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To Miss Lucy Osgood.

Wayland, May 11, 1856.
Since you will think of me as an “author,” I am glad that you think of me as “an alive author;” for so long as I write at all, I desire to be very much alive. [77]

This is the second time I have walked out in stormy weather without a cloak. My “Appeal” in favor of anti-slavery, and attacking colonization, marched into the enemy's camp alone. It brought Dr. Channing to see me, for the first time; and he told me it had stirred up his mind to the conviction that he ought not to remain silent on the subject. Then came Dr. Palfrey, who, years afterward, said that the emancipation of his slaves might be traced to the impulse that book had given him. Charles Sumner writes me that the influence of my anti-slavery writings years ago has had an important effect on his course in Congress. . . . Who can tell how many young minds may be so influenced by the “Progress of Religious Ideas” as to materially change their career? I trust I have never impelled any one in the wrong direction. In the simplest things I write, whether for children or grown people, I always try to sow some seeds for freedom, truth, and humanity. S. J. May writes to me very warmly about the big book. He says he has commended it from his pulpit, as “the most valuable contribution to an enlarged, charitable, and true theology that has been made by any one in our country.” Of course, you will not understand him as meaning to compare me with such minds as Theodore Parker; but he considers my book more valuable than those written by many abler pens, because it is not written in the spirit of an opponent to prevailing false theologies.

You are right in supposing that while engaged on that work I “felt like an inhabitant of the second and third centuries.” Everything around me seemed foreign, as it did when I came out of Athens into Boston, after writing “Philothea.” That was a pleasant [78] ramble into classic lands; but this “Progress of Religious Ideas” was a real pilgrimage of penance, with peas in my shoes, walking over rubble-stones most of the way. You have no idea of the labor! It was greatly increased by my distance from libraries, nearly all the time, which rendered copious extracts necessary. How absurdly the Old Testament is treated by Christians! used for all convenient purposes, neglected whenever it is inconvenient! Moses is good authority for holding slaves, but not for the healthy practice of abstaining from the use of pork. . . . Most devoutly do I believe in the pervasive and ever-guiding Spirit of God ; but I do not believe it was ever shut up within the covers of any book, or that it ever can be. Portions of it, or rather breathing of it, are in many books. The words of Christ seem to me full of it, as no other words are. But if we want truth, we must listen to the voice of God in the silence of our own souls as he did.

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