more; and the result was, that he became as our pious friend lamented, ‘little better than a Universalist’—in fact no
From the age of fourteen he was known wherever he lived as a champion of Universalism, though he never entered a Universalist church till he was twenty years old. By what means he managed to “reconcile” his new belief with the explicit and unmistakable declarations of what he continued to regard as Holy Writ, or how anybody has ever done it, I do not know.
The boy appears to have shed his orthodoxy easily.
His was not a nature to travail with a new idea for months and years, and arrive at certainty only after a struggle that rends the soul, and leaves it sore and sick for life.
He was young; the iron of our theological system had not entered into his soul; he took the matter somewhat lightly; and, having arrived at a theory of the Divine government, which accorded with his own gentle and forgiving nature, he let the rest of the theological science alone, and went on his way rejoicing.
Yet it was no slight thing that had happened to him. A man's Faith is the man. Not to have a Faith is not to be a man. Beyond all comparison, the most important fact of a man's life is the formation of the Faith which he adheres to and lives by. And though Horace Greeley
has occupied himself little with things spiritual, confining himself, by a necessity of his nature, chiefly to the promotion of material interests, yet I doubt not that this early change in his religious belief was the event which gave to all his subsequent life its direction and character.
Whether that change was a desirable one, or an undesirable, is a question upon which the reader of course has a decided opinion.
The following, perhaps, may be taken as the leading consequences of a deliberate and intelligent exchange of a severe creed in which a person has been educated, for a less severe one to which he attains by the operations of his own mind:
It quickens his understanding, and multiplies his ideas to an extent which, it is said, no one who has never experienced it can possibly conceive.
It induces in him a habit of original reflection upon subjects of importance.
It makes him slow to believe a thing, merely because many believe it—merely because it has long been believed.
It renders him open to conviction, for he cannot forget that there was a time when he told opinions which he now clearly sees to be