The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
Matters at Oberlin
Before I return to my revival record, in order to give any knowledge of the connection of things in our history here and my own labors, I must dwell a little more upon the progress of the anti-slavery or abolition movement, not only here but elsewhere as connected with my own labors. I have spoken of the state of public feeling on this subject all around us when we first came here, and said that we were opposed by the whole region of country around us, and that even the democratic legislature of this state endeavored to get hold of something that would justify them in abolishing our charter because of our anti-slavery sentiments and action. As might be supposed, when colored students first came here there was a considerable excitement about their being received into our families and sitting at our tables, and in regard to their sitting promiscuously at the tables in the boarding hall.
Very soon after I arrived--which was about the time, I think, of the arrival of the first colored students here--the question came up in the form of a request from some of the white boarders in the boarding hall that the colored students in the hall might have a table by themselves; whereupon I made a motion, to which the faculty all consented, that any of the white students who were unwilling to sit at the table with the colored students in the hall, might have a table by themselves. This put the few in the hall that took that ground in an awkward position. But still they could not complain. But we were determined, if there was any separation, that it should not be by giving the colored students a table by themselves, but those that objected to sitting with them. Although this action of the faculty did not set very comfortably, I suppose, upon those students, still it was in such shape that they could not object to it. In the meantime different members of the faculty took colored students to board, and we suffered them to sit at our own tables, making no distinction on account of color. The same was done by all the leading families in the place, I believe. In our preaching and public instruction we aimed to correct this feeling that had existed here, and almost universally prevailed, of prejudice against color It soon subsided, and now for years the people in their public assemblies seem to be hardly aware of any distinction between them. Colored people sit where they please, and nothing is said or, so far as I know, thought about it. It was at first reported on every side of us around about, that we intended to encourage marriage between colored and white students, and even to compel them to intermarry, and that our object was to introduce a universal system of miscegenation.
A little fact will illustrate the feeling that existed among even intelligent farmers in the neighborhood. I had occasion to ride out a few miles soon after we came here, to get some currant bushes. A farmer to whom I went looked very sullen and suspicious when he found who I was and from whence I came, and intimated to me that he did not want to have anything to do with the people of Oberlin. That our object was to introduce amalgamation of the races, and compel the white and colored students to intermarry. That we also intended to introduce the connection of church and state, and that our ideas and projects were altogether revolutionary and abominable. He was quite serious about this. But I must say the thing was so ridiculous that I could not reply to him with any degree of seriousness, and therefore did not reply at all. I knew that if I attempted it I should laugh him in the face. We had reason at an early day to be seriously apprehensive that a mob from a neighboring town would come and destroy our buildings.
But we had not been here long before circumstances occurred that created a reaction in the public mind. This place became one of the points of "the underground railroad," as it was called, where escaped slaves on their way to Canada, would take refuge for a day until the way was open for them to proceed. Several cases occurred in which they were pursued by slaveholders, and the hue and cry was raised, not only in this neighborhood but in the neighboring towns, by their attempting to force the slaves back into slavery. At one time I recollect several slaves had been secreted here; of which, however, at the time I knew nothing until the row occurred. The slaveholders arrived in pursuit of them. The slaves took the alarm, and advised by some of their friends--I do not know by whom--started across the lots and woods toward the lake, the slaveholders following as best they could ascertain which way they had gone. In the meantime the friends of the slaves, some on foot and some on horseback, went in different directions; and making the impression that they themselves were in pursuit of the slaves, they all got very mixed up; and while some cried this way and some that way, the slaves through fields of high standing corn and through woods made their escape,
But scenes like this soon aroused public feeling in the towns around about, and began to produce a reaction. It set the farmers and people in the surrounding region to study more particularly into our aims and views, and our school soon became known, and became better appreciated; and it has resulted, so far as I know, in a state of universal confidence and good feeling between Oberlin and the surrounding towns and counties. So much hostility to us had been excited through the length and breadth of the land, that editors very extensively seemed to seize with avidity upon anything that would "spite" Oberlin, and give it as wide a circulation as they could.
Among other curious circumstances that occurred, with which editors at the time made a great show of opposition, but which finally reacted and resulted in our favor, I will relate the following: A young man from Kentucky, I think, came here to study; and while on probation, and before he was known to any considerable extent here, he laid a plan to seduce one of our young ladies. She was a very estimable, modest girl. The young man had, I believe, been a writing master, and could use his pen in a masterly manner. He wrote this young lady a letter, in which he drew a very vile picture with his pen; and couched the letter in such language, and gave it such shape, that it was calculated to produce the very worst effect upon her. He requested that she should reply to A.B.--I do not recollect the direction that she was requested to give to the letter. She was of course very much shocked, and gave this letter to the lady principal of the institution; and this lady showed it to her husband, who was one of the members of the faculty. Soon after, he wrote another letter of the same character, with as loathsome a picture as could well be drawn--I mean loathsome to a pure mind; and shaped altogether in such a manner as to lay before her the strongest temptation to bad conduct, and urged her again to reply and direct as he had before requested. This letter immediately passed into the hands of the lady principal, and through her hands into the hands of the faculty. Of course this aroused the attention of the faculty, and they were on the look out.
We had a very trustworthy young man at that time as our postmaster. After these two letters had been received the subject was laid before the postmaster, and of his own accord he undertook to ascertain from whom those letters came. I think he kept the letters that had been received by her, that he might compare them with the handwriting of anything of the kind that should come through his hands again. Soon a letter directed to this young lady came into the post office. He saw that it was the same handwriting, and opened the letter, and found it to be another of those abominable epistles. That aroused to the utmost his indignation. I believe without consulting any one he replied to the letter himself, as if he was the young lady to whom it had been addressed. He recognized the two former letters, and so shaped his answer that he wrote again. The postmaster thus opened a correspondence with him. It soon resulted in an appointment to meet at a certain place in the village, at a certain hour of the night, and then to go and spend the night together; the vile young man supposing that his correspondence was with the young lady herself, whereas she was entirely ignorant of what was transpiring between the postmaster and the young man.
We had here at that time an energetic young man and woman who were under an engagement to marry and who had come here to first complete their education. They were of good reputation and possessed in a high degree the confidence of the community. To this young man the postmaster and the few who were in the secret applied to assist in the detection of the villain who had spread this snare for a worthy young lady. The young man arranged with his affianced to play the part of the young lady to whom the vile letters had been directed, so far as to secure his detection and arrest. She consented to go. In the meantime several of our most estimable young men had been consulted, and one of our youngest professors, and they agreed to go and arrest him and deal with him as wisdom should direct. The time for the appointed meeting arrived. It was a dark night. The hour appointed for the meeting was, I believe, ten o'clock. The arrangement was that they should meet at a certain corner in the village when he should reveal himself by a certain signal and she should take his arm and accompany him to the place he had prepared for their lodging.
The young man boarded at the hotel, and was very little known at the time. He had taken his bed from the room, and carried it a little way out of the village, and spread it under the shelter of a large tree that had been thrown down with a very high root turned up, that cut off the sight of the road and the village altogether. The young man conducted his young lady to within a few rods of where they were to meet. It was very dark, and he secreted himself within hearing, and the young lady went a little forward and waited for the signal of his approach. Soon she heard the signal and returned it. They met. He gave her his arm, and they walked hastily toward the place where he had prepared his bed. The young men who were to arrest him being aware of the whole plot had secreted themselves a little way from where they were to leave the road and turn into the woods. He was armed with a pistol, and had in him the real southern spirit. When they arrived at the point where the young men were secreted, they surrounded him. He undertook to use his pistol, but they seized it, and no one was hurt. After considerable conversation and prayer they concluded to whip him, and appointed one of their number, one of our most amiable young men, to ply the lash. It tried his feelings exceedingly to do it; nevertheless, he put on his back the assigned number of strokes with a rawhide with which they had furnished themselves. They then let him go; he at the time, I believe, acknowledging the justice of the course they had pursued with him.
The fact is, there was no law of the land that would take hold of him, and inflict any punishment at all upon him in this case; and these young men, I have no doubt, acting under a sense of duty, took the case in their own hands, and administered what they supposed to be a moderate and merited chastisement. As this school was one in which young men and women were associated together in all their studies, these young men supposed justly that an act of this kind should meet with decided public disapprobation; and thought that this young man should be made an example, to teach young men that if they came here and attempted to seduce any of our young ladies, what they might expect. However, these young men had acted on their own responsibility, without consulting anybody that I know of out of their own circle. But when the father of the young man came to be acquainted with the facts, he was stirred up to irrepressible wrath. He came here in a very blustering and abusive spirit. He learned the facts, and could not justify his son, though he felt himself disgraced by the whipping which his son had received rather than by the crime which he had committed; and therefore instead of thanking us, as was really his duty, for administering this most merited chastisement upon his son, he took great pains to stir up the whole country against us for this deed. The public mind was at that time in a state favorable to seize hold of any such occurrence to put down Oberlin. The papers teemed with opposition to Oberlin, and the wrath of the press was greatly excited at the whipping; though so far as I heard, no words of reprobation fell upon the ears of the criminal, or of any one else, for his crime. A great crime, it was assumed, had been committed in punishing him, but the crime that had most justly demanded this punishment, was left out of view. We, as usual, kept still, and kept about our business.
When the court met at Elyria the Grand Jury found bills of indictment against the young men that had been engaged in this thing. They subpoenaed many persons in Oberlin, to come before them as witnesses, and in this way discovered, I believe, all the young men who had taken part in it save one. The first I knew, however, of this proceeding it came to my ears by my being myself subpoenaed as a witness before the Grand Jury. I went. I observed as I went in that the District Attorney, who was with the Grand Jury, was a person that I knew, and was an avowed skeptic. The foreman of the Jury I had understood to be another; and indeed as I observed the Grand Jury I saw that they were made up very much of leaders of the opposition to Oberlin, and of men who were no less opposed to religion than to Oberlin--that is, there were several of them, if I was not entirely misinformed, who were skeptics. The District Judge, who presided over the court, was also a skeptic, and also one of the side judges. Thus a majority of the court, and I think a majority of the Grand Jury, were skeptics. The same was true of the Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff, I think. At any rate I was informed that it was true of the Deputy Sheriff, who was in attendance upon the Grand Jury. Of course I found myself surrounded by not altogether a pleasant moral atmosphere.
The foreman of the Grand Jury informed me of the object of my being sent for; and after administering the usual oath told me whom they had indicted, and asked me if I knew of any other persons in Oberlin who had been connected with that affair. I replied that I did know of one, who from his own confession to me as his pastor, I knew had been connected with it. But that he had gone out of the state: not that he had run away or gone away to escape prosecution, but he had gone home to his friends, and so far as l knew he expected to remain at home. The foreman then asked me what his name was. I replied that the young man was a member of the church of which I was pastor, and at the time of the occurrence was a member of my family; that after the occurrence, learning how the people felt here about the mistake that they had made, his conscience troubled him, and that he then confessed to me his connection with the affair--and I then said, "I do not know as I ought to be called upon to testify in this case, and reveal the young man's name." However, I did not refuse to testify; I only made the remark, as nearly as I can recollect, as I have stated it. They did not urge me to give his name; indeed, they said no more, but very politely dismissed me.
I left the room and went immediately to the hotel to get my horse and return home. But while waiting at the hotel for my horse to be brought to the door, I learned from the conversation of those that were there that the Grand Jury had said they "would sit until they had examined every man in Oberlin, if need be, to find out everyone who had had any connection with that affair." I learned that the impression existed in Elyria, and in the minds of the Grand Jury themselves, that the people of Oberlin wished to cover the matter up, and were not willing to have the laws of the land executed. I observed as I rode home that there was a good deal of excitement in the minds of the people; and I made up my mind that I would return in the morning and go in to open court and consult the judges in regard to my duty, and to the law upon that point.
Accordingly the next morning, although very rainy, and very muddy, it being late in the fall, I got on my horse and rode through the rain and mud to Elyria. I went immediately into the courtroom, and found the court busily engaged in the trial of some cause that had excited a good deal of interest, and hence the courtroom was well filled with spectators. I went to one of the gentlemen of the bar with whom l had some acquaintance, took him a little one side and requested him to ask the court to give me a hearing for a few moments, as I had an important question to lay before them. He very deferentially and appropriately made the communication that I desired to the court. They immediately suspended business; and the presiding Judge remarked, that Professor Finney who was present had a communication to make to the court, and that business would be suspended for a few moments to hear what he had to say. I then told them what had happened the day before, before the Grand Jury, and the question that I had to present to them was, whether law or equity required me to give that young man's name to the Grand Jury. I then stated what I understood to be the law upon that subject. I said that men have consciences; and people may differ as they please in regard to many other questions, there could be no difference of opinion upon this, that all men and women have consciences, and that often very embarrassing cases of conscience arise in which advice is needed. That in such cases, as they must exist in society and in every community, the public weal demanded that there should be some persons protected by the law from becoming public informers, to whom persons could go for advice. I said that I knew how this had been abused by the Roman Catholics in their confessional, and how the law had been settled in regard to them. But I said that although the law in this country does not recognize the union of church and state, yet it does recognize the pastoral relation; and it ought to protect this relation to the extent of protecting the community, and also the pastor when he has been consulted as pastor in regard to cases of conscience where advice is needed. I enlarged upon this at discretion, and occupied considerable time in stating my views and the reasons for them. Indeed, it might be said that I preached to the court and those that were present.
I felt as if it was a good occasion to represent our sentiments at Oberlin. I told the court the reasons of my returning to Elyria, what I had heard at the public house the day before, and that I was satisfied they entirely misunderstood the Oberlin people. I assured the court that we were a law-abiding people; that we had not as a people approved of the course taken by the young men; and that we did not wish to shield them from the operation of criminal law, but were entirely willing that justice should take its course, and were disposed rather to aid in the administration of justice than to throw obstacles in the way. In short I represented to them Oberlin views and feelings on the subject, and said that we merely desired that the young men should have a fair trial, and an opportunity to spread before the court when they were tried the provocation under which they had acted and the reasons for their conduct. The court did not seem at all weary of listening to what I had to say. The attention was universal, respectful, and I thought solemn. I then said to the judges, "Now if Your Honors are of opinion that it is my duty as a citizen to go and give the Grand Jury the name of that young man, I will do it immediately." I then sat down, and the presiding judge said that they were very much obliged to me for returning and giving an expose of my views and of the whole subject. That the court entirely accorded with me in opinion, and said that they had had a false impression in regard to the opinions of Oberlin in this matter, and were very happy to be set right on this subject. That my statement had greatly relieved their minds and feelings, and the view that I had presented was one with which they unitedly agreed. He concluded by remarking that it was a question for the Grand Jury, and asked me if I was not willing to go and make the same statement in substance to the Grand Jury in the room below. I said that I should be glad to have an opportunity to do so, and I thought I observed that the court felt that it might do the Grand Jury good.
I then proceeded to the Grand Jury room. I found them all present as the day before, the Deputy Sheriff and skeptic, standing at the door in attendance upon the Grand Jury, the skeptical Prosecuting Attorney sitting by the table with the foreman of the Grand Jury; and I observed, as I did the day before, that so far as I knew the Grand Jury, there was a very large element of skepticism on religious subjects found among them. I then stated to them in substance what I had stated to the court above, what I had learned the day before of the state of feeling in the neighborhood, and of the Jury itself; and that it was their determination to sit until they had examined every person in Oberlin, if need be, to find out all the persons that had been connected with that transaction. I then stated my views as I had done to the court, and gave them as nearly as I could the same view of the case throughout. I observed the same profound attention and effect in the Grand Jury room that had been produced in the court. When I was through, the foreman after consulting a moment with the District Attorney, replied in substance as the court had done above. He expressed great satisfaction at my returning and giving them my view of the subject, as he agreed with me entirely in the view I had taken of my duty; and he expressed the opinion that the Jury did not think it my duty to give the name of the young man, and that they did not require it. As I left the room, the Deputy Sheriff, who was standing inside and had heard what had been said, followed me out into the hall. He took hold of my arm with very manifest excitement and said: "Mr. Finney, your coming back and saying what you have is worth a thousand dollars."
As I returned to the hotel after my horse, the court above had a recess for dinner. The presiding judge, who was then a stranger to me, introduced himself to me, and said he was very happy to meet me, and expressed regret that they had so entirely misapprehended the views, and feelings, and action of the people of Oberlin. He said: "We have been deceived respecting you there, and now I for one want to become better acquainted with you"; and then added, "When I come out to hold court here again," naming the time, "may I not bring my wife and leave her at your house while I attend court here, that she may become acquainted with you, and that I myself may become acquainted with some of your people?" I most cordially invited him to come, and assured him that I would bring or send him out every day to attend court, and bring him back to his wife in the evening. A few weeks after that I spent a few days in Cleveland in preaching to the people. This was his residence. I observed him in the congregation, and soon learned that he was very seriously weighing the question of his soul's salvation. I had a protracted conversation with him, and found the state of his mind not only very interesting, but as I thought very hopeful. I urged him to immediately accept the Savior, his skepticism being, to all appearance, entirely gone. He received all I had to say with great tenderness, and renewed his promise to come out with his wife when he next held his court in Elyria. But before that time he was in his grave, so that I saw him no more. Before I left Elyria at the time I have spoken of, I learned that the Grand Jury had adjourned sine die. That after my statement they were entirely satisfied that they had no reason to make any farther inquiry, and having no other business before them they dissolved.
After this there was a most remarkable change in the views and feelings of the leading men in the opposition in the region around about us. The next winter, for example, after this court, one of the side judges, a democrat and as I had understood a skeptic, was a member of the legislature, in which a plot was on foot to try to take away our charter. This judge, who had been present at the time I have spoken of, stood, as we were told, manfully and boldly in defense of Oberlin, and told them that the impressions that had gone abroad in respect to our views and our character as a school, were altogether erroneous. And as I understood, these remarks had a leading influence in diverting the legislature from their purpose.
Thus one event after another occurred that made the community around us better acquainted with us and with our views, until the prejudice was entirely done away. But what effect had the trial of the young men? And especially how did the outrageous comments and denunciations of the press, far and near, have upon our school? Did it keep the young ladies and gentlemen from coming here to school? No indeed! It was found that it had produced an entirely opposite effect. It was found that people reasoned thus. They had been afraid, and much pains had been taken to make them afraid, of trusting their daughters in a school where young ladies and gentlemen recited in the same classes, ate in the same boarding hall, and were in all respects associated as they were here. It was of course regarded as an experiment, and by many as an experiment of a very questionable nature. But the result of all this bluster and opposition, especially in relation to this prosecution and the cause of it, was that people reasoned in this way: Well, if there is such a public sentiment as this at Oberlin, if an attempt to seduce one of those young ladies brings upon the offender that kind of retribution, there is the very place for our daughters. We can send them there with more safety than anywhere else. If the young men of that college will themselves give a young man such a thorough castigation who attempts any such thing, such a public sentiment must be favorable to chastity, and to the protection of our daughters when away from home. There was therefore a continual increase of our students, and especially of females, and the relative number of ladies in our college seemed to increase from year to year.
Indeed, in the providence of God almost all the onsets that were made against us through the press, by other methods of attack, resulted in our favor. We kept still, and kept about our own business, and let the smoke and dust clear away in God's own best time.
In the meantime the excitement on the subject of slavery was greatly agitating the eastern cities as well as the west and the south. Our friend and brother, Willard Sears, of Boston, was braving a tempest of opposition there. And in order to open the way for a free discussion on that subject in Boston, and for the establishment of religious worship where a pulpit should be open to the free discussion of all great questions of reform, he had purchased the Marlborough hotel on Washington St., and had connected with it a large chapel for public worship, and for reform meetings that could not find an entrance anywhere else. This he had done at great expense. In 1842 I was strongly urged to go and occupy that Marlborough chapel and preach for a few months. I went and began my labors, and preached with all my might for two months. The Spirit of the Lord was immediately poured out, and there became a general agitation among the dry bones. I was visited at my room almost constantly during every day of the week by inquirers from various congregations in all parts of the city, and many were obtaining hopes from day to day.
At this time Elder Knapp, well-known as a Baptist revivalist, was laboring in Providence, R.I., and met with persistent opposition in that city from his Baptist brethren. When the work was in a very hopeful way at Boston, he was invited by the Baptist brethren at Boston to come and labor there. He therefore left Providence amid a storm of opposition, and came to Boston. Brother Josiah Chapin and many others were at that time insisting very strongly upon my coming and holding meetings in Providence. I felt very much indebted to Brother Chapin for what he had done for Oberlin, and for me personally in sending me money from time to time to support my family at Oberlin during the season of our very great depression in regard to funds. It was a great trial for me to leave Boston at this time. However, after seeing Brother Knapp and informing him of the state of things in Boston, and assuring him that a great work was begun and was spreading throughout the city, and that things were in a most hopeful way, I left and went to Providence. This was the time of the great revival in Boston. It progressed wonderfully, especially among the Baptists, and more or less throughout the city. The Baptist ministers took hold with Brother Knapp, and many Congregational brethren were greatly blessed, and the work was very extensive.
In the meantime I began my labors in Providence, R.I. The work began almost immediately there, and the interest visibly increased from day to day. There were many striking cases of conversion, among which was an elderly gentleman whose name I do not now recollect. His father had been a judge of the Supreme Court in Massachusetts, if I mistake not, many years before. This old gentleman was living in Providence, and was a skeptic. He lived not far from the church where I was holding my meetings in High St. After the work had gone on for some time, I observed a very venerable looking gentleman come into meeting, and that he paid very strict attention to the preaching. My friend Mr. Chapin immediately noticed him, and informed me who he was, and what his religious views were. He said he had never been in the habit of attending religious meetings; and he expressed a very great interest in the man, and in the fact that he had been drawn out to meeting. I observed that he continued night after night to come, and could easily perceive, as I thought, that his mind was very much agitated, and deeply interested on the question of religion. One evening as I came to the close of my sermon, this aged, venerable gentleman, tall and with gray hair, and with a decidedly intellectual look, rose up and addressing me asked me if he might address a few words to the people. I replied in the affirmative. He then spoke in substance as follows: "My friends and neighbors, you are probably surprised to see me attend these meetings. You have known my skeptical views, and that I have not been in the habit of attending religious meetings for a long time. But hearing of the state of things in this congregation I came in here; and I wish to have my friends and neighbors know that I believe that the preaching we are hearing from night to night is the Gospel. I have altered my mind," said he; "I believe this is the truth, and the true way of salvation. I say this." he added, "that you may understand my real motive for coming here; that it is not to criticize and find fault, but to attend to the great question of salvation, and to encourage others to attend to it." He said this with much emotion, and sat down.
There was a very large Sabbath School room in the basement of the church. The number of inquirers had become too large, and the congregation too much crowded, to call the inquirers forward, as I had done in some places; and I therefore requested them to descend, after the blessing was pronounced, to the basement or lecture room of the church below. The room was nearly as large as the whole audience room of the church, and would seat nearly as many with the exception of those who might occupy the gallery in the room above. The work increased and spread in every part of the city until the number of inquirers became so great, together with the young converts, who were always ready to go below with them, as to fill nearly or quite that large basement room. From night to night after preaching that room would be filled with rejoicing young converts and trembling, inquiring, anxious sinners. This state of things continued for two months. I was then, as I thought, completely tired out, having labored so very hard and so incessantly for four months, two in Boston and two in Providence. Beside, the time of year had come, or nearly come, for the opening of our spring term in Oberlin. I therefore took my leave of Providence and started for home.
There was one circumstance connected with Boston that I think it duty to relate in this place. A Unitarian woman had been converted in Boston who was an acquaintance of the Rev. Dr. Channing. Hearing of her conversion, Dr. Channing, as she informed me herself, sent for her to visit him, as he was in feeble health and could not well call on her. She complied with his request, and he wished her to tell him the exercises of her mind, and her Christian experience, and the circumstances of her conversion. She did so, and the Doctor manifested a great interest in her change of mind, and inquired of her if she had anything that I had written and published that he could read. He said he knew what was transpiring in Boston, and felt a great interest to understand it better; and he wanted to know what my views were, and what I preached that seemed to interest the people so much. She told him that she had a little work of mine which had been published, on the subject of sanctification. He borrowed it, and told her that he would read it; and if she would call again in a week she might have it, and he should be happy to have farther conversation with her. At the close of the week she returned for her book, and the Doctor said, "I am very much interested in this book, and in the views that are here set forth. I understand," says he, "that the orthodox object to this view of sanctification, as it is presented by Mr. Finney; but I cannot see, if Christ is divine and truly God, why this view should be objected to. If Christ is really God, I cannot see why people might not be sanctified by Him in this life; nor can I see any inconsistency in Mr. Finney in holding this as a part of the orthodox faith. Yet I should like to see Mr. Finney. Cannot you persuade him to call on me? for I cannot go and see him." She promised him to deliver his message, and request me to call and see him. She did call at my lodgings immediately, but I had left Boston for Providence.
I was absent, as I said, two months, and then called at Boston on my return homeward from Providence. This lady hearing that I was in Boston the second time called immediately to see me, and gave me the information concerning Dr. Channing that I have related. But she also informed me that he had left the city and gone into the country on account of his health. I never saw him. I was very sorry that I had not had the opportunity of an interview with that man, whom I had learned to respect for his talents and earnestness as the leader of the Unitarians in Boston. I had heard that Dr. Charming was inquiring on the subject of religion, and disposed to reconsider the whole question of the divinity of Christ and of his own personal interest in Him; and when this woman told me her story I greatly regretted not having an opportunity to see him. But he died shortly after, and of his history after he left Boston I know nothing. Nor can I vouch for the truth of what this lady said.
But she was manifestly a true convert, and I had at the time no doubt that every word she told me was true, nor have I yet any doubt of it. But as this lady was a stranger to me, I cannot recollect her name at this distance of time.
The next time I met Dr. Beecher, Dr. Channing's name was mentioned, and I related to him this fact. The tears started in his eyes in a moment, and he said with much emotion, "I guess he has gone to heaven!" implying that he hoped he was converted.
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