He was always in converse with the Master in his early ministrations, in beautiful, far-off, peaceful Galilee. He was a contented and happy feeder upon the manna and wine of those early wanderings and preachings among a simple and primitive people; and was forever lingering away from Jerusalem, and avoiding the final catastrophe, which he could never contemplate without shuddering horror. No power on earth could ever convert his simple faith to the idea that this great sacrifice was an ill-devised scheme to end in final failure; and he preached accordingly. The elder Ridgeley had been dead many years; the simple faith had gained few proselytes; Uncle Aleck’s sermons made little impression, and gained nothing in clearness of statement or doctrine, but ripened and deepened in tenderness and sweetness. His people remained unpopular, and nothing but the force of character of a few saved them from personal proscription.
The Ridgeley boys, the older ones, were steady in the faith of their parents. Morris openly acknowledged it and Henry had been destined by his father to its teachings; Barton stood by his mother, however he esteemed her faith, and occasionally said sharp and pungent things of its opponents, which confirmed the unpopular estimate in which he was undoubtedly held.
The Markhams were orthodox. Dr. Lyman was a nearly unbelieving materialist at this time, but had several times “wabbled,” as Bart expressed it, from orthodoxy to infidelity, without touching the proscribed ground of Uncle Aleck.
Mr. Young was an obsolete revival exhorter, whose life did little to illustrate and enforce his givings out. He had a weakness for the elder Scriptures; and hence the irreverent name applied to him in the boat by Bart.
Among the adherents of uncle Aleck were the Coes, a mild, moony race, and recently it was understood that Emeline, the only daughter in a family of eight or nine, a languid, dreamy, verse-making mystic, had expressed a wish to receive the rite of Christian baptism, at that time practised by Uncle Aleck and his associates in Northern Ohio.