Gibson, Susquehannah co., Pa., June 27, 1842.
BROTHER BEEBE: – Being so near used up with my fatigue that I concluded to try and rest myself to day, I thought I would express to you a few thoughts that have run through my mind of late. Since I have so far recovered my health as to commence travelling again, the kindness of friends, and their solicitude for my comfort, and the health of my poor old carcass, call for a grateful acknowledgment to the Giver of every good and perfect gift, for so disposing their hearts, and giving them a gracious ability to manifest it to one so unworthy – such careful attention even from fellow worms. Among the different modes of conveyance by which men pass from place to place, upon this earth, is that of the power of steam: by this they move on the water, and by land, with great rapidity; and in this expeditious travelling, on long routes, there may be some saving to the traveller, for aught that I know. But as the out-fit for such accommodations to travellers is very costly to the owners, my judgment is that the greatest profit is intended for them. And while my mind has been viewing the subject it has appeared to answer as a figure to represent the powerful movements of men, by means of camp or protracted meetings, and other kindred institutions, by which the passengers move so rapidly from a state of careless carnality to a condition of religious zeal, from which so many of them return so directly again to a condition of hardened security in some strong delusion. To me it shadows forth the following particulars, –
First. The preparation and outfit of a car or steamboat, with the locomotive, are costly; so the preparations and outfit for the rapid religious movements are very expensive. For a man professing to be converted, and called to preach, to spend from five to eight years in study at school expense with board and clothing, must cost a great deal of money. Witness the vast claims presented to and answered by the public from year to year.
Second. In preparing for the accommodation of travellers, apartments, scats, &c., must be fitted up, suited to the dignity of men in the higher circles of life; so that horses, carriages, lumber and trumpery, goods and evils of almost every kind, that travellers want to convey with them from place to place, can be transported with ease and expedition, all to please the eye and suit the taste, or else they lose their customs, and consequently their profit. So in the preparation for their ministry, in order to enjoy the profit they anticipate, their ministry must be qualified and fitted to preach to please the carnal ears and hearts of God’s enemies, so as to comfortably carry on board their car, boat, or what they please to call a church, all the lumber, trumpery, and trash of character that they can store away among the proud, lofty and fashionables of the popular world, with the lusts of the eye; of the flesh, and of the pride of life; embracing rooms for magicians, soothsayers, necromancers, and witches, besides a dungeon to put all the children of God in, that they can decoy to take a passage with them.
Third. Passengers of every description may be and come for their money, in car or boat; get in or out when they please, as accommodates them best. And they seem not to regard where they go when once they leave them; but act according the freedom of their wills. So the owners, engineers and rulers of the religious steam locomotive engines seem to believe in the doctrine of free-will, and not in free-grace; and rate their passengers’ piety according to their zeal, and cash payments, and not according to their divine or spiritual life. So the whole appears to be a religious farce, and ranks in opposition to divine testimony, and with witchcraft in opposition to the nature of true holiness of heart and life. Other points might be noticed, but the want of time forbids at present.
Yours as ever,
Signs of the Times.
Volume 10, No. 14.
July 15, 1842.