From Miscellaneous Writings by

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Page 237

         The olden opinion that hell is fire and brimstone, has
         yielded somewhat to the metaphysical fact that suffering
         is a thing of mortal mind instead of body: so, in place
5      of material flames and odor, mental anguish is generally
         accepted as the penalty for sin. This changed belief
         has wrought a change in the actions of men. Not a few
         individuals serve God (or try to) from fear; but remove
         that fear, and the worst of human passions belch forth
10    their latent fires. Some people never repent until earth
         gives them such a cup of gall that conscience strikes home;
         then they are brought to realize how impossible it is to
         sin and not suffer. All the different phases of error in
         human nature the reformer must encounter and help to
15    eradicate.

         This period is not essentially one of conscience: few
         feel and live now as when this nation began, and our
         forefathers’ prayers blended with the murmuring winds
         of their forest home. This is a period of doubt, inquiry,
20    speculation, selfishness; of divided interests, marvellous
         good, and mysterious evil. But sin can only work out
         its own destruction; and reform does and must push on
         the growth of mankind.

         Honor to faithful merit is delayed, and always has
25    been; but it is sure to follow. The very streets through
         which Garrison was dragged were draped in honor of
         the dead hero who did the hard work, the immortal work,
         of loosing the fetters of one form of human slavery. I
         remember, when a girl, and he visited my father, how a
30    childish fear clustered round his coming. I had heard

Page 238

1      the awful story that “he helped ‘niggers’ kill the white
         folks!” Even the loving children are sometimes made
         to believe a lie, and to hate reformers. It is pleasant,
         now, to contrast with that childhood’s wrong the reverence
5      of my riper years for all who dare to be true, honest to
         their convictions, and strong of purpose.

         The reformer has no time to give in defense of his
         own life’s incentive, since no sacrifice is too great for the
         silent endurance of his love. What has not unselfed love
10    achieved for the race? All that ever was accomplished,
         and more than history has yet recorded. The reformer
         works on unmentioned, save when he is abused or his
         work is utilized in the interest of somebody. He may
         labor for the establishment of a cause which is fraught
15    with infinite blessings, — health, virtue, and heaven;
         but what of all that? Who should care for everybody?
         It is enough, say they, to care for a few. Yet the good
         is done, and the love that foresees more to do, stimulate
         philanthropy and are an ever-present reward. Let one’s
20    life answer well these questions, and it already hath a

         Have you renounced self? Are you faithful? Do
         you love?

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Love is the liberator.