myself, and find how I stood in 
relation to things about and within me. As I have 



216 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

heeded the instruction, ' Owe no man anything, but to 
love one another,' it has been a short and easy work 
to square all accounts financially. The difficult part 
has been to heed the latter clause, so as to settle with 
myself morally, socially, religiously. In this it has 
not been so difficult to find what I have done as what 
I have neglected to do. It is easy to see how much 
better it would have been had I done differently. I did 
not see it then. I suppose it is so with all men. This 
year is near its close, and I have reduced my pile of 
unanswered letters to three. This morning must clear 
the deck for future action. 

"We were boys together, you some months the 
•older. We are now old men and not together. A 
thousand miles separate our bodies, not our minds, nor 
our hearts. Space and time can not divide them, and 
•conditions should not fetter them. As you say, our 
ways through life have led in directions divergent, not 
wholly so, only in the outward life and living. The 
inner, spirit lite, is not controlled by outward circum- 
stance or condition. It abides the same. It may be 
shrouded at times like sunshine in storms, and perverted 
by selfishness and pride, but the clouds blown away, 
the sky is clearer and the sun warmer, and the evening 
more beautiful than ever. 

" You have remained quiet in your rural mountain 
borne, amid the romantic scenes oi our childhood. I 
have been drifted hither and thither about the world. 
I may have seen more of the outward distinctions among 
men,' the vast differences between the dead past and 
the living present; while you have nourished the ele- 
ments of social rural life. You may have thought it 
your misfortune that you have not seen more of the 
toiling, striving, clashing outside world, and had more 
Imowledge of men and things in their vast varieties 
and striking contrasts. I have seen too much of them, 
until the deep convicted soul refuses to be comforted 
until the valleys of vice and degradation are filled up, 



KEV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 217 

the hills of pride and oppression are digged down, the 
crooked ways of sin and selfishness are straightened by 
virtue and philanthropy, and the rough places of social,, 
political and religious life are made smooth, and all 
flesh see the salvation of God. It is my misfortune that 
I have seen too much of the world as it was and is r 
which, like mountain barriers whose dark sides rise so 
high as to obscure the light and glory of what is be- 
yond. Your sympathy has not been "so heavily taxed 
by the sight of the ruined, oppressed, neglected, down- 
trodden sons and daughters of our common humanity, 
nor your wrath been kindled at the display of selfish- 
ness and pride, clothed in the robes of royalty and 
wrong, sitting on thrones of ease and luxury in state 
or church, or scheming in the highway of traffic for 
more gain. 

" You and I grew up where none were rich, and none 
were poor, and every sign of pride or assumed supe- 
riority was shamed into humility or silence. If a man 
desired an office, it was fatal to let it be known. If he 
wanted friends he must be friendly. Aristocrats were 
rare, and when seen, were shunned. All naturally de- 
sire to see and know, but when they come to feel, the 
better sentiments are stirred, and 'a change comes o'er 
the spirit of our dreams,' and stern realities confront us 
at every step, and ' we are compelled to admit that 
where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise.' The 
ways of God's government are not so unequal as some 
imagine. He renders to every man according to what 
he is and does, and not to what lie pretends. Every 
man receives what he deserves, or God is not just. 

" YTe are neither rich nor crreat, as men decide it. 
What of it \ AYe used to read in our lesson — 

A competence is all we can enjoy; 

Oh, be content where heaven can give no more. 

" That has been a motto of my life. I am glad I 
am not a millionare, or have many thousands to be 



518 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

troubled with. I was once offered 8200,000 to take 
care of a rich man's business five years, until his son 
could manage it. It was a strong temptation ; but I 
respectfully declined it. I knew a man made crazy by 
drawing a lottery prize of $20,000. What could I do 
with ten times that amount ? You on your hill farm, 
and 1 in my cozy home and garden, are free from the 
cares and anxieties of the rich and fashionable. Wealth 
spoils many ; the strife to get it many more. 

"Well, brother, we are nearing the bank of the 
river all must cross or sink ! To me it looks bright and 
beautiful on the other shore. Those I have loved beckon 
me to them, and sweet voices sing 

Welcome to all; 'tis free, and fresh, and fair. 

'•When the angel comes, I'll take the proffered 
hand, shut my eyes on all that is not good and pure 
and true and holy and cheerfully launch into the 
placid stream, not doubting the angels of God's mercy 
will land me safe on the shore of the immortal, to meet 
.and mingle with all the beloved — the redeemed of the 
Lord, in a bliss that shall never cloy. I hope you have 
an equal faitr. and hope that we shall meet there and 
be happy forever more." 

There are several letters to his old friend Have- 
meyer, of Xew York City, one of which was penned 
when past the seventy-seventh year of his age, and in 
which he tells him : 

" We are in good health, all of the family, and com- 
fortable, and being all the spring, fixing in a quiet hum- 
ble way, in doors and out, my mind and body have been 
kept in a. good condition. I am satisfied, and more than 
satisfied, in seeing all looking nicely in garden 
orchard and lawn. I have climbed oaks forty and fifty 
feet, to prune into a more living condition by removing 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 210 

dead branches. Neighbors say I am reckless, but care- 
fulness gives safety even in old age. I am asked what 
I have to do without a parish 1 I will answer that I 
am comfortably situated, and am fairly content in con- 
templating the past, still busy with the present, and 
hopeful of a happy and immortal future." 

You will understand that Brother Balch has now left 
his parish in Dubuque, and was never settled after it, 
but he is cheery, and just as anxious for the cause as 
when he first assumed to work for it. After this he is 
away in California, and Brother Tuttle is a way. and meet- 
ing him in San Francisco, writes back that he heard him 
sigh as vigorously as any young apostle of the ministry 
could have done, over the depressed condition of our 
cause in that city, and seemed as anxious to enter the 
work of resuscitating it. "Let us*' said he "call the 
friends together at some place and talk with them.'' 
He found him preaching as usual in Doctor Hamilton's 
pulpit. 

He continues to tell us. " The world has gone well 
with me on the whole, and I have tried to go well 
with it. The Lord has blessed me, and for fifty-five 
years I have been prosperous beyond all I deserved or 
dared to hope. I have always found an open field, and 
work enough and good friends, both as a settled 
pastor and outside worker. So gracious and bountiful 
is the ffood Father to honest, patient and earnest en- 
deavor." 

Speaking of his being no longer under bonds to 
serve a particular parish, he says : 

i£ I never was much fettered in my free- 
dom, but always religiously observant to ful- 



220 THE LIFE AND LABOBS OF 

fill all obligations. Time wears away, and age 
steals on, but God and love and truth and good- 
ness are forever the same, unchanged and everlasting. 
I now have it in my heart tcTaccept an invitation to be in 
New York a Sabbath or two, and at a wedding the 6th 
of June. I am proposing to revisit some of the fields 
and scences of my former labors. Alas, how changed 
all will appear. Sad will it be to be gazed at by 
strangers, where good friends and co-laborers once 
lived, and to hear them whisper, ' What old man is 
that ? Do you know him \ ' and to ask for this and 
that playmate of childhood, and strong friends in ma- 
ture years, and be told 'Gone to the better land,' ' re- 
moved to a distant part of the country ' ' old ' ' de- 
crepit ' ' ready to go farther over the river to the 
house not made with hands.' Ah, me, but so it is ; 
and we must become familiar by faith and hope with 
what is to be. Let us be thankful and enjoy what Ave 
have while we may, and trust in God for the rest. 
There is sufficient provided for all needs, in all condi- 
tions of life. But in absence from friends we are de- 
prived of the blessings of social life, one of the chief 
sources of happiness, second only to the inward peace 
that comes from the consciousness of having cultivated 
right principles and affections, and done the duties ap- 
pointed us by the loving Father. I have tried to live so 
that others might have confidence in me, to deserve 
their confidence if I did not receive it. Looking back 
over seventy years of responsibility, I am grateful in 
believing that others have bestowed upon me as a 
whole all I deserved. What more could I claim \ Yet 
we are all indebted, the payment of which will consti- 
tute an element in the joy of heaven. 

" So much prose " he says " by way of introduction." 

But we have his confession. " It does seem a little 

strange to me to be without a regular round of duty to 

follow, day after day, year in and year out, as I have 



EEV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALGH. 221 

done for more than half a century. Active as 1 have 
been — like Martha, ; careful about many things ' — I do 
feel somewhat lost to be a boarder in my own house ; 
but I am not so desperately situated that I have noth- 
ing- to do. As ever, I am thinking and working, accord- 
ing to opportunity, to help convert and save the world. 
I find it is not saved, nor very safe. As I go about, 
and look and learn, I find there is much work to be 
done in all departments, in the church and out of it. be- 
fore the earth will be full of ' righteousness, peace and 

joy-' " 

Brother Ealch is writing the friend who, he says. 
heard the second sermon that he ever preached (that 
is, the first sermon out of his study I take it, and the 
man I conclude from whom he received the first money 
that was ever paid him, $4,) and says: 

? I am no longer a settled pastor, but preach as 
opportunity, offers among all the denominations: 
always my Universalism, in the true and broad, not 
the sectarian sense. I find I am more complimented 
for preaching the principles of universal love, brother- 
hood, holiness and happiness among them, than among 
our own. To them they are fresher, more attractive, 
inspiring better hopes than they have dared cherish. 
We are too indifferent, too neglectful of our great 
opportunities, and value not our blessings as we should. 
Are Ave not responsible? Everyday I am more and 
more convinced that the Gospel presented in a plain 
and simple manner without human fixtures and adorn- 
ments, theological dictum or ecclesiastical authorities, 
is needed, and is of sufficient power to unite the church 
and save the world. There is but little doubt that sec- 
tarianism, in its chamelion hues, is one of the chief 
hindrances to the union, prosperity and speedy triumph 
of the Christian church. How much better it is to have 

15 



222 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

good hearts in the people, and to teach mankind that 
an honest endeaver to gain the good and the true is 
preferable to any amount of creed we may elaborate. 
It is not through human creeds or sectarian names that 
the Kingdom of Heaven is seen coming. When will 
we come to think thus, and act accordingly ? " 

A Brother Pierce, of Providence, furnishes a good 
example of this. He tells of meeting Brother Balch 
in Florida, and as the Baptist church had been some- 
time without a pastor he took occasion to recommend 
to a Deacon "Walker of that church that he procure the 
services of this man as a distinguished preacher who had 
been settled in New York for quite a number of years. 
And so the Deacon called upon him effecting the 
arrangement, and the word was sent out to all the 
region round about. When the Sunday came it was 
pleasant, and a large congregation gathered to hear 
the new preacher. Dr. Balch was at his best, and 
went gracefully into the pulpit, and after the reading 
and singing a hymn, a fervent prayer was rendered, 
and then another hymn, when he took for his text 
" God is love,'' and for a full hour all eyes and ears 
were fixed upon him, and the words he gave forth. 
He seemed to hold the audience spell-bound, the most 
perfect silence reigning throughout the congregation. 
When church was dismissed he was surronuded by a 
large number of hand-shakers for the longest time. 
The next day he was waited upon by Deacon Walker 
to see if he could be had for further supply,or for a settle- 
ment, when Brother Balch informed him that he was a 
Universalist minister, and had preached that doctrine 
for more than fifty years. The good deacon was dumb- 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 223 

founded, and dropping his head for a half a minute he 
said, " Well, that was a good sermon yesterday, any- 
how, v and retired. 

It must be said for Brother Balch that he has helped 
to win for his denomination a self-merited recognition. 
The truth is, everybody loves Universalism just as soon 
as it is brought to them in its beauty and purity. It is 
a word that is nigh to us all. It is in our mouths, and 
in our hearts; that is, the word of faith which we preach. 
How often has it welcomed our Brother to the pulpits 
of those of the contrary part, and what a work has it 
done for us in helping to disabuse the general public of 
their erroneous opinions of the Gospel of " the grace of 
God which bringeth salvation to all men, and teaches 
us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we 
should live soberly, righteously and godly in this pres- 
ent world." 

I can not but think of him as having been raised up 
for a peculiar work, and we may properly revere the 
wisdom he displayed in adapting himself to the age 
and events amidst which he was called to act. Xo 
doubt the circumstances and time together with the 
natural goodness of his heart, had much to do in making 
him what he was, and we would not here indulge in 
the language of indiscriminate eulogy, since the parts 
assigned men in the same work are widely diverse, and 
their stations are fixed at different epochs in its prog- 
ress. The fathers in the ministry may have done, 
each and all nobly the work of their generation, and so 
far we should emulate their praiseworthy lives, and 
catch their elevated spirit; but that God, as did the 
times, called for our Brother, is sufficiently evinced by 



22 4: REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 

the fact of his coming when most needed. Xo man, I 
suppose, could commence at its close and live his own 
life over. The world can never have a second Ballou, 
or Channing, for the conjunction of circumstances in 
which each acted can never recur. The only niche in the 
temple of history fitted for such a man as Mr, Balch 
is filled, and the record or chapter sealed up. 

I find where he has written letters and essays of a 
great variety of character, and on a great variety of 
subjects. He has a letter to " The Mayor of Provi- 
dence," " To the Governor of the State of Rhode Is- 
land,' "The President of the United States," "The 
People of the United States," and " The Pope of Rome." 



CHAPTEE XII. 

JOURNEYS AND TRAVELS. 

MK. BALCII was a great admirer of nature, and 
loved the hills and valleys of his native State. 
He had a heart to appreciate the ever varying grandeur 
and loveliness which nature constantly lavishes upon 
her beholder, and it made him delight in travel where 
his soul could be feasted with landscape and beauty. 
He, himself, tells us that "Reared among rural scenes, 
with but few books, and little time to read, he early 
learned to love natural scenery." Mountains and 
valleys, meadows and forests, were always before him 
in his youthful days. At school, geography, we are 
told, was his favorite study, and books of travel he 
devoured with keenest relish. Xo doubt his desire for 
travel was induced in a measure, at least, by the beauty 
and sublimity of some of the finest scenery on the 
earth's surface, and in the midst of which he had his 
birth. And then, too, he informs us that reading the 
Bible his soul was stirred with sacred story so poetic- 
ally described, and a desire to go and see, and live and 
learn, became a leading object in all his thoughts and 
dreams. 

I may quote him where lie says : 

"In my youthful days I lived among the romantic 
mountains of my native State. My father's dwelling was 

225 



226 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

i 

situated on a hillside, with a deep valley opening towards 
the southeast, down which ran a babbling brook, while 
along the west, a mile distant, was stretched a frowning 
ridge of mountains. From the window of my chamber 
I could look far down that valley, and, in a clear day, 
see the grand Monad nock, at a distance of fifty miles, 
towering, in proud and solitary majesty, high above 
all surrounding objects. In spring and summer I used 
to see the sun rise from behind it, and I wondered 
where it came from. Close by its base lived maternal 
grandfather, who, during his patriarchal visits, often 
told us about that mountain, and the magnificent 
scenery presented to the view of one still farther away 
upon its summit. While listening to him my young 
heart burned with a desire to stand upon the top of 
that mountain and gaze over all the world, which I 
thought could be easilv done from a position so 
lofty." 

He tells us further, " I wanted to go into the world 
and see it. Every hill and tree and rock and rill and 
leafy blossom, had become familiar to me, and I longed 
for something more, and that which should seem to be 
new. "With what profound attention I listened to the 
stories of those who had been about the world, when 
they talked with ray father, and detailed what they 
had seen. 1 ' 

He had learned to love the religion of the great 
Teacher, Jesus, and the passion had grown with him 
that he must visit that land of Judea and Galilee, and 
view the places where the Saviour stood, and made 
ever memorable by His words of truth and love. It 
was his fondest dream from early boyhood. " To me," 
he says, " the most interesting portions of the earth 
were Greece and Rome and the Holy Land. Around the 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 227 

last were clustered the memories and feelings awakened 
by a perusal of my mother's Bible. Ever since I could 
read the Holy Book I have longed to go and see the 
places where were performed the sacred dramas de- 
scribed in its pages ; to climb over Lebanon, and rest 
in the shadow of its cedars ; to wander through the 
valley of Esdraelon. and among the hills of Samaria ; 
to wet my feet in the dews of Ilermon. and bathe in 
the floods of Jordan; to eat fish on the shores of Ge- 
nesareth, and drink water from Jacob's well ; to repose 
in the cave of Elijah, and gather roses on the plains of 
Sharon ; to stand upon Olivet, and look upon the joy 
of the whole earth ; to go through Jerusalem, along 
the Via Dolorosa to Calvary and the tomb of Arima- 
thea. I have studied hard to understand its descrip- 
tive language, that I might rejoice in the blessed 
truths of the Bible. To see or to touch these objects 
and find them realities would remove the last doubt, 
and every description would 'become plain and forcible, 
and seal its truth upon the heart. 

" Nor was my young ambition confined to the 
scenes of Jewry, rich as they are in the records of 
startling events, for my reading led me to classic 
Greece and the world-conquering Rome, around whose 
histories there circles a vagueness like that which has 
fallen on the land of miracles — the scene of man's re- 
demption. As one reads, he desires to see, and I 
longed to visit Mars Hill and the pass of Thermopylae ; 
to see the ruins of the Eternal City and its living monu- 
ments ; to cross the Alps at St. Bernard and hear Mass 
in St. Peter's. The more modern nations likewise have 
their attractions — their temples of pride, their galleries 



228 THE LIFE AXI) LABORS OF 

of art, their museums of curiosities, their libraries of 
printed knowledge, their old feudal castles, the work- 
ing of aristocratic institutions upon the condition of the 
masses of the people. These and a thousand other con- 
siderations whetted my ambition and led me to form a 
plan to visit the old world, which became the study of 
my days and the dream of my nights.-' 

Mr. Balch was an observing traveler. He had an 
eye for seeing, and it did seem as though never any- 
thing escaped his notice. He liked to quote the pas- 
sage of Scripture, " The eye is never satisfied with 
seeing, nor the ear with hearing." And his descrip- 
tive powers being large, he could tell you all about 
scenes he visited, and make you see them frequently 
better than your own eyes would have served you for 
such a purpose. 

He had a style of expressing himself of great clear- 
ness and force, as well as of directness and earnestness. 
The writings of such a man are all valuable. As com- 
positions alone there are few better specimens in the 
language, and their sentiment is always pure and ele- 
vating. A moral healthfulness distinguished all he 
wrote. It does us good always to read what inspires 
us with right sentiments, and he. with his enthusiastic 
love of truth and o-oodness, which runs through all his 
writings as a very high excellence, forever inspired these 
in the hearts of others. It need not surprise us, his being 
so wonderfully interesting in conversation, and in his 
lectures upon travel, there were so many incidents to 
relate of a pleasurable character that his keen percep- 
tion had caught. How many will tell you of having 



REV. WILLIAM 8TEVEN8 BALCH. ^2 ( .» 

heard some one of these lectures, or of reading them 
when published, and the pleasure thus given them; or 
how they have been charmed and strengthened by his 
marvelous utterances. Chancing to meet a friend who 
had heard Mr. Balch tell on a single occasion of his 
Oriental experiences, he declared that "his descriptive 
powers were such as to leave him without a peer on 
any platform of orators." 

He had witnessed his " holding an assembly two 
whole hours in rapt attention, and they had listened 
with bated breath to his graphic illustrations, and 
singularly felicitous descriptions of scenery.'' He 
averred that " he would take a scene from Scripture 
history, such as for instance the going up to Jerusalem ; 
or Christ before Pilate; or bearing His cross to the 
place of execution ; and draw a word-picture with such 
vividness as to make his audience see it as plainly as 
though an artist had taken his brush and drawn it upon 
canvas.'' It was the remark of Doctor Cantwell that 
a Brother Balch might leave Chicago in the morning to 
go to Detroit, arriving there in the middle of the after- 
noon, when it should be announced that he would 
lecture on that same evening in some place provided 
for him, giving a description of the many scenes and 
incidents transpiring by the way, and he would be most 
likely to collect a crowd of hearers who would listen 
with the greatest delight." There are numberless per- 
sons who have sat for hours and listened with marvel- 
ous interest to his brilliant talks of the ruined cities 
of the old world, and the causes of their overthrow and 
decay, with the lessons thence to be derived for the in- 
struction and warning of modern cities and nations, till 



230 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

they have imagined themselves on the spot, seeing 
everything just as he had looked upon them with his 
natural eyes. 

Prof. J. S. Lee, of Canton, N". Y., describing a 
scene which he witnessed many years ago, after the 
close of the annual session of the Vermont State Con- 
vention of riniversalists hoi den at Stowe, says : " The 
members of the convention and others, to the number 
of some 2,000 climbed to the summit of Mansfield 
Mountain, one of the highest peaks of the Green Moun- 
tain range. Brother Balch being present was invited 
to address them, and accepted the invitation, proposing 
to indulge in some casual remarks. But some of the 
friends urged that he should take a text, and preach 
them a sermon. This he was reluctant to do, but upon 
being further importuned he said he would gratify them, 
and announced as his text Isaiah xi : 9 : ' Get thee up 
into the mountain,' and for an hour he poured out a 
volume of eloquence, mingling instruction, anecdote, 
moral application, appeal, description and amusing de- 
tail, which delighted, entranced and uplifted his audi- 
ence to the highest pitch of enthusiasm. They de- 
scended that lofty height not simply filled with the 
wonders of that wide and grand stretch of natural 
scenery which had been spread out before them, but 
with admiration inspired by the orator's noble senti- 
ments, and matchless beauty of style. 

"In the course of his address he compared the view 
as witnessed from the summit of Mount Tabor over 
the fields of Palestine, with the scene as witnessed from 
the spot where we were standing, and presented such a 
picture as shall never be effaced from my memory. 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALGH. 231 

From that hour may be dated my love for the mountain 
scenery of the Holy Land which afterwards led me 
thither." 

He also tells that on another occasion, when there 
had been a meeting of this same State Convention *• the 
ministers met at a private house, and listened to his 
familiar talk on the Holy Land. He was in one of his 
best moods, and he painted in glowing colors his obser- 
vations and his adventures. We were all intensely in- 
terested. We sat there in mute astonishment and ad- 
miration far into the night, and did not feel the least 
weariness over his fascinating talk. I have scarcely 
ever in my life spent a more delightful evening, or been 
so highly entertained by the conversation of a human 
being. When he got into his subject he was full of 
enthusiasm, and his soul glowed as with poetic fire, and 
he poured forth a matchless stream of inspiring de- 
scription, and generous sentiment which held his hear- 
ers spell-bound. " 

Such is the expression of so many who have delight- 
ed to follow him in sermon and story and travel. A 
minister of the denomination, (himself an author) 
writes me, " I was surprised a short time since as I talked 
with him about his foreign travels, and his knowledge 
of men and things abroad. It seemed that like a Bay- 
ard Taylor, or a Humboldt, nothing could have escaped 
him which could be a matter of interest to any thought- 
ful person. And in all matters pertaining to his pro- 
fession he was equally proficient. While sometimes 
adhering to special opinions more persistently than 
others might have done, he combined the philosopher 
with the theologian in a most remarkable degree." 



232 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

Such then is our traveler, who goes abroad and 
visits also every part of his own country, to see and to 
learn as he telis us. and to be better prepared for use- 
fulness in his profession. " I go " he says, " neither as 
a philosopher, sage or poet , but simply as a plain man, 
curious to see, and anxious to learn all I can in a given 
time : not to see large countries, long rivers, and vast 
mountain ranges. These we have at home in their 
proudest splendors, save perhaps the glaciered Alps. 
I go to see what mind and toil and ages have done ; to 
trace the footsteps of humanity, as they come along 
down from the infant of days, rising and stumbling, 
and falling, and rising to stumble and fall again. 

In speaking of what it might become him to say or 
think of foreign countries, he remarks: 

" Of course I must measure everything by such stan- 
dard as I have formed, and pronounce my own judgment 
upon it. I have not gone from home to ape the manners 
of others, or to change my own notions and habits that 
they may conform to those abroad ; to be pleased with 
everything foreign, and dissatisfied with the plain, 
homespun habits of my own country. Neither am I 
to carry a bigoted attachment to the customs and insti- 
tutions under which I was reared. I should go with- 
out prejudice, and under the influence of a principle 
broad and deep, which recognizes kings as companions, 
beggars as equals, and all men as brethren. I ought 
to carry with me a disposition to study the true, ap- 
prove the good, honor the honorable, and admire the 
beautiful. 

" That I love my own country and its liberal institu- 
tions, and more and more as I see those of others, I 
will not deny, but that does not impair my judgment, 
nor blind my sense of justice to these other lands. Is 
it not the dictate of Christianity to rise above all local 



BEY. WILLIAM STEVENS I5AI.CH. 233 

and national distinctions in our estimate of right and 
wrong, of good and evil ? Is not such the dictate of 
our higher nature? I must be pardoned for any free- 
dom I may use in expressing my opinions. If 1 write 
at all. I must write as I think. I must express what 
I feel, and describe what I see." 



Mr. Balch's first considerable journeying from home 
was in a visit paid with his old friend and intimate 
companion, Mr. Havemeyer, of the city of New York 
to the then Western country, in 1842. In speaking of 
this Mr. Havemeyer says, "I again traveled with him 
in 1848, the period of revolution on the continent of 
Eurone, and arranged to visit Palestine for a short 
period, but was prevented by the troubles of that year, 
which made it difficult to go further than Rome." It 
was on his return, after spending considerable time in 
Great Britain, and Ireland especially, that his work 
" Ireland as I saw It" was written; a book of real merit, 
and full of the most interesting scenes, giving a correct 
view of the character of the people, and the causes of 
their poverty and wretchedness. Another in reviewing 
this work says, " He is very severe in his strictures upon 
the English Government, and the priesthood, and the 
landlords. The scenes of poverty described are heart- 
rending, and we should suppose would call forth sym- 
pathy enough from the English Xation to have some- 
thing done for the improvement of the condition of the 
people. The author recommends measures for educat- 
ing the people, and is confident that if all were educat- 
ed, Ireland would rise from its degradation. 

There are several things brought forward in this 



234 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

work too valuable to be passed over in silence. He 
shows what vast hordes of human beings, the children 
of the same Father of himself, and brothers of the 
same great family, are doomed to the most abject serv- 
itude by the working of a system of wrong from 
which there is no escape but by expatiating themselves 
to seek an asylum in a foreign country. He thinks it 
fortunate that they have no homes, no loved domestic 
hearths to leave behind as they skulk away, for they 
hate their miserable cabins, and the lords who oppress 
them. He is sure that there is not a link to attach 
them to their native shores, as they flee like captives 
escaped from cruel bondage, cheered for the briefest 
period it may be by the fancied prospect before them 
of comfort and competence, from which they are so 
liable to awaken in the dark, dirty lanes and base- 
ments of our cities, sorely disappointed and discouraged 
for a life-time. His remedy for it all is. that " right be 
respected, industry encouraged, innocence protected, 
and prosperity and happiness be suffered to prevail in 
all parts of the kingdom/' He claims that "the teach- 
ers of religion are under a fearful responsibility — and 
who shall escape \ He prays that the Lord may give 
o-race and mercy." 

He preaches to the people, marveling that they 
should be able to do as well as they do. but tells them 
that " they must learn to help themselves. They must 
abjure their own clannishness, repudiate their bigotry, 
and be willing to conform like good citizens, to the req- 
uisitions of free, liberal and equitable institutions. He 
admonishes that the practical doctrines and precepts of 
Christianity be brought before the people, and their 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 235 

perfect and beautiful adapted ness to all the affairs and 
conditions of men be shown, remembering that Christ 
came to establish a kingdom of holiness and virtue 
among men ; that with Him the distinctions of earth are 
nothing; that each and all are held directly and person- 
ally responsible to God for every act and word and 
thought; that the poor oppressed and outcast have a 
friend and defender in Him whose cause He will plead, 
and whose wrongs He will avenge ; that He abhors the 
forms and fashions of religion which disguise the 
truth, corrupt the heart and deceive the world ; that 
He requires righteousness in the inward parts, purity of 
soul, and a perfect life. Could these things be under- 
stood and felt, he ventures to prophesy that a most 
favorable result might be expected/' 

But then he does not forget that the chief cause of 
Ireland's insufferable misery and shame was found 
lying in another direction. " It had never risen from 
its crushed condition. The lion's paw was laid heavily 
upon it, and it writhed in agony. If it showed the 
least disposition to turn itself in order to be relieved of 
its painful attitude, the old lion growled and showed 
its teeth all sharp for destruction, and the poor decrepit 
creature laid down as quietly as it could, and licked the 
foot of its oppressor, burying deeper its miseries which 
gnawed still further into the very heart of its existence." 
There are those in England, he reminds them. u who 
would tear the whole carcass in pieces at once, and de- 
stroy it forever, making the Emerald Isle a province 
into which they might introduce colonies of their own 
wretched population. But heaven has reserved this 
country for some other end. if not for freedom and 



236 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

honor, to be as at present the manufactory of a race 
which is spreading itself like the old Teutons, among 
all the nations of the earth, for some purpose which 
shall be hereafter made manifest. But while waiting 
for their destiny, their very looks, dejected and heart- 
broken, indicate their unhappiness, their filth and rags 
their poverty. Numbers of them are seen everywhere 
idle, because there is nothing for them to do. Beggars 
are met at every turn, who promise liberally in heaven's 
name for the smallest pittance bestowed upon them/' 

" Talk of Southern slavery," he exclaims. " In 
practice it is not a thousandth part as wrong, as cruel, 
and abominable as the tenant system of Ireland. The 
slaveholder is obliged to treat his slaves mercifully, to 
provide for them in sickness and old age, and always 
give them enough to eat. But in Ireland, if the rent 
is not paid the constable is called in, and the tenant dis- 
trained, and if he cannot pay he is evicted, wife and 
children turned penniless upon the world to dig a shel- 
ter in a bog, or build one by the stone wall, and get 
his food as best he can. He is hunted out of his miser- 
able hovel as if he were a rat, and the land refuses 
him so much as a hole for a shelter. The workhouse 
is full, and the jail is a relief ; but with the slave-master 
it is his interest that the slave shall have so much care 
and quiet as shall make him health} 7- for his task, and 
render him both profitable and marketable. I abom- 
inate the American slave system from the bottom of my 
soul. What then must be my feelings in the midst of 
such scenes of wrong and suffering as abounds in all 
parts of this ill-fated country. They are indescribable. 

' Oh England, thou boasted land of freedom and 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALOH. 237 

justice, of philosophy and nobleness, of religion and 
philanthropy, English laws the models of Christian 
jurisprudence, British honor and magnanimity, spirit 
of Blackstone and Wilberforce, speeches of Peel and 
Russell, glory of Wellington, himself an Irishman, 
pride and extravagance of Victoria ! What meaneth 
these roofless huts, these starved stomachs, cadaverous 
faces, naked limbs, and scattered corpses ? Have ye 
compassion for the well-fed, laughing, singing, shining 
black men of sorrowful fate ? It is well. But remem- 
ber, charity begins at home. When you have purged 
away the wrongs and miseries of your own sea-girt 
isles, then come to our relief. But till then stand 
mute in shame. 

Mr. Balch says of all this, " I own that I have 
touched upon some delicate points, trenched upon opin- 
ions by some held sacred, and described things which 
might have been let alone, for which some will con- 
demn, and nobody praise me. It is all the same to 
me if I have told the truth. Facts will remain, and 
my opinions go for what they are worth. I gazed with 
astonishment and admiration on much I saw, and my 
heart yearned deeply over the wrongs, oppressions, ig- 
norance and misery I beheld. I saw more to approve 
in the character of the people than I expected ; more 
to lament in their condition, and more to condemn in 
the operation of aristocratic institutions. My sympa- 
thies have ever been with the common people, and for 
their sakes I ask to be heard. 1 commenced my jour- 
ney among them with a determination to pay particu- 
lar attention to the condition of the masses — to keep 
along the side-hill of life, so as to see below as well as 
16 



the life an: ulb bs 

above me, and calculate the chances for the impr* 
ment of the one, and to amuse myself with the pro 
displays of e both— 

kings and queens in the:: aces s1 

with cottiers on the banks of the Shannon : i od 

with the pe: - _ 

the lazzaroi: and I hi my estimate 

of things as they a i and in writing them 

tried to be s in details that others might 

what I - - I have felt." In th 

himself in full sympathy with the righting of 
wrongs ssing the feebler classes. 

His whole heart went out for the abatement of every 
kind of evil, for did he not have an ear f or 1 
abuses of our times, and of all tim- 

If I might enter a word here in regard to Mr. 
Balch's political opinions. I would say that he » mid 
hardly be said to have ha« isnal 

sense of the of being allied to a party, to be 

bound by the p. tics. We may claim for him that 

he was about the freest from policy or contrivance 
any man you often meet. It is true th; 
itician. as one being rsed in the science of _ 
me:.". ; ministration of national ur pub- 

lic affairs. He was indeed politic, in the betf 
of being sagac: '.is in the counse 

those who w iking to manage the affairs of si 

and society, or country. But his politics (if he ma; 
said to have had any) w _ isness, in its 

I the principles < governing and advancii _ 
welfare of a people, for which he was greatly 
cerned. 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 239 

Some have said to the writer that he was a demo- 
crat. And so he was a democrat, in always advocating 
and defending a government of the people, by the peo- 
ple, and for the people, in the spirit and principles of 
democracy and republicanism both. He believed in 
a republic, in a representative form of popular govern- 
ment in which the sovereign power should be lodged 
in the hands of the people, and the people bearing rule, 
rather than their representatives. AVe can remember 
when there were those to proclaim that most unright- 
eous principle, " Our country right or wrong," but no 
such fealty to partisan warfare was ever acknowledged 
by Mr. Balch. He would scorn to have uttered a 
sentiment like that. He was opposed to all centralized 
power taken from the hands of the many to be trans- 
ferred to the hands of the few, for them to abuse and 
to lord it over whomsoever they might choose to. It 
is noticeable that everything told of Mr. Balch points 
in one direction, showing that he was the people's man, 
loved and honored by the masses. With all his respect 
for the few, the distinguished few, he thought more of 
the many, the toiling and producing multitudes, 
wmether theirs was the labor of the hands or of the 
head. Did any one in listening to Mr. Balch ever hear 
him voice a principle in politics or religion that did 
not do honor to his heart? 

Speaking of the " Dangers of Our Republic, in an 
Oration delivered in Chester, Vt., July 4, 1857," he 
says : 

a Our real danger is in the haughty spirit of 
ambition for place and parade and preferment, creat- 
ing rivalries among veriest friends ; producing a daring 



21:0 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

spirit of speculation to obtain wealth without industry, 
honor without honesty, fame without merit. It is in 
the blind adhesion to party, names and dictation, to 
the utter disregard of the principles of natural right, 
equal justice, the convictions of conscience and the 
true interests and honor of mankind. It is in the 
willing departure from the great truths asserted in the 
declaration of American independence, upon which 
our forefathers planted the standard of liberty, and 
sought to achieve the greatest good for their country 
and the world. It is in the substitution of a pretended 
for a real love and admiration for the institutions of 
liberty and right, on the part of gambling politi- 
cians, by which the unsuspicious are deceived and 
betrayed" into the support of vicious measures. It 
is in the rapid and constant tendency to centraliza- 
tion, by the increase of political dishonesty and 
chicanery by which office-seekers and their helpers 
appeal to the lowest and basest passions to promote 
their selfish ends. It is in the low state of political 
sentiment among the people generally, or a habit of 
carelessness, in reference to the questions which con- 
cern the stability and development of our democratic 
form of government. It is in this that is our great 
and crying danger; a gross offense against the memo- 
ries of our forefathers. We have not heeded their wise 
precepts, nor followed their good examples. We have 
departed from their simple, honest, earnest mode of 
life, and preferred the vanities and tollies of a growing 
profligacy. Foreign fashions and flummeries have been 
imported, and exotic customs, and almost every species 
of extravagance have made a rapid growth in our 
exuberant love of apishness and aristocracy." 

In preaching a Thanksgiving sermon in the city of 
ISTew York, in 1814, subject " Political and Social Econ- 
omy," he tells us that "True governments never seek 
to enrich and aggrandize a few ambitious men who are 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 241 

too indolent to be useful and too destitute of moral 
principle to care for anybody but self. Christianity 

unfolds the true system of government, wisely and con- 
descendingly adapted to man's estate, and admirably 
suited to reform, redeem and exalt humanity. It is 
purely democratic in all its principles (using this word 
in its legitimate, not in its party sense), giving equal 
rights and privileges to all who embrace it. It levels 
the false distinctions of earth, and gives honor and 
praise to excellence wherever found. It humbles the 
proud and exalts the humble. It denounces vice revel- 
ling in a palace, and encourages virtue though dwelling 
in a hut. It says nothing of royal blood, noble birth, 
vested rights and tinselled dignity. It makes righteous- 
ness the standard of character, and commands truth 
and virtue as the sure avenue of true success, honor and 
greatness. Such," he tells us, " are my political princi- 
ples. My father taught them to me, and maturer 
years have confirmed me in their truth and import- 
ance." 

You find him saying, " What do our politicians but 
seek for party promotions in utter disregard of the 
principles on which our nation was founded — equal 
rights and common justice. Watch the doings of Con- 
gress and Legislatures and even courts of pretended jus- 
tice, and see how much regard is paid to equality. 
Money is voted by thousands, obtained from the 
taxes of the people, directly or indirectly drawn from 
labor, the only wealth of any nation, and given for 
what? Favoritism, position ; not for services rendered, 
such as all actual laborers are obliged to °-ive before 
receiving pay. Xo : it is to sustain the dignity of the 



24:2 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

station. From presidents downward such is the order 
of the day ; and such may be well if there is no God in 
heaven demanding justice and fraternity on earth. 
One may well doubt if such a Power is thought of 
during the session, though His presence be invoked in 
cold unlistening formality at each opening." 

Mr. Balch, in writing to a friend who was afterward 
the democratic mayor of the city of Xew York, says, 
" Our democrats must learn what democracy means, 
and make practical the principles involved in the gen- 
ius of our government. They must not get bewildered 
and lost in human plans and policies for personal party 
gains, or proceed in the wake of great monopolies, and 
financial splendors, but remember that the people 
are the basis of power, and that labor is the wealth of 
the nation. Enlightened as our people are in their nat- 
ural, political and social rights, they will not submit 
long, as in Ireland, to be overridden and oppressed b} r 
those who live in and plunder on their millions, while 
digging in mines, toiling in shops and mills, sweating 
in the fields, or working anywhere at an average of 
wages that failed to keep soul and body together. 
Communism will grow out of such conditions, and we 
can not constrain the people as in Europe. Our sol- 
diers are the people, and where is our safety in such a 
crisis ? The party that shall live must correct, reform 
and avert this danger." He then adds, " You see that 
I am at my old hobby, but I will not bother you to 
help tame the giddy beast." This is what he calls the 
democratic party, " the giddy beast." He writes from 
Iowa, "The country all this way looks splendid. The 
signs indicate abundance. The people are hopeful, but 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH . 243 

party newspapers are glum, doubting more than hop- 
ing. I do not read them enough to have a mind on 
what they say. I know what I should like to see in 
the nation — less party, and more principle. When 
shall it I)*- i " 

The chief politics of Brother Balch was in being 
opposed to aristocracy, and he was ever seeking to de- 
feat the plans of those who oppressed God's humbler 
children to advance their own selfish interests. There 
are a thousand ways in which we may belie our princi- 
ples of religious equality, and he would let no differ- 
ences of outward distinction hide from him the pure 
image of God stamped upon every soul of the race, 
but would honor all men as His immortal offspring. 
And seeing in the poorest and most despised his own 
brethren and kindred, he was ready to aid the feeble, 
resisting all wronging of them; remembering that in- 
asmuch as he did good to the least of his brethren, he 
could be counted as doing it to Him who was the friend 
and brother of all men. Rooted and grounded in the 
truth that man as man, man universal, man everywhere 
was his brother, to be counted and honored as a broth- 
er, in all laws, and all governments, he essayed to re- 
spect him as such in all those relations and capacities 
in which he was called to act toward him. reo-ardin^ 
the rights which others had to whatsoever aid his 
hand could afford, as sacred and inalienable. 

In this was seen one of the prime excellencies of 
Brother Balch, and never did he appear to better 
advantage than when pleading for rules and regula- 
tions which were based in good, and to be used for the 
people's sake, and in educating and lifting up the mass 



2ttl THE LIFE AJs T D LABORS OF 

of mind. It does not appear to whom he is writing, 
nor does it matter, so long as the sentiment is' what it 
is, that "Xone are to be loved and respected more 
truly than the humble, patient laborers, who, under God, 
produce what they possess, to work their own way 
through life, and to be the architects of their own 
fortunes. l$o matter whether they are high or low, 
rich or poor in pelf, conspicuous or humble in position ; 
they are surely the upper circles in the order of nature, 
whatever the factitious distinctions of society, fashion- 
able or unfashionable, may decree. There may be 
those to clutch and call their own, what rightfully is 
not theirs, and wrench the hard earnings of sacrifice 
and self denial; and so manage and monopolize these to 
themselves, while others are prevented, though vastly 
more wortlry, from shaping the richer bounties of the 
beneficient Father. The history of the world, sacred 
and profane, is full of facts, illustrations and command- 
ments, teaching such things. Ruins scattered all over 
the old world, demonstrate the need of right views and 
right conduct by the rich and the poor, the strong and 
the weak, the wise and the simple, in church and State, 
and in social and domestic life. He is a fortnnate man 
who heeds not the un brotherly distinctions of the world, 
who envies not the rich, nor neglects the poor; who 
covets not promotion without merit, nor approves of 
indolence, worthlessness and wickedness anywhere, but 
in whose pure and liberal soul dwells the love of God 
and man to guide in the regulation of conduct, and the 
formation of character. He alone is the happy man 
who lives a good and useful life, in humility, peace and 
good will to all men. Is there not work enough to be 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 245 

done in such a cause ? Most is to be done among the 
rich, the great, the noble — as they are called, and too 
often think themselves more highly than they ought to 
think — the wrongers and oppressors of their fellow- 
men." 

He asks in one of his letters to an unknown person, 
" By what means do some become so immensely rich 
and powerful in so short a time, and lifted up above 
their fellows? Are they wiser and better, or more 
industrious and economical than others? Or are they 
wickeder, more cunning, crafty, unscrupulous and pre- 
tentious, than plain, honest toilers, who are willing to 
live among men, and let others live with them on terms 
of equality and fraternity. Thank God, such can eat 
with no more relish, sleep no more soundly, nor enjoy 
the world to any better advantage." He then adds, 
after very much more of the same general character: 

"I did not start to write so serious a letter, but these 
thoughts flowed into my mind, and now it is written, I 
have concluded that I will not throw it away, but let 
you have it as it is. It w r ill enable you to know r some 
of the things I am thinking about. What I have seen 
in my travels, and all the way as I have gone along, is 
a too strong confirmation of the evils complained of by 
so many. Persons who twenty years ago were so hon- 
orably employed, have swollen into millionaires, twen- 
ty to forty million strong, and live in half-million 
palaces that outpass in splendor, most of those of the 
princes of Europe." 

He brings this all home very closely to us, by speak- 
ing of the great city of New York, where he tells us 
he spent seventeen years of his manhood life, and had 
watched its changes and growth of pride and luxury 



246 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

since 1825. We have his estimate of town and country 
life. He says: " I am no admirer of large and crowded 
cities. I believe they exist and nourish in derogation 
of a sound philosophy, and the will of God. The whole 
manner of city life is becoming little else than a system 
of false pretenses from highest to lowest, with its 
gambling houses, billiard saloons, grog-shops and broth- 
els, which drum for customers to the lowest pits of vice, 
poverty and degradation, which fester in the damp cel- 
lars, dark lanes, rear buildings and horrid purlieus of 
all large cities. Where are decencies and proprieties of 
life so outraged as in our cities and large towns? 
Where are mobs, murders, riots, thefts, drunkenness, 
harlotry and lawless living, most common ? Where are 
reforms most difficult, crimes most successful, vice 
most unblushing, and virtue least courted? The 
adao-e is, ' God made the countrv, but men made the 
town.' It may be said productive labor dwells in the 
country, while traffic is confined to the towns ; though 
such remark is not literally true, for there is much pro- 
ductive labor in the great city, and not a little traffic 
in the country. It is a plain truth that the source of 
all true increase is in labor. 

Trade really produces nothing but an exchange of 
commodities. He who buys property for a particular 
sum, and sells for ten times as much, may be called 
lucky, but he adds nothing to the amount of wealth- 
But he who buys a piece of land and makes it produce 
ten times as much by his own labor, has so enriched the 
world by nine. He who digs from the mine a piece of iron, 
takes from the forest a tree, and makes therefrom an 
article of use, comfort, or even beaut v, has added in 






KEV. WILLIAM si EVENS BALCH. 247 

the same way to the sum of human enjoyment. But 
he who only handles the earnings of others, and that 
often only in imagination, may enrich himself some- 
times very rapidly, but he impoverishes others to do 
it. He puts nothing in the common fund. 

Xew York has lived and thrived on commerce. 
The few have grown immensely rich, the many terri- 
bly poor. The proportion holds good, for the law of 
production and increase is inflexible. Those who keep 
in small dark rooms in Wall street, and traffic in trade, 
make fortunes most rapidly. They can show no visi- 
ble, tangible substance, but grow rich (and become 
poor) on fancies. TThat do they to enhance the good 
of mankind? Thus, from the humblest producer in the 
rudest way, to the most refined and arch speculator, 
even on the prospective results of other's labor, there is 
a gradation regulated by a law just as marked and 
sure as can be found in any other department of social 
life. It is a happy consideration that here, as every- 
where, God bears rule, for although merit may seem 
sometimes to be unrewarded, while fraud triumphs, yet 
the judgment comes at last. The law of compensa- 
tion is not suspended. Each shall find his due. " The 
wrath of man shall praise Him. 

"A terrible illustration of these simple but sadly 
neglected truths is in the process of completion in New 
York to-day. The blow has fallen first and heaviest 
on those who trafficked off their integrity, selling the 
small commodities they had of manly principles to 
secure the favor of barterers south. They now taste 
the bitter results of their mistaken deeds. Is not God 
just I And such as participated with them have not 



248 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

escaped. Such, too, is the law of trade. Credit based 
on paper, and the exhibit of names is not a sure sup- 
port in time of trial. It is going to heaven by proxy. 
Principal and proxy both rejected. 

" In one sense it is sad to look on the dissolutions of 
men's fortunes — hopes ail destroyed, prospects all dark, 
courage clean gone. It is like a sweeping scourge. 
But the " curse causeless does not come." It is the 
remedy for evils grown chronic, and he must be a 
poor scholar who will not profit thereby. I wander 
the streets as I do through the chambers of a hospital. 
All are sick — some growing worse, a few improving, 
but all anxious for the crisis. Those recovered may be 
as imprudent as ever, though now they promise better 
fashions. The evil is malarious and contagious, vac- 
cination is not a sure remedy. A full return to a 
legitimate business, honestly and honorably pursued, 
not the sacrifice of every thing to " make haste to be 
rich," but a steady, gradual increase to acquire a 
competence for a comfortable life and a fair generos- 
ity — not a princely palace and all extravagant luxur- 
ies — this will, in due time, remove the evil, and lay the 
foundation of personal and general prosperity. Let 
the wise take heed and triumph." 

After so much we can scarcely fail to understand 
how it was in perfect accord with the character of Mr. 
Balch, having imbibed the principles of personal lib- 
erty, social equality and mutual responsibility, so far 
as both religious and political rights were concerned, 
to identify himself in the affairs of Khode Island with 
what was known as the " People's Movement." Bound 
up with the affections of the masses, how could he be 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 249 

otherwise than interested in sympathizing with them 
in their trials and deprivations. There could scarcely 
be a more unrighteous thing than the Charter, or Grant 
of King Charles II., requiring a real estate qualifi 
cation to become a citizen and voter. It is put forth 
by Mr. Balch in " A Brief Account of the Cause, and 
the Methods Adopted to Obtain a Republican Constitu- 
tion for the State of Bhode Island," that t; A man 
might be worth a million dollars of personal property, 
and be one of the best, wisest, and most patriotic of 
inhabitants, but he was not a free man any more for 
it. He tells us that ifc the price of freedom at the time 
to which reference points was 8134 of landed estate. 
With that a man, and his eldest son could vote, 
but without such qualifications no man could vote, hold, 
office, sit on a jury, be tried by a jury of his peers, or 
collect a debt without a landholder to back his writ, 
and yet was compelled to pay taxes equal to others, 
and do military duty without his consent. The ratio 
of representation was wholly arbitrary, and it wrought 
the disfranchisement of three-fifths of the American 
citizens residing in the State. A man could be a citi- 
zen of the nation, but not of Rhode Island, without 
buying the right. Xone were born free but the first 
son. All others were aliens — political nobodies." 
Such were some of the anti-republican principles and 
disabilities which the people of Rhode Island were 
laboring under at the time their troubles were brought 
on, and yet entitled to a republican form of govern- 
ment, according to the Constitution of the United 
States, and as much guaranteed to them as to any 
other State in the Union. He asksthe question, "Why 



250 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

should the provisions of a charter, granted by a Brit- 
ish King, which of course ceased to exist from the 
time the Constitution went into operation, defeat all 
the rights of the people I He wished it to be remem- 
bered that up to ISil Rhode Island had no sort of 
constitution to alter, amend or abolish. The supreme 
power, till the colonies broke away from Great Brit- 
ain, was in the King. And the abstract question when 
stripped of all mystification and misinterpretation he 
tells them " is simply whether the sovereignty itself, 
which is no longer with the king of England, resides 
in the Legislature, or does it go to the people to be 
exercised through its delegates \ " 

Brother Balch was of the revolutionists' opinion, and 
stood nearly alone of all the ministers of Providence, 
combating any opposite idea. " The principles con- 
tended for and sought to be established by the citizens 
of that State, the right of the people to rule, and de- 
termine what the government under which they lived 
should be, was the fundamental doctrine," he tells us, 
upon which the national existence was based. Every- 
body but anarchists and aristocrats admitted this fact. 
Deny it, and we had nothing left to characterize us 
from the governments of Europe, nothing worth the 
blood and treasure spent to liberate our country from 
foreign dominion." Rhode Island was under a landed 
aristocracy, and how to obtain the advantage of 
having their liberties guaranteed to them, became the 
great question seeking a solution. 

Their cause, therefore, was legitimate, and peace- 
ful, as well. Brother Balch at least was a peace man 
from principle, opposed to war under all circumstances. 



REV. WULLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 251 

He was a man of peace, as he was a man of God, and 
with the war spirit he had nothing to do but to rebuke 
it. He taught that war was not only a calamity, but 
a crime ; and the whole tendency of his ministry was 
to bring it into merited and lasting disgrace. He be- 
lieved in the doctrine of O'Connel, the great Irish bar- 
rister and reformer, that " Xo change whatever was 
worth a single drop of blood." He was opposed to 
war, to capital punishment, and every engine of cruelty 
and oppression, as being opposed to the spirit of the 
age, as well as to the instructions of Christ and His 
apostles, who taught that we were to bless those that 
curse us, and do good to those that hate us, that we 
might be the children of our Father which is in heaven, 
not being " overcome of evil, but overcoming evil with 
good." He had no favor for any of these wrongs of 
society, and it seemed to him that the} r ought not to 
be tolerated in a civilized communitv. He ever taught 
that patience would better accomplish the cure of any 
evil, than the commission of a wrong. A strong gov- 
ernment with him was not an unjust and tyrannical 
government, but one fostering liberty and conscience, 
rather than soul- tyranny. It never should exist but 
with a high degree of freedom. He looked forward to 
a day when love should emerge from passion and hate, 
and kindness be recognized as the sovereign of power ; 
when the graceful forms of humanity should have ar- 
rested victory from the dominions of ignorance and 
barbarism, when affection should occupy the throne of 
fear, the arts of peace become the business of life, and 
fraternity the watchword of joyous nations." We can 
then understand how it should be told us that " he had 



252 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

a great abhorrence of lawsuits tending to keep men at 
variance with each other, and that he was instrumental 
in settling several suits of long standing while preach- 
ing to his parish in Ludlow, Vt." 

No one could ever suppose that there was anything 
in the life of Mr. Balch to encourage litigation, or a 
military spirit, and when the authorities of Rhode 
Island grew alarmed at the mad spirit that was rife in 
their midst, he was pleaded with, and had to be called 
in to quell the rashness and violence which their own 
misconduct had evoked. The people were gathered 
largely in a hall in Providence under the greatest ex- 
citement, and all parties came to him to urge him to go 
and see he could not quiet the agitation. To this he 
consented after much importuning, telling them that 
they had to submit to be ruled by a minority, as they 
could not hope to resist the whole military force of the 
nation in its guarantee to assist in the overthrow of the 
people's constitution. In hearing that some were pro- 
posing physical resistance, he assured them that he 
" would rather such weapons were sunk to the bottom 
of the Narragansett than to be used in such a cause." 
His advice was, " Continue to pursue a peaceful, per- 
suasive course as they had done from the beginning, 
pleading their natural and inalienable rights, and they 
would triumph at last. The fairer minds would seethe 
justice and righteousness of their cause, and history 
would finally do them honor." 

There was no other course for them to pursue, with 
the opposition controlling all the machinery of the Gov- 
ernment, and having all the prestige of authority and 
power. And more than all, Mr. Balch was a moralist, 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALOB 2.V5 

and not a politician, and he could not forget his voca- 
tion. It may be said of him that he has always had 
certain great principles of right to which he has ad 15 e red 
independently of party considerations, and he has hern 
too firm in his judgment of men and measures, and 
what was right, to conciliate politicians. 

Mr. Balch, in concluding an oration given in Paw- 
tucket, R. I., July 4, 1S39, the subject of it, " Individual 
Freedom the Foundation of a Democratic Government,'' 
utters such sentiments as these : 

" The true value of our republican institutions 
will be fully known; their rich blessings will com- 
pletely unfold themselves and be duly appreciated 
as soon as men become lovers of God, truth and 
principle, more than lovers of pleasure, self and 
party. When all our citizens will return to the patriot- 
ism of our fathers, and be willing to let the majority 
rule without. a clamorous denunciation of every man, 
and every measure which does not tally precisely with 
their own infallible right to dictate ; when the minority 
will labor to correct abuses, not by denunciation, in- 
trigue, or stratagem, but by an open exhibition of cor- 
rect principles and superior wisdom and virtue: when 
in short, goodness and truth shall receive the just meed 
of honor, and the love of self, the love of sect, the love 
of party, be merged in the love of country, and the great- 
est good of all, then will the banner of liberty wave its 
rich folds over all the nations, giving peace and freedom 
to all. Xo foul stain of party slander, or factional dis- 
cord, will then dim the fair fame of the nation of the 
free. Violence will no more be heard in the land, nor 
wasting and destruction be in our borders. The East. 
the West, theXorth.the South shall be enfolded in one 
warm embrace. Men of virtue and intelligence, of 
quality and decision, the chosen of the free, shall sit 
in state, and rule in righteousness, enjoying the respect 
17 



251 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

of each and of all. Our country will rise to the acme 
of its true glory, and sit enthroned in the respect and 
praises of the whole earth." 

I will, of course, be accredited with having rambled 
widely from my subject, which began with Mr. Balch's 
first visit to Europe in 1848. But in 1852 he was 
asked by two men, not of his church, with whom a 
third afterward joined, to go abroad if he wished, 
with his pulpit supplied at home, and full permission 
and means to journey as far, and remain as long as he 
pleased. He was wise enough to accept the generous 
offer, and traveled extensively in Europe, extending 
his journey to Palestine, across the desert and through 
Egypt to JSTubia. The person accompanying him in 
his first tour to the old country, tells us that " In the 
month of June he set sail on the steamer Arctic, with 
several young men under his charge, and entrusted to 
his care, as guide, tutor and protector'.' 

It was in setting out upon his former journey to the 
Old World that his reflections were made known to us 
as being of the following character : 

" My favored time has come at last ; the preparation 
has been made, and my ship, the 'Siddons'. is floating 
on the bay, waiting for wind and tide to carry her out 
to sea. The last words have been spoken ; the last look, 
the last signal given. I am leaving wife, children, 
friends, church, country, duty ; no, 1 will not confess 
that, for it is the better to discharge duty that I have 
essayed to make real the dream of my life ; to see and 
touch the places and things made sacred by the tran- 
sactions recorded in the Holy Book. I am wanting to 
see and learn all I can, to gratify my long-desired wish, 
and to refresh my memory in these after years of the 
things which I read in my childhood life." 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 255 

So now, in his " Xotes of a Pilgrimage through 
Europe, to Egypt and the Holy Land," he is not with- 
out his reflections. His letter on the Arctic at sea, 
opens with the words: 

ik It is over, home is behind me again, and the coun- 
try of my hope and desire before me. I am both sad 
and happy at parting, but expect to return better quali- 
fied for my arduous professional duties. I shall no 
doubt see and experience much, and it will be an event- 
ful year, and may God spare my life and bless me in 
giving me a joyful return. But before all that shall be, 
what deeply interesting scenes are to pass before my 
eyes, beautiful, romantic, grand, beyond any pen to 
describe/' 

As he continues to write after arriving in the Old 
World, he is left to wonder that any one '-should 
depreciate the blessings of republican liberty, and wish 
to live under a monarch} 7 , that they might have an es- 
tablished aristocracy, a court, a born nobility, and ranks 
and grades to keep down the rabble." 

He leaves the reader to sketch in his own mind the 
scenes in Ireland which he had passed over four years 
before, and says he " looks for nothing of special inter- 
est in that direction." Of Scotland the limits of this 
book do not permit me to more than mention it briefly. 
He says : 

" It has its peculiarities, its attractions, its faults. 
In scenery it is beautiful, romantic, in a certain degree 
grand. Its heathery hills, tumbled together carelessly 
and in great disorder, skirted about their bases with 
sweet sylvan lakes, or gorged by deep glens and almost 
insuperable passes, afford a novelty and va riety at 
once pleasant and astonishing. But it has more of 
beauty than of grandeur, more to please than to as- 



256 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

tonish. And one feels more of quiet and contentment 
than when roving among the Alps. 

"The fault of Scotland is its bigotry. In religion, in 
politics, in social life, there is a looking to the past for 
a standard, while materially and physically everything 
is steaming forward. In enterprise it does not lack at 
all since the days of Watt and Bell. But in loyalty to 
kings and creeds it is wofully behind. Bereft of their 
own nationality, reduced to being the province of a 
haughty rival, Scotchmen have forgotten the past, and 
learned" to love the government that has conquered 
them. This may be well, for thereby the feuds and 
fights which hinder the progress of the world are re- 
moved; the expense of one royal family saved, and a 
chance given for the pursuit of the arts, peace and social 
prosperity. I can not object to that, but rather honor 
those who yield a king and court. But when they 
look at these things and say, ' no further,' they mis- 
take, for the wrongs, the misrule, the oppressions of 
an established aristocracy, a native, a foreign, a born 
nobility, can not abide forever. The day of redemption 
draweth nigh, when the old shall pass away and the 
new be come in ; when stars and epaulets, crowns and 
garters, shall no longer entitle a man without merit to 
10,000 acres of God's earth, while the honest, toiling 
laborer plods a whole life-time for a poor and precari- 
ous livelihood. In this respect I had rather hear the 
shout, " God bless the people," than hear them sing, 
' God save the Queen.' The learned, the free in 
thought, the active in enterprise, are generally on the 
side of freedom, and hence there is hope. The large 
soul brooks no restraint. It wall be free. I wonder 
at Scotland lying back so far from the reforms of the 
day. It may not in reality, but it does in pretense. 
The theology of John Knox, with all its iron incrusta- 
tions, its chains and back straps, is still abiding, though 
few in fact do really wear its fetters. Still there is 
this fault; to adjure that faith is to enlist hostility and 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 257 

pass into the ranks of infidelity. So truly is this the 

case many suppose that to doubt, where they can not 
understand, is to be actually inlidel. Hereby great 
injury is done to the truth, and thousands are kept 
back from the blessed light, hope and bliss of Christ- 
ian it v. because tbev can not see it as Calvin and Knox 
did." 

Mr. Balch makes his way hastily along, mentioning 
places of note, arriving and departing from London and 
Amsterdam, across the channel, landing at Dover, and 
thence to Ostend, and a ride to Antwerp, and afterward 
to Brussels and to Rotterdam. He thinks it hardly to be 
expected that he should be detained to mention numer- 
ous places by the way. and even Germany and Switzer- 
land are cast in the shade by the Holy Land, which is 
now the chief object of interest. He more than men- 
tions some of the places through which he is passing, 
such as Milan, Leipsic, Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden, 
Vienna, Trieste, Venice, etc., and stops to make reflec- 
tions upon the griefs and burdens of the people. " I con- 
fess my confidence in men is almost daily weakened," 
he says. " I am sorry it is so. But what can we do with 
the examples piled up before us? Can we turn from 
them? They meet us on every side. The past is full 
of them, and the present has its quota. I have wished 
a thousand times that I could shut my eyes to them, 
and be joyful and happy as others; that I could see no 
errors, no cause of complaint, but all bright, and fair 
and hopeful in the present and future of my race, it 
would be such a relief, so pleasant, so perfectly delightful. 
I have tried to look on the fair, and bright and beau- 
tiful. I have traversed fine cities, gazed on the grand 
in architecture, admired the beautiful in art, and con- 



258 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

suited the wisdom of sages. What does it all avail so 
long as the myriads of God's children live in hovels, 
half starved in the rags of misery, and ignorant of the 
truth that maketh free indeed ? 

"Deem not that I am all sad or discouraged. I am 
not, but hopeful as ever. Cheered by the light of that 
blessed faith which sees in God a universal Father, in 
humanity a common brotherhood, in heaven a final 
home of freedom, love and bliss, I look upon this 
deathly stillness, upon these rustling commotions, and 
secret sighs, as one gazes from the mountain top upon 
the hills and valleys below him. Providence employs 
means which often seem strange to us — sometimes 
totaly inadequate." 

He ever thought thus, and still would grow tired 
of looking upon all gorgeous scenes, and thinking how 
it was with the people, what were their conditions and 
prospects, and how they fared in body and soul. 

•* * * * k •* •* 

In crossing the Adriatic on the steamer Germania, 
bound for the Orient, they first touched Corfu, passing 
along the coast of Arcadia, and were next in Athens, 
the ancient capital of art, of eloquence and oratory. 
Hurrying on they leave Athens after the shortest stay, 
making for Smyrna and Constantinople, and soon are 
at Beirut, in Syria. 

" At length my feet," he says, " have trod the soil 
of Terre Sante, and wild and confused thoughts run 
through my brain. Another dream of my life has 
become reality. I could not sleep last night. I rose 
at one, and again at four, and watched for the day, till 
soft glimmerings of the earliest dawn stole through 



REV. WILLIAM 8TEVEN8 BALCH. 259 

the valleys, which indent the summit of the loftiest 
range which seemed to rise directly from the sea. I 
hoped to see the sun climb up its pathway in oriental 
skies, resplendent in all its glory. But as the stars 
grew pale, dark clouds stretched a thick veil along the 
horizon and spoiled the grandeur of the scene. 

"Another day and I have sat under the shadows of 
the cedars of Lebanon, and, starting some minutes in 
advance of the rest, I have ascended the last rise of 
Lebanon alone, and the view is magnificent, sufficient 
to repay my toil. Later, and I have been at Nazareth, 
to the top of Tabor, and to Tiberias, bathed in the sea, 
eaten fish from its pure waters, walked where Jesus 
walked, and taught and blessed its inhabitants. Oh, 
could I feel as He felt, live pure as he lived, and in all 
things say ' Thy will be done ! ' If there is any spot in 
nature beautiful — grandly, harmoniously beautiful — it is 
from Xazareth by Tabor, along the sea of Galilee. 
What more delightful spot as fit for the transfiguration, 
than the top of this mountain ? Nazareth is one of 
the largest ruins of Syria, next to Beirut and Jerusalem. 
The land is all very well. It is a goodly land as of 
yore. But the people— there lies the fault. I looked 
on the barrenness of soil. In this I am disappointed. 
There is vastly more cultivation than I expected ; but 
the people are more ignorant and debased ; more neg- 
lectful of all the arts and improvements, and comforts 
of civilized life than I thought it possible for any cor- 
ner of the earth to be. Poor deceived humanity, the 
Lord have mercy upon it ! 

"But I must sleep and rouse myself early for tomor- 
row, for my i>yq* are to behold Mount Zion and 'the joy 



260 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

of the whole earth.' I am to enter the gates of Jerusa- 
lem, and look upon places of all others dear and sacred 
to the Christian. I will not anticipate impressions, 
but sleep and dream, and awake to behold what my 
eyes have long desired to see. One great fact has 
been settled in my mind since wandering through 
Palestine— its capacity to maintain the large popula- 
tion said to have once lived in it. It is indeed a beau- 
tiful and wonderful land. The soil is everywhere very 
rich, and singularly adapted to serve man's comfort. 
The sky is so serene and pure that one beholds a beauty 
which Italy can not equal. I have never seen a spot 
of earth more charming, more perfectly beautiful, 
than about the sea of Gallilee. Standing upon the 
summit of Mount Tabor, a panorama, vast and splendid, 
is presented to the eye, which no spot on earth can 
equal. The scene is so perfectly harmonious that one 
can not wish it improved. It is not so majestically 
grand as places in Switzerland. It is not so vast as 
our prairies of the West. But all is beautifully com- 
bined. 

" But Jerusalem, what shall I say of it ? Here, 
after all, is the spot most sacred and memorable of any 
on earth. Sacred, yet it is not sacred. The desola- 
tions of 1,800 years, the present poverty, ignorance and 
misery proves it is not sacred. But it is hallowed by the 
deepest affection, by the highest hopes, by the proudest 
triumphs the earth has ever witnessed. It must be 
ever dear in the memory of all believers. Nobody in 
the least familiar with its history can pass through its 
streets unmoved. I sit and think, and in my sadness 
I almost wish I had not come here ; that I had never 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 261 

looked on this desolation, darkness, death ; that I had 
never known so much of the mystery of iniquity which 
works by monkish superstitions upon the poor credulity 
of the simple-hearted- — to palm upon them studied de- 
ceptions, to keep them enslaved in the manacles of 
error and ignorance, and hold back, if possible, the 
world from its progress toward the high destiny to 
which Heaven has appointed it. It is so sad to see, 
here, in this city of our God, where Jesus taught and 
suffered, and died to save the world from deception, 
error and sin, and restore it to purity and perfection, 
so many evidences of a people cheated of those excel- 
lent lessons ; to see here the curse of sectarian rivalry, 
put forth in all its strength and subtlety by the inter- 
ference of a Moslem civil power averse to all Christian 
ethics. 

' ; Let not the believer be anxious to visit this land ; 
or let him come here and look at the real condition of 
the people, and feel a twinge for the wrongs of 
humanity, and then set about an inquiry into the causes 
of this backwardness in everything, this look of dejec- 
tion and poverty that stares one in the face at every 
turn, and he will find, not in the soil, not in the 
climate, not in the naturally indolent constitution of 
the people, the reason for this state of things, but in 
the selfishness, pride and arrogance of the church, by 
which even the State is controlled. It is as men are 
taught to think, that they are. 

" There are sights one sees which he can not describe. 
There are thoughts stirring the depths of the soul which 
can not be uttered. But a feeling of sadness comes 
over one, occasioned in part by the disappointment that 



262 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

is met with everywhere. But I am glad to have been 
here, that I have looked on the desolations of this nat- 
urally beautiful land. Nay, I rejoice at the very ruin 
I see. and more, that scarce a spot can be identified so 
as to become sacred. The Moslem has his Mecca, the 
Jew his Jerusalem, but the doctrine and spirit of 
Christianity is universal. It is neither in Gerizim nor 
Jerusalem that men must go to worship, for • God is 
a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him 
in spirit and truth." and • In every nation he that 
feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted of 
Him.' Neither God nor Christianity can be localized. 
A shudder runs over me when I look on attempts in 
churches and galleries to represent the Universal 
Father. A similar feeling is a wakened when I visit places 
claimed to be sacred. To see none of these did I come 
to Jerusalem. But I did expect other emotions than 
those I feel, and so I am disappointed. * The Jerusa- 
lem that now is. is in bondage with her children." and 
how can a soul that has tasted • the liberty where- 
with Christ hath made it free." be thrilled with 
joy at the near view of such a bondage. IN"o, 
the spirit of God and Christ is not in any one place. 
it is nut in any temple human hands may rear, but 
in every true, honest, Christian heart. It is in all 
the earth. I weep to see men and women, and chil- 
dren, kneel and bow and kiss a stone, a fragment 
of cloth, or a piece of wood. All these things are pain- 
ful to me : I can not endure them. I turn and go away 
in pity, almost in disgust. But I see in Christianity, as 
taught by the great Master, a power that is to correct 
all this. My faith grows stronger every day. and I am 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALOH. 263 

more than ever thankful for the broad and compre- 
hensive views revealed to us in the Gospel, and more 
than ever impressed with the necessity of presenting 
them among men. A more liberal spirit is to go 
abroad in all the earth. The world must be civilized ; 
it must be Christianized and redeemed. All fetters 
must fall off. The prison doors are all to burst open, 
and the captives to be set free. It will come. In God's 
time it will come, and that will be soon enough. Amen 
— let it come. But I must go." 

And he now sets out for his home, unable to sup- 
press his emotions as he gazes for the last time upon 
the scene he is leaving behind. He could not tell why, 
but it was so that he wept, as if parting with the dear- 
est friend. As he went on his way, his heart beating 
heavily, he was in a mood for poetizing, and he writes 
the following : 

CKOSSING THE DESERT. 

A special doggerel, written on the back of a camel, while 
crossing the desert from Palestine to Egypt, and read to the party at 
an evening encampment: 

Travelers from my native land, 

Pilgrims o'er this burning sand, 

To kill the tedium of the day, 

And while the hours move swift away, 

I sing to you this jolting lay, 

Poor scribbling of a shaking hand. 

With Ardbs for a guaranty, 
Of Hadjis any quantity, 
Fifteen in our own merry band 
From Britain and the Yankee-land, 
We make a splendid caravan 
Of wandering humanity. 

We've doctors, lawyers, pastors here, 
Of danger who has need to fear? 



264 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

A Wolverine of gold to tell, 
Three youngsters who can buy and sell, 
Three dames, and four chere demoiselles 
To keep us all in right good cheer. 

Of camels we have forty four, 

And horses six or seven more, 

Eight tents, with beds and stools and dishes 

For soups and prunes, for rice and fishes, 

(Who cares for poverty and riches?) 

With a desert for a floor. 

So far there has been no contention, 
Tho' some have murmured at detention; 
With dragomen we're well supplied, 
And cooks whose talents have been tried 
On kids and chickens, baked and fried, 
And plates too numerous to mention. 

Here no one has satiety, 

Nor bother and anxiety, 

Of traveler's woes tbVbitterest dreg 

But cakes and kids and chicks and eggs, 

And scorpions of forty legs, 

To add to the variety. 

All ranged, we slowly pass along, 

Amoodish, merry, motley throng; 

Some read, some chat, and some are thinking, 

Some scold, some eat, and some are drinking, 

The young, may be, at others blinking, 

Or join the loud and laughing song. 

Then he tells us something of 

DESERT LIFE. 

A life on the desert is no life for me; 
The wild wastes so barren there's nothing to see; 
The sun shines too brilliant, too constantly bright: 
There's no hour of comfort but the dark hour of night. 
Yet the desert has lessons by which to improve — 
There's misery below, bliss and beauty above. 
While passing through one and bearing the bother, 
'Tis best to be patient, and hope for the other. 
A few days' endurance and all will be o'er, 
The desert behind us, the sweet Nile before; 
The lone land of Bed'weens, and Jackalls' alarms. 
Exchanged for green fields and the shadow of palms, 
So when done with the ills, temptations and strife, 
Which throng on our paths in the desert of life, 
May me meet in that world where no sorrow is found; 
But love, joy and praise immortal abound. 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 265 

It was while here that they held a Christmas serv- 



ice, and sung 



A CHRISTMAS HYMN 



Which had been suggested by seeiDg the Morning Star rise over 
Bethlehem. 

A star shone bright o'er Bethlehem's plains, 

Blessed herald of Immortal birth ! 
And angels sang in heavenly strains, 

Good-will to men and peace on earth. 

From that lone star a Light went forth 

To banish sin, a world to save: 
To scatter blessings south and north, 

And burst the barriers of the grave. 

The blind have seen, the deaf have heard, 
The sick been healed, the lost been found, 

The dead been raised, the sad been cheered, 
And blessings spread the world around. 

Shine forth, bright Star, disperse the clouds ! 

That shadow still this sinning earth ! 
Let men arise, come forth in crowds, 

And glory in immortal truth ! 

During the last few years of his life, having now 
given up the care of a parish, and with a wonderful 
love of travel, as also in the way of health-seeking, he 
made several visits from home to California in 1880, 
to Mexico in 1881, to Colorado in 1882, and to Florida 
in 1882, 1884. and 1887, besides other visits paid to 
ISTew England and the Middle and Southern States. 

Of Mexico he says: " We have seen and learned 
much, and enjoyed considerable. Few of the comforts 
of travel enjoyed in our country, we may say, are found 
here. The traveler who would be wise and profit bv 
what he sees must make up his mind to take things as 
he finds them, and not complain because they differ 
from the comforts and customs of home, else he may 
make himself and all about him, needlesslv miserable. 



266 THE LIFE AND LABOKS OF 

As he can not control the world, it is wiser to resolve 
to make the best of everything, a doctrine not very 
inappropriate anywhere. 

" The City of Mexico is decidedly one of the most 
romantically situated of any I have ever seen, Naples, 
Constantinople and Damascus not excepted. To jot 
down all one sees and hears and learns, so unlike any 
in our own country, would be a long and laborious 
task. To one familiar with cities and customs of the 
Old World, all is plainer and more easily compre- 
hended. Mexico is not an American city in its char- 
acteristics. It is an exotic, imported from Spain, and 
bears a near resemblance to its Moorish relations. The 
visitor sees and feels at every turn that he is in a for- 
eign land. Yery few things will remind him of his 
own country. The look and language of the people, 
the streets and houses, churches and state buildings, 
carriages and horses — everything is to him unique and 
strange. The cookery and service is as unsatisfactory 
as anj^thing he encounters. To describe the condition, 
character and manners of the people would be no easy 
tasks. 

u The gathered multitudes in the market, in the 
streets, in the churches, in the plaza, anywhere and 
everywhere, present pictures of variety from the ex- 
tremest poverty and almost nakedness, to the richest 
attire and gaudiest display seen in the richest adorn- 
ments of the churches and decorations of the officiating 
priests, the latter surpassing Rome itself. Men are 
seen staggering under heavy burdens borne upon their 
shoulders — wardrobes, bureaus, counters of stores, 
square blocks of stone for buildings, large jugs of 
water laid upon their hips, held by broad straps around 
their foreheads, with another smaller jug hanging in 
front from the main strap as it passes by the neck ; 
bales and boxes of goods, and women with baskets and 
bundles on their heads, showing there are two-legged, 
as well as four- legged beasts of burden. But after all, 



KEV. WILLIAM STEVEN8 BALCH. 267 

Mexico is a fine city, and the most grandly situated in 
its surroundings of almost any I ever saw. Short in- 
terviews with the more intelligent confirmed me in the 
faith that Mexico is started on the high road of perma- 
nent advancement. It will take a long time and much 
effort, to bring this singular compound of humanit 
into the full enjoyment of equal rights and universal 
liberty and fraternity. It may be a long and hard 
road to travel, but it is confidently hoped they will 
reach it ere long, and together share all the safety and 
blessings that belong to a true democratic republic." 

Of Florida he has this to say : " It is Florida, and 
not much else. It is not a paradise, nor a very near 
approach to it. It boasts of its climate, which is in- 
deed xei-y delightful for comfortable invalids, and for 
those who would escape the rough winters of the 
North. Facts prove that it is more sought for pleasure 
than for health, and most for profit by those who come 
to settle. Orange orchards are the rage, and those who 
have patience to bide their time, and learn the business 
well, reap handsome profits afterward. On the whole, 
Florida has many advantages to satisfy the emigrant 
who would make it his home. It has a fine climate, 
cheap lands, good timber and water ; and for the pru- 
dent liver and worker, a fair chance for good health 
and comfort. But it is flat, has many sluggish rivers, 
much poor land, large swamps, and of course is subject 
to billious diseases, fevers, etc., where the people are 
imprudent. It is a delightful region for winter resi- 
dence. Hotels of first quality and highest prices, and 
lodging houses are numerous, and some very excellent. 
Having tried both, I am confident that for health and 
quiet comfort, Florida is superior to Italy. It has not 
the scenery, antiquities and works of art found there, 
yet there is a uniqueness and wierdness of romance 
here that is found no where else. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

HOME LIFE AND VARIED EMPLOYMENTS. 

Mr. Balch was happily married twice — in the years 
of 1829 and 1856. His first wife was Adeline C. Cap- 
ron, who was born in Winchester, X. EL, and his sec- 
ond, Mary A. Waterhouse, born in New York City, 
both of them estimable women. The number of his 
children born to him in all, was eleven, eight by his 
first wife, and three by his last, only six of the former 
wife's surviving at the time of his death, and two of 
the latter's,Clarence dying in 1864, Charles in 18T2,and 
Elena in 1876-. He had also eleven grandchildren, 
and two great grandchildren, neither of which he ever 
saw, the first being born only a few short weeks, and 
the latter coining as a little stranger to be telegraphed 
to him, but three days before his death. He had a 
frugal, but welcome home, and a ready s} r mpathy with 
all worthy virtues, and all good energies. I will not 
intrude into the most sacred and intimate of his domes- 
tic relations, since silence and imagination can alone 
picture his fidelity there, but I may be permitted to 
refer to the singular faithfulness and persevering exact- 
itude with which he ever performed the duties of a 
father and careful provider, being kind, thoughtful, 
tender, affectionate, indulgent, doing everything possi- 
ble for his family, and cherished and loved by them as 
we can not tell. 

268 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 

He was a great favorite of the children of his home, 
and of children generally, participating in all their lit- 
tle sports and amusements ; and there was no limit to 
the ingenuity, variety and ease with which he sought 
to give them pleasure. He seemed to always keep 
young and playful with them, frequently catching 
them up and swinging them over his head, and running 
up and down stairs with them, which made him the best 
of company with the young as well as the old. He 
knew nothing more holy than the heart of an innocent 
child, and loved the gush of its guileless glee. How 
else shall we account for the following poetical effu- 
sion, written off-hand, at a time when his afternoon 
nap had been disturbed b}^ the prattling of an infant 
grandchild which had been born into the home, and 
was with its mother in the room above him % 

There is a baby in the house, I ween, 
As bright, as sweet, as ever yet was seen, 

I hear it laugh ; I hear it play. 

It chirps, and prattles all the day ; 

And helps to drive dull care away, 
That home is happy now. 

The mother's heart, though youDg, is full of joy; 
The father's glad to fiud a new employ; 

Both cLeery with their new-born love ; 

An angel sent them from above, 

Delight in duty's path to move, 
For life is real now. 

That heart is sad indeed which never felt, 

Tight drawn the silken strands which form the belt 

Of social life, and help to bind, 

The noblest passions of the mind, 

A happier state on earth to find, 
A universe of love. 

As rays of light that center in the sun, 
As drops in rills that to the ocean run, 
So all that is, or was begun, 

18 



270 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

Shall, when the perfect work is done, 
Unite, and happy be in one, 
In the great God above. 

He believed that we commit not only an error, but a 
most grievous moral wrong, when we check the child 
in its glow of natural playfulness. The thing was to 
see that this exuberance, or outburst, was guided aright. 
He was always glad at their gladness, and enjoyed 
spending days in giving them cheer, and assisting to 
make them happy. 

I shall never forget a circumstance that transpired 
at the dedication of the church at Scotland, Windham 
County, Conn. Bro. Balch was brought on from New 
York City to preach the sermon, and the church was 
filled to its fullest capacity, clear to the entrance way. 
A woman with a babe in her arms was at the very cen- 
ter of the crowd, with no chance to gain an exit, and 
just as the sermon was proceeding in its best vein, her 
child set up crying at a terrible rate. The woman, 
greatly disturbed, could find no way to still it, and 
she knew not what to do. There she was with the 
painful situation confronting her. As soon as Bro. 
Batch's attention was drawn to the anxiety of the 
mother, he stopped, remarking that he never saw the 
time when he would not much rather hear a child cry 
than to listen to the piping of the most musical hand 
oro-an he ever heard in his life. In turning his attention 
in the direction where the child was, it seemed to take 
in the situation and stop crying, as though itself had 
been spoken to, and was comprehending the full pur- 
port of the words. The mother was so grateful to 
Bro. Balch as to wait (though a perfect stranger) till 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 271 

the crowd had dispersed, that she might meet him and 

thank him as she passed out at the door. 

With his views of childhood the Sunday school 
picnic was made pleasant to him, and he made it a 
point to be always present at such gatherings of the 
children. You never would know but he enjoyed it as 
much as they did. Many of us have witnessed him run- 
ning and laughing and playing like a boy. He indeed 
sought to give pleasure to everybody, adapting him- 
self to all kinds of society. 

I find our Bro. Eddy referring to this after the fol- 
lowing manner : 

"I remember him as very accessible to children 
and very much loved by them. His interest in the 
Sunday-school is well remembered, and to him I think 
we are indebted for what is now known as the Sun- 
day-school Concert, originally called the Sunday- 
school Exhibition; the first of which was given in 
Providence. R I., during the pastorate of Mr. Balch. 
about forty-eight years ago. It was then regarded 
as a great, if not dangerous innovation, and was de- 
nounced by the so-called orthodox as introducing the 
theatre into the church. About the same time Mr. 
Balch arranged an excursion and a picnic for the Sun- 
day-school, which was probably the first attempt at 
what is now so popular in all the sects; it was then looked 
upon as a very vicious thing, a frivolous use of precious 
time." 

It was about this time, in 1839 , that he prepared 
and published his Sunday-school Manual, the first of 
the kind ever given to the public. The history of its 
origin I learn was this : He was to exchange with 
Hosea Ballou Second, and was told that he would have to 
lead the prayer of the Sunday-school, or write a prayer 



272 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

for the superintendent to read, and out of it came this 
publication. lie wrote it while in Providence, and was 
discouraged by brethren from ever publishing it, but 
afterwards did publish 30,000. It contains about all 
that any of the later manuals have brought out. It 
can not be denied that Mr. Balch always loved children, 
and that there was always a sensitiveness with him 
about being supposed to grow old. He intended to 
keep himself always young in spirit, as the years should 
come and go. 

Towards the close of his life he had repeated family 
gatherings; and on the occasion of his seventy-fifth 
birthday, not only the various members of his immedi- 
ate family, but other kindred and friends were collected, 
to nearly a hundred, and never was he made more 
happy than on such occasions, for his heart was full of 
filial and fraternal affection. If presents were not con- 
sidered generally in order at such festivities, this event 
was seized upon to make him the recipient of a valua- 
able gold watch from Elgin friends, and at the banquet 
given him in Chicago five }^ears later, at his eightieth 
birthday, a gold-headed cane. 

* * * ■* -* * 

We have marked him as a man of varied employ- 
ments, and greal versatility of talent. We have no 
one in mind, and are quite sure we have never known 
the person, with a greater variety of gifts, capable of 
being made available in so many different ways. He 
was constantly forming new plans, and engaging in 
new duties, which bore almost uniformly the character 
of usefulness. His life was full of striking incidents ; 
and in this way has he built for himself a monument of 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 273 

enduring praise. Unceasing activity was one of his 
chief characteristics, and it was impossible to meet 
him without feeling his earnestness of purpose, and his 
determination to work, hour by hour, and day by day, 
to accomplish all the good he could. His habits of in- 
dustry and perseverance were simply marvelous. Call 
upon him when you would, you would always find 
him doing something 1 in the way of cultivating his 
grounds or making repairs about the premises, or he 
was reading a book, preparing a sermon, or writing an 
article for publication which he wanted to show you ; 
ready to turn aside for a social call, and entertain you 
as interestingly as though he had never anything else 
to do. 

He was certainly a busy man in his home. There 
was no spark of idleness in his nature. It could be 
said of his life that it was full of work ; that it was 
busy all through it, and that he was alert on some duty, 
and in spurring others to duty. His advice to his stu- 
dents was, Always keep the barrel full, and then when 
you tap it it will be sure and run out. 

It did seem as though he knew how to do every- 
thing of the common kind, as well as the best. He 
could tell you in what way to cook a meal of victuals, 
and accomplish all kinds of out-door and in-door matters, 
from the making of a book-jack to the repairing of a 
watch, and the regulating f a steam engine; but he 
sought most of all to cultivate the activities which find 
expression in doing needful things. 

He was never the man that wanted to be waited 
upon. If anything needed to be done, he knew no 
other way than to go right about it and do it : always 
willing to do more than his part in everything. 



274 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

He found greatest delight in reading and medita- 
tion. He had but little time for desultory or promiscu- 
ous reading, but perused with deep satisfaction all use- 
ful and profitable works that came within his reach, as 
promising to add to his information ; to suggest 
thought, or to elevate and ennoble his mind. His aim 
was to discharge every duty that would aid his fellow 
men, as far as circumstances would allow, and never 
lose an opportunity of doing good. 

There are very many traits of character for which 
Brother Balch was distinguished, without some men- 
tion of which any sketch of him would be singularly 
incomplete. Of course we can be expected to mention 
only a small part of these, and multiply them as much 
as we will, there would be still those to say: We could 
have told you of many more. To let one who was 
invited to his bedside during his last illness, as also to 
speak words of commendation and comfort at the 
last parting farewell, give expression to his own 
thought of his general mental and moral characteris- 
tics, it would be to say, " I have regarded him as a 
clear writer, an eloquent preacher, a faithful pastor, and 
a most careful observer of men and things, and events- 
He was simple in his tastes ; modest in his demeanor; 
honest in all his dealings with his fellow men ; catho- 
lic in his spirit, and consecrated to the mission of 
making men better. "Wherever he found grace of 
character he greeted it warmly, and applauded it. 
His esteem for manhood and womanhood, transcended 
all sectarian limits. The real breadth of good which 
he achieved cannot be easily measured." Another 
puts his estimate in this way: il He was a good man : 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 275 

a great preacher; a zealous Christian, a broad thinker, 
a friend to all humanity, a leader in every good word 
and work. He exhibited a clearness of mind, a 
soundness of judgment, and an acquaintance with all 
the great subjects of thought and interest that are 
commending themselves to the respect of the wise and 
the good." And without assuming the office of coun- 
sellor or advisor, or appearing to know that he had the 
capacity for imparting information, or of especially ex- 
erting influence in any direction, he was constantly 
dropping precious words, and useful hints, conveyed in 
varied manner and thus helping others to help them- 
selves. He was frequently applied to by young and old, 
as one possessing admirable wisdom ; inspiration, in- 
formation, insight, and ripeness of soul. And by 
virtue of these he knew how to admonish, and did not 
hesitate (in deeming it necessary) to reprove. He was 
ever thinking how to do good, and in what way his 
ministrations could be made most useful. In this he 
displayed the same excellent traits which distinguished 
him in every field in which he wrought. 

It is no small compliment to him to say. that while 
he was a good preacher, he was also a good hearer ; 
that he was equally as good a parishioner as pastor. 
We might presume it a somewhat difficult thing for 
an aged minister, after preaching many years, and re- 
tiring from the office of preacher and pastor, not to 
assume superiority among the people, from his long 
and varied experience. The force of habit, the con- 
sciousness of an unimpaired interest in his work, and 
the continued esteem and confidence of friends who 
remain as cordiallv attached to him as ever, all con- 



276 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

spire to make him reluctant to leave the field in which 
he has so delightfully labored. To be willing to re- 
sign the place to another, and that, too, gracefully, 
with commendable meekness, is evidence of a 
right religious temper. But all who have known Mr. 
Balch will bear witness that he left the pulpit for the 
pew in a way to command respect, and set a bright 
example to all others. I may quote here the words of 
Brother Alcott, the Elgin pastor, given at the time of 
Brother Balch' s Memorial Service appointed for the 
Fox Kiver association. His words are : 

" It has not always been found an easy matter, after 
a man has been a good and eminent pastor and 
preacher to become, when his work is done, also an 
eminently good parishioner. This latter character im- 
plies other and additional rare qualities. It implies an 
utter absence of self-conceit. It implies a disposition 
to help in the best possible wa} 7 a fellow- workman. It 
proves an enlightened and exquisite sense of all fine 
proprieties and courtesies of such a situation and such 
a relation. 

* * * * # * 

" The first time I ever met him on coming into this 
field, I felt that I had met a noble, royal soul. I never 
had the slightest reason or occasion for mod ify ing in any 
adverse respect this opinion. On the contrary, many 
things transpired to confirm, to strengthen it. I had 
no fear of him. At his hand I met with the heartiest 
kind of a welcome. He impressed me at once as hav- 
ing, not a selfish, but an unselfish nature ; as having, 
not a cold, but a warm heart; as having, not a narrow, 
but a broad mind. 

* * * * * * 

" What kind of a parishioner was Dr. Balch ? A 
model one ; a grand one ; one who was trusted and 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 277 

honored and loved ; and one whose matured views 
were most helpful on the many and varied subjects of 
work and doctrine. His pastor, whoever he might be, 
could feel that back of all his earnest, honest efforts in 
the work of the parish he would find tins father in 
Israel, encouraging, approving, helping-, saying a good 
word — always! His was no lnkewarmness, no indif- 
ference, but his were ever the heartiest of wishes and 
helps. His pastor could never have a suspicion of 
whispers by him behind his back, and he would never 
happen on any traces of words spoken to his disad- 
vantage in his absence. He could never feel that this 
distinguished preacher, and practicer of the gospel as 
well, was capable of this ; but would feel that himself 
and his interests were as secure in the hands of this 
true friend as in his own. This is rare merit. Or, if it 
be not rare it is at any rate glorious merit." 

We account for this in part by saying that he had 
none of the airs of superiority. He never sought for 
prominent positions among his brethren, or to take any 
high seat in the synagogue. You never thought of 
him as putting on airs, or doing anything for effect. 
Try and conceive of him as making a display of him- 
self in any role in which he might appear to his fel- 
lowmen, and you will discover at once its impossibility. 
He was always just what he seemed to be. There was 
no ostentation in anything he ever did. He gave the lie 
forever to all false pride, refusing to tolerate anything 
of pompousness or parade. If he was ever ambitious, 
his ambition had in it no taint of envy. Had he been 
a proud man he would have coveted honors, but he was 
a plain man without anything of pretension, and may 
be considered as having had a perfect horror of every- 
thing artificial, of all show, and sham of every charac- 



278 THE LIFE AND LIBORS OF 

ter. With all his splendid gifts, it ^ill not be said that 
he ever sought to shine. He looked upon a large share 
of the fashions and foibles, as well as the glitter and 
glamour of the world, as the things that were gone 
into to please a false taste, and he had to think of theni 
as heartless mummery. 

It was this simplicity of character that made you 
feel perfectly at ease in his presence, introducing him, 
and making him welcome in all classes of society. He 
would come into your home, and it would seem as if 
you had been acquainted with him for years. And it 
was this also that gave him his aversion to all high- 
sounding names, and titles of honor and distinction, 
which so illy comported with the primitive equality of 
souls, and the common brotherhood of believers, and 
which partook more of the spirit and distinctions of 
the world than the humble spirit of Jesus; and the 
honor which comes from men more than the honor 
which comes from God. He was of the opinion that 
plain " Mister " was the best possible designation which 
Christians could properly employ as a title of honor or 
respect, with but one exception — that of " Brother." 

It was the Institution at Canton that bestowed on 
Brother Balch what is considered the honorary degree 
of D. D.. the first ever conferred upon any one by it, in 
recognition of his valuable services rendered in behalf 
of the Institution and the church; but it was never by 
any understanding with himself, and he never accepted 
it. It was a thing that, could regard have been paid 
to his feelings, would never have been. I find in his 
scrap-book where the D. D. has been attached to articles 
sent for publication, and in preserving these it has been 



REV. WILLIAM 8TEVBN8 BALCH. 279 

erased, or crossed out with pencil mark. One of the 
two or three last sentences he caused to be written, is 
the following : Calling his wife to his bedside, he re- 
quested her to pen among other things for the benefit 
of his brethren, the words, " Suppose the Popes, Cardi- 
nals, Archbishops, Bishops, Lord Bishops, and all the 
retinue of Clergy, in their richest and gayest robes of 
attire, had appeared at the Last Supper on Mount Zion, 
would Jesus have accepted them approvingly, and be- 
stowed upon them the heavenly bendiction ( " He was 
sure he would not, till they were first denuded of some 
of their trappings, and had become of a very different 
spirit. 

I had started out at one time to make a chapter of 
his miscellaneous poetry, but found that while he wrote 
with greatest ease, and gave evidence of abundant 
poetic talent, and had written more or less of good 
poetry, yet for some reason, either that prose was more 
suited to his original taste, and he conceived less pleas- 
ure in poetic composition, or he had not the time for 
weaving his words into rhymes, and marshalling them 
in a manner that they might be made to jingle; for 
these or other reasons, his talent for versification had 
not flourished equal to his zeal for many other things, 
and instead of a department for his museful flights, his 
lyrical indulgences have been scattered throughout the 
volume to do service wherever they might. It will be 
acknowledged that, for the most part, Brother Balch 
wrote practically, but never prosaically, even when 
treatiu^- of the gravest of matters. He could not ex- 
cuse himself in what was liable to be regarded as an 
attempt at display. His effort from his earliest years 



280 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

had been to devote himself to schemes of usefulness ; 
to spread goodness and happiness everywhere around 
him. and to leave in every community in which he 
might reside the impress of a most rare influence, doing 
service to his kind in all natural, easy and helpful ways. 

It has seemed to me that the true manliness of 
Brother Batch's character has stood very largely in the 
naturalness, and simplicity of his demeanor, together 
with a disinterestedness and fraternity of feeling, such 
as are rarely found combined in any one person to the 
same extent. 

I am not presuming that many have ever thought 
of Mr. Balch as a diffident man. and yet I must tell the 
reader, that, with my large acquaintance with him, I 
have often wondered if he was not thus ; especially 
when it came to estimating the value of his own abili- 
ties and labors, a thing which he never got entirely 
over in his long life. I have always observed, when 
praising some effort of his, that he was almost sure to 
laugh away the point of my criticism, and he would 
not leave the subject till he had depreciated himself 
and his effort to the last degree. Xot that he shrunk 
from the performance of any duty, when it came to be 
viewed in that light ; but, meeting him in public, he 
never impressed you as a bold person, or as possessing 
a self-satisfied confidence ; but there was a kind of 
natural reserve, a retiring and unassuming modesty, 
often a hesitating, and waiting to be relieved, and 
letting others say the thing which was required to be 
said, if they would. Making the inquiry of his com- 
panion more recently respecting this, to know if T was 
right in it. she assured me that I was. though con- 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 281 

vinced that it was in part a concealed aversion to 
flattery, which was liable to be mixed with the praise 
that was bestowed, and for which he had nothing but 
the most utter detestation. We may all have a desire 
to be thought well of ; and most persons who have 
lived long and well, and labored arduously in building 
up a character for themselves, find it pleasurable to be 
had in grateful recollection as we may presume, and 
wish to be loved for their work's sake ; but we can 
hardly think of Brother Balch as ever having sought 
adulatory honors. His reputation was a matter of 
greatest worth, but always came to him by merit, 
without any seeking of his own. He never went after 
it, and was singularly chary of the language of vague 
eulogy, as he would have been of an overweening 
effort or straining for applause. 

But without an opinionated self-confidence he was 
capable of knowing what the actual labors of his life 
had been. We have from his pen a partial summing 
up of his work. He ventures to tell some things he 
has done the first forty years of his ministry, and 
shows that he has been a pretty hard-working and 
poorty-paid preacher. "I have preached," he sa} T s, 
" 7,149 sermons, 25 at the dedication of new churches, 
19 at ordinations, and 215 at public bodies. I have at- 
tended 1,372 funerals, sometimes as many as ten in a 
single week, and three on Sunday. I have married 
1,25S persons, and prepared 23 \oung men, in a poor 
way, for the ministry. Nor have my labors been con- 
fined to my own societies. Xever neglect i ng them, I have 
traveled abroad into other fields where work was 
needed for the upbuilding of the cause, and no matter 



282 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

where I have gone, I have carried the same broad, 
truth-loving principles of Christianity. I have traveled 
and preached from Canada to North Carolina, from 
Cape Cod to St. Louis and Minneapolis, under the 
shadow of the Alps, and on the desert of Arabia. 
Outside of the ministry, but in keeping with its spirit 
and intentions, I have lectured in many of the states, 
giving 11 Fourth of July orations, 1,259 lectures, be- 
sides agricultural addresses, temperance, anti-capital 
punishment, political, war, benevolent and other 
speeches without number. I have traveled twice over 
Europe, allowing no object of interest to escape me, 
from the West of Ireland, North of Scotland and Den- 
mark, to Damascus and the Cataract of the Nile. So 
far as I have kept the account, outside the ordinary 
movements about home, the sum is over 150,000 miles. 
One scarce knows what he has done till he counts up 
the sum. I have found and proved the truth of the 
Scripture, ' Life is full of labor.' It is also full of won- 
der. Without its doings it were little in fact, and less 
in worth. 

" In addition to what is here narrated I have done no 
little service in actual work for the denomination and 
for humanity, devoting much time, thought, care and 
labor for years to establish our theological school in 
Canton, and make the Christian Ambassador, of New 
York, a denominational paper. For twelve years I was 
engrossed in its management, planning and carrying it 
forward to a sound financial basis, which, starting only 
with borrowed capital, redeemed itself in eight years 
and paid 7 per cent on the investment." 

We have a more full account of this in another con- 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 283 

nection, where he tells us that ''finding the Ambassa- 
dor embarrassed and burdened with debt, under the 
fostering care of a devoted brother (Philo Price), and 
various attempts having been made to enlist the press 
in its defense on a free, broad basis, without success, 
while it was yet struggling for life, and was about to 
be transported to Boston, that good brother, O. A. 
Skinner, came to me with a proposition that Ave join 
hands to save it. After some hesitation I consented, on 
the condition that money should be raised to pay for 
it, and that no debt should be incurred to carry it on, 
so it could never fail. AVe succeeded far beyond our 
expectations. It sustained itself and afforded a small 
revenue. Brother Skinner removing to Boston, Broth- 
ers Hallock and Lyon became partners with us, and 
principal managers. Brother Hallock wearying of the 
burden from ill-health, a joint stock company was 
formed to purchase the concern, with the express con- 
dition that whenever the original price and 7 per cent, 
interest were offered the shareholders we should surren- 
der it to the State Convention. In eight years it paid 
for itself and went into the hands of the denomination, 
with cash and subscriptions due amounting to over $10- 
000. It had bought up the Magazine and Advocate, a 
paper in Rochester, another in Pennsylvania, and paid 
for them." 

But few are aware how much he did in this w^ay, in 
the earlier days of the demonstration ; and vet, besides 
it all, he says, " I have done some work with ray pen 
in religious, secular, and literary publications, with a 
view to the defense of truth, and increase of knowl- 
edge, and been engaged in works of reform and phil- 



284 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

anthropy all my life, to some small benefit, I trust, to 
suffering humanity. My old friends must pardon me 
this egotism, as my most direct way of stating the 
truth. I am growing old, and I have a right to be a 
little fogy and garrulous." 

This, recollect, in 1867; but at the time of his death, 
twenty years later, as he states it himself, he had at- 
tended 2,671 funerals and solemnized 1,438 weddings, 
for you have to remember that he is speaking of the 
first forty years of his ministry, and he lived to do act- 
ive service for a large part of twenty years after; 
and it is safe to say that the number of his ser- 
mons and lectures alone could not have fallen Tnuch 
short of 10,000 or 12,000. It was impossible to keep 
an exact account of all these in the later 3 T ears of his 
life, as he had commenced to do earlier; for he would 
be called to go to numberless places, here and there, on 
excursions, and visiting faiends, and would be expected 
frequently to lecture and preach a half dozen times, 
which he would fail to note at the instant, and then on 
returning home the number had been borne from his 
mind, and so he abandoned the thought of keeping 
them, for w4iat he could not do well he would not do 
at all. On leaving his home simply to spend a night, 
there would be more or less of those who would think 
that they ought to have a sermon from him. Go 
where he would, he was just about sure to get into 
somebody's pulpit and be found preaching the glorious 
Gospel of the blessed God, when many other ministers 
would receive no such attention, and would be at a loss 
to understand how it eame about. There was no way 
of knowing, only as he had come to have such a wide 



EEV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 285 

reputation, having friends in all parts of the country, 
and they all eager to hear him preach, or to listen to 
one of his inimitable lectures. 

A most remarkable circumstance of his life, was his 
being called to such, distances to attend funerals and 
weddings, the former especially, to the Eastern, Mid- 
dle and Southern States, seven times over 300 miles, 
five times a thousand, and once 1,700. Nor must we 
forget that in addition to all this arduous labor, besides 
his books to which reference has already been made, 
and, not to mention other publications, his orations 
alone are full twenty in number, upon such subjects as 
"Political and Social Equality," " Popular Liberty and 
Equal Rights," "Individual Freedom the Foundation 
of Democratic Government," "Romanism and Repub- 
licanism Incompatible" (a lecture delivered in the 
Broadway Tabernacle, April 5, 1852, in Review of the 
Catholic Chapter in the History of the United States, 
as written by the Rev. John Hughes, D. D., Arch- 
bishop, of New York). Besides all these he was ex- 
pected to find time to give everybody a portion of his 
society. 

We have his declaration as follows: — 

"A review of these forty years has proved to me 
that such labor is not in vain. Go where I will I am 
pretty sure to meet glad hearts who, with a smile, tell 
me that my poor persuasions have led them to think, 
examine, and, by the grace of God, to believe and 
rejoice in the great salvation. This is my abundant 
reward. 

" In all these years God has not forgotten me, but 
been gracious unto me, above all I had a right to 
expect. Though the compensation for regular preach- 

19 #• 



286 " THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

ing has never supported me and the large family God 
has given me, yet 1 have had enough of worldly goods 
and tokens of affection to make me grateful to my 
friends ; and enough of strength and privilege to work 
outside, and earn and lay by for future needs, without 
impairing my usefulness or wronging any man in name 
or property. I have sought to be strict, but fair and 
kind in all my intercourse with the brethren, keeping 
no cloak for any sin short of repentence, but always 
ready to forgive and love. 

" The love of God, as revealed by Jesus Christ, has 
been the great theme, the central idea around which 
all my thoughts and purposes have revolved, embracing 
all truth and goodness, and encouraging every reform 
which seeks the elevation of mankind to the level of a 
common brotherhood, emancipating from all evil, and 
the establishment of universal holiness, peace and hap- 
piness in subjection to the will of God. 

" I have always looked to One as my Master, and 
tried to teach his religion of love, peace and salvation, 
free for all men ; I have sought to cherish good will 
towards all men, and to do good, reprove and rebuke, 
where it seemed needful, with all long suffering and 
doctrine. To me the blessed truth, committed in some 
sort to our keeping and defence, is more precious than 
ever before. I have seen its blessed fruits so cften and 
so abundant in meeting and relieving the wants of 
mankind, that it pains me to see any deviations by 
following the rudiments of this world, to gain for it 
popularity, or to gratify the pride of human hearts. 
There is something so sweet and beautiful, so com- 
forting and joyous in the meekness and simplicity of 
Christianity, that the adornments of pride and power of 
man's wisdom does but mar it, bestowed in any form, 
or in any measure. Let us "holdfast the profession of 
our faith without wavering." 

A rare commendation may be claimed for him, that 
he did not seem to abate his activity with the coming 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 287 

on of age, as so many do. He sought to keep up his 
acquaintance with passing events till the last, and was 
even familiar with all the new modes of modern thought 
and feeling of the day. He kept all his faculties bright, 
and was read}' to respond to every call, so far as he 
could, to the last. He was not the kind of man to lie 
down and rust out, so long as there was any spark of 
original vitality in reserve to draw upou. There were 
so many pressing duties lying near his heart, that he 
might be said to live for, and which his existence was 
bound up in, that to retire from activity with any stock 
of vitality unexpended, seemed to him ungracious and 
reprehensible. His w r as such an all-absorbing purpose, 
that it was with sorrowful regret that he could lay 
down his toil, and wait his mysterious transit, even 
while he must have known that the larger work of his 
life was done. 

It may be said that such was the generous devotion 
with which Bro. Balch gave himself to his work of 
whatever character, and the enthusiasm he would 
awaken in its behalf, eminently adapting him to arouse 
the slumbering energies of the people, that important 
trusts w^ere ever confided to his care and management, 
and he was always found fully equal to the demand 
that was imposed upon him. 

His success must have been particularly great in all 
general matters for him to be able to say, " I never 
set my heart on doing a thing without accomplishing 
it," as he did on the Wednesday previous to his death, 
which occurred on the following Sunday. And in view' 
of this, what could be more beautiful than a congrat- 
ulatory telegram, sent to his home in Elgin by a daugh- 



288 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

ter then living in Brattleboro, Vt., received and read 
while celebrating the 75th anniversary of his birth, a 
quotation from words spoken by the prophet Hezekiah. 
" In every work he begun in the service of the house 
of God, and in the law, and in the comandments to 
seek his God, he did it with all his heart and prospered." 
If he entered upon a thing he carried it out to the end. 
Almost to the same effect is a testimonial from the pen 
of Bro. Francis. " I recall how glad I was when I 
heard that Bro. Balch was chosen as agent in raising 
the funds for our first Theological school, for I said to 
myself, now I am certain of its successful establishment, 
as the event afterwards proved." 

Perhaps his great work was his financial achieve- 
ments in the part he contributed to found and endow 
St. Lawrence University. Bro. Atwood, writing to the 
committee for the getting up of the reception given to 
Bro. Balch in 1886, says, "We 'do not forget that he 
occupies a foremost place in the group of honored 
brethren and fathers whose foresight and industry es- 
tablished the Canton Theological School, and made 
possible the St. Lawrence University. And Dr. Adams, 
in his " Fifty Notable Years," tells us how completely 
the '* business capacity- of our brother was evinced in 
his raising funds for that institution, taking charge of 
the location, as well as the plan and rearing of the 
buildings, and selection of the Principal to preside over 
it." He moreover gives the account of his "afterwards 
completing the raising of a large fund for the institu- 
tion, obtaining also $10,000 for the library and securing 
the valuable libraries of Dr. Credner and Rev. F. C. 
Loveland." 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 289 

I find where be tells us about this himself; bow the 
work was started, and carried forward to its completion. 
He says: 

" It fell to my lot to do much work for the school. 
The thought was to provide the means for the bet- 
ter preparation of young men for the ministry of the 
great salvation — not to build a sect after the fashion of 
the churches, or to cramp the mind into a creed or form 
after man's construction, to make a part appear greater 
than the whole. I secured the title to the land, twenty 
acres, that students might present their bodies a 'liv- 
ing sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, a reason- 
able service,' according to the terms of subscription of 
Mr. Greeley and others. I drew the plan and specific- 
ations of the building, made nine journeys, all but one 
without expense, to see that all was done right. When 
completed, on the recommendation of Hosea Ballou 
Second. I procured the appointment of Rev. Ebenezer 
Fisher for Principal." 

He does not fail to remind us of some of " the sad 
disadvantages and discouragements under which he 
labored, and that no one but himself and his God ever 
knew what he endured when so few of his brethren 
came to his help.'' But his thought was to "resolutely 
do his duty, putting in all his strength against delays 
and hindrances, determined that the enterprise should 
carry if it was a possible thing." The offer was made 
to him of ten per cent, of what he should raise for a 
part of his work, if he would but assist to relieve the 
institution in its later embarrassment, but as he had 
formerly accepted of no compensation, and only a part 
of his real expenses, deeming it wrong to make mer- 
chandise of work in such a cause ; so now he resolved 
to enter the field and do the best he could, agreeing 



290 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

upon no terms of payment, only receiving for all his 
arduous labors and trials what he actually paid out, 
" the sum of 304 or 403 dollars." 

Dr. Lee, of the University, writes the committee in- 
viting him to attend the reception given in honor of 
Brother Balch in Chicago, " I was glad to hear of the 
reception, and to receive your invitation to attend it. 
I am profoundly grateful to him, for he did more than 
any other individual to establish, and permanently en- 
dow our Theoligical School. The school, during its 
twenty-eight years of life, has sent out hundreds of 
ministers well equipped for their work, and for this we 
are largely indebted to him, and I wish, through you, 
to present to him our grateful acknowledgements." 

To this he adds in a later communication : 

"He toiled amid opposition, indifference and oblo- 
quy ; but succeeded in raising money sufficient to keep 
it in successful operation ; and with the assistance of 
other friends of the school laid plans for securing funds 
to meet its future necessities, so that its existence and use- 
fulness were made permanent ; and for this he received 
the hearty thanks of Dr. Fisher, the first president of 
the school, and others, professors and students, who 
were aware of his labors in its behalf, and the sacri- 
fices which he made to sustain it. It may safely be 
said that had it not been for William S. Balch, this 
Theological school would not now be in existence." 

He continues : 

"In June, 1884, Dr. Balch and Mr. F. C. Have- 
meyer, who constituted the committee that located the 
school nearly thirty years before, were present at the 
annual exercises, and took an active interest in the ded- 
ication of Fisher Memorial Hall, which transpired 
June 28, 1883. Mr. Balch was then seventy-seven 
years old, but spoke feelingly and eloquently, with all 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 291 

the animation and enthusiasm of his youthful days, 
concerning the early history of the institution, its pro- 
gress, its influence and present needs." 

My heart has impelled me to say more at this point 
than I otherwise would have done, as there are those to 
feel that full justice had never been done Mr. Balch in 
this regard. 

Such, then, was the varied working talent of our 
Brother. But few men in any generation have per- 
formed a greater number of useful labors, or won the 
sincere regard of more hearts than he. And still, Avhat 
I have chronicled gives but a feeble view of his wonder- 
ful fertility of conception, and the manifold incidents 
of his busy life, or of the great variety and amount of 
his achievements and productions. All will have to 
agree in this, that his life has been one of great faith- 
fulness; that he has emphatically lived to the end of 
serving humanity as best he could; and that he has only 
left the world for his works to praise him, and his conduct 
to define his character. He has gained a reputation for 
practical wisdom, genuine goodness and helpfulness in 
every varied field of human effort which the proudest of 
his kind might well envy. 



CHAPTER XV. 

DISINTERESTEDNESS OF CHARACTER. 

Mr. Balch was of a most unselfish spirit, always 
sacrificing for others, and endeavoring to do some- 
thing to make them comfortable and happy. His 
thoughts were for others first, and for himself after- 
ward, if at all. Even when doing for himself he did 
for others. Unlike too many who husband their gains 
to have a goodly sum to bequeath at their death, he 
gave liberally while he lived, and as calls came for him 
to be helpful, desiring to be his own executor, and en- 
joy the pleasure of dispensing his gifts with his own 
free, open hand. We need not complain of others, es- 
pecially when so many do even in this way acknowl- 
edge God's claim upon a portion of their abundance 
with which He has blessed them, but the subject of this 
notice has gone through the world with the true heart 
of giving, himself his own best sacrifice, " not letting 
his left hand know what his right hand did," sacrific- 
ing without a regret promising opportunities of gain; 
succeeding as but few have ever succeeded; asking no 
favors that he did not merit, and yet distributing them 
all about him on every side. By careful economy, and 
exemplary self denial, he regularly spared a generous 
portion of his income, and returned it as a free-will off- 
ering to the cause which he served, and 

" So lived not for himself alone, 

Nor joined the selfish few, 
But prized much more than all things else 

The good that he could do." 
2<>2 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 293 

His was the unselfish success of an untiring life, and 
shows how much a devout, earnest and self-forgetting 
person by his own energies, unaided except from above, 
consecrated to one great object, can accomplish. He 
has left a priceless memory as benefactor, friend and 
brother; toiling for the ignorant, the neglected, the 
destitute, the old in error and sin, and the young in in- 
nocence and peril. To make others happier, and the 
world better, seemed to be the desire most prominent 
with him. As a man, a minister, a reformer, an en- 
thusiastic traveler in foreign lands ; as a true patriot, 
both at home and abroad, he has found it his delight to 
do what he could. For nothing was he distinguished 
more than for his strong and deep sympathy for the 
weak and tempted, the sorrowful and oppressed of his 
fellows; so that he never shrunk from espousing their 
cause. We shall never half know of the blessings he 
has dispensed in this direction, so diligent was he in 
seeking out and relieving want and distress on the part 
of those who with slender resources were overtaken 
by illness or misfortune. So unstintedly generous was 
he in ministering to their necessities, and the delicacy 
with which he rendered his aid, that it were in vain the 
attempt at doing him justice in this regard ; and I am 
aware that I must fail in the presentation of this por- 
tion of his life. It is evident that he valued wealth 
chiefly for its humane and Christian uses. He was ac- 
customed to complain that women were so generally 
underpaid, and would often give them more than they 
asked. He was not the person to ever bid down on 
prices ; nor, like thousands of others, could he be in- 
duced to think that he had achieved a triumph when 



294 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

he made for himself as purchaser, some paltry gain to 
the loss and discomfort of the seller. He would sooner 
return and pay extra for what he thought had been 
sold to him too cheaply. 

And it was in his preaching as in everything else. 
He would go at every call of his brethren, ready to 
spend and be spent, regarding it as a blessed thing if 
he was but invited to continue his going. The com- 
pensation of his services was frequently in his being 
able to obtain an audience who were willing to listen 
to his messages, and that he could thus assist to plant 
the religion which was the salvation, and glory, and 
blessedness of the world. The period had been when 
he was very grateful, as he tells us, at beholding an 
occasional new face among his hearers. And it was in 
answering some such appeals of a disinterested charac- 
ter that he frequently brought harm to himself, for 
though he would be told that his health was of first 
importance, and that he was unable to leave home, to 
attend upon his preaching, his reply would be that he 
" had been sent for, and he must go." He was of the 
number who always found his greatest pleasure in 
obliging his friends, and his spirit of accommodation 
was evinced in his willingness to serve them at what- 
ever hazard. 

It was a fixed principle with him through life to 
regard the raising of money a secondary matter, and 
to make it his first concern to spread information, and 
lay the foundation of a steady support of all good 
causes by awakening an intelligent understanding of 
the demands of Christianity, and giving permanency 
and system to the benevolent impulses ot our natures. 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 295 

He did not believe in any mere fiscal, or monetary or- 
ganization, or a gathering of the people where every 
agitator went to quarrel for his peculiar resolutions ; 
but where Christian brethren met to minsrle in holv 
sympathies, and through the presence and anointing 
of the spirit of God and his Christ, their hearts were 
to be renewed, and larger effort was to be made to 
give vitality to men's professions, and unconquerable 
energy to their efforts for enlarging, and building up, 
and strengthening the enclosures of the Masters fold. 
In this way would the money flow freely into the 
treasury of the Lord, through the quickening of the 
religious life, and every rich blessing accrue to the 
worshiper, as a matter of course. 

A peculiarity of Brother Balch was, that he never 
came to believe in large salaries for ministers, never set 
a price on his preaching, to say that he must have any 
certain amount or sum of money to go anywhere to 
labor in the vineyard of his Master. He never made it 
a matter of agreement to be paid for a funeral or a 
wedding service, or the delivery of a temperance or 
other lecture of a moral or religious character. He felt 
himself a debtor to the cause, to supply the spiritual 
wants of the people, and they in supply of his temporal 
wants have given him what they felt they could, or 
were pleased to do. Finding an opening outside of his 
parish, he has tried to occupy it, sowing the seeds of 
truth irrespective of being paid for it ; and I doubt not 
that there have been some whole years in which he 
has preached more sermons, receiving nothing for them, 
than there are Sundays or weeks in a year. When he 
was leaving Providence in 1841 to go to New York City, 



296 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

they thought at first to give him $1,200 a year, but 
then it was said he could not live on it, and they made 
it $1,500. 

Brother Balch writes to an old friend in New York 
City, after preaching forty-five years : 

" My pay is not great, nor very prompt, but I live 
and do not suffer. We have not all we could wish ; 
Who has? We have enough to make us grateful, and 
keep us humble. What more could we have ? " 

I have found the man who paid Brother Balch the 
first money he ever received for preaching. He says 
his " father invited him to come and preach a sermon in 
their school-house, which he did, and he was after- 
wards made the bearer of the only compensation made 
for his services, and the amount was just four dollars." 
Brother Balch tells us of his first experience in going 
to a place after his ordination. He says, " After ser- 
vice many crowded around to be introduced, and to 
urge me to stop and preach there. Some even went 
so far as to ask me what I should charge. This as- 
tonished me, for 1 had been brought up where the min- 
ister pretended that it was wicked to have a fixed 
salary, to be a hireling. And then on Sunday to make 
such a proposition — bargain about preaching? But 
we get hardened by long and familiar experience to 
many things, at first strange." 

He is particularly severe on those young men who 
enter the ministry because they discover no easier road 
open to them. " With little knowledge of men," he 
tells us, " and the trials and struggles of active life, 
they enter our schools and live on gratuities, with no 
care but to spend, careless of the very means which 



KEY. WILLIAM STEVENS HALCH. 297 

are to fit them for the positions of after life. They 
have never learned the Scripture, 'It is good for a man 
to bear the yoke in his youth." 5 He regrets that 
preaching is so worldly in our times, and says: 

"My advice to young men looking towards the min- 
istry is: 1. Examine yourself; see that your heart is 
full of love to God and man ; that you are impressed 
with a deep conviction that you can do most good by 
preaching the Gospel ; that you have an ' aptness to 
teach,' and are willing to make sacrifices to fit yourself 
for such a work, and to take the position wherein you 
can be most useful. Do not think of yourself, of ease 
or honor, but of God and duty. Make it a serious, 
solemn matter of high moral consideration, a thing not 
to be trifled with. Don't rely on the charity' of others. 
It will take the life, the spirit, the manhood out of 
you. Be self-reliant on God and his promised grace, 
that you may stand square up with your fellow men 
and avoid the conscious degradation of eating others' 
bread. If you have not the means at your command, 
nor the confidence of immediate success to aid you, do 
as our most successful men have done; go to work and 
earn the means, and not feel crushed and benumbed in 
conscience. 

k * You need to develop a character that will fit you 
for all hard work ; a self-denial and consecration that 
will take you out of self, and swallow you up in a 
grand purpose of serving others. You need not ask 
Societies what they are going to give their preachers ( 
Probably nothing to mere adventurers, who are selfish 
enough to propound such a question. §hame on such 
a spirit, wherever it is found. Go into the vineyard 
and work; no matter about the hour, or the penny. 
The Lord of the harvest will do right. Don't lust 
after the flesh pots of Egypt, but follow the example 
of the early Christians, early Fniversalists, early 
Methodists, the early and faithful of all good causes. 



298 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

" Several of our early preachers were shoemakers, 
some clothiers, more farmers and teachers ; none poor 
dependents on charity. Those who borrowed were 
less successful — they were few. 

" In Canton there is land enough, properly tilled,to 
feed the theoligical students, and a portion of the funds 
were given on the express condition that students 
should be required to labor two hours a day. Who 
has done it, except at croquet and base-ball ? Horace 
Greeley started that idea, and the committee provided 
the means to carry it out, with every arrangement for 
convenience and fair comfort — not too much self-de- 
nial — quite equal to early Christians and students in 
former years. It is not good for students of the gos- 
pel to live in luxury, and get ready to marry before 
earning an honest 'living. If such institutions are 
thought too severe for a gospel minister, he had better 
seek some other vocation where he will be less likely 
to suffer disappointment. 

" One thing more : The close-closeted student who 
has devoted his whole thought to theories and methods, 
ancient and modern, and neglected to study men and 
manners, the ways and means of daily life, is poorly 
fitted to mix and mingle as a preacher should with peo- 
ple in all conditions, poor as well as rich, ignorant as 
well as wise, good, bad and indifferent — with humani- 
ty as he finds it, and feel sympathy and interest in all, 
ready to serve them as they need by leading them in 
the way of salvation, reproving, admonishing, encour- 
aging as they need. The people demand more than 
fine essays on nonsense, sound logic on dogmas, exact 
descriptions of old errors, corruptions and superstitions, 
the sins of Babylon, and idolatry in Egypt. Ours is a 
practical age, and the world needs practical Christian- 
ity, practically taught and correctly exemplified, by 
living, plain, practical preachers who shall be ' ensain- 
ples in all things? The true preacher seeks to edify 
the church, convert sinners, comfort the afflicted and 
help save the world." 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 299 

He is telling what kind of preachers the West is 
needing, and says : 

" The West needs live preachers whose sonls are in the 
work, who are fitted to preach the gospel intelligently, 
practically, forcibly, and to adorn it by well-ordered 
lives and a godly conversation ; who are willing to sow 
before they reap, to spend and be spent, without wor- 
rying their souls about to-morrow, and pining into 
worthlessness because they cannot get as large a sal- 
ary as somebody else who can preach no better than 
they think they can. Let them learn humility and re- 
solve in earnest to be prepared unto every good word 
and work, to enter any door that opens into the field 
of labor, to hunt the lost sheep until they find it. They 
shall not fail of a full reward, for God is just, 
and gracious too. They must deserve before they can 
expect to have. An hundred gates stand wide open, 
and thousands of anxious souls await the coming of 
such preachers of the Everlasting Gospel. Let preach- 
ers come west as early emigrants came, resolved to 
work and wait, as young preachers did in years gone 
by, and they need not hunt long before they will hear 
of scattered believers everywhere who desire to be 
gathered into the true fold. The fields are already 
white with the harvest. Many are seeking homes in 
other flocks, and not a few preachers of other names are 
leading them in pastures much greener, and to waters 
more calm than could be found a few years ago. There 
never was a more accepted time, or the Macedonian 
cry more plainly and oftener heard, than to-day, and in 
the West. ' Tramps are not wanted — men always seek- 
ing- work but never working. Men apt to teach, not by 
fine essays and pretty sermons in stilted phrases, but 
plain, practical, humble, honest, earnest, true men. who 
love the truth and their fellowmen more than filthy 
lucre, and the praise of God more than the pride and 
flattery of the world. Such, and such only, can long 
endure the climate of the West." 



300 THE LIFE AXD LABORS OF 

He is discussing different sorts of ministers, and 
among them the "right sort," and makes the inquiry, 
" What sort is that ?" and the answer is : 

"Not the lazy, fashionable, fustian young men, who 
wear patent-leather boots, and dare not step off a 
flagged sidewalk for fear of soiling them. Not the 
would-be literary men who have read all the fashion- 
able novels and dream-books in print to make them- 
selves acquainted with fine words, and beautiful tropes 
and sentences, to the neglect of everything like sub- 
stantial knowledge, good common sense, and a familiar 
acquaintance with the old Bible. Not the proud and 
ambitious men, who, because they cannot obtain a 
large, wealthy and liberal Society, and a large salary, 
will turn off, or turn back from the work of the minis- 
try or abandon it altogether, to run into every new- 
fangled follv that knocks at the door of their credulity 
and love of notoriety. 

" I had almost forgotten the object of this epistle, 
which is to inquire of the brethren, what means can be 
emplo} r ed to re-awaken a new and growing interest in 
our cause, and call into the field of public labor a class 
of young men who would give themselves to the work 
of the ministr\ r — men who will study the Master, learn 
his doctrine, and follow his examples ; men who will 
devote their energies to the establishment of the truth 
— Gospel truth — and will not abandon the work be- 
cause they cannot be indulged in every whim that may 
take them, and gratify their vanity by a peacock dis- 
play of their own diminutive capacities. 

" We very much need — never more — a large number 
of devoted young men of honest purpose, humble spir- 
it, and fair talents — no matter how great — who will 
come into the vast field of labor, already ripe to the 
harvest, and work. Never were there such inducements 
as now exist. 

" Why do they not come forth to our help? Why do 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 301 

so many delay? lean think of bul two reasons: the 
defection of those who have been with us. ;uul the — 
what shall I call it? — indolence? pride? ambition? — 1 
have no precise word at command. I mean those who 
blow up here, and hurst up there, or run down in some 
other place, — simply because they ran up too fast and 
too high, — who are grumbling about the ingratitude, 
want of zeal, sting-iness of Societies, moving here and 
moving there, to find a people willing to praise their 
poor old sermons, instead of studying new and more 
interesting pnes. I have no patience with these cler- 
ical loafers — minister vagabonds — who go about killing 
Societies by their inattention to the real duties of their 
vocation, as faithful ministers of the New Testament — 
and then try to shirk a merited condemnation by find- 
ing fault with Societies. 

" With such a country as ours, and in such an age as 
this, there is no need of this state of things. There is 
not, and never was — I trust there never will be — any 
occasion, any justification, for a good, capable, faithful 
preacher of Universalism, to be idle, out of employ — 
to sink into the cities to beg their way through life. — 
There are hundreds of places to-day where men, duly 
qualified, could find abundant encouragement, to sus- 
tain themselves and families. Yes, a thousand, more 
desirable than those into which most of our preachers, 
twenty years ago, entered when they commenced their 
missions. Xew England and New York could support 
twice as many as the} 7 have, — the Western States four 
times, — and the Southern States ten times as many. 
All that is wanting is men of the right stamp. For 
want of them our cause languishes. ' Pray the Lord to 
send more laborers into the field.' r ' 

He declares that " clergymen are solemnly ordained 

to a specific work. Thereafter they have vowed unto 

God to live and work for the ministry ; to persuade 

men unto holiness ; to comfort those in affliction, and 

20 



O'.'l! ."•". WILLIAM STEVEN? BALCH. 

_ 5 ntnnity. Whenever any 

worldly object or intei si een them and the 

is of their vocation, they act unworthily, and on 

gi and of fairness can they pretend to belong 

to the mill sta Be who becomes worldly, and pre- 

isiness, honor, pleasure, to that of godliness, de- 

i his standing." 



CHAPTER XV. 

SICKNESS, DEATH AND BURIAL. 

Brother Balch naturally had a hardy constitution, 
and was descended from a family of more than ordin- 
ary length of life. And yet most of the early years 
of his ministry were darkened by a terrible struggle 
with painful disease, induced by over-study and unac- 
quaintance of the laws of health, to be borne with 
most marked submission ; and his preaching dur- 
ing all this time was kept beautifully radiant with the 
hopes and joys of the Gospel. I remember him in 
some of those years in which he calls himself "a poor, 
nervous, shadowy dyspeptic, and a wonder to himself, 
till he learned to use the world as not abusing it, and 
then doing as well as knowing, despite fashions, luxur- 
ies and habits/' His disease would frequently come 
upon him with great violence, and he would suffer for 
weeks beyond description. 

I find in a published sermon of his, " Forty Years 
in the Ministry," in which he says : 

" For the first twenty years of my ministry, I suf- 
fered much from disease, induced by ignorance of God's 
holy law written all over and through my being. Over- 
taxing the brain, restraining the body by sedentary 
habits, regardless of diet, and abusing a naturally 
strong constitution, I passed through all the horrors of 
a miserable dyspeptic, made worse by medical igno- 
rance prevailing at the time in such cases. During 

303 



304 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

those twenty years I scarce knew a comfortable 
night's rest, or a decent meal. How I lived I know 
not. Nothing but sovereign grace preserved me from 
all the nostrums, regular and irregular, blisters and 
bran-breacl, calomel, cayenne, and cold water. But 
somehow I did live through it all, and, for twenty 
years, by a fair and strict regard to the laws of my be- 
ing, I have enjoyed very excellent health. During this 
time, many friends and brethren, who, in their robust 
health, pitied me in my sufferings, have gone over the 
river before me. I am to-day in as good health as at 
any period of my life — could not ask for better." 

Indeed, for nearly twenty years after the time here 
noted (1867), he claimed that his health was nearly per- 
fect, and he capable of endurance almost as in his 
youth, except as at times he would greatly suffer from 
his long-standing, chronic affliction, which toward the 
last became severely telling upon him, and as he went 
from home to different places to fill appointments, 
gave to all sad premonitions of his approaching de- 
parture, and added to the solemnity of the occasion 
and the force of the words to which he gave utter- 
ance. 

His last sickness, which brought him to his death, 
was not very protracted. When the physician who 
attended him was first called to see him, he felt con- 
fident that his chances to recover were indeed very 
slight. But at the end of a week there had been what 
seemed a somewhat favorable change, that made him 
conjecture that possibly after all he might rally for 
a brief space of time. Thisj how r ever, Brother Balch 
did not think. He was of the opinion that he knew 
himself better. He felt almost from the moment he was 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 305 

compelled to take his bed, that it was his last illness, 
and that he never would rise from it a well man. And 
it thus proved that the symptoms were disappointing, 
for he commenced almost immediately from that hour 
to fail, and in two or three days he was entirely given 
up by all the household friends, after which he sank 
very rapidly, so that his death seemed sudden at last. 
It was best that it should be so, for he had greatly 
feared from the complicated nature of his disease 
that he would have to experience a lingering, painful 
illness, till he should pray to be relieved from intoler- 
able suffering. 

It was at this juncture that Brother Eeed of Rock- 
ford and myself, were called to his bedside, only four 
days previous to his death, that he might counsel with 
us and make known his wishes respecting his funeral 
obsequies, and other matters, as they were agitating his 
mind ; and it was no common satisfaction to listen to 
his talk, his mind so unclouded and vigorous, that he 
seemed helped by the All-helpful One. While his voice 
was feeble his intellect was in nothing dimmed, and he 
went on relating with wonderful minuteness the cir- 
cumstances to which he would direct our attention. 

In these last solemn moments of his life, when he 
was getting ready to bid adieu to all its joys and sor- 
rows, its hopes and its fears, it was most refreshing to 
find him so tranquil and composed, as one who lays 
himself down to a peaceful sleep after the toils of a 
wearisome day ; holding himself as cheerful through 
all the long hours we conversed witli him, as in his more 
hale and halcyon days, showing that he could calmly 
practice the submission he had so long preached as a 



306 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

Christian duty. Brother Reed, in referring to this on 
the day of his burial, said: "His intellect was as 
vigorous, his memory as vivid and minute, his smile as 
genial, and his sensitiveness as keen as at any previous 
moment of his life." And why should not this be so, 
the contemplation of his going as peaceful as the 
bosom of a summer sea ; for was he not resting in the 
joy of a constant faith and holy hope that all lost ones 
from earth were to be gathered to the higher and bet- 
ter home, and a ransomed universe to be blest with the 
fulness of God's illimitable and unchangeable love ? He 
had a faith that saw the future clear, and everything 
beyond this dim earth seemed to him bright and beau- 
tiful. What other possibility was there for him, now 
that he was hastening to that beautiful shore to which 
he had pointed so many dear ones that had gone before. 
Was it not the only approriate thing for him, that he 
should now be wishing to die, for could he not say, " I 
am weary, let me go ; lay me low, my work is done " % 

It so happened that his last hours were painless, for 
he fell into an insensible condition on Christmas day 
and remained unconscious from the early hours of 
morning till the time of his death,, rousing from it but 
once, and then only to ask if the day was breaking. 
Upon receiving the reply he remained silent after it. 

And so death took him; transferring him from his 
sufferings here on the earth to his rest and joy in the 
great hereafter. And it was a grand ending of a grand 
life; to pass away from earth on Christmas day, the 
birthday of the world's Redeemer ; our second birthday 
into the realms of glory ; the birthday of love and 
peace, and joy and hope, deeper than all the fountains 



BEY. WILLIAM 8TBTEN8 BALCH. 307 

of human misery shall ever quench. And we yield him 
to a tenderer care than the homes of earth could afford 
him. He has put on a new garniture of grace and 

glory, and has gone forward into other scenes, and a 
grander discipline, connecting these years of our earthly 
pilgrimage with the years of eternity. 

And shall we not give joyous assent to the breath- 
ings of the beautiful hymn which says, 

" Thou art gone to the grave, but we will not deplore thee, 
Since God was thy refuge, thy guardian, thy guide: 
He gave thee, He took thee, and He will restore thee, 
And death hath no sting since the Saviour hath died." 

We can but appreciate how changed are all the af- 
fairs of her who stood closest to him, and other changes 
to follow, she cannot know how many, nor when, nor 
what; yet she will find much consolation in the reflec- 
tion, that 

"As a bird to its nest, 
When the storm is abroad, 
He has gone to his rest 
In the bosom of God." 

She could not but let 'him go from so much of in- 
firmity, and sickness, and pain, and did so with the 
feeling, that 

The saddest of all was the sad refrain, 
That she never would look on his like again 

*********** 

Our brother had no fear of death, which was to 

dismiss him into some new and higher development. 

He dreaded a helpless life much more. It was to him a 

glorious thing to pass away from earth, and go at the 

Heavenly Father's call to be with those who preceded 

him in the celestial mansions. His was the faith that 

assured him that death was a step forward in that life 



308 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

which, knows no cessation; a doorway through which we 
pass as we go onward and upward forever. It was 
through death that he was expecting to cast off, or lay 
down his weakness, his infirmities and diseases, that 
he himself might rise up to another and more glorious 
life. He felt that he was to cease in all that is frail and 
decaying; cease to be human (if so) that he might ad- 
vance to the glory and blessedness of the angel throng. 

He always claimed for himself the most cheerful 
views of his departure, and the eternity lying beyond 
it; for how but they must hold an appropriate and bene- 
ficent place in the divine economy? It was in the like- 
ness of a spiritual birth, and a necessary stage in human 
progress, to be passed as we would pass from childhood 
to youth, and from youth to manhood, and with the 
same consciousness of an ever unfolding nature. Under 
this view it was no dreaded power ; but a part of the 
great plan, or course of nature ; an appointment of God 
as much as life itself ; a wise and good appointment, to 
be met as such, with submission, calmness and trust. 

It seemed to him a most mistaken view, that in our 
exit from this world we are lying down in all our 
powers and facilities to die ; and so are to go out of 
being eternally, to be extinguished as a soul and a 
spirit ; and not rather that we are to leap forward into 
a higher existence, and into conditions more favorable 
than those we are experiencing here, and in which Ave 
are to measure on in the forward march that is lying be- 
fore us. and which we are still to pass, from knowledge 
to knowledge ; from wisdom to wisdom ; increasing for- 
ever and forever. The demand in human nature for 
to-morrow, and for life to be continued indefinitely, he 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALOH. 309 

was sure was stronger than and every other, and so 
what was to the materialist the extinction of all being, 
became to him the gateway to an endless life ; a going 
forward from lower to higher; the goodly prospect ever 
enlarging, each preparing for the one that was to come 
after. 

Life on this earth seemed to him too brief to develop 
the full estate of that idea which God has expressed 
in the creation of man ; and from its very incomplete- 
ness he argued its continuance, that it might be given 
the opportunity of unfolding itself to the utmost of its 
capacity ; of attaining whatever of knowledge, of virtue 
and holiness its powers would admit of. This was at 
least ground for strong presumption that there was 
some further progress : some sequel yet to be enacted. 
It was so that he had the feeling that a good and true 
life ought to be immortal, since to strike off the future 
beyond this sublunary existence, the noble life especi- 
ally becomes a sadly unfinished thing. There are no 
completed lives or characters in this short period of 
existence : and it was the insight and suggestion of his 
moral reason that these unfinished beo-innings that 
pass under our observation, must relate to perfection 
elsewhere. If we went not beyond the present with 
our imperfections, our ignorance and trials clinging to 
us, how were man other than a failure? The end of 
his existence would not be answered, and indeed could 
not be. All lives would be wasted lives, and every 
death would be premature. 

With such a view it will be readily perceived that 
death is no catastrophe. It is appalling, we know, in 
certain phases of it. when its change comes over loved 



310 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

ones only a little before radiant with life, and filled 
with animation and beauty. As such we stand aghast 
at it. But still our Brother stood ready to affirm that, 
let it come when it would come, in whatever manner, 
and to whomsoever it might, it never came as a calam- 
ity or punishment ; never as a final end, out of which 
nothing of good was suffered to spriug, but generally 
as a relief, and always as a stepping-stone to progress 
hereafter. 

ISTow it was in this continued existence of his being, 
after the manner we have described, that Mr. Balch 
could scarcely be said to entertain a doubt. He be- 
lieved it with all the force of assent which a reflecting 
mind is capable of giving to any subject not resting 
upon absolute demonstration. He believed it, because 
without it, as I said, this life appeared to him a per- 
fectly unfinished plan. 

Not to dwell at this point, I find my thoughts turn- 
ing back to December 26th, 1887, when after a short 
service at the residence of the deceased there was gath- 
ered at the Baptist church a large assemblage of his 
fellow citizens and friends to pay once again the tribute 
of loving respect, when a brief eulogy was pronounced 
by the writer of this, and a very cogent inferential 
argument for immortality, filled with the spirit of 
abiding faith and trust, was given in an address by the 
Bev. Dr. Keed, after which, proceeding to the cemetery, 
the remains borne by the sons and sons-in law, an ap- 
propriate and impressive service was spoken, and an 
affecting farewell taken. And as we left our trusted 
friend, brother, husband, father, to sleep as it were in 
honored dust, we felt to say, 4i Peace to thy ashes, and 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. • 311 

respect to thy memory," with the humble prayer that 
it might be hallowed, as it never can be hallowed or 
made sacred in the printed page. 

To supply the place of the memorial of such a man 
requires more than the set facts of a biography, for the 
dates and details presumably at one's command form 
but a feeble clue to a character which it seems pre- 
sumptuous to attempt to analyze. Anything we might 
say of our brother would be too slight and imperfect a 
tribute to one who has added such honor to the name 
he bore ; who has so adorned the sacred literature of 
his country, setting a deep impress of his mind and 
character upon the hearts of such vast multitudes, and 
as a friend being lamented, as in this world of imperfect 
relations but few have ever been lamented. 

How should we indeed be able to fully appreciate 
the labors of one so grand and true, bearing himself 
manfully in an eminently useful career which has 
placed him in the sacred role of noble and excellent 
characters ; one who has done so much to give our 
church a standing in the world, serving it with a most 
singular devotion, that shall cause his name and charac- 
ter to shine with an ever-brightening lustre. But few 
names have ever deserved to be, or will be, more cher- 
ished in grateful remembrance than that of Win. S. 
Balch. But few have known the honored space he has 
filled for more than an entire generation, as generations 
are reckoned, and among the fathers of our ministry; 
or the general regard, respect and deference in which 
he has been h olden as an enduring monument of his 
faithfulness. 

Our church has never had within its borders a per- 



312 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

son more consecrated to the one purpose of making the 
race loving and happy ; for has he not given his all to 
human needs and welfare ? Of the impression he has 
made upon all our hearts, and of his world-wide influ- 
ence, we shall only come to know better and better as 
the years go by. Of how many lives can it ever be 
told, so well rounded out into completeness and useful- 
ness ; so grown up into genuine, Christian manhood, 
rightly developed by the divine life of goodness in every 
faculty of his being. Has he not been a sort of " living 
epistle known and read of all men," in having been a 
leader, a vital force and concrete power unto salva- 
tion to every one that believeth ? and though dead, will 
he not yet speak to us by an example such as goes 
preaching on with persuasive power long after the lips 
are silent, and the eloquence of speech forgotten, the 
example of a good, true and noble life ? 

Aye, he has lived long and nobly, fulfilling faithfully 
his appointed years of service, doing what he could do 
to recall the attention of men from their creeds and 
dogmas of speculative faith, from their forms and cere- 
monies, and fastings and outward observances, to the 
exercise of a real, genuine love to God and man, such 
as will prompt to the performance of the great practi- 
cal duties of life. He has taught that religion is some- 
thing more than the assent of the mind to a system ; 
something more than the exercise of devotional feel- 
ings, and emotions in the heart ; that it is love and 
mercv and forgiveness to man : ;and that its fruits are 

«/ CD J 

the fruits of peace, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, good- 
ness, truth and benevolence ; such as is approved in the 
sight of all honest principle, and before God and the 
Father, as the primary Author of the Christian system. 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BAL1H. 313 

In truth he believed, that the only all-important con- 
cern of a man was to be good and do good ; to seek 
for the best, and do for the best, now to-day, to-morrow 
and always. His faith led him to respect all good 
men ; not religious men in the accepted sense of the 
word particularly, but men of virtuous lives, true to 
their integrity, useful, kind-hearted men, above a mean, 
sordid action. It led him to detest all cant, all mere 
professions and sanctimoniousness. He thought far 
less of the outward signs and forms of religion than 
most men ; but it was because he honored the real 
spirit of religion the more. He was not content, like 
thousands of others, to pass away from earth, leaving 
no trace of good behind him ; but would do something 
for the cause of virtue and the happiness of his fellow 
men, and so made his life one of good motives and 
good deeds; of usefulness, honesty, integrity and truth- 
fulness. 

The number of persons is never large, who will give 
their entire lives to the doing of good. And we do 
pray for the appearance of other such, as the world- 
wide want of our natures, to be consecrated to the 
cause which had his whole heart. Every person who 
has known our brother is the better and happier for it. 
And oh, to make others happier, and the world better, 
what so grateful a service. I trust it may be our priv- 
ilege to remember him as ha vino- had largely to do 
with all the manifold interests interwoven with the 
life of society, and working for the common good. 
May we look back upon him as upon the loss of a 
leader whom it is our greatest excellence and honor to 
cherish, and whom we have never seen but to be made 



314: THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

glad. If I have succeeded in presenting only a toler- 
ably faithful picture of him. I shall be sure of his hold- 
ing a high place in the enrollment of the many worthies 
that have done honor to our cause. We trust that the 
young men for whom the work was planned by Mr. 
Balch himself, that it might do them a much-needed 
service, may learn from it the strength and beauty of a 
consecrated life. 

It is a welcome thought that the hearts of so man} T 
have been moved by him, and that he has been made 
the theme of numerous discourses, giving more or less 
full accounts of his life and labors, as one who has been 
greatly loved, honored and trusted. 

Among the first to speak of him outside of the local 
home press, was the organ of the denomination for the 
Western Branch of the Publishing House, in its forth- 
coming issue, and after remarking that the event was 
unexpected to the general public, and that it was yet 
without particulars as to the cause of his death, it gave 
forth the following utterance : " Dr. Balch descends 
to the grave in the impressive figure of the Scriptures, 
" as a shock of corn fully ripe." His history is indis- 
solubly connected with that of Universalism in the 
New England, the Middle, and the Western States. 
Wherever Universalism is known as an organized body 
of Christian believers, William S. Balch was known. 
Intelligence of his death will find mourners all over our 
Zion. He was highly honored for his steadfast adher- 
ence to the principles of our faith as a minister for 
over sixty years. And we may add that the man was 
also widely eteemed for solid and attractive qualities, 
which linked many friends to him as with hooks of 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 315 

steel. He now leaves these earthly scenes in which he 
was so conspicuous a figure, even in a venerable old 
age, and there are many outside a large and devoted 
family circle, who will mourn his departure." 

A paper from Dubuque, Iowa, but echoes the sen- 
timent of multitudes of others from various parts of the 
land, in saying. £ * The death of Doctor Balch is a 
personal bereavement to a large circle of friends 
scattered from Maine to California, and will bring 
sorrow to the hearts of the membership of the Univer- 
salist church throughout the country." 

As soon as it was known of his death, there came 
letters of condolence to Mrs. Balch from many sym- 
pathizing friends. As a specimen character of some of 
these I present the following. Eev. H. D. L. Webster 
wrote. " The loss seems a personal one to us all. We 
esteemed him as one so rich in experience, so learned 
in the lore that adds lustre to the clerical profession, 
that we were glad to call him our leader. Xo one of 
our many popular and great men in the ministry will 
be more missed." 

Dr. Tuttle proffered tenderest sympathy in a mis- 
sive in which he said, "Brother Balch wrote me so 
kindly in my sad bereavement that I cannot but be 
mindful of you in your sore trial, and please accept my 
every assurance of esteem." 

The words of Dr. Rexford were, 4i You will not need 
that I should tell you of my sorrow at the death of 
Brother Balch. for I had great esteem and love for 
him, and have been made stronger because of him; and 
I would desire that what help may be in a brother's 
sympathy, and a most heartfelt wish, may be taken 



316 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

from my heart by one who is so stricken by the event 
of his death." 

Also Brother Manley W. Tabor. "He has earned 
his release from service. A noble, valiant soldier in 
truth's army has he been, and no small factor in the 
bringing to pass the success, the honor, the high estate 
which the Universalist church rejoices in to-day. His 
standing protest against narrowness in thinking and 
believing; against all assumption of ecclesiastical 
authority; were a fitting close of a life's work, written 
in the name of liberty and reform. It is with thank- 
fulness and pride that I think of his manly Christian 
position, and his unswerving loyalty to principle. It 
has not been in vain, for as leaven is it working in our 
midst, and will work till all shall be leavened." 

A brother minister who shall be nameless, wrote 
Mrs. Balch, "He is the only man whom I ever really 
loved, and it is my sincere and deep affection for him 
that causes me at this time to intrude upon you. He 
was more to me in his interest in what I am attempt- 
ing to do; in his kindly criticism and forbearance than 
my father ever has been; and in my heart, since I came 
to know and appreciate him for what he was, he has 
held the first place. Thus to me it has been as a son's 
loss to his father, rather than the going awav from 
sight and touch of a friend." 

As I sent out proposals for this Memoir, I can 
hardly tell you of the many good words and testi- 
monials of warmest personal regard that came pouring 
in to me, some of which I have included in previous 
chapters of the work, and will proceed to give other 
portions of these here. There were those to ask it 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 317 

as a favor that they might be permitted to pen some 
word of affection and commendation of a life that had 
been an inspiration to them, and whose personal 
friendship they counted as one of their choicest treas- 
ures. I was made the recipient of numerous letters 
from old and young, scattered widely over the country, 
telling me in more than a single instance of their being- 
taught in their earliest childhood to reverence the man 
who had blessed so many. Miss Eva J. Stickney, of 
Sioux Falls, Dakota, wrote to inform me that her 
father and Mr. Balch were boys together, and laid their 
plans of life together ; and " as children they were 
taught to regard Mr. Balch w T ith the utmost veneration 
and esteem ; a feeling that had been strengthened by 
the closer acquaintance of later years." A niece of 
Rev. Otis A. Skinner sent me a line from Kansas, 
giving reminiscences of her mother in the eighty-fourth 
year of her age, in which incidents are related of 
Brothers Skinner and Balch having studied together, 
with Rev. Samuel C. Loveland, and the love and ten- 
derness with which they regarded each other as being 
characteristically beautiful of the hearts of both. She 
is at pains to relate the following: " The last time my 
mother saw Brother Balch was in his calling upon her, 
on the eve of our departure from our eastern home in 
Vermont, to the State of Wisconsin. Placing his hand 
affectionately on her shoulder, he said, ' God bless you, 
Martha,' for they were such tried and trusted friends 
that thev always cluno* to the familiar wav of addressing 
each other by their Christian names." This was Brother 
Balch's custom ; always so free-hearted and simple- 
mannered, that no one could help greatly loving him. 
21 



318 THE lifp: axd labors of 

Of the many letters that have come to my hands. I 
may make extracts from but very few, which are a fair 
sample of the whole number. In responding promptly 
to a letter of my own, Brother Dinsmore wrote: 

"You ask me to give something out of my memory 
regarding our good brother. What can I say \ I sel- 
dom saw him except at public gatherings, and then but 
a few times in my life. But I learned to prize and 
honor him above many, and indeed most of the minis- 
ters I have known. I think of him somehow as I im- 
agine the second generation of Christians at Ephesus, 
as the first hundred years of the church were declining 
to a close, must have thought of the Apostle JohrT. 
They thought of him as the last who had seen the 
Lord. I thought of Father Balch as the last who had 
seen the early days of the church which I so loved. 
He was the last who had been called to pass through 
the deep waters for the precious faith. I revered him 
for his strong and noble spirit, and his broad under- 
standing of the work of the ministry. I loved him 
for the kindness and peace of his character. He was 
a strong, but a peaceful soul. He was above doubt 
and dismay. I dare not attempt an analysis of his 
character ; but this much I may say. ' He was great in 
his simplicity, his transparent heart and soul. He is 
gone, and his works will follow him.' " 

In a line from Brother Francis, he tells us : 

" My remembrance of Dr. Balch reaches back to the 
time when he was the Universaiist minister of Water- 
town. Mass., about 1830. I went with my father one 
Sunday afternoon to hear him preach ; and the im- 
pression of earnestness, sincerity and devoted ness lin- 
gers yet in my mind. Years went by and I became 
personally acquainted with him. After I engaged in 
the ministry. I always received his kindly o-reetinos 
and words of encouragement, whenever we chanced to 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS UALCH. 319 

meet, as later in life Ave frequently did. He was ever 
the same warm-hearted brother and friend." 

In a somewhat different, bnl a more eulogistic strain, 
Brother Shrigley speaks : 

"Nearly sixty years have passed since I heard Brother 
Balch preach in Putney, Vt.. and although his testi- 
mony was in accord with my previous religious con- 
victions. I could have shouted for joy at the good 
words he uttered. It was the first sermon in defence 
of the linal triumph of the good and true over all evil 
I ever heard from human Lips ; and never can I forget 
how precious tome was that testimony. It was the 
period of the opening chapter of Universalism in this 
country, and our good Brother Balch was one of the 
most prominent figures in that generation, strong in 
his arguments, and so simple in his words, and in the 
construction of his sentences, that even a child would 
have no difficulty in understanding him. Few were 
more happy in illustrating and defending the Gospel of 
peace and love, and as an efficient public speaker he 
was scarcely second to any other speaker from any 
platform. We may say of him that he has lived a life 
of spotless integrity ; sound in his religious opinions, 
loved best by those who knew him best, and one of 
the ablest preachers on the American continent. This 
is saying very much of him ; but none too much ; for it 
is every word true. It seemed often to me. in listening 
to him. as if he was unable to check the hopeful words' 
that fell from his lips. They rolled out and on in such 
perfect torrents of sacred eloquence, as completely as- 
tonished all who heard him. And what changes our 
brother had witnessed during his long and eventful life, 
and how much he had done to bring about those 
changes which are now visible in almost every church 
creed in the land. I do not know the man that has 
done more for our cause, and no one certainly has been 
more faithful." 



320 THE LIFE AND LABORS OF 

Judge Adams of Dubuque, Iowa, tells of paying a 
visit to the East in the summer of 1887, and passing by 
Brother Balch's home in Andover, Vermont. It had 
been sixty years since he lived there; and he says: 
" Seeing a man not far from the wayside I stopped and 
said, Do you know Dr. Baich \ And the answer 
came, Perfectly. Eveiy one knows him about here, 
and respects him, too. And when I told him I lived 
neighbor to him — which in the West was only about 
a hundred and fifty miles — that was enough; I needed 
no other introduction." 

Prof. Lee, of the St. Lawrence University, had 
asked on a former occasion to be allowed to relate a 
personal incident, and gave what follows: "When I 
was ten years old I beard Universalism preached for 
the first time from his lips. Little did he think 
on that occasion, in an obscure village of Vermont, in 
that five o'clock Sunday afternoon service, he was 
awakening in that boy's mind a deep interest in that 
faith, then so despised, now so honored, which has 
done so much to enlighten the world.'' 

Dr. Sawyer, whom I must especially mention with 
favor, as having indulged me in quite a correspondence, 
and assured me that if I wished any information from 
him I had only to ask any question I pleased, and he 
would answer as well as he could, has this, in addition 
to other matters distributed throughout the work : 

" Through three-quarters of his life it has been my 
privilege to enjoy his acquaintance and friendship. 
Though his senior by two years and a quarter, he was 
in the ministry a year or two before me, and our lives 
have been in many ways connected ; and it affords me 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 321 

peculiar satisfaction to acknowledge my obligations to 
him for financial aid when leaving college burdened 
with debt, and also with advice and assistance in enter- 
ing the ministry. He was my theological tutor, and 
instrumental in getting me ordained. Thus, you see, 
that Brother Balch was a kind of godfather to me. 
For many years we were yoke-fellows in the neigh- 
boring parishes in New York City, at a time when our 
faith had not only more, but more zealous opponents 
than now, and our lives were little else than a strife 
with those of the contrary part. I thank God for his 
long life, and for the faithful service he has done our 
church and the great cause for which it stands." 

It was his pen that drew the series of resolutions 
passed by the ministers' meeting of Boston and vici- 
nity, in which they speak of " the high endowments 
of his mind and heart ; of his long and active life, and 
the many-handed and eminent services he has rendered 
to our church, and the best interests of society at large; 
of the benign and lasting influences he has exerted 
upon his day and generation, and the untarnished 
Christian character he has maintained through a pub- 
lic ministry of sixty years." 

This body was followed by others, and notably 
by the Chicago Ministerial Association convened March 
19, 1888. 

"Whereas, Our much honored brother, William S. 
Balch, has been called away from his home on earth 
to the higher and better spirit life, and to brighter, 
more joyous, and active scenes of happiness, and we 
are to meet him no more in the family circle and in 
the social gathering, and are to have his counsel, his 
assistance and cooperation no more in society and the 
church ; therefore. 

" Resolved, that it is a most willing duty we perform, 



322 THE LIFP; AND LABORS OF 

to express our high regard for him who has passed on be- 
fore us ; to recall the many excellent traits of charac- 
ter for which he was distinguished, and the many good 
deeds which he cheerfully performed, as well as the 
great work he has done for enlightened and liberal 
Christianity, and which has given him such potent 
sway over all our hearts. 

"Resolved, That while our bosoms have been thrilled 
and rapt with delight in listening to his many golden 
thoughts and his most eloquent appeals, yet we revere 
his memory in nothing so much as for his beneficent 
gifjts, and his benignly wrought inliuences by which 
his name and fame have so marked him as a pattern for 
us to follow, and which made him so worthy the love 
and esteem of all men everywhere. 

^Resolved, That we look upon him as having been a 
clear, strong thinker; a guide, a teacher and leader, a 
devoted, affectionate and faithful working pastor; under 
whose ministrations, replete with instruction, the cause 
of God has been greatly blessed, and the shackles re- 
moved from many imprisoned minds and hearts. 

"Resolved, That he having proved such a champion 
for the cause, in valiant services done for truth and 
righteousness, and won such life-Ion g friends and friend- 
ships, by efforts never to die in their consequences, we 
are proud to do him this honor of paying humble trib- 
ute to his worth, and in standing by the side of him who 
has toiled so earnestly and diligently all these years. 

"Resolved, That we but too feebly express the sorrow 
of our hearts at this link of his life being broken, 
while we send our sincere " God bless you " to the dear 
ones left behind, asking that Heaven' s choicest favor 
may be with all who were allied to him in closest bonds 
of family and filial attachment, though not grieving 
for him whose life was so worn and oppressed with dis- 
ease and pain, for here was no room for tears. 

" For when his arm grew palsied, and his eye 
Dark with the mists of age, it w T as his time to die." 



REV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 323 

Commemorative services were held also, ami resolu- 
tions passed by nearly all of the several churches over 

which he had been settled as pastor. They would to- 
gether form quite a list, testifying to the faithful services 
he has rendered our Zion. The last of these, the church 
at Dubuque, was the first to speak, and then followed 
others till they had gone the round of the different 
churches that were included in this category. The 
church at Dubuque did not feel that they could well 
over-estimate the good results of his presence and. labors 
in behalf of the cause in their midst. In a memorial 
service Judge Adams, with several others speaking, 
gave expression to the general feeling and sentiment in 
this wise. " The Universalist denomination, from the 
Atlantic to the Pacific, takes notice of his death, and 
mourns his loss. The denomintion, it is true, contains 
other great and good men, but it contains no other Dr. 
Balch, and never can. lie is identified with its history 
in a peculiar manner, and will be remembered as its 
fitting representative beyond that of any other now re- 
maining in our midst. Others perhaps have done a 
great work in controversial theology, but no man stands 
as a better exemplification of all that is most beautiful 
and lovely in the religion which he professed." 

At the annual meeting of the Universalist church 
in Elgin, after attending to other business of the meet- 
ing, the following resolutions were offered by the trus- 
tees, and unanimously adopted : 

;t The memorv of a good man is the heritage of 
the world. The^Eev. W. S. Balch. who lately died 
in our midst, has added to the word's heritage a legacy 
of memory and of blessing such as few men ever leave. 



324 THE LIFE AND LABOKS OF 

His sixty years of public ministration have been of a 
character such as only a noble, cultivated mind and a 
pure and lofty spirit could give. His social life has 
been pure, peaceable and just. Here he has set an ex- 
ample which to follow would place the crown of hap- 
piness upon home. As pastor to this people he ever 
was leading toward the best ideals in life, and seeking 
to mould the minds and spirits of his flock into the 
kindly affection, the brotherly love and the exalted no- 
bility in which he had a supreme confidence. As a 
friend he was steadfast, sincere and noble. As a coun- 
selor he was wise, discreet and safe. His work in the 
world was always stamped by the broad and indepen- 
dent character of the man. He wrought not by ordi- 
nary methods ; his own strength was always that upon 
which it was turned, and his ideals were so perfect and 
so faithfully followed that when bis work was done it 
presented the finish of his master mind. Mr. Balch 
was impatient with creeds. He refused to set any 
limit to the power and love of God, and his ideal was the 
perfect manhood of the perfect man. The full ripened 
grain has been gathered. We rejoice in the harvest, 
knowing that in the garner is a store of example of 
courageous and exalted living that we can safely copy. 
The ways of life have been trod by no man more manly 
than he. The work of no one life has been rounded 
up and made complete in a more gracious symmetry 
than was the life work of our friend at the close of his 
more than four score years. The end is not — his elo- 
quent tongue yet speaks — the waves of influence from 
his revered memory are ever widening and broadening, 
bearing their blessings. Time can but add to their 
richness and eternity only can disclose all their wealth. 
" We hereby resolve to place this tribute to his mem- 
ory upon the records of our church." 

But no more glowing tribute has been paid to any 
one in our denomination, than was the testimonial 



REV. WILLIAM BTEVENfi BALCH. 325 

Reception and Banquet given him by the Ministerial 
Association in Chicago, April 12, 1886, upon the 
eightieth anniversary of his birth. It was an occasion 
o'f great interest, and a fit recognition of the worth of 
the man. How could there be any more remarkable 
success in doing him honor, when as it was thought 
there were nearly three hundred present, and from 
several States, to offer their congratulations and pay 
their respects to the guest of the evening. 

It were well if the memory of the just was always 
so blest in the hearts of the living. How many unbid- 
den tears have been caused to flow as a tribute to his 
memory we shall never know, for we do not know the 
measure of a long and valued life of usefulness. There 
was something divinely beautiful in his unaffected, 
genial companionship, leading men into the light of 
truth and the love and practice of goodness, to cause 
him to linger long in our thoughts, giving him an 
honored place among us, and making the world proud 
to be his friend. 

In letting this work go from our hands, may we not 
ask what is the whole simple message that such a life, 
such a death, and such a memory bears to us I Is not the 
one all-surpassing truth that beams out from it this: 
the supreme worth of goodness \ Here is certainly test i- 
mony to its value. Here is an instance of its triumph, 
and a pledge of its immortality. Can we not say that 
nothing reaches so far. nothing tells so mightily, and 
nothing so spreads the glory of heaven over the com- 
mon places of earth as the plain, good man, or . 
woman 1 Let us try and Learn this great moral ! 
which we derive from the review of this good man's 



326 • EEV. WILLIAM STEVENS BALCH. 

life, which is that of usefulness, practical good will, the 
promotion of industry, order, virtue, social progress 
and social happiness, developing all the resources God 
has placed at our disposal. 

Some one has asked that, when they shall rear the 
marble column that is to mark the resting place of 
Eev. Wm. S. S. Balch, there shall be inscribed upon 
it the words which tell the whole story of his life, 
"He loved his fellow men." But he himself has ex- 
pressed in as choice a form of words as can be, the fol- 
lowing: "When a few more years are past, and my 
earthly form is laid to its final rest, I have sometimes 
dared to hope that some whom I have sought to instruct, 
comfort and bless, will gather at my grave, and in 
their deep soul's feeling say of me, " He did not live 
and labor in vain." 



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UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA 
B.B1743S C001 

THE LIFE AND LABORS OF THE LATE REV WIL