THE “PAPAL AGGRESSION” PROVED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE
A FUTURE LIFE
DISCUSSION OF THREE POINTS
THE ECLIPSE OF FAITH.
To E. B*****, Missionary in ------, South Pacific.
Wednesday, June 18, 1851.
My Dear Edward:—
You have more than once asked me to send you, in your distant solitude, my impressions respecting the religious distractions in which your native country has been of late years involved. I have refused, partly, because it would take a volume to give you any just notions on the subject; and partly, because I am not quite sure that you would not be happier in ignorance. Think, if you can, of your native land as in this respect what it was when you left it, on your exile of Christian love, some fifteen years ago.
I little thought I should ever have so mournful a motive to depart in some degree from my resolution. I intended to leave you to glean what you could of our religious condition from such publications as might reach you. But I am now constrained to write something about it. My dear brother, you will hear it with a sad heart;—your nephew and mine, our only sister’s only child, has, in relation to religion at least, become an absolute sceptic!
I well recollect the tenderness you felt for him, doubly endeared by his own amiable dispositions and the remembrance of her whom in so many points he resembled. What must be mine, who so long stood to the orphan in the relations which his mother’s love and my own affection imposed upon me! It is hardly a figure to say I felt for him as for a son. “Ah!” you will say as you glance at your own children, “my bachelor brother cannot understand that even such an affection is still a faint resemblance of parental love.”
It may be so. I know that that love is sui generis; and as I have often heard from those who are fathers, its depth and purity were never realized till they became such. But neither, perhaps, can you know how nearly such a love as I have felt for Harrington, committed to me in death by one I loved so well,—beloved alike for her sake and for his own,—the object of so much solicitude during his childhood and youth,—I say you can hardly, perhaps, conceive how near such an affection may approach that of a parent; how closely such a graft upon a childless stock may resemble the incorporate life of father and son.